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Life is full of surprises. Sometimes, it’s a flat tire, other times it’s a 20 dollar bill that somehow appeared in the bottom of your purse when you’re at your most broke. The strangest and the sweetest surprises are often the ones that come from within. This is exactly what happened to me one oppressively humid July afternoon when I realized that I was growing maddeningly attracted to Stanley Jenkins.
The first thing you need to know about Stanley, or Stan as everyone in the free world refers to him, is that he is not my usual type. For starters, he’s a slight man, standing about 5’6 in his work boots. That would be fine if I was one of your more typically petite heroines, but my form has always been more R. Crumb girl than generic-Hollywood-WASP and wasp-waisted starlet. Most guys, especially those that are smaller than me, have never really looked my way. Hell, some of the guys bigger than me would often opt for the tinier girls. It made adolescence horrible but by the time I got into my 20’s and 30’s, I learned to feel more comfortable with my curves. If I was too much woman for someone, then I figured he wasn’t man enough for me.
But it wasn’t just all of that. Stan’s what my friend Deb calls a “a strange dude.” It’s like a burn out from the 60’s had a baby with a dock worker. He’s a total beer drinking, ball game watching guy whom on occasion quotes Eastern philosophy. One night, I swear, I heard him blasting Stravinsky’s “The Planets” like it was “Free Bird.” This intrigued me. The guys in our company are usually one chromosome away from their knuckles dragging the floors, which is par for the course in this town. The way his eyes, oceanic pools of deep blue, sparkled, like the whole world was a joke that only he was in on, intrigued me too. This was not your average man and I liked that, but I wasn’t ready to start making little construction paper hearts and throwing my panties at him. He was a smart, unusual guy in a sea of male mediocrity.
Things changed for me that fateful Friday, in the navel of one of the hottest Summers on record for the county. Everyone in the office was in a bad mood, though nowhere near the languid borderline-murderous mood in the workroom, which often felt like ass on a good day. The air conditioning had decided that an afternoon featuring a high of 102 degrees with 80% humidity was a fine time to die. The way it felt in that old, concrete building, a lot of us were starting to envy that AC, since at least death would promise the cold. There were rumors that the boss was going to let all of us leave early, given that there were health concerns, not to mention the fact that productivity is often hampered when you are soaking with sweat and trying not throttle your coworkers.
I hadn’t even seen Stan that day until I took my fifteen minute break, sitting in my parked car with the AC running at full blast. Unfastening two buttons on my gray blouse, I leaned towards the bursts of delightfully cold air. If I could have, I would have married my car at that moment. She was older than I was and always threatening to quit, but when push came to shove, she was there for me. “I love you, Bertha.” I cooed before hearing something knocking on the glass, scaring the shit out of me.
My heart racing, I looked up and saw Stan, his thin but wavy locks plastered against his head with sweat. Relieved that it was him and not a psycho killer, or even worse, my boss, catching me in a borderline make-out session with my car’s AC unit, I quickly rolled down the window.
“Sorry about that, trying to enjoy some respite from the clay oven out there.”
“Yeah, that’s actually why I am knocking on your window. Do you mind if I sit with you? My car’s AC is on the fritz and at this point, I think you’re the only person with a pulse I can stand.”
My heart fluttered a little with that, while it was still recovering from the small adrenaline rush of him scaring the bejeesus out of me.”
“Sure. Come on in.”, I said, relieved I had de-littered Bertha a few days ago. He doesn’t need to know about my bachelor-esque eating habits.
I reached over to unlock the passenger side door for him, not realizing until midway that I was more than likely giving him a bit of a show. Little tendrils of embarrassment creeped up, making me blush a little but figuring it was too hot to have a lot of shame, I pushed it aside.
That was until I noticed Stan checking me out as he slid in. He wasn’t a pig about it, but looked just long enough to let me know what was up. Well, if my pale, sweat soaked cleavage brought him a moment of joy, then that was fine.
But when he started to take off his work shirt, it was my turn to ogle. At that point, I think he was just trying to cool down and god knows, if I could have gotten away with it, I would have been sitting in my car practically starkers. Seeing how taut and naturally muscular he was, I was speechless. I’ve never been into overly muscular guys and am still not. Gym rats look like the most boring conversationalists bahis firmaları in the world to me. However, Stan’s body was almost lithe. Slight but strong, undoubtedly from all the hard work that he naturally did. I had heard that he did some woodworking on the side. It showed, with his chest looking so compact and strong.
