Esperanza Ch. 02byimagine_that©
"Ughh!!! I shouldn't have skipped the gym last week."
Esperanza held her stomach in as she scrutinized her body from all angles in her full-length mirror. Around her lay piles of discarded clothing. The shorts and tee combo seemed too casual, but the halter top, jeans, and heels screamed desperate.
She looked around her. She had tried on so many combinations, and there wasn't anything left in her closet to reject except a silk robe. She stepped out of the fourth dress of the day and plopped down onto a clothing pile.
She sighed loudly. "There's no fucking point."
Nothing fit her the way that she wanted it to. Everything emphasized her bubble butt, which she had a love/hate relationship with. She desperately avoided anything tight enough to give her that video girl booty, but to no avail. She could wear a size 2XL shirt and you would still see the generous indentation of her backside through it. And it's not like the gym helped, anyways. If anything, working out made it worse, as the toner and tighter she became, the more pronounced it looked.
Esperanza stood up, and studied herself in the mirror again. If only she could magically chop some of it off...
"Ronnie, are you alive in there? I've been waiting downstairs for thirty minutes! What the fuck!"
Oh shit. She had forgotten about Taylor.
Esperanza sighed again. "Nothing looks right on me today! I'm not going."
"Fuck, Ronnie! We don't have time for this. Mike's expecting us and I really need to get over there to start unpacking!" She started banging on the door. "Lemme in!"
Esperanza opened the door slowly. "I already went through everything I own, T. I hate everything."
Taylor glared at her. What-the-fuck-twice! It's not like we're meeting up with hot guys. It's MIKE! He's seen you in holey sweats!
"Wait a minute...." She looked at Esperanza suspiciously. "Are you on? Cuz there is absolutely no reason for you to be acting like a craze-ball unless—"
"I am NOT on my period! I'm just nervous. It's been four years, and I want to make a good impression!"
"Why does it matter?"
"Because last time I saw him, I really did have on holey sweats and I was sweating and gross because we were packing up our dorms!"
Taylor looked at her for a moment, shaking her head. Then, she knelt on the floor and started rummaging through the pile closest to her.
"No...No...No....Wait, here we go!"
She threw an emerald green maxi dress and a thin cardigan at Esperanza. "Put those on and let's go, please. I'll be in the car." She left.
Esperanza looked down at her lap and started giggling. It was the dress that she had just taken off.
Ten minutes later, she emerged from the house and got into the car.
Taylor glanced at her and grinned. "You're welcome."
As they pulled into the driveway, Esperanza's eyes nearly bugged out. Mike was leaning against the garage door, looking as scrumptious as he did on their graduation day. He wore a graphic tee and some jeans that looked like they were one wash from falling apart.
Taylor grabbed her laptop case and hopped out of the car. "Mike!" She ran over and hugged him.
His eyebrows raised. "Whoa there, Taylor. I haven't gotten a hug in years. What's this about?"
She grinned. "You're pretty much my saviour now, Mikey!"
"If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times. I prefer Dad."
"Yup. Hate your shirt, by the way. See you inside, Mike."
He gave a mock sigh of exasperation as she jogged into the house.
Esperanza still sat in the car.
He walked over and knocked on the window. "Are you gonna stay in there all day?"
She opened the door and slowly got out, eyes downcast. She would fall on her face if she gazed into those eyes.
"Well I'll be damned."
Her eyes shot up to meet his. He was looking at her with an unreadable expression. Heat filled her face and she looked back down and played with her hands. "Hello Mr. — "
"Don't you dare. It's Mike. We're both adults now."
"Ok. Mike." The word felt foreign on her tongue. Even when she fantasized about him, it still felt weird when she said his name aloud.
He cracked a smile at her. "It's been a long time." He held his arms wide.
Esperanza leaned into him. Her head barely made it to the top of his chest. She inhaled sharply as their bodies made contact. She could feel the corded muscles flex as he squeezed her against him. That funny feeling that she got whenever she was near him crept back, but this time, it hit her square in the loins.
He released her suddenly. "Too much of a hug? You look out of breath."
She looked at him, puzzled, but he just winked.
"Come on. I've got take-out and Tivo. We can catch up inside where it's warm."
Esperanza sat on the edge of the couch balancing a bowl on her knee. Mike had insisted on stuffing Taylor and her with Thai food, which she didn't mind too much.
Except that now I have to go to the gym twice this week.
She groaned. Staying cute was too much work.
Mike came around the corner with another bowl, but this one was filled with popcorn.
She eyed him warily. "Um, who is supposed to eat that?" She pointed at her bowl.
He laughed and motioned for her to move over. "Us. I have the last three episodes of True Blood ready to watch and I need popcorn!"
Taylor looked up from her spot on the carpet and shook her head. "Mike, you're gonna get fat and slow eating all of that! What will the ladies think?"
