Can You See Me Now?

by Lubrican

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Chapter Five

Bob didn't get her email until after his second sleep cycle. He happened to come on duty at ten in the morning, and his job sheet was slim that day, so he had ample time to be ready when noon came and it was time to "take a look at Cheyenne Mountain." That was what he had decided he would say if anyone came in, or asked for some reason why he was focused on Colorado.

She came out looking up and waving. He had zoomed in just in case she did something like that, and felt his groin tighten as he saw she was smiling. She didn't even have her top on this time, and when she lay down, she made it obvious she was playing with her breasts. He could see she was pinching her nipples, and he got stiff within fifteen seconds.

And she was doing it, knowing he might be watching.

He watched her for half an hour before he tore himself away and did some actual work. When he looked again, she was gone. He logged onto the internet as an anonymous user and sent her an email right away.

Riley. You're wrong. You're not only beautiful, you're hot. I know I shouldn't say that, but it's true. You know that song, where Aretha says "You make me feel like a natural woman?" Well, you make me feel like a man. It sounds silly to say thank you, but that's all I can do. You are giving me a really special gift, and I'm not taking it for granted. I wish we weren't fifteen hundred miles from each other. Is that creepy? I don't want to creep you out. But I want you to know you're not ordinary. You're just ... Wow! I will confess something to you, but please don't hold it against me. I went to the Bahamas one time on one of my vacations. I didn't meet any women or anything. I saw a lot of them, but I didn't talk to any. But when I saw you today I had this fantasy that I had met you there and that you'd asked me to rub some suntan lotion on your back. Yes, let's just say your back. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to go to the Caribbean again without thinking about that. Just because of you, I'll probably have to take my future vacations in Alaska or somewhere. I'm kidding. But I had to tell you that.


After her little exhibition (and she now thought of it as just that - she was exhibiting herself to him), she went back inside and to her computer. She was excited by her very uncharacteristic willingness to expose herself to this fascinating stranger. It made no sense to her, and yet it was the most exciting thing that had happened to her in years.

Part of the oddness of the whole situation was that she knew this whole crazy "relationship" was good for her. Not only was she tickled emotionally that a man found her attractive, those feelings served her craft as well. She always did better work when she was fired up. Her drawings had always been explicit, particularly when she worked in pen and ink, where thousands of tiny lines and dots were the manual equivalent of pixels on a monitor. But they appeared on the page so much more effortlessly than when she worked with digital materials. Curtis was with Bessie, like he was most days after an early lunch, so she could work uninterrupted. She felt a little guilty about using some of her work time to tease a man she'd never seen, and never would, but that guilt was assuaged when she learned how worked up she got, thinking that Bob might be watching her play with her breasts.

She had resisted masturbating out in the back yard, but it had been difficult. Part of her whispered in her mind that doing that would be slutty behavior, and that he would love it. The part that kept her from doing it was the part that said, "You'd love it too, Riley." Doing slutty things didn't bother her at all. She'd done anything Professor Peterson had suggested, and he'd had a vivid imagination. She had once blown him under the table in a booth at a Cracker Barrel, while he ate his dessert. But she couldn't do things like that for Bob. She hardly knew him! Her mind went back to other things she'd done for Chuck.

Remembering that, she decided she was a slut. She was just a slut with a positive self-image, but she was a slut all the same. She was quite sure that, if there was a man in her life, she'd happily do for him what she'd done for Chuck. It had been as much fun for her as it had for him, after all. At least until she found out he didn't really love her. That part had sucked.

She let her un-sated sexual energy fuel her drawings for an hour. There was no doubt whatsoever that her erotic drawings were better if she worked on them while she was horny. Then she finally took a break to masturbate.

She liked to get her jollies naked, and she was in that condition when she decided to check her email before continuing, just to see if Bob had seen her today. If he had, she knew it would enhance her session. When there was a message from him, her mind whispered "slut" when she felt her pussy dampen even more.

She read it. He was sweet, rather than vulgar, something she hadn't had a lot of experience with. She suddenly wished they weren't fifteen hundred miles away either. She wondered what it would be like to sit and talk with a sweet guy, who thought she was hot. Chuck had sent her emails too, but his emails had been filthy. By any standard, they had been just filthy.

