The studio and offices of the Urban Music Company were in a tall grey office building in midtown Manhattan. The receptionist barely glanced at Alice’s familiar face as she entered the crowded vestibule, made her way to the elevator and pressed the button for the fourteenth floor.

“Tell me what you got today, Alice,” John, her boss and the Urban Music company founder said in his gruff voice. His office was always her first stop of the morning. Tall and imposing, nattily dressed, John gave Alice his usual friendly grin. He sat at his desk with his feet on the window seat overlooking a magnificent view of Central Park. ‘Can’t Get Enough (Of Your Love),’ by Barry White played softly in the background. “He’s still where it’s at. I have to return to my roots once in a while. Did you know the story of how Barry White wrote this song? ”

“No, tell me,” Alice said, joining him on the windowseat.

“He had finished making love to his wife. She fell asleep and he went to the kitchen and this song came to him while he made himself a snack.”

“That’s great. And you have a point, those were good days for music.” Carefully scrutinizing her notes, she filled him in on the newest music groups, along with her latest publicity and marketing ideas.

“Great stuff, where do you advise us to start?” he said, waiting as always for her suggestions, before adding his own. He knew from past experience that she could pick the winners.

John used the intercom on his desk to his call his office assistant for more coffee. He and Alice bent their heads together for another productive planning meeting. At 10, the rest of the team arrived, as usual, for a morning-long strategy and planning session. ——

After a full day of taking phone calls, holding meetings and observing music demos, Alice sat at her ornately carved wooden desk. She surveyed her office with pleasure: the instruments, the tapestries, the masks hanging on the walls and the vases of flowers on every surface. Inserting the CD into her player, of a Brazilian band she was considering, she reviewed the contracts of several other promising foreign musical groups.

Alice stretched out the full length of her body. She drew her arms above her in a lazy yawn, noticing the way the jade color of her blouse set off her long red hair and pale skin. She ran her hands down the front of her blouse, enjoying the sensations as her fingers touched her skin under the silk. Spinning around in her chair to look out her office window, she saw a workman many stories below drilling into the sidewalk.

She had noticed this worker as she had arrived at her office this morning and now as she considered it, every morning this week. He was burly, hopelessly muscular and manly, not really her type. And yet, as she had watched him in his hard-hat, dirty blond curls sticking out messily around it, and tight jeans, she had seen the power in his arms, the firmness of his ass. He had struggled to contain the juddering machine as it thrust in and out of the huge hole he had created in the sidewalk. She could imagine his body slick with sweat from the hot sun above him.

How could he work in this heat?

She closed her eyes and allowed the smooth beat of the music to wash over her, and the erotic scent of her flowers to permeate her senses. She felt her body awaken into a state of arousal. Alice loved the intimate sensuality of skin against skin of a lover in bed next to her. She loved the feeling of the sun on her naked skin. To her, sex was an experience that indulged all of the senses…the smells, the sounds, the colors and patterns, even the taste of it. Alice didn’t have a current lover and was comfortable enjoying her body by herself.

At home she had an array of sex toys in all colors of the rainbow. But here in her office, the music, the flowers and the memory of the primal dance of worker and machine was enough to inflame her senses.

Alice locked her office door. Then returning to the window, she bent forward and spread her legs wide. Leaning further forward, she brought her face to the window, then her chest.

What if he could see me if he looked up now? What would he see? What was his name? Probably something like Mack or Budd. How would he like this?

Looking down, she marveled at the power in her long legs. Starting at her foot, encased in a delicate sandal, she traced an invisible line up her calf and then her inner thigh, caressing her warm skin. She placed a foot on the window ledge, and as her hand reached her inner lips, began to touch herself softly. She felt the heat spreading to her face and chest. She could imagine Mack’s hand on her, his sweat soaked body pressing into her from behind. With slow circles and then faster strokes, she brought herself to a blissful climax. She moaned with pleasure as explosive sparks streamed down her legs.

Alice was startled out of her fantasy by the ring of her telephone. Glancing at the wood framed clock on her desk, she saw that it was already 5 p.m.

“We bursa escort bayan have a problem,” she heard the distraught voice of her assistant, Molly.

