Thursday, June 30, 2016

For The Love Of Not Wallking Chapter 10

Hi my readers, thanks for your wonderful comments last week, they always bring a smile on my face. I appreciate you so much. I had a little trouble formatting this chapter, but I hope it still looks all right. Come along on Kieran's and Erin's second date with this week's Chapter 10. Let me know how you like it and thanks so much for reading every week. It means a lot to me.
Hugs, Dani

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Surprise Update: All Of You, Chapter 5

Hi everyone,
I will most likely not have the chance to update on Saturday, so I thought I'll treat you with the next chapter already today. Is that a deal? :) Hope that makes everyone happy and if someone else wanted to post today: I'm sorry! Saturday is free for the taking!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Update: Plain Love Chapter Five

Hello Everyone,
Thanks so much for your feedback! I'm really glad you are enjoying the story thus far.
Here's Chapter Five.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Update to Pretty Fat!

So in the last chapter, Emily got a call from Norm, the guy she'd been messing around with on the internet, and had her fingers crossed he wouldn't show up at her door.  Well....

Chapter 13

Table of Contents

Thank you everyone for reading and commenting!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Friday, June 24, 2016

Margaret's Chance: Chapter 10

Interested parties--hopefully there are still interested parties?!--will be happy to know that chapter 10 of Margaret's Chance has arrived! Yaayyy Free Friday! ;) It's long overdue...but it's also long (coming in at a whoppin' twelve pages!). I divided it up into two parts, but the second part is the heavy (read: juicier) bit.

When we last left them, Margaret and Finn were concluding their farmer's market date--and things were beginning to heat up (heh heh). In this chapter, we'll hopefully get some major insight, maybe some tummy-squishy feelings, and possibly more.

I can't promise when my next update will be (probably on a Free Friday sometime in the quasi-distant future), but hopefully this one will be able to tide y'all over until then. :)

As always, comments and (constructive) criticism welcome :)

Chapter 10: Part I & Part II
For newbies: Table of Contents

Thursday, June 23, 2016

For The Love Of Not Walking Chapter 9

Hi FTLONW readers, Thursday again and I am up to post the next chapter. Thanks so much for last weeks comments, they mean so much to me. I hope you are still enjoying this story. I know it is different and probably strange to some people but oh well, I am just going to keep posting. Nothing to lose, right? I give you Chapter 9 of FTLONW. Hope you enjoy and let me know if you do, thanks so much for reading, Hugs, Dani
Oh, and I finally got around to creating a Table Of Contents for FTLONW:


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Update: Chapter Four of Plain Love

Hello Everyone,
I'm back with Chapter Four. This week's installment is from Eli's point of view.
Thanks so much for all the kind comments and encouragement. As others have previously noted, this is such a supportive site for writers to practice their craft. I very much appreciate the reader feedback!


Monday, June 20, 2016

Footsteps draws near to the end with Chapter Sixteen

Readers, thank you for your comments on the whole story, but particularly on these last few chapters. It's not a world-changing story or anything, but it has a lot of my heart in it, and it feels more personal than a lot of the things I've written before, and your feedback has been invaluable to helping me grow as a writer. Thank you.

I had planned to finish the story in Chapter Sixteen, but I found I had too much to say, and that these two needed a chapter to themselves, so here it is. Please continue to let me know your thoughts if you feel like sharing them.

It is with mixed feelings that I say that there's definitely just one more chapter to go and then Footsteps will have finished. Thanks for coming with me on the journey! For those of you that like my writing, I do have others up my sleeve, but I'm going to make sure it's all written and edited before I start posting next time. It's been a great learning experience for me to write as I go along, and to have your input to make this story what it is, but the next one will be complete before publishing!

Thanks again for your support - you're a great community, as I'm sure the other authors who publish here would agree.

Take care,

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day Update of Pretty Fat!

There's nothing Father's Day about this chapter of Pretty Fat.  Sorry.  But Brody does finally show Emily that he's capable of satisfying her...

Chapter 12

Table of Contents

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Double update


I want to say THANK YOU to all of you for being incredibly supportive and just amazing and making my week with your lovely comments! That's why I have a little surprise for you: not just one update, but... two! Hope you appreciate (and hope this is okay with the mods).

Okay, so first here is Chapter 3 of All Of You and *drums* a Table Of Content.

And because I was already busy with sorting chapters and I love sorting  and order in general and I am on a wicked dev high and produced a small steamy short story I decided I am going to collect all of the juicy short stories in The Secret Stash. Which has a new story added to my old ones: Porn From Spain, featuring a quad CP and basically what the title says :D


Thursday, June 16, 2016

For The Love Of Not Walking Chapter 8

Hello my readers, I can't believe it is Thursday again and here I bring you another chapter of FTLONW. I had a bit of trouble formatting in the beginning, probably have to adjust my Word settings. Also this chapter is somewhat long and I thought of either leaving something out or finding a good place to cut the chapter in half. Well, I didn't do either and so it is a bit long. I want to thank everyone who commented last week, it made me very happy. I hope you enjoy and keep on reading along on how Kieran's mystery unfolds. Here is Chapter 8 of FTLONW. Thank you so much, Yours, Dani

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Plain Love: Chapter Three

Hi Everyone,
Thanks so much for the warm welcome back and for your generous feedback. I'm really very happy to be posting again. Your comments are very valuable and I treasure the rapid feedback. It's critical to my improvement as a writer.

So here's Chapter Three. It's in Lorna's voice. My plan is to alternate between the two voices/POV's weekly. This is a new approach for me and I hope it works. Fingers crossed. And I'm sure you'll let me know. :-)

(And thanks so much for the positive feedback for Hands On. I promise I haven't forgotten about Paige and Madison. A sequel will come.)


Monday, June 13, 2016

Broken Dreams

This is my first attempt to post publicly. I hope you will be kind.
This short story is called Broken dreams.
It is meant to be read after Pony’s “Broken Toys”, but can be read separately.
Thank you for reading.
Sweet Angel

All alone.

I wander all alone in my big house. It is full of people. But I am all alone. The yards and trees do not bring me relief. Neither does my room, nor any other place. But I keep wandering from place to place .. maybe.

It is now late in the afternoon. The winter sun is shying away. And I am still restless.

No. I will not go up there. But my feet take me to the foot of the stairs.

I will myself to stop. I order my feet. They refuse to obey me. Silly feet.

I find myself upstairs, and in front of me is the forbidden room.

When I was little I always wanted to go up there. To where my dream was taken away. So one day, I got a bout of courage when I had my best friend with me. That morning, a million lives ago. Together we looked, explored; and to my amazement I was discarded from her life. Instantly. She laughed at me. Said I was weird. She left that day and never again played with the “weird girl”.

Yet today I find myself once more in front of that door. For I know  that nothing else will bring me peace. The peace that had been long lost from my life.

And so, slowly slowly I turn the door knob. I don’t know whether it is because I am too scared or too excited. I open it anyway.

The afternoon sun timidly enters the long-deserted room.

I see it.

