The Gentleman – Reunion

Read Part One here.

When Emily found herself looking into his eyes again the thrill that coursed down her spine stunned her; it landed where she’d felt his fingers almost two months earlier. Deep in her center where no man had touched before.

“Sam!” she heard the exclamation slip out under caught breath, spoken by someone else.

He was pulling her against him as though rescuing her from the incoming tide of boarding passengers; those eyes on level with her own told a different story.

His warm breath blew over her face and smelled of acidic coffee and living heat. “Where have you been?” It was more demand than anything. She couldn’t read him, couldn’t tell if he was angry or happy to see her.

“I got transferred,” she stuttered. “The temp agency-”

His mouth covered hers. Not gently or with any romantic undertone or request for permission. Hungry and taking. She felt his lips, his teeth, tasted his tongue and sagged against him. She held his shoulders for support. His hand was inside her coat against the small of her back and drawing her hard against his body.

The bus started and they swayed. He ended the kiss and almost pushed her into the seat, sliding in behind her, his big hand locked on her wrist.

Her brain was flooded with chemicals, a cocktail of lust, joy, a touch of fear, all tempered by relief. Relief that he was here again. When he started to loosen his grip, she put her other hand over his and squeezed. She searched his face hoping he understood.

The hard set of his lips softened, curved, and his fingers tightened. “I thought that was it,” he said softly. “I’d never see you again.”

“I know. I’m sorry. I didn’t know how to get in touch with you. Or if you wanted me to.”

She felt him slip something into her pocket. “My fault.”

The bus stopped, and it wasn’t his stop or hers. But they were disembarking. He pulled her behind him until they were on the street, then pulled her to his side. She wanted to ask but knew better. These chances weren’t afforded often. Life had been miserable thinking she’d never see him again.

Nothing mattered except that she be close to him right now. In this moment she’d follow him anywhere.

The hotel sign loomed. There was no hesitation in the sound his hard-soled shoes made. He held the lobby door for her, met her eyes as though checking that she was aware and present, if she was consenting. She passed him and waited. Waited for him to take her arm again, to tell her where to go, what to do. The complete surrender of control was a high.

He did, momentarily. She found herself standing beside an overstuffed armchair in a generically industrial fabric, and he leaned in and brushed her lips. “Wait here.”

She nodded and sat down. She watched him walk to the desk. Took in the lines of his body under his trench coat, took in the shine on his shoes. His shock of white hair, the confident way he carried himself. He didn’t walk. He strode. He spoke softly and with authority, he fostered no hesitation toward anything.

Her heart pounded. She wished she was better prepared, that her underthings matched, that she had shaved this morning, that she was wearing a little more makeup. It didn’t temper the reaction of her body, the flood of heat, the knowledge that it would be moments before she was audibly begging for him. How did she know that?

He turned and strode back to her, his hands in his coat pockets. He smiled slightly as he reached out as one would reach for the hand of a child or a charge. She accepted without hesitation or thought.

The elevator doors closed. He pushed the button and faced her. “Are you okay?”

She nodded.

“Is this what you want?”

Did it matter? Would he take it anyway? “Yes.”

“No,” he said.

“No what?”

“I wouldn’t fuck you if you didn’t want me to.” He smiled. It sparked his eyes.

“You can tell I do?”

The doors opened and his hand was on her arm again, propelling her down the dim hall. There were large arrangements of white flowers on the squat tables beneath the wall sconces. The swipe of the keycard, and they were inside. Shrugging out of their coats with their lips locked, and she felt like the hungry teenager she’d never been. His hands were on her, touching with a surprising softness. A gentleness that added heat to the hunger of his mouth on hers, on her ear, her jaw, her neck. She felt his touch trail down her side, pushing her clothing away, around her hip and into the band of her trousers. He stayed on top of her cotton briefs, his mouth back on hers, stealing her breath out of her lungs.

She didn’t know what to do with her hands. She put them on either side of his neck, feeling the soft velvet of his earlobes, the line of his jaw, the strong vulnerability of his neck; her sex was melting, running.

His fingers found it, the wet cotton, and he touched her through it. Everything slowed. His touch slowed. His breath against her cheek exhaled with a gentle rumble that vibrated the wall of his chest against her breasts. His whiskey voice in her ear; “You are a hungry little girl, aren’t you, Emily?”

They elicited an animal groan from her. She found her arms around his thick body, her fingers like claws falling down the linen fabric over his back, one thigh sliding upward against his, opening, giving him better access. She turned her head and caught his mouth, found his tongue and sucked as his fingers played and ground the soaked and slick fabric against her clit.

