Writing Prompt – We Need You Again

cyberpunk-girl-1920x1200

It all started with a writing prompt: The phone rings. The voice on the other end says, “We need you again,” then hangs up.

I just started writing, with no clear idea of where it would go or what, exactly, I wanted to write about. I haven’t finished whatever it’s going to be, but one day later, this is what I have so far. Have a read through, and then in the comments tell me where you think it should go from here. Be imaginative! Let’s have some fun with this. 🙂


The phone app rings on my wrist. The voice on the other end says, “We need you again,” then disconnects.

Groggy with sleep, I drag myself out of bed, glancing at the face of my smartcuff that reads 09:48. Seriously? Don’t they know I’m not a morning person? I glare at the softly glowing screen of the device and slumber off to the bathroom of my tiny apartment to splash some water on my face and wake up. After taking care of the first essentials, I then stumble into the kitchenette, lights turning on as I enter.

“Alexa, coffee,” I grumble into the air, and the machine starts heating up in its wall cubby.

“Good morning, Kate. Please allow one minute for the water to reach optimal temperature.  Shall I prepare a Kovashi breakfast bar for you?”

The disembodied voice, so perfect in its intonation, obviously intended to be comforting, only serves to further darken my mood.

“Just the coffee.”

I know I should eat something, but another soulless, even if perfectly nutritious, processed protein bar is entirely unappetizing. My tastes run more toward eggs and toast, but my credit limit runs more toward Food Bar, Basic. What I wouldn’t give for some orange juice, real orange juice, not some flavored water generated out of Kovashi’s genetic engineering labs, but since the blight of ’47 that has been out of reach for all but the wealthiest citizens.

While I drink my coffee and hide the tiredness in my eyes with the lightest amount of shadow I can get away with, I ponder what it could be this time. It has been four months since my last job, and my credit is close to running out, as Alexa reminds me each time she orders restock for the kitchenette. Last time they wanted me to escort some businessman to a fancy dinner, keeping an eye out for any trouble, but the only trouble was when the client wanted more than a socially acceptable bodyguard after I’d seen him back to his hotel. I’m pretty sure the bruise I left him with is responsible for my recent lack of work.

Fifteen minutes later, dressed in a form-fitting grey one-piece, hair pulled back into a ponytail and the lightest amount of shadow to hide the tiredness in my eyes, I step out onto the platform of my residential building. A misty drizzle fills the air, and heat rises from the ground level, far, far below me. Across the void rises another apartment block, orange and grey, windows for those lucky enough to afford a view unit facing over the traffic lanes. Every twenty stories a bus platform extends, and on many of them I see other citizens awaiting their rides. Between our buildings a steady stream of buses and aircabs rushes by, with the occasional privately-owned vehicle for those lucky or silly enough to own one, while in the center the billboards drift along, lighting up the building face with their flashing colors and soothing voices exhorting us to buy the latest fashions, or tempting us with impossible excursions to islands that probably don’t exist. The city is not a quiet place, but then, where is?

Embed from Getty Images

 

The trip from my outer neighborhood to Westlake Center takes almost an hour, as the airbus stops frequently where citizens await on their platforms. Fortunately, it’s nearly a direct shot, and once I reach the downtown core I’m able to descend a few levels below the bus route and find pedestrian walkways that bridge the gap between commercial buildings. I jostle through the crowd, office workers on their lunch breaks and shoppers eying jewelry and electronic gizmos behind thick plate-glass displays, and make my way to the bank of elevators that will whisk me away from the commercial levels.

“Present authorization,” says the not-so-comforting voice of the control panel — no Alexa here — and I wave my smartcuff in front of the flashing sensor pad. A moment later the door opens, then closes behind me, and the elevator ascends rapidly, and I feel the pressure change in my ears, swallowing reflexively to clear them.

I step out into the lobby, and the impossibly beautiful and expensively enhanced receptionist smiles brightly at me.

