The assumption is employees hook up or, at least, get naughty at Christmas parties. But that isn’t the case in the real business world. Office parties are one evening with a few drinks. Then the employees go home alone. The real hookups happen where there are fewer eyes and longer nights. They happen at business conferences.
Marjorie worked for EDS Consulting and her company’s booth was directly across from my company’s display exhibit. Her company had a simple logo. The text was blue and shifted forward as if in a race.
The first morning, I watched Marjorie tap on her phone as she sat beneath the large lighted EDS logo. Some people walked by, but she didn’t pay attention.
On the other side of the aisle, I tried to work the passersby. I greeted them, told a few jokes, and complimented outfits. Make note that these weren’t ComiCon or Anime Expo goers dressed in outlandish outfits. This conference’s attendees wore dark business suits, dull neckties, and soft-soled wing-tips. All that to say, my compliments were rare and exaggerations of fashion sense. Business development, however, is about aggrandizement and smiles.
I walked to the EDS Consulting booth. Marjorie didn’t acknowledge me.
“I want some service,” I said and knocked on the tabletop.
Her eyes rolled up sarcastically. “Go away.”
“Whoa, Marj, do you hate conferences?”
Her eyes didn’t leave her phone. “Am I not obvious enough?”
“This conference can’t be that bad. We’re out of the office. I get tired of sitting at the same desk all week. There’s a potted spider plant in my office window that has never grown. That says something about office life. Corporate incarceration.”
She didn’t respond.
I tried to weasel some conversation out of her. “Are you staying in this hotel?”
When she remained silent, I took it as an obvious clue: stop talking. But I also took it as a chance to prod and provoke her—playfully. I didn’t want a sulking woman so close to me. She would ruin the atmosphere, and I was there to have a good time. Unfortunately, I couldn’t pick up and take my exhibit elsewhere, like a little kid with his toy. So I let her be grumpy.
I shook hands with two friendly men strolling through the aisles.
“You’ve got full gift bags. Any hints on where to uncover the expo’s treasures?”
“About two rows over is a wheel of fortune,” one of them said. “I won two tickets to see Harry Manilow live.”
“You mean Barry.”
“No, it’s Harry.” He pulled out the tickets to prove it. “He sings Barry’s songs.”
“Do you like Manilow?”
“Sure, but—” he laughed, “I like free tickets even more.”
“One of Barry’s songs is Copacabana. Can you sing it?”
“I don’t think so.” He brushed off the notion.
I looked at the other guy.
“Don’t even.” He backed up, hands held high.
“If you sing a few lines, I’ll donate to the Harry Manilow concert tickets. Yeah, I’ll give a hundred dollars. Cash. Right now.”
“How much of the song?” the first guy asked.
I had intrigued him, and now was my first attempt to prod Marjorie.
I leaned forward and said softly, “Just sing it toward EDS Consulting. A few lines, until she looks up.”
“A hundred dollars, right? No tricks?”
“Another fifty bucks for making her smile.”
“Deal,” he said. He cleared his throat and pivoted to EDS.
Then I heard, “Her name was Lola! She was a showgirl!”
By the time he got to “with yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there,” he was already acting out the words.
The other guy turned to me. “She still hasn’t cracked a grin. What a crab.”
“Fifty bucks down the drain.” I shrugged.
Then I heard, “At the Copa, Copacabana!”
And more people joined in. “Hottest spot north of Havana! Music and passion were always the fashion.”
In no time, it was like a conference flash mob. After the chorus, the singers dispersed, laughing.
“She smiled! It was sarcastic but a smile,” the lead singer said. His friend confirmed it. “She was hard to break, but I did it.”
I pulled out the hundred and fifty from my billfold.
“Deal’s a deal.” I slapped the bills into his hand. “And thanks.”
He strode off glad to be richer.
When the two guys left, Marjorie was standing. She was pissed.
“Why?” she demanded.
“We want to have fun. I’m not here to sulk,” I said.
“I’m here to work.” She sharpened her glare. “This is not a party.”
“All right, it’s not a party, exactly. But it is a good time on the company’s dime.”
