Randall Farmer’s Last Request
While the lawyer fumbled with papers, preparing to read the will, Graham looked over the people gathered in the conference room of the legal office. He knew all but a few, distant relatives of Randall Farmer or possibly representatives of charities that hoped to be named.
Laurie Farmer, only daughter of the deceased, sat in the front row. Graham had worked with her for the past five years in the company Rand had built. They weren’t friends. He couldn’t think of a single issue they’d agreed on in all that time.Rand had always found it amusing that his most trusted assistant and his daughter didn’t get along.
The lawyer cleared his throat and began to speak, offering some general points about the will, emphasizing that Randall Farmer had been in complete charge of his faculties right up to the end. Graham wondered about his insistence on that point. What could be in the document that would demand such a statement? He listened idly as the lawyer intoned the legal jargon.
He’d come solely because the legal assistant who’d invited him had said that he was mentioned in the will. Graham wondered what kind of bequest Rand had left him. They hadn’t known each other long enough for a large memento to be appropriate.
He knew well enough what Laurie hoped for. She’d worked towards it for eight years, since she’d joined the company as a junior accountant and risen to the office of vice president for finances. She hoped to gain control of the company, and Graham thought it likely she’d get her wish.
He listened with only half his mind, but perked up when he heard his name mentioned.
“It being my belief that the future success of the company to which I devoted most of my life would benefit and prosper from the joint exercise of the skills of two people dear to me, my daughter, Laurie Farmer, and my assistant, Graham Norris, I hereby bequeath to them, in joint holding, ownership of Farmer Enterprises, on the condition that they marry within two months of the reading of this document and remain married for the space of one year’s time. Should they not fulfill the above conditions, my executor is hereby directed to arrange the sale of the company at fair market value and distribute the profits according to the terms of the…”
Graham couldn’t hear the rest over the hubbub of the group and Laurie’s protests. He wasn’t sure of what he thought he’d heard, in any case. When the lawyer had hushed the group, Graham asked him to read that section again.
Laurie Farmer turned around to find and glare at him. He ignored her and concentrated on listening. He’d understood it right the first time. He couldn’t imagine what had possessed Rand to make such an arrangement.
Laurie was asking the same question of the lawyer, in much less tactful terms. She was outraged. Graham wasn’t sure how he felt about it, other than noting some admiration for Rand, who’d found a way to manipulate their lives even from beyond the grave.
The lawyer finally quieted everyone so that he could finish the reading. The rest of the will held no more bombshells, just a series of straightforward bequests. At the end of it, the lawyer added that Randall Farmer had left private letters addressed to several of them. This time it didn’t surprise Graham to find himself part of that group.
Unlike most of the others, though, he didn’t immediately slice open the envelope the lawyer handed him. Instead he tucked it in his pocket.
Laurie was still fussing with the lawyer about the provisions of the will when Graham left the room. He headed for home, fixed himself a dry martini, and settled in his favorite recliner before he slit the envelope and drew out the sheets of paper it contained.
Gray, By now you’ve heard the terms of my will, and you are, no doubt, shocked, surprised, and rather dismayed by them. I can’t say I blame you.
But I had my reasons, and I hope that once you understand them, you’ll agree with my reasoning. Farmer Enterprises has been my world since I started the company twenty years ago. I never anticipated the kind of success it’s had, but I’m delighted by it. I want to see it continue. I want it to be my legacy to the grandchildren I’ll never see but hope to have anyway.
Laurie has many talents that will contribute to its success: she’s good with numbers, she understands the engineering end better than most of the engineers, and she has a good sense of the big picture.
In one critical area, though, she can’t cope. I know you are all too aware that she lacks interpersonal skills. I love her very much, but I’m not blind to her faults: she can be arrogant, abrasive, overbearing, and frequently obnoxious. Of course, those talents she lacks are the very ones you possess in such abundance; the skills I’ve come to depend on myself.
Neither one of you has what it takes to run the company successfully on your own.
But if the two of you will work together, you’ll do extremely well. I’m not blind to the magnitude of what I’m asking of you. I considered long and hard before I made that provision, but in the end I was swayed by the fact that neither of you was committed to anyone else, in fact, neither of you was involved in any kind of serious relationship at all. And I’ve watched you both.
You and Laurie do not always see eye to eye on issues, but something happens between you in each others’ presence. I don’t know what it is, but I suspect more than a dash of chemistry in the mix. I hope you’ll give the relationship an honest try; that’s why I added that one year requirement.
