What Chocolate Mousse Can Dobycarsonshepherd©
Thanks to TH and S for helping me with this story. You are the best.
"A bunch of us are going out tonight, Shannon," Eva said in the cafeteria, at lunch. "Why don't you come with us?"
Immediately Shannon started to say no. David didn't like her to go out at night; he said he worried about her so much, he almost went crazy until she came home safe. Those girls Shannon worked with at the hospital were all wild sluts; and if she hung around with sluts people would think she was one too. Automatically, she started to say no, but then she remembered: David couldn't tell her what to do anymore; in fact, he couldn't come within fifty feet of her. The court order signed by the judge said so.
"Okay," Shannon answered with a shy smile. She was determined to make friends with her co-workers at her new job. At the other hospital where she nursed for three years, she knew their names, but none of them were her friends. Friendship took work; time and energy she didn't have to spare. Besides, what would she say when the conversation came around, the way it always did, to husbands and boyfriends? How could she explain David, the things he did and said?
When she finally left him two months ago, Shannon didn't have one single friend left from before she met David. One by one he'd driven them off. She had her family, and they were ecstatic she'd finally gotten the courage to leave; but she couldn't spend all her time with her mom and dad, even if they did beg her to move back home. Being distant was almost a habit; but now she had a second chance in life, and she was determined to move forward and break those old patterns. No matter how difficult it was.
The second week at her new job, on the neo-natal floor of Baptist Hospital, Eva had decided to befriend Shannon; and even if she didn't know exactly why, Shannon was happy. Eva was so beautiful and charismatic, every man and half the women on the nursing staff followed her like puppies. For the most part, Shannon always found gorgeous women shallow and vain, but Eva was altogether different. Eva was nice, so nice that at first, Shannon thought she was faking it. It took quite awhile for her to believe that yes, Eva really was as kind as sweet as she appeared.
Balancing their trays, Eva and Shannon went over to their usual lunch table in the corner where the rest of Eva's crowd waited, calling out greetings and eagerly waving them over. Shannon smiled as she sat down next to Kyle.
"I saved you a seat, darlin," he told her warmly.
The first day Eva introduced Shannon to Kyle, when they were riding the elevator back up to the neo-natal floor, Eva sighed dramatically, swooning back against the elevator wall. "Isn't he the cutest?"
"He's cute," Shannon said cautiously. Six feet tall and athletic, Kyle had tousled brown hair, streaked with blonde highlights only the sun could impart; deep blue eyes framed in long dark lashes, a firm but boyish jaw; revealing perfect teeth and dazzling dimples when he flashed his magnetic smile.
"And such a flirt. But why are the really interesting men always gay?" Eva lamented, shaking her head.
"Oh, he's gay." Instead of being disappointed, Shannon was relieved. Now she didn't have to worry that he was hitting on her, instead of harmlessly flirting, and she could enjoy his friendship without worrying what his intentions might be.
That was a few weeks ago. Since then she and Kyle discovered they lived in the same apartment complex, and they'd gotten into the habit of walking the short blocks to work together when they were both on day shift. It was so close there was no point in driving unless it rained. Once Kyle discovered the joys of Shannon's muffins and coffee cakes, he showed up early enough in the morning to have coffee with her; she bought some homespun Irish yarn at the knit shop and she was knitting Kyle and Eva matching scarves.
"Is that all you're eating?" Kyle was frowning at Shannon's lunch of a salad and blueberry yogurt.
"I'm not very hungry," she explained softly.
"You need to eat more, sweetheart. You're too thin." Kyle picked up half his tuna sandwich and put it on Shannon's tray. "Here you go."
With a grateful smile Shannon nibbled the sandwich. Not eating much was another habit. David scowled sullenly if Shannon ate everything on her plate; when a waiter asked her if she wanted dessert, David answered for her. "She doesn't need it." Despite being a perfect size 3, Shannon never ate the tempting things she made for David. He was such a picky eater. No matter how hard she tried, he never would eat anything she cooked more than once; if he said it was good and she made it again, he'd say he was tired of it. The bookshelves bulged with cookbooks Shannon bought, thinking that if she just tried enough new recipes, he'd finally like her cooking and appreciate the efforts she made to please him. Meanwhile, her petite, willowy frame had dwindled down to frail.
