Not a lot of sex in this story but hope that you take the time to read it. A big 'Thank you' to Mistress Lynn for her ideas and her editing.
"Jim, are you interested in going on a three day cruise?" my friend Bill asked.
"I thought you were taking your latest girlfriend, Gail. Weren't you going to surprise her with the cruise on your three month anniversary? What happened?"
"I dropped by where she works at her lunch time. She was making out with her ex-boyfriend in the parking garage when I got there. So I guess I'm the one who got surprised," Bill replied.
"So, what happened? What did you do?"
"She saw me and her mouth flew open. Don't know if she was scared, surprised or both. She quickly locked her door and put her boobs back in her bra. I told her to roll down the fucking window or I'd break it."
"What did the guy do during this time?" I asked.
"He was putting his cock back in his pants and zipping up. Wouldn't be surprised if he shit himself. Gail rolled her window down about two inches. I called her a worthless cunt, a cheating bitch, whore, slut and anything else I could think of.
"I showed her the cruise tickets and she started to cry. I told her it was too late, she had made her choice. Then I pointed at the asshole she was with. I really wanted to kick his ass but neither one of them was worth going to jail over. I did tell him if I ever saw him alone that I would beat the living shit out of him. Before they said anything, I got back in my car and left," Bill said.
"So, what's next?"
"She called me on the cell to apologize. I told her to go fuck herself; she didn't get a second chance. Now I have this extra ticket for the cruise and I thought you might want to go along."
"Why me, Bill? Can't you find another girl to go? There are probably a lot of women who would like to go."
"Since I'm not taking Gail, I thought I would just go and see how lucky I get. This is an adult cruise. It's mainly for singles and romantics. Plus, I have to find someone who can get off work to go. Since your dad owns the business, I figured you wouldn't have a problem getting three days off," Bill said.
Jim shrugged his shoulders and grinned. "I'll let you know later."
"Okay, Jim. I'll see you tomorrow. It's time for me to get home."
It's about time to tell you a little about myself. I'm Jim Taylor. I've been married, divorced, and almost married again. I was first married when I was a kid; well, I was twenty, but acted like a kid. When I was about to go into the service, I asked my girlfriend to marry me.
I wasn't in love with Kim, but I sure the hell was in lust. My dad told me not to get married. He said I was pussy whipped and thinking with my dick. Of course, I went ahead and married Kim against his advice. To this day I don't know why I did it, probably to spite dad.
Kim was a looker but also somewhat of a slut. She married me figuring she would get a check every month from the government. I will say she was one hell of a fuck. We pretty much did an all-nighter the day before I left for basic training.
I wrote to her whenever I could, and she answered a couple of my letters. I was home for two weeks before being shipped off overseas. We fucked like rabbits the entire time I was home, but something seemed different.
She asked to go out with her girlfriends a couple of times. When I caught her talking on the phone, she abruptly hung up. She always had an excuse. Something told me she was cheating on me, but I didn't have the time to check into it.
Three months after I shipped out, she wrote and told me she was pregnant. Of course she said it was mine. I wasn't sure what to do. Then she told me she was moving to Iowa; she had family there and it was lonely where we lived.
I was getting letters from Kim telling me how she missed me and that the baby was doing fine. She had moved into an apartment building near some of her friends. This sure sounded suspicious seeing she couldn't have met and made friends with so many people in such a short time.
There was no way for me to find out if anything she told me was true. If the kid was mine, I could accept that. But I didn't want to raise someone else's kid for the next eighteen years. I did the only thing I could; I asked my dad for help.
I explained the situation to him and he agreed to check into it. He gave me the third degree for being so stupid in the first place though. Looking back, I realized I should have listened to him from the beginning.
My dad owned a construction company. It was started by his father and then passed down to him. He was worth a considerable amount of money and had over a hundred people working for him full time. I know he also paid a number of people under the table. In the business circles, people considered dad a powerful man, one not to mess with.
