My thanks to Harry R for helping to edit this beast into some semblance of readability.
I guess that you could say that my world started on that slow downhill slide into a shit pile while I was waiting out the airline rescheduling in Milwaukee. They had me grounded overnight because of a maintenance problem.
My friend, Wick, and I were sharing a drink at the Doubletree when this little detour along my idealized vision of the so-called highway of life came about.
I travel quite a bit in my work. It was on one of those work trips that I ran into a friend and work associate at Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport. William C. "Wick" Pettigrew was also traveling for work. He, however, was in town for an appointment here the next day, while I was simply stuck.
"Hey, Grady; long time, no see Bud," said my friend as we met up at baggage claim.
"You mean like all the way back to last Thursday?" I replied with one raised eyebrow, cognizant that this was Tuesday; only five days following the last time we had spoken over the cubicle walls back in Cary, NC.
"A lifetime to a drinking man!" Wick responded without even pausing to blink before giving his reply.
Wick, one of my best friends and classmates from college, and an old Kappa Alpha brother of mine at NC State, works in the same division that I do at Odyssey Corporation, an engineering process consulting company operating out of the town of Cary. Thus, we share cubicle space with four other engineers at the home office and we cross paths occasionally whenever we travel.
I'm happily married and have settled down just a bit from my rowdy days in college. Wick wasn't married, and didn't seem to have any serious relationships going on with any of the several fine-looking women that he was known to date.
"Speaking of which," Wick continued, "there's a fine bar at the hotel where I'm staying tonight. I figured I'd head over and settle in, then maybe wander down to said bar and see if I could work out some way that I might end up matching pee holes with a lounge lizard before the night is over."
I just chuckled and shook my head.
"Where are you staying?" I asked him. I knew that Wick was probably familiar with the nicer places throughout the Midwest, since this was his territory. Mine was in the Northwest, and I was only here in Milwaukee because of the vagaries of airline routing from Spokane all the way back east; or, "out east," as the native West Coast folks say.
"Doubletree, My Man," Wick answered, "Best rooms, best bar, best looking women; well ... best of everything."
I hurriedly got onto the Hilton mobile web page via my Smartphone to attempt to make a reservation where my friend was staying. I was relieved to be able to get a room at the same hotel. It also didn't hurt that I was getting mega Hilton Honors points for staying at the place.
Wick and I grabbed a cab together and were able to get through town to our destination without much difficulty. We had reservations at the Doubletree Hotel Downtown; just a few blocks from Lake Michigan and nearer to the airport than the one in Brookfield.
We were drinking together once again in the bar downstairs an hour later and, right from the start of our conversation, Wick was offering to set me up for the night.
"You know," Wick said with his confident grin, "I could match you up with just the right lady for tonight. And possibly even for the next day or two, if you'd like."
I just glanced over the rim of the glass that held the drink that I was sipping. I could see past his grin and tell that he was really serious.
"Come on, Wick," I answered, "You know that I would never stray on Laurel. After all, why should I settle for hamburger on the road, when I have steak at home?"
"Ah," Wick said with an exaggerated nod of his head, "Spoken like a truly loyal husband; or maybe one who has been thoroughly domesticated and housebroken." He did not say it this time, but I'd often heard him refer to the other married members of our office crew as being pussy-whipped.
"Well," I said, "Consider me as unashamedly representing all of those cases. But don't let me hold you up if you are in the hunt tonight. Go ahead and enjoy yourself."
"Thanks, Bud," Wick answered. "I think I will. Maybe I can find me a woman with sufficient oral talent that she could suck a golf ball through a garden hose."
Wick got out his Smartphone and hit one of the icons from within the 'app drawer.' I watched him tap the screen a couple of times, and then noticed a pop-up screen.
"You really are a pussy hound; aren't you?" I asked softly as he manipulated the icons on his phone's screen.
"You'd bettuh believe it, Ma Man!" he drawled as he continued to work.
