The first thing Kari Castle was going to do when she grew a real set of balls was shave her head. Not completely, just short enough to style between her fingers without effort. Something that would obey her will with a single scrape of the brush.
Something infomercial worthy. Wet it, set it and forget it, baby.
Until then she'd have to deal with the mop she currently owned. She yanked a comb through some early morning snarls then shoved the rest between the claws of a plastic hair clip. It was Friday and white trash styling tools were fine if the only things seeing you are your cat and your coffee pot.
Someone once told her managing editors didn't take Fridays off. She told them to get the hell out of her face and had Carl, the Journal's computer geek, hook up the network in her apartment. It was slower than the T3 line she enjoyed in her corner office, but she could still talk and work and let her hair stay greasy until noon. It was worth it for one day a week.
Things were normalizing in recent days. Normal for the insane world of Metropolis' last broadsheet, The Journal.
The managing editor's job was tailor-made for a diplomat; she wasn't even close. Friction had come from everywhere at first -- the writers, the photogs, the section editors, even the stringers were giving her a hard time.
The brass, not surprisingly, had stayed silent, but that was the part Luthor had taken care of when handing her the job of a lifetime. He hadn't mentioned that all waves came from below when a storm hit.
And what a storm it had been. She'd gone from City Room to corner office in no time flat and the jealousy took on a life of its own. But she couldn't be upset about it, not now. She was just worried she might have settled for something less than she should have angled for in the first place, especially after cornering Lex Luthor so carefully, giving him no room whatsoever to maneuver.
No room to maneuver intellectually, that is.
The blowjob she'd given him on his massage table was nothing more than a courtesy. Sort of a secret handshake shared by people with common goals. Little more than business and she didn't think it was too crass to admit it had been enjoyable. Very enjoyable.
Lex Luthor had a fine body: smooth and slim with hard, fine muscles. Being naked held no embarrassment for him. He merely turned over and accepted her ministrations with a grace she found ... unique. Enticing. Hot. Unsettling.
There was no head-yanking or foul words. He thrust into her throat with an aristocratic ease while slowly winding a thin lock of her hair around his index finger, smoothing it with his thumb. His touch was light, soothing and sexier than she'd ever dreamed.
He turned over lazily after she'd finished, lifting an eyebrow when she hesitated in continuing the massage. "You still owe me twenty more minutes," he said, settling back into the padding. "I have a knot in my right shoulder. Could you try and work it out?"
Oh, he had balls. There was no question about that. Literally and figuratively.
"Sure," she'd replied gamely. What the hell. She was going to take him to the cleaners anyway -- might as well be a good sport about it. "Tell me if I hit the spot."
He chuckled against the vinyl. "Trust me. You'll know."
She cursed him silently for next one thousand seconds. Felt a vindictive thrill after her headline hit the stands twenty-four hours later proclaiming him a paper tiger, not worthy of the Luthor legend.
He hadn't taken it well. Lionel Luthor loved it and made her tall promises, one after the other. But they didn't hold the same charm as that blowjob. The velvety steel sliding against her tongue, making her hot in ways she didn't care to examine.
It was too good to ignore.
So she took Lex's side. And became Managing Editor of The Journal in the process.
Not bad work if you can get it.
Her cell phone rang, pulling her into the present. "Castle," she said, balancing her keyboard, the phone and a mug of coffee with two hands.
"Aren't we the busy beaver?"
It was Daisy, her top stringer. The only person she'd trust as far as she could throw her. Luckily, Daisy had eating issues and weighed no more than ninety pounds soaking wet. "What's up, sweetie?"
"Let me put it in riddle form. What's bald, sexy and currently the former manager of a shit factory in Cornville?"
The mug came dangerously close to slipping from Castle's grasp. "What are you talking about? Did he quit the plant?"
"More like the plant quit him. Lionel closed it this morning. Gave everyone a nice little speech about captains and ships and sinking from what I've heard." Daisy sounded obscenely excited. "Should I head down there?"
Castle couldn't believe it. "Are you sure it was closed down?"
"I have an angry old man's pink slip to prove it."
