Hopefully, A New Beginning
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April hummed to herself as she worked. The office seemed quiet, although there was a bustle of activity as people went about their business, whatever that business was.
She pruned a bit here, watered one of her charges there, turned each plant to receive maximum light exposure and dusted off leaves as she went about tending to the office building’s collection of leased plants.
Stopping at a large snake plant, April pulled some large nails she had picked up at a construction site that morning out of her bag and inserted them into the soil around the base of the plant. Her grandmother had always said a few nails rusting away in a plant pot was good for whatever grew there.
As she worked, she swayed to reggae tunes she had playing on her iPod. She worked her way down the third-floor hall of the building, caring for all the plants which, she believed, at least gave the otherwise stuffy building a feeling of some life. If only the designer had placed more windows into the structure, she thought. How could anything live with so little light shining in?
At the end of the hall, she gave a little gasp when she saw that a large barrel cactus, one of her favourites, had been moved from near a small south-facing window to behind a door where some tradesmen were renovating an office.
Judging by all the drywall dust on the floor in the doorway of the office, the cactus had likely been moved shortly after she was in the building the week before. The poor thing, she thought.
One of the drywallers walked out of the office carrying a pail of mud, rolls of tape and a stack of sandpaper. “Excuse me,” said April, pulling the iPod buds from her ears. “Do you know who moved this plant?”
The drywaller stopped, his hands full, and said, “No idea. Is there a problem?” Standing there, he let his gaze wander over April; the long dark hair, tanned face with a pout now on her lips, the way she filled out the flimsy sundress she wore.
“Of course there’s a problem. All of these plants are in locations which best suit them. This cactus can’t live out here in a hallway with no sun. It’s a cactus.”
“Lady, I just work here. That thing was behind the door when I got here a couple of days ago to mud, tape and sand. I’m done today, so I’m outta here. There are painters coming in tomorrow, get them to move the thing for you.”
April felt her cheeks flushing. “That thing, as you call it, is a valuable plant that’s likely worth more than whatever kind of beater truck you drive. You can’t just move them around and treat them like they’re not important.”
“Whatever,” said the drywaller. “I gotta be down the street to start another job in an hour. Leave a note for the painters, or come back tomorrow and get them to help you move… that cactus.” No doubt some kind of tree-hugger, he thought, looking at her. What a waste of what looked to be a real nice rack under that dress. He walked away.
“Thanks for nothing,” April called after him. “A big help.” She pulled a cell phone out of her bag and dialled her assistant, Ryan. He’d have to leave what he was doing at the shop and help her move the cactus to a better location. It was on a wheeled planter stand, but still likely weighed 200 pounds, too much for her to manage on the now-bare and rough brick floor.
Fuming, she waited for a connection. Looking at her phone, she noticed that, of course, there was no signal where she was standing. An eye on her phone, she walked down the hall toward the other end, hoping to pick up a signal.
At the end of the hallway, she got her signal and dialled the shop. Leaning against another office window, she crossed her arms and waited for Ryan to pick up. Damn, she thought, he was supposed to be there, re-planting some violets and delivering them to another downtown location. Angry, she kicked her heel into the window.
Startled at the noise against his window, Douglas looked up from his paperwork to see a sundress-clad woman leaning against the window that faced into the hall outside his office. He set his pen down and leaned back in his chair. Hmmm, he pondered as he noticed the long dark hair down the woman’s back. It reached almost to the bum cheeks that were pressed tightly against the glass. Nicely tanned legs and arms, too.
With a start, Douglas realized he hadn’t thought of, or looked at, a woman the way he currently was since, well, since Loretta’s death in a car crash three years previous. Odd, he thought. Why now? Smiling though, he watched as the woman, obviously engrossed in a cell phone call, kicked his window once again with her heel. When she turned to the side to set her bag down, he realized he had seen her around the building; she was the woman who looked after, and obviously took so much pleasure in, the selection of plants he noticed. And any time he had said hello, she had given him a sunny smile.
“Shit. Ryan, pick up the phone or call me back as soon as you get this message,” April yelled at her phone. She closed the device, then bent to retrieve her bag from bursa escort the floor beside her. As she went to straighten, she noticed shoes in the doorway near her. Standing, she noticed a well-dressed man in the doorway to the office whose window she had kicked.
