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Untamed Love


By Anton Swanepoel






Copyright © 2017 Anton Swanepoel

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means. Nor stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author.


Published by Anton Swanepoel at Smashwords


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Disclaimer


All characters in this book are fiction and figments of the author’s imagination.




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Table of Contents

Disclaimer

Chapter 1: The Challenge

Chapter 2: The Big Day

Chapter 3: Moving On

Chapter 4: Time To Go

Chapter 5: Blood Lust

Chapter 6: The Long Ride

Chapter 7: Death

Chapter 8: Where Is He?

Chapter 9: Seeking Answers

Chapter 10: The Choice

Chapter 11: Facing Fears

Chapter 12: Will Love Win?

About the Author

More Books by Anton



Chapter 1: The Challenge


9th floor, Investment International, Manhattan New York


Aurora’s hazel eyes soaked the words up that hinted at romance and adventure while they danced on her laptop, her coworkers forgotten. Licking her full lips, she leaned forward to get a closer look at the book’s cover. This is so ridiculous. Her heart pounded in her chest while her finger hovered over the mouse button. Just as she brought her focus back to the book’s title, a lock of her long curly auburn hair fell over her eye. Not that she needed to read it, the title was ingrained in her memory; she had only been staring every day for the last week at the book.

“Surfing the internet at work?” Aurora gasped when Emily spoke next to her. She failed to notice that Emily left her desk and walked over to hers. And how could she miss Emily’s perfume? Who wears a seductive perfume like Beyonce Heat with its fruity, floral, and woody mix to work? And that low cut, body-hugging red dress is overstepping things.

“Backpacking Southeast Asia, by Anton Swanepoel.” Emily laughed. ” Are you finally leaving us?”

“In your dreams.” Aurora sneered and locked eyes with Emily’s. Up until a month ago, the two managers kept out of each other’s hair. All changed with Josh’s resignation.

“I am going to Cambodia for a vacation after I close the deal on Monday.” Aurora finally said, causing Emily to break eye contact and look at the laptop screen. Ha, I won, Aurora laughed inside.

“Backpacking is not a vacation that is slumming it. But I guess that is all you are used to and deserve.” Emily cut back. Aurora’s face reddened, and her eyes narrowed. Emily liked to flaunt that her family was rich, and that she owned a luxury apartment in Manhattan, while Aurora rented a small one-bedroom apartment out of the city.

“Has it got something to do with that 22-year-old vow you made?”

“It’s a promise not a vow, but yes.” Aurora replied, wishing she never told Emily about the promise.

“Whatever. Well, have fun with the bedbugs and other insects from your book tonight; I am going on a dinner date with Rick.” Emily threw the words in Aurora’s face. She had been waiting the whole day for the best time to brag about it. It was just the right news to spoil Aurora’s weekend. The color drained from Aurora’s face, and a warm victory feeling filled Emily from her toes up. It was no secret between the women in the office that Aurora was mad about Rick, the company director. He looked more as if he should be on the cover of Sports Illustrated with only shorts on, than an investor in a suit.

“You did not.” Aurora gasped.

“If you have insecurities about sleeping with him, I am not going to lose out on having those muscular arms hold me.” Emily laughed, then turned and walked back to her desk. Aurora’s thoughts and emotions were in a tumble drier, just as Emily planned. One side of Aurora wanted to jump up, punch Emily, run over to Rick’s office, and kiss him. The other side of her agreed with Emily and her late grandmother, she did not deserve a man like Rick. Aurora crushed a piece of paper under her desk while imagining it was Emily’s throat. With Emily’s slender figure, huge implants and fake charm, she could get any man in bed with the bat of her eyelashes. And, like a praying mantis, once she used them up, she discarded the men like trash. Emily slept her way up the corporate ladder. Anyone who stood in her way she dealt with through backstabbing or manipulation. No doubt Emily will open her legs for Rick tonight, Aurora’s dream man.

“Well, I need to go put something more revealing on for tonight.” Emily winked as she picked up her hand bag and walked out of the office. Emily gave an exaggerated hip swing as she walked, causing nausea to rise up in Aurora. Rick was to make a recommendation in the next few days to the board members as to who between her and Emily should be promoted to senior manager, Josh’s old position. With Emily entertaining Rick for the night, it almost zeroed Aurora’s chances of a promotion, unless she can get the deal through on Monday.

Rick’s muscular body passionately embracing Emily filled Aurora’s thoughts and her breathing hastened. Aurora jumped up and threw a pen after Emily but missed the doorway completely. With a clang, the pen bounced off the glass partition wall of the office, landed on the floor and rolled behind Aurora’s chair.

“You will not get the promotion,” Aurora hissed and then clenched her jaw. Crimson faced, her eyes threw daggers at the door. A few office employees outside peered over their cubicle partitions at her then ducked down when she looked at them. Seeing Aurora upset was a shock for them. Aurora was always calm, friendly, helpful and full of energy. Aurora took a deep breath, and then dropped into her chair.

Aurora ran her fingers over the rough brown paper ledger than contained her ticked for a promotion and a better life. The documents inside were an investment portfolio worth $100 million, the company’s largest single investment deal yet. Although Emily helped her to an extent with the portfolio, it was Aurora’s baby. Slowly, Aurora pulled the papers out. Her fingers trembled while she looked over each investor’s details that she personally sourced by going from hospital to hospital until she had enough rich doctors to create the group portfolio. All other investments the company dealt with were of single rich people. With the large single investment, they did not need to buy into other schemes, but could create their own and negotiate better investment terms.

The money would be invested in countries such as Bahamas and Cayman Islands where sizeable sums of money could be invested tax free through legal loopholes. This allowed the investment to make a substantial return on investment. On paper, investors owned shares in offshore companies that often consisted of little more than post boxes in exotic locations. Holidays became business meetings. Carefully Aurora replaced the documents and closed the folder. All the information she needed was already captured within the system, she just needed to finalize the presentation. Aurora leaned back in her chair and sighed. Everything was completed a week ago, but her drive for perfection had seen the meeting delayed until Monday. Not that the doctors needed much convincing. All had already verbally agreed, and Monday’s meeting was more to answer any last questions and then sign the paperwork. Aurora locked her fingers and stretched her arms out in front of her. The clock on the wall chimed 3 pm, drawing Aurora’s attention to it. A quick once-over and I can go home for the weekend. If I push hard, I can be home by seven tonight, have dinner and a bath, and be in bed by eight, perfect. Aurora’s lips thinned slightly and her eyes lit up. She rubbed her palms together. When I close the deal on Monday, the board will never accept Emily for senior manager even if Rick nominates her.

