"Lindy, toss me one of those peppers, would you?"
"Red one, Rob?"
"Ah, yep. You said you do like curry, right?"
"Yeah, I do, but nothing too extreme, okay?"
"Got it Mel. I promise your mouth will be mostly intact after."
"Well, it's not a curry, if it's not hot."
"You said 'a mild dish'. I heard you Rob."
"Yeah. Mild. For Mindy. Well, I intended that, for a start."
My name is actually Melinda. Rob likes to mess with it as much as possible. He's the same with food. Rob and I had been living together for about six months. Oh, not cohabiting. Sharing the house, not the bed. Got it?
It was nice and comfortable, to tell the truth. I'd gone through a rather exciting period where I lost my boyfriend and my flatmate more or less at the same time. I'd had time to become comfortable with the lack of boyfriend, and stumbled on Rob as a flatmate. It worked out well.
"You want rice with that, Milly?"
"Doesn't work? Okay. Brown?"
"You can't call me 'Brown', Rob"
"Well? Mel? Hell. Hee hee."
"If that's your best work, no wonder you have to work nights. Yes please."
"I don't have to. I choose to. Could you get it out for me? I don't want this to burn."
"You could turn it down, Rob."
"Ruins the effect. Thanks. And the pan?"
Rob was a musician. He played bass in a covers band, but had plans to do all sorts of stunning things. Like all musicians. I'd heard him play though, and he wasn't bad. Not bad at all.
His life was more exciting than mine. I studied. Endlessly. I'd started off as a med student, and drifted into research. I was working part time in a lab, studying sleep, would you believe? We got people in, wired them up, and told them to relax. Bloody strange way to make a living, but it paid for my studies, and then meant I didn't need to go cap in hand to my father, a major plus.
"Ooh, ooh, pineapple?"
"Why not Mel?"
"Can't afford it. You have half the week's groceries in there already."
"Smells nice though, doesn't it?"
"It does, Rob."
We didn't have a lot to do with each other, on the whole. I would come home in the evening, in time to find that Rob had cooked me a little something, and was on his way out to some bar, where he would play until the early hours. He would return around the time I got up for work, and we might say hi again.
I know what you are thinking. A flatmate who cooks me hot meals? A guy? Yeah, great, I know. He was a bit messy when he got here, and I still needed to clean up the kitchen after him at times, but it was well worth it, and he made up for it by cleaning the bathroom every weekend, without fail. The only time he didn't do it, he was sick in bed. I had to insist that he stay there.
"It's ready, dreamer."
"Thanks Rob. Bowls, yeah?"
"Yeah, think that would be best. Want to watch the news, Melinda?"
"It's finished already. Here you go."
"You want to pay attention, and not call me a dreamer."
"Sorry Mel. Sit down, and I'll bring it in. Take the forks."
Okay, one more thing. He's... well... decorative. Tall, strong. Not much of a chest, but stunning arms. Must be the guitar, I guess. Rugged smile, deep eyes. Alright?
"You want a beer?" he called to me from the kitchen this time.
"Yes please, Rob."
"Well, bloody come and get it. I've got my hands full here. I'll have the lager."
"Yeah, alright. So much for sitting down."
"Well, don't want you putting on weight."
Mid twenties is a good time, I think. We had both been in a few relationships, and we knew that even this sort of arrangement needs work, and compromise, and we gave it lots. In between, we gave each other shit about everything.
"Oh God, this is really good, Rob. What is it?"
"Huh? Oh, I don't know. This. That. Chilli sauce?"
"No thanks. It's quite hot enough."
"I think you've burnt out your taste buds."
"I know I've burnt out my wallet, Mel."
"What do you mean, Rob?"
"Oh, sorry. Thinking out loud. I guess I should say though. We're just not getting anywhere with the band. Money wise I mean. We're having a ball, but just not making a buck."
"Don't look too worried. It's not a problem with the rent. Well, not yet."
"You going to have to get another job?"
"I've thought about it Lindy. But I just don't see how I can manage. It's all I can do to get through the night now. If I had to work days, I think I'd keel over."
"Hmmm. You want another beer?"
