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Piper was stuck and panicking for a way out. It was just her luck that something so ridiculous would happen. How in the hell did one get their clothes jammed into an escalator, anyway? Opting to wear a long, flowy beach skirt instead of shorts was how it happened.
But right now, that didn’t matter; escaping this mess was the top priority. If a solution didn’t reveal itself by the time she got to the bottom. Her skirt was going to be yanked off of her body, taking her pride with it.
Crossing her purse strap over her chest, Piper tugged at the skirt for the fifth time in an attempt to work it loose.
Still, it didn’t budge. Looking around nervously, she spotted a guy stepping onto the escalator. Mentally calculating his distance, he must have been approximately seven steps behind her.
The escalator was long. Maybe close to 50 or so of those metallic death traps called stairs. The long-range from top to bottom should be good news, but the reality was, there could be 1000 stairs, and still, the end would come too soon.
Thinking fast, she waved at the guy. He looked at her and pointed to himself.
Nodding frantically, Piper motioned for him to come down. Hurrying towards her, he immediately saw the predicament.
“Can you help me pull it loose?”
The guy yanked at the base of the floral garment while Piper pulled from higher up; however, it remained locked in place.
“Shit! It’s stuck in there, good.“
“I know,” Piper said, glancing around at just how big of a crowd she was about to flash. There weren’t many people, and thankfully, she had worn cute underwear. At least some of the advice her Aunt gave her had stuck.
Then with horror, she realized that wasn’t true. She was on her period, which meant underneath this skirt wasn’t sexy lace but underwear that resembled something a grandmother would wear.
They were big, white, saggy, and sported a hole on the side that made her appear like she was unkempt and unloved, when in truth, they were the most comfortable pair of underwear she owned.
“Okay, I have an idea,” he said.
Piper felt her hopes rise. She would be on board with just about anything at this point.
The guy removed his book bag and then his jacket. Tossing his book bag back onto one shoulder, he held out his jacket to her.
“Put my jacket around your waist and zip it up. Then, remove your skirt before it gets ripped off.”
The plan sounded pretty solid. The bottom wasn’t far away, and there was no time to waste coming up with an alternative. Moving faster than she thought possible, Piper pulled the jacket around her waist, zipped it, then tied the sleeves, securing a knot in front of her.
Unfastening the skirt, it slunk down around her ankles, and she began stepping out of it. Piper barely managed to remove one foot before the stairs flattened and tugged the skirt with a powerful force, causing her to trip.
At the last second, the guy lifted her, pulling her entangled foot free and her mind out of panic mode. He steadied her, and still holding onto his arms, Piper spared a glance back at the escalator. The skirt had been ripped clean through, with a small piece being set free as the rest of the thin floral fabric was taken underneath the mechanical stairs. This was all so embarrassing.
Picking up a small piece that managed to escape, Piper sighed. That was one of her favorite skirts. Shoving what was left into her purse, Piper turned to face the kind stranger.
He was surprisingly cute. Tall, slim with boyish good looks.
“Thank you. I’m Piper Fosters,” she said, offering her hand.
He gave her a smile that made her weak at the knees. He possessed intense dark eyes that somehow made her feel wanted and admired.
Piper broke eye contact first. Spending all day staring at this attractive man would have been fun, but she had to get to Jake, the four-year-old that she babysat once a week.
“There’s a souvenir shop over there.”
“You can keep the jacket.”
They both blurted out at the same time.
“I’m sorry, beautiful, what were you saying?”
Beautiful, huh? She thought.
She liked where this was going. Scott was attracted to her, and the feeling was most definitely mutual.
Piper licked her lips flirtatiously.
“I was saying that there is a souvenir shop over there. I might be able to find some leggings and give you back your jacket.”
“Alright, lead the way.”
Taking her first step, Piper stopped as realization set in. Adjustments to her usual stride would be necessary since walking in a zipped-up jacket was more restrictive than a dress or jeans. Taking smaller steps to account for the limitation, Piper swiftly found her rhythm and prayed she didn’t look like a penguin scurrying along.
“So, Piper, what brings you to the Atlanta Airport?”
“I live here. I’m returning from a mini beach vacation in Miami. Hence, the floral skirt that the escalator just ate.”
It was mostly the truth and the only part of her trip she was willing to share.
“Yikes, what a way to return from vacation, huh? Minding your own business, and then the escalator takes your clothes.”
“I wear less at my night job.”
“And what exactly is your night job?”
“I’m a retired stripper.”
Scott’s eyebrows shot up as he stopped to look at Piper.
“I know what you’re thinking. The word retired makes me sound so old, but I swear I’m only 26.”
He laughed, picking up on her sense of humor.
“I’m 30, and that’s not exactly what I was thinking. But seriously, you used to strip for a living?”
