"We're just two lonely people in a loving frame of mind
We're just two lonely people that need the love we found
Two lonely people..."
Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn
Written by L. E. White
I got the idea for this story from a comment I made on Bazzza's story "A Simple Case of Restitution"
WARNING: MINIMAL SEX!
Thanks to Techsan Angel Love for their help in editing this story.
Clara and I liked to travel, particularly to warm places! We would go to Mexico, usually once a year, and somewhere else once a year. We liked Mexico the best; we liked the food, and the climate and the people were always warm and friendly. We usually stayed at a nice family run place in Zihuatanejo but we heard about a new place in Ixtapa called Ocean Dreams, so we decided to give it a try.
It turned out to be very nice: right on the beach, wonderful food and large comfortable rooms. One bad thing about Mexico is that they assume people don't want to sleep together... it's almost impossible to get a queen or king size bed! Well, Clara and I like to sleep together (duh!) so we liked the place, since it had queen size beds.
Of course they gave us the somewhat obligatory time-share talk, but... this time it made sense. They had built this hotel new and had bought out two other hotel chains and were remodeling them. They were in a partnership with one of the large cruise ship lines, World Cruises. We had been on several of their cruises, and liked the line a lot!
We figured with our daughter in college and that money set aside, and the marriage fund set up (ya gotta be optimistic!) we had the money to spare and we liked the place. I was forty-five and my wife Clara five years younger.
The first day, we were lounging by the pool and were taking pictures of each other when this woman who had been several lounge chairs over walked up and offered to take our picture together. Clara smiled and said sure! She sat down and we talked a bit and it came out that she had done the time-share too, but directly through the cruise ship line.
I offered to take a couple pictures of her and send them if she gave me her email address. She looked troubled for a minute, then smiled and said sure. So I took three or four pictures of her with different backgrounds.
I jumped in the pool and started on my twenty daily laps and Clara was still talking to the woman. When I got out we went up to shower and take a short nap before lunch. I asked Clara what they talked about.
"Oh, you know, just girl talk. Her name is Jillian but she goes by Jill. We're going into Zihua this afternoon to go shopping." She smirked and continued, "Unless you would like to go shopping with us?"
"Uh, no, that's okay. I think I'll play some golf this afternoon."
I did play golf that afternoon but had to quit after twelve holes, it was just too hot and muggy! It's a shame because I was shooting three under on a tough course! It's too bad that I was playing by myself 'cause no one will believe me. I went back and went straight to the pool. I have really grown to love swim up bars! The water was warm and the beer was ice cold.
I sat there on the stool and watched the young lovelies playing volleyball in the pool, trying to keep their breasts in their skimpy bikini tops as they jumped up and down! (In a fit of denial the previous year I had tried joining in and had a sore back for six months!)
Clara came down and we went to the beach and sat under a palapa, dozing and reading with intermittent interludes of chasing the waves and drinking Margaritas. We were pretty smart about not getting too much sun.
We had a lot of fun; the sex on the big bed was wonderful and wonderfully frequent! Clara is very passionate but she needs the right setting to really unwind. We were doing lots of unwinding and felt very close to each other. One day she teased me about making another baby but I'm sure she was just teasing. I'm pretty sure...
She did go out with Jill a couple of times and the three of us met once for lunch and once for dinner. Jill seemed somewhat off; I couldn't put my finger on it. It did come out that she was separated from her husband and had been for some time. She was a little younger than Clara, around thirty-five and had twin daughters that were twelve. I asked Clara, but she just shook her head and said she would tell me about it when we got home. When she says that with a serious look on her face, I know not to pursue it.
On the way home I managed to wrangle first-class seats. After a couple glasses of wine Clara told me about Jillian.
"We became pretty good friends; you know I'm a good listener and Jill needed someone to talk to. She is going through a very hard time! She and her family live in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Her husband, Regent, is from an old-line Boston family. They still have the name, and they have money, but nothing like they used to. About six months ago her husband was traveling to New York on business. Jill's neighbor told her she would be glad to take care of the girls if Jill wanted to pop down to New York to see her husband.
