©Neville Goedhals 2007. Visit my site at: www.NevilleGoedhals.com

Three’s a Crime

 

By

 

Chris Cardin

Wendi Christner

Neville C Goedhals

 

  

Chapter 1:

Desiree – Wednesday, 12:30 p.m.

 

Seduction is what I was born to do, what I understand, like Pythagoras knew angles. When it comes to human relations, I see the openings and the opportunities, and have a knack for knowing what people want, what they need. I know how to maneuver through the tangled ropes people tie themselves up in. Young lovers, old flames, newly smitten, once bitten, and twice shy, they’re all the same. I’m their guide, telling them it’s okay to want what they want and not to feel ashamed when they get it. I hold their hand when they’re too afraid to take the first step. In return, the customers that come into my store have kept me focused, reminding me not to forget about my own desires.

My birthday was another reminder. I wasn’t getting any younger, and it was finally time to go after what I wanted. Watching the rain slide in sheets down the storefront window, I took one last drag, crushed the ember in a small plastic ashtray on the sill, and let the smoke escape through my nose like a dragon.

Wednesday was delivery day, and I held the door open while the UPS man dashed to and from the back of his truck in his brown rain slicker.

He set down the last box and presented me with his clipboard. “You must sell a lot of this stuff huh?”

“You’d be surprised.”

“If you ever bump into my wife, point out that one,” he said with a grin.

He was eying a headless anorexic mannequin modeling the latest in high-end sex togs, red, of course. Men are drawn to red items, women to black. He wasn’t close enough to tell, but the one that had caught his eye had a rip-away feature.  Not something many women would buy; their fantasies didn’t include having clothes torn from their bodies.

“Tell her to stop by, or better yet bring her in.  Find something both of you like.”

From the look on his face I could tell he hadn’t considered the possibility of a joint venture. Not surprising. I signed for the shipment and he was off.

Over the years I’d learned that most of my customers were trying to hide a guilty affair, resuscitate a dying marriage, or promote wishful thinking—like the two-hundred-fifty pound lady who believed wearing a g-string underneath her garments would make her feel sexy enough to attract a partner. But she got it: you had to feel sexy before you could be sexy.

To be successful in a business like mine, you have to understand people. I knew better than to put half naked mannequins in the storefront.  Most of my clientele didn’t want to be seen going into one of ‘those’ establishments. The women who shop at my store pay forty dollars and up for a single pair of panties. From the sidewalk, passersby saw nothing but an inviting lounge area where I served tea on Saturday afternoons. A closer look would reveal a few scanty garments I’d thrown across the furniture to send the right message—‘If everything goes well you won’t be wearing these for long.’

So far, the weather had kept away everyone but the UPS man, so I unloaded the boxes, checked their contents against the packing slip and my invoice, and then put the papers in a neat stack by the register. This evening I would enter all the data into QuickBooks and enjoy a glass of wine. What a birthday!

I trotted off into one of the fitting rooms with a new lavender ensemble. The rain was coming down so hard, the deluge competed with the soft music I had playing.

The urge for another cigarette tugged at my nerves. After ten years of abstinence I’d picked up the vile habit again. I could blame Natalie and our failed relationship, but I knew I’d be using that as an excuse. I’d have to stop when I became pregnant.

The panties slid over my narrow hips and fit like a glove but were so light I still felt naked. I admired them in the mirror. Not bad for thirty-four. My thighs still didn’t touch at the top of my legs and muscles were still defined in all the right places. I held the bra up to my cheek. The color accentuated my dark brown hair.

The bells on the front door rang. I pulled my pants and shirt on without bothering with the bra. My B-cup was still firm enough to go without.

“Good afternoon,” I greeted a very attractive, well-heeled customer. I’d never waited on her before; I would have remembered. “How can I help you?”

She seemed a little out of her element, and avoided my eyes until I was right in front of her.  She faintly smiled, a thin veil that failed to hide her true emotions. The way her lips spread flat across her face told me everything I needed to know—her husband was neglecting her, possibly cheating.  I suspected the large rock on her finger had become more like an anchor than a symbol of love. The troubles that plagued the rich and beautiful never ceased to amaze me.

