tagErotic CouplingsOf Various Appetites

Of Various Appetites

byunexplored_worlds©

There's no real story behind this one; basically, I was reading stoic philosophy and got horny.

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My alarm goes off at 5:30 every morning. As my routine dictates, I get my lithe naked form out of bed, drink some water, slip into my running clothes, lace up my shoes, and I'm out the door by 5:45. Exactly 35 minutes later I'm back; I shower, make myself some coffee, grab an apple, and sit down at the computer to continue working on my thesis.

This has been my routine for the last 11 months. My life has become razor-focused; I work 5 days a week, leaving three evenings free for social engagements (until 8:30 of course, to guarantee myself enough sleep). I spend one day a week with family and one day a week running errands and cleaning. I write blog posts or read during the rest of my free time. That's it.

I've laid out rules for myself. One day a week of social media, just to keep up with the important stuff. No alcohol, desserts, fried foods, soda, or animal products (at the risk of appearing orthorexic). No shopping, wearing bright colors, showing skin. And, hardest of all: no sex or masturbation.

This all came after a year battling alcoholism and hedonism that nearly cost me my career; I had left yet another abusive relationship situation and I was deep in yet another mental health crisis. Three-fourths of the way through a pint of ice cream, having had three shot-and-beer combos at the bar by myself, I decided I'd had enough. I got sober, embarked on an insufferable phase of reading the Stoics, and cultivated an equally insufferable level of self-restraint that led to the most productive, but possibly the most boring, year of my young life.

At 27, I was finally finishing up my PhD in cancer biology. I had a job lined up after graduation at a prominent cancer research institution, helping to spearhead a new division on metabolism and cancer, in the hopes of finding dietary, environmental, and lifestyle interventions that prevent the earliest stages of cancer from developing. Over the years I became frustrated with the usual approaches; aside from a handful of pharmaceuticals, it seemed pointless to intervene with drugs on a disease that reveals itself only after years of quiet lurking in the dark recesses of the body. I wanted to revolutionize the field by revolutionizing the very way our society thinks about health; someday, I hoped to head the FDA and make this advice into policy.

Pushing away all distractions in pursuit of this singular goal was surprisingly easy. Whenever I'd get distracted by a donut or a youtube video I wanted to watch, I simply wrote down in my journal what it was that I was avoiding thinking about, and where my frustration lay with the problem at hand. Yet over time, I found this method worked for all but one of my appetites: sex.

As my body tightened up from the exercise and wholesome diet, I began having to actively avoid eye contact with men in the streets; people noticed, even through my clothing, that the space underneath my clothing was occupied by a toned and healthy physique; and even if it wasn't visible, I could feel it: the space between my thighs, the way my t-shirts skimmed my flat core; the way my skin stretched over my slender neck and jaw when I turned my head; the slimness of my fingers and wrists poking out from under my fall layers. It turned me on to know what I looked like underneath; so much so that there were days when a passing glance from a sinewy construction worker would overwhelm me. I began wearing my big sweater nearly every day, just to keep my own desire in check; on particularly bad weeks, I got my groceries delivered to avoid having to get out of sweatpants. Then one day when I came down to sign for my package I found standing before me a pornographically muscular delivery man, and that put an end to that plan. I put the groceries away, took a quick shower, and skipped dinner in an effort to starve out the inner demon that was dragging me back down into carnal desires that did nothing to elevate me toward my purest intellectual goals.

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Then one day, about 3 months before I was about to defend my thesis, I was working in the office just like any other day. Surrounded by jovial yet (as a rule) dowdy coworkers, it was a pleasantly un-distracting environment. Or at least it had been. On that one day, we got a new coworker: a postdoc, about 40 years old, an Italian man with dark thick curls wearing a navy v-neck sweater that brought out his blue eyes and clung to his pecs. I couldn't tell if he had chest hair; a white and burgundy gingham collared shirt was modestly buttoned up underneath, crisp and perfectly fitted, tucked into gray slim-fit slacks that I was sure encased a spectacular ass. When he walked in the room smelled different, not like cologne, but like good hygiene and masculinity. I didn't know masculinity had such a distinctive odor until that moment; whatever it was, the air in the room changed. I was the only woman in there, and all the men were straight; still, as he walked in, I could see my other 3 male coworkers eyeing him up and down, aware that this man was a different beast from them.

