Madame x, p.1
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       Madame X, p.1

         Part #1 of Madame X series by Jasinda Wilder
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Madame X


  I am not for you.

  I belong to one man and one man alone, and he does not share. Not like you desire me, at least.

  And you--you are not worthy to even think his name. You could not even begin to fathom the sophistication and the polish and the culture and the charm and the elegance and the easy power and the natural domination that man possesses. You just cannot.

  I do not think his name. I do not speak his name. Not when I am alone, and not when he deigns to visit me, his chattel. And I certainly do not ever, ever mention him to you, any of you. He is the sun arcing across the horizon, and you are fireflies flitting to and fro in the night, each of you thinking your little light shines the brightest, never realizing how small and insignificant you truly are.

  An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

  MADAME X

  This book is an original publication of the Berkley Publishing Group.

  Copyright (c) 2015 by Jasinda Wilder.

  Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

  BERKLEY(r) and the "B" design are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.

  For more information, visit penguin.com.

  eBook ISBN: 978-1-10198687-5

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Wilder, Jasinda.

  Madame X / Jasinda Wilder. -- Berkley trade paperback edition.

  pages ; cm

  ISBN 978-1-101-98688-2 (softcover) 1. Man-woman relationships--Fiction. 2. Sexual dominance and submission--Fiction. I. Title.

  PS3623.I5386M33 2015

  813'.6--dc23

  2015021646

  PUBLISHING HISTORY

  Berkley trade paperback edition / October 2015

  Cover photographs: Woman (c) Mayer George / Shutterstock; New York City Skyline (c) Ultima Gaina / Thinkstock.

  Cover design by Sarah Hansen.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Version_1

  CONTENTS

  Title Page

  Copyright

  CHAPTER ONE

  CHAPTER TWO

  CHAPTER THREE

  CHAPTER FOUR

  CHAPTER FIVE

  CHAPTER SIX

  CHAPTER SEVEN

  CHAPTER EIGHT

  CHAPTER NINE

  CHAPTER TEN

  CHAPTER ELEVEN

  CHAPTER TWELVE

  CHAPTER THIRTEEN

  CHAPTER FOURTEEN

  CHAPTER FIFTEEN

  CHAPTER SIXTEEN

  CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

  CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

  Special Excerpt from Exposed

  ONE

  You are beautiful, today. Your eyes are deep-set and dark brown, with a patina of warmth that I am discovering hides a turbulent ocean of intelligence and cunning and cruelty. You are young, today. Not even twenty-five, I believe. Your youth shows in your inability to sit still on my pristine white leather couch, the way you cross your long, lean, slate-gray Armani-sheathed legs ankle-on-knee, and then stretch them out ankle-on-ankle in front of you, and the way you reach with a Rolex-braceleted wrist and delicately pick at an invisible loose thread on your black V-neck T-shirt, the way you brush at your knee with strong but fragile-seeming fingers, and then touch your jaw and then dig in your hip pocket for your sleek smartphone--which isn't there, because unshackling you from that device is an integral part of the training program. And you definitely need training.

  Your name is Jonathan, today. Not Jon, or John, or Johnny, but Jonathan. You very subtly accentuate the first syllable, Jonathan. It is cute, that little accent on the first syllable of your oh-so-generic name. Jonathan. As if to make sure I am listening before you say the rest, as if to say "pay attention to who I am." You are so young, Jonathan. You are only a few years younger than I am, but age is so much more than how many times one has spun around the sun. Your age shows through in more than your incapacity for stillness; it is in your eyes, those layered brown eyes, how you look at me with lust and calculation and wonder and not a little fear.

  You are like all the rest of you--oh, how I hate the lack of a you-plural conjugation in the English language; other languages are so much more precise and effective and elegant. Let me try this again: You (singular, Jonathan) are very much like all the rest of you (plural, the multitude of men-boys that have come and gone before you-singular, Jonathan).

  You, Jonathan, look at me with that needy greedy hungry lusty fear, wondering how you can possess me, how you can circumnavigate the rules binding us to this contract, how you can get me to leave with you and be yours and how you can get me to loosen my top or bend over for you a little so you can catch a better glimpse down my blouse, how you can have me in any way at all. But like all the others, you cannot. Not any of that.

