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The entire Incubus Among Us series in one complete package!Elizabeth Monroe has a normal life that had her aching for more, but she gets more than she asked for when she meets a handsome stranger one dark and snowy night. Now she can’t get rid of him, and to make matters worse he’s planning on changing her into a creature of lust and desire. She must find a way out of his love and out of the transformation before her urges consume her.
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Copyright © 2017 by Mac Flynn
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Incubus Among Us #1
Incubus Among Us #2
Incubus Among Us #3
Incubus Among Us #4
Incubus Among Us #5
Continue the adventure
Other series by Mac Flynn
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 advisedher.
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 adate.”
I blinked at her. “Really?”
Ann scowled at me and put her hands on her hips. “What’s so unbelievable aboutthat?”
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 aguy.”
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 amate.”
“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, prettymuch.”
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 youknow?”
“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 toldher.
“Bummer. Want me to go as your date?” she suggested.
I snorted. “Don’t temptme.”
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 theboys.”
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 likethat?”
“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 forit.”
“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 ofmilk.”
I sighed. “All right, but no late night. I’ve still got two more days of work to get through.”
It was midnight when I found myself at a corner table ignoring the blaring music and dark lighting of one of our favorite joints. I sat with my head nestled in one hand and my other hand toying with the tiny umbrella of my untouched milk drink. Tiffany stumbled off the dance floor exhausted from her thirteenth dance session and slid into the booth seat besideme.
“Having fun?” she yelled above the music.
I shrugged. “Yeah, I guess so,” I replied.
“What?” she shouted.
I rolled my eyes and dropped my hand from my head. “I said I’m okay, but could we go home?” I yelled.
“Home? Why? It’s not even eleven!” she argued.
“It’s midnight, and I’m kind of tired!” I toldher.
She glanced at her watch and her eyes widened. “Wow, did you know it was midnight?”
I grabbed her arm and pulled her from the booth. “Time to gohome.”
“All right, all right! Walk or taxi?” she askedme.
My eardrums, vocal chords and various other parts of my sensitive body were glad to be out of that place. We stepped out into the dark, quiet night, or as dark and quiet as a night could be in a city with bright lights and millions of people. Long lines of the masses stood outside the doors waited for a chance to become part of the maximum occupancy group inside the club. I was glad when our steps took us far from the yelling, arguing, laughing, and jeering of the nightlife and into the quieter residential neighborhoods, one of which was where our apartment building was located.
I trudged down the sidewalk with Tiffany at my side and kicked the occasional tin can down the cracked sidewalk. Un-shoveled snow crunched beneath our feet and little puffs of air flew from our mouths. To my right was the road, and to my left was Tiffany and townhouses mixes with old apartment buildings. Between the buildings were long, narrow, dark alleys filled with trash cans and rats the size of the mangy cats that hunted them. The streetlights lit our way and cast our shadows beneath and behindus.
“You’re really quiet tonight. Still upset about that party?” Tiffany wondered.
I shrugged. “Yeah, and I guess I’ve just been thinking about a lot of other stuff,” I toldher.
“About life. I just wonder if there’s something more than this for us,” I replied.
“Probably. There could be some guy out there just waiting to take one of us in his arms and tell us how much he needs us, or maybe there’s a lotto ticket with our names and the winning numbers somewhere,” she suggested. “The only problem is we have to go out there and findit.”
“Can’t a guy just come swooning into my arms and-” At that moment the silence of our night walk was interrupted by a black Buick that careened down the road towardus.
The passenger-side wheels jumped over the curb and nearly ran me down. I jumped to the side and knocked into Tiffany, who caught me in her arms before I fell to the hard sidewalk. The car didn’t seem to notice us as it sped off down theroad.
“God damn crazy drivers!” I yelled.
Above me Tiffany laughed. “Liz, I don’t think you qualify as my swooning man,” she teased.
I rolled my eyes and straightened. “Damn crazy drivers. The least they could do is wait until after Christmas before killing someone.”
“They seemed pretty mad at you. You sure you didn’t steal somebody’s boyfriend away from them?” Tiffany wondered.