Aurora took a deep breath, kicked Emily from her thoughts, and then let her eyes rest on her laptop. Gently she bit her lower lip. The guidebook on backpacking mystical and remote locations begged for attention. Bugs, dirt, noisy roommates and winging it on vacation were not for her, but Jeni her best friend had suggested it as a good guide book to get. Angkor Wat in Cambodia had called to Aurora since she was four. However, she feared the answers she may find there. Jeni went a few months back, but work kept Aurora from joining her. Jeni’s descriptions of the place, as well as the wild tales of making love at some remote temple was the final push Aurora needed to agree to go. If there was a place Aurora dreamed of being seduced, it was at a remote temple.

“Why not?” Aurora whispered and then clicked the buy button. While Amazon sent the eBook to her iPad mini, ready to be devoured later, Aurora closed the internet browser and opened up the portfolio files as well as her presentation. For an hour, she fought to keep Emily out of her mind, but lost.

“I hope you choke on your dinner.” Aurora cursed then pushed her chair hard away from the desk. The pen on the floor jammed in one of the chair’s wheel. Aurora’s heart stopped and her jaw dropped when the ceiling came into view. With a thud, she landed on her back. For a moment, Aurora ground her teeth, then she burst out laughing. Giggling she pulled her skirt down over her lean legs in case one of the men came storming in. Sadly, no hero came to her rescue, the story of her lonely life. Shaking her head, she slowly stood and righted her chair. Yes Jeni, I know; my temper causes much of my own problems.

“Are you alright Miss Aurora?” Dorothy, Aurora’s personal assistant stepped into the office. Her cubicle was directly opposite Aurora’s office.

“Never better.” Aurora smiled and stood. 63-year-old sweet Dorothy walked over with a cup of hazelnut and chocolate topped Caffè latte, or Aurora’s delight as Dorothy called it. Carefully she put it down on Aurora’s desk.

“Oh thank you Dorothy, it is just what I needed.” The office loved Aurora when she convinced Rick to install the expensive coffee machine in the kitchen. She had argued that it was cheaper than workers going out to purchase coffee and be unproductive.

“I know it is none of my business, but if I may Miss Aurora. Are you more upset that Emily is going on a date with Rick, or that she may get the promotion?”

“I, I don’t know.” Silence filled the office for a moment.

”When you figure out which one matters more, go for that one.” Dorothy put her hand on Aurora’s shoulder. “It is past four. I am leaving now. Everyone else is already gone for the weekend, please do not work too late tonight.”

“I won’t. Have a lovely weekend Dorothy.”

“You too Miss Aurora.”

The aroma drifting up from the desk tingled Aurora’s nose and relaxed her mood. The velvet liquid warmed her from the inside. Well if Rick wants to sleep with Emily, let him. If he is that easy, then I do not want him. I want a knight that will fight for me, and then carry me away in his arms. That can make me forget about the world as we make love and make me want to scream, I Love You. With her priorities in line, Aurora immersed herself in her work.

The clock on the wall stood at 22 past seven when Aurora finally finished. Quickly she saved the PowerPoint presentation as well as the portfolio files on her laptop. Her finger hovered over the mouse button. I always save a backup copy of the presentation on the company server. Why is my gut telling me not to? It is stupid not to have a backup, and only myself and Rick can access the files. Aurora shrugged her shoulders and backed up the PowerPoint Presentation on the company server. With a quick email she directed the weekend staff to make 25 copies of the portfolio documents and have them bound in folders, then have them delivered to the Hilton hotel early Monday morning. The documents contained additional information not shown in her slides, as well as the legal documents needed to be signed to conclude the deal. The meeting was scheduled for 10 am in one of the hotel’s meeting rooms. Aurora was proud of the system she helped put in place. It would allow her to concentrate on getting ready for the meeting, knowing that experienced staff saw to the documents being correctly bound and delivered on time. It also impressed the clients when additional staff showed up for a meeting and helped prepare for a presentation.

Satisfied that all was perfectly planned, she leaned back in her chair and picked up her iPhone from her desk. With a few swipes and taps on the screen, she ordered an Uber pick up. Normally, she would walk the two blocks to the subway, take the train out of the city and then walk the four blocks from the station to her apartment, but Emily messing with her head made her an hour late. Besides, January in New York was not ideal for night strolling, plus it was the thirteenth of the month. Aurora looked at the confirmation on her phone and stood. 15 minutes and the ride will be here. Just enough time to lock up. It is going to be a perfect weekend, and on Monday I will secure my promotion.



“Is this you?” The Uber driver asked while he brought the car to a stop in front of an old apartment complex, 12 stories high and 15 windows wide. Its’ rough grey walls were a stark contrast to the soft white snow coming down.

“Yes. Thank you for the ride.” Aurora said and took out her cell phone. With one swipe on her phone she accepted the charges and then climbed out. Aurora gasped when the icy evening air slammed into her. Slush crunched under her black leather boots while she ran to the entrance, her laptop bag firmly clutched against her chest. Behind her, the Uber driver honked his horn. Aurora resisted the temptation to turn around and wave. I don’t need this now. I can feel his eyes burning on my ass. He practically drooled over me the entire way over. I wore this outfit for Rick, not him. A gust of air slammed into her when she opened the lobby door, and a shiver ran through her. What I need now is Rick’s toned muscles against my naked body and his hot lips on mine. Aurora skipped the elevator and ran the two flights of stairs up to her apartment. She needed to release some pent up energy before she exploded. The running also helped to partially clear her mind. Aurora fumbled with her door lock and then kicked the door.

