Getting By
Chapter 1

Copyright© 2013 by SW MO Hermit

Jerrod was and is an enigma. He was a gifted metalworker, a talented cabinet maker and finish carpenter. Additionally he had gone to college and become a brilliant engineer. His future could have been one of moneyed leisure had he applied himself. Instead now he lived almost in poverty. While in high school and just after he had taken almost every welding course he could find and had become certified to weld everything from basic steel to aluminum to stainless steel. He worked part time for many fabrication plants to make money to pay his college tuition. During the summer and many school holidays he also helped his father in his wood working shop. Jerrod took a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Missouri. Jerrod worked in the mechanical engineering field for three years after obtaining his degree. Shortly after the end of his third year in his engineering job his life changed dramatically and according to his mother for the worst. This is his story. You decide if his life is a good one. You decide if he is just getting by.

Jerrod walked into his luxury condo late on the evening his life changed. His mood was one many people would describe as almost violently angry. He had been having trouble with his supervisor for almost a year. At one time he and his supervisor had been tight. Patricia was a beautiful woman and she knew it. She and Jerrod had started at the firm three weeks apart. For the first year their cubicles had been next to each other separated only by a narrow aisle. He remembered how they had felt about each other first when they were just coworkers then later when they became lovers.

When one or the other of them had a question they would talk back and forth, helping each other with a job. Several times they were assigned the same project. They worked well together but Jerrod did most of the actual work. He had that something extra, that spark that made the projects easy to him. Patricia was marginally competent at best but he loved her and wanted her to succeed. Looking back and being honest with himself Jerrod admitted she had not worked very hard at her job. She had what Jerrod called Beautiful Woman Syndrome. Patricia flirted and teased to get her work done. She enticed others to do things for her just to get her approval and thanks, just to get a smile or touch from her. Jerrod had fallen for her antics just as did almost every other man she ran across.

Patricia was a flirt. When she and Jerrod interacted she did as many beautiful women will. She smiled, touched him gently, "accidently" rubber her breasts on him. In short, she teased. Jerrod had seen her do this with many of the males at the office and it bothered him at first. After they became a couple he had complained about it and Patricia did tone it down somewhat but flirting was in her system. She was as unable to stop flirting entirely as the Mississippi river was unable to run north.

Like many office romances their relationship began with work related conversation in their cubicles. Shortly after they became friendly they began taking business lunches with each other at first to discuss a project, then later because it was a habit they enjoyed. Rapidly they moved to an occasional trip to the local bar after work.

After almost five months Jerrod took the next step and asked Patricia for a date. She happily accepted. Within three months of the first official date they were a couple, exclusive. Jerrod began helping her more and more on her assigned projects. Many times he worked late into the night off the clock designing some of her assigned work. Of course Patricia was properly appreciative in the bedroom. Jerrod was in love.

Almost five months after Jerrod and Patricia became exclusive Patricia turned in a particularly difficult project not only well in advance of the due date but with two really innovative design features. Her Manager was very pleased and wrote a glowing commendation for her. He also authorized a $1500 cash bonus. Jerrod was slightly upset at this for three reasons. One, he had been the one who did most of the work on the project, off the clock as usual. Secondly the two innovative design features were his alone and Patricia had promised to so state when the project was turned in but she failed to do so. The third reason Jerrod was upset was perhaps the most hurtful one. After the project had been turned in Patricia began to spend more and more time with their Manager. She even began taking lunches with him and turning down Jerrod. She went to bars after work with the Manager too. If Jerrod went with them he was made to feel like an outsider. Patricia began to have excuses not to go out on dates with Jerrod. Sometimes when he went to her apartment she would be unexplainably absent or he would think he heard noise inside but she would not answer the door.

Then came the day their Supervisor retired. There were only three people under consideration for the position—Jerrod, Patricia and one outside applicant. For three weeks all three were put through the mill. They were given numerous interviews and even a couple of tests to determine the best person for the job. On the tests Jerrod came out at the top of the queue.

Finally the announcement came down from on high. To Jerrod's surprise Patricia was promoted and became the Supervisor for the design section they worked in. Within a week Patricia completely stopped going out to lunch or after work with Jerrod. When he asked her what time he should pick her up for their regular date she informed him she couldn't date him any longer. She told him it wouldn't be right for her to date a subordinate. Over the next several months there were three occasions when Patricia took credit for design work Jerrod had done. Their immediate supervising Manager had not supported Jerrod the two times he had complained to him. Recently his Manager also began to antagonize him even more. Jerrod had seen Patricia and their married male manager out on the town several times late at night. He saw them dance together, sit closely and walk with their arms around each other. Jerrod finally admitted to himself they were together for reasons other than business.

It was only about two months after Patricia dumped Jerrod when he met his next and current girlfriend Winona. He and his friends from work had been out bar hopping on a Friday night. They were in a bar way upscale from their usual haunts when he literally bumped into Winona. Jerrod was as handsome as Winona was beautiful. To top it off he had been in a business meeting all day and was dressed in his best suit. At first when they collided she had glared at him with anger. She made disparaging comments about clumsy assholes not watching where they were going. Jerrod's immediate reaction to that comment was a surge of anger. Neither of them had been watching where they had been going. He had seen her walking across the floor with her head turned toward one of her friends talking and waving her hands at the same time. Jerrod had been on the way to the rest room when someone he knew had called to him. He turned rapidly to see who it was and his course veered into Winona's where they collided. To Jerrod's immense relief his heartfelt apology and the purchase of a drink to replace the one he had caused her to spill morphed into them spending the rest of the evening together. They exchanged phone numbers before they went to their respective homes.

The next Monday Jerrod called Winona and talked her into a date. The first date led to another, then another. Jerrod was so smitten he took her to the expensive and upscale places that she normally frequented rather than the ones he preferred. As it turned out this gave her a false impression of who Jerrod really was. Based on this false impression they quickly became exclusive.

Winona began spending more and more nights at Jerrod's home. Almost all her belongings quickly followed her there. She still maintained an apartment for proprieties sake she said but for all intents and purposes they were living together. Winona only spent a couple of nights a week at her apartment without Jerrod. For some reason he never noticed those nights always included a Friday. After all, many Fridays Winona and her high society girlfriends spent the evening at the country club or some social function or another. Jerrod hated those types of functions so was always willing to miss out on them and let her attend with her parents or friends while he stayed home alone.

Jerrod had received a token promotion shortly after Patricia was made Supervisor. He was made Lead Man for one of the two groups in his section. He was in charge of designing equipment and laying it out for one of the largest manufacturers in St. Louis. He had come up with a really innovative idea and incorporated it into his plans. When the customer accepted the plans and complimented his company on the work Patricia and their Manager had not given him the credit. They had, instead, once again stolen the idea as their own. Upper management had been told that the Manager came up with the idea and Patricia had drawn the tentative plans out for Jerrod to complete.

That afternoon Jerrod had discovered his employer had been paid a bonus for completing the last project early. They had received a bonus because of the changes Jerrod had drawn into the plans also. Upper management decided the bonus for the innovative changes should be shared by those responsible for generating it. Patricia and the Manager were to split the bonus instead of give it or a portion of it to him. When Jerrod had confronted the two they had told him upper management had decided they were the proper persons to receive the bonus because they had been instrumental in the design and getting the customer to accept the changes.

Jerrod's meeting with the two thieves had been in the building parking lot. After a short discussion Patricia had gotten a disgusted look on her face and said, "Look Jerrod we know you drew the majority of the plans but it was OUR idea you used. Now just let it drop. We wouldn't want anything adverse to come of this would we?" After she had glared at Jerrod for a moment she and the Manager had just walked away got into their cars and left. Jerrod had almost stormed back into the building to confront his Manager's boss right then but thought better of it. He decided to wait until the next day when he was calmer, more in control before he complained to someone higher in the company. Besides, he had a date with Winona that evening and he couldn't afford to be late for it. She had turned into a stone cold bitch lately and he was trying to placate her and go to more of her functions with her.

Shortly after he walked into his home Jerrod had another hit to his happiness and well being. He was trying to relax and unwind from his day with a triple shot of his favorite single malt—The Glenlivet—when his cell phone rang. He would have ignored it except it was his mother's ringtone. His parent's rarely phoned him although his mother called more than his father. She tried to keep in touch and usually gave him a hard time if he didn't answer the phone when she called. His parents were of the older generation and to them phones were not the social tool many younger people thought them to be. If his parents used the phone it was because it was extremely important more often than not.

"Hello Mom," Jerrod answered. "How are you this evening?"

Jerrod heard his mother sniffling. Her voice broke up and she squeaked out his name. "Jerrod, your Father is dead. He was working on some machinery for one of the local farmer's this afternoon and there was an explosion. He was hit with a piece of metal..." Kelly, his mother, broke down crying once more.

"Are you doing ok Mom," Jerrod asked. "Never mind, of course you aren't. I'll be there as soon as I can." Jerrod rose from his slouch on the couch and rushed to his bedroom. He packed as he and his mother continued to talk. By the time he was packed and walking out the door he had calmed her down enough to hang up. Jerrod rushed out of his building and got into his "Cowboy Cadillac", a nearly new F250 SuperCrew 4X4. He was almost forty miles west of St. Louis roaring down I 44 enjoying the chuckle of his Powerstroke Diesel when his phone rang once more. This ring tone was one more he couldn't safely ignore. It was his girlfriend Winona.

When he heard the phone Jerrod grimaced in disgust. Crap. He had forgotten he had promised to take Winona out after he received his mother's phone call. He had promised to take her to some damn society banquet and dance at her parent's country club this evening. She had been looking forward to the soirée and had talked about nothing else for weeks. It was almost 15 minutes past the time he was supposed to be at her apartment and he knew she would be very angry. They had been arguing lately about his 'attitude' toward her and what was important in their lives. He knew even considering the circumstances that he was probably in for it now. His mind quickly flitted over their last argument three weeks ago.

He felt his anger surge when he remembered the argument. Their relationship was still strained because of it and now he was going to miss her big banquet. Jerrod was honest enough to admit their last argument was probably more his fault than hers but he had been fed up. Winona was high maintenance, no question about that. When she was happy she was pure pleasure to be with. She was beautiful, sexy, and cuddly beyond compare. When she was in a good mood and they made love she would almost purr like a kitten while he was stroking her. Unfortunately when they were in bed it was all about her. She resented the fact he expected some satisfaction also. Winona thought he was there to pleasure her and if he had some fun too it was ok. Like most women, Winona loved to have her pussy eaten. Like many women she hated to suck dick. In fact, she absolutely refused to suck dick. Truthfully getting his cock sucked wasn't really high on Jerrod's list of pleasant sexual acts but he did enjoy it from time to time as part of the foreplay.

One evening when Jerrod came home upset with Patricia and his treatment at work he wasn't as willing to please Winona as he normally was. He wasn't as pliable as she demanded he be and didn't cater to her needs willingly enough. He wanted, no he needed to be loved that night and Winona was the same old Winona. She wanted him to please her. Winona once again refused to suck him and to engage in foreplay that was pleasurable to him. This upset Jerrod enough he stopped eating Winona out. No matter how hard she pushed his head toward her crotch Jerrod resisted. He didn't take her at first gentle hints to resume his feast. Her requests became more and more heated. Finally she had not asked him to eat her; she had ORDERED him to eat her. When he refused she told him if he didn't lick her pussy there would be no pussy for him. Jerrod said, "No problem Honey. I'll eat your little pussy as soon as you finish blowing me."

"NO! You KNOW I don't do blow jobs. How can you even ask me to do something as disgusting and demeaning as sucking your penis? That's too gross. I don't want that thing near my face and you know it. I hate sucking on a man. Now get down there and eat me Honey. I know you like it and I need it desperately. I need it soooo bad tonight."

About a week before that night Jerrod had an insight about Winona. He began thinking much of their relationship was about power for her. Everything revolved around her. If he bowed and scraped for her she rewarded him with sex. The more he did for her, the more money he spent on her the more sex she gave him. He was allowed sex but only the sex that pleased Winona. It was obvious his pleasure was NOT her priority. That night Jerrod had been angry enough he found enough backbone to refuse her demands for cunnilingus. He played with Winona's pussy. He kissed her and nibbled on her nipples. When he got her wet enough he started to move over her and screw her. She looked up at him and pushed him away. "Not until you lick it," she said.

Jerrod looked down at her and said, "Not gonna happen sweet pea. Not until you return the favor."

Winona pushed him away and rose from the bed. She dressed and stomped out of the bedroom. She was cursing and complaining constantly from the time he again refused to eat her until she was out of his hearing. The last thing Jerrod heard was his front door slamming behind his girlfriend. He did not see her for three days after that argument.

By the time he finished reminiscing his phone stopped ringing. He thought about calling her back but the idea became moot. His phone rang again a few seconds later. With a sigh and a slight amount of fear Jerrod hit the control on the steering wheel and answered his phone. "Hello Honey."

Before he could say more Winona snarled, "Where the hell are you Jerrod? You're late. We should have left here almost 15 minutes ago. You know it takes almost 30 minutes to get to the club. We're missing supper. Can't you even get something this simple right?"

"Look, I'm sorry Honey. I just forgot to call you about"

Winona broke in on his sentence and screamed, "YOU FORGOT? Damn you Jerrod how could you? I suppose you're out swilling booze with those drunkard friends again aren't you?"

"NO! Look Winona I am sorry. I had just barely got home from work this evening when my mother called. She was a wreck and I just forgot to call you. My Father got killed today and I am on my way home to take care of Mom. I won't be back in town until after his services. Should I come back for you or do you want to drive down alone for them?"

"What? Jerrod you knew we had this planned for weeks. There's nothing you can do at home tonight. You could have honored your obligation to me and gone home tomorrow. Can you get back in time to take me to the dance at least? I have to put in an appearance. What will everyone think if I don't even show?"

"Dammit Winona you know I can't drop everything and take you to a damn dance. I have to get home to my family. My father DIED for Christ's Sake! Look, if you're too BUSY to come down for the funeral I'll see you when I bet back ok? I'll call you in a day or two and let you know when the services are in case you can tear yourself away and make it."

