VUA-Ch 4: The Maidens of Maxwell Paragon

Celeste grumbled as she passed through Paragon Industries security. The security wasn’t the issue though; after all, she had done it every day while working as a shipping manager. The issue was that she was being forced to hang onto Maxwell’s arm and smile vapidly like she was the secret villain’s arm candy. That and she could feel the eyes of every male crawl over her curves as her hips swayed from one side of the hallway to the other.

Not that she could blame them. As soon as the pair were out of earshot, the redhead muttered. “I’m going to kill you when this is all over, sir.”

“Mmm, I find that unlikely. And you’ve made that threat a lot.”

“Oh, you think it’s too extreme?”

“From your perspective? Not at all. I’m just saying it’s getting old. You could try to be a bit more creative. Makes things more amusing for me.”

“Bite me.”

Maxwell sighed. “Maybe I should order you to read a thesaurus. It would go a long way into upping your vocabulary. If you’re going to be a good minion you’ll need it. Lord knows you’ll have the spare time at your desk.”

They approached the back of the first floor, an area Celeste had never really visited when she was Daniel Erie. She was surprised to see another security checkpoint. This time the booth wasn’t manned by building security, but a man in a suit and sunglasses who was built like a freight train. “Good morning, boss.”

“Morning Rogers. What’s the report for the day?”

Rogers looked Celeste over, but not with lustful eyes of the other men. His glance seemed to size her up for any potential threats. “Not much. Someone tried to hack into the database records of our genetics facility.”

“Did they get anything?”

“No sir. As usual as soon as the network detected the threat, the servers disconnected themselves from the network. They weren’t even past the third firewall when the data was no longer there.”

“Any guesses who tried to hack in?”

“My guess is that it was just another attempt at corporate espionage. We tracked the signal to a cell phone tower in Nebraska but that’s obviously just a rerouted signal. Whoever did it is good at hiding his tracks. But that’s the third attempt this month. Whoever is trying to get that data sure is persistent.”

“Well, they’re bound to get impatient and slip up. Just keep having our tech guys monitor the situation and try to get a quicker response to the location.”

“Will do, sir. Now who is this?”

Maxwell grinned slyly. “This is my new girlfriend. She’ll be acting as my secretary as well.”

“Already? Mandi didn’t even last two months? Normally you at least give them that long.”

“Yes, well Mandi is old history now.”

The security officer raised an eyebrow, as if to say something. Whatever it was he decided against it and picked up a clipboard instead. “What is your name, ma’am?”

Celeste cringed. “Gabrielle Celeste Edenview.” Maxwell smiled.

“Age?”

“Twenty-two.”

“Date of birth.”

Maxwell coughed. “Rogers, this won’t be necessary.”

“Not necessary, sir? I have to do a background check. Not to impugn your judgment but there is still a chance she could be a spy from one of your competitors. She could…”

“Rogers, there is no need to worry about such things. I met her through my other business.”

Rogers’ eyes opened wide. “Oh, I see. Your other business. Well then, I’ll be sure to have her,” Rogers winked, “background check finished as fast as I can.” Other business? Had he let his security guard in on the fact that

“Excellent Rogers. Any other news for me?”

“Just one sir. Our shipping manager for the building hasn’t shown up for three days. We’ve received no word from him. We filed the missing person’s report but the police never found anything.” Celeste affixed her gaze to Rogers. Could this guy have figured out what was done to her?

“So some shipping manager is missing. What about it is a security risk?”

“His car never left the company parking lot. But we have no footage of him exiting the building after he clocked out. It’s like he simply vanished.”

“Hmm, that is strange.” Faded smirked at Celeste. “I assume you’re cooperating with the local authorities?”

“Yes, sir. My one question for you is would a shipping manager be of any use to some of our competitors? I mean, kidnapping would be a pretty extreme measure for anyone to go if they wanted company secrets, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t leave every possibility open.”

“Hmm…” Maxwell bit his bottom lip, seemingly lost in thought. “I can’t think of anything that he would have known. He’s just a shipping manager; he makes sure what we order gets where it’s supposed to go and makes sure those who order from us get what they paid for. Can’t think he’d be a target of anything.”

“Probably not, sir. You don’t think this would have anything to do with your other business, do you?”

“Definitely not, Rogers. If someone knew what I did in my spare time and wanted to get to me they’d go after something more worthwhile then some spare shipping manager.” Maxwell glanced over at Celeste to make sure he got the desired reaction. Her fists were clenched tight and a vein on her temples was threatening to pop. Pleased with the results, Maxwell continued, “So I think we can rule out that possibility.”