Everyone at the table was joking about Dr. Bradshaw, the new resident who was rotating through orthopedics on Kyle's floor this week. Eva, who knew all the best gossip, revealed he was single, and while they were trying to figure out who should ask him out, someone suggested Shannon. Everyone laughed as she blushed scarlet; everyone except Kyle.
"Unless he heals babies by day and fights crime at night, he's not good enough for Shannon," Kyle snapped. A chorus of "Oooos" came up from the table.
"Looks like somebody wants the cute doctor for himself," was the taunt. Kyle grinned, but he still looked fierce. A look that said, if anyone messed with Shannon, they'd have to deal with him.
It had been so long since Shannon had been out to a club. Later that night, in track pants and a t-shirt, she pulled out everything in her closet until she was surrounded by what few clothes she'd taken when she made her escape, whatever could fit into a couple of suitcases. She had no idea what people wore when they went out anymore. Practically the only clothes she had were scrubs. Nothing cute, nothing to wear to a nightclub.
What am I doing? Shannon sank down on the floor and stared straight ahead. I don't have any clothes. I don't have any furniture. I barely remember how to talk to a man, let alone flirt or dance or anything else Eva did so effortlessly.
"I should just stay home," Shannon said out loud to her cat Rusty, who was blinking at her from the mattress on the floor that served as her bed. All the furniture had been left behind, except for a couple of antiques her brother managed to fit in his van the day she left. With a sigh Shannon scooped the cat into her arms and hugged him, burying her nose in his clean, kitty-smelling fur while he purred and kneaded her leg with his claws. He was a big black-and-silver tiger with a tinge of rust that gave him his name. The first thing she did when she rented this apartment, right after she left David for good, was went to the city animal shelter and adopted a cat. She always wanted one, but David would never agree to it. He said Shannon wasn't responsible enough and he didn't want to get stuck cleaning the litterbox.
Just when she had herself convinced not to go, there was a loud knock at her front door. Kyle was coming to pick her up. When she unlocked the door he swept in with his usual storm of good humor and energy. She smiled just to see his face; and it helped that he looked breathtakingly handsome in low-riding jeans and a vintage Van Halen t-shirt about a size too small, showing off his gorgeous toned chest muscles and his lean sculpted biceps. A tattoo peeked out from one of his sleeves, black against his smooth skin.
"Girl, why aren't you dressed?" he demanded after he swooped Shannon up and kissed her cheek, holding her loosely in his arms to hear her answer.
"I'm not going." Shannon shook her head even as she held on to him. He was so nice to hold - warm and strong and nonthreatening. "I don't have any clothes," she explained in a small voice.
"Sure you do. Come on, I'll help you look." He grabbed her hand and marched her toward the bedroom, stopping by the refrigerator to grab a Heineken. Wherever Kyle went, he was completely at home. When they arrived in Shannon's room, Kyle deposited her on the neatly made mattress and gazed at the small array of clothing spread out over the flowered comforter. "Is this everything?" he asked, businesslike.
Shannon nodded miserably. "I… When I moved, I didn't have a chance to pack a lot of things…"
"You don't have to explain," Kyle interrupted in a gentle voice. "Eva told me some of it. But forget that." He reached down and ran his hand over her soft, naturally wavy light brown hair that was caught in a ponytail. "If you go fix your hair and put on your makeup, I'll pick out something for you to wear."
After a quick shower, Shannon toweled her hair dry. She didn't do much to it. Either she put it in a ponytail or left it loose. As far as makeup… well, she hadn't worn it in years. David didn't like it. He said she looked fine the way she was. At first she still wore a little lip gloss, but as the years passed, eventually the only makeup Shannon owned was some tinted ChapStick.
All the nurses on her floor wore makeup, no matter what age they were; they talked about makeup all the time, what kinds they liked, what shades looked good. One of the older ladies, who'd learned about Shannon's sad recent past from Eva, cheerfully brought in a truckload of Mary Kay samples and on a break one day, she gave Shannon a complete makeover. The results were pronounced stunning by everyone; and gratefully Shannon shelled out quite a bit of money on the full line of Mary Kay stuff. In the evenings she faithfully did her cleanser and toner and moisturizer, and she put on a little makeup on days off; but still, she didn't wear it to work. She told herself it was because she didn't have time to keep checking it and reapplying it all day, but really, she knew it was because she still heard David's voice telling her she looked like a whore with all that shit on her face.
