"Can I help you?" the saleswoman asked from behind me.
I tried not to suppress a guilty start, but my hand moved away from the black panty-shorts too quickly. I had walked into the lingerie boutique impulsively and would have left as soon as I realized I was the only customer in the store, but the shorts caught my attention.
"I like those," she said smiling when I turned towards her. I had a problem with pretty women and stopping my eyes from staring; the Asian cast to her eyes fascinated me enough that I made a minute study of the rest of her facial features.
"Are you looking for something for your wife?" she asked fidgeting as I continued to stare at her.
"I'm sorry," I said shaking my head to break contact with her not-so-plain brown eyes. "I'm not married."
"A girlfriend?" she asked.
"On the reserve list," I replied without thinking
"Excuse me?" she asked with her expressive eyes showing confusion.
"She and I haven't had our flashpoint," I said looking at the shorts thoughtfully. "She's given it some thought, but..."
I shrugged and reached out to touch the black silk again.
"Does that actually happen?" she asked curiously.
"What?" I asked.
"A flashpoint when you're on the reserve list," she said with some mystery in her smile.
"Not often," I answered. "But when it does, the fire tends to leave scars."
"Do you like scars?" she asked wide-eyed.
"I'm still young enough to think passion should burn," I replied.
"Those are a little risque for someone on the reserve list," she said reaching out to touch the shorts; they were see-through.
"I imagine that she'll stand in front of the mirror that first time, look at herself, and think about me," I said smiling. "That might be as close as I ever get."
"You're one of those!" she exclaimed suddenly.
"You like being on the list," she clarified.
I tilted my head and studied her again; the point surprised me in its honest assessment.
"I think I'll have to say guilty as charged," I told her. I thought about taking a step back as something dangerous came over her eyes.
"So have you decided on them?" she asked, nodding at the shorts.
"I'm trying to imagine how they'll look on her," I said confused by the tone of her voice; there was a hint of challenge to it.
"I could help you with that," she said taking a small step towards me. "I'll be glad to model them for you."
I looked behind and over my right shoulder, and then over my left to make sure.
"I'm sorry," I said. "I think I heard you incorrectly."
Her eyes wavered, and she opened her mouth.
"Actually, I heard correctly!" I said before she could retract the words. "You're about her size so I would love to see you in them... to make sure they're the right choice, of course."
I watched as her back straightened, and she nodded. I turned to keep my eyes on her as she closed and locked the front door. The sound of the lock catching made me thankful for the impulse to come inside.
"This way," she said reaching up to take the shorts off their display hanger. I followed, wondering if I would find out why she was doing this, as she walked to the back of the store.
"You can sit there," she said pointing at a chair outside the dressing rooms. I sat down gingerly while looking for cameras that would make the entire thing a joke.