She again brushed off my positive perspective on conferences. She sat under the EDS and toyed with her phone, so I prodded one more time, a little harder.
“Your attitude is giving EDS a bad name.”
“And your antics are doing the same for your company. A Copacabana flash mob? Leave me the hell alone.” Suddenly, she stood and stormed off.
Whoops. I may have gone too far. But testing dark waters and teasing dark women can lead to lost toes.
The EDS booth was empty. She was absent for a while, likely getting food and cooling down her anger. I continued to mix and mingle with the passersby. This conference was for the company, so I felt a duty to do my job—or something similar to it.
Marjorie came back an hour later. From my distance, she seemed to have calmed. She continued to toy with her phone, head down, ignoring the potential contacts and customers.
“Marj, I want to apologize for the flash mob. I shouldn’t have done that. I should leave you alone.” I put on a sad, puppy-dog face.
She only shook her head. She still was frustrated. What could I do?
“EDS is Electronics Defense Systems Consulting. An IT firm?”
“Systems engineering for military vehicles—Army and Air Force,” she mumbled.
“What are you giving away?” I asked her.
“Stress balls and pens.” She growled out the words.
“I could use a stress ball. Can I get one?”
She grabbed a ball from the table and fast-balled it over. I didn’t catch it. Bending over to reach it, a second ball hit me in the head. I stood.
“Whoa! Wait a minute. No need to get mean.”
“Our balls come in pairs. And I’ll send a pen over too. I think you’ll like the set. It suits you fine.” A pen poked my side.
After gathering the two balls and the pen, I lifted our swag.
“Want an LED lantern? It’s on me.”
“Keep it closed so I don’t see you. You may be better in the dark.”
I held up the lantern but didn’t open it. “At least, I dance better in the dark.”
“Please do not ruin Bruce Springsteen with your singing or, god please, a flash mob!” Her sharp eyes gave fair warning.
“I can’t remember the words, so you’re safe.”
“I do remember his dance from the MTV video. You fling your arms this way and that way.”
“No! Stop! You’re ruining the song. I nearly hate Bruce all ready.”
“I’ll stop if we can dance after dark.”
“Give me a lantern and stop dancing.”
“Fine.” I set a lantern on her table.
I knew the last bit was too much. I had turned into a big brother teasing his younger sister. I needed to straighten up and fly right. No more harassment. Not even talking.
I strolled the exhibits. Chatty marketers and vendors drew in potential customers to spread word of their companies. I passed by a military-green automated vehicle with eight wheels and some huge guns. I didn’t win anything on the wheel of fortune, so I wouldn’t be seeing Harry Manilow live. I snacked on a hot dog, a bag of Lays and a lot of candy from the exhibitors’ bowls. When I returned, Marjorie was gone. I didn’t see her for the rest of the day at the conference. The EDS exhibit remained empty. About six, the lights dimmed and vendors and visitors had exited the floor.
The first night, I took out a group of interested customers to a steakhouse for top-of-the-line beef and beers. Afterward I thought about the hotel room, but, despite the myriad of channels, I hate watching TV while sitting in the middle of a hotel bed or even on the roughly upholstered lounge chair and ottoman.
At around 10, I had warmed a seat at the bar in the hotel lobby. The lobby was open-air and rectangular. Guests could walk out of their room and overlook the whole place. They could be like guards, watching a prison yard decorated beautifully with large green plants, twisting walkways and chandeliers.
I sipped on a mix of ginger beer and rum with a squeeze of lime. It made my face scrunch like a curmudgeon. A great feeling.
Of course, as conference life happens, Marjorie arrived. She opted for the other side of the bar. It was safer for me. I wouldn’t get a hard drink in my face.
Marjorie wore a loose, ruffled neck blouse. Her shoulders were bare, lovely and petite. I liked seeing her in more casual clothing than earlier today. The stuffiness of our business world kept much of her lovely body hidden, or undisclosed. Maybe redacted, if you want to get legal.
