tagRomanceSpirit of Love

Spirit of Love


Carmen always had sad eyes, but they had always been sad in a sort of loving way, like a child's eyes when a beloved pet has passed on. Sad, yes, but always with the basic understanding that everything was fine, that events had happened because they were supposed to.

Now, however, they were just sad. They stared blankly out upon the world without really seeing anything . . . least of all, me. But then, it was all because of me that she had that look. All because of that Valentine's Day night, one year ago.

We'd had a fight – another one – and I'd had a few too many glasses of wine. I can't remember what the fight was about, exactly, but I do remember that it was my fault. I mentioned something about her dress, which I knew an ex-boyfriend had purchased for her . . . it went downhill from there. She tried to explain, saying it wasn't the same dress, but that she liked the pattern so she had gone and purchased one just like it for Valentine's Day. It had something to do with what Carmen had called the 'spirit of love.'

But I didn't buy it. Wounded male pride was more powerful than the ability to understand and listen. I had stormed out, wanting to "clear my head." That had been a mistake.

Now, a year later, I was still paying for it.

She had moved to a new apartment, cut her hair. She used to dye it blonde, and it worked for her, considering her natural tan and soft features. But now her hair was short and dark, showing its natural curl. She had toned up, I could tell. But that wasn't surprising. Carmen had always dealt with things such as pain and grief through exercise. The first time we got back together after breaking up, she'd gained four pounds of muscle and lost an inch around her waist. She looked even more fit now.

I followed behind her as she headed down the street from her building. She didn't notice me, of course. I wasn't part of her life anymore, after all. But Carmen wasn't her usual outgoing self. She used to look people in the eye, even just casual strangers. Now, she lowered her gaze as people passed close by, especially men. She seemed uncomfortable with the way guys checked her out. That wasn't like her. Carmen had always been a casual flirt.

She still worked at the same restaurant, I realized as we got off the bus. The Last Chance Bar & Grille had always been Carmen's second home, at least for the two years I had known her. She had a lot of friends there, a lot of regulars. It was a nice place. Good food.

I hung back as she stepped through the door. I watched through the windows a few minutes later as, apron wrapped around her slim waist, Carmen approached her first party of the day. There was a smile upon her face, but it wasn't the same one she always had. She was faking it for the sake of her guests.

I felt a stab of vicarious pain through my chest. A year later, and my One True Love was still hurting. Hell, I could practically feel it.

It literally broke my heart that I was the reason why.


"Another one, Pete?"

I nodded after finishing the last of my Scotch. The sharp liquid was comfortably warm as it trickled down my throat. "Same thing."

The bartender, an older, overweight man, poured another belt of Glenfiddich over some ice, set the glass me. That's what I always liked about Scotch; no fanfare, no swizzle stick or garnish. Just pour and drink. Simplicity in a bottle.

"So what's her name?" he asked.

I chuckled at his bartender's intuition, picking up the glass. "Carmen."

"Wife? Lover?" he asked, then arched an eyebrow. "Someone else's wife or lover?"

I took a sip. "The only woman I've ever loved," I said.

"So what happened?"

"I left her."

He frowned, picking up a glass to polish. It was a slow afternoon. "Why'd you go and do a bonehead thing like that?"

I sighed, took another sip. "Take a long time to explain," I said.

He shrugged, glancing around the near-empty bar. "Not like I have anything better to do."

I just laughed.


I watched her for days, following her to work, as she went shopping. So many times I wanted to approach her, to say . . . something, anything. But what would I say?

"Hi, honey, miss me?"

Would she be angry? Glad? Would she slap me? Hug me? Somehow, I did not think she would be so easily forgiving for leaving her so abruptly. I had been gone a year, with no word. That's not a simple thing to overlook.

I noticed Carmen always went to one particular little grocery store a block and a half down the street from her building, even though there was a larger, better-stocked, one closer. I wondered why. Maybe they had something there that the other place did not.

I had to admit that it was a cozy little place. Pretty good selection of fresh vegetables and fruits, although the meat counter was lacking. But that wouldn't have bothered Carmen; if it wasn't chicken, it didn't grace her lips. She couldn't stand red meat and had a shellfish allergy since she was a teenager. She would eat cod or pike if I cooked it for her, but usually stuck to a mainly vegetarian diet supplemented by the occasional chicken breast.