”Damn you Emily. I deserve Rick more than you do. You only want to use him.” Aurora cursed. Clenching her jaw, she fought the anger that rose up in her. After counting to 10, Aurora tried the lock again and succeeded in opening the door. A familiar cherry sent hugged her when she entered the apartment, and gave her a bit of comfort. Aurora’s emotions were split between being mad about Rick going on a date with Emily, and blaming herself for not accepting his dinner offer two months ago. She had yearned to say yes, but he just popped into the office and asked her to join him after work. She did not have the right outfit on and wanted their first date to be perfect. Aurora kicked the door closed, then dropped the house keys on the glass dining table to the left of the door. After dropping her laptop bag in the beanbag to the right of the room, then walked to the wood wall unit against the right wall. She turned the hi-fi on. While soft flute music filled the living room, she walked over to the open-plan kitchen to the left of the dining room and inserted a single-serving cup in the coffee machine. No TV decorated the wall unit that housed the hi-fi, that’s what cinemas are for. The hi-fi’s only companions were a few trophies won in Karata championships and a framed picture of Aurora’s parents kissing, her most prized possession. With a cup of Aurora’s delight in hand, she walked over to the bean bag, moved her laptop bag to the three seat couch next to the bean bag, and then dropped into the beanbag. The soft plush leather folded around her slender athletic figure and gave her comfort. Memories of long hours spend reading books filled her mind while she sipped the velvet liquid.

Aurora froze. Will Rick really sleep with Emily on the first date? What if I am working myself up for nothing, and he just takes her for dinner? Hope flickered inside Aurora and lifted her spirit. Monday, I will close this deal and get the promotion. Then I will deserve a man like Rick. Aurora’s gaze fell on the Japanese swords that hung on the wall next to the wall unit. A first price she won while competing in Japan. The highest honor in her style. Sadly, even that did not impress her grandmother. Aurora stood and walked to the fridge, then pulled out a microwave meal consisting of chicken and vegetables. Expertly she slid the plastic container out of the box while walking to the microwave on the kitchen counter. Still thinking about Emily and Rick, Aurora pulled a top drawer out, grabbed a fork, and then stabbed holes in the plastic film while imagining stabbing Emily. Satisfied that she killed Emily and gave the meal enough holes for the steam to escape, she popped the container in the microwave and set the timer. While the microwave nuked her food, she pulled a bottle of red wine from the fridge and poured herself a glass.

Aurora finished her glass before the microwave acclaimed victory over the food with a ding. Grabbing the same fork she killed Emily with, she headed for the bean bag and made herself comfortable. The normally tasty food was bland in her mouth. Aurora stared at a piece of chicken on the fork. I am sure Emily and Rick had a super nice meal at an expensive restaurant. Ahhh, why can’t I get them out of my head? Aurora jumped up, replaced the flute music with rock music and turned the volume up. She grabbed her iPad mini and cellphone from her laptop bag, then headed for her bedroom situated at the end of the living room. Her love for oriental culture was more pronounced here. A futon served in place of a bed. Two pink paper lanterns hung from the ceiling and bathed the room in a soft glow. Cream silk bedding adorned the bed, the only luxury Aurora allowed herself. Sleeping naked, she loved the feel of silk on her skin, like a lover’s soft touch that she yearned for.

Aurora undressed while she moved to the en-suite bathroom, and left a trail of clothes on the floor. The twice weekly hour-long karate classes and weekend jogs through the park kept her fit. With her five foot seven strong and lean frame and perky c-cup breasts, she turned a lot of heads. Just not the one she wanted. At 28, she was debt free, a manager, and had a promising future ahead of her. Aurora placed the iPad and cellphone on the floor, then opened the bath taps. Carefully she measured a bottle cap of apricot and coconut bubble bath out, then shrugged her shoulders and poured two caps worth of bubble bath in the bath. Aurora cupped her breasts and gave them a little squeeze. Rick, you could have had these tonight, but you chose plastic. See if I care. Aurora tipped her nose up and inhaled sharply, then stepped into the bath. Soft bubbles caressed her body. After closing the taps with her toes, she picked up her iPad. Her eyes devoured the backpacking guide while her mind imagined Rick joining her on exploring remote temples. Sadness filled her heart when thoughts of Emily taking her place alongside Rick popped up. Aurora placed the iPad on the floor next to the bath, then picked up her phone and dialed Jeni.

“Hello darling.” Jeni answered in a laughing tone.

“Hello.”

“What’s wrong?” Jeni was immediately alert when Aurora did not respond with her normal cheerful voice and jokes. Aurora was a bubbly person and when she was short on words, something had upset her greatly.

“Rick dumped me and cheated on me.” Aurora choked out while tears formed in her eyes.

“What? Your dream guy and boss?”

“Yes.”

“Ah, I am sorry. Do you want me to come over?” Concern filled Jeni’s voice. She had warned Aurora before that her crush on Rick was not healthy for her.

“No no, I just want to talk a bit.”

“Okay. But hold on. When did you guys start to go out? You said nothing.”

“Well, we have not exactly been on a date yet.” Aurora admitted sheepishly.

“So how did he dump you and cheat on you then?”

“He is going on a dinner date with Emily tonight.”

“What? That cow that climbs the corporate ladder one dick and knife stab at a time?” Jeni gasped.

“Yes.”

“I am so sorry Aurora. I did not expect Rick to fall for her fake boobs.”

“Me neither. Hey, but I got the book you told me about. I never thought it was so cheap to travel in Cambodia and Thailand.” Aurora changed the subject knowing if they continued to talk about Rick that Jeni would demand to come over. Aurora needed a hug tonight, but not from Jeni.

“Told you. You will have a blast there. When is this next deal done?”

“Monday is the big presentation. I expect them to sign there and then. All should be wrapped up by Tuesday.”

“Well then, there you go. Start packing your bags. In a few days you are heading to Cambodia on vacation.” Jeni cheerfully exclaimed.

“Just like that hey?” Aurora laughed.

“Just like that. You have been planning to go after you secured the deal, or are you chickening out?”

“No, I am going. Scared, but I am going.”

“Are you going to finally ask Rick on a date when you get the promotion?”

