A Winning Move
Chapter 1

Caution: This Romantic Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Romantic,

Desc: Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Sometimes life punches you right in the nose--then punches you right in the nose again. And not just twice, but a third time. That's what happened to Mike Wynn, but he still kept moving.

The divorce ripped my guts out. As with an earthquake or a funnel cloud that drops out of a clear blue sky, one moment everything was just fine; the next, total devastation. One ordinary Sunday afternoon in March, 1999, my wife of twenty years said, "I don't want to be married any more."

"Is there someone else?" I choked out, predictably and tritely, even though there had been no indication that there might be and our marriage seemed untroubled otherwise.

"No," she said. "I just don't want to be responsible for another adult any more."

I couldn't make sense of her answer--her reason for wanting a divorce. I couldn't understand how she felt responsible for me. We both had good jobs, we'd paid off the mortgage on the house, we had money set aside for our sons' college educations, we had an egalitarian sort of marriage, we were respectful of one another; I thought we loved each other in the ways that people who have been married for twenty years do. It seemed to me that we both were, if nothing else, responsible.

I thought about insisting on marriage counseling or psychotherapy, resisting, trying to "fix" whatever she thought was wrong, but, after some consideration, I decided that that would probably only create anger and resentment of top of everything else and make our life together worse rather than better. So I agreed to the divorce. She continued to live in the house rent-free so that our sons, then 13 and 15, wouldn't have to be uprooted from their school and circle of friends. In exchange for that consideration, I paid only a reasonable amount of child support, but no alimony. Everything else just got split down the middle.

The earthquake struck, the funnel cloud touched down. One day I had a wife and a home and a family; the next, I was standing on the curb with my suitcases in my hands. I hadn't just got a divorce; I'd lost my sense of place. I didn't know where I fit in the world any more.

I gave brief thought to donning a hair shirt, to renting a scummy little apartment to make her suffer. The thought was only brief because it was patently ridiculous, and, I was glad I was able to recognize so quickly, just a warped version of, "I'll show you."

I instead went to Vida Libre, a huge new apartment complex at North First and Rio Robles, virtually right across the street from work. Vida Libre was, according to its literature, not an apartment complex but an "apartment village." It offered six "extraordinary apartment communities plus village shops, including Starbucks," in addition to a gym, a game room, and a swimming pool. I took a two-bedroom unit, then scurried over to Levitz, where I got myself a queen bed, adequate living room furniture, and a modest dinette set. I also got a pair of bunk beds and two student desks for the second bedroom so that my sons wouldn't have to toss sleeping bags on the floor and argue about kitchen table space when they stayed with me.

I met my immediate neighbors during the first week in my new digs. On one side was Bob, a hale-fellow-well-met, probably ex-football player salesman. On the other were roommates Jacqui and Jeannine, neither of whom was French. Jacqui, who looked to be about twenty-five, was a full-figured, zaftig little thing, with breasts so big they swayed rather than jiggling when she walked. She had short, curly, dark hair, and eyes that seemed always to sparkle with a pure joy of living. Jeannine, who was probably in her mid-thirties, was, in contrast to Jacqui, tall, slender, and lithe, with dirty blond hair that she typically wore in a pony tail that fell between her shoulderblades. Jacqui was fun to look at, but I found Jeannine attractive. Very attractive, as a matter of fact, but she did not look like a happy lady.

After I got settled in, I spent some time checking out the community social scene, a lot of which took place around the swimming pool. It was obvious that the bodies soaking up sun on the deck were all lean and tan. An objective assessment in front of my bathroom mirror disclosed that I was considerably less than lean and fish-belly white, to boot. I would have stuck out like a sort thumb poolside.

As time went on, life settled into a humdrum routine. I got up, went to work, and came home again. The weekends the boys were with me, we went out to dinner, to movies, or to Great America; otherwise, my entertainment consisted mostly of reading or trips to Blockbuster. I'd formed a nodding acquaintance with a number of people with whom I crossed paths regularly, and, of course, greeted Jacqui and Jeannine when I saw them.

I didn't consciously go on a diet or anything, but I found myself shying away from fast food and taking the time to prepare meals that were long on protein and fresh vegetables and short on carbohydrates and fat. Having little else to do with my free time in the evening, I started talking long walks after dinner, and, a while later, began using the community gym for light workouts and calisthenic sets.

