Electric Eyes: Romantic Suspense Short Fiction By Millie Naylor
Millie Naylor is a former journalist, city council member, and graduate of the FBI, DEA, and Houston Police Citizens Academies. She is a contributor to The Big Thrill Magazine.
You know how, when you see someone, your eyes meet, and something sizzles? Like cloud-to-ground lightning, you connect on a visceral level, something so deep, so soul-enriching you never want it to end?
You pass through the open doorway from the parking garage. Ahead, the three-story office building where you have business. An ordinary workday, much like any other, warm weather. You’re glad for the Ray Bans you donned at the last minute as you left your apartment. You’re in a hurry in a pencil skirt and stiletto heels, which is to say, hurried, but not fast.
A man approaches. Thick, black, wavy hair, a broad chest and muscular arms that fill a blue window-pane plaid shirt. Nice.
Your eyes travel upward, past friendly, clean lips you’d enjoy kissing and a strong nose. Your eyes connect.
Not merely nice. Spectacular.
Bottomless azure irises echo off the shirt and blossom into their own, twin wells of hope and possibility you never dared dream. You return the message with a gaze you’ve been told is warm cinnamon.
Enlightenment in one second.
Hell-o. You exchange startled smiles that could only be described as the prelude to passion. You see the feeling is mutual.
You picture dinner dates in tony restaurants, making love under the stars.
You want to stop and throw yourself into those magnificent arms. You picture dinner dates in tony restaurants, making love under the stars. A proposal with moonbeams, flowers and a three-carat diamond. A wedding with six bridesmaids, a glorious honeymoon in an exotic locale. He will bring flowers every night, you’ll dine on gourmet delights, and you’ll live happily ever after in a home straight from Architectural Digest. All this in the space of one fleeting glance.
He keeps walking. You continue on your way, your steps off kilter, as though your center of gravity has shifted.
You must see him again. A few more steps, and your heart speaks: Go back.
You rush into the parking garage the way you came, through the stairwell door, where you’d experienced infinity, and down desolate, yellow-lit steps. No other way to go.
At level P-1, you race breathless into the parking area. Your heels echo on the concrete. The door slams behind you with the clang of finality, and your eyes strain to penetrate the dim interior.
Several hundred vehicles cool in metallic slumber. Engines tick. You remember the constantly late administrative assistant, long since moved on, who bore down on any slow car in front of her and nudged its bumper with hers in a crazed effort to park and clock in on time. She helped you set up your business. For a fleet second you wonder whatever happened to her.
Today, you have more important things on your mind. You pan over the tops of the sedans and pray for laser vision to penetrate the SUVs and pick-ups, eager to see which direction the love of your life may have taken.
You fast-walk up one lane and down the next and hope to avoid the security cams.
At last, you accept the inescapable conclusion. No sign of him.
You nod and give a polite wave to two people you need to see. To save a trip to their floor, you approach them and transact your business, off-camera you’re pretty sure.
Level P-2 seems dimmer. No Mr. Electric Eyes.
Your shoulders droop. You sag against a column. Your feet in those crazy shoes scream. Sit down, idiot.
You don’t want to sit on the oily floor, so you turn toward the stairs once more, step by painful step. If only you could see him again.
You reach for the door.
“Ariane Bartlesby,” a rich baritone says behind you.
You turn. He is there. You want to throw yourself into his arms, only now his eyes seem darker. Azure has deepened to a stormy midnight. You search his face for any reminder of the connection you made upstairs, but his gaze feels menacing. You swallow hard.
Two uniformed officers join him.
“I—I wasn’t doing anything—only looking for someone—a colleague who forgot something,” you lie.
“Ms. Bartlesby, we’ve watched you for days. When I happened upon you upstairs, we weren’t quite ready, but you made it easy for us.”
Your life’s love flashes a badge and clears his throat…
You wrack your brain to remember whether you’ve seen him before today, but come up empty. You glance at the two officers and back at him. “Wh—who are you?”
Your life’s love flashes a badge and clears his throat. “I’m Detective Swift, and these are Officers Mudge and Powell. You are under arrest for industrial espionage. We tracked you in the company’s computer network. We videoed you passing top secret project specs to our undercover officers.”
“But—but—” you say.
The two people you’d talked to a few minutes ago join the three cops. One says, “That’s her. She’s the one that paid us.”
Your dream of romance plummets to the concrete floor and oozes into the cracks.
“You have the right to remain silent,” Swift intones. “Anything you say can and will be used against you.”
You suppose he reads the rest of the Miranda rights, but you don’t hear them. Blood pounds in your ears. An officer—maybe Mudge—cuffs you from behind, and the other, Powell, takes your arm. The detective leads the way to a patrol car parked behind a column. You’d been so intent on searching for Electric Eyes you hadn’t noticed the cruiser. You stagger along in your too-tight skirt and on your too-tight heels until a hand atop your head forces you down—not for the first time—into the car, onto the hard plastic back seat. You grimace.
You’re better than this.
Wait until you’re alone with Mr. Electric Eyes. You’ll sweet-talk him, and he’ll melt, like your other conquests. After all, you did have that connection. You’ll sing, in exchange for immunity and witness protection, and you’ll walk free. You’ll have the ring, the wedding, the house, the whole dream. Just you wait.