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Chapter One


 

Megan was on the verge of tears, and she knew that the last thing she needed was alcohol, but she found herself in the lounge of the hotel, ordering a glass of wine.  She’d just been fired, and she had no clue as to where she was going to go, or what she was going to do.  At least her room was paid for through Sunday night, but come Monday morning she had to be packed up and out of the luxurious hotel, pounding the pavement and looking for yet another job.  She simply couldn’t seem to do anything right! 

Megan absolutely could not bear the thought of calling her parents and asking if she could move home… again!  Her mother seemed to think all of her problems would be solved if she’d simply find a nice doctor or lawyer to marry and have babies to tie the man to her!  Her dad seemed to think she was a hopeless screw-up, and after getting fired from every job she’d had since her first job at McDonald’s when she was sixteen, she couldn’t defend herself!  Megan was miserable, and so lost in thought that she didn’t notice the man sitting at the bar, staring at her for a good, long while.  When she did catch sight of him, she felt herself blushing under his scrutiny.  Finally, she aimed her disappointment and upset at him.  “Who do you think you are staring at, Mister?  You should take a picture; it lasts longer!”  It wasn’t original, but it should put him in his place, or so she thought.

“Stand up and let me look at you, young lady,” the man ordered without one bit of compunction for bossing her around.

“I will do no such thing!” she replied.  “Why don’t you get lost?”

“I need you,” was his shocking reply, and Megan’s temper flared in response.

“If you think I am sitting in this bar hoping to pick up a man, then you’d just better change your mind!  I’m not for sale, Mister, not for any price!”

The bartender moved down the bar and stood beside the man, trying to decide if she needed to call for hotel security to help her with the situation.

“It’s all right, Brenda,” the man said, smiling with confidence.  “The young lady misunderstood my intentions.  I’m thinking of offering her a job,” he explained to the bartender.  “Please get her another glass of whatever she is drinking, and I’ll have another beer.  Thank you.”  He dismissed her with a wave of his hand as if it was something he was used to doing.

He got to his feet and moved over to stand beside the table where Megan was sitting.  “I should have worded things differently,” he told her with a charming smile.  “First of all, my name is Montague.  My assistant quit on me this morning after using one of those pregnancy test kits and learning that she and her husband are going to have a baby.  She left me high and dry, and rushed home to tell her husband the good news.  Well, it is good news for them,” he admitted with a rueful smile, “but I sure wasn’t very happy about it.  I need an assistant, and I need one right now.  You are simply lovely, your hair is a beautiful shade of red, and I think you would fit into Glenna’s costumes without a lot of alteration.  Stand up, please,” he ordered again, but a bit more politely.

“You are seriously offering me a job?  Doing what?” Megan demanded, but she did stand up so he could look at her.

“You’re shorter than Glenna, but I like that.” 

His dark eyes softened in approval and Megan suddenly realized the man was handsome as sin!  Dark black hair, tall, broad shouldered, and well built, with a smile to die for.  Yes, the man was making her want to work for him, no matter the job!  She was getting carried away, but the prospect of finding another job so quickly got her hopes up!  “What kind of work do you do, and what would I have to do as your assistant?” she inquired, making herself ask the questions she needed to have answers for before she fell all over herself only to learn he was doing something shady or illegal.

Montague felt the urge to tease the pretty girl.  “You would have to let me cut you in half and make you disappear,” he told her, his tone perfectly serious.  He loved watching the emotions play across her face.  Her eyes were a lovely shade of green and they filled with disbelief, then shock, and then with dismay, and finally the temper that was always lurking beneath the surface of most redheads.  It was one of the reasons he was drawn to ladies with pretty red hair.  A woman was no fun if she didn’t have a bit of spirit ready to jump out and slap those who dared to offend her!  A bit of taming and this young lady would be just perfect.

“Fine.  Get lost, jerk!” she retorted, positive he was wasting her time. Megan gave him her back, fully intending to ignore him.  His pickup line needed a lot of work!  And that is when she saw the poster and felt her cheeks turn red as she recognized the man!  He was the hotel’s current entertainment!  Montague the Majestic!  Slowly, she turned to face him.  “You are the magician on the posters around the hotel…?”

“I am!”  He bowed, then seemingly from nowhere, he pulled out a bouquet of flowers and presented it to her.

“Oh my goodness!” Megan was truly impressed, and he saw the wonder in her green eyes.

“How difficult would it be for me to convince you to come and work for me, Red?” he asked, smiling hopefully.  She was perfect for the job and he was certain of it.

