Coming Friday, March 28 - a hefty dose of love in an elevator, with a touch of magic, from Changeling Press (click on the link in the title above).

The fashion industry isn't kind to aging models. That's why Lanie Stevens, at the ripe old age of 34, needs help. A skewed self-image has kept her celibate way too long. Her only sexual thrill comes from ogling a handsome tech exec with whom she rides the elevator after her therapy sessions. Richard Sauter is great food for fantasy, but he looks right through her. Besides, he seems to be dating another woman.

The whole sorry situation changes one day when a stunning, long-haired man boards the elevator with the two regular riders. The car mysteriously stalls between floors. Soon, Lanie will have no reason to doubt her allure, Richard will never look through her again . . . and both will believe in magic.

* The following excerpt is PG-13 *

Lanie Stevens walked out of the ninth meeting of her Fear of Fucking group no less fearful than when she first joined it. Par for the course. She knew she’d still have a third-degree anxiety attack if she let a man touch her, especially if she were fully undressed. Hell, she nearly had one every time she took a shower.

Of course, "Fear of Fucking" wasn’t the therapy group’s official name. It was "Image and Essence" or some damned thing, and the group had been formed to help people with mild BDD or body dysmorphic disorder straighten out their skewed view of themselves. The group was supposed to help them achieve self-acceptance, take pride in their appearance, even revel in their physicality.

As far as Lanie was concerned, "fear of fucking" was what the whole thorny issue came down to. She’d been miserably celibate for months, and the situation didn’t seem likely to reverse itself anytime soon. The only solution she’d been able to come up with was both temporary and a little absurd. But so what? It had no impact on anybody but her.

First checking her watch, Lanie followed the same route she always followed when leaving the thirty-third floor of the Paquette Building in Chicago. It was much farther than she had to go to find an elevator -- there was a bank of four only twenty steps from the therapist’s office -- but she had three reasons for making this trek to the northwest corner of the high-rise. First, she felt she could use the exercise. Second, engaging in small-talk with the other group members only taxed her patience. Third, and most important, she was in search of her favorite food for fantasy.

That meal came in the eye-friendly form of a man named Richard Sauter, who invariably rode this particular elevator down to street level at this time of day. He was usually accompanied by a petite and very professional looking woman named Marla, who was probably his business partner, colleague or assistant. In any case, it was clear they had a much more personal relationship outside the office.

Lanie figured if she couldn’t have sex in real life, she could at least have it in her boundless imagination. All manner of magic was possible there. She’d again be the premier runway model she was ten years ago. Or maybe not. In either case, Richard would look at her, not through her, and Marla could be eliminated as easily as an ex-boyfriend’s face is snipped out of a favorite photograph.

Recently, Lanie sometimes put a gorgeous man in Marla’s place. That was a scenario so ripe with delicious possibilities she was taking her time with it, envisioning its progress step by tantalizing step. Just thinking of this fantasy -- even here, in the gleaming granite and marble corridors of the stately Paquette Building -- made her wet and squirmy.

~ Copyright (c) K. Z. Snow

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