I was suddenly struck by an idle thought. I wondered just how Wick could be arranging something as complicated ... or as simple ... as getting laid on such short notice by manipulating his Smartphone.
"Mm-hmm. This one is nice ... she's local ... she's divorced ... supposedly ... and she's available ... her preferences are a pretty high match with mine ... and ... the price is right," I heard Wick mumble to himself. Then he nodded to himself, tapped the screen closed, and put his phone away and picked up his glass to take a swig.
"That's it?" I asked with no small amount of surprise in the inflection of my voice. "No trolling a bar full of women? No targeting a prospect? No corny pick-up lines or dancing a couple of numbers with a few of them to feel them out? No paying three times the normal cost for watered-down drinks? Or lying about the size of your cock and the number of times in a night that you can get it up?"
By this time, Wick was holding up his hand in a 'stop' motion and was chuckling to himself at my display of apparent disbelief.
"Dude," admonished my friend, "you simply HAVE to enter the twenty-first century. There's an app for everything these days; even for pussy." Pausing for a second, Wick then went on, "And women can even search for and find some suitable cock the same way."
Then Wick pretended to furrow his eyebrows in a frown, but his lips were still carrying the vestiges of a grin. "You mean to tell me that fine-looking foxy geek of a wife of yours hasn't convinced you yet that you can arrange for almost anything on a computer or a Smartphone these days?"
I just shrugged and grinned back at my longtime friend. I did not get a chance to respond to his question by acknowledging that Laurel was indeed always clueing me in on the newest developments in technology and mobile applications. After all, that was her specialty in the career field in which she worked.
Wick's phone rang, using a ring tone song that offered the instrumental opening measures to the Joe Cocker song, 'You Can Keep Your Hat On.' He turned away briefly to speak into it. After what seemed to be only about twenty seconds of low-volume negotiation, Wick turned back in my direction, as he finished his phone conversation.
"Lookin' forward to it, Sugar. Caih-ful uh them ah-see roads on the way ovuh; ya hyeah? Mm-hmm; bye naya," Wick said, over-emphasizing his North Carolina down-home drawl a bit more than I thought was necessary. Then he pocketed his phone, finished his drink, and signaled for another for each of us.
"Well, it looks like I'm all set," said Wick. "Tell me, Grady. Are you sure you don't want me to set you up? I mean, what are brothers for if not to have each other's back?"
Wick was speaking as a fraternity brother. I knew, and I truly appreciated his sentiments, but what he had said reminded me at that moment of my own biological brother, Mike.
My name is Grady ... Grady Stone. My brother, Mike Stone, is two years older that I am. We got along reasonably well while we were growing up in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Except for the two years when we attended Seventy-First High School together, where he did not want to have his style cramped by the presence of his uncool "Little Brother."
Mike played football in high school, while I ran cross country. Thus, we did not hang with the same crowd. That allowed us to get along better than if I had simply tried to hang around Mike as sort of his 'Mini-Me'.
Dad, who had served with the Fires Brigade of the Eighty-Second Airborne Division (what I later learned that the Cold War Soldiers in the old days would have called the Division Artillery), had been killed in Iraq in a non-combat-related vehicle accident. Mike had been fourteen when we got the word of Dad's death, and I was twelve. The news hit us all pretty hard; Mom most of all.
Mom had stayed in Fayetteville after Dad died and the grieving was over, even though her extended family was from Sylva, over in the western part of North Carolina. She had a good job with a prominent real estate firm and was in a position to go higher in the company.
Mom had waited until Mike and I were in college before she started dating again. She was and still is a very attractive woman, and she'd found she had no problem still attracting men. But, she had been very particular, and it had been a while before she finally settled into a regular relationship with a really nice guy named Miles Lanier, a financially-very-well-off widower.