“Welcome back, Ms Conyers. They’re expecting you in the conference room. I believe you know the way.”

I thank her with a smile of my own — Anita annoys me, but there’s no reason to antagonize her — and walk past. When I enter the conference room with its floor-to-ceiling windows, I pause for a moment to once again gaze upon the sea of buildings leading off as far as the eye can see, far above the constant advertising bombarding the lower levels. A discreet cough reminds me that I’m not here to admire the million-dollar view.

Three suits, two men and a woman, stand at the far side of the large glass and steel table that dominates the room. One of the men I know: Hugo Dresling, my boss, or at least he is whenever I’m on a job for Dresling Personal Services. Hugo’s not a bad guy, but he’s mercenarial at heart, and I’m not completely convinced that all of the personal services rendered through his company are strictly legal. Being an ex-cop — don’t ask, it didn’t work out well — my specialty is client protection, glorified bodyguard, and because I clean up well they like to use me for discreet social situations. Really I think they pick me more to look good at the client’s side at dinners, parties, and meetings than for any actual protection I could provide. Oh well, since getting fired from the force — I told you not to ask, didn’t I? — I can’t be too picky about where my jobs come from these days.

The other two I don’t know. I presume they’re the client. The man is about my age, maybe even younger, late twenties to early thirties I’d say, and he smiles as I walk in. Dark hair, neatly styled, his suit cut to impress. The woman, on the other hand, is closer to Hugo’s age, perhaps in her mid forties, though the only reason I think so is the confidant way she holds herself, the expression on her face that says I’m in charge here. Her hair is severely pulled back into a tight bun, and her makeup is no-nonsense, perfectly applied so that one could be forgiven for not realizing she’s wearing any. I’m immediately self-conscious of my own very rapid preparation this morning, and from the woman’s expression, she can tell. From the flawless complexions and perfectly apportioned features on both of them, I’m pretty sure they’ve spared little expense on upgrades.

“Kate, welcome, come in,” says Hugo. “Allow me to introduce Fiona and Lloyd Devereaux.”

“Ms Devereaux,” I greet her. “Mr Devereaux.” Her grip as we shake is firm, and she holds my hand for a moment longer than strictly customary. I have the sense she is appraising me somehow, and of course, why not? They are presumably here to hire my services, after all. I wonder about their relationship as we all sit down.

Bored Space Girl


❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Thank you, darlings! I look forward to hearing your ideas. And, Happy Thanksgiving!

Advertisements

Distractions and a Quick Snippet

Embed from Getty Images

 

I’ve been working on Partners and Crime lately, trying to expand it to a longer, single piece of, oh, perhaps 8000 words or so when done (for comparison, the three parts already posted here came to a total of about 3300 words combined). I have actually found it a little bit slow going, partly because I’m still figuring out where this story is supposed to end up (remember, it started as flash fiction and was never supposed to be more than a thousand words or so), and partly because I originally intended it for posting only to the blog, which I generally keep at no more than, um, somewhere between PG-13 and R rated, perhaps, and yes, it has now definitely crossed that border firmly into R territory, maybe even a little NC-17 in there.

Which is odd, because it’s not as if I haven’t written some very explicit scenes in other stories before (Switch). Why is this one different? Perhaps it’s because I’m actually thinking about how this one could appear as a short novelette on Amazon? Because I’m already thinking about potential beta readers and their reactions? Because when I first started writing Switch (which, so far, is much more explicit) a year ago, I didn’t ever expect to show it to anyone?

Or perhaps I’m just massively overthinking it.

Or spending too much time on social media. Yeah, there’s always that. Having trouble wordsmithing the next sentence? No problem! After all, someone just favorited my latest rambling tweet, and I need to go check that out. Oh, and look, someone just posted a very interesting article on — wait for it — social media strategy for authors; I’d definitely better read that. And hey, some of my favorite authors just got published in a new anthology; mmm, reading that sounds like much greater fun.

