As part of WIP Wednesday (that’s work-in-progress for you folk who imagine everything springs fully-formed onto the page ;)), I’m sharing the opening to a short story I’m polishing up in time to unveil at the Between the Covers Erotica Reading Series on Monday. Read the opening and if you’re in NYC, come by at 7pm to hear how it all unfolds!
Show and Tell
Sweatpants. Wool socks. Giant marshmallow coat. Some sexy weekend this was shaping up to be.
But it didn’t matter how cold it was or the fact that Leah was so unexpectedly, unceremoniously alone. Nothing could detract from the view. Windswept dunes, the ocean sparkling in the sun—Leah reached for her phone and snapped a photo before she could think.
The picture was beautiful, but she had no one to send it to. Steve didn’t even know that she’d come.
The B&B was classic Cape Cod, comfortable without being kitschy. She sank into an oversized chair by the window and picked up her Kindle. She knew how to relax—right? She just needed something good to read. One of those prize-winning doorstops she never had time for.
Or maybe something trashy and riveting and wonderful. No one would have to know.
But her brain wasn’t following her command to switch off. Curled up in her favorite sweater and thick socks, she couldn’t stop thinking about all she hadn’t brought.
Lecture prep. Grading. The next chapter from the monograph she was working on, pages slashed with red.
A boyfriend, or the possibility of one.
She was pretty sure that was what it meant when Steve called minutes before they were supposed to get on the road last night and said he wasn’t coming.
A classics professor in her first year on the tenure clock and a scientist finishing up a post-bac had no time together. Zero. When they first met at a party they’d laughed about it. Who else could an academic date but another academic, someone who understood that weekends were for grading and “summer vacation” was when you cranked out most of your work?
But Leah was always writing and Steve was always at the lab and pretty soon it wasn’t funny at all.
This was the weekend they’d promised to put everything on hold and actually spend time together, to see if a relationship could be more than two trolls hunched over to-go containers of pad thai, clacking away on their computers. To see if a relationship could actually work.
And then Steve called to say he couldn’t do it and Leah knew it wasn’t just the weekend he was bailing on. It was her.
She’d stayed home last night to work on the monograph—what else? But in the clear light of morning the absurdity of it smacked her like a wave. She’d rented a car. Booked a B&B. Scrambled to get enough done to justify the time off. And now she was going to bag it all because some dude she wasn’t even sure she’d been officially dating wanted to watch mold grow in a petri dish? Hell no.
She was going to have a good time. She was determined to have a good time. She was not under any circumstances going to waste the weekend checking her phone, panicked that it was accidentally on silent or that she’d missed his ring.
She closed the cover on her Kindle and got up. She was going to lose her mind if she stayed in her room all day. The B&B owner Carol had said she’d build a fire downstairs. That’d be a much better spot to read.
She’d just closed her door behind her when a noise made her jump. She and Steve were supposed to be the only guests—this was the off-season after all. But that clearly wasn’t the case. Someone was heading down the hall.
And not just any someone. A male someone. An incredibly attractive male someone. Leah could tell because he was wearing nothing but a towel wrapped low around a very tight and very sculpted waist.
She stared. Dark hair curled across his chest. A thin line trailed from his bellybutton, down, down…
Quickly she swung her eyes up, but the view to the north was just as bad. Or should she say good? He had a dark stubble beard and once the thought took hold in her mind it wouldn’t let go. How would his cheek feel scraping across the inside of her thigh? A single bite, hard, chased by the skim of his tongue.
“Whoops, didn’t realize there was anyone here!” He was blushing, but it wasn’t a bad look on him. She had a feeling nothing would be a bad look on him. Not a towel, that was for sure. Probably clothes would even suit him okay.
“Oh,” Leah said. And then: “I just arrived.”
He pointed to a door behind her that must have been the bathroom. “I was on my way…”
“Right, of course!” But Leah still didn’t move.
“So can I get by? It’s a little chilly out here.” A slight smile danced across his lips.
By now Leah could guess that her face was even redder than his. She had to save herself, stat. Which was why, instead of stepping aside, she had the brilliant idea to turn back around and head right back to her room.
Nope, that wasn’t embarrassing in the least….