If anyone had told Jerome when he was younger that he'd have to start his entire life over when he was fifty, he'd have told them they were crazy. He and Lena had married right out of college, after dating for two years. They had kids, they had fights, they had wild make-up sex. Everything was perfect.
Until two months after Jerome's fiftieth birthday, when Lena came home one night and said, "I've met someone else. I'm sorry, Jerome, I just don't love you anymore."
Jerome felt like he'd been bludgeoned over the head. "You what? Everything's fine! Everything's been fine!"
"I've been seeing someone for six months and you haven't even noticed." Lena matter-of-factly set her keys on the table in front of him. "I'm leaving, Jerome. I'm sorry. You've given me a good life, but now it's time to start a new one. Good luck."
"You can't just walk out!"
"Yes, I can. I'll come back for my things while you're at work tomorrow. Allie has a key; she'll let me in. I'm sorry, Jerome. It's over." She walked out.
Jerome spent the night in a fog. Thirty years together. How could Lena throw it away so easily? How could he not have known she was screwing around on him?
He woke the next morning with a dark cloud over him. It was one of the few times in almost three decades that he hadn't found Lena beside him in the morning. And this time, she wasn't coming back. Even if she changed her mind and wanted to return, he wouldn't let her, not knowing that she'd fucked someone else.
Mechanically, Jerome went through his workday routine. He toyed with the idea of calling in sick; he couldn't imagine getting through a day at the office now that his entire life had changed. But Lena had said she'd be stopping by for her things, and he definitely didn't want to be there when she showed up. There was nowhere to go but work, so he went.
When Jerome returned home at the end of the day, he wandered through the house, taking note of everything Lena had removed. It wasn't really much; her personal belongings and a few CDs and DVDs that she'd particularly liked. Everything else was the same as he'd left it, except for the note and papers on the kitchen table.
Jerome picked up the note and read it. "Dear Jerome, everything I want has been removed from the house. I want our marriage to end as painlessly as possible, so I'm not asking you for anything other than what I've already taken. Please sign the divorce papers I've left so we can get this over with. Sincerely, Lena."
Right. Sign the papers. Jerome's first thought was to burn the goddamn things. Lena didn't even have the balls to give him the papers face to face; she had to leave them on the fucking kitchen table? Well, fuck her! But Jerome resisted the impulse. Clearly Lena had already moved on. Why hold onto someone who didn't want to be held onto? He would sign the papers the next morning and drop them off on his way to work. Like the note said, might as well get it over with.
* * *
The divorce was granted within two months. Jerome didn't contest anything Lena had said, so the court hearing was quick and easy. Irreconcilable marital differences. Judicial way of saying, "My wife fucked me over," as far as Jerome was concerned.
A few more months went by, and Jerome settled into a new routine of cooking, cleaning, working, and trying to sleep. He didn't give himself time for any fun; nothing would have been fun without Lena. For those months, Jerome didn't even leave the house except to work. But one Friday, two of his coworkers stopped at his desk. "There's a get-together at the bar at the corner tonight," Brenna, one of the receptionists said. "We're telling everyone. You should come."
"I don't think so," Jerome replied. "I don't go out much."
"We've noticed," Nora, another receptionist, said. "That's why we wanted to make a point of inviting you."
"A handsome man like you shouldn't spend all his time alone," Brenna said. "If you come, I promise I'll dance with you."
"What a tempting offer." Though Jerome wasn't as much tempted as intrigued. Brenna was quite a bit younger than he was; he guessed her age to be somewhere in the early thirties. And she was very attractive. She must be desperate for someone to join her and Nora that night if she was offering to dance with an old man like him.
"It's a genuine one." Brenna winked. "You should give yourself a chance, Jerome. Have you gone out at all since your divorce?"
Of course the entire office knew about his marriage falling apart. Gossip traveled fast. "No, I haven't, and thanks for reminding me," Jerome snapped.
"I'm sorry. I'm such an idiot."
"No. I'm an old grump, and I overreact sometimes. It hasn't been that long; the wound's still fresh. But that doesn't give me a right to bark at you."
Brenna's smile lit up her face. "You aren't old, and you aren't overreacting. But if you want to make it up to me, you can come to the bar tonight. Right after work; none of us are bothering to change or anything."
"I'll be there."
