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High Stakes, Hard Sell Ch. 02

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Author’s note:

Thank you very much for your response to chapter one – I truly appreciate the encouragement. This is a story about a consenting relationship between adults. Feedback is always welcome and gratefully accepted. Many thanks again to karaline for her patient editing and advice. And thank you again for reading!

*****

Buyer’s remorse was real. Jane had lost more than one sale because of it and she was determined to prevent it from scuttling the biggest deal of her life. She’d gotten through Mike’s front door and put down the groundwork for a productive and hopefully life-saving relationship. Now the hard work started.

Dressing for her first day of work was more challenging than usual. Mike would be working her hard – she had no doubt about that – so a meticulous face and wardrobe wouldn’t be practical. A full day of housework in heels would be excruciating. But based on how they’d left things on Friday there was no question that sex wouldn’t be far from his mind. Or hers.

He’d asked – commanded, actually – that she wasn’t to wear panties, so he clearly planned a peek or a feel, and that implied a skirt. Maybe even a short one. It surprised her how eagerly she was anticipating his advances. Well…perhaps it wasn’t that unexpected; the sex had always been great, back before everything had gone south. And despite all bad blood between them, the spark was still there.

After a lot of careful thought she decided to change things up and go with skin-tight, black yoga pants and a form-fitting, pink tank under a baggy, gray sweat-top that draped to mid-thigh. Plain cotton socks and sneakers. Comfortable to work in, flirty and entirely appropriate around a kindergarten-aged kid. Even without the panties.

**

Monday morning with Mike and Nessa she played it very low-key. Polite and reserved, she arrived at seven-thirty sharp and was formally introduced to a shy but endearingly curious Nessa, whose wide, brown eyes held more questions than her mouth seemed willing to ask.

Then Mike presented Jane with ‘the list’, a detailed rundown of the chores he’d assigned to her that day. He handed her the folded sheet of paper without preamble or apology, gave her the spare key to his apartment, then hustled Nessa out the door. Jane had offered them a ride but he declined.

Well, he’d left her a key; that had to be a sign of budding trust, right?

Standing alone in the front hall of the apartment she opened the paper and scanned her task list for the day. Laundry, including bed sheets. Bathroom. Nessa’s bedroom cleaned and dusted. Groceries – he’d left money for them on the kitchen table. The expected dinner menu was laid down in meticulous detail; Jane remembered that training for a fight required a specialized diet. Dishes after dinner, then a complete clean and disinfect of the kitchenette.

He was going to work her hard, as she expected. And although Jane wasn’t looking forward to the coming weeks of domestic servitude, she was buoyed by the knowledge that the age-old principle of reciprocity would work in her favour. She’d work her ass off and in return he’d feel an obligation to reply in kind. The harder she worked for him, the more beholden to their agreement Mike would become. Bye-bye buyer’s remorse. Every salesperson was part psychologist.

She tossed the list aside, kicked off her sneakers and shed her coat. She had all day to finish the chores, but first she wanted to explore a bit. You could tell a lot about someone by their personal effects, and she needed to know everything there was to know about Mike and his surprise daughter. She started in the kitchenette, opening drawers and cupboards, checking the fridge and freezer.

She could clearly see a woman’s influence in the kitchen utensils – Mike wasn’t the type to buy a melon baller or tea infuser. There were cookie cutters in a variety of fun kiddie shapes. Did Nessa’s mom enjoy baking for her daughter? That was useful to know.

The plates and cups were of the cheap bargain-brand variety but adorned with bright pink and purple floral patterns. Mike hadn’t bought them; he would have chosen plain white. Further back in the cupboard there were baby plates, plastic bibs and infant bottles. Nessa was five years old, so why keep these around? Had her mom been hoping for a second child? Had Mike?

Nessa’s mom had left her ‘fingerprints’ all over the kitchenette, but the fridge was all Mike’s handiwork. No butter, no coffee, no cream. No soft drinks. No alcohol. No sugary or salty snacks. No frozen pizza. No hot dogs or condiments. Food was just another part of Mike’s training regimen. Jane almost felt sorry for Nessa – nothing but depressing health food as far as the eye could see.

There were eight photos on the walls of the main room in addition to many pieces of Nessa’s painted and drawn artwork. All the photos featured Nessa smiling with a woman who had to be her mother. Mom appeared friendly and honest but plain-looking, and it caused Jane to speculate about what drew bursa escort Mike to this apparently unremarkable woman.

