A Sheep In Wolf's Clothing

Info silverhawk
19 Apr. '20

People have always interested me.  I don’t mean my friends are interesting, though a couple of them are.  What I’m talking about is people you know well enough to think you understand them, but later find out they have another side to their personality.  

When I was growing up, people were just people.  Some I liked and some I didn’t, but all the people I knew were just how they were.  In the naiveté of youth, I didn’t look deeper into anybody.  I just assumed the face they presented to the world was the face they took to bed each night.  When I started college, I still hadn’t learned to see deeper than the surface, but though I didn’t know it, that was about to change.  

It was during my first semester of college that I began to understand that all people have two personalities – the personality they show to the world and the personality they keep hidden from most.  It was in my freshman analytic geometry class I first became aware of this fact.

At that time, very few women ventured into the sciences and engineering.  They seemed to prefer the arts and education programs.  In my freshman engineering class, there were only four women out of the thousand plus class.  As one might expect, they didn’t really have to look for dates even though they weren’t especially good looking women.  

As I was still rather shy, I never attempted to ask one of them out.  In fact, it wasn’t until half way through the semester I ever dated a girl and even then, it didn’t start out as a date.

Janice wasn’t an Engineering major.  She was a Math major, which was even odder than if she’d been in Engineering, but then, Janice was pretty odd herself.  She always looked like she got out of bed every morning, grabbed whatever clothing was handy, and went to class.  Most of the time, that was loose jeans and an even looser T-shirt with black high-top tennis shoes.

Janice wore black plastic framed glasses with lenses so thick they kept sliding down her nose and she was always pushing them back up.  They’d slip back down a few seconds later, so all through the class I had with her she kept stabbing at her glasses with her index finger.  Her dark brown hair was cut short and I figured that was so she didn’t have to do much with it.  She didn’t seem to, anyway.  Usually she pulled it back in a ponytail, but because it was so short, it looked more like the tail feathers on a duck’s ass sticking straight out of the back of her head.

I figured Janice was one of those people who are so smart they forget about everything except thinking.  I was surprised when after class that October day, Janice stopped me in the hall outside the classroom.

“Tim, you seem to understand cardioids but I’m having trouble understanding Professor Patel for some reason.  Is there some way you could sit down with me and explain how the equations work?”

It didn’t surprise me that she had trouble with Professor Patel.  He spoke pretty good English, but his Indian accent was so thick it often didn’t sound like English at all. I didn’t really want to, but I’d been raised to help people when they needed help.

“Yeah, I suppose I could do that.  When and where?”

Janice smiled.

“Let’s meet here at the math building tonight, about six.  They don’t close it up until ten, so we should have plenty of time.”

At six that night, I walked up the steps to the math building and found Janice standing just inside the door waiting for me.  When we went inside, Janice led the way to the stairway.

“Let’s go up to the second floor.  Nobody ever goes up there at night.  They’re too lazy to climb the stairs.”

I didn’t know why it was so important to Janice that nobody else was around, but I followed her up the stairs.

About half-way up to the second floor I started noticing that Janice had a really nice ass.  Like I said, her jeans were baggy, but when she climbed those stairs, they tightened up on her ass with every step.  A couple of times, her T-shirt sort of fell away from her body and I could see the cups of her white bra.  They looked pretty neat too.  I thought maybe if this went OK, I’d ask her out some weekend.

We got to the second floor and Janice led us down the hall to a classroom.  She looked inside, then looked at me and smiled.

“It’s empty just like I thought it would be.  Let’s go inside so you can teach me about cardioids.”

The classroom didn’t have the standard chair-desks like most did.  Instead, it had tables arranged in rows with ordinary chairs.  Janice sat down at a table and then pulled out the chair beside her and patted the seat.  I sat down, opened my analytic geometry book and started explaining cardioid equations and how the different variables affected the shape of the graph when you plugged numbers into the equation.

About two minutes after I started, Janice put her hand on my thigh.  I looked at her and she grinned.

“Wanna have some fun?”

“I thought you wanted me to explain cardioids?”

Janice move her hand up to my fly and then shook her head.

“Nah, that was just an excuse to get you alone with me.”

“So you want to have sex…right here?”

Janice grinned again.

“Oh God no.  I’m still a virgin.  Mom would kill me if she knew I’d screwed a guy before I was married to him.”

“Well, then what did you have in mind as far as fun?”

Janice stroked my cock through my fly.

“I’ll suck your dick for you.  I swallow too.”

Well, that was a shock.  Guys had talked about a girl sucking their cock in high school, but as far as I knew, that’s all it was, just talk.  Jack had told me he tried to get Mary to do it, but she slapped him and said she’d probably throw up.

“You really want to do that?”

I felt Janice undoing my belt buckle then.

“Oh yeah.  I love sucking dicks.”

I was going to ask her how many she’d sucked, but when she pulled down my zipper and then grabbed my cock through my underwear, that sort of took away my ability to talk.

“Move your chair out so I can get to you”, she whispered.

As soon as I did, Janice knelt in front of me and grabbed the waistband of my jeans.

“Lift your butt up so I can get these off.”

Once she had my jeans down to my knees, she pulled my underwear down with them, then laid her glasses on the table and picked up my cock.

“Just relax and let me do everything.”

I relaxed for all of about three seconds.  That’s how long it took Janice to wrap her lips around my cock head and suck it gently.  I’d never had my cock get so hard so fast in my life.

It was new to me, so it didn’t take Janice very long to have me humping her face.  When I groaned, she pulled her mouth off my cock and giggled.

“Like this, do you?”


Janice smiled.

“Wait until I won’t let you cum a couple times.”

“I don’t think you can stop that from happening.”

Janice grinned.

“Just wait and see.”

Well, that was the third surprise of the night.  Janice was stroking my cock and sucking it and licking the underside when I started humping her face again.  She let me go until I was almost ready to cum, then stopped and squeezed the base of my cock.

That stopped me from cumming, but it didn’t take away much of the feeling that I was going to.  She let me calm down a little, then started jacking me and sucking my cock again.

The second time she did that, I whimpered because it felt like my cock was going to explode.  Janice just chuckled.

“See, I told you you’d like it”.

When she started sucking my cock again, that same feeling came back after only a few seconds.  Janice didn’t stop this time.  She licked the underside of my cock head and jacked me until I was humping her face again, and then started sliding her mouth up and down over my cock.  I looked down and saw Janice looking at my face.  She winked one eye at me, and then I saw her cheeks pull in.  