Chatting between themselves, Brenna and Nora moved on to their next victim. Jerome went back to the stack of papers on his desk. The last thing he wanted to do was go to a bar and hang out with his younger coworkers. He'd never been much for night life; he'd never had an opportunity for it. Lena had been more of a homebody, content to spend nights cuddling in front of the TV. And Jerome had been more than happy to indulge that. A bar would be loud, smoky, and crowded. But maybe that was just what he needed. Maybe a change of scenery would help him get past Lena's betrayal.
By the end of the workday, Jerome had accepted the idea of going to the bar. He didn't anticipate having any fun, but at least it would be a delay in going home and eating his solitary supper. He shut down his computer and stood just as Brenna came around the corner. "Ready to go?" she asked.
"Just about." Jerome neatened the items on top of his desk. "Are you collecting everyone you asked?"
"Nope. Just making sure my dance partner is coming. Or did you forget I made you a promise?"
"I didn't forget. I just didn't believe a beautiful young woman like you would be serious about dancing with me."
"You sell yourself short." Brenna took his arm and led him toward the exit. "And you give me too much credit. You're a good-looking man, Jerome. If you asked me, I'd date you."
That caught Jerome off-guard. "I'm probably old enough to be your father."
"How old are you?"
"Fifty. Remember the black balloon on my desk back awhile?"
"Ah, yes. And I'm thirty-five. So I suppose biologically you're old enough to be my father, but you aren't old as far as I'm concerned."
"So you had an ulterior motive in asking me to go to the bar, huh?"
Brenna blushed. "Truthfully, yes. I've seen you every day for the past few months come in, sit down, and barely speak to anyone. I know you must have been hurt by your divorce. I've been there; it's been a year and a half for me. My ex-husband was fucking the next door neighbor's daughter. She was twenty, he was forty. He told me he was leaving after he found out he'd knocked her up. Ten years I'd been begging him to have children, and he knocked up some preppy college bitch."
Jerome wasn't sure what to say. "I'm sorry."
"No, I'm sorry." Brenna pasted a smile back on her face. "I didn't mean to unload that on you. Heaven knows you have your own problems. But I wanted you to understand you aren't the only one who's been hurt. There comes a time when you have to just say fuck it and move on."
"I'm too old to move on," Jerome said.
"You're never too old to let yourself have a good life. Come on, let's get to the bar; everyone's probably waiting."
"Everyone" turned out to be fewer than a dozen people. Apparently Brenna and Nora's pitch for an office get-together hadn't been very successful. But those who did show up seemed happy to be there. Jerome surprised himself by enjoying the chatter and jokes. And Brenna's company made it even better.
After a few hours, people started to leave. "Are you heading home?" Brenna asked Jerome.
"Might as well. It's a Friday; I'll see what's on TV if anything. Or maybe just go to bed. How about you?"
"I'm looking at about the same thing." Brenna hesitated. "Maybe we could see what's on TV together?"
Jerome didn't want the evening to end. He'd seen Brenna around the office, of course, and had spoken with her on occasion, but tonight for the first time he'd realized what a wonderful woman she really was. But going back to her place, or his... "Might be kind of dangerous," he said.
"TVs are only dangerous when they fall on you." Brenna took his hand. "Please, Jerome? Truth be told, I don't want to let you go just yet. I never realized you were such a nice person. I'd really like to spend more time with you."
Jerome gave in, though whether it was to Brenna or to his own hormones, he wasn't sure. "All right. My place or yours?"
"Mine's small and a mess."
"Mine's big and a mess. So your choice."
"I bet yours is big," Brenna said in a teasing tone. "So let's go."
Hand in hand, they walked back to the office parking lot. "Where's your car?" Jerome asked.
"I don't have one. I take the bus."
"Then I guess you'll be riding with me."
"Ooh, can I trust you alone in a car?"
They reached Jerome's car, and he opened the passenger side door for Brenna. "You'll just have to take that chance, won't you," he said.
"I guess so. Even if you ravish me, it beats the bus."
On the way to Jerome's house, they chatted about Jerome's kids and Brenna's plans for her life. "I was hoping to have children someday, but time's running out," she said.
"Didn't you just tell me tonight that you're never too old?" Jerome said. "You're thirty-five. Women have babies into their forties, don't they?"
"Yes, but to have a baby, one has to find the right man. I don't want to be a single mother. My mother raised me alone. It wasn't easy for her, or for me."
"Ah. Well, I'm sure you'll find the right man someday."
