Soul Cages

(by an4@anon.lelnet.com, 20 May 1998)


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Soul Cages
an4@anon.lelnet.com

   Giles loved a sunny day. Especially when the sun was still low on the horizon
as it was now.
   The sun, after all, cast shadows, and shadows were Giles' trade in stock. It
was an odd ability, to be sure, and not one generally useful. Perhaps in the
old days he would have been able to turn into some sort of freakish side show
skill, but there was better money in editing other people's writing than
telling fortunes based on shadow casting.
   There was a time when people thought shadows were the cages of the soul, that
to trap a person's shadow was to own their souls. Silly idea, but it had
always appealed to Giles, who accepted his little gift without understanding
it in the slightest.
   It was barely five-fifty am, but the parking lot was already filling up. The
small publishing house was having a sort of open house for investors. They'd
discovered that securing outside investors for individual projects was a great
way of stabilising cash flow- true, they made less money, but it was worth the
steady income which came from having someone else front the expenses of
sometimes dubious projects. So they had staff writers and contract writers
coming in early for briefings.
   Belinda Manello climbed out of her RX-7 and smiled at Carla Harkness.
   Giles liked Belinda. She was the sort of writer even an editor could like-
headstrong without being obstinate, passionate about her work without being an
egoist like most of the people he worked with.
   But she didn't smoke. It seemed like such a small thing- it was such a small
thing, but Giles had decided early on in his university days that it was
better not to waste good dating on women who didn't smoke because his eyes-
and his heart, the romantic in him insisted- wandered to the ones who did.
   Perhaps it was, as they termed it, a fetish. So be it.
   Fetish or not, it was part of his personality.
   The sun had broken up over the trees. Marklet Publishing House was lit in the
glory of it, the high glass windows catching the bright orange rays and
painting itself more like a cathedral than a two-story edifice of ground and
polished sand and concrete. All that glass, all that modernist design, managed
somehow to look ancient in the splendor of it.
   Carla's shadow caught his eye first. She was not smoking yet. Unlike many
places in this world, Marklet Publishing was not one of those places where
smokers were forced to huddle outside the building when they wanted to smoke.
   No. Giles, who was an editor by choice but an owner by birth, had changed the
smoking policy the day his father had retired and put him at the helm. Each
office had a sophisticated ventilation system and everyone, from the greenest
administrative assistant to the senior most staff, had their own office. That
was expensive, but then again, money was not a problem these days, not as long
as the investors kept lining up, which they would. Marklet had some fine
novelists on staff, a number of high profile specialty monthlies, some e-
zenes, a DVD group.
   So Carla was not rushing to light a cigarette because she could smoke
whenever she pleased- and she pleased often.
   But as the sun washed across her frame, casting a long shadow behind her, he
saw the cigarette. Not in her hand, but in her shadow hand. She was waving her
left around, punctuating her speech as always with a complicated series of
hand gestures. That was the hand the shadow cigarette appeared in, looking
like a 140 or 160 rather than the Virginia Slims 120s she preferred. Then
again, she herself looked to be about ten foot tall, so there was no surprise
there.
   Belinda laughed at whatever Carla was saying and then stepped away from her
sleek black car. The morning sun caught in her curly auburn hair, back
lighting it spectacularly. She really was beautiful and there was a part of
him which still was amased with the fact that he'd spurned her low-key
advances. most men would have thought him crazy, after all.
   Her shadow seemed to grow as she moved away from the car, like a living
entity stretching itself out as the light interacted with her natural shape.
   And then he saw it. As clearly as anything that he'd ever seen.
   Her right hand was away from her body. The hand was angled upwards, bent at
the wrist, and the first two fingers were further curled upwards, a slight gap
between them, what Giles called `the unconscious hold'. There was no cigarette
in that hand but it was the gesture of a smoker. And that was only the
beginning of it.
   Her shadow hand, long and almost disfigured, was not as empty as her real
hand, and Giles felt a swelling. There it was, not quite as long as the one in
Carla's hand, but undeniable. A cigarette.
   He blinked, sure that wishes and maybe the last vestiges of morning goop was
somehow conspiring to play a strange trick on him. But no, there was no
question.
   She was holding a cigarette.
   Belinda lifted her hand to her mouth, gently stroking her lips, but her
shadow inhaled deeply on the cigarette.
   Shadow smoke soon trailed away from her mouth.
   He was amased.
   There had never been any hint that she was a smoker, and if there was anyone
who he'd wanted to see in this way, it was her. Her young face was round,
sultry, her blue eyes intense. Her breasts were small but pert and her legs
were the sort you expected to see on a model, not a woman of five foot five.
That was just the physical aspect, though.
   Of all the writers he worked with, there were none he'd felt more capable of
making a connection with.
   And yet that barrier had remained- until now.
   Did this change anything ?
   The bulge in his pants told him well enough that yes, it most certainly did.
   She lifted her head slightly and her eyes swung in his direction. His own
eyes, hidden behind the mirrored sunglasses he usually favoured, would not
give him away, but he angled his head to move her out of his line of sight
anyway, as though she might otherwise be able to feel his stare on her.
   He began constructing a plan.

