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The Black Door
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2007 Velvet
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Chapter OneAriel sat at the polished oval conference-room table, along with her colleagues, and listened halfheartedly as the managing partner gave his weekly billing spiel. Ariel Renée Vaughn was one of three female partners at Yates Gilcrest, one of New York's leading law firms, with offices in every major city in the world. Bob's speech on revving up the firm's revenue didn't apply to Ariel, since she had two of the top billing clients on her roster, so she crossed her long legs and gazed out of the huge picture window. From her twentieth-floor vantage point, she could easily see the treetops of Central Park. With fall in full glory, the robust rust, ruby, and citrine hues of the leaves decorated the sky like a painter's colorful palette. Ariel's mind drifted off into a daydream.
She had come a long way from being that little foster-care girl living in a crowded house with five other parentless children. Her mother had given her up for adoption at birth, but she had never been adopted. Ariel spent her childhood drifting from one foster home to the next, until landing in the home of Mrs. Grant, a big-hearted widow who encouraged Ariel to study hard and make good grades so she could get into a good college and land a good job. And that's exactly what Ariel did. With a 4.0 grade-point average and stellar SAT scores, she landed a four-year scholarship to Columbia University and studied prelaw. Months before graduating from Columbia's law school, she was recruited by Yates Gilcrest as a junior associate, and worked diligently over the years, slowly making her way up the ranks. After ten years of hard work, Ariel had finally made partner.
With a hefty six-figure salary, a two-bedroom luxury condo in the ritzy part of town, and one of the most powerful judges in the city as her man, Ariel should have been on top of the world, but she had become restless lately. Something was missing, and she couldn't quite figure out what it was.
"And in closing"-Bob looked around the table at the bored faces staring back at him, waiting impatiently for him to wrap up the meeting-"let's not forget about the annual Lancaster benefit on Friday."
The Lancasters were one of the wealthiest families in the city, with a net worth approaching $1 billion, and the bread and butter of the firm. Every year, the matriarch of the family hosted a gala at the prestigious Waldorf-Astoria to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Attending the black-tie dinner was a must for all of the partners and their significant others.
"With that said, this meeting is officially adjourned."
Ariel gathered her notes and stuffed them into a thick leather-bound legal portfolio. As she stood, she smoothed the narrow pencil skirt that had gathered at her hips. Her figure was voluptuous with a perfectly round sister-girl butt, a full, overflowing C-cup, and a pair of knockout Tina Turner-type gams. Since she worked in an old-boy company with gray-haired staunch Republicans at the helm, Ariel hid her body underneath tailored blazers, buttoned-up blouses, and oversize sweaters to keep the attention focused on her brain instead of her body. She quickly buttoned her suit jacket to conceal the too-tight skirt and marched down the corridor to her corner office.
"Ms. Vaughn, here are your messages," Ariel's assistant said, handing her a stack of pink slips.
"Thanks, JoAnne," she responded, taking the messages.
Ariel closed the door to her office, parked herself behind the masculine mahogany desk, and thumbed through the telephone messages. One was from her Realtor calling about a pricey beachfront property for sale in the Hamptons; one was from her foster mother, Mrs. Grant, with whom she still maintained a close relationship; two messages were from her best friend, Meri; and one was from Judge Hendricks. Ariel and Preston Hendricks had been dating for years, and though they were in a committed relationship, the sheets had long since cooled off. He was like a worn-in pump-comfortable, without pinching your toes. Besides, they were the perfect match on paper. Both were financially secure and well respected in the legal community, and it was just a matter of time before Judge Hendricks threw his hat into the political ring. Ariel would be right by his side all the way to Washington.
She picked up the phone and dialed her foster mom's number. "Hey there, Mom," she said.
"How's my favorite daughter doing?" she asked, using her usual greeting.
"I'm good. Did you get the check I sent?" To the dismay of her foster mother, Ariel sent a monthly check that not only covered household expenses, but was enough for her to treat herself to anything she desired.
"How many times do I have to tell you to stop sending me money?" she scolded. "I get more than enough from the state for taking care of these babies."
"No offense, Mom, but you're getting too old to be changing diapers and running around after those kids."
"Well, if you gave me some grandbabies I wouldn't have to rely on my fosters to keep me company."
Ariel rolled her eyes. Since she had turned thirty a few years ago, Mrs. Grant had been hounding her to marry Preston and have a family. "Mom, I don't have time for babies, I've-"
"Well, I hope you have time for Judge Hendricks," she interrupted. "That man is going places. I saw his picture in the paper yesterday; he was at some kind of fund-raiser. He sho is one good-looking man; sort of reminds me of Mr. Grant when he was that age." Mrs. Grant's husband had died many years ago from a sudden heart attack and she never remarried. "You need to stop working so much and give that man more attention; men like him don't come around every day, you know."
