The elevator was too damn small and hot, it was like a furnace in here. Sure, he’d pulled on every piece of clothing he had to hide himself from this woman but that didn’t explain why his body was burning up with something he had no right to feel. He wanted to push her up against that wall and kiss her properly. Kiss her until she surrendered to him and wrapped her long legs around his waist and rubbed herself against the hard length that was tenting out his suit pants. He thanked the cold weather again, this time for making it necessary to wear this coat.
He was angry with himself. Why had he kissed her in the first place? Yes, he wanted to get out of there, and yes, he’d disliked the way that the college prat had spoken to her, but did that warrant him breaking his golden rule? No. For all these years he’d stuck to his own rules. He’d been disciplined. And in that one moment, he’d thrown caution to the wind and kissed her. Shit. He’d meant to brush his lips across her cheek, he told himself now, but who was he fooling.
The look she gave him afterwards would stay with him for years to come. He’d stood there like a mute idiot and she’d looked at him with her wide trusting eyes that yearned for something that he couldn’t give her. He wanted to give it to her, slowly as he gradually introduced her to every inch of him until she encased the entirety of his length, but that wasn’t how the world worked. She needed a man who would deserve a look like that, he wasn’t that man.
And now she had to go and thank him? It took everything in his arsenal not to turn around and do something to deserve that gratitude. He dropped his head, cringed at the way that he was pressed against the zipper, wished there was some way he could adjust himself without it being obvious. He looked up to the slowly decreasing numbers above the door of the elevator and tried to think about something else. He needed to go home and break another one of his golden rules, unfortunately, this one involved a single-malt whisky rather than a long night of love-making.
Why wasn’t she talking? If she started jabbering on, asking questions and making noise that would distract him, annoy him, and make it easier to say good-night when this torturous elevator journey finished. But she stood there in silence and that silence was the most erotic thing she could do in this small space. Well, maybe not the most erotic thing she could do, his mind started to catalogue all the things she could do to him in the remaining minutes they had left.
The ding of the elevator startled him. He pulled his coat together ensuring that all evidence of the effect she was having on him was hidden. Then he used his hand to signal that she should precede him, it was manners, and gave him one last look at those long legs and sexy sway of her hips. The coat she wore was department store, thin, only down to mid-thigh, and had plastic buttons. He wasn’t complaining because it didn’t disrupt the view, but it did raise questions as to who she was and why she was there tonight.
When they got to the door he handed the doorman his parking token and turned to her. She was pulling on her gloves and adjusting her scarf, not searching for the plastic disc. Was she walking?
“Where?” he forced the word out.
She looked at him and blinked with the same wide eye expression that made his blood boil. Then she smiled with a sad look in her eyes, before she looked at the gold embossed glass entrance doors and into the night, leaving his question unanswered. He wished he had brought something to write on. His voice wasn’t cutting it. He wanted to communicate to her, to express himself, and the harsh noises he made weren’t going to make her want him.
She looked back as his car arrived. He’d brought the Audi R8, black and sleek, it waited outside. The doorman handed him the keys as they both stepped out onto the sidewalk.
“Thanks again,” she turned away from him.
“Where?” he said again, this time his hand caught her, stopping her from leaving him, “Your car?”
“The train station’s only a couple of blocks,” She turned and smiled at him, but her eyes remained sad she held out her gloved hand, “It was great meeting you.”
“No,” he said with too much effort. Then when her face dropped, he grimaced and tried again, “Get in, drive.”
“Oh, Josh,” she put up her hands in surrender, “I appreciate your help, but I can’t put you out. You’ve done enough. The next train won’t be long.” She looked at her watch.
“No,” he tried to make this ‘no’ softer but it wasn’t much better, “Please.”
She looked at him standing there with the passenger car door open and he could tell she was assessing her options. She shouldn’t get in this car with him. He shouldn’t be offering. He had the perfect opportunity to get away and here he was opening his car door to her. What was he thinking? Next, he’d be giving her a key to the apartment.