"Don't bother asshole. I can't keep putting my life on hold just to satisfy you. I'll just go out to the club myself. You know, I've almost had it with you and your thoughtlessness. I think we need to give our relationship some serious thought. You're never there for me. It's always what you want that's important to you. You work when we have obligations we need to honor. Now you shirk your responsibility to me and renege on a promise you made me weeks ago to run home because your MOTHER wants you to. Every time something comes up that is IMPORTANT to you I have to take a back seat. I'm sick of it. Mother was right. I really don't think you're right for me. I deserve a lot more than you've been giving me lately."

Winona hung up. Jerrod felt his stomach roiling as he first listened to then digested Winona's diatribe. He shook his head at her insensitivity. He grinned a little when he remembered what his father had said the one time his parent's had met Winona. "She's a little flighty and high maintenance aint she boy? Are ya sure ya wanta be runnin' 'round with someone like her? If she's what you want fine and good but you need a woman with substance like your momma. You need someone who will have your back all the time and who will always be there for you son. I just don't think that one is it. From what I've seen this week it's always going to be all about her; her wants, her needs, her plans and friends. A man can't live his life like that boy. When ya get married her friends and wants and needs should become yours as yours should become hers. I don't see that happening with her son. You don't strike me as one of the country club crowd son and she is all about the country club and social scene."

Jerrod had been thinking about his father's observations on Winona for several weeks now. This was the straw that broke that camel's back probably. Oh, well. He needed to take time to focus on family and getting through the next few days right now. He could think about his relationship with Winona after the services.

Thirty minutes after she hung up on Jerrod Winona stomped into the dining room at the country club. Of course that made her angrier. She knew she hadn't made the entrance she wanted—the regal entrance that let most of the people there know she was above them. She was so angry she was just totally unable to affect the attitude and composure she normally exhibited making an entrance. Instead she 'stomped' and knew she was doing it. Finally she found the table her parents were at, the table she and Jerrod were supposed to share with them and sat at her place. She looked down at the now cold meal and glared. Her mother looked up at her with worry on her face and said, "I'm sorry about the cold food Honey. I was so sure you would be on time I told the waiter to leave it for you when he served us. Where's Jerrod dear? Why were you kids so late?"

"Jerrod's not coming mother. He would rather go home to see his mother than be here with me."

"OH, you poor dear. What excuse did he use this time?"

Winona explained about Jerrod's father's death. Peter, her father looked shocked when she launched into a long complaint about Jerrod's insensitivity to her and her needs. He said, "Now Honey calm down. He couldn't help this and you know it. His father died for God's sake. Why are you here? Why aren't you going home with him Winona?"

Winona looked at her father in shock. She took a deep breath and said, "Yes he could help this Daddy. There's nothing he can do at home tonight. Hell he won't even get there until almost midnight. He could have brought me here to the dance tonight like he promised and then gone home tomorrow. We had this planned for weeks and you know it. As for being there with him for one he didn't even call me to tell me he was going home instead of coming here with me like he was supposed to do. When I called him to find out where he was he said he had been so worried about his mother he had even forgotten our date tonight. Besides, going to that hick town he calls home is absolutely the last thing I have any intention of doing. I wouldn't have gone even if he had remembered to call me and ask."

Her father stared at Winona in shock. He wondered how his sweet loving daughter had managed to grow up into such an uncaring selfish bitch. He began to tell her she was overacting when his wife placed her hand on Winona's forearm and said, "We understand Honey. I've always thought he was a thoughtless man. There was no reason for him to not bring you out here tonight. Now, let's call the waiter and see if they can get you a warm plate. The night's still young. Maybe one of your old friends will be here and you can at least enjoy part of the evening."

Peter sat the rest of the evening and pondered about his family. He had a few too many drinks as he watched first his daughter then later his wife dance with all the shallow womanizers and posers that frequented these galas. In his opinion Winona was allowing way too much familiarity from one of the young men she danced with. He would have been slightly upset had he seen Jerrod doing some of the things to Winona that he saw other men do that evening and he had been expecting Jerrod to be his son in law.

As the evening progressed Peter became even more upset at his wife's attitude. After her second or third dance Peter had once more tried to reason with Winona about her attitude toward what Jerrod had done this night. All he had done was make her angrier. His attempts to make Winona understand Jerrod's actions had angered his wife. They sat and watched Winona dance twice more. She was laughing and flirting as if she had no troubles in the world. Men were almost fighting for a chance to get her out on the dance floor. Peter was glaring at his only daughter when Cynthia leaned across the table and hissed at him, "Are you just going to sit there all night drinking or are we going to dance Peter?"

Peter looked at the anger in Cynthia's eyes and pressed his lips together. He was beginning to see where Winona had gotten her attitude from. He couldn't believe he hadn't noticed this in his wife before. When they had married they had been from working class families. He had gone to college then graduate school and worked his way up in the banking industry. Now that he thought about it Cynthia had always demanded more social mixing than he wanted or than was required by his position in the bank. He routinely acquiesced to her demands to attend banquets and social events in order to keep harmony in the household. He now realized at some time Cynthia had forgotten her roots and it saddened him. Worse to him was what she had turned their daughter into—a selfish self centered little society bitch.

Peter grimaced more than smiled and held his hand out to his wife. She primly took it and allowed him to lead her to the dance floor. Cynthia smiled and nodded to a few people as they walked past them on the way to the dance floor. Cynthia was stiff, still angry through the first dance. Midway through the second one she began to relax. Peter saw her staring across his shoulder and turned to see what she was staring at. Winona was plastered against one of her old boyfriends, her head on his chest while one of his hands rubbed the cheek of her ass and the other was resting on the outside of her breast.

Peter muttered, "That girl."

"What?" Cynthia saw where he was looking and smiled up at Peter then continued, "Oh, yes." She giggled and continued, "It didn't take her long to find someone more suited did it? I'm glad. He's so much better for her than Jerrod was."

"Cynthia how can you say that? Jerrod treated Winona like royalty and if I remember correctly that young man treated her like crap. Jerrod is an Engineer for Christ's sake and that boy barely made it through college. He only has a BS in General Studies. How much more useless a degree can you get? You need to talk some sense into that girl if it isn't too late already. If you don't I will."

"You'll do no such thing Peter. I know what's best for Winona and it sure isn't Mr. High and Mighty Jerrod. He's always running off for one reason or another and leaving Winona hanging. Tonight is just another instance of his high handed attitude. I'm going to do everything I can to see she keeps her backbone this time. That young man comes from a good family, a moneyed family and Jerrod's father is a damn carpenter for God's sake! Winona can do much better than a blue collar worker's son even if he is an engineer."

"Bullshit. Have you forgotten what OUR parents did for a living? Like I said, if you don't talk to her I will. I've had it with that girl."

Cynthia pulled away from Peter and said, "You'll do no such thing Peter. If you so much as say one more word in support of Jerrod you will be very sorry. And no, I haven't forgotten what our parents had to do to survive. We're above that now though and I won't see Winona lower herself to those levels if I can help it." She glared at Peter then stomped off toward the restrooms leaving him standing on the dance floor. After she had gone down the hallway out of sight Peter walked angrily back to his chair. He had finished two more drinks before Cynthia came back into sight. She looked around the room until she saw Winona and smiled. Winona was sitting at a table with her old boyfriend. Cynthia walked over to her daughter. She took a seat at the table with them and talked a few minutes. Cynthia gave Winona a gentle kiss on the cheek, stood and started toward the table she and Peter were using. Partway across the floor she was stopped by one of the other members and whisked onto the dance floor. For the next 30 minutes Cynthia danced with first one man and then another never returning to her husband's table. Peter continued to drink and glare at his wife and daughter.

Finally Cynthia returned to their table. She scowled at Peter and said, "You're drunk! Honestly, I don't know why I married you sometimes. How could you? You embarrass your daughter taking sides against her in favor of Jerrod and then you embarrass me by getting drunk here in public."

Peter looked up at Cynthia through bleary eyes. "Well Fuck You. You're just like her aren't you? Or should I say she's just like you? I can't believe I've been married to you almost 25 years and I'm just now realizing how heartless and self centered you are. Cynthia you've turned into a snob! I liked you much better when you were just plain Cindy!"

Peter stood and swayed back and forth. He looked at Cynthia and said, "I'm going home. If you're going with me come on." Cynthia stood and watched him stagger across the floor. She was shocked. She wondered what in the world had happened this evening. Jerrod wasn't even in the room and he had caused trouble. She really hated that man. Now he had even caused problems between her and Peter. It would take her weeks to get him back under her thumb again if she wasn't careful.

Cynthia scurried off after Peter seething inside. She caught up with him at the Valet Parking area. When he saw her approaching the Valet heaved a sigh of relief. He had decided Peter was too drunk to drive and was going to refuse to let him have his keys. He smiled at Cynthia and handed the car keys to her. "Looks like you had better drive Ma'am. Here are your keys."

Cynthia stomped toward the driver's door as the attendant helped Peter into the passenger seat. After the doors were closed she hissed, "You've done it again. How could you embarrass me in front of the help? This has been an evening from hell."

The day of his Father's service Jerrod got a text message from Winona. "Mother and I have taken all my belongings from your condo. Key is on the table. It's over. I can't put up with your uncaring attitude and insensitivity any longer."

He was sitting in his favorite chair at his parent's home when he read the message. There were still family and friends around visiting after the services. His mother saw him staring at his phone and walked up to him. "It's ok Honey. Call her. I'm sure she didn't mean to upset you the other night."

Jerrod looked up at Kelly and wordlessly handed her the phone. His mother gasped and dropped the phone. She wrapped her arms around Jerrod and hugged him to her breasts. "Oh, I'm so sorry Honey. This is awful."

Jerrod hugged his mother back and said, "No problem Mom. I'm not really surprised. I thought I would probably have to break up with her when I got home. This just saves me the trouble. We'd been having trouble for several weeks. Like Dad said when he met her she's really high maintenance and self centered. The only things in the world that are important to her are things she wants. No one else is important to her at all. I'm not sure she even believes most other humans are real people. I just can't socialize and party like she wants and heaven knows I don't have the social standing she thinks she deserves. It's probably for the best but it's just another kick in the ass in a hell of a week."

Over the next week Jerrod helped his mother begin the process of closing out his father's business. On Friday he wandered through his father's shop and sat in one of the chairs in the corner of the building his father used for a lounge. He had called it his man cave. His father used to rest in that corner while he took a break from his work. If his friends or a customer came in he sat there to visit unless he needed to do computer or paperwork then he used the office. During winter the old living room chairs surrounded a wood stove. In the summer they were turned and people sat looking out the sliding doors into the back yard of Jerrod's old home. Of course the woodshop was farther back in a different room for cleanliness. There was even a separate room for finishing the woodwork.

Jerrod looked around the business with nostalgia. He had learned a lot here helping his father. He had many happy times here. His father was primarily a cabinet maker and his cabinet shop was filled with the latest equipment. At one time he had employed 20 people in the cabinet shop. As he aged he cut back and went into semi retirement, working only enough to supplement his income.

His father had started out working as a welder. He had occasionally done some welding for his friends and neighbors up until his death. He only did welding and metal work for a friend when they had an emergency but that is what had killed him. Jerrod had learned both trades from his father and at one time thought that he wanted to operate the cabinet shop or work as a self employed welder and machinist. His love of machines had turned him away from those first loves though.

Jerrod decided to finish his father's last project in the cabinet shop before he returned to work. He called his boss to make arrangements for a few more days off. The asshole said, "No. You've already been down there longer than we can afford. Five days is more than we can really afford to spare you right now. We need you back here bright and early tomorrow morning. I have had to schedule mandatory Saturday overtime tomorrow to do the work you have missed. I expect several hours of overtime from you until you've caught up again."

"Look, I have to stay a while longer. If I don't finish this job my mother will have to hire it done and may have to pay several hundred dollars in late penalties. I think I can finish it in a week or ten days."

"Tomorrow Jerrod," Patricia said then hung up the phone without saying more. Jerrod stood staring at his cell. His anger was boiling once more. He looked around and threw the phone on the desk in the small office. Jerrod booted up his notebook computer and opened MS Word. He spent the next hour writing and fine tuning a scathing resignation letter. After he was happy with the letter he connected to the business Wireless Router and went online. He prepared a transmittal message and attached the letter to it as a file. The letter went to the president of the company, the personnel office, and Patricia, his Manager. In the letter he not only resigned but he explained why he had done so. Jerrod named names. He named times and submitted documentation showing how many times his ideas had been stolen by his ex girlfriend Patricia, now his Manager.

Jerrod had sent the e-mail at 1830. He did not expect any action on it at least until the next morning. At 1840 his cell phone rang. It was the President of the company. After the pleasantries were out of the way they discussed the resignation and the information Jerrod had sent about his two bosses. "Jerrod I'll look into your complaints and see what I can do. I really don't want to lose your talent. Are you sure there's no way I can talk you into staying?"

"No Sir. I'm sorry but this was the last straw. I'm not the only one they treat like this. A lot of your mid managers treat employees like those two do. I was probably going to resign before long anyway but after the way I was treated when I tried to get a little more time off to help my mother there is no way I can keep working there. I'm sorry. I'll be in to complete the paperwork in a couple of weeks at the latest. I think I may stay here and help Mom for a while before I find other work in the industry."

Jerrod's mother was upset when she found out he had resigned because of her. "Well Mom it's too late to change now but it was coming anyway. I'll get you caught up and then I'll find something else."

Instead of finishing the cabinets first Jerrod decided to return to St. Louis and finish his resignation paperwork. The evening after he finished his termination paperwork he was once again collapsed in his favorite chair having a drink. He looked around the room at the mess Winona had left. He became angry once more. "Fuck it," he snarled.

Jerrod went down to the business office of the Condo association. Misty, the office girl looked up and smiled. She said, "Good afternoon Jerrod. What can I do for you today?"

"I want to sell out Misty. I'm moving back home to help Mom. Dad died a couple weeks ago and I'm fed up with the city so I'm moving back home. I want to sell the condo. Do you have an agency you recommend?"

"Oh, I'm so sorry Jerrod. We'll sure miss you." She rummaged in her desk drawer then smiled. She pulled a folder out and took some papers from it. She handed them to Jerrod. "Here is some paperwork on three agencies that work with us. Any of them is fine or you can find one on your own."

"Which one would you recommend?"

Misty looked up at Jerrod and said, "Oh, I'm not allowed to recommend anyone. I'm sorry." She reached out and took the papers back from Jerrod. She shuffled them around then smiled and handed them back to him. A different one was on top of the stack now. "I'm sure you can find your top pick if you're careful." She winked then leaned back in her chair.

