It takes me the better part of an hour to finish Titus’ little “epilogue.” By pinning the knife between two cushions, I manage to slowly saw through the belt around my wrists and then undo the one around my ankles. Fuming, I storm over to the trash and am about to throw them away but stop.
“No. No, I’ll keep you,” I say to the belts, talking like a crazy woman. “To remind myself of this.”
But how could I forget? I’ve done a lot of things in my life, but this is definitely, without question, the most significant. Everything has changed. Before, I was the center of my own world, but now, even without being here, my world is ruled by Titus.
Should I call the police? Amy?
I have a backup phone in my bedroom, but I don’t even bother. What’s the point? The police won’t believe me. There’s no evidence aside from a chopped-up belt and some red marks on my cheeks – both sets.
And Amy? No. As I taste the lingering saltiness of Titus’ cum on the back of my tongue, I know that I just need to be alone.
I gargle mouthwash on my way to the shower, trying to comprehend what I just went through. Once inside, I lie down on the floor and spread out like I’m doing snow angels. That’s one bonus to having a shower larger than most peoples’ bathrooms. But I can’t enjoy it right now. Too much is going on in my mind.
Of course he made me swallow. His cum is in my stomach now. My throat is sore from his cock, and every time I take a breath, I’m reminded of choking on it. He barely had his hands on me, but I still feel the need to scrub myself clean as though somehow that will help erase the memory of what just happened.
But as I’m crawling out of the shower and wrapping myself in a towel, I try to banish all thought from my mind. It’s all too much. Too many contradictory ideas are swimming about like a stormy sea. Titus. Me. What he wanted. What I wanted.
God, I must be crazy. How could I have wanted any of that?
But still – there’s that mind-blowing orgasm he gave me. It’s almost shameful just how much I enjoyed it. The rest of the night, what happened, was like the start of a symphony, and my orgasm was the finale, conducted by him with his skilled hand. I can still feel the reverberations as I throw myself down in bed and close my eyes.
It takes me hours to fall asleep, but when I finally do, I’m haunted by dreams of Titus.
The next morning,I feel like I’ve run a marathon. A mental marathon.
Normally, I’m a morning person, but as I get up and get ready for work, I feel like a lazy teenager all over again. Or a college girl who’s been out all night partying.
My throat is sore, my wrists and ankles are red, but that’s not the problem; the problem is that I suddenly feel as though I don’t have a place in the world.
I’m Chanel Greene. I have my own company. I employ people. I make multi-million-dollar deals. It’s been years since I’ve felt off base. But thanks to Titus, the ground beneath my feet seems to be moving.
I start to transfer my e-mails and texts to my backup phone as I head down to the car. Having checked myself out in the mirror five times, I know I look fine, but I feel like a mess. As I go into the office, I feel like everyone is looking at me like they know. They all have strange looks on their faces too…
Did Titus say something? Maybe he exposed me as an epilogue to his epilogue? My heart is actually feeling like it’s ready to explode by the time I reach my office, and when I see Amy standing there nervously, I almost turn right around and run for the hills.
“What the hell?” I hiss, keeping my voice low. “Why is everyone looking at me like they just found out I’m a serial killer?”
Please don’t be the answer I’m expecting.They couldn’t possibly know. Not unless Titus ran his mouth or made some kind of social media post about last night.
“Ummm, there were four dozen roses delivered today,” she whispers, moving slightly aside so I can see. Sure enough, flanking my desk are four bouquets of pink roses. And they’re absolutely beautiful.
“From who?” I ask, pushing open the door and stepping inside. The whole room smells amazing. This is just what I needed after last night. There’s a note on my desk. I pick it up and open the envelope and almost fall over.
“Titus,” I say simply. I already know. Still, I read the note.
Had a great time last night, MLW. Let’s do it again once I own your company. Then you can really be mine.
“T,”I mutter. “He fvcking signed it T.”
MLW? What is that all about? Those aren’t my initials.
“Titus?” Amy asks. “Like…Titus Industries, Titus?”
I nod. “Mmm-hmmm.”
“Wow.” Amy sounds impressed. If only she knew.
