Friends With Benefits
Caution: This Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Consensual, Romantic, Fiction, Workplace, Slow,
Desc: Sex Story: Chapter 1 - A character-driven romance: Martin, a 48-year-old widower and Irene, 34 and single are assigned to work together on an academic research project. Their relationship, initially frosty but professional, warms to the point that Irene suggests they become friends-with-benefits, to enjoy no-strings sex. The arrangement works well for both, although Martin's feelings toward her begin to deepen. Then, an old flame of hers enters the picture, and Martin faces the prospect of losing her.
Martin sat behind his desk. Sitting in a chair was a young man with longish hair and a goatee. Into his office stepped a woman, tall and slender wearing a thick knit turtleneck sweater and an ankle-length granny skirt. Her complexion was the olive hue typical of Mediterranean heritage. Her face was in the shape of a long oval with a strong nose and prominent chin. She had a high and broad forehead and dark brown eyes that featured a hint of epicanthic fold in the lids. Her raven hair was pulled back in a tight bun and she wore bronzed-colored wire-framed glasses. The sleeves of her turtleneck were pushed up to her elbows, and a prominent vein in the back of her hand continued up her forearm. “Doctor Lang,” she said to Martin, “Margot said you wanted to see me.”
“Yes, Doctor Wagner,” Martin replied. “I left a note in your pigeonhole.”
“You should’ve set up an appointment on my calendar,” she replied. “I don’t check my pigeon-hole too often.”
“Doctor Wagner, this is Geoff Valdez. He’s my graduate student.”
“Pleased to meet you, Doctor Wagner,” Geoff said.
“Nice meeting you, too. My office is across the hall and down a few doors -- right past the frontier between the Chem and Biology departments. I’ll show you how to negotiate the barbed wire without getting cut. You may safely ignore any rumors of machine-gun nests...”
“Geoff has been working on a project for me,” Martin interrupted.
“Yes,” Geoff replied. “We have isolated a compound from a fungus collected from the rain forest in South America. Based on its use by the native tribesmen we believe it has potential as a new antibiotic.”
“Is this one that you collected, Doctor Lang?” she asked.
“It’s one that Ned Sommerfield collected prior to his departure,” Martin replied. Dean Barnes told me that you have a new graduate student who’s looking for a project.”
“That’s right -- Shawna starts next term here.”
“We’re looking for someone who can perform sensitivity and spectrum tests against various pathogens. Geoff here has been isolating and characterizing the molecule.”
“So we can synthesize it?” she asked.
“Right now, all we can do is to extract and purify it,” Martin replied. “We have one of Doctor Zorman’s students working on how to culture the fungus so we can obtain sufficient quantities for testing. Given the current rise of MRSA infections and other resistant species, a new antibiotic could have important ramifications.”
“We’re characterizing the molecule,” Geoff added, “so that we’ll be able to patent it.”
“That’s right,” Martin said. “We can’t find this molecule described in the literature. So far as we can tell, it’s unknown to science. Everyone participating on this project would be named in the patent application and the publication.”
“I’ve never been involved in a patent,” Dr Wagner replied. “This is exciting!”
“It’s also important to disseminate information about this strictly on a need-to-know basis. At least until...”
“Until the patent application,” Dr Wagner interjected.
“ ... yes, or until we decide not to pursue it. We’ll be having regular status meetings once the testing is underway.” Martin shifted his gaze between the two visitors in his office. “If there’s nothing else ... welcome to the team, Doctor Wagner.”
Geoff packed a legal pad into a courier case and headed out of the office. Martin looked up at the woman. “Is there something else, Doctor Wagner?”
“Do you think,” she said, “that you and I can drop this Doctor Lang/Doctor Wagner formality? My name is Irene.”
“Would ... would you prefer to be called Martin or Marty?”
“Martin if you please.”
“I’m delighted to participate, Martin.” She stood with her hands behind her back surveying the books and artifacts in his office.
“Is there anything else, Irene?”
