Susan: A Storybytarkatony©
"Were you following me?"
Her voice stopped me in my tracks. When I turned around I could see a face etched with rage. "Yes," I said.
The face now turned blood-red in fury, "You fucking perve ..."
I put my hand up to stop her but I don't think that did it, I think she was just so outraged she just ran out of words. I took advantage of her silence, "I wasn't STALKING you, I was following you — because we were heading in the same direction. I'm going to my hotel on the next block. I'm sorry for your... ah, discomfort." And I was: she was clearly furious, but the anger on her face was softening.
"So you weren't following me?"
I shrugged, "Well, technically, yes I was."
"But you weren't following ME?"
"No." And it was true, I wasn't, but she was right about one thing, I was a bit of a perve: while following her I couldn't help but inspect the most spectacular ass I had ever seen. I mean, absolutely outstanding.
"I'm sorry," she looked pathetically contrite.
"So am I. It's a sign of the times, isn't it? A woman feels threatened just by a guy walking behind her for a few blocks. I sympathize, honestly." That said, I turned away, anxious to get away from her but sorry, too, that I would never see that spectacular ass again. It really was amazing.
"Let me buy you a drink."
I heard the words but they were so entirely unexpected I didn't quite get them. So I stopped and turned back, trying to take meaning from her face, which was now transformed by a somewhat uncertain smile. "Excuse me?"
"I feel guilty," she said, walking towards me. "If you have the time, I'd love to buy you a drink." She motioned to a wine bar across the street.
I did have the time, God knows. I had the entire weekend to kill before a brief meeting on Monday and a flight home. "Sure," I said, "I'd love to get a drink, but please don't feel you own me one."
"I do," she said, checking both ways for traffic before leading me across the street.
We had finished two glasses and had ordered a third when she said, "You know, this has been the best conversation I've had in years. Thank you."
I thought so, too. It wasn't that we had covered a lot of meaty ground. We hadn't. It was just a comfortable ramble about our lives and our cities, my Calgary to her Vancouver. That's what made it so good, it was so comfortable — and we had connected, there was no doubt about that. "You're really easy to talk to," I said. "I've had fun."
"Are you really free for the entire weekend?" She was sipping the fresh glass of wine, newly delivered. Her eyes bore into mine.
"It's going to be a weekend in my hotel of TV football and junk food."
She hardly moved the glass from her lips, "Is there any room in there for me?"
I was so surprised by her question all I could think to say was, "Do you like football?"
"Sure," she said, "I could watch football with you."
Her eyes still hadn't moved from mine so, flustered, I looked at my watch, "Great, the first game starts in half an hour."
The logic was obvious: it was her place. Mine was a bare hotel room, hers was a really beautiful three bedroom condominium with a fridge sufficiently empty to easily accept the 12 pack of beer and the two bottles of wine I had purchased while she went into the market to buy dinner.
We chopped together and the first quarter wasn't over when we started eating the nicely spiced stir fry.
"This is great," she smiled, "I love having you here."
"YOU think it's great?" I enthused, "I had a weekend of lying on a hotel bed looking through my toes at a TV."
"Mine wasn't shaping up any better. I was going to brood."
I didn't know what to say so I tried to be consoling, "It takes awhile getting past a divorce."
She shrugged, "It isn't the divorce, I'm still dealing with that, but a year and a half has been a good salve to that wound. No, my problem is, and has been for a long time, that I've lost all my passion and I need it; I've always needed passion; I used to thrive on passion ..." Then she considered what she was saying and looked over at me and grinned, "Maybe talk of passion on the ... ah, first date is ..."
But I cut her off, "I could use a little passion in my life, too. I've always been a little too cool, a little too remote."
She turned to me, glad, I think, that I had bailed her out, "I don't find you remote at all. Quite the contrary, I've found you really easy to connect with."
I could feel the connection, too. She was just inches away, that spectacular ass was sitting just inches from me and I could feel her heat. But I could feel her emptiness, too — she seemed lonely and vulnerable. So I asked her about something that had bothered me from our conversation in the bar, "How did things get so wound down for you? I mean, you're pretty, you're smart, you're well educated, you have a good job — you have it all. You're the type who should know only success." I looked around, "You're even wealthy. Was it your husband, the divorce?"