“I don’t know.“

“Ask him to go with you to Cambodia. Imagine making love to that hard body of his at some remote temple. Angeline Joli style.” Aurora’s cheeks turned red, and her rose buds hardened. Butterflies fluttered in her stomach and then dived straight down, causing Aurora to open her legs. Aurora swallowed hard when the butterflies caused swelling at the apex of her legs, the little sluts. Aurora slid one hand down to between her legs and touched herself while imagine it was Rick’s hand. Her breathing raced while her hand moved faster and faster.

“Aurora, you still with me?” Aurora jerked when Jeni’s voice ripped her to reality.

“Shit shit shit.” Aurora yelled when her phone slid out of her hand and into the bath. Frantically she searched through the foam bubbles for it. By the time she pulled it out, it was too late.

“Nice going Aurora.” Aurora scolded herself, then burst out laughing when she thought of what Jeni would say when she told her why she dropped the phone. Aurora placed the phone on the bathroom floor next to the iPad, and then slid back into the bath. She may as well finish what she started before Jeni showed up. With the talk they had and the phone going dead, Jeni would rush over immediate. Bubbles tickled her throbbing rose buds as they popped against them. Aurora’s hand moved to the apex of her legs. Closing her eyes, her hand became Rick’s. His fingers glided over the pearl of her womanhood then in and out of her portal of pleasure. His lips burned hot on her’s. Aurora’s heart beat widely and she gasped for air while her body exploded in ecstasy, coming from deep down inside her to wash all over her. Panting, Aurora let the feeling ravage her senses while she relaxed her muscles. She lay still for a few minutes, then quickly washed and climbed out of the bath, dried herself, then dressed and waited for Jeni.

True as a friend Jeni was, she banged on Aurora’s apartment door two hours later.

“What the hell?” Jeni blurted out the moment Aurora opened the door, then jumped forward and hugged Aurora.

“Sorry. I dropped my phone in the bath.”

“I thought maybe you killed yourself over Rick.” Jeni said, her voice stern. She gave Aurora another hug, then let her go and stepped into the apartment.

“Wait, how did you drop your phone in the bath?” Jeni asked while Aurora closed the door. Aurora turned cerise and looked down at the floor while she played with her thumbs.

“Aurora?”

“Well.” Aurora swallowed nervously. ”You know when you said maybe Rick could join me in Cambodia.”

“Yes?”

“Well, then you talked about making love at some remote temple.”

“You imaged having sex with him and dropped your phone in the bath.” Jeni burst out laughing.

“Kinda.”

“Welcome to being a woman." Jeni snorted, tears running down her face. ”Hey, I think I dropped five phones in the bath while reading some erotic novel. I now have one of those waterproof iPhones.”

“I am so stupid. I am madly in love with him, but am afraid of going out with him, and now Emily stole him.”

“Sugar, the man is not dead, and it is just one date. Let’s have some wine.” Jeni said and put her arm around Aurora’s shoulder. Together they walked to the fridge, where Aurora took out a wine bottle, while Jeni got them wine glasses.

“Is Rick going to be there at the meeting on Monday?” Jeni asked.

“Yes, why?”

“Well, there you go. Wear something that will make him forget Emily.”

“I don’t have anything that will do the trick.”

“Then tomorrow we will go shopping Aurora.”

“You think it may work?”

“Of course. I have just the thing in mind that will make his head spin. You are so much hotter and smarter than that cow.” Jeni winked. “Now come, let’s forget about Monday and Rick and have some wine. “

“You staying the night?” Aurora gasped.

“Of course, my best friend has an emergency.” Jeni laughed.

“Thank you.” Aurora hugged Jeni and fought to keep back the tears. She could not wait to see the outfit Jeni had in mind, nor the expression on Ricks face. Jeni knew how to dress to impress.



Chapter 2: The Big Day


Satin bedding glided over Aurora’s soft skin while a sharp shrill filled her bedroom. With a grunt, Aurora lifted her head from the pillow she was embracing and snoozed her alarm. 8:00 am. A second later Aurora bolted upright, her heart pounding. It’s Monday, today my life changes. Aurora jumped up and sprinted for the bathroom to remove the pressure on her bladder. Relieved, Aurora stepped into the bath and opened the tap for the showerhead. Hot water mixed with sandalwood and lavender shower gel caressed her skin. Breaking all previous records, Aurora was done in the bathroom and stood in front of her bedroom dresser table. A sensual body-hugging low-cut dress already waited for her body. Jeni insisted she wore it, but Aurora had doubts. It was a business meeting after all. Aurora picked up the black see through underwear, Jeni’s color; Aurora preferred pink. She chewed on her lower lip for a moment, then tossed the clothes on the bed. The knot in her stomach released. Sorry Jeni, I am just not as wild as you. Aurora selected a light grey smart business suit and see-through pink Victoria Secret underwear, just in case she did end up asking Rick out for a meal after the meeting.

A banana and apple served as breakfast while presentation high points milled in Aurora’s head. Satisfied that she was as ready as she could be, she grabbed her laptop bag from the glass table in the dining room, her thick overcoat that hanged over the couch, and then headed out. With her company phone drowned, Aurora had to stand in the street to hail a cab. Icy morning air slammed into her face, reddening her cheeks. Aurora pulled the collars on her overcoat up. As soon as the meeting is done, I will give the phone to the tech service department to replace. Slush cracked when a yellow cab pulled up next to her.

“Hilton hotel.” Aurora said when she jumped into the back seat. Cherry aroma enveloped Aurora, and her eyes widened. Mom? Confused she looked around, then relaxed and leaned back into the seat. A sent bottle swayed to and fro from the rear-view mirror. The cab fought through soft snowflakes that floated down, and angry drivers filled with Monday morning road rage.

“Here we are.” The driver said when he brought the cab to a stop. The clock on the dash next to the fare meter read 9:30 am, perfect timing. Aurora paid the cab, buttoned up her overcoat, and then jumped out. With fire in her step she headed for the hotel’s lobby. Ignoring the cold, Aurora held her head high and nodded at the doorman when he opened the door. Entrances always mattered in business meetings. With purpose and squared shoulders Aurora approached the reception desk. Aurora resisted the urge to look around and search for Rick. She put a little more sway into her hips, just in case he watched her enter.