"Jill was really excited about it. She knew he was there on business, but maybe they could get away for a show. So she flew down and went to the hotel, the Astoria. The desk was quite gracious and gave her a key. She went up to the room and found Regent in bed with his roommate from Dartmouth who had never married! She stared at them for a minute and then cleared her throat and quietly asked her husband where to send his stuff. Two weeks later she heard that he had moved in with Jerry.
"It's still not resolved because her lawyer is negotiating with his parents' lawyers, and you know how that goes!"
I could only say, "Wow!" as I thought how nice Jill had looked in her two-piece swimsuit and how stupid her husband must be!
She turned towards me with her hand on my cheek and said somewhat fiercely, "Mike! If anything ever happens to me I want you to keep taking these vacations. I do not want you sitting at home mourning forever!"
I didn't really know what to say, I'd never seen her like this. I tried to make a joke out of it, "Clara, you know you'll be around for years after I get what's coming to me!"
She grabbed my arm and held it fiercely, "Dammit, Michael! I'm serious! Listen to me! If anything happens to me I want you to find someone like Jillian and make her happy!"
When she said Michael, I knew she was really serious. She hadn't called me that in years. I didn't try to say anything; I just pulled her close and hugged her. The stewardess came by with dinner and broke the mood.
We got home and when I had a chance I downloaded the pictures onto my iMac. I tend to be a procrastinator, so Clara makes me do it right away, down to creating a DVD slideshow of each trip. She is well organized! I looked at the pictures of Jill and thought she looked pretty good. Not as pretty as Clara, but there was a look of peace and sadness that was very attractive. She filled out the swimsuit nicely. I put the pics in a folder for Clara to email to Jill.
I was a writer. I had been a foreign journalist for a few years but after almost getting killed in a riot in Indonesia I decided to be a writer. I mostly wrote historical fiction — as much as anything I loved the research. My editor talked me into trying some romance stories... actually I made money at them.
It didn't feel right, writing romance novels after having been a top notch journalist. Then my editor suggested I try writing historical romance novels! It was great! I felt better about what I was doing: I got to do the research and they sold like hotcakes. I never realized how many women had a fantasy of being taken to a pirates cabin and ravished! Clara read the first draft of the first one and made me ravish her on the living room sofa... so maybe there is something to it.
I also wrote some editorials on current events... places I had been to and had kept up to date with events. I would do the sporadic travel article just for fun. All in all I enjoyed it and it allowed us to set some money aside and feel comfortable.
Clara had been a pediatric surgical nurse, but when I quit being a journalist she quit. She hated seeing the pain and suffering of the little ones each day. She did continue to do some volunteer work, but mostly she puttered around in her garden or worked on her watercolors. She had studied art in college and mostly did flowers. We had them all over our walls. To be honest, I liked them a lot!
Our daughter, Amanda, came home for the summer and we moved on with our lives. We lived in a very nice house in the Mark West Springs area, just north of Santa Rosa. It was a little rural and high on a hill with a great view of the Russian River Valley. Mandy was going to Chico State and had just finished her junior year. We were having a lot of fun together; one night we drove down to Sausalito, took the ferry across the bay and went to Tadich Grill in San Francisco, which had always been one of our favorites!
About a week after Mandy came home Clara asked me, "Did Mandy tell you about her boyfriend?"
I snorted, "You know the father is always the last to know!"
Well, it turned out that our little girl was on the verge of getting engaged and I should expect a young man to show up next week to ask her hand in marriage! They had it all planned out. They were going to get married and then go to Stanford: Mandy for a master's degree in Microbiology and Phil for the Medical School.
Summer was fun. Phil did stop by and I was surprised at how much I liked him. He was a serious kid with a droll sense of humor. I saw nothing but happiness on the horizon! Then life hit me like a ton of bricks!
The Loneliness Begins
Clara went to the store to get some milk... and never came back. Some asshole picked her car to use to commit suicide — at seventy miles an hour. And I was sitting at home waiting on her; we were fixing dinner together...