  I am not for you.

  I belong to one man and one man alone, and he does not share. Not what you desire of me, at least.

  And you--you, Jonathan, and you-plural--you are not worthy to even think his name. You could not even begin to fathom the sophistication and the polish and the culture and the charm and the elegance and the easy power and the natural domination that man possesses. You just cannot.

  He is the sun arcing across the horizon, and you are fireflies flitting to and fro in the night, each of you thinking your little light shines the brightest, never realizing how small and insignificant you truly are.

  We are sitting on my couch right now, sipping at Harney & Sons Earl Grey tea, and I am noting your posture and the drape of your arm as you lounge, and the angle of your wrist as you sip, and the sweep of your neck and the shift of your eyes. I see all of this, I note each detail, and I adjudicate it all, make mental tallies and prepare my lesson. For now, though, I sip, and try to let you guide our conversation.

  You are an abysmal conversationalist, Jonathan. You speak of sports, like a common boy squatting on a bar stool swilling beer. As if I could ever possibly spare a single moment of thought for such tripe. But I let you natter on about some player, and I nod and ummmm-hmmm at all the right pauses, and let my eyes shine as if I give one single shit. Because you need this lesson, Jonathan. I am going to let you ramble about this football of yours and pretend to care and will let you go on and on and waste my time and yours, and when you run out of words, or maybe even finally realize I am merely humoring you, I am going to gut you like a fish.

  You bore me, so I will not be gentle about it, Jonathan.

  ". . . And he's putting up numbers like nobody's business, you know? Like, he's just a fucking beast on the field, no one can touch him, not once he's got the ball. Every game I'm like, I'm like give him the fucking ball you goddamned idiot, just feed him the ball, it's all you have to do. Obviously I picked him for my fantasy football league, and he's gonna make me a shitload of money . . ." You gesticulate with your hands, roll them in circles, and you go on and on and on, until I'm having to force myself to hear each individual word as if they're nuggets of sound without substance.

  I finish my tea.

  I pour another cup, and drink half of that, and you have not finished your first because you're still talking, and it is just interminable.

  Finally, I cannot endure it any longer.

&nb
sp; I set my teacup down on the saucer with a loud, intentional clatter, and you're startled into silence. I let the absence of noise flow through me for a moment, bathe in the silence and let my thoughts collect, and let you see my displeasure. You sweat, you shift uncomfortably on the leather, and you do not quite meet my gaze. You know you have erred.

  "Madame X, I'm sorry, I--"

  "That is quite enough, Jonathan." I say it the way you do, accentuating that first syllable, to show you how silly it sounds. "You have wasted nearly thirty minutes of my time. Remind me, Jonathan, how much per hour do our sessions cost your father?"

  "I, um . . ."

  I eye you with razors in my gaze. "Yes? Speak up, speak clearly, and do attempt to eradicate the noisome filler words."

  "A thousand dollars an hour, Madame X."

  "Correct. One thousand U.S. dollars per hour. And having just wasted thirty minutes babbling about football, how much have you wasted?"

  "Five hundred dollars."

  "Correct. At least you can manage simple mathematics." I sip at my tea, gathering my ire into a concentrated ball at my core. "Enlighten me, Jonathan, as to why you thought such ridiculous trash would be worth my time."

  "I, um--"

  I set my cup down with a clatter yet again, and you flinch. I stand up, smooth my dress over my hips--and I do not miss the rake of your eyes over me as I do so--and I move to the doorway. "We are done here, Mr. Cartwright."

  "No, Madame X, I'm sorry, I'll do better, I promise--"

  "I don't think you will, because I don't believe you are capable of better, Mr. Cartwright. You can't even stop saying 'um' and 'like' and using vulgarity. Not to mention wasting our time together to talk about football."

  "I was making conversation, Madame X."

