tagChain StoriesF6: Of Love and Laundry

F6: Of Love and Laundry


This story is a submission to the sixth Friendly Anonymous Writing Challenge (FAWC) and a tribute to the founder of FAWC, slyc_willie, who we lost unexpectedly in October 2015. The true author of this story is kept anonymous until the end of the competition. Authors base their story on a list of four items. Their choices included the following letters: S L Y C. Each item was used in the story. There are no prizes given in this challenge; this is simply a friendly competition.

The list for this story includes: lecturer, licorice, laundry room, lech

* * * *

"Dawkins is such an asshole," Jim grumbled.

Chloe made an affirmative consolatory noise as she continued to take clean dishes out of the dishwasher, wipe them dry and put them away. Her husband hung around, leaning on the kitchen counter, pushing his finger round his plate to collect toast crumbs off it.

"How did the interviews go?" Chloe asked obligingly as she stacked mugs on their shelf.

Jim snorted. "That fucking idiot. He tried to get us to take some wet behind the ears kid for the lectureship, some protégé of his from his previous institution. There was another candidate who was head and shoulders above the rest, already got a couple of papers published -- and in my field, someone I can do good work with. Dawkins just couldn't see it, kept driveling on about her teaching experience not being up to par -- like anyone cares about teaching for a lectureship. He's got it in for me, jealous because of the research grants I'm pulling in."

"More likely, he's being so dumb because she's a woman!" Chloe's attention had been caught now. She turned from the cutlery holder full of sparkling spoons and put her hands on her comely plump hips, jutted her large breasts up at Jim. Her dark eyes flashed indignantly.

"Yeah, like an attractive young woman can't have a brain," Jim conceded.

"Oh!" Chloe started laughing. "An attractive young woman."

"Well, sure, I suppose," Jim felt suddenly embarrassed. He tried to suppress a flush of color rising in his cheeks, stiffen his frowning gaze, ignore a different stiffness in the crotch of his pants. He shuffled, turning his eyes from the small plump woman who was laughing as she continued to put away the clean cutlery. "My point is, what's that got to do with the appointment?"

"I hope you and the other fuddy-duddies won't find her hash tag distractingly sexy," Chloe sniggered.

"For God's sake," Jim said angrily. "It's a professional working environment. Nobody gives a fuck what she looks like." He thought about Dr. Helen Buchan. She was a natural redhead with curving hips and a slim waist apparent even in a somber gray skirt suit. She had answered all their questions with an engaging grave intelligence then suddenly, at the end of her interview, she cracked a joke. Her eyes -- were they gray or green? -- sparkled. A mouth nude of lipstick but so moist and succulent that makeup might even have made it less attractive, puckered in a kiss of a laugh.

He suspected that he was not the only one of the panel of senior academics distracted from her presentation by her legs as she walked up and down in front of them, speaking to her PowerPoint slides. Fortunately she had prepared handouts with sufficient information in them for himself and the other panel members to argue down the Department Head's asinine objections to her appointment.

"Oh yeah?" Chloe said. "None of you fuddy-duddies give a fuck for an attractive woman?" There was an uncomfortable pause. "Here are your sandwiches, honey," Chloe's rich dark voice deepened with affection, she came and gave him a kiss on the cheek, handing him a lunch box. She put her own lunch in the bag she had prepared much earlier, even before she had fed the two kids and got them out of the door to school.

"Would you like me to drop you at the shelter?" Jim offered.

"Awwww, thank you," Chloe said. "I need to be back early this afternoon, for the delivery of that new set of golf clubs you ordered. I better take my car."

Technically Dr. Buchan's appointment came under the aegis of the Head of Teaching: Matt Carver. However it was generally understood that Helen Buchan had been appointed because her research interests were close to those of Jim's team so it fell to Jim to meet her on her first day: show her her office, introduce her to the department administrators.

Normally he just wore an open-necked shirt to work. In honor of the occasion he picked out a gray silk tie the kids had given him one Christmas. (He would have done the same if the appointee had been male, of course.)

Helen Buchan was clad in a figure-hugging warm red dress that flattered curves which needed no enhancement of their sexy appeal. Jim managed with difficulty to keep his eyes out of a plunging neckline above which danced a golden pendant in a shape he could not concentrate sufficiently to make out. Thankfully once they got seriously down to it ... down to work, she would be in a white lab coat. It wouldn't matter a toss what she wore underneath. Well, one or two of the team might toss off thinking about it but that would be nothing to do with the job in hand ... the collective tasks of the project team.