That did it for me.  I groaned as the first spurt of cum raced up my cock and into Janice’ mouth.  I groaned again then because she had my cock most of the way into her throat, and when she started swallowing, that was doing some fantastic things to my cock head.

Janice didn’t stop until I was gasping for breath.  She swallowed one more time, then pulled off my cock and licked her lips.  I jerked when she used two fingers to strip up the length of my shaft.  When she licked off the dribble that came out of the tip, I shuddered because my cock head was so sensitive.

Janice looked up at me and grinned.

“That wasn’t so bad, now was it?”

I forgot to watch my language then.

“Oh fuck.  That’s the best thing I’ve ever felt.”

Janice just grinned again as she put on her glasses.

“Hearing you say fuck makes me want to suck your dick again, but I have to get back to the dorm to study.  We can do this again tomorrow night if you want though.”

That’s about how the rest of the semester went.  It wasn’t every night, but it was all the nights we had class together.

The odd thing was Janice never said anything to me during or after class.  It was like she didn’t know me at all.  I couldn’t understand that until I figured out Janice didn’t want anybody to notice her unless she wanted them to, like when she wanted to blow me.  On those days, she’d stop me after class, grin, and say “I need help again.  Math building at six OK with you?”

I didn’t see Janice after that semester ended.  I did look for her, but I guess either our schedules didn’t coincide anywhere or she’d transferred to another college.

I met Roxy instead, and Roxy turned out to be just as interesting as Janice.

Roxy was in an art class I took as an elective.  Why the College of Engineering thought it was necessary for engineers to learn something about fine arts was beyond me, but I had three classes that fit my schedule that semester - that art class, a class in literature, or a class in music theory.  I liked music, but I didn’t really want to analyze it, and I figured literature would just mean more reading on top of what I already had to read, so I registered for the art class.

It wasn’t an art class for artists.  The College of Art had their own classes where students drew or painted pictures of naked people and bowls of fruit, or made sculptures out of clay and papier-mâché.  This was a class where we tore up colored paper and pasted it onto another paper with rubber cement to make abstract designs.  The class was full of girls studying to be home-economics teachers.  There was one other guy, but after I met him, we didn’t associate much.  He was a music major, and as we used to say back in high school, he was pretty light in the loafers.

Roxy was a tiny little blonde without much in the way of breasts or an ass.  I probably wouldn’t have noticed her if she hadn’t sat at the table beside me twice a week.  Over the weeks of tearing up paper and gluing it down with rubber cement, we sort of became friends.  

Roxy liked helping me.  She’d look at how I’d laid down my ripped up paper before gluing it, and she’d say something like “You have too much blue.  Use some yellow”, or “This shape looks wrong.  It needs to be longer and thinner”.  I didn’t mind Roxy doing that because I had no idea what the hell I was doing anyway and she was getting better grades than I was.

One day, Roxy was reaching for her rubber cement, got off balance, and started to fall off her stool in my direction.  When I caught her, I caught her under the arms and on the way to doing that, my hand brushed over her right breast.

Roxy got back on her feet and then blushed.

“Sorry about that, but thanks for catching me…and the other thing.”

“What other thing?”

“I can’t tell you now.  I’ll tell you after class if you still want to know.”

Well, if I hadn’t wanted to know what the other thing was before, I sure did after she said that.

I walked down the hall with Roxy after class, but she didn’t say anything until we got outside the building.  Roxy pointed to a bench at the side of the entrance.

“Let’s go sit over there, and I’ll tell you about the other thing.”

Right after we sat down, Roxy blushed bright pink and then smiled.

“You touched my booby.”

“Yeah, I think I did.  I’m sorry about that.”

Roxy shook her head.

“No, don’t be sorry.  I liked it.”

“Well, I’m glad, I guess.  Is that all?”

Roxy looked at her lap.

“Yes, but you don’t understand.”

“I don’t understand what?”

“How it is when you have little boobies like mine.”

“Well, Roxy, women all come in different sizes.  You shouldn’t be embarrassed by how big you are.”

She looked up and grinned.

“Oh, I’m not embarrassed by how little my boobies are.  It’s just that no guys give me a second look because they’re little and that’s pretty frustrating because of what my boobies do.”

“Frustrating?  How?”

“Well, sometimes I need to be with a guy.”

If Roxy had said “want” instead of “need” I wouldn’t have thought much about it, but “need” made me think she was talking about sex.

“You…uh…you want a guy to…sleep with you?”

“No, not that.  I’m saving that for when I find the right guy.”

“Then what is it you need?”

“I don’t know if I should tell you.  It’s embarrassing and you’ll probably think I’m weird.”

I smiled.

“Roxy, you might be a lot of things, but I don’t think you’re weird.”

Roxy took a deep breath then.

“Well, see, I have this problem, but it really isn’t a problem most of the time except when it is.”

I shook my head.


“I said I have this problem that isn’t a problem most of the time except –“

“I know what you said.  I just don’t know what it means.”

Roxy stood up.

“Come over here behind the bushes.”

We got behind the tall bushes on either side of the building entry.  Roxy pulled something out of her bra, then picked up my hand and put it on her left breast.

“See?  That’s the problem.”

I could understand then, because her breast wasn’t very big but her nipple was hard as a rock and made a big lump in the front of her bra.

“Oh”, was all I could say.

She held up the little flesh colored circle made of thin rubber she’d taken out of her bra.

“I have to wear these nipple shields or they show all the time.”

“They must work because I’ve never noticed you like this.”

“Well, if I didn’t, they would show, and sometimes it’s just because a man is talking to me, like you are now.  Then there’s the other part of the problem, the part you fixed for me.”

“What problem is that?”

“I can’t tell you that part, not here.  I can tell you tonight if you still want to know.”

That night, I drove over to Roxy’s dorm.  She was waiting for me in the lounge, and when she saw me, she grinned.

“Did you drive over in your car like you said you would?”

“Yeah.  It’s outside in the parking lot.”

“Good.  Let’s go out there.”

Once we were in my front seat, Roxy said, “Touch my booby again”.

Her nipple was just as hard and thick and long as it had been that afternoon.

“OK, it feels the same.”

“They get that way all by themselves sometimes because of my nipple shields.  The sticky stuff on them makes my nipples itch and that makes me excited and – well, this is the really embarrassing part – sometimes that makes me have an orgasm.”

