Thursday, January 31, 2019
Samantha Summer works at a health club. Nearly 40, she's lonely and alone, especially since her sister just married a man who was dating Samantha. Slightly hungover, she isn't expecting to meet the man of her dreams.
The club was fairly empty. The early morning crowd was gone and it would be a couple hours before the next rush. It was 7:58 and my client was already there.
His back was too me, so I could take in details without him noticing. Six feet tall, broad shouldered, good physique, dark brown hair, a couple tattoos that were slightly obscured by the hair on his forearms.
"Hello," I said as energetically as I could muster.
He jumped, turning to face me. I was struck by the clear, incredibly vivid blue eyes. No, not blue—aquamarine. He smiled, flashing a face full of brilliant whites at me.
"Hank Winter," he said, holding out his hand. He had a slight accent, adding flavor to his name.
I giggled. Not something I'm prone to, but his name made me laugh.
Hank frowned slightly."Did I say something funny?"
"No... no." I cleared my throat, suppressing the laughter bubbling up inside. "Samantha Summer."
He chuckled, his blue eyes twinkling with mirth. "You're kidding."
"God's truth." I raised my hand like I was taking an oath.
"All we need are two more seasons and we'll have a full set."
"We've got an Autumn on the staff and a man named Springer who works out."
"There ya go! We need to get together for dinner."
I paused, wondering if he was serious. I chose to think it was a joke, but I got an odd vibe from him. Not a bad one, just—odd.
"Well, let's get started before it gets too busy," I suggested.
"Sure. No problem." He took a step back, shy and embarrassed. "Been awhile since I worked out. I need to get back in the swing."
"Have you used Nautilus equipment before?"
"Yeah. All the time."
"Great! Then this will be a quick refresh."
I got his paperwork together and showed him around. Most of the machines were familiar. A couple he'd never used. Regardless of his experience, I'm required by club policy to demonstrate everything. He watched me, nodding as I spoke. When it came time for his turn, he shocked me with the amount of weight he could lift without effort.
"I used to do more," he admitted, slapping his belly. "But after eighteen months off, I'm soft."
"Have you been ill?" I was concerned. I need to know if my clients have health issues.
His face clouded. "No. My wife."
"Oh, I'm sorry."
"She died six months ago."
"I'm very sorry." I patted his hand. "It must be very hard."
"You married?" Hank blinked quickly, eyes full of tears.
"No." For once, I was ashamed of the lack.
Here was a man obviously suffering and I had no idea the amount of pain he endured. Never having had anyone at the center of my life, I couldn't even imagine his loss.
"I'm so sorry," I whispered, wanting to cry too.
"But, you move on," he said, forcing himself to smile. "So. How about this beastie?" He patted the ab machine fondly. "Been awhile since I saw you, my old friend."
"We'll whip you back into shape," I promised.
Unlike many of my clients, I knew it wouldn't take him long. He was obviously a man who knew how to stay fit. Even without a regular exercise routine, he was in excellent shape.
I set the machine for myself and showed him how to operate it. He grinned the entire time and looked anxious to get to work. I let him take over, watching as he upped the weight.
"You sure you can handle that much?" I teased.
"It'll probably kill me, but I miss my abs." He slapped his belly.
He started working the machine and his shirt crept up as he moved. If he'd gotten soft, what had he looked like before? I've seen a lot of hard bodies in my time, but his.... Wow!
I purposely distracted myself by greeting some of the of the regulars as they dribbled in. Most of them are elderly, but some are people about my age—all of them married. Since school was out for the summer, a handful of teenagers came in, greeting me.
Hank finished, standing up with a grin. "That felt great!" His accent was more pronounced. It took a moment, but I finally placed it.
"You noticed!" He flashed another toothy grin. "As hard as I've worked to rid myself of it, it never quite goes away." His accent broadened more and I knew he did it on purpose.
"My aunt is from Drumsallie."
"No, she's not! I'm from Kinlocheil!"
"I've been there! She took me for a visit when I graduated from high school. In fact, my first...." I stopped talking immediately.
Way to embarrass yourself, Samantha.
The teenage boys stared at me, waiting.