Jerrod smiled and said, "Thank you Misty. I appreciate it. And I'll miss you too. You've always been very nice to work with."

Misty sighed and watched as Jerrod strode briskly from her office. She thought 'damn why do all the good ones always move on?'

A few weeks later Jerrod finished cleaning his spray gun and replaced it in its proper spot. He stood back and looked at his latest creation with pride. Finally he walked up to the dolly the new book cases were on and carefully pushed them into his special drying room. After that was completed Jerrod walked tiredly out of the wood shop and toward his mother's home. It had been almost four months now since his father had passed away. Jerrod was settled into his new life very well. He still missed his engineering job occasionally but he did not miss the deadlines or obnoxious people he worked for at all. His mother had turned the business completely over to him. He still lived with her but was thinking about finding a place of his own.

Jerrod carefully locked the door to his shop and walked toward the house. There were more lights on than usual. When he got in the kitchen he heard a large number of female voices laughing and talking loudly in the den. Crap, he thought. He had forgotten his mother was having some of her bereavement support group over this evening for a meeting. There were a couple of new widows in the area that had been convinced to attend and the group was gathered around. Jerrod didn't have anything against the group. In fact, he rather thought it was a good idea. He was just upset he had forgotten. He had been looking forward to relaxing with some good booze and kicking back tonight. This was just another reason he wanted his own place. He wasn't too pleased to have to walk through the den to get to the bathroom he used. He was filthy with wood dust and smelled like the varnish he had been spraying. Even though he worked with his hands now he still had the office worker's dread of being seen in public as dirty as he was this evening.

The noise level dropped drastically when Jerrod walked into sight. His mother looked up and smiled when she saw him. "Girls," she said. "This is my son Jerrod. When his father died he quit his job in St. Louis and moved back home to take over the business. He has been almost as much help to me as you all have."

Kelly made Jerrod come fully into the room and introduced all the women to him. He remembered a couple of them from seeing them around before or seeing them in town. As quickly as he could he escaped and took his shower. A few minutes later he was sitting in his room drinking his Glenlivet when his mother came looking for him. She insisted he come back to the den for snacks since he hadn't eaten yet.

Jerrod spent over an hour with the ladies visiting and to his surprise laughing occasionally at their stories. He also felt some angst when one or the other of them would spend some time talking about their departed loved ones and how the loss affected them. Not all the women were widows. Most were but some of them had lost either a child or another loved one and felt the need of the support group. One woman, in particular, seemed especially vulnerable to him. She was pale, mousy looking and seemed on her last legs physically and mentally.

After he had spent a little time with the women Jerrod finally managed to get away pleading exhaustion. He went to his room and tried to sleep. Finally at nearly eleven p.m. the noise either died down or he became so exhausted he drifted off to sleep in spite of it.

The next morning he and his mother were drinking coffee on the patio when he asked about Gail, the young woman who had caught his eye. "Son Gail is a really sad case there. That poor woman lost her little four year old girl and both her parents the same day in an accident. She had been working part time at McDonalds and living with her parents. She had left a pretty good job in town to move home and help care for her father. He was in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's and had become too much for her mother alone. They own their own home; or rather she does now on the south edge of town. Her parents had been trying to live on their social security and I'm afraid they let the house become really run down. Thankfully they had some life insurance and Gail got it but she still doesn't have a very good job. We've all been trying to help her but she refuses cash and a lot of our other donations. We're at our wits end.

A few mornings later Jerrod was in the local café for coffee and to catch up on his friends and neighbors. He was no different than many other people who lived in small town America. Jerrod frequented the local café many mornings for coffee with neighbors and a dose of gossip. He asked several of the men what they knew about Gail and where she lived. All knew of her but none knew anything very specific. She apparently kept to herself even before her family died. They did know an ambulance chaser had talked her into filing a lawsuit over the accident. Public opinion differed on the merits of the case however. Many thought she might win some settlement even if it was just to make the lawsuit go away. The accident had been caused by some of the local high school students driving recklessly after school ended. They had roared out of the parking lot as Gail's mother was approaching the driveway. The kids pulled out in front of her and she reflexively turned the wheel away from them as she slammed on the brakes. Gail's parents had been in a small subcompact car. Gail's mother lost control of the car and it went into a ditch then rolled and slammed into a tree. All three occupants died at the scene.

After coffee Jerrod drove past the old house Gail lived in. His mother was right. It was in terrible shape. There were a couple of broken windows with plywood nailed over the pane that was missing. The yard was tall and unkempt. Some shingles were missing also. Jerrod felt upset that someone was living like that. Oh, he knew intellectually that some people lived in worse but for some reason this case bothered him. He decided to see if he could help a little.

Jerrod remembered some old windows and other lumber stored in the back of the shop. He also thought there was some shingles there too. He turned his truck toward home and the shop to see what he could find that might help Gail. He loaded the shingles and returned to her house with his tools. No one was home when he arrived so he just decided to replace the missing shingles. The color didn't match but what he had was better than no shingle at all. The roof really needed to be replaced completely but his fix would take care of the worst of the problem for a year or two he hoped.

Jerrod was completing his work at dusk when Gail came driving up in her old beater mustang. It sounded like it was on its last legs and looked even worse. He did not see any body panel that did not have a dent in it. The way the Mustang sounded he was surprised it would even drive down the road. "Jerrod," she said. "What are you doing on my roof?"

"Well Gail I heard you were having some problem with your house. I had some old shingles and other material stored in the shop and I thought I could help you out a little."

"Did I give you permission to do anything with my house? NO! I don't think so. Why do you think you have the right to just begin messing with my house?"

"Look, I'm sorry if I upset you. I knocked on the door and you were gone. All I did was replace a few shingles. You need some help and I can provide it. Would you please get off your high horse and just let me help a little? I can also repair or replace some of the windows and maybe do some other repairs if you would let me. Look, this stuff was just lying around home. I don't intend to charge you anything if that is what is worrying you."

Jerrod and Gail argued back and forth for several minutes. She was still adamant that she would not take his charity. Finally he said, "OK, OK. I get it. Look, I had a part time helper but he quit the other day. How about if you help me in the cabinet shop and I will make some of the repairs here on your house for you? If you work in the shop with me we will sort of trade help with each other."

"OK, Jerrod. I do need some help here. If I can pay my way by helping you I suppose it would be OK but I want to make sure my labor covers all the cost of materials and your labor. That's the only way we will do this."

Over the next three weeks Gail worked part time with Jerrod. She kept her job at McDonalds and worked with Jerrod around her other work schedule. There wasn't much time for her to help with the repairs to her house because she was working 30 hours a week at the Mickey D's and another 20 plus with Jerrod. Many times Jerrod would go to her house and do some of the work without her. When his mother's Support Group found out what he was doing for Gail many of them showed up occasionally to help him. They repaired outside woodwork, replaced window glass and in one case the entire window. They repaired damage inside, redid some of the plumbing and fixtures then they painted. Gail's house was painted inside and out. Their last work was to clean up and mow the yard.

On the day the projects were all completed Gail came home to find the entire Support Group at her home. Many local businessmen who had donated either time or materials to help with the project were there too. When she saw her friends there and walked through the house with them she couldn't help it. She broke out in tears and to his surprise threw herself into Jerrod's arms. She hugged him tightly and buried her head in his chest as her whole body shook with her tears.

Finally the party wound down, her friends left. Jerrod was the last to leave. As he was going out the door Gail grabbed his arm and turned him back to her. She wrapped her arms around him and gave him a deep soul searing kiss. Jerrod felt himself get hard then Gail was grinding her belly against his cock. She pushed back from him and looked him in the eyes. Her eyes were glistening with unshed tears. "Thank you so much Jerrod. At least now I have a house I can live in safely. I'm sorry I gave you so much trouble at first. I really do appreciate your help."

Gail smiled and continued, "I have kept track of the time you spent here and some of your personal material you have donated. I intend to work with you at least until I repay every penny you took out of your own pockets." She gave him another quick kiss then pushed him toward the door. "Now get your butt home. We have work to do tomorrow."

Over the next two months Gail became indispensable to Jerrod. She was a natural at woodworking. He could see the time when she would be as good as or better than he was. Additionally he found her to be an intriguing and sexy woman. At first they began giving each other a hello and good bye kiss occasionally then when they finished a piece they would hug and kiss. The kisses became longer and longer. Jerrod began taking Gail out for meals on weekends then they began going to some of the local clubs for a beer and dancing.

Jerrod began spending some nights at Gail's home with her. The first time Jerrod stayed with Gail he slept on the couch because he was too drunk to drive home. One night after a big job was completed they took the next step. Their drinking and friendly kissing morphed into more, much more. They slept together for the first time.

Over the course of the next several weeks Jerrod began spending all his nights with Gail. They became lovers and he was beginning to wonder if they were in love. Gail was only 7 years older than he was. That would work wouldn't it? He told Gail he loved her. She smiled and cupped his cheek with her hand then gave him a gentle kiss. "Jerrod Honey. You know it would never work. I feel a lot of affection for you. It might even turn into love sometime but it would just never work. I could never give you children. I had female problems after my first child and had a partial hysterectomy. A man needs children to carry on for him."

Jerrod was hurt. He was hurt deeply and vowed to himself he WOULD NOT lose another woman. Three was plenty. He didn't count the two girlfriends he had and lost in high school. He vowed to keep up the pressure and win her heart completely this time. He backed off. Slowly Gail began to warm to Jerrod again but she quit letting him spend every night at her house. They were now just friends with benefits. Sometimes she seemed a little distant to Jerrod but he persevered.

Jerrod was hurt when the rumor mill let him know Gail had been seen in town with another man. He asked her about him and she blushed. "I'm sorry you had to find out that way Jerrod. A really great friend of mine moved back to town a while back. He looked me up and I have been seeing him off and on. He's just a friend Jerrod but at one time we were pretty close. I really like him Jerrod and I want to keep seeing him like I do you. I have been looking for a way to tell you for the last three weeks but I have been afraid to. I was afraid I would hurt you like those other women did and that would just kill me."

Jerrod was hurt when Gail verified the rumors. He still held out some hope though because Gail was still seeing him several nights a week and they still had sex occasionally. He felt he still had a chance with her even though she had told him she didn't think they would work as a couple. Gail seemed happy with the arrangement and Jerrod decided to accept it for a while longer before he tried again to become exclusive with Gail.

One evening after work Gail asked if they could just sit and talk in the break area before she left. She seemed nervous and looked scared. Jerrod wondered what she meant by wanting to talk before SHE left. He had offered to take her out to eat because it was Friday and they went out together a lot of Fridays. They were visiting about the day's work when Jerrod heard a car door close then the door into the shop opened. A man he had seen visiting with Gail occasionally walked into the room. Gail glanced at Jerrod then rose and rushed to the man. She wrapped him in a tight hug then gave him a quick kiss.

Gail turned to Jerrod and wrapped her arm around the man. She looked really scared this time. She took a deep breath and said, "Jerrod Perry and I have to talk to you Honey. I know you think you love me but, for me, that feeling just isn't there for you. I like you a lot and have loved our nights together but I need more and so do you. Perry and I have been seeing each other off and on for several years. He had been out of town for the whole time after you moved back. I would talk to him on the phone occasionally but we weren't together then. He came back to town about three months ago and we got back together. Jerrod he asked me to marry him and I said yes. I love him more than any man I have ever known and he says he loves me too. I couldn't just walk out on you. We had to face you with this in person.

Jerrod I know you may feel like I have dumped on you like the other women in your life did but I had to do this. I had to follow my heart. Everyone deserves happiness and love in their life and Perry does that for me. I will quit and you will never have to see me again if that's what you want but I, we would really like it if I could keep working here with you and be friends."

Gail smiled and looked up at Perry. She placed her hand on his chest and turned to Jerrod once more. "I just don't want the benefits with the friendship any longer. I'm sorry Jerrod."

Jerrod sank back into his chair. He felt empty, hurt but for some reason the anger he had felt when his prior relationships failed didn't come. He wondered about that for a moment then the thought hit him. He knew Gail was not for him. He had never been romantically attracted to her. He had felt sympathy for her at first then love but not the deep soul searing love one should feel for a wife. It was more the love one had for a sister—no for a good friend. They had been drawn to each other because they were lonesome. They used each other to satisfy their need for closeness and sex but there was no real connection in the other ways that counted.

Jerrod looked up at Perry and Gail. He gave her a sickly smile and said, "I know Gail. I'm sorry too. I think deep down I knew we weren't meant to be. I do love you and I know you love me but not that way. I would like it if you would keep working for me and I'll try not to be a pest about the other." Jerrod smiled a little more pleasantly and continued, "I would be lying if I said I wasn't just a little hurt and I will admit I will really miss the benefits but I understand."

Jerrod turned his head to Perry and said, "Perry I hope you realize what a special person you are getting here. I hope you can overlook our past and let Gail keep working here with me. She has a real talent for this kind of work. I think she can become a big name in the business if she keeps at it. Please take care of her for me now."

Within the week it became common knowledge that Jerrod and Gail were no more and she and Perry were. Jerrod took some ribbing around the town but for the most part it was minor especially when he seemed so happy for the couple.

One morning Doris walked up and sat at his table with him. She was in her early 60's as far as he knew. Jerrod had visited with her some because she was a regular at the café but he didn't know her well. She sat and they gossiped for a while then she said, "Jerrod I know you build new cabinets and some furniture but I have a problem I would like you to help me with. I have some cabinets your father made me years ago that need to be repaired. I know I could buy new ones but I really like these because my husband cut and cured the walnut lumber they are made out of. Could you help me out and make the repairs?"

"Doris if it was any wood except for walnut I would tell you not to bother with them. That wood is so expensive I expect it would be cost effective to make the repairs. I don't normally do things like that but I suppose I can see what it will take at least."

Jerrod made an appointment to visit Doris's house and see what was necessary to repair her cabinets. She lived in another of the old houses near Gail's. Her house needed painting and some outside work also but the yard was neat and she had some pretty flowers in appropriate places.

