tagRomanceBrownies for Two

Brownies for Two


Brownies for Two

Shelley slammed the front door and rushed to the kitchen, leaving a trail of purse, shoes, jacket and blouse along the way. She sighed as the cool air hit her skin. Unreasonably hot outside for February, but Oklahoma was prone to unreasonable, unseasonable weather at any time.

She flipped the oven dial to 350 and plucked an egg and the half stick of butter from the fridge. "Brownies for two," she thought, and grinned. She knew the recipe backwards and forwards -- heck, she had adapted "Brownies for Two" from her favorite recipe -- and couldn't wait to get the batter in the oven.

Cracking the egg into a small glass bowl, Shelley set it to warm under the stove's vent. From the cabinet, she grabbed flour, salt, Mexican vanilla, cinnamon, semi-sweet chocolate, and white sugar and dark brown sugar. A simple recipe, really, but such a delightful combination of ingredients. She paused over the sugars and grinned again. White and dark brown. How appropriate!

After whisking the warmed egg, sugars, salt, cinnamon and vanilla -- that Mexican vanilla was a real find, and added just the right note to chocolate treats -- she put the butter and chocolate in the microwave to melt. The oven hadn't even hit 300 yet, but already she had almost finished the batter. She glanced at the clock. He'd be here in an hour. Just enough time to get the brownies cooked and cooling, and still grab a shower to wash off the day's sweat before perhaps working up another, more pleasurable, one.

She had no idea if that would actually happen, and she didn't know if she even wanted it to happen -- but she liked thinking about it. That surprised her. She had promised herself never to risk another man again. Yet here she was, not only considering Mitch Miller, but enjoying the idea. After all the pain of her marriage and breakup, who would have thought it possible?

It had taken her a few months to notice Mitch after she had started her new job at the hospital -- since well before her divorce, Shelley had made a habit of not seeking male attention, which had somehow morphed into not seeing her male colleagues as men at all. But one day at the cafeteria, she had happened to sit at the next table as he comforted the parents of a child with leukemia. The warmth of his big brown eyes had drawn her own gaze. He had given her a brief smile, then returned his focus to the distraught couple.

She had done some discreet asking around, and learned from Norma in Admin about his divorce from one of the other doctors. They had remained good friends, Norma had said. That tidbit had floored her. Friends! With an ex? She couldn't imagine a relationship with an ex that didn't involve a restraining order. But she had seen Mitch and Susie together a couple of times, and they did seem easy and amicable with each other, even hugging as they parted. Shelley guessed Mitch's counseling training had something to do with it. Still, it seemed totally unnatural.

After that, she couldn't seem to stop thinking about him. She even broke her own rule against fraternizing and engineered a couple of "chance" meetings with him in the hallway. Both had gone beautifully -- off duty, the pediatric counselor was open, friendly and flatteringly curious about her. He just seemed so unlike the other men she had known. That figured, she thought wryly -- a professional mental health counselor might actually possess some mental health!

She noticed he started visiting her end of the hospital. At first, she dismissed the idea that he might be seeking her out. But each time, he came right over to her, joking with her, sharing the office gossip, asking her opinion of the latest news, lightly touching her shoulder and arms, making her feel interesting, attractive, special.

At first, she had stammered out quick responses, completely flustered by this development. But it didn't take long for her to relax and match his level of flirting and banter. Indeed, their exchanges seemed to provide Shelley with just the tonic she needed -- she felt sharper mentally than she had in years.

The situation, and Shelley's excitement and confusion over it, had not surprised her therapist in the least.

"You're a sensitive, sensual, caring woman, Shelley," she had said, apparently amused at her client's confession. "All humans need love and companionship, especially ones who have endured great hurt. You knew that eventually, your need for affection and tenderness was going to override your need to be safe. So if that wall you built around your soul is crumbling -- and it's about time, I might add -- why not let it?"

So she did. After a couple of months, when he asked her to fill out a foursome with a married couple at a local comedy club, she had accepted eagerly. And the four other evenings they had spent getting to know each other outside the office had proven even more therapeutic. Each time, Shelley had come home pleased and excited, still feeling his arm around her shoulder or his gentle kiss on her cheek. She felt like 35 going on 16.

