Chapter X: Suzanna Horne

Suzanna was having a rough day. Her usual load of manifests and sorting out scheduling conflicts was tiring her more than usual. She blamed it on the home-brew drinking party she attended with some of the men around cabin 118 the night before.
She dutifully worked through her to-do list, calling and emailing people resolving conflicts, answering questions and occasionally processing payments. She promised herself a nice hot cocoa in her cabin instead of joining the gang down at the dining facility.

Time dragged on but eventually she overcame her 10 hour day. Closing and locking the Welcome Center door behind her, she trudged *(Suzanna never trudged) back to her cabin.

She stopped at her storm door and looked at it. Spacenix policy was that when a tenant reached six-month marks they would select an upgrade option. Her first was insulation and drywall for the interior, usually everybody’s first choice. But her eyes finally settled on the dark gray stucco. She reached out her hand and gently felt the texture of it and was struck with the aesthetic perfection of it.

Floyd had shared with her one time how he had achieved the perfect color for the cabins. He found a plastering supplier with a lower-end product that he tested with some commercially available pigments but it wasn’t until he added powdered charcoal, usually used in some of this rocket motor experiments that he achieved the classy effect she was admiring now.

What a clever, clever man he is, she thought to herself. She slipped her house key into the front door and entered.

Reaching around for the light switch, she forced her brain to remember how to make hot cocoa. The light s on she went to her hot plate and put on a pot of water. Rubbing her arms, she walked over to the propane heater and pushed the started button until its ceramic element turned a life-giving orange. She let out a long, exhausted sigh and sat on the corner of her bed.

“Oh, that Fran!” she angrily muttered to herself.

Fran with her shock of red hair was a complete menace today. Usually she would only comer around the Center when necessary but today she hovered over Suzanna like a manic bee. The woman had a sixth-sense for relationships and apparently for relationship problems.

Her and Kent had been fighting over the phone for a few weeks now, not really deciding on anything. He was prepping for exams so stuck down in Tempe and her workload prevented her from going down there herself. It had been quite sometime since they had made love.

A wave of hot anger shot through her when she remembered what Fran had said to her today. It wasn’t at all funny. Fran must have sensed how closely her and Floyd were working together lately and maybe even sensed a developing problem in Suzanna’s mind concerning her boss.

It started slowly at first, and upon reflection realized she always had felt it, it just never bothered her before. But she was getting irrationally jealous. Floyd was between relationships right now, and she did know that he had sex every once in a great while but her little crush was becoming problematic.

Fran, not just bending the rules but breaking them, had leaned over her and half-whispered “Suzanna, I really don’t like what you are doing with my Floyd. He’s my boyfriend and you should be ashamed of what you are doing to Kent.”

Suzanna felt a wave of desire between her thighs but quickly clamped them together. Her eyes flashed looking Fran deep in the eyes. She then noticed what Fran was wearing: her black leather miniskirt. She only wore that when she was on a mission, usually to find the most sensitive guy she could and wrap him around her little finger. Fran stared back with a wicked, triumphant grin. Her red hair wasn’t lying with its warning that she could be more than most people could take occasionally.

She had the overwhelming urge to talk dirty back at her friend but refused to give her the satisfaction. Suzanna had ejected three people just today from their programs for breaking the “No fraternization” rule while in simulation, so she cooled down and gritted her teeth.

Back in her cabin though, ever time she thought of Fran’s indiscretion, it made the desire whell up in her chest.

“My Floyd,” she parodied Fran, “my boyfriend…what a load of BS.” Her cheeks were flushed but not by embarrassment for being caught but something else.

She quickly took the pot of water, now boiling, and tossed its contents out the front door. She reached behind her bed for a present she had recently acquired for their beloved boss: a fifth of Jack Daniels.

She wondered what such a complex man was drinking whiskey for. You would think Cognac or something more sophisticated, but each to his own. She twisted the cap, fetched a shot glass from her lilliputian cupboards and poured herself a double.

“My Floyd,” she muttered to herself shipping the soothing brown liquid. Pondering, she figured out what Fran was driving at: she had been monopolizing the CEO’s attention probably taking away from Fran’s time with him. Was she the only one who felt that warm quiet feeling when he was trying to explain something important to them. It was obvious Fran’s real concern: Back off, Blondie! We have to share.

She took another sip and looked in her full-length mirror. Still as gorgeous as she ever was but had the creeping suspicion that a cheater was looking aback at her. She downed the remainder of the whiskey in a single gulp.

“Touche, Fran, touche.”