WARNINGS: This story includes explicit descriptions of sexual acts. If reading this might involve you or another person in an illegal act, or you are offended by the exploration of adult themes in literature or on the Internet, do not read further.
Copyright 1999 by Jane Urquhart. The author is a member of the Net Authors and Creators Union (NACU), which defends the rights of Internet authors and creators. NACU intends to bring suit against any person or corporation infringing copyright.
Specific permission is granted for publication in the news groups Alt.Sex.Stories and Alt.Sex.Stories.Moderated and for archiving by the Alt.Sex.Stories.Moderated archive, Deja.com, and RemarQ.com. All other rights are reserved. Do not repost or distribute by any other means without express permission from the author.
Only diehards eat outside at Au Bon Pain in Copley Place on a hot August day, but hot days of any sort were going to go away real soon, so Lisa and I put our trays on the table and collapsed into the sauna.
"So how was Maine?" she asked.
"No, come on. Tell me what you do up there while I'm sitting in the bowels of the library trying to read records written by semi-literate medieval clerks. I know what you do when Jack and I go up, but what do you when it's just family, or only normal people for guests?"
"OK. Nothin' much. Go to the beach. Work on the garden. Get dragged to parties I don't want to go to. Hang around the gallery and talk to some weird artist. Play with kids. You know. Goof off."
"God, you're hard to talk to sometimes! So when did you go to the beach, and how was it?" Lisa exasperates easily.
"The beach? You know how the beach is. Except that on Tuesday I had five kids with me, aged six to 10. My Judy and four guest kids. It was fun. I went in for about ten minutes until I was numb up to my waist--the water's only 60 degrees--then sat and read a book with one eye while I watched the kids with the other. Yelled at 'em when they started to go too deep or began to take swings at each other. They don't have nerve endings, you know? They stay in the water for hours."
"Then you went home."
"Yeah. What else?"
It really was too hot. Still, there was a breeze, and when I got really too hot I went in the water and got knocked around by the waves until I was soaked, and that cooled me down. Finally, though, it was time to go home. I was mildly curious to get online, call up the writers' group, and see who was trashing who. Whom.
The kids were totally shot, of course--that's the real aim of these expeditions. I only had to threaten to break one elbow to get them all together. I put on my nice coverup, the long purple one with the big yellow buttons down the front, folded up my chair, collected my towel and book and car keys, and we all headed back to the van.
This takes about half an hour, even though it's only maybe a hundred yards. The kids have to yell at each other, throw sand at each other, wrestle a little, and so on. They drop their baskets and shovels and have to pick them up. Somebody wants a popsicle, so we all buy popsicles. It's a slow process. I was just standing there half the time, waiting for them to calm down and walk another few steps. I wasn't really in a hurry, after all.
We hadn't been going more than a minute or two, though, when I got this idea. I stopped, leaned over, and unbuttoned the three bottom buttons of the dress. Results were immediate. As I started up again, fairly large portions of leg stuck out through the opening in the front. A guy who was scanning the area let his gaze go right by me, then quickly switched it back. He stared until I was past. By the time I got to the car I'd been ogled by at least fourteen men. I counted.
This was odd. Maybe six hundred nearly-naked women wandering around, and these guys look at my legs peeking out of a long skirt. My favorite interpreter of male behavior--he's one himself--says getting a look at what you're not supposed to see is much sexier than just looking at what's on display. Well, I got a kick out of it. Only a little kick, but what are you gonna do when you've got all these kids in tow? A strip tease?
"OK, if the beach wasn't exciting, tell me about the party. How was that?"
I'd known Lisa for some time, but still, I didn't know her that well. Seemed like she was getting awful pushy.
"Oh, it was all right. This past Sunday the in-laws dragged us to this cocktail party in Ogunquit. Rich people's house. Nice house, actually. We had a few drinks and got bored and went back to the camp."
"Hi, Janey," somebody said. I looked over and waved.
As parties go, it was only average. Nice edibles, fairly good background music, some clothes worth looking at, but the guests, all told, amounted to a washout. Could have been the Lexington High School PTA. I had already decided not to get drunk, which was practically the only sane thing to do other than leave, because I had to get up early in the morning and feel presentable. That left one option--figure out how to produce some excitement on my own.
