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Copyright PennameWombat November 2018
The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
This is a work of fiction. The events described here are imaginary; the settings and characters are fictitious and are not intended to represent specific places or living persons.
It had been a rough morning with the tag-team presentations from the lab rats. I think it had two causes. First, most of these folks were somewhere on the genius scale when it came to writing their software, but when you put them in front of living people they didn’t always carry that same competence across. But the second one was probably Major General Miller being in the room, in full uniform with his two big silver stars and to these guys at the lab before today just a name on some org charts. These briefings were for his egghead professor civilian advisers but he’d made a last-minute decision to attend today. I’d given the local lead project manager Evelyn the expected eggheads attending and she’d prepped the folks here but she hadn’t had time to warn them about Gen. Miller including himself.
Oh well. At least most of the technical questions the professors had were getting answered despite stammers and bad grammar. I knew Gen. Miller himself had a BS in physics which probably explained why he owned this project. But his rare questions had gone more to timing and delivery. He was a solidly built man with a voice used to giving orders which he expected to be obeyed. A stereotype but he used it I’d found.
Evelyn came up to me as I was getting the group settled back in the conference room after lunch. She was very attractive with tightly curled medium brown hair but way, way, thin, with almost no bust or hips. But she was one of the best project managers I’d run into and she had a sixth sense about issues here in the lab which were nothing serious and the seemingly trivial ones that might indicate real problems. She’d talked me off of a ledge more than once.
“Jo,” she said, “Paul’s on the way. After lunch? Give him the hard slot.”
“Of course,” I said with a momentary obsession on her use of the word ‘hard,’ “he’s the one I want the most, knows his stuff but is also usually really engaging with these guys.”
She seemed to hesitate for a split second, a ghost of a smile on her face as if in some inner thought.
“Ok,” she said, “I’ll bring the Director around 3:00 or so, let me know if you need anything.”
“Thanks. We’ll hope things go smoother.”
I noticed Paul coming in and acknowledging Evelyn as they passed just outside the doorway. He caught my eye and I smiled and nodded for him to come in. I’d spent a fair amount of time with him as one of the technical team leads and he seemed to have one of the biggest pieces of software to write. But he also had a knack for talking to a salesperson like me and to a roomful of professors and the like. He was a shade under six feet tall and past discussions during some of our small talk he mentioned playing a few different sports so he was quite fit. I also knew he was married, which affected me more than I tried to let show. Then again, so was I. And he was a younger man! Well, all of six months or so younger. He’d actually dressed up, which for him meant clean denim jeans and an honest for real button down shirt. Untucked though. He’d go only so far.
He nodded to the folks as I walked up to the front to introduce him. He broke into a smile as he caught my eye and I returned the gesture as he hooked up his laptop to the projector and then prepped his presentation.
“This is Paul Jones, I’ll just let him take it from here since I think most of you know him,” I said to nods from the professors, “General Mitchell is the Air Force lead.”
“The man who signs the checks. General,” said Paul, “you’re my first general.”
“Oh?” He replied with a slightly confused look.
“I was a civilian at Hill Air Force Base a dozen years ago, ’82, it was my first ‘real’ job after my BS degree,” Paul said, “the ops folks killed a system disk. It was summer so all of the senior folks were gone. I had the short straw of being the ‘assistant assistant admin’ although I was primarily a database person on MDAS.”
I saw the general actually had a bit of a smile. A first.
“Turned out we had all of the user data but the backup tapes for the system disk were corrupted. Which meant I had to reinstall the OS base and tools, then all of the patches, then rebuild directories and the like. All I was told was a full bird Colonel was steaming somewhere.”
“That would’ve been Col. Jorgensen,” said the general, “Ken, good friend of mine. I was at Minot at the time and heard about it the next day.”
“Ah, good things I hope,” replied Paul, “I managed to avoid the winter trips to lovely Minot.”
That got a bigger smile. “Yes, they had a betting pool how many files they’d lose, system up by lunch with nothing lost no one had put money on. So they gaziantep escort pushed. That was you. Good.”
