Craig got off the elevator and went to the reception desk. The young woman manning the desk smiled pleasantly and asked, “May I help you, sir?”
“Yes, I have an appointment with Frank Shapiro.”
“Oh, yes sir, you must be Mr. Zyander.” Craig nodded to confirm her assumption. She looked away from him momentarily to consult her large appointment book, then looked back at him.
“There has been a slight change Mr. Zyander, you will be meeting with Mr. Clifton rather than Mr. Shapiro. I’ll buzz Mr. Clifton to let him know you’re here. Please have a seat over there, he will be right with you, I know he’s expecting you.”
Craig was mildly annoyed, but said nothing to the receptionist. There would be nothing she could do about it in any event. What the hell? I’m getting shuffled off to the ‘B’ team before we even get started. Ahhh, who knows, maybe I just got promoted to the ‘B’ team. He did as had been requested and sat on the large couch in the waiting area. In a very short time an older woman, nicely dressed, came through a door from the inner offices and headed directly to him. He rose as she approached. “Mr. Zyander? I’m Maria, Mr. Clifton’s secretary, come with me please.” Craig dutifully followed. He followed her from a hallway with utilitarian carpet and beige walls into a heavily paneled large outer office with thick, plush carpeting. Without pausing, she led the way to the doorway of the innermost office and beckoned him to enter. He entered a huge corner office containing massive and obviously expensive furniture. He was immediately taken aback as he took in the details and decorations. The office was furnished with many mementoes, including more than a few pictures of the office’s occupant with the President, a few past Presidents and some Hollywood luminaries. Boy was I wrong! This is not only the ‘A’ team; I think I got the captain of the team.
Leo Clifton rose from behind his desk the moment Craig had appeared in his office. He quickly came around his desk with his hand extended, then as he really looked at Craig’s face for the first time, his step faltered. He recovered quickly, but not before both men realized he had been slightly startled. Rather than making a foolish attempt to hide the event, Leo addressed it head-on. “You…” He paused, seeking the words he needed while he pointed his finger at Craig. “Aren’t you the man who, ummm…. acquired, one of my associates?”
Craig realized that Clifton was being circumspect in the event he was wrong. He also realized that this was one of the sets of windows that had been open while he had administered Sasha’s first whipping to her. Craig replied, “If we are discussing a very beautiful blonde, named Sasha, then, yes, I am that man.”
Leo took Craig’s hand and warmly shook it, adding, “Then, sir, we might have one or two additional things to discuss. To get to the core of the point, I don’t suppose you would consider selling her, would you?”
Craig laughed pleasantly and said, “No, I am afraid not. I just got her and I rather like having her.”
Leo nodded with an understanding acceptance. “Yes, well, it didn’t hurt to try, even though I was sure you wouldn’t want to sell her quite so soon. But still, we can perhaps discuss other arrangements?”
Craig noncommittally responded, “Perhaps. I’m always willing to listen.” Without committing to anything, he was allowing Leo the option to raise the matter again if he was serious about proposing something. He wondered how valuable she was in Leo’s opinion. At the moment, in his mind, she was nothing more than a beautiful fuck-toy, and a possible way to control Rita. If Leo regarded her highly, then she might be more valuable than he realized.
Leo directed Craig away from the desk, toward more comfortable, cushioned chairs set around a low coffee table. “Perhaps we should dispense with our original business first. Let me begin by apologizing for the change in your meeting with Mr. Shapiro. One of his clients ran into some unexpected difficulties and that will require Mr. Shapiro’s full time attention for a while. So much so that there was no way he could take on another matter, such as yours, and give it anywhere near the attention it deserves. But let me assure you, even though I bill at a slightly higher rate than Mr. Shapiro, we will hold your costs to that of Mr. Shapiro’s rate since this change was made without consultation with you.”
Craig had no way of knowing whether that was the truth or not. But he also realized, it didn’t matter one way or the other. He had obviously been turned over to the heavy hitter of the office and that was all to the good, so there seemed no reason to say anything negative. The truth however, was far, far, different than what he had just been told.