I snorted. “As if I could get any man to look at me, but let’s get home before another driver decides I’m a turnlane.”
“I guess, but you’re not going to bed at this early hour, are you? You could go to my place and we could have a few more drinks and bemoan our jobs,” Tiffany suggested.
I shrugged. “Why not? What’s the fun of facing Thursday morning work without a hangover to distract me?” I mused.
Tiffany smiled, patted me on the back, and we walked on our way to home. “That’s the spirit!”
“Speaking of spirits, what does your selection-” Once again our conversation was interrupted, but not by a homicidal maniac in a fancy car. No, this was the sound of something much more human, or so I thought at the time. It was a deep, pain-filled groan. Tiffany and I froze, and our eyes swept over the area. An alley lay to our left. The noise came from there.
Tiffany jumped behind me and grasped my shoulders. Her voice shook like my knees. “W-what was t-that?” she whispered.
“I-I don’t know, but we should probably check it out,” I suggested.
“Oh hell no. What if it’s some serial killer recently broken out of prison who’s shot full of holes and is in need of medical attention?” she pointedout.
I rolled my eyes and shrugged off her hands. “If it is then we can kick him in the bullet-holes andrun.”
“Let’s let somebody else kick him in the bullet-holes and get home,” she suggested.
“I’ll go check it out, and if you hear me screaming you’ll know it’s a serial killer,” I told her as I slunk toward the opening to the alley.
“Be careful!” Tiffany yelled to me, but she didn’t follow.
I grasped the edge of the brick building on one side of the alley and peeked around the corner. The light from the streetlights barely reached a yard into the alley, but I was able to make out some dumpsters and broken boxes with all the usual assortment of trash. The white snow was blemished by brown and yellow water. Something moved. I leaned forward and squinted. Something, or somebody, sat on the other side of one of those large dumpsters that sat twenty feet into the alley.
“Hello?” I called out. The thing beyond the dumpster stiffened and the groaning stopped. I cautiously stepped into the alley. “Are youokay?”
The person shifted and I heard the familiar groan. I moved closer and craned my neck to peer into the darkness. My eyes widened when I beheld a handsome young man of about thirty. He had short black hair and a perfect tan. His clothes were simple, a black dress shirt and pants. They were clean but for the muck on them, and I thought I saw some stains on the front of the shirt. Round stains like those made by the bullets of prison guardguns.
The man lay with his back against the brick building. His eyes were closed so hard his eyelids looked pinched. His white teeth stood out in the dark as he ground them together, and one of his hands clutched his chest and tried to cover the round stains.
I knelt three feet from him and looked him over for weapons. I didn’t see anything he’d stolen from the prison guards on his escape. “Are you okay?” I whispered to him. His eyes opened and I swear they were red. Not a Hell-fire red, but a red-silk kind of red, the kind that was soft to the touch and reminded you of two lovers pressed together on a bed beneath a blanket of roses-
Where the hell did that comparison come from? I’m not usually the romantic type, as shown by my lack of a boyfriend, but here were all these crazy, voluptuous ideas popping into my brain. The ideas popped out when he winced and closed hiseyes.
“I’m okay,” he replied. He didn’t sound okay. His voice was hoarse and he hissed through his ground teeth.
“Do you need a doctor? My friend and I could take you to the nearest hospital,” I offered.
He shook his head. “No, this isn’t permanent. I just-I just need a place to stay for the night,” he toldme.
I glanced around at the lovely mold and trash decor. “Well, I don’t really recommend the Alley Hotel, so why don’t you let me help you up and I can find a nice couch for you in my apartment building?”
His eyes opened, those beautiful blue-wait, blue? No more red? What did this guy have, multi-colored contacts? “You would do that for me?” he wondered.
I shrugged. “It’s Christmas, or almost, so why not? You need help, and I can offer it, so let’s get you up,” I insisted.
“Liz!” Tiffany called from the head of the alley.
I rolled my eyes and glanced over my shoulder at her. “I’m fine, but there’s a guy in here who needs ourhelp.”
