The Tales of Ariel Brody Ch. 05byReefkeeper©
Everybody's old enough, foxy enough, you're better off reading Chapter 1 first, blah blah... but, if you must jump in in the middle of a series, this is the one which is most amenable to that sort of activity.
Bright and early Monday morning I was on my way to my first class when Patty Clendenin called to me. "Trade you!" Patty was also a freshman at Cornell but because she had skipped two grades along the way she had only just turned eighteen.
I slowed to let her catch up. "Trade what for what?"
"My weekend for yours, it looks like you had an incredible one between the sheets whereas mine was spent between the covers of a quantum physics book."
My hair was brushed, my clothes were clean, and when I checked the mirror this morning there were no telltale bruises or hickeys. "What makes you think mine was so great?"
"Your stride. The way you're walking tells the all seeing one that certain parts of your anatomy got a vigorous workout recently."
I stopped dead in my tracks and turned. "Shut, Up!" My mind had shifted into high gear. What she said was certainly true but there was still no way she could notice the fact that I was a little tender this morning, but... "You were at the Sun's offices on Friday. You had to be."
"Very good! I thought I was going to get one over on you for a second."
"It's still a pretty intuitive leap from that meeting to a wild weekend of exchanging bodily fluids."
"Not so big a leap considering the way you were playing with him. Who was that guy?"
"Probably a mistake, definitely an onion, and I've only worked my way through the outer two or three layers."
"Nice ass, though!"
I smiled. "And you were right, that ass can grind all night. I really am sore today."
"You realize you're sending my envy meter into uncharted territory. Prior to this weekend our mutual lack of recent sex was the bedrock I'd been building our relationship on." She shook her head. "Now it turns out to be sandstone."
"Patty, what are you talking about? Are you saying you can't be friends with a girl who walks funny?"
"Let's see now, what do we have in common? You're rich and I'm poor, you're connected to all sorts of power people while most of my acquaintances are truckers, you've got a job at one of the foremost Thoroughbred Farms in the country and I sell XXL t-shirts to overweight alumni at the campus bookstore. Our mutual lack of virile males linked us together. Now the only thing we have left in common is that we both walk funny. You because someone screwed you raw and me because my pussy's glued closed from lack of use."
I rubbed my chin in a gesture of deep thought. "All very true, and your tits are bigger than mine, don't forget that. You've graciously omitted the jealousy I've always felt about your nearly perfect figure. I've got to get to class. Lunch at Pastore's?"
"One o'clock, see ya." I had only gone two or three steps when I heard: "What do you mean 'nearly'?"
I'd never had a close girlfriend growing up but from the first moment we had met at the Sun office we both knew we each had one now. We fell in to a pattern right away and what's more she had met my boyfriend at the time David when he and another friend Howard were moving me into my off campus apartment and never once indicated that there was anything strange about the difference in our ages. Her only comment having been: "Ariel I've given it some serious thought and as attractive as the idea of a ménage à trois with you guys might be, I wouldn't want to deal with the inevitable guilt I'd feel after David threw you over for me so I'll pass." She cracked me up.
The guy she'd made reference to was Bob Grasso, a reporter friend I'd spent the weekend with. I had flown him to Kentucky to be with me while at my job at Gateway Farms. My title was 'Manager of Racing Operations' but in reality I was Frank Wright's dogsbody when it came to his Thoroughbred operation. I was in charge of nothing, but oversaw all matters regarding the buying, selling, breeding, and training of his racehorses. I may be Frank's drudge, but I loved my job so much I'd happily do it for free if I had to. I had an enormous amount of influence for a just-turned twenty year old.
The David she'd made reference to was David Knowles, the great love of my life who had died of cancer a few months before. He was 64 when he died. We had been together for two years and eighteen days. I often found myself wanting to give away everything I had if I could make it two years and nineteen days.
I got to Pastore's on time but Patty had already preempted every square inch of table space with research books and piles of class notes spread everywhere. I spoke to her. "How foolish of them to seat you at a table for four. Didn't you tell them I was coming?" I signaled to the waitress. "Would you mind if we moved to that table over there?" I indicated a table for six.
"No problem. Let me help you." The waitress made to gather some books, but Patty spoke up.