Helen looked suitably impressed by the large office she'd been given -- as well she might. Its late occupant had been an emeritus Professor of some eminence.

"You may have to share the space," Jim warned her. "We got you this room so you could be close to the team, not down with the other lecturers."

"Thank you," Helen was tall but by dint of lowering her head she managed to look through her lashes at Prof. Hunter when she smiled. He felt like a favorite uncle. He dashed off a grin at her and suggested they go down to the lab. His less senior colleague was working from home that day, because of yet another childcare crisis, but the two research assistants would be setting up the next stage of the experiment. Oh, and there was Davey the technician too.

"That would be great!" Helen enthused. "Nice tie," she murmured as he showed her out of the door.

"Uh ... thanks," Jim stammered. He wished later he had murmured back: "Nice dress." On further reflection he was glad he hadn't.

In a burst of generosity, Jim took the team out to lunch and treated them to a couple of bottles of wine. To his annoyance, Davey sat himself next to Helen and spent the meal staring down her cleavage. Distracted by this, Jim lost the chance to get the junior team members talking about the project and was obliged to listen to them grumbling about the lack of affordable accommodation in the city.

"It's the bloody students," laughed Liam (he was in the second year of his PhD), oozing Irish charm at Helen Buchan. "They price us out of everything, so they do."

"I've got a list of realtors who have places to rent," even Brian, the shy steady one who had nearly finished his PhD, was coming out of his shell for the new colleague.

"Thanks," Helen said, leaning over the table to place a hand on Brian's. This brought her cleavage with the golden ... thing dangling in it right into Jim's eyeline. "I've got a place, though. I've taken up a position in one of the dormitories. I keep an eye on the girls and get a little apartment to myself. Even get paid for it so I can save up for a deposit on a place of my own."

"Sounds grand," Liam enthused.

"I have to do my laundry in the communal laundry room," Helen said, leaning back again and flashing her gray-green eyes round at the table of men. Everyone was flushed and excited -- with the wine -- by this time. "The machines get up enough angular velocity to give you quite a ride," her lovely long lashes dropped over one sparkling eye in a wink.

Davey choked on his wine and spluttered into his pasta puttanesca.

The Hunters had a regular weekend fixture as a family. They would nearly always spend Sundays with Jim's colleague and his family and with neighbors they were friends with. Jim Hunter and Les Bryant had been squash partners as well as longstanding colleagues but Les had never quite been a match for Jim's aggression on the court. Fortunately Chloe had found out that her neighbor-friend's surgeon husband was a keen squash player in need of a partner. The three families all had kids of the same age; Chloe's willingness in an emergency to take the kids when they were younger (the two other mothers worked full time) drew them closer together. Most Sundays the men, and perhaps Rita Bryant who was an amateur champion, played golf in the morning then everyone repaired to one of the houses for lunch.

They were at the Mendozas' house that Sunday, gathered up in the kitchen as usual sipping wine and chatting while the kids played all over the house. Frank Mendoza was ribbing Jim for skipping on their match the previous Tuesday.

"I had to go through exam papers with our new lecturer," Jim protested. "She's not familiar with our system."

"Oh-h-h," Rita Bryant giggled. "From the sound of it, anyone could be excused missing a mere squash match to spend one-on-one time with her instead."

Jim felt the irritating blush rising in his cheeks. He frowned and managed to keep from fingering his open collar. He simply smiled in a pitying way, like Rita had no business to make insinuations about another working woman.

He repressed the memory of Helen Buchan, scooting her chair in close beside his at his desk, leaning in to look at the suggestion he had written on her draft exam paper. Her finely manicured finger with the glossy polished nail had come to rest so close to his finger that they were almost touching. That way she had of tilting her head down so that in spite of her height she was looking up at you through her lashes with a cunning smile. She was so close, her perfume came in hazy warm alluring wafts up his nostrils. He sat back in his chair, moving his finger from hers, from the question he was indicating. She sat back too, the golden pendant flashing back to bounce above the deep cleft of her cleavage. He sat forward to hide the tenting erection in the crotch of his pants.

