The question hung over my mind like a summer squall. All of the evidence pointed to an answer that would shake, if not destroy, my world. I wanted to ask him, but I was so afraid of the answer. Afraid of the truth, afraid of a lie. Afraid that I wouldn't know the difference.
I should not have invited him here, should not have opened myself up to the temptation of the two of us alone.
I should not have looked into his powder blue eyes. One look at the desire reflected in those expressive orbs and I was lost in a sea of need. I felt that long suppressed tingling beginning in my belly and radiating to all of my body.
I did not want to want him but I could not stop myself. My feet moved to close the distance between us as our eyes remained locked, burning into each others souls. His head tilted ever so slightly and my eyes closed as our lips met. I drank in the smell of him, the delicious aroma swirling through my head. I felt his strong arms encircle me, pulling me tight, safe in his warmth.
Our tongues danced with each other to a silent primal tune as jolts of electricity ran down every nerve, the fire spreading to every part of me; puddling in my core. The soft touch of our bodies rapidly becoming more passionate. I felt my breasts crushed against his chest as he pulled me close. My arms wrapped around his firm body and one fist clenched, bunching his shirt in my grasp. My breathing coming in gasps.
I felt his want rise to poke me in my belly and the feel of it sent chills washing through me. I could feel the shivers taking hold of my every muscle. Alternate waves of cold and heat washed my soul. The feel of his rising desire pumping up the need in me as if the two were connected.
The question was almost pushed from my mind. Almost.
Suddenly the image of a lithe brunet with a fabulous figure and a bubbly personality popped into my head. A fantasy woman who loved the man in my arms. Guilt flashed in my head. I couldn't do it to her. I didn't know her, didn't even know if that woman existed but I could not do this to her. Was she only an invention of my over fertile mind?
I sucked in my breath and pushed him away from me. Every fiber of my body wanted him, needed him but my mind was uncomfortable with the impending intimacy. I imagined being doused with a bucket of cold water. The mental picture didn't help.
I opened my eyes as our bodies separated and looked deep into his questioning eyes. It was as if our minds made a partial connection. I could see that he read the fire in me and the confusion. I could read his desire and see him struggle to push that down. His mind churned trying to understand what was happening with me and then he surrendered to my hesitancy.
Should I explain my concerns to him? Should I just ask him? John was simply too attractive to have survived more than thirty years without a woman staking claim to him. He stood a trim but muscular 6'2" tall with sandy neatly trimmed hair and the bluest eyes that could penetrate a girls soul. He had a quick smile and a sharp wit. He knew how to make everyone around him laugh. He could carry on a conversation with just about anyone about nearly anything.
We both worked for a very unusual company. It wasn't what we did that was unusual but where we were. One would expect a multifaceted consulting company to be in the heart of a major city, but we were almost 100 miles from Chicago. I liked living in the "boondocks" but it must have made attracting new clients more difficult.
It didn't matter much where my apartment was, none of the companies I did my work for were in the same place. There were more than 100 specialists employed by the firm with many different talents. I was a marketing analyst while John was a mechanical engineer. We had both worked for the same firm for over five years but until three weeks ago, we had never worked together.
A team of four of us had been dispatched to a new start up company. The days had been incredibly busy, but like usual the nights were a lonely bore. We spent a week on site, a very unusual week for me. I generally lock myself in my hotel room with my computer and the TV, but this time I joined the group each night in the bar. John was the reason. I enjoyed his company. The other two filled space at the table and kept that week from turning romantic.
When we got back, John asked me to dinner. We did dinner, then we did a couple drinks. The band started at 8:00 and we danced a few dances. At 9:00, John's wristwatch buzzed, he excused himself and left for the night.
I enjoyed each of the work nights that week, all of which were much like that first night. He was fun to talk to. Fun to dance with. Fun to be around but always left shortly after his watch buzzed just after nine.
I thought about him each day and couldn't wait to be with him after work. He was so much fun to be around. When the first weekend rolled around, he said he would love to be with me but couldn't.
