tagExhibitionist & VoyeurA New Way of Seeing Things Pt. 02 Ch. 21

A New Way of Seeing Things Pt. 02 Ch. 21

byBusyBadger©

Standard disclaimers.

This is a story about sexual exploration and, open relationships. Open relationships can and do happily exist; but they are not for everyone. If you do not believe it is at all possible for open relationships to exist without damage to any and all involved parties, please do yourself a favor and don't waste your time reading this.

.

Also, this story takes place in a world where STDs don't exist and only babies planned for and wanted do—in other words, a fantasy world. Any resemblance to real-life people is purely coincidental.


*****

Christmas and New Year's came and went; the holidays really no different than years past other than Gwen wondering if Natalie and her brother might be playing another game nobody knew they were playing at Christmas dinner. The small gift Natalie slipped into Gwen's purse during dinner at the Currans was also new, and. she didn't find it until the morning after, wisely deciding to unwrap it in private to discover a larger version of the spreader currently in her toiletries bag. A bottle of lubrication was included, and a note as well:

Next up on the size chart! Give it a try. Let me know if you need help.

Love, N

The gift was hurriedly stashed with its little brother, The Lady huffing about the impropriety of a Christmas gift like that, the Slut reviewing the calendar for a quiet time when it might be more closely examined.

The guilt and embarrassment Gwen still felt whenever she talked with Alison and Jason had begun to fade somewhat, the couple evidently none the wiser to the invasion of their privacy. Still, her mother would occasionally have snippets of what she had seen slip in to her thoughts uninvited as they visited, the Lady aghast at the memory of her naked son-in-law and what he had done to her daughter. The Slut took these moments to remind her counterpart that Alison had seemed to be a very willing partner...

There had been no doubt in Gwen's mind that Cricket was to be included in their holiday plans as well, but she had been pleased to hear the young woman would be spending the holiday week with her mother, willing to trade time spent listening to advice on how to land the right man for time spent with Marvin.

She waited a couple of days after Cricket was due to return home before calling, not wishing to pester the girl, and hoping she would call first. When no call came, she broke down and dialed.

"Did you have a nice Christmas?" Gwen asked after pleasantries had been exchanged.

"Yeah." The tone made it sound like anything but nice.

"Uh-oh, that doesn't sound good."

"No, not good."

"Oh, dear. Want to talk about it?"

"No, that's alright."

Gwen could sense her reply was not the truth. "Well, why don't you come over to ride this weekend to take your mind off of whatever it is? I know Dancer isn't Marvin, but he really seems to respond to you. Maybe you could come out Saturday morning and spend the weekend?"

"I...I..." the woman on the other end of the line broke down, sobbing.

"Cricket, good heavens, what's the matter?"

"Nothing, nothing," she said, trying to pull herself together. "I, uh, my mother and, and husband number four are moving to Los Angeles."

"Oh, I see," Gwen said softly, "I'm sorry to hear that. But at least they'll just be a flight or two away? You can visit them out there, right?"

"It's not that," Cricket answered, breaking into tears again. "It's...they don't want to pay for Marvin's boarding fees any more. They want me to sell him!"

"Oh Cricket, that's terrible! What—"

"I told her they could keep track of every penny they spend and I'll pay them back when I can, but they want to make a fresh start out there and are getting rid of everything out here. Even my horse," she sobbed. "My mother said I need to get serious about my life, and that I should concentrate on finding a husband and this might be the wakeup call I need!"

Something in Gwen broke. She could feel the young woman's agony over the prospect of losing her trusted companion; she wasn't going to let it happen. Please forgive me Tim, I'll make it up to you, she thought before interrupting. "Cricket, I'll do it."

The crying woman stopped short, confused. "Huh? Do what? What do you mean?"

"I'll pay for Marvin's room and board and you can pay me back later."

"Oh, uh, Gwen that's nice of you-really, really nice of you-but I can't do that. You've already given me too much."

"I'm not giving you anything. Like you said, I'll keep track and you'll pay me back."

"But it gets so expensive, and I don't know how long it will take to pay you...maybe my mother's right. I should just get serious about my life, find a man to take care of me and settle down."

