Busybody, I thought, wishing he would back off. "Good. I went fishing," I said with a grin.
"You don't fish," Gary said sceptically, narrowing his eyes. "Who fishes?" He tapped his chin trying to figure it out. "Hey, Beth!" he called over the cube walls.
"Would you shut up!" I hissed at him, grabbing his thick arm and not quite getting my fingers around. Gary had been a linebacker. He was pudgy now, but still big everywhere.
He didn't even seem to notice me. He waved to Beth who had rolled her chair out to look down the row of cubicles.
She wasn't alone of course. Half the desks in the row were now looking our way. I rolled my eyes, leaving Gary standing there and heading to my office.
I closed the door, sighing loudly, and put my head on my desk for a moment.
I had spent all of Sunday thinking about Saturday. I'd called Beth and talked to her on the phone for an hour. My own grandmother couldn't keep me on the phone that long. She'd gotten me talking about music, art, movies, all things I hadn't really thought about in years. They'd seemed so frivolous. Yet hearing her talk about the band she'd caught with Jamie, especially having her sing to me, well, it was easy to get interested. I remembered how much I had enjoyed going out with my friends and catching a game, hitting the pub after. I told her about the plays we'd done in high school. I hadn't thought about acting since... since Sarah.
I heard the door open and lifted my head quickly, picking up the first piece of paper on my desk. It was a memo for the blood drive. I groaned and tossed it, looking to see who had come in without knocking, Gary or Mary...
It was Mary. She looked at the paper floating across my desk.
"Oh, good. You got it then. We're doing this," she said emphatically. "I've already gotten most of the department signed up. You are the last hold out, really."
I grimaced. Needles were terrible things, almost as bad as the blood that came from them. "Yes, well, I'm unavailable today."
Mary narrowed her eyes and crossed her arms. "Fine. You look healthy enough to me, so let's hear the excuse."
"Meeting," I said quickly.
"With?" she asked, calling my bluff.
I ground my teeth.
Beth's head appeared behind and over Mary's. Mary was a little thing, not many inches over five feet. Beth was significantly taller, her chin well over Mary's head.
"Leave him be, Mary. He isn't the only one who isn't comfortable with needles and blood. I'll give extra," she said with an impish grin.
Mary's hard expression slipped a little. "You know you can't do that."
"Yeah," Beth rolled her eyes. "Come on, I need you to check this sheet for me, make sure I've got it right." She snagged Mary's arm, spinning her out of my doorway.
"Thank you," I mouthed to her as she left. She smiled at me in return.
On a roll when lunch came, I didn't leave the office. There was a knock this time before the door opened. Beth closed it behind her.
"Hi," she said tentatively.
"Hello," I said, feeling my cheeks tighten with the broadness of my smile. I dropped it a little, thinking I was going to scare the poor girl off. "Are you joining me?" I asked hopefully, sweeping a hand to take in my lunch.
"No, I'm here to invite you to the blood drive again. You know the company is using this as an entry in the corporate challenge, right? The more blood we donate, the worse we make those fools over at Demo look." She got a wicked glint in her eye as she said the name of our rival.
"I never knew you were competitive. I thought we put all of that type in sales," I added with a smirk.
She laughed, tipping her head back slightly. "I never had any siblings to compete with, so I had to pack it all into the summers with Jamie and her brothers. It's been too long. I need someone to beat." Her lips pulled up in an almost frightening smile that showed all of her teeth. Did I look like that a moment ago? She looked like she was going to beat me. That thought hovered for a while: me bent over the bed while she raised and lowered her hand.
I shook myself, feeling the blood rushing to my face and groin. Her smile slipped a little, her eyes widening. She couldn't know what I'd been thinking; that wasn't possible. Regardless of what she knew or thought, an awkward silence filled the room. I took a bite of my leftover pasta. That seemed to do the trick; Beth visibly relaxed.
"I'm not going with the others," she said, smiling more naturally.
"Hmmm?" I asked, my mouth full of food.
"If you weren't comfortable, going with Gary and Mary and... everyone. I'm going after work today, by myself." She stepped closer and put a hand over mine. "Sometimes it's easier without the audience."
I looked up at her, meeting her warm eyes, her smile widening slightly as she looked down at our hands. I lifted mine, taking hers, to my lips, kissing her hand.
"I appreciate that. I will try. You were right. I'm not comfortable with needles - or doctors - at all," I admitted, sitting back with a sigh. I didn't want to talk about this at all, but definitely not here and now.
"I understand." She straightened and turned back for the door. "I'll be waiting after work. Just stop by my cube. I rode with Mary today, if you don't mind giving me a lift?" Her smile was coy, as though she was afraid I'd say no.
"Of course," I agreed. The thought of her in my car again was very appealing. I'd had to keep my hands to myself while she drove. I could trust myself a little further, after all it was my car. I could let my hand trace her thigh, brush her hair off her shoulder, touch her neck.
This was not helping the blood flow already throbbing in my pants and I closed my eyes to try to get myself back in check.
