The story is completed and will be about 3 or 4 chapters. I just haven’t decided where all the chapter breaks are going to be. I hope you enjoy it and thanks for checking it out.
Willow emerged from the morning scrum at the cafe counter clutching her ritual espresso in one hand and her bag and phone in the other. Luck was with her when she spotted her favourite bistro table vacant by the front window, and she hurried over to claim it. Dropping her bag on the chair, she then moved around to the seat backing the wall.
As she sat down, she felt something bump against her backside. It turned out to be a cell phone. Its sleek marbled-crimson case caught her eye immediately when she pulled it out from under her.
She quickly glanced around the cafe. It wasn’t apparent that anyone had misplaced it or was looking for it. She thought of bringing it to the counter but the line up had grown even longer and the staff were all busy serving customers.
So she placed it at the edge of her table thinking the owner might come back for it. That’s when she noticed that the colour wasn’t the only unique feature of the phone. There was also a curious little charm tethered to it, like a carved piece of polished ivory or even bone. Shaped like a triangle, two sides were smooth while the third was marked by a row of notches. It gave her pause as she nudged it with her finger, then she shrugged and turned her attention to her own phone.
Only a minute later, while she sipped her drink and checked her messages, the phone started to ring; a three-tone melody that tickled her ear. She scanned the room again wondering if the owner would hear their phone ringing. After a few seconds, the ringing stopped with no one claiming it.
Willow pouted her lips, frowning slightly as she leaned back in her chair, still looking at the phone. Suddenly, it started to ring again, startling her. She leaned forward and glanced at the screen: “Caller Unknown” and no listed number.
After the fourth ring, she sighed and finally picked it up.
“Hello?” she answered.
“Hello.” It sounded like a man.
“Um…” Willow hesitated, “… I think you have the wrong person.”
“Oh, I’m pretty certain I have the right person.”
Propping up her glasses, she cocked her head to glance around the cafe. “Sorry, who are you calling?”
After a momentary pause, she thought she heard a soft chuckle. “Well, since you’re the one who answered,” the caller said, “I must be calling you.”
Whoever he was, he spoke casually and with an unexpected familiarity.
She frowned and shook her head. “No, I mean…This isn’t my phone. I found it here at the coffee shop. Do you know who it belongs to? Who are you trying to call?”
“I’m calling the person who answered this phone.”
She could almost imagine him speaking through an unfettered smile, yet there was nothing facetious or sarcastic about his tone; it was a decidedly assured voice.
Willow’s brows arched. She leaned back and pressed her palm against her ear to shut out the din of the busy shop. “Sorry. What?”
“Alright,” he conceded, “I’ll stop playing. I don’t want to come across as…”
He snickered. “Right.”
“Yeah… might be a bit late for that,” she replied, smirking.
“Yes, you’re probably right about that, too. My apologies.”
“So do you know who – ”
“I’m so sorry. Could you hold on for a second?”
Willow sat up. “Oh. Wait, I – ”
He hung up.
Her jaw still slack, she frowned. “What the hell?”
She regarded the phone in her hand once more, tilting her head towards her shoulder. After a long moment, she set it down, pushed it to the corner of the table, then settled back in her seat and resumed checking her own phone.
As she scanned her messages, her eyes wandered from her screen to the device at the edge of her table. She didn’t know why. Maybe she was expecting someone would come by at any moment to pick it up and remove it from her concern. Maybe she thought it would ring again.
Really, she should have just brought it to the counter.
After spending five minutes glancing back and forth at it, Willow sighed, grabbed her cup and stood from the table to leave. That’s when it rang, again. “Caller Unknown”.
Willow sighed and picked up. “Hello?” she huffed.
“Hello, again.” It was the same caller. “I had another urgent call coming through.”
“Another complete stranger whose morning you interrupted and you needed to leave hanging?” she retorted, then immediately winced. She hated feeling snarky this early.
“Mm-hmm. I deserved that,” he replied.
Again, even though she couldn’t see him, she could vividly picture his words slipping through a slender smile.
She said, “Look, I’m just about to go to work. I can leave the phone at the service counter-“
“No,” the man interrupted, “I’d like you to hold on to it for me.”
