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This is Things We’re Taking Credit For Now. This week, we’re taking credit for: the uncomfortable overlap between sexual desire and blind hatred.

We’re taking credit for: the word “frenemy,” and the existence of frenemies in general.

We’re taking credit for: the fine print nobody reads about stock ownership and corporate mergers- Fuck.

Melantha having the audacity to ruin his favorite festival was bad enough. The resultant tedious legal battle was even worse. But this was the torturous cherry on top of the whole torture cake. She was here. In his building. In his office. Sitting across from him at his desk, doing everything in her extensive power to make sure he couldn’t get any work done. Melantha Murther, CEO of [REDACTED], his number one rival and perhaps the only person evil enough to be a threat to his company. A small threat, though- or at least that’s what Corin desperately tried to remind himself as Melantha’s leg rubbed against his under the desk. Maybe her company wasn’t a big threat, but her constant presence around the office and the predatory glint in her eyes whenever she looked at him certainly seemed threatening.

So, despite his best efforts, his productivity had been tanking. Even now as he stared intently at his laptop screen in adamant refusal to meet her gaze, he couldn’t ignore the way she slowly slid her foot up his leg. And he wasn’t a prude or anything (despite some of the rumors around the office), he had no problem with Kakos Industry employees going about their workday in varying degrees of nudity as long as it didn’t affect their work performance- nudity was so commonplace around here that it wasn’t remotely distracting. But that’s because nobody at Kakos Industries had a body sculpted to perfection by the most evil cosmetic enhancements, proportions specifically designed to bring anyone with eyes and a pulse straight to their knees. That body somehow made a tight skirt look much more inappropriate than full nudity.

Corin often felt like Melantha was close to tipping into uncanny valley territory with her obsessive enhancements. One more surgery and she would suddenly be too artificial, unsettling and wrong in that minute but unmistakable way of something that isn’t human enough. But it hadn’t happened yet.

Melantha’s stiletto heel pressed hard against his shin.

“How long are you going to pretend to ignore me?”

“I’m working,” Corin muttered unconvincingly. “For someone who always brags about ‘no evil left undone,’ you’re not actually doing any work here.”

“You are so bor-ing.” Melantha reached across the desk and slammed his laptop shut- he had to yank his hands away to narrowly avoid getting his fingers squashed. “My company is in no danger of losing productivity. My employees don’t need constant micromanagement like yours.” It was so infuriatingly juvenile, as was the nature of their conversations. Juvenile, passive-aggressive bickering that shouldn’t be sexy but then again Melantha could eroticize a paper bag and really, Corin knew he didn’t stand a chance. God, he couldn’t think clearly with the way she was leaning over the desk. It didn’t help that he knew she was posturing, doing it on purpose to get under his skin. Her laugh was like nails on a chalkboard; it made the hair on the back of his neck stand up. “My eyes are up here, Corin.” But it wasn’t her eyes she was constantly thrusting in his face.

Fuck it. He pressed a button on his desk phone to page one of the Tabithas. “Hold my calls.” Melantha glowed- literally glowed, her subcutaneous LEDs pulsing gently under her skin. He wanted to smash her perfect, smug face against the desk. Destroy what was bound to be millions of dollars’ worth of [REDACTED] biotech.

“Come here.” Corin tried to sound commanding, but there was an unmistakable tremor in his voice as Melantha stood to walk over to him. He wondered if he was in danger of developing some kind of Pavlovian arousal response to the steady clicking of her heels on the hardwood. It was a very brief thought, because suddenly and without pretense she was straddling his waist and draping her arms around his neck, and that pretty much shoved everything else out of his brain. Now, Corin had seen Melantha engaged in various sexual acts (some of which involved him as a direct participant but more often than not didn’t) literally countless times, but that didn’t stop him from grabbing her by the waist and thrusting his body against her with agonizing need. Hell, he had seen her engaged in various sexual acts that day. But it was never enough. Melantha untucked his shirt to slide her hands up his torso. Her sharp nails grazed his skin and it sent chills up his spine. He hated her. He was filled with rage. He worshipped her and his hands trembled as he reached out to caress her bare waist. She shoved his hands away.