"I certainly hope so."
They arrived at Jerome's and went inside. Jerome hurried around picking up dirty dishes and turning on lights. Brenna laughed at him. "You don't have to worry, Jerome. I'm not here to inspect your house." She sat on the couch and patted the cushion beside her. "Come sit."
Jerome sat beside her and picked up the remote from the coffee table. "What kind of shows do you like to watch?"
"We don't have to watch anything." Brenna moved closer to him. "It's been very nice spending time with you tonight. You're a great person. Your wife was clearly an idiot."
"So was your husband. I'm glad you bribed me into going to that bar tonight."
"Well, you promised me a dance, didn't you?"
"Oh, yeah! And I didn't deliver." Brenna stood and took Jerome's hands to pull him to his feet. "Dance with me, Jerome. I have to keep my promise."
Jerome stood, and Brenna put her arms around his neck. "No music?" Jerome asked.
"We don't need music." She lay her head against his chest. "Just dance with me."
Jerome held her. For the first time in years, he was holding a woman other than Lena. And judging from the movement he felt below his waist, he was enjoying it. They moved slowly together, slow dancing in the total silence. Then Brenna looked up. Without giving himself time to think, Jerome brought his lips to hers.
The kiss, soft and sweet at first, became passionate when Brenna's tongue parted their lips. The dance stopped; only their tongues moved together. Jerome held Brenna tightly, forcing himself to resist the impulse to touch her in places where he'd never touched any woman but Lena. Brenna broke the kiss with a smile. "I wondered if you'd be as good a kisser as I thought."
"And did I meet your expectations?" Jerome asked.
"You exceeded them. But I think I need to kiss you again to make sure."
Their mouths came together again. This time, Brenna's hands moved over Jerome's body, giving him permission to do the same to her. They explored each other's bodies until Jerome had to catch his breath. "That- this is wonderful, Brenna." He said on the couch. "You're wonderful."
"So are you." Brenna sat beside him, close enough that their thighs were pressed together. "Jerome, I... I don't know what you're going to think of me. I don't usually go home with a man I haven't dated before, but we know each other from work, and I think we've gotten to know each other pretty well tonight."
"I agree, and I think I'm glad you're here."
"I'm not finished." Brenna snuggled against him. "Jerome, being here with you feels good. It feels right. Please don't think I'd say this to just anyone, but I- I want you to make love to me."
Jerome was stunned. "You do?"
"Yes." She looked into his eyes. "I haven't made an idiot out of myself, have I?"
"God, no." Jerome kissed her forehead. "It just isn't often that a beautiful young woman sits on my couch and propositions me. I'm trying to figure out how to answer you without making an idiot out of myself. I haven't been with anyone since my wife left, and I've never been with anyone but her. I don't know how good I'd be."
"I'm sure you have nothing to worry about. Will you, Jerome? Will you make love to me?"
"I'd be a fool to turn you down. I'd love to make love to you." He stood. "Let's go to my bed. I think that would be more comfortable."
He let Brenna go up the stairs in front of him. Not out of any sense of being a gentleman; he wanted to see her ass. Throughout the night, he'd prevented himself from paying much attention to Brenna's body, but now his eyes took in every inch of her. At the top of the stairs, she turned and smiled. "Do you like what you see?"
"Very much. My room's right there on the right."
As soon as they were in the room, Jerome pulled Brenna against him. "You're a very sexy woman," he said. "Are you sure about this? I don't want you to do anything you aren't completely certain of."
"I know I'm very attracted to you." Brenna started unbuttoning his shirt. "And I know I feel a connection to you. We're a lot alike, I think. It's been a long time since I've felt this close to anyone. I want you, Jerome. I'm sure."
They kissed again. Jerome pulled Brenna's satin top out of her slacks and slid his hands under it. He caressed the bare skin of her back. For the first time, he was able to put any thoughts of Lena out of his head. Brenna was here now. Maybe he really could start over.
Brenna managed to finish unbuttoning Jerome's shirt, and eased it off his shoulders. He broke the kiss and stepped back to remove it completely. "Sexy chest," Brenna said. She kissed the center of it. "You don't look old, Jerome. No more calling yourself an old man."
"Let's see how I do keeping up with you before we decide if I'm old or not." Jerome pulled her shirt up, and Brenna raised her arms so he could pull it off over her head. "Your chest is pretty damn sexy too," Jerome said.
