tagRomanceSeeing Sophie

Seeing Sophie

bysophia jane©

Marcus waited for his son after school everyday, leaning against the side of the detached gymnasium, bored by this aspect of single fatherhood. No one had ever told him that there would be so much driving, hurrying, waiting, standing, and driving some more. But it was all worth it to get the extra time with his son, and since his schedule was more flexible than his ex-wife's, he was glad to help out with the chauffeur duties. Besides, while he waited for his son, he could check out the moms.

He laughed to himself at the idea; he never would have thought he'd one day look forward to being able to scope out women over thirty. He'd never been the scoping type, for one thing, but he'd also never thought much about moms being sexy until he became a parent himself. As long as he didn't think about his own mother, he figured he'd be fine. Turning, he saw her again. She was here everyday and everyday he caught her watching him while he watched Alicia, the pretty mom with the tight pants and low cut tops. Who wouldn't watch a woman like that? Usually he brushed off her glances and the subtle scowl that frequently appeared across her face, but yesterday, yesterday, he'd watched her walk away and admired the slight sway of her hips, the roundness of her ass as she leaned into her car. How had he not noticed before?

He smiled at her when their eyes met, and she smiled, very slightly, back. She looked surprised, as if she hadn't expected to see him. Or as if she hadn't expected him to see her, he realized. He glanced at his watch, and when he saw that he had a few minutes left before the bell signaled the end of the day, he walked over to her. If nothing else, he hoped he could find out why she seemed to dislike him so much without even knowing him.

* * *

I watched him walk over, his eyes on my face the whole way. For weeks, I'd found myself watching him as he watched Alicia, the gorgeous mom of one of my oldest son's friends. With her perfect blond coif and her manicured nails and her flawless skin, undoubtedly the result of an hour spent applying makeup, she was everything that I was not. My idea of looking nice involved wearing clothes that matched and weren't completely covered in either food stains from the kids or paint stains from my work, and I didn't even own any makeup. Alicia and I were different in other, more important ways as well; she was self-absorbed and more concerned with how she looked than who she was. Admittedly, I was attracted to him, but his obvious interest in Alicia bothered me because I suspected it was a kind of sign of his shallowness. Watching him walk over that day, I'd have been nervous by his approach if I had thought it meant anything, but I simply suspected he must need something, have some kind of question about a teacher or little league. Those were the normal questions I got from men, the mom who knows type questions. He stopped a few feet away from where I stood with my youngest kids, and looked down first to say hi to them as they tried to hide behind my legs.

I laughed. "They're shy, at least at first."

"I can relate," he said. "I've been known to be a little shy myself sometimes. Besides, who wouldn't want to hang onto a pretty woman's leg?"

I laughed again. "Sophie," I said, holding my hand out to him.

"Marcus," he shook my hand in his, his grip stronger than most, and I smiled. I hated men who felt like they had to be careful shaking my hand simply because I'm a woman.

"So, Sophie, I see you here everyday, and I thought I should finally say hi."

"Well, hi then. We don't talk much around here, do we?" I asked, nodding toward the other parents waiting for their kids, most of them standing alone, avoiding eye contact with one another.

"No, I guess we don't. I've only just started pick up duty this year, since the divorce."

"I'm sorry to hear it. About the divorce, I mean. I've been through it myself, so I can sympathize."

"It was for the best, and we're all much happier now."

"Me too. Best thing I could have done, besides have my kids," I said patting the heads of the two still holding my legs.

He smiled at me, and then seeing his son walking toward him, turned and said, "See you tomorrow then, Sophie" and walked away. I watched him leave, wondering. He hadn't asked any mom-type questions at all.

* * *

Over the next few days Marcus made a habit of spending a few minutes chatting with Sophie while they waited for their kids; by Friday, he was intrigued enough to want to know her better. He found her attractive, though he had to admit she wasn't conventionally beautiful; in fact, there wasn't much remarkable about her, and she had the body of a woman who had obviously had children. Despite that, there was something about her that got to him. And her attitude, her lack of self-consciousness, her sense of self were all very appealing, especially after being married to someone who had spent so much of her time uncertain of herself.

