Authors: Lynne Silver
Catherine Schilling has done nothing but work since her divorce a year ago. A trip to Rapture Spa seems like the perfect way to begin pampering herself and having some fun. But Catherine soon learns that Rapture isn't like other spas, starting with her irresistibly sexy massage therapist, Hunter. His sensual massage turns too erotic, too forbidden to allowâ¦but Catherine and Hunter's attraction is too strong to deny. And luckily for Catherine, Hunter agrees that one session just isn't enoughâ¦.
There was no warning there would be singing. One moment, I was studying the dessert menu, and the next, singing, tuxedoed waiters surrounded me, placing a flourless chocolate cake with a sparkler dancing on top on my plate. I glared across the table into the laughing eyes of my best friend, Lauren.
“I didn't think restaurants like this sang âHappy Birthday,'” I accused her. I glanced around, embarrassed, and sure enough, people at the neighboring tables averted their eyes. They doled out some noncommittal polite applause when I doused my sparkler in my water glass but then returned to their meals.
Lauren laughed. “Catherine, relax! I just flirted with the head waiter, and henceâ¦singing! Don't be uptight. Five years ago, you would have stood on your chair to join the chorus. Since your divorce, you forgot how to have fun, which leads me to my next item on the agenda.” She paused dramatically, reaching into her purse.
“Voila! Your birthday gift,” Lauren said, sliding a large cerulean-blue envelope across the table to me.
I thought about protesting, but nixed the idea. Single girls learned to take gifts where they could get them, and Lauren's envelope looked enticing. The envelope slid open with a
as I slid a fingernail under the flap.
“Rapture Spa?” I asked. “You got me a massage?”
“Not just any massage,” Lauren corrected, “The
massage in New York City.”
“What,” I joked, “they offer Happy Endings?”
Lauren's eyelids fluttered suspiciously for a second. “Just make the appointment,” she urged. “It has been a year since your divorce, and all you do is work. Even lawyers deserve some downtime.”
Lauren and I dug our spoons into the warm oozing chocolate cake and chatted about mutual friends. It seemed all our old friends from college were either procreating or divorcing. I fell into the latter category.
About a year and half ago, my ex, Alexander, decided he couldn't take the pressure of Manhattan investment banking. He shed his suits and ties for granola and tie-dye and headed to the jungles of Guatemala, or Costa Rica, I forget which, to become an Eco-tour guide. He didn't even invite me along. Not that I would have gone, but it would have been nice to have been asked. Especially after four years of marriage.
Divorce is a funny thing. It makes people think they have the right to say things they would never normally say.
Like “At least you didn't have kids,” from my friend Sara.
Or “If you had been home taking care of him instead of working all hours at your law firm, he never would have left.” You could probably guess that came from my grandma Faith.
And the grossest response from Alexander's office mate, Peter, “Wanna have a single-life celebratory rebound fuck?”
Well, maybe I
kids, and I love my job. And
, I most certainly did not want to sleep with Peter that perverted ass-wipe.
Aaron was my celebratory rebound fuck. He works in the West Coast office of my firm, and we had always enjoyed a little innocent flirting when he came to town on business. With Alexander gone, the flirting turned to a little bit more. Okay, quite a bit more, truth be told.
But the one time with Aaron had been the last time I'd slept with anyone. It was just easier to throw myself into work. Maybe Lauren was right. I was feeling a little drained lately. I looked down at my uneven, unpolished fingernails and then ran a hand through my unstyled hair. I could not remember the last time I had it colored. Or shopping? When was the last time I bought anything other than a boring suit for work? I used to love buying flirty, trendy dresses and impractical pocketbooks that held nothing more than a lipstick. Yes, Lauren was right. I needed to pamper myself, and a spa treatment was the perfect way to get started. I would call for an appointment as soon as I got home from lunch.
“Thank you for calling Rapture Spa,” answered a female voice on the other end with an untraceable snooty accent. “How may I assist you today?”
“Hi, I received a gift certificate for a treatment for my birthday,” I informed the faceless voice. “I'd like to go ahead and set up an appointment for next Saturday.”
“Next Saturday?” I could hear her clacking away at a keyboard.
“We have an opening for 10:00 a.m. Does that time work for you?”
“Sure,” I agreed. I could get my massage and get some work done after.
“Have you ever been serviced at Rapture before?” the faceless voice asked. By now, I visualized one of those perfect model-type women with shiny, frizz-free, bouncy blond hair and flawless olive hued skin.
The Heidi Klum-clone continued as though reading from a script. “I need to ask you a few questions to ensure you are set up with the perfect technician for you. Please be assured all answers are kept strictly confidential. It will take a few minutes. Do you have time now?”
“Um, sure,” I responded, unsure of what would follow. Usually the only question was “male or female?”
