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She was tall, about five feet eight, with a buxom-slender figure from an adolescent fantasy. She wore a navy blue skirt suit that hugged her with a lover's fervor, and matching high-heeled pumps that transformed her already magnificent legs into instruments of erotic torment. Her dark brown hair brushed gently over her shoulders as she climbed. When she raised her face and her eyes met mine, the impact should have thrown me back against the wall. Those eyes were huge, luminous, and so kind that I couldn't imagine her ever speaking a word in anger.

No woman had shaken me that way since Bea left me.

She smiled. It was enough to melt the Rock of Gibraltar.

"Hi," she said, and climbed on past me.

It was some time before I realized that I'd frozen solid on the staircase. Even after I realized, it took a few seconds to make my limbs move normally again.

Heaven had descended to Earth and looked me in the eyes.

She couldn't have been more than twenty-five years old. I was well past forty. I had no more business fantasizing about a young goddess like that than I had of trying to play in the Masters', but of course that didn't stop me.

I should have continued down, but instead I glanced up at the flight I'd just descended. She was standing at the middle of it, watching me intently. It was a second blow, and nearly fatal.

"Are you all right?" she said. Her concern seemed genuine.

I forced a smile. "Fine. Just a little winded."

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