I again wanted to prod, to flirt, to have fun, and the alcohol was urging me on. However, she first would need to show me some interest in teasing and playing. If she had thrown a pen and two balls from her exhibit, then that drink in my face at the bar would not be far-fetched. It’d feel worse too.
Sitting there, I ordered another dark, tiki drink. I sipped, avoiding the woman. Instead I chummed with the bartender, talking about football games.
“Yeah, they have been doing bad. What are they, like, on a four-game losing streak,” I told the bartender. “But the best way to handle a losing season is alcohol. Yep, a lot of beer, whiskey, vodka. Rum and wine—not so much. A losing season needs the hard stuff.”
The bartender agreed. “I’ve learned how the losers survive—being one of them many times. The winners, they drink sportier drinks, fruity cocktails, tequila and lemonade. Maybe a few jalapenos thrown in.”
I asked what an angry conference attendee drinks. He must have read my mind.
“She’s having a vodka cranberry.”
“Vodka, huh. Must be a bad day. When she’s done with it, put her next drink on my tab and all of them afterward. Say, it’s to make up for the flash mob.”
“Excuse me, flash mob?” The bartender leaned his forearm onto the bar as if he had misheard me. I repeated it, but he still was confused by the message.
“She’ll understand,” I reassured.
Soon, her glass was nearly dry, so I decided to head upstairs to my room. It was a getaway: passing by when her glass was empty. I nodded to the bartender, having written a large tip on the receipt.
Waiting at the elevator, I could see the bar through the large-leafed jungle plants in the open lobby. The bartender set down the new drink, and she turned back, as if looking for me. I slipped into the elevator, not waiting. An apology can be said well without words.
The next morning, I was organizing my exhibit when she arrived at hers.
“Thanks,” she said. It sounded like she had to puke out the words.
I didn’t turn.
“Yes, I mean you, Preston. Thanks for last night.”
I looked back slowly. “Last night?”
“For the drinks.”
She wore a blue sharp-shouldered business suit, double-breasted, and slacks with the crease running down the front of her thighs. Her shoes were amazing. Or it could have been the combination of pink heels, tanned skin, and pink polished toenails.
When my eyes raised up from her outfit, I explained. “I felt like I needed to make up for yesterday. A few drinks may have calmed things.”
She shrugged and began to arrange her exhibit.
“I’ll try to leave you alone today. I’ve got a number of client meetings, so you won’t see me as much.”
Before I left for my first meeting, she was again toying with her phone, sitting under the EDS logo, ignoring the passersby. I just shook my head but said nothing.
At mid-afternoon, I came back to see her in the same place, phone in hand. I exchanged a few items and gathered more promo materials and company capability statements. I almost spoke to Marjorie and opted against it. I didn’t want to be a brother bothering his sister.
When I came back, my business associate, John, was studying our table.
“Something wrong?” I asked.
“I found this. Two stress balls from EDS and a pen between them. Two more pens, parallel to each other with another pen at the 45-degree angle.”
“And our lantern, opened,” I said. “What do you make of it, my dear Watson?”
“Were you being a dick yesterday?” he asked me bluntly.
I laughed. “That, yes.”
“Then this must be one of those not-equal-to signs.” John tapped his chin.
“Being a dick doesn’t get the lights turned on?”
“Or doesn’t let you see in the dark.”
“Or all of us here aren’t dicks, just you.” John shrugged.
“Whatever it means, she better not think my dick is as thin as an ink pen, or else she’s got another thing … never mind.”
“I’d recommend leaving her alone.”
“I haven’t bothered her at all today. I’ve been in meetings. Have you seen her? She sits under the EDS logo and plays on her phone.”
“She was there for a little bit. She’s been gone for a while,” John said.
“I have another meeting. If you see her, smile.” Then I darted off.
Nearly two hours later, I came back to our booth. She was there still on her phone, talking to no one. When I came back, I noticed a quick glance, but I ignored her. I was tired of Marjorie.
I again chatted with the conference-goers about business and opportunities, of our company’s areas of expertise, and, of course, if they were enjoying themselves these past two days. Meanwhile, I completely ignored Marjorie. And she just sat there.
I noticed glances in my direction as I talked. Still I didn’t acknowledge her.
