Quiet Time

bykromen©

Most of my readers know that I choose sexual quality over quantity, but new readers of my tales should realize that it does take a bit to get to the juice of the story. Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment.

*

The water was piping hot, near the point of scalding, straddling that finite line between pain and relaxation. I carefully lowered myself inch by lip biting inch, submerging until I was up to my chin. I had it customized before installing it, big enough for three people, had massage jets and a temperature regulator; the closest thing to the Hot Springs of Mt. Zao I had the privilege of visiting while on assignment for National Geographic. All I needed was my personal snow monkey to pick fleas with.

Breathing a sigh of awaited comfort, I squeezed excess water out of the sponge, letting water trickle over my eyes, the soulful crooning of Alicia Keys from the CD player in the corner lulling me into a state of euphoria. It was quiet time. The kids were shuttled off to school, dog walked and fed, left to his own devices and my wife was across the hall in our master bathroom getting ready for another day at the clinic. I use to pray everyday for a life like this, but I should have been careful what I wished for, or least got a warranty.

Meiko, my beautiful wife of 10 years, and I have what many would call a storybook marriage. We live in the burbs, two wonderful kids, fulfilling careers, no financial worries. But somewhere along the way, we lost the thing that brought us together into this blessed union. *** I met her when we were both taking a Human Sexuality course at NYU. I couldn't stop staring at her; damn near failed the course due to my wandering eyes. She was clearly the smartest one in the class; most of us there for the shits and giggles of talking about anything sexual.

She was pre-med and took her studies seriously. I wanted to be the next big Hollywood director so I pursued communications for my undergrad. I kept my distance at first, daring not to cross that social boundary. I wasn't her type, if she even had one. I was a wise-ass bookworm from across 110th street, she a third gen immigrant from Kyoto, Japan. I doubt she's even been north of the Great Lawn. I was sporting knockoff Phat Farm and Sean John to class, trying to represent where I was from but not who I really was. She wore simple skirts and blouses with no brand names. There was something about her simple demeanor that drew me to her. The New York taint that encompassed all of us living in the Big Apple didn't rub off on her.

Thanks to a twenty I slipped the teacher's assistant, we were paired up for our mid-term project. Meiko seemed indifferent, not caring about anything but the work at hand, brushing off any small talk. We would meet every other day at the library to compare notes; I would always sneak in some food since the cafeteria would be closed by the time we were finished. She would politely refuse my treats, even when I made her my famous spicy ramen shrimp. There was no getting through her emotional fortress. I was ready to throw in the towel.

The first time she showed any emotion was after mid-term grades were posted; we received the highest score in the class. She gave a crooked grin as we checked the bulletin board, lips stretched tight around her teeth, not letting them peek through. I decided to give it another shot, sidling up beside her.

"Do you like the zoo?"

It was a stupid line, but the only thing I could think of at the moment. She stared at me for what seemed like the longest time, making me regret ever opening my mouth. A heartbeat later, I watched her walk away, leaving me at amidst the sea of commuting bodies. I took her silence as rejection and plodded through the rest of the day, dragging my pride behind me like a stubborn puppy on a short leash. The next time I bumped into her was in the unlikeliest of places.

Ground Zero.

Three years and a few months passed since that calamitous day in September, but me along with hundreds of others still show up every once in awhile. My fingers interlocked through the rusting fence that cordoned off the area, I stared at the vast space that has long been cleared of the smoldering husks of devastation.

Here is where I talk to my father. He was leading his class on a field trip when the first tower was hit. After getting the class to safety, he went back in to help and never came back out. Even though our conversations are one-sided, I know he is listening. I was just saying goodbye when I noticed someone standing close by. It was Meiko, holding some orchids and a note in her hand. She wasn't looking at me, but at the pit filled with earth movers. She breathed some inaudible words and lay the flowers down on the ground. I turned to go, leaving her to grieve in peace, when she spoke.

"I like the lions," she turned towards me, giving me the tiniest of smiles. Dimples sprouted on her cheeks and she covered her mouth with her hand to hide the crooked bicuspid, which I found attractive. I smiled back and we walked back to campus, talking about everything but school.

