Authors: Ryan Parker
So, let me know?
By the way, my tits are real. Just in case you were wondering. You’ve never asked.
Before I had time to change my mind I hit SEND, and went back to work. I spent the afternoon worrying about what I had emailed him, but eventually talked myself into relaxing, because it was too late to take it back and there were really only two options at this point: 1) I would find myself in the perilous position of taking on more than I had anticipated, or 2) he would simply say no.
Something told me it would be the first.
Rachel was different from the start, and that was the problem.
When I received that first email from her six months ago and checked out her profile before reading what she had written to me, I was hesitant. She hadn’t included a picture on her profile, and I usually like to see who I’m talking to before I invest any time and effort into it.
I hadn’t posted a picture, either, but that didn’t stop me from viewing it as a deal-breaker when I ran across women’s picture-less profile.
Call it narrow-minded and selfish. I couldn’t argue with that.
But I made an exception with Rachel, and here’s why: She had written: “I see you’re an avid reader of old mysteries. Without cheating, do you know who produced the movie version of Raymond Chandler’s novel
The Big Sleep
No cheating necessary. I did know the answer, so I wrote back: “William Faulkner.”
I read her message twice, thinking…how odd, how original. I had received messages from women on the site who said nothing but “hello,” sent me pre-written ice-breakers provided by the site that read things like “You and I could be a match” or “Wink! Yes, I’m flirting with you,” and sometimes asking me to send a picture.
She hadn’t asked me for a picture, hadn’t even asked what I looked like. All she wanted to talk about was books at first, and I had no trouble doing that. I figured she had a good reason for searching out someone to discuss literature with.
Maybe she was lonely. I could relate to that.
I had not asked her to describe herself. Instead, I imagined her to be a plain woman who wouldn’t make me look twice.
That kept me from fantasizing about her looks when I thought of how interesting and smart she was. It also helped to prevent me from building up a fantasy about who she might really be as I sent her increasingly graphic emails.
I’d never written things like that to anyone before, much less someone I didn’t know, but she asked quite pointedly a few times. Once I obliged, there were no boundaries going forward.
Rachel had quite a way of expressing herself sexually to me. I found her emails to be written in an extremely enticing fashion, as if she’d spent hours picking just the right adjective to describe a particular moment or action.
Her emails were never about sex with men; they were always about her pleasuring herself. She wanted to share, I was always eager to read, and so that became a semi-regular part of our interaction.
She obviously wanted this to remain a strictly email relationship and I had no interest in taking it further than that, so it worked perfectly.
With her intelligence and down-to-earth nature, she wasn’t what I had joined the dating site for, anyway.
I signed up to meet women to fuck. That’s it. I made it very clear on my profile, so no deception was involved.
Almost none, anyway. I didn’t tell them I was looking for one-night stands. I figured I could let them think this might be an ongoing thing. But I couldn’t afford to let that happen.
Sound harsh and cruel? Trust me, I was saving them from getting too close to me and finding themselves in a far worse predicament than fucking a guy who disappears afterwards.
I also always used fake names. But again, with Rachel, I made an exception to the rule and she knew that Finn was my real name. It’s an uncommon first name, but a fairly common surname. Rachel didn’t know which it was, and I had no reason to believe she would be able to find out. Good enough.
This type of lifestyle wouldn’t be my first choice. No rational person would choose to endure what I did and have their life turn out like mine.
But despite what lots of people believe, you don’t choose exactly how your life is going to be. You make choices along the way, free will being what it is, and your life unfolds before you. Big difference.
For me, that choice came over ten years ago, and here I was, living a life of calculated secrecy and constant deception. It is what it is.
Not having any kind of serious relationship was simply the best option at this point in my life. I couldn’t let anyone get too close to me.
I had almost let that happen eight years ago. I had gone four months without sex. That’s a long time for anyone, but especially long for a twenty-two year old guy whose sex drive was stronger than his need to eat.
Her name was Juliana. She was an exchange student from Brazil. She worked as a nanny, and always used to bring the kids to a park where I spent a lot of time playing basketball.
Back then, I never hesitated to approach a woman I was attracted to. Unlike recent years, in which I had been much more discreet.
