I did something I had never done before. I took her hand and lifted it to my lips. I kissed her hand. I said good night, a single, final caress to her cheek with the backs of my fingers. Then I turned and watched her walk inside.

I drove back to the B&B and stayed up doing emails and reading reports, because there was no way I could sleep. I missed her. I might not see her again. I had agreed not to seek her out, agreed it was a bad idea. We were enemies. This was going nowhere.

I thought of her while I worked. I thought of her while I was at the gym doing punishing interval training just to try and work the tension out of my body. She consumed me, even at a distance.



I had to do something besides lie awake thinking of that kiss. I felt completely exposed, completely cherished. I felt oversexed from a single kiss. Like I had what my friend Cat called dick withdrawal, like I wanted it all the time, like I was deprived of a drug I needed to function. To call him a thirst trap was an understatement. I wanted him with every breath. I was in danger of wearing out a vibrator on fantasies about his hands in my hair. Just thinking about the way he’d kissed me below my ear, the sudden hard suck that had shot shock waves straight to my clit, had me ready to go off in an instant.

I even messaged Layla and asked for her recommendations. Layla was the local sex toy connoisseur, who frequently told us at margarita nights that there was one for every occasion.

“What do you use when completely frustrated?”

“Internal or suction?” she asked, as if I knew the difference.

“Idk,” I answered.

“Suction will curl your toes first, internal like a rabbit or a dildo if you want to pound.”

“The pounding,” I said, “Definitely.”

She messaged me links, told me the best ones. I ordered one. I paid for overnight shipping. It wouldn’t be what I needed, but it might take the edge off. And if something didn’t take the edge off soon, I was going to end up in a mental institution. I was crabby, irritable, my mom even asked if I had bad PMS this month or what because I cut her off when she was telling a story about someone from church, and I had already heard it. I was usually way more patient.

When the toy came, I gave it a workout, but it was nothing, nothing like the way I’d felt with Jeremiah Leeds’s hand in my hair and his mouth on mine. It was a pale imitation, a machine to do a man’s job. I almost cried with frustration over the slight flutters of insufficient orgasm that it produced. In frustration, I scrubbed my kitchen and tried to make soup.

I threw myself into work. I needed a program to encourage the community and increase interest in my business. An after-school program with homework help and fun activities would help the non-factory parents who had different shift dismissal times, and it would add in some school-age kids of current clients. That’s increased support for the factory workers and adding enrichment for the kids. I started looking up easy STEM activities for them, planned to run the program myself with one aid, possibly even hiring a high school helper for assistance with snack and homework. There were plenty of kids at the school who were doing family consumer sciences classes and could use the money. I made myself a list and got started. My staff was receptive to it and we worked up a serious plan. In no time I had a flier to post at the factory as well as a copy up on our Facebook and website.

I decided to take the fliers up myself. I mean, sure, a parent at drop-off would’ve happily taken the stack of red paper up to the factory and had them posted around, but this was something I should see to myself. For proper placement and maximum exposure. And in NO WAY was I trying to run into Jeremiah Leeds.

I stood around chatting with Lindsay, a girl I graduated with who was now the assistant to the foreman.

“Sure thing, I’ll post these up everywhere. You know how much we love the Fun Factory around here. If it wasn’t for you, there’s no telling how most of our line workers could make it here on time, what with your early drop-off time.”

“Thanks, Lindsay. And you know how important the plant is to my daycare center, too. If it wasn’t for y’all, I wouldn’t have a business.”

“That’s right. We all work together around here to make things go right. I just wish this corporate guy would go back where he came from,” she said.

Tags: Natasha L. Black Romance
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