We went to the Bronx Zoo that weekend, started to study together on a regular basis, and then saw each other on the regular, much to the chagrin of our peers. The Black women in the class would stage whisper when I walked by, cut their eyes in my presence. Her Japanese counterparts would object more vehemently. I never studied the language, but "Gaijin" became my introduction.

All the dirty looks and sly comments wouldn't stop us as we began dating the rest of the year. Pretty soon the protest died down or we turned it into white noise.

We had more in common than death. Our tastes in music, food, and movies were almost scary. She also loved getting lost; a game I invented for myself when I got tired of the city. It was an adventure to gas up my 94 Explorer, cross the George Washington bridge and keep driving until neither of us could identify landmarks. Maps were for pussies. I taught her to root for the Mets, she taught me how to look at my old city in a new light. We both visited places that I grew up with all along but never bothered to see for myself like Ellis Island and the Museum of Natural History. My parents always tried to drag me along with them, but I would rather play on weekends then study more. My newfound interest started me on the road to photojournalism.

We gave in to each other during the week of finals. What began as celebratory night of sushi and watching blaxplotation films, turned into a weekend of sweaty tussling on a rickety futon. We weren't exactly virgins, but far from porn stars. After a lot of fumbling, muttered apologies, and an actual timeout for a charlie horse, we stopped fucking and started loving each other. It was then that I knew that I would marry this woman, follow her to the ends of the earth, give her beautiful brown babies.

Meeting the parents was a whole adventure onto itself. My mother, also a public school teacher in Harlem, welcomed our relationship with open arms. Her father wasn't so quick to give up his only daughter to someone without a little struggle. Still connected to the eastern ways, he wanted me to prove myself and my love of anime and adept use chopsticks wasn't going to cut it.

I had the bright idea of spending time with him at his Kendo club in Soho. After about a month of bruised ribs, sprained wrists, and a goose egg the size of a baseball protruding from the back of my head, I was given permission to see his daughter. I still flinch when he raises an arm in my direction. After graduation, Meiko moved to Boston where she was accepted in Harvard Medical School and I, true to my word, followed. I used my degree in photojournalism to string for local papers and some national magazines.

With the steady pay rolling in, I found a decent apartment not far from the Commons, and she moved in. Even though we were living in sin, I made an oath to her father that Meiko would become a Dr. before Mrs.. I should have gone into pre-law with all the loopholes I dived through to convince him that we could stay together.

She would get home at night, lab coat stained, hair mussed, to find dinner waiting or at least a scented bath drawn. I would sit with her while she soaked in the tub and listened to her rant about professors, fellow students, or anything else that she had on her mind. Sometimes she would prefer to hear about my day just to keep her mind off tomorrow. I usually left halfway through to let her bathe in privacy. After the water was cold, she would get out and after wrapping up in a towel, would join me on the couch during the eleven o'clock Sportscenter.

I would rub her feet while she studied or her back when she couldn't sleep. She would make me tea or sticky buns when I've been up half the night uploading shots to editors and sometimes breakfast before she left for her seven a.m. We would make love whenever the mood took us; no schedule for that required.

By the time she graduated, I was an accomplished photojournalist. I covered three Super Bowls and the Sydney Olympics, spent weeks at a time in Bosnia, Haiti, and Iraq. We always stayed in touch with each other through email, phone calls, and numerous postcards. We were married in a small ceremony in Atlanta, with parents and close friends in attendance. I never realized that that was the beginning of the end.

Meiko started her residency at Grady Memorial in downtown Atlanta. I kept freelancing, the work coming more and more steadily. When I was home, she was on call. When she was home, I was halfway around the world. All of a sudden, those emails and phone calls didn't come as fast anymore. Lovemaking was on a schedule; reservations harder to obtain than box seats to the Braves during their 14 championship seasons.

How we ever conceived our first born, Marcus, was both luck and timing. We checked the day planner and figured out it was on the Wednesday that my flight to Kenya was canceled. Our daughter, Komari, happened during our four year delayed honeymoon in Nassau, Bahamas.

Meiko soon left the hospital and opened her own plastic surgery clinic. I took a sabbatical from world travel and stuck to sporting events and fashion shoots to be near the little ones. Now we are closer to each other, but only by distance. We moved from out from our downtown condo to a spatial five bedroom abode of Southern gaudiness in a gated community, surrounded by other victims of the Atlanta suburban sprawl.

