The Wanderings of Amy Ch. 17bycaligula97236©
Chapter 17 - Career Paths
Suzanne started the first Fall semester of her life without having any classes to prepare for. This point was driven home when Amy arrived at the apartment loaded down with new textbooks, and Suzanne realized that this semester she had no reason to visit the university bookstore. As Amy laid out her textbooks on the coffee table for the Fall, Suzanne suddenly felt a longing for the security and structure that had been part of her life ever since she was six years old. She already missed her classmates and her art department dean. She had graduated, and the open-ended nature of her life intimidated her a bit.
Suzanne stayed very busy, however. She worked on editing her new collection of landscape pictures and the images of Paul and Amy in the forest. Suzanne particularly enjoyed preparing this newest book. The pictures were pleasant and mundane, and reminded Suzanne of the beauty that still existed in the world. There was the usual underlying sense of sadness in Suzanne's newest collection of images, but also there was a peacefulness that was lacking in her other recent projects. This book was a quiet non-controversial work, but its peaceful theme allowed Suzanne to establish herself as a mainstream photographer as well as an artistic one.
There was a backlog of other projects Suzanne needed to work on and edit. She had spent the summer taking as many pictures of Amy as possible, suspecting that Amy would be too tied up in the fall to model for her. Now that she had the photos, Suzanne needed to figure out what to do with them.
During September, Suzanne made appearances on several local morning news-hour talk shows to discuss her book on Wendy. Suddenly the Chicago press seemed interested in what Suzanne had to say about a broad range of issues, ranging from her opinions of gambling to censorship and artistic freedom. On three different September mornings Amy and Robert watched Suzanne in television studios being interviewed by local news anchors.
Suzanne was likeable on television. She was not flamboyant and did not fit the stereotype of an artist who would have created the controversial images of her last two books. Her quiet, conservative appearance and calm, respectful manner of talking contrasted with her daring work. She always had her trademark Victorian-style hair and long, loose skirts. The only make-up she wore was what the news stations asked her to put on to avoid camera glare on her face. She looked totally wholesome. The contrast between the artist and her work disarmed many of Suzanne's critics.
A local church group found out the hard way that Suzanne was not a good target. On one morning news show a preacher showed up to confront Suzanne over her work. Suzanne came off calm and respectful while the preacher came off shrill and abrasive. Suzanne quietly made her case for artistic freedom while the preacher tore into her personally and then ranted against the media in general. Suzanne's calm seemed to feed the preacher's anger. At the end of the show segment it was clear who came off looking better in the interview.
Suzanne sought as much as possible to shelter Wendy from the fallout from the book about her gambling problems. Several reporters expressed interest in the model and artist of "Wendy" throughout the fall. Suzanne quietly convinced them to not contact her. Suzanne explained that Wendy would not have much else to say than what already was in the book. More importantly, Suzanne, off-the-record, explained that Wendy had not recovered from her addiction. There was a huge risk in pushing her too hard and the potential for bad publicity if anything happened to her. Since Suzanne made herself available to the press and gave thoughtful, honest answers, reporters interested in Suzanne's work respected her desire to leave her model alone. Suzanne was learning how to deal with the press, which made her an important asset for her publisher.
Suzanne became a rising star by raising the visibility of her Chicago-based publisher. As the fallout from "Wendy" reached its height, Suzanne was included more and more in editorial decisions for her company. She was an attractive spokesperson and projected the image that her publisher wanted. As a result she started to represent her publisher more and more in public.
Suzanne's local profile rose even more when she turned down an offer from a publisher out of New York. Although the new proposal offered her more money, Suzanne realized that her heart was in the Mid-West. She feared that her work would suffer if she left for some other part of the country. Suzanne's apparent loyalty to Chicago won her praise from the local art critics and media. The truth was, however, Suzanne's decision to stay was not out of loyalty to the city, but rather concern that a move to a different area might take away her artistic inspiration. Suzanne had spent her life in the Mid-West, and that was who she was. The Great Lakes, the pleasant countryside and hills to the south, the Mississippi River to the west, the thick forests to the north, the industrial wastelands of the Rustbelt; all of that was ingrained in Suzanne's artistic soul. As an artist she would not survive a move to New York, and she knew it.
