Page 114 of Overload

Nim smiled briefly. "If that's the way I looked, I suppose the answer's 'yes."'

Nancy put the sheet of stationery on top of the folder on his desk. "Want to tell me about it? Off the record, if you like."

"Yes," he said, "it'll be off the record. Her name was Karen Sloan. She was a quadriplegic, and had been one since she was fifteen." He stopped.

"Go on," Nancy said. "I'm listening."

"I think she was the most beautiful person-in every way-I've ever known."

A pause, then: "How did you meet her?"

"Accidentally. It happened right after that blackout last July Barely an hour ago Nim had longed for someone to talk to, to confide in.

Now, he poured it out to Nancy. She listened, interjecting an occasional question, but was mostly silent. When be described the manner of Karen's death, she stood up, moved around the room, and said softly, "Oh, baby! Baby!"

"So you see," Nim said, "I guess looking like something from a stable floor wasn't all that surprising."

Nancy had returned to the desk. She pointed to his spread-out papers.

“Then why are you bothering with all that crap?"

"I had work to do. Still have."

"Bullshit! Dump it and go home."

He shook his head and glanced toward the bed. "Tonight I'm sleeping here. We still have problems, and tomorrow-remember?-we start rolling blackouts."

"Then come home with me."

He must have looked startled because she added softly, "My pad is five minutes away. You can leave the phone number, then if you have to, you can get back here fast. If you don't get called, I'll make breakfast in the morning, before you leave."

They stood facing each other. Nim was aware of a musky perfume, of Nancy's slim, willowy, desirable body. He had an urge to know more about her. Much more. And he knew-as had happened so often in his life, and for the second time tonight-he was being tempted by a woman.

"You won't get the offer again," she said sharply. "So make up your mind. Yes or no?"

He hesitated for the briefest second. Then he told her, "Okay, let's go.