"Ah! The Windy City, it never changes," Mike said aloud as a cold blast hit him.
In early November the chilly winds gust off Lake Michigan and all that one can do is turn a collar up against them. Mike would have liked to have had his Melton winter coat on such a day. There had been no room in the suitcase for that, and where he had just been there wouldn't have been a need for it. Earlier that day he had landed at O'Hare from Shanghai, almost at the end of a lengthy trip at the behest of his employer. He did his best with the navy pinstriped suit coat that he wore.
Mike could have stayed at a hotel near the airport. He decided to treat himself. There were newer hotels than the Drake, to be sure, but none more elegant. Having taken the trouble, he wasn't going to let a breeze from the lake stop him from roaming his favorite city. He thought that he would take a walk down Oak St., find a place to eat, perhaps some music and drinks after that. Of course, he couldn't let himself forget that anniversary present. If there was any place to find one, Oak St. would be it.
"A man with a bonus, an anniversary coming up, strolling down Oak St.," he mused to himself. "It's a dangerous combination."
He was surprised at his facetious tone; maybe the plane ride had been more tiring than he thought. He thought that the shower in the hotel had refreshed him. At forty-two, he still felt young enough to howl every now and then.
Mike had been away from home for a long time. Weeks rolling into a month and more sharpen edges in a man in places that had been rounded and smooth. A kind of independence seeps into the subconscious, born of the need to do for oneself. Love and companionship slip temporarily into the background, to be saved for later. As the end of the absence approached, Mike needed to relax and allow tenderness to seep its way back to the front.
Mike wasn't thinking about all that, he just wanted to enjoy himself in his favorite city. The trip had been tough on him and his family, but it was the final push that earned him the big bonus and promotion. He had already apportioned a large chunk of the money to the 401k, safe from the clutches of the tax man. There was still enough left to buy something nice.
"Dues paid—membership secure," he told himself as he crossed Michigan Avenue.
On the opposite corner, and two store fronts down, he spotted a jewelry store. It looked expensive. They were all expensive in this part of town. He looked for a place to cross the street.
Mike walked into the store and stopped in the doorway to survey the scene. Whatever might be found there, at least it was good to get out of the late autumn chill. The store wasn't big, but its appointments were nicer than those in Mike's own living room. It was brightly lit. The middle of the floor was open, framed by glass cases. As the hour approached five, the store was empty of other customers. Mike could hear activity in the back, but no sales person rushed to approach him. He decided to just do some looking.
There were a lot of nice pieces in the cases. Of course, the price tags were turned over. Mike didn't know jewelry, but it didn't stop him from perusing the baubles under the glass countertops. He passed by the cocktail rings—not what he had in mind. There were some brooches that looked very elegant with fine detail, but he passed them by, as well—too old-looking for his wife. He said 'no' to the watches. There were some pendants and necklaces in an area. It looked like a place to start.
As he was peering through the glass, he became aware of a pair of eyes watching him. It was a woman, a sales associate, most likely, standing in the doorway to the back room. To Mike, it appeared as if she was sizing him up to see if her entry was worthwhile. When she saw that Mike had discovered her she emerged and slowly approached him.
"Can I help you, sir?" she asked as she walked over.
"I'm just looking right now," he answered, not looking up. "I'm looking for a present for my wife."
"Very nice!" she answered in an uninterested voice. "Birthday?"
"No—anniversary, actually; fifteen years," Mike volunteered. "I really don't have anything in mind; just browsing," he said.
"I have some work to do at the window display," she said, excusing herself. "Call me if I can help you."
"Alright, thanks," Mike grumbled. He had no idea what he was doing or looking for in the posh store. In the corner of his eye, he saw the woman mount a step ladder to hang up some fabric to drape over the merchandise in the front window. Mike decided to watch her. Although it wouldn't help him with his shopping chores, at least he could put his mind on something he knew more about.
As he watched the woman on the ladder, Mike wished that he had paid more attention to her when she was up close to him. He pegged her age at late thirties. She was of medium height. She wore her hair long. It parted in the middle and cascaded in waves to her shoulders where it sat like a mantle on a gold-toned satin blouse. She had on a leather skirt that hugged her form—her form looked good. The leather was dark brown, matching her hair. The skirt was long, mid-calf, with a provocative slit on the right side that reached to mid-thigh. She was wearing black hose. As she moved about on the ladder the slit would open momentarily to expose her well-shaped legs. Below the hem of the skirt her legs gracefully ended in narrow feet fit into black heels. Mike couldn't make out he facial features; she had turned away from him.
Mike craned his neck to get the best view of the toned limbs, black-clad camouflaged against the dark brown skirt. They cruelly peeked out, and then disappeared in the side slit of the skirt. Mike thought that she lacked that 'housewife look'. She was just a little too shapely, too worldly to fill that role, he thought. In his business travels he met many such women. He could always tell at a glance which of them had half their mind on business and the other half on hearth and home. To him, this woman had the look of a divorcee.
"An independent woman of independent means," he thought to himself as he admired her.
Mike took his time to partake of the visual feast to his satisfaction. She stretched out an arm to catch a corner of the non-cooperative fabric above her. As she did so, her blouse was pulled tightly against her, defining the outline of a perfect breast. She raised her right foot a step higher on the ladder; the slit caused the bottom half of the skirt to fall away. Mike got his first glimpse of her thigh, covered part way in the black hose. It was worth waiting for. The upper leg was a perfect match for the sculpted calf below it. At the midway point, the black hose abruptly ended. Smooth flesh shouted out at him. It screamed 'Place your hand here and feel the firmness underneath the skin and the creamy softness on top!' If he could do so, Mike thought, his practiced hand would switch on her senses, strip away her reserve, and make her hope for more. He could quench her thirst, and beyond, given the chance.
If the slit had been only a few inches longer, he could have seen the panties, too, if there were any. Isolated on the ladder in the front window, she was on display for scores of passersby. Mike saw them all move on, no one noticing.
"A private show, just for me!" he thought, indulging a sudden, improvised fantasy.
He assumed that she was distracted by the stubborn drape in her hands, so he was careless in his surreptitious inspection.
"Would you like me to show you something, sir?" she called out loudly to him, but not in an angry way. It seemed to Mike that she wanted him to know that a man viewing her body didn't fluster her.
Mike had been busy observing her display and hadn't noticed her head swivel toward him. He assumed a momentary sheepish grin, embarrassed at having been caught in his over-tasting. The woman descended from the ladder and started walking behind the counter to where he was standing.
She didn't walk like she was just moving from one place to another. There was purpose in her sway and swing of her hips, allowing the soft leather of the skirt to fully work with her contours. She thrust her knee forward through that teasing slit with each alternate step.
"She saw me ogling her and she liked it," Mike congratulated himself. "Let's see where this leads."
Mike's sheepish grin faded to a confident smile, to show her that he felt no shame at being discovered. He was, in fact, glad that she had seen him stealing the view. He wanted to see her face. He was less interested in how pretty, classic, exotic or erotic it looked than the answers to his questions. Was she confident and self assured; or would she turn away at eye contact, like a shy maiden? Was she worldly and sophisticated; or would her expression have that 'housewife look' that betrayed preoccupation with report cards, ironing shirts and getting dinner ready?
"Sinner or saint, she's definitely a lady," Mike thought, as he waited for his answers.
He observed her dress and manner and judged it to belong to a woman who was aware of her allure. She would let a man peruse her package, perhaps reach out to try to pull the ribbon. Only those of her choosing, however, would be allowed to untie the bow to commence the unwrapping.
.... There is more of this story ...