The mood doesn't hit us anymore; least at the same time. We are more like good roomates than husband and wife. The kids, 9 and 5, are attention drains. The puppy dog we bought our first week here is now a slobbering, eating, crapping machine that barks at nothing in the middle of the night. I love my family to death but this isn't what I signed up for. *** The click of the bathroom door startled me back from memory lane. I opened my eyes, tilting my neck to the left to see Meiko looking in the large bathroom mirror as she applied her lipstick. She was wearing only panties, giving me a full view of 135 pounds of her loveliness. Her hair hung down to the small of her back, braided in a single queue. Her caramelized skin shined under the studio lights, still glowing from her shower. She stood 5'9", long legs to compliment her runner's body. I started at her ankles; the butterfly tattoo she gotten after first year residency, remembering how she squeezed my hand to the point of breaking when she first got it. To her lovely calves that kept me paced during our first, and my last, Boston Marathon.

I gazed upward to the backs of her knees, remembering how I would make her squirm when I kissed her there. I kept moving; to her ass that I would slap to her delight when she was on top. It was now a little thicker and wider, courtesy of two births, but still sufficient to take a light swat or a heavy nibble. I stared at her rounded hips; how I wrapped my arms around them the first time we danced together.

In the mirror, my gaze fell upon her breasts. They had little sag, thanks to Tae-Bo and low carbs, but no thanks to my youthful ravishing. She was a pronounced b cup, just enough for me to palm when we use to spoon at night. I'm usually dead to the world by the time she comes home now. Her areolas always reminded me of peanut butter cups topped with chocolate kiss nipples that never melted under my burning breath. I gave them the most attention, nipping at them for what seemed like hours. I remembered the first time I got twinges of jealousy when she started to breastfeed Marcus. I kept up my vigil of adoration, ending at her eyes. It was her eyes that made me lose train of thought during study sessions. They truly were windows to her soul, but she controlled the blinds at will. They were the first body part of her that I ever photographed. It won me an award in college and the 14x20 hangs over my desk in my basement office.

"What?"

"Huh?" Meiko caught me looking and was now staring back at me through the mirror.

"You need something?"

"No, babe." I tried to settle back in the water.

"The lights in my bathroom are out again." She concentrated on her lips. "You said you would call the electrician."

"I will." I wrung out more water from the sponge. "You leaving soon?"

"I got a consult at 10." Finished with her lips, she picked up the liner and started doing her eyes. I gazed back at my wife. This was the most conversation we had in two weeks. This was also the first time we were alone together for almost a month. I was suddenly afraid for our marriage.

"I love you." There was a smatter of sadness in my voice that I tried to hide to no avail. She stopped trying to draw along her eyelid and turned around to face me. I could see the tiny cesarean scar peeking above the hem of her panties from the birth of Mina.

"What made you say it like that?"

I faced her. "I just wanted you to know it."

"I know you do, Alex." She turned back around to the mirror.

"Come here."

"Hold on."

"For a second, please."

Meiko lay the tube down on the counter and approached the side of the tub, her eyes registering confusion. I reached a wet hand out to her. She let me take her hand and sidled closer. Other than the obligatory goodbye peck, this was the first time we've had physical contact in a long time. I wasn't going to let that moment go to waste. Without warning, I moved up to her wrist and pulled her in the tub with me. Her surprised yelp was quickly drowned out by the large splash of displaced water hitting the tile floor.

"It's fucking hot, Alex!" She tried to scamper out but my grip was unyielding. She bit my shoulder in hopes of me letting go, but I wasn't about to.

"It's not that hot." I rubbed her shoulders and arms in an effort to calm her down and lessen the growing redness on her skin.

Realizing her efforts were futile, she ceased struggling. "Usually, people that say that love you, don't try to scald and drown you." She splashed water in my face and turned her back to me. "I gotta do my face all over again," she said in a less than jubilant tone. She moved away from me but made no attempt to get out.

"Your face is fine." I moved over to her side of the tub and kissed her on the shoulder. She smiled briefly, but was still visibly upset.