One hand slid around his body, found his cock and she wrapped her fingers around it, taking his trousers with her, being mindful of the zipper as she gripped and stroked his length. She tasted the shiver that ran through him. Heard it in the bass of another soft growl.

He stepped back and she moaned in protest. He raised his fingers to his mouth, inhaled and then tasted, his gaze locked on her face. Her knees trembled. It felt like her skin was moving with the rhythm of her heart, everything on her, in her, pulsed. Maybe this was what being alive felt like.

He touched his damp fingertips to her lower lip then withdrew, turned and walked to the bed. He sat on the edge and took off his shoes, started unbuttoning his shirt. “Over here, baby,” he said softly. He motioned at a space of carpet two feet in front of him.

She obeyed while her brain whispered what the fuck? at her.

“Undress for me, sweet girl.”

Could he see her trembling? She was paralyzed.

He lifted an eyebrow. “Don’t you want to show me? Show me your skin, your secrets, how badly you want to be fucked right now?”

She nodded.

“Can’t hear your head rattle, sweetie.”

She cleared her throat and cringed at the sound of her own voice. “Yes.”

“Yes?”

“Yes, Sir.”

He smiled. “You’re a good girl, Emily. Now, let Daddy see.”

She thought she could almost reach orgasm purely at the caress of those words, coupled with the intensity of his stare and the quiet patience of his body even while she felt his heartbeat and the the throb of his cock from here. Her hands went to the bottom of her sweater and she slowly peeled it over her head. Underneath, a serviceable white lace bra, nipples clearly hard and dark through it. She was self-conscious of her stomach, soft and white over her slacks. She subconsciously sucked it in, and barely caught the glimmer lighten his countenance.

“Beautiful,” he whispered. “Let’s get those pants off.” As he spoke, he opened his own trousers, and took his cock out, stroking it lightly.

She fumbled with the button. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t expecting…” she trailed off.

He smiled. “What are you apologizing for?”

The flush crawled up her chest and into her face. “I would have been better prepared.”

“What’s worrying you?”

The trousers fell, revealing heather gray briefs with a very evident dark spot. She stepped out of them and bent to remove her patterned trouser socks. “Not my prettiest things,” she said apologetically.

He looked and gave a small shake of his head without his eyes leaving her. He motioned her to turn with his free hand, and when she faced him again, he said, “You’re so sexy. Far more than you know. Look at me.” He motioned at his lap. “I want to touch you, taste you, be inside you. What you wear is inconsequential. It’s you I want. I’ve wanted you since the first time I saw you.”

She smiled as warmth and confidence rushed through her. “Shall I?” She motioned to the underthings.

“Yes.”

She removed each slowly, deliberately. Fears mostly allayed. Arousal swelling as she watched his strong veined hands handle his cock. She paid attention to the way he touched himself. When he gripped, when he rubbed, when pulled, when he passed his thumb over the head. She learned what he liked from watching.

Another sharp exhale from him.

She didn’t wait. Standing beneath his gaze was too intense to last long. She took a step, then dropped to her knees while holding his eyes, making sure he was pleased. Down to all fours, pendulous breasts swaying, and she crawled and climbed her upper body into his lap, gently tugging his pants aside. “May I?”

He smiled and took his hands away, placing them on his thighs. She breathed deeply, reveling in and ever more deeply aroused by the warm musky scent of his sex and the vision of glistening precum, the throbbing veins and living color of his skin. She buried her fingers in the dark curls of his groin. Her first taste was tentative, and his hand touched her hair, stroking before surrounding and gripping her skull. “Take it, baby girl. Take what you want.”

Her hand around the thick base of his shaft, the other sliding under the white knit of his T-shirt, finding the light but coarse fur over his chest, finding a nipple to tease and stroke while she licked and sucked and lapped at him. His fingers tightened and loosened in her hair, and when she deep-throated him, she felt the reaction through every muscle and nerve in his body. His hand stopped her too soon.

“No baby.”

She looked up at him, tears streaking her face. She’d done something wrong. He pulled her head back gently, slowly, and let the pulsing crown rest on her lower lip for just a moment. “Are you okay?” she asked. “What did I do?”

He smiled. “Nothing, sweetie. I just don’t want to come yet. And you were about to make me come.” He pulled her face up to his and kissed her, explored her. His hands found her breasts, his fingers rolling and tugging at her nipples. Then he cupped her buttocks. He turned her around. “Bend over.”

She did. She felt his hands on her cheeks, finger on her asshole, on her cunt, stroking, probing, teasing. She felt his mouth on one cheek, then the other, leaving wet spots that heightened her awareness of what he was seeing of her.