“I’d like a few minutes to browse.”

“If you need anything just shout, I’m Desiree, the owner.”

What was wrong with me? I never introduced myself as the owner. I retreated to the back of the store. While she perused the racks, I filled a serving tray with all the goodies usually served on Saturday afternoons when the place was elbow-to-elbow alongside the sale rack with customers eager to begin ‘date night.’ There was no denying it, I was interested in this woman.

I carried the tray to the table in front of the window. “Feel free to help yourself,” I called to her. Casually plopping down on the loveseat, I took a scone in the hope of encouraging her to join me.

She didn’t seem to notice. I grabbed a magazine and covertly watched her sort through the silk hangers. She was dressed in a long sleeve pullover with an open neckline that clung to her body, outlining a perfect physique. Black form-fitting slacks and Prada shoes completed her casually elegant look. She wandered over to the couture counter.

“I’d like to see something in the case please.”

“Of course.” I tossed the magazine aside and smiled.

I joined her at the display case and opened the drawer. “This is Japanese silk.” I told her, and placed the fine garments on the glass counter. “The embroidered pearls are natural, not cultured.”

Her voice was an elegant whisper. “May I try it on?”

She lifted the fine swatch of fabric; her perfect French manicured nails tapped the glass. Her hands looked soft but had the delicate muscles of someone who used them. Her bright violet eyes held mine for a moment, and I noticed two tiny lines ran from the corners.

“Fitting rooms are over here.” I led her to one of the three oversized dressing rooms designed to allow my customers to have the space they needed to move around and to see how the garments flattered their bodies. The mirrors were slightly concave to make the image look smaller, and the cushioned seats were low to the ground to accentuate the lines of the calf and to let the thigh hang instead of resting fully on the seat. But I bet the subtle enhancements would be lost on her. She was tall and thin with broad shoulders, like a tennis player.

I opened the door to the dressing room and stood aside. “If you need anything just press the button.”

Returning straight to the counter I looked for other items she might like—anything to keep her here. I considered locking the front door but dismissed the lecherous thought. I took a black thong of similar quality from the case just as the light for her fitting room lit up.

“Can I help you?” I asked.

She opened the door wearing the embroidered pearl bra and panties. Her body epitomized perfection of the female form. I couldn’t imagine anyone being immune to such a vision.

“I can’t figure out how these extra straps fit.” She held four hand knotted strands of lace in her palm.

“Let me.” I took one strand from her hand and fastened it underneath the right cup of her brassier. I could have gone straight to her panties to fasten the other end, but instead, held the lace and let slid it between my thumb and fingers the entire length to her waistband, letting her flesh brush against the back of my hand all the way. Her sculpted stomach was taut and soft. When I finished fastening the straps, I ran the tips of my fingers along the inside of the narrow elastic from one hip to the other, passing beneath her navel. “There we are. A perfect fit.” She’d had her bikini line removed. I’d definitely had worse birthdays.

#

At the counter she swiped her debit card. I took my time wrapping her items, reluctant to see her leave. 

“I ordered several pieces off the runway in Paris.  I’d be happy to call you when they arrive.” I picked up a pen ready to write down her name and number.

“Don’t trouble yourself. I’ll be sure to stop in again.” She turned and walked toward the door.

Like a cat quietly scurrying after its prey, I hurried to the settee. “Looks like it’s coming down harder than before. Would you like a cup of tea and wait it out?”

“Thank you,” she said. “That does sound like a good idea.”  She sat down in a chair across from the settee, placed her bags on the floor and tossed her long blond hair over her shoulder with a small movement of her head. Her smile was different this time, revealing her perfect and bright teeth. I was stunned, like I’d been hit with a searchlight on a pitch black night.

“How long have you owned this store?” she asked me.

Handing her a cup and saucer I replied, “Six years.”

