Jane Smith finished filing the last of that day's work, and neatly stacked the leftover documents in her In box for when she returned to work on Monday.
She was particular about leaving work with a clean desk, a trait that extended to her private life as well. She lived by the motto, "a place for everything, and everything in its place."
Her little house was neat as a pin, without a bit of clutter anywhere. Nothing was out of place, and you eat off the floor in her kitchen; that's how squeaky-clean she was.
Of course, she had a lot of time for housecleaning, because her social life was pretty much non-existent. At the age of 28, Jane had never had a serious relationship, not even close.
Oh, she had dated some in the past, but they had usually been arranged through a dating service of some sort, or had been set up by her mother, who worried that her only child was going to end up alone, never to give her grandchildren.
Her dates always seemed to end in disaster. Either the guys were all over her wanting nothing but sex, or she embarrassed herself some way, or the guys were complete losers, nerds that were too geeky even for her to stand to be around.
It wasn't that she was bad-looking, far from it. She was cute, with a pleasant smile and luscious shoulder-length dark hair that was naturally curly.
But she believed her body was the stuff of nightmares for any prospective boyfriends. She was taller than average, around 5-10 and thin, just this side of skinny, and she was all but flat-chested.
For that reason, and plenty more, Jane was painfully shy, and she preferred blending in the crowd. Heck, even her name was nondescript. Jane Smith. See Jane run. Run, Jane, run.
As she waited for 5 o'clock to roll around that cold Friday afternoon, she stared out the office window contemplating her nothing social life. After her last dating disaster six months earlier, Jane had finally just said to hell with it, had crawled in her shell and contented herself with keeping her house and tending to her two cats.
Suddenly, her reverie was interrupted by a cheery voice from behind her.
"So, are you coming or not?" Dana Kilpatrick said.
Their company's annual Christmas party was the next night, and Dana had been after her friend to come with her and go to the party. What social life Jane did have was pretty much limited to Dana and her boyfriend of the moment.
They worked for one of the large insurance companies that were headquartered in Hartford, and the company always rented a reception hall at one of the city's nicest hotels to treat its employees for a holiday bash.
"I don't know, Danie," Jane said. "You know I don't have a date, or anything, I don't have anything to wear, and I'm not really in a festive mood these days."
"All the more reason for you to go," Dana said brightly. "You need to get out of that shell and live it up a little."
Dana then turned serious. She worried that her friend and long-time colleague was retreating more and more into herself, and she was convinced that if the rest of the world could see the Jane she knew, they'd be beating a path to her door -- if only she'd let them.
Jane wasn't sure she could take a repeat of the previous year's party, when she accidentally overheard a conversation about her, and the remarks of some of her colleagues were not flattering.
"Janie," Dana said, taking her friend's chin in hand and lifting her face up so they could look eye-to-eye. "Just because some people are rude assholes doesn't mean you should believe what they say. You're better than that. If you let them dictate what kind of person you are, then they win. God, girl, you have so much to offer. You're smart, you're pretty and you've got plenty of wit. Please, say you'll come. You need it. Who knows, maybe you'll meet someone special."
"I highly doubt that," Jane said with a derisive snort. "Look at me. I'm not very pretty, I'm built like a board and I stumble over small talk I appreciate what you're trying to do, but..."
"Bullshit," Dana said forcefully. "I don't want to hear that. I know the real you, and I'm not going to let you keep putting yourself down. I care about you, and I want you to be happy. Come on, Jane, come to the party with us. You deserve to have a good time."
Jane thought about what Dana said, and she realized her friend was right. Besides, it wasn't like it was a date. She'd be with her friend, and she liked the guy Dana had been dating for a couple of months. She sighed and made her decision.
"OK, I guess I'll go," Jane said. "On one condition."
"What's that?" Dana asked.
"You go shopping with me in the morning to buy a dress," Jane said. "I was serious about not having anything to wear. I haven't bought a new dress in ages, and I'm tired of the ones I've got."