The store was less than a mile away, maybe a 10 minute round trip. Thirty minutes had gone by... okay; I'll call her cell. Nothing.
I got in the car, turned onto the highway... half-mile later red lights, fire trucks, police cars, people standing around. A large pickup, F250, was in the ditch, a mess. Clara's Miata, her beloved little Miata, it was black, glossy black, but... glossy no more!
Her car was in two parts. He had hit her broadside on the driver's door as she was going around "Karl's Curve." Karl Jurgen was the first of the seven crosses at the side of the road. Clara's would be the eighth.
I stood there, face ashen, crying, not able to move. My legs were shaking; I felt cold, the scene had an icy grip on my heart.
An officer with a peaked cap walked over to me, a question on his face. I lifted my hand towards the remains of Clara's car — the engine where Clara should have been...
I woke up in the hospital, drowsy, eyes heavy. The door opened and a tall, gawky, lanky, somewhat stone-faced nurse came in, glanced at me then at the heart monitor. She looked back at me, nodded sadly and left. I drifted off, something nagging at the back of my mind, something dark.
Later, maybe sunset from the rosy glow on the window, the door opened. A woman in doctor's regalia stepped in. Dispassionately, distantly my mind noticed that she was an attractive red head, freckles dusted across her nose.
She moved over to the bed, and smiled, more turning the corners of her lips up than a real smile. "I'm Doctor O'Connell. How do you feel?"
I tried to answer, my throat felt full of gravel. "Water," I ground out.
She poured a glass from the pitcher at the side of the bed, and helped me drink a few swallows.
Trying again, I managed "Groggy. I feel... lethargic." That last was hard to get out.
"You have been under sedation for two days. When you arrived at the emergency room you were diagnosed as having had a heart attack. When I got a chance to look closer, I found that you had a condition called Stress Cardiomyopathy, literally 'Broken Heart Syndrome.' It's not near as serious as a heart attack, but we do want to keep you for observation for a couple days. We'll talk more about it when you are feeling a little better."
"Clara, something about Clara... where is she?"
A pained look on her face, her eyes misty, she took my hands. "Mister Andrews. Michael, Clara is... Clara is gone."
Clara, where did she go? Why wasn't she here with me? A shocking image flashed in my mind — Clara's car a shambles, Clara... There was an eerie, shocking scream echoing in my ears as the Doctor reached for a hypodermic needle.
There was a glow on the window, not rosy, a reflection? Dawn? It was quiet as only a hospital can be during the early morning hours. I saw the water on the stand and was able to reach for a glass. Staring at the ceiling, mind empty, my eyelids slowly closed.
Later a girl, maybe sixteen, looking unconsciously young, and wearing a red and white-striped dress entered, a tray in her hands. She had copper colored hair and blue-green eyes. With a beautiful smile only the young can get away with, she asked "Would you like some breakfast? The Doctor, Doctor Erin, said it was okay."
"Please," I mumbled, and then again, with more force, "Please, I'm very hungry."
Grinning at me, she sat the tray down and turned to leave.
She stopped, and turned back. "I'm Cynthia, Cindy really."
"Cindy, could you sit with me for a bit? Do you have to leave? I don't want to be alone!"
"Let me check with the nurse's station."
She stepped out and was back in a few seconds.
I started eating, yogurt and a cold banana, also a cold piece of unbuttered toast.
Cindy started talking about herself: school, boyfriend, learning to drive, her younger brother, school some more, her science lab.
Then she looked at me, maybe a little embarrassed, "Oh! I'm just chattering on! I'm sorry."
Trying to smile, I said, "No, it's okay. Please stay as long as you can."
Later she left and I was alone. For the first time since I collapsed at the crash site, I was alert and feeling normal, physically anyway. "Clara," I pleaded. "Clara, why so sudden? I didn't get a chance to say goodbye!"