"First—taste of whisky—was in Scotland," I finished lamely, trying to hide my blush behind my hand.
Hank leaned over, grinning, as he whispered. "Nice save, Samantha." His breath was warm on my burning cheek. He smelled fresh like a Scottish Highland morning.
© 2019 Dellani Oakes
Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Jed McMurtry is a police officer, who is recuperating from a knife wound, sustained in the line of duty. Strange things start to happen, not the least of which is finding out that someone has been watching his house. The last thing he's expecting is to meet Cora Surrey.
He woke in a cold sweat to the sound of someone knocking on his front door. Stiff and uncomfortable, he slipped on a pair of gym shorts and hobbled to the living room. Whoever it was hadn't stopped knocking.
"I'm coming!" he bellowed. "Give it a fucking rest!" Usually, only his brother or cousins made that much noise. The knocking continued. "Jesus, what's the problem?" He flung open the door without paying attention.
A tall blonde nearly slapped him in the face. She looked angry and Jed was at a loss to know who she was. It wasn't one of Vivica's cousins. He knew them all with varying degrees of familiarity and was on good terms with them. This woman looked as if she wanted to rip his lungs out through his anus.
"May I help you?"
"I hope to God so. Are you Jed?"
"Yeah. Who are you?"
"Milly's granddaughter, Cora. I've got a bone to pick with you."
"Can it wait? I just woke up. I need to rock a serious piss. Sit." He pointed to the couch.
Cora hesitated on the threshold before following him inside. She slammed his door shut with an impressive thud. Jed went to the small bathroom a few feet away. When he came back out, she was still standing by the door, tapping her foot impatiently. Jed nodded to her and wandered into the kitchen. Cora stalked after him.
"Excuse me! I want to talk to you."
"Talk in here. I need coffee. You want?" He held up the pot.
Cora's frown turned puzzled. "Don't you want to know why I'm here?"
"I figure you'll get to it. In the meantime, you woke me up. I didn't sleep very well and I need caffeine. Have a seat." He nodded to the table and wandered, still shirtless and barefoot, to the coffee pot.
Cora didn't speak while he went through the routine of preparing his coffee. He poured two mugs, added cream and sugar and brought them to the table. He grimaced as he sat. Cora's expression changed from angry to concerned when she saw him flinch. Jed took a gulp of his coffee and waited for her to speak. She took a tentative sip, followed by another, before riveting him with her glare.
"Did you know Grandma is holed up in her master bedroom closet?"
Jed arched an eyebrow. "No. And?"
"She said you told her to do it!"
Jed frowned, reviewing conversations he'd had with Milly. "Nope. I told her to find a spot in the house where she felt safe, but I didn't specifically say she was to hide in the closet."
"But she said...!"
Jed held up his hand as if directing traffic. Amazingly, Cora stopped talking.
"Your grandmother has been uneasy since Bear died. She called me at three o'clock one morning in full freak out mode. I told her to find a safe spot and wait until I called her. I'm guessing that the closet represents that to her. I never told her to stay there."
Cora's face softened. "I guess I owe you an apology," she admitted with a slight laugh.
Jed raised an eyebrow.
"I said some awful things."
Jed shook his head, confused. Cora tilted her head from side to side.
"While you were in the bathroom," she added.
"So, you slandered an injured man? Wow, you're kinda cruel, Miss Cora."
She laughed hard, throwing back her head. Her long, blonde curls fell around her face and shoulders in a sunny waterfall. Her green eyes sparkled as she giggled. "Oh, I'm a total bitch. I came over here to rip you a new asshole."
Jed glanced behind himself, rising from his chair as he looked at his ass. "I don't need another one. This one works fine. Thanks, though. I know who to call if it ever stops up."
"I can't tell you how pissed off I was when I got over here."
"Did Milly tell you what I do for a living?"
Cora shook her head.
"I'm a cop. Believe me, I could tell."
© 2019 Dellani Oakes
Thursday, January 24, 2019
Amanda Bitterson works as a substitute teacher. This particular day, she's subbing at the high school. She has a problem with one of the students, but another teacher, a handsome man, intervenes. At lunch, they meet up again.