“Just from that?”

“Uh-huh.  It’s been that way with me since I was fourteen.  Last semester, I had one right in the middle of English class.”    

I had to chuckle.

“I’ll bet that was an interesting English class.”

“Well, nobody knew I did because I’ve learned how to hide it.  I had to.  It was either that or they’d have put me in the loony bin a long time ago.”

“OK, so why are you telling me all this?  I mean, I don’t mind, but I didn’t think we were that close.”

Roxy stroked my arm.

“Well, when you touched my booby to keep me from falling over, you made my itch feel better and I wondered if you did it on purpose.  I was kinda hoping you did…and I was kinda hoping you’d want to do it again.”

“You want me to do it again?”

“Uh-huh, except I want to take off my bra before you do.”

“You want to take off your bra?  Why?”

“So I can have an orgasm and not have to hide it.  Orgasms are a lot better if I don’t have to keep quiet.”

Roxy didn’t really give me the chance to say I would or I wouldn’t.  She turned sideways on the seat to face me, unbuttoned her blouse, and then reached behind her back.

Her bra wasn’t much of a bra, but then she didn’t have much to put in a bra.  Her breasts did have a little fuller curve at the bottom, but that was about all.  Her nipples were a completely different story.  They looked as big around as my little finger and were almost as long as the first joint of that finger.

Roxy’s voice seemed a lot softer and huskier then.

“See, you’ve been talking to me and this is what happens. Touch me and see how hard they are.”

When I stroked a fingertip over Roxy’s right nipple, she shuddered.

“Oh God, that felt good.  Do it some more.  Do the other one too.”

I hadn’t felt a lot of nipples, but none I’d ever felt were as stiff as Roxy’s and while I already knew most girls had sensitive nipples, Roxy’s were something else.  The first few times I stroked her nipples, Roxy would either catch her breath or moan a little.  After a few more strokes, she put her hands on my shoulders to keep from falling down.  I know that’s why she did it, because she was so aroused she kept teetering to the side or backwards.

Roxy leaned forward a little and then whispered, “If you pinch me, I’ll have an orgasm”.

I didn’t believe her so I did pinch her nipples, both of them.  Roxy moaned and then murmured “Oh fuck”.  Right after that, Roxy sort of lost control of everything.  

I let go of her left nipple and put my arm around her to keep her upright because she was falling backward.  Roxy pulled herself toward me and buried her face between my neck and shoulder.  That muffled her loud cry a little, and for almost half a minute, she sat there rocking her hips and making little mewing noises.

When she stopped panting, Roxy looked up at me.

“See what I mean?”

“Yeah.  It was pretty awesome.  Is that all it takes?”

Roxy nodded.

“Yes, and I can do it again in about five minutes.  Last summer I was sunbathing in a bikini that had kind of scratchy cups and I did it six times by just moving my shoulders.”

“You’ve never…the regular way?”

Roxy shook her head.

“I told you no boys ever look at me.  How would I?   Besides, if I did, I’d probably pass out.  That’s what almost happens when I do myself.”

Well, that was another interesting semester.  The only parts of her Roxy would let me touch were her breasts and nipples, but that was more than enough for her.  I’d drive over to her dorm and she’d meet me in the lobby.  She always wore an oversize T-shirt so she wouldn’t have to wear a bra.  I always parked in the back row, and once we were in my car, Roxy would turn so her back was to me and lean back against my chest.  I’d slip my hands under her T-shirt, find her nipples, and make a few light strokes to get them to swell.

I soon learned she liked her nipples pinched lightly at first, then harder, and then pinched hard and pulled.  Once she felt the first tug, she dig her heels into the seat, arch up, and start to cum.  She could get pretty loud right at the end, but usually she’d hold her hand over her mouth and the loud cries were at least a lot softer.

Once Roxy and I didn’t have a class together we sort of drifted apart.  The rest of my time in college, I didn’t meet another woman like Janice or Roxy.  I really hadn’t been looking for either of them because I had to study hard to pass.  

I graduated with a high enough GPA to land a decent job as an engineer for Excel Manufacturing.  I wasn’t too sure about my boss, but the money was good and I liked the area.  I figured I could get along with anybody.  That was kind of right and kind of wrong at the same time.

Excel Manufacturing was owned by a woman, Ella Stevenson.  The company had been started by her husband, Harold, and when he died, she took over the company instead of selling it.  She’d managed to double the size of Excel Manufacturing over the past ten years.

Mrs. Stevenson considered herself a progressive woman, and when the Engineering Manager retired, Ella went looking for a woman to take his place.  The woman she hired was Lorena Masterson.  Lorena had the background for the job.  She’d spent ten years doing interior trim designs for two of the Big Three auto companies.

Mz. Masterson, and she left no question that that was how she was to be addressed, had seemed pretty sharp during my interview.  The questions she’d asked me weren’t the canned interview questions I’d gotten in all the other interviews I’d had.  She seemed to be a little hard too, but I figured that was just for the interview.

After my first week, I changed my mind about Mz. Masterson.  She wasn’t just hard.  She was an absolute bitch.  By Friday of that week, I was seriously considering quitting and looking for another job, and in that order.  She’d given me a small project to work on – figuring out why we had endurance test failures on one fastener in our self-adjuster assembly.  About every two hours that first day she’d walk up to my desk, stand there tapping her foot with her arms crossed, and ask me if I had an answer yet.  I hadn’t even figured out where the john in the office was, let along started to understand how the damned assembly went together and how it was supposed to work.

On Wednesday morning, I asked Dave, the engineer in the next cubicle if Mz. Masterson was having some sort of problem with me.  He just shook his head.

“No Tim, it’s not you.  She’s been that way since her first day.  They oughta give her a black leather bodysuit and a whip to go with her personality.”

By Friday afternoon, I’d figured out the problem and wrote my report with my recommendations.  I took the report to Mz. Masterson’s office and handed it to her.

“I figured out what’s going on.  The screw is too small for the load.”

She read the abstract, then looked up at me and frowned.  

“I suppose you have all the calculations in the body of the report?”

“Yes, and I had the model shop make a prototype with the screw I recommend we change to.  It passed the endurance testing.”

She stood up then and started pacing back and forth behind her desk.

“That’s the same screw we used to use.  We changed it as a cost reduction.”

I shrugged.

“Well, that’s the problem.  Everything but that screw is stronger than the applied loads by a factor of at least two.  If we don’t change it, the assembly is just going to keep failing.”

