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Tlc: Tranquility Logistics Corporation

Tlc: Tranquility Logistics Corporation

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Tlc: Tranquility Logistics Corporation

602 pagine
10 ore
Oct 28, 2010


TLC (Tranquility Logistics Corporation) is a story of overcoming obstacles. A small group of people working for NASA on the Lunar Colonization Project were looking at financial restrictions canceling their program. The story follows these people as they band together and try to find private funding. Finding a willing and beautiful colonist helps. Following them through trials and triumphs, delight and devastation in a sometimes shocking and often sexy tangle of their paths is sure to keep the pages turning. Follow them as they recruit new characters to their cause and their Idea grows exponentially causing a turn in the economy and sparking world interest. But keep in mind; this is space travel, the most dangerous job yet.
Oct 28, 2010

Informazioni sull'autore

N.S. David is in his third decade as a writer. This is his first offering in the genre of fiction novels. TLC (Tranquility Logistics Corporation) is his first in the TLC series. STRANDED, the second in the series, is projected for release in 2011.

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Tlc - N.S. David







































Leah Renee had known from the beginning that she would be selected for the mission. While there had been much speculation on her short petite frame, the fact of the matter was that she was strong and fit. She had always been athletic. She stayed fit through college. She even managed gym time after work before she went to night classes while working on her masters in alternative engineering. Her job as a junior engineer at her firm was much less challenging than she let on. This prevented her coworkers from being threatened, and allowed her time to go to school at night. She usually finished in a few hours what most thought she slaved over for long hours at night. She never took work home. She did often do assignments at work. Even so, everyone thought she was taking work home. It painted a pathetic but helpful picture. It was a balance that would have been unpleasant, if not for her gaze on the brass ring. And when she had heard about the selection she knew that this was meant for her. She had the right training, she was fit and best of all she was light. From the first announcement of the selection, there had been a smile on her face. Her coworkers were all glad she had found romance. They were sheep.

It was 2:00 on Friday afternoon. Tomorrow was the final day in the selection process. By Monday when she came in to give her two week’s notice, everyone in her building would realize how little they knew about her. She was not overly excited just content in the events about to play out. She caught herself daydreaming, something she never did. Oh, NO! John, her team lead, saw her staring into space. He had always been a good boss. He thanked her for exemplary work and praised her for work finished early, something she tried not to do too often. He was a kind man who looked out for his workers as best as he could without being intrusive or getting too friendly with a subordinate. She did not know him well. She didn’t know anyone here well, just enough for friendly brief chatter.


Yes John

He had a furrowed brow as he came into her office and shut the door uncomfortably behind him. Lee, you were daydreaming.

John, yes I…

No Lee let me talk. Leah’s heart began to rise to her throat Lee, you have been here almost five years. You have worked hard and what’s more, you have worked predictably hard.

John I’m sor…

Lee this is where you sit, hush and listen. Leah could feel her perfect record slipping away. You never complain and you always come through The more John talked, the lower her hopes sank. Lately you have been walking around here with an extra spring in your step. She knew the reprimand was next. I am glad to see your day dreaming.

WHAT?John’s eyes went wide and a few heads turned to see what was going on in her glass walled office What? a bit quieter and closer to Leah’s normal voice.

It is good to see you have something going on besides work. John said; I think you need a little healthy distraction and could use the rest of the day off. There was a slight pause before he spoke again. We have plenty of time before the Spokane project is due. Take a little time and start your weekend early.

It was true. All of what he said was true. She thought as she swiveled her chair back around to her desk. She pulled a large folder out of her top drawer; she had another two weeks to finish this project. She had finished it earlier this morning. ‘It’s all coming together,’ she thought to herself. Leah twirled back around and hopped to her feet holding the folder in both her out stretched hands like a proud child with a good report card. The Spokane project, finished!


Yes finished, I was just about to bring it to you. A little white lie. If you don’t mind, and if it won’t bother you in the least, I will take off.

John knew there were rumblings of him getting kicked upstairs. That’s why he gave this very important and profitable project to Lee. And that’s why he stepped up her deadline two weeks. Now he would spend the entire weekend proofing the designs, turn it in Monday morning a full month early. It would mean promotions for both, him off the floor and her in charge of it.

While John was standing there pondering his future, Leah had gathered her jacket and her briefcase, she mostly used it as a gym bag, and was about to leave, when she saw Johns blank expression as he stared at the folder in his hand. As she opened the door she tipped toed up and gave him a friendly peck on the cheek. This turned a few heads but did not faze him or his fixed stare. Thanks John and out the door she left, without locking it. She wasn’t leaving anything behind.

