I just had to knock this one off. Thanks to Shallan for the quick beta.

I'll say A (Hard) R rating, but not as bad as you might think. Moral: don't eavesdrop. (Yes, there is too a moral!)


THE LADY DOWNSTAIRS



Crowswork






Jim ordered dinner in and waited for Sandburg. They watched a baseball game and around 11:30 Sandburg shuffled off to bed. Jim hesitated, but finally gave in to weariness and trudged up the stairs.

Turn on the white noise generators, he thought. So what if it feels like your head is in a fish bowl.

Once or twice a week. It wasn't like it was every night.

Maybe she won't do it tonight. He could take a chance and just use the ear plugs.

He fell asleep without deciding.

Half past midnight, it started. Click! The little electric motor whirred to life. Humming.

Vibrating!

As he had the first time, Jim incorporated the sound into his dream, which rapidly became very erotic. That voice. Tiny gasps and sighs that seemed to brush seductively over every nerve in his body. He woke with a start.

Tune it out. He clenched his fists and tried to turn down his hearing. You've arrested people for this. You're a cop, not a voyeur.

You're in your own bed. Not peeping in a window.

No one will know.

The deep throaty moans were like music being played on the instrument of his body. How could a sound be so erotic?

His muscular body tightened painfully and he prayed she would finish. He also prayed she would never stop.

Ellison, you are such a pervert.

A little gasp that was half sob and half giggle killed the last of his resolve and he let himself be swept away by the sheer pleasure of the moment.


Sara Sanders was juggling groceries and her dry cleaning, while trying to unlock her front door.

"Let me help."

"Oh!" She almost dropped everything in her surprise, before recognizing the cop who lived upstairs. He gave her the most beautiful shy smile as he caught the grocery bag. They had been introduced, but their meetings had been the occasional nod and wave as they passed in the hall. Both were too busy for much more.

She unlocked her door and turned to find herself pinned by the most intense blue gaze. After a few seconds, she got nervous and asked, "Is there something wrong?"

"No." He handed her the bag and she could swear he was blushing. "Err... goodbye."

Sara closed the door and frowned. "Well, that was strange."


"Well that was strange." Jim heard the low murmur as he climbed on the elevator.

You have no idea, lady.

He rode to the third floor as he went over the encounter in his mind. She seemed like a nice lady. Older than him by a couple years. Young enough to be insulted if he called her ma'am, as he was tempted to do.

Nice looking, rather than pretty. Round face, round blue eyes, a bit plump. Brown hair threaded with gray... silver, really. Great voice.

Today, when the opportunity presented itself, he had gotten close and checked.

Nothing.

Not a single pheromone zipped between them. No hint of arousal. No chemistry. NOTHING! She was just a nice lady. Motherly looking, almost.

Jim recoiled. Don't go there, Ellison.


When he got into bed that night, he regretfully switched on the white noise generator. It just wasn't right, he thought with a sigh.

No one will ever know.

Jim recognized the source of that reasoning and refused to let IT talk him into anything.

Sara was one of the most exciting sexual encounters he'd ever had... and she would never know it.


Downstairs, Sara trudged in around midnight. Between college classes and working as a hostess in the huge restaurant, she was dead tired.

Quickly showering, she put on her oldest nightie and robe and thought about going to bed.

No. Tonight it was pretty bad. Tonight she needed relief.

People with fallen arches should never work on concrete floors. She switched on the foot massager and sighed with pleasure as it sent waves of indescribable relief through her aching feet.

Mr. Sandburg was right. These things were a godsend.


Three months later...

Blair led Sara onto the dance floor and they moved together to the slow Latin beat. "You are a great dancer, Sara."

"Now that I have a desk job, I can boogie with the best of them." Sara laughed as she let the handsome young man whirl her expertly across the floor. "I don't even need my foot massager anymore."

"No more sore feet?" Blair had suggested the device after hearing Sara complain about working on concrete. He remembered Naomi's stint as a waitress, and how much the massager helped her.

"Bernie gives a wonderful foot massage." Sara winked playfully at Blair. "It's part of why I'm marrying him."

Blair was still chuckling as the music ended.


Jim watched as Sara danced with his guide. Blair and the lady downstairs had become close friends. Blair -- as usual -- had become an instant confidant, confessor, and all-round best buddy.

From him, Jim knew that the middle aged woman had walked away from an abusive marriage with almost nothing, was studying law, and had a brand new job working for Bernard Kleinman. She was also newly engaged to Attorney Kleinman, who was sitting across the table from Jim.

