Ever Unknown

By: Charlotte Stein

Chapter One

The email looked like nothing at all, really. No fancy fonts, no exclamation points—red or otherwise—nothing with any urgency in the subject line. Just the words, ‘for your attention,’ without a capital letter amongst them.

Followed by a few abrupt sentences about nothing in particular. Molly Hunt had read a thousand like it before, and never batted an eye.

But she batted an eye for this one. Oh, she batted an eye, all right. Mainly because of the last line, which at first glance, didn’t seem like anything at all.

I would be deliciously pleased if you could rectify this issue.

Until she looked back, and found that, yes, this person really had, in fact, included the word “deliciously,” right in front of “pleased.” And whoever it was had used the word “pleased,” too, instead of something far more innocuous, like grateful. As though the email sender derived the greatest possible satisfaction from the idea of her filing her forms in the exact precise place.

Because that’s what the rest of the email had been about. Filing. This person had noticed that she’d filed something in the red box, instead of the green box, and he’d be deliciously pleased if she managed to rectify said filing mishap, as soon as possible.

Then he’d signed it not with a name she could search out, or a company ID she could unearth, but his initials…E.U. Like the conglomeration of European countries, only smaller, and hopefully a person. Even his email address looked to be an outside one, and said little more than those two letters—[email protected]

He could have been anybody—maybe it wasn’t even a he she was dealing with. Maybe it was Louisa in accounting who had a fetish for the word deliciously and hated bad filing. Maybe it was all just a mistake, some overzealous punching at the keyboard and somehow the word deliciously just fumbled its way in there, elbowing past more sane word choices to sit proudly amidst an otherwise normal email.

She’d had similar brain farts herself, though usually they involved typing the word butt when she’d meant but, as in that notorious email to the head of marketing. The one that had somehow ended up suggesting he use his ass instead of premium stock white card.

These things happened. So she wasn’t sure, exactly, why she was still thinking about it hours later. The word grew huge and curling behind her eyes, like something enchanted out of a genie’s bottle. It danced, and wriggled its hips, and said disturbing things like, if you reply, use a similarly incongruous word. Make it really out there like, “I’m so glad you caught my sexy error. I’d be only too happy to stroke it to correction.”

She wasn’t even sure what stroke it to correction meant, but God it sounded wrong and possibly filthy. Had he meant it in a filthy way? Probably not. Maybe he’d just intended it to sound sweet and about food. Perhaps he’d seen her eating a sandwich, and wanted to reassure her that it was okay to spill most of it down her front.

She liked him already. He deserved an email in reply, even if doing so made her heart beat a little faster and her mind say, yeah, he meant it in the filthy way. He meant it like “your bum is delicious.” He meant it like, “I just want to take a big bite out of each cheek.” Reply and he’ll get the wrong idea, and start saying even ruder things to you.

But her mind didn’t know what it was talking about, because first of all, no one in the office even remotely looked at her that way—she was invisible, and knew it. And second of all, some pretty mysterious parts of her woke up, apparently, at the words “bite” and “cheek” and “ruder things.”

The cobwebs all over her libido didn’t mind the idea of ruder things. Not at all.

Though none of that was the reason for her responding email, oh no, no, no. No, she just wanted to be polite, and show that she was a good filer, a careful employee—the sort of employee who always did things right. He deserved to know that, because he was obviously the type of men who appreciated someone who did things by the book, and that was rare in this day and age.

So she typed…

Dear E.U.,

I promise, in future, to always do what I’m supposed to.