Appraising Love
by Dante Davidson

      I have to admit it—and I hope this doesn’t make me sound like a cad—but those legs were what caught my attention first. In all my years of searching, I’d never seen perfection like that. Delicately curved, almost achingly arched, they surpassed my wildest fantasies. I could imagine running my fingers up and around their smooth, supple surface for hours, getting down on my hands and knees to worship them. I’ve always been something of a leg man.

Slowly, I moved closer, feigning interest in the stature of several other, less lovely creations nearby. With extra effort, I maneuvered myself through the crowd, and when I was close enough, I reached out my hand, wanting just one touch....

“Hey!” a female voice said, sounding surprised. “What are you doing?”

“It’s a—,” I lowered my voice as I named the maker. “Isn’t it?”

The owner raised her painted-on eyebrows, giving me a quizzical stare which I processed before returning my gaze to my newfound love. “How could you know that without checking the label?” she asked.

I didn’t look at her while I answered. My eyes were still captivated by her table, those flawless legs, that haughty, aristocratic stance. The color was a rich, unmarred caramel that had obviously been untouched since it left the original creator’s hands. Often, at such appraisal road shows, we see once-beautiful objects, now destroyed by an owner’s idiotic—if well-intentioned—attempts at refinishing. Never mess with perfection.

Just to be entirely sure that the treasure was indeed as priceless as I thought, I got on my knees and crawled under the table. My heart pounded even faster as I read that golden label beneath the rim. There, in unblemished perfection, were the artisan’s engraved initials. I smiled broadly when I saw them.

“Are you okay?” the owner asked. I had forgotten all about her until she bent down to peer at me under the table. Thinking back, I must have looked fairly ridiculous, dressed impeccably in my gray suit and navy blue tie, lying on the ground grinning up at the wood. The workmanship was remarkable, and I couldn’t help but stroke the firm underside with the palms of my hands. If furniture could make a noise, this table would have purred.

“I’m fine,” I said weakly, breaking free of my daze and looking at the owner’s face. For the first time, I really noticed her. I took in her bright blue eyes and even brighter blue eye shadow. “I’m Jonathan Silver, appraiser for Winston-Logan.”

Her attitude changed instantly, from “hands-off” to “help yourself.”

“You work here,” she said, indicating the breadth of the show with a sweeping glance. As I climbed out from under the table, I continued my brief observation of her face. She had two perfectly round circles of rouge on her cheeks making her appear as if she’d been playing dress up with her mother’s cosmetics. Her lips sported an orange-coral shade not often found in nature. Once an appraiser, always an appraiser. It can be difficult to turn off the critical voice in my head.

“My name’s Lucy,” she said, offering me a hand, the nails of which were long and polished a vibrant, glistening green, like the underbelly scales of a tropical snake. When I let go of her hand, she ran it through her platinum teased hair, raising the height another inch or so with the gesture. What a woman like her was doing with a table like this, I could not imagine. But it’s my job to judge furniture, not people, and I plastered a false smile on my face and turned on my professional charm.

“Will you go on air with it?” I asked.

Lucy gave an excited, high-pitched squeal, like a contestant on a game show. The noise was loud enough for our producer to hear, and when Corrine met my eyes from across the room, I nodded to indicate I had a winner. Oh, did I have a winner. Corrine rushed over and I whispered into her ear what I’d found.

“Are you sure, Jonathan?” Corrine asked incredulously, inspecting Lucy’s attire, which did not exactly fit the normal type of clothes we see at the road show. Most people arrive in jeans and t-shirts, shorts if it’s a hot day. The table’s owner was wearing a revealing pink floral sundress loosely laced up the front. Part of my brain quickly categorized it as “cheap,” and possibly “slutty.” But another part of my brain — the one attached to a lower segment of my anatomy — understood how someone might find a dress like that appealing. The laces had come slightly undone in the front, and for some reason I envisioned myself taking a step closer and tying the bow for Lucy, my fingers brushing the skin of her supple breasts, touching her just as gently as only moments before I’d stroked the leg of her table.

At that thought, I found myself looking down at Lucy’s own legs. Clad in white fishnet stockings and high-heeled sandals, they were a work of art unto themselves. What would they feel like beneath the palm of my hand, I wondered. And what kind of noise would Lucy make if my fingertips grazed her skin? The same shocked “Hey!” that she’d shrieked when I touched her table? Somehow, from the looks she was giving me in return, I didn’t think so.

My producer nudged me and I shook my head, embarrassed, not having heard a word Corrine had said. But Lucy, standing a few feet away, shot me another interested smile, as if she understood exactly what my appraising glances meant.

It all happened quickly after that. Our producer whisked Lucy away to sign some papers and I consulted several other appraisers to get their opinion of the piece’s value. My mind instantly and easily refocused on my work. A table in less quality condition had recently sold for a quarter of a million dollars at auction. I could barely contain myself imagining what this item might bring.