I watched from beside the typical beer selection inside the coolers as Carmen took her basket of oranges, tomatoes, broccoli and some angellini pasta to the counter. There was a young man by the register, about her age, light brown hair, white T-shirt that draped off a muscular frame. And then I understood why she liked this store.

"That's all for today, Carmen?" he asked, showing dimples when he smiled. "We got some fresh spinach in this morning."

Carmen smiled, giving him a look that I had always thought was reserved for me: a soft-eyed, thin-lipped smile that took me months to learn to read. It was a look of desire. But the guy behind the counter hadn't quite figured it out yet.

"No, thanks. Not in the mood for spinach tonight."

He nodded, eyes lingering on Carmen's face for a moment before giving her a sheepish smile. He rang up her purchase. Their fingertips graced briefly as she handed over a twenty-dollar bill, then again as he returned her change.

"Thanks, Steve," she said, then headed out. We both watched her go, but only I noticed the movement of her hips. Yep, there was that wiggle.

I startled the kid out of his reverie as I slapped a Hershey bar and bottle of Coke on the counter. He blushed slightly, as if embarrassed at having been caught staring at one of his customers. "Anything else, sir?" he asked.

I nodded. "Pack of Camels. Box."

He produced the cigarettes, rang up my purchase.

"Attractive woman," I said, reading his face. His eyes weren't on me.

"Yeah," he said, a small smile on his face. "Comes in here every day."

"You a little sweet on her?"

He lifted his eyes – sky-blue, I noticed, lighter than mine – and smiled boyishly. "She's . . . out of my league," he said.

I shrugged. "Never know."


I felt strange as I headed out of the little store and back up the street. Carmen was home; even from a block away, I could see the light in her window. I imagined she was playing some Missy Higgins; indeed, as I got closer, I could just make out the singer's haunting voice.

I felt jealous that Carmen was attracted to that young man. But I had no right; I had left her, after all. I couldn't blame her for wanting to feel like a woman again, for enjoying the attentions of another man.

And I had to admit, Steve seemed like a nice guy. Humble, boyish . . . until she met me, Carmen had always dating guys that were too full of themselves to treat her right. I was different, she'd told me, and chalked it up to our ten-year age difference. She used to make a little joke out of the fact that I was the oldest man she had ever dated . . . even on the night I proposed. But it hadn't been a joke, then. It had been a recognition of my maturity, of her love for me.

I took a deep breath to control my emotions. I loved Carmen; I always would, I knew. But she was no longer part of my life, and I had to move on.

But I had to show her that I understood the spirit of love, first.


I caught Steve coming out of the store the following day, once his shift was over. The kid worked long hours, I realized. Good work ethic. He draped a denim jacket over his shoulders and headed down the street toward the bus stop. He kept his hands in his pockets and his head down as he walked, as if protecting himself from the elements, even though it was a sunny day.

I caught up to the kid as he stood waiting for the bus. I pretended to just run into him.

"Oh, hey! Uh . . . Steve, right?"

He snapped his head up, looking around for me, then managed a smile. He seemed pretty skittish. He lacked confidence in himself, I could tell.

"Oh . . . hi," he said.

"Which bus you waiting for?" I asked.

He worked his jaw a moment. "B6," he said. "You?"

I chuckled. "No bus. I'm getting a drink."

Steve laughed softly. "Yeah, think I'll grab a brewski when I get home."

"Why wait?" I asked casually. "Come on; I'll buy you a beer."

He gave me a wary look. I played it off.

"Come on, kid, it's just a drink. You can catch the next bus. 'Sides, I hate drinking alone. Makes me feel like an alcoholic." I added a friendly wink.

He thought about it a moment, then rolled his shoulders. "Sure."


A couple of beers, and Steve opened up pretty readily. I figured he lacked for an ear to listen to his life, his thoughts. He was twenty-three, Carmen's age, taking a semester off from junior college to devote more time to the grocery store. Steve's uncle owned the place, and I got the impression the two men were fairly close. Steve lived further uptown, in an apartment close to the college campus, with two room mates.

"But they're never there," Steve lamented as he nursed his second beer. "And even when they are, Rob's always whacking off on his computer and Jesse practically lives to play Halo."

"Leaves you pretty lonely, huh?"

Steve gave me a wary look.

