Broken-record time: Almost all of my writing is based, to some degree, on real people and / or events in my life. This one is no exception, but it's about 99% fiction.
There's a lot (I think) of character development, and some explicit sex; but this is not designed to be a stroke story. It's intended to be about loving relationships, both sexual and nonsexual, within and between generations, and healthy, renewable family bonds.
Also: after looking at the finished product, I must say I had not planned for the story to be as long as it turned out. It took on a life of its own, and I refused to shortchange it. It may be too long for some readers; the ending leaves a lot for the reader to infer, and I have faith my readers will fill in the gaps correctly.
Sex and love are serendipitous – the really good stuff happens when we aren't looking.
So it was with Rebecca and me.
I was married, twenty years ago, to a woman named Rachel. She presented her virginity to me on our wedding night. She was demure and proper before we wed; afterward, she was uninhibited. We made love at the drop of a panty, any time and almost anywhere. Our love produced a daughter three years into our marriage, a golden-haired little stunner we named Bonnie.
Bonnie doesn't really remember her mother. Rachel awoke in the middle of the night, some eight years ago. She sat up, said, "I feel really funny..." and sank back into her pillow as if she were asleep. I was about half out of it, but I knew something wasn't right when I tried to rouse her to tell me what was wrong (or if I had been dreaming). She was unreachable. I turned on the light, and saw she was turning bluish. I call 911, but it was already way too late. She had suffered an aneurysm, and was probably dead before she finished speaking.
I soldiered on, a single dad with a little daughter to rear. I did the best I could on my own, but we lived in the burbs and I worked downtown. I couldn't fulfill my obligations to work and Bonnie, and live where we did, so we moved into a nice apartment downtown. That allowed me to carry on.
All went well for a few years. Bonnie became a second edition of her mother, a model-quality little girl.
One evening about five years ago, right after dinner, I heard some noise outside our apartment door. I opened the door and noticed some boxes in the doorway across the hall. I took them for moving boxes, based on what was printed on them. As I was examining them, the door opened and a young woman grabbed a box. She seemed a little startled to see me.
"I'm sorry," I said, " I was just about to conclude someone was moving in."
"That's me," she said.
"I live over here," I said, pointing to my door. "My manners are gone," I stammered. "My name is Jeff. May I give you a hand?"
She hesitated, and then, "Okay, sure. This one's going to be a beast," she said, pointing to the largest of them.
At that moment, my door opened behind us. Bonnie came out with her book-bag in hand. "Hey, Daddo, you mind if I..." Her voice trailed off as she saw us standing in the neighbor's doorway, grunting over what was in fact a very heavy box.
"Here, I'll hold the door," Bonnie announced, jumping over the box, into the apartment, and pulling the door open as wide as it would go. We were able to get the box in easily enough.
The neighbor stood up and wiped her hands on her pants, offering it to me, then to Bonnie. "I'm Rebecca Benton."
"Hi, Rebecca," I said.
"Nice to meet you, Ms Benton. I'm Bonnie," Bonnie replied.
"Hello, Bonnie. Please call me Rebecca," said Rebecca.
"Well, I dunno... Daddo sort of has a thing about me calling adults by their first names," Bonnie answered, shooting me a sly glance.
"If she wishes to be known as Rebecca, then Rebecca it is," I said, and both smiled. "So what was it you wanted to know if I minded?"
Bonnie did a double take, and said, "Oh, yeah, Mindy wants to know if I can come up and work on our HE project. I'll finish up the dishes when I get home..."
"7-8-9," I replied. "And don't sweat the dishes. I can get those."
"Thanks, Daddo," she said, her face breaking into a huge grin. "Very nice to meet you, Ms... I mean, Rebecca," she said; and with that she grabbed her book-bag and headed down the hall to the elevators.
"Such energy!" Rebecca said, laughing a little. "Nice manners, too. What's 7-8-9? Or do you mind my asking?"
I chuckled. "It means, 'I want you home by seven, so be home by eight, and nine at the latest.'" Rebecca looked puzzled. "It just means don't be out too late. It's a private thing between us."
Rebecca said, "I'm sorry, I'm being rude. Please sit."
We both sat down, and she asked, "You trust her to go out like that? My folks would never have let me go out on a school night. No criticism intended," she added hastily.
"None inferred," I smiled. "She's just going three floors up, to work on a Home Ec project with her friend. They're great kids. She'll be home before eight, I imagine."