She glared at me.

“You’re just out of college.  Are you telling me you know more than the engineers who’ve worked here for ten years?”

That kind of pissed me off.  I knew my calculations were right because I’d checked them three times and my prototype had proved they were right.  I knew I had to keep my cool though, so I shook my head.

“No, I’m just telling you what my stress analysis says.  It says the screw is always going to fail.”

“Alright, I’ll read your report and then decide what we’re going to do.  I think we’re done here.”

When I got back to my cubicle, Dave grinned.

“Got any ass left?”

“What…Oh, no, it wasn’t that bad.  She didn’t like it but she couldn’t very well tell me I was wrong.”

“You’ve been working on the self-adjuster assembly, right, and you figured out screw number seven is too small?”

“Yeah, how did you know?”

“I’m the guy who changed it to the smaller screw.”

“Why?  If you did a stress analysis, you had to know it was going to fail.”

Dave smiled.

“Tim, when you have a mortgage and a wife and three kids to feed, you’ll learn it’s usually best to do as you’re told.  She wanted it changed so I changed it.”

I did a lot of thinking over that weekend, and by Sunday night, I’d decided Mz. Masterson wasn’t going to make me do anything I knew was wrong.  I only had me to take care of and I could survive for a while if she decided to fire me.

Over the next few weeks, I figured out Mz. Masterson was trying to use the design concepts she used to design automotive trim for the products Excel made.  Automotive trim basically has to be strong enough to survive the installation.  After that, it isn’t under any real stress other than cycles of heat and cold.  Our products were almost always under some kind of stress.  The smaller screw would probably have done fine holding on some dash trim, but it couldn’t take the stress the self-adjuster assembly was going to be under.

I had several run-ins with her over those weeks.  For some reason, she gave me the job of cost reducing that same self-adjuster assembly, and the first week, she asked me every day if I’d come up with anything yet.  When she asked me that Friday, I tried to be polite, but since I was pissed, it probably didn’t come out that way.

“No, but I’m working on it.  I’d get it done faster if I didn’t have to explain ten times every day that I’m not done but that I’m working on it.”

Mz. Masterson glared at me for a few seconds, then said, “When you have something bring it to me”, and then turned on her heel and walked back to her office.

Dave chuckled after she left.

“You sure put her in her place.  You probably won’t be working here much longer, but I’ll bet it feels great.”

The reason it was taking so long is that I’d basically started over.  The existing design was pretty old technology, and I thought I could make it both better and cheaper if I redesigned the whole thing instead of just chipping away at the existing design.

It took two more weeks, but I finished the design and the model shop built a prototype for me.  When that prototype passed the endurance test, I spent three days getting bugetary quotes from suppliers, then put all my data into a report and took it and my prototype to Mz. Masterson’s office.

She looked at my report and then at the prototype.

“This isn’t what I told you to do.”

“No, it isn’t, but if you’ll look at my component quotes, the new design saves us about ten percent over the original, it’s stronger, and it’s simpler so there are fewer parts to fail and it’ll be cheaper to assemble.”

She dropped my report on her desk.

“I’ll bet you think you’re pretty smart, don’t you, smart enough to go off on your own after I told you specifically what I wanted you to do.”

I didn’t say anything until I’d walked over and closed the door.  Then I came back to her desk.

“Mz. Masterson, I’m smart enough to know the old design was a crappy design and no amount of work would have made it significantly cheaper without making it too weak to pass the endurance test.  You didn’t specifically tell me not to change the design either.  What you said was for me to reduce the cost.  Well I did, and what I designed is cheaper and better.  If you don’t like what I did, then fire my ass, but don’t try to make me agree to doing something wrong just because it’s what you want because I won’t do it.”

She sat there for a few seconds with her mouth hanging open, and then waved her hand at me.

“Get the hell out of my office.”

I figured I’d get called into HR and let go the next morning, but I felt pretty good about what I’d done.  I might not have a job, but I still had my personal integrity.  That night, I went out and had a couple beers to celebrate.

The next morning, Mz. Masterson was standing in my cubicle when I walked into the office.

“We need to talk”, was all she said before she started for her office.

OK, this is it, I thought.  At least it wasn’t fun while it lasted.

When I walked into her office, she closed the door and told me to have a seat.  After she sat down, she put her hands on her desk blotter.

“I took your report home with me last night and checked your calculations.  Then I looked at your design.  It’s not what I wanted, but maybe our customer will like it.  I’m going to talk to their Engineering Manager on Monday and you’re coming with me to explain how it works and why it’s better.  We’ll leave on Sunday afternoon.  Patty will get our plane tickets and hotel reservations as soon as she gets in.  If you have a suit, pack it.  If not, rent one and put it on your expense report.  We need to make a good impression.  That’s all.”

When I got back to my cubicle, Dave was sitting there grinning.

“You leaving now, or did she let you stay the rest of the week?”

I shook my head.

“She didn’t fire me.  I’m going to the customer with her on Monday to explain my design.”

Dave raised his eyebrows and then turned around and started working.  I think he was disappointed.

On Sunday afternoon, I met Mz. Masterson at the airport.  She asked if I’d remembered to bring a suit, and when I said I did, that was the end of our conversation until we landed.  After we picked our bags off the luggage conveyor, she said “I got a car for us”, and started for the car rental desks.  I tagged along.

She didn’t say anything to me on the way to the hotel until after we checked in.  We were in the elevator before she did.

“I didn’t eat yet, did you?”


“The restaurant in this hotel is decent.  Let’s meet in the lobby in half an hour.”

It sounded like she was saying that only to be polite, though I couldn’t remember her ever being polite to me before.  The elevator door opened then, and as she picked up her bag and walked out of the elevator, I said I’d meet her in half an hour.

I was surprised that Mz. Masterson ordered a bottle of wine when she ordered her dinner, not just a glass but a whole bottle.  I thought maybe she was going to share it with me, but after she ordered she told me to order whatever I wanted to drink.  

Like before, she seemed to be talking to me as little as possible.  Normally, I’d have tried to strike up a conversation, but in her case I didn’t figure it would work and I was sure it wouldn’t be all that pleasant even if it did.

The waiter brought her wine and went through the whole thing of opening it, sniffing the cork and the pouring her a small amount to taste.  Mz. Masterson took a sip, and then nodded.  The waiter poured her wineglass half-full then sat the bottle on the table and left.  She’d finished that glass and was pouring her wine glass full when the waiter came back with our food.

