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“Thank you for coming,” I said to a customer before closing the door after a gruelling first day.

After cashing up, I sat on the stool where customers fitted shoes, then looked around. My lips curled as I admired the shiny shoes, amazed at what I had accomplished. That was my third shop. To think that I had started as a cleaning lady in the shoe industry twenty years ago, then became the owner of high-end shoe shops.

It hadn’t come without its challenges.

Not only have I worked weekends, public holidays and just about every day for the last decade, but I had skipped family and friend gatherings.

My head perked up as a man in a suit with black hair slicked to the side walked past the shop. He looked yummy, and I have to admit that I thought about him having his way with me by handling me aggressively.

My shoulders lowered as I sighed. I couldn’t remember the last time I had been on a date. I had grown weary of using my vibrator and needed a good bang. The only problem was allocating time away from the shop. Ugh. Where would I even find a man? Can’t remember the last time one hit on me. I’ve been out of the game for so long that I’m not sure I’d know how to hint at sex.

I stood up and then checked the inventory, attempting to forget the idea of getting back into dating. After all, it wasn’t my fault that men weren’t approaching me. It was theirs.

I got home at eight pm, poured wine and then sat in the lounge. Mom had told me to call her to tell her how the first day had gone. She was sweet for caring, but I wasn’t in the mood to be lectured again about how my biological clock was ticking.

Instead, I opted for calling Eleanor. She and I were best friends since high school. I was surprised that she took my calls since I had declined almost all of her invitations due to work. The two occasions I couldn’t miss were being the godmother to her two children.

“Hey, you,” she said. “How’d the first day go?”

“Amazing. We were swamped.”

“That’s great. I’m so proud. You have built up quite a brand, so I’m not surprised.”

“Yeah.”

“Just don’t get too carried away with the new shop. Have some faith in your manager and staff to operate the shop so that you can have time to yourself,” she said.

“Time for what?”

“Oh, I don’t know…to spend time with your family, friends and maybe go on some dates.”

I closed my eyes briefly and slightly smiled. “I didn’t call mom to avoid that talk, but now I get it from you.”

“I’m only looking out for you, Lizzy. You’re not getting any younger, and I wouldn’t want you to end up alone and miserable.”

A part of me already was. “I know, I know. I’ll think about it.”

“If you ever need dating advice, don’t hesitate to call me.”

“Thanks, El. I appreciate it.”

I soaked in the bathtub for an hour, wondering what my life would be like if I spent the rest of it alone. Although I was financially independent, I wasn’t emotionally. I mean, I am human. I crave love and affection just as much as anyone.

My phone rang, so I got out of the tub.

“Hi, mom.”

“Lizzy, you didn’t tell your mother about the new shop.”

“Everything went great, mom. I was going to call you tomorrow.”

“As much as I want you to be even more successful, I don’t want you ending up like your Aunt Beth. I’ve always told you that you got your drive and ambition from her. Sure, she’s got lots of money, but what’s the point of it when she can’t share it with anyone?”

I refrained from reminding mom that her prioritising dad over her career wasn’t smart since he left us when we needed him the most.

“Okay, mom,” I said, annoyed.

The following day at the shop, I couldn’t prevent myself from thinking about my conversations with Eleanor and mom. I wish I hadn’t spoken to them, but I knew they were right. If I try dating again and it doesn’t work out, the least I’ll get is some nookie. God knows I need that badly.

After closing the shop, I walked across the street to the five-star hotel and sat at the bar. I noticed two guys ogling me, but they avoided approaching me. It was probably for the best since both looked like creeps.

A tanned man with brunette hair and a white shirt sat on the other side of the bar and ordered a whisky. He looked at me, smiled and then raised his glass. I smiled and lowered my eyes, feeling my cheeks heat up. I couldn’t remember the last time a man locked eyes with me like that.

As I raised my eyes, I saw him walking along the bar. Oh, God. Looks like he’s coming towards me.

He stood next to me and said, “Hi, I’m Anthony.”

I looked at him and smiled. “Lizzy. Nice to meet you.”

“May I sit?”

“Yes.”

He put his glass on the bar, sat and smiled at me. I have to admit that his hazel eyes drew me in and held my attention.

“It’s not everyday that a man meets a beautiful woman such as yourself.”

“That’s kind of you.”

“I only tell the truth.”

“Your wife must appreciate your honesty.”

“No wife…or girlfriend. Just me.”

“I figured a handsome man like you would’ve settled down by now and had kids.”

“The same could be said for you.”

“Not yet.”

“Well, there you go. It’s possible that two attractive people just never settled down, but that now is their time,” said Anthony, smiling.

I appreciated that he was upfront. Nothing irritated me more than weak men who didn’t know what they wanted or knew it but were afraid to communicate it.

