Kansas

byDeclan Cravens©

My name is Ana and I was born and raised in County Donegal, Ireland. I'm 33 now, but I was only 19 when I came to the United States. I wanted more freedom, opportunity, and the chance to be the kind of woman I wanted to be, not just a wife and mother.

I work as a Sales Director for a major hotel chain. My hotel is in Missouri and I have to travel quite often to attend conferences and meetings held by the founder of our chain. They are informative, but boring beyond description.

I love to travel but seeing only the insides of airports, taxicabs, and hotel rooms has become a real stress for me. I love to explore the cities I visit and for the past five years I haven't had the time to even visit the most popular of tourist sites because of my tight time frames. I am usually in and out of the city within two days.

A little over four months ago I sat staring at another conference package from my boss thinking, 'I can't do this.' I didn't want to spend another two to three days in a city where all I saw were hotel room walls. I was burned out and ready to walk away from a job I'd been at for over 12 years.

My boss noticed my reluctance to confirm my travel arrangements and called me into his office. I did not hold back when he asked what the problem was. I told him how tired I was of traveling so much and not having any time to breathe, how I hated how rushed it was to go to these conferences for him.

For a moment I thought he would order me to go or lose my job. Imagine my surprise when he told me that those were the same reasons he hated to go to them himself. He asked me where this one was to be held and I told him Wichita, Kansas. I then asked him if he would possibly attend this one himself. He said no, but that he thought he could work something out so that I could have some time off before the conference.

I went back to my own office a little lighter on my feet than before. Some time off would be great. In fact, I couldn't remember the last time that I'd taken a vacation. It would be nice to have time to myself. I did some paperwork and helped set up a meeting room for the next day before my boss got back to me. He offered me nine days off, not including my regular weekend off, if I would agree to attend. I agreed enthusiastically.

At eight o'clock Friday night I clocked out and rushed home, eager to begin my vacation. I'd decided at some point during the week to head for Kansas on Sunday and do some exploring before the conference. I would have a whole week to see the sites, act like a tourist and just be lazy in a place where no one knew who I was. I could do and be anything, anyone. I felt free for the first time in far too long.

I packed like a woman who was going to Maui and not Wichita, Kansas. It had been so long since I'd had the opportunity to dress like a woman and not a business person that I went a little overboard. I packed ever scrap of satin, lace, and silk that I owned. I didn't know where I'd wear them but I was determined to take them anyway. I ended up with two very large suitcases full of clothes but I didn't care what anyone would think. I was going on vacation and even if it was just Kansas, I was determined to have some fun and do whatever I pleased.

I set out on my road trip at nine am on Sunday. The traffic was light despite the beautiful summer day, and I rolled down the windows on my car and let the summer wind blow away all the stress in my body. I took breaks whenever I pleased, ate junk food I hadn't touched in years and sang with the radio at the top of my lungs. I flirted with a trucker somewhere outside of Columbia, Missouri, blowing him kisses then laughing when he blew his horn in response. I felt like a teenager again, off on a new and exciting adventure.

I stopped at several roadside sites, reading different historical facts about Missouri and then Kansas, once I crossed the border. I'd booked a room in a smaller area near Wichita called El Dorado and it was pretty late by the time I rolled into the small bed and breakfast type place I'd found on the internet. It was a charming farmhouse and I fell in love with it on the spot. The owner was pleasant despite the hour of my arrival and she told me that there were plenty of good places still open for a meal if I was hungry. I chose a 24 hour diner and had one of the best, and probably most unhealthy, meals I'd ever eaten. Full, sleepy and happy, I returned to my room and promptly fell into a deep sleep.

The next day I left early, the owner's hearty breakfast still warm in my tummy. I drove the forty miles to Wichita and set out to explore the city and what it had to offer. It was a good sized place with all the amenities that any city would offer. I stopped in at an internet coffee house for a cup and a chance to hook up my laptop and check my email. I wish I hadn't. Ben, my boss, had sent me a message that the conference had been moved up and that I would have to attend the very next day.

