On the surface, Mel was a major winner: fresh-faced, bosomy yet slender, extroverted, and well supplied with intelligence and drive. She was always beautifully dressed: tailored blouses, knee-length skirts, hose and high heels. Never trousers or jeans. Always just the right number of accessories, and always in the best of taste. Her skill at negotiating with our suppliers left thirty-year veterans of the purchasing wars breathless. She knew how to play the corporate game, too; at twenty-eight she already had upper management eating out of her hand. The smart money was on her becoming the director of the department when Josh Parnell finally found the grace to retire. All the other women hated her.

You had to know about her slutteries to appreciate the contradiction.

Major winner, yeah. Young, single, beautiful, energetic, competent—and cheap. Cheap by choice.

Mel’s trademark sex act had earned her a weird moniker: “Tornado.” Apparently “Hoover” was considered too cliched, or perhaps inappropriate because she preferred to stand up. I couldn’t help but wonder if she knew about it...or cared.

I cared. I tried not to let it show.

I stayed well clear of her. As powerfully attracted to her as I was, I had no intention of becoming part of her stable. Cheap and easy have never done a thing for me. I was damned if I’d ratify it with a woman as super in every other way as Mel.

After she’d been a bare two years in the department, I learned that I was the only man there who hadn’t sampled her favors. That made me one of the office jokes, as well. I tried not to let it bother me.

But it bothered Mel.

* * *

A typical office has a few spots in which, given time and determination, you can corner anyone: the coffee service, the water cooler, the copier, the fax machine, and the departmental secretary’s station. If you’re aware that you’re being stalked, those are places to avoid. Use them after hours if you can. If you can’t wait that long, “case the joint” before approaching, do your work, and get back to your desk. Don’t linger.

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