Jeannine started showing a wide smile when she greeted me, and I assumed that her life had improved. I'd recovered from the initial jolt of divorce and living on my own again and was starting to have occasional bouts of loneliness and thinking seriously about how I might improve my social life. Whatever Jeannine had found, I wanted me some, too.

It really was something of a surprise to see that, by September, I'd lost thirty pounds of marriage comfort and was, in fact, in better shape than I'd been in for fifteen years. At that point, I decided that I could start working on a tan without embarrassing myself completely.

As I looked more closely at the rest of the people around the pool, I became aware that not only were they ten to fifteen years younger than I was, they spoke a language I could hardly understand. They talked about films, movie stars, and musical groups I'd never heard of, and a lot of their night-time activity revolved around clubbing. On three occasions--count 'em, three--I was approached by young women who had an interested look on their face, but after we'd talked only briefly and they'd noticed the crow's feet around my eyes and the grey encroaching at my temples, their interest faded and they got on with their days and their lives. These kids, most of whom worked for Milpitas Systems, too, worked hard during the day, partied hearty at night, and spent money with no regard for tomorrow. Forty-three suddenly seemed very old.

At 10:30 one Friday night early in October, while I was entertaining myself with the latest Dean Koontz spooker, I heard a soft knock on my door. Nobody ever knocked on my door, except for the boys announcing their arrival. It was with utter astonishment that I found Jeannine at my doorstep, still dressed in her workaday business suit and towing her computer case behind her.

"Hi," she said, with a weary smile. "Can I come in?"

"Of course," I said, stepping back and opening the door wider. "Is something wrong?"

"Yes," she said. "No. Well. Sort of. I've had an absolute bitch of a day, I'm exhausted, and I come home and find the fucking red scunci hanging on the doorknob."

"What's a scunci?" I asked.

Jeannine looked at me blankly for a moment, then shook her head and laughed. "I'm sorry," she said. "I'm so tired that I'm not thinking straight. Of course you don't know what I'm talking about. A scunci is a fancy rubber band for holding your hair, like this..." She turned and pointed at the light brown scunci keeping her pony tail together. "A red scunci over the doorknob is the convention Jacqui and I adopted to let one another know when we, um, wanted privacy."

The light dawned. "Well," I said, gesturing toward the living room, "would you like to sit down?"

Jeannine parked her computer case by the kitchen table, then took off her suit coat and hung it on the back of a chair. As she walked toward the sofa, she unbuttoned the top button of her blouse. She sat, kicked off her black pumps, slumped, then sprawled. "God, it feels good to get out of those shoes," she said, wiggling her toes.

You have a guest, I reminded myself. It had been so long...

"Are you hungry? Would you like something to drink? Wine, coffee, tea, soft drink?"

"I had some cafeteria food for dinner, thanks," she said, "but a cup of tea would be heavenly right now."

In ninety seconds, I had a mug of tea on the coffee table in front of Jeannine. Microwave ovens can be useful sometimes.

"I do apologize for just showing up at your door." Jeannine said. "I'm kind of embarrassed, really. My brain just isn't working right. This scunci business is starting to make me a little crazy."

I offered what I thought was an encouraging look.

"Jacqui and I work in the same department," Jeannine went on. "We watched these apartments being built, and when we saw what they were, you know, way up-scale and all, we thought it would be fun to rent one. Neither of us could afford it on her own, so we decided to pool our resources and share."

Jeannine picked up the mug, blew across the top of it, took a sip, and winced. "Still too hot," she said. "Could I have a bit of milk, please?"

I brought milk, spoon, and a saucer. Jeannine added milk to her satisfaction, sipped again, then gulped a mouthful. "Ahhhhhhh," she said.

"Anyway, we still couldn't make the rent on a one-bedroom apartment even if we went halfsies, so we split the cost in proportion to our salaries. I'm a product manager and she's an admin. I'm paying two-thirds, and she's paying one-third. I'm okay with the rent split, and Jacqui and I get along just fine, but it seems like she's using about eighty percent of the apartment to my twenty percent. I swear that every time she takes her bra off an old boyfriend falls out.

"Not that I make a whole lot of use of the red scunci," she added. "I can't even remember when the last time was. But it would be nice to be able just to kick back and relax in my own house sometimes."

With three more gulps, she finished the tea and flopped her head onto the back of the sofa. Before I could even draw breath to speak, her jaw went slack and she started snoring softly. Okay, I said to myself, what do you do now? Toss a blanket over her and let her be? Get her lying down on the sofa, and then toss a blanket over her? Wake her up and send her home? Having an attractive woman who was not my wife suddenly zonk out on my sofa was not a social situation for which I had a learned behavior.

