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Laura took a systematic approach to most new experiences. Starting on the Monday after her encounter with Don, and after she finally sent her reply to his e-mail, she spent ten minutes each night wearing high heels. Other than putting on the shoes, and cushioning them slightly with sheer nylon toe socks, she did nothing unusual. She just walked from one place to another, doing whatever she normally did on a weeknight in her studio apartment. She wanted to get used to the feel of them on her feet, the adjustments she made to her balance and foot placement, and the muscle exertion to stabilize her ankles.

She hated high heels, in both theory and practice.

Many people wouldn’t even use the term ‘high heels’ for what she was wearing. The heel of each foot rested maybe an inch and a half higher than the sole, not a big change for a size-7 foot. The heel of the shoe was roughly a square where it touched the floor, about an inch on each side. For Laura, these shoes went as far as she intended to go in what she considered footwear irrationality.

That was before Don had professed great passion for high heels, worn by a woman.

Or was he kidding?

She and Don were in relaxed pillow talk on Friday night, after having fucked each other to highly satisfying orgasms. She had praised his taut buttocks. He then praised her legs, and said if she put skyscraper stilettos on them, he’d drool like puppy.

When she stood, her slightly higher perspective reminded her that she was a relatively imposing figure even when barefoot, in a standard male judgment. She was 5′ 8″. Don was less than an inch taller. With skyscraper stilettos, she’d look down at him. Did he have a giantess fetish? Or did he just want her legs to seem more prominent? Despite being slim and a bit curvy, Laura found fault with herself. She had long believed that her torso was too long, and legs not long enough, for her body to be ideal.

As she walked from her desk to the kitchen alcove, she could feel even in these shoes some of the carriage alterations that arise from what amounts to tiptoeing. Her calf muscles bunched and rounded at their tops. Her butt flexed and extended more to the rear. Her back arched a bit to keep her head and torso upright. Her bosom thrust forward slightly. Her hips swayed as she walked a thin straight line to maintain balance. The posture and motion could make a man think that a woman is declaring her availability.

Silly me, she thought acidly. I’ve always ‘declared’ with spoken language. Especially ‘no’ and its many related expressions.

Her hookup with Don had left her with more affection for him that she’d expected, or wanted. Laura Canfield was a quintessential yuppie, doing well at a financial planning firm, enjoying her work, relegating sex to short-term, one-and-done excursions with men. On the morning after, however, she and Don both felt that their hookup had left a few hooks in them.

Don Pelfrey, just as work-driven, suggested that they spend a month communicating when they liked, but staying physically apart. Laura had agreed. This maintained a connection with a guy she liked, without getting them in too deep physically, or taking up time they ought to spend on the work they brought home at night. She hoped to pay off her student loan in two years. Career came first.

But did no-sex-with-Don mean no-sex-at-all? She had brought up whether they would sleep around during the month. She couldn’t quite remember if she’d said it, or asked. She had thought about it both ways. He had said something about whether they’d have time, in a witty remark that got them back to their initial mutual attraction: sense of humor, incisive cleverness. So had they agreed on sleeping around, or ducked the topic?

As the week progressed, Laura got edgier, even as her walking in the heels became smoother. She had thought about Don more than she wanted to, which amped her physically. But did she want another Don-like guy? Her other lovers had also been poised, witty guys who grooved on poised, witty gals. Don was the alpha male among them.

Would it feel less like cheating, she wondered, if I went after an anti-Don?

Text traffic among her lady friends indicated that things would be different this weekend if Laura wanted to run with the same crowd. At Hazlett’s last Friday, when Laura and Don discovered each other, Marcie Blevins had hooked up with the guy Laura had pegged as Brash Boy, because he had done most of the initial talking for his crew and didn’t mind being taken as a figure of fun. Marcie shared that she and this guy, named Arnie, were going to dinner and a movie, in an actual two-person date.

Dana Fortenski, with her lean height, fashion-model looks, and maybe-really-blond hair, was on a work trip.

On impulse, Laura texted to the remaining two from that group, Lesley and Neris: ‘I want something different. Can I talk you into a sports bar?’

Neris quickly responded, ‘At last! Men canlı bahis who sweat!’ Lesley followed with ‘Sure’ and a shrug emoji. A few minutes later, though, Lesley voice-called Laura and asked, “Is something up with you?”