I put the hard sell on her, convinced her to go to a bar with me one night, and we ended up at her place early, having spent very little time at the bar. What tempted me to see her a second time was her magical mouth. I could have seen her every day if it were possible, laying back, watching those lips and tongue carrying out what was almost oral performance art. And she had an amazing knack for incorporating her breasts into the act. She loved sucking cock, and I’ll never be known for discouraging that.
I saw her a second time, just to have her do that again. I wanted the visuals permanently seared into my memory.
As always, though, I had to disappear. Risking my safety was out of the question.
And that’s why I say that Rachel being different was a problem. She was, to say the least, tempting. Not because of her libertine attitude towards sex. Well, maybe partly because of that. But more so because she was fascinating to me on an intellectual level.
I was sure I’d never be able to meet her and do what I had in mind when I signed up to meet women from that site. Along with our racy email fantasies, Rachel and I shared real-life, normal conversations about various things going on in our lives or in the world at large. I felt like I was getting to know her, and like she was getting to know me—as much as either of us was willing to allow. Despite not sharing too much about our identities and personal lives, we connected in a way I hadn’t expected.
When I began telling her stories about my sexual encounters, she had become something of a fantasy for me. I got turned on writing to her, and wildly aroused when she wrote back, usually telling me what she had done while reading my email. And no matter where I was—at home or at the bookstore—I would find myself in a situation where I had to give myself some relief from the pent-up frustration of not being able to fuck Rachel.
All because of her words.
I always imagined Rachel reading my emails and fingering herself. It’s one thing to have women get off on my cock or my tongue, but as much as I love the written word, it’s an entirely different thing imagining her pleasuring herself to the words I wrote.
I often wondered if Rachel and I would burn out with all the written correspondence. And if so, would she be content to cut off all ties, coldly and suddenly? She’d have to be, because that’s the way I would have to do it. But for now, I was going forward as I had been, carrying out my responsibilities first and having fun second.
She knew more about me than anyone else, but still there were secrets I held onto. She didn’t know that I owned a rare bookstore. She didn’t know that I lived in Baltimore, almost an hour away from D.C.
She avoided revealing too much about herself as well. I didn’t know where she lived. She might have had a place in the city, or just outside it, somewhere in northern Virginia or western Maryland, for all I knew. I didn’t know where she worked. Maybe, because she was in DC, she worked for a lobbying or law firm. That wasn’t such a bad guess considering how many people in that area held those jobs.
The only thing I had told her about my work was that I was in sales. I could have gone with something else, been more specific. It wouldn’t have been difficult to make something up. I’ve been so many things—an electric company employee, meter reader, land surveyor, basically any type of serviceman you might see in your neighborhood and not think twice about.
And they were all lies.
The bookshop job is real, but it’s not my actual work, it’s just a front.
And that’s where I was on the afternoon everything changed with just one email from her. I had been using the cheap desktop computer that I had bought just to run the store inventory software and to do simple things like email and basic web browsing. Mostly, I used my phone or iPad for personal and recreational stuff like that, but on rare occasions I would use the work computer.
Rachel never failed to respond to my emails on her lunch break. It was one of the highlights of my day. Her emails kept me grounded, helping me hold on to a bit of normalcy, even though our relationship was far from conventional.
I got her latest response as I was sitting behind the counter in my bookshop.
She wanted to meet. So much for thinking she’d never ask.
She wanted to experience what all the other women experienced. Just great. Even after we had discussed why we couldn’t and shouldn’t, why I didn’t want to, and why it would change everything for us. We had agreed upon those things, and the topic had never come up again.
What she didn’t know, though, was that lately my thoughts had been going in the same direction. Not logically, but sexually.
That’s the thing about fantasies: you can’t control them. You can’t will them into existence, and you can’t wish them out. They’re just…there.
“Why don’t you eat lunch with me sometime?” The question came from Tara, the only person I would even remotely consider calling a friend, and even then it would just be one of those work-friend type of things.
She worked with me at the FBI mail sorting and security facility. Nearly every piece of mail that went into the main FBI building went by Tara and me first, or any of our two dozen or so co-workers.
That sounds way more interesting than it really is. I work in a large room in the basement, conducting x-ray scans of every package and piece of mail that enters the building.