When Jerrod entered her house he stopped in amazement. It was neat as a pin and filled with what he instantly saw was solid wood furniture. The paint was faded and the carpets threadbare but everything was clean and well cared for. All her furniture was old but it glistened. Her kitchen was filled with old appliances and was spotless. He did notice the faucets were dripping in the sink. The back screen door sagged slightly and the screen wire was rusty. He stood looking at the cabinets though with sorrow. Some of the doors were gouged and much of the finish was worn off. They needed new counter tops. The old Formica was worn through to the black undercoat over much of the work area. A couple of the doors had come unglued.

"Doris I think I can fix it all but I really can't give you a good estimate on the cost. All I can do is charge you by the hour and add the cost of materials. I can give you the exact cost for new hardware and a new counter top if that would help."

"I don't care Jerrod. These cabinets mean the world to me. I'll find the money somewhere but I have to fix them. My husband gave them to me when we didn't have enough money to hardly get by on and I don't intend to lose them. They are one of the few things of his I have left now. I don't have a lot of money but I will pay whatever it takes honey. If you would be willing could I do some of the work on them myself? I would need you to tell me how to do the work but I would really like to do it myself to save money if you think I can."

Doris gave Jerrod a small smile as she stared into the distance of time gone by. She continued, "I helped him you know. We went out into the woods and cut the timber for them ourselves. I helped him load it and haul it to the saw mill too. We had to cut three times the amount we needed because the mill took a third of the lumber to cut it for us. Your Daddy took another third of the lumber for making the cabinets for us. I always thought he should have taken more but that is what he wanted. My Samuel helped him some and he said that was enough. I surely did love that man. Sometimes he would do without so I could have something he knew I wanted. I sure miss him sometimes."

Jerrod felt his heart cry for Doris. Just looking at her and listening to her he knew she and her husband had been perfect for each other. He was sure now the three women he had thought were "the one" had not been. He hoped he could eventually find someone like Doris and his mother had. He looked more closely at the cabinets and told Doris what she needed to do to get started. He helped her take off the doors and told her the stripper she needed to purchase to clean the old finish off them. He told her how to do the job and advised her strongly to keep windows open to let the fumes out when she began working on the installed portion of the cabinets. He even suggested she use a fan to pull the fumes out of her house. After she had stripped the doors that needed repair he picked them up and took them to his shop for the work.

Several times when Jerrod stopped over to see how the work was coming Doris was 'friendly' with him. He didn't know how to handle her. He didn't want to say anything to her for fear it would hurt her feelings but he was sure she was rubbing her big ole boobies on him on purpose. He had heard she was a real hot item with the older men in town. Several times when he left she would grab him and hug him. He felt her belly press into his crotch. She never wore a bra and kept her blouse open way lower than most women would. She was acting like what his friends in the city had called a cougar.

One evening Jerrod came over with the new counter top. It took him almost three hours to remove the old top and install the new one. Doris tried to help and seemed to spend more time rubbing her body on his than actually helping with the work. He was lying on his back partly under the sink fastening it to the counter top when Doris walked up and stood straddle him. She grabbed the sink and said, "Let me hold the sink steady for you Jerrod. Will that help?"

Actually her help centering the sink while he made the first couple of attachments would be a help and he looked upward at her to answer. What he saw surprised him. He knew she was wearing a skirt when he got there that evening. What he hadn't known was she was not wearing underwear. When he looked up he saw her bare pussy winking at him.

Doris looked down at him and grinned. "How does that look to you Jerrod? If I hold it you can get it in easier can't you Honey?"

Jerrod lay there and stared. He felt his face heat up with his blush. "Uh, yeah Doris. That's fine."

Jerrod pulled his head back inside the cabinet and finished securing the sink. After the sink was in tightly he replaced the plumbing. After he began working on the plumbing Doris didn't leave as he wished she would. Instead she backed up a half step and squatted down to watch. Her knees were splayed and every time he looked toward her he saw her old shaved bare cooter winking at him. He became horny in spite of himself and finally had to adjust himself before he finished the work.

When Doris saw him adjust his hard cock she smiled and said, "It's a little tight in there isn't it Jerrod?"

He looked at Doris when he finished with the pipes and said, "That's done now Doris. Could you back up now please so I can get up.?"

Doris grinned wider and said, "Honey I think you've been up for quite a while now." She stood and leaned down after he moved out from under the cabinet. She held her hand out to help Jerrod stand. When he reached for her hand he looked down her loose top and saw her breasts. She was not wearing a bra and her nipples were standing up proud. They were an angry red and must be a half inch long and as big around as his finger. He unconsciously licked his lips.

After he stood Doris wrapped him in a hug and pressed her belly into his cock. She rubbed it back and forth then whispered, "Honey I have some more plumbing I would really love to have you work on now. Please?"

Doris took Jerrod's hand and pulled him out of the kitchen. He resisted at first then for some reason he followed her into her bedroom. She stopped beside the bed and turned to face him. He was still in shock and before he knew it her top was off and she was unfastening her skirt. He watched it drop to the floor and she was naked in front of him. Jarrod stared at Doris' swaying breasts as she started unfastening his trousers.

Doris freed his cock and squatted in front of him. She gently grabbed his cock and pulled it to her widely open mouth. She licked up the underside, popped the helmet into her mouth then swirled her tongue around and around. Doris looked up at Jarrod with a smile then dropped her mouth downward taking almost all of his 7" length into her mouth. She pulled back then pressed down again. Every time she pulled back she swirled her tongue around the tip of his cock.

Jerrod moaned in spite of himself and felt his hips begin to involuntarily thrust toward Doris. "Damn," he whispered. This was the best blow job he had EVER received. This old woman could suck the chrome off a trailer hitch. Jerrod's knees were getting weak. He felt his seed rising. He grabbed Doris's face and tried to push her back. "I'm going to cum if you don't stop. AHHHHH." Jerrod slammed his hips forward and almost fell as his cum raced out of his balls and splattered into Doris's sucking mouth.

Doris gently jacked him while she finished sucking his seed from his throbbing cock. When he stopped pumping she gently licked Jarrod clean and looked up at him once more. She was smiling and said, "Not bad for an old woman was it Jerrod?" She looked slightly fearful and asked, "Would you mind helping me out now please? I know I'm not as young and pretty as Gail was but I have the same needs too Honey. Please?"

Jerrod gently helped Doris up and onto her bed. He finished undressing and crawled in beside her. He sucked her nipples for a moment then gave her a kiss. He began kissing down her torso heading for her bare beaver. He got past her navel before she realized what he was going to do. He was moving between her legs bending his head down to her pussy. It smelled delightful. Doris placed one hand over her cunt and the other pushed at his head. "No Honey. You don't have to do that to me. I know how you men feel about licking a woman. Just fuck me please Jerrod."

Jerrod gently pulled her hand from her pussy and said, "No Doris. You gave me a wonderful blow job. It was the best one I have ever had and when a woman does that for me I return the favor. In fact, I am one of those men who really like to go down on my women. If you really don't want me to I won't otherwise, please let me do it."

"Oh, Honey. I used to love a nice soft tongue on my little pussy. If you really don't mind I don't either."

For the next thirty minutes Jerrod pleasured Doris with his tongue. Finally she was so tender she begged him to stop. He smiled and rose above her. She watched between her splayed, drawn up knees as he knee walked up into her crotch. He leaned over her and hunched his hips. His cock hit her thigh then slid down and across her pussy lip. He adjusted himself slightly and hunched forward again. He felt the head of his cock enter her love canal. Doris smiled up at him. Jerrod thrust strongly forward and more of his cock slid into her. Doris moaned and thrust her hips upward toward Jerrod's invading cock. More of his cock slid into her. Jerrod pulled back slightly and they both thrust at once. This drove him completely inside her and their pubic bones banged together.

Jerrod moved his hips in a circular motion as he kept the pressure on Doris. She moaned once more and pulled his shoulders down. She whispered, "Thank you Jerrod. That feels so good Honey."

Jerrod pulled backward then slid slowly back into Doris. He kept up the slow gentle strokes until Doris grabbed him and pulled downward on his hips. "Faster please. I can't take more of this damn slow fucking. Pound me please Jerrod Honey."

Jerrod began rapid hard thrusts into Doris. The old bed squeaked and rattled. The headboard bounced off the wall over and over in time with his thrusts into Doris. Jerrod heard the familiar slap, slap, slap of a wet juicy pussy taking his hard cock. Doris screamed and pulled downward on his waist. She thrust her hips upward rapidly several times and stopped with her pelvis in the air pressing against Jerrod. She held him tightly to her. He smiled when he felt the flutter of her cunt contracting and releasing against him over and over while her orgasm washed through her. That was all it took for him too. He groaned and felt his cock contract and release over and over pumping his seed into his new lover.

Jerrod leaned down and gave Doris a gentle kiss. He raised himself up on his extended arms then rolled to the side to lie beside her. Doris rolled to him and threw an arm and leg over his body. She laid her head on his shoulder and they both drifted off to sleep. Jerrod woke about 2130 that evening. He roused Doris when he tried to get up and leave.

Doris lay in the bed watching him dress. There were tears in her eyes. "Thank you Jerrod. I'm sorry I took advantage of you son. Please forgive me for wanting a little of what Gail had. You know us old women don't get as much loving as we need. A lot of us don't get any after our men die. An older woman may not need as much loving as a younger one does but she still needs a man you know. Some of us only want him for companionship, some for sex and some of us want him for both but we DO want and need a man occasionally. Please don't think too badly of me. If you don't want to see me again I'll understand. That's why I waited until all you had left to do was hang the doors before I tried this. I can hang the doors if you want me to."

Jerrod smiled and said, "No Doris. I'll take care of the doors for you too." He bent forward and gave her a gentle kiss on the forehead then stood. He looked down at her and said, "I don't know what to say. I'll see you in a day or two to finish up if that's ok."

Doris lay on her bed and watched Jerrod walk from her room. She moved her hand down and felt the swamp her pussy had turned into. She smiled and began rubbing her little nubbin while she replayed the night in her mind. She had her next orgasm faster than any she could ever remember giving herself since her husband had died. Young Jerrod was way better than the old coots she picked up at the Senior Center dances too. He had that youthful exuberance and stamina she missed.

Three evenings later Jerrod showed up with the doors to her cabinets. She helped him hang them and because of the closeness of the work she once again rubbed her body against him several times. Doris felt her pussy get wet and her nipples get hard and push out her loose top. Several times she saw Jerrod looking at her nipples. This only made her get wetter.

After they finished Jerrod stood looking at her. He licked his lips. Doris felt a flutter like she used to have when she was a young woman. 'He wants me, ' she thought. She reached her hand out and gently touched his semi hard cock. She looked at his face and slowly reached for his cock. If Jerrod had been one of the men at the senior dances she would have been way more aggressive. With Jerrod she just gently held his cock and quietly said, "Please?"

Jerrod smiled and wrapped her in his arms. He gave her a kiss and pressed his now hard cock into her belly. Doris pulled away, smiled and took his hand. She led him into her bedroom and they undressed each other. This evening was almost a complete reenactment of the first time they made love.

Now almost every time Jerrod went to the café for coffee Doris sat with him. They visited but many wondered if there was more there? Many of the men knew Doris's reputation but couldn't convince themselves a man as young as Jerrod would fall into her bed. Some of Doris's friends began sitting with them too. One day as he was preparing to leave Edwina, one of Doris's friends put her hand on his forearm and said, "Jerrod Doris has told me about all the help you've been to her. Would you mind coming to my house tonight and giving me some help too?"

"Well, I don't usually work in people's houses. I'm not a carpenter or anything like that. What do you need help with?"

Edwina blushed slightly and looked down. "I have some plumbing problems and Doris said you could help me with them is all. Please? She said you did such a good job on her faucet."

"Look Edwina I'm definitely not a plumber. Why don't you call one? I build furniture and cabinets."

"I know but Doris said you took care of her problem and I have such a small one. Please. Won't you at least come over so we can talk about it?"

Finally Jerrod agreed to drop by Edwina's home that evening. When he got there Edwina met him at the door in a filmy gown and robe that showed more than it hid. He started to back out of the room and apologize but she grabbed him and pulled him in until she could close the door. She flowed into his arms and hugged him then gave him a kiss. Jerrod stood in shock and tried to pull away.

Edwina held onto him tightly and said, "Please Jerrod. Doris said you didn't mind helping her out and I need the same ... Oh, hell, I'm too old for these games. Jerrod I need to be fucked and loved by a man just like Doris does. I'm almost ten years younger than she is and I know we can be good together too. I won't beg you but could you please just love me too? Please? I don't need a lot of time from you. I would be happy with just two or three times a month."

As she was saying those words Edwina was rubbing her breasts on Jerrod's chest and had her hand wrapped around his cock as much as his pants would allow. Jerrod stood worrying about how he could refuse her without hurting her feelings. He felt the involuntary thrust his body made in time to Edwina's jacking of his cock. Damn it was sure starting to feel good. He felt his hips gently thrusting in time to her movements. When he didn't pull away Edwina smiled and led him toward her bedroom.

With a few variations this evening was very much like those he spent with Doris. Jerrod found himself spending time in Doris's bed about once every week to ten days. She said that was enough. Sometimes he dropped by to visit her a time or two in between their sexual trysts too. Many times they sat in the yard so neighbors could see them. They felt this gave an indication nothing was going on between them that shouldn't be.

If possible Edwina was even more appreciative of his efforts than Doris was. She was wilder in bed and her pussy was tighter. She was the kind of fuck Jerrod had grown to love also. When she was in the throes of passion she talked, she begged, she screamed in her passion and enjoyment of the deed. Edwina cried when Jerrod insisted on going home about eleven p.m. She made him promise to return soon.

The next morning Gail noticed something wrong with Jerrod almost as soon as she arrived at work. Several times when Gail looked up at Jerrod that morning he had been standing staring into space instead of working. Mid morning he took a break and she found him sitting in one of the chairs staring out into the yard.

Gail sat where she could see his face and said, "Ok Jerrod. What's bothering you? You've been acting funny for a couple weeks now but today you are acting really strange. If you have a problem maybe I can help. You helped me a lot and I want to return the favor."

Jerrod laughed and then he snorted, "No Gail I'm pretty sure you can't help me with this problem. I have no idea what I'm going to do now."

"Well if I can't help I'll call Perry. I know he'd be glad to help you after what you've done for me, for us. We're friends and we want to help you."

