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My Daughter’s a What?
~~ All characters in this book are over 18. ~~
== || || ==
“Okay. That about wraps things up.”
Jim Snyder sighed in relief. The Friday afternoon manager’s meeting for Windhover Cellular always seemed designed to stretch the limits of human endurance, as well as their bladders.
“Except for one thing.”
He muted a groan and closed his eyes. Yes. One more thing. It’s always one more thing, isn’t it, Helen? Why the hell can’t you schedule these things for Friday morning, when we can at least pretend we wouldn’t rather be anywhere else?
“As you all know,” his boss continued, “we’re in the middle of moving to a new operating and billing system. Amy has been spearheading that for the last three months. Unfortunately, she will no longer be able to do so.”
He opened his eyes, staring down the long table in the conference room at the perky, dark-haired woman. A smile of smug satisfaction crossed her lips.
“Leaving us, Amy?” Don Hardin joked.
“No.” Her smile grew wider. “I’m pregnant. I’m due in June.”
Cries of congratulations rose from the other women around the table, and many of the men as well. Jim smiled dully, trying to hide the way his heart twisted in envy.
“So what’s going to happen?” Roxanne asked practically, when the furor died down. She was a short woman with a face like a cheerful bulldog, and along with Jim, was the supervisor for the provisioning department, which oversaw a great deal of the installation of new data services for the company. “I mean, the baby’s not coming out right now, is it?”
Amy laughed, her teeth flashing in the conference room. “If it did, it would be one hell of a surprise. No. Not for about five more months. But my obstetrician told me I’m a high-risk for an early delivery. So it could be June. Or it could be May. Or even April.”
“So we need to make sure that someone is ready and able to pick up the ball and run with it if Amy has to start her maternity leave early,” Helen interjected smoothly. “We’re due to cut over to CloudVision in May. And then we’ll be running CV and the old system in tandem through July, just to make sure that the billing numbers match up. No sense in going to a new system if we’re not billing our customers the right amount.
“But we have to have someone in charge to coordinate with CloudVision. Something always goes wrong.” A series of nods around the table. “Jim, the board has decided that you’re the right person to take this on.”
His head jerked up as the import of her words sunk in. “Me?”
“You. You do still have your project manager certification, don’t you?”
“Well…yeah.” God damn it, he did not want this! “But I haven’t ever used it. And the class I took was six years ago.” He looked around the table, feeling slightly desperate. No one would meet his eye. “Aren’t you sure someone else would be a better choice?”
“Relax, Jim.” Amy smiled down the table at him. “We’re not going to throw you into the deep end of the pool without a lifejacket. I’m going to help you transition over, and Roxanne will take up the load on the provisioning side, so you only have to do one job, not two.
“By the time this little bundle of joy arrives,” she went on, laying a hand on her stomach, “we’ll be fully cut over. Your job will be coordinating fixes with CloudVision and the people here on our side. Think of yourself as the liaison between Windhover and CV.”
He rubbed his forehead. It was no good protesting, he knew. Oh, sure, he could throw a fit and they would eventually give the project to someone else. But it would be a black mark against his employment record. When the time came around next June for his evaluation, the fact that he hadn’t been willing to take this on would probably kill any chance of a decent raise. And he could kiss his bonus good-bye.
Not as if you really need a bonus, though, with Mia taking care of everything. He tamped down the bitter resentment. After all, he’d had lots of practice at it.
“All right,” he said at last, forcing some amount of confident cheer into his voice. “What’s the worst that could happen?”
“The new OSS/BSS fails, the company goes bankrupt, you lose your job, and we all broadcast your failure on social media,” Roxanne grinned, to a wave of friendly laughter. But around the table, Jim thought he could see some concerned looks, as if several people weren’t sure if he was up to the task.
To hell with you. To hell with all of you. “You’re ray of jolly little sunshine, aren’t you?” he grunted, picking up his laptop and climbing to his feet. “Just make sure you don’t destroy the department while I am taking care of this.”
“Jim?” Helen’s voice dragged his attention around. “You’re going to go on the next visit to CloudVision with Amy.”
“All right. When is it?”
“We’re flying down on Tuesday evening,” Amy said. “We’ll come back Saturday.”
He bit back a groan of frustration. yalova escort “Saturday?”