(On a side note, Chemical [se]X, edited by Oleander Plume, really is great fun to read.)

The blog could use an overhaul, too — really, I should put my excerpts together on an actual page — and gosh, I haven’t posted anything in a long time, and… well, I’m taking care of that problem right now, aren’t I? And distracting myself from finishing up a measly few thousand more words in Partners and Crime.

Ok, though, seriously, where do you think the story should go? When last we left them, Eileen McConnell and Daryl Travers had to dash into a shower stall in the women’s locker room at the police department where they both work because two other officers had just come in to the room. Oh, and Travers had been wearing Eileen’s handcuffs for most of the action up to this point, though she has just taken them off him (though that story point could change — what do you think?). Now, if you aren’t exactly clear on how these two ended up in this predicament, this would be an excellent time to go back and read the three installments I posted to the blog.

On another side note, Jade, I really did not have you in mind when I named one of the two officers entering the room Waters — the name just appeared from thin air as I wrote — but, hey, what would you do if you were in your namesake’s position? And yes, I know you aren’t nearly as crude and crass as the Waters in the story. You’re far too nice, and she’s… well, she’s not. At least, not yet.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a very brief snippet from the continuing story:

He tugged, and with a wiggle of my hips my panties slipped down my thighs. I tried to kick them away, but only succeeded in tangling them about my ankles. If Travers noticed, he gave no sign, and very quickly I forgot all about them too when…

When what? Ah, I’ll leave that to your imagination… for now.

Embed from Getty Images

Safewords and Spankings

[Yet another excerpt from my work-in-progress novel, Switch. If you haven’t read the previous excerpts, you can find them at https://lacewinter.com/category/novels/switch/. In this scene, Nicholas has just delivered Olivia’s first-ever erotic spanking, and while it thoroughly aroused her (and hurt like hell), it left her confused about her feelings with regard to submission. This gives her an idea, but things never seem to work out quite the way Olivia plans.]

Embed from Getty Images

 

“Maybe you should have a safeword,” I said.

“Oh, really? And why is that?”

“Because just maybe I might want to tie you down instead, and spank your bottom. After all, I think you’ve been a very naughty Dom.”

Nicholas laughed. “Naughty? How have I been naughty?”

“Well, to use your own metaphor, you may steer the car and hit the accelerator, but only I have the brake pedal. Well, I’m not the one who put the brakes on just now; that was you. I was ready to press on, but you are the one who slowed things down. So, it seems to me that your foot strayed over the line onto my pedal, and therefore you were out of bounds and deserve a spanking.”

He truly looked amused. I don’t think he took me seriously. Of course, I’m not sure that I was being serious, I was just riffing on his own line, but now that we’d gone there, why not? I tapped his chest with my forefinger.

“So, big boy, what’s it going to be? Will you bend over that bench like a good boy and take the punishment you deserve, or do I need to restrain you?”

“And if I decide not to cooperate, little girl, just how are you going to bend me to your will?”

I took his hand and pulled it between my legs, placing his palm against the heat emanating again through my panties.

“You want this, don’t you?”

A fire gleamed in his eyes, and he didn’t pull his hand away.

“Well, if you harbor any hopes of getting that reward, and make no mistake, it will be a reward, then you had best be a good boy and do as you’re told.”

I couldn’t quite believe my audacity. Did I actually just do that? I sat there, holding his palm against my sex, staring him down, daring him. My heart was beating a hundred times a minute with nervousness and excitement, and I felt something hot pooling down low in my belly. I might have been blushing and sweating a little, because I was pretty sure he could feel the dampness that I just knew had to be soaking through my panties. I didn’t back down, however.

The amusement and fire in his eyes gave way to uncertainty, and then curiosity. He didn’t answer right away, he just sat there, looking me in the eye. He didn’t move his fingers, he just kept his palm still against me, and the heat between us grew nearly unbearable. If he didn’t break soon, then I would.

