Beta Testing

Babes

Author’s note: This one takes a while to build. Hopefully you’ll find the climax worth the wait.

*****

“You worthless piece of crap!” I spit, desperate to provoke a reaction, any reaction. But all I get back is a blank, blue stare from the computer screen. I’ve just spent the better part of a year at this keyboard, writing and re-writing the manuscript of what I hoped would my best-selling erotic novel to date. But now queasy fear fills my stomach as I face the very real prospect that the hundreds of pages I spent countless hours conjuring are lost forever. Beyond the investment of time, I poured the lurid details of my forbidden fantasies into this soulless machine, trusted it with my most secret desires, only to be betrayed.

The computer continues to stare mutely at me, unblinking, uncaring. Bizarrely, an image of my ex-husband’s face flashes in my mind. I’m so frustrated that I scream at the machine again in futile rage and pound the keyboard with my fists. It’s no use, of course. I look down at the battered keyboard, it’s P and L keys now missing. My anger slowly drains away and I’m left just feeling childish.

Sighing with resignation, I pull out my phone and dial the nearest computer store. An older man answers enthusiastically, “Thanks for calling CompuHut, this is Phil!”

“Hi, do you guys make house calls?” I ask.

“Sure,” he replies brightly, “we offer free delivery on any new computer or printer purchase!”

“No, I mean for a repair,” I clarify.

“I’m sorry, ma’am, we don’t do repairs anymore,” he says, the brightness gone now.

“Is there any place else in town that does?” I ask, adding “I’m a bit desperate.”

“Well, there is a kid named Milton who used to work here. He does freelance repairs now,” he offers sympathetically. “Do you want his number?”

“Yes, please,” I reply, and scribble down the number.

I say goodbye to Phil and make the call immediately. On the third ring, the phone is answered by a rich masculine voice, not the pimply teen voice I was expecting from a kid named Milton.

“This is Milt,” he says simply, somehow infusing the short greeting with strength.

“Uh, hi, my name is Angie and I got your number from Phil at the CompuHut? He says you do computer repairs?” I say, realizing with embarrassment that these statements ended as questions, making me sound like a teenage girl instead of the 30-something woman that I am.

“That’s my story,” he says smoothly. “How can I help?”

“Well, my computer starting making a funny whine while I was working this morning, and then the screen went blank,” I report.

“Any error messages? Did you try restarting it?”

“No and yes. All I get is just a blue screen.”

“Hmm. Sounds bad,” he says, but in an ambiguous tone that could be serious or mocking.

“The thing is,” I blurt out, “it’s got all my work in it, every draft of every story I’ve ever written.”

“Do you have a backup?” he asks.

“What’s a backup?” I reply cluelessly.

“I’ll take that as a no,” he says, but not in a snide way. “Sounds like we better focus on reviving your primary copy. It might be an easy fix. I’d be glad to take a look at it for you.”

“I’d really appreciate that. When could you come over?” I ask eagerly.

“I could come now if you like. Where do you live?” he offers.

I give him directions to my apartment and say a grateful goodbye. My worries slip away at the thought that help is on the way. But then the queasy fear returns, this time for a different reason. I just invited a strange man, referred to me by another complete stranger, over to my home. Who is this computer kid named Milton with the sexy voice? What if he’s a serial killer? Too late now, so I grab a cup of ginger tea to soothe my stomach and sit down on the sofa with a book to wait. Less than five minutes later, I’m startled by a loud knock on the door. I jump to the door and reach for the knob, then pause.

“That you, Milt?” I ask apprehensively through the door.

“Hi, Angie,” comes the reply.

I swallow, prep my friendliest smile, and pull open the door. I didn’t know what to expect, but the man standing in front of me is still not what I was expecting. Milt is younger than me, but definitely not a kid. He has broad shoulders that fill an untucked plaid shirt, and athletic legs wrapped in tight black jeans and cowboy boots. His dark hair is cropped short and slicked forward. Long sideburns extend down to a strong jaw, a micro-goatee under his lip. The thick black frames of the glasses resting on his nose would be Revenge-of-the-Nerds comical were it not for the penetrating green eyes behind them. Tribal tattoos peeking out from under his rolled-up sleeves complete the incongruous portrait. Whatever Vogue would call this look (metro-western geek chic?), he’s pulling it off. I should say hello or invite him in, but I just stand stupidly in the doorway, dissecting him with my eyes while an awkward silence grows. Finally, he breaks the tension.

“Uh, can I come in?” he asks, an uncertain smile on his tanned face.

“Of course!” I exclaim, much too loudly. “Please! Thanks so escort bayan much for coming!”

