Cassandra had never done this before. She had heard a few friends describe their adventures when they were able to leave their small town and visit a large city. However, Cassandra was always a little reluctant for fear her father or one of her brothers would hear of her activities and decide she really wasn't old enough to live on her own. In less than ten days she was moving from her parental home into her first apartment.
The move to be independent still might not help. She feared the men in her family would increase their level of attention to her activities. The few eligible men in town rarely called back for the second or third date. There weren't that many places to go on a date anyway, one movie theatre, one diner and a family style restaurant.
The small home town did not provide the same anonymity a large city would. As for finding a bar, club, or a lounge—-that really was a joke. About the only places to sit in a bar and have a drink were the country club and a beer joint on the edge of town.
The original idea had been to invite a friend to join her on a weekend trip to a large city for some fun and shopping. However, before she could execute her plan, her father had asked her to deliver some paperwork he needed signed and returned immediately. This trip gave her the best opportunity she might ever have. It was a risk, but a risk she was willing to take, just this one time. She only hoped she had planned well enough that she didn't place herself in any real danger, but she did want an adventure.
The hotel was magnificent, not one she would normally select, but so elegant it made Cassandra feel more than comfortable as she started to unpack her bag. Before calling home to let them know she was safely in her hotel room, she read the instructions on the telephone. Tempted to pump her fist in the air, she muttered a breathless, "Yes-s-s."
The convenience of having a telephone number directly to her room removed another obstacle she had been concerned about.
"Oh, I'm so glad you called Sandy. Your father just asked me if you had reported in."
Cassandra winced at her step-mother's use of the childish name, but kept her tone of voice from changing. She was trying so hard to stop people from calling her Sandy. She wanted to be known by her proper name, Cassandra. It sounded more professional and mature.
"Yes ma'am. Look at the caller ID and tell me if you see the telephone number to my room."
The woman Cassandra called Mother replied, "It says "Unknown" but there is a number displayed."
"Read it to me so I can make sure it's correct."
Her mother read off the numbers for Cassandra to check against the information on her telephone.
"Oh, before I forget, tell Daddy that when I delivered the documents I was told I should check back about mid-morning tomorrow to see if they are ready for me to pick up the signed copies."
Cassandra looked at the double-size, folded business card in her hand, the one the receptionist had given her. She opened it looking at the list of names, and almost said something to her step-mother, but withheld her comment for fear it would start a discussion she could not handle.
"You didn't have any trouble on the way up there did you?"
"No, ma'am. I found their office right away. Golly, this is a big city."
Her mother chuckled, "Yes, honey, it sure is. It gives you a good idea why we stay in this small town. What are you doing for supper?"
Cassandra paused for a moment, "Oh, I don't know yet, but I looked out the window and saw the signs of a couple of restaurants and some fast-food places. I'll get something quick and come back to my room. I brought a book with me. I'll probably read until I get sleepy. Driving this far made me feel tired."
"Okay, call me before you leave there tomorrow. Or, call me if you need to stay a second night."
"Yes, ma'am. Bye-bye."
Cassandra truly didn't dislike her step-mother and only remembered about half the time that she wasn't her real mother. The woman was only a few years older than men her father's generation might call a trophy wife. She had taken the place of her father's first wife who had not survived the birth of their sixth child. Nor did the woman provide a substitute for the fifth son her father had also lost.
Cassandra had looked forward to being replaced as the baby of the family. Her father finally admitted that four sons and one daughter was enough assurance there would be a continuation of the family business.
Cassandra took a couple of deep breaths and finished pulling her clothes from her bag. She put the skirt, blouse, and blazer she would wear tomorrow on a hanger in the closet along with the low heel shoes. She left her daytime underwear and casual clothes in the bag.
The next item she pulled from the bag was THE DRESS. It had taken her almost a month to find the dress she wanted. Because she came from a small town, there were only a few stores that sold cocktail dresses. Although most were rather conservative, a few had held possibilities. The one she selected would shock her mother, but it was exactly what Cassandra wanted, revealing in a subtle way, but sexy, too.