"You give her plenty of rope. You must trust her a lot," she observed.
"Yes," I said, and I felt the smile fading. "She's that rarest of creatures, a no-nonsense free spirit. I just don't want to crush that in her. She's so much like her mother... Well, I don't mean to wax melancholy."
"So where's Mom? If you don't mind my asking," Rebecca asked.
"She died some years ago. I doubt Bonnie has any memories of her at all."
Rebecca murmured some words of condolence, and we lapsed into silence. "I should go," I said, after a moment. I stood and made for the door. She rose and followed me.
"Well, I appreciate the assistance. Perhaps I can return the favor sometime," she said, sounding as though she meant it. I winked and grinned, and got a grin in return.
I saw her from time to time after that, in the hallway, or at the grocery store. We exchanged pleasantries, and even had a few brief conversations.
Then the clock stepped in and set other things in motion.
I was doing the laundry one day, and noticed some dark red spots on Bonnie's underwear. Well, I thought, it's about that time. It struck me in that moment that she had been a little less outgoing for a week or so. Time to bite the bullet and prepare for "the talk."
The next morning at breakfast, I said, "So, is there anything in particular that's bothering you?"
"Not really," she grunted.
"Anything we need to talk about?"
"No!" she snapped.
I was silent for a moment. "You know, Bonnie, this is a time when changes occur. Girls' bodies..."
"I don't wanna hear about this!" she cried, and put her face in her hands. She was really distressed.
I put my hand on her elbow. She shook it violently away.
Another few moments of silence elapsed. "You know, Bonnie, we can talk about these things. I am Daddo, remember?"
She looked up, thoroughly wretched. "I'm sorry, I just can't."
"Is it because it's me, or because I'm a guy?" I asked.
"Yes," she replied.
I thought for a moment. "Okay," I said, and got up. I began to put the dishes away.
She sprang up and grabbed me in a huge hug. "I'm sorry, Daddo, I just don't know what to do."
I hugged her back and kissed the top of her head. "Well, I do. You need to get ready for school." I spun her around and swatted her bum. "Move, lady," I commanded.
She laughed as she complied, more relieved at the temporary return to normalcy than anything else, I suspect. I dropped her off at her school and went on to work. I formulated a plan I hoped would work.
That evening, she ran up to Mindy's again for some other homework deal. As soon as she was gone I walked across the hall and tapped on Rebecca's door.
She opened it, and said, "Jeff! How are you?"
"Well," I began, " I have a problem, and I kind of need your help."
"Come on in," she said. We both sat on her sofa.
"What can I do for you?" she asked earnestly.
"Well," I began, "it's about sex."
Her eyes widened, and before she could say anything else I held up my hand and said, "It's Bonnie. She's about to start her period, I think, and she needs to have... you know... that talk."
Rebecca regarded me for a moment. "So, why don't you just talk to her?
I shook my head. "I can't. I mean, I can, but she doesn't want to talk about it with me. I know they talk about the mechanics at school, but I want her to know the whole story. I could force her to listen, I guess; but, our relationship has always been so firmly based on trust, I don't want to... impose my will, I guess is what I'm trying to say."
She was silent for a moment. "Look," I said, "if you don't want to, I'll find another way. It's just that she likes you, and you'd probably do a great job..."
Rebecca smiled. "Okay," she said, "I'll do it. Just fill in the parameters."
I thought for a moment. "The parameters are whatever she wants to know." I was silent for a moment. "Rebecca," I continued, "this is my baby. I don't want her to get hurt. I want her to have all the information she needs."
Rebecca pursed her lips. "How far should I go?"
I shook my head. "I don't care. Just answer whatever she wants to know, no matter how detailed or explicit the conversation gets, I just don't care. Well, okay, within reason. All I can say is, use your best judgment."
She nodded sagely. "How about tomorrow evening?"
The next day was Friday; I could always find something important to have to do. I told her so.
And so it was done.
The next evening, just before dinner (which I had lamely told her would be cold cut sandwiches, 'in a few minutes') there was a tap on the door. Bonnie opened the door, and said, "Hi, Rebecca! Daddo, it's Rebecca!"
"I can see that, Bonnie. Hi, Rebecca, come on in."
"Well," said Rebecca, "I was sort of hoping Bonnie would come have dinner with me. I'd like to get to know her a little better."
Bonnie's eyes lit up. "Cool!" She looked at me. "Daddo, may I..."