Embarrassed, I usher him quickly into my living room, offer him something to drink. He declines so graciously that I begin to relax.

“How did you get here so fast?” I ask.

“I live just around the corner,” he explains with an easy smile, “we’re practically neighbors.”

“Lucky me,” I say, “to have a computer surgeon so close by.”

“Yeah,” he says with a grin. “So, where’s the patient?”

Only in this moment do I remember that the computer desk in my bedroom is stacked with the sex manuals and porn videos I use for research. I think I even left a couple of my favorite toys out on the bed. Though part of me is dying to introduce Milt to Elektra Lee, my naughty nom-de-plume, the Angie who grew up attending Catholic school feels a moment of panic. If he’s not into kink, or not into me, I don’t want to make a fool of myself.

“Uhmmm, it’s in the other room,” I say, hoping my voice sounds less quavering to him than it does in my own ears. “Can you give me just a minute? I forgot I’ve got a bunch of, uh, laundry piled on the desk.”

“No problem,” says Milt sincerely. “I’m a very patient man,” he adds with a wink.

Is he flirting with me? God, I hope so. I dart into the bedroom and sweep all the books and toys under the bed as fast as I can. Returning to the living room, I say with a smile, “All clear now, follow me,” which he does willingly.

If Milt feels at all uncomfortable entering the bedroom of a woman he just met, it sure doesn’t show. I show him to the desk and repeat the story of how it just conked out all by itself while I was working. He peers suspiciously at the dislocated P and L keys.

“This happen all by itself, too?” he asks with wry smile.

“Ah, well, no, not exactly,” I admit sheepishly. “That happened afterward. I was a bit frustrated.”

“No doubt!” he laughs. “But don’t worry about it. Keyboards are cheap.” Then he adds, “Besides, we all get a bit frustrated sometimes.”

Something in the way he says the word “frustrated,” looking directly into my eyes, makes my skin feel hot. If he notices me blushing, he pretends not to.

“So, what’s next?” I ask, redirecting my mind to the task at hand. “Do you need anything from me?”

“Nothing at all,” he says with cool confidence. “You can just relax on the bed while I check a few things.”

Why mention the bed? Was that a subtle come-on, or am I projecting? Either way, I decide to take his suggestion and stretch out on the bed. I pick up a magazine, but have no intention of reading it. I want to watch him work. Milt bends over the desk, tugging on the cables at the back of my monitor, affording me a fine view of a tight butt clad in black denim. I’m mesmerized, my eyes tracing the V pattern stitched on his back pockets. Then he drops to his hands and knees and crawls under the desk to check the cables on the back of the computer, perfectly prone. I imagine kneeling behind him, grabbing his belt roughly with one hand while reaching down between his legs with the other to grip his manhood through the fabric of his jeans. The fantasy runs rampant in my mind, and by the time he draws himself back up to his full height, my panties are soaked through. After finishing a few more tests, he turns to me to render his verdict.

“Well,” he says, “Do you want the good news or the bad news?”

“I could really use some good news.”

“The good news is that your data is safe,” he reports. “It looks like it’s only the video card that failed.”

“That’s fantastic!”

Overjoyed, I bounce off the bed and grab him in a bear hug. He’s clearly taken aback, but doesn’t resist. Realizing that I’ve just stepped way over a boundary, and trampled all propriety in the process, I back off quickly, blushing again.

“Wow,” he chuckles softly, “that’s not the reaction I usually get. I haven’t even fixed it yet and I’m already the hero.”

“I’m sorry,” I stammer. “It’s just that my whole life is in there, so I’m really relieved. That, and I’ve got terrible impulse control.”

“Don’t sweat it,” he laughs easily. Then he meets my eyes and adds, “I should be thanking you. Nerds like me usually have to pay to get a hug like that from a woman.”

Now if that wasn’t a come-on, I am seriously delusional. Emboldened, I take a half-step toward him.

“So, what’s the bad news?” I ask in my best sexy-without-trying voice.

“The bad news is that I don’t have a new video card with me,” he says. “I’ll have go pick one up from the lab.”

“The lab?” I ask, teasingly incredulous. “What are you, some kind of evil scientist?”

“Not quite,” he smiles. “I prefer the term ‘rule-averse inventor’.”

I laugh out loud. Then, changing gears, I purr, “So, tell me more about this lab of yours,” in my best buxom-spy-pumping-for-information voice.

“Well,” he says, “have you ever heard of a hackerspace?”

“Never,” I admit. “It sounds like a place where hackers break into Pentagon computers or something.”

“A common misconception,” he says in a clipped, fake-British escort istanbul accent, then laughs. “Really, it’s just a shared space where geeks get together to have fun and make cool stuff.”

