It all started at a mining conference.

I was six years out of my Ph.D. in geology, and after six years of dead-end postdoctoral fellowships and contract lab tech jobs and being turned down for every faculty position at every university in my field for which I was qualified for, I had finally given up the dream of being a tenured professor. Sure, I knew the odds going in were against it, but I loved research, and I kept following every path I could find in search of a key to the ivory tower without success. Finally, a few weeks past my thirtieth birthday, my slowly dying relationship with my long-term girlfriend Carolyn finally ended when she left me, and a quarter-life crisis hit me like a ton of, well, rocks. Jobless, single for the first time in forever, and with no prospects for my future, I started looking for jobs outside of the ivory tower that might actually use my degree.

It felt like admitting I was a failure, but sure enough, after a few months of searching I landed a job with a Vancouver investment bank. The mining industry is populated with literally hundreds of small companies with stakes in properties all over the world, and each and every one of them wants an investor with money to come and buy out their claim, make them rich, and then build a mine to develop it. My firm worked like venture capital – it was my job to read through hundreds of identical company profiles, meet the geologists in charge, examine their core samples, and make the decision to invest in a few of them that looked promising.

Nearly a year into the job, I had surprised myself. I had backed a couple of winners early on (including one company run by an old buddy from my undergrad), and the sizable bonus cheque they cut me shortly after New Year’s was literally more money than I had ever held in my life. In one go, I was able to pay off the rest of my student loans, buy a new car, and feel, for the first time, like a real grown-up with a real income. Failure had never tasted that good!

In early March, the mining industry gathers in Toronto for the big Prospectors & Developers Conference – the largest such conference in the world. Every year, literally hundreds and hundreds of hopeful companies set up shop in the investor’s exchange looking for sugar daddies, and it was my job to pick winners. I had four days to make or break my upcoming summer, and show that my first year’s success wasn’t just beginner’s luck.

After an uneventful first day, Day 2 of the conference dawned early for me as I began trolling the aisles of the show, and it was there she spotted me.

“Oh my goodness, Phil! How have you been?”

I was suddenly blindsided and enveloped in a tight hug from a young businesswoman in a form-fitting, but still professional, black dress and matching heels. As she pulled back and I caught her face, I recognized her.

“Kate Morgan, how long has it been?”

Kate had been one of my undergrad students when was doing my Ph.D. I was her TA in three different classes, and I had always had something of a crush on her, though I never would have admitted it to anyone (if nothing else, I could have gotten in serious trouble, both with the university and with my girlfriend at the time). Kate would have been a typical “All-American” girl next door type had she been American, but the maple leaf tattooed on her shoulder blade gave her away. She had been a varsity swimmer for our university and had been good enough to make Canada’s Olympic trials, though she never qualified to go all the way. As I looked at her for the first time in six years, I could see she still had the swimmer’s body. She was tall for a woman, maybe a few inches shorter than my 5’11”, and still strong, athletic and lean, with long arms and legs and skin with a natural complexion that made her look permanently tanned. Her wavy hair was auburn and pulled back into a simple ponytail, and as we made eye contact, I was reminded again of her best feature. Her eyes were the purest shade of icy blue I’ve ever seen, lively and mischievous, and after six years I nearly stumbled catching sight of them again. Hot damn.

We fell into an easy rhythm catching up on each other’s lives in the middle of the trade show. She had graduated with her B.Sc. the same year I finished my doctorate, and then as I moved into postdoc hell, she gone on to do a Master’s degree in economic geochemistry at a school in Ontario. After graduation she had landed a job with a junior mining company, as many new grads in the industry did. She was still an apprentice with the company, but her boss liked her, and in a company that consisted of only five people (her, two senior geos, an accounting and finance guy and a secretary) she was getting a ton of useful experience not just in geology but also in running a business.

As I filled her in on the details of my job, the perfect blue eyes narrowed.

“You mean you’re one of the investors? All we get here all day are people trying to sell us stuff and university kids looking for summer jobs. I need to introduce you to my boss, and then I’m going to convince him we need to have dinner afterwards on my expense account so I can convince you our project is worth it.”

I was quickly manhandled and dragged by the hand to an older, nerdy-looking bald guy in a dark suit, who introduced himself as Brian Davies, President and CEO of Flagstone Minerals.

