Love in the Moment, a short story collection

One moment she dared. Stepped outside of yesterday and tomorrow. Took what she wanted even if she didn’t want to want it.

Love in the Moment gathers eight stories of those moments, when a stranger’s smile and a glint in his eye speak to a previously undiscovered part of the soul, when each second ticks past with the wealth of a thousand years.

“Encounter at the Elevator”

I tell myself no. No, Keri Majors, no, no, no. A chorus of reasons scroll in my head—that I don’t know him, that we are standing in a hotel hallway waiting for an elevator. Anyone could walk up. Additional major point: accosting a stranger simply isn’t something I do.

Still, he’s damn fine and my body is going crazy thinking about how fabulous it would feel to be up against him.  

I argue with myself. God, what else is there to do? This elevator is taking forever.

He’s not my type. I go for the slightly shorter, less sinewy man whereas this guy looms several inches taller with an almost lanky yet muscular frame. My tastes range from blond and blue-eyed to dark and dangerous. I’ve never given much consideration to men with light brown hair and eyes that are—what, amber? I steal another glance.

Damn. He notices my brief examination. One of his eyebrows rises slightly, asking. Maybe a little amused, judging by that slight curve at the corner of his mouth. Oh God, that mouth. I quickly look down and break out in a little sweat. Damn damn damn.

The handle of my heavy briefcase itches against my sweaty palm. I could assign this momentary insanity to fatigue. Like all such conferences, this one turned into a three-day blur of classes on everything from specialty cost coding and catastrophe adjustment to the latest on defining a collapse under a property insurance policy. I’m past ready for home, a long hot soak in my tub and a mindless couch session with a bottle of wine and my cat Winston at my fingertips.

But this guy. My body responds to his attention. There’s this nonstop urge, whatever recess of hell it springs from, that causes my thighs to clench. I lick my lips, hoping my libido will tuck its tail and slink away. Maybe if I give myself a few more minutes and a couple of deep breaths…

What the hell is up with this elevator? I check my watch. It’s been two minutes.

Deep breaths? Nope. Not working. He’s still there exuding male hormones that my body seems programmed to read. Jesus, how does anyone exude such powerful sensuality?

Is he watching me? I can’t avoid another furtive glance. His lips fascinate me, halfway between full and thin, sensual with a little flare at the bow and now curling upwards at the corners. Because he sees me looking. God, I am lame.

Tan and weathered skin, prominent cheekbones and a bold jaw. Straight nose. I can’t look again to really examine the color of his eyes, but I feel them on me. Oh and his throat, which happens to be directly in my line of vision—its intriguing cords and hollows disappear into the open collar of his white shirt.

I can almost taste the salt on his skin. Feel the pulse in his throat against my lips. My mouth waters.

I realize now I’ve seen him around the hotel, once passing along the corridor when I arrived for the first day of the conference, another time on the other side of the cocktail lounge where I hid at a dark corner table and sipped my wine. He’s been alone each time. Obviously I noticed. Actually fantasized that he would appear at my table and I would allow him to join me and we would sit smiling in the dim light to pursue witty conversation with just enough innuendo. I refused to imagine what would happen afterwards, but I dreamed about him that night and woke up wet.

What the hell is wrong with me? I’ve been around. Mild wear and tear, enough to consider any potential hook-up through slightly jaded eyes. No big hope left that some special ‘one’ lurks out there for me.

Now this? I want to slap myself for being ridiculous.

But, damn, here I am at the elevator with my body disconnected from my brain and doing what it pleases no matter what I think or what kind of rules I’ve sworn to live by. I’m so wet.

Fucking elevator. I briefly consider taking the stairs, but this is like the eleventh floor and I don’t have a death wish. Maybe if the place was on fire, I go down eleven flights of stairs.

Shouldn’t I be thinking about the conference, all the new stuff I’ve learned, how to apply it to make more money? A new list is what I need, reminders to publish notice of my new training, maybe offer a workshop, stuff like that. What the fuck ever. I care nothing about my career right now.

I check my watch and think maybe it’s not working. I’ve got plenty of time to catch my flight. It’s not like I’m going to miss it.