"I know it's last minute, and I'm sure you have plans, but I've just found out I have the weekend free. Trevor will be with his mom all weekend, so I was wondering if you'd want to get together. Maybe have dinner, see movie or something?"

She looked surprised, and he briefly wondered why. "I have plans tomorrow, but I'm free tonight."

"Tonight works for me," he told her smiling. He pulled out his blackberry and asked, "Where should I pick you up?"

Looking a bit a little amused, she gave him her address. "I'll see you at 7," he told her, as he greeted his son and made his way to his car.

* * *

I was amused, and intrigued, as I dressed for the evening. His sudden interest in talking to me had been surprise enough, but his asking me out on a date had definitely been unexpected. After watching him eye Alicia for weeks, I had assumed his type of woman was the superficial, supermodel type. Something I definitely was not. I knew what I had to offer a partner, but I become very used to no one else being able to see it. I dated plenty, but I always "met" the men online first where they had a chance to get to know me before the date; it had been a long, long time since it had happened the other way around. Before kids, I realized.

I brushed out my shoulder length brown hair and opted to leave it loose for the night; I pulled a knee length black dress over my head- I loved that dress, loved the way the slit was higher in the front exposing so much of my legs, loved the way the material hugged my hips, and even loved that wearing anything underneath it was impossible. Knowing I was naked under the dress gave me a little thrill of power, a secret knowledge of my sexuality. I buckled the ankle straps of my black heels and then fastened the black beaded necklace around my neck. There, perfect, I thought.

And just in time, I laughed, as the doorbell rang and I made my way to the door. Opening it, I saw Marcus holding a bouquet of flowers bursting with so much color that my hand itched to paint them. Instead, I took them from him and smiled, "Thank you. Come on in."

"You look gorgeous," he told me, his eyes moved down the length of my dress and then back again, lingering a second too long on the low neckline and my exposed cleavage.

I turned, and he followed me into my living room, looking around at my overstuffed, and very comfortable, furniture. I watched him from the kitchen where I put the flowers in water. I saw his eyes flicker over the corner of toys, and then around the room again. The moment he saw the paintings, he stilled, and I smiled, knowing what was coming.

"I've never seen anything like this. Where did you find them?"

"Actually, I painted them."

"You..." he trailed off, looking again at the paintings, looking for a flaw or a sign of amateur work.

"I'm actually a painter, Marcus. That's how I make my living."

"Oh! I had assumed..."

"That I was only a mom."

He laughed, uncomfortably. "Well, you're never really only a mom, or a dad, are you?"

"No."

"But you never said..."

"That I'm an artist. No, I don't usually say anything, unless I'm asked."

"Why not? You obviously have a lot of talent."

"Thank you." I hesitated, wondering whether to continue. Why not, I decided. "I

suppose I don't talk about it much because I tend to say more than I should."

"How do you mean?"

"Not everyone approves of some of my work, and it's easier to just keep it to myself."

He glanced at the paintings on the wall, each a nature scene, each full of vibrancy, and each completely innocent. His face reflected his obvious confusion, and I suspected he was trying to figure out what the objection could be to fauna and sunrises.

Deciding it would be easier just to show him, I took his hand and led him down the hall toward my studio. Flipping the switch to the overhead light in my studio, I stepped aside so he could get the full effect.

* * *

Marcus didn't know what he expected when she took him down the hall; he'd been surprised enough by her obvious talent, and he hadn't quite gotten his bearings. He realized how completely dumb he had been about her, expecting that she'd just be easy company, someone he could relate to about the joys and challenges of single parenting. Beyond that, he hadn't thought much about who she really was, and he shook his head at his shallowness. He was more than someone's dad; he should have thought of her as more than just a mom, but he hadn't, not really.

So when Sophie stepped aside, Marcus was taken by complete surprise by what he saw in the room. It was, he realized, her studio. Canvases sat on easels, in various stages: he saw children's faces, a muted carnival carousel, and an abandoned beach at dusk. And then leaning against the wall at the back of the room, Marcus saw a beautiful, and totally naked woman; on another canvas, he saw two men twined around one another in a very telling embrace, and in yet another, a man and woman with their heads thrown back in passion.