"Nah, better not. I need to drive downtown tonight. Barry's car isn't going. God, more expense."
"So really, you need a job where you can nod off."
"Yeah. You don't see those advertised often."
"You know what I work at?"
"Vaguely Mel. Research."
"Yep, I did know that."
"Rob, you're obviously tired now. We pay people to come and sleep at the lab. Not much, but..."
"You pay them?"
"... it's better than nothing... Yep."
"Oh, shit, why didn't you say?"
"I just did. You interested?"
"Hell yes. But it would have to be during the day."
"That's alright. Actually, my team is looking for someone to do just that."
"They are. Tell you what, leave that mess, get off to work, and I'll clean up here. Monday, I'll check with the boss, and see if you can apply. No promises."
"Oh, Mel, you're an angel."
"No Rob, it's a white coat I wear, not a pair of wings."
"Same thing. Gotta go. I guess you'll be asleep in the morning then, being Sunday?"
"Yes, I will. Thanks."
"I won't make you breakfast then."
"Alright, see ya, Elin."
"No. Not Elin."
It snowballed from there. Monday morning, we had Rob visiting down at the lab for his first sleep. For the initial session, we normally don't attach anything. There are enough distractions for them to get used to. It's a minor miracle if they sleep at all.
Rob was a natural. We showed him around the room, and let him see what we did there, showed him the video cameras, and explained the rules.
"So you chicks sit at the other end of the cameras, and watch me on the video screens?"
"Well, someone does, Rob. Might not be a 'chick'."
"Rob, it's research. We need to find out things about how you sleep. In any case, this time, no instruments. We'll just have a look at the screen now and then, to check that you are okay."
"And I just lie down here and go to sleep?"
"Yep, that's it. You can read, or watch TV for a while, if you like."
"Listen Mel, you know, I generally sleep in..."
"The nude. Yes, I saw you, if you recall."
"Yeah. I did apologise."
"Doesn't matter. You caught me one morning as well, remember?"
"You had knickers on."
"You shouldn't even have noticed."
"Oh, yeah. Of course. I didn't. You know I didn't."
"Neither did I." We were both grinning now.
"I would have noticed, I must admit..."
"... but I was staring at your breasts."
"Hmmm. Enough of that now. These ears have walls."
"I'll be good."
"Keep your underwear on, Rob."
"Not sure I can sleep, then."
"So that's it? Nothing else I need to know?"
"You just need to remember that you are being recorded, so don't do anything you wouldn't want on tape."
"Like jerking off?"
"Definitely like jerking off. You'll be on the Internet in twenty minutes."
"Okay. Well, night Mel."
"Night Rob. Sweet dreams."
I left him there then, and headed for the control centre. I wasn't on monitoring that day. I had to process some tapes and data from the previous night, so after I checked that everything was alright, I walked out to the communal office, and started work. Half an hour later, I went back to get a coffee, and Rob was asleep.
That was the last time I was in the office until after dark. The numbers I was processing for the previous night weren't making sense, and I had to check the machinery against the tape, to make sure there hadn't been a screwup. It took my whole day, and then some.
When I arrived back in the office, Stephanie was just closing down the session on Rob. He'd already left. I received an enthusiastic report on his first monitored sleep, and left for home, hoping he'd be there. It was time to give some more shit.
"Well, well, well. If it isn't the little celebrity." I'd caught Rob, just as he was walking out to his car.
"Celebrity? Why is that?"
He must have been oblivious to what had occurred that day, because he couldn't have hidden it. "You might be on the Internet after all, Rob."
"Huh? What for?"
"Your performance, of course."
"Performance? What are you talking about, Mel?"
"At the lab today. Remember I told you to keep your undies on?"
"Yep. And I did... Oh... But when I woke up..."
"Yeah, they were on the floor, weren't they?"
"Yeah. Hadn't thought about that. Oh, God, what did I do?"
"You took them off."
"Under the blankets."
"That's alright then. I put them back on under there too."
"Yep. You remember why you took them off?"
"Ah, nope. Oh, God!"
"You were... excited."