If you give it that much time and still can’t make it work, then you can bow out with no loss, and one of you can arrange to buy the other out.
Gray, I hope, for the sake of our long friendship, despite the differences in our ages, that you can forgive me for putting you in this position. I felt it was necessary or I wouldn’t have done it. You know I’m very fond of you, and there isn’t anyone I’d rather have for a son-in-law. Please give it a try.
And try to make Laurie happy if it’s possible. I know she’s a difficult person, but she has a lot to give to the right man. I truly hope that’s you. I want both of you to be happy.
If I might be so bold as to offer a suggestion, I think Laurie needs a man who will stand up to her, one who won’t let her walk all over him. I think she’d respect and might even learn to love a strong man who could assert control over her. But I leave that up to you. This interfering old fool has done all he can do.
Thank you for everything.
Graham read it through three times, then shook his head and lifted his half-empty glass in a salute to his late friend. “You sneaky old fart, I never knew you were such a romantic underneath.”
Over the next few weeks, he continued going to work and doing his job as usual. Laurie moved into her father’s office, but she made no attempt to consult him on anything. Graham felt no urge to push it. Control of the company, even half control, was something he’d never sought. It never crossed his mind that there might be a possibility. And now that the possibility was there, he still felt no overwhelming passion for it. He could wait for Laurie to come to him.
She did, of course. Exactly a month after the reading of the will, she finally asked him to join her in the office which had been her father’s. She wasn’t a bad-looking woman. As he took a seat, Graham admired her light brown hair, large hazel eyes, squarish chin and the high cheekbones which added up more to prettiness than real beauty. It was the fire that lit those features that set them apart.
Her figure was better than average, too. He ran appreciative eyes over the bust visible above the top of the desk. He knew from observation that the hips were well-shaped, nicely rounded, as well.
“I’ve done a lot of thinking about my father’s will,” she said when he remained resolutely quiet, waiting for her to start. “I think I’ve come up with a way to organize things so that we can comply with the terms of the will. We can get married, but that doesn’t mean we actually have to live with each other or… anything. At the end of the year, we can get a divorce, and I should be in a position to buy out your share of the company. I’ll be generous, of course.”
“That does seem to comply with the terms of the will,” he remarked.
She looked startled by his flat tone. “It doesn’t satisfy you?”
“It doesn’t comply with your father’s wishes. Or mine.”
“Your father’s letter made it clear he wanted us to give marriage a real try. I cared for him enough to want to do as he wished rather than just following his directions.”
“You can’t be serious!”
“Entirely,” he affirmed. “I’m intrigued by the idea.”
“You’re out of your mind. We barely know each other. We’ve never agreed on a damned thing in all the time we’ve worked together. The idea is totally insane. We’ll have a hard enough time working together peacefully, without trying to live together as well.”
“Your dad wanted us to give it a try. I’m game.”
“Well I’m not!” She slammed the pen she held down on her desk and continued to argue with him. They wrangled over it, quite noisily at times. After a while, and because she really had no choice once he refused to give in to her attempts at blackmail and bullying, she capitulated, agreeing to marry him and live with him.
Over her objections, he insisted on a public ceremony with friends and family to be invited, and a dinner reception at a nice hotel. He had a harder time winning the battle to get her to sleep with him, but in the end he took that prize as well.
From Graham’s point of view, their first few tries at sex left much to be desired. Laurie was determined not to respond to his attempts to woo or seduce her, and her will was strong enough to overcome even the arousal he could generate. Their stiff, cold “lovemaking” left his body more or less satisfied.
Emotionally though, he became more frustrated and angry with each episode. Laurie, on the other hand, gloried in the fact that she’d finally found a way to jerk him around. She’d lost so many battles in those few weeks that finding she had the power to irritate him thrilled her. She used the power ruthlessly, teasing him seductively when she wanted a decision to go her way or freedom to do something he opposed.
Always a quick learner, she figured out how to be incredibly alluring, too. She could arouse him to the point of not seeing straight, then demand her way as the price of her willing, joyful participation.
It infuriated Graham, but short of swearing off sex with her entirely he saw no way around it. He didn’t want to deny himself. What she did give willingly was heady stuff and rocked him to the core. But he couldn’t let her ride roughshod over him that way. He could see the initial grudging respect he’d detected when he’d refused to give in to her demands for a marriage of convenience turning to contempt as she got her way with him.
