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What It Means To Miss New Orleans

Category: Group Sex
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After three days of the sales conference, Steve was sick. Sick of giant pieces of paper stuck to the wall covered with vague, ridiculous words regarding goals and mission, sick of pointless team building exercise but mostly sick of long evenings spent with amateur drinkers who felt free to let loose, particularly since they were far away from home in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

After numerous glasses of beer or sickly sweet tropical concoctions, each inebriated man thought of himself as charming, witty and so very attractive to women, what Cary Grant would be like if he sold outdoor home products. In truth, the alcohol only made them clumsy, loud, boorish and, most importantly, completely tone deaf to their own ridiculousness.

That was why Steve was alone in the French Quarter Hotel next to the one his company had reserved for the sales conference. He sat in blissful solitude drinking a quite nice Syrah and enjoying a particular flavorful etouffee, fragrant with the smell of shellfish which had not too long before been scuttling along the floors of swamps close by in the Louisianna bayou mixed in with hot andouille sausage and spices all of which combined to reflect the rich stew of cultures and races which called New Orleans home. And although it was true that there was a loud and obnoxious group of drunken idiots at the bar, they were strangers from another company. They were someone else’s idiots and he was under absolutely no obligation to deal with them.

Steve was so engrossed in his meal and his copy of the New Orleans Times Picayune that he missed the quiet voice addressing him at first. It was only when it repeated, “I said, may I join you” that he looked up. The owner of the voice was an attractive woman, the type whom you might not notice immediately when she walked into the room but who, once she caught your attention, would be hard to take your eyes off of. She stood about five foot six, with an athletic look and a look of quiet confidence. Her perfectly styled, light brown hair was fairly short, framing her face. Her clothes were flattering but not flashy. She wore a white silk blouse underneath a blue blazer. Her skirt was a fine, charcoal gray wool and her shoes were relatively low-heeled but obviously expensive. Her only jewelry was a simple pearl necklace, matching small pearl earrings and a simple gold bracelet. The overall effect was paradoxical. Although her outfit was quiet and tasteful it fairly shouted out “here is a woman with sophistication and taste.”

Steve was so stunned by her sudden appearance that she was compelled to ask for a third time if she could join him. She watched him, following his gaze as he looked out over the the sea of empty tables. “I know there are a lot of empty tables but I know if I try to eat alone that I’m going to be spending the evening fighting off the advances of god knows how many men.”

She blushed, gestured toward the bar and said, “I’m sorry, that sounds so conceited. I didn’t mean to suggest that I think that I’m that irresistibly beautiful, only that those guys are that drunk.”

Steve pulled out the seat next to him, asked her to sit and introduced himself. She replied that her name was Kathy and Steve glanced toward the bar where she had gestured, just in time to see the men there engaged in a contest to see who could do the best moon walk, all the time clumsily falling over each other.

“Yep, they are that drunk,” Steve said. Pausing slightly, he then remarked in the most natural voice that he could muster, “Not that someone would have to be drunk to find you attractive.”

She smiled briefly and gracefully nodded her thanks. Steve was immediately won over by the gesture. He was familiar with many beautiful women, women who knew they were beautiful and would spend hour upon hour preparing to make themselves look as good as possible only to object strenuously to any compliments they received (“Oh this old thing, I look perfectly dreadful”). It had always made Steve feel foolish, like they were questioning his judgment or accusing him of dishonesty. Even though he knew that they were really only fishing for additional and more extravagant compliments, it always enraged him. He always had to fight the temptation to say, “You know, at second glance, you’re right. You do look like shit.” But even after knowing Kathy for only a matter of minutes, he knew intuitively that she would never play that game and embarrass someone who was trying to compliment her.

“So where are you from and what brings you to the Big Easy,” Steve asked.

“New York City and I came for an argument.”

“That’s a long way to travel to disagree with someone. Plus I never had the impression that anyone would ever have trouble finding someone in New York willing to argue. Mets versus Yankees, who has the best pizza, New Yorkers have always seemed like the most argumentative group around.”

