It's never enough, is it? What we have is never enough; we always want more. I dust the flour from my hands as I think about the way my life is going. Married, though the question of happiness is still way up in the air, with children, and wanting to break free of the restraints that bind me. Wanting to soar, and to explore the self I am trying to keep hidden, but which is emerging as if from a long sleep. The self that wears push-up bras in black and red, and stockings with garters to work. The self that browses the shelves of the local larger women's stores looking for the form-fitting stretch jeans and tops, and the thongs and skimpy silk bikinis. The self that buys every salacious Harlequin Blaze novel, and every other novel with sexually explicit, even pornographic writing, and devours them with my three meals. The self that secretly watches the men who pass in and out of my life with a hungry desire to know them
I pour the batter into the two baking pans, put them in the wall oven, and shut the door with a snap. The phone rings, and I hurry over to get it before it wakes the house. Oh, did I forget to mention that it is six o'clock in the morning? Yes, it's dark out, because the sky is overcast, and the chances of rain are 99.9%.
"Hello?" I say quietly into the phone.
"Sorry to call so early, dear," my mother says, "but I wanted to get you before you left for work. When Mike is coming in today, ask him to bring the old barbecue grill with him, please. We've decided to do that potluck outdoors after all, like you suggested."
"Sure, Ma," I agree, and add, "Would you like some cake for the party? I've two in the oven. I can send one down, too."
"Send?" she asks. "You not coming in today?"
"No," I answer. "I'm taking a mental health day."
"Well, if you're sure..." She sounds hesitant. My mother never wants to "take food out of her babies' mouths", as she likes to say.
"It's okay, Ma," I say. "I'll send the smaller one."
Two hours later, the house is quiet, except for the hum of the dishwasher, and the washing machine. Even the radio, which I normally keep on, is off. I want to be free to think about my new interest. As I lie back on the wide old leather couch, with the laptop in my lap, my mind wanders over the first time we talked online, my new interest and me.
It had been a long conversation, for a first meeting, but we had had a lot to say about a variety of subjects. He was looking for escape, and I was looking for answers. Neither of us could help the other except here, in this space. And so we had talked - about his wife, his children, his job, our shared interest in erotica, my husband, my children, our shared interest in history. There had been a lot of inadvertent and meaningless flirting, of the totally ordinary sort - emoticons with smiling faces, or winking eyes, or bared teeth. Nothing even remotely sexual. We had said goodbye, with him not holding out any expectations of future chats, and me not asking.
I read my friends' blogs while I wait, half expecting him not to say hello. I have taken this day off work deliberately, because I know he is off too, and I want to give him some of my undivided attention. And I want to get his. For as long as he was willing to give it.
The little messenger jumps in the dock as a conversation window opens. The icon is a hug.
"Mornin', Miss Kitty!"
My heart does a little happy dance, a smile plays about my lips, and I type, "Back at ya, Sir!" I add a wink and send it.
A wink greets my comment, and a "Hello, darlin'!" I wait, and "Sleep well?" appears under the first comment. He always asks me if I've slept well, so I've learned to wait for it.
"Like a baby!" I reply. "You?"
"Likewise," he answers.
There is a pause, while the screen tells me "Sir Knight is typing".
I let my head fall back against the smooth, cool surface of the sofa, and wait for whatever he will say.
I smile. Always a pause before the words that will jumpstart an erotic conversation.
"Penny for your thoughts..."
"Have you ever met any of your friends from here?" I type.
"Yes," he replies, after a pause. "A long time ago."
"And?" I prod, anxious to hear more.
"What do you want to know?"
"What was it like? What happened?"
I watch him tell me what he's doing: "smiles, folds arms."
"We met at a conference, actually. It was unplanned, and we would have missed each other, except that we were online at the same time, and discovered we were in the same hotel, three floors apart."
"She's also a banker?" I am incredulous.
"No. I said that badly. We met when I was at a conference. She was chairing an annual meeting of her Learned Society in the same hotel."
"What happened?" I repeat.
"We had a pleasant lunch meeting on her last day at the hotel. In the dining room. Cosy, intimate."
"Tell me about her," I prompt. "Is she married? Does she live around where you do? Are you still friends?"