"Stop that," Gwen insisted, plowing ahead. "You're not the kind that needs someone to take care of them. Look, we can make this cheaper for you by bringing him up here. We've got empty stalls, you can use one free of charge, so all you would have to pay for is feed and vet care, when you can."

"Gwen, that's so incredibly nice of you, but I can't. Maybe my mother's right and I should just be a grown up about this. It's not fair to Marvin anyways, only seeing me every once in a while."

"You are already very grown up and you'll settle down when it's right for you. And if Marvin's up here, closer to you, I'm willing to bet he'll see you a lot more."

There was a silence save for some sniffling, and Gwen could sense Cricket's resolve weakening. "But how would we get him here? It would be so expensive to trailer him up."

"We've got a couple of trailers here. We hitch up the smaller one to my truck and drive down Saturday, load him up and bring him back Sunday." The Lady was dismayed at how quickly she seemed to be thinking on the fly and making decisions, scolding her for her recklessness.

"I don't know..."

Gwen pushed forward. "We'll go this weekend."

"I'll pay you back every dime Gwen, I promise, every dime...don't you wasn't ask Tim first?"

"I'll talk it over with him tonight. He'll be fine. So be here early Saturday morning. I'm guessing about an eight hour drive."

The young woman sniffled, sensing the way out that was being offered, her cautious nature making her wonder if there was a catch. Of course there's a catch, her cynical side sneered. But what's the alternative? Sell him? "This is a loan, not a gift, right? You'll keep track of everything I owe you?"

"Every dime. You call and tell them to get the paperwork ready because he's leaving on Sunday."

***

Tim rolled his eyes and shook his head at the news, smiling his acceptance good-naturedly and asking her to consult with him before accepting any more applicants at the Nelson Acres for Wayward Horses. His understanding was amply rewarded at bedtime.

Cricket arrived even earlier than they had agreed Saturday morning, her nerves and excitement obvious to the Nelsons as she stowed her small duffel bag behind the seat of the truck. Tim kissed his wife goodbye with an admonishment to "be careful", and they were off.

The young woman chirped excitedly as they drove, recounting stories of what made Marvin such a wonderful horse, looking forward to having him in her life again. Gwen let her talk, smiling and nodding patiently at the retelling of Cricket's tales, happy to see her so happy.

Eventually she lapsed into silence, drawing her legs up against her and hugging them as she stared at the road, obviously deep in thought.

Gwen glanced at her before returning her attention to the road. "Everything alright?"

"Oh, sorry. Yes." She maintained her drawn-in pose for several miles before speaking again. "Why me?"

Gwen smiled. "Why you what?"

The young woman seemed flustered. She hesitated again, looking at the driver, then back towards the highway, then back to her. "Why are you being so nice to me? I'm sorry—that was rude—I have no right to ask that—I'm sorry. I'm just not good around people. One of my school progress reports said I was 'socially inept'. I don't think I was supposed to see that."

The older woman laughed gently. "You're fine. I appreciate bluntness. And I guess it's my turn to be sorry. I don't have much experience in this whole 'friend' thing. I'm sorry if I'm overdoing it."

"It's not that," Cricket said uncomfortably. "It's just that nobody's ever been this nice to me. My mother thinks you want something from me. I saw how she got two of her husbands so I guess she's got some experience in making trades. I'm sorry, I just don't have a lot of experience in the whole friends thing either, and I'm worried this is all too good to be true. I know what to expect with horses. People, not so much." The young woman continued to stare ahead, hugging her legs.

"It's alright. I can be pretty cynical about people, too. I was even more cynical until last summer when—well, when I made a friend who showed me that it's alright to occasionally trust other people and let them see your human side. I guess you could say she showed me a new way of seeing things.

When I met you at the photo studio and you mentioned how much you missed riding, I got brave and decided a fellow horse lover couldn't be all bad. I also knew how much I would miss riding if I couldn't, so I thought you might like a chance to ride, and then as we got to know each other I found out how nice a person you really are. And then it just seemed like you could use some help from someone who was in a position to help. I'm sorry if I overdid it. Like I said, I'm still learning this whole friend thing."

"You've been a godsend," Cricket said quietly. "I don't know what I would have done without you. I still can't believe anybody would ever do what you did for a stranger. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have. I have a really hard time trusting people, especially after Daniel."

