It would be some time before she'd be ready to leave.
I took out my IPhone and looked at some pictures of her. When I was a kid, no one would've so confused the functions of phone, camera, and computer.
I looked at one of her when she first came to my home outside San Luis Obispo. She stands by the gate in the light California spring rain. The mist makes the steep hills seem to lose resolution and dissolve. Everything around her is green and blooming. Her cab has just driven off. She wears blue jeans and a white blouse.
Feeling a bit sad and regretful, though it was less than a year ago, I launched the video. Again I watched as per instruction she bends and takes off her sandals, the flip-flops she'd worn to fly across the country.
Again, the gate swings open and she walks in.
She stops just far enough up the drive for the gate to close. She unbuttons her blouse, she wears no bra and pulls down her jeans and white panties. She leaves her clothes by the side of the drive.
Again I watched as I often have, her walk up the damp black asphalt, passed the rhododendrons, beds of camellias, daffodils and iris, passed the magnolias and cherries. The drive up to my house was quite beautiful. As she walks, her fine white young flesh gathers a coating of mist and she glows.
Her walk and the video end with her climbing the steps to my front door, waiting a moment, bare feet on the wet stone, before ringing the bell.
I remembered when I first saw her. I've nothing but memory of that moment. As I had plenty of time, I turned the memory over in my mind and let it play.
Only 3 weeks separated that walk in the rain and my first sighting of her.
In memory, I again parked the rental and looked at the long narrow street of townhouses. I was not there by choice entirely. I had sudden business in the dreary little city that was the reason for being for the working class suburb in which Dave and I'd grown up and been friends. Some confluence of sporting events, March madness? an unexpectedly important Nascar race? I don't know. had swallowed most of the hotel space. I'd had a choice of paying a lot for a poor room or staying with my high school and college friend whom I hadn't seen in twenty years.
It was a near thing. I hadn't seen him since his divorce. He'd come west on a visit that had been more his idea than mine. He'd been pretty broken up. He'd made a bad choice of wife, she'd been ambitious and he couldn't meet her expectations. They had 2 little girls. I introduced him to the pleasures I'd grown fond of since I left school and started to make real money. He'd taken to them like a drowning man to a thrown rope. As it turned out the rope came from some not so cheery metaphor, one not involved with rescue, cement blocks figure prominently.
When he returned home, well, to his sad new bachelor digs, he took with him the name of a club. I'd paid for his membership as it was outside his reach.
The detective his wife employed followed him there and took pictures. Faced with the prospect of a scandal that would've cost him his job, he gave up all visiting rights to his children.
Dave'd always been shy and awkward and to be frank, only average in intelligence. That was probably why we were friends back then, I was just the opposite, smart and personable and arrogant, though it's not really arrogance if one's abilities are real, is it?
After the divorce, his shyness and awkwardness remained, but he lost his glad good humor. When his parents died, his mother of cancer, his father shortly after from sadness, he moved back into their house on the block that'd been our stomping grounds as kids. He lived there pretty much as a recluse.
He kept in touch, sending Christmas cards and when his company got email, the occasional message. I replied to neither kind of communication.
In the course of arranging to stay with him, I was surprised to learn that he'd moved a year or so previous.
A light snow fell, one of the many reasons I'd left the Midwest, and it was hard to make out the numbers on the townhouses. I got out of the rental and walked by maybe 2 and found his. I walked up the short brick walk and pressed the buzzer.
She opened the door.
I had never been so surprised in my life. She was such a pretty girl, simply dressed, a modest maize colored blouse tucked neatly into her jeans. Her jeans were simple and crisp and very very blue. She wore no makeup that I could see or jewelry. Her hair was lustrous brown, cut so it made a lively cup of her pretty face. I prefer women's hair to be long, of course. The only imperfection on her oval young face with its ample warm lips, green eyes and fine eyebrows, was a small pale lump just just by her nose. I wouldn't've noticed it if her face hadn't been so close to mine. I stared at it like it was the only explainable thing in a world gone mad. Her feet were bare.
I thought, he must've gotten back in touch with his daughters.
She said, "You're Dave's friend Leo! I'm Jane. I'm Dave's well, his, his girl friend." She blushed.
