I was wasting a perfectly delightful Saturday afternoon vacuuming the house when a bright idea hit me. At least I thought it was bright. I asked myself, why am I wasting every damn Saturday cleaning this house? Why don't I get someone to do it for me? And the really bright part of the idea was that I knew where to get that someone.
Let me explain. My house is about a block from the local two-year college. The college is a perfect place for kids to finish their required classes at $100 a semester before heading off to the University. No one cares where you took History, just the name on that final degree. Kids could cut the cost of their degree in half.
My house has an efficiency apartment built above the garage. One room with a bath but it's big enough that it has a separate sleeping area and living area. It connects to the main house through the pantry but also has its own outside entrance.
Put one and one together and I get three, I mean two. If I offer room and board in exchange for housework I could spend my Saturdays having fun. And I sure as hell could afford the extra groceries that I wasn't going to have to shop for anymore! Yeah! Rents in this part of the city were climbing astronomically so I was sure some of the students had to be feeling the pinch. There were 12,000 students going to the college. At least one had to be interested in free rent. And if the student was female, all the better. Be nice to have a woman around the house again. It was getting lonely rattling around in an empty house.
That's how I came to run an ad in the college paper. Room and board, walking distance to the college, in exchange for household duties. Fit the work around your class schedule. That's also how I met Jillie.
When she showed up for an interview I was stunned. My first thought was, no way. She's too good looking to be a live-in maid. But I went ahead and interviewed her anyway. She had a small allowance from her dad's insurance settlement to help her through college. She had to graduate in four years or the money was cut off. If she didn't have to pay room and board the money would be plenty. This was perfect for her. She seemed bright and eager. I couldn't think of a thing wrong.
I showed her around the house and explained what I wanted. It sure as hell didn't need vacuuming every day since I was only getting to it once a week now. I liked to cook so I'd do that. She was free to join me for dinner as long as she told me in advance. I wanted her to do the shopping and she agreed. As we walked by the pantry she looked out at the back yard.
"You have a pool?" she asked.
"And a hot tub. You can use them," I answered. Her face lit up with a big smile. I took her up to the apartment. She looked around.
"Please call me Mike," I said. "Mister is way too formal."
"Mike. I really would like this job. I'll do a good job. There's no way I can afford an apartment and still go to school without having to work nearly full time. That would take away from school. I'm worried that if I get a full time job I won't be able to take a full load and I won't get done in four years. I'll lose the money then."
I thought for a second and decided, "Fine. We'll give it a try."
That smile beamed my way again as she bounced on her toes. "Thank you. This is so cool. I couldn't park this close to class. When can I move in?"
I laughed, "As soon as you're ready to start vacuuming."
We quickly settled into a routine. I noticed that the kitchen was always clean when I got home. The place always seemed to be picked up and the dust bunnies were permanently banished. Once a week clean clothes would show up in a basket on my bed. They weren't ironed but this was still way better than getting up on a Monday morning and finding the underwear drawer completely empty which had happened a few times. I'd leave a shopping list on the fridge adding things as I thought of them. I opened a household account and got her a debit card. I never put more than a couple hundred in the account, just in case. The withdrawals always matched the receipts and the receipts were always for house stuff. I was beginning to think I had found a real jewel.
Jillie didn't much like spending time by herself in the apartment so most evenings we sat together in my den watching TV, playing cards or reading. Sometimes we'd talk about the classes she was taking and we'd argue about the various theories she was studying. I'm a libertarian, which I didn't admit to, and she was having a hard time classifying me. She couldn't figure out if I was a conservative or a liberal. She once accused me of changing sides to fit the argument, which wasn't true. Finally, she came in one night as I was cooking and stood with an accusing posture, "You're a Libertarian."
I laughed and answered, "Really? Took you long enough."
"How come you never said so?"
I turned the chicken in the pan and looked at her. "Because this way you really know what I am. You don't have to take my word for it."
"Harrumph. No wonder you argue both sides."
I defended myself, "I do not argue both sides of an issue. It's just that I'm quote liberal on some and quote conservative on others as if labels really mattered."
"Ok. I'm just steamed that I couldn't pin you down before. I'll know what to do now."
I started to point out that pinning people down isn't the point. But then I remember my own time in college when disputation for the fun of it was our primary intellectual pleasure. I remember those hours spent in the student union arguing politics over stale coffee. There's a reason they are called sophomores, wise fools. So I shut up.
She looked at the pan, "What's for dinner?"
"Chicken in a wine and mustard sauce."
Jillie leaned against the cupboard. "Mike, I don't know what I'm going to do when I finish at City." I looked at her with a raised eyebrow. "Eating here is like eating at a restaurant every night. I'm getting spoiled."
Her words made me realize how much I had come to like having her here. Her words filled me with a sense of loss. I turned back to the chicken wondering why that emotion, and why I felt it so strongly?
It was late September and we were suffering in the last heat wave of the year. There's always that last one before the cooling of glorious autumn. It was Saturday afternoon when I stirred from my study where I'd been catching up on paperwork. I came into the den to find Jillie on the couch in a bikini. Damn she looked beautiful.
She turned her head and said, "Hi. You done working?"
I stretched as I answered, "God, yes. I'm done."
"Let's go swimming," she said.
I thought for less than a moment before answering, "Sounds great. I'll go put on a suit."
Jillie sat up and said, "Why? Let's go skinny-dipping. I saw you the other night when you thought I was gone so don't tell me you don't."