“Would you prefer a male or female technician?”
“Hmm, men have stronger fingers don't they? Better to reach my sore muscles. I'll go with male.”
“Do you have an ethnicity preference?” she asked.
“Excuse me?” I sputtered, what kind of question was that? “Equal Opportunity massaging is my motto,” I told her somewhat indignantly.
“Would you prefer completely manual or is other stimulation desired?”
“Um, manual?” I ventured. I'd only been to a spa a handful of times and was not hip to all the lingo and treatments offered, but I wanted to play it cool with this one. I'd heard about Eastern treatments involving electrical stimulation and cupping, and it sounded a bit intense for a newbie spa-goer like myself.
“Ok, last question. For an add-on, would you like a shower treatment following the massage?”
I thought about it briefly, but turned it down. “No thanks, I'll just shower at home.”
“We will see you next Saturday, October 2 at ten in the morning,” she confirmed and hung up.
My week flew by as it usually does with legal cases piling up on my desk. I'm a real estate attorney, and in New York City that means I know who paid what for multimillion dollar pads. I deal in seven-figure properties only, which means I rub elbows with some of the city's finest and most notorious residents. Well, strictly speaking, my boss does the talking. I'm the helpful grunt in the corner of the room reading over legalese and highlighting where to sign.
One of Manhattan's preeminent CEOs was voted down by his board this week and needed to off-load his apartment, ASAP. That meant I gained tired eyes every night poring over documents and disclosures, but at last it was Saturday: massage day.
I needed a map or a GPS device to find Rapture. A single wooden door and discreet gold plated sign were the only markers of the supposedly high-end spa in the heart of the Upper East Side. I missed the door at least five times in my quest to find the spa near 60
and Madison, and I had walked by here a zillion times on my way into the Anya Hindmarch store to satisfy my handbag addiction.
When I finally found my way into Rapture, I felt soothed by the place's appearance. Comfort and luxury surrounded me as soon as I stepped off the elevator. Soothing classical music chimed harmoniously with the tinkling of a waterfall that fell in a sheet along one wall from the ceiling into a stone pool on the floor. I made my way across the natural mosaic ceramic tiles to the desk.
Heidi Klum-clone had the day off, because, rather than a five-ten blonde goddess working the reception desk, there stood six feet of muscular, masculine perfection. He smiled at me crookedly and pushed his chestnut hair out of his eyes. I noticed well-groomed fingernails and large, tan hands. Hands I envisioned running all over my naked body. I stood dazed, smiling at him like an idiot until he spoke.
“Please, come all the way in. Despite my formidable appearance, we're very friendly here at Rapture. I'm Hunter.” He gestured to his immaculate suit and tie, an outfit I was not expecting at a day spa.
“Hi,” I answered. “Sorry for my delay, your suit did rattle me for a second. I feel a bit underdressed.” I indicated my yoga pants and oversize sweatshirt.
Handsome Hunter, as I dubbed him, laughed; a genuine, show-your-teeth laugh. Pleasure whispered through me that he appreciated my zany sense of humor.
“You're funny. I love funny,” he told me. “I'm dressed like this since I attended a meeting before heading here, but you don't want to hear about me. You need to get ready for your treatment. What is your last name?”
I really, really do want to hear about you, I thought but answered his question. “Schilling, Catherine reporting for duty.” I mocked saluted him, acting silly to hide my total and instant infatuation with him.
He grinned and moved the mouse to read the computer monitor. “According to the calendar, this is your first time visiting Rapture.”
“Sir, yes sir,” I answered, still goofing around.
“Private Schilling, if you could take a moment to fill these waivers and questionnaire out by oh-four-hundred hours, I would appreciate it.” Hunter handed me a long clipboard filled with ten point font and multiple spots for my initials.
Yay, he got my humor
played along. The man was a keeper. I accepted the clipboard and scanned it quickly, something every lawyer excels at. I wrote in the date of my last health exam and signed the waiver confirming I had no communicable diseases. I promised on the nondisclosure to maintain discretion about fellow spa guests, and then I was ready. I handed over the clipboard and waited for the next directions.
He accepted my offerings, and then he looked up and smiled.
“Let me walk you back to the women's dressing room.”
He emerged from behind the desk and held open the frosted glass door. His hand gripped mine to guide me, but then he pulled away and looked with bemusement at his hand then led the way down the hall.
I followed and nearly walked into the door due to Butt Admiration Disorder. He had a prize ass, and I don't consider myself a bum-connoisseur. A great smile is usually all it takes to cause belly flip-flops for me. Taking care to project my eyes upward, I trailed him down a lushly carpeted corridor leading to another frosted glass door. He handed me a key with a little number on it.
