A Sizzling Summer by The Bay - Part One
If you have NOT read Double Entendre, you will likely want to read it FIRST before continuing with this story. This story will spoil the plot of that book.
This is a fan-request, of a story between certain characters in that book before Quinn meets Mistress Jade.
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A Sizzling Summer by The Bay - Part One
June 2016 – San Francisco, California
Estelle Reeves sat in the break room at Avery’s Advertising Agency, eating her lunch. She’d been working at the company for about three months, and it suited her. Quinn was a tough but fair boss. A sexy woman if she’d ever met one, but she wasn’t going to date her boss. Avery, on the other hand… Well, let’s just say she was just fine letting Quinn handle that woman.
Estelle needed a change of pace. She’d grown up in Monterey, California, then gone to school at UCLA because it kept her close enough to family to keep an eye on her mother, but far enough away that she had some breathing room. LA was about a six-hour drive from Monterey so she could be home in a day if need be.
She’d tried working in LA for several years. It gave her a significant leg up in the marketing industry, but LA wasn’t much to her liking. So many superficial people, especially in the marketing industry. It was time for a change, and San Francisco seemed like a good segue in something new without being too drastic. It still kept her three hours from Monterey and maintained all the things she loved about the California coast – the salt air, the rolling hills, the shopping, and resources of the big city at her fingertips.
As she took a bite of her bagel, the newbie walked in. Her name was Nona or something? She was on Bracket’s team, but Avery was pushing to have her on Quinn’s, so Estelle figured they’d be working together soon.
Estelle smiled when the woman made eye contact with her. She put up a hand and waved her over to join her. The woman smiled in return and headed her way. It wasn’t a huge room. Six large round tables comfortably sat six or seven. Estelle liked to take her lunch after 1 p.m. when everyone was already done. She’d taken her lunch particularly late today, pushing two o’clock, and the room only had three others in it.
Estelle studied the woman as she wove her way through the tables. She was biracial like herself, but she couldn’t tell what her mix of ethnic backgrounds were. She had perpetually bronze-colored skin like herself, tight honey brown curls which she was wearing in a loose ponytail, light green eyes that were almost blue, and full pouty pink lips which accentuated her heart-shaped face. She was quite beautiful.
“Hey,” Estelle said as the woman sat down.
“Hey, yourself. You’re Estelle, right?”
“Yes, and forgive me, I’ve forgotten your name.”
“Iona.” She thrust her hand out for a shake as she seated herself in the chair near Estelle.
“Nice to meet you, Iona. So, how do you like it here so far?” Estelle asked.
“Not bad. I wanted a change of environment, and I got it.” Iona smiled and pulled her Thai takeout out of the bag and began to eat.
Estelle nodded. “I get it. I’ve only been here for about three months. I needed a complete life overhaul.”
Iona laughed. “So, you moved to the city to take this job?”
“I did. From Los Angeles. You?”
Estelle’s eyes rose in surprise. “This is quite a radical change, I would imagine?”
“I’ve been to San Fran all of once in my life before moving here, so yeah, it’s pretty different,” Iona chuckled wryly.
Estelle sensed there was something more behind that reaction. She wasn’t going to press. “Have you been to all the city attractions yet?”
Iona’s mouth was full, so she shook her head no.
“Oh, well, you’ve got to get out and see the sights at some point. Although, I’m one to talk. I’ve been here for three months and still haven’t seen Alcatraz. I’ve heard it’s spooky. I’m a sucker for paranormal stuff. What can I say?” Estelle shrugged and popped the last bite of her bagel sandwich in her mouth.
Iona laughed. “I’m not a big fan of horror myself.”
“No, horror is a totally different genre. Paranormal is the spooky, otherworldly stuff. Horror can get pretty gory and such. Although, I’m okay with a good hack and slash classic once in a while, as long as it might include a young Jamie Lee Curtis in a certain state of undress.”
Iona’s deep husky voice burst into full laughter. Estelle felt a flush of heat surge in her. This woman was kinda hot.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Iona said.
Was she blushing too?
Estelle stood up. “Well, I’ve gotta get back to work. I’ll see ya around.”
“Yeah, you too.”
The workday was almost over, and Estelle found a nice work groove. It was about ten minutes to the hour when Quinn stopped by.
“Hello, Ms. Redinger. What can I help you with?”
“Estelle, I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times, just Quinn.”
Estelle smiled impishly. “What can I help you with, Ms. Quinn?”
Quinn rolled her eyes. “Get with Iona before she leaves. I’m not happy having another newb – no offense – but Avery wants Iona on our team. I need you to bring her up to speed on The Skinny Mini account, and the Dullet account if you have time.
Estelle looked at the time on her phone. “Not to offend, but you want me to bring her up to speed inside of twenty minutes? Or would you prefer I do this tomorrow?”
“Is it really that late?”
Quinn sighed and rubbed her temples. “Can you stay late? I’ll see to it you get overtime.”
“I can stay. Not sure if Iona can, though.”