Leah took the stairs instead of the elevator, as usual. There was a definite spring to her step. She liked Fridays; she always indulged herself on Fridays. Today, she thought, I will skip the gym. She had a modest flat not too far from her office, the walk and the stairs was more exercise than most people get. She thought of the things she could do with her extra time, as her feet lead her habitually through the doors of the ‘up-town down stairs gym’. Today after all was Friday, light cardio, then two days off.

Showered with her wet hair in a ponytail, it was just a few blocks to her flat. She grabbed her mail, and started the walk up the five floors of stairs. She spotted a letter from the committee. She had expected it yesterday. It would tell her the time of the final round of interviews. She stopped mid-flight, 08:30 hrs. Perfect! She would be the first interview of the day. She took the rest of the stairs two at a time.

In her flat, she tried to stay busy, but it was only 3:30 in the afternoon. She wanted to call everyone, but that would be premature. Shopping? Why not? She normally did not like it, but whatever. Maybe today would be different. A new outfit was warranted and expected. She even opted for the more expensive Galleria shopping mall. In the kitchen for a bottle of flavored water and she noticed her answering machine blinking, Two messages:


Leah Renee.

Daddy she said out loud like the daddy’s girl she was.

You forgot your mother’s birthday,


That’s not like you.

A lot going on dad.

I covered for you while your mother was out. Make sure you call and ask her how she liked the flowers you sent, bye now sweetie.

Thanks dad.


Ms. Sharp, this is Dr. Frey with the selection board. We are sorry that letters went out late. You are scheduled for tomorrow at 8:30 in the morning, On Saturday the fourth. If you received your letter and this message too late, we will reset the meeting at your convenience. Please let us know if you received the letter or this message in time.

A quick callback and a baseball cap with her pony tail pulled through the back, and she was off to shop. She hardly ever used her car. She liked walking. Even in the hot muggy Texas summers she walked along the sidewalk in front of the condos on her way to the Galleria. She would often get an espresso on the way. Today she had time. Leah had already decided to eat an early dinner out. So there was no need for a trip to the grocery store. She liked shopping for dinner every night. She did not like the idea of shopping for the week and then being stuck with whatever meals sounded good one day for the next six. She liked fresh peppers and salsa. She liked fresh meat and seafood. She was now, hungry! Leah could always feel it when she skipped a meal or a snack. She ate five to six times a day. Well today was the day of indulgence. It was a bee-line to the mall STARBUCKS where she opted for a tall cappuccino, skinny and wet, and a piece of completely over the top fudge cheese cake. While she was waiting for her coffee, a nicely dressed and nicely built man ordered behind her. Grande cappuccino, skinny and wet. He paid then moved over behind her. He was about six inches taller than Leah, which put him about five feet nine inches. Well, a slight flirt could be good, it was her day of indulgence, and the day had been stellar so far. She turned slightly to see him checking out her backside, and why not, all those stairs did have an effect. Wait for it, wait... for... It... He realized something was up; he lifted his gaze to meet hers. Yes, she was smiling. Yes, he was caught. At least she was smiling, Say something you fool or lose the moment!

That is an absolutely gorgeous… cheesecake. He said the slight double entendre left in the open.

Not bad, she said with a slight chuckle.

From the looks of things, I would say somebody is celebrating something.

Well, he knows this body didn’t come without hard work, and he doesn’t rush in. Yes, but I couldn’t eat it all, grab a fork and help me celebrate?

Absolutely! They both turned to get their coffees, only to find both coffees ready and the young voyeuristic barista enjoying their moment. Leah maneuvered to one of those oh too small tables, and sat down. The seating was clearly not designed nor arranged for men to be in or move in comfort. All the better to see how well he handled himself under slight stress. He tried to sit down on the wrought iron chair, but there just wasn’t the room. He stood back up and rearranged the neighboring chair and table to give him room enough for comfort. It would have been easy for Leah to be condescending or to take advantage of the situation and claim the upper hand. Instead, she sat there looking up at him with a patient understanding look. When he finally maneuvered into his seat, he looked at her smiling face. There was a brief relaxed moment of silence, then she noticed a slightly painful grimace come over his face. He quickly half stood bent over the table his left hand holding his tie to his body, and extending his right hand. Sorry, I’m Tom.

Leah felt a slight warm melting feeling between her stomach and her backbone, a gentleman, nice. Leah and a gentle hand placement that let him know that she could be proper. There was something there and they lingered over the handshake while they looked into each other’s eyes. It was a perfect moment that communicated a mutual interest and attraction, it conveyed trust and patience. They both let out a light breath as they let the other’s fingers slide away. As Tom sat down and they both leaned in over the small table, as if they had been doing this together for years.

This is a huge desert. He said pulling a small piece away with his fork.

I almost never get any from here they are huge, and I hate to waste it.

So, Leah what is a beautiful woman doing in a mall celebrating in the early afternoon on a Friday?