She sat on a planter in the courtyard, enjoying the sunshine on her shoulders. Someone approached from her left, but the sun was in her eyes, so she couldn't see details until he sat down. It was her rescuer from earlier.
"Hi." He smiled, extending his hand. "Large pizza, extra cheese, pepperoni, bacon and pineapple. I'm Derrick Butler."
"I thought you looked familiar! I'm Amanda Bitterson. Do you work here?"
He laughed, tossing his blond hair out of his eyes. "Not exactly. I'm visiting from Australia. Might have noticed?" He put on an exaggerated Aussie accent.
"No, not really. We didn't talk much last night."
"True, that. So, shit for brains giving you trouble, eh?"
"He would have, except for you. Thank you. He had me pretty scared."
"Never show fear of the enemy," he said with a chuckle.
"I was more afraid I was going to break something," she laughed. "It's reflex to knee a guy in the balls for grabbing a boob unless I want him to. I don't want to lose my job."
"Can't say I blame you. Besides, little shit's not worth it."
"So, you never said if you worked here or not."
"I'm mostly an observer." He shrugged, eating one of her potato chips. "It's an exchange program for instructors. Kind of like foreign exchange students. I've come for a semester to teach a class while a teacher from here works in mine. I hope he's having more fun than me."
"What do you teach?"
"History, mostly. Though, mind you, I'm only here for the surfing and the hot chicks."
"I'm team teaching with a guy who's near retirement. He doesn't even notice if I'm there or not, so I wander around having lunch with beautiful women after rescuing them from horny football players."
Amanda laughed, covering her mouth with her fingers so she wouldn't spew her food.
"Though there's no one to save them from horny Australian history teachers. Pity that."
"Who says they want to be saved?"
He raised an eyebrow. "You drink coffee?"
"What?" She was puzzled by his abrupt subject change.
"Do you," he pointed at her. "Drink coffee?" He mimed drinking from a cup.
"Want to have coffee with me later? My treat. I even have American money."
"I'd like that. Thanks."
"Cool! Can we make it right after school? I have to deliver pizzas again this evening."
"Sure. That'd be great."
"I'll meet you by your classroom then." He was gone as suddenly as he'd arrived.
Amanda had never met anyone quite like Derrick Butler before. He completely took her breath away, bouncing in and out of her life like a beach ball. He was unlike any other men she knew. Somehow that was comforting.
The last two hours of school passed Amanda in a blur. As soon as the last student handed in the essay, she set out what she would need for the next day, waiting for Derrick. He tapped on her door a few minutes later.
"Got hung up in the classroom. Mr. Snooze wants me to teach tomorrow."
"He's not really named Snooze, is he?"
Derrick laughed, placing his hand at the small of her back as he opened the outer door, letting her precede him.
"No. His name is Murray, but he's a real snooze. I'm actually looking forward to class tomorrow. I get to talk about my favorite subject."
"Besides myself and beautiful blondes? I wax virtually poetic on the subject of my homeland. He's asked me to talk about the settling of Australia by the Brits."
"I see. Fascinating! I'd like to hear that."
"Sweet! Come by during your free period and listen in."
"I'd like that. I know very little about Australian history. Ned Kelly and prisoners, that's about it."
"Oh, love, what I could teach you!"
Amanda laughed, thinking there was a lot more than Australian history couched in that remark, but she didn't draw attention to it. She liked Derrick a lot, finding his boyish enthusiasm refreshing. She wasn't all that experienced in love, but her last boyfriend had burned her badly before dumping her for someone new.
© 2019 Dellani Oakes
Sorsha drives a horse and carriage in St. Augustine. One night, a man stumbles into her carriage and passes out. Not able to shift him, and unsure what to do with him, she drives back to her home, leaving him in the carriage. Later that night, she hears a noise....
A tall man sat on her couch, holding his head. Dark, silvered hair was cropped close to his scalp. He was broad of shoulder, narrow hipped, well muscled, but lean. Over six feet, he made her feel small in comparison. She might be smaller, but she wasn't entirely helpless. Squaring her shoulders boldly, she walked around where she could face him. Back to the big screen TV, facing her kitchen, and the man, she held up the can and waited. Slowly, he raised his head, his startling azure eyes widening slightly in alarm. He waved large, long fingered hands slowly.