"You know, Jim. I realize you've been keeping an eye on my Sara."

Jim almost fell out of his chair. "What? Uh, I haven't been... I mean..."

"Jim." The stocky man looked perplexed. "Sara told me how you and Blair ran off that jerk of an ex-husband of hers."

"Oh. We just pointed out that Sara had friends who would look out for her." Jim was as nervous as a cat. He took a sip of his wine to cover.

"It meant a lot to her." The older man smiled gratefully. "I think you and Blair are as close to brothers as Sara has."

Jim's wine tried to leave his mouth via his nose. "Blair! I mean, Blair's the one who sort of adopted her. I'm sorry I didn't get to know her better... I mean as a friend."

Bernard nodded and looked puzzled as he tucked into his desert.

Jim shook himself. I have got to stop acting like a nut. So she has a killer voice. The auditory equivalent of pheromones. So what. She was moving out of the building. Marrying a well-to-do lawyer. Happy endings all around.

The loud (to Jim) music stopped and he automatically zeroed in on his guide's voice.

"I'm glad my suggestion worked," the young man said. "I remember Naomi swore by hers."

"Hard to think that a little electric gizmo could offer so much relief," the woman giggled that amazing little giggle of hers.

They couldn't be talking about...? Jim frowned and took another sip of wine.

"It was during a long, rough patch in the late seventies, we were on our own, and Naomi was working two jobs." Blair shook his head at the memory. "She'd come home so tired and depressed, that I'd have it already plugged in and running for her."

Horrified, Jim almost took a bite out of his glass.

He would arrest her. Next time he saw Naomi, he would find some reason to arrest her. It was abuse. It was immoral. It was... creepy.

"I guess I can retire mine, now that I have Bernie. The man has the hands of a virtuoso." Sara gave Blair a teasing nudge. "You can have it if you want."

Jim's jaw dropped. Damn! I know he's more comfortable around women than most men, but this is just weird.

Blair rolled his eyes and shook his head. "Nah. If I get that bad off, I'll get Jim to take care of it. 'Probably be his fault anyway."

What the HELL?

When the jovial duo returned from the dance floor, Jim stood up so fast he almost upset the table. "Chief? What are you talking about me taking care of?" He could barely talk through the clenched teeth.

"Nothing." Blair looked embarrassed, but grinned at Jim's expression. "Feet. OK?"

Jim made a very rude snorting noise. "Less than yards, more than inches?"

Totally mystified, Bernie and Sara looked at each other, then at the two men. Sara finally broke the silence at the table. "Sore feet, as in fallen arches? I offered Blair my old vibrating foot massager."

"What?" Jim wondered if he was hearing right.

"And I was about to tell her the only reason my feet would be sore, was if you dragged me on one of those forty mile death marches you jokingly call camping trips," Blair said sarcastically, taking a breath and adding, "Either that or you run me ragged doing all your errands."

Their words slowly sank in, and Jim asked, "Foot massager? Vibrating foot massager?"

"Yeah, Mr. White Socks. It's you who are always blathering about foot care. You know 'Happy feet, healthy feet, keep them dry, keep them neat.' All that Army stuff."

"Blair recommended the massager and it was a life saver." Sara patted the young man's hand.

"Blair recommended..." laughter rumbled deep inside Jim's chest. "Foot ma... ma... saaaggger. Hap... happy feet?"

"Jim? Are you all right?" Bernie sounded concerned.

"My feet really did hurt," Sara said earnestly. "That restaurant I worked in made us wear heels."

Jim used every ounce of the discipline and control he had acquired over the years to stop laughing. Straighten up and fly right! He berated himself, as he sat upright and squared his shoulders.

"How much wine have you had?" Blair picked up his partner's glass and sniffed it.

Jim clenched his jaw so tight it hurt. It didn't help. The laugh escaped through his nose as a honking noise, "MMNMNMNMNMNMN!" Sara's eyes got wide and started to giggle. That was too much; Jim had to start laughing. His bones felt like they were melting and he grabbed the arms of the chair to keep from sliding under the table.

People are looking at you. Jim tried to stop and failed again.

Bernard couldn't resist the infectious giggle of the woman he loved and started to chuckle.

Blair looked around the table and frowned. "What's so freakin' funny?"

Jim looked at his friend through tear filled eyes. Poor Blair would never know what was so funny.

No one would.

And that struck him as funny too.

The Climax... ah... End.


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