If my intuition was right about her troubled love life, I found it difficult to believe any man could think he could do any better. She was pleasant, refined in her movements. She had a body sculpted with dollars and a face I imagined might have belonged to Helen of Troy.

She looked at the boxes piled by the register and sipped her tea. “Looks like you do well. You must enjoy what you do.”

I continued to move the spoon around in my cup. “I’ve owned a retail shop since I was eighteen. I started out selling head gear.”

She gave me a quizzical look.

“Tie-dyed shirts, bongs … Drug paraphernalia mostly.” I nervously tugged at my earlobe where there were three empty holes and changed the subject. “Your shoes are divine. Prada has a great idea every now and again.”

She raised a brow, probably surprised I recognized the designer.

“You will never guess where I found them. There’s a small shop, about the size of yours, on Decatur, called When All Else Fails. The name fits.”

“Wouldn’t be a bad name for my place either.”

She looked down at her feet, ignoring my humor, or perhaps embarrassed by the implications. “They have shoes from several designers,” she said. “The owner imports them directly and she goes out of her way to ensure that the lines are not carried by the local stores.”

My heart fell a little, I wasn’t special. She was used to striking up conversations with storekeepers.

She rested her cup in the saucer. “The rain has let up, looks like my opportunity. Thank you again.”

I watched her leave and wondered if I would be able to get her off my mind. An inner voice cautioned me. Life is perfect only when you’re masturbating.


Chapter 2:

Marcy – Wednesday, 1:00 p.m.

 

     The rain beat against the windshield.  I sat in the car outside Le Fleurs and debated whether to make a run for it or wait for the downpour to subside.  Shadows of raindrops slid down the damp shopping bags on the passenger seat.

     The lingerie boutique, Intimate Desires, had more to offer than I’d ever expected. The owner, Desiree, exuded natural beauty and quiet confidence. There was something about the way she looked at me, or maybe it was the tone of her voice.  She was sure to attract more men than a Hooter’s Invitational, and I had no doubt she could teach me anything I needed to know to keep my husband coming home at night.

     A couple of times I saw her confidence slip, fail her somehow, but she recovered quickly and with apparent ease. Perhaps that hint of vulnerability, those subtle tugs of the ear, or abruptly broken eye contact followed by an embarrassed smile was what drew men to her.  Men are wired to be providers, and I’d be willing to bet that any man in Desiree’s presence would be searching for an opportunity to provide her with whatever she might want. One of her millisecond episodes of exposure would be all the invitation a man might need.

     By the time I said goodbye to her, I had an assortment of beautifully fitting lingerie, a piece of newfound confidence, and a plan. Thanks to another woman, my husband was about to find out exactly how desired and needed he was—by his wife.

     Water raced along the gutters and poured into the sewer grates. The windows of the flower shop glowed against the grayness, and the dark sky gave no hope of another break in the weather.  I grabbed my umbrella and made a run for the door. 

     “Good afternoon,” a young man behind the counter called out in a voice as cheery as the daffodils shooting out of the vase he was arranging.  Two jasmine topiaries on either side of the door filled the shop with their perfume.

     “I’d like to pick up six dozen red roses.”

     “Oooh, sounds like a special day.  Let me see what I can do.”  He smiled and went into the storeroom.

Special indeed. This was going to be a night my husband would never forget. I’d take him back to our honeymoon; further than that even … to the beginning when we could truly become intoxicated from the dampness of one another’s skin.

Early on, our love affair consisted of endless teasing and touching—a mounting hunger, culminating into a frenzied feast of pure pleasure. There had been days when we’d barely made it out of bed before it was time to climb back in again. I could remember longing for him with frightening tenacity. There were times when no matter how long we made love, I couldn’t pull him close enough, couldn’t find an end for my need to feel him inside of me.

Moments like those hadn’t happened in years. I used to believe that was the natural progression of a marriage, the excitement wanes as the love deepens. To hell with that old-fashioned notion, I needed to feel fire on my skin as much as he did.

