Lyndria Wilson watched the body language of her newly-acquired bodyguard. The poor girl looked like a fish out of water. She was probably wondering what the hell she had gotten herself into. Lindsay White was refreshingly adorable, short of stature and slight of figure. The thought of corrupting her innocence brought a smile to Lyndria’s face.
So stinkin’ cute. She’s got go goddamn idea.
Lyndria was spending a few hours at the bar she’d been given as an eighteenth birthday present—and by ‘few hours’ she meant ‘all-night affair’. Erotic entertainment played on the stage to music as thick with bass as the air was with cigarette smoke and the scent of marijuana. The dancers sparkled in the flashing lights, exposing Lindsay to more glistening flesh exposed than the poor girl had ever seen in her entire lifetime. She stared open-mouthed at the gyrating muscles, having quite lost sight of Lyndria some time ago.
“Far be it from me to question your methods, ‘Princess’, but why the effing bloody hell did you bring a hero into this?” Tom Carter towered above her, even from his perch on a nearby stool at the bar. He was a massive man, with arms the size of tree trunks and shoulders that nearly swallowed his thick neck. His face wasn’t handsome to look at. His jaw was square and his chin was too big, and his forehead seemed determined to leap off its face and become sentient. To call him a friend was stretching it, but Tom was one of the very few people that Lyndria trusted, and they worked together—which was the sole reason she hadn’t fucked him yet. Everything about his physique was what her body constantly craved, but it was a bad idea to shit where you ate.
Lyndria ignored the sarcasm dripping off the title the man gave her. Daddy’s money bought a lot, and some people resented that. She didn’t care. They could resent it all the fuck they wanted, so long as they responded in a predictable manner. Tom liked money, and he knew what side his bread was buttered on. He wouldn’t screw her over. Which was more than she could say for most of the people she interacted with on a daily basis.
“You can always tell what a hero’s gonna do. They’re predictable. Almost more so than wise-ass, safe-cracking trolls that Daddy pays a lot of money to. She’ll be useful. She just needs a little corrupting.”
He glowered at her. “Your dad’s not around, now is he?”
“His money is, and that’s the important part, now isn’t it?” She put her hand on his arm. “Now, why don’t you be a good little troll and go get your gear. We got a job to do tonight. I’ll meet you in an hour.”
She wandered away, drink in hand, preferring to distract him with her swaying ass so he’d stop asking stupid questions. Questions that cut a little to close to the truth.
Daddy had been gone for months. Lyndria had a litany of older brothers that were supposed to pick up the slack on the family business should her father be incapacitated, but they’d vanished too. It left Lyndria holding the proverbial bag, but even she had to admit she was ill-equipped. She had no interest in the business—only the lifestyle it provided. Daddy had always indulged her.
Except for the last time they’d talked.
The conversation took place in the patriarch’s ostentatious study that she’d been dutifully sent to just days after a particularly interesting outing that involved the family estate of a local rising star politician. Somebody (Lyndria was way too high at the time to remember who) had set fire to the family’s heirlooms. The cops were called, and Lyndria barely escaped being busted for possession. She still had no idea where her clothes had vanished that night.
Lyndria chewed her lip in what she hoped was a contrite gesture, doing her best to fake an inability to look her father in the eye. In reality, she was barely holding back the laughter.
“Exactly what part of this do you find humorous, Lyndria?” Jacob Wilson wasn’t fooled. He spoke in a cool voice, his hands folded casually on his desk, the subtle tones in his rumbling baritone and ice in his eyes the only indication of his anger.
“Nothing, Daddy.” She glanced over to her brother, Glen, standing arms crossed over his barrel chest. With his jaw set and his piercing eyes staring at her, he looked the spitting image of their father.
No help from there, then. She was on her own. She shrugged innocently. “It wasn’t that bad.”
Jacob raised an eyebrow. “Several valuable tapestries in the Taylor estate library were burnt down.”