In a million years, I never thought I would be drooling over Stan but yet, there I was. Wanting to look away but taking full advantage of his eyes being shut as he was soaking in the air.
A deep groan emitted from his throat, making something in me whir.
“God, thank you so much Penny. It feels like murder in that building.”
“Appropriate term, since I was feeling like I was going to murder someone in that building.”
Stan laughed, turning to look at me, blue eyes and wide smile and all.
“I’m not on that list, am I?”
“Heavens no, it would be silly to kill the only person there with an above-average IQ.”
“That’s good to know.”
He finally sat back, giving me a better look. There was surprisingly very little hair, with just a dusting of dark hair on his chest and around his navel. My inner voice told me to stop it and responding, I looked away and reset my gaze on his face, which was intently focused on me.
“So any news on whether we’re getting out early, yet?”
“No. Mr Reynolds is still waffling.”
“Fucking bastard,” I muttered.
“Ooh, I had no idea you had a potty mouth, Penny.”, he said, smiling at me. “I like women with a propensity for filthy language.”
“Well you came to the right car. If you hang around, you can hear me recite all the classics of bad language.”
“Stan, if I wasn’t so overheated right now, I would swat at you.”, making his eyebrows slightly arch.
“Hmm. I’ll take it. It’s beat the hell out of Glenda trying to grab my ass.”
“What?!? Glenda from supplies?” My eyes went wide. Glenda was my Grandmother’s age and unlike my white-haired, church attending me-maw, she still wore tight-fitting clothes and tanned like she was going to make a couch out of her skin.
“That would be the one.”
“God, I figured you were too smart for her. She tends to like ’em big and dumb.”
“I think the whole having a penis thing overrode her other qualifications.”
“She should hook up with Burt. They could form a union of libido-killers in the tri-county area.”
“Oh you got Burted?”
“Unfortunately. I was getting ready to go home one night and all that day, he kept winking at me, which I tried to ignore. But at the end of the night, he invited me to come over and look at his gun collection.”
Stan started to tremble with laughter.
“My trauma is not for your amusement, Stan.”
“Oh God Penny, I’m so sorry but gun collection?”, he said in between chuckles.
I just smirked at him, waiting for the laughter to die down.
“Sorry. Jesus, has that line actually worked for him?”
“I don’t know but it definitely did not work on me.”
“You’re way out of his league, anyways.”
“Thank you but given that we’re talking about Burt here, I don’t think that is saying much.”
“True but I’m surprised he would even think he could have a chance with you.”
The suddenly serious tone in his voice took me aback a little.
“Thank you, Stan. Maybe we could form a support group, since you had to deal with the Leatherface of barflies.”
That made him laugh. “Jesus, a dirty mouth and a wicked sense of humor. I never would have guessed.”
“Well it’s not like I can talk like this inside. They’d be praying for my soul and filling out my pink slip in a hot minute.”
Stan at this point had started getting a slightly far off look in his eyes, like he was still looking at me but his mind was not on our bullshitting about the workplace.
“You still with me?”, I said, laughing and snapping my fingers.
And like it was nothing, he immediately snapped back to planet Earth.
“Absolutely. I was just thinking about how awesome this is and how much I do not want to go back in there.”
“Ugh, I know and our break is almost over.”
A shiver, a rarity in this season, rippled through me, further proof of how much car does truly love me. As it sliced its way in further cooling me down, I could feel my nipples hardening. Oh Jesus and it’s not like my breasts weren’t already half out at this point. The whole situation was so enjoyable and kind of absurd, that I started giggling. Then it was Stan’s turn to look at me oddly.
“Okay, what’s so funny? It’s rude not to share.”
“Something just hit me, thinking of our 700 Club coworkers, if any of them come out right now, it looks like we have been having some hot make out session.”
Stan wanly smiled but didn’t say anything and it was then I noticed him subtly readjust his pants. I had to bite my tongue, since my first reaction was to say “Did I do that?” but I was still just getting to know him. Plus, why would he be interested kaçak iddaa in me? The only girl I had ever seen him with was this elfin looking blonde beauty back in April. A far cry from my own ampleness.
