I sighed, looking over the patio. So much for the dream of a normal life. Well, at least I wasn't crying anymore. I'd had such high hopes for the evening. New house, new neighbors, new beginning. Maybe I'd find friends here.
That was all gone now, my husband had made sure of that. The party started out very nicely. Most already knew each other from the neighborhood, so the mingling was easy, laughing, lightly teasing, sexual innuendoes after the drinks flowed. I'd asked Mark to go easy on the alcohol, and for the first hour or so everything was fine.
Like seeks like, as my grandfather was wont to say, and Mark found two guys from the neighborhood with similar interests. The alcohol consumption went up, along with the crudity of their language. It started falling apart when they found a couple of the wives that shared their interests, and they all disappeared.
They were found by a husband later. They hadn't got around to sex yet, but a lot of their clothes were missing and in disarray. Five more minutes and it would have been an entirely different scene.
One husband knocked the hell out of Mark, kicking him a few times in the ribs and crotch. There might have been more damage but cooler heads prevailed. The knife went through my heart when he looked up from the floor, bleeding, and grinned. "At least she was hot, not remotely like the cold fish you turned out to be."
I could have melted through the floor. Needless to say, the party was over. A few gave me sympathetic words, but most just avoided looking at me as they left. So much for the hope of friends. I'd be alone again, just as I was before.
This wasn't the first time it had happened. But Mark controlled the money, and wouldn't allow me to work. I had no family, no support group, and felt trapped. When he was sober, he was nice to me, and even when he drank, even though he shredded me with words, he was never physically abusive.
I walked around aimlessly, cleaning up, the residue mocking me. I got to the screened in back porch, the scene of the crime, and looked at Mark, wondering how I was going to get him in bed. The smell almost had me gagging. Apparently he had consumed so much he'd lost control of his bodily functions, soiling himself, and vomiting violently. I sobbed again.
"Leave him be."
The voice was so gentle I thought maybe it was just my inner thoughts manifesting. I reached down to move his head.
"Leave him be. He deserves to spend the night lying in his own juices. Maybe it'll teach him a little humility."
I could see him now, sitting on the bench under the huge cedar. The rustic bench had been there when we moved in, and it charmed me so much I left it. I often sat there in the afternoons with a book, enjoying the breezes.
He was huge, dwarfing me by a good foot of more. Even in the dark, I recognized him. He lived the next street over, and came at the insistence of his sister, who lived three doors down. He was at least forty, with curly brown hair that was frosted around the ears. You could get lost in his eyes, or at least I did, A soft pale gray, that seemed to have no end. His voice matched his size, a soft baritone, with a pronounced Southern accent. He shook my hand, closing it in both of his, and half bowed. "A pleasure," he said, giving a smile that lit up the area around them.
He moved through the crowd, stopping to speak to almost everyone. I noticed he had developed an entourage of the single ladies, but he seemed oblivious to their presence. I also noticed he wore no ring, so it was no wonder. His sister asked if he could come, and I'd had no problem. One more possible friend.
None of that explained his being in my backyard at midnight.
"Since you're here, will you help me get Mark to bed?"
"Absolutely not. After his behavior tonight, I'm surprised you're even considering letting him stay. If it were me, I'd go inside, try to get some sleep."
I was shocked. He was a total stranger, telling me to leave my husband outside, exposed to the elements. Well, not exactly outside, he was on the screened in porch, but still.
I had walked outside. I felt no danger in his presence, and I was annoyed.
"You don't know him! He can be..."
"A complete and utter ass, from what I've seen tonight. I evaluate people for a living, and this isn't new behavior for him, is it? Why do you stay with him? Surely if this has been going on any length of time, the love has to be gone, or greatly diminished."
I started making excuses, until he held up his hand. It was a full moon, and there was a little fog, making the scene almost mystical.
"Please. We don't know each other. Probably won't see each other again in any social situation. Let me make some guesses. You have no money, no support system. You're totally dependent on him. He's jealous, treats you like a possession, allows you no freedom. Am I right?"
It was a good thing all the light we had was the moon, or he would have seen my deep blush. How could he possibly know? I felt myself melting.
He was right. We didn't know each other. I could bare my soul, and deny it all later if it came to that. I whimpered a little.
