A Beautiful Day Pt. 04

byjessica_tang_vonharper©

She snuck into the quiet cottage and collapsed into bed. It seemed as if she'd barely closed her eyes when the alarm went off two hours later. Rubbing her eyes, Sara pulled herself out of bed for another long day.

***

She slept in the hammock for two hours that day. Taloga didn't say a word.

The clock was creeping towards 2:30 and Sara was digging to expose a root when she noticed three naked Melepria men standing in the distance. They stood in a circle, having a conversation, none of them paying her the slightest bit of attention. Sara tried to focus on her work, but found that her gaze kept peeking in their direction, her eyes drawn to their dangling cocks.

Such strange organs, she thought, drooping towards the ground like wilting vines. But if she let her fingers be like drops of water, her fingertips splashing where the shaft protruded from the groin, dripping paths down towards the head... then the cock would bloom to life, rising into the air, growing, stiffening... she imagined herself kneeling in the middle of their circle, going from cock to cock, bringing them forth, having them swell beneath her fingers...

Sara quickly dropped her eyes back to her work. She felt a flush on her skin and her heartbeat was tapping rapidly in her chest. She shoveled furiously, tossing the dirt aside. When she had her root sample, she looked towards the men again, but they had moved on.

"I must leave you for a few minutes," Taloga spoke to her a short while later. "Would you like me to bring you anything? Another bottle of water, perhaps?"

Bring me a long Melepria cock, Sara thought. Out loud, she said, "Yes, more water. And another clean towel?"

"Of course," Taloga said. He nodded to her and left.

Sara went back to her work. Her phone chirped and she glanced at it.

An unknown number.

Leon, maybe?

She scrambled to answer it. "Hello?" she breathed.

"Sara?" It wasn't Leon. She knew the voice. It was Dr. Chen.

"Dr. Chen! Yes, this is Sara. How are you?"

"I'm fine, Sara. I just wanted to see how things were going. How's everything in the Perchuga Valley?"

"Well... everything's fine out here, actually. I'm close to halfway done with the inspection, and so far the trees have been scoring pretty high. I haven't noticed any serious issues with any of them... they're all healthy and thriving, and the sap is showing a yield in the high twenties, in some cases even thirty."

"I expected as much. They take their trees very seriously out there. Leon Papega knows as much about saganas as anyone, and he's a perfectionist when it comes to growing them."

"Yes," Sara said. "I can tell. I've seen his private laboratory. It's quite impressive."

"Oh, yes, isn't it? I've helped him some in its construction. Some expensive pieces of equipment in there, no doubt. But he wanted to spare no expense. He wanted anything he could get to help him make the next generation of saganas."

"Right. Definitely." Sara hesitated. "Doctor... actually, there's something I wanted to ask you..."

"Yes, Sara?"

"You know, Linda Baldwin from legal is here with me. She's made it clear that I'm not here to collaborate with Pariva... that I should stay out of their business. But... you know... Leon really is very interested in saganas, and he really loves to talk about them..."

Dr. Chen chuckled. "Ah, yes. He certainly does, and I imagine he must be quite pleased to be able to speak with someone who knows as much about saganas as he does." Dr. Chen paused, as if he was considering his next words carefully. "Sara, we both work for a corporation. TTX wants to make money, of course they do, and the leadership of the company has to consider the financial aspect of every decision. But sometimes people in corporations get too focused on the little details of the financial side of things, and after a while, it starts to distract them from the bigger picture."

"What's the bigger picture?" Sara asked.

"That the batteries we make are changing the world for the better. The more energy we can cram into a battery, the more energy we can move from source to destination. We can have solar farms in the California desert supplying power to houses in southeast Asia. We can have warehouses storing power to last us for decades. The financial people, they want to make sure they squeeze every penny out of each generation of sagana trees. Of course they do. But the important thing, really, is to make sure that sagana trees get dramatically better with each generation. That's what we need to work on collectively. If we do that... there will be plenty of money for everyone, believe me."

"Okay."

"You're doing an amazing job there. I have every confidence in you."

"Thanks," Sara said. "Everything's fine. Don't worry."

***

"What were you planning to do tomorrow?" Linda asked Sara over dinner. Leon was still away, and they ate around the table at the cottage.

"Section E5 of the Kokaya orchard," Sara answered.

