Natalie Smith had no idea at first that her entry-level marketing position at Selecta Corporation involved serving as a pawn in a game played by the company’s executives. In fact, when her manager first told her about that part of her duties, Natalie understandably thought Heather must be speaking metaphorically.
Everybody used literally wrong, after all. Even though Heather, just five years older than Natalie yet obviously on her way to the top, seemed like the kind of person who would understand the actual meaning of the word, Natalie prepared to stifle her instinct to point out the mistake and even to tease her new friend about it.
Heather, however, said, “You will literally be a piece on a game board.”
And Natalie almost giggled, and almost said, “What, you mean they have a big chessboard at the summer outing, and all the junior executives have to dress up as pawns and rooks and things?”
But then she thought that she didn’t know Heather all that well, despite already considering the pretty blonde twenty-six-year-old her friend. Maybe Heather would think Natalie meant to make fun of her.
So Natalie said, “I’m not sure what you mean,” making her face look puzzled and ready to take whatever advice her manager might have for her.
Heather laughed at that, so hard that Natalie grew alarmed that she had made some humiliating mistake.
“No,” the older woman said, holding out a reassuring hand to let Natalie know no grave sin had been committed, “it’s just your face… you tried so hard not to call me on literally.”
Natalie laughed herself, then, but she still felt uncertain what was going on, and it obviously showed on her face.
“The thing is,” Heather said, managing to contain her laughter with difficulty, “I mean, yes, there’s a board, and you’re literally going to be a piece on it—if you want, but it’s one of those things you can’t refuse unless you want to hit the glass ceiling in a hot second.”
The blonde woman’s mirth had died down. Natalie could tell that despite her initial impression of the notion’s utter ridiculousness, Heather meant to tell her newest hire something important, and perhaps unpleasant as well.
“Frankly, it’s really objectifying. I’m not going to keep that from you. But… this is Selecta, and you know what our core business is.”
That made Natalie look down at her hands as she sat in the chair facing Heather’s desk, in her boss’ corner office.
“Sure,” she responded slowly, “but they made it seem… I mean, Grace, the woman who recruited me, did… It’s not like I’m a New Modesty girl or anything.”
Selecta’s claim to fame and market share these days lay in the New Modesty program, recently given explicit backing by the federal government almost as a government in itself for the communities that lived under its aegis. On the outside, New Modesty was about traditional gender roles as a cure to some of society’s ills. On the inside, it involved a good deal of product placement and systems engineering that ended up lining Selecta’s coffers very nicely.
On the inside of the inside, Natalie had learned only upon joining the corporation’s marketing department, the New Modesty was about nothing as much as it was about sex—a particular kind of sex, one that paralleled the central idea of traditional gender roles quite closely. Bare-bottom over-the-knee family discipline, and a vigorous reminder afterward in bed of who wore the pants in that household.
Ropes and leather, straps and canes, for those husbands (a word applied to either sex, these days) who decided to employ such things in maintaining household order. Women who liked that, strange as it seemed.
Selecta, after all, had the world’s largest dataset describing submissive feminine sexual behavior, and a correspondingly large one recording its complement—the dominant sexual behavior of all genders, though with an emphasis on the masculine. The corporation had acquired this dataset through the operation of a facility called only the Institute, a part of the business so well insulated from corporate that Natalie couldn’t have located it on a map, let alone told someone what went on there. She assumed it was a standard nonprofit research facility, though the way people in the New York office talked about the place seemed to indicate that their research had some unusual component, which, well, of course it would, since it was about sex—that kind of sex.
Natalie’s face had gotten hot, but she tried to keep her expression neutral to happy: she loved Selecta. Well, really, she mostly loved Selecta and she definitely didn’t want to find another job, especially when all her friends could barely contain their envy that Natalie had landed this one. Moreover, when arranging her eyes and mouth in front of her boss, she lovedlovedloved Selecta.
“This isn’t about you needing to conform to any corporate standard, Natalie,” Heather said. Her tone of voice said that she had news to deliver with which she knew Natalie would have some trouble. Natalie couldn’t help drawing her lips into a tight line, but on the whole she thought that probably read as her getting serious about whatever her manager needed to tell her—thoughtful and ready to comply.