A new job, that we will avoid talking about because I don’t want to jinx it. I need an outfit for an interview, so here I am, trying to make shopping, which I hate, an enjoyable experience.

I see, will you work locally?

No, I will be gone for a good bit, it involves lots of traveling. She didn’t want to go into detail, why ruin a good thing with too much information.

That must make dating kind of hard.

I have had very little time for that, and it would seem, I will have even less.

Well good, Tom said triumphantly.

I’m sorry?

That means I can be of great service to you. You can go shopping and buy an outfit, and then wear it out on a date with me. I can give you feedback on your choice, and you can have a nice relaxed meal with a charming conversationalist without stress because we will both be going our separate ways and just want to avoid eating alone.

DAMN HE’S GOOD! I am afraid that won’t be possible, unless….

Unless what? He knew he had her.

It would have to be a very early dinner.

Yes ma’am, for me too. You pick the time and I will pick the place.

Okay then dinner at six.

Very good, six o’clock at Remy’s. Do you know where it is?


Then get shopping, I have a few things I have to attend to first, and I will meet you there.

They both stood up to depart, when they looked down at the uneaten desert on the table, even his bite was still on his abandoned fork. Tom what a waste was all Leah could think to say.

Not really, I don’t even like chocolate. He said as he grabbed his coffee turned and walked away.

Leah stood at the table watching him disappear into the mall crowd. Oh I am in trouble with this one. As she made her way through the mall it hit her that she had truly been had, there is no way she could possibly wear the same outfit to both a dinner in a very nice restaurant and a business interview. The more she realized that she had been behind the learning curve on this matter, the more she was intrigued by this man. She was always at a disadvantage when it came to clothes shopping. It seems that the belief was that if you were young and fit you didn’t need business attire suitable for upper management or anything tasteful, conservative and flattering. There was frumpy, usually not even in her size. Or there was night club attire suitable for a secretary trying to sleep her way up. Well tonight she would have to manipulate him right back where she found him, staring at her body. She was not much of one for dresses. And she would not be comfortable in one, no matter how good it looked. She had a pair of thin black leather pants that fit her like a glove. She had bought them because they looked sophisticated, and not cheap, but never had an occasion to wear them. Sometimes she would wear them around the apartment with nothing else on a Friday night because she just looked hot in them and that was always good for the ego. She went into one of the high end shops and purchased a thin silk top to go with them. And in another store she found a nice jacket to complete the outfit. Next it was to the twenty something store to piece together a good business outfit for her frame.



Back at her apartment Leah was putting herself together slowly, not cautiously or nervously. She was all about timing. When it came to her shoes she decided to go with a slight heel on a little strappy number. She could wear a taller heal, but she would have to take a taxi, and she did not want to. The restaurant was just a few blocks away. Her hair was up off her neck, she loved that look, she liked her long neck, a little perfume and eye liner to finish being the extent of her makeup. She glowed naturally why try to change it. She knew when she tried the top on; she was going to wear it without anything under it. It was tucked it leaving most of the buttons unbuttoned. The thin jacket went on next. Yep, he was doomed.

The five block walk took no time and being in control of cloud nine, she was unaware of the admiration of some men just getting home from work and using her image as an omen to a good weekend. She had never been at Remy’s before, but they were notorious for great steaks, and high end healthy flair. She entered the restaurant and let her eyes adjust as the maître de approached her, the place was just starting to get its first dinner business, but the bar was mostly full.

You must be Leah he shocked her by saying.


I am to tell you that Tom is going to be no more than 15 minutes late, He begs your apology and says he understands if you cannot wait.

This did not sound like a smart offensive gesture, even better to put him on the defensive. Which table did Tom ask for?

He was not specific, he just wanted something in the open, he said, ‘not overly private or romantic’.

Oh well that just will not do, I want your most secluded and romantic table.

He was most adamant mademoiselle.

But he is not here, is he? If I am to stay, that is the table I wish to be seated at.

Of course you are right. I will seat you now.

No, I will be in the bar, but let him find me.

Yes, we will teach him a lesson for keeping a beautiful lady waiting; I will change the reservation now.

Leah walked into the pub style bar off of the restaurant entry, and she weighed her options as she climbed into one of the fixed backed barstools. The seat did swivel to aid in the effort. Red wine is always good, but she saw that they also had Guinness on tap, always good. Her father had introduced her to it as a girl, and she loved it from the first taste. This was Friday, and she didn’t eat the cheese cake, why not both? She swiveled around to face the bartender.

My name is Adrian ma’am. What can I get you? he said with a quiet brit accent.

How is your house red?

Very nice ma’am, it’s a relative local wine out of Bryan, their reds have done well the last several years. Their port is exceptional, has a slightly smoky finish

The red will be fine, and stand me a Guinness; it should be just right by dinner.

Yes ma’am, I’ll get that for you now, and start the Guinness when you are seated.

