Ghosts & Shadows Pt. 01byDanielQSteele1©
(Author's Note: I apologize for the disruption and having to repost the first part of Ghosts, but it should run smoothly from this point.The second part should run rather more quickly and from that point the last four should run about weekly. This story is, as all my writing for this site, part of what I call First Coast Stories, meaning they are set in Florida's Northeast area called the First Coast by PR types. As always, I hope readers will enjoy the entire story and I look forward to your comments. And I continue to thank "curiouss" for his editing work on this saga. DQS)
CHAPTER ONE- NOTHING PERFECT LASTS
I am not a dramatic man. Not for me the grand gesture, the flourish that captures the eye and the memory. When I graduated from the University of Florida I had business tending to the estate of my father, who had died suddenly, so I skipped the graduation walk and screams as the students hurled our student paraphernalia into the sunlit sky and had my diploma mailed to me.
When I asked Mary, now my wife, to become my bride, I didn't hire a blimp to float across the sky with letters saying "Marry Me, Mary!" or a plane carrying a banner proclaiming, "Make me a happy man Mary," I didn't drop to one knee in a crowded restaurant and open a box containing a two carat diamond while diners around us sat and gawked. I didn't order Oysters Rockefeller and let her open one containing the said two carat diamond ring. No, I rolled over next to her naked, luscious body in the bed we shared in my off campus apartment, after bringing her to three orgasms with my tongue, fingers and dick. I ran my hand down her sweaty side. She lay back breathing slowly. From past experience, I thought she'd probably nod off and we'd share a few hours of sleep and wake one or the other for some touching if I couldn't get hard again that soon.
I ran my hand over her right nipple, which had softened. She opened her light brown eyes to stare at me with a quizzical smile.
"Are you going for some kind of new record, Hugh? Not that I would object, but you wore me out that last time."
I just stared at her for a moment. I'd had other women before her. My family had money and, when I was 15, I'd fucked an 18-year-old who had cleaned our house while my parents were gone. If you have a car, aren't too bad looking, know how to talk to girls and have some experience, it's not hard to get laid steadily in high school and college. However, Mary was different. She had been from the moment I'd set eyes on her taut body and pretty face, framed by the long, straight, brown hair in the fashion that every coed wore three decades ago in an economics class in 1970, when we were both seniors. She was going steady -- a step away from being engaged to a Harvard man. He was wealthy and with a Harvard degree behind him looked set to provide the kind of life any girl could look forward to.
But then, he was at Harvard, and I was with Mary, at the University of Florida. I worked on her for half a year. I was nice, not pushy, and I was a gentleman, but she knew I wanted her. Not hearts and flowers and hand-holding, but I wanted those high-set 36B cup breasts and that pert ass which no dress could hide.
I invited her out for coffee and studied with her and when boyfriend forgot to call or was "busy" I was there to take her out for a pizza and to commiserate and hint that he was probably banging some wealthy northern cutie. We took long walks on the campus and talked books and I persuaded her to go with me to see movies and plays -- just as 'friends'. I apologized for stealing our first kiss and she told me she wouldn't go out with me for anything again, class would be our only meeting place, but she did, and I kissed her again, and again. I stroked her breasts in my car through her blouse until she shivered, then slipped my hand in on her bare flesh and made her moan. Then I planted my lips on those pink buds and sucked and nibbled until she gasped and I knew if I could get my hands into her panties, they'd be soaking.
She was guilty because she was still semi-engaged, but I had no conscience and I kept asking her out and stroking and sucking those breasts and got her to put her hands on my dick, which felt like a bar of steel, and stroke me until I came. Then she wanted to see it happen and even though she told me she'd never done anything like that before, she planted those luscious lips around my dick and sucked me off in my apartment.
She cried a little the first night I fucked her. That night I fucked her, but the next time WE fucked, and when I finished she sucked me hard again and rode me until I came again, and there were no more tears for the guy at Harvard.
We spent almost every night until graduation together. I was inside her in one way or another. When she was on her period, she'd suck me off and I'd make her come with my fingers. One time I fucked her anyway, to hell with the blood.