“Let me tell you about our chromite project, assay results…” Blah, blah, blah… As he schmoozed impossibly upbeat and promising stories I’d heard a hundred times before, I kept stealing glances at Kate, who was standing to the side quietly and taking in her boss’s pitch. She hardly looked different from the undergrad I remembered, the one who would drop by my office in form-fitting clothes, whose muscular curves I’d secretly ogle as I taught her how to evaluate a thin section through a microscope. As I stood there, not really listening to all the highly interesting chromite talk, I remembered more about her.

She had been studious and came to my office hours often, one of the few students that did, and had gotten the grades to show for it, but I also occasionally heard gossip about her wild side. Of course it’s no secret that varsity athletes party hard, and I’d heard stories from other grad students that she had a taste for booze and had slept around a fair bit in university, though I never got the impression she was wanton about it, she just knew what she liked and didn’t fear judgment.

As her TA I had envied her effortless sociability and likability and the way she’d managed to fit in both with the jocks on the swim team and the mineral nerds. Most of the guys in her year had a crush on her; she was the kind of effortlessly likeable and bubbly girl who easily attracts suitors. But she was way out of my league, she never seemed to want to be tied down in a relationship, plus I was in a power relationship to her and I took my Ph.D. too seriously to ever consider making a move. That is, even if I hadn’t been a completely hopeless geek and also taken.

In some ways, she had the university career I had secretly wanted but never had. I had been the nerd who spent my weekends drinking and playing Dungeons and Dragons with my buddies in undergrad. In grad school I hung out with my labmates and talked about research a lot. She partied, fucked around, swam competitively, was a social butterfly, and still got grades comparable to mine. She played the field; I spent my twenties with a fear of being alone and holding on to my high school relationship at all costs. It should have ended with being long distance six weeks into university like so many others, but instead we had lasted until I was 30. Fucking Carolyn…

Oh shit. Silence. What was that CEO’s name again? Barry? He’s looking at me. Better say something…

“Of course I’m really pleased you’ve hired Kate, she was one of my best students when I taught her”, I stammered. Was that a non-sequitur? Fuck. “I’m looking forward to catching up with her as equals tonight and I’m sure she’ll have the time to tell me all about the chromite stake you’ve got up north”. The guy grinned. Good. Saved it.

“Kate’s been with us for two years and she’s been a great hire”, said Basil or whatever. “She works hard, she’s great in the field, never complains about living in tents for a month, and her assay work and core-logging is better than some I’ve worked with that are twice her age”. Kate grinned in pleasure. Oh right, the perfect teeth… god, her smile is still intoxicating.

“I’m happy to let Kate have you, Phil. I hope you two have a productive dinner!” With that, he turned and walked away.

Kate and I quickly traded cell phone numbers, and agreed to meet up at 6:00 when the conference closed for the day.

At 6:00 I met up with Kate again near one of the escalators on the way out of the convention centre, and we walked the short distance to one of downtown Toronto’s many restaurants catering to people on an expense account. Over a Thai dinner we caught up on our lives and mutual friends, her Masters and my struggles in finding a place in academia. We also got into our personal lives a little bit; I told her the short version of my long, sordid history with Carolyn, and she told me she had a new boyfriend, dating less than a month, in Kendall Falls, the tiny mining town up north where she was living. She’d been with Kenny only a short time, but thought “it had promise” considering the fact she was in a small town with less than a thousand people living there and wasn’t into country music, hunting or incest.

She also tried to sell me on their project in detail, which sounded promising even without the personal connection. I took notes and put them on my “strong maybe” list. After dinner, we eventually wound up at the Royal York Hotel for hospitality suites put on by the big companies, where we continued to avail ourselves of all the free food and booze the industry wanted to throw at us. By 10:00 we were both tipsy and sick of rock talk, so we found our way to a mediocre chain restaurant nearby, where we ordered wings and continued polishing away the beer, while talking more in depth about our relationships and personal lives. And throughout the evening, I had no inkling whatsoever of what was about to come – our friendship remained as professional and friendly as it always had been, just two old acquaintances catching up.

Late in the evening I was finishing another pint of Steam Whistle and listening to Kate telling a field camp story when all of a sudden she stopped herself and bolted upright, startled. “What time is it?”

