Chapter 1: Meetings
Caution: This Drama Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Slow, Violent,
Desc: Drama Sex Story: Chapter 1: Meetings - A sequel to "The End of Summer". Two middle-aged people find one another, while dealing with the issues in their lives that led to their loneliness.
"What am I doing looking at shirts in a department store? I don't need any shirts."
Paul hated stores, but he hated airports more. It was just something to kill the time before leaving for Midway Airport. He had his overnight bag over his shoulder and briefcase in his hand. He looked around for a coffee shop, but didn't find one.
"I'll look at the ties, instead."
The meeting in Chicago hadn't gone as well as Paul expected. The contractor was supposed to be ready and the state regulators should have been on board. There were still a lot of loose ends and loose cannons. No one had done their homework. It would mean more commutes to Chicago than he had time for. It's not that he disliked the Windy City. The restaurants were the best; the population the friendliest. It was easier to root for the Bears than the hapless Lions. It was the commute that irritated him: the puddle-jumper from Saginaw, the switch in Detroit, the taxi ride from O'Hare or Midway to downtown Chicago.
"Comes with the job," he thought to himself. "I asked for it—I got it!"
He thumbed through the display of ties. He knew that he wasn't going to buy anything. He replenished his tie supply by waiting for occasions like his birthday and Fathers' Day. There had been a time when his wife, Sally, had taken care of his ties ... and shirts, and everything else. But...
"I hate this. I'm just going through the motions."
He was doing that a lot more than he would like, lately. That's why he sought the job he had. There was no going through the motions in it. After Sally's death he needed something to dive into. This position was just the ticket, and he was well-qualified, too.
There was a voice in the background. At first, he didn't acknowledge it because he hadn't expected any strangers to call him by name. The voice called again, and seemed insistent and confident he should answer, so he turned to see who it was.
"Paul—Paul Crane?" the voice called again.
A woman, about his age, looked at him with an expectant expression on her face. She was thin, wore glasses. She had red hair with a few gray streaks in it. Some might say that she was a little plain-looking, but certainly neat and well-put-together. Paul thought she looked vaguely familiar.
"You don't recognize me—it's Glenda Mahoney!"
"Who in hell is Glenda Mahoney?" he asked himself, but stopped before saying it out loud.
He heard a distant voice calling from his youth. Paul's mind's eye was driven back to a hot summer afternoon many years ago.
"Glenda! I don't believe that I'm looking at you. What are doing here? You look great—it's so nice to see you!" Paul clasped her hand, absorbing the pleasant surprise.
"I'm very happy to see you, Paul. I live in Chicago. I should ask you what you're doing here."
"Commuting," he replied. "I live in Michigan. I work for a chemical company up there. We had a meeting in Chicago today. Right now, I'm just killing time before my flight home. I'd much rather spend it with you going over old times."
"I can't," she told him. "It would be nice if I could, but I'm late getting back to the office already. Maybe if you get back this way..."
"I'll be here in two weeks for a return meeting. Can I call you then?"
She gave him some information that he wrote in his daybook.
"It was nice seeing you, Paul. I've got to run."
She turned, hurrying out the door. Paul watched her disappear. He had wondered what had happened to Glenda, the enigmatic girl who initiated him in a wooded grove thirty-six years ago. Maybe he would find out her story.
"Actually, we initiated each other," he smiled to himself.
Paul had no appetite left for shopping. He left the store and caught a cab to the airport.
Paul didn't mind the long trip back this time. The chance encounter with Glenda gave him a lot to think about. He dusted off the old memory. She followed him into a pine grove, where they lay on a blanket on a hot August afternoon and gave each other their innocence. It was during the summer after they graduated from high school together. After that, they went separate ways.
He wondered on what path Glenda's life had led her. From the few moments he saw her he surmised that life had treated her well. But, who was he to know? As the turbo-prop bumped along the clouds, Paul ambled down memory lane. A few days after his encounter with Glenda, he rode off to State University. He played football and studied chemical engineering. He turned out to be pretty good at both.
Paul still worked for the same company that paid his way through grad school. He was named Vice-President of Engineering in the preceding year. It was a job that suited him. He had high professional standards; he was determined; he was a good leader.
At fifty-four he didn't have much to do, except his job. The kids were away at college. Five years earlier Sally, his wife of twenty-five years had been killed by a hit and run driver. It was all work for him after that.
Aside from that first time with Glenda, Sally had been the only woman Paul had ever been with. He seldom pondered why he had less experience than many. A person speculating on the subject would easily guess wrong. Paul still had good looks and an athlete's physique. His football fame brought him celebrity. Those factors, and the casual sex mores of the seventies, would make one assume that Paul had many bed partners during his college years.
That may have been the norm, but Paul didn't fit the mold of the norm. Studies and sports gave him little free time. In those days Paul's inclination was to keep to himself. He was well-spoken when called upon, but shunned casual small talk. He parsed and analyzed layers of meaning in every encounter. People respected Paul, but, except for a few close friends, it was hard to get close to him in those days. Sally later helped him soften the edges. It was only one of the reasons he missed her so much...
