Just a Number

College

The cold from the polished concrete floor seeped into my shoes and rattled my bones. This supposedly chic, industrial space wasn’t built for comfort, nor was the cheap wooden chair at my desk. I sat on its edge, wringing my hands and all but folding myself in half in an attempt to generate heat. Business was slow and the owner had confiscated the remote for the heater, apparently deciding that employee comfort was a luxury.

Outside the weather was tepid as the bright sun dulled the edge of the crisp morning air. I longed for the sunshine to find my side of the street. Pacing the store kept me a little warmer. I tried to busy myself, dusting the merchandise for the third time that morning. The occasional customer wandered in and I’d offer explanations of the materials and techniques used to create the custom pieces. They’d admire the work but made it clear they were only curious with no interest in buying. That was fine by me. I wasn’t on commission and working alone all day made me appreciate even the most fleeting distraction.

I always brought my laptop to work. It wasn’t necessary but a computer on the desk gave the illusion of customer inquiries being attended to. There was nothing professional about it, but unfortunately my online activities were still limited. A full-length mirror sat on the floor behind my desk, reflecting the contents of my screen to anyone who walked in and cared to look. Despite the lack of customers and illusion of solitude, I had to be mindful that I wasn’t in total privacy.

I sat back down and considered working on an essay. This job, though low paid, was at least helping make ends meet during my post-graduate degree. I’d been warned against studying at work so couldn’t bring my oversized (unfortunately non-digitized) textbooks to refer to. I did my best without them but soon realised I was wasting my time. With nothing else to do, I began curating a playlist to be beamed over the sound system. I’d been forced to listen to the manager’s selection of vaguely cool background music that only added to the stifling cloud of mundanity hanging in the air. I needed to be distracted from watching the minutes drag by and hoped a new soundtrack might offer an escape.

As lunchtime rolled around the street outside grew lively with people on their breaks, rushing to get as far as they could from their own daily drudgery. I watched them, wondering what they were thinking. I noticed a woman, eyes locked on her phone. I played a game with myself, guessing what was on her mind. I decided she was scrolling through Instagram, trying to distract herself while she waited to hear about the job she just interviewed for. Then a young man nearby hurriedly grabbed his phone from his pocket. The look on his face softened. I confidently guessed he was newly in love and had just received the reply text he’d been waiting for. Then an older man passed by, fixing his hair as he walked. He looked a little nervous but clearly optimistic. He was hoping that the girl at the coffee shop would continue to reciprocate his flirting, and that today he would finally ask her out. As my assumptions started to lean more towards thoughts of romance it occurred to me, how many passersby were actually thinking about sex?

My train of thought didn’t surprise me. I’d been single for months and had never been one for the casual hook-up. The angst of my forced celibacy had been plaguing me for days. It was that time in my cycle where I become perpetually turned on, my whole body tingling and the sight of a woman in tight jeans leaving me winded. I tried my best to ignore it, but it was a delicious ache. You know the kind. The itch you can never quite scratch. For me, it manifests as the overwhelming desire to taste a woman’s skin, to feel her melt into me. I do what I can, but it’s a frustration I can’t overcome alone.

Something that does take the edge off, at least momentarily, is delving deeper into the fantasies. I allow myself to consider every detail, mentally walking myself through the experience as though it’s happening in real time. I don’t necessarily touch myself, though sometimes I can’t help it, but it’s almost better when I don’t. I focus my energy on the fictitious person in my mind and try to take in her scent, hear her moan, feel her against my lips. But at work, with a window to a world able to see the look on my face, I had to be careful not to let my imagination become too vivid. So this time I had an idea; I’d write my thoughts down in the hopes that typing would look like work related concentration.

I pressed play on my playlist. The songs had a slightly sexier vibe than I’d intended, though that was probably to be expected. I turned the brightness down on my laptop screen to make sure the reflection of my words in the mirror wasn’t too visible. I was likely being paranoid – someone would have to be a lot closer to read the small typeface, but it made me feel less conspicuous. I started typing, describing the sordid images that entered my mind. I held each thought casino şirketleri in place as long as I could until I’d noted every detail. In no time, the stream of consciousness had developed into a graphic collection of my deepest desires. I read it back and felt sexy and empowered but realized it didn’t fully satisfy me. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t see the face of the woman I’d envisaged. I needed to have someone specific in mind.