Nobody had ever sent her a love letter. Bob's email didn't rise anywhere near that level, but it was the closest anybody had ever come, and it made her wish she could see him ... maybe flirt with him a little ... see what might come from building a relationship with a man who wasn't a sex fiend.

She read his message again, and then went to sprawl on her bed. She wanted two orgasms today, and she got the first one by simply rubbing her clit in circles with two stiffened fingers until she was there, whereupon she whipped those fingers sideways, back and forth, as fast as she could. The ecstasy was perfect, though not earth shaking. It got her ready for her Rabbit, which she pushed as deep as she could, the little auxiliary buzzer planted firmly on the clit she had just abused. The primary spike rotated inside her, and she didn't have to move at all for things to feel just wonderful.

For perhaps the hundredth time, she told herself she'd find a sex shop and get a longer vibrator, that would reach deeper than the Rabbit did. Even as she thought that, she knew she wouldn't. When a woman went into a place like that, she was stripped naked and fucked to death in the minds of every male in the place, and there were always lots of guys hanging around places like that. She'd only stayed in the one she'd visited in Texas for ten minutes before she left, shuddering and shaken. She'd felt stupid, but she'd never gone back into a brick and mortar "toy" shop. She'd gotten her Rabbit online. The Fed Ex guy who delivered it to her Texas address had smirked, and mentioned (hopefully?) that his girlfriend did business with the same company. It had been creepy. She didn't want to feel creepy about her current delivery driver. He delivered all her art supplies, so she saw him regularly.

The Rabbit delivered a different kind of orgasm, one that made her roll to her side, and draw up her knees. It was the kind that left her panting for breath, even though she hadn't really exerted herself in getting it. The Rabbit had done all the work.

Within a minute of grinding to the end of that wonderful feeling, though, the Rabbit was lying on the bedspread, forgotten, and she was back to work, still naked. She'd work that way for probably another hour, and then put something on, slowly getting dressed until it was time to go get Curtis from Bessie's.

She waited until it was that time before she wrote back to Bob.

I wish we weren't fifteen hundred miles apart either. Is that crazy? We hardly know each other. Why do I have such a strong feeling that you're a nice guy when you have spied on me multiple times and invaded my privacy, and probably even broken laws? Not to mention having naughty fantasies about me. I don't trust men well, Bob, but for some unfathomable reason I want to trust you. Of course it could just be hormones. I have to admit the things you say make me feel good. Jumpy, actually. Knowing you might be watching makes me feel very naughty, and knowing you saw me teasing you today made me ... Never mind what I did. We don't know each other well enough for that. See what I mean? Here I am teasing you, just like I teased you outside. Why am I doing that? I don't know. All I know is that I'm glad you came into my life, as wacky as our relationship is. If you were here, I'd let you rub lotion onto my ... back. I'd better cut this off before I become a total slut. See you tomorrow.


When she hit the send button, she felt like rubbing again. She took a deep breath, shook her head, and went to get her son.

"What's up with you?" asked Jerry, as he relieved Bob.

"Up with me? Nothing," said Bob, who realized he was grinning as he said it.

"You meet a woman or something?" asked Jerry. Jerry was tall, and broad, and worked out all the time. He dated four or five women, all of whom knew about each other and didn't care. If Jerry gave them part of his time, that was good enough for them. Maybe they were all just into casual sex with no attachments. Bob didn't know. All he knew was that the guy was not only good with women, he was an amazing hacker to boot. More than once Bob had wished he was Jerry Springman.

"Sort of," admitted Bob. "I've been talking to her on Facebook."

"Old friend?" asked Jerry, sounding only mildly interested.

"I don't even want to think about how long we've known each other," quipped Bob. He shouldn't have said anything at all. If you gave bits of information to another analyst, you never knew if they'd hone their skills by presenting you with every scrap of information they'd been able to fill in the blanks with. He'd done it himself.