That night, John and I took clients to a top-rated Italian restaurant. The wine was luscious, and the Fusilli in Cartoccio hit the spot. It all tasted better when the company picked up the check.
At the hotel, I opted again for the bar instead of late-night TV. John and I talked and drank, having a good time. An hour or so afterward, a certain someone walked into the bar.
“She’s here,” John said. “I suggest not being a dick … for the sake of the lantern.”
I waved off his comment. “I’m done with her. Not worth my time or effort.”
Just as I turned my back to the rest of the bar, John nodded a goodbye to me.
Then there was a tap on my shoulder.
It was Marjorie. She wore the same double-breasted business outfit, except the blazer was unbuttoned, allowing a glimpse of a scoop-neck blouse that fit tight against her chest. She had a narrow waist and the pleated slacks emphasized her small form.
“Mind if I take this seat?” she asked.
“I don’t own it, so be my guest.” I downed the last bit of my cocktail.
My quick nod brought over the bartender.
“Another one for me and, for her, a …”
“A mojito with a double shot.”
The bartender nodded.
“I’m having a good day. On a winning streak.” She smiled as she shed her blazer and hung it on the back of her chair.
I hadn’t seen her smile this whole conference. Her face was gentle and soft. There was a graciousness.
“You’re on a winning streak?” I asked.
“Yeah. Someone who drinks rum is not on a losing streak, that is, based on what you said last night. So I must be on winning.”
“Ah, that.” I paused a moment. “Well, I wouldn’t consider that a hard-and-fast rule. If I remember correctly, last night you were on vodka.”
“Yeah, it was a bad day.”
“I gathered that.”
“You didn’t help. With your flash mob and singing and teasing. I felt like … like …”
“Like you were being prodded by an older brother?”
“Yeah. That’s exactly it.”
The bartender set down our drinks. I raised my glass to hers. They clinked and the evening evolved.
“I have another rule that I sort of live by,” I told her.
“Never let an evening of drinking go to waste.”
She eyed me quizzically, like she was unsure of the meaning of the statement or how to take it.
I shrugged. “I don’t understand the meaning exactly either, but when it comes true, the reasoning behind it is obvious.”
“Then let me start.” She drank the mojito in full and ordered another. The bartender set it on a small square napkin.
“You going to follow me?” she asked.
“Where are you going?”
Now, I looked at her unsure of the meaning of the statement or how to take it. For safety’s sake, I only drank all of my Old Fashioned.
The dry alcohol caught in my throat and choked me. I coughed and my eyes watered. But I told the bartender, through my coughs and heaves, “I’ll have another.”
Marjorie leaned on the bar counter. “I have two maxims I live by.”
“And they are?” I coughed.
“A man who cries is a pussy, and a man who can’t handle his alcohol straight is a punk.”
She could bite when she had to. I had only swallowed the whiskey wrong, and now I was a pussy and a punk.
A few minutes later, the cough started to subside, and I dabbed a tear from the corner of my eye. “Are those rules hard and fast?”
“I like when they’re hard and fast, but many times they’re not.”
“I can handle myself—hard and fast,” I said. “This was a mishap.”
She kept confusing me. Was that a message? She hated me a day ago. Now, she was playing games and flirting. All she needed to do was round up a flash mob and we’d be even. Whatever the case, alcohol and indifference can make for an odd brew.
I decided to play her game from yesterday. I checked my watch. “Look at the time. I’ve got an early day, so I’m going to head to my room. Nice talking to you. Maybe I’ll see you on your phone tomorrow.” I told the bartender to put all the drinks on my tab, including hers, and I started out of the bar.
Marjorie sat there alone. Her face showed that she was stunned.
“You’re just leaving? Going upstairs to, what, handle yourself?”
I stopped. “Maybe. You wanting to help?”
“I have a few minutes.”
My lungs deflated hearing what she assumed I would be doing. And then wanting to help me?
Before I could control my mental reasoning, my lust spoke.
“Think you can handle me? I’m not two stress balls and an ink pen.”
“I’ll decide that.”