“Oh ... Maybe I could obtain a sample of this...” She lowered her voice. “ ... compound X. I’d like to do some scratch testing myself. Of course, I’ll let Shawna design the actual sensitivity and spectrum protocols.”
“You can find Geoff in my lab -- room 123 downstairs. Ask him for a sample.”
“I’ll do that. Thank you Doctor ... thank you, Martin.”
“Good day, Irene.” Martin turned to a stack of blue books and began grading them.
A chime sounded. Martin glanced at his desktop computer. A meeting invitation from Irene Wagner appeared in his inbox. He deleted it and resumed proof-reading a stack of pages. Turning over the last page he placed them into a manuscript box, removed his reading glasses and rubbed his eyes.
“Knock-knock,” came a woman’s voice. He looked up and saw Irene standing in the doorway. “Am I interrupting?”
“Come in. Have a seat.”
“Did you see my meeting invite?”
“You didn’t send a reply.”
“I deleted it.”
“I always delete meeting invites. If a meeting is important enough I’ll be there.”
“Do you have time to talk?”
“I have an hour before my next class. What’s on your mind, Irene?”
“I was reading over your list of publications on the school’s website. I’m very impressed, Martin. I knew you sit in a tenured chair.”
“Yes, I’m occupying the one Ned Sommerfield vacated three years ago.”
“I didn’t realize you had so many patents -- six I think it said.”
“Six and one in preparation ... besides our compound X. My patent portfolio is what gained me this professorship.”
“And so many publications. You’ve written a textbook on ethnobotany. I thought you were just a chemist and then I saw you have PhDs in both botany AND organic chemistry!”
“And all the field work you’ve done in the rain forest...”
“I don’t travel there anymore,” Martin replied. “I’m getting too old for that sort of thing. The school has a backlog of material to process.”
“Including this Compound X,” Irene added. “Well, I am honored to be invited into your project, Martin. I promise I won’t let you down.”
“If I had an inkling you were likely to, Irene, I wouldn’t have agreed to Dean Barnes’s suggestion to include you. I reviewed your accomplishments, also. You appear to be a very competent microbiologist.” He opened a folder on his desk. “Is this why you wanted to meet with me? To discuss our respective resumes?”
“No. I have news -- an important development. Geoff provided me with a sample of Compound X. I ran some preliminary tests. It DOES behave like an antibiotic, Martin.”
“You’ve merely confirmed what we’ve suspected all along. An important development would’ve been if it did NOT behave like one.” Martin took a sheet from the folder and began scanning it.
“What’s really important is its potency,” she continued. “It seems to be effective at concentrations in the parts-per-million range.”
He looked up at her. “Parts-per-million you say?”
“That IS an important development. You should’ve said that up front.”
“I have the petri dishes in my lab if you’d like to see them.”
“I’ll take your word for it.”
“Of course,” Irene continued, “Shawna will do the quantitative work. I spoke to her on the phone yesterday and she is excited about this project.”
“She does know to keep it quiet.”
“Good. What organism were you testing against?”
“I was using a garden-variety staph bacterium,” Irene replied.
“Parts-per-million against staph.” He nodded. “You’re right. This is very encouraging.”
Irene broke into a grin. “Look at that. I was able to impress you after all.”
“This isn’t about one of us impressing the other,” Martin retorted. “Everyone is expected to deliver impressive work -- Geoff, Steve Zorman and his student ... and you and Shawna. We expect the very best of everyone.”
Some color formed in her cheeks. “Understood.”
“When one of us discovers something important, we need to share that information. Have you told Geoff?”
“Not yet. I will, though.”
“Is that all, Irene?”
“I’m curious how we discovered this fungus.”
“Well -- According to Ned’s notes, one of the tribe’s medicine man would seek out certain leaves to use as a poultice in the event of a cut or infection. Ned obtained samples and brought them back from one of his excursions there. They must’ve languished in the department’s collection for seven or eight years. Geoff was looking for a project and we discussed analyzing the leaves. It was Geoff who realized it wasn’t the plant but a fungal rust growing on it that contained the agent. Fortunately the spores were viable and we were able to culture it.”
