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Free Spirit - Chapter 1

Chapter One




Priory McAllister stood on the sidewalk looking at her new home. This particular piece of real estate she had claimed as her very own was a century-old two-story house. It stood there at odds with the rest of the neighborhood, easily residing in its own little bubble of time. She really didn’t know why she’d bought the property, because it was out in suburbia and meant an hour and a half travel to and from work each day, but as she gazed lovingly over the outside of the building, she figured it was worth it.


Priory glanced to her left and saw her personal assistant staring up at the building. She was petite and looked cute as a button. Her dark blond hair lay in disarray, partially covering her slate-blue eyes. Jacey Ryder had been with her for three years which, in itself, was some sort of record because all her previous assistants lasted only a few months before moving on. She didn’t have to ask why. She knew. She’d heard the water-cooler gossip. “Turkey buzzard.” That’s what they called her behind her back. She prayed that the name referred to her talent as a skilled negotiator and not her looks. Now that would be depressing.


Neighbors emerged from nearby houses to view the new tenant, and once Priory made eye contact with them, they quickly disappeared. One old lady made the sign of the cross. It was not an auspicious beginning.


“Come on, no more lollygagging. There’s work to be done.” Priory walked to the front door and slid the key into the lock with a tingle of excitement. Her very own home.


A sudden chill welcomed her, followed by a slight musty odor. “I need to have a word with the cleaners,” she muttered.



Jacey wondered why on earth she’d agreed to help with the move. Even her astronomical salary couldn’t cushion the few days of hell awaiting her. She eyed her boss standing in the foyer, hands on hips, acting like some all-conquering hero. It made her wonder how much work the woman would actually do. No, she knew she would be the pack animal for this heifer.


Her mental pro-and-con list appeared in her head. For the last year she had compiled this list of why she should or shouldn’t quit her job. As she expected, it was heavily loaded with cons. She had used every synonym of bitch she could find, and then some. On the ‘pro’ side was, of course, her salary.


Just a couple more years, she thought, then I can take a year off to travel. Stay calm.


She had one more item on her “pro” list that she couldn’t ignore. Priory’s ass. There were big red stars around this item. She had been secretly lusting after that ass, although she had resigned herself to the fact that she’d never see it “in the flesh”, so to speak. In fact, she had yet to see that ass in anything but a tailored suit, but she just couldn’t let the hope die.


“Get a move on. We don’t have all day!” The bark made her jump. Priory’s face wore its ever-present scowl, and it was aimed at her. Damn the woman’s ass!


Jacey turned and walked out to the SUV, and was sure it would be one of many trips in and out of the house. She glanced around the neighborhood and saw the looks of surprise and shock. One neighbor shook her head as she opened her letterbox and removed the junk mail. What did that mean?


Everyone at work wanted to know about the boss’s new home. Jacey knew she’d be grilled about the place on Monday, so she took out her mental notepad and began to make notes.


Hostile neighbors? They hadn’t even met Priory, so maybe that one was more about the house. Jacey did remember the buzzard saying something about getting the place for a song. She glanced up at the building in question. It didn’t seem like it was falling down, so Jacey left the question mark in place.


She opened the back of the SUV and took out the first box. It was big, full, and heavy, but at least it didn’t rattle, so her first trip wasn’t juggling crockery. With her vision blocked she struggled up the pathway and nearly tripped over the porch step.


“Watch it, will ya!” Jacey noted that Priory didn’t move an inch to help, and she was tempted to drop the box anyway. She entered the house and lowered the box as best she could to the floor, unable to stop it falling the last few inches. “You’re lucky nothing broke.”


Jacey stood there for a moment deciding whether it was worth it or not. Three long years she had been working for this … this … she tried to think of a word other than bitch that didn’t have pornographic connotations. Where was her dictionary when she needed one? At that precise moment, Priory turned and flashed her ass, causing Jacey to turn into a lustful, gooey lump of hormonal envy.


Her first view of the interior was from the foyer. It seemed … nice. No obvious signs of wear or breakage, so that question mark over the neighbors’ reaction was going to annoy her, she just knew it. To the left was a room. A quick check revealed it to be a standard room, one that may have been a bedroom. The boss did say it had four bedrooms. She stepped back to the front door and studied the other avenues off the entrance and into the bowels of the house. A hallway started against the wall of the foyer under the stairs and ran toward the back of the house, while to the right an arched doorway led to substantial open living area, with a large fireplace set in the far wall. All in all, it looked like a nice, cozy home.


A staircase stood right in front of her, set against the left wall, then turning right to follow the back wall of the foyer up to the first floor. Stairs. Of course there were stairs, and she knew who would be hauling all those damned boxes to the top.


She sighed and walked out of the house to get another box. Was her job worth all of this? She mentally gave in. Yeah, it was worth it. The next box sounded more breakable, with tinkling noises coming from inside. She was mindful of the step and managed to get it to the floor without the box making any significant breaking sounds.


As she stood, her vision was filled with the image of Priory leaning over the first box Jacey had brought in. Holy mother of God! Her hand rose to her mouth and swiped across it in case she was drooling. God had been in spectacular form when she made Priory. It was a shame she hadn’t wiped out the harpy gene from her personality.


“Ah….” Jacey cleared her throat and began again. “Are you looking for something?”


A muffled voice came from within the box. “I’m looking for…” Priory grunted. “Here it is.”



Priory watched as Jacey walked out the door with a disgruntled expression on her face. “Now, what did I do?”