“Locker forty-two. You will find a robe and slippers waiting for you in the locker. Slip them on and come out to the waiting room here.” He indicated a small circular room off to the left I had not noticed before. “Your technician will come find you. Enjoy!” He walked off down the hall leaving me to enter the locker room.
As soon as the door shut behind him, I inwardly cursed. Damn it, I should've asked for his number or something, anything to keep talking to him. I sighed and chalked up one more loss for Team Catherine.
My hand reached out to open the door a crack before lowering it again. Taking a deep, cleansing breath, I pushed the door all the way open and stepped inside. A flowery aroma wafted over me on a cloud of steam emanating from the hot tub to the right of the room. To the left of me stood two rows of dark wood lockers and chocolate-brown leather benches. A cloud of steam parted, giving me better viewing into the hot tub, but then I quickly averted my eyes. I sneaked a glance again at the hot tub again, because, much to my surprise, two naked women floated in the water, locked in an embrace.
They both appeared to be my age and unconcerned that anyone could, and did, walk in on them. One of the women looked up from the embrace and smiled at me.
“Get changed and come join us,” she beckoned. “The water is lovely today.”
I slapped a nervous smile on my face. “I'm sorry but I have a massage scheduled in a few minutes.” I paused. “Thank you for the invitation, though.” A pickup is always flattering even if it comes from two exhibitionists in a women's locker room.
I escaped to the locker room and found my number. With a little click, the key opened the door. Another sideways glance at the hot tub lovers showed them to be oblivious to me, so I slid off my sneakers and thumbed down my stretchy pants. My top and bra flew up over my head as I simultaneously reached for the silky robe hanging on a hook in the locker.
As the robe slid on, a sensuous aura immediately seized me. What was this robe made of? It had to be illegal or else all clothes in the world would be made of it, and society would fall apart due to rampant hugging and caressing in the streets. I slipped on the equally luxurious slippers that fit me like a glove. Usually spa slippers flopped around like flailing fish on a boat deck. Whoever ran this place knew her stuff. With the required dress code adorning me, I made my way back to the exit of the locker room.
At that moment another woman entered, glowing with her “just been pampered” aura. A glance at her awakened my anticipation for a relaxing massage, but also revealed her robe to be completely transparent. The old children's rhyme, “I see London, I see France,” sang in my mind, except, in this case, I saw Brazil. The vision of her nude body jarred me. I completed a one-eighty back to the full-length mirrors lining one wall. Yep, my robe was completely see-through, too.
I know my body is pretty decent, but I see no need to show it off to all and sundry. My past lovers had all-access viewing, but they were it. Even in college, I did not parade around roommates in the buff. I stared at my seminude reflection in the mirror for another minute then shrugged. I needed a massage, and I wanted it now. With a decision made, I exited the locker room to make my way to the waiting room.
Once there, I sank back into a velour covered lounge chair and propped my feet up, excited to read the latest issue of celebrity gossip rags. I refuse to buy tabloids and support paparazzi making a living off stalking celebrities. However, my vow does not exclude lapping up every bit of delicious dirt on line at the supermarket or at the hairdresser, which I am wont to do.
One glance at the magazine rack revealed another spa surprise. No Britney, no Lindsay or even Paris stared back at me. Instead I faced more naked bodies, most of them male. Delicately pinching one magazine cover between my forefinger and thumb, I gingerly lifted it up toward me and placed it on my lap. The magazine fell open to reveal a mostly nude man dressed in some sort of western costume. Honestly, wouldn't it be quite uncomfortable to go riding with chaps, boots and nothing else? I giggled to myself, but then continued to examine the male model. His chiseled jaw and well-defined abdominal muscles had my attention, not to mention his erect penis which jutted out beneath the black leather chaps. I shifted slightly in my seat feeling a long dormant pulse of excitement at viewing a fully aroused male. I ran a fingertip down the center of the model's pectorals, imagining for a moment that I felt warm, sinewy muscle, not cold glossy magazine paper. My finger started to move lower, when Hunter poked his head in the room and called my name.
“Schilling, Catherine?” he teased. “I'm ready for you now.” He stepped fully into the room wearing a white undershirt and tight black boxer briefs, revealing what his suit had only hinted at. He defined magnificent. “I'm going to be your technician today.”
A ringing started in my ears that lasted anywhere from ten seconds to ten minutes. I lost my sense of time for those moments. It ended when Hunter bent down, removed the magazine from my grasp and pulled me up by my clenched fists.
“But, but, you work the desk. And you're naked,” I stammered, pointing an accusing finger at him. “What if your boss sees you dressed like that? Don't you have some sort of uniform?”
He laughed. “I was only covering the desk for a sick receptionist, and this is the uniform. Female masseuses wear the same, only boy shorts instead of briefs. Come on, our room is this way.”