“That is fascinating,” Irene replied. “I’m in awe.”
“We never know where we’ll find new therapeutic agents,” Martin added. “We just got lucky with this one.”
“Not just luck,” Irene replied.
Martin pulled his reading glasses down his nose and regarded her over them. “Anything else?”
“One more thing,” Irene said. “Margot mentioned a department Christmas party this afternoon.”
“Yes. The announcement flyers were in our pigeon holes. It’s held in the second-floor double recitation hall. You can’t miss it.”
“Why not send email announcements?” she asked. “Are you going?”
“We’re all expected to attend,” Martin answered, “if for no reason than to hear Dean Barnes’s annual pep talk. The party is for staff and graduate students -- undergraduates are not invited.”
“So, I’ll see you there.” She stood to leave.
“Irene -- a word of warning. The Chem department is responsible for the drinks. There’s always a bowl of eggnog...”
“Oh, I love eggnog!”
“It’s a tradition for them to spike it pretty heavily with lab alcohol.”
“Lab alcohol? Is that safe?”
“I said that was the tradition. These days I believe they use overproof rum.”
Martin stood nursing a cup of eggnog and watching as the crowd dwindled. Outside night had fallen but a heavy snow was reflecting the streetlamps in the parking lot, making it look brighter. A woman with her gray hair in a short bob approached him. “Doctor Lang...”
“What is it, Margot?”
She nodded toward Irene. “It looks like Doctor Wagner is...”
“A bit tipsy?”
“Yes and more than a bit.”
“I warned her about the eggnog.”
“Did you also warn her about the Jell-O shots?”
“She’s a big girl. She should watch out for herself.”
“With the weather and the roads and in her condition we don’t think she should be driving home. She lives in East Colton.”
“We? Who’s we?”
“Catherine and I.”
“What are you proposing? Do you want me to drive her to East Colton and back? My car’s not even here.”
“We were thinking something else.” Margot was joined by a rotund woman with a round face and dark hair who Martin recognized as Dean Barnes’s secretary.
“Your place is within walking distance,” Catherine said. “Maybe you could put her up for the night so she can sleep it off.”
“Why is it now my job to watch her?” Martin protested.
“She’s working on your project,” Catherine replied.
“So is Doctor Zorman.”
“He’s not here,” Margot remarked. “He left early -- right after Dean Barnes’s speech.”
“You’re single,” Catherine added. “Put her on your sofa. By morning the snow should stop and the roads will be plowed.”
“I do have a guest room,” he replied. “It goes against my better judgment, but all right.”
Martin approached Irene and could see she was unsteady on her feet. “Irene,” he said.
She turned toward him. “Oh, hi Martin.”
“The party’s over. Time to go home.”
“I’ll get my keys...” She opened her bag and began poking in it.
“The roads aren’t safe. My place is just down the hill. You can stay there. We’ll get your car in the morning.”
“I’m fine, I’m fine,” she replied. “Juss let me fine my keys...”
Martin glanced toward Margot. “I need some backup, here.”
Margot approached Irene. “Doctor Wagner -- the roads are very bad. It’s a long drive and you have had a bit to drink. You need to go home with Doctor Lang. You can spend the night as his guest, and get your car in the morning.”
“Okay okay okay don’ need get pushy ‘bout it.”
“I’ll go get my coat and case. Margot -- please watch her ‘til I get back.”
Martin returned carrying his briefcase. He held Irene’s coat and helped her into it. “Come on,” he said and led her outside the building. “It’s just down the hill.”
Irene took a step and slipped. Martin caught her and supported her. “You can’t even walk, how could you drive?”
“Iss slippery ... Whoa!” Irene again nearly lost her footing.
“Careful...” He supported her as they navigated the path down the hill from the Science Center.
By the time they reached the sidewalk she was a steadier on her feet. Martin approached his house and unlocked his front door. “Here we are.” Irene stepped inside. “I’ll take your coat.”
She slipped off her boots and walked, barefoot, into his living room. “This is a nice place,” she remarked.