“A fair point, sir. We’ll stay on it and keep you appraised of any news, Mr. Paragon.”

“Thank you, Rogers.” He turned towards the Come on, Celeste. Let’s show you to your new desk. It’s just perfect for sexy, little secretaries like you.”

The former hero donned on her fakest smile as they walked onto Maxwell Maxwell‘s personal elevator. “Oh joy.”

As the doors shut, the villain stroked his chin. “Hmm, the cops are making inquiries about your disappearance. That could be problematic since you disappeared without ever taking your car. I should’ve thought about that.”

The elevator lurched a little and began its ascent. It was the redhead‘s turn to smirk. “Guess you didn’t think of everything.”

“Admittedly, small details like that aren’t my strength. This could prove to be a problem. If the cops start asking too many questions they might figure out that you were a superhero. Then it gets complicated from there. Hmm, this is going to take some careful thought.”

Celeste nodded, her face betraying a smug demeanor. So the famed Maxwell Paragon could make a mistake. It wasn’t much but it was more than what she had been given the past few days. It made sense… he could overlook small details so he always surrounded himself with competent business professionals. But as a villain he couldn’t do that. There had to be a way out of this.

“So your security guy knows you’re a super villain?”

“What? Of course not!”

“But he kept talking about your other business. By the way, with both of you putting so much emphases on your other business, everybody in earshot would know you’re up to something.”

Maxwell scoffed. “What he knows about that I help heroes like Cirquette on the side. He thinks that is my other business. You think I’m so careless as to allow a detail like the fact I’m a super-villain slip? I may forget small details, but I don’t let big ones slip.”

The elevator doors opened. “Good moooooorning, Maxie-poooooo. So glad to see you finally come in for work! How have you…” Celeste looked up and saw an attractive blonde girl in her early twenties sitting on top of a desk with her legs crossed. The girl’s eyes narrowed on Celeste as if she was her mortal enemy. “Maxie… who is this?”

Celeste watched in confusion as the color left Maxwell’s face. “Mandi! Uh, what are you doing here?”

“Ohhh.” Celeste remembered Rogers mentioning a Mandi. She must have been his last girlfriend/secretary. “So is this another small detail you forgot to take care of, Maxie?”

The villain-in-disguise shot his new secretary a peeved glance before stepping towards the blonde. “Mandi, I… did you not get my email?”

She pushed herself off the desk and stared death into his eyes. “Email? You didn’t send me any email! What is going on?”

“Oh, uh, no email, huh? Must have slipped my mind.”

“WHO is that GIRL, Maxie?”

“Well, you see…” Celeste chuckled to herself as she watched her captor squirm. How could he have actually forgotten to break up with his old girlfriend when he was custom building a new one? Not that he could blame him for wanting to break up with this Mandi; she was a gorgeous girl but her speech, dress, and body language all screamed “high-maintenance.” Still, it was fun to watch the mighty Dr. Faded tremble before the might of the gold digging ex-girlfriend.

“You can’t just do this to me! Have you even considered what all my friends are going to think? And what about that charity dinner next week! I just bought a new dress for it! You going to pay for that?”

Maxwell inserted his foot into his mouth. “I already have paid for it. I’ve been paying you several times more what you’re worth as a secretary.”

SMACK! Mandi swiped her right palm across the billionaire’s face. Celeste felt a tinge of jealousy as she had been wanting to do something similar to his face with her fist ever since meeting him. “You asshole!”

Mandi snatched her purse off the desk and flounced past Maxwell. She paused for a moment as she passed Celeste. She raised her right hand briefly as if she was about to try and slap her replacement. Celeste gave her a cautionary glare. “Don’t even think about it, Barbie.”

Mandi snorted, “Tramp!” She huffed her way to the elevator. As the doors shut, she gave her best hateful pout just to be sure the villain and his new minion knew how much she’d never forgive them.

Celeste erupted into a fit of laughter. “That was great! Most fun I’ve had in days. When can we do that again?”

Maxwell nursed his red cheek. “That didn’t go as well as I hoped.”

“Gee, can’t understand why she slapped you so hard. You only said she was worthless.”

“No, I just said that she wasn’t worth as much as I was paying her.”

“You know, I can see why you hire business professionals and don’t do press conferences that often. You’d have every person in the city wanting to sock you in the face if they just heard you open your mouth this often.”

The villain stopped rubbing his cheek, revealing a palm-shaped mark across his face. “Oh yeah? If you’re so smart what would you have done?”

“What would I have done? I would have made sure to break up with my old girlfriend before I brought in my new one. How could you forget that?”

“I’ve kind of been busy making sure your transformation didn’t have any complications.”