Jerrod laughed out loud at that. He laughed until it hurt. Gail became angry and stood. "You asshole. I offer to help you and all you can do is laugh at me. Well FUCK YOU. I'm sorry I cared." She started to storm off and Jerrod got his laughter under control. He grabbed her arm and said, "No. Please Gail. I wasn't laughing at your offer to help me. I'm sorry." All at once he broke out into another laugh then said through his laughter, "Or maybe I am. I'm pretty sure though that you really, really don't want Perry to help me with my problem. Please sit down. I'll tell you about it and maybe you can give me an idea at least of what I can do."

Jerrod spent the next few minutes explaining to Gail what had happened with Doris and Edwina. Then he said, "So, if you're still willing to have Perry help me out with my problem when can I expect him?"

Gail laughed and said, "How about the twelfth of never stud. I'm sorry I ever offered to let him help you now. Ain't agonna happen in my lifetime."

Just then Perry walked into the building. Many days he would drop by and take Gail to lunch about this time. He looked at the two friends and said, "Whoa there Honey. If Jerrod needs my help of course I'll help him. How could you tell him I wasn't going to help him if he needs me?"

Jerrod looked at Perry then at Gail's shocked face then he doubled over in laughter again. Perry stood there looking surprised until Gail and Jerrod quit laughing. Finally he said, "OK is one of you going to tell me what's so funny?"

Jerrod was snickering continuously as he explained his problem to Perry also. Perry just sat there in shock looking at Jerrod. He occasionally glanced at Gail to see if he could discern if Jerrod was serious. When Jerrod finished his tale Perry said, "I just don't believe it. Doris and Edwina actually slept with you. I mean you screwed both of them and they want more? And you say Frances is coming on to you too?" He laughed and snorted. Through his laughter he said, "Oh, that's just too good. Jerrod the Gigolo. Sorry stud. Gail's right. I can't help you with this one."

Perry and Gail sat looking at each other for a while. Occasionally one or the other would snort and suppress a laugh. Finally Perry looked at Gail and shook his head. He turned to Jerrod and said, "You know Jerrod I'm not sure I see a real problem here as long as you're discrete. I mean none of you are married or have a steady or anything. Most of the town knows the old women at the Senior Center here in Steelville are cougars. There are way more unmarried old women than there are men. Hell, why don't you just keep on doing them? That way you all get what you need. They're happy. You're happy and no one gets hurt. Seems like a win, win proposition to me really."

Gail looked at Perry in shock and yelled out in a horrified tone of voice, "PERRY! You can't be serious!"

Perry bit his lower lip and said, "Well Honey is there any real difference between those old women and you? You and Jerrod did the same thing until we got back together." He saw Gail's face begin to cloud up and held up his hand to stop her outburst. "Look Honey, I'm not complaining or running you down. I know you were free to do that. We weren't a couple and you two more or less were. All I'm saying is they have the same right to do things like that that you or any other unattached woman does."

"I guess they do but they're so old! And besides he's uh DOING all of them at the same time."

Jerrod broke in there and said, "Whoa there Gail. I AM NOT doing them all at the same time. I have never had sex with a woman with anyone else in the room. Sometimes there is almost a week between the times I am intimate with one or the other of them and we are always alone together."

The three friends discussed the issue more and agreed unless the women became jealous or Jerrod found a younger woman he wanted to date there was really no reason for him to refuse to have sex with them unless it bothered him morally. Jerrod finally perked up and smiled at his friends. "Ok. I guess I have a handle on this now. I still feel odd but what the heck. At least we all get laid every so often and Edwina was right about one thing. We all need loving from time to time."

Jerrod stood and returned to the shop. He stood tall and looked happy once more. Gail was glad he was happier but inside she still didn't feel right about Perry's suggestion Jerrod continue pleasuring the old women.

Over the course of the next year Jerrod added two more women to his 'stable'. There was Doris, Edwina, Frances, and Hope. Hope was the youngest of the 'Cougars' at only 49. She was probably his favorite. He found himself spending every Friday night with her and sometimes Saturday and Saturday night also.

One Sunday morning in January after Jerrod had been "helping" his lady friends for several months his mother said, "Jerrod could we stay home this morning and have breakfast instead of go to the café like we usually do?"

"Sure mom. Don't you feel well? I thought you enjoyed getting out for a meal on Sunday mornings before you went to church. Is something wrong?"

"No I don't think so but I really wanted to talk to you and I didn't want anyone to overhear. I've been trying to talk to you now for almost a month and you are always gone or too busy or the time is just not right. I just wanted to have a leisurely breakfast with you and talk some if you don't mind."

Jerrod helped his mother fix the breakfast—his favorite of Denver Omelet, hash browns and wheat toast. After the meal Jerrod leaned back to enjoy his coffee. He looked at his mother and said, "What did you want to talk about Mom?

She looked worried and didn't meet his eye. She took a deep breath and said, "Jerrod I guess I've been listening to rumors and I need to ask you about them. You are staying away from home so late now and sometimes you don't even come home at all. Do you have a girlfriend finally or what is the problem? You wouldn't believe the rumors I've been hearing about you. People are saying you and Doris and some of the other older ladies that go to the Senior Center dances are having sex. Jerrod you aren't are you?"

Embarrassment rushed through Jerrod's body. He had been afraid this day would come for several months. At least he had time to decide on how to handle it. He sighed and looked up at his mother. If anything she was blushing worse than he was. "Mom I don't know what people are saying but I can guess. I suppose it was bound to happen. I have several friends that are older. Some of them are even from your Bereavement Group. They are all nice ladies that are lonesome. They need to have a man around sometimes and I guess I am helping them out. I do small repairs and keep them company when they're lonesome."

His mother snorted and looked him in the face. "Is that what you call it now? You keep them company when they're lonesome? You're really doing what they say you are aren't you? You're sleeping with women who are even older than I am. I just can't believe it. WHY? I just don't understand. Whatever could have possessed you to do something like that? How could you take advantage of those old women like that?"

"Mom it's NOT like that. I'm not taking advantage of them. We're friends." Jerrod smiled a little sickly smile and continued, "I guess the term nowadays is friends with benefits. I didn't go looking for them. They all came to me and I guess seduced me. Doris was the first and I didn't know what to do. I just followed her lead I guess. Then she told some of her friends and the others came to me for the same thing. I finally had to put my foot down and tell them I was not interested in adding more lovers to my life. I told them I didn't mind having other ladies as my friends but to stop letting the older women know I was available for sex. I'm afraid some still come on to me because they need a man badly. I have hurt some feelings because I won't add more women to the group. Having said that, we all decided what we were doing wasn't hurting anyone and we enjoyed it so there was nothing wrong with it."

"Nothing wrong with it? Jerrod of course there is something wrong with it. Your father and I raised you to know better than that. It's immoral and indecent. Those women are too old for you. You all should be ashamed of yourselves."

Mom I guess I'm not real proud of myself but I'm not ashamed either. Those old ladies are my friends and we help each other. We're always careful and I would be very surprised if anyone knows for sure what we do. Or maybe I wouldn't. I'm sure some of their friends know we are intimate. I have gotten some hints from some of the other older women that I would be welcome to come spend time with them but I ignore them. Some nights I am with the ladies all we do is visit and play cards. We all get together occasionally and just visit and have fun like normal friends do. Other times I do go to bed with one or another of them but it is a mutual thing. Like Doris told me everyone has needs and what's wrong about getting them met. Don't you wish you had someone to hold and hold you, to be with sometimes?"

"Jerrod that's none of your business young man. I loved your father deeply and now he's gone. Of course I miss him and what we had but he's gone. I haven't gone out and found a man younger than my children to rut around with. How could you ask me about that?"

"Mom I'm sorry. All I meant was they're lonesome. I was lonesome. We had physical and emotional needs that we are helping each other fill. No one is forcing anyone to do anything. I'm sorry if what I do hurts you or embarrasses you but it's my life. If I embarrass you I will find another place to live so you don't have to put up with it. I'm sorry."

Jerrod stood to leave the table. His mother sat staring at him for a moment then she sighed. "No Jerrod. You were right. We all have needs and one thing I need is my son here to keep me company. That is all I need from you though young man. Do you understand me? And please be more discrete. I hate to hear about your shenanigans from the preacher and those old biddies at the church. Do you know how embarrassing it is to know my son is a gigolo?"

"Mom I'm NOT a gigolo. I have never taken money from those women and I have no intention of doing so. All I am is their friend. I'm someone who helps them through their lonesome lives. Now are we done here?"

Over the course of the next several weeks Jerrod and his lady friends settled into a strange relationship. He saw his mother every weekday morning and at noon while he was working at the cabinet shop. After he quit working for the day he quickly showered and took off for the home of one of his friends except for Thursdays and Sundays when he stayed home with his mother. Sometimes he came home at night and other times he didn't. He probably wasn't getting sex any more than a married man did. Many nights all he and his 'date' did was visit and enjoy each other's company. Sometimes he and his women and some other elderly friends all got together for a visit or meal. He averaged sex with Doris, Edwina or Frances each about every ten days. For some reason each of the ladies had chosen a specific day for him to visit. Doris was Monday, Edwina Tuesday, Frances Wednesday. Jerrod spent Thursday with his mother and Friday he spent with Hope because she liked to go out more than the other ladies did. Many Friday evenings they went to Centerton for a nice meal and then dancing.

Jerrod spent the entire night with Hope when they were together and they almost always had sex. The dancing and nights out always seemed to inflame her passions. One Friday night about 3 a.m. Jerrod and Hope were going at it as they normally do. He was between her legs slamming his cock deeply into her over and over like she enjoyed. She was screaming out her pleasure while her fingers raked across his back. She was slamming her pelvis up to meet him thrust for thrust.

Just as they were both about the go over the edge Hope's bedroom door slammed open and bounced off the wall. Jerrod was so startled he jerked his cock from Hope just as they both came. His seed spewed out and all over Hope and the bed. He was turning his head toward the door when he was hit in the side. He felt instant pain shoot through his body as he rolled off the bed onto the floor.

Jerrod rolled into a ball clutching his side when he saw denim covered legs come into view. He looked up and saw a young woman holding a ball bat glaring at him. "You just stay right there asshole. If you move before the police get here I'll beat you til you never move again."

The woman turned to Hope who was still staring at her and said, "Are you ok Mom? Can you call the police or do I need to? He didn't hurt you did he?"

Hope was crying and shook her head. She shook her head no and jumped from the bed. She knelt beside Jerrod and gently rolled him over. She placed her hand on his cheek and said, "Are you ok Jerrod Honey? Can you move? Do you need an ambulance?"

"MOM! Get away from him before he hurts you again. Why are you worried about that asshole anyway?"

Hope looked up at the woman and said, "Barbara Honey he wasn't hurting me. Now put the bat down and help me get him into bed then you go get some ice and a wet washrag."

Jerrod grimaced and groaned slightly when the two women lifted him and helped him back into Hope's bed. Barbara went for the ice and rag her mother requested. Jerrod had a large spot where Barbara hit his hip and side that was rapidly turning black. Hope wrapped the ice in the rag and gently placed it on the injury.

Hope covered Jerrod with the sheet and put on her robe. She sat on the edge of the bed and laid her hand on Jerrod's forehead. She looked up at the young woman standing staring at her. "Barbara I'm sorry you saw that. What are you doing here anyway? Where's Toby?"

Barbara sank into the chair in her mother's bedroom and began crying. "I've left him momma. I'm going to file for divorce. I caught him cheating on me again tonight so I packed up and came home to you." She looked over at Jerrod and continued, "Since you're so calm and concerned for that man I assume I jumped to the wrong conclusion. I'm sorry mom. He's a little young for you isn't he?"

"Honey this is Jerrod. I guess we're what you young folks call friends with benefits. He has sort of adopted some of us lonesome ladies here in town since he moved home when his daddy died."

"My GOD. You mean he, uh, you're not the only one he, uh takes care of?"

Hope smiled and gently said, "No Honey. There are four of us that I know of. Doris sort of introduced us to him. We all get together sometimes and play cards or visit and he spends some alone time with us. We just keep each other from being so damn lonesome."

"Doris? That skank from the dances? You mean you still run around with her? And he is with all of you?" Barbara blushed and continued, "I mean, how could you all be together at once?"

Hope barked out a little laugh and said, "No Barbara. NOT like that. I mean we visit and have meals together sometimes. We're friends. We also have some alone time with him from time to time. If we're alone we do whatever we feel like. Sometimes we just visit or cuddle, sometimes we go out and sometimes we do other things."

Jerrod drifted off to sleep and the women went into the living room. Hope looked at Barbara and said, "Honey I'm sorry about Toby. I always knew he was trash. He was like that growing up. You know I tried to talk you out of marrying him but you thought you knew best. Now that's all I'm going to say about that. Of course you can move back home if you want to but Barbara you need to know if Jerrod wants to I'm still going to see him along. He's the best thing that has happened to me since your father died and I'm not going to run him off."

Things were a little strange and uncomfortable at Hope's house the next few weeks as Barbara settled in. She still didn't like the idea of her mother's lover being her same age and she especially didn't like trying to sleep the nights they were making love for hours on end.

To his sorrow Jerrod and her friends had to watch Doris begin sinking into infirmity. She was now almost 66 years old and looked older. Her memory was slipping slightly and she was taking heavy doses of medication for almost uncontrollable high blood pressure. Her hard life and poor eating habits had caught up with her. Jerrod still spent time visiting with her and some evenings he even slept with her but it had been months since they had sex. A time or two they did use KY to lube Doris up before they quit having sex but the intercourse was not pleasurable for either of them. They sadly decided that unless she got better there was no reason to continue that part of their relationship.

Jerrod and his group of lady friends became more and more worried about Doris. She was slowing down. It had been several months since she and Jerrod had sex by now. One day Frances called him at work crying. "Jerrod," she said, "We had to put Doris in the hospital this morning. I hadn't heard from her since Tuesday morning so dropped by to see her. She was lying on the kitchen floor. The doctor says she had a stroke Jerrod. I know she would like it if you can get out to visit her."

Doris recognized her friends but the stroke had affected her speech. She lingered on for another three days then in the night she had another stroke and died. Jerrod was at Hope's home that evening when they got the word. All the friends gathered there to grieve. Jerrod sat with his arms resting on his knees. Tears were running down his cheeks.