What the local art critics did not know was that Suzanne also was committed to staying in Chicago because she was committed to staying with Robert. There was no question that Robert's career was anchored in the Windy City. He had his partners and clients, he had his living arrangements, and he knew nothing else. He often joked that he was an old dog that couldn't learn new tricks. Every time he said that Suzanne elbowed him. He was only 43.
Robert's feelings about Suzanne only intensified as their relationship developed. He respected her deeply, in spite of the fact almost a generation separated their birth dates. He had been in high school when she was born. Still, she was mature in a way that Tricia never had been. As much as he loved Tricia, Robert was never able to respect her. Tricia was too screwed up in the head. Suzanne was different.
In her quiet way, it was actually Suzanne who became the dominant partner in many areas of the relationship. Robert had been through too much with Tricia and was not in the mood to push anyone around. It was Suzanne who planned their entertainment. It was Suzanne who determined the limits of their sex life. Suzanne was never bossy with Robert; there was no way he would have put up with overt bossiness from her. Instead he was just content to relax with her and let her quietly take command of their time together.
Suzanne's command of their time together had been a feature of their relationship from the very beginning. The relationship had begun because of Suzanne. By last October Suzanne was well aware that Robert was attracted to her. She had waited for him to make a move since the end of the summer. When it became obvious that he would not, Suzanne literally took matters into her own hands. On the spur of the moment, in a flash of pain and passion, she was the one who took Robert and signaled to him that she wanted him that morning after Amy's Halloween party.
Both Suzanne and Robert took it for granted that eventually they would get married. Suzanne and Robert were, in many ways, old fashioned. They foresaw marriage and children in their futures. In spite of their sexual relationship, there would be no living together until after Suzanne had put on the white dress and had a ring on her finger. Even now, rarely did Suzanne spend the entire night with Robert.
Robert and Suzanne never tired of sex with each other. After nearly a year they were as passionate as they had been last November. Robert still was fascinated by Suzanne's bottom. Often she lay across his lap as he took his time slowly running his hand over her voluptuous bottom-cheeks. The flawless white color and soft feel of Suzanne's bottom held Robert's attention.
Suzanne spent endless hours lying across Robert's lap. Sometimes he spanked her. Usually he did not. It was Suzanne who always made that decision. Usually she simply wanted to enjoy the feel of Robert's caresses on her bottom. She loved it when he touched her bottom-hole and gently massaged the surrounding area. She loved the feel of his fingers between her thighs, gently tracing her labia and teasing her clitoris. Sometimes Robert would simply massage her bottom and she would come close to falling asleep, only to wake up again as his fingers teased between her legs. She loved the way that Robert took his time with her. He was never bored with her. He never took her body for granted.
About once a month Suzanne wanted Robert to spank her. Suzanne always let him know when she was in the mood for a spanking, but she never asked him with words. The way she signaled him was to bounce her bottom up and down a couple of times while over his lap. If he missed the signal the first time she waited a couple of minutes and bounced her bottom again.
Suzanne had to be in the right mood to enjoy a spanking. However when she was in the mood, there was nothing that she enjoyed more than Robert's sharp slaps on her bottom. She loved the sharp stings of his hand, the caresses on her swollen bottom cheeks, the teasing between her legs. Robert always used his hand. Suzanne did not want him to use anything else, nor was she excited by any position other than to be over his lap. She loved the intimacy of that position and of the feel of his hands on her bare skin.
Suzanne was driven wild with passion during these sessions. The fact that they only happened once a month or so made them all that much more special for both Robert and Suzanne. They always started on the living room sofa and ended up on the floor with both of them covered in sweat. There was never any role play or games during Suzanne's spankings, just the physical sensation of Robert's slaps and caresses.
