As I was leaving my room in Prague's Kempinski Hotel, the door latched behind me at exactly the same instant as the door to the next room clicked shut. Dressed for my morning run in black tights and a solid aqua-coloured, short-sleeved Pearl Izumi running shirt, I said good morning to the man who had just emerged from the room next to mine and began down the hall.
"Excuse me," he said in lightly accented American English. I stopped to look back at the tall, brown-haired man who was turning his key in the lock.
"You must lock your door with the key, it's not automatic," he reminded me.
"Oh, yeah." Turning, I dug the key from the tiny pocket inside the waistband of my tights and locked my door. "Thanks," I said and walked to the elevator.
"My pleasure," he responded, as he followed me into the small four-person lift.
He looked ridiculous. He wore an oversized, orange and white, long-sleeved T with Rabobank printed across both front and back. Funny, I pronounced it Rob-a-bank in my head. He also had on baggy, NBA style basketball shorts – orange and brown, but a different, not-even-close-to-matching shade of orange – and blue Adidas running shoes. My quick assessment: super-geek!
"Do you know where to go?" he asked in flawless English.
"Go?" I asked.
"On your run, do you have a direction?"
"Nope, first day, fighting jet lag. I was going to explore..."
"Follow me if you like; I'll take the most beautiful route I know. 5K ok?" he asked, grinning broadly.
"Sure," I agreed, grateful for any company, goofy looking or not.
Prague is often called the most beautiful city in the world, and this morning it was easy to understand why. The early morning sun was making the tops of the tallest buildings glow beautifully. There were red roofs atop white walls and gold highlights shimmering brightly. Many of the street lamps were still illuminated, adding to the early morning sparkle.
Together we jogged along the north edge of The Old Town Square to the Vitava River, where a left turn sent us upstream to the Charles Bridge before looping through other parts of the Old Town district back to the Hotel.
The streets were active with street cleaners, gardeners, marble polishers and delivery people. Curiously, many of them grinned broadly and waved at us.
His name was Ben and he spoke sparingly, just enough to point out the sights, but this he did breathing easily. Crossing the square, we saw the magnificent Astronomical Clock and then, along the river, the so-called "dancing building" or "Fred and Ginger" because the architecture resembles a dancing couple. He asked if I liked to dance. I responded with a nod and a yes. He then pointed out another building, saying it was the best discotheque in Prague, with four floors featuring different music styles on each one. In the 40 minutes it took us to do the loop that, along with comments on a few more buildings, is about all he said.
Even though he didn't say much, Ben was a good listener. He showed genuine interest in my new position with the Eastern European edition of a successful magazine for independent women. Only 24, I was fortunate to have landed a dream job like this just two years after graduating with my journalism degree.
Keeping up with his pace pushed me often to shortness of breath. I still somehow managed to go on about myself. I think it was because I couldn't bear the void of his silence.
Later, back in my room, I realized I didn't learn very much about Ben at all. Some journalist, I chided myself. All I could say for sure is he had nice shoulders, a nice smile and wore goofy looking clothes to run in.
After a quick shower, make-up and clothes, I determined that I had plenty of time to try the continental breakfast in the hotel. Ben was already in the dining room and gestured to me to join him. In blue jeans, ivory dress shirt and black blazer, he appeared considerably less geeky than he did in his running togs. The broad shoulders were still there but now it became evident he was quite lean; when he walked back to the buffet I could see he had narrow hips and no butt. From across the table his eyes were liquid cobalt. My reassessment: Handsome Viking.
Having missed my first chance to learn about this laconic man, I turned up my journalistic talents and conducted what amounted to an interview with a reluctant subject. It was like being on a chat room receiving only monosyllabic responses. However, I did learn that he was born in Massachusetts to an American father and a Danish mother, but grew up in Copenhagen from the age of two. He attended college and graduate school in the states and he was here as a guest lecturer at the University of New York in Prague for the coming spring semester. He had only arrived the week before and had already found an apartment he would move into the next week.
My first official day at the office wouldn't be until Monday, but I went in right after breakfast to get oriented. It turned out I was given just enough time to find my desk before I received my first assignment. At 3pm I was in the waiting room of a Czech doctor who had authored yet another diet book, another variation of the low-carb theme. The appointment had been made weeks earlier. My arrival in Prague allowed it to fall to me. Obviously this guy was not very high on the list, if they gave it to the new girl not yet even on the payroll.
