Alone at a technical training session far from home, I decided to attend the evening cocktail gathering and have too much wine, assuming for some reason that drinking alone in a crowd of techies was better than drinking alone in my hotel room, or perhaps not even drinking at all.
Most people were standing and milling; as usual I chose to sit in the corner and watch. One woman in particular caught my eye, a lean, tan beauty with long dark hair that seemed to be in need of constant adjustment. She would stroke it, play with the ends, remove her hairband and then recollect it, all the time bending over, bending to the side, bending back, the heads of the men around her following her movements like pigeons with a wind-tossed bread crumb. Once or twice she glanced over at me and smiled one of the biggest most inviting smiles I had ever seen. I saluted her with my near-empty glass, went to get a refill, found my way barely back to the table and discovered her sitting there, one long leg crossed over the other, bouncing up and down at the knee, with a couple of clearly smitten guys in tow.
I shrugged, and was about to start to another table when she patted the seat of the empty chair, bidding me sit. I sat, not sure where this was going, but happy for the opportunity to observe her up close. In detail she was probably a few years older than my 30-odd-something, and uniquely, provocatively gorgeous, almost pornographic, especially sucking on a straw, playing with ice cubes, her wedding ring clinking against the glass, bouncing her leg, and tossing her hair.
From the conversation I gathered that her name was Stacie. The guy's names were singularly unimportant to me. I tend to exude a primitive proprietary air around good looking women, whether I have any right to or not, so while I watched Stacie, feeling ownerly, the other two guys alternated between watching her and trying to figure out who the hell I was. Eventually one of them gave up and wandered off. I was beginning to suspect that I had been chosen solely for that purpose, but in an increasingly drunken stupor I was unable to do much except follow them when Stacie announced she was heading upstairs. As she flirted with both of us on the elevator I refined my theory, deciding that I was there to chase the other guys off because she was unable to do it herself, or even to stop herself from encouraging them.
We arrived at Stacie's room and stood in the hall while she fumbled for the little plastic card, me drunk but enchanted, her sober but clearly getting off on the attention, and the other guy frustrated and confused. I am to this day unclear as to who he was or what he thought he was to her, but when the door finally opened and I spotted two beds inside I immediately, carefully, dove on one, sprawling out on my back and praying for sleep, forgetting for a moment that I had my own room with my own stuff, my own bed, and a phone to call home on.
Stacie kicked off her shoes, and the other guy, now more bewildered than ever, ducked into the bathroom and closed the door, leaving me and Stacie alone for the moment. As I watched her she walked to the table across from the end of the bed, standing still at first, watching herself in the mirror, admiring herself in the mirror being admired by me in the mirror, before putting down her key, removing the earrings from her ears, the hairband from her hair, the long dark hair falling down her back and and forward across her chest.
She smiled at me in the mirror, and I smiled back as she reached down, picked up a hairbrush, and began to brush her hair with long slow sensuous strokes, leaning left, leaning right, leaning front, leaning back, her eyes rarely leaving my reflection, or mine hers. She was putting on a show, luxuriating in the attention, and my obvious admiration. Minutes passed. Minutes of staring, minutes of brushing, minutes of smiling, minutes of hair.
Noises in the bathroom broke the spell. The bathroom door opened. The other guy emerged, looked at me, looked at her, made noises about how late it was, how early we started tomorrow, going back to his room. Stacie padded to the door, let him out, waited for me. Watching her had sobered me enough to stand. I stood. I walked to the door. Was ready to leave when she put her arms out. I hugged her. Her hand moved. Up and down my back. My hand moved. Up and down hers, feeling her strength, absorbing her energy. She pushed me back to arms length, stared into my eyes, made me think about kissing her. But I didn't. Stumbled out into the hall, saw the other guy at the end, waiting to see if I emerged. Returned to my room. Lay on the bed. Called my wife. Thought about calling Stacie. But I didn't. Fell asleep remembering that nobody, in all my years, had ever put on a show for me.
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