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Office Frustration"I'm so fucked."
He sighed after this admission, so deeply that his breath tickled the tiny hairs along my arm. I clutched my drink a little more tightly, swishing the vodka and ice. I wasn't mixing my drink as much as I was distracting myself.
I couldn't look at him; I risked losing myself completely in his eyes. Instead, the tiny curl of lemon peel lying on top of the ice in my post-meeting, after-work cocktail held my attention.
Or at least it held my gaze. The rest of my body honed itself like a homing beacon on his every word, his every breath. I could almost feel his heart beating through my skin. I could smell his sadness and regret, mingled with the scent of him and his cologne, even from across the table. My thighs clenched reflexively, wanting to wrap around his hips; my legs itched to tangle with his long ones beneath the table. My arms were taut and locked, resisting the urge to reach for him.
"I'm such a fuck-up, too," he added as an afterthought.
"You're not a fuck-up," I muttered into my glass.
But you're definitely fucked, I thought to myself. And so am I.
I gave in to the overwhelming urge to look at him—and I was sunk, floundering in my desire for him, swamped with emotions. His stare locked onto my face, his beautiful dragon-green eyes tracking me. The sadness creasing his forehead, pulling down the corners of his mouth, made my heart wrench. His long fingers are locked around a beer bottle, hanging on as if the beer anchored him to the table.
I looked away. I had to, or risk breaking into tears while jumping across the table to maul him.
"It wasn't supposed to be like this." His voice was raspy with emotion. He'd had enough to drink; his control over his feelings was slipping.
"But no, I'm a fuck-up. Men like me are supposed to marry a trophy wife the second time around. Unfortunately I married that beautiful, useless, miserable bitch first."
Okay-I'm now sold on the notion you're a bit of a fuck-up, my dear. That stone-cold blonde pit bull you married is proof.
It was my turn to sigh. I hadn't realized I'd been holding my breath, but apparently I'd held it along with my strangling frustration. I tried to wash down a choking sensation with a healthy swig of my drink, but to no avail. Lemon rind was not the only bitterness on my tongue.
~ 0 ~ 0 ~ 0 ~I am so fucked, because I want him.
Want—it's too meager a word for what I feel about him. He's like water to my desiccated soul, oxygen to my suffocated life.
I need him.
Yet I can't have him, except at arm's length. I can have him only as his confidante, as his confessor, as his Girl Friday, as his gal pal. I cannot claim him as my lover although I am in love with him.
I cannot help imagining us giving into this force of nature, yielding with utter abandon to complete ourselves.
He never fully loses control, though; he will not cave. It's one of the things I both adore and dislike about him. His restraint under pressure is pure grace; he's a killing machine in the board room, tightly leashed power focused like a laser. Nothing ruffles him—not hot-tempered, bloviating attorneys, not unhappy, ranting customers, and not even angry, dissatisfied vendors. I want to gnaw his bespoke suit off his tall, lean body after watching him deliver a cool and deadly coup de grâce to an acquisition target.
And yet I wish he'd do the same to his wife. I hate that he cannot excise her from his life the way a surgeon removes a tumor.
~ 0 ~ 0 ~ 0 ~Tanya looks like a model, even after ten years of marriage. She's a tall, thin, icy blonde, although the brightness of her hair, the clearness of her pallid complexion, and the tightness of her bust and bum have been enhanced since Edward first met her in high school. The men of his corporate circle envy him. They have long thought him a lucky son of a bitch for landing the perfect set of tits, legs, and ass all wrapped up in one cool package.
Cool. Yeah, she was cool, all right. She was cool to everything Edward has ever wanted out of life. Cool to Edward, cool to sex after marriage, cool to having children, cool to being anything more than a pampered pet.
She'd landed her smart, handsome, hard-working trophy husband back in high school, and like a blood-thirsty tick on a dog, she wasn't going to let go. But she also wasn't going to let him have an inch. If the leash that Edward kept on his emotions was tight, Tanya's leash on Edward was even tighter.
Being young and naïve, Edward believed himself to be in love with Tanya when they were in high school and through most of college. He proposed to her before they'd finished their bachelor's degrees. It was a good investment for Tanya's daddy, who'd helped finance both of their educations. Daddy also paid for Edward's master's degree and his juris doctor, and put up money for subsequent corporate acquisitions once Edward started working for his father-in-law.
In short, Tanya and her father owned Edward. This was exactly how it was supposed to be, as far as they were concerned. Daddy got a smart, driven son-in-law and his little girl Tanya got her trophy hubby.