   Belinda looked up at the clock. It was almost two, and she still hadn't had
lunch. The last of the investors who'd specifically wanted to meet her had
just left her small, cramped office.
   A large pile of cigar ash sat in the ashtray on her desk.
   That last investor, a wealthy thirty something from Maine with stunning
blonde hair and a scapel-assisted figure, had smoked almost an entire cigar
over the course of forty-five minutes of discussion about Secularity,
Belinda's first novel. 
   Samantha was actually a very nice woman, considering the obvious way that her
money had changed her. But she was one of those people who fancied herself an
artist rather than actually being one, and she'd evinced no small amasement
that Belinda could come in and sit down at a desk in an office and still call
herself a novelist.
    Not that Samantha was the first person to mention this oddity, but there had
been more than the usual amount of condescension in her attitude. Belinda had
quietly explained that she was actually more productive in a slightly
structured environment, that patronage was nothing new but rather something
old, and that it wasn't a real job since she didn't draw a salary.
   Samantha had then asked a rather thorny question about intellectual property
and who owned hers. Belinda had smiled politely and stated very clearly that
she was bound by contract not to discuss those details with an party which was
not interested in the legal sense.
   The answer had almost made the woman reach for her checkbook as though she
would gladly pay for the privilege.
   But it wasn't the woman's sometimes condescending tone which had driven
Belinda to distraction. It was that cigar.
   She was not a cigar aficionado. She'd seen an idea in a business journal
recently for a fine restaurant in New York. Lauren Hutton had been the focus
of the ad, as she was a recent satisfied patron. She was wearing a well-
tailored dark woman's business suit and holding a larger ring cigar in her
right hand. Somehow the affect was not to masculinise her, but rather feminise
the cigar. Belinda had been intrigued because of a recent change in her own
lifestyle, but not intrigued to that degree.
   Still, the constant presence of fine cigar smoke- and Samantha's taste in
cigars obviously ran to the expensive, Belinda was sure- had made her crave a
cigarette in the worst way. 
   And she couldn't have one.
   Well, that wasn't true. She could have easily had one, and Samantha would not
have minded in the least, but someone else might have seen her and-
   She was ashamed of the fact that she'd started smoking.
   It didn't make sense. Her parents were devout non-smokers, her younger sister
Emily had never, as far as she knew, even tried one, and most of her friends
outside of work were also non-smokers.
   Except for Lisa. She'd been out last Friday night with Lisa and they'd both
gotten quite drunk on tequila, what with Lisa's friend Scott providing the
designated driving duties. Around midnight Lisa had finally talked her into
trying a cigarette after what had been eight years of consistent and concerted
effort and now-
   That was a week ago. She'd smoked four- or was it five- cigarettes before the
bar had closed, bought a pack the next morning, and another one Monday.
   And another one Wednesday.
   And one this morning, although it had yet to be opened.
   Nothing else had changed. She still ran in the morning before work, still
rode her bike when she came home in the evening, but she was also smoking, no
less than half a pack a day.
   Most of the people at Marklet smoked. In fact, she understood that Giles
Marklet had instituted a pro-smoking policy when he took over from his father,
even though he himself only rarely indulged in a cigar. But Belinda was one of
the `nons', or nuns as the smokers jokingly called them. Not with a passion,
and there was little dissension among the staff between the two groups- she
thought that Giles' policy had probably prevented a lot of that.
   Yet despite the absence of that usual workplace division, Belinda felt as
though she didn't want these people to know. Didn't want the nuns to know that
she'd given up her vows, she thought, giggling mildly.
   She lifted the sleeve of her sweater to her nose. It was thick with cigar
smoke, but she welcomed the smell even though it was a dry-clean only. Yes,
she'd be able to sneak off to lunch somewhere, some quiet place with a smoking
section, and indulge herself without anyone being the least bit wiser.
   Just as soon as she visited the ladies room. As usually was the case when she
got stuck in a long meeting, the litre of water she drank after her run every
morning had come back to haunt her in the most devilish way. She stood up,
looking longingly at her purse as though she had x-ray vision and could see
the cigarettes waiting for her inside.
   "I shouldn't be ashamed," she reminded herself.
   But she was.