He was standing, pulling her up, turning her, pushing her back onto the the bed and spreading her open. He laid his cock on her clit and continued to touch and tease with his fingers. She’d never felt a touch like his, one so erotic. Over her throat, the valley between her breasts, dancing over her belly and thighs, inside her wrists, her ankles and feet. She giggled.

“Ticklish?” All the while moving his hips just enough that she couldn’t forget where his cock was; or wasn’t.

“I’ll never tell,” she teased.

He swiftly ran a nail inside the arch of one. She squealed and jerked away, and he grinned a vulpine sort of grin. “You don’t have to say a word, baby. Daddy knows.”

She groaned.

Her surrender to his will went on for hours. Time stood still and raced away, and there were moments when all she saw was eternal darkness and it took his touch to pull her back to the surface. Between, she learned his body like one of her medical transcripts. Her fingers finding and tracing scars, her lips discovering his sensitivities, what made him moan softly inside luxurious pleasure, and what awoke him and made him growl and take. She sucked his cock soft and covered with her juices back to hardness and he fucked her again.

He didn’t say goodbye at the busstop. They didn’t have time to cuddle and speak and revel in the thing they’d found. When her mind was clearer there would be sorrow and fear that it would be all they ever shared. But in the afterglow of satiety, and the busyness that was city rush hour, he held her hand and it was solid. He kissed her lips, a kiss just deep enough to re-light that ember at her core, and he said, “Behave, baby girl.”

She offered a half-hearted wave as the bus hissed and pulled away, and shoved her hands deep in her pockets. She found a slip of paper. She pulled it out and smiled.

Unseen

She was a nice girl,. That’s what they called her to her face. Maybe she was, or used to be. There was a time when doing good mattered and made a difference, and being good mattered and made a difference.

Her wrists chafed. The ties weren’t budging, and he’d been out of the room for what seemed like forever. She was suddenly cold, and the dim lighting and draft from some unknown source weren’t helping.

Nice girls didn’t go home with strangers. Didn’t let themselves be stripped naked and tied spread-eagle to a bed bare of all but the fitted sheet. Didn’t allow men without last names to touch their skin with their hands and tongues… she shivered. It felt good.

A stronger draft swept over her, and her eyes strained as though she might be able to see through the blindfold if she tried hard enough.

Each time the darkness closed in, because the blindfold was the one compulsory thing, she thought about losing them. Not just this one here tonight. He was handsome in a strong chinned Errol Flynn sort of way. They all looked similar; in age, in carriage and countenance, all bordering on the unreachable with silver hair in varying degrees of retreat, all with facial hair but always groomed, all with the bearing of powerful businessmen even when dressed down. Even when naked. They carried their successes and failures similarly. Each time the darkness was sealed by the snugness around her head she thought of the moment they would leave, when she was finally fucked senseless, trembling on the brink of oblivion…

Each one she initially spoke to in the bar, or at a table, or once standing by the trunk of his Lincoln; she instructed there was to be no aftercare. Leave me where I am, leave me unbound and in relative security, but leave.

None had ever argued. She wondered if it was a test. If one of them did argue, perhaps he had something for her. Something she could keep.

She felt something like pain but not quite against her left nipple, and his breath over her face. Then it ran, like the touch of a feather, skating over the quivering mound of her soft breast, running between, then racing away over her ribcage. Ice. His tongue touched her lips and she reached for it. He tasted good, like charcoal and bourbon and mints. He teased, licked, bit, then devoured her mouth, and she arched against his restraints and felt the arousal spike, swell and run. The ice cube touched her lower lip. She wished she could see him.

Her mind began to float as it moved over her chin, her throat, dissecting her undulating body down the center. He alternated with his heated kisses, and the juxtaposition left her trembling and aching and not knowing what would come next.

She barely heard when, well into their session with her body trembling on the brink of yet another climax and the cooling sweat peaking her nipples and making her crave his warmth, he asked if he could remove the blindfold.

When she didn’t answer, he asked again. His voice was deep and smooth, and indicated he was near her head, though his hand was on her cunt… or in it. She wondered why he would ask, but shook her head in the negative.

His cock painted the outline of her lips and she moaned as she strained for it. “Why not, little girl?” He asked softly. He pulled back, allowing her only the smallest taste. Her pussy throbbed as he fingered her, pushing her higher.

She couldn’t answer with words. The sounds being torn from her were not ones of rationale. They were the sounds of primal hunger and need. He drove his thumb against her clit, left, then spanked her cunt, a sharp unexpected slap. She screamed and crested. He slapped again and she tipped over. Then his mouth was on her, sucking and biting, and with each sensation she crested and dropped lower. Her limbs were heavy and numb, her body convulsing; she was far past any control she may have had. Her voice grew hoarse until the only sounds she made were raspy pants. She lost track of him. Lost track of everything…

When she woke, her body felt both light and ached. Her limbs were free, she was covered with a thick soft fleece, and the blindfold was still in place. Her fingers found it and peeled it away. She tested herself, stretched, sighed, noted the guttering light of a candle almost burned to its death on the table beneath the window.