"Damn," Castle breathed. This was something too good to pass up. Too good to be stuck as a managing editor for. She took a deep breath and softened her voice as sweetly as she could. "Daisy, honey? Would you mind if I took this one myself? Just this one and I promise ..."
There was an angry exhale on the other end. "Sure. I live to serve, you know."
"I promise, Daiz. The next big one is all yours." Castle yanked the claw from her hair, her mind already halfway to Smallville. "This is something I have to see for myself."
"Yeah, yeah, all right. You get this one. But I'll need some send-outs. I have to eat, you know."
"You'll live like a queen, I promise." It was true. Kari Castle could make those promise now, thanks to Lex Luthor.
The man she was headed out to crucify, one more time.
"That's what they all say," Daisy scoffed. Her voice turned serious. "Be careful, Kari. They say he's dangerous when cornered."
The shower was already turned on and steaming. "So am, Daiz. So am I."
She picked a gray suit for this particular meeting. Slim lines and straightforward because she was Serious Now. The skirt fell better this time anyway, something far enough above the knee to cut the thigh problems in half.
Perfect, especially since she didn't have to lean over a car hood this time to get his attention.
Luthor noticed the change right away. "Calvin Klein? When did we get so boring?" He tossed a copy of The Inquisitor onto his desk. "Stick to Dolce Gabbana. You need the color."
That stung, just enough. "Thanks, Mr. Blackwell." She slipped out of her jacket and took a seat with as much authority as she could muster. He was good, this son of Big Daddy Luthor, making her self-conscious from the get-go. "So, about the closing of your plant ..."
He leaned back in his leather chair, so carelessly it looked as though he could tip over at any minute. But it seemed the chair knew better than to fuck with Lex Luthor.
"Miss Castle, I can't say I'm any expert on how papers are run but I've always labored under the assumption that managing editors stayed back in their offices, managing and editing. Care to enlighten me on why you're still pounding the beat after all the trouble I took to take you off of it?"
"I thought that our past dealings might give us both a unique perspective ..."
He silenced her with a sharp laugh. "Cut the shit, Castle," he said. "Just come out and say that you still can't bear to get scooped." He gave her a tight grin. "It's the age old problem, isn't it? The madam just can't forget her days in the coop, can she?"
Her teeth clicked reflexively. "Are you calling me a whore?"
Lex looked honestly taken aback. "Why no, I was just making a common analogy. I'd never insinuate such a thing." He made a solicitous hand gesture. "May I get you a drink?"
"Sure." Anger sharpened her focus considerably. "Vodka. On the rocks. Stoli if you have it."
A glass tinkled next to her ear. "I only have Krolewska. I hope that will do."
"It's fine." She took a long sip. It burned fabulously, all the way to her spine. "Why did your father close the plant? I've been following its earnings. You were actually turning a profit."
Luthor stood in front of her, turning the Scotch in his hand. Scarlet light from the ostentatious stained glass windows played through the amber, turning it a new color with every twist. "Why do you think he did it?"
"I have no idea. That's why I'm asking you."
"Of course you have an idea or you wouldn't be here. There's no story without an idea." He thumbed the lip of his glass. "Unfortunately, it's the most boring story in the world. Powerful man gets old and weak, fears his much smarter, much more innovative son and starts making rash, unprofitable decisions just to prove he still can. You can print that if you like. If you dare."
"Or I can just print that you're not fit to run a two-bit crap plant in the sticks. Is there a statute of limitations on incompetence?"
His lips quirked into a smile. "Do you think I'm incompetent, Miss Castle?" It sounded like a purr. A tiger's purr.
Her mouth dried. Another chug of vodka didn't help. "I think you and your father have a seriously twisted relationship. One that's worthy of a full-length feature in the Sunday magazine."
He leaned against the glass desk, legs spread slightly and she remembered how he tasted between them: salty, sweet, hot ... good. And God, it was getting hotter in there.
"Be sure the cover shot is from my good side," he said, moving in closer, so close she could smell his cologne. Something spicy that hadn't been sweat off in a steam room, not yet. She knew he took his shower at eight, exercised at noon, expected his massage at four.
If anything, Lex Luthor stuck to schedule.
"You won't have a good side left once this comes out." She didn't mean to sound threatening, she honestly didn't. It just came out that way.
