The ruckus in the reception room could compete with the sounds of the busy New York street underneath Sara’s window. Through her closed office door, she could clearly hear a man was gradually raising his voice at Vera. The poor receptionist was new but quite competent. Hardly any reason for anyone to bash her like this. Sara tore herself away from the supplies report needed for tonight’s Christmas party and came to see what it was all about.
A guy stood perched on the front desk, a little too close for Vera’s comfort, and pointed God knows what, with his manicured finger on the surface of the desk. His hair was freshly cut and ruffled. His beige Burberry coat had buckles on the sleeves and near its raised collar, a la Tom Cruise-Top Gun style. He looked young and entitled.
The heated discussion attracted the attention of the other employees on their floor who peeked their heads to see what was going on. The least they needed was a distraction ahead of the upcoming version release.
“Vera, what seems to be the problem here?” Sara asked.
The man raised his head and a smirk appeared on his lips as he righted himself. His daring hazel eyes lingered a little too long on the wrong areas of her body. Men usually smirked and checked her out for she did not look a day over 22 despite pushing 31.
“The gentlemen here – ”
“Mr Jung Jr.” he added, not tearing his gaze from Sara.
“Mr Jung Jr. says he is Mr Jung’s grandson and insists on waiting in his office.”
“I am sorry, Mr Jung Jr., but Mr Jung is out and he did not announce he was expecting anyone. Waiting in his office is out of the question. You are welcome to wait here in the reception,” and Sara pointed at a set of very comfortable armchairs. “We could bring you some coffee or tea.”
“My grandfather bought your company and you expect me to wait by the door? Like any loser?” He blurted with an incredulous expression.
He did say those words and they were not a joke, rubbing Sara in all the wrong ways, muscles tensing under her olive skin.
“What are you? His secretary?” he continued in the same uptight tone. “Go ahead and call him yourself. He will tell you who I am.”
“I am the Office Manager, Sir. And I can not call our CEO as he is meeting important clients. I highly doubt this requires us to disturb him. But I have the perfect place for someone of your status.” Sara came closer and took his arm. The man did not oppose as he seemed to enjoy her proximity.
Being close to him Sara was hit by his luxurious cologne mixed in with some alcohol. And it was not even noon. She wondered if he would be the type who blamed his drinking for his mistakes. That could explain his overbearing exuded self-importance.
All absorbed in her presence and in his entitlement, he did not notice he was being led to the exit door until it was too late. “What do you –” but could not formulate his question, because Sara closed the door in his face, wishing him a good day.
“And do not let him in again,” she said, turning to Vera. The doorbell buzzed without stop and the irked man banged and shouted threats from outside until Sara added loud enough for him to hear. “And if he continues like that, call security please, Vera.”
A troublemaker through and through, he had no problem shouting at her, through the door, something about a Bitch. Sara did not care. She had tough skin, forged in Queens, on the wrong side of the tracks. And she was a busy Queens bee who had a lot to do ahead of tonight’s Christmas party.
By night time, all of her colleagues were already headed to the reception at the hotel from across the street. Sara had to stay behind to draft the final bills before calling it a day.
When getting to a party, it’s better to be late than never.
She pulled out the little dark green dress with sequins from the dress cover and changed in her office, then opened her hand mirror to fix her makeup and hair. Her olive-green eyes stared back at her with some unwanted bags under them. Her eye and skin colour came as a package, courtesy of her Italian grandmother and might just be what saved her precious time getting ready. Good skin needed not much cover and a simple brown eyeliner would do wonders. When she checked herself again she thought she did not look 20. Perhaps a very exhausted 29 years old. She shrugged it off.
Her ex always complained about her looking like coming from a train wreck every time she got home. Perhaps that whore, who will not be named, that he cheated on her with, would look better after working 10 hours a day with her eyes stuck in a laptop screen.
She did not miss him. Good riddance. But she did miss something.
Out, in the chilly air, she pulled her coat around her and checked for cars before crossing on the other side. Nighttime in the city around this neighbourhood was eerie quiet. Steam columns made their way out of the manhole covers dancing like ghosts on the wet pavement. Sirens, calling for each other in the distance, were replaced by music as soon as she passed through the revolving doors of the hotel.
The dance floor was overflowing with people, celebrating a successful release and a night out paid for by the company. Sara avoided dancing for now. Perhaps after a couple of drinks. She sat at the bar and ordered two Dry Martini. After drinking the first glass she felt a heated stare drilling in her back. She turned but found no one. Only people letting loose to the dance moves. She gulped down the second glass and hit the dance floor. A sure recipe to make herself invisible to anyone staring at her.
