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by Vilia Kinell
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© - 2007 Vilia Kinell, all rights reserved.
Disclaimer: None needed. They're mine.
Language: English. F-word present once or twice. “Dotcomrade” – Slang for someone you chat with online, but have never actually met.
Sex: Not in this one either. Sorry. ;-) But, as with my previous work - This is Alternative Fiction, meaning physical expression of love between two adult, consenting women is depicted, hinted at and/or punned with. If this is illegal where you are or you are under the age of eighteen (18), please grow up, move and come back later. If it offends you – Go away.
Thanks: My Betas Tintin (for telling me “it’s not over till you make it over…”) and Beanie (for keeping an eye on me). Thank you, me hearties!!
Notes: This is the follow-up to If We Had Sex. Read that one first. It'll take you five minutes and save you a question or two.
A Thousand Words
“Blimey,” was all I could manage to read before hitting the back button as something very close to panic painfully grabbed me and shook me around. I stared at the message’s subject which was uncharacteristically barren, either forgotten or ignored. I wondered why it had been overlooked. In shock, perhaps? Was she so surprised by my unintentional response that she forgot to fill it in? Or was she ignoring it, either thinking there was no need for it or, much to my personal preference, skipping it in order to get a reply together faster?
The possibilities were daunting.
A couple of minutes passed as I looked for something else to occupy my time with. There was a new, rare lot in that needed to be authenticated and appraised before auction but this was not the time to conduct such activities alone. A couple of contracts needed my signature, which was easily taken care of, a few files I had gone over earlier in the day were replaced in their rightful home in the filing cabinet and the windows really did need a good cleaning... I stopped distracting myself while still only thinking about that one... The last thing my employees needed to see was me, the owner of this auction house, performing the duties of the cleaning crew. That would just send all sorts of wrong messages…
Ah, yes… Messages… My eyes drifted back to the computer screen. Why was I so worked up over this? The message had been short, I had seen that much. The suspense of what she had written within the small space of a single line was killing me yet I couldn’t bring myself to take another look at it.
I had successfully managed to stay away from everything computer related that wasn’t downright necessary after the little spectacle that took place last night. I had been forced to boot up the machine as I arrived at the office this morning in order to print some documents but I had stayed well away from the internet. I was lucky to have been in a hurry at the time; otherwise I would probably have seen the message that she had sent me and been thoroughly distracted for the duration of the day. But now, at the end of the day and also the workweek, I had run out of excuses. I was just being plain chicken and I was fully aware of it too.
“G’night, Ms. Sands,” one of the up and coming new apprentice auctioneers said as he momentarily stopped by my open door.
“Good night, Mike,” I responded without looking up, trying to look very busy so he would go away and leave me to procrastinate in peace.
“How’d you know it was me?” he continued, obviously not picking up on my self-imposed predicament.
Suddenly realizing the young man posed an excellent diversion, I looked up and smiled at him. “Because you are the only one crazy enough to stay behind this late on a Friday when you don't need to," I said.
He puffed out his chest and grinned smugly in an unconscious, proud reaction to me knowing who he was.
“What are you still doing here?”
“Oh, this and that. Just heading out now. How about you?”
“I’m hopeless,” I said before catching myself. Quickly I looked away and waved a few papers in the air before finding a manila envelope and making a show of sending something very important to some equally important person.
“Last minute changes,” I explained and Mike seemed to be satisfied with that. Not that it’s any of his business why I’m here so late without being engulfed in some antique statue or something, but that’s beside the point. At least I didn’t tell him it’s only because here at work I had a reason for not checking my private e-mail. At home I had no such justifications.
“Well, I should get going. See you on Monday,” he said and with a nod from me he left.
Like yesterday, I was left looking out over the large, desolate, open workspace below the executive’s level. Having your office several levels above the main floor, along the impressive marble walls, can be as much a vantage point as it can be an aquarium. Even though I could now very clearly see I was once again the only one still in the office complex, I felt like I was being watched. Somehow I knew that meant a certain someone was waiting for me to write back to her.
* * *
I finally managed to leave the office and the false haven of my supposed workload a full, agonizing hour later and got to my car without further incident. Traffic was light, no construction work forcing me to take long detours and no red lights slowing my progress. I was home within thirty minutes. Too soon, really, but at the same time – oh so very much too late.