I looked at her lying next to me and remembered those days and nights and I didn't even have to think about what I was saying.
"I love you, Mary. I know I've said it before, but this is the real thing. I want to live with you and make babies and wake up with you and go to bed with you...for the rest of my life. Let's get married."
She looked at me and then my heart sank as she got a serious look on her face and shook her head 'no'.
"I don't know that I can, Hugh."
"I thought...I thought you loved me too. Was this all make believe?"
She reached out to touch my face and tears ran down hers.
"Oh yes, baby I love you, probably too much. It scares me. If we get married and something happens, like you die or meet somebody else and fall in love with them, I couldn't survive it. I wouldn't, I'd buy a gun or slit my wrists or take pills. I love you so much you scare me."
"I will never leave you, not voluntarily. I will never love another woman and I'll do any damn thing I can to make sure I out live you. My family lives a long time, except for my father, and that accident was a fluke. I'll make very sure my brakes always work."
That was how it began nearly 40 years ago - now it's 2006, we are long married, parents of a 32-year-old neurosurgeon practicing in Los Angeles and a 29-year-old editor with Random House in New York City and grandparents to a three-year-old boy named Austin and a one-year-old girl named Calabria. Where the hell that came from I'll never know.
I work out and I've tried to watch my diet. I'm in pretty good shape for a 57-year-old man. I've got most of my hair, which is turning fashionably gray, and most of my teeth. I still have a few secretaries and female execs send out signals once in a while in 'those' kinds of smiles, that little touch on the arm that isn't required, jokes about what they're going to be doing while their boyfriend or husband is out of town on a business trip.
It's flattering but I never consider them seriously. I went through one patch, one fever spell, about ten years ago when for some reason I daydreamed about fucking every nubile female that came within a dozen feet of me. I flirted and made halfway serious dates, but I could never make myself go through with them to the ultimate infidelity and one day, the fever just went away!
Mary has become a beautiful and sensuous woman. She's 57 but she could pass easily for early 40s. At parties and get-togethers, I've grown used to younger men attempting to cut her out and away from me to put their brand on her. She gets a kick out of the fact, as she describes it to me afterwards, how these young men -- some of them not even born when we fucked for the first time -- rub the evidence of their excitement against her. "It's a sign that pornography has taken over the culture," she says laughing as she lays against me in bed afterwards. Sometimes I get it up and I pound her into incoherent climaxes, other times I can get it up once, maybe, or I satisfy her with fingers and my tongue. I'm looking at 60, after all.
"They really think that all they have to do is rub their penises up against me and I'll be overcome with lust. Tell me, Hugh, when you were that age, did you really expect that all you had to do was rub it up against a woman to seduce her?"
"You forget that when I was their age I already had a woman and I didn't need to rub it up against her to get her hot. Just being in the same room did it."
She'd poke me in the side, "Asshole, I was never that easy."
So, she was hot as hell and I wasn't bad. We had a good life and I expected that we would glide gently into old age, together, loving and enjoying as much of a sex life as was physically possible. I worked for the Hunt Bank in Jacksonville, one of the biggest independent banks in the Southeast, as an upper level executive. I'd worked for them for more than 25 years, back to the days when Old Man Hunt had still been around. He'd built it up into a financial powerhouse and groomed his beloved granddaughter Gail so that she took over the bank in 1990.
Mary worked as a sales rep for McDaniels Educational Enterprises, one of the nation's largest suppliers of educational testing materials. She was a senior rep and as a result did a LOT of traveling. It wasn't unusual for her to be on the road three weekends out of the month. Sometimes they were three or four-day trips when she headed north or out to the mid-west.
There were months when she'd be away more than she was home. But she loved the job and it took her places she'd never have been able to afford if we were paying for it ourselves. We were comfortable, not Hunt rich. She took tons of pictures and always had stories for me. And as often as we could, we went back and visited the places she'd told me about, together.
Quite honestly, her being away as much as she was made the time we were together seem like mini-honeymoons. For a couple of near-sexagenarians, the sex was pretty hot and regular.