While she felt secure and happy with his intelligence and humor, his physical presence distracted her -- so much that she had trouble getting anything done when he wandered into her area. Beautiful chocolate-colored skin, not too tall -- maybe a couple of inches taller than herself, which would put him at the perfect kissing height -- and fit, but not demoralizingly so. She wondered how Mitch looked shirtless, how his skin would feel under her hands, whether his lips would prove as sexy and soft in reality as they did in her fantasies. That was as far as she permitted her thoughts to go at work. She did have a job to do, after all!

At home, in the safety of her own bed, her fantasies went much further. In her mind, they'd had all kinds of sex: wild, gentle, passionate, lusty, slow, even fun. All sorts of scenarios, too, ones she had never tried, others she had enjoyed with her first love. She could lie there in the dark just thinking about Mitch and become as aroused and slippery as if he were actually there.

After stirring the melted butter and chocolate into smoothness, she tested it with a finger. Not too hot for the egg mixture, she decided, and combined them, whisking until she achieved a thick, flawless fluid. After folding in the flour, she gave the pan a spritz of nonstick spray and poured in the batter. Perfect! She turned to the oven, ready to open the door, and frowned.

The temperature display now read 255, and dropped to 250 as she stared at it. A glance confirmed that the preheat dial still stood at 350. She nearly dropped the pan of batter as she lunged for the dials and twisted them. Nothing happened. Well, crap! Of all the days for her old oven to die, why this one?

Calm down, she told herself. How can you make this work?

She closed her eyes and breathed deeply. The toaster oven! She could use the toaster oven. Assuming she could find it. She didn't actually recall unpacking it in the move.

Twenty minutes and one painful encounter with a cabinet door later, Shelley pulled the toaster from its hiding place in the garage. Tucking it under one arm, she rubbed her temple with her free hand and gave a grim little smile as she headed back to the kitchen. Mitch had no idea what she had just endured for these damn brownies! She shook her head. He hadn't forced her to cook, so she couldn't blame him.

Another five minutes saw the oven cleaned up and ready for action. Gingerly, Shelley turned the dial and felt a wave a relief as the heating elements turned a deep orange. All was not lost!

Or was it? Mitch would arrive in 15 minutes. Shelley bolted for the shower, shucking off the rest of her clothes and stepping under the chilly water with a mixture of pleasant shivers and panic. She hated to appear disorganized and incompetent, but so far, her evening had featured nothing but chaos. Well, perhaps it would improve when Mitch arrived. She certainly hoped so. She dropped her shoulders and willed herself to relax. Fun, Shelley, she told herself. This evening should be about fun. How long had it been since she actually enjoyed Valentine's Day? She shook her head, unable to recall.

She had one towel wrapped around her with another soaking up the water from her mop of dark blond hair when the doorbell rang. Damn! He was early. Closing her eyes, Shelley sighed and secured her towel. She could hardly leave him on the porch. She trudged downstairs and opened the door.

Mitch smiled as if about to speak, then simply stared at her. Even to her mortified eyes, he looked great in just jeans and a white shirt. Her nose caught a tendril of scent -- cologne? aftershave? -- which made her even more aware of her complete disarray.

"What has happened to you?" he asked, reaching out to brush her temple. She flinched, anticipating pain, but his feather touch didn't hurt at all.

"Banged my head on a cabinet. I wanted to make some brownies, but my oven died, and I had to find my toaster oven, and that's when this happened."

He sniffed and smiled, dropping his hand to her shoulder. "That must be that heavenly smell, then. But you didn't have to go to any trouble, Shelley. I thought we'd just go have a drink and relax, like we talked about. Remember -- a low-key Valentine's evening?"

"I'm a good baker," she said miserably. "I wanted to surprise you."

His arm around her shoulder felt comforting and she leaned into him.

"I'm sure you're a fantastic cook, but I don't want you on the injured list!"

Shelley started to smile. He was acting far more compassionate than her ex would have, and she tried to blink back a quick tear before he could notice.

His fingers found her jaw and gently turned her face to his while his other arm tightened around her shoulders. She couldn't meet his warm gaze at first. When she finally did, Shelley couldn't believe the moisture she saw there.

"Who has hurt you so badly?"

Her gaze dropped back to his chest.

"My ex. A long time ago. Not your worry."