"I'm not wealth, this place is the legacy of my marriage. He bought it for me. I wasn't going to accept it, I was going to make him squirm with quilt for awhile but," she shrugged, "in the end I took it and I asked him to furnish it. He couldn't have agreed any faster. For maybe a million bucks he's probaby saved seven."
Now she pressed herself into the back of the couch, folded her arms over her chest and thought for a minute. "But, to answer your question, my problem has been with convention: I had a great life until I reached the altar. That's when the slide started because right after my wedding I got a job and with a job and marriage I finally joined 'society.' That's when I lost my individuality, my uniqueness, like we all do when we join society and," she shrugged, "in my effort to conform to the social convention — to everyone's expectations, particularly my husband's, I lost myself. I no longer knew who I was and I've been on a free-fall ever since, not really caring about anything, myself included." She had been looking at her knees while she spoke and now looked over at me, "I'm sorry. I've been a little down for the awhile." She stood up and reached for the empty plates.
As she walked to the kitchen I couldn't help but grab a quick glance at her ass — and then felt like an insensitive prick. I clicked off the TV, picked up the two glasses and followed her. "You know, I'm a really good listener."
She'd put the dishes in the sink, leaned back against the counter and looked at me. "I know you are. I'm sorry. Tough day," she laughed, "tough enough to accused a perfect gentleman of being a pervert."
I regretted my words the moment they came out, "You weren't entirely wrong. You have a spectacular ass, I couldn't help but notice it as I walked behind you."
She didn't react, not for a moment, then she folded her arms across her chest and said, with a flash of annoyance, "Why did you say that?"
I felt crushed, and stupid. "I don't know," I stammered, "I guess I was just being honest." But she just kept looking at me and I saw no way out, "I'll leave."
But when I turned to go she grabbed my shoulder. "That's the last thing I want you to do." She brushed by me, went into the living room and turned on the TV. "2:45 left in the half," she said, as she sat down on the couch and patted the seat beside her. "You can leave anytime you want, of course. But don't think I want you to go. I don't."
I sat down as directed feeling like a chastened schoolboy, "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that."
The silence lasted almost a minute. "Did you mean it?"
When I looked at her she had a mischievous smile on her face, apparently now out of her funk. "Well, ya, but I shouldn't have said it."
"So why did you?"
I shrugged, stupidly, "I wanted to cheer you up." I didn't know what else to say so I got up to get myself a beer, "Want something to drink?"
She shook her head.
When I returned she hadn't moved a muscle. I stood in front of her, "Why did you yell at me on the street? It seemed an odd thing to do."
She didn't look at me, "Because I'm a bitch."
"No, seriously, why did you yell at me when you did? If I had been following you, you were at least safe when you turned into your building. Why yell then? The drama, if there was to be any, was over."
She was looking at her knees, "My answer stand. I'm a bitch, a confrontational, acid-tongued bitch. Ask anyone at work. Hell, ask anyone who knows me."
I turned around and went back to the kitchen and returned with a half bottle of wine and a glass, "I think this evening calls for a little more booze." I put my can on the coffee table and poured her a glass and handed it to her. "It seems, psychologically speaking, we're dealing with a pretty big self-esteem issue here."
She laughed mirthlessly, "Well done, Dr. Carter."
"Well," I said, needing a long pull at my beer to say what I was about to say, "that's too bad for me, isn't it, because I had every expectation of getting really lucky tonight."
When she looked up at me she had a stunned look on her face, as if what I had said was shocking, but she didn't say anything.
Nor did I. I defiantly waited her out.
I don't know what I expected by my comment but it wasn't this: she turned away from me, onto her side, curling into a fetal position. I didn't know what to do, so I sat down and put my hand on her shoulder, feeling a twinge of guilt when I checked out her ass and the conspicuous panty line along its smooth, magnificently rounded contour.
"I deserved that," she said, in a plaintive voice.
"I was trying to lighten things up. It was the wrong time."
"No," she said, turning towards me, pushing her head into my chest and wrapping her arms around my waist, "it was precisely the right thing to say." She hesitated for a moment before rising up to briefly kiss me on the lips before settling back into my chest. "In the last few years I've become entirely self-obsessed. I haven't had a man in this place since I moved in 18 months ago and when I finally do all I can talk about is myself. I'm pathetic."