He bought me several drinks and told me fascinating travel stories. I had always wanted to travel, but my work kept me from making a booking. I was living vicariously through Anthony as he told me his adventures. Only if I could be so lucky to have time for that.

“I’m going on a safari in South Africa next month. You should join me,” he said.

I probably couldn’t, but I thought he was sweet for offering. The first thought that popped into my mind was us going back to our room after the safari, covered in sweat and eager to rip each other’s clothes off.

As I thought about that, I bit my bottom lip, and my finger circled the tip of the martini glass as I ogled him. He must’ve noticed it because he said, “Should we get a drink somewhere more private?”

I wasn’t the type to go home with a stranger, but I figured that I needed to expedite the getting-to-know-each-other phase. And God knew that it had been ages since I felt a dick inside me.

I was surprised that Anthony asked for my address, then put it into his GPS. I thought that we were going to his place, but who cares? Maybe my place was better since I would feel comfortable.

He was sitting on the couch as I walked towards him, holding two whisky glasses. I wanted something strong to loosen me up even more.

We clinked the glasses and smiled as we stared deeply into each other’s eyes. I couldn’t wait for him to make a move. He kept looking at me as he put his glass on the coffee table. Come on, make a move. I want you so bad right now.

He kept eye contact and smiled at me, intensifying the lust between us as silence loomed. I so badly wanted him to grab me and pull me towards him. It seemed to me that Anthony knew how to turn a woman on by delaying gratification.

My right leg raised and crossed over the left one as I turned my body towards Anthony. His eyes lowered to my legs, then raised to my chest before meeting my eyes. I felt my pussy moisten. What is this guy waiting for? He’s driving me crazy.

I knew that Anthony wasn’t afraid to make a move. He was withholding the passion from me to make me want it more. Damn him for knowing how to press my buttons.

I licked my lips while looking at him, hoping that would prompt him to speed up the seduction. He put his hand on my leg. Finally, he’s making a move.

A few seconds later, he raised his hand off my leg and leaned slightly back. I restrained myself from frowning, but I wondered why he took us a few steps back. This bastard is really going to draw this out and make me suffer. He probably wants me to beg him for his dick. I was so desperate for it that I would’ve done it if he had asked.

Anthony shifted closer, brushing his leg against mine and giving me hope for more intimacy. He put his hand on my leg again, and I looked at it. He kept it there for a few seconds, then raised it again. There was no way I would let him torture me anymore, so I clutched his collar and shoved my tongue into his mouth.

I sat on his lap and put my arms around his neck. He was stroking my ass while we made out, making me wetter. I couldn’t wait to feel his dick inside me.

A few seconds later, I got off him and said, “Get up.”

He frowned and smiled, then stood up. I kneeled in front of him and pulled down his pants. I stroked his dick thrice over his jocks, then whipped it out and marvelled at it. He had the most beautiful dick I’d ever seen.

I wrapped my lips around his dick and slid them over it towards his abdomen. He scooped my hair and held it as I bobbed on his dick. I pulled back and looked up at him, seeing his cunning smile. I knew he loved the blowjob.

I sucked it again for a few minutes, then pushed him onto the couch. He sprawled on it and spread his arms wide. I got undressed, then sat on top of him, my knees digging into the couch.

I stuck his dick into my wet pussy and grabbed his shoulders before bouncing on him. He grabbed my waist and looked up at me, then closed his eyes and moaned. He was so hard, and I loved it.

As I bounced on his dick faster, I raised my chin, closed my eyes and moaned.

“Oh, yeah. That’s it,” he said and spanked my ass.

I bounced too high, and his dick popped out of my pussy. He wanted to shove it back in, but I got off him and faced my back. He put his dick in me as I lowered my ass, and my feet dug into the couch.

I resumed the bouncing, his hands on my waist. I shot out several loud grunts, and I raised the back of my hair with my right hand while cupping my tit with the left one.

“Come on,” he said sternly, making me believe he didn’t like me slowing down. I straightened my back and increased the pace. “That’s how I like it,” he added.

So did I. Feeling his hard dick in me made me close my eyes and sway my head. It’s like I was possessed and had no control over my body. I jumped on his dick faster, and I heard him groan.

He tapped my leg, making me believe that he was about to cum.

I got off him and kneeled in front of the couch. He leapt off it and then ejaculated on my face.

After we got dressed, Anthony suggested that we watch a movie. I was surprised that he planned to stay, but we spoke during the movie. His humour made me comfortable, and his adventurous job impressed me. I enjoyed hearing his travel stories from around the world, and I yearned to share his experiences. He caught me off guard when he suggested I join him on his business trip.

That sounded fun, but I was pretty certain that I wouldn’t go because of my shops.