The only bedroom was larger than Jane had pictured but smelled musty. The white-painted walls were covered in messy, paint-and-crayon art pieces. A small, dirty window hid shamefully behind purple drapes. Nessa had a double bed with a few small stuffed horses and a dress-up doll. The thick comforter was girly and floral. There was a circular mini-trampoline in the middle of the room, and a tiny desk covered in paper, crayons and finger-paints. Just a single, child-sized chair at the desk. Nessa spent a lot of time playing alone, it seemed.

Like the main room, the walls of Nessa’s room were hung with pictures of her mom, smiling and happy with Nessa as a baby and as a toddler.

The pictures supported a growing suspicion: Nessa’s mom was dead. No mother would willingly abandon a happy life with her daughter. There wasn’t much chance a mother could lose her daughter in a divorce, either. That almost never happened. Only death would break that bond.

Jane was surprised at how sorrowful that thought made her. Her sympathy for Nessa grew. No kid should suffer a loss like that. It wasn’t fair. A good mother was a rare thing, after all. No one knew that more than Jane.

Mike obviously wasn’t the girl’s real father – he wasn’t in any of the pictures, and he would have been dating Jane at about the time Nessa was born. So how had he ended up here, with the kid? What had happened in the five years since she’d last known him?

Too many unknowns made her uncomfortable; she could feel them lying in ambush waiting to blindside her at an inopportune moment. She’d have to keep her eyes open.

**

“No! You can’t move like that; bishops can only move slanted,” Nessa scolded.

“Huh. Well, where do you think I should move?” Mike asked, a puzzled expression on his face.

“Move like this,” the girl said, picking up one of his black pawns and advancing it two squares.

The two of them were cross-legged on the floor, facing each other across a chess board. Jane was at the table peeling potatoes and looking up frequently to survey both father and daughter. They were an interesting pair.

The kid was impressive – still in kindergarten and already she knew the names of all the chess pieces and how they moved around the board.

Mike was impressive, too, but in a different way. He seemed to know how to make it absorbing and fun for Nessa, playing just well enough to create a challenge but dumbing himself down enough to give her confidence in her abilities.

Or maybe he really didn’t know how to play chess.

The girl had all his focus; he wasn’t playing with his phone or distracted by the TV. When she talked, he was listening. When she looked up, he was paying attention to her. When it came to the daddy stuff he was all business. Where had he acquired these parenting skills?

Even more amazing was that he hadn’t given Jane any attention at all – not a pat, grope or even a suggestive leer. She was mildly disappointed by his lack of interest. She needed his attention, but how to wrest it away from his daughter?

“Hey, are you allowed to do that?” Mike asked with a tone of exaggerated suspicion as Nessa knocked his rook over with her queen.

The girl giggled. It was an unabashedly gleeful sound and it brought an involuntary smile. Jane grabbed the peeled potatoes and added them to the pot of boiling water she had on the stove.

She’d forgotten what it was like to cook for a fighter. Instead of three meals a day, Mike ate a meal every couple of hours, often weird combinations of foods like three eggs and a tin of tuna, or two chicken breasts, brown rice and two cups of mashed potatoes. At least he kept Nessa’s diet more routine; meat, potatoes and salad. Jane got the sense that she’d be spending a lot of time preparing meals over the next few weeks.

“Dinner in fifteen minutes,” she said, and was struck by how domestic she sounded.

“Thank you,” he replied, not looking up from his game. “Pull up another chair, please. We can all eat together.” The table wasn’t big, but it could accommodate three people.

Jane was cautious during dinner. She floated a question about Mike’s day at the gym but he just shrugged and pointedly changed the subject. Apparently, punching and kicking people wasn’t a dinner conversation. Message received.

She was saved from any awkwardness when Nessa asked Jane whether she had any pets. It took some effort for Jane to re-calibrate her dinner conversation down to the level of a five-year-old, but over the course of the meal she was able to adjust, and by the end of it Jane was blithely discussing the relative cuteness of different sorts of dogs. Nessa was an easy enough kid to please, she decided. A happy kid, too.

After dinner Mike set Nessa up in front of a small TV and ran a DVD of ‘Finding Nemo’ while Jane started the dishes and disinfecting the kitchenette. Two more chores bursa escort bayan and she was finished for the day!

