Synthetic Heart Excerpt

synthetic heart cover ECG 6x8

“How was work?” he asked, just like he always did, while tucking a strand of her hair behind her ear.

Olivia sat on the edge of the bed and thought for a moment what that meant. Work: mental or physical activity as a means of earning income. She knew that because she had looked it up. What the definition lacked was the addition of: so a person can do what they want. That’s why she worked. That’s why everyone worked. So they could afford to do what they wanted to do. We all have our vices, she thought. She didn’t say any of this out loud to Jeff. That’s not why he was there. He was waiting for her to tell him it was fine and then their evening could begin.

“Fine,” she said.

Jeff smiled at her and then kissed her. When he pulled away he put his hands over her eyes and she squeezed them shut. “Stay right here. I’ve got a surprise for you.”

“I love surprises,” she murmured, listening to the sounds of his steps retreating and the overhead light being switched off.

When he came back, he said, “Open them.”

She complied and smiled widely. A cake with twenty-five candles hovered in front of her face. Chocolate. She loved chocolate even more than surprises. The light over the kitchen sink hummed.

“Happy birthday to you,” he began singing, but he didn’t finish. He never finished.

She stretched her face out over the cake and kissed him. The warmth from the candles licked at her neck. He groaned and put the cake on the ground, waving at the tiny torches with his large hand, extinguishing their flames and igniting a fire inside her.

He wound his fingers into her hair and deepened the kiss, pushing his tongue inside her mouth. She wrapped her arms around his neck and her feet around his waist, pulling him closer. She reveled in his taste, in his touch, and in the way he made her feel. No one else would ever compare.

Olivia pulled away and gasped for breath. Jeff smiled his crooked smile and removed her shirt. The second his mouth made contact with her breasts, she couldn’t keep her eyes open. She loved this part. He pushed her back onto the bed and crawled on top of her, kissing and licking his way from breast to breast. She arched into him and sighed. He ran his fingers down to the waistband of her pants, opening the button deftly.

“Happy birthday, baby,” he mumbled against one of her nipples as he pushed a long finger inside her.

She gripped the sheets and let the pleasure wash over her. She wanted to tell him he had talented hands and that he always knew just how to get her off, but she kept her mouth shut and let him work his magic. Within a minute, she screamed as she came, writhing against the bed under him.

He removed her pants next, tugging them off her legs impatiently, as if he couldn’t wait to fuck her. That excited her. She finally managed to open her eyes just in time to see him tear his own clothes off. He rejoined her on the bed, kneeling between her legs and stroking his cock roughly and unrolling a condom while running his other hand across her breasts, keeping her nipples as hard as possible.

She held her breath in anticipation, but she didn’t have to wait long. He propped his hands on either side of her head and pushed inside her with one fluid motion, filling and stretching her. She lifted her hips to meet his thrusts and dug her fingernails into the sinewy muscles of his forearms. His focus blurred as he slammed into her over and over. A low sound rumbled through his chest. He was on the verge of orgasmic release. That sound drove her wild. She screamed again just as his dick swelled inside her.

Jeff drew air across his teeth with each breath. It was a primal sound of satisfaction and exertion and it blended perfectly with Olivia’s sighs. Together they created a chorus of pleasure.

He dropped onto his elbows and kissed her swollen lips. Their bodies collided, slick with sweat.

As always, she wanted to tell him it was amazing. That it was the best birthday ever. That it always was with him.

* * * *

A satisfied smile softened the edges of Olivia’s mouth as she left the building.

“Night, Miss Thomas,” the woman behind the desk said.

“Night,” Olivia replied and then she pushed through the heavy revolving door and stepped out onto the city street. She glanced back over her shoulder. From the street, it looked like all the other buildings on the block: clean, brightly lit, and welcoming. But she knew differently. It was magical.

The suffocating heat of summer had finally subsided, giving way to the crisp bite of autumn. She inhaled deeply and smiled. Her extracurricular activities had given her quite an appetite, so she stopped at the café instead of going home. Still lost in a haze of euphoria, she ordered a club sandwich.