Where to start? It was obviously going to be a long day. She looked down at her outfit. What had possessed her to dress in her power suit, let alone high heels? This was ridiculous. She was an idiot to dress this way in the first place, but what would Jacey think if she hadn’t? Her assistant had never seen Priory in anything but a skirt and jacket, so why did Priory care about her opinion? Jacey was here to help with the move, not give fashion tips.


A pair of jeans seemed more appropriate, so she rummaged through the box Jacey had brought in. With some luck, they would be in this first box and she wouldn’t have to wait for the U-Haul to be unpacked to change. The top half of her body was buried in the box when she heard Jacey walk in.


“Are you looking for something?”


“I’m looking for…” Her hands finally touched what she was looking for and she yanked hard. “Here it is.” She straightened and turned to face Jacey. “I thought….” The stricken look on Jacey’s face made her stop. “Are you all right?”


“I … err … yeah. I … think I pulled something.” But the look on Jacey’s face didn’t look like physical pain. It was a strange expression.


Priory held up her jeans. “If you tell anyone I possess these, you’re in serious trouble!” It came out a little harsher than she had intended. “I mean it. It’ll be two weeks in the steno pool.” She added a slight smile to soften the words.


Jacey held up her right hand and crossed her chest with her left, making a silent, solemn promise.


“Good, now if I can find those tennis shoes that I don’t own….” Priory buried herself back in the box, ignoring Jacey’s stare. She heard Jacey leave and stopped what she was doing. “What was that all about?” She shrugged with difficulty, then continued her search for the tennis shoes. As she expected, they were even farther down than the jeans, and she had to stretch to reach them.


Something touched her ass and she fell into the box, her face buried in her underwear. Her legs finally lost their footing and flailed in the air. “Jacey!” she yelled.



Jacey carried in another box and nearly dropped it. Priory appeared to have fallen in among the clothes, and her legs were stuck up in the air, her skirt slowly sliding down. Jacey was mesmerized. Maybe her dream would come true after all. The legs started to kick and the skirt’s downward passage quickened.


How on earth did Priory manage to fall into a box that, in reality, only came to midthigh? Was it all a trap or was the woman that clumsy? Jacey didn’t really care. She was observing a scene that was worth its weight in gold.


Oh yeah! Come on, baby. Come on, she silently cheered on the skirt. Just a little more and I can die a happy woman….




The muffled yell snapped her out of her wishful thinking. She put down the box and approached the squirming body.  “Errr….” She studied the problem for a moment and wondered what she could get away with to get Priory out of her dilemma. Suddenly the box began to tilt and Jacey made a grab for it.


It was a hopeless exercise, really. She had no hope of stopping the avalanche of clothes and underwear cascading over her, nor Priory landing on top of her. Jacey just lay there, absorbing the sight in front of her. It wasn’t so much that their bodies were touching, but it was the fact that she was now in a prime position to look up Priory’s skirt. Dumbfounded didn’t even begin to cover what she was thinking at that precise moment, especially knowing that Priory’s nose was buried in her crotch.


Her fingers itched to touch what was laid out in front of her, and she fought hard not to act on her impulse. Her private cheering squad echoed in her brain. Do it! Do it! Do it! She had a soft spot for her girls even if they were encouraging her to fondle her boss’s ass. When she moved her hands away from the temptation, she heard a disappointed “awww” in the background. She’d have to have a word with them later to tone down the sound, otherwise she’d go deaf.


Jacey grabbed Priory around the waist, moving her to one side.


“You did that on purpose!” Priory growled.


“I saved your ass!” Jacey shot back.


“You pushed me in!”


“I did not!”


“Did too!”


“Did not! I was outside getting another one of your lousy boxes.” Jacey bit her tongue, but it was too late.


“Well, something tipped me in there, and as there isn’t anyone else around, it must have been you,” Priory muttered.


“I’m telling you I didn’t do it. I came in with another box and found your ass up in the air.” Jacey was on a roll and she didn’t care if the wrath of God landed on her. “Do you think I’d do something that stupid knowing I’d get fired?”


Jacey stood and paced a little to allow her emotions to calm down. Priory lay on floor, her crisp suit now disheveled, and wisps of hair sticking out from her otherwise perfect bun.


The endearing picture of a less-than-perfect Priory on the floor eased her anger. Jacey took a deep breath and offered her a hand to get up. It seemed a truce had been called. “When do you have to return the U-Haul?”


“I’ve got it until Monday.” Priory glanced at the scattered clothes and picked up a shirt. “I’m going to get changed. See if you can rustle up some coffee.”


Jacey watched her climb the stairs and, with one last longing glance at the ass in question, she wandered into the kitchen. The refrigerator hummed away, so at least there was a chance of some milk.


Jacey discovered the coffee maker and two mugs, but no sugar. She opened the fridge and found an open container of milk. Curiously she smelled it. Not convinced that she wouldn’t get sick, she poured a small portion into a mug and tasted it. She checked the date on the side and finally had to admit that the milk appeared to be drinkable. Priory had been here recently to let the movers in with the heavy items, so Jacey assumed the milk was purchased then.


A devilish grin crossed her lips. If only the milk was off. Maybe she could get a couple of days free from the delusional fishbowl guppy she worked for, because it was only a matter of time before Priory would be gobbled up by the white sharks circling her in the boardroom. No, she didn’t hate the woman enough to want her seriously ill, but there was a possibility that could change over the next few days.


She reached for the pot and filled it with water, emptied it into the coffee maker, and turned it on. As much as she detested doing so, Jacey walked through the house and out the front door to fetch the next box from the car. The U-Haul sat there taunting her, and she knew that sooner or later she’d have to delve into the back of that thing. She worried if she would survive it.


Numbly, she grabbed another box and as she trudged back inside an unearthly howl filled the house.


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