"I beg to differ, my dear. I like you very much, and your tears do worry me. I want you to associate me with fun and pleasure, not ... aborted showers and brownie-related trauma."

She had to smile at that, and he smiled with her. Their eyes met again, and he leaned in to kiss her cheek. He didn't press her, and she once more felt secure.

"Not that I haven't thought about you greeting me at your front door wearing nothing but a towel and a smile, but you should go get dressed," he said. "Otherwise, I can't be held responsible for what I might do.'

He winked so outrageously that she laughed, her feelings of shame dissipating.

"How do you know I didn't plan all this?" she replied, flirting back.

"Just a feeling," he said. "Now run along before I change my mind."

She dashed up the stairs, hoping he couldn't see her body trembling. She felt like a total fool -- what had made her flash back to her marriage to Greg, anyway? The two men were nothing alike. She sighed. But Mitch had been very sweet about it, thank goodness.

As she put on her makeup, she remembered the brownies. Trotting back to the top of the stairs, she shouted, "Could you take the brownies out of the oven?"

"Already did," he yelled back.

"Thanks! Down in a few minutes."

She smiled. Quite the gentleman!

She rushed through her post-shower rituals, standing naked in her closet as she decided what to wear. He had on jeans and a dress shirt, so not too formal, but not yoga pants, either. Absently, she patted her hip, wishing it weren't quite so well-rounded. Greg -- there he was again, and why did he have to keep intruding tonight? -- had often taunted her about her fat butt, just as her father had. It had taken years for her to grasp that what Greg termed his high standards were simply a way to keep her in line. Even with that knowledge, it had proved awfully difficult to get his carping voice out of her head.

Stepping into pale pink panties and a matching bra, Shelley chose a pair of white slacks Greg would have hated, and her favorite periwinkle blouse. A simple pair of beige canvas shoes completed her casual look.

She found Mitch in her living room, gazing at her books.

"See anything you like?"

He started, and whirled around to see Shelley grinning at him, green eyes sparkling. His own eyes widened as he took in her transformation.

"I see a lot here to like," he said. "Especially now!"


"And you're not?"

She shook her head virtuously. "Never."

He cocked an eyebrow at her.

"Except sometimes."

He laughed, and stepped over to her.

"I didn't really get a proper greeting when I arrived," he explained. "So could I have a hug now?"

She paused, appearing to consider the idea.

"Well, you did rescue my brownies from certain death. And you were awfully sweet to me. So I suppose you rate a hug. Maybe even a kiss."


With that, his arms went around her. Their strength made her want to melt right into him. She nearly moaned as their bodies met, exactly as she had imagined it so many times. Her soft breasts pressed into his chest and she felt a tingle of arousal. One of his arms slid down her back to take a firmer grip on her waist, and her own embrace around his shoulders and neck tightened.

They stood there for a long moment, savoring the sensations of hips against hips, thighs against thighs, cheeks against cheeks. He pulled his head back to look at her face. Her eyes were half-closed and he kissed her forehead, then her lips.

Shelley sighed with pleasure. His lips felt so soft and gentle, and she wanted much, much more of them. Her left hand slid up and curved around his neck as she pressed as much of her body against his as she could. She suddenly felt so hungry for him! So much time had passed since anyone had offered her such sweet affection.

He broke off sooner than she would have liked.

"You're a very good kisser," he murmured. "Your lips feel wonderful against mine."

She smiled. "I was about to say the same thing to you. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a kiss so much."

"Me too."

"You want to sit down and do that again?"

"Only if you'll sit on my lap."

"Really?" Shelley couldn't believe her ears. Greg had never allowed that. The one time she had tried, shortly after their wedding, he had shoved her away, saying her weight would snap his legs if she sat down on him.


Mitch sat down on the soft leather couch, smiled and opened his arms. Taking a deep breath, Shelley eased onto his lap until he grabbed her waist and planted her on his thighs.

"I'm not fragile, sweetie," he said. "I won't break."

"I'm a few pounds heavier than I'd like to be," she began. He put a finger on her lips.

"Don't be a knucklehead," he said, and despite herself, she giggled under his finger. "You have a fantastic, sexy body, and I can't wait to get to know it better!"

"I don't think..."

"Seriously, you are a beautiful, sexy woman."

