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Amber from Marketing, The Shallows
The bubbly blonde from marketing is back.
This installment of Dani and Amber’s adventures includes a reference to the song Shallow by Lady Gaga. Quoting song lyrics in fiction is not covered under fair use laws, so the lyrics presented here are deliberately mixed up in order to keep me out of trouble. If you want to cue up the song and sing the correct lyrics, be my guest.
Like most of Amber and Dani’s tales, it’s a short slice of life with the emphasis on story, not on sex. In fact, there is no sex in this one. So for a quick ‘wham bam, thank you ma’am’, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
The stories leading up to this one are:
Amber From Marketing: Free Gravy
Amber From Marketing: Social Justice Warrior
Amber From Marketing: Exotic Dancer
Amber From Marketing: Domestic Nirvana
I sat by the glow of my laptop, listening to the rain pounding at my window, accelerated by little gusts of wind now and then. Scrolling through the company phone directory, I wondered if I should do what I was planning to do—call her in sick.
Behind me was an Amber shaped bump, curled into the letter C under the bed covers. A C cédille, with her legs making the little squiggly, descending diacritical mark. Huh, and here I thought I’d never use anything from high school French class.
Only the messy pile of blonde bedhead poking up let me know for sure it was my girlfriend. It was the same place she had been all day—maybe she got up once to use the bathroom—and that was what steeled my resolve to finally make the call.
I clicked on the link for Marketing.
The clock in the corner of my PC’s screen showed eight p.m. Sunday night, so I knew no one would pick up. I’m such a chicken sometimes.
“Hi, Lynn? In marketing?” Of course it was. That’s what the voicemail greeting said. That’s the name I got when I clicked on Department Lead in the company directory.
“I don’t think we’ve met. My name is Dani. I work in I.T. But, I’m, uh… I’m calling for Amber. She’s not feeling well… It’s not COVID or anything like that, so don’t worry. It’s just… well, she’s not herself and needs some time to recuperate.”
How long? I have no idea. I’ve never done this before.
“I, uh, didn’t want you to worry when you don’t see her online tomorrow morning. So, uh, thanks. Goodbye.”
I hung up the phone and blew out a long sigh. Done.
Behind me the Amber shape stirred.
“Play the song again, Dani?”
“Lady Gaga?” I said.
I didn’t get an answer. It didn’t matter, it was a rhetorical question by now. It had been the same song the past seven times, so I had no reason to suspect it would change.
I clicked play.
From my Bluetooth speakers, once again came the bright and mellow sounds of an acoustic guitar, followed by the soulful voice of Bradley Cooper. I hummed along, in spite of myself.
Several bars later, from under the covers came the strains of Amber joining in with Lady Gaga. “Dive in the deep end, where they can’t hurt us. My feet never touch the ground,” she sang.
Eighth time through and the girl still can’t get the lyrics right.
“In the sha—aa—aa—aa…” And then, like before, Amber paused, choked up, and sniffled. “…low.”
No more words came from under the bed covers, but the C-shaped outline of Amber’s body began to quiver. Just like last time.
I moved to the edge of the bed and sat down to face her. With my left hand I searched around the pillow until my fingers touched the blonde mop—the only proof my girlfriend was still here now that the singing had paused.
“I’ve got you, baby.”
“Sniff. I like it when you call me baby.” The Amber shape under my covers stopped shuddering for a moment. “Crash through the deep end, where they can’t find us. Sniff. In the sha—aa—aa—aa… sniff.”
“Oh, baby.” I walked around to the other side and crawled up onto the bed with her. She was under the covers and I was on top. I wrapped around her as best I could.
“…low,” canlı bahis şirketleri she croaked.
“I’ve got you.”
Did I? Or was I just saying that to make her feel better? Make myself feel better? Like I actually knew what the hell I was doing?
“I love you, Dani.”
Those four words convinced me. It didn’t matter if I was out of my depth. Lying on top of my bed, with my arm over Amber’s quivering form, I whispered, “I’ve got you, baby.”
“Play it again?”
Rather than get up, I decided to sing Bradley Cooper’s part. And then join in with Amber and Lady Gaga. I’d certainly heard it enough times.
Amber didn’t seem to mind. She sang the chorus with her usual flair.
“In the sha—aa—aa—aa… sniff.”
I wrapped myself around her quivering form, closed my eyes and listened to the rain tapping on the window glass.
* * *
I woke up at two in the morning. That kind of thing happens when you fall asleep in your clothes on top of the covers. My laptop was in screen saver mode, happily displaying stock photos with inspirational sayings about the importance of teamwork, intermingled with the six pillars of company mission and values.
I wondered briefly if Amber might have had a hand in choosing the photos or writing those pithy bits of corporate propaganda. But, I bumped the mouse while I was shimmying out of my jeans to put on more comfortable flannel pants, and that thought went away along with the screen saver slide show.