I saw him again on Monday but it was more of the same. I had him from 5:00 P.M. Till 9:00 and then he went home. He was busy the second weekend too. The seed was sown in my mind. I never simply asked him. I should have.
On our third Monday, I checked with June in accounting. He listed his status as single but his behavior was so strange that I was really having doubts.
We enjoyed being together, talking, dancing, watching a movie at the theater but it was totally platonic. Shouldn't a married man be rushing me to bed before I found out? He wasn't. We had not even kissed..... until tonight.
Tonight, I had invited him to my apartment for dinner. Cooking and eating and talking and wine and dishes and now it was almost 8:00. I only had another hour with him. Why was that anyway?
I never should have looked into those eyes. The powder blue orbs that left my knees weak and my panties damp, my breathing rapid and my soul aching. God I wanted this man!
Instead, I sat him on the couch while I took the chair. Isolated from him, safe from him, safe from myself.
We had talked about his life before. We had talked about me before. We had talked about stock prices before. Tonight we were going to revisit him.
I looked at the clock on the wall and then I looked deep into those beautiful blue eyes. "Only another hour until you have to go to your next girlfriend." I said it with a touch of humor in my voice but ice in my heart. My eyes locked on his. I saw a cloud of hurt appear there.
"I don't have another girlfriend." It was a statement. There was a little defensiveness in his voice but no anger.
"You are so good looking, I find it hard to believe that you don't."
"Not many girls must feel that way. Believe it or not, I haven't even had any real relationship before." His eyes didn't betray anything.
I smiled at him. "Lots of women would like to get their hooks into you. Take you home to mama and make beautiful grandchildren for their mothers. Believe ME they all talk about you at the water fountain." My brain was processing information, trying to determine the truth. I also knew that I wanted him to be single, wanted to have him in my bed.
"I bet they say, stay away from John, he'll just break your heart and leave you at the curb." John said, a touch of sadness in his eyes. I almost believed him.
"Why would they say that? You make a habit of breaking girls hearts?"
"I don't try to; but I'm afraid I do. I always go out with a girl for a few days or weeks and then......" He sighed and there was a touch of sadness there. "When I was in high school, when I wanted a girl to meet my parents, her mother would go ballistic and her father would try to punch me out. I guess I never got over that. I haven't met a girl I felt I could invite home."
"We're both a long way removed from high school. I don't need my mother's permission to go home with you." I was hoping he would take the hint. I wanted him and the only thing stopping me was his home life.
"Jill, I've had more passionate relationships than ours has been. I've had longer ones but this is where they all break up. I think I'm falling for you. I want you in my life but give me time. I love where I live, but I'm not sure about taking you home yet. I'm afraid that you won't like it and I don't want to lose you."
I knew I was falling for him. I knew that if he just invited me home, he could have me any way he wanted for hours. "John, I don't care if you live in a tent."
He chuckled for a moment. "I don't live in a tent. It isn't about my house. It's about my family and where I live. If you think I'm married, or in another relationship, I'm not. There is no lady in my life, except you." Those eyes looked so scared, so honest. I didn't know what to believe. He had said the words, directly and I believed them, or wanted to.
"Why do you have to go home every night at 9:00?"
"A very stupid reason. It's the security system. The damn thing locks everyone out at 10:00. I have to be home before 10:00. The damn thing doesn't have any over ride. It really pisses me off."
A security system? I couldn't quite wrap my head around that one. He had to be able to come up with a better excuse than that. Or was it so stupid it was true? There was only sincerity in his eyes.
"Your security system?"
He made a really annoyed face, not at me but at the truth. "It's an older one and when we bought it, we just didn't ask all the right questions."
"WE?" I asked him.
"Yeah. My brother and I. We bought it together and we goofed. Jill, I really don't want to lose you. What can I do to prove it to you?" There was panic growing on his face.
I thought about it for a moment. "Two things. You can invite me home, or you can stay with me, here, tonight." Taking me home would prove that he was single. Staying with me in an unplanned visit wouldn't be a fool proof but I would think that some communication would be required. Any other night would not prove anything.
