Lisa’s sudden emergence poses only a momentary obstacle for either of us, as it turns out–and we are free to carry on as if the confrontation at the sports bar never even happened.

Resuming our evening, we quickly pay the check and move to a second location. My apartment sits just a block away, quiet and empty.

“You want a beer?”

I stand leaning against the open fridge. From where I can see him reclining on the living room sofa, he looks relaxed. Confident. Cocky, even. I like that. I usually go for the shy, quiet boys…but Frankie has a precocious edge about him that gives me a certain expectation. And I can hardly wait to find out if I am right.

“Yeah, sure…”

He joins me in the kitchen and sits down at the little table. I have changed out of my uniform and into a dark blue satin man-tailored pajama shirt and a pair of shorts. I like the easy buttons down the front of my top and how the thin fabric makes my lack of underwear all too evident.

“Hey, I’m serious about that chess game…” I say, with the merest hint of irony.

I set the cold bottle on the table in front of him, lingering for just a moment longer than necessary near his shoulder. I want him to pick up the scent of my perfume. I turn away the instant he looks up and his eyes meet mine.

“So am I! Ready when you are!” He recovers easily.

It’s a challenge, this calling of my bluff. But I retrieve the set from under my bed and bring it into the kitchen.

Sitting down across from him, I unfold the checker board and dump the loose contents of the box  between us. The black and white pieces click and clack together as we stand them up, our fingertips touching briefly, yet comfortably as we do.  Moving in closer, focused on our task, I  feel his warm breath against my face. He smells of beer and aftershave.

“Let’s  have a smoke before we play, okay?” I get up to retrieve my purse from the kitchen counter, sifting through it for my lighter.

He leans back in the chair and folds his arms.

“Sure, but you are just prolonging the inevitable, you know…” he says, with an expression of self-satisfaction.

I pause and look up, wrinkling my nose at his perceived assumption.

“What do you mean by that??”

He laughs and winks, then takes a big swig of his Amstel Light, obviously enjoying the look on my face.

“The inevitable being how I am going to beat you.”

He sets the beer down and wipes his upper lip with the back of his hand.

“I am really good at this game. I used to play all the time when I was a kid.”

Just two co-workers having a friendly game of chess, I think to myself.

It’s all perfectly innocent.

To be continued…