She had already put her makeup bag and bath items in the bathroom. The only thing left was the secret bag in the front zipper compartment. She had worried that her mother would find the bag so she'd put it in her suitcase as soon as it arrived. It was a thong. Cassandra had never owned a thong and was almost frightened at how revealing the delicate item of lingerie would be when she put it on. The small bag also contained the thigh high stockings she still couldn't believe would stay up for the few hours she would wear them.
Cassandra removed the clothing she was wearing and hung everything, checked the clock then pulled on her favorite long sleep shirt. Although she wasn't really hungry, she needed to eat something. The few snacks and a bottle of water she'd purchased when she stopped to fill her car were still in her oversized handbag, the same bag she had used to carry her father's paperwork.
With nothing left on her list of pre-preparations, Cassandra crawled to the middle of the bed. As an afterthought, she set the small clock on the bedside table to allow for a three-hour nap. She passed on the temptation to look at the business card again. She had finally gotten over the surprise he lived here. She thought he had moved much farther away after he left his job with her father's company. The city was so large it was virtually impossible she would see him.
Even though she was awake before the alarm, Cassandra remained in bed, thinking about what she was going to do that evening. Giggling, she finally walked into the bathroom. She had three hours to make herself into the person she wanted to be for the evening. She had practiced, she had planned, and now it was time to execute the first steps of her adventure.
"Bubble bath," Cassandra muttered, finally accepting the planned Brazilian wax treatment part of her original plan needed to be abandoned. She didn't really want to be hairless "down there" but she did place her rounded point scissors on the edge of the bathtub.
Two and one-half hours later, Cassandra stood in front of the wide mirror at the foot of her bed, looking at her reflection and at the bed.
Cassandra steeled her resolve. She was not going to allow a moment of caution cause her to abandon her plans. She went through her mental checklist:
Room — Check. Everything was put away and neat.
Bathroom — Check. All of the items she had used to make herself into a mature Cassandra were gone, too.
Hair — Check. Her normally straight hair showed her efforts with the curling iron to add body and some gentle waves. Plus the combs at the sides revealed the dangling earrings she'd received as her most recent birthday present from her parents. Diamonds on her twenty-first birthday were some kind of family tradition, or so her mother had told her.
Makeup — Check. All of the practice she had done in the last few weeks, and immediately washed off before anyone saw it, was worth the effort. The result made her eyes look larger and a much deeper blue. The subtle shading on her cheeks gave definition to her bone structure and the slightly darker shade under her jaw lengthened her neck.
Perfume — Check and double-check. She inhaled while holding her wrist near her face. Ah, Joy and nothing but Joy. Finding unscented soaps and shampoos was a challenge, but Sandy had been particular since she was sixteen and received a small emerald-cut bottle, one-half ounce, of the expensive perfume from her Grandmother. Few people recognized the scent, but many complimented Sandy on her "new" perfume, allowing her a secret little smile that she was wearing a fragrance almost 100 years old, once touted as "The most costly perfume in the world." She wasn't sure about the twenty-eight dozen roses per ounce, but she had never lost her feeling it was exactly right for her.
Ass — Check. She grinned when she turned around and lifted her dress to look at the faint line of the thong as it went up to join the one around her waist.
Front — Check. She almost groaned when she turned around to check the trimming she had done "down there." The faintly pink, flesh-colored front of the thong was so sheer she could see much more than she expected.
Legs — Check. Sitting on the bed, on the chair, crossing her legs, and leaning against the dresser had revealed only a small amount of the lace at the top of her thigh high stockings. Bending over more than she would expect to do, even squatting to pick up something she had dropped had been no worse.
Shoes — Check. Three-inch black heels, whose straps across her toes and cups cradling her heels allowed her to walk without slapping her foot with each step. She had practiced in the store, at home, and had worn them for hours when there was no one but her at home. She had even walked up and down the stairs and felt comfortable that she was moving with as much grace as possible. That had been one of her two most important criteria when planning the evening.
