Short Stories 366:252 — “At Her Service,” by Suleikha Snyder

Okay, this first story from Prem Numbers has so very much to love, not the least of which is the notion of a woman POTUS and a woman VP—the VP is the character we’re with for the duration of this story, a Black woman, Letitia Marie Hughes—but Snyder also leaps immediately into having said woman finishing a rough day and having one of the men on her protective service, well… servicing her. And oh wow does this sizzle. This piece is definitely erotic, but it’s also romantic, and there’s a wonderful arc between the two and the seemingly insurmountable odds against them: they’re a May-December pairing (she’s older), he’s Indian and Muslim, she’s widowed and in a super-public position… Well.

There’s a lot going on there, but the thing is, Hughes is already the first Black woman VP, so she’s already done the whole “work four times harder than everyone else” thing, so in Snyder’s hands, this becomes a story more about the ‘how.’ (Alongside more sizzle. So much sizzle.) We get to see just what’s holding both of these people back. Shazhad Khan, the service against, especially is written so wonderfully devoted in so many ways, but still hasn’t quite conquered the whole “am I worth of this legend?” thing.

Ultimately, this is a freaking triumphant erotica story that shows off the chops of what erotica can accomplish so brilliantly: the narrative is sharp, has a hell of a lot of depth, speaks to a time and place with deadly accuracy, and does it all while making the reader’s teeth sweat. As an opening story, I’m not sure Snyder could have done a better job launching a collection, and it’ll definitely go down as a future example of “let me point you to opening stories that just knock your socks off.”

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