tagNovels and NovellasPlaying Out Ch. 04

Playing Out Ch. 04


Second Set

It is later on Sunday. The hours have slid one past the next stretched with yoga, brushed in paint on a canvas formerly known as a dining room wall, an unsuccessful attempt to make time move quicker. Dinner tonight with Mark... Really, going there again?

An early dinner; with Mark that must mean something else in the works. A glance at the newspaper brings the realization that our home town team is in the playoffs. West Coast game means a later start time. Mark is a baseball fanatic. He'll be watching with his old crew at a dive they love. This means a choice, watching the game surrounded by stale beer and cigars with the risk of Mark and another home run or return home, alone. I have never been good at decisions.

I decide to leave early and do some window shopping. Ibrik is within walking distance of this time greedy apartment. I dress in a soft suede skirt and tuck in a white cotton blouse as crisp as the fall air. The skirt skims my hips and hugs my backside in just the right way. I pull on my favorite brown leather boots then decide to undo the bottom three buttons on the skirt. A little glimpse of leg is always a good thing.

There is a sudden twinge of guilt as I pass the desk and see the note from Alex. Guilt? Is dinner with a friend really cheating? What Alex and I did would hardly be considered a date. We have no relationship to cheat on.

I imagine the letter:

"Dear Miss Manners,

I fucked a guy in the upstairs room of a restaurant. Is it wrong to see someone else?



Her reply:

"Dear Easy,

It is only cheating if you fuck him too."

Well, too late for that.

I shake my head in an attempt to clear this thought. I can not continue to obsess. In a deluded attempt to clear my head I grab the red tie, loosely knot it under the collar of my blouse and tuck in the tail. Maybe this will settle the guilt. It will certainly annoy Mark.

Passing the mirror my reflection presents a new obsession. Hmmm, red menswear tie, white shirt, soft suede skirt, naughty school girl meets Ralph Lauren. Every now and then I get it right.

The off button on the CD player chokes Randy Newman as he continues to tell me, unconvincingly, why he loves LA. I slip out of my apartment, down the stairs of my building and start to walk. The fall air is sweet and smoky. Warm, now that the sun is high in the sky but a chill underneath betrays the lovely rays. Gingko leaves float to the sidewalk. The neighborhood is known for these trees.

I pass the Farmers Market, closed now except on Saturdays, then a high priced, trendy boutique. Next is a laundry; a bum meditating on the bench by the front door. The shop has a single customer and her pitiful boyfriend inside. The laundry and the bum's expression are vacant. At least the laundry smells nice.

Turning the corner I stop to gaze into the window of a vintage clothing store and admire the lace blouse in the window and the shirtwaist dress on the mannequin. The dress reminds me of something Lauren Bacall would wear back when she was Betty and she was meeting Bogey for a drink in some smoky bar. I can see myself wearing this dress, if only I had Bogey waiting for me.

I contemplate the fantasy of Bogart, or perhaps Grant (Cary or Hugh), ordering me a drink. The well tailored, cuffed trousers, the stylish, thinly veiled suggestive conversation, the smoky whisky, and then my heart stops. There he is, walking out of the used bookstore.

Alex turns as the door closes and for a minute I hope that he has not seen me. He has, though. His expression is one of surprise then slowly dawning pleasure. He is not wearing tailored, cuffed trousers; or perfectly pleated khakis. He is wearing a pair of jeans, worn, tight in just the right places. A soft brown sweater exposes a white t-shirt in its v-neck. I want to slide my hands under the sweater, down the jeans...

"Hi," his voice is deeper than I remember. It is not competing with the sounds of a bar band today. He extends a hand and states, business-like, "My name is Alex." His look is hopeful.

"Hi," I hesitate; the fantasy has never gone here before. I take a few seconds to take in my new acquaintance. He is tall, heavy, not fat but substantial, filled out, as they used to say. His sandy blonde hair is closely trimmed except for one lock that falls over his left eye; his piercingly blue left eye. "Kate, I'm Kate."

He grasps my hand but does not shake it holding it tight as though he does not wish to let it go again. He looks deep into my eyes and I know, like me, he is remembering our first meeting, the band, the guitar whining, our breathless groping the delicious release. I think I feel him shiver a tiny bit, but it might be the breeze.