Maybe it’s that we’re both leaving and I’ll never see him again. Really, it isn’t a choice I make. I’m standing here with my briefcase gripped in my hand and a garment bag slung over my arm, my other hand seized on the handle of my wheeled travel case so tight my knuckles ache. Hands sweating. Knees trembling. Wanting a stranger so much I’m about to embarrass myself in public.

He’s standing a couple of feet away, really kind of edging into my personal space. He’s looking up to watch the elevator numbers frozen on floor twenty. He too has a garment bag over one arm and his travel case handle in his other hand, looking so incredibly fabulous in that simple white dress shirt with the sleeves rolled halfway up those tan sinewy forearms and wearing khaki slacks that look a little wrinkled. I even check out his shoes, expensive cordovan loafers, winey brown color, well-polished and clearly loved.

I almost hear the switch flip in my head. Brain clicks off. Instinct takes over.

I turn into him holding my gear on either side of me, planting my forehead against his collar bone. Well, his white shirt. There.

Neither of us says a word. He accommodates me by holding his luggage away from his body, welcoming me to his chest. His lovely wide warm chest so hard with muscle it takes my breath. I register on his amusement, his welcome. As if we have known each other forever and this is going home.

I nestle my full length against him like I could climb into him. My lips brush against his neck, and oh god he feels so good – the smooth skin with his slightly rough beard shadow, the warmth, the beat of his pulse. At every point of contact, which actually is the entire front of me, he feels like every erotic fantasy and wet dream I’ve ever had. The strength of his thighs, the solid press of his loins and yes, his obvious arousal — oh my. His neck—Jesus Christ, he is chocolate and musky wine and that skin, that soft velvet flesh that has served its time in the sun, warm and strong and scented with a heavenly fragrance of aftershave and soap and him.

My lips savor him in that brief moment as I nuzzle. I can’t help myself. He’s right there against me, holding his own, not backing away. My lips brush along the column of his neck as if he is my last sip of water in a searing desert. In these few seconds—minutes?—that I stand there pressed against him, I have no sense of shame, no regret, no worry, no question. My mind stands still. I want never to move.

Millennia exist between us, former lives, lost memories. A tremor passes through him. Or maybe it’s me. We know each other. Nights we have held each other. The touch of his lips against mine. Joys and agonies, the raw force of life energy surging through us, time after time.

All that could ever be exists again in this moment, in us. Children. Stormy nights wrapped in his arms, soup bubbling on the stove. Old age bestowed gently as we held hands.

And then it ends. I try to adjust, accept that it’s ending. Maybe it’s the elevator. A musical ‘ding’ and we move apart. I’m in agony.

On the way down, I fight to overcome the searing embarrassment of what I’ve done. That’s what I’m supposed to feel. The rules of engagement. One minute I’m in full body contact with a man I don’t know, oblivious to anything but him, and the next minute we’re on opposite sides of the elevator with a crowd of people between us including two kids and a dog.

The elevator reaches the lobby. People file out and I don’t dare look up. I’m back in the rule book, mildly heartbroken, shaken. Wondering as I start toward the door to hail a taxi.

He’s standing there in the lobby, waiting for me as if we’d made a plan, a promise. My heart lunges against my ribs. Had we? Can it be that simple? Is this what we promised in a previous lifetime?

I pause. Will he say ‘Wait’? Touch my arm, smile, introduce himself?

No. He doesn’t move. Isn’t waiting for me. A hole expands inside me.

The doorman opens the door and I walk outside. Bright sunlight hurts my eyes. Another doorman glances my way, extends his arm to hail a taxi, and a yellow cab zooms to a stop in front of me.

Is this it? I’m heartbroken, energy draining from my body. Of course it’s been a long conference and too many brief meaningless chats with people I should remember, industry contacts and all that, but I never will remember them. I relinquish my bags to the cabbie, step toward the curb.

“Wait!”

I hear his voice. I know it’s him. Is it?

I turn, slow motion as my brain tries to process. He’s standing there then striding toward me.

“Hey,” he says, stopping in front of me, his breath heavy like he’s been running. “Got time for a cup of coffee?”

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