It was no wonder he’d been grabbing every bimbo in sight.  I needed to remind Jerome how it felt to be a man who was needed and wanted in all the ways a man should be, by the woman he’d fallen in love with.

     The florist brought the roses out in three long boxes.  “Anything else?”

     “Yes.  I’d like a single stem delivered to my husband’s office.” I pointed to the topiaries at the front of the store.  “And I’ll take both of those.”

     He raised his brows and handed me a pen and gift card.  “You better seal that good if you don’t want me to read it.”  He laughed.  “Must be the rain. Makes everybody just want to crawl into bed and never come out.”

     I penned on the card: dinner at home, 6:00, and handed it back to him unsealed. 

     “You’re too kind.” He laughed again and ran my card through the register.

     I stopped at the liquor store and the grocery. Then, drenched and shivering, I parked in front of the spa for my final stop. The salesgirl dodged puddles and hunkered under an umbrella to deliver my requested assortment of candles and massage oil, curbside.

A signature on the sales slip and I was on my way. Not even the torrential rain could dampen my optimism. This would mark the end of the downward curve in my marriage. I would give my husband all that he would ever need. We could reconnect, I was convinced of it. How could two people who had loved as hard as we had, lose that connection forever? Our passion could not irretrievable.

     At home, the initial preparations were easy enough. Jerome would arrive in three hours. I chilled the champagne, arranged the fruit and hors d’oeuvres on the silver server that had once held our wedding cake, then placed it in the refrigerator to keep fresh. Next came the more aesthetic preparations. Beside our bed I stood the two topiaries of blooming jasmine. I closed my eyes and let the fragrance take me back to the first night of our honeymoon. Mingled with the ocean breeze, the aroma of jasmine had drifted through the open windows of our bungalow and the rumble of the surf was soon muffled by the sounds of our desire.

     I dialed the white noise machine to a recording of crashing waves. The room was nearly perfect, but I wasn’t finished yet. I covered every surface with candles and ran a bath. While the tub filled, I pulled down the covers on the bed and beheaded the roses, deep red petals were soon spread over nearly every inch of the sheet.     I could have seduced my husband with less effort, but this wasn’t to be an ordinary seduction. I didn’t want to pull him back into our bed for an evening; he was coming back for good.

Arrangements had already been made for the children to go home with friends for sleepovers. The only thing left for me to do was make sure the evening lingered on his mind longer than just one night. Armed with jasmine scented linen spray, I went to his closet and sprayed every dress shirt he owned. And just in case he felt elated enough to forego the office the next day for a round of golf, I sprayed his golf shirts too. He may have forgotten what it was like to love me, but he was about to remember what it felt like to be loved.

With only half an hour to spare, I was bathed, primped to perfection and dressed in my irresistible new lingerie. I lit the room in the soft dancing glow of candlelight and hurried downstairs to tape another simple note to the entry door from the garage—our room. On my way through the kitchen I retrieved the serving dish and champagne from the refrigerator and carried them up the stairs. The cold silver numbed my hands, a small price to pay for the heat that would be generated when Jerome got home.

 

 


Chapter 3:

Desiree – Wednesday, 2:00 p.m.

 

 

Business had been slow enough to close up Intimate Desires early. The chic store, When All Else Fails, smelled of sweet basil. The wet ground outside accentuated the earthy scent. An older Italian woman, graying at the temples, moved toward me and extended her hand.

“Ciao. I am Ramona. I know you are looking for something special,” she said in an authentic northern Italian accent as she clasped her hands together in front of her.

“A friend of mine recommended I have a look at your shoes.”

“What is your friend’s name?”

Lisa Stiles.” I made up a name. I didn’t even know the name of the beautiful blonde who had sent me—the woman I had allowed myself to become so infatuated with that I wanted to walk in her shoes. I had been thinking of her since she left my shop, and not just about her perfect body but how she looked at me, her blue eyes hungered for something, and the tone of her voice had resonated with me, made me feel warm on a rainy day. I imagined her whispers left her lover begging for more. It certainly wasn’t unusual for me to flirt with women, even fantasize about them, but this kind of pre-occupation had never happened to me, and to the point of closing my store early!

