5: The Party, or An Epilogue
**When he awoke, he opened his drapes. The sun was still up, but dusk was approaching. He felt at peace for the first time in years. Five years to be exact. He walked upstairs and into his office.
He pulled the old album of pictures down from the top of his bookcase and carried it downstairs into the den.
Dust puffed off the album as he opened it up. The first part was wedding pictures: Vicky was lovely; Marty had been his best man. Sebastian traced his fingers over the pictures, remembering how beautiful she had been and how much they had been in love.
But when she had betrayed him, he’d lost his anchor. She had been his reason for everything he did, so when she was gone, he was lost. Things were out of control and he couldn’t let anyone in. The only thing he took care of was his business, and half of that was out of spite or momentum more than anything else.
He flipped through the pictures. The founding of their business, the annual Halloween parties. He thought the pictures would hurt more, but today he felt invulnerable to that kind of hurt. There were pictures of Alexis in here — she’d been with him since the beginning, and was still with him. There, he thought, was a loyal and good woman. Dorcas was in some of the early pictures, too, with her husband. He was a stick of man, and she was a round, full-bodied woman.
He really should have settled the issue between her and James today. Putting it off did no one any good. He’d figure out a way to keep them both and keep them happy. He also owed an apology to Paula for skipping her new hire lunch. The first person to apologize to was probably Alexis. He’d leaned on her hard for the past five years, and hadn’t realized quite how much.
He looked over the pictures one last time; something about them bothered him, but not in the way it normally did. At least he could look at Vicky without being mad. But no, it was the pictures of Dorcas and of Hope, his cheerleader crush earlier.
He walked into the kitchen, setting the album on the counter. He saw his pill bottle there, and remembered that they had been different. He shook a couple of them into his hand and really looked at the little blue pills this time. “Ah,” he said. “I see.”
Two hours later he was parking at his office. Lights were still on inside, the party was just getting started. Mandy, one of the receptionists was at the desk, was dressed as Alice in Wonderland. Well, as a sexy Alice in Wonderland.
“Hi Mr. Eames!” she said.
“Hi, Mandy,” he said. “Can you tell me where Alexis is?”
“She’s back in the kitchen, the last I saw, Sir,” she said.
“Thanks,” he said. “Make sure you enjoy the party.”
“Here, Mr. Eames,” she said, handing him a domino mask with an elastic band. “Everyone has to be in a costume.” He smiled and pulled the mask on.
He walked back through the office. People were drinking and laughing. Someone had set up a small karaoke and dance floor and people were trying their hand at both. They all greeted him as he walked through, and he waved and chatted with folks as he made his way to the kitchen.
In the kitchen, his theory was confirmed. Alexis, turned slightly away from him, stood in a long cloak and death mask. On her left was a Naughty Nurse; on her right stood a cheerleader in ponytails. He stepped up to them, and crossed his arms. “So,” he said.
Alexis whirled around, “Sir!” she said. “You made it.”
“Well, let’s just say I just took a second look at my ‘sleeping pills’”
“Oh,” the Nurse said. “Those were my husbands.”
He turned to her, “Were, Dorcas?”
“He passed a year ago,” she said. “I thought… our timing was never right. You had Vicky, then I had Steve…” She ran out of steam, and blushed, staring at the floor.
He turned to the cheerleader, “You look just like my high school crush, Hope.”
“Wait,” she said. “Hope, Hope Marrin?” He nodded. “Oh, my God. That’s my mother.”
Suddenly Sebastian felt incredibly old. Hope must have had her right out of high school, but to think her daughter was old enough to be out of college. He shook his head. “Well, that explains the resemblance.”
“This is Paula Sexton,” Alexis said.
“Our email expert.”
Paula blushed at that. “Yeah, that’d be me.”
Sebastian turned to Alexis. “We need to talk. Privately.” He turned to the other women. “Sorry, ladies, but we’ll have to talk later.” He walked out of the kitchen, and down the hall to his office. He unlocked the door and held it open for Alexis. She slipped in, and pulled the mask off her face.
“Don’t be mad at them,” she said.
“I’m not. It’s pretty clear who the mastermind of all this was.”
“I had to do something!” she said. “I just couldn’t watch you keep getting worse and worse. I know you were working through your sleeping pills too fast.”
“So you thought you’d swap out my meds for Viagra and then have a bunch of women have their way with me?”
“You had a good time, didn’t you? How many times did you get off?”
“That’s not it,” he said. “Look, what if I did that to a woman? What would that be like? Drugging her and then inviting a bunch of men over?”
Alexis sagged, and fell to her knees. Her cloak sagged open, and he saw she was still wearing the corset from earlier, and not much else. “I’m so sorry, Sir, so sorry.”
“Why, Alexis? Why do this?”
Tears formed in her eyes and began trailing down her face. “I couldn’t do it anymore, Sir,” she said. “I tried to be strong, to be in charge for you. And I could do it for you, but I needed you to be in charge for me.”
He stepped close to her, and ran his hand over her head, pulling her against his hip where she knelt before him. She wrapped her hands around his legs and sobbed. “Will you ever forgive me?” she asked.
“Will you forgive me?” he replied. “I’ve been out of sorts for five years; I had no idea what I was doing to you.”
“I didn’t want you to know,” she said. “For the longest time. You were happy with Vicky, and I was happy to serve.” She sniffled, and he ran his hands through her grey hair.
He stood there in his office. His personal assistant, and perhaps submissive, kneeling before him. It was misguided what she’d done, but it was done out of concern and love, for him. Because she wanted to be his, and to be in his charge.
The fantasy had been fun. It had been five years since he’d even really touched anyone, and he’d started making up for that all in one day. He had no idea how he’d navigate the train wreck of relationships that would fall out of this, but it would be his to sort out. Alexis would have to help, of course, but he was in charge here — iit was his problem. If nothing else, Alexis was his employee, too.
He felt something settle in at the base of his spine, a sense of rightness of where he was at that exact moment. He stood a little straighter. He held Alexis close to him as she cried against his leg. Finally, he pulled Alexis up to her feet, and held her in his arms. He whispered in her ear, “We’ll figure this thing out, Alexis.” He brushed her tears away with his thumb, and then kissed her.
She returned the kiss, sagging with relief in his arms.. “Thank you, Sir.”
“But right now, we’ve got a party to go to and I’d imagine Dorcas and Paula are pretty worried about their jobs, and maybe more.”
“Don’t be mad at them,” she repeated. “I talked them into it.”
“I won’t punish them,” he said. “What I do to you remains to be seen.” She smiled a bit then blushed, and looked away.
He took her hand, and led her back into their party.**
As always, thanks to Kat Tortuga for doing a wonderful editing job, despite all the commas and my changes that add in errors; All remaining errors are, of course, mine, but the story is much better for her involvement in it.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this tale. Thanks for reading so far. Feel free to leave a comment, or drop my an email at email@example.com!