The doorbell rang at precisely 7AM, signaling the arrival of Courtney Stewart, our babysitter. Courtney lived across the street and two doors down and had been watching our kids on a semi-regular basis for the past three years, since she was fifteen. Though Cathy and I didn't need babysitting very often, since Cathy, my wife, was a stay-at-home mom, whenever we did wish to go out for a night on the town or whenever there was a meeting or some other function that Cathy needed to attend while I was at work, Courtney was a godsend. Since she had never really been much of the outgoing type, she was almost always available in the evenings. In addition, she was reliable, sweet, and our two kids loved her to death. We'd always considered her trustworthy as well, at least until the last babysitting episode two weeks before.
That had been when Cathy and I had tried to spend an enjoyable evening by visiting the restaurant where I'd proposed to her ten years before. But, unfortunately, we'd ended up fighting about the same old stupid things. Why was I wasting my time at the District Attorney's office instead of going into corporate law, which paid better? Why was she spending our money like I had gone into corporate law? Round and round we'd gone, making our marital problems worse instead of better, until we'd come home thoroughly pissed at each other, me bracing to spend the night on the couch again, her trying to goad me into resuming the argument by making nasty remarks towards me in Courtney's presence. The discovery I made in the couch cushions while making up my bed for the night only served to add icing to that particularly bitter cake.
I hadn't told Cathy about what I'd found in the couch, nor did I ever intend to. She would have simply demanded that we never allow Courtney into our house again. Cathy, apart from being a frustrated social climber, was insanely jealous as well. She had always been somewhat cool towards Courtney, who, though she wasn't really gorgeous or anything, was cute and young, two things that threatened my wife's sense of safety more than anything. Nor had I mentioned it to Courtney yet. We hadn't needed a babysitter since then and the discovery had occurred after she'd gone home that night. But I needed to mention it to her now, not to embarrass her or chastise her, but just to make sure that what apparently happened in my house that night would not happen again.
I opened the door and there she was on the front porch. She was eighteen years old, tall, her face cute, her body just on the border of what was considered chunky but still firmly on the right side of that particular line. She was full-figured, almost Amazonian, a body that seemed custom made for playing softball or volleyball (both of which Courtney had done in high school). Her hair was a dark, honey blonde. Currently it was pulled up in a loose ponytail. She was wearing a pair of baggy sweats and a long T-shirt. She looked sleepy.
"Hey, Steve," she greeted me, stifling a yawn. "I made it on time."
"Good morning, Courtney," I responded. I was dressed in my usual suit and tie, preparatory to heading in to the office. "Thanks for coming over so early. It really is a pain when they make me actually go to court." And this was true. As a robbery and burglary specialist, it was rare indeed that I actually had to take someone to trial. Burglars and robbers were usually busted after being tied to multiple offenses and, when they were caught and charged, the evidence against them was usually overwhelming. Many were facing the prospect of doing some hard time, possibly even that dreaded third strike. As such, they were usually happy to take whatever plea bargain I offered. In this particular case, however, the young man I was prosecuting had a public defender that was almost as dumb as he was. Despite video evidence of him sticking up three convenience stores and two fast food establishments, and despite being caught with the gun that had been used in his possession and with his fingerprints all over it, they had elected to plead innocent and fight it out in court. Thus I had to go in early to prepare for jury selection, which was taking place that morning, and would have to stay late prepping for the actual trial, which would start first thing the next morning. Cathy was out of town attending a Mother's Against Drunk Driving conference in Seattle (MADD was but one of several organizations she volunteered with as a way of getting out of the house) so Courtney had agreed to come over 7 AM, get the kids off to school, and then come back that afternoon and watch them until I came home.
"What time will you be in?" she asked me. A standard question, of course, and one she certainly had a right to know, but I detected a little hint of something in her eyes.
"Hopefully by 9:30," I said. "Most certainly by ten."
She nodded, the little something beginning to look more and more like and actual gleam. "No problem," she told me. "I'll be able to get some reading done once I put them to bed."
Reading, my ass, I thought. Yes, I was definitely going to have to have this discussion with her. I took a deep breath. "Uh... Courtney?"