“Just seems like a big detail to gloss over, genius.” She smiled. She couldn’t call him insulting words, but he didn’t say anything about her saying them sarcastically.

Maxwell grumbled, straightened his tie, then pointed to the secretarial desk. “Well you know what, Celeste? That is your new desk. The desk for my secretary. Which is you.”

“Who’s redundant now?”

He cleared his throat, trying to ignore the fact that she had just turned his normal criticism of her around on him. “Furthermore, those are my files. I keep all my patent information in them as well as files on current projects I am collaborating with others on. I keep it all in paper form since computers can be hacked. Most of your job will be fetching me the documents I ask for. Other than that, feel free to just goof off on your computer. I’ll have some training you’ll have to do to make yourself a better girlfriend but I have yet to fully develop the regimen I want. So for today you’ll be free as long as I don’t have a task for you.”

Celeste yawned. “Guess today will be as mentally stimulating as this conversation then.”

“Ooo, you’re really cute right now. Guess what?”

“What?”

“Go fetch me my coffee. You’ll find my cup on my desk in my office.” He pointed to the large doors that were behind her own desk. “That’s my office in there. So go get my cup, clean it out, and get me my coffee the way that I like it.”

Celeste rolled her eyes. She should’ve known better than go straight for his ego. Now he was bitter. “Geez, someone is being spiteful.”

He folded his arms defiantly. “I’m not being spiteful. It’s just that you… okay, yeah, I’m being spiteful. But you are my minion now so I’ll justify this as not letting you get out of your place as my sexy minion.”

Celeste shook her head and moved past him. She opened the doors to his office. It was quite spacious, with a window that allowed him an even better view of the city than his penthouse. Being fifty-five stories in the air certainly had it‘s benefits. Celeste found the coffee mug in question. As she picked it up she read the words printed on it out loud. “World’s sexiest boss? Seriously? World’s sexiest boss? Tell me this is a joke.“

Maxwell shrugged. “I’ve never accused my ex-girlfriends of being the brightest. Most of them have just been socialites looking to hit it big with a billionaire like myself. I think it was– I think Vivian was her name. The one that gave that mug to me, I mean. I think she was trying to endear herself more to me or something. I didn‘t really understand it myself. But it is a fun mug to have. Now go clean that thing out and get me my coffee the way I like it.”

She didn‘t want to do it, but again she felt the need to do it. She cursed the babe-chip on the back of her neck and sauntered towards the coffee machine. “And how exactly do you like your coffee, sir.”

“Two creams and six sugars.”

“Six sugars? Geez, indulge yourself much?”

“Hey, I don’t have many vices. I’m afforded one or two.” Celeste put a hand on her hip and made sure to give her most disbelieving look she could. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I‘m a villain. Your point is well made. So one or two health vices. I eat pretty well otherwise.” Celeste shook her head as she scooped the lumps of sugar and cream into the mug. “And when you stir it, be sure to stir it nice and slow so I can watch your hips sway.” Maxwell smirked mischievously.

“Uh,” the blue-haired bombshell looked up at the ceiling, as if confirming her thoughts before she said them, “I’m pretty sure your hips don’t wiggle when you stir something. I mean, I’m not an expert or anything, but unless the female anatomy is radically different than male anatomy, I’m pretty sure the motion of my wrist isn’t tied to my hips at all.” She stirred his coffee slowly, confirming that her hips didn’t move due to any stirring motion. “You’re just making up your lines as you go, aren’t you?”

He sighed. “I had this a lot more planned out before. But the thing with Mandi really threw me out of my rhythm. I promise I’m normally more clever than this.”

“Yes, I’m sure you are.“ Celeste handed him his coffee. “Here is your overly-sugared coffee in your stupid mug, Maxie.”

He took a sip and she could see his body relax a bit. “Okay, so if you’re going to be my secretary you’ll need a few things. First you’ll need to get your new security clearance card. Just take the elevator down to Rogers and he’ll take care of that… come to think of it he would have known Mandi was already up here. Why didn’t he tell me?”

“Maybe he was just as entertained by the fact you forgot as I was.”

He grumbled. “Going to have to talk to Rogers directly on that one. Anyway, go down to him and get your security card made. Next go to the IT department. Find Cindy and have her take your fingerprints.”

“Fingerprints? That sounds more like security to me.”

He smiled as he took another sip. “No, the fingerprints was Cindy’s idea when she was my secretary. I had a lot of sensitive stuff up in my office so she suggested that all computers and files should have to be opened and logged into via fingerprint and voice recognition.”

“Wait, wait, wait.” Celeste held her hands up in surprise. “One of your former girlfriends is still working for you? I thought you dumped them all on the street as soon as you grew bored with them.”

