One Year Later
Allison Davis stared through the dim early morning light at the ceiling and the whirling blades of the fan above her bed. She was nude, as always, and there were no blankets or sheets on the bed to cover her, as always. She glanced over at the digital clock next her bed. It was 4:05 am. She knew she wouldn’t be getting any more sleep that night. Today was a big day; the biggest of her life.
Allison sat up on the side of the bed and stretched her arms into the air and rolled her neck to help loosen stiff muscles. In the corner of the room she saw the small glowing red light of the camera on the wall and knew she was being watched. As always. How many were watching right now? She was always amazed at how many people would be watching her even at this time of the morning. And today was a special day so she guessed her audience would probably be larger than normal, maybe even much larger.
Allison got up and padded across the room to her desk. She yawned and stretched some more while she waited as the computer booted up, then sat down and clicked open her web browser and navigated to her website: Naked Allison. That was the very un-inventive name that her Uncle Tony had given it, not that it required a terribly clever name to market it once her story had gone public.
She opened up the live webcam and saw herself sitting in all her glory at her desk. Tony had spared no expense in buying top-of-the line digital equipment so the infrared camera provided a high quality view of her even in the dark. She glanced down at the counter and saw that there were nearly 5000 people logged on to her site right now watching the live feed; ten times the normal number for this time of night. Enjoy the show, boys and girls, she thought to herself. This is the last day.
The website was Tony’s idea, of course. He’d started it as soon as she’d graduated from college and had begun working under his control at Compton Enterprises. His plan was to give the world a naked Allison 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There were cameras in her house, cameras in her car, cameras in her office, all constantly streaming high quality video to her growing base of fans. And whenever she went to meetings or into the city on assignments or to meet clients or shopping or to the beach or even to her family’s home for Thanksgiving dinner there was always someone tagging along with a video camera to record the fun. This was his idea of breaking her, of making her quit and give up her inheritance. But it hadn’t worked; she hadn’t broken. And today the year was up and she’d beaten him, and she’d beaten her dear, departed grandfather at his own perverted game. She watched as a smile broke out on the face of the naked girl on her monitor.
It hadn’t been easy, though. God, no. The worst part had been at the beginning when she’d suddenly been thrust into living a fully nude and very public lifestyle…something she’d never have dreamed of doing before. She almost hadn’t made it past the first 24 hours. And then there was that almost unbearable first day back at college, and the day that Tony had broken her story to the media, and her graduation day, and the first day of work at Compton Enterprises, and her first nude trip nude into the city to meet with clients. There were many times in the first few weeks where she’d almost quit and there were many, many times that she’d broken into tears. But she hadn’t given up, and now there was a sense of pride in having achieved her goal when she couldn’t have imagined how she would accomplish it that first day.
Things had become easier for her over time, but never easy. There was never a moment when she wasn’t aware of her nudity or the looks and stares and eyes roaming over her body. Being constantly nude in front of friends, family, co-workers, and strangers when everyone else was fully clothed was something she’d never gotten used to and probably never would. But she’d learned to handle it.
And the feelings of arousal that public nudity stirred in her had never gone away either, although the intensity waxed and waned depending on the situation. Usually it was kind of a low-level buzz that she had to admit she’d miss when this was all over. Sometimes, though, it went beyond that and she knew that the unmistakable signs of arousal had to be apparent to onlookers. And several times it had spilled over the edge into a public orgasm, much to her humiliation. Allison had learned a lot about herself over the past year, and one of the things she’d learned was that there was something buried in her subconscious that got off on public nudity no matter what her conscious mind thought of it. They were the same feelings that Rebecca had described in her diary so Allison knew that she’d inherited more than just her grandmother’s looks.
Allison scrolled through the links to the many videos posted on her website and selected the graduation video: a favorite among her fans. She watched again as rows of graduating students sat listening to the commencement speech; all of them robed in caps and gowns with one very obvious exception. She was struck again by the high quality of the video as she watched herself squirm in her seat, her very naked nipples standing erect. She remembered that night very, very well and how she’d fought against the intense feelings of arousal building inside her as she sat nude among her fellow graduating classmates. It was a battle that she’d finally lost, which had been all-too apparent to those around her…and anyone watching this video. And lots and lots of people had watched this video.