Many of those close to him hoped Paul would search out a female companion after Sally's death. Paul ignored their hinting and good intentions. He still wore his wedding band five years after the sad event. No one would ever take Sally's place. Paul was reverting to some of his old ways. An intimate relationship with emotional limits was too complex to ponder; his deepest emotions were still reserved for Sally, though he knew that Sally would be encouraging him. She had always enjoyed sex, and taught Paul to enjoy it, too. He could hear her lecturing him.
"Paul, you still have the looks, the shape, your health and plenty of money. You are only fifty-four years old. Find a woman that wants some fun, and have some fun with her."
It was the right advice, of course. Perhaps the medicine was less palatable than the pain. The plane was about to touch down for a landing, so he had to bring his mind back to the present.
"Oh, for crissake," he realized all of a sudden, "how could I ask Glenda for a date without even asking her first if she's married?"
He was trapped.
"I shouldda thought of this. I'm better off keeping to what I know best."
It was noon on a Wednesday. Paul felt the meeting skidding into oblivion. The men from the State Environmental Agency were just not getting the picture. Perhaps it was a chosen recalcitrance. All their concerns had been resolved, but the go-ahead on the plant was not forthcoming. It was not a complicated project: a plant to produce solvents used in the metals industry. Paul's company had a good environmental record, and the plan passed all the tests, and better. It wasn't even going to be built in Chicago; it was just a good meeting place for all the parties. The site was in a smaller city about one hundred fifty miles to the southwest.
The local city fathers were all for the new plant because of the new jobs and added tax base. Paul guessed that the State guys just wanted to roll into the Windy City every few weeks for a restaurant tour disguised as a meeting, funded by expense accounts. Springfield was very nice, but it wasn't Chicago.
"Gentlemen, what more data can we give you?" Paul asked. "We've satisfied your every request. You're still not in agreement. We have no idea at this point what your acceptance criteria are."
The lead man from the State straightened up.
"Actually, Mr. Crane, we have asked Dr. Arthur Hopkins from Concerned Scientists of America to consult with us. He won't be available until Monday. Maybe we should adjourn until then."
There it was! One sentence revealed all that months of meetings had left a mystery. It told Paul what he had to do. All the studies, reports and data in the world would not move the mountain until he dealt with the great Dr. Hopkins.
Arthur Hopkins presented himself as an activist scientist, his real job was as designated spear-chucker for a major competitor of Paul's company, Montgomery Chemical. When the new facility went on line, it would give Paul's company a big advantage because of lower transportation costs to the market. It was Hopkins' job to delay, diminish or halt the new plant. He would roll out one study after another that showed some environmental or safety concern.
To Paul, Hopkins was the king of junk science. The only question was whether the State men were in the pocket of the competitor, too, or along for the ride in a c-y-a exercise. Paul thought the later, but kept his mind open on the former.
After the State men left, Paul spoke to Harry Carmichael, owner of the General Contractor for the project, who had been at the meeting, too.
"Oh, no," Harry lamented, "not Hopkins!"
"You worry too much, Harry," Paul assured him. "I've dealt with Hopkins before. I know how to handle this."
"I'm listening," Harry replied.
"Get the Peoria Mayor and a couple of Council members to the Monday meeting;" Paul ordered, "and the State Senator from the locale, as well. Brief them—keep them on board. I'll get our research people to free up some resources and get a professor from the University to support us. We'll have that permit soon."
"Will do," Carmichael agreed.
"The Peoria folks will put political pressure on the State guys to get off the dime. The University professor will balance off Hopkins' PhD. My staff will roll out studies that will surpass Hopkins' wildest dreams. Montgomery will only pay for Hopkins' fees and studies until the cost of keeping the charade going is more than the costs of lost business."
"That sounds expensive," Harry warned.
"I'm a VP; I have the authority to sign the tab," Paul assured him. "It will be worth it if we can send Hopkins running with his tail between his legs. There'll be dividends down the road on other projects.
"You're calling the shots," Harry said. "It won't be pleasant."
"True enough," Paul admitted, "but the end is in sight. It will go on for a few more months. But look, Hopkins is always the last bullet in the chamber. When we brush him aside, they'll be ready to give up."
Harry grimaced and then shrugged.
"I hate doing business this way. It would be nice to keep things professional. I didn't call the tune. I'm only dancing to their music."
This was only one project on Paul's plate. Soon, he thought, he could turn this project over to a subordinate and keep track of it from a distance.
The meeting had been scheduled to go all day. After that, Paul planned a dinner with Harry, and a flight back to Michigan in the morning. The meeting's early breakup made everyone look at their daybooks.
"Mind if I take a raincheck on dinner, Paul?" Harry asked. "These meetings have put me way behind. I could use the extra time back at the office, if that's alright."
"No problem, Harry." Paul understood. "Can you drop me at my hotel before you take off?"
When Paul returned to his room he tossed his brief case on the bed. He wasn't even packed because he hadn't planned on the early break. It was past check-out time at the hotel, and he knew that he would never book a flight until at least four. He decided to stay overnight.