“Technically, I still do it. I’m finishing up several more shows before I officially cease flaunting my birthday suit for cash. But during the day, I’m an administrative assistant for a veterinary clinic.”
“Very interesting. I’ll bet you look good on stage.”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” she said with a wink.
The look in his eyes gave her the confirmation she expected. Of course, he would like to see her on stage; he had a pulse. His desire didn’t bother her as long as he brought his wallet. Stripping was a job where the employees favorited cash bonuses just like any other.
People were often surprised by how open she was about being a stripper. Sure, in a job interview leading with that information was frowned upon, but in unprofessional settings, hiding what she did for a living wasn’t her style.
Stripping wasn’t some dirty little secret that produced feelings of shame. Piper enjoyed her time on the stage, and contrary to what people thought, she wasn’t an easy lay or an airhead.
For the most part, she had raised herself and learned a lot about life, love, and relationships in the process. Even though she had made some poor choices in men, Piper’s list of sex partners could be counted on one hand.
“Anyway, Scott. Thanks for saving me. I don’t expect people at the airport would have tipped very well for the show.”
“I love how down-to-earth you seem. Most women I meet don’t have a sense of humor.”
“Maybe you’ve been meeting the wrong women?”
“Maybe I have,” Scott agreed.
Piper knew for a fact that she’d been dating the wrong men. Her past relationships were made up of constant arguing, breaking up only to get back together, or simply doing off-the-wall things to make the other jealous. It was not only childish but exhausting.
“You never told me what had you flying in today?” Piper asked, continuing to measure her steps. Walking at this slow pace was so annoying, but it did give her time with Scott, so the trade-off was fair.
“I am a computer technician and work for a company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Although I live in Atlanta, I’m only here one week out of the month because of my schedule.”
“That sounds like fun. Because I love traveling, I mean.”
“Some days it is, other days not so much. Hard to catch your footing when you do a lot of moving around.”
“I imagine so.”
They finally arrived in front of the Souvenir Shop, and Piper shuffled her way in. The girl behind the counter gave them an odd look before speaking.
“Welcome to Remembered Souvenirs. Can I help you find anything?”
“Do you have any leggings?”
“Yes, over to the left near the sweatshirts.”
Piper was so relieved she almost jumped for joy. She and Scott walked over to the limited supply of clothes. It was next to a shelf of pens, mugs, and ‘I love Atlanta’ picture frames.
There were only three choices. One was all black, another was blue, and the last one had the Atlanta Falcons logo plastered all over it. Picking up the one biased to the home football team Scott offered it to her.
“You should get these.”
Piper made a face.
“Why not? Don’t you love your Falcons?”
“I’m not into sports, actually.”
“Blasphemy!” Scott said, feigning shock. “Who doesn’t like sports?”
Piper picked up the black pair instead.
“But I’d love to see you in them,” Scott said.
Smiling, she asked, “Who says you’ll see me in them? I may take my leggings and mysteriously disappear.”
“Don’t be that way. A guy can hope to see a beautiful girl in leggings that represent his favorite sport can’t he?”
“He can, but I like the black leggings better.”
She turned towards the register and felt a gentle hand on her shoulder.
“Please. I bet you’d look so sexy in them, and I’ll even pay for it,” he said, offering the leggings again.
She faced him. He had such a charming way about him and soulful eyes.
“I don’t need you to pay for it. You already saved me from public nudity. You’ve done enough.”
“Think of it as a gift from a friend.”
“Oh, so we’re friends now?” Piper asked, biting her lip.
“For now. Eventually, we could be more.”
There was that smile again. So damn sexy she could feel it in her toes. It made her want to cancel her babysitting plans and huddle up in a corner with him like a schoolgirl skipping class. Piper considered his request. One thing was for sure, Scott Bolden made it difficult for a girl to say no.
The problem was, Piper wasn’t good at accepting help from others, specifically monetary assistance. Borrowing money or getting gifts at random always made her feel strange, even when she was a little girl. The no-strings-attached gesture always seemed to resurface with so many strings Piper felt like a puppet.
“I’ll tell you what, as a way to thank you for helping me, I’ll get the ones you like, but I’ll pay for them myself.”
Placing the black ones back on the shelf and taking the other from his hand, she headed to the register. After making the purchase and changing into the leggings, he walked her to baggage claim, where she located her small, pink, and black rolling suitcase.
“Don’t you have baggage to claim?” Piper asked.
He adjusted the black book bag with blue letters on his shoulder.
“Nope, this is it. Since I practically live here and there, I don’t need to bring much coming or going.”
“Oh, that makes sense.”
They watched each other for a moment longer, and then Piper extended her hand.
“I guess this is where we say goodbye.”