Willow paused, pouting her lips askew. She closed her eyes and gave her head a little shake. “You don’t even know who or where I am. Why would you want me to keep your phone?“
“You sound trustworthy, and I trust my instincts about people,” he said, “and it’s not my phone.”
“But you do know who it belongs to?”
“Mm-hmm,” he replied. After a momentary pause, he said, “Alright, I know you have no reason to follow my instructions…”
“Follow your instructions?” she interjected.
“Heh. Sorry, I’m in the middle of work staring out through a window at the moment at a gorgeous blue sky, and my casual-talk lexicon failed me there,” he said.
She spiked her brow. “Do you have a habit of telling people to follow your instructions?”
“Hmm. You’re pretty sharp,” he noted as if he realized he had to pay attention. “But to answer your question: only people who are willing to. But I prefer people who are more independent-minded… like yourself, apparently.”
That wasn’t the reply she was expecting.
“Alright,” he said, “I won’t waste your time now. I know you have nothing to go on other than the request of a stranger… a friendly stranger… but you would have my deepest appreciation if you were to choose to hold onto the phone for the time being.”
Your ‘deepest appreciation’, she repeated to herself as she rubbed the back of her neck, looking around aimlessly. “For how long?”
“I’ll let you know,” he said, then reassured her again, “Don’t worry. I trust you with it.”
You trusting me isn’t the issue, she thought.
As she looked up, tilting her head aside, she felt the charm brush gently against the front of her wrist. She regarded it again, with mild intrigue. “Okay, fine,” she finally said, pushing through her reluctance. “But how do I…”
“You’re very kind. Thank you very much. I’ll be in touch,” he said and immediately hung up.
Again, Willow was left holding the phone to her ear, her lips and brow pinched tight. She hadn’t even gotten his name.
Sighing, she looked towards the shop exit, then at the service counter still bustling with customers, holding the phone aside.
She shook her head as she gathered her belongings. Then she took two determined steps towards the counter… and turned, dropping the phone in her bag as she left.
“There he goes,” Randall said to Willow as he leaned back against the edge of her desk.
She turned her head aside from her monitors towards a set of glass doors leading out of the office. Adjusting her glasses, she observed a male colleague briskly exiting and asked, “Time?”
Randall was already checking his watch. “Exactly two minutes after Lyssa,” he said as if it were ever in question.
“Not even trying to hide it anymore, are they?” Willow grinned and shook her head.
“You eventually get to a point where the thought of an illicit tryst just overwhelms all sensibilities,” Randall remarked. He nudged her shoulder with the back of his hand. “Don’t underestimate the influential power of a blowjob in the middle of the afternoon.”
“Speaking from experience, are we?” she asked pointedly as she eyed her friend. That was also a stupid question. She was talking about Randall here.
“Giving and receiving, oh yeah. As wake me ups go, it sure beats an Americano,” he said through a lascivious grin as he swirled his coffee mug in his hand. He bounced his brows and angled a sly smile at Willow. “Come to think of it, I’ve beaten off a few Americanos.”
Willow managed to avoid laughing at the horrid pun. She knew Randall liked to exaggerate his promiscuity –play up the flamboyant bi-sexual stereotype– because it got a rise out of his friends, but she couldn’t help herself. She blushed, both at his comments and at the idea of her two colleagues screwing somewhere in the building. Today, she pictured them on the rooftop, banging against the fire exit door. Her knee trembled involuntarily under her desk at the thought.
“So,” she said, “are we feeling a little envious of Shemar and Lyssa?”
“Me? Oh no, no,” Randall scoffed. “No.”
“Really?” Willow remarked with a droll lilt. “No one here you’d like to get together with for a little office joie de vivre?”
He frowned at her with almost a look of pity. “Willy, I have done my bit for Queen and Country with the cream of the crop this place has to offer, both ladies and gents.”
Willow grimaced. Although she sensed he was kidding, she wondered if he was actually being truthful and, if so, who had he been with. She thought of a few rather tempting candidates in their office, both available and not, although she was kidding herself if she thought she’d act on such impulses.
“No, I’m referring to office sex,” he continued. “Too pedantic. So unimaginative. Not enough intrigue or thrill.”
“Ah. I guess the possibility of being fired isn’t exciting?” Willow remarked and rolled her eyes. She was afraid to ask what Randall considered to be a ‘thrilling’ sexual encounter.