“Indeed. Now, I gave Joanne,” he nodded and had a seemingly shy smile at me, “the presentation to pass onto you which has dates and crap but lets do this over here. I mean, we all know the dates so I’m not gonna repeat them and you’ve likely seen them today a few times.”
Rueful smiles all around,.
He went to the whiteboard and get the group into an interactive discussion feeding the professors what the new code would let them do.
As to General Mitchell, he was asking questions about the big simulations and this was the first time he appeared checked in. I was even more pleased I had Paul last. Well, the lab director would have a few minutes with them then I could put them in their limos and send them to the airport for their flights.
I don’t know if Paul used the public speaking trick of imagining your audience naked but I was imagining the speaker naked. I could feel my heart rate climbing and caught myself pressing my thighs together. Shit. I suddenly felt flushed and hoped no one noticed if my pale skin was going red. I leaned forward a bit so my loose hair fell around my cheeks and hoped anyone looking would just see the strawberry blonde colour of that.
I noticed Paul giving me a quick but broad smile, while everyone else was looking at him and the board. Then I flushed as I looked down at my chest.
I’d worn my cream pantsuit that day because I knew that it made men want to stare at my butt. It also let me wear but hide my biggest heels making me taller then the professors and almost eye to eye with General Mitchell. It had a sheer cream blouse layered over a matching sleeveless scoop neck top. Pairing that with the right bra like today meant that despite impressions all that really showed was just a bit of cleavage from my full breasts and my toned arms.
It allowed me to keep my all male egghead charges just slightly off balance without seeming extreme or obvious. But just then I noticed my lean combined with my shoulders hunched a bit provided someone standing at the front of the room with a much more expansive view of cleavage.
I tried to rise slowly and sit back in the chair, crossing my legs. Paul’s smile was still there and somehow he’d not lost a beat.
A knock on the door and Evelyn opened it and put her head in.
“Still going?” She asked, “Ready for us?”
“Any more questions,” Paul said quickly, “can always get me on a call. Or email.”
“Or we’ll get you to D.C.,” rumbled the general.
Shit. I did not want anyone dragging Paul out of the lab! Especially not into the hell of D.C. At least not until we delivered. Then… more thoughts I didn’t need right now.
“Thanks, Paul, great job,” I managed, “Evelyn, we’re ready.”
She brought the lab director in as Paul grabbed his laptop, shook the general’s hand and nodded to the rest us. I bit my lower lip just a bit as I watched his cute butt leave.
After I put my professors in their limo for the hour drive to the airport and the general’s driver took him away to wherever he was going next Evelyn and I had our debriefing. We decided it should be with a glass of wine at a local happy hour.
“Tell the director and everyone else to not let any of those guys call Paul,” I told her, “he saved the day and I don’t want him stretched any thinner.”
“He’s a good one,” agreed Evelyn, “I’ll try to keep them away.” But she had a hooded look I couldn’t quite read.
“What’s up?” I was suddenly worried.
“Oh, well, him, his wife, something with her and well, someone else here in the building…”
“What? That little brunette? You pointed her out to me once, her?”
Evelyn nodded. The woman being discussed was “geek girl” cute, straight brown hair, not much makeup, only mildly stylish clothes, but she was better put together then any number of the other female lab rats.
I had no idea how you could have your spouse in the same building, especially if it went bad, but I’d always lived and worked in D.C. and the surrounding areas. The Company liked to stick its engineering labs in out of the way places which was great for many things but it certainly lacked in offering the employees easy pickings for mates outside of work. Through Evelyn I knew of a fair number of other employees across the site paired likewise, including her hinted at S&M focused relationship. Having worked with her I had little doubt she was in charge however it was set up.
I just sighed. Unfortunately I knew very well the feelings Paul might be having if it was true. I hoped Evelyn was wrong but everything she had told me was going on around here, business or personal, had always checked out. Whatever it might be I didn’t want it to derail the project. Then I felt bad that was my first thought and not what it might do to someone who was also something of a friend as well as a coworker. At least. Well, deal with what happens when it happens.