“Not difficult at all.  I would love to take the job.”  Her mind was made up.  If taking this job would keep her from having to go home and face her parents once again as a failure, she would do whatever it took to make it work, even if it involved getting cut in half!

“You don’t know what it pays, or the hours involved,” he warned, completely taken aback by her seemingly instant decision.  “While we are only on stage for two shows an evening, I demand a lot of rehearsal time.  I am constantly changing my routine and adding new features, and removing others.  I do not want guests to come back a second time and see the same exact show each night.”

“I am willing to work hard,” Megan told him.  Brenda brought her wine and Montague’s beer and put them on the table, and Montague thanked her and then took a seat.

“I live out of hotels and will require that you do the same.  There is really no point in having an apartment, Red, and you will need to close up the one you have now.  It is a waste of your money since we’ll be on the road constantly; if we do take a break, we’ll go home and stay with family.  Can you handle that?”

“Yes, I can,” she replied.  “I don’t have an apartment to close up.  I’ve been living on the road lately.  And, I am also in need of a job,” she admitted, biting on her lip and hoping he wouldn’t ask why, but of course, he did.

“Is that why you looked on the verge of tears when you came in here?” Montague asked curiously.

Megan nodded, too embarrassed to deny her circumstances.

“So, what happened?  Did you get fired?” he asked.

“Yes,” she was forced to admit, then decided to be honest.  Since the disaster happened right here in one of the hotel’s conference rooms, it would hardly be a secret and if he asked around, someone would surely satisfy his curiosity. “The blender I was using to make a smoothie caught on fire during the demonstration, and I panicked, and caught my foot on the table leg, and sent blenders flying everywhere!”  She bowed her head, but not before he caught the glint of tears in her pretty eyes.  “It was a complete disaster.  People screamed and rushed to get out of the room.  My boss blamed me, of course, and fired me.  He said that my sales were low, and this was simply the last straw.  The audience was filled with buyers for different department stores across the country, and EasyBlend lost all those potential sales.  Not one person thought to blame the blender they gave me to use for the demonstration.  I guess I was supposed to pretend that everything was normal while the blender was burning before our eyes.” 

Megan felt sorry for herself, and it was very evident to Montague.  He had little patience for women who sat around and pouted.  “I would think you would be celebrating.  There isn’t much future with that company.  Just another splashy display for a while, but within another six months the company will go bankrupt.  It is good your name won’t be associated with their difficulties.  You will be better off with me, young lady.”  He gave her a hard look.  “Don’t you think it’s time you told me your name?”

Megan found herself smiling, and then she giggled.  “You hired me without knowing my name!  You must be desperate!”

“I am.  I have shows tomorrow night, and without an assistant I can’t perform.  I have never in my entire career canceled a show, and I’m not going to start now.”  His words were said with a determination that she found refreshing.

“My name is Megan Marley.  Is Montague just a stage name?” Megan asked curiously.

“Hardly.  My name is Preston Hadley Montague the Sixth.”

“The Sixth?” Megan repeated, and then giggled.  When he looked at her in disapproval she realized he wasn’t kidding.  “You are serious?  You are the Sixth…?”

“I am, and it is an honor.”

“Oh my gosh!  I thought that people with names like that lived in big mansions and drove fancy cars and had tons of money.”

He looked at her but made no comment.  Finally, he said, “My stage name is Montague the Majestic!”

“A pretty fancy name, don’t you think?”

“I think that you need to learn some manners, young lady.”  He got to his feet and said, “Come with me.  You need to try on the costumes that Glenna left behind in her room, which is now your room.  I expect you to be moved in as soon as possible and ready to rehearse.  I don’t have long to teach you the various routines, and I hope you are a quick study.”

“I will do my best,” she promised.

“I know you will.   I have a tried and true method of improving a performance and making it everything it should be.  I take my work seriously, and I expect to give the best show possible, whether it is in a hotel, or in a garage for a child’s birthday party.  Now get moving, Megan.  We really do need to get to work.”

“I think you could use a different tone of voice, Mr. Montague the Sixth!” she said, her green eyes challenging him.
“I’ve learned that most women respond better to a firm tone, Miss Markley.”  He reached down and took her hand and in the next second she was standing.  I strongly suggest you hurry your cute little butt, young lady, or we may have to start off your employment with a serious discussion about the rules I have for my assistant.”

Megan was truly indignant, but before she could say another word she felt his hand land on her backside with a loud noise!  He walked away and left her standing there, her mouth hanging open, even as her hand reached back to rub the stinging handprint she was sure would be there, hiding underneath her clothing!

“Honey, I am sure I could do a better job of spanking your sweet fanny…” a drunken salesman offered, trying to get to his feet, but landing back on his stool with an oomph.

