Excerpted from the forthcoming novel Executive Privilege: An Erotic Satire due this fall from Baby Robot Press.
Carolyne was a ball of frenzy. She wasn't usually like this and, in fact, she hated when she felt this way. She could already sense the tension of the day, and her much-anticipated meeting with Peter Mansfield, founder and CEO of Deep Tissue Nautilus Supply Co. Industries, creeping into her shoulders. Carolyne Feldencrest, even on a bad day, was a force to be reckoned with. But she pitied anyone who would try to pull one over on her tough-as-nails business savvy on a day like today. Carolyne knew she had to do something to ease her mind. She hurried to her Rolodex, formulating a plan.
A female colleague from the Wall Street sector had given her a card, many months ago, which she still hadn't used. A masseuse, this colleague had told her. A masseuse to end all masseuses. "That's where I go, to shake off the stresses of the business day. Where I go, to release the essence of myself back into myself," this woman had said. Carolyne dialed the number, made an appointment for that evening, and that was that. For now, with Peter Mansfield scheduled to arrive at the crack of eight, she had bigger fish to fry.
Carolyne walked behind her desk and peered before her into the gilded-framed rectangular mirror hanging at the opposite end of her office, which itself hung some thirty floors above the taxi-flooded streets of Manhattan's bustling fitness district. Her confidence revived by a long gaze through the impressive floor-to-ceiling windows, down at those inferior streets below, Carolyne guided her designer heels (purchased in a moment of excess, on her most recent jaunt through Milan) around the desk in order to get a good look at herself.
Carolyne spent hours on her knees in the Cathedral of Milan . . .
She looked altogether stunning, the picture of feminine corporate sensuality. The sobering pink color of her matching pencil skirt and jacket softened the mannish tailoring of her wide-shouldered power suit, which crescendoed at the shoulders where two blocks of shoulder pads flanked her head. Her delicate neck, strong from years of Jazz Aerobics, sloped up to her beautiful face—a face with angled features and striking green eyes. These, the greenest eyes, were perfectly centered within her oversized, gold-plated, monogrammed designer frames—the most-fitting accent, her optometrist had insisted, for her traffic-stopping good looks. Oh, Dr. Mayra Rodriguez! She shivered and made a note to make another "appointment" with her one of these days.
The unexpected sexual rush Carolyne experienced from the mere thought of Dr. Rodriguez further increased her confidence. This day would go like any other. She had enough leverage to close this hundred-thousand-dollar deal in a matter of minutes. Carolyne brushed the feathers of her feathered blond hair back into place and, with the palm of her hand, gave a slight nudge—for more volume—to the ends of her classy bob haircut.
The intercom crackled, giving way to Mipsy's usual call, "Ms. Feldencrest?"
"Yes, Mipsy," she returned, reminded of her executive assistant's shortcomings that morning.
"Mr. Mansfield's here to see you."
"Very well. Send him in." Carolyne was nervous, she had to admit, but strove to remain in control. She could not let Peter Mansfield of all people see her sweat. Her industry opponents trembled with fear at the mention of her name, cowering and inevitably bending to her will as she slowly crushed them to a fine powder. Peter Mansfield's was a name likewise murmured by competitors in hushed tones of terror and awe. Whereas in most of her business dealings she was recognized as having the biggest balls in the room, she had heard a rumor or two about Peter's, and knew they had the potential to present her with the stickiest situation she'd ever found herself in. This would not be an easy sell. Fortunately for her, she had a few of Peter's old tricks up her sleeve.
She just had time to seat herself behind her massive oak desk with mother of pearl inlay (Not everything in this life can be made of mahogany, can it now? she'd thought, flipping through the high-end office furnishings catalog), and pick up the gold-plated monogrammed pen strewn casually across her desk. Something smelled funny. She knew Peter's approach grew near.
He opened the door to her office, and let himself in. Before he could speak, she interrupted.
"Well, well, well. Peter Mansfield. What a pleasure to see you again."
"The pleasure's all mine," he said, looking intently at the gold-plated, monogrammed mirror hanging on the wall.
"You're looking quite tan, Peter. You've been traveling."