The living room was full of stiffs, male and female, discussing post-modern art, and various wives talking about people who weren't there. Some of the men were doing that, too. I know all I need to know about the first, and the second is not a subject, since I didn't know most of the people under discussion. So I walked through the French doors onto the Bartrams' patio and looked across the Marginal Way at the ocean. Given that I was wearing a backless cocktail dress (calf length, of course, with no bra), I figured I'd be cold, but the sun was still up and the breeze had died down, so it wasn't too bad--just a little cool. Unusual for August. Ideal.
Glancing around, I could see that four or five other bored souls had fled the field before I did. Gerry Bartram had put a bowl of punch on a glass-topped table with some hors d'oeuvres and few bottles of wine and whiskey and some mixers. I saw Nate Greenberg off to one side with a blonde I didn't know. He winked at me and went on talking earnestly with her. Silently, I wished him luck.
Then I felt somebody put a hand on my bare back and found myself looking very closely at a guy I'd never seen before.
"I'm ever so pleased to meet you," I said.
"The pleasure's all mine," he answered. "I'm Jake Barnes."
You can't exactly shake hands when a guy has his hand in the middle of your back and you're standing there holding a wine glass and looking for escape routes, so I decided to await developments. He asked if we hadn't met somewhere before. I was struck immediately by his originality and intellect. So I told him I didn't think so, which was designed to show him that I possessed the same virtues.
Meanwhile, the hand was still on my back. Even without the breeze, I still wasn't exactly warm, so the hand felt pretty good. When it started moving, slowly, but clearly with purpose, from the back toward the front, I gave him credit for chutzpah and wondered just how foolhardy he was.
Foreign fingertips had just managed to creep between my skin and my really nice cocktail dress when I remembered something I'd been told by one of my e-mail friends who likes to talk dirty. I decided my quest for excitement was well under way.
"Excuse me," I said, turning suddenly to my right. This little maneuver effectively shoved his hand right under my dress and on top of a nicely rounded, if small, right breast. I stopped dead, just long enough for him to register what had happened. Then I turned back to my left, and just as effectively pulled the guilty hand around to its former position, the middle of my back. I smiled innocently.
"Oh, my!" I said. "What did you say your name was?"
"Jake Barnes," he said. He had just the tiniest hint of pink in his complexion.
"Oh, yes. I'm Jane. My husband is somewhere in there." I gestured vaguely in the direction of the doors.
"I'm glad to hear that," he said. "On the whole, I'm glad he didn't see that cute stunt you just pulled."
"Me?" I said, looking shocked. I do shocked quite well.
"Yep. You," he said. "Not me. You." He gave me an evil smirk.
What could I do? My clever friend had said I was supposed to say something like, "Watch it, Buster!" right after I did that little trick, but I'd forgotten to do that, and now this amiable-looking man was accusing me of some kind of twisted exhibitionism.
"Couldn't have been my fault. It was *your* hand." I was looking very serious. I do that even better than shocked.
Smiling, he said, "I reckon you're right--it was definitely my hand. If I hadn't had my hand in the middle of your back, where it is right now, by the way, it couldn't have happened. So it was my fault."
"Exactly. All I did was turn just a little bit, like this--" I repeated the maneuver, with the same result as before. I really liked that hand a lot, right where it was. But I turned back, and the hand slid away. "I just innocently turned to look at somebody, and there you were, groping me good. It's terribly embarrassing." I smiled.
"Yeah," he said, "I'm embarrassed, too. I've got an idea--come over here to the table a minute." His hand pressed gently on my back, as if we were dancing, and propelled me toward the table. Once there, he let go of me, picked up a wineglass, and filled it from one of the bottles next to the punchbowl. "Here," he said, handing me the glass.
"But I already have a drink!" There I was, standing with a glass in each hand.
"Yep, you do, one in each hand." He moved around behind me and stood on my right, with his left hand on my back. I looked at him, puzzled.
He pointed off to my left. "Look over there, " he said.
I did. Suddenly another hand was on another breast, only this time it was moving, gently, and I was getting a feeling that doesn't come from two-fisted drinking. How do these things happen to me? But this one had, so I thought I might as well enjoy it. I stood there for at least thirty seconds before I turned back toward him, automatically removing the intruding hand.