The new guy trailed behind my boss, the head of the lab, who seemed unfazed by this man's sexy aura; I'm sure she wasn't dabbling in stoicism as I was. She knocked twice on the doorframe as a courtesy before walking in with her delicious new protege in tow; as we all swiveled in our chairs to face them, I felt our collective emotional phases sync up: annoyance at the interruption, surprise at the newcomer, surprise at said newcomer's level of elevation above the other very mortal males in the room, and attempts not to soak through our panties. Okay fine, that last one was all me. I was in a damn haze.

"Hey folks!" Dr. Wright chirped. "I want you all to meet Luca, our new postdoc."

I felt a moment of giddiness when I realized that this beautiful creature was going to speak, and I would hear its voice for the first time in my life. I drew an involuntary sharp breath before he opened his mouth and in a low voice as smooth as glass, let out simple yet friendly: "Hello." He glanced around at us, making eye contact; after he made eye contact with me for the first time, he must have seen something in my expression, because he seemed to be about to glance away but then changed his mind at the last second, his gaze lingering on my face a split second longer.

My mouth was watering. I swallowed hard. I tried not to look at his crisp slacks again as I tried to focus on what Dr. Wright was saying. Oh yeah, she was introducing all of us by position and expertise: "Paul, a first year graduate student doing his second rotation with us, his project is on pathway modeling. We're hoping he has a good experience with us so we get to keep him. And Amir here is a technician working on standardizing our patient database, we're really lucky to have him... Jamal is our other postdoc, he's doing a translational collaboration with Dr. Mendel nearby at Methodist, so he's in and out of the lab. And Carrie here--" (she turned to me and Luca redirected his disarmingly blue eyes to look at me, as I tried to maintain an air of casual friendliness) "--she's our senior grad student, graduating in I think 4 months... is it 3 months now Carrie?" It took me a full second of grinning inanely and nodding slowly before I realized that I had been asked a direct question, which, as courtesy dictates, merits a direct response. "H--uh... yeah 3 months now. Yeah wow, time flies..." On the verge of pathetically babbling, I shut my mouth.

"Yeah I don't know what we'll do without you! Carrie is my very first graduate student, we've published 2 papers together, one of them in Nature... though it's not even your first Nature paper is it Carrie? Well I don't need to give you her whole CV, Luca, but she's a rare talent..." I blushed. I didn't feel that special, and I sure didn't feel I deserved the praise after I'd sat in Wright's office almost a year ago telling her I didn't think I could stay in grad school anymore, and she herself had to talk me down from quitting. But nevertheless, I guess I had done something with my time. I sat up a bit straighter, propped up slightly by her praise.

Luca spoke, interrupting my thought stream: "Well, I hope I can keep up. It's very nice to meet you all." He radiated so much warmth of persona that it made my face flush. With one last glance at me, he followed Dr. Wright's lead as she motioned him out the door.

Surprisingly, the reaction from the rest of my officemates was less warm. "Ugh she's gonna squeeze him in here isn't she..." Jamal groaned.

I rolled my eyes. "Oh come on, you don't actually need two desks."

"Sure, I can't put my feet up on this one, I need it for my computer!"

"Maybe we can put an end to that smelly practice finally, huh Jamal?" Amir teased. (His desk was adjacent to the one onto which Jamal was resting his bestockinged feet; he made his displeasure at Jamal's uncouth habit known early and often, but the two had worked together for years and had built a good rapport otherwise.)

"I gotta admit it's pretty gross," I chimed in, happy to be distracted from my distraction.

Shy quiet Paul just glanced sidewise over at us bantering and, in typical Paul fashion, said nothing.

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Sure enough, Luca was squeezed in between Jamal and Amir, where Jamal's feet used to sit. Nobody told Luca about the feet.

As for me, I started working from home more. It had been 9 and a half months since I'd last touched my vibrator, and I wasn't about to break my streak for the next guy who sashays into the office batting his beautiful dark lashes and flexing his perfect physique, trailing a pheromonal cloud that could drive me to the brink of insanity.

