Ariel sat at the polished oval conference-room table, along with her colleagues, and listened halfheartedly as the managing partner gave his weekly billing spiel. Ariel Renée Vaughn was one of three female partners at Yates Gilcrest, one of New York's leading law firms, with offices in every major city in the world. Bob's speech on revving up the firm's revenue didn't apply to Ariel, since she had two of the top billing clients on her roster, so she crossed her long legs and gazed out of the huge picture window. From her twentieth-floor vantage point, she could easily see the treetops of Central Park. With fall in full glory, the robust rust, ruby, and citrine hues of the leaves decorated the sky like a painter's colorful palette. Ariel's mind drifted off into a daydream.
She had come a long way from being that little foster-care girl living in a crowded house with five other parentless children. Her mother had given her up for adoption at birth, but she had never been adopted. Ariel spent her childhood drifting from one foster home to the next, until landing in the home of Mrs. Grant, a big-hearted widow who encouraged Ariel to study hard and make good grades so she could get into a good college and land a good job. And that's exactly what Ariel did. With a 4.0 grade-point average and stellar SAT scores, she landed a four-year scholarship to Columbia University and studied prelaw. Months before graduating from Columbia's law school, she was recruited by Yates Gilcrest as a junior associate, and worked diligently over the years, slowly making her way up the ranks. After ten years of hard work, Ariel had finally made partner.
With a hefty six-figure salary, a two-bedroom luxury condo in the ritzy part of town, and one of the most powerful judges in the city as her man, Ariel should have been on top of the world, but she had become restless lately. Something was missing, and she couldn't quite figure out what it was.
"And in closing"--Bob looked around the table at the bored faces staring back at him, waiting impatiently for him to wrap up the meeting--"let's not forget about the annual Lancaster benefit on Friday."
The Lancasters were one of the wealthiest families in the city, with a net worth approaching $1 billion, and the bread and butter of the firm. Every year, the matriarch of the family hosted a gala at the prestigious Waldorf-Astoria to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Attending the black-tie dinner was a must for all of the partners and their significant others.
"With that said, this meeting is officially adjourned."
Ariel gathered her notes and stuffed them into a thick leather-bound legal portfolio. As she stood, she smoothed the narrow pencil skirt that had gathered at her hips. Her figure was voluptuous with a perfectly round sister-girl butt, a full, overflowing C-cup, and a pair of knockout Tina Turner-type gams. Since she worked in an old-boy company with gray-haired staunch Republicans at the helm, Ariel hid her body underneath tailored blazers, buttoned-up blouses, and oversize sweaters to keep the attention focused on her brain instead of her body. She quickly buttoned her suit jacket to conceal the too-tight skirt and marched down the corridor to her corner office.
"Ms. Vaughn, here are your messages," Ariel's assistant said, handing her a stack of pink slips.
"Thanks, JoAnne," she responded, taking the messages.
Ariel closed the door to her office, parked herself behind the masculine mahogany desk, and thumbed through the telephone messages. One was from her Realtor calling about a pricey beachfront property for sale in the Hamptons; one was from her foster mother, Mrs. Grant, with whom she still maintained a close relationship; two messages were from her best friend, Meri; and one was from Judge Hendricks. Ariel and Preston Hendricks had been dating for years, and though they were in a committed relationship, the sheets had long since cooled off. He was like a worn-in pump--comfortable, without pinching your toes. Besides, they were the perfect match on paper. Both were financially secure and well respected in the legal community, and it was just a matter of time before Judge Hendricks threw his hat into the political ring. Ariel would be right by his side all the way to Washington.
She picked up the phone and dialed her foster mom's number. "Hey there, Mom," she said.
"How's my favorite daughter doing?" she asked, using her usual greeting.
"I'm good. Did you get the check I sent?" To the dismay of her foster mother, Ariel sent a monthly check that not only covered household expenses, but was enough for her to treat herself to anything she desired.
