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"Dude, Mrs. Mitchell is a hottie."
Robin Mitchell froze at the top of the stairs that led down to the basement of her new townhome. Had she heard that right?
"Shh, not so loud, Brandon." That was Paul, the kid who'd lived next door at her old house and had generously offered to help her move. No, not a kid anymore, Robin reminded herself as she thought of his biceps straining his tight graphic tee.
"Anyway," Brandon continued, "you sure she's in her 40s? There's no way. Her legs look too good. I fucking love short shorts like that."
"Yeah, me too," Paul agreed.
Robin glanced down at her outfit. While the brown, pocketed shorts did show off most of her legs and she'd seen the guys looking, she'd never been self-conscious about the choice until now. It was the day of her move. The shorts and her black tank top felt natural. And it wasn't like she was wearing heels.
"Not sure it really matters. She could be nineteen and she'd still be out of our league."
Paul's praise made her light-headed.
"Speak for yourself, Paul, my friend," Brandon boasted.
Robin smiled. It was easy to impress guys like him. When she was younger, she'd had her fair share of Brandons wrapped around her finger. They were fun, but those relationships were as shallow as their personalities. Compliments from guys like Paul were more meaningful. They weren't on a singular mission to get in her pants--and it was always more satisfying when they did.
Robin shook her head and backed off a step. What was she thinking? Satisfying to be with guys like Paul? It wasn't proper.
Downstairs, Brandon went on and Robin couldn't help herself. "Paul, you've been crushing on her forever. She's way up there on a fucking pedestal for you."
That sent a tingle through her body. Paul had a crush on her?
"Come on, man, lay off. It's not like that. And whatever, she's been married for, like, ever.
"And now she's not." Brandon's words had a finality to them that struck at Robin's heart. She wasn't anymore, was she? He'd left her for some tramp, fifteen years younger. Brandon continued, "And Mr. Mitchell is a fucking moron. How can you leave a wife who looks that good? The pussy can't be worth it. No fucking way."
Robin resisted the urge to race down there and hug Brandon. Maybe she'd misjudged the young man.
Paul agreed with his friend. "I don't get it. They always seemed happy. And I always thought how lucky he was. Mrs. Mitchell is so cool."
Robin's body quivered. Brandon's compliments paled next to Paul's. He was always so genuine, and this afternoon was no exception.
"Just look at this entertainment center. Fifty-inch television. Surround sound speakers. A Playstation 3!" Brandon's macho enthusiasm was back. "There's nothing hotter than a chick who likes video games."
The truth was that she'd taken all that stuff because there was no way in hell her ex-husband and that slut were going to enjoy them. She bought it all for him, so she got to walk away with it. Still, it felt good being thought of as the cool chick.
"I like how active she is. She runs every morning in these skin-tight outfits. Best part of my day was seeing her jog away from the house. Even in the middle of winter, she looked good. God, I'm going to miss that."
Paul had been watching her from the window each morning when she took to the streets? The tingling started to gravitate between her thighs.
"Didn't you jerk off to her sunbathing?"
"Oh, God, I shouldn't have told you about that."
Her eyes shot open and she rocked her head forward, her loose golden bangs spilling across her face. Really? she mouthed.
"Paul, I don't blame you. I mean, she must look awesome in a bikini."
"I do?" Robin called as she descended down the stairs. She didn't remember making the decision to interrupt, but the petrified look on their faces was worth it.
Paul and Brandon jumped to their feet, watching in horror as Robin Mitchell's shapely legs appeared at the top of the steps. Long and shimmering, tapering into her brown short-shorts. Brandon licked his lips. Paul felt like he'd been busted for shoplifting Playboys from the bookstore's magazine rack.
They'd been unwinding on the sectional sofa, which was still wrapped in its moving tarp, placed haphazardly amidst the wreckage of Robin's move. It had been a long afternoon of slugging boxes, but they were done.