Evening Bag — Check. Cash and her identification, plus lipstick and a cotton handkerchief was everything she needed. She finally added her room keycard and snapped the closure.
Dress — Check. The second most important criterion was slinky, elegant, and long. The color closely matched the dark blue of her eyes. When she put her head down to see her feet, only her toes showed. When she took a longer than usual step, the side slit parted to show the lower half of her thigh. No panty line showed at her waist, not even from the rear. The top fit her shape but wasn't tight, not even snug. The deep plunging neckline in front was moderately hidden by draped, shawl-like folds, yet a deep cleavage was revealed to anyone standing near her. The same kinds of folds, seen from the rear, flowed halfway down her back. She wiggled her upper body just to see how much her unfettered breast moved and smiled at what she saw.
Cassandra — Check. It was her reminder to herself that for the remainder of the evening, she was an elegant woman, Cassandra. She was not the childish Sandy, nor was she the Little Sister her four older brothers continued to tease.
Let Cassandra's adventure begin.
When Cassandra stood at the entrance to the hotel's Midnight Lounge she forced herself not to tremble. She had needed the same willpower when she pushed the top-floor elevator button after she left her room. From the elevator she had taken slow, careful steps. Now, standing at the entrance to the lounge, she felt nervous and excited, yet she remained until her eyes adjusted to the subdued lighting inside the club.
On her left was a long, semi-oval bar, showing dark panels of wood and polished brass fittings. The smoky mirror behind the bar reflected the lights shining on the shelves of displayed liquor bottles. A short, stocky bartender in a white waistcoat and neat bow tie was placing a short glass in front of a patron, the ice clinking against the thick glass when his hand moved. There were only a few men sitting on the upholstered, high-backed, bar stools. Each of them was separated by at least one empty stool.
It was a little early, but Cassandra hadn't been able to wait one more minute. She had learned from the bellman that the bar opened shortly after lunch and had a fairly moderate after-work accumulation of patrons. However, late evening hours were better, with a fairly elegant style of dress expected. Another bar in the hotel was available for those who preferred a more casual style.
The right side of the room had several booths with half-circle tables in front of wrap-around bench seating. One of the booths had a couple snuggling close to each other. Between the booths and the bar sat several small tables with deep cushioned club chairs. Three of the tables held people. She didn't give much attention to the far tables in the back since that part of the club wasn't being used this evening. The Midnight Lounge was designed for comfort and intimacy, exactly what Cassandra wanted.
Maintaining her slow, even pace, Cassandra walked to the middle of the bar where there were several empty seats. She selected a stool with at least two empty places on each side, raised her hip and sat on the front of the seat. Placing her feet on the rung, she lifted, shifting back to be more comfortable. She placed her small evening bag on the bar near her left hand.
"Good evening, ma'am. I'm Harvey. And what will you have this evening?"
Cassandra paused for a moment, looked behind the bartender and quietly said, "Grey Goose, please, Harvey."
"Straight, with a twist, or on ice?"
Cassandra looked at the middle-aged man as if she were thinking for a moment then said, "On ice, with a twist of lime if you have it. If not, lemon is fine."
"Grey Goose with a lime twist it is," the bartender educated her how to ask for the drink next time.
Cassandra reached for her bag, but her fingers stilled on the clasp when Harvey patted the back of her hand.
"For a beautiful woman, the first drink is on the house."
Cassandra nodded her head at the man's compliment and smiled slowly, then whispered, "Thank you."
Harvey returned a few moments later to place a coaster in front of Cassandra and a napkin beside it. The ice in the thick glass tinkled as he placed her drink before her, then stood for a moment as if he were waiting for something.
Cassandra lifted the glass and took a tiny sip. She nodded, tasting only the mild sting of the lime in her drink. "Very good, Harvey. Thank you."