His promise to Glenda had been nagging him. Her phone number was still in his daybook. He had mixed feelings about calling her. Surely, she was married or attached, or something. He had no right to complicate her life. On the other hand, she had given him her number with no qualifiers.
"I wish that I knew what it all means," he said out loud in the loneliness of hotel room.
There was the reservation at the steakhouse he made for the dinner with Harry. It would be a shame to waste it without a dinner companion. The worst would be that she would turn him down. Paul decided to make the call.
"Hello, Glenda? Paul Crane speaking. Sorry to call you at work. I'm in Chicago overnight. I thought that I'd call you—like we talked about a few weeks ago. Can you make it to Keefer's at seven-thirty? Eight? Alright—no problem! I'll be there before you. Just ask for me. Great! I'll see you then."
Paul was in the restaurant, seated at his table, nursing a scotch-on-the-rocks. He had arrived for his reservation at the appointed seven-thirty. He could have shown up at eight, but Paul hated to be late. He felt that he owed it to the restaurant to show at the stated time. It was a self-imposed obligation, but Paul was set in his ways.
He didn't mind because the atmosphere was relaxing. He could hear strains of smooth jazz from the combo playing in the bar. It would be perfect if Sally were there enjoying it with him.
They wouldn't have wasted the atmosphere with idle chit-chat. If there was nothing to say, there was no point in saying it. She would sip on chardonnay while he savored his scotch. As the band finished a number they would glance at one another, share a comment about the music. The band would resume and they would fall silent again. It was a good feeling to just share the music and relax in the presence of one another. He knew that she felt the same. There were times when they needed no words. Words would have been a crutch, and they didn't need one.
After a while they would order their dinners, to the relief of the petulant waiter. Sally always had fish. Paul knew that part of the reason was that fish was the lowest-priced entree on the menu. They could afford to eat at a fancy restaurant every night if they chose. Sally never gave up that wife-of-grad-student frugality she perfected in their early days. She always denied it—said that she just liked fish. It annoyed Paul for a time, but came to realize that the memories of their just-married years meant so much to her. Old habits are hard to break
As he polished off his first scotch and ordered another, Paul reminded himself that he was longing for something in the present that only existed in the past. He couldn't help it. It was his only way of touching her. For a person suddenly alone, there is a freedom of the imagination that is the cruelest prison of all. Memory blends into expectation. The past comes to life countless times, each repeat more soothing. It stifles the chill of whatever lies beyond what is known.
"Live your whole life, Paul, not just the first half," he muttered under his breath.
He knew that it would be Sally's advice, too, if she were there to give it. He wished he could simply order himself to follow his own directive, like he did for scores of employees. He would never give up Sally's memory. He groped to find coexistence for the old and new. Like the engineer that he was, he set out to derive the elusive equation that would balance it all. He knew the key variable was his own stubborn self. He shook himself out of his daydreaming. He was staring into his fresh glass of scotch.
"Maybe I drank that first one a little too fast," he mused.
He glanced up to spy the maitre d' approaching his table with Glenda close behind. He put away his thoughts for another time.
Paul watched the two approach his table. He thought that Glenda looked sharp. She wore business attire, a navy gabardine suit, with a simple white, silk sweater underneath. Her clothes were well-tailored, if a little plain. A small gold lapel pin dotted the blazer. Other than the pin and her watch, she wore no jewelry.
She was still thin, just like she'd been when Paul knew her in high school. As she drew closer, he noticed that she wore wire-rimmed glasses with small lenses and a few wrinkles around the eyes. A few streaks of gray interrupted her red hair that was straight and cut trimmed just above the collar of her blazer. It wasn't hard to remember Glenda as the girl he'd known so many years ago. It was an uncomplicated look, which suited Paul, who considered himself an uncomplicated guy.
Paul stood as the maitre d' began to seat Glenda in the adjoining chair at the small, round table. Paul made a small gesture to the chair opposite his own. The maitre d' cleared his throat and shifted to the assigned seat, a safer selection that prevented misunderstandings. Before Paul could speak the waiter approached for Glenda's drink order.
"Vodka and tonic, please," she said.
"Glenda," Paul blurted out, "where were we before we were interrupted?"
Glenda looked confused. Paul waited for the double entendre of his question to dawn on her and she burst into laughter. Paul laughed too, a little surprised that his joke went over as well as it did, and even more surprised at his impetuous, bold opening that seemed to spring from his lips before he had a chance to hold it back.
"I didn't mean to embarrass you, Glenda," he apologized. "I didn't intend for you to interpret..."
"Stop apologizing, Paul!" Glenda held up her hand like a traffic cop. "It's a nice memory," she assured him in a quiet voice that seemed understanding and gentle.
Paul shrugged, and then nodded. She'd answered just like he imagined Sally might have.
Paul had more apologizing to do, so he plunged in to get it over with.
"Glenda, I invited you without thinking about how it might effect your..." Paul searched for the right word, "current relationships."
Glenda laughed and shook her head.
"None to worry about" she answered. She held up her ring-less left hand in proof. "I would have said something when you asked me a few weeks ago if there was a problem," she continued and shook her head. "Good old Paul—you were always thinking too much."