“Fired, shmired,” he said dismissively, and undeterred, declared, “Backroom office sex is like the white bread of illicit affairs.”
Willow leaned back in her chair to regard him, totally neglecting her work now. “Really? What would be a Boston Cream donut?”
He smirked. “I’m not gonna share.”
She blinked at him, disappointed.
“All I can say is to each their own. Oh, and Willy,” he continued, as he leaned towards her, “you need to do better than a Boston Cream donut.”
Her brows propped up high over the rim of her glasses as Randall held her gaze in his piercing blue eyes which suddenly narrowed. He asked, “Something happened this morning?”
She tilted back in her chair as she gawked at him, her pink lips parted and silent, while fingering the tiny crucifix dangling from the end of her necklace.
“You’re blushing, Willow Blythe McCarthy,” he declared, “and not because of me, regrettably. ’Fess up.”
Willow felt her pale cheeks turning flush, a shade brighter her than her cherry-blonde hair. Because of her milky complexion, it was near impossible for her to lie or to feel anxious about something and not glow like a stoplight. She knew she was taking too long to answer and replied, flustered, “Wha- what do you…?”
Randall poked her on the shoulder and leaned back chuckling, “I love playing with you.”
Just then, a teasing chime asserted itself from her bag. Taking the opportunity to break away from her friend’s inspective stare, she immediately rummaged through her purse and pulled out the phone she had found.
“New phone?” Randall asked, observing the device. “Interesting case and charm.”
She shook her head. “No. It’s not mine.”
“‘Caller Unknown’,” he said, reading the screen. He grinned. “Intriguing.”
“It’s nothing. Telemarketer probably,” Willow said with a quick wave of her hand. She dropped it dismissively on her desk but kept an obviously wary eye on it as it continued to ring.
While Randall eyed her, she watched the phone as it rang two more times then stopped.
“Guess not,” Willow said, feeling relieved.
“Hmm,” Randall remarked as he sipped from his mug.
A moment later, the phone rang again.
Shit, Willow thought.
Reading her conflicted expression, Randall stood up and pointed to the other side of their cubicle divider. “I’m just going to go, then,” he said with a coy grin. “Give you some privvy.”
“You don’t… ” she started, but he already had slipped away.
Willow took a deep breath as she listened to the phone ring one more time before snatching it from her desk and finally answering.
“Hello again,” the caller from the morning replied.
A knot instantly twisted in her gut. She waited impatiently for him to follow up for a second. Finally, she asked hesitantly, “Is there… do you need something?”
“Interesting way to put it… ‘need’,” he said. There was a smoothness to his voice, his words swirling like wispy tendrils of smoke. “Do people often need things from you?”
Willow held her upper lip with her teeth for a moment. She lowered her voice, avoiding the question. “I’m at work right now.”
“Good. Sounds like you’re a responsible person. Working hard. That’s good,” he said.
“Look, maybe I can just leave your phone at a police station or something.”
“I told you, it’s not my phone,” he corrected calmly.
“Then can you give me the name of who it belongs to?”
“Are names important?”
Willow sputtered momentarily. “Of course.”
“Okay. Want to tell me yours?”
“No,” she scoffed, “not really.”
“Then they’re not important,” he said. “If I knew your name, would I be able to recognize you on the street? Is it necessary to know our names to have a pleasant conversation?”
Willow shifted her jaw. The man seemed so calm, yet his confidence and guile slammed her within her chest. “I think we might have different ideas of what a ‘pleasant conversation’ is.”
Once again, she picked up on a soft chuckle on the other end. “Did I mention how amusing you are?”
“Did I mention how creepy you are?” she fired back, smirking.
“You have. I guess I’ve crossed the line, again,” he mused. “Here’s a thought. You can give me that name if you want, ‘Creepy’, if it helps to have names.”
“It doesn’t help, and I’m not going to call you that,” she grumbled. Willow removed her glasses and rubbed her temple as she leaned over her desk. “Can you just tell me how I can give you your… this phone back?”
“You know,” he replied, “if you really wanted to, you could just throw it in the garbage.”
She sat back, frowning. “I’m tempted but I’m not going to do that,” she retorted.
“Why not?” Before she could answer, he added, “Because you’re a good girl.”
