Calculus, F. Chemistry, D. English, C-. Richard crumpled the grades in his fist and made a perfect three-pointer in the wastebasket across the room. He had known he wasn't the brightest bulb in the box, and his first semester grades proved it. Why had he even bothered with college?
Because he and his best friend Jerrod pretty much did everything together, that's why. But Jerrod had just joined the army. Suddenly Richard had no roommate, a student loan on his ass, and proof that attending spring semester would be pointless.
Yet going back home would be a giant step backwards. It was one he didn't want to take. Getting a job didn't bother him in the least, in fact, he was looking forward to it. But the day in and day out frowning of his parents would suck mightily. Even if they never came out and called him a failure, their attitude would scream it.
The ringing of his phone cut into his morose thoughts. It was Jerrod's mom, Louisa. "Hey."
"Did you get your grades yet?"
For a second Richard was tempted to lie and say no, maybe they would be in the mail tomorrow. But he'd never been able to lie to this very nice lady. He told her everything. It felt good to get stuff off his chest.
Louisa listened sympathetically for a while before she spoke up: "Did you ever see the movie Pay It Forward?"
"You know the pretext of the film, right? You give back a favor that was given to you. Only you don't give it back to the original person -- you give it to the next person."
"Uh-huh." Rich couldn't quite see where this was going.
Louisa took a deep breath. "Did I ever tell you I was fired from my first job?"
Richard sat up in surprise. "How is that possible? You're one of the smartest people I know!"
Louisa smiled, wishing they were talking over coffee. She went on to tell him about her very first job after college. "At the end of my twelve-month contract, they hired somebody else in my place. I was devastated."
"What'd you do?"
"Well, I called a friend, someone who had always been a good listener. I was talking about how I didn't want to go back home in disgrace, but I felt I had no choice. And he invited me to come and live with him until I got back on my feet."
"Wow. And he just did this, out of the goodness of his heart?"
"Yep, he really did. He didn't put the moves on me or anything. He was genuinely a good friend, and I'll never forget that kindness."
"What a great friend."
"Richard, what I'm trying to say is, if you don't want to go back home, you can stay at my place for a while. You can have Jerrod's old room. He sure isn't using it."
Richard's mouth fell open. In the back of his mind he had sort of put two and two together as she filled out her story, but the generosity still astonished him. "Are you sure? You'd really do this for me?"
"Yep. I'm really sure."
* * *
Richard carried the last of the four boxes into Jerrod's room. At the age of eighteen, he hadn't acquired a lot of stuff. He'd sold back his books at the student bookstore, shaking his head at the robber baron's prices. After that, he basically had some clothes, his computer, and a few good quality tools.
Louisa tapped on the door. "How you doing?"
He turned and smiled. "Great." He hesitated for a moment, then spoke his mind. "Hey listen, I'd like to thank you. Can I take you out to dinner?"
"You don't have to do that," she said sincerely. "Frankly, I'm just as glad to have your company. It's kind of boring, living alone."
"I'd really like to." He looked her in the eye.
Louise felt a twinge of tension in her gut. "All right, then. What time?"
"I'll pick you up at six."
Something made her blush and look away.
* * *
Right on the dot at six o'clock, Richard rang the doorbell. Louisa thought this was somewhat silly, since he lived there now, but also rather charming. To her astonishment, he was all dressed up in a suit of dark grey flannel. Louisa had fussed over what to wear, finally deciding on a silk dress with a flowing skirt, hoping it wasn't too dressy. But they looked a perfect couple together, even if she did look a little older.
"You look gorgeous," he greeted her, and held out his offering of simple wildflowers.
"Thanks!" She couldn't help but smile — he had always made her smile — somehow this gesture was an extension of the boy she had known for years — quietly considerate. The funny feeling quivered again in her stomach but she chose to ignore it. "You clean up nice, yourself."
"Thanks," he grinned.
He smiled. "I know just the place."
Over dinner he felt compelled to ask again about the story she had told him on the phone. "You're not just making that up? I mean, it really happened?"
She nodded. "It really did."
He shook his head. "I still can't understand why the company let you go."
