COPYRIGHT Paranoia by Joseph Finder. Copyright 2004 by Joseph Finder. All Rights Reserved. Sharing not permitted.
I knew from the moment she said she wanted to eat at the restaurant at the Harbor Suites that we'd sleep together that night. I've had dates with women where an erotic charge came from "will she or won't she?" This was different, of course, but the charge was even stronger. It was there all along, that invisible line that we both knew we were going to cross, the line that separated us from friends and something more intimate; the question was when, and how, we were going to cross it, who'd make the first move, what crossing it would feel like. We came back up to my apartment after dinner, both a little unsteady from too much white wine and G & Ts. I had my arm around her narrow waist. I wanted to feel the soft skin on her tummy, underneath her breasts, on her upper buttocks. I wanted to see her most private areas. I wanted to witness the moment when the hard shell around Alana, the impossibly beautiful, sophisticated woman cracked; when she shuddered, gave way, when those clear blue eyes became lost in pleasure.
We sort of careened around the apartment, enjoying the views of the water, and I made us both martinis, which we definitely didn't need. She said, "I can't believe I have to go to Palo Alto tomorrow morning."
"What's up in Palo Alto?"
She shook her head. "Nothing interesting." She had her arm around my waist too, but she accidentally-on-purpose let her hand slip down to my butt, squeezing rhythmically, and she made a joke about whether I'd finished unpacking the bed.
The next minute I had my lips on hers, my groping fingertips gently stroking her tits, and she snaked a very warm hand down to my groin. Both of us were quickly aroused, and we stumbled over to the couch, the one that didn't have plastic wrap still on it. We kissed and ground our hips together. She moaned. She fished me greedily out of my pants. She was wearing a white silk teddy under her black shirt. Her breasts were ample, round, perfect.
She came loudly, with surprising abandon.
I knocked over my martini glass. We made our way down the long corridor to my bedroom and did it again, this time more slowly.
"Alana," I said when we were snuggling.
"Alana," I repeated. "That means 'beautiful' in Gaelic or something, right?"
"Celtic, I think." She was scratching my chest. I was stroking one of her breasts.
"Alana, I have to confess something."
She groaned. "You're married."
She turned to me, a flash of annoyance in her eyes. "You're involved with someone."
"No, definitely not. I have to confess—I hate Ani DiFranco."
"But didn't you—you quoted her...." She looked puzzled.
"I had an old girlfriend who used to listen to her a lot, and now it's got bad associations."
"So why do you have one of her CDs out?"
She'd seen the damned thing next to the CD player. "I was trying to make myself like her."
She thought for a moment, furrowed her dark brow. "You don't have to like everything I like. I don't like Porsches."
"You don't?" I turned to her, surprised.
"They're dicks on wheels."
"Maybe some guys need that, but you definitely don't."
"No one 'needs' a Porsche. I just thought it was cool."
"I'm surprised you didn't get a red one."
"Nah. Red's cop bait—cops see red Porsches and they switch on their radar."
"Did your dad have a Porsche? My dad had one." She rolled her eyes. "Ridiculous. Like, his male-menopause, midlife-crisis car."
"Actually, for most of my childhood we didn't even have a car."
"You didn't have a car?"
"We took public transportation."
"Oh." Now she looked uncomfortable. After a minute she said, "So all this must be pretty heady stuff." She waved her hand around to indicate the apartment and everything.
Another minute went by. "Can I visit you at work some time?" I said.
"You can't. Access to the fifth floor is pretty restricted. Anyway, I think it's better if people at work don't know, don't you agree?"
"Yeah, you're right."
I was surprised when she curled up next to me and drifted off to sleep: I thought she was going to take right off, go home, wake up in her own bed, but she seemed to want to spend the night.