Tiffany hesitantly stepped into the alley and over to me. She stayed in back of me and leaned over me to get a look at the man. “What’s wrong with him?” she askedme.
The man chuckled, and the sound wasn’t pleasant. It rattled in his chest and came out more bitter than amused. “I fell in with the wrong people,” he explained.
“So you got beat up pretty bad?” she guessed.
“You could say that,” he agreed.
“Well, beat up or shot we need to get you to our apartment. There’s a nice couch in the rec room you can use,” I offered.
With more strength than I would have guessed was in her Tiffany grabbed my shoulders, hefted me to my feet and dragged me to the opposite side of the dumpster. “Are you nuts? Why don’t we just dump him off at the hospital and get home?” she hissed.
“My being nuts is a matter of opinion, but right now we should just help him get some place warm. Then we can decide what to do,” I replied.
She gestured in the direction of the man. “Letting that dirty guy into our apartment building when we don’t even know who he is or what’s wrong withhim?”
“He’s not that dirty and his clothes are nice, so I think we can rule out the whole serial killer thing,” I pointedout.
“Have you ever seen American Psycho?” she askedme.
“I’m sure we’ll be safe as long as we don’t make better calling cards than him,” I quipped. I pushed past her and walked over to the man. “Come on, let’s get you up,” I told him. I grasped his arm and hefted him to his feet. He leaned against me and I was surprised how supple and warm his body felt after sitting on that hard, cold ground. I slung one of his arms over my shoulders. “It’s a couple of blocks to our apartment. Think you can make it?” I wondered.
“I think so,” he replied.
We shuffled out from behind the dumpster. Tiffany threw up her hands in despair, but marched over to us and slung his other arm over her shoulders. “If you want to get us killed then we may as well get to the apartment as quickly as possible and get it over with,” she commented.
I smiled. “Thanks,” I toldher.
“Don’t thank me yet. If he kills me I’m coming back to haunt you,” she warnedme.
We shuffled on our way with the stranger betweenus.
The remaining trip back to our apartment building took twice as long usual with our hefty load, and we reached home at thirty minutes after midnight. The greatest perk to living in the building was the rec room off to the left of the lobby. It had once been a parlor and waiting room for callers, but a couple of decades ago had been turned into a place of relaxation for the tenants. There was a pool table, a card table, and a couch-and-love seat area with a nice flat-screen TV. At this late hour there wasn’t anyone manning the front desk, so we hefted our load into the rec room and over to the couch.
Tiffany and I breathed a sigh of relief when we lowered him onto the cushions. He wasn’t bulky, but he wasn’t light, either. I looked down at him as he sat there and noticed the stains on the front of his shirt were gone. Maybe they’d never been there and had been a trick of the limited light in the alley.
For his part the guy also sighed and smiled up at us. His grin was dazzling in its beauty, and I needed to slap myself out of all these stupid wispy thoughts.
“I’m grateful for the kindness you’ve shown me,” he told us, but his eyes were onme.
Tiffany didn’t notice his look and shrugged. “No problem, but you’d better not try wandering around the building. The manager is a light sleeper and his room’s just behind the front desk,” she toldhim.
The man chuckled. “I’m sure he won’t hear me if I do decide to explore,” he assuredus.
Tiffany frowned and crossed her arms over her chest. “How about you just stay here and not make a sound? Otherwise you’re going to get us into a lot of trouble because we really shouldn’t have even brought you in here. Guests aren’t allowed in the rec room after ten,” she explained.
“I won’t be noticed,” he promised. He turned his full attention on me and I blushed. “I hope there’s some way I can repay your kindness.”
I waved aside his comment. “Don’t mention it,” I replied.
The stranger reached forward and grasped my hands in his own. His eyes looked into mine, and I swore they were red again. That soft, velvety red that reminded me of secret trysts in moonlit gardens. “Your modesty and purity compliment your beautiful face,” he whispered tome.
I blushed, hurriedly pulled my hands from his, and half turned from him. “T-thanks. Did you need anything else? A blanket or something?”