The tension between then grew so palpable, their employees tiptoed carefully when both were present. Graham spent a lot of time considering his options. The one he came to favor most represented a considerable gamble that could seriously backfire if he miscalculated, so he hesitated to put it into action.
The crisis came four months after their marriage. Laurie had been pushing for an increase in production schedules for some time. She argued that engineering changes on their assembly lines allowed them to turn out more product than they currently were. Graham pointed out that an increase in line speed would put workers under more pressure than they could handle and refused to allow it. Laurie tried to use her favorite weapon to get her way, but on this issue, Graham stood firm.
When he didn’t hear any more about it for a week, Graham assumed she’d conceded defeat. He discovered his error when two employees came to him to complain about the squeeze they were feeling under the new production schedule. In questioning them Graham discovered that she’d gone behind his back and implemented the increase without his knowledge or consent.
He told the two employees he’d deal with it and dismissed them, then he marched across the hall. Stalking past her assistant and pushing open the closed door, he burst into her office and interrupted her conference with one of the senior vice presidents. “Excuse me,” he told the man, “We have an emergency. Ms. Farmer, we have to go. You can get back with Tom later. This can’t wait.”
He had no idea what she saw in his expression, but she paled a bit and nodded to Tom. “If you’ll excuse me?”
Graham didn’t wait. He took her arm as she stood up and led her to the door.
“What’s the problem?” she asked.
“You’ll find out,” he growled. He refused to answer questions as they went down the elevator to the parking garage, got in his car, and drove home. When she realized where they were going, she protested and fumed. He drove into the garage and parked without a word. Nor did he say anything as he all but dragged her into the house. They got as far as the den before she dug in her heels.
He decided that was as good a place as any to have it out. “You want to know what the problem is?” he asked. “I just found out that you went behind my back and implemented the production increases I vetoed.”
“Well, I just–”
“Can it,” he said. “I don’t want to hear any excuses. There aren’t any.” He paused for a deep breath. “I won’t tolerate it. Your father made us joint owners of the company. I haven’t tried to assert my authority very often, but when I do, I want it to be respected. I’ve had enough of your selfish maneuvering and your sexual blackmail. I’m going to make sure you respect it. And me.”
“What–?” For a moment he saw a stab of fear mix with the anger in her eyes. Before she could say any more, he’d wrapped his arms around her waist and yanked her over to the sofa, flipping her over as he sat, so that she ended up face-down across his lap.
She squawked and protested, struggling to get up against the arm he planted across her back to hold her in place. “What do you think you’re doing? Gray, this is ridiculous, you’re–”
“I’m doing what your daddy should have done years ago. What I should have done sooner.” He pushed her skirt and slip up over her hips so that they bunched around her waist. She wore pantyhose over a narrow scrap of silky fabric. Graham raised his hand and smacked down on one cheek of her nicely rounded bottom.
“Ouch!” she yelled, though the smack couldn’t have hurt all that much. Wounded pride, more than anything. He slapped the other mound just as hard, then followed that up with a series of whacks. Laurie twisted and wiggled, trying to roll off his lap, while alternately cursing him and ordering him to let her go. The more she blustered and protested, the tighter he held her and the harder he spanked. After twenty or so smacks, he paused to peel back her hose, drawing it down her thighs, leaving it bunched above her knees. Her pale green panties didn’t cover much of her bottom; the soft color made a nice contrast to the mild pink flush of the skin where he’d spanked it.
She shivered and began to protest even louder when he yanked the underwear down to her knees as well. “You bastard, Gray, I’ll kill you for this! I’ll press charges… or sue you. You won’t get away with it.”
“We’ll discuss it later,” he promised. “For now, I’m concerned that you remember we’re partners!” The crack of his palm against her bare skin rang out like a pistol shot. It had to hurt more than the spanking did when fabric separated skin from blow. Her yell held more genuine pain than wounded pride this time. A deeper pink print stood out on the flushed bottom, marking the site of the smack. She moaned and wiggled in a most alluring way.
Graham wondered if she could feel how hard he was getting, watching her rounded bottom wriggle and quiver, giving him occasional glances of the furry recess between her legs. He whacked the other mound to make a matching mark on it, delighted by her squeal and bouncing jerk.