"You've nothing to fear from me," he promised quietly. "But perhaps you could tell me where I am and how I got here? I woke to the smell of horse."
Sorsha perched on the arm of a chair across from him. The pepper spray was lowered, but still clutched in her hand. "You fell in my carriage. I couldn't budge you, so I left you downstairs."
"You didn't call 9-1-1?"
"Perhaps I should have, but I don't know a thing about you and, to be honest, I didn't want to get stuck with a bill. You weren't bleeding and you were still breathing...."
He chuckled, nodding. His eyes registered pain and he winced. "Lord have mercy, what did they slip me?"
"Someone drugged you?"
"Aye. Wish I knew who."
"Where were you?"
She nodded, easing onto the chair rather than staying on the arm. The pepper spray went on the TV stand behind her. "Do you think someone there drugged you?"
"It's the only place I've been. You mean—one of the staff?" He considered that a moment. "Doubtful. I know them all. It's unlikely."
"The man I was living with stole everything I owned. Even if you know someone, doesn't mean they won't screw you over."
"Good point. Could I get a coffee? Then I'll be out of your hair."
"And go where? Someone drugged you. They either intended to kidnap or kill you. You can't go back anywhere you're known."
The blinked slowly. She could almost hear his mind working as he puzzled over that.
"Good point. Though I'll have to go out tomorrow morning. I've a package to deliver and it's locked up." He clamped his lips shut, realizing he was about to say too much.
"Let's get that coffee." She led him to the kitchen where she set up her French press pot. She set out mugs while the water boiled in an electric pot. "Start with something simple. I'm Sorsha."
His blue eyes widened in surprise.
"I looked at your license. Thought I could take you home."
He nodded. "Sometimes."
Her eyes held a question.
"Northwest Florida." She pointed at herself. "Horse country."
The coffee was ready. She pushed the plunger down and poured them each a steaming cup. James added sugar. Sorsha added cream and sugar to the nearly black brew.
"Now, the question vibrating in the air between us—why would someone drug you? An angry ex? A cuckolded husband?"
James chuckled, shaking his head. "Nothing like that. Haven't had a woman in weeks." Blushing slightly, he found the contents of his cup very interesting. "Been working. Needed to be clear headed."
"Professional athlete?" Head tilted, she raised an eyebrow.
Topaz eyes riveted him to his seat.
He laughed loudly. "No. Truth?"
"I'm a thief. A very good thief."
"And what do you steal? The hearts of women?"
"Jewels, mostly. The odd piece of art. I take others when someone has a job of particular discretion."
"Oh, my God! You aren't kidding!" She backed away. "You wouldn't have told me if you intended to let me live." She clutched the top of her robe and edged toward the TV stand.
James watched her, amusement in his brilliant blue eyes. "If I intended to kill you, Sorsha, you'd be dead and none the wiser. If I'd wanted to run out without saying thank you, I'd have left as soon as I woke up. You saved me when I needed your help and I wanted to extend my appreciation. And use your restroom, if you wouldn't mind. I had a few ciders and they've gone right through me. Then I'll be out of your hair."
"You can't leave. What if they followed you? I can't be here alone!"
He hadn't thought of that, she could see it in his face.
"And you shouldn't be out on the street if they're looking for you. This place is surrounded by an eight foot, wrought iron fence with a top of the line alarm system. It's not fool proof, but it's better than being out on your own." She pointed to his left. "Bathroom."
He shut the door behind him, resisting the urge to lock himself inside. He'd been a thief almost thirty years. He'd dodged police in a dozen countries, outsmarted Interpol on more than one occasion, but the idea that there was some unknown person on his trail, terrified him.
© 2019 Dellani Oakes
Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Draven Wick is a famous actor in a supernatural drama. Back to Daytona for the first time in 10 years, he's startled to see someone he recognizes
Startled by the noise, the girl lost her balance as she rolled out of the shoulder stand. Toppling, she fell. Draven leaped toward her, covering the ten feet to the cycles, in a superhuman rush. He steadied her, helping her sit up slowly. Getting a good look at her face, he felt a spark of recognition.