"You're right! I've got no money, no transportation, no friends. I'm well and truly trapped."
"NO, you're not!" The words, though spoken quietly, held force. "There are agencies, shelters, support groups. You can get away if you want to badly enough. My advice, get away now, while you still have enough of yourself left to start over."
"Easy to say from where you sit. I don't know if I can do it."
"Well, carry on then. Lose yourself, and it won't hurt as much when he starts treating you like an object instead of a person, when he starts hitting you, making you do things that disgusts you. Have a good life."
He started to rise. For some reason I wanted him to stay. He felt my hand on his arm and stopped.
"May I sit with you for awhile?"
I could feel his eyes in the darkness.
So I sat down. We must have sat for fifteen minutes, enjoying the solitude, before he put his arm around me, drawing me to him. I started out small, little sniffles, but soon I was crying my eyes out, bawling into his shirt. He smelled so good! Clean, but with just enough musk to realize he was a man.
I don't know how long I cried. Long enough to run out of tears. I drew back, and he let me go, reaching up to play with a lock of my hair.
"Let me tell you some more about yourself, Angel." My name was Joan, but Angel sounded really good to me.
"You're quite the attractive woman. I bet you would be a hell of a lover, if your husband hasn't ground your sexuality out of you. But you've been trained to ignore your own pleasure for so long you've forgotten how. Stand up."
I rose, instantly. "I also think for the right man you would be a perfect mate. He'd have to be strong, willing to lead you, to let you discover yourself again, to be able to share your whole being with."
He paused, rubbing my arm almost absently. It felt like a heating pad going across my flesh.
"I also think you're an instinctive submissive. Too bad you gave yourself to a man who can't appreciate it."
I found my voice. "I'm not a piece of meat. I..,"
He stopped me with just a hand motion.
"Exactly. You're much more, yet that's how your husband treats you, like a piece of meat."
I suddenly had nothing to say. He looked at me, a little smile playing across his lips before he spoke again.
"There's nothing wrong with being submissive, Angel, if it for the right person. Someone who understands your needs and respects your boundaries. It could be a very happy life. I just think that you can't achieve it with the man you're married to. Looks like you have some decisions to make in the near future."
His voice changed abruptly. It became deeper, a timbre to it that brought chills to me. "Angel, I got a glimpse of your bra tonight when you bent over a couple of times. Describe it to me."
"You heard me. Describe it."
"Well, uh, it's new. A Soma, if that means anything to you."
"That doesn't describe a thing to me, Angel. Try again."
"It's, um, it's a pushup. I thought it would look good with this top. It's black, with silver thread going through it, forming a design."
"See, now. That wasn't hard, was it? Now, show it to me."
"You heard me. I'm sure I was specific. I wish to see your bra. Rather, I wish to see you in your bra. Now, slide that top off and let me see it."
His voice was a little more forceful this time, but I felt no fear. Suddenly my hands were drawing my top up. My God, was I really doing this, with my husband passed out twenty feet away?
He gently took my top from my hands and lay it on the bench beside him.
"There, that wasn't so hard, now was it? That's a very pretty bra, Angel. The silver shines in the moonlight, making the whole vision more sensual. Doesn't the breeze feel good? Your nipples think so."
I blushed again. My nipples were as hard as I've ever felt them, straining against the almost sheer lace. I started to cover myself, but a shake of his head stopped me.
"Arms down, Angel. Don't spoil the vision. Let a man who can appreciate you take in your beauty. Do your panties match?"
I had on a skirt, a light weight colorful peasant type that I loved. Plus I thought it showed off my bottom very nicely. Not trusting my voice, I nodded.
It wasn't said with force or malice, just a simple command. With shaking hands I slid the skirt down and stepped out of it, showing the panties, cheekies, black with the same silver stitching. I heard his breath draw in.
"You are a stunningly beautiful woman, Angel. I'll never forget this night. A goddess in the moonlight. Now, put your hands over your head and turn, slowly. Let me enjoy this gift you've given me."
Trembling, I raised my arms, twirling like a ballerina in slow motion, baring my body to a total stranger. He let me twirl twice before he gave me another command.
I was totally in his control now. I sank into the soft grass in front of the bench. He gently pulled me forward until my head rested on his thigh. He stoked my cheek, twirling my hair, doing nothing else. I slowly relaxed until I was almost in a dream state. I felt...safe, and loved.