Perfect, thank you. It was not much longer before Tom, came in, he stood inside the door, blinded by the Texas sun, letting his eyes adjust to the much dimmer lighting of the establishment. She knew at once it was not a stunt. His breathing was slightly labored, and he obviously rushed there in the hopes of catching her before she left. Oh this was FUN! What she really found surprising was the fact that he was in uniform, an air force uniform. He was a Major it seemed. Why had he not tried to impress her with that? Then it hit her. Major Tom, oh how funny, perhaps that was why, well file it away, too obvious to use, but still fun-ny.

Oh there goes one big inhale. A long slow exhale, stand strait and adjust the uniform as he looks for me in the restaurant and disappointment. The maître-de arrives, put on my catty smile, he looks over…GOTCHYA.

Tom knew he had been beat. He looked up at the ceiling and sighed. Had he known that this defeat was only an unplanned hors d’oeuvre, and that he was about to be had for dinner, he may not have come at all. That is not true. This girl was exceptional. And she was watching him. How do I get out of this with my dignity? He thought. One last sigh and he entered the pub the maître de in tow. He walked up to her, and she was stunning, a true natural beauty. I am sorry to keep you waiting.

Things happen, she said clearly not letting him off that easy.

I will have a….

No time for that, you missed cocktail hour, she said putting her hand out for him to help her off the stool, not that she needed it. Part of wanting to be treated like a lady, was allowing men to act like gentlemen.

The maître de motioned for the bartender to take her drink from the bar. He then led Leah through the restaurant with Tom bringing up the rear; Tom kept waiting for him to stop and was starting to panic as they came to a secluded romantic table. Even the maître de knew what was up as he turned to Tom and said; You should never keep a beautiful lady waiting. He walked away leaving Tom awkwardly standing there when he realized that Leah was standing next to her chair waiting for Tom to pull it out for her. He didn’t understand why she was not sitting when he shifted his gaze to see her holding her jacket just off her shoulder. He helped her out of it, draped it over his arm and seated her. He then placed the jacket over the back of her chair and paused behind her as he hoped his timing would return soon. As he sat down with a recomposed smile he noticed how beautiful she looked and how nice and natural she looked sitting like a princess, in a shimmery black silk top that draped over her breast showing the curves of the top of her breast and her nipple breaking the otherwise smooth line of perfectly smooth silk over curvaceous unbound……

Well in the mall you were studying the back side, and now it seems you are committing the front to memory. Leah said as she shifted her weight as to relax the fabric, at the approach of the bartender.

Your wine ma’am.

Thank you Adrian. As the bartender left, she saw Tom holding his hands together and touching his cute full lips, almost as in prayer, but it was frustration wasn’t it. She pushed too far too fast. She always did. She always had to be in control of the situation. This was supposed to be fun. And he was not having fun anymore. I have one question for you Tom. Tom made eye contact How do you really like your cappuccino?

Tom now understood the rules, she was bright, beautiful and resourceful. And she did not want to feel played manipulated, or cheap. He had never had anything but respect and admiration for her. She didn’t know that though did she? Not that she gave him a chance. Still there was a slight opening, and that is all he needed to sweep her off her feet, or at least protect himself from getting kicked in the teeth. Tom pulled his chair close to the table leaned on his forearms and spoke softly so that she would have to draw closer to hear. I do like them skinny and wet. I almost never eat desserts, I don’t care for sweets, and I really don’t like chocolate. I do have trouble keeping my eyes off your exceptional body, but your soul piercing light brown eyes, help me to do so. And there was no way I was going to let a piece of cheese cake get in the way of having dinner with you. He was back!

She knew he was genuine, and genuinely charming, for that matter, he had literally made her sit up and take notice. As she sat up and looked back into his eyes to try to find the means to the sum of this man, her breast pressed back against the thin fabric of her blouse and his gaze shifted. Leah had truly done so unconsciously, but she was committed now. He looked back into her eyes as he sat far back in his chair, grabbing his napkin on the way and waving it in surrender with a quiet laugh. She had to stay the course to let him know that she was not playing games anymore. She felt a little naked, but she was the one who had raised the stakes of the game, and there was no chance of a relationship, so some good energetic flirting would be nice. If she was not going to be leaving, she would love to see where this went. However, he had taken all she had given him, and she wasn’t trying to beat him down anymore, so let him enjoy the view, they were after all exceptional. She saw the waiter coming and relaxed her posture for modesty sake. She knew it was considered fashionable, but she was not a society girl, debutante or fashion model. It didn’t help that it was slightly cool in the restaurant, and a little bad posture would not be noticed.

