My stomach growled loud enough to wake the dead. With a groan, I turned over and lifted the covers to block out the bright light streaming in through the window. Since when did the sun have the audacity to rise this freaking early? I curled up into a small ball, tighter and tighter as I tried to force myself back to sleep, but a loud clamor downstairs made me open my eyes again. I sighed, the last vestiges of a restful sleep fading away into nothing.
I was so hungry.
When was the last time I ate anything? Yesterday? The day before that?
Sure, it was nice being on my own, but it had its drawbacks. It was far better taking care of myself than living at Tammi and Bryan’s house. It’s not like they offered much in the caretaker front anyway. They were just fostering girls like me so that they could get the tax write-off. We meant nothing to them otherwise.
On my own though, coming by consistent food was becoming harder and harder. Already my clothes were fitting so much looser than they had before.
At least I’d found a comfy bed to sleep in at night.
After I’d run away, I’d crashed on a couple of friends’ couches along the way, but I’d made sure not to overstay my welcome. When I’d stumbled on this old mansion late one night, I’d assumed whoever lived here had gone on vacation or something. I’d watched it from outside, seeing no sign of life.
Eventually, I mustered up the courage to sneak in. The place was abandoned. Sheets covered all the furniture and a thick layer of dust coated anything that wasn’t. I couldn’t believe my luck.
I hadn’t meant to stay here long, but one day turned into two, then two became three until it had been three months.
I grabbed my cell phone off the nightstand. It was cracked and several years old, but it had been a gift from a friend. I could buy minutes occasionally. I wasn’t much of a phone person though, so I hadn’t needed to in a while.
I sighed when I saw the time. It was later than I thought—nearly lunch already.
The stairs creaked and I jolted up in bed. Quickly, I gathered my things and dove under the bed right before the door to my room opened. I covered my mouth, trying to stay quiet.
Three people walked in together. I didn’t know who they were. For all I knew, they could be drug lords or gang members. Maybe word had spread on the street that this place wasn’t occupied, and I was going to have to find somewhere else to go.
“How many bedrooms is it?” a female voice sounded.
“Seven. The master bedroom is on the main level at the back of the house,” a man explained.
I hung my head, keeping silent as my body sagged against the floor in relief when I finally realized what was happening. These people weren’t criminals or anything of the sort. They were simply a real estate agent and an interested couple that was looking to buy a house. More footsteps sounded on the stairs. More voices talking about the layout of the place, the number of bathrooms, you name it. One lady even asked which direction the house faced. Another was talking about painting the walls bright pink.
From under the bed, my stomach growled again and the three people in the room stopped short.
“Is that the house settling?” one of the men asked and the woman cleared her throat.
I covered my face in embarrassment.
“Maybe old pipes or something like that. This place was built in the early eighties with only one owner. He did some renovations since then, to my understanding, but this place might need a bit of work before it’s move-in ready,” the real estate agent explained. I prayed that my stomach would remain quiet long enough for them to leave the room so I could make my escape.
I needed to walk into town and see what I could find to eat. Occasionally, I’d be able to get a meal from the homeless shelter or the women’s sanctuary kitchen. Sometimes, the pizza place in town saved extra food. One of the chefs had taken a liking to me. Whenever he was there, he would slip me something if I knocked on the door in the evening. He didn’t work all the time though. I was pretty sure Saturday was his day off.
I chewed my lip. Maybe I could wash dishes at the diner in exchange for lunch.
The three people finally walked out of the room and I slumped down, pressing my forehead to the carpet. When all was quiet for a little while, I snuck out from under the bed and slipped down the back stairwell and out the rear entrance. I’d deliberately chosen that bedroom to live in because of its easy exit just in case anything like this ever happened.
The property went on for several acres and when the coast was clear, I ducked into the surrounding woods and used the trees for cover. I went the long way to town, making sure to give the mansion a wide berth so that I didn’t run into anyone along the way.
I decided to give the diner a try first. The woman who owned the place was an older lady with a bitter expression painted on her face, but I knew her to be kind. She sighed when she saw me walk in. I sat down at the counter in the corner, making sure to pick a seat that wasn’t usually taken by paying guests.
“Hi there, Miss Ethel,” I offered with a soft smile.
“How are you doing today, Cami?” she grinned. Her eyes were full of pity. I hated when people looked at me like that. It made me feel like something worse than a sewer rat.
“I’m well, thanks for asking,” I quipped, and she disappeared into the kitchen for a moment before coming back out with a plate of food in her hands.
“You’re in luck. The table back there sent this back because one of them is allergic to tomatoes and forgot to mention it, so we had to make another. This one is still warm,” she offered.
“I can help clean up this afternoon, if you’d have me,” I smiled. As much as I needed the food, accepting free handouts was really hard for me and I did it as little as possible.
“Sure thing, Cami. There’s always room in my kitchen for you. First, though, you’re going to eat every bite of that chicken sandwich. I don’t want to see anything left on your plate before you head back to give Tony a hand. You’re looking too skinny these days,” she said, her concern hardening her voice a little.
I popped a French fry in my mouth.
“You got it. Thank you, Miss Ethel,” I said.
She nodded and started wiping down the counter. I dug into my meal enthusiastically, knowing that she would be watching to make sure I was eating. The diner was a small one, but not necessarily one with a lot of patrons. I’d have asked her for a job ages ago, but I knew that she didn’t have the capital to hire someone like me. It was just her and Tony running this little place.
True to her word, the sandwich was still pretty hot. I ate it all, reveling in the feeling of a full belly before I took my dishes into the back.
“Hey, Tony,” I called out, hoping not to startle him.
“Hey there, Cami,” he smiled warmly. He was a kind older gentleman, his accent thick and very Italian. He always greeted me with a smile and a word of welcome. Every time I was around him, I felt at ease, sort of like he was the grandfather I never had.
“Ethel said you could use my help today?” I offered.
The part about Tony that I appreciated the most was he never looked at me with pity. To him, I was just another human being and that was refreshing.
“Want to get started on the dishes?” he asked.
I nodded. He turned the knob on his radio up higher. They were playing nineties music and an Avril Lavigne song started. I was humming along to it when Tony started singing the lyrics out loud.
I stifled a chuckle, hazarding a glance back at him. He winked, and I couldn’t hold back my laugh after that.
I remained at the diner well into the evening hours. Tony and Ethel insisted that I stay for dinner, and they wouldn’t let me leave until I ate a slice of her homemade apple pie too, with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. I was so full by the time I made my way back to the mansion that I knew I probably wouldn’t be hungry tomorrow.
There was no one at the house when I slipped inside. There were donuts and muffins on the kitchen counter, and I wrapped a few in some paper towels to hide in my bedroom. I slipped into the bed and curled up under the blanket, trying not to shiver. Thankfully, someone had turned the heat on, and soon enough, I was comfortably warm in my bed. I set the alarm on my phone, wanting to wake and get out before anyone showed up to see the house again.
The house went through several showings that week. Sometimes I hid in the house, but most of the time I managed to slip out unnoticed. That Friday though, I was hiding in my closet when a man came walking through with his real estate agent.
“The space has potential. This is far bigger than my place in California, but it would bring me much closer to home,” he mused. His voice was gruff, a bit growly and I peeked between the slats of the closet door. From what I could make out, he was pretty tall. Maybe six foot two or three, if I had to guess. His hair was a dark mahogany, and thick like a lion’s mane. I guessed that he was in his mid to late thirties. A beard covered his chin, well-groomed and trim. There were two long scars that cut across his forehead and the left side of his cheek. I stared at them for a while, wondering how he’d gotten them. I watched him closely, almost mesmerized by his strong stance and confident demeanor, as if the scars weren’t even there.
“It’s been on the market for quite a while. It’s overpriced in my opinion for its current condition. The original owner passed away and the house was left to his two children who want to get as much as they can for it,” the agent explained. I glanced at him for only a second, but my gaze was drawn back to the other man.
“Have there been other offers?” he asked.
“Not that I know of. Most everyone that has walked through wants something move-in ready at this kind of price point, Mason,” the agent said thoughtfully.