His eyes slide over me and involuntarily I lick my lips as I feel his gaze on them. My lips tingle at the thought of his kiss. The lips that have tasted so much of me; devoured me, we have never just kissed. As his eyes skim my neck I feel a shiver in my spine, his red silk tie is loose around my neck and presses my blouse against my collar bone. His eyes pause briefly at the hollow of my throat; his lips part slightly. I close my eyes and pray for strength.

His gaze moves down to my breasts. He smiles a little. My breasts are rather full and the tight buttoned blouse accentuates this. That's why I like to wear it. He continues with his visual caress moving on to my waist, small, and my hips, rounder; pausing at the open edge of my skirt, my legs and boot top. I hear him inhale and I feel the desire to spin, so he can adjust his gaze to my ass. I know how good it looks in this skirt.

I connect to his gaze, drawing him into my eyes and smile. It is a slow, sweet smile at first. Reaching its zenith there is only devilish mirth and desire there. It works. His knees buckle, just a tiny bit. A little knowledge; it is a dangerous thing.

His hand lets go its grasp and reaches upwards, towards my breasts. I can't breathe the thought of his touch drawing the air from my lungs. He takes the silk tie in his hand, slides the fabric between his fingers. "I used to have a tie like this," he states very matter-of-fact. "I wondered if I had lost it."

"You should take better care of your things," I try to sound calm but the warmth from his hand is so near my flesh. The images I am sure he saw the night he left the tie will not stop playing in my head. I refuse to be the one to start that discussion.

"You're right," his tone is quiet. He drops the tie and his hand moves away from me. He moves a step closer drawing me in with his breath and his gaze. "I would take better care of you."

The air is suddenly heavy, the atmosphere closing in on us and all around the fall colors darken. A thunder crash rattles through my spine and I feel it somewhere even deeper before realizing that the barometric pressure is the real cause of this shift. Alex and I are held down by the heaviness, the storm clouds trying to reach a place that we have already been.

It takes the first few large, heavy raindrops to break us out of our weighted state. Alex grasps my arm and pulls me to him then pushes me into the book store. I turn as I go over the threshold and find myself enveloped in his soft brown sweater, his strong chest just underneath.

I have been in this store many times. The owner prides himself on the number of old editions he has; the many more he will acquire soon. The musty smell of paper and leather binding surround us. A jazz recording plays softly in harmony with the storm that is tuning up outside. The clouds thunder a moan as the fall air tries to coax their release. I feel it would barely take a breeze to take me there.

Alex takes my arm and guides me to the back of the shop. We pass a few browsers studying biographies and stop in the Eastern Philosophy section, surprisingly populated with grad students hoping to score the perfect quote.

"Come with me," I hear my voice and feel my feet begin to move toward the staircase and my favorite section. Alex maintains a grasp on my arm, letting me lead...this time.

We wander into the American classics. Fitzgerald and Hemingway peer down from their respective shelves. They would approve of our seamy tryst. Alex bumps a rack as we round a corner and a book falls to the floor with a sharp slap. The thunder answers in frustration and we both jump.

A laugh slowly escapes as I bend to pick up the book. Alex's laugh turns to a sigh as his eyes stop on my ass. I feel his hand softly caress me as I stand and turn back to him once again. A faint blush has washed over his face and his eyes are beginning to take on a hazy look. He smiles sheepishly.

"I've been thinking a lot about you..."he tries to begin.

Trying to ignore this, I look at the paperback in my hand. "This is one of my favorites." I say, for want of anything else. "The Garden of Eden, Hemingway."

"You've read a lot of Hemingway?" the first real question he has put to me.

"Everything, almost; I love this, and The Sun Also Rises, I re-read them every couple of years." It feels nice to share a little of myself.

"Hmmm... Maybe I should give this a try," He examines the book, flips through the pages in a haphazard way then sits it back on the shelf. "How did I find you here?"

The thunder crashes again and from the bookstore owners stereo, a trumpet blows a solo in response.

"I live near here," then I think – what the hell, "I'm meeting someone for dinner." I watch for a change in his atmosphere. The front moves in quickly.

"Oh, are you meeting him?' is there a hint of fear? His bright smile has darkened a reflection of the demise of this sunny afternoon.