Only a stickler for details would have noticed the timing of the shift in posture and the arrival of the waiter. She was modest, and she was making an effort to be sexy, that wasn’t it, she had used her sexuality to put him off guard, that was clear, but now that they were back to terms, she was uncomfortable with it. She was publicly uncomfortable with it, but she did not mind him seeing her, or now that it wasn’t a tool… there it is she didn’t expect to be here. She didn’t expect to find me charming, silly girl. Now there is an elephant in the room, and I have to see it first. She cannot, because then it is obvious that she brought it in and not I. I have to make it my elephant.

Good evening, my name is Harry; I will be your waiter. He presented them with menus and continued on. This evening the chef…..

Harry Leah interrupted.


I’m afraid we do not have the time to enjoy your reputation fully. She looked at Tom, who quickly rose to the occasion, for support.

Steaks, I hear you have the best.

Yes sir, the very best

Tom Leah chirped in, Would you care for a beer with dinner? I am having a Guinness.

I’ll try one, two Guinness and what kind of steak would you like?

I would like a tenderloin fillet, almost rare, not medium rare but almost rare, and grilled vegetables, just steak and grilled vegetables. That would be perfect, can you do that?

Of course, it is no problem.

That would be great; I will have the same except make mine a sirloin.

Very well, It should not be too long at all, the waiter said as he went to place the order.

Leah looked at Tom as he watched the waiter leave the room. He was at ease, and he was a good looking gentle man. She leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs, and soaked in the moment, she watched him follow the waiter with his eyes and look back to her. He was going to say something and then stopped. He looked into her eyes, at her slight smile, and he realized the elephant had left the room, for the time being. If it came back, he could deal with it then.

You must eat here often, Tom said to break the silence.

No, I have never been here before. I just know what I want. The menu is just a list of suggestions isn’t it? Leah always had loved beef and peppers.

It was a bit outside the box for Tom, but what do you expect from a military man. I am sorry for being late. My day went long. I thought I would have time to get back to the hotel and change….but….

Don’t be. Leah reassured You look good in that uniform. It suits you. What do you do?

Tom grimaced; I know it sounds James bond or something, but I really can’t say. What about your new job, what all does it entail?

Leah shook her head slowly and smiled; I don’t want to jinx it.

Tom sat up Okay, we can’t talk about work, we are both traveling a lot so there is no use learning last names. Leah shook her head no. We won’t see each other again so even though there is a strong mutual attraction, there is no use putting any effort into building a foundation for a relationship. What will we talk about?

Leah still shaking her head; I do not know, you are the charming conversationalist, remember?

Wow, can we go to STARBUCKS and start over?

No, that boat has sailed.

You see that’s the problem, I am a fly boy, all that nautical stuff just confuses the heck out of me.

She was now a little intrigued. Oh so you are one of those hot stuff jet pilots like in all those movies?

Don’t be too impressed, they are all jets now, and I fly about the biggest and ugliest one around. What about you, what job are you leaving?

I am leaving a mid level engineering job that bores me, every day I wait for my job to be given to a high school kid with a new program or to go to a cutting edge design team in a remote area

When the steaks arrived, they both ate with gusto and talked very little. They knew that when the meal ended so did the date, and so did the chance for a relationship, they both needed more than they knew. They talked about their high school years and their college years, and putting lives on hold for something better. They talked enough to know they were right for each other, that made it ache a little more. As the plates were cleared it dawned on them both how lonely they really were. Neither had been until this evening. They must have been looking at the waiter like he was the hangman when he came again.

Perhaps we have time enough for desert? Leah was about to say yes to delay the inevitable when Tom said; No the lady doesn’t eat desert.

HA! Leah covered her mouth when she realized how loud her spontaneous outburst was. She regained composure while Tom paid the bill. He stood behind her and took her jacket, pulled back her chair and helped her on with her jacket. The timing, sadly, was back. They walked outside as the sun was painting a pleasant backdrop for the skyline. Just when the awkward goodbyes that they both dreaded were about to commence, Leah turned to Tom and said I live five blocks away. Walk me home?

What about my car? It was stupid; he knew it, as soon as he said it. Men suffer from a romantic delay reaction."

It’s only five blocks Tom. I think you can handle it

No, I mean would you like me to drive you? You’re right it is a nice night. A walk would be great. It was a weak save. She let it fly.

The five blocks to her apartment made for a slow warm walk filled with trivial chit chat that neither one could have recalled moments later. What was first on each of their minds was how to stretch out the evening. No matter how slow they walked, they had to face the inevitable. They were standing in front of Leah’s building. She had stepped up and turned to him. They were now looking eye to eye and neither one knew how to end the evening; Leah had a wonderful time and leaned in for a nice soft kiss. Tom’s hands found her waist and supported her weight making Leah feel as if she were floating in front of him. As she started to pull away, Tom gently stood her back up. His touch was so soft, Leah could barely feel him holding her. She knew she wanted more out of this evening. She also knew that anything close to a relationship was out of the question. She wanted everything the evening had to offer without ruining it. She leaned in again putting her arms up against his chest, leaning in, putting her weight against his chest, which she now found formidable. Her face was a whisper away from his and her gaze went back and forth from one eye to the other, and she knew the night was almost over but not yet. Let me tell you what is going to happen. We are going to go up to my apartment. I am going to run a bath. When the bath is finished running, you will leave.