"You can't see it all yet." Brenna reached behind herself and unhooked her bra. She allowed it to fall to the floor, revealing her firm, round breasts. "Now you can tell me I'm sexy."
"You definitely are." Jerome drank in the sight of her, the second naked woman he'd seen in his life. "You're beautiful, Brenna."
Hesitantly, Jerome touched the sides of her breasts. Brenna sighed. Growing bolder, Jerome ran his thumbs over her nipples. "Oh, god!" Brenna said. "That feels so nice, Jerome!"
He brought his lips back to hers. His tongue explored her mouth as his hands explored her breasts and chest. Brenna's breathing became heavier. After a moment, Jerome broke the kiss and took one small, hard nipple into his mouth. "Jerome!" Brenna exclaimed.
"Problem?" he asked without releasing her nipple.
"Yes. That feels so good my legs are shaking. Let's lie down before I fall."
"Wait." Jerome let go of her and unfastened her slacks. He slid them down until they fell on their own to puddle on the floor at her feet, leaving her in only bikini panties. "Now you can lie down."
"If my pants are off, shouldn't yours be too?"
Jerome took off his pants and lay on the bed in his boxers, trying to ignore his fear of what Brenna would think of his body. His skin was beginning to sag or wrinkle in places; he looked like a fifty-year-old. But somehow he didn't think that mattered to Brenna. He held out his arms to her. "Come here."
Brenna lay beside him and nibbled his ear. "You look wonderful," she whispered. "Good enough to eat. Can I?"
"You can do anything you want, honey."
With a smile, Brenna slid down so her mouth was even with his crotch. She slid down the top of his boxers. "Nice cock," she said.
"It likes to be kissed." Though Lena had only rarely given him blowjobs. She hadn't liked the taste.
Brenna didn't even hesitate. She took him in her mouth, all the way to the base. It felt amazing. Jerome closed his eyes and enjoyed the sensation until he felt himself about to explode. "Brenna, better stop unless you want a mouthful," he warned.
She released his cock. "How long does it take you to get hard again when you come?"
"I don't know. I've never come more than once in a session."
"Your wife never sucked you off then got you hard again?"
"She never sucked me off, just sucked long enough to get me hard when she bothered at all."
"Stupid woman." Brenna wrapped her hand around his cock. "I want to taste your cum, but I want to feel you inside me more. I'll have to taste you some other time."
"There'll be plenty of time for it," Jerome agreed. "At least, I hope there'll be other times."
"I hope so too." Brenna shimmied out of her panties. "Can I ride you?"
Brenna straddled him and lowered herself onto his cock. As he entered a woman other than Lena for the first time, Jerome caught his breath. Brenna's pussy was warm and tight, and felt amazing. "I don't know how long I'll last, honey," he said.
"I don't know how long I will either. It's okay." Brenna rode him faster. "This is wonderful, Jerome! Ah, god!"
A moment later, her pussy clenched on his cock. The contractions of Brenna's orgasm pushed Jerome into his own. "Brenna!"
Brenna lay against him, his softening cock still inside her. "Thank you, Jerome," she said softly.
"Thank you, sweet lady." Jerome kissed the top of her head. "Would you like to stay tonight?"
"I would, but I can't. I'm sorry."
"No problem. Get dressed and I'll take you home."
"Could I shower first?"
Jerome showed Brenna to the bathroom, but left her alone while she showered. He would have liked a second round while she cleaned up; just the thought made his cock twitch. But if she wasn't staying, he didn't want to keep her too much longer. He might get too tired to drive.
After Brenna was dressed, Jerome drove her to her apartment building. "It was a wonderful night," he said. "Thank you again for talking me into going to the bar. And for everything afterward."
"Likewise," Brenna said.
An awkward silence fell. Jerome gathered his courage and broke it by saying, "I'd love to see you again tomorrow night. Dinner, maybe?"
Brenna's smile lit her face. "I'd love that. Pick me up at seven?"
"Done. And if you'd like, maybe we could spend the night together."
"I would like." She leaned over and kissed his lips. "Good night, Jerome."
* * *
Over the next few weeks, Jerome and Brenna saw each other as much as work and sleep permitted. On weekends, Jerome got used to waking beside her; after their first night, she never went home after lovemaking. They agreed not to let anyone at work know about their new relationship, though of course office gossip being what it was, almost everyone knew anyway.