Matt sat in the darkness of his deck, contemplating his suddenly changed future. He didn't like what he was seeing.
He took a drag on his cigarette (how long had it been since he'd given them up? Eight years? More?) and winced just a little at the acrid, hot smoke as it tore through the sensitive membranes of his throat. To soothe the burn, he took a long pull from the bottle of beer in his other hand. He held the bottle by the neck, as if throttling it, and just tilted it up so the cold amber liquid could flow onto the back of his tongue and wash away the burn. Skyline City Ale, you just can't beat it, he thought sourly.
When the bottle was empty, he stood up slowly, dropped the glowing butt of the cigarette into the bottle, and shuffled into the house toward the kitchen. He opened the refrigerator door and bent down to grab another bottle of beer. He took it out to the deck and flopped back down into the wicker chair. He twisted the cap off the beer, tossing the knurled top toward the trashcan in the corner, not caring if he hit it or not. He reached for another cigarette and lit up.
There were already five other empty beer bottles standing on the side table next to the chair, each with its burnt offering of nicotine in the bottom of the bottle. He wondered briefly if there was enough beer in the kitchen to last through the rest of the night. And enough cigarettes. If he ran out of either, he would have to find something else to do, and he really didn't want to resort to that. Especially if it meant going to sleep. He really, really didn't want to do that.
The Kleiber recording of "La Traviata" was playing in the dark. Its darker arias fit well with his mood, its ghostly music just barely noticeable through the door, through his thoughts.
The houses around his were all invisible in the night, which wasn't surprising, considering the time. Besides, Matt's house was just as dark. The difference was that there was a wounded presence in this house, smoking and drinking and afraid to go to sleep.
When he was a starving graduate student, Matt had a habit of meeting his buddies at a drinking hole called Archie's, just off campus. The beer was cheap and cold, and Archie himself was almost always found behind the bar. Matt had known Archie since he first landed on campus, fake driver's license in hand. Archie had critically examined his ID, handed it back to Matt, and said, "Next time you come in here, you'd better have a decent fake. This one sucks." But he let Matt in anyway, and let him buy beer. Matt dutifully found a supplier of quality fakes and spent some of his father's money on a new ID card. The next time he went into Archie's, he showed it to the wily proprietor. Archie examined it closely and looked up at Matt, standing there nervously, awaiting the verdict.
"Jimmy Hamline do this for ya?" asked Archie.
Surprised, Matt just nodded.
Archie handed the fake back to Matt. "Jimmy does fine work," he said. "Whatcha want tonight?" And, just like that, Archie had gained another loyal regular patron.
On one particular night, Matt was drinking and playing on the Bowl-O-Matic game with his buddies. There was supposed to be some sort of promotion starting up, and they had gotten there early to stake off a good spot. As usual, Archie was tending bar.
Around eight that night a big van pulled up, and an even half-dozen of the most gorgeous girls Matt had ever seen came in. Skyline City Ale Girls, dressed skimpily and being professionally friendly with all the patrons, the ladies were handing out coupons for free Skyline City Ale, giving away t-shirts, and schmoozing with the crowd. Three handlers for the six girls made sure nobody got too friendly with them. The place was standing room only in a matter of moments.
Matt and his friends found themselves pinned into a corner, wedged between the wall and the bar. Eventually, one of the girls wriggled her way through the crowd, and Matt suddenly found himself face-to-face with an angel.
"Uh," was all he could manage to croak out as he stared at her lovely face. Curly blonde hair framed two green eyes and a button nose. She giggled when she saw him frozen there, no doubt well aware of the cause of his fitful behavior. She was carrying t-shirts and mugs with logos on them, and she held them to her breast as she was seemingly buffeted by the crowd.
"Hi," she said with an almost shy smile. "I'm Dianna."