‘A good girl’. The words stung at her gut for some reason even though his delivery was still silky smooth without a hint of accusation.
Willow took three seconds to compose herself enough before slowly replying, “Okay, you know what? This is what I’m going to do…”
“I’m all ears.”
“After work, I’m going to drop this phone off at the coffee shop where I was this morning. If you want it, call after 5:30 or something and someone there will pick up and tell you where the shop is. You can get it from them.”
“I’m not answering this phone again before then. I’m actually going to turn it off until I drop it off and that’s it. Do you understand?”
“Ahh, I see. I understand completely and will be sure to comply. Your certainty is refreshing,” he said as if exhaling a breath of cool, wintry air. “Well then, I guess this is good-bye.”
“Yeah,” she said, bothered that she didn’t know what else to add.
“If I may be honest before you go, this has been surprisingly very pleasant. I know that must sound strange, but I really have enjoyed speaking with you. You have a lovely voice and I believe I’ll regret not hearing it again. I’d commit it to memory if I could,” he said.
Something told Willow he was quite capable of that. She was also certain it would take a while to shake his voice from her head.
“Right. So… bye,” she said, sounding at a loss.
The man hung up first.
Willow stared at the phone, seeing her reflection in the clean black screen. She noticed a slight tremble in her hand, it distracted her from how her heart raced and the slight tremor in her knee as it shook underneath her desktop.
“Hey,” Randall said, suddenly peering into her cubicle.
“Shit!” Willow jumped back in her seat. “Don’t do that!”
He eyed her, bemused. “Sorry. I’m going to a meeting. Here,” he said and offered her a small paper bag.
He disappeared leaving Willow still grimacing and holding the bag. She sighed and peeked inside.
It was a mille-feuille, intricately layered, delicate pastry filled with rich creamy custard and cream, topped with ornate swirls of icing and chocolate dusted with sugar. It looked decadent, delicious… intriguing.
“Our mother reminded me to remind you to call her,” Faith remarked flatly.
Willow sat on her bed while she talked to her older sister on the phone. In the evening darkness of her bedroom, she plucked mindlessly at her bedsheets. “I know,” she grumbled, “but it’s not as if I have anything new to talk about and her questions are always the same.”
“I know, and really, there’s only one she actually cares about,” Faith conceded.
Rolling her eyes, Willow replied, “And only one answer she wants to hear. I’m not getting back together with Dan whether she wants me to or not. We’re through.”
“I know. I know. I’m on your side, sister!” Faith giggled. “And I envy your freedom, you know. Marriage ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
“Mitchell’s a good guy,” Willow remarked. “And you being married makes you the ‘good girl’ in mom’s eyes. She thought a ‘good Catholic guy’ would also make me a ‘good girl’.”
“Oh, God, Willow! You are such a ‘good girl’,” Faith replied, a bit too convincingly for Willow’s tastes. “You’re like a nun!”
“Let’s not overdo it.”
“Mom just has the hots for Dan herself, you know. It’s that repressed Catholic guilt. Hey, maybe she should have an affair with him? He’d probably be amenable.”
Willow listened to her sister laugh but unfortunately wasn’t surprised that Faith would jokingly suggest that their mom cheat on their dad.
“Anyway… I think I should go,” her sister said.
“Oh. Oh, yeah,” Willow replied. “Sorry to call so late and talk so long. I didn’t mean to interrupt…”
“You’re not interrupting anything,” Faith slipped in, adding a little giggle.
“Well, okay. Thanks anyway. Oh, say hello and good night to Mitchell for me.”
Again, there was a muffled snicker on the other end of the line. “Mitchell. Right. I will. Night, night, ‘Low.”
After Faith hung up, Willow pursed her lips aside as she eyed the phone. Shaking her head dismissively, she fell back onto her bed with a languished groan.
Laying on the fluffy bedding, staring at the ceiling with her arm draped over her forehead, Willow sighed. Without checking her clock she knew it was late, well after midnight. The streets outside her apartment window were dead quiet and she was able to see through the deep blue haze of darkness, her mind alert, racing furiously with thought and concern. Talking to Faith hadn’t helped.