   Giles came around the corner just in time to see Belinda's retreating back.
Judging by the awkward cadence of her walk, she was headed for the bathroom.
He had been intending to congratulate her- Samantha Reynolds had signed up to
be the primary sponsor for Belinda's latest novel, which might or might one
day be titled Brimstone.
   But this was just as well. He had his curiosity, and while what he was about
to do was nothing short of downright evil, he was going to do it. He slipped
into her office unnoticed, hoping Belinda was not one of those women who
needed to cart their purse into the bathroom just to answer nature's call.
   She was not. The purse was lying there on the corner of her desk and the
clasp which held it closed was undone. All he had to do-
   He settled down in her chair and lifted the flap back, hoping against hope to
see a certain rectangular something inside.
   There was no disappointment. The words Marlboro Lights 100, covered by that
strange cigarette wrap plastic, stared back at him. He also saw a white
disposable lighter.
   When had this happened ?
   What was important was not when, but that it had happened at all.

   Belinda started when she entered her office and saw Giles sitting there, his
back to her.
   One of the things she liked about Giles was that he wasn't like a lot of
owner-types. He didn't come into your office when you weren't there and plop
himself in your chair, start playing with your Mac or reading your hard copy.
He sat down on the far side of the desk and waited, showing more consideration
than many of her co-workers, who were pretty damn loutish when it came to
issues of privacy.
   "What can I do for your, Giles ?"
   "I wanted to congratulate you on having such a positive influence on
Samantha. She came on board today."
   As Belinda sat down, Giles caught the guilty glance at her purse and inside
her frowned. So she was a smoker- but she wasn't comfortable with it yet, was
she ?
   "Thanks. I think that means more to you than me, but I'm glad. She seems nice
enough, I guess. Um, she was the last person I was supposed to meet, so I was
thinking of heading out to lunch."
   "This is a catered affair, Belinda," Giles said with a smile.
   "Yeah. Chicken curry, braised veal medallions, mini-hot dogs- I'm a
vegetarian, remember ?"
   "They do have a monkfish filet."
   "Monkfish makes me break out-" Belinda said, lying mildly.
   "Actually, the food's not that great, and I'm a little tired of the buffet
scene. How about I treat you to lunch ?"
   Inside, Belinda groaned. She couldn't very well say no- especially since
she'd asked Giles out on several occasions only to be brushed off without
losing interest.
   But she wanted to smoke, and that wasn't going to happen now. Was that so
much to ask ?
   She supposed that it was, quite simply, too much to ask. Somehow that seemed
horribly unfair and for the first time she could remember she found herself
actually resenting the first man who'd thought her worthy of a  job. Not, she
reminded herself in the same way that she'd reminded Samantha not so long ago,
that this was a job.
   Still.
   "Of course, Giles. Where are thinking of ?"
   "How about Roxanne's ?"
   That alone was enough to take some of the sting out of the proposal.
   