I walked toward the elevator, making her scramble to follow me, if she wanted something more. If she didn’t follow then it wouldn’t have worked out anyway.
She grabbed her blazer. Rushing to me, her chest bounced sweetly, matching her short strides. I had to get calm before I gave away too much. I felt movement in my slacks. Things might be obvious soon.
“I can’t believe you were going to leave me,” she said again, standing beside me at the silvery elevator doors.
I pressed the button for floor 17. “At times, there isn’t time.”
“More of your stupid lessons on life. You must have studied philosophy before business.”
Watching the floor numbers decline and not at her, I said, “Confucius said, man who leap off cliff jump to conclusion.” And the elevator door dinged.
I stepped on. She followed. She had a sweet scent, like fun and wiliness, with a hint of cinnamon. She flung her blazer over her shoulder, hooking it with her finger.
“You’ve got a way to piss me off, you know that?” She pointed at me.
Her eyes had a hint of fire. Not like yesterday’s fire but the embers still were red. However, despite red eyes, she stood close, facing me, inches away. She was staring up, into my eyes. She was locked.
“How pissed are you? I thought that was your ordinary disposition.”
She punched my shoulder. “No, you make me this way.”
“Then why are you following me? Wanting a bad night?”
The question caught her. It may have been too much. She hit the button for floor 16. In a moment, the door slid open. She stepped out and left me alone in a mist of her fiery cinnamon scent.
The door closed and rose a floor. On floor 17, over the railing, I saw Marjorie storming toward her room. Her blazer in hand swished forward and backward in her ardent pace. I thought about yelling, but I had to work across from her tomorrow and had fewer meetings than today.
I plopped down in the rough armchair next to the huge window in my room. I scanned the TV channels for a while. Nothing was on. There never is. I leaned my head back to stare at the ceiling. Marjorie was on my mind. She was one floor below. I considered a return to the bar. Instead, I untucked my dress shirt and pulled off my belt. I skipped out of my shiny, black wing-tips. Before I took off my polka dot dress socks, there was a knock at the door. It was two in the morning.
Through the peephole was a hotel attendant. I unlocked the door. The attendant held a tray.
“I have an order of chicken wings. It’s a gift from another guest.”
“Chicken wings. That bitch.”
The attendant set the tray on my desk by the TV. I gave him a five for a tip. I picked up a drumstick but dropped it onto the plate.
“She’s wanting to play.”
I rushed into the hallway to the attendant.
“What room did this food come from?”
He rustled through a tab of orders. I suddenly noticed Marjorie leaning on the rail across the lobby a floor below mine. I grabbed my shoes and left the room. I rushed down the stairwell. She waited like that prison guard on the rail, watching my every step, as if I were a prisoner. When I turned the corner to her hall, she darted away. I walked to the door of her room. It was ajar, kept open by the interior metal door lock.
I pushed open it. She squealed. “What are you doing in here?”
She was across the room, leaning against the window. She had covered herself with the large blazer. “I’ll call security. Don’t test me, Preston!”
“I am testing you, Marj. This is your last chance to get away.” I stepped into the room. My steps were large and slow, like a robber about to get his gold.
“Better make that call,” I warned. “I’m about to come at you hard and fast.”
She dropped the blazer. My lungs deflated like earlier, and I stalled. She wore only a tiny pair of pink panties and a matching lacy bra. She had shed everything else before I arrived.
She stepped to me, unclasping her bra from the back. Her breasts became freed. She had round tits, small nipples, and unexpectedly they were pierced—miniature barbells. Her fingers thumbed her nipples. Then she slid her hands down her flat stomach and finally touched the band of her panties. The small V of her panties covered little. She pulled the band and let it slap against her flesh.
The woman knew how to tease. She kept moving forward, a thief of her own kind, and I too started forward. It was our own sort of dual. We grabbed each other and enjoined in a harsh, ruthless kiss of lust and frustration and boiling heat and anger.
I found her ass and grabbed a hunk of the flesh. My eyes opened wide when I felt her hands search and find my dick. Her hand cupped the engorgement and her palm moved upward to the tiptop. My hands slinked up her body to find her squishy tits and the barbells. But I wasn’t in her room for feeling up flesh or romantic exploration.