"Yes, but we don't chat as much anymore." The pause this time is longer, before he adds, "It was a special afternoon, for both of us, I think." Another blip in time, and then he asks me, "Why do you ask?" I note that he hasn't answered most of the questions I have asked him. I remember his words to me: "A gentleman never tells..." and I smile.
"I was just wondering what it would be like if we met..."
Seems like only yesterday we had that conversation. He writes: "smiles". I smile as I post my reply: "You're the one with the gift of gab, mister, the one who's kissed the blarney stone. You're the one who would make the magic." "You think so?" he asks, and I can almost hear the laugh in his voice. "Where would we meet?" I ask. He doesn't answer for a long minute, and I begin to wonder if I am pushing the envelope too much. Maybe he's not willing to play this game anymore. I decide to give him an out, without hurting his pride. "Never mind, love. It won't happen, so why speculate?" He is typing when I make my hurried response. He stops. "So, is your house quiet?" I continue, not giving him a chance to speak. "Everyone asleep?" "No, actually. I'm in the basement. Remember I told you we were house hunting." It suddenly strikes me that we haven't spoken to each other in weeks. It seems he's moved. "A basement? Nice. I guess you've set up an office down there, right?" I pause, then add, "Cam?" "And speakers!" he replies immediately, then adds a grinning emoticon. I laugh. "So, maybe we can talk sometime," I say. "Maybe," he returns, holding out no promise. "When the time is right." "And when will THAT be?" I want to know. "We'll know when the moment is right. Just like we have in the past." He adds another emoticon, this time a wink, and asks, clearly changing the subject, "Everything quiet on your end?" "Yes, everyone's gone to school or work." "Why aren't you at work, too, Miss Kitty?" "I needed a mental health day," I say, playing it off, not willing to let him know I have taken the day because I know he's off and I want to be with him. This obsession is getting to be more serious than I know how to handle. "Wanna play?" he asks. If he were speaking into my ear, I could not have been more immediately aroused than I suddenly was. "What?" I hedge. "Truth or dare!" he says at once. And then he waits. I know he's waiting. I type "ok" in the box and hit the return button. And my belly begins to quiver. He writes what he is doing: "sits back and smiles"
"Why do you come by every night?"
We have talked about this before, so I know he's giving me an easy one to start off, and I answer readily. "I enjoy your company, the pleasant, often...stimulating conversation. You know that."
Here is where it gets tricky. I don't want to lie, but the whole truth will lead to questions I cannot answer without possibly jeopardizing our relationship. I hedge.
"Isn't it my turn to ask Truth or Dare?"
I can hear him chuckle knowingly, a split second before a wink and a grinning emoticon appear before my eyes, and "LOL". He writes "smiles"
"Truth or dare?"
I haven't thought about what I'd dare him to do. In fact, I haven't thought much about this game at all. I'm so delighted that he is spending some time with me. I think, and he writes: "Quiet lady..."
"I'm thinking. Hold on." I send him a thinking emoticon. Then I hit upon it: "Tell me what you're thinking right now." It's a lame dare, I know, but it's all I can come up with at the moment.
"I'm thinking about you." His answer is cryptic, and I realize I am not surprised. He likes to tease me, and I figure this is just another one of those times, so I wait for his question.
"My turn. Truth or dare?"
I decide to follow his lead, and keep my fingers crossed, literally, that he won't ask me to do something I am afraid or unwilling to do.
"Tell me where you are right now. I want details."
I breathe a sigh of relief. This seems easy enough. "I'm sitting on an old, worn-out leather lounger, with my feet up. It's toffee-colored, with a lot of cracks from being so well-used. There's a bright red throw over the worst of the cracks, and a couple of toffee-colored velvet pillows. The lounger is in the sun room, which a small sitting room off the kitchen at the back of the house, with big windows on two sides. It overlooks the back yard. The lounger is angled diagonally against one of the windows, with a small round end table between it and the window with a Tiffany lamp on it. There's a magazine rack on the other side."
I pause, then write "Whew!" and post an emoticon wiping its brow in relief.
Lee sends a grinning emoticon to me, and is obviously waiting to continue the game.
"Truth or dare?"
"Dare!" he says again.
"Tell me exactly what you are thinking about me."
"I am seeing you in my mind's eye, in your jammies (he inserts a wink), lying back on the old leather lounger, your feet up on the rest, long legs crossed at the ankles. Your hair is mussed from lying back and your eyes are fastened to the screen, watching my words. Your arms are bare, as are your shoulders, and your heavy breasts hang softly under the top. You look ...incredibly desirable." He sends this, then types some more, and I wait for him to send it. He stops typing.