I looked out the window again at the bustling street for inspiration. It didn’t take long to spot someone that held my interest. She walked slower than the rest and I wondered if she was a tourist exploring the city. She wasn’t dressed in typical work attire, but then this wasn’t a corporate part of town. Local workplaces consisted of design studios, galleries and Internet start-ups that demanded stylish self-expression rather than the usually prescribed suits and heels, yet she managed to stand out from the ever-eclectic crowd.

Her ombre brunette hair was styled in an effortlessly cool, long bob of tousled curls. She stopped for a moment, turning her torso towards the breeze and sweeping her hair over and to the left to be tucked in behind her ear. She didn’t look lost, but seemed as though she was assessing her surrounds to decide on her next move. The short sleeves of her relaxed white, V-neck t-shirt had been rolled into a cuff, showing her tanned, slender arms. A long, simple necklace skimmed the inner curves of her modestly sized breasts to fall just below her diaphragm. She appeared a little older than my 30 years, maybe somewhere in her early forties. I couldn’t see if she was wearing much make-up, but I could tell she wouldn’t need to – a natural beauty with gorgeous eyes, high cheekbones and full lips.

I began admiring her toned legs in her tight, dark denim jeans when she turned to face me. I worried for a moment she’d seen me staring. But no, she had found her own reflection, sneakily glancing to assess her appearance. It didn’t appear conceited; she actually looked unsure that what she saw was acceptable. I smiled to myself. If only she knew the way I was looking at her. But then our eyes met. She looked embarrassed. Thankfully, instead of turning to walk off as I’d expected, she smiled back and shook her head, giving an exaggerated eye roll. She was trying to mime the realization that she’d been caught and that she felt silly. I couldn’t contain an even bigger smile.

‘You look great,’ I mouthed. She shrugged, looking a little shy. ‘Come in,’ I gestured. She obliged, looking up to try and find a sign that indicated the type of shop she was walking into. “Hi there” I tried to sound friendly but cool as I greeted her.

She looked around, confused, “What is this place?” Is it a pop-up store? Where’s the sign?”

“No, haven’t you heard? Its cool to be mysterious.” The smile she returned was genuine. “Actually we sell custom furniture, these are just a few examples of the designer’s work.”

She ran her hand along the smooth messmate dining table she was admiring. “It’s lovely.”

“What brings you to the area?” I should have been assessing her interest in the table and trying to make a sale, but I was much more interested in her.

“Just looking around, really. I live on the other side of the city and don’t get over this way often. Honestly though, I’m only working part-time at the moment. I’m still not sure what to do with my days off!”

“Oh really, where do you work?”

“I own a salon. But I’m stepping back from it. Semi-retirement, really.”

“I’m sorry…retirement? You can’t be anywhere near retirement age!” I was genuinely shocked. She looked down, with a hint of that bashful smile again.

“Well, I couldn’t collect a pension, but the business has done well so it is a slightly early semi-retirement.”

“Very early, I’d guess.”

“Not really,” she replied. I didn’t push the point. She was stunning, whatever her age.

She looked uncomfortable with the attention so I turned the tables on myself. “Well, I’m in the first year of my dirty thirties. Not all that close to retirement but definitely in the depths of a mid-career crisis,” I said with a laugh.

“Ah yes, dirty thirties, almost as good as the naughty forties!”

“Is that right?” I held her gaze a little longer this time. I thought I noticed some encouragement behind her eyes, but given my state of arousal, I could’ve imagined it.

I didn’t really trust my gaydar, but there was a certain swagger about her that read as potentially sapphic. She was feminine but cool, and to my eye, perfect.

She wandered over to another table. I sensed that she felt me checking her out, something in the way she seemed to sneak a look back at me and putting a little more sway in her step. I took note of her Cuban heeled ankle boots. Even in my flat boots, I was taller than her, something I always enjoy.

“I love your boots,” I commented.

“Oh thanks, I was actually admiring yours before. I tend to go for a casino firmaları heel though. I’m not lovely and tall like you. How tall are you?”

“Not that tall, really. 5″9. I can usually reach high cupboards though, so I occasionally come in handy.”

“I bet”.