“So last night’s meeting must have gone well?” she asks. “I tried calling, but it went straight to voicemail.”
“My phone kind of had an issue…” My voice trails off as I understand.
MLW. My little wh0re. Instantly, my entire body begins to tingle, and I feel myself starting to blush.
Blushing. At work!
“Fvcker,” I gr0an, crumpling the card into a ball. I turn to Amy, who looks, for once, confused. “Take these out of here.”
“Where do you want me to take them?” she asks.
“I don’t care. Just out of here. Not even in the building. Incinerate them if you have to.”
Thankfully, Amy knows better than to ask. She just nods and backs out of the room as I slump down in my office chair and start going through my e-mail. I need something to distract myself, but of course, the first e-mail is from Titus. I can see by the subject line that I don’t even want to read it. Probably another offer to buy out my company or another taunting little message like the one on his card.
I go through the rest of them, including the ones that I would normally leave to Amy. I even browse through my spam folder – anything to keep my mind busy and my eyes off the flowers.
They are beautiful…but how did he know?
“Amy?” I ask, pressing the button on my desk. Two seconds later she’s walking through the door.
“How – did Titus talk to you about these? The roses?”
“Someone from his offices called,” she replies. “A girl. She asked if you had a favorite flower because he was planning a surprise to celebrate you closing the deal?”
“Closing the deal!?” I blurt out before getting myself back under control. So it wasn’t enough that he humiliated me like that last night – now he has to go around telling everyone that he’s devouring my company? “Amy, will you get him on the line for me, please?”
Man, am I going to bitch him out. I’m good at telling people where they can stick it, but usually in a relatively courteous and professional kind of way. But Titus is going to get it. Honestly, I kind of wish he was here so I could do it face to face.
“Chanel?” Amy says from the door. “I—he won’t take your call.”
“He says…that if you want to talk to him, you’re going to have to go to his office and speak to him in person.”
It’s as though someone just pressed pause on the entire world. My body goes tense, and I freeze. Anger grips me tighter than Titus gripped me last night and holds on. It’s as though there’s a fuse lit inside me, and I’m about to explode. No one has pulled this kind of power-play on me in years.
This is the kind of thing I had to deal with when I was first starting out. Men didn’t take me seriously. A female businesswoman setting meetings and making demands? I was laughed at. But I sucked it up at first, knowing that later on, when I was in a position to do so, I’d make those men pay.
And it worked. I put many of them out of business and absorbed others. I remembered each and every one of their smiling, arrogant faces and used it as fuel to drive me on. Now I’m respected. Now everyone takes my calls.
Everyone but Titus.
“Have the car ready,” I tell Amy, my voice low. There were times I wish I was a man, and this is one of them. So I could go over there and kick Titus’ smug little ass. God, that would be nice.
I’ve never met someone so infuriating in my entire life. Somehow, he seems to understand me perfectly. He knows just what buttons to push to get to me…or what button to push to get me off. Honestly, I don’t know what to do.
I’m halfway out the door when it hits me. If I go over there now, I’ll be playing right into his hand. He isn’t holding the cards now; I am. He wants to buy my company, not the other way around. I don’t want to be in business with him. I have no desire to be bought out, owned, dominated by him.
At least not in the business world…
“What!?” I snap, talking to myself like a crazy woman. “You don’t want him to dominate you at all!”
Maybe I’m lying, but I say the words anyway. I still have my pride, don’t I?
“Cancel that, Amy. I’m staying in.”
“Okay.” She nods.
I go back into my office and sit down.
My office. I built this company up from nothing, and if I’m going to lose it, it’s going to be on my terms. I’m not going to be told what to do by Chuck and Bradley, and I’m not going to be bought out by Titus. I’m going to turn things around, and if not, I’m going to be like that band on the Titanic and go down with the ship.
I spend the rest of the day pouring over my records with my financial team, talking to my lawyers, trying to figure out how we can salvage the situation that we’re in, but in the end, they all come to the same conclusion.
I have to sell.
Even if I pour my life savings back into the company, that would only keep us afloat for a month at best.
“This wasn’t something you could have foreseen,” they tell me. I know that, but it doesn’t make things any easier.