Tom felt like the luckiest man alive. She took him in light tow as they walked to the building and to the elevator. Leah could not remember the last time she was in the elevator. As the doors closed, she turned to him and tiptoed up for a kiss. It was short lived, but it was stoking the fire nicely. She knew the trick was going to be maintaining control. She wasn’t sure she could refuse an advance, but was confident that he would not. She didn’t know him, but she did. In a minute, they were just inside her apartment. They were kissing with one short soft kiss after another while she was unbuttoning his jacket. She helped him off with it, and draped it over the couch. She went to his tie, loosening it enough to get it over his head, while never losing eye contact. She tossed the tie on his jacket, and started giving him soft kisses again as she undid the top three buttons of his shirt. One firm kiss and she was off to her bathroom taking off her jacket as she went. Make yourself at home. One of the reasons she had picked this apartment was the attention to detail in the bedroom and master bath. The claw foot tub was elegant, room for two. She did not let the idea stay in her head too long, she knew it would win her over. She turned on the water full blast, then realized it would fill up faster than she would want it to.

Tom was wandering around the apartment, looking for distraction. His pulse and his fever were both too great for reasonable thought, let alone restraint. He walked to the back porch and turned on the light. The porch was full of pepper plants. They lined the porch completely. In the center were two high stools and in between a small high table. Someone really put a lot of time in on this porch.

She was just getting the water to the temperature she wanted, and had it down to barely a trickle. I grow peppers out there, I love fresh peppers, she yelled from the bathroom. I also like drinking my coffee out there in the morning. She thought about it for a brief second then took her blouse off But, you won’t be here for that. She said as she came back to Tom. She could feel her small but firm breast slightly bounce with each step. She knew this would drive him wild.

Tom turned around when he heard Leah enter the room. Every time he thought he was going to get a handle on the situation, she threw him for a loop. Without her shoes, she was a little shorter, but if he couldn’t take his eyes off her before, now he was just entranced.

Leah had set boundaries and she would go no further. She was not going to waste it either. This may be the last time she would be with a man for some time. And she really liked Tom. She took him by both hands and led him to the couch. She sat him down and put a throw pillow on his lap. She cradled herself between him and the pillow. Their kisses were slow but passionate. Tom’s hands caressed her bare skin nonstop, never spending too much time on her breast, sometimes not enough, which was actually getting her more excited. After several minutes, Leah got up to check the bath water. It was full. The sands in the hourglass of her passion were gone so it seemed. And the feeling was just that empty. She finished getting undressed and put on her white cotton robe. She started to tie it shut, then thought perhaps he deserved something of a reward for all the frustration she had caused him. Tom’s eyes were glued on her when she came into the room this time. He was not disappointed. Her body was in full view of him. His mouth went dry. She walked to him removed the pillow from his lap, which was doing a poor job of concealing his delight, and pulled him up. She started buttoning his shirt. Then put his tie back on and his jacket. She led him to the door and tip toed him a soft kiss. She led his hands inside her robe and placed them on the butt he had been staring at earlier that day. She then dropped her hands between them and cuddled his manhood, which seemed to pulse at her light touches. When you get back to your hotel room, turn off the lights and think of me. In about thirty seconds I will be thinking of you. She gave him one last soft kiss and pushed him out the door.

Tom stood outside the door for two minutes without moving. The last half hour of his life he had felt like a spectator. When he finally came out of his trance, he verbalized his night, what the hell was that? All he could think about as he walked back to his car, besides how uncomfortable he was in his slacks, was that he had never felt like this in his life. He had never been so not in control as long as his memory would serve him.

Leah was in the tub in no time feeling her body absorb the heat as her hands caressed their way down her torso until they found the spot that caused her breathing to hasten and her back to arch until the warmth from within relaxed her, and she didn’t know where the bath stopped and her body started. After her bath, she dried off and slipped naked into bed, drifting off quickly as she felt decadently indulged.

Morning found Leah on her balcony in her robe, sipping coffee among her pepper plants. She had not actually used her alarm clock in the recent memory. Her automatic coffee pot filled the apartment with a beautiful aroma. She would wake up slowly, to the ending perk gurgle, smell the coffee, and make her way to the outside to sit with her plants. She always felt as though she was letting them sleep. At the end of her second cup she would spray the leaves, and water them with water left out the day before in hope that chemicals would dissipate. She followed her routine, filling the large watering can and setting it by the door. Then she would turn off the coffee pot, over half full, always a waste that she vowed never to repeat, but always made a full pot, and then into her closet to get ready.