"Come in please," she went on, "Dave couldn't get out of work early, it's month end." He was an accountant. "He'll be home soon. He's so looking forward to seeing you. He's told me a lot about you."
She showed me into a little living room. "Would you like something to drink?"
I managed to say I wouldn't mind a beer. She went through the dining area into the kitchen. Where she was, things seemed to be in sharp focus. Where she wasn't, I had only the sense of a vague blur.
"Let me get your things from your car. Which is it?"
"It's a blue Lexus. It's two doors down. There's a suitcase in the trunk."
"I'm on it," she said, taking the keys.
She walked out the door barefoot though there was a good 2 inches of snow on the ground. I went to the window and watched her stroll to the car like it was a summer day. She was slim with a very nice bottom. I watched her pop the trunk, get my suitcase, and roll it back to the townhouse.
My surprise had surpassed its previous record, set only moments before.
Her feet were quite red when she came in. Though she brushed them on the mat, they left narrow wet footprints on the gleaming wood of the little entryway. "Here, I'll show you your room."
I followed her up the stairs and was shown the sort of cramped second bedroom you'd expect to find in such a place. If it weren't for Jane, I'd've been regretting my choice big time.
I thought that if I had a week to spend there, I'd've surely been able to lure her from Dave. As it was, I only had the night. I had to meet with someone the next day and then had to fly out the next evening. Not much time and I felt desperate.
"The bathroom's there," she said, pointing, there was just the one. "I have to see to dinner. Make yourself at home."
She went downstairs. I followed shortly and leaned against the kitchen doorjamb. She had a pair of steaks marinating. I could smell baked potatoes in the oven. She was preparing artichokes to steam. There was lettuce and tomatoes for a salad. There was a pie, rhubarb I noticed, on the counter. There was her.
We heard the garage door trundle and a car door slam. She waited just a moment then opened a door on the other side of the kitchen just as Dave walked up the steps.
"Hey Leo!" he shouted in pleasure as he came in. "Great to see you."
I had eyes only for Jane and went through the business of greeting my old friend in a perfunctory manner. I did notice that he seemed to have regained some of the good humor he'd had when we were young. She took his coat, hung it, bent and picked up a well worn pair of slippers. Dave of course by this time had me in a bear hug so she had to wait.
While Jane went back to work on dinner, we had a beer ("I see you've a head start," he said).
They had a grill on a little patio out the back door. The patio was still snow covered. There was a shiver of cold air every time she stepped out to do something with it. Her feet left tracks from the door to the steaming grill. For me, the air around her wavered and shimmered with heat.
As I watched her, Dave brought me up-to-date on matters local. He seemed to have gotten back in touch with everyone. I learned, well heard, about who's plumbing business was doing well, who's aluminum siding work had dried up, who'd been laid off and was flipping hamburgers, who'd been laid off and found no hamburgers to flip, who was now married to who and who they'd been married to before.
This was not at all what I wanted to know. I wanted to know how in hell Dave and this wonder had gotten together. I wanted to know what could be done about it. I wanted to know if she was the evening's entertainment. I wanted to fuck her. When Dave'd come out to visit me, I'd arranged for a friend's girlfriend to keep him company, the guy was mad at her and spending the week with Dave was one of her punishments. I didn't think there would be any other girls tonight, just Jane. Would Dave be a sap and share?
I wanted to know if they were happy and what could be done about it...
I'd been growing increasingly dissatisfied with my companions. I suspect they'd always played along with me from a mixture of my personality and my power and my money. It'd never used to bother me. If I thought of it, I assumed the balance was heavily weighed towards the former. Now it bothered me.
Dinner was quite good. We sat at the table in the cramped dining area. She served, then stood behind Dave with her hands clasped behind her neck. Her shoulders lifted and pulled back her firm breasts. That sweet pair pushed plainly against her blouse, bobbing slightly with her movements..
"There've been changes in your life," I observed, "You've moved for one. I thought you'd never leave that house out in Tallmadge."
"Well," he grinned, "It was going to be awkward living out there with her." He looked up at her and their eyes met and she smiled fondly. He looked over at me with a touch of mischief in his expression.
She resumed looking demurely down at the table.