I figured that was why Kim wanted to move away. In our state, my dad could keep a watchful eye on her. Even though he and I didn't always see eye to eye, he was my father and I respected him. I believe he really tried to do his best for his family.
Dad wrote back that Kim was indeed pregnant. She was living in a commune of sorts with a man named Jerry Hadley. They lived in a big apartment building, where the other people there were quite wild and free.
I called Kim telling her what I had heard. I didn't mention that my dad checked on it for me, but she probably figured that out anyway. She told me in no uncertain terms that the baby was mine, and that I was going to pay for it. That was when I realized all she was interested in was the monthly check.
She added that there was no way she was going to divorce me, and there was nothing I could do about it for the next three years since I was overseas. She told me how pitiful I was and that I wasn't half the lover as Jerry was.
I was becoming a mess, so I called my dad to see what I could do. He told me he would take care of it. If the baby was mine, then I would take responsibility. I wasn't going to shun my duties as a father.
Dad later wrote me and told me Kim about freaked out when my dad showed up at her door.
"The child I'm carrying is Jim's and he will have to support it," Kim said.
"As soon as the baby is born, we'll do a DNA test. If it's not his, I will personally take you to court for any payments and expenses that Jim has incurred. If my son is the father, then I will see that you get child support until he is out of the service. When he's back, we will go for custody proving your living conditions are undesirable for raising my grandchild," James said.
"You can't do that! Who do you think you are? It's my kid and I'll raise it any way I please," shouted Kim. "In fact, I'm not even giving Jim a divorce until he's out of the service."
"Kim, I have a counter offer for you. I'm willing to make a bet that it's not Jim's child. After I leave here, I'm going to the clinic and find out how far along you are. By the size of your belly, I'm betting Jim was already overseas when this child was conceived. You can stop this silly game and save all of us a lot of trouble. I'll give you twenty-five thousand dollars today if you admit Jim isn't the father and give him a divorce."
"I'd get a lot more than that in spousal payments and later child support."
"Jim is filing for divorce. I'm taking the papers to the courthouse. Your spousal support will stop very soon. You might get one or two more checks. As far as the child support goes, we'll know if you get anything as soon as the baby is born. It's your choice. How sure are you that it's Jim's baby?"
Needless to say, the divorce went through and I never did do a DNA test. Dad kept in touch and let me know that the baby was born ten and a half months after I left the states. I never did see Kim again.
After returning from the service, I began working for my dad at the construction company. I had always loved seeing the finished product of what we built.
Something I might mention here. My dad's name was James Edward Taylor. Everyone called him James. I on the other hand was James Elliot Taylor. I was named James after my father and Elliot after my grandfather. I went by Jimmy when I was a kid and then later as I got older everyone called me Jim. Mom didn't want me to be a junior.
I dated a lot of different women after returning home, seldom going out with the same one more than three times. After that, they seemed to want to dominate the relationship. I wasn't ready to get serious yet, preferring to play the field and just worry about myself.
About two years later, I got involved with Elaine. She was a secretary for one of the firms we dealt with. Good looking, sexy and had some fine attributes. Our sex life together was really good. We became a couple and eventually she moved in with me.
I liked her a lot but I don't think I really loved her at the time. The reason I say that is because I didn't know what love was. I liked being with her, and the sex was great, but something wasn't quite right.
Maybe we were too opposite; not having enough in common. A couple of examples might be that I was kind of a neat freak. When I took my clothes off, I either hung them up or put them in the hamper. Elaine would just throw hers anywhere. Two days later I would be picking them up. I guess I got the neatness from the service.
Elaine always wanted to eat out. I didn't have a big problem with that, but sometimes I liked to have dinner at home and relax. I would just as soon throw on some burgers and watch sports on TV. That was another problem with Elaine. She didn't like sports and figured I spent too much time watching them.
Our relationship was like a lot of marriages that I knew, but I had never considered them successful ones. Maybe I was just asking for too much. I had to laugh when I asked my friend Bill, who was married twice, how he knew he was in love. I'll never forget his answer, because I sure didn't expect it.