"You're welcome, Miss ... ah," Harvey said quietly after dropping his eyes to Cassandra's left hand.
"Cassandra," she breathed her name quietly, but not so quietly that the two men nearest her couldn't hear.
"Are you a guest in our hotel this evening?"
Cassandra nodded once, just barely moving her chin downward, not interested in anyone hearing her response.
Harvey nodded too, accepting her desire for privacy. He tapped his fingers twice on his edge of the bar, sort of a shorthand message that he would check back with her in a little while. Cassandra took another small sip of her drink and looked straight ahead examining the part of the room she could see reflected in the mirror behind the bar.
Now that Cassandra was sitting on a barstool and had a drink in front of her, she began to relax. The stiffness of her posture softened and the fabric of her dress over her shoulders wasn't quite as tight as it had felt before. She did not look down as front of her dress slipped an inch, displaying more cleavage.
For the first time, she noticed the faint sound of music coming from some hidden speakers. Perhaps this particular piece was a little louder than the previous ones, or maybe she had been so tense she hadn't paid attention. She recognized the instrumental and silently thought about the words that matched it.
Cassandra looked in the bar mirror watching the man and woman in the booth directly behind her. They were talking quietly. His body was turned toward hers while his arm rested on the table in front of them. He appeared to whisper something in her ear then gently kissed her cheek. She turned her head as if to respond, and his lips touched hers for a moment. It was a gentle, pleasant demonstration of affection, mesmerizing with its ease.
From behind one end of the wall at the back of the bar, a young lady appeared and began to set up the server station, checking the supplies of coasters, napkins, and drink garnishes she would need. Her costume was similar to Harvey's, except her white waistcoat was sleeveless. She wore no shirt and her pants were short, black shorts. She, too, was wearing a black bowtie.
The waitress's movements seemed to attract the attention of most of the men around the bar. It was a good opportunity for Cassandra to give each of them a careful look. She might not have the opportunity to meet each of them before one decided to get a little friendlier and occupy her attention. She didn't want to make a wrong choice.
The unknown men presented her greatest risk, but they were also the reason for the whole adventure. The few men she knew in her small town were nothing compared to a man who lived in a large city, one who matched himself against others. She was looking for a man of substance, not a lazy, small town hick.
Had Cassandra been paying attention to the lounge's entry, she would have seen a tall man, perhaps in his late thirties or early forties, examine the room while his eyes adjusted to the dim lighting. His shoulders were slightly broader than most, which emphasized the neat cut of his suit. She might have noticed his dark charcoal, custom made suit; either that or it had been skillfully altered for him.
She missed his glance at her as he noted the color of her dress. He confirmed that it closely matched the dark blue of his own shirt before returning his eyes to her.
He looked around the interior of the lounge, recognizing a few people he had seen before. He knew the names of several of the women, but wasn't interested in their kind of action for the evening.
He could not stand being at home alone for another hour so he had dressed and left, at the last minute deciding to visit the lounge in the hotel. It would be quiet. He could have a few drinks and perhaps spend an hour or two with a woman who didn't mind having a good conversation and nothing more.
The man relaxed one leg as if he would take a step forward then locked his knee again, supporting his weight on both legs.
"No!" he whispered. He didn't realize the faint sound of his word could be heard by someone standing beside him. His other thoughts were silent. 'It can't be her. She doesn't live in this city. But — damn, the resemblance is remarkable.'
It had been six years since he'd last seen the real Sandy. His first impression of the woman at the bar may have been a bit of wishful thinking. A thirty-two year old man did not lust after his employer's teenage daughter. And ... he certainly didn't stick around to see if what he felt was deeper than infatuation.
He almost took a step but decided to watch the woman for a moment longer. He shook his head from side to side, just the barest movement, finally accepting he was mistaken. The woman in front of him was a few years older, more elegant, her movements were more sensual and easier than the young woman, actually a girl, he had known.