“In a shadowy corner sits a dusty trunk rarely opened.  This heavy wooden box is the home for so many toys that have seen better days. Days when they were accepted equally among all the regular toys. Most days meant playing, entertaining and making some girl feel special. Ah, but within each toy's personal story something tragic went wrong - maybe they fell from a high-shelf, maybe some other accident that broke, or shattered, something vital, causing them to be put away in this chest of broken dreams. Really, no one knows exactly what to do with them. They're not so bad as to throw them out, but really most girls can't imagine playing with them either. It's much easier to not see them. And so.. the trunk it is.”

My heart is pounding in my chest. For a moment there I want to just walk away. But I am immobilized. Like a statue carved out of stone I cannot move, nor can I take my eyes off “the trunk”. My trunk.

A long time ago it was taken away from me. Locked away where I couldn’t go. My beloved toys. No .. my beloved toy was taken away from me. Replaced by a seemingly better looking, seemingly better functioning toy. But no, my heart remained with my old broken toy. My perfect dream toy.

I take slow steps to the trunk. I wipe the dust away gently as if scared it would break under my shaking touch, postponing opening it. So why am I here if I am scared? I know the answer to that. It is because I can no longer tolerate it. This silly existence. This lonely being.

I open the lid, and there is my beautiful broken toy. Sitting there peacefully as if waiting for me to come back to it. As if years of separation were only minutes. Looking at me with amazing hopeful eyes. Willing me to take it in my arms where it knows it belongs. And will always belong.

Does the toy know? Does it know that I am, really, different too? Does it know that I feel closer to this broken toy than the other shiny, perfectly functioning beautiful dolls?
I hug my toy, close to my still pounding heart, and take him with me. Forever.

Does he know how much I want to be needed, loved...profoundly found - more than the working toys could ever make me feel?

I just found the toy that makes me feel whole!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Pretty Fat

Thanks so much to everyone who reads and comments!  I want to echo the other authors here and say that knowing you guys are enjoying the story is what keeps me writing.

In this next chapter, Emily's roommate discovers that she's dating a quadriplegic.  And it isn't pretty.

Chapter 11

And for those of you who would like to catch up, here is the TABLE OF CONTENTS.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

All Of You Update

Hello everyone!

Thanks to time shift it's still Saturday although it's not. Awesome!

Here is Chapter 2 of All Of You. Enjoy!


Friday, June 10, 2016

Devo Diary is back

Woo hoo free Friday! Allow me to be the first to take advantage of free Friday to update Devo Diary. Future updates will be very very far between, sorry. If you are new or have forgotten the previous chapters, look here at the

Table of Contents

TL;DR summary:
This is my 100% true and not fictional account of my life as a dev. Sorry if there are a lot of characters to keep track of, but I'm trying to keep it streamlined. At this point, it's fall of 2000 and I'm dating a c7 quad I met online on a devotee listserv. He lives three hours away but that's not the only problem with this relationship....

Devo Diary Chapter 19: Rollerboy part 5


Since the blog has been getting a little busier recently, I've decided to institute:


From now on, Friday will be a day that nobody can claim. This is for one-part stories or stories that are posted very infrequently.  Only one post per day, first come first serve.  (If you schedule a post the night before, it's yours.)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

For The Love Of Not Walking Chapter 7

Hello all,
I was hoping to hear from ej to see if she was going to post MC today but I haven't heard from her and I also didn't see a draft in the Blogger so I am taking a chance an posting another chapter of FTLONW. Ej, if you are out there - I hope it is okay.
Thanks for everyone who commented last week, I am very happy about those comments. Here is
Chapter 7 and it gets tense again in this one.
I hope you like it and thanks again for reading. Hugs, Yours Dani

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

New Story: Plain Love

Hi Everyone!
It's been a long time, but I am happy to be back with a new story entitled: Plain Love. This first entry introduces the two main characters in two chapters, so it's a little long, but I think it makes sense to present it in this way. Hope that will be okay. And I hope you will enjoy Plain Love.

Plain Love: Chapters One and Two

Chapter One

Finally Gate 21’s up ahead. I can slow my hustle as I pass by the still closed concourse shops and kiosks. A café latte is more than a half-hour away since the Starbucks won’t open until six. There’s no agent at Gate 21’s counter either, however the digital marquee matches the big departure board at Ticketing, and promises that my 7:20 flight to Washington, D.C. will depart from here on time. Fingers crossed about that. You are at the mercy of the travel gods whoever and wherever they may be. There’s always the risk that they will change the gate on you without warning and send you scurrying frantically down the concourse sloshing your coffee all over the place if you have a cup. That’s why I don’t dress up for the airport. Well, at least it’s my justification. I see the other women all around me, young and old alike, business and casual, in their cute little outfits, their fashion forward shoes, run in those if you like and risk turning an ankle.   

I could have, and rightly should have, flown up to D.C. last night with Stephanie, the project director and my supervisor. The principle investigators’ meeting is scheduled to start at nine o’clock this morning. But I really like waking up in my own bed even if that means waking up at 3:45 in order to be out of the house by 4:15, so that I am clearing Security by 5 o’clock. I like to get to the airport early because I’m really not one for mad dashes through airports if I can help it. Who needs that manufactured stress? Besides my presentation isn’t scheduled until 2 p.m. on the first day of the two-day meeting according to the agenda, so Stephanie is cool with me arriving later, plus it saves on the travel budget, as I reminded her when I was making my case for leaving this morning instead of last night.

“Lorna, you really do hate to travel,” she said.
“Oh no,” I denied the truth. “I just got something I need to do tonight that’s all.”

I didn’t because I rarely did, not during the week anyway. I spent last evening cleaning my condo in preparation for my being away in case someone had to come in and handle my affairs because I get killed in a fiery crash or something. I cleaned and fretted about what to pack to wear on the second day of the meeting, in the more likely event that I live.     

At this hour in the morning, I have my choice of seats in the empty waiting area. I plop down in a place across from a wall of floor to ceiling windows where I can watch the sun come up and keep an eye on the gate counter in case something changes. Like most travelers nowadays I come equipped with a briefcase/purse/ overnight bag/ and a size-wise rollerboard. I park the tote bag on the seat next to mine and park the suitcase in front of it. It will make a handy little table if I get a coffee later, and maybe a slice of banana-nut loaf. Based on my boarding zone number, which can sometimes feel like a lottery number, good or bad depending, I should be able to stow the rollerboard overhead. I’m a Zone Two, which means if I maneuver just right I should be able to board the plane right behind the premium classes. Ironically in this situation being at the back of the bus has its advantages. Maybe if I traveled a little more my airline class would improve. But really how is it that human evolution has come to this? The measure of a person being determined by a boarding zone.