Despite Mike's and my reservations about someone trying to take Dad's place, when Mom finally introduced Miles to Mike and me, we all managed to hit it off pretty well. Mike and I had both reached sufficient age and maturity by then to realize that Mom deserved to find happiness again; so we supported her in her relationship. And, although neither Mom nor Miles has given any indications over the past few years of wanting to turn the connection into a formal one by marrying, that relationship is still going strong,
Dad had left enough commercial life insurance and investments, over and above the Service Members Group Life Insurance (SGLI) provided by the Army, to more than pay for college for Mike and me. Mike had chosen to go to Duke, over in Durham.
Mike had not been recruited by any colleges for his football skills. He'd played in high school mostly for fun and prestige; not with the idea of setting his sights at playing on Sundays as an adult.
Mike was very disciplined academically and majored in business, with a focus in marketing. He went on to graduate well up in the ranks of his class and found work at the marketing department of XLT, an emerging software company based in Cary, North Carolina. Cary, by the way, is adjacent to Raleigh on the west side of the capital city, located in an area of the state that is referred to locally and regionally as the 'Research Triangle.'
Mike's employer, XLT, had only been around about ten years when he went to work for them. They were an up-and-coming tech firm specializing in mobile applications for small devices such as tablets and Smartphones.
Even though we'd attended competing colleges, Mike and I still remained close. He used to tease me about how the Wolfpack would never see sports glory again and brag about the Duke basketball program and all their National Championships under Coach K. I would simply rag on him about how the Pack could almost always dominate the 'Dookies, ' as I referred to his Blue Devils, on the football field.
Yes, I loved my brother Mike very much. And he reciprocated.
Not long after Mike had signed on at XLT, he met Marilee Redmond at a company function. Marilee was the date of one of Mike's co-workers that particular evening; but, at the time, they weren't in any type of relationship. Mike asked Marilee out later that week; they'd fallen in love within a few months, and were married right about the time that I was set to become a rising senior at NC State, majoring in Industrial and Systems Engineering.
I did not have a lot of interaction with Marilee and her family before the wedding. I did hear from Mike, during the engagement period, about how Marilee's family was very prominent in industry and politics in and around Winston-Salem.
As young and inexperienced as I was at the time, I could still see the potential for differences in perspective between a girl raised in the high society of a reasonably major city like Winston-Salem and a boy raised as the son of a slain soldier in Fayetteville. I had to hand it to them, though. They seemed to hit it off really well, and I could see where Mike was deeply enthralled by Marilee. She was a babe-and-a-half; and very easygoing.
Marilee graduated from Wake Forest University, right there in her home town, with a degree in Business and Enterprise Management. Although she was not as book smart as some others, Marilee's own distinctive communication style and outgoing personality won people over easily. Marilee had been hired right out of Wake Forest by an insurance company with offices in Raleigh.
It also didn't hurt that Marilee was easy on the eyes. Did I say easy on the eyes? Try jaw-dropping gorgeous. Marilee's overly friendly nature could be, and often was, easily misread to be flirtatious when she may not have intended to be that way. Mike had commented to me on more than one occasion that he'd had to wedge himself in between Marilee and some guy misinterpreting Marilee's vibe and trying to hit on her in social situations. Thus, Marilee's personality made her very approachable by the usual office pussy-hounds.
And Marilee's beauty ran in the family as well. That's why I was so easily captivated the first time that I laid eyes on her sister, Laurel Redmond, during the preparations leading up to Mike and Marilee's wedding. While not nearly as outgoing in her personality as her sister, Laurel was, nonetheless, babe-o-licious in the looks department; easily matching Marilee in physical beauty.
My reverie was interrupted by the noise of the Doubletree hotel's bartender clanking a crate of bar glasses that he'd pulled from beneath his back counter and placed heavily on the top surface.
"Believe me, Wick, Old Buddy," I answered my friend, "I really do realize that you have my back; just as a true brother would."