That voice echoed in her ears. She stared in the mirror at her pale, scrubbed face. She thought she had it all under control. She thought that David's silly tantrums and ridiculous demands didn't bother her. She was so used to someone constantly telling her what to do, and how to do it, that she was still hearing his voice in her mind and obeying that voice was a habit. But now Shannon was free. She'd left his sorry ass, and she never had to hear that voice again. To hell with David. With sudden determination she opened her brand-new makeup case and put on all her expensive new Mary Kay makeup; even eyeliner and lipliner, two things she'd never worn before, and some berry lip gloss the other nurses at work just went crazy over the day of her makeover.
When Shannon finished with her makeup, she liked the way it looked so much, she realized her hair just wouldn't do. It was limp and curly, with no real style. When she had the hair dryer and the round brush in hand, the technique came back to her. She blew the curls out and fluffed her hair until it was straight, full, and silky. When Kyle knocked softly on the door, she was scrunching the ends with styling wax to make them stand out.
"Wow, you look great." Kyle stared over her shoulder into the mirror, taking in her hair and face. He grinned at her transformation; and when Shannon looked, so did she. After eight years, she was beginning to recognize herself again.
"I cannot wear that." Shannon shook her head when she saw what Kyle had laid out for her. Some tiny bootcut jeans that she'd bought on sale and never worn, because David thought they were too tight; a pair of pointy-toed black heels, only worn once, to a funeral; and a small, short-sleeved top that was made to go under a suit jacket. It was bright red, with a drawstring running up the front that made it bunchy, and hardly covered her collarbone at all. "It's too…"
"Pretty? Sexy?" Kyle dramatically looked around over both shoulders. "When did your ex-husband walk in? I hear his voice and I want to go kick his ass. Just try it on, sweetie."
There was no need for Kyle to leave the room; Shannon didn't feel a bit funny putting on her bra and panties while he reclined on the bed, flipping through a copy of the Oprah magazine on the nightstand. With some reluctance she put on the outfit he'd picked out; and when she shut the closet door to look at herself in the full-length mirror, Kyle appeared behind her. In the heels the top of her head reached his shoulder. Both their eyes looked her up and down, Shannon's anxious, Kyle's approving.
"You really really look pretty," Kyle nodded, smiling. "Hmmm… something's missing. Do you have any jewelry or anything?"
"Not much." She gestured at the jewelry box on top of her dresser. Everything David ever gave her, including her gold wedding band, she left behind when she moved out. While she looked at her reflection Kyle dug around until he came up with a long, thin silver chain that had a delicate silver charm in the shape of a butterfly. He hooked it around her narrow waist so the butterfly dangled at her hip. "Perfect," he declared. He'd noticed Shannon's uncertain expression as she looked at herself. "What do you see?" he asked gently.
Shannon stared wonderingly at the image in the mirror. "I see… myself," she answered simply. The Shannon she was before David came along and screwed her up, confused her and manipulated her into being what he wanted, until she was so dead inside, she couldn't remember what she was really like anymore. David took away her identity and she hated him for that; but what she resented most was the time he'd stolen from her. She was thirty years old now and after losing most of her twenties to that asshole, she needed to start living again before it was too late.
Before meeting David, she used to go out to clubs and parties. She was never a big drinker, but she loved to dance and she loved to wear cute clothes. David made sure she never bought anything too feminine or too pretty; he wanted her to be plain and dull, so no one else would ever see her. Now, she didn't have to hide anymore. She liked wearing this outfit, she told herself firmly. She did look pretty, especially with the makeup and hairstyle. The court had already granted her request to take back her own last name, Hyatt. All she had to do was change all her legal documents. She wasn't David's property anymore. No man was ever, ever going to own her again. Her hazel eyes went up to Kyle's looking at her in the mirror.
"Thank you," she said softly.
Kyle cleared his throat and ran his hand through his perfectly styled hair without messing it up. "Come on, sweetheart, let's go. Eva's waiting for us at Changes, we don't want her to think we got lost."