"That's alright, we don't need to move. The books were only until my friend arrived." She started stacking them.
I spoke up. "We don't need menus, two open faced capicola and eggplant sandwiches, two small salads, two iced teas."
Patty put on a mock demure face. "I do so love it when you take charge." She picked up one of the books. "You're in his class; do you think Clackson could have plagiarized this text of his? This shows incredible insight and every time I've talked to him his bulb seemed on a dimmer switch."
"I've never seen that, I always thought he had his shit together. He may be the brightest professor I've got."
"How bright can he be? I've been dropping hankies in his path all semester and he's never hit on me."
"Ah, now I see. Did it ever occur to you that the administration frowns on its staff boinking members of the student body? Or maybe he hesitated because at the time you were underage and therefore jailbait. Maybe he follows the rules even though he's completely, hopelessly, and passionately fallen into your web."
"Possible, although that would take an enormous amount of discipline." She sighed exaggeratedly and reached to grab my hands. "Why can't I meet a nice guy to keep my feet warm?"
I laughed. "That's easy! You shoot down every guy that hits on you and your sights are only focused on guys you can't possibly get. If a guy does make it through your firewalls you blow him up if he's not brighter than you are, and since no one in the entire school is... I rest my case.
As always, however, I have a solution. Go to a downtown pub and go home with the first guy who offers to buy you a drink. Don't analyze him, fuck him!"
"I'm underage. I'm not supposed to go to bars."
"Give me a break. Your fake ID's better than my fake ID, but if you insist, Chi Delt is having a party tomorrow night. Do the first guy who talks to you."
"Chi Delt's a jock house!" She dropped her head to the table.
"So your expectations won't be too high. You won't be shocked if you can't find his Phi Beta Kappa key after you've screwed him into unconsciousness.
Besides, he'd only be a stepping stone. Success breeds confidence and confidence breeds more successes." I shifted into my best W. C. Fields. "The dumb jock's only a link in a chain, m'dear, a link in a chain. Give me a little time and I'll have you bedding half the student body."
"Half the student body're women!"
"My point exactly, we'll work on the other half. On another subject though, I've got a question."
Patty picked her head up off the table just as our lunch arrived. "Shoot."
"Frank wants me to train an assistant. Want to try your hand at it? Understand, this is only a trial and Frank has the final say as to whom we hire, but if you like it and you stick with it it's the kind of job that looks great on a résumé."
"I take it as a given that you'll start me out shoveling shit or some equally noxious task, yet they all seem infinitely more desirable pastimes than working in the bookstore. When do I start?"
"We'll fly down on Friday after I get out of my last class and we'll be back in time for your eleven o'clock Monday morning."
"I've got a shoot scheduled over at the track in Watkins Glen Friday morning but we should be done by early afternoon. If it runs a little over would that be a problem?" Pat did some occasional modeling for teen fashion ads.
"I'd kind of like to get out of here as quickly as possible on Friday so why don't I bag my class so Howard and I could go to the Glen with you. That way we could leave straight from the shoot to the airport." I could see from the look on her face that my idea wasn't going over very well.
"No, I'll cancel the shoot."
"Why? That's completely unnecessary. You'd be leaving the photographer scrambling for a replacement model in the last minute which wouldn't do your reputation any good and besides, you'd be leaving that fee on the table."
She was still squirming in her seat, obviously uncomfortable with my plan. "Look, I suppose I should have mentioned this a while ago but I wasn't sure how it would be received. I don't model fashions in all my photo shoots. In fact a lot of them are like Friday's for which I'll be modeling mostly me. It's a nude shoot."
I was surprised, but certainly not shocked. "So?"
"Look I'm not at all ashamed about it, but as I said, I wasn't sure what you'd think about the whole thing."
I laughed. "Honey if that's the biggest skeleton you've got in your closet you can rest easy. I've got you beat hands down! Ask me someday how I first met David."
Pat's face lit up whenever she smelled good dirt. "Someday? Last time I looked today's a someday. Give it up, girl."
I groaned. "Oh God I knew I'd wind up telling you this one day, but I wanted to lay a proper foundation first.