I wasn't quite sure how to begin. "Well... listen. You've been babysitting for us a long time now and you've always done a very good job and all and you've always been very respectful of our house."
"Well... thanks," she said, her gleam fading a little at my tone.
"You're welcome. But the reason I bring this up is because... well... after the last time you babysat for us... when we went out to dinner... uh... I found a... uh... a condom wrapper in the couch cushions."
The gleam dissolved like sugar in hot tea. Her face instantly flushed bright red. "A... a... a condom wrapper?" she stammered.
"Yeah," I said. "Trojan lubricated with reservoir tip, to be exact."
"I don't know how something like that could have happened," she blurted, her eyes looking everywhere but my face. "I mean... couldn't it be one of yours?"
"I had a vasectomy," I said. "And even before that, Cathy was on the pill. I haven't used a condom in more than ten years."
"But maybe... I mean isn't it possible that Cathy... you know..."
"Courtney, please," I said, holding up my hand. "Let's not go there. Cathy and I haven't been getting along terribly well lately, but I'm pretty sure she didn't have sex with someone on the couch and then leave the condom wrapper behind. You, on the other hand, have been dating that one boy... what's his name?"
"Carl," she said.
"And I know you told me your parents don't like him very much and won't let him come over to your house. Now none of that is any of my business and I'm not trying to make it my business, but I really have to insist that you don't allow your friends into my house, okay?"
She seemed near tears as she slowly nodded. "Okay," she said softly. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be sorry," I told her. "Just promise me you won't bring people into my house anymore, okay? For any reason."
"I promise," she mumbled.
"Good," I said, giving her a smile. "Then on that note, I'll be heading out. I left the coffee on for you."
She bid me an embarrassed goodbye and a moment later I was out the door.
The day went by. We picked our jury in less than two hours since I didn't bother using any of my strikes; after all, even the most moronic or pre-conceived juror would have a tough time justifying an acquittal vote in this case. Once the jury was formed, the tedium began. I went back to the office and began going over every last detail of my case, piece by piece. I wasn't afraid of losing but I certainly didn't want to forget something vital or make a mistake that would cause me to look like an amateur. As I'd suspected, it took me until nearly nine that night to cover everything.
I drove home somewhat frazzled, tired but too keyed up to feel like getting some sleep just yet. A phone call from Cathy earlier in the day certainly hadn't helped my state of mind much. She had called my office long distance for no other reason than to pick a fight. She'd started in about leaving the kids with "that girl" for so long, which, of course, soon worked its way into the ever popular, "if you worked for a law firm instead of the county we'd be able to afford a real nanny".
I rode the argument out. If I had hung up on her she would have called back. If I'd refused to answer she would've called my secretary and harassed her instead, embarrassing me, herself, and my poor secretary in the process. She had done it before.
So it is not surprising that as I walked in my front door at 9:25, my brain was fixated on one thing and one thing only. I needed a drink.
Courtney was sitting on the couch when I came in, watching music videos on my plasma television. Thoughts of a drink were temporarily shoved to the side as I got a look at her. She was dressed in a pair of tight cotton shorts and a midriff baring tee shirt. Her stomach was smooth and unlined, with a gold stud threaded through her belly button. Her shoes had been kicked off, leaving her feet bare, and she was sitting Indian style, a position that allowed her shorts to creep upwards, revealing an enticing amount of upper thigh.
God, she's cute, I thought, feeling a wave of lust sweep over me as I took in her form. This was certainly not the first time I'd had such a feeling about her. On the contrary, I'd always enjoyed looking at her, particularly in the last year or so when she'd truly blossomed into a young woman. I had never been the least bit flirtatious with her, however. Despite my marital problems I was basically an honest, decent guy. I was far from lecherous, at least in the overt sense of the word. She gave me a weak smile as the door closed behind me and I set my briefcase down.
"Kids go to bed okay?" I asked her.
She nodded. "Yeah. I read them a story and they went right to sleep at nine. They were good."
"Perfect," I said. "Thanks again for hanging out so long."
