by Judith BrandyElizabeth Weir giggled softly as she applied the light pink nail polish to his toe nails. She always seems so competent, so professional, but sometimes when they were alone, giggles and play escaped her normally reserved demeanor. He maintained a long suffering, “If-I-didn’t-like you, I-would-stab-you-in-the-eye-with-a-fork” look as she worked. “You lost the bet,” she admonished when he tried to pull his toes away. “You have to let me give you the full treatment.” Another soft giggle. She was really enjoying this. John Sheppard didn’t wear socks; he hated them. They made his feet musty; he felt constrained. But he had bet her this ridiculous bet that he could wear a pair of all white, cotton socks for a day. After about an hour, he was uncomfortable and fidgety. After three hours, he was itchy and inhibited. After five hours, he was in mental agony. To the contrary, Elizabeth seemed quite comfortable with her end of the bet – no socks – all this the outcome of a heated and silly debate about wardrobe choices. The two of them seemed to engage in them more and more as time passed. By hour six, pink nail polish seemed a small price to pay for freedom of feet. He acquiesced; she won — again, and here he sat feeling quite silly while she applied a top coat. It was embarrassing. Not that anybody would know, but he would know and she would know. And that was enough. He wanted to win so she’d have to go bra-less for a day. Where he’d come up with that end of the bet, he was all too aware. Even with her bra on, her nipples sometimes stood at attention underneath those form-fitting tops she liked to wear. Soft, sensual out of reach. He had night dreams about that woman – frustration and lust – vying for his attention. To go through a whole day with her bra-less would be the realization of a lust-driven fantasy. Instead, here he sat getting his toes painted. “Lizabeth.” he put on his best charming, little-boy whine. “Don’t you want to lose next time?” Elizabeth Weir looked up from her labors and rewarded him with a withering stare. “And wind up walking around half-naked?” “I had to make it challenging. You love your bras?” “Most women do.” “Well, I let you paint my nails pink.” “So?” “Reciprocation might be nice every so often.” Her green-eyed gaze had a slightly bemused edge to it but she didn’t reply, just went back to applying the top coat. “Well?” “Well, what?” “Can’t you lose next time?” “Why do you want me to walk about with no bra?” Well, isn’t that obvious? He thought exasperated, Why in the hell do you think a man wants to see a woman without portions of her essential wardrobe in place? “I just want to see you make it through a day less than 100% put together.” “And?” she prompted. He decided to take a chance. “I like the way your nipples look when they stand at attention and rubbing against a blouse will make them do that.” Elizabeth Weir stopped applying the topcoat but didn’t look up. Silence. Crickets. Silence. He had blown it. He had just tipped their delicate friendship into the realm of something more and she wasn’t ready. Crickets. She replaced the lid on the polish, reached under her shirt and undid her bra, fumbled for a moment then pulled each arm through the sleeve of her shirt, careful to maintain her modesty while relieving herself of the prized, lacy white undergarment. She threw it on his head and opened the nail polish. “Satisfied?” He was speechless. She was certainly full of surprises. He resisted the urge to pull her into an embrace and relieve her of the rest of her clothing. He was, after all, just this side a gentlemen. Easy Sheppard. Besides his nail polish would get mushed in the melee. Then she’d need to reapply it, and he definitely didn’t want to go through that again.