"Change of plan," Linda said. "No inspection tomorrow. Instead, you and Adam are going to head back to the Hilton in Melep City and check out. It's a waste of money to keep those hotel rooms when we're staying here at Leon's guest cottage, right? You both agree that we're comfortable here in this cottage?"

"Right," Adam said. "Very comfortable."

"Are you checking out of your room, too?" Sara asked.

"No," Linda said. "I'll still need mine. I'm going to drive back next week to attend a few meetings at the Pariva building."

Sara took a sip from her water bottle. A two hour drive to the hotel. Two hours at the hotel, probably, assuming they ate lunch there. Two hours back. If they left at 8 in the morning, they would be back before 2. She could nap on the drive. It made for a fairly light day.

That was good. She would need a day of rest after the work she intended to do in Leon's laboratory that night.

***

Sara set an alarm on her phone for 4 AM, to remind her to return to the cottage, and it was good that she did, because she could have easily worked until sunrise. At first, she had felt her sleep debt weighing on her as she moved around the lab, but quickly she lost herself in the soil and plant analysis. The equipment made everything so easy, and she knew that she was making progress at least four times faster than she would have in her own lab. Leon's vast greenhouses filled with plants also made things easier. Aside from a few exceptions, Sara was able to find every plant that she wanted to test, and she had quickly deduced Leon's organization method so that she was able to find the plants quickly.

When the alarm finally went off, the top plant on Sara's list was a vine called a red creeper. It seemed to fit together so well with Leon's secret sagana hybrid, sucking the toxins out of the soil, replacing them with a chemical composition that the hybrid would thrive on. Only one problem. Red creepers were parasitic. The vine would slowly wrap around the sagana and kill it.

But maybe she could figure out a way around that.

Sara turned off the alarm on her phone. She left a paper by the microscopic, with "Red Creeper?" written in red ink and turned off the lights and equipment. As she walked back to the cottage, she could feel the sleepiness seeping into her limbs again, pulling on her eyelids.

At least she had three hours to sleep. If she woke up at seven, she and Adam could be on the road by eight. The vehicle was supplied by Pariva, and Adam would drive. Sara would nap.

Why, by dinner time, she might even feel well rested!

She fell into bed as soon as she reached her room and slept wonderfully. The bed felt cozy and although her alarm woke her at seven, she felt like she'd enjoyed some very productive rest. The sun was shining through the trees outside her window, and Sara slid it open, letting in some of the cool morning air. She still wore the t-shirt and shorts that she'd worn while working in the laboratory, so she threw the bathrobe over it and went outside towards the bathroom.

She passed Adam in the hall. He was already dressed. "I'm going to have a cup of coffee, then see about the car," he said. "Do you know where the parking lot is where they park those long blue trucks? A few blocks that way?" He pointed.

"Yes, I know it."

"I'll meet you there at eight. Okay?"

"Sounds good." That gave her plenty of time. She went to the bathroom and rinsed quickly in the shower, to wash off the smell of soil from her late night's work. She quickly accomplished her morning bathroom routines, then went back to her room and changed into a long sleeve button-up shirt and black shorts. She rolled the sleeves up to her elbows. Downstairs, she grabbed a couple slices of toast with jam and drank a cup of coffee. She was out the door at 7:50.

The parking lot where Adam had the car parked was a ten minute walk to the south. The sun had just crested the mountains to the east. The morning was filled with the sounds of birds, calling and chattering from the trees. Sara enjoyed the stroll.

She took a right turn and saw the place Adam had indicated, a parking lot with a small gas station, where Pariva stored and fueled trucks that would travel between the valley and Melep City. She saw Adam waiting next to a shiny black SUV, and waved at him as she walked up.

"Here I am," she said. "Are we ready?"

Adam shook his head. "Not quite yet."

"No? Is there something you still need to do?"

"Not me." He gazed at her. "You're the one that's not quite ready."

"Me?" Sara considered what they intended to do. Drive to the hotel, grab the remaining things out of their rooms, check out, drive back. It didn't seem very complicated. "What? Am I forgetting something?"

"Sara, it's a long drive back to the hotel," Adam said. "We're looking at five, maybe six hours together. I could spend that time with Dr. Olson, the celebrated botanist from TTX Energy Solutions, but to be perfectly honest, I'd rather spend it with that beautiful Melepria woman I met at the hotel on my first day here. Do you know the one I mean?" He gazed at her meaningfully.