I took a sip of my drink, grinned at my fraternity brother, and said, "But I've been off the market for that kind of action ever since I hooked up with and married Laurel."
As I said before, it was Mike and Marilee's wedding where I met Marilee's sister, Laurel, and it was all over for me after that. I was thoroughly and terminally smitten.
Throughout the rehearsals, wedding, and the reception, I simply could not get my heart rate to slow down from the first moment that I'd laid eyes on Laurel. Of course, she was only aware of me as part of the wedding party for my brother's participation in what her family referred to as her "sister's wedding."
I recognized also, right from the start, that Laurel and her older sister, only separated by one year in age, were very close in many other ways. They looked very much alike, and affected the same mannerisms and word choices in their conversations.
There were differences as well. As the old saying goes, Marilee 'never met someone she didn't know, ' while Laurel was more reserved in her interactions with people.
The Redmond family was very well known for closing ranks in support of family members. Many a politician, businessman, or reporter over the past four generations of Winston-Salem's history had reportedly learned the hard way the consequences of crossing the Redmonds or underestimating the influence of the family's money and influence. Their family solidarity was legendary.
Thus, at first, Laurel was not overly receptive to my obvious infatuation. It was only after I was able to talk to her more than a few times later during the reception that she began to show any interest in me.
In our discussions, I discovered that Laurel's love for and devotion to her sister easily matched the relationship Mike and I shared as brothers. This was verified to me as we walked around outside after the reception. Laurel, feeling the effects of the drinks she'd consumed, opened up a bit to me with some anecdotal information about her relationship with her sister.
While Laurel was somewhat reserved in her interactions with people, she was not entirely oblivious to what was going on around her. She'd realized since she had turned fourteen that she and Marilee were both women who men would consider to be babes; and, thus, they realized that they were magnets for the local players.
Laurel also related to me that, as sisters, they'd had been close enough to know to watch out for each other, even going so far as to lie for each other on occasion; or at least cover for each other's actions. Thus, they acted in the same manner Mike and I had in looking out for each other as brothers.
For example, Laurel softly let slip at one point that she'd hauled Marilee out of her bachelorette party when things had gotten to the point of a possible sexual encounter with one of the male strippers Marilee's sorority sisters had hired. Thankfully, Laurel had realized what was happening and Marilee had finally cooperated with her sister in getting herself out of there before her future happiness with Mike could be ruined before it even started.
It turned out that Laurel was also attending NC State; and she and I were both rising seniors. Naturally, this provided more fuel to the fire of in-state school rivalries within our joined families, now adding Marilee's Wake Forest Demon Deacons to the mix of jokes about the Mike's Duke Blue Devils and Laurel's and my NC State Wolfpack. Thankfully, the sports rivalries among schools in North Carolina have always been reasonably friendly; not bloody, like the ones in the Southeast Conference farther south have been at times.
As I gazed out the window of the Doubletree bar, I noted that the snow flurries that had started earlier had stopped. I knew that, if the snow threatened to deepen on the streets of Milwaukee, the plows would make quick work of it. Milwaukee was always well prepared for winter weather.
While Wick and I waited for the fresh drinks to arrive, Wick looked up with a smile and responded to my earlier declaration. "Well, you may be off the market, Bud. But I'm not ready to settle down yet. And, since that status allows me a great degree of freedom, I choose to exercise said freedom. So, I am set for companionship for the night."
I commented, "Yeah, and I notice that it only took you a few minutes to set that up with just a bit of tapping your finger on your phone screen, followed by about a two-minute follow-up phone call." I will admit that I was a bit curious as to how he could be set up with a sex partner for the evening so quickly and easily.
He nodded and then raised his chin, indicating that I should look behind me. As I turned, I saw a couple of women heading through the lobby toward the door leading to the Doubletree's heated indoor pool. Both women were attractive and they had on short robes covering them and the swimsuits they obviously wore underneath.