She always had trouble sleeping, even more so tonight. She sighed wearily over and over, her skin feeling both uncomfortably hot and cold against the sheets of her bed which only half-covered her body. She had been right. The man’s voice remained in her head through the day and evening and into the night as if he was speaking directly in her ear. His rich, confident tone laced with a hint of an accent –possibly Spanish– seemed to infuse itself upon her racing imagination. She could practically feel his breath warming her lobes, agitating her mind, reaching out to her, touching her, with his voice and words.
Who talks like that to a complete stranger? she thought. It annoyed her, yet if truth be told, she wished she could be so bold, sometimes. Just pick a complete stranger, talk to them, lead the conversation… make them pay attention to you until you’ve wheedled your way into their heads.
‘You’re a good girl,’ he had said. She replayed it over and over again in her head, how he said it, how he sounded. She was guessing, but he didn’t intend any condescension.
No. It was an appreciative tone, admiring… intrigued.
“God,” she exclaimed, flipping over onto her belly with an anguished whine. With the blanket tossed to the floor, she scrunched her pillow in her arms.
Suffocating herself in her pillow seemed to finally be an effective way to get some sleep. As she drifted off, her mind’s eye was filled with a sharp smile whispering a centimetre away from her ear. She felt fingers curl along her stomach and a warm pressure against her bosom, pushing her back deeper and deeper, falling into an unknown, velvety mist.
Then a twittering chime suddenly sounded. In the late-night silence of her room, it had the effect of a siren, shocking Willow awake. She gasped, lifting her flushed face from the pillow, feeling her heart scramble in her chest.
“Shit!” she wheezed, trying to catch her breath for a second, before clambering from her bed and stumbling in the dark towards her purse.
She answered the phone after the fourth ring. “Yes? Hello?” she gasped, still not breathing properly.
“Is this the coffee shop?”
“Wha…-? Excuse me?”
“I recognize this voice,” the caller said, toying with her. “I see you decided to keep the phone.”
Willow recognized his voice as well. Just as it did earlier, it immediately twisted a little knot in her stomach. Each time he spoke seemed to cast a fishhook into her consciousness. Fully awake, it finally dawned on her that he was referring to her threat to hand the phone off at the coffee shop. So much for that.
Trying not to sound too trapped, she said, “Oh. Yeah, I… I didn’t have time to drop it off after work. Sorry.”
She winced and rubbed her eyes, frustrated. Why was she apologising to him?
“I’m not sorry,” the man said. “I’m pleased that you still have it… and appreciative.”
Willow felt her gut drop. She gazed into the dark, gnawing the edge of her lower lip. Again, he seemed to be waiting for her response. “Look,” she started, struggling to ask, “can you please tell me who you are?”
“Creepy,” he said.
She frowned. “I said I don’t want to call you that.”
“That’s good to know. Thank you,” he said, “But, I still bother you?”
“Yeah. You can say that,” she acknowledged.
“But not enough to get rid of the phone.”
“I… I told you. I didn’t have time after wo-“
“…or to turn it off?”
Willow froze. Her jaw tightened as she searched hard and fast for a response and ended up side-stepping, “How was I supposed to give it back to you if you couldn’t call to tell me how?”
“I don’t want it back.”
Again with him parrying her comments like batting away a falling leaf. Frustration with him and herself bubbled from beneath her skin to the surface, and before she could think, she snapped, “What do you want?”
“You kept the phone when you didn’t need to, kept it on when you said you would never answer again, and then answered when I called,” he said, picking through her fibs. “I want to know why?”
Because you’re a good girl.
“I… I don’t know,” she replied, knowing full well she was sticking her foot in a bear trap.
“Can I offer a possible explanation?” he asked.
Shit. Willow really had no idea how to respond, remaining mute and leaving herself wide open to his relentless provocations.
“Maybe you’re looking at this the wrong way. Probably because you seem like such a warm and considerate woman, you’re likely always giving people what they want. Always expecting someone wants something from you,” he counselled with a smooth cadence, so confident in his ability to assess a complete stranger. “So I’d like to turn the tables. Maybe there’s something I can offer for you instead?”
“You want to offer me what?” Willow asked flatly.
“A clean slate.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Something you need. Something you want. I’d be happy to try to oblige you.”
“I… don’t want anything.”
