A sincere thanks to LadyCibelle who helped me with this story.
It was a hot and muggy Atlanta summer day as I slowly walked to the second floor of my apartment complex. The morning had gone well; five sales calls and two of those turned out to be winners. My commission check would be a big one next month.
It was a relatively new apartment complex—a lot of singles and parties—and I was glad I had decided to splurge and rent the two-bedroom model. I rationalized at the time that the second bedroom would be my office and vaguely I thought I might get a tax write-off also. The small gym and large pool made meeting other singles easy.
In my first four months at the apartment it was relatively easy to get dates. All the single women wanted to test out the new tenant. However, from my view, none of the women seemed to be keepers, so I kept my options open and continued to party hard.
I kept in shape at the gym and worked hard in my sales territory, which paid off both in money and attracted the attention of the regional sales manager who spotted my sales volume.
Life was good and uncomplicated.
My head was down as I daydreamed about spending my well earned money when I heard someone knocking on a door. At first I thought it was my apartment, but it was Carol's door, which was two apartments down from mine.
A woman stood in front of Carol's door and knocked again. She was about five-foot seven-inches tall with dirty blond hair. She wore a somewhat heavy skirt and coat over a blouse that must have been warm in the summer heat. A small, black rolling suitcase was next to her.
I walked up and said, "Hi."
She jumped and turned towards me; I had surprised her.
"Hey, I'm sorry I startled you. Are you looking for Carol?"
She looked at me before answering. I could see her face clearly now. Along with the dirty blond hair she had blue eyes, high cheek bones and a pixy nose. Those attractive body parts were marred by the sweat on her face, hair in disarray that needed washing, and a body frame that suggested too skinny. She was obviously exhausted.
She had a low, sexy-sounding voice as she answered, "I'm a friend of Carol's and came for the weekend to visit her, but she isn't home even though I told her when I would get here."
I replied, "I'm a friend of Carol's and live two doors down. Carol's mom had a heart attack two days ago and Carol rushed home to Chicago to be with her. I guess she forgot to call you."
"Oh shit," she whispered.
Selling is my occupation and reading people comes with the job. I looked at this woman's face and saw disappointment turning into despair with a tinge of panic. I thought, "She's seconds away from tears or worse."
Impulsively I blurted, "I'm Phil Stockton. Why don't you come to my place and have a cold drink?"
She stared at my face, but it was obvious she hadn't heard me. Panic was now winning over despair.
I grabbed her arm and suitcase and pulled her towards my apartment. She didn't resist.
I sat her in a kitchen chair, turned down the thermostat to seventy, and filled a glass with ice and water. She took the glass and drained it. I refilled it and sat across from her.
"It's none of my business, but my guess is that you need a friend right now."
She stared at the table top and nodded her head. The first tears ran down her face.
"Hey, my name is Phil; what's yours?"
"Holly," she whispered.
"Well Holly, things can't be that bad."
She lifted her head and looked at me. The tears had highlighted her blue eyes. She blushed and stammered, "I've spent the last two days on five different buses. The only possessions I have are in my suitcase and I used the rest of my money to pay for the taxi to get here, and I look and feel like shit."
I quickly said with a smile, "Holly, don't hold back. Just really tell me about your serious problems."
I saw her first, brief smile, but then she lowered her face and stared again at the table.
"Holly, look at me."
She raised her head and stared at me.
"This is not the time to make decisions or even talk about them. I have a sofa bed in my office. You're going to take the longest, hottest shower of your life and then take a nap. I'll get you some towels and a robe and there is a clean toothbrush and shampoo in the guest bathroom. By the time you get out of the shower, I'll be gone making some sales calls. I'll wake you when I get back and we'll have dinner here. Then with a glass of wine or two along with the food, you're going back to bed and sleep until morning. Then we'll talk about your minor problems."
"Holly, you will. Now stand up and follow me."
Like a little kid she stood up and followed me. I pointed out the office bedroom, the bathroom, and showed her the towels and robe.
"Take your shower. When you're through, your bed will be open and made. I'm taking the phone off the hook and the front door will be locked. I'll wake you at dinner time."