Apart from the sex spankings, Robert never punished Suzanne after that first self-imposed punishment last November. The very thought of punishing her again never entered his mind. Suzanne's behavior that morning was a huge aberration in her life. Suzanne, who always had maintained her self-control, lost it with Amy. After Robert talked to her, Suzanne felt so bad about her behavior with Amy because it was the only time in her life she became abusive to a person she cared about.
In September, Robert did something very special for Suzanne; he modeled for her. They drove to her favorite forest location. Suzanne's ranger fan was there to hang the trail closed sign behind Suzanne's vehicle. Suzanne and Robert walked into the forest a bit, then Robert stripped and put his clothes in a bag. These pictures were for Suzanne. There was no way that they could be published until Robert retired because of his career. After she shot several rolls of film Suzanne ran back to her vehicle and tore off her own clothes. She grabbed a blanket and ran back to Robert. They held hands as they walked naked down the trail, holding the blanket and the bag of Robert's clothes. When they found a nice sunny spot they lay down to enjoy the sun on their bodies and to enjoy each other. The first leaves of fall fell around them as they made love on the blanket.
Suzanne's father was a dark spot in the lives of Suzanne and Robert. Not only was he the subject of a criminal investigation, but of several lawsuits as well.
Robert's cooperation with the criminal investigation had an unanticipated result. The plaintiffs filing lawsuits against Ed had a hard time claiming that Robert and the other two law partners had anything to do with Ed's behavior. The results of the investigation and Robert's cooperation made that much clear.
Robert's law practice, now reduced to three attorneys, slowly recovered from the whole mess over Suzanne's father. Suzanne's publisher became an important new client for one of Robert's partners after she successfully argued the Nevada lawsuit filed against Suzanne's book. With that the other clients came back, including a couple of Ed's. Robert's career had weathered the storm.
Still, the ghost of Suzanne's father was not a pleasant presence in either of their lives. Robert had known Ed since law school and regretted not having picked up on his behavior earlier. Suzanne still was deeply hurt over the events that led to her breaking off her relationship with him. Ed was going to jail, he was wiped out financially, and everyone in his life had turned their backs on him. In a nine month period he had lost his career, his house, his wife, his daughter, and his friends. Soon enough he would lose his freedom. All of this was due to his own actions.
Suzanne began to have second thoughts about her treatment of her father last fall. Robert disagreed.
"Suzanne, you were right last November. Don't give him the chance to hurt you yet again. If he comes to you asking for forgiveness, then you can give it to him. But he needs to ask you."
Suzanne stared quietly at the floor. Robert, seeing the doubt in her face, continued.
"Suzanne, two things to remember. Your stepmother left him and I'm sure she had her reasons. And if you still have your doubts, I'll show you my copy of his case file. That should convince you."
Wendy spent the entire fall semester living with Amy and Suzanne, not having anywhere else to go. During the first few days she slept on the sofa. However, once it became apparent that Wendy was going to stay longer than just a few days, Amy bought her an air mattress and Wendy started sleeping in Suzanne's workroom. She had to keep her clothes in Amy's room, but the new arrangement reduced the tension between Wendy and Amy, since it is never pleasant to get up in the morning and have to fix breakfast quietly to avoid waking the guest in the living room.
Wendy's presence did not affect Suzanne's life very much, but it definitely affected Amy's relationship with Paul. No longer was Paul able to come over whenever he wanted for as long as he wanted for sex. There were only two times per week when Wendy had classes and Amy did not, which meant that sex between Paul and Amy could not be spontaneous any more. There certainly could be no thoughts of him staying the night. Their time together now had to be carefully planned.
The air mattress changed Wendy's status in the apartment from guest to a member of the household. Amy warned Wendy about Suzanne's fastidious habits and insistence on having everything cleaned and picked up. She announced to Wendy that she would start paying a fourth of the rent and that she would share buying food and cooking. Now Wendy accompanied Suzanne and Amy to the supermarket, she was required to cook, and she was required to clean up. The change did Wendy a lot of good and reduced the tension from her being a long-term guest.
The moment she saw the air mattress, Suzanne's demeanor changed towards Wendy. She immediately treated Wendy like she did Amy.