Blushing, she noticed it was the rather distinguished-looking man who always, unlike most of the people in the building who seemed to treat her as an invisible entity, said hello when they passed in the hallway, or when she was at work. Despite his uptight appearance and ever-present suit, she had sensed he was far more friendly than the rest of the office types she encountered. Although suits weren’t her preference, she had noticed that it did seem to suit him. It suited him well.
“I… I’m sorry,” she blurted out. “I kicked your window… I was just mad and…” Her face now flushed and warm, she giggled nervously. “Again, I’m sorry, I’m leaving right now.”
“You seem rather distraught,” said Douglas. “Is there anything I can do to help? My name is Douglas, by the way.”
Did he just say distraught? thought April. How cute. “My name is April. No, no. It’s just that I have to take care of a cactus at the far of this hallway and I can’t get hold of my assistant. He’s supposed to be available for just this kind of thing. Some idiot is having the office down there re-modelled and the workers moved one of my plants into the hall behind a door, like it can live there.”
Douglas looked down the hallway toward where April had pointed. “You say it’s your cactus? I thought they were all leased?”
“It is. I mean, I am. I mean, my company owns the plants here. This building does lease from me.” Good one, April, she thought, you sound like a complete bimbo.
“Well, it’s nice to meet a fellow business owner,” said Douglas with a smile. “I’d be happy to help you with that cactus. After all, it’s my new office that’s being re-modelled. I think it’s the least I could do.”
April groaned inwardly. It was his office… It would be. And she just called him an idiot. This whole situation was just getting better and better. “I’m so sorry,” she stammered. “I didn’t mean…”
He laughed out loud now. “Not to worry. You couldn’t have known I was moving to that office and I realize the tradesmen have made a mess down there. Come now, allow me to give you a hand with your cactus.” He stood aside and swept his arm with a flourish, inviting her to lead the way.
April put her bag over her shoulder and headed for the far end of the hallway, still feeling rather foolish about inadvertently calling the only friendly man in the building an idiot.
Douglas followed and couldn’t help but notice the way her hips moved as she walked quickly along. As well, he thought, her bum cheeks had an enticing motion and he couldn’t help wonder what kind of underwear she had on. What is wrong with me? he thought to himself. Ogling a damsel in distress wasn’t his style.
At the far end of the hall, April stopped and pointed to the cactus. “This one is supposed to be in that, in your, office. By the window, where it can get enough sun to keep it healthy.”
“I understand. Shall we move it in there and get it in a better location? I see the planter is on wheels.” Douglas closed the door somewhat, then crouched down and took the large pot in his hands. He pulled it toward him and, despite the large amount of soil, found he was able to move it. “No problem, we’ll have this in place in no time. Where would you like it?”
April walked into the office and moved to an open window. “Over here would be perfect. A south-facing window like this one would be perfect. An open window? I don’t know if I’ve seen windows that open here.”
“I know,” said Douglas. “It is now the only office with a window that opens. In the past, my wife always insisted I have an office with a window. And plants in it, for that matter.”
“Ah,” said April. “Your wife picked this office, then. Good for her. And good on for her wanting you to have something alive in your workspace.”
“Actually, my wife died several years ago. I guess I’m just following along with her wishes.”
“Oh,” said April. “I’m terribly sorry to hear that.” Good one again, she thought. Point out his dead wife’s good thinking. “I’m sure it must be difficult for you.”
“It was very difficult, but I guess I’m getting over the feelings of loneliness. A person can’t mourn forever.”
April couldn’t think of anything to add and, worried she might say something stupid again, which wasn’t like her, she just pointed to the spot she wanted the cactus placed. “Here would be perfect.”
“Done,” he said. Bending to the plant pot again, he began easing it along the floor, careful not impale himself on its large thorns.
Watching him move the plant, April noticed that, despite the suit he wore, Douglas was obviously fit. He handled the plant quite easily and she knew it was heavy. I wonder, she thought, what he looks like when he’s dressed down? If he ever dresses down.
With bursa escort bayan the big cactus by the window, Douglas gave it a final push into place. As he did so, he pricked a finger on a thorn, drawing some blood. “Shit.”
“Oh, oh,” said April. “Let me have a look.”