“So, it’s like a gentleman’s club for ‘rule-averse inventors’?” I ask with a raised eyebrow, pushing the boundaries of propriety again.

Now Milt is the one to laugh out loud. “No, but you’re getting warmer,” he says. “Besides, we have female members, so you couldn’t quite call it a gentleman’s club.”

I’m just about to kick into flirt overdrive when a violin concerto erupts from Milt’s pocket.

“Is that…?” I begin to ask.

“Yeah, sorry, that’s my phone,” he confirms, adding apologetically, “I have to take this.”

A Vivaldi ringtone? This guy is full of surprises. While he excuses himself to the living room to take his call, I am left to ponder my next move. I wonder if it is too early to make a physical move, or if I should just keep turning up the temperature on our playful banter. I decide to play it safe and stick to innuendo for the moment. I settle onto the bed to await his return, hedging my bets with a come-hither-but-only-if-you-want-to pose. I pretend to read a magazine, but really I’m fantasizing about what’s inside those black jeans, seeing myself kneeling before him, unbuckling his belt with one hand while pulling his zipper down with the other.

My hand wanders downward to the crotch of my jeans. I grind my fingers hard against the thick fabric, wishing it was out of the way so I could feel the wetness of my sex, slide my fingers inside. An electric surge of desire rises in me, traveling all the way up through my spine until even my scalp is tingling. Too late, I realize that I no longer hear Milt’s voice coming from the other room. I snatch my wandering hand back to the magazine just as he re-enters the bedroom. Did he notice?

“Sorry, that was my sister,” he says. “Her car won’t start, so I was walking her through some basic troubleshooting over the phone.”

“You fix cars, too?” I ask.

“Only if they’re broken,” he quips with a smile.

“You are a man of many talents,” I observe appreciatively, then add, “Do you have any other special skills?” with a bit too much emphasis on the word ‘other.’

“Well, I can ride a unicycle while playing bagpipes. Does that count?” he answers.

“Seriously?!” I gape.

“No. But wouldn’t it be cool?” he grins.

I laugh and agree that, yes, it would be cool. I love his sense of humor, but am annoyed that he deflected my thinly veiled come-on with a joke. Why is he pulling back? Did I come on too strong? He seems preoccupied.

“Listen,” he says apologetically, “I hate to run out so abruptly, but my sister’s car still wouldn’t start and she is going to be late for work if I don’t give her a ride right now. She just started last week and she really needs this job.”

“Oh,” I say, standing up from the bed. “It’s no problem. I completely understand.”

“Thanks,” he says. “I’ll just grab your CPU and take it with me, then give you a call when it’s fixed, if that’s OK?”

“Sure, that’s fine,” I reply.

He dives back under the desk to untether the computer, again giving me a front-row view of his compact ass and muscled thighs. My mouth waters. In a flash, he is back on his feet with the machine under his arm.

“I’ve got it,” he announces.

“Yes,” I agree pointlessly.

“So, I’ll, uh, call you as soon as it’s ready, probably later today. OK?”

“Yes,” I confirm.

“OK, then,” he says awkwardly, still holding my gaze, as if he’s not sure how to break off our conversation. Or, I think wishfully, maybe he doesn’t want to.

“OK, then,” I parrot, compounding the awkwardness. Eager to end our discomfort, I add cheerily, “I’ll walk you to the door,” and lead him out of the bedroom.

Since his hands are full, I open the front door and usher him through. We don’t speak, except to say goodbye as he hurries down the hall toward the elevator. I close the door and lean against it with a sigh. This wasn’t the goodbye I was dreaming of. In my version of the screenplay, he wouldn’t have a sister. I’d have lured him into bed, had my way with him all night, then made us breakfast. Instead, I’m all alone and all turned on. I retrieve my toys from under the bed, hoping to at least take the edge off my pent-up lust. Thank the good lord for dildos. I may not be able to write without my computer, I joke to myself, but at least I can get some research done!

#

When Milt still hasn’t called by 9:00 PM, I start to worry. Yeah, he was hot and funny and cared about his sister, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a flake. Or worse, he could be a thief. Shit. Maybe his flirtation was fake, the phone call a ruse, just parts of an elaborate scam to steal computers from lonely technohobic women like me. My entire life is on that computer, my calendar, contacts, bank passwords, everything. Most importantly, the draft of my new novel is there, the one I’m due to submit to my editor three days from now. On the strength of my last novel, she gave me a generous advance for bayan escort this one, sight unseen. I spent it months ago.