"Thank you," she said with a last smile, pulling the door shut.
"Who's heavy breathing in here?" Gary asked cheerfully. Dammit. I let go of myself, knowing he'd never let me finish. My mind still raced with images of Beth spread out before me. I hadn't had time to indulge the images of her using her hand on me, especially not to beat me.
My teeth ground as I throbbed again, and I forgot Gary. My hand wrapped around myself, the other gripping my knee as I bent over the toilet, pumping for all I was worth while imagining Beth in a tight corset with her breasts free over the top, that predatory smile prominent as her hand connected with my cheeks.
With a grunting groan, I released the tension that had built in me, letting it spill into the toilet. I held my breath, listening. No sound. I zipped up and poked my head out of the stall.
"I knew it!" Gary crowed.
"Fuck off," I replied, washing my hands.
"It's Beth, right? Right? Come on, tell me. You guys are hooking up, right?"
I ground my teeth, drying my hands. "We have gone on a couple of dates," I said tersely.
"Fishing is a date now?"
I scowled, but didn't answer.
"Wait, you don't fish. She asked you to go fishing? Then it totally counts!" Gary proceeded to lay out his dating logic as we walked back to the office. Apparently it was also a date if she asked me to a sporting event, because it was out of her milieu. I didn't argue. I didn't care if it was a date or not. Any time I spent with Beth was quality time, time well spent.
"Buddy, you're not going to lose that any time soon," Gary taunted, nudging my hip with his own. Sure enough, even idle thoughts had me stiffening again. "Let's hit the gym," he suggested, referring to the one in the basement of the building. "We've submitted the quarter; nothing's urgent, right? Burn off some steam."
It sounded like a great idea, and Gary would make sure I was sweating hard. We entered the elevator together. As I'd expected, Gary started me on the lifting equipment, working me around the room. As soon as I hit the elliptical though, he split. I ached nicely, but still felt edgy. After twenty minutes of running, I admitted to myself that this wasn't what I needed. In the locker room shower, I took the time I hadn't at lunch. Under the warm water, I gave my imagination freedom.
|We Heart It|
"Now, you will show me what you can do. If I am pleased, I won't have to use this." The tip of the crop flicks lightly on my buttocks as I kneel. I lean forward, away from it, into her.
My nose touches her skin and it is impossible to miss her meaning. My hands reach around behind her.
Crying out, the crop snaps against my skin, my hands reach behind me. I hear metal clink and see cuffs on my hands now. "I know how you use those. I want to see what else you can do." She grips my hair, pulling my head back and stepping forward, over me. The intention is to force me to pleasure her, but this is hardly an imposition. My tongue eagerly flicks out, happy to taste her. I watch the skin spread, listen to her breath catch, feel the moisture collecting, sliding out, as my tongue finds all her secret and sensitive places. Her smell is all that fills my nose now, my face buried in her as she grinds on me.
"Mmmm, yes. That's it. Right there." She gasps, and I work to hit the same spot again and again.
"Yes, good boy," she manages to utter as she squeezes my tongue in her, washing it in her juices.
With a groan I sprayed the tiles and took a deep breath. Shit. I didn't know I was into BDSM. Did I even know anything about BDSM? I couldn't think of anything past a few pictures in the nudie mags Dad had left behind. I'd never really needed much more than my own imagination and the odd ambitious girlfriend. None had suggested anything like what I'd just imagined. One had wanted me to cuff her to the bed, but that was as far as it went. Where had this fantasy come from? Just that smile? Her turn of phrase?
Drying off slowly, taking time to restyle my hair, I didn't notice the time until I was on my way back to the elevator. It was past six.
"Oh fuck," I muttered as I whipped out my phone, looking up Beth's number. There was a missed message.
i gave up on you -B
I couldn't blame her. According to the time stamp, she had waited a good hour past the end of the work day for me. I held my head, feeling sick, as I wandered to the garage, descending one flight of stairs. The drive to the blood bank was short. I ran through the doors, hoping she was still here, that I wasn't so late as to have forced her to bus or walk home.
The receptionist looked up, but didn't stop me as I walked quickly past her desk toward the chairs where the donors lounged. Beth lay on one, reading one of the medical fliers that abounded in this place. A red tube trailed down her arm into a bulging sac. I felt myself pale.
The nurse that had been at her side was suddenly at mine. "Got a fainter," she said loudly. That solved the pallor problem nicely. I was now flushed.
"Peter!" Beth called, sitting forward on her lounge.
"Lie back," the heavy-set nurse ordered. Her matronly glare had the intended effect, Beth flopped back. "And you," she said to me, "need to go through the screening." She pointed to where people were seated with clipboards. Hanging my head, I followed her directions.
The questionnaire seemed more formality that anything, but I felt my ears burn as the nurse interrogated me on my sex life and travel history. Finally she deemed that I was both healthy enough, and clean enough, to donate blood.
"Right or left?" she asked brusquely, leading me to the lounges.