I felt a surge of lust and annoyance. Dave'd been my friend since we were barefoot kids. He'd lived 4 houses down. He'd always been the one to look up to me. I'd gotten my girl friends to fix him up with their hopefully willing friends. In college I'd argued him into my fraternity (which had all but prostituted itself to admit me) over serious objections about his awkwardness. Mine'd been the career of wealth. He'd been lucky to get a job in the accounting department of one of the few companies in the area that did not die a horrible death. He planned to go quietly into a comfortable retirement in a relatively few years.
That would likely not happen, I knew. I was in town to meet with the the VP of Finance of his employer. The guy'd been feeding us what we needed to perfect our takeover bid. The guy had some concerns about what we were offering him in return. I needed to reassure him. Shortly we would pounce and all the jobs would either evaporate or go oversees.
"Would you like to know how we met?" Dave asked.
"I see you'd like to tell me," I said, trying to sound indifferent.
He grinned at me, I wasn't fooling anybody. The bastard was going to draw it out. "Jane," he said, "What do you think I remember best about that first visit of yours?"
She looked down at him then looked over at me and blushed quite prettily. When had I last seen a young woman blush? I realized it wasn't so long before, when she'd opened the door for me and told me she was Dave's girlfriend. A smile crossed her lips.
"Perhaps, it's like how much you had to shell out?"
"That answer will cost you," he said sternly.
My surprise level'd scored yet a new high. I thought that if she was or had been a call-girl, I needed to get the name of that agency.
"Jane, again, what do I remember best about your first visit."
"I'd really rather not say."
"Worse and worse! I insist."
"It's like how we fucked after you beat me?"
He leaned his chair back, laid a hand on her ass, squeezed it through her jeans. "You will be punished for being wrong and for thinking too highly of your charms." Despite his words I could see he was pleased with her and happy to be stringing it out. Happy to be annoying me.
He turned to me. "You remember the den in that house? When it was my folks house? It had a recliner and a couch and a TV and a lot of pictures of baseball players. We spent a lot of time in there, Saturday mornings, watching cartoons, late nights on Fridays watching the horrible movies. Remember Creature Feature? That room faced a fenced-in backyard and had but a single window. I made some alterations. I put a triple-glazed window in and put up soundproofed interior shutters for one thing. Once drawn nothing could be heard outside. My prized bit of furniture was and is quite a bit different from my Dad's recliner. It cost almost what I paid for my car."
He cut a bite of steak and lifted it up for Jane to eat. His story telling skills were crap.
"I've never been like you. I've had to ration things. A girl maybe once every other month. Always in the evening when its dark and the neighbors won't notice. It'd been near 20 years since my divorce. It was the weekend before Thanksgiving. The weather was foul, freezing rain. Sunday morning I couldn't stand it. I called 'em and got them to send a woman that afternoon.
"Of course by noon it'd turned beautiful.
"If you remember, the front walk of that house ran from the driveway to the front door and there was a shoulder high hedge between it and the front yard the woman'd only have be in view a few seconds. And of course the neighbors did not spend their time scrutinizing my doings. They'd've been bored stiff. Still I worried and thought of canceling, but didn't. I'd've had to pay anyway. And I did want the occupation."
He paused and looked up at Jane.
"What I remember best about that Sunday afternoon, is how your eyes widened, your lips so slightly parted, your stance shifted, the moment your eyes took in what would so soon be your steed, its leather black and highly polished, its rump raised higher that its head, so its rider always tips forward, galloping downhill."
He turned back to me. "She must've stood tense, transfixed for a whole delicious minute. Her eyes dropped and took in the Velcro straps on each of its four legs, each strap adjustable so it can be just the height to bind a particular rider's ankles and wrists. Her eyes must've taken in the thick drawn curtains, the hard polished wood of the paddle where it lay on a chest of drawers, next to the other things. How wide her eyes had grown when they turned back to me! That instant was so delicious!
"At that moment, I changed my guess about her. I had figured her to be a college kid making some good money to avoid student loans. Now I reckoned her to be a college theater student with real acting talent making some good money to avoid student loans.
"She'd rung my doorbell and I'd opened it. I must've looked wide-eyed myself for a second. I hadn't been expecting something with such fresh faced prettiness. Before she could say anything I growled, 'You're late!' and pulled her in. 'Quiet! There's nothing you can say!'
