Esther and Me Ch. 03bySlirpuff©
Chapter Three: A New Beginning
Everyone in the house was looking forward to Catherine's return, and I got antsy as the days dragged on. I left work early on Wednesday and drove to my new, or should I say Esther's, home. I parked on the driveway figuring I would be picking up Catherine at the airport later tonight. I walked through the front door and there she was talking to her mom and Lucy. I guess I kind of froze in my tracks and just stared at her. I wanted to rush to her, grab her into my arms, and make up for the last three months we'd been separated.
"Hello, Steve," she said with that beautiful smile of hers. At that point I knew I loved her and that I wanted her more than anything else in this world. We'd never once exchanged the "L' word between us but I knew in my heart she felt the same way.
"For Christ's sakes, will you fucking kiss her before you blow your wad in your damn pants. I may be old, but I'm not fucking stupid you know," Esther said with a smile. Lucy told her to hush. "Hell, the two of them couldn't keep their hands off one another after the first week last time. At least this time we won't have to worry about making up two rooms."
Even though I still couldn't move, Catherine could and did. We kissed for about two minutes before coming up for air.
"I'd say for you two to get a room if I wasn't so damn hungry and dinner wasn't already done. So kiss her once more and we'll meet the two of you in the dining room." Esther told Lucy to get her black ass in gear and get them the hell out of there.
"God, I missed you," I said in between the next four kisses never taking my eyes off hers.
"Come on, we'd better get in there before mom has a cow. We have the next four night to get reacquainted." We walked into the dining room hand in hand.
"Simmer down or I'm going to have Lucy hose you down. You're starting to act like I use to with your father and that's one memory I want to keep to myself." Esther smiled and with that I knew I had her blessings, or at least hoped I did.
We spent more time in my bedroom then we did anywhere else. At the town square I dance the majority of songs with her, I just didn't want her out of my arms. And yes, I still was a shitty dancer but I was improving. The first night in bed I told her that I was hopelessly in love with her. When she didn't recipicate I got a little concerned but hell, I was always the aggressor.
When I reached over to touch her the following morning she was already up, dressed, and having breakfast with her mom by the time I got there.
"Sleep well?" Esther shot her question at me, probably looking for me to blush or something like that.
"I would have, but your daughter kept me up most of the night." Catherine almost coughed up her last swallow of coffee.
"I guess she's just like her mother, after all."
That night dinner was fabulous. I deep-fried a turkey and Lucy worked her miracles in the kitchen, as usual, while Catherine and her mother visited. I ate too much. Hell, we all ate too much and had to push off dessert until after eight o'clock. Dutch apple pie with cinnamon ice cream and a cool French silk pie did nothing but add pounds to my waistline. We had leftovers for the next two days. Never cook a twenty-two pound turkey for just four people.
Friday night after some wonderful lovemaking with Catherine, she wanted to talk; and I mean really talk.
"Steve, where are we going with this? I mean, what are your intensions?"
"I think I've made my feelings pretty clear; I love you! I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you. I don't think I can make it any more clear, do you?"
"You live and work in Florida and I in New Jersey. The earliest I'm going to retire is sixty-two which is seven years away and you still have just over four years left at the earliest. That's a lot of time to be separated."
"I know it won't be easy but in the long run it'll be worth it. Catherine, I love you."
"Steve, love is great, but fleeting. After a year or two the lust dies out and seeing each other only on and off, I wonder if we'll survive. And where would we live? You plan on living with my mother forever?" She was asking some tough questions.
"Look, I've got money in the bank, a pretty decent 401k and with social security I can't say we'd be on easy street, but we'd have more than enough to have a fine life. Do you want to retire up in New Jersey?"
"Hell no, not on your life. I'm tired of the harsh winters and want to kick back and enjoy the warm weather and cool sand between my toes. I'm just a little concerned."
"Sarah's gone and so is my house. We can buy another one here or a condo on the beach. I just want to spend my life with you. We don't have to decide right now, just give us a chance." She smiled and gave me another kiss. Was she pulling back? She seemed concerned as to where we were headed. I was concerned but knew what I wanted; and that was her.