He turned toward her, again, stunned. This woman, this mother of three, had painted scenes of such raw sensuality that they images practically crackled with sexual tension. How had he missed the signs of such passion, he wondered? She seemed so normal, so...boring.

He let out his breath, and said, "I think I see why you don't talk about it."

"Yeah. Doesn't really go with the PTA mom side of things very well, does it?"

"No."

He walked toward one of the unfinished paintings and admired the perfectly formed breasts of the woman. "Do you use models?"

"Sometimes."

"This one?" He gestured toward the men embracing, and she nodded. "This?" He pointed to the couple nearing orgasm.

She smiled. "What do you think?"

He looked at the painting again, and said, "I can't imagine anyone being that intimate while you sat and painted them. But at the same time, the details are so vivid that it seems impossible for you to have only imagined it."

"That's the sign of good art, I think." She moved toward a desk and handed him a photo; looking at it he realized it was a photo of the same couple in the same state of ecstasy. "It was a commission. They sent me the photograph, and I'm painting it for them."

"Do you get a lot of work that way?"

"It pays the bills."

She stood quietly as he looked around the room. "I underestimated you," he finally said.

"Yes." She said simply, and then walked away. He couldn't help but follow.

* * *

It had been hard not to laugh at the look on Marcus' face when he first saw the nudes, harder not to laugh when he fully absorbed the variety. I didn't typically spring my work on anyone who might not enjoy it, but something about Marcus got to me. Maybe I was still bitter over Alicia, still feeling like he didn't really "see" me; maybe I was trying to show him what he'd been missing. But I knew better than to show strangers my work, strangers who could cause problems for my kids and me. Too many people had judged me for painting "pornography" and I should have been smarter. Feeling his gaze on me as we made our way down the hall, though, I thought I'd probably be safe from any kind of judgment from him. He seemed interested far more than offended, and I was relieved that I had been right to show him my work.

"Ready to go?" I asked, picking up my jacket and keys.

"Absolutely," he said. "There's obviously a lot I don't know about you."

"I've always thought that it was sad how quick people are to judge each other because of how we look or because we have kids or because of whatever kind of job we have."

"I hadn't thought about it, but I guess you're right. I never would have guessed you to be an artist or to be so talented or to have such...an erotic side."

I laughed, knowing he'd only really seen a small piece of that erotic side. "I'm not just a mom, Marcus."

"No, I can see that. I'm not just a dad, either."

"I'm glad to hear it," I told him as I followed him to his car. "What else are you, then?"

He looked at me, thinking, clearly wondering what he wanted to say. I climbed into the car and waited.

Finally after he had backed out of the driveway, he turned to me briefly and smiled. "I don't think anyone's ever really asked me what I am. I mean, they've asked about my job or my family, but not about me."

"I can relate to that."

"Well, you know I'm mostly a businessman during the day, just a guy in a suit who doesn't do anything special. I started with my company right out of college and I stayed because I had to be responsible for a wife and a child, but I don't think I've ever really enjoyed my job. Not really."

"That's rough, Marcus."

He nodded slightly. "It is. But at the same time, I make a good living, and now I have the freedom to be around for my son quite a bit, and that's a great thing. It's a fair trade, I think. But I haven't answered your question, have I?"

"No, you haven't."

"I get lost in books," he said. "Just lost in them. I remember being a kid and spending whole days wrapped up in a good book."

"Oh yes," I said, totally understanding.

"And I've always wanted to travel, to see things." He glanced at me and said, almost shyly, "Ancient things, really. It seems to me there's a kind of magic there, and I've always wanted to know if I'm right."

"Yes," I replied. "There is. I've been to Ireland and I can tell you absolutely that it's full of magic. Most definitely."

He smiled at me, a smile of hope and longing. "I hope I get to feel it."

"You're a dreamer," I told him. "A dreamer, hiding in the life of a solid responsible businessman."

"Yes, I suppose I am."

"It's an excellent thing to be."

"You think?"

"Definitely. But you have to find ways to let the dreamer out, I think," I said.

"Yeah, that's the trick of it. I'm afraid to, I guess. I don't want to let anyone down."

