The thing about working with a girl like Lainie is you never know what to expect coming into work. Some days, you’d get fancy Lainie in a dressy office outfit. Some days, you’d get lazy Lainie in jeans and sneakers.
But the more we talked at work, it seemed like I saw less lazy Lainie, and more fancy Lainie. Fewer hoodies, more sweaters. Fewer jeans, more dress pants. Fewer sneakers, more real shoes. And while Lainie was kind of stuck in an outfit rut for a while, I started seeing new pieces show up in her work wardrobe, too.
And while I kind of felt guilty ogling my co-worker and her outfits, it was rare that I got to see a woman my age dressing nicely…so I was probably just going to have to keep feeling guilty.
One morning, I had been away from my desk when Lainie got in, so on my return to our office space, I eagerly anticipated what she might be wearing. When I turned the corner and approached our desks, I was impressed to see that Lainie was wearing an outfit that seemed to be new from head to toe. Lainie was wearing a new sweater, a red cowl neck sweater that looked dressy and cozy all at the same time. Instead of her usual black dress pants, she had gray dress pants. It was a subtle change of pace. I did notice, just barely, the shiny toes of Lainie’s favorite patent black shoes peeking out from her new pants. So maybe it was new from head to ankle.
But I didn’t get to study her too long. It was one of those mornings where it seemed I was spending more time away from my desk than I wanted, and when I was there, Lainie was busy, or not even there at all.
Instead, I just had to think about my co-worker in her cute new sweater. And those pants. And those shiny shoes.
It was early in the afternoon before Lainie and I were actually at our desks at the same time. I was just getting back and Lainie was sitting at her desk, and as I walked in, she looked up at me with those dark eyes and her shy, mischievous smile. “I like your sweater,” I said. I noticed that she had tugged the sleeves over her hands like she loved doing.
“I just got it,” Lainie said. “It’s so warm.”
“You were supposed to ask me to go shopping,” I teased.
“I know,” Lainie said. “But I wanted to go on my way home and you were still at work.”
“You’ve been shopping more than once,” I said, trying to sound upset.
“I need a lot of clothes,” Lainie said, shrugging. “Hey, can you help me later?”
“No, with this program,” Lainie said, getting back to work. “I want you to show me how to fix that spreadsheet you made for me.”
“Oh, that’s easy,” I said. “Maybe in a half-hour?”
“Sure,” Lainie said.
So after the longest half-hour I’d experienced in some time, I turned and asked Lainie, “Are you ready?”
“Sure,” she said. She never turned in her own chair, but she did inch over a bit to her right, just enough for me to wheel my own desk chair in. I got up and pushed my chair next to hers, then sat down and pulled myself closer to the desk.
As I sat down, I noticed that Lainie had folded her left leg onto her chair, her shiny shoe peeking out from her right thigh. Her right foot was still planted on the floor. I wasn’t sure how it was more comfortable, but women had this thing about sitting on their feet, it seemed. Lainie certainly did.
But then, as we were working, Lainie leaned into the desk, her right hand disappearing out of sight. She was still paying attention but somehow distracted, her hand up to something under there. And then she sat back up. “Sorry,” she said in a near-whisper, focused again on what I was doing.
Lainie and I continued working, and then I heard a tiny scuffle under the desk, and Lainie shifted her position, apparently folding her right leg up into her seat. This time, she reached with her left hand, pulling her right leg up and under her left thigh. She adjusted herself as I saw the darkness of her foot peek out from under the gray fabric of her pantleg. It didn’t seem comfortable to me, but it must have been an improvement for her.
I passed the mouse to Lainie, so she could do the next step of our task. As she took over, I glanced down, looking forward to seeing Lainie’s shiny black Mary Jane pump. But there was no tall heel peeking out from under her thigh.
Instead, I saw her toes.
Lainie’s little black-stockinged toes, curling and uncurling slowly under her thigh.
At that moment I couldn’t have cared less if Lainie deleted the spreadsheet. Apparently she had unbuckled her shoe before tucking her foot under her. I made sure her eyes were on the screen before I glanced down again. The last time I saw Lainie’s nylon foot, she had worn sheer black nylons. This time, her stockings were jet black, completely opaque, and completely sexy. I couldn’t really make out her toes, so much as five soft little bumps gently curling tightly, then uncurling, kind of a reflex action.
She might as well have been asking me to rub her foot.
But she hadn’t even drawn attention to her foot, so I tried to remain focused. I looked up, looked forward, helped Lainie with the next step or two. I looked down, saw Lainie’s silky little foot, looked back up and tried to re-focus. I looked under the desk and saw her single shiny pump, unbuckled and empty on the floor, the gold insole a giveaway in the darkness that her shoe was empty. She must have still had her other shoe on, which would have surprised me more if she hadn’t taken just the one shoe off that time a couple weeks before.
Lainie passed the mouse back to me, and I went over the next couple steps with her. And while she paid attention, once again Lainie’s right hand slipped under the desk, fiddling with something while she watched. Her delicate movements shifted to something more obvious as she shifted slightly in her seat, and then I heard a soft thump under the chair. I couldn’t help but look down to see Lainie’s other Mary Jane pump, on its side next to her first empty shoe.
“Sorry,” Lainie whispered. She had caught me looking.