"Deal," Dana said. "Tell you what. Why don't you go ahead and pack a little overnight bag, then you can just change over at my place."
"I guess that'll be all right," Jane said, still sounding a little reluctant about the idea.
"Janie, you won't regret it," Dana said. "I promise, you'll have a great time. I'll pick you up around -- what? -- 11-ish?"
"Sounds good," Jane said, and so the die was cast.
Having decided to attend the party, she made up her mind that she was going to try to have as good a time as she possibly could. Maybe she'd have a couple of glasses of wine, or maybe a beer or two. Jane hardly ever drank, so the idea of having a few drinks was a daring one for her.
Jane was feeling restless as she tried to fall asleep that night. Dana's suggestion that she might, "meet someone special," had stirred her imagination.
She was a "nice" girl, and shy to a fault, but she was a normal woman with the normal needs and desires of any other normal woman. For years, she had pictured her dream lover, and had long nurtured her fantasies about that person.
She was seeing him that night as she struggled with sleep. He was darkly handsome, with dark hair and dark eyes that hinted at mysteries abounding.
It was the eyes that held her in her dreams. They were kind, but with an undercurrent of passion lurking just below the surface. They seemed to bore into her soul, to see the romantic heart that beat beneath her plain-jane personality.
Without consciously thinking about it, her right hand slid under the waistband of her sweatpants, into her cotton panties. She ran a finger through her labia and groaned softly at the liquid fire she encountered.
Jane did not often masturbate, an attitude that went back to her mother's starchy religious beliefs. She had drummed into Jane's head that such a practice was sinful, but Jane had learned how to do it anyway, and when she was feeling down about herself, she would do it to gain some measure of self-sufficiency.
This was one of those occasions. She squirmed in her bed as she alternated stroking her swollen clit and sliding two fingers into her hot little pussy. She imagined her dream lover taking her, fantasized about him making love to her.
While working her right hand between her legs, she slid her left hand under her t-shirt and clutched at her chest, squeezing one of her sensitive nipples with her fingers. Rhythmically, she stroked herself as the sensual feelings mounted.
God, she wished she could find a man who could do this for her, instead of having to do it herself. As quickly as the thought crossed her mind, it was drowned out by the lustful feelings swelling through her body as she worked her hands faster and harder on her writhing body.
Hard, insistent, the imaginary thrusts of her dream lover climbed to a crescendo as Jane's climax came to a head.
As she fantasized about his swollen manhood filling her with his hot cream, she arched her back and shivered as the orgasm rippled through her slender body. As she did, she remembered what had happened to her so many years ago, and how it had affected her life.
Jane rolled onto her side, sobbing softly as a tidal wave of shame washed through her soul. Why was she always the wallflower? Why did she always have to be the one that people looked through? Why was she the one who always went to bed alone?
It was with those questions rattling around in her mind that she drifted off to sleep.
Ryan Hebert wasn't having a particularly good time as he wandered through the crowd of party-goers, beer in hand. He'd been with the insurance company about six months, and he really didn't know anyone very well.
Yet, because of his background as a professional baseball player, he often found himself put on the spot by the guys in the office who were jock wannabees looking for some reflected glory, and women who acted like the Baseball Annies he often encountered during his career.
He just wasn't that comfortable talking about himself like that. It sounded so much like bragging when he talked about his pro career.
It wasn't like he'd been famous or anything. He'd only gotten as far as Double-A, finishing his career just down the road at Norwich, in the Giants' farm system.
He'd stayed in Connecticut because he'd had a girlfriend at the time that he was planning to marry, but that relationship had been blown up a couple of months earlier when he caught her in bed with an old boyfriend.
By this time, he was stuck in New England, with a good job at a good company, and, honestly, he'd grown to like it there. In a lot of ways it reminded him of his native Louisiana. The people were kind of quirky, a little clannish, just like the folks back home, and there was a definite pride of place that was strongly reminiscent of his home in the bayou country.
.... There is more of this story ...