A smile lit his face. "I would love to stay here with you tonight." I saw the desire burning in those blue eyes. He understood the sexual promise behind that invitation. Some other worry flashed across his face but it was fleeting, a seemingly small concern.
I stood up and held out my arms toward him. We both knew it was an invitation to my arms and my bed. I felt the heat rising in me again.
John's eyes locked on mine as he rose from his chair. I could see the desire in him as my own fire began to build. He had taken one step toward me when his phone rang. I watched his hands and his eyes. He had not caused it to ring.
He fumbled for the phone and then groaned. "OH GOD, NO! Not now. Not tonight."
"Hello, Don. What's up." He said into the phone. There was a long pause as he listened.
"Well, you know where the shut off is. You know where the wrench is. Just this once, fix it yourself." Another long pause.
"I know you're a lawyer, but even you can turn a wrench. I'm here with Jill and I was planning to stay."
"SHIT! What do you need? There aren't any hardware stores open this time of night."
"O.K. I'll stop at Wally world and get it but you know I can't get there in time. You'll have to hold the fence open for me or I won't be able to get home. Amanda is gonna love us both with the alarm going off until I get there. The kids are gonna be up after bed time with that thing going off."
"I'll be there as soon as I can but you owe me big time and I do mean BIG time." He slammed the lid of the phone shut and looked at me with eyes pleading for forgiveness, for another chance that I wasn't sure I would give, him at least not at my place.
I hadn't heard the other side of the conversation or even if there was a real phone call. He could have just been talking into a dead phone for all I knew. He had mentioned my name and his plans to stay with me. I simply didn't know what to think. Was it possible that he could have arranged for the phone to ring?
He came to me and wrapped his arms around me. I didn't return the hug enthusiastically and laid my face beside his. Then I took pity on him and our lips met in what I wanted to be a friendly kiss. I wanted it to be friendly but neither of us could keep it that way. Our tongues met and dueled as the fire was lit once more.
"I'm sorry, but I really do have to go. I'll see you in the morning."
I walked him to the door, closed it and threw the dead bolt before collapsing in my chair. I was mad that he had chosen something else over my bed! A real mix of emotions were flowing through me. Anger, confusion, doubt, depression and most of all desire. I was left with an empty feeling.
I don't know if I was thinking straight or totally confused but a sudden thought came to my mind. I couldn't picture a security system that could cause this amount of grief. I couldn't see how John could have arranged such a convenient last minute excuse. One thought flashed through my mind though. If I followed him home, I could see for myself.
He had a five minute head start but I knew where he was going first. I would find his car in the parking lot at Walmart and then follow him home. If his car wasn't there, he was lying.
I don't really remember the drive to the store. I was at war arguing with myself if this was a good idea or not. I never resolved the internal conflict, but I kept driving. Until I was there.
The parking lot was nearly full at 8:45. Damn! I would never consider going shopping at quarter till nine!
It took almost ten minutes of circling before I spotted, not his car but John coming out of the store. I stopped in front of the door as if I was picking someone up and watched which aisle he walked into. I drove to the next one and headed away from the store until I found where I could drive through two parking spaces and face into the one John had walked into. I got into the parking space just in time to see John open his trunk and deposit a large bag.
He could either go toward the store or toward me. If he went toward the store, he would have quite a head start on me. I got lucky. He came toward me with one car in trail. I pulled out of the space one car behind John.
I followed him easily for the first couple miles. At the edge of town there were three traffic lights. He got through the first one while I got stuck by the red light. I thought that would be the end of my evening except that he got stuck at the third light and I caught up.
Following him proved easy. My only concern was that I was right behind him. It was dark enough that he couldn't tell. For fifteen miles I followed John easily along the two lane main highway.
He turned on his turn signal as we approached a county road.
I had never even thought about following someone before and I didn't quite know what to do. He had chosen a small county road to turn onto and after following him for 15 miles from town, it would be too obvious for me to follow him down that road.