"Yes. I flew back on my private jet, as soon as I got your call."
"I hope I didn't tear you away from anything too important," she purred. She could feel herself resorting to the use of her naturally-irresistible feminine wiles. Nevertheless, she was pulling no punches.
"I was on vacation at a twelve-star resort in Kauai. Hidden Winds, perhaps you've heard of it?"
"Ah, yes. I've been to Hidden Winds. Though I found it to be painfully lackluster. Full of impoverished natives, and prostitutes masquerading as cabana boys." She knew the kind of vacation destinations a man like Peter Mansfield frequented.
Peter bit his upper lip, trying to restrain the flashes of hot anger Carolyne Feldencrest always brought out in him, and trying to repress the memory of the $500.00 dollar "Poolside Broken Glass" charge which had suddenly appeared on his bill at checkout.
"How much are they charging for a broken cocktail goblet these days, Peter?" Carolyne cleverly jabbed. For she too knew the hidden costs of homosexuality along the Pacific Rim.
"I'm sure you didn't summon me here to talk about hospitality industry billing practices, Carolyne. You can find out about that yourself, in Manhattan's bustling hospitality district."
"You never were one for small talk, were you Peter? Lovely weather we're having, isn't it?"
"Yes. They say it'll be a sunny seventy-two degrees tomorrow."
"Cut the chit-chat, Peter. I'm sure you want to know why I've summoned you here."
"Among other things."
"I was intentionally vague on the phone, Peter, because I always think business is better discussed in person. Mano a mano."
"I don't speak Spanish."
"Nor do I."
"My proposal is quite simple, Peter. My company, TightFit Jazz Aerobics United, is interested in entering the field of at-home workout supplies."
Peter laughed. "And you'd like to take me on as a consultant? I should think that would be beneath a woman of power such as yourself."
"As always, Peter, you've jumped the gun. And it has failed you. No, Peter, I'm not in the least interested in whatever supposed wisdom you think you've gleaned from your years in the industry. Simply put, we want to buy you out."
This time Peter's laugh billowed like a horse's chipper "neigh." He crossed his legs in an effeminate manner, and used his large index finger to trace the harsh pleat across the thigh of his light wool slacks. "Carolyne," he said calmly, "you know I'll never sell."
Carolyne nodded, hiding the disdain she felt at his easy, cocksure masculinity.
He continued, "I've made that company what it is today. When I came on board, Deep Tissue was nothing but free weights and rubber bands. I'd be crazy to get out now, when at-home fitness equipment is just starting to take off." Peter was furious, increasingly insulted by this woman's interruption of the very tropical vacation he'd hoped to brag about to close friends and estranged family members. "Dammit Carolyne. Didn't you read last month's article in Fit & Fancy Monthly? They practically handed me the next forty years of my career—"
Carolyne interrupted, "'At-home fitness promises to change the lives of everyone, everywhere, all the time.' Wasn't that the quote?"
"Exactly! So why do you think I'd give it all up, just when my five years of hard work are about to pay off? You're insane!" Peter belted. His usually settled complexion was fiery with rage.
"Frankly, Peter, you have no choice." Carolyne slid a novelty-sized check across the table.
When he saw the amount written on the check, Peter doubled over in laughter. Carolyne's earnestness was too much for him. This was all so ridiculous, so implausible. He was out of her reach, and she was clearly out of her mind. He slid the check back toward her classy pink power suit.
"Good day, Ms. Feldencrest. Good day. You've put me in the mood for some gay camp. I think I'll head down to Judy's in Chelsea for a drink," Peter shrieked, gayer than ever. "It’s located in Manhattan's gay piano bar district, should you ever manage to find your sense of humor."
"Stop right there, Mansfield. I know you'll sell, and do you want to know why?" She fanned her face with the check, causing the blond feathers of her power bob to give way to the breeze, but only slightly.
Peter froze in his tracks, cooled by her fanning, and her icy tone. She continued speaking with an oddly gentle force. "If you don't allow TightFit to absorb Deep Tissue, I'll inform everyone, everyone, about your past…
TO BE CONTINUED