"Jamie Humphrey?" He touched her cheek, brushing her hair from the corner of her full, red lips.
"Draven Wick? Oh my God! Is it really you?" She clung to him, hugging him tightly. "How many years has it been? Ten?"
"About that. God, you look fantastic!"
Clasping his face, she gazed into his golden hazel eyes. "Thank you for catching me."
"You're welcome. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. Thanks."
Others had gathered around, watching the scene unfold. When it became apparent that the woman wasn't hurt, the men at the desk went back to selling tickets.
"That's not really your dad," Draven murmured.
"Of course not. He just says that so that men will leave me alone."
"How about fair time for the women?" a heavyset woman called from the line. "Let's see the hunk take his shirt off!" She whooped.
Women all over the parking lot cheered and whistled. Draven cast a saucy look at Jamie. The music had changed once more, pounding out Closer by Nine Inch Nails—the unedited version, he noted with a grin. Grabbing the bottom of his shirt, he raised it with agonizing slowness as his hips gyrated to the sexy music. Jamie played it up, running her hands under the shirt, rubbing his abs and tugging on the cloth with her teeth.
More cameras snapped and the women yelled loudly, screaming at him to take it all off. As he did a lecherous bump and grind, Draven strutted around the bike. Between the two cycles, he twirled his shirt, then straddled it. Riding it like a hot woman, he continued to dance.
Jamie moved behind him, and ran her hands up and down his tight abs and hard thighs. Spinning to face her, Draven roped Jamie with his shirt, pulling her close to dirty dance with him. The song ended and he spun her under his arm, dropping her into a low dip, her back arched, breasts high. Red hair tickled the pavement as he raised her with one arm. Faces mere inches apart, they tried to catch their breath. It took some time before they realized that the line was now three times what it had been. Women ringed around them, waving money at Draven.
"You grew up nice, Wick," Jamie said, taking a step back. Her hand drifted down his chest to the top of his jeans. Eyes wide with delight, she dangled her fingers by his zipper. With tantalizing deliberateness, she touched the fabric that strained across his throbbing member.
"You keep that up, I can't be held responsible…" he whispered.
"You keep that up, I can't be, either," she replied.
"I really wanna kiss you, Jamie."
"On the bike," she suggested. "I get paid a percentage of what they bring in."
Laughing, he picked her up and put her on the motorcycle, facing the rear, straddling the engine. Draven took his time swinging one long, muscular, jean-clad leg over the seat. Scooting him forward with her feet, Jamie wrapped her legs around his waist. Laying her back, Draven teased and coaxed her mouth, his tongue tickling her lips. With a decisive lunge, he raised his body, grasped the handlebars and kissed her. Until that moment, Jamie had thought his antics were all for show. A consummate performer, he knew how to work a crowd. But that kiss wasn't pretending, and the rock hard bad boy in his pants wasn't a prop.
He didn't linger over the kiss. His timing was, as always, superb. Leaning back, Draven swung his leg off the cycle, standing in one fluid motion as he held out his hand to her. The crowd went wild. The men at the table had to scramble to accommodate the line, bringing in extra help.
Draven stood near Jamie, hoping to kiss her again. Instead, everyone wanted pictures with them and the bikes. Most of them gave tips, some wanted autographs. They all wanted them to kiss. Draven worked the crowd, giving them just enough to keep them asking for more.
"Do you think any of them recognize you?" Jamie asked, her smile toothy and wide.
"Doubt it. I'm out of context."
"Won't they shit when they figure it out?"
He chuckled, kissing her cheek by request. "Right in their pants. You smell amazing," he said, nuzzling her neck all on his own.
A dozen cameras clicked.
"I've missed you, Jamie."
Shivering, she held his face as directed, giving him a kiss. "Me, too."
They straddled the bike again, with her in front, holding the handlebars. His long, sinewy thighs clenched against hers from behind.
"Is that a yes or no? I don't speak Biker Babe anymore."
"No one steady."
"Does he think that?"
Jamie blushed, turning her head to look at him. "Why all the questions, Wick? Got some burning desire to know all my secrets?"