"Yeah," said Wick, as we watched the two ladies move through the lobby, "it was easy to set up my night with a simple phone call. But, even without that advantage, I don't believe it would have taken me too much time or effort maybe to talk one of those two honeys out of her swimsuit."
I could not help but notice that the ladies in question were nice-looking; late twenties or early thirties, probably professional women on a business treadmill similar to those on which Wick and I exercised our work lives daily. I also could not help but smile at the warm thought transference that the image of nice-looking women swimming in the hotel's pool in skimpy bathing suits brought to mind about my wife, Laurel.
I had been doubly thrilled when I had discovered that Laurel was also at NC State, majoring in Computer Science. I was majoring in Industrial and Systems Engineering at State. We were surprised that we did not recognize one another from having been around campus together, but we realized that it was more than likely that we had just hung around with different crowds up to this point, and the university population was not a small one, after all.
As for extra-curricular activities, I still ran almost daily, went to classes, and hung around the Kappa Alpha fraternity house. Laurel hung with the geeks and the Computer Science lab crowd.
Laurel was dedicated to getting good grades as a ticket to a good job after graduating. I had learned that Laurel had established high personal and professional goals for her life; striving to make her way in the world through honest work instead of relying on her abundance of good looks and family connections. This was regardless of the fact that she had a trust fund behind her that guaranteed that she would never really HAVE to work a day in her life.
Laurel had swum competitively in high school for two years, but now she swam to stay in shape and to help her detox from all the mental focus required by her studies.
I am a fun-loving guy, while Laurel has been career-focused from the first time we had met. When we were dating later, I thought a couple of times that her single-focus personality might cause us some difficulties. But her loving attitude when we were alone together after we had gotten to know each other intimately overcame those personality differences.
Laurel often appeared to be driven by whatever task was in front of her at times. During our time together at NC State, her school work often interrupted plans that I had made for us. I was annoyed by this at times, as she missed more of the events at the fraternity house with me than she attended.
Actually, I guess that you could say that, in some ways, Laurel and I were both geeks of a sort. She was much more so, however. As a Computer Science major, she loved software development and software application architecture. No one in the industry referred to them as "programmers" anymore; they were "software developers." And they no longer referred to development progress in term of completed "lines of code," since the term du jour now is completed "object modules." As it turned out, I could relate to Laurel's "geekiness" quite well, since I could at least follow her in conversation about what she did as a software architect and developer.
I'd needed to gain some rudimentary software development skills before I met Laurel, back when I was still a sophomore; that was in order to computerize some of the techniques involving statistics and operations research that I had to study later during my junior year. Thus, I could at least follow along with the conversations that Laurel would have with her fellow Computer Science study partners when I sat with them. Those minor skills in software development that I had attained, along with a working knowledge of the lingo, also looked good enough on my résumé to get me hired after graduation by Odyssey Corporation.
In a favorable twist of Fate, Laurel was on schedule to graduate at the same time as me. We'd started dating during the first semester of our senior year. By the end of the Christmas Break, I had won her over.
We took that Christmas Break together at the Timberline ski resort in West Virginia. I imagine, overall, that we spent more time in bed than on the slopes. It was there where I discovered that, to my great delight, this reserved geeky girl to whom I was so attracted could actually be a tigress in bed. We decided by mutual agreement, beginning that first night at the resort, to be exclusive from that point forward.
It was on the second night of our stay at Timberline that I began to learn a bit more about Laurel's family and her background. And it seemed to begin with an odd word choice on Laurel's part.
"Yeah, I almost got creamed," Laurel said, as I massaged her magnificent body after supper. She was lying naked on her stomach. Her head was turned my way and supported by a folded towel. She watched me through cat-like, slitted eyes while I rubbed her body tenderly with some scented oil that she had brought along for the trip.
We'd both had a good time skiing together most of the day, only pausing once or twice for breaks in the morning. We'd lunched at the Timbers Inn, followed by an afternoon of skiing; mostly together, but some of the time separately.