The old women were sad but they weren't crying like Jerrod. Barbara was scurrying around trying to make things easier for the women and Jerrod. When she saw him crying she sat beside him and wrapped her arm around him. She let her head rest on his shoulder. She didn't say anything for a long time then she said, "You loved her didn't you Jerrod?"

Jerrod nodded his head and said, "Yeah. She was sort of like the grandma I never knew and a girlfriend and friend all rolled into one." He raised his head a little and looked at the other ladies in the room. He licked his lips and continued, "I love them all and I hate the thought of this happening again. Seems like every woman I get close to leaves me or dies or something."

Jerrod was more upset at Doris's passing than the ladies. Since he felt closer to Hope he spent most of his free time with her. His mother didn't understand and was a little hurt by his attitude. She had tried to comfort him and felt rebuffed. The first Monday after Doris was buried Jerrod was at a loss. Gail worried about him and finally sent him home in mid afternoon.

Jerrod wandered into the house but couldn't relax. He had nowhere to go. He drank three beers and just walked out. He got into his truck and drove over to Doris's house. He used his key and went inside. He crawled into her bed and went to sleep with his head on her pillow.

Jerrod had ignored his mother when he left that afternoon. She had been talking to him and he just stared through her. He didn't answer any of her questions about where he was going or when he would be back. She knew he usually spent Monday evenings with Doris. About ten p.m. she began calling him to check on him. He didn't answer his cell phone. Finally in desperation she began calling the women she knew he visited to see if he was ok. Of course none of them had seen him so they all began worrying. Hope was frantic and rushed out of her house to try and find Jerrod. Barbara offered to help her search. The town was small so the two women hopped in their cars and began driving the streets checking at all the places he might be.

Barbara was the one who had the idea of checking at Doris's old house. When she pulled into the yard she found Jerrod's truck there. She knocked on the door but got no answer. Finally she walked into the dark house. She was afraid of what she would find but she searched on. When she got to the bedroom she found Jerrod curled up hugging a pillow sleeping.

She gently sat on the bed beside him and placed her hand on his shoulder. "Jerrod," she whispered. "Are you ok?" She shook him gently to wake him. Jerrod rolled slightly and looked up at Barbara. She could see the sorrow in his face. "Jerrod are you ok," she asked again.

This time Jerrod heard her and nodded his head yes then said, "Yeah, I'm fine. What are you doing here?"

"Your mother was worried about you. When you didn't answer your phone she began calling all your friends and we got worried when none of us could find you. Can I do anything for you Jerrod?"

"No. I just need to be alone."

"NO! That's the last thing you need Jerrod."

Jerrod just rolled away from Barbara again and lay quietly. His breathing was broken up and his eyes were watering slightly. Barbara rose and walked quietly from the room. When she got to the living room she called Kelly and told her she had found Jerrod at Doris's old home and that he was fine. "He was asleep when I got here Kelly. I woke him up and he said he was ok then just rolled over and went back to sleep. I don't think there is anything wrong with him except he missed Doris. He's in her bed hugging her pillow. I'll stay here with him tonight to be sure he does ok. Would you call everyone and let them know I've found him?"

Barbara sat in the dark living room for a while then exhaustion overcame her. She heard Jerrod moaning and muttering so she walked into the bedroom once more. He was still hugging the pillow. Barbara lay on the bed behind him and spooned up against his back. She wrapped her arm around him and held him to her.

When he felt Barbara snuggle against him Jerrod relaxed and dropped off into a deep sleep. Barbara rapidly dropped off to sleep also. The sun hitting her in the eye woke her the next morning. Jerrod was still wrapped in her arms. She lay holding him and felt herself moisten slightly. It felt so good to wake up holding a man again. She smiled to herself and thought I know why those old women enjoy Jerrod so much.

Jerrod woke and felt the very feminine body behind him. He was disoriented for a short time then he recognized his location. After all he had been in this bedroom many times in the past. He knew Doris was dead but he didn't know who was holding him. He moved away from his sleeping partner slightly and turned to face her. He was positive it was female because of the nice breasts pushing against his back and because of the feminine hand and arm around his chest.

His eyes opened in shock when he saw he had been snuggling with Barbara. He pushed back a little farther and said, "What are you doing here?"

"Your mother got worried about you Jerrod and called all your friends hunting you when you didn't answer your cell. Remember I told you that last night when I found you? Since none of us knew where you were we decided we needed to find you. I don't know why I decided to come check on Doris's old house but I did. I came in and found you sleeping on her bed. I woke you but you didn't want to move. I decided to just stay with you last night to be sure you were ok. Remember?"

"Yeah, I'm ok I guess. You didn't have to stay here though. I know how you feel about me and your mother. I'll be fine."

The two acquaintances were just laying looking at each other when they heard a door close and voices in the living room. Kelly yelled, "Jerrod are you back there? Are you ok Honey?" There were footsteps coming closer then Kelly and Hope walked into the bedroom. Jerrod rolled away from Barbara and sat on the edge of the bed. He looked up at his mother in time to take a Styrofoam cup of coffee from her hand. Hope handed a similar cup to Barbara.

Barbara sat on the side of the bed beside him and wrapped him in a hug. His mother sat on the other side of him and tried to do the same thing. She gave him a gentle kiss and said, "We were so worried about you son. Please don't ever do something like that again."

The three women talked Jerrod into leaving with them. They made Jerrod ride to the local café with Barbara where Jerrod, his mother and all his remaining lady friends had breakfast together. Jerrod rode with his mother back to Doris's house after breakfast to get his truck then followed her home so he could go to work.

Jerrod healed over the course of the next few weeks but at times he still missed Doris greatly. All of the friends did. Jerrod found himself attending some of the support group meetings with his mother too. Somehow Jerrod added Doris's Monday to the days he spent with Hope and Barbara. He also found himself looking forward to seeing and talking to Barbara as much or more than he did Hope and definitely more than he did the other two ladies. He was glad he and Barbara had become such good friends. He felt great when she saw him and gave him that 1,000 watt smile. He loved some of the conversations they had with each other too.

Many evenings when he got to Hope's house he and Barbara would sit on the couch and talk. She seemed to sit closer and closer to him as time progressed. A time or two he would look up and see Hope watching the two of them as they talked and visited. He couldn't describe the look on her face. Was it puzzled or sorry or what? He didn't know and didn't know why she had started looking at him that way.

He felt odd now visiting Hope in her house and sleeping with her. Sometimes the look on Barbara's face when he and Hope left for a night on the town almost hurt him. She looked so sad and lonesome. One evening when he got there he saw Barbara smile when he opened the door. She walked up to him and gave him a quick hug then a gentle kiss on the lips. She stepped back and said, "Mom's about ready Jerrod. You doing anything special tonight?"

Jerrod looked up and saw Hope standing in her hallway looking at them once more. He smiled at her and turned his attention back to Barbara as he said, "No, not really. We're just going to town for a nice meal and then we'll catch a movie." He started to walk past Barbara and had a thought. "Hey," he said. "Why don't you come along with us?"

Jerrod looked up at Hope and saw a strange look on her face once more and said, "You don't mind do you Hope? I'm sorry I should have asked you first."

Barbara felt her heart lurch when Jerrod asked her to come with them then it sank. She knew she couldn't do that. She was interfering with her mother's life way too much as it was. She looked at her mother and saw a strange look on her face. She knew she didn't want her to go and be a third wheel.

Barbara turned back to Jerrod and said, "No, I couldn't Jer. I don't want to mess up mom's night any worse than I do already. But thank you for asking." She turned and started down the hallway toward her bedroom.

When she got even with her mother Hope reached out and touched her forearm. She said, "Barbara Honey. I don't mind at all. I think it would be fun if we all went out together. I can spend some time with Jerrod later if he wants to. Now hurry up and get changed."

"No Mom. I couldn't."

"Nonsense. Jerrod's right. It would be great if you went with us. Now hurry up."

That evening the three had more fun than Jerrod and Hope usually did when they were out with each other. They had a wonderful meal at a nice French restaurant Jerrod and Hope liked then went dancing at an upscale night club. Jerrod danced with both ladies until he was so tired he could hardly move. When he was dancing with Hope Barbara sat at the table alone and watched them. Hope saw her turn down offers to dance from several nice looking men. Hope, on the other hand took many of those offers while Jerrod and Barbara danced with each other.

Hope watched the two young people while they watched each other. They were really enjoying their night out and so was Hope.

Over the course of the next three months it became routine for Barbara to join Hope and Jerrod when they went out. When Jerrod was with them Barbara kept her eyes on him and hung on his every word. If Hope would offer Jerrod a drink or another helping of food when they ate together in her home Barbara always jumped to get it for Jerrod.

Hope noticed she and Jerrod were not having sex as often as they had when he first became her lover. When they did have sex she felt a hesitation from Jerrod as if his entire mind and body were not in it with her.

One Sunday morning after Jerrod left their house she wandered into the living room still in her robe. She and Jerrod had had one of their better recent sessions the night before. She had screamed out her pleasure until her throat was raw. She saw Barbara sitting on the front porch staring out across the street.

Hope got herself a cup of coffee and went out to sit with Barbara. She saw Barbara had been crying and asked, "What's the matter Honey?"

"Momma I have to leave. I can't take this any longer. I can't stand to hear you screaming at night with Jerrod. It's just killing me."

Hope felt her heart break at her daughter's words and the look of anguish on her face. She rose from her chair and moved to the swing beside Barbara. She wrapped her daughter in her arms and kissed her gently on the cheek.

"I'm sorry Honey. I suspected but I didn't realize until just now. You love him don't you?"

Barbara sniffled and nodded her head. "Yes. I can't take it anymore. I thought I could be ok with it but I just can't. I love you Momma and want you to be happy. I'll move back to the city I suppose but I have to get away. I'm sorry."

"Don't be child. We can't help who we love. Do me a favor though please? Don't do anything for a couple of weeks. Maybe we can work something out."

"No Momma. I don't want to share him with you if that's what you mean. I know that's selfish but I want a man all my own. I want a husband I can take care of and who will take care of me. I want a father for my children."

"Honey please, just wait a couple of weeks for me. None of us love Jarrod that way. You deserve a chance at him if you want it. How does he feel about this though? You've not talked to him have you? Or have you talked and he doesn't feel that way about you? Is that it Honey? He doesn't love you?"

"No Mom. I haven't told him and we haven't talked. I didn't want to do anything that would hurt you or him so I decided I needed to leave."

That afternoon Hope called Frances and Edwina and asked them to meet her at Doris's old house. Frances was the executor of the estate so they had access whenever she wanted to enter the building. When they were all gathered around with their coffee and cookies Hope said, "Girls we have a problem. There's no easy way to say this so I'll just blurt it out. Barbara is in love with Jerrod and unless I miss my guess he is in love with her. We haven't been together as much lately as we had before and he has been more withdrawn than he used to be. I think he's feeling guilty about Barbara."

Frances looked at Edwina and smiled. She raised her eyebrows and turned back to Hope. "You too," she said. "I thought it was me. He has been withdrawn and we haven't done much loving for several weeks either. What are we going to do about it?"

Edwina looked guilty and said, "I quit coming on to him almost two months ago. He just didn't seem interested and the last time or two we just went through the motions I guess is the way to say it. I've been thinking about going back to the dances again but I didn't want to hurt his feelings."

The three women talked for some time longer then they went to Hope's house. Barbara was in her bedroom packing when the three friends found her. "Barbara what are you doing," Hope asked. "I thought you promised to stay a while longer while we tried to work things out."

"It's no use Mom. I just can't. I have to go. I'm sorry."

Hope looked at her friends and took Barbara's hand. She pulled her daughter into the living room and pushed her into a chair. The three older women took seats where they could see Barbara and Hope began talking. "Barbara we all three knew our time with Jerrod would have to end sometime. We have felt like there was something wrong now for several weeks. I'm ashamed to say I suspected you and Jerrod were in love but I never had the courage to ask either of you. I have watched the two of you ever since the night you found him in Doris's bed and I knew. I just couldn't say anything.

"Barbara Honey we're all more than willing to quit seeing Jerrod if you and he want to be together. Frances and Edwina haven't been with him now for a couple of months and last night was the first time we did anything like that in over a month. I don't think he would have done it then but I pushed it I needed it so badly."

Barbara looked at her mother and the tears rolled silently down her cheeks. "Mom you deserve to be happy too. I can't let you do it. I have to go."

"Shoot child. I'm happy and I can be happy without Jerrod. Honey I don't love the boy that way. There was never any chance we would be a permanent couple or get married. We were just using each other. If there is any chance in the world that he and you could fall in love ... NO, I already know you have fallen in love with each other. If there is any chance in the world that the two of you would marry there is no way I will keep seeing him like that. Frances and Edwina agree with me.

We've decided to only see Jerrod as a group from now on. The three of us are going to start attending the dances again and see if we can find a man of our own more nearly our ages. You on the other hand are going to try to keep seeing Jerrod until you find out if he is really the one you hope he is."

Hope looked over at Barbara and continued, "I'm afraid you have your work cut out for you though Honey. Our Jerrod has a lot of hurt and mistrust bottled up inside him. He has had three women he was very serious about that have dumped him in his life. We all watched him for several months after he moved home and he has never had a relationship with any woman younger than I am. He thinks he attracts the wrong type of woman and that young women in general are just selfish cheating sluts. I suppose in a way what we have been doing with him just reinforces that belief. You have a little hope because of the way he has met you and because you have the three of us in your corner. It's not going to be easy though.

"Now, are you going to woman up, put your big girl panties on and try to win your man or are you going to run off like a spoiled brat?"

Barbara smiled through her tears and said, "I want to try and catch me a good man this time Momma." She smiled and continued, "I think I might have better luck though if I left the big girl panties off though don't you?"

The four women laughed and Edwina said, "You know that might be a pretty good idea at that Barb. Doris told me the first night she and Jerrod were intimate she wore a short skirt and no panties to help him put her sink into the new counter top. That's why she always said she had him fix her plumbing to get her. She said even as old and ugly as her cooter was he was hard in no time from staring at it."

The four women made plans that afternoon and put them into play beginning the next day. From then on the only one of the four Jerrod was alone with was Barbara. Sometimes it was only Barbara and Hope with him at their house but there were always at least two of them with him. The first Friday evening after the older ladies agreed to give Jerrod up he arrived at Hope's house for their normal date.