   They were cruising down the highway in Giles' Celica convertible. It was
hardly a practical car- the winters here in Moreyville were not exactly the
convertible sort, but Giles had wanted it, so he had it the same way that he a
Powerbook G3/292, one of the first past the prototypes. He was on the cell
phone, getting a table for two.
   Belinda turned to look at him just as he said `Smoking, please.'
   She thought about that. Maybe he was planning to have one of his victory
cigars. Rubbing salt in her unknown wound.
   "You going to light up one of those cigars of yours to celebrate all the
contracts you've signed today ?" Belinda asked, trying to keep the
disappointment out of her voice.
   "No. Well, yes, probably. I just thought that you'd want to be able to smoke
during lunch."
   "Didn't you know I'm one of the nuns ?"
   "Nuns ?" Giles asked, as though he didn't know exactly what that meant.
   "Yeah. The nuns. The non-smokers. It's a little nickname they've given the
minority of us who don't smoke at Marklet."
   "You know, I'm just dying for a cigarette right now. I usually smoke cigars,
but every once in a while, I want a cigarette, and this is one of those times.
It's really a shame that you're a nun. I suppose that I'll have to stop and
buy a pack on the way to the restaurant."
   Belinda considered admitting that she had an unopened pack in her purse.
Thought about what that would entail. The doors that would be opened.
   And closed.
   "Too bad there isn't anyplace convenient to stop along the way. I'll have to
get off the highway at the next exit and-"
   He paused deliberately, looking at her, and she began to wonder exactly what
was going on here. The  way he was watching her, as if he expected her to say
`Oh wait, I have cigarettes in my purse.'
   She reached up and pulled down the mirror to see what the wind was doing to
her hair. As she did, the sun flashed across the back of her hand and he saw
the shadow very clearly on the visor. It was holding an impossibly shadow
cigarette. Not that he was surprised now. No, the first one had showed him the
way and it was just a  question of whether she would be honest with him now.
   The look of guilt on her face was deliciously simple.
   He wanted her so much to give in to him, and not just because she was
gorgeous right now with the wind whipping her hair back and her cheeks
reddening in the gust.
   No, he wanted her to admit that she was a smoker for herself, although he had
his doubts that she really had the nerve for it.
   The exasperation in her sigh was cute.
   "You don't have to get off."
   He looked at her, a quizzical grin on her face, and she realised, abashed,
that the statement she'd just made needed some serious qualification.
   "The highway, Giles. You don't have to get off the highway. I have a pack of
cigarettes in my purse- as if you didn't know."
   "Didn't know what ?"
   Belinda's ire seemed to have been raised somehow and Giles wondered if he had
miscalculated. He'd never violated a woman's purse before and he wasn't sure
if maybe a man developed some sort of palpable stink after violating a woman
in such a basic way. It was as bad, he supposed, as her reading his email, or
worse, rifling through the sorted newsgroups like alt.smokers.glamour that he
subscribed to.
   "Didn't know that I had a pack of cigarettes in my purse, silly !"
   She was angry but she was also being flirtatious and something besides his
heart swelled slightly.
   "How would I know. You said that you didn't smoke."
   "You acted like you knew I was lying," Belinda said defensively.
   "I did," he answered, deciding that playing the lying game wasn't the game he
wanted.
   "How ?" she demanded to know.
   "Light me one of those and maybe I'll tell you."
   She already had the pack in her hands. She was undoing the wrapping with one
hand and searching for her lighter with the other. Giles wondered if her
excitement was match for his, imagined that it might well be. She had looked
so disappointed when he'd suggested lunch. Of course, that was because she had
lost a chance to smoke.
   But she appeared a little ambivalent about getting it back again. So she was
a closet smoker.
   That much better.
   She moved a single cigarette to her mouth.
   "I'm serious, Belinda. I want one, too."
   As she spoke the unlit cigarette bounced up and down in an attractive way.
   "This is for you."
   "You're not going to tell me that you're going to light one for me and not
one for yourself."
   Belinda smiled. "I've never lit two cigarettes at once."
   "Give it a try."
   Her initial embarrassment was fading. Giles was so openly encouraging of her
smoking that-
   Well, it was fun, really. She lifted a second cigarette from the pack, placed
it in her mouth as well, hunched down out of the wind, and lit them both. A
thick cloud of smoke welled  from her nose as she exhaled the extra smoke. She
quickly plucked both cigarettes from her mouth and handed him one.
   "I hope you don't mind a little saliva-"

   Giles lifted his head. It turned out that Belinda was even more gorgeous
naked than she had been clothed. Although some initial shyness about her
smoking had remained- they'd been in the restaurant almost fifteen minutes
before she'd worked up the nerve to light her first cigarette- she seemed much
more comfortable here in the privacy of her own house.
   He'd been surprised to find an ashtray in every room. It turned out that she
was living a strange double life, being a nun at work and smoking most of the
night when she came home. She'd told him that she regularly smoked half a pack
in the evening, although having been at the habit such a short time, she
wasn't sure that would last.
   Giles had told her in no uncertain terms that she had better not.
   Certainly she was comfortable now. She'd just lit a long white cigarette and
was drawing on it seductively as he prepared to go down on her.
   "I hope you don't mind a little saliva."
   She giggled in a very appropriate way, inhaled deeply, and managed to send a
long stream of smoke down the length of her body. It crashed into him and he
went to work, patient, almost loving. He could see her smoking, but he could
hear her and imagine in in his mind's eye. He began rotating his hips as he
continued to pleasure her, making himself hard as he drew her close to climax.
When she was close she reached down with her free hand and pulled him up.
   Slipping inside her, he watched her light another cigarette as he arched his
back so that he would be able to take it all in. The inhale was perfect, the
strangely deep inhale of a woman who had accepted that she was now a smoker.
The smoke poured from her lips and nose, that perfectly pert nose which was a
fitting vessel for the smoke she had held in her lungs. Her eyes spoke of the
enjoyment of it and her body changed pitch as she inhaled again, her breasts
expanding as she pulled on the cigarette.
   The bedroom was thick with her smoke yet still somehow clean, and Giles knew
that when this was over he would gladly lie next to her until she wanted to
get up the next morning.
   "I hope you're planning on starting to smoke at work, Belinda," he said
breathlessly.
   "I'm not sure that's the best thing. You might be distracted."
   "I'm going to be distracted every time I see you."
   "How did you know ?" she asked again, for the fifth or sixth time. But right
then he came and she climaxed, and he was able to put it off.
   For about five minutes.

