“Who is she?” hissed Estrella after she threw a handful of papers and mail across my desk.
I lunged for the papers as they went everywhere. Hate and Jealousy both hopped up out of the way. They didn’t snarl or growl at Estrella this time, but they aren’t very keen on her. Well, I guess I should have expected it. I mean, I’ve been spending all my time with her and they are Hate and Jealousy.
“Who is who?” I asked, even though I knew exactly who she was talking about.
“This woman you’re suddenly seeing. The one who came in here and did an exploratory on your mouth and throat with her tongue. Don’t act innocent with me.”
“I have been out with Artemis several times,” I replied as I picked up the scattered papers and folders from the floor. I tried to sound casual and indifferent.
“Artemis? Is this someone local or one of those whores who came down off the mountain with you?”
I stood up straight and threw the handful of papers onto the desk. I started to speak, stopped to calm myself, then started again.
“Artemis is The Virginal Goddess of the Hunt, The Goddess of Fertility, and one of the deadliest warriors in Olympus. I would suggest you watch your tone and your manners.” Estrella blanched at the steel in my voice. It sounded eerily calm and foreboding in my ears, apparently it did in hers as well. It was the calm before the storm. She smoothed her blouse and skirt with her hands, then tucked her red hair behind her ear so I could see that tattoo more clearly.
“Then where does that leave us?” she asked quietly.
“It doesn’t,” I replied. I looked at the tattoo with indifference. Just days ago, it wound me up and had me surging with emotion. I couldn’t think straight when I saw it. But now? Now I immediately thought of Artemis and everything that has transpired between us in the last two days. The tattoo no longer had its enchanted hold on me.
“It doesn’t?” Estrella replied. “Am I to pack up my desk and leave? I can’t lose this job, Dinlas, just because you found someone else to strap to your bed posts. I have bills to pay.”
I was getting tired of her tone fast.
“First of all,” I said, “when does a submissive demand answers from a Dom? We laid out expectations from the beginning and never did it say anywhere that I was your exclusive property. I considered maintaining our casual relationship regardless of Artemis, but I see that she isn’t interested in that sort of arrangement. Out of respect for her and our thousand-plus years of friendship, I am honoring those wishes for her and I to be in a monogamous relationship.”
Estrella’s face twisted in fury as she started to speak, but I cut her off immediately.
“If you wish to keep your job, then I am certainly not against it. You do excellent work and I don’t want to lose you. However, let’s make one thing perfectly clear. Just because you wiggled your ass in the air for me a few times, it doesn’t mean you own me. Are we clear?”
“I suppose we are,” she fumed. She tossed her red hair to the side and it looked like a halo of raging fire. Meanwhile her eyes were cold blue daggers and she was stabbing me in the chest repeatedly with them.
I sighed, then I reached out to take her hand. “Estrella, look, I am sorry. I never expected…”
“Get your damn hands off me,” she interrupted as she snatched her arm away. “I don’t need your apologies and I certainly don’t need your fucking pity. Save it for someone else.” We stared at each other for several moments. She put her hand over her mouth, turned, and fled from the office. I stood staring as I heard her careening down the iron stairway. Suddenly, I felt like my mother. All my life, she left a trail of used and devastated lovers in her wake everywhere she went. I don’t know how she did it, because I certainly didn’t care for the feeling.
I went to the door of the office and looked out. Estrella was at her desk getting her purse and car keys. She picked up the phone on her desk and a moment later, the intercom buzzed on my desk. Her tearful voice started.
“I’m not feeling well. I’m going to take the afternoon off. I will be in tomorrow.” She didn’t wait for my answer. She simply slammed the phone down and stormed out of the building. I watched until the door closed behind her. When I turned, I realized Tiffani and several others were both watching her as well. They smirked at one another concerning her sudden and obvious fall from grace. She had been cast back down among the plebes. They continued their grinning and chuckling until Tiffani glanced up and saw me watching. She immediately cast a warning glance at the others and wiped the smile off her face. I went back to my desk and lit a cigarette. Hate and Jealousy crowded in for their regular ear-scratching. I thought about what I just saw as I gave each of the girls their rubs.
“Are Tiffani and the others really that jealous of her? Or is there something else going on? Many of them started before Estrella. When was it? About the same time Markos came over from Uncle Heph, not that those two things are related. Most were brought over from a legitimate business that was in my protection scheme. So why would they be jealous of Estrella? Then there was Tiffani. She always seemed to be around. Always watching, listening, observing. I need to keep my eye on her. Something strange is happening here and I need to be careful until I got to the bottom of it.”
I ground out the last of my cigarette and kissed the girls on their heads.
“You two are my favorite girls,” I said as I hugged them both through their licks and playful nips.
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