LAURA ENTERED MASON’S OFFICE like she had done so many times during the past few years. She sat in the same chair, and asked the same questions she asked every week during her rounds to the various department heads at her company. And as she looked across the desk at her friend who transformed his calm mouth into a dazzling smile, she thought about how much she loves her job.
Generally, Laura’s method of collecting data has changed as technology has advanced and people spend less and less time on the phone or in person. Still, while matching her contemporaries and mostly opting for e-mail, she rather enjoyed maintaining personal contact with some of her fellow managers. Especially, Mason.
The two easily melted into an office friendship; a professional, yet comfortable, slightly playful harmony. The company they worked for had low turnover of employees and had created a positive workplace that naturally encouraged the co-workers to form a close community. Many socialized outside the office. They would meet after work for drinks or dinner, and they would participate on some weekend getaways in the San Francisco Bay Area. They would gather for paintball challenges, community fund raising events, concerts, wine tasting in Napa, and even the occasional camping or other weekend adventures.
Sometimes family members would join in their activities, but mostly, family remained outside their club. Other than loved ones pictured in photos sitting on desks, generally, work mixed with family members at summer picnics, a few of the weekend gatherings, and the annual holiday parties where work and life combined for a few hours. Repeat introductions would be required and small talk would be endured before the two lives became separate, once again.
Mason was 38, married to Brenda. They had twin teenage sons who had recently moved to Los Angeles. In doing so, they left their parents with an empty nest and too many silent evenings at the dinner table. The boys were attending the University of California, Los Angeles, to follow their dreams of becoming the next big writer-producer-director teams like their silver-screen heroes, the Coen brothers.
Facing away from the doorway, a picture of Mason’s boys sat on his desk. The boys were younger then as they posed with their parents. They all wore white T-shirts, white shorts and broad smiles perfectly lit by a professional photographer on a Hawaiian beach during a family vacation.
Mason had married his college sweetheart. Brenda is a nice woman—smart, artistic and a wonderful mom—but growing ever more occupied by her many art projects and her lucrative Etsy shop. A year ago, her art began attracting the attention of respected galleries in New York City. They had been tempting her with alluring offers which required her to move from sunny California to the East Coast. She wanted to go, but she didn’t want to leave before her sons had graduated from high school. And after a few weeks of building tension…well, there were more reasons to go, than to stay.
Laura, too, had a perfectly posed photo on her desk; also facing away from the door. As evidenced by the romantic portrait of the bride and groom, it had been only three years since Laura married Greg when she was 26 and he was 32. Serving as foreshadow of events in their future, the heavy filter softened the fairytale image by masking her husband’s true nature. Busy building her career, she met Greg on one of those online dating websites a friend had convinced her to try. On paper—really, her glowing computer screen—Greg appeared wonderful. Making him appear open to adventure and success, he had moved from the Midwest to California when he got a job at a high tech startup. As well, he seemed like a great guy while they were dating.
Unfortunately, once the honeymoon ended, Greg’s insecurities began tearing through the fabric of their relationship. The romance fizzled and he stopped trying to make their marriage work; sometimes to the point of being cruel. It did not take long for Laura to outgrow this man with whom she thought she would grow old.
His career remained stagnant while she was a rising star in her company, often receiving accolades and awards for her progressive ideas and innovative work. As she advanced, Greg presented little drive to climb the corporate ladder…or climb off of the couch, for that matter. With growing sarcasm, he would tell others he was happy about his wife’s success, and in private, he often raised the subject of having children. He continued pressing what Laura considered an archaic notion that it was her duty to birth his children and stay home with his kids. At first, she thought he was joking. He wasn’t. The discussions turned into demands and arguments.
Who the hell did I marry? The question popped into her mind with greater frequency as their marriage carried on. She blamed their failings on her inexperience with men.
No, Laura wasn’t ready to step into motherhood; especially with Greg as the father. She was happy to ignore any biological clock ticking away potential babies that would keep her from enjoying the many freedoms to which she was accustomed. She hated to think about it, but the idea of getting a divorce had crept into her mind even though she was hopeful there was some way to salvage her young marriage.
The more she and Greg grew apart, the greater she looked forward to her weekly visits to Mason’s office. At first, it was more of a subconscious choice for her. It was part of her job, after all. But as time in the office carried on, she enjoyed those meetings with Mason and caught herself smiling a little bit more as a schoolgirl giddiness took over her senses. She had many friends at her company, but she was particularly glad she had a friend like Mason.