Reluctantly, I returned to my pretty little farmhouse room and repacked my bags. I didn't want to leave but the conference coordinators had rooms booked for all the attendees and it was required that you stay as part of the package. I hated deals like this, as it felt as if all control for my life was governed by strangers who would never know me. Still, I didn't know how late the conference would run as it had been cut down to one full day from two and I wouldn't want to drive the forty miles back to El Dorado late at night alone.

I was glad I'd made that choice. Still, it bothered me that some of my precious time would be marred by the interruption of the conference. I just wasn't ready to let go of my free spirited feeling to attend some boring talks, even if it was only for one day.

Out of spite, I wore some of Freddie's best under my severe business skirt and jacket, even wearing a garter belt and silk stockings, something I had never worn before in my life. I liked the feeling it gave me and added a higher heel than I would normally wear. I felt more in control, more free than I had at the other conferences, more like a woman and not just another worker bee. I was surprised at how sexy the feel of silk was on my thighs as I walked. I had a naughty little secret. To look at me you'd never know that under my black suit was silk lingerie in the darkest of greens.

That little secret and the feelings it provoked actually helped me throughout the boredom of the day. It moved fast but it was still the same old junk. Projections for the upcoming year, sales fluctuations, areas that needed improvement, awards for certain employees and franchises, and of course the closing speech by the President of the corporation. He released us and a giant sigh of relief seemed to fill the room.

Several of us attending had been coming to these things together for years. I wouldn't say we were friends, but we were good acquaintances that got together for a meal and drinks at the end of every conference. Usually I make it an early night, choosing to hit the bed instead of bar hopping, but tonight I was feeling wild and decided to head out with the group for a little fun.

We hit a popular night spot, one the desk clerk at the hotel had recommended and found a good table where we could see the people on the dance floor. The drinks were strong and expensive but good. Now, most people think that since I'm Irish I should be able to drink the biggest man under the table, but that's not the case with me. I have a low tolerance for alcohol and usually don't drink more than one pint of beer or ale in an evening out. However, that night I decided to have a margarita, something I'd wanted to try for some time. The drink hit me hard but it was too good and I finished off the rather large cocktail.

We went from bar to bar on that block, ending up at a rather dark, loud place where the band was live and punk. You might look at me and see classical music lover, but I was raised in a place where British punk music ruled. I was enjoying the band, and another tequila drink when I noticed that somehow I'd lost my group.

Normally, I would have panicked and headed straight for the door and the first cab back to the hotel. That night, being a bit tipsy, I just shrugged and found a seat near the stage, settling in to watch the band finish it's final set.

Another band replaced the first around midnight and they were even better than the first. There was a niggling voice at the back of my brain telling me that with the way I was dressed and with my age, I just didn't fit in but I kicked it hard and it shut up. Who cared that I was at least ten years older than most of the youngsters there? No one knew me here and they would probably never see me again, would never remember an older redhead in a business suit sitting amongst them.

The new band on stage was much more energetic than the last, jumping around and really burning the place up. The bass player seemed to have captured everyone's attention, understandably considering his good looks and shirtless chest covered in sweat. Ok, he captured my attention too. I couldn't look away, even when he seemed to look stare straight at me. I merely smiled tipsily, and focused my attention on his lightly furred chest.

He had the body of a boxer, wiry, ropy muscles, long fingers, brown hair that fell over his eyes quite often, and lean hips. When he turned I couldn't help but notice a tight bum that filled out his jeans quite nicely. I'm sure that had I not been more than a little drunk I would have blushed at my open appraisal of a total stranger but at that point I didn't much care. I crossed my legs and the feel of silk on silk was another jolt to my system. Between the bass player's hot body and the naughty lingerie lovingly cupping my most feminine parts, I was getting pretty turned on.

Before I knew it the band had finished their set and the bar was about to close for the night. I checked my watch and noticed that it was almost one am. I had to get out of there and find a way home, since I'd been so rudely ditched by my business acquaintances. I was sober enough to realize that a woman walking alone wouldn't be the smartest alternative so I found a payphone and called for a taxi to take me the eight blocks back to the hotel.