At this point my nerves had calmed somewhat and been taken over by a new sense of giddiness. Maybe it was the Friday night, the looming freedom of the weekend or the prospect of my dotcomrade’s response being of a positive nature, I don’t know, but suddenly I couldn’t be more thrilled by the easy journey home.
My ritual of a quick shower followed by a nuked dinner also did its bit to distract me.
It wasn’t until I actually laid eyes on my laptop that I realized that all that excitement I had felt in the car was only because I had then been protected by an invisible bubble of ‘cannot’. I couldn’t get online while driving and therefore was under no such pressure. I didn’t ‘have to’ simply because I couldn’t. The moment that small portable PC came into view I knew I once again had the ball in my court and felt a very strong need to use it just because I could.
And yes, I was feeling highly immature at this point.
If I was to be completely honest with myself, I knew I was having a, dare I say it, mad crush on this woman. The mere thought of it had had me both giddy and nervous as hell for some time now, all without me really acknowledging the feelings for what they were. And to think that I used to be good at boxing up my feelings and just get on with things... it was next to laughable. The state of my adult heart had never been so close to my early teen years as it had in the last twenty-four hours.
The brutally honest part of my emotional being told the more careful and calculating, brainy side of me the blatantly uncomplicated reality of the situation – I was scared shitless of rejection.
It was that simple. And I had known it yesterday too when I felt her message hitting my inbox.
It could be that my annoyance of admitting I was scared of something was what fueled me in that instant. I forced myself back to my regular behavior; stuffing my fear aside and opening the e-mail without a subject-line. It was time to just get on with it.
Blimey. What can I say? Did you mean it?
My head shook slightly as I read it again. What did she mean by that? Of course I meant it!
The thought somewhat winded me as I for the first time allowed myself to think about it. I had had fun filling the thing out and on some level I probably was a little more honest than initially intended but hearing myself voicing the fact gave a new truth to it. More stunned than anything else, and with the fear now completely vanished, I hit Reply and typed back;
Yes, I did.
I hit Send before giving myself the time to think it over to any greater lengths.
* * *
It was but two hours later, at ten pm, that my Instant Messenger pinged as the subject of my thoughts logged on. I contemplated dropping her a line, but my status said “Away” so I decided to hide behind that and see if she contacted me instead.
Sure enough, just moments later a window popped up on my screen;
Did I want to do this now? What was ‘this’ to begin with? What could I say? What should I say? Several moments passed where I seriously considered ignoring her, saving myself from… god knows what.
Then it hit me. She still wanted to talk! What about was beyond me as I for the moment could only think one single thought – I didn’t scare her away!
ScribbleGirl: Oh, good.
Time passed by slowly as I couldn’t think of anything to write. It’s amazing how awkward a silence of the typed kind can be.
Puck: Talking is good.
I can’t believe I wrote that. The seconds ticked by again.
Puck: Why did you send it?
Moment of truth, I hoped. Either I was in a jam or something good might actually come from this. Fatally embarrassing, but good nonetheless. She was quiet for a very long while.
ScribbleGirl: Why is that?
Puck: Give and take, my dear. I answered your
ScribbleGirl: Inquiring minds want to know?
Puck: Don’t say it as a question!
ScribbleGirl: What difference does it make?
Puck: Either you know why you sent it or you
ScribbleGirl: I wanted to know.
There it was! She wanted to know. The up until now strangely absent butterflies made their entrance and I couldn’t help but to smile a little. She wanted to know…
ScribbleGirl: Of course, yes!
Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod!
ScribbleGirl: You see? Give over, you’ve got to give
ScribbleGirl: Because I said so!
Puck: You’re the boss of me now?
ScribbleGirl: Maybe I am!
Puck: How’s your memory?
Puck: The bulletin… The question about who would
ScribbleGirl: It is always the submissive that has all
Okay, there was truth in that, I had to admit, and for a brief while I forgot why we were having this conversation. She soon reminded me though.
Puck: Tell you what?
I had the most delicious grin forming on my lips and could have done just about anything to have seen her at that moment. It occurred to me that I didn’t know what she looked like. Or her name, for that matter.
Puck: What’s your name?
ScribbleGirl: Tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine.
Puck: Nice to meet you… sort of… :-P
ScribbleGirl: Likewise. Now, my question?
I could just see her stomping her foot impatiently, probably with her arms crossed and a smirk on her face. What should I really say here? I was drunk? I hadn’t really been drunk drunk, but buzzed was buzzed, I figured.