And Edward caught the emotional clue train a little too late. He'd painted himself into a corner so tightly that not even his law degree could get him out without losing it all.
I'd heard the entire story over the course of the last four years, working as his administrative assistant. What I didn't hear directly from Edward I was able to piece together from other employees' gossip, his family friends' chatter, and phone calls from his oh-so-lovely wife and his tyrannical father-in-law.
He'd come to dislike her with a passion, could barely tolerate being in the same room with her. If the business and his career hadn't depended on it, he'd never be seen in her company ever again. She didn't care much for Edward, either; she spent most of her time shopping or at the spa, or on vacation with her girlfriends. She generally avoided Edward as much as possible.
He would divorce her in a heartbeat if Tanya and her daddy had not owned him.
And I would fold him in my arms in the next heartbeat if he could divorce them—Tanya, her daddy and the business.
But he'd have to walk away from it all, everything he'd worked so hard for since he started high school. He might even have to pay that bitch additional alimony to compensate for her (read: her daddy's) investment in his degrees. There was plenty of legal precedent in which husbands were required to pay their wives alimony or a lump sum equivalent to one-half of their expected lifetime earnings.
And Tanya came by her greed naturally. She'd inherited both her father's grasping qualities and his fair complexion. You can be certain her daddy would hire an equally avaricious divorce attorney to ensure she got her half of Edward's life.
There would be little left of him when they were done.
I don't give a rat's whisker about his money or his status, but I wouldn't be able to stand by and watch the man I love throw away the fruits of all his education, hard work, and sacrifice just for me.
~ 0 ~ 0 ~ 0 ~Yes, I'm fucked. I'm merely collateral damage, having fallen hard for this man compelled to swim in a tank with sharks.
I can't help it, though. Whatever this is between us is primal; it doesn't bend to negotiated terms and arbitraged contracts. It pulls at us like gravity, synchronizes us like the moon and tides. We've found ourselves moving like entangled atoms. We work in tandem like twins at a remove, compelled invisibly to come together.
My hand has hovered over the phone as I wrestled against the urge to call him—and the phone rang as he called me.
He's punched the intercom to page me, just as I walked into his office to talk with him.
We've arrived at the same diner at noon, unaware of each other's impromptu plans for lunch.
I've looked up over a rack of greeting cards, only to see him on the other side, looking back with surprise at me as we buy birthday salutations for friends.
When we are near, the space between us becomes charged; I can feel his body heat at more than arm's length, and I suspect he can feel mine, too. His eyes darken with need when he looks into my eyes, and I imagine my own eyes look much the same. I want to reach out and caress his face, wipe away the sadness that furrows his forehead. I want to nuzzle that rust-colored five-o' clock shadow along his stubborn jaw line, run kisses along his neck below his ear. I bit down on my lower lip, restraining the urge to convey these wanton thoughts to him; the taste of blood filling my mouth from biting so hard.
I don't know how much more of this I can take. It's crushing me to fight this. I'm emotionally exhausted from swimming against this current.
~ 0 ~ 0 ~ 0 ~The pain was at its worst at the end of a long work day. After another lengthy meeting that ran into the evening, I stayed to help with the preparation of meeting minutes, post-meeting memos and press releases. Edward and I worked side-by-side, seamlessly passing drafts and final versions back and forth between us, sharing Chinese takeout over our laptops.
The most vulnerable moment came after 10:00 p.m., when we were deeply fatigued and our work nearly done.
I leaned over him as I reached for the final press release lying in front of him. My bust brushed his arm—innocently, I think, but I was far too tired to be absolutely certain. I wasn't so tired that I couldn't feel the firmness of his bicep beneath his crisp white dress shirt against my breast. Exhaustion didn't stop me from shuddering as I inhaled his all-too-male scent. He turned to look up at me, his green eyes once again dark. He froze in place, save for the twitching of his fingers; I was frozen, too, unable to look away.
It would have been so easy to simply wrap myself around him at that moment, fall into his arms and his lap.
But he blinked.
I blinked back.
He turned his head the other way and sighed.
I stood up, straightened myself as if something had happened, and walked away to the copier, clutching the press release.
~ 0 ~ 0 ~ 0 ~My heart pounded as if I'd run out of his office.
Perhaps I had; I only knew I couldn't be that close to him for a second longer.
I've never had Edward's level of personal discipline; if I hadn't left his office at that very moment, he would have fared no better than the chocolate croissant I'd devoured this morning because I couldn't leave the kitchen fast enough.
If only I could have spread him out across his desk and licked him from head to toe.