I chuckled, lit a cigarette. "Relax," I said. "I'm not gay."

Steve smiled thinly. "Sorry. Guess I'm just a suspicious person."

I shrugged. "You like Carmen, huh?"

He was a little startled by my abrupt mention of his favorite customer, but recovered quickly, a fond smile stretching his mouth. "Yeah, she's . . . gorgeous."

"In more ways than one," I said.

"You know her?"

I nodded. "We don't talk much anymore, but . . . yeah, I know her."

"As friends?" he prodded.

I just smiled.

He sighed. "So that's what this is," he said. "You wanna warn me away from her. Well, look, I'm not big on threats—"

"I'm not threatening you," I interrupted. "In fact, I'm going to help you out."


Steve was pretty skeptical of my motives, not that I could blame him: what ex-boyfriend tries to get his former fiancé hooked up with someone else? But his attraction to Carmen wouldn't let him turn down the chance to learn more about her, and to get closer to her.

So I clued him in on a few things that Carmen liked: the color red, roses, foreign films with subtitles, alternative music, British humor. Turned out that Steve and my Carmen had a lot in common. I wasn't surprised.

I felt more than a little strange as I supplied Steve with information that would help him get closer to my Carmen . . . help him woo her, attract her, and eventually make love to her. Suppressing my jealousy was a difficult thing.

But it had to be done.


Watching Carmen masturbate was always an inspiring sight. There were times when she would want me to watch as she pleasured herself, then reward my patience in the most erotic and satisfying ways. Carmen had never been a nymph, but she enjoyed sex, and loved being watched.

I wondered if she knew my eyes were upon her that evening as she walked around her apartment in the nude, singing along with Joni Mitchell and sipping hot tea. She certainly seemed to act like she was aware of prying eyes, if only in her mind. But if she knew I was observing her, I doubt she would have been so casual in her demeanor.

I watched through her living room window as Carmen swayed to the beat emanating from her stereo. I loved watching her hips move back and forth, the muscles flexing in her thighs and buttocks, the dimples above her ass. Her back was muscular and lean. I could just barely make out the shadowed, smooth lips of her puffy sex.

She set her cup atop the stereo, ran her hands up her torso as she turned in profile to me. My heart began pounding faster, my cock growing as I watched Carmen cup her firm breasts. Her face looked stoic; I wondered if she was indulging in self-gratification only to satisfy her libido, and not because she really wanted to.

But no . . . there was that sly smile. Carmen slowly pinched and rolled her nipples, pulling them out, watching them get erect and dark. She made a little game of it, pulling them as far as she could, giggling when they snapped back. Her areolas began to thicken, puffing out a little. Now I knew she was aroused. Was she thinking about me?

Or maybe she was thinking about Steve . . . .

Carmen's face flushed a little, the rosy glow spreading across her neck and cheeks. I almost heard her soft sighs, her breathing. She ducked her head, pushing her breasts up. I tried not to moan as she extended her long, pink tongue and tickled her own nipples. Then she licked them, swirling her tongue around first one, then the other. Her hips rolled slightly; her left hand slid down her taut belly to the tiny strip of jet-black pubic hair above her slit.

Her nipples glistening with her own saliva, Carmen rubbed her fingertips across them, making them stiffer and puffier. She turned toward me fully, planting her feet apart. Her fingers were stroking slowly along the swelling lips of her pussy. I could just make out the glowing pink nubbin of her clitoris as it began to emerge from its dark hood.

For a few minutes, Carmen stood there as if putting on a show for anyone to see, facing the glass door of her balcony. But she was really in little danger of being spied by anyone – other than me, of course – since her apartment was on the top floor of the three-story building and the office building across the street was dark and empty. Still, I knew Carmen liked the element of possibly being discovered.

Her right hand slid down her body to join her left. I watched as Carmen pried her lips apart, exposing her wet inner pink. She craned her neck, looking down as she pulled on her clit, making it stick out. Her thighs tensed a moment as she stroked the little bulb.

She sat down on the edge of the coffee table, spreading her legs wide. I licked my lips, fought down the urge to release my cock and masturbate along with her. I remembered all the times Carmen had treated me to a show such as this; she wanted my full attention upon her. I couldn't break that tradition now, even if she was not aware of my presence.