He took her hand and kissed it. Piper felt warm all over.
“This could be where we say goodbye unless . . . ” his lips quirked up into a grin.
Scott nodded in the direction of the little newsstand store with three sets of tables and chairs located on the outside.
“Would you have coffee with me?”
Piper looked down at her watch and begin to shake her head.
Noticing her about to object, he added, “Just for a few minutes.”
She pulled her cell from her purse to check the time and noticed several missed calls and texts. They were likely from her best friend wanting to make sure Piper had safely landed. According to the time, it would be cutting it close, but she could spare ten more minutes before leaving was a must.
“Coffee sounds nice.”
Scott ordered a coffee with no cream or sugar, and Piper settled for a bottle of water. They chose one of the three vacant tables, and Piper quickly sent off a text to her friend, confirming that aliens hadn’t captured her . . . this time, and then looked up at Scott.
“That has to be gross. No sugar or cream. Who does that?”
“Crazy people, maybe?” he answered with a sly grin.
“I can believe that.”
He took a sip and then leaned back into his chair.
“Are you single?”
“Yes, what about you?” she asked, suspecting he was.
“I am. Honestly, I haven’t dated in a while.”
He looked down and was quiet so long she thought he wasn’t going to answer the question.
“My wife died a year ago. Now it’s just my little guy, Ryan and I.”
“That’s horrible. I am so very sorry. What happened, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“A car accident.”
Piper touched her chest, and then before she knew it, his hand, offering comfort at his unfortunate loss.
He looked up with a pitying smile.
“I don’t like to talk about it, especially since Ryan was only a month old when it happened. Now, he’s thirteen months and never got the chance to know his mother.”
Speaking about death was all too familiar for Piper in that instance. It was the other part of the reason, or rather the main reason a trip to Miami was necessary at all. Her Aunt Delores, who had practically raised her, or tried to when Piper wasn’t being a stubborn teenager, was dying. Her aunt had severe diabetes that was affecting her health at an alarming rate.
“I understand more than you know,” Piper commented quietly.
“Yeah, it’s rough, but I make it through. The saddest part is work keeps me so busy. I had to hire a nanny to take care of Ryan when I’m not there.”
The sincerity and guilt in his eyes caused her to feel deep pangs of sadness on his account.
“But I’m sure you’re doing the best you can.”
He nodded his agreement.
“It also helps that Simone, she’s my live-in nanny, is great with Ryan.”
“Oh wow, a live-in nanny. Is that expensive?”
“It could be, but Simone is in college studying to be a nurse. She gets free room and board for the three weeks while I’m working, and then the week I’m home, she stays with family or something while I spend time with Ryan. I also pay her a small amount for the help out.”
“You’ve got a good thing going there.”
“I miss Ryan like crazy, but it works out. Between Simone and daycare, I don’t think he notices I’m gone. He has a pretty busy schedule.”
Scott’s phone rang, and he spared a glance at it before silencing it.
“Sorry, it’s work. They call a lot.”
She gestured to the black bookbag, propped up next to his chair. The words ‘Lancer Communications’ were printed diagonally in bold, blue square letters.
“Is that the company you work for?”
He looked down at the bag.
“That’s them. I work all these odd hours setting up and making computer repairs at all their different locations. A lot of days, I may start at 6 am and not finish until 2 am.”
“You are busy.”
“I have a lot of bills. Handling everything alone is expensive, but it’s worth it. I work non-stop for three weeks, and then I get a full week off.” He shrugged. “Fair enough.”
“How long have you worked for them?”
“Lets’ see, I’ve worked for the company for five years, but this traveling position I only recently started.”
“Why don’t you simply relocate there? I mean so you wouldn’t have to move around so much.”
“Ryan mostly. My late wife, Julia’s parents, are still alive, and I wouldn’t want to take Ryan away from them.”
Piper nodded in understanding.
“Of course, doing what’s right for your son.”
She already admired his dedication as a father. If possible, it made him that much more attractive to her.
“What about your family?”
“I’m an only child, and my parents died some time ago.”
He looked away, uninterested in speaking any further on that topic Piper sensed. She decided to change the subject.
“I assume you have a place in Milwaukee?”
“Barely. I rent an apartment so small the kitchen and bathroom practically share a space. Management keeps telling me that in the next year, a position should open up in Georgia, and my days of traveling for work will be over.”
He silenced his ringing cell again.
“Anyway, enough about me, tell me more about your job, or shall I say jobs?”
“Alright, the stripping I’ve done for four years now. A year and a half into it, I decided I wanted a college degree, so I continued to work at the club while I went to school. I graduated last year, and eight months ago, I got a job at a veterinary clinic. I work there Monday through Friday during the day, and I strip on the weekends.”
“Whoa. You have a full plate, and also, congratulations.”