Laura winced, and hoped it wasn’t detectable. “No,” she tried.

“I would have thought,” Lesley drawled, “that you would have been more likely than Marcie to end up with a steady. I watched you trading punchlines with that guy—Don, was it?—and thought, my God, he’s Laura with a prick. Did something derail the soulmate express?”

Hoping she didn’t sound frazzled, Laura said, “Must be fun, Les, watching other people pair up and ignoring the men who might get interested in you.”

There was a dark chuckle. “Okay, change the subject, but I gotta tell you, the whole Les-must-be-a-lez thing has gotten pretty tired. If you don’t want to tell me what a disappointment Don was, fine. It’ll be fun watching you look for a jock wannabe who meets your standards.”

As she got ready Saturday night, Laura put on flats and stowed the heels in the closet. Reserving the heels for Don seemed to her like an act of fidelity towards him.

***

Laura picked up Lesley on Saturday night. Neris would meet them at their destination, a bar called Goalpost.

“I’m pretty sure I’ve found your guy Don on SylviBase,” said Lesley, gazing at her phone.

Laura groaned. “Isn’t that just women lying about men, making things up?”

Lesley gave her a dead-serious look. “SylviBase is completely reliable information. I’ve shagged four guys who were described here, and the reviews were spot on. So I’m pretty sure the scary reviews mean that those guys are trouble.”

“I’m all in favor of warnings about stalkers and rapists,” Laura conceded. “But I can do without kiss-and-tell.”

Lesley read from the phone screen. “About 5′ 9″, straight light brown hair close cut on the sides, long nose, narrow chin, clean shaven, no eyewear, smart and witty but saves his wit for the right moment, listens more than he talks.” She looked up “SylviBase doesn’t use names or show pictures, but that sure seems to be him.”

“So are you going after him?” Laura asked. “You probably won’t find him where we’ll be tonight.”

“Every review of him here is good. An attentive, generous lover, eager to learn how to please his partner.”

Laura allowed the corner of her mouth, on the side away from Lesley, to lift. Yeah, that’s Don, she thought.

“Really liked a waxed crotch. Hey, that’s from a hookup last night.”

Laura’s right foot flexed, spurting the car ahead, then shifted to the brake and averted a crash into the SUV just ahead.

“Hmm,” said Lesley calmly, massaging her neck. “No whiplash, I think.”

Laura snapped, “That had nothing to do with—”

“I saw your hidden smile reflection in the window,” Lesley said, leaning to pick up her dropped phone. “You like him. So, apart from him cruising for a bald pussy without your knowledge, what’s up?”

Never one to waste time on a lost cause, Laura sighed and pulled over to park. “Okay, yes, I like him a lot, and it’s mutual, and that worries us. So we’re spending a month texting and e-mailing and learning about each other, when we have time, but staying away from each other. So we can find out how serious we are.”

“And that allows getting action on the side?”

“Auuugh!” said Laura, exasperated at Lesley and angry at Don and impatient with herself for the anger. Wasn’t Laura about to do what Don had done last night?

“Look,” said Lesley, “in this rom-com of yours, you don’t have a glib gay guy or a sassy black woman to confide in. Just a dishwater blonde in the same dating orbit. But I’m here for you. Unless I land some man-meat of my own, in which case I’ll be here for you some other time.”

“Thanks,” said Laura with a chuckle. She started the car.

“So, when are you going to wax?”

Laura sighed. “That’s awfully intimate. Les must be a lez.”

***

Goalpost was loud joint on a Saturday night, with an overall obnoxious vibe. Laura quickly realized that she was one of the few women who wasn’t wearing some kind of sports-team-related garb. Neris, conventionally pretty yet somehow exotic, wore a jersey from some football team or other. Lesley had what may have been a soccer jersey, in green and yellow vertical stripes. Laura had dressed informally, in jeans and a cotton shirt knotted at her waist.

Leslie smirked at Laura’s outfit. “If things don’t work out here, maybe you could try a country-western bar.”

“If I wore some team’s jersey,” Laura improvised, “I’d have to know something about the team.” As she spoke she scanned the crowd. A couple times she noted one guy in particular, partly because of his height.

Lesley held out her loose jersey, “Something like this can actually keep guys honest. The female architecture isn’t as pronounced as it is when we’re in cocktail dresses. bahis siteleri Eye contact is more likely right away, and if a guy looks away when I’m in mid-sentence, I know he isn’t worth the trouble.”