   Giles was sitting in his office, watching the cars pull in to the lot. Like
most Monday mornings, people were straggling in somewhat slowly. There was
Belinda. She got out of the RX-7, cigarette in hand.
   That was the good news.
   The bad news was that he'd told her the truth, told her how he knew.
   Not the bit about the purse, of course. That would have been just plain
stupid. But he had  told her about the shadow and how that was what had tipped
him off. She laid back in the bed, drew deeply on cigarette, looked at him as
though she'd just discovered that he was some bizarre alien life form, and
then- very politely- asked him to leave.
   She hadn't returned his calls. She hadn't been home when he'd stopped by, or
she'd hidden her car somewhere and refused to answer the door for him.
   So much for office romances.
   His administrative assistant wasn't in yet- in fact, she wasn't coming in all
day- so it was no surprise when a young woman with jamaican blue eyes and a
very serious look simply walked into his office without being announced.
Marklet was a place which rested on formality, and the woman was at least
attractive in an haunting sort of way.
   "Can I help you, or are you just roaming the building aimlessly ?"
   There was the hint of a smile in her eyes, but that was all. there was no
warmth there, no indication of what he called `good old human feeling.' No,
those eyes were pretty, but they were orbs, no more capable of holding the
essence of a soul than a person's shadow.
   "My name is Angel," the woman said, stepping forward. Without any sort of
preamble, she reached out, turned on the reading lamp perched at the corner of
his desk, and put her hand underneath. The shadow cast on the desk was not
distorted in any way. At first he saw nothing unusual, but then she curled the
fingers- just the first two, and he saw it. A long cigarette resting between
them. She watched the change as though she could somehow see it herself.
   "You see it, don't you ? It's quite a talent."
   She sat down in the chair opposite the desk. The was an air about her- as
though she'd come here for something and already gotten it. He knew that air
because it was the one he used when he was negotiating contracts. His father
had told him to pretend you already had their money and work from there, which
was good advice.
   What did he have that she would want ?
   Angel wasted no time actually lighting a cigarette, filling his office with
smoke in the space of a single exhale as he tried to quantify what it was that
he did have.
   "It's as useful as a sixth finger or a vestigial tail. But how did you know
?"
   It was absurd, really. No one could know. Belinda was the first person that
he'd told, and he doubted that she'd told anyone.
   Then again-
   He cringed at the thought of what the office gossip would be like if she had
told anyone. Good lord. 
   "How do I know ? Who am I ? What the hell am I doing here ? All excellent
questions. I'd expect nothing less from a n editor. Where's the continuity ?"
   "The thought has crossed my mind."
   She drew deeply on the cigarette, pursed her lips in a becoming way, and
allowed the smoke to sift from her full lips as though it was self-directed.
   "We've been watching you for months now ?"
   "We ?" Giles queried.
   "I work with a group of people to whom smoking is very important. A man like
you- well, you could be very useful."
   Giles frowned, finding the idea absurd. 
   "What, outing celebrity smokers ? Catching schoolgirls for their parents ?"
   Angel reached forward, tapping ash into the crystal. She didn't speak
immediately, but rather smoked for him, the full sensuality of the act well-
played, even if it was, as he suspected, nothing more than a thespian exercise
meant to cloud his judgment.
   What could she possibly want from him ?
   "Have I mentioned that I find this utterly absurd ?"
   "I had a feeling that would. My research indicates that you're a very level-
headed man. But that doesn't change the fact that I- that we- need a man like
you."
   He spread his hands as she drew on her cigarette, the inhale so full that he
found himself almost forgetting about the lesser parts of his encounter with
Belinda. "I have a full time concern here at Marklet, you know." 
   Right now, he knew, he should be reaching for the phone to call the
building's lone security guard. `Hello, there's a lunatic in my office. Would
you be so kind as to come up here ?'
   But his hand made no move towards the phone because-
   A man of his position either learned to judge people quickly or risked