Without a word she walked into the bathroom and shut the door.
I quickly opened the bed. The sheets were clean and I took two pillows and a light blanket from the closet and placed them on the bed.
As I took her suitcase from the kitchen to the office, I heard the shower water start. I left the apartment and double locked the door.
Holly must have been a lucky charm for me—three more sales calls and one more winner. This day had been the best sales day in my career.
After the third sales call I went to my local bar and sipped some beers waiting for the time to pass and wondering about my current situation. She was obviously in a tough spot with an unknown background. She wasn't skinny by choice; it was that she hadn't been eating much. I wondered if she was tough enough to rebound from whatever or whoever had slammed her.
Eventually, I left the bar and went to the grocery store. Two huge steaks, baking potatoes, sour cream, butter, and the ingredients for a salad seemed to be the right combination.
I quietly let myself into my apartment. In the kitchen I turned on the oven and popped in the baking potatoes.
The door to the office was half open. I went to it and looked inside. Holly was sleeping with her back to the door. The sheet had fallen to below her waist; it was obvious she was sleeping nude.
I stared at her naked back and then down to the swell of her bare hips and the top of her ass. Maybe it's just me but a female's bare back is an extremely erotic picture; nature has a way of taking over—my cock was hard and my thoughts were not pure.
"You really are an asshole Phil," I thought to myself.
I quietly shut the door and went back to the kitchen. One hour later the salad was made, the white wine chilled, the red wine open and breathing, and the charcoals in the barbecue were lit.
I went to the office and knocked. "Holly, wake up," I yelled.
Twice more I tried with the same result.
I opened the door and looked in. She had rolled over and was now on her side facing me. The sheet was still down by her waist and I saw her naked breasts. They were bigger than I had expected with small areolas and somewhat large nipples that were now soft.
I walked up the bed and pulled the sheet up to her neck. Her face, without the stress of her problems, was relaxed and prettier than I first thought.
I stepped back to the door and knocked loudly and yelled, "Holly, time to eat."
Finally she stirred and muttered, "Wanna sleep."
"Holly, open your eyes."
Her eyes finally squinted open. I could tell she remembered me.
I said, "I know you're tired, but you are hungry too. Go wash your face and come out to the kitchen. The steaks will be ready in twenty minutes. Are you going to get up?"
"But I'm really sleepy," she whined.
I repeated, "Dinner in twenty minutes. If I don't see you in the kitchen in five minutes, I'm going to find out how ticklish you are."
He eyes popped open. "You wouldn't?"
I grinned and replied, "I don't think you want to find out."
I closed the door and went back to the kitchen. A minute later I heard her door open and she went into the bathroom.
A few minutes later she entered the kitchen. She had brushed her hair that had regained some gloss from the shampoo. She was wearing a T-shirt with Daffy Duck on the front. The shirt was short exposing two inches of her flat stomach. I could tell she wasn't wearing a bra. She had jogging shorts on and was barefoot.
She smiled shyly at me and said, "I really want to thank you..."
"Holly," I interrupted, "No serious discussion tonight. Just relax and enjoy the food and we'll talk in the morning. Okay?"
She nodded her understanding.
I asked, "White wine, red wine, a drink, or just water?"
"White wine please."
As I poured her wine I asked, "Do you want your steak medium rare or medium; if past medium, you have to cook it yourself since that is a mortal sin?"
She giggled, "Medium rare sir."
"Butter or sour cream or both on your potato."
She giggled again, "Both please, Mr. Boss."
I poured a glass of white for myself and sat down. I said, "I want you to know that right now you are my good luck charm. I'm a salesman and today I made more sales than I've made in the last three weeks, which means one fat commission check a few weeks from now. So we're celebrating with good wine and steaks.
"My name is Phil. I'm twenty-five; never married, but close twice before I got smart; I'm six-feet tall and tend to get fat when I don't work out in the gym. I barely got through college because I never saw a party I didn't like.
"I fall in love often, but cupid only nicks me with the arrows since I fall out of love just as often.
"I can tell a million jokes, but sometimes get tongue tied when asked serious things by pretty females."
She giggled, "I'm twenty-three and..."
