Sabine Murad surveyed the well-manicured garden at the entrance of Creme Rouge, the city's most celebrated five-star French restaurant, before gently opening the passenger door of the dusty yellow taxicab. Her foreign driver offered no assistance upon her exit, indicating a clear lack of appreciation of the gentility with which a lady must maneuver in 6 inch black Jimmy Choo Aster suede low-ranger pumps. Never mind him. In a few hours, he, along with the rest of this sorry town, would be falling at her well-heeled feet.
It had been a long time coming. Sabine had worked John Granger like a 9 to 5 - all of her time, effort, and wardrobe choices during the past year had been dedicated to "Operation Double Granger." The word "double" signified the number 2 and the idea - no, the promise (for he had promised) - that in short order she would be confirmed as John's second wife and the new First Lady of the city of Westlake. Mrs. Sabine Granger had a satisfying, deliciously powerful ring to it.
She had to confess, however, that at this stage of the relationship, their connection was no longer ALL about money or power. At the beginning, she was consumed by the idea of attracting a wealthy politician to meet her financial needs and aspirational desires, but over the last few months she had truly grown quite fond of John. The sex was adequate, but frankly, who needed lots of sweaty, disappointing fluid exchanges when she could afford a thousand vibrators with John's cash flow? She knew exactly how to please herself, and more importantly, she was even better acquainted with his needs. The occasional hot roll in the sack kept him happy enough to keep her in his pocket indefinitely.
Though the encounters were few and far between , sex with John was certainly more interesting than Sabine had initially imagined. Apparently, trusted, practical John was only aroused by risky, forbidden sexual trysts. Sabine could understand why. As the mayor of their fair city, his days were filled with unpredictable encounters and games of chance. The wheeling and dealing and savvy negotiation of the city's financial woes thrilled him in a way that no other career could - he thrived when his back was against the wall. It also gave him something that he couldn't live without - power. Sabine had come to understand that every situation and every relationship in John's life was a power play. He enjoyed controlling everyone and everything - including his meek, faithful wife, Priscilla. Sabine, however, did not play his game. During their "special moments" she asserted complete control and decided where, when, and how they did it. If he wanted a bitch to boss him around in bed, he had certainly picked the right one.
Many a night, John had entered her uptown Terrace Square apartment - which he had purchased and furnished, of course - after a full day of calling the shots, then crumbled at her feet at the sight of her barely naked body strapped in tight black leather dominatrix garb. It worked every time. She fulfilled every naughty, submissive fantasy that he managed to describe in the throes of ecstasy between her powerful thighs. She summoned forth parts of him that he had never revealed to anyone else. At this point, she had him by the balls in every sense.
Not that she didn't need him too. John afforded Sabine every luxury that she knew she had always deserved. Expensive meals, luxurious vacations, couture clothing - you name it and Sabine could have it. He spared no expense. She often wondered whether it was his personal fortune that he lavished upon her so indiscriminately or funds he had "acquired" from the public treasury. Not that it mattered. She felt that she was performing a public duty by servicing Westlake's beloved mayor. Compensation was due.
Now, all of her hard work was about to bear enormous, life-changing fruit. Two weeks ago, she and John had walked the diamond district together, holding hands and trying on matching engagement rings at Tiffany's and Cartier before settling in at her place for a night of intense sexual pleasure at the hand of her golden whip. She had made her preference known at the start of their window shopping spree - at minimum, he was to present her with a 4carat platinum emerald cut diamond show stopper - nothing less. Which, in Sabine's terms, meant that he needed to automatically purchase a much larger,'more expensive ring to ensure her happiness. She had no doubt that John would deliver such a ring. Their future together depended on it. That night, she used that whip to deliver every pleasure his little heart could desire, making sure that he knew that she would be worth the largest, most expensive ring that he could afford.
She rubbed her palms down the skirt of her blood-red sleveless Karen Millen cotton peplum dress and inhaled the warm, humid spring air deeply. It was ripe with the promise of a new start. She smiled at the notion that this would be one of her final moments as Sabine Murad! In a few short months (or even weeks, she hoped) John would officially release his dumbstruck wife back into the dating pool with signed divorce papers and join Sabine for a lifetime of hot sex and fabulosity. She tucked her Kate Spade signature straw tote handbag into the crease of her elbow and glided through the restaurant's thick glass double doors as if it were already her wedding day.
Julius, Creme Rouge's smoothly effervescent maitre'd, greeted her very quietly in the front corner of the dimly lit reception area. The place vibrated with the jovial Friday night chatter of Westlake's über-elite. "Good evening, Ms. Murad. Are you scheduled to dine with us this evening?" he asked, glaring at her strangely.
Sabine stared at him in horror. Did John forget to ask his personal assistant, Elise, to make their reservation? Did Elise intentionally "forget" to make the booking? That old hag was always on Priscilla's side. When Sabine married John, that bitch was definitely going to be out of a job.
She regained her composure and responded. "Yes, Julius, Mr. Granger's assistant would have made the reservation a few days ago. Surely you have a table available for our beloved mayor? Perhaps his usual?"
Julius ran a long bony finger down the reservation list and paused at an entry that was written in bright red ink and had been circled more than a few times. "Yes, madam, here it is," he said slowly, issuing her another wide eyed stare.
What is wrong with this guy? she thought. Was he trying to ruin her moment? He was probably high - cocaine was said to be making a huge come-back, almost as big as it was in the 80s. Maybe he was taking that drug that made that guy eat the homeless guy's face under the bridge in Miami last year. What was that stuff called again?
Julius cleared his throat, interrupting her thoughts. "Mayor Granger has yet to arrive. Perhaps you should call him." He tried to hand her a cordless phone with a slightly trembling hand.
"That won't be necessary." She smiled politely. I'll just wait at our table." Sabine pushed the phone away.
Julius tried again. "Maybe you would like to call him anyway just to tell him that you have arrived."
"No, but thank you..."
"Madam, I really think..."
"Julius," she shouted in exasperation, "just take me to the table!"
Julius sighed, defeated at last. "As you wish, Madam. Right this way." He turned and made his way toward the exclusive private room at the rear of the restaurant. Sabine followed.
"I'll show you to your usual table. The other two members of your party are already seated."
The other two members of her party? His words raced through her mind as she sauntered behind him, oblivious to the attention she was receiving from the other patrons. Who would John have invited to join them for this intimate celebration? Could it be Jesse, his sweet, studious teenage daughter, to introduce her to her future stepmother quietly before her mother could tell her about it? Or Earl Shatz, his friend and most trusted legal advisor, be here to plan a communications strategy around managing the public's perception of John's political brand once word got out that they were engaged? Sabine thought Jesse would have been a good choice. She couldn't wait to meet her!
After an endless walk past throngs of fabulous people, Julius and Sabine came upon the French double doors of the private room. She braced herself with a deep breath and put on her best pageant smile. Julius pushed the doors open and announced her arrival. "Ms. Sabine Murad."
The view knocked the wind right out of her. Sabine froze in her tracks, her pageant smile falling to the floor in a flash. Sitting stoically before her were none other than Mrs. Priscilla Granger and Amara Grace-Jones, the city's leading divorce attorney and infamous ball-breaker.