Slaying Goliath (Complete)

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Chapter 9

“And don’t go into the bathroom without protection,” Drew was saying to Mark, “Touch any surface in there and you’ll end up pregnant.”

The guys had arrived at his apartment for breakfast and to check up on Drew. This might have been their plan but right now his love-life seemed to be higher on the agenda than Drew’s breakup. Drew unfortunately didn’t pass out after being left in the spare bedroom and was now giving the guys a play-by-play account of every bump and groan he’d heard during the night.

They lounged around on his sofas, drinking his coffee and discussing his sex life while they ignored his sign attempts to tell them to get out. His voice was gone and all he could do was wave his arms around at them which, as they were demonstrating, was easy to ignore. They flashed him broad grins as they enjoyed his discomfort.

I hate you all, he finally signed and gave up.

“I swear,” Drew widened his eyes, “I’m surprised the building’s still standing. The foundations took a pounding!”

“And she left?” Sam frowned.

“Can you believe it,” Drew laughed, “Firstly, she was still able to walk after that bashing, and secondly, you should have seen his face. He was like a puppy who’d just lost its bone, except he hadn’t. His bone was still front and centre!”

“Aw,” Mark crooned, “JJ’s in love.”

“Josh,” Drew corrected.

“You told her your real name?” the three men looked at him.

He looked away.

“This is serious,” Mark’s voice was serious, “And you told her about the spread that’s going to hit every coffee table on Thursday?”

Josh grimaced and examined his shoes.

“So, Drew,” Sam’s voice was clipped as he purposely turned to Drew, “How are you? Can you please promise us that this is the last time? She’s cancer, that woman. Find a new poison, she’s going to kill you.”

Josh breathed out a long breath as they took Sam’s bait and the conversation moved to Drew and Veronica. He got up and headed for the kitchen. He was pouring another coffee when Sam joined him.

“Are you OK?” Sam was watching him carefully.

He shrugged on shoulder and he avoided Sam’s eyes.

“Are you being careful?” Sam asked.

I’m not a virgin, Josh signed, I know about birth-control.

“I wasn’t referring to your sperm,” Sam poured himself a cup, “I was talking about your heart.”

What’s that supposed to mean?

“I know you,” Sam leaned against the bench, “This woman is different, isn’t she? This isn’t one of your sex-escapes. This isn’t a short-term thing for you, is it?”

He shrugged again.

“And you haven’t told her,” Sam continued. “I’m not judging, but I’ve never seen you like this.”

I know I’ve got to tell her, he rubbed the heel of his hand over his forehead, I’ve tried

“I’m not going to tell you what you need to do,” Sam stirred the coffee in his cup, “But if I was you, and I felt strongly about her, I would want to protect her from finding out that sort of thing from the press.”

Josh didn’t answer him.

“You know that we have your back,” Sam said as he left, “No matter what happens we will be there for you.”

Josh nodded and then grimaced at his coffee. Sam was right. Sam was always right. He had to bite the bullet and just make her listen to him. The problem was that she wasn’t going to be back until Saturday.

++++++++++++++++++++

Belinda was sore. All her muscles felt like they’d been stretched, and her internal places felt a tingly pain. She ached all over but at the same time she felt light as a feather. There was a spring in her step and she couldn’t stop smiling.

She should be tired and grumpy. No, that wasn’t right, she should be focused and motivated on her work. But she couldn’t. She had been staring at the same figures for the last hour and she still couldn’t see them.

Her mind refused to see anything but Josh’s naked body. He watched her with those serious eyes as his body called to her. The same body which had reluctantly said goodbye to her this morning. She’d walked away from that man while every fibre in her screamed at her to take him back to bed and make good use of that arousal. And now she was paying the price. She ached for him.

She dropped her head to the desk and softly knocked her forehead against the melamine surface. She was going insane. She knew what she had to do, but all she wanted to do was run to him. It was insanity, plain and simple insanity. She needed to get that man, his to-die-for body, the way they slotted together and his ability to make her scream his name, out of her mind and introduce her feet back to solid earth.

“If I didn’t know better,” Amanda was standing over her watching her resting her forehead on the desk, “I would swear that you look like you’ve had a good night of sex.”