“It’s nothing. Just a scratch,” he said.
“Go on. Let me have a look.” Taking his hand, she held it up and noted that his finger was bleeding quite freely. She reached into her bag and took out a clean rag. Holding it to his finger, she squeezed tightly to staunch the bleeding. Looking up, she gazed into his brown eyes, and smiled. “This should stop the bleeding.”
Douglas smiled back at her. “Thank you, I’m sure it will.” They stood there like that for some moments. He was enjoying the feeling of his hand in hers. He was also enjoying close contact with this attractive woman, the blue of her eyes and her wide smile that showed even white teeth.
Outside, music wafted in the open window. “I wonder what that is,” he said.
“It’s the bands warming up for the concert.”
“Of course,” said April. “There’s an Earth Day parade later this morning, then a concert by the pier. Haven’t you heard?”
“Hmm… Earth Day, not really my cup of tea.”
“It should be everybody’s cup of tea,” she said. “Everybody’s. If we don’t watch what we’re doing on our planet, things are going to get really bad, very quickly. I do my part and we can’t keep treating Earth like it’s just some dumping ground. I’m sorry, I’m preaching.”
Douglas watched her lips as she spoke, the very white teeth. He heard what she was saying, but he thought back to Loretta, who had been proclaiming the same sentiments for years. Had he spent too much time with his business and not enough being aware of his surroundings?
“You’re right, of course. I’ve likely not done my share over the years. Umm, I think my finger is probably all right now.”
“Oh,” she replied. She had forgotten she was still holding his hand. “Yes, of course. It’s never too late to take more of an interest in the world, you know.” She removed the rag from his finger and eyed it. A droplet of blood again welled up and, without thinking, she bent and took his finger between her lips.
Douglas almost… almost…, pulled his finger away. Instead, he watched as she kept his digit between her lips. He could feel warmth and the tip of her tongue pressing against the minor injury. He swallowed hard, but couldn’t have pulled his hand away even if he’d wanted to. My god, he thought.
April pulled his finger from her mouth and looked up at him. She smiled. “Does that feel better?”
Douglas swallowed again. “Oh yes, so much better.”
“Good,” said April as she stepped away from him and toward the window. Looking out at the crowd gathering for the Earth Day parade, she chuckled to herself. What the hell was that? “See, everybody’s gathering on the street.”
Douglas moved to stand beside her at the window. Looking out, he saw several hundred people gathered below. Also below, he gazed down into April’s cleavage, noting the tanned skin and the lack of a bra.
She looked up just then and caught him looking at her breasts. She smiled. “Want to come down to the mezzanine and watch with me? We can look out from the dining lounge balcony.”
Douglas now blushed, caught as he was staring at her cleavage. “I believe you could talk me into that.”
“Cool,” she said with a giggle. “Let’s go. Oh, but first…” She moved in front of him and reached up to undo his tie. “You can’t wear a tie to an Earth Day parade. Let’s go.”
As they headed for the stairs down to the mezzanine level, April knotted his tie about her head and adjusted it so fell over one bare shoulder. A couple of levels down, they stepped out onto the dining area’s balcony and looked out over the street. They stood close together and watched as people in all manner of Earth Day-friendly attire, some holding placards, moved along the street. April called down to some people she recognized and waved. Several waved back.
As the crowd moved past, filling the street below, Douglas was amazed at the number of people, mostly teens and those in their 20s and 30s, who had gathered. All were chanting slogans, holding hands, laughing and singing. Quite a contrast to his life of the last few years.
April turned to him. “Douglas?”
He looked at her. “Yes?”
“Let’s go down and join in. Come on, it’ll be fun. Please? What’s the worst that could happen? Some suits might recognize you?” She laughed.
Douglas looked at her and recognized the challenge in her voice. She assumed because he was a “suit” that he wouldn’t take part in anything so liberal as an Earth Day parade. For some reason, he didn’t want her to think that of him. “I’m in, let’s go.”
“Oh no, mister, not like that.” She undid the buttons on his suit jacket. “You’d look too out of place wearing this. And someone I know might see me with you.” She giggled. “Take escort bursa it off and we’ll go.”
Douglas shrugged out of his jacket and tossed it on a chair. “Well?” He offered her his arm. “Shall we?”