"Mmm, it was actually a good thing. That job wasn't right for me, and the truth was I hated it. My boss knew it, and though it seemed awful at the time, getting out of there freed me to pursue something I really liked."
"Or forced you to."
Louisa nodded in agreement. "Right. And I think in the same way, college maybe isn't a good fit for you. I bet there's something else you like better that would make you happier."
Richard digested this along with his Chilean sea bass. He reflected that Louisa had been a friendly presence in his life for a long time — he tried to remember how long. Junior high, that was it. She had always cared about how he was doing, and always seemed to know what to say.
"I think I like carpentry better than anything else. Sometimes," he laughed, "sometimes I walk through the lumber aisle at the hardware store, just to smell the wood."
She grinned in return. "There you go! Maybe that's what you're really cut out to do. Sorry about the pun."
"Did you know the pun is the lowest form of humour?"
"I've been resisting the urge to evolve," she sassed back.
They bantered their way through dinner. Louisa watched the couples whirling across the floor. A traditional big band was playing. She loved this music — real musicians playing real instruments — not the modern electronic stuff that seemed to require no skill or craftsmanship. Half joking, she asked, "Care to dance?"
Eyes alight, he replied, "That's my line." He stood and held out his hands to hers.
Slowly he led her out to the floor. The band was playing a simple waltz, there was not much to it. Yet she sensed a fluidness in his movement. She was thinking, There is more to him than meets the eye, when the trumpets chirped into a sauntering foxtrot. Her partner did not miss a beat. He really knew how to dance!
Richard smiled at the look of surprise on her face. She nearly stumbled, and he caught her. His arms were strong around her. Louisa drew in her breath as she laughed into his eyes. "Whoa! Guess I wasn't quite ready for that!"
Even as she smiled up at him, she was aware of a growing undercurrent between them. She gave herself over to the dance. God knew how many years it had been since she laughed and danced! She let herself be led through a tango, enjoying the roses in both of their cheeks.
Breathless at last, they went back to their table. The staff had thoughtfully left large glasses of ice water. Louisa took a gulp and asked, "Where did you learn to do that?"
"Oh..." he inclined his head to one side. "When I was growing up, my mother insisted that I take dance lessons. For ten years!" He rolled his eyes. "I wasn't too fond of it at the time, but I have to confess I enjoy it now."
Louisa shook her head. She had the feeling she was getting to know her son's friend more deeply, as an adult in his own right. For years she had thought of Richard almost as another son. Now he had grown into a man. Some kind of conflict itched at the back of her mind.
A similar conflict was brewing in the mind of her date. To his annoyance, at one point while they were dancing, Richard had gotten an erection. He couldn't help it. His eighteen-year-old body reacted to the motion of a woman in his arms. Through his trousers, he could feel the silk of her clothing gliding by. His mouth tightened. Louisa had been almost like a second mom to him. Yet her warmth under his hands was provocative, vivid.
It didn't help matters any that he was a virgin. His desire was magnified by carnal curiosity. His mind slid down the slippery slope: as he brushed his fingers across the zipper at the back of her dress, he imagined undressing her completely. What kind of underwear did she have on? He thought it wouldn't be standard utility stuff. A matching bra and panty set, maybe, or some kind of teddy...
"You look far away." The woman of whom he was dreaming interrupted his thoughts.
"Oh!" He shook his head and gave a light laugh. "I guess I'm kind of ready to call it a night." This was not the case. He could have danced with her until the place closed down, but he couldn't think of what else to say. "Would you sleep with me tonight?" That hardly seemed appropriate. That kind of stuff only worked in the movies.
Louisa looked a little disappointed. She, too, was greatly enjoying the evening. Oh, well, maybe there would be another time. She agreed and said after all it was a big day tomorrow. Thankfully he didn't press the point. The following day was in fact an empty Saturday, no work, no nothing.
The two drove home in amiable companionship, reliving little moments of the evening. "We'll definitely have to do this again."
"I couldn't agree more. Thank you, Richard, this was really wonderful."