"Well, Dianna, you can call me Ace," said Matt's sometimes-best-friend. Ace had a habit of bailing on Matt at awkward times, but he was always the life of the party, so he was easy to forgive. Matt's stomach fell when he saw Dianna turn away, toward Ace. Her eyes slid off his face, and he could almost feel the weight of her sight leaving his skin. It made him feel just a little emptier.
On this occasion, though, Ace redeemed himself for quite a few failings. "And this speechless one here is my friend, Matt," he told Dianna.
Dianna turned her thousand-watt smile back to Matt, and the butterflies that had been settling in his stomach all took flight once again.
"Hi, speechless Matt," said Dianna.
It was all Matt could do to sputter out a lame "Hi," to which Ace rolled his eyes. Dianna laughed out loud, and Matt thought the sound was the most beautiful music he had ever heard. He knew, at that moment, that he was hopelessly lost.
Later that night, loaded down with mugs, t-shirts, hats, and a neon beer sign, Matt, Ace and the rest of the crew were just about to leave. The Skyline Girls had packed up their gear, and the handlers were keeping the wolves at bay. Dianna slipped through the cordon and tucked a small piece of paper into the pocket of Matt's jeans. Without a word, she glanced just once over her shoulder, and rejoined her mates.
It took Matt a couple of days to work up the courage to call the number on the crumpled slip of paper, but finally, with the help of about four cans of brew, he managed to quell his fears long enough to dial and talk to Dianna the Skyline Angel (as he thought of her).
For their first date, Matt was going to take her to-no surprise here-a bar, but when he picked her up at her apartment, she required a little change in plans.
"Um, Matt, could we just, like, go out to get something to eat, maybe?" Dianna seemed a little embarrassed by the request.
Matt, eager to please her, said, "Sure. What kind of food do you like?"
They settled on pizza and headed out to a place away from campus, where they had an old-time sing-along, complete with a piano player and a banjo player, the lyrics to old songs projected onto a screen for all to see.
During one of the musicians' breaks, when the place quieted down enough to actually hold a conversation, Matt poured her another beer from the pitcher.
"So, why didn't you want to go to the bar tonight?" he asked.
It was a little dark in the place, but he thought she was blushing. "Because I'm only 19 and I don't have any fake IDs," she admitted.
"But you're drinking beer here," he pointed out.
She shrugged. "You bought it, they checked your ID, but not mine. I'm drinking on your say-so, but a bar with a guy at the door checking IDs would never let me in."
Matt was startled, to say the least. "But you're a Skyline City Ale Girl."
Dianna laughed. "The promotion company just wants to make sure the girls are attractive enough, and friendly enough," she said. "If we're underage to be working in a bar, they don't want to know about it. And the bouncers assume that the promotion company only hires over-21, so we never get checked."
"Oh, my lord, I'm a cradle-robber," said Matt. He didn't really mean it, though, and Dianna knew it.
She made him wait nearly forever. Actually, it was about six months, but it seemed to Matt like it was forever. He had never had a girlfriend who had strung him along so long without either Matt losing interest, or the girl finally admitting she was going to remain virginal no matter what, at which point Matt immediately said sayonara. Marriage was not the price he was willing to pay for that particular ride.
It wasn't that Dianna was a virgin. She readily admitted she wasn't. She was, however, a hopeless romantic, and to that end she wanted to feel like both of them were "in love," not merely "in lust."
And she certainly wasn't cold. Even though she wouldn't kiss him on their first date, and wouldn't even let him touch her boob under her clothes until their fifth date, once the barriers were breached she was as enthusiastic as he was. She just wanted to be sure before she allowed any further intimacies, each step of the way with its own set of requirements of affection and respect.
It was so out of the realm of experience for Matt, he found he was fascinated by the mystery of it all, and so fell even more deeply in love with her. On a cellular level, he knew he was in love with her, but on an intellectual level, he still did not realize it, and so the dichotomy was pitching within him as if he had a tuning fork embedded in his sternum. He couldn't even draw a deep breath when he was with Dianna, because that damned tuning fork was resonating, the sine waves washing through him from the ends of his hair all the way down to his toenails.