Staring me in the face was a new email notification. It was from Lynn in Marketing. Who the hell checks their voicemail after eight on a Sunday evening? Lynn, head of Marketing, that’s who.
I opened the email.
Thank you for letting me know about Amber. I trust you will take good care of her in her time of need.
Please tell her that all of us in the department will miss her smiling face on our Zoom calls. And, we look forward to her return.
I closed the lid on my laptop.
Behind me Amber stirred.
“Play the song again, Dani?”
“I think I just outted us to your boss. It won’t take much to put two and two together and—”
“‘S okay, Dani. They know. Play the song again.”
I played it. Ninth time in twenty-four hours.
I crawled back in bed with Amber—under the covers this time—and held her through the choking sobs as she sang the chorus. And when the song was over, and the shaking stopped, I lay there thinking about what Amber said. “They know.”
They know what? They know we’re a couple? They know Amber’s gay? They know about Amber’s bipolar episodes?
So many questions filled my mind as I closed my eyes for the second time that night and fell asleep to the tapping of the rain and the steady breathing of my sleeping girlfriend.
* * *
The subconscious mind is an amazing analytical tool—so much better than any computer algorithm could ever hope to be. I went to sleep last night thinking about what Amber’s co-workers might know about her or about us. What I should have been thinking of was the latter half of Lynn’s email. “We miss her smiling face.”
Fortunately, my subconscious caught what was patently obvious to her coworkers. I’m not the only one who loves Amber. Everybody loves Amber. Amber is a beautiful human being and she deserves to hear her praises shouted from the rooftops. Or at least shouted virtually over email, in light of the current restrictions on large gatherings.
Monday was a normal work from home day for me, but, in addition to my regular workload, I now had a side project—a very important side project. It started with another email to Lynn.
Dani again. I was wondering if I could ask a favor. Would you mind asking Amber’s co-workers if they would send a short email message to her and cc: me on it? I think it might help lift her spirits.
The response was amazing and incredibly creative. I should have figured as much with a bunch of people from marketing and public relations. Instead of simple words of encouragement, I got selfies with handwritten signs, some with Amber’s canlı kaçak iddaa name surrounded by hearts, some of her coworkers sent short video clips telling Amber they missed her.
I didn’t wake Amber to show her. I let her sleep as I wrote my next email to the director of the county animal shelter. Once that was sent off, I composed one to the co-chair of our local high-school’s Pride Prom. I figured even though the event got canceled, Amber had worked with the kids pretty extensively leading up to it.
My last email didn’t get sent right away. It was addressed to the owner of the Pussy Cat Club—the place that organized the strip-o-grams for donations program that Amber so cheerfully volunteered for.
I hashed that one over in my mind while I stood on a chair and filled the four holes in my ceiling where a stripper pole once stood. I contemplated the kind of responses I might get from a bunch of horny lesbians with deep pockets.
After waking Amber for some soup and her medication—and two more run throughs of Amber butchering the hell out of Lady Gaga—I worked up the nerve and clicked send for the Pussy Cat Club. I used a burner email address.
And after Amber disappeared back under the covers, I searched for song lyrics and printed them out.
* * *
Two days later, my Amber bear came out of hibernation. I knew this, because just like a waking grizzly, she was noisily scrounging for berries in my kitchen.
“Dani, are there any more blueberry muffins?” Amber stood, practically swimming in my bathrobe, scanning the kitchen counter.
“Sorry, baby,” I said. “I ate the last one yesterday. I hope you’re not hangry.”
Amber sighed, completely refusing to take the bait on my ‘hangry’ joke.
“I can make you an omelet. I also have granola.”
“Granola.” Amber plopped down at the table, resting her elbows on the table and her chin in her hands. “I need a shower.”
And I need a spare bathrobe, since you’ve suddenly decided to latch onto mine. But she looked so adorable all bundled up in fluffy, white terrycloth. I was grinning as I brought her a bowl of cereal and some juice. I wanted to pet her and say, “soft, Amber,” but at the last moment, I found my restraint.
“Don’t forget your medication, baby.”
Amber pulled a plastic bottle from the pocket of my robe and shook out a pill to set next to her juice glass.
“Need any help in the shower?”
“I’ll be fine.”
“I meant that sincerely. Not like I was… Just so you know.”
“I know.” Amber’s lips straightened out. Not quite a smile, but an improvement over the last few days.
* * *
While Amber made her best attempt at draining my hot water tank, and another several not so great attempts at Lady Gaga—but, at least without the sobbing this time—I sat down to check my email. I opened the email from the animal shelter and almost burst out laughing.