The two of them zipped down to Front Street in Kyle's new hybrid car. Changes was a big multi-level dance club housed in an old remodeled warehouse, huge and packed to the rafters with screaming people and loud thumping music on a wild Friday night. The bottom floor was a typical college pick-up bar, but they made their way upstairs to the other bar. The upper level wasn't entirely gay, but it wasn't entirely straight, either. The dance floor was filled with all different combinations: guys dancing with guys, girls dancing with girls, two or three girls dancing with one guy, all drinking and having a good time. Eva was already out on the dance floor with a few other girls Shannon recognized from the hospital. They hooted and hollered and waved her over when she approached with Kyle, exclaiming loudly over her new look.
At first Shannon stuck to a table, but after two cocktails Kyle ordered called Purple Panties, she was out on the dance floor moving to the music. She hadn't danced in years and now she didn't want to ever stop. The DJ put on a remixed disco song and the floor thinned out while Kyle grabbed Shannon and swept her up. Kyle was an incredible dancer. Even though she didn't know the moves, she put herself into his hands and let him lead; and everyone was watching and cheering as he threw her up into the air. Closing her eyes, she arched her back and stretched out her arms. Kyle wouldn't let her fall. In a moment of complete trust, she flew.
All too soon he caught her and let her lightly find her feet in the heels. It had been years she since wore heels this high, but it was like riding a bike. There were a lot of things that Shannon was remembering now, that she thought she'd forgotten.
After that Shannon spent almost the entire night on the dance floor. She danced with Eva and Kyle and all the girls from the hospital. While she and Eva moved across the dance floor, oblivious to the stares that followed them, Shannon glanced up through the smoky darkness at one point to see Kyle, off in a corner near the bar.
With him, next to him, there was a boy; dark, young and pretty. This must be Kyle's boyfriend. He and Kyle were laughing into each other's ears, their cheeks almost touching. As Shannon watched from across the crowded dance floor, the boy's palm snaked up Kyle's belly and stroked his chest; and then a second later, inevitably, Kyle leaned closer and nuzzled his neck before lifting his head and kissing the other kid's lips. A funny feeling washed over Shannon. She'd never seen two men kiss before. Part of her was shocked, she had to admit; this was Kyle here after all, and she knew he was gay but she never really thought about what that actually meant, in practice, until now. But just the same… as she watched their mouths play in a passionate and intense kiss, Shannon's face felt flushed; her nipples hardened under her red top, and between her legs she suddenly felt warm and just a little bit slippery.
"You're such a gorgeous dancer," a voice suddenly cut in on her. Shannon looked up blankly to see that a man had edged between herself and Eva. He seemed harmless enough - the clean-cut, frat boy type - and he was smiling at her as he matched her movements to the music. Impatiently Shannon stared past him to the corner where Kyle just was, but she couldn't see him anymore.
"What's your name?" the guy asked loudly over the music. Because she couldn't think of anything else to say, and she didn't want to be rude, Shannon told him, but she was more interested in looking for Kyle and his little friend, to see what they were doing.
"Shannon, that's a pretty name. Mine's Jeremy," the guy told her, and she nodded impatiently. She wasn't interested in talking.
The drinks, the music, the hot feeling of excitement she'd caught from her glimpse of Kyle and his friend, all flooded over her and she lost herself in the motion of the dance floor. The deep throbbing beat of the dance music was sexual in its intensity. With so many people all moving together in a primal rhythm, it was like one big group fuck. Shannon closed her eyes while her hips moved, brushing against a stranger from behind, pressed to the frat boy facing her while his hands moved her down her rib cage, over her hips and slid around to gently put his hands on her ass; all the while she thought about Kyle and the other boy making out, and her pussy began to throb in a natural rhythm with the beat of the music. Sweat mixed with her juices and made her panties damp.
"There you are, sweetie. I've been looking all over for you."
A strong hand gently took hers and Shannon opened her eyes and smiled somewhat dreamily at Kyle. He was soooo cute. Meanwhile, he was giving her handsy dance partner a dirty look as he led her off the dance floor.
"Are you having a good time, baby?" he asked her as they stopped at the bar, where he bought Shannon another drink.
"Oh, yes," she sighed, leaning against him. He felt so nice.
"Come on, I want you to meet someone."