“Soup or salad tonight?” the server asked, his pen poised above the paper.

“Salad,” they answered at the same time.

He smiled, “Doesn’t hurt to ask, right?”

She shook her head and returned the smile. When he walked away she laughed. She was definitely a creature of habit.

A few minutes later, the server brought her dinner to her. “Club and salad, Italian dressing on the side. Enjoy.”

She nodded and turned her attention to the window facing the street. She could see everything from her table, it was one of the reasons she loved the café, but not the main one. She ate her sandwich first, chewing each bite completely, mindlessly as she watched the people bustle outside. Everyone seemed to be in a rush, driving, pushing, shopping, and eating, all racing against an invisible clock to get home. For what?

Nothing waited for her in her apartment. The best part of her night had already come and gone.

* * * *

“Back so soon, Miss Thomas?” the woman asked from behind the desk.

Olivia nodded. She signed in and then made her way to the room. The room where he would be waiting. She shrugged out of her jacket, slipped the headband over her forehead, sat on the edge of the bed, and closed her eyes.

“How was work?” Jeff asked, stroking her cheek before tucking a piece of hair behind her ear.

“I hope it’s okay that we do this again,” she said more to herself than anything. She knew he wouldn’t respond when she went off-script. “It’s just so nice being here with you.”

He stared at her with the same gentle smile frozen on his lips, waiting. Always waiting for the right answer.

“Fine,” she replied.

His smile grew before he kissed her. She leaned toward him and knew he would cover her eyes before he touched her. “Stay right here. I’ve got a surprise for you.”

“I love surprises,” she stated. She kept her eyes closed but not because she would be surprised. She knew what was coming next. The light clicked off, a match scraped against a rough surface and hissed to life, and then Jeff came back to her.

“Open them.”

She smiled before she opened her eyes. Twenty-five candles burned in the middle of a fudgy cake, the frosting getting gooey under the intense flame.

“Happy birthday to you,” he sang, but she stopped him with a kiss. She needed him more than ever to fill the void inside her. She needed to feel wanted. Loved. Cherished.

He did that and more. With every touch, every taste, every word, she knew he loved her. She couldn’t imagine a better way to spend her birthday.

* * * *

“Club and a salad, Italian dressing on the side” she said as she placed her order at the café.

“You got it. Anything else?” the server asked.

“Do you have cake?”

“Carrot and chocolate.”

“Chocolate, please. It’s my birthday.”

The man smiled at her. “Let me guess.” He narrowed his hazel eyes and thought for a few seconds. “Twenty-two?”

A surprised laugh escaped her lips. “You’re kind, but no. Twenty-eight.” She tilted her head and looked at him. He seemed to be about the same age, late twenties, but worry had been etched into his forehead, making him appear older.

He shrugged. “I’ll bring it out at the end of your meal.” He disappeared from view and tended to the needs of the surrounding tables. He returned a few minutes later with her order arranged neatly on a plain white plate, just as it always was. The only thing that varied was the position of the lettuce leaves. Always one cherry tomato, two cucumber slices, and a small metal dish brimming with Italian dressing. She saved the tomato for last, savoring the sweet and tangy burst of flavor. It tasted like happiness.

Later, the server cleared his throat, getting her attention. He stood next to the table with a thick slice of chocolate cake with a single candle glowing softly.

She blinked, surprised for a moment.

“Happy birthday,” he said.

Her gaze slid down to the nametag pinned to the pocket of his shirt. “Thank you, Pete.” He had a short scruffy beard the same auburn as his hair, which was complimented nicely by his red and brown plaid shirt. It was the first time she noticed how handsome he was. “My name is Olivia.”

He smiled. “On the house.”

“You don’t have to—”

“I insist.” His smile grew and pink tinged his freckled cheeks.

She ran her thumb across her engagement ring and gave him a demure smile. “Thank you again.”

“Make a wish, Olivia,” he said, sliding the plate in front of her.

She licked her fingers and extinguished the solitary flame. “I don’t need wishes. I have everything I want.”

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