"So why do they call you Hook?" Sasha Taylor asked.
"When I was in college I got caught up in a theater production," Hook Benson said. He was the tall, dark, handsome type of man with a day-old growth of beard that was featured on many book covers and women's magazines. "We were doing Peter Pan, and I played Captain Hook." He shrugged. "It stuck."
Sasha nodded, her eyes wide. Melanie Stewart watched, secretly amused. The trade show was in full swing, and Hubbard & Associates had sent her and several others to man a display booth and drum up business. Sasha was their 'booth babe', and her bright, blonde, well-scrubbed look seemed to be going over pretty well. She was relatively new at Hubbard, and worked out of one of the satellite offices.
Hook, his real name was Jim, wiggled his hands in front of Sasha. "See, they're real."
Sasha was still captivated by his charm, and his hot body. It was obvious nothing was penetrating into the fore part of her brain.
Melanie took Hook by the arm. She wasn't immune to his charms, but she wasn't an airhead, either. "We need to check out the competition," she said. And give Sasha a chance to get back to normal, she added mentally.
Hook understood, and they made their way out of the booth—there were quite a few people reading their literature—and worked their way down the crowded aisle. They passed the lunch line and finally found a clear space near the entrance.
"Do you ever get used to it?" Melanie asked.
"Used to it? What do you mean?"
"You know, the looks you get from the women. When you walk into a room I swear the temperature rises at least five degrees."
He chuckled, a deep throaty chuckle that went right through her and made her stomach, and other places inside her, flutter. "Yeah, sort of. Now I know what models go through."
"Somebody said you used to be one."
"For a while. It's harder than people think, and it all depends upon your looks. Lose those, and you're out."
"I don't think you've lost yours."
"I didn't. I just got tired of it. I wanted a job with some substance. Being a 'booth hunk' isn't quite it."
"You didn't have to come here."
"If I'm going to use my marketing degree I have to do something. Today, this show, is a test. I want to see if I can turn my looks into sales." He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. "It works for women, does it work for guys?"
"Well, you won't sell to too many guys, I can tell you that."
"No, that's for you and Sasha. I'm here to sell to the women, though there are guys..."
"If you mean gay ones, probably you can."
"No, I wasn't quite thinking of that. Anyway, I'm here, we'll see how it goes." He looked around the crowded room. "You said we should check out the competition. I thought we did that yesterday."
"I just needed to get you away from Sasha. When she looks at you her hormones take over."
"There's a sure cure for that."
"Do you realize what you're suggesting?" she asked after a pause.
"Pretty much. I haven't seen her around the main offices."
"That's because she works out of one of the satellites."
"Oh. That could put a crimp in things."
"It could. Look, why don't you circulate a bit. I have a couple of things to do." She felt his eyes on her. "Girl things."
"Ah." He held up his hand. "No need for the details."
He ambled off, drawing every female eye in the place. Melanie watched too, but then forced herself to turn away. She'd gotten this assignment because she could get her mind out of the gutter and keep things above the waist. That wasn't always a common thing at Hubbard.
With Hook safely lost in the crowd, she went the other way, out onto the concourse of the Exhibit Hall. Cell phone reception was non-existent inside the place; in large part that was because of security. All sorts of wireless things didn't work inside the building.
It was a brisk spring day outside, too brisk for her taste. But there was one room set aside, sort of an atrium, that provided wireless connectivity. She grabbed a mocha and debated who to call. Finally she picked Sandy, the HR Manager for Hubbard. She would know what to do in a situation like this.
"Hi, it's Melanie. Got a question for you."
"Sure, what's up?" Sandy asked.
Melanie explained a little about Sasha.
"Should we ... do we dare, um, bring her in? Or could I, you know, pass it off as a one-time thing?"
"Good question," Sandy said. She sighed. "This has happened before, and the best bet is to make it a one-time thing. It's safer for everyone. I mean, if things got out..."
"So what role should I play? It'll be obvious he and I are rooming together, and we're only using one bed."
"How well do you think you can act?"
