I was in Las Vegas, at the Merchandise Expo, manning the small booth I'd built to display my line of wind Chimes. It was well into the third day of a four day show, and my gross profits had just climbed to break even point for the show. I'd spent a little more than six thousand on fees for the booth and for putting my products on display. So far, I'd taken firm orders for a tad more than three thousand units to be delivered during the following month. From this point forward, I'd be in the black with every extra unit sold.
My girlfriend, Leslie, had called me three times that day, anxious to hear that I'd at least broken even for my efforts. She still couldn't believe that I'd entered into an agreement to purchase sixty thousand wind chimes spread over the next ten months. Sometimes it seemed unreal to me as well, but there you have it, and I'd acted impulsively in order to force certain career path changes on myself.
I'd been drifting along with my small town mentality, content with being a large minnow in a small sized pond. I was your basic small time operator, buying a little bit of this or that closeout, then selling what I'd purchased, just as soon as I could, taking a fat middleman's profit on the deal. It paid all my expenses, but offered no real future that I could see. When I was younger, I didn't need to see any future. The present being taken care of was more than enough for me.
That was then though, before I turned twenty five. Back then, I only had myself that I needed to worry about. Things had been changing lately though, and now I felt a need to make something more of myself. I was slowly getting to a place where I was isolating my responsibilities, accepting those I chose, rejecting those I no longer wished to assume on other's behalf.
Mainly, it was my brother Danny, his wife, Kaitlyn, and their three children that I was pulling back from taking too much responsibility for. I didn't consider Leslie a responsibility; to me, she represented more of an opportunity. We had a long, and somewhat checkered past history with each other. One that covered many different phases, and one so volatile, that she and I hadn't been either in contact, on speaking terms, or on each other's radar screens for the vast majority of the time we'd known each other.
I think I was either four or five the first time I saw Leslie Ackerman. Whatever my age, she was a month younger than I was. She was mean and bossy, but we both had nearly identical interests. She was the leader, and there could be no doubt that she was. We tried to change our relationship once, from best friends to boyfriend/girlfriend, but that had ended disastrously in a matter of scant days. From the time we were ten years old, until I was almost twenty four, she and I had nothing to do with each other. It was my brother, Danny, who had suggested her name as a possible employee, back when I was first beginning to try to expand my business.
Leslie had broken her back in a bad fall from a horse, becoming paralyzed in both her legs. She was either fourteen or fifteen when this happened. From that point on, she was forced to live her life from a wheelchair. This had occurred at a time when she and I were no longer in contact. I'd been aware of her accident, but it hadn't registered at the time like it probably should have. I'd lost both my parents when I was eleven, and had gone to live with my brother and his wife. I was too self involved in my own circumstances to give much thought to anything not directly impacting on me.
Even when Leslie and I renewed our acquaintanceship, it wasn't a case of smooth sailing from that point forward. Although I grew to feel an emotional attraction for her, our lives were still badly out of synchronization. We had different perspectives, and were trying to satisfy disparate needs. Once again, this lack of being in the right place with similar needs caused us to grow apart. Feeling this estrangement from Leslie had played a large role in my determining that I needed to make some pretty radical changes to the way I was living my life.
I'd acquired a coterie of hangers on. I'd taken responsibility for my brother for many years, believing that he needed the support I provided him with. The same was true for his wife and for their three kids, usually ending up with me providing whatever Danny and Kaitlyn fell short of producing for themselves. I tried rescuing them when it would have been better to have allowed them to experience the full brunt of their failures to be prudent and responsible.
There was also Bridget, Kaitlyn's sister, and her lover Delilah. Both girls had been a little older than me, and a year ahead of me in school. Somehow I'd ended up living with both these women, providing them with shelter and security in return for receiving their sexual favors. Delilah was bisexual, but Bridget was nearly exclusively gay. In our many threesome's, most of whatever pleasure she derived, came from Delilah's touch. Delilah and Bridget traded their affections to me, but shared a much higher level of true emotion with each other. For me, that trade off was one I'd deemed worthwhile.