He broke.

He took a deep breath before speaking, opened his mouth, paused, closed it again, then finally spoke.

“You make a highly convincing argument, little sub, but I am only going along with this because it pleases me to do so, and because it pleases me to please you.”

He stood up, holding me so I didn’t dump onto the floor, then releasing me. I stared up at him with a confidence in my gaze that I didn’t yet feel in my heart.

“What’s your safeword?” I asked him.

“Oh, I don’t think I’m going to need a safeword, do you?”

“You just delivered a fine-sounding lecture about how a submissive retains the ultimate power, but only because he has a safeword. You’re the submissive now, and I’m your Domme, even if only for a few minutes. Do you really wish me to have that much absolute power over you? Because if so, I’m fine with that, but don’t come crying to me when you can’t handle what I dish out.”

His eyes danced with amusement. Of course he thought he was just humoring me.

“Very well. My safeword is obstinate, as in you’re an obstinate little sub who seems to like getting her own way.”

I smiled and followed him back over to the bench where, minutes earlier, he had me tied down and wondering what on earth had gotten into me. He kneeled and bent over the horse, looking just a little uncertain about it once he was in that position. Admittedly, being a big guy, he looked a little funny like that, but I thoroughly enjoyed the sight. I patted his ass affectionately, noticing how firm it felt through his blue jeans.

“Hmm, I think these are going to need to come off. After all, fair is only fair.”

His head whipped around, looking over his shoulder at me. “Oh no, I don’t think so. Don’t you think this is enough?”

“You have a safeword if you don’t like it. Otherwise, boy, I’m calling the shots.”

He scowled, thinking about it, then after a moment reaching to unbuckle his belt.

“Ah-ah. Keep your hands on the bench in front of you, unless you want me to tie them. I’ll take care of that.”

He pulled his hand away, leaning fully over the bench. I stood close behind him, leaning over him so I could get my arms around his hips, and took the belt buckle in my hands. As I undid it, and unbuttoned the fly of his 501s, I was hyper-aware of the closeness of his incredibly sexy ass to my hips. I think I even unconsciously pressed against him a bit. Well, maybe not all that unconsciously. I needed to get this lust under control if I wanted to do this right.

Very carefully I avoided touching him more than I needed to as I slid the jeans over his hips and down around his knees. Well, it seemed our oh-so-dominant Nicholas liked to go commando. I shouldn’t have been surprised. I took a deep breath, feeling almost a little light-headed, looking at that bared male vision before me. No flabbiness on this man, that was for sure. His glutes and quads bespoke a man who either spent much time in the gym, or a lot of time on his feet, using his legs. I bit my bottom lip and reminded myself of my task.

I stood up and knelt one knee on the bench beside Nicholas, leaning down to speak into his ear with one hand on his back.

“Are you ready, not-so-little sub?”

He hung his head, took a deep breath, then replied. “Yes, Mistress.”

Ooh, I liked the sound of that. A little thrill ran through me when he said that. Deeply satisfied, I ran my hand down his back, caressing him, until I felt his shirt end and his bare skin lay under my palm. I pulled his shirt-tail up out of the way, letting it bunch up around his waist, and following the cue from when our positions had been reversed, rubbed his right cheek in a circular motion, preparing him.

“How many spanks do you think you deserve, my sub?”

“As many as Mistress deems appropriate.”

“Good boy.”

I spanked him.

He barely flinched, but oh wow, my palm stung. I ignored the pain, rubbed his cheek, and then spanked the left one. Again, I really felt that in my hand, while he hardly seemed to notice. I didn’t even see much redness on his bottom, just the barest impression. I gave him two more swats, one to each cheek, in fairly quick succession, and then I had to stop.

My hand was on fire. Something was not right in this scenario.

I stood there a minute, shaking out my wrist, until I noticed him looking over his shoulder back at me, a gleam of laughter in his eye.