I interrupted, "That's all I want to know tonight—you're twenty-three, pretty and female."
"Not even curious?" she asked.
"Oh very curious, but now it's time to cook and eat. We talk tomorrow. I'll be out with the steaks. You set the table, get out the salad and dressing. Take the potatoes out of the oven in five minutes and get the sour cream and butter out of the frig."
She laughed and gave me a mock salute, "Yes Boss."
"And when you're done, join me on the balcony with the wine bottle. My glass will be very empty by then."
She grinned and went to work as I took the steaks to the barbecue.
The balcony looked out over the Buckhead area and as the steaks were cooking I watched the traffic converging to the restaurants and shows in Buckhead. It was the beginning of the weekend, and people were starting early. I felt her presence behind me and turned.
"Your servant with more wine," she deadpanned.
She poured the wine into my glass and then poured the rest of the white wine into her glass.
She looked at me, but said nothing at first. Then, "I really..."
"Tomorrow Holly. Tonight your job is to eat a lot, get slightly drunk...no tipsy is the right word, and then catch up on your sleep."
She answered, "Okay, but I just want to say your bark and bite are nothing—you're a nice person."
The steaks were done and we went to the kitchen. I poured the first of the red wine into a clean wine glass for Holly and we ate. I purposely bought very large steaks. Holly had said they were way too big for her, but once she started eating, she never stopped. Her steak, potato and salad with more red wine all disappeared. I thought, "She hasn't eaten in days."
Finally the meal was done. She looked at me embarrassed and said, "I made a pig out of myself. The steak was wonderful, but I didn't even try to talk to you."
I reached for the wine and poured each of us a half glass which killed the bottle. I made a mock toast with my glass held high, "To a great steak dinner, cooked by an expert, and assisted by a person of beauty."
She giggled and then her eyes filled with tears. "Phil, that was a wonderful meal and I really want to..." and she yawned.
"Oh shit; I'm sorry to yawn at you," she slightly slurred.
"Am I still the boss?" I asked.
"Yep," she giggled.
"Stand up, go to the bathroom, and go to bed."
She stood, looked at me with teary eyes, and walked to the bathroom. Minutes later I heard her go to the office. I stood up and found the door open and looked in. Her shirt and shorts were lying next to the bed and she was on her side with her back to me. The sheet was down to her knees as I once again saw her nakedness. I could hear her quiet snores.
I pulled the sheet up to her shoulders and quietly closed the door, cleaned up the kitchen, had two healthy drinks and went to bed. I thought, "Tomorrow should be interesting."
I'm an early morning person no matter when I go to bed, so I woke at sunrise, unsuccessfully tried to go back to sleep, and finally got up. My master bedroom has its own bath so I did my morning things, put on a clean shirt and shorts and went to the kitchen.
The office door was still closed so I stalled for about an hour sipping black coffee, reading the morning paper and then started organizing breakfast. I went to the office door and knocked.
"Holly, wake up."
I knocked again hard and opened the door. She was on her side facing me with the sheet up to her neck. Her eyes were full of sleep, but open and watching me.
I said, "In twenty minutes breakfast will be ready so you better get your butt out of bed, clean up and meet me in the kitchen."
"Are you always this bossy?"
I pretended to look stern and answered, "Twenty minutes."
I walked away leaving the door open. Minutes later I heard the door to the bathroom close, and then the toilet flushed. Almost twenty minutes later she walked into the kitchen wearing the same T-shirt and shorts. I noticed this time she was wearing a bra.
She sat down without talking. A large glass of milk and another of orange juice was in front of her. I put down a plate with three pieces of toast each topped with two poached eggs accompanied by about eight slices of bacon. I put a couple of bagels on a side plate with cream cheese next to her.
She said, "This is way too much food for me."
Fifteen minutes later the food was gone.
She looked embarrassed. "I ate like a pig again."
"You ate like someone who hasn't eaten right for a while."
She blushed again.
"Phil, I want to thank you..."
I interrupted, "There's a great park four blocks from here. I'll clean up the kitchen and let's walk to the park and then have our talk. It's cool right now but later it's going to be really hot, so let's enjoy the morning."