Draven nibbled her neck, cheating the angle a little, so he was still camera ready. "I've got a burning desire, Humphrey, but it isn't about your secrets."
© 2019 Dellani Oakes
Thursday, January 17, 2019
Natasha had been looking through every bin and basket in the music store for a specific CD. Just as she reached for it, a long arm attached to a large, male hand snagged it away from her.
"Hey!" she bellowed over the pounding heavy funk metal, post-grunge bass line. "That's mine!" Furious and fuming, she turned to face the owner of the offending member, her face nearly as red as her hair.
The tall, dark skinned young man looked somewhat abashed. "I'm sorry, I've been looking for this CD for over an hour."
"So have I. Close to two. Could I have it back, please?"
Reluctantly, he handed the CD to her. "Do you see another copy of it?"
"No, this is the only one."
"It's either very popular or very obscure," he complained. "I've been looking for weeks. This is the only store in town that carries it."
"What about a special order?"
He shook his head. "I haven't asked, I don't know." Shyness suddenly enveloped him and he ducked his head away from her.
"We can ask," she smiled, somewhat ashamed by her outburst.
"No, really, it's not necessary. I'll get it another time."
"It's no trouble, really. Come." She beckoned with her head for him to follow. "I'm here all the time. They know me well. If they can order it for me, you can have this one."
"Thanks." His face brightened slightly as he followed her to the desk.
Trying not to attract attention to himself, he walked behind her. He shot furtive glances around the crowded shop looking for hardened faces. So far he hadn't seen any, but it was only a matter of time before they caught up with him. Enjoying a few minutes of freedom, he followed the young woman to the counter.
* * *
She paid him for her CD while the dark haired man bought his from Beebe. He turned to her with a shy smile on his lips.
"Thank you." His voice was deep and melodic, a hint of an accent in his pronunciation.
"You're welcome." She smiled up at him. "I'm Natasha," she held out her hand to him. "But some folks call me Tasha."
"I'm Billy," his mouth had trouble with the unfamiliar name. "At least that's as close as most people get. I am forever in your debt, Natasha."
Getting a good look at him now, she decided he was quite possibly the best looking man she had ever seen. His dark hair fell nearly to his shoulders, framing a swarthy face. His eyes were so brown they looked black, giving them a depth of emotion she had never seen before. Deciding that he was probably not going to ask her out, she would have to do it for him. Determined to get to know him better, she grabbed his hand tugging him toward the door. Caught by surprise, Billy followed her, a worried frown on his face.
"Is something wrong? Where are we going?" They approached the door and Billy applied the brakes suddenly, nearly knocking her off balance. "I insist you tell me where you are taking me." His voice was strained, tight.
"For a cup of coffee, silly. What, did you think I was trying to kidnap you?"
A flicker of fear flashed in his eyes. Natasha eyed him warily. Maybe it was a bad idea, but she thought suddenly that Billy looked as if he needed a friend.
"A cup of coffee, Billy. I'm sorry, I've upset you."
"No," he looked out the front window, eyes never stopping as he searched for something. "A cup of coffee would taste good. It's very cold here." He shivered as the door opened. "I'm not used to the cold."
"Come on." She tugged his hand again. "I'll take you to my favorite coffee shop. My cousin owns it."
"Is there a back door?" he asked with another glance out the window.
"Here? Yes. Are you sure you're all right?"
"Perfect." He grinned, but there was worry behind it. "Let us proceed to the coffee shop, Tasha."
© 2019 Dellani Oakes
Ianna works as a bartender while she goes to college, as an art major. She hasn't got a very high opinion of herself, but meeting as special guy, helps her gain the confidence she needs.
The music played a syncopated, staccato rhythm, a little loud, but it was a song I liked. It was Sunday night, so the bar was slow, just a dribble of regulars. Maybe Mitch would close up early and I could go home. I was dead tired and my feet hurt. Not that I minded tending bar on Mindy's night off, but my tips were better waiting tables than they were at the bar.
"Last call, folks!" Mitch read my mind and was closing up.
There were groans and complaints, but it was getting on towards midnight, everyone was ready to leave anyway. The door opened and a man walked quickly in. It was pouring outside, he was drenched, his long, dark hair sticking to him in damp tendrils.