"You're tough and you're smart, so being cynical is probably part of your survival skills. I get that—I always thought it was me—well, me and Tim—against the world. But I'm starting to understand that sometimes exposing just a little vulnerability can be a really scary and worthwhile thing to do. I think it's one of things my friend has been teaching me without me even knowing it. She's sneaky that way. I understand if you don't trust me, though."

"I do trust you, more than anybody else I know, and you're right, it's really scary. So, thank you?"

"You're welcome."

The young woman seemed to relax a bit, unfolding her limbs, not so deep in thought. Still, only the hum of the tires filled the cab of the truck for quite some time.

"And thank you again for the Christmas gifts, especially the socks and underwear," the young woman said quietly as she looked down at her hands in her lap.

"Sorry that's such a boring present, but I figured you might need a fresh supply given your current financial condition."

"You were right about that," Cricket laughed quietly. "I was getting to the point where I was considering going commando a couple of days a week to save on wear and tear on my remaining pairs."

"Commando?"

The young woman blushed. "Oh, uh, you know, no underwear."

Gwen smiled. "Ahh. Commando."

Cricket spoke again after a couple of moments. "I, umm, also want to really thank you for the neck massager...and the other things. They really help with, you know, stress relief."

The older woman grinned. "Good! I'm glad you're using them. I was worried they might have been offensive."

"No—oh God, no! Like I said, it was the most unusual gift I've ever gotten—even stranger than the financial calculator Daniel gave me on our wedding night—but yours are a lot more useful! They're making me wonder if I ever really need a man for...that."

Gwen smiled. "I think you'll find having the right man—or a woman, if that's your thing—for that is even better. The toys are just a nice way to complement that when you're ready for it."

"Wait—you don't think I might be a Lesbian, do you?" Cricket asked quickly. "I mean, I'm not—I like guys, I'm just not ready to deal with one right now!"

"Sorry-sorry," Gwen replied. "I didn't mean to imply that at all. My turn to not be good with people, I guess. I was just saying that if you were inclined that way, that would be alright, too. Just leave yourself open to the possibility that a man or a woman may come into your life someday. There's nothing wrong with either, or both. I can honestly say that Tim is the best thing that ever happened to me, but women can have something to offer, too." She saw the sign for a rest stop up ahead and pulled over to exit. "And now, young lady, if the parking lot is empty enough, you are going to get your first lesson in how to tow and back up a horse trailer."

***

Gwen was satisfied enough with her student's progress that she insisted Cricket take the next driving shift despite her protestations. The two women took their time going down, not in any hurry to get there as the plan was to a good night's sleep before heading to the stables early the next morning and returning home. The drivers switched off every couple of hours, their occasional conversation lapsing into more mundane topics such as the roadside farms and attractions they were passing, Gwen thankful her passenger had not seemed to taken slight to the unintended inference as to her sexuality. She was at the wheel when she pulled it into the motel's parking lot early that evening.

Gwen hopped out of the cab and looked at her friend. "Coming in?"

"I didn't book a room. I thought I'd save some money and sleep in the truck tonight. Would it be alright if I use your bathroom?"

"You are not sleeping in the truck! I wouldn't have expected you to get a room—I booked one with twin queens, if you don't mind sharing."

Cricket's eyes brightened at the prospect of a soft bed. "Alright, but only if you put half the room on my tab."

"I have to pay for it whether you're in it or not," Gwen pointed out, tactfully ignoring why she needed a room in south Florida in the first place. "C'mon. Grab your bag." They freshened up before taking a half-mile walk down the road to a chain restaurant, Gwen refusing the young woman's offer to pay for dinner before agreeing to "add her half to the boarding bill." The older woman did insist on paying for a bottle of wine they drank to celebrate a horse and rider's reunion, and Cricket was in high spirits as they started their walk back.

The alcohol made Cricket bold enough to ask the question she had been turning over in her head since the first rest stop. "Gwen," she finally said slowly, "you can tell me it's none of my business, and I'm sure it's not, but...you make it sound like...back in the truck this morning, almost like, you've had some experience with, uhh, well, somebody other than Tim?"

Gwen was quiet for a moment, finally asking slowly, "what is it you want to know?"

Cricket stared down at the sidewalk. "Well, I got the impression Tim was the only man you've ever been with, right?"

"Right."