"Yes. I have a video tape in the lab with an interesting sequence, where you have a big boner, and are lying on your back. The bed looks more like a tent."
"You haven't seen it?"
"No. I decided it would be better to be able to give you hell, and then take the high moral ground."
"Uh huh. They are in hysterics down there, you know."
"They are? Oh, Mel, am I banned now?"
"Banned? Don't be daft. You can guarantee there will be chicks watching the video the next time though. You should have taken my advice."
"I thought I did."
"You were wrong, Rob."
"So it seems. I have to go to work. I think I'm embarrassed, but I'm pleased it was you that told me, and not someone else."
"Have fun Rob. Next time, maybe jerking off would be a good idea. Beforehand, of course."
He'd left me another meal. Chicken something. It was nice too. I ate that, and cleaned up the mess, watched television for a while, and decided I needed a bath. I liked a hot deep bath, with a book to read, a cold drink, and no interruptions.
I got all of those things ready, locked the doors, shut off most of the lights, and retired to the bathroom. As the bath filled, I took off my clothes, and threw them at the laundry hamper, missing as usual, and knowing that I'd need to pick them up later. I couldn't be bothered right now though, and kept removing and throwing until I was down to my knickers.
I checked the water, and it still wasn't full enough, so I stood there, waiting a bit longer. Purely by chance, I looked over at the full length mirror, and caught sight of myself standing there, just wearing white knickers. My body was a study in contrasts, I guess. Deep black hair, down around my shoulders, pale white skin, not much darker than the knickers. I could see a darker patch through the front of the knickers though, my pubic hair being the colour you'd expect.
Suddenly, as I stood there, a thought popped into my head. This must have been what I looked like when Rob caught me the other morning, though my hair would have been wet. I stood up straight, and walked a couple of steps toward the mirror, trying to see what he would have seen. Not bad, I thought. Not stunning, but not bad.
The bath was full enough then, and I removed the knickers, watching myself in the mirror as I did it, and tossed them into the hamper as well. The mirror was both anti-fogging, and adjustable, so I moved it in such a way that I could see myself from in the bath, and climbed in. My eyes never left the glass, and as I relaxed my bare ass onto the bottom of the bath, I could see my breasts floating half out of the water, the nipples erect, and being caressed by the waterline. I was stunned at how abruptly I was turned on, and as I watched myself intently still, I moved slightly, so that my nipples would sink under the hot water, and then reappear, water dripping from them, a delightful tickling sensation passing through my body.
I kept the subtle movement up for a while, and then somehow the sensation changed, and I had to grab my nipples and rub them, frantically trying to erase the itchiness I had caused. The feel of my fingers only intensified the sensation, and it hung in the balance between irritating and irresistible as I stroked and fondled, squeezed and pinched.
I looked up at the mirror, and saw my busy hands on my breasts, my dark nipples surrounded by inquisitive digits of pleasure, and a higher level of arousal stirred, between my legs. Keeping one hand busy on my breasts, the other snaked its way down my chest, stomach, navel, and on to the strange feeling pubic hair, normally so dry and wiry, but currently wet, and ticklish. As I felt my way through the crop of hair, small bubbles escaped to the surface, as though my bush were fizzing somehow, which is how it felt.
I pressed on past there though, my fingers sliding close to my clitoris, but deliberately avoiding it, plunging on inside me, dipping deep and feeling the wet heaviness that genitals have underwater. My fingers spread my vagina open, and hot water rushed in, swirling somehow within, and sending shockwaves to my brain.
As my fingers explored weightlessly inside, and my other hand took care of my nipples, I could feel myself lifting over the edge, stunned at the speed, ecstatic with the feeling, and I came. Big, sudden, and deep, I came. My legs clamped on my hand, my nipples suddenly wished nothing to do with my fingertips, and I shuddered to orgasm, my body lurching in the bath, water spilling as I jumped carelessly, my body out of control for the moment. I tried to relax, forcing my body back where it was, making my fingers remain motionless inside myself, and I opened my eyes.