Ramona thought for a moment and frowned; then shook her head as if the name wasn’t important and focused her attention on me. “Over here.” She turned and I followed her wide hips to the shoe racks. “What would you like to try on?”

I was torn between all the wonderful shoes that faced me, and then I saw the style that looked familiar. “Size thirty-six and a half,” I told her and pointed.

“They run a little small. I’ll bring a thirty-seven also.”

She disappeared into the back and I wondered about my sanity. Not only was I obsessed, I was about to be broke. I had never paid eight hundred dollars for a pair of shoes in my life, and couldn’t imagine ever wanting to. Until now. ‘Want’ was the operative word. I wanted the woman that had happened upon my doorstep, and if I couldn’t have her, I would buy a piece of her.

Ramona returned with a box in each arm. I sat down and took off my shoes. She kneeled before me and slipped on the new pair before I could draw my next breath. I reached down and touched them. She smiled knowingly. The leather was buttery, and the fit was so perfect I could have run a fifty yard dash in them. In the mirror, the shoes made my leather skirt look cheap. But I wanted those shoes the same way I wanted that gorgeous woman that had walked into my store earlier—I had to have them.

I signed the credit slip without looking at the total. After all, it was my birthday. Smiling, I took my purchase, thanked Ramona, and left. Slowly walking down the sidewalk, holding the bag by each handle, I peered into it. Buyer’s remorse was setting in.

     Suddenly, I was knocked to the ground but caught myself on one knee.

     A man offered his hands to me. “My humble apologies. Pardon me. I do apologize.” I took hold of them and let him pull me to my feet, and caught my breath.


Chapter 4:

Jerome – Wednesday, 3:00 p.m.

 

I couldn’t damn well stand it any more. One … just one more whimpering teenager had to walk into my office demanding rhinoplasty and I’d probably give her a good reason for the surgery. ‘I need a nose-job’ my arse. I stabbed at the lobby-floor button a few more times even though it wouldn’t make the elevator go any faster.

I have nothing against elective cosmetic surgery, just another way to improve the quality of our extended lives, another benefit that science brought us. But, nose surgery on a seventeen-year-old’s perfect proboscis! If her mother, a repeat client with too much money, hadn’t been there, I’d have said something I’m sure I would’ve regretted later while standing in court. As it was the surgery would go ahead, but the consultation had left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, and I needed to wash it away at Secret Liaisons, the local strip joint.

The thought lifted my spirits. Some of the strippers were ex-clients and my best marketing agents. The visit would be more of a business meeting than anything; I found it harder to become turned-on by fake breasts. One’s concept of beauty changes when you’re at the ‘cutting-edge.’ It’s like taking a cheap car and giving it a sleek and sexy body upgrade. The car may look like it’s going ninety when it’s standing still, but the auto detailers who performed the miracle know … they know that the chassis is rusted, and that the engine runs on a rubber-band. They would know, just as I knew, that oftentimes beauty is just skin-deep.

Some of the strippers didn’t require my services. They had that something extra. I’m still not sure if it was a spark of originality, or perhaps an unusual personality, but whatever it was it certainly outshone their need for larger breasts, in my opinion at least.

Nevertheless, most of them needed to be over-enhanced to rope-in the clientele, and I charged them a fair fee for trans-umbilical breast augmentation—a procedure that left no ugly scars—and they reciprocated by passing my name along. It was cash business with them. Hell, I could make a very comfortable living just off all the strippers in town. Now that was surgery that I approved of … It was necessary to their trade, it was surgery with a purpose.

The elevator binged and I paced quickly to the building’s glass doors. I needed to get away before anybody could drag me back for another last-second consultation. One of the doors opened ahead of me. Damn! Mrs. Fisher.

“Oh! Doctor Wilkinson,” she simpered, “I’m soo pleased to see you. And how is the wife? I really must set up an appointment …”

I let her drone on for a while. No use trying to get in a full sentence when Mrs. Fisher was talking.