The rest of the weekend was a little tense. We still were close, had great sex, but had more than one more hard discussion. Our trip to the airport was even quieter than the last on if that was possible. Our eyes met often and we never stopped holding hands, but I felt a slight rift.
I unloaded her bags from the trunk, tipped the porter and took her into my arms once again.
"Catherine, I love you heart and soul. I know it's been a little quick and maybe a little overwhelming but I know in my heart it's right. Please think about it. I'm not asking for any firm commitments right now just for you to think about it—us."
She looked at me and smiled. With a sweet kiss, which would keep me warm at least until our next phone call, she walked into the terminal. I felt a chill run up my spine, like they when they say someone had just walked on your grave. I was scared for the first time in years of losing something I'd become attached to.
Esther gave me a concerned look when I got back home. Then it hit me, it wasn't home. This was Esther's place and I was nothing more than a guest. A welcomed guest, but nonetheless a guest just the same.
In an unusually warm and caring voice Esther said to me, "You're reading too much into what my daughter is saying. I've know her a lot longer than you and she'd just running a little scared, that's all." I wanted to believe her but I wasn't as sure as she was. Catherine was due back for the holidays and I had at least a somewhat plan in the back of my head.
The change came slowly, and I didn't fully realize it until Lucy had a family crisis and had to be gone for two to three days.
"Lucy, take care of what you need to. I can handle everything here on the home front."
"You don't have a clue what you're getting yourself in for. Maybe I should get a temp until I get back."
"No time. Go take care of your business and don't worry about me."
"You, I'm not worried about. It's Esther I'm concerned about."
"Go, we'll be fine."
It is an absolute fact that Lucy earns every penny Esther pays her. Esther was hell on wheels so to speak, or maybe just a demanding fuck. The food wasn't as good as Lucy's and when I showered her, me wearing shorts of course, she told me to watch my hands.
"I knew you'd finally find a way to get me naked and have your way with me. Don't worry about using a damn rubber, I'm way past worrying about getting pregnant," she said grabbing my crotch. "My daughter said you were more than average, I just needed to feel for myself." She smiled and laughed and I blushed. I was counting the hours until Lucy got back.
After dinner the following night we went up to hear the music at the town square. It was a fifties theme and geared towards the generation older than mine. Esther was nursing her beer talking to another woman next to her when Sarah appeared out of nowhere.
"Steve, how are you doing?" she asked with a bit of hesitation not really knowing how she'd be received.
"I'm doing fucking great, can't you see?" The sudden burst of anger surprised me as much as her. "What the hell do you care anyway? Aren't you getting enough tail from all your friends? Or is it that you're trolling for some more strange stuff? Why don't you go back to your friends and have one of them on me. I remember how you use to like it from behind, have you given anyone your ass yet?" I was practically shouting at her. I didn't even care that everyone was listening to our conversation that was already going down hill fast.
I don't think I'll ever forget the look on her face. Her eyes were filled with tears, her nose was dripping, and a look of horror covered the rest of her face as she drew her hands up to cover her mouth. Sarah was unable to say anything. I just continued to lambaste into her.
"So, unless you're here to give me one of your pathetic blow jobs, please just fuck off." She ran crying back across the plaza losing one shoe in the process. Now everyone was looking at me, including Esther. "What?" I yelled at those still staring at me. "What would you have said to your ex-wife who after thirty-five years started to branch out and fuck everything with a third leg?" People turned away embarrassed.
"Well, that's the most excitement I've seen up here in the last year," Esther said looking at me. "I think it's about time we leave this place. You've given a few people something to think about."
For the next three days Esther had only one beer all night. She was still spunky but somewhat subdued.
"You feeling okay, Esther? You seem a little down."
"Just a little tired. How are you and my daughter making out?" she asked.
"Not as well as I'd like but I guess I understand a little of where she's coming from."
"Well, take it from me, she can be a real pig headed bitch, but you'll not find a more caring and honest woman. That is, besides being my daughter and a chip off the old block." Her big smile was that of the old Esther.