Some clever soul had posed the dogs and cats with one of four signs that said, “We,” “miss,” “you,” and “Amber.” They then sequenced the entire thing in a video set to the music of Beethoven’s 5th symphony, at least the part everyone knows.
Ba-ba-ba-bum. We-miss-you-Amber. Ba-ba-ba-bum.
I laughed so hard I think I snorted twice. I’m surprised Amber didn’t hear me. But then, she was still busy butchering lyrics at the top of her lungs.
The emails to my burner account from the clientele of the Pussy Cat Cub were unsurprising in their content. “We love you, Amber,” written across a woman’s bare breasts.
Another showed just a bare ass with a butt plug tail laid across a stocking clad thigh. On the bare ass was a note with Amber’s name and a heart. Cute. Wait! Is that a thumb tack holding the note in place? Ouch!
The next one was a little more tame, but not by much. “We love you, Amber,” on a strategically placed sheet of paper held by three women, all topless as far as I could see. The photo cropped out their faces, and the woman in the middle had boobs that rivaled Amber’s. Though I suspect the woman in the photo might have had a little help. They seemed unnaturally buoyant.
Just as I was about to canlı kaçak bahis close my laptop, a new email alert chimed. It was from the Pride Prom kids, and it was a video. I clicked play and watched while listening for the telltale sounds of the shower shutting off.
The scene started off with a young woman in a long-tailed white tux and ruffled shirt. She had the collar popped and an acoustic guitar slung over her shoulder. Her asymmetrical haircut completed the look. She appeared to be standing in her bedroom facing a web cam.
When she plucked out the first few notes, my jaw dropped. It was the intro to the same song Amber had insisted I play over and over these past several days. The young woman with the guitar sang the first four lines and then was joined by a young man on a separate video feed, also dressed to the nines in a black tux, singing the rest in harmony.
But the best was yet to come. A young cross-dressing diva appeared in a third frame, with hair piled high enough to make Amy Winehouse green with envy, and started in on Lady Gaga’s part.
I was all so perfect, I was grinning like a fool when I heard the shower turn off. I quickly closed the lid on my laptop. I know I didn’t mention the song in my email. Did these kids read minds? Did they learn that trick from Amber? How did they know?
I tried my best to keep a straight face when Amber walked in, toweling her hair and looking especially tempting in my bathrobe. Even chewing on my lip didn’t help, and I burst into a grin.
“What’s so funny, Dani?”
“Come here, baby.” I patted my thigh. “You have to see this.”
I squeezed the terrycloth bundle of my girlfriend to me and planted a kiss on the back of her neck. I opened the laptop.
“Behold,” I said and began showing her the email antics of her co-workers.
“Is that my name in pink glitter?” Amber said.
“I think so.”
“Wait, there’s more.”
“Oh my God,” Amber gasped, “the kitties are singing my name. That’s so cute.”
“Prepare yourself for the next few. It gets a little racy.”
“Oh my… is that a thumb tack?”
“I think so.”
“Ooo, nice rack!”
“What? The one in the middle’s got fabulous boobs.”
“Wait ’til you see this.” I scrolled until I found the email from the Pride Prom kids.
Amber stared at the screen, not saying a word. Together we watched the intro with the solo guitar player dressed in her prom formal wear. I think Amber smiled a little when the diva started in on Lady Gaga’s part. And when the video changed to show sixteen separate feeds, edited together, all with kids singing their hearts out on the chorus, Amber put her hands together and clapped.
By the time the video finished up with each of the kids holding up a hand-painted paper with one of the letters forming, “We Love You Amber!” and a big heart, tears were streaming down Amber’s face.
She turned around and buried her face in my shoulder. “It’s perfect,” she said. “Absolutely perfect.”
I held Amber to my chest for a long time, with neither of us saying a word. Finally, I said what I had learned from the past several days.
“Everybody loves you, Amber. You’ve got a big heart and you’ve touched a lot of people. Me included.”
I heard sniffles rising up from the lush folds of terrycloth enveloping Amber, and when she looked up at me her eyes were rimmed in red.
She puckered up and pecked me on the lips. “You’re so sweet,” she said, and laid her head back down.
“I printed out the lyrics for you.” I slid the folded piece of paper over to where she could reach it. “In case you want to know what they really—”
Amber gave me a side eye glare that cut me off instantly. Then she burst into a grin. “Thanks for putting up with me.”
“When you love someone, it’s not putting up with them, it’s called standing by them.”
“Play the song one more time? Please?”
I picked up the lyrics sheet and shoved it in her hands. “Sing it right this, time or I swear…”
Amber just grinned.
I clicked play.
This might be the last Amber and Dani story for a while. I think they’re in a good place right now and deserve a little alone time. Probably snuggling on the couch, watching Netflix.
They do love to read your comments, though.
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