In any case, I settle myself and take out my smartphone. I recheck the weather which is supposed to be clear up and down the eastern seaboard. Spring is coming. There’s no plane at the gate but I’m not too worried yet. It is early, very early. I suppose there could be some kind of equipment problem, as the airlines call it, but oh well. I’m satisfied with myself. I’m keeping my part of the bargain, and with a cushion mind you. If the flight is cancelled and I don’t get to meet Stephanie for lunch or even make it to D.C. at all, it won’t be the end of the world. She has a copy of my presentation and can give it if she has to. The Universe is in charge. Whatever is meant to be will be.   

I begin to read today’s on-line version of the New York Times. I subscribe to several online news magazines and newspapers, free and not free, and the New York Times, well it’s kind of the intellectual’s must even though I’m traveling to the Washington Post’s home base. It’s primary season which means about a million candidates running for everything from the Oval Office to the Post Office. I skim these assorted headlines but opt for an in-depth read of the entertainment section. Politics at this stage is like a spectator sport in the early rounds. I decide once again that I can wait at least until the playoffs come to my state to really tune in. Besides I’m a government bureaucrat, so it’s best to remain neutral as long as I can, since I have a job to do regardless of election outcomes; and there is the Hatch Act anyway.

After a few minutes of reading book and theater reviews, the tiny black words on the small illuminated screen begin to blur a little. I’m tired. Cat-napping does not make for restful sleep. Between nine last night and three this morning I must have woken up fifty times to anxiously check the alarm clock beside the bed. Why do I do this to myself, I grumble in my head. If I had flown up last night I could be having a room-service breakfast right now, watching an I Love Lucy rerun on the Hallmark Channel instead of having to endure the CNN broadcast blaring from overhead behind me. I sit up straight, stiffening my back, but my eyelids are steel curtains closing down by their own weight, and pulling my chin into my chest. It will be so great to get on the plane. I’ll sleep the whole way, I bargain with my body, I won’t even have a coffee. But my brain doesn’t trust me and overrules my will. Okay, I surrender, I’ll close my eyes for five minutes, you know, to rest them.

When my eyes reopen the sky is all blues and lavenders with increasing gold. It’s dawn and so later than five minutes. Also I’m no longer alone in the gate area. Sitting sort of across from me, his laptop plugged into an electrical outlet, is a man in a wheelchair. He is busy typing, and I’m kind of embarrassed for sleeping. I hope I didn’t drool or make those goofy jerking motions you make trying to keep your head upright. I fidget around now, dabbing at the corners of my mouth, checking to make sure the breast button on my blouse is as it should be.

Not that the man would notice. He’s on one side of the waiting area and I’m on the other, and he’s oblivious to me. Only the time and our destination make us companions. His obvious work ethic impresses me and almost shames me into taking out my own laptop. I could double-check my presentation, maybe make some speaking notes. But what I end up doing is checking him out and making some mental ones.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Plain Love: Chapter Three

Chapter Three

It’s like I’m the filling in a reverse Oreo, chocolate crème jammed between two vanilla cookies, two mismatched vanilla cookies. They were both wearing jeans but my friend (I dare to call him that) and his enemy (probably how he thinks of him) couldn’t be more different, like separate ends of the same social spectrum. They probably both consider themselves entitled and right. After all they are men. And here I am stuck in the middle between them, the volunteer peacemaker, or should I say self-appointed. Maybe I’m a little self-righteous too.  
But these days a ruckus can get you thrown off a plane. Let a flight attendant cry foul and you can find yourself without a plea. I didn’t want that for my friend and his enemy didn’t deserve it either, just because they had a misunderstanding. God—men are so bad at communicating. But just let them posture, puff up their chests the way a peacock spreads out his feathers, now that’s their forte. It’s like the male species is hard-wired for it or something. 

Footsteps Chapter Fifteen is up!

First of all, a massive thank you for the support I had for last week's chapter. It is hugely encouraging for writers to receive feedback, so thank you, and your support for this story has got me through a particularly difficult couple of weeks, so an especially heartfelt 'thank you' this time.

Here, without further faff and ado is Chapter Fifteen.

As usual Table of Contents has been updated too.

We're back in Alyssa's head, not a particularly nice or stable place it has to be said, picking up shortly after the shock of finding Caleb and Millie together, and I've gone and thrown one more spanner in the works for her this week as well... But be patient (with her, and me, please!).

As ever, I'm really touched by your comments, and really appreciate your taking the time to let me know your thoughts on my little tale. I've taken one of you up on your suggestion for a moment in the story, so thank you for that as well. I hope I worked it in ok.

Take care,

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Plain Love: Chapter Four

Her hand warms up in my grasp. It feels soft, smooth. Not like mine. I usually wear my gloves but my hands are still pretty beat up. I rely on them too much. And I am a man. It’s not like I carry hand lotion in my chair pouch.

She has a strong handshake. It’s assertive, confident. She’s accustomed to meeting strangers. The Blackberry gave her a way. She’s about business, a professional. She dresses like the social workers at the rehab center, right down to the tiny nondescript gold earrings in her ears and the short haircut. She prefers practical to pretty. Maybe her Lean-In suit is carefully packed in her carry-on. I imagine it as some kind of expensive black fabric that discretely hugs her curves, because Lady Lorna is not flashy. Except for her smile. Her teeth are white and straight. Her cinnamon-colored lips don’t need lipstick, and she’s not wearing any.

Her palm is damp against mine. I’m flattered by that. She’s into me. Three years ago, facing what had happened to me, I worried about women, more specifically I worried about sex with women. It never was a problem before, but maybe that’s because I was the one on top, figuratively and literally. But I’m not tall, dark, and handsome anymore. The top dog days are over. In rehab there were plenty of lectures, videos, books, pamphlets, and personal testimonies. Plenty of the power of positive thinking. Scientific sex. Learning to work around the laws of Physics not with them. Meanwhile my dick was dead to me and equipped with a catheter. But I learned to adjust to it, with time, as I’ve done to most things. I’m not a lonely man, and when I position myself just right there’s still a prize in the Cracker Jacks, at least for my company. Turns out there is life after death, even a sex life. It’s just different.

Lorna’s a pretty name, and I tell her that. Sure it’s kind of old-fashion, and I’m pretty sure she’s not Scottish, although you can’t always tell. The pollsters struggle with it, but more and more of us don’t fit very neatly into categories. My full name’s Elijah and I’m not Jewish. My Moroccan mother and Mississippi father named their first-born for an old family friend who is. Perhaps Lorna has a similar story. In any case, she sparkles at the compliment for her name, and her pleasure is infectious. I enjoy it and find myself wanting to hold her hand for a long time, and I believe she’d let me, but twisting my back this way can’t go on much longer. 

I’m forced to let go first, and I sort of fall back against the seat, exhaling louder than I intended to, as if I’d just set down a heavy weight. Dammit. She notices because a faint furrow crinkles her brow for an instant. If she asks me if I’m okay I won’t be. Well-meaning people inevitably ask me if I’m okay, constantly reminding me that I’m not, not in their eyes anyway. There was a time when my body was like another one of my jock trophies that Mom still keeps in her antique curio cabinet. I displayed it. People admired it. 

“I’m dying for some coffee,” Lorna says as she lowers the middle seat’s tray table.

