Heat Exchange

By: Deana Farrady

"Surveillance is everywhere these days," he said tersely—and, she'd bet, went back to doing whatever he was doing with his device. She didn't turn around to confirm it. She determined not to talk to him at all for the rest of the time they were stuck here unless it was an emergency.

The next several minutes passed in silence except for the tapping of the man's stylus on his phone and the occasional beep, which she could hear over the soft rush of the ventilation system. She reluctantly admitted that the guy was right; it was getting uncomfortably warm in here.

Giving up any pretense of poise, she plopped down on the floor and shrugged off her oversized jacket, revealing the white shell blouse she wore underneath. It was semi-sheer, but she didn't worry about it. If her companion on the elevator even noticed, she didn't fool herself he'd be bothered even a little.

Janey had what she thought of as an invisible body. There was nothing technically wrong with it, but even at the beach while she was wearing a swimsuit, she was never the center of attention. That was reserved for the skinny, flat-bellied girls, or the robust athletic ones, or even the softer, fun party girls. She wasn't any of those. She was just Janey.

She reached into one of her totes and pulled out a bottled water. She opened it and drank the whole thing down. It was warm, but better than nothing.

She glanced around and saw the guy was still leaning against the wall, still all into his phone. Guilt made her rethink her position on the silent treatment. If she was thirsty, he probably was, too. It was, after all, lunch time.

"Do you want some water?" she offered.

He glanced up, frowned when he didn't see her, then found her on the floor. Wow. He'd seriously been unaware of her if he didn't even know she was sitting down now. Janey took it in stride. The story of her life.

"No, thanks, it's—" he broke off, his eyes narrowing as they took in her see-through blouse. Then he seemed to catch himself and moved his gaze to her face. "No," he said slowly.

"Are you sure? I have extra. I've already had one." She dug into the bag and held out the bottle to him.

A shiver traveled through her as she caught his gaze on her again. He was definitely noticing her lack of a jacket, looking at her breasts through the shell in their simple bra. Pretty openly, actually. It probably should have been offensive but offended wasn't how she felt. The opposite, actually.

But she didn't fool herself about it. It probably just meant that her own version of Murphy's Law had struck again and he wasn't available. Of course he'd be attached. Rich, good-looking, thirtyish guys like him were never single. Well at least, if they were, and they were heterosexual, they never gave her a second look. The fact that this one was doing so now had to be due either to the very boring scenery in here or her Curse of Attracting Sleazeballs.

Janey seriously wanted to cry now.

He spotted the empty bottle she was crumpling in her hand. "That? You drank that whole bottle?"

"It's not that big," she sniffed. He didn't need to talk about it like she was a lush, for goodness sake.

"Nor are bladders," he said dryly. "And we don't know how long we're going to be on this thing."

"Oh. You're right. That wasn't too bright." Her voice broke a little.

He stared at her. His phone made a sound and absently he glanced at it, tapped something, then tucked it in his pocket. "You are claustrophobic," he said abruptly.

Janey became aware then that the tears she'd been fighting since she read Vince's email were now trailing down her cheeks. "No," she said. "I'm sorry. It's nothing to do with being in the elevator."

The tears weren't stopping. She bent her knees, wrapped her arms around her legs, and tucked her head between them. "I'm just having a bad day. Ignore me," she said in a muffled voice. "You can go back to your surfing. I won't disturb you again."

"I wasn't surfing, I was working," he said. To her surprise, his voice came from lower down. She lifted her head and found him sitting against the side wall of the elevator with his knees up. "Do you normally burst into tears in the middle of the day?'

"Whenever I haven't eaten," she said. "Missing meals makes me weep."

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