I finally let it go and started sobbing. It must have done something to the heart monitor, because the doctor came running in. Looking at me she took out her stethoscope and moving the top of my gown over, put it on my chest. My mind registered, almost unconsciously, that she had a wedding ring on. But then so did I, feeling its weight on my hand. My ring! Clara's ring!
"Michael... is it okay if I call you that?"
I nodded, trying to wipe the tears away with my sleeve.
"You can call me Erin. You have received a couple of major shocks. Your wife died and you saw the accident. That was a serious shock to your system and then you had the Stress Cardiomyopathy. You had some underlying problems that I will get to in a minute, but first, do you have any questions?"
Taking a drink of water I asked, "What about my daughter?"
"We got hold of her right away and she will be here later tonight."
I nodded, but didn't say anything.
"Next are the funeral services. I understand everything is set up for the day after tomorrow, Friday. I see you look confused. Well, I took the liberty of talking to your pastor. He came to the hospital yesterday. He knew about Clara's accident and wanted to know how you were. He's a great guy — he frequently pulls chapel service here."
"You should be feeling much better tomorrow... I'm sorry! I didn't mean to be insensitive! I was talking about your medical condition."
Smiling a little, she continued "I'm sure you haven't noticed, but you have gained a few pounds over the years. One more day of our food and that will be all gone! You have mildly elevated blood pressure, your cholesterol is a little high and you have a leaky heart valve."
I guess I must have looked concerned, because she shook her head.
"No, it's not that bad! It's early days really with most of this. The Stress Cardiomyopathy is caused by intense physical or emotional stress, which sometimes can cause a rapid and severe heart muscle weakness. It is fairly rare for men to have this, but the emotional shock of seeing the wreck was more than your body could handle. It can be life threatening but it does improve rapidly in most cases.
"You are coming along quite well. At this time I recommend talking to your regular doctor about the blood pressure and cholesterol. My recommendation is that you treat it with diet and exercise. We also have several classes here at the hospital that would help — they are more lifestyle classes."
"Can I get up? I feel so stiff!"
"Sure, I'll get Marge, the nurse, to walk around with you. She'll be in shortly."
A little later, the nurse came in and helped me up. She put me in a wheel chair and rolled me out to the balcony at the end of the hall. Helping me up we walked back and forth in the afternoon sun.
"Marge, that is your name, isn't it?"
Looking down at her nametag, she laughed and said, "Yeah, it must be," as she pointed at the tag.
"Do you know Doctor McConnell?"
"Oh, sure. She's been here for about five years. She came from Massachusetts General when her husband died. It was really sad. He provided a kidney for his brother but somehow caught an infection and died of septic shock. We all really love her. The other doctors are all kind of stuck on themselves but she makes us call her Erin!"
Not knowing how to respond to that, I didn't say anything.
"You know, that was really strange the way she took care of getting hold of your daughter and setting up the funeral arrangements for your wife. I've never seen her do that before!"
After she took me back to the room I lay, thinking about Clara. I could feel the tears welling in my eyes but I didn't wipe them off. After twenty-one years of marriage she was so much a part of me that the future looked bleak. It was so quick, so sudden that I hadn't had a chance to adjust. I felt empty. I turned my head into the pillow, the tears dropping down one by one, making a wet spot on the pillow.
I must have dozed off, for Cindy, the volunteer candy striper, was gently touching my shoulder.
"Mister Andrews, Doctor Erin asked me to wake you up. Marge will be in shortly to walk around with you again and then I'll bring you lunch."
I wound up out on the balcony with Marge again. This time we talked a little longer. She did say that I would probably be released the next day around noon, as soon as the doctor made her rounds.
Lunch was better, I never did find out why. Cindy stayed and kept me company while I ate. I asked her about why the food was so much better, and she just smiled.
Cindy told me, "My mom and I are from Boston and I've been looking at colleges in New England. I still have family back there!"
Looking at her more closely, it dawned on me: "Is Doctor Erin your mom?"
"Yeah! I thought everyone knew. When my dad, Joseph, died she was really sad staying in the area with so many reminders of him. That's why we moved out here."