Allison clicked on the link to that first interview with the local news after Tony had leaked the story to them about the terms of the inheritance. Her naughty bits had been pixilated in that original broadcast, of course. No, you couldn’t show naked tits-and-ass on the local news, although they had no qualms about titillating viewers with the story of a young co-ed living in the nude for a full year in order gain a large inheritance. Tony had gotten his hands on the uncensored version of the interview which was what was now posted on the website. They’d called the story “Naked Ambition.” Clever.
It was only a matter of hours after that story appeared on the local news that it was all over the internet and within days Allison Davis became the most requested name on search engines. By that time there were already plenty of nude photos of her posted on various sites by her fellow students at Wildwood College who had been secretly, and not-so-secretly, taking pictures of her around campus. The shock of Tony’s announcement that she’d be videoed 24/7 for Naked Allison had been lessened somewhat because there were already tons of nude photos of her floating around the internet by then anyway. Her uncle had probably out-smarted himself when he’d leaked her story to the media.
Of course, the national and international media hadn’t been far behind the internet in picking up the story. And why wouldn’t they? It was a story about greed, money, power, and perversion involving a beautiful, naked young woman. What wasn’t to like? It didn’t take long for the media hordes to descend upon Allison, and Tony had ordered her to make herself fully available for interviews. American newspapers and television broadcasts were usually careful about editing her image but the European media hadn’t been shy about showing skin. And then there’d been the interview with the Naked News where the reporter hadn’t been wearing a stitch of clothing either. For awhile there, even David Letterman and Jay Leno were cracking jokes about her on a regular basis. God, was there anyone left who hadn’t seen her naked by now? Maybe some tribesmen in Borneo. Maybe.
The media circus had subsided somewhat over time but it had picked up again recently as the end of her naked year approached. And since that was today she expected to see more than a few TV cameras and microphones around.
Allison clicked the web browser closed and sat back in her chair with her eyes closed. What a long, strange trip it’s been, she thought. Thank God it’s almost over.
Allison crawled back onto the bed, spread her legs, and let her fingers walk down her stomach to her clit, fully aware that she had an audience. She’d made a conscious decision not to take a lover during this year because of the constant invasion of her privacy by cameras, and had even tried for awhile to resist pleasuring herself. But she had finally lost that battle many months ago. “This is it guys”, she said silently to her unseen audience as a moan escaped from her lips. “The cameras are coming down tonight.”
The Final Day Begins
Allison locked the front door of the her house and began the walk to her car in the driveway. The house and the car were provided by Compton Enterprises as part of her pay. (And not so incidentally, as the set for Naked Allison.)
As expected, there was a crowd of reporters and cameras outside. “Allison, how does it feel knowing you’re going a rich woman soon.” a male reporter called out.
“Great,” she replied as she kept walking toward the car.
“Are you going to put on some clothes today.”
“God, yes!” Allison replied.
“Dammit, that’s a shame,” another man said to scattered laughter. Allison unlocked the car door and began to climb in when the less friendly voice of a female reporter shouted out to her.
“Do you feel like you’ve prostituted yourself by doing this for money?”
A flash of anger came over Allison and she stood back up to address the reporter. “Hell, no, I haven’t prostituted myself. I haven’t slept with anyone for this money.”
“No, you’ve just had thousands of guys whacking off over you on the internet. And now you think you’re qualified to run a multi-million dollar company?”
“I haven’t done anything wrong…anything illegal,” Allison sputtered. She was going to say more but thought better of it and crawled into the car and started the engine. “Bitch,” she muttered under her breath and then tried to calm herself. This wasn’t like her, but this past year had taken its toll. Her situation had been the topic of national conversation and, when asked if they would go naked for a year to gain a large inheritance, a surprisingly large number of people had said “Hell yes!” But she had her fair share of criticism, too, mostly from feminists who thought what she was doing was demeaning, or from evangelical Christians who thought it was immoral. When she was out in public she got various reactions from people when they encountered her, but they were mostly positive. She did get angry or negative reactions at times, though, and it always bothered her when it happened. It was going to feel good to get back to being a normal person after today. A very wealthy and fully clothed normal person!
