She stood in the bathroom, looking into the mirror as tears and cold water dripped down her face. Scooping up some more icy wetness into her hands, she splashed her face again but the burning of her tears and humiliation was not relieved. Down the hall, she heard the sounds of her husband's regular breathing as he slept on, unconcerned, unaware.
'How could he DO this to me... again... ?'she whispered to the stricken woman looking back at her from the mirror. Her chest was tight with still more tears unshed and her dark eyes were rimmed with red from the ones that had already fallen.
Closing the door, she stood in front of the full-length mirror and stared at herself. Still naked, as she had been under the covers when her husband came to bed, she whispered aloud:
"OK, lady, time for some truth. Let's take an honest inventory."
She wasn't young any more, that was true. Neither was she old. Her body still had the hourglass figure of her girl hood - if perhaps not quite so thin. Her breasts were no longer pert and had lost some of their firmness, but they were still full and her nipples were well formed. Running her hands over her stomach, she acknowledged that the hard flat belly of her youth was a thing of the past, but she honestly couldn't say that she was flabby. The dark patch of curls at the top of her thighs was still thick and softly curling.
Finally, she examined her face. She was pretty. She wouldn't go so far as to say beautiful, but she was definitely attractive, with her large dark eyes, high cheekbones and short, wavy hair. When she smiled, she knew that it was a warm smile.
'Then why doesn't he want me?' her heart wailed in silence.
Suddenly the home that they shared felt like it was about to cave in on her. The walls drew closer and she was having trouble breathing. All she could think was to get away! Blindly, she grabbed at the jeans and shirt that has been dropped on the floor a mere hour before, not bothering with bra or panties or even shoes and ran silently down the stairs, pausing only long enough to grab her car keys before fleeing that house, that man and the rejection she felt they both held for her.
She hadn't had a plan when she left, she wasn't even really thinking as she drove, but she found herself pulling up in front of Jack's house. The entire street was dark - it was well past bedtime for most people - but a light burned in his study.
The same feelings that had driven her from her own home drew her to that welcoming light and the friend who lived within. Her hand was on the doorbell, ringing, before she even realized she had left the car. She heard his footsteps on the tile floor and felt, rather than saw, him peep through the window.
Seeing her, he opened the door immediately and drew her into his home.
"Li," he said, his voice full of concern, scanning her attire and bare feet, pacing the cold tile floor. "What's wrong? What's happened?"
Hearing the tender concern in Jack's voice, she stopped and looked him square in the face. They'd known each other for years - forever, it seemed at times - and he'd always been there for her. Just like he was at 1 AM this warm spring night. Her panicked flight was halted at his doorstep and the tears suddenly began to flow again, uncontrolled. Although questions burned in his mind, Jack simply put his arm around her and led her into his study, sitting her down on the old leather couch. Stopping only to grab a clean snifter and pour a couple of fingers of brandy into it, he sat next to her on the couch.
"Drink this," he told her, placing the glass in her hands, helping her lift it to her lips. Still shaking, she put the snifter to her mouth and drank the entire contents down in one gulp.
"Whoa... take it easy," he warned her too late, but the liquor had produced the desired effect. Her uncontrolled sobs slowed to little hiccupping sounds as her head dropped to her chest.
"Lianne," he said softly, taking her chin in his hand and lifting her face to look at him. "Please tell me what's happened?" horrible images whirled around in his head as to what could have put her in such a state.
Their eyes met and there was something in hers that told him that this wasn't the same woman he'd known since she was a girl. There was anger growing behind the tears, an anger that was veiled in hurt. Without a word, she sprang to her feet, standing before him. Arms akimbo, legs spread with bare feet firmly planted in the soft rug before his fireplace, she was a sight.
"Jack - you're a man," she began, her voice thick from all her crying, but he could hear the hard edge in it. So he bit back what would have been his usual quip and waited for her to ask him what men knew that she didn't.
"What's wrong with me? Am I so repulsive, so undesirable that even my own husband won't touch me?"
It was probably the last thing he'd expected her to say. He'd been smitten by her, in one way or another, for most of his life and he was the last man on earth to tell her that there was something "wrong" with her. He didn't know what her husband's problem was, but looking at her, silhouetted in the firelight, with her shirt crookedly buttoned, her pale skin showing at her breasts and her hips, Jack did the only thing he could have done.
Standing in one fluid movement, he folded her into his arms and took her mouth as his own. She didn't resist - she was too shocked - so he pressed the moment, moving slowly and softly against her lips, the tip of his tongue caressing the edges where her smile should have been.