“Well, check in with her. If she can, offer her the overtime. You may need to work on this the remainder of the week until she’s up to speed. I can’t believe this. This is going to put a kink in my productivity as well as Bracket’s. Iona’s probably already fully vested in his projects. Now, Avery wants her to start over with ours. Not to mention this pulls you away from focusing fully on the more pressing tasks.”
Quinn looked like she wanted to punch a hole in the wall.
“It’s all good, Quinn. I got this. I’ll get her caught up. You won’t even notice she wasn’t a member after Friday.” Estelle flashed a confident smile.
Quinn seemed to relax at this. “Thanks, I owe you one.”
“Not a problem, boss.”
Estelle stood up and made her way across the room to Iona’s desk. Iona looked up. “Hey!”
“Hey, yourself,” Estelle drawled.
“So, I guess you heard? I’m on Ms. Redinger’s team now. Guess that means we’re working together.”
“Yeah, and she just asked me to get you up to speed on the two foremost accounts. She was wondering if you could stay late, and you’ll get compensated with overtime.”
“I can stay late.”
Estelle grimaced. “Can you stay late the remainder of the week? It’s probably going to take that long.”
“I think I can manage. It’s not like I have a social life. Other than work folks, I don’t have any friends yet.”
“Okay, let’s use conference room two. It has a nice big window with a bay view. We can watch the sunset while we work.”
Iona laughed. “You’re a romantic horror fiend.”
“Not a fiend, just an aficionado.” Estelle smirked and walked back to her desk to collect her stuff. She could hear Iona’s laughter trailing behind her. Her smile widened.
This wouldn’t be so bad. Overtime and getting to know the hot new girl in the office. This could be very pleasant indeed.
They looked over all the work that had to be done. If Estelle was going to get Iona caught up by Friday, she only had four days, and it was a lot more work than she realized. Just after five-thirty, Estelle suggested they pick up a few pizzas and salads at a place just around the corner from their office building.
“It’s this little deli called Nick’s, but they do more than just chips and sandwiches. They do an entire mélange of choices. I’ve grown very attached to the food.”
“Sounds great. Let’s bulk up on snacks. Lord knows we’re gonna burn calories over the next few hours just getting this all sorted out.”
“They do homemade potato chips. They are to die for. You’ll love it.”
“I’m already sold, woman. Let’s go.”
Estelle laughed. “Let me just grab my jacket. It gets so nippy here in the evening. I bet you didn’t have to deal with that in Vegas.”
“It’s actually a misconception that it’s always hot there. In the summer, you’re right. It’s not cold. But in the winter, the temp can drop pretty low after sunset.”
“Huh, I wouldn’t have suspected. I’ve never been.”
Iona jarred as if Estelle had pushed her back. “Wait, you’re kidding me! You’ve never even done the whole ‘weekend in Vegas’ thing?”
“Nope, I can’t say that I have. I’ve never even left the western seaboard states. I have been to Oregon and Washington, but not anywhere else.”
“Oh, honey, not even Tahoe?”
Estelle shook her head and grinned.
“Well, all the really fun Tahoe stuff is on the Nevada side anyway. Okay, so if we become friends, I think I have to make sure you get a ‘weekend in Vegas’ experience,” Iona said.
Her tone was playful, and Estelle felt herself warm from the inside out. “Yes, Ma’am. Sounds great.”
They had ordered their food before leaving the office, so it was all ready to go by the time they got there. As they began to dig into the food and the tasks at hand, Estelle found that Iona was easy to work with. They had similar points of view on how things should be done. Iona had a ‘no-nonsense’ demeanor about her that was going to be great for the team.
By the time they were wrapping up their evening, it was nearing 8:30 p.m.
“So, I was thinking – and I don’t want you to get the wrong idea,” Estelle added hastily. “I live really close by. It’s about fifteen to twenty minutes’ walking distance from here. Tomorrow after work, we could do this at my place. It would probably be more comfortable, and if it goes later than nine, we don’t have to worry about security being gone for the day.”
Iona’s face seemed hesitant for a moment, and Estelle jumped in. “Ya know what, forget it. Sorry, it’s probably coming off as me hitting on you or something.” She waved her hand as if it would erase what she’d suggested.
Iona smiled. “No, it’s not you. I think it’s a great idea. Let’s do it.”
“Are you sure? I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable.” Estelle chewed on her bottom lip.
“No, I think it’s a great idea. I’ll take a cab into work tomorrow morning, and then we can walk or drive back to your house after work.” Iona’s voice was assertive.
“Okay, see ya tomorrow.”
“See ya tomorrow.”
Iona was clutching her stomach and laughing heartily. “Stop it – it hurts. We ate so much, and now you’re going to kill me by making me laugh till I burst.”
“What?” Estelle said with mock innocence and shrugged. She’d been cracking joke after joke about their latest client, purposefully causing Iona to roll with fits of laughter.
After Iona settled down again, she asked, “Where do you find these places? This was amazing! I’ve never had Filipino food before.”