The previous December, after I'd shed myself of all responsibility for my brother, his family, and these two girls, I began to realize that I needed Leslie back in my life. When I communicated this fact to her, she happily agreed to give me another chance. We'd also agreed on a business/personal partnership, and to working together in the hopes of realizing a much more ambitious business plan.
Leslie had three more years of schooling to complete, and while she was engaged in doing this, I was taking it upon myself to lay a firm foundation for the wholesale marketing operation I had recently envisioned, and, later, had offered to share with her.
The same show promoters who put on the Las Vegas Expo were promoting additional shows in Atlanta and New York City. I had agreed, tentatively, to sign up to operate a small booth for both shows, subject to my sales results at the Las Vegas show being adequate. At eight that evening, as the third day of the show started winding down, I went over to the promoter's office and finalized my commitments for both shows. This represented another five thousand in show fees for me, but I was more than willing to break even on sales and expenses in order to build up a client and prospect list of potential buyers of these chimes I was representing.
My ultimate plans called for adding quite a few new product lines in the years ahead, and making far fewer trade show appearances while keeping in close personal contact through email offerings and phone solicitations of the buyers I was beginning to meet and get acquainted with. The wind chimes represented little more than a product to introduce myself with.
By the end of the fourth and last day at the show, I was really exhausted. I'd done everything by myself, including manning my booth the entire time the show was open. I'd prevailed on my neighbors on each side of my booth to watch things while I ran off to take a quick break to the bathroom, or else over to the snack area to get a fast bite to eat and something to drink. I'd also learned quite a bit just from speaking with some of the other exhibitors. I'd already known that the economy was struggling, but I felt better hearing people complaining about how low the turnout of buyers was, and the paucity of orders they were getting now, when their orders were compared to years past, at a time when the economy was more robust.
I figured my making a small profit, exhibiting during an admittedly weak part of the business cycle, boded quite well for my future prospects. It took me several hours to tear down and repackage my display, even though I was practically forced into paying the convention center people an exorbitant fee to truck my boxes out to where my pickup was parked. I left town at nine that last evening, determined to make the three hour drive back to my house in Hesperia.
Leslie and I had a nice little reunion when I got in just after midnight. She'd stayed up she said, not just to hear the final figures on how sales had gone, but also so that I could have sex with her and help her get the first decent night's sleep she'd have since I'd left to go to the show. It was no sacrifice for me to help her with that.
With some people, sex is something uncomplicated, involving two people who are willing, and a few moments of highly pleasurable effort. With Les's injuries, this wasn't the case for us. Her areas of tactile sensitivity were almost exclusively above her waist. It took a lot longer to bring her to the point where she had any degree of sensitivity or sensual feeling below her waist. The hotter she became from our above the waist foreplay, the more receptive she was to anything going on down there.
She was like a heavily laden locomotive, trying to pull a hundred freight cars. It took her awhile to get going, to overcome the heavy resistance of all that weight to pull. Once she got that train rolling though, her pussy, clit, and ass area became just as sensitized as any other woman's. I had fun for those first thirty minutes while I warmed up her little engine, and, when her little train left the station, I held on to her as tightly as I could and enjoyed the wild ride.
I never tired of the process, realizing that you appreciate anything that you had to work harder to obtain. Leslie felt the exact same way, and having waited so very long to realize her first significant, no doubt about it, orgasm, gave her fulsome thanks, to whatever power she recognized, each time she was rewarded with yet another pleasure filled "O". She gave me far more credit for producing these for her than I knew I deserved. I meant to let her know that I wasn't anything special in that department, but, somehow, I never seemed to get around to it.
"I think I'm addicted to this, Jimmy. I never was before, but these past few months, its like I can't get enough of this."
"We're getting better, too Babe. We're starting to get synchronized, like those underwater ballet teams at the Olympics. You should look into getting this added as an event at the Paraplegic Olympics, I'm sure we'd medal."