She let down her hair and swayed to the music put on by the DJ. A couple of the girls from the office recognised her and came to dance together. She felt liberated until another body slowly glued itself on her back, following the same rhythm as she was. Strangely, she was not creeped out. A lot of things are allowed on the dance floor. She pulled her hair to the side with intent to glance at who was behind when foreign hands came to grab her waist and helped her turn around, coming eye to eye with a somewhat handsome face.
The same face she threw out the door this morning.
He smirked at her, then leaned closer to her ear, taking advantage of her shock. “Not so stuck up after a couple of drinks I take. Mind if I buy you some more?”
Sara pushed him away and shouted, hoping it would be loud enough to make herself heard over the music. “The drinks are already paid for.” She moved past him and headed in the direction of the bar because she had no other direction to head for. The man followed and sat next to her on a stool.
“Cranberry vodka and whatever she had before. It did her good,” he said to the bartender, while Sara rolled her eyes and turned her attention to her colleagues, dancing.
He waited for the drinks to be ready before handing over the Dry Martini. “Since we are sharing drinks, we could share our names as well. I’m Lucas, Lucas Jung. And you are?”
Sara looked at him sideways. She did not want to take the drink. She’d better not take the drink. Why did she take the damned drink?
After a first sip, she replied in an ice-cold tone, “Sara Daniels,” and put aside the glass, no longer gulping it down in one shot. She better keep focused.
“Yes, yes, the Office Manager, right? Better call yourself Office Guardian.” He displayed an insatiable grin. “Hey, we started on the wrong foot. I am sorry if I was a bother earlier.”
Sara huffed at him then turned on her rotating chair to ignore him once more.
“You could say sorry too, you know,” Lucas continued. “I did ask my grandfather to give you a raise for defending that office of his like a lioness.”
She wanted to get up and leave, annoyed for becoming his joke target, but he gently grabbed her arm.
“Hey, I am sorry, I really am,” he said with enough sincerity to make something shift inside of her. She stared at his daring fingers wrapped around her arm, then into his eyes.
Before she remained a prisoner in that hazel abyss, she leaned over, “You wanna dance?”
Lucas smiled and nodded. Sara headed back to the dance floor, not checking to see if he was coming. She knew he was close behind. When he put his hands on her again she turned and came even closer, swaying her body, wrapping her arms around his neck and teasing him. He stared at her as a boy caught with his hand in the candy jar. Not knowing if he was about to be punished, but unwilling to let go of the candy.
“You – you wanna go upstairs? I’m staying in the penthouse.”
Sara grinned at him. “Of course you are,” and she continued to sway to the music.
After some time and some awkward glances at her, he asked again, looking out of place from having to repeat the question. “So? You want to go up?”
She liked to put him in difficulty and remained silent. In turn, she moved her arm from around his neck and continued to dance by herself. Now that he was delving in uncertainty, she could tease him some more. But Lucas took her by the hand and led her out of the dance floor and the party room.
Sara stayed with him, as they passed the front desk and reached the elevator. He still kept her hand in his, barely grasping her fingers. It felt cold, moist and soothing. She could easily pull it out, yet she wanted to see where all this would lead. It did occur to her he might assault her, but she had a blue belt in karate, courtesy of her Chuck Norris obsessed father. She would not feel sorry to inflict some pain if he deserved it.
During the elevator ride, she kept staring at him but he avoided returning the favour. Perhaps he was afraid to start a conversation that might lead to her leaving. Once inside the penthouse, he set aside his suit jacket on the couch.
“Some wine?” Lucas inquired, sifting through a couple of bottles from a dedicated bar and picking one. He kept talking while pulling out the cork, “I wish I could brag about my personal taste, but I am afraid this is the hotel’s selection. It looks promising.”
Sara remained under the archway connecting the small lobby with the main room. She looked around. It smelled of potpourri and bleach. The city was peeking in from the two stories high windows. To her right was the bathroom. The bed could be glimpsed on the mezzanine. She wondered if she should let herself in or turn around and leave with a lame excuse.
“This was a mistake,” she went for the truth and for the door.
Lucas dashed to stop her, “Sara, hey, wait!” he tried to grab her shoulder but his hand recoiled back with a screech. “Auch! What do you have there? Pins and needles? Jesus!”
Sara was surprised to see his finger bleeding and instinctively looked at her shoulder pad. It had big holographic sequins and they were sharp. “You cut yourself? What are you? 8?”
