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Mrs Wilkins dropped the keys into Jaiden’s hand.
‘Just remember to put any cash into the safe, set the alarm and lock up so I can deal with it in the morning. There’s a good chance I’ll be back before closing time.’
“You won’t be back before closing time,” thought Jaiden. “You say that every year when you go to this convention but then you get there and want to drink all night with the other people from the National Shoe Retailers Association.”
He felt guilty about having these snippy thoughts. Mrs Wilkins was a decent manager and he appreciated that, out of Erick, Norene and himself, he had been chosen to supervise the store for the day. He supposed he felt edgy because he couldn’t wait to get on with it, and by “it” he meant finding the opportunity to tickle a customer.
This was his third summer in a row working at Wilkins’s Good for the Sole. Getting a job between his freshman and sophomore years hadn’t been his favoured idea, but his father informed him that he wouldn’t get away with “couch-slouching” all summer; if he didn’t find a job he’d be doing chores for his great grandma. That was more than enough of an incentive to go job-seeking and it didn’t take much idle thinking for him to fall upon the idea of working in a shoe store. After all, where else could a lad earn money while being so close to what turned him on the most: women’s feet?
He pictured casual chats with ladies from all walks of life who would ask him to assist them by slipping the new shoes on their stockinged or bare feet, at which point he would sneak in a cheeky tickle. He even pictured drawing up a chart in his diary with a tally of how many sexy women he’d tickled each day. Nothing could have motivated him more and he couldn’t believe his luck when he was offered work in a women’s shoe store.
A tall, slim blonde lady walked past them and into the store. Erick immediately stepped into her path and told her to “holler” if she needed any assistance.
“The shop floor is little bigger than a boxing ring,” thought Jaiden, “so why would she *holler*, you clichéd twit?”
‘It will all be fine,’ said Jaiden.
‘Great! Then I’m off to see what fashions the autumn season has in-store!’ said Mrs Wilkins. She beamed at her own semi-pun, and set off.
Another customer entered the store. Jaiden hadn’t even opened his mouth when Erick stepped forward again. ‘Welcome, ma’am. Is there anything I can help you with today?’
Norene was a year younger than Jaiden and a proud emo. Mrs Wilkins didn’t permit her to advertise her preferred style with clothes and make-up whilst at work, so she instead concentrated a her attitude to display it. He joined her behind the counter where she was appreciating her latest gothic manicure. ‘Erick’s on a mission today,’ she said.
‘Same as every other day then,’ said Jaiden, appreciating her ability to notice such things when her attention always appeared to be 99% focussed on herself. ‘I don’t know why — it’s not as if Lady Wilkins is here to be impressed.’
‘Maybe he’s just naturally irritating.’
‘You may be onto something,’ said Jaiden. He watched Erick fawn over the customer; drawing her attention to shoes that were nothing like the style she had asked for.
Erick wasn’t an unpleasant guy but he had the ability to effortlessly ooze smarm. Plus, if there were ever an official Geek Ratings Board, Jaiden was sure that Erick, with his wispy blonde hair and ever-changing constellation of zits would be higher up the scale than himself. They probably drew evens when it came to university majors — Jaiden was studying Applied Mathematics while Erick had chosen Computer Science and the debate over which franchise was superior–Star Wars or the Marvel universe–was a topic that could rage endlessly, with Erick on the side of the Jedi.
However, Jaiden knew he had his own major deficit, which was confidence. For some reason Erick had the guts to go up to anyone and start a conversation, whereas Jaiden only felt comfortable when women were so unappealing to him that they stirred as much erotic feeling as a quadratic equation. That said, those types of women were few-and-far-between because he had the ability to see the sexy side of almost any female between the ages of 18 and 55 and he had an unsurpassed predilection for older women.
He buried himself in work at university because every in-built panic instinct flared up at the thought of approaching a pretty girl. But at work and under the supervision of Mrs Wilkins, it was Good for the Sole policy for customers to be offered assistance by the clerks within 25 seconds of their arrival. The things that made this possible for Jaiden were the memorised script that largely prevented any need for improvisation, plus the tangible goal of selling some shoes. However, the continual sabotage of his sweat glands remained.