Presently, the solution occurred to me: I'd let her sleep for a half hour or hour, during which time Jacqui would likely retrieve the red scunci, and then she could go home. Quite satisfied with myself, I returned to my book.

And, about an hour later, shook Jeannine's shoulder gently. She looked at me though barely open eyes. "Umph," she said.

"You must really be tired," I said. It's going on midnight now--maybe Jacqui will let you back into your apartment."

Jeannine blinked a couple of times, then said, "Umph." She levered herself upright and off the couch, went to the door, and looked out toward her apartment. Then she closed the door and turned to look at me.

"The fucking scunci's still there, " she said, "and I think I'm dying. I was a Good Company Girl today and stayed late to finish a report that my boss needs first thing Monday morning, and I just don't have the energy to deal with Jacqui right now. Would it be okay if I just spent the night here?"

"Not a problem," I said. "You can even have your choice of upper or lower."

Jeannine gave me a look of utter incomprehension.

"Sorry," I said. "Bad time to be a smart-ass." I showed her the bedroom with the bunk beds in it. "There are clean sheets on both of them," I said. "You can take your pick." Jeannine gave me a look I couldn't decode.

She plucked the front of her blouse away from her skin, then flapped it in and out a couple of times. "In for a dime, in for a dollar," she muttered. "Would you mind if I took a quick shower before I go to bed? I'm a little... stale."

"Not a problem," I said. I got her a towel and washcloth, and a toothbrush. "There you go."

She disappeared into the bathroom, and I returned to my book. After a bit, the water stopped, and a couple of minutes later I heard her call, "Mike, do you have a tee-shirt I could borrow?"

I pulled a tee-shirt out of my underwear drawer. Jeannine was peering sideways through a crack in the bathroom door. Her arm snaked out and took the shirt. Then she opened the door and stepped out in a waft of steam.

Her hair was loose about her shoulders, and her face was clean of make-up. Because Jeannine is almost as tall as I am, my tee-shirt just barely covered her essentials; her nipples made little points on the front of it. But what got to me even more than her appearance was the knowledge that all that separated me from a lovely, naked woman was an arm's length and a thin layer of cotton cloth. I had not so much as touched a woman since I kissed my wife a chaste farewell when I left our house for the last time. Six months' worth of loneliness hit me with a force that nearly left me reeling, and I came very close to losing my cool, detached demeanor entirely.

I really hadn't intended to say anything, but, despite myself, I croaked, "You're beautiful," through a suddenly tight throat. I wanted to take her into my arms and just hold her, just feel her closeness so badly it hurt.

Jeannine leaned forward and kissed me on the cheek. "Thank you," she said. "Good-night." And she went into the boys' bedroom.

I sat back down in the living room and tried to read my book. After staring at the same page for half an hour, I gave it up and went to bed. My light had been off for maybe five minutes when Jeannine padded into the bedroom.

"Don' wanna sleep in a fuckin' bunk bed," she muttered, as she lifted the covers and climbed in with me. She turned on her side, tucked her back against my front, grabbed my hand and pulled it over her to her breast, and wiggled her bottom. I sleep nude. Jeannine had lost the tee-shirt somewhere between the bunk bed and mine. I responded to her wiggle. "Mmmmmm," she said, pushing against me harder and wiggling her bottom again. I kissed her on the back of the neck, and that was all it took.

Like a starving man sustained too long on bread and water suddenly brought to table, I devoured the feast that was Jeannine. I don't think a square inch of her body escaped my touch and taste.

Later, we learned that we fit together like two mating pieces of a puzzle, and I learned that my improved physical condition was good for more than mere looks and walking around the block.

Still later, I buried myself deep, stayed tight, and poured into Jeannine all the loneliness and need I'd been feeling for months. "OH. GOD. MIKE. WOUWF!" Jeannine bellowed, thrusting against me.

In the morning, Jeannine was waiting at the bathroom door when I came out of it. While I was still standing in the kitchen, trying to make up my mind whether or not to get coffee started, she wrapped her arms around my neck, pressed her body full against mine, and murmured warmly into my ear, "It's Saturday. We don't have to get up. Let's go back to bed."

When I was firmly seated after a delightfully long and luxurious session of kissing and touching, I kissed Jeannine on the nose, raised myself up on my hands, and said, as I flexed inside of her, "I'm perishing of curiosity. Tell me the truth, was that whole business with the red scuncii last night a set-up?"