  "No, Jonathan, you were not. You were not talking to me, you were talking at me. You were spewing excrement from your mouth, simply for the sake of hearing yourself speak. Perhaps among your . . . friends . . . such trash could be considered conversation. I am a lady. I am not your friend. I am not some empty-headed bar slut that can be dazzled by your white teeth and coiffured hair and expensive slacks. I don't care how much your father is worth, Mr. Cartwright. Not even remotely. So if you wish to continue these sessions, you're going to have to improve, and rather swiftly. I do not have time to waste, nor the patience to deal with nonsense."

  "I'm sorry, Madame X."

  I glare at you. "You're sniveling, and groveling. You act like a child. When you speak you fill your sentences with profanity and yet say nothing of value. And when I call you out on your failings, you apologize like a boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar."

  You just stare at me, sitting forward with your wrists on your knees, fingers twitching and scratching and plucking restlessly. You have no dignity, no posture, no elegance. You have all the charm of a tree stump.

  My work with you will be a true test of my skills. I find myself angry as I lecture you. Angry at you, for being an apish dolt. Angry at . . . him . . . for making me waste my time on a fumbling, stuttering, cursing man-child like you, because you, Jonathan, are all that represents the worst of my clientele. I am bored with you, and I am angry, simmering with barely veiled contempt; and Jonathan? That does not bode well for you.

  "Sit up straight. Keep your hands still. Lean back on the couch and relax. Your body language must exude confidence and control, Mr. Cartwright. You must appear at ease at all times."

  "I am at ease," you argue.

  I do not bother responding, I just pace across the room toward you and stop so I am standing almost between your knees. I keep my eyes on yours, let all the weight of my bearing and training bear down on you, let my total and complete disregard for you show. You are no one. You are nothing. You are a child. A beautiful, spoiled child. And I let all this show in my gaze as I stare down at you.

  You shift uncomfortably yet again, transferring your weight from one buttock to the other. You look away first, and you trace the crease of your slacks with a finger.

  And I merely stand in front of you, staring you down in silence.

  You crack.

  "What? What do you want, Madame X?"

  "And that is why you're here. You shouldn't have to ask that. You should know. Better yet, you should tell me what I want. That would be a start."

  "What would it take for you to be interested in me?" You ask this in a simpering tone, even though I can tell you meant it to sound seductive. Or something.

  I laugh and turn away. "Oh, Jonathan. I could never be. You couldn't possibly interest me. Not in the slightest. You lack . . . well, there is simply too much to enumerate. Which is why you're here."

  I hear you stand up, and I wait for you to make your move. You sidle up behind me, and yes, you are tall, and yes, you have spent enough time in the gym to have a well-sculpted physique. Without dominance and bearing, however . . . it is nothing. You put your hands on my waist, turn me in place, and I let you.

  "Why am I here, Madame X?"

  "You shouldn't have to ask that, Jonathan."

  "Why do you keep saying my name that way?"

  "It's how you say it."

  "It sounds ridiculous."

  "And so do you."

  You lower your brows and the scrim of warmth I once saw is being skimmed away. Good. I want to pare the facade away; I want to get to your true nature.

  "I do not," you insist.

  I smile, and it is an amused, cruel smile. "If you want to argue, seek out your sister. Or join a high school debate team. Arguing should be beneath you."

  "Why am I here, Madame X?" You ask it again, and still your hands are on my waist, but you do nothing with that.

  My allowing you to touch me is currency, and yet you fail to spend it.

  "You really don't know?"

  You shrug. "Not really."

  "Who am I?"

  "You're Madame X."

  "And what does that mean, do you think?"

  You blink, and glance up to the right. "You're . . . you provide a service." I merely stare at you with a raised eyebrow. You clear your throat and stammer. "Well, I--um."

  "If you say 'um' one more time, I shall be displeased." My voice is cold, but I let you continue to touch me, just to see what you will do.

  "I don't want to say it."

  "Coward." I let the word drop from my lips like a stone.

  You let go, pace a few steps away, flushing, and turn back. "You're like a . . . a prostitute. Or an escort. But . . . not."

  I let the razors come out of my gaze as you turn to watch my reaction. I stalk toward you, hips swaying with extra seduction, lip curled in scorn. "Oh really? You think so?"