She tried to kick, but the pantyhose knotted around her legs limited her. “You can’t do this,” she yelled. “I’ll have you arrested.”
“I doubt it. You deserve this and you know it.” He smacked down across both mounds and into the crease. She squealed. “This is to remind you,” he said, then punctuated each of his next words with a hard slap. “WE.. ARE.. PARTNERS. YOU.. DON’T.. MAKE.. ANY.. MAJOR.. DECISIONS.. WITHOUT.. MY.. INPUT.. AND.. YOU.. WILL.. NEVER.. EVER.. AGAIN.. GO.. BEHIND.. MY.. BACK.. TO.. DO.. ANYTHING! IS.. THAT.. UNDERSTOOD?”
She was too busy yelling and moaning to answer. “Gray, stop!” she begged, as he continued the rain of spanks on her bottom even after he finished his words. “It hurts! God, it hurts! Stop it! Please!” The pink flush deepened to rose then onto a blazing crimson. Graham stopped for a minute to run a hand over the suffering flesh. It felt hot and rough to his touch. Laurie stopped yelling but sobbed once or twice and gasped as his fingers explored.
She howled when he drew back and slapped down again on the hot, red surface. “Gray, please, no more! I can’t stand it! Please, stop! Please!”
“FURTHERMORE,” he continued, smacking her bottom on each word again. “THERE.. WILL.. BE.. NO.. MORE.. OF.. YOUR.. SEXUAL.. BLACKMAIL.”
She screamed and jerked with each slap until finally her yells broke down into noisy, choking sobs. She didn’t try to fight him anymore. Her bottom glowed fiery red and she moaned loudly when he ran a gentle hand over the grated surface. “Please, Gray, no more.” It was pure plea, with no trace of the arrogance of earlier. “I was wrong not to tell you about it. I admit it.”
“You shouldn’t have done it at all. I told you it was a bad idea.”
She nodded and sobbed again. “I’m sorry.”
Graham let out a sigh of relief. “Glad to hear it.”
Because he’d kept himself in shape with regular workouts, he had no trouble flipping her over, gathering her into his arms, and carrying her into the bedroom. He placed her carefully on the bed and kissed her tear-streaked cheeks and eyes, moving gradually to her mouth. Her lips parted under his, welcoming him. She made no protest when he unbuttoned her blouse and tossed it aside and made even shorter work of her bra. She sucked in a gasping breath when his mouth worked over her breasts, tongue swiping at the nipples until she was squirming and panting.
When he started to unbutton his shirt, she assisted by working down the zipper on his pants. She was hot and ready for him when he pushed into her. It felt incredibly good to have her joining with him heart and soul as well as body. But, oh, the body! It was a ride like none he’d ever had before. She gasped when he reached around to mold her hot, sore buttocks, pulling her hips tighter against him, but the roused pain seemed to make her tighter and tenser. They rocked and banged against each other. She screamed as she went over the edge and he followed with a long, satisfied moan.
He’d won the first battle, but Graham didn’t believe the war was over. Not even close, he discovered. He had drowsed after their hot session, wrapped up in a tangle of limbs, face pillowed against her breast.
He roused to find her awake, watching him, and the way she moved invitingly against him set the fires flaring right up again. Seeing that, she tried her old tricks. She held him off when he went to kiss her. “I think we should talk about a compromise on the production question.”
He’d heard lines like that before. What she meant was: you get your way with me when I get what I want. He’d fallen for it before, but not again. Never again.
Graham got up and picked up his pants. He saw her frown. Her eyes widened when he pulled his leather belt out of the loops and carried it back to the bed. Before she could think to fight him, he rolled her over, dragged her to the side of the bed, and pushed her into a crouching position that tipped her bottom up at an inviting angle.
He settled the buckle and opposite end of the strap in his fist and swung the doubled-up length of leather at her still rose-tinted bottom. She jumped and screamed as the belt kissed her skin with a loud crack. When she tried to scramble across the bed, he caught her with his left arm and held her in place. Once again he let the crack of the belt on her bottom emphasize the point of each word he spoke:
“I.. SAID.. BEFORE.. I.. WOULDN’T.. PUT.. UP.. WITH.. ANY.. MORE.. SEXUAL.. BLACKMAIL!”
“Oh, lord, Gray, it hurts!” She shrieked with each whack of the strap on her body. Swelling crimson banners spanned her glowing bottom cheeks. When he attacked the backs of her thighs, she went into a screaming, wriggling frenzy, so that it took every bit of his strength to hold her in place while he swung the belt.