She saw me watching her and frowned.

“I’m not a lush.  I just like wine.  It relaxes me.”

“I didn’t think you were.  I’m just surprised you’re drinking wine.  I figured you for a martini or something like that.”

“Why?  Because I’m such a bitch all the time?”

I hadn’t expected that, but I wasn’t going to let her make me tell her she wasn’t a bitch.

“Well, you have to admit, you are a bitch.”

She sighed then, another thing I didn’t expect.

“I have to be.  Any woman who gets a job like mine has to be.”

She took a bite of her chicken then, chewed for a while, and then washed it down with another drink of wine.

“You don’t understand, do you, Tim?”

I shook my head.

“No, I don’t think I do.”

She shook her head.

“I didn’t either, not at first.  My first job was with AMC and I was proud until I overheard two of the other engineers, both men, talking.  One of them said the only reason I got hired was because I’m a woman and AMC was getting pressured to hire more women.  The other said that wasn’t the reason.  He said the reason was I’d fucked the Engineering Manager.

“I graduated in the top ten percent of my class, so I knew I had the ability, and I knew I had to show I did by being a better engineer than any of the men.  It was so hard to do that though.  That was when sexual harrassment of women was pretty common and always overlooked.  After I got patted on the ass about a dozen times, I decided I’d have to be like the guys and not take anything from anybody.  That’s when the bitch thing started.

“I changed companies twice before I figured out three things.  One – it was easy to get hired because I’m an intelligent woman with engineering experience and every company was trying to hire more women, and two – I could get hired, but I’d get stuck in a job where I couldn’t fuck anything up.  The real engineering jobs, like engines and drive trains and suspensions, always went to men.  I got seat frames or dashboards or center consoles.  The last thing I figured out is I was never going to be more than just an entry-level engineer.  Nobody would put a woman in charge because the men wouldn’t work for her.

“Oh sure, I could have gotten a promotion to supervising the print room or some other department where almost all the employees were women.  I’d have had to sleep with their manager to do it, but I could have gotten promoted.  I finally gave up and started looking at smaller companies.  Ella thought like I did and she liked my experience, so she hired me.”

Well, I was pretty floored because Mz. Masterson was talking to me like I was a person instead of an engineer she barely tolerated.

“I guess like you said, I didn’t realize that’s how it worked.”

She’d finished her dinner by then and was half-way through her third glass of wine.  She sat the bottle down after holding it up to see how much was left.  It looked to me like she’d already drunk about half of the bottle.  She didn’t seem drunk, but she was pretty relaxed and she was having a little trouble not slurring her words.

“Well, tha’s how it works, and tha’s why I’m a bitch.  You guys wouldn’ do what I need done if I asked you nice like mos' women would.”

She finished her wine in one gulp, then stood up and picked up the bottle of wine.

“I’m going to my room, and there’s no sense leaving this wine for the waiter to drink.  You coming?”

We were about half-way to the elevator when she stepped sideways on her high heels.  I caught her under the arms before she could fall.  She got back on her feet and then said, “Let me go.  I don’t need any help.”

She took two more steps and then did it again.  I caught her again and pulled her back on her feet.

“You know, I think you’re going to keep doing this all the way to the elevator if I don’t help you.”

Mz. Masterson frowned at me.

“You think I’m drunk, don’t you?  Well I’m not drunk.  This damned floor is just slick.”

“Well, whatever the reason, I still think you could use some help."  

I put my arm around her waist to hold her up.

“OK, let’s just take it slow.”

When the elevator door opened at her floor, I put my arm around her waist again because she was slouched in the corner.

“Give me your key card.”

Mz. Masterson fished around in her purse for a couple of minutes.

“I know I put the damned think in here.  I just don’t remember where.”

She was bent over a little and the key card was making a rectangular shape in her hip pocket.

“Uh…Mz. Masterson, check your right hip pocket.”

She felt her left hip.

“No, the other one.”

She giggled then.  

“I knew I put the damned thing somewhere.”

“What’s your room number?”


Well, at least she got that right.  I used her key card to open the door, and then walked her inside and laid her on the bed.  She looked up me and giggled.

“Are you gonna tie me up now?  I like being tied up.”

If she hadn’t been my boss, that would have been hilarious.  Ok, it was hilarious and I chuckled.

“No, I’m going to take off your shoes and then try to get your drunk ass under the blanket.”

She giggled again.

“My ass isn’t drunk.  My ass wants to be spanked.  My tits too.  Are you gonna spank me?”

At the time, that seemed like a really good idea.  It would have been fun.  Thankfully, I had better sense.

“No, I’m not going to do that either.  Now stand back up so I can pull down the blanket and sheet.”

She rolled off the bed, stood up, and leaned on my shoulder while I pulled the blanket and sheet down enough I could get her in bed and cover her up.  When I raised up, she stuck her mouth on my ear and whispered, “Why don’t you pull down my pants and panties too?”

I didn’t say anything.  I just sat her ass on the bed and lifted her feet to turn her, then covered her up.

“You go to sleep.  I’ll call you in the morning for breakfast.”

She stuck out her bottom lip.

“Don’t I even get one spanking?”

“No.  Now close your eyes and go to sleep.”

She did, and about a minute later, she started to breathe deeply.  I laid her key card on the table beside the bed and left for my own room.

The next morning, I called at seven to see if she was awake because the meeting was scheduled for ten.  I didn’t figure she’d want much in the way of breakfast except for coffee, but I thought she’d need some time to get ready.

The phone rang six times before she answered it, and she sounded pretty rough.


“Mz. Masterson, it’s Tim.  Just wanted to see if you were up yet.  Remember, the meeting’s at ten.  We still have time for breakfast if you want.”

“What time is it?  Oh God, it’s seven.  Give me half an hour.  I’ll meet you in the lobby.”

When she walked out of the elevator, her clothes looked wrinkled as hell, but that was understandable because they were the same clothes she had on when I put her to bed.  Her hair looked a little weird, like she’d tried to comb it but had missed some spots.  She was also walking really slowly.

Her face looked like she was in pain.  I’d figured that would be the case, so I’d brought my little bottle of aspirins with me.

I smiled.

“Want a cup of coffee?”