I let his name roll off my tongue in silence. I liked it.
“I’m not afraid of getting my hands dirty. Plus, this place used to mean something to Hudson, right? If I fix it up, maybe I could bring some of that back,” Mason said.
“I think you could gain a lot of value in a property like this as long as you get it for a reasonable price,” the man replied.
“Let’s do it. Let’s send a cash offer that you agree is fair. I’m not really afraid of paying a little more to get the ball rolling. I want the timeline shortened though. Once this place is mine, I want the keys by next week,” Mason said bluntly, and his agent nodded.
“Got it, boss,” he grinned.
When they moved out of my room, I covered my mouth to suppress a gasp as the reality of the whole situation finally hit me. He was going to buy my home.
I’d have to find somewhere else to go.
I slunk back in the closet, hiding behind several boxes for a few hours until I was certain that the house was empty. The loss of my home left me feeling rattled and sad. I’d grown comfortable here. There was no way some rich man would let a homeless orphan stay here without paying some ridiculous rent that I couldn’t afford. I had no way of making money anyway.
No one would hire a girl like me.
Getting a job without a home address was impossible. I hadn’t thought to take my birth certificate or social security card when I ran away, and I found out later that I needed them for everything here. I hadn’t been able to find anything that paid cash or under the table yet, but I kept looking anyway.
When potential jobs had asked for paperwork, I’d just taken to promising to bring them next time and never returning.
My phone buzzed in my pocket.
Hey, stranger! Party at Jacob’s tonight. Hope to see you there! Eddie was asking about you, so wear something cute.
It was a text from my friend Sophie.
A night out would be fun. Maybe it would take my mind off the doom and gloom of my current situation. She always made the yummiest cocktails out of whatever she had in the fridge, and it had been some time since I’d had one. I got out of bed and changed into one of my nicer outfits. I’d been able to take some of my clothes from my foster house and I’d lucked out on finding a bag of clothes left outside the goodwill box that happened to be mostly in my size. I didn’t like to think that I’d stolen it, just that I’d taken advantage of an opportunity when I’d come across it. One of those outfits was a nice black dress and a pair of patterned leggings that went well together. I slipped them on and put on my chunky boots. I went into the bathroom, splashed water on my face and combed out my hair.
I had one lipstick still and used it to turn my lips a dark burgundy. By the time I was done, I felt human and maybe even a little bit pretty.
With a deep breath, I lifted my chin a smidge higher.
I made my way out of the house through the back exit. There was an old bike I’d found on the property that I jumped on and rode down the road. I kept my head down as cars passed by. No one stopped, but I hadn’t expected them to. No one looked twice at me. They never did.
The ride to Sophie’s was about forty-five minutes by bike. By the time I got there, my legs were tired, but I was looking forward to seeing my friends. I wheeled my bike up onto the porch and knocked on the door.
Sophie opened the door and a round of applause sounded from behind her. I grinned.
“Cami’s here!” Sophie called and they got louder.
“I take it your parents are away for the weekend?” I smirked and she gave me a knowing look.
“What they don’t know won’t hurt them,” she sassed.
“Let’s party then,” I replied with a chuckle.
“We already started. You’re late,” she exclaimed, and someone shoved a drink in my hand. I took a sip, deciding that I was going to enjoy myself and I would figure out the rest of my life next week.
I didn’t go home that night or the day after. I was having too much fun with Sophie to deal with the overwhelming state of my own problems. On Sunday morning, we were eating a bowl of cereal together and I mentioned having to find a new place.
“I can talk to my parents. Maybe you could stay here with me?” she offered, and I shook my head.
“I don’t want to impose or anything,” I answered. She looked at me with disappointment, but she didn’t press the issue any further.
“What’s the deal with Bryson Manor? I thought they said that place was never going to sell,” she said as she hunted in the freezer for a box of Eggos. “Want one?”
I nodded exuberantly. I liked them a lot.
“Yeah. Well… Apparently, some rich guy came in from California and he’s going to buy the place,” I explained.
She leaned against the counter, running her fingers along her chin. For a moment, she looked deep in thought and her face lit up.
“What about squatter’s rights? Have you ever heard of that? Supposedly if you live somewhere long enough, they have a hell of a time trying to evict you. I looked it up one time and it’s something like thirty days here in New York State. You have rights and maybe if you play your cards right, you could end up with a big ole house,” she suggested.
I stared at her for a long moment. “I’m sure if he has money that he can use whatever legal team he has to force me out,” I answered lamely.
“Maybe. But you never know if you don’t try,” Sophie replied. “Worst case scenario, it doesn’t pan out and you end up moving in here with me. I’ll just tell my parents that’s how it is.”
“Sure thing. Then you’d end up grounded forever,” I scoffed.
“Nahh. They like you. They think you’re a good influence on me and all,” she laughed.
“Oh, yeah. I bet they love me,” I chuckled.
“Hey, you finished at the top of the class senior year. That’s what they like, not someone like me who is average and middle of the road. They only tolerated me taking a year off before college because you were doing the same thing,” she said.
“My cover story is going to need some work if I’m going to move in here,” I snorted.
She lightly punched my arm. “We’d help you get things figured out. You don’t have to worry. My mom loses her shit all the time. We’ll just tell her that you lost yours too.”
I laid my head on her shoulder as she sat down beside me. “You’re a good friend, you know,” I replied.
“I know. That’s why you keep me around,” she winked.
I didn’t go back to Bryson Manor until Monday morning. Tired, I slipped back into bed only to be awoken by the sounds of footsteps banging on the stairs. I tried to move quickly, but I was slightly hungover and the world was spinning a little bit. The door to my bedroom opened and I cried out in surprise when a tall dark figure walked in.
Fuck. My. Life.
It was Mason. His gray-blue eyes found mine, opening wide with surprise.
I could have kicked myself. I probably had bedhead and there were likely bags under my eyes from several late nights in a row. I wiped my cheek, hoping that I hadn’t drooled in my sleep. I was only slightly relieved not to find anything.
“Who the hell are you?” he demanded.
“Cami Davis,” I said softly. I searched his expression, trying to read what the right next move was. I expected anger, but I didn’t sense any. He looked more confused than anything. He glanced around noticing my things on the floor, my cell phone on the nightstand, a glass of water beside it. I curled my knees up into my chest, staying silent as I waited for him to make the next move.
He pulled his shoulders back and leaned against the doorframe. His initial shock had faded, and he was peering back at me with interest now.
“My name is Mason Pierce. You’re sleeping in my house,” he said. He didn’t say that as an accusation, but more of an observation and I relaxed just the tiniest bit.
“I am,” I answered. I licked my lips.
“How long have you been sleeping here?” he asked next, narrowing his eyes as he tried to assess the situation that was currently me.
“For a while,” I replied.
“Where are your parents?” he asked gently.
“Dead,” I said flatly.
“How old are you?” he questioned softly.
“I just turned nineteen last month,” I murmured. I’m not sure why, but I felt self-conscious about telling him my age. He cocked his head to the side, appraising me as he tried to figure me out. I worried my bottom lip with my teeth, searching his face. I kept looking for any hint of anger or resentment but found none. Would he lash out anyway? Was he that type of person?
“I bought this house. I’m moving in today,” he declared.
“I claim squatter’s rights,” I blurted out so fast it made my head spin.
He was silent for a long moment, still very clearly trying to figure me out. “Are you hungry?” he asked.
I swallowed anxiously, but my growling stomach answered for me.
He glanced down at my belly, and then back up into my eyes quickly. He smiled softly. “How about this? Come down to the kitchen when you’re ready. I’ll have my driver pick up breakfast for the two of us,” he offered.
I narrowed my eyes suspiciously. I didn’t trust him.
“It’s only breakfast. I promise. Maybe some nice conversation too, but mostly just breakfast,” he said simply.