Then he was behind me, and *both* hands had somehow found their ways to my chest. I just had to lean back on him for a minute while I swiveled my eyes around to see if anybody was watching this disgraceful attack. Nobody was, so I leaned back a while longer. Then I straightened up regretfully, and pirouetted out of range.
"Look, Jake," I said, putting the extra glass on the table, but keeping the full one, of course. "Why don't we sit over there on that bench and just consider this whole thing a little, huh?"
"Fine with me," he said. "I like considering whole things." So we went over and sat on the bench. I put at least ten inches between us.
"Do you always introduce yourself by inspecting boobs?" I asked.
"Only to lovely women," he said. "And then only if they facilitate the inspection."
"Forget the lovely," I said. "Facilitate, huh?"
"Yeah, facilitate." He smiled that very nice smile again. He was wearing a wrinkled white linen jacket and dark blue trousers with a red and blue striped shirt. About forty-five, I figured. Or maybe forty and well-travelled.
"OK, let's forget facilitate for a while," I said. "Just who the hell are you?"
"I'm a friend of Gerry's from a long time ago," he said. "I work in the oil fields out in South Dakota, but I come to Maine whenever I can."
"Married, of course."
"More or less."
"What a coincidence!" I said. "Me, too. I mean, more."
"I think that's a facilitating circumstance," he said thoughtfully. "Like, right now, I'm less married, since my wife is in Boston. What would make you less
"Oh," I said, thoughtfully. "Well, actually, the fact that my husband is in there flirting with a dear friend of mine sort of makes me less married."
"Very foolish man. I feel myself getting so less married I'm hardly married at all." He got up from the bench and walked over to the table, where he poured himself about two fingers of Scotch. Then he came back and sat down again.
"I've noticed that if I drink certain magic potions that makes me even *more* less married."
"Funny, a couple of glasses of wine seems to have the same effect on me." I smiled and sipped.
"Have you been here before? Know the layout?"
"This is my first time," I said. "We've known the Bartrams from the art shows for quite a while--they're really my in-laws' friends. This is the first time they've asked us to a party."
"Let me show you the guest house, then. I'm the current guest."
"By all means. I wouldn't want to miss the opportunity to examine the decor."
He stood and offered me his hand, which I took, then he led me through the French doors into the living room, then back through the kitchen. Naturally I let go of the hand as soon as I stood up--wouldn't do to parade through the dinosaur museum holding hands with a stranger. I noticed that the conversation hadn't changed much. I didn't see Bob, my husband. Nor my friend Nicole. Maybe they'd found something exciting somewhere, like in the library. This was a nice, big house that probably hadn't cost the Bartrams a dime over two million. I noticed that they bought the local artists' pictures, but they also had a couple of modest Picassos and a Chagall hanging in places where they wouldn't get missed. I thought it might be nice to be rich.
We went out the back door and down a tree-shaded path about twenty feet to an adorable little stuccoed cottage. Jake opened the door and we stepped in.
"Oh, my!" I looked around. "This is really nice!"
"Yeah. I think they built it for their fancy friends, but Gerry makes an exception for me. Come on, I'll show you the rest of the place." But I just stood there gawking at the antique furniture and the modern sculptures tastefully stuck here and there.
"You're not a fancy friend?"
"As long as you can fill your tank for twenty dollars, I am very not fancy. More like poor. And they keep on discovering more oil in these cheap places and I get less and less fancy. I'm lucky to have a job."
"What do you do?"
"I'm a divisional v-p, which means I get to go out in the field and bug the guys who really work." Then he smiled. "But right now I'm just a guy trying to make friends with a tall, lovely woman."
How nice! I love to make new friends.
"Is there anything to eat in that kitchen?"
"Sure. Cheese, bread, I don't know. Are you hungry?" He managed not to look too disappointed.
"Well, yes. Let me check the fridge." So we went into the kitchen, and I found some chips and dip and some little plates to put them on. "This'll do," I said, heading back for the living room. I put the food on a coffee table and sat down on the couch.
Jake went back toward the kitchen, saying, "I'll bring the booze." He
reappeared in a couple of minutes carrying two glasses.