“No,” Belinda’s head came off the desk as her eyes widened and her cheeks blushed.

“Oh, my, gawd,” Amanda laughed, “You have! You got some!”

“Shh,” Belinda held her finger to her lips as she looked out the open door to her office, “You don’t need to tell everyone.”

“Belinda, I’ve known you for two years and I was starting to believe you were breeding spiders down there,” Amanda laughed, “I’m just relieved to find out you’re just a normal human being after all.”

“Trust me, no cobwebs and no spiders, not after last night,” Belinda rubbed her hands over her face, “What am I going to do Amanda? I can’t get him out of my head.”

“Who is he?” Amanda shut the door, “It’s not Brad from downstairs, is it?”

“If it was Brad,” she grimaced, “Getting him out of my head wouldn’t be the problem. No, this is the guy I meet at the party last week. Hotter than hot, tall, dark and gorgeous. Did I mention that he’s hot?”

“And built like a passenger liner? Cargo ship? Aircraft carrier? Please, tell me he isn’t a tug boat?”

“As ocean-going-vessels go, the Titanic wasn’t all that large,” she blushed and then covered her face, “I can’t believe I just said that! What’s happening to me?”

“Welcome to the human race, Belinda Compton,” Amanda laughed, “You’ve finally discovered that you’re a woman not a machine.”

“It was easier to be a machine,” she said as she looked at the figures on her screen again.

“Yes, but not as fun,” Amanda opened the door but paused before she left, “Let me know if you need anything. I’m good for advice, double dates, bridesmaid duties and being introduced to any of his cute friends. If he’s that hot, I’m sure he has some single friends. I’m single, very single and very available.”

“Got it,” she laughed.

“And if his friends have Titanic-like pleasure ships,” She laughed and as she walked away she added loudly, “I’m especially single for that!”

Belinda laughed and screwed up her eyes at the same time. She was still looking at the same figures when her phone alerted her to a text.

Missing you. J

She smiled. She was about to text back when the next text came through.

There is something I need to tell you. I should have told you already.

This had her worried. This sounded serious. She made a quick list of all the things that he might be referring to, rated them as to degrees of possible heartbreak, and then picked the worse one to confront him with.

Are you married? Don’t lie to me Josh. If you are married, you need to tell me right now.

She closed her eyes as she sent the text. Her chest was tight, and her fists were clenched. He better not be married. She wasn’t a cheater. She wasn’t that woman. It would explain a lot though. He couldn’t be interested in her. Was he only interested in seeing her as the other-woman?

Married??? No! No, it’s not that. Can I see you at your lunch-break?

She felt her body relax. She felt the anxiety leave her and was surprised by how much that scared her. Just the idea of having to walk away from him had wound her up and caused her so much pain.

Good, I don’t cheat, and I don’t want to say goodbye. Lunch-break? I don’t understand the concept?

She sent the text and wondered if that sounded too clingy and she wasn’t sure if he’d get her attempt at humour. She didn’t want to dismiss him but if she saw him in the middle of the day she’d never be able to concentrate. She needed to have this week. She needed him to understand that. If she was going to have any relationship with him he had to work with her and her deadlines.

The meeting alarm on her calendar reminded her that she needed to get moving. She picked up her papers and looked at the phone. He hadn’t texted back. She needed to put it on silent, so she sent him a final text.

I have to go, meeting, I will be back Sat. Can it wait until then? B

+++++++++++++++++++++++

He looked at the text. She didn’t want to say goodbye. That told him two things. Firstly, that she was thinking that they had something, a connection, that would require a farewell. And secondly, that she was prepared to say goodbye to him if necessary. OK, so he was happy she wasn’t prepared to date a married man, but the fact that she would say goodbye to him via text was sobering. He wasn’t prepared for that.

He grabbed his kit and headed to practice. He needed to dance. Dancing took away all his worries. He usually spent at least three hours at dance practice a day. It was important to keep flexible and to learn new techniques. He like to keep the routines he employed fresh and was proud of how advanced his skills were. When he danced he didn’t just jiggle his hips and wave his arms around.

