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People drifted along the streets of New York, their faces impassive, phones to their ears or the buds of their headphones snugly tucked into those ears. Ignoring the massive amounts of people around was an art in the city, and one most people perfected quickly out of a sense of self-preservation.
That was what Lillian Mills was thinking as she strolled toward the massive bookstore on Third. That being ignored and ignoring people was some kind of defense system against the utter magnitude of people.
It was no wonder getting a date was so damn hard. Never mind that fifty-five was hardly the optimal time to start dating again. There were just far too many people in the city, how was she ever supposed to find a single man—and not just single as in just one, but single as in unattached and ready to date—in a place so crowded that the only way to make it through the day was to pull on the blinders, keep her mouth shut, and make sure she was too busy with a cell or a…what the hell did they call those things anyway?
Devices. That would do.
Whatever someone could listen to or watch as they walked down the street. A device someone could listen to or watch as they headed down the crowded streets and long stretches of avenues.
Even if she was inclined to try to strike up a conversation how could she? The man in the blue suit walking beside her was her age or maybe just a few years older. His leather briefcase swung by one tailored pant leg and he spoke in a near-shout to whoever was on the other end of the phone. His walk was brisk and his shoulders very square. He had a handsome face, yes, but he also had the air of someone who would flip her the bird or walk faster if she dared to try to break in on his silence with a hello or how are you.
Sighing to herself she turned and then headed upward again. Oh well, at least there were always books.
The shelves out in front and along the sides of the store made Lillian smile. There was always a sale and she knew it but the sight of one never ceased to excite her and make her feet move a little faster. One never knew what one might find on the shelves after all. Sometimes it was a bunch of things she would never read and sometimes it seemed there was a treasure trove of authors just waiting to be discovered or old favorites meant to be revisited sitting there, marked down to a dollar or two through no fault of their own, surely.
Lillian got to one shelf just ahead of a group of bored-looking tourists who were busy exclaiming about the bookstore’s historic value, something she personally cared very little about. Visitors always declared themselves in envy of people who lived in the city but she doubted they had ever had to deal with the crazy bidding wars and high rents or purchase prices, not to mention often hellish commutes, city dwellers had to contend with a on a daily basis.
The tourists were in a small pack. Three older and very bored-looking teens, a younger sibling, and two harried parents toting bags emblazoned with designer names and cameras.
Lillian slid to one side as the backpack one teen was wearing careened into her back. It would do no good to say anything. The young man would just chalk her up as another rude New Yorker. Never mind his rudeness in hitting her with his stupid backpack. Why the hell did so many tourists carry those things anyway? There was nothing they might need that they could not buy right there on the streets for God’s sake and maybe the people who lived in the city would not be so grumpy if they weren’t always getting whacked in the face or back with some heavy backpack.
The boy who’d hit her backed up from the curb and stared resolutely across the street at something. His mother hissed a warning and he stepped backwards without even looking. His backpack collided with the shoulders of a man heading toward the shelves.
“Watch it goddammit.”
The words came out on a rich baritone growl. “I don’t what the hell you’re toting in there, bricks or something maybe, but if you hit me with it again…”
“Roger!” the clearly alarmed mother grabbed the perpetrator with one hand, her youngest with the other and began marching down the street. The father and other kids followed her outraged figure. Lillian stifled a laugh.
Blue eyes met her brown ones. He gave her an affable little nod. “I know it was rude but I’m tired of being run over by those tourists.”
She nodded, “I was just thinking the same thing and I don’t blame you. He hit me with it too and it really did feel like he’d packed bricks in there.”
His smile got wider. “What are you looking for?”
She looked back at the shelves and pressed her lips closed over the words, “A date,” that wanted to come barreling out of his mouth. “Oh I don’t know. I have my favorites. Joyce, Chaucer. Stephen King and Nora Roberts.”
“That’s pretty eclectic.” There was an undercurrent of amusement in his tone.
She grinned. “I was going to throw a few more in there but, you know.”
His chuckle was warm and rich like hot fudge. His canlı bahis şirketleri hair was a dark brown shot through with silver and, best of all, he didn’t have a phone or anything else stuck to his ears.