Thank God, Lucy finally came back. A day late but she was back."
"How did it go?" was the first question out of her mouth.
"Okay, interesting and how in the hell do you do it?" The question sort of just gushed out of my mouth.
"A day at a time."
Lucy sure was a better cook than I was. Her dinner the first night back made me think of my own mom's roast beef, but it was better. I didn't go to listen to the music that night. I'd made an ass out of myself two nights ago and decided to lay low for a few days. I guess my issues with Catherine were getting the better of me and I'd taken it out on Sarah; not that she didn't deserve it.
"You sure created a ruckus up there," Lucy said walking in the door pushing Esther's wheelchair. "Everyone, and I do mean everyone, is talking about it. The votes are about sixty-five percent in your favor and would have been higher if you hadn't been quite so brutal. It seems that most people think the way that you do, but are or were until yesterday too prim and proper to say anything, but not anymore."
"Steve, what Lucy is babbling about is that you did good. Dumping on your cheating wife the way you did has made you somewhat of a local hero. I don't think some of the spouses who were on the fence before are there anymore. I think there will be more husbands and wives in trouble before your little tirade is forgotten. Well, I hope that got you out of your funk because I was starting to miss the old Steve." The week ended on high note, at least for Esther.
I loved Christmas and my kids were upset that I wasn't going up to Jacksonville to be with them. Sarah was going and I'm sure they wanted it to be like the old days, but that wasn't going to happen. Mind you they weren't taking her side but my daughter did ask why I couldn't forgive her mother after being together for almost forty years. When I asked her what she would have done if her husband had cheated on her; that shut her up. I bought presents for everyone and sent them via UPS in plenty of time to be put under the tree. This was my first Christmas being single and I was more than a little bummed out. Even though I now considered Esther and Lucy almost family, I missed my own kids.
"Steve, can you pick up Catherine at the airport Wednesday? Transportation is going to be tough to get at best and all you're going to do is mope around here, anyway," Esther said, starting to trim our artificial tree. "And, if you want anything special to eat let Lucy know. I like a ham and goose for Christmas dinner but am open to almost anything else." I added yams and crescent rolls to the long list of food and figured Lucy would be in the kitchen most of the day, which left Esther and Catherine for me to entertain.
A big kiss from Catherine helped boost my spirits but somehow it wasn't the same. We held hands, talked and she did tease me unmercificaly all the way back to the house. I helped her dump her stuff into her room and was mixing holidays drinks when she came back after changing out of her winter clothes.
"It feels so good to be back in shorts again. We must have a foot of snow up north, and the weather is suppose to get in the low thirties by the end of the week. I might stay an extra week down here if it does," she said looking at me. I handed out the drinks out and proposed a toast.
"To new friends and a new life," I said touching both of their glasses and taking my first sip of eggnog. "Why don't you visit with your mom because I told Lucy I was going to help her with dinner tonight."
"Okay, Lucy, how long has she been sick and what the hell is wrong with her?" The look she gave me was one of concern and surprise.
"I don't know what you're talking about? You know Esther, some days she's up and other days she's down."
"You may be able to dish that shit out to some people, but I've know her too long for that to hold water. When she nurses one beer all night long and looks lethargic by eight o'clock in the evening, something's wrong and I want to know what?"
"She's eighty-eight years old and besides having a heart condition, high cholesterol, and arthritis she's got the spunk of a fifty year old. I knew you'd see it while I was gone that's why I was going to get a temp service to cover for me. She's just plain tired and it's getting worse. Her hands are tightening up and I have had to increase the dosage of her medication twice this year to keep her from having any pain."
"What do the doctors say?"
"Steve, she's on a maintenance program. There's no cure for what's she has, only the medication will make her life more bearable. And don't you dare tell her I told you anything. She says it's her business and her business alone. She'd fire my ass if she even suspected I was saying anything to you or to Catherine."
"So, Catherine doesn't know either?"