I’m not sure why, but his demeanor seemed gentle enough to be comforting in a strange way. He was a perfect stranger to me, but my gut told me that I was safe with him, that he wasn’t going to hurt me. I hugged my arms around my chest. Nothing about him screamed danger. Sure, he was a rich man who bought this house with a massive amount of cash, but he mostly seemed like a normal person to me, at least on the surface.
“Will there be coffee?” I asked.
“Most definitely. Would you like a particular kind?” he asked.
“I just like mine with vanilla creamer and a little bit of sugar,” I answered.
“I’ll make sure my driver gets that for you,” he smiled. His easygoing demeanor put me on edge. No one was ever this nice to me. When they were, they typically wanted something that I wasn’t willing to give. My guard drew back up.
“I don’t have money to pay you,” I muttered, feeling more than a little embarrassed and more on edge with every passing second.
“I wouldn’t accept it even if you did, Cami,” he replied gently. My stomach growled again, and he smiled, his eyes kind. “I’ll see you shortly?”
I nodded, still searching those gray-blue eyes for any hints of danger. He smiled at me, as if he could sense my uneasiness. He nodded once and shut the door behind him, leaving me alone. I listened to his footsteps descend the stairs and fidgeted in bed. Suddenly, the silence of my room seemed more than a little overwhelming. I chewed my lip.
I was a bit dumbfounded at his response. For a moment, I stared at the door. He’d never moved from his position beside it. He hadn’t raised his voice or struck out at me. I’d expected him to, but he’d done none of those things.
I climbed out of bed, a bit in awe. Should I take the opportunity to run? Should I stay and go down to talk with him? Should I chance it?
With a deep breath, I walked into the bathroom and decided to start with something simple like just brushing my teeth.
I’d figure out what to do after that.
I leaned against the kitchen island and let all the air in my lungs rush out in a single whoosh. Today was move-in day. After a few hours of tense negotiation over the weekend, I’d offered enough money to make the sister and brother happy. I’d wired them the cash right away on the condition that I could move in immediately. Today, I had expected to uncover all the furniture and take stock of what I wanted to keep or get rid of. What I had not foreseen was finding a malnourished young woman sleeping in one of the beds upstairs.
I sighed and dragged my hand down my beard. I didn’t know what to do about her. A part of me wanted to help her. Her face looked gaunt. From what I’d seen, she was far too skinny and her eyes were full of more sadness than a girl should have inside them at the young age of nineteen.
A part of me just wanted to be rid of the potential headache her presence could cause me, but I really didn’t want to do that either.
Right now, I wasn’t even certain that she would come downstairs. Her eyes had been as big as saucers when I’d opened that door. If I had taken one step into that room, I was pretty sure it would have made her flee in an all-out panic.
I sighed, trying to mull over my options in my head. I’d already texted my personal assistant to go get the two of us something to eat for breakfast. I’d put in my order, which was far larger than usual, and he’d asked if I was hungry. I’d replied with ‘something like that.’
I pulled the sheet covering the kitchen table off of it, which was a gigantic mistake I regretted pretty much instantly. Dust flew up into the air as I let it fall to the floor. I coughed and rushed to open a window. That was by no means an easy feat either. It stuck fast from disuse. With a loud grunt and a whole lot of upper body strength, I finally got it to budge.
“If you open that door over there, you can get a nice cross breeze, which should help with all the dust,” a small voice said from behind me and for some crazy reason, I was relieved to hear it. She hadn’t run away after all.
“That’s a good idea. Want to open it for me while I try to clear out my lungs?” I said, coughing slightly as I did so.
“Sure thing,” she beamed. She gave me a wide berth, still clearly wary of me. I walked over to the sink, found a glass, and turned on the water. The faucet sputtered a few times, but eventually a clean stream of liquid splashed into the sink. I rinsed the glass several times before filling it up and taking several big gulps. When my throat was clear, I made my way back over to the table. I took a seat, leaned back, and watched her with curious interest.
“Breakfast should be here soon. You got ready faster than I thought you would,” I said with a gentle smile. I didn’t want to scare her away.
“I’m pretty low maintenance,” she replied nervously. Her cheeks pinkened just a little at my observation. She was really quite beautiful when she smiled like that.
She stepped a little bit closer, just catching the sunlight in a way that made her pretty sage-colored eyes sparkle. Her hair was long and thick, a gorgeous mane of mahogany that shone with life. I wondered if it was as soft as it looked. She was tentative as she walked over to the door and opened it wide. There was a screen in place. A cross breeze swept through the room, just like she’d said it would.
A bit less warily now, she made her way back and sat down in the chair across the table. It was also the one farthest away from me. She peered in my direction, not exactly bold enough to look me right in the face, but curious enough to try.
“You must be pretty rich to afford a place like this,” she ventured.
“I own a tech company. I design software for electric cars, robotics, etcetera. Boring stuff, but it pays really well when done right,” I said lightheartedly. She smiled.
“You’re moving here from California?” she asked.
“How did you know that?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.
“I might have been hiding in my closet when you walked through the house the other day with your agent,” she blushed. She fidgeted in her chair, and I swallowed hard.
Naughty girl. She was really quite adorable when she blushed though. The longer I spent with her, the more curious I was becoming about who she was, why she was here, and where she would go if I turned her away…
“Were you now?” I raised an eyebrow and her cheeks reddened even more. My fingers twitched and I pressed them down on the table.
“Why move to New York?” she asked, very obviously trying to direct the conversation away from her. I decided to let her, at least for now.
“I’m from here originally. I own my company and much of what I do can be done remotely. I missed home and New York is that for me,” I answered.
“Did you come here alone?” she asked carefully.
“I did,” I replied. I didn’t explain fully, but I had plans to establish myself here and eventually run for office here in Hudson. I’d expected to buy a house, fix it up, bring more tourism here to upstate New York, and build a good life here. Maybe one day meet a woman and start a family, but I wasn’t in any rush for that. A homeless young woman was not in the plan, but here she was sitting at my table anyway.
“I want to know more about you, Cami,” I pushed. “How did you end up living here instead of your home?”
“I don’t have a home,” she muttered. She chewed her lip and took a deep breath, seemingly deciding to tell me her story in one full breath. “I’m an orphan. My parents died when I was little, and I had no other family, so I grew up in the foster care system. I ran away when I was eighteen. I’ve been making it on my own ever since,” she rushed.
She wasn’t exactly making it in my opinion. She was too skinny. She looked so tired. She needed help and the sudden urge to take care of her overcame me. I took a deep breath, ignoring that feeling as best I could.
“Are you still in high school? Starting college?” I asked.
“I have my high school diploma. I hadn’t planned on going to college because I can’t exactly afford it,” she replied. My jaw tensed in aggravation, not at her, but at the situation she found herself in. I drummed my fingers on the table. I found myself staring at her lips and when I realized what I was doing, I turned my eyes back down to the table.
The door opened and my assistant walked in with several bags of food. I hadn’t known what Cami would like, so I’d had him order the whole breakfast menu from the local diner. He bowed his head and left the room, leaving the two of us alone once again.
“This is from Miss Ethel’s place,” she said excitedly.
“You know her?”
“Yeah. She lets me help out in the kitchen sometimes. She’s really nice,” she added.
“Do you spend much time in town?” I asked.
“Yes. Sometimes the restaurants have extra food. My favorite is the pizza place. Sometimes they make mistakes and I get the extra food if I show up at night,” she smiled.
That was no way to live.
“What about the homeless shelter?” I inquired.
“It’s full most of the time. They run out of food if you’re not one of the early ones in line and the beds are awful. The ones here are old, but so much better,” she replied. She licked her lips, staring at the bag as if she was waiting for my permission to serve herself.
When she lifted her gaze to me, I was certain she was, and my cock hardened pretty much immediately at the sight.
Fuck. Get it together, Mason. She’s fifteen years younger than you, you fool.
“Go ahead. Dig in,” I said, only just able to hide the strain in my voice. Thankfully, it appeared that she didn’t notice in her hungry excitement.
I watched as she opened the first package. Inside was a breakfast sandwich of some kind and she dug right in without even really looking at what was in it. I slid her coffee across the table after adding cream and sugar to it.