"Well Jim, to be honest, I asked myself if I would be willing to share my partner if I was a swinger. If the answer was yes, then I figured I didn't love her."
"You're crazy! What the hell kind of answer is that?" I asked when I finished laughing.
"I'm serious! Hear me out. I don't mean cheating. If she did that, then it's goodbye forever. I'm saying that if I found another woman attractive and her husband was willing to swap, would I do it? Would I share my partner? If the answer was yes, then I knew we didn't love each other."
"Okay, Bill, I have to ask. Did you ever share your girlfriend, or wife, for that matter?"
"I won't tell you whom I shared but I did three times. Two ended up with us breaking up and one in a divorce. I was as much at fault as the women. It takes two if you're going to swing, and changes everything in a relationship. If I'm going to swing with a particular woman, then I shouldn't be in a long term relationship with her. I now know from experience that it won't work out."
I had to admit the concept really seemed weird, but at least he had an idea about his relationships. It was a lot more than I had going. I was living and sharing a life with a woman and I couldn't see a future with her.
My sister, Sherry, was getting married, and asked if I would be an usher. I of course would do anything for her. I looked out for her and her girlfriends throughout their school years. She had met her fiancé Brad about a year ago. He came in to do a repair on our computer system and the two of them fell in love at first site. I always wished that I could find someone to spend the rest of my life with that easily.
One evening, I went over to mom and dads so Sherry could tell us about her wedding plans. Elaine wasn't interest in coming; she and my sister didn't really hit it off. After all the talk about the wedding, I asked Brad how he knew Sherry was the one for him.
"I don't really know. When I looked at her and saw that beautiful smile, I just felt a ping in my heart. I don't remember ever feeling that way before. The more we talked, the more I wanted to be with her," answered Brad.
"He looked so good standing there, trying to figure out what to say," said Sherry.
"It was because I didn't want to walk away from you," replied Brad.
"After Brad ran out of things to say, he asked me if I would go out with him. I smiled, said yes, and we've been together ever since. It was one of the best decisions I ever made," Sherry replied as she leaned over and gave Brad a kiss.
"What about you, Dad? How did you and mom get together?" I asked.
"Well, it was a long time ago," he said and laughed. "Your mom worked in the bakery. I went in there one day to pick up some donuts. She saw me and started flirting. So I asked her out. She jumped at the idea of going out with me. We hit it off and got married a few months later."
Mom reached over and slapped his arm. "James, you know that's not true. I'll tell the kids the truth." Dad was laughing out loud now.
"I did work in the bakery. Your grandfather sent someone over to get donuts for the working crew most every day. Your father always volunteered to get them. He would come in acting all mucho, and flirted with me. I did my best to ignore him, but I really liked him. Day after day he would ask me out and I always told him no. He was persistent though. I was hoping he wouldn't get tired of asking me out, because I planned to say yes one day."
"And you did," dad said with a laugh.
"I'm telling this story now, James. Yes, I did eventually accept, but there is more to the story. My mom owned the bakery and worked in the back. She asked me why I didn't want to go out with that big hunk of a man, meaning your father. I told her that not only was I going to go out with him, but I was going to marry him. He just didn't know it yet. You should have seen my mom's expression. She knew I meant it."
"Go on, Mom. You never told us this before," said Sherry.
"One day we were quite busy. A couple girls were sitting there eating when your dad walked up to their table. He started talking to them but kept looking at me. I'm sure he was trying to make me jealous.
"This guy, who was known as a bully, grabbed my arm when I went to give him his takeout order and said he wanted a kiss. I was scared and told him to let go. He laughed, saying he wasn't letting go till he got that kiss.
"Your dad got up, jerked the guys arm, and bent it behind his back. You know, like one of those wrestling holds. Dad said the next time the bully messed with his girl, that he would give him a solid pounding. Then he threw the guy on the floor.