"Nope," she said, clenching back. "That was absolutely straight--but I'm not a bit sorry that it worked out as it did. I've been trying for months to get you to ask me out."

"You have?" I said, making one slow stroke.

"You didn't notice how I smiled at you every time we crossed paths? My posture when we chatted on the walkway? That I touched you every chance I got? Everything I did said, 'I'm interested? Please, please, please respond?'" she said, rocking her hips.

"No," I said, leaning forward to nibble her earlobe and kiss down the side of her neck.

"Are all men so clueless? Why didn't you do anything at all?" she said, trickling her fingers down my spine.

"I, um, didn't know what to do," I said, smoothing back her hair and kissing her on the forehead. "I haven't asked a woman for a date for more than twenty years."

"It's simple," she said, grabbing my hips and pulling. "All you have to do is ask."

"Well, then," I said, slowly pulling out almost all the way and then plunging back in quickly, "would you like to go clubbing tonight?"

Jeannine recoiled. "I detest clubbing," she said.

"Thank God," I said, nibbling around her eyes. "How about dinner, then?"

"That's better," she said, clenching and rotating her hips. "That wasn't so hard, was it? Most guys do dinner before bed, but I guess I'll have to take what I can get."

"Pffft," I said, starting to stroke rhythmically. "You got into my bed, remember?"

Jeannine just smiled.

After another long while, we came, with a deep kiss and a sigh rather than a roar.

And that pretty well solved the problem of the red scuncii. Any time Jacqui needed privacy, Jeannine spent the night with me. She spent lots of other nights with me, too. In between, we went to dinners, to movies, to concerts, to the mountains, and to the beach; we rented movies from Blockbuster and made microwave popcorn at home. Jeannine and I had our moments of lust and passion to be sure, but it could reasonably be said that we settled into a comfortable relationship in the most literal sense of the word: we gave comfort to each other. I knew why I needed comfort, of course, and it was obvious that Jeannine did too, but she chose not to say anything about it. The L-word didn't pass beween us. It was not, perhaps, that either of us didn't have some deep feeling for the other; the subject just didn't come up, and neither of us insisted. I think the fact that it didn't come up told its own story.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, I took Jeannine and the boys out to dinner. The boys had had a traditional Thanksgiving with their mother and their maternal grandparents. I think we all felt that our dinner out was a kind of second best, which put something of a damper on it. The boys regarded Jeannine warily, but not unkindly. Mostly, they didn't know quite what to make of her or our relationship.

At Christmas, Jeannine went home. Home for her was a little town in southwestern Illinois. The most frequent subject for discussion among high school students there, she told me, was how much they hated small town life and the limited opportunities it offered. They'd seen the big, wide, world on television and they wanted their piece of it; their primary goal after graduation was to get out of town. Jeannine was one of the very few who had actually made the escape. Her family and old friends remained, and she still visited twice a year, once as part of a summer vacation and again at Christmas.

Had it not been for the boys, I wouldn't have put up a tree. They celebrated Christmas eve with their mother, and came to see me on Christmas day. We exchanged gifts, then sat down to a turkey dinner I'd prepared--mashed potatoes and gravy, yams, green bean and onion ring casserole--the whole works. It was a lonely affair, and I think that, for the boys, two half-Christmases did not a whole Christmas make. Suffice it to say that the holidays were uncomfortable, and I was not sorry to see them pass.

I picked Jeannine up at the airport when she returned to town, and we spent the night together, but things were not immediately the same as they'd been before she left.

When we got back to Vida Libre, she dumped her bags in her apartment and came over to mine. "I missed you," I said, folding her into a hug. "How was your Christmas?"

"It was... hard," she said. "I really don't want to talk about it, if you don't mind."

In bed, after a couple of kisses, Jeannine said, "I'm really pooped from traveling. I think I'd just like to cuddle tonight," and rolled over and was asleep in minutes.

It took us a the better part of a week to recover from the disjointedness of the holidays, but we did settle back into our routine.

Life was looking good as 2000 rolled through its first quarter. I was over the initial pain of my divorce, I was living in a nice place, I had a lover for whom I cared a great deal, and Silicon Valley was smokin'. The dot-coms were going strong and their need for more network hardware was doing wonders for Milpitas Systems. In May of 1999, its stock had split two for one from 122 to 61; on February 22, 2000, it split two for one yet again, from 144 to 72, and by the first of march March, it was had already climbed back up to 86. I'd been participating in the employee stock purchase program all during my seven years with the company, and my portfolio was looking so good that I started giving serious consideration to cashing in my chips and retiring to... Well, retiring to somewhere. Maybe to the mountains, away from the nerve-jangling pace of Silicon Valley and its smog, anyway.