"I could enter, but I'm afraid you wouldn't be eligible, not with your present level of mobility. Still, I think you're right about adding this as an event. Do you think I should put an ad up on the bulletin board over at the rehab center, to maybe try to find another partner I could enter the competition with?"
"On second thought, maybe we should just keep practicing. The organizers would never sanction the event for the games. The last thing they'd want is everybody fucking and having fun. No one would want to enter any of the other, boring, events then."
"Do you think there's something wrong with me, wondering what it would be like with someone else?"
Leslie and I had discussed her lack of experience with any other guys, and her not knowing how sex with me would stack up if she had another experience to judge it by. I thought of her curiosity as something that was perfectly natural. If she had been my only experience with a girl, I knew I'd wonder too.
The first few times she'd mentioned her curiosity, I'd dismissed it as just her trying to tease me. After I'd given it some thought though, I could see why she'd have some interest in finding out for herself what she might be missing out on. Don't get me wrong though, I wasn't one of those guys who had these fantasies about seeing his wife or girlfriend with another man. I didn't want that, and I considered her refraining from doing it with anyone else, a lynch pin in our ongoing romance. She could be with me, or she could go out and play the field, but she couldn't do both.
"Wondering is healthy. I don't see how you could help thinking about the subject. Thinking about it isn't a problem for me. If you ever decided to act on it, to satisfy your curiosity, that would be a very big problem for me, and for us as a couple."
"Why wasn't it a problem when you were doing Dee and Bridget at the same time we were doing things?"
"When we did things before, we weren't a couple. We are a couple now. I expect sexual fidelity from you, and I'm committed to being faithful to you as well."
"I can't help wondering. I know that sounds terrible, but I'm trying to be honest too. I wouldn't ever do anything behind your back, so you don't need to be worried."
"It isn't that I'm worried, Les. I don't want you thinking its that. I know how I am about some things, and this is one of those things I feel strongly about. I spent years seeing what Kaitlyn's antics ended up doing to Danny and their marriage. I wouldn't put up with any of that. If you're that curious, then we should just agree to part ways before anything happens that would turn me against you. If anything happened while we were supposed to still be a couple, that would end it for me, as soon as I found out about it."
"Why does it have to be like that for you? Maybe I should have done something back when you were having fun with Dee and Bridget before. If I'd known it was going to be my only chance, I probably would have."
I went to sleep upset that night. Her wanting to be with someone else was almost as bad as her actually going out and doing it. Still, if I put myself in her position, I'd have wondered too. Why couldn't she have gone out and fucked a few guys like everybody else? Before I fell in love with her, and before I'd decided that I wanted her to be my life's partner? It was too late for that now. I wouldn't stand for her to go out and experiment with other people now. It was too much for her to ever expect me to. She wasn't considering my feelings, only her own.
Neither of us brought that subject up again during the following two months. I wasn't convinced that she'd given up her curiosity, but I assumed she understood that the cost of indulging that curiosity was higher than either of us could afford, or would want to pay.
I was packing up for my trip to Atlanta, heading for the first of the two additional trade shows I'd signed up for in Las Vegas. This time I'd be taking a lot of chimes with me, planning on making a few deliveries on the way there, and even more on my way back home, from the orders I'd taken at the first show. I came down through the garage, carrying my suitcase containing all my clothes and toiletries just as Leslie was getting back from her classes down the hill.
I stopped to give her a kiss and fill her in on how close I was to having everything I'd need packed and ready for the next morning's trip. She chose this time to hit me with her little bombshell of an announcement.
"Jimmy, please don't interrupt me until I'm finished telling you what I need to, okay?"
I knew, just from how nervous she was acting, that this was important to her. I nodded my head to her, signaling my agreement not to interrupt. Then, I spoke to her.
"If this is bad news, could it possibly wait until I get back from my trip? I really don't need anything taking my mind off of what we need to get accomplished at the show."
"It doesn't have to be bad news, that's up to you. For me, it isn't anything that needs to be bad. It will only be bad if you decide it has to be."
