Heat Exchange

By: Deana Farrady

There was a beat of silence, then he gave a chuckle. "Is that where you were going just now? Lunch?"

Sitting down like that, he looked almost approachable. Janey wiped her cheeks with her arm. "No, I was providing it. I'm catering a lunch on seven. What about you?" she asked shyly.

"Dentist appointment." He grimaced. "Not that I was looking forward to it, but I wanted it over with."

Well, that was very human and normal. "I'm, uh, I'm Janey. Janey Pankowski." She reached into her bag and fished out a business card and handed it to him.

"Nyall Anderson."

Janey didn't fail to notice that he tucked her card away without looking at it, and he didn't reciprocate with his own business card.

"How much time do you think has passed?" Janey said.

"An hour and a quarter," he said after checking his phone.

"That long? Oh, my God. We're really stuck in here." The fact that there hadn't been a peep from anybody outside boded ill in her mind.

"It's looking like we'll be here a while," he agreed. "You might as well tell me why you were crying."

Just his mentioning it made it start happening again. Janey didn't understand it. She was sitting here with a man that she had nothing in common with and he was inviting her to confide in him.

"Why do you want to know?" she said. "Do you like listening to strange women tell you about their miserable lives? Are you a psychiatrist or something?"

"Lord, no." He sounded repelled. "Curiosity, I guess."

Well, that fit in with the calculating businessman image, at least, she thought. "I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. It's nothing exciting. I just asked a guy out on a date and he said no."

"That's it?" He didn't seem impressed. "That makes you cry on elevators?"

She swallowed. "No, that's not it. It's the story of my li-ife. Nice guys look right through me. It's only the cheating sleazeballs who ever come on to me."

Janey heard her own words and winced. She couldn't believe she was sitting here complaining to this guy about her lame love life.

His gaze moved over her again, this time more speculatively. Of course, her legs and arms blocked most of her body, but he seemed to see through them. "I can see why the sleazeballs, but I'm not getting the nice guys part."

Janey's jaw dropped. Had she just been insulted? "Thanks a lot," she said.

His eyes narrowed. "Did that offend you?"

"You just said you think I'm perfect for scumbags."

"You have a voluptuous body," he said. "Men want to fuck that. But I don't know why decent guys wouldn't, too. They're basically the same animal, with different shirts."

For a moment Janey couldn't breathe or talk. When she finally managed it, she said shakily, "You couldn't be more wrong."

"About what?"

"About guys wanting to…uh…be with me. I'm a virgin," she said bluntly. "I'm twenty-nine and I've never had sex with a man."

"You're gay?" His brow rose. He asked the question in that bemused way a person might say, "You've really never been to Canada?"

A laugh burst out of her. "I wish! I got so frustrated with the whole thing one time I tried to psyche myself up to become lesbian. That was a fail, too. My fantasies just wouldn't go there. It's males I like."

There was a minute of silence where she couldn't read his expression.


"You don't want to be a virgin?" he said.

"I don't care if I'm a virgin or not exactly. I just want to—" She blushed. "To know. What it's like. To feel—uh—"

"You want sex," he drawled. "With someone you won't catch a disease from."

"I could go off with one of the sleazeballs, I guess. I just haven't gotten that desperate yet."

His mouth slanted sardonically. "So why not ask some guy you know to fuck you?"

"They don't want to. Seriously," when he looked disbelieving. "Look at me!" She moved her legs down and spread her arms out. "I'm the classic girl next door. I'm the sister. I'm platonic city, Nyall. I'm not imagining it. Believe me. It's dogged me all my life." The tears were starting again. "I don't usually act this pathetic, but it's starting to get to me, you know? I don't understand your gender at all and I'm pretty sure at this point it's too late for me to ever be able to."

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