“Leave the lady alone, Kenny,” Brenda said firmly.  “I think you should head on up to your room and take a nap so you’re in shape to join us down here tonight for the band challenge.  Lots of good music, free food, and the first drink is on us.”

While Kenny was distracted, Megan left the lounge and hurried to her room.  Montague forgot to tell her where he was staying, so she was going to have to ask… if she followed through and took the job as his assistant.  She wasn’t a bit sure she could put up with the man’s attitude.  And, he’d spanked her!  Right on her bottom, and it was stinging like crazy!  What kind of man swatted his employee?

Megan reached her room before her cell phone started ringing.  The tone told her it was her father, and she answered with dread.  “Hello, Dad.  How are you?”

“I’m fine,” he replied, his voice deep and hearty.  “How are you doing?  I am not sure I like this job of yours,” he commented.  “It don’t seem right to live out of a suitcase all the time.”

“I like it, Dad.  Traveling around is a lot of fun.”

“You aren’t going to meet a stable man doing that!” her Mom chimed in, and Megan realized that she was on speaker phone, something her parents frequently did when they wanted to gang up on her.

“I’m not trying to meet a man, Mom.”

“We want grandchildren, Meggie,” her Dad chimed in.  “It’s time that you come home and get a normal job right here and meet a nice young man and get married.”

“Dad, do we really need to have this conversation again?”

“Selling blenders isn’t a good job, Megan.  And, if you want to sell small appliances you can get a job at your Uncle Jimmy’s place.”

“I am not going to work for Uncle Jimmy, Dad.  I’m no longer selling blenders.  I got a new job today that pays a lot more,” she said when she had no clue how much she would be making.  The way it is set up, I have my lodging provided, and my hours are pretty reasonable.”

“What are you selling now?” George Marley asked, his voice reflecting his disapproval.

“Nothing.  I am working as a magician’s assistant, getting cut in half and made to disappear.  Doesn’t that sound like a lot of fun?  We are scheduled for a lot of shows, too, so I won’t be home any time soon.”

“What the heck is this all about, Megan Jeannine?  One minute you are working for a company, and now you are a magician’s assistant?  What happened?  And don’t you tell me ‘nothing’.  I know better.  Did you get fired again?” he demanded, his tone letting her know precisely what he thought about that.

“I quit, Dad.  I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, and I was offered this fantastic job.  The money is good, and once I learn the routines, I’ll find this boring, I am sure.  I am happy, and I was hoping you’d both be happy for me.”  She put some pout in her voice.

“Hell no, we ain’t happy!  Your Mom is right.  It’s time for you to come on home and get yourself a husband and have kids.  What do you know about this magician?  He might be broke and you’ll be working for nothing.”

“Dad, this hotel is a fancy place.  They only book top acts.  I’ll be fine, and I really need to hang up now.  I have to get packed up and moved to my new room so we can start rehearsals.  I’ll call you when I have more time to talk.”

“Little girl, don’t you dare try to put me off.  I can always tell when you are trying to hide something from me.  You either tell me what is really going on or I’m going to come down there.”

“Dad, you couldn’t afford to rent a closet in this hotel, and the tickets to the show are very expensive, too.  Relax.  I can take care of myself.”

“Like you did when that jerk artist wanted you to work as his assistant and then he tried to rape you?”

“I managed to defend myself, didn’t I?” she asked, hating the fact that the very memory made her tremble.  What her parents didn’t know is that another model heard her screams and hit the artist over the head with one of his sculpted pieces.  She still had nightmares about the incident and woke up screaming and in cold sweats.

“Yes, that is what you said, but your Mom and I know better.  Neither of us likes the idea of you working for a strange man.  What must I do to convince you to give up this foolishness and come on home?” her Dad pleaded.

“Dad, I’m not a child.  I am capable of making decisions concerning my work.  I wish you and Mom would realize that and stop trying to make decisions concerning my life!  Now, I really must go.  Montague is going to be furious with me before we even start, and I really don’t want that.  I am going to say goodbye now.  I love you both.”  She disengaged her phone and started gathering her belongings and putting them into her suitcases.  She was nearly finished when the telephone on the bed table rang.  She crossed the room to answer it and jumped when Montague’s voice came through the wire.

“I expected you a good hour ago, young lady!  Hurry up!”  He gave her his room number, which she wrote down since she was notorious for messing up numbers.  Finally, she had everything gathered.  She knew that Montague was waiting on her, and she had a desire not to test his patience since she feared he had very little patience to spare!  She used the elevator and when he opened the door to his suite for her she was stunned to see how much nicer his rooms were than hers!

