Roomers Ch. 06


She came back and sat facing me again.

'I unpacked my clothes.'

'Good. Later on we'll talk about decidin' how to do this. Not now though. You rest up a little more, take your time. You're kinda embarrassed right now, and you oughta get over that first.' If she hadn't been there I swear I'da done a fuckin' happy shuffle.

The rest of the day she was quiet, and Monday I dropped her two blocks away from the office, went and parked where I always did. Said nothing, got on with what I was doing. When I left I didn't hang around, just went home. She got back an hour later and went to change, then came and sat down.

'I'll leave the couch for you,' she said, trying for natural. 'It's got your body contours on it.'

'You can use it when I'm not here. How ya feelin' now?' She closed her eyes for a moment.

'Lousy but safe. Uh, I couldn't move when you banged the door open, but I can remember everything, and you didn't uh, touch me or anything, not even pretend by accident, and that night was the same: your hand never moved off my shoulder. So thank you for that, and yesterday, and being normal today.' I put my hand up.

'That's enough. You ready to talk some? I'm not gonna do all the cooking, that's for sure.'

Turned out she was ready, just, and we worked some stuff out. Split the rent, put another phone line in, get rid of her apartment, put the past behind her, lay the memories to rest, usual bullshit. She looked happier when I didn't push her about having a ride to work: said she didn't want anyone to know about her change of circumstances, and that was fine by me.

'What about the holidays, Doug?' she asked at the end. Click.

'Annie's regular guy's in town so I don't have firm plans...' I realized what I'd said when her eyebrows went up, so I hadta explain a little. Clicks know best.

'It's what I said, Kelly,' I said when I'd laid it out. 'Friends with privileges, but we got lives too. She says that we're in like with each other, and I guess that's a good way of puttin' it. She's never said, but I guess he knows. He's kinda hippy too, spends a lotta time traveling, couple, three months sometimes, then he's back for a while. She don't let us overlap and I respect that. You shocked?' She thought some and then shook her head.

'Surprised, I suppose, but if it works... who am I to judge? You're different from what I thought. Will you tell her I'm living here?'

'Annie and me, we don't have a lot of secrets.' She was happy with that, said she wasn't doin' anything special over Christmas, would it be OK if she just hung out.

'Shit, Kelly. Ya fuckin' live here, where else you gonna hang out? And you'll have to get used to me cussin'. I ain't gonna say "excuse me" to a roommate.' That got a real smile, first one for days. The next day I did some thinking and then went shopping.

Small Christmas tree, symbolic, just one tasteful star on the top and a coupla restrained ornaments. Coupla friend-type presents, plus one purely frivolous, chicken to roast, coupla bottles good wine, candles so's to look a little hokey. The twenty-fourth was a Thursday and McCarthy gave everyone the day off, make it a four day weekend, and I went home real quick after work Wednesday, set the stuff up, put the presents under the tree, went off to the gym, then slipped round to tell Annie Happy Christmas, drop off her present. She was pleased with that, hugged me, cussed about her guy bein' arrived, laughed at herself some, and I went home. Kelly was out, but she'd been back, I could tell. I love it when stuff goes right. Twenty minutes later she arrived and stuck her head round the door.

'Close your eyes, Doug.' I did as I was told and heard her fussin' round the tree, putting stuff down. 'OK, you can look.' Of course, there were a coupla extra parcels there. I blew her a kiss, first time ever.

'Now all we gotta do is wait till Friday. You wanna go out for a meal tonight?'

'Do you know, I think I would. I'm going to pay though.' Click.

'I hope. You make more than me.' That got a startled look and then a smile.

We had a quiet time. I read a lot and she sat quiet, healing some, I guess. Christmas Day I cooked, set it all up while she fixed a fruit salad. I made eggnog and pushed her through to the front room, made her open her presents; she'd bought me a sweater and a pair of cufflinks. Way original. I was of course pleased as punch, gave her a little kiss on the cheek. She looked at my gifts.

'Doug, you thought about this. How did you know I needed a green scarf? And pure silk too. And the earrings match just beautifully.' I managed to blush.

'Shit, Kelly, I seen your entire wardrobe. Green suits you and you know it. I wasn't sure about the other one though.' I'd given her a jokey book about how to stomp on guys so they never got up again, and she'd looked at it and put it down.

'Not right now, but one day soon.'

'Attagirl. Come and eat.'