"Wendy, you are now a member of this household and you will start acting like one! I want those dishes out of the kitchen sink, and for God's sake clean up that toothpaste in the bathroom and get that hair out of the bathtub drain...that's disgusting!" As Wendy rushed into the bathroom with a bottle of cleaner in her hand, Amy smiled to herself. She had warned Wendy what to expect from Suzanne.
Wendy filled up her time as much as she possibly could. She had anticipated a hard semester, and to make absolutely sure that she had no time to stew over her problems, took an extra class for her major. She would be up to her neck in her accounting requirements. It seemed that numbers offered her the one viable escape from her memories of what happened to her in the Spring.
Wendy was still adrift psychologically. She did fine with her classes, but that was because she could handle numbers in a mechanical manner that did not require her to think or to reflect.
Wendy often sought out Suzanne just to talk. There was too much emotional baggage between Wendy and Amy right now for either to feel comfortable around the other. Especially with Amy's control over her finances, it was hard for Wendy to open up to her. Suzanne became the person closest to Wendy during the fall. She was not directly connected to Wendy's Atlantic City disaster enough to intimidate Wendy. However, she knew enough to understand what Wendy was going through.
Wendy's break with her parents deeply troubled Suzanne. Wendy's father was not like Suzanne's father. She strongly felt that Wendy belonged at home, not with her and Amy.
Suzanne massaged Wendy at least three times a week. Wendy seemed to need the comfort and reassurance of Suzanne's hands on her body. Suzanne was thorough with Wendy, often massaging her for an hour and a half at a time. It gave Suzanne some satisfaction to feel Wendy's tight muscles loosen up as each session progressed. Wendy, who could not sleep at night, often fell asleep on Suzanne's massage table. Suzanne was content to cover her up and let her stay asleep on the table as long as she wanted.
Suzanne felt no regret over having published "Wendy". The book sent a powerful message about the risks of gambling. It solidified Suzanne's reputation as a serious photographer. It replenished Wendy's depleted bank account and gave her financial security, assuming that Amy could keep her out of Atlantic City. It gave Wendy an avenue through which she could express herself. Most importantly, it forced Wendy to face her problems head-on.
When she was not studying, Wendy drew. Her Anime work branched out from the pictures she drew over the summer. Following in the footsteps of Frida Kahlo, Wendy did a large number of self portraits. She started to experiment with figure studies of herself, converting her body to Anime. One afternoon, before giving Wendy her massage, Suzanne took a series of figure studies for Wendy, specifically to use as poses for her drawings.
Suzanne encouraged Wendy to keep herself as busy as possible. Suzanne had mixed feelings about Wendy's art. Some of it was becoming less morbid. Now, not everything Wendy drew had gambling paraphernalia in it. Wendy was not always the subject of torture in her pictures. Her pictures were still very sad, but the artwork was getting even better and more varied. Some of the better pictures deeply moved Suzanne. However, as much as she saw potential in Wendy's Anime work, Suzanne did not want that to be the focus of her friend's life. Wendy was not Frida Kahlo. She had her family, her studies, and her responsibilities. She had to go back to her parents eventually. There was an entire family business waiting for her to take over, if she could come to terms with herself and her vulnerabilities. Suzanne also knew that no matter how good she was at drawing, Wendy was extremely unlikely to make a living off her art. In spite of her doubts, Suzanne gave Wendy several sets of drawing materials and explained how to use them. Wendy began experimenting with more than just pen and ink.
The upcoming semester promised to be a brutal one for Amy. For the fall she was enrolled in another of Burnside's classes as an undergraduate. However, Amy suddenly found herself with a much bigger burden thrust upon her by her professor, two days before classes were due to start. Her new responsibility started simply enough, with an e-mail from the professor that read:
Amy: I need to see you in my office ASAP - Burnside -
The next day Amy was in Burnside's office at 9:00 am. Burnside got right to the point:
"Lisa just got a scholarship. To take it she has to cancel her current contract with the department and change assignments. What that means is she'll have to drop her position working as my assistant. I need you to take over."