We laughed as she told me about the nights when guys she'd met for lunch or supper would call her in her hotel and ask her, in low voices, "what are you wearing?" Sometimes they'd identify themselves, sometimes they'd make crank calls. She said at first it threw her. Her first reactions were anger, then nervousness, but nobody ever showed up to hammer on her hotel door and, if they had, there was hotel security.
Then, one night as we lay together after a particularly exhausting pounding we'd given each other, she looked at me with what could only be described as embarrassment, and said, "Hugh, I've been bad."
I laughed and said, "You sure as hell have. I'm going to need a transfusion if you get any worse."
She reached out and laid one small hand on the side of my face.
"No baby. I've been bad - on this last trip."
"What do you mean?"
I wondered what it was. "Bad" for her could have been anything. I was curious, not worried.
"Tell me and let me decide if I'm going to have to take a belt to you, or a tire iron to some guy."
"No tire iron, but you might want to spank me. I might like that."
"You know guys call me up asking me what I'm wearing, and flirting and stuff."
"I get so damned tired of it. These are middle-aged guys who can't get up the nerve to make a pass at me while we're together, and somehow they think that talking about what I wear is going to get me so hot I'll invite them up to my room for some nookie. Is that what they call it nowadays?"
"So you want them to be man enough to make passes at you eye to eye?"
She hit me on the chest with her fist.
"You bastard, the only man I want making passes at me is you, but it is aggravating, and this night, in Chicago, a superintendent at some level in the city school system -- I forgot exactly what his title was - called me up and asked me that question. Then he laughed and apologized and told me who he was and said I was so hot he had to ask the question."
"Well, we got to talking. It was so refreshing to talk to a guy who was actually honest enough to talk to me instead of being a pervert on the phone. He's married, but..."
"I know, she doesn't understand him."
"He said that, and then he laughed. He said she loves him and he loves her, but they've been married for nearly 20 years, out of college, and they've gotten - stale."
"There's a lot of that going around, baby, at least from what I hear around the water cooler at work. So did he ask you to meet him?"
I expected she would say he had and she had shot him down. Why should this guy be any different from the legions before him that had fought so hard to get into her panties, without ever getting a sniff of the promised land.
"No, he never did anything like that. He was a gentleman."
"Who called a married woman to ask her what she was wearing in bed and talk about his 'stale' marriage?"
She shook her head and there was a flash -- only a momentary flash -- of something that I realized was irritation. For as long as it took the emotion to appear and disappear it felt odd. She was irritated with me. We were always on the same side.
"No, Hugh. I know it was a stupid thing to do, but he didn't really act like a creep. We just talked - and joked and..."
I was trying to figure out what she was trying to tell me. She had acted like she was joking, but she actually did seem a little embarrassed, and so far I had no idea what she might be embarrassed about.
"You know, with the traveling I've done the last couple months, we've spent less time together than in a long time."
"And....I....I was a little horny. Make it a lot."
"While we were talking.....we...I....got a little...risque."
"You actually talked about fucking him?"
"No - no. We just talked about, how we looked and, what we liked. I told him about how we, make love, and he talked about what he and his wife - like to do. And...."
"You used your fingers...."
"I didn't tell him what I was doing, baby. I swear to god I didn't. But...."
"You get pretty loud. He knew you were playing with yourself, didn't he?"
She stopped and I looked deep into her eyes and she lowered her eyes, then raised them to me. She was blushing.
"Yes - he knew and he told me he knew what I was doing, and he was doing the same thing and he described what he was doing."
"Did you hang up on him then?"
"Did you help him out, tell him what you'd be doing to his dick with your mouth and fingers and pussy?"
She pulled herself up to look at me while she placed both hands on either side of my face to hold my gaze on her.
"No, Hugh, no. If you've ever believed anything I have said to you, believe me on this. I didn't play that game with him. I didn't say anything while he was.....talking."
"But you didn't hang up?"
She lowered her face to my chest.