Between the intended discussions about this project or that marketing campaign’s success, she and Mason would reveal small details about their lives. He would mention how proud he was of his sons for carrying on his love of swimming and competing in the sport. Or after he had taken a weekend drive, he would tell Laura about something he saw that he thought she would find pleasing.
Laura would tell him how she couldn’t put down a book he had recommended, or she liked a new restaurant that opened in town. Little things like that, or some stories comparing their college days, or how they met their spouses. Their discussions never delved too deeply into any negative aspects of their personal lives, and yet, they were more open with each other than with anyone else in the company.
It was Mason’s secure, manly confidence Laura found most attractive. Well, that and his easy laugh. And unlike her husband who had begun wearing longer shirts to cover an ever-expanding midsection used to balance a beer as he slouched on the couch at home, Mason hadn’t allowed time or age to melt away his muscular physique and active lifestyle. He swam laps every day and his powerful strokes were reflected in his gorgeous, trim body and broad, strong swimmer’s shoulders like those of the swimming gods in the summer Olympics.
As she grew distant from her husband, periodically during these office visits, Laura caught herself staring at Mason’s strong chest. She particularly enjoyed days like today when his tailored shirt revealed enough detail of his sculpted pecs to trigger tingling warmth heating up her groin.
They spoke on about mundane office projects and she crossed her legs, adjusting her petite figure on the black leather seat to conceal the sudden muscle contractions she felt below her waist. Raising her gaze to meet Mason’s green eyes, her eyelids softened. She looked down at her papers and took deliberate, slow breaths in an effort to calm herself. She felt a wave of warmth rising up from her abdomen, sending a charge of electricity triggering the pink skin around her nipples to pucker. The black lace of her bra tickled her nipples as the knobby bulbs lengthened and pressed against her red, silk blouse. Without realizing, she drew in a sharp breath.
“Are you okay?” asked Mason.
“What? Why do you ask?” she responded.
“Uh, you look a little flush.”
Laura raised her hand to her cheek. Her soft skin was hot to the touch. The knowledge that she was blushing made things worse and caused her skin to flush crimson.
“No, I’m okay. I think I just need some water.”
Mason’s face expressed concern when he pushed his chair back from his desk and stood up. As he walked around his desk toward Laura, he continued chatting; finishing his thought about a marketing campaign he and his team had been working on.
Her eyes became slaves to his every movement as he neared her chair. He placed his strong hand on the chair back. Through the corner of her eye, she could see the tips of his long fingers as they touched her back.
As he squat down behind her chair to open a mini-fridge hidden by cabinet doors in an ebony bookshelf, the breeze stirred by his walking caught up to him and gently caressed her face. The subtle current of air carried Mason’s scent and teased Laura’s senses.
Facing forward again, she closed her eyes and breathed in his fresh scent. Oh, Mason. She tried to distinguish the kind of soap he uses; a subtle redolence of minty pleasure that selfishly clung to his body during his shower after a morning swim.
As she slowly breathed out through her partially opened mouth, her tongue escaped and glided across her plump lips concealed by pale rose lipstick. She could feel her heart pounding; her pulsing blood heating up her body.
Laura was lost in Mason’s aroma when he said with concern, “Hey, are you okay?” Towering over her, he set the water bottle down on a shelf. He placed one hand on her back, just below her neckline. The heat from his hand easily passed through the thin material of her blouse and sent a wave of glorious chills rushing down her back. He gently pressed the back of his other hand to her forehead where tiny beads of sweat had formed.
“You feel warm,” Mason spoke with concern. “Maybe you should go home. Do you think you’re coming down with something?”
“No, I don’t think so, but I…I do feel a bit strange,” she responded. Laura’s head was lowered enough that Mason didn’t notice her side glance as she caught a glimpse of his manhood slightly bulging in his pants. She realized, she’d never really been so close to him; to his beautifully sculpted body.
Her straight, mahogany hair slid down her back as she looked up at him with her chocolate-brown eyes. His expression locked into place as a new chemistry took hold of them as though they were meeting for the first time. Their friendship changed in that moment. Something fresh and wonderful—yet disquieting and forbidden—was created in an instant of frail exposure.
A shallow furrow wrinkled Mason’s brow as his gaze slowly scanned down from her eyes to her mouth that remained slightly open. He studied her pink, wet tongue as it once again dragged across her lips. He looked past her chin and noticed the depth of her cleavage. The office light above revealed the milky white skin on her breasts that appeared as soft and inviting to the touch as velvety rose petals.
The two were caught in a new dimension as Mason watched Laura’s chest rise and fall with greater fullness than when he had sat across from his friendly, professional coworker.
He blinked rapidly as reality took hold and broke his focus.