A noise drew her eyes to the dark corner behind the halo cast by the candle. She made out the outline of black trousers, ankle over knee, the light gleaming off a shined shoe.

“What the fuck!” She hissed, pulling the fleece to cover herself. Her heart pounded. “We talked about this!”

He cleared his throat. “Yes. But you were in no state to be left.”

“Not your call.”

“Entirely my call.”

She sat up and scooted her body back against the headboard. “Well I’m fine, as you can see. So you can go. Please.”

“I see no such thing. That was an intense session, little one.”

She cast about in her mind for his name. Joshua? James? Johnathon? Fuck. “They’re all intense. That’s the point.”

“I’m aware. And do men actually agree to just leave?”

“You did!”

“No, I agreed to no aftercare.”

“And what do you call this?” She indicated the blanket.

“Not aftercare. Care, maybe. But a bare minimum.”

“Please go. I’m fine.”

“I paid for the room. It’s my right to occupy it until eleven tomorrow morning. Or this morning, rather,” he amended, looking at his watch.

“Fine,” she scooted off the bed and began looking for her clothes, struggling and failing to keep the fleece wrapped around her naked body. “Then I’ll go.”

“Suit yourself.”

She turned on the lamp to aid her search, and he was revealed. He was very handsome, very hard in the set of his face. He watched without apology. His suit jacket and tie were over the back of a chair, and his white cuffed sleeves were loosed and rolled up his forearms, his collar open but his shirt tucked into his creased pants.

She found her odds and ends, a little alarmed at the quiver in her thighs. She wanted to sit, but didn’t care to show any weakness. “Excuse me, do you mind?”

He smiled. “No.” But he didn’t move. “How often do you do this?”

“That’s none of your business.”

He finally moved, rose and crossed the space between them. He knelt on the old shag and took the thong from her, studied it, turned it; it looked flimsy in his large hands. He held it out for her to step into, and she automatically put her hands on his shoulders. He pulled it up slowly, carefully, his fingers grazing her skin. He eased her back and she sat on the bed.

He picked up a stocking. “My fingers might run it,” he murmured, but he gathered it, then set her foot on his knee. He rolled the black silk up her leg, over her knee, and smoothed the lace top against her thigh. He repeated with the other.
She couldn’t believe she was allowing him.

“Did you drive?”

“No.”

“I’ll drive you home.”

“You most certainly will not.” She’d put her arms through the straps of her bra. He stood and leaned over her so his shirt brushed her face and fastened it behind her back. Then he picked up the little black number he’d earlier watched her wriggle out of.

“Arms.”

She raised them without thinking. He slipped it over her head, urged her to stand and turn, and slid the zipper up.

“I will.”

She wanted to say his name, but it wouldn’t come to her. Her mouth moved like that of a fish while her brain tried to form an argument.

“Or, we can stay right here until I’m satisfied that you’re okay to leave.”

Fuck it. She had no intention of telling him where she lived. No intention of including him in any reality she had to face when the day arrived. “Fine.” She sat back on the bed. “And when will that be?”

He returned to the chair in the corner. “I don’t know. How long does it usually take before you’re ready to go home?”

She usually stumbled up her front walk just before first light. “It depends.”

“I suppose we’ll know it when we see it.”

She looked at him, reclaiming the woman who had brought him here. Because she brought him here. And he was more than willing to follow, like a bull on the scent. Her scent. “Did touching me turn you on?”

“Yes.”

“Just now?” She clarified.

“It did. I don’t make a habit of putting women’s clothes on.”

“You wouldn’t let me taste you. Earlier.”

He said nothing. His fingers curled into his palms on the arms of the chair.

“Why not?”

“I wanted to see your eyes. Why the blindfold?”

“I like being blindfolded. Surely that’s not uncommon.”

“No. But you seemed a little – anal – about it.” There was a wicked glimmer in his grey eyes.

She laid back. Allowed the short skirt on the dress to inch up her thighs. “You want to fuck me?”

“Yes.”

She opened her legs then, and slipped her fingers beneath the lace thong, pulling it aside so he could see.

He rose and crossed the distance again. As he did, he removed the trousers and his white briefs. He was fully erect, waving and dripping.

She held out the blindfold.