“Thank you,” she offered. She took a tentative sip of the coffee and grinned wildly. “Oh, that’s delicious!”
“Good,” I replied.
I found a simple omelet with sausage and peppers. There were sides of bacon and sausage as well and I ate several forkfuls of eggs as I watched her eat. She was quiet as she chewed. She tried to be polite and take small bites, but it was obvious she was really hungry.
I considered what to do with her. It was clear that she had a place here in this small town and my public reputation was important to me. It would be in very poor taste to take this young girl to court over her claim of squatter’s rights, and it would look even worse for me if I just kicked her out on the street. To be honest, neither of those were options I would even remotely consider anyway. I wasn’t an asshole. Dragging this young girl into court would be a dick move. Not only would it be a major hassle, but she didn’t deserve it anyway. She hadn’t damaged the property at all. There wasn’t a single broken window or graffiti or anything like that. She’d simply used it as a place to live.
This girl had no one. No family. No home. Nothing.
I had this great big mansion all to myself. Maybe her company would be a refreshing change from living here alone. I tried to tell myself it would be the kind thing to do, but a tiny selfish part of me wanted to get to know her a bit better too.
“I have a lot to do in this place to bring it back to life,” I began again, and her eyes lit up.
“My friend Sophie and I like to watch those home renovation shows on television sometimes. There’s so much you can do in a house this big,” she smiled. Her eyes sparkled with possibility. I hadn’t noticed earlier, but she had a cute little dimple on each cheek.
I tapped my fingers on the table. In that moment, I made my decision. “Cami, I’d like to make you a deal. I’d like to ask you to stay. I’m not going to kick you out, but I have a few requests that I’d like for you to agree to before you accept,” I said quietly.
She blinked and pulled back just a hair. “What do you mean?” she asked timidly. Her wariness had returned tenfold.
“The first condition is that the upstairs wing where I found you sleeping would be your wing for your own personal use. I won’t disturb you there. With that being said, the rest of the house will be for my individual and business use. When I am working, you are to entertain yourself and stay out of my hair,” I said.
She studied me for the longest time before she answered. “That sounds reasonable,” she replied. She was sitting on the edge of her seat. She didn’t know what to expect and I could read it all over her face.
“The second is that I’d like your help in updating and designing this place. I think a woman’s touch would make it homier rather than something of a bachelor pad,” I continued.
She cocked her head, trying to read between the lines. “I’d like that,” she finally said. She fidgeted in her seat and took a sip of her coffee. I studied her expression. Her uneasiness had faded a little more. I wondered if she had any aspirations for her future, but I didn’t want to push too much, not yet. She was guarded, maybe rightly so.
“What do you think? Does that sound fair?” I asked.
“Is that all?” she asked nervously.
“Yes. Those are my only conditions,” I replied quickly.
“I won’t be able to pay you,” she added. There was definite shame in her voice, and I didn’t like that one bit.
“I didn’t ask for money, did I?”
“No,” she replied softly. She bit her lip and my cock hardened at the sight.
Caught off guard, I looked away quickly and swallowed hard. That was unexpected. I sighed and turned back to her, only to see her watching me fretfully.
“Can I ask you a question?” she asked tentatively. Her eyes kept glancing at the scars that marred my face. I knew what she was going to ask before she even said a word. I’d seen that look on countless faces.
“You want to know where my scars come from,” I offered with a smile.
“Were you in a knife fight or something dangerous?” she quipped.
“No,” I chuckled. “It’s nothing like that. When I was a boy, I went out camping with my dad. We stayed up late, roasting marshmallows and telling scary stories. One of the campsites close by had forgotten to tie up their extra food and I heard a girl yell out. I rushed to help, thinking maybe she was hurt, but I saw a fifteen-year-old girl standing almost toe to toe with a bear. I thought I was indestructible at that age and when the bear reared up, I got close enough to push her out of harm’s way. She didn’t get hurt luckily, although I ended up taking his paw across my face instead. My dad hadn’t been far behind me though, which was lucky for me. He shot his gun into the air and that was enough to scare it off.”
“A bear,” she echoed. Her eyes narrowed and I could tell that she was trying to decide whether she believed me or not.
“Yeah. I named him Smokey. He’s still out there somewhere in the Montana woods,” I chuckled.
She smiled in return, and I could tell she felt more at ease.
I sat back and took a sip of my own coffee. “I have an appointment with a contractor shortly. If you’re still here tonight, I will take that to mean you’ve accepted my offer,” I said firmly.
She nodded and took another bite of her sandwich. I took several large mouthfuls of my own meal before standing up.
“I hope to see you for dinner tonight. If not, I understand,” I said more gently this time. I took the rest of my coffee in my hand and strode off, but I knew she was watching me with every step.
I tried to ignore the way my cock strained at the thought of her eyes on me like that.
A girl like her should be off limits to a man like me. I should know better.
After he left, I sat there at the table for a long time. I poked through several more of the meals, tucking away much of the leftovers and putting the rest away in the empty fridge. He’d ordered so much for just the two of us that it would last me well over a week.
His offer seemed too good to be true. Why would he want a girl like me running around his house? Was it just charity? Would he want something else?
I sat back down at the table and pressed my hands to my face. I didn’t know what to do.
To be honest, I didn’t have a whole lot of options. I’d more than overstayed my welcome at several of my friends’ places and I didn’t want to cause Sophie any issues with her own family when they already had plenty of those. The homeless shelter never had any extra beds, and I really didn’t want to live on the street with winter coming in just a couple more months.
I could take Mason up on his offer and if anything ever started to feel off or dangerous, I could run. That would give me time to come up with some sort of backup plan.
I felt drawn to him for some reason though, like I could trust him even though I didn’t really know him.
I’d been watching him at breakfast. I’d noticed when his jaw tensed or when he pressed his palm to the table. He’d been studying me too. I’d felt his gaze every time I’d looked away.
I wasn’t a stranger to desire. I’d seen it in his eyes. I’d felt it too.
My body was warm. His presence had done things to me that I hadn’t wanted to accept while he was in the room with me, but when I squirmed against the seat, I knew that my panties were wet. My nipples also felt highly sensitive, and I wanted to take my bra off and touch them more than anything.
I wasn’t a virgin. I’d lost that several years ago to some dickhead named Tommy who just wanted to fuck me and then brag to the whole school about it. When I’d confronted him about it, he’d gone on the defensive and started making fun of me, saying that my tits were nothing special and I was a bad lay that wasn’t worth his time.
I’d had a few boyfriends after that, but nothing serious. I’d had sex with some of them, but none of them had ever made me orgasm. They were sloppy, fumbled around, and lasted maybe thirty seconds or a minute max. None of them had even remotely known where my clit was. None of them had been worth it.
I’d taken to just taking care of myself whenever I needed it. I’d gotten pretty good at using my own fingers to get myself off and right now more than anything I wanted to touch myself. I felt awfully shy about knowing that he was in the house though, and I ignored my need as best as I could.
When he’d drummed his fingers on the table, I’d been at a loss for words. Immediately, the image of those same fingers pressing between my thighs had come to my head unbidden.
I couldn’t think like that. A man like that would never be interested in a girl like me.
With a heavy sigh, I got up from the table and went back up to my room. I’d packed up most of my things into my bag and hidden it during all the open houses and showings, so I started unpacking that mindlessly as I weighed my options in my head. I uncovered all the furniture and put some of my clothes into the dresser. My wardrobe was so small it only filled a drawer and a half.
In the end, there was only one choice unless I wanted to sleep outside on the streets tonight. I told myself that was the only reason, but I knew I was lying to myself.
The truth was that I was curious about him. I wanted to know more.
I padded over to the window and saw him outside. He was pointing to the eaves of the house and to the south wing where I never really ventured. There was an indoor pool there, but it was empty and unused. There was a sauna room that wasn’t maintained either, as well as a room for massages, neither of which were of much interest to me in their current state. There was a big theater room though, which would be neat to watch a movie in if Mason decided to fix that up too.