"That was at night. I don't want to traumatize the neighbors," I said. "Plus you're wearing a suit."
She looked down and giggled. "Mike. This isn't a bikini." I felt the heat in my face as I realized that it was her underwear. "It was too hot to get dressed so I just put this on. Come on, don't be a scaredy cat. I'll go first." She said in the challenging tone she liked to use.
I argued with myself for just a moment, "Ok. I'll go get some towels." When I came back Jillie was gone and I heard a splash in the back yard. I found a little pile of black underwear and shoes just inside the back door. I pulled off my shirt and shorts and flipped off my sandals as I went outside. I did carry the towels strategically placed as I walked out.
Jillie was in the pool and shouted, "Come in. It feels great."
'You're a big boy, no reason to feel intimidated,' I told myself as I threw the towels on a chaise and walked to the edge of the pool. Jillie was studying me intently. I knew having her eyes on me was about to have other more manifest consequences so I jumped in the water. The cold water quickly reversed the flow of blood to one particular extremity.
We swam and floated around the pool for a while. "Mike, this is so great."
"I know. It makes the heat bearable. Now I can last another couple hours," I said as I climbed up the ladder. I grabbed a towel and started drying off. I watched Jillie for a while hoping she was going to climb out and I could get a better view but she kept swimming. Worried that I was getting a little obvious I went inside, put on my clothes and went into the den to watch a game.
Jillie came in a while later. She was back in her bra and panties. She sat on one of the footrests like a cowgirl on her pony. She had obviously lain out in the sun awhile as her hair was now dry. "What're you watching?"
"Florida, Florida State," I said. She looked puzzled. "Football," I said with a smile.
"Oh," she said rocking back and forth on her perch. "Mike. Football's stupid. Can't we do something fun?"
I looked over at Jillie, about to protest that football is fun when it hit my mind with the force of a sledgehammer. She was smiling, her beautiful blonde hair like a halo around her head, her breasts peeking over and highlighted by the black material of her bra, the creamy white skin of her belly shining, almost glowing, drawing my eyes down to her panties which barely covered her sex. Her sex was rubbing and rocking in an arousing way on her seat. I don't think any of this was intentional. But it hit me with irresistible force. It leapt unbidden and irresistible into my mind, Yes, Jillie, I know exactly what I'd like to do with you that is fun. A beat later I felt the furious blush in my face.
Jillie stopped rocking and looked astonished. "Look at you blush. God you are turning bright red." Which, of course, made it worse. "You are so red." I couldn't think of a thing to say. I was truly tongue-tied. Jillie's mouth was open as she looked at me. I struggled trying desperately to think of some way to explain this. Then she smiled as she said, "You have to tell me what that thought was."
I felt my eyes widen in terror as I said, "No way."
She put her hands on the footrest and leaned forward giving me a better view of her cleavage, not helping matters in the least. "Mike, you HAVE to tell me." I shook my head as she continued, "Yes, you do. You know why?" I shook again. "Because if you don't I'm going to think the worst possible thing. Anything you really thought would be better."
I refused to say anything so she continued, "It's not like I don't know what it is. It has to be sex or you wouldn't be blushing and it has to be me..." She watched me intently and under the scrutiny I felt the heat intensify in my face. "See, you're blushing again. So what was it?" she paused waiting for me to answer. "A bj?"
"God No," I protested.
"Well at least I got you to say something," she responded.
Obviously she had learned enough in our verbal sparring sessions to know how to hit the right button. I felt I had to defend myself. "It wasn't anything like that. It's just when you said, do something fun, and I looked over at you, well, there you are in your bra and panties and you look so beautiful and it just sort of hit that... you know would be fun with you."
"You know?" she asked.
"Ok. Sex," I answered blushing again.
"That's it?" she asked. "And that made you blush like that?"
Jillie leaned back on the footrest looking at me. "Either you are very, very shy which I know isn't true, or very repressed and I don't think it's that because I've seen the erotic art books in your book collection..." My eyebrows shot up at that. "Quit it. They're there with the rest of your art books. Eros in Pompeii, Erotic Art in the 20th Century, Erotic Art of the Great Masters."
"Jesus," I blurted out. "Have you memorized them?"
"Only the good parts. Picasso couldn't draw erotic to save his life," she answered with a wicked smile on her face. "So it's not that either. That only leaves one thing." She paused and looked at me with that challenge on her face. "Why would a guy get all blushy about the simple thought of a woman and sex unless he thought she was a Madonna..." she paused again.
I knew where she was going with this. Just the week before the subject of one of our wide-ranging discussions was the Madonna-Whore contradiction that she had been reading about in Women's Studies. Part of the argument was that men put the Madonna on a pedestal only when they loved the woman. If the man only craved her physically or sexually he thought of her as the Whore. It was a crock but I could see where she was going.
But was she right? I looked at Jillie. She sat quietly watching as she saw me struggling with my thoughts. "Jesus Jillie."
"Well?" was all she answered.
"The age difference."
"I didn't ask how old I was. I asked about the Madonna," she said.
"Damn it, that's a politically-correct, man-hating crock and you know it. Men are just as capable of full love as women are. Men can love a woman spiritually and physically. It doesn't have to be one or the other. I know, that wasn't your question. I'm stalling." She laughed with me. "Jesus Jillie. I never thought about it that way. The other day when you said you'd leave when you were finished I was so sad." I looked at her and saw a soft look of compassion and understanding on her face.
"I was sad too."