“… and you know, I couldn’t believe that she—”

“Appointment. Must go. So sorry,” I interrupted and snaked sideways to the door while smiling at her. My hand blindly found the handle somewhere behind my back; I pulled the door open and swiveled out of the building and into freedom—and crashed into someone.

“My humble apologies,” I leaned down to help the unfortunate lady up, then paused for a second. All I registered were perfect stocking-clad legs, apparently held together by a tight mid-thigh black leather skirt. I glanced further up. An obviously flat stomach crested by, in my professional opinion, 34B breasts. Her slight form accentuated their swell, drawing one’s eyes to the way they filled out her blouse.

I caught myself and raised my gaze to her face. She put Aphrodite to shame. A shiny dark-brown halo of hair framed a tanned, perfectly sculptured face. Her large pale-grey eyes studied me.

“I do apologize.” I clenched my umbrella under an arm and held out both hands to make it easier for her to rise with dignity. “Totally my fault. I was in a rush.” She smiled, perfectly even teeth showing an honest grin as she clasped my hands. I pulled her up gently and smiled back. “Strong hands.”

“Tennis,” she answered and glanced down at a spilled package.

“Sorry,” I said, bending down to retrieve it. A pair of shoes, obviously new, were halfway out of a trendy boutique bag. I pushed the box back into the bag, noting the label. Must be expensive; I know, my wife shops there and I have to pay the bills.

“Can I make up for my stupidity and treat you to a drink?” The question just seemed to spill out of my mouth of its own volition.

The pale eyes studied me once more. Although her eyes were steady, something flickered in their depths; a sense of uncertainty, or trepidation.

“The offer is aboveboard. I-I’d just like to feel less of a heel,” my mouth worked overtime again.

“You said that you were in a rush,” she said with a sly smile.

“Only to get out of the office.”

“And you have no ulterior motives?”

“Trust me, I’m a doctor.”

“Really?” She glanced at the brass plaques along the side of the building’s entrance. “So which one are you?”

“Third from the top.”

Doctor Wilkinson I presume?”

Jerome for short. You have me at an advantage.”

“Call me Desiree.” She glanced down the street. “I know a jazz club two blocks from here. We’ll go there.”

#

The sidewalk wasn’t too busy and the earlier downpour had kept the casual shoppers at home; however, there were enough pedestrians to keep us dodging about, and we said little until I opened the door to Kyle’s Jazz Club.

“Thanks.” She smiled as she walked in.

“My pleasure.”

She headed straight to a secluded table in the far corner. Halfway there she turned to me and said, “Long Island iced tea.”

I placed an order at the bar, then joined her at the table.

“They’ll bring the drinks over,” I said taking the opportunity to examine her face in more detail.

“Do you always undress women like this?” she asked hesitantly as if doubtful that such a question was permissible. She reminded me of a beautiful kitten, fresh to the world, and unsure of her place in its harsh reality.

“It’s a hard habit to break when you’re a plastic surgeon.”

“So, you think I’m a prospective client?”

“Hell no! The opposite. I’d refuse to perform surgery on you.”

“Now that must be a line.”

“Unfortunately for me it’s not. That’s why I was escaping from my office. I had to agree to do surgery on a teeny with a perfect nose. It makes me angry.” It might have been my imagination, but I could feel Desiree’s disbelief. How does one explain, especially to someone you’ve just met, the state of mind imposed by years of having to lean over an operating table, crafting what others perceive as perfection. I struggled for words, and came out with a bland, “I see beauty differently.”

I knew it probably sounded false even as I said it, but how could I explain my attitude to this beautiful woman. For some reason I wanted her to understand; to know that I was being honest; let her know that I was not a threat. “How do you imagine a gynecologist of many years standing would feel about viewing a vagina? He’d be more likely to wonder—”

“I get the picture,” she interrupted with a light laugh. “Well, seeing that you’re the professional, how old am I?”