I guess… my thoughts traveled into typed words;
* * *
It was some time after midnight, after several subtle and not-so-subtle innuendos, when our conversation took on a more direct approach.
Of all the places this could possibly have lead, I was gravely disappointed. Not at her query, obviously, but at the fact that she had to ask. What I wouldn’t give to have her right here in front of me instead of this hi-tech machine. It did offer a certain barrier to hide behind, easing the situation by taking away any potential stuttering, blushing, breaking of cutlery or dropping of knives and forks and other such evils, unless you count typos, but right now I knew with absolute clarity that I couldn’t care less about the theoretical safety of it all. I wanted to meet her and even though we had been ‘talking’ for an eternity by my standards, I didn’t know where she lived, what she did for a living, if she had pets…
I did know about her belief in the paranormal, complete with aliens and ghosts, her love of people-watching, her talents for gossiping without getting too personal… She was well traveled both in body and spirit and claimed her lust for adventure was the sole reason she had managed to escape the ‘horrid climb on the corporate ladder’. Her words, not mine. I had to chuckle at our differences.
However, being dressed in nothing but a silk robe after my shower was now something I wasn’t so sure I wanted her to know.
ScribbleGirl: But not a lot…
She was quiet again for a while.
Did she really just say that?
When she didn’t say anything else I decided to get daring.
Okay, so somewhat daring would have to do.
I wondered what she was thinking. ‘Not nothing’ certainly was a wide category. I could be wearing anything.
Puck: It suits me.
Puck: How would you know?
ScribbleGirl: Because you seem to be the sort of
Um, excuse me?
ScribbleGirl: A feeling.
ScribbleGirl: As if you know what looks good and
Puck: Is that so…
ScribbleGirl: That is so… ;-)
Puck: Why thank you.
ScribbleGirl: Care to prove me right?
A knot formed instantly deep in my belly.
ScribbleGirl: Send me a photo.
The knot twisted. And turned.
ScribbleGirl: A fair trade.
Puck: A photo of you?
ScribbleGirl: If you want.
Puck: Oh, I want!
ScribbleGirl: I’ll see if I can dig one up then…
Puck: *hands over shovel*
ScribbleGirl has sent you the File “pic.jpg”.
I click Accept and a small green bar appears as the file loads.
I click Open and then, looking back at me from the screen, is a truly beautiful, if not fairly young, woman. Short, blonde hair with expressive, forest-green eyes with specks of rich brown and contrasting grey, small mouth with full lips and a really cute nose. I realize I’m staring when the IM window pings and I remember I’m actually talking to that person.
With mixed feelings I move the window with the photo so that I can still see it while typing. I don’t want to stop looking at it, but wouldn’t miss her words for the world.
Puck: You are beautiful!!!
How could I possibly type anything else?
Puck: Hahaha, insistent, are we?
ScribbleGirl: Inquiring minds…… ;-)
Puck: Yeah, sure….. :-D
Puck: Okay, hang on…
Puck: Very funny!
That’s when it dawned on me. I didn’t have a photo of myself. That could pose a problem.
Leaving the computer I went in search of my camera-phone. If I didn’t have a photo I could most certainly take one! I found it, stopped to look in the mirror and check my appearance and then proceeded with my task. At that moment I had not a single thought about anything at all other than fulfilling my part of the trade. I got very self-conscious when I saw her next reply.
All my bodily functions stopped dead in their tracks. No breathing, no thoughts. No ‘skipping of heartbeats’ – it all just stopped.
ScribbleGirl: You *are* joking, right?
ScribbleGirl: Are you serious???
ScribbleGirl: You’re Avery Sands!!? THAT Avery
Puck: Take a breath, hon.
ScribbleGirl: YOU’RE NOT JOKING!??!?
Puck: No, I’m not…
ScribbleGirl: Holy fuck …………
Not once during our correspondence had I ever thought she might actually know who I was. And not once had I ever thought that this might cause a problem. Suddenly I was aware that someone, who might very well not be the person in the photo after all, now had a photo of me looking very not professional… How could I explain that picture circling the press to the members of the board? Would it circle in the press? Would it end up in a tabloid somewhere?
Who was this person? Could I trust her? Was it even really a her??
I now had a cold sweat for a very different reason than just a few moments ago.