“This is fine. I’ve been in worse places,” he replied.
Tiffany glanced between us and frowned. “Good, now get some sleep because you have to leave before the manager gets up at five,” she spoke up. She grabbed my shoulders, spun me around to face the entrance to the rec room, and pushed me toward the exit. “Now if you don’t mind we need to get some sleep. We have a tough day at the office tomorrow.”
“Goodnight,” he called tous.
Tiffany shoved me out and toward the elevator. I wrenched myself from her grasp and spun around to glare at her. “What’s wrong with you? We didn’t have to leave so quickly,” I protested.
She scowled back at me. “Oh yes we did. He was making lovey eyes at you and you were falling for him,” she toldme.
I blushed and turned away from her. “I-I was not. I was just-well, I was just admiring his eyes,” I argued.
“Uh-huh, and my name is Bunny Snookums,” she retorted.
I snorted. “Your mom give you that name?” I teased.
Tiffany rolled her eyes and slammed her hand on the elevator button. “Seriously, Liz, that guy’s bad news. I’m getting some bad vibes off ofhim.”
“Bad vibes? Are you sure you’re not jealous he wasn’t looking at you?” I wondered.
Tiffany looked at me with such disgust and anger that I was cowed. “Fancy clothes or no fancy clothes, I don’t trust him. There’s something-I don’t know, something different about him,” she insisted. The elevator doors opened and we stepped inside.
“Different? That doesn’t exactly scream dangerous to me,” I replied.
Tiffany turned to me and clasped my hands in hers. She looked me straight in the eye and, for the first time in our long years of friendship, her face showed a seriousness and responsibility that frightened me. “Elizabeth, promise me you won’t see that guy again.”
I hung my head and nodded. “All right, I promise.”
Tiffany smiled and wrapped me in a hug. “Good, now let’s get some sleep. Who needs a hangover when we’re going to have sore muscles from dragging that stranger here?” she quipped.
I lifted my head and frowned. “You know, we never did get his name,” I pointedout.
“And he didn’t get ours, and that’s the way it’s going to stay, right?” she insisted.
“I know, a promise is a promise,” I returned.
The elevator arrived at our floor and we parted ways at our respective doors. “Now remember your promise,” Tiffany remindedme.
“Yes, Mom,” I called back as I stepped inside my home. The apartments in our building were small, but cozy. Each had one bedroom, a complete kitchen with a small dining area, and a living room. A small bathroom finished off the ensemble. I closed the door behind me, leaned against the entrance and sighed. Tiffany was right when she said we’d be sore from hefting that guy to the building. My shoulders were already complaining.
I shuffled to my bedroom, slipped into my long nightshirt, and dove beneath the covers of my queen-sized bed. I was known to toss and turn in my sleep so I made sure I couldn’t fall off by buying myself a large bed. The clock on my nightstand read twenty minutes till one. Late enough that I slipped into sleep the minute my head hit the pillow.
My dreaming didn’t last long, or did it? I wasn’t sure, but what I knew was that something forced me to open my eyes. The room was dark, much darker than I remembered. I glanced at the clock. Ten minutes until one. Just my luck to be asleep only ten minutes before something interrupted it. I looked around the room and I froze when my eyes fell on a shadow standing in the doorway. It was the shape of aman.
I sat up, but every instinct within me failed to force a scream from my throat. I was mesmerized by this person who stood in the doorway, a person with red-velvet eyes. The person stepped over to the bed and sat on the edge closest to me. I should have thrown the covers over their head and made a dash for the door, but those bright eyes held me in place. A warmth swept over me as my mind filled with images of tangled limbs among silken sheets, and my ears heard echoes of soft moans and sighs.
The person leaned close to me and I saw it was the stranger. “W-what are you doing in here?” I asked him. My voice sounded breathless, and I felt my heart beat quickly inside my chest. The man smiled and brushed aside the covers over my legs. His hand slid up my smooth, bare leg to my thigh. I bit my lip to keep back a shudder of ecstasy. “W-what are you doing?” I stuttered.
