"It’s you!" was all he could say at the moment, as his mouth was full of freshly incised bagel.

"In the flesh!"

Indeed, in the flesh, for she wasn’t exactly ‘in the dress’ as much of her flesh, tight and supple, spilled out of the dress, or was left uncovered by the sparseness of the cloth making up ‘the dress.’

She closed the distance, crashed through the wall of etiquette and violated his personal space with the savagery of a predator violating the sanctity of life. Like the predator, there was no regard for the sanctity of life when hunger and need drove someone, just as there was no need for personal space when wanted to crush such notions of space and division.

"I guess our fortunes are intertwined," she said, leaning into him as she reached for a Styrofoam cup. She only lightly touched him, her eyes locked into his like a missile locked onto a target, but it was still almost enough to knock him backward.

She was hot. Not in the slang parlance meaning of the word, but physically so. She felt very warm, almost radiant with it, and Joel found himself on the verge of a sweat. He wondered if it was only his own swelter that made him feel stifled with her heat. Of course, there could be no other explanation…except for the hot coffee kettle on his back.

He spun away from the table, still facing the woman, and still close enough that the hair on her head tickled his nose. If he didn’t know better, he would have sworn that her hair was reaching out for him—to consume him. Or, maybe it was just static that drew it toward him.

She turned her head slightly, eyeing him askance with a smirk on her face. "Just in case you’re wondering, my name is Fiera Coles."

"Yes, I was just about to ask."

She grinned and finished mixing her coffee. "And you are Doctor Joel Goldstein?"

"Yes, that’s me."

Her smile never diminished. "You don’t seem surprised that that I know who you are."

"Not too many things surprise me, Ms. Coles."

"Not yet, anyway."

With that, she turned and made her way toward the colleague who had entered with her. The colleague was a man in his early forties, with salt and pepper hair, whose physicality was not hidden, rather enhanced, by the fit of his suit. Before he turned to escort the woman through the rest of the introductions, he made sure to cast a glare at Joel which was easy enough for him to decipher, as there was nothing to decipher. It was a pointed exclamation that the woman was ‘hands-off’ to all but himself.


Unto the Living Earth © 2007 Walter R. Milton