“Good point,” Laura said, her gaze again halting on the tall guy. He had large brown eyes. He was young, but getting male-pattern bald. His skin was dark. She considered herself indifferent to how men looked, but with visual data only, she found this guy interesting.

As for her own appearance, she had confirmed in the powder room that she was as good as she could get. The dark brown hair, mostly straight, curled in at the nape, as it should. Bangs covered her large forehead. Tonight she had gone with a dark red lipstick, and silvery earrings.

The tall guy had a small mixed crowd around him as he stood near a small high table bearing bottles and glasses. Laura couldn’t hear what he was saying, but his gestures, quick but deft, could have been sports-related.

Also in an attention-center, and right next to Laura, was Neris. Her crowd was all male. Even in her loose jersey, there were indications of Neris’s figure, trim and athletic but dramatically curvy. Her jeans clung to her long legs. Laura’s hang-back-and-listen act was effectively enforced by the presence of Neris, who would get the first looks from all straight males. Sometimes Laura wished she had Neris’s face and body, and the rest of the time, career-driven Laura had no idea what she would do with them.

Neris’s curly blond locks stopped just shy of her shoulders. Blue eyes contrasted with skin that hinted at olivine. The guys around Neris were pretty much just guys. Laura decided to drift away, and get close enough to hear what the tall guy was saying.

She saw that Lesley was already one-on-one, playing pop-a-shot with a guy, to the great amusement of both of them.

The tall guy wasn’t exactly holding court. His listeners didn’t hang on every word, and as Laura watched, a man and a woman left the group, looking elsewhere. One other man walked up to the fringe, but as Laura arrived he too drifted away.

“You gotta rise up when you fake,” said the tall guy, extending his neck as he drew his arm back behind his head, and repeated the moves twice more, quickly. “Even an experienced goalie will at least flinch, and cheat to one side. The arm isn’t enough, but coming up always makes it look like you’re taking a shot.”

He had long arms and big hands. His voice was slightly accented, in a way Laura couldn’t place. There was enough light for her to pick out the lean muscle on the brown skin, revealed by a sleeveless green doubleknit.

She had no idea what sport he was describing.

She was fascinated, which for her was better than being aroused.

One of the listeners, a white guy in a black basketball superstar’s jersey, said “But isn’t it a pretty slow game, really? When there’s a turnover, both teams swim to the other end, which has nothing on a fast break.”

Turnover. Swim. Laura recalled sitting in a dorm TV room in college, with the Olympics on. Water polo?

“It’s plenty fast when you’re in it,” said the tall guy. “And you have to make quick decisions, and get your pass to one of your teammates.”

“How can you be sure of that, with all the splashing?” asked a middle-aged woman who seemed unconvinced that the sport should even exist.

The tall guy smiled, and flipped from a pocket a business card, which landed next to one already on the table. “That’s when I put on my other hat. Orlando Ruiz, member of the Honduras national men’s water polo team, and the team’s official optometrist. I can get anyone’s prescription worked into fog-free goggles.”

Laura almost cracked up. Ruiz’s eagerness to please, and the outlandishness of his declared role, made him seem like a dealer of three-card monte. She was about to walk away, but an older man said, “I saw your exhibition game. Too bad this whole team you’re with doesn’t play for Honduras.”

“Tell me about it,” Ruiz smiled. His voice had a Latin lilt, but his English was fully American. “Most of the time, Team Honduras doesn’t have the money to get into international competition. When we do have the money, we don’t practice enough to be competitive.”

Laura heard a snippet from where she had been. “K-h-a-s-h-a-h-n-d-a-r-a-n,” Neris was saying, spelling out her last name. “My father’s Iranian.”

“Well, good luck with it,” said the first listener, shaking Ruiz’s hand. “Keep chasing the dream.” He and the middle-aged woman moved on, trailed by Ruiz’s “Thanks.”

The older man smiled and said, “I enjoyed how you showed those college kids how the pros do it.”

“It’ll make the kids better,” said Ruiz. He shook the hand of the man whose departure left Ruiz without an audience.

In moved Laura. “Hi, I’m sorry, I came in late. This is some other team you’re playing on?”

He noticed her for the first time. He smiled widely, drawing bahis şirketleri himself up in recognition of a tall and, yes, attractive young woman. “Yes, I’m in a corporate sponsored team, touring colleges, playing their varsities.”