"The only thing she knows is that her mom is getting older. I give her weekly updates but Esther makes sure I don't give her the whole truth. Unless there is an act of God, she isn't going to see her ninetieth birthday." If I felt bad before, I felt much worse now. Both my mom and dad had passed on years ago, and I had hoped that I wouldn't feel that pain again before it was my time to go; guess I wasn't going to be that lucky.
Dinner was great as always. I told everyone it was because I'd done most of the cooking. I smiled and Lucy rolled her eyes. After dinner I told Lucy to sit and I would take care of clearing off the table and doing the dishes. Standing over the sink I'd wished we had used paper plates. The dishwasher was overflowing with plates, pots, and serving dishes. I walked back into the dining room carrying a fresh pot of coffee while everyone kicked back and loosened their pants. Well, I did anyway. By eight o'clock Esther's head was nodding and was in bed just before nine.
"All right, what's the matter?" Catherine asked me when we were finally alone.
"This is the first holiday I won't be spending with my family and it finally hit me yesterday morning." Taking her into my arms I gave her a peck on the lips. "However, with you here now, it at least makes it bearable."
"I'm sorry. I remember what it was like that first Christmas. My ex may have been an asshole, but it was still tough that first year. Anything I can do to make it easier on you?" she asked drawing in my body closer to hers.
"Just holding you here and now is making it a lot easier." We made unhurried gentle love that night. We didn't try to knock each other's socks off; more so just showed one another how much we had really missed the other. We had some issues to address and I had held off discussing them until we could do it face to face. On Thursday morning I informed everyone I'd be gone for most of the day finishing up my Christmas shipping.
"Just like a man, waiting until the last minute to shop." All three women reprimanded me. Little did they know I'd already picked out each one's gift and was just picking them up.
I'd thought long and hard about each. Esther was the easiest. She loved music and even though she could no longer dance I gave her the next best thing. I got her an Apple iPod preloaded with a thousand songs from her generation forward. I figured she'd never wear those little ear buds so I got her a pair of Bose headphones. What I'd spent on her was nothing to what she had done for me over the last six months. Lucy was Lucy and I say that in the nicest way. She wore the same uniform and hairstyle every day. Caring for Esther was almost her life and if it were me, I'd be missing the simple pleasures in life if I were a woman. So, I got her twelve spa sessions. They would give her a full body massage, do her hair, nails, and all the other little things they do there. She deserved more, but I was on a budget and had spent a lot more on my final gift.
I more than liked Catherine. She was beautiful, intelligent, and fun to be with. We had tried to sneak around her mom like two teenagers doing something bad so as not to worry her. We thought we needed to keep what we were doing from her. Hell, Catherine was her daughter and I was living with her mother basically rent-free. I didn't know how she would take it, me fooling around with her daughter; so what she didn't know wouldn't hurt her. All right, so she wasn't stupid and saw right through us, either that or Lucy told her.
I picked the week of March 22nd because work was usually slow at that time and I knew after a cold miserable winter Catherine might like to go somewhere warm. So, with a round trip airline ticket and another for a seven-day Caribbean cruise in my pocket I headed back, stopping off at the liquor story for two more bottles of wine.
We always opened our gifts on Christmas Eve even after the kids moved out. We would have a late dinner, make a fire in the fireplace, put on some soft music and see what the others had bought for us this year. There were no toasters or blenders from me; it was always something personal from lingerie, to bath soaps, perfume, or other specially selected items. Sarah had always bought what she needed, so Christmas was about those items she didn't need but might want. I didn't care what she bought me, because I was looking for that certain gleam in her eyes when she opened my presents. That look was a better gift than anything she could possibly have bought me.
Christmas Eve we didn't have a big dinner for a change. A nice tossed salad, a vegetable casserole and stuffed chicken breasts made up our meal that evening. A pecan pie was in the oven and would be the dessert after we opened our gifts. I felt like a young kid. I was excited and almost bursting at the seams waiting for everyone to finally sit down in the living room. With everyone's gifts under the tree, I announced I would play Santa tonight. I knelt down and pulled out one gift at a time.
Like I thought, no one knew what I wanted but they came close. Food items, you could never go wrong with them. Nuts, chocolate, wine, and exotic flavored jams were what I got.