We talked for a while then she got up to go. "Bye, Mister Andrews. I'll bring your dinner up later."
"Cindy, please call me Michael! You make me feel like I'm so old that I'm at death's door!"
"Okay, Mich... Michael! It sounds funny but I don't want you to feel old!" Cindy giggled!
And you know what? I grinned at her! I was grieving but I could still smile! I would have to think about that!
I slept for most of the afternoon and when Cindy brought my dinner in Mandy was with her. She came up and put her arms around me and we both cried for a while. We didn't talk much as I ate my dinner; I think we were both still in a bit of shock.
The next morning Doctor Erin released me for checkout and said she was sending a note to my regular doctor for follow-up. Cindy wheeled me out to the car and Mandy drove me home.
The funeral went by in a blur and a week later Mandy went back to school. She wanted to take the semester off but I insisted I would be okay. The truth was I wanted to be alone with my pain. Mandy had cleaned out most of Clara's stuff... although seeing her empty closet seemed worse than the way it had been. It seemed like I couldn't focus on anything but I knew I had to. There was a lot of paper work, friends of hers to notify, bank accounts, etc.
Some days were better, some days worse. I tried drink but I was afraid of it so I limited myself to one glass of wine when I was by myself. One day I was cleaning up Clara's files on the computer, deciding what to keep, and what to delete. I logged on to her email account to see what I had to do there. The business emails I handled as needed; most were from department stores or such — I just closed those accounts.
I went through her personal emails and responded to everything telling them of her death. Most of them were people I didn't know so I deleted them from the address book. Ones from common friends I added to my own address book. There was a long email from Jillian. It recapped what Clara had told me on the plane and she said she was filing for divorce. At the end she told Clara that she wasn't sure why she felt comfortable enough to share this with her but she wanted to. I replied, telling her about Clara's death and apologizing for reading her highly personal note. I kept her email address and we corresponded periodically.
I'd lost about ten pounds since Clara died, but my doctor was nagging me to exercise more. I used to swim competitively in high school and college but other than our vacations I hadn't swam in years. I finally joined a health club that was really nice, located near the Sonoma County Airport. After a month I joined the Master's swim group and started swimming seriously. I lost the few pounds more that I needed to lose and a few more. I was getting in shape quickly and lost a couple inches off my waist and added them to my chest and shoulders. Physically I was feeling good and, according to my daughter, looking good.
I had trouble writing for a while but finally got started again. I wrote a travel article for the Travel section of the SF Chronicle about Ixtapa and the new hotel we had stayed at — it was funny: I got a letter from them offering me a free week! I also wrote a short story about dealing with grief after the sudden demise of a loved one. This was going to be published in The New Yorker. Writing this story was very cathartic for me and I began dealing with my own grief!
Some days were very dark for me, I felt like giving up. On these days I would go for a long drive, maybe along the coast, and I would feel better. Mandy would call me a couple times a week. She came down for Thanksgiving with her dorm mate and the house was lively and sunny for a week. I told Mandy I was going to sell my time-share, but she talked me out of it. I had told her what Clara had said about continuing to travel. She was going to bring Phil home for Christmas.
I got a nice card from Erin for Thanksgiving. She offered condolences again for Clara and hoped I'd recovered okay. Cindy sent me a Christmas card that was funny with all of her goings on. I wasn't looking forward to Christmas — that was always a special time of year for Clara and I. Mandy and Phil came and the house was filled with light again. I hadn't done the tree so she got after me for that. The more I saw of Phil, the more I liked him. He seemed very mature and levelheaded. They were clearly in love so I felt better about Mandy's future.
There was going to be a big dinner dance at the Country Club. Mandy thought she would have to twist my arm, but I had continued to play golf and had a lot of friends there. The three of us arrived a little late... people were just walking in to the dining room. We got to the edge of the dance floor and saw Erin and Cindy at a table by themselves. Cindy jumped up and before anyone realized it she had us sitting at their table. We did the intros and sat down and relaxed a bit. I wound up sitting next to Erin.