She nodded and then winced.  I grinned.  It was neat to see Mz. Masterson this way.  I couldn’t tell anybody about this or I’d get fired, but it was a sight I’d remember for a long, long time.  I knew she would too, so maybe she’d go a little easier on me from then on.  It would be sort of blackmail, but she deserved it.

“Well, that little café off the lobby is open.  They serve breakfast too.  You need help getting there?”

She shook her head and then winced again.  

“No, I’m OK.  Just don’t walk too fast.”

Half a cup of coffee and three aspirins later, she seemed to be feeling better and she wanted to talk.

“What did we do last night?”

“Well, we didn’t do anything.  You drank too much wine and I helped you to your room.  Then I put you in bed and left.”

“That’s all?  Are you sure?”

It was wrong but I couldn’t resist.  This was probably the only time I’d ever have the upper hand on her.

“I wasn’t drunk, so yes, I’d remember if we did anything.  I’m sure we didn’t, well, except for what you asked me.”

I thought I saw just a trace of fear in her face.

“What did I ask you?”

“Well, let’s see.  You said you like to be tied up and asked me if I was going to do that.”

“Oh God, I didn’t…did I?”

“Yes.  Then you said your ass and tits wanted to be spanked.”

Mz. Masterson put her face on her hands then.

“Please tell me that’s all I said.”

“Well, actually, you did say one more thing.  You asked me to pull your pants and panties down.”

She looked up at me then.

“Tim, you can’t ever tell anybody about what happened.”

I grinned.

“Don’t worry, it’s tempting, but I won’t.  You are my boss after all.  If I told anybody you’d fire me.”

“No, I wouldn’t.”

This wasn’t the Mz. Masterson I knew talking.

“Given the way you always treat me, would you care to explain that?”

“Yes, but I need to reschedule our meeting and then get something in my stomach before I do.”

She used her cell phone to call the customer’s engineering manager while I sat there and listened to her lie out her ass.

“Mr. Morrison, I’m terribly sorry for this short notice, but our flight this morning had some sort of mechanical problem and was cancelled.  We can’t get another until this afternoon.  Would it be possible to reschedule our appointment for tomorrow at the same time?”

“Oh, thank you so much for being so understanding.”

“Yes, I’m bringing the design engineer and the prototype with me.”

“Great.  We’ll see you tomorrow at ten.”

She tapped her cell phone and then put it in her purse.

“Well, at least I don’t have to make an ass out of myself by walking into the meeting looking like this.  Now, if you’ll flag down a waiter, I think I want something to eat.”

She didn’t say much while we ate, just a little about how much her head hurt.  I didn’t comment other than to offer her a couple more aspirins.

After a second cup of coffee, Mz. Masterson looked at me.

“I can’t explain it here.  Let’s go up to my room.”

When we got to her room, Mz. Masterson closed the door and then sat down in one of the chairs by the window.

“Tim, you might as well sit down, because this is going to be hard for me and it’s going to take a while, but after what you did for me last night you deserve to know.”

Once I was sitting down, she looked at the bed instead of me.

“I’m not like you think I am, Tim, not inside.  I told you why I’m the way I am at work and everybody thinks that’s how I am all the time. I have to work at being a bitch and sometimes I go overboard.  That’s why nobody likes me, including me.

“I don’t like being how I am, because inside, I’m not a very dominant person, not dominant at all actually.  I have to act like a man and talk like a man to do my job and it isn’t much fun, but it was working until I hired you.”

I said I didn’t think I was much different than any of the other engineers, but she didn’t agree.

“No, you are different.  I have nine other product engineers working for me and you’re the only one who had the balls to stand up to me.  Oh, dammit, I can’t even talk like a woman anymore.  I never used to say things like balls and fuck.  Now they just come out without me thinking about it.

“All I did was tell you I knew I was right.”

“Yes, but none of the other men would have.  Dave should have known that screw wouldn’t work when I told him to change it, but he didn’t say anything.  You pushed back at me more than once when I assigned you the task of cost reducing the self-adjuster.  You didn’t do what I told you to do.  You did what you thought was right and you weren’t shy about contradicting me.”

“OK, so I stand up for what I believe.  I’d think a manager would want that.”

“I didn’t like it because you threatened my authority and you also scared the hell out of me.  I’d started to believe I really was the strong woman I act like, and then all of a sudden, I didn’t feel strong anymore.  I felt like my old, submissive self.”

She did look up at me then.

“The thing is…my old, submissive self liked feeling that way.  That’s why I brought you along on this call.  After reading your lab report and looking at your drawings, I could have talked to the customer and convinced him to change by myself.  I brought you along so maybe I could find some way to tell you when there was nobody else around.  

“I was going to tell you last night but I got really nervous and that’s why I drank so much wine.  I planned to tell you after dinner and instead I got myself dead-ass drunk.”

I was getting confused.  Mz. Masterson was a bitch because she had to be but she didn’t want to be and when I’d stood up to her she liked it.  It didn’t make any sense for her to tell me that.

“So what’s all that mean?  You want me to change?  You’re going to change?  I’m confused as hell.”

She shook her head.

“No, I’m not going to change, at least not at work, and I don’t want you to change either.”

“So what do you want?”

She hung her head again and her voice was so soft I barely heard the words.

“I want you to like me like I really am.”

That was even more confusing.  I suppose she knew what she was saying, but I sure as hell didn’t.

“How am I supposed to like the real you if you’re beating me up all day, every day at work.  I’ll never see the real you.  I’m not really sure I am now.”

“If I said last night what you say I said, you did see the real me.”

I had to grin.

“The thing about being tied up and spanked?  I figured you were too drunk to know what the hell you were saying.”

She looked back up at me then.

“I don’t remember telling you those things, but it is what I want.  I want more too.”

“You’re going to have to explain that too.”

She took a deep breath.

“”When I started being a bitch, it was hard for me.  I didn’t like myself and I’d go home wishing I could be like I was before, but I knew no man would want me because I could never let them see who I really was.  The stress was overpowering.  Then I overheard two of the secretaries talking in the ladies room.  One said she couldn’t imagine her husband tying her up and whipping her.  The other said they should go to a place called "The Black Castle" in Ann Arbor like she and her husband had.  She said the man who ran it had taught them about bondage and discipline and that had opened up a whole new world for them.

“The more I thought about that, the more I was intrigued.  I read some stuff about BDSM and I got excited because I read that with some people, doing that can relieve stress.  I found out where The Black Castle was and called them.  When I got there one Saturday afternoon, the man asked me what I liked and I told him I didn’t know because I’d never done it before.