running his business into the ground. Of course, he'd just as recently as
Friday misjudged badly, but that was an aberrance. What his instinct told him
now was that for whatever bizarre reason, this woman was on the level.
Watching her smoke was part of it- she was either insane or she was quite a
friend of the whole smoking movement.
   Still, the idea that anyone could know what it was he saw when the light
played its tricks-
   "I can see you're considering-" Angel said. This was the moment she always
worked for in these situations. There was a certain truth to the potential
that her terse approach would leave this man to merely think she was touched
in some psychological way. But that rarely happened. No, it was better to give
them just a sliver of it, let them glimpse at the tip of the iceberg on which
they all were perched and then feel as though they'd made an important
decision by looking inside themselves.
   She extracted a business card from her purse, opening it wide enough so that
he could see two packs of cigarettes, one open, the other not. Yes, she was a
serious smoker, all right. But how did she know ?
   He understood that she would not tell him, not today, perhaps not ever. For
his purposes, she just knew.
   The card was passed between them.
   `Rue St. Catherine. 13:00, 5 June 98.'
   Under that was a verse. `And there shall be such intense darkness that one
can feel it.'
   "Biblical ?"
   Angel nodded.
   "Revelation ?"
   She smiled, inhaled, released a showy but wonderful nose exhale. "Exodus,
actually. I don't generally have much use for that particular book, but you'll
understand it once you're there."
   "Montreal ?"
   "Yes. Can I count on you ?"
   His smile felt foreign, even to himself.
   "I suppose that I could find business across the border. Too bad the Habs are
out of the playoffs-"
   The wryness of her own grin was frightening.
   "There'll be little time for pleasure- so you'd be best to get that in now.
I'll be going. I believe that someone wants to apologise to you."
   Just then, Belinda stuck her head around the door, and without further
conversation, Angel was gone.
   Immediately Giles was suspicious that they knew one another, that Belinda had
told this strange woman about his- his gift.
   But the look Belinda gave her as she passed by quelled that notion. There was
blank incomprehension in her eyes, and as the two woman were drawn even, she
shrunk back slightly, as though somehow repulsed by Angel's mere presence. For
her part, Angel flashed a knowing smile that was at once with and without
recognition.
   "Do you mind if I close the door ?" Belinda asked.
   Giles shook his head without speaking. The truth be told, he was angry with
her. The sex had been glorious. No, that was not right. The lovemaking had
been glorious.
   The post coital conversation had not been up to snuff. He wasn't used to
being kicked out of the bedroom after sex.
   "I want to apologise for wigging out on you Friday."
   "No apology necessary."
   Belinda sat down in the chair and paused to light a cigarette. She used a
match to catch her light. Giles liked that. It lengthened the experience.
There was nothing quite like watching a woman light a match, move that flame
to the tip of the cigarette. It gave the watcher time to savour the
experience. It also meant that the smoker usually held the cigarette in her
mouth longer, until the match had first been extinguished. Yes, he liked that
very much indeed.
   "I do need to apologise. I asked you to be honest and you were. So you can
tell by a woman's shadow whether or not she smokes. Sure, that's a little
weird, but-"
   "But not weird enough ?" he said as she blew smoke at him.
   She stood up, walked around the corner of the desk, and without invitation,
kissed him so hard he started to wish he'd brought extra underwear to work.
   That wish was only intensified when she reached down to his crotch and began
rubbing him passionately.
   They broke the smoky kiss and as she inhaled again, he asked her if she'd
like to go for a long weekend in Montreal.
   Belinda didn't answer him. Instead, she drew more smoke into her lungs,
kissing him again as her hand worked its patient magic. He couldn't find the
erection, but he did try to fight the ejaculation, which only made her more
insistent.
   "I'll come if you will," she said as they broke that second kiss, and when
she put it that way, as he thought about how wonderful it would be to have her
sitting next to him in his car for five hours, smoking the whole time, he was
more than happy to oblige.

   
   




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