We did that and killed both bottles, and afterwards we sat on the couch and watched some crud on TV and kinda drifted asleep. Her head slipped and landed on my shoulder, and I put my arm round her, nowhere near her breast. Hard fuckin' call, that was. When I woke up she hadn't moved, and when I started to sit up she pulled me back down.

'I'm comfortable if you are. Gee, I feel fat.'

'Kelly, you're fat like Bill Clinton is honest. I seen you, remember?' She stiffened, then relaxed and managed a laugh.

'That seems so long ago already. You're unusual, Doug, country sophisticated, I suppose. I don't know a single other guy who wouldn't have tried the "let me comfort you" line by now. How come you know that stuff?' I gave her shoulder an encouraging squeeze. Click.

'Shit, Kelly, I like ya, and you're beautiful, and just for the fuckin' record I'm jumpin' outa my skin, but I don't hit on people who been hurt. And don't you be thinkin' gratitude either: that's just as bad. Whyntcha just sit quiet for now and if you're good I'll let you have the remote, show you I care.' She giggled but it turned into a sob and I quickly put the remote in her hand.

'Anything you like, girl, even a shopping channel. That's how much I care.'

After the holidays McCarthy called me in, sat me down, and asked me what I thought. He'd been talking some with Kelly the day before, so I stayed with the interesting but not totally sure line. He nodded.

'You ain't hungry enough yet. You've worked some though. You wanna take a shot at the real thing, smell the money?' Does a bear shit in the fuckin' woods?

'I'd like that, Mr. McCarthy.'

'Thought ya would. I'll give you some things I been thinkin' about, you work them up. Feasibility studies. You run them past Kelly, she likes them, she'll pass them to me. I say look a little more, she'll work with you.' He looked at me closely. 'That girl likes you, Doug, and she's batted for you something fierce. Made me promise to offer you the same bonus deal she's got. Decision on whether to go is mine though, and no sulking if I say no. It's my money. OK?'

'You want me to argue, Mr. McCarthy?' His lips twitched.

'God made you a smart-ass already, Doug. No need to work on it.'

That night at dinner I leveled my finger at her.

'I owe you, Kelly Holden. McCarthy's gonna let me loose on some real stuff, and from what he said you mighta tipped the scales. Just hope you didn't exaggerate too much. Tell me how ta thank ya properly.' She'd blushed while I was speaking and now she shook her head mulishly.

'You owe me nothing.' I let it go, and went out after the meal, ponderin' some. I found my feet were takin' me along the route to Annie's place and then my brain clicked quietly and caught up with them.

When she answered the door she yelped kinda happily and jumped at me.

'Shit, Doug, I was just thinkin' 'bout you. Howd'ya know that? I was gonna call you, tell ya Ray's taken off again. Whatcha been doin?'

'Christmas, work, missin' you some. Need to tell ya somethin' too.' She looked at my face closely, her eyes only a little bit stoned.

'Don't look like anything bad. You wanna tell me when we're resting up?' Well, shit, of course I did, and I let her pull me up the stairs, past her Dad, zoned in his headphones like always, and into her room. She stripped in about two seconds, hopped onto the bed and looked up at me.

'C'mon, studly, we got catching up to do.' I began to take my shirt off real slow.

'Jeez, Annie, you hippies sure are impatient. What happened to "hey man, take it easy" that kind of stuff?' She reached out and began undoing my belt.

'Hell, Doug, we stopped that shit in seventy-eight, no-one ever told ya?' She heaved and pulled me over onto the bed, then crawled round for a while, makin' sure I got completely naked. She tossed my boxers over her shoulder and grinned.

'Hard as fuckin' steel already. You want me to take care of that for you?' She didn't wait for a reply, just dropped her head and started right in.

Shit, I love bein' blown. I mean, so does everyone I guess, but I think I gotta special appreciation. As her mouth slid down my shaft and her tongue flickered over the crown, I sighed happily and stroked her butt and pussy the way she liked. Little bit of undergrowth, nothing excessive. Mebbe ol' Ray liked whiskers. She was drippin' wet, and I closed my eyes and explored her some while her head bobbed up and down and I wallowed in the sensations she could squeeze outa me. Girl was an expert. Holdin' back from jumpin' on Kelly had kinda tightened me up and it was only 'bout three minutes when I felt the tide rising and the warm flow beginning to spill. I came like a fuckin' rocket, full of bright colors and tingles flying through me, and when I was done and she'd cleaned me off like she always did, I hauled her up and kissed her good. I don't like the taste much, but hell, she deserved it. Made it easier to tell her 'bout Kelly too.