They began to peruse the shelves. The warm sunshine drifted down from the sky and the tops of the buildings. He spoke again, very softly. “I’ve seen you here before I think.”
Her smile was genuine. “I come a lot. I may have seen you as well.” She wasn’t sure but it was possible after all.
He gave her another of those warm smiles. The little nets of wrinkles around his eyes deepened when he smiled and a throb hit her heart. “I’m Charlie.”
He held out a hand and she took it. “Lillian. It’s nice to meet you.”
Back to browsing. Lillian hadn’t missed his empty fingers or the way his hand made a little thrill shoot through her. She cleared her throat. “You live in the city I take it?”
“I do. In Yorkville.”
“Oh! That’s my neighborhood. I will admit I considered moving when they started construction on the subway.”
He nodded. “I did too but I have a rent control apartment and a landlord who’s been trying to get me out for twenty years. I stay on for sheer spite at this point.”
Her laughter was deep, from the belly. “I have to admit it, if my husband and I hadn’t bought back in the eighties when they were first converting our place into a co-op I’d be struggling to find a rent control place as we speak. I can’t believe how much rent’s gone up!”
“You’re married?” The disappointment in his voice made her heart skip a beat. “I’m a widow. As of three years ago.”
Three very long years. Most of her friends had drifted away to Florida over the last few years, there or some other warm weather haven for retires that she was sure she would be bored utterly senseless in.
“I understand.” His voice was slightly gruff. “I lost my wife eighteen months ago.”
The shared experience hung between them. She asked, softly, “So you’re alone now?”
He scratched his head. “Yes. Well, except for that goddamn cat.”
Lillian blinked. “You have a cat?”
He laughed again. “No, I have a courtyard at my place, a tiny little thing, and there’s this cat that lives back there. I gave up trying to run it off years ago because it, like me, stays on just to be spiteful.”
“I like cats.” She did, she just hadn’t gotten around to getting one after the last one had passed away a few years before her husband had. She decided to change the subject. “Are you still working?”
He nodded. “I am. I’m a professor up at Columbia. How about you?”
“I’m a nurse.”
“So still working.”
“Absolutely. I love my job. They’ll have to wheel me from the floor to the morgue I guess. Sorry, that was gruesome. Nurse’s joke.”
He chuckled again. “Not so very gruesome. I teach microbiology and virology. I have seen things that would blind the average person.”
They stood there. Lillian didn’t quite know what else to say, or what to do. She was interested and hoping he could see that but she had long since forgotten how to go on a date, or read the signals from a man.
She’d married at twenty-three and that had been decades ago. Was he interested in her? Had she said the wrong thing in their conversation?
Charles cleared his throat. “I hate to lunch alone and it’s a great day for lunch. Being Sunday and all.”
She spoke so fast her tongue tripped over the words. “It’s a great day for lunch.”
His face lost the slightly worried cast it had taken on. “It absolutely is. Please tell me you aren’t a vegan or gluten-free or following whatever bizarre lifestyle foods thing that’s popular right now.”
Lillian shook her head. A strand of her blonde hair floated free of the knot she’d pulled it up into earlier. “I believe bacon is a viable food group, hate green drinks, and once ate an entire Dutch apple pie and a carton of black walnut ice cream. By myself.”
His smile held delight. “You’re a rebel then.”
“I am.” Her giggle was out of her mouth before she could stop it. “Is that a bad thing?”
“Only if we get spotted by some of the above named folks while eating.”
“I know a really great place. It’s off Canal.”
He said, “Lead on.”
He took her arm when she went to navigate around the shelves. The courtly little gesture warmed her heart.
They set off walking and she found herself laughing and talking with Charles like she’d known him forever. They had a lot in common, and not just what they did for a living. They both loved Off-Off-Broadway theatre, and they both loved baseball and books. They shared the same taste in music too and she was smiling as they finally decided to board the bus to make the last leg of the journey. On the bus he stood and insisted she take a seat. For a few minutes, as they headed down toward Canal, Lillian felt almost like she had when she had first come to the city so many years ago and first started dating.