She laughed and said, “No. I meant a legal argument. I had a case in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.”

“Oh, a lawyer. That explains the exquisitely tasteful and obviously expensive attire.”

“I’m afraid not. I had to save up for a long, long time for this outfit, I only use it for court and testifying before legislative committees. Most of the time, I’m in jeans and tee shirts and clunky old hiking boots.”

“What kind of law office let’s you dress like that?”

“The low-paying, public interest kind. I work for Earth Defenders, an environmental group. What business are you in.”

“I’m a landscape architect. Or at least that’s what I studied. I’m working for a company that sells and installs high-end pools, you know the kind that look like more like a pond than a pool in someone’s yard? We talk about the environment too. Green is one of our biggest selling points.”

“Is the company really committed to the environment or is it just a way to make a buck.”

“Not sure how to answer that. I don’t think they’re opposed to the environment. They want to make money, though, that’s for sure. I don’t know, maybe the bottom line isn’t why they do it but whether they do it. But enough about work, is this your first time in New Orleans?”

“Yes it is.”

“What do you think of it.”

“Well, unfortunately, even though I’ve been here for three days, I haven’t had a chance to see much of it. My flight got in late at night so I couldn’t see much during the cab ride in. Other than that, I’ve only seen the conference room at the law firm who’s helping us, the courtroom and the inside of my hotel room. I couldn’t bear to have another meal in my hotel room so I came down here, saw someone who looked safe and the rest you know.”

“I’m not sure how I feel about looking safe.”

“Would you rather look like them?” she asked, pointing again to the bar where one of the men was holding a bar stool on his head pretending to be a bull charging another man who was holding his jacket like a toreador’s cape.

Steve winced and said, “No, I guess not.”

“Is this your first time here?”

“God no. We’ve had a number of conferences here and I lived here for six months after college, painting houses with a friend and doing other odd jobs.”

“Do you like it?”

“I love it. There’s so much history and so many different cultures. Wonderful food and so much mystery. You get the feeling that every house has a story to tell and that each person who you see watching from a balcony has some deep dark secret that you’ll never know. And I think every tourist who comes here, no matter how insensitive he or she is, can sense it and acts accordingly. Long before Las Vegas existed, New Orleans was the place where what goes on here stays here. But unlike Vegas, nothing is artificial, everything has built up over time and it’s history includes some of the best and worst things around. New Orleans wouldn’t be what it is without a history that includes war, voodoo, slavery, the invention of jazz, immigrants from Nova Scotia, food from all over the Caribbean, Spain, France, Africa and South America, quasi-legal prostitution, the influence of the Catholic Church, etc, etc, etc. There’s no place like it in the United States, maybe not in the world.”

“I’m getting the sense that I really missed something by not getting out.”

“Yeah, you not only missed seeing things but having things affect you. The last time I was here for a conference, I heard the most amazing story.” Steve then proceeded to relate a story about encountering a particularly mousy and quiet colleague at the bar the evening after a grueling day of workshops. She had clearly been drinking for a while and when Steve mentioned that he didn’t remember seeing her at any on the sessions, she told him that she wasn’t surprised because she hadn’t been to any. When Steve asked if she had just arrived, she explained that she had gotten there late in the evening four days before and had stopped down for a drink in the bar. When she got there, there were two young Italian men, tourists in their twenties, who proceeded to buy her drink after drink. She was amused by their charming mis-use of the English language and their accents and was flattered by the rivalry that she saw developing between the two of them, each of whom clearly wanted to be the most highly regarded in her eyes. The woman paused in her story, sat silent for a while, took a long drink and then told Steve that eventually, closing time came and she then accepted their invitation for drinks in their room. She looked Steve in the eye with a curious, almost defiant look on her face and told him that the three of them did not leave the hotel room for the next two and a half days relying on room service for their meals.

Steve concluded by saying,”I was unsure what to say after that and just said that I was glad she enjoyed herself and excused myself.”

“But that’s not falling under a city’s spell, that’s just being drunk.”

