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Four Bidding For Love (a novel)

Part 17: A Very Mutual Dismay (9/1/12)

     Her mind buzzing with the happy prospects for profits from finally assembling the Conrad Veidt poster series—and perhaps boosting the auction value of her small appliance collection with the bonus Acme toaster—Alexia drove straight home to free herself from the punishing cardboard restraint which she'd fashioned to flatten her bust.
     Robin had come through splendidly, besting the conniving Ross's glamorous negotiator, and Alexia wondered what she could offer to her neighbor as a thank-you.
     A home-cooked meal was always welcome, but seemed too pallid a reward for such a victory, and her thoughts shifted to preparing for her house and dogsitting stint which was scheduled to begin the day after tomorrow. Pulling into a curbside parking spot a block from her flat, Alexia thought, I won't rest easy until Robin has the poster and bonus toaster in hand. I'll have to remind him to plug it in and make sure it works; it would be just like Ross to pass off a dead appliance as valuable.
     Robin had left Kylie in a similarly buoyant mood—the angels of love at first sight were finally raising their impatient voices—and headed straight home, arriving by happenstance at the same time as Alexia.
     "You did splendidly," Alexia gushed as they reached the entry to her flat. "I don't know how you squeezed that toaster out of them, and I don't want to know. I just hope I can repay you somehow."
     Robin waved away her gratitude and Alexia suddenly grimaced in obvious discomfort. "Now I need another favor. Can you help me out of this contraption? It's cut off the circulation to my arms and I've gone numb."
     As Alexia slowly removed the battered fedora and let her alder-blond locks fall to her shoulders, Robin took in the rest of her thrift-store disguise. "Contraption?"
     Alexia issued a wry guffaw. "The thing I rigged up to flatten my boobs. It was like a three-hour mammogram. It worked, though; wasn't I horribly mannish?"
     Marveling at the prospect of seeing the engineering wonder which had compressed her bountiful womanhood, Robin followed Alexia into her flat.
     Once inside, Alexia closed the door and turned her back to Robin, saying, "Could you help me out of this coat?"
     Politely complying, Robin eased the tight-shouldered jacket from her shoulders and carefully slipped it off her arms. In all their many months as neighbors and friends, Robin had never been close enough to smell her hair, and on this day she smelled most wonderfully unlike the disheveled male she'd played at the craft fair.
     Alexia turned to the task of unbuttoning her men's long-sleeved shirt and addressed her helpful neighbor in a tone of scandalized astonishment. "I'll tell you how well this getup worked. Some bum took me for a fellow beggar. Imagine, a 31-year old woman passing for a bum. Sometimes I surprise even myself."
     Suppressing his own amusement, Robin replied evenly, "Luckily you didn't have to rescue me from an axe murderer."
     "For awhile there I wondered if I needed to rescue you from that tart Ross recruited."
     "Kylie's a very nice girl," Robin remarked coolly, and Alexia shucked the shirt and tossed it on the nearby sofa with a sigh of relief. "Of course she is, and we're both delighted the axe-murderer bowed out of the proceedings."
     Robin was about to reveal his confusion of Dewey and Ross, but Alexia's removal of her shirt offered an overwhelming distraction. With her shirt off, Robin could see her creamy skin and the stiff double cardboard pieces sandwiched between two stretched black lace bras which had been put into service restraining Alexia's natural bounty. Though he'd prepared himself not to be affected by her bared flesh, his planned disregard failed utterly; for with the warm musky scent of her perfume in his nostrils and the softness of her tawny hair at his fingertips, he was suddenly alert to his neighbor's unaffected sexiness.
     "If you could just take off the cardboard," Alexia said, and Robin detected both her constricted breathing and her embarrassment.
     "No problem," Robin said, and then discovered to his dismay just how tight the brassieres were stretched. "How did you manage to latch these?" he asked, and Alexia's embarrassment turned into a slight blush. "Let's just say some contortionism was required."
     Shamed by his fumbling fingers and confused by the multiple straps—intimate wear was not part of his daily experience—Robin unsnapped both clasps. With a nearly audible release of constrained flesh bursting free, the cardboard and bras fairly flew off as Alexia's bustline returned to its youthfully firm curves.
     To their mutual dismay, the ejected cardboard pieces fell to the floor and the snarled bra straps slipped to her elbows.
     Anxious to right his mortifying faux pas, Robin reached round and tried to pull the intertwined bras up to cover her just as Alexia was trying to untangle the straps and lace. Realizing they were at cross purposes, she instinctively sought to cover herself with her hands; but Robin's intervention effectively halted her protective action, and with a strangled apology he redoubled his efforts to pull the hopelessly snarled lace over her ripely exposed bustline.
     Crimson with embarrassment, Alexia flailed about with the vigor of a freshly caught trout, further entangling Robin's unhelpful hand in the interlaced bras. The more she wriggled and writhed, the more her exposed breasts announced their sumptuous freedom from restraint, and the more ineffectual Robin's aid became.
     Relinquishing all hope of a speedy resolution to their entanglement, Alexia froze and took a deep breath. "Okay, stop."

Next: Sweet Payback

To read the previous chapters, visit the "Four Bidding For Love" home page.

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My non-fiction books:

Resistance, Revolution, Liberation: A Model for Positive Change (print edition)
Resistance, Revolution, Liberation: A Model for Positive Change (Kindle edition)
An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times (print edition)
An Unconventional Guide (Kindle edition)
Survival+: Structuring Prosperity for Yourself and the Nation
Survival+ (Kindle edition)
Survival+ The Primer
Survival+ The Primer (Kindle edition)
Weblogs & New Media: Marketing in Crisis
Marketing in Crisis (Kindle edition)

My other six novels and assorted stories: (sample chapters and the stories)

Claire's Great Adventure
Kama Sutra Cadillac
Of Two Minds
Verona in Spring
For My Daughter
I-State Lines

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