His fetish-driven and optimistic mindset of two summers ago assumed that daily interaction with beautiful women and their feet would transform him into an expert bursa eskort salesman and nonchalant Casanova. Instead, Jaiden recognised that the self-imposed pressure of achieving even a single stroke of some beautiful woman’s sensitive sole before the end of his third and final summer at the shoe store just made his nerves more agitated. As he saw it, today was the day because it was the only day he could do something without the boss watching over him.
Erick led his customer to the checkout and processed her purchase. ‘Please do come again!’ he said with a grin that should have been accompanied by a well-slicked combover. He leaned casually onto the counter. ‘See that? One pair of Edelman’s sold before 9:15am! Who could have foreseen that?’
‘They were on sale,’ said Norene.
‘If she didn’t buy them, I would have.’
‘You mean you do wear items of clothing that don’t come in Vantablack?’
Norene raised her dispassionate gaze and looked at Erick for some moments, finally breaking the silence with an abrupt, ‘What?’
‘Remember I need to go half an hour early today,’ Erick said to Jaiden while keeping his eye on the entrance.
‘Right,’ said Jaiden.
‘And remember I need to go an hour early,’ said Norene.
‘What? You both need to go early? On the one day of the year Mrs Wilkins takes off?’
‘You’ll cope,’ said Norene. Her introspection had moved as far as her leather wristband, which she decided was in need of a replacement.
— — — — —
Erick straightened as he detected another customer approach the store — a wealthy-looking woman in a fur coat who seemed to appreciate his immediate offer of assistance.
She was followed by a mother with two young children.
‘Norene…’ said Jaiden.
‘Yeah?’ she replied, as though he was expecting her to do something well outside her purview. He indicated the mother and she begrudgingly made her way out from behind the counter.
A few moments later a third customer entered and Jaiden’s palms instantly began to leak. She was tall, around 35 and wore a plaid suit. She could have been anything from a school teacher to a business executive to a talent scout; but whatever her profession, she looked supremely confident. The gap between her pant leg and slingback heels displayed wonderfully shapely ankles and Jaiden felt a rush of excitement at the thought of seeing them close up. He took a deep breath and joined her at the high heel display.
‘Welcome to Wilkins’s Good for the Sole. Can I help you find what you’re looking for?’
‘Are these the latest Louboutins? They look like last season to me.’
‘Unfortunately no. They should be in stock later today or tomorrow.’
She tutted but her attention remained on one particular pair.
‘These seem to have caught your interest. There aren’t many of them left as there were a limited number to begin with. You’re a size eight?’
‘Yes,’ she said, turning to him with an air of suspicion. She was obviously unimpressed with his sales patois. Still, she took a seat and pulled a clerk’s stool in front of her with her foot — she obviously wanted the full, subservient treatment. Jaiden’s polite smiled quivered as he retreated to the dimly lit store room.
He didn’t blink on the search for the right size and thanked God when he found the last pair of size eights. He took a deep breath to calm himself, flapped his arms to dry the sweat from his pits and turned to discover Norene watching him. He slowed the movement to a stop and strolled past her without saying a word.
Back on the shop floor the woman had her feet up, crossed at the ankles, on the seat of the shoe fitting stool, exposing a hint of arch. She waited until he was right next to her before taking her feet down and giving him the space to sit.
He thanked her as he sat and carefully unpacked the new shoes. Out the corner of his eye he noticed the young boy who had come in with his mother sitting on an adjacent chair and watching him in that way that bratty kids do when they know full-well they are making someone feel self-conscious but have plausible deniability and the wilfully oblivious support of their mother. This was nerve-wracking enough without an audience.
He placed one shoe on the slope, ready for her. She slipped her right foot out of her shoe. To his slight disappointment, she obviously didn’t care for pedicures, but as she lifted her foot forward, he saw a glimpse of her sole and that light powder that sometimes decorates the creases of a mature woman’s foot. Even though it was because her skin was a little dry, he couldn’t help but find it sexy.
She pushed her toes into the shoe and he placed a shoehorn at the heel to help her slide inside. It was a perfect fit. He rapidly concluded that his best opportunity would be to forgo the shoehorn and use his finger to help her other foot into the second shoe.
Erick’s customer left the shop without making a purchase. Soon he would be behind the counter, spectating. Jaiden bursa escort rushed to get out the second shoe and place it down for the woman.