Sandy may not have been the primary reason he had moved to a big city, but she was certainly one of them. He had seen her often, too often. He worked closely with her father. He had introduced his sister to Sandy's father. After they married, he had been around when Sandy was six years old. He was there when she turned ten, he recalled her birthday party that year. He watched her budding into a true beauty when she was fifteen. He fled before she turned sixteen.
Fearing he would make an absolute fool of himself, he'd told her father of his attraction to Sandy and quit his job. Fletch had understood and promised not to push him to visit. He also promised to keep the secret from his wife, Helen, who was a little over-protective of Sandy.
No, she couldn't possibly be the Sandy he knew. She was a helluva woman, though. He could imagine what the long slender leg, he could see in the side slit of her skirt, would feel like wrapped around him. He had no special plans for the evening, but never passed up an opportunity to be with a beautiful woman.
Although few people knew it, the Midnight Lounge was his favorite watering hole. He didn't bring dates to the exclusive club, yet he did visit often enough that the bartender and owner knew him. He'd been fortunate, if that was the proper term, to find an attractive woman or two in the club. They were either guests of the hotel or otherwise had special access to the quiet surroundings by being a close friend of a friend. A number of the more playful women in town were known to visit occasionally. There was a rather loose, gentleman's agreement that no one recognized anyone who entered the club, even if they had been a previous sexual partner.
Half-mesmerized by the profile he could see, the man walked to the bar and selected a seat to the right of the woman, leaving only one stool vacant between them.
Harvey looked up from rinsing glasses in the bar dish washer, "Scotch, Tank?"
Cassandra drew in a deep breath, praying she hadn't made a sound.
"Yeah, thanks, Harvey," the man answered. He glanced at the bar in front of the woman. Perhaps he might advance his efforts if she were ready for another drink.
Cassandra tensed in her seat, her shoulders raised and stiffened. She could no longer relax. 'No, oh please, no, ' she thought, but she knew her thoughts betrayed her knowledge. All the weeks of planning, the purchases she had managed to hide from her parents, and her earlier preparations were wasted. She took a quick swallow of her drink barely managing to do so without choking.
Harvey placed the coaster, napkin, and drink in front of Tank and stood a moment for the taste test. When Tank nodded, Harvey moved away, stopping for a moment in front of Cassandra to tap his edge of the bar, silently asking if she was ready for a refill.
Cassandra shook her head and managed to stop the movement so her profile was turned slightly away from the new man at the bar, looking in the mirror as the waitress stopped at a table to take an order. 'Relax Sandy, relax, ' she instructed herself. 'It's been a few years, maybe he doesn't recognize you. Give him time to get interested in what's happening in the other parts of the room.' Her mind was still whirling, flashes of memories and short conversations drifted through her mind.
Could she do it? Could she deceive him? As a young teen she had stared moon-eyed at this man. Could she flirt with him tonight, convince him she was a sophisticated woman out for a night of fun?
The scrape of a chair across the wood floor came from the opposite end of the room as lighting came up and began to reflect in the mirror. A few test notes played on a piano overwhelmed the sound coming from the speakers. A slow melody was executed with expression and style. A male voice humming unspoken words replaced the former gentle sounds of canned music.
The sound of the piano grew dimmer as the player spoke, "For your listening and dancing pleasure this evening, I'm Tony. If you have a favorite you would like to hear, let the waitress, Star, know about it. I've never known a star before. Don't you think her name is rather appropriate for the Midnight Lounge?"
A faint smattering of laughter ended Tony's remarks as he continued to play, adding a few hummed phrases now and then. He soon switched to a little faster music for several minutes. Then the slow strains of a waltz filled the room. Tony was demonstrating that he could provide every type of dancing music.
Tank recognized the man from the near corner of the bar as he approached. They had certainly sampled a few of the same women, although Carlton was a much heavier player than Tank knew, visiting the club at least two nights a week. Tank came in just a few times a month and was much more selective of the women he found attractive. Many of his visits were only for the opportunity to dance and converse with a woman in a somewhat "no holds barred" conversation, enjoying the tease as much as if he had a night with the woman.