It’s a boring job, watching those packages roll through on a conveyer belt. Sometimes I wish something exciting would happen, but in my line of work, excitement would mean something dangerous was going on.
Tara was about my age, single, and always seemed to be happy. She wore a Band-Aid on her nose every day to cover her nose-ring. The FBI HR department gave her two choices: take it out or cover it up. So, rather than take it out for work, she instead chose to walk around all day, every day, looking like she had injured her nostril.
We were standing on either side of a conveyer belt, unloading crates of mail that had been delivered while we were on lunch. We wore clear plastic suits over our clothes, plastic caps on our heads, glasses, and latex gloves. Despite these precautions, I had read that it wasn’t enough to protect against something like an Anthrax-laced envelope, but I didn’t worry about it too much.
“I like to read while I eat. I’d be a boring lunch date, trust me,” I said, trying to discourage her from insisting that we eat lunch together.
“Oh, come on,” Tara said over the loud noise of the belt machines. “What do you really do when you clock out for lunch and leave the building? Meet a guy or something?”
but I only have his written words.
I laughed at her suggestion. “No, nothing like that.”
“Then what is it? Is it me? Do I talk too much? Some people say I talk too much. But, hey, I just like to talk. I promise if we had lunch together, I wouldn’t talk your ear off. You can do most of the talking. I want to know more about you. You’ve barely told me anything and I’ve told you, like, practically my whole life story.”
It was true. She had told me what seemed like her entire background, and that had been when we first met. I smiled and said, “Well, maybe sometime,” grabbed the empty mail bin and took it to the loading dock. I needed to get away for a few minutes. Not because she talked too much. I was used to that. I needed to get away because I didn’t like the thought of her asking a million questions about my life. She wanted to know more about me. Sorry. Not likely to happen.
Not even my boss knew very much about me. The HR department did, though.
To get a job working at the FBI, I had to undergo a thorough background check. I’d never committed a crime. Never even had a speeding ticket. I’d never been kicked out of school, didn’t have any shady ex-boyfriends, and I had a decent credit rating, something they check to make sure you’re not vulnerable to blackmail.
With no family history to check, there wasn’t much for them to dig into. I had no sketchy relatives, no brother with a drug problem, no aunt who I owed money to. Nothing.
I’m a private person, and with good reason. Things have been taken from me in my life, so I’m not the least bit eager to put myself out there to anyone other than an employer.
Finn, to some degree.
That reminded me, I needed to check to see if he had written back. I’d been so busy all afternoon that I’d almost forgot to check. Truthfully, I was probably pushing it to the back of my mind, fearing that my email had spooked him.
Maybe he’d refuse my suggestion. Maybe he’d even say he didn’t think we should talk anymore. Or, worse, maybe there would be no email at all and I would never hear from him again.
I stepped out into the parking lot near the loading dock. Several people were out there having a smoke break. There were five of them, all guys. One of them, a security guard named Tony, was telling a story in a hushed tone—as if I wanted to hear anyway—and suddenly they all broke out in laughter and some high-fives were exchanged.
“Rachel.” Tony’s voice cut through the noise the guys were making.
I stopped and turned to see him approaching me.
“Taking a break?” he asked.
“Yeah, I really need to check my messages and make a phone call.”
He looked at my hand when I held it up, showing him the phone, as if I needed to provide proof that I wasn’t lying to him.
He had never asked me out, but he was always flirty with me, and Tara said it wouldn’t be long before he tried.
I’d had no interest in the guy. I’d had no interest in anyone, actually, for a long time. Until Finn. But there was something about Tony that was unsettling.
Maybe it was how he seemed to try too hard to be liked. Maybe it was the way he always had a question to ask, something about what I was doing that weekend or other things relating to my personal life. I don’t know. I could never put my finger on it. Just one of those feelings you get about people.
“What kind of phone is that?” he asked.
“One of the older iPhones.”
“I’ve been thinking about getting one,” he said, reaching for it. “Can I see it?”
I winced. “I’m sorry, I’m kind of a germaphobe.”
“Oh.” He pulled his hand back to his own personal space. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay,” I said, even though it wasn’t. “And I really don’t have much time.”
“Hey, okay, that’s cool. I’ll see you around later, huh?” He lifted his other hand to his mouth and put the cigarette between his lips, drawing in some smoke and letting it drift out of his mouth.