There was a short pause, as they searched for something to say.
"I see you're married," she broke the silence, looking at Paul's wedding band. "Tell me about her."
"Sally and I were married for twenty-five years," Paul answered. "She was killed five years ago in a traffic accident."
"Oh, I'm so sorry!" replied Glenda, and cast her eyes down at the table.
There was an interlude of silence, as they sipped their drinks. Paul knew that Glenda felt bad about bringing up the subject and he knew it wasn't her fault,
"It's alright, Glenda. I think about Sally all the time without anyone's help. Anyway, you had no way to know."
Glenda looked up and gave him a smile. It didn't solve the silence, though. Neither knew how to resume. Paul considered himself at fault. He reminded himself again how unfit he was for any female acquaintanceship. He should have thought to cue Glenda about what happened to his first wife, rather than let her stumble into the topic...
"It is a nice memory, isn't it?" Paul offered.
"Yes," Glenda replied. "I think about it every once-in-a-while when I'm a little down and I want to make myself feel better."
That answer was more than Paul had bargained for. It made him recall the sweetness of the memory and amazement that the decades hadn't erased it. It was a feeling that he hadn't known for some time. He was unsure if it was comfort or unease that came to him. He was in territory that he hadn't covered in a long time. He decided to scout the terrain.
"Here's to nice memories!" Paul proclaimed as he lifted his glass. Glenda raised hers too, touching his.
"What about you?" Paul changed the subject. "What's happened to you during all these years?"
"I was hoping to talk awhile about what happened on a blanket in the woods a long time ago, Paul. It would be a better story."
She looked at him with a question in her eyes that asked how much he really wanted to know. When Paul didn't answer Glenda drew a deep breath and swallowed the rest of her vodka.
"If you really want to hear this, you better order me another drink."
"About six weeks after you went off to college, my mother and I moved out here to Chicago. I wanted to enroll in secretarial school back home, but she asked me to go with her. It was just going to be a short stay at first. My Aunt Margaret was ill. Everyone in the family thought that my mother should be the one to come out and stay with her because my father had recently passed away. They must have thought that she couldn't have had anything better to do. Mother didn't know how to say 'No'. We thought that we were only committed until the beginning of the New Year. I guess that I couldn't say 'No', either. Anyway, by the time the next Easter rolled around, it was clear that we were here to stay."
A fresh round of drinks arrived. Paul ordered a steak. Glenda had the same.
"I got a job as a receptionist," Glenda continued. "It wasn't great, but it paid the bills. Aunt Margaret passed away that July. Mother felt like the 'Angel of Death'; first my father, then Aunt Margaret. The family seemed to avoid her after that. It was so unfair. They recruited her to give up her home to look after my aunt in her final days, and then dropped her like a hot potato. Not long after that Mother's health started sliding, too. I know that she felt empty. My brothers were hardly ever to be found. She died about four years later. I think she just got too tired and lonely."
"I didn't know your mother very well," Paul said, "but I'm sorry."
"The story's just getting started!" she warned. Paul shrugged and motioned for her to proceed.
"Not long after that I found a receptionist job at a better company. I still had dreams of going to secretarial school. I was only twenty-two. I found a new boyfriend, too. Pretty soon I was pregnant. We decided to get married—big mistake. Halfway through, he changed his mind and talked me into getting an abortion. You could only get a back-street job in those days and they botched it. I ended up in Emergency with a hemorrhage. I found out that there would be no more pregnancies. My soon-to-be 'ex' said that he didn't want a wife who could never have kids. I think that he just wanted an excuse to get rid of me. I don't know where he is now."
"It took me while to recover, and I lost my job. I was broke for awhile, but someone is always looking for a receptionist. Three years later, I got married again. It didn't work out. I was a two-time loser at the age of twenty-nine."
"The second divorce had a better settlement, though. It paid my way through secretarial school. After that, I found a job at Northwestern University. It's actually not far from here. I've been there ever since—nearly twenty-five years. I worked hard. For the past four years, I've been Confidential Secretary to the Dean of the Law School. That's why I had to be late tonight. I was helping him get ready for a presentation. I came here straight from work."
As she finished the waiter arrived with their entrees ... Paul waited for the server to walk away before he answered.
"That's an amazing story, Glenda," Paul said. "You've been through a lot of hardship. I don't see a trace of self-pity."
"I left that part out," she joked as she cut a forkful of steak. "You're the one with the amazing story. It was easier to keep track of you. We would see your name in the paper when you were playing football. I even learned something about the game. My mother would always give me the 'if only' routine every time your name was in print."
"Little did she know..." Paul interjected. They both laughed and Glenda rolled her eyes.
"Then it was in all the papers," Glenda continued, "how you refused to go into the pro football draft—because you wanted to be an engineer. That sounds like a storybook!"
"Ancient history!" declared Paul, waving away the compliment with his hand.
"Well, what's the rest?" Glenda demanded.