“What is it?” Alice steadied herself with a slow, deep breath. Straightening her clothes, she walked to the door and quickly unlocked it.

“I made arrangements for the show at John’s club for those Kenyan drummers just like you told me to do. But you didn’t tell me that the musicians would be stopping here first, well, one of them is here. I don’t know what to do with him.”

Alice’s phone beeped in the midst of Molly’s explanation.

“We have a problem,” she heard again, as John explained on the other line, “Kwame just left my office. His would-be host called to tell him that his plumbing exploded making his apartment uninhabitable. I don’t have a place for Kwame. You are going to have to make arrangements for him.”

“What! I don’t want to stick him in a hotel! I’ll look over our roster of hosts but it is going to be tough to find someone at the last minute like this.” Alice sat back down at her desk.

“Use your connections.”

Molly stuck her head into Alice’s office. Before Molly had a chance to speak, a man walked in behind her. Alice was jolted by the impact of his presence. He could have stepped out of one of her fantasies. Molly ducked behind Kwame, leaving him alone with Alice.

“John, he’s here. OK, I will talk to you later,” Alice hung up the phone. She leaned back into her chair and pushed her tangled hair away from her face to get a good look at this man.

“You must be Kwame.”

“Pleased to make your acquaintance. May I call you Alice? I have enjoyed our phone conversations and am grateful to finally see your beautiful face,” he said with a deep bow, causing his braided hair to cascade over the woven gold and orange tunic clothing his broad chest.

“Your beauty inspires the drums,” he said with a flourish, and slid the African drum that had been hanging over one shoulder down to the floor.

Squatting behind it, he began to beat out a mesmerizing rhythm. His eyes never left her face. She lost herself in his gaze. Alice felt her body responding to the music as she drank in his muscular body and dancing hands. Then he reached toward her with one hand.

“Come, you try.”

“No, I can’t, ” and yet without realizing it, she was by his side.

He made a space in front of him for her to kneel and guided her hand in a slower rhythm.

“It’s in three. Put your hand here and follow my beat.”

She could feel the warmth of his solid form behind her. She closed her eyes, and moved to the beat. Her telephone rang again, shocking her out of the trance that Kwame had induced in her. Alice stood, reached over to turn off her computer and grab her jacket.

“Just let it ring. Give me a minute and then we will figure out a plan for you.”

She ran to the ladies room down the hall and applied lipstick, all the while attempting to take deep calming breaths. Her thoughts were a jumble. The events of the last hour had quickly gotten out of hand.

How could she regain control of the situation?

Alice decided to send Kwame’s suitcases ahead to her apartment and then figure it out from there. Deliberately slowing her step, she walked back to her office to collect Kwame.

As they waited for the elevator door to open, she caught his masculine scent, musk and grass in a strange and foreign combination. Disconnected words and phrases floated through her mind, eluding her grasp and sliding out of reach when she tried to form them into a sentence. Trying to regain a modicum of composure, she stood silent next to Kwame. Entering the elevator, she apologized as the crowd pushed her against him. He gestured toward her mouth with a gentle hand. Looking in the elevator mirror, Alice saw that her lipstick was smeared. He offered her a silk handkerchief and she used it to wipe her face, breathing in his heady scent as she did so.

“Thank you.”

“You are most welcome.”

Conversations buzzed around them”….and we have to catch the shuttle to Montauk. I have so much shopping to do first….you won’t believe the Versace she was wearing!…” The elevator doors opened and shut. Impatient workers tried to shove their way into the car, but there was no more room. Alice tried not to stare at Kwame. As they were jostled into the lobby, and out into the street, Alice was surprised to feel her body resonate like a fragile glass instrument tuning into his closeness.

“We will send your suitcases to my apartment for now,” she said with an authority she did not feel, “and then we will go out to dinner.”

Kwame’s generous smile never left his face. “Thank you for your kindness.”

Alice pushed through the crowds of commuters to the pavement edge. She couldn’t help stealing a glance to see if the workmen were still there but they were gone. Perhaps the heat was finally too much. And it was quitting time. görükle escort She shot up her arm to claim the lone empty taxi that remained available at rush hour. The taxi skidded to a stop. A businessman sweating in his suit and jacket cursed at having missed the taxi. Ignoring him, Kwame graciously offered Alice his arm as she climbed into the taxi.

