Why don't you Stay ? ... Forever by Jennifer Ashley

Chapter One





Ben





“Ben, I am so sorry!” Erin has removed her glasses, and her beautiful eyes are wide with horror.

“I’m all right …” I wheeze, gasping for air, black dots spinning before me.

It’s not every day you’re kicked in the privates by the woman of your dreams. I mean that literally—her foot smacks right into my crotch.

It’s not Erin’s fault—the blame is all on me.

Here’s what happened: I work at my family’s business as the IT guy, because none of my brothers, or my mom or dad, really understands computers. I mean, even the most basic stuff. Kinda sad, though I don’t mind helping out.

I like to take a stroll at lunch and get out of my cave—as my brothers call my office where the servers are. Today, in the middle of May, it’s stifling hot, about a hundred in the shade, so I duck back inside early. In Phoenix, air conditioning is our friend.

Our office is a showroom where we display a few high-tech kitchens and bathrooms, and where we meet with clients, show them sample books, etcetera etcetera. At least, Austin, Zach, or Ryan meet them and schmooze, while I make sure the tech works so my brothers can process the orders and we get paid.

Around the small showroom are a ring of offices, and a high-counter reception desk just inside the front door.

The reception desk is empty as I clomp back inside. I feel a twinge of disappointment—I’d hoped Erin Dixon, the temp since our previous secretary retired, would be there. I could casually lean on the desk and say hi.

Erin is gorgeous. Long, sleek brown hair, big blue eyes behind glasses. She has a dancer’s body, because she’s an actual dancer. She’s with the West Valley Ballet, apparently a well-respected company, not that I know much about ballet.

I head to the break room. That’s set up with a table and chairs, a few vending machines, a microwave, and a big fridge, so any of us can eat lunch here if we want. Mostly my brothers go out or home, but I usually eat in my office and then take a walk.

Halfway to the break room I hear music.

Not the raunchy, dance club stuff Austin listens to, or the popular music Zach likes. It’s rippling piano music I’m unfamiliar with, lilting and magical.

Through the window next to the break room’s door, I see Erin.

She’s dancing. She’s donned a tank top and bicycle shorts, and she’s bending and stretching, her limbs in graceful arcs.

I’ve never seen anything more beautiful in my life.

I halt, stunned, and watch her. She rests one hand lightly on the back of a chair, while she lifts a leg into the air, swiftly, precisely. Down it goes, then up again, liquid high kicks.

Erin drops her head back, eyes closed, one arm curved above her. Her chin juts out in a regal pose, like a sculpture. I’m frozen in place by the beauty of it—the human body at its most amazing.

I realize I can’t stand out here ogling her like a peeping Tom. I open the door noisily to alert her, but any sound is drowned by the music streaming from her phone.

Up goes her leg again, and she bounces high on the ball of her other foot.

“Hey, Erin. Sorry to—”

She pirouettes to the music, her leg sweeping around. She sees me at the last minute and tries to stop, but the momentum carries her, and her outstretched foot slams right into my crotch.

“Oh, shit. Ben …”

I double over in serious pain, which recedes slightly when I feel her slender, cool fingers on my arm.

“Ben—you okay?”

The music plunges on, the piano’s chords crashing through the room. Erin lunges away and silence falls, except for her ragged breathing and my groans.

“Ben, I am so sorry.” Erin’s face comes into view. “Here, sit down.”

“I’m all right.” The words are barely audible, escaping from my mouth like air leaking from a tire.

I drop into the chair, trying not to grab myself down below. The poor guys are aching, but the rest of me tingles with awareness. Erin smells good, like the golden flowers that burst into bloom around here every spring.

“Can I get you anything?” she’s asking. “I didn’t see you. I didn’t mean …”

“Erin.” I rest my hand on hers, the smoothness of her skin starting to ease the pain. “It’s okay. I shouldn’t have sneaked up on you.”

“I had the music on too loud. I thought everyone was gone. I’m trying to practice—I’m an understudy and I have to take over the lead on Saturday night. I’m so nervous, and I figured I might as well use the time to …”