New to Quest Five?
The stories are best enjoyed when read in order beginning with May 1, 2009.

Welcome To Quest Five
Allison Beaumont is having trouble finding a job after college until one day the wealthy and powerful Joseph Candle offers her a job at his rather unusual corporation, where mistakes can lead to bare bottomed spankings. Adopting the alias of Virginia West, she joins four highly skilled colleagues, racing around the globe in search of mysterious treasures, but wherever she goes, trouble is sure to follow.
Note: Some stories contain scenes of a sexual nature, corporal punishment, non-consensual corporal punishment, and strong language which some reader's may find offensive. If you feel this material might be inappropriate for you please move on to another blog by clicking the next blog link at the top of the page.

July 7, 2009

Measuring Up: Coffee & Crumbs

It felt oddly important to see my name on a placard, reserving a parking space. Seeing my car parked in the space was a little more like reality. It’s dull paint, dented fenders and scratched bumpers looked anything but belonging in the garage where it was surrounded by cars whose full tanks of gas would cost more than my car’s bluebook value. Walking away from the embarrassing sight, I smoothed the wrinkles from uniform gray skirt and slipped into the blazer.

I was early but unabashedly eager to arrive at my first day of real work. There were questions to be asked and answers to be given and I was a week passed ready to get down to the business of it all. The lobby was busier than I’d previously seen with at least two dozen people cramming into the main elevators on their way to work. Cathy was standing at her usual station and smiling at me from before I even walked through the front glass doors.

“Good morning Cathy.” I said.

“Good morning Miss Beaumont. Mr. Candle is waiting for you in his office. He’ll be pleased you are early.” Cathy said.

“I’ll head right on up then.” I said.

“Very good Ma’am.” Cathy said. “Umm, I mean Miss Beaumont.”

I smiled at her slip and even though I find the word ma’am an irritant I was in a good enough mood to laugh it off. Her face bore an expression akin to worry which took me a moment to figure out. Given the company’s predilection toward handling mistakes, minor and not so minor, with spankings, her worry was understandable. I would never be so mean for a simple slip though even if it did irritate me.

“I supposed I could send you up to HR for a reminder on that, couldn’t I?” I said.

It was supposed to be said with levity but either I failed at it or spanking just isn’t a joking matter at Quondam. Cathy’s face blushed bright red and she stared at my shoes rather than looking me in the eye.

“Yes, of course Miss. I’m sorry, it won’t happen again.”

“I was being facetious Cathy. Please smile and laugh a little. I would never send you or anyone else to HR for something so trivial.”

Her face brightened as she realized I wasn’t angry, but a touch of concern was still apparent.

“You should be careful who hears you say that Miss. There are some who would take advantage if they thought you didn’t have the stomach for maintaining discipline.” She said.

“Not to worry, if anyone tries to take advantage they’ll quickly realize there was no advantage.” I replied.

I slipped into the waiting elevator and pressed the button for Mr. Candle’s floor. The elevator shot upward like a rocket, but this time I was prepared. When the doors opened Mr. Candle had his back to me and was speaking on the phone. Stepping out, I noticed a young lady sitting in the circle of chairs with a laptop open. She barely glanced at me, but I studied her carefully, waiting for Mr. Candle to notice my arrival.

She wore her auburn hair tied back with an unusual clip made of multi-colored wires. Her ears were small and flat with no earrings or even piercing for that matter. It was hard to tell with her sitting down but I estimated she was only of medium height and definitely a petite frame. Her green eyes were focused on the screen in front of her but I had the distinct impression they were fully aware of me as well.

“Good morning Miss West. Come in, please, make yourself comfortable.” Mr. Candle said.

He had hung up the phone and turned to give me his full attention. I was a little surprised at the use of my alias, but then realizing we were not alone, it all fell into place.

“Good morning Sir.” I replied.

I stepped further into the room, my eyes glancing at the young woman and her computer, hoping Mr. Candle would notice and introduce her.

“Coffee?” Mr. Candle asked.

“Yes, please.” I said.

I noticed a steaming cup sitting next to the woman already.

“How do you take it?” He asked.

“Black will be fine.” I said.

“Nonsense. I have a variety of creamers, sugars, and milks. Anything you like can be managed and if I don’t have it I’ll have someone stock it for tomorrow.” He said.

“It’s not necessary I drink it straight most days unless it’s bad.” I said.

“It better not be bad. It was ground fresh this morning, less than fifteen minutes ago.” He said.

“I’m sure it will be fine.”

It seemed a pointless discussion and I couldn’t help but wonder if this young woman sitting there was making him nervous. It had to be her and not me because God knows I’m not intimidating at all. I made my way over to her and sat down in the chair next to her while Mr. Candle poured my cup of coffee. I could get used to starting my days like this. Too bad it will probably never happen again.

Admittedly, I chose my seat to peek at the computer screen, but apparently I was being too obvious. She snapped the laptop closed before my eyes could focus on anything and turned to me with a wolf smile on her face. She extended her hand to me.

