I’m one of those grunts actually likes my job. I’m a physical guy by nature, quiet. I’m lucky enough to live in a beautiful part of the country well there’s lots of physical labor to be done. Logging, working the clay mines, picking pecans, walnuts, or peaches, working the big sawmill down in Levitt. Logging for the paper mill is the biggest business around here. That’s what I do. I’m a logger. Basically my job is getting the trees onto the truck. Which sounds pretty awful but compared to the idea working thirty-five hours a week inside a factory being outside all day is the sunshine lifting wood is fine.
I like my job. I like everything about it. Except the three week layoff that seems like it is taking months to get through. Usually all the physical work takes the edge off for me, keeps my simmer on low in a town not known for its great male to female ratio due to its abundance of what my friend Jared calls real man jobs.
I’d been sitting alone, inside, during the weeks of freak cold rain that had caused the layoff. Without the outdoors and the physical labor to keep me balanced, my horniness was reaching the point where it felt like a knife scratching me from the inside out, a tiny cut that threatened to rip into a thousand cuts, out of control. Which is why I was here, at the only pick-up bar in town.
“You have to chill out your vibe, my man,” Jared said. “You’re beginning to reek of desperation.”
I rolled my neck and took another gulp of my beer. I knew he was needling me, teasing me like when we were kids, but I was afraid under the razzing, he might be right.
“Kyle, this is what happens when you go too long without sex,” Jared said.
He had no idea. It seemed like forever.
“That’s why I’m here with you, Pretty Boy,” I said and elbowed him. “You reel them in with your good looks and expensive duds and when they’re here I’ll steal them from you with my charm.”
“Great. That’s what I always look for in a wingman, someone to snatch up my snatch before I can get any.”
“What can I say? You’ve got looks, I’ve got game,” I said.
“Then why haven’t you been getting any?” Jared asked.
I looked around the bar. There were a few students from the art school, who looked about 16 years old. Actually, maybe they were from the high school and had fake I.D.s and were pretending to be from the art school.
“Not on our most desperate day,” Jared said quietly.
“I might be admiring the teeny boppers in their short shorts, but …”
“I hear you,” Jared said. “Those girls have a few more pecan seasons need to ripen on ‘em.”
We took more swigs of our beers. We faced out from the bar to examine the options. There weren’t any.
Then a woman came in, all class and elegance, and I had a feeling, sin.
“Holy crap, at one o’clock,” I said speaking very softly out of the side of mouth.
“I see her,” Jared said.
I continued to stare. There was something about her, exotic, foreign, high-brow. Not what we got around here in southern Georgia.
I gave her a moment to look around. She saw the teenagers grinding up against each other and frowned.
It took her a moment but I saw the minute she noticed us. Like she’d gotten a little electric shock, her body language did a double take. She looked at Jared and a wave of desire flashed across her face for less than a second, and then it was gone.
Subtly, he turned his chair away from her.
She focused on me and smiled. She was playing me for the wingman to get close to her target. Smart.
I smiled back. I gestured with my head toward the bar and held up my drink to signal that I was buying.
She came over slowly and I stared at her, unabashedly. She wasn’t conventionally pretty, but something about her was unusual and that combined with the way she carried herself like she had real self-esteem, not a faked front, made her a knockout.
She sauntered slowly. I took in the black dress, the sway of her breasts. I let my eyes follow her hips, gaze at her long legs, notice the classy and sexy black high heels. Part of her hair was pinned up in some fancy ‘do on top of her head, the rest flowed in honey colored waves around her shoulders and drew my eyes down toward her breasts again.
When she got to us I was looking only at her face.
She turned her body to me, pointedly ignoring Jared. Despite an obvious flare of heat between them.
“What’s a dame like you doing in a joint like this,” I said in a slightly Bogart voice before I realized that was a stupid first line.
“I think I recognize the reference,” she said. “But I don’t remember, does the opposite actress say ‘The same thing as you are’?”
She had an accent, a gorgeous, hot, sexy accent. Definitely European but tainted with a bit of Yankee. I couldn’t quite place it.
Jared mumbled something. I couldn’t make it out at all. Maybe it was in a foreign language? I had a feeling he was saying, ‘What’s a girl like you doing in a joint like this?’ in French with perfect comic delivery.
“What will you have to drink?” I asked.
“White wine, please,” she said.
Figures. I ordered her a wine.
“I’m Kyle and this is my friend Jared,” I said.
She nodded at us and leaned in toward me to get her wine off the bar. She had a subtle scent that immediately drove me crazy. She smelled like vanilla and flowers and some feminine musk that instantly had me picturing her naked.
It was a very, very good picture.
“Are you visiting from somewhere?” I asked. So far, I wasn’t dazzling with the pick-up lines, but I’d get there.
“I’m here for work,” she said. “I’m attending the rocket science and applied engineering materials conference.”
“Ah,” I said. “Beautiful and brilliant. I should have guessed that. Where are you coming from?”
“I’m from France,” she said. “I live in Paris…”
Ah, that explains the accent.
“But I also keep an apartment in New York, for business,” she said.
Also explains why I couldn’t place the accent.
“Rocket science’s gain is also my gain,” I said. “Let us welcome you, Southern Hospitality style.”
“If that style is like the ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’ …
I snapped to attention.
“…Then it may be just what the doctor prescribed after a long and boring day of meetings,” she said.
I picked up her hand. “What do you call yourself?”
“My name is Claire,” she said.
“Very French,” I said.
A new DJ went behind the DJ booth and the music cranked to ear splitting levels with bad techno.
I resisted the urge to touch her face, smooth the frown lines away.
“There’s a beautiful patio,” I said.
“There’s a back?” Claire asked.
“Yes,” I said. “It’s generally closed to the public because they want the patrons up here where they can order liquor, but the owner’s a friend of ours and he doesn’t mind if we use it. It’s a beautiful night.”
“That sounds lovely,” she said.