His hand ignored my question as it massaged my skin. He leaned his head toward me and his smooth voice broke the silence of the room. “I promised I would reward you for your kindness,” he whispered tome.
It took every ounce of my willpower to deny him as I pressed my back against the head of my bed. “N-not like this,” I breathed.
“Exactly like this,” he argued.
I gasped when his hot lips pressed against my neck. His touch enveloped my body in a warm blanket of dizzying lust. He wrapped his arm around my waist and lay me down on the covers. The remaining sheets were swept aside and he pressed me against the bed. I realized he was naked when his chest muscles brushed against my thin shirt. I should have been terrified, I should have screamed out in fright, but my head was swimming with hazy images of hands groping bare flesh.
I felt a deep, hot ache rise between my legs as his hand slipped up my long shirt. He pulled the flimsy cloth over my heaving breasts and bared them to the darkness of the room. His hand grasped one of my mounds of flesh, and massaged and squeezed it. His teasing touches made me squirm and groan, but he pinned me to the bed with his own body. I was trapped, but it only excited me. He pulled my shirt over my head and I lay naked beneath him as he positioned himself between my legs. His lips caught my sensitive nubs in his hot, wet mouth and he suckled me as a babe. I gasped and clutched his head as my body tingled with sensual vibrations.
He lifted his head and slid further up my body. His stiff, large member pressed against my opening. I instinctively opened my legs wider and he pushed himself inside. This wasn’t my first time, I was no virgin, but oh god I’d never felt so fulfilled as I did with him. He filled me with more than just himself. I felt complete, as though him being inside of me was all I ever needed. We were one; one body, one mind, one soul, all locked in this lustful act of carnal communion. He pressed slowly against my quivering muscles, and each thrust brought a wave of pleasure the rippled through my body. I clutched onto him, unaware of everything but the feel of him penetrating me again and again. The lust nearly drove me mad. I needed release.
“Please,” I moaned.
He raised his eyes and those red eyes blazed with his lust. His voice was hoarse and strained. “Please what?” he askedme.
“Please release me. I-I can’t take it anymore,” I begged.
He shuddered and I felt the vibration through our union. “As you wish,” he replied.
My lover pressed me to the bed again and thrust harder and faster into me. I clutched onto him and whipped my head to and fro. Every push and pull drove my senses mad with a desire I couldn’t control. My lust-filled mind focused only on the completion to this pleasure, the promise of carnal satisfaction. My moans grew louder even as I gasped for breath. My muscles tightened and strained to near the breaking point. All I could see was a bright light, all I could feel was him against me, inside ofme.
“Yes! Yes!” I cried to the darkroom.
My lover grunted and pushed harder, spilling me over into the abyss of pleasure. I thrashed and shrieked, unable to contain the creature of lust inside me. My world exploded into one filled with sensual delights that I could never have imagined and never wanted to leave. I wanted to remain forever in the strong arms of my lover.
But all good things come to an end, and that wonderful dream was no exception. My end came with the incessant beeping of an alarm. I sat up and my eyes swept around the room looking for my lover. There was nobody. I was alone except for the bouncing, blaring machine on my nightstand. I slammed my hand on the button and the alarm silenced.
Time to get up for work, but all I wanted to do was sit there and hold on to the memories of that sensual dream. It had felt so real, so magnificent. His arms wrapped around me, the feel of him inside me. I glanced down at myself and saw my shirt was bunched up over my breasts. There was a distinct wetness between my legs to remind me how sweet was the dream. Then the little voice in my head reminded me that nothing that extraordinary would never happen to me. I needed to forget it and move on with mylife.
I glanced at the clock and my eyes widened. I’d sat there daydreaming for half an hour. I was going to be late forwork.
I jumped out of bed and raced through my usual routine. Shower, dress, feed myself, then the race down the stairs because the elevator was taken by the overweight people on the upper floors. The apartment building had its own small parking lot nearby. The prices were so high I had to sign over my first-born to rent a spot, but the joke was on them because I never expected to have a child. I drove to work, strategically breaking the speeding limit where I knew I wouldn’t be caught, and arrived at the forest of cubicles a full minute before the clock strucktime.