He threw a piece of popcorn at her. "Don't worry about that. I'm Adonis! Do you see these muscles?" He flexed his arms and Taylor rolled her eyes.
Esperanza watched the exchange with interest. Mike had a nice body and that shirt that he had on did little to hide it.
"Hey, is that Pearl Jam on your shirt?"
He looked at her, surprised. "Actually, yeah. I'm kinda surprised you know who they are."
She scrunched up her face. "Why, because I'm Black? I can't enjoy rock?"
He choked on the popcorn that he was eating. "Uh, no. Because you're young."
"Oh." She officially felt like a jackass.
"Do us both a favor and relax. I won't bite." He winked. She flushed and excused herself to the bathroom.
Taylor threw a piece of popcorn at him. "What is with the winking?"
"What? It's usually great with the women. Sexy, even."
"Well, at the rate you're going, you might trigger an epileptic seizure." She fell out into a fit of giggles at her own joke.
"Ha ha, very funny."
He glanced up as Esperanza came back. "So what are you working on these days?"
"I'm an actuary."
She smiled. "Actuary. I work in insurance and assess risks to figure out how to save clients money. It's all statistics and business."
He sat with an impressed look. "So you must be making big bucks then."
"Not for another 4 or 5 years. I still have exams to take and I have to go through different levels of certification. It's a lot."
"Well it sounds stressful. Good thing you have this vacation time."
Taylor chimed in. "Yes! She needs to relax. All of that working and studying is making her boring to be around!"
Esperanza cringed. The last thing she needed was for Mike to think she had no life or personality.
She looked at Mike. "Can we please get this True Blood marathon started?"
"Why don't you stay? It's a two hour ride back, and it's already late."
She frowned. "I don't want to impose, Mike. I can just check into the hotel around the corner."
Now it was his turn to frown. "You're kidding, right?"
Taylor walked over. "Yeah, Ronnie, stay. You're not seriously gonna pay to sleep in a shitty bed, are you? Besides, Mike bought SleepNumber beds for all the bedrooms a few years back, and they are amazing!"
She leaned in and whispered conspiratorically. "If you were smart, you would stay just for that."
Esperanza sighed. "Ok, ok, I'll stay. But only to shut you up. And for the bed. I've never slept on such a fancy one."
Taylor beamed. "It's settled then. I'll see you two tomorrow."
"Wait, where are you going?"
"Oh, I'm spending the night with David. I'll be back in the morning."
"But the drive...."
Taylor swung her bag over her shoulder. "Hun, it's cool. He lives in the next town over. It's less than 30 minutes away. I'll see you in the morning."
And with a flip of her hair, she was gone.
Mike looked at Esperanza. She was unsuccessfully trying to repress an irritated look. He cleared his throat. "I think we both need a drink."
He left the room and several minutes later, came back with two glasses filled with wine.
She looked at him apologetically. "I'm sorry, but I'm not in the mood for wine."
He chuckled. "Well I don't have a fully stocked bar, but if you're leaning towards hard liquor, I think I can whip something up."
Esperanza stood. "I just don't think I should."
"Why not?" When she didn't answer, he shifted from one foot to the other. "Well, this wine can't go to waste. It's a 2005 Red Bordeaux."
At her look of confusion, he elaborated. "That was an excellent year for this wine. I can't pour it back in the bottle, can I?"
Actually, you could.
She sighed. "I guess I have no choice." She took the offered glass and tried to ignore the fluttering in her stomach at his dazzling smile. "Cheers."
She looked at him as she drank, noticing that he didn't do the same. "Um, aren't you going to drink? It's a good year and all."
He smiled. "We have to do it again. You didn't look at me when we toasted, and you know what that means. Seven years of bad sex." He cocked his head. "We can't have that now, can we?"
Esperanza flushed. Was he flirting with her? No, she wasn't his type. Plus, he wouldn't do that. He was her best friend's dad!
She raised her glass to his, holding his gaze as they toasted again. He looked at her intensely, and the hairs on her arms raised as she tried not to flinch.
She finished her wine and sat.
Feeling eyes on her, she looked up. Mike was still standing, and staring at her.
She nodded. Why not? Hopefully, it would calm her nerves.
After refilling both of their glasses, he went over to the recliner across from her and sat. "So what do you know about Pearl Jam?"
She sniffed. "For the record, my favorite Pearl Jam song is Indifference. I listened to that song all the time in college."
He smiled. "It is a great song. I didn't mean to offend you. I just didn't take you for a rock enthusiast."
"Yeah, well, there are a lot of things you probably don't know about me."
He leaned forward with interest. She had never gotten an attitude with him before. "Like what?"
"Like that song, for example. When I hear a song I like, I listen to it on repeat until I get sick of it. Then I sing the lyrics to anyone who'll listen—usually Taylor—until I get the evil eye."