Instead, I tried to joke the awkward away.
“And I don’t want to have to get in a knife fight with Glenda over you.”
Now he smiled again. “That I would pay to see, though I bet you could take her.”
“I think there are laws against fighting AARP members. Plus, she could have something up her sleeve, like throwing bronzer powder in my face.”
“Plus, her blood is probably full of radiation from years of tanning.”
“That is one of the reasons why I do not tan. I would rather be pasty and have organs that don’t look like the have been put in a toaster oven.”
“You have lovely skin, Penny.”, he said in a near-whisper.
My heart started whomping again. What is happening? I thought. I had never to that point thought of Stan in any sort of sexual way, but there we were and I was looking at him and he was looking at me and the air was definitely sparking.
“Thank you, Stan. Your not so bad yourself.” I wanted to reach out and touch him and feel his taught skin, but the 15 minute mark was looming over us ever more strongly.
“Well we better get in before we use up any more of your gas and I have to defend you from Burt.”
“Burt? Hell I’m more worried about Glenda.”
I quickly buttoned my shirt back up, as he put his shirt back on.
“Man, this going to suck.”, he said as I shut the car off.
He wasn’t exaggerating, since getting back out into the thick air was awful. Minutes of cooling down was undone in two seconds.
We walked back to the building together.
“Hey Penny, thank you again for letting me hang out in your car. That’s the best break I have had in eons.”
“It was my pleasure. It’s been quite awhile since my car has had a friendly, half-naked guy in it.”, I teased.
“It’s been quite awhile since I have gotten to be half naked in a beautiful woman’s car, so it all works out.”
I blushed a little, which was mercifully hidden by how red I already was from the heat. Being fair skinned, it did not take much to bring a pink tinge to my skin, whether it was the heat, exercising or suddenly wanting to pounce on this strangely attractive man whom I’ve worked with for over two years.
As I reached for the door, Stan, wiping his brow with the back of his hand, spoke up again.
“Penny, what are you doing tonight?”
Figuring he wouldn’t want the long answer of having a date night with my DVR, bottle of red and my right hand, I just said “Oh nothing special, why?”
“Would you like to come over to my place? I’ve got a twelve pack that’s been chilling in the fridge all day and a new grill I haven’t tested yet.”
“That sounds like the best offer I have had in ages. I can’t think of a better way to usher in the weekend.”
I felt all happy-funny inside as he smiled widely and told me he would make sure to give me his address before he left for the day.
Luckily, our boss had given in and everyone got to leave thirty minutes later. As I was rounding up my purse, Stan popped back up, this time wielding a giant bottle of water and a piece of grid paper, with some writing on it.
“Hello there.” he grinned, looking almost a bit wolfish.
“At last we’re getting out of this sweat locker.”
“Indeed. Anyways, here’s my address and phone number, in case you get lost. Does around seven work for you?”
“Perfect. That gives me time to get home and wade in a vat of ice water for a few hours.”
“Now there’s a mental image that will keep me going for the rest of the afternoon. See you soon, Penny.” and he walked out.
I looked around, relieved that the place was near empty and that all of the harpies were long gone. Grabbing my stuff and leaving, the humidity now weighed not only around me, but deep inside as my own personal heat started to throb with the promise of the unknown for tonight.
The next three hours went by in a hurry. As soon as I got home, I fed my pet goldfish, Monte Markham and Mary Pickford respectively, and took a ten minute cold shower. Before I jumped in, I got a good hard look at my sweaty self and figured that either Stan had been secretly eying me for ages or he liked his women with damp, frizzy hair and smeary eyeliner.
After sweating in my clothes for hours, the chilly water felt like a gift from the heavens. A good shower is relaxing but a great shower feels like baptism. My mind started to drift, thinking of what the rest of Stan’s body must look like. With his job, it’s regulation to always wear pants made out of this thickish, blue material. Great for safety but terrible for ogling. Given how good his chest and arms looked, I imagined how strong his legs must be and what would they feel like wrapped around me, pinning me to the ground. My hand started to wonder from my stomach but I halted midway, wanting to perversely bask kaçak bahis in the sexual tension. There is something so painfully sweet about the build up. It’s a gamble, because there was just a much a chance that I could over there and the Stevie Nicks wanna-be could be there and the flirting was just that. But there was an equal chance of going over there and being deliciously alone with him.