“Stop, please! Please! I can’t stand it!” She begged continuously, her voice cracking on noisy sobs and groans each time a lash branded itself across her tender skin. “Plea……se,” she moaned. “I won’t do it again. I promise.”
“Can I trust your promise?” He whipped a hard smack right across the crests of both mounds, where the soreness was already sharpest.
She screamed, a long, shrill howl that grated his ears and broke down in convulsing sobs. “Yes. Yes, yes, yes, I mean it, Graham.”
He set the belt down on the bed. “You mean it right now,” he said. “I wonder how you’ll feel later when the strap’s not flaying you.”
Her crying groans, muffled when she buried her face in the bedcover, provided the only answer. Graham shrugged and moved up behind her, pressing his swollen member against the crack between the hot red cheeks. She shuddered but wiggled against him provocatively. He reached around her sides and found the mounds of her breasts.
While he blew on the back of her neck to tickle the skin there, his fingers played with the sensitive peaks of her breasts, rolling, squeezing, and stroking until she was panting and gasping, building to a huge orgasm. He let his lips wander over her ears while one hand left her breast to travel down her belly. It found and began to explore the hot button in the crevice between her legs. She got so tense it felt like she’d explode.
She begged him to put it in, rocking herself against him and squeezing tight. He found the entrance and slowly pushed his way up and into her, taking it slowly, so that she was frantic with tension by the time he jammed it as hard as he could. His fingers working her breast and slit brought her to a shrieking, shuddering climax, that went on and on.
She was still convulsing when he finally shot his load into her. Sated and spent, they collapsed together on the bed and slept for some time. It was well past their normal dinner time when they woke. For a few minutes he just lay there, watching Laurie. She opened her eyes. Her expression was calm, but questioning and apprehensive.
He kissed her tenderly on the lips. Her response was willing but tentative. When she parted her lips for more, he drew back. “Not now. I’m hungry. For food, I mean; it’s way past dinnertime.” He watched her wince as she started to roll toward her side of the bed. “How are you feeling?”
“Sore. Stiff. Scared.”
“Scared? Of me?” He reached for her and pulled her back to his side. “I’m not going to turn into a wife-beating monster.”
She shook her head. “Not that. Not that I like it, or want you to make it a habit, or anything, but I know I asked for it this time.”
She gave him a pleading look. “You. And the way I feel about you. I’ve been fighting it for so long. I don’t want to give in now, when I know we’ve only got a year together. Less.”
“Who said we’ve only got a year?”
“My father’s will. You have to stay married to me for a year to get your share of the company.”
“At least a year. I don’t recall there being anything saying we couldn’t stay together longer. In fact, your father’s letter to me made it clear he hoped we’d make it permanent and provide him with a number of grandchildren to inherit his company.”
“But you… You don’t even like me. You can’t possibly want to stay married to me after the year’s up?”
“And what, my lovely genius, led you to that conclusion?”
“I… I just assumed… I mean, you’re a handsome, sophisticated man. The kind all the women like and want. You get along with everyone. I’m an obnoxious bitch who turns off every man that comes within fifteen feet.”
“A very pretty, obnoxious bitch. One who argues with me and makes me think, and turns me on like no other woman I’ve ever met.”
“You mean it? You want to..”
“Stay married to you? Yup. Love you until we’re both too exhausted to move? Yup. Share responsibility for keeping Farmer Enterprises going and growing? Yup. Plant my seed in you and watch it grow into a child? Yup, yup, and double-yup.”
“I won’t change overnight,” she warned.
“I hope not. The battle is half the fun. Laurie, I’ll try to be fair and understanding, but I will punish you when you get out of line. We won’t go back to the way things were yesterday. Can you live with that?”
“Live with it? I think I’ve been searching for it. Yesterday, I didn’t know that, of course, but now I do. I fell in love with you years ago, Gray, but I never imagined there was any possibility you could want me, so I pushed you away instead. I wonder if I didn’t pick you out because I sensed this could happen.”
“I don’t know how you could’ve. Until yesterday, I didn’t know myself.”
“Until I pushed you into it. Gray, I still can’t believe it.” He proceeded to convince her, quite thoroughly. Several more hours passed before they finally got to a very late dinner.
Copyright 1995 by Katherine Kingston