There was a world of possibilities opening up around canlı kaçak iddaa her. She was happier than she had been in a long time. She had some friends left and she still had some things she was attached to—dance groups and so forth—but she had missed feeling a real connection with another human being.
Charles made her feel like she was pretty just because his eyes stayed on her face while he spoke to her. She caught a glimpse of her reflection in the glass and was a little surprised by the warm color in her cheeks and the shine in her eyes.
She found herself grateful for having put on the pretty blue silk blouse and the nice jeans that morning, and for having taken a little timer to put on some mascara and gloss. The little jet of perfume she’d sprayed on had faded to just a light little whiff of floral scent now but she knew that he could smell it and when he leaned closer then murmured, “My God that smells nice,” then backed away hastily she was thrilled.
The bus had emptied out and he took a seat next to her and added, “Don’t think I’m weird for smelling your perfume please. I have to admit I’m rusty with this kind of thing.”
Her head bobbed up and down. “Me too.”
He gave her hand a squeeze, “Well, thanks for helping make to knock the rust off.”
Her grin stayed in place all the way to the restaurant.
Lillian paced the floors of her apartment a few nights later. The lunch with Charles had gone very well and they’d exchanged phone numbers as they’d stood in front of his building, which was closer to the subway than hers. He offered to walk her home but she said no firmly, she wanted to walk a little and just revel in the fact that she had done it. She’d gone on a date! Besides she had noticed his slight limp and while he’d sworn it didn’t hurt she was sure that his leg was aching a good bit by the time they made it all the way back to the Upper East Side.
He’d had to work the next few days and she had been working second shift so their schedules had conflicted quite a bit but they’d finally nailed down a day they were both off and they’d agreed to have dinner and go to see a show. Lillian’s heart was in her throat as she went to the bedroom to peek in the mirror again, smoother hair again, and agonize over whether or not the light green silk dress, and the small strappy heels she wore were just too much. Maybe she should wear the little black number and some different shoes, put on a jacket to cover the low back and necklines of the dress.
It was a perfectly nice dress, one she had worm on similar outings, but would Charles think she was a horny old lady when he saw the flesh of her bosom rising just above the neckline in a small but visible swell?
“God I hope so.”
The words made her laugh. It was true. She was horny. Fifty-five wasn’t really that old and it was most certainly nowhere near dead. Neither of them were doddering oldsters, and she was definitely aware of how good looking he was, and just how charming too.
He was fifty-eight. Still strong and virile. The leg injury had happened during the same car accident that had taken his wife from him. Otherwise he was in great health and when he had stepped up close to her and gave her a soft but passionate kiss after that lunch she had felt a very male hardness press against her lower body before he’d walked away with a promise to call her.
He had called her. They were going out, and she was a nervous wreck. A nervous horny wreck. How long had it been since she had deliberately set out to seduce a man anyway?
Too long. She probably didn’t even know the moves anymore!
Frustrated and exasperated with her doubt she took a few long breaths and walked slowly back into the living room of her small but pretty apartment. She had fallen in love with the place when she had first seen it, as a young woman, and while the paint and furnishings and even the kitchen had been changed from the way it had been in the years since she truly loved the place still.
But it had an emptiness to it now that Bill was gone. She’d finally gotten around to getting rid of all of his things the year before and that made her sad and glad at once. She was happy enough and she knew it. She didn’t need Charles to automatically fall in love with her and move into the place, she just needed some company.
And some sex. No use in denying it. The vibrator was nice and she was willing to keep using it if things with Charlie didn’t pan out but a vibrator couldn’t talk to her afterward and she missed that too, missed the intimacy and the talk and the cuddling.
Her bell rang. Lillian stiffened, took a nervous breath and cast one more glance around the apartment. Neat and tidy as always. No suspicious looking laundry baskets piled high, no forgotten candy wrappers or books lying about. She headed for the door and opened it then promptly lost her breath.
Charles wore a dark suit with a crisp white shirt below, the long striped tie contrasting perfectly. His thick brown hair was swept back from his forehead canlı kaçak bahis and he held a single and gorgeous white rose. He stared at her, obviously bemused, recovered, and said, “Holy…wow. I …you’re even more gorgeous than you were Sunday. I’m babbling.”