“Pathetic.” Melantha’s mocking drawl in his ear shook Corin from his reverence. “Mister Big Bad Evil, letting yourself get dominated so easily in your own office. What would your precious shareholders think of you acting so desperate?

“God, shut up,” Corin hissed through gritted teeth. He reached again to unbutton what might generously be called her blazer, though blazer implied a lot more fabric and generally also something underneath. Melantha threw her head back and laughed.

“Make me.” Well, he set himself up for that one. “Come on, Corin,” she continued, pressing her body closer. “Show me some of that overwhelming darkness you’re always bragging about. I know you want to unleash that all over me.” Her lips were against his neck as she spoke, dark lipstick smearing his skin; her fingers were unbuttoning his shirt and yanking it off.

“What do you want me to do…?” Corin asked, and cringed at himself for asking. But Melantha just smiled- a gentle smile, which somehow made it more terrifying- and pressed her lips against his. She kept a vice-like grip on him as she stood and pulled them both back against the desk. She lifted herself to sit on the edge of the desk as his hands fumbled to discard his belt. Melantha wrapped a leg around his waist and he leaned over her, pinning her body down under his. She grinned and ran her tongue over her teeth.

“Corin, Corin, Corin,” she purred, letting his name drag out slowly across her tongue. “You know you’re the closest thing I have to a real rival.” He opens his mouth to protest, and she presses her finger against it. “Nobody else comes close, which means nobody else can give me the evil I need.” She stared up at him with that perfectly sculpted pout that made him ache. “Can you? Or all you all talk?” Of course Corin knew she was baiting him. Melantha was pulling the strings, manipulating him into fulfilling whatever twisted fantasy she was trying to play out. And he took the bait willingly. He dug his nails into her perfect, artificial skin, lights pulsing red; he dragged his nails across her stomach and she arched against him. Amazing- when she was playing the domme, when she wanted to exert her power over him, he was wrapped around her goddamn finger at a single word. But like this, yielding to him with those little breathy moans she played up on purpose, arching into him when he touched her, it made him feel like a wild animal. Maybe he was repressed- he had an image to maintain, after all, and he spent so much time exerting self control for the sake of the company. The temptation to let that all go and selfishly act on his urges was too good to resist.

“You’re a hypocrite. You love telling me how I can’t compare to all the men you engineer over at your company, how inferior I am,” Corin growled, his mouth against Melantha’s ear. “But here you are, coming on to me, doing all this...” It was so easy to fall into that stupid self-indulgent dirty talk- no wonder Melantha enjoyed it so much. He grabbed her wrists and they felt so delicate in his hands, her whole body felt so delicate and he was surprised- it was easy to forget that she was actually just a human woman. More or less. “Admit that I’m the one you want.”

“And what will you do to me if I don’t?” she pushed back, but her voice hitched in her throat. She was losing her composure, letting it slip that she really was growing desperate for him. And that put him at an advantage.

“What will I do to you?” he repeated slowly, and he felt an Evil-with-a-capital-E grin spread across his face. “I will do absolutely nothing. I won’t touch you, I’ll leave you here totally unsatisfied. You can find somebody else to fuck.” Melantha huffed- in irritation, in arousal- and grinded her hips up against his as if in retaliation.

Fine. You’re the one I want, okay?” Melantha did not meet Corin’s eyes when she said this, and her words were rushed, without the affectation of sexual undertone. Corin made a mental note to gloat about that later. His slid his hand up Melantha’s skirt and her skin glowed brighter under his touch, LEDs hypnotic between her thighs. Her enhancements only served to make the whole situation feel more like a horny fever dream. He kissed her neck and could feel her pulse racing.

“I know. You’re not subtle. Like, ever. About anything.” Corin felt Melantha’s hand on the back of his neck, nails digging into his skin. She arched her back, spread her legs, loud and shameless and making him dizzy as he shoved his pants down around his knees and pressed himself against her. “Ask nicely.”