I rubbed some sesame oil into my skin, making it soft and smelling faintly exotic. Rifling through my paltry closet, I lucked upon on a thin red cotton dress. It was thin enough to be comfortable, pretty enough to be feminine but casual enough for me to play my cards in the middle. A dab of black mascara here, some crimson red lipstick there and a black clip to pin the mass of still drying curls loosely back and I was starting to look halfway human again.
On the way to his house, I stopped by the grocery store and picked up a pint of Neapolitan ice cream for dessert and thought about licking it off of Stan’s neck as I got into the car and headed towards his street, Sleeping Wren Lane. Turns out, Stan lived in a small but surprisingly cute two bedroom cottage near the edge of town. It was a white shingled structure in one of the older neighborhoods in town, with a large potted cactus by the front steps,.
I walked up to the front porch, admiring the string of old pink and blue Asian lanterns that littered the ceiling and knocked. I suddenly felt a little nervous.
Instead, Stan opened the door, his hair dry, clean and wondrously messy around his face. His eyes looked even more blue than usual, offset by his thin, periwinkle tee-shirt, featuring a faded line drawing of a black sailboat. It looked like the perfect kind of tee, soft, well-worn and better than a blanket.
“Damn Penny, you look gorgeous! My lady in red.’
“Yes, complete with ice cream.”
“Even better.,” he smiled, leaning over to kiss my cheek, which I instinctively leaned down for. His lips seared into my cheek. I hated feeling like a bag of nerves but was loving the opiate-like flutter this man was giving me.
“Let’s get this in the freezer.”, he said, gently grabbing the ice cream. We walked through the living room, featuring one very used and very cushy sea foam colored sofa and an old concert poster for The Pretty Things and headed towards the kitchen. Stan’s kitchen was shockingly clean, in fact way cleaner than mine. He had a big white fridge that was littered in cut out quotes and photos of Hunter S. Thompson and Frank Zappa.
“Nice fridge.”, I said completely serious and in awe of Stan’s taste.
“Oh thanks. I keep these geniuses around, hoping to pick up something up by osmosis. Hasn’t happened yet but hope springs eternal.”, he said, putting the ice cream in the freezer.
He then took me through the back door onto his mercifully shaded patio. The heat was still ominous but had settled down a little since that fateful afternoon. Stan, giving me the first good look of his wiry but strong looking legs, made a little ta-da motion to the medium sized black grill.
“What do you think? I know it’s nothing fancy like some of the boys at the shop have.”
“Please, those guys are compensating.”, I blurted out. “I like it. It looks like it could do lots of yummy damage, plus for a girl who is used to eating food that’s been cooked on Teflon, this will be a real treat.”
He smiled and then held up his hands, “Wait right there. I’ll be right back.”
My hunger was getting a twin, as my belly let out a little grumble. Being a man of his word, he came right back, this time holding two ice cold beers and a large plate of food to grill. There was a rainbow assortment of peppers, tomatoes and onions, all flanked by two large pieces of fish.
“Here you go, Madame.”, he said, badly affecting a British accent as he handed me a beer, which I gladly took.
“Thank you so much, Sir Stan. By the way, that food looks amazing.”
“You know I’m so glad you like it because it hit me after buying everything that I should have asked you if you liked seafood.”
“Everything but lobster and oysters. And plus, I love beer.”
“Excellent. This is all part of my nefarious plan, you know.”
“What nefarious plan? To feed me good food and free beer?”
“No, though that is a part of it. More like luring you to my house under the auspices of dinner.,” he said, with his tone half light but tinged with something a little heavier.
“It’s working so far and if you’re not careful, I may end up staying over here a few hours.”
I got a wide smile with that one. “Looks like this could be my lucky night.” I was a lady and refrained from making a “getting lucky” joke, only because of the fact that I had only just started drinking.
We chit-chatted about randomness, mostly work and life related matters while he cooked. Watching him season everything was like watching an abstract artist at work. To the untrained eye, it looked like he was just throwing seasons down but all of it was artfully landing on the food. The smell was killing me, with the smokey notes of maple and cayenne making my stomach grumble. And of course, all of this made me talk even more, hoping Stan didn’t notice.
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