I started to stroke her hair, really gently, hoping she couldn't feel my growing hard-on. Truth be told, this was as close to a woman I've been in a long, long time and I wasn't at all sure how to handle it. But the dilemma was obvious: she was in real need of some nurturing; I was in real need of some torrid sex — but this wasn't the time or the place for that so I willed my prick to behave and asked, "How can someone who seems to have it all feel so empty? I just don't get it. Sure, I can see you not liking some aspect of you body or some quirk in your personality, we all do that, but to write yourself off? That's just nuts."
I don't know why I did it, it was an impulse and it was silly but it was easy to do: I just sort of bucked my knees and she fell over my thighs and I said, "You should be spanked." And I spanked, not hard, but deliberately, maybe a half-dozen times but she wasn't reacting, she just lay there, limp and lifeless, so I stopped and pulled her more or less back to where she had been.
She said the words into my chest, "You'll do anything to get at my ass, won't you?"
I frozen for a moment, stiff with guilt, then I heard her laugh.
But I was uncomfortable, "This isn't going very well, is it? I don't know if I should be playing the role of the shrink or the stud."
"Try shrink ... first," she mumbled into my chest.
"Very well," I relaxed, enjoying the heat from her body. "Let's break your perceived problem into components parts: physical, spiritual and mental or personality." Then I tapped her on the head, "What's your biggest problem physically? What don't you like about yourself? What's causing you ..." I laughed, "image issues?"
She didn't hesitate, "Sagging breasts."
"Sagging breasts!" It sounded ridiculous. "Aren't they supposed sag at 33?"
"No, mine have always sagged."
"And that's a problem?" I couldn't imagine anything more trivial.
"I hate them."
"Can't a bra hold them up?"
"End of problem then — a cosmetic correction." I tried to put her perceived infirmity into perspective, "How many people have real physical problems that cause real anguish? God, your problem can be easily solved: buy better bras, end of issue." Grow up, I thought but I didn't say it. "Are you religious?"
"What do you believe?"
"That we're born, we try to find what ever happiness we can, then we die."
"No afterlife, no reincarnation?"
"No. Finito. Dust in the wind."
"So the great challenge is to find happiness?"
"The only challenge."
"So you're a failure; you're living a pointless life?"
She was quiet for a full minute. "I was happy once and I can be happy again. I haven't given up, I'm just going through a rough patch ..."
"A patch that has lasted, what, ten years?"
"Eight and a half — seven with him, a year and a half since."
"So how are you going to get back on the track to happiness?"
Her laugh was empty, "I haven't figured that out yet."
"How about your personality? What do you most want to change about that?"
She answered immediately, "People. I used to have all kinds of friends but I guess in my misery, I gradually pulled away from them, all of them — I don't really have any friends any more: I don't call anyone and no one calls me."
"So pick up the phone."
"If only it were that simple."
"Why isn't it?"
"Because I don't like myself at the moment. I'll phone when I do."
"Yes, I probably will."
When I shifted I could feel her grip on me tighten. "I've heard enough." I said the words with a dumb Freudian-type accent that doesn't deserve repeating. "Do you want my diagnosis?"
She didn't look at me but squeezed harder and mumbled against my chest, "I don't know, do I?"
"Number One: Stop thinking about yourself — if you don't like who you are at the moment don't think about it. Don't dwell on your perceived misery. OK? Number 2: If you don't like your sagging breasts, don't look at them and wear better bras — and realize that any man who is lucky enough to see them is problem going to love them. OK? Number three: Make happiness your main objective; do everything you can think of to make yourself happy and don't do the things that will make you sad. Yes? And Number four: Friends are friends because they care about you. Let them help you get back to the woman you were."
I gave her a reassuring squeeze, "I realize this analysis is absurdly superficial but unless you have something significantly wrong with you, and you don't, it's probably more or less accurate. Your marriage is over: you can stop beating yourself up."
"Don't worry, be happy." I felt her breath through my shirt.
"Basically. Happiness, as you've pointed out, is what it's all about and, according to you, it's ONLY what it's about, so why not put all your energies into finding it?"