I looked at my watch. “Just after midnight, why?”

“Shit!” She looked panicked and immediately started gathering her purse and coat. “Where are we? Maybe I can still make it. We haven’t paid yet, have we?” She tipped her head back and downed the last third of her pint in one smooth gulp. I tried to stifle looking too impressed.

“Kate, what’s going on?”

“I’m supposed to be on the 12:10 Go Train back home, it’s the last one of the night”, she breathed anxiously. “Do you think I can make it to Union Station in time?”

“We’re easily twenty minutes away walking. Do you have your ticket?”

“No, I was going to buy it there.” She checked her phone, noting the time. “Four minutes until it leaves and we haven’t paid the bill. Fuck!” Her eyes welled with emotion, which surprised me. She’d always been a trooper, taking occasional bad lab and exam results in stride, marching into my office and going over answers until she was sure she knew the material. Consoling distraught undergrads was something I unfortunately had a little bit of experience with, but I’d never seen Kate emotional. She certainly wasn’t the type to cry after minor inconveniences like missing a train. She slumped down in her seat, clearly fighting back tears.

“Kate, tell me what’s up”, I said, using the same calm, reassuring voice I used to use to talk kids down off the ledge. “It’s not like you to get emotional over missing a train. What’s bothering you?”

She took a deep breath. “I shouldn’t tell you this, but I’ve always trusted you. Promise not to blab?”

“Of course”

“Flagstone is doing really badly. It’s far worse than we let on. If we don’t find investment this conference, we’re probably out of business. I really believe we’ve got something special, but we need to convince someone to take a chance on us.

“Frankly, I never ordinarily would have been able to expense taking you out tonight, but Brian saw the rapport and the history we had together, and he knows your firm invests in a lot of junior mining companies. He told me to schmooze you and get your investment. But the company really doesn’t have the money for schmoozing.

“They can’t even afford to put us up in a hotel, given how inflated the prices are this week. Brian’s sleeping on the floor of his brother’s condo near SkyDome, and I’m staying with my parents in King City. Part of the only reason they even paid to fly me down here instead of the other senior geologist was because I had a free place to sleep and he didn’t. I needed to be on that train to get home. It’s almost two hours on public transit, I sleep what I can, then two hours back into the city in the morning to be here for 10 when the show opens. Now either I’m stranded, or it’s a cab ride I can’t afford.” A single tear melted from her eye, which she quickly wiped away.

“Look”, I said firmly. “I’m not leaving a friend in distress. I have a bed in my hotel room and you’re invited to spend the night. I can sleep on the couch.”

Kate looked up. “You mean it?”

“Of course I mean it!”, I exclaimed. “I’m not far from the convention centre and the company is paying for it anyway.”

“Oh my goodness, thank you!” she cried. “I don’t know how I can repay you.”

“You don’t have to repay anything”, I replied. “I know we had a professional relationship back in university, but I always thought of you as a friend, too, and tonight has done nothing to make me change my mind. And I’d never leave a friend out in the cold.”

“I always thought of you as a friend, too”, she said smiling. “You were the best TA. Calm, professional, you could explain anything so I could understand it, tough but fair. You had a knack for calming people down, and you cared about all of us when so many TA’s didn’t. I trusted you then and I’m glad to see you haven’t changed.”

I could feel myself blushing as she continued. “Plus, geos get used to sharing all kinds of weird sleeping situations with all kinds of people. I’ve spent two weeks in a tent with Brian, a nice hotel with you will be paradise after that… I guess I don’t have a change of clothes or anything… whatever. I’ll do the walk of shame into the show tomorrow. Either they’ll think I’ve gone the extra mile to land your investment, or they’ll be too oblivious to notice.”

I grinned. “Is it still the walk of shame if you don’t get laid?”

She rolled her eyes. “Shame about getting laid is so high school. Shame about not getting laid is a sign of insanity.”

We paid our bill and hopped on the subway. Once we were out of the underground she texted her folks that she was sleeping over with a friend so they wouldn’t worry about her, and after a short walk we were back at the hotel, a comfortable, nondescript modern block indistinguishable from any other business hotel you’ve ever seen.

