Rosa, My LovebyPussyrider©
My name's Mark Dowd, and until a few months ago I was a corporate lawyer with Crombie, Noble, Hansen and Petrie, one of the giants of American law, with offices in New York and half a dozen other major cities across the country, plus London, Paris and Rome. I'm 31, six-feet-one tall and, if I say so myself, good looking, with typical black Irish features -- vigorous hair the colour of jet, flashing dark eyes and high cheekbones that I flatter myself give me a kind of Heathcliff look. I work out regularly enough that I'm trim without being a Schwarzenegger-build-alike. Dad and Mom died in an auto crash a few years ago; he was considered one of the giants among East Coast jurists, and as their sole beneficiary any financial concerns I might ever have had -- as if -- went with them. (My listing in The New Yorker's 100 Most Eligible Bachelors a few years ago, courtesy of an old girlfriend who was a journalist there, was embarrassing.)
Entering the law wasn't so much a career decision for me as an inheritance. After graduating Harvard I chose to join CNHP rather than my old man's venerable Boston firm, and I opted for the New York office to move out of his sphere of influence. Despite that, in my first couple of years I got totally sick of hearing the phrase, always delivered in reverential tones, "He's Jordan Dowd's boy". It was dreaming of one day hearing "Jordan was Mark Dowd's father" that drove me in the early days. In a firm like ours 70-plus hour weeks aren't just common, they're expected. No-one tells you that, it's just known that that's what required if you want to rise to the top in a pool of ambitious young sharks who'll give you their friendliest smile as they rip out your guts. At the point when my tale starts I was probably within two years of partner status, moving towards salary and bonuses in the very high six figures, probably seven with the right client base and enough billable hours.
I knew I had a problem when my supervising partner, Mitchell McKendrick, called me in to his office. He and I had met with one of our biggest corporate clients earlier in the day, and at one point I'd completely goofed out. I'd called the client -- a stuffy WASP -- Mr Gerschowitz, I'd forgotten the name of the business rival they were prosecuting (in my own defense, there have been so many in the past couple of years), and generally I'd looked like an incompetent paralegal on my first day in the job as I leafed wildly through my file. The moment passed, but not without a long, uncomfortable silence from both McKendrick and the client. So I knew I was going to get chewed out. I wasn't prepared for the full message he had for me though.
McKendrick's only about ten years older than me, but as I sat in front of his huge antique desk he gave me a fatherly smile, which is always a bad sign in a stuffed shirt like him. "Mark," he began, "we're worried about you...have been for a little while now. It's not just the, er, embarrassment earlier today, there have been one or two other problems reported as well." I desperately searched my mind for what they might be, while still trying to listen to MM. "You're going to be a very good lawyer, Mark. Hell, you are a very good lawyer. You've got a bright future with CNHP, and we don't want to see that go to waste." I started to wonder who 'we' were -- who else had he discussed me with?
"So here's what we're suggesting. We'd like you to take a few weeks out -- a month say -- to recharge the old batteries. Don't think about the law, just go home, relax, and re-focus your mind. You know what? You should tell Lisa to take some of that leave she's owed, and the two of you should go see Europe." Lisa, my 'significant other', was also a lawyer in the NY office. McKendrick continued, "Our guys over there can help with bookings and stuff. What do you think?" I started to protest but MM held up a silencing hand and, for the first time, looked uncomfortable. "This isn't exactly a suggestion Mark. We take the wellbeing of our team very seriously, and Marcus Freeland feels that, in the long-term, this will be in the best interests of both you and the firm." Jesus Christ, he'd talked about my 'problems' with our Executive Board member. I'd only ever met Freeland a handful of times; but of course, the old bastard had known my dad half his life, and no doubt he felt the firm had to play right by 'Jordan Dowd's boy'.
And that was it. With a "Take care of yourself, Mark," McKendrick swiveled his eyes down to a paper on his desk to indicate the interview was over. I took the back stairs down the ten flights to the parking garage rather than walk back through the office under the curious, and malicious, eyes, of all my colleagues. I'd call Lisa to pick up my coat and my attaché case. My God -- in an environment like CNHP, four weeks out was close to professional suicide. Not only would I be missing out on dozens of opportunities, and hundreds of billable hours; whenever in the future the partners were looking for prospects to pull further up the ladder, I'd be the guy with a month's gap on his sick record. As for Europe, Lisa was as aware of the realities as I was: she was less likely to take four weeks' leave than the Republicans were to pick a black lesbian presidential candidate.