  "Well, not exactly, but . . ."

  "You think this is about sex?" I stop a hairbreadth away from you. The tips of my breasts almost touch your T-shirt, but do not. "What gave you that impression, Mr. Cartwright?"

  You blush, and then pale. "Well, I mean, your name is Madame X. Like a . . . a madam. And a thousand dollars an hour? I mean, come on."

  "What about me says prostitute, Mr. Cartwright?" I lift my chin and keep my gaze unblinking on yours.

  "Nothing . . . I mean . . ." You pause and I let the silence hang, let you hang yourself on your silence.

  A minute of silence is excruciating under most circumstances; for you, this is pure torture.

  "Did you read the contract, Mr. Cartwright?" I arch an eyebrow.

  You shrug with insouciance. "Not really."

  "And yet you hope to inherit your father's company?" I shake my head. "Pathetic."

  You are getting incensed. Your tells are like telegraphs: flaring nostrils, narrowed eyes, fingers flexing into fists. "I'm getting tired of this. I'm not paying a thousand dollars an hour to be insulted."

  "You aren't paying me anything, your father is. And I hope you do get tired of it. Maybe you will find the internal fortitude to stop earning my insults."

  I turn away from you and retrieve our contract. It is short and simply
worded, but iron-clad. You signed it, and so did I, and so did your father. I know the wording by heart, and I know your father read it, but you are simply too lazy and too entitled to be bothered.

  With the contract in one hand, I use my other to shove you. The flat of my palm strikes you center-chest, and you're so surprised you fall backward and sit down hard on the couch. You are shocked into stillness. I put one foot on the gleaming dark African teak hardwood between your feet, place the stiletto of my black Louboutin on your chest, press just hard enough to cause discomfort.

  "Pay attention, Jonathan. First, and most important, never ever sign anything without reading it all, every paragraph and subheading, every line of fine print. You'd think your father would have taught you this by now." You open your mouth to protest, but I grind my heel into your chest and you snap your teeth closed. "I'm going to read this to you, Jonathan, and you're going to listen. It's very simple, really."

  I lean forward, and your eyes widen as I intensify the pain. And still, your eyes flit to the curve of my calf where the deep jade of the Valentino dress has pulled up to just beneath my knee.

  "Pay attention, you twit. Keep your eyes on mine, not on my legs." I ease off so you can listen. "'By signing this document, the signees agree to the following stipulations as they pertain to both the contractor, hereafter referred to as Madame X, and the client, Jonathan Edward Cartwright III. Item number one: Neither Madame X nor the client shall in any way refer to or discuss with anyone this contract or the services provided, nor the stipulations or conditions contained herein. Item number two: Remuneration to Madame X shall be carried out via electronic bank transfer from the accounts of Jonathan Edward Cartwright II to the accounts of Indigo Services, LLC, the terms of which shall not be added to, enhanced, changed, or in any way amended by either Madame X or the client. Item number three: The services provided by Madame X, acting as a subcontracting agent for Indigo Services, shall not include sex acts of any kind, whether oral, manual, or penetrative, and such acts shall not be inferred, requested, or demanded by either Madame X on behalf of Indigo Services or by Jonathan Edward Cartwright III nor any representatives of the client. Item number four: The particulars of this contract as pertain to the educational services provided shall remain under the authority of Madame X alone, and may not be challenged, defied, or protested by the client or his representatives, and to in any way seek to alter or challenge the educational program and any methods used shall result in the termination of the contract, which shall result in a termination fee equal to the total estimated billable program hours provided at inquiry, plus a grievance fee of thirty-five percent of the total. Item number five: The educational program pamphlet provided at inquiry is a licensed, copyrighted, and legally protected proprietary document. The pamphlet and its contents shall not be copied, distributed, or in any way communicated to anyone not named in this contract. Breach of this item shall result in immediate termination of the contract, resulting in all of the attendant termination fees, as well as any and all actions necessary to punish copyright infringement.'" I pause and glance at you, and see that you have indeed been listening, and that you also wish you'd read the contract, and, probably, the pamphlet. "Well, Jonathan? Any questions?"

 
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