Silver hair followed by China-blue eyes filled the room, sucking the air out of her lungs and making all the blood in her body rush to her V. There stood Michael Bournham, his body encased in some sort of shimmery grey t-shirt, made from an impossibly-fine fabric, and jeans that looked painted on by Michaelangelo himself. Sunglasses hung from a strap around his neck, and his look was of such intensity that the rest of the world melted away, breaking apart molecule by molecule as everything converged into one, simple atom.
"Lydia," he said, and his voice seemed different. Smokier. More commanding. In her heart she knew this was Matt. Matt Jones. The same man she'd hated, then grudgingly liked, then pined for, and finally submitted to -- eagerly. No different today than two days ago, aside from eye and hair color. He wasn't worth the strange reaction her body and brain elicited, electric thrumming creating a frequency that pounded away at her pulse, her thoughts, her heart.
Being Michael Bournham should have meant absolutely nothing. Her hands had stroked this man. Her mouth had kissed this man. Her body had accepted this man into her, thrusting and urgent and fevered and hot, pushing and bucking for more of him.
His skin was the same, sandy hair sprinkled in all the right places. In the closet, in the elevator, in his office, in her own damn bed, those hands had touched her flesh, alternating between tender and coarse with powerful caresses, the ability to shift from one state to the other an exquisite, almost divine, gift.
Metamorphosis went both ways then, no? If he could change touch so easily, why not identity?
Who had she really fucked, after all? Ah. That was the $64,000 question.
Aim higher, Lydia.
The near-billion dollar question. Everyone knew about Michael Bournham's quest for his billion dollar empire. Everyone. From mail room guys to senior vice presidents, the austerity measures at Bournham Industries over the past eighteen months had been all about him. A contract signed in his blood, practically, with the board of directors had made headlines for weeks, garnering stories in The Economist, Wall Street Journal -- even Rolling Stone had done a feature on him and his ballsy move.
What part did she play in this race to drive profits high enough to win his bet? A viral sex tape might smear his reputation, but in the end he'd just be labeled a bad boy, another renegade playboy rolling in more money than God. Publicity, though -- that was gold. Getting the Bournham name in the news, on YouTube (hell, YouPorn), increasing branding by a social media factor of hundreds -- the value of fucking her on camera was, well --
Priceless precisely because she had no price tag. What he had done happened with her full consent -- the physical act, that is.
That violated her to the bone.
"I am so, so sorry," he rasped, voice shaking with emotion. Not nervous; guys like Michael Bournham were never nervous. They were in complete control every fucking second of their lives, right? Letting them get "caught" on tape was all about micromanaging every second of his time with her. Fake, fake, fake -- it had all been a giant ruse, Matt Jones' attraction to her, his intensity in the elevator, those warm arms around her in the supply closet, hot mouth on her clit, his rod driving her open and pounding her to ecstasy.
What else was on tape? In some editing room in L.A. was an assistant splicing together more film of their intimate encounters, ready to run on the E! channel? Would she be the subject of a Tosh monologue? Or was she going to be The Daily Show's Moment of Zen?
Sorry? He was sorry? If Michael Bournham had used her to ride a social media wave so great she would be "sex tape girl" well into her golden years, the subject of ridicule on Fark, SomethingAwful, Reddit and beyond, then she really only had one choice, as he watched her, eyes hawklike and predatory, clearly here with one purpose: to win her over.
Her choice, though, was to stay the course. What she needed to do was to follow his final order as her boss.
To maliciously obey.
“Did you get what you wanted?” she asked, struck by how different he was from Matt Jones and yet, this was the same man.
“Get what I wanted?” he asked, pretending to be confused. As if Michael Bournham would ever be confused.
“Quit playing games. You know exactly what I’m talking about,” she said.
“What I want is you.”
“No. What you want is money.” He flinched. She continued. “Everyone knows that. Everyone, Mr. Bournham. From the guy who cleans the shit off the toilets to your executive assistant and everyone in between, and I’m one of the in-betweens.” She felt her face stretch in an angry, bitter smile. “Your deal with the board; your deadline is coming up, so everyone’s known that all these stupid cost cutting measures for the past eighteen months - all of the ‘we can’t afford to give you raises’ ‘we can’t afford to give you bonuses’ ‘we can’t afford to give you regular toilet paper that’s not made in Poland’ - all of it so you could make your goal with the board, your bet. So apparently, I’m part of the wager?”
“You’re part of nothing.”
“Nothing,” she said. Now she was pissed. “I’m part of nothing.” She nodded and smiled, a cynical grin. “That’s right. I’m nothing to you. I’m actually less than nothing, aren’t I?”
He tried to interrupt her but she held out a palm. “I’m less than nothing because you used me. You knew those cameras were rolling. You let me make love to Matt Jones in the office. You teased, you taunted, you seduced, you led me on and I broke. I broke,” she said, shrugging, sighing deeply and shaking her head.
And then she looked him straight in the eye. “I broke. I fell for someone you created, I fell for a guy I thought was smart and funny and intelligent and caring, and who actually might give a damn about me and treat me like an equal with respect and with mutual attraction.”
She looked him over, top to bottom. “Same guy, same body, but it turns out you spun that out of thin air so you could gain your notoriety and get the name of Bournham Industries all over every web platform, every media outlet, and boost your profits, huh?”
His eyes widened."You think that?"
“Oh, I’m right, aren’t I?”