He was talking the whole time, in low soothing tones.
"Thank you for this gift, Angel. It isn't often a man gets to touch Heaven. Now listen to me. I'm going to give you a card. When the time comes, I want you to use it, the business side at least. My personal number is on the back. If things get out of control, if he ever hurts you, call me. Right then, do not hesitate. If I'm too far away I'll send someone. It's the only promise I'll ask of you. Give me your word."
"I promise," I whispered into his thigh. He must have heard me.
"Thank you. Now, as much as I hate it, it's time for me to leave, to give you opportunity to reflect on all of this." He stood, pulling me to my feet. I was confused. I thought he'd do something sexual with me, especially when he had me on my knees.
Gripping my hair firmly, he made sure I was looking him in the eye. "You'll never know how hard it is to let you go. I want to peel those panties off you slowly, touch and kiss every square inch of your body, and make long, sensual love all night. But as badly as I want you, I have limits. I won't touch a woman in a relationship. The only reason I did what I did tonight is to show you what kind of man you need. Someone you can commit your heart, body, and soul to, to trust that he has your best interests at heart, and would take care of you for the rest of your life. Think about all this. Remember the card. Use it before things get too bad. Goodnight, Angel."
His lips barely grazed my cheek, but if felt like a hot brand. I didn't even know he was gone until I opened my eyes. I sat for a long time, my clothes on the bench beside me, thinking. Finally I went to bed, to toss and turn before sleep finally claimed me.
I heard Mark groaning, so I got up and made coffee, taking a cup and putting it beside him, wrinkling my nose. He would give a skunk watery eyes. He started to rant and I cut him off.
"How the hell was I supposed to get you to bed? I weigh half what you do, and you weren't exactly helping. You should have just left with the slut you were trying to screw. Wait, her husband didn't think that was a good idea, did he?"
Mark looked up in surprise. I had never used that tone with him before. I was on a roll, letting things out I'd held in for years.
"YOU get undressed before you come in. And if you want to keep those clothes, then you're going to have to wash them. If you left it up to me I'd bury them in the backyard. Now get out of them, and take a shower. I'll leave a garbage bag for your clothes. When you get presentable, we need to have a talk."
I walked back into the kitchen, looking at the card on the counter. It was the only proof I had that last night wasn't a dream. I felt stronger holding it. I slid it into my back pocket as Mark came in, fresh from his shower.
"Sit!" I said it firmly, and surprisingly, he sat.
"We're at a crossroads here, Mark. Give me one good reason why I should stay married to you. What possible excuse could you have for last night, or the times before? And don't you dare say it was the booze. If alcohol affects you that bad, maybe it's time to quit drinking. You've hit your limit with me. One more incident, and I'm gone. Do you understand?"
He was beyond shocked. It was like a mouse had jumped up on the kitchen counter and roared with the voice of a lion.
He started to whine. "But, baby, I..."
"NO! No excuses. Tell me what you're going to do to save this marriage."
To my surprise, he caved. Whining and crying, promising to be a better husband, to stop his destructive behavior. And I bought it, hook, line, and sinker.
He did indeed clean up his own mess, throwing up all over again. The clothes went into the trash. I also made him walk with me through the neighborhood, apologizing to some of the neighbors. We didn't go to the house of the woman he'd been caught with, I was afraid the husband would beat him up.
Things got better for two months. The card I'd saved sat in a drawer, forgotten.
I saw my confidant once, a month later. He was outside his sister's house, teaching his nephew to ride his bike. I watched the whole thing from the rocker on my front porch, marveling at his patience. In two hours, the boy was zipping up and down the street alone. He must have felt my eyes, because he looked up. I stood, waving, and he gave me a smile and a nod.
Mark came out. "Who's that?"
"Amanda's brother. He was at the party, remember?"
Mark didn't like for me to bring the party up. Too many bad memories. He'd been backsliding lately. I thought a reminder would give him a good jolt.
"I don't like him."
I looked at him, surprised. "How would you know? You were pretty far gone when he got there. I don't think you even got introduced."
"I don't care. I don't like the vibe he's giving off."
"Mark! The man is half a football field away! You can feel vibes from that far? He isn't even looking at us."