"...expand the team," he had missed what Les was saying but he knew it must be about their hopes to get funding for a third research assistant.

"You need to expand to four," Chloe remarked. "With the university regulations, you could ask for some of Dr. Buchan's teaching time to be allocated to PhD supervision then. That way, she would have more time for the project rather than non-specific undergraduate teaching."

"God, you're right!" Les laughed. "You're always so on the ball with these things, Chloe."

Jim grinned and slipped an arm around the familiar curve of her shoulders. She was so much smaller than him so it was natural for her to look up at him when she smiled. He used to call her his pocket rocket. What kids he and she had been, he thought wistfully.

"How are things at the shelter?" Rita asked.

"We're like you guys," Chloe joked, "always chasing funding." There was no real comparison between the shelter for battered wives where Chloe volunteered two mornings per week, and the prestigious well-funded research team Jim headed up. The women and children at the shelter survived on chicken-feed handouts.

"We've got a big funding application for some new money through a crime prevention grant program," Chloe said. "Trouble is, we're not really prevention -- we're picking up the pieces afterwards. The money will probably go to some asshat bunch of guys who put up posters saying: 'Get so drunk you can't hit her properly then you won't leave a mark'."

The men laughed uneasily. Rita said she wished she could do more and offered to take the kids after school one day so Chloe could work on the application. "You have my kids often enough when Les and I both have to work," she said. "I'll look it through and make some recommendations about legal aspects too." Rita was a family lawyer and often represented the women from the shelter.

"That would really help!" Chloe said. "Hey, one of the women at the shelter told me the funniest story. She saw this kid's picture on Facebook of a stick figure woman holding what looks like a pole, with a group of men applauding her. Under the picture is a note to the kid's teacher saying: Dear Miss Jones. I would like to explain that I am not a pole dancer. Last winter I shoveled the snow from our sidewalk before any of the guys got around to it, and all my neighbors came out to applaud me for it. The picture is of me holding the handle of my snow shovel."

The group broke up with laughter. Karen Mendoza was shouting from the oven: "What's so funny? What is it?"

"Let me give you a hand. Ben! Sarah! Come and lay the table," Frank went to help Karen with the food, still laughing.

After lunch, the men loaded the dishwasher and made coffee. The women cozied up in the living room, expelling a couple of recalcitrant kids who tried to sneak in to watch YouTube videos on the TV.

"So," Rita turned to Karen with a snigger. "How was the show?"

Karen was still cradling half a glass of red wine. She looked up from it, sniggering in reply. "Oh my God," she said. "I was a bit ... when Frank said his team wanted to go to the burlesque! I thought that was stripping. One of the nurses has been going to classes, they do a group act at the show, and she asked the team to come and support her. Well! I like Cindy. She insisted it would be fun, not sleazy, so I agreed.

"It was just so funny! She was right, it's not a bit sleazy," Rita made a mock face of regret. "No no, it is sexy. In a good way. They have these lovely costumes, the women are all shapes and sizes. They're enjoying themselves, the audience is enjoying themselves. I was hoarse with screaming the next day! and not just from whooping and hollering at the show." Karen sniggered and confessed: "By the time we got home, Frank was so worked up from seeing all those fabulous women in their garters, he hustled me out of the cab and straight upstairs -- that's the best sex I've had in years."

Rita fell about laughing. Chloe made a polite smile.

"That's not all. He had already got me what I'd asked for Christmas: a casserole dish. The next day we went online, before you brought the kids back, Chloe. He ordered me the most beautiful corset: rosettes, ribbons, garters. I can't wait for Christmas Day this year! although I'll have to open that one with Frank in private."

"We should go to a show together," Rita suggested eagerly.

"Definitely," Karen exclaimed. "It's more of a women's thing. We girls should make a night out of it."

"I'm not sure it's for me," Chloe said.

"Honestly, Chloe," Karen said. "It's all about celebrating women's bodies. Feminist. It's not a strip tease. Come on, give it a go at least. There's a show on in January, we can have a post-Christmas night out. You'll have worked hard enough for it."

Chloe rolled her eyes and stuck her tongue out. The other women would go back to parents who did most of the cooking at Christmas. Chloe would not only have her parents to stay, Jim's difficult mother and his sister's family would all come over to be cooked for and to pick fights with each other which Chloe would have to mediate.