"You're letting yourself down, though. And to me, it seems one of the best things we can do for our kids is show them that it's possible to have what we really, really want in life. I mean, what do we teach our kids if we give up all our dreams to do something that makes us miserable?"

He considered for a moment and then replied, "I'd like to own a bookstore. A used bookstore, with comfortable chairs and rare books and a huge travel section. If I could do anything I wanted, that's what it would be, I think."

I smiled. "You should. You can, you know."

He turned to me, again and smiled. "Maybe." I could see the gleam in his eyes, the spark of an idea, of hope. I liked this man, I thought. I had been wrong about him, thinking he was shallow and superficial because of his fascination with Alicia. And for once, I was glad to be wrong.

* * *

Marcus walked Sophie to her door after dinner and a movie, laughing as he did. He hadn't had so much fun in a long time; conversation had been easy, they had common interests and she was completely without phoniness or pretense.

He watched her unlock and open her front door, but was surprised when she turned to him and smiled. "Thanks for such a good night."

"You're quite welcome. I hope we can do it again soon."

"Definitely," she said, smiling up into his eyes. Before he could move away, or toward her, Sophie rose up on her toes and leaned into him, her lips brushing against his in a kiss that could barely be called that. Marcus moved toward her, wrapping his hands around her hips to pull her closer, and he deepened the kiss. His tongue slid along her lips and against her teeth until she opened her mouth to give him access to her tongue. She tasted of wine and of the chocolate they'd shared during the movie. Marcus felt her sigh against his mouth, and then she pulled away.

"Good night, Marcus," Sophie said simply, and turning, walked into her house and shut the door.

Marcus stood, surprised, looking at the closed door. He had expected her to invite him back in. After all their conversations, after seeing the paintings, he knew she liked sex; after the kiss, he knew they had chemistry. She hadn't seemed like a tease or a flirt during dinner. And yet, she'd just left him outside, alone.

Walking back toward his car, Marcus went over the night in his head, looking for some kind of sign, and then it hit him what an ass he was being. She'd told him her kids would be coming back late that night; she'd also told him that she was very cautious about starting sexual relationships because of her kids. And he'd completely ignored her, thinking she'd be...easy. He shook his head at himself, at his gall. He was thankful she, at least, didn't know what he'd been thinking.

Marcus spent the bulk of the next day catching up on work and doing projects around the house. By dinnertime, he'd had enough of the drudgery and decided to go to his favorite restaurant for dinner. Seeing the crowd of cars in the parking lot, he decided to sit at the bar rather than wait for a table, but on his way in, he heard a voice call to him.

Marcus turned toward the voice and saw Alicia, sitting with someone who could have been her sister. He stopped at their table and said hi to them both.

"Marcus, this is my friend Pamela. Pamela, Marcus' son goes to school with Ryan."

"Hi Marcus. Nice to meet you."

"You too."

"Meeting someone?" Alicia asked him.

"Nah. Just wanted to grab a bite to eat without having to cook."

"Why don't you join us?" Pamela suggested, and Alicia quickly agreed. "We haven't even ordered yet."

He weighed the options- eating alone or eating with two beautiful women. He quickly pulled up a chair and smiled. "That's an offer I can't refuse."

They all laughed, and then the three of them spent the rest of the evening in small talk. Often, Marcus found himself just listening as the women gossiped about friends and coworkers; Pamela and Alicia worked at a local bank together. He couldn't help but compare the conversation to his with Sophie the night before; with Sophie, he'd talked about art and literature, about life and religion. He'd never been so comfortable or honest with anyone before, and it had been strange, but it had also been exhilarating. Very different than the conversation with Alicia and Pamela which left him stifling a yawn.

Watching the women down several drinks, it became apparent that he would be the designated driver. He ordered himself a coffee and watched as Pamela and Alicia continued their chatter, all but ignoring him. After the bill was paid, there was a brief argument about him driving them home and Alicia leaving her car, but she agreed after he said he'd bring her back for it the next morning. Pamela lived closer to the bar, so he dropped her first.

At Alicia's house, he turned off the engine, so he could walk her to her door. She no longer seemed drunk, and he suspected she'd make it inside just fine, but he was a gentleman and couldn't just drop her at the curb and leave.

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