“He asked me what I did at work, and when I told him, he said he’d had other clients like me and thought he knew what I might like.   Up until that point, he’d been really nice, but then he changed.

“He called me a worthless fucking slut and told me to take off my clothes.  I was shocked, but then I felt this little thrill, like he was going to control what I did instead of me controlling him.  I took off my clothes except for my panties.  He told me to lay down on my back on this padded table he had.

“He tied my arms and legs to the table with ropes.  I was scared after he did that.  I mean, he could have done anything to me once I was tied up.  I was scared, but that thrill I’d felt was also there and it was stronger.  

“He looked at me then and grinned, and said he was going to teach me how a proper slut should behave.  Then he slapped my boob with his hand.  I know, it sounds weird, but it hurt and made me start getting excited at the same time.  I couldn’t believe it myself, not then.  I thought something must be wrong with me if I actually liked that.

“He did a lot of other things to me too, like putting these sucking things on my nipples and slapping my boobs and between my thighs, and the more he did, the more aroused I got.  Then he untied my feet, pulled them up toward my hands as far as they’d go and tied them to the table again.  

“I thought he was probably going to have sex with me then and by then I was ready for that, but he didn’t.  What he did was start spanking my ass.  He’d start with just little taps.  The taps would get harder and harder until he was slapping me hard enough it hurt.  

“When I said I wanted him to stop, he just laughed and said a fucking slut like me needed her ass spanked until it was red.  Then he said he was going to keep spanking me until I told him I was a fucking slut and told him I wanted to be fucked.

“Well, I tried not to because I didn’t think I was, but the more he spanked me the more aroused I got.  I wanted him to fuck me so bad, I finally said I was a fucking slut and I wanted him to fuck me.  

“He didn’t though.  He laughed and said he didn’t fuck sluts but he would take pity on me and make me cum.  He put this vibrator in me and turned it on, and then kept slapping my ass and my boobs until I had an orgasm.

“He was really nice to me after that.  He pulled out the vibrator and untied me.  Then he asked if I felt better.

“It was a real shock, because I did.  I felt like all my stress was gone.  He smiled and said he worked with several men and women who had stressful jobs and needed the same kind of treatment to relax.

“After that, I went to see him every Saturday afternoon, and it helped me get through everything I was enduring.  When I changed jobs, Ann Arbor was too far to drive, so that same stress has been building up every day.  It wasn’t until you started talking back to me I started to get that feeling again.  That’s why I was scared.  Bosses and employees aren’t suppose to do things like that, but I wanted you to do what he did.”

“So you really meant what you said?”

She nodded.

“Uh-huh.  I know you won’t do it, but it’s what I need.”

Well, if any other woman had told me all this, I’d have thought she belonged in a straight jacket in a rubber room, but Mz. Masterson wasn’t any other woman.  She’d shown me part of her that I doubted she’d ever shown anybody else, and the way she told me made me believe her.  She hadn’t smiled like she was teasing me about tying her up.  She hadn't sounded like she was ashamed either.

She’d just told me what helped her like I figured any other woman would talk to her husband or boyfriend about sex.  Mz. Masterson’s idea of what she liked was just different.   She was a little odd, I thought, but Janice and Roxy had been pretty odd too.  I kind of liked odd, and I found myself being interested in how Mz. Masterson was odd.

“I’ve never done anything like that before.  How do you know I’d do it right?”

She looked up at me then, and her face looked hopeful.

“You do that for me?”

“I didn’t say I would.  I’m just asking how I’d know if I did it right or not.”

“All you have to do is tell me I’m a slut and tie me to the bed and spank me.  I’ll help you with the rest.”

I chuckled.

“That’s going to be hard to do since I don’t have any rope.”

She did smile then.

“I do.”

She walked over to her bag, opened it, and took out four, soft, white ropes.

“I brought these along just in case I could convince you.  Tim, if this isn’t something you want to do, I’ll understand, but just this once, could you help me be me?”

I still don’t know why I did what I did.  It was crazy and not like me at all.

“Mz. Masterson, you little fucking slut, strip and lay on the bed.”

She tried to look shocked, but I could see her smile.

“Oh, don’t make me do that, Tim.  I can’t be naked in front of you.  I’m your boss.”

I walked the few feet between us and slapped her on the ass hard.

“You heard me.  Now strip off those clothes and lay down.”

She winced a little and then pulled the top over her head and threw it on the floor.

“Not my bra too.  Don’t make me take off my bra.  I can’t let you see my breasts.”

“You can either take it off or I’ll rip it off.”

I thought she shivered a little then, but she took off her bra and then held her arms over her tits.

I was sort of winging it then.  I’d expected her to just strip and lay down because it seemed like that was what she wanted, but telling me no apparently was also something that turned her on.

“Show me your slut tits or you’ll be sorry.”

She let her arms drop then, and grinned.

“Tell me my tits are too little.”

“Yeah, they are too little.  I like big tits.”

I saw her nipples getting hard, and knew I was on the right track.

“Don’t let your nipples get hard.  They’re too little too.”

She touched her stiff nipples, shuddered, and then murmured, “I thought they were OK.”

I slapped her right breast pretty hard.

“No, they’re not, and don’t touch yourself.  If there’s gonna be any touching, I’m gonna do it.  Now get out of those pants before I slap your ass again.”

She grinned as she unbuttoned and unzipped her pants and then let them fall to the floor.  

“I don’t have to take my panties off, do I?”

I don’t know what gave me the idea.  It just popped into my head.

“No.  Now get your ass on the bed.”

She plopped down on the bed and spread her arms and legs.  I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, but I managed to get her tied to the bed by looping the rope around the bed legs.  She was grinning when I got up after tying the last one.

“Slap my breasts again.”

That was hard for me to do because she had beautiful breasts.  They weren’t too small either.  They sat in soft mounds on her chest and her nipples looked stiff as pencil erasers but a little bigger.  I sat down beside her and stroked her left nipple.  She caught her breath.

“Pinch me…hard.”

I pinched her nipple hard enough it got a little oval shaped instead of round.  She caught her breath again, and then murmured “harder”.  When I flattened her nipple between my thumb and forefinger, she moaned, “Oh fuck, that’s what I want.  Do the other one.”

I’d sort of figured out what she really wanted.

“Hell no, your nipples are too little to even get a good grip.”