More highly detailed, erotic thoughts streamed through my mind in time with the rhythm of the copier.
We could have been pounding out that same beat in his office chair. I could have been straddled across his lap, he could have been pushing up to match each of my down strokes…
I had no choice but to snag the copies off the printer as quickly as finished, then run to my own office to wrap up the last memos and prepare to leave. I dared not go back to his office or I would have cracked. I called him from my own office and told him I was leaving, and wished him a good evening.
He was dismayed. Couldn't I stay and keep him company until he finalized his speech? Couldn't I help him proof the final draft and help with a preliminary run-through? He begged like a small boy wheedling for sweets.
Sorry, no, I have chores at home I must address tonight, I told him.
Like feeding my cat and working out my pent-up sexual frustration about my boss with my vibrator.
He'd sighed and wished me good-night before hanging up.
But that wasn't where it ended—oh no.
~ 0 ~ 0 ~ 0 ~I'd been home a half an hour, the cat fed, my pajamas on, when my cell phone rang.
It was him, calling from his office.
"It's late, I'm so sorry," he murmurs, "but I can't let you go to sleep without hearing your voice one more time. I really didn't want to let you go at all tonight."
I choked up, gulping for air, for words, as I fought back tears. "I d-didn't want to leave you, b-but you know I couldn't stay. I'm too weak, Edward." I was too tired to hold back my feelings.
He swallowed—so hard, in fact, that I could hear him over the phone.
"You were strong enough to leave. I very nearly lost it while you were here. I'm weak enough that I called you. I need you. I don't know what I would do without you to keep me sane."
His voice was thin, reedy, unlike the firm, commanding tone he uses during business hours as a captain of industry. He sounded like I felt—hollow with unrequited want, need, and desire.
What could I possibly say at this point of any use? I sniffled, tears having welled up.
He sighed deeply, and then charged on in a more collected fashion. "In a more perfect world, if we could be together, tell me what you would do tonight when I came home, Bella."
"It would be easier to tell you what I wouldn't do for you, Edward. But if you came home right now to me, I would hug you and then ask you if you wanted a cup of tea or some brandy."
"I think tonight I need the brandy, love."
"Consider it done. I would offer you a massage after taking off your tie, rubbing out those kinks you get across your deltoids while you watch the late evening news."
"You know me too well. I'd kill to have your massage right now."
"Your shoulders were hunched up all evening while we worked. Try relaxing them now. Tighten your shoulder muscles for 15 seconds, and then release them."
I could hear him breathing into the phone; he was actually trying it. If only I could be there to help. What I would give to run my hands from the planes of his chest up and across his broad shoulders, along his lean ribs to the dimples at the top of his tight buttocks…
"And then…what would you do next, love?"
"When the news was wrapping up, I'd turn off the lights and the television and lead you to the bedroom. I'd undress you slowly, like a present being unwrapped."
His breathing quavered a bit. "And then what would you do?"
"I'd turn off all the lights except the bedside lamp, and then pull back the covers. And then I'd pull you into bed."
"Yeah?" he breathed into the phone.
"I'd snuggle up next to you and I'd lavish your face with soft kisses. I'd nibble your neck and work my way down to your nipples and tease them with my tongue."
"I'd follow your happy trail down to the waistband of your boxers with my lips, and then tug your boxers off."
"I can't help it, I need relief. I was already worked up after spending all evening working with you, and now you're driving me insane. Tell me you feel the same way."
"Yeah…I'm just as worked up. I'm frustrated. I was going to indulge in some, um, self-care before I went to sleep tonight, to tell you the truth."
I could feel the point at which his mind and body synced up with mine.
"Well, why don't you do that right now with me, some self-care? We'll do it together." His voice was lower and husky; the sound made me shudder as if he'd run his finger down my spine.
"I suppose…it's not like we can do anything else together, and I was going relax myself anyhow."
"So…if could watch you, what would I see you do next?"
"Uh, I'd take off my pajama pants and underwear…"
"You're doing that, right? What do your pajamas and underwear look like anyhow, not that you're keeping them on for long."
"I'm putting you on speaker…there…um, my pajama pants are a lavender-colored knit, like loose yoga pants…"
"Oh. They must cling nicely to that lovely, perky ass of yours." He snickered, and then sighed. "Go on…your panties were next."
"They're just white cotton bikinis, I'm sorry to say. Not very exciting."
"Don't apologize. White cotton is so sexy. It's so you, so straightforward, no nonsense, honest, sweet…and I hope you've shed those by now, because you're eager, too."
