Indecent Experiment

By: Megan Hart

The soft-looking overstuffed sofa was the only other furniture in the room, along with a thick, plush rug and two small end tables with lamps on them. She didn’t get the purpose of the lamps at first, what with the heavy-duty fluorescent lights providing more than ample light from overhead, but then she got it.

Mood lighting.

All at once this was scarier than she’d thought it would be. She smoothed her hair, then the hem of her blouse, the front of her skirt. She’d dressed nicely, but not too nice. Nothing too low cut or short, nothing too clingy.

Shit. This was—

The door opened and a man ducked in. She caught a glimpse of broad shoulders before he looked up at her with eyes she couldn’t have said were green or brown from this distance, only that they were not brilliant blue, the color she’d noted as her favorite. Nor did he have thick dark hair falling rakishly over his forehead. Instead, he wore his sandy hair in a short cut that emphasized his face—not an unpleasant face, but certainly nothing she’d have bookmarked on her computer to use as her desktop wallpaper. Not cover-model material.

Also, not entirely unfamiliar. It took her a few seconds to figure out where she’d seen him. Ah, the bar just last night when Gina was wriggling around with his friend. They hadn’t said more than a few words to each other, and only those for social nicety. And this was the guy they’d picked out for her?


He looked just as surprised to see her, and the blatant way he looked her up and down made Melissa’s cheeks heat. She lifted her chin and crossed her arms. Okay, so maybe she wasn’t cover-model material, either.

“Hi, I’m Matt.” He held out his hand and she took it to shake way too firmly.

“Melissa,” she said.

They stared at each other in silence for a second. So much for her request for “a great conversationalist,” she thought. He was taller than she was, but not by the five or six inches she’d listed as an attribute that melted her butter. Matt stood maybe five foot ten or so, just an inch or two over her. So far, nothing about him seemed at all what she’d said she liked best.

“We met last night,” she offered.

Matt snapped his fingers. “Right, right. Wow. Did your friend make it home okay?”

“I don’t know,” Melissa said with a laugh. “Did yours?”

“Good point. I don’t know. So…” Matt said, and let the word hang.

“So,” Melissa repeated, then figured she ought to take charge, or else this wasn’t going to go anywhere. “You got the instructions, right?”

He nodded and the way his gaze shifted toward the bed told her a lot. So did the way he was surreptitiously checking out her chest. Melissa forced herself to stand up straight and uncross her arms. Let him get a good, long look. She wasn’t ashamed of being an A cup. She could go without a bra any time she liked. Some men liked that.

“Yeah. So, uh…I guess we’re here until ten, right? And we have to hold hands.”

“Tonight, yeah, we just have to hold hands.”

“Awkward,” Matt said.

To Melissa’s surprise, she laughed. Some of the tension between them broke, or maybe it just started to melt. “No kidding. But hey. A thousand bucks, right?”

He grinned. He had a nice smile. A little too crooked, and his two front teeth overlapped too much to be really cute, but overall, not too bad. He was nowhere near what she’d put down that she liked, but it could’ve been worse. He could’ve been a troglodyte.

“Yeah. Can’t beat that, huh?”

“No. I guess not. Do you want to sit?” Melissa gestured, and Matt sat.

She joined him a half a minute later, figuring there was no time to start but now. They faced each other, knees turned in but not touching. She had to scoot a little toward him in order to reach his hands, but he was already holding his out for her.

They both laughed again when they took each other’s hands. Nervous, awkward laughter. There was no way she could’ve subtly wiped her palms before she took his hands, and Melissa winced as they slip-slid against each other. Well, at least he was sweating, too. Which might be gross but meant she wasn’t alone in her anxiety. Somehow, this made it a little better.

“Wow,” Matt said after a second, and let out a shaky breath. “Phew. Who knew it would be so hard, huh?”

“It’s just holding hands. Kids do it all the time. No reason grown-ups should feel strange about it,” Melissa said, though she agreed.

“Sometimes in church they do this prayer circle thing where everyone’s supposed to join hands and send around a squeeze of peace,” Matt said.

Oh, Lord. Was he religious? Melissa wasn’t sure this was going to work out at all if she had to listen to a lecture about church. She gave him a faint smile. “Sounds like something we used to do in Girl Scouts. One person starts it while you’re all closing your eyes—”

“And it goes around the circle until it gets back to the leader!” Matt said. “Yeah!”

“Yeah.” Melissa’s smile was a little less excited than his.

Matt nodded. His fingers relaxed in hers. “Tell you the truth, I hate it.”

Melissa’s laugh came more easily and sounded more natural this time. “Do you? How come?”