The thing I most wanted to do at that moment was crawl into the nearest bar and get slammed. Instead I got into my Smart Coupe and headed towards the Brooklyn Bridge. Lisa said I was nuts buying a two-seat car shaped like a bubble, but it's a big help winding through the Manhattan traffic. I was tense all the way home, and my jaw ached from being clamped as I tried not to think about my immediate future. I didn't even begin to relax until I got into my beautiful red brick Federal-style house in Brooklyn Heights, a couple of minutes from The Promenade and the breathtaking view back to Manhattan across the East River. Then I slumped into my favorite armchair and stared at the wall. I was still there four hours later when Lisa arrived home, to find me in darkness. She was sympathetic, naturally, but nervous, as if she maybe thought whatever I'd got was catching. In bed that night she held me with a tenderness unusual for her. I lay awake thinking for the first time about what I could do for the next month. I'd always believed that I had a great novel in me: now my employers had given me the window of opportunity to get down to writing it. And when I was a kid I'd shown some talent for art. I'd always thought the East River view would look great in a watercolor, or maybe a pencil sketch. I decided that CNHP hadn't stabbed me in the back: in reality they'd helped me find myself. Yeah, right.
The next day, Friday, I was still in bed at two in the afternoon, having unable as yet to motivate myself to leap into the wonderful new life I was going to build. Finally, I was roused by noises from another room. Clearly our Filipino cleaner, Percela, had arrived -- she came in twice a week. Realizing I'd have to give her access to the bedroom I dragged myself to my feet, stretching and yawning furiously. At that moment the door opened -- to reveal a woman I'd never seen in my life before. She gasped on seeing me. I couldn't blame her for where her eyes went first; after all, where would most women look when coming unexpectedly on a young, well-toned naked man standing in front of them? She mumbled some sort of apology in Spanish and darted out of the room. Cursing under my breath I pulled on a robe and followed, to find out what the hell was going on.
The woman was in the dining room, polishing the table and concentrating hard on not noticing me. She looked Latino, about 40 I guessed, and was dressed simply, in a gray sports shirt, a knee-length black skirt and scuffed, flat-soled black sandals. I thought the slight flush in her face was probably a result of the unfortunate incident a moment earlier. Clearing my throat, I said, "Look, I'm sorry about that. Where's Percela?"
She turned towards me, but seemed reluctant to meet my eyes. I was immediately struck by a livid scar across her left cheek, an angry white against her taffy-colored skin. Shrugging, she said, "I don' know, Missus just tell me come in Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Sorry, I din' know you here, otherwise I knock." She pronounced 'you' as 'jhou'. I gave her a reassuring smile and told her I didn't know I'd be here either. She said her name was Rosa, and she'd been working for us for about two months. I left that side of things to Lisa. I left Rosa to it and went to shower, carefully locking the bathroom door. When I finished I made myself a coffee and asked if she'd like one. Still looking embarrassed by my presence she declined, saying she had to finish her work and get her bus.
By the time Rosa arrived for her duties the following Monday I had started on my novel. Two days of thought and effort had produced one whole sentence, and about twenty deleted second sentences. I greeted Rosa then shut myself away in my study while she worked around me. Eventually I made a coffee and again offered her one. Again she declined. This time I replied, "Look Rosa, I guess I'm gonna be around here quite a bit in the next couple of weeks. I feel uncomfortable just sitting here while you work so hard around me and call me 'sir' all the time. It'd be a favor to me if you'd stop to have a coffee with me, really, and I'll even help you with the cleaning so you don't lose time, if you show me what to do. And by the way, please call me Mark."
Rosa still seemed reluctant, but agreed to share coffee with me. In doing so she relaxed a bit, and began to talk freely. I learnt her surname was Gutierrez, and that she was from a small village a few miles outside Guatemala City. In addition to cleaning house for us, and several other households, she worked evenings in a restaurant near her home in Queens. She was actually 38, and had come to New York at 19. She'd fallen pregnant almost immediately, and had found a fellow countryman willing to marry her. He had deserted her some years later, and it was he who had given her the vicious knife wound on her cheek. She'd been on her own since then. She now had two children, Angelina, who was doing very well at secretarial college, and Julio, who was a good boy but a bit of a handful, as kids are at 13. Almost shyly, Rosa asked if I'd like to see photos of Angelina and Julio. I said I'd love to. They were both attractive, with their mother's rich black hair, dazzling smile, fine facial features and warm brown eyes.