When Jerrod arrived Hope and Barbara were sitting in the living room dressed for the night. Once again Barbara let him into the house. His face and eyes lit up when he saw her. She led him to a chair and he could not keep his eyes off her during the walk and after he was seated. Hope looked at the two and smiled. She put a sorrowful expression on her face and said, "Jerrod I'm afraid I can't go with you and Barbara tonight. I wasn't thinking and I promised the girls I would go to the dance with them. You know it's only for age 50 and over so you two can't get in. Would you mind terribly if just the two of you went out for supper tonight?"

Jerrod looked over at Barbara. She looked, well he didn't know how she looked other than wonderful. He didn't even look at Hope when he said, "I'm sorry Hope but no, I wouldn't mind taking Barbara at all. That is if she wants to go alone with me." Barbara's face broke out in an incandescent smile.

Hope smiled almost a big and said, "Great. Why don't you two kids go on then? I'll drive over to Francine's house and we'll leave from there."

That evening was the best one Jerrod or Barbara could remember having for several years. They spent the entire time staring into each other's eyes. They took every opportunity to touch the other. They danced until the club closed at 0200. Normally when Hope was with him they left about 2300 or 2330.

When they arrived back at Hope's house Jerrod followed Barbara in as normal. This time though he stood there unsure of what to do. Normally when they got back from dining and dancing the three of them walked straight toward the hallway and bedrooms. He usually spent the night with Hope and Barbara of course was alone in her room. This time both he and Barbara were nervous with each other. Finally she smiled and said, "Would you come sit with me for a while please Jerrod?"

Jerrod sighed and seemed to perk up. They went into the living room and both sat on the couch. Jerrod was surprised when Barbara sat beside him. She took off her shoes and put her feet on the coffee table then leaned back in the couch. "That was a lot of fun Jerrod. Thank you for taking me. I had more fun tonight than I have had in several months."

"Yeah, I did too. Sure seemed strange without your mother though. I hope she's doing all right."

Barbara felt a little shot of sorrow dart through her heart. She told herself to push the fear out and seize the moment. She sat up slightly and placed a gentle kiss on his cheek. When Jerrod turned slightly to her she gave him another on the lips. He turned his head back to the front and laid it back on the couch.

"I'm sure tired tonight," Jerrod said. "I don't think you let me sit out but one or two dances."

"I'm sorry Jerrod. I didn't mean to work you too hard. I was just having so much fun I almost couldn't stop. Forgive me?"

The two friends sat and visited several minutes longer. Both were yawning and so very tired. Jerrod didn't know what to do. He didn't feel right just going into Hope's room and going to bed and he for sure didn't want to go sleep with Barbara—well, actually, he admitted to himself, he would like to sleep with her but she hadn't offered and he didn't think it would be right for him to do that also. Finally Jerrod stood and said, "I guess I'd better go home Barb. It's getting real late and we need to get to sleep."

Barbara almost cried. She had been giving what she thought were subtle hints for Jerrod to take her to bed and he had either ignored them or totally missed them. Or worse, he didn't want to take her to bed. She thought about just asking him to come to bed with her but just couldn't make herself do that. Finally she said, "Do you have to Jerrod? You know you can stay here."

"Yeah, I better. It just don't feel right just climbing into your mother's bed without her. What if she brings someone else home or something? That would be really awkward." He looked dejected and continued, "I guess I just better get along home. See ya."

Over the course of the next several weeks the ladies kept pushing Barbara and Jerrod together. They tried to not make it look like they were doing that but it was pretty obvious to him that something was up. When they all cut him off sexually and began going back to the Senior Center dances he thought he got the hint. They had decided he was too young for them and were trying to get rid of him. He quit going to their homes and started staying home with his mother all the time after work. He took up drinking more. He never got really drunk but he would have three or four beers almost every night after work. He convinced himself there was something about him that women just did not want on a long term basis. He wondered over and over what was wrong with him.

Kelly had not been in on the plans to get him with Barbara. All she knew was what she could see. Jerrod was all at once alone and staying home. He had been dumped by his "Lady Friends". To her surprise she became angry at the ladies. She hated to see her son sad and felt like they had just used him for their satisfaction until they got tired of him then threw him away.

One day while Jerrod was working Kelly decided to give those bitches a piece of her mind. Since he spent the majority of his time with Hope she decided to start there. Kelly arrived at Hope's house about ten in the morning and rang the bell. Barbara opened the door and saw Kelly there. "Oh, Mrs. Patrick. Come in please. It's a surprise to see you. Please have a seat. What can I do for you?"

"Actually dear I'm here to see your mother. I need to talk to her as soon as I can please."

"Oh, no. Is Jerrod OK. He didn't get hurt did he?"

Kelly looked at Barbara in surprise then decided her worry was because Jerrod was her mother's boyfriend and she didn't want her mother to be hurt. "No dear Jerrod isn't injured. At least he isn't injured physically. I'm not too sure about his heart or mentally though."

About that time Hope came into the room. Kelly greeted her frostily and both Hope and Barbara were surprised. The few times in the past when the three met Kelly was very pleasant to talk with. When Kelly asked to speak to Hope privately Hope said, "I would really rather have Barbara here too Mrs. Patrick. I suspect this is about Jerrod and I think she should be here to hear this too."

"OK if that's what you want. I really wanted to spare you some embarrassment but I'm willing to air the dirty linen in front of your daughter if I have to. You know I never approved of what you and Jerrod were doing but he convinced me it wasn't hurting anyone and to let things be. Well I did that but I just can't be quiet any longer. He has been moping around the house now for three weeks after you three refused to keep seeing him. I know he is too young for you and you are probably either with or are looking for men more nearly your age. I told him when all this started he needed to find someone nearer his own age. I am badly upset though at the way you handled the breakup."

Barbara sat looking sad. She was biting her lips. Hope looked at her and at Jerrod's mother. Finally she said, "I think I may have messed up Mrs. Patrick. Barbara would you please excuse Mrs. Patrick and I so we may talk privately? Mrs. Patrick would you please join me in the kitchen so we can discuss this in more detail? I suppose we do have some private things to talk about after all."

Hope explained everything about her and Jerrod's relationship. She also told what little she knew about the other three ladies and their relationships to Jerrod. Then she said, "I am beginning to think we handled the situation wrong. I was never too proud of what I was doing. I don't have anything against two people who care for each other having sex out of wedlock if they aren't in a relationship with someone else. From the first I worried about the age difference between Jerrod and myself. I also worried about our feelings for each other. I didn't love him and knew I never would. I was afraid he might fall for me and I didn't want that. I was so desperate to feel compassion and tenderness from a man I let my physical desire overrule those thoughts though. I knew neither of us was interested in the other for a spouse when our affair started. I convinced myself we could carry on as Friends with Benefits until he or I found someone who we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with. Unfortunately our relationship tended to isolate us from potential life partners.

After Doris died I think we all began to rethink our relationship with Jerrod. At least that was what I suspected. Several weeks ago Barbara threatened to move out even though she still hasn't found work. I was devastated." Hope blushed then continued, "I had just had a rather good night with Jerrod and I'm afraid I was noisier than I should have been. In any event Barbara told me she just couldn't take hearing me and Jerrod any longer and she had to leave.

All at once what I had been seeing over the past weeks hit me like a freight train. Jerrod had been pulling away from me sexually. When I asked Frances and Edwina about it they said it had been several weeks since they had been intimate with him too. All three of us had to initiate the sex with Jerrod for most of our relationship with him. These last few months he had refused all of us a few times.

One day it finally hit me in the face. I had been watching Barbara and Jerrod when they were with each other. They were so attentive to the other and they looked so happy when they were together. All at once the situation hit me like a ton of bricks. My daughter and your son were in love. The girls and I were keeping them apart and I didn't like that. I began throwing them together as much as I could. The first Friday after I discovered the secret I sent them out dining and dancing by themselves. I have done that the majority of the time ever since. The only one of the four of us Jerrod has been alone with since then is Barbara. Then about three weeks ago he stopped coming around. We have called him several times and he is barely civil to us. Barbara is heartbroken. She is angry at herself for breaking me and Jerrod up and sad because he won't notice her as a woman.

We are at our wits end now about what to do to move things on. Kelly I know you have no reason to like me but please, for Jerrod if not for Barbara or myself, can you help us out with this problem?"

Kelly looked at Hope for a moment. Finally she said, "How do I know what you're saying is right? Do you have any proof he loves Barbara or she loves him?"

"No proof but if we can get them together I bet you can see it with your own eyes. What is Jerrod doing today?"

"Same as any day lately. He works then he comes into the house and has some beer, eats and goes to bed. Why?"

Could Barbara and I come over this evening to see you? I think you will see what I mean if we can. Then, if you have any idea how to help with this mess we're in I would be forever grateful."

Kelly reluctantly agreed to Hope's request. Hope and Barbara arrived about eight p.m. that evening. When Barbara saw where they were going—her mother had insisted she go with her to get some ice cream—she almost refused to get out of the car. Jerrod was slumped in his chair watching an old black and white movie on cable. He was on his second scotch of the evening. He had three beers just after getting off work as usual so he was feeling no pain already. Barbara and Hope came into the house via the back door. The three ladies sat in the kitchen visiting. Kelly sat where she could see the door into the room from the Den. Barbara was sitting between the door and the refrigerator.

The women were beginning to think Jerrod was never going to come to the kitchen for another drink when he finally walked through the door. He stopped when he saw the women. His eyes were riveted on Barbara. His face lit up and so did Barbara's when they saw each other.

Jerrod stood for a moment then said, "Hello Hope, Barbara. What are you doing here?"

Without thinking Barbara stood and walked up in front of Jerrod. She stood and looked him in the eye. Her hand reached out and she gently touched his forearm. "We were worried about you Jerrod. No one has seen you for three weeks. We asked your mother if we could come and visit for a while so here we are."

"Yeah, well I'm fine," Jerrod said then he walked back to the refrigerator and picked up another beer. When he walked away Barbara sort of wilted. Kelly was shocked at the almost instantaneous changes in the two young people's expression when they first saw each other then in the change in Barbara when Jerrod dismissed her so cavalierly.

After Jerrod returned to his movie Kelly turned to Hope and said, "That was pretty obvious wasn't it; even a blind person could see what was going on there. I'm still not sure you three handled it the right way but I do want to thank you for trying."

Kelly turned to Barbara and said, "Honey would you do me a favor please? Would you go into the Den and keep Jerrod company for a few minutes? I want to talk to your mother about this mess if you don't mind."

Barbara smiled and rose without a word. She walked into the Den and took a seat next to Jerrod on the couch. He had his feet on the coffee table like he did at Hope's house. Barbara adopted the same arrangement.

Kelly and Hope talked for about an hour. Hope decided it was time to leave. The two mothers walked to the door into the Den and stopped in surprise. Jerrod and Barbara were both asleep. Barbara had her head laying on Jerrod's chest and her hand resting on his stomach. They both looked content.

Kelly looked over at Hope and said, "Well, I guess that really proves it doesn't it? Now how are we going to convince that boy to get his head outta his ass and do something about it?"

One thing the women did was to reintroduce Jerrod into their lives. They all loved the young man as a grandson and they all missed his visits so this was easy for them. It was somewhat more difficult to get Jerrod to begin visiting them however. Finally all the women ambushed him one evening after he quit work. They had planned on using fake tears to get him to return to visiting them but that proved unnecessary. They all became emotional when they confronted him about his stopping his visits.

Barbara was, perhaps, the worst of the lot. She walked up to Jerrod and wrapped her arms around him. She laid her head on his chest and cried. Through her tears she said, "Jerrod when I first saw you I never would have thought I would want to see you again. I grew to love our talks when you were coming to our house and when we met at someone else's home. I especially loved the times we went out together. Jerrod I miss you as much or more than the other ladies do. Please, please don't cut us out of your life."

Jerrod relented and began visiting the women once more. He never spent the night with any of them again but he did stay late visiting. Many times all of the friends got together. To his surprise his mother even visited with them sometimes. Many of the times his mother attended the party he found Barbara and himself shunted to the side to visit with each other. The other women seemed to gather in a circle and talk about sewing or quilting or other things they were more interested in.

One evening after they had been sitting together for a few minutes Jerrod and Barbara were talking about movies playing and coming in the near future. They found they both wanted to see the same one. Barbara looked at Jerrod and said, "If we hurry we can make the late show tonight. Why don't we go see the show and let these guys talk about their sewing?"

"Heck, why not? Come on." Neither of the young people saw the smiles and happy looks on the older women's faces when they announced their intentions and took off. It would have embarrassed both the young people if they could have heard the conversation after they left too.

Jerrod rapidly regained much of his lost happiness after his friends welcomed him back into their lives somewhat. He still couldn't seem to get off the stick as far as Barbara was concerned. Finally one day Barbara began going to his shop in desperation. The first few times she went she just visited and sat to watch him work. They had lunch together and enjoyed each other's company.

When visiting didn't work she began watching what he did and began trying to help him. Finally one day during lunch break Jerrod looked at Barbara with a serious expression and said, "Barbara what are you doing here? You have been spending almost as much time here as I do."

"I miss you Jerrod and I like to be with you. Mom is always out with her friends and I get lonesome. I don't enjoy talking about the same things Mom and her friends do so I don't go with her. I still haven't found a job and I really like being with you so I decided to just hang out here for a while. You don't mind do you? I try to help and to stay out of your way. Besides, I sortta like building cabinets. You do amazing and beautiful work here. I like being part of building things like that."

Barbara looked apprehensive and continued, "If you don't want me here I guess I can go away. Is that it? Do you want me to leave?" Barbara looked almost ready to bolt out the door when she said that.

"No Barbie. I enjoy your company too. I guess I just wanted to know what was in your mind. I'm sorry about the job. There isn't much here that's for sure. I do appreciate the help. I really have more business than Gail and I can keep up with easily. When I took over the shop for Mom I didn't think I would be this busy. In fact I didn't want to be this busy. I can use the help that's for sure. The two friends finished their lunches and returned to the shop. For the next week Jerrod spent more time teaching Barbara how to do some of the lighter, simpler work. To his surprise she took to it rapidly and did a great job after a few minor mistakes while she was learning.

Jerrod normally paid Gail every two weeks. On the normal Friday payday the three friends were sitting in the break area sucking down some Dos Equis Lager and unwinding from the day and week. After their ritual single beer Gail visited a few more minutes and said, "Well you two I better hit the road. Perry wants to go out and eat tonight and I have to pretty myself up before we go."