“Okay,” she finally said slowly, when a few seconds had gone by and it seemed like Heather wouldn’t proceed on her own.
“It’s about you being a good citizen of Selecta, as difficult as a corporate environment like this one can be to get used to.”
Natalie put a wrinkle on her brow, now, as she nodded solemnly. This is obviously going to be really unpleasant, but I’ve got it handled—facial-expression-wise, anyway. “Okay.”
“You’d better go see Javier Santos this afternoon. He’s the one who chose you.”
“Chose me?” Natalie’s cheeks burned and she knew Heather must see it. She would have given anything to have been able to bite back her words. Heather clearly meant her answering smile to reassure the younger woman, but Natalie could detect in it a consciousness of having the upper hand in this now very embarrassing conversation.
And Javier Santos? The vice president of marketing? Natalie’s boss’ boss’ boss?
“It’s almost, but not quite, as bad as it sounds,” Heather told her. “Mrs. Gordon will get you a slot on Javier’s calendar for today, and he’ll fill you in.”
Mrs. Gordon, the secretary on the fortieth floor who might well have been a dragon in a past life, told Natalie to have a seat on the couch outside Mr. Santos’ office. The older woman with the steel-gray hair looked at Natalie as if she knew something unpleasant about the junior executive.
Natalie had arrived five minutes early, of course, so she had to sit under Mrs. Gordon’s gaze with nothing to do while the secretary looked over the edge of her cubicle every now and then, each time with an expression that said, more or less, You have a lot to learn, Natalie Smith.
Finally Natalie couldn’t take it anymore. “Mrs. Gordon, do you know anything about this… I don’t know… game?”
Mrs. Gordon’s eyebrows went up, as if Natalie had just committed a worse faux pas than even her simple presence on the fortieth floor could constitute, a thing that would have seemed impossible to the administrator is she hadn’t just witnessed it for herself.
“I do,” she said.
“What is it?” Natalie blurted out, feeling her cheeks get pink.
Now Mrs. Gordon looked positively like a woman who had just heard the most offensive indiscretion she could imagine, from a girl who should have known so much better even if she hadn’t gone to New Modesty College.
“I think you should let Mr. Santos tell you about that,” she said frostily.
Thank God, the door of Mr. Santos’ office opened then. Natalie stood up hastily and turned to face him, smoothing down her cream top and her best pink midi skirt. At least she had most definitely dressed for success today: this same outfit had, she thought, gotten her the job. The women on the fortieth floor wore fabulously expensive dresses, of course—even the secretaries—but a twenty-one-year-old couldn’t be expected to afford that kind of thing, Natalie told herself.
“Miss Smith,” the tall, copper-skinned man with the neat beard said. He stood in the doorway of his office, seeming to tower over her though she sat at least a yard away from him. A pleasant, ironic expression occupied his dark eyes, but beneath it Natalie could see a deep seriousness and even an impatience with anyone who might threaten to waste his time. Mr. Santos held his elegantly manicured hands together in front of the flat front of his Oxford shirt, the left idly rubbing the knuckles of the right in a way that distracted Natalie so thoroughly she found herself almost unable to look away.
Among those hands, the flush induced by Mrs. Gordon’s strange attitude toward her, and the flustering effect of having to stand up so quickly, Natalie struggled to put on her businesslike smile, but she managed it.
“Mr. Santos, hi,” she said. “It’s so nice to meet you.” She put out her hand.
He chuckled, looking down at her hand for a moment before taking it. “We met at the cocktail party last week, actually,” he said as he gave a firm-but-not-too-firm squeeze and then released Natalie’s hand.
Her face burned and she lost her businesslike smile. She wanted to run to the big picture window in Mr. Santos’ office that she could see now through the open door and dive through the glass and into the street below. The only problem would be that she would still have to think about her incredible mistake on the way down. She had had three drinks at that party: what had she been thinking?
That I wanted to act natural, she thought glumly.