"There was just the right amount of confusion and reluctance on her part. We paused at the door to my den, it was dim compared to the brightness of the afternoon, the curtains were pulled and several lamps were lit. The horse loomed before her."
He looked up at her again, smiling, as if he could still see that look of feigned innocense.
"I told you sternly, 'Because you are late, I'm going to be extra hard on you.'
"I saw her eyes shift again to the paddle and the whips that lay on the table. She took a step back and put a hand over her mouth. I gripped her arm harder and pulled her in and shut the door. She looked again at the horse and now her expression seemed to take on something of a fearful fascination. She set her bag and something else, I wasn't paying attention, on an easy-chair. She looked again at the horse. Then she turned to look at me.
"She looked excited and scared and hesitant. 'If I asked you to let me go, would you?'
"I thought, 'Shit, she's going to chicken out.'
"I said, 'Yes, of course.'
"I got just a glimpse of her tongue as it touched her upper lip. She looked at me a moment, breathing through open lips. There was a hint of amusement about those lips and the corners of her fine eyes. Then, 'If you're expecting me to like beg for mercy, it's not gonna happen,' she said, 'I've done nothing wrong.'
"'Impertinence will only make it worse,' I said, 'Strip.'
"There was another pause. I thought of telling her she'd be punished for the delay, but held my tongue. When she shook off one flip-flop then the other, I realized I'd been holding my breath and let it out. I tried to hide my relief.
"Her stripping was another good thing. I know that you, Leo, like the girls to put on a show and make a long tease of it until you pretend frustration and take a firm hand, but not me. I like it simple. And she was so pretty! Her t-shirt came off, then her bra. Her breasts looked just the size of my cupped hand," he held up his hand to show, though I could see enough of the real things under her shirt to judge for myself, not really as large as I like, but sweet.
"Then she dropped her jeans and her white underpants. Everything was just perfect. No thong, no shaved pussy, she had a nice healthy bush of hair. The skin of her hips and breasts was a lovely pale ivory white, lighter than the rest of her. That ivory made two bands, each a healthy width, showing she didn't go in for skimpy swimwear.
"'Over there,' I said and pointed to the horse.
"Oh her bottom when she turned! Its cheeks were plump and springy. It was all I could do to keep my own hips from swaying in time with hers. She stepped hesitantly to what was for her clearly the only furniture in the room.
"'Mount and straddle it,' I ordered.
"She ran a hand along its leather, felt its stiffness, hesitated, then she stepped up, swung a leg over, and with a little jump she was astride it. She shifted herself, clearly a bit surprised at how it felt.
"'Scoot back to this end.' I said, patting its edge.
"The first time I touched her was to grip a hard ankle and pull it further to the left to meet the Velcro. My hands shook when I shifted her other ankle. I looked up at her plump bottom. Just a bit of it projected over the edge into space. When I tightened the straps, the lips of her sex and her wiry brown hair pressed down against the black of the leather.
"Next I took a wrist. 'Bend forward,' I ordered. I met her eyes. She made them wide, both scared and excited. It occurred to me that maybe she was actually enjoying it, or maybe enjoying performing, not just doing it for the money. Hers was definitely a better college job than working in a dorm dining room, I thought. I pulled her down and relished the way her breasts pressed and flattened against the padding. I imagined what the leather must feel like against her nipples. I admired the nape of her neck, just touched by her brown hair. I admired the strain on her shoulders as they were pulled forward by her arms. I admired the bumping line of her spine and the narrowing of her waist and of course the full lift her bottom. What a bottom!
"For me," he said, "The essence of the experience is imagining what it's like for the woman, imagining what it is to be them. That's why one should always be calm and deliberate. If passion runs away with you, you only see and feel yourself."
I resisted the urge to tell him that he was talking nonsense.
"Anyway, I picked up the paddle, a hefty wooden one, pale ash in color. I let her look at it a moment. Then I slapped it against my palm once, hard enough to hurt, stepped into position and swung. Its weight did most of the work. The wood on springy flesh produced a loud satisfying smack accompanied by a shocked yelp from the girl, more from surprise at the sound, I think, than pain as yet.