Saying nothing, I turn and walk to the end of the aisle, a recognition of the music drifting lightly through the storm interrupts my thought. The syncopated rhythm of "Time Out" wraps itself around my heart. My brain begins to reason in the same off kilter beat.

"What exactly did you see?" my mouth it seems, has also disconnected from my head.

"I saw..." he looks down at his shoes then back up into my eyes. "I saw him kiss you, caress you. I saw you take him in your mouth. I saw him pound into you until I didn't think I could keep quiet anymore. I saw the same look of ecstasy on your face when you came that was there the first time I took you there."

"The first time...does that mean there will be others?" I can't help myself; damn Brubeck and his disconnected rhythm. I turn to face Alex as I speak. Thunder crashes outside and a bolt of lightening strikes my heart.

He is standing square in the aisle. He is a big man and his shoulders seem to touch the shelves on either side. For a second I am almost afraid of what he will do. His face is dark, lips thin, hands clenched at each side. He strides the length of the aisle in steps punctuated by Brubeck's jazz and the thunder outside. Grasping me by the shoulders he pins me against the wall. His mouth is on mine before I can think to try to get away.

His kiss is strong, urgent, rough nearly frightening. I am breathless when he moves back. "Yes, there will be other times," he breathes the words into the air.

Before I can answer his mouth is on mine again. His lips are hard, demanding. I am kissing him back before I can think. The heat from our mouths encourages the rain and it washes over the roof. His hands start to move down my body, his fingers are a staccato of rhythm over my breasts, sliding down my side and washing over my abdomen to the buttons of my skirt. I try to mumble a dissent but the thunder crashes again and I hear the rain begin in earnest. I want it to wash over me but am willing to settle for the sensations that Alex has begun.

His hand slides under the fabric of my skirt and around my hips, pulling me into him. I break away and take a breath. "No..." the word barely slips from my lips.

"Yes..." he replies in a pleading question. He leans into me and kisses me again. It is nice to be kissed like this. Slow, his breath warm on my cheek. I can smell his skin, feel its heat, and feel my breath as it is deflected back to me. His mouth parted slightly, I feel his tongue gently explore my lips, tasting, moving into me. I feel it deeper than my mouth should allow.

He moves a fraction of a breath away from me. His voice is low, a rumble. "I can't get that night out of my mind...the way that guy took you, the words between you...I wanted to push open the gate and grab you away. No, that's not entirely true. I wanted to pull him away, take his place. Would you have left as quickly then?"

The sound of the rain on the roof of the old building gets louder as I try to think what to say. It has not occurred to me that he would feel even a little jealous of that night; after all, he didn't even know my name.

"I couldn't make myself stop watching. It sounds a little sick to say it out loud, I guess," he grins that sheepish grin that guys seem to keep from childhood. "The way the two of you moved together, spoke to each other. God, You're not married to him are you?'

A cloud sweeps past his face. This has just occurred to him. Would it really matter, considering how we got to this place? I take a breath, look directly into his eyes. They seem such a clear, bright blue, but somewhere deep in the center is a color that is darker, reflecting thoughts that are much deeper than I am sure I want to hear.

"No, I am not married to him," a relaxation eases into his entire body; the darker color in his eyes lightens. "We have known each other a long time, closer sometimes but usually just comfortably friends." I look into those eyes as I speak; the upbeat of the music is making its way into his face. "I'm not sure how I would have left if it had been you instead of him," I pause then say, "I am not sure I would have left at all."

That sentence does the work I hoped it would. His face lightens just as the clouds outside break up. The sun forces a pale, late afternoon ray through the dirty window and it hits our feet. The statement is not totally true, I know this is what he had hoped to hear and I convince myself that saying it out loud makes it somehow less of a lie. The real truth is I am not sure where I want this to go. I like the idea of annominity, no strings attached. Is it flattery to think I alone can decide where we go next?

"I would have kept you there all night," he states this with a firmness that answers that last question and squelches one or two others. He pulls me closer then and his lips are on mine once again.

This time they are soft; gentle, slowly savoring the flavor of my skin, my tongue, my breath. He once again leans into me, his weight holding me to the wall. Feeling the firmness of him through his jeans as he pushes his hips into me, I don't care what happens. I am consumed by his breath, his scent.