My left brain tells me in gentle, reassuring tones that I’m just being paranoid and not to worry so much. A much louder voice in my head panics and I grab my phone, dial Milt’s number. After four interminable rings, his voicemail answers. Unsure what to say, I hang up without leaving a message. I pour myself a generous glass of wine to settle my nerves, and then another after the first disappears. I watch TV for a few hours to empty my brain. It works, and I am able to go to bed and sleep, though fitfully.

My dreams begin with Milt, naked under me as I ride him, his eyes closed. I begin slowly, rocking my hips forward and back, feeling the full length of him inside me, then pick up the pace. Suddenly, his eyes fly open and he fixes me with an intense stare. His abs ripple beneath his skin as he arches up like a bucking bronco, impaling me on his cock. Then he is pounding up into me with such strength and speed that I struggle to maintain my balance. I feel his pubic bone slam hard against my clit with each stroke. I come again and again, seemingly without end, unable to control my own body. My vision blurs and I want to collapse onto his chest, but can’t. His strong hands are gripping my shoulders tightly, holding me upright. Muscled, tattooed arms pull me down to meet each thrust.

“Are you ready?” Milt says firmly without slowing his assault, eyes still locked on mine.

“For what?” I ask in a hoarse whisper.

“To lose everything,” he replies, and closes his eyes.

Suddenly, Milt is gone and I’m in my editor’s office. I see blind fury in her face. She is screaming threats at me but I can’t make out the words. She picks up the phone and yells into it. Two security guards appear and yank me from my chair, drag me from the room. I call out for help, beg forgiveness, but no sound escapes my lips. This scene replays in various stripes, but the result is always ruin. Finally, the hopeless nightmare fades and I fall into a dead, dreamless sleep.

#

I wake to the sound of a phone ringing. Groggily, I fumble for my phone on the bedside table and drag it across the sheet to my ear.

“Hello?” I manage, my voice a sultry rasp.

“Angie?” asks a man on the other end.

“Yes, this is Angie,” I affirm, still whiskey-voiced but sounding more like myself this time.

“Oh, good,” he says. “I didn’t recognize your voice at first, thought maybe I’d reached Tallulah.”

Milt! I am wide awake now. Wait, how does this young guy know enough about Depression-era Hollywood stars to name-drop Tallulah Bankhead? Again he has surprised me. I love surprises.

“I just woke up,” I admit.

“Oh, did I wake you?” he asks, sounding genuinely concerned.

“No, it’s no problem at all,” I assure him. “I needed to get up anyway,” I say, looking at the clock, which clicks over to 9:15.

“I’m sorry anyway,” he says. “And I’m sorry for not calling you back yesterday. After I finished fixing your PC, I got, er, wrapped up in something else. By the time I finished it was too late to call.”

“It’s never too late to call me,” I promise. “I’m a night owl.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” he says warmly.

I hear a playful tone in his voice now, and conclude that he’s flirting. My heart speeds up, and I respond in kind.

“So, now that you’ve fixed my computer, are you planning to bring it back,” I ask teasingly, playing up the husky tone in my voice, “or do I have to come get it?”

“Actually,” he says, “I was hoping you could come down to the lab to pick it up. I’m here working on a project that you might find interesting.”

“Ooh,” I purr, “an invitation to the secret laboratory. Who could resist?”

#

Exactly one hot shower, one cup of coffee, and one hour later, I arrive at the lab. Milt’s directions were excellent and I luck into a parking space right in front of the building. Things are finally starting to go my way. A sign in the window reads simply, “The Lab” in stenciled orange letters on a dark background. The door is unlocked so I pull it open and walk in. Once again, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the lab is still not what I was expecting.

First of all, there is no workbench topped with bubbling beakers of neon liquid, no buzzing electrodes, no humming machinery. Instead, the first thing I see is a pair of well-worn sofas. They bracket a coffee-table stacked with empty pizza boxes and energy-drink cans. In another corner, padded folding chairs surround a shabby conference table, which is flanked by floor-to-ceiling whiteboards. A tall, overstuffed bookcase sags against the wall and foosball table stands in the middle of the floor. Rather than a laboratory, the place looks like a low-rent blend of office space and frat house.

Second of all, the place appears deserted. Where is Milt? Besides the main entrance, there is a door by the bookcase, but it’s closed. Should I knock? Unsure, I kill time by taking a closer look at the whiteboards. One is covered by a Byzantine flow chart in which colored lines interconnect dozens of cryptically labeled rectangles, diamonds, and cylinders. The other whiteboard is filled with indecipherable writing. I recognize the words, but they are strung together randomly into senseless, oddly punctuated phrases like “Inherits System.Web.Services.WebService.”

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