I decided to wait outside and have a cigarette, something I indulge in whenever I please. Bad for my health I know but I like the tang of good tobacco on my tongue. I heard noises coming from the side alley of the bar but I didn't go investigate. I was tired and a little miffed at being ditched and I leaned my head back, eyes closed at the first good drag of Turkish gold tobacco. All the stress and anger seemed to drain from me, leaving only the languorous feeling of my body.

I guess I drifted off because I woke with a start when the cigarette burned into my fingers. I dropped it, cursing lightly, and looked around. The bar was locked up tight and there was no one out on the street. No sign of a taxi either. Cursing again, I moved off the wall, and started to walk back towards the direction of the hotel. I talked to myself as I walked, cursing anyone and everyone I could think of for getting me into this situation, but mostly I cursed my own stupidity for not paying more attention.

I reached the alley where I'd heard the noises earlier and for some reason I looked down the dark area, wondering what it was I'd heard. A man stood near a truck, loading what looked like equipment into the bed. I must've made some noise because he looked my direction and I noticed the bass player from earlier. He stood under a dim light, but I'd memorized that body, that face, and there was no doubt it was him.

He raised a hand, a wave of sorts I guess, and I quickly waved back, trying to make my feet move my body away. His shout stopped what little movement I had made. "Hey! Red! Where'd your friends go?"

I turned slightly and took two steps into the alley but no further. I was still a good fifty feet from the man, and I could turn and run quickly if I needed to. I wasn't that drunk or that stupid. I knew to go closer would be putting myself in all sorts of possible danger. His remark both startled me and amused me. "How do you know I came with anyone? Or that they left?"

His laugh was sexy and contagious, echoing down the alley towards me. "I saw you when you came in. It's hard to miss five people in business suits walking into this dive."

I laughed myself, amused that he'd had the nerve to be so bold with a complete stranger. "I guess it would be. I liked the music so I stayed, any crime in that?"

The man moved closer, stepping further into the light, near the front of the truck. "So, you liked our music huh Red? Somehow you don't look the type to enjoy what we play."

"And somehow I thought someone who played your type of music wouldn't be so quick to judge a person by what clothes they have on," I shot back, turning to walk away.

"Oh come on Red, I didn't mean to insult you."

His tone was cajoling, teasing, easy. That tone stopped me in my tracks and I turned back with a slight smile. "Apology accepted. I did enjoy your band. Have a good night."

"Hey Red," he spoke softly but his words traveled to me easily, "you shouldn't walk through this area alone. If you want you can use my cell to call a cab and I'll wait right here with you until it gets here."

"And just how do I know that when I come to you to get said phone you won't grab me and trap me in your truck to have your way with me?"

His laugh was full and long this time. "Red, the day I have to force a woman to fuck me will be the day I put a shotgun to my head. I don't hurt women and I don't like men who do. If you'd like I'll walk halfway, put the phone on the ground and move back so you can pick it up."

A looked at him, curious and suspicious all at once. "Why are you being so nice to a total stranger? I'm not your responsibility you know."

"I know that, but I would feel real bad if I woke up tomorrow and there's your pretty face on the news with a story of how you'd been hurt or raped or murdered."

I thought that over for a moment before nodding my head. "Ok, I'm not so stupid that I can't see the logic in that. You'll come halfway then return to where you were?"

He raised three fingers of one hand and placed the other over his heart. "Scout's honor." He took the phone from his jeans pocket and walked slowly forward, stopping halfway down the dark alley to place the phone on the concrete.

I waited as he walked leisurely to the back of his truck and started loading big black boxes again. I moved quickly to pick up the phone and then realized I had no clue what number to dial. "It's in my phonebook under Yellow Cab," he said gruffly, holding the obviously heavy box.

I made the call, gave the dispatcher my location and ended the call. "They said it could be awhile. I'm sure you have other things you could be doing other than babysitting me."

"I'm sure there are other things I could be doing too, but none of them are as interesting as babysitting a good looking redhead in an alley. Trust me, this way I'll have a good story to tell my band mates at practice tomorrow."

