Home > The Billionaire's Ultimatum: His Absolute Need

The Billionaire's Ultimatum: His Absolute Need
Author: Cerys du Lys

His Absolute Conditions

"Don't move anything out of place," the cleaning staff lead said. "Don't use non-approved equipment, don't speak unless spoken to, and don't get in the way."

This place was strict, apparently. I knew it would be tough when I started, but the pay was good and I really needed the job at the moment, even if it was only for a day. The temp agency that placed me here had seemed reluctant about offering me the job, but the staff lead said it didn't matter, that he(who was he?) wouldn't be in the office today and they just needed someone to fill the position.

That should have tipped me off to something, but I was blinded by the money. And this was at Landseer Tower, no less, one of the most high class buildings in the city, so of course they'd pay well. Still, I had to double check to make sure the figure was correct; it was more than I made in a week at most places, and this was only for today. I usually performed secretarial jobs, data entry, or anything involving paperwork, but I'd done a few cleaning jobs before. I told the woman at the temp agency I would accept it.

I should have been scared—I was scared!—but I tried to overlook it. What was the worst that could happen? The job was only for the day.

"Jessika Fevrier," the staff lead said, reading my name from a worksheet and pronouncing it wrong. "Do you have any questions?" he asked. He looked at me like I was a nuisance.

Time to lighten the mood, I thought. Not my typical strong suit, but he looked like he could use a smile, and after arriving at this place, complete with a fountain in the front lobby and crystal clear glass elevators, I was extremely nervous. "If I can't move anything out of place," I said, "how do I clean everything?"

It was a joke. I knew how to clean, and I knew what he meant. It sounded better in my head, like the sort of silly, sarcastic joke that would put someone at ease. This man would laugh, give me one of those silly shakes of his head, pat me on the shoulder, and we'd be fine for the day.

That never happened. He stared at me, long and hard, furrowing his brow in disapproval. "I think we're going to have to find someone else. It's clear to me that you are unfit for this job."

What! No, no... I needed this. "Sir, I'm sorry. It was a joke. I swear. I was just joking."

He didn't look convinced. I was certain I couldn't convince him, was just about ready to give up and walk away, knowing I'd ruined my chances at a decent opportunity. He frowned, letting out a loud sigh.

"It's your lucky day," he said. "I doubt I could find anyone else on short notice, and I don't want to explain the situation to Mr. Landseer, so I'll let you stay. The joke wasn't funny, though. I'm not entirely convinced it was a joke, either. Consider that your first and final warning. If you screw up again, you're finished. You really don't want that to happen."

I gulped, eyes wide. A blush of red heat warmed my face, the tingle of it making me feel like I was sick, like I should have stayed in bed today. Chicken soup was good for the soul, they said. You couldn't pay bills with chicken soup or a soul, though, now could you?

I gathered supplies from the closet that the lead man showed me. Nothing too difficult to handle. A feather duster, a handheld vacuum, some cleaner spray, and a special streak-free towel. Basic items, things I'd used numerous times before.

When I looked at the slip of paper with my assignment, I nearly died. He wanted me to clean Asher Landseer's personal office? Was this a joke? I flipped the paper over, hoping to find some other instructions, but there weren't any. The room grew hotter. I panicked, wanted to sneak out of the office and back to my typical run of the mill day, but then what? I couldn't just return to the temp agency.

So wandering down the hallway towards Mr. Landseer's office, I wondered why I was here again? It was a job, first off. That was a point in its favor. I'd graduated from a good school, though, and received top marks for all of my classes. Nothing perfect, but I was more than adequate. I don't want to say that this job was beneath me, but I'd expected something better after I left college.

Unfortunately, in hindsight, majoring in English Language and Literature wasn't a great choice. What use was knowing the thought process behind Shakespeare's Othello when you applied for a job? Not much, if anything. I'm fairly sure that the cleaning manager would have fired me on the spot instead of giving me a second chance if I'd tried discussing classic literature with him.

To be fair, this was exciting, though. Not cleaning, and not the technicalities of this job, but the place. Never would I have imagined coming here. It took me awhile for the realization to sink in, and I hadn't even seen much of the interior yet, but I was in the Landseer Tower. Previously owned and operated by Thomas Landseer before his death six years ago, and now owned by his son, Asher Landseer, current head of the Landseer empire.

I knew nothing about Asher, save for what I heard before coming. I was to clean his office, and make it immaculate. Why me? No one would give me a good answer to that, except to say that it shouldn't be an issue. Asher Landseer was in an important meeting and wouldn't be around, so I had free reign to clean to my heart's content and make everything perfect. The usual person who cleaned, some elderly woman, had requested the day off so she could go to her granddaughter's dance recital.

Nervous already, my anxiety soared when I heard some of the strange things people said about my situation. I passed a couple of men at a soda machine who stared at me, then laughed, saying something along the lines of "I don't envy her" when they thought I was too far away to hear them. I'd also read, mostly on tabloid covers and entertainment news articles, that Asher was eccentric and reclusive. What did that mean, though? I figured he probably just liked his alone time. It couldn't be that bad, right? He was married, afterall.