They had been going out twice a week for a month, and they were about to kick it up a notch, though at the time neither of them knew that. On this particular evening, Dianna was cooking dinner for four. Dianna's roommate, Emily, and her roommate's boyfriend, Jason, were joining Dianna and Matt for dinner.
By the time Matt got to Dianna's apartment, chaos reigned supreme. There were pots and pans on nearly every available horizontal surface in the kitchen, and there were some serious spaghetti sauce stains on the backsplash, on the walls, on the cabinets, and even on the ceiling.
"Wow, it looks like somebody was murdered in here," said Matt in awe as he surveyed the damage.
Dianna, frazzled nearly to the breaking point, stared him down. She pushed a damp, golden curl out of her eyes with the ladle she was carrying, unaware of the smear of tomato paste she was leaving on her temple. "There might be a murder taking place soon, if you don't ease up on the smart comments," she warned.
Matt held up both hands and backpedaled out of firing range. "No harm meant, kiddo," he said. Note to self: no kitchen jokes with this one, he reminded himself.
Emily grabbed his arm and pulled him away from the carnage of the kitchen, handing him a glass of wine.
"Don't pay any attention to her," she told him with a smile. "She's really quite a good cook. Just a little... messy. And a little intense."
"So I see," muttered Matt. This was a Dianna he had not expected to see.
By the time they all sat down at the card table set up in the middle of the living room, all was well. The table was nicely set, with two candles in the middle, the rest of the lights in the room dimmed. There was good, crusty garlic bread in a golden basket lined with a linen napkin. Pasta steamed on the four plates.
Matt's first forkful confirmed Emily's comment. It was homemade sauce, meaty and excellent. He was impressed and said so, which made Dianna smile. Matt watched her face illuminate with her smile and silently vowed to make that happen as often as he could.
Much later that evening, after Emily and Jason had retired to Emily's bedroom, Matt and Dianna were cuddled together on the couch watching a late movie on TV. When Bogart kissed Bacall on the screen, Dianna turned quite naturally to Matt and he bent down and kissed her.
It wasn't long before the movie was completely forgotten. They were engrossed in their kissing, concentrating on imparting desires and intents to each other. Matt's hand found its way beneath Dianna's sweater and his fingers slipped under her bra, pushing the cup off her breast as his hand caressed her soft and sensitive flesh.
After a time, she allowed him to pull her sweater up and off. She reached behind her, loosened her bra and shrugged it off. This was only the third time he had seen her naked breasts, and he thought she was the loveliest creature he had ever had the good fortune to see.
He worshipped at the altar of her breasts, licking and suckling there, feeling her nipples expand as he gently bit down. He licked the traces of salt from the undersides of her mounded flesh and loved the taste.
He put his hand on her thigh, and for the first time she didn't silently remove it. He slowly moved his hand higher until his thumb was pressing against her crotch, and still she allowed this familiarity. In fact, her legs parted just a little, a sign from her that he should continue.
And continue he did. Going very slowly and carefully, he rubbed on her through her clothes, all the while still tending to her sensitive breasts. When he could feel heat and a hint of moisture on his fingers, he lifted up his hand to her bare waist, and worked his fingers along her tummy. He felt her suck in her stomach to make room for his hand to get underneath the waistband of her cotton pants. He was able to reach down far enough to just feel the crinkly hair of her pubis.
In the meantime, Dianna also got bolder. She began rubbing the shaft of flesh in Matt's trousers. When she opened his fly, he forgot all about what he was doing and concentrated, instead, on what she was doing.
Dianna reached into his opened zipper, grasped his hard cock through his underwear, and squeezed. Matt involuntarily moaned, and she alternated squeezing and rubbing, squeezing and rubbing, until, nearly without warning, Matt's muscles contracted and he came in his underwear, making a huge wet spot.
"Oops," giggled Dianna, and took her hand away.
