Monday, June 14, 2010

Something in the Air

The air in the office was cool and dry, odourless. It was quiet. Snippets of some chatter drifted down the hall from the reception area. He was deep into a bunch of numbers, his brain flicking through obscure connections between bits and pieces of apparently unconnected information stored here and there in the folds and convolutions of his grey matter.

Two voices approached his door, male and female.  The other side of him, instinctual, deep inside his skull, Rex, stirred, nudging the rest of his brain off-focus a bit...  The female’s voice was high-pitched, girly. He was struggling to capture an insight that was eluding him while flipping through several articles on-screen. The voices stopped outside his door, his back to them.

A scent swirled in the air and suddenly Rex came awake, fully alert.  His gaze went up to the dim reflection of the window in front of him. In it he could make out, against the bright streetscape outside, one of his direct-reports, a cocky Labrador Retriever, standing in the doorway next to a much shorter, blond, female Maltese.

Hello, Roger” he said to the reflection, his attention still on the computer screen.  She tittered and Rex spun his chair around, a non-committal look on his face, one eyebrow raised, his eyes holding hers. Her gaze dropped to the floor.

He used the opportunity to appraise her, ever the "best-in-show" judge. Handsome proportions, he observed, delicate ankles and rounded calves, pretty face with a turned-up nose, blue-blue eyes, very long, wavy locks.  A proud bearing, not that old, but not that young, no rings...  He sensed she was used to leading the flow of things upon meeting males unfamiliar to her.  There'd be no intimate snuffling going on until she chose to turn and proffer her shapely hindquarters.

She clasped her hands together, pressing towards an intimate spot, creating a Y under the dress, unconsciously covering, but inadvertently drawing attention to what her subconscious told her she'd be smart to protect in this moment, the fingers intertwined, twisting just a little nervously. Her eyes came back up, but her chin stayed tucked in. He half expected her to cock her head to one side like a dog hearing a curious sound.



"Roger, you know how easily distracted I get, and now this?" He fixed Roger with a stern look, a crooked smile slowly melting it.

The Retriever looked slyly at his boss, back at the Maltese and back to Rex.  “This is Candice,” he said proudly, as though dropping a downed duck at the forepaws of the pack leader.  Roger, ever the keen understudy, knew what might please him.  Rex met his eye and suddenly realized that this was an offering, a career-building, pre-calculated maneuver.

Rex rose and extended his hand as he moved toward her, “The pleasure is all mine, Candice! And what brings you to my doorstep this morning?” She smiled demurely and met his hand with a surprisingly firm shake. He didn’t let go. Her smile dimmed as he stood patiently, waiting for an answer. “Ah, well…

Candice wants to work for us,” the Retriever piped in, his hand going to her shoulder in an effort to maintain some ownership. Rex tugged her hand, pulling her into his office and forcing Roger to drop his hand, limply. (Once a gift is given, it’s no longer yours...)  Rex continued to smile down at her, her hand still clasped in his, loosely, but momentarily irretrievably.

I’ve been thinking about making a change…” she ventured, looking up at him. He started intently into her wide, sapphire eyes, looking from one to the other and back, assessing the carat value. “Really” was all he said, then dropped her hand and sat down, still holding her eyes in lieu of those dainty fingers, then looked her up and down again. Not leeringly, just appraisingly, as though judging the appropriateness of her taste in office fashion against a mental checklist.

She looked down and smoothed the pink linen over her flanks. He watched her do so, let her see his eyes following her hands there, then brought his gaze back up. She started to flush, prettily, from the tasteful top edge of her dress, up her slim neck, up her dainty chin and all the way to her pulled-back hairline.

The Retriever, ignored back at the doorway, made a sound.  Rex ignored him further.

Rex breathed in through his snout, looking at her calmly, a long and leisurely sniff, savouring something floating tantalizingly in the ether between them. It wasn’t her perfume, it was her perfume.  The adept canine sense of smell picked up her scent -- subtle, tantalizing, filtered through the crisp linen. They were a match in that regard: a pheromone lock and key, an interesting tit-bit of information.  Actually quite rare between humans.  He stored it away for future use, then...

If you’re serious, we should talk further, Candice. I assume Roger has your contact info?

Yes sir, I do!” came the too-loud affirmation from the doorway, helpfully.

Without getting up, Rex extended his hand again, not shaking hers, just holding it momentarily, his fingers pressing the hollow of her palm, the thumb tracing the back of her hand, then letting it go with a small smile. “Actually, you call me if you want to get together, Candice, and I’ll free up some space. Roger?” he said and leaned to look around her. Roger stepped up.

You’ll facilitate that, won’t you?” he added, his face deadly serious. “Absolutely! Yes, I certainly will!” “Good man, Roger. Nice meeting you, Candice. I’ll look forward to seeing you again soon.”

He started swivelling his chair back around as she managed an “Oh, yes, well, thank you…” and turned to follow Roger out. Rex stopped rotating his chair and watched her go (well, not all of her).

She looked back, uncertainly.  He tipped his head in an approving nod to her.  She looked more uncertain as she disappeared around the door frame.

***

Something in the air held Rex’s attention, lingering, preventing much progress on the task at hand.

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