"Go clean up a little, and have a great time," I interrupted.
"Cool!" she repeated, running out of the living room.
"I really appreciate this," I said.
"We're going to have fun," Rebecca promised.
Bonnie ran back into the living room. I gave her a quick kiss goodbye, and the two of them left.
Bonnie did not return for about three hours. I was not particularly worried, though I had begun to wonder what was going on.
Right about then the door flew open. Bonnie came roaring in. "Daddo," she exclaimed breathlessly, "Rebecca wants to know if I could sleep over?"
Rebecca was right behind her. "Girls' night out, without going anywhere," she said, a twinkle in her eye.
"Don't let the door slam you in the butt on the way out," I replied jauntily. Bonnie squealed with delight and ran to gather her things for an overnight.
"Everything okay?" I asked.
"Great," replied Rebecca. "You are officially off the hook."
Bonnie ran back in and hugged me. "See you tomorrow, Daddo," she said, and they retreated.
Bonnie returned the next day, her old self. She had clearly had a wonderful time.
The next evening, I was sitting on the sofa. Dinner was over, the dishes were washing, and I was deeply satisfied with the change in Bonnie's demeanor. She came and sat beside me, something she had not done in a while. "Daddo?" she said, looking serious, "will you tell me the truth? I mean, if I ask you something?"
"Always," I replied.
She thought for a second, and then said, "Did you and Mom really do all that sorta stuff? I mean, the sorta stuff Rebecca told me about?"
Time to play it cool. "Hmmm... I guess it really depends on what she talked about," I answered.
"Well," she began, "she told me all about sex. You know, intercourse and all that."
"I suppose we had to," I countered lightly, " or a certain Bonnie wouldn't be sitting here having this conversation with me, now, would she?" I grinned.
She narrowed her eyes to slits in mock anger, and then said, "No, but I mean, you know, all that other stuff. Like, the oral sex stuff."
You told her you'd answer truthfully, I told myself. "Yes, sweetie, we did."
She was silent for a moment; then: "So what made you want to do that?"
I shook my head. "Sorry, Punkin, that's private. That was between your mother and me. One day you'll understand. It's just... something I keep precious to myself."
She laid her head on my shoulder, and said, very softly, "I'm sorry."
I chuckled and placed my arm around her. "Don't be. Not your fault for wanting to know," I said lightly. "I'll tell you this: We did just about everything except for... what should I say, here?... the kinky stuff."
"Oh," she said, sitting back upright, "like anal? Oh, that sounds so gross. Well, it all sounds gross to me, but that part was too weird."
"There are other things, too, like tying people, and hurting them... we never came close to that," I added.
"Oh, yeah, she talked about that stuff, too. She said they were okay for con-send-ing adults.."
"Consenting," I corrected.
"Yeah, that's it, and she said some people did even worse things, but she wouldn't talk about them."
"Did she say why they did those things?" I asked.
"She said some people use sex to show love, and some people just use sex for themselves.," she answered.
"And do you understand that?" I pressed.
She frowned. "Not really, but I think I kind of get it."
"Okay," I said. "Tell me exactly what you think it means."
"Well," she started, and thought for a moment; then, "I think what she said was, if two people really love each other, they use sex to make each other feel good."
Pretty simplistic, I thought, but accurate. "And what does that tell you about when to have sex and when not to?"
"She said you should never have sex just because someone wants you to, because they might just be using you like you were some kind of toy."
Bravo, Rebecca, I thought. "Anything else?"
"Yeah," she said, apparently excited to be remembering so much. She clearly felt like a young woman with all this newfound knowledge. "She said girls a little older than I am have sex and get pregnant, and that meant you have to make bad decisions."
Bad? "You mean, tough decisions?" I ventured.
Her eyes lit up. "That's it! Tough decisions. But she wouldn't tell me any more about them. I guess I was getting kind of tired by then, and she wanted us to get some sleep."
She seemed to have grown up a visible notch. Not physically, mind you, but emotionally. She seemed a young woman, not a preteen.
She placed her head on my shoulder again and we fell silent. "Daddo? Do you miss her?"
"Your mom?" I asked. She nodded.
"Every day," I replied. "I really loved that woman, Bonnie. But it's not like it was, years ago. It's sort of faded away. Besides, I have you, and you remind me so much of your mother."