"The guy said he was sorry, that he honestly didn't know I was your dad's woman. Boy was he scared. Your dad tossed him his box of donuts and told him to get the hell out. He jumped up, apologized to me, and left the bakery."
"What happened next?" Sherry asked.
"James came up to the counter and asked me out. I told him since everyone else would be afraid to ask me for a date, I might as well go out with him. It's funny, but I liked him from the first time I saw his arrogant butt come in the bakery. My heart went ping whenever I saw him come in," mom replied.
"Honey, my heart fluttered from the start too," dad said as he gave mom a kiss.
"Hey you two, get a room." I laughed, but I hoped someday I could have a life and relationship like they had.
After the stories, I told sis I would be there for her rehearsal dinner. Elaine wouldn't be at the dinner but was going to the wedding. Sherry didn't say anything, since she had told me before that Elaine and I didn't belong together.
She gave me a hug as I left and said, "I love you, Jim."
The day of the rehearsal, we all met at the church. Sherry had four bridesmaids and I was one of the four groomsmen. She and I were talking while we waited for the rest of the people to show up.
I looked up and my heart went ping. I swear it did. Standing in the doorway was the most gorgeous woman I had ever seen. She had red hair down to her shoulders, big blue eyes and the prettiest smile on her face.
"I didn't know if she was smiling at Sherry or me. Sherry looked up and grinned. The two of them kind of met in the middle of the aisle and hugged. I walked over to the two of them and this woman smiled at me.
"Hi, Jim, Sherry told me you would be my partner in her wedding. Don't I at least get a hug? I haven't seen you for so many years."
My god, I couldn't remember ever meeting this woman. No, I decided she had me mixed up with someone else, but I accepted her hug. That's when I looked down and saw her belly and realized she must be pregnant.
"Don't squeeze her too hard Jim. As you can see, she's going to have a baby. You don't remember her, do you? You used to refer to her as little redhead. My best friend Sarah, ever since grade school," Sherry said.
"No, it can't be. The last time I saw you I remember you had pigtails, braces, and glasses."
"Yep! That's me. Just combed my hair, braces came off years ago and I wear contacts. I'm a little older and now a lot fatter," she said, pointing to her belly.
Damn, why was my heart missing beats. She was just an old friend of my sisters. This wasn't like me. Maybe talking with my parents and my sister warped my mind a little. Surely I couldn't care about this woman already. Besides, she was married and pregnant.
I was glad when my sister said we better start the rehearsal, since I was lost for words. I have to say that Sarah intrigued me. I don't know why, but figured it would pass.
When I got home after the rehearsal, Elaine asked how it went. I told her fine and that Sherry was really happy. Elaine tried to start an argument about my family not liking her. But I told her if she would go to some of our family dinners instead of going out with her girl friends, they might get to know her better.
I got pissed when she said she wasn't about to give up her friends to be with my family. I knew that was the beginning of the end. It's not that Elaine was horrible. We just didn't belong together, and I think we both knew it.
The next day I couldn't stop thinking about Sarah. What the hell was wrong with me? Elaine and I showed up for the wedding. Sherry looked so nice in her wedding dress. It was hard to believe my little sister was all grown up and getting married.
Elaine sat in the pew near my family. They all welcomed her but she was a little stand-offish. I could tell she really didn't want to be friends with my family.
I was talking with the other groomsmen when I spotted Sarah. She looked so beautiful in her blue dress. All during the ceremony, I couldn't get Sarah out of my mind. I found myself watching her instead of my sister.
At the reception we were seated at round tables, eight at each one. Elaine sat next to me with my mom and dad on my other side. My sister and her new husband sat on the other side of dad. Sarah and her husband Derek sat next to Elaine.
Everyone was in really good spirits, even Elaine. She spent most of her time talking to Derek. It was the first time that everyone but sis had met him. He didn't seem a bad sort, but somewhat on the arrogant side as far as I was concerned. He was a flatterer, telling Elaine how pretty she was.