Carmen peered down, inspecting her moist pussy intently as she spread her lips open wide. One of her fingers made slow, lazy circles around her clitoris, dipping down now and then to the entrance of her vagina, gathering some of the wetness trickling from within.

Her face slowly became relaxed with passion, her lips pouting and parted slightly. Her tongue flickered out to keep them wet. Breasts rose and fell as her breathing quickened.

She slipped her middle finger inside her pussy, to the second knuckle, catching her breath for a moment. Then slowly, she eased it out, and smiled. The finger sunk in again, deeper this time, and she moved it around a bit; Carmen gasped lightly, let out a whimper.

My God, was she gorgeous! There wasn't man on the planet, I was certain, who would not want my Carmen as badly as I did at that moment, had they been watching what my eyes were drinking in.

Carmen was getting into it now, leaning back on her left hand, keeping her thighs spread wide, pushing her feet up on her toes as her finger slowly slid in and out. I could just imagine the wet sounds of her snug little pussy as they sucked on her finger . . . which was now two fingers, pumping slowly. She smacked her palm against her clitoris each time she thrust her fingers inside.

Her eyes closed, her mouth hung slack. Carmen's thighs twitched and tensed; she was getting close to orgasm, I was sure. And from the way she clutched her pussy, pressing the heel of her hand down onto her pubic mound, I knew what she was going to do. My heart pounded as I anticipated the erotic sight.

Suddenly, Carmen began stabbing her fingers faster and faster in and out of her cunt, and she threw her head back, clenching her teeth and hissing through them. Her muffled moans and sighed drifted to me through the panes of glass between us. Then she began whimpering, making those high-pitched sounds I knew only too well.

With a sharp cry, Carmen jerked her hand from her pussy and thrust her hips out. Her thighs trembled as she came, and a spray of clear fluid erupted from her pussy, spurting out in an arc a good three or four feet. It lasted a few seconds as Carmen convulsed, her entire body shaking, her mouth gaping open. She slipped from the coffee table, landing on her butt on the floor.

Her hands slapped between her thighs, squeezing her cunt, quelling the orgasmic spasms. Slowly, amid deep breaths, she calmed down. Her face was deeply flushed, and she looked half-asleep. She was always drained for a while after such an intense orgasm. I always thought she looked so beautiful at such times, and this once was no exception.

Finally, she sat up, looking a little dazed. She blinked several times, laughed softly to herself in satisfaction. At such moments, following her little show, Carmen would always roll forward as I sat before her, and take my cock in her mouth. My reward for being such a patient audience was a sweet, loving blowjob that would not end until her stomach had been warmed with my semen.

But that was not to be this time.

Idly, Carmen massaged her contented pussy, then licked her shiny fingers, smiling at her flavor. She eyed the dark stain she'd left on the carpet, then laughed and shrugged. She rose to her feet, stretched, headed toward the bathroom.

I breathed out. I love you, Carmen.


"So when was the big day?"

I tapped my cigarette over the ashtray, ran my finger around the rim of my glass. "March 21st," I said. "First day of spring."

The bartender smiled. "Her idea?"

I met his gaze. "Believe it or not, it was mine," I said. "There are still a few romantic souls in the world."

He chuckled. "Oh, I believe it," he said. "I see them in here all the time. Guys with more brains than balls – and I mean that in a good way – nursing their drinks, good intentions in their hearts, looking for that perfect love."

I gave him a wan look. "I never fell in love with a woman I met in a bar," I said.

He looked amused. "So where'd you meet Carmen?"

"I ran into her on Broadway."

He arched an interested eyebrow. "Don't tell me she's a hooker."

I scoffed. "No," I said with a dark laugh. "No, I ran into her – literally. Rear-ended her Corolla with my piece-of-shit Taurus. She was a little ticked at first, but I offered to make it up to her over dinner. Can't tell you how surprised I was when she said yes."

He laughed. "Sounds like fate to me," the bartender said.

I nodded, smiling warmly at the memory. "Yeah, it was."

He was silent a moment as he washed some glasses. I smoked the rest of my cigarette and downed the last of my second Scotch.

"So, what happened, Pete?" he asked. "Why'd you leave her?"

I sighed. "I made a really bad decision, acted on my feelings . . . it cost me everything."

He pursed his lips. "And does this 'bad decision' have a name?"

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