I wasn’t sure if I heard her right, but it definitely sounded flirtatious. She stopped and visibly grimaced with the realization that she’d said it out loud. She looked relieved when I chuckled and gave a knowing smile.

“Apparently I’m destined to embarrass myself around you,” she said.

I held her gaze again. “Nothing at all to be embarrassed about.” I wanted to even the playing field and put myself out there. It still felt like a risk but I went for it and continued, “I’m the one flirting with you.” It came out far more calm and collected than I felt.

She looked pleased and blushed a little. “No you’re not”. I wasn’t sure if she was being coy or I’d made her uncomfortable. I’m never confident in reading these situations.

“Why? You’d prefer I wasn’t?” I replied playfully, giving her a polite out.

“I’m just surprised. I may just be a little old for you”.

“No ma’am,” I said with a cheeky smile.

“You don’t know how old I am!” she chuckled.

“True. But why would I need to?” She smiled in response but still looked unsure. I walked over to my desk and grabbed a post-it. “Let me write my name and number down for you. I’d love to grab a drink sometime.” She gave me that bashful smile again, but acquiesced, nodding her approval. “Damn, my pen’s run out. Hang on, I’ll just grab another one from out the back”. I exited to the storeroom. I’d finally found one when I heard the door open behind me. I turned to see her in the doorway. “Sorry, here it is” I offered. But the look on her face had changed. There was desire in her eyes but she looked a little shocked that she had followed me, as though she’d moved without thinking. “Everything OK?” I asked.

“Tonight,” she said, steeling herself. “What time do you finish here?” She stood just out of my reach.

“5.” It was taking all of my energy not to move closer, but she looked as though she could be easily spooked. She took the pen from my hand and wrote down an address.

“Meet me here, at my place, as soon as you finish. I’d meet you at a bar, but I’m scared I’d lose my nerve and not turn up.”

“Sure,” was all I could manage to respond, and with that, she turned and walked out. I was in shock. What had just happened? I took a deep breath to try to slow my heart rate. I composed myself and walked back into the shop. I sat down at my desk, and then I saw it, the cursor, blinking on my screen and a new line of text that read, “I think you read my mind.”

She’d read it! How much, I didn’t know, but she’d definitely learned more about my sexual desires than a little flirting would have conveyed. All I could think was “Holy shit. Holy. Shit.” I looked at the time. 2pm. There was no way I could wait 3 hours – I needed to see her. I contemplated closing the shop, I hated the job anyway, but what if I turned up too early for her? I didn’t want to be presumptuous and arrive before she was ready. I’d have to bide my time. I stared at the words she’d typed and squirmed in my seat. I read my own writing back. I could feel myself getting wet, thinking about her in those scenarios. I pictured her face; her brow furrowed with need, her mouth parted, a deep groan escaping her throat.

I suddenly felt incredibly nervous. She’d obviously liked what she’d read. What if reality didn’t match the fantasy? Besides, I don’t go home with strangers. I’m the get-to-know-you-before-I-see-you-naked type, but then nothing so serendipitous had ever happened to me before. I text my best friend. I didn’t give him all the details but enough for him to weigh in. His return text came through, “You are the stupidest person alive if you don’t go for it.” ‘Fair assessment,’ I thought.

I looked at my watch, 4.55. No one had walked in the door all afternoon, thank god. I couldn’t wait any longer and risk the arrival of a last minute customer. I locked up, turned out the lights and headed to the bathroom for a final primp. I felt good. I’d worn my hair straightened and down making me feel feminine and sexy. My slender figure was outfitted with black skinny jeans and a dark denim shirt with sleeves rolled up at the forearm and top buttons undone just enough to tease. A final spray of perfume and I was as ready as I’d ever be.

The GPS predicted a 25-minute trip across town. I tried to breathe and listen to the radio to distract myself from the promise of the evening, but every song that came on served as the soundtrack to thoughts of her grinding into me on a dance floor. I turned it off to concentrate on the drive through the peak hour traffic.

Her house wasn’t difficult to find. It was a beautifully renovated Victorian home, an architectural staple in this affluent part of town. I parked my trusty old Honda around the corner, not wanting güvenilir casino to draw too much attention to the disparity in our respective levels of wealth. I mustered as much courage as I could to walk confidently up the path and knock on her door. I steadied myself, remembering how nervous she was – I wanted to put her at ease. She opened the door, a sheepish smile spread across her face. It was incredibly adorable.