Allison glanced at the outside temperature on her dashboard and saw that it was 75 degrees. She sighed and pushed the button to open the convertible roof. She had standing orders from Tony to drive with the top down whenever weather permitted and today was a beautiful sunny spring day. She wasn’t going to risk disobeying an order on her last day under his thumb. By this afternoon she’d be his boss, if she decided to keep him on. “Maybe I’ll make him work naked,' she said to herself. A had a wicked grin until the mental image came into her mind. “Ugh, I wouldn’t wish that on the world. Most of my employees would quit.”
Allison wasn’t worried about being stopped by the police for driving nude through town. She’d been doing it for a year now and because of the state Supreme Court’s very liberal ruling about freedom of expression rights it was technically legal to be nude in public. But that didn’t mean there were lots of people out running around town naked, at least not to the extent she was. Yeah, there were the occasional public flashes and streaks and dares, but she didn’t know of anyone else living a totally nude lifestyle out in public. Even nudists kept primarily to designated clothing optional areas. Being the only naked person in a clothed world was nerve wracking and Tony had made sure to get her out of the office and around town, and even other parts of the state, as much as possible.
And even though it was legal for her to be nude in public places, private business establishments could set their own standards and prevent Allison from entering. No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service. Or, in her case, no bra or panties either. After awhile she’d learned which bars, restaurants, and grocery stores would allow her in and which wouldn’t. She was able to establish some semblance of a life outside of work or under the constant eye of the cameras at home, although Tony frequently had someone around with a camera in those places, too.
She’d even found a bowling alley that would not only let her bowl naked but waived the requirement to wear shoes. The last time she went bowling it had been with her friends Katie and Melissa and it had been the shy Melissa who’d flashed to her boobs to the camera after rolling a strike. Katie, despite her usual smart-ass braggadocio, had kept her clothes on.
The sun and the warm breeze felt good on her bare skin as she drove, and Allison wondered whether this would be her last naked car ride. Tony had control over her until 2:35 pm today so he might have her go out for one last bit of public humiliation, but she couldn’t imagine that he had a last minute Hail Mary plan up his sleeve that she couldn’t handle. He’d been looking like a beaten man for some time now.
Allison pulled into the employee parking lot of Compton Enterprises and shut off the engine. She stared out the car window at the 16-story building and remembered her first day of work here. She’d sat here crying and shaking for some time before finally working up the courage to walk into the building in the nude. She’d done it many times since and it had never stopped feeling totally bizarre to her, but she was no longer reduced to a puddle of tears by the prospect of it. “One last time, Allie,” she said to herself as she grabbed her briefcase and headed for the entrance. A few TV cameras and reporters were stationed outside the door but she just smiled and politely declined to answer questions as she entered the lobby.
“Hello, Ms. Davis.” It was the security guard at the security station.
“Big day. You made it. Congratulations.”
“Thanks.” Allison saw Tina, Mariana Perez’s secretary, scuttling across the lobby towards her. “Ms. Davis, Mariana would like you to meet with her in her office today at 2 o’clock this afternoon,” she said. “She’d like to talk to you before she gives you your clothes.”
“Okay. Did she say why?”
Under the terms of the inheritance Allison would be allowed to get dressed today after 2:35 pm, but Mariana had suggested last week that the meeting to sign all the paperwork be held tomorrow morning. After Allison’s lawyer assured her that it was safe to wait to sign the paperwork she leaped at the offer since it would allow her to be dressed in front of all the friends, family, and co-workers who’d be attending.
“No,” Tina replied. “But she wanted me to tell you as soon as you arrived.”
“Okay, thanks, Tina. Tell her I’ll be there.”
“Oh, and congratulations,” she said with a smile. “I was pulling for you. We all were.”
“Thanks. You’re not just saying that to suck up to the new boss are you?”
