He was kicking himself. He’d lost her number. He’d had it in the car and he’d picked it up when he’d got out of the vehicle. But that was the last time he remembered seeing it. He was stuffed.
He had spent all week searching and was pulling his hair out. He didn’t know her last name and couldn’t recall what division she said she worked in. All he could remember that she said something about Friendly accountancy or something like that. But Sam had assured him that there was nothing friendly about accountancy. The event was run by the Accounting Firm, MS&T, and he knew that she worked for them. He had gotten Sam to ring them, asking for her, but they wouldn’t put him through without more information.
He’d considered driving down to her flat and knocking on the door. It wasn’t that simple though. She worked during the day and he worked in the evenings. He didn’t really think that turning up at midnight would be appropriate.
This week wasn’t a good week for him. The show started on Thursday and they were still rehearsing and making sure all the lights, sounds and stages were ready. He couldn’t run off. He would have to wait until Saturday. She would be home Saturday and he could drive down there in the morning and surprise her. He realised that this might make him look like a stalker, but he was running out of options. He had to see her again.
But, that was where his planning ended. He had no idea what he’d do if she opened the door. It wasn’t like he could explain why he was there, opening and closing his mouth like a silent goldfish. He’d look like a serious idiot. She’d probably call the cops. He dropped his head into his hands. He had to find her. It didn’t matter if he looked like a complete loser. He’d never forgive himself if he didn’t try.
It was Friday. He hadn’t rung. She knew this because she’d had the phone attached to her constantly. She’d even taken it into the bathroom while she showered, just in case. She become one of those pathetic women who waited, biting nails, for something that wasn’t going to come.
She blamed his kiss. She wasn’t a virgin and she wasn’t naïve but when he kissed her she felt like she was sixteen years old and being kissed for the first time. When his lips touched her, every prior experience seemed insignificant, inadequate and forgettable. She was positive that from that point in time going forward, every kiss and every touch would be equally as bland unless it was coming from that man. In one kiss he’d managed to make her want to re-write her book.
Belinda Compton had a well-established story. She knew where she was from and she knew where she was going. She had plans for her future both career-wise and relationship-wise. Once she’d ticked all her boxes regarding her career and the house was brought and paid for, she would relocate home, sit on some NZ corporate boards, and settle down with the nothing-special-to-look-at husband and start a family. It was a simple plan.
She was an independent career woman. The man she saw herself with didn’t need to look good. He needed to understand Profit and Loss statements, Balance Sheets, and know his way around a Board table. They would talk work, and sex would be something for Saturday night, if they had no other commitments. It was a sensible plan.
None of this involved a hot man with lips that could turn her body the jelly and make everything inside her curdle. Josh, she didn’t even know his last name, wasn’t in her story. He shouldn’t even be looking at her. She wasn’t his type. She wasn’t anyone’s type. She was tall, a turn-off for most men, willowy with breasts which were disproportionate to her figure. She brushed her mousy hair off her face. Her eyes were too large, her face too small and her neck was too long. She was odd looking. The only thing that men seem to want from her were her breasts and she listed those as her worst feature.
She had been asked, more times than anyone would expect, if her breasts were fake. That was how wrong they were for her stature. Some girls might have been flattered but not her, not when she was trying to forge her accountancy career and be taken seriously. They were a hinderance. She’d considered more than once to have them reduced in size. But she was from small town New Zealand. Plastic Surgery was for vain people who had nothing better to do than to play God with their own bodies. She wasn’t prepared to go there. And, of course, it cost bucket loads of money.
Money wasn’t something that she was able to part with, so she put up with the oversized melons and just did her best to ignore the comments. Men were easy to ignore. Her history didn’t exactly make her crave sex.
She’d been with three men. Two in New Zealand and one since she’d moved here, just to see if distance would improve the experience. Not so much. She’d found it a bump and grind which resulted in nothing more than an awkward morning coffee. She’d tested it out Robert, from Auditing, a couple of times, thinking that maybe she was doing it wrong. But in the end, she decided that she might as well not have been in the bed. He seemed oblivious to anything she did and was completely focused on his own conclusion. The Hollywood version of sex was fictious, overrated and not worth her time.
But Josh was making her wonder. In one kiss he’d made her rethink the whole process. In that kiss she’d had more going on down-there, than she thought possible. If he could do that with his kiss, then what could he do to her naked? Just thinking about it set her lower extremities tingling.
But he didn’t ring. And that was that, end of story. Or was it?
It was the 21st Century, she was an educated woman and a respected professional in one of the top accountancy firms. She wasn’t sixteen and inexperienced. She could ring him. She could ask him out.
That was true, but did she want to ring him? Where would that lead her? How did that fit into her plan? What if he said no?
She shook her head trying to clear the negativity away. It made her sound afraid. That wasn’t the Belinda Compton she knew. She prided herself on her fierce determination and never-say-never attitude. That Belinda wouldn’t be looking the phone every five minutes. That Belinda would have made the call and sorted the problem.
Resolved, and before she could change her mind, she picked up the phone and dialled the number that she’d memorised. She was a modern woman and would deal with the consequences if they arouse. At least she would know where she stood.
The phone rang for a long time.
“Yeah,” the voice was gravelly and there was noise in the background.