Laurel and I were both skilled enough to handle the blue square slopes and the Salamander. At two miles in length, the Salamander is the longest ski trail in the South – yes, some folks even consider West By-God Virginia as part of the South. Laurel had opted in the late afternoon to stick with the Salamander, while I tried my hand at one of the less fearful black diamond slopes. It turned out to be a short one that was actually a continuation of a long blue square slope.
While I'd survived my attempt of the Pearly Glades slope, only falling once on the icy texture of the much-used surface and not incurring any injury, Laurel almost encountered disaster higher up on the mountain.
Some yahoo on a snowboard had rudely cut across the path of a family skiing near where Laurel had paused to take a picture of the breathtaking Canaan Valley; a truly magnificent vista spread out before her. The mom of the family, obviously not a very good skier had overcompensated a bit as she'd tried to steer away from the asshole. She'd ended up plowing right into Laurel, who'd been oblivious to the approaching impact.
"I guess," Laurel continued, "that it might have actually caused serious injury to both of us if I had seen her coming and tensed up."
I agreed and said, "Yeah, instead, you just seem to have been bruised a bit where she hit you ... right ... there." At that, I patted her left butt cheek; a lovely butt cheek it was; even with the vivid discoloration from the bruise that Laurel sustained. "Was the lady okay?" I asked.
"Yeah, she apologized," Laurel replied, "And then I saw and heard her husband yelling obscenities at the retreating boarder. The two kids were laughing and shouting about his putting the rest of his monthly salary in the family swear jar."
Here, she chuckled once before continuing, "When I heard those newlies talking about a swear jar, I couldn't help but laugh; we had one of those at the house while Marilee and I were growing up."
"'Newlies'?" I asked upon hearing the unfamiliar word.
"Yeah," Laurel responded. "It's a term that my grandfather on my mother's side used. He would tell us stories about the textile mill where he was a foreman at the time. That was before he moved up into management; and then, years later, eventually became the company CEO.
"Anyway, it was just after the 'Great Depression' and the mill was beginning to expand once more and was hiring on more men. When Grandpa described new workers in his stories, he called them 'newlies' instead of 'rookies.' It was just one of his idiosyncrasies, I guess."
I nodded in understanding.
"Anyway," Laurel continued, "that's why, since none of this family on the Salamander today appeared to be overly steady or experienced on skis, I referred to them as 'newlies.' It's just a term that I heard and used often while growing up."
This was the first of several conversations that we had about our respective families that week. Even though the sex that accompanied those conversations was extremely rewarding, I have to say that it was while simply talking to Laurel that I came to realize by day three of our time together that I actually loved her. I held off on voicing that sentiment right away.
It was two days later when Laurel, already awake and evidently watching my face, grinned at me with her megawatt smile as I slowly emerged into the land of wakefulness, and said, "Good morning, Grady, my Love."
That statement shook the sleepiness out of me quickly. "My Love?" I asked with my eyebrows raised and a tentative smile.
"Yes, Grady," sighed Laurel as she lay her head on my chest, "My Love."
From that point onward, we knew that not only were we exclusive; but, things were probably going remain that way for the rest of our lives.
It was during Spring Break, several months after our ski trip, when we committed formally to marrying and to spending the rest of our lives together. That summer after graduation, we pleased both families, especially her sister who was married to my brother, by tying the knot in the same church where Marilee and Mike had wed just the year prior. My mom teased all four of us that the children coming from both marriages would be double-first-cousins.
At my wedding, my brother, Mike, stood up with me as my best man. Wick Pettigrew also stood with me. Marilee, Laurel's sister and my sister-in-law, served as matron of honor. One of Laurel's childhood friends, a girl named Lydia, was her only other bridesmaid.