“Is something wrong, Mistress? Have we begun yet?”

Olivia Finds Her Hot Button

[This is the fourth excerpt from my work-in-progress novel, tentatively titled Switch. Before continuing, you may want to go back and see the earlier excerpts at In Which We Meet Olivia and Say Goodbye to PaulSecond Chances, and Second Chances (continued). After a disastrous attempt at figuring out if she’s into kinkier things with an ex-boyfriend, Olivia visits a local club that offers lessons. There she meets one of the instructors and is more than intrigued by the contrast he offers to her ex, but his calm detachment and polite refusal of her advances confuses her. In this scene, she has returned to the club for a second visit and decided to join, only to find a class has just finished (always a day late, that’s our Olivia).]

Embed from Getty Images

 

Nicholas noticed me looking around and leaned down to whisper in my ear, “Would you like to see some of what we were doing in class?”

Again, my heart caught in my throat. What had they been doing in class? Something about rope-work. Well, my imagination could run wild with that. Obviously somebody was getting tied up, or tied down, or something.

“Yes, please.”

He waited. I just looked at him quizzically. Finally, he said, “Yes, please,…?”

I was thoroughly confused, and that must have shown on my face. He relented and said “Yes, please, Sir.

Oh.

Right. That. I had so much to learn.

He was still looking at me expectantly.

“Yes, please, Sir,” I said.

He grinned. “I think that’s another five swats added to your punishment, wouldn’t you agree?”

Ok, now we were talking! He could take me from aggravated to confused to relieved to absolutely drop-dead hot in a matter of moments.

“My my, little Olivia, I do think we’ve found a hot button for you. Do you even realize how much your whole demeanor changed when I mentioned swatting you and punishment?”

Was my heart ever going to slow down to a normal pace again? He leaned down close and whispered in my ear, “I’m going to spank you.”

I’m fairly sure I squeaked.

Embed from Getty Images

Switch: Second Chances (continued)

[This is the third excerpt from Switch. If you haven’t been following along, I recommend reading the earlier segments: In Which We Meet Olivia and Say Goodbye to Paul and Second Chances.]

Embed from Getty Images

 

Paul still looked a little uncertain, but he didn’t think about it too long. He started pulling off his shirt, perhaps a little too eagerly, as he got himself stuck with his arms bound up in it behind his back. For a moment I thought of keeping him there, like that, and I had a brief frisson of excitement race through me, from a point between my breasts right down between my legs. The moment passed, however, and I just giggled a bit, turning away and climbing up onto the bed. I reached over to the nightstand and pulled out the handcuffs.

Paul’s eyes fairly goggled when he saw them, and he stopped in his tracks.

“Um, what’s up with those?”

I grinned over my shoulder at him as I threaded them through the slats in the headboard.

“An idea I had. Come on.”

He seemed really uncertain about it all, as I put first one wrist in a cuff, snapping it closed, and then my other. When that second one clicked into place, it passed quickly through my mind, What the hell am I doing? I didn’t let that stop me, however. Facing him again over my shoulder, my upturned ass in the air as I kneeled on the bed, resting my elbows on the pillows, I smiled, not at all as sure of myself as I tried to sound.

“I want you to spank me.”

Poor Paul. Now he really had that deer in headlights look, his shirt hanging from one wrist, his fly unzipped, standing there in shock.

“Spank you?”

“Yes, that’s right, I want you to spank me. I told you I wanted to try something different. Come on, it’ll be fun. Anyway, it’s an experiment.”

“I don’t know, Olivia. I mean, what if I hurt you? Are you sure about this?”

I heaved an exasperated sigh.

“Paul, get your ass up here on this bed, and spank me!”

His eyes grew even wider, if that were possible, but he finally got himself fully untangled from his shirt, kicked off his shoes and, still wearing his half-unzipped pants, climbed up onto the bed behind me. I wiggled my bare derriere at him and giggled again, although inside my heart was pounding something fierce and I could feel the heat of a blush spreading across my face and chest. I tugged on the cuffs experimentally, and yes, they held, very securely.