“I’m 23! Thanks for the compliment.” He still had a sense of humour despite winching in pain like a kid.
“Alright, let me see that,” she came closer to assess his wound and entered together in the bathroom. She put his finger under the faucet and looked around the hotel amenities but found no disinfectant, nor a bandaid. Five-star hotel rubbish. Luckily she was always prepared. She dug around her purse and took out the hand sanitiser and a bandage.
“Well, now I am impressed,” he joked while looking at her as she mended his finger. “I didn’t expect to get hurt before our first date ended.”
“Oh, is this a date?”
He did not reply right away. Instead, he stared into her eyes and came a little closer. “I want to kiss you,” he murmured.
Sara said nothing, nor did she move away. She stayed there holding his gaze until his lips smacked on hers. At least he was good with his tongue. The swirls he went for sent shivers all over her body.
She missed this, having a mouth search for hers, feeling so intimate with another. It tingled that special spot in between her legs. With shame, she admitted she was attracted to this 23-year-old, full of himself, guy. Or perhaps there was something else she had been missing. Her poor vibrator had been used until ruin.
She put her arms around him and instinctively pressed her body on his. This was all he had been waiting for. His eager hands went to search for absolutely nothing all over her back. She allowed him to lead her up the stairs, to the bed, and to unzip her dress. Then to push her on the mattress and settle himself over her, his very enlarged self pressing on her hip through his trousers.
In between kisses she had lost count of how long it had been or when she, or was it he who undressed her fully. She became aware of herself only when he took off his shorts. Him, tearing with his teeth the packaging and sliding the condom on his nakedness, brought her to the present.
“Wait, this is all sorts of wrong,” she said, keeping Lucas at an arm’s distance.
He sighed and sat next to her, clearly disappointed. His eyes still lingered over her naked form. Sara felt ashamed and covered herself with her hands. Noticing this, he brought her the sheet.
“If you want, I can call you an Uber or something,” Lucas said, running his hand through that perfectly ruffled hair, his thing still as stiff as a pole.
“Why did you bring me here?” Sara asked the obvious question. What she did not expect was the answer.
“It felt right. At that moment, something felt right.”
His answer seemed sincere and resonated with a hidden chord within her. She turned his face her way and brought it closer. For the first time tonight, she kissed his lips. Putting aside the sheet, she laid on her back, spread her legs and received him. With youthful eagerness, he began grinding himself against her body.
This... This was what she missed. To have her hunger quenched by another’s hunger for her. To have something fill her up to feel whole again. To have a man’s body weight pin her down and bring some rest to her restlessness. She needed this. She enjoyed it until exhaustion and she was vocal enough to let him know.
The sweet fatigue, settling in after she released her passion, together with the tender manner in which he was holding her, allowed Sara to close her eyes for a second. When she opened them again the city skyline was bathed in the morning light. Lucas was softly purring near her ear. She tried to slip out of bed unnoticed but found his arm still wrapped around her waist.
He stirred awake and pulled her closer, nuzzling and kissing her neck. That was her special spot. She had no objection when he took her again that morning.
“What do you want for breakfast,” Lucas asked while she was still in the shower.
“I don’t eat breakfast.”
“Then let me buy you some coffee at least. This hotel brew is rubbish,” he requested, leaning on the bathroom door.
Sara offered him a bright smile, barely visible through the steamed shower glass. “I know a great coffee shop a couple of blocks away.” She did not feel out of place like she thought she would. In fact, she felt strangely satisfied.
Saturday morning was a busy time to be out for coffee. Sara was sitting outside, at the table they spied and hunted together, and watched Lucas through the coffee shop window. He was waiting his turn in the queue, fretting with impatience and making funny faces at her. How he could be immature in a funny way and alluring at the same time was a puzzle to her.
“I had to fight tooth and nail for these,” he placed the two small cups of italianos on the table. While he sat in his chair, with his locks shining under the morning sun, in his Burberry coat with a raised collar and buckles, sipping leisurely from his coffee, he was the image of a wild boy, ripped out from a magazine cover.
“So, when are you gonna give me your phone number, or your Twitter handle, or something?” Lucas asked, blowing to warm up his hands.
Sara searched for a pen in her purse and took a napkin.
“I see. No phone bump. You are an old fashion girl,” he half-smirked.
Putting down her empty cup, Sara lifted from her seat and handed him the note. “I am sure if you need my phone number, you have your ways to get it.” She smiled and left him there with a simple goodbye.
Next Monday, before the end of a new day’s work, Lucas was waiting for her, patiently sitting on the armchair in the office reception.