I was kinda startled when I returned the compliment: I never known any one enjoy herself as much as that girl, and that kinda spurred me on. She was squeakin' and gaspin' and jumpin' about, making a lot more noise than usual, and when she'd recovered she turned round and lay on my chest, her eyes closed, panting some and chewin' my ear.

'Fuckin' ace. Whatcha need to tell me, Doug?' She lay quietly while I told her how and why and stuff like that, and she listened and didn't say anything. When I'd finished she rolled off me and sat cross-legged, lookin' at my face.

'There's more to it than that, Doug. You wouldn't cross the fuckin' street for her if it didn't suit you. You plannin' to screw her?'

'Annie, she's beautiful and she's smarter than me and she's sure kinda tempting, but she's been hurt bad and she works at the desk nexta mine. You think I'm gonna screw someone who's in my house, at my work, and is kinda flakey right now? I told her 'bout you right before Christmas. She seen us together once' She looked real pleased at that.

'You did? Never told that Judy 'bout me, far as I know.'

'That was then, Annie. You wanna call, wanna come round, you do that, OK?' She kinda sniffed and looked away for a minute, then kissed me.

'There's more to it than you're sayin', but that ain't my business. Two things: you two wanna fuck, that's between you and her: I ain't gonna stop bein' in like with ya, specially seein' as you're being as honest as you dam' well can, and two, I'm gonna give you the best main course you ever had in your fuckin' life.' So she did that and I went home feeling pretty good, with a couple of marks on me to show she cared. I think she did that as a test but I didn't call her on it.

Hippy or preppy, women are women, and I wasn't surprised when she called a coupla days later, said she'd forgotten to thank me for her Christmas present and could she visit. I told her sure, did she want beer or wine, and hung up. When I went back in the lounge Kelly was gathering her stuff up.

'I'll just stay in my room, Doug, unless you'd rather I went out.'

'Jeez, Kelly, you're kinda dumb sometimes. She's comin' round to check you out, satisfy her curiosity, just like I bet you been wondering whether you oughta go buy yourself a new bong or something.' That one caught her right between the eyes, and she blushed scarlet, then saw me grinning and managed a small smile.

'You're pretty annoying sometimes, Doug. How do you know that sort of thing?'

'It's a mysterious power I gained in the Orient. You better satisfy each other's curiosity. Hell, I might even go out, let the two of you get on with it.'

Tell the truth, seein' them together was kinda fun: different physically, mentally, background, education, everything, and just sitting there, chatting carefully about where they had their goddam hair done. Women are weird sometimes. After a while somethin' happened between them, damned if I know what, but Kelly said she really needed to take a shower and I found myself taking Annie home. She was extra enthusiastic sayin' goodnight and I got home kinda late, worrying about blood-loss. Good job Kelly wasn't a night bird, or she'da wanted to have me get a tetanus shot.

Tell the truth, I was getting' kinda absorbed in the work. I sorta knew enough to have some idea 'bout what I should be lookin' for, so I paid real close attention to everything that crossed my desk. McCarthy made jokes about me getting hungry, and Kelly smiled and said nothing. The two old dragons huffed and puffed and Kelly and I laughed about them some. I noticed Kelly was gettin' kinda casual about the bathroom door, unless she was taking a dump, and evenings and weekends her modesty wasn't what it had been. Like I said, never fuckin' push the smart ones. You gotta let them come to you. I visited Annie some to relieve the tension and the months slipped by pretty quick, a day at a time.

One of the things I did was think. Seemed like my ability was pushin' some, wanting to help. I'd been thinkin' about bein' rich for a while now: hell, ever since High School, and the pressure of five years' wanting musta built something up. It somehow felt like if I didn't respond to the push, dreamin' was all it was gonna be. I thought about Judy, and decided she was probably OK. Hell, two years or more heals most wounds. I didn't know who was gonna get hurt this time round, but I promised myself it would be the last. Once I had what I wanted, I'd stop. Decision made. I started going to the gym every evening and gave myself a heavy reading program, post grad level history, real taxing. Nights I lay in bed and imagined how I'd organize my life.

Summer was coming in when Kelly started makin' "we oughta talk" signals. They're easy enough to recognize, so the next night I put scotch on the coffee table after our meal, poured two glasses and gave her one. She looked at me and raised her eyebrows.

