Being married for seventeen years can take its toll on a woman. Career, family, husband, home—they all make their demands on her time until there is nothing left for herself. She loses her joy, her playfulness and her love of life. This was how Georgia felt when she went to work that Tuesday.
Her husband had been dealing with back injuries that he had suffered on the job. Even after he had returned to work he was still in pain. The two subsequent but minor injuries he had suffered in the months that followed had only made matters worse. He was surly most of the time and took frequent naps. Her children were very young yet and required even more care than he did. She spent more than 65 hours a week at the office because of the demands of her job. There seemed to be a never-ending list of urgent issues that had to be dealt with immediately and a backlog of work that she could never quite catch up.
To say that she was burned out was putting it mildly. To make matters worse, her husband had not laid a hand on her in more than 30 months. Georgia had a deep, cloying need that was building to a fevered pitch. But, ever the understanding wife, she knew that he wasn't holding out on purpose. He was in pain most of the time and putting pressure on him would not help matters, so she kept her misery to herself.
But that day had not started well. They had all overslept. She had to get breakfast for a family of five, get the kids ready and off to meet the school bus, do the dishes and get herself ready. The twins had chosen that particular morning to get into a fight over which of them owned the finger-paints and she was forced to wash the results of that altercation off the living room walls. Loretta, the youngest, had torn her pretty dress and had to change. Her husband, angered by all the commotion, had stormed out of the house without so much as lifting a finger to help.
In the chaos of things gone wrong, the kids had all missed their bus and she had to drive them to school. She was 30 minutes late for work. Upon arriving at the office and listening to her voice mail she had discovered that her assistant of two years had called to say that she was quitting, effective immediately, because of some fight that she'd had with the Sales assistant.
It was at the moment when she had lowered her head to her desk and was none-too-gently banging her cranium on the surface that HE walked in. He had a low chuckle in his throat when he asked, "Is this some form of self-torture or is it slow suicide?"
She raised her aching head and tossed her blond hair back to see Alexander standing in the doorway with an amused smile on his sensual lips. The smile faded and was replaced by concern as he caught sight of her tired eyes. She must have looked like she was contemplating ending it all because he closed the door and crossed the room as if to stop her from doing herself harm.
Alexander was a glorious, tall African-American man with a muscular frame and eyes that twinkled with merriment. He looked good enough to eat, and she was starving. He pulled a chair around behind her desk and sat down.
"Are you all right?" His deep, throaty voice was full of worry. "You look like you want to run out in front of a bus."
"It's nothing that a bottle of gin and a shotgun to the head couldn't cure," she replied dourly.
"Tell me what's going on."
She looked into his face. She tried to see his eyes but all she could see was his mouth. She wondered what it would be like to kiss that mouth and to have his tongue trailing down her throat. She licked her dry lips and tried to form words but when she opened her mouth to speak, only a squeaking sound came out.
"Damn," he said slowly. "You're in bad shape. You should go home."
"No!" she stated emphatically. "That's the last place I want to be. I hate my home. I hate my family. I hate my job and I hate my life." The words tumbled out unbidden. Georgia wanted to kick herself. The Human Resources Director has to be careful how she speaks to employees and this certainly wasn't professional.
He took her hand in his and patted it. His hands felt strong, warm, inviting. She closed her eyes and fought against the train of thought that seemed to come out of nowhere.
"Hey," he said, startled. "You're shaking. Maybe you need a doctor."
"Fuck that," Georgia nearly yelled. "What I need is..."
She stopped herself. What was she doing? She had nearly confessed to this man, friend though he was, that her marriage and her sex life were less than flawless. She wanted to crawl into a hole and die.
"What can I do? Is there anything I can get you?"
Georgia started to laugh. It wasn't a pleasant sound. There was no mirth to it. It sounded more like an animal sound. He thought she was losing her sanity and, in truth, she probably was. "Zander," she said once she had regained control. "I think I'm at the end of my rope."