"My popularity has always been a primary concern of mine." Soft enough to blunt the sarcasm, bitter enough to make her think twice.
He reached out and wound his finger around that strand of hair. The one she kept wishing would fall out and give her a moment's peace since the last time he touched it.
"Come here," he whispered, tugging on the tight lock.
Her knuckles were turning white around the glass. "Where?" she asked. His lips were so close. She wanted to lick them both, one scar after the other.
"The only place there is," he replied, before kissing her with those silk lips, scars and all.
The vodka glass fell from her hand, landing with a sloshing thud on the carpet. She tried to stay still and kept her hands tightly wound at her sides, but Luthor didn't seem to notice.
He was playing with her hair, tonguing her mouth, tasting and taking what he wanted. Everything seemed like it fascinated him: her lips, her breasts which he cupped through her blouse, kneading them with thorough gentleness. He tried weighing them in each palm making a small sound of frustration at the feel her brassiere.
He pulled away, lips wet. "Let's trade places."
A quick turnabout and she was against the desk while he worked at her buttons. No uncouth yanking ... no, Lex Luthor had a certain respect for expensive clothing. The buttons were undone in neat succession, leaving her open and breathing hard as he examined his next hurdle.
Thank God for front-snapping bras, she thought wildly.
He seemed to appreciate it as well. "Nice," he said, pulling open the closure. She was wearing a full-support white bra, ridiculously old-fashioned with a rosebud in the middle. About as sexy as Granny's underwear, but he ran his hands over it with a refreshing fervor.
"Very nice," he murmured, mouthing her nipples as they were freed from the white cotton.
God, his mouth was good. Too good and she could get lost in the sensation of her nipples hardening, nerve endings sending fiery little messages straight to her cunt.
He caressed her breasts with enthusiasm, smiling as he went, enjoying himself. His hands wandered with slow curiosity, long fingers sliding down her abdomen to play between her skirt waist and flesh, tickling at the edges.
There was no tearing at zippers or shoving her onto her back. He worked leisurely, at his own pace and she was panting by the time he actually started hiking her skirt up toward her hips.
When he discovered she wore stockings with garters, his smile of glee was something to behold. "You reporters," he said, licking his lips. "Always going for that retro look."
When he started nibbling on the inside of her thighs, she was the one who cleared the desk and flopped onto her back, stiletto heels flung over his shoulders. Hopefully she wouldn't stab him in the spine along the way but when he finally tugged her panties off and began sucking at her clit, she didn't give a flying fuck.
Sparks and fire and holy shit, she was going to come right there as he burrowed in between her legs, making little noises of enjoyment as he went. Normally, this was the equivalent of hard time for the men she'd been with, but not Lex.
No, he acted like it was some sort of happy adventure, tonguing and sucking at her with abandon. He didn't even stop to wipe his mouth or breathe or do any of the other irritating things men did that made her want to kick them in the head while they were going down on her.
He was wonderful and Kari Castle got a sudden desire to close her thighs and lock him in there forever. But her orgasm was in control by then and it overtook her in leaps and bounds, forcing her to grind her body against his mouth, her soaked ass slapping against the slippery glass.
"Jesus Christ," she groaned, her legs shaking like rippling water.
Lex looked up at her. His mouth was moist and swollen and she groaned again when his tongue darted out to swipe his chin. "Now, may I?" His hand went to his crotch, but the zipper remained untouched.
He was either the most polite gentleman who'd ever lived or the biggest tease she'd ever met. "Yes. Yes ... now," she ground out, struggling to sit up and yank his pants down by force if necessary.
He pushed her back onto the desk. His cock was already out of his pants, red and slick at the tip. With a deft motion, he pulled out his wallet and extracted a condom, which he tossed on her stomach.
"Would you do the honors, please?" he asked, stroking himself and smiling.
Condom wrappers were the handiwork of the devil, Castle thought desperately. Her hands were sweating, a rip with the teeth was no good and thank God, she finally got the stupid thing out. Okay, think now. Right side first and she reached down to roll it onto him with two smooth strokes.
He bucked into her touch with a hiss. "Perfect. Are you still wet?" He fingered her clit before dipping inside. "Good?"