"Are you done?" I ask, feeling my pulse quicken.
"For now. Truth or dare?"
I wimp out. "Truth!" I write.
"How does it make you feel to have me think those thoughts about you?"
I suppose I should have said, "Dare!", though then he might just have asked me to tell him how it feels to be desired by him. I swallow, which is amusing because he's not really here with me and can't see how I am reacting. I can lie, but I won't. Funny how this relationship, cyber though it is, has become a place of honesty for me. Even when that honesty makes me look like a slut. How to say what I'm feeling...
"I'm...aroused." I stop. I can't say more. He waits, and I write "Truth or dare?"
"Truth!" he surprises me, because I fully expected him to keep choosing the dare.
I take the plunge. This is a question I have wanted to ask him for a long time, and we have been friends now for over a year. "Why do you keep coming back to visit me?" I wait impatiently, but fearfully, for his answer. I realize that what I hope he will say and what he actually says may not match, and I know, in my deepest heart, that I will be ... disappointed if he doesn't say what I want to hear.
"I want to be here. With you." He pauses, and I wait for him to continue the game, not sure how I feel about his answer. "I want you," he continues, surprising me again.
I feel warmth sliding up from my feet, and in a minute I am so hot I must fan myself with splayed fingers. They don't work so well, so I reach over for a magazine and fan in earnest.
"Have I gone too far, Kitty? Should I stop? Are we done playing?" His questions pop up on the screen, and I realize that he thinks I may be upset.
"It's okay, Lee. We can still play, if you like. I'm just a little hot, so I'm fanning myself. It takes longer to type one-handed."
He types, and "LOL" appears on the screen. I blush, realizing what that must have sounded like, as he sends a wink and a flirt to me.
"You're so bad," I say.
"Who? Moi?" He sends an emoticon sticking its tongue out and I laugh aloud in the empty house. The sound reverberates around the still room, warm and sexy even to my ears.
"Yes, toi!" I send him a smile, as he sends me a wink, and a grin.
"I don't want you ever to be uncomfortable with me, Kitty." He pauses and writes what he is doing: "sits back"
I feel myself relax, and realize only then how tense I had been, whether in anticipation or fear, I do not know. I do not want to know.
"So, Lee, what are your plans for the day?" I ask.
"You mean, aside from being with you?" he asks in return.
The phone rings. "Brb" I type, and put the laptop carefully on the set before rising to go to the small desk. I pick up the ornate receiver and speak, trying to not to sound annoyed or impatient.
"Hello?" I still sound a little miffed to me.
"Please hold for an important message..." a tinny voice says. I narrowly avoid slamming the receiver back into its cradle, and return to the lounger and my conversation.
"Remind me to get caller ID in this room," I type.
"Who was it?" Lee asks.
"Don't know. Was asked to hold for an important message." I choose an angry-faced emoticon and send it. "If you know you're not ready to talk to me, why call me?"
"If I call you, it will be because I'm ready to...talk to you," he types, then sends a grinning face.
I laugh. I seem to be laughing a lot this morning.
"Let's continue where we left off," he suggests. "You wanted to know what I have planned for today." He stops and I wait, wondering what he's thinking. Then he tells me. "I'm thinking about inviting myself into your little sun room. I want to hear your voice, and maybe see you again..."
"Are you asking me for my phone number, Lee?" I ask.
"Would you give it to me?" he replies. "Do you trust me, Kitty?" I do not answer for so long that he types, "Are you still there?"
"Yeah," I reply.
"No pressure, hon," he writes. "We don't have to do any more than this, if it makes you uncomfortable."
"I think you know what I really want, Lee," I say, typing furiously. "And I think you know it can't happen. I'm just afraid that hearing you, seeing you like this, won't help the ache..."
I stop and hit return instead of delete. So he gets the last part of the message, the part I don't want to admit to him, to myself.
"Forget I said that," I type. "Don't respond to it."
By the time I hit return this time, though, he has already sent his response, and a second later, he sends "Too late! LOL".
His message says "I ache for you too, Kit. More than I care to admit, too."