That ended it, though, because Bob didn't hang around. He had 48 hours to spend any way he liked, and anywhere he liked, and he wasn't going to waste it talking to Jerry. His only regret was that he wouldn't be able to tune into Colorado for two days.

He'd written back to Riley, telling her he'd be off, and that he wouldn't be able to see her. He'd suggested that his world was crashing down around his ears as a result, but then told her he was kidding, and that he could manage his "Riley addiction" without any mind-altering drugs. He also said he was looking forward to being able to see her again the following Wednesday, and that he was going to think about her until then.

The first thing he did was go shopping. It wasn't to buy anything specific, really. He just liked walking around in the mall among so many people. He spent so much time alone at his terminal that he liked being in the crush of people, and hearing the noises they made as they lived their lives.

He wandered into a store called "The Wizard's Den" and was reminded of a picture Riley had sent him, when he had asked what she did for a living. She'd sent him the book cover of the dragon eating the virgin sacrifice. He'd been knocked out by the intricacy of the drawing, and had told her he was going to commission her to draw something for him, as soon as he could decide what.

He looked at dozens of figurines of wizards, holding staffs with glass balls on top, or swinging the staff, as if they were in battle. One had a wizard waving his hands over some indefinable object on a table. They were quite good. On impulse he approached the clerk, a pretty young woman who was pierced in at least five or six places on her face.

"Do you have anything that depicts a female wizard?" he asked.

She blinked several times as she thought.

"Well, most people would refer to a female as a mage. That gets around the sexism of calling a woman a wizardess unless she completes an apprenticeship under the supervision of a Wizard. But so few women do, because the apprenticeship is so long, you know? If she did, she'd be called a wizard too, but most women call themselves mages, to avoid the stereotype that goes along with the term 'wizardess.'"

She stopped, and appeared to expect a reaction from Bob, who was confused by the apparent seriousness this strange young woman took, concerning 'wizardry.'

"I see," he said, carefully. "Do you have any mage figurines?"

"Male, or female?" she asked.

"Female," he replied.

"Not many," she said immediately. "And that's wrong. Women are completely under-represented in the wizard world. It's not right. Even in books, women get the shaft. Like in the Soldier Son trilogy Robin Hobb wrote? Did you read that one?"

She waited for an answer, so he had to shake his head, telling her he had not.

"Well there were two female magic users in that trilogy, and both of them died. See what I mean? Female wizards don't get any respect."

"That's too bad," said Bob. "I know a woman who's kind of a wizard when it comes to drawing, and I wanted to get her something to commemorate that."

She shook her head. "Typically, all we have in that arena are the erotic representations of women performing magic. And they're not really about the magic. They're about sex, plain and simple. I bet every one of them is drawn by a man."

"Erotic?" asked Bob.

She tightened her lips, and Bob knew he'd just been put in the category of men this girl didn't appreciate.

"They're over there in that corner," she said, disdainfully, pointing to a far corner of the store.

Bob went to look at the art for two reasons. First, the clerk's attitude pissed him off. He was a man, and it wasn't wrong for him to respond to a given situation as a man. Second, he wondered what "erotic wizard art" might look like.

He was impressed when he found out.

He hadn't seen Riley's face up close. He knew she had long, dark hair. The women depicted in the art he was looking at generally had long hair, though a few did not. If it was long, it was waving in the air as if the woman was on a wind-tossed rock beside a thundering ocean somewhere. Or caught in a vortex of some sort that buffeted her as she fought against arcane powers not visible in the picture. Most were clad in two piece outfits, not bikinis, exactly, but along the same lines, with lots and lots of cleavage visible. A few had on flowing robes, but in all those cases the robe was either transparent, or gaping open, showing full, thrusting naked breasts. They wore pendants around their necks, and big, showy rings on their fingers. Some held ornate staffs of power. In quite a few cases, their clothing was in tatters.

Apparently, women of magic had hard lives.

Their faces displayed every emotion known to man, from furious, to come hither. Even the ones who were obviously inviting the observer to enter the picture and experience passion far above the norm had hair that flew every which way. It made him think of performers on stage, who had fans aimed at them, not for cooling, but to make their long hair move.