Her frozen expression came back to life at last. “Oh, yes. I’m so sorry. I…”
“You were pretty drunk, I think, Natalie. May I call you Natalie?” Mr. Santos said, the casual and forgiving tone of his voice somehow making it even worse.
Natalie couldn’t help it: she looked at Mrs. Gordon. The secretary had turned her face to her screen, but Natalie got the very distinct impression that the older woman had been looking superciliously at her, enjoying Natalie’s discomfort, an instant before.
She turned back to Mr. Santos, trying to remember the last thing he had said. Natalie. He wants to call me Natalie.
“Yes, of course,” she replied woodenly. “I’m… I’m so sorry, Mr. Santos… I…”
He laughed. “Call me Javier, please. It’s no big deal. You didn’t even break any crystal. Come on into my office.”
He gestured toward the door, and Natalie passed through it into the beautiful wood-paneled space that felt like a throwback to an earlier age of corporate opulence. As she walked toward the sitting area at the far end, by the big window, she tried to reassemble her businesslike smile. She had, she thought, moderate success, considering how remarkably quickly she had just descended a peg in her own estimation of her prospects.
She didn’t even want to think about what Mrs. Gordon thought on that subject. Administrators gossiped, too, didn’t they? Heather would absolutely hear about this awful moment.
The little Natalie knew about this ‘game,’ whatever that word might mean, comprised only Heather’s reference to Selecta’s core business, to objectification, and to Javier’s choosing her. Those pieces of information, put together, made her tummy flip over as she thought about them. Combined with the mental picture of the icy look on Mrs. Gordon’s face when she had brought it up, her confused ideas on the subject seemed to roil inside her and to generate a heat that went mostly to her face.
Mostly. Natalie focused as hard as she could on making a good impression with the vice president of marketing, and did her best to push her thoughts away from his piercing brown eyes and his, frankly, dashing beard. Tall men, she thought ruefully. At 5′5″, Natalie really wasn’t terribly small, though she kept in very good shape. Nevertheless, she could still think of Javier towering over her, and she still couldn’t suppress the little thrill that went through her whole body at the idea.
Javier closed the door behind them, a decisive sound that made Natalie start a bit despite herself, and turn around to face him, though nothing he had done really could have made her feel jumpy.
What he said next, though, made her think that she had sensed something underneath the encounter that Javier had kept hidden with his smooth exterior.
“You’d better go ahead and take off your clothes.”
Natalie’s face froze. Javier felt a twinge of sympathy for her; according to her extensive recruitment file, gathered especially from a deep analysis of her social media feeds, the girl had never let a boyfriend get to third base. Now she would quickly learn that at Selecta a lovely young marketing executive like Natalie Smith followed her boss’ instructions, even—especially—when they concerned the pleasurable uses to which her nubile body might be put.
The same analysis of the wealth of data Natalie had provided online had shown her new employer ample evidence that the girl possessed job qualifications concerning which she herself remained entirely ignorant. The psychobiometric assessment team attached to Selecta’s New York recruiting had returned a grade of Alpha for Miss Natalie Smith, in the area of repressed submission.
The same corporate laws that gave Selecta access to the most private data on social media and in the cloud allowed the corporation other important freedoms, for the good of their employees as Selecta defined that good. In the period before big data, such liberties would probably have seemed monstrous to many people, including the lawmakers who had felt compelled by social panic to pass the legislation, which they had billed as placing important restrictions on companies like Selecta. Now, with the nation functioning smoothly in the hands of its good corporate citizens, most regarded the virtual indenturing of a girl like Natalie Smith an important step forward in society’s ability to take care of young people who didn’t understand what was good for them.
“I’m sorry… what? I mean, Javier, what did you… I’m not sure I…”
Javier had felt absurdly attracted to the girl when she had gotten drunk at the cocktail party, and he felt if anything more drawn to her now. She had such well-developed corporate skills—now, for example, she had marshaled every line of her face to tell him that he could take back his off-color joke about her clothes without any loss of face.