"You mean ... let her think we're having an affair or something?" She hadn't thought of doing that.
"Why not? Neither of you are married."
"You're a gem," Melanie said. "I know just how I'll play it. I just hope she isn't turned off by girls."
"The report we have on her says she was a college lez." Melanie could hear Sandy typing something on her computer. "You know, she tried it in college, and apparently it didn't repulse her. Just be careful. A little play is one thing, but going full-blast..."
"Yeah, that could screw everything up." She found herself nodding. "All right, I'll see what happens."
She made her way back to the booth. Sasha had recovered and was talking with several people, handing out literature and some of the 'trinkets and trash' everyone had as freebies. Melanie gave the woman a distant nod and set her sights on a booth at the end of the row. This was a competitor, and she changed badges so it wasn't obvious she was a vendor. She was officially there to sell Hubbard & Associates' services, but she had also been asked to see what their competitors were doing.
She did check in with Anne Taylor and Jack Bristow. Those two attended all of the conferences for Hubbard and were in charge of the team. She didn't socialize with them, they'd made it clear that she shouldn't, which she now realized was a smart move. Doing that with your immediate superior, and for this conference that was what they were, tended to be counter-productive.
"We've got the sessions covered," Anne said. "How are things going with the booth?"
"I'm glad we got the extra material done up. We would have run out by now if we hadn't."
"Do you think we need more?" Jack asked. "We still have two days to go."
"It might be a good idea," Melanie said.
"I'll take care of it." Jack took out his cell phone and walked off.
Melanie told Anne about Sasha. "I called Sandy at the office. She suggested a 'Conference Fling'. Hook and I are both single, so that might work."
Anne nodded. "I think so, too. Go ahead, let me know how it comes out."
Melanie agreed and walked back to the booth. There she got busy giving demos. She'd started at Hubbard as a summer intern working the phones, and her patience with customers had landed her this job. Now she put it to use as she explained how Hubbard used a telephone matching system to assure the right information appeared on the screen as the call came in. It took someone a little while to get the necessary mental agility to switch companies and products, but by now Hubbard's employees had all mastered the trick.
She and Sasha had dinner together while Hook manned the booth. Melanie had a glimpse of him surrounded by women. Over the main course she let drop the hint, dangling the bait.
" ... going to be a late night, and there's no one to talk to. That's the trouble with these conferences, they get so lonely."
"I could swing by later on," Sasha said. "Aren't you going to the keynote speech?"
"Anne and Jack will do that. I just want to get out of my heels. A little friendly conversation or something wouldn't hurt. I do have a couple of errands to run, swing by the copy shop and get more handouts, but I should be back to the room by 9:00."
"I'll bring something," Sasha said. "We can sit down and have a good old-fashioned girl gab fest."
"You don't have to put yourself out."
Melanie smiled and changed the subject. Sasha would be there, she was sure of it.
She did have her errands to run, and got back to the room she shared with Hook at 8:30. Sasha didn't know she and Hook shared the room, that was one of the surprises waiting for her.
"I thought you'd get entirely undressed," Hook said when Melanie stripped down to just her panties.
"I don't want to scare her off." She saw the confusion on his face. "Trust me, total nudity is out, but boobs can be okay." He still looked confused. "It's a girl thing. Some places on a girl's body are okay to accidentally see, and some aren't. Everyone sees boobs, especially in a locker room. Between your legs? That's too personal." She gave him a smile. "As for you, you need to change."
He'd been wearing an open shirt and trousers. She got him naked, and hard, and as someone knocked on the door, she wrapped a towel around him. It didn't exactly show the monster jutting out from his loins, but there was no mistaking what was there, or how big it was.
"Who is it?" Melanie called as she checked the peephole. There was nobody in the hall but Sasha.
"Oh, hi, Sasha. I didn't ... that is I..."
Sasha's eyes had widened at the sight of Melanie's near-nudity, and then they saw Hook and the front of the towel wrapped around his waist. As she'd expected, all thought evaporated from Sasha's head, and Melanie had no trouble pulling the woman into the room.
.... There is more of this story ...