Ariel had heard this comment more than once, and she was getting tired of the mild browbeating. "Yeah, I know," she simply said.
Mrs. Grant could hear the annoyance in Ariel's voice. "Look, baby, I don't mean to be a nag. I just don't want you to end up old and alone like me. Hear me when I tell you that being without a man is no picnic."
"Don't worry, Mom. I'm not going to let Preston slip away. I promise." She smiled into the receiver, trying to comfort the old woman.
"Judge Hendricks is on line one," JoAnne said through the intercom.
"Speaking of the devil, that's him calling me now."
"Well, get off the phone, baby, don't keep the man waiting. I'll talk with you later."
Preston's baritone voice boomed through the speakerphone. "Good morning, Ms. Vaughn."
"Judge," she responded. This greeting was part of their routine, and a reminder of how they met.
Ariel had been clerking for one of New York State's top judges, and on occasion would see a distinguished-looking gentleman rushing through the corridors of the courthouse with his black robe flying open and floating in the breeze. She learned that his name was Preston Hendricks, and he was a recently appointed judge. Though he was older, Ariel was attracted to his assertiveness and often sat and listened in the back of his courtroom.
From Preston's perch on the bench, it was hard for him to miss the attractive young woman with the mouthwatering breasts who hung on his every word. Divorced, with a grown son, he was ready to jumpstart his stalled love life, and she fit the bill perfectly. During a chance encounter in the elevator, he introduced himself as Judge Hendricks. And from that day on, they greeted each other formally until they began dating three weeks later. Though Preston was fifteen years her senior, he was a tiger in bed, showing her positions she never knew existed. She had only been with inexperienced younger men, and being with a more seasoned man was thrilling. His appetite for her was insatiable. He would bury himself between her thick thighs and suck her clit until her body shivered from one climax to the next. He would then fill her slippery wet vagina with his hard, thick shaft and pump them both into another realm of ecstasy.
Early in their relationship, they made love on a daily basis, often three times a day-morning, noon, and night. His ex-wife had been a rail-thin size four, with hardly enough tush for the push. So he absolutely loved Ariel's full-sized, curvaceous body, especially her plump, melon-sized 38-Cs. Often he would call her into his chambers, lock the door, and make her take her bra off underneath her tight sweater. The outline of her large, hard nipples pressing against the fabric drove him absolutely crazy. He would sit in his chair licking his lips and masturbating until he was on the brink of orgasm. It was like having his very own personal porn show. He would then pull her close and lift up the sweater. Ariel had a bright red rose tattooed on her left breast; the flower looked so real that he was always drawn to touch it before sucking and biting on her nipples, until he turned her over his desk, spread her legs, and fucked her from behind. But as the years passed, Preston's focus shifted from his sexual desires to his political agenda, and now if they made love once a month, that was a lot.
"How's your day going?" he asked.
"It's going. I just got out of a boring staff meeting, and Bob reminded us about the Lancaster fund-raiser on Friday. Remember? I had you mark your calendar last month."
"Yes, I remember. But I won't be able to attend."
She exhaled loudly. "What do you mean? All the partners and their significant others will be there, not to mention the Lancaster clan. And I refuse to show up without an escort," she fumed. Lately Preston had started putting her on the back burner and she didn't like it, especially since she was trying to be understanding and supportive of his career.
"I'm sorry, but I have to fly to Washington for a dinner meeting with Senator Oglesby. I know I promised you that I'd go, but the senator's office called just an hour ago, and when Senator Oglesby calls, you go, no questions asked," he explained.
Ariel knew that Preston's political aspirations were a priority, and that allying himself with the right party could take him all the way to the Supreme Court, but she still didn't like being put off at the last minute. "I understand," she conceded, with a tinge of sadness in her voice.
"Now, don't sound so heartbroken; I'm sure you'll have a great time without me on your arm. Look, honey, I've got to get back to court," he said, rushing her off the phone.
Ariel sat holding the receiver. She hadn't expected Preston to back out of the fund-raiser, and wanted to try and persuade him to push his dinner to the next day, but he didn't give her a chance. Now she was dateless with no prospects in sight. She decided to call Meri; maybe she had an extra man on the side that she could loan out for the evening.
Meri Renick was a golf-widow, though not the typical wife whose husband golfed in his spare time leaving his wife alone to fend for herself while he spent hours on the links with his friends. No, Meri was actually a widow, whose husband died on the ninth hole. He had had a massive heart attack on the golf course, leaving her his vast fortune. With no children to support, Meri spent hundreds of thousands of dollars overhauling her assets, until she once again had the perfect thirty-year-old face and matching body. Most evenings, Meri could be seen at a swank restaurant having dinner with a stunning hunk or two, or strolling down Madison Avenue with a beau on each arm. She offered no excuses about the younger men who kept her bed warm at night and even during the day.