"Oh for fuck's sake ..." She reeled him in with her legs. "Hurry up."
Finally, he was inside and she met each movement on the downstroke. He was intent now, fucking her hard and no longer smiling. Just watching her face as he moved, one hard even thrust coming after the other.
There were no words, only hot breath. She was making sounds she didn't think she knew how to make, especially when he reached a hand between them and started fingering her clit with his thumb, a beautifully thoughtful move that ninety-nine percent of all men forgot.
"Come on," he gasped, finally growing short of breath. "Come on, let's see it again. You're going to come again, aren't you?"
No, she was going to scream. Then she was going to come. Wait, if he kept doing that, she was going to scream some more instead.
"Are you going to make me wait?" A thrust and another aching pinch. "Not very sporting of you, Miss Castle."
"It's Kari, you ... oh, fuck!" Somewhere in the back of her mind, she hoped the desk wouldn't break and cut her ass to ribbons. "Oh, God."
He was panting, moving erratically, close to the edge himself. "Should I give my statement to you now?"
She moaned. Thought ceased to have rational order. She was coming again, there was no way to stop, think or look. All she could do was listen.
"Here's the answer to all your questions, Kari," he gasped. His hands were on her hips, pulling her forward with brutal tugs. He stilled, his face contorting as orgasm overtook him. She heard him groan, deep in his chest before he half-collapsed atop her, sweat rolling down the sides of his face.
"For the record." He paused to catch his breath. "I have no comment."
Her mouth dropped open. She stared at him, disbelieving. He was still inside her, his cock still pulsing with tiny aftershocks.
Why the filthy, evil, lying, bastard, son of a ... "You fuck!"
He pulled out, laughing lightly, still breathless. "Oh, come on," he said, wincing as he rolled off the condom and disposed of it. He zipped up his slacks. "Grow a sense of humor, will you?"
Still groggy, she sat up. Tried to pull herself together in some sort of dignified fashion and failed.
Ever helpful, Lex refastened her bra and buttoned her blouse. He smoothed down her skirt with what she could have sworn was a wistful expression. "Now, I think we could use a little lunch, don't you?"
She nodded dumbly. Two insane orgasms in a row always made it hard to think.
"If you're up to it, we can go into the town proper. And if you're in a pie-eating mood, there's much joy to be had," he said. He kissed her with surprising courtesy. "I might even be persuaded to help you cook up a good story for all your trouble. One that's advantageous for both of us, of course."
"Yeah," she breathed. She slid from the desk with a grimace. She felt sloppy, warm and deliciously dirty. "That would make life easier, wouldn't it?"
"Not really." He pushed a damp lock hair out of her eyes. "But it would be fun."
The sky howled darkly as she drove back to Metropolis.
Hail stones, the size of peanuts, smattered against her back window. Two curses later, she was out from under the storm's edge and back into sunshine, hoping that nothing on the rental had cracked.
It wasn't every day she could get a hold of an Italian sports car on an hour's notice.
Her cell beeped. It was Daisy again, sounding like she was standing in the middle of a wind tunnel. "I'm telling you right now, this story's mine."
Castle couldn't help but laugh. Something that looked like a tumbleweed bounced off her windshield. "You got it. What's up?"
"A huge twister's hit Smallville. Practically leveled the Luthor mansion. I'm taking the story."
Her foot hit the brake. The car screeched to a stop. "What?!"
"Lionel Luthor's just been taken to the hospital. It looks bad."
She couldn't breathe. She had to breathe, but she couldn't. "Lex," she said, shaking. "What about ..."
"He's fine. He's by his father's side. I'm telling you, Kari, this shit is big. Huge. If that bastard keels over ..."
Holy Jesus. "Daiz ... listen ..."
"No way. You promised! I'm taking this. I just called to let you know. You'll have my copy in two hours." She hung up.
"Daiz!" Castle cursed and threw done her phone. Started up the engine with trembling hands. Holy, holy, holy ...
She turned the car around and drove over the median separating the roads, her tires grinding in protest. There were only two roads this far into the country -- one going to Metropolis and one that lead to Smallville.
Kari Castle knew exactly which way she was heading.
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