She had planned her wardrobe the night before in the mall, but that was out the window. She was feeling different about herself then. It would be nice, but a little too feminine. She was a woman, but that did not have to define her. Bra and panties from Victoria’s secret were a given, they always felt good, and made her feel sexy under it all, but standing there in her underwear, she just had an epiphany of sensibility. They are looking for a field person, who works and thinks. She pulled out her best jeans, and a light sweater. The jeans were snug but not restrictive, but the sweater was, hey, there’s that jumpsuit I bought.

Off came the jeans, and sweater. She had bought the jumpsuit from Dustine’s, a little start up shop she had stumbled into once while looking for camping stuff for a trip she never took. It was very utilitarian, the legs came off, the sleeves came off, pockets everywhere, and a cinch belt. She still loved the way it looked on her, it was something she could work in, it had clean lines, but it was slightly retro/sci-fi, said something, but not sure what. She liked it, but too much too soon. Onto the floor it went with a sigh, back to bra and panties. She spied a silk t-shirt, jeans back on, t-shirt, looks good, but she could just make out the bra, nope, what if it was cold in the interview room, that led to a little chuckle, good for last night, not good for today. Her head spun around and she found the clothes she wore last night. She went and picked them up. Leah stood in the closet door in jeans and a bra, hugging the memory as time stood still. She eyed the clock, she had been standing there a little too long for her comfort, as last night’s wardrobe hit the closet floor she realized she was going to a meeting in jeans and a bra. What says I am ready to work? She grabbed a plain cotton t-shirt, and tucked it in. What says I’m smart? She was about to take off her t-shirt, when she spotted a light tan corduroy jacket. She used it at the office for days when it was chilly, not her favorite, but it seemed to work. There was just something wrong, it all looked, well not feminine enough. She looked in the mirror. It was not saying what she wanted to say. What do I want to say? She stood in front of the mirror, threw her head back, closed her eyes. "I am Leah, and I want to work for you…I am Leah, and I am fit …I am Leah your best choice for this job. I am smart, I am young, I am fit, I am attractive, I am the best qualified now let’s get to work ...I am Leah, let’s get to work ...Lets …get …to …work. She put her hair in a pony tail, grabbed a blue cap off the top shelf of her closet and pulled the ponytail through. Once again to the mirror, she felt comfortable, but a bit informal. The jacket changed that some. It added the respect to the occasion, but lose it, and it is down to work. She was almost ready, she grabbed socks and spied the mock hiking boots, she had never worn on that camping trip. Not a normal pick, but their newness made them almost formal. Done, last mirror check, and wow, did it again. While she was getting dressed someone destroyed her closet. Normally, she would pick it up, but she really wanted to be there early.

The drive to Clear Lake was normally crowded, but at seven on a Saturday morning, it was almost devoid of movement. This was still a sleepy little town when it had the luxury to be. That was unfortunately becoming less and less. She followed the directions down Hwy 3 down a side road and to a back entrance where her name and I D was checked against a roster and a visitor pass was issued. Then she was given more directions to an unimpressive building far to one side with just a couple of cars there. She realized she was a bit early. She parked in front, but off to one side, leaving the center parking spaces for the staff, or interviewers or whomever. Leah got out of her car and headed into the double glass doors. There were sounds from within, she walked down a small hall to a small gym type room where two gentlemen in khakis and button downs were setting up some tables. Leah walked in and said hello. They grumbled a hello, she met them in the middle of the room where she pulled out the legs of the tables for them. How many do we need? she asked the tall man with messy thick hair.

Four should suffice.

The second man looked more disagreeable, with his short stature and his ‘why am I up this early on a Saturday’ look about him, he just looked small and unhappy. Yes, four should spread us out and make us look formidable and intimidating.

Leah knowing they were oblivious to her identity, took off her jacket and laid it on the now upright table. Four it is.

They repeated the process until four tables were assembled in a row. Leah went and got a chair and placed it in front of the line of tables. The short man said Put it farther back, so they feel less at ease… let’s put a table outside and get that big coffee pot out of the break room and set up a coffee bar outside. Frey better show up with doughnuts.

Leah excused herself and found the break room, she rummaged around until she found everything and made a few trips setting up the coffee pot and putting out the condiments. Several more people had shown up and were grabbing chairs and claiming spots behind the tables. Leah knew her anonymity would be over soon, so she walked back into the room where people were talking and making introductions. As she was getting her jacket two more people came through the glass doors with armloads of breakfast fare and cat calls, and ribbing for tardiness. More morning pleasantries and un-pleasantries were exchanged. Are we all here? said someone in the crowd. All but the commander said another.