“No.” he grabbed her by the ankles and pulled her to him, quickly, roughly. He took the blindfold from her hand and flung it across the room, then flipped her over, his fingers gouging the generous flesh of her hips. He penetrated in a single brutal movement that made her cry out.

She put her head down, covered her eyes with her hands.

He pounded her. Used her, she felt it. And she thought she should feel fear, but she didn’t. As long as her eyes were closed against it, as long as she didn’t see him… His hand smacked her ass hard enough she felt the heat from the reddening. He drove over and over, hitting the end of her, bruising her. She pressed her palms into her eye sockets till the lights exploded.

He flipped her to her back and shoved her thighs into her breasts. He plunged again, deeper, harder, and she felt her palms grow wet. “What are you doing?” He demanded. “Look at me.”

She ignored him.

He grabbed her wrists and tried to pull her hands away but she pushed back with her knees. He came at her again, and this time succeeded. It made no difference. She kept her lids squeezed shut. “Fucking slut,” he murmured. But his movements gentled. He pulled back a bit, began to use his cock to pleasure her. But she was numb. She didn’t even feel him come, simply knew by his change in breath, in pace, his withdrawing.

The mattress gave as he laid down beside her. Stretched his body along hers, still wearing his shirt. The fabric caressed her as he gathered her against his chest, his breath still coming hard. He held her close, and she listened to the pound of his heart. “I’m sorry,” he said.

It didn’t matter. She would never see him again.

After a little while, he left her. Rose and covered her. She listened to him dress, and listened to the door lock behind him. She heard his car start, and listened to it pull away. She thought if she opened her eyes she might be blind, that it felt more like blood than tears. She sank into the darkness and waited for morning.

The Gentleman

His voice made me think of black velvet and aged whiskey, deep and thick and from a different era.

I saw him on the bus again. I felt like I was stalking him, but it was purely coincidence. He always sat on the aisle; if someone came for the seat next to him he stood and let them slide in then sat back on the aisle. He appeared both relaxed and poised and slightly preoccupied. If he wasn’t watching his phone he was looking forward through the front windows.

The first day I stepped on I thought he saw me. But his eyes glanced away when I caught him. I hurried by, focused on an empty seat at the back, He pulled his knee in as I passed him, and I let my eyes skim his white hair, the laugh lines around his eyes and mouth, and the resting elegance of his long-fingered hands.

On the third day the only free seat was on the other side of him. My heart fluttered unexpectedly. I wondered if there was something to that pheromone thing. I knew I flushed bright, but also knew it could be attributed to the cold. I hesitated just a moment and he sensed it; before I could say anything he was standing aside. I slid all the way to the window, but when he sat back down the seat seemed very narrow. Warmth emanated through his well-cut charcoal trench coat. The blue scarf set off his skin… not that I was looking. Not that sitting so close to him and smelling his aftershave was having a strange effect on parts of my body I didn’t usually notice.

On the fifth morning it was as though he were saving that seat for me. He saw me step in and stood. The first time he smiled I thought my panties would melt. He said, “Good morning,” then sat back down and returned to his phone. But the seat was smaller. His shoulder and hip pressed mine, and I found myself leaning into him slightly. He didn’t budge, didn’t give, didn’t push back. Simply stayed.

On the seventh morning and following a weekend of actually missing this horrendous commute, he stood and smiled and in that whiskey and velvet voice asked how my weekend was. I said fine, thank you, with a little stutter and what felt like a hand around my throat. He slid in next to me, no, against me, and turned slightly. He offered his hand. “I’m Sam. And I’ve been wanting to know your name for a week.”

There was no apology. He spoke softly and slowly, but there was no hint of hesitancy.

“Emily,” I said.

“Very nice to meet you, Emily.” His phone must have buzzed because he excused himself and turned away. I put my earbuds in, not wanting to encroach on his conversation.

The eighth morning was a holiday. But there he was. I wondered at the happy feeling that flooded me. The bus was practically empty, but he stood and smiled. I slid in and when he sat, he moved even closer. Then I felt his breath hot on my ear.

“Do you mind?” he said softly. It wasn’t a whisper. But no one else could have heard it; it was meant only for me. I felt the familiar warm swell between my thighs. I wondered at the image I had of turning and kissing his mouth, wondered how his white goatee would feel on my skin. Wondered how he would taste. Like velvet and whiskey and-

I shook my head. His big hand slid over my thigh to my knee and back halfway; he let it rest there. I didn’t want him to hear the ragged edge suddenly in my breath. But his touch was affecting me.

He was still speaking in a low and intimate tone. “You’re a beautiful woman,” he said.

I looked up. Our faces were close and I couldn’t look away from his coffee-colored eyes. “Thanks.” So fucking lame.

But he smiled. “You’re welcome.”