She passed.  

“Me too,” I say with a smile.

She’s beaming at me, and while I’m not saying that one thing has anything to do with the other, my back does feel better faster, as if she transmits contentment the way most people pass the flu. I relax. I don’t really know why. I just do.

There’s more chit-chat about early flights and stumbling through security in a sleepy daze. We talk about the crowded flight and inadequate carry-on storage. I don’t mention that I usually fly first class or business. And anyway these days I’m the carry-on. 

She’s vivacious, I silently conclude, as we talk, but definitely not a first-move kind of girl. I’m listening carefully for the hint of a husband, a boyfriend, maybe even a girlfriend. Maybe she’s an undercover nun. Do they still wear habits? Her hair is short. But no, she’s merely waiting for me to do something, say something. I bet she considers herself a feminist, but she’s as traditional as her name. But maybe not. I think she’s up for a little adventure. Short-lived of course. I prefer not to see myself as some kind of macho asshole but I guess maybe I’m a little old fashion too. Maybe it matters so much more to me now because I have so much more to prove.

We’ve come to a decision point. We can end this right here or have our coffee together and see where it takes us. If we stop now she makes a pleasant memory that will fade with time. If we go forward I risk learning I don’t like her, and maybe she discovers that she feels the same way about me. There’s a lot of can’t in my life, although she has to know that. What if I raise her expectations, or she raises mine, and nothing? A crash. Not exactly the right image when you’re on a plane. It’s not like I can change my seat like Baxter did. She’s already armed with her Kindle. I can simply take out my laptop and pretend to work. We can become two proverbial ships passing in the night. No hard feelings. 

Unless you count disappointment. I want to know her, know more about her, even if it’s only for a little while. She’s not a kid but she’s got a fresh face. I don’t think she’s wearing any makeup at all. I’m kind of amazed by that, how well she does plain. Most of the women I know don’t want to answer the front door without their cosmetic enhancements. Hell—some men don’t want to either. When I do T.V I even get made-up. But here she is basically bare-faced, and reminding me of a Hershey kiss, simple and sweet. But maybe it was just too early for her to put herself together this morning, I say in my head, reining myself in. Maybe she’s really as vain as most women are, as I am. The thing is I don’t know and I want to. It’s a short flight. Nothing ventured nothing gained. 

“Do you live in D.C.?” I ask, extending the invitation.

“No, I have a meeting for work,” she answers, accepting it. “What about you?”

“Also work,” I say. 

She closes her Kindle, giving me the sign that she could be mine for the duration. And what is that? Two hours? Yet I’m kind of excited. Like a school boy. We do a verbal exchange of business card facts: where we work, what we do. Her business is government. She’s Civil Service, and she’s amused by the fact that my job is to get her bosses elected.

“I hope we’re on the same side,” she says.

“What side would that be?” I ask.

I’m pretty sure I know. The only thing red about her is the blouse she’s wearing.

“The correct one,” she answers me without missing a beat and not divulging anything either. 

I laugh. She’s smart and funny. Government employees with their talking points. I’ve written a lot of those points myself. People like me make sure the Sunday news shows rarely reveal any news, unless it’s the news we want to reveal. 

The drink cart arrives at our row. “What can I get you?” the flight attendant who rescued Window Pain asks Lorna first.

“Coffee with extra cream and one Splenda,” she says.

“And what can I get you, Mr. Abbot?” the attendant turns her attention to me while her hands manage Lorna’s coffee.

I’m not surprised that she knows my name. I do stand out in a crowd so to speak.

“Coffee,” I say. “Black.”

The attendant passes Lorna’s cup of coffee over me, and then the Splenda and two creams, which apparently are not enough because Lorna asks for two more. I get my black coffee and sip it as I watch her prepare her concoction. I prefer espresso, and my favorite is Mom’s spiced coffee, with sugar cubes and no milk. I want to tease Lorna about taking a little coffee with her cream. It’s an old joke but maybe it’s too soon. I settle for watching her neatly clean up the tray table between us, carefully stacking the empty cream containers one into the other. That done, she finally sits back in her seat and drinks her coffee, if you can call it that.

Conversation is easy with her, but I’m also naturally good at it. Most people enjoy talking about themselves. All you have to do is ask the right key questions and things flow. Lorna coordinates a project aimed at developing long-term sustainable housing for homeless families. She dresses like a social worker because that’s what she is. She refers to her work as policy practice. “Structural interventions,” she explains. “Stable housing leads to all kinds of positive outcomes for people.” Apparently her work tackles an assortment of societal ills, addressing something she refers to as the determinants of health. I kind of glaze over at times, focusing instead on her slender neck and plump breasts. By the time the flight attendants do their first pass through to collect the trash I’m picturing Lorna on a city council, maybe in a state house. She’s impressive. I’d vote for her.

“But enough about me,” she eventually says. “Would I have seen you on MSNBC?”

“So not Fox then?” I tease.

She giggles at her own reveal. 

“What about CNN?” she asks.

“In either case my performance must have been pretty forgettable,” I say.

Yes, I’m part of the punditry class. Talking heads, the lot of us.

“I don’t watch the news 24/7, you know,” Lorna tells me. “Maybe I just missed you.”

“Good save,” I say.

“Well have you been on T.V.?”

“A few times,” I admit.

She appears to be impressed.

“Wow,” she says. “I’ll look for you next time.”

“Assuming I’m not on at two a.m.”

“I’m thinking you’re primetime,” she replies.

I get a little rush from that, an emotional one of course, but it feels good nonetheless.

“So who are you working for?” she asks. “Anybody I might know? Somebody big?”

“Client confidentiality,” I say with a grin. “I think you know something about that.”

“Just don’t reveal any names,” she coaxes.

Her voice is mellifluous. 

“I suspect you’re smart enough to figure it out regardless.”

She smiles, as a reddish tint rises up beneath her brown cheeks.

“Well okay, if you won’t tell me,” she pouts.

I want to touch her puckered lips, kiss them. My plumbing fails but there’s still water in the pipes, and it still gets hot. I’m not really sure that I have a type, but I’m kind of surprised that she is it. Shit—it’s nine o’clock in the morning and all I can think about is what she’s concealing beneath that black sweater and slacks. Maybe a lacy bra, a pair of black panties.  

“Maybe when I get to know you a little better,” I hear myself say.

Her eyes widen. She’s surprised too. I know what the words mean, what I’m asking. The plane is making its initial descent into D.C. Ninety minutes ago she was telling Window Pain that I can’t stand up. She must know there’s a lot more can’t’s where that one came from. But the end is near. They’ll carry me off last and give her plenty of time to put some distance between us.

“I’ll hold you to that,” she says.

Her eyes are shining. The knot tying up my intestines releases. It never used to be this hard before, but okay, it is what it is. Her response is vague but I can work with it. A flight attendant returns to the intercom to tell us to stow our tray tables and return our seatbacks to their upright positions. Lorna gets busy fishing around in her giant bag.

“Your seat belt,” I remind her.