"Um, right?" it had been too long since I'd done this, I'd forgotten what she was asking.
"Left," Beth said from beside me. I turned to her. "You want to be able to use your right," she said, smiling at me.
"Right," I agreed. "I mean, left," I told the nurse with a grin. She rolled her eyes, obviously hearing the same several times a day.
Following her, I climbed on the lounge she indicated. "Allergic to iodine?" she asked, pulling out a small plastic cylinder.
"No," I replied. There was a quiet snap and she started painting a yellow circle on the inside of my elbow. I was fine as she tightened a blood pressure cuff and found a vein. I was fine when she clamped the tube. I wasn't fine when the nurse pulled the needle from it's plastic casing.
|We Heart It|
Her smile never wavered. She didn't look at me condescendingly - as I was used to in this position - or with pity, she just smiled, happy. I let go of her hand to pass my fingers through her hair. It was as silky as it appeared, satiny. My eyes searched her face, but still her expression didn't change.
I started to worry. Was I imaging what I wanted? Was the desire all mine? Had I imagined the heat in her kiss on Saturday?
"It's alright, Peter. I'm going to stay with you." She mistook my concern over her feelings as anxiety. I was actually doing better than the last time I had donated blood. "You still owe me a ride home," she reminded me with a smirk.
I let my arm fall, circling her waist, pulling her closer to me. "I'm looking forward to it," I said lustily, regretting the tone until I felt a shiver under my hand.
I knew I hadn't imagined it. Even now her eyes were closed and her lips slightly parted. Her head tipped back very slightly. I longed to be free of the tube and needle so I could put my lips and nose to that neck, to run my tongue down the white column, over her collar bone...
A sudden beeping brought me out of my daydreaming. Beth shook herself at the same time. "That means you're done," she said with a smile, taking my hand again.
The nurse ordered me to hold a cotton ball to my arm, pulling the pieces of masking tape that kept the warm tube on my arm. I didn't take my eyes from Beth, who spent the time completing her tales of Jamie and Mary, the trouble they got into together. I barely noticed the odd sensation when the nurse pulled the needle out, I was so focused on Beth and her words. She didn't stop talking until another series of beeps interrupted. These were from a timer.
The nurse returned, taking the cotton from my fingers and telling me to bend my arm. She taped the swab down with another bandage.
"You are free to go. Just take it easy for the next hour. No heavy lifting with that arm for the rest of the day and be sure to drink lots of fluids. If you smoke, wait an hour."
Beth lead me away from the donation area to one filled with refreshments, encouraging me to drink. I grabbed a glass of juice thankfully, draining it quickly.
"Are you hungry?" I asked. "It's so late, I could buy you dinner." I noticed it was now well past seven, heading to eight.
"That would be nice," she said with a smile. "Casa Rosa?" she suggested with a smile, gesturing to her casual outfit. "How about the Burger Barn?" I said with a smile.
"Classy," she answered with a laugh. "And a great idea." She took my hand, turning for the door. "You're okay to drive?" she asked with worry on her face.
"Looking for an excuse to steal my car already?" I teased.
She giggled. "No, just that donating can wipe you out. I've had longer to recover." Once outside she looked up at the crescent moon with a smile.
Unable to resist, I kissed her cheek while it was turned up. I felt her eyelashes on my nose as she closed her eyes. My heart seemed to leap at the tiny flutter, jumping out of my chest. I pulled back suddenly.
"Peter?" she asked.
Hitting the button to unlock the doors, I reluctantly let go of her hand. "Yes?" I answered, opening her door for her. "Thank you for coming," she said with a smile. "I know it wasn't easy for you. We all appreciate it." She kissed me then, a quick peck, before sitting down in the car.
Frozen for a second, I had the feeling that wasn't what she was going to say. I circled the car and took my place beside her.
"Beth?" My voice shook a little.
She turned to look at me, her eyes large. "Yes?"
"What did you really want to ask me?"
She sighed and sat back in her seat, pulling on her seatbelt. I mimicked her, skipping the sigh, then resting my hand on her knee.
"What happened at lunch?" she asked finally. "I mean, I know I get competitive sometimes, but I didn't expect that to bother you. Does it?" She looked at me with her brow furrowed.
I closed my eyes and pulled my lips together tight. How in the hell was I going to get out of this? "No, it doesn't bother me," I began, safe enough, and true.
I knew I wasn't going to get off that easily. "I... You have a very interesting... game face," I finished, finally finding a good expression.
"Oh." She thought about this while I started the car and backed out of the stall. "Is it good or bad?"
I switched gears and rolled onto the street before answering her. "I liked it."
|We Heart It|
She shivered a little and looked at me. "Is this a date?" she asked.
My mind went over Gary's criteria for a date, but finally I came back to my own definitions. "It's quality time."
She smiled and leaned into my shoulder. "I like spending quality time with you." She reached one arm across herself to squeeze my leg before the light changed. She pulled it back and sat up as I grabbed the shift to get into second. Stupid manual transmission, I thought.