Just before she left the building Gail turned to Jerrod and asked, "Do I need to come in tomorrow or are we caught up enough we don't have to work?"

"Naw. Take the day off. I may come out for a few minutes and sand down the cabinets we finished today but I don't think we need to build any tomorrow. Enjoy your weekend."

Jerrod and Barbara sat in companionable silence for a few minutes. Jerrod was staring at Barbara almost constantly. Finally she couldn't take it any longer and said, "What are you staring at me for Jerrod? Is something wrong?"

Jerrod quickly changed the direction of his eyesight for a moment then sheepishly said, "No Barb. Nothin' wrong at all. You just seem so much happier than you were before. You almost glow and I've had more fun working since you got that way than I have had in months. You know you're a very pretty woman and I was wondering what you want to stick yourself in a place like this for. You could land a nice fella and gave a great job if you went back to the city. Using a degree in accounting to help me build cabinets just doesn't make a lot of sense."

"You idiot. If I wanted to stay in the city and find one of those city assholes I would have done it. I had one of those and dated several more. We're like mixing oil and water. Besides, you complaining about me using my degree or not is like the pot calling the kettle black isn't it? Hell, you have a degree in Mechanical Engineering and you're building cabinets. Why aren't you working in the city in a high paying job with a rich bitch girlfriend?"

"Touché Barb. Guess we're just two of a kind aren't we. I'll never get rich here unless I expand like crazy but I don't want to do that. I'm happy just getting by with my little profit from selling locally and to some of the smaller builders in Centerton. I put a little away every month and that's fine with me."

Jerrod reached into his pocket and pulled the sole remaining envelope it contained from it. He leaned over and tossed it onto Barbara's lap. "Here, this is for you Barb. Do you want to go to town for a bite to eat with me either tonight or tomorrow night or both?"

Barbara looked at the envelope. She began opening it and at the same time said, "I'm really too tired to go to Centerton tonight. Can we just eat something here or at Mom's tonight and go out tomorrow night?"

"That's fine with me. I'm pretty tired too. Why don't we just go over to the café for a burger tonight? Mom's running around again tonight. I think she is going to the dance with the ladies and I don't even feel like making a sandwich."

"JERROD! What's this check for? Why are you giving me $196.00?"

"That's your pay check Barb. You work here. I decided last week after we talked that since you were helping it was only fair I paid you. I only gave you minimum wage because you were doing mostly gofer work but I kept track of your time and that's your first six day's pay. You said you were looking for work and wanted to stay here in town so now you can. After you get more skilled I will raise your salary."

"No. I don't want it. I'm not doing this because I wanted you to pay me. I'm doing it because I like to be around you and its fun. Here." Barbara held the check out to Jerrod.

"No. You earned it and I won't take it back. I don't want an argument over it."

Barbara looked at Jerrod then back at her check. Finally a tear ran down her cheek and she sniffed it back before she said, "Thank you Jerrod. Can you afford this though? I don't want it if it'll cause you trouble. I didn't do this for the money."

Sunday Kelly invited all Jerrod's friends to their home for lunch. Jerrod and Barbara spent almost the whole time together. They did visit with the ladies but even when they did that they were close beside each other. Several times Jerrod caught one or another of the ladies watching them and smiling. It made him nervous.

Jerrod and Barbara began eating a lot of their evening meals together after that. Sometimes she ate with him and his mother, sometimes they went to the café or to her home. Every weekend they went to a nicer place for supper then usually went dancing or to a show.

Jerrod was always a gentleman. Barbara was getting upset at him for it. She wanted to move on and become an official couple. She was sure she was in love with Jerrod. She had let her mother and Kelly talk her out of pushing the issue. They had explained Jerrod's past lack of success with women who had told him they loved him then dumped on him. She was hurt for him and wanted to slap the women but at the same time she was glad because they left him for her. At least if she could get him to commit he was left for her.

One Thursday afternoon Jerrod came into the shop grinning like an Opossum Eating Shit. He was waving a handful of papers at her and Gail. "We got the Shaw Construction Contract for cabinets, woodwork and built in bookcases in that new development they are starting. They are going to build at least 20 houses. We're going to have to work a lot of Saturdays if you all don't mind. I may even have to find more help. I almost wish we hadn't got the job. We're going to be a lot busier than I really wanted to be."

Gail grinned and yelled, "Great!" Barbara gave a squeal and jumped into Jerrod's arms. She wrapped her legs around his waist and gave him a big kiss. "That's fantastic Honey," she said. Before she let her legs loose and slid back onto the floor she gave him one more kiss. She stood with her arms around him and looked into his eyes. Not much work got done the rest of the afternoon.

That Friday Perry, Gail, Jerrod and Barbara went to town for a nice meal in celebration. They had some wine with the meal then when they got back to Barbara's house she, Jerrod and her mother had another two bottles. Hope drifted off to bed and left Jerrod and Barbara alone. They were so excited they kept kissing and fondling each other. Barbara stood and Jerrod stared lustfully at her bared breasts. She smiled and held out her hand.

When Jerrod took her hand she helped him stand and led him into her bedroom. That night Hope got to listen to her daughter moan and beg and scream. Four times she cried out in ecstatic orgasms while Jerrod pounded away at her slippery cunt.

The last time about two a.m. Jerrod collapsed to the side and dropped off into exhausted sleep. He woke alone in bed about ten a.m. the next morning. He pulled on his clothes and stumbled into the kitchen where he found Hope and Barbara sitting at the table drinking their morning coffee. Both were in robes. He stood looking at them in embarrassment. Barbara smiled and stood to get his coffee. As she stood her robe came unfastened. Her beautiful breasts swung free. Jerrod and Hope saw the love bites she proudly displayed before she grabbed her robe and pulled it closed once more.

Jerrod looked at Hope and said, "I'm sorry. I guess we had too much to drink last night. It won't happen again."

Hope looked surprised and Barbara turned so fast she spilled some of Jerrod's coffee. Her face had a broken up expression. "What are you talking about Jerrod? You have NOTHING to be sorry about. I loved it. My GOD, that was the best sex of my life. Now I know why Mom screamed so much when you and she were, uh. No, I'm not going there. You damn well better believe it will happen again. Over and over again if I have anything to say about it. Damn it Jerrod don't you understand? I LOVE YOU. I'm not like those bitches who shit on you. If you won't marry me fine. I'll live with you. If you won't let me live with you I'll just be your fuck toy but I want you in my life. I want you now and I want you when I'm on my death bed. So, YES, it WILL happen again unless you run away."

Hope was sitting at the table smiling at Jerrod. Jerrod stood looking like a deer caught in headlights. He didn't know what to say or where to run or even if he should run. He slowly, silently sat at the table and took a sip of his coffee. His mind was spinning and he wasn't sure what to do. He looked over at a grim Barbara and a happily smiling Hope.

"I don't know what to say here. I do know there's something wrong with me. You don't want to be my girlfriend and you especially don't want to be my wife. Every woman who has got to know me that well has run off in fear. I don't know what is wrong with me or I would try to fix it but I just am not husband material."

"BULLSHIT! The only thing wrong with you Jerrod is you make crap lousy choices in women friends. Well I've fixed that for you. I've chosen you first. You can be with me now because I CHOSE. I know we're right for each other. Mom and your Mom and all our friends know it too. Damn it I love you and I know you love me too. You've even told me so several times when we were kissing and last night—MY GOD, after last night I know you love me. NO ONE could make love to a person like that and not love them.

"Yeah, I do love you Barbara but I love your mom and Frances and Edwina and my mother too. I love a lot of people."

"Yes, I'm sure you do and I know they love you too but not like I do and you don't love them like you love me. Be honest here. Don't you think we are better together than any of them were with you? I bet we're better together than any of your old girlfriends were with you too. I'm not just talking about sex here either although that was out of the world good. I've seen how you look at me. You never looked at any of the other girls like that. I KNOW you love me. Why don't you admit it to yourself?"

Jerrod sat staring at Barbara. He sighed and shook his head. "I don't know. I need to think about this." He sat and finished three more cups of coffee then ate the breakfast placed before him. "I need to go. Thanks for breakfast. See ya Monday."

Barbara rushed after him and grabbed him. She slipped her arms around him and gave him a deep kiss. Without thinking he wrapped his arms around her and returned the kiss with fervor. They were moaning and grinding their bodies against each other when the kiss broke. Barbara stepped back and said, "Whew. Now that was a kiss. Now tell me you don't care. You know you do."

All the rest of the weekend Jerrod thought not only about what he and Barbara had done but what she especially had said. He examined his feelings about her. DID he love her? Yes, to his surprise he thought he did. Should he try another relationship? He didn't know. She wasn't like any other woman he had gotten serious with. They worked together well and played together even better. She didn't use him for her own wants like the others did and had never asked him for anything that he could remember. She was totally different from other women he had known. Instead of asking him to do her work she was always asking what she could do for him. He needed to think more about this for sure.

Monday morning Barbara arrived just as Jerrod was unlocking the shop door. She bounced out of her car and wrapped herself around him. She gave him a soul searing kiss. They were still kissing and grinding against each other when Gail drove up. She jumped from her old truck and grinned then said, "Well, it's about time! I was beginning to think you were brain dead Jerrod. When's the wedding?"

Jerrod looked shocked and Barbara blushed. She licked her lips and said, "You're jumping the gun Gail. He hasn't asked me yet and I haven't given up and set the date without him. We finally had the talk Saturday morning. I think he's still in shock."

Once again Jerrod began spending a lot of nights away from home. This time at least, his mother wasn't so upset. She always had a kind word to say to Barbara. In fact several weekends she and Barbara went shopping together. Sometimes they took Hope with them.

Finally Doris's estate was settled. To his surprise she had willed her little house to Jerrod. By the time she had passed away Jerrod had made it into a show place. She said it was as pretty as it had been when her husband had been alive.

At noon on a Sunday almost three months after Jerrod and Barbara began spending so much time together Jerrod's mother leaned back from the lunch table and asked, "Jerrod what are you going to do about Barbara?"

Jerrod looked up at her in shock. "What do you mean? Is there something wrong with Barbara?"

Mrs. Patrick sighed and gave Jerrod a half angry look. "Damn it Son. You know full well what I mean. You know that woman loves you to death and I know you love her. She deserves better than what you're giving her. The way you treat her sometimes is a disgrace. I'm almost ashamed to admit you're my son when you treat her like you usually do."

"What do you mean Mom? I treat her like I do all the other friends I have. I've never once treated her badly and you know it."

"Bullshit. You work her to death in the shop then take her home and keep her up half the night taking care of your sexual needs and what does she get out of it all? You don't treat her any better than the hired help."

Jerrod sat in surprise for a moment. He felt his anger rising and his face flushing. He barely held onto his temper when he replied, "I pay her a good salary for her work in the shop and you know it. I have never forced her to do anything and you know that too. What we do in our free time is fine with each of us. We are good friends as well as work colleagues. I don't see how you can sit there and tell me I'm mistreating her in any way."

"Jerrod sometimes I just don't understand you. I know you've been hurt by a lot of women in your life but you have to realize not all women are like those who hurt you. You know as well as I do that Barbara is not like those other women and it's time you admitted it to yourself and got your act together. That woman won't wait on you forever and you know that too."

Kelly rose from the table and began cleaning up after the meal. Jerrod rose without a word and helped her. After she had washed her hands she picked up her purse and said, "I'm going over to visit Hope and Barbara. I'll be home later."

One night about six weeks after Doris's house was transferred into his name Kelly sat with Jerrod and Barbara after work. She looked over at the two kids and said, "Jerrod I want to make a suggestion to you. I know you have been trying to decide what to do with Doris's old house. I understand why you hesitate to move into it since your business is here. It makes more sense for you to keep living here. I really don't need a lot of space and I have no reason to continue living out here with you. All my friends are in town and I would like to be closer to them. This house and the acreage will be yours anyway when I die. I want to move to Doris's old house and let you and Barbara have this place. We will put all our names on both the deeds to make it legal. You will need this big house when the kids start coming and I would just as soon move now as later."

"What? What kids? Jerrod looked over at Barbara and she was blushing. His mother was smiling.

Barbara glared at Kelly then licked her lips and said, "Uh, I had been trying to find a way to tell you Jerrod. When we first started having sex I'm afraid I uh. I guess I hadn't been taking the pill long enough and I sort of ended up pregnant. You're going to be a Daddy in about six months now."

Jerrod sat and stared at his grinning mother and at the frightened Barbara. Shit. A kid? All at once he felt a tug. He felt as if ... He didn't really know what he felt except he wanted to hold Barbara and make love to her. He stood and grabbed her from her seat. He kissed her and felt her legs come up and wrap around his waist. They kissed more. Finally through a haze he heard his mother say, "I guess we'll talk about this later. I thought I would begin moving tomorrow though. You kids have fun tonight."

After a few seconds or a few days, Jerrod didn't know for sure, he led Barbara into the house. They walked straight to the bathroom and undressed. For the first time they were naked together in his mother's home. They showered together and made sure every interesting part on the other was squeaky clean. Jerrod bent Barbara over and slid his cock into her slick pussy. There was nothing gentle about this coupling. They slammed together like rutting animals. It was over almost before it started.

After they cleaned their love making off each other they dried each other and Jerrod led Barbara to his bedroom. He handed her some old sweats of his to put on while he dressed in his good clothes. "Here, wear these until we get to your house then change into nice clothes. We have some celebrating to do tonight and we need to find you an engagement ring."

Barbara's mouth dropped open and she began to cry. "Are you sure Honey? You don't have to marry me. I told you I would be your woman however you wanted me. Are you sure you want to marry me?"

"Yes. For the first time in my life I'm sure I want to marry a woman. I want to marry you as soon as possible. I want to have children with you and work with you here in Steelville making cabinets and furniture. If you can be happy getting by on what we make here so can I. We can expand the business a little I think and we'll get by pretty darn well.

You were right you know. I DO LOVE YOU. I had a long talk with my mother the other day and she made me realize I loved you and I was treating you poorly. I have been trying to work up the nerve to tell you ever since then."

"Hush. You've already told me many times. I heard the words a time or two but your actions told me over and over. Your looks told me, your touches told me. I love you too my darling."

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