“Okay,” she says hastily stuffing the bag back under the middle seat before sitting up and buckling herself in.

As the plane slows and descends, a flight attendant returns.

"Mr. Abbot?" she says.

"Yes," I reply.

"You're not making a connection, right?" she asks.

I hope I am, I think to myself, but confirm with the attendant that I'm not.

"Good," she says. "Will it be okay for you deplane after the other passengers?”

“Sure,” I reply.

And the first shall be last. The wheels drop from the belly of the plane. I don’t look at Lorna, afraid of what I might see in her eyes. Instead I take a minute to let myself worry if my chair made it on board and in good shape. I can’t really be okay until I’m back in it again and mobile. Each time they take it away from me it feels like I’m losing my legs all over again. The plane touches down, bouncing a little, and so does my right leg. I draw a deep breath willing it to stop. I’m so fucking crippled. It’s not what I want her to see.

“Here we are,” Lorna says.

“Welcome to D.C.,” I say before the intercom attendant does.

The local time is 9:30. We get the weather report and baggage claim instructions. People take out their phones to make calls and send texts as the plane taxis to the gate. I should send Hal an update with my ETA. It might be closer to eleven before I get to the office. The plane stops and we hear the familiar freedom chimes, followed by the chorus of metal clicks as seatbelts are released. Everybody's in a hurry. The center aisle instantly fills. I hear Lorna release her belt too. There’s no need for me to do so. I’m going to be here awhile.

The overhead bins are opened. I watch. Lorna bends down to collect her bag. If she’s going to hold me to it, I need a way to contact her; and I don’t know her last name. In the old days I’d have it already, her number, and plans to hook-up this evening.

Once the forward door is opened, the rough river of passengers with their luggage begins to flow out and away. Lorna glances at her wrist watch. Her meeting began at nine. She’ll have to climb over me again, but it’s time for her to join the flow. She can. I can’t.

Pretty Fat Update!

New update! This chapter begs the question: if a non-dev is in a relationship with a quad and they have phone/cyber sex, is it OK if the things he describes doing to her aren't things that he's actually physically capable of doing?

Chapter 10

Table of Contents

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Plain Love: Chapter Five

Any other time I’d be chomping at the bit to get off the plane. In fact, I hate it when the aisle-seat passenger on my row just sits there calmly even after the forward door has been opened. Sometimes I even stand up in that awkward bent position just to shame some action on the other passenger’s part. But I don’t do that today. I am chomping all right but not to go. Because unless Eli does something or says something, and quickly, to go means I’ll never see him again.

It occurs to me that while I have developed this enormous, ludicrous, absolutely absurd crush on him, as if I were some kind of prepubescent girl drooling over a boy in a teen rock band, in a few more minutes I might find out that all I was to Eli Abbot was in-flight entertainment, on par with the airline magazines you find in the seat pockets in front of you. No one takes those magazines with them. They’re meant to be left behind having served their purpose of providing momentary distraction.

But I guess that will have to be okay. My life will go on, just not the way I want it to. During the flight I have indulged myself in many fancies: everything from dinner tonight to something sweeter than dessert afterwards. Petting only of course, no penetration, not on the first date, and it might be off the table anyway; although I recall that it wasn’t for Tammy. She enjoyed bragging to me about her various sexual conquests. I used to feel like a total prude by comparison. I am kind of a late bloomer and a slow starter.

Of course as a woman Tammy played catcher. Eli is supposed to be the pitcher. There are pills to help with that kind of thing now, but maybe he can’t throw it across the plate. I embarrass myself with such thoughts seeing as how they are utterly premature. But still I gaze at his gorgeous profile and think to myself what a loss if all those lovely genes are trapped inside. And in any case I’d be happy just to kiss his mouth. I’ve been staring at it all morning, imagining the brush of his beard, wondering if his mustache tickles. I guess I’m not all that prudish anymore. 

But he hasn’t asked me for my number. Sure he suggested that we could get to know each other better. It was after all a polite thing to say. He could probably tell that I had gone gaga over him. He had simply been kind enough to toss me a few crumbs. And we had had fun. I’ll get to brag to friends about meeting an honest-to-God political operative. Some of them might be impressed, especially once I figure out who Eli works for, or I see him on T.V.  

I argue with myself that that is enough, and breathe deeply to suppress the butterflies of anticipation on the one hand and swallow the dreaded disappointment on the other. Doom seems to move closer and closer, one vacated row at a time. I’m actually grateful when someone has to go against the flow to retrieve a bag that was placed in bin above a row that is situated behind them. Every minute counts.

Maybe we can just be friends I offer my heart the notorious consolation prize. I could follow him on Twitter. I’m convinced he lives an exciting life. From now on I’ll definitely be looking for him on T.V. and scanning the Internet for articles with his op-ed byline. He might be the coolest person I ever almost knew. That’s something, I sigh, resigning myself.

Eli looks over at me again, finally, and kind of smiles. It’s a crooked expression and doesn’t come anywhere close to his eyes, but I smile back. Far be it from me to sulk. Ironically it does sort of feel like waiting to be asked to dance. He must have to wait a lot now, I think; and he must hate it. He probably never did before. He would have definitely been a road warrior. I can see him, rushing through security check points, reading his emails on the terminal train, juggling Starbucks and his cellphone with casual efficiency, navigating the whole wide world and too busy to notice it.

Maybe I wouldn’t really like him if I did get to know him. He does have a temper, right? And he can be very direct, and yet not always when he needs to be. Poor Mr. Baxter. I suppose he’s off the plane by now. Eli is proud but he has a conscience too. He was sorry for being so stubborn before, and he didn’t blame me for intervening. So what if he’s a little edgy? I kind of like that. As soon as I can I’m going to Google him, and get myself a Twitter account.

“I was thinking,” Eli says. “It would be good to have an SME on homelessness. Someone I could run issues by as they come up.”

Yes, that would be good I nod in agreement. I must have made an impression on him talking about my work. I feel good about that at least, and I hurry through a mental rundown of the list of advocates and academics I know who can fit the bill. It’s a little surprising that he doesn’t already have somebody, but then again homelessness moves in and out of political fashion.

“It’s a national problem,” I say, “But there are regional differences. I can refer you to a number of--”

“I was thinking of you,” he interrupts me.

“Oh,” I reply, on the one hand thrilled that he would consider me and on the other certain that I’d never be permitted to do it.

“Seems to me you’d be perfect,” Eli says.

Men might not make passes at girls who wear glasses, but they do respect our brains. I can be his work colleague. It’s crumbs under the table, but it’s better than being nobody, and it’s a pathway to being friends. I would like to be his friend.

“I couldn’t do it on the record,” I inform him. “Not unless I get it cleared and that’s pretty much impossible. Our communications people would never go for it.”

“I see,” he says coolly.

“I mean anything I could tell you officially is already on the web,” I hastily explain. “They just don’t let us…you know...Government rules.” 

“What about unofficially?” Eli asks in a way that has me vibrating again.