"Sorry, buddy, I'm about to close." Mitch said politely.
The young man straightened up and looked surprised. "My car broke down. I just need a phone, maybe a cup of coffee?"
Mitch nodded at me and I got the bar phone, setting it on the counter.
"How do you take your coffee?" I asked him, pot and mug in hand.
He looked startled, then hesitated before responding. "I take it light, extra sweet."
His grin lit his face, but his eyes held something I couldn't read. I saw myself reflected there and thought I looked like the wrath of God. How must I appear to him? Short, plump, frizzy, light brown hair and blue eyes. I have freckles scattered over my nose, and my skin is a little too pale since I spend so much time inside.
I fixed the coffee and set it in front of him while he made his call. He put his hand over the receiver. "Thank you," he said quietly. "I hate voice mail. What's your name?"
I chuckled and pointed to my name tag. He squinted at my chest and laughed. "For real?" I nodded. "Wow, I thought maybe you just made it up to dissuade assholes like me."
"I get that sort of thing a lot," I replied. "Having a name like mine...." I began shyly.
But he was talking on the phone. It must have been a friend, not Triple A because he used too familiar a tone. He hung up and handed me the phone, a disgusted look on his face.
"Got a number for a cab?"
"Yes, we used Barbosa's most of the time if someone is too drunk to drive home." I dialed the number for him.
He talked to the dispatcher and hung up again, handing me a five dollar bill. I went to give him change, coffee's only seventy-five cents, but he waved it away.
"Thanks, I really appreciate it."
He glanced around taking in the rest of the room. The bar isn't very big, full of the typical neon beer signs and motorcycle memorabilia, photos of famous people who have stopped in, that sort of thing. The basic motif is supposed to be like an old English pub, but the place has changed owners so many times that it's taken on this sort of lost child look. Everything from fishing nets and fake crabs on one wall, facing a lighthouse mural on the opposite wall.
Behind the bar is a large mirror and lots of fancy wooden scroll work. The wall across from it, which I have to look at the entire time I'm back there, is a larger than life nude painting of a woman with unnaturally large boobs. It's really disgusting subject matter, although I can appreciate the skill with which it was done. My college major is art with an emphasis in drawing and photography. This bar job was my main source of income since my dad got divorced for the third time and can't afford to pay for my school anymore.
I got busy cleaning up behind the bar and the regulars were starting to say their goodbyes, drifting out the door in pairs, chatting happily. Soon it was only me, Mitch and the young man. He looked at his watch.
"If I'm keeping you from closing, I'll wait outside for my cab. The guy said it would be ten minutes."
"The weather has slowed 'em down," Mitch said. "You stay inside this weather ain't fit to be out in. Me and Anna don't mind. It's not like it's that late."
I noticed Mitch did not leave me alone with the guy and he didn't take out the till to start his nightly count either. In fact, he was eyeing him rather dubiously. I had never seen him look at anyone like that before.
"So, you got a name?" he asked the young man.
"Yeah, I do." He cracked a sarcastic grin at Mitch.
The comment was wasted on my boss, he's too literal minded and hasn't got much of a sense of humor if the punch line to a joke isn't sexual or sports oriented.
"Reed," he said when it became apparent Mitch wanted an answer. "Reed Owens."
"You from around here?" Mitch never was like this with a customer, I was beginning to worry a little bit.
"Used to be awhile back."
"You look kinda familiar."
Reed glanced away, gazing out the window. He was starting to look uncomfortable, a little line of red rising from his collar.
"I have that kind of a face."
Which wasn't true. He was really attractive, ruggedly handsome, skin tanned to a rich red bronze. His dark hair was drier now and came to his shoulders, sleek and straight, pushed back from his forehead. He had a very pronounced widow's peak and his dark eyes and sharp features gave him almost a hawk like aspect to his face. He was easily the best looking man I've ever seen.
© 2019 Dellani Oakes
Amanda Sharp walked down the street in her fancy, new red shoes. They cost a bundle, but the young woman was determined to look her best at her job interview. With a special spring in her step, she rounded the corner and ran into a man. Knocked back a step, she stumbled. He caught her by the elbows, setting her on her feet once more.
