This is the third part of a fiction serial, in 1200 words.
Steve got home late that evening. Everyone had been expected to stay on, as the boss was frantic about getting the paperwork finished. He had phoned Ellie to let her know, and she had decided to go out for a meal with her gay friend, Lee. With the house empty until she got home, he slid a frozen pizza into the oven, and changed into a T-shirt and shorts. The memory of the washing machine flashed into his head, and he checked at the side of the house. It was gone. After eating mechanically, he checked his phone again.
The earlier email had definitely stepped up a gear. Sophie had signed it ‘Love, Sophie’, and added four kisses this time. Steve deleted the thread, then plugged the phone into his laptop to transfer the photo she had sent. Once that was on the computer, he deleted it from his phone too. Better safe than sorry. Drumming his fingers on the trackpad, he thought about what he was going to say in his reply.
‘Dear Sophie, thanks for the earlier email and photo. Sorry I am replying so late, but it got crazy at work today. It was nice of you to send me a photo, so I can imagine your face as I type. I have to say that you look very attractive, and find it hard to believe that you are on your own, without a partner. At least your cat is very lucky to have you. Yes, it would be nice to be friends. I am often lonely, to be honest, though that might sound a bit mad, when you know I’m married. Regards, Steve. xxx’
He re-read the email, and was content to have been relaxed, as well as not going with the same four kisses as she had. Then he pressed send. The reply came back so fast, he was sure that she must have just been sitting waiting for him to contact her.
‘Dear Steve, thank you so much for saying I look attractive. That means the world to me, it really does. That photo was used on the company website a few years ago, not long after I started. But I am much the same now. I am so sorry that you feel lonely in a marriage, but I have heard so many people say similar things. Well you have me as a friend now, so you don’t have to be lonely anymore. Can you send me a photo too, Steve? I would also like to see the face that goes with the voice. Love, Sophie. xxxx’
Her remark about the photo worried him a little. He already thought she looked older than twenty-nine, and if that shot was a few years old, he wondered why she hadn’t just taken a selfie today, and sent him that. Still, it seemed only fair, to send one of him in return. He went up to the bedroom and stood opposite the mirrored doors of the big wardrobe. Ruffling his hair a little, and adopting a friendly grin, he took a series of photos on his phone. Choosing the one he thought showed him off the best, he transferred it to the laptop, and added it to his reply.
‘Dear Sophie, well this is me in casual mode. I need a shave, and I’m not very smartly dressed, but it is what it is. Like most people, I don’t really like looking at photos of myself, but I hope that you like it. Regards, Steve. xxx’
Once again, she replied so quickly, he wondered if she had even had time to read his email.
‘Oh, Steve. WOW. I knew you would be nice, but had no idea how handsome and sexy you would look. I’m rather overwhelmed, to be honest. Your photo has really set my pulse racing tonight, I can tell you. I’m so pleased that we delivered the parcel to the wrong address, or I might never have got to meet you. I doubt I will sleep later, as I will be looking at your photo, and thinking all sorts of things. I’m blushing now. Lots of love, Sophie. xxxx’
He shook his head and smiled as he read that. She had ramped things up to ‘Lots of love, Sophie’ now, and was a bit over the top with her remarks about what he looked like. But it wasn’t a bad thing for a stranger to think you were sexy and good-looking, he had to admit that to himself. He wasn’t sure what to reply, but before he got the chance, another email arrived, with a photo attachment.
‘Dear sexy Steve, here’s a very big kiss, just for you. You have got me trembling all over. Lots of love, Sophie. xxxxx’
She had gone to five kisses now. He opened the photo, and at first he was not too sure what it was. A close-up, very close-up. A pair of full lips, photographed in great detail. Her lipstick was deep red, and the lips were luscious indeed, pouting slightly. Steve had to admit that she had made a good choice. He hadn’t kissed another woman since he met Ellie, and the sight of those big red lips filling the screen made him imagine exactly what it might be like to kiss them. He felt rather excited, and not a little aroused too. A beep shook him from those thoughts. Another email from her.
‘Dear Steve, I hope that you like the photo of my lips. Can you imagine them kissing you? I hope that you can, because I am imagining kissing every inch of you right now. Lots of love, Sophie. xxxxx’
Well she was certainly moving things on, no doubt about that. She was perceptive too, because he could indeed imagine the kisses she was writing about. So much so, that his face had become flushed, and he was even unconsciously wiggling his toes inside the espadrilles he had on his feet. But he was unsure what to say in reply. How do you behave in such situations? He had never experienced this kind of communication before, though he had heard some guys at work talk about their experiences on dating websites. He thought for a moment, then clicked on ‘Reply’.
Before he could type one word, he heard the noise of a diesel-engined car pull up outside the house. It must be Ellie, back from her dinner with Lee. She had obviously taken a taxi, as Lee had probably had too many drinks to be able to drive her home. He closed the laptop, and slid it down the side of the sofa.
Ellie looked hot and bothered. She kicked off her shoes in the doorway, before popping her head around to give Steve the briefest of smiles. “I’m so hot, love. Lee got roaring drunk, all upset about breaking up with his latest man. I’m going to have a shower and get to bed. You OK?” Steve nodded. “Fine thanks, but it is warm tonight, isn’t it?” She was halfway up the stairs before he had finished talking, showing no interest in his reply whatsoever.