"I've been lucky—except for Sally passing away. We have a daughter and a son. One is in grad school at Michigan State. The other is an undergrad at Marquette. They're both great kids! When I graduated from State Dunn Chemicals hired me. First they sent me to grad school to a university in New York State. That's where Sally and I met. I've worked for them ever since. We've lived in many places—even overseas a couple of times. I work now in the headquarters in Michigan. That's probably where I'll be until I retire."
Paul stopped speaking and Glenda nodded to acknowledge that the biography had concluded. It was only then that they noticed the sweet sounds of the jazz combo leaking "Stardust" from the bar into the dining room.
"What do you think of the band?" Glenda asked. "It gives a nice ambience to the place, don't you think?"
They listened for a few moments.
"I think that the piano player needs a stronger left hand" Paul declared
"Just listen and enjoy!" Glenda scolded and laughing at the same time. Paul started laughing, too.
Paul obeyed. They finished their dinners and ordered dessert. Normally, he would pass and just have a coffee. The mood hit him right, however, and he indulged himself.
"Glenda," he began, "I don't want to embarrass you, but I have to tell you something."
She looked up from her raspberry torte and waited for the rest.
"Well, what did you want to say that would embarrass me?" she asked, eyebrows furled.
"Only this," he said, taking a deep breath. "It hasn't been since Sally died that I've had as much pleasure dining out as I've had tonight. Thanks for coming out with me."
Glenda dropped her fork to her plate. Her expression changed. Paul could see that she'd expected some kind of witty repartee. She gathered herself for a reply.
"Paul, what a nice thing to say!" she said in a soft voice as she looked him in the eye. "How could you think that you would embarrass me?"
Paul shrugged— he couldn't answer.
"It really hurt you when you wife was killed. It hurts you now," she continued. "I'm so sorry."
Paul looked down at the table for a second, then back up at Glenda.
"When a person dies," he began "there's a finite amount of pain associated with it. It's shared by all the people involved. If it is a long slow death, the person dying suffers most. The loved ones are spared much of it because they have a chance to prepare. When it's the other way around, the balance is reversed. The suffering is left for those who remain behind."
"Nothing is forever," Glenda said. "Someday you'll find a way to let it go."
"I feel better right now having said it. It's something that I didn't realize was inside me until this moment; but I know now that it's true," Paul said. "I'm sorry to unload it onto your shoulders."
"Now I'll embarrass you with something," she replied. "I'd been wondering—considering our history together—I was just waiting for you to make a move to get me into bed tonight. After a while, I knew that I didn't have to worry. It made the dinner a lot more enjoyable. Thank you, Paul. You're a nice man!"
"Now I am embarrassed!" he said, feeling a redness wash over his face. "It's been a long time for me. I wouldn't know how to go about it, even if it had been my plan."
They laughed for a few moments.
"It's been a long time for me, too, Paul. The last man that I was in bed with was my second ex-husband—before he was my 'ex'."
They were ready to leave; Paul asked the maitre d' to call a cab.
"Where's your car?" he asked her.
"I left it back at Northwestern," she answered. "If it's alright with you, I think we can have the taxi drop you at your hotel and then take me home. I'll leave my car in the lot overnight and take the 'L' in tomorrow."
"Good idea. It's getting late."
"It was a splendid dinner, Paul, and so elegant. If I didn't know that you're on an expense account, I would offer to pay Dutch Treat," she joked.
"I could put it on the company tab," he answered, "but I'm not going to. It would take away part of the pleasure."
As the cab pulled up to the hotel Paul turned to Glenda. "Would you mind if I were to call you again?" He gave the cabbie a fifty and told him to take her where she told him.
"I'll mind a lot if you don't!" she proclaimed.
On Friday, two days later, it was late morning and Paul was in his office waiting for a call from Harry Carmichael. While he waited he thought about Glenda.
He had been thinking about her a lot since their dinner in Chicago. Their time together had been quite nice—a pleasant surprise. Paul decided that there was a lot to like about her. She was like Sally in some ways, quite different in others.
While Sally would have sipped white wine and eaten baked fish, Glenda was knocking down vodka and tying into a steak. If Sally had ever tried to drink three vodkas, she would have needed a stretcher to get out of the restaurant. Glenda looked like she could have handled one or two more.
She was like Sally in that she didn't let Paul's serious side get to her—and didn't let it get to Paul, either. Paul liked that. He thought about what Glenda had done with her life, after starting out with so much against her. He couldn't help but have admiration for that. His comment in the restaurant about her not showing self-pity was sincere and that meant a lot to Paul. She looked him in the eye and said what was on her mind. She could laugh and joke with him, one-on-one. Then, in an instant, her sweet, feminine side would come out. At the right time, she would listen while Paul poured what was on his mind to her, with neither judgment nor retort. Paul decided that he wanted Glenda as a friend. It was new for him to have a woman as a friend.
The phone rang. Paul's secretary announced that Harry was on the line.
Paul: Hello Harry, everything lined up for Monday?
Harry: Good news and bad, Paul. The guys in Peoria are behind us, but can't get to Chicago on Monday; same with the State Senator. The good news is that the local Chamber and AFL-CIO want to get behind us, too.