If Javier pretended he hadn’t said it, Natalie wouldn’t sue, or press charges, even though she felt certain she would have Selecta over a barrel for the conduct of its VP of marketing. She didn’t want to have to find another job, after all, and she knew that even today a pretty girl had to put up with some objectifying treatment, even if she shouldn’t, in order to rise the way her ambition spurred her to do.
He smiled. The veneer of calm and competence on Natalie’s face, only slightly belied by the pink in her cheeks, aroused him greatly. The twinge of sympathy returned, but even if the girl’s file hadn’t told him she needed to learn the lessons he meant to teach her, his own dominant instincts would have given him the same information.
Natalie’s lovely hazel eyes went wide when she saw the smile on his face, and the facade of businesslike calm wavered again. The girl’s expression looked the way it had when Natalie had looked briefly at Gloria Gordon after Javier had come out of his office. Gloria must have made clear in her inimitable secretary’s way that to be chosen by Javier for the summer game meant a girl would receive a quick course in her boss’ masculine prerogatives.
“I think you heard me, Natalie. I’ve chosen you for a very special opportunity, but I still have time to change my mind and pick another girl, so I need to make certain you’re ready to do what’s necessary.”
Natalie frowned, and her upper lip moved very slightly, as if perhaps she had almost taken the lower one between her teeth. She seemed to try desperately to keep her eyes flinty, and to push away the little signs of sexual need that had begun to creep across her face as her body responded to Javier’s dominance.
He, however, could read them easily, especially in the tiny twitch of her nostrils that meant her attempt at an angry demeanor represented nothing more than a facade. Having refused her boyfriends the opportunity to rouse her thoroughly between her thighs, Natalie lacked the sexual experience that would have told her things about her body that she needed to know. Now her face betrayed the confusion in her mind, her heart, and her undoubtedly adorable pussy.
Javier didn’t have an obligation, either under the corporate laws or under the policies of Selecta, to go slowly with his new office girl. His strong attraction to her, though, the way he had wanted to take care of her at the cocktail party and spare her the consequences of her overindulgence—the way he wanted to take care of her now, though that care would involve awakening her young pussy on his terms rather than hers—made him want to take his time.
He had no intention of allowing Natalie Smith to leave his office a virgin this afternoon, but he also wanted her first experience of sexual discipline to represent the foundation of something more between them. Selecta executives tended not to have girlfriends, let alone wives, but Javier had a more traditional bent to his character. Though his fellow vice presidents probably wouldn’t ask their game pieces out after enjoying them over the next few days, Javier had already begun to think about where he could take Natalie for their first real date.
At the same time, though, his cock had gotten very hard in his impeccable charcoal gray trousers, and he knew precisely what Natalie needed. Their relationship, should it develop, wouldn’t run along traditional lines.
“Opportunity?” she asked weakly.
“The summer game is a very special occasion,” Javier said slowly. “It’s based on very old traditions—a game that goes back to ancient Rome.”
Natalie’s head tilted to the side, her eyes growing very puzzled. Whatever she had expected her boss to say, trivia about classical antiquities hadn’t featured.
He didn’t need long, though, to bring it back to the present, and what her visit to his office would mean for her.
“The game is called Discipline, and it’s for bosses to play, with young women as their pieces on a big outdoor board.”
Now her eyes went wide, and her lips parted.
“The pieces are naked at the start of the game, Natalie,” he said, bending his head forward to look steadily into her face. “That’s why you’re going to take your clothes off for me now.”
She looked up at him, eyes round as saucers, and took shallow breaths that stirred her chest distractingly. Javier could see the outline of one bra strap under the silky fabric of her prim but very nicely fitted blouse. He wanted to see that bra, and he wanted to see, and to hold, the pert, medium-sized breasts it held. His thumb and forefinger rubbed idly together in anticipation of squeezing her nipples for the first time, and seeing how the caress troubled her eyes and made them darken with passion, before he moved the hand downward to find the warm, sensitive place no man had ever touched.
“You…” Natalie tried, then swallowed hard. “You… can’t.”