“Maybe at the beginning. But at some point she had to wake up, sober and naked in bed with two strange guys. And she could have left then but choose to stay for another day of what must have been pretty wild sex. I’m not saying that it happened only because it was in New Orleans, but I think stories like that might be a bit more common here than anywhere else.”

Kathy sat silently, staring off quietly in the distance. Steve said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb you by telling that story.”

Kathy replied distractedly, “No, I’m not disturbed. I was just thinking how dull my life is, I don’t have any kind of secret story.”

Steve answered, “Come on, there must be some skeletons in your closet.”

“Nope, not even a toe bone. My family situation growing up was difficult. My father left when I was very young and my mother drank so I was responsible for keeping things going. I had to work in addition to my school responsibilities. I was always the sober young girl who acted like an old lady. I worked and took care of my brother and sister and never broke a rule. Never even shoplifted a lollipop. And I continued the same way in college, law school and in my current work.”

“Well, you never know. It’s New Orleans and the night is still young, or at least early middle-age.”

“Would you excuse me for a minute?” Kathy asked.

“Sure.” He hesitated and then said “If this were a Penthouse letter, I’d take the opportunity to ask you to slip off your underwear and give them to me when you returned.”

Steve had never regretted something as quickly and as completely as he did making this suggestion. The moment the words left his lips, he wished he could pull them back. For her part, Kathy just looked him in the eyes, her face a blank mask that betrayed no emotion whatsoever. She then turned on her heels and walked toward the restroom, leaving him behind to anguish at the table. He briefly thought of following her to beg her forgiveness, but noticing that she had left her jacket behind, realized that she’d have to return at least for that and so decided to wait. That would at least give him the time that he needed to try to come up with the best strategy to repair the damage.

He decided that he would try a jovial approach. He’d attempt to pass off the comment as a joke gone bad and pictured himself as a suave Sean Connery-type figure who would find a charming, funny way to erase the indiscretion.

But the second Kathy returned to the table, Sean Connery left, leaving Steve to stutter his inarticulate apologies. Kathy sat down, shushed him by placing a finger on his lips and reached over the table to tuck her neatly folded white panties into the pocket of his jacket like some extra-fancy and somewhat feminine pocket square.

Never having experienced anything even remotely like this, Steve was uncertain about what to expect next. Were this a Literotica story, there would soon be furtive groping under the table or stockinged feet rubbing against a burgeoning penis under the thin fabric of trousers. Instead, what happened next was particularly undramatic. There was no mention of sex, no smoldering, promising glances. Instead, there was interesting conversation about movies, politics, art and world events. If there were any change between pre-and post-panty exchange dining and conversation, it was only that Kathy seemed more relaxed but since she had always appeared at ease and graceful, any changes were minor. By the end of the evening, Steve was surprised to find he had forgotten what was tucked into his pocket and instead found himself concentrating on how he felt like he had known Kathy for years. In fact, he felt closer to her already than he did at any point with his former wife of fifteen years from whom he had just been divorced.

At the conclusion of dinner the check was delivered prompting a fight over who would pay. The struggle was only resolved when Steve pointed out that he was going to expense dinner anyway and that it would be a small, unknowing contribution that his company would be making to support her organization’s environmental work. Kathy thanked Steve and suggested taking a short stroll into the French Quarter so that she could at least say that she had seen it. With that, the two ventured into the warm Louisiana night.

The French Quarter was a wholesale assault on the senses. Steve experienced it through Kathy’s eyes, watching as she looked in wonder at everything going on around her. Music poured out of clubs on both sides of the streets. Walking down the street sounded like tuning a radio with different songs or styles of music fading in and out as they progressed. The scent of food filled the air from countless restaurants. Various bars advertised live nude girls and touristy voodoo shops advertised love potions guaranteed to move even the hardest heart. But what was most striking was the consumption of alcohol. Everyone seemed to be holding giant cups of alcoholic beverages.It was a common sight to see people bent over trash cans or the gutter feeling the effects of alcoholic excess.

