One night can change your life. For Elizabeth Monroe that night encompassed a chance meeting with a handsome, alluring stranger. Her little act of kindness towards him unleashes deliciously sensual consequences that leave her breathless. Every fiber in her body demands she succumb to his advances, but as she learns his true nature she realizes her very soul may be in danger.
One night can change your life. I know one did for me. But before there’s a night, there has to be a day. For me that day was Hump Day, the most dreaded day of the week. Other people called it Wednesday, but for those of us in my office building it was Hump Day, the day we needed to overcome before the slide into the weekend.
My story starts in the early morning of that day. I shuffled into my cubicle in my little corner of our floor and my friend in the office, Ann, shuffled by. Her eyes were as bleary as mine and her mouth was slightly ajar. She paused at the entrance to my small domain and turned to me. “‘morning, Liz” she groaned. That was my name, or rather the short form. Elizabeth Monroe, boring office girl extraordinaire.
I face-planted into my desk and sighed. “Don’t remind me,” I muttered.
Ann leaned her shoulder against my doorway as much to be comfortable as keep herself from falling over. "
You ever wonder if somebody enjoys Wednesdays?"
“If they do it’s because they like watching people suffer,” I replied.
“What are you two doing?” Speaking of suffering and enjoying it, up came our resident floor manager, Mr. Vance Lennon. He was proof that a cute boss didn’t always mean he was nice. On the contrary, his boyish good looks with his short brown hair, impeccable suit, and slim physique couldn’t hide his cold blue eyes. Those same eyes looked at us with disdain and irritation. Most people dropped the second ‘n’ in his last name and replaced the ‘o’ with an ‘i.’
Ann straightened and nearly toppled over. “We were, uh-”
“Comparing printers, Mr. Lenin,” I spoke up. No one could tell the difference in the pronunciation. “We wanted to see if we could save the company ten dollars a year by switching because Ann likes to use landscape and I like the usual format.”
Lennon’s narrowed eyes flickered between us. “Well, make your decision and get back to work.” He stalked off to harass our fellow workers.
Ann scowled at his back and jerked a thumb at him. “What crawls up his ass every morning?”
“I’d rather not wonder about his lifestyle choices and I really can’t afford to lose my job, so we’d better finish our ‘printer comparisons’ and get to work,” I advised her.
Ann shrugged. “All right, but I just wanted to know what you were doing about the Party-That-Isn’t-A-Christmas-Party that’s coming up in a few weeks.”
I raised an eyebrow at her. “The same thing we do every year, Pinky. Try to take over the wall and slink out of there as soon as the boss isn’t looking.”
She cringed. “Actually, I kind-of-sort-of found a date.”
I blinked at her. “Really?”
Ann scowled at me and put her hands on her hips. “What’s so unbelievable about that?”
I raised my hand and counted down my five fingers. “Well, neither of us have found a date in three years, I didn’t know you were looking, you never told me about the guy, and I didn’t think you’d ditch me and that lovely wall for a guy.”
She snorted. “Yeah, that eggshell-white is really fascinating, but yes, I did find a guy, and I didn’t tell you about it because I didn’t think it was serious until he asked me out for a third date last night.”
“So you don’t think it’s serious until it’s the third date?” I guessed.
“Do you?” she countered.
I shrugged. “I don’t really have much experience with that whole ‘date’ thing that civilization believes is necessary to find a mate.”
“Which translates to you don’t have much experience dating guys, and we both know it,” Ann replied.
I mused over her words for a whole two seconds before I nodded. “Yeah, pretty much.”
She rolled her eyes, leaned over to pat me on the shoulder and waved goodbye to me. “I’ll talk to you later about it.” She left, and I was left with a very unpleasant Non-Denominational Festive Almost End of the Year Party.
Every year since I’d joined the company the party was the same. Ann and I were stuck holding up the wall while our fellow coworkers with significant or insignificant others would dance the night away. For our company and fellow coworkers the season was a time not of caring and giving, but of jealousy and showing-off. Now things were made all the worse because of my friend’s bettering of her relationship position.
Don’t get me wrong, I was happy she’d found someone. She deserved happiness. Ann was nice, friendly and kind, and the guy was probably the same. No, what got my goat was that stupid party. I wanted to escape it, but attendance, while not mandatory, was definitely encouraged. As in, you’d get a few marks down on your record if you didn’t show up with a bright, chipper face and shake the hands of all the bosses and coworkers who, on any other night, you’d rather sock. A cheery occasion, indeed. Now I was left alone to fend for myself in the wilds of the wall. It would be both embarrassing and lonely.
Those thoughts and emotions haunted me the rest of the day. Ann didn’t return to continue our chat and when five o’clock came around I joined the herd toward the elevators. At the parking garage beneath our ten-story building I got into my old car and puttered my way to my apartment. It was a clean building ten blocks from work. Too far to walk but close enough to mock me. The building was a wide, twenty-floor brick structure built in the forties, but renovated over the years to keep the place up to code. There was the usual ground-floor, linoleum-covered lobby with a check-in desk on the right and an elevator at the back wall. The stairs lay to the left of the elevator.
I parked on the street and walked up the stoop to our sturdy door. A light snow dusted the railing of the stoop and icicles hung from the eaves overhead. Puffs of air escaped my mouth as I buried my face in my purse looking for that blasted key in the bowels of that accessory.
Something jingled in my face. I glanced up and saw my neighbor and out-of-office best friend, Tiffany. She stood beside me with her apartment building key in her hand. “Long day?” she guessed.
My shoulders slumped. “Ugh, how did you know?”
“You’re never able to find your keys on the long days,” she explained. She unlocked the door and we clomped our way into the small foyer. “So what happened today?”
“Ann got a boyfriend and I’m the only one who’s going to hold up the wall for that stupid party,” I told her.
“Bummer. Want me to go as your date?” she suggested.
I snorted. “Don’t tempt me.”
She leaned close to me and lowered her voice. “Tempt. Tempt,” she chanted.
I pushed her away and we climbed the stairs side-by-side. The elevator was out-of-order half the time and crowded the other half, so we usually went up the stairs. “It’d be tempting if I swung that way or wanted people to believe I swung that way, but I’d rather not scare off the boys.”
She sighed and shook her head. “I think the problem is all the guys around us are boys. You think there are any men left in the world?”
“Ann probably caught the last one.” We reached our floor, the third, and walked down the right side of the hall toward our doors. Our places shared a wall, and I stopped in front of my door that was farther down the hall than hers. “Maybe I can hire a guy for a few hours. Know a service like that?”
“Yeah, but the guy might not come with any clothes,” she replied.
I rolled my eyes. “If I do anything stupid at the party I need to make sure I at least don’t get fired for it.”
“Well, how about we think up a few ideas over a few drinks?” she suggested.
My shoulders slumped and I turned my gaze from her. “You know I don’t like alcohol.”
Tiffany wrapped her arm around my shoulders and grinned. “Then we can discuss your current lack of relationship over a glass of beer and a cup of milk.”
I sighed. “All right, but no late night. I’ve still got two more days of work to get through.”