By: Megan Hart

There’s a fine line between sympathy and empathy. This was my work. I dealt with grief, and this job might also be my life, but it wasn’t also my grief.

The e-mail from Mrs. Smith had an innocuous subject line. “Account information.” It could have said “Information about your fuck buddies,” and it wouldn’t have mattered. I had correspondence from Mrs. Smith and her gentlemen sent to a private e-mail address I accessed only from my laptop.

My account information showed a credit. Normally, missing the appointment wouldn’t have meant anything. Clients paid whether or not they showed. There were no refunds, unless the escort had to cancel. But Jack hadn’t canceled. He’d been unable to find me. I’d figured that three hundred bucks to be lost.

Mrs. Smith didn’t seem to agree. Her polite tone and careful phrases were always the same. I pictured Judi Dench in red lipstick every time I read one of Mrs. Smith’s messages. This time, she was offering to reschedule the “missed appointment” at my convenience.

I looked around my dark apartment. The only light came from my laptop screen, balanced now on my lap as I curled up on the couch. My iTunes shuffled through old favorites. Did I want to reschedule? Really?

It had been a week since I’d met Sam the stranger. An entire week in which I’d tried to forget him. I hadn’t been too successful.

I set my laptop on the coffee table and went to the bathroom, where I climbed into the shower before the water had time to get hot. I hissed when the needles of cold spray stung my skin, but contrary to popular belief the cold water did nothing to quench my libido.


It was all I could think about. Sam’s hands. His mouth. Oh, God, his legs, going all the way up to the fucking moon. The noises he’d made.

Was he thinking of me? Did he pick up women all the time in bars, take them to his room? Fuck them breathless the way he’d done to me?

If I went back there, would I find him again?

No longer a stranger, then. What would I do if I saw him again? More importantly, what would he do?

By the time the water was hot enough to make steam, my hand was between my legs. Shower gel slicked my skin, but I didn’t need any extra lubrication. I’d been wet for a week, thinking about Sam. Thinking about strange.

I touched my clit with two fingers. The other hand went up against the glass brick of my shower wall. I closed my eyes, picturing Sam’s face. Remembering the feeling of him inside me. How he’d smelled. Tasted. The length of his prick.

I wanted to feel it again in my fist and my cunt. My mouth. I wanted to take him down the back of my throat…Oh, God. Muscles in my thighs jerked and quivered as the tension built higher and higher.

I could get myself off in a minute or two this way, with the shower pounding down all around me. I could come in the steam, with the rush of the water pounding in my ears. I wanted to, certainly. And I was going to, in a few seconds more.

My hand slipped on the glass, old bricks from a halfhearted renovation that had never been fully completed. My clit pulsed. I was coming…and pain shot through my palm as I stared, made stupid by pleasure, at the blood welling up from the cut just below my right pinkie. Water washed away the blood, but it came right back. Pain and pleasure tangled together as my body tipped over into orgasm.

I held my hand under the spray as I caught my breath. The wound didn’t look deep, but it stung under the water and the edges separated to reveal more red beneath. Looking at it churned my stomach. I got out of the shower and wrapped my hand in a towel, but by then the bleeding had slowed enough I needed only a bandage to cover it.

The shower off, I searched the glass brick but could find no sign of a chip or crack. I didn’t want to find it with my fingers, either, so I didn’t run my hands over the glass. I’d have to be more careful, I thought as I dried the rest of my body and slipped an oversize T-shirt over my head. It wasn’t the first time I’d made myself come or bleed in the shower, though I wasn’t sure how I would explain exactly how it had happened to anyone who cared to ask.

In my living room, the laptop had gone to sleep. It took only the touch of a fingertip to the keyboard to wake it. Mrs. Smith’s e-mail hadn’t disappeared. The offer still stood.

“Hello. You have reached Mrs. Smith’s Services for Ladies.” Mrs. Smith really did sound like Judi Dench. “If you are calling to make an appointment, please leave your name and telephone number, and one of our representatives will return your call shortly.”

“Hello,” I said briskly into the mouthpiece of my phone. “This is Miss Underfire. I’d like to reschedule the appointment that was inadvertently canceled last Thursday, but I’d like to change the services. Please have someone call me for the details.”

Then, the dirty deed done, I sat back and waited.

I didn’t wait long. Mrs. Smith’s gentlemen were used to being called on short notice. Jack returned my call within half an hour. I knew he’d been paged, but not what he’d been told.

“Hi, is this Miss Underfire?”

“It is.”

“This is Jack.”

“Hi, Jack.” I studied the bandage on my hand. It had crinkled at the sides, and I could see a hint of pink beneath the beige adhesive. “What happened last week?”