Paul: Harry, this will work out just fine. I'm going to stay away from the meeting on Monday. I'll send Jim Spencer in my place. I don't want Hopkins to think that I'm all excited just because he's showing up. Spencer needs the experience, anyway, and whatever Hopkins has got, Jim can figure it out just as well as I could. We'll let Hopkins talk to the wall. We'll lower the boom in the next go-around.
Harry: Sounds good to me, Paul. I was worried before I spoke to you, but I feel better now. I'll let you know how it goes.
Paul's decision to skip the Monday meeting made him change his plans on seeing Glenda. He was wondering if it would have been too soon for a follow-up date, anyway. He pressed the intercom button and spoke to his secretary.
"Marge, please ask Jim Spencer to step into my office, and then see if you can book me into that Chicago seminar next Friday."
It wasn't a very original date idea. Paul always went with what worked. The dinner the week before turned out so well he asked Glenda to dinner again at the same place. He had called her Tuesday and she agreed right away.
He waited for her at the bar sipping a scotch. He barely heard the combo playing at the opposite end of the room. Waiting for Glenda to arrive, Paul looked forward to being with her again. He thought about Sally, and tried to coax himself into feeling guilty. He thought that he heard Sally's voice in the background. Try as he would, he couldn't imagine her sad and melancholy, or jealous. Sally's voice was happy and lilting, whispering to him: "Yes, Paul! Go for it!"
Just then, Glenda appeared at the entrance of the barroom. He caught her eye and motioned her over. She had a nice look, just as the week before, but it was more suited to nightlife than her business apparel of their prior dinner together. She was wearing a white blazer, and under it a navy dress with small white dots The hem of her dress reached below her knee The neckline was cut in a vee, but not in an immodest way. She wore a pearl necklace that rested on her collarbone.
Paul stood as she approached him at the bar. A smile spread across her face. Paul detected a hint of perfume.
"Glenda, you really look very nice," he told her—and meant it.
"Well, Paul, this time you gave me a few days' notice so I had a chance. I changed at work before I left."
Paul's chest expanded as he imagined Glenda taking pains to look good for her date with him. It was a nice feeling, and he'd almost lost the memory of it. He felt a doorway inside himself creaking open.
"We can go to our table now, if you're ready," he told her.
"Let's stay here for a while," Glenda said. "I'm not ready for a big dinner yet, and the music sounds so nice."
Paul picked up his drink from the bar and they found a nearby booth. He motioned the waitress over.
"Vodka and tonic, right?"
"No, not tonight," she answered. "I'm ready for a change. I think that I'll have an Old Fashioned."
Paul ordered the drinks and asked the waitress to bring them a shrimp cocktail, as well.
"I think that I'm ready for a change, too," Paul said. Glenda sat at attention.
"Last week I found myself manipulating my schedule so that I could make this date," he continued. "After I did, I found myself really looking forward to it. I was thinking about Sally, too. Perhaps I should have felt guilty but I just couldn't. I didn't feel like I was leaving her behind, either. It just felt alright."
In the dim light of the barroom it was hard for Paul to detect Glenda's expression. Her silence over the next ten seconds told him everything he needed to know. It had seemed to Paul that the next step would be an easy one. They had gotten on so well together.
"I think that I know where this is going, Paul," Glenda answered. "I enjoy being with you; I respect and admire you. I just don't know if I'm ready for what I think you're headed for."
Paul was silent for a few moments, not knowing what to say.
"I can't take your wife's place," Glenda said at last. "The more I would try, the worse it would be. It wouldn't be right for me to try, either."
"No one could ever take Sally's place for me," Paul said. "She's in me down deep. I've done a lot of thinking about it this past week. I realize that nothing could drive her out of me. I didn't understand that before. I thought that another woman would. I was afraid of that for a long time. I'm not afraid of it anymore. There can be a place—an important place—for her and some room for someone else, too."
"Paul," Glenda said with a sad look, "do you remember that I told you that I hadn't been with a man since my second husband?" Paul nodded.
"There's a reason for that," she continued. "When my second marriage broke up, it was devastating. I was alone, in a dead-end job; could never have children; no family to speak of, and not many friends. I just couldn't accept ending up that way. My marriages had set me back, not helped me."
Glenda took a gulp of her drink and raised her hands to let Paul know that she had more to say.
"I decided that I would do something to make my life better, and I did. I vowed not to get involved with men. At first, I thought that I would find someone after I had made something of myself. After that, I could come into a relationship with something to offer. I got busy; the years slipped by. One day I realized that I would always be on my own."
"Glenda," Paul said, "you've accomplished a lot for yourself. You have every right to be satisfied with what you've done. You have to live your life the way you see it."
"I like turning my own key—being independent," she said, straightening up. "There are things that I have to give up, too. It's lonely. Sometimes I miss having some romance—and the pleasures that go with romance. I dated a few men. They were nice. They were headed toward something that I couldn't accept—to be taken under their wing, possessed, obligated."
"I have no desire to possess you," Paul assured her.
"What would want of me, then?"
"Your friendship," he answered. "as a woman, like you have done over the past few weeks. Maybe I could be a friend to you. I don't want to get remarried, or even move out of my house. I'm at the peak of my career—it means a lot to me. I know for you, it's the same. It would be nice just to be able to know that I have a special friend here in Chicago."