When it came time to dance, I first asked Elaine. Later they had the wedding party go onto the dance floor. I took Sarah by the hand. She smelled so good and seemed so happy. I almost hated it when the song ended.
After a while, Derek asked Sarah to dance. She said she was too tired and the song was too fast for her, because of her pregnancy. Then he asked Elaine. She jumped up and headed to the dance floor. I sat and talked with Sarah.
"How did you and Derek meet?" I asked.
"Well, my parents own a hardware store. Derek was one of the salesmen that always came in. About a year ago, he asked me out and I accepted. He lived in Indiana then, but his area was over a Tri-state. Ohio was one of them. Whenever he came to town, we would go out."
"So how long have you been married?"
She looked down at the table before answering me. "We were married a month ago. Yes, I got pregnant. I was on the pill but I caught the flu and stopped taking them while I was sick. He came to Ohio the following week. I guess I hadn't taken the pills long enough according to the doctor.
"I was scared, but mom and dad said they would help me out. I'm their only child and I knew I had hurt them. They expected better from me and I let them down." She had a tear in her eye as she spoke.
"The next time Derek came to town, my dad had a talk with him. Derek asked me to marry him then. I don't know if dad bribed him or what," she said with a slight smile.
"I don't think anyone would need a bribe to marry someone as pretty and nice as you." I smiled at her but in my heart I knew I meant it.
"Thank you, kind sir," she said to me. "Anyway, last month we went to Las Vegas and got married. We're staying at mom and dads right now. Next week we'll be moving into our own place."
Derek and Elaine danced quite a while before coming back to the table. He was flirting with her, and I could tell by Elaine's actions that she was taking it all in. Elaine is a good looking woman, I'll admit that. You can't take that from her, but her personality was on and off. Sometimes she was nice and other times she acted like a bitch.
"Guess what Derek told me?" Elaine asked. "He's moving into our sub-division, just around the corner from us. I invited them over next week when Derek is in town. I thought maybe you could get one of your dad's trucks and help move Sarah's stuff."
"Do you live in the Fairview addition?" asked Sarah.
"As a matter of fact, we do. If you need some help moving your things, I'll be glad to help."
Mom and dad overheard what Elaine said. I knew they wouldn't mind helping Sarah and Derek, but I felt they should have been asked properly.
Dad smiled. "Sarah, just let us know when and we'll see you get moved. We just need a couple of days notice to get the truck emptied. My, you sure turned out to be a beautiful woman. I remember when you were the little red-haired girl playing dolls with Sherry. Boy, you two sure grew up quick."
I got a quick glare from Elaine. She asked me to dance. I guess that was the first she found out that I had been friends with Sarah.
"Why didn't you tell me you knew Sarah? Was she one of your old girlfriends that your parents liked?"
"Elaine, I didn't see any reason to mention it. After all, she was Sherry's friend, not mine. And no, I never dated her. In fact, yesterday was the first time I saw her in about ten years."
Elaine was getting on my nerves. I hadn't done anything wrong, yet here I was defending myself. Every time she heard about a woman I dated, she questioned me. I never asked her about any of her old flames. In fact, I didn't want to know about them.
When we got back to the table, she asked Derek to dance. I guess it was her way of getting back at me for something I never did. Derek jumped at the chance. I could see that Sarah wasn't overly happy about it but she let it go.
I didn't like the way Elaine was acting but I didn't want to make a scene at Sherry's wedding. She and Derek must have danced through four songs or more. I talked with Sarah and my parents. They asked Sarah about her wedding.
"Well, not much to tell. We just went to Las Vegas, got married, stayed a few days and came back home. Derek had to work the following day."
"What about Derek's family? Did they attend your wedding?" asked mom.
"No, Derek's an orphan. He said he grew up in one foster home after another. He doesn't have any family that I know of. It really made me feel sorry for him. But now he has a wife and a child on the way. I just wished he didn't have to travel so much."
"How often does he travel?" asked dad.
"He's gone around four days a week. It really gets kind of lonely. At least mom and dad have been there. I'm not sure how it will be after we move."