After a second glass of wine to try and loosen my stress I went back to the drab office they had for me when I visited the lab. The drab part wasn’t any kind of disrespect as every office was drab. But it was second class in one respect. The outer walls were all windows but no one had ‘window envy’ as the outer perimeter of the building was only hallway. No offices had windows but you were supposed to be able to step out of your office and by immediately looking left or right see a window.
My office, you needed to exit, turn left or right, walk to an intersection, then see a window.
I took advantage of the multi-hour time difference to talk to the team on the ground at the lab a few time zones earlier in the day prepping the data centre for the supercomputer software they were writing here. They were just starting the work for the hundreds of systems which would take some time before the crew here, hopefully, finished the software. Paul’s session had cheered me up but Evelyn’s comment had me in a bit of a funk. Which led me to think of my husband. Maybe he and Paul’s wife could trade notes. Hell, introduce them and cut out the middlemen.
I decided I needed to get out of my box and go for a walk. Then go back to the hotel. I went to see if I could get some tea at the cafeteria, because of the operations and test groups in the building next door it stayed partially open until 9 or so.
I was just walking in when I saw what I thought was a familiar gait. It was Paul. But wearing denim shorts and a t-shirt. He really did have excellent legs and quite the butt.
“Hey,” I said to get his attention, he turned.
“Oh, hi. What’re you doing here so late?”
“I sent my charges to the airport, I’m here tomorrow for discussions with Evelyn and her team about support. I was doing some phone calls. Why are you here? Thought you’d celebrate after your day today.”
He was filling a cardboard cup with coffee.
“I promised a major general to his face, so someone has to go finish the code to actually do it. I went out and played Ultimate so I apologise if I smell a bit ripe. I changed clothes but no showers here. Now to go do some work.”
He put his hand lightly on my shoulder, “And if I don’t no one will!”
I wanted him to keep his hand there and I gave him my best sales smile, but he removed it and used it to put a lid on his coffee. Indeed, he did have a musk but I didn’t find it annoying. Quite the opposite to be honest.
“Did you know about his connection at the bases?”
Paul shook his head at that, “not a clue. Knowing he was Air Force though I figured it was a good ice breaker. That he knew the story and that it wasn’t bull was just icing on the cake.”
“That in spades. He just got his second star and this project being a big success is his first step to the third one I know he wants before he has to retire.”
“You really know how to relax your folks. You haven’t told anyone else that? Don’t.”
“Oh, okay. Anyway, my treat,” I said, “let me get a tea.”
“My second reward,” he said with a chuckle, “better than nothing.”
We didn’t say much as he accompanied me back to my office, I knew his was at the far end of the building where most of the programmers sat. I unlocked my door and set my tea on the table just inside. He’d mentioned sleeping in his office on rare occasions when he’d told me in the past he liked to work late but we’d not discussed that during this visit and I didn’t know he’d be here tonight and that was not why I came back in. At least I wasn’t admitting that. I mean, it’s not like I could’ve done my phone calls from my hotel room like I’d done hundreds of times before.
Then I turned and without really thinking wrapped my arms around him. We were about the same height with my heels and I put my chin on his shoulder.
“Thank you,” I said softly, “you saved my ass in there today.”
He had his coffee in one hand but the other he put between my shoulder blades.
“It’s too cute not to save. But, all our asses,” he said quietly back to me, “big deal all around. Um, sorry if I smell a bit.”
I took a deep, slow breath, intentionally louder than necessary. Then I kissed his neck, a taste of salt. I also felt pressure on my groin where I was in contact with his. I was impressed. He either reacted to me immediately or, he was ready before. I pushed myself in just to verify what I was feeling. He didn’t back off.
“Whatever lets you do what you need to do,” I said quietly into his ear.
Then I released him as he released me and I stood a quarter turn with my left arm still around his waist.
“I should let you go, you did tell me once you like working now. Why?”
“This is my fun time, I spend the days keeping my favourite salesperson happy,” he said as he caressed my back momentarily, “and making sure my team is making progress. This is when I do my own work.”
We slowly released each other.
“What about your wife? She miss you?” I didn’t want to ask but curiosity killed the cat.