“Good morning. I am Aurora Newton from Investment International.” Aurora smiled when she reached the reception.

“Good morning. How can I help you?”

“Was there packages deliver from my company to here?”

“Yes, it arrived Saturday. I personally accepted them.” Aurora took a step back. Saturday? Why Saturday, I hope they are still sealed. Aurora’s heart rate quickened.

“Where are the packages now?”

“I do not know.”

The color drained from Aurora’s face. An arctic shiver rand down her spine. She swallowed hard while panic threatened to overtake rational thought.

“What, what do you mean you do not know? Where is the meeting room?” Aurora stuttered.

“What meeting?” The clerk’s eyebrows dipped and she scanned Aurora down and up for a moment. The world around Aurora started to crumble and she grabbed onto the reception desk.

“Investment International booked a meeting room for today for 30 people.” Aurora said louder than she wished. The receptionist flipped through a book then looked up.

“The meeting was moved to Saturday past.” The words slammed into Aurora. Her knees almost buckled. She was practically hanging onto the reception desk. Darkness closed in around her. Her heart beat raced. Her breathing was fast and shallow.

“Why, why was it moved? Who changed the date?” Aurora blurted out in near panic. The receptionist dropped her gaze to her book.

“I don’t know who changed the booking, but a Miss Emily Heart from Investment International ran the function on Saturday.”

Aurora’s knees gave in and she dropped to the floor. No, this has to be a nightmare. Her heart tried to burst through her chest. Aurora gasped for air. The receptionist’s voice sounded miles away when she called Aurora’s name, then for help. Aurora did not care who the receptionist called. No one could help her now. Seconds later, strong hands picked her up and carried her to a couch in the lobby. A damp cloth wiped the sweat from her brow.

“Drink this.” A male voice said and a can of Coca-Cola was stuffed into Aurora’s shaking hands. Warm male hands helped her hold the can while she took a few sips. Slowly, color returned to her face.

“I am Doctor Martin Harris, the hotel’s doctor. How are you feeling?”

“Better thank you.” Aurora lied. Dread formed a pit in her stomach. She struggled not to throw up.

“Is there someone we can call?”

“No thank you. I need to get to work.”

“You almost fainted. I suggest you go to the hospital or at least home with someone.”

“I will be okay, thank you. I just received bad news and need to get to work.” Aurora slowly rose. Fire filled her eyes, and anger engulfed her heart. Emily will die for this.

“Thank you for the soda doctor. What do I owe you?”

“Don’t worry about it, just get some rest.”

Aurora nodded to the doctor then picked up her laptop bag that was placed next to the couch. She downed the last of the soda on her way to the door. The doorman opened the door and raised his hand to signal a cab.

“Are you sure you will be okay?” Doctor Harris called from behind.

“Yes, thank you. I will be now.” But not Emily.



The sun just started its descent for the day when Aurora’s cab stopped in front of the complex Investment International was based in. Aurora’s guardian angel sat on her shoulder and begged her not to go in, she threw him into the slush in the road. Aurora paid the cab and walked to the lobby, not bothering with her change. Stunned faces watched her pass security while she gave only short replies to greetings. The elevator ride to the ninth floor felt like ages, and angered Aurora more. Rick better take my side in Emily steeling my deal, or he is dead as well.

“Good day Aurora.” Candice said when Aurora entered Investment International’s reception aria.

“Good day Candice.” Aurora forced herself to smile.

“I am sorry.” The sincerity in Candice’s voice stopped Aurora dead. Does everyone know?

“Sorry for what?” Aurora demanded, causing Candice to look down.

“It is better if Mr. Rick tells you.”

“I am sorry Candice, I did not mean it. It has been a rough day.”

“I understand. Good luck.” Candice did not dare to look Aurora in the eyes. Clenching her jaw, Aurora ignored the eyes that peeked over cubicle partitions while she walked to her office. Bloody hell, the whole office knows already that Emily stole my deal. Aurora’s heart stopped when she rounded a corner in the passageway. A man was carrying her stuff out of her office. Aurora’s face turned red and lava flowed through her veins. Two staff members in the passageway bolted out of her way and ducked into the nearest cubicles, then peered over the partitions at her.

“What the hell are you doing?” Aurora shouted and stormed the man, but then stopped dead when something caught the corner of her eye. Slowly, she turned her head. In her office was a man painting lettering on the glass office door. Senior Manager Emily Heart. Aurora’s left eye twitched, and an artery bulged on her temple. She balled her fists at her sides until her nails dug into her palms.

“We have been told to move these things to another office, one floor down.” The man stuttered.

“One flood down.” Aurora yelled, causing the man to cringe. The eight floor was for low level staff that worked on smaller projects. It took Aurora three years of working her butt off to get out of that dump. It took Emily only one, and a number of leg spreads.

“Put that down, I will be right back.” Aurora hissed and then stormed down the passageway towards Rick’s office. With each step, her blood pressure rose, while behind her, people slowly left their cubicles and piled in the passageway. Aurora ground her teeth when she stopped in front of Rick’s office. The glass door was closed and all the blinds drawn.

“You are so handsome when you frown.” Emily’s laughter from behind the door cut into Aurora’s heart. Aurora threw the door open with such force that it slammed against the wall. Glass exploded and littered the floor in shards. Emily shrieked and jumped behind Rick’s desk.

“Aurora what the hell?” Rick gasped. He sat on the front of his desk and slowly stood.

“What the Fuck Rick. You let her steal my project and then give her my promotion?” Aurora shouted.

“No one stole your project or promotion. It is the company’s project, and Emily worked just as hard on it as you, having just as much right for a promotion.” Rick countered.

“I got all the doctors to go for the idea. I made the presentation files. I got the banks and places to invest the money. I got the legal documents needed. Fake boobs over there did nothing.”

“Wow, wow, calm down Aurora.” Rick said and held his hands up.

“I am calm.” Aurora snapped, then took a deep breath. “What the hell is going on with my office? Why is my stuff being moved downstairs?”