“This will be your bedroom, Megan,” Montague told her as he held open a door to another room for her.  "There is a lock on your door, and it won’t insult me if you use it.  I would lecture my little sister if she didn’t use a lock in a situation such as this.  Have you let someone know where you are and that you are now working for me?”

“Yes, my Dad called, and I informed him and Mom of my change in employment.”

“Were they dismayed?” he asked, grinning boyishly.

“They were.  Mom wants me to move home, get pregnant and have lots of children.” 

“That sounds familiar,” Montague said with a rueful smile.  “My parents are constantly badgering me about marriage and children, and carrying on the family name.  I feel like that is the only reason they talk to me.  I am their only son and the Montague line will die if I don’t produce a male heir.”

“You don’t have a girlfriend, or a fiancée?” Megan asked, making sure of her facts.  She was very attracted to the handsome man, and she was sure she would find it heartbreaking if she suddenly learned he was attached to another woman.

“No, there is no one.”  She smiled.

“And you, Megan?  Is there anyone in your life I should know of?  I don’t want some jealous boyfriend coming up on stage and punching me in the nose.”

“No, there is no one at all,” she answered truthfully.  She put her belongings in her bedroom, and this room put the other one to shame.  It was decorated in subtle tones of green and ivory, with punches of rose to add color.  The bed was huge, and there were so many pillows that they covered almost the entire surface.  The carpet in the room was so soft her shoes sunk into it every time she took a step.  She had her own flat screen television and a small refrigerator in case she thought it too arduous to walk into the main room of the suite and find something to eat.  Her closet was spacious, and when she opened the doors and walked inside, she immediately found the costumes that Montague was certain would fit her.  The one that really captured her attention was a deep emerald green, and it sparkled when the light hit it.  She slipped off her clothing and quickly tried on the dress.  Just as Montague predicted, it fit her well, except for the length.  She quickly and expertly pinned up the hem.

“What is taking so long, Megan?” a masculine voice growled outside the door just seconds before it flew open.  “I hate waiting.  Are you decent?”

“Yes, I am, which does not mean I appreciate your walking in on me.”

“You are in my employ, young lady.”

“I am hemming my dress,” she explained.

He took it from her hand.  “What you are wearing is good enough to practice in, so let’s get started.

An hour later he was frustrated with her, and she was growing angry with him.  Nothing she did pleased him, and he kept telling her, “No, no, NO!”

“Stop yelling at me, Montague!  If you would slow down and explain exactly what it is that you are trying to do, I might be able to do what you expect of me!”

“Very well.  I will explain once more,” he said in pained tones.” She listened intently, but messed up the trick once again.  “You are doing this on purpose, young lady!  You are testing me to see what I will do, so I will put an end to this by showing you exactly how I deal with little brats.”

Megan was in shock when he took her by the arm and pulled her over to the sofa.  He took a seat and in the next moment, he pulled her facedown over his lap and he started spanking.  “Stop this at once!”

Montague ignored her.  “You went out of your way to earn this spanking, young lady, and you will have it!  Maybe by the time I am done, you will find it easier to concentrate on your part and stop making it more difficult than it is.”

“I am trying, and this won’t prove anything because I quit!”

“You can’t quit.  I need you.”

“Then stop spanking me!  I’m not a child!” she squealed.  He ignored her and continued spanking her with his hand, which felt like a hard board.  She was soon pleading nonstop, but even then he continued to set her bottom on fire. “Please stop!  Please!”  She burst into tears, and that seemed to be what Montague was waiting for. 

He stood her on her feet and said, “Now you will do this correctly, hear me?”  He started the trick once more and Megan managed to do it well enough to suit him.  He made her do it over and over and over until she thought she would drop from fatigue.

“Please…!  Enough for now!” she begged.

“Do you want another spanking?” he demanded of her.

“No!”

“Then you will do what I say until I tell you otherwise.  Once this is mastered, we will start with another.  There is no time to waste, Megan.”

“But, I am still in pain!” she cried out.

“Yes, and that pain is helping you concentrate, isn’t it?” he asked of her, his dark eyes seeming to look through her.  “I will settle for nothing less than your very best, Megan.  Now stop whining and we’ll continue.  I want to see a pretty smile on your face this time.”

Megan wanted to tell him to go to hell, but the thought of admitting to her father that he was right kept her doing what the magician demanded of her.  Her bottom was burning, and she was exhausted.  Finally, she felt like screaming.  “Enough, Montague!  I’ve done this trick so much now I could do it in my sleep!  No more!  I need a break!”

“What you need is to learn who is in charge here, young lady.”

To be continued…

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