“No,” Tina laughed. “Well, maybe a little. Nobody wanted Tony to be boss, though.”
“Speak of the devil, there he is,” Allison said as she spotted her Uncle Tony across the lobby.
Allison walked across the lobby to where Tony was standing. “Heya, uncle. Nice day, huh? Got any plans or assignments for me?”
Tony was looking haggard and beaten, but even in that state he couldn’t help but run his eyes up and down Allison’s nude body in a way that made her skin crawl. “Fuck you, bitch,” he mumbled and walked away. Allison couldn’t help but laugh as she watched him walk away. It was over. She’d won.
Allison spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon in her office trying to keep busy, but mostly staring at the clock waiting for the magic moment to arrive. Various managers and employees stopped by throughout the day to congratulate her. She also suspected that some of the men wanted one last look at their naked boss-to-be before she disappeared forever back into clothing. She had lunch delivered to her office but could barely eat it at as she excitedly waited for her meeting with Mariana Perez to finalize the inheritance. At one point she even smiled and waved giddily to her unseen audience watching her through the cameras mounted in the office.
At ten minutes to two she strode out of her office toward the elevator…her last nude walk through the Compton Building. When she arrived at the office, Tina smiled and waved her in. Allison strode into the office and closed the door behind her. The office was empty but she guessed that Mariana was in an adjoining office.
Allison paced nervously around the office remembering the first time she’d been here, exactly one year ago today. It was here that Allison and her family had first heard, with great excitement, the wealth that was being offered to them in Arthur Compton’s will only to have it dashed minutes later by the almost unthinkable conditions attached to it. It felt like a lifetime ago now. Allison looked up at the clock. Only thirty minutes to go now. It seemed almost unbelievable that this day had finally come. Her heart thumped in her chest like it was going to explode!
She walked over to the window and stared down at the cars and people in the street below. Behind her a door opened and she heard the sound of footsteps. Before she could turn around an oddly familiar male voice spoke her name.
Allison turned and stared dumbfounded at the figure at the other end of the office. Standing before her, very much alive and breathing, was her grandfather Arthur Compton.
Back From the Grave
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost, granddaughter,” Arthur Compton chuckled.
Allison stared wordlessly at the man whose funeral she’d attended a year ago. The man she saw now looked much different than the thin, weak, sickly old man she’d seen in the video at the reading of the will. The Arthur Compton before her now had regained the healthy vigor that she’d remembered from the past. The hair had grown back, although it was greyer, and he’d grown a full beard that made him look something like the pictures she’d seen of Ernest Hemingway. He’d also regained the weight he’d lost and his skin had a healthy tan. He looked almost nothing like the tired old man she’d seen near death in the video, but there was no question in her mind that this was her grandfather standing before her.
“Try and contain the unbridled joy at seeing your dear old granddad still among the living, dear,” Compton laughed. He pointed to a pair of leather chairs in a corner of the office. “Have a seat, Allie. I think we need to talk.”
Allison finally regained her composure enough to walk over and sit down in one of the chairs. She self-consciously covered her breasts with her arm as Arthur sat in the other chair just a few feet away. “No need for that, dear,” he said. “I’ve been a faithful subscriber to the Naked Allison website since the beginning. I’ve seen it all.”
Allison dropped her arms to her side and finally found her voice. “So this has all been just a scam all along? Your illness and death?”
“No, the illness was very real. I did have cancer and I wasn’t expecting to survive it when I made that videotape you watched here last year. But the chemotherapy worked, although it was pure hell going through it, and the cancer went into remission.”
“So why fake your death?”
“Well, to be honest, I liked the idea of you spending a year in the nude in order to gain the inheritance when I first thought of it and I liked it even better when I knew I’d have the opportunity to be around to see it,” Arthur replied. “I didn’t see any reason to let a minor technicality like not being dead stand in the way of the reading of the will.”
Allison thought back to her conversation with Katie about why Compton would have waited until his death to do this. Katie had said she thought “...the old nut would’ve wanted a ringside seat for this.” It turns out the old nut DID have a ringside seat for this.