I let him turn and then pulled into the next driveway, turned around and quickly retraced the path to the road John had taken. I saw tail lights a quarter mile ahead of me. I pushed the accelerator down and sped up, not quite like a NASCAR driver but way faster than I usually drove. I closed the distance quickly wondering what I should do when I caught up.
As I closed the distance the farm fields slowly yielded to tall trees whizzing by me on my left. The whole left side of the road was a dense wood that seemed to stretch forever. Those trees were going by in a blur as I sped down the road trying to catch up.
The gods were with me that night. As I neared him, his left turn signal came on again and not near any road. I slowed and stopped behind him as he turned onto a gravel lane in the middle of the woods. The lane seemed to materialize out of that thick tangle of trees. Along the side of the road was a mailbox. Not the usual single mailbox like all the others along the road, but one of those large apartment boxes subdivided into over a dozen smaller locked boxes. More than a dozen people lived inside that woods!
I drove by. The woods stretched almost half a mile to the next county road and then turned back into freshly planted crops. I turned the corner to the left and followed the county road to the next intersection. That whole mile long plot was thick trees and tangled underbrush.
Turning the corner, I suddenly realized that it was only this one mile patch of ground that was woods. I drove slowly trying to peer through the murky darkness of night into that tangle of vegetation. I could see nothing but was sure that it was almost as visually impenetrable during the daylight. I drove all the way around that one mile square of trees. It was solid.
When I got back to the lane that John had used, I turned in. The lane proved to be a long twisty affair. Every 100 feet there was a major curve and on each curve on both sides of the road was a sign that read:
MEMBERS AND GUESTS ONLY
VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED
It didn't look like my sorta boyfriend lived in a very friendly place.
Just after the third curve, the road became straight for a short period and there was a large chain link gate. I stopped the car and got out.
The inky blackness enveloped me. I felt the creepy feeling that some wild thing was watching me. The sound of crickets chirping their call of love, was not a loving sound to me but a noise that sent chills up my spine.
An eight foot high chain link fence stretched into the woods as far as the headlights could illuminate it. The fence was topped by three strands of barbed wire. This place was serious about keeping people out, at least those that weren't members or guests.
There was a sign that spanned the top of the gate. It simply said "AARON'S ASSOCIATION OPEN 7:30 A.M. TILL 10:00 P.M. POSITIVELY NO ADMITTANCE AFTER 10:00 P.M." and a phone number. I fished around in my purse until I found a business card and a pen. I wrote the phone number on the back of the card and tucked it into a pocket in my purse.
The gravel drive was only wide enough for two cars to pass. It wasn't easy to turn my car around, but I managed and drove back to town.
My mind was spinning through the whole 30 minute drive. John wasn't lying about the security system. It was there, I couldn't believe that it worked the way he said, but it probably did.
What I knew was simple. John Aaron lived in a place called Aaron's Association. Obviously the association was named after him, but what was it and why didn't they like visitors? Why was it tree lined and fenced in almost like a jail? There were at least a dozen people living there, all of them guarding their privacy. Someone named Don had called him. A tenant? John didn't want me to go there. Why?
My mind was running full speed analyzing the flying questions. I barely remember the drive home. The car must have been on autopilot.
I collapsed into my overstuffed recliner and put my feet up. I turned on the TV just in time to catch the weather. I didn't hear it. My mind was whirling. I didn't mind that I missed the sports. It was when I realized that the late night show had already finished the monolog that I decided that it was time to turn off the idiot box and crawl in bed.
I pealed off my outer clothes down to the matching black Victoria's Secret bra and panties and padded into the bath room to brush my teeth. I couldn't help but admire myself in the mirror as I twisted sideways and back. John could have been such a lucky man.
I thought of those blue eyes and his trim frame and sighed. I could have been a lucky woman!
I passed up the white frilly see through baby doll sleeper that I had made sure was close at hand in favor of a more comfortable nightshirt and crawled in bed. I made sure the alarm was set, checking the current time at just after midnight. I turned out the light.