I felt his fingers moving, rubbing little circles into the pinwale corduroy of my skirt. I flushed again at the thought of them slipping beneath the hem, up the inside of my thigh… I wondered if he was feeling the textured lace at the top of my stocking.

“May I kiss you?”

I swallowed hard. I wished he’d just do it, but he wouldn’t, not without my permission.

His eyes smiled, then darkened. “Just nod.”

I did, and felt his hand come up, felt him take my chin lightly but firmly in his fingers. My eyes closed.

It all stopped: the murmur of the other passengers, the roar of the diesel engine, the rocking. All I felt was the possessive grip of his fingers and the proximity of his body, all I heard was my heartbeat, all I tasted was him; first his lips teasing me so gently, the wet heat of his tongue sweeping across my bottom lip. He took me fully into his mouth, a soft suck and pull, and he opened his mouth on mine and I had to taste him.

The air brake hissed. He was gone and I was swaying, trying to catch my breath, my balance. “My stop,” he was saying softly.

I must have looked crestfallen because he leaned down, brushed my lips again and said, “Tomorrow, Emily. I’m not done with you, sweet girl.” With a smile that shone into the center of me he was gone.

I thought about that kiss constantly. An intense sadness washed over me when he wasn’t on the bus the following day, and again when I ended up having to take the two following as personal days.The memory and what it may have meant was fading. I began to wonder if I’d imagined the promise in it, or if I’d dreamed up the whole thing. Such things didn’t happen to Emily Anne Carter.

Monday found me walking to the busstop, head bent against a biting north wind. I slipped into the shelter and stiffened when arms encircled me. It was his voice in my ear. “Hey, sexy girl.”

I turned and looked at him. I knew I was beaming. I knew I shouldn’t let him know how excited I was to see him. But when he pulled me against his body his excitement was evident. He smiled and kissed me. It was almost chaste.

“I missed you,” I whispered.

“You have no idea. I want to take you somewhere.”

His arms weren’t letting me go.

“I have to be-”

“I know. Can you call in?”

I shouldn’t. They might fire me.

“Give me two hours.” His hands had found their way inside my coat, his warmth burned through my knit top. There was so much promise in those words. And he knew I was thinking about it.

Thought ceased when I felt his hand against the bare flesh of my stomach. When he pressed his hips against me and I felt his cock my instinct was to find him with my hand. The shelter was empty, for now. He slid behind me, pressing against my back. Pulled me into his body, one hand on my breast and the other sliding insistently lower. His fingers were firm, gentle, and unyielding, and I finally reached back and cupped him. His soft groan was my undoing. I kneaded and stroked him while arching into his palm, my other hand over his on top of my clothes and urging him lower. When he found my soaked lips it was my turn to moan.

“Fuck, girl. I need you. I want you to come for me, right here,” he ground against my ear.

He penetrated me with two fingers; I knew it wouldn’t take long. I wondered at my wanton reactions. The more he thrust his hips into my hand the harder he grew. The more ragged his breath became against my ear and neck, and the faster and harder he ground the meaty part of his thumb back and forth over my swollen clit, the higher I flew. I found my gaze pulled upward for a moment to see a woman and child approaching. I let go of his cock and clasped the back of his neck, my fingers digging in and the urgency causing me to gasp. He’d also seen them.

“Focus, Emily,” he said softly, urgently. “Chase it. Catch it, Beautiful, come for me.” His tongue ringed the cup of my ear and he kept flooding my aural sense until it crashed over me. I almost screamed, but found his hand, wet and smelling of sex, clasped firmly over my mouth. I exhaled and melted into him, into his solid body, his strong embrace, the scent and warmth and security of him.

As the woman and child joined us he turned me into his body, hiding my rumpled clothes and flushed face, and kissed me. I felt his cock throbbing as he drove his hips into mine. I had the urge to suck him till he came, a deep craving to feel and taste his release even as his tongue danced and played against mine.

I gazed through the dirty glass of the bus window, and watched the dirty city slip by. It had been weeks since that encounter. The cherry blossoms would be exploding soon. I wondered at my naivety, allowing myself such feeling for a man who never told me his last name.

The Carousel

Author’s Note: Read parts one and two of this story here and here.

 


 

 

“I’m afraid I’m losing my will to live,” she told him. The carousel skimmed by them and she smiled and waved at the boys on the purple zebra and green duck. “I’m afraid I don’t care.”

He didn’t know what to say. He thought he’d lost his long ago, but he was still here, so he figured it had been an illusion. Or perhaps having a will to live in the first place was the card trick.  “You have to get out.”