Cassandra watched as a man from the near corner of the bar approached to ask, "Would you like to dance?"
Cassandra offered her hand and smiled then slipped off her stool. She felt the man's hand squeeze hers as he led her to the dance floor. He pulled her to him, pushed her hip to turn her in a circle under his arm and wrapped one arm around her. He was a little bit of a showoff, but Sandy could follow him easily. His hand rested against her back with his thumb slowly stroking the bare skin above the low drape of the neckline at the back of her dress.
He introduced himself as Carlton and nodded when she said her name. Otherwise, they were silent as they enjoyed the dance with several other couples on the floor. Tony was quite a talented piano player, plus his baritone voice added sensuality to the atmosphere inside the club.
Carlton kept her on the dance floor through three different songs, demonstrating his skill, occasionally trying to hold Cassandra a little tighter than she preferred. He finally got the message and just enjoyed the dance along with a few comments on why each of them had selected this lounge for the evening.
When Carlton finally returned her to her seat, the barstool on her left had been moved a little farther left to be nearer its neighbor. A couple occupied the two stools. They were chatting as if they were well acquainted, using short sentences as they discussed their day. Tank was now sitting on her immediate right. He had moved to give two couples the stools between him and the far corner of the bar.
Cassandra thanked Carlton for the dance and climbed back up on her seat. The interlude had given her a chance to relax a little, but now her tension was back. A full glass was sitting before her. She looked at Harvey and he jerked his head to the man beside her. Tank had bought her a fresh drink. It was now or never. Could she pull it off? She did not know but it was worth the effort to try. Oh well, here goes nothing.
"Thank you," Cassandra turned her head as she spoke, keeping her chin down and speaking quietly. The practice to lower her voice and speak slowly produced sounds she was so proud of, they added an extra sparkle to her eyes and a little more to her smile.
"You're welcome," Tank replied, trying not to stare down the front of this woman's dress but still barely glancing at her face. He finally decided he had been mistaken. This was a woman, several years older than Sandy, although the resemblance was remarkable. Her facial features were more mature and her body was certainly much more voluptuous. He suspected she was two or more inches taller than his memory of Sandy.
"Are you a guest at the hotel tonight?" His question was so nonchalant she didn't recognize it as one of the oldest pick up lines the man knew.
Rather than cross her fingers, Cassandra crossed her ankles, hoping for the same effect, when she replied, "Yes, but only for one night." Oh heck, why did she tell him that? A simple positive response would have worked just as well.
"Are you traveling on business?"
Cassandra tested the chuckle she had practiced for a month, "Oh yes, and hoping my business doesn't keep me here longer than one night." She took a deep breath before asking her own get-acquainted question, "And you?"
"No, I live here. I just like this place. It's quiet. If I stay too late Harvey will call someone to put me in a cab for home." He laughed a little, matching her humor.
"Yes, it is quiet. The man at the piano, Tony, he's good."
"This is his bar."
Think slow Cassandra, she reminded herself, "Oh really? Does he own the bar so he can have a permanent place to entertain, or is it the other way around?"
Tank looked at Tony then turned back to the woman, "You know, I'm not sure. I could go ask him."
Cassandra put her hand on Tank's arm, "Oh please, don't." She tried to laugh. "I think I was just making conversation."
They continued their polite conversation for a few more minutes, interspersed with short periods of silence. Several times Cassandra looked at Carlton but his attention was usually directed elsewhere. She also gave her attention to the other men around the perimeter of the bar, none of whom interested her. She might as well see how far she could go with hiding who she was from Tank.
Tank turned and offered his right hand, "My friends call me Tank."
She placed her right hand in his. "Cass." She did not know why she didn't complete the rest of her first name. He had known her as Sandy, perhaps not saying Sandra would help with her subterfuge.