“Yeah. Is that a problem?”
No. Not a problem. All I was planning on was a romantic weekend with my wife in an attempt to save my fucking marriage, he thought savagely. “I guess not.”
“Good. We’ll leave for Raleigh after work Tuesday.”
“Raleigh?” he repeated blankly.
“North Carolina,” Dan put in helpfully.
For a wonder, Mia had arrived home before he did. Her Mercedes was parked neatly on her side of the garage. Jim carefully pulled in next to it, taking care not to let his door bump against the satiny exterior when he climbed out of his Dodge.
The last time he had let that happen, scratching the Mercedes, Mia hadn’t let him touch her for nearly a month.
His face twisted bitterly as he stepped into the house. As always, everything was perfect, not a thing out of place. Mia paid a cleaning service to come in three times a week keep the house spotless. The hardwood floors were polished to a golden glow, the carpets were vacuumed, the windows without a single distracting smudge. Outside, the wicked wind of a Kansas City winter might be blowing, but in here, Mia Nguyen Snyder would have order.
How had it come to this? I feel like an unwelcome guest in my own home. No, not even a home. A museum. Where everything is clean, and beautiful, and I’m not allowed to touch anything.
Including my own wife.
He had met Mia over ten years ago. He had just graduated from Missouri State and had taken what he thought would be a short-term position with Windhover. The financial meltdown of 2008 had been in full flight, and with companies laying off employees by the thousands, any full-time job was welcome to a recent graduate with more student-loan bills than he could handle. His major had been engineering, but he took a job in the provisioning department, figuring that after a year or two, he could transfer within the company and do what he had trained to do.
And there was a cute young woman in the accounts payable department who had gently rebuffed his request for a date, but had suggested that she had a cousin who she thought he might really like. Mia and he had met on a blind date, going to a sushi restaurant downtown. She was five years older than him, ferociously intelligent, already gunning for partner at the financial firm where she worked, and with a young daughter from a previous relationship whom she was more than happy to show pictures of.
He had fallen in love (or, at least, in lust) at first glance. For a young man from a small town in central Missouri, Mia was positively exotic, with her long black hair, her golden Thai skin, her slightly tilted eyes, and her petite, exquisitely curvy body. Meeting her daughter had only reinforced his opinion. Allison was a precocious six, a cute little chatterbox with huge dark eyes and a boundless enthusiasm for cartoons, books, drawing, and her black lab puppy, Milo.
It had seemed a match made in heaven. A ready-made family. After dating Mia for six months, he was sure he was in love with her. And he thought she loved him. When he presented her with a ring on Valentine’s day, she said yes immediately. They had been married a year later, in June, and had settled down to what he had assumed would be a life of domestic bliss.
Until it had all turned sour. Not all at once, with raging fights, thrown whiskey bottles, and infidelity. But slowly, as steady and as unstoppable as the erosion of an earthen dam by a river full of snowmelt in the spring.
At first it had been hardly noticeable. Mia, driven demon to increase her status at her financial firm, began to work longer and longer hours, often not arriving home until well after dark. Her rise, previously steady, became meteoric, and their combined income lifted them well into the ranks of the upper-middle class. They had purchased the home here, in a tasteful suburb of Kansas City, with a huge back yard and way more space than the three of them needed.
But any hope for a larger family was cut short. Mia did not want any more children. And after Jim had rejected her suggestion that he get a vasectomy, she had gone off on her own and had her tubes tied, which had driven him to blank fury. It wasn’t that she didn’t have the right to do what she wished with her body. But the cold-blooded approach, cutting him off completely from even giving his opinion, had made him doubt for the first time whether their marriage could stand the test of time.
From then on, it slowly got worse. Mia’s hours grew longer and longer. She wouldn’t stop. Or perhaps, he had thought in his darkest hours, she couldn’t. Driven by the demons of her deceased parents, who had never forgiven her for having a child out of wedlock before she graduated college, she seemed determined to prove them wrong by fighting her way up the corporate ladder, no matter the cost. The physical affection between the yalova escort bayan two slowly drained away. Lovemaking, which had in the early days of their relationship been spontaneous, joyous, and incredible, became first a routine, and then a weary chore, scheduled by Mia in the same way she scheduled their trips to the dentist. Jim literally could not remember the last time they had made love without it being set up in advance.