“All the way from Honduras?” She couldn’t help challenging him.

“I live here,” he said. “Dual citizenship. When the national team has money, I go to Honduras.”

Now Neris’s voice carried more strongly. “No, I’m blue-eyed on both sides. How unpleasant do you want this to get?”

Laura remained playful. “It must be hard to do all this, and optometry.”

His smile now showed that he was aware of her skepticism. “I’m between practices right now. Most of us in the field have to work with eyewear chains. The one I was with kept cutting into my margin, demanding higher office rent, stuff like that.” He held up his optometry card. “I could run these off on a laser printer in five minutes.” He reached behind and brought out a wallet. “But the holographic stamping on this would be a little harder to fake.” He pulled out an ID declaring Orlando M. Ruiz to be a member of the American Optometric Association. “Would you like to see my malpractice insurance card?”

Laura smiled. Mostly she had believed every word of his story, or wanted to. It struck her as too bizarre to be phony.

Neris, much louder: “My blue-eyed ancestors were building civilizations while yours were trying to build mud huts! Still waiting for an apology, loser!”

Laura and Orlando looked her way. A guy with a shaky grip on a beer glass slurred something unintelligible. Neris stormed for the exit, getting out her phone.

“That guy told me to go back where I came from,” Orlando muttered. “I told him I came from Milwaukee.”

Laura’s phone chimed. Neris had texted: 2 MANY A-HOLES. I’M OUT.

He chuckled, looking out at the whole Goalpost scene. “A dark-skinned, Hispanic optometrist, who also plays water polo.” He glanced at Laura. “You can see how fast the interest wears off.”

She smiled up at him, and put a hand on his. “Not to me.”

Another chime, this time a text from Lesley. SORRY NERIS. LAURA, DON’T NEED RIDE BACK, MAYBE NOT A LEZ 2NIGHT.

Laura looked at Orlando. “I seem to have no more responsibilities tonight.”

She waited. His smile was nice but the best he could think of to say was, “Sounds good.”

Don would have said, ‘Does that mean you can be irresponsible?’ she thought. Orlando is my anti-Don.

***

She drove them to the hotel where his team was staying. On the way, he tried to balance things by asking about her. She gave him the short form, saying that apart from work she didn’t do much that was interesting, and didn’t have time anyway. She stopped herself from pointing out how he had done much more with his possibilities than she had with hers. A discussion of white privilege and sexism might be interesting and illuminating, but equally might not, and would take too much time. He had noted that the team had an early flight in the morning, so she decided not to stay the night with him.

Having committed herself to getting the most from this encounter, she savored undressing him, and examining his musculature visually and tactilely. Wanting to show him her appreciation, she exaggerated, saying “Beautiful” when what she really meant was more like nice or impressive.

He may have taken that as fishing for the same from him. As he undressed her he said, “I like a tall lady.” She didn’t know him well enough to decide if he meant it.

He didn’t clean up as thoroughly as she would have liked. Her foreplay was therefore mostly dick stroking, with some licking, mainly along the shaft, and a few brief tonguings of the head. He didn’t eat her pussy at all, just fingering her clit and labia and spreading his saliva on them. This wasn’t unusual in her one-night stands, and she knew from the time with her few steadies in college that lovemaking improved as lovers got better acquainted. Tonight, she and Orlando would just have to make the best of it.

He wanted on top. Okay by her. He had condoms, and expected to use them. Very good, she left hers in her purse. He kept the lights on. Wouldn’t have been her choice, because of her self-inflicted body issues.

He entered her smoothly, and the feel of his penis along her vagina pleased and stimulated her, and she savored her response of wet warmth. So did he, with a quiet moan.

As she nearly always did, she soon began fingering her clitoris. He frowned, while still in rhythm. “Let me get you there,” he said.

She cooed, “You’re doing it Baby, I love it, you’re the one getting me there,” while thinking Come on, all you guys, I need more than a prick to cum, just deal with it. Rubbing out while you fuck me is a whole lot better than just rubbing out. Two to tango, all that crap.

Orlando started fucking harder and faster, trying to go deeper. His hold on her hips tightened. Laura knew that this would eventually hurt, and turn her off completely. Almost desperate, she kept up the mantra. “No Baby you’re so good, just love me sweetly the way you were, I love it, you’re the man.”

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