“I wasn’t sure you’d come,” she admitted.

I resisted the cheap double entendre, instead replying “Are you glad I did?”

“Very. Come in.”

She stepped aside but I couldn’t help brushing passed her. The smell of her hair hit me and I wanted nothing more than to devour her. I calmed myself, taking in the stunning decor of her tasteful home. I turned back towards her, just catching her admiring my ass. I gave a knowing smile, which she returned.

“Can I get you a drink?” she asked in an attempt to distract me from her perversion.

“I wont turn one down if you’re indulging.”

“Pinot OK?”

“Perfect.”

She led the way to the kitchen and it was my turn to admire her from behind. Her round, pert cheeks swayed hypnotically. I imagined cupping, kneading and spreading them, exposing and gently parting the deliciously puffy lips that hid below. She stopped at the kitchen bench, poured two glasses and handed me one. We took our first sips silently and in unison.

“Can I tell you a secret?” she asked.

“Please do.”

She lowered her voice, and offered, “I’m terrified.”

I gave a reassuring smile. “Please don’t be. Easier said than done, I know. But you know what might put you more at ease?”

“What?”

I held out my hand. “My name’s Allie, what’s yours?” She took my hand and chuckled.

“Oh my god, I can’t believe… I’m Jen. And trust me, this is not at all like me.”

“Well it’s lovely to meet you, Jen.”

I wanted to assure her this wasn’t like me either, but worried that she’d gotten a different idea from my writing. What if the thought of me being confident and taking charge was part of the fantasy? I’d have to do my best to meet the brief.

“Allie,” she thought aloud, “that’s pretty.”

“Thanks.” I resisted the urge to return the obvious line of ‘So are you.’ I was trying to play it cool, but my tendency towards a lame one-liner is always a threat to maintaining such a facade.

Silence hung between us for a moment, both smiling to ourselves. She cradled her newly empty glass in both hands, looking down to avoid my gaze. Her lower back rested against the edge of the kitchen bench. I stood only a meter or two in front of her, just outside the invisible line that marked our personal space. I wanted to avoid indulging too long in small talk. The longer we denied the reality of the situation, the more nerve racking it became. So, I stepped forward, slowly but confidently, holding my posture upright. She locked her gaze on the bottom of her glass, still afraid to make eye contact.

I was new to the casual hook-up, but not to seduction. She somehow felt safe and familiar enough for me to let myself be led by instinct. Once close enough to feel her without touching, I slowly leaned in and reached beside her to place my glass on the bench behind. I felt her breathe in with anticipation. I gently took her glass from her hands marking the first electrifying moment my skin touched hers. I leaned in again putting her glass down next to mine. Instead of returning completely, I held my position and moved my hand to gently shift the hair from the side of her neck. The slow dance of energy between us was building an almost unbearable ache between my legs and I could only hope it had a similar effect on her.

She breathed in deeply through her nose, tilting her head just slightly but enough to guide me toward the delicate skin of her neck. I leaned down, allowing my body to press gently against hers. As my lips grazed her skin, my hand found her waist, resting there and hopefully providing reassurance. My parted lips teased their way down her neck to find their place just above her collarbone, gently stroking her skin between them as I brought them together in a kiss. I felt her body squirm, as though her toes had curled, forcing her hips to shift. I struggled to contain myself as she let out a breathy whimper.

I slowly leaned back to look into her eyes. Her fear was subsiding and I was relieved to be met with a look of drunken lust. I moved my lips towards hers, stopping just as they touched, almost imperceptibly. I was surprised by my own self-restraint but needed her to close the final distance. Easing into the moment, she teased me back, moving just enough to taunt me – she knew this game well. I smiled when I realized she’d won. “Fuck,” I groaned, and took her top lip hungrily between my own.

Our lips parted in time and I felt her tongue find the relaxed but probing tip of mine. All of my senses became heightened. She tasted incredible, and the warm air she exhaled through her nose was sweet and somehow floral. She kissed me urgently but expertly. All I’d imagined until this point was the hope of giving pleasure to her, but the way she moved her tongue made me long for it to be buried between my legs.

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