After we finished our coffee Rosa set me to a bit of light dusting and hanging out the clothes she'd washed for us. She'd mentioned when we spoke that to get home she had to get a bus and two subway trains. On hearing that I called her a cab. She tried to argue, but I insisted, and told her I'd book her a regular ride home in future. I thought Lisa would be pleased I was getting on well with Rosa, but she hit the roof. "Jesus Christ Mark, why don't you just double her wage while you're at it? We pay her the going rate, that's what she expects, if I wanted to pay more I'd have gone to an agency." I feebly tried to argue that Rosa was worth the extra, that she earned it, but Lisa wouldn't hear me out. "Oh, great. Hey, next time we go to Mr Singh's mini-mart for eggs and milk, why don't we just pay him what we think he should get, instead of the marked price on the goods? And I'm sure we should be giving taxi drivers more every time we take a ride. Christ Mark, I know you've got issues at the moment, but I'm the only one bringing any money into this house right now, I think I should maybe make the decision on what we pay the domestic help, don't you? I'm going to have to get rid of that woman now and take new help on."
"Don't!" I think the vehemence in my voice took us both a little by surprise. More calmly, I said, "I'm paying for Rosa's cabs, not you, and you will not sack her simply because you're pissed at me." Lisa didn't argue, but she sulked for the next two days. On the issue about the money, I didn't bother to point out to her that the house was mine, paid for out of the considerable inheritance I had sitting in the bank, and the profit on my investments.
Rosa and I continued to have coffee together and I enjoyed our chats, hearing about her kids' latest escapades, her family back in Guatemala, her little village, looking at photos and discussing news events with her: she always took a keen interest in world affairs. I think it was probably on the third occasion after my row with Lisa that I realized I was becoming seriously attracted to Rosa. Physically, she and Lisa could hardly have been more different. Lisa was three years younger than me, Rosa seven years older. Lisa was only a couple of inches shorter than me and, like most of my girlfriends over the years, slim to the point of slight boniness; Rosa was maybe five-five, certainly not fat, but padded, with rounded curves -- whereas Lisa could probably have gone bra-less without it being noticed, Rosa's impressive bust was one of the first things you saw about her. Lisa's short red-blond hair was in direct contrast to Rosa's blue-black locks, pinned up while she worked, but hanging freely on her shoulders when she arrived and left. Lisa wouldn't be seen dead in public without a designer outfit, and her angular face immaculately made-up; Rosa had probably never owned a designer label in her life, rarely wore much make-up on her rounded features, and made no attempt to hide her scar. Lisa's hands were manicured, with long, carefully painted nails; Rosa's were the hands of an honest working woman, with nails clipped sensibly short.
It wasn't just physically that I was drawn to Rosa though. I found her stories of her extended family fascinating, and she seemed genuinely interested in things I had to say too. She had a dry sense of humor, similar to my own, and we often found ourselves chortling quietly together over the quirks of humanity. She had a deep voice which came from her throat, delivered with a slow cadence, still strongly tinged with her sexy Guatemalan accent, so different to Lisa's rapid, impatient New England whine. With my private education, then Harvard, then the marbled halls of Crombie, Noble, Hansen and Petrie and their wealthy clients, I'd never really known anyone like Rosa before. Increasingly I found myself looking forward to my conversations with her, anticipating them, thinking of things I wanted to say to her. Increasingly, especially with legal work a taboo subject, I found that Lisa and I really had very little to say to each other.
On the occasion when things changed between Rosa and me, I'd bought her a gift -- she'd mentioned her birthday was coming up - a small pendant, set with a tiny sapphire. As I stood behind her chair to secure it around her neck she protested that she couldn't possibly accept it. I told her quite firmly, "Yes you can. I bought it especially for you, it really wasn't that expensive, and I very much want you to have it. Please."
As I said it I rested my hands lightly on her shoulders, for emphasis. She sighed. "Mmm, that's nice. I ache sometimes from all the rubbing and pushing." Without even thinking about it I began to gently knead her neck and shoulders, as I occasionally did for Lisa. My partner never seemed comfortable with it, but Rosa groaned with sheer pleasure, rolling her head slowly before allowing it to fall back. I carried on for a couple of minutes, then I think we both became very aware of the effect our physical contact was having on us. I removed my hands, and Rosa stood quickly and, not looking at me, thanked me, then got on with her cleaning. As she left for the day though, she placed her hands on my shoulders, craned up and gave me a small peck on the cheek, saying, "Thank you for the necklace, it very sweet of you."