"Whenever you get lonely, just stop by," I said as I smiled at her. "You'll be right around the corner."
I looked over at dad and wondered if he could see through me. I was hoping I wasn't wearing my feelings on my sleeve. This was a no win situation for me.
After Elaine and I went home, we argued again about me not telling her I knew Sarah. Then she started telling me what a wonderful person Derek was, how he was a good dancer and had such an outgoing personality. She pissed me off when she said she wished that I was more like him.
"Elaine, there's nothing holding you here. You're free to leave and find a guy just like Derek any time you want." I was so pissed that I just got up and went to bed. I was asleep by the time Elaine joined me.
We went through our daily life. I was tired of eating out all the time, and decided that I was going to cook at home more often. Most nights I got home before Elaine and fixed something for dinner. I had cooked for myself ever since I returned home from the service and enjoyed it.
About twice a week Elaine would call, saying she was going out with the girls. I really had to wonder if she was being honest with me. The days that Elaine wasn't going to be there I went out with the guys or to the gym. I hung out at one of the sports bars not far from the condo, having a few beers and watching whatever was on the big screen TV.
One Saturday I told Elaine I was going over to the bar to watch a game. I went home a little earlier than usual. Elaine had a towel wrapped around her when she walked out of the bathroom. She looked surprised that I was home already. She told me that Derek had stopped by to ask if I could get a truck and help move some of Sarah's stuff the next day.
The first thing that crossed my mind was did they do anything? Why the shower in the middle of the day? I didn't care much for Derek and I didn't really trust Elaine. Ignoring Elaine, I called over to Sarah's parent's house. Sarah answered the phone, so I told her I would be over the next morning and help move her things to the condo.
She said she had a lot of clothes, boxes of odds and ends, and her bedroom set. When I asked her what Derek had, she told me he had already taken his personal items to the condo. He didn't have much since he had lived in a small furnished apartment before.
"Jim, we want to take you and Elaine out for dinner as a thank you for helping," Sarah said.
"You don't have to do that," I replied.
"It's the least we can do."
I borrowed a small truck from dad and had my friend Bill help me, as well as Derek. Everything was moved in just a few hours. We put the furniture wherever Sarah wanted it, too. All the boxes were marked which room to put them in. She was a very organized person, kind of like me.
"I'll start sorting and unpacking everything tomorrow. Since Derek will be gone, I'll have the time to do it."
"You can't do any heavy lifting," I said. "If you need something moved and Derek isn't here, just give me a call."
Bill took the truck back to the shop and I went to pick Elaine up to meet Sarah and Derek at the restaurant. Derek told us more about his job and bragged about being one of the top salesmen for the company.
"I'm proud of you Derek, but I do wish you could be home more," said Sarah.
"It's my job and I love it. You knew before we got married that I would be on the road half the time. I'm working to make a home for us. Someday I'll get promoted and will be able to travel less. Right now we need all the money we can get with the baby on the way."
"Derek, money isn't a big problem. My parents offered to help us out if we need it."
"I don't want your parent's money. I can support my own family," Derek said in an angry voice.
"I'm sorry, honey. I didn't mean to make you angry," Sarah replied.
After his small rant, Derek began talking with Elaine. She laughed at most everything he said. I think Sarah felt a bit uneasy but kept her cool.
I began to think about what Bill had said about women. 'If you're willing to share them, then you're not in love with them. It's just the sex holding you together.'
I watched Elaine and Derek talking and flirting with each other. Then I looked over at sweet Sarah smiling at me. I thought to myself that I would swap Elaine for Sarah in a heartbeat. The only problem was I wouldn't want to give Sarah back.
After leaving the restaurant, I told Elaine I was getting sick and tired of her flirting with other men.
"You don't own me! I can act any way I want, with whomever I want. You're getting to be such a bore."
"I know you're cheating on me. There's no use trying to deny it because I have proof."
I didn't have shit, but deep down I felt she had been cheating on me for a while. She just stared at me.