“West 127th Street and Broadway, please.”

“Hey, my man,” Kwame said immediately upon spying the cabdriver’s medallion, which gave his name as Nobotu and his nationality as Kenyan. Nobotu spun around in his seat, greeting them with a wide smile. The two of them engaged in a spirited conversation, alternating from English, for Alice’s benefit, to Swahili. From what Alice could understand, Kwame asked Nobutu about life back home and his family. He listened sympathetically as Nobutu described his trials in assimilating into New York life. The common bond of their heritage and experiences made them into fast friends by the end of the ride.

—– “What will you be having for drinks?” the waiter asked politely. They were seated on a couch at a private table, set in a recessed alcove at “Salud” one of Alice’s favorite Italian restaurants.

Alice ordered a bottle of champagne for the table. She watched as Kwame charmed their waiter, poring over the menu with him and deferring to his judgment as to what to order. The waiter described the ingredients of each dish in great detail, as Kwame nodded approvingly.

Alice’s senses were charged. She enjoyed the feeling of her silk blouse as it clung to her, revealing the womanly shape of her body and the delicate hollow at the base of her throat. She was conscious of the lacy thong she was wearing under her skirt. With this secret awareness, and with the champagne sliding down her throat, she felt a quiet confidence.

Kwame turned to her and his smile deepened. “Do you want to dance?”

He reached out his hand and took her arm. “Why not?” Alice found herself joining him, stilling the voice in her head that said no one else is dancing, this is a restaurant. As he held her against his chest, the few remaining crackling and buzzing thoughts melted down through her legs and into the floor below in delicious oblivion. Her eyes closed. She took inventory of the mysterious way their bodies seemed to meld together, from chest to knees. Alice allowed herself to be guided in gentle circles in the tiny floor space near their table. As the waiter arrived with their food, they sank into their seats.

“Where do you come from?” she asked him. “You don’t seem to be quite of this earth.”

He laughed a rich deep bass. “No, on the contrary, I am very much of this earth. The earth is a part of my soul, my being. That side of my nature is telling me something about you. You excite and inspire me.”

“I feel the same about you.”

“But let us not get too serious. Let us enjoy this wonderful meal in front of us.”

Alice had forgotten about the food, something not easy for her to do, especially at her favorite restaurant. But “you’re right,” she said, “You are going to love this meal.”

While they ate, Kwame entertained her with stories of his boyhood in Kenya. “My brothers and I were full of mischief, climbing the rooftops where we noisily banged out our own beat with sticks and rocks. When we grew tired of that, we threw the sticks and rocks, upsetting the neighbors chickens and goats, and making a mess of the townswomen’s neatly arranged washing on the lines. My father spent the greater part of each year working at a factory several hours away. He sent money when he could. My mother had a hard life but she never let us see it. She would sing traditional folk songs to herself as she did her backbreaking work and these songs are forever ingrained in my mind. She tolerated our silliness. I was lucky to be bathed in so much love.”

He told her how he had learned to drum from the shaman in his native village, where music was an integral part of daily life. A visiting jazz musician from Europe introduced him to new music that seemed alien and familiar at the same time. This encounter changed him, inspiring him to work at odd jobs, to earn enough money to leave his town and learn more about this strange music. With a small bundle of money and his mother’s blessings he wandered to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. He was lucky to find a job as a maintenance worker at the famous archeological museum, allowing him the means to enter the Nairobi music scene. Even then, he was careful to save some of his earnings to send back home to his mother.

“It is a city in some ways like New York but on a much smaller scale. There is the energy of people in transit, people trying to better themselves and a blending of many different cultures.”

He and the other members of the band had found each other and eventually been discovered by an African music producer, while they were playing at a festival. “Our music has evolved from what it was then. But even at bursa escort bayan that time our music was a mix of different styles and instruments, nothing was too lowly for us. We used rattles, bells, stamp drums and drums made from gourds. If we loved the sound we found a way to bring it into the mix. Rhythm held it all together but the songs tell the story.”