For the next couple of weeks, this became somewhat of a ritual for them. Toward the end of the evening together, they would conspire to find a secluded spot for themselves. Sometimes, it was either Dianna's or Matt's apartment, but roommates tended to get in the way. Sometimes, it was in a car, but it seemed too much a game for high-schoolers there.
Whenever or wherever they could, they would reenact that first time, with some progressions. Dianna by this time would boldly grasp Matt's naked member and Matt, for his part, had easy access to Dianna's pussy, so that they could mutually masturbate each other.
Finally, another big step in their relationship happened when, one night, Dianna surprised Matt by taking his cock into her mouth, sucking and licking him until he exploded. She turned her head away just as the first spurt erupted, and it hit her on the cheek. She squeaked and ducked and subsequent pulses of semen shot up into the air and landed more or less harmlessly in Matt's lap.
A week later, Dianna allowed Matt to reciprocate, and their relationship moved from mutual masturbation to mutual oral stimulation. Things were progressing and Matt, though technically still not getting the real deal, was surprisingly happy.
Another month went by, and a new milestone was reached. Emily was spending the night at Jason's apartment, and Matt and Dianna took full advantage. They played Naked Chef until an unfortunate splatter of hot grease from the broiler changed Matt's mind about cooking in the buff. Dianna laughed out loud as she put butter on his wounded penis. She watched with shining eyes as he expanded and hardened as she nursed his burn. Dianna found an apron for Matt to wear, and laughed until tears sprang from her eyes when she saw him, naked except for the apron, bending over to retrieve the steaks from the broiler.
"Hey, I didn't know we were having hot buns for dinner, too," she said, and off she went into more gales of laughter at her own joke.
Matt took it all with good grace, even though he didn't find it particularly amusing. He did like the fact that he was making her laugh, even if it was at his own expense.
Naked Dinner followed Naked Cooking, and Naked TV Watching followed Naked Dinner. Naked Oral Sex took place during Naked TV Watching, and that was followed by Naked Cuddling After. They were on the couch, holding each other, and Matt was so comfortable, he was finding it hard to stay awake.
"Hmmm?" he answered. Only from her would he put up with being called "Mattie."
"Will you stay the night?"
Well, that woke him up. And it woke up his little friend, who almost instantaneously began poking her in the small of the back.
Dianna giggled when she felt his cock twitch against her back. "I take it that's a yes," she said.
And so they repaired to her bedroom. Dianna carefully removed the stuffed panda, the stuffed rabbit, and the stuffed Raggedy Ann doll, then pulled the bedspread down and folded it at the foot of the bed. She slipped between her cool sheets, and beckoned for Matt.
As he climbed in beside her, she laid down the ground rules. She snuggled up to him, putting her arms around him in case her words stung him at all.
"I just want to feel your presence here tonight," she whispered. "Nothing more, Mattie, just sleep with me. Okay?"
"Of course okay," said Matt. And it really was.
Their existence as a couple was now established. Sometime over the past several weeks, they became exclusive. Their casual dates with others were always less important than spending time together, and the other potential lovers just seemed to slide away unnoticed.
They were regularly sleeping together, but not sleeping together. Matt stayed at Dianna's, or Dianna spent the night at Matt's, two or three nights a week. They explored each other's bodies, but the final act of consummation was yet to occur.
Since Dianna still worked many weekends, they came up with a compromise for going out: Friday night became Matt's night to go out with his friends. Saturday night he met Dianna at the place she and the other Skyline Girls were working and waited patiently while the handlers kept grimy paws off his girl as best they could. By the end of her shift, Matt was usually boiling mad at some drunken slob who was drooling over Dianna, but she was able to just laugh it off and put him back in a good mood. After all, he was the one going home with her.
On Fridays, Matt usually met up with Ace and his buddies at Archie's.
"So, dude, you and Dianna are really hot and heavy," noted Ace, a cheesy leer on his face.
Matt didn't comment. He just took a sip of his Skyline City Ale.