And his relationship with Allison had become strained as well. The cheerful, happy girl he had known ten years ago had slowly disappeared. And when he had seen her off at the airport when she left for Duke University back in August, she would barely acknowledge his existence.
All in all, divorce from his wife had become not a possibility, but almost a certainty. He couldn’t pretend any longer that they were in anything that remotely resembled a loving relationship. The only thing which bound them together was routine. He had determined to make one last try at saving things, but the announcement sprung on him earlier that day had scuttled his plans, and he didn’t know if he even had the willpower to make another effort.
“Mia?” he called, closing the door which led from the house to the garage.
“In here,” came the reply.
In her office. Of course.
Mia Snyder was still a lovely woman. Not yet forty, her hair was still a glossy black, though she seldom let it down anymore. Today she wore it up in a tight knot at the nape of her neck, with a pair of ivory hairpins thrust through the mass, accentuating her Asian heritage. Even on a Friday, she wore a dark jacket over a rose-colored silk blouse and black skirt, which appeared to downplay her womanly curves while at the same time subtly enhancing them. Her manicured fingers flew over the keyboard of her laptop, and her face was set into a frown of concentration which he found entrancing.
“Hi, honey.” He walked over to her, leaned down, and kissed her cheek. “What are you working on?”
Absently, she pushed away the hand which he had put on her shoulder. “Financial forecast for a retirement fund we are thinking about offering as an investment opportunity to some of our clients. Johnson thinks there is something hinky going on in the numbers, and asked me to check it out.”
She frowned, chewing on the end of her pen. “Maybe. Something doesn’t feel…right. It’s like looking into a river in the Amazon. You can’t see the piranhas, but there are a lot of bones around.
“Go on, sit down. You know how much I hate it when you’re looming over me.”
Obediently, he sat in the chair across from her desk, feeling like a teenager brought up in front of the vice-principal of his high school for some middling infraction. “I’m going to have to go on a business trip next week.”
“Oh?” She didn’t look up. “Why? Where to?”
“It’s about the new operating system we’re buying from CloudVision,” he replied, wanting to shout, just so that she would look at him. But her eyes remained fixed on the screen. “Amy’s having a baby, so they want someone to run the project while she’s out.”
He took a deep breath. “So I’ll be flying to Raleigh on Tuesday night. I won’t be back until Saturday.”
The motion of her fingers halted, and she looked up at him, as if finally aware there was someone else in the room. “Raleigh? North Carolina?”
“That’s where Duke is.” Her face lit up in a smile. “You can visit Allie!”
He leaned back in the chair. “Come on, Mia. The kid can’t stand me anymore.”
His wife flipped a dismissive hand at him. “She’s a teenager. They go though phases. You know how it is. One day they need a shoulder to cry on, the next they are shouting at you ‘God, Mother, will you stop babying me, I’m a grown woman, for God’s sake!'”
Mia’s spot-on impersonation of Allie’s voice won a rueful chuckle. “Yeah. But still. I don’t think she said more than thirty words to me during winter break. Even at Christmas, it was just grunts and glares.”
He kept carefully silent about what had happened at Thanksgiving which had made Christmas so uncomfortable. What had made his half-thought suspicions a painful reality. Even the memory made his face burn with shame. About Allison, her voice a quiet whisper in the silence of the living room, offering, promising-
“What?” He started, drawn out of memory.
“I said,” Mia repeated, frowning at him, “that you should take some time to visit her. Check in, see how she’s doing. Take her out to eat, maybe, and make sure she’s not, you know, getting out of control and hanging out with the wrong sort of people.” She grimaced. “You know how easy it is for kids, once they’re out from under their parents’ thumbs. One taste of freedom, that’s all it takes.”
Despite his aggravation at Mia’s controlling attitude, he was forced to agree. He had seen it himself when he was in college. Wealthy kids from the suburbs, free to choose what they wanted, when escort yalova they wanted. Two or three of them, he knew, had been practically alcoholics by the time they were twenty. And there were other dangers as well. Drug abuse, sexual assault…
“I’ll send her a text,” Mia added. “What day would be best for you?” Her cell phone was already in her hands.