I shoved her onto the bed to her surprise. She looked at me her mouth agape. I lifted her ankles with one hand. Then I pulled those flimsy panties to her toes. Her narrow pussy was squeezed tightly between her long thighs.
I undid my pants, letting them drop, along with my boxers. My cock was inches from the cunt of this bitch.
She forced her legs open. The fire in her eyes was desire.
“Let’s go, before I get angry again.”
I entered the pussy to hear her scream. “Oh, shit!”
I rocked in deeper and dragged out.
Her fingernails grabbed by forearms and she growled, “Fuck me—hard and fast. Don’t disappoint me!”
My dick drove into her, making her back arch and face wince. And I didn’t stop. All the pent-up frustration and play and her attitude over the past days urged me on.
She let go of my arms and circled her clit intensely.
“Harder!” she yelled. She was ferocious and cruel in bed. “Now! Fuck me!”
My body reacted to her demands. I double-timed the pace, smacking against her, my balls hitting her ass. I pinned her on the mattress, holding her throat. My other hand seized her tits. She obviously loved being manhandled.
“Fuck me, boy!” she growled despite my hold.
I slammed even harder.
“Gonna finish?” she taunted.
“Not done yet, bitch.”
I flipped her over. I nabbed a handful of hair, pulled back her head, and fucked her from behind. Immediately, she squealed and grunted. I twisted her hair to add to her pain. My body crashed into hers. Her ass had a slight jelly wiggle. Not much wiggle, but it moved nicely.
“You’re doing it. Yes! Fuck me, don’t stop.” She wailed out the last words.
I pulled out of her and turned her over again. In a moment, I jizzed into her face and hair. Breathing heavily, I tossed the last dribble onto her lips.
I collapsed on the bed. Neither of us moved, only breathing deeply. I ended up sleeping with her. I was too tired to make to my room. She was too tired to fight about it.
At the conference booths the next day, Marjorie chatted with passersby and made EDS look better. She also warned me about a coming flash mob.
“You never would,” I said.
“Don’t think so?”
“There’s only one Copacabana.”
“You better beware.”
Then she changed the subject. She became serious. “Preston, I have a meeting with this really weird customer in a few minutes. He’s always eyeing me and saying terrible things. I really hate him.”
“Okay,” I said confused.
“Would you check on me in meeting room 2 in about ten minutes? It’ll make me feel better.”
“Sure, I can help.”
About ten minutes later, I left my booth to find a nervous Marjorie.
I went into the meeting room finding her alone. She was sitting at the end of a table with a black tablecloth.
“Where’d this bad customer go?” I asked.
“He’s here. Sit.”
I complied, sitting opposite of her.
She disappeared beneath the table, and in a moment, she was undoing my pants.
“Marj,” I whispered in real concern, “these are only curtains, not walls. Anyone can come in here. Anyone can hear us.”
“Shut it,” I heard, followed by a warm mouth covering my dick.
“A blowjob? Here and—” I couldn’t finish. I sat up straight as she bobbed and I heard the slurping. She moaned softly through her work. I moaned out my pleasure. I gave several more controlled grunts. But I heard, beyond the makeshift meeting room, people talking. They were only feet away beyond the curtain, and I had this woman sucking me off.
“Did you hear that?” I heard someone nearby say.
“Yeah, I did.”
“You think …”
After a pause, I heard, “Yes, their business is tanking. So sorry.”
I was relieved that they hadn’t heard Marjorie and me. Her fingers explored me, spreading my legs, fondling me.
“Whoa, Marj … I’m about to …”
She sucked harder and bobbed faster. Seconds later, I exploded in her mouth. I slouched in the chair, relaxed and relieved.
She reappeared at the other end of the table. Her finger wiped a bit of my leftover from the corner of her mouth.
“Liked it?” she asked.
“It’s a … it’s a flash mob, of its own kind.”
She crossed her legs in pride and prowess. “I learned something these past days: Never let a conference go to waste.”