She turned to me and apologized, "I'm sorry for Cindy dragging you over here. You probably had plans to sit elsewhere. She's just so impulsive!"
I smiled and replied, "Yeah, I know! It's okay, it's actually good — I wasn't looking forward to sitting with any of the couples that were our close friends. Besides I can't think of three lovelier ladies to sit with than the three at this table!" I was looking at Mandy and Cindy as I said this last.
Mandy laughed and Cindy blushed as I turned back to Erin, "I didn't know you belonged to the club?"
"Yes, we joined because of Cindy's tennis. She is on the varsity at school and I wanted her to get more regular competition. She likes to play against the boys. Outside of serves, she plays most of them fairly even."
We had dinner and the conversation was nice. Everyone seemed in a good mood. When the dancing started Phil and Mandy jumped up right away. I was watching them, wishing Clara was here to see her dance with her future husband when I felt someone tapping on my arm.
Cindy was pulling my chair back and said, "You promised me the first dance!"
I good-naturedly stood up and bowed to her, "Miss O'Connell, may I have the pleasure of this dance?" and led her out to the floor.
As I looked back I could see Erin laughing at us. It was fun and Cindy was still a chatterbox.
When we got back, I bowed to Erin and asked, "Mrs. O'Connell, may I have the pleasure of this dance?"
She was laughing again, her green eyes sparkling, as I led her to the floor. It was a slow number, one that Clara and I always enjoyed dancing to. A couple of tears came to my eyes and I turned my head away.
Erin wiped my tears away with her thumb and whispered, "It's really hard, isn't it? It's been five years since Joseph died and I still can't accept that he's gone."
She stepped in a little closer and we finished the dance. The rest of the evening was fun... it was good for me to get out.
I went into San Francisco with Phil and Mandy for New Year's Eve. I really didn't want to go, but Mandy wouldn't take no for an answer. It was nice to see how close Phil and Mandy were getting. I wondered briefly if they were sleeping together and immediately decided it wasn't my business. I just wanted her happy, and except for missing her mom she clearly was very happy!
I took Erin to the opera and dinner in San Francisco and had dinner at her house a couple of times. We seemed to be getting closer but neither of us were ready to move very fast. I really enjoyed being with Cindy though. She clearly liked me a lot and we would talk about everything under the sun. It was amazing the things she was interested in! I played tennis with her one time at the club and that was enough for me; she killed me and made me feel my age!
Erin invited me to the Valentine's dance at the club; Cindy was there with the number one boys tennis player from her high school. He was the one boy that dominated her in tennis! I think that's why she liked him. We danced a lot and I had more fun than I expected. On the last dance Erin and I were moving around on a slow number and I felt her moving me to a corner. When we were in a little alcove she stopped and kissed me on the cheek.
She pulled back a little and said, "Mike, I know how hard it is for you! Not a day goes by that I don't grieve for my husband. I want to be honest with you: I like being with you; I really enjoy your company and Cindy likes you a lot. I know you aren't ready for anything serious and I'm not either. Can we continue to see each other... to be something more than friends, but..."
I looked at her and tilted my head down and kissed her nose, "Erin... sure! I do like you guys a lot and I enjoy being with you. Hell, Erin — I need to be with you. I don't know if whatever we have is going anywhere but I don't want to lose it. How about I fix dinner next week and Cindy can bring Josh. I cook a mean Osso Bucco!"
Erin leaned into me and we finished the dance. Josh took Cindy home and Erin and I went into the bar for an Irish coffee. We chatted amiably, and I noticed again how attractive she was. She had tight curly red hair that she wore short. It was so curly it was almost kinky. At some subconscious level that I couldn't control I wondered if her bush was that same red, kinky hair! I took her on home and we continued seeing each other off and on.