Laurel's insistence on neither of us having a bachelor or bachelorette party before the wedding had been a bit of a surprise to me. I asked her why, but she would only say that she had seen and heard too many stories about couples getting dragged into activities that either approached or crossed the line into unfaithful sexual activities. She had reminded me again, privately, of what had almost happened at Marilee's bachelorette party and how it had almost caused a disaster.
My frat brothers were a bit disappointed. They'd wanted to give me a rousing send-off into the world of matrimony. I found out later that Marilee had also been a tad disappointed; she had been looking to having a good party for Laurel, and perhaps for herself, even though she was apparently happily married and loyal to my brother.
But I acceded to Laurel's wishes, opting instead for a nice intimate dinner out with Laurel, Mike, Marilee, Wick, Lydia, and me at the same restaurant that had been the habitué of the Redmond family since the sister's parent's marriage. We ate a wonderful meal, told stories on each other, some true, most untrue, and danced afterward. It had actually been a great time; with the added benefit of no hangover and with our memories of the night before remaining intact, without a smidgen of guilt the next day, and all the days thereafter.
While Laurel and I had settled into married life together with similar goals and aspirations, we continued to approach the day-to-day aspects of life together differently. I grasped new concepts pretty easily; especially engineering concepts. I felt no need to hit the books all the time. Laurel, however, seemed to be studying all the time; when she wasn't in computer lab, she was hitting the books or the library's online research network. She needed to research a concept thoroughly, consult with others, and study it and think it to pieces before she would admit to mastering it. She carried this habit over into her professional efforts at work as well.
Fortunately for our situation concerning where to live after graduation, Laurel was hired by the same company for which my brother, Mike, was employed – XLT Software in Cary – and the same town as my new employer, Odyssey. The stars just seemed to align well for us after we graduated and were married, allowing us all to live and work in an area relatively close to where we had gone to school and near enough to both our extended families.
Laurel and I found a nice starter home within a couple of miles of Mike and Marilee's. With the help of a down payment from Laurel's parents as a wedding present, we were set.
My high school cross country experiences had permanently imprinted on me a love for running in the great outdoors; especially in the woods, and there were several natural running trails in and around Cary. While Laurel still loved to swim, she was not into outdoor sports, preferring to spend her time at her development console, which was very much indoors.
However, Laurel did take breaks from her work once in a while, swimming laps to relieve the strain; and allowing the soothing feel of the water to relax her brain and allow her to come to a solution for a particular module for which she might be encountering a roadblock. After a lengthy swim, she'd reach that 'A-Ha' moment. A solution presented itself, and her stroke would pick up. She'd continue for at least another ten laps before emerging from the pool, stripping off her swimsuit – when she bothered to choose to wear one – quickly rinsing the chlorine off, and resuming her task at her development console.
Since, after an initial one-year period of working on site in the office, Laurel had been allowed to work from home via telecommuting, it was not unusual for me to come home and find her working away at her computer, naked as a jaybird after a swim.
Laurel would be pounding away at her computer, connected with her office network via virtual private network, oblivious to the world around her, and having forgotten that she had neglected to dress after her quick rinse after climbing from the pool. That elusive software solution she had been seeking was emerging in her brain and she was not going to let the moment slip away for her to document it because of something as silly as taking just a moment to put on clothes.
I often wondered just how the UPS guy would react if he were to ring the bell to obtain her signature and she were to run to the door just as she was.
Whenever I came home and found her working away in the altogether, I'd grab a beer, slip in her office quietly, and simply sit and watch her beautiful naked body in its ergonomic task chair. I'd sit enthralled; enjoying the wonderful bounce of Laurel's B-Cup tits as she typed or maneuvered the mouse.
Eventually, Laurel would reach a transition point, either from validating the creation of an appropriate function or procedure, or from the development of a software interface that merged the best characteristics of two or more disparate software object types, classes, or software modules. She would hold her clenched fists high in the air, in a 'Rocky' move, and spin her task chair; twirling her luscious naked body around with her tits held high by her overhead reach.