“Oh, honey,” he replied with real gentleness. “I definitely can. We wouldn’t play Discipline at our summer outing if we couldn’t.”
Natalie closed her eyes, her brow deeply furrowed, at the sound of the word. She had of course always avoided thinking about the feelings those three syllables stirred in her, like so many young women when they began to realize just how badly they needed what it described. Having never encountered real discipline at home or in school, having instinctively shied away from thinking about the New Modesty even as she decided to seek a job at Selecta, Natalie Smith had performed a delicate dance of approach-avoidance, her subconscious finally bringing her here, where she would submit to her new master whether she liked it or not.
“I imagine, Natalie,” Javier continued, putting out his hand now to take a very light hold of her chin upon the upturned fingers of his right hand, “that you don’t perhaps have a very thorough understanding of the corporate laws, where they concern the maintenance of order in the workplace.”
Her eyes flew open at his touch, and she tried to jerk her face backwards, away from his hand, but he had her against the coffee table now, and he didn’t relinquish his gentle hold on her jaw, tilting her face up just a bit to look up into his dark eyes.
“Do you, honey?” he asked, letting his voice become a little mocking. “Do you know what a girl’s boss can do to her, if she’s naughty at work?”
Natalie’s face got very red, and crumpled into a mask of woe. Clearly she had indeed heard of this provision of the law, though Selecta’s frequent use of it didn’t feature prominently in the recruitment process. The analytics of the assessment team, working beneath the surface to identify the best candidates for the company, identified those young women who would benefit from Selecta’s corporal punishment regime even though many of them couldn’t admit it even after having their bottoms bared and spanked, paddled, or whipped at the office many times.
Javier waited, fascinated by the different emotions passing across the girl’s beautiful face, as she tried to decide how to respond. He thought he could see her on the verge of admitting that she knew what was about to happen, and then retreating into a continued attempt to resist the realization once, and then a second time: her forehead worked, her chin moved, and her lips parted and then closed upon words she obviously felt might make her position worse.
She didn’t understand, of course, that nothing she could say would alter her position at all—the only question was whether she would receive the first spanking of her life now, or in a few minutes.
The defiance won out, as Javier had suspected it probably would. Natalie Smith had a great deal of spirit to call upon, and a great deal of repression to deal with—if she had lacked either one of those characteristics, she would never have caught Javier’s attention, let alone made him think he would actually enjoy dating her.
“You need approval,” she said, clenching her hands at her sides into little fists. “Yes, I’ve read the statute—and I read my contract, which says you have to follow the law. You need approval from…”
He watched her struggle to remember the name of John Bollard, the executive vice president of Selecta, and fail.
“From someone,” she said, “and I get to have a female witness.”
“If you want one,” Javier said, nodding and moving his fingertips up her jaw at the same time, to caress her just below her ear as Natalie trembled like a frightened fawn. “Mrs. Gordon will witness your spanking, if you decide not to take your clothes off.”
“No,” she said, shaking her head. “My boss, Heather Young. I get to choose.”
Javier nodded again. “And Heather gets to say Mrs. Gordon will watch, in her place. And she will. Heather has been over my knee herself several times, Natalie. She knows that Mrs. Gordon is the right person to witness a girl’s punishment, if the girl wants a witness.”
He released Natalie’s chin and turned to walk back toward the door. He pictured Natalie’s face, the wide hazel eyes, as he opened it and said, “Gloria?”
“No!” Natalie said from behind him. “Please!”
“Never mind,” Javier said, winking at Mrs. Gordon, who looked up and smiled. “Thanks.”
He closed the door and turned back to the chestnut-haired girl who now held her hands up in front of her chest, palms turned outward as if to push him away though Javier now stood ten feet from her.
“Please don’t spank me,” she said in a little voice, and with a face that showed the reason for her plea lay not in fear of the pain his broad hand might visit upon her bare backside but in apprehension of how it would feel to submit to a man that way.
“I’m afraid I can’t promise you that, honey,” he said, walking toward her slowly. “But if you do as you’re told, and take off your clothes for me, I’m not going to spank you right now.”