He just shrugged with a clouded expression and fought a frown. Then he brightened up.
“Well,” he said as we finally fully disentangled, “stop by and say goodnight on your way out. I’ll be here.”
I watched him walk away and turn right. I stepped into my office, I knew I should just get my stuff together and go to the hotel. Instead, I pushed the door closed quietly.
I had my laptop and stuff in the little case I rolled behind me and my purse over my shoulder. I was wearing the blazer for the pantsuit although I hadn’t needed it all day. I was counting the aisles along the perimeter, just before aisle eleven I heard soft voices, sounded like a man and a woman. I was glad I had my blazer on as I walked past and glanced that way. Indeed, the two people were about 4 doors in, the man standing in the hall and the woman in the doorway. I knew them both as locals by sight but they didn’t seem to recognise me, they simply nodded and I nodded back and kept walking. I heard their conversation restart but couldn’t really get words as I moved farther away. Twelve, thirteen, all closed doors it seemed, then aisle fourteen. I saw one open door three doors in. I knew most folks had shared offices but Paul and some other more senior developers had private, drab, grey boxes.
I took a deep breath and turned into the aisle. I got to the doorway and looked in. I saw Paul two thirds turned away from me, staring at that huge strange orange screen workstation he had. It was a single pane of glass but showed four windows, each of which seemed to be scrolling text independently. He also had a more traditional monitor in front of him, but he was for now ignoring it although he had one hand on each keyboard. All of the offices had two switches but no one ever turned both sets of overhead lights on and Paul’s office either had burned out bulbs or he’d disconnected some as only a single overhead fluorescent bulb near the door left him in a computer-generated glow at the far end.
“Hey,” he said without turning, “come on in, this’ll just be a minute…”
He trailed off, I stepped in and rolled my bag against the wall, then set my purse on the desk and shrugged off the blazer and set it across the purse.
“Yes,” he said, “looks good, wanna see? Come on.”
He still hadn’t turned toward me, I grabbed the extra chair that wasn’t holding what must have been his gym bag and pulled it over so I could sit next to him. I put my hands on his upper arms and my head next to his, my chin again resting on his shoulder.
“What is that?” I asked.
“Represents two hundred machines running our code,” he said, “biggest test yet.”
I took his word for it. It was all text scrolling rapidly but his eyes seemed to be able to follow it all. I watched one, two, then all four screens stop scrolling. I felt his arms relax under me and he leaned back into his chair. I pulled back slightly to let him turn toward me and slid my leg so it was in contact with his.
“So, good news?”
“Yup. Lots to do but this was good. Really good,” then he pointed to his regular monitor, not the orange monstrosity, “next batch of code there to add in and hopefully not hose anything.”
“Looks like gibberish to me,” I said quietly, his right hand was on the armrest of his chair just above our legs, no armrest on my chair to get in the way, “but that’s why I’m the saleslady and you’re the code monkey.”
He knew I meant no insult but to ensure he knew I kissed his neck once, pulled back, then kissed it softly from the curve of his shoulder up, tasting anew the salt on his skin from his earlier exercise. I was really liking that taste tonight.
I felt his hand tentatively then solidly press onto my cloth-covered left thigh just above my knee, I pushed that leg harder into his right to assure him I didn’t mind. I began to wrap my arms around his chest as I nibbled his ear then his cheek. He leaned back in his chair to give access and I felt his hand working its way to my inner thigh and rising. I pushed my right leg slightly outwards to open a path to where I wanted him.
“Mayhaps you should close the door, might be some folks in aisle ten or eleven, integration team,” he said very quietly as he arched his neck to allow me access and I lidded my eyes slightly in dawning recognition, “but likely they’re gone by now or will be very soon unless something really shit the bed. And if so they’d have almost certainly already hunted me down…”
I don’t think he saw my smile but may have felt my heart rate tick up. I kissed his neck one more time.
“You sure?” I whispered into his ear. I wasn’t sure if that was truly the point of no return but I also knew I had a surprise I didn’t think he was aware of yet, his concentration had been so fierce when I arrived.
“This code’s not going anywhere for a while,” he said in the same tone.
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