My editor gave me the address, a metro map and fare. Her name was Renee and she was from London; appearing to be only a few years older than me, maybe 30, I thought. Renee assured me it would be a splendid way to learn the "trolleys" – the transportation system – but cautioned me to give myself plenty of time. She also told me I'd be having dinner with her at 8 and scrawled the name and address of a restaurant on a card. "After that we're going clubbing, so wear sophisticated sexy."
Waiting for Doctor Rotsenovic gave me time to again consider Ben. Picturing him in his comic running getup brought a smile to my face. His quiet, reticent manner seemed challenging and magnetic. Men usually split themselves open to me if I return half a glance. This one gave me nothing but nice manners. I tried to picture his face and all I could see were his dancing blue eyes as they engagingly drank in my conversation during breakfast. Trying to conjure any other part of him produced only that goofy two-tone orange jogging costume and brought a grin to my lips.
The diet doctor was an easy interview, self-centred and full of his new celebrity. When he wasn't hitting on me, he talked a lot about his diet, and even more about himself. "Smarmy" is a description that came to mind for Dr. Rotsenovic. By the time we concluded the interview, I felt like I wanted a bath.
Thankfully, there was plenty of time for one before dinner with Renee. Back in my room I drew a shallow bath and reclined while the water continued to run. The warmth felt soothing, relaxing. I squeezed the washcloth to over my arms and neck and breasts, enjoying the sensation of the warm, dribbling water. The fragrance of the soap was foreign to me – light, but not overly sweet.
I gave in to the intoxicating effects of the bath, closed my eyes and began wondering what Ben might be doing. Was he in his room next door? Was he still at work? I envisioned now not Ben the super geek, but Ben the Viking; his quiet smile, his long arms. I imagined what the rest of him supporting the broad shoulders might be like: firm, flat chest; forged abs; and rippling, lean flanks? What was it about him that was so enticing? Was it that he was so unusually calm and collected around me?
Men were often nervous around me, but I never really understood why; I don't think of myself as beautiful – I have a list of flaws that would fill a book. But in eleventh grade Assistant Principle Reynolds once told me, when I was called to his office for dress code violation, that I was no longer allowed to wear the style of clothes made popular by Britney Spears, even though the other girls did, because it was different for me. I exuded too much of "whatever It was that boys liked." He said, "It's as if you are in a library where all the girls are whispering the same words, except you are yelling them."
Now I was older and more sophisticated in stature and wardrobe, yet my sexuality still seemed to ooze from me just as much. In truth I've not only come to accept it, I've learned how to use it.
Boys who didn't get nervous were dangerous. The nervous ones never broke my heart. Don't get me wrong; I could fall in love with the nervous ones as easy as anyone. The trouble is that I was far more likely to be the one who broke their poor hearts when I would suddenly lose interest for some moody, dark, brooding bipolar bastard just because of his rare indifference to me.
But Ben was not dark and brooding. He was cheerful and smart and a little goofy, on purpose, I supposed. He's the kind of guy street workers waved to on his morning run just because he was friendly and cordial. I decided that he was not indifferent toward me, but confident and self-assured. As I considered Ben, my fingers, which had found their way to my vagina, were slowly making circles on my clit. Lateral ellipses allowed my three middle fingers, held flat and firm, to washboard over the sensitive little bud. With the image of Ben's deep blue eyes watching me it was only a matter of moments for me to feel a mild orgasm resonate through the core of my body. I sloshed about enough in the tub to splash small waves over the rim.
After relaxing a bit longer in the warm water, I shaved the stubble from my legs and pubic area, finished my bath and then did my hair and make-up. At that the real task began: deciding what to wear for the evening. After trying on three different outfits, I chose a silver lamé blouse with a black micro skirt and don't-you-just-wish high-heeled sandals. Underneath I wore a black lace bra and black thong. I topped everything off with large silver hoop earrings and a silk, black and silver shawl.