I opened my door and walked downstairs to see a multitude of people working in the living room. A cleaning crew had arrived and was making quick work of the sheet-covered furniture. Some of the older damaged pieces were being hauled outside, but some of the nicer antique ones were left behind. More than one vacuum was powered on, all while several people started to scrub every surface imaginable.
I quickly made my way to the backyard and paused when I rounded the corner. Mason was still there with the man I’d seen before. They were talking over several plans to update the kitchen and bathrooms and I stayed back, just listening to the sound of Mason’s voice.
Eventually I grew self-conscious, and I stole off into the woods. There was a treehouse built up in one of the taller trees. It was hidden by the leaves still, but I knew it wouldn’t remain that way. I’d stored a few things inside it—like several books and crossword puzzles to keep me busy on days where I couldn’t hide out in the mansion—and I was thankful for them now.
I picked up a romance book I’d read at least a dozen times and started from the beginning, but I wasn’t really paying attention, at least not really. Occasionally, I’d hear Mason’s voice carry on the wind and it brought me comfort.
My phone pinged in my pocket.
So? What’s the deal? Are you moving in or what?
It was a text from Sophie.
This rich guy bought the house. He started moving in today.
Is he hot?
I shook my head, unable to stop myself from laughing. She was awful. Sophie was boy hungry. She’d never been single for long and loved sex more than anyone I knew.
He is! I knew it.
He offered to let me stay here after I told him I was claiming squatter’s rights.
Sure thing, Cami. You know he just wants a piece of that booty.
I blushed. That just wasn’t possible. I wouldn’t get my hopes up.
He probably just feels bad for me.
I didn’t even have to see it, but I knew she was shaking her head and calling me silly right now.
I doubt it. I expect updates, Cami. Let me live vicariously through you as you realize that your Prince Charming has finally found you.
That’s not real life, Soph.
I rolled my eyes. Seeing that it was shortly after five, I made my way out of the treehouse down to the ground. I wandered back to the house, which was still abuzz with activity. I walked in the front door, and no one stopped me, which was slightly surprising.
The fresh scent of lemons and oranges surrounded me. The hardwood floors sparkled, and the thick air of dust had lessened by a considerable amount. Many of the windows were open and several trucks were driving away loaded up with furniture and garbage.
I looked around and was taken aback by the cleanliness. It no longer felt like an abandoned mansion, but something more akin to a home.
A man cleared his throat and I started. Mason was leaning against the doorframe, watching me.
“I didn’t think I’d see you for dinner,” he said softly.
“I’d like to stay,” I answered hesitantly.
“Good. I had hoped you would. I replaced the locks on all the doors and had a key made for you,” he explained.
I watched him slide it across the table in my direction.
“Thank you,” I whispered. I stared at that metal key. For some reason, seeing it made me feel even more at home. Hesitantly, I walked toward him and picked it up. He watched me closely, but he made no move to approach me.
“Dinner tonight will be simple. Spaghetti and meatballs sound okay to you?” he asked.
“Yes. I’d like that,” I smiled.
“Why don’t you sit down? It’s almost ready,” he grinned.
“Okay. I’ll do that,” I beamed. Maybe this would all work out after all.
Over the next few weeks, Mason and I settled into an easy rhythm together. He insisted on eating breakfast and dinner with me, which meant that I never had to go searching for a meal. The fridge was always full of fresh fruit and vegetables, which was pretty incredible after living on my own for so long.
There was one time I didn’t finish the food on my plate, and I still remembered the way his voice had raised enough to make me squirm. It hadn’t been the words that he’d said, but the way that he’d said them that made me feel like a very scolded and naughty girl. I’d sat there, blushing and indignant, eating the rest of my dinner while my clit throbbed with unwanted desire.
That night, I’d gone to bed needy. I hadn’t dared to reach my fingers between my thighs because I knew it would be him that I would be imagining if I came that night.
It had almost felt like he’d been warning me, but with what, I didn’t know.
The next night, I purposefully didn’t finish my plate, simply because I wanted to see what he would do. His gaze felt heavy on me as I sat back. He glanced at me and then back to the handful of bites still right in front of me.
“Finish your dinner, Cami,” he instructed. His voice was firm, like he expected obedience and I didn’t much feel like giving it.
“I’m full,” I scoffed, and his jaw tensed. He sat back, appraising me. His darkening gaze made me feel uneasy, but not in a bad way. One thing was certain though. It made my needy little pussy come alive. I crossed my legs.
“It would make me very happy to see you finish a few more bites,” he finally said. The stern expression on his face disappeared and I realized that disappointed me in a way. He looked more concerned now and I really didn’t like that.
“Okay. Just a few more, but only for you,” I muttered.
“I appreciate that,” he smiled. He was silent as I ate more off my plate. I looked up to see a relieved expression on his face, and I felt more at ease.
“Tomorrow, I’d like to send you shopping with my assistant. I’ve told him that you’re going to be helping me spruce up this place. I’ll pay you for your help, of course.”
I glanced up at him while chewing another bite of my food. I swallowed and took a sip of water, trying to cover up my disappointment that he wouldn’t be taking me himself.
“Okay. What do you want me to pick out?” I asked.
“New furniture for the living room. Dining room. Cute fixtures for the kitchen and other rooms. Whatever you like, really. I want you to help me make this place our home,” he continued.
I turned my head to the side. My body was so hot right now.
“Got it,” I replied, smiling quickly.
Much of the house was under construction now. The pool had been fixed up, along with the sauna, theater, outside landscaping as well as big kitchen upgrades and bathroom updates.
He’d only renovated some of the wing I lived in, mainly ensuring everything was in working order so that he didn’t disturb my part of the house. I’d moved into a slightly bigger bedroom with an attached bathroom complete with a soaker tub about a week after I’d agreed to stay. I’d cleaned it all up myself and a few days later, I’d found a basket on the counter. It was full of a variety of soaps, bath bombs, and bubbles to enjoy.
I’d shyly told him thank you that night and he’d just smiled and thanked me for my help in cleaning up the place. I didn’t dare ask how much the set had cost. He didn’t seem like a man who would buy cheap things. I chewed one more bite thoughtfully, before setting down my fork and deliberately leaving two heaping forkfuls on my plate.
He licked his lips as if he was restraining himself from saying something. His fingers flexed, opening and closing several times until he sighed heavily. I watched his Adam’s apple bob up and down as he swallowed hard.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what you pick out tomorrow. I have an early morning meeting, so I likely won’t see you for breakfast. I expect to see you here for dinner though.” He smiled tightly.
I stood up and left my plate behind. I wanted him to know I wasn’t going to obey him simply because he’d told me to, and also because I wanted to see if I could push him far enough to do something about it.
Would he throw me up against a wall and kiss me?
I remembered that stern look and the way he’d clenched his hand though. I turned back just in time to see him glancing down at my bottom and that same stern expression was back.
Maybe he wouldn’t kiss me. Maybe he would spank me.
I sucked in a breath and flew out of the room, horrified at myself for thinking something like that. I rushed up to my room and hurriedly shut the door. I leaned up against it, whining softly as my clit throbbed insatiably. I bit my lip and slid my hand beneath the stretchy band of my yoga pants. I gasped when my fingers slid through my folds, and I discovered just how wet I was.
I closed my eyes, circling my clit as the image of him taking me over his knee flashed before my eyes. He’d be gentle when he positioned me and when he took my pants and panties down, but his palm would be hard as he taught me a lesson by giving me a spanking that I’d more than earned.
I snatched my hand away from my pussy, horrified at myself for the twisted thoughts spiraling through my mind. Why would a thought like that arouse me?
I’d never been spanked before. I was always the good kid who did well in school. I tried to make my foster parents happy, but they were never really there and mainly lost themselves in drugs or work or whatever they did to make themselves happy.
There was one memory that I’d never forgotten though.