Kathy watched it all and, within several blocks, appeared to be overwhelmed. “Let’s turn off on one of these side streets,” she suggested and they found themselves on a smaller, quieter street. The further they ventured from Bourbon Street, the more sedate it became and the harder it was to hear the din from the rowdiest French Quarter establishments. Honky tonks and cheap restaurants gave way to restaurants with white linen tableclothes. Stores selling tourist souvenirs were edged out by used bookstores and fancy antique shops both of which piqued Kathy’s interest in a way that nothing on Bourbon Street had.

“Oh, look at that beautiful leather-bound Jane Austen set! Pride and Prejudice got me through middle school. And there’s a first edition Willa Cather! These are the only times when I really wish I was rich, so I could buy some of these beautiful things.”

Later, they passed an antique store and Steve was amazed at how exhaustive her knowledge of antiques was. She could name every period, value any object, describe where each piece was from. Steve commented that her apartment must be beautifully furnished. She said it was mostly Ikea but that, in furniture as in clothing, she had a few good pieces and was saving up for more.

Throughout the walk, Steve stared at her with increasing wonder. Not only was he amazed by her encyclopedic knowledge, but he was also touched by her open and guileless enthusiasm and her modesty about the breadth of her knowledge.

As they walked further on, the restaurants and stores became more scarce. Kathy took Steve’s arm so naturally that he almost wasn’t aware it had happened. As they strolled into an area with aprtments built around quiet, vine-covered court yards, their pace slowed. Kathy laid her head on Steve’s shoulder and he, overwhelmed by the scent of her hair kissed her gently on the top of her head. Kathy smiled up at him, gazing warmly into his eyes. They stopped to face each other and kissed on the lips, the kisses became deeper and longer. Minutes of kissing lead to mounting passion on both of their parts until Kathy pulled away from Steve, looked quickly in both directions down the street, and pulled him into the darkened entrance to one of the courtyards. Giggling, she crouched in front of him and started to unbuckle his pants. Steve was amazed and stood speechless as she pushed his pants and his shorts down around his ankles in the warm night air. She wasted no time. After briefly teasing the tip of his penis with her lips and tongue she took it into her mouth, while gently cupping his balls in her hands. Steve could do nothing but groan his encouragement. She rocked back and forth in her crouching position, each time taking him deeper and deeper into her mouth. After several minutes, Steve, announced that he was coming. He expected her to pull away but instead, she sucked more enthusiastically. And when he lifted on his tip-toes, no longer able to hold back any longer, she quickly rubbed her tongue underneath his shaft until he spurted his semen directly into her mouth.

The two were so involved with each other that they failed to notice that they had an audience. Two men, clearly returning from an evening at a bar, had stumbled upon them and stayed to watch. One of them cleared his throat after the two had finished. Steve quickly pulled up his pants and Kathy rose to her feet.”

“That looked pretty good, how much does she charge?” the first man asked.

Steve was enraged that they had mistaken Kathy for a common-street whore. He found himself stepping toward the men in anger, not sure what he was going to do once he got there, but still angry. As he felt his hands tighten into fists, he happened to glance at Kathy who, far from looking angry, was watching Steve with what looked like wry amusement. After catching his eye, she cocked her head as if to ask, “How much do I charge?”

Steve was so surprised and confused that he immediately stopped and stood silently. Seeing that everyone seemed to be watching him for a response, he panicked and blurted out, “Uh, ten dollars?” Kathy’s eyebrows raised as if to say, “I just learned tonight that I am a whore, now it looks like I’m a cheap one at that.” Meanwhile, the man rushed over and said, “That’s definitely a deal,” reaching into his pocket and pulling out a ten dollar bill and offering it to Kathy. She nodded over to Steve, who took the money while marveling at how quickly things appeared to have spun out of control. But it seemed clear that Kathy was prepared to go ahead with it. If this were going to happen, he could at least make sure that Kathy was as comfortable as possible so Steve, knowing how hard it is to maintain a crouching position, took off his jacket and laid it on the ground so that she could kneel on it. She smiled, called him “My own Walter Raleigh,” and knelt in front of the man.