David was in Washington for this charity dinner party and after he checked into the hotel he was feeling a little frisky so he called the concierge to have a girl sent up to his room."
"David used hookers? He never seemed the type."
"What's the type? He was a male and all his equipment worked. Most guys don't have a libido meter mounted externally."
"Okay okay, sorry I interrupted, where do you come into the story?"
I hesitated for only a split second. "I was the hooker sent up to his room."
Wow! I had always thought it was just an expression, but Patty's jaw really did drop. "Dad and I were going through a difficult time financially so I decided to be 'little miss take charge' and earn some extra cash to tide us over. David was my third trick in a little more than one day. He offered to get me the job at Gateway and said he'd pay for Cornell if I gave up prostitution." I smiled wistfully. "It's funny but the way I felt about him after that first night I would have done whatever he said and for the next two years I pretty much did!" Patty was still staring with her mouth open. "Patty you're starting to make me feel uncomfortable. Say something!"
She started speaking very slowly and deliberately. "This all blows my mind. You have another dimension I never suspected. That's a pretty ballsy solution to money problems, especially for an eighteen year old. Hell, I'm eighteen and I'm the only one I know who might come up with that as a possible solution and I haven't."
I snorted. "I don't think they're about to hand out merit badges for that kind of solution. I've often felt thankful for what I came up with though. If I hadn't been hooking I wouldn't have met David."
"So I guess it'll be okay if you guys are at my shoot. I'm curious about how I'll feel about Howard seeing me naked."
My brain slipped into gear. "Oh my God! That's the solution to our earlier problem! Jump Howard! He's good looking, an awesome conversationalist, he's really intelligent, he's been flirting with you since forever, and he wouldn't be cheating on anyone because his life is spent taking care of me!"
"I thought you said he wouldn't be cheating."
"I know, I'm not exactly sure why I never attacked Howard. I guess I think of him as being a brother type. Oh well, if I change my mind it would be easy enough to steal him away from you."
Patty snorted. "In your dreams, girl!" She looked at her watch. "I gotta get to class. If it's okay I want to drop over tonight to review your notes for Lawlor's class. I'll spring for the pizza if you pick up the beer?"
"I've already got the better part of a case in the 'fridge. I may be asleep when you get there so just let yourself in."
"'kay." Patty went to class and I went back to my apartment.
I spent the rest of the afternoon plotting how I would pull this off. I was determined to hook Howard and Patty up. I knew Howard would resist jumping one of my friends on principle, but he might put the moves on a new employee at Gateway Farm. The more apparent distance I could put between Patty and I, the better chance I had. I looked at my watch and decided Howard would probably be at the D. C. house so I called. "Hey you, Frank asked me to see about hiring an assistant and I've found a girl I want to give a trial shot. She's working over at the Glen. Can you land there so we can save time on Friday?"
"I'm fine, how are you Ariel? No."
"Sorry, I'm fine Howard. You mean no about Watkins Glen? How come? I thought there was a little airport at Schuyler."
"That's right and little is the operative word in your sentence. That's a 2100 foot strip and depending on wind conditions I wouldn't feel all that great about your landing a 172 there much less the Citation. There's a 7000 foot strip in Corning, but that's means a stop on the way back to pick up the car and a drive back to school of over an hour. It'd save you a few minutes on the way down, though. If she works out would this Corning pickup turn into a regular thing?"
"No, this is an infrequent thing. She's doing a nude photo shoot at the track."
I could see him smiling through the phone line. "I knew you'd get the hang of this hiring slash human relations gig! Good work."
"What'd you meet her through Patty?"
Just before hanging up the phone I smiled as I replied: "It is Patty, cowboy. It was supposed to be a fashion shoot until she heard you were coming. I guess she just wanted to get naked around you. See Ya."
I bagged my Friday classes and drove Pat to her shoot. I watched them setting up for a little while and the photographer came up to us. "Hi Patty, listen, Heather Clark's a no show which leaves us one girl short." He kept speaking to Pat but turned his face toward me. "I was hoping your friend might fill in. She certainly has a good look."
"That's up to Ariel. What do you say, girlfriend? Want to get naked with me?"
I thought about it for a minute. "I wish I could. I'm usually quite the exhibitionist but I'm going to have to decline."
