The hotel corridor smells musty, like that wet towel you just can’t get the mildewed smell out of, no matter how many times you throw it in the wash. The pictures on the wall, hung evenly at eye level with absolutely zero artistic distinctiveness, are banal and unoriginal. One of the overhead bulbs is flashing that classic garish yellow at irregular beats, almost matching the cadence of my rattled heart. I can hear the ice machine relentlessly whirring a few doors back.
How ironic that this simple, trite backdrop may ultimately be the stage where I define my own fateful resolution.
An ocean of choices.
Sure, that’s not a standard measurement, but you must understand.
I’ve been violently lurching back and forth on turbulent currents of uncertainty for months now. The indecision swimming through my veins, stinging my resolve like a thousand jellyfish.
I wonder often if my husband can see how unsteady I’ve become. Do my eyes show him a ceaseless stream of escalating discord? Can he read between the lines of my distance, of my dwindling desire for his touch?
We used to be so close, him and I. Our foundation built as sturdy as one of his architectural designs. The structural load of our relationship built from the ground up. A trust that formed a friendship that we constructed into a solid attachment.
But an aggregate of rocks is no place for true romance. Sure, it’s stable and the load of our marital duties is carried out evenly, with relative ease, but what if now I crave more? Am I to forever repress my ache for passion? This new, feverish desire to experience the sensation of profound and concentrated ardor? I want more than a flickering flame.
I want to burn.
So, I know how momentous this choice is. What it signifies.
Through one door, I go to my own, dingy hotel room. Alone. I strip down, take as hot a shower as my feeble water heater allows, check my emails one last time, and go to bed. I know I’ll dream of him. I do every night; a variation of fantasies that provide me a pitiful sense of what it would be like to be his.
Tonight though, at the end of the cocktail hour following our day-long conference, he did something unexpected and unreasonably tempting. We’ve been clumsily dancing around our mutual attraction, letting the chemistry of our awareness ebb and flow. Our relationship inching towards…something.
Proximity, the catalyst to our potential affair.
What started out as a professional working relationship formed and molded into an ambiguous shape, indefinable to what it once was.
I started working later, so did he. I couldn’t stand the thought of him going home to her. Granting her laughs and focused attention that could be mine.
Look at me.
He started bringing his lunch to my office to eat. I changed my entire routine to make sure I had food pre-prepared to spend a scant 30 minutes with him, unobstructed.
I started wearing a bolder lip to draw his eyes down to the smile I wore only for him now. Every time it grabbed his attention, as I knew it would, my stomach would clench with desire.
I bought a sultry perfume and left it in my office to put on at work. I noticed he only wore the aftershave I once complimented.
We exchanged messages constantly, in every form of communication allowed.
Talk to me.
But really, what is the shape of longing?
Is it dimensional? A tangible form that twists and reforms? Is it a vibrant, pulsing red or is it the gray of indifference?
Tonight, in this hallway, it feels like a winding pattern of eddies and swirls that circle around a hunger, consuming itself over and over as I continue to deny myself. There’s a sharpness to it that leans into pain.
For certainly, our infatuation has been running away with the both of us. Is it really wrong when you crave something this badly?
I stand here, flushed with uncertainty. The keycard he snuck into my hand slippery from the moisture of my sweating palm.
As I moved past him at the conclusion of the cocktail hour, his hand skimmed the exposed sliver of my naked back. I tried not to let the ripple of pleasure at this simple contact show on my face. I turned to him and he discreetly handed me his hotel keycard. We briefly made eye contact before he turned and walked towards the other exit.
So, I know he’s in there now. Waiting for me. I took a moment to go outside and press my cold hands on my overheated face. I took a moment to really think. There is no going back from this. For either of us.
An ocean of choices.
What happens if I choose him? What happens next? A life of secrecy and lies, hidden touches, stolen affections? Does our connection not deserve something more than sidelined consideration?
Or, what happens if I slip the card under his door and go back to mine? An implied declaration to keep things from passing the threshold of appropriate.
Do I then simply return to a semi-stable construction of a life? If I remove the opportunity of closeness, will this twisting shape release me from its vise?
I take several deep breaths. Really, it’s now or never.
Despite my nerves, I choose for myself.
A droplet of surety encouraging ripples outward.
I walk forward, keycard in hand. Before I can even act, he’s there. Door wide open, eyes probing mine, desperately searching my face to read my intentions.
“You came,” a breathless, relieved whisper.
I slip the keycard into my purse, no longer needing it.
I bite my lip as he openly stares at me. The unspoken agreement to ignore the building tsunami of affection breaking upon the shore, waves colliding and kissing at their crest. I choose this.
Our eyes finally meet. Any remaining water of our tidal wave igniting like compressed steam with the heat of our anticipation.
Our union, a conflagration. A true blaze ready to scorch through our carefully constructed lives.
But, like I said, I want to burn.
I inhale his aftershave and reach my hand out to tug his fingers into mine.
He moves with such speed that my back is against the closed door before I can even exhale…
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Ok wow, I'm not sure if this is a specific genre? Where passion wins, where it's ok to follow your own path, you know, as opposed to the easy hallmark ending story lol? I was really hoping it would go this way, and saying that I sound like the bad guy? But the contrast between the relationships was so well written and I think for me it was almost less about the affair, that was a release, but the moment of decision was coming to terms with what was missing, what would probably never be there? I love how even the description of the hotel deco...