When we found ourselves seated in front of the camera, I turned my eyes from the table to Lucy, preparing to launch into the background history of the furniture maker. I am quite adept at my job, my mind filled with little-known facts, but when I looked at Lucy again, I forgot everything that I’d planned on saying. The make-up crew, in their haste, had removed her garish eye shadow and electrifying lipstick, but had not bothered to replace either. I was staring at a restored canvas, the beauty of her face shining clear now that it was free from the previous hideous coat of shellacking.

“Your beautiful—” I stammered, and then stopped. I’d been about to say, “Your beautiful table,” but suddenly that wasn’t what I meant at all. Change the ‘your’ to ‘you’re,’ is what I wanted to tell Lucy. “You’re beautiful—” I said again, referring to her this time.

“My table,” she said, prompting me when she realized I was tongue-tied. She gave me that same quizzical glance she had earlier, her eyes a softer blue now that they didn’t have to compete with the seventies-style shadow. Her cheeks had a natural flush to them, and I wondered what hue they would turn in the throws of passion. If I picked her up and set her down on the table, slid that flimsy dress up her thighs, and bent to kiss in a line down her throat to those loose laces, would her cheeks turn a dark, scarlet blush? Or was she the type whose skin would take on a petal pink glow? I longed to find out, but I could suddenly feel my producer’s eyes on me.

“My table” Lucy repeated, waiting.

“Yes,” I said, nodding. “Your table is a masterpiece.” I put my hand on the top of the surface for reassurance, and the wash of joy swept over me again. I found my words, launching into a history of this fantastic piece of furniture. I told of the maker’s background, then described how each table was made by hand, focusing on the length of time it took to create just one leg.

“One of the most interesting aspects of this table,” I said, near the end of my spiel, “is that although it appears quite delicate, it is remarkably sturdy.”

“Really?” Lucy asked, shooting me a look that sent my mind spinning off into fantasy land all over again. “Sometimes delicate items can fool you.”

At that comment, I tried desperately to reboard my train of thought, but failed. She looked delicate, yet I had the feeling that she would last through hours of raucous lovemaking. Was that the hidden message she was trying to tell me? Suddenly, I felt something brush softly against my own leg. It took only a second for me to process that Lucy had slipped out of one high-heeled sandals and was running her stockinged toes up my calf.

I managed to complete my talk, to give her an estimate of the table’s worth, but somehow those numbers didn’t interest me anymore. The director yelled “cut,” and the crew quickly moved across the room to film a segment on wind-up toys. Lucy and I were alone, between the makeshift curtained barriers, still sitting at the table looking at each other.

“You mentioned that it was surprisingly sturdy,” Lucy said in a low voice. I watched as she ran her tongue along her top lip, as if she were tasting something sweet. The gesture tugged at me, and I wanted to lean forward and do the same thing to her, run my own tongue along both of her lips before taking her in my arms and kissing her. I took a deep breath, trying to analyze what she had just said.

“Yes,” I nodded, “these tables have undergone stress tests. While some pieces are more for show than actual use, your table could easily support five hundred pounds.”

“Wow,” Lucy said, her mouth, pure and naked of lipstick, curving into a smile. “That’s a lot of weight—three or four adults—when all it has to support is two.”

This was all the encouragement I needed. Quickly, I motioned to a crew member and asked him to help me put the table into one of our back storage rooms. “I need a little more time to appraise it,” I said, using my most business-like tone. The man didn’t concern himself with the explanation. Without hesitating, he and I hoisted the table together and brought it to one of the private rooms. Lucy followed, staring at me with what I can only describe as lustfully energetic looks.

Finally alone, I shut the door and lifted Lucy into my arms. I nuzzled into her neck as I carried her over to the table. She smelled delicious, spicy and exotic, and I sat her down on the edge of the table and began to kiss her skin. Lucy sighed, then leaned back fully onto the table, spreading her thighs and raising her arms over her head.

I didn’t know where to start first. I wanted to keep kissing her, but I also wanted to peel off her dress and simply look at her body. As when I’m appraising a piece of furniture, I needed to know what I was working with. Lucy took over for me, slipping the dress over her head and then sprawling out in her white satin bra and panties, white fishnets, garter belt, and sandals still on.

The room we were in contained several other pieces of furniture, including a full-length, gilt-edged mirror. I hurried to position it against the wall next to the table, and then grabbed Lucy around the waist and slid her toward me. I kissed her in a line down her body, starting with her lips and then moving to the hollow of her neck, her delicate collarbones, down to her breasts—where I lingered until she arched her back and moaned. Slowly, I kissed my way toward her satin-clad pussy, and when I reached it, I could smell the scent of her arousal.