In response to the frantic beat of Blue Rondo, he slides me around the corner into the alcove of a little used closet. Metal shelves line the wall behind us. Stacks of webby magazines lay in haphazard piles. He presses me into the wall again, sliding my hands above my head, his mouth against my neck. I try to point out that it is getting late, the sun is out, someone might walk in...

What the hell, I give in to the realization that I want him to do this, the realization that I am beginning to like sex in public, the realization that Dave Brubeck and his Blue Rondo seems to be fueling us on.

Alex presses into me again. I try to slide a hand down to touch the firmness I can feel under his jeans. He grips my wrists tighter with his left hand. Moves his mouth away from the curve of my throat and grins. "No," he states this matter of fact as his right hand slides up my leg, moving my skirt out of the way to expose my bare skin and silky underwear.

I feel his hand on me and the sensation pins me to the wall tighter than his grasp. I lean my head back and take a breath. The horn section races from the speaker. The music is playing low but the tempo still rattles through us in a frenetic way. I am aware of my underwear sliding from my hips and out of his way. He hums a contented breath as he continues to touch the tender flesh of my now bare sex; his mouth nuzzled in the curve of my neck.

Staccato notes dance over me. I am not sure how much longer I can stand. If he lets go I am afraid I will slide to the floor and out into view of the oblivious bookstore patrons.

But, he does let go. Just long enough to loosen the zipper and free himself. I want to reach down and touch him, feel him move in response. I don't have the time. In tempo to the raucous song he moves into me. His cock pulses along with the off-beat sound of this distinctive song. I am pinned once again to the wall and find myself moving in syncopated time to his body and its rhythms. I bury my face in his chest and breathe in the warmth of the sweater, his skin. I slide my right leg up his left and hook around his hip, pulling him deeper into me.

His breath becomes more ragged as his thrusts drive us on. I want to cry out in exhilaration, jubilation, exasperation. This was not supposed to happen this way. But my free will has been replaced. Manifest destiny is the phrase for today. I feel lost; my will power has deserted me, my body has betrayed me. My mind is running in retreat. I scream out to them all.

Unfortunately, my voice is alive and well. It screams out as the notes crescendo around us. I am reconnected body and mind to the movement of Alex and myself as we beat our own rhythm against the wall. He feels the crashing too and lets out a sigh that makes me quiver, and then it is over. We melt into each other as the music and the storm end in unison, there is no sound but the torn breath we try to control.

No sound, except for the questioning voice of a misplaced grad student..."Is everything alright in there...?"

I bury my face in Alex's shoulder and try to muffle a laugh as he calmly states, "Oh yeah, everything's great. Foot went to sleep...that's all. You know what a rush that can be, when the feeling starts to come back..."

Looking into his face I see an expression of devilish delight before my vision is stopped by his mouth against mine again. The kiss is gentle and slow; almost teasing. I could stay here forever.

But, I can't. "I have to go..." trembling, I try to rearrange my clothes, my thoughts, and my willpower.

"I know," he answers quietly, straightening his sweater, adjusting his pants, "but I will see you again. We'll have a real date, dinner and conversation."

"And then?" I can't help myself. I look into his face and see the answer. A deep satisfied smile. Maybe, I have found my Bogey after all.

"Mmm..." answering his look, I don't say another word but turn and make my way out of the store. I am afraid to look back for fear this didn't happen, but the breeze between my bare legs and against my warm skin tells me it did. It also tells me that somewhere in the stacks is a pair of my underwear.

Mark is ordering a bottle of wine as I slide into my chair and try to look...like someone that hasn't just had sex in a bookstore.

We talk about the weird storm, the game this evening. We do not talk about last night, or why my blouse is buttoned crooked. We order our favorite food. As the waiter leaves, I excuse myself and slip into the ladies room.

The face in the mirror is becoming more familiar. This woman is flushed, her eyes are sparkling and she can't seem to stop smiling. I reapply her lip gloss and smooth her hair. She returns to the table to finish a delicious meal before going home to re-explore the events of this afternoon.

My smile freezes as I arrive back at the table. My heart skips a beat. Mark is holding something in his hands; a puzzled look on his face.

"The waiter brought this over. He said the guy told him you left it in the bookstore?"

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