Tied to the Tycoon

By: Chloe Cox

Ava grimaced. She spent almost as much energy deflecting Alain’s creepy advances as she did doing her actual job. She was beginning to suspect that he was demanding that she land a big new advertising account before the end of the year mostly as an excuse to give her another option when she failed to meet that impossible deadline: sleep with him.

As disgusted as she was with her boss, the thought of sex immediately brought her back to Jackson Reed. And what he could do with just his hands and a thick glass window. She still thought about that night they’d shared together, just before graduation. The one night. It had given her a totally unrealistic expectation of sex; before Jackson, she’d only ever slept with two guys—one in high school, who she’d more or less shanghai’d into the experience just to get it over with, and then Peter, who had been a cheating jerk and who had been her big reason for transferring for her senior year. Jackson made her think she’d just had bad luck. Jackson made sex make…sense. He’d made it seem like vital necessity, like a basic human right.

Maybe she’d only convinced herself that there would be more like him because it made it easier to walk away from him. Not walk, she reminded herself. Run. You ran away, and you hid.

Not her proudest moment.

Don’t think about it. She actually flinched, even though she was alone. It still made her feel ashamed, still made her feel small, all these years later.

“Second message,” the British robot lady voice intoned.


Ava immediately recognized her mother’s voice and leapt across the room to grab at her phone. She pressed madly at buttons until her mother’s voice stopped.

“Message erased.”

Thank God. If the memory of Jackson’s face could reliably make her feel ashamed, her mother’s voice could do a whole lot worse with a whole lot less. Her stress response was just instinctual. There was nothing to be done about it; she just had to stand there, waiting for it to filter through her system, waiting for the fear and anger to drain away.

Ava was so damn tired of being afraid. She’d been afraid of making the final leap into being submissive, and then Jackson had found her.

He’d said one week, no strings, he’d be in charge. He’d take control and show her everything. It sounded like a free pass to explore all the sexual stuff she’d never trusted anyone else with, but was it really free? The man had already broken her heart once. And as much as she’d tried to forget Jackson Reed, in her worst moments, when she felt most alone, the memory of him had been a comfort to her, late at night. Her friendship with Jackson was the closest she’d ever felt to being safe, and cherished, and treasured. The closest she’d ever been to anyone, ever. What if it had been an illusion? What if one week with Jackson revealed that she’d been wrong all along?

“Stop thinking about Jackson Reed!” she said to the empty room. Maybe if she said it out loud, it would actually take.

She pressed a button on her phone to replay the last message. She’d missed it completely, thinking about Jackson, and fear, and being alone forever. Good job, drama queen, she thought, and snorted. She was glad to hear her sister’s voice, finally.

“Hey, it’s me. Um, don’t hate me, but I’m just calling to remind you about dinner with Mom.” Ava cringed. What Ellie was too sweet to say was, ‘Please, for the love of God, don’t make me go alone.’ How could Ava let her little sister deal with that all on her own? Ellie was stuck with their mother the rest of the year, but she shouldn’t have to bear the burden alone during the holidays.

“And it’s Christmas, Ava,” Ellie’s voice said. “And don’t roll your eyes, I’m not being sweet. I just want to see you.”

Ava laughed, rooting around for her pajamas. Ellie couldn’t help but be sweet, even when she was trying to be a bitch. Ava tried to tell her, you can’t fight who you are, but Ellie was a stubborn little sister.

Wait, who can’t fight who they are? Ava stopped halfway through getting her pajama pants on and nearly fell over. Did I just accidentally give myself good advice?

Jackson had told her he knew what she really was. That he was going to show her.

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