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I had a dream about Luca. I was working late at the office and he came in around 10 PM. Nobody else was around. He asked me to come with him, and we walked around the empty corridors of the building. I suddenly noticed we were wearing running clothes and were jogging together, his hair bouncing up and down with each step. He told me he liked my running form; that running must be how I got this beautiful body. I asked him how he got his (damn! if only i was as smooth in real life!); in response he stopped running and grabbed me, pulling me against his taut form, kissing me deeply. We were suddenly standing in my bedroom, and he was wearing those gray slacks, and I was wearing nothing. He reached a hand down and with a thin dainty finger caressed me between my legs.

I woke up and I was touching myself; it was my own thin dainty finger. My heart was pounding and my mouth was dry. I pulled my hand away; after a few deep breaths, I reached over to grab the water glass I always keep by the bed and finished it. I turned on the light and journaled for a while, trying to re-focus my thoughts on my thesis and on my future. It was a long while before I felt calm enough to get back to sleep.

I stopped sleeping naked after that.

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The day of my thesis defense came and went. I was wearing a tight (yet oh-so-professional) knee-length sleeveless sheath dress that showed off my hard-earned physique, with a fitted blazer over it; a touch of makeup; and my brown hair blow-dried and clipped back confidently. I looked as pulled-together as I felt.

Until the post-defense celebration. Suddenly I found myself drinking and eating a decadent chocolate mousse cake. Drinking champagne in the conference room with my lab, all 6 of us, at 3 in the afternoon... it was surreal. Dr. Wright had sprung for the good stuff, and it was my first sip of booze in a year. Then she cut us each a slice of cake; again, my first dessert in a year (on my 27th birthday I'd treated myself to an extra large fruit salad... if that counted). My body remembered what to do in the presence of alcohol and sugar; I was relaxed and jovial as ever, laughing along with my lab mates as they divulged to the poor Luca what exactly had been rubbed all over his desk before he'd come.

"You Americans are animals... I can't believe it! And you took your shoes off and everything?"

I still couldn't look directly at Luca when talking to him, but I could banter along. "In the summer he wears sandals, you bet there was some bare foot action on that desk!"

Dr. Wright wiped tears of laughter from her eyes as she cracked up. "That's disgusting..." she squeaked out.

"Ah well I was being polite by not bringing fish in to the office for lunch, but I think now I will... and I'll heat it in the microwave too..." Luca threatened.

Amir and Jamal simultaneously roared their objections. "Ah no that's over the line man!"

"I'll rub my feet on your keyboard when you're not looking!"

Even Paul pitched in. "Please don't..."

"Don't worry." Amir clapped his hand on Paul's back protectively. "If he does, I have a plan. Top secret."

"What might that be?"

"Secret! I can't tell you!"

"Ahhh, he's bluffing! Can't beat fish in microwave!"

I was in the highest spirits, having left my graduate student life behind me less than 2 hours ago, watching my coworkers get steadily drunker on a Wednesday afternoon on campus. My body no longer wanted intoxication from the champagne; though it certainly felt the effects of half a glass. Or else something/someone else was causing the woozy feeling that came over me whenever my eyes found blue ones glancing over at me from across the room, warm and smiling. My body looked good in the dress; I knew it did, and I could tell he was trying not to check me out as well. Even though I'd spent a year avoiding all carnal distractions, I started to wonder... maybe, just as i was restrainedly sipping the champagne and nibbling at the cake... could i have just a little taste?

"So when do you start your postdoc? It's at the Evans Cancer Center right?" Amir asked.

"Um, I'm leaving in 2 months. Gotta finish up paper number 3 here."

"NATURE paper number 3 I hope..." my boss said pointedly. I hoped never to drink with my boss again.

Luca leaned forward in his seat. "Wait, Evans? I have a couple friends from graduate school working there now."

"Oh yeah?" I asked. "Any with the Integrative Prevention Initiative?"

"IPI! Yeah my friend Francesca works there, she's nice. I'll connect you."

I noticed that everyone else had gone off to get seconds on cake; it was just Luca and me talking, for the first time since we'd met. He was leaning forward in his chair toward me; the directness of his stare threw me off. Without other lifelines, I could only bear to stare down at my hands cupping my half-empty champagne glass and my picked-at dessert, feeling the full intensity of my feelings bubbling unbearably close to the surface, like those tiny bubbles in my champagne just before they burst. Luca was still looking at me though, expecting a response; I squeezed one out. "Uh... wow that's really awesome of you, yeah I'd love to get her info. It'll be nice to have a friend out there."