Leah stood un-noticed from the group, off by herself near the doorway to the larger room. They started towards the room as the little unpleasant man said Well, we are just waiting on the commander and our first victim.

You’re not waiting on me. Leah said as the group came to a halt and stared at her, coffee and doughnuts at the ready. Well isn’t this awkward? She tried to subdue the grin on her face, I am Leah, I would shake hands, but they seem to be full. I am your first…..victim, I think the word was.

The doughnut bearer, Frey by default, said give us a moment Ms. Sharp. And we will be ready to start.

They filed quietly into the room, with the short man bringing up the rear I thought she came with the building.

Leah was starting to second guess her wardrobe choices, when the door flew open letting in direct sunlight, she saw a tall uniform hurriedly enter, and making a bee-line for the interview room, stopped uncomfortably close to her. As the door closed and her eyes adjusted, she found herself looking into Tom’s eyes. It all rushed back to her, what had made last night possible, was the fact that there was no chance of a future. What made it possible was that it was fun and warm and temporary. Now that she had seen him a second time……this was not supposed……… there was no understanding, just a deep low, deep from within pin poke of hope. She knew that it was mutual, because although no words were exchanged, she could see her emotions mirrored from within his expressive eyes. At the realization of all the denial, hardship and pain, difficulties and complications that were sure to result, there was hope. As they stood there looking into each other’s eyes, not being able to breath, not being able to speak, their not too brief moment was interrupted by Frey. Major, we were going to do the interviews in here, but if you have already started… Tom’s head snapped to see Frey coming into the hallway. Tom, if you are ready, we can start.

Yes, as he broke away and walked into the room of course.

Well Ms. Sharp that is the last of our group, we can begin. Leah followed Frey in, he motioned to the chair way out from the tables as he walked by. Leah picked up the chair and continued following him, placing it down at a more comfortable distance from her interviewers. When Frey returned to his seat, he was slightly startled to see her so close looking right back at him. He sat down and got comfortable, trying to stall as Tom unpacked his briefcase and readied himself at the far end. Ms. Sharp, this process has been long and painstaking and resulted in so few suitable applicants, that the question has been raised if it is even viable. With our exposure dwarfed by the natural evolution of the private sector, we are at a crossroad. So even as you are hoping to be chosen, it may be for something that never happens.

Leah looked across the panel, where was the excitement? These people had to have been excited about this project at some point. It could not have gotten this far without a driving force. Who are you people? She didn’t realize she had given the thought voice, until they gave her their instant un-divided attention, the room was completely still. Once again she had begun something, and she was committed, I am Leah Sharp, I am a structural and alternative method and materials engineer. Who are you people?

She walked to the far right where she stopped in front of the grumpy one. Who are you? She asked as she took her jacket off.

I am the mission director, if we start nothing; I mean nothing gets started, unless I am certain it will be completed. Nothing happens unless I say it happens, once we start, every breath you take, you are breathing my air, you will breathe it the way I tell you to breathe it. There is no way around me, by me or through me. I say go we go, I say no-go we stand down. I don’t care about expectations, careers, finances, politics or anything else. How you leave, that is how you come back, or we don’t go at all.

She liked him, And your name?

Derrick Johnson.

She came to a 40ish woman next, Hi Leah, I’m Shannon, I’m PR, I put you out there and manage image, I get us press when we don’t have it and manage it when we do.

The tall man with the messy hair stood up, Hi Leah, I’m John, I am the flight surgeon.

She came to Frey, Project coordinator Leah, we have talked on the phone.

Leah, I’m Sherri, I get what we need, I am the logistics coordinator, If its purchase or bid, it’s me. Sherri was a little standoffish, she would be a hard one to win over, she was beautiful, enough to be used to being the center of attention.

Ms. Sharp, I am your military liaison. However, I am retired so Ted is fine.

Hector, Ms. Sharp, training, if you do it, there will be an SOP for it.

She was trying to avoid awkwardness as she came to Tom. So you must be…….

Tom Miller, Ms. Sharp, I am your taxi. After I get you there, I am your work force

Leah backed towards the center and surveyed the group. They lacked direction or motivation, they were all so fatigued. They needed a catalyst to free up the energy that had gotten them to this point. You have my resume’ so there is no need to go over what I am sure you have verified. As I see it, you all have worked very hard to get us to this point. And now it is time to turn it over to the three people in the room who have not yet taken their part. She paused long enough to see that she had their attention, doughnuts down, edge of the seat attention. You are fortunate enough to have what you need in a package that looks like this. She worked hard to make this clinical. And you are lucky to have a taxi driver who looks like him.

As attention shifted to Tom, he fought the urge to smile, he knew her, he knew her like he had known her his entire life, he knew these people were being led down a prim rose path, right into an ambush, they were so not prepared for her, but he was.


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