Wasting no time, she unzipped his fly and fished out his penis with her hand. The man was hard almost immediately. Kathy looked over at Steve and then took the man into her mouth. The semi-intoxicated stranger was shocked at how gentle and thorough she was. He had expected something quick, rough and impersonal, particularly for the price he had paid. Instead, he had the feeling that she was savoring the experience and trying to draw it out as long as possible. At one point, he placed his hands on both sides of her head with the intention of fucking her face hard, but she gently removed his hands as if to say “Leave it to me,” and continued her firm sucking. Finally, when all of the tell-tale signs began to appear, Kathy took him more deeply into his mouth and it soon became clear to the two men observing them that he was filling her mouth with his cum. Perhaps out of passion, but more likely to protect her clothes, she kept him in her mouth until he stopped spasming and then carefully licked him clean.

By now, his friend was nearly overcome with excitement. He pushed a ten dollar bill toward Steve, saying, “Here you go, Walter.”

Steve looked at him quizzically and said, “Walter?”

The man said, “Yeah, isn’t that your name? She called you Walter Rolley or something.”

“Oh no, she was just . . . oh, never mind,” Steve halted in mid-explanation suspecting that the man was not particularly interested in a lecture on Elizabethan chivalry at that particular time.

Indeed he wasn’t. The man had already unzipped and revealed his erection which he had been stroking while watching Kathy suck his friend. Shouldering his satisfied friend aside, he stepped in front of Kathy and unceremoniously shoved himself into Kathy’s waiting mouth. But the excitement seemed to be too much for him and Steve saw Kathy raise her eyebrows again as if she were surprised at how quickly the man came and the quantity of cum he had produced. Finishing him proved to be more of a challenge and Steve watched her throat as she swallowed repeatedly and for a long period of time. When he had finally finished, Kathy reached up offered her hand to Steve as if she were alighting from a carriage to go to a fancy dress ball. She lifted herself with Steve’s assistance, scooped up his jacket with one hand and, releasing Steve’s hand, patted the still panting man on the cheek. Taking Steve’s arm, she guided him to the street where she raised her hand and a taxi appeared seemingly out of nowhere.

As they stepped into the cab, they looked back and saw the two men still in the dark courtyard entrance, stunned at what had just happened, the second man still hanging limply out of his open zipper. Steve and Kathy laughed and then Kathy said, “Well I guess we both have our secret New Orleans story now.”

Steve replied, “Yeah. I bet you had no idea how your day was going to end when you woke up this morning.”

“Actually,” Kathy laughed, “I read my horoscope in the complimentary hotel newspaper this morning and it said “you will blow three strangers in an alley tonight.” I thought it was some kind of a misprint.”

Steve smiled weakly but seemed somewhat disturbed. “I know we haven’t known each other for long, but I guess I had hoped that I meant more to you to you than those other two guys.”

Kathy, sorry that her joke had hurt him, smiled sadly and said, “Steve, I had a wonderful time tonight and I will never forget it or you. What just happened seemed really wicked and exciting, but even if it hadn’t ended so dramatically, the evening was one of the nicest that I’ve had in a long, long time. I’m sorry I suggested you were a stranger or like those other two. You really mean a lot more to me, even after knowing you for such a short time.” She smiled and said mischievously, “I mean, look, I didn’t even charge you.”

“I appreciate your generosity. I really enjoyed the whole evening, too. Do you think that, uh, maybe we can see each other again.”

A sad smile crossed her face again. “Steve, you are so unbelievably sweet. If I were ever going to be pimped out for ten dollars again, I’d want it to be by you. But remember what you said about things staying here in New Orleans. I can’t fit what happened tonight into my regular life and, like it or not, you’re a part of what happened. I mean, can you imagine us answering questions at a party about how we met?”

“So we just say we met in New Orleans, we wouldn’t have to tell the whole story.”

