14 Jun

Note: Adult content.

     Stephanie trudged up the steps from the subway. Another workday. Another day thrown away, to be followed by a night of boredom.
     Had it been a mistake to ask Jordan to move out? True, he was insensitive. Also true that he had the sophistication of a slug. But he was someone to turn to in the night. And he was, if nothing else, comfortable.
     As she pushed through the turnstile into the gray Philadelphia morning, she stiffened her spine. Jordan, when all was said and done, was, and always would be, a jerk. And now that he was finally gone, he could be replaced by someone better.
     Good riddance and goodbye, Jordan. It’s time to think positively for a change.
     Above, the clouds were thinning, and the morning dampness was fading from the street and sidewalk. It was the beginning of a new week and time for a new outlook. Perhaps today would be the day. And with that thought, she straightened, put a spring into her step and headed toward Roe & Rowe, ignoring the voice in her head that whispered, You’re so full of shit.
     The clock display over the corner bank said it was just 7:30. She stopped, nearly at the building’s door and gave thought to a stop at the coffee bar, but discarded that. A half-hour spent browsing the Internet was better, because coffee would invariably lead to Danish, too, and that would go straight to the hips.
     That decided, she turned and walked directly into the path of the man who was reaching for the building’s front door.
     “Excuse me,” he said, smiling, as he steadied her, and kept her from falling. “I’m clumsy this morning, I’m afraid.”
     Their collision was obviously her fault, but he politely ignored that, a bit of chivalry that made her look more closely at his face, now only inches from her own. There was surprise there. But that aside, it was a nice face, newly shaved, pleasant, and of an age that said the man was a possibility, if he wasn’t married, or gay, or…
     Interesting, though. Definitely interesting.
     Then, as he placed her on her feet more securely, his hand brushed her neck, just at the collar of her sweater, and it happened. A tiny tingle, like a pulse of electricity jarred her fully awake.
     Frozen, she looked into deep brown eyes, for several seconds more, stunned, and wondering if she should kiss him. Then he was releasing her and whatever had happened was only a memory.
     You’ve been reading too damn many romance novels, Steph, old girl. But it had happened, and she was seized with the urge to touch his cheek to see if it repeated. But that would be insane, so she clamped down on that bit of stupidity and said, “No, it was my fault. I should have been watching where I was going.” He had a really great smile.
     He pulled the door open and gestured her through, saying, “Even if it was, it was fun…I’m Frank. Frank Nelson. Do you work here?” He followed her toward the elevator.
     For an instant she hesitated. But she had run into him, and it was fairly obvious that she did work in the building, so she took a chance and said, “Stephanie Holt. I’m a paralegal with Roe & Rowe. You?” Perhaps he would suggest another meeting? The week was already looking up.
     “I’m an analyst with Harper Price, up on twenty,” he said, as he pressed the button to call an elevator.
     There seemed to be nothing else to say, for the moment, so she waited in silence, while the indicator over one of the elevator doors ticked its way to the ground floor. Had it really happened? Or was it simply the spring weather and her hormones combining into a romantic daydream? The urge to reach out and touch his cheek to see if it happened again was almost overpowering.
     Then the elevator door was opening and he was bowing her through. It was the perfect excuse, so as though in play she touched his hand in thank you as she moved past. Then, as a sense of electric rightness jolted through her she took his hand in her own as she turned to face him, almost unable to speak.
     “Did you feel…” She pulled his hand, and him, toward her as she said, “I mean, am I crazy? Are we?” And then, as the elevator doors sighed closed behind him she was in his arms, breathing in the scent of him, tasting mouthwash and electricity in equal measures.
     This is crazy…crazy. It was. But her body, without asking permission, molded itself against him, and her hand met his as she fumbled for the button that stopped the car and took it out of service. Crazy.
     It was wrong. That was certain. And when his hand slipped under her sweater to burn a path across her skin she should have shouted, “Stop!” Instead, she turned to guide that warmth to her breast, then guided his mouth there, a thousand volt shock that caused her to press ever tighter against him, as she ripped the sweater over her head, tossed it, then fumbled for his belt. Crazy, crazy, crazy… echoed in her head as her weakened knees buckled under her.
     He tasted of sex, cotton underwear and electricity.
     And then they were on the floor of the elevator, his hands and his mouth a flame on her body, bringing wave after wave of ecstasy, along with, crazy…crazy…crazygood, followed by better…better…betterbetterbetter…oh…my…God! as she fitted herself to him and lost all sense of self, and all vestige of control.
     “Wow.” That was the only word that fit. Resting against him, enveloped by his arm and warmed by his skin, her breath finally calming, she looked up at the high narrow confines of the elevator car. “Crazy” was back, but it was joined by “wonderful,” and “exciting,” too. She pulled back to gaze into his face. It was a nice face. Perhaps not what she would have chosen, had he been part of a group of available men, but her body, it appeared, had chosen wisely. The man was amazing, and she told him so.
     “Thank you,” he said, beginning to withdraw, and sit up. “But I think we had better get dressed and place the elevator back in service before someone calls the maintenance people.” He pointed, grinning. “If those doors open I think we’re still at the lobby, and I’m not certain I want my boss to see me like this.”
     She laughed, then nodded and sat up, looking for her sweater. She leaned toward the corner where she’d tossed it, then retrieved his shirt, too, a smile coming at the idea that the clothing was as intertwined as they had been. But as she handed him the shirt a small box slipped from the pocket and tumbled to the floor.