Please, Corin,” Melantha moaned, back to playing up the sexy voice. So fake, so performative. “I know you want to do things to me. Horrible, degrading things, all over your office.” Corin had a conspiracy theory that Melantha’s absurdly terrible dirty talk was an intentional modification to prevent her partners from becoming overwhelmed by her sheer sexual prowess. Or maybe she was just like that. But it didn’t matter; no amount of you-know-what in you-know-where could kill this mood. “Do it, Corin,” she demanded in a way that made him close his eyes and groan softly. “I want you.” That was all it took for him to grab her hips and thrust into her, hard, making her scream and drag her claws down his back. He wondered if anyone would hear them. Was his office soundproof? It was probably soundproof, right? That seemed like something Kakos Industries would do. The tiny part of Corin’s brain that wasn’t currently in his dick briefly imagined the Tabithas crouched with their ears pressed against the door. He considered covering Melantha’s mouth, but there was something so appealing about her uninhibited, obnoxious loudness. He wanted her to scream loud enough to be heard in the Hell labor camp (even over ordinary screams of everyone down there all the time).

“Am I still inferior to all your other men?” Corin growled into her ear. Melantha just laughed, albeit breathlessly, and she grabbed his hand and brought it up to her throat. Corin felt something hot and dark roiling in his stomach. His CEO-brain was still trying to exercise some modicum of restraint, but his dick-brain wanted to see blood. He exhaled heavily. “Jesus, Melantha.”

“Are you scared?” Melantha whispered. Her eyes were so wide as she looked up at him. “Are you scared of what you could do to me?” He was, actually. But she didn’t look scared. She looked excited, expectant, willing- and smug, as usual. Corin grunted and did not respond except to thrust into her harder, but he also did not move his hand from her throat. Melantha threw her head back and moaned. Her LEDs pulsed dizzyingly and it felt so damn good evil to see her come apart like this for him, because of him. With remarkable flexibility, Melantha’s legs were over his shoulders, positioning herself in what apparently was the ideal position to send her over the edge of climax. She screamed out his name and gripped him so tight he was sure she was drawing blood. “Don’t stop,” she hissed.

Corin did not stop. He did pause though, and pull away long enough to grab Melantha and turn her around with her back to him, and she bent over the desk and arched back against him. He made her wait as long as he could hold out, which was not very long, and then he was pushing into her again and she was gasping and moving her body with her exquisitely unnatural skill- and he knew he was reaching his limit. He grabbed her by the hair, kissing and biting at the lights flickering under her skin, and slammed himself against her hard enough to leave bruises on both of them. Melantha was gripping the desk with one hand and had slid the other down between her legs, rubbing herself as he thrust into her. When she came a second time, she dragged him down right along with her. He squeezed his eyes shut and shuddered as he panted her name against her skin, electricity sparking through his body in what seemed like another technological upgrade but likely was just in his head. His movements slowed until he was still, his body still pressed against hers, and for a moment there was nothing but heavy breathing.

Eventually, Corin pulled himself away and took a moment to admire the sight- Melantha spread out on his desk, skin flushed and lights glowing. Her eyes were closed and there was a smile on her face that reminded Corin of a satisfied lioness after a particularly gruesome kill. And then her eyes opened and a grin spread over her face as she pushed herself up from the desk.

He took a few steps back and collapsed into his chair. All the frantic sexual energy that had been fueling him a moment ago had been depleted, and he was exhausted. Melantha, on the other hand, had recovered and looked to be even more energized. She smoothed down her skirt that had been bunched up around her waist (though the blazer was long gone) and approached to sit on his lap again. Corin was prepared to protest another one of her advances- he would need a few minutes and some electrolyte supplements before trying any of that again- but apparently that was not Melantha’s intent. She just leaned against his chest and idly traced her fingers up and down his skin, giving him goosebumps. He found himself resting his cheek against her head. He found himself...holding her.

“You better not tell anyone about this,” Melantha said, shattering Corin’s moment of tenderness. Oh, yeah. Reality.

“Of course I won’t. It would look bad for both our companies.” Hell, the merger already looked bad enough. Rumors about the rival CEOs spending the whole thing fucking would be a huge blow to shareholder confidence.

“You better not. If I find you you’ve been implying anything happened between us, my nether lawyers will destroy you and your little company.” Corin groaned and leaned his head back against his chair.

“God, you are so annoying.”