"Jerry, give us a minute, will you? Let me talk to her." The photographer went back to setting up lighting equipment. "What's up? I would have thought that something like this would be right up your alley."
"No, you didn't think it through. I get naked and the pictures would wind up everywhere and might cause Frank embarrassment. My degree of celebrity, however undeserved, would attract someone to print the pictures and shine a light on them"
"Now I feel like a piece of garbage."
"Don't. Look, under ordinary circumstances I'd be totally up for it but I'm trying to act like a grown up for my role as Chairwoman of David's Foundation.
Look, I'm going over to the airport and pick up Howard. Apologize to Jerry for me." I drove off suspecting I knew how the shoot would play out.
Howard was sitting by the terminal. When I pulled up he leaned into the car. "What's up? I expected two of you."
"Hop in; we'll go pick her up."
"At least I'll get to see naked women!"
I smiled thoughtfully. "Only Patty, the other model didn't show."
We parked next to the photographer's truck at the racetrack. Somehow he'd been able to get his hands on a Formula I car and as we walked up Patty was leaning against the front tire with a black leather halter top, a leather and cloth designer cap cut to look like a seaman's cap, flame retardant pants, three inch long dangly diamond earrings, and six swatch watches running up one arm. It was actually quite sexy but could certainly have made it into just about any popular magazine.
While Patty was changing Howard and I pitched in and helped the photographer pack up his equipment. I asked Jerry how the shoot went.
"Pretty good, I think. We sort of switched formats at the last minute 'cause Patty insisted we do the nude work first and finish up with the commercial shots for the watch ad campaign. I almost think it seemed like she wanted to get the nude work wrapped up before you got back. Have you been hitting on her lately?"
I laughed, "No but I think she might want to make moves on the guy I'm with."
Patty came up to us at that point. "Everybody ready?"
Jerry leaned over and kissed her on her cheek. "Thanks again Pat, I really mean that. I think we got some pretty good ones. I'll let you know what the advertisers say."
She kissed him back. "Thanks for your understanding."
Howard let me handle the takeoff but stayed in the seat beside me until we left Corning airspace and I was in ATC's control. He unbuckled his seatbelt and headed for the galley. "Want anything?"
"Water; when you get a chance. I'll call you at the last VORTAC." I knew Howard wanted to be in the cockpit when we landed.
For the next two hours I actually flew the plane, rather than turn it over to the autopilot. Howard got back into his seat as we approached Lexington. I asked him "Well?"
"She's really nice. Bright without being arrogant, sexy without being totally egocentric, I like her."
We landed at Lexington and I drove us to the farm in the Hummer H2 which was one of the perks of my job. Even though I spent most of my time with my eyes on the road, there was no way I could miss the body language and frequency of eye contact between the two of them. I had a feeling I'd be the only one sleeping alone that night. When we got to the farm I dropped Howard at his bungalow and Patty and I drove on to mine. I asked her "I guess it's a waste of time to move your stuff into the second bedroom in my bungalow. Maybe we should leave it in the car and drop it at Howard's later?"
"Definitely not! We may wind up exchanging some bodily fluids tonight but I'm still a woman whose primary focus should be learning her new job. I'm still kind of shocked that even though we've been friends all semester I never noticed how hot Howard is before."
"I don't know about heat, but what's always amazed me about him is the way he can see all the implications of a situation almost instantly. He understands things, and people for that matter."
Patty looked a little nervous. "You mean like telepathic or something?"
Ariel chuckled. "I never thought about it that way but perhaps almost. I always chalked it up to being adept at jumping to correct conclusions on amazingly little data." She could see that she was making Patty ever more uncomfortable with every word. "What's wrong?"
"Well, I've been thinking, maybe it's not such a great idea hooking up with Howard. I should find someone not already connected to you."
"I don't get it! Three minutes ago you're telling me how hot you think he is and now you're no longer interested because he knows me? Girl it was my idea! Now go and fuck his brains out!"
"I told you no! Now will you stay out of my face about it! Jesus Christ can't you leave it alone?" She banged her head against the side window for emphasis and Ariel drove on to her bungalow in silence. They pulled into the space next to the front porch and as each girl grabbed her own bags the silence continued.