She nodded again, her face somewhat sour. It was obvious that something was wrong with her. Was it just embarrassment over having been caught fornicating on my couch? Or was there something else there? Perhaps she was mad that getting caught had ruined the chance for another encounter on this evening. Whatever it was, it really wasn't my business. I took one last look at her sexy bare legs and that even sexier expanse of upper thigh revealed by the way she was sitting and then my mind returned to the main task at hand. That drink.
"Six hours tonight, right?" I asked Courtney. She nodded.
"I'll write you a check in just a second," I told her. "But first, I really need to pour myself a little something. It's been... you know... one of those days."
She let out a little laugh, a sharp, cynical laugh. "Oh yes," she said. "I know."
"You too, huh?"
"You have no idea," she said.
I left it at that and walked over to the wet bar in the corner of the family room. I took off my suit jacket, draping it over one of the bar stools and then took off my tie, draping it over the suit jacket. I unbuttoned the top button on my dress shirt and then took down a bottle of imported Russian vodka and a martini shaker. I poured a triple shot of the vodka in, added some ice and some vermouth, and then began shaking. As I was straining my concoction it into a martini glass Courtney walked over to watch.
"Breaking out the big guns tonight, huh?" she asked.
"You know it," I replied, opening the small refrigerator and pulling out a jar of green olives. I used my finger to swipe one out and dropped it into my drink.
"So... that's like a martini?" she asked.
"Well, a purist would say that a true martini contains gin instead of vodka, but basically, yes."
She chewed her lip nervously for a second. "Do you think that... you know... maybe I could have one too?"
I looked at her pointedly. "You just turned eighteen, right?"
"Two months ago," she said. "It's not like I haven't drank before."
I sighed. "And if I do make you a martini," I said, "you're not going to be coming over here every day asking me to buy booze for you, are you?"
"No," she said. "I wouldn't do that."
"And you're not going to go home and tell your parents that Steve, the respected deputy district attorney with the ninety-seven percent conviction and/or plea rate got you drunk?"
That got a little giggle out of her. "No," she said. "I swear."
I shrugged, knowing that I was treading on slightly dangerous ground here, but figuring, what the hell? At the very least I might get another look up her shorts. Maybe I'd even get to see what color panties she was wearing. "Okay," I told her. "You talked me into it. But why don't you taste mine first before I make you one. I have a feeling you might not like it too much."
She picked up my glass, smelled it, and then took a drink. Her face contorted instantly into a grimace of disgust. "Ewww," she said, breathing through her mouth to try to flush the aftertaste. "That tastes like gasoline."
"I warned you," I told her, amused. "Martinis, like fine wines, are an acquired taste." I reached down into the bar and pulled out a bottle of apple schnapps. "Let me make you something that's probably a little more to your taste."
"Please," she said.
I poured a double shot of the vodka into the shaker, added a shot of the apple schnapps, and then put in some more ice. I shook it and then strained it into a martini glass for her. The resulting mixture was a pale emerald color. I handed it over to her. "Try this," I said.
"What is it?" she asked, giving another careful sniff.
"An apple martini, also known as an appletini, although no self-respecting male would ever be heard saying that term. It's supposed to have an apple slice in it for garnish but I'm fresh out of apples at the moment."
She took a small sip and her eyes lit up. "Hey, that's good," she said. She took a bigger drink. "It's really good."
"And it keeps the doctor away," I said. "Shall we go grab a seat?"
"Sure," she said, seeming to cheer up the smallest bit.
She turned and walked back to the couch. As she did so I had opportunity to get a good look at her ass. Her cotton shorts were of the kind that had a word printed across the butt. That word was: ANGEL. Protruding from the bottom of her angel shorts, the barest beginning of the swelling of her buttocks was plainly visible. "Wow," I mumbled to myself, as I watched said buttocks rise and fall with her movements. I wondered how angelic she really was and then cursed myself for having such a thought.
We sat on the sectional couch, her on one side, me around the L from her, about four feet separating us. She took another drink of her appletini, a much larger one this time.
"I think I found myself a new drink," she announced.
"Just be careful with them," I warned. "They pack quite a punch."
She giggled. "That's just what I look for in a drink."