While Nessa was occupied with the movie, Mike moved to a bare spot on the floor and began a slow, controlled series of stretches and bends which Jane quickly recognized as yoga. She slowed her work on the dishes in order to watch his body move, muscles flex and relax, a look of intense concentration on his face. He had a beautiful, powerful body. Quite a treat to watch.

“I didn’t know guys did yoga,” she said lightly, more to get him talking than because she believed it. Hell, there were men in the yoga classes she’d taken. But she only had three days a week with Mike, and long silences weren’t productive. She’d read online that constant communication was essential to rebuilding trust.

“Boys and girls can do whatever they’re interested in,” he admonished; the proper, sanitized message for impressionable ears.

Fuck. Another slip-up.

“I meant…uh…I’m surprised that it’s part of your training,” she said, lamely. It felt silly to child-proof the conversation – Nessa was too engrossed in the movie to care what adults were saying.

“Yoga improves blood flow, balance, tone and flexibility. Helps me concentrate too,” he replied, but declined to carry the conversation any further.

“You’re good at it.” She tried again.

“Thanks.”

Dammit! He wasn’t biting on the conversation. She took a long, silent breath. This was only the second day. It wouldn’t pay to get greedy or impatient. And she’d get Mike to herself when Nessa was asleep; it just galled her that she couldn’t get useful conversation from him when the kid was awake. Five wasted hours from the time the kid got home until she went to bed.

She caught herself – that had been a terrible, selfish thought. Mike was a good dad and his focus was exactly where it should have been, on Nessa.

On Nessa.

And if Nessa wanted to talk…Mike would have to talk.

Jane almost laughed. She’d been taking the wrong approach. Nessa wasn’t an obstacle, but an unwitting ally!

She took a few moments to revise her tactics.

“You know,” Jane said, “there’s a Disney store down at the mall.” She tried to sound offhand, drying a plate absently.

Mike looked puzzled by the incongruous remark, but it hadn’t been directed at him. Jane watched out the corner of her eye as Nessa’s head swiveled away from the TV screen, eyes wide. Jane realized she’d been mistaken earlier; Nessa WAS listening to what the adults were saying. A good lesson.

“Really?” the kid asked with unconcealed excitement.

“Uh-huh. A pet store too. A few weeks ago they had some fish that glow in the dark.”

“Really?” Nessa repeated, almost a shriek. Nemo was forgotten.

“Which mall?” Mike asked. He’d seen his daughter’s reaction. NOW he wanted to talk.

Hook, line and sinker.

It was all Jane could do to suppress a victorious cheer.

**

It hadn’t been easy, but Jane managed to keep the conversation flowing for ninety minutes. Mike had been engaged the whole time; Jane had even extracted a genuine chuckle or two. She and Mike weren’t exactly bantering back and forth – not yet – but the interactions were comfortable and safe. When Nessa was smiling and chatty, Mike was interested and responsive.

True, there were no weighty matters discussed – that would come later, when Nessa was asleep. But she and Mike were talking. Mission accomplished.

Things had gone so well that Jane was having second thoughts about the ‘counseling’ part of the evening. It was certain to be a rough conversation with lots of pain and emotion. Maybe she should savour the small victory she’d won already and save the unpleasantness for another night? Small wins often added up to big wins over time.

She considered her options as she wiped the kitchen down with a weak bleach-and-water solution. Mike had put Nessa in the bath and now was reading to her as she lay in bed. He had the daddy stuff down pat.

Jane finished the last of her chores just as Mike finished with Nessa, closing the bedroom door most of the way and gesturing to Jane to keep it quiet. She stepped in close to Mike so she could whisper.

“All done. Could I grab a shower? I’m sweaty and smell like bleach.” It was no lie; she hadn’t worked so hard in a long time. Plus, she’d cleaned the bathroom herself that morning, so she knew it was sanitary.

He considered for a moment, then nodded and busied himself returning Nemo to his DVD case.

She took extra time in the shower. Nessa would need time to fall asleep and in any case the hot water felt so good on her aching muscles. She dried herself with a freshly-laundered towel and considered how to dress. She’d have to remember a change of clothes in the future.

What did she want tonight? She could do the counseling, ruin the good vibrations and then leave, or she could go out there flirty and see if Mike wanted to pick up where he’d left off escort bursa on Friday. A tough call – there were pros and cons both ways.