I tried to focus, but knowing my co-worker was now shoeless in the chair next to me was nothing short of arousing. And it wasn’t as if she had accidentally lost her shoes; she had deliberately taken them off. That was even hotter.
As we worked, I kept glancing down at Lainie’s right foot. She was still curling her toes tightly, occasionally spreading them with a little wiggle before curling them tightly again. I wondered if she was doing the same with her left foot. I wondered if it was just nervous behavior, or if it felt good to curl her toes.
And since apologizing for making noise with her shoe, Lainie hadn’t said a thing about her feet, so I was starting to wonder if she really did know I was looking.
We had been working for almost an hour, and Lainie had been out of her shoes for almost an hour, when we sent the first part of our job to the printer. “Are you going to go get it?” Lainie asked.
“I wasn’t going to,” I said. “Why?”
“I’m thirsty,” Lainie said. “Can you grab me a bottle of water?”
“Why can’t you get one?” I asked. I said it jokingly, but I knew I was sort of planting a trap.
Lainie sighed. “Because I took my shoes off,” she said.
“Can’t you just slip them back on?” I asked her.
“But I don’t wanna,” Lainie whined.
I had no problem getting her a bottle of water, mostly because it seemed like Lainie really didn’t want to put her shoes back on. And sure enough, when I returned from my sprint to the office fridge, her feet were still folded in her desk chair. “Thank you,” she said as I passed her her bottle of water.
I sat back down. Lainie had rotated her chair out from the desk, and now I could see her left ankle, tucked under her right thigh. “So why’d you take your shoes off?” I asked her.
“Have you ever had this pair of heels that are really cute but don’t fit that well?” Lainie asked. “So you wear them to work, but then they hurt to walk in because there’s no padding in the toes? So you take them off after lunch, and then you don’t want to put your shoes back on?”
Lainie’s story was particularly specific. Specific enough that I was pretty sure I had never encountered any part of it. “No, I guess not,” I said.
Lainie shrugged. “My feets are sore,” she said in her babytalk voice. She wiggled her nylon toes.
“Maybe you shouldn’t wear them if they hurt your feet,” I said.
“But they’re so cute,” Lainie whined. She reached down and grabbed one of her empty shoes, holding it up for me to see. “See?”
I was starting to like this shoe show-and-tell game Lainie was playing. Not that I hadn’t seen these shoes before. But she had never dangled one in front of my face, either. They were the perfect shoes for her. The tall heels were professional and classy. The rounded toes made them younger and softer. The unbuckled ankle straps showed the creases where she usually fastened them to her feet. The shiny gold insoles made the shoes look fancy, even though she had probably found them on sale at Walmart.
They were pretty sexy. But I didn’t want to out myself any more than I already had.
“They’re classy,” I said. That seemed safe.
“Thank you,” Lainie said with a smile. “I love them.”
“Except right now.”
“Shhhh,” Lainie said, giggling. “I still love them, I just can’t wear them,” she corrected, setting her shoe back under the desk.
For another challenging hour, we worked on that spreadsheet problem. The real problem, of course, was concentration. Try focusing when you’re sitting next to your cute, completely dateable co-worker who has her shoes off and her stockinged feet in her chair, just inches away from you. Especially when, after sitting there wiggling her feet for an hour, she shifts in her chair so both of her stockinged soles are on your side, peeking out from under her soft gray slacks.
“Is that really comfortable?” I asked.
“Sitting on your feet like that.”
“It makes me feel taller in my chair,” Lainie said. “I had to shift because my legs were falling asleep.”
I looked down at Lainie’s opaque black soles, the little bumps of her toes wiggling lazily. I wanted to rub her feet so bad.
“That’s what you get for wearing those shoes,” I said.
“Then buy me better ones,” Lainie fired back.
“You’d probably take those off too.”
“Probably,” Lainie agreed.
Lainie changed positions again, this time folding her right leg under her on the chair, and dangling her left foot above the floor and her empty shoes. Now I could see the shape of Lainie’s dangling foot, the curves as she flexed her feet and curled and uncurled her toes. I felt like I was going to explode. Even in the darkness under the desk I could see Lainie’s foot, and what I couldn’t see, I could imagine. This had been a day.
But days eventually come to a close, and as we started winding down, I was still surprised Lainie hadn’t slipped her shoes back on. In fact, as I moved my chair back, she spun her chair around to face me, her left leg still dangling in the air, her soft black nyloned foot still as a sculpture. Lainie reached down and rubbed her right foot, before unfolding her right leg and stretching her shoeless feet in front of her.
“Thanks for helping me,” Lainie said, wiggling her silky toes.
“No problem,” I said.
Lainie picked her heels up from the floor. “I don’t wanna wear these,” she whined.
“Then don’t put them on,” I said.
“I don’t wanna get my feets dirty, though.”
“I can’t carry you,” I said.
“I know,” Lainie said, setting the heels on the floor in front of her and gingerly slipping her feet into them. “Wanna know a secret?” she asked in a whisper as she buckled one ankle strap.
“Sure,” I said.
“Sometimes when I wear these,” Lainie said, “I leave the straps loose so I can take them off easier.”
“I’ve never noticed that,” I said out loud. But I was sure going to pay attention.
“Well, I never knew you were interested,” Lainie said, laughing.
And as Lainie stood up in her tall, shiny heels and gathered her things to go clock out, I wondered if Lainie really knew just how interested I was.
Part 4 to come later. For now, enjoy!