She masked her nervousness with a coy smile and admired the towering specimens of college-aged men, dressed in cargo shorts and t-shirts. They were both fit, Brandon with his brawny shoulders and Paul with his lean physique. She still had trouble connecting the impressive young man with the beanpole who'd grown up next door, although seeing panic lance through him was helping her remember.
"How long have you been there?" Paul asked.
"Long enough to know that you've had a crush on me." She watched as Paul's face went white, then turned to Brandon. "And you are the first person to call me a 'hottie' in many years."
Brandon recovered before Paul. "I seriously doubt that. You just don't hear it." Their eyes locked. "It's disrespectful."
Robin laughed. "So Paul, you think I look awesome in a bikini?"
What could he do? He wasn't going to lie. "Yeah."
She smiled. Paul liked that.
Brandon broke into their little moment. "So I think we're done moving everything. You know what that means..."
Robin shook her head. "What?"
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a Ziploc bag. "We relax," he said, popping open the bag. He sat back down on the short arm of the sectional sofa and fished out a joint.
"Is that pot?" Robin stared at the hand-rolled cigarette.
Paul's mouth went dry. He would have kicked Brandon if he'd not been so stunned. This wasn't some coed he was offering a smoke. This was the wife-next-door! "Brandon, I don't think this is a good idea..."
Robin hadn't smoked pot since college. She'd gotten the wild times out of her system back then. Or so she'd thought. For whatever reason, Brandon's offer was tempting. Paul's concern only made her feel more reckless. "I could use some relaxing."
Brandon grinned, flashing a chill-out smile at Paul before pulling out his lighter and firing up the spliff. "Do you smoke often, Mrs. Mitchell?" he asked, his voice tight as he held the smoke in his lungs.
"God, no. What would my kids say?" Robin took a seat on the oversized sofa, taking the joint between her pinched fingers. Leaning back, she sucked smoke in, her eyes squinting shut. Her cool demeanor broke in a fit of coughs.
"I think your kids would say you're pretty cool," Brandon replied, smoke curling around his face.
Paul lowered himself next to Robin, staring at her as she hacked away, joint in her hand. He didn't need to smoke to feel encapsulated in a surreal buzz. He studied the woman next to him, wondering if this was really happening. He watched her long ponytail swish and bounce, arching down her back like the neck of a golden swan. She had a long neck of her own, lean and graceful. Kissable.
"Your turn?" she asked, breaking the spell. She held out the smoking bud, but all he could focus on at first was how lean her arm was. He took it from her, his mind still in disbelief.
Robin was having a similar mental freak out, particularly as she watched Paul smoke the joint with practiced ease. The neighbor's kid wasn't so innocent. She met his eyes. Not a kid, either, she reminded herself. The pot loosened her tongue. "I can't believe I'm getting high in the basement with guys half my age."
Brandon started laughing. Then everyone started laughing. That felt good. There hadn't been much of that since her husband left.
"You're not going to tell my mom, are you?" Paul was cracking up before he could finish the question.
Thinking about Paul's parents and some of the fun they'd had when the kids were younger, Robin decided to drop a bomb. "Your mom would probably ask you to share."
It took a moment for that to sink in. Then he blundered out a, "Wait, what?"
Brandon barked out a laugh. "Dude, I knew your parents were cool like that."
Paul barely heard his friend's yammering. His attention was locked on Robin, who looked so pretty smiling like that. "My parents smoke?"
Robin shrugged. "They used to. Not sure about now."
"Did you and your ... did you ever do it with them?"
"Nah. Brian was too straight for that--or so I thought, anyway." Her ex's name tasted bitter in her mouth. "I used to smell it in the backyard though. When you were little. Heard them laughing." She shook her head. She lifted the last of the joint to her lips, inhaled and released. "I used to envy how much fun they had together. I used to think, 'Those two know love.' At the time, I told myself Brian and I just expressed it differently. Now, I'm not sure."
She watched as the bud died in her fingers. Paul didn't like how sad she looked. "He is a complete ass," he said. On a whim, he shifted over to her and started rubbing her shoulders.
"Fucking moron," Brandon added.
"Totally," Paul agreed.
.... There is more of this story ...