Maybe she could do both. Sex it up, cut through his defenses, then do the counseling. Why pick one when she could have everything?

She pulled on her yoga pants but decided not to bother with the bra or tank, and threw on just her extra-loose sweat-top instead. Decent enough, technically, and her breasts would play peek-a-boo with Mike through the extra-loose arm and neck holes of the top.

She crept out of the bathroom, feeling her unconstrained breasts sway as she walked. She started to feel warm; it was exciting to dress this way for Mike, not knowing how he would respond. Would it be like it had been on Friday?

He was sitting on the couch. When he looked up she saw his eyes linger on her erect nipples, clearly visible in outline under her top. Her own arousal rose even more in response. She stopped in front of him, still standing, looking down into his lovely eyes.

He stared up at her with an appraising expression for several moments, as though planning his next move.

“I assume you’re obeying the dress code?” he said in a low, don’t-wake-the-kid kind of tone.

Obeying? It had been a long, long time since anyone had accused her of that. But she couldn’t deny the truth – he was calling the shots, and would continue to until she had what she needed. It surprised her that a growing part of her wanted that. It had been five years since she’d had a strong man. She’d missed it. Maybe it was okay to take her hands off the steering wheel every now and again.

She nodded wordlessly. She felt the heat rise in her cheeks and spread through her.

“Show me,” he said, his voice quiet but certain.

Jane hesitated only a moment, then her fingers found the waistband of her pants and slowly lowered them to her knees.

His eyes held hers.

She straightened, then slowly gathered the material of her sweat top in shaking hands, lifting it in the front. She could feel cool air caress the exposed skin on her thighs, her sex, her abdomen. She held her top bunched against her navel, revealing herself to him, willing him to touch her. She imagined the thrill of his warm, calloused hands on her swollen pussy.

He lowered his gaze and she could almost feel the burn of it on her most intimate skin. Her breath caught as he lifted his hand and she widened her stance in anticipation of his touch. Gently he stroked his index finger along the outer lips of her slit, beginning deep between her thighs and sliding up toward her clit. Not penetrating, not dipping between the soft folds, just a tortuously slow, delicious caress. She closed her eyes, savouring the contact.

When she opened them his eyes had locked onto hers again. He held his index finger up so Jane could see the wet sheen her juices had left on it.

She released a shuddering breath; a quiet admission of her need for him. Why had her body surrendered so quickly?

He stood, crept to the door of Nessa’s room and peered in, then turned to face Jane and nodded. The kid was asleep. She could see the thick bulge in the front of his gray track pants; an obvious display of his desire. Jane hadn’t moved, she still had her sweat top bunched against her stomach, legs spread as wide as the elastic waistband of her yoga pants would allow, her neatly-trimmed pussy wantonly displayed. Waiting on him to decide how it would be tonight.

He approached her slowly and came to a stop in front of her, face-to-face. Bodies almost touching.

“Is this part of the counseling?” he asked in a low, teasing voice. At the same time, his fingertips found her pussy again and began a feather-touch caress up and down her outer labia. She gasped at the surge of heat between her legs and pushed her hips forward in search of more contact.

“No,” she breathed. “Just a part of my…domestic duties.”

“Ah. I admire your work ethic.” His middle finger parted her lips, gathered the copious moisture there and swept over her clit with a long, slow, gentle stroke. She groaned in response and sought him out with her left hand as her right continued to hold her sweat top against her stomach. She eagerly rubbed the bulge in his sweatpants with her palm, feeling his hard length through the thin cotton, then looked up into his face.

“How do you want me?” she whispered, the lustful tone in her voice was genuine. His middle finger was sending tingling waves of pleasure through her with every skillful caress of her swollen bud.

“Mmm. I guess it IS my choice, isn’t it?” he mused. His finger began to rub in tight circles over her clit. She could feel wetness on her thighs where his pussy-soaked fingers grazed her skin. Her legs began to tremble and she squeezed his cock through the pants.

“Yes,” she whispered.

“Yes?”

She closed her eyes, losing herself in the sensations. “Your choice. Anything…” she panted.

He took his hand away and stepped back, then sat on the couch with his head back and legs wide. She moved to join him but he held up his hand.

“Stand where you were,” he said, and Jane resumed her position, confused. Her slit throbbed, eager for a return of his fingers.

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