I probably still shouldn’t do it but no one has to know, and I don’t have to tell him everything. It would be nice to talk to him again, assuming he didn’t simply pass the task off to some assistant or intern. 

“On background?” I ask, showing him that I know the way they talk in the political world.

He chuckles, and this time the light of his smile returns to his eyes.

“Yeah,” he says. “On background.”

According to the communications training they made us take at work, you should never trust the reporter’s lure of off the record. If you say it they can print it, air it, repeat it, and get you in trouble or get you fired. But Eli’s not a journalist I tell myself. He’s the man of my dreams, and this way I can keep on dreaming.  

“Okay,” I agree.

He reaches into his inside breast pocket and brings out his phone.

“What’s your number?” he asks, prepared to enter it into his contacts list.

I can only imagine how long the list is, and all the beautiful, powerful people who comprise it. But it’s not like I haven’t had the number request before, from guys I was hot for too, however this time I’m almost too awe-struck to speak. Fortunately, I have been concealing my business card in the palm of my hand just waiting for an opportunity to give it to him. It’s government-issued, so not fancy, just your basic black type on a white background, but it feels a little like Cinderella’s magic slipper, imbued with wonderful powers.  

“You can reach me here,” I say presenting the card to Eli.

He’s actually surprised by the card, or so says the arched brow over his right eye. He takes the card from me, touching my hand with his strong fingers. I’m all tingly.

“Perhaps I shouldn’t contact you at work,” he says. “Given the circumstances. I don’t want to get you in trouble.”

He’s playing with me, and I like it. 

“It’s okay,” I say, playing back. “You can call me.” I pause for effect before adding, “One thing leads to another.”

We look at each other for a moment. I’m feeling rather pleased with myself. Maybe I at least look sophisticated despite the fact that I’m feeling quite sappy. 

“Well said,” Eli confirms my projected image.

He returns his phone along with my business card to his breast pocket. For some stupid reason it matters so much to me that the pocket is on the left where you usually place your hand over your heart to say the Pledge of Allegiance. I want to make it a sign. He will call me. By now even the rows behind us are emptying. I really do need to go. Stacey is expecting me.

“Nice meeting you, Mr. Abbot,” I say standing up.

“The pleasure’s been all mine, Ms. Eaton,” he replies.

This time when I cross over him I keep my head up and my eyes opened, and for a single second I straddle him, hovering. He sweeps his gaze over me from waist to eyes in a way that has been telling women we are beautiful since Eve. In his brilliant ebony eyes that are almond shaped and adorned with those luscious lashes I see an invitation. I feel his fingertips lightly graze my hips. Another second passes. Then I step into the aisle. Once I’m there Eli hands me my tote bag and our hands touch again. 

“Bye,” I say unable to come up with anything better.

“I’ll be in touch,” he tells me.

I smile at him and he returns it. I’m giddy, but I turn and walk away quickly stopping just long enough to grab my rollerboard from the open overhead bin. I don’t dare look back, and I wonder if he watches me, and I hope that he does. There’s a bounce in my step as I make my way up the aisle. He put it there. Maybe we’ll only be friends, friends with benefits. 

At the of the end of the jet way they have parked Eli’s wheelchair. It’s a really nice chair, if wheelchairs can be nice. It’s sleek and modern, befitting him. Two sky-caps stand nearby waiting with an airline aisle chair that they will use to bring Eli off the plane. I remember Tammy and what it was like for her. 

At the top of the jet way, I check my watch again, and then step to the side in order to send Stacey a Blackberry message that I’m on my way. As I start down the concourse, a woman walking next to me says to me, “Meeting your husband at Baggage Claim? I used to do the same thing. It’s a shame they always make them wait to get off the plane last.”

“Excuse me?” I reply vaguely recalling her from the plane.

“It is nice to be able to board first though,” she adds. “Guess it goes with the territory.”

She thinks Eli and I are together, and that he’s my husband. Wow.

“Yes,” I say with a big smile, deliberately choosing not to correct her. “I guess so.”

I peel off to stop at a women’s restroom. I suppose the woman will figure out her mistake when I don’t show up at Baggage Claim, and Eli does. In the meantime, I delight myself with the fantasy of us being together. How cool would that be. I imagine my first Twitter tweet being a line borrowed from the old Jeffrey Osborne song: #planelove.


New Story: All Of You

Hi everyone!

I know it’s been some time… but I am back! With a new story! And not just any story but a monster of a story that has eaten away my free time and my brain during the last – what? six, seven? – months or so. So I’m happy to finally be able to dump it on you, hehe =)

I have no idea which days are free for posting but I guess no one has posted on Saturdays during the last weeks at least so I should be fine today? Tell me in the comments should I be wrong and I will delete this post! 

I aim at posting weekly but I won’t make promises and I won’t pick a fixed day because I know myself very well.

Here is Chapter 1 of All Of You! I am excited to hear your opinion, of course. Feel free to point out any mistakes (English prepositions will one day be the death of me). I’ll figure out how to do a table of contents some time later… Enjoy!


Friday, June 3, 2016

Plain Love: Chapter Six

Hal leans forward, intently studying the whiteboard where I have drawn out the steps in my plan to win the primary for Ohio’s District 10 congressional seat. I think it’s a good plan, but he’s the boss and has the final say. We need to avoid a run-off to preserve our candidate’s resources for November. We could win it all if he wins the primary decisively, so we’re aiming for better than a plurality. I’d like to see us in the mid-fifties at least, but the latest polls are tightening. It could turn into a three-man race. Our man is losing ground.

The result from the last poll is what generated my emergency trip to D.C. Hal prefers face-to-face meetings when things are going wrong, and as I said, he’s the boss. It’s not necessarily time to panic, but we do need to get a handle on the situation. Dave, the firm’s second in command, couldn’t get back to D.C. today. He’s got a full schedule in New York, but he has managed to get away long enough to join our meeting via conference call.

“Eli, this looks good,” Hal finally grants his approval. “What do you think, Dave?”

“Sounds solid,” Dave says although he is without the benefit of the whiteboard visuals.

Hal and I are in Hal’s office. Dave is a voice coming out of the black orb in the middle of the conference table.

“Can you be in Dayton Friday morning, Eli?” Hal wants to know. “I’m thinking you probably have to stay for the weekend. We need to get going on this.”

“Sure,” I say without hesitation even though this means I’ll be spending more days on the road than I have planned for. 

But that's how it is sometimes. I’m not senior enough to be solely the brains of an operation. I’m still required to be the brawn too, which means being on the ground, more often than not, providing direct oversight. It’s hard work and that was true even when my legs weren’t wheels. Yet there was a time when I lived for this, and I want to again. The fact that Hal doesn’t bat an eye at deploying me to Dayton feels like a victory. I’m up for it, and he knows it. When a plan works out, particularly when it’s your plan, you get to feel like Superman. I have to say I like that feeling. 

“Fantastic!” says Hal rising to his feet. “I’ll let the team know you’re coming. Cindy can make the arrangements. I knew you were the man to set things right.”