I could have been making the biggest mistake of my life, but I instinctively trusted this man. I walked forward slowly, watching him the whole time, cell phone clutched tightly in my damp hand. He didn't move, just watched me walk, almost as if he was afraid if he made one little motion I would bolt and run.

I didn't run, I didn't stop, and I didn't stop watching him as I came towards him. When I was within arm's length of the man I reached out and held out the hand with the cell phone in it. He took it carefully from my hand, making sure not to touch me, probably so he wouldn't spook me. "Thank you for letting me use your phone. It was very nice of you."

"No reason to thank me Red. I should be thanking you for letting me spend some time in the company of a very beautiful woman with one hell of a sexy accent," he chuckled to lighten the tense feel of the moment and it worked well, gaining a responding laugh from me.

I was close enough now to see that he had very dark brown eyes. They were beautiful and intriguing, the kind of eyes most woman would swoon over. I wasn't immune to them either. But it was the intelligence and concern in them that won me over. I relaxed slightly and leaned a hip against the side of his beat up truck. "I should know you're name if you're going to be my babysitter," I stated, smiling easily.

"I'm not sure I should. You might take advantage of me, throw me in my truck and have your way with me," he teased, a twinkle in those deep brown eyes.

"Sounds suspicious. I mean, you're bigger than me, so I doubt I could throw you anywhere and there's no other reason you wouldn't want to tell me your name," I teased back.

"Got me there Red. My name's Brett," he bowed at the waist, very gentlemanly. "I should think that since you know my name I should know yours."

"Analise," I responded, making a fine curtsy to match his bow, "nice to meet you Brett."

He held out his hand and I took it cautiously, feeling his dampness meet mine. His skin was rough, and to my surprise I felt a jolt of attraction that almost scared me. It shouldn't have considering my thoughts earlier in the evening but I wasn't prepared to actually feel it in person. I'd figured it was a innocent fantasy but here that fantasy was in the flesh. I pulled my hand back quickly, wiping it on the fabric of my skirt to try and erase that tingle in my palm he'd left there.

"Sorry," he chuckled softly, "it's pretty hot out here. I should have dried my hand before I took yours. I wasn't thinking."

Shock registered in my eyes. He thought I'd wiped my hand because of the sweat on his palm, that he'd insulted me somehow. "No, don't apologize. I was wiping my palm because ..." My words died off because I couldn't think of a plausible excuse and the truth wouldn't do at all.

Brett moved to pick up another box, muscles straining with the weight. I couldn't help but look, watching them flex and bunch. It was quite a sight really, and I'm glad he'd gone silent because I wasn't sure I had enough breath to talk at that moment.

My reprieve didn't last for long. "So, I saw you watching me earlier. I'm sure you noticed me watching you too." He didn't look up as he said this, just continued moving the black box, which I now saw was a speaker, further into the truck.

It took me a minute to think of a response. "Actually I didn't notice that at all. But, yes, I was watching you, and the others too. As I said, you were all very good."

His smile was downright evil. "What color was the lead singer's hair?" he asked, tone completely innocent.

I was caught. I had no idea. I tried to remember, racked my brain for the answer but all I could remember was the sight of Brett's bare chest shining with sweat. Finally I just laughed and shrugged, trying to pretend it wasn't a big deal.

Brett grunted as he moved another box into the truck bed, sweat now dripping off his forehead. "You know, I hardly ever notice the people in the audience. Usually I'm so totally into the music that I don't know or care what's going on out there. It's like a zone you get into where nothing exists but the music. Funny thing is, I noticed you watching me from moment one. And I couldn't look away from you. I actually missed several beats of music on one song because I was staring at those bright green eyes. I never mess up."

I didn't know what to say. I know my mouth was hanging open stupidly but there was nothing coming out. Finally my brain woke up and I asked quietly, "What are you trying to get at here, Brett?"

"Just stating the facts, Red. I'm good at that. I don't know how to censor myself. Never wanted to learn how," he shrugged, turning back to his work.

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byDeclan Cravens© 15 comments/ 48198 views/ 5 favorites

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