"Yes-s. They're on the floor."
"And then what would I see next? Do you have a pajama top to remove, too?"
"I prefer to wear a tank top…actually, it's a men's white athletic t-shirt. They're soft."
"But it's coming off next, right? Because if I was there to watch, I'd want to see your lovely breasts, too."
"It's off…on the floor." I resisted the urge to wonder if he'd think I was messy for flinging all my clothes onto the floor.
"Would I see you play with your breasts for me if I were there?"
"Uh…yes. I'd much rather you did this for me, though. You have no idea how many times I've imagined your hands cupping my breasts. I'm wild about your hands, your crazy long fingers."
"You'd have a tough time stopping me. I'm sure I've thought just as many times about your nipples, how much I'd love to pull on them gently to tease them before I nibbled on them."
The mental image of him playing with my breasts-let alone talking about it with him-was driving me out of my mind. My nipples tingled as they puckered with my increasing arousal.
"Bella." He was breathy, as if he'd whispered in my ear. "Pull on your nipples for me, please. I want you to tweak them."
"Uh…" I complied, speechless for a moment with the sensation; he could probably hear me breathing more heavily. If he was here, I'd bite his flesh right now.
"Where's your right hand, love? I want you to pet yourself. Pet your pussy and tell me how wet you are."
"Um…I'm very wet, Edward. If you were here to watch, it'd be worse. I'd be a puddle."
"I'd have a difficult time restraining myself if I were there. I'd want to tease you with my tongue, taste your wetness."
"What would you want me to do next, if you could watch?"
"Show me how you get yourself off with your fingers. Do it now." His order is urgent, raspy.
"O-okay." I stroked myself, running my fingers up and down through my wetness, circling my clit.
"Tell me what it feels like. What would I see, love?"
"I'm so wet. I'm already puffy. I won't take long to reach orgasm. If you licked me once right now, it'd be over."
He said nothing in response, but I could hear him breathing raggedly. He must be…
"Edward, are you helping yourself, too?"
"Unf…y-yes. So hard now. Don't stop."
And then knocking…it sounded like someone knocking on his office door. He drew in his breath and then stopped breathing; I imagined him straining to listen.
"One second, hold on…" he whispers into my ear.
Where am I going to go?
"Yes?" He says, over the sound of rustling to someone else, the mouthpiece of his phone held away from his mouth.
"I'm sorry, hang on…" into the phone, into my ear, more softly.
As always, I held on. I waited once again for this man I have wanted and needed so badly.
"It's okay, yes, I'll wrap up soon," he said to someone. More murmuring passed back and forth between Edward and someone else, but I couldn't make out who it was.
There was a long pause, more rustling. I felt chilled, the pressing urge to come gone, fleeing along with my body's heat.
"I'm sorry, babe, it was a new security guy making the rounds. I wanted to chew him out but I can't. He's doing what I'm paying him to do, you know?"
"Yeah." I couldn't help but sigh, and I regretted it instantly.
"How can I make it up to you? You were here so late already, it's later now, and I know this must have killed the mood."
"It's okay, phone-us interruptus is always a risk with phone sex. It's probably for the best anyhow, given how late it is. You need to go home and get some rest. I know you've got a big day with an early start tomorrow."
It was his turn to sigh in frustration. He said nothing for nearly a minute. His mind must have been racing like mine was, chasing recriminations and could-haves-should-haves.
"I can't take this anymore, Bella. I already feel so trapped, and I feel worse when I leave you in the lurch like this. You deserve so much better. I can only beg your patience." His voice was tight with frustration.
"Really, it's okay. I'm a big girl, I know what you're up against. What we're up against."
"Thank you, love."
We're reduced to listening to each other breathe. All we have, quite literally, is nebulous, like air.
"I'd better let you go so you can get home. You still need to get ready for tomorrow and you need some sleep."
"Yes. I can't wait to see you in the morning. Everything will go fine if you're there with me at my side."
Like so many evenings before, I'd put on my pajamas, went to the bathroom and brushed my teeth.
I'd checked the door, the lights, and my cat.
And then I crawled into bed—alone.
~ 0 ~ 0 ~ 0 ~In the morning as I fought with my now-broken coffee maker, I recalled fragments of an unsettling nightmare featuring jammed copiers, blue-screen-of-death'd laptops, stymied words, and unanswered phone calls.
The accumulation of annoyance and dissatisfaction followed me like a thick vapor trail all the way to the office.
I'm so fucked, I thought as I prepared once again for a day filled with unrelenting frustration.
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