For the first time in my memory, Bonnie wiped away a little tear for her mother. I held her like that for a few minutes; then I arose, went into the kitchen, and poured two small glasses of ginger ale, which I brought to the living room.
I took my glass and held it up. "No more talk about the past. Here's to the future, and to a wonderful new friend named Rebecca," I said, and she raised her glass and clinked it with mine. We drank, and she kissed me on the cheek. All was right with the world, again.
All of this had happened just before the end of school. Bonnie went to visit her maternal grandparents every summer; and since I work for a governmental agency with a fiscal year of July-June, I was barely at home at all during June.
So it was I found myself relaxing over a very long July 4th weekend, the fiscal year successfully put away; when it occurred to me I had never properly thanked Rebecca.
I knocked on her door that Saturday morning. She opened, and looked happy enough to see me. I sensed a slight undercurrent of tension.
I explained, without sounding like making excuses, why I had unintentionally neglected her. She appeared to relax a little as I proffered a sincere apology.
"I suppose," she said when I finished, "I thought you had sort of forgotten about me. Not that I expected anything... I was just sort of hoping... Oh, I don't know..."
"That I would ask you out for a nice dinner as repayment?" I grinned. "That was my intent all along." We made plans to go to a very nice seafood house in town that evening.
Dinner was nice. I got to know more about her – she was divorced, no kids, older than I originally thought by a few years (she was almost thirty) – and I told her about the years I had spent with Rachel. It was a good time.
Throughout the meal, especially when I was talking about Rachel, I felt stirrings of nostalgia. Here I was with a gorgeous woman, having a pleasant evening out. Sex had not been a priority with me for so long, I had actually made the date without even thinking in that vein.
The longer we talked, the more I began to take stock of her. I had not noticed, but her breasts were small and very pert. Her hips were wide, though she was by no means fat. She was, I had to admit, sexy. My libido was awake.
We returned at about 8pm, and she accepted an invitation to have a glass of wine with me. I poured a Chardonnay apiece. We sat on the couch, and before anything else could happen the phone rang.
"Hello?" I answered.
"Hey, Daddo!" came a familiar voice. We talked for a few minutes. She outlined a lot of the things she had been doing. While she chattered, I held my hand to the mouthpiece and mouthed, "It's Bonnie." I made a yak-yak-yak motion with my hand, and Rebecca smothered a giggle; then she made a 'hello' wave.
Before Bonnie melted the phone, I said, "Slow down, kiddo. Write a letter. Remember them there thingies? A letttt-tter! Now, there's someone else here who wants to say hello."
I handed the phone to Rebecca, who said, "There must be a Bonnie on the other end of this phone!" She giggled; and from the way the giggling continued for the next few minutes, not to mention the low voices and back-turned to-me snippets, there must have been some serious girl talk going on.
Eventually I got the phone back, and Bonnie said, "Luv ya, Daddo. Gotta go! Hey, wait!" she called before I hung up.
"Yeah?" I said.
"Doofus me almost forgot, Grampa wants to talk to you," she said. She held the phone away from her mouth, and called, "Grammmmpa!"
I covered the mouthpiece and said, "Another short conversation is about to happen," and grimaced an apology.
"It's okay," she replied, "I'll go to the little girls' room," and left the sofa.
About that time, Rachel's father Frank picked up.
"Jeff?" he boomed, as always, "how you feelin'?"
I laughed. "Great, Frank," I replied.
"Look," he said, cutting to the chase as was his wont, "we've had a little excitement here, and we'd like to know if Bonnie could stay another few weeks."
"Now, Frank," I said, "how do I say 'yes' to that without sounding like I want more solitude from my boisterous preteen daughter?"
We shared a nice chuckle over that. Frank and I had always been able to tickle one another's funny bone.
"Well, like I said, we've had some excitement." He sounded a little more sober when he said, "A cousin of mine, he and I used to be real close.. well, we fell out of touch a while back. Been about thirty years since we saw one another, about the time Rachel was, oh, fifteen or so."
"You've re-established contact, I'm thinking is the next thing you're going to tell me," I interjected.
He chuckled. "No moss growing on you, my friend. See, we've sort of planned a family reunion for the first week of August. Now, he's got grandkids about Bonnie's age, so she's excited about that... but," and he sounded very sober again, "the adult kids remember Rachel, and they want to meet you. I mean, you and Bonnie..." He trailed off.
"I get it. You want me to come up and join in the shindig," I observed.