"I have to think about it, Paul. I don't think that I could give up my life. You make it sound so simple. I need to be sure."
"Take your time," Paul answered. "I'm not shopping for bids. This possibility just came along without warning. It has to be right for the both of us."
They listened to the music for a few minutes, nursing their drinks. Paul spoke up with something to brighten the mood.
"I've got tickets to the Cubs for tomorrow afternoon. I thought that you might like to go."
"Oh Paul!" she exclaimed. "I've never been to see the Cubs—or the White Sox, either. I'm afraid I don't know anything about sports."
"It'll be a learning experience! What do you say?"
"As friends?" she asked.
"Sure, what do you say?"
"Alright, it's a date!" she replied.
The jazz combo started playing "Autumn Leaves".
"Let's dance!" she commanded.
"That's asking a lot, Glenda," he protested as she took his hand and dragged him out of the booth.
"You don't like to dance? Most men don't, but here you are, anyway," she teased him.
Paul was glad that the lighter mood had returned.
"It was asking a lot to make me go to the baseball game," she said, looking up at him, smiling, "so now we're even."
Paul didn't say much, having to concentrate on holding his own on the dance floor. They moved to the music. It was an easy tune to dance to. They turned with the music for a few minutes.
"Do you promise not to try to possess me?" she asked without warning.
"That's what I said," he replied.
"I think that we're two lost souls, trying to be found," Glenda said. "It was like that thirty six years ago in that pine grove. Here we are again in the same way."
"What goes around comes around," Paul replied, regretting his glib comment as soon as he uttered it. Glenda seemed unfazed.
We'll be more than friends, but less than lovers. We'll be..." she was searching for the right words. "We'll be 'loving friends'," she pronounced
"Suits me!" Paul replied. "I don't know what else to say."
"You're supposed to say..." Glenda leaned closer; whispering in his ear, " ... let's go to your hotel room."
As they got into the cab Glenda turned to Paul, "Have him take us to my car at Northwestern. We'll take my car to the hotel. I packed an overnight bag this morning and left it in my trunk."
As Glenda and Paul stepped into the hotel room Paul placed the 'Do Not Disturb' sign on the outside handle. Glenda turned and looked at him with sparkling eyes and an eager smile.
It was a tranquil scene as they stepped through the door to the room. They had waited a long time. It would have been a shame to lose the moment by rushing through it.
Paul set Glenda's small suitcase on the foldout stand, and then turned to her. Glenda shrugged out of her blazer and hung it in the closet. Her bare arms were long, white and thin. To Paul, they looked warm and inviting. Paul removed his own suit jacket and set it aside.
She stepped toward him and they embraced.
"It's been a long time," Paul mumbled. He didn't know what else to say.
"For both of us," she purred, and lifted her face toward his, lips parted.
Paul understood the cue. He gave her a tentative kiss, testing her reaction. Glenda responded with a deeper one, and she crushed her body into his. She flicked out her tongue and danced it over Paul's lips.
They kept the kiss alive. Paul reached behind her and slid down the zipper in the back of her dress. As his fingers took hold of the hooks at the top she murmured a playful "uh-uh" into his mouth and then broke away and stepped back.
"I brought something to put on for you, in case we got to this point," she said. " ... and it looks like we have," she added with a small laugh. "I just need a few moments in the bathroom. Why don't you get comfortable, and fix us something to drink."
She grasped her suitcase and Paul watched her disappear into the bathroom, the back of her dress unzipped. He was sure that she went in to put on a negligee. He didn't see the need for the ritual, but was smart enough to know not to complain.
"I'm going out for ice," he called to her.
When Paul returned she was still secured in the bathroom. He shed his clothes, hanging up the suit and burying the underwear in his empty suitcase. He put on a pair of cotton pajama bottoms. The maid had already turned down the bed. He placed the little chocolates on the nightstand. Paul dropped some ice into two tumblers and poured some scotch from the mini bar into each of them. He turned the lights lower. As he finished the preparations, Glenda emerged from the bathroom.
She wore a black ensemble. The nightie underneath was satin, knee-length, with a deep vee neckline. Her white skin stood out in contrast to the satin. At the bottom hem was a border of black lace, and Paul stole a glance to see how much thigh it might reveal. Over the nightgown, she wore a black peignoir made of a thin, gauzy material that she did not bother to button. Her pale skin played 'hide and seek' with the thin covering. The outfit revealed little of the contents inside. It was more like a gift-wrapped package, where the receiver yearns to rip away the fancy paper. She didn't bother with shoes or slippers. Paul instantly detected that her perfume had been freshened.
She took a slow walk through the room. Paul had taken a seat in an overstuffed chair near the bed. Glenda saw the drinks lined up on the mini-bar. She picked them up and handed one to Paul. She alit on the bed near where Paul was sitting tucking her feet underneath her.
"I like your outfit." Paul said. "It's beautiful; it suits you."
"Thanks," she said, almost stifling an embarrassed grin. "I know I'm being silly. I just wanted to wear it because it has been so long for me and this being our first time. I never had the chance to do this and I thought that it might be my last chance."
