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December 1994

By Catherine Kitcho

For Andrea, it was just another conference at another hotel in another city. She was growing tired of them. The same people droning on and on about their insignificant research. When were they going to get a real job?

This one, the IXth Annual Conference on the Effects of Silicon Impurities on Performance of Semiconductors, was in Los Angeles. What a pain. Andrea hated having to drive in L.A.or even to take cabs. But, it was part of the job to track the latest technical developments; her employer wanted to keep a jump on the competition, especially in research and development. As she looked over the conference program and registration form, Andrea wondered why they always used those roman numerals with the title of the conference. Must be to make it sound like an event - like if you weren't going you wouldn't be part of making history. She had waited too long to register for this one; now she wouldn't be able to get a room at the conference hotel, meaning that she'd have to take one of those awful shuttle buses back and forth. Or walk. Except not in L.A.; nobody walked in L.A. It's just too dangerous.

She arrived on the first morning of the conference, in time for onsite registration. In an antisocial mood, she buried her face in the program to scan the contents for anything meaningful to attend. She looked at her watch. The first session started at 10:00 in the ballroom. She decided to go and check in to her hotel first and then come back. She shoved a dollar into the bellman's hand as she stepped into the cab at the front of the line.

Andrea's hotel was about a mile away. "Damn!" she muttered. "Too far to walk in heels." She settled her garment bag in the room and unzipped it to let it breathe and recover. As she glanced quickly in the mirror, her reflection was definitely bored already. She took her two fingers, pulling up the sides of her mouth into an exaggerated smile. "Now you can do better than that. A lot of people would just LOVE to have the opportunity to go to all these conferences," she admonished.

The plenary session (whatever that means, Andrea thought) was a real snoozer. She sneaked out a little early to get a head start on the lunch crowd; the hotel's restaurants were sure to be jammed. She got to the coffee shop as they were about to open. She was the first patron seated. As she ate her solitary lunch, she buried her face in the program again, occasionally circling a few sessions here and there. As she left, the place was packed. She felt like going back to her hotel and taking a nap, but that was a lot of cab fare for just one hour. She went back to the lobby of the hotel to people-watch for a while, a favorite pastime developed during all the time she spent in airports.

At most of the conferences Andrea attended, she was one of about ten women total. This one was no exception. The lobby of the hotel was furnished beautifully (she expected nothing less in glitzy L.A.) with peach and sage green upholstered chairs and sofas. Polished wood tables and lamps and several potted plants made it look like a gigantic living room with escalators. Andrea settled into a peach chair, pretending to wait for someone. People, mostly men, were checking in at the registration desk, impatiently glancing at their watches. A casually-dressed photographer with an orange Press badge went up to the cashier to get change. He came back a few minutes later sipping a Coca Cola. A short, Hispanic bellhop strode by, keys and change rattling in his pocket. A young wiry man got off the elevator with running shoes, blue shorts and a tank top to go jogging. An older man with a red speaker ribbon on his badge walked toward the elevator looking tired. She recognized him as one of the more interesting speakers from the morning session.

Andrea glanced at her watch, then headed toward the UP escalator; the afternoon session was about to begin. As she traveled up, she absentmindedly watched the people on the other escalator going down - about ten feet away. Suddenly, one of the men said in a loud voice, "Andrea? It's Andrea, isn't it?" Her head snapped around to look for the source of the voice. This guy looked vaguely familiar, but she gave him a puzzled look. He shouted again as he approached the bottom of the escalator, "It's Sam. Sam Levine." He jerked as the escalator hit bottom and Andrea craned her neck around behind her to look at him, still without recognition. He motioned to her, "I'll come up," he shouted. She waited at the top of the escalator, her cheeks pink as her fellow passengers looked her over.

Sam came up to her and shook her hand. "You're Andrea Doherty, right?"

Andrea replied cautiously, "Yes...I...I'm afraid I can't quite place you, though. Have we met?"

"Yeah, we sure did. At the sixth annual conference - in Minneapolis, remember? You shared my table at breakfast when it was really crowded. We talked about our research work and how frustrating it was. Let's see...I think I even remember what you waffles with strawberries."

Andrea thought this guy must be really desperate. "I think I'm starting to remember now. You live somewhere in Texas, right?"

"Very good," Sam grinned. "Dallas then, still there."

"And you're married?" Andrea decided to be bold.

"Not any more. Started divorce proceedings. How about you? I seem to recall you were "living with" at the time. Did you ever get married?"

"Ah, no, we didn't. We've split, but...."

"Perfect, then you will of course join me for dinner tonight. Are you open?"

Andrea couldn't think fast enough. "Um, okay. Where?" "Are you staying here at the conference hotel?"

"No, I'm about a mile from here. I registered too late."

"Want to meet me down in this lobby about 6:30? We'll have a drink first."

"Okay, see you then. I'm going to concurrent session B. Where are you off to?"

"Have to go to session A. I guess I'll see you later, then." Sam grinned smoothly again.

"Right." As Andrea walked away, she looked around to see how many people had witnessed the scene. She decided that there weren't enough to affect her dignity.