What a nightmare! Amanda thought. Now I'll be late for my appointment.
The man apologized and pulled the door open for her. He was really quite handsome. Distracted by his good looks, she didn't pay careful attention to where she was going. She caught the pocket of her jacket on the door. It swung shut, hitting her big toe. Her foot exploded with pain and she cursed inadvertently.
Worried that she was seriously hurt, the man helped her to a chair. Once he was assured she was alright, he excused himself.
"I apologize, but I have an appointment in five minutes. Are you sure you're okay?"
Amanda, who was now surrounded by everyone in the office, told him she was fine.
"I'll check on you later," he promised. "I'll return after my appointment."
Amanda examined her beautiful new shoes after the man left. They were scuffed and dirty. Fortunately, they had taken the impact, protecting her foot, or she would have seriously injured her toe. Distressed, she almost didn't hear when the receptionist called her name.
"Oh, that's me," she said. "Sorry."
Walking into the office, a familiar face greeted her. The man she'd collided with stepped forward with a smile.
"Either you need to be more careful or I do," he said with a grin. "Congratulations. You're hired."
"You don't want to read my resume? Ask questions?" Amanda was stunned that she had the job so quickly.
"I read it over on the way here. I learned everything I need to know about you during our incident."
Amanda blushed. "You learned that I'm easily distracted, clumsy and—"
"Curse like a truck driver. Yes," he mused.
Amanda's breath caught in her throat. He had the most stunning blue eyes she'd ever seen. Surrounded by thick, black lashes, they gave him a dreamy, sleepy look. She felt herself slipping and only by shear will did she avoid falling into those bottomless blue depths.
"Please, have a seat before I take you to the Personnel Office."
"You don't call it Human Resources here?" Again, the man puzzled her.
He chuckled, full lips forming an amused pout. "No. Why call it something so silly? It's the Personnel Office and the lady in charge is Personnel Manager. We don't have fancy titles here. I'm the boss, the people out there are my employees and you'll be my secretary. How does that sound?"
"Wonderful!" Amanda kicked herself inwardly for sounding like such an excitable little girl. Sure she was blushing, she ducked her head.
"Perhaps I should introduce myself," her new boss said. "I'm Trent Harmon." He held out his hand.
"The Boss," she murmured, taking his hand.
"The Boss," he repeated with a smirk. Tipping his head, he motioned toward the door. "I'll escort you to Personnel. The hallways are rather like a rabbit warren here. It's temporary digs until our remodel on the second floor is finished."
"Are you expanding?" She followed him, not feeling it was her place to walk next to him.
"You might call it that."
Trent turned to face her, walking backward. The others in the office moved to avoid him, some teasing him for not looking where he was going. He took their jibes in good stride, smiling as he went.
"I learned a long time ago that people work better when you give them space. If they're squished in like sardines, allowed no privacy, they are less productive. While we've been crammed in here, our efficiency has dropped by five percent."
"Don't you worry about them surfing the web, accessing porn?"
His lips formed the amused pout once more. "Not really. We have a very sophisticated internet alarm system. If someone tries to access something they shouldn't, it goes off. I don't mind a few minutes of surfing on their breaks, but they log that time. There are sites our firewalls restrict, such as those known to harbor viruses."
He chuckled again. "Yes. You seem very attached to that subject. Do you, in fact, scan porn sites in your off time?" His sarcastic tone held more than a hint of amusement.
They'd reached the Personnel Office. Amanda realized she had no idea how they'd gotten there. If she had to find her way back out, she'd get irreparably lost.
"No, of course not!" Her blush set her cheeks on fire.
Trent's amusement didn't help. He knew he'd embarrassed her, but she'd set herself up. Instead of shying away from it, she faced him boldly.
"No. As a matter of fact, it was my former boss who used to do so. Then he'd call me in for a meeting and have his screen tipped so I could see it reflected in the window behind his desk or, if he felt really naughty, directly from where I sat."
"What a lecherous old cod," he said gruffly, frowning deeply as he opened the door for her.
© 2019 Dellani Oakes
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