Chapter 4: Interlude

Erik pulled out of the parking lot, absently noting the traffic conditions as he reviewed the morning’s events. The meeting with Gavin had gone about as he expected. She wasn’t going to turn down the money. He know that what made his offer irresistible was his willingness to fund something risky that nobody else would touch. Every professor worth their PhD was certain have some secret passion, some long shot that they never thought would see the light of day.

Erik laughed. It was like throwing chunks of raw meat to starving dogs. While it might turn into a real fur ball, some great ideas would hopefully come out of it. He loved finding people’s secret motivations and then aligning their passions to his purpose. His skill in doing that was a large part of his success in turning around failing companies.

For the last few months, however, he had been without an assignment. He was bored. Scuba diving in the Maldives had been fun, but he had discovered that vacation travel without someone to share the experience was lonely. Even though there had been plenty of willing bed partners, none of those women had filled whatever it was that was missing for him.

He came back vaguely dissatisfied and eager to begin the new assignment that had been waiting for him. Once he dug into the numbers, however, it quickly became clear that the owners had been lying to themselves and everyone else. The situation was impossible. He told them that their only option was to close it down and walk away.

Then he went back home and looked for something to do. The next possible assignment would start until the fall. In the meantime, he built a new kitchen table in his wood shop. The Archaeology project had been fun to get started, but now he had two months until the proposals came in.

That train of thought brought him back to Melissa. He felt a warm sense of hope that grew bolder as he drove home.

She was very attractive. From the way she had carried herself when she first came into Gavin’s office, he had immediately sensed a strong and lively intelligence. Very soon after, he had realized there was a mutual sexual attraction.

He had, however, pushed that attraction away. He needed to focus on the meeting with the department chair. Even though he had been doing his best to ignore it, the intensity of the feeling had constantly nudged at him, hinting at something deeper. There seemed to be some connection, a compatibility of natures, as though there were two parts coming together to make a whole.

He had finally tested the connection he was hoping to find in the room upstairs. Her response had made it clear that despite her headstrong nature, a current of submissiveness ran through her sexuality. What surprised him the most was that she seemed completely oblivious to her hidden passion, even though all her responses had been powerful and immediate.

He took a slow, deep breath to relax the tension that had been building inside. He really hoped that Melissa would be more than a one week fling. It would be nice to have something to do until the next assignment came along in a couple of months.