He had worked hard to get where he was. When he started, the only thing that he knew about dancing was that it was a girl-thing. Mark was the group’s chorographer and taught him. Mark had been a professional ballet dancer before he injured his knee. The knee had heeled but not enough for him to return to that level of performing. He had taught them all how to move.

Josh had been reluctant at first. He had been confident that he could thrust his hips, pull off his clothes, and job-done, after-all this wasn’t a real career. But then he saw Mark dance, and he realised that it wasn’t just dancing, it was flying. There was something about the grace, the athleticism, and power in the movement that had him captivated. Mark was a patient teacher and started from scratch with Josh. Drew and Sam helped but it turned out that Josh wasn’t a slow learner. Sam was a gymnast and taught them the acrobatic techniques. It wasn’t long before Josh realised that he loved it. Then the work started.

For the first couple of years he danced for eight hours a day and then preformed at night. He learnt gymnastics, ballet, contemporary, jazz, tap, modern and everything he could. Mark and Sam taught him how to stand, how to move and how to bend himself into every position. His flexibility and control grew with practice and when they couldn’t teach him any more he sought out other teachers.

It was this love for dance that they all shared, it formed the basis of their friendship, and was the driver behind them creating their routines. Now their dances were highly technical and magical to watch. Their stripping days were long past. Although they were still classed as erotic dancers, they thought of themselves as professional dancers, performers who used their naked bodies to create artistic works.

They all danced and they all worked on improving their business. Josh had taken on the role of Creative Director for the group. He created the visuals and worked with Mark, their choreographer, to craft emotion and feeling into the dances. He used his acting skills and then made the most of the stage, the props, and the individual dancer’s skills and bodies. Sam was the Business Director. He had a level head and worked alongside Cogan to promote and plan. Drew was the musician. He’d been in the music industry before his Fiancé, and the lead singer in his band, had dumped him. Mark had meet him in a bar and had cleaned him up and got him back on the straight and narrow. Drew was the Musical Director.

Josh loved his job. He didn’t love the attention, but he loved the dancing. It was a double-edged sword to him.

He was dripping with sweat as he finished the practice routine. He grabbed the towel and ignored the looks he was getting from the female dancers. He practiced clad in soft pants and usually with professional troupes who were willing to allow him to share their space and learn from them. This particular group did cutting-edge modern dancing which involved contorting the body into shapes with slow and smooth movements. His knowledge of yoga and gymnastics was helpful as he maintained the positions longer and with more control that the other men in the practice. As usual, this gained the respect and the lustful glances from the other dancers.

He picked up his belongs, pulled on his hoodie and headed for the exit before anyone was tempted to talk to him. He usually avoided that but today he was more determined than usual. Belinda was the only one he wanted looking at him like that. The looks he’d been receiving left him feeling dirty and made him miss her more. He pushed his way outside the building, after avoiding the two women who seemed to want to get him their phone numbers for some ‘private-practice’. He looked for Belinda on the street even though he knew she wouldn’t be there.

Saturday seemed like forever away. How was he going to survive all that time without her? His bed was going to be cold and lonely tonight. He wasn’t sure if he’d be able to sleep. But that was one of the reasons why he’d danced so hard today and was planning on going home and lifting some weights. If he exhausted himself, then he’d have to crash. If he was so tired that he couldn’t think, then maybe he wouldn’t remember what she felt like in his arms, how she’d looked as he’d made her his, and how she’d fallen apart because of him.

In retrospect, the soft pants weren’t a great idea. He’d either need to wear more sturdy, starched, thick, unyielding trousers or not be so visual when he thought of her. The soft material was doing nothing to hide the effect of his arousal. And he didn’t have to be very imaginative at all, when it came to him thinking about Belinda, to have his body crave her. And crave her he did.

He put his fists in his pockets and pulled his hoodie down, over the protruding bit, and walked as fast as he dared. He wanted to get home. It was nearly five and she might decide to leave work on time and come over. She knew where he lived. She’d said no, but he was still hopeful.

It was half-five when he got back to the apartment. He did his normal salutation to Harold, the doorman, and was disappointed when Harold just returned the gesture and didn’t inform him that he would find a woman waiting on his doorstep. He headed for the stairs and, despite being prepared for it, still felt the breath go out of him to find his doorway free of visitors and his flat empty and dark. He walked around turning lights on. He came home to this every evening. Why did it feel so vacant tonight?