Sara opened her mouth to tell him she had no idea who he was talking about. But then she understood and her eyes widened. She stared at him, but he just looked back at her calmly.

Sara glanced around quickly. No one else was around. She looked back at Adam. He was still watching her, saying nothing.

Sara met his gaze. Her hands rose slowly to the front of her shirt. She began to undo her buttons.

Adam watched in silence as she undid button after button, finally pulling open her shirt to reveal her white bra. She slipped the shirt off her shoulders and Adam politely held out his hand, accepting it from her. He carefully folded the shirt over his arm while she unhooked her bra. She pulled that off as well and passed it to him.

Next she undid her shorts and pushed them, along with her panties, down her legs. She stepped out of them and gave them to Adam. He removed her phone, wallet and hotel room key from the pocket of her shorts and put them in the front pocket of his pants, then separated her panties from the shorts and added both items to the folded stack balanced on his arm.

Sara stood on her right foot while she reached back to pull the shoe and sock from her left foot, then switched and removed the shoe and sock from her right foot. She put the socks in the shoes and set them at the top of the stack of clothing. Finally, she reached up and undid her pony tail, removing the tie and shaking her hair loose. She dropped the tie in one of her shoes.

The sun warmed her bare skin as she stood naked and barefoot in front of Adam. "Am I ready now?" she asked.

Adam's eyes dipped, openly admiring her body. "Yes," he spoke under his breath. "Perfect." He returned his gaze to her face, steadying the stack of clothes on his arm. "Just let me run these back to the cottage. I'll be right back."

Sara nodded. She turned and watched him as he strolled away with her clothes, leaving her standing naked on the sidewalk. She glanced around anxiously, but at least for the moment she was alone.

She thought, "What in the world did I just do?"

A two hour drive to Melep City. Naked, sitting next to Adam for two hours. It would be awkward, but she supposed she could handle it, as long as she didn't distract him into crashing. They would finally reach the hotel; the valet would open her door and she would step out naked. Through the lobby, to the elevators, up to the hotel room. She had some clothes in her room; once she reached it, she could get dressed again. But until then, she had committed herself to being naked, naked, naked.

Maybe they would stop at the hotel's coffee shop for lunch. Would she get dressed before? Or would she wait until after? Sitting in the coffee shop, ordering lunch, wearing nothing at all... could she do that?

"I must be losing my mind." The cool morning breeze danced over her bare skin. It had happened so quickly. One minute she was dressed, the next she had stripped completely, and she hadn't even hesitated. Had Adam seen something in her face as she walked up? Had he known that she would eagerly remove her clothes, if only he asked her to?

"Losing my mind," she repeated. But she couldn't deny that she felt excited. She recalled the thrill of those drinks in the bar with Adam, her second night in Meleprija; how turned on it had made her, to be naked in front of everyone, so turned on she had gotten herself off in the elevator on the way back up to her room. Maybe that's why she'd surrendered her clothes to Adam so easily. She was chasing that same feeling of wild abandon.

She walked over to the SUV and leaned against it. The metal was cold against her shoulder blades. A truck drove by on the street a block away, but the driver didn't look in her direction. Sara looked to her left, towards the cottage. Where was Adam? What was taking him so long?

He appeared in the distance, emerging from behind a line of trees, walking briskly in her direction. Sara straightened and started to smile, anticipating his arrival. But then the smile abruptly dropped from her face. She heard a voice call, "Adam! Wait!", and recognized Linda's voice. Linda appeared from the right, walking straight towards Adam, on a route to intercept him. Adam slowed, waiting for the tall blonde woman.

Linda! Foolishly, Sara's first instinct was to look around for her clothes, which were, of course, no longer there. Adam had just placed all of her clothes back in her room. Her next instinct was to hide. Sara tried the back door to the SUV, and was relieved when it opened. She jumped in and closed the door behind her. The windows were tinted, and Sara sank down low in the seat. The car smelled new inside, and the seats had a soft grey covering.

Linda's voice became audible as she and Adam approached the SUV. "No, you won't even need to drive. Taloga has said he'll drive us," Linda was saying. "It makes sense to go all together. You and Sara can check out of the hotel while Taloga drives me to pick up my documents. Then we'll pick you up again and drive back."

"Certainly, certainly," Adam replied.

"Oh, here comes Taloga," Linda said. "But where's Sara? Didn't you say she was here?"