“Uh, here,” he grabbed for the water bottle. He returned his focus to her eyes, and held out the bottle. “You should drink this,” his words were deliberate, unfolding a new tenderness in his deep voice with its growling tone that instinctively stimulated Laura’s mind and desire. He presented her with the water bottle, delivering it to her hand, then swallowed.
Their fingers grazed against one another, sending an electric charge of excitement through Laura’s body that triggered a swell of warmth in her groin as her juices began to flow. Mason forced himself to look away, trying to break the spell. He couldn’t speak as he returned to his chair. His hand dragged on the desk as though he were trying to remember the trail that would deliver him to a safe distance. He sat down, looked at his hands resting on the edge of the desk.
“So, what was I saying? Oh, right,” he remembered and attempted not to notice something had changed between them. He wouldn’t look up. Not yet. He attempted to return to the subject that had required their meeting, but he could no longer focus.
Laura sipped from her bottle and continued gazing at him. She tried not to expose the nuances of fresh desires suddenly haunting her thoughts and driving a craving that dampened her satin panties.
Again, Mason raised his gaze to meet her eyes. He made every effort to avoid staring at her chest or her lipstick now wrapped around the neck of the water bottle. Mason continued speaking and tried to return to their formal business, but Laura knew she must leave his office before—
She looked down, shaking her head and speaking rapidly. “Well, I think I have enough information. I think I need to…I guess I’ll see you, uh…I’ll talk to you later,” Laura stuttered through her words before standing and turning to leave without looking at his face.
Mason stood up quickly, nearly knocking over his chair. He held out his hand like his fingers were trying to grasp something that had slipped away. “But…uh, wait. I—”
Laura hesitated, slightly turning her head toward him, but not enough to look at him. “I…I have to go,” she said shyly, and left him standing in his office.
Briskly, she walked down the long hallway past offices. She passed by people who worked without noticing her. She turned a corner and faced a bank of elevators. Laura pressed the up button and raised her gaze to watch the changing numbers above each elevator to determine which would arrive first. The center elevator’s doors opened, she stepped inside, pressed 34, and leaned against the back wall. She tightly held her papers pressed against her chest. What just happened?
Laura looked down at her hands and noticed they were trembling. She closed her eyes and pictured Mason looking down at her. She could still feel his warm hand on her back. Her hand rose to rest on her forehead where he had felt the heat emanating from her skin. She drew in a quick breath but was startled to attention when the door opened and two people entered the elevator. Laura shyly smiled and looked down at her papers, trying to act natural.
A “ding” rang out, the doors opened, and Laura exited the elevator. She walked directly to the women’s executive washroom. She looked around and was thankful no one was inside. Laura paused before hurrying to the far end of the bathroom where she entered a small room, locked the door, and placed her papers on a ledge. She leaned back against the wall of cool indigo blue tiles. The shock of cold through her blouse felt like she had just jumped into a cool lake on a hot day.
She stood quiet, at first, trying to determine what had just occurred between the two friends. She closed her eyes and recounted the moments. Mason’s cool green eyes flashed through her mind and she felt dizzy. She raised her left hand to the base of her neck while her chest filled with long, soothing breaths. Her eyes still closed, she turned her head to the side and envisioned Mason standing next to her; she could still see the bulge in his pants.
Her hand slid down over the silk blouse as she felt the fullness of her breasts heaving with each deep inhale. She sent her right hand traveling down her waist searching for the transition of material until she felt the edge of her black pencil skirt, then her stockings underneath. She imagined Mason’s strong hand exploring her leg, climbing up under the skirt, feeling for the border of her stockings held up by a black satin garter belt. Her fingers found the edge where material met flesh. She inhaled forcefully as her hand touched the skin of her inner thigh and gradually climbed higher. She dragged her nails along the sensitive skin until her fingers pressed on her hot panties now wet from her excitement.
Laura’s raised hand slid down and tugged at her blouse. She felt the skin on her hip. Her hand changed direction, climbing her torso as she reached for her breast. She cupped and squeezed her breast, pinching her hard nipple that was trying to poke through the lace bra.
Her eyes still closed, she imagined her hand pressing along Mason’s noticeably stiffening manhood that had been so close to her face as he stood gazing down at her in his office. Her fingers slipped under her panties and slid between her swelling lips dripping with sweet nectar. She played with her clitoris, flicking the swelling bulb like she thought Mason’s tongue would tease her. Laura slipped her middle finger inside. She bit her lip and let out a quiet whimper as she pressed her finger in as far as she could. Creases formed on her brow as her excitement grew. The palm of her hand flattened against her clitoris, and the increasing circular motion matched the swirling of her finger inside. She pulled her finger out and added her index finger to the mix, gliding in and out as she tried to fill her aching desire.