In April I went back to Ixtapa to the Ocean Dreams. This was the free week they had offered me. When I checked in the clerk gave me a message from the manager. He wanted to take me to dinner the next night at a really nice Italian place by the Marina in Ixtapa. I was taken to my room and found they had put me in a suite! It looked great, but the journalist in me wondered what the catch was.
It turned out that they wanted me to write articles for their publicity campaign. It seemed it wouldn't be anything too complex and they — the Managing Director was there too — offered me an interesting deal. In return for the articles they would give me thirty days free at any of their hotels and one cruise each year. In addition they wanted me to be their guest of honor on their inaugural cruise in the Mediterranean in the fall, right before Labor Day.
It was a no-brainer for me. I had the time and I didn't need the money. They were offering expenses and meals. We shook hands and they said they would give me a contract for signing the next day. As I left I saw Jillian with two girls. I stopped to say hello and she introduced me to her twin daughters: this trip was a present for their thirteenth birthday. I wound up sitting with them for dessert and coffee.
They were going in to Zihuatanejo the next morning shopping and invited me to come with them. I went back to the hotel with them in a taxi and walked them to their room. I'd had fun and I was somewhat surprised by it. I went back to the room and read some of the publicity stuff they gave me at dinner and started looking it over; writing down some notes.
The next afternoon I saw Jillian down on the beach sitting under a palapa and asked, "Can I join you, Jill?"
"She smiled and answered, "Sure! And if you can keep these sand fleas from biting me I'll buy you dinner!" as she showed me dozens of angry red bites around her ankles.
"Is that a promise?"
"She said, "Absolutely!"
I reached down and took her hand and pulled her up. "Come on, let's go up by the pool!"
"Wait a minute! That's cheating!"
"I laughed, and answered, "No, it's not! If you get any bites up there I'll buy dinner at the restaurant of your choice!"
Somehow she convinced me that there was one new bite out of the dozens of bites she already had. I knew I was being had but I didn't really care. I was starting to be attracted to Jill. She had a pretty, very brief bikini and I hadn't realized how horny I was! I suddenly realized it was a year since Clara had died and a year since I had any real sex. By "real" I mean I don't count my own pathetic efforts.
I did take her to dinner; in fact, I wound up taking most of my meals with her or with her and her daughters. I spent a lot of time with her around the pool and by the end of the week we were playing a little grab-ass, you know, "accidentally" touching under water while playing volleyball (yes, she talked me into it!) or falling down in the surf. I could tell she was attracted to me. Her daughters mostly seemed to just accept me, or put up with me. It was hard to tell with thirteen year olds.
By the end of the week we were doing some kissing and light petting in the water at night. It's hard not to with a woman that exudes sex and is wearing a bikini! But nothing serious really happened and we parted fairly casually.
I did have another meeting with the Managing Director and signed the contract and lay out some specific plans. I was getting excited — I didn't realize how bored I was! I actually started writing while I was there — I never travel without my iBook. I gave Alejandro a couple drafts of write-ups and he liked them a lot!
I went home feeling slightly guilty that I had been unfaithful to Erin. But nothing had really happened so I was able to convince myself that I had done nothing wrong. I continued with Erin the way that we had been: dinners, opera or a couple plays at the Orpheum in San Francisco. One or the other of us would fix dinners. Summer was better because I could grill outside. I was good at it and I had that spectacular view.
One evening after grilling a Chateaubriand and drinking a nice Alexander Valley cab from Stryker Sonoma we were watching the sunset over the Russian River Valley. It was really spectacular since there was a dense layer of fog at the lower levels. As we stood there I put my arm around her and she tensed up and turned and said she had to leave pretty soon. I guess women have this sixth sense, since I hadn't said anything. We were seeing each other a little less frequently. Erin kept saying how busy she was. I was thinking, "She doth protest too much!"
I don't know what would have happened if things hadn't come to a climax at that inaugural Med cruise of World Cruises. The cruise started and ended in Barcelona, with stops in Marseilles, Genoa, Naples, Palermo, Tunis, and Palma de Mallorca. I was spending three nights in Spain afterward: I was going to the Rioja district. I had always enjoyed the wines from there and wanted to write a travel article about the area.