I’d gone through my fair share of foster homes. Some had been good fits, others really bad ones, but the worst one had been the last one. They’d made it clear that they hadn’t wanted me there long after I turned eighteen, so I ran from them the first chance I got. That first night, I stayed at a neighbor’s house a couple of blocks away. I’d knocked on their door with little hope of finding a bed for the night, and they’d taken me in without a second’s hesitation. I hadn’t stayed more than a few days because I was fearful of being found and wanted to get as far away from my foster parents as I could. They hadn’t wanted to let me leave but had understood my feelings in the end. I’d thought about them many times since then.
Their names had been Tammi and Bryan. I remembered the two of them having an argument one night. She’d overspent on a gift for me, and their bank account had over drafted.
I turned my lights off and slipped out of my clothes, putting on nothing more than an oversized nightshirt as I let the memory of that night wash over me.
“Please, Bryan. I just wanted to get something nice to make Cami smile,” she pleaded.
I was in their guest bedroom. I had just opened the door and had peeked out but had paused when I heard their hushed arguing. I’d never much liked hearing things like that. A few of my foster homes growing up often had screaming matches that would result in the police being called, and that had always made me nervous that I’d end up somewhere even worse if the cops deemed it an unfit environment for me.
“We have budgets in place for a reason, Tammi. You ignored that. If you had just come and asked me, we might have figured out a way to make something special happen, but instead you broke that rule without permission,” he had answered.
“It’s not my fault the auto-pay for the car went through the same day,” Tammi pouted.
“That’s not the point, and you know it. You broke a rule, little girl,” Bryan chided.
Tammi looked down at the floor. She fidgeted, but she didn’t say anything more.
“We will work together to fix this, but there’s something that needs to be taken care of first. What happens when you break a rule this important?” Bryan pushed. Tammi wrung her hands in her lap several times.
“I get punished, Daddy,” she whispered.
“Daddy puts rules in place for a reason so that he can take care of you, doesn’t he, little girl?” Bryan continued.
“Yes, Daddy,” Tammi murmured. She was hanging her head now.
“This is the second time you’ve overspent like this, isn’t it?” he continued gently.
“Please, Daddy,” she pleaded.
“Daddy punished you with his hand last time, didn’t he?”
“Yes, Daddy,” she said fearfully.
“Since this is the second offense, Daddy is going to spank you with his belt,” Bryan continued.
“Please, not that,” Tammi whimpered. She looked up with hopeful eyes, but Bryan didn’t budge.
“After Daddy has thoroughly marked you with his belt, where do you think he’s going to punish you next?”
“You’re going to fuck my bottom with your cock, Daddy,” she whimpered.
“I am, little girl. By the time Daddy puts you to bed tonight, you’re going to be one very sorry and one very well-fucked little girl,” he warned. He held out his hand and Tammi rushed over to him. “I love you, little girl, and I forgive you. I will always forgive you because you’re mine.” He kissed her forehead.
“I love you, Daddy. I’m sorry for breaking the rules.”
“I know you are, little girl. Daddy cares so much for you and he’s going to remind you of that tonight. Go to the bedroom now. There, you will strip and lie down on the bed face down and wait for me.”
She hung her head. I could see the shame written all over her face. She reached for his hands and he squeezed them tight.
“Go now, little girl,” he added gently.
Dutifully, she went off and he followed only a few minutes later. I slipped down the hall and hid in one of the closets. There was a vent close by and I could hear everything that happened inside their bedroom after that.
“You’re so very wet, little girl. You’ve needed Daddy’s belt for a long while, haven’t you?”
Flesh smacked flesh and I opened my eyes wide. I gasped and covered my mouth with my hand, fearful they’d overhear me. Up to this point, I wasn’t certain anything would actually happen, but it was. Bryan was really spanking her.
“Yes, Daddy,” she answered nervously.
I couldn’t see it, but I heard that belting. Her whimpers and cries were fully ingrained in my memory. The sound of the belt whipping through the air and smacking her bare skin was mesmerizing.
“Please, not my thighs, Daddy,” she begged.
“Daddy decides your punishment, little girl,” he answered, and the belting got even louder. Eventually, the soft sounds of her crying met my ears and the belt clattered as it fell to the floor.
“There now. That’s my good girl.”
For a while, it had been quiet, but eventually she’d started moaning. Soon enough, Bryan started directing her again and she whined.
“Daddy’s going to fuck your bright red bottom, little girl.”
“Please, Daddy! Not my bottom. It hurts!”
“It is going to hurt, little girl. Daddy’s cock is very, very hard because he knows it’s time to punish you with it,” he declared.
I knew what was happening when he pushed inside her. She wasn’t quiet at that point. Some of her cries sounded painful, some of them were pleasurable, but I was certain she enjoyed herself in the end. By the time it was over, they were both whispering how much they loved each other, and I slipped out of that closet before they found me.
My fingers were working between my thighs before I even realized what I was doing. My legs shook and I gasped, imagining the scenario between Tammi and Bryan, but with one very critical difference.
I was the one who had broken that rule and Mason was the one who spanked me for being a bad little girl.
My orgasm was on me before I was ready, and I mewled with pleasure. My free hand clapped over my mouth so that on the off chance Mason was anywhere close, he wouldn’t hear me. He didn’t come to my wing often, but I wanted to be careful just in case.
I squeezed my legs together, writhing underneath my fingers until my release started to fade. A delicious warmth seeped through my limbs, and I relaxed against the bed. I licked my lips and pulled my hand out of my panties. With a heavy sigh, I turned over and closed my eyes. It didn’t take me very long at all to fall asleep.
The next morning, I had breakfast alone for the first time since Mason had moved in. The solitude agitated me for some reason. I did my best to put on a happy face when his assistant showed up to take me into the city to go shopping for the house, and despite my initial grumpiness, I had a really good time looking for new things. I picked some of the more expensive options just because I wanted to get back at Mason a little for making me eat breakfast alone.
It was his fault he hadn’t given me a budget.
By the end of the day, I’d spent more money than I thought I’d ever spend in my whole life. I picked out several living rooms sets for various places throughout the house, a dining room table and chairs, decorations for the banquet hall, as well as many other things. I was careful to keep my selections to places that were in his part of the house. I didn’t want him to think I was using his money to outfit my part.
By the time I finished that day, I was tired and really hungry. I was more than excited to see a big pizza on the counter when I got home. Mason grinned when he saw me, and I immediately thought of what I’d done last night. I wasn’t prepared for how much I blushed at seeing him again.
I rushed to get a plate and a slice, all the while thinking about how I’d brought myself to orgasm after thinking about him giving me a spanking last night.
I sat down quickly, and he raised an eyebrow in my direction. I took a big bite of pizza and tried to recover as quickly as I could. When I was ready, I grinned and met his gaze again.
“Hungry?” he chuckled.
“Yeah. Robert and I did a lot of walking around today. I picked out a bunch of things and he said he’d have some guys clear out a few pieces tomorrow so the new stuff can get delivered,” I explained, desperate to think of anything other than what I’d done in my room last night.
“I didn’t know how much you wanted to spend, so I just picked out some of my favorite things. Some of them were expensive,” I admitted, feeling guilty now that I was sitting here in front of him.
“That’s fine,” he replied.
I bit the inside of my cheek. He didn’t seem fazed by the amount of money I spent today. There wasn’t even the slightest hint of that firm look he’d given me before when I hadn’t finished my food.
“It was a lot of money, though,” I said lamely.
“I know it was, but I also know how nice it’s going to look in here when all the new things arrive. Thank you for all your hard work today, Cami,” he smiled.
I was left feeling both happy to receive his praise and a bit disappointed that he wasn’t agitated over the amount I spent today. Sure, he was rich, but weren’t most people at least on a budget of some kind?
“I’ve left an envelope of cash upstairs for you. I want you to buy yourself something nice, maybe a few new outfits or whatever will make you smile,” he offered.
I grinned. It had been forever since I’d worn something new. Most of what I owned was either hand-me-downs or secondhand.
“Thank you. I’ll buy something nice from Walmart, maybe,” I answered.
“I will have my driver take you to the mall tomorrow,” he said more sternly. I brushed my hair behind my ears as I studied him. His expression was hard for only a split second before it softened once again.