"My pleasure." He took his eyes off the road for a moment to glance at his companion. Delight suffused her face, and he thought he had never seen her looking more lovely. The fact that he had brought her happiness caused a warm feeling to swell in his chest.
They were home. As they walked toward the door, Richard mulled over three or four sentences, trying to come up with the best way to express what he wanted to say. He didn't want to sound like he was handing her a line. "You know," he said carefully, "I really enjoy your company."
"Thanks, I enjoy yours, too." Her tone was easy. "You want some coffee or something? A little nightcap?"
"Nothing for me, thanks." He did love talking with her, spending time with her, but what he really wanted to do right now was grab her and kiss her. This would obviously be a mistake. It was better to get out of there before he did something stupid.
As he stood there feeling awkward, Louisa put her arms around him in a friendly hug. "I'll just say good night then. Thanks again for a wonderful evening."
With some hesitation he returned her embrace. Her long chestnut hair was soft beneath his hands. He brushed the crown of her head with his lips, breathed in her perfume and the scent of her body, and was lost.
Their arms tightened around one another. Each felt the other's heart rate increase. They held still, close together, for a long moment. Richard felt himself growing.
She lifted her face from his chest and looked into his eyes. "We shouldn't," she whispered.
"This isn't why I invited you to live here. I wasn't thinking that."
"I know." And he kissed her anyway, sliding his tongue into her mouth while his hands caressed the small of her back.
Louisa moaned against his lips and rubbed against him like an affectionate cat. He pulled away and reached for his car keys.
"Where are you going?"
"To the drugstore."
"Oh," she said with a gentle laugh. "I don't think — how many girls have you slept with?"
A look of embarrassment crossed his face. "Well, none."
"I can't get pregnant. I had surgery," she added at his confused look. She stepped back into his arms and started to unbutton his shirt.
She was not motherly anymore. He saw her as a woman — a very attractive, desirable woman, who had been a trusted friend for many years. Suddenly everything felt warm and right.
The zipper of her dress had been teasing him all night. It hissed as he pulled it down. By now Louisa had his shirt open. With the pads of her fingertips she circled his nipples, causing him to draw a sharp breath. Her back arched as he began to explore beneath her clothing. Passion etched their faces.
She had to stand on tiptoe to reach his ear. "Let's go to bed," she whispered, and nipped at his earlobe. Then she rolled her tongue along the spiral of his ear.
Wordlessly he agreed. She took him by the hand and led him to her bedroom. The sight of her dress, gapping open in the back, drew him on. As she walked he caught glimpses of her dark blue bra strap. He was acutely aware of the succession of soft sounds: their footsteps on the carpet, the fluttering of their loose clothing.
Louisa turned on a small bedside lamp. Her back was to him. With just a slight push of his hands, her dress fell away and puddled at her feet. He admired the sapphire blue ensemble underneath. The lace of her bra invited his fingers. He traced the intimate curves and saw her nipples start to perk up.
"You're so beautiful." His voice was husky.
"So are you. But you're wearing too many clothes." She reached for his belt and he helped her unbuckle it. As soon as his pants were off she laid a hand to his stiffness. Even through his underwear, her caress shot sparks along his nervous system.
He moaned as she began to stroke him. "Oh, god. Oh, Louisa."
He was so out of his mind with desire that he could barely steady his fingers to loosen the clasp of her bra. The skinny straps slid down her arms as he pulled the garment away, and her breasts fell free. "Christ," he swore, and gently pushed her down on the bed.
The newness of Richard's experience communicated a heightened energy to her own pleasure. Louisa reveled in his caresses. He ran his fingers over her breasts, lifting them and enjoying them. Her breasts seemed made for his hands, so perfectly did they fit. He took one nipple into his mouth, provoking a sharp gasp from his lover. She held onto his powerful biceps as he began to suck the tender point of flesh.
"Harder. Harder," she encouraged him. He did as she asked. The sensations ripped through her body and darted a message directly to her clitoris. Above the waistband of his underwear the head of his cock pushed between her legs, straining towards home. The wet spot in her panties grew larger.