The next time she came over Rosa was wearing 'our' pendant. As usual I helped her with a few small tasks. I had allowed some linguini to boil over on the stove the previous evening, and was trying to clean off the resulting mess. Rosa watched me with an amused grin for a while, then said, "You have to attack it, not stroke it." Giggling, she placed her hand over mine and pushed down hard, shuttling my hand back and forth across the stain. It came off and gradually the movement of our hands slowed, until they had stopped, Rosa's warm, soft palm and fingers still resting on the back of my hand. I realized that our heads had been drawn very close together. I inclined mine forward, bringing our lips to within a couple of inches of each other. Rosa's lips were slightly open, seeming to invite a kiss. Our eyes locked ...then with a small gasp she moved quickly away, busying herself with washing a cloth under the faucet. For the rest of our time together that day the sexual tension between us was palpable. When Rosa left she refused to look me in the face. I almost grabbed her arm, pulled her back, and told her we had to address what was growing between us -- I almost did.
I was worried about how things would be between us the next time Rosa showed up. She tried to pretend that nothing had happened, but she couldn't keep it up, and I was like a cat on a hot tin roof. Finally, I took Rosa's hands, sat her down at the kitchen table and told her we had to talk about the situation. She stared past me and said, nervously, "I don' know what you talk about. Situation is I clean for you, is all."
I shook my head. "Come on, Rosa, you know what I mean. I'm...I find myself very attracted to you; and I can't help feeling you find me attractive too."
She shook her head and looked me in the eye. "You with missus. Anything between us would not be right. We friends, but just friends -- let's stay that way Mark." Again I shook my head and, taking her hand in mine, told her I didn't want us to stay that way. She pulled her hand away and stood, turning her back on me and hugging her arms around herself, as if cold. Still not looking at me, she said, "I don' know how I feel. I need time to think. You drop this now, please, and I think about it. I promise." Then she left the room. I stayed sitting at the table for awhile, feeling confused and miserable. I had thought I loved Lisa, but now every time we were together we seemed to irritate each other; and I couldn't stop thinking about Rosa, when she was there and when she wasn't there. I wanted to respect her wish to give her time to think; but I also wanted to let her know how I really felt, so she could think about that. Hesitantly I went to find her.
She was standing in the bathroom, just finishing off cleaning the frosted glass window. She had her back to me but sensed my presence, and tensed. Slowly I moved to within inches of her. Not sure how to begin, or exactly what I wanted to say, I began, "Rosa, I..."
Acting without any instructions from me, my arms reached around her waist. I don't know whether I was going to turn her round, or pull her to me, or what, but before I could do anything she fell back onto me, and I felt her soft butt pressing against my groin. With a sound that was half a sigh, half an anguished groan, she whispered, "Mark, this is so wrong. Please don' do this." She didn't pull away though, even when I pressed my lips into her hair and kissed her. She was wearing a cotton blouse that day, and one of my fingers found its way between two buttons and stroked the warm, soft flesh of her belly. She groaned again, muttering, "Oh mi Dios!", then squirmed around in my arms to face me. Suddenly we were kissing, more passionately than I'd kissed Lisa in a long time, our tongues dueling for supremacy.
If I'd thought about how I'd have wanted my first encounter with Rosa to be, I'd have said tender and sweet. This wasn't: it was wild and desperate, as we both unleashed the strong emotions that had been building to boiling point within us. As we kissed I pushed her up against the wall and scrabbled at her skirt, pulling it up around her waist and sliding my hand under the waistband of her big, unglamorous panties. I found another difference from Lisa: my girlfriend had a Brazilian wax, just a short thin strip of hair extending down her pubic bone; Rosa had a luxurious, untamed bush, and I trailed my fingers through it as she moaned and gripped my shoulders with her hands. I reached downwards and traced a finger along her slit. She pulled away from the kiss then and buried her face in my chest, panting as I slipped two fingers inside her. I found her clitoris with my thumb, and tweaked it, finger-fucking her while she rocked and gasped against me. One of her hands left my shoulder and I felt her palm rubbing up and down my cock through my pants. Rosa's knees seemed to give way and we slipped to the floor, my fingers still inside her. Suddenly she gave an almighty gasp, her hips bucked wildly, and I felt her gash become slicker as she hugged me tightly to her.