She smiled toward the carousel again. “You make it sound so easy. Like it’s a choice I have the ability to make. Like it’s something I just wake up and do one day, and happily ever after is something lying on the bedroom floor; I just have to bend over and pick it up.” She looked at him. “You’re not happy with your life. Why don’t you change it?”

That made him uncomfortable. “It’s out of my hands.”

“Why? You don’t like pan-handling? Then get a job.”

He couldn’t decide if she was serious. Her words stung, though he suspected they probably shouldn’t. He suspected she was making a point that he was too slow to catch.

She waved at them again. “You can’t just get a job, John. The universe is against you being more than a guy scraping his needs out of a sidewalk every day. The universe is against me living a day without getting hit in the face so my kids don’t. It’s not that easy. It’s not something divided down the middle by a line.”

“I’m sorry.”

She looked at him again. “Why?”

“It sucks.”

“And yet, here we are.”

He thought he was falling in love with her. He also thought he should probably tell her, but he couldn’t. She might take it the wrong way and stop coming to the store, stop calling him in the afternoons while the boys were napping, stop meeting him in this park where he could stand by her side with his hands in his pockets and listen to her talk and smell the dollar store detergent on her clothes. “You’ve given me back mine.”

She looked at him quickly, her face wide with a question she didn’t ask.

He looked away. Rolled a bit of lint between his thumb and finger deep inside his pocket. The music stopped, and children rolled off the carousel like fleas off a wet dog, running to parents who took their hands and led them back into the stream that was real life. Calvin and Martin ran up to the them, and Martin tugged his sleeve till he discarded the lint and pulled his hand out where the little boy could grab it.

Carolina bent and lifted Calvin, set him on her hip. “Time to go home, guys,” she said. John searched her tone for something that said she accepted what he’d said, or at least heard it. But there was nothing. Only that real life they walked back to.

She left him in front of the Save-A-Lot, with her usual quiet smile and ‘see you around.’ He watched the van drive away, and knew he couldn’t be in this lot the rest of the day without her. He shoved his hands deep into his pockets and followed his thoughts home; thoughts of kissing her, of undressing her and putting his lips on each bruise and scar. Thoughts of the man who administered those marks that turned the backdrop of his mind black. Thoughts that there must be a better way, a way through it, a way out of it.

For both of them.

Carl

Author’s Note: This is a continuation of the short story “Carolina“. While it can certainly stand on its own, “Carolina” provides a bit of background on John.~

It wasn’t about the face staring back, eyes separated from one another by the jagged, chipped fissure running the mirror’s diagonal. It wasn’t about gray eyes that were at one time blue. Nor the fat lip that split again each time she spoke.

It was what she saw in it. Years, stacked up like old newspapers. Flesh puffing her cheeks and concealing her jawline. Yellowing teeth. Gray strands dulling her blonde hair.

It was who she was.


 

“Fuck, Carolina. What in the name of fuck is this fucking shit?”

She cringed. Not at the string of profanity that dripped from him like slime. At the loud, sharp slam of the glass bowl of oatmeal against the tabletop.

“Breakfast, Carl,” she returned.

It was certainly surprising to hear nothing. She turned. The bowl made solid contact with her face, momentarily stunning her blind and deaf. She staggered back and caught the corner of the Formica counter top sharp in her kidney. Her breath left.

Thank God the boys were at Gramma’s.

When her hearing returned, so did the pain. Deep and throbbing in her lip and jaw, echoed by stabbing protests in her side.

“Fat cunt,” he was saying. “How many times?” he was pushing his face close to hers, and his breath reeked of stale Beam and bile. “Lay off the motherfucking slop. Can’t you fucking stir up an egg once in a while?”

She inched along the counter away from him. Blood slid like molten metal on the back of her throat. She didn’t meet his eyes.

“Fuckin’ weak bitch. No wonder the little assholes is growin’ up to be sissies. Get to the store. I want eggs. And some of that ham steak. Today.”


 

It wasn’t about the fact she was in a gas station restroom, in her pajamas and overcoat, using cheap brown towels to try to wipe away the forming bruises. It was about who she had become. Who he had made her. And how she had allowed it to happen.

There was a tap on the door.

“Occupied.”

A hesitant voice asked, “Carolina?”

Her heart stopped. Flipped over. She awaited the next beat, half hoping it wouldn’t come.

“I saw you come in – I was in front of the store… It’s John.”

There it was, the next beat.

He persisted. “I’m worried about you.”

She cleared her throat. “I’m fine. Thanks for asking.”

“I’ll wait,” he said.

“There’s no need.”

“I’ll wait.”

Wait for what? What did he want? Money? Panic swelled through her chest when she realized she’d left the house without her purse. She had no way to buy the eggs and ham steak.