“You are very kind,” she let out a long sigh, “But I think that you’re going to want to reconsider that offer when you hear where I live. My flat’s in Trenton. It’s not a short hop. I can take the train.”
Trenton? Trenton was miles away. It would be a good hour or two to get there even now, in the middle of the night with minimal traffic. Was she serious or was she just inventing that as an excuse?
“Get in, please,” his voice was low, he hoped this would be the final time he’d have to ask.
Her eyebrows went up then seeing his face she smiled. The sadness was missing this time from her eyes and he stood there gapping like a fool at this beautiful woman. She touched his hand then dropped into the passenger seat. He tried to curse out-loud at himself, but nothing came out. He walked around the back of the car, adjusting himself as he did. It was going to be a long uncomfortable drive but at least he had something other than her to focus on. He just needed to drive the car, not her, there would be no driving of himself into her. That wasn’t what he would be doing, no, not at all.
He took a long breath as he stood at the drivers’ door, why was he acting like a juvenile boy on prom night? He was a man. He used to be Josh McMasters. At one stage he’d had women dripping off him. He wasn’t an amateur around the fairer sex. Sure, OK, he hadn’t made love to a woman in too long, but he’d made a name for himself making woman swoon while being detached, cool and in control. He looked down at the bulge in his pants, he wasn’t this guy.
He took one last deep breath, opened the door, got in and started the vehicle. Her silence greeted him. He drove without looking at her. The driving helped. He had himself a little more composed as he wove in an out of the traffic. He was back in control.
The silence in the car was comfortable but there was something still bugging him. He cringed, as he realised what it was. There it was, the need to explain. It hung over him like an anvil, the need to tell this woman, who hadn’t asked, why he couldn’t string more than two words together. It was that dreaded time. He would have to do it while driving, while he had this to concentrate on, distracting him as she plied him with questions and offered him her pity.
“Voice gone,” he said to the woman sitting close to him but not touching him, “Crushed throat.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she whispered.
It was the standard reply, he’d expected that.
“I’m from New Zealand,” she continued without pause.
That confused him. Why was she telling him that? How was that relevant? Where was that?
“My Dad’s a Dairy farmer, cows, milk, that sort of thing,” she continued, “It doesn’t make for great conversation with those types. Mr Harvard in there, thought I’d said my Father played the stock market, not quite the same.”
She thought that the fact that his voice was gone was why he wasn’t inside, why he was hiding on the balcony. She had taken his lack of voice as his excuse for avoiding the party. She was partly right. It was his occupation, however, that was the primary reason for him not wanting to socialise. He should tell her now, what he did, as it was clear that she didn’t recognise him. If she had recognised him she would have never gotten into the car with him. Not a nice girl like Belinda, no she would have run.
“Job,” he croaked out, “My work.”
“That sounds painful,” she whispered as he swallowed and tried to get his voice around the words, “My work? I’m an accountant. I’m being sponsored out here by Mitchell, Sandford and Thainstone, MS&T, to set up a Forensic Accounting division for the company. I’ve been here two years, and if I play my cards right I’ll be a Partner by the end of this Financial Year. Not bad, for a little girl from Matamata?”
He didn’t know where Matamata was, but it didn’t sound like a large town.
“MS&T hosted the party tonight,” she continued, “That’s why I was there. I should have stayed home though, I’ve got a proposal to present to the Board on Monday. I should have known that Anthony would use it as an opportunity to marry me off. He can’t understand why I’m still single. He doesn’t understand that my career is more important to me than any man could be.”
A career woman, that would make things easier. She wasn’t interested in having a man, having him, she’d said it to his face. But instead of feeling relief, he felt disappointment and something else. There was something else crystallising in the pit of his stomach, something he hadn’t felt for a long time.
“Look Josh,” her voice sounded scared or apprehensive at least, he turned to find her looking at him, “There’s a train station just up here. I need to tell you that I won’t be inviting you inside when you drop me home. I’m not that type. If you want to drop me off here, I understand.”