I hadn't done it on purpose, but when my eyes opened, they were staring at myself, at the strange constriction of my facial muscles, at the outthrust breasts, the sweat, and the red skin. Watching myself deliberately now, I let my fingers move a little more, parted my knees, and started to stroke myself. I kept my eyes open, watching my own reactions in the mirror, wishing suddenly that I could see my vulva, and my fingers fucking it gently.
I daydreamed for a while, I guess, watching myself in the reflection, stroking myself with my fingers, and somehow my mind got back to Rob, and the stories about his erection. I'd seen his cock, as I said, but I'd never seen it erect. I wondered what it would look like, and thought about catching him leaving the bathroom, towel over his shoulder, hard-on poking holes in the air in front of him. I'd liked to have taken it in my hand, and rubbed it gently for him. I'd have liked for him to take it and rub me gently with it. I'd have liked him to be in the bath here with me, sliding it in and out of me slowly, patiently, carefully.
God, I could feel him doing it, my mind ignoring the fact of my fingers, and conjuring up this tall dark man hovering over me in the bath, his cock deep inside me, his lips on mine. I could feel his chest sliding across my nipples too, his voice in my ears, his breath on me, talking dirty, promising me how he would make me feel.
The whole time this was going on in my head, my eyes were glued to the mirror, and somehow I merged these two things together, and just became more excited. My fingers kept up the dance deep inside me, masquerading as Rob's penis, while my thumb escaped, and dragged repeatedly across my clit, hard with pleasure, loaded with energy, cutting with need.
The images in my mind, the reflection in front of my eyes, the feel of my fingers and thumb, and my other hand on my breasts, wasn't something I could take for long, and I shuddered to another sudden orgasm, stronger this time, deeper, and much longer. I collapsed in the bath, my whole body straining with contractions, and I finally closed my eyes, feeling rather than seeing now, and my body shook, over and over.
Eventually, I calmed down again. Whilst a part of me wanted to see if I could manage round three, the consensus was that I needed to stop, if for no other reason than to analyse what had happened. I slowly sat up, and removed the bath plug. That committed me to getting out, and I dried myself slowly, cleaned up the room, and stumbled to bed, tired suddenly, and slept.
I hadn't realised quite how much interest there was in the sleeping habits of my flatmate, and I was accosted on arrival at work on Tuesday. I took quite some pains to explain that we weren't 'like that', and that they'd seen more on the video tape than I ever had. They didn't believe me, which in turn made we wonder if my behaviour was making sense. I'd always been attracted to Rob, but after last night's adventures in the bathroom, I realised I really wanted something to happen.
Despite this, I had a really busy day, and largely blocked it from my mind, aside from an impromptu question and answer session at lunch. God, women are bad.
I finished late again, arrived home even later, and Rob had already left. He had made me some food though, so I ate that, and spent the evening in front of the television, before heading to bed reasonably early. And I slept. Soundly.
Wednesday started with a knock on my door. It was Rob, with a breakfast tray in his hand. I took it gratefully, and gave him my best quizzical look.
"Oh, well Melinda, I just got back from work, and..."
"Well, my car is out of gas..."
"And... well I'm scheduled for another sleep at your lab."
"Oh, you want a lift?"
"Oh, yes please."
"Rob, you don't need to make me breakfast, just to get a ride to the office."
"No, of course not, silly."
"Well, I don't mind."
"Neither do I, Rob, but don't feel compelled. Just do it if you want."
"Okay. I want."
"That's better. Lemme eat this, and then I'll be out."
"That'll give you time."
"To jerk off." His face turned a fascinating purple, but he stood still, staring at me.
"Can't," he stated simply, after a delay.
"Already did." I didn't think his face could go redder, but it did.
"You didn't have to tell me that, you know."
"I know Mel, but I was trying to see if it was more embarrassing for you, or for me."
"Ha ha. It's not your fault. You know I have three older brothers. I'm not easily disconcerted. And a little bit of wanking is nothing. Relax."
"See what I mean? I'll leave you to your breakfast then."
He left the room, and I tipped my head back, and sighed. I might have been able to pretend it meant nothing, but I was hot as hell. If it wasn't for the wonderful breakfast tray sitting on my lap, I'd have taken care of myself on the spot. That would, of course, have given me the opportunity to tell Rob afterwards, and I wondered if I would have had the guts to. As it was, I ate the breakfast instead, and we both missed out.