A sob, the first one in a long time, caught in her throat. She forced her voice around it, forced it to be steady. “I don’t have any cash today, I’m sorry.”

There was a moment of silence long enough to make her think he’d left. Then, as though through clenched teeth, “Would you open the door, please?”

He wasn’t going away. And she thought she might just have to stay here till she died. She couldn’t go back to the house empty-handed. Or late. She unlocked the door, and moved to stand with her back to it, studying the tiny white tiles on the wall, each surrounded by dark stained grout. There was writing. She didn’t register it though.

The door clicked closed. He didn’t say anything.

“I’m alright, really,” she said. Her lip cracked again. She had to turn to grab another paper towel, but he intercepted her, caught her hand and took it from her. He ran it under the water, till it was warm. Then he faced her, tilted her chin toward him and began to carefully swab at the blood. She flinched.

“It’s okay,” he whispered. “What happened? Run into a door?”

She swallowed and fought the tears.

“Where are Calvin and Hobbs?” That what he called Martin. It made the five-year-old giggle, and he’d asked her in the car the first time, “Ma, who’s Hobbs?” When they’d gotten home, she’d found a picture of the strip, on the internet.

“With my mom.”

“Where’s he?”

She shook her head, clenched her jaw. Averted her eyes and clutched her coat over her breasts, to hide their heavy sag inside her tired old pajamas. She wished he’d stop looking.

He sighed, stepped back and dropped the soiled towel in the trash. “You should call the cops.”

She finally looked at him. She had before, and she’d always thought he was attractive, beneath the burdens life had laid on him, behind the tension around his eyes. He had a gentle smile. There was no smile now, though. “It doesn’t work,” she said. “He’s just meaner when he gets out.”

“It would give you time to get away, take the boys and go someplace he couldn’t find you.”

She laughed, a humorless bark of a sound that bounced off the high corners of the room. “And go where? I got no money. I’ve got nothing that’s mine. Except the boys.”

He stepped in and put his arms around her, pulled her close. She stiffened, feeling self-conscious, awkward, but also wanting badly to accept the comfort.

He held her for a long time, not moving, not speaking. The fluorescent tube over the cracked mirror hummed and buzzed quietly. He was warm and solid. She found herself feeling at home against the cool nylon of his coat. A fly ricocheted mindlessly off the ceiling and light.

He finally stepped back. Held her by the shoulders, looked into her face. They were equal in height. “What’re you gonna do?”

She shook her head and moved away, to the sink. She looked at him in the mirror while she moistened yet another rough towel. “I have to go back. Hope he’s sleeping so I can grab my purse.” So he didn’t know she’d been so stupid to forget it, and still didn’t have his ham and eggs.

John shoved his hands in his pockets, like he was looking for something. “Here,” he handed her a crumpled ten. Her eyes welled. She was well aware it was likely all he had, that it meant he wouldn’t have what he needed for the day. She shook her head. “I know it’s not much. But take it.”

He pressed it into her palm, and curled her fingers around it.

She didn’t know what to say to him as they emerged into the hard daylight of the parking lot. He walked beside her, and she felt his hand on her back. She wasn’t sure what made that okay, only that it was, and that it felt good. For just a moment, safety cocooned her thoughts.

She went inside without him, bought the eggs and ham steak. She took the change from the cashier and walked back out through the automatic doors. She looked for him, expecting him to be gone. But he was there. He took the bag from her. She dropped the change into his coat pocket, and he smiled. They walked to her van.

“Could I come with you?” he asked.

“Come with me?” His words didn’t quite register.

“Yes, come with you. Would he do anything if I were there?”

She grappled with the concept, and why it made her feel happy and terrified at the same time. There was that safe feeling that followed him around. But it couldn’t happen. She wouldn’t put him, a virtual stranger, in the line of fire. “It would be worse, John. But thank you.”

He reached up touched her face, ran his thumb just beneath the throbbing split in her lip. “I wish you could come stay with me.”

She tried to smile and flinched instead. “I’ll see you around,” she said, as she got behind the wheel.

“Wait, here.” He pulled a scrap of paper from his pants pocket. “Got a pen?”

She found one. He scribbled something and handed it to her. “That’s a seven.” He grinned. “Call me, if you need anything. I’ll do whatever I can, Carolina.”

She looked at it, then at him. “Why are you being so nice to me?”

He didn’t hesitate. “Why did you give me your number a while back?”

It had been a moment of desperately wanting something different than what she had. A moment of instinct. A flash of realization that he was nothing like Carl. “In case you needed anything.”

He smiled. “In case you need anything, Carolina.” He bumped the car door lightly with his hand, and walked away.