"What? You had me followed? I can't believe you would do such a thing. You really are a bastard. So, what happens now?"
I couldn't believe she didn't even try and deny it.
"I want your ass out. The law says you have to be given thirty days notice even though you never contributed anything but your ass to this relationship. You can sleep in the spare room till you find a place. Maybe you can move in with one of those girlfriends you're always going out with."
"Stupid bastard, you aren't half the lover that my boyfriends are."
There was the truth. She had been with more than one guy since we got together. Then I wondered if Derek was one of them. I couldn't say too much more because I had no idea who any of the men were.
I guess on one side my pride was hurt, but on the other I had known this wouldn't last much longer. The next day at work, I told Sherry. Apparently she had heard about Elaine cheating, and that was one of the reasons she disliked her so much. Sherry hadn't told me because she didn't have any proof.
Over the next week, Elaine was never home when I got there. Some of her things were missing, so I figured she had found another place to stay. I didn't contact her; it was good not to see her. I was putting in longer hours just to stay away.
We shared a condo but that was about it. Whatever she bought and paid for out of her money was always spent on herself. I paid the rent and all the utilities. As far as my finances and credit cards were concerned, she didn't have access to any of it so I wasn't worried about it.
About two weeks passed before I realized some of my things were missing. Kitchen items like the toaster and coffee pot, and linens. By then pretty much all her stuff was out of the apartment. I was pissed because that meant I had to go and replace all those things, and I wasn't the best shopper. That evening I called Elaine.
"I'm going to change the locks. I wanted to break up in a nice way but it didn't happen."
"Moving out is the best thing I ever did. I never should have moved in with you in the first place," she yelled.
I thought about yelling back but knew it would be useless.
"Have a nice life," I said and hung up.
I figured she took every thing she could get in her car. Good thing she didn't own a truck or I'd probably have to buy a whole house full of furniture.
After grabbing a beer, I went outside to sit on the porch. That's when I saw she had taken my porch chair too. So I sat on the step and tried to figure what to do next. When I looked up, I saw Sarah walking up the street. She had the biggest smile on her face when she saw me.
"Hi Jim, long time no see." She became serious for a moment. "I heard about Elaine from Sherry. Sorry things didn't work out for you."
"Elaine took a lot of my things, including the porch chairs. You're welcome to sit if you like. What brings you this way anyway?" I asked as I scooted over.
"The doctor said I needed to exercise more and suggested walking. I have been walking every day but you haven't been home."
"Sarah, is Derek away right now?"
"Yes, as a matter of fact he is. Heck, he's gone all the time. I really hate it but not much I can do about it. Why do you ask?"
"Would I be too forward if I asked you to go shopping with me? Elaine cleaned me out pretty good, so I need to replace several things. I don't even have a coffee pot now."
"I'd be happy to go with you. Would you mind if we went inside so I can get an idea of what you might need. Besides, I need to use your restroom," she said, looking a little embarrassed.
"That makes sense to me. And the restroom is down the hall on the left," I said, opening the door for her.
She walked past me and sort of waddled down the hall. When she came back into the kitchen, I was leaning against the counter.
"We can get some of the things you need right now, and maybe the rest another day," Sarah suggested.
"That sounds good. We'll have to take the pickup since that's all I have."
"All right, let's go," Sarah said, smiling as she went back outside.
I helped her get into the truck, actually pushing on her backside. "Sorry," I said.
She just laughed. "It's okay. I thought it was funny. The extra weight sure changes the way I move. Thanks for helping me."
We had a fun time shopping for essentials like a coffee pot, toaster and a microwave, among other things. I let Sarah choose everything. The checkout people all smiled and asked us when our baby was due.
Sarah told them in about three months. I assumed she didn't want to tell everyone that we weren't married. That would just make people wonder about us. One cashier told us we made a beautiful couple. Sarah smiled and thanked him. Another asked what we were having.
"We're having a daughter and naming her Angel Dawn," said Sarah.
