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I did not mean for him to read my mind but sometimes there are just people you look at and wonder…why has no one hit you over the head yet? The fact he heard me as if I’d spoke out loud was regrettable.

“I can explain.”

“Explain that you want to murder me?” Eyebrows up and if I wasn’t mistaken…was that a possibility of an HR complaint glittering in his gaze?

Oh, I hoped not. I certainly didn’t want to murder anyone. Though now if someone else were to have done it, I wouldn’t have been averse.

“As if that makes it any better?” His expression became even more consternated.

“Stop reading my thoughts!”

“I’m not. You’re practically screaming them. As if you wanted to make damn sure I heard how much you despise me.”

“I don’t despise you. Hell, I don’t even think—” No, I couldn’t say that. It would be a lie.

He shook his head and backed up, waving a hand dismissively. “Forget it. I don’t need your help. Get back to whatever important report you were working on. I’m going to fill this out myself. Try to keep your thoughts a tad quieter please.” He started to turn, then added, “Or at least less murderous.”

He strode off, papers still in hand, slacks tight around his ass. A very nice—

I immediately thought about how loud the florescent lights buzzed. How strong the chicken and broccoli in the break room smelled. How the lines on the forms in my hand didn’t line up.

I thought about a lot of innocuous things that didn’t involve people. Especially not him.

My mind became a temple after that. The religious sort. All kindness and love and cherries on top. I meditated for the first time in my life, stray thoughts like cats clawing to get in. I kept shoving them away, cutting the thoughts off rather than dwell and linger and daydream as I had been doing.

He’d probably heard. All those thoughts I’d played within while bored at my desk. Heard how I’d—

I hoped that telepath down the hall appreciated my efforts.

—Did you hear that? I hope you appreciate it—

It seemed to help. At least he never came up to me at work, neither to demand my help or tell me about my unintentional murderous thoughts again. I was quite proud of myself, keeping my thoughts—mostly—in check during work hours.

Then we had a rush of cold weather, followed by a rash of sickness that swept through the building like wildfire. I used up two sick days, then came to work the third with my head still pounding and a stuffiness lingering in my nose. Sat at my desk, squinting at emails and code while nursing a paper cup with cooling tea.

It was after lunch that I saw him. He walked right in the office I shared, set an unopened bottle of cold medicine and a fresh cup of tea from down the street next to my computer and then walked back out without a word.

I should have said thank you, but I was too much in shock, sitting there, mouth agape, mind empty as he disappeared.

Thank you—I thought it as hard as I could, as loud as I could, while his footsteps faded down the hall. Those footsteps paused. Then continued on.

I received an email fifteen minutes later: “You’re welcome.”

I was less careful of my thoughts after that. Maybe I’d judged him too harshly that first day. I’d already been frustrated, had reacted instinctively when I’d thought he wanted me to do his work for him. He certainly didn’t seem to garner complaints from anyone else. Though…I had to wonder if that was because he’d confronted them with his abilities same as he’d done me, keeping them from thinking about him at all, let alone negatively.

He knocked on the door frame two days later, right after my office mate had packed up and left for the day. I figured he must have heard her leaving. Either with his physical ears or his mental ones.

“Have a moment?” he asked.

“Sure.” I gestured to the empty room though I had no chair for him to take. He propped himself on the edge of my desk, far enough away he didn’t crowd me.

“Feeling better?”

“Sure,” I said again, wondering what he wanted.

“I just… I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. And no, I haven’t told the whole building about being to hear them. Most don’t think as loud as you do. Some would be impossible read even if I tried.”

“Okay,” I said, still wondering.

“Someone in HR knows. And my direct manager. And you.”

“I wasn’t thinking about reporting you.”

“I know that,” he said hurriedly.

“Of course you do.”

He shifted uncomfortably and crossed his arms like he needed some barrier between us. Then he quickly uncrossed his arms again.

“No barrier, I—”

“That’s so creepy.”

He paused. “You think I’m creepy?”

Yes. No. “I don’t know.”

“Would you prefer I pretended not to hear you like I do with everyone else?”

So he didn’t act this way with everyone? What made me special?

“Because you…” His lips pressed together as he stared down at me.

“I can’t read you mind,” I reminded him with a chuckle.

“I didn’t seek your help last month because I needed it,” he blurted out. “It was an excuse because you kept thinking about me.”

I squeezed the handle of my chair. A flush rose up my neck and my heart rate picked up speed, just enough that I had to steel myself when I spoke so that my voice did not shudder.

“What do you mean?”

But I was afraid I knew exactly what he meant. For my thoughts had been my own once upon a time and I hadn’t resisted staring at the new hire. Hadn’t resisted carnal thoughts about what we do if I’d gotten him in bed. Daydreams had fed my desire during those first few weeks. Of his hard body against mine, thick hands working across my skin, gripping my cock in a choking hold and his lips—

He cleared his throat. Then cleared it again before faking a cough.

—Those thoughts?—

“Yeah,” he said in a rough voice. “Those thoughts.”

“And you wanted me to stop.”

“I…”

My gaze dropped to where his pants had tightened slightly at his groin. He shifted again, but not in an attempt to hide the swelling of a fat erection, that length pulled up toward his belt.

“Or,” I began, a smile rising to my lips, hoping I wasn’t about to get hit with a sexual harassment claim. “Did you enjoy my fantasies? Wanted to bring them life? Get a real taste, hear my words rather than my thoughts?”

He grinned. “I had some of my own as well.”

“Why ever didn’t you say so?” I asked.

He laughed self-consciously. “When you found out I could hear, you thought about murdering me—”

“I did not! I merely wondered why someone else hadn’t.”

“—and then the daydreams stopped.”

“I had assumed you wanted them to.”

“I get that now. Hear you, loud and clear.” Then he leaned forward. “And yes, I’d love to.”

~ ~ ~

I have over 900 random downloaded photos in a folder on my phone that I like to use as prompts. I’ll ask someone to give me a number between x and y and then use that particular photo to try and write a flash. Occasionally they become not flash and get shelved, but most of the time, they stay under control.

Sometimes I get pretty pictures to work with. (Yay! My favorite!) And sometimes I get some stupid funny meme or whatever you call those quote/funny lines with a colored background that I then immediately regret saving because it’s a lame prompt. This one was literally one of those “why has no one hit you with a brick/shovel/whatever before.”

I ran with it. Because you can make anything into a story if you try hard enough. Then I deleted the photo.

Actually, last month’s (Likely No Different) was a word/meme thing as a prompt too. Something about making a decision today. I can’t remember, because I deleted that one too.

Next month’s, The Immortal Lover at Lake Phanta, was a pretty picture with a lake in it :)

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