“I’m Kyra Jax.” She said. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”

The name should have clicked right away, considering she practically saved my life only a few days ago. Instead my brain whirred into overdrive frantically trying to figure out where I knew her name from and it was only her fingertips tapping on the back the laptop which suddenly jogged my memory. I grasped her extended hand with a cautious smile of my own.

“Kyra, a pleasure indeed. I never got a chance to thank you.” I said.

“You did all the hard stuff, I just did my job.” She replied.

Mr. Candle arrived with my coffee about then and a cup of his own which emanated a decidedly hazelnut aroma. I nursed my cup, careful not to burn my fingers or sip too quickly.

“Miss Jax, if you would excuse us and let the rest of the team know we’ll be up in a few minutes.” Mr. Candle said.

“Of course. See you up there V.” Kyra said.

She disappeared into the elevator, leaving me wondering what she had been doing with Mr. Candle before I arrived. Obviously, she hadn’t been waiting around to meet me. Alone with Mr. Candle I decided to give him my full attention.

“I thought the Virginia West alias was just for traveling?” I said.

Mr. Candle took the seat across from me and sipped from his steaming cup, before answering.

“Once you get on the elevator to come up here you are Virginia West until you leave.” Mr. Candle said.

“May I ask why?”

“It’s the way it is. There are rules you must learn to live by and this is one of them. No one in Q5 should ever know your real name. It is as much for your protection as it is for theirs.”

“Are their names aliases as well?” I asked.

“That is none of your concern.”

“If it wasn’t my concern I wouldn’t be asking.” I said.

I sat my cup down on the table and stared at Mr. Candle, hoping he would get the idea I wasn’t going to be easily dissuaded by theatrics. After a moment he surrendered.

“It is not a consistent policy. Aliases are only issued when there are family members to protect.” Mr. Candle said.

“That’s better than nothing but only slightly. Maybe you want to tell me a little bit more about this danger we all seem to be in?” I said.

“Miss West, the danger may not always be apparent but it always exists. I take precautions, perhaps more than are necessary, but when it comes to the safety of my employees I prefer not to take undue risks.”

“All well and good, but you’re avoiding the question.” I said.

“And what question is that?”

“Who are we in danger from?”

“It is not a specific person. These matters are complicated, but it should suffice to say the danger to your wellbeing comes from many directions and many sources, but they all share one thing in common; they are rivals to the Q5 agenda and will stop at nothing to subvert it.”

“It does not suffice. I want real answers Mr. Candle. This Olivia, she said you had stolen something from her employer. Is that true?”

“Q5 seeks out lost treasures. When we find one before our competitors do they have tendency to view that as theft.” Mr. Candle said.

“Is that what Olivia’s employer is doing or did you steal something?” I asked.

Mr. Candle shifted uncomfortably in his seat. It felt vaguely familiar only last time it had been me shifting uncomfortably in the chair. I couldn’t help but glance at the seat warmer switches, but they were all off. Besides, much as I might like to do it myself at the moment, I can’t quite imagine anyone disciplining Mr. Candle.

“It’s possible. The former Q5 leadership was less concerned with ethics and more concerned with success.” Mr. Candle answered.


“Yes, he was killed some weeks ago under unusual circumstances, probably related to his lack of ethics. I was unaware of the situation prior to that, but rest assured the project will not continue down those questionable roads.”

“Is that why I am here?”

“In part but not entirely. You fit with the team and provide an area expertise they are lacking.”

“And what is that?”

“You understand people. Specifically, you understand what motivates them.”

“I’m not that good at it because so far I can’t figure you out.”

“That is by design, Miss West. It would not be appropriate for me to allow you to understand my motivations too clearly at this time.”

“Now you see that makes me think I should be worried about your motivations.”

“I assure you, they are not sinister.”

“I’m sure the devil himself has used that line to great success.”

“In time you will come to understand everything, but right now you are not ready.”

I nodded, expecting that response before he ever uttered the first syllable.

“I’ll work in the dark for now, but I’m not going to wait forever. I want to know the whole story here and if it doesn’t starting coming together I won’t stick around.” I said.

“Perfectly understandable.” Mr. Candle said. “Shall we go meet the rest of the team then?”

“Where do I fit into it?” I asked.

“What do you mean?”

“Am I replacing your former team leader?” I asked.

It was bolder and more direct than I wanted to be, but I needed to know the answer before I started shaking hands with the team. If I was to lead them, I would need to gain their respect from the beginning.

“In a manner of speaking. Being new to the team it would be unwise for me to place you in charge, so naturally I haven’t. However, witnessing your actions last week, I am confident enough in your abilities to place you in the number two spot.”

“What does that mean?”

“You’ll be second in command.”

“I see.”

“Shall we then?” Mr. Candle gestured toward the elevator.

I nodded.

Inside the room marked Q5 on the 32nd floor, Kyra was sitting at the center table with three men standing around her. Projected above the table appeared to be a topographical map of Italy with the area around Venice outlined in a bright red. They all looked at us as we walked toward them. More specifically the men were staring at me and Kyra, oddly enough, was staring at Mr. Candle.