"Daarliing," Meri purred into the receiver. "I was just thinking about you."
"And what where you thinking?"
"I was thinking that I haven't spoken to you in a while, and that it was high time we caught up over lunch and cocktails." They usually had a girly chat session at Meri's penthouse at least once a month.
Ariel had known Meri for ten years. They met when Ariel represented Meri in a divorce from her first husband. Initially, Meri was skeptical of the brash young attorney with the killer boobs and knockout body, but Ariel had come highly recommended, and after she negotiated a hefty settlement for Meri, they became fast friends.
"Sounds good to me." Ariel thumbed through her datebook. "How does next Tuesday sound?"
Meri hesitated for a moment, "Hmmm, let's see ... No, next Tuesday isn't good. I'm having dinner and dessert with Paul."
"And who is Paul, pray tell?" Ariel hadn't heard that name before.
"Only the most delicious man I've ever tasted. He's got the biggest cock I've ever seen. It must be at least twelve inches long, and as thick as a roll of half-dollars. I nearly choked to death the first time I went down on him," she said, without shame, as if talking about sex was the most natural thing in the world.
It amazed Ariel how free Meri was with the details of her sexual exploits. Meri was in her late forties, but had sex more than most twenty-year-olds. "Speaking of men, I need one for-"
"Don't tell me you and the good judge have finally called it quits. I've been telling you for years that he's just too old for you. Trust me. What you need is a young stud to rock your world on a daily basis." Meri was a proponent of sex; she believed that a regular romp in the sack kept the mind and the body young.
"My world is perfectly fine, thank you very much, but I do need a date for the Lancaster benefit. Preston is going to be out of town and I don't want to go alone. You know how pretentious that bunch can be. Everyone will have a date, and I don't want to be the odd woman out," she explained.
"Well, my dear, you've called the right person. Do I have the perfect solution for you!" she squealed gleefully, "You have to use my escort service; they have some of best and brightest, not to mention some of the finest, men in the city."
"Escort service?" Ariel asked, shocked. She knew that Meri lived on the edge, but didn't expect that she'd be involved with a seedy escort service.
"Don't sound so shocked. It's extremely classy, totally aboveboard and legal. I use them all the time," she confessed.
Ariel leaned her elbows on the desk and listened intently. "So tell me, exactly how does this work?" She had only heard rumors about this type of service and was intrigued to find out how they actually operated.
"Well, my dear, it's really simple. You call the private number and tell them the type of event you're attending and what type of man you need to complete your evening. Give your credit card information and the details of the pickup location," she said, rattling off the details as if she were giving her the ingredients for a casserole.
"Meri, you say this so casually, as if I'm shopping for a new pair of shoes, or a purse."
"In a sense, you are just shopping for another accessory. Except this accessory comes with fringe benefits!" She laughed.
"When you said aboveboard, I assumed you meant sex wasn't a part of the arrangement. I'm just looking for an escort, not a mating stud," Ariel said, making it perfectly clear that she didn't want to get involved in some kind of sordid affair.
"This is a strictly platonic service, but if you need a little maintenance, I have the connection for that too," Meri said slyly.
Ariel didn't want to admit it, but the truth was that she needed a tune-up in a big way. That was probably why she'd been so antsy lately. The last time she and Preston had had sex, it was purely uneventful. He just rolled on top of her in the middle of the night, slipped in his penis, half-humped a few times, and then rolled off and went back to sleep. She missed the passion that they once shared, but knew Preston was preoccupied. Besides, sex wasn't everything, she kept telling herself. "Are you sure this is a reliable service?" she asked skeptically.
"Remember the man I was with at the Whitney Biannual?"
"You mean the Richard Gere lookalike in the tailored Armani suit?"
"That's the one. Well, he wasn't a shipping magnate from New Zealand like I previously said. He was an escort," she said proudly.
"Shut up!!" Ariel was stunned. The man she met at the Whitney Museum was poised, well spoken, and a complete gentleman. If he was the definition of an escort, then she was sold, no more questions. "Okay, what's the number?" she asked, reaching for a pen and a piece of paper.
Meri spouted off the telephone number from memory. "Trust me, you won't be the only woman in the room with a date for hire. As a matter of fact, I'm bringing one of my old standbys. And as usual, I'll craft an impressive persona for him, and nobody will be the wiser. I suggest you do the same."
Excerpted from The Black Door by Velvet Copyright © 2007 by Velvet. Excerpted by permission.
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