“It’s okay. You look wonderful. Very wonderful.” Edible was the word that had come first to her mind. His aftershave hung around him, subtle but there, rich and complex. He had on just enough of it to make her want to lean in and get a longer deeper whiff of the delicious stuff.
He stood there. She smiled. “Do you want to come in for a glass of wine before we head out?”
He nodded. She stepped back and he stepped inside the place, immediately filling it with his presence. The width of his shoulders was accented by the suit and she had to restrain herself from lifting a hand and running it across that fabric, squeeze lightly in order to feel the muscle and skin and bone below.
She had the wine already decanted and she asked, “Do you like red wine? I should have asked.”
“I love it.”
She poured them both a tall glass. His voice had been husky when he had answered her about the wine and she knew that he was just as confounded and excited as she was. There was a noticeable bulge near the front of his slacks and she knew without even seeing it that his dick was thick, chubby, and long.
Oh she wanted to feel him inside of her. Wanted to feel him thrusting that hardness into her deep well! She handed him the glass and their fingers met. Another shiver ran right through her skin at the slight contact. She downed the wine a little too quickly, and her head swum slightly as a result.
Charles set his glass aside. “Are you ready to go?”
She took a deep breath and said, “Yes, I am.”
He took her arm. They headed out of the apartment and turned toward the avenue. The place they’d agreed on wasn’t far at all, a matter of less than three blocks. His hip touched hers occasionally as they walked, and his hand brushed against hers sometimes too. Heat blossomed and bloomed and she had to restrain a smile when he jumped slightly after her breast brushed against the back of his arm in what was not quite an accident on her part.
They reached the restaurant. He held the door open for her just as he had the day that they had had lunch and when they got to the table it was Charles and not the bored-looking waiter who pulled out her chair and helped her to sit.
They sat there, sipping water and staring at the menu. They talked a bit but there was a tension between them and she knew exactly what it was. They wanted each other. They wanted each other and all of this—dinner and a show, even the conversation they were having—was just the lead-in to that wanting. They wanted each other and they were both too adult to play any silly games about that.
They ordered and she leaned forward. She gathered her arms closer to her body as she did so. It was deliberate. The swell of her breasts got higher, and the valley between them deepened and grew more shadowed, and more exciting. His eyes went to her breasts and stayed there for a long moment before he jerked them upward again to her face.
There was a naked desire written on his face and she smiled at him. He passed her the bread basket and she said thanks and took a roll, sitting back to nibble it slowly, washing down the nibbles with a velvety wine he had ordered.
The restaurant was dimly lit, and very quiet. The hush was as deep and dark ads his eyes, which lingered on her the entire meal. The heat growing in her belly became a raging fire. She had trouble even registering what she was eating. She watched him eat, enjoying the way that he ate slowly but with real relish.
Would he treat her the same way? Savor each and every single drop and inch of her?
The thought sent little flashes of heat along her nerve endings.
When their meal was over they left the restaurant and ended up on the sidewalk. The street hung quiet and empty around them. She turned to him. His arms came around her and he pulled her in close. Her breasts flattened against his chest. Their mouths collided. His lips were warm and full, soft but firm.
His tongue snaked into her mouth. Her body arched toward his and her lips parted. Her tongue met his in a slow parry and thrust. His hands ran from her shoulders to her upper arms.
They finally parted when the lights of an oncoming car hit them. Breathless and elated she eyed him. “I don’t really care about the how.”
His lips curved upward. “Neither do I.”
“So…so would you like to come back to my place?”
He smiled at her. “I would love that, more than anything else.”
She managed to breathe past the thumping of her heart. “Then why are we still standing here?”
“Because running along the street with you in tow would be unseemly.”
Her laughter made his smirk grow wider. She said, “This is true. So we’ll walk.”
They did. They let their bodies meet and part in a precursor to what would come next. Lillian was beyond excited and she knew he was too. She fumbled for her keys and they entered the apartment slowly. He caught her up into another passionate clinch, his mouth more demanding now as they both gave in to the heat blooming between them.
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