"Red wine for you, seltzer for me." Then he sat down next to me and leaned back. I started in on the dip. "I hate to mention this," he said, "but you got me feeling awfully less married back there, and now you're acting more married again."
"I noticed that," I said. "When your hands were inside my dress I felt less married, but then I made you take them out, and I felt more married again."
"Have you ever thought that women are a little odd?"
I was busy chewing on a chip full of some kind of semi-liquid cheese, but I turned to look at him.
"Odd?" I thought a minute. "No, I don't think so. For instance, it seems reasonable to me to feel less married when some nice man has his hand on my bare boob. Doesn't that seem reasonable to you?" I filled up a chip with goo and stuck it in my mouth. Then I took another one, stuck it in the dip and then leaned over and held it in front of him. "Want some?" I believe in sharing.
"Sure," he said. "Feed it to me." He leaned forward and opened his mouth like a little bird. So I fed the little bird the loaded chip. He chewed thoughtfully. I just took a quick glance at his crotch and wondered what was in there. Food
sometimes has that effect on me.
"Why are you so tall?" he said, just as if he were making sense.
"Because it says I'm five feet eleven on my passport. They don't seem to like fractions."
"And how much do you weigh?"
"It depends on who I'm talking to," I said, reaching for a piece of celery that time. If you eat corn chips, then eat a piece of celery, you probably won't get fat. "Very few people have the nerve to ask outright."
"I just asked. So how much do you weigh?"
"Twelve stone. About. How about you?"
''Eighty-nine kilos. Know any more word games?"
I was furiously trying to multiply 89 by 2.2 in my head, which normally wouldn't have taken a nanosecond, and having difficulty. I suspect that was owing entirely to the consumption of about six ounces of red wine. I gave up, noticing that however much it was, it was nicely distributed through his shoulders and chest, anyhow. "Sure. Tu parles français?"
"Nein. Sprichst du Deutsch?"
"Gar nichts." I left him to wonder. "But I'm dying to learn Italian. Can you teach me Italian?"
"Ciao, Bella," he said. "That's all I've ever needed. Hey, I do know some French! Voulez-vous couchez avec moi?"
"I don't think so, especially since you're so formal." I took another little sip of my wine, just to see how it would affect my marriage. "Did you learn that in school?"
"Yep. Seventh grade. A friend of mine told me to say it to some girl and it would have amazing results. So I said it to Marie Fournier and she slapped me. I was amazed."
"Smart girl," I said. "You're supposed to say a lot of other things and spend a lot of money on her first, then learn to say it right."
"I'm willing to learn the words. How much money would I have to spend on, say, you?"
"I'm not in the market right now. Pity." I ate another chip. "Still, it's a nice offer, and I like to file those away, just in case."
"I used to get away with stealing kisses when I was in the seventh grade." He looked a little wistful.
"You didn't steal them--somebody just left them around for you and you only thought you were stealing."
Then he reached over, took my hand and pulled me toward him. He didn't look like he wanted another chip, somehow. He just kept on pulling until my face was about an inch and a half from his--I was kind of twisted around by that time--then he leaned forward two inches and kissed me. Imagine my surprise! I recovered quickly, straightened myself out a bit, reached around his neck and kissed him back. Thoroughly. For maybe thirty seconds. Meanwhile, his hand was on my back, which was still bare.
Marie Fournier would have slapped him silly. Probably. But then she'd be grown up now, and maybe she'd act differently. I did.
"My, my!" I said, pulling away just a bit. "I must have left that one around without even thinking about it!"
"That happens. Sometimes you just drop things and don't realize it. Then somebody comes up and says, 'Hey, you dropped this kiss!'" Somehow his hand had stayed on my back, even though I had removed my lips from his. He used it to push me toward him and kissed me again. "I found another one!"
Oh, my! For some reason, I started feeling more married.
"Uh, yeah, you did. You're so good at finding things that I think maybe I'd better get back to the party."
"But there are some really nice artifacts you haven't seen yet. Wouldn't you like to look around a little more?"
"In the bedroom, I expect."
"Well, yes, in the hall, and in the bedroom."
I backed off and looked him in the eye.
"I think I ought to let you know: I'm really not going to bed with you, in any language. It wouldn't be proper. Besides, we might be missed. But I liked the kisses."
"So I guess I just follow you around until you change your mind."