     “What’s this?” she said, as she picked it up. It was a flat, featureless case, black and glossy, in size very like the rear of a calculator. A tiny slide switch showed at one edge.
     “Nothing important,” he said, quickly. But there was something in his voice that was odd, so she turned it over. The other side was equally featureless, other then for electric-looking letters that spelled out, Tingle’Er.
     Tingle’Er? That makes no— And then it came and she looked up at him. Her jaw was hanging. That was impossible to suppress, as was the anger that came afterward and brought her jaw shut and thinned her lips.
     “You bastard! Tingle Her? You were wearing a static shock machine? That is the single most…most—”
     “Despicable thing you’ve ever heard. I know. But you kissed me, remember? And you…well, you were amazing.” He gestured toward her sweater, still hanging from her hands, then toward her panties, lying on the floor of the car. “Maybe it would be best to…” he trailed off and began to dress.
     Angry or not, it made sense to dress before she hit him, so she turned to that. The stray thought came that whoever got into that car next would know, with a single sniff, of the use the car had been put to. Damn!
     “Can I explain?” he said, as he buttoned his shirt. When she said nothing, he continued with, “It was a gag gift, for my birthday, and I was bringing it to the office. Truthfully, I didn’t realize that it was turned on, and I didn’t touch you deliberately.” He hesitated, and spread his hands as he added, “But I’m glad I…” He shook his head.
     “That’s neither here nor there. The idea is that nearly every romance novel talks about the heroine feeling an electric tingle when the perfect man comes into view, or touches her. So by wearing a static generator that gives a continuous tingle to whoever touches you, it’s supposed to trigger a conditioned reaction and the woman will instantly fall in love… I…well, I never expected it to, well…” He made a noncommittal gesture of the hands.
     Shit. And she had dutifully, and enthusiastically played her part. I am an idiot. It was so stupid. One tiny electric shock and she was tearing off his clothing, and… Oh my God, I can still taste the man! And all because of an electric shock? Am I that stupid? The answer was yes. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
     Apparently, her expression showed her mood because he said, “I’m sorry, Stephanie. I…well, if it helps, I think you’re beautiful, and had we not bumped together, I wouldn’t have had the nerve to talk to you…though I wanted to. And you’re also—” He stopped for a moment, then blew out his breath before saying, “Also amazing. And for that you have my gratitude.”
     He remembered her name. That was probably a plus. And he was more of a gentleman than she deserved, because he was bending to pick up the condom she hadn’t realized he’d used. And the scent of her was on his breath—while memory of how he’d acquired that scent served to ameliorate her mood.
     He gestured for her to select her floor, and then pushed the control that restored the car to service. He tapped for his own floor, saying. “I’d like to take the time to really apologize, and maybe make amends, but I have a meeting I can’t skip, at eight.” He hesitated for a beat, before adding, “I know this is sort of backward, but would you meet me for a beer or something after work, to…well, to get to know each other?” The door to his floor opened, and he stepped to where his body would block the opening and keep the door from closing, as he added, “I won’t pressure you. I’ll just be in the lobby at five. If you walk by, or use the back stairs, I won’t bother you again.” There was a wistful quality to his voice as he stepped clear of the doors and added, “But I’d really like it if you’d gave me a chance to show I’m not the bastard I seem to be.” And with that the doors slid shut and he was gone.
     The car hummed into motion. Headed upward.
     Did that really happen? She sniffed. Obviously, it had. And the traces of afterglow that still brought warmth agreed that it had. In all, it was one hell of a first date. And she, certifiably, was an idiot. But… He was a gentleman. And he had protected her against her own stupidity—and cleaned up after himself. That had to count.
     In the end, as she made herself presentable for a day at the office she studied her reflection. He said he thought her beautiful. But if she was, that beauty wasn’t apparent—though attractive wasn’t out of the question. So maybe…
     For a moment, as she settled in at her desk she looked around, at the other desks. If only they knew how I started my day. She stifled a laugh, and reached for the first folder, the Hapwood case. Maybe an hour over a beer or two would make sense. He’d certainly had an impressive audition.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Author’s Note:
     This was something I’ve been planning to write for some time. I remembered that plan each time I did a critique of a romance in which the female protagonist reacts to the clichéd “electric shock” that comes when the male lead shows up. Today a bit of free time and the idea coincided, and you’ve just read the result.
     My plan for Stephanie was a bit cynical, in that the male in question was to be a bastard who used the “tickler” as a quick shortcut to sex. But in the end, she seemed a nice, and likable, if a bit overly enthusiastic and cooperative person. But she was honest, and deserving, so since poetic justice demanded that Frank be better than a sexual preditor…
     And if my little story pleased you, I’m glad. There are other stories posted, as well. You and others like you are the reason I write. If it did bring a moment of reading pleasure, take a moment to rate it. Feedback matters to me. And if you’re in the mood for something a bit longer. make a stop to look at my novels, and read the excerpts to see if they please, as well
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Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Short Story


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