She couldn’t hold the grin anymore. “What can I say? Sexually repressed socialites know how to party once they really get going.”
Jacob sighed and put a hand to his forehead. “Lyndria, we’ve talked about this. You need to concern yourself with the family business. My stockholders need to know I can hold together the business, and you and your…indiscretions are putting doubts in their minds. The tabloids love a story like this, and the more they run with it, the more our stock goes down. After all, how can I be trusted with a company when I can’t even control my own daughter?”
Lyndria shrugged. “I fail to see how it is of their concern.”
“You should concern yourself with the paparazzi that photographed the entire event.”
“Oh, photos were taken? I hope they got my good side.” She snickered. “Who am I kidding? I don’t have a bad side. Besides, no one takes the tabloids seriously.”
“Seriously enough. Watch yourself, Lyndria. Blowing the story of a drunk little girl is their stock and trade.”
This lecture was getting boring. Lyndria crossed her arms and rolled her eyes. “Whatever.” The old man would get everything out of his system in a few hours and then they would move on.
“Lyndria, I’m serious.”
“What are you going to do? Ground me? I think I’m a little old for that.”
“It wouldn’t work anyway. You’d just sneak out of the house.”
Lyndria grinned. “Damn right I would.”
“I’ve done something much more effective. I’ve called my bank and canceled your credit cards. I’ve had my lawyers draw up paperwork barring my entire financial network from allowing you access.”
Her smile disappeared. “You what?”
“I’m cutting you off, young lady. You want to make an ass of yourself, you do it on your own dime.”
“But, Daddy, I—”
“No buts. Get out there and make your own money. You’re a capable person if put your mind to it. Put aside your hedonistic tenancies for a while. Learn the real world.”
“But Sara Smith’s birthday party is next week, and I gotta have money for that. Everybody who’s anybody is going to be there. What are people going to think if I don’t show up?”
“Then you’d better earn fast. And if you want any goodwill with the Taylor’s, you’d better figure out how to pay for those tapestries.”
“You mean you’re not—”
“No, I’m not paying for them. From here on out, you rise and fall on your own merit.” He tapped the desk with his index finger for emphasis.
“Dismissed, young lady!”
Lyndria narrowed her eyes, allowing tears to pool up. “I hate you.” She turned on her heel and stormed out of the room.
One of her other brothers, Alex, stood outside the door. He smiled a bit and leaned down conspiratorially to her as they walked down the hallway. “The classic ‘I hate you’ line. Think it’ll work?”
She smiled at him. “I give it two days.”
“You go, girl.” He held up his hand and she slapped it in a high five.
She woke up the next morning to an empty house. She couldn’t really say how she knew it was empty, it just felt that way. She shook off the feeling and began to prepare for her Breakfast Manipulation Plan. It took her the better part of an hour and a half to get dressed, decide what face she was going to wear that day, then apply makeup to it. The best part about being a metamorph was that she could change her hair and eye color easier than most people changed their clothes. She waffled for a while between a conservative mousy brown hair approach, and the wild, blue hair rebellious method. Did she want to appear sorry for what she’d done, or reinforce how much she hated him?
In the end, she stuck with her original plan and added some green streaks to the blue. She applied a deep black lipstick and thick eyelashes to go along with a tight, lacy bodice barely appropriate outside of the bedroom, and a plaid short skirt that only pretended to cover her ass.
Her efforts were wasted. Jacob Wilson didn’t show up for breakfast. Or lunch. The staff all assumed he’d gone out for the day, but when Lyndria made her way to the office, he wasn’t there either. By the time dinner rolled around, Lyndria was worried. She’d never get her money back if he didn’t show soon.
The day ended and then stretched into weeks. Her father didn’t return. Worse, her brothers, who should have been running the estate in his absence, had also vanished. Every day drove her deeper and deeper into debt, borrowing money on her father’s good name, promising to repay it when she got a hold of her father’s estate. They were going to come back. They had to. Lyndria refused to be worried, because that was a waste of brainspace.