He picked some rock music that promised to be loud, shouty and wouldn’t remind him of her soft musical voice and mesmerising laugh. With the pulsing noise he sat down on the bench and began to lift the dumbbells. He had built a decent weights room in the corner of the large open plan living room. He didn’t live in New York, but he’d spent enough time here that he’d brought the apartment and furnished it with the things he liked. He thought it was an extravagance to have it and not need it, but that was before he’d met Belinda. Now, this apartment was the best investment he’d ever made. He could see himself spending a lot more time here.

He was doing some bench presses when he heard the knock on the door. His heart jumped, and he almost dropped the barbell. He pushed it up and secured it, then he jumped up, grabbed his towel and ran to the door. He stood there for a whole minute trying to compose himself, but when the knock came again he gave up. He flung open the door and smiled as he expected to find her standing there in her pencil skirt, ugly blazer and cotton shirt.

Instead he was greeted by three large men all making ‘kissy’ faces. They rolled around laughing at his look of clear and utter disappointment. Sam slapped him on the back as he walked past him into the apartment.

I hate you all, he signed, get out! Go on! Get out of my apartment!

“Don’t lie,” Mark was still laughing, “You love us, so much!”

“And what’s not to love,” Drew pushed past to join Sam who was raiding the fridge.

What are you doing? Why are you here?

“We knew you’d be lonely,” Mark draped his arm over Josh’s shoulder as he walked inside shutting the door after him.

“Belinda said she wasn’t coming,” Drew wiggled his eyebrows, “So we thought you might need consoling. We are here for you, mate, in your time of need.”

I hate you even more, Josh narrowed his eyes at them.

“Don’t be like that,” Sam laughed, “We come bearing Pizza and Beer, Belinda can’t compete with that!”

“It’s been a long time since you’ve been with a woman, if you believe that,” Mark laughed.

“Yeah, true,” Sam frowned. “But even so, the pizza’s getting cold.”

The men jumped on the sofa, pizza on the coffee table, and the beer was handed out. Josh shook his head and admitted defeat. Belinda wasn’t coming so he might as well let these idiots entertain him. He sat down and took some Pizza.

He didn’t listen too closely to their banter, teasing and jokes as they made his home their own. They always ended up at his place. This was mainly because he wasn’t comfortable at their leased apartments, they were too open and too visible. The all lived high above the city in glass walled boxes. He didn’t need to look hard to see their neighbours. Also, his place was a home whereas theirs looked like and felt like hotel rooms. This became their base of entertainment and operations when they were here and, if he wasn’t in the city, they would stay here. It was as much their home as it was his.

Drew changed the music and was talking about this band he’d heard who sang Heavy Metal in some native language that sounded fierce and warrior like. Sam was talking about his trip to Florida and how it looked for a summer set of tour dates. And Mark was talking about an idea he had for a dance, it would be representative of the whole guy meets girl, gets heart broken, and pleads for her to take him back. He called it the Drew-Dance, which had them all laughing, including Drew. They all talked at once and all the conversations were held all at the same time. Drew would suggest stuff to Mark regarding the dance while asking Sam about what the acoustics in Florida, Mark asked about the stages and suggest other bands to Drew, and Sam was keen to hear about the dance and the music. He signed and listened as the conversations played out around him. It was an organic thing, but it was how they worked. Soon they would have the dance arranged, have the music sorted and Sam would have it scheduled into the next tour.

The pizza was gone, and the beer wasn’t far from gone. It was getting late and Mark was talked to him about his ideas for how the piece would flow while Sam talked to Drew about how he shouldn’t go back to Veronica. The knock on the door didn’t register. He was busy drawing his ideas on the pad of paper when Drew kicked him and told him to go get the door.

He was signing to Mark a concept, showing him the footwork as he walked to the door. He opened it expecting it to be another delivery of pizza or Harold with a request to keep the music down, when he found Belinda standing there. She held her bag in both hands and looked at him with wide eyes like she wanted to turn and run.

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