He sighed, resigned to yet another time when Mia took over his life. It would be funny if it wasn’t so predictable. “I don’t know. I’ll have to get back to you. God knows what the schedule is going to be like down there. I’m in operations, not billing. And Amy has been working on this project since last fall. It’s going to be like drinking from the fire hose.”
He stood up. “Do you want anything special for supper?”
Mia shook her head, her eyes already back on the computer screen. “No. Whatever you choose will be fine.”
“All right,” he sighed. “Maybe,” he said, hating the tentative sound in his voice, “we could make love tonight?”
“Not tonight, Jim.” She didn’t even look at him. “I’m really busy right now.”
“Yeah.” He didn’t even try to disguise the hurt in his voice. “I can tell.”
When he left the room, he made sure the door was closed firmly behind him.
“God damn it!” Allison Snyder stared at her cell phone.
“What?” her roommate asked.
“My mom just sent me an e-mail. My stepfather,” she sneered, “is coming to Raleigh on some stupid-ass business trip. And she says if he invites me out to dinner I should go.”
“Well, what’s wrong with that?” Mica said. She turned over lazily in the dorm room they shared, her long legs kicking at empty air as she wrote in her notebook. A psychology textbook was at her side. Outside, a raw February wind threw fine droplets of rain against the windows. “You get a night out and a good meal. I’ve seen pictures of him. He’s yummy. It’s not like you have to spend all night with the Elephant Man, or something.”
“Hah.” She flounced into her desk chair. “You don’t know him. The man’s a stuck-up prig.”
“If he’s as good-looking in person as he is in the pictures you’ve shown me, he can stick his prick up me any time he wants,” Mica grinned.
Despite herself, Allie giggled. “Not a prick. A prig. He’s so uptight about sex it’s ridiculous. Even worse than Mom. I bet if he found out about my job at PoleKatz, he’d hit the roof.”
“I don’t know why you work there, anyway.” Mica made a face. “Getting down to your skin while a bunch a fat sweaty guys stare at your tits and try to shove singles in your g-string? Yuck.”
“It’s not just singles.” She took a fat envelope out of her desk drawer and waved it. “I made over five hundred bucks last weekend.”
“So what? It’s still gross. Don’t tell me you need the money, Allie. Your family is well-off. And if you’re looking to get laid, there’s a few thousand guys on campus who would love to get into your pants. You don’t need to shake your ass for those losers.”
Her voice grew low and sultry. “Or you could just hop into bed with me. Again.”
Allie smiled. Mica was a tall, statuesque volleyball player, whose thundering spikes were launched by a pair of awesome legs, and were accompanied by a waving fan of honey-blond hair. It had taken less than a week before she had come out to Allison as bisexual, and in the ensuing months, she had cut a swathe through the ranks of athletes in Duke’s golf, tennis, and gymnastics teams, male and female alike.
“Though,” she had said, one evening when they were in bed together, Allie kissing her incredible breasts, “I’d never fuck someone who wasn’t on the first string. A girl has to have standards, after all.”
“What about the football or basketball team?” Allie had asked, easing a finger deep into her pussy, pumping slowly.
Mica gasped in pleasure, her eyes rolling back. “Those jerks?”” She snorted. “They get too much attention already. Think of this as me striking my own blow for the downtrodden and oppressed.”
“Oppressed. Sure.” She covered her lover’s mouth with a kiss. “World-class athletes on athletic scholarships.” She rubbed her nether lips against her strong thigh, then began to finger her own button. “At one of the most elite universities in the country. They’re just like Oliver Twist.”
“Maybe later,” she smiled. “But not today. I have to work tonight. You’ll wear me out and then I won’t make good tips.”
“Why, Allie?” Mica sat up and frowned at her, her legs crossed Indian-fashion. “Why do you shake your ass for peanuts at a skeevy place like PoleKatz?”
She turned away. “Because I want to.”
“That’s no answer.”
“Deal with it,” she snapped. “Because it’s the only one you’re going to get.”
How could she explain it? And in a way that Mica, as white-bread as it got despite her sexuality, could understand? She lifted her shoulder bag from the floor, choosing the outfits she would wear that night from her closet, and shoving them in with quick jerks of her hands. How could she explain that dancing at the strip club was the only way to deal with the dark, wicked desires deep within her, desires that couldn’t be satisfied by nights with Mica or an afternoon quickie with the cute boy in her chem class?
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