“The board was so impressed with Emily’s performance on Saturday that they approved the suggestion that she be made senior manager early this morning. Emily and I decided to give you your own team as thank you for the work you put into the project.”

“Approved the suggestion. You suggested her as senior manager?” Aurora gasped.

“Yes. I think Emily and I make a great team.” Rick’s words burned in Aurora’s ears.

“You only suggest her for the promotion because she opened her legs for you the weekend.” Aurora snapped. Rick opened his mouth, then closed it. For a moment he was totally taken aback, then composed himself.

“Aurora, we have been dating for a month now.” Aurora’s jaw dropped. Slowly, she looked from Rick to Emily and back. Rick had a concerned look on his face, while Emily’s face gloated.

“You have been screwing her for a month now?” Aurora stuttered.

“What I do in my time is my business Aurora.” Rick countered.

“You fucking asshole.” Aurora hissed between her teeth. Anger, betrayal, hatred, shock and despair mixed in her body and went rampant with her emotions and mind. Her vision partially blurred and she could not think straight.

“Wow, never thought you had it in you.” Emily laughed.

“Shut up you whore. You have been screwing him since the senior management position opened while planning behind my back to steal this deal.” Aurora cut Emily down.

“Aurora wait...” Rick tried to step in.

“No you wait.” You two have been planning this from the beginning. Waiting until I had everything ready and then went behind my back and closed the deal.“ Aurora screamed, drowning out Rick’s voice.

“Emily tried to get a hold of you on Saturday after the clients phoned her. They could not get a hold of you. The clients needed the meeting done Saturday. One doctor had to leave the country. What was I supposed to do?” Rick yelled back.

“You could have personally come and search for me, postpone the meeting, anything but call that slut in.”

“Aurora you are going too far with your name calling. Please calm down.” Rick held his hands up and took a step closer to Aurora.

“Don’t you come near me with those hands.” Aurora hissed.

“Maybe you should take the vacation you planned. It is already approved.” Rick suggested.

“Vacation, vacation! So that you two can screw each other in my office while I am gone.”

“You are valuable to this company, but you have gone too far now Aurora. You leave me no choice but to report your behavior to the board.”

Emily snickered behind her hands. Aurora threw a death stare at Emily, then turned her gaze to Rick. The two locked eyes for a moment. Aurora launched forward and landed a solid punch on Rick’s jaw. He dropped to the floor like a sack of potatoes.

“I hate you for sleeping with her. I loved you.” Aurora yelled while Emily rushed over and hugged Rick. Shit, what did I just do? What did I just say? Aurora took a step back and covered her mouth with her hands.

“I am sorry Rick.” Aurora blurted out.

“I did not know you felt this way about me Aurora. Please go before you do something that will get you arrested.” Rick said while he slowly stood. He held his jaw with his hand, in obvious pain. Slowly he leaned back against his desk to stabilize himself.

“What is going on here?” Pat, the company security guard yelled from the door.

“Please escort Aurora out of the building as quietly as possible and revoke her access pass until further notice.” Rick said softly, trying to move his jaw as little as possible.

“Are you firing me?” Aurora gasped.

“Take the week off Aurora. You are a manager. It is not for me to decide your future in the company. There will be a formal board hearing when you come back.”

Pat took Aurora by the arm and then gently led her out of the Rick’s office. People bumped into each other while they scurried to get back to their cubicles.

“Best you walk out by yourself. It will look better that way Aurora. I will be a distance behind. I like you, but if you do not go, I will have to drag you out.”

“Thank you Pat.”

“Good luck Aurora.”

Aurora squared her shoulders and took a deep breath. She held her head high while she walked to the reception area where she stopped in front of Candice.

“Can I please use your phone?”

A tear formed in Candice’s eyes when she handed over the phone. Aurora smiled and placed her hand on Candice’s shoulder. She gave Candice’s shoulder a little squeeze, then dialed Jeni.

“Jeni Hello.”

“Jeni, its Aurora.”

“Hi, what’s up sugar? How did the meeting go?”

“Can you meet me for a drink?”

“Oh shit. Yes, half an hour at our normal place?”

“Thank you Jeni.”

“For you, anytime.”

Aurora cut the call and handed the phone back to Candice then turned towards the elevator.

“I am sorry Miss Aurora. You deserved the promotion.” Aurora slowly turned to face Candice.

“Don’t worry Candice, it is not over.” I have enough dirt on Emily to bury her at the hearing. Turning to Pat, she smiled. “Let’s go Pat.”



Chapter 3: Moving On


Freezing wind howled and tucked at overcoats and jackets while boots crushed ice under a grey sky. Inside the upscale New York restaurant the atmosphere was warm and inviting. A jazz band played music in the corner. Aurora slowly turned the wine glass in her hand while she watched life pass by through the floor to ceiling windows. She gave the red velvet liquid another swirl, then took a big sip.

“So, stop keeping me in suspense, what happened? You barely said a word since I arrived.” Jeni demanded from across the table. Aurora finished her glass and then took a deep breath.

“Emily did the presentation on Saturday.”

“What?”

“She closed the deal, and the board approved her promotion this morning. Rick actually had suggested her for promotion. By the time I got to the office, my stuff was already being moved out.”

“Oh Aurora. I am so sorry.” Jeni took Aurora’s hands. “But when did Rick put the suggestion in?”

“Must have been the last week or so. They have been dating for a month.”

“That cow. What did you say to them?”

“I called Emily and Rick a few names, and I punched Rick.”

“You punched Rick, the company director? Crap. And now?”

“I sort of got suspended for a week. There will be a formal board hearing to see if I keep my job.”

“Bloody hell, what a day Aurora.” Jeni let go of Aurora’s hands and called the server over by holding up her empty glass. The server nodded and quickly brought a wine bottle over and refilled their glasses.

“Have you decided on what you would like to eat?” The server asked.

“We better, or this wine is going straight to my head.” Jeni laughed.

“I am not really hungry.” Aurora mumbled then stared out the window.

“Two grilled chicken salads, extra feta, and keep the olives.” Jeni ordered for both of them. The server gave Aurora a questioning look as to confirm the order.