When she sat up, she reached for her glass and I used the moment to go into the kitchen to get another beer. I was feeling a little awkward now. The amateurish shrink shit was a little embarrassing but it seemed as if she needed to hear it, however inept it was. Now what? I didn't want to hang around if she was going to wallow in self-pity but I didn't want to bolt either, I'd feel that I was abandoning her. Sure, I didn't owe her anything but I liked her and if I could help her in any way ...
I had been resting on the counter staring at the beads of sweat appearing on my can of beer when I felt her lean against me and wrap her arms around my chest and hug. "You were right to spank me. I've been a self-indulgent twit, I know it, but I needed that, I needed to hear what you said. Thank you." Then she pulled away, "Now grab your beer and another bottle of wine and lets talk about something more ... well, let's have a little more fun."
Maybe there was something in my body language but when I entered the living room and approached her she said, "I've talked you into fleeing haven't I?"
I put the opened wine bottle on the table and said, "Well, I'll have to be going soon."
"I don't want you to go, I want you to stay with me." She glanced at me quickly before looking away, "I want you to stay the weekend."
I wasn't sure what to say. On the one hand I really wanted to sleep with this woman, but I couldn't, not in her current emotional state. She was too emotionally wounded; I wouldn't feel very good about myself. So I tried to make a joke of it, "You mean you'd let me see those desperately drooping boobs of yours?"
She laughed, "I would not, but I'd let you get a glimpse of my ass before I turned the lights out."
"No deal then," I said, liking that the conversation was taking a turn for the better. "I'd want to actually see your ass, not just get a glimpse of it — I'd want to see the entire magnificent thing. Plus," I hesitated, "I'd want to see those tits you hate, too AND a little of the navel."
"Navel?" She looked at me as if I was nuts.
"OK, OK, the ass and tits only," I shook my head as if in frustration, "You really do drive a hard bargain."
She slapped the seat beside her, "Sit down, Sam."
When I did she wrapped her arms around my arm and hugged, "You're not going to go, OK? You're going to stay."
"We'll see." I wanted to stay. There was something about her I was really getting to me. I liked her classic looks — tall, lythe, elegant and, somehow, I found her vulnerability appealing, too, probably because anyone else with everything she had would be painfully arrogant, justifiably, but painfully arrogant. And there was a feistiness to her that I kind of like. And then there was that ass. In a word, I found her intriguing.
"You're worried about me, aren't you, worried that I'm too ... fragile. You're afraid of going to bed with me."
"I am, Yes."
"Thanks," she hugged my arm even harder. "I love you for that." She looked up at me, "But you CAN kiss me, can't you?"
I bent down and put my lips on hers, gently, waiting for her to respond, but she didn't at first, she just kept her lips against mine and I was about to pull away when I heard her moan, softly but passionately and then she started to press her body into me and her lips against mine, poking her tongue against my teeth and then she pushed me down onto the couch and lay on top of me, kissing my eyes. "I can't begin to tell you how nervous I am."
I couldn't begin to tell her how nervous I was either, "Nervous? Why?" I said, to mask my own fear.
She moved down and pressed her head into my chest. "My ex-husband always said I was a lousy lay. I don't want to be a lousy lay for you."
I didn't like where this was going, I didn't want her to regress back into her depression, "I don't want to get laid, Susan, if we go that far I'd like to make love to you."
She sat up and put her elbows on my chest and her head in her hands, "You really do say some wonderful things. I really want to make love to you, too." She pushed herself away from me, "Come on."
But for me it was way too early for that, I wanted to make sure she was OK before I got into bed with her. I've never been a prick and I didn't want to start now, though, I admit, it was really tempting. I pulled her back, "You're sure taking me for granted."
She grinned down at me, "I know how badly you want to see my ass. Have you always been ... an ass man?"
"No," I said, pulling her into me, "I've never cared about asses, never really noticed them. The first one that ever caught my eye is here," I said, patting her hip. "Even you have to admit, it's pretty spectacular."
She leaned her head down on my chest again and was quiet for a minute, then she peeked up at me and grinned, "Do you want to see it?"
She didn't wait for my answer. She pushed off me and got to her feet and as she did I turned on my side and propped my head up on my hand, "I'd absolutely love to see your ass."