He glanced at her again then he turned back to the road as he drove past the station. Those crystals in his stomach just got a hell-of-a-lot sharper. Belinda was a genuine person. She was being honest and was prepared to take the consequences. She wasn’t like any other woman he knew.
He took his eyes off the road again and found her still looking at him. She might not want him tonight but there was something in that look which told him that the race wasn’t run yet. He still had a chance with her.
What? What was he doing? He had no chance with her. She was a farmer’s daughter from a place he didn’t even know where to look for. How would she react when she found out his profession involved dancing with his junk out for the world to see? She wasn’t the type of woman that JJ Masters slept with. She wouldn’t like him if she knew JJ Masters and Josh were the same person.
JJ Masters wasn’t just an erotic dancer, he was the best in the business. He wasn’t a stripper, not anymore, that style of entertaining centred on the removal of the clothing. What he did was more than that. He danced naked using his whole body to entertain. He was on tour in New York with his crew. In the beginning, they danced in pubs and halls, but now the show packed out auditoriums and huge venues with screaming women.
This wasn’t where he’d thought he’d end up. His ambition, his drive, was to be an Actor. He had the talent and was on the fast-track route to the top. His agents had renamed him Josh McMasters and sold his gift to the Movie Studio’s, Producers and Directors. The world was his oyster.
Then the bubble burst, his vocal cords were damaged, and, with the loss of his voice, his acting career vanished. He lost all hope of every being able to do anything again. He fell into a deep abyss of self-pity. That’s when Cogan approached him. Cogan was a small-time-promoter and saw the potential and desperation in Josh. The job didn’t require speaking and he had the equipment for it. He was hungry and broke. They renamed him JJ Masters and dressed him in Velcro pants.
The Four Horsemen were created, and the stripper learnt to dance and became Goliath. From the ashes Josh rose up as something different to what he’d expected. Nothing had panned out according to his plan, but he had no choice but to live with the consequences. Unfortunately, for him, this involved random women screaming ‘Goliath’ at him and trying to touch his private parts.
Josh viewed Goliath as a brand. If JJ Masters was an actor, then Goliath was his defining role. He’d worked hard as he built up the persona, the following, and, along the way, he brought male erotic dancing out of the shadows and into the spotlight. He created a career, which included the tours, shows, modelling spreads and the special appearances. All this was centred on his alter-ego Goliath. As Goliath he wasn’t expected to speak, just to dance.
Then they convinced him to do a movie. In a lifetime of making mistakes, the bar fight, in which his voice had been crushed, was the most significant. But coming in a close second was when he let the Studio executives convince him to do the ‘The Beast’. He thought it would get him back into Acting. The character he played was brought up in the wild and didn’t speak so the plot was suited to his disability and gave him the chance to showcase his skills. It was R18 because of the nudity and they told him that the sex scenes would be tasteful and understated. He believed them. Damn fool he was. It was classed as soft-porn and set the box-office on fire. It was acting but the women he met from that point on, treated him like a porn star.
He was officially a celebrity. He had money, fame and success. He had everything except the ability to speak and the love of a genuine woman. The woman who looked at him didn’t look him in the face. They seemed to think that, because he got naked every night and put it all out there on the big-screen, that they had a right to touch him where-ever and when-ever it suited them. He was meat. He was nothing but a piece of steak to fondle. And that was only if, they didn’t run from him. He had hundreds of women willing to bed him but no one willing to take him seriously.
“Explain Trenton?” he asked as he brought himself back to the real world and because the car had fallen silent. He was wanted to hear her voice. He took the turnoff out of New York.
“It’s cheap,” she laughed, “Well cheaper than living here. And it only takes and hour-and-quarter to train to work every day. I’m saving up. I have another 8 years on my Green Card, if I don’t renew. I’m hoping to save up enough to buy myself a house in Auckland mortgage free.”
Auckland, that sounded familiar. When Cogan went on that sailing holiday around the Pacific, didn’t he go to Auckland?
“It’s a dream,” she sighed, “But it’s not the reason I’m here. I need to get this Partnership. I’ve worked hard for MS&T and earnt it. Within the next eight years, I’ll be sitting on their Board. Once I’ve got that, I can go anywhere.”