“She will eat, don’t you worry sugar.” Jeni winked at the guy. Red faced the server glided away. Jeni had an Amazonian warrior’s body and was well endowed. Together with her wild spirit, she gave the impression that a night with her, would be a night never to forget. Jeni studied Aurora for a moment, then leaned back in her chair. She ran her thumb over her lower lip while her mind switched into high gear.

“Do you think Rick will press charges?” Jeni asked.

Aurora went white and cupped her mouth. “I did not even think about it. I don’t know. If he does, my career is destroyed. I will never get another job as an investment broker in New York. I would be a failure losing such good a job. I would never get a man, for what man would love a failure like me? Jeni, I am scared.”

“Calm down sugar. What did Rick say after you punched him?”

“Well. Before he could say anything, I said that I loved him. He said that he did not know I felt that way about him. He seemed more shocked about what I said than the punch.”

“Well, there you go. I am sure he will not press charges.”

Aurora opened her mouth to reply but held her breath when the server placed their food on the table. With the adrenalin in her blood mostly depleted, hunger woke up in her. Aurora started on her salad while watching a couple enter the restaurant.

“Today is like the door Jeni.”

“What do you mean?”

“Here we are all warm and cozy inside, and when we pass the doorway, in an instant, we are in the cold and harsh wind. Today my life changed from cozy to disaster in an instant.”

“Okay, that’s it. You are going to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat.”

“I am?”

“Yes. I know you. When you get all philosophical like this, you crawl into your cocoon and sit at home eating ice-cream then cry yourself to sleep while hugging your pillow.”

“What else is there to do?”

“Exactly. Can you do anything until the hearing, no. Will you have the time if you prove you did the work and get the senior manager position, no. Will you ever go if you lose your job, no. So, now is the time to go.”

“What are you doing?” Aurora’s eyebrows dipped when Jeni pulled out her cellphone and let her fingers run a marathon on it. Jeni ignored Aurora for a while, then looked up.

“Right, there is a flight later tonight to Siem Reap. We will finish our meal then go and pack your bags. We can book the ticket on your computer. You are going tonight.”

“Just like that?” Aurora’s heartbeat quickened. A mixture of excitement and fear flooded her body.

“Just like that.” Jeni smiled. “It will be fun. Who knows, maybe you will even meet someone to wipe away the cobwebs down there and clear your mind of Rick.”

“Cobwebs?” Aurora coughed and almost dropped her glass. Tears formed in her eyes while wine came out her nose. While trying to catch her breath, she cleaned her face up with a napkin.

“Honesty, when was the last time you had sex, and I do not mean your hand.” Just then the server arrived to check on them. Aurora and the server both turned bright red.

“Close your mouth sugar.” Jeni winked at the server. “Aurora, if you are afraid that you are out of practice, I am sure sugar over here will be glad to help you remember the bedroom moves.” The server tried to protest and brought his hands up, knocking Aurora’s wine glass. Red velvet bled into white table cloth.

“I am sorry.” The guy stuttered and grabbed a napkin then patted the tablecloth down.

“Calm down sugar. She did not say yes yet.” Jeni snickered and gave the guy a light pat on the bum.

“You are unbelievable.” Aurora giggled. The server gave the two a confused look, not knowing what to do.

“You can go. I will call you if she says yes.” Jeni waved him away with a smile. When the server scurried away, Aurora and Jeni looked at each other, and then burst out laughing.

“There’s my bubbly friend.” Jeni said and hi-fived Aurora.

“Okay, seriously now. You really think I should go?” Aurora asked, then started on her salad again.

“Definitely. You have that guide book I told you about, and I will give you my itinerary and hotels I stayed in. Nothing to worry about.”

“This is actually so exciting. I do not even know what to pack. I have never done anything without triple planning.”

“Aurora, sugar. Cambodia is hot and the backpacker men even hotter. The less clothes you take, the better.” Jeni smiled, causing them both to burst out laughing.

“You make it sound like I am going on a sex trip.” Aurora said when she finally stopped laughing.

“Well, there are nice temples to see between sheets and naked massages.”

Aurora let the comment slide. They finished their wine and salad in silence, and then sat for a moment looking at the snow coming down outside.

“Shall we go pack?” Aurora energetically asked.

“You betcha.” Jeni motioned for the server to come over. “Sorry sugar, Aurora has a headache, maybe another day. You can bring us the bill.” Jeni’s comment drew a stern look from Aurora. The server’s shoulders hung slightly when he walked away. Minutes later, he was back and silently placed the bill on the table without looking up. Aurora and Jeni settled the bill, splitting it, then stood.

“Thank you.” The server smiled when he saw the generous tip.

“This is for being a good sport.” Aurora said, then grabbed him by the lapels and kissed him.

“Wow.” The server uttered when Aurora let him go and walked away.

“What was that?” Jeni laughed and gently hit Aurora on the shoulder when they left the restaurant.

“I have no idea what came over me.” Aurora blurted out, then did a twirl.

“Girl, you are hornier than I thought. Have you actually ever asked a guy out for even a coffee?”

“No.”

Jeni shook her head, then flagged down a cab. “Let’s go argue about what goes in your backpack.” Jeni laughed while they climbed into the cab.



Jeni stretched her legs out on Aurora’s couch, then wiggled her toes in her pink and orange striped socks while she balanced Aurora’s computer on her lap. While balancing a cup of green tea with honey in her left hand, her right hand tickled the keys on the laptop. Jeni shifted her weight, and then glanced at Aurora next to her in the bean bag.

“Aurora. When are you going to get some proper furniture in this place, like a decent couch?”

“I have what I need.”

“Sugar, just because your grandmother did not allow you to have anything in life when she raised you does not mean you cannot allow yourself some luxuries. You deserve to spoil yourself. You work hard for it.”

“Please don’t go there, not tonight. Leave my grandmother in her grave please.”

“Sorry. Right, over two years on your passport as you said, should be enough.” Jeni changed the subject and replaced the plaster on a festering wound in Aurora’s heart.

“Should be?”

“Depends on how difficult it is to get Rick out of your mind.”