Maxwell smiled sheepishly. “Cindy was different. She was my girlfriend before I made my first billion. She was a gold digger, sure, but she was still a smart girl. She had good ideas and helped balance out the fact I missed details every once in a while. Not to mention I’ve never seen a woman who can type faster than her.”

“Well if she was such a good secretary why did you get rid of her?”

“Eh, the relationship went bad. She started demanding commitment in the relationship. What she really wanted was a ring on her finger so she could dig her nails into my burgeoning bank account. So I got rid of her. Didn’t matter how good a secretary she was; once a relationship sours like that you can’t work together every day. It is just too awkward.”

“I see… so why did you hire her back then?”

“Oh, as I said she was very capable to begin with. Plus, after her and I separated she decided to apply herself. She went to college, graduated, and stopped being a gold digger. The company was growing and we needed more technical writers, she was more than capable, so HR hired her without me even knowing. Worked out really well for her too. She got promoted a few times and got the fingerprint and voice recognition system in place. So now she’s in charge of managing that for the company and worldwide. Not an easy task.”

Celeste chuckled. “Sounds like you still harbor a thing for her.”

Maxwell waved his new secretary off. “Cindy’s a good girl. Even if I still harbored feelings for her I wouldn’t get involved with her again. I have a reputation to uphold. Cindy and I were together before I had that relationship. I wouldn’t want everyone to think she was some floozy who treated me to romps in my office.”

“Oh, and I see we have no problem letting people think that of me.”

He smirked and waltzed into his office. “Now you’re getting it, sugar-lips. So get shimmy downstairs and get to work. You’re wasting daylight.”

She groaned and turned towards the elevator. “Wouldn’t that just be a shame.”

* – * – *

Celeste sighed as all the geeks in IT let their jaws hit the floor as she walked in. Not quite sure where to go, she asked a guy who was more than willing to help direct her to the office she was looking for. “Thanks for the help.”

“Hey, no problem. So, uh, you new here or…”

“Thank you.”

“Oh, uh… pleasure to meet you.” He scurried off.

She sighed, leaned back, and then filed a complaint to the heavens. “This is already getting old.” She returned her gaze to the door. “Cindy Westing. Let’s see what you’re all about.” She rapped on the door three times.

“Come in.”

What Celeste had expected to see behind the door was an attractive woman. After all, she had been a girlfriend of Maxwell Paragon and Paragon’s girlfriends were always beautiful. She expected to see a woman with good fashion sense, because Paragon’s girlfriends always seemed to dress in the latest fashions. And she expected to see a woman who looked like she knew what she was doing, because Maxwell Paragon had spoken so highly of her.

The woman behind the door fit all the things that Celeste expected… except for the fact she was wearing a large metallic helmet on her head. “Hello who might… oh wow! Look at you! You must be Maxwell’s new secretary everyone is talking about.”

Celeste blinked a few times scratched her head. “Uh, yeah. How did you know?”

Cindy laughed. “This building may be big, but girl, rumors travel fast. When Maxwell walks in with a new girl on his arm, especially one as stunning as you, the rumors fly fast. Then that blonde girl stormed out of his office in a huff, making a huge scene. Plus, what were the odds there was another gorgeous blue-haired girl that was going to walk through my door today?”

Celeste scratched her elbow nervously. “Uh, thanks I guess.”

“So, what’s your name?”

“Celeste.” She take her eyes off of the strange helmet Cindy wore. Celeste could see her own reflection in it’s polished surface. A low hum seemed to be emanating from the headgear.

“Cute name.” The helmeted girl’s fingers flew over her keyboard as she conversed. “So I assume you’re here to get your fingerprints and voice recognition digitized so you can get into your computer and file cabinets?”

“Uh, yeah. That’s why I’m… okay, I’m sorry. I’m just getting incredibly distracted by that thing on your head. I don’t want to be rude but… what is it?”

Cindy stopped typing and chuckled. “Oh this, man I forgot I was wearing it.” She reached behind her head and flipped some switch on it. The hum stopped and Cindy undid the chin strap. She very carefully removed the helmet, her brown hair spilling out. She rubbed her neck with a wince. “You start wearing it long enough you forget it’s there. But you sure don’t forget after you take it off. An extra fifteen pounds on your head really strains your neck. I wouldn’t be doing it if Maxwell didn’t agree to pay for massage sessions.”

“Uh,” Celeste scratched her head, “so what exactly is that thing?”

Cindy shrugged while standing up. “Some project Maxwell is teaming up with Hasmon University’s neuroscience research team on. The helmet is called NORI or something like that.”

