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Slow hands and rapid hearts

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“Where the hell is my 4 o’clock? I would like to actually leave on time today,” Clarke huffed in frustration to Sarah, the receptionist, as she paced the front lobby.

“It’s so inconsiderate. I mean how hard is it to be at appointments on time?”

The clock read 4:25 p.m. It had been a slow Monday due to the weather, and all she wanted was to go home and curl up on the couch.

“Maybe they got stuck in traffic? It is raining pretty hard out there,” Sarah said, attempting to quell the woman's irritation.

“Maybe. But still! At the very least they could call and say they’re going to be late. I mean, it’s not that hard to pick up a phone,” Clarke sighed in exasperation.

At that very moment a woman walked into the lobby, a cold gust of wind billowing close behind her as she struggled to shut the door.

“Sorry I’m late,” the woman said almost sheepishly.

Clarke whirled around, intending to give the woman a piece of her mind when suddenly, the words caught in her throat. The woman was stunning, albeit, a little dirty.

She was tall and slender, maybe a few years older than Clarke, with olive toned skin and dark, wild curly hair. She wore a forest green overcoat with a plain navy blue sweater beneath, with skinny jeans and laced up brown leather boots caked in mud. Something black was smudged on her right cheek, perhaps motor grease. She shook off the water on her umbrella as she stepped farther into the lobby.

“I promise I’m not usually late like this,” she said as she placed her umbrella in the bin by the door and hung her coat on the coat rack.

“My sister’s motorcycle broke down on the side of the road on my way here, and I couldn’t leave her in this weather,” she said as she gestured outside the glass doors of the lobby. Rain was coming down in sheets.

Clarke’s expression softened. Any frustration she previously had towards the woman vanished.

Damn, that’s actually a decent excuse.

“That must explain the grease smudge then,” Clarke said after a beat as she reached her hand towards the woman’s face before catching herself. “May I?” she hesitated.

The woman looked at Clarke’s outstretched hand a moment before nodding. Clarke took half a step forward as she wiped the small stain from the woman’s face. Their eyes locked for a moment as Clarke couldn’t help but stare.

They were a light green with tiny flecks of orange around her pupil, like a star bursting as it fizzled out of existence. As quickly as their eyes settled on one another, they darted away just as swiftly.

She took half a step back before outstretching her hand to the woman.

“Hi I’m Clarke, I’ll be your massage therapist today,” she said with a warm smile.

The woman’s lips curled with a hint of a smile as she shook Clarke’s hand. “I’m Lexa,” she said softly.

“If you’ll follow me back here Lexa, I’ll show you to your room.”

The smell of essential oils and expensive lotions wafted past them as they made their way down the dark hallway.

Clarke led them into a dimly lit room with a table in the center and a chair in the corner. A small stereo in the corner played soothing music one would hear at a spa.

“Lexa, if you’d like to undress while I go grab your patient sheet, I’ll give you a few minutes of privacy to get comfortable and then we’ll get started.”

“Thank you,” she replied as Clarke left the room.

Lexa took off her sweater and jeans, folding them neatly on the chair. She then pried her mud-caked boots off and set them under the chair as she stripped down to a sports bra and spandex shorts. She climbed onto the table and under the sheet, placing her head in the face hole at the end of the table, taking a deep breath as she tried to relax.

A few moments later she heard a soft knock at the door.

“Hi Lexa, are you comfortable? Can I come in?”

“Yes,” she replied as Clarke stepped into the room.

Lexa listened to her quiet footsteps as she walked around the side of the table.

“Have you ever had a massage before?” Clarke asked quietly.

“Oh yes. Many times.”

“It says here most of the pain you experience is in your upper back and shoulders. Is that correct?”

“Yes,” she replied, shifting slightly on the table. “I don’t need a full body massage, just the shoulders.”

“You sure? You’re paying for a full body.”

“Yes, I’m sure,” Lexa said softly, but firm.

Clarke set the clipboard down and walked over to the essential oils station and put a generous dab of oil on her palms. As she turned back to the table where Lexa lay, she paused as she noticed she still had her sports bra on.

“Would you prefer to keep your sports bra on? If so that’s fine, but I might get some oil on it.”

“Yeah… I think I’d feel more comfortable with it on.”

“That’s perfectly fine! Just checking,” Clarke said reassuringly, noting the hesitance in her voice.

Odd. Most people have no problem shedding clothes during a massage. Especially if she’s had one before. Oh well.

Clarke rubbed her palms together quickly to heat her hands before gently placing them on Lexa’s shoulders as she began to work her thumbs in circles near the base of her neck. After a few moments, she could tell the girl was still tense. She paused.

“Relax,” she whispered as she lightly scratched her nails down Lexa’s back. Lexa visibly shivered, the action giving her goosebumps.

“You’re really tense,” Clarke murmured, hoping the sound of her voice would put her at ease.

“I get that a lot.”

Clarke began working on Lexa’s shoulders again, firmly working out the knots in the woman’s back.

“You’ve got a lot of knots,” Clarke said, trying to coax the girl into conversation so she would relax a little.

“I get that a lot too,” Lexa said, almost dismissively.

Okay, so she’s not the chatty type. That’s fine…

After a few minutes of silence, Lexa spoke.

“You can go harder. You won’t hurt me.”

Clarke dug a little harder into her shoulders, working out the massive knots along her shoulder blades while trying not to get too much oil on her sports bra.

“This good?”

“Actually, you can go a bit harder,” Lexa said. Clarke hesitated.