“Oh, Mason,” she whispered through quickened breaths as her thighs began to quiver.
Her excitement rising, her back began sliding down the wall raising her blouse. The shock of the cold tiles on her hot her skin added to the thrill of the moment. She propped her left foot against the opposite wall to lodge herself in place and provide easier access for her fingers. Sliding in and out, she wanted to feel Mason’s tongue exploring her sex. “Oh,” she cried out faintly with the thought of her hands running through his hair as his face was buried in her crotch. She continued plunging her fingers inside her hot stickiness.
Laura lowered her other hand and worked her love button; rubbing, pinching, circling. Short forced breaths passed through her open mouth until she felt her muscles contracting around her fingers pressed deep inside. A wave of ecstasy washed over her.
Her legs were trembling as her breathing slowed. Her open mouth formed a smile like she had a fantastic secret. Slowly, she opened her eyes and looked around. Her breathing calmed. She was thankful for the secure door and closed room versus a regular metal stall found in most public restrooms. Still, she was hopeful no one had entered the washroom during her fantasy delight.
Laura cleaned herself off, tucked in her blouse, and refastened one of the garter belt snaps that had come loose. She smoothed out her skirt and hesitantly exited the small room. She was relieved to find no one else in the bathroom so she could privately wash away her love juice from her hands. She fixed her hair and patted a wet towel on her flushed skin, pressing the cool cloth to the hot skin of her cheeks, her forehead, her neck, her chest.
She leaned over with her hands resting on the sink. Laura stared at herself in the mirror.
“You can’t do anything like this again. And certainly, not at work. You can’t fantasize about M,” she stopped herself from whispering his name out loud. “Laura, you are a married woman. Stop this and get back to work.”
Laura grabbed the stack of papers and returned to her office. In her mind, she continued repeating to herself, the day’s frivolity could never occur again. But she knew she was in danger of breaking that weak promise. And as she thought about what might happen during their next meeting, she considered switching to sending an e-mail with her questions.
Laura closed her eyes and sighed heavily at the prospect of losing personal contact with Mason. The thought made her sad. Intending to get back to her work, she opened her eyes and positioned her fingers on her computer keyboard.
There was a knock at her door. It was Mason. He rounded the corner, but without stepping inside the office, he leaned to one side while holding onto the door frame.
“Are you…are you okay?” Mason spoke through concern. His eyes were soft; expressed caring.
Laura couldn’t stop the corners of her mouth from curling up slightly. Her heart began pounding and goose bumps raised the hair on her arms.
“Yes,” she said. I am, now.
Mason stepped forward. “I, uh, forgot to give you this information before you left my office.” He held out a piece of paper with some figures and a graph.
“Thank you. You didn’t have to—”
“Yes. I know,” Mason spoke with eagerness. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay. And it looks like you are, so—”
“Do you want to sit down?” Laura asked, suddenly feeling more exposed.
Mason didn’t answer. He stood fixed in position, looking at her. He cocked his head and was about to speak when the phone in his pocket vibrated with a faint buzz. He blinked quickly, breaking his gaze, and pulled the phone from his pants pocket to look at the name displayed on the screen.
“I’m sorry, but I have to take this,” he said. “I’ll come back.” He swiped the phone screen with his finger and said, “Hi, Carl. Can you hang on a moment?” He pressed the screen to mute the microphone. Mason leaned over and rested his hand on Laura’s desk. He spoke quietly. “I have to go, but…are you free for lunch tomorrow?”
“That would be nice, but I have a lunch meeting,” Laura answered, biting her lip. A moment passed and Mason looked down at his phone. Do something. Do something, now! “Are you going to that club tomorrow after work?” Several people from the office were going to a new bar in a hip area near the Financial District known to locals as South of Market. Market Street is a main thoroughfare running through the downtown area and ending along the bay at the historic Ferry Building. “We could have a drink. And chat.” She attempted to sound casual to conceal her excitement.
Mason’s face relaxed. “Sure. That would be great.”
Laura nodded in agreement. Mason flashed his enchanting smile and returned to his call. He offered a small wave as he left the room and turned the corner.
The office was hers again. She knew she should not be excited about going out for drinks with a man who wasn’t her husband, but she was thrilled. Laura set her elbows on her desk and raised her hands, weaving her fingers together. As she rested her chin on her fingers and considered the potential of this Friday evening gathering, she shyly smiled when she breathed in the titillating scent of her sex combined with liquid soap infused with the essence of lavender.