“But that’s not the point. We’d both know the whole story and you don’t build solid relationships on blowing strangers in alleys for ten dollars. I’m really sorry but I just don’t see how it could happen.”

“I never thought I’d regret getting a blow job from a beautiful woman, but I guess there’s a first time for everything… As good as you were, and you were great, I wish we had gone the usual route, a night at the movies or something. Oh well. Anyway, speaking of pimping, I think this is yours.”

Kathy took the ten dollar bills he offered and said, “Giving the girl all of the money. You’d make a lousy pimp, you’d better stick with swimming pools… Driver, could you pull up next to that man on the corner.”

The car pulled up next to a homeless man and for one insane second, Steve wondered if Kathy was going to blow him, too but, of course she didn’t. Instead, she pressed the folded ten dollar bills into his hand and urged him to get a good, hot meal.

“You know he’s just going to spend it on liquor or drugs.”

“You’re probably right. But maybe he won’t. And even if he did, at least he would forget his sad situation for a few hours.”

The two rode in silence for a few minutes. Steve finally said, “Listen, if I can never, ever see you again, at least maybe I can walk you to your room, make sure you get there safely. This town is full of perverts.”

“I know, and we’re two of the biggest! Yes, you can escort me, but I have to warn you, this has been a very long day and I expect to crash when I hit the bed. I don’t feel like I have enough energy to take off my clothes.”

“It would be a shame to let them get wrinkled, I’d be glad to help you.”

“Well I did give my two ladies-in-waiting the night off so I guess you can pitch in. But I’m not promising anything else, I am really, really tired.”

“I think you’ve made your record, counselor, I get the point, you’re tired.”

As they walked to the elevator and, later to her room, Kathy leaned against Steve as much out of exhaustion as affection. Once inside the room, Steve removed her blazer and, draped it carefully over the desk chair. He then reached down and carefully removed her shoes. After that, he unbuttoned her blouse and removed it placing it upon a hangar, leaving her standing in the middle of the room barefoot in her bra and skirt. Saving the removal of her bra to the end, he unzipped her skirt and slid it down her hips. He was momentarily surprised that she was naked from the waist down, until he remembered what lay nestled in the breast pocket of his jacket. She was exquisite. Athletic and firm, but not overly muscled, she was like a Greek sculpture. Her pubic hair was trimmed above her labia to a small, soft, butterscotch colored patch. Stepping around her to unfasten her bra, he gazed down at her small, firm round ass and noted the two dimples in the small of her back. After removing her bra, he walked in front of her, reveling in the sight of her small, firm breasts and her small, roseate nipples. He found himself walking around her, almost as if in search of an imperfection. But he found none.

“Do I pass inspection?” she asked.

“With flying colors,” he responded.

He then walked over to the bed and pushed aside the pillows at the head of the bed and pulled back the bedcovers. She, following him from the center of the room, fell into the bed like a tree falling, the first un-graceful thing he had seen her do all evening. As she lay on the bed on her stomach, struggling to keep her eyes open, he could not resist gently tracing the outline of her body with his finger, starting at her hair and then passing over her check, lightly down her neck and back, over her ass cheeks and down one leg and up the other. After reaching her thigh, he lingered at her ass, outlining the curve of her buttocks and gently touching the crack of her ass. Although she growled “I’m sooo tired,” and began to make fake snoring noises, she gradually opened her legs, allowing him access to her pussy. Using the tip of her forefinger, he gently traced the outline of her labia, separating the delicate lips and feeling that she was extremely wet. This came as no surprise to him, she had pleasured him and two other men without anyone attending to her. Steve was determined to correct that immediately.