She smiled brightly. "That's probably why she hates Pearl Jam. I sang that song all the time when we roomed together."
He laughed. "Good to know. I thought I had broken one of those fashion rules or something because she doesn't like this shirt."
"Whatever, you never look bad." Her eyes widened as soon as the words left her mouth. All of the playful bantering and wine had made her too comfortable.
"So what you're saying is...I always look good?"
She was mortified. "Um...I meant that you have good taste."
"Even in these?" he motioned to his jeans. "They're practically falling apart." He eyed her slyly. "But I guess that isn't a problem since you're probably sneaking looks at my ass everytime I walk by."
Another glance at her told him that he had gone too far. She was hiding her face in her hands, more than likely hoping that the conversation would end.
He gulped down the rest of his wine, then went over and knelt in front of her. "Hey, we're both adults here. What's wrong with an adult conversation?"
Her reply was muffled. "It's just weird. I've known you since I was a kid."
"You're not a kid anymore, honey. You're a woman. A very beautiful, very tempting woman."
She peeked through her hands. Did Mike just call her beautiful? Tempting?
He had a primal look in his eyes and they had darkened in color. She got the distinct feeling that she was the prey.
"I, um, I don't think—-"
"Then don't think." He grabbed her hands and pulled her forward into a searing kiss. He moaned. Her full lips were just as soft and kissable as he had imagined. She could taste the spiciness of the wine as he claimed her tongue with his own.
Her heart pounded into her ears as he released her hands. She thrust them into his hair and softly moaned into his mouth. Electricity shot through her belly as he grabbed her face and deepened the kiss. He caressed her tongue with long, sensual strokes.
So this is what it was like to kiss an man with experience. Her panties were drenched and the man hadn't gone below her neck!
She didn't realize that she was off of the couch and grinding against his crotch until he hardened against her.
Reality hit and she pushed against his chest. Breaking the kiss, she turned her head to the side and stared at the wall.
He pulled back. "Did I hurt you?"
She grew frustrated and shook her head. "Why are you acting like this is ok?"
He frowned. "How is this not ok?"
She stood up, her heart still beating fast. "You're my best friend's father!"
"You didn't exactly seem to hate it," he said quietly. He stood as well, dwarfing her.
She took a deep breath. "We had a lot of wine. I'm going to go to bed now."
He watched as she hurried down the hallway. He didn't regret that kiss. Not at all.
She was freezing. But she didn't want to ask Mike for anything after that kiss and she had no idea where he kept his blankets. She couldn't believe that he had kissed her like that. Now she knew why women flocked to him. If his kissing was any indication, he was an amazing lover.
She cringed and metally slapped herself. Stop thinking about him like that!
She had lain awake for a while, thinking of all the ways Taylor would kill her if she found out. That Red Bordeaux might have been excellent, but this situation was not.
The bed was fantastic, and she had restlessly fallen asleep several times, but the cold kept waking her right back up.
It felt like there was a breeze in the room. An icy one. She glanced at the windows but they were all shut. She gritted her teeth. Why were there so many damn windows in one room?
A soft knock broke her silent rant.
"Esperanza? Are you awake?"
Shit! She pulled the sheet up higher.
"Yes. Come in."
Mike opened the door. She looked at him with concealed interest. He was wearing lounge pants and a robe. His hair was wet. He must have just gotten out of the shower.
"I brought you a blanket. Gets chilly in here with all the windows, and I haven't gotten around to sealing them."
He looked at her pointedly. "You could've had my room, ya know."
"Uh, thank you, but I'm ok here, Mike. I mean, it's your room and your bed and...your stuff," she finished lamely.
He studied her. "I changed the sheets. And I wouldn't be in them with you, sweetie."
He watched as she squirmed.
Esperanza could feel the heat creeping up from her neck and flaming her face. Did everything he say have to be so. . .sexual?
She lunged forward to retrieve the blanket from his arms.
He shifted it out of her reach. "No, don't get up, I'll do it."
She fluffed her hair out against the pillow and watched as he meticulously tucked the blanket in around her. She frowned. It was a nice gesture, but it seemed too intimate.
Patting the bed, he straightened up and looked at her. "Is everything ok so far?"
"Yes. Um, the bed is great." She laughed nervously. "No peas here."
He smiled. "Great. Just let me know if you need anything. It's chilly right now, but I have central heating, so you might be sweating in a few hours. Just let me know and I'll turn it down."
He walked to the door. "You remember where my room is?"
He looked at her for a moment, all bundled up with her massive curls fanning out over the pillow. That bed dwarfed her. He wished he could get in it with her, or better yet, scoop her up and take her to his.
"Good night, Esperanza."
She gave him an awkward smile, having no idea just how appealing she looked. "Good night."