All through the afternoon session Andrea thought about Sam. There were some definite warm vibes there. Maybe even hot ones. He had an engaging grin, too. She daydreamed about how reckless they could be, what fun they might have. Maybe this conference would be livened up a little. She rehearsed several scenarios in her mind; she was equally skilled at playing the tease, the virgin, , the hooker, the sister,the older woman, the young woman, and of course, hard-to-get. Which would it be tonight? She sensed that Sam was ready for any or all of those.

Andrea was fresh from a nap and shower as she took a cab back to the hotel to meet Sam. She walked in to the lobby a few minutes before 6:30, and sat in one of the green chairs with a view of the elevator, and waited for Sam to emerge. As the elevator bell rang each time, she looked up. Several jogger dressed in shorts and Nikes emerged, then a trio of people from the conference still with their badges on. The trio was made up of two women in dresses with business pumps on, engaged with serious conversation with an older, bald man in a blue outdated sport coat. As they walked by, the man stretched an arm around the waist of the woman on his left. Andrea thought, wife or hooker or threesome? She smiled to herself, then wondered how she would feel if people thought that about her. Maybe she shouldn't have worn the red silk dress tonight. Uh oh.

Sam was late. Andrea glanced at her watch; 6:45. The demons entered her mind. Was she stood up? Actually stood up? She thought that only happened when you were a teenager. As she wondered how much longer she should wait, Sam finally emerged from the elevator. He looked around, and Andrea stood up. She watched his up scan up and down her body. He whistled. Andrea could not believe him. After he whistled, he came over and in a deafening voice said, "Sensational! Wow, look at you." Andrea was in agony. Even the bellhops looked up and chuckled. Andrea grabbed Sam's arm and said sternly, "Let's go have a drink. The lobby bar is over here."

Sam steered Andrea in the opposite direction - toward the elevator. "We will in a minute, but I still need to make a phone call from my room. I've been trying to reach my boss at the office for half an hour with no luck, so I thought I'd come down and get you first. It'll just take a minute. Just a minor crisis going on." Andrea replied coyly, "Well, okay," and gave him a sly grin as the elevator door closed. Definitely hard to get mode.

Sam used the card key to unlock his door and gestured and bowed for Andrea to enter first. She did, and casually strolled over to the window to check out the view. He said, "This will just take a minute." He went in to the bathroom to make his call, she assumed.

"Hey, is there a phone in these bathrooms, too?" Andrea yelled through the door.

His muffled reply said, "There sure is - wanna see?"

"No, just kidding," Andrea chuckled. Hmm. That sounded like sister mode. She still couldn't decide on her plan of attack. Sam came out of the bathroom rather abruptly. She hadn't heard him talking in there, or she didn't think so.

He walked over to her as she stood by the window. Silently, he looked steadily into her eyes, sending signals to her hormones. They took over immediately. He slowly brought her to him and in one deliberate motion kissed her. He was maddeningly slow about it. How did he know what sent her to the edge? He was as skilled as she. Andrea could not recall how to play hard to get. It was too late. He had overpowered her in his first chess move. The only role left to play was hooker. She went into action. Her voice lowered as she whispered, "I want more." He teased her, holding back. She touched him there, as deliberately as he had kissed her. His hormones took over and pulsed back their approval. Four eyes locked in a gaze, unblinking. Arms stripped thin and thick layers, zippers and buttons, down to basic flesh. Bodies met, melting and forging in harmony. They alternately shouted and panted, then giggled as they parted in sweaty heaps on the king-sized bed. What a performance, thought Andrea, I was great. On top of that, the two or three orgasms were pretty good, too. She then worried; where had all that animal instinct come from? It was a little scary. She looked over at Sam, half expecting him to fall asleep. He wasn't.

Sam grinned and said, "How many more days left of the conference?"

Andrea said, "Two more."

"Well, we'd better go get some food, then. We're going to need our energy."

Andrea was back in the lobby the next day, to meet Sam at the designated time. He was late again; 20 minutes this time. After the previous evening, she was sure he'd be back for more. She looked at her watch; the conference would start again in less than half an hour. She walked up to the front desk and asked the young woman whether there was a message for her. The clerk went to check, then came back. "I'm sorry, ma'am there's no message."

Andrea said, "How do I dial a hotel guest who's staying here?" The clerk pointed to a phone sitting on a polished wooden table at the side of the lobby. "Use that phone, and ask the operator to connect you."

Andrea dialed "0", and a pleasant voice answered. "I'd like to speak to one of your guests, Sam Levine."

"One moment, please." Andrea tapped her foot, formulating her angry response to Sam.

"I'm sorry, ma'am, but we show that Mr. Levine checked out this morning. Is there another number you'd like to call?"

Andrea was stunned. She replied in a drained voice, "Ah, no, thank you, though." She felt waves of hurt, anger and guilt wash over her psyche. How could he do that to her? Why didn't he have the decency to even leave a message for her? Men! She felt so stupid for being so vulnerable.

She aimlessly got back on the escalator again to go up to the restaurant. She was too depressed to go back to the conference. From the other escalator a man shouted, "Andrea?" She swung around, thinking it was Sam, just playing a joke on her. It wasn't Sam. The man didn't look familiar at all. He tried again. "Andrea, it's Brian Weller. Don't you remember? We met at the conference last year in Seattle...we..." He reached the bottom of the escalator. Andrea kept walking.

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