"Is that short for Cassidy or something like that?"
"Yes, something like that. I just prefer Cass."
"Then Cass it is. Now then, Cass, would you like to dance?"
"Yes, I would." She pushed against the bar to turn her seat and took Tank's hand, holding on as they threaded through a few tables to reach the small dance floor.
They danced through two different pieces of music, getting accustomed to each other's movements and occasionally looking at each other. A few times Tank caught a whiff of her perfume. It was so subtle he wasn't sure if he could detect roses or something else, nor could he decide if it was her perfume, shampoo or body soap. He just knew he liked it for its calm fragrance, elegance of simplicity. Perhaps because it was exactly like Cass, whom he was beginning to enjoy.
Each time they neared Tony, he smiled and nodded at them but his fingers never left the keyboard. Tank watched Tony's examination of Cass, then his wink, which Tank accepted as approval. Tony's slow rendition of the first part of "Pretty Woman" drove Tank from the dance floor, fearing Tony would begin to really belt it out, as he had done on previous evenings.
When they left the dance floor, Tank stopped at the first booth, where glasses similar to those they'd had at the bar rested on fresh coasters. Cassandra looked up at Tank, waiting for his explanation.
He smiled down at her, "Harvey knows me. I like this booth. I don't care to sit at the bar with my back to everyone."
"Good choice," Cassandra agreed and sat down, then slid around to the corner. She looked around for a moment surprised at how private the booth was. The high partitions between the booths and the side toward the dance floor gave barely one wall for an opening. The lighting was lower, too. That would help her avoid being recognized.
Tank relaxed against the soft back of the booth and took a deep breath, seeming to stretch out a little, giving Cass plenty of room. "So tell me about Cass."
"What would you like to know?"
"You've played this game before. What do you usually allow men to know about you?"
"Actually, not much, if they don't already know me. And ... if they do, I needn't tell them anything more."
"Ah ha, a woman of mystery. All right, what shall we talk about?"
"Oh, let me see. Politics?"
Tank shook his head, "Not on your life. This is a political town and I'm not part of that scene."
Tank shook his head again, almost violently. "Oh God, no." Then he laughed at his own remark.
Tank turned his head to look at her. "Seriously? You can handle talking about sports?"
"As I have a father and four brothers, each of whom has taken me as their favorite pupil, I can hold my own in most discussions about sports."
Cassandra held her breath. Why did she tell him that? Oh well, many people had four brothers, it couldn't seem so unusual. Besides, he was probably thinking about his favorite sports team.
"Do you enjoy watching sports?"
"Most of the time I do, unless the commentators get too long-winded."
"I have a sister like that. She rants at them, telling them, 'Hush, so we can watch the game.' Her other comments are sometimes less pleasant."
Cassandra winced, knowing he was speaking about her step-mother but she joined his laughter. He was right. She had heard some of the names Helen had called the talking heads. She just didn't need to tell him that.
Tank leaned his arm on the table and bent over to speak in her other ear, "I like your laugh. It's a happy sound. You should do it more often." He kissed the soft skin in front of her ear and then kissed her cheek. He didn't stop there, his mouth moved down her neck until his lips were touching the soft spot near her shoulder.
"You're delicious. I don't know what that perfume is, but I'll buy you a gallon of it if you'll allow me to lick every dab of it from your body."
Cassandra gasped and Tank looked into her eyes as he placed a finger across her lips. "Don't. I apologize. I shouldn't have said that. I'll not apologize for thinking it but I did not mean it to offend."
"Accepted," Cassandra could barely say the word. Too many years of thinking about this man doing exactly what he had described made her body tingle. She felt a bubble of moisture escape between the lips of her sex and wanted to groan.
"Thank you," Tank responded and touched his lips to hers. He raised his head then placed his forehead against hers, "Cass" whispered across her moist lips.
Realizing he was rushing, Tank settled back against the seat. "Do you ever play the game, What's My Line?"