The ride to work was uneventful. Rob was tired, and my mind was on the subtle change going on in our relationship. A change I liked, though I was unsure exactly where it was going. I wondered if Rob knew. In fact, if he even realised it was happening.
When we arrived at the lab, I left Rob to find his own way back to the sleeping room, and his coterie of lab-assistant groupies, and settled in to analyse another set of tapes.
The day passed without any excitement, the girls expressing disappointment both at lunch and again at the end of the day. Rob had slept without any of his previous antics, and I felt smug, knowing the likely reason, but vaguely disappointed as well, because I fully intended to look at the tapes this time, as the processing had been assigned to me for the next day.
Rob hung around after he got up, and I gave him a lift, not home, but straight to his gig for the night, in a dingy hotel just outside the red light district. I gave him an appropriate amount of shit about that, and informed him about how disappointed his fan club were. He responded that perhaps they could have assisted a little more if they wanted something to happen. I promised, tongue firmly in cheek, to let them know.
Home again, quick dinner, and out to the movies with a friend. Back home, bed, sleep. Not exactly exciting, I know. Alright, well not straight to sleep. He'd excited me even by not doing anything exciting. I got myself off without delay or fanfare. Then I slept, images of him in my mind.
Rob wasn't home when I got up on Thursday morning, and I was unreasonably irritated at the thought that maybe he was in someone's bed. He proved my suspicions unfounded by turning up a few minutes later, smelling of beer and cigarette smoke, not women.
"Morning Mel. My God, what a night. We had to play until daylight. Those working girls don't come out until all their clients go home."
"I'm surprised to see you then. Didn't you get any offers?"
"Well, of course I did, but there are lines I won't cross, and they didn't look too safe."
"No Lindy, the boys... Of course the girls."
"Well, must be good to know you don't have to work this morning."
"That's not work, Mel. It's money for jam. But I'm pleased to stay at home, just the same."
"Yeah, it's not exactly private, is it?"
"Yeah, I don't have to jerk off before I sleep here."
"You telling me you don't?"
"Have too, you mean Mel?"
"You know what I mean."
"Oh, I DO, but I don't HAVE to. Alright?"
"You didn't go all red-faced like yesterday, anyway."
"I only blush AFTERWARDS!"
"Ha ha. Yeah, me too. Gotta go Rob."
"Yeah, this happens to me all the time. The conversation turns to sex, and then they leave."
"You want to work on your bedside manne. See ya."
"Oh, alright, go on then."
"I will. Oh, guess what I have to do today, Rob?"
"No idea. Tell all."
"I have to analyse the tapes from one of our sleepers."
"Really? You said I didn't... ?"
"No, I'm told you didn't. Really. Gotta go."
"Let me know how you go. I'll be gone when you get back, so it will have to be tomorrow morning..."
I sat down at my desk, excited. This wasn't at all normal. I enjoyed my work, and I guess I was just geeky enough to get something of a buzz from analysis and collation of the tests, but excitement was different.
As soon as I inserted the tape, things started to go off beam. At first, the machine wouldn't go, and then when it did, the speed was all wrong. These things are built for variable speed playing, so we can slow-motion over the interesting stuff, and skip an hour or two at a time when things are boring, but this time, the speed readout was saying one thing, and the machine was doing something else. We'd had problems like this before, and I gave it a sharp thump on the side, causing the speed readout to flash and disappear. Groaning now, I thumped it again, and I must have used just the right amount of force, because the display shimmered and then reappeared at the right speed.
The machine behaved for a couple of hours then, the only problems caused by my freeze-framing Rob, and staring at him.
Around ten, I paused the tape, typed in some settings off the machine, and went to get some coffee. The way the player works, it would hold the pause for a few minutes, and then switch to 'stop', just like a home player.
A few minutes later, I returned to my desk, coffee in hand, and looked in horror at the wide tape slowly oozing from the player, and falling to the floor in front of my desk. Just as I got there, the flow of tape stopped, and the player started to make a strange noise inside.