Unfortunately, Lenin’s watch ran fast and when I reached my cubicle I found him waiting there for me with one foot tapping the ground. “You’re late,” he commented. He ruled it with an iron fist as efficiently as any Third-World dictator.
“I’m sorry, I-”
“Don’t give me excuses, give me results. I want the documents for the coming board meeting on my desk in an hour,” he snapped.
“Yes, Mr. Lenin,” I replied. Emphasis on the Gulag.
He marched off and I dropped into my chair with a sigh. I hated my life, and I really hated dealing with jerks like Lennon. Why couldn’t more people be as grateful as that one guy I picked up last-oh crap. I straightened and my eyes widened. I forgot to check to see if that guy was still in the rec room. Hell, I didn’t even know if the guy was alive, much less still in the building. Maybe he’d been hurt worse than we thought and lay dead on the couch aspiring to be mulch.
I anxiously awaited the lunch hour, all the while glancing at my phone on my desk wondering if at any moment the apartment manager would ring me up and tell me to get my things packed because I’d broken the rules by letting a stranger into not only the apartment building, but into the rec room. The call never came, and at noon I rushed from the office to my apartment building. I ran into Tiffany in the lobby.
“What are you doing here?” she asked me. Her workplace was only a few blocks away from our building while I had the ten-block drive, so she always came back for food and I rarelydid.
I glanced at the front desk. The apartment manager sat behind us with his eyes on a newspaper, but I suspected his attention was on us. My eyes flickered to the rec room doors and back to Tiffany. My voice was a little more high-pitched than was usual for me. “I forgot something.”
Her eyes widened and she whipped her head to face the rec room. “The-” I jumped forward and clapped my hand over her mouth.
Ackerman looked up from his paper. “No rough-housing in the lobby,” he scolded us like we were two kids about to have a tussle on the hard linoleum floor.
“Um, sorry,” I apologized. I dragged Tiffany over to the rec entrance and into the room. Once safely inside I released her and we both looked to the couch. Empty. Not even an imprint of a body. I was both relieved and disappointed. There went the object of my wet dreams.
Tiffany was only relieved. “He must have snuck out of here before Ackerman woke up. That makes a lot less trouble for us,” she commented.
My shoulders slumped. “Yeah, a lot less trouble,” I repeated with a lot less enthusiasm.
My friend glared at me. “He was bad news,” she insisted.
I shrugged. “I still don’t see what was so wrong abouthim.”
“Then you’re lucky because he gave off creepy enough vibes to chill me all night. I could barely sleep,” she toldme.
The topic of sleeping, or lack thereof in my case, wasn’t what I wanted to talk about. “Well, creepy or not he’s gone, so I’ll just get some food and get back to work.” My voice sounded as dreary as a funeral on a rainy day in a depressing graveyard.
Tiffany grabbed my shoulders and gave me a shake. “How about you and I go out tonight? Maybe we can pick you up a guy that doesn’t scare me,” she suggested.
I shook my head. “Nah, I think I’ll just stay in tonight and read abook.”
My friend rolled her eyes. “And that’s why neither of us will ever find the right guy,” she mused.
My stomach grumbled and time ticked on. “I’ll see you later,” I told her, and hurried to appease my appetite, but not my heavy heart.
As I drove back to work I pondered my melancholy mood. Why was I so sad over some strange guy falling into my life and slipping out of it just as quickly? It wasn’t like he was the one who I’d made love to last night. That was all a figment of my overly stimulated imagination, with a little help from his beautiful, gorgeouseyes.
“Get a hold of yourself, Liz,” I scolded myself. “It’s not like he’s coming back into yourlife.”
On that cheerful thought I returned to my cheerful job and sloshed through my cheerful work until I was all cheered out. The five o’clock call to evacuate came and I was swept into the stampede that rushed out the door. I made it back to my apartment building and was ambushed by Tiffany on our floor.
“Boo!” she cried out when I reached our floor.