I asked the concierge for directions to the restaurant and met Renee, my editor, right on time. If Renee had dressed any hotter she'd have been breathing fire. She wore a shimmering, black, stretch mini-dress that clung to her like paint. The top construction was a bustier complete with lacing in the middle of her back. Straps went over her shoulders and braced her breasts above the top of the bodice. In comparison I felt as conservative as the Queen Mum.
The restaurant was a tiny place, with only eight tables. The service was impeccable and the food was delectable. We had finished our opening course and our first glasses of wine and were onto soup when, at the entrance, there appeared a woman of magnificent beauty. Long-limbed, with straight, satiny, black hair blunt-cut just above her shoulders and bangs straight across at her eyebrows, she was so striking I couldn't avert my gaze. Her oversized, almond-shaped eyes were framed by cheekbones that seemed to wrap under and around the outside of each of them. She wore an impeccably tailored business skirt-suit hemmed just above the knee. Materializing behind her was the man who had held the door for his date. It was Ben.
No wonder he wasn't nervous around me - he dated fashion models! My heart was still plummeting when he said "Hi Jenna, what a nice surprise to see you again. I'd like you to meet Shayna." Then to Shayna, "This is Jenna, the girl I told you about, the one I ran with this morning." A smile forced itself onto Shayna's mouth accompanied by a head nod.
"And this is Renee, my editor at the magazine," I said while screaming to myself Oh my god, he told her about me? Why would he do that?
"Nice to see you again, Shayna, and nice to meet you Ben," Renee said.
"You know each other?" Ben asked.
"Yes, we've met," Renee replied.
After a short pause in which nothing more was said, Ben broke the silence. "I'm sure you have plenty to talk about... and I see our table is waiting."
"Nice to meet you Jenna, and of course Renee," Shayna said in a surprisingly pleasant eastern European lilt and accent. As they moved to their table ten feet away, Renee with a hand covering the side of her face and an eyebrow raised made me think she could read my thoughts.
"Never mind why he told her about you, why you didn't tell me about him?" she whispered and smiled.
I answered with an I-don't-know face and a shrug.
Our dinner conversation was mostly Renee filling me in on the idiosyncrasies of my job at the magazine and the things she would be expecting of me in my comportment inside and outside of the office. She also told me that life would no doubt be fun for me here in Prague, and to make the very best of it. Along with all that came the stern warning that I "may never, never miss a deadline." If we talked of more than that I didn't get it all, because my attention was repeatedly diverted to Ben and Shayna. I almost constantly searched for signs of intimacy between them or anything that might offer an insight into their relationship. Nothing did.
Following dinner and after saying good night to Ben and Shayna, Renee and I left for our next stop, the Karlovy Lazne Dance Club. When the cab dropped us off, I recognized the building Ben pointed out to me on our morning run – the discotheque with four floors. It was Friday night and there was a long line to get in. There was no line in a short rope aisle with a small blue plastic sign that was engraved with a stylized rose.
The bouncers at the door smiled at us, said "Hello, Renee" together, and then "Hello" to me.
"Hans and Joseph, meet Jenna, the new girl at the magazine," Renee introduced me.
"Nice to meet you Jenna," Hans said in a heavy accent of clipped English. His muscles rippled under his tight black t-shirt. I almost laughed out loud thinking of that old TV skit of Hans and Franz.
Joseph chimed in with a similar accent, "Whenever you come Jenna, whether with the Queen Bee here or not, just come by the sign of the rose."
"Thanks," I said, as we entered through the door Hans held open for us, "Nice meeting you both."
Inside, the place was thronging with 20, 30 and 40 year olds dancing to techno-beat dance music being spun by a DJ high up on the back left wall. There were screens on the upper parts of the walls on two sides of the cavernous room. Separated by a high glass half-wall just to our right as we walked in was an elevated section, providing access to what had to be the longest bar I'd ever seen. It continued along the entire right side wall to the back wall. There were also people, mostly girls, dancing just on the bar side of the glass wall. Looking up, you couldn't help but see their thongs under their short skirts.
Renee pulled me through a number of dancers close to the centre of the floor and started dancing with me. The way dancers moved here was a bit different than in New York, but not much, and it didn't take me long to give myself up to the music. It didn't take long for guys to be dancing around us either, like bees circling in on flowers. Renee was an unabashed flirt.