"Come on, Matt. She's a hottie. I'll bet she's smokin' in the sack."
"Maybe she is," said Matt. "But I don't know."
"What do you mean by that?" asked Tony, another of Matt's friends.
"We haven't done it yet."
Ace guffawed, and the others all joined in.
"You expect us to believe that?" cried Ace. "She's spent the night a few times, you said."
Matt shrugged. "We sleep together sometimes, that's all. Just sleep."
"That can't be all. Come on, Matt, out with the truth." Tony wasn't about to believe it. Standing here with his friends, Matt barely believed it, too, and yet he knew it was true.
"Man, if I had her in the sack, I'd flip her over and pound it to her so fast..." Ace said, a far-away look in his eyes.
Once upon a time, Matt would have agreed wholeheartedly. But not now. Not by a long shot.
They had been seeing each other for nearly six months when Matt took Dianna to a fancy restaurant for dinner. After the meal, Matt ordered two Brandy Ices. When the waiter brought the drinks, Matt slid his chair over closer to Dianna's.
He held his glass up in a toast. "To you, Dianna. To the girl I believe I'm falling in love with."
Dianna looked completely taken by surprise. "What did you say?" she whispered, her eyes wide in disbelief.
Matt smiled. "I think I love you," he repeated.
Tears trickled down Dianna's cheeks, but she didn't seem to notice. "I love you, too," she said softly.
They leaned across the table toward each other and tenderly kissed, their drinks forgotten. They didn't waste much more time at the restaurant and in a matter of minutes were in Matt's car, headed back toward his apartment.
They barged through the door, and didn't bother turning on any lights in the apartment. It was a small place and they both knew the way to Matt's bedroom. They tumbled to the bed, still fully clothed, and locked into a tight embrace as their lips searched and found each other's mouths. They kissed open-mouthed, tongues wrestling in a desperate dance of passion.
They were sensitive to each other's patterns, and the fumbling and niceties they had each been guilty of in the past were forgotten. This was heat, wicked and undeniable, and they were both willing participants in stoking the fires.
Clothes were practically ripped off bodies and the garments flung to the floor on either side of the bed. Matt's pants ended up in a heap at the foot of the bed, Dianna's bra landed draped across his clock radio, Matt's boxer shorts got wrapped somehow around his arm and he had to shake it off. If somebody had been secretly filming them, they would have gotten a hilarious sequence of Matt violently shaking his arm, trying to dislodge his boxers, all the while unwilling to break the suction his lips were creating with her lips. Dianna, for her part, was writhing beside Matt, working on getting his socks off his feet, contorting herself so she could continue sucking on his tongue while reaching for his dangling feet.
The happy couple didn't take the time to appreciate the humor of the scene, caught up as they were in the passion of the moment. Eventually, they were sufficiently situated and Matt, with Dianna's enthusiastic assistance, rolled on top of her, settling between her splayed legs, and found himself sliding home. No fumbling around here-his rampant cock seemed to know exactly where to go, guided like a heat-seeking missile into her moist depths. He sighed as he felt her knees bend, her ankles grip his thighs below his ass, her hips thrusting up toward him, wanting him deep. He, too, flexed, and worried briefly about whether he had the equipment to get as far inside her as she seemed to want, but those worries fluttered uselessly away when he heard her sigh, pleasure and happiness evident in her breathy voice.
It wasn't until several minutes later, when they both felt Matt's cock expand and pump his seed deep inside Dianna, that it occurred to them to worry about protection.
Uh-oh, too late, they both thought as Matt's semen splashed across Dianna's spasming walls. And still she held him to her.
They made love twice more that night, but remembered to use condoms after that first unbridled encounter. For the next few weeks, they were distracted, thinking about the possibility of pregnancy but, true to the unfolding fairy tale, their worries were all for naught. Dianna's period came right on schedule. They decided not to tempt fate again, and now that the last barrier had been breached, they made love whenever they could, uninhibitedly and safely.