"She let me pick out the name. Well see you again, since we have to start picking out our baby's furniture," I replied, grinning as we left.
Sarah relaxed on the drive back to my condo. I hoped the shopping hadn't worn her out too much.
"Thank you for all the help. This was the first time in my life that I enjoyed shopping."
"I enjoyed it too. Thank you for asking me to go along. By the way, did you mean it when you said you would take me to pick out the baby's furniture? I was planning on going tomorrow and Derek won't be home till Friday."
"You bet I did. I'll call you tomorrow to let you know when we can leave. Maybe we'll catch a bit of dinner while we're out."
"Sounds good," said Sarah as she smiled. "Now it's time for me to waddle on home. See you tomorrow."
The next morning I told Sherry how Elaine took many of my things. Then I mentioned that Sarah had gone shopping with me. I know I was laughing all the time I was talking, telling her how we kidded the cashiers.
"I'm going to help Sarah get baby furniture tonight, and then take her to dinner."
Sherry stared at me and smiled. "You really like Sarah, don't you Jim?"
"Yea, she's sweet and funny and enjoyable to be with. I feel sorry for her too. Derek should be home with his wife."
"Jim, I have something to tell you. Please don't get your shorts in an uproar."
"What the hell do you mean?"
"I never told you while we were growing up that Sarah always said she loved you. I know it was puppy love and all, but I don't think she ever forgot."
"Sherry, she's married and going to have a baby. I don't think she loves me. We're just friends."
"Jim, I love you both. You're my big brother and she's my best friend. I don't want to see either of you get hurt. Please try and understand what I'm saying. She's lonely and I know you care for her. I know you better than any one. I'm just saying..."
"Sis, I understand. I wouldn't do anything to jeopardize her marriage. Maybe I shouldn't be alone with her too often. You have a point there. Why don't you come shopping with us for the baby furniture tonight? I have to go because we need the pickup for the furniture."
"That sounds good. I'll call Sarah and let her know you invited me along. God, why didn't you two meet a year ago?" Sherry asked.
I knew Sherry was right. I had to keep my distance. I guess my feelings for Sarah were beginning to show, and I couldn't let that happen.
The three of us went shopping, then to dinner. I did my best not to be flirtatious. Back at Sarah's condo we took the furniture in. I did most of the lifting and carrying.
"Sherry, I don't know how I could have made it without you two helping. I love you both so much," said Sarah.
What did she mean by love? Some people toss the word around like it means nothing but to others it has true meaning. How I wanted to say, "I love you too Sarah," but knew better.
Every day that I got home early, I would see Sarah walking. We would sit on the porch and talk. Often she shared her hopes and dreams for the baby. She never mentioned Derek much except about him not being able to come home at certain times. Many times I could tell she thought it was a mistake they got married. She could have raised the baby on her own. Now she was alone most of the time anyway.
Sarah admitted that her parents were giving her money to help pay the bills. They had rented the condo for Sarah and Derek. His credit rating wasn't good enough so Sarah's parents cosigned for it. They only put Sarah's name on the lease because they didn't trust Derek all that much. Sarah or her parents bought most all the furnishings. So far she hadn't told Derek because she knew he would get mad at her for accepting money from her parents. Yet he contributed very little to the family's household.
Since I loved to cook, I invited Sarah over for dinner a couple nights a week. I always asked Sherry and her husband too. I was really trying to do the right thing, to be friends with Sarah, even if it hurt me inside. I wanted her to be part of my life though.
One evening I got a call from Sarah.
"I know this sounds silly, but do you think you could come over and change some light bulbs for me? I don't want to get up on a ladder."
"I'll be right over, Sarah."
When I got there, she looked so sad.
"What's was the matter?"
"I'm supposed to be a newlywed, yet Derek doesn't act like he loves me. I'm just this fat red head with the big belly." She started to cry.
"Easy Sarah, that's not true. You'll be having the baby soon, and things will probably change after that. Maybe Derek can find a job here in town."