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Beth watches as he enters her store.  She smiles.  She can never predict when he’ll be in.

“Hey, Beth,” he says as he approaches the counter.  He’s dressed for work, in khakis and a polo with “Capital Customizations” embroidered on the pocket.

“Hey, Ryan.”  Her smile widens.  She’s trying out a new shade of lipstick today, wonders if he notices.  “The usual?”


She reaches for a pack of Marlboro’s as he pulls out his wallet, gets out his money.

“Anything else for you today?”  She leans forward just a little so that he can see her tits.

He pretends not to notice although she’s pretty sure he glances down at them as he slides the bills across the counter.  “No, that’s it.”

“Did you catch Survivor last night?”  He mentioned once that he watched the show, and now she always makes a point of asking about it.

“Nope, missed it.  I had a really busy day yesterday and went to bed early.”

“Lots of jobs scheduled for today too?”

“Yeah, looks like it’ll be a full one.”  He pockets his change.  “Have a great day.”

“Yeah, you too, hon.”

Her eyes trace the the outline of his broad shoulders, drift down to his butt as he leaves the store. He hops in his truck and drives off.

No sign of him the next morning.  The morning after that, he’s back but just for pay-at-the-pump gas.  Beth pouts a little but manages to console herself that at least he’s at the pump closest to the

Ryan is back that afternoon.  She unbuttons the top couple buttons of her shirt before he comes inside.

“Hey, Ryan!”  She smiles at him, leans over a bit again.  “Today must be my lucky day.”

“Oh?”  His brow furrows a bit, barely visible but she notices it.  She knows all the lines of his face.

“You’re here twice today.”

“Yeah, guess I am.”  That furrow is still there.  “Pack of smokes, please.”

“Sure, hon.”  She turns around, reaches up to grab them.  Her shirt lifts up just a bit, revealing the top of her black thong.  She slides the cigarettes across the counter.  “Anything else?”

“Now that you mention it, yeah.  I was too busy to eat lunch today.”

He grabs a couple sticks of jerky from the box next to him.  “These too, please.”

Her breath catches in her throat.  Now is her chance.  “My shift’s just about done.  Want to grab a bite to eat somewhere?”

He blinks several times before answering.  “I’d love to, Beth, but I’m, well, I’m really tired.  It’s been another long day.”  He gives her a small smile.  “You understand, right?”

“Yeah, sure.”  She rings him up, takes his money.  “Maybe another time?”

“Yeah, maybe.”  He grabs his smokes and jerky, hurries to his truck.

She watches him leave.  That wasn’t a no.  And he’ll be back tomorrow, to ask again.  He always comes back to her.


Outside the store, Ryan glances over his shoulder.  Beth is still watching him.

The next day, he buys his cigarettes at the gas station across the street.


Ed Martin is a writer and high school teacher living in Davenport, Iowa.  Find more of my works at


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