"You mean like looking at someone and trying to imagine what they do for a living or what makes them special?"
"Yes, tell me about the first man you danced with, the guy sitting at the far corner."
Cassandra looked at Carlton then at Tank, "If you saw us dancing you already know. He's a showoff." She waited for Tank's nod then asked, "My turn?" After his second nod, Cassandra said, "The guy at the bar with mismatched socks."
"Huh?" Tank looked but couldn't tell which man she meant.
"The third stool, one sock has faint red stripes and the other does not."
"Damn, you're observant," Tank complained. "Okay, I'll guess an accountant."
"Yeah." Tank explained, "If it isn't on paper so he can add it, average it, or post it to another piece of paper, he doesn't care about it."
"Oh my, that's a good one. Do you know many accountants?"
"A few. All right, it's my turn." Nodding toward one of the center tables, "The lady wearing a blonde wig, what's her line?"
"It's not a wig and she isn't married to the man with her."
And so the next couple of hours passed. They continued to play the game, often getting off the subject when one or the other's guess sparked an interest. Cassandra declined another drink. She had finished only half of her first drink before the dance with the showoff. She drank half of the second one when Tank took her to the dance floor.
The third drink was on the table when they sat down and Tank had ordered himself another drink before he ordered the next round for both of them. The drinks arrived while they were talking about one of the tall buildings they could see through the windows on the opposite side of the room. Three drinks were more than her limit. She liked to keep herself from having the third drink, not because she couldn't handle that many, but because of the way they made her feel the next morning. She was also conscious she needed to keep her wits about her during any conversation with a man who might recognize her from an unprepared remark.
Tank took her to the dance floor where he held her tighter than he had earlier. She felt his erection and suspected he knew she was just as attracted to him. He squeezed her hand, whispered in her ear, and kissed her once again, a light fleeting kiss.
She rested her head on his shoulder, her lips so close to his neck she could imagine feeling his heart beating. The opportunity to dance with and be held by this man was the stuff of which dreams were made.
They returned to their table, their conversation growing quieter and more intimate. Cassandra was sitting with her head against the back of the seat. Her eyes closed as she thought the words, then spoke them slowly, "It is late. I need to leave."
"I'll walk you to your room."
"I can get there by myself."
"Tough, but I won't let you out of my sight until I have you in your room. You're not sober enough to be let loose in this huge place."
"Okay," Cassandra acquiesced, pushing against Tank to get out of the booth. He stood and left money on the table as he put his arm around Cass and walked toward the front door of the Lounge, waving to a grinning Harvey behind the bar.
"Room number, Cass?"
"1215, no 1512."
Pushing that number on the elevator wall, he suggested, "We'll try the fifteenth floor first."
Tank took the keycard from Cass and opened her door. He gave her a nudge to go inside and stepped in behind her, wrapping his arms around her as he pushed against the door to close it. He heard the automatic lock engage as he bent his head to nuzzle the back of her neck.
Cassandra rested her head against him when his hands moved up to cup her breasts, feeling their weight and softness. His hands were large but tender. She shuddered at the feeling of him holding her so close. He watched over her shoulder as he lifted a dark pink nipple into view. He could smell her perfume and her arousal. He thought he had detected the musk earlier when he kissed her, but she seemed to retreat from him after that and he was too attracted to rush her. Now she moaned with the kneading of his fingers.
His hands went lower, one resting on her flat belly and the other going between her legs to cup her sex and feel her heat. She moved one leg giving him better access and pressed back. He was hard, growing harder against the pressure of her bottom. She moved ever so slightly, stimulating him.
The urge to turn her around and devour her was almost too much to resist. Tank knew he shouldn't. She'd had too much to drink. This woman wasn't a one-night stand kind of conquest. He'd learned that as they talked. She didn't play the sexual innuendo game very well. She was also not as old as he had first thought. Her facial expressions were too open and genuine.
"Cass," he spoke in her ear. "Let's get you to bed."