“Good morning everyone. I’d like to introduce the newest member of our team, Miss Virginia West.” Mr. Candle said as we came to a stop on the opposite side of the table from everyone.

The three men nodded. Mr. Candle turned to me.

“You already know Miss Jax. Allow me to introduce Dr. Gene Michaels, Mr. Tom Clark, and Mr. Jack Barker.” Mr. Candle said.

Each extended their hand to me for a brief grip as they were introduced.

Dr. Michaels was a thin, tall man. He was obviously the oldest in the group, with the possible exception of Mr. Candle. The gold rimmed glasses slouched down to the front of his nose were clearly meant for reading and by the amount of fingerprints on the lenses I guessed he didn’t much like wearing them. His graying light brown hair was still thick and full. He kept it brushed to the sides, out of his eyes, but I gathered he considered styling a nuisance. His soft eyes hinted at a gentle soul, but they were slightly intimidating by the manner in which he seemed to be looking straight through me.

Tom Clark was about what I expected. Ex-military all the way from his buzz cut short fuzz of an excuse for hair to his shining black leather dress boots. He wore his black suit like a uniform and I bet you could balance dictionaries on his broad shoulders. By the fit of his jacket I could tell his biceps were nearly the size of my thighs and when I shook his hand it was like sandpaper in a vise. His eyes said one thing clearly from the moment I walked into the room; He didn’t like me, not even a little bit. I guess that’s to be expected after the way I snapped at him on the phone.

Then there was Jack Barker. He was tall with a good muscular build. Dark brown hair, soft blue eyes, and if he had an English accent he could have been James Bond. His hands were soft like Dr. Michaels, but it was his eyes I couldn’t stop thinking about. Well that and just how good he’d look without a shirt on. For just a moment I was alone on a beach with him and his lips were all over my body, softly caressing every inch of me.

“Miss West?” Jack said.

I nearly jumped out of my skin. He’d caught me staring and all my blood rushed to my face with the irrational thought that he somehow knew exactly what I’d been thinking. I coughed trying to mask my embarrassment but it probably just drew more attention to it.

“Yes? I’m sorry I was thinking about something else.” I said.

“I’ll let it go this time, but when you’re in here, I expect you to be focused.” Jack said.

My embarrassment almost got the better of me as I very nearly asked him who the hell he thought he was. Fortunately I kept it to myself and threw a quick quizzical glance at Mr. Candle.

“Mr. Barker is the team leader. You’ll be working under his direct supervision. Mr. Clark is our tactical specialist. Miss Jax is our resident techie and Dr. Michaels is our resident expert on ancient artifacts.” Mr. Candle said.

I nodded my understanding and turned my attention back to Jack Barker. There were definitely worse bosses to have, but just because he’s easy on the eyes doesn’t make him a good one. He clearly had a short fuse for some reason or another.

“Your office is to the left at the top of the stairs on the right.” Mr. Barker said.

“Thank you. Is there something specific I should be doing?” I asked.

“Gene, get Miss West everything we’ve got on the compass. We have an assignment to locate a fancy compass Miss West. Gene and Kyra can get you up to speed. I want an assessment by the end of the day.” Mr. Barker said.

He didn’t wait for acknowledgements, he just walked away to what was clearly his own office. I gathered he was testing me before he decided whether or not to like me. Obviously, there was something though, because he didn’t use my first name like he did with everyone else. I’m not sure what it really means, but I’m sure it means something.

I gave a last glance at Mr. Candle who merely shrugged and smiled. I took my leave walking toward what was my office. It was one of the two larger ones I had noticed on my first visit. At the time I had expected to end up in one of the small ones on the other side.

“You can’t seriously think she’s cut out for this Joe?” Tom said.

His voice was hushed in a whisper and I’m sure he didn’t expect me to hear from inside my office. I sat down at my desk pretending I hadn’t.

“This is not a military operation Mr. Clark and I will not have it run like one. Miss West may be young but she is definitely the right person for the job. You better get used to it because like it or not you‘re going to be working for her.” Mr. Candle replied.


  1. It's funny how we place so much importance on what we say when referring to others. On the surface it seems like a minor detail, but there really is a lot of meaning behind it. I guess it does prevent conflict overall when everyone knows who they should defer to and who should defer to them.

  2. Ashley,

    Good story I like Virginia/Allison thoughts definitely makes for interesting and fun stories.

  3. Ashley, a well written chapter, I smiled to note how the pecking order syndrome swung into action when Virginia was introdused to the Q5 group.
    I strongely suspect there will be one or two sore beaks before long.
    Warm hugs,

  4. Oh Ash, Allison and her new boss. She better pays more attention.... and I still wonder if Joe gets away with sending her to the camp late. I would have made him shift a bit more in his chair ;)


  5. Ashley, I really enjoy your style of writing. Allison/Virginia is a top notch heroine and your other characters (like Joe, Kyra, and Tom) continue to intrigue and fascinate.

    I am horrible about leaving regular comments but let me assure you I eagerly await each new chapter.

    Keep up the great work and thank you for this wonderful story!