Celeste rolled her eyes and leaned against the wall. “Let me guess, it’s an acronym.”

Cindy threw her head back and let loose a really hard laugh. “You’ve already noticed his acronym fascination? I’m impressed. Most of his girls don’t get involved enough in his projects to even notice.”

Celeste smirked. “You’d be surprised how involved I am.”

“I already am.”

“So what exactly is this NORI supposed to do?”

“Some brain scan thing. I guess Hasmon University started this project where they wanted to get a better idea of how the brain works when you’re actually doing stuff as opposed to just sitting in some kind of test chamber. So they wanted to build a portable brain scanner thing but had problems with the tools. Maxwell somehow got wind of it and helped them out. This is one of two models they built. The Hasmon research guys are testing it on students and stuff while Maxwell is using his connections to get the brain scans of… well typically famous people.”

“Famous people?”

“Yeah. I mean somebody as rich as him has connections and he decided he wanted to scan the best doing their best. That’s the theory anyway. He got some Hollywood make-up artist who is considered one of the best to wear it while he did his work. You know Adelina Medeiros?

“The supermodel?”

“Yup, got her to do wear it while she was working the catwalk, walking around, and such. Guess he wanted some excuse to find out what brainwaves go on when a model walks. Then again if she‘s anything like most models, I’m willing to bet that the brain scan looked a lot like a kitten playing with a ball of yarn.”

It was Celeste’s turn to laugh. She was getting to like this girl. “I was thinking more the inside of a magic eight ball. So any other famous people I know use this helmet?”

“Well you know Zara Venus, right?”

Celeste stuck her tongue out, remembering being forced to listen to her music during her shower. “Yeah, I hate her music.”

“Really? I like it. It’s a little sappy but it’s got a good beat and she’s got a great voice.”

“Great voice, crappy music.”

Cindy smiled. “Anyway I guess he was able to get her to wear it during her voice recording and dance sessions. It’s no small commitment, either. In order to get a good scan you apparently have to be wearing it for a good thirty hours doing similar activities. I think I’m somewhere around twenty hours now. I have probably about another week of wearing it before it goes to the next person.”

“Well, not that I am the most well versed in popular culture, but you’re not exactly the most household name. If he’s making sure the Adelina Medeiroses and Zara Venuses wear the helmet, where do you come in?”

The brunette waved her off. “Maxwell said he wanted to get a scan of someone who could type really fast and I was the fastest typist he knew.”

Celeste tapped her chin. Make-up artist. Supermodel. Singer and dancer. Typist? “Why would he want a typist? Just seems like it fits the pattern.”

“Eh, I don’t know, Celeste. I gave up on trying to figure that man out many years ago.” She smirked. “You’re his girlfriend now; figuring him out is your problem now, missy.”

Celeste yawned. “Oh joy.”




9 thoughts on “VUA-Ch 4: The Maidens of Maxwell Paragon”

  1. Sounds like we know how he get’s the knowledge in Celeste’s head, I wonder if she’s going to do anything with that knowledge?Like think of ways to get him to wear it or something similar while he’s being all ‘Evil Genius’ so she can become smart enough to work on a way out of this with her new found intelligence…assuming his intelligence is all that get’s transferred. Mwaha-hahahah.

  2. Nice one TaraLynn! I think Robert has hit the hammer with the nail. He’s using all of these people to record programming for her. I don’t thing Celeste is going to be able to influence that process, however Maxwell isn’t taking in to account other skills Celeste might’ve had nor possible unknown skills all these “Famous” people might have. Hmmm… just a small detail huh? 🙂

    Great Chapter!
    GRover

  3. Ooh, I smell foreshadowing! Could this mysterious hacker cause trouble in the future? Have we seen the last of Mandi? Does Cindy have other unknown talents? And where, oh WHERE, is Waldo?

    Get the answers to all these questions and more in the next thrilling installment of DragonBa- er, I mean, of the Villains’ Union of America!

  4. Tara, you missed the end of a sentence “Had he let his security guard in on the fact that”. Also I think that one times the word “relationship” should be “reputation”. Otherwise I’ve come to the same conclusion as Robert – it is the thing a real villain would be doing! Can’t wait for Celeste’s first singing session. 😀

  5. Robert has the right idea, looks like our good doctor is trying to create the super secretary and not just his helper. I wonder who else the doc plans on taking skills from.

  6. Actually after rereading chapter 3 I think we have already seen the makeup artist, and our model brain tapes in action. Celeste used her makeup flawlessly and couldn’t help doing that cat-walk strut. I don’t think we’ve seen the dancing and singing yet and of course the typing is in the works.

    Grover

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