“Jeni!”

“Just saying.”

“It is okay Jeni. You do not need to buy the flight tickets for me. I can afford it.”

“I know, but if I leave it up to you to buy, then you are going to fret for days about what the best flights are and what hotels to stay in, and never go.”

“Hey, I like to plan ahead.” Aurora countered.

“Like 50 years ahead.” Jeni laughed.

“I like to plan every detail. That’s what makes me good at my job.”

“And boring on a date.” Jeni snickered. “I am also booking you a room in a dorm with the flight, lots of hunks just for you.”

“No, No. Not a dorm in a backpacker place. I want a single room in a hotel.” Aurora gasped then struggled to get out of the bean bag. She rolled onto the floor and rapidly crawled on all fours to Jeni who laughed while she held the laptop in the air and pushed a button.

“Done.” Jeni exclaimed proudly, then furrowed her brow when she lowered the laptop. ”Houston, we may have a problem.” Jeni said under her breath.

“What have you done Jeni?”

“Well, I accidentally booked you a ticket to Bangkok.”

“Bangkok? I don’t want to go to Bangkok. I want to go to Siem Reap and see Angkor Wat. How did you manage that?”

“It is not my fault. It is yours. You rushed me when I was checking to see the price difference in flying to Bangkok first.”

“Cancel it....Jeni?”

“It is nonrefundable.”

“What? Why?”

“I wanted to make sure you do not change your mind sugar. Just looking out for you.”

Aurora shook her head and then crawled back to her bean bag.

“Now what Jeni?”

“Just hang around Bangkok for a day then take a bus over to Cambodia and fly back from there.”

“No, if I am going, then I am going directly to Angkor Wat. That is why I am going over. To realize a dream.” Aurora snapped.

“Okay okay. You are as stubborn as you are meticulous. It is not a problem. Almost all hotels and backpacker places sell bus tickets from Bangkok to Siem Reap. When you land, just ask a tuk tuk to take you to the hotel I booked you a room, and then buy a bus ticket and off you go, simple. And if you are tired, you already have a room booked, see.” Jeni smiled.

“How long is the trip from Bangkok to Siem Reap?”

“Eight hours about.”

“Ahhh, you are killing me Jeni. Now I need ice cream. You want some?” Aurora said then lazily got out of the beanbag.

“Vanilla?”

“Only for you Jeni.”

“Thanks sugar.”

“I do not know how you can eat that stuff.”

“I open my mouth, chew, and then swallow, easy.”

“Very funny.”

Aurora opened her fridge and took out two small tubs of Haagen-Dazs ice cream. She turned the chocolate-chip ice cream tub twice over. She loved chocolate ice cream with the same passion she hated vanilla. Each, reminded her of a person she lost. Aurora walked back and handed Jeni her ice cream and a spoon, then ran her hand over the back of the couch. The thick woven fabric was slightly rough to the touch. Memories of her mother cradling her and breasts feeding her flooded back. Strange how I can remember that from so long ago, and I cannot remember much of my life growing up with grandmother.

“You done daydreaming? Shall we pack?” Jeni asked and stood.

“Lead on.” Aurora said then followed Jeni to the bedroom where clothes were already spread out over the futon. Aurora scoffed her ice-cream down on the way.

“Is the backpack big enough?” Aurora asked and glanced at the blue Eagle Creek backpack next to her futon. She had bought it two weeks before on a recommendation from Jeni.

“Was for me. It’s 70 liters with an added 24 liters removable day bag. Now, let’s get started.” Jeni picked up a bunch of underwear and threw them at the top of the bed. “These can stay.”

“No. I want extra underwear.” Aurora countered.

“You are going for a week. Why do you insist on taking so much clothes?”

“You never know. They may not have a washing machine. I like being clean.”

“Aurora. They have laundromats all over, and a little dirt will do you some good. Now forget about all those warm clothes you set out. It is warm there.”

“I read it is the rainy season and cold now.” Aurora countered.

“Sugar. Their winter is our summer. Let me handle the packing.”

“No. If I leave it to you Jeni, you will pack only skin tight T-shirts and shorts.”

“That will improve your chances of getting a guy.” Jeni snorted then picked up a pillow. “Dam you are stubborn.” Jeni knocked Aurora over the head with the pillow. Aurora’s jaw dropped and she grabbed a pillow as well and returned the favor. A full-on pillow fight erupted ending with Aurora and Jeni panting where they lay spread out over the bed.

“Nice going Jeni. Now all my clothes are wrinkled.” Aurora giggled. Jeni gave Aurora one last hit with the pillow and then looked at her watch.

“Crap Aurora. We need to get going.”

“Oh hell, where did the time go?” Aurora blurted out and then jumped up. Both just grabbed random clothes on the futon and then stuffed it into the backpack.

“Get your passport and special wallet.” Jeni said and grabbed the smaller backpack and stuffed a change of clothes in it as well as make up and other toiletries that can go in hand luggage. Jeni had given up on getting Aurora to carry a clutch purse instead of her Rip Curl surfer wallet that she bought in Miami.

“Okay, you are set. There is a change of clothes in here for you. It is 19 hours to Malaysia. Freshen up on the airport on your lay over. From there it is only a few hours flight to Bangkok. Put your laptop, passport and wallet in here. Keep this bag with you at all times.” Jeni handed Aurora the smaller backpack and then picked up the larger one. “Hell Aurora. What did you pack?” Jeni strained under the weight.

“Just what I thought was needed.” Aurora laughed.

“Well come along then.” Jeni said then pulled out her phone and ordered an Uber pick up. Jeni struggled out the apartment then looked at her cellphone.

“10 minutes and our ride is here.” Jeni shouted over her shoulder while she continuously pressed the elevator button. Behind her Aurora locked up. Giving up on the elevator, Jeni made for the stairs with Aurora in tow. Aurora shivered when the cold January New York wind hit her in the face. With Cambodia being a lot warmer, she dressed in demin pants, a T-Shirt, and a wind breaker. There was no use to lug around and overcoat. Like two hyperactive kids waiting for the time to open birthday presents, they joked until a silver SUV pulled up next to the curb.


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