She heard him breathe deeply. “Yes… you do,” he told her
The knot in her tummy tightened. She understood the sense of repulsion sounding like an alarm in her brain. What she couldn’t understand was the feeling of dreadful temptation swelling within her gut. It was tiny –barely a spark– but it was there, scratching at her from within.
When she took too long to answer, he prompted, “What do you want?”
You want to hang up the fucking phone, Willow. Now. Tell him that, then do it.
Willow closed her eyes and rubbed her forehead. She listened to her own unsteady breaths for a second. “I want… ” she said, pausing to moisten her dry lips, “I just want to go back to bed.”
“Sure. Why don’t you do that?” he offered. “Just don’t hang up.”
She shook her head slowly. “Why?”
“I’d like to talk to you. Just… talk.” His voice was resiliently soothing, cajoling as if talking down a jumper.
Willow stood motionless before realizing she was breathing heavily into the phone, her nostrils flaring with quivering, unsteady breaths which she knew he could certainly hear. She pulled the phone away from her ear, lowering her hand aside, and rolled her eyes, an exasperated gasp seeping past her lips.
Hang up. Hang up, now.
She lost track of how long she stood there mired in muted angst. The cold, smooth charm dangling from the phone brushed against her bare leg and brought her back. The man remained silent, no beckoning or asking if she was still on the line. Finally, she raised the phone again tentatively and asked, “Are you still there?”
“Of course,” he said soothingly. “So, as I said, why not go back to bed? That’s what you wanted, yes? Get comfortable. Relax.”
He was enjoying this, she knew. It suddenly dawned on Willow, listening to his compelling, cajoling commands, that she could very well be on the line with the Devil himself. And for some goddamn reason, she listened and obeyed.
She didn’t feel at ease enough to slip under the covers, but instead, she sat on the edge of her bed, bare knees together as if waiting in a doctors office.
“So, I’m sitting on my bed,” she stated bluntly, mustering whatever feeling of boldness she could find in her being, “what are we going to talk about?”
She sensed the man was settling in himself. The faint sounds of classical guitar music played in the background. “Maybe we start with getting to know each other?” he suggested.
“I thought you said no names?” she asked.
“I still do. Names get in the way.”
“In the way of what?”
“Getting to really know you. I prefer to build my picture of who you are rather than being told,” he said. “How did you get your name?”
Willow frowned. “My parents gave it to me, of course.”
“Do you like it?”
She shrugged. “I suppose.”
“But if you could go back to the moment you were born, handed to your mother all exposed and new, and you could have told your parents what you wanted to be named, would you have said the name that they gave you?”
A crooked grin fixed upon her lips. “You know, I really have no idea. I hadn’t thought about it. Maybe not.”
“There you go. Not your choice. It’s not you. It’s not important.”
Willow thought for a moment, carefully picking through his words, trying to see if she could get ahead of him, not just keep up.
“If names are helpful to you, though, for the purpose of our conversation,” he continued, “you can ask me what mine is.”
“And you would tell me?” she asked sceptically. “Truthfully? Just like that?”
“Because I trust you.”
“You keep saying that, but you don’t know me.”
He drew a long breath. “Still, I’m offering to tell you. So do you want to know my name or not?”
Willow paused, staring towards her floor. “No.”
“Good,” he replied as if he knew she finally understood him. “So, before we go on, I’m curious about something.”
“Tell me honestly –and be as blunt as you like– I really would like to know: what were you most concerned about when you decided to keep the phone?”
“What… what do you mean?” she asked.
“You find and answer a mysterious phone. On the other end is a stranger, an unknown man, whom you’ve never met, never heard the voice of before. Despite all your reservations, everything you understand to be correct behaviour, you carry on a conversation with him when you must have told yourself to simply hang up. He asks you to keep the phone and you do. You take it home with you, knowing he can reach you at any time, whereas you can’t do the same.” The man paused, then asked, “That doesn’t concern you?”
“Yes, it does,” she replied softly. Of course, it did. Willow had many concerns about the situation, the man… herself.
“So, I want to know what you were thinking,” he said, “what did you imagine… or what were you anticipating would happen?”
Despite her hesitancy, it was actually an easy request. She had storyboarded a scenario in her head the moment she walked past the coffee shop after work instead of going in and leaving the phone.
“I thought… maybe you were actually watching the entire time from the moment I found the phone,” she said deliberately, the gears of her imagination firing up.
