"So Stephanie, tell me which of the two wines you preferred tonight; the 2007 Robert Mondavi Estate-bottled Cabernet Sauvignon or the '09 Napa Creek?"
"Why do you do that?" Stephanie cocked her head to the side and almost bit her lower lip. She was torn between labeling this guy as insufferably infuriating or really interesting. Considering the woeful state of her recent relationships - interesting was her current hope. After all, this was a very nice restaurant.
Lawrence had to smile before he replied. It also gave him time to watch her take another sip of wine; she had sexy lips - really sexy lips. "Do what?"
"You use very proper naming, you've been doing all evening. For instance just now instead of asking me if I liked the first wine or the second, you used their full name. Am I making any sense? I mean it's almost like you're doing a commercial or something." She was tempted to say something else, but she was still holding out hope for "interesting."
"I do know what you mean Stephanie. It's called product placement. Companies benefit from a form of advertising when their products are used in movies or TV programs. Sometimes it's done without the company paying for it - one the best examples out there is Apple Computers. Movies, TV, print media what do you see - that big Apple logo; on computers, laptops, iPods, iPhones, oh - and don't forget iPads; they're everywhere. Why? Well, primarily because advertising companies are usually Mac shops - so they use what's nearby. That is one savvy company when it comes to PR. Other times companies find it worth the investment of influencing those decisions. Don't you find it more comfortable when you see a recognized brand being used rather then some phony or generic thing?"
"I guess so. I can't say that I pay that much attention to that kind of thing." Stephanie watched Lawrence's hands as he twirl the glass stem while he spoke. He has nice hands with long fingers.
"Oh, I'm not saying that you pay attention to it - you just notice it, perhaps only sub-consciously." Lawrence focused on Stephanie with a casual intensity. She's pretty, very sexy, and clearly interested. But something was holding her back, he wondered if she was one of those "Rules" girls.
"Okay, so advertisers are trying to brainwash us all - what else is new?" Stephanie looked down at his hands again; they were clean, nails cut short. He dressed stylishly enough, she reminded herself to check out his shoes when they left.
"It's a rare commercial that really boosts sales for a company's product. In fact, most people actively ignore commercials when they come on so even a good commercial, a creative commercial, is ignored. However, if you see that same product on a TV show that you watch, or in a movie, especially a movie you really like or with a star you really respect, you might be "more comfortable" the next time you have the opportunity to buy that particular product. That's the benefit of product placement." Lawrence waited her out. He was just a little bit more curious to see if she would accept or reject his statements.
"Okay, I get it. So why are you doing it? This isn't TV or a movie."
Lawrence smiled. "Well Stephanie, I had a brilliant idea one day and wrote one very simple proposal. I sent it to ... well, let's just say I sent the proposal to the right people. It's proved to be a very lucrative venture."
"Wait a second, you've lost me here." Lawrence nodded, not so much at her confusion as to the fact she had leaned towards him clearly wanting him to help her. She was nibbling at the bait - she wanted to be caught, wanted to be reeled in, and wanted to be landed.
"I pitched the idea of product placement in stories published on the Internet. Any kind of story would do; romance, science fiction, mystery, erotic sex-filled stories. Story length didn't matter either, although I've always felt that the bigger the story the more enjoyment to be had ... don't you agree?
Stephanie nodded, relaxed, and leaned even closer to Lawrence.
"If a story happens to mention one of the products that I'm representing then I get a tiny fraction of a penny for every occurrence. The great thing about it is that it is so easy to track the number of times a site is viewed. If a story is downloaded I make even more." Lawrence sat back in his chair. He caught the waiter's eye.
"And you're making a living doing this?" Stephanie was clearly in re-evaluation mode now. Lawrence watched her facial responses, for a blind date things were moving along quite well.
"The Lexus LS 400 I picked up in is courtesy of product placement. I'm going to pay for this meal with my CapitalOne Miles Plus Visa card. I can even sign the receipt with my Mount Blanc fountain pen. All examples of product placement. And do you know what's best about all this proper naming I do?"
"No Lawrence." Stephanie was quickly reconsidering her plan for the evening. Her normal blind date protocol - not that she went on a lot of them - was for a handshake at the end of the date. A simple, quick kiss was possible if the guy was polite, charming and interesting. If he was cute, attentive and had an unobtrusive way of paying for everything without it being apparent then he might get a little bit lucky and be allowed a momentary unrestrained hand roving, perhaps even a brief caress of her breast. Any attempt at nipple contact would be gently discouraged, although not necessarily stopped until it actually happened. She felt her body warm and tingle in anticipation; interesting, definitely interesting. "Tell me what you do best."
Lawrence raised his eyebrows in a silent acknowledgement of her shift to sexy flirting. "I write to the authors, as one of their fans, and tell them that their stories would be more believable it they used recognizable products. I often send along a list of the products I'm representing with detailed descriptions of various lengths and wait for the checks to roll in."
"Really." Stephanie had already decided that Lawrence was cute enough and attentive enough that she was going to let him kiss her. If he took her somewhere nice after dinner then she might just invite him in for a moment and let him - well she would decide just how far when she came to that point. Certainly if he came through on a second date, she'd make sure he did too. Third date sex was guaranteed.
"Stephanie, would you like dessert or some coffee? Or we could go to an after-hours place - dancing maybe?" Lawrence saw the brief darting of a pink tongue between her lips. He handed his credit card to the waiter and smiled at the charmingly sexy woman by his side.
Stephanie was barely inside her door before Lawrence kissed her. He kissed her just right; soft enough to let her get used to his lips and taste and hard enough to let her know he was definitely interested. She kissed him back and wondered if he would try to take advantage of her with his hands?
Lawrence let his hands trail down her back to right above her bottom. He played slowly back and forth, but going no further downward. He kissed her harder then slowly backed off by raising his head. Her lips followed as she stretched up on tiptoe. That simple motion caused his hands to move across her soft bottom and he softly moved his fingers tips in random circles. At the very moment she ceased to reach up to his lips he brought his hands up and slightly forward.
Stephanie felt his hands gently come to rest alongside her breasts as she pulled back from the kiss. The motion of his fingertips on her lower back had been arousing enough but when she'd stretched up to continue kissing him those fingertips seemed to be everywhere across her bottom - this was too far too fast and all together way too arousing. Her efforts to break the contact had caused his hands to end up along side her breasts; she paused waiting and wanting him to squeeze them. She hadn't been this aroused in months. She smiled before she spoke. Smiling in the knowledge that she would likely have to change the batteries in her vibrator tonight. She really liked this guy.
"I had a wonderful time tonight Lawrence. Dinner was fantastic and that club we went to was - wow! I never drank cognac before, I think I'll have to be more careful next time." Stephanie smiled and chewed her bottom lip waiting for him to pick up on "next time."
.... There is more of this story ...