He put a hand on one of my butt-cheeks, and I liked that, so I wiggled again to encourage him.

“What are the handcuffs for? And when did you get those? Did you have those before?”

“I just got them, and I don’t know, it’s just an idea I had. I thought it’d be fun. Now come on, get busy!”

He lifted his hand, hovered over me with it for a moment, then sort of softly whacked me.

“Harder!”

He smacked me again, very slightly harder this time, but still very tentative.

“Did that hurt? I didn’t hurt you, did I?”

“Paul, I’m not a baby, and you barely tapped me. It’s supposed to sting a little, isn’t it? It’s a spanking. Come on, spank me harder.”

“Can’t we just make love like normal?”

I sighed. So far, this experiment was a bust.

“Paul, please, can we just try it?”

He hit me one more time, no harder than before. Nothing. I was not aroused. I wasn’t turned on. This wasn’t working for me.

“I’m sorry, Olivia, I just don’t know. I don’t think this is right.”

He climbed off the bed and stood there, looking at me. Obviously it wasn’t working for him, either. He zipped up his fly, stepped into his shoes, and picked up his shirt.

“I don’t think I can do this, Olivia. I’m sorry. I’ve gotta go.”

I stared open-mouthed at him in shock.

“Go? Now?”

“Yeah. Maybe you were right the other night at dinner. I mean about us not being right for each other. Anyway, see you around, perhaps, ok?”

And with that, he walked out of the room.

“Paul!”

I heard the front door shut behind him as he left the apartment.

“Paul, dammit!”

I rattled the cuffs. I looked over at the nightstand, at the closed top drawer. The drawer I’d gotten them from. The drawer where the key sat.

Now what the hell was I going to do?

Embed from Getty Images

Second Chances

That evening, Paul arrived, flowers in hand, scrubbed and clean. Clearly he was going the extra mile. I told you he was a nice guy.

I met him at the door to my apartment, and as we stood there in the doorway awkwardly, I had a serious moment of doubt. What was he going to think of me? Oh well, he was here now, so I had better at least let him in. Maybe I could just pour some wine and drop the whole idea, just spend a relaxing evening, watching a movie or something.

No, that wasn’t going to work. The basic problem still existed, still needed to be solved, and besides, I had dumped this guy once already. Either we tried something different or the whole exercise was pointless. Going on as we did before was not an option for me.

Well, the wine was still a good idea. I was pretty nervous.

“Hi.”

He smiled broadly. “Hi. I, um, brought you these.” He handed me the flowers. I smiled and opened the door wider, ushering him into the living room of my tiny Queen Anne apartment. I nodded over at the bottle on the dining table.

“Pour us each a glass while I get these into some water.”

I pulled a vase out of a kitchen cabinet, filled it with water, cut the ends of the stems, and put the flowers into the vase. When I turned around, Paul had gotten the cork out of the pinot noir and was just pouring the second glass.

“We should let these breathe a little first,” he said.

I picked up one of the glasses and took a healthy swig. Paul just looked at me.

“What? The rest of it will breathe. I needed that now.”

“Are you ok, Olivia?”

“Why?”

“I don’t know, you just seem a little edgy.”

I took a second drink from my glass and looked him in the eye. How the hell was I supposed to do this? Well, only one way to find out if it was going to work.

“Come with me,” I said, then pointed at the bottle. “And bring that.”

Paul picked up the bottle and followed me into the bedroom. Now he was drinking from his glass, too.

“Um, Olivia? Are we even going to talk about, you know, the other night?”