"Come on, Chloe," Rita urged.

"I'll see," Chloe temporised.

"That's not like you," Karen said. "You were quiet at lunch, too. Are you OK? Everything alright with Jim?"

"I know he's spending more time at work with the new lecturer," Rita added. "But that's normal, she's new and quite young, isn't she? She needs supervision."

"Oh gosh, it's not that!" Chloe exclaimed. "Awww ... it's, I found a lump in my boob." To her alarm tears started to well up in her eyes as she confessed this. It must be the wine, she thought. "It's nothing, even the doctor said it's probably just fatty tissue. But you can't help wondering."

"Oh my goodness!" Rita came straight over to sit by her and put an arm around her. "Why didn't you tell us? Have you been fretting about that all this time on your own?"

"No! of course not," Chloe managed to brush the tear away from her lashes, but she sat back gratefully into Rita's embrace. "I'm way too busy with the kids and the shelter and whatever to fret about anything. The doctor's sending me for a breast exam next week, it'll be fine."

"Do you want someone to come with you?" Karen asked. "Is Jim going with you?"

Chloe laughed. "What, take a day off work?" she scoffed. "No way. I haven't even told him. No sense in worrying him. He has enough on his plate at work. It will all be fine -- I'll tell him afterwards, so he doesn't have to worry about it."

"I'll come with you," Rita offered.

"I'll be fine!" Chloe protested. "You two have to work too. It's just a half hour appointment, and I mean to go to the mall afterwards, since I'll have to be that way. God, it's nothing, I'll be fine." She sat up and smiled at her friends.

In the kitchen, the coffee was being neglected as Frank regaled the other men with his version of the night out at the burlesque.

"Not only that," he laughed. "Karen's chosen this totally sweet corset from an online store as her Christmas present from me."

"Man, that's a present for you, not from you!" Les exclaimed.

Jim thought of Chloe's matronly body in a corset. He felt strangely embarrassed. What did a corset look like? He had a vague unpleasant image of some white restrictive Victorian thing with ... whalebone? Like a straitjacket. Maybe if he searched online at work. Or would the university filters block the images out?

Would that be the kind of thing a young woman like Helen Buchan wore? Something ... in red and black with garters? He pretended to laugh heartily along with the other men at Frank's good luck and skill in persuading Karen to let him buy her a corset.

He had a whiskey while Chloe got the kids to bed that night. When she came down and looked in the living-room, he said: "Hey! Sounds like the Mendozas had fun on their night out."

"Yeah, I was glad I could take the kids for them," Chloe said, coming a little way into the room.

"Frank said he's going to get Karen a corset for Christmas!" Jim laughed.

"Oh God," a look of distaste came over Chloe's face. "At our ages. Like she's some object for him to ogle over."

"Yeah," Jim said. "Do you want to watch a show?"

"I must finish the ironing," Chloe said.

Later he lay next to Chloe's compact small curvy body in bed, passing his eyes unseeing over the pages of a prize-winning novel on his Kindle. As usual, Chloe was buried deep in a paperback romance. She could get them in bundles of three or ten at a time from the thrift stores: wrapped like candy in lurid shimmering covers, usually with a doe-eyed woman draped against a firm-lipped strong man.

When she turned out her light, he mechanically did likewise. He tried to think of Chloe in some nice underwear. Once there had been a red set with spots that he had liked. His pocket rocket! It was a long time since she had sprung on him, saying: "The pocket rocket is ready to get on the launching mechanism!" When had they last even ... done it? Six months ago? Did he get a birthday fuck this year? No, they went out to dinner with their friends and were both too tired when they got back in.

His mind relaxing as he drifted to sleep, he was jolted into consciousness by the thought of Helen Buchan in something flimsy like the women wore on the covers of Chloe's books. The idea stalked sneering through his mind, kicking aside the mundane images of his wife in red spotted panties.

He stole a sideways peek at Chloe. Was it wrong to have sex with your wife while excited by thoughts of another woman? Chloe appeared to be asleep.

By concentrating on his report to the university research council, he managed to reduce his erection, although the problem of how to frame his request for two, not one, extra PhD students stressed him out so much that he didn't get to sleep for another three hours.

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byNaokoSmith© 8 comments/ 9691 views/ 3 favorites

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