"I felt so dirty afterwards. When he was through, I hung up. I know he called me back, but I didn't take any calls, and the next day...I stayed away from him and wouldn't talk to him."
"Did he try to get it started again?"
"Yes. I finally got him aside and told him we'd both been acting like high school kids and that wasn't me. I didn't want to have to bring it to the attention of his superiors and if he didn't forget about the whole thing, even if it cost us a contract, I would."
She kissed my right nipple.
"Baby, I am so sorry. We've been married 30 years plus and I have never done anything like that. If we live together another 30 years, I never will again. Please tell me you believe me."
I thought about it for a minute.
"Just tell me one thing. Did you think about meeting him, about carrying it further?"
She was silent for a long time.
"I want so bad to lie to you, but I know you'd know it. Yes, for just a small period of time, I was - thinking about it - not that I wanted to have sex with him, you've always been more than enough but, I've only been with four men in my life and nobody except you in more than 30 years. I never thought about it seriously"
I put my arms around her and hugged her tightly.
"Do you still love me?"
"Have you been faithful to me?
"Do you want to fuck again as soon as I can get it up."
"Oh, God, yes."
It shook me a little I have to admit. It was the first time anything like that had ever happened, on her side, but I remember the period of my sexual fever. Only luck and maybe someone upstairs looking out for me kept me from cheating on Mary and going so crazy that our entire marriage might have crashed and burned. It helped that I could read her, just as I knew she could read me. She had told me the truth. She had been tempted but had walked away. She was human and I couldn't ask any more.
Our life went on. She traveled from Jacksonville to Atlanta, Charlotte, New York, Hartford, San Francisco, Denver and Portland, but not again to Chicago. Then it was 2007 and she was on a business trip to Indianapolis.
It had been nine months since the conversation about the Chicago phone sex experience. Sometimes it felt like something had changed but there was nothing I could put my finger on. She was just as passionate most of the time, yet there were times when she was cool, but we'd always gone through those mountain peak and valley cycles. Nobody can be smoking hot all the time, so other times it felt like nothing had changed.
Then, one Monday, she came home from a four-day to Indianapolis. I was supposed to be at work. She picked up her Audi TTS Coupe from waiting at JIA where she normally kept it between trips and drove to our Mandarin two-story home, where we'd lived for the last seven years. She came in the front door carrying a pull-behind travel bag and stopped in the doorway.
"Hugh, what - what are you doing here? Why aren't you at work?"
"I'm not feeling well. Something's upset my stomach. I talked to Gail and she said to go on home and take it easy for the rest of the day."
She left the travel bag and came to stand, then squat, beside me. She reached out to feel my forehead with her cool hands.
"You're not feverish. Have you been nauseous? Have you thrown up? Have you taken anything?"
"No - a little, no. No!"
"I don't - I don't understand, Hugh. You sound so funny and - you're looking - at me - so strangely."
I took her hand away from my cool forehead and held it between mine.
"I feel like, I'm dreaming, Mary. Like I'm caught in a nightmare - and I can't wake up."
She was staring into my eyes and trying not to see. I knew that's what she was doing - we had been married too long.
"Make sense, Hugh. You're scaring me."
"Why did you change your hotel from the Canterbury to the Wyndham West?"
She looked at me and her lips moved but no words came out. She stared into my eyes as if the answer to some cosmic puzzle lay concealed there.
"You're asking me why I..."
"Changed your hotel reservation from a hotel where the meeting you were attending was being held to one halfway across town. You'd have to get up an hour earlier in the morning to get to meetings Nobody else from your company was staying there. The hotel management said it didn't come from your company. You personally asked for the change. The Wyndham was actually more expensive for that room, but you paid the difference yourself rather than having your company handle it. Why?"
"How....how do you even know that, Hugh?"
"I called and checked with the hotels. Then I talked to some people at your company. The change was all you. They said you've done it before, starting about six months ago, but you're so valuable that they don't question you. One of the Human Resource people said that you always get the job done and you've always paid any differential from your personal account. It's one of the perks of being a key person, they said."