Yeah, I am that man. Since I've been back I've been mainly assigned to the southern region. It feels good to be back in a swing state. I begin the mental task of planning the trip, thinking about the various supplies I need to take with me. I don’t travel light anymore. Cindy will help. She'll have what I need delivered to my room. I count on her. Everybody does. She’s the logistics queen, our own super-secret agent of travel. 

“They’ll be glad to hear you’re coming,” Dave says from the black orb.

Hal walks over and slaps me hard on the shoulder, then squeezes the muscle in a show of fatherly affection. “Like I told you before, it’s good to have you back in the big leagues.”

I look up at him—remembering a time when it was the other way around between us because I am 6’2” stretched out, and Hal is much shorter, and getting rounder with the years. I smile. Hal’s a good guy. So is Dave. I’ve been working for Forward Vision, the consulting firm they founded, since I was an intern during my graduate school days. Career wise Hal is sort of like a father to me, and Dave’s like an uncle. Forward Vision is my family, so I suppose that means I have three sides to my family: Moroccan, southern, and political. I’m made up of all of them.

I’ve learned a lot from Hal and Dave. And when I was flat on my back, looking up at the world from a black hole, Hal came down to Atlanta to assure me that I would get up again, and that my job would be waiting for me when I did. “You’re still you,” he told me. “You can handle this.” To be honest, that’s what everybody said, some version of it anyway. Mom cried when she said it. Dad looked desperate and helpless but he said it too. And Nancy was on a mission to make me believe the worst was over. I had survived. 

I made my sister throw out all the get well cards. Their pep talks and prayers made me crazy once I understood that well wasn't going to mean what it did before. In those days I was glad to see visitors go and scared they wouldn’t come back. I wanted to die and I wanted to live, but since modern medicine had pretty much taken that basic choice away from me, I made up my mind to crawl out of that hole, and reclaim the life I had left. I had to. All of them were counting on me. I come from good stock. Mom and Dad had defied the odds and their families to be together. They are fighters for what they believe in, including themselves, and they raised Nancy and me to be the same way.  

“That’s right. You’re firing on all cylinders,” Dave is saying from the orb, mixing the metaphors.

“Dave, you ol' geezer,” Hal ribs him. “These young guns don’t know anything about cylinders. They talk in RAMs.”

We all laugh. Truth be told I wasn’t very mechanical before. The only machines I cared about were the political ones. However now that I’m part cyborg, I’m pretty good with tools. I can fix a lot of things, not just campaigns. 

“I don’t care how you say it,” replies Dave. “We play this right we could sweep Ohio, and you know what that means.”

Yes. Ohio is a legendary bellwether. The 34th largest state by area and the 7th largest by population. Win Ohio, lead the Free World.

“Can you put an e-file together and send it to Dave and the team?” Hal asks gesturing towards the whiteboard. 

“Not a problem,” I say. “I have it sketched out already. I’ll do some more tweaking this afternoon and send it out.”

“Perfect,” says Hal. “It’s genius, Eli. That’s why we pay you the big bucks. You earned it today.”

“Agreed,” Dave adds. “If we stop the slide in the 10th we ought to put this plan in place to prevent it from happening anywhere else.”

“Keeping in mind every district is different,” I caution them. 

“Yeah, yeah,” Hal says dismissively. “That’s what they tell us, but don’t forget, people are people wherever they are.” 

Hal has built a successful political consulting firm without benefit of a political science degree. He’s not even a lawyer. But his resume blows me away. Mainly he learned his skills as an activist working from the ground up, going on purely observation and instinct. He hired people like me for the theory. I’m lucky to have him as a boss and a mentor. In the age of technology, instinct is underrated.

“Well I better get to work on this,” I say, rolling over to the table to collect my laptop and file folders.

“You heading back to Atlanta tonight?” Hal asks.

I think of Lorna. She doesn’t return until tomorrow. Maybe I could have dinner with her tonight, or a drink. I have her email address from the business card. She has her Blackberry. I have a feeling she’d like that, and it makes me a little excited too. See—instinct.

“No,” I say, pulling together another plan in my head, this one a personal one. “I’ll catch a flight to Dayton tomorrow from here.”

I want to see Lorna, and I don’t want to wait. But it’s half-past six before I finally make it to the hotel room Cindy has reserved for me, and I’m wiped out, too wiped out I admit to myself for a first date. I might be a young gun, but it’s been a long day and I’m just about out of bullets. It’s all I can do to transfer out of my chair onto the bed where I collapse, as a wave of spasms pass. I could really use a shower and some food, but I doze off instead.

About an hour later the jazzy tune of my mobile phone wakes me up. I grope for it on the night stand and put it to my ear. “Yeah, hello,” I mumble.

“Eli? Did I wake you?”
It’s Cindy.
“Oh hey,” I say. “Yeah, I guess I crashed.”
“I’m sure you needed to,” she says. “Adrenaline will only take you so far.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” I laugh dryly. “What’s up?”
“I’m downstairs in the lobby. I went by the CVS for you and I have your itinerary for the Dayton trip.”
“Oh. Why didn’t you just have it delivered? I’m coming to the office in the morning.”

Yes, she does handle all manner of travel related matters for us, which for me means making sure my hotel rooms are handicap accessible, and today it meant also having my luggage sent over from the office. And she is a friend, but picking up my bowel and bladder supplies at the drugstore, that’s above and beyond the call of duty.  
“I thought maybe you’d like to sleep in,” she says. “May I come up?”
“Uh…yeah, sure,” I say.
I hurry back into my chair, and by the time Cindy’s knocking on the door I have at least washed my face. I open the door and push back so that she can come in.