“I needed time off anyway,” Compton continued, “to rest and regain my health without being hassled by shareholders, or the Board of Directors, or management, or Tony. I just knew that if they thought I was still alive and kicking they’d never let me be.”
“So Tony didn’t know you were still alive?”
“Oh hell no. He’d be the last person I’d let in on the secret. Mariana Perez knew about it and so did a couple of my most trusted senior executives, but that’s it. Oh, and my doctor was well paid to keep his mouth shut.”
“So where’ve you been for the past year anyway?” Allison asked.
“I’ve got a lovely little villa on the coast of Costa Rica, right on the ocean. No one knows me there so it was an ideal spot for recovering my strength without being bothered. The recuperative powers of the sun and a daily swim are truly amazing.”
“So you’re healthy now?” Allison asked. “The cancer’s gone?”
“It’s in remission and hopefully will stay that way. And I feel as strong and energetic now as I did twenty years ago. Maybe even stronger.”
Allison’s head was spinning. This turn of events was so shocking and unexpected that she hadn’t yet been able to think things through clearly. She was terribly confused about what she was feeling right now. In a way she was happy to see her grandfather again and realized now that she didn’t really hate him. Over the past eleven months of working for Compton Enterprises she’d even gained a kind of grudging admiration and respect for what Arthur had been able to build here, almost from scratch, in the course of his lifetime.
“So what now?” she asked.” “Are you coming back to this country permanently? Are you coming back to work?”
“I don’t know yet,” he replied. “That’s what you and I need to discuss.”
Suddenly an alarming thought entered Allison’s mind. “You are going to comply with the terms of the will aren’t you? I am going to get the inheritance, aren’t I?”
“Of course,” Arthur Compton replied. “It’s a legally binding document. If you ever do comply with the terms of the will you’ll receive the inheritance.”
Allison looked up at the clock. “I’ll have complied with the terms of the will in fifteen minutes.”
“I’m afraid not,” Arthur said. “You missed one important step.”
“You didn’t wait until I was dead.”
A Shocking Development
The blood drained from Allison’s face. “You mean I don’t get it? I don’t get the inheritance?”
“You mean five million dollars for your parents and the controlling stock in my company? Good Lord, no. At least not while I’m still above ground, anyway. Once I’m gone you’ll have the opportunity to earn the inheritance. It’ll mean spending another year in the nude, though,” he chuckled.
Panic surged through Allison at the thought that everything she’d worked toward for the past year was suddenly being snatched away from her at the last moment! “You mean after everything I’ve done, all the humiliations I’ve suffered, I get nothing? Nothing?” Allison could hardly breathe. “You bastard!”
Arthur’s lips curled into a thin smile. “I’ve been called worse,” he said. “I didn’t say you’d get nothing. The house and the car are yours to keep. You’ve more than earned them.”
“A house and a car?” Allison shrieked. “I wouldn’t have spent a year naked for a house and a car!”
“I see,” Arthur said. “So then it’s just a matter of negotiating a sufficient compensation package for you to live your life in the nude?”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about discussing your future here at Compton Enterprises.”
“There is no future for me here,” she said. “I’m done with you and your goddamn company and your sick, perverted games. And when I walk out that front door today, with my clothes on, I’m going to tell those reporters camped outside that you’re alive and faked your death.”
Arthur shrugged. “Go ahead. The news will have to be made public sooner or later anyway, and sooner is just as good as later. Mariana is pretty sure that when the news breaks that the reports of my death were greatly exaggerated it will cause the stock price to rise significantly. The stockholders have been very nervous about the prospect of having either my son Tony or a naked granddaughter run this company.”
“You broke the law. You committed fraud by faking your death.”
“I did no such thing,” he responded. “There were no false documents filed. There was never a death certificate, which your incompetent attorney would’ve discovered if he’d ever thought of checking. Mariana made sure that all of my taxes were paid over the past year so the government has no legal interest in me. The only thing we did was put an empty coffin into the ground and show you and your family a videotaped reading of the will. Neither of those things is illegal.”
“You forced me to comply with the terms of the will under false pretenses. I can sue you to live up to your promises.”