The mother had decided upon a pair of mules and Norene took them to the counter to complete the sale.
Jaiden was flustered. As the woman lifted her left foot he said, ‘Oh, you have something on the bottom of your foot, there…’ and without any pretence he performed a four-finger tickle of her arch. The woman jumped and retracted her foot. He smiled and their eyes met, but instead of the knowing and appreciative smirk he hoped for, she was regarding him with a deep frown. He felt himself redden and held the shoe in place.
She began to slide her foot in with no problem but a flustered brain-fart recalled his original plan and he clumsily wedged his finger straight into the gap between her arch and the inside of the shoe. Her foot completed its journey into the stiletto and trapped him.
‘How’s that?’ he said.
‘It would be better without your finger in it!’ she replied, loudly plugging a gap in any other conversation that was taking place.
Jaiden felt his cheeks flush with heat and he pulled his finger out. The woman stood and got the feel for the shoes. The mother and both children cast an unwavering look of suspicion at Jaiden as they left the store.
‘I’ll take them,’ said the woman. She stood over Jaiden as she slipped them off.
He packed them and, avoiding the risk of meeting any judgement in Erick and Norene’s eyes, fixed his gaze on the cash register as he rang them up. The woman handed over her platinum credit card without saying a word.
A family of four entered the store. Erick made his approach, ready to introduce himself when the woman proclaimed to Jaiden with the projection and clarity of a motivational speaker: ‘You know, it’s like you were trying to touch my feet on purpose just now — like you were trying to tickle me or something? Very odd.’
Jaiden’s intestines somersaulted and a prickly heat made the hairs stand up all over his body.
Having made her crushing announcement, the woman turned and left the store. Erick and the family looked at Jaiden for a moment then began their conversation.
Jaiden didn’t want to know if Norene was watching him. With his mind blank, he simply parroted, ‘Very odd!’ and made for his hiding place for the next 22 minutes: the toilet.
For the first time fantasy clashed with reality in Jaiden’s mind like two drag-racers meeting head-on. It was so glaringly obvious that he didn’t know why it had never occurred to him before. “Idiot! Idiot! Idiot!” he furiously mouthed at himself in the mirror. “What an extremely bright idea!: Commit inappropriate and blatant sexual misconduct upon a customer in front of a roomful of witnesses within half an hour of being placed in charge of a shoe store!” ‘What were you thinking!?’ he inadvertently blurted out loud before rapidly covering his mouth with his hands.
He washed his face with cold water then took some minutes to control his breath and gather his thoughts.
“Fantasies stay in Fantasyland for a reason: there, they can’t get you into trouble. In Fantasyland, I control the environment, how cool I am and how the other person reacts. In real life, none of that is within my control!”
He took a deep breath and blew it out.
“Okay, no more touching strangers without their permission, no matter how much they turn me on; no matter how nice their feet are; and no matter how ticklish they might be!” He recognised his own pang of regret in the mirror at this last category but placed this oath in a gold gilt frame on the most prominent wall of his mind and gave himself no longer to dwell on it by unlocking the restroom door.
“I only hope Erick and Norene don’t make a big thing out of it,” he thought. As he approached the shop floor he heard them bickering behind the counter and was grateful when his appearance didn’t prompt a pause in their conversation.
— — — — —
The rest of the day was busy but uneventful. Mrs Wilkins called once with a gin-tinged slur to her voice and laid the groundwork for not being able to return to the store until the following day. Jaiden didn’t mind; being in charge of the shop kept him busy, which was what he needed right now.
He was going to stand by his new oath, but that didn’t stop the raging desire. He thought that karma must be taking its revenge on him because he had never seen so many sexy women with sexy feet of all shapes and sizes frequent the shop in a single day. His youthful libido was on overdrive and he took to standing behind the counter to process all payments in order to keep himself hidden below the waist. He couldn’t wait for bedtime to arrive so that he could at least relieve himself to the memory of his brief touch of the tall woman’s sole earlier that day.
At one hour and one minute before closing time Norene ducked behind the counter to collect her coat and purse. ‘See you tomorrow, boss,’ bursa escort bayan she said with optimum deadpan sarcasm.