"Don't apologize," Paul answered. "I like it! It was thoughtful of you to go to the trouble. To be honest, it's exciting—and it won't be your last chance."
Glenda set her drink on the nightstand and then looked over at Paul. He stood and stepped to the side of the bed where she was sitting. He pushed the peignoir off her shoulders. Glenda raised her arms a bit and Paul gently tugged it the rest of the way off.
"I said that it's our first time," she said. "Of course it isn't. It feels like the first one after so many years. It reminds me of our real first time together."
"How so?" Paul asked her curiously. "We're in a lot more 'civilized" setting now."
"I feel the same way right now as I felt back then," Glenda explained. "I was nervous, but wanted something new. I realized that I wasn't beautiful, but I hoped that you were a man who wouldn't mind too much. I took a chance. It was right back then; it feels right tonight, too."
"I feel the same, Glenda," Paul assured her. "I think I'm running out of things to talk about."
Glenda reached to the nightstand and picked up her drink. She tilted her head back and drank the rest all at once, then set the empty back down She stood up in front of Paul.
"You're right, Paul. I'd like it if you could help me off with this," she said, taking the shoulder straps of the negligee in her delicate fingers.
Paul stood and took the straps from her.
"It's almost a shame. You're so beautiful in it," Paul teased.
Glenda reached out her hand and stroked her hand over the length of Paul's erection through his pajamas.
"I think that the nightie has done its job," she said, with a small giggle. "Now it can go."
Paul didn't answer, but drew the straps over her shoulders and pulled the fabric down until it was pooled at her waist.
"Remember these?" she asked, as the fleeting negligee revealed her breasts.
Paul let go of the negligee and placed his palms over her breasts. He let the nipples poke our through his fingers. Glenda gave a loud sigh, showing her pleasure. Paul closed his fingers around the buds with a tender pressure. Glenda sighed again, even louder this time, and Paul knew that he had pleasured her again.
He released her breasts and took hold of the black fabric once again. He pushed it down; Glenda stood nude in front of him. Her breathing deepened and became rapid. Paul pulled his own pajamas down so that they pooled on the floor at his feet.
They stepped forward to resume the kiss they started some minutes ago. This time it was filled with more desire. They probed and tongued one another. When they finally broke apart Glenda climbed to the middle of the oversized bed. She lay on her back, knees bent,, arms outstretched inviting him. Her face showed her eagerness. He joined her on the bed, lying on his side, taking her back in his arms.
They kissed and caressed one another for a time. Glenda started to rub her middle against him. From time to time she would gasp or exhale in pleasure. She took hold of Paul's hard shaft that had been pressing at her belly. Paul, in turn, slid a digit gently into her. She was very moist. He sent his finger deeper. He probed for a while and then circled her clitoris. Glenda still had her fingers wrapped around him, but Paul could tell that she had lost concentration on it because the pleasure was gaining control of her.
All of a sudden Glenda pushed Paul's shoulder to signal him to lie on his back. As soon as he did, she sprang up and straddled him. Glenda felt below for Paul and positioned the head it at her entrance. Slow and deliberate, she sank down, until he was buried inside her.
"Oh, yes!" she gasped as she settled down atop him. She didn't move, at first just held Paul inside herself, gently squeezing him with her inner muscles.
Paul watched her reaction as she took him. Her pleasure was evident and it reassured him. It pleased him as much as the wet warm softness surrounding him as he waited for her next move.
Once they had both silently counted out every point of pleasure, savored every aspect of it, they started grinding against each other. They were quick to learn the other's timing. It was a journey with an end in sight. They approached climax as if on a mission. They neither hastened nor delayed it, but accepted its onrush. It was Glenda who tensed first, and let out and exultant cry. Paul came soon after.
Glenda remained atop Paul. With the relaxation that follows sex, they dozed for a while. When they awoke a short time later, they made love again, and then slept all night in each other's arms.
They spent the weekend together, going to the baseball game and other places. The next night they lay together again, sending and receiving the pleasure that had escaped them for too long a time.
On Sunday night Glenda took Paul to the airport and he left for Michigan. There was no sadness. They were confident that they would be back together soon.
On Monday Paul was in his office. Jim Spencer was with him, going over the progress on the Peoria project.
"Everything seems to be going our way," Jim began. "It's just as you predicted it."
"I'm no genius," Paul said. "I've been down this road before."
"The State guys didn't quite give in, but it was apparent that their hearts weren't in it anymore. I think that they'll throw in the sponge next meeting. There's one thing that did bother me, though."
"What's that, Jim?" Paul asked.
"I was in the Men's washroom," Jim began. "Hopkins was in there with his assistant. I don't think that they saw me. The assistant said that he had spoken to his contacts at Northwestern. Hopkins asked if 'the Law School was on board'. His assistant said that he thought so."
"What do you think that he meant?" Paul questioned.
"Beats me, but it can't be good," Jim replied.
As Jim Spencer left the office Paul pondered the new wrinkle, and what it might mean to the project, and to Glenda, and him.