We walked to the park in comfortable silence. I'd point out something interesting every now and then, but I could tell she was getting nervous. We circled the park once along the bike path and then sat down at a picnic table in front of a large pond; ducks were swimming in the water.
It was obvious she didn't know what to say.
I asked, "What's your most serious problem?"
"I'm broke with no job."
I continued, "What's your second most serious problem?"
"I have no place to live in a strange town and have no friends."
"Do you have cancer or a serious illness?"
"Are you wanted by the police?"
"Well then," I concluded, "You have a serious short term problem, but will be fine in the long term, and you don't consider me a friend yet."
She grabbed my hand and blurted, "Shit, that was stupid of me. You saved my life yesterday; I was desperate and you took me in. I won't ever forget your kindness."
I covered her hand with mine and quietly asked, "If it will make you feel better, why don't you tell me how you ended up at my doorstep."
She talked for an hour. The first few minutes were stumbling and then everything poured out. She had grown up in a suburb of Chicago. Her father bailed out even before she was born, so she was raised by her mother. They were very poor, but her mom got her through high school and started her into junior college. During her second year of junior college, her mom had a heart attack and died.
Her emphasis in junior college was business and she quickly got a job working for a small business in Chicago. Two years and two promotions later she was starting to make it in the real business world when she met Jim. After three months Jim moved into her apartment. The plan was that they would get married as soon as they had enough money to feel comfortable.
Three months after Jim moved in he lost his job; he had been an alcoholic and had fallen off the wagon. He didn't look very hard for a new job and the small savings they had built up started to disappear. His drinking got worse; he abused her when drunk and their sex life became more like multiple rapes.
Jim came to her office drunk a week ago and demanded money in front of her coworkers and boss. They made him leave, but he yelled he would come back and kill everybody. He had so frightened her company that they told her she was fired. She received a week's severance. When she got home that afternoon she found the apartment had been torn apart in one of Jim's rages. The furniture was destroyed, all her clothes had been ripped apart, and there was an eviction notice on the door. Jim had taken the checks for rent, but never mailed them in for the last two months.
When she went to her bank to get the past due rent money, she found out that Jim had cleaned out their account. The only favor the bank did was to cash her severance check.
She had met Carol at a charity party about the same time she met Jim and had kept lightly in touch with her even after Carol had moved to Atlanta. She called Carol to see if she could stay with her a few days and start a new life. When she arrived in Atlanta, Carol wasn't there; I was.
Holly sat across from me at the park sobbing as she finished her story. The look of desperation had come back as she realized again the mess she was in.
Other then touching her hand, I had done nothing during her story. I wasn't sure what to do. I felt if I hugged her she would completely fall apart and be even more of an emotional cripple, but I had to give her some hope; and I was not unaware that even at this moment, I was attracted to her.
I said, "Holly, you have a big short term problem, but that's all it is. Here's what we're going to do.
"For the first week you have to get back on your feet, and in the second week we start working on finding you a job. Let's go back to the apartment and I want you to write a list of the clothes you need to buy along with other stuff that will get you through one week.
"Do you cook?"
She nodded yes.
"Fair cook or pretty good?"
"I'm pretty good," she admitted
"That makes it easy," I said. You'll stay with me for the first week. You're the official apartment cleaner and cook, except that Wednesday and Saturday we go out to eat. I'll loan you the money for what you need to buy, and you can pay me back once you start making some money."
"Why are you being so nice to me?" she asked.
"You're my lucky charm so far on my selling, and I think behind those tears I see a good person who got unlucky," I answered.
We walked back to the apartment and she started writing her list of clothes and things. When she was done I checked the list.
"I don't see a dress for the restaurant tonight," I teased.
"It's Saturday. We go out to eat on Wednesday and Saturday. Don't you remember?"
She added a dress to her list.
I continued, "Put down a swimming suit."
"I really don't need a swimming suit," she said.
"Well when we go down to the pool this weekend you are either going to be skinny dipping or wearing a suit...it's up to you."
She added a swimming suit to her list.
"Now make up a list of the meals you are going to cook during the week," I suggested.