"Let's get lunch today. There's a new restaurant that I want to try. My treat." He looked hopeful and boyish and she suddenly didn't want to disappoint him so she agreed. It actually sounded good to get out for lunch. She usually ate at her desk, poring over reports.
Georgia met Zander in the parking lot at precisely noon, as was agreed. He was holding open the passenger door of his 2006 Mustang convertible for her. He had the top down. She trudged over and flounced into the seat. She had not even bothered to smile or greet him. He closed the door while humming a merry tune, seemingly unperturbed by her uncivil manner.
Before long they two were speeding down the city streets in the red sports car. Georgia enjoyed the summer wind whipping through their hair. It felt almost like being free. After a few minutes they pulled to a stop in front of the new restaurant he had mentioned. Ever the gentleman, he opened her door for her and ushered her inside.
They were seated in a booth at the back of the crowded room. It seemed that many people wanted to try this new place. The two looked at their menus and placed their orders. The waitress soon returned with their beverages and then hustled away again.
"So, Georgia," Zander said after taking a healthy slug of his iced tea, "tell me what's wrong."
She made what she hoped was a pleasant little laugh. "Oh, nothing. I just had a bad morning. No big deal."
"Hey, Ms. HR woman, we're not at the office right now. Just two friends sitting down for lunch and a dialogue. Spill."
Georgia could tell by the light in his eyes that he wasn't going to give up. She sighed heavily and began, "The home, the kids, the husband, the career... take your pick. I'm just feeling overwhelmed."
"You put in too many hours at the office, for one thing. You need to assign more work to that lazy assistant of yours. She should be doing more to help."
"She quit this morning."
"Damn." Alexander shook his head. "That sucks. Well, you can have my intern for a couple of weeks, if that will help."
"Thanks, Zander, I appreciate that."
The food was delivered but Georgia only pushed at it with her fork. To Zander's way of thinking she looked as if she had the world on her shoulders. "What about home? Phil still ailing?"
"Yes. He has trouble sleeping at night and wants to sleep all day. He's no help with the kids. The twins are completely out of control. The house is always a mess. By the time I get them off to bed at night I'm frazzled to the core. I feel beat up."
"You need some pampering, that's for sure."
Georgia snorted and jabbed viciously at a piece of food with her fork. "I don't need pampering, I need to get laid," she blurted out in a fevered whisper. She wanted to jab that fork into her own left eye. She was completely mortified at what she had said.
Zander choked on his food. He gulped at his tea and swallowed hard. "Excuse me?" He asked.
"Forget I said it." Georgia was slumping in the vinyl-covered seat. She wanted to hide.
There was a long uncomfortable silence. Georgia had given up all pretense of eating and was staring at her hands in her lap. Finally Zander spoke. "I guess Phil can't really, um, perform in his present condition, huh? How long has it been?"
Georgia crushed her eyes shut. She had never spoken to anyone of this situation and here was her co-worker asking her questions about her problems in the bedroom.
"It's ok, we're friends, right?" Zander was well aware of her uneasiness. He could read it in every nuance of her tense body.
"30 months or so," she mumbled.
Zander dropped his fork. It clattered against his plate, drawing the attention of the surrounding diners. Georgia wondered why she just couldn't keep her mouth shut.
"30 months?!? My God, girl! How can you stand it?"
Georgia covered her face with her hands. Shame washed over her like a summer downpour. She couldn't make herself look at him. She didn't want to see those gorgeous dark eyes looking at her with pity. She lowered her hands and stared at her cooling food. "I'll survive," was all she offered.
"I hope you are at least taking care of it yourself. You have a good appliance, don't you?"
Her humiliation was complete. Now he was discussing masturbation. She lowered her head further so that he wouldn't see her reddened face. She began planning her escape. If only there was a distraction. Now would be a good time for someone to drop a tray of dishes.
"Hey," he said. "It ain't no thing. Don't be self-conscious. Sex is a natural thing. You shouldn't be embarrassed discussing it. And, you should know by now that you can talk to me about anything. I'm your friend and I care."
.... There is more of this story ...