In some cases, every aspect of the character's sex was clearly displayed, including fat, luscious looking pussy lips, and long, turgid nipples. They were Playboy bunnies all dressed up for the adult version of Harry Potter.

The majority of what was available were posters. There were a few framed prints that were smaller, and only four or five figurines on display. One of those drew his eye like a magnet.

It was made of pewter, and heavy when he lifted it to examine it. She stood, feet shoulder's width apart, one slightly ahead of the other. In her left hand, she held an orb of power at shoulder's height, arm outstretched as if she was positioning the orb for maximum effectiveness. In her other hand, raised high over her head, she held a staff. The length of the staff was unadorned, but the tip blossomed out into a complicated cage that held another orb. Both orbs were made of some glass that somehow had colors shifting inside them. Depending on what angle they were viewed from, the orb was red, blue, green or purple.

Her clothing consisted of a girdle that did little more than cover her sex, but which was richly adorned with tassels and beads, and what might have been a loin cloth that would only have been a few inches wide, if she were life sized. A round badge of either identity or authority rested on her mons, like something that might protect her from the unwelcome attentions of a male. Above that, her skimpy bra bulged with bounteous breasts. A cape flowed back from her neck, signifying she was in that ubiquitous wind that all sorceresses had to endure. Her face was chiseled perfection, with hair piled high on her head, held there by a jeweled circlet and invisible pins. The look on her face suggested she was all that kept Armageddon at bay.

He turned the figurine over and gasped at the price.

Still, it was beautiful. It was his idealized vision of Riley. And he had money. He had plenty of money. The agency fed him while he was on duty, and his apartment looked like a hotel room. He owned very little "stuff." Other than a state of the art computer system, all he had were some clothes and linens. He didn't even own a TV. If he watched anything, he did so on the computer. His last bank statement had showed a savings account balance in the middle six figure range, and his checking account had over ten thousand in it. And that didn't count his retirement account, where he had socked away a quarter of his annual salary for over ten years. The last statement he'd gotten from the finance office showed he was a millionaire, at least on paper. And after he retired, of course. He didn't really think of that as his money, at this point. He had twenty-three years before he could take his government pension, and even longer before he could tap into what would then be those millions.

But he had plenty of spendable income available right now.

And she was worth it. He had intruded on her in a most personal way, and she had not only forgiven him, she had done much, much more. And she really was a wizard when it came to her art.

He took the figurine to the girl behind the counter.

"I'll take this," he said. "It probably dishonors wizardesses, or sorceresses, or mages or whatever, but she's sexy and I like her."

The girl simply rang up the sale, took his card, and packaged his purchase without a word. She also didn't thank him for coming in.

But as he left, she called out, "Sorceresses are completely different. You should know that!"

He went from there directly to the UPS store. He felt a teensy bit guilty for remembering Riley's complete address, including the zip code, but he was paid to remember things, and notice things, so maybe it wasn't so bad. They had everything needed to package the figurine. Rather than enclose a card, he decided to send her an email about it. By the time he left, he'd spent more than a hundred dollars on her gift, but he didn't care. All he cared about was whether or not she liked it.

He ate at the Mandarin Dragon, and then went home.

Dear Riley. I did something today that I hope doesn't make you uncomfortable. I've already told you how much I love the book cover you showed me. I saw something in the mall today that reminded me of you, and that art. So I got it for you. It's just a little thing. But it's kind of how I think of you. You're out there in the world, trying to get by, raising a son as a single mom. I know things get tough for you sometimes, but I suspect you always come out on top, and this little gift I sent you commemorates that. I didn't put a card in it because I didn't want to write all this out long hand. You probably couldn't read my writing anyway. <G> I really hope you like it. I can't wait to get back to work, Wednesday. That's never happened to me before. I always dread going back to work. Well, not dread, exactly. I like my work. It's challenging, and some very good things get done with the data we gather. Anyway, I'll probably send you another email in a few hours. That's how I'm managing my Riley addiction. <G>


He sent it, and then pulled up He had almost an entire month's worth of videos to catch up on. He put on his headphones and began to watch everything under the sun.