“The less flashy places usually have that ‘mom n’ pop’ appeal. I mean, you have to be careful they aren’t dive-and-dash-dumps, where they clean once weekly. But usually, in the big city, the smaller places thrive off of return clientele, so they tend to be more diligent about cleanliness than the flashy places with big marketing budgets. Not always, though, you have to vet them out first.”
“So, what’s your secret to vetting a place out?”
“Bathrooms?” Iona laughed. She took a swig of her beer.
They were officially done with work. It was late, and they were hanging out for mere shits and giggles now. They were both putting back their third bottle. Estelle had settled into that warm fuzzy feeling of floating between tipsy and drunk.
“If the bathrooms are impeccably maintained, then you can bet they keep their kitchen spotless as well,” Estelle said.
Iona shook her head in approval. “Interesting. So, what was this called again?” Iona held up the long skinny spring roll.
“Lumpia. Phenomenal, aren’t they?”
“I don’t know if I can go back to regular ole’ egg rolls from Panda ever again.”
Estelle scrunched her nose. “Eww, no! These are far superior.” She plucked one out of the carton and bit into it. It was getting cold and limp now, but it still tasted wonderful.
“I don’t think they have any authentic Filipino restaurants in Vegas. Funny – the differences in cultures – even one state over. I mean, to be honest, we don’t have to worry about vetting out restaurants for their cleanliness in Vegas. Clark County does it for you.”
“Yeah, I mean almost all US counties rate restaurants and have food safety inspections, but their ratings don’t usually have to be posted as prominently as Vegas. Clark County is unique because their rating has to be posted in the form of a big letter plaque behind the register for all guests to see. Anything less than a big fat ‘A’ and you want to steer clear. They have really stringent requirements to keep your ‘A’ rating and believe me, you don’t want to lose it. It’s like a death sentence for a restaurant, and it takes a while to get that rating back.”
“So, did you work in restaurants when you were in college?”
Iona smiled ruefully. “Um, ya know, at first I did, then I – transitioned. I worked bussing tables in high school, though. It’s hard work.”
Estelle sensed it again. She felt Iona was holding back in being honest, but also wasn’t quite ready to open up. Estelle couldn’t lie, she was curious. It was also too soon to press for any details. Their friendship was fast budding, and the last thing she wanted to do was scare Iona off.
“Restaurant work is grueling,” Estelle said. “I tried my hand at it, but never made it past hostess — too much multi-tasking. I went into retail sales at a high-end clothing store in LA to put myself through college. It was good money and allowed me to focus on each customer individually, but I hated the clientele. They were so pretentious.”
Iona laughed. “In LA? No! I can’t imagine that at all.” Her voice was dripping with sarcasm.
“The Hollywood culture to the hilt.” Estelle raised her beer bottle, and Iona lifted hers and clinked it against the glass of Estelle’s.
There was a lull in the conversation, and Estelle stood up and started to clean the empty cartons, beer bottles, and paper plates on her coffee table around their laptops and file folders they still had strewn about.
“Hey, let me. You treated, so the least I can do it clean up,” Iona offered.
“It’s not that big a deal.”
“No, I insist. I need to get the alcohol out of my system before I walk home. I probably shouldn’t have had that last one.” Iona went to the kitchen and got a sponge, wiping the table where stray noodles and rice had escaped.
“You sober enough? Not to mention it’s kind of late to be walking. You can crash here. I can sleep on the pull-out sofa. Or I can call you a cab.”
Iona looked up and grinned. She wiggled her eyebrows up and down overtly. “My, my, you don’t beat around the bush, do you, Estelle? Are you trying to get me to stay the night, and it’s only been two days,” she teased.
Estelle laughed at the joke, but the innuendo had been there all night. Suggestive enough to be flirty – a possibility of ‘maybe’ or ‘maybe not.’ They were riding that fine line of ambiguous sexual energy. It was hard to tell if both of them just had a slightly sexually charged personality, or maybe it was flirting, perhaps both, or neither.
“It’s okay,” Iona said, quickly shifting back to a nonchalant tone. “I’ll take a cab. I’m not actually too far away from you. Ya want to meet at my place tomorrow? My treat this time?”
“Sure, sounds great. I’ll take a cab into work and ride home with you.”
“Sounds like a plan. Although I have to warn you, I’m not as talented at finding great little culinary places as you are. You might have to settle for pizza and wings.”
“Oh no! Wings and plain ole’ pizza! Whatever shall I do?” Estelle said with a southern falsetto accent and batted her eyelashes playfully.
Iona laughed heartily.
They were both a little more than tipsy, and Estelle knew she was being overly silly, but she felt an instant connection with Iona. They’d spent the last two nights working at her place, and in that short time, she sensed there was definitely something there. If she was being entirely honest, she felt lonely as well. It was good to connect with someone on a deeper level finally. She hadn’t actively gone out and tried to make friends since moving north. She also hadn’t dated since her time in LA. The chemistry with Iona was there. That was undeniable.
She felt a little thrill at Iona’s’ invitation to go to her place tomorrow night. She was curious to see what tells into Iona’s personality would be written in the decor and ambiance of her home.
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