He looked like he wanted to say something else, but he held back. I wanted to know what he was thinking, but he gave me no clues. I watched him as he got up and got himself another slice of pizza. Without asking, he got me another one too. When he wasn’t watching, I took a moment to admire his large muscular form. Most of the time he was wearing slacks or a button-up shirt of some kind that hugged his body in all the right places.
All of him was hard and chiseled. His sleeves wrapped around his biceps snugly, just like his slacks curved around his ass. His outfit made me wonder what he looked like without it.
By the time I was finished, I excused myself, far too flustered to handle his presence in person much longer. When I got up to my room, there was a bundle of cash on my dresser. I picked it up warily, never having held so much money in my hand in my life.
It was a thousand dollars.
I could buy a whole wardrobe with this. I looked from the bills to the door almost in shock. Was this charity? For some reason, it made me angry, and I wanted to do something, anything to get back at him.
I threw it back down on the dresser and clambered back down the stairs. He’d already left the kitchen and had gone to his office. I didn’t usually bother him, but my steps were a little louder as I passed his office, enough for him to look up from his desk as I walked by.
The indoor pool was fully functional at this point, beautiful and clean and I had yet to dip my toes in it because I didn’t have a swimsuit. Tonight though, I was agitated enough not to care. I stripped down to my bra and panties and jumped in. I swam for a little while, back and forth. I kept my ears open for any sign of him, but he never came, which left me more than a little frustrated.
Eventually, I got annoyed enough to strip off my bra and panties too. I felt increasingly naughty as I swam back and forth with my bare bottom sticking out of the water. Sometimes I swam the backstroke, watching as my nipples pebbled in the warm inside air.
Mason never came to the door. Eventually, I tired and climbed out of the pool. There was a pile of soft towels and I grabbed one. I turned to grab my clothes, but I decided against it. I folded them into a small pile and placed my cotton panties on top.
He’d know I’d swum naked when he found them.
I went the long way back to my room so that I didn’t pass by his office in nothing more than a towel and I went to bed that night more frustrated than ever.
When I went down for breakfast that morning, there was a note from Mason saying he’d gone to another early morning meeting. It said for me to enjoy the fresh baked muffins from Ethel’s. I pouted, feeling increasingly annoyed that he’d missed breakfast with me once again.
I was hungry though, so I ate one of the blueberry ones because she had been the one to make them.
His assistant Robert arrived a short while later to take me to the mall. I picked out multiple outfits and was overjoyed when he insisted on carrying all the bags. I bought a nice lunch at a restaurant I’d always wanted to eat at and by the time it was time to go home for dinner, I’d had a very fun day of shopping.
As much as I wanted to gripe about his charity, simply being able to buy what I wanted was something I’d never been able to do before.
When I returned to my room, I found the pile of my clothes that I’d left by the pool on my bed. I blushed as my fingers traced across the purple lace of my panties. If he’d been the one to bring them up here, he’d have had to touch them. Next to the clothes was a magazine for bathing suits, with a post it on top that read, “You will pick one for the next time you go swimming.”
I swallowed hard. It was his handwriting. He knew I’d gone skinny dipping in his pool.
I slipped on one of my new outfits. It was a summer dress that was salaciously short. I grinned, bending over in front of the mirror. At the right angle, you could see the bottom curves of my cheeks.
I walked down the stairs for dinner. Mason was already downstairs and when he saw what I was wearing, his eyes went wide. I wanted to smile in victory, but I was careful not to let my excitement show.
“Is that one of the new things you bought today?” he asked. He angled his body away from me as he served himself a plate from whatever he’d had catered today. I piled several pieces of chicken, some alfredo pasta, and steamed vegetables onto a plate of my own, but I reached for a glass on a shelf a bit higher than usual. He didn’t take his eyes off me.
I sashayed over to the table and set my dinner down. I knocked my fork off the table and swore, all before I bent over to pick it up. I stood back up, but not before I heard him suck in a breath.
He’d noticed me and by the time I slipped into my usual seat, my pussy was pulsing with arousal. Would he scold me for spending money on a dress like this? Would he take me over his knee and spank me for being clumsy? Or was it the swearing that would finally get his attention?
When I finally dared enough to glance up at him, he wasn’t even looking at me. He was reading something on his phone instead.
“Excuse me. I must take a call. Enjoy the rest of your dinner. I’ll be in my office for most of the evening,” he said briskly.
I stared down at my plate as he walked away. I blinked several times, fighting back tears.
Maybe I was reading into things too much. Maybe he didn’t even care.
Cami Davis was going to be the death of me. When I realized she had swum in the pool last night, I’d locked my office door to keep myself from joining her. I’d known she didn’t own a swimsuit and when I’d found her clothes with her pretty purple panties on top in a cute little pile later that night, my suspicions that she’d been naked were absolutely confirmed.
There hadn’t been a work emergency tonight either. I’d lied about it to keep myself from being around her. Her long lean legs had been mesmerizing beneath that green polka-dotted dress, but when she’d bent over right in front of me in that scandalously short skirt, it had taken absolutely everything in me not to take her over my knee and give her a good spanking for buying something that indecent. I’d been able to see almost half of her perfectly shaped bottom, but that wasn’t all. I’d been able to see the seat of her panties. Her arousal had dampened them enough to reveal her real intentions to me. She wanted me to know that she wanted me too.
I’m not sure what had happened in the last few weeks, but it felt like she was constantly trying to bait me into something. I found her staring at my hands. She never really sat still, squirming and fidgeting endlessly whenever she was around me.
I’d been very careful with her so far and I’d done more than stay out of her way. I didn’t want to overstep with her, but it was becoming increasingly clear that she wanted more from me.
She’d taken to admitting her bouts of naughtiness to me. Ever since I’d asked her to finish her food that one time, she’d been leaving several uneaten bites on her plate. The guilt on her face told me she knew exactly what she was doing. She would stall and glance up at me several times with this adorable little blush that told me that her bare little bottom needed a good hard spanking over my knee.
I didn’t give her that. I did my absolute best to ignore her behavior. Maybe she would grow out of it, maybe she wouldn’t. I sighed and sat down at my desk after locking the door to my office. I unbuttoned my slacks and freed my insatiably hard cock. I hoped she hadn’t seen it when I’d made my quick exit, but I was so hard that it was beginning to be painful.
Up until this point, I’d kept my desire at bay, but as I slid my fingers along my shaft, I knew I’d have to at least temper my need before I saw her again. I was only a man and if she bent over in front of me like that again, I didn’t know if I would be able to hold myself back from what I really wanted to do to that very naughty little vixen.
I closed my eyes, stroking my fingers up and down my cock. I groaned softly, imagining what that perfect little bottom would look like bright red and entirely bare. My balls tightened, squeezing hard with desire. I opened one of my drawers and grabbed a small hand towel before I began stroking my cock in earnest.
I was so wound up it didn’t take me very long before I came with a quiet roar. I closed my eyes, feeling my seed spurt from a place deep below the base of my spine. I came hard and when I was finally done, I sighed.
I cleaned myself off, not allowing myself to think about how it would feel to sink deep inside her, to make her scream my name as I fucked her.
I tucked myself away and buttoned up my slacks. Still warm and feeling a bit more in control, I threw myself into my work for several hours. I worked late into the night, and I didn’t stop until the door handle jostled loudly.
With a sigh, I glanced at the clock. It was well after midnight. I got up and strode to the door, unlocking and opening it to find Cami standing there right in front of me. Another guilty look passed over her face, but it was gone in a second.
“It was our agreement that you would not disturb me when I’m working, Cami,” I scolded her gently. I made no move to touch her.
“Whatever. I want to talk to you,” she replied sassily. Her words were slurring together, and I noticed that her eyes were glassy.
“Did you go somewhere after dinner?” I asked carefully.
She swayed from side to side, before she pushed past me and walked right inside. “Yeah. I went to a party with my friends. What’s it to you?” she replied. She walked over to my couch and plopped down, looking at me with angry eyes. She was still wearing that short green dress and when she crossed her legs, I saw another glimpse of her panties beneath it.