As Renee danced with a guy, she would play up to him, and at some point turn her back to him and turn her head and invitingly glance at him over her shoulder. She'd bend her knees into a little stoop and arch her back a couple of times sexily, offering her tight little butt. If the guy didn't have his crotch up against her by the second stoop, she would turn around and continue dancing with a girlish insouciance.
If the guy moved in, joining her rhythm of bumping and grinding, she would push her butt into him and even reach back with a hand on the side of his thigh. His hands would roam up and down her body. They would dance dirty like that for a little while before she would turn around again. Almost involuntarily, each time she moved away, I would glance down to see if she had gotten a 'rise' out of the boy, and each time it was plain that she indeed had. Renee would sometimes then move in on them and wrap herself into them, with one leg tight between theirs.Being a natural flirt myself, I barely missed a beat before following Renee's lead. Drinks were passed to us, but Renee waved them off and shook her head at me. As time went on I got emboldened in my dancing, and I didn't need to glance down at my own partners to tell if I was getting a 'rise' out of them.
It was giddily intoxicating to feel their hardening members rubbing up against my ass. A couple of guys grabbed my hips pretty tight and pulled me in close. I twisted free almost immediately, kept dancing, smiled real big and sexy and tick-tocked my index finger in front of their faces. One of those boys, actually a rather small, wiry compact guy, pressed what felt like a tree limb against me.
After a couple more songs, Renee grabbed me and we headed toward the water closet. Along the way she warned against ever drinking anything handed to me. "You could end up a slave hooker in Bangkok."
We stopped at one of the bars and Renee bought us each something refreshing, potent and familiar: Red Bull and vodka. Then we wound through the crowd to a stairway and we ascended to the next level.
This level was driven by hip-hop, and driven hard. The basic arrangement of the place was similar to the first level, but the look and feel of the décor was so completely dissimilar as to be a different place. Red Bull and vodkas finished, Renee and I were in the thick of it all over again. The bees came buzzing. By the second song I was sandwiched between two good-looking guys, one an almost albino white blonde and the other chocolate brown. Both were gorgeous. The tall white guy had sculpted facial features that reflected the well-chiselled torso evident beneath his tight shirt. He had short spiky hair. The black guy was stockier, shorter and thicker, with a smooth-shaved head. I cold feel both of their cocks semi-hard against me, one in front against my hip and belly, and the other, the brown one, behind me. I turned up the sex ooze a little. All thoughts of Ben having been dashed on the shores of Shayna, I decided to set these boys on fire. By the time the DJ blended the song into the next, I could feel their full shanks against me. Their hands were all over me. I felt so naughty, sexier than ever before in my life. I was wet, so wet I was soaking the patch of my thong. Running on the verge of losing all control, I was ready to take either one of them back to my room right then. I knew they wanted me, their desire was already searing my skin. I had never been with anyone like either of these guys. The idea of the man of marble was exciting because he was so solid and raw looking, but then this was the best looking black man I had ever seen. I had never been with a black guy. When he reached one arm across my abdomen, his hand pushed high up under my breast while his other pushed up my micro skirt and cupped my bare ass, and said, "You're coming with me, gorgeous," the decision was made. I thought he would carry me away.
I leaned into him and closed my eyes. Suddenly a strong grip on my arm startled me. Other hands withdrew and I shakily centred my own feet under me. "Hello chaps," Renee said, as she was pushing me out from between them.
"Hello Renee," they chimed together in singsong voices of different accents.
"I see you've met Jenna," she said sweetly.
"Hello Jenna," they said together again.
"You are one hot dancer, Jenna," the black guy complimented me.
"Jenna's one of my girls at work, and if you chaps ever do anything besides dance with Jenna, I warn you, you will be using strap-ons for the rest of your lives." This was said in an affectedly sweet tone of voice that was so chilling as to carry the weight of a significant threat.
Renee kept pushing me beyond them and we were on our way to the next level. "Those two are criminal predators," she said. "They are gay, hardcore sadists and very mean. They take a girl home and use her as a plaything. The brutality gets them all hopped up. After that it's demonized sex with each other. It's a night you would never forget no matter how hard you tried."