Feeling silly, Shelley gave in.

"If you say so. What makes me sexy, anyway?"

He smiled. "Well, everything! There's so much about you to like. There's your face," and he brought his fingers up to lightly trace the line of her cheek. She flinched.


"I, uh, don't like having my face touched."

He gave her a sharp look, but asked no questions, instead moving his hand down.

"I like the side of your neck," and she shivered as his fingers fluttered on the sensitive skin there. Her nipples showed through her shirt, but if he noticed, he gave no sign.

"You have a very nice clavicle," he continued, tracing her prominent collarbone.

"My family has always had nice clavicles," she said haughtily. They both chuckled.

"...and lovely shoulders, and arms." Goosebumps appeared as he ran his fingertips down her deltoids and biceps, "and such soft hands. I can't wait to feel them touch me."


"Well, I was hoping we might get to know each other a little better tonight, and maybe do some kissing and touching. But that's up to you, of course."


He gestured at the living room. "Your house, your rules."

Shelley laughed and leaned against him, comfortable in a way she hadn't felt in a long time.

"Sounds good."

"Should I finish praising the body parts I like?"

"There are more?"

"Many, many more! Such as your gorgeous breasts." He hesitated before giving them the same feather-light treatment he had given her neck. She inhaled deeply, then smiled into his eyes.

"That feels nice!"

"That was my goal!"

"Beautiful belly," and as his fingers danced on her abdominals, Shelley smiled, glad her sit-ups each morning had paid off. She tensed a little as his hands moved further down, but relaxed as they veered to her thighs.

"Luscious legs," and his touch became firmer as he stroked all the way to her shin before returning via her outer thigh and curving down to her butt.

"And this is one of my favorite parts. I have been wanting to get my hands on your ass for weeks, Shelley. And you know what?"


"It was worth the wait!" and he squeezed her gently. She gasped, then settled into his hands.

"That felt good too!"

Their eyes met and for a long moment, they said nothing.

"There are lots of things we can do that feel good, Shelley. I am open to anything you want to do. I'd love to make you mine, and be yours, too."

She released a breath she had not known she was holding. "Right now, I don't know what I want."

He hugged her to him.

"I can see that. You want to tell me more about it?"

"Maybe later, Dr. Miller. I'd rather kiss you some more right now."

"Sounds heavenly."

She leaned down to touch his lips with hers, and again had that melting sensation as their mouths met. Greedy for his affection, she pressed against him a little harder. His grip on her tightened, and a hand curved around her breast, caressing. The heat of their embrace intensified, but she had the sudden urge to break free.

"What's wrong?"

"I'm not used to this. It's been a while."

He seemed more amused than anything else.

"How long?"

"Since I kissed a man? Four years."

His eyes widened as the smile died from his face and his hand dropped to the couch.

"Four years!? Please tell me you're joking."

She shook her head.

"Wish I were, but no, it's really been that long."


"My ex put me through the wringer. I didn't want to have anything to do with men for a very long time."

He stared into her eyes, and for once, she didn't drop her gaze.

"I don't mean to pry, but ... what happened?"

"Well, I guess he was a classic bully. He accused me of having an affair, which I didn't, and then emptied out our accounts and left me with no money."


She shifted her focus to his shoulder as she spoke.

"Um ... he ... um ..."

"What did he do, sweet Shelley?"

"He got drunker than usual one night, and well, basically, um, hit me until I fell down. It wasn't the first time he'd hit me, but it was the worst."

She could feel him stiffen, but his arm around her waist was gentle.


"He only stopped beating me when my arm broke -- I fell down on it wrong. I had to go to the hospital that night. Not ours. The other one. They were so nice to me."

"Oh, Shelley."

She looked down to see tears starting down his face.

"Why are you crying?"

"Shelley, please tell me you haven't lived your whole life with nobody to cry with you when you hurt."

"I guess I have. Dad wasn't any picnic either."

"Sweet Shelley."

"It's OK, Mitch. It was a long time ago."

He took a deep breath.

"Well, I'll promise you one thing, my dear: I don't put up with that kind of crap. If I ever meet your ex, I'll fucking pound him into hamburger and feed him to the neighborhood dogs!"

She laughed, feeling the release of tensions she hadn't noticed, and relaxed against him.

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