"Yes, she was waiting here. Maybe she had to head back to the cottage for something."

Sara peeked out the window. She could see Linda standing right there, barely five meters away. Taloga was walking up the road, and Linda was waving at him. She could see Adam walking around the front of the car. He passed the front passenger door, instead reaching for the handle of the back door. He pulled the door open and immediately saw Sara naked and hunched down in the backseat. He stared at her in surprise.

Do something! Sara urged him with her eyes. She didn't dare speak out loud, for fear that Linda would hear. She peeked out the window at Linda, then looked back at Adam, gesturing franticly at her nude state. Surely he understood the trouble she would be in if Linda caught her like this?

Adam straightened, looking over the top of the SUV. "Oh, here she is," he called out to Linda. "Sara's just waiting in the back seat."

Sara's eyes widened. Her mouth opened but she couldn't speak.

"Why don't you take the front seat?" Adam said to Linda. "I'll slide in the back with Sara."

"Are you sure you'll have enough leg room?" Linda asked as she came around the front of the vehicle

"I'll be fine," Adam replied. He bent down and slipped into the SUV, sitting in the back seat just an arm's distance away from Sara. He closed the door behind him, then looked at her and shrugged.

Linda pulled open the front passenger door and leaned into the car. She turned towards the back seat, on the verge of delivering a greeting to Sara. But as soon as she saw Sara, she froze, and her greeting was forgotten. "Sara!" She stared at Sara's body. "My god, woman! Where are your clothes?"

Sara felt like she was shrinking against the side of the vehicle. She tried to meet Linda's gaze, but quickly averted her eyes to the side. "I'm seeing what its like to be Melepria today," she said quietly.

"You're what?" Linda looked bewildered.

Taloga opened the driver's seat and entered the SUV. His reaction to Sara was the exact opposite of Linda's; he nodded to her, as if oblivious to her lack of clothes. "Good morning, Dr. Sara."

"Good morning..." Sara replied weakly.

"Sara, you can't possibly go to Melep City looking like that!" Linda stared at her as if she was crazy.

Taloga frowned. "It is acceptable," he interjected. "In our culture, the body is not considered taboo as it is in your country. She is free to wear nothing if she chooses. No one will object."

Linda's eyes flickered towards Taloga, then back to Sara. "Well, of course, I know that... but I never thought Sara, of all people..." The blonde lawyer clearly had more that she wanted to say, but now she was in a position where she didn't want to argue with Taloga. She took a deep breath. "Sara, can we have a discussion about this later?"

"Okay."

Linda pressed her lips together, then asked, "You have your passport and room key, right?"

Sara nodded. "Adam has them."

Linda's eyes flashed towards Adam. "Oh, Adam has them, does he?" Her look clearly conveyed that she would be having a discussion with him as well.

"Are we ready then?" Taloga asked. When no one replied, he started the SUV. He pulled away from the curb and headed for the road that led to Melep City.

Adam pulled out his phone to look at it. Sara reached out and snatched it from his hand. She went to the text message screen and tapped a message with her fingers, then passed the phone back to him.

The message read: "Why did you tell her I was in the car? You knew I was like this. Why didn't you help me get my clothes back?"

Adam read her message. He quickly tapped a response, which he showed to her: "I didn't want you to get dressed. I prefer you nude."

Sara stared at the bold words. She was shocked that he would state it so openly, yet it really wasn't much different than what he'd said earlier, when he'd implied that she wasn't ready to go because she still wore clothes. He preferred her nude, of course he did, how could she be outraged by that when she had willingly stripped for him?

Before she could consider an answer, Adam pulled the phone back and tapped a new message. He showed it to her: "Why don't you ask Taloga to drive you back to the cottage? You can still get dressed if that's what you'd like."

Sara realized this was true. No one would mind if she asked them to turn around so she could get dressed. It would cost them twenty minutes at the most, and they weren't on a set schedule. Linda would certainly approve of the idea.

Sara took the phone and quickly typed: "It's too late." She didn't elaborate, only passed the phone back to Adam and turned away from him to look out the window. They were passing through the ring of the sagana orchards, and Sara could see the trees stretching out in an infinite shadowy canopy. She let her hands rest on the smooth skin of her upper thighs, and felt the shoulder belt crossing between her breasts. She knew that Adam was gazing down at her body, and if she turned her head quickly, she could catch him in the act. But she didn't.

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