“You sure? I’m digging pretty hard.”

“You won’t break me,” the woman replied matter-of-factly.

Kinky. Clarke smiled to herself before shaking her head. Cut it out Clarke, be professional.

She pushed harder.

“This better?”

Lexa groaned a little under the new pressure.

“Yeah,” she grunted. “Perfect.”

Someone’s got a high pain tolerance. Must explain the tattoo, she thought as she observed a tiny bit of a spinal tattoo creeping out above and below her sports bra.

She saw enough to know it was there, but not enough to tell what it was or what it could represent. She didn’t ask.

I wonder where that leads.

After a few minutes, Lexa’s body relaxed, eventually going limp on the table. She had fallen asleep.

                                                        ***

Forty-five minutes later, Clarke gently roused the girl.

“Lexa?” she asked, setting her hand gently on her shoulder. Lexa stirred and lifted her head. Her eyes were sleepy and confused.

“Did I fall asleep?” she asked in a gravelly voice.

“You did,” Clarke smiled, trying not to laugh at how adorable the sleepy girl was.

“Huh.” Lexa sat up on the table, rubbing her eyes and smoothing her hair. “I’ve never fallen asleep during a massage before.”

Clarke stood by the table, organizing the room before she left for the day.

“Never?” she asked, wiping down her arms and hands from the oil.

“No. Most people don’t dig as hard as I like. Or they’ll do it for a few minutes before reverting back, but you’re the only one who stayed consistent.”

Clarke turned to face the woman.

“Glad I could help,” she smiled. Lexa looked intently at Clarke, studying her face for a moment before glancing at the clock. It was 5:30 p.m.

Clarke turned to leave when Lexa spoke.

“Do you have any more clients the rest of the day?” Lexa stood from the table and grabbed her pants from the chair.

“Oh, do you want me to give you some priv-“ Clarke began. “No you’re fine,” Lexa cut her off, facing Clarke as she stuck one leg through her pants.

Clarke tried not to stare. Not only was her face stunning, but so was her body. Her abdominal muscles rippled as she bent down to pull her foot through the leg hole.

Holy shit she’s gorgeous.

Clarke snapped back to attention.

“I-no, no I don’t have any more clients today. 4 o’clock appointments are usually the last appointments of the day for me,” she replied, grateful for the dim lighting while trying not to sound too flustered.

“Oh,” Lexa said simply as she pulled her shirt over her head and sat to put her boots on. “I apologize for keeping you late.”

“You’re perfectly fine,” Clarke said reassuringly. “I’m glad you enjoyed the session.”

Lexa looked up at Clark and gave a crooked half smile. She turned to leave the room before Lexa stopped her.

“Clarke?” Lexa asked softly. She turned in the doorway.

“Do you make house calls?”

Never.

“Yes,” Clarke replied firmly, trying her best to not make it sound like a question. She turned toward the girl more fully. “But it costs more."

“Wonderful,” Lexa smiled fully this time, looking down to tie her shoes. “Money isn’t a problem.”

Is that so? She’s so young though. Trust fund maybe?

“Great! Did you want to schedule that today, or…?”

“Yes, do I schedule it at the front desk when I check out or-“ Lexa started before Clarke cut her off. “No, you can just tell me now or give me a call when you're ready,” she said as she pulled a business card out of her pocket.

She didn’t want her boss finding out she was giving private massages on her own time.

“I’ll have to come after 5 if it’s a house call, but that shouldn’t be a problem,” she said as she pulled out a pen.

Lexa finished tying her boot and walked slowly up to Clarke as she scribbled a number on the back of the card.

“This is my business card, but here is my cell number. You can call or text me your address when you’re ready to book another session,” she said as she handed the card to Lexa.

“How about this Wednesday?”

Wow, that’s soon.

“Yeah, that works.”

“Perfect,” Lexa smiled. “It was nice to meet you, Clarke,” she said as she extended her hand.

“Nice to meet you, Lexa,” Clarke replied as she shook her hand.

They locked eyes for a moment.

“So, do I pay up front, or…?” Lexa asked, breaking the handshake first.

“Oh, yeah Sarah will take care of you up front.”

“Great, see you Wednesday Clarke,” Lexa said as she scooted past Clarke through the doorframe

“Yes, Wednesday,” Clarke replied, a little late on the draw. “See you then.”

She watched a small smirk cross Lexa’s lips before she turned and walk down the hall to the front desk. Clarke started a moment before she turned around to finish cleaning.

Holy shit, what are the chances? Clarke thought as she stripped the table of the sheets. Hot and willing to pay more for a house call? Wednesday will be interesting.

Clarke finished cleaning the room and began gathering her things before heading out. Sarah was still at the front desk scrolling on her phone by the time she reached the lobby.

“Still here?” Clarke asked Sarah.

“Yep, I’m fixing to head out too,” Sarah replied, not bothering to glance away from her phone. Clarke went to grab her coat off the rack before Sarah caught her attention.

“Have a good session? That girl sure tipped you nicely.”

“Oh yeah?” Clarke asked, putting her coat on.

“Yeah, and it’s in cash,” she replied, handing Clarke a crisp $100 dollar bill.

“Shit,” she muttered, staring at the bill. “That’s the biggest tip I’ve ever received from a customer.”

“Well, you must’ve done something right. See you tomorrow Clarke,” Sarah said as she stood up to stretch.

“See you tomorrow Sarah!” Clarke said as she walked out the door and into the storm.