Dipping his finger in between her lips, he covered it with her wetness and then sought out her clit, teasing it with feather strokes when he found it. Her fake snores had long before turned to moans and his rhythmic stroking soon turned the moans to gasps and then a series of “oh, oh, ohs” as she ground her clit against his fingers, cumming explosively in just a few minutes. Steve, excited at watching her cum and, earlier in the evening, watching her suck off two men in quick succession, quickly removed his clothing and, propping up her hips with one of the many hotel pillows, kneeled between her legs, edging them apart and placing the head of his cock at the entrance to her pussy. As he rocked slowly, each time gaining deeper and deeper entrance into her, she said, “Pull out before you come, I’m not using any kind of protection.” Steve, propped up on his arms, began to thrust into her, each time faster and harder until, feeling the onset of an orgasm, he pulled all of the way out of her. As his cock sprang up and bounced against his stomach, he pressed forward so that he slid between her ass cheeks, his cock emerging from the top of her crack to shoot four long spurts of cum onto her. The first sailed over her back to land between her shoulder blades. The next three pooled in the small of her back. He leaned forward, kissed her cheek and whispered that he would get something to clean her off with.

Walking to the bathroom, he returned with a warm face cloth and towel and carefully wiped her back clean of his ejaculation. By now, her breathing had settled into a long and deep pattern, her only reaction to his ministrations being a soft moan when the warm cloth touched her flushed skin.

After washing and drying her off, Steve stepped back and looked at her for what he expected would be the last time. She was so beautiful and he had become so fond of her that he felt a dull ache both at her beauty and because of the fact that he would see her no more. He gently kissed each perfect ass cheek, kissed each of her shoulder blades, and finally, kissed her tenderly on her cheek. She, already much more asleep than awake, pursed her lips and air kissed in his direction before falling completely into a deep sleep.

After carefully covering her, he left, pausing sadly at the threshold to her room to take one last look at her.

Or so he thought. Several months later, while reading a magazine, checking his Blackberry and idly flipping through television channels, he was startled to hear a familiar voice as he went past one of the public access stations at the high end of the cable channels. There was no question who it was, he had replayed the evening in New Orleans so many times in his head that her voice had become like a familiar tune that refused to leave his head. Clicking back, he confirmed that it was her.

She was testifying in front of a state legislative committee. He was not surprised to see that, even in such a staid setting, she was mesmerizing. He recognized her outfit as being the same one she had worn in New Orleans. She had clearly captured the attention of the committee members, undoubtedly in part because she was radiant, but mostly because she was completely on top of all of the information relevant to her testimony. She answered all questions, even those asked by members hostile to her position, gracefully and, at times with humor. And there, on the bottom of the screen was her name, Kathy Allerton, and her organization, Earth Defenders.

Having been reminded of the name of the organization for which she worked (Steve had been so absorbed in how beautiful she was that he had forgotten it almost immediately after she said it in New Orleans) he rushed to his computer, went to the group’s website and called up her biography and photograph.

It was definitely her. He was not surprised to see that her credentials were stellar. She had attended one of the best women’s colleges in the country, graduating magna cum laude and Phil Beta Kappa and then went to an Ivy League law school. Throughout college and law school, she had been involved in a dizzying array of activities from Big Sisters, to being President of the Environmental Club and Editor of the environmental law journal. After being graduated from law school, she had clerked for a distinguished circuit court judge before going to Earth Defenders. She currently served on a number of Bar Committees and had written a series of law review articles about environmental law. And, finally, at the bottom of the page, was a link to her e-mail address.

Steve clicked on the link and started to write a message to her. His fingers flew over the keyboard as he wrote to her. His words were like a deluge, he described how wonderful she had been in the legislative committee, how much he had thought about her and how the evening in New Orleans had been one of the most exciting times in his life. As he wrote, though, the pace of his typing slowed. He found his enthusiasm diminished as he recalled how unequivocal she had been about never seeing him again. He remembered how fruitless his efforts to persuade her otherwise had been. He realized that the only thing more painful than not seeing her again was the image of her opening his e-mail and reacting not with joy but with embarrassment or dislike as she wondered what she could do to make sure that he got out of her life and stayed out. Imagining himself as the source of unhappiness to her was unbearable so, with the heaviest of hearts, he clicked on the “x” in the corner of his screen, clicked on “no” when asked by the computer prompt whether he wanted to save changes and sat alone on his living room sofa, dumbly watching the test pattern on the television screen in front of him.

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