I slapped her left breast then, not really hard, but hard enough it bounced away and then settled back down.  She gasped, “harder, a lot harder”.  My next slap left a pale pink imprint.  She gasped again, and I saw her lift her hips up a little so I slapped her right breast too.

“Again”, she murmured.

“No.  I’m done slapping your little tits and I’m done pinching your little nipples.”

“Oh my God.  What are you going to do to me next then.”

“I’m going to take off your panties.”

“Oh no, you can’t do that to me.”

“Yes I can, but I’m gonna to rip ‘em off your slut ass.”

She started to squirm when I grabbed the waistband of her thong, but there was no way she could get loose and stop me.  I yanked on the thin waistband and it broke on one side. I yanked again, the other side broke, and the whole thong slipped out from between her legs.

I hadn’t thought about whether she shaved or not.  She didn’t.  She was trimmed enough I hadn’t seen any stray hairs peeking out from her thong, but her bush was still pretty big.

“God, you little slut, your pussy is hairy as hell.”

She rocked her hips up a little and then moaned, “Tell me I need to shave my pussy”.

“Hell no.  You let that pussy hair grow and don’t trim it again.”

“Oh, I can’t do that.  If I do, it’ll show.”

“Yeah, and that’s what I want so that’s what you’re gonna do.  You’re gonna let that pussy hair grow until it’s long and thick so I can do this.”

I reached down between her thighs, pinched a little of the hair just above her bare lips, and pulled.  She yelped and tried to pull away, but that only pulled the hair harder.  She started to pant a little.

“If I do, you’ll just pull the hair on my pussy lips, won’t you?”

“Yeah, and I’ll pull hard enough your pussy opens up so I can see your tiny little clit and where you want my cock.”

I pulled her lips apart then.  Her clit wasn’t tiny.  It was all swelled up and glistening because she was wet as hell.  I saw her entrance sort of open up and push out, and then go back inside her.

I slapped her on the ass.  

“Stop that you fucking slut or I’ll beat your ass until my handprints show.”

She moaned softly and then said, “Tell me my ass is fat.”

I slapped her ass again.

“You like your fat ass slapped, don’t you?”

“Yes”, she panted.  It makes me want you to do more to me.”

I slapped her ass again.

“What do you want me to do to you, slut?”

“I want you to do me.”

I slapped her ass again, this time hard enough I left a hand print.

“I don’t know what the hell that means.  Tell me what you want.”

“I want you to fuck me.”

I slipped two fingers in her entrance and stroked them in and out hard enough her breasts jiggled.

“What do you want me to fuck you with…my fingers?”

She arched up off the bed a little and then moaned, “No…Fuck me with your cock.”

I rammed my fingers in and out a couple more times and smiled as her hips started to writhe.

“No, you don’t get my cock.  If I knock you up your fat ass will just get fatter and it’s too fat the way it is.”

She was starting to lift her pussy up into my strokes.  She couldn’t keep up, but she was trying.  She gasped then.

“I won’t get pregnant.  Fuck me with your cock until I cum.”

I know, I shouldn’t have done it.  I shouldn’t have started all that in the first place.  I was risking my job.  After watching her get more and more aroused though, I started getting aroused myself.  My cock was rock hard and I really did want to fuck her.

She caught her breath when I rubbed my cock head over her swollen clit, and she gasped when I pushed it inside her.  I thought she’d like me to go slow, but she didn’t want that.

“Dammit, I want to be fucked, not teased.”

I slapped her right breast hard.

“Watch your mouth, slut, or I’ll pull my cock out and leave you here tied to the bed.”

“Oh no…don’t do that.  I’m sorry I said it that way.  Just fuck me, please fuck me.”

In one stroke, I rammed my cock home.  If she hadn’t been as wet as she was, it would have probably hurt us both.  She gasped and arched up when my cock bottomed out, and then murmured, “Please fuck me and bite my nipples.”

With the other two women I’d had sex with, I’d had to pace myself.  With Mz. Masterson, I had to catch up.  As soon as my cock was in her, she stayed arched up and her legs started to quiver.  I felt her passage working my cock and then she started to pant hard.

“I need to cum so bad…Oh fuck, I’m almost there.  Don’t stop.”

A couple of minutes later, while I was pinching her right nipple between my teeth, she rolled her head to the side and tried to arch up even higher.  After one more stroke, she cried out and started rocking her pussy up and down over my cock.  There was no way to stop my self from cumming then.  I groaned and my cock throbbed three times as I came inside her.

She shook for a few more seconds, then sighed and eased back down on the bed.

“Mmmm, that was better than anything Mack used to do to me.”

When I untied her, she curled up in a ball, shuddered a couple of times and then stretched back out and patted the bed.  When I stretched out beside her, she stroked my chest.

“You probably think I’m crazy, don’t you?’

I shook my head.

“I’d say you’re just really interesting.”

“Are you sorry we did this?”

“No.  I just don’t know where we go from here.  I don’t think I can treat you the same way after this.”

“We can’t change at work, but we won’t always be at work.”

“Don’t you think other people will notice?”

“Not if we’re careful.”

“That going to be hard to do, for me at least.  Your tits are fabulous and your ass isn’t fat, and that’s what I’m going to remember every time I see you.”

“We just have to try hard at work, and then do this at night.”

“Well, Mz. Masterson, sometimes can we do it without the tying up and spanking.  That still feels weird to me.”

She stroked from my chest down to my cock.

“You have to call me Lori now.  That’s what I used to be called.  I don’t know.  I haven’t done it that way in a long, long time.  I suppose we could try it and see how it feels.”

Well, we went to our meeting the next morning, and the customer was happy enough he wanted samples to do vehicle testing.  A month later, that testing was done, and Exel Industries got a new contract to supply the self-adjuster.  The contract was at a lower price, but for more units, so the net profit was actually higher than before.  Ella was happy and gave us both a bonus.

It’s been hard to keep up the charade, but so far, we’ve managed to keep looking like we don’t like each other.  At her house or mine though, Lori changes from a bitch to a woman I don’t think I can give up.  I know Dave doesn’t suspect anything.  After the last time Lori chewed my ass, he looked at me and frowned.

“Why the hell do you keep letting her do that to you?”

I wanted to tell him that sometimes, things aren’t what you think, and what you think is a wolf is really a sheep in wolf’s clothing, but I didn’t.  I just smiled.

“Let’s just say I like a challenge, and if she’s nothing else, she is a challenge.”