"How many times do I have to tell you to stop sending me money?" she scolded. "I get more than enough from the state for taking care of these babies."
"No offense, Mom, but you're getting too old to be changing diapers and running around after those kids."
"Well, if you gave me some grandbabies I wouldn't have to rely on my fosters to keep me company."
Ariel rolled her eyes. Since she had turned thirty a few years ago, Mrs. Grant had been hounding her to marry Preston and have a family. "Mom, I don't have time for babies, I've--"
"Well, I hope you have time for Judge Hendricks," she interrupted. "That man is going places. I saw his picture in the paper yesterday; he was at some kind of fund-raiser. He sho is one good-looking man; sort of reminds me of Mr. Grant when he was that age." Mrs. Grant's husband had died many years ago from a sudden heart attack and she never remarried. "You need to stop working so much and give that man more attention; men like him don't come around every day, you know."
Ariel had heard this comment more than once, and she was getting tired of the mild browbeating. "Yeah, I know," she simply said.
Mrs. Grant could hear the annoyance in Ariel's voice. "Look, baby, I don't mean to be a nag. I just don't want you to end up old and alone like me. Hear me when I tell you that being without a man is no picnic."
"Don't worry, Mom. I'm not going to let Preston slip away. I promise." She smiled into the receiver, trying to comfort the old woman.
"Judge Hendricks is on line one," JoAnne said through the intercom.
"Speaking of the devil, that's him calling me now."
"Well, get off the phone, baby, don't keep the man waiting. I'll talk with you later."
Preston's baritone voice boomed through the speakerphone. "Good morning, Ms. Vaughn."
"Judge," she responded. This greeting was part of their routine, and a reminder of how they met.
Ariel had been clerking for one of New York State's top judges, and on occasion would see a distinguished-looking gentleman rushing through the corridors of the courthouse with his black robe flying open and floating in the breeze. She learned that his name was Preston Hendricks, and he was a recently appointed judge. Though he was older, Ariel was attracted to his assertiveness and often sat and listened in the back of his courtroom.
From Preston's perch on the bench, it was hard for him to miss the attractive young woman with the mouthwatering breasts who hung on his every word. Divorced, with a grown son, he was ready to jumpstart his stalled love life, and she fit the bill perfectly. During a chance encounter in the elevator, he introduced himself as Judge Hendricks. And from that day on, they greeted each other formally until they began dating three weeks later. Though Preston was fifteen years her senior, he was a tiger in bed, showing her positions she never knew existed. She had only been with inexperienced younger men, and being with a more seasoned man was thrilling. His appetite for her was insatiable. He would bury himself between her thick thighs and suck her clit until her body shivered from one climax to the next. He would then fill her slippery wet vagina with his hard, thick shaft and pump them both into another realm of ecstasy.
Early in their relationship, they made love on a daily basis, often three times a day--morning, noon, and night. His ex-wife had been a rail-thin size four, with hardly enough tush for the push. So he absolutely loved Ariel's full-sized, curvaceous body, especially her plump, melon-sized 38-Cs. Often he would call her into his chambers, lock the door, and make her take her bra off underneath her tight sweater. The outline of her large, hard nipples pressing against the fabric drove him absolutely crazy. He would sit in his chair licking his lips and masturbating until he was on the brink of orgasm. It was like having his very own personal porn show. He would then pull her close and lift up the sweater. Ariel had a bright red rose tattooed on her left breast; the flower looked so real that he was always drawn to touch it before sucking and biting on her nipples, until he turned her over his desk, spread her legs, and fucked her from behind. But as the years passed, Preston's focus shifted from his sexual desires to his political agenda, and now if they made love once a month, that was a lot.
"How's your day going?" he asked.
"It's going. I just got out of a boring staff meeting, and Bob reminded us about the Lancaster fund-raiser on Friday. Remember? I had you mark your calendar last month."
"Yes, I remember. But I won't be able to attend."
She exhaled loudly. "What do you mean? All the...