I’m not sure either?? I always worry how well these translate once they’re outside my brain. Glad to hear you were rooting for that specific door choice! I feel like I always leave the story open ended but didn’t want that this time... Thank you SO MUCH for reading this... 😊😊
This is an incredible story. The way you go about such a heated topic was beautiful. I felt her frustration and passion. Loved it! :)
Thank you so so much!!! :)
Wow. This. I'm trying to figure out what to say, because my reaction did not happen in the part of my brain that holds words. Still, it was a strong emotional reaction, I have to let you know. I think I was holding my breath. On an intellectual level I appreciate how you carried the metaphor through the whole story. On an empirical level, you really convey this strong desire to burn-- in good ways and bad. This was brave. I have tiptoed into this territory in a couple of stories, but never addressed characters' feelings in such a direct way....
Goodness, wow, thank you!! I will say I was a bit nervous to see how this translated for other people. It’s hard to root for or relate to a character that you know is about to make a bad decision, but I had to try! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! :)
It was their restraint so far that made it relatable to me: "We’ve been clumsily dancing around our mutual attraction, letting the chemistry of our awareness ebb and flow. Our relationship inching towards…something." Also, his reaction when he saw her. That seemed appropriately humble. I, unlike others, was not so sure she'd go through with it. You created a compelling dilemma-- duty vs desire, and defined each very well.
I appreciate that!! Thank you :)
This story was really well-done! Very captivating and such an interesting view into a very heated, touchy topic. You moved about it gracefully and really immersed me into the story. The only thing I wanted different was for it to say "Hear me" instead of talk to me, to go with the rhythm you created. otherwise it was awesome. great job!
Ohhh...that's really good feedback. I don't think I can change it anymore or I likely would! Thank you so so much!!!! :)
I wrote a romance for this contest too, except it's set in space, and they're both girls. Crazy how all-encompassing the genre gets, eh? The "taste me, consume me, talk to me" chant was intoxicating, like a Katy Perry song, and that's when I knew I had to finish reading this. I know you can't edit anymore but my one (minor) gripe is that I think it was pretty obvious what choice she would make in the end. But with an ending as steamy as that, honestly, who cares lol. Good stuff! ;)
I love so much how each story from the same prompt is so different. It's amazing the amount of creativity on this site! I'll have to check that out ;) Ha!! Thank you so much!!!!!! <3
I chuckled at this line: "Sure, that’s not a standard measurement, but you must understand. " These types of stories are certainly not my cup of tea but somehow I was held captive. The reason being that I think this story is deeper than the affair, which is why I read it. Another reason is because you wrote it, so why not? Kelly, you wrote an exemplary story about release and temptation. You wrote a story so relatable and instead of your character denying that temptation, she welcomes it. Amazing job! The way you incorporated the doors w...
How incredibly kind! Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to read this...I can't even tell you how much I appreciate it. I was a bit worried about how people might react to an admitted affair. I'm glad it wasn't too off-putting... Thank you, again... <3 <3 :)
Your very welcome:)
This was such a good read, damn. I am not even remotely guilty of loving to read adult romance books. This felt like such a good build up of sexual tension and frustration. Great way to use the prompt! You made me think about how often the two metaphorical doors are in our lives when it comes to choices.
High praise, especially if this isn't your genre!!! (Truthfully I don't even know if it's mine?!) I appreciate these kind words so so much... <3
I don't know what my genre is really....I think it feels like too much pressure to label my genre just yet, if that makes sense LOL It was a great read, really.
For sure...I totally get that. The label seems semi-permanent somehow and I don't like it! Thank you so much!!!!!
Hi Kelly, I love the heat here!! And so glad the story ends as it does. I was holding my breath, ready for the let down. Ha! Great work!
Right??? There are too many instances (for me) where a fictitious character takes the high road. Not this time ;) Thank you!
ahh this is so well written! I love that you used the doors in this way, hotel doors but also such a metaphorical choice. a bit different from your usual style but it works really well!
Yessss!! Thank you so much!! It felt different, too. I've been a little worried how it might translate once out there. I appreciate this a lot :) :)
definitely translates well!
This was a clever use of the prompt, using the doors as a metaphor for the life-changing decison she has to make - safety and stability or passion and adventure. Great work!
Thank you so so much!!! :)
This was amazing as always! Absolutely loved the interrupted parts. "Look at me, see me, taste me" etc... gave a build up of tension (sexual on their part!?) Which obviously began to get released just AFTER this ended 😂 Really liked the ocean references throughout too, kind of gave it a feeling of being uncontrollable. Great job!
Thank you so so much!!! You know...I added the interrupted parts at the very end, while I was editing. I'm pleased you liked that! So glad I added them! :)
Yeah it was really good! Honestly bordered the erotic genre, you could feel the sexual tension between them from the off. Bit different to your usual style, but it was great thats for sure!
Kelly... this was amazing!! I think you created something wonderful here with this dark romance. I haven't read a story like this before, but I loved this from beginning to end. The internal thoughts here were just fantastic and blew my mind. I think it spoke volumes about how she felt inside and how she wanted to feel wanted and desired. I loved this line: “Any remaining water of our tidal wave igniting like compressed steam with the heat of our anticipation.” - This was great!! This story was so different from your others, and I ...
Thank you so much, Daniel!! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this. It definitely felt like a different kind of story to write. I usually leave the endings open but felt even I needed a bit of closure. Make a decision, girl! Lol ♥️♥️♥️
:) I love that!!! But I think her husband might be mad later... ;) This was great Kelly, I loved it ❤️