“Josh? It’s Belinda Compton, from the party on the weekend,” she cringed. Not only did she feel like a sixteen-year-old girl, she sounded like one.
There was some noise, the muffled squawk of surprise from a woman, someone yelling, music, and then the sound of a door closing, but she might have been wrong about that.
“Yeah,” his voice sounded rough.
“I’m ringing to invite you out tonight,” she bit her lip, “There’s a bar in the city that everyone’s raving about.”
“Tonight, no, busy,” the words were low and hard to hear. His gravelly voice didn’t travel well, “Saturday, I’ll text.”
The was a loud sound in the background and something that sounding like swearing.
“Got to go,” he sounded rushed, “Saturday, I’ll text.”
She leaned back in her chair. He would text her. Yeah, right. That was a brush-off if she’d ever heard one. He wasn’t interested. She shouldn’t have been surprised. The kiss in the car was earth-shattering for her but maybe it was hum-drum for him. She hadn’t thought so at the time, but what did she know. He was hot, and she was just Belinda Compton, a nothing special to look at accountant.
Belinda’s call had come while they were on stage rehearsing. He’d been grinding while holding one of the female dancers who were in this routine, when the phone rang. It had distracted him and the whole dance had gone to hell. His private number wasn’t well known and everyone who did have it, knew he was rehearsing and couldn’t be disturbed.
He’d run over to where it was ringing backstage and answered it, thinking it was some emergency. He wasn’t prepared to hear her voice. It had shocked him. Belinda was on the phone and he was naked. He’d taken a step backwards and bumped into one of the other dancers, who was grabbing her water, while the stage director was screaming at him. He’d left everyone swearing at him and made a run for his dressing room. Then he’d tried to sound natural, like this was all perfectly normal, but that was difficult enough even at the best of times.
Belinda had invited him out. Him? To a bar. And he’d gone and said no. Idiot. Stupid idiot. Why was the world conspiring against him? He had a show tonight. And If he went to the bar afterwards someone would recognise him and then everything would be ruined. All he needed was one person to call him ‘Goliath’ or gush about seeing him swinging his stuff around and he’d never see Belinda again.
Of course, there were a hundred good reasons to never see her again. Since he’d lost her number and thought she was lost to him, he’d made a long list of all the reasons why this wouldn’t work. But there was one very compelling reason why he had to see her again. He couldn’t get her out of his head. He’d spent all week thinking about her which, when you did his job, wasn’t helpful.
“Hey, Jay,” the voice came from his dressing room door, “The director’s going ballistic. What are you doing?”
She rang, he turned and said in sign language to Mark, the partly-naked man who was looking at him strangely, Can you believe that? She asked me out.
“That’s wicked, man,” Mark was genuinely pleased for him. A muffled swearing diatribe interrupted the moment. Mark rolled his eyes in the direction it had come from, “You’d better get back to it before he has a coronary, I swear the man hollers louder than that chick I took home last night, and she was a serious screamer.”
Thanks, Mark. He signed before he rushed back to the set.
Sam, Drew, Mark and JJ formed The Four Horsemen Dancing group. They danced under the stage names Stretch, Blaze, Mr Marvellous and Goliath. None of the names they used were their real names, that was the business they were in. They knew all knew the truth about each other, but they were professionals and keeping that information private was part of the job. His friends called him Jay, short for JJ, even though they knew his birth name was Joshua. It was how it worked.
It was these guys who had saved him. They had been there for him. He owed them everything.
It was late, and they’d gone back to Josh’s place after the show. The others sat down with a beer, while Josh made himself a black coffee. After the night he’d lost his voice, he’d sworn off alcohol.
“Hey, you hear? She rang him,” Mark was saying to the others.
“That chick from the party? The one who’s got your panties all in a bunch?” Drew laughed.
Shut up, my panties are fine, he huffed as he signed.
“Your panties are so twisted up that your brain has stopped working and you’re having to use the one in your head,” Drew scoffed, “And we all know what happens when you try to use that old thing!”
Shut up, at least I have a brain, you’ve only got that that trouser python to rely on, Josh signed with fast movements at Drew, then he turned to Sam, I don’t even know where to take her?
“That is a tricky one, where does she live?”
“I missed that, it looked like you signed Trenton? You did? Where the hell is Trenton? Does anyone live that far out?” Drew screwed up his face.
Contrary to what you believe Drew, there is life out there, past the borders of Manhattan. I know it’s shocking for you, but it’s true.
“What does she do out there?” Mark was shaking his head. “Has she got two heads? I’ve heard the further you go from Central Park the weirder things get. If she has two heads can you introduce me to her, we could go tandem, if you know what I mean.”
Josh threw a beer coaster at his head.
“There is the Arm and Hammer Park,” Sam said then drank the remainder of his beer, “It’s a great place to watch a ball game.”
Yeah, can see that working, no-one will recognise me there!
“You haven’t told her, have you?” Sam’s eyes widened, “When are you going to tell her?”
Josh shrugged and stared into his coffee cup.
“I told you,” Drew nodded, “He’s using the dusty attic, pretending that’s where all his good ideas come from.”
“Man, you are screwed,” Mark laughed, “Totally screwed, and not in the way you want to be screwed.”
Josh cringed. He hoped not. He would tell her, he just had to find the right time and place.