I blinked at her. “How many times did you have to do that before I came?” I askedher.
Tiffany shrugged, but her impish grin warned me she was going to be modest about the number. “Just once on Ackerman, but it was worth the wait to see a smile on your face.” She pulled me out of the elevator and stretched my cheeks so I smiled. “See? You already look better,” she teased.
I pushed away her hands and sighed. “I’m not really in the mood,” I toldher.
Tiffany frowned. “It’s that guy again, isn’t it? You didn’t go see him behind my back, didyou?”
I rolled my eyes. “How can I see him when I don’t even know where he lives? Hell, I don’t even know his name,” I remindedher.
Tiffany craned her neck toward me and rubbed her chin. “I don’t know, you’re pretty sneaky,” she commented. She pulled back and the mischievous light was extinguished and exchanged for a curious expression. “You know, now that I think of it you do kind of remind me of thatguy.”
“How?” I askedher.
She shrugged. “I don’t know, just something about you. Like you’re from another world or something.” She grinned and wagged her eyebrows. “That’s probably what attracted me to you. You’re so moody, mysterious, and-”
“-tired. I could use a really long nap after last night,” I toldher.
She frowned again. “What was wrong with last night? We’ve stayed up that late lots of times.”
The color drained from my face. “Um, well, it was a really heavy job dragging him here and, well, I’m still a little sore,” I told her. The truth was my dream had left me with some sapped energy, or maybe I was lying to myself and wishing to get to bed to see if I could replace the dream.
“Oh, yeah, that. He was pretty heavy. Even my shoulders are sore,” Tiffany agreed as she rubbed one shoulder. “Anyway, how about we hang out tomorrow? I could take us to a new Italian restaurant I know of, my treat,” she offered.
“Yeah, sure, that sounds great,” I replied. Anything just to get to my apartment andrest.
She crossed her arms. “Don’t sound so excited, you’re embarrassing me,” she quipped.
I sighed and ran my hands through my medium-length brown hair. “Sorry, Italian sounds great. Whattime?”
“Dinner time, but I’ll wait for you at the bottom of the stairs when you get off to work in case you’re so lethargic you need someone to hold you up when you want to go up,” she teased.
I managed a smile. “Sounds great. See you tomorrow,” I toldher.
I hurried past her to the sanctuary of my apartment and breathed a sigh of relief when I closed the door behind myself. The calm, quiet serenity of my lonely apartment greeted me. I tossed my purse on the couch and glanced in the direction of the bedroom. I was overcome with an irresistible urge to see if there was someone waiting in there for me, and I practically ran into theroom.
Nothing. The room was dark and the bed lay empty. I hung my head and returned to the bright living room. Time to make dinner for myself and not think about dreams that weren’t going to cometrue.
Or so I thought.
I ate dinner, went to bed, and woke up the next morning with a more resigned attitude. If my fate was to be alone then I’d need to make the best of it, and that included not moping for the rest of my life. Moping just wasn’t my style, and it made my back hurt from being so droopy. I drove to work and arrived with plenty of time to spare. My cubicle awaited me. I plopped down in my chair and turned on the power to the tower, but was slow on the dark screen. I reached out for the power button and pressed it in just as I saw the face of the stranger reflected in the screen just over my shoulder.
I swung around, but I was alone. I swiveled again and stared at my computer. The screen was on now, but I swore I saw his face in the machine.
I clutched my head in my hand and sighed. “Don’t start hallucinating now,” I scolded myself.
“What was that?” came the unwelcome voice of my boss. I swiveled around to find Lenin standing in the entrance with his cute eyebrows crashed down and his cold eyes narrowed.
“Um, just talking to myself,” I replied.
“About hallucinations?” he questionedme.
I sheepishly smiled and shrugged. “Just a trick of the screen,” I toldhim.
He wasn’t amused. “Do I need to remind you that any dangerous medical conditions not reported to the company could result in your removal from your position?” he askedme.
“No, sir, but I was just joking with myself,” I insisted.
“Then keep those kind of jokes to yourself and get to work,” he orderedme.
