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by Lauren Bell

He catches me looking at his arm; a slim moon-white limb. They are boyish arms despite the thirtysomething owner, and hairless too. I imagine what he would taste like, whether he has feather-fine hair that would tickle my mouth or whether they are smooth and soft like a baby’s.

He has his jumper sleeves rolled up exposing his flesh to a sliver of sunlight forcing its way into our office. My eyes linger at the crook of his arm, wondering about his slender muscles currently under wraps, when suddenly he dips his head so that our eyes meet. I instantly colour, not knowing where to look. My eyes temporarily glaze over and I am lost in a fug of embarrassment.

Shit, shit, shit.

For the past fortnight I have gazed at his arms, at their virginal beauty, wondering what it would feel like to be wrapped in them. I want to smell him, have his scent on me, have his skin on my skin, his arms stroking me, and I could have told him, I really wanted to, but I don’t want him to freak out and suddenly change places with Anton, the pig.

But now he’s seen me and he knows. My heart momentarily stops, my blood cooling on the spot. He smiles then turns back to his computer.

It’s fine, I tell myself. I’ve just boosted his ego a bit, that’s all.

I settle in to my chair and try to focus on the words in front of me; the sentences blurring together to create a winding literary snake devouring the page. And then an email notification pops up in the bottom right hand corner of the screen — Karl Mathews.

I quickly glance over to where arm guy sits and there’s the smile again, his eyes focused on the screen in front, the smile meant entirely for me. My breath catches in the back of my throat, the heat quickly rising to my cheeks.

I open his email.

Hey, I wondered whether you’d like to meet for lunch later? My treat!

P.S. I’m glad you like my arms x

And then he gets up and brushes past me, his naked forearm gently touching my covered one. Without thinking, I get up and follow him. I hope he’s not going to the toilet because if he turns around now I don’t know what excuse I’ll give (the ladies are in the opposite direction). He stops and turns.

“I knew you’d follow,” he says. Again, that slice of a smile shredding my heart. “Come here.”

I walk over and he begins rolling up his sleeve revealing a dainty heart tattoo just above the crook of his arm. I don’t want to know what it means or who it’s intended for; I just want to touch it, to feel my lips brush the surface of the pattern, to feel complete.

“For you,” he whispers and brings his slim moon-white arm to my face.

Lauren Bell lives in Birmingham, loves rainbows and is often drunk on inspiration. Her work has been published by Bare Fiction, Firewords Quarterly, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine and Litro Online.