'You wanna get serious about something, Kelly, and it's always better to do that with a glass in your hand. Tell me what's on your mind.' She looked surprised.

'I swear you're a mind-reader sometimes, Doug. You're right, and...' She hemmed and hawed and went around the houses some, and it turned out she was feeling a whole lot better and I'd been so much help, and she couldn't impose on me any longer, stuff like that. I stopped her. Click, loud and clear. Hadn't expected that. I mean I'd been careful not to think too hard about Kelly, except for her trusting my work when I needed her to.

'Kelly, you wanna go get your own place again, that's great. You want more privacy than we got here, stop sharin' a bathroom, that's great too, normal, don't surprise me at all. But you dress it up with stuff like not wantin' to be in the way, not wantin' to impose, crap like that, well shit, I thought we knew each. Sure you're feeling better, any fool can see that, and if I was pissed about you bein' here I'd be sayin' so by now. You may have noticed I ain't doin' that, and that's because I don't feel fuckin' imposed on, and I like livin' with you. You wanna leave, do it because you're ready, long as I get your new phone number.' Hell of a speech. I took a sip of scotch and waited. She had a funny look on her face and damned if I knew what was happening in her head. Soon found out though. She chugged her scotch, got outa her chair and padded over to the couch.

'Remember Christmas Day? I nodded. 'I sat on the couch with you and we fell asleep and I wouldn't let you move your arm and you let me have the remote?' I nodded again and she sat down next to me. 'Like that again, Doug. I can't say this and look at you at the same time.' I put my arm over her shoulder and she settled against me. I felt her take a deep breath.

'You are the kindest guy I've ever met, and I don't know what made me choose you to collapse on, but ever since I began to think again I've been marveling at how lucky I am and how nice it is living here. But I've got to move on because I'm getting way too fond of you. I mean way too fond, Doug. I've been making sort of shy little signals at you, and that's not what I do, and anyway you're with Annie, and, and I... oh dammit, Doug, when you spend the night with her I imagine you and her together, and when we're here at night with just one wall between us, I want to come and jump in with you. Oh shit, I shouldn't have told you that. I'll move out as soon as I find a place, I promise.' She stopped and I felt her breasts rising and falling fast against my side. Click.

'Guess you're feelin' better, Kelly. Three things: one, I told you Annie and I are friends with privileges, not a couple, and we for sure don't "have" each other. She's got her regular guy and that doesn't stop me bein' in like with her. I've known her five years, and I've been with other people in that time, and it hasn't stopped her bein' in like with me. We're both of us good with that. Two, I know you been makin' signals 'cause I'm not stone blind, and it's been real difficult. Could justa been that you were feeling relaxed, unthreatened, stuff like that. Shit, you were pretty bad around Christmas, and I remember that some. But I said back then, jokin' but true, I was jumpin' outa my skin and that ain't changed, except it's no joke. And three, there's nothing in my rule book says you can only have one friend with privileges.' She was quiet for a while, and I kept my hand where it was. Trustworthy Doug. Then she stirred and reached up, took my hand and pulled it down so it was resting on her breast. Way to go, Kelly.

'What would you say to Annie?' Typical fuckin' woman's question. She'd made her mind up and now she was dickin' around. I felt my cock squirming round some in my pants.

'I told you Annie and I ain't got many secrets. If she asked I wouldn't lie to her. But she's only asked once, and that was because I was in bad shape and she was kinda worried.' She was quiet again, her thumb running over the back of my hand, still holding it to her breast.

'Do you think you could show me how friends with privileges works?'

Shit, she surprised the hell outa me. If Annie was a boilermaker, heartwarming shot, cooling chaser, then Kelly was a Brandy Alexander, if you can imagine a Brandy Alexander slowly heatin' up. She'd turned on the couch, stretching her arms up to me, and raised her face for a kiss. She'd been thinkin' about this more than me, and she probably had some kinda picture in her head, so I let her take the wheel. She was trembling some, and her hands were sorta sweaty, but when I touched my lips to hers her mouth opened and her tongue slipped out to welcome me, then her arms closed round my neck and pulled me hard against her. My hand was still on her breast and I could feel her heart thumpin' through her bra and blouse. She arched her back slightly and pushed up against it and I began to stroke her softly while her mouth fluttered under mine and our tongues slid wetly against each other.

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