She played with the strap on her right shoulder, loosening it enough to expose a tiny bit of her cleavage.
Fuck. I could be in control all I wanted, but I wasn’t dead. My cock stirred and I retreated to my desk, using it as cover so that she couldn’t see how much of an effect she was having on me. I didn’t want her to know how much I wanted to bend her over my desk, tear off those pretty panties she kept showing off to me, and give her the hard fucking she truly needed.
I did none of that. I simply waited to see what she would do next.
“Henry Cavanaugh kissed me tonight,” she started. Her glassy eyes bored into mine, full of challenge and spunk.
She was drunk.
“Do you like him?” I asked carefully. I sat back and crossed my legs. My cock was straining inside my slacks, but I ignored it. I wouldn’t lay a hand on her when she was in a state like this. I wouldn’t dare. She stared at me, her expression contemplative.
“Do you like me, Mason? Do you think I’m pretty?” she asked, and her gaze searched mine. She was curious and optimistic, but I didn’t want to give her false hope.
“You are a beautiful woman, and you will make a very lucky man very happy one day,” I replied cautiously.
“Yeah. Maybe,” she pouted. That clearly wasn’t what she wanted to hear.
“You should go to bed, Cami. I’ve got some more work I need to finish tonight,” I said firmly. The moment my voice hardened, however, her face lit up. She pressed her thighs together and started rubbing the tops of her legs with her fingers, clearly agitated. Her bra was thin and did little to hide her hard little nipples as they peeked through her dress.
“I don’t want to go to bed. I’m having more fun here with you,” she smirked.
“It’s time for bed. Don’t make me tell you again,” I said even more sternly.
Her cheeks pinkened as she watched me. Her eyes were dilated, her breath coming in short little pants. She wasn’t just being sassy anymore. She was clearly aroused and feeling very feisty with all the liquid courage that was in her veins.
“Or else what, Mason? What will you do?” she pushed. Her legs opened just a little and I gripped the armrests of my chair in one last attempt at holding myself together. She was plastered and only nineteen. If word ever got out that I lost control around her like this, it would be the end of my career. I took a deep breath, ignoring the constant pulsing of my aching cock. I buried my arousal down deep.
I was just about to say something when I noticed that she was no longer looking at me. I watched as she curled up on the couch and laid her head down on her hands, closing her eyes. In seconds, her breathing evened out, and her body slumped into the cushions. I sat back and shook my head.
She’d passed out here in my office.
Her eyelashes fluttered several times on her cheek, but she didn’t move again. I let her sleep for a little while and finished up the programming that I was working on before I stood up and approached the little thing. Her dress had risen, exposing her panty-clad bottom and I pulled it down out of respect for her. I didn’t want to see her like this. She deserved so much better than that.
She whimpered in her sleep, and I had to pull myself back from comforting her. She was still very much out though. As carefully as I could, I slipped my arms beneath her and picked her up. I did my best not to jostle her as I carried her up to her bedroom. I pulled back the covers and laid her down in bed. I took off her shoes, but that was all. I did not undress her. I simply tucked her in. When she woke up, she would know I put her to bed, but she wouldn’t have to worry about me undressing her or anything else that might scare her. There would be no concern that I’d done anything else either.
I understood her mistake. I’d had my fair share of drunk days when I was younger. It was never fun when you lost time and couldn’t remember what you did the night before. This was the first time I’d seen her drunk even a little. We all made mistakes and I was going to show her that it was going to be okay.
She needed to know that someone was there to care for her when she did something like this.
Once I was sure she was settled in, I went downstairs and fetched a bottle of aspirin as well as a bottle of water. I left both on her nightstand, knowing the little thing was probably going to need them in the morning. Hangovers were the worst part.
Before I left her, I brushed the stray hairs off her face.
“Sleep well, little girl. I’ll see you in the morning,” I whispered.
She didn’t stir when I left the room. I sighed. What had I gotten myself into?
Cami didn’t come out of her bedroom the next morning until almost lunchtime. I’d left my office door open just so that I could hear the stairs creak when she came downstairs so that I at least knew she was up. I heard the fridge open and close. For a while, it was quiet. I’d left out muffins on the table with the hope they would be easy on her stomach.
It took another hour before there was a soft knock on my door. I looked up to see her in my doorway. She had showered and changed into another outfit. Her t-shirt had a pretty flower design and her black yoga pants fit her well, but I was careful to keep my eyes on her face. She looked tired, a little worn out, and very, very guilty.
“Come in,” I called out gently.
“Hey, Mason,” she murmured shyly. She was staring at the floor as she fidgeted with her hands at her waist.
“How are you feeling?”
“Okay, I guess. I’m really sorry about last night. I didn’t mean to get that drunk and bother you while you were working,” she said softly.
From her blushing apology, to the shameful way that she was stepping back and forth from foot to foot, to her inability to look at me in the eye—she was coming off like a naughty little girl apologizing to her daddy, knowing full well she was about to be taken over his knee for a hard spanking. She was the perfect fantasy come to life. Everything about her demeanor was making my cock very hard.
Fuck. Me. Sideways.
“I know you didn’t, Cami. It’s alright,” I assured her, and she lifted her gaze to mine I cocked my head to the side. “Did you at least have fun?”
“At the party with my friends, yeah,” she replied flatly. I couldn’t tell if I imagined it, but she almost seemed disappointed that I wasn’t reacting like she expected I would.
I wasn’t going to yell at her or get angry. I was certain she’d had more than enough of that in her life. From what I knew of the foster system, it wasn’t an easy way to grow up. She’d never had anyone really stick around in any long-term capacity.
When she had first decided to stay here with me, I’d learned everything about her that I could.
She’d never been in a place for more than two years at a time. She changed schools constantly, but even with all that upheaval in her life, she’d still graduated at the top of her class. She was smart and she deserved a real chance at life.
I was going to give her that.
I knew she wouldn’t be perfect, that she would make mistakes along the way, but it was very important to me that she learn that missteps like this one wouldn’t mean that her world would turn upside down.
“I’m glad you had fun. How’s your head?” I asked with an understanding smile.
“It hurts a little bit, but not too bad,” she admitted.
“If it still bothers you in a little while, drink more water and take another aspirin. You’re probably pretty dehydrated,” I offered gently.
She worried her bottom lip with her teeth.
“I thought you would be mad at me,” she said softly, and I shook my head.
“I’m not angry with you, Cami. We’ve all had nights where we took it a little too far. There’s no need to stress over it,” I assured her. She dug her toe into the carpet, not knowing what to make of me. Her expression was shy and unsure, so I decided to push her a bit into a space where she was more comfortable.
“Would you feel better if I told you not to do it again?” I asked, making sure to keep my tone gentle. She blushed hard and I knew that I was right. She was either not wearing a bra or simply a thin one and her nipples popped right through her t-shirt. My fingers twitched and I folded them together, leveling her with a slightly firm look and it was as if her bravery bloomed right before me.
“I don’t know, maybe. Depends,” she sassed with a smirk. There was the feistiness I adored so much. I sat back, appraising her more closely now.
“Don’t do it again or else you will get everything you deserve,” I continued, my voice just a hair harder. I leveled my stare with hers and she squirmed a little in front of me. The minx was getting aroused. She liked being scolded.
What was she thinking? Did she want to be punished?
“What do I deserve?” she pushed excitedly.
“You deserve someone who will take care of you and until you find that someone, I will be that someone who looks out for you,” I continued.
Her cheeks glowed scarlet. Her eyes opened wide, and a soft gasp fell off her lips. She looked away, clearly more than a little embarrassed now. When she hazarded a glance back at me, there was the slightest glimmer of disappointment. She stared down at the floor again, growing agitated. She crossed her arms over her chest, hiding her breasts from me.
“Anyway, thank you for tucking me in last night and for the water and everything,” she blurted out. She rushed out of my office in a hurry, and I simply stared at the doorway with amusement. Her antics were incredibly entertaining.
At the very least, my cock enjoyed her immensely.
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