by Piper Denna
Print ISBN: 978-0-9818905-5-5
Price Digital: $5.50
Digital Publication: August 18, 2008
Print Publication: February 2, 2009
Cover art by Renee Rocco
Excerpt: Copyright Piper Denna 2008
Appreciating the technician’s punctuality, I stirred from my window seat in the family room. I’d spent the better part of the day curled up there, contemplating my life while staring out at the pool. My introspection would have to go on hold. The cable guy was here to install my husband’s latest-upgrade, high-def boxes.
Rather than being thankful we could afford the best picture quality available, I was simply annoyed. I needed time to myself to solve a dilemma, and didn’t appreciate the interruption Bill’s demanding taste had imposed. Actually, he’d imposed the dilemma as well, and four days of concentrating on it had brought me no solutions. Well, I was married to a man who knew what he wanted and got it. That’s how he got me, and how I’d ended up soul-searching for the last few days.
Out of habit, I fingered my wedding ring on the way to answer the door, still wondering what the hell to do about my discovery of four nights ago. With a defeated sigh I opened my front door and pasted on what I hoped would pass for a smile.
“Hi. Are you, um…” The tall blonde technician, seeming a bit flustered, had to peek at his clipboard. “…Alison Smyth?”
I nodded my head. “Ali.” It was what my friends called me, but why was I telling the cable guy to call me that, when he should be calling me Mrs. Smyth?
“Ali. Okay.” He seemed a little surprised by my familiarity, but he smiled, and oh, what a smile he had! All dimples and sparkly blue eyes. “I’m with the cable company, here to install your new box.” A name badge on his wide chest read Moreton.
Tension over my problem began melting as I opened the door wider and he brushed past me, giving me a whiff of warm, woodsy cologne. He was tall—over six feet—and not one of those gangly, tall guys, either. I could tell this guy worked out by the way his muscles rippled and strained against his clothes. Below his standard-issue khaki uniform shorts, nicely tanned, ripped quads gave me the impression he was a serious bicyclist.
He asked, “How many sets do you have?”
I was still thinking about his legs, and the set of glutes surely hiding above them. “Um, sets?” I asked, feeling dopey (and, frankly, pretty turned-on).
“TVs?” he prompted. He’d looked the living room over and turned back to face me.
“Oh. Yeah, TV sets. Sorry.” I smiled up at him, already knowing I’d like him to be the solution to my problem. “Four. But only two are getting HD boxes.”
He followed me back to the family room, where I’d been sulking before he came. His lowered brows told me the heap of crumpled tissues must have betrayed my previous activity, though I hadn’t actually been crying since right after dropping my kids off at school. I’d given myself fifteen minutes of “breakdown time” before my daily power-yoga routine and swim. Since then I’d been thoughtful, but not distraught.
Too bad I hadn’t had the sense to destroy the evidence.
He set his bag of tools down next to the TV, then turned to look me over. I could see he wanted to ask me something (probably whether I was okay), but professional courtesy stopped him.
“So, Mr. Moreton…”
“CJ.” His sympathetic smile didn’t include dimples.
“CJ,” I repeated. “Would you like something cold to drink?” He looked interested, so I began listing what I had to offer. “Water, soda, iced tea…”
His eyes returned to the window seat, where my own tumbler of tea still sat.
“It’s sweetened. The tea.”
“I like it sweet. I’ll take that, thanks.”
I felt his eyes follow me to the kitchen, where I had to reach on tiptoe for the tall glasses in my cupboard. I hadn’t given much thought to what I put on that morning after my shower. It was just my most comfy cotton shorts and a cami. Dammit, I should have spent more time putting on makeup. This guy was hot, and flirting with him would have been very therapeutic. Hell, even seeing him was therapeutic.
Maybe I’d have to spend some time on the net later, checking out hot guys, possibly unearth the old vibrator. If I had a picture of this CJ, I could probably do the job without the vibrator.
I was out of breath from anticipating my solo encounter when the icy tumbler left my hand for his.
“Thanks,” he said, before he drank. “You swim a lot.” It wasn’t a question—he just knew. I wondered how he’d figured that out, staring at my legs like he was, then the reflection of waves on the pool outside the window flashed over his face.
“Every day. One of the few benefits of living in Phoenix, right? Year-round swimming without freezing your butt off.” Since he was still looking at my legs, and it was making my heart race, I kept talking. “And year-round golf, too. That’s how we ended up here. I mean, my husband…” Shit. Why did I have to bring up being married? That’s not usually the best way to start a flirting jag.
CJ closed his eyes, then turned to the huge LCD screen on the wall and began unhooking the cable from our old digital box. Damn, lost him.
Might as well keep talking. “He’s a golf pro. We came from Colorado. Well, I did. But he can’t really work there in the winter, so we moved here.”
“I’ll go get the boxes. Be right back.” He hustled out to his truck.
Good going. He can’t get out of here fast enough now. Like he really wanted to hear my life story.
CJ’s eyes went to the window seat as soon as he came back in.
I’d disposed of all the mascara-smeared tissues and put the box away under a table.
Now here was dilemma. Should I play my biggest card and tell him why I’d been crying earlier? It was a shortcut, but if it got me to the destination I suddenly wanted to reach, so what? “Thursday night, I found out my husband’s been banging his personal assistant.”
CJ sucked in his breath. “Musta been tough.” He set one receiver on the carpet and asked, “Uh, where’s the other box go?”
“Master bedroom. I’ll show you.”
He followed me up the stairs without a word. When I turned to face him in front of the bedroom TV, he observed, with raised brows, “Thursday. That’s four days ago, but his stuff’s still here.”
Indeed it was. Bill’s usual string of dirty socks and pricey collared shirts had accumulated on his side of the bed, since I hadn’t felt inclined to pick up after his cheating ass.
With a shrug, I said, “It’s his house, technically. I haven’t brought it up with him, because I haven’t decided what to do. For sure.”
I knew by then what I wanted to do, but it didn’t mean I would, or could. I wanted to do CJ. Repeatedly, and in every way possible. My breath was coming faster again, so I put some distance between us, closing my bedroom shades against the blinding mid-day April sun.
“How’d you find out?” he asked, his head inside the armoire where the old box sat.
I took a moment to check out his rear end before answering. Taut biker buns. Perfect. Thankful he couldn’t see my face, I told him what I hadn’t yet told another soul.
“I was, um,”—there was no delicate way to phrase it—“going down on him…” CJ’s head smacked the shelf above it, “…and the smell of latex was incredible. You know, lubricated latex. So I started kind of looking around, and found lipstick smeared on lots of places I hadn’t been yet.”
“How’d you know it was his P.A. and not some lunch-time hooker, or a rich bitch at the country club trading lessons for lovin’?” He sounded not only curious, but maybe a bit angry on my behalf. I liked that.
“Oh, I’d know that lipstick color anywhere. A friend of mine sells that lipstick to her, and she’s the only person I’ve ever known who buys Berryluscious. It’s a hideous color.” It was supposed to be the longwearing, non-smearing kind of lipstick, but it obviously fell short of its advertised promises.
After pulling his head and shoulders out of the cabinet, he wrapped coaxial cable around the old box. “I guess the latex was a good thing. It’s better than no latex.” He started hooking up the new receiver as he asked, “Got any idea what you’re gonna do?”
Boy, do I.