“That’s one of the aspects of your music that I loved the most when I first heard your CD. I love music that is at the edge. The layers of different rhythms blew me away and the musical stories drew me in.”

Alice savored the steamed mussels, reveling in the individual flavors and aromas. The food and the champagne were infused with extraordinary intensity. She was ravenously hungry. Opening her eyes wide, as she tasted the subtle flavor of sage in the linguini and mussels, she saw Kwame watching her intently.

“Would you mind sitting a little closer to me?” he asked.

Alice slid next to Kwame’s strong thigh and took his hand in hers under the table. She released her hold to reach up for her glass and then on an impulse, guided his hand onto her thigh, now pressed to his.

“How did you come by the name of your group-the ‘Thudding Antelopes’?” Alice asked but all her senses were with his hand resting on her thigh. She luxuriated in the enjoyable sensations, the frisson running up and down her chest and into her center, the heat in her face.

“Someone called us that as an insult one time but we liked it and it stuck.”

“I like that it sounds like something kindergarten kids might say and yet the music is so sophisticated.”

“Tell me, how did you get into the music business? My guess is that you are a musician too,” he asked her.

“Yes, of course, aren’t we all? I grew up in a musical household. My mom performed classical piano and my dad was a jazz trumpet player. They met at an award ceremony for him. I loved and hated my international childhood. I swore I would settle in one place. Now the world comes to me.”

His hand remained motionless and his eyes focused on hers. Guided by her subtle but persistent touch, his hand moved up increment-by-increment, first up under the soft folds of her skirt, then across the tension of her bare leg. With her guidance his long fingers touched the warm skin of her inner thigh, and finally found her wetness, waiting hungrily below. Alice’s breath caught at the intimate touch and she closed her eyes.

After a moment her eyes opened and she continued to speak, gathering all her willpower in an attempt to act as if nothing was happening. “You know, there was a time when I was going to be a rock singer. I went on a tour around the country with a rock band. But I got bored. They never let me on the stage.”

“I would let you on the stage. I would love it if you would sing for me.”

“Maybe some time. That was long ago.”

She could feel his fingers tracing circles around her mound, as she gasped with pleasure. Then a finger, followed by two more was up inside of her and she could take it no longer. Her heart thumped in her chest, her body was one long line of zinging electricity.

“We….must….go. My apartment … now.”

“Yes,” he said, as she motioned for the waiter to bring the check. Kwame reached into his pocket for his wallet, but hastily tossing her credit card onto the table, Alice said, “No. I can…charge it… Urban Music.”

In the taxi home, she felt her excitement mounting. She saw ancient tribal warriors in Kwame’s eyes. There was no conversation with the taxi driver. Their hands found each other in the seat between them. In silent anticipation, they maintained the outward decorum of a first date.

At her apartment building, Sam, her doorman, was all smiles as he opened the taxi door for her. She let Kwame pay the fare. In the elevator they turned and fully embraced for the first time. By the fourth floor, Kwame’s strong hand had found her leg and pulled it up to his waist. They pushed their bodies into each other, each wanting more. After a brief awkward moment with her keys they were inside her apartment.

As soon as they entered her apartment, Alice mustered a remnant of self-control. “You wait here. I want to show you something.” The apartment was spare. Alice asked Kwame to wait on the small couch in her living room, which, other than a view of the city park across the street, offered little in the way of entertainment.

Alice returned to the living room after a few moments and taking Kwame’s hand, began to lead him into the bathroom, her sanctuary.

Sensing some resistance, she said, “relax, follow me.”

But Kwame hesitated. “What happened in the restaurant, this was not what I expected. Something came over me. This is not the way I usually behave. Perhaps I should leave now. I feel I may have taken advantage of you.”

Alice pondered his reaction. “No, I want this. You and I are connected.”

“Truly, I want to respect you. Let me take a moment to think.”

Alice was moved by his consideration. She resolved, in spite of her increasing desire for him, to restrain her own impatience and return to him the respect he was offering her. Kwame was lost in thought. Unaware of her presence, he walked to the window of her apartment and looked out for a long moment.

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