Riley stared at the screen.

Her first thought was that, somehow, he knew she had a child. She frowned, trying to remember if she'd said something about that to him in an email. She was pretty sure she had not. He'd probably seen Curtis with her, which meant he looked at her more often than just when she was laying out. That brought conflicting emotions to bear. She was happy that he was interested enough to look at her when she wasn't half naked, but not so thrilled that he looked at her that much. Or at least that he hadn't told her he looked at her that much.

Her eyes went back over the words. A gift! He'd gotten her a gift! She wasn't sure what to think about that, either. The only other man who'd ever given her anything was Chuck, and what he gave her was invariably slinky underwear that she only wore for a minute or two before he took it off of her. Most of it was ridiculous, at least in terms of being comfortable. The crotchless kind weren't so bad, but having cords or cloth crammed between her ass cheeks wasn't her idea of comfort, when it came to panties. And many of the bras were made of stiffened fabrics, to ensure they did to her breasts what they were designed to do. That kind of thing just wasn't comfortable. She did have two or three sets of stuff that were soft and comfortable, but she didn't wear them anymore. What was the point, with no man there to see them? True, they did make her feel pretty and feminine. But again ... what was the point?

If he'd gotten her some slutty outfit to wear while he peered down from the sky at her, she was going to be disappointed. But he'd said it reminded him of her, and she couldn't figure out how slinky underwear could remind him of her. Then there was all that stuff about her fighting the good fight and coming out on top. Actually, there had been some tough times. But they were all right these days, now that some of her books had begun to sell more copies on Amazon. And her illustrations were drawing more attention too, from more than merely readers. She had received another commission that morning for seven illustrations for a book on swords and sorcery. It was a new author, named Judith Hensley. Soft spoken Judith had called her to talk about what she wanted, and ask how much Riley would charge for something like that. She said she'd gotten Riley's number from Dick Jenson, who was the agent for another of Riley's customers. That alone was going to earn her more than she'd gotten on any one job before. Judith wanted preliminary drawings within a month, but had said pencil was fine for that kind of thing, so those she could do within a week.

It was good to be busy. Laying out for Bob to appreciate was fine, but she needed to spend some time working too.

Rather than guess as to what he might have sent, she decided to be patient and just wait. She really hoped it wasn't sexy lingerie. She didn't want to write to him and tell him that, though. She didn't want there to be discord in this new and unexpected kind-of-sort-of-might-be relationship.

Instead, she wrote back and gave him her phone number. He was on his days off, and not working. Surely he could find some time to call her.

Bob stared at the screen, unbelieving. He'd taken a nap, only to wake up and find that she'd sent him her phone number! She'd suggested he call! He knew his level of excitement was far beyond what it should be, under the circumstances. She wasn't anything remotely like his girlfriend, or anything. They had only exchanged a few emails. But she'd laid out for him, waving and teasing him by playing with the breasts he dreamed of touching himself. Sad though it might be, it was better than any other relationship he'd been able to establish. Actually, there just hadn't been that many girls in his past. He was very ordinary looking, and his lifestyle was pretty sedentary, so he carried a few pounds on him. He wondered how much time Jerry spent keeping those pounds off. Maybe he did calisthenics at work.

He pushed that thought aside. She'd said to call her. He would, of course. He looked at his watch. It was two in the afternoon. He didn't have to do the math. He knew what time it was in every time zone on the planet, based on what time his watch said. He didn't even have to think about it. It was noon in Colorado. Was she getting ready to lay out?

He picked up his phone and dialed. He already had the number memorized.

The phone rang and rang. He found himself counting, for some reason.

On the twenty-fifth ring, her answering machine picked up. He had given up on getting an answer of any kind. To be honest, he had let it ring just so he could imagine being in her little house and hearing the phone ring. He had been thinking about how pathetic that made him, when a very high voice said "You're either very patient or very determined, so leave a message and if I want to talk to you, I'll call you back.”

There was a beep and he said "I'm both," he said. "This is Bob. You gave me your phone number. So I called. I wish you were there. I'm very sad right now." He said his phone number, and that he was very sad again, and then hung up.

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