I glanced at the corner of her eyes and mouth. Flawless. Could be expertly applied makeup. I stretched across the table and ran the tips of my fingers down her neck. Her skin was smooth, but not that smooth. She shivered. “Late twenties, early thirties.” I gently lifted one of her hands and massaged the skin below her knuckles. The tendons twitched as muscles tightened. “Early thirties … probably around thirty-three.”

“I’m impressed. As of today it’s thirty-four.”

“It’s your birthday? You’re serious?”

She smiled. I could see uncertainty somewhere locked up in that smile, her vulnerability was irresistible.

“In that case I’ll have to give you a present.”

“Hmm. And what would your wife say?” Her eyes flicked meaningfully toward my wedding band.

“Desiree, I’m not going to tell you that my wife doesn’t understand me. We understand each other very well. Similar social circles; the same college; and we both come from the ‘best’ families. Hell, she has a Master of Science that she’s never used.” I thought it over; we did have a lot in common, Marcy and I. “I expect it’s our personal priorities that differ. My work is very important to me, while for her it’s ... well, it’s social in nature.”

“That’s a bit vague.” Her eyes narrowed.

 “Her priority is to present the right front; display the correct social appearance. But it’s all assumed, just like the others in our circle. It’s all about the right clothes, the imported cars, and kids at the best private schools. All fakery. I’ve operated on her at least—” Had I really become that cynical of my marriage?

“Ah. Is that it? The operations aren’t keeping up anymore?” Her eyes glared. No longer was this a helpless kitten; she was a woman who’d had to fight to survive.

“No. Not to be egotistical, but I’m a very good surgeon. My wife is drop-dead gorgeous.” I pictured Marcy in my mind. She was indeed perfect, without a doubt some of my best work. And not a single mark marred my sculpturing, but I knew exactly where I’d cut, every curve that the scalpel had taken through her flesh. “The only scars are the ones imprinted on my mind.”

Desiree’s expression softened. “I think I understand …”

The waitress arrived with the drinks and transferred them from her tray.

“Thanks,” I said.

Desiree used the interruption to stand and shift her chair alongside mine. I was right, 34Bs. The bra must have cost a fortune. Her breasts seemed to hang perfectly with no hint of any support, and the fine fabric of her blouse left little to the imagination. I could imagine her naked; slightly extended areoles about the size of a half-dollar coin circling erect nipples, her slightly teardrop shaped breasts exaggerated by her slender frame.

I felt an erection start. Not a good thing when your wedding-tackle’s being strangled by your Hugo Boss suit-pants. I shifted in my seat to relieve the pressure. Thank God for boxer shorts. Desiree sat down alongside me and placed her hand on my leg. Not good; my erection hardened. Her hand felt hot on my thigh, almost searing, burning its way into my flesh.

“You’ve never had an affair, have you?” She smiled shyly, belying her close contact. I wondered if she knew the effect she had on me.

“No, and we’re not having one now, are we?” Her full lips curled up in a knowing smile. Oh, those lips …

“About that birthday present you promised.”

“Um, dinner? Tonight?”

“I’m sure we’ll think of something to eat.” That enigmatic smile again. “Give me your cell number and I’ll tell you where to meet me.”

I proffered my card, and she slipped it into her bag.

“How do I ensure that you won’t stand me up?” she asked.

Before I could formulate an answer she leaned over and brushed her lips lightly against mine. The hand slid a bit higher on my thigh and brushed the tip of my erection. Oh my God … the exquisite pain. Her tongue slid into my mouth just far enough to tease me, then withdrew, only to slide back in.

Then she was gone. I shook my head, hoping that the action may return me to reality. Okay, so it was partway successful.

I staggered to my feet and headed toward the street, leaving the untouched drinks on the table. Like a drunk, unaware of the surrounding world, I slogged back to the office. I hadn’t felt like that since the junior prom with freckle-faced Lynette.

Back behind my desk I realized that I had forgotten to pay for the drinks. Somehow this didn’t bother me as much as it should. All I could think of was seeing more of Desiree.