I licked her through her panties first, just teasing her with my tongue pressed hard against that shiny material. Then I helped her out of the undergarment and began to French kiss her pussy, using my fingers to hold open her lips while my tongue made soft and slow circles around her clit.

After a moment, I looked into the mirror to see Lucy’s face. Her head was turned to the side, mouth open and eyes shut. Her hair had come free from the ponytail and it fell loose to her shoulders. Now, brushed flat instead of teased, it perfectly framed her beautiful face. A face which I suddenly recognized—

“Oh, God,” I said.

“Yes,” Lucy sighed, “Oh, God, it’s great.”

“No,” I stood looking down at her. “I know you.”

She opened her eyes and locked onto my gaze. “Yes,” she said, “I’m Lucy. We met out there.” Her cheeks were flushed with pleasure, a soft pink as I’d imagined they would be, but her face was composed. She looked a lot more at ease than I felt, my cock throbbing beneath my slacks, desperate for contact with the warm, wet mouth of her sex. Still, I had to get something clear.

“You’re not some—” I wanted to say ‘hick,’ but changed my mind quickly, “some innocent who just brought a table to be appraised,” I said, watching as she pushed herself into a semi-upright position on the table, leaning up on one elbow. With her free hand, she began to stroke her naked pussy, slowly and sensuously teasing herself while I watched. She seemed to be waiting to see when I’d get it, and finally, when she tilted her head back as the sensations washed over her, I knew precisely who she was. I’d seen the look on her face before, at a recent auction in New York. Upon winning the piece she was after, she leaned her head back and sighed, the same look of ultimate pleasure on her face.

“You’re Lucinda Daniels,” I said, undoing my slacks now, unable to wait any longer. “You work for Rowen-McLean.”

She nodded, her hands helping to guide me between her parted thighs. The contact of my cock with the dreamy wetness of her sex made me momentarily lose track of my thoughts. I plunged inside her and she let out that same, pleasurable sigh again, her hand going up to her throat, fingers beating there as if attempting to still her pounding pulse.

I stopped trying to figure it all out at that point, driving in even deeper inside her. The table supported our weight, but I needed to feel her in my grip. Grabbing her around the waist, I lifted her into my arms and then pulled her down on me. Then, inspired, I took her over to the wall and pressed her against that antique mirror. I couldn’t get deep enough inside her, slamming into her willing cunt and then pulling out to the tip, then slamming in again to make her sigh like that. She dragged her fingernails down my back and I had the vision of what they looked like, that obscene emerald green raking against my skin, leaving marks I’d have to remember this by. Suddenly, those nails didn’t seem so offensive. There was something sexy in the whole slutty attire—fishnets still in place, sandal-clad feet hooked around my thighs.

“God, Jonathan, I’m going to come,” Lucy said softly, and I took her to that fantasy place with me, fucking her harder and faster until she leaned down and bit my shoulder as the climax flew through her. I came a second after, pumping my cock inside her as those wave-like contractions washed over it.

There were several moments when I simply held her in my arms, leaning against the mirror, my eyes closed, breathing deeply. Then I carried her back to the wonderful table and set her down. She looked at me with a coy expression I hadn’t seen before.

“It worked, you know,” she said softly.

“I don’t understand,” I told her, watching sadly as she pulled her dress back over her head, that magnificent body disappearing from view.

“You love the creator’s work, and I’m sort of partial to yours,” she explained. “But I’ve never been able to catch your attention at the auctions. You always have your eyes on some piece of furniture or another, never seem aware of the piece of ass that wants you.”

“So you came here—” I prompted.

“Somehow, I thought that you might find my get-up exciting.” When she said it, I realized she was right. I’d seen her often at the auctions, always dressed in some subdued black suit, elegant pearls around her neck, that white-blonde hair pulled back severely, tiny glasses perched on the end of her perfect nose. I never would have guessed she would doll herself up like this, and I couldn’t have suspected that I would have liked it.

“You knew what the table was worth, though,” I said, telling her the one thing that nagged at my pride. “You wanted to fool me.”

She made it all better with her answer.

“I wanted to fuck you,” she said, leaning forward to whisper it, her mouth against my ear, hot breath against my skin. “You were always so busy appraising everything, you never had eyes for me.”

That made me stop thinking about my job and start thinking about what it would be like to make love to Lucy again, maybe on the four-poster bed I had seen in one of the other storage rooms....

“But you have eyes for me now,” she continued, spreading her arms wide and taking the stance of a centerfold model. “So...” her voice was rich with humor. “What do you think I’d fetch?” A pause, and another one of those fantastic, cock-teasing lip licks, “I mean, if you were to put me up on auction.”

Now, I took a step back, looking her over, taking a second before giving her my estimate. “You know how it is with a rare treasure,” I said, pulling her toward me once again. “You can never put a label on something priceless.”