"Great." He lowered his voice a little. "So maybe you could give me your number and I'll pass it on?" He saw me look up at him with a longing he must have mistook for surprise. "Or I can give her your email. Don't worry, Ca-rrie... " (I melted a bit more when he said my name playfully like that) "...this isn't a ploy to be creepy."

I laughed a little too loudly. "Ah, well... darn." I looked up at him briefly, his smiling eyes too beautiful to take, and looked back down.

"Okay Carrie," (damn he really needed to stop saying my name like that...) "how about you take my number, and you can text me if you want, and I'll connect you. If you don't, I'll just give her your email." This time, it was shock he was reading on my face, and not longing masked as such. This was such a subtle way to give me an out, I almost missed it; he was letting me know that he wanted to connect me with my future colleague first and foremost, but also that along the way, he wouldn't mind having my number. He was saying, "I hope this isn't taken as sexual harassment; and if you turn me down, no harm no foul; I'll still do this professional favor for you." It was the smoothest most gentlemanly thing he could have done.

But I was saying nothing.

"Carrie? Um... have I made you uncomfortable?"

I smiled at him. "You couldn't possibly."

He smiled, and then entered his number into my waiting phone.

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Later in the afternoon, after I'd gotten home and kicked off my shoes, spoken on the phone with my entire family and friends from back home, and put Bojack Horseman on in the background as I munched on my dinner (a giant salad, to counter the overly-rich cake I'd just had), my phone buzzed.

It was a text. From Luca.

"Hey C, I passed your name and number and email onto Fran, she's excited to have a know a coworker out there too :)"

I quickly sent back "Thanks so much you're the best!! :D :D :) :P". I instantly regretted the rapidity of my response.

Until I saw the ellipses indicating that he was typing just as rapidly. They disappeared for a bit, then reappeared. Finally a full-fleged message appeared. "Celebratory drink?"

I paused. I didn't want another drink; I was satisfied. But the thought of seeing him... well, what was holding me back anymore? Maybe we could meet for food... but I was in the middle of dinner. Of COURSE I wanted a celebratory drink now. A part of me wanted to invite him over; in my mind I imagined just how little time it would take for both of us to convey that we wanted each other, and to remove this pesky dress. But that seemed inappropriate.

I couldn't think of a better plan than getting a drink. I could always get a club soda.

Knowing he lived just a handful of blocks away, I texted him the name of our neighborhood watering hole, even though it was probably karaoke night: "McSweeny's in 15?"

He texted a thumbs up.

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Luca was sitting at the bar, wearing his tidy professional uniform of a v-neck sweater over a small-patterned button-up with slacks and some sleek but comfortable-looking loafers. He hugged me when I, now wearing slightly distressed stone-washed jeans and a gray drapey t-shirt under a knit bomber with black plimsoles, finally approached him. It struck me that my outfit was distinctly American and that his was distinctly European.

"Congratulations, doctor!" Luca shouted over the karaoke fiasco in the background: "Everybody" by Backstreet Boys, sung by three drunk bros to a co-ed table of their friends, all dancing and hollering. "What does a doctor drink?"

"You tell me, you've been one for longer!"

"Ah well now you can be let in on the secret doctor drink."

"Oh... there's a secret doctor drink?" I laughed when he nodded. "Well for me it's a club soda with lime... is that it?"

"You sure? Anything you want tonight, on me!"

"Soda is fine."

"Good choice. Two," he motioned to the bar tender standing nearby with two fingers. "I'm not trying to get you drunk, I'm just giving you the option to celebrate how you want."

"Eh, it was mainly an excuse to get out of the house and hang out with you." Ah crap... was that too direct? His shocked expression said it might be.

"You know for a long time I thought you didn't like me. You didn't talk to me much..."

I let out an uncomfortable guffaw. Busted. I changed the subject. "Well and anyways... tonight was my first time drinking in a year and we ended up talking about Jamal's feet for an hour... I think I'm all set for another year."

He laughed and wrinkled his nose. "I ate off that desk!"

"Well now you know better... I know a fantastic salmon recipe, by the way... it tastes great reheated!"

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