‘Yep. See you,’ said Jaiden. He was pleased that the rush had slowed down and he could stay behind the counter, willing his penis to give him at least five minutes’ respite from feeling so horny that he would have humped the cash register if the shop shutters were down.
For once, he and Erick operated in deft partnership–the salesman and the money-man–and there was zero sense of competition between them. Four customers in a row were greeted by Erick and shown some styles that suited them; Erick then brought them to the counter and insisted that Jaiden displayed his party-trick of guessing their shoe size; they tried the shoes and then bought the shoes from Jaiden as the next customer was greeted by Erick…
In some way, there was an area in the back of Jaiden’s mind that said things were too good to last.
That just made it all the more unexpected when she entered the store…
— — — — —
One moment it was just Jaiden, Erick and the silver-haired woman who sought the world’s greatest oxymoron: “a pair of stylish galoshes”. Then the shoe horn fell from Jaiden’s back pocket. He bent to retrieve it and when he stood up straight there she was, perusing the stiletto shelf.
He felt his lower jaw fall slack. Even though she was standing at an angle where he couldn’t quite see her face, he already knew that she was the sexiest woman to have entered the shop all day — Latina, around 5’3″ with highlighted long, dark hair. She wore a loose white blouse and short skirt. Remembering his vow, Jaiden lifted his chin in noble attempt to avoid the temptation of looking below her knees but, while seemingly in control of his head, his eyes continued their journey down her shapely tanned legs. An anklet glinted in the ceiling lights and he momentarily whimpered at the fact that she had such beautifully sculpted ankles; now he had to see if her feet were just as delicious… but all of a sudden he felt observed. He looked up. She was watching him.
He blushed and closed his mouth so quickly that his teeth clacked. He cursed the fact that he had already filled time that day by tidying the counter because he had nothing with which to occupy himself and so he looked at the clock. It read 5:00pm. He then realised that she had been unattended for well over 25 seconds and slowly met her eye again. She was as attractive as he feared she might be and there was a slight smirk curling one corner of her mouth. If he had to guess, he would have said it was a knowing smirk.
Since her arrival, it was noticeable to anyone who had been in the store beforehand that Erick’s volume had raised a tad and, while he was still talking to Lady Galosh, his attention was glued to the newcomer. Unlike the rest of the day, he discarded his attempts to make a sale using all the tricks in the book. ‘I’m afraid we don’t sell the kind of thing you are looking for. May I suggest the outdoor store a few doors down?’
Lady Galosh left. The newcomer was still looking at Jaiden and he felt himself in her tractor-beam. He emerged from behind the safe space of the counter and forced himself to meet her eye with a shaky polite smile. His eyes then took advantage of a momentary lapse in his willpower and flicked down towards her feet but they were concealed behind a cluster of customer seating. When he met her eye again, the other corner of her mouth had joined the knowing smirk.
‘Can I be of assistance, ma’am?’ Erick announced in his most confident pronouncement of the day, and this time he actually clasped his hands together in front of himself. ‘We have a wonderful array of new deliveries that I think would suit you down to the ground!’
She held Erick’s gaze. He was unwavering in his smile. The pause went on so uncomfortably long that Jaiden and Erick wondered whether she understood English, but her expression was more analytical than puzzled. She ended the silence with a considered, ‘No, thank you. I believe I can get what I need from this young man.’ She indicated Jaiden.
Erick tried to hide his palpable disappointment. ‘As you wish,’ he replied and looked at his watch. ‘Oh, I should be going anyway!’ He collected his coat from behind the counter. ‘See you tomorrow,’ he said to Jaiden, then nodded politely to the woman and left.
She watched him go then turned to Jaiden and gave a quick, satisfied sigh. The silence began to grow again.
‘How can you help– I mean: How I can you… Erm, can I help you?’ said Jaiden, his script evaporating out of his ears.
‘I certainly hope you can,’ she said and made her way to the same chair that the tall woman had sat in that morning. She was wearing a pair of tortoise shell kitten heels with just one strap over the top of her foot and one that crossed the cleavages of her toes. Otherwise, her feet were on full display. Jaiden subconsciously narrowed his stance and squeezed his thighs together in an attempt to ward off his physical arousal.
‘My husband was supposed to come shopping with me but he is a little under-the-weather today and so he is at home in bed. But, he has given me his credit card and told me to buy whatever I like!’
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