We had the perfect arrangement. Friends with benefits. We didn’t get attached. Neither of us wanted more. Everything was perfect.
Until Mike became my boss. I couldn’t sleep with my boss. I had no choice but to end things with him.
He didn’t agree with me. Not only that, but he doubled down and said he didn’t just want to keep seeing each other but he wanted to take things to the next level.
Friends with benefits was perfect.
Friends with benefits was easy.
Friends with benefits was not enough. Not anymore.
Excerpt from Shapely & Stunning
“Hello?” I answered without checking the screen. It’d been over an hour and I figured it was Addi telling me Sam was home.
“Lexi,” Mike breathed into the phone.
All my good parts jumped up and down waving, trying to get his attention through the phone. Damn. Just the sound of his voice and I was ready to come apart. It’d clearly been too long since I’d been laid.
“Yes, boss, what can I do for you?” I asked. Calling him ‘boss’ instead of Mike helped me remember who he was. Mike was my former lover. The man whose name I screamed when I’d had a bad day. The man who knew my body better than anyone else ever had. The man who worked me into a frenzy with a look and a simple touch.
Or just the sound of his voice apparently.
“Boss? Really? We’re not at work, Lex. Can we talk?” He sounded desperate, pleading. Maybe even sad.
“Honestly, boss, I have no idea where you are. It isn’t any of my business. It never really was, but it’s even less my business now. If you have something you need for work, then I’d be happy to help. If it has to do with anything else, well then…” I trailed off, letting him interpret it for what it was.
I didn’t want to talk about us. There was no us. Not anymore. Not ever again.
And damn if that pain in my chest wasn’t back.
“You know I’m not calling you about work. I miss you, Lex. I want to see you.”
I shook my head even though I knew he couldn’t see me. The words didn’t want to squeeze around the lump in my throat. The words that would tear me apart all over again.
“I can’t, Mike. I won’t sleep with my boss. I just can’t.”
“It might be fun,” he said in a teasing tone. “We’ve tried role-playing before. If memory serves you enjoyed it.”
I choked on the thoughts dancing in my brain. Mike surprised me one night with a Tarzan outfit. I had just come from a training class and was in a yellow button down shirt and khaki pants. Mike said I looked like Jane and went with it, crawling around on the ground, sniffing me, petting me. It was hilarious and steamy all at the same time.
It was one of my favorite memories with him.
“Maybe you’d like to play boss sometime. I remember how to take orders, Lexi,” Mike’s voice washed over me like a tidal wave. Exciting. Terrifying.
“Don’t say no, Lexi. Let’s just talk.”
I couldn’t say no. I couldn’t say anything. I wanted to talk to him, to be with him, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.
“Okay, I’ll talk. You just listen. I don’t want us to split up Lexi. I miss you. I wanted to share this with you. I know you wanted the job too. I’m sorry you didn’t get it. I really am. Maybe I should have told you I got the job before it was announced, but they told me not to tell anyone. I know it hurt you. I’m sorry, Lexi. But you being mad at me… I wish you hadn’t jumped into bed with Luke to hurt me-“
“What! You think I’m sleeping with Luke?”
Fury threatened to tear me in two. What the hell was wrong with him? How could he think I was sleeping with Luke?
“You told me you were when I stopped by your office earlier. Don’t you remember? You said he was taking care of everything you needed. That you didn’t need my help anymore.”
I groaned. He was right. I did make him think that. I wanted him to. But I wanted him to leave me alone, not get jealous and try to fight for me.
“I’m not sleeping with Luke. I… I shouldn’t have told you that. I just wanted you to give me some space. I told you… I can’t be with you anymore.”
“And I told you I’m not giving up. Dammit Lexi, what is the big deal? We’ve been sleeping together for a year. We’re good together. You know that. Nothing’s changed.”
“Everything’s changed!” I cried. “Don’t you get it. If anyone finds out we’re together and I get the X-7L job then it won’t matter how good I am at my job or how qualified I am. All that’ll matter is that I’m screwing the boss and he handed me a job.”
“I’d never do that. You know I wouldn’t give you a job.”
I laughed mirthlessly. “You say that, but what happens if we have a fight? Or if I break up with you? Or if you find someone else? Then what? You might say you won’t give me a job, and maybe you won’t intentionally, but would you take one away?”
“How could you think that? Do you really think so little of me?”
“I don’t know what to think, Mike. I know we’re compatible in bed, but I don’t know much about you besides that. I have no idea what you’re capable of.”
Mike let out a deep sigh. “That makes me sad, Lexi. It really does. I guess there’s nothing more to say then.”
He hung up without another word. I looked at my phone, ‘Call Ended’ flashing on the screen over Mike’s picture. It was one I took over the summer. We’d spent the day together at the beach. Winterville was close enough to Lake Erie that it was easy to go for a few hours. Mike had packed a lunch for us and thought of everything. He rubbed sunscreen onto my back and got a little handsy. We spent the day teasing each other and by the time we made it home we were both so hot for each other we barely made it in the door.
The picture was of Mike blowing me a kiss, sand flying from his fingers like a magical kiss come to life. He was smiling and I remember laughing until he came over and made that kiss come to life. It was just as magical as it looked on the camera.
My heart sunk as the picture faded to black. Mike was gone. I’d managed to get him to do exactly what I wanted him to do.
So why did that pain in my chest come back?