"I have an important meeting, sweetie." She was using the same tone on me she used with the children when they didn't want to brush their teeth or go to bed.

"You can put ass fat in some broads lips anytime, baby." I kissed her on the neck right behind her right ear, her spot. "When can you say you have me all to yourself?"

She didn't reply, but I felt her walls crumbling.

"Can't you hear it?" I asked. She cocked her head to the side, water dripping off her earlobe, to listen.

"I don't hear anything."

"Exactly." I grinned at her. "When was the last time the house was this quiet?"

She grinned at that remark, drawing circles in the water with her fingers. I pulled her closer to me, coaxing her to lean against me. She obliged; her wet hair splayed over my chest and arms. I opened my knees till she was directly between my legs like the time we rode the log flume at Six Flags. I squeezed a generous amount of liquid soap in the palm of my hand and began to spread the green goo all over her shoulders and breasts as she delightfully shivered from the acute chill.

As Ms.Keys began to belt out the starting chords of "Unbreakable", filling the room with the tender keys of a baby grand, Meiko softly began to hum along. I grabbed a sponge from a hook on the wall and began to wash her like I use to.

Starting at the back of her neck and tracing a path along her right arm, leaving a trail of tiny suds in my path, to the tips of her fingers which she quickly entwined in mine.

Meiko sighed and collapsed against me, completely at ease. I ran the sponge over her shoulders, traveling under her neck, leaving tiny bubbles on her chin. She took the cloth from me and began to run it up my left arm, slow and loving swaths, till she reached my upper arm. Dropping it in the water, she traced the tattoo I got of her name and the names of our offspring underneath with her fingernail, leaving a sudsy copy on top.

I used my hands to rub the tension out of her upper back, grinding out the brick of problems until she was a cotton ball of relaxation. I watched her nipples harden as I used my thumbs to circle her areolas, grazing over them. They fell under the pressure of my thumb, only to stand erect again when I passed.

Meiko groaned her approval and reciprocated by reaching behind her for a grip on my hardening penis. Lightly running her fingers up and down my shaft, her breathing turned into soft moans.

"Hold me."

Twisting her body around until she was able to wrap her arms around my waist, Meiko rested her head against my chest. The steam left her eyeliner in ruins as they ran rivulets down her cheeks and lazily mixed with the bath water. She looked up at me and we kissed, like it was the first time all over again with the Bronx Zoo chimps as witnesses. I tasted the mint of her toothpaste as her tongue sought out mine. I ran my right hand down her back, fingers fighting through wet tangles of hair until I reached slippery spine. I rubbed along the ridges, feeling each bump pass underneath my fingertips until I reached the curve of her butt underwater.

She moaned in approval as I squeezed it, kneading it between my fingers; slight give like a baker's dough. I hooked the waistband of her panties with my finger, sliding them down her thighs. She kicked them the rest of the way down her legs, flicking them off when they reached her ankle until they landed with a wet splat on the tile. She chewed on my bottom lip, one hand remained behind me, scratching me between the shoulder blades while the other resumed stroking me, her surgical fingers seeking out the pulsing vein.

I shifted my hips, pressing my dick against her palm, couldn't remember the last time it was held my someone other than me. We kept kissing, exploring each other all over again. Her breast brushed against my forearm, nipple hard enough to cut diamond. Her tongue left my mouth, in search of other orifices, plunging into my ear. That was the weakest spot on my body and my body reacted to it. Goosebumps sprouted along my arms, quickly washed away by her wet kisses.

With my left hand, I moved from her breast to her belly until I found her sensitive nub. She gasped and then moaned, spreading her legs wider to give me better access. She gripped me tighter, I flicked my fingers back and forth, eventually parting the soft folds of her labia, until I was inside her two fingers deep.

"Love me."

I rose up, grabbing her by the waist, and pulled my wife in a straddling position till we were facing each other. I could feel the slipperiness of her love as she brushed against my thigh. She moved against me, pressing her clit against my shaft, rubbing back and forth till it hardened like her nipples. I cradled her head with my right arm, supporting her back with the other as she increased the friction. Meiko moved her hair, which was now plastered against her face, out of her eyes and looked at me.

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