She took his arm. “We shall.”
Downstairs, they blended into the crowd right outside the buildings front doors. They jostled along with others and for some reason, Douglas felt more alive than he had in months. Surrounded by people enjoying themselves and suddenly, he noticed, with April pulling him along, hand in hand. She turned to face him, smiling. “Isn’t this great?”
“It is, actually. It actually is.”
He was surprised. He felt like he was floating along, buoyed by the crowd’s energy, the music, singing and by April holding his hand. As they walked along, she let his hand go and reached into her bag again. Pulling out a wineskin, she popped its cork and took a long swig. “Mmmm. A nice, red Earth Day wine.” She held out the wineskin. “Want some?”
He looked at her. A wineskin? He hadn’t had wine from a skin since, well, since college. Still, he took it from her and drank. The wine went down easily and he drank some more. April walked backward in front of him, pulling him along as he drank some more then handed the skin back to her. She held it to her lips and drank deeply. Looking at him, she licked her lips, slowly, then handed it back. “Finish it.”
Douglas tipped the skin back and drained it before handing it back to her. April put the wineskin back in her bag and they continued walking along, hand in hand, feeling the wine warm them as the crowd made its way to the park where the concert was to be held.
Just as they approached the park, someone put a bottle of wine in Douglas’ hand. He looked at it, an organic red he’d never seen before. Bottles were being handed out all over. He looked at April, who was looking at him. What the hell, he thought, and took a long pull before handing it to her. April then drank some and handed the bottle back to him. Not bad, he thought, not bad at all. Not bad, or, he suddenly thought, more likely he was getting a little drunk. He wasn’t much of a drinker and wine on a warm day like today, well…
Finally, they stopped on the edge of the park, about as close as they were likely to get, considering the crowd around them. On stage, a reggae band was starting to play, the heavy beat booming out over the crowd from a large bank of speakers.
April was swaying to the music, arms above her head, eyes closed and, as he watched her, Douglas said, “I’m more of a jazz man myself, but this is quite good.” He sipped more wine and let the music flow over him. They stood there a while, swaying to the music and sipping the wine.
As the crowd moved closer to the stage, April and Douglas were pushed along. He grabbed her hand again, not wanting to let her move away in the midst of the revellers. Crushed in amongst the crowd, the music was louder than ever; bass thumping, the lead singer pleading with the listeners to save the Earth. April was in front of him, swaying to the music and she reached back to take his hands and put them on her hips. He could feel her warm skin through her dress and he began to move slowly with her.
A 20-something in dreadlocks next to him leaned to Douglas and said, “dude, that’s a fine catch, mon” and winked at him. Douglas was going to offer a comment, but the man’s glazed eyes and an odour of marijuana told him he wasn’t really listening anyway. Douglas himself felt tipsy, the wine had made its way through him and he noticed the bottle was now gone. Closing his eyes, he kept his hands on April’s hips, swaying in time with her, and pressing close against her.
April pressed back against him, pressing her bottom into Douglas’ crotch. When he eased back from her, blushing, she reached behind her and, grabbing his pants pockets, pulled him tightly against her. Very well, he thought, and pushed against her, feeling her warm bottom through his pants. His eyes closed, he felt himself stiffening against her. A little embarrassed, he eased back again, but again she pulled him firmly against her.
What the hell then, he thought. Pressing his cock against her, he bent to her ear. “I think I’m a little drunk.”
“That’s a good way to be today,” she called over her shoulder. “Douglas, that’s a good way to be. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just enjoy yourself.”
Feeling a little light headed, not to mention horny, Douglas was enjoying himself. Really enjoying himself for the first time in ages. Despite the fact he was surrounded by a loud, noisy crowd, he felt like he was all alone, with a beautiful, desirable woman and he had no idea how it had all happened so suddenly. One minute he was doing paperwork at his desk, the next he’s standing and listening to a reggae band, swaying with a beautiful woman; with his hardening cock pressed against her. Amazing.
Feeling Douglas harden against her, April smiled as she swayed. She hadn’t had anyone for a while and Douglas was, she now realized, not the uptight suit she had originally suspected him of being. She enjoyed the feeling of him pressed against her and she was getting aroused, her nipples firming up. Wine and music, she thought, that’ll do it.
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