“I never forced you to do anything. Everything you did was of your own free will. And Mariana has never provided any documentation to you claiming I was dead.”
“She showed us the videotape of the will along with some legal papers supporting it,” Allison replied.
“Yes, you were shown the will but that’s not a legal verification that I was dead. You made that assumption.”
Allison let out a short bitter laugh. “Of course we made that assumption. We’d just attended your goddamn funeral!”
“I didn’t say there weren’t good reasons for the assumption,” Arthur chuckled. “But you have no legal basis for a lawsuit against me, although you’re welcome to try.”
Allison sank back into her chair and began to massage her throbbing temples. Somehow she knew that everything her grandfather was telling her was true. She could talk to her lawyer about suing him but she knew she wouldn’t win. She’d thought she was going to beat Arthur Compton at his sick, twisted game but he’d won. He always won. And if she took him to court he’d win again. She was screwed.
They both sat quietly for several minutes as the anger slowly seeped out of Allison and an air of resignation and defeat settled in. “So that’s it then,” she said finally. “You got your kicks for a year out of my public humiliation and all it cost you was a house and a car.”
“A very nice house and a very nice car,” Arthur responded. “You profited far more over the past year than a recent college graduate your age could reasonably expect.”
“So I guess I should be grateful, huh?”
“You’ve read Rebecca’s diary. You know what my fetish is, but I’ve never put a gun to a woman’s head and forced her to expose herself in public against her will. It’s always been her decision, just as it’s been your decision over the past year.”
“Yes, it was my decision,” Allison sighed. “Even though I was totally lied to and misled, it was my decision.”
Arthur once again allowed her a minute of silence before speaking again. “Allison, you asked me what my plans were and I’m willing to discuss them with you now if you’re willing to listen.”
“Sure,” she replied sarcastically. “Why the hell not?”
“I’m going to resume my role as Chairman of the Board and will control the overall direction of the company, but I no longer want to handle the day-to-day operations. I want to split my time between here and Costa Rica, so I’m going to be looking for a CEO I can trust to do that for me, and it sure as hell won’t be Tony. You’ve shown me a lot over the past year.” Arthur chuckled over his choice of words. “In more ways than one.”
“You mean you think I’m more than just a naked bimbo?” she replied tartly.
“You’ve been naked, yes. A bimbo, no. Mariana has watched you closely over the past year and she says you’re smart, tough, driven and competitive. You couldn’t have made it through the past year if you weren’t. You handled all the bullshit “assignments” that Tony threw at you and still managed to learn a lot about the business. She says you’re a quick study and have come up with solid ideas for improving efficiency and profitability.”
“So you’re offering me the job?” she asked.
“No, I’m offering you the opportunity to convince me you’re right for the job. And, if you can do that, the opportunity to negotiate the terms of your employment.” Arthur leaned back in his chair and folded his arms. “Or I can call Mariana in to retrieve your clothes for you and you can go out and tell the reporters anything you want and have your lawyer sue me. It’s your choice.”
Allison sat quietly for several minutes and Arthur didn’t interrupt her thoughts. She finally spoke again.
A Surreal Job Interview
“So tell me, Allison, why should I hire you as my CEO?” Arthur Compton asked.
“Well, you said it earlier…I’m smart, tough, driven, and competitive. And a quick study.” The absurdity of the situation struck Allison as she responded. I’m doing a naked job interview with my previously deceased grandfather, she thought. How surreal is this?
“Yes, that’s true,” Arthur responded, “and those are all qualities I’m looking for in the person I hire. But, off the top of my head, I can think of at least a dozen other people I could hire with those same qualities who also have far more managerial experience and knowledge of the industry than you do.”
Allison had no idea how to respond to that. “I guess I don’t know then. Why the hell would you hire me?”
“How has the company been doing this past year?” Arthur asked.
“Good. Profits are up over the previous year. In fact it’s been the most profitable year in a decade.”
“Why is that? What do you think is the primary reason for it?”
“Well, it’s been all the publicity,” Allison responded. “Compton Enterprises used to be fairly well known within the region but not really nationally. Now it’s got global name recognition.”