"I can't stand it," she gasped, and tugged at his briefs. She lifted them away from his cock and for the first time, he felt a woman's hand moving up and down his naked length. A dribble of pre-cum leaked out. He watched, almost in shock, as her feminine hand gripped his cock. She seemed to know what she as doing.
He wanted her to be naked as well. Her panties, pretty as they were, had to go. They slid off rather easily. The lace scraping over her ass and thighs, down her calves and past her feet, teased her with erotic sensation. The feel of his hands running over her body inflamed her desire. She rolled on her backside and landed beneath him, her ankles placed a bit wider than his hips.
Panting, resting back on her elbows, she regarded him. His face was flushed with desire and his naked torso was muscular. God, he was gorgeous!
Richard studied Louisa just as intently. His eyes drank in the first fully nude woman he had ever been with. Her pink nipples stood at attention and her legs were open. There was a faint scar on her belly. A thatch of chestnut hair covered her groin. A few thoughts flitted across his mind — had she ever shaved it — would she — if so, would she let him shave her? The mental image made him shudder.
"I want to taste you first," he said quietly.
"Oh!" She fell back on the pillow. "Yes. Yes..."
Gently he pushed her thighs apart. With one hand he stroked the hair upward and with the other he fingered the contours of her sex. He probed the pink folds more deeply. How wet she was! His mind was everywhere and nowhere all at the same time, buzzing with new information, taking in the sight, the feel, the smell of her.
He looked up to see how she was taking it, and his breath caught in his throat. The look in her eyes let him know exactly what he was doing to her. He had never seen a woman so aroused. And he was the object of her desire.
As if in a dream he dipped his face to her sex. He touched her first with the tip of his tongue, exploring the taste and texture of woman. "Don't tease me," gasped his lover, and he buried his face in her valley.
She was delicious, kind of sweet and salty at the same time. He scooped up tonguefuls of her cream, rolling the taste around in his mouth. "Mmmmmmm." The vibrations of his voice traveling through her flesh made her cry out. Her reaction emboldened him to try more things. He worked his tongue into her crevices; he sucked at her lips. He nudged his nose against the tiny pink nub.
Everything he did seemed to bring her joy. It was a mutual pleasurefest. Several times she cried out, and she was writhing around so hard that he had to hold her still, but she seemed to enjoy it when he held her fast.
At last he lifted his head. Her hands had been digging into his hair. "Did you cum?" he asked.
Her eyes grew wide and she nodded vigorously. "Oh my god, yes." She pulled him up and hugged him. "That was fantastic—" she kissed the side of his sticky face, several times, and said in his ear: "I need to feel you inside me now."
He steadied himself above her and she took him in hand, guiding him to her entrance. The sound of their breathing was loud in his ears. Their eyes met as the tip of his cock found the warm wet place between her legs.
"Louisa." He trembled. He pushed a little ways in, and it seemed as if his world was bursting into Kodachrome. Louisa groaned and lifted her hips to meet him. She was so slippery, he slid all the way in. Briefly they held the moment, locked in one another's arms. He kissed her deeply. "Thank you" didn't seem like the right thing to say, but no small measure of gratitude tempered his lust.
Instinct guided his hips. His cock felt massaged by a thousand tiny fingers. The perfect tight friction was like nothing he'd ever felt as he began to thrust in and out of her. She bucked beneath him, moving with him, and the dance was theirs. Waves of pleasure rocked through their bodies, faster and faster as his tempo increased. They grunted the age-old chant.
"Don't stop!" she pleaded. The mountaintop was in sight. He dragged her there and she shrieked, and sooner than he wanted to, he came. His orgasm blasted from his body. The noise he made was almost that of a man in anguish. He buried himself in her as deeply as he could. In a flashflood he filled her well.
Eyes closed, he lay on her chest, panting and sweating. "Thank you," he breathed. His voice was deeper than usual. Every muscle in his body felt relaxed and warm.
"I didn't mind," she teased him. "You're not so bad."
"Really? Not too awful, huh?" Sleepily he smiled at her.
Louisa chuckled and kissed his forehead. "I haven't felt this good since a bowling ball fell on my foot."
He laughed into her collarbone, and she turned out the light.