He made a sound that he hoped showed how impressed he was. His vocal cords didn’t like him anymore. They refused to obey him.
“Sorry, I’m boring you,” she smiled.
“No, please, talk,” that was something that he’d never thought he’d say.
She laughed then she spoke. Her voice was soft and reminded him of running water over small stones. He didn’t try to fight it as it flowed into him. He just listened to the musical tones and the words she used. He found it relaxed him as he drove.
She told him about New Zealand, about the farm where she was brought up, about places that were pronounced in a foreign language and people who he’d never meet. It was completely irreverent to him, but he was enthralled. He’d interrupt her occasionally with a croaky question and she would laugh and explain. Her laugh made the car seem warmer.
He was disappointed when they passed the sign announcing their arrival in Trenton. He followed her directions to house on the outskirts of the shopping district. The building was small and had clearly been split up into flats. The street was quiet but none of the dwellings looked like anyone had spent any money on them recently.
He was starting to understand the shoes. There was no car. She had been planning on walking from the train station to here, this house, tonight in the middle of the night. She must do this journey every day, twice a day. It might only take just over an hour on the train but there was at least another forty minutes walking. She must commute for four hours every day. That was shocking to him.
“Do you want to come inside?” she had opened the door and was looking at him like she wasn’t a hundred percent sure she knew what she was doing.
“Not type,” he smiled at her, “Remember?”
“Exceptions can be made,” the way she was looking at him made him want to leave the car in the middle of the street, engine running, keys in the ignition, and carry her inside kissing her all the way.
He couldn’t do it. She would never forgive him if he did. He would never forgive himself either. That didn’t stop him wanting her though.
“Phone number,” the words left his mouth before he realised that he was saying them.
“Sure,” she pulled out a business card and handed it to him, “My mobile is on that.”
“Night, Belinda,” he took the card and noted the look of disappointment on her face, “Thanks everything.”
His voice came out rougher than he wanted it too. He wanted it to sound like she was his life preserver, that he felt that she had made his world feel like a better place, but instead it just sounded creepy.
“You aren’t going to give me your number?” she was out of the car now and holding the door open.
He blinked surprised, it was a logical question, but he hadn’t anticipated it. Women didn’t expect this from him. They knew he wouldn’t call them. They knew he wouldn’t hand out his personal cell phone number to them. It wasn’t something he would do.
He pulled out a pad of sticky notes and a pen from the middle panel of the car and scribbled the numbers down. He was still looking at them when she leaned it and took it from his fingers. He looked up, surprised at what he’d done, and as he did she reached her lips forward and brushed them over his.
It was an identical kiss to the one he’d given her at the party. Their lips hardly touched but the result was immediate. His hands went out and he pulled her back to him. His lips sought hers with urgency and, when they found what they were looking for, they pressed against her with a hard and demanding kiss. She gasped, surprised by his sudden change of heart, he took that opportunity and thrust his tongue into her mouth. She groaned which had his pants tenting again.
Her hands were gripping the edge of the seat as she knelt half in the car, half out. She had one knee in the centre of the cushion, the other leg stretched out the open door. From this position she kissed him back, her lips moving in time with his, and her tongue probing his with the same determination. He was still in the drivers’ seat but had twisted to her. He had a hand knotted in her hair, encouraging her, and the other hand found her leg and was skimming up her thigh and inside that ugly coat and amazing dress.
A car horn sounded from behind. She jumped and would have fallen out into the street if he hadn’t been holding her. They looked at each other, breathing heavily, and the horn sounded again.
“Ring me,” she whispered. Then the door was closed, and she was running up the steps.
He wanted to park the car and go after her. But as he drove off, letting the horn blower past, he knew that the moment had past. She was gone. It was time to leave now and suffer a long drive home with his aching groin. It was the right thing to do.
It was after 1am when he got home. He should have been in a fowl mood but instead he was dancing, he danced in the empty room and for no one except himself.