“And what’s been the source of all this additional publicity?”
“Well, me. And the whole naked inheritance thing,” she said.
“Correct. And do you think that this publicity would continue if I hired you and you began wearing business suits like every other CEO in the country?” Compton asked.
“I’d still be well known and so would Compton Enterprises.”
“For a little while, maybe. But you’re well known because of the highly unusual - and scandalous, according the media - circumstances surrounding the inheritance. The minute you put your clothes back on the interest will begin to fade. In a couple of years you’ll be a trivia question.”
“I can see where this is going,” Allison said. “You’re only interested in giving me the job if I stay naked.”
“That’s right. That’s the only thing you bring to the table right now that I couldn’t get from a more experienced and qualified person. In a few years, as you gain knowledge and experience, that may change and you’ll become invaluable to the company whether you’re wearing clothes or not. But right now you’re not.”
“A few years! I’m not going to agree to stay naked for a few years!”
“Any agreement we reach, if we reach one, will be for only one year. After that we’ll re-evaluate the situation and either renegotiate the deal or terminate it and you can move on. Next year you might be in a stronger bargaining position than you are today, but right now the only thing you really have to offer me is continuing publicity from your unique circumstances.”
“What kind of salary are we talking about?” she asked.
“It’d be commensurate to what a first-year CEO would be making at a company this size. It wouldn’t be instant wealth like the money from the inheritance, but it’d be more than enough to start building on. In a few years, if you stayed on, you wouldn’t need me to keel over in order to become a wealthy woman.”
“What about the website? Naked Allison?”
“Is it profitable?” Arthur asked.
“Yes. Very. It has the highest profit margin of any project in the company.”
“And if it continued would it help to promote your own fame and notoriety, which is currently your most valuable asset to the company?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Then you tell me, Allison. As CEO of Compton Enterprises would you pull the plug on it?”
Allison sighed and shook her head. “No.”
Allison’s mind reeled from the prospect of spending another year in the nude. And maybe even beyond that! She couldn’t believe she was even considering this, but she knew she was.
Why? She wasn’t sure she knew the answer. It wasn’t just the money, although she’d gotten a taste of what it meant to have wealth and was more attracted to it than she wanted to admit. Not long ago she was going to be an environmentalist and they made hardly anything. She wasn’t sure she wanted that life anymore.
Was it the challenge of running a company? That was part of it. A year ago she wanted to get control of Compton Enterprises so she could rip it apart. But one of the things she’d learned was that a corporation wasn’t just a soulless entity; it consisted of people just trying to make a good living and take care of their families. She’d gotten to know a lot the employees here and they were, for the most part, good people. She wanted to make sure they continued to have jobs and that meant turning a profit. There were things that the company could do to be better stewards of the environment, but dismantling it just for the sake of conservation wasn’t the answer. There had to be a balance between profits and preservation of the environment and as CEO she could help guide the company toward finding that balance.
But it wasn’t just that either. This past year had been the craziest, most exciting, thrilling, and nerve-wracking year of her life. Could she go back to a normal life after that? And did she even want to? She wasn’t sure.
She looked up at her grandfather who had gone silent again to allow Allison her thoughts. He was a man who understood when to speak and when to shut up during negotiations. “Would I ever be able to wear clothes?” she asked finally.
“As CEO there might be times you’d need travel out of state or attend a conference or give a speech where it may not be possible or practical to keep you naked. In those situations I’ll give permission for you to dress. But on a normal day-to-day basis, no. You’ll continue on as you are now, both on the job and away from it.”
Allison nodded. “I think I understand the terms under which you’d offer me the job,” she said. “Are you offering it to me?”
“Under those terms, yes.”
Allison glanced up at the clock on the wall. It was past the time she thought this would all be over. “I’ll need a few minutes to think about it.”
Arthur Compton began to rise from his chair to leave Allison alone but she interrupted him. “I have just a couple of more questions before you go,” she said.
“Alright,” Arthur replied and settled back into his chair.
“What about Tony? Does he stay on?”