On Friday, March 10, 2000, the Nasdaq Composite Index peaked at 5,048.62, more than double its value the year before, and then dropped almost vertically. Virtually overnight, the world realized that you couldn't make money from nothing, and the dot-com bubble burst. Although Milpitas Systems sold hardware and was sitting on a huge bundle of cash, also gone overnight was the public's faith in all get-rich-quick high tech stocks, and by March 27, the value of the company's stock had plummeted from 86 to 16--less than the strike price of most of my options. I was no longer a paper millionaire, and I could no longer dream of an early retirement.

In a company-wide broadcast to employees, the CEO vowed to avoid mass layoffs if he could, and, in a dramatic move, announced that he was cutting his salary to $1 per year until the company was back on its feet again.

I was down, but not out. I did have a reserve in the bank, and I still had a job. The CEO, who was a more honest and ethical man than any other in a comparable position, held to his promise about layoffs. What happened instead, after a while, was that whole product and research lines were dropped or canceled--and all the people who'd been working on those projects became superfluous. Everybody in Milpitas Systems hunkered down and hoped for the best. Morale was lower than the stock price, and if somebody dropped a book, the whole office jumped.

On May 31, I'd no sooner turned the key in my apartment door when Jeannine rushed up, looking absolutely pole-axed. "Jacqui and I got laid off today," she said, throwing her arms around my neck and bursting into tears. I let her in and just held her and patted her back until she quit crying. I poured us both a glass of chardonnay and set about whipping up a spinach and mushroom omelette for dinner.

When we finished eating, we retired to the living room, and I ventured to ask, "Do know what you're going to do?"

"They gave me two weeks' severance, and I had a few days of unused vacation time. I have a little money in savings, but not enough to live on for long. Our rent is paid through the end of June." She fidgeted with the buttons on her blouse. "Jacqui's in even worse shape than I am--any money she had over the essentials went straight to clothes and partying."

"Sounds like you don't have a whole lot of leeway," I said.

"I don't. No job, no apartment. I have to look for another job, but..."

We both knew there weren't any jobs. Although Milpitas Systems was laying people off a relative few at a time, whole companies had ceased to exist almost as quickly as the bubble burst, and there were 10,000 people suddenly unemployed. The the ads for high-tech jobs in the San Jose Mercury News all but disappeared; the job boards on the web were empty as well.

I didn't know what the loss of her job really meant to Jeannine, other than the obvious. We hadn't talked about futures, and I realized, rather stupidly, that I had no idea whether she was looking for home and family, an ultimate position as VP of marketing for some company somewhere along the line, a big house on a hill, or what. Jeannine looked for another job, but without much enthusiasm, and, during the next couple of weeks, she and turned more and more inward.

Then, after dinner one night, she sat on the couch with her hands folded in her lap and tears running down her cheeks, and said, "I've had it, Mike. I'm going back home."

My heart fell--but, at the same time, I understood that, although Jeannine had been living in California for ten years, home was still back there. Here was--had been--something else. An adventure, maybe, and the adventure was over. There was virtually nothing more to be said.

Jeannine sold her car--at way less than Blue Book--and Jacqui, who had found a friend who would put her up, at least for a while, took most of their apartment's furnishings. Ultimately, we had to lug a couch and two end tables to the dumpster. So many people were moving out--everywhere, not just from Vida Libre--that you literally couldn't give furniture away. Jeannine ended up spending a week with me after Jacqui's and her beds went.

We were both big kids, and we knew better than to make ourselves more miserable by whining and complaining about how awful things were, how unfair life was, or how lousy we felt. I went to work during the day, and we gave each other comfort in the dark. The night before her departure, we made love, slowly and tenderly, but with no words of loss or consideration for the future. The next morning, I took Jeannine to the airport, and she was gone.

Yes, I missed Jeannine. I missed her company. I missed her comfort, and I missed giving comfort to her. But I didn't feel that aching sense of loss that the divorce had caused me. I adjusted my daily routine around her absence and kept putting one foot dully in front of the other.

For the rest of this story, you need to Log In or Register

Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / Romantic /