She grabbed another drink on her way back to her brand new, adorably cute bodyguard, grinning a little at the other girl’s enthralled look. Lyndria didn’t blame her. There were some fine specimens of humanity on-stage.
The loud music covered her approach as she snuck up behind Lindsay and spoke in her ear. “Oh, that’s a cute face.” Lindsay jumped.
Lindsay stammered and nearly tripped over the arm of the nearby couch. Only her flight ability saved her, and she ended up seated stiffly on the edge of the red plush piece of furniture. “I, uh, I…I—”
Lyndria slid in beside her. “Your mouth’s hanging open so wide it’s like it wants to devour the man-flesh on stage.” She grinned. “Want one?”
Lindsay shook her head, eyes wide. “I-I, uh…I have a boyfriend. Back home. I-I have a boyfriend.”
She chuckled. “That don’t mean anything. He’s there. You’re here. And it’s been how long? Seriously. How long’s it been since you had a guy hard inside you?”
Shock dropped Lindsay’s jaw and set her cheeks aflame. She clamped her mouth together so hard her teeth rattled. At a loss for words, she shook her head vigorously in the negative.
“Oh aren’t you adorable. Sweetie, it’s okay, I know a virgin when I see one. I won’t push.” The sigh of relief had barely exited out of Lindsay’s mouth before Lyndria continued, “Of course, the one in the blue thong is looking right at you.”
Lindsay shook her head. “No. No, I-I…I’m not…” She trailed off before she could say something that could potentially offend her libidinous employer.
“A slut?” Lyndria smirked.
“I didn’t say that.” It was written on her face, though.
“Relax, you’re hardly the first to say it. Whatever, I take it as a compliment. Sex is the most basic biological urge beyond eating, drinking, and breathing, and is equally as essential. Trust me when I say this, you got the ability to provide sex? You got something everybody wants.”
Lindsay crossed her legs and hugged her arms to her body. “I’m not sure I want boys looking at me that way.”
“Oh, it’s not about ‘boys’.” She raised her fingers in air quotes. “It’s about human experience. And what’s more human than sex?” She jerked her head toward the stage where two of the men locked lips while a third traced his mouth down the back of one of them.
“I guess…” She shrugged. “I dunno. My boyfriend and I are pretty close. Or…we were. I sort of left things hanging when I came here.”
It could have been a trick of the flashing lights, but it looked to Lyndria like the other girl was close to tears. “You think he might have found someone else?” she asked softly.
Lindsay shook her head vigorously. “No! Nothing like that. Believe me, he’s the last person who would ever do something like that. It’s just…I don’t know when I’m going home. Or even…even if I am.”
“Well, don’t think about it.” It seemed an obvious solution to Lyndria. “Look, if it’s meant to happen, it’ll happen. In the meantime…there’s booze.”
“I can’t get drunk.”
“Oh, come on. I’m your boss. You can get drunk if I say you can get drunk.”
“No, I mean I physically can’t. My metabolism processes the alcohol too fast.”
Lyndria shrugged. She tipped her head backward over the couch and bellowed, “Hey, Crystal!”
A mousy looking guy in a gray hoodie and baggy pants shambled over. “You still dealing?” Lyndria asked.
Crystal raised his eyebrow. “Since when do you do Null?”
“Since never. Don’t need to shit on my powers to get high. My friend here, however…”
“Yeah, yeah, fine. You got money?”
“You want money, or you want me to ride your cock for a bit?”
Lindsay made a sound of protest, but Lyndria waved her off. Crystal jumped over the back of the couch and fished a small package out of his pocket containing a single pill shaped like his namesake. Lyndria took it from him with one hand, while the other worked at his jeans. She handed the pill to Lindsay. “Here. Take it. Get high. Forget your life for a while.” She grinned. “Seriously? It’s not that fucking bad.”