He felt the progression in her mind and body. One moment there was no response and then the next, like the first pink rays of dawn there was a warming. Her arms, hanging limp at her sides in her surprise, began to lift towards him and he held his breath, waiting for her touch.
Her hands on his chest hesitated and then gently pushed him away.
Standing inches away from her, he could feel his heart pounding as they looked intently at one another.
"I'm not going to apologize," he said softly, his voice hoarse with restrained passion.
It was all that he could do to keep himself from reaching out and pulling her back to him. She was still so close that he could smell the brandy on her breath as well as tasting it on his lips from their kiss. Still, he would not force the issue. At this point, if she chose, they could ignore it and go on as they always had - the best of friends.
And that was the last thing that he wanted.
So, he watched her face, the emotions washing over it like a tidal wave and he knew the precise moment when she decided, even before she moved. There was first a brief moment of surprise, of wonder and then peace.
Lianne stepped back into his arms and sighed as they surrounded her. It was a sigh of release, years of hurt and rejections washed away in a moment. Tipping her face back up to him, Jack didn't say a word, merely gazed into her eyes for a moment, reading them. When his mouth descended once again her lips were soft and pliant, waiting for him.
He couldn't remember when arousal had taken him so quickly. He felt himself almost instantly growing hard with long denied desire. It was as if she could taste that hunger in his mouth, her own response heated and eager. Her parted lips welcomed his tongue into the hot recesses, to be met by her own, caressing, stroking, suckling. Lianne moaned with pleasure as his hands traveled down her back, cupping her bottom and drawing her more closely to him. She gasped against his mouth as she felt his hard erection pressing into her belly before he felt her smile against him and begin moving her hips.
His own moan couldn't be suppressed. Needing to feel her skin against him, he grabbed the neck of his tee shirt and pulled it over his head as she, of the same mind began fumbling with the buttons of her blouse.
Covering her hand with his own, he told her, "Let me." Lianne looked up at him, dark eyes heavy lidded with passion and waited. His own hands trembled as slowly, one by one, he released the tiny buttons of her blouse, letting his fingers trails across her skin as each was undone. Rather than pulling the shirt from her shoulders, he slipped his hands under the thin fabric and caressed her ample breasts softly, tenderly. His manhood throbbed at the tiny whimper of pleasure she made when his thumbs found the already hard nubs of her nipples. Her eyes had never left his face.
"Jack," she whispered, "I'm so scared..."
He stilled his hands, not knowing what she'd been through, not knowing if he'd struck a respondent chord that raised bad memories. He kissed her lips gently and asked "Why? I'd never hurt you. Ever. I couldn't."
Her eyes left his face and she looked at the fire. "I... I..." she tried and failed to speak. There was a silence between them as he waited for her to gather the courage to say what she needed to say.
It spilled out in a rush once she did.
"I don't know if I can please you."
He couldn't help himself. The laughter that burst from him was wonderful, even as it puzzled her. Drawing her tightly into his arms. "Honey, you have no worries there!" and then looking down into her face he said more softly. "You never have. I've wanted you like this for more years than I can remember." Pressing himself against her, he continued, "Can't you tell?"
Lianne's dark head bowed, resting her forehead against his chest, but not moving away from him, not taking the delightful pressure of her belly from his aching manhood. When she looked up at him again, there was a tentative smile on her face.
"This changes everything between us, you know," she said softly, her arms reaching up around his neck.
His head was bent, his lips already tasting the soft skin of her neck when he responded in a whisper near her ear. "Not for me. For me it's always been like this with you."
He felt the shiver that went through her and knew from the way she clung to him that it was one of pleasure. Suddenly, there'd been too much waiting, too much patience. With her acceptance came an urgency to them both. His hands, once again under her shirt, pulled it from her body, his mouth descending to capture the bud of her nipple between his lips. She gasped as his teeth gently pulled at it and buried her hands in his hair, holding him tightly to her chest. He wanted to laugh with the sheer joy of having her with him, but there was no time - his need for her superceded everything else.
He suckled at her breasts like a starving man, while his hands found the clasp and zipper on her jeans, sliding inside and feeling her bare skin. They slid around her hips and cradled her round bottom, kneading the firm flesh and reveling in her moans of pleasure at his attentions.
When her small hands moved to his jeans, he found himself holding his breath. For so long he dreamt of what it would be like to have her delicate fingers wrapped around his swollen member, it was next to impossible to realize that it was about to happen. His mouth left her breast and he stood to stare into her eyes as he felt her released the button and then slid the zipper down. He didn't even try to suppress the groan as his erection was given some relief from the constraint of his pants, only to be followed by a low moan as she lightly ran her hand along his length.