“Thanks. It looks like that walk in the cold air cleared your head.”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Thanks for doing this. You’re right -- I really don’t relish the idea of driving in this.”
“It was Margot’s suggestion. She watches over us like an old mother hen.” He picked up a telephone handset. “Is there anyone you’d like to call -- let them know where you are?”
“No ... no. I’m here all by myself.” She approached a wall hung with artifacts. “What are these?”
“Souvenirs from my trips to South America. It’s been years since I last mounted an expedition there. I imagine the place has changed significantly.”
“What’s this?” She pointed to a long, slender object.
“It’s a blow gun.”
“Cool,” she exclaimed.
“This is what it shoots.” He retrieved a dart from a woven box.
“Is that a poison dart?”
“Normally these would be tipped with curare. These are not.”
“Do you have any with curare?”
“No -- they’re far too dangerous. One could kill a man.”
She regarded a wall of photographs. “These are the tribes you studied?”
“Yes. This is a shaman who took me under his wing.”
“Neat...” Irene approached a shelf with a row of bottles. “What are these?” “These are spirits from around the world. Whenever I visit a country I bring home a sample of the local liquor. Of course, since I’m not traveling as much as I once did, when these are gone I don’t know when I can re-stock.” He pointed. That is maotai, a Chinese spirit made from sorghum. This is cachaça, the national drink of Brazil. It’s made from sugar cane juice.”
“I see you have sake,” she remarked. “That’s about as exotic as I know.”
“This is brewed from barley. Here’s some Peruvian pisco and some Colombian aguardiente.”
“I’ve never had any of these.” She picked up the bottle of cachaça. “What’s it like? Can I try some?”
“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” he asked. “You did have your share of eggnog.”
She faced him and held her arms out. “That walk in the cold cleared my head. I’m fine.” She walked across his living room, putting her heel in front of her toes. “See? I can walk a straight line.”
“I don’t think you’re quite stone cold sober. I have some limes. I’ll make a couple of caipirinhas -- seeing as how neither of us are going anywhere.”
He cut up a lime, muddled it with sugar in a pair of glasses and cracked some ice cubes. Then he topped each one with cane liquor. “Careful,” he said handing one to her. “This is a strong drink -- like a mint julep.”
They clinked rims. “To compound X,” Irene said and sipped hers. “Interesting ... good. I like it. I think this would be nice on a hot summer day.”
“Or, any day along the equator,” he replied.
She sat on his sofa and sipped from her glass. Martin joined her. She lifted her face. “Mmm ... This is nice. Feels really good...” She drew in a breath and released it slowly. “You know -- you can be a half decent guy when you’re not being a prick.”
“I mean -- I couldn’t tell if there was something about me you didn’t like, the way you were treating me. I spoke to Geoff and he told me you’re like that to everyone. Mister... ‘scuze me, Doctor Ice Shell.”
“I believe in maintaining a certain collegiate decorum,” he replied, “an interpersonal detachment.”
“I don’t think it hurts to show a little warmth and humor to your students and peers.”
Irene drained her glass and wandered to his display of bottles. She picked up the one of maotai. “This is a neat bottle. What’s it like?”
“I can give you a taste ... a short one.” He opened the bottle and put a finger’s worth into a shot glass. “Here -- and I think you’d better quit with this.”
Irene sipped it. “Wow ... It has quite a finish ... it stays with you.”
“It is potent stuff,” he replied.
“I think I like this better,” Irene said and picked up the bottle of cane liquor. She opened it and topped up her glass to the rim.
“Hey -- be careful with that.”
She drank half the glass, headed for his wall of artifacts and took down the blowgun. “Martin!” she called.
“What?” He turned toward her. She lifted the device to her lips and blew. Martin ducked. “What the...”
Irene laughed. “It wasn’t loaded.”
“That’s not funny. Blow gun or firearm, you shouldn’t point it at anything you don’t intend to shoot.” She held it to her lips again. “Give me that!”
He lunged for her. Laughing, Irene jumped out of the way. She held the tube toward him and snatched it away as he reached for it. “Irene -- give me that.” He cornered her. Giggling, she relinquished the blowgun and he replaced it on his wall.