Married, and beautiful beyond words. Not that this should have mattered for much of anything, especially not to me. But whenever I saw his picture, in passing somewhere, my heart jumped a little. A brief quickening of my pulse, an intimate little trill of some private thought singing through my head, and...

Back to work. I reached the office, pulled out the key the manager had given me, and unlocked the door. Stepping inside, I flicked the light switch on and closed the door behind me.

Everything was amazing. He had a desk in the back, like any other office, but behind it was a large, bay-styled window with a reading nook built into the wall. Beside that, cornered off into its own alcove, was a set of floor to ceiling bookcases. A glass wall and door separated the main office section from a private meeting area, and opposite that was a chaise with a small table beside it. The entire office was probably bigger than my apartment, and I used to think I had a pretty nice apartment.

I didn't have time to admire the place, though. I needed to clean. I searched around for an outlet to plug the vacuum into, then checked for what I should or shouldn't need to move beforehand. I would need to dust, but I'd do that after I wiped everything down first. God, this job was going to be so boring.

And, everything looked perfect anyways. I tried, I honestly tried, but I couldn't find anything that looked like it really needed cleaning. Maintaining the atmosphere, I guessed. I couldn't clean a mess that wasn't there.

I should have just done that, should have finished cleaning and left, but I was curious. The bookcases called to me, like some siren of the sea from an epic poem. Just what kinds of books did Asher Landseer have? Probably typical business books, sets of legal dictionaries or how-to's, or unopened and unread classics meant to impress some business associate into thinking he'd read this or that.

He had all those and more. I browsed through his collection of literature, enthralled. The business books weren't so interesting, but he had a section with newer publications(some from bestselling authors and others from vague unknowns), older classics like Alice in Wonderland and Grimm's Fairy Tales, and everything in between.

My hand crept towards a copy of Dante's Inferno. Leather bound, with a gold, gilt-stamped title on the cover and spine, and more gilt lining the edges, it looked like a book collector's dream. I stared at it, rapt, letting my hand caress the cover, feeling the rough leather against my fingertips. The book had a crisp smell with a tinge of masculine warmth, like a man's freshly worn leather jacket.

There was no possible way Asher Landseer had read this. Absolutely none.

Except when I opened it, it wasn't stiff. And there were dogears on a few of the pages. I moved to the first, wanting to see what he'd found so interesting, and...

"Midway upon the journey of our life, I found myself within a forest dark, for the straight forward pathway had been lost," a calm, confident voice said from behind me.

I panicked, tossed the book back onto the bookshelf, and turned to face the unknown speaker. That would have been it, except I was confronted by Asher Landseer himself. He stared at me with his cool, steel blue eyes. He looked none too happy with me intruding on his private space, browsing through his bookcase. His pristine, pitch black suit without a wrinkle anywhere, his short-cropped hair, barely an inch in length, and his sharp, powerful jaw making him look unlike anything I ever imagined a businessman should look like. I briefly imagined him stepping out of a helicopter in a spy movie, playing the role of a debonaire CIA secret agent.

My heart skipped a beat, my pulse soared, and my stomach fluttered. My knees grew weak and I almost couldn't stand to look at him anymore, like I needed sunglasses to stare at him head on. I tried to step forward and apologize but one of my high heels caught on a bevel in the tiled floor and I toppled forward.

Asher swooped forward and caught me. This isn't happening, I told myself. This is too strange, too unknown. I must have fallen asleep, or become delirious in his office.

No, I wasn't. No sooner than he caught me, the collector's copy of Dante's Inferno fell from the shelf I'd tossed it on. I watched it hit the floor, cover and pages splitting open as it descended, and then... crack!

The book's binding broke, spilling its contents all over the floor. Pages, separated, completely out of order, lay scattered around the bookcase alcove in his office. One of them, another dogeared page, escaped from the rest and landed at Asher's feet. He set me aside like a bag of groceries and bent to pick up the page.

"One ought to fear those things only that have the power of doing harm," he said, reading a passage from the page. "The others not, for they are not dreadful."

Poignant, I thought, and absolutely correct. It was as if Dante had seen into the future, noticed this situation, and thought it amusing to write about it.

Amusing for Dante, and horrifying for me.

"I'm so sorry, sir. Mr. Landseer, I apologize. I don't know what came over me. I..."

He turned to me, rage in his eyes. I could almost see a tiny spark of red lighting up the very center of his icy blue irises. Tossing the page aside, he grabbed my wrist and dragged me through the open glass door into his private meeting room.

"Sir, I—"

Without listening, he tossed me onto his meeting room table and glared at me. I wasn't sure what to do, wasn't sure what to think. What was going on? I inched away from him, my hands pressed into the smooth, alder wood table as I tried to get away. He would accept none of that.

Grabbing my foot, he pulled me back towards him. My skirt bunched up behind me, sliding towards my rear as he pulled me, leaving my pantyhose-covered crotch exposed to him. He gazed at me. His eyes seemed to revel in the surprised look on my face, the sight of my br**sts heaving up and down as my breath quickened, and the tantalizing view of my exposed underwear. His hand traveled up my leg, caressing my pantyhose, exploring my thigh and moving towards my sex.

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