I stepped away from the blue cloud of smoke and around a corner into the warm sun, and breathed a deep sigh when I opened the email app on my phone, heard the chime, and saw an email from a local furniture store, telling me all about their upcoming sale on recliners.
Finn had not written back.
Dejected, I returned to my workstation.
Tara was coming back from the restroom and said, “Hey, I’m sorry if I’m pushy. I don’t mean to be. I’ll stop asking, okay? But if you ever need to talk…you know?” She gave me a genuine smile.
“Thanks,” I said, returning the smile, and then returned to my work.
. . . . .
On the way home later Thursday afternoon, I tried not to sulk. He hadn’t written me back all day. It was unusual not to receive something from him at lunch, and even stranger for him to go twenty-four hours with no response.
I figured I had pushed him away. I just hoped it was only temporary. If he wrote back with a rejection, I’d accept it and promise to never suggest it again.
I even thought of sending another email to preempt his, but thought better of it. If he needed his space and some time to think about it, I should give it to him. Even though the suspense was killing me, and the worst thing about it was that I had brought it on myself.
My Thursday evening began like all my other nights. I stopped at a grocery store and picked up a salad, some freshly made sushi, and a bottle of red wine.
I’m not much of a cook, so I usually try to find something relatively healthy to take home. Sometimes, when I’m standing in line, I’ll see a person making a similar purchase, and often they’re buying for two. Sometimes more. It’s a constant reminder of my quiet, sheltered life.
But I have my comfort elements: food, wine, and something on Netflix or HBOGO to watch. That’s life as a single woman with no family whatsoever, and who chooses to have no social life.
The only meaningful interaction I have is with dogs. One in particular, an Irish Setter named Winnie. I volunteer at a no-kill dog shelter a few times a week, sometimes more if I feel like I need it.
I’d never had pets as a child, and only discovered my love of dogs in the last couple of years. It sucks to say this, but I find that I like them better than people. They’re loyal, they’re always happy to see you, they don’t stab you in the back, and they’re incapable of saying nasty things about you. Not that they would. That’s where the loyalty part comes in.
My apartment is small, but cozy. Too small for a dog, unfortunately. But it’s all mine. I’ve lived here since I was twenty-two, the longest I’d ever lived anywhere. It was truly my first and only actual home in my entire life.
I had bought poster prints of famous works of art that I enjoyed, each costing me less than ten bucks, and I’d put them in poster frames that cost no more than each poster. An inexpensive way to give the place a little class. At least those parts of the walls that weren’t covered with bookshelves.
I had so many books that I suppose I could be classified as a hoarder, but I’ve never cared. I buy them new or used, doesn’t matter. I buy books in genres I’ve never read but might decide to someday. I buy different editions of my favorite titles if they’re ever re-released with new covers. They’re all organized alphabetically, by genre. If you walked into my apartment, you’d think you were in a small used bookshop.
I save my electronics for browsing the net, streaming movies and TV shows, and checking email, so I’ll be one of the last people to make the transition to ebooks. I crave the feel of a physical book. I love the smell of a book, older ones with the scent of dust, newer ones that emit the aroma of fresh ink right in your face when you fan the pages close up.
Sometimes when I’m really down or can’t sleep, I pick a favorite book and flip randomly to any section just to read the words that at some point in my life gave me comfort or allowed me to escape for a little while. It’s not an exaggeration to say that books saved my life on more than one occasion.
They also provided me with a rich—and safe—fantasy life.
I had a shelf dedicated to erotica and erotic romance. Sometimes I wanted a story with more plot, deeper characters, some love between them to go along with the sex. Other times, alone and late at night just before going to bed, I needed erotica.
Those were the nights when I didn’t care whether the characters were fully fleshed out, so to speak, or whether there was any plot or even a logical reason for them to be having sex, much less in the same room or even on the same planet.
I just wanted something stimulating. Something to make parts of me tingle and throb, parts that no man had touched in a long, long time.
In the last six months, though, I hadn’t opened an erotica book. Not once. I had no need to. If I wanted to read something sexually enthralling, I opened my email and picked something dirty that Finn had written to me.
Now, I was waiting on a simple “yes” or “no.”