"So, it kind of sounded like in the truck you know what it's like to be with a woman?"

Stonewall, shut up, lie, don't you dare say a word, the Lady hissed. The Slut just sat back and smiled, feeling the effect of the drink. "Cricket, if I tell you something, you have to promise to never say a word to anybody. Can you do that?"

The young woman continued to walk as she twisted her upper body to face her companion. "What? Yes, of course!"

"Are you sure you want to know? Once you hear it, you can't unhear it."

"I'm sure—if you really want to tell me. If you don't, I understand."

Gwen again hesitated. Last chance for secrecy. "I've been with two women."

The young woman's face reflected the shock even though she had guessed what was coming. "Like, in a relationship? A total relationship?"

Gwen could guess what she meant by 'total'. "Not exactly. The first one was when I was young and naïve, and was purely physical." Close enough, the Slut agreed. "

"And what about the second one?"

"It's hard to describe...not a relationship like what I have with Tim...more like a friendship that sometimes has a physical side to it."

Gwen had the young woman's undivided attention. "And were these before you met Tim?"

"The first one was, yes. She and I stopped...doing that...after Tim and I met. The second one...well, the second one started last summer."

Cricket grabbed her arm and stopped them both. "Oh my God! Wait! Gwen, are you cheating on Tim?"

"No! Tim knows about it, and he's alright with it," she said slowly, trying to show more calm than she felt. "He knows I love him, and this friend—well, we're just friends who like to give each other physical as well as emotional comfort." She shrugged and smiled apologetically.

Cricket's hand still grasped Gwen's arm, her face still showing the shock of the revelation. "So, you two are friends with benefits?"

"I've never heard it put that way, but yes, I guess that's one way of putting it."

"I used to hear some of the girls I rode with referring to some of the guys they hung around with as friends with benefits, and a couple of them would throw out hints that some of the other girls had a friends with benefits thing going on with girls," Cricket explained. "And the second guy I went to bed with asked me if I wanted to be his fuckbuddy—sorry, not a very nice word- after he finished. I figured that's what he meant and told him I'd think about it, but I never talked to him again."

"I suppose that's another term for it, but I like friends with benefits more, or better yet, just friends."

The women started walking again. "Fair enough. And Tim really does know about this?"

"He does," Gwen insisted, "and my friend's husband does, too."

"That is so wild. Men are impossible to figure out. Does your friend have a name?"

Gwen smiled. "She does, but I'll respect her privacy and just call her my friend for now, if that's alright."

"I understand."

They walked in silence for several moments, each lost in their thoughts, the hotel growing larger in the deepening dusk. "Now that you know, do you still feel comfortable sharing a room? I can see if they have another one just for you if you like."

"No, I'm fine," Cricket said with a smile. "I am not running up my bill any more than I absolutely have to. I'm going to pay you back as quickly as possible, you'll see."

Despite her bravado, the young woman seemed nervous as they entered the room, unsure what might or should happen next. "Pick whichever bed you want," Gwen said quietly as she took her sleepwear from her bag and entered the bathroom. She left her bra on, slipping on a long t-shirt over it; thankful she had decided to pack a pair of gym shorts. She stepped back into the room to see that Cricket had also changed in her absence, now similarly dressed in a t-shirt and shorts. The young woman sat against the headboard of the bed farthest from the bathroom, her legs drawn up and hugged against her chest as they had been in the truck that morning.

Gwen panicked a bit, regretting what she had told her young friend. "I'm sorry Cricket. I didn't mean to frighten you. Really, I can see if they have another room for you—I'll pay for it—"

"No, I really want to stay here," the young woman quickly replied, "if that's okay. But, would you mind if I ask you some more questions about you and your friend?"

"Of course," Gwen replied, primly sitting on the edge of the other mattress. "Go ahead."

"Tell me if I get too personal and I'll stop, I promise." Cricket hesitated, gathering her words, looking at the bedspread beneath her feet. "Like, whose idea was it to be friends with benefits? Did one of you just say, hey you wanna...you know?" The young woman blushed an even deeper shade of crimson.

"No, not quite like that. She told me about how she and her friends in college were, uhh, friends with benefits, and that she still was with another friend of hers. So I guess you can say it was her idea, but we never really talked about it in specifics. It just kind of happened, I guess."

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