“Hi!” she says brightly.
“Hey,” I say.
“Here you go,” she says handing me the large CVS bag. Then with a little flourish, she adds, “And here’s your itinerary. First class this time! I got you an upgrade.”
“Thanks,” I say on both counts.
First Class is a relief certainly, although Coach isn’t so bad. At least it wasn’t today. I smile a little. Window Pain might be a small price to pay if this turns out.  
“You didn’t have to go out of your way--” I start.
“It’s not out of my way,” Cindy interrupts me. “I wanted to check on you besides. You looked a little tired when you left the office.”
“It’s been a long day,” I say.
“I bet,” she concurs. “But now you’ve had a little nap. So have you eaten?”
The tone she takes with me reminds me of my mother. Cindy’s estimated age—because she won’t tell me—is probably midway between mine and Mom’s. Her shoulder-length blonde hair is full and flattering but the browner roots and silver strands I have seen only by chance remind me that the color comes from a bottle.  However it doesn't matter, Cindy is a beautiful woman.    
“I’ll get room service later,” I say taking the CVS bag to the bathroom and depositing it there.
Back in the room, Cindy has taken a seat at the small table where I’ll likely have my dinner later. Her long tanned legs are crossed. The heels of her black pumps are three inches high easy. How do women do it, I wonder to myself, parade around in those things, and then I recall Lorna’s sensible flats. So all of them don't I guess. Although her heels do complement Cindy’s sleek legs. What’s the maxim: no pain no gain.   
“This hotel has a great restaurant on the top floor," Cindy tells me. "I checked. Or if you’re feeling pubbish they have a sports bar that’s popular too. They brew their own beer.”
She wants to have dinner with me. I wanted to have dinner with Lorna. But Cindy’s an old friend. She's seen me at my worst. I’m comfortable with her. I mean, fuck—she brought me my toilet stuff.
“Sounds interesting,” I say settling myself with the idea of her company. “You always know the best places.”
“For the right people,” she replies, her red lips parted slightly in a soft smile.
I’m one of those people, one of her chosen as it were. I have been since the first summer I interned at Forward Vision. The firm was smaller then. There were less people and less office space. Because I was only an intern I was assigned a tiny desk and a computer that barely worked together, and set up in one corner of Cindy’s crowded office. But I loved it, despite doing all the shit-work that interns are usually tasked to do. I got to sit in on all the important meetings, and afterwards Cindy would explain to me what everything meant from her perspective, which was and is wise. Cindy’s been with Hal and Dave from their start, and I swear she knows as much as they do about running campaigns, plus she knows how to get us wherever we need to be in a moment’s notice.
But the logistics of campaigning was not all she taught me. There were other lessons too, life lessons I prefer to call them. Cindy was a cougar before cougar was the term. Back then I was both cock-sure and sure of my cock, an academic scholar with plenty of swag. I breezed through my classes and my relationships with the ease of entitlement. I usually got what I wanted and actually considered myself generous for allowing others to share in the experience. Cindy was not impressed. I had gifts she conceded, and lots of them, “But you’re young and dumb,” she told me. “You have so much to learn.”
“I do all right,” I remember telling her.
“As if just all right would ever satisfy you,” she had replied, already understanding me perhaps better than I understood myself.
Before returning to classes that fall I attended the other school of Cindy; and thus began an intermittent affair that has lasted for years: through several girlfriends, a couple of whom I was pretty serious about, and two husbands, one to whom she’s still married. Once during a lull for both of us I suggested we should maybe be exclusive. We obviously had a good thing, I told her.
“We want to be together,” I said. “Let’s just do it.”
“Darling,” she had replied stroking my cheek like I was a child, “You’re not ready for that.”
Perhaps I wasn’t. Perhaps I’m not. But I wasn’t use to rejection and Cindy stung my pride. I never made the offer again, but we have continued the affair. And when I was born again as a cripple Cindy flew to Atlanta, once I was home from rehab, and patiently deflowered me.
“Would you like something to drink?” I offer her.
The room Cindy has reserved for me is not only completely accessible but comes with a decently stocked minibar.
“You need to eat,” she reminds me.
I’m not a kid, but she is right. I don’t really feel like navigating a strange restaurant, and I probably should encourage Cindy to go, but old habits die hard, so I retrieve two bottles of Perrier from the mini-fridge and bring them to the table where she’s sitting. We drink our waters and talk about various petty office intrigues, while I peruse the room service menu, and wonder to myself what Lorna is doing.
Years ago, Cindy and I established the hard and fast rule that we would not discuss our relationships with each other. Not that I have a relationship with Lorna. In any case I instinctively know I shouldn't tell Cindy about meeting Lorna on the flight this morning even though I'd really like to. It’s like since I can’t talk to Lorna I want to talk about her. Maybe I am hungry. I’m certainly goofy.
I drain the last of my Perrier and set the empty bottle on the table. I do a lift and shift in the chair. “Why don’t we order you some dinner?” Cindy says picking up the room service menu. Her polished nails are a glossy rose, matching the lipstick she’s wearing. Cindy’s attractive, seductive. She’s always known this. Lorna’s fingernails are about as short as mine. Their pink color comes from the inside out though, like the blush on her cheeks.   
“I recommend the salmon with dill sauce,” Cindy says closing the menu and placing it back on the table. “And maybe a nice chardonnay that we can share.” Leaning forward she places her well-manicured hand on my right thigh and strokes it. I can’t feel it but I can see it. Cindy accepted my revised body from the start, and she continues to regard it as if it still possesses gifts. She enjoys it in ways that lets me forgive it. When our eyes meet I know exactly what she wants. I want it too. But not with her. Not tonight. The round mounds of her breasts beneath the white blouse are lovely. Her entire body is, her trim waist and flat belly. Cindy takes care of herself. She’s aging with the elegance of a Hollywood actress. She's practically timeless. I have fondled these breasts, I think to myself. I know them. I have had them in my mouth, and sucked them until the nipples hardened with desire, until the beautiful cougar purred like a kitten. 
I could sleep in tomorrow. Cindy would leave in the middle of the night, because she reserves the morning light for the man she’s married to. I could wake up in the morning well rested and ready to go to Dayton, maybe no longer obsessing about a social worker in a cardigan sweater that my mother might wear.  
Yet I push back, taking my leg away from Cindy’s touch. A faint pout pushes through her smile, dimming it.
“I’m sorry,” I say. “I was up really early this morning. I’m beat.”
“Okay,” she nods, her smile brightening again. “I understand.”
Good thing she does because I’m not sure I do. I like that being with Cindy comes with no strings attached. It keeps it simple. Nothing changes even when everything does. There are no consequences with her, no future to consider, or worry about. I’m sure I’m not her only other lover. When I was out of commission, she didn’t pine away for me. Cindy doesn’t do that. She doesn’t need to. But she does care for me. I trust her. We’ve got a good thing going. But tonight it doesn’t feel like enough. Tonight I’m thinking a few strings might be kind of nice. The faint scent of vanilla. I'm recalling the sweet soft scent of vanilla. 
Later, after the salmon and chardonnay are consumed alone in my room to the tune of cable news and commentary, I finally take a shower and get back into bed. It feels good to stretch out but I don’t fall asleep. My brain buzzes with work and women, and Window Pain, the thought of whom makes me laugh dryly at myself. I was really the pain, not him.
And yet Lorna had my back. She stood up for me. Thinking about this makes me smile. On the night stand is both my phone and her business card. I’ve already entered her contact information and could have tossed the card, but I haven’t. I pick it up now, turning it over and over between my fingers. She had made up her mind to give it to me before I had asked for it, but it occurs to me that if I hadn’t asked I wouldn’t have it. My bashful babe is no shrinking violet. Like most women, she knows what she wants and she knows how to get it. I came up with the excuse and she was ready with the solution. Like she said, one thing leads to another.
So when I dial her office number, knowing full well that she’s not there, I’m just going along with the program. Her voicemail greeting is cheerful, welcoming, and it tells me that she will return my call as soon as she’s back in the office. So Monday at the earliest, which feels like a very long time.
“Hi, Lorna,” I begin after the tone. “It’s uh Eli, Eli Abbot. I’m on my way to Dayton for this congressional race, and I’m reviewing the issues and was just wondering what the housing, and uh homeless situation looks like in the area. Give me a call when you get this message,” I close with my mobile phone number and hope one thing really does lead to another.