Neither of us speaks, and the silence becomes unbearable, as I wonder what he's thinking, and what we will do now. I have felt an ache with this man every time we speak, and since this is the first time we've spoken in about two weeks, I am full to bursting.
"Kit," he writes, and I can almost hear him thinking. "Hon..." he hesitates again, and then says, "I think you know what I want too, and it's more than a phone call." He stopped typing and I said, forestalling him,
"You're the one who said this is an escape, Lee. If we cross that bridge, there will be no turning back. Do we really want to leave this safe zone?"
"I am sooo tempted, Kit. You tempt me, hon. I want you." He pauses, then resumes his typing. "But you're right. We have too much to lose, and too many people would be hurt." Another pause, then, "Can I please hear you, baby? I promise I won't stay long, and I'll be good."
I hesitate only long enough to make him think I'm really thinking about it, and then I type my number and hit return. I wait to see what he will say.
"Thank you Kitty. Give me five?"
"K," I type, and ease off the couch. I need to empty my bladder suddenly, and I barely manage to make it to the powder room down the hall. I'm back at the door of the little office when the telephone rings. I rush to pick it up. "Hello," I say, my voice high and nervous, even to my own ears.
"Hello! Please hold for an important message. This is not..." I slam the receiver down, shocked at the anger that has bubbled to the surface. My hands are trembling, and I grip them together to stop them. When the telephone sounds again, I hesitate, and it rings five times before I can pick it up.
"Hello?" My answer is a question.
"Good morning," a strange male voice says. "Am I speaking with Miss Kitty?" His voice is deep and lazy, with a drawl that makes me shiver.
"Yes, it is," I reply. "Lee?"
"Yeah, baby, it's me," he says. "And you have the sexiest voice I've ever heard from a woman. Say something, hon. Let me hear you."
I search around for something to say, and then it hits me. "Lee," I say, "wanna fantasize?"
I hear a sharp intake of breath, and his voice is husky when he replies, "Yeah, baby!"
I feel a tingle between my thighs, and suddenly I am drenched with desire. It scares me how desperately I want the man behind this voice to touch me, to take me. I lean weakly against the desk, my hands trembling, my heart pounding in my chest as he says,
"Don't hold back, baby! Anything you want to say, I'm here." He stops for a second or two, and then adds, "You know what I want to do right now?" He doesn't wait for a reply, but continues, "I want to touch you with my tongue. Everywhere you'll let me. Starting right here, behind your ear, baby!"
I can hear him breathing, and a little moan escapes me.
"Mmmmm!" he replies, "Yeah baby, Just. Like. That." And then he moans again.
The phone beeps in my ear. "Lee," I say huskily, and must clear my throat before continuing. "Someone's trying to get through. Hold on!" I press the flash button with a trembling finger, and hear Mike's voice on the other end of the line.
"Did I wake you, Kate?" he asks, his tone concerned.
"No...no, you didn't. What's up?" I try to keep my voice even.
"Nothing," he says. I wait, and he continues. "Why aren't you sleeping? I thought you took the day off to rest." His tone is puzzled, but also demanding an explanation, as though I am a child who has done wrong. Or maybe that's my conscience yelling at me.
"I went back to bed for a while, but you know me. I can't stay in it for too long without suffering the consequences."
"Well, go back there now, and get some rest. I don't know how you do it, getting by on the little seep you have every night. Coming to bed so late..."
I feel a whine coming on and I forestall it. "I'm fine, really I am!" I pause, then add, "When are you coming home?"
"Late," he says.
I feel the resentment against his boss that I've felt since day one. It almost chokes me, so that I must force myself to speak. "How late is late?"
He hesitates, and I can almost hear the wheels turning in his head. "Not before eight tonight," he finally says.
"I'll leave dinner on the stove for you," I say.
"Thanks," he replies, and then says he has to go. "Later."
I switch back to Lee. "Sorry, that was my husband." The moment is lost, and I feel it keenly.
"What were you saying?" I ask coyly, hoping he will resume his seduction. I hear his chuckle.
"Nothing," he says. "What did he want? Your husband, I mean?"
"Checking up on me," I say, trying to keep the resentment out of my voice.
"He loves you, Ms. Kitty. Got to keep the home fires burning, my dear." His voice is low, sincere, and I feel unaccountably as though I have lost my best friend. Has he called me to mouth platitudes about my husband? I don't want to hear them. I want him to make me weak like he's been doing.