After the second or third spin, when she had finally opened her eyes and realized that I was there watching ... well, ogling, actually ... Laurel would zero in on the tent that I would be sporting in my pants. She'd explode out of her chair and dive into my waiting arms.
Depending on our relative levels of gastric need, we would either plunge right into satisfying the other hunger ... that of our libidos ... or we would postpone that effort until after supper. Needless to say, I would insist that Laurel and I prepare supper together without her having to resort to anything as mundane as ... oh ... putting on clothes. Yes, life was good.
And then it wasn't.
My curiosity started to get the better of me as Wick and I talked and had our drinks at the Doubletree bar while we waited for his lady for this evening to show up.
"Hey, Wick," I began tentatively, "Can you show me that app you're using to line up your dates? I gotta tell you that I am finding it to be a little bit unbelievable as to how easy it was for you to arrange it all."
"Sure, Bud," Wick answered, reaching for his Smartphone. I noticed as he held it up in front of me that it was one of the new Samsung models. "Now, before I was allowed to get the app on my phone, I had to be referred to the very private and exclusive service behind it."
I raised my eyebrows as Wick nodded and continued. "Yeah, it is a referral system that gets you started; sort of like Pledge time back in Kappa Alpha, remember?. Then, you fill out your profile and they check that you aren't registered anywhere as a sex offender or a felon, and that you have a legitimate online payment system available.
"Don't ask me how they do all of that," Wick continued, "'cause I just don't know. Then the site will wirelessly download the app to your mobile device via your cellular service, regardless of whether it's your Smartphone or your tablet or even both; usually within a week of when you complete your profile."
"What do you call this mysterious service?" I asked.
"They call it 'Unter, '" Wick answered, "sort of like the 'Uber' rideshare app."
I suddenly had a strange tingling feeling begin to creep up my spine as I recognized a familiar metaphor in the wording of what Wick had just told me.
"'Unter?'" I asked.
"Yeah, I guess the company that runs this service wanted to capitalize on the similarities of being behind free-market service providers and customers, like those Uber drivers and users," Wick said. "So, they used the German term for it, just like the Uber folks."
Then, Wick got a cagey look on his face and said, "You know, Grady, if you wanted to ... say ... have a trial run at this ... uh ... service; or simply satisfy your curiosity as to how it runs ... you know ... without ... well, you don't actually have to solicit some woman's services or even put yourself out there for some horny babe looking for cock..." I hesitated for about three seconds before I grinned at him and indicated for him to go ahead with the rest of his explanation.
"Okay; you do know, however, that you need to be discreet about all of this; right?" Wick asked me.
"Wick, believe me. I can be discreet. Do I need to remind you that I have never once revealed the identity of the ne'er-do-well who 'Rolled' the trees in front of the Sigma Chi house with TP during our Pledge semester?" I asked him. He blushed a bit and grinned, being reminded and assured now that I could actually keep my mouth shut when necessary.
Wick continued with what he had been telling me, describing this unique service to which he belonged. As his revelations continued, I now had my inner alarm bells of familiarity ringing like crazy.
I started to say something to Wick about my familiarity with the type of thing that he was describing, but I hesitated for some reason and decided to let him continue. While he spoke, I could not help but remember a conversation that I'd had with Laurel just about a year earlier.
Laurel came home very excited one day to inform me that she'd been selected to be on the XLT development team for a new mobile app framework. This was to be a basis for a new web services engine that combined the best features of software-based, web-driven retail sales, online marketing, and social networking.
Laurel informed me that this new app framework would work well on a desktop, laptop, netbook, or tablet computer; but it would really shine when used with a Smartphone, such as an Android or iPhone, and it would synch almost immediately among any or all of those types of computing devices if a person used any or all of them in combination.
I was happy for Laurel at the time and I congratulated her for her selection to be part of such a cutting edge development team. We went out to Red Lobster that evening to celebrate.