I couldn’t quite meet his eye, so I just started unbuttoning my blouse. His eyes went wide and he opened his mouth but no further words came out. Having sort of thought this through earlier, although whatever plan I’d had was already shot to hell, I wasn’t wearing a bra. When I got the last button undone, I hesitated a moment, though why was beyond me. I mean, it wasn’t like we hadn’t already done it. He had definitely seen me naked before. Why was I so nervous now?

Before I could back out of it, I pulled the blouse open wide and slipped it off my shoulders. Paul’s gaze was firmly on my breasts now, the wine bottle in one hand and glass in the other all but forgotten. I blushed again, the heat spreading across the tops of my breasts, up my neck and onto my face, but I don’t think he even noticed. Moving quickly, nothing especially seductive about it, I shimmied out of my skirt and tugged my panties down. I stepped out of my heels, which frankly I had only put on for greeting him — I don’t usually bother wearing shoes inside the apartment — and stood there before him, naked as the day I was born, blushing even brighter red.

He didn’t say anything. His mouth was still open, and I wasn’t sure if he was shocked or excited. He was definitely surprised. I reached for my glass again and finished it off, then took the bottle from him, refilled my glass, and set the bottle on the nightstand.

“Well?” I said. “Are you just going to stand there?”

Embed from Getty Images

In Which We Meet Olivia and Say Goodbye to Paul

“I’m sorry.  Really, it’s not you, it’s me.”

And with those classic words, I saw his face crumple into disappointment.  I hated to do it to him, but what choice did I have?

We were sitting in Pasta Bella, talking over linguine and Montepulciano, and I had decided, somewhat impulsively, that now was the time to end it.  Paul was a genuinely nice guy, in fact I rather liked him, which is why we had been dating for two months now.  But the oomph just wasn’t there for me.

“What…  but why?  I thought everything was going so well?”

My heart sank, as I saw him sink into sadness.

“Paul,” I started, marshaling my words, “I don’t mean to hurt you.  Really, I like you quite a lot, and in other circumstances…”

He wasn’t buying it, I could tell.  He sat there, crushed, looking down into his pasta, taking a gulp of his wine.

“I wish it was working better, really I do, but I just need something… different.”

“Different.  I can be different.  Different how?”

Ok, now he was getting desperate, and I don’t know about you, but desperation doesn’t do it for me.  I mean, he wasn’t doing it for me before, but it was only getting worse.

The trouble was, I really couldn’t say exactly what was wrong.  Paul really was a great guy, he was nice, he was romantic, he was attractive and intelligent, really he was everything a girl should want.  Except when we were together, I wanted… more.  Well, maybe not more, but not what he was offering.

Before Paul, it was the same with Steve, and before Steve, there was Mike.  All of them great guys — I don’t date losers, after all — but in the end something was always missing.

I couldn’t put my finger on it, but even I could see the common element here.

Me.

So, I meant it when I said it wasn’t him, though clearly he didn’t believe me.  I mean, who would?  It’s such a trite line.  But really, I needed to discover what the hell was wrong with me, that I couldn’t find what I’m looking for in not just one, or two, but any man I dated.  What was I looking for?  Hell if I knew.

A dozen different thoughts flitted through my brain in the brief moment from Paul’s question as I thought of an answer I could give him, an answer I could give myself.  Was I a lesbian and just didn’t know it?  Hmm… well, no, I didn’t think so.  I mean, I find men attractive enough, no question there.  Paul, for instance…  ah, but I’m distracting myself.  Maybe my libido is just suppressed?  I’ve heard there are treatments for that, but really, if my dreams at night are anything to go by, I don’t think it’s a problem with my libido.  I mean, I can get hot.

So, what was it?  What could I tell this man, who so earnestly tried to make me feel good?

That he’s a lousy lover?  I wasn’t even sure that was true.  Yes, it’s true that our lovemaking didn’t satisfy me, but empirically I couldn’t put a finger on anything that Paul did wrong.  He was attentive, he seemed to really be into it, he tried his best to satisfy me, but somehow it just… didn’t.

It kept coming back to me.  I was the problem.