Cool, over-sterilized air blew on Aldric’s neck from a vent behind him. It smelled of ozone and disinfectant, but he loved that combination of odors. It reminded him of the one place in the universe he felt most comfortable: his lab. The desk in front of him was empty, but Aldric stared at its surface with all the intensity of a laser. He watched his lover flirting with one of the lab technicians, and he hated them both for it. She was his. Evan had no right to consider her anything but a colleague. Everyone knew she was his, but that man mooned over her without a second thought.
He watched Margaret leave the lab, but kept his focus on Evan, hearing everything he said. The man was ambitious and coveted all that Aldric had, but he did not have the guts to make the hard decisions and to take the risks that lead to a life of wealth and power. Aldric despised the man but kept him close because he was an outstanding scientist and because Aldric believed in keeping an eye on his opponents.
A soft chime announced the arrival of Margaret. He wiped his hand across the desk’s surface, banishing the image to the digital ether. “Doctor Vo, what a pleasure to have you stop by.”
“Doctor Vo?” Margaret asked. “Have I done something to upset you, darling?” She walked across the room and set her data slate on one of the chairs across from Aldric’s desk.
He wanted to say yes, but he was not ready to tell her he was watching her every move. He did not think he would ever tell her, but he planned on being rid of her before it became necessary. “Nothing,” he said, sounding every bit like a petulant child. “I am frustrated by the lack of progress is all. We got so far that first night, then nothing for weeks.”
Margaret walked around the desk and sat on Aldric’s desk in front of him. “We have made lots of progress, darling,” she said. “Just look at the containment and conversion progress we’ve made. Even if we’re never able to make the dimensional collapse stable enough for practical application, we have enough other improvements to the systems to make the void collapse technology hundreds of times more efficient.” She reached forward and ran her fingers through his hair. “Besides, I think Evan may be onto something. He has the technicians recalibrating the equipment to prepare for a new test in the next couple of days.”
“Tomorrow,” Aldric said. “I want the new test started tomorrow. If the technicians must work through the night, then so be it.” He smiled and put a hand on Margaret’s knee. “I was thinking you and I might have to work through the night as well.”
Her smile was as genuine as Aldric’s was false. “I would like that, but I want to spend at least some time working with the technicians,” she said.
“You mean with Evan,” Aldric sneered. The urge to evacuate the air from Evan’s lab was overwhelming, but he did not want to deal with the delays that an investigation would cause.
“He will be there, yes,” she said, “but I’m not going there because of him. I am going because of you, Aldric.” She ran her hands down his cheeks and pulled him toward her. “If I keep him working hard then he will make more progress and get this project finished.” She kissed him and smiled. “You can’t honestly think that I would be more interested in being with him than being with you.” She undid the top button of his shirt and kissed him again. “You know I’m all yours, baby.” Margaret kissed his neck and unbuttoned his shirt a little further. “Now let’s have a little fun before I have to get back to work.”
Knowing that Margaret wielded her affection as a tool to get what she wanted did not bother Aldric. If anything, it made her easier to deal with; easier to manipulate. Withholding information, time, or any number of things got him an almost immediate round of high energy sex no matter where they were. He did not need to use such tactics to get laid, by her or anyone else for that matter, but he liked the control it gave him. The fact that she was attractive and kinky as hell was a big part of why he kept her around as long as he did. She was smart, very smart, but other lab assistants were smarter or worked harder. Evan, for all of his caution, was leaps and bounds ahead of her scientifically and his work ethic was impeccable. His inability to keep his eyes off of Margaret was his one downfall.
Margaret finished unbuttoning his shirt before she stopped kissing his neck. She stood up and put his hands on her hips as she undid the buttons of her blouse with deliberate slowness. “Do you honestly think I would ever let him even get close to a look at me like this?” she asked as she pulled the blouse off and dropped it to the ground.
“He wouldn’t know what to do with a woman like you even if you did,” Aldric said as he pulled her back to him. He kissed her hard and slid her skirt down until it fell on the floor around her ankles. Yes, Aldric would keep her around for a while longer, at least until they solved the void engine issue, but after that, well after that no amount of office sex would do her any good with him.
“I’m glad you know what to do,” she whispered as she slid down to the floor to kneel between his legs.
“You’re damn right I do.” Aldric leaned back in his chair and let Margaret seduce him once again.