“Oh, you have a king!” she exclaimed as we made our way into the room. “You’re not sleeping on the couch in a bed that could hold three people.”

“You sure?”


Kate threw herself onto the bed, kicking off her heels as she stretched. I started carefully removing my suit jacket and tie, hanging them in my suit bag. As I glanced at my suitcase, suddenly it hit me that if Kate didn’t have a change of clothes for tomorrow, she wouldn’t have pyjamas either. I raised the issue with her cautiously – I didn’t know how to handle this, and as a usual nude sleeper myself I wasn’t exactly flush with extra garments.

Kate rolled on her side to face me. “Look, Phil, I’ve known you for years. I know you’re a good guy and I trust you. And remember, I was a competitive swimmer. Swimmers change bathing suits on the pool deck wrapped in towels. We change and shower in groups in the dressing rooms. We skinny dip like nobody’s business. I stopped being self-conscious of my body years ago. And you’ve never seemed like the prudish type either, nor do you have a jealous, possessive bitch of a girlfriend to get mad at you anymore for doing nothing at all that you should be worried about.” I winced. “Will I make you uncomfortable if I sleep nude in your bed? Would you rather sleep on the couch? I don’t want to do anything out of line when you’re doing me so big of a favour.”

“I’m good”, I responded, saying a silent prayer of thanks. “It won’t bother me either way, and I promise to be a gentleman about it.”

“I know you will, which is why I’m not worried about it either. We’re both adults and we can be mature about it, and once the whole swim team sees you naked enough times to be able to draw a picture from memory, you lose all sense of your nudity being anything to hide, as long as you’re among consenting friends.” She sat up and scooted over to where I was sitting. “I want a quick shower before bed. Unzip me?”

I unhooked the back of Kate’s dress and unzipped her, and she quickly shimmied out of it, and then her stockings. She then walked in matching nude-coloured padded bra and low-rider panties over to the closet, hanging her clothes carefully. I tried hard to look without making it look like I was looking, noting that both were simple but still feminine. She then turned and headed for the bathroom, unclasping her bra as she went, and I saw it hit the floor as she rounded the corner and entered the bathroom. I couldn’t see her chest, but her bare back was powerful, tanned and muscular with broad swimmer’s shoulders and shoulder blade tattoo, and her toned butt looked firm and inviting, even covered by her panties.

I took a deep breath as the bathroom door closed and I heard the shower come on. I hadn’t gotten laid in over a year, and Kate was always the one student that I could have been tempted by if she’d ever made a move on me. I could feel my cock suddenly uncomfortably tight in my underwear, and I decided I should get my suit fully off and hung before she got out of the bathroom. I wanted to see whatever she was going to let me see, but I didn’t want to flaunt my own body without a reason, not that she’d want to see it anyway. After carefully hanging up my clothes I grabbed a pair of boxer shorts. My dick was now fully erect and sticking out of me at a ninety-degree angle, and I tugged at it a few times before deciding that the last thing I wanted was to need to relieve the pressure with a naked platonic friend in the room with me.

I pulled on the shorts quickly, turned down the covers on the bed and climbed in, leaving only a single bedside lamp lit. Shortly after, as my erection started to finally fade, the shower switched off.

A few moments later Kate emerged, wrapped in a towel and with her auburn hair, still mostly dry except at the ends, loosely hanging well below her shoulders. I hadn’t realized until now, finally seeing it loose, how long she had grown it. She looked beautiful, her skin glistening with odd droplets of moisture. And then it happened – she unwrapped the towel and hung it on a chair to dry, and in a few seconds I finally saw the nude body that I’d fantasized about so many times. Her breasts were small, probably no more than a small B cup, but impossibly perky and perfectly proportioned. Her nipples were dark and only sticking out a tiny bit, with smallish areolas the size of a loonie or so. She had a washboard stomach and powerful arms and legs, still feminine, but built for speed in the pool. Her ass was toned and muscular and spectacular, and while I didn’t get a good look between her legs, I could tell she was hairless, probably waxed smooth, without even a hint of stubble. Makes sense, I thought, swimmers never have hair below their eyebrows. And then in a flash she was under the covers, completely nonchalant about her nudity and apparently uninterested in stealing a glimpse at me or discerning whether or not I was naked under the covers.