"Stay away from him, Joan. The man is bad news. I can feel it."
"I've only met him once! We didn't speak past getting introduced."
Well, if you don't count the thirty minutes he snuggled me, then talked me into taking my clothes off for him. I thought often about that night. What was it about him that made me feel so safe I bared my body to him, told him things I'd never vocalized to anyone else? I knew, I just wouldn't admit it to myself. Just as I knew if I spent any amount of time with him, he'd own me body and soul, and I would be happy to let him. Now I know how drug addicts felt.
Mark just grunted and went back inside.
The months went by. I learned the name of my mystery man. Brian Meadows. He was a well respected psychologist, often working with state and federal agencies as a profiler. He was especially famous for getting suspects to confess, even after they'd withstood every thing the FBI or other agency had.
I could understand that. If his ability extended to criminals like they did to me, they probably ended up telling every secret they held since early childhood.
I'd dream about him some nights. Shutting my eyes, I could hear his voice. I sometimes woke up with wet panties, Sometimes I woke up feeling like I was wrapped up in a cocoon of love. I was starting to doubt my sanity.
Two months later I saw him again, as I was walking to the corner market three blocks away. I didn't really need anything, I just wanted out of the house.
He was in the ice cream parlor next door. He saw me through the window, and motioned me in. Should I? I could feel his tug, and slowly came into the store. He again took my hands in his, making them look tiny.
"Ah, Angel. I think about you often. Are you all right?"
He looked into my eyes and I lost it.
"Yes, I took your advice, had a long talk with..Mark." I couldn't make myself say husband to him. "We cleared the air."
I could have sworn for a moment he looked disappointed, but it passed. He smiled, and it looked like the sun rising.
"Well then. Let me introduce you to my companions. This is Marcus, and this little girl is Tammy, but I call her Angel Junior. Guys, this is Angel Senior."
Marcus proudly told me he was seven, and Tammy was five. She giggled when he introduced me as Angel. "We have the same name. You have to sit with us, doesn't she, Unky Monkey?"
"Angels should indeed flock together. We'll get her an ice cream. What do you think she wants?"
Tammy was determined it was pistachio, and Marcus insisted it was Rocky Road. Brian smiled.
"No, it has to be something basic, enhanced somehow."
"Chocolate with chocolate chips?" asked the little Angel. Brian seemed to look right through me.
"Vanilla. The most basic flavor. Why vanilla? because it's the basis for so many wonderful concoctions. You add something, some kind of fruit. Am I right?"
My God! Was he looking inside my head? "Yes," I said softly, "pineapple chunks and juice."
"An excellent choice, Angel. I'll be right back. Believe everything these wonderful children say about me. I'm almost a God in their eyes, a paragon..."
They were giggling like crazy. "He's a monkey!"
giggled Marcus. The small angel agreed.
We sat and consumed our ice cream, Tammy tasting mine and immediately declaring it "Angelcream." Little Angel told Unky Monkey it was time to go, after the very last drops had been consumed.
"Very well then. I'm a monkey. Shall we swing through the trees and across the power lines, or shall we walk sedately, disguised as human beings?"
"Alas, my petite little Angel, monkeys don't have the ability to skip. But big Angels can do anything, part and parcel of their being. She'll skip with you."
It was a statement, not a question, so Tammy and I skipped down the sidewalk, while Marcus and Brian trailed behind, Brian pausing once in a while to jump up and swing from a limb of one of the trees lining the street, helping Marcus occasionally, who would scramble like a squirrel(monkey?) to the top. The three block walk lasted no time at all. The kids hugged their new friend and flew in the door, no doubt to tell their mother of their adventures. We stood on the sidewalk, me feeling suddenly awkward.
"Thank you, Angel, for a very satisfying hour."
He looked me in the eye, the pale gray showing sudden depth.
"Um, I enjoyed it. Thank you for allowing me to share your time. Those kids have an amazing vocabulary."
"We don't talk down to them. If I use a word they don't understand, they stop me and ask for a definition. Marcus is in second grade, and his teacher says he talks like a professor she had in college. Right now, they're a sponge. Seventy-five percent of what they learn will be acquired by the age of twelve. Need to pump as much knowledge into them as soon as possible. You need to remember that, when yours come along."