Arthur sighed at the mention of his son’s name. “Tony does have some knowledge of the business that would be valuable to you. But he has no clue how to deal with people and nobody likes him. He’s as much a liability as an asset. I’d leave that up to you, if you decide to take the job.”
“And what about my family? You were going to give them five million dollars in the will.”
“How are your parents doing these days, Allison?”
“Much better. My father’s construction business has picked up a lot recently, so his financial problems have disappeared. And my mom and dad are getting along a lot better now.”
“And why has his construction business picked up?” Compton asked.
“Well,” Allison replied somewhat sheepishly, “I’ve used my position here to get him construction contracts on some of our projects.”
“Yes,” Arthur replied. “I know. And he’s been doing good work so keep doing it.” Arthur leaned forward in his chair. “Allison, your father is a proud man and he never wanted that inheritance. Your mother did, but he didn’t. He doesn’t want anything that he hasn’t earned and if he’d gotten the money he would have resented it and he would have resented your mother for it. It would have wrecked their marriage.”
Allison was startled by Arthur’s insight into her father, She knew he was right. He understood people far more than she ever could have imagined before.
“There was some local controversy about one of the construction projects that your father is currently working on, wasn’t there?” Compton continued. “The one at Woodland Meadows?”
“Yes,” Allison replied.
“Tell me about it.”
“Some environmentalists tried to block the project,” she said. “They claimed the area was wetlands and protected by law.”
“And you assisted the company in overcoming that didn’t you?” Arthur said. Allison nodded. “Why?” he asked. “Those were your buddies in the environmental movement, weren’t they?”
“I helped because it was a totally frivolous claim,” Allison said. “That land is no more a wetlands than my backyard. They were just trying to block a project that would have provided jobs and benefits for people in the area.”
“I see,” Compton said. “So the real world is somewhat more complex than your leftist college professors taught you?”
“Yes,” Allison replied.
“Was there anything else?” he asked.
“Just one more thing. Did you love her?”
Arthur sat their quietly for a minute before responding. “More than anything.”
“But you forced her to do those things.”
“I don’t regret that. Not for a minute. I regret cheating on her, which is why she divorced me, but not for forcing her into public exhibitionism.”
Arthur got up out of his chair and walked to the door of the adjacent office and opened it. He turned back to Allison and spoke again. “Did you know that Rebecca came back to me after our divorce and begged me to force her to get naked in public? She missed it. She missed the thrill of it and couldn’t bring herself to do it on her own. Someday this will end and you’ll miss it, too. You’re more like her than you’ll ever know.”
He was silent for a moment and then spoke again. “I’ll send Mariana in here in a few minutes and you can tell her your decision.” Arthur Compton closed the door behind him and left Allison alone.
Thirty minutes later the door opened again and Mariana walked into the office. Without a word she unlocked the cabinet where she’d placed Allison’s clothes the year before and placed them on the desk. “Will you be needing these?” she asked.
Allison got up from her chair and walked to the desk. “No,” she said. “You can donate them to charity.”
Mariana smiled at Allison. “Very well. I’ll draw up the employment contract and have it on your desk tomorrow. You can have your lawyer look it over before you sign it, if you wish. Congratulations on your new position. I’ll show you to your new office.”
Mariana Perez was a lovely woman and, after all that had happened, Allison no longer had any doubts that she was her grandfather’s mistress.
“You didn’t exactly tell me the truth last year, did you?” Allison said.
“No, I didn’t,” Mariana replied. “I’m sorry about that but I was under orders from Arthur.”
“And do you take orders from me now?”
“Yes, although if you tried to fire me or ordered me to do something that Arthur didn’t approve of then I believe he’d overrule it.”
“Then I want you to take your clothes off,” Allison said.
Mariana blinked several times as if she wasn’t quite sure what she’d just heard. “What?”
“When you lead me to my new office you’ll be dressed exactly as I am now. And afterwards we’re going to discuss your new dress code.”
Mariana stared at Allison for a moment and then the edges of her mouth curled up into a slight smile. “Yes, Ms. Davis,” she said as she began unbuttoning her blouse.