We talked of easy things as we sat there: her part-time job at the local pet store, her plans to go to college "some day" after she secured a job that allowed her to move out of her parent's home, the "overprotective" nature of her parents. Gradually, as the drinks went into our stomachs, the awkwardness as a result of the condom wrapper discussion faded away, allowing its emergence as a topic.
"I'm so embarrassed, Steve," she told me. "About everything. You finding the wrapper, having Carl in your house, trying to lie to you about it." She shook her head in disgust at herself. "Will you ever trust me again?"
"I trusted you today, didn't I?" I asked.
"Well... yeah, but you still must've been wondering and worrying the whole time about me having him over again." She hefted her now-empty glass. "Can I have another one?"
My own glass was empty by this point and I could already feel the warmth in my empty stomach, the swimming in my head, as the triple shot coursed through my system. My better judgment, which was usually quite sound, had taken a hit as well since serving her another drink didn't seem like a bad idea at all. "Sure," I told her, standing up and grabbing both glasses. "Another round, coming up." I began to mix up a couple of fresh ones. "Anyway," I told her as I poured free hand instead of measuring, "I was pretty confident that you wouldn't have your boyfriend over tonight."
"Uh huh," I said. "Mostly because you're a good kid and I know you wouldn't blatantly defy me."
"But also because there wouldn't have been too much time for you to do anything. I mean, the kids go to bed at nine and I told you I could be home as early as 9:30. That doesn't leave a lot of time for indiscretions on the couch, does it?"
She laughed. "With Carl it does," she said. "He could've gone twice and still had time to smoke a cigarette between rounds."
I looked over at her and saw that she was blushing again. "Oh really?" I said.
"Oh my God," she said. "I can't believe I said that out loud. Sorry."
"Nothing to be sorry for," I assured her, amused. I finished up her drink and strained it into her glass. I then quickly constructed a new drink for myself. When they were done, I carried both back to the couch. "Here you go, my lady," I said, handing her hers.
"Thanks," she said, still blushing. She immediately took a large drink of it.
"Anyway," I said, resuming my seat. "I wouldn't be too hard on Carl if I were you. He's still young. What is he, nineteen?"
"Twenty," she said.
I nodded. "Twenty year old guys don't really know how to... uh... you know... control themselves too well yet. Sex is something that takes a long time to perfect."
"So it does get better?" she asked.
"Well... it depends on the guy of course. I mean, some guys never learn how to do it right. But, for the most part, the older and more experienced a guy is, the better he will be at making love."
"Hmmm," she said thoughtfully, a slight gleam returning to her eyes, a gleam that seemed to be directed at me this time. "Very interesting."
Now it was me who was embarrassed as it occurred to me that she might've taken my words of advice the wrong way. "In any case," I said, "I was reasonably sure you wouldn't try to bring anyone over tonight and that you won't do it in the future."
"I won't," she said. "Besides, I'm not sure that Carl and I are going to be going out too much anymore."
She took another large drink of her appletini. "We had a big fight tonight... on the phone that is."
"I'm sorry to hear that," I said.
She shrugged. "It ain't no big. I mean, it wasn't really working out with him anyway. The only reason he wanted to be with me was to... you know... have sex with me. That's what we fought about. That's all we ever fight about."
She nodded. "He... well... he was going to try to come over tonight." She cast her eyes down. "I'm sorry, but that was before I knew you knew about... you know... the last time."
"I understand," I told her. "Believe me, I'm not offended by what you did. Believe it or not, I was a teenager once too and I did it more than once in someone else's house while my girlfriend was babysitting. My concern was not about you having sex—after all, you're a big girl now—but about having people I don't know in my house. And at least I know you're using protection, right?"
She giggled a little. "That's a big part of what the fight was about," she said. "Those damn rubbers."
"You fought about rubbers?"
"Well, that was part of it anyway. When I told him that you knew what we had done the last time and that you made it... you know... clear that he wasn't supposed to come over, he asked me how you'd known. So I told him that he'd left his freakin' condom wrapper in the couch."
"Which is better than leaving the actual condom in the couch, I will admit," I told her.