“Yes, sir,” I replied, and he marched off to harass somebodyelse.
When he left I stuck my tongue out at his empty spot and turned back to the screen. There was still the same old desktop still waiting for me to get to work. Ah, the drudgeries of a paycheck. My only consolation was it was Friday and Tiffany had promised me that dinner tonight.
The phantom taste of Italian in my mouth got me through most of the day. At mid-afternoon I was visited not by three spirits, but by a spirited young lad of eighteen with a smile so bright and a face so handsome I wondered how he avoided all the cougars in the office.
“Hi, Liz,” he greetedme.
“Hey, Johnny,” I replied. Johnny was his name, and his game was go-fer for our floor. If there was a menial task to be done he was the guy to get it done. We ran him as hard as a rental car, but he kept that smile on his face and that adorable innocence in his heart.
“Mr. Lennon asked me to pick up some documents from you. Are they done?” he wondered. He was probably the only one to call our box by his real lastname.
I nodded at a stack of papers on my desk to my left. “Knock yourselfout.”
He smiled. “I’ll try not to.” He picked up the pile and hurried out of there.
I smiled and shook my head. Poor kid, he’d someday learn that all his hurrying would only give him sore feet. I returned to my work a little bit more chipper.
Twenty minutes after five found me in the lobby of my apartment building. I recalled Tiffany’s promise to meet me at the elevator on our floor, and decided to have some fun with her. I took the stairs and as I approached our floor I slunk toward the door and landing leading to my stop. If I timed this right I could sneak up behind Tiffany and turn the tables on her little spookjoke.
However, I was the one still in for a scare, and it happened on the landing. The stairs were built so they weaved a tight, looping square up the building with each floor having a landing and a door for emergency exits or, in my case, to cause mischief. As I rounded the corner and garnered a view of the landing to my floor I glimpsed a shadow on the wall beside the doorway. The way the shadow was positioned the person must have been standing on the turn above my head and to the right. I froze, fearful Ackerman was doing his rounds of the fire escape stairs. It wasn’t against the rules to use them, but I was sure he’d see my purpose was for mischief rather than convenience. Grumpy old men had a way of seeing fun and ruiningit.
I paused on the stairs and hunkered down. The shadow didn’t move, but there was no way they couldn’t have heard my footsteps on these hard, echoing stairs. The landing and doorway were only five yards off, but I waited for them to move up or down to decide my plan of action. The shadow seemed to turn to me so it was a silhouette, and I saw it was the outline of a man. The silhouette seemed to stare down at me for a few moments before it shrank into thewall.
My blood ran cold as two problems were presented to me. The first was the person’s feet made no noise as they retreated, but even a mouse would make a noise on those steps. The second was that the shadow really did seem to shrink into the wall, as in get smaller and smaller until it disappeared into some invisible hole between dimensions. I was entranced by the disappearance and slowly walked up the stairs with my eyes firmly on the spot where I’d last seen the shadow.
I reached the landing and the wall, and cautiously pressed my hand against the spot. Nothing. It was as solid as anything else in this old place. I glanced behind me at the stairs that led to the next floor. Nobody there, and I didn’t hear any footsteps. It was as if the shadow had been the only thing that existed, and then it decided to slip into nothingness. I wrapped my arms around myself as that idea left a chill overme.
I screamed. It was a nice, loud, clear scream that reverberated up and down the stairwell, and maybe into the old copper pipes. I spun around and found Tiffany standing behind me with her hands pinned to herears.
“Don’t do that!” I scoldedher.
She snickered. “Sorry, I didn’t know you were that into the wall. What were you staring at?” she askedme.
“I just thought I saw somebody,” I toldher.
Her eyes flickered between me and said wall. “On the wall?” she wondered.
“On the stairs, and I was just, well, I was just looking at the wall when you snuck in,” I explained.
She raised an eyebrow. “Uh-huh, and while you were looking at that you totally missed the creaky door opening like it was a thousand years old and my loud footsteps?” she argued.
I shrugged. “It was an interesting shadow,” I defended myself.
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