SEXT(7)

By: Penny Wylder


I try to force him out. Try to focus on the guys scrolling past on my screen instead. But staring at boring finance bro after boring finance bro gets old. They all have the same photos on their profiles, I swear. Shirtless pic to display their no doubt carefully gym-cultivated abs, another pic of them drinking beer with their bros to prove they have friends, one carefully cropped photo with their arm around someone not in the image, to prove that they’ve dated chicks before (or at least known them long enough to trick them into taking a photo together), and one definitely posed headshot that shows off their cheekbones at the best possible angle. The latter may or may not be heavily edited—it varies by dude.

None of them add much detail to their profiles beyond that. They’re all full of one-line quotes, usually from action movies. That, or witticisms such as “I’m the one you’ve been looking for.” Very convincing.

I swipe left through at least a dozen profiles, and I’m debating giving up and just rolling back over to try and sleep when a different image pops up. Unlike most of the other guys, this photo appears to be a candid one, un-posed. He’s looking past the photographer, at something in the background. He’s standing on a street corner I recognize, just a few blocks away, outside my favorite deli. He probably took this on a lunch run, or maybe before his shift started.

I can guess, because I know the guy.

It’s Zayne.

I tap open his profile. There are only three photos. The first one, the candid, shows off his cheekbones at just the right angle, not to mention really accentuates his sharp blue eyes catching the Manhattan sunlight so they seem to glow in the photo. Then there’s another picture of him indoors—his apartment maybe? I spot a cozy-looking striped blanket and a cat curled up on his lap, though he’s not posing with it, just kind of reclining and letting the cat chill there. This one isn’t a candid—he’s smiling at whoever’s taking it. The effect is that it looks like he’s gazing straight out of my phone at me. I feel two things simultaneously—a red-hot fire in the pit of my belly and an equally strong and startling sensation of jealousy. Whoever took this photo, I hate them. For no other reason than that Zayne was smiling at them like that.

Damn.

Calm down, Clove, I scold myself.

The third photo is at a beach somewhere. There’s a few guys in the photo, but unlike most dudes’ profiles, I can pick Zayne out immediately. He stands out like that, impossible to look away from. He’s in the middle of a volleyball game, mid-jump in fact, and goddamn, does it make his body stand out. He’s in swimming trunks of course, and it highlights perfectly the washboard cut of his abs, straight down to the muscular V pointing down to his groin.

I swallow hard and find myself wishing that my phone had a higher resolution display. I’d like to zoom in on this photo, see exactly where that V is pointing, if you can see the outline of him through those trunks…

I shake myself. Tap back on his profile page.

“The only people for me are the mad ones.”

I grin. Okay, sure, maybe an On the Road quote is a little bit cliché, but there’s something almost adorable about it here.

Plus, he reads. That’s a bonus.

And, I have to laugh at his username. AtYourService. Fitting for a doorman.

I hesitate, finger hovering over the screen. I remember the stern talking-to I gave myself in the lobby earlier tonight. This is a bad idea.

But I rarely ever listen to myself. Especially not when confronted with a guy like Zayne. So I slide my thumb right, and hit yes on him.

My phone buzzes almost immediately.

You have a new match!

He already swiped right on me too.

I lick my lips. Open the chat window that’s popped up. My fingers hover over the keys. What do I say? Thanks again for saving my ass tonight? You look better without the uniform?

Then again, he looks pretty damn good in the uniform, too.

My phone buzzes once more. Looks like he spared me the trouble of figuring out an opening line.

Trouble sleeping? his message reads.

I glance at my bedside clock and my eyes widen. Shit. It’s almost 1am already. When did that happen?

I peer back at the app.

CallMeClove: Eventful night. I’m finding it pretty hard to doze off now, yeah.

AtYourService: Me too. I keep thinking about this beautiful woman who I had to save from a raving madman.

CallMeClove: Sounds exciting. What happened next, did you sweep her off her feet?

AtYourService: Believe me, I wanted to. Sadly, I think she only sees me as an employee. Bodyguard, maybe.

CallMeClove: I find that hard to believe. You seem like you have a lot more than just one side to you, under that uniform.

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