“Thank you,” she said, being reminded of how proud she was of herself.
“You said you’re going to stop stripping. When is that?”
“In three weeks, I’ll be done.”
“I guess I better get by there fast?”
“That would be wise. I work at the Golden Bar.”
Piper rechecked the time. The ten minutes were up.
She stood and collected her things.
“Gotta go, Scott.”
“Wait,” he said, standing as well. “I’d like to see you again. Can I at least have your number?”
Piper walked over and kissed him on the cheek.
“If you want me. You know where to find me,” she said before walking away.
“Where in the hell have you been? I needed to know you landed safely. What if you got kidnapped?” Piper’s best friend, Alisha Stein, aka Lish, said a little too loud in her ear.
“Lish, if that happened, they’d return me because they would get tired of my phone ringing with calls from you.”
Piper got her suitcase out of her trunk and entered her apartment building, deciding first to check her mailbox since she hadn’t been home in four days.
“Don’t be sassy with me. You are the second sexiest woman on this earth. Somebody might want you all to themselves.”
“Duh, you know I’m the first.”
Piper laughed and did a quick flip through the envelopes addressed to her. Most were junk mail; the others were bills. Shoving the mail into her purse, she grabbed her suitcase and headed to the stairs. The elevator would have been easier, but she only lived on the second floor, and the luggage wasn’t heavy. Not to mention, cutting corners wouldn’t keep her body in shape.
“I’ll keep that in mind. Sorry I didn’t respond as soon as I landed. I intended to but got sidetracked.”
Piper could practically see Lish’s ears perk up at the word.
“To sum it up, I lost my skirt and met a guy.”
“Now this sounds popcorn worthy, and it makes up for you missing my calls. Please continue.”
“You know the beautiful floral skirt that I had to have when we went shopping last month?”
“It got caught in an escalator and practically ripped from my body.”
“Oh shit, you showed the goods to people roaming the airport? You naughty girl! I knew you weren’t ready to stop stripping.”
“Trust me, I am. Luckily for me, at the last second, a very handsome gentleman saved the day.”
“Please tell me that I’m invited to the wedding?”
Piper rolled her eyes and gave her friend the sarcastic answer she always did.
“Yes, Lish. You’re invited to the wedding, and I’ll make sure you get the bouquet.”
“That’s why I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
“By the way, how is Aunt Delores?”
“Not great, but hanging in there. She told me she was in a lot of pain. I mostly just sat with her and talked. I went to the beach once, but it wasn’t very enjoyable. Russell was glad I came down too.”
Russell was Piper’s cousin and her aunt’s only child.
“You know I’m there for you if you need anything, right?”
“Yes! You don’t have to keep telling me that. Let’s talk about something else, though. Are you going to work tonight?”
“I am indeed. People want to see pussy, and I want to see payments. Therefore, the cat lady and I will be front and center stage.”
Lish was 28 years old and loved being a stripper. She’d been “sliding down the pole”, as she called it, for seven years and told Piper she didn’t plan on quitting until either her pussy fell off or they put her out. She loved the money, the attention, and the adrenaline.
“Well, you and cat lady enjoy your night. I’m about to climb these stairs. Talk to you tomorrow, ok?”
She dropped the phone into her purse, picked up the suitcase, and started the climb to the second floor.
Piper lived in 2A, and overall, it was peaceful. The building itself was nice, and so were most of the residents. There were no significant issues, well, unless you counted those living in apartments 2B and 2C. Apartment 2D was currently vacant.
2B was a freaky couple named Lacy and Vince who had sex more than Piper thought humanly possible. If that wasn’t enough, they were into some of the most bizarre things she’d ever heard of. Nipple clamps that you plugged into outlets, chain outfits for men and women, and even flavored fruit baskets that you soaked your feet in for your partner to lick off.
Piper tuned in every chance she got to their strange sex sessions, which wasn’t hard to do because they could be heard going at it through her bedroom wall a lot of the time. To date, Piper hadn’t witnessed any of the gadgets being used firsthand, but between what she could hear and from what they told her during their short chats while picking up the mail, she got the gist. Every time they got hot and heavy, Piper promised herself that she wouldn’t listen in, but curiosity always won out.
As far as Leo went, the man in 2C, his only problem was that everyone in the building hated him, which was fair because he hated everyone.
Lugging her suitcase upstairs, Piper stopped twice to catch her breath.
“Damn it. I should have taken the elevator,” she said.
Continuing to ascend one slow step at a time, Piper finally arrived at the top. Straightening her back and placing the suitcase down on its wheels, she walked to her front door, unlocked it, and pushed the door open.
“Home sweet home,” she said aloud and then screamed in horror.
One response to “Love is Sweet”
I love it.. Can’t wait