Three days later, Anthony called and asked to take me to dinner. I had to work late to train the new manager. He called later in the week and the following week, but I was too busy.

I must admit that I thought about him, especially when he hadn’t called for two weeks.

A month had passed after I met Anthony, and I was still single. I was disappointed with Anthony for not persisting. He seemed nice.

Missing a man’s touch made me think I’d need to expedite the dating process. I figured that by meeting many men in a short period, I’d finally find a gem. Speed dating was the perfect solution.

I met ten guys at the event, and I gave my number to five of them. I figured that one of them would be my perfect match.

Over the next three weeks, I went on dates with the five men. All of them were gentlemen, but I decided to go on a second date with two of the men.

Both called me the day after our dates, but I decided not to answer. I’m not certain why I didn’t answer, but I was convinced it was something to do with them.

A few weeks later, I was really craving male affection. It got so bad that just about anyone decent would suffice. I really wanted my pussy pummeled, but I knew that was a temporary fix. After the sex, I would need someone I could talk to.

I sat on the couch at home and blew out a breath as I lowered my eyes and rested my chin in my hand. Where on Earth am I going to find someone I can connect with emotionally, especially since my time is limited?

The only person I knew who could make me feel better was Eleanor, so I called her.

“Hey, you sound exasperated,” she said. “Sounds to me like it’s more than work,” she added.

“You could tell, huh?”

“Yeah. What’s bothering you?”

“I’m feeling a bit lonely, so I was hoping you’d make me feel better,” I said.

“I can’t give you the same company that a man can. My touch isn’t the same as theirs.”

“I know, but what can I do?”

“You need to get out and date.”

“I have.”

“And?”

“I met quite a few guys.”

“Let me guess—none of them met your standards.”

“It’s not my fault there’s something wrong with them.” Eleanor remained silent for a few seconds, so I said, “Are you still there?”

“I’m here. I was just thinking if I should smack you with the truth.”

“What truth?”

“Lizzy, you’re almost forty, and you still haven’t found anyone that meets your stringent criteria. Have you considered the possibility that the problem is not men, but you?”

I frowned and blinked twice, confused. “I’m not sure what you mean?”

“Tell me about all the men that you met in the last two months,” said Eleanor.

I went into details.

“You see what I mean?” she asked.

“No.”

“With each of them, you turned their smallest flaw to seem like they’re a leper. It’s always them, never you.” She paused for a few seconds. “Lizzy, you’re standing in your own way.”

I twitched, feeling like her statement shook me to the core. As much as it painted me to admit it, she was right. Numerous men had put in a lot of effort to please me, but I conjured negative thoughts about them that always manifested to block them out of my life.

After hanging up, I bowed my face into my palms. My worst nightmare had come true: I would be alone for the rest of my life. The worst part was that I had nobody else to blame but myself.

Since I had caused the problem, I was the only one who could fix it. Taking responsibility felt empowering.

I made a call, then snatched my car keys off the table and scampered to the garage.

On the highway, I stepped on the gas and then saw the speed gauge exceed the road limit. I didn’t care since I was determined to redeem myself.

I pulled up at arrivals and then swung the door open before leaping out of the car.

Inside the airport, I looked at the boarding board and saw that the flight to Barcelona was at gate seven. I ran to it and shouted, “Anthony,”

He snapped his head towards me, and so did the people within hearing distance. His eyes widened, and his lips curled. I stopped in front of him, panting.

“You made it,” he said.

“I was really hoping to catch you before your flight.”

“Well, you have. What’s so important that it couldn’t wait?”

“I’m a stupid woman.” He snorted a laugh and frowned. “When I’ve got a great thing in front of me, I push it away.” I paused for a few seconds, admiring his dashing looks. “I’m talking about you, Anthony. You’re a great guy, and I was stupid for not letting things develop between us.”

“I see.”

“I’ve spent my life hiding from love by burying myself in work, and I’m not going to do it anymore. I want to embrace it and experience all the emotions that come with it, good or bad. So what I’m asking for is forgiveness and a chance to show you that I’m open to love. And there’s no other person that I’d surrender myself to than you.”

He raised his eyebrows as his eyes widened. “Wow. I wasn’t expecting this when you called.” He looked down briefly, probably thought, then looked at me and said, “That sounds like quite an adventure. Sure. We can give it a shot when I get back from Spain.”

I shook my head. “No, I don’t want to wait until then. I want the adventure to begin now. I want to go to Spain with you.”

His smile broadened. “What about your shops?”

“I’ve got managers. The shops will survive if I’m not there for some time, but I won’t be fine if you leave without me.”

He raised his eyebrows, and his compressed lips curled. “Okay. Let’s do it. I’m looking forward to our new adventure.”

“There’s just one more thing,” I said.

“Yes.”

I clutched his collar and smooched him.

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