Irene drained her glass. She sat on his sofa, still giggling. Then she rested her elbow on her knee and held her head in her palm. “Oh...”
Martin looked at the nystagmus in her eyes. “Room spinning?” he asked.
“Yeah ... All of a sudden...”
“I think you have had enough,” he said. “Maybe you should lie down.”
“Maybe I should lie down,” she said.
“Come here.” He led her into the guest room. “You can flop here.” Irene fell onto the bed and lay on her side. She made soft moaning sounds. “Oh, God,” she moaned, “Oh, God ... feel awful...”
“Bathroom’s over here...” He regarded her as she lay. “Don’t close your eyes,” he advised. “Stare at something in the distance ... the door jamb or window frame. Stare at it ‘til the effects pass.”
“So dizzy...” She closed her eyes.
“Don’t close them -- it’ll only make it worse.”
“Mmmph.” She put her hand to her mouth.
“Irene ... bathroom ... run for it!” In a single motion she sat up and vomited. “Christ!” he muttered. “Not on the quilt.” He lunged for her, grabbed her upper arm and hustled her toward the bathroom. Irene began retching. “No, you don’t.” He reached the bathroom door. With one hand he flipped open the toilet and with the other pushed her toward it. Then he grasped her head and aimed her face toward the bowl.
Irene heaved again, spewing a long and strong stream into the toilet. Her knees began to buckle. Martin eased her to the floor and she knelt, her hands gripping the bowl.
“God damn it,” he muttered as he surveyed his guest room. He stripped the bed, carrying soiled sheets and pillow cases into his laundry room. With some spray cleaner and a paper towel he began treating the quilt. That will need to go to the cleaner’s, he thought. He looked at a stain on the mattress that had bled through the sheets.
He returned to his bathroom. Irene was half sitting and half lying on the floor, clutching the toilet bowl. “Are you done throwing up?” he asked.
“I thing so.”
He grabbed a couple of towels and carried them to his bedroom. After turning down the covers he lay them on the mattress. “You’re a mess,” he said on returning to the bathroom. “Come on -- we’ll get you cleaned up and into bed.”
Irene staggered into his room. He unfastened the waistband of her skirt and slid it off, folding it so the stain was inside. Then he lifted her turtleneck sweater from her and realized underneath she wore no bra. “Oh, murder,” he muttered and averted his gaze. “Lie down,” he said.
Irene eased herself into his bed and he pulled the covers over her. He could see her eyes shifting back and forth from her alcohol-induced vertigo. “My ears are ringing,” she whined.
“Lie like this,” he said and positioned her on her side with her face down to minimize the chance she would choke should she vomit again. He picked up a plastic wastebasket. “In case you need it,” he said and set it on the floor near the head of the bed.
He looked at the care label on her turtleneck -- it was acrylic and washable. He put detergent into his washing machine and loaded it with the sheets and cases from the guestroom bed and her clothes. “Margot,” he muttered, “you are going to owe me big for this favor. You are going to owe me huge.”
Morning light roused Martin. He had spent a fitful night on his sofa. He checked his laundry room -- Irene’s top and skirt were dry. After rapping on the door he stepped in and set them on the foot of the bed.
Irene was lying on her stomach and she stirred. “Mmmph?”
“Good morning,” he said
“Ohhh,” she groaned. Then she rolled onto her back and blinked. She lifted the sheets, looked under them and pulled them up to her chin. Irene stared at him, wide-eyed.
“I’ve got a pot of strong, black coffee going,” he said. “Your clothes are at the foot of the bed. You had quite a night!” He left, closing the door behind him.
Martin heard the door to his bedroom. “I can make some breakfast,” he called from the kitchen. Hearing no reply he headed for his living room. Irene was pulling on her boots. She slipped into her long coat, buttoned it and tied the belt. The, grasping her bag she fumbled with the deadbolt on the front door, opened it and dashed outside. He stuck his head out the door and saw her trotting toward the Science Center.