To say I had a bad feeling when she told me that, well let's just say that is an understatement. I already had this flashing light of an insight telling me exactly what she wanted to talk to me about.
"Please don't start talking about you being with someone else."
"You knew I was going to ask you about it again?"
"I didn't know, but I kind of suspected you weren't through talking about it yet. You may as well go ahead and tell me what you're planning to do."
"What you said before, about how it would have been all right, if it had happened before we were committed to each other. I wanted you to know that I'm sure I love you, and I want the same thing you want, for us to always be together. I really want that, but I also want to be sure that we both don't have any unanswered questions before we decide that this is it. I still have questions, and the more I think about them, the more they're becoming reservations and doubts. I don't want anything left unresolved between us."
"Are we speaking of only theoretical maybe's here, or is there someone, a specific someone, that you're entertaining the idea of wanting to be with?" I was using all my self control, trying to keep all my emotions out of my voice as I spoke to her.
"I haven't decided anything yet, Jimmy. It isn't what you might think. What I'm asking you is whether there's a way that we could take some kind of a break, a time when we'd both be free to get some things resolved, without either of us doing anything to permanently hurt our relationship?"
"A timeout, so one of us or both of us could fuck somebody else in order to satisfy any curiosity we might have? Is that what you're trying to ask me?"
"We never discussed what you would expect back when you asked me for a merger. I didn't think about this other thing at the time. I hadn't given any of these things much thought, other than what you were saying sounded better than what I already had. Now I am thinking about other things, and I can't see any good reason why you can't work with me on it."
"You didn't answer my question. Is this hypothetical, or do you have someone in mind?"
"It isn't cut and dried like you're accusing me of. Yes, I have someone in mind, as a possible candidate, but he has no idea that I might be thinking about him like that. Nothing would happen if you tell me I can't."
"I'm not going to tell you that. This is a decision you need to make. I already told you how I'd feel if you did what you're considering. You can take any action you feel comfortable with. I appreciate you checking with me and giving me this advance warning. I don't even want to discuss this with you now. I'm leaving, and I'll be gone for at least two and a half weeks. I won't give you permission, and I'm not giving you any time outs either. If this is so important to you, you'll just have to accept whatever consequences your actions bring."
"This is such a double standard. You've already made sure you had enough different experiences to last you. I'm not trying to catch up with you. I think we should see other people for awhile. At least until I'm sure about us."
"I'm fine with that. You're free to see whoever you want, and so am I. See how easy that was? Of course, now that we've broken up, we'd both be a lot more comfortable if you moved somewhere else. When I get back, you need to be out of here, and take all your stuff with you when you go."
I turned away from her and took my suitcase over to the big truck. I knew I was getting very close to exploding. I had an issue with my anger management, and the last thing I wanted to do was say something I'd never be able to take back. All I could think about, as I drove over to my storage shed, was that Leslie really didn't understand how my mind worked. If she did understand, she'd know our relationship was already finished. We'd had our agreement, and I'd already told her what that agreement meant. You couldn't break one part of an agreement and expect any of the rest of it to still be in force. I was done with her, and we were definitely finished. She called me on my cell phone twenty times that night, but I wouldn't answer. She and I were finished. Nothing she said could change that for me.
By the time I pulled into Atlanta, four days later, I'd already modified my business plan to take into consideration the new reality that I'd be operating everything on my own. I made a call to a real estate broker that I knew, asking him to list my house for immediate sale. I was disappointed when he told me what I could expect to get, but I'd already known how weak the housing market was. I called Danny too, and told him that he and Kaitlyn were welcome to come over to my house and pick out any furniture they wanted to have. I told him I was selling the house and moving out of Hesperia. I didn't tell him where I was moving to. I couldn't, because I had no idea yet myself.
In some ways I was grateful to Leslie for making me understand that you couldn't count on anyone but yourself. I'd been foolish enough to try to believe otherwise. As lessons went, this one hadn't been that expensive to learn. I still had my money, my business, and my personal standards. All three were important to me, but I knew my personal standards meant more to me than the other two combined.