They were true to their word and gave me a stateroom with a large balcony. There was even a spa in the bathroom. I was unused to this kind of luxury. The Captain would move from table to table, but I was a guest at the officer's table. The food was incredible and they had some really nice wines. It was fun talking to the officers and each of them set up a tour of their domain and responsibilities.
When I went to breakfast the next morning I saw Jillian sitting alone. I was a little surprised but I guess I shouldn't have been. I knew she was a member and everyone had been offered special prices for this inaugural cruise in the Med. She looked up and saw me so I walked on over and sat with her. It was nice to see her and I guess I was pouting a little over some perceived slight from Erin, so I gave her a kiss on the cheek and a big hug. I could feel her breasts pushing into me.
We ate together and had fun catching up on what the other had been doing. At the first stop in Marseilles we went into town. We didn't take the scheduled tour; I guess we instinctively wanted to be alone. I had been there a number of times so I hired a taxi for the day and showed her the sights that tourists don't see. We had a great lunch at a small place I knew of. Jill said it was the best food she had ever had in a restaurant. The great wine might have had something to do with that.
That night I invited her to my suite for dinner. I'd asked the ship's officer in charge of all the restaurants and he said I could do that... just to give him a call. We had a light, simple meal, Coq au Vin, with a nice Alsace Gewürztraminer. It was chilled just right with a very clean taste and just a hint of sweetness on the finish. Dessert was great as it almost always is on cruise ships.
After dinner we sat on my balcony as we steamed towards Genoa. We finished the Gewürtz and I opened a bottle of Martell Cognac Cordon Bleu that the managing director of Ocean Dreams had sent aboard as part of a welcome basket. We took our time with a glass of that wonderfully soft and fragrant brandy and somehow wound up in the spa with the second. We disrobed naturally as if we had been married twenty years!
As we stepped into the spa, the jets swirling the hot water, I had a flashback to that last plane ride I'd made with Clara. I could feel the pressure of her hand on my arm as she had implored me to continue with my life if anything happened to her. I felt sad; I slid closer to Jill.
Jillian was even more spectacular nude than she had been with a swimsuit. I would venture that most women need clothes and makeup to look their best, but she had neither and looked wonderful! Her breasts had only a slight sag and were what I would call medium-sized. I've never understood all that number and A-B-C-D mumbo jumbo. I guess it's the same way I felt about art... if I liked it I liked it! And I liked what I saw!
She had a pretty well-defined tan line and her breasts were a creamy white. Her areolas were darker than I would have thought, and her nipples looked like she had been nursing. Totally erotic and I couldn't pass them up. No, I didn't get any milk, but damn, it wasn't from lack of trying. Jill had a passion for love wholly unexpected by me. We started in the spa with us taking turns with oral sex and then moved to the large queen sized bed.
Loving Jill was totally different than with Clara and that helped me make the transition. Jillian was very vocal in her orgasms and seemed to have a lot of them. I told myself that this was due to my skill as a lover but I'm sure I realized she was just that way. What did surprise me was how affectionate she was. During that first long night together she was continually petting me... touching me intimately, rubbing my back and arms and kissing me lightly almost any place handy. It did make me feel special.
We were together most of the trip and every night. I was afraid I was slacking on my agreement with Ocean Dreams but I couldn't feel bad about it. I figured I'd have to come back on my own nickel and pick up what I'd missed.
We grew quite close together and established an intimacy that astonished me. I felt the first twinges of love and tried to understand it. The last night I hinted at that with Jillian.
"I've really enjoyed this time together, Jill! I probably shouldn't say this, but I'm surprised how quickly you have moved into my heart!"
She looked a little surprised, maybe startled, and answered, "I've really had fun too, Michael. I hope we can meet on vacation again."
I guess I was expecting something more than that; I'm not sure what. I guess in light of what happened later I should have paid more attention. We said our goodbyes when we docked back in Barcelona, she to head to the airport and me to Rioja.