“Maybe you had even known I’d gone to that shop every morning before work, kept track of my routine. Maybe you planted the phone there for me to find…” she trailed off, a clearer picture forming in her head. She rubbed her brows.
“You watched and waited. Followed me to work,” she continued. She narrowed her eyes. Her chest rose and fell more quickly and she swallowed, her teeth chattering slightly before she added, “Then maybe after… maybe you followed me home to my apartment. I kept checking over my shoulder, and I just kept missing you. But you were actually closer than I realized, just watching.”
Her eyes widened on the window across from the bed. Staring through it, she didn’t see the still, dark night outside. She saw a shifting, elusive image of a man… watching her, holding her intently in his gaze, only a slender smile revealed in the dark silhouette. A crackling of electricity tingled at her fingertips.
“And what would happen then?” he asked, egging her along. “I follow you to your door?”
She hesitated, swallowing despite the dryness in her throat. “Yes.”
“Barge in when you open it?”
“Yes.” She nodded as if in a trance. The silhouette beyond her window was now in her room before her, standing over her, drifting down, reaching for her.
“Close the door behind me? Confront you in the dark? A faceless strange man and you.”
Willow curled her toes, feeling her muscles tighten and nerves race as she gripped the phone against her ear. “Yes.”
“So I’m there with you, alone.” There was a long, deliberate pause. “Then what?”
“And then… ” Willow breathed, feeling a tantalizing pang of anxiety edge up from her bosom through her throat. She paused, her thoughts and sensations collapsing on each other suddenly. She pinched her eyes shut and sucked her lips in and held them as her breathing intensified. The image didn’t go away, it actually magnified, swallowing her up, pressing down on her, swirling around her… moving into her.
“Then what?” he repeated, his voice heavy, slippery and relentless, flooding her being. “What do we do?”
Willow’s shoulders and chest rose and visibly shook. Every sensation she felt pulled to her core and an involuntary shudder rattled her. She struggled with the words in her throat, and a weak gasp escaped, “Mmn-hh…”
“Did you say something?”
Willow sucked her lips inward to muffle herself and shoved the phone downward against her bed, her entire body stiffening. Eyes still pinched tight, she tilted her head aside. Once she started breathing again she struggled for a full minute to regain a steady breath.
She breathed out one more time. Steeling herself, she raised the phone to her ear again.
“Still there?” asked the man, and then he repeated, “What happens next?”
Willow coughed out a meagre laugh and said, “Then you strangle me, of course.”
It sounded as awkward as it was unconvincing. She cringed and held her breath anticipating his response.
“Oh,” the man remarked. He sounded disappointed. “Really? You… thought I’d do that?”
“Yeah, well, what else?” she replied, struggling with her thoughts. “You said to be blunt.”
“I did,” he conceded.
There was another long palpable pause. An uncomfortable pang of dread turned in Willow’s stomach.
“Can I be honest with you, though?” If you really feel that I meant to do you any harm, then I truly apologise.”
Her lips parted, but she remained mute.
“That hasn’t been my intent at all,” he said, sounding genuinely troubled, but still maintaining his calm demeanour. “But that’s my fault. All on me. I miscalculated. I’m sorry. I can’t fathom the distress I may have caused you.”
“Oh. I, uh… “
“This is all wrong. So, I’m going to hang up now. Again, my deepest apologies. You seem like a lovely woman, and I won’t bother you again. Take care.”
“Wait.” That’s what Willow wanted to say, but her voice suddenly failed her at that moment. After a couple of seconds, she said, “Hello? Hello? Are you still there?”
He was gone.
“Hello?” she whispered.
Willow blinked and sighed. Shit. I mean… good. Right?
Once more she found herself holding the phone, staring at a blank screen. Lost in thought, she touched the fingers of her other hand against her lips. Suddenly, she frowned and moved her hand away. She looked at her fingertips, rubbing them together. Her frown deepened, then apprehensively, she brought her hand down and slipped it under the hem of her nightshirt, sliding it between her warm thighs. Even before she caressed the crotch of her panties, she knew.
She was wet.
To be continued…
Copyright © All stories, characters, and situations are works of fiction and owned wholly by the author F.P.Rollins. The story in whole or in part may not be reproduced without the author’s permission.