Jacob's Ladder

by D.T. Iverson

Copyright© 2017 by D.T. Iverson

Romantic Sex Story: Jacob lives in his head. So does Kate. They are both shy and self-conscious. But, they have each other. Then Kate goes off to college and Jacob is alone. The next forty years features times of joy and pain. But Jacob keeps stubbornly marching. On his journey, he meets an exceptional person who turns him into the man he is today. But his boyhood love is never far from his thoughts. So, do they get back together again and if so how? Read on and find out.

Caution: This Romantic Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Consensual   .

It’s a fact. The oldest Lutheran Church in the Western hemisphere is located in the Virgin Islands. Lutherans, you say? I can understand Catholics, or even Church-of-England; but Lutherans? Lutherans belong in Wisconsin, not the Lesser Antilles!

The Danes settled the place in 1666, hence, the Lutherans. So, the architecture is more Hamlet, than Harry S. Truman. Still, the AVI’s are as American as apple pie, at least from a paperwork standpoint. And, that’s why I was docked at the Crown Bay Marina.

I had sailed a Beneteau 58 down the inter-costal and across the Leewards, all the way from Washington, DC. The boat was expensive. But I could afford it. The best part was I could always up anchor and move, if the neighbors annoyed me.

The Beneteau is an excellent craft, comfortable, beautifully appointed and easy to handle; if you know your way around a cruiser. Solo-sailing wasn’t a challenge for me. My old man put me on a sunfish at age six; which was over a half-century ago.

My deck hand’s name is Buster. His mom must have had one hell of night; Labradors, Pit-Pulls and American Bulldogs, all lining up to take their turn. Buster’s big, brown, smelly and he slobbers. But, he’s my staunchest friend; utterly loyal, devoted and the best side-kick a guy could ever ask for.

We talk in the dark-hours. I’ll sit with three fingers of cheap scotch in an old jelly glass and share my thoughts. He’ll cock his head back and forth, as if to say, “Yeah, I get it boss. Life ain’t easy.” He’s a former street dog; he knows these things.

I’d changed a lot since my personal day of reckoning. The slightly overweight and pasty me, was now a white-haired hunk of brown rawhide. Nobody in my old life would recognize me now. I was just a solitary old boat-bum, with his dog.

It’s hot in the Leewards and I was sweating gallons. I needed a beer, so I pulled on a t-shirt and strolled down the dock to Tickles. That place has all the charm of a shopping-mall TGI-Friday’s, but it has the advantage of being less than 100-yards from my slip.

They let Buster sit in the walkway, just off the property line. He’d lie there panting and drooling, love and trust in his eyes, while I tossed him scraps. That kind of thing would get a tourist kicked out. But I was a regular. So, the owners turned a blind eye.

I ordered a beer from the twenty-something hottie, waiting on the outdoor customers. It was one of those days when the ever-present anguish and world-weariness got the best of me. My mind wandered back to the beginning.

GENESIS

Every love story has a beginning. Mine began when I was eight.

Kate lived down the block and we played together. We were always a little “different.” We’d spend our time inside, reading, talking and drawing while the rest of the kids were running around outside. The others were aggressive, constantly in motion. They shouted-over each other. Kate was as quiet and shy as I was. It would be creepy to use the word “attraction.” More correctly, we preferred being alone together.

We were the same age and lived on the same block. Thus, we were always in the same class. Our last names were close, alphabetically; so, most years we sat next to each other. You would think that our inseparability would wear thin, but the opposite happened. We were only happy with each other. That wasn’t a conscious decision. It was innate, something that was just THERE. We never questioned the feeling.

Then puberty hit. We helped each other through THAT ultra-confusing time. In two years; I went from being geeky and scrawny, to being geeky, but the biggest kid in the class. Kate went from being a tiny little nerd-girl, to a tiny little nerd-girl with huge, perfect tits. Meanwhile, her hips and butt rounded into womanly curves. She was mortified by the changes.

Kate had always been the classic girl-next-door; big hazel eyes and a cute oval face, a pointed chin and perfectly proportioned features framed by long naturally wavy chestnut hair. Now she looked like the twenty-four-year-old girl next door. That difference posed problems.

That was about the time they started holding dances. We were so self-conscious that we’d only dance with each other. Our bond was more intellectual than physical, but still, the pains of adolescence forced us to accept our transformation. I would feel her hard, little body and big soft boobs moving on my chest. She must have felt my giant boner poking her leg. It made us painfully aware that things were different. It was agonizing.

We began to explore those differences in innocent ways. One Saturday afternoon we were playing a multiplayer online game. We had just dispatched a particularly troublesome Orc and Kate threw her arms around me in celebration. Our faces were inches apart. She looked at me. I looked at her, and we kissed.

We kissed all the time growing up, but it was innocent stuff. This time, there was no mistaking the passion. It was an adult kiss. We mashed our lips together and held it for a count of ten. Then we broke apart, startled, panting like bloodhounds on a Mississippi porch.

I said, “What was that?” Kate looked as confused as I was.

She said, “Did you mean it?”

I nodded, “Did you?”

She said, “I’ve never meant anything more in my life.”

So, we graduated from being childhood pals. The intimacy of swapping tongues only added to our union. But, we were still so repressed that we were stranded at first base. We even had guilt pangs about going THAT far.

We entered high school, that fall. Kate was the sensation of the freshman class. It was a Catholic school, so we had to wear uniforms. The short, pleated skirt made it impossible for her to disguise her lithe, long-waisted body with its round hips and beautiful legs. The simple blue cardigan over her white blouse showcased the swell of her big perfect tits. Even I was surprised at how developed she had become.

Every player in the school wanted to put Kate in his trophy case. A more social girl would have reveled in the attention. But, it was excruciating for her. She may have looked like a Victoria’s Secret Angel. But, she was a shy, sweet, gentle soul without any social pretensions whatsoever. Plus, we were both agonizingly introverted.

It was the same with me. I was bigger than most of the guys and not bad looking. But as far as I was concerned, Kate was my only friend. I didn’t have to do stupid things to get peer approval; I was the guy with Kate. I didn’t need to go pussy hunting; I had already bagged the prize. The other girls could never compete with Kate. None of the boys wanted to get on the bad side of a fellow as big as me. In that respect, her beauty and my size worked in our favor. All I cared about was Kate. All she cared about was me, so the equation balanced. Eventually, everybody backed off and left us alone.

It all seems so improbable now. But, it never crossed our minds that we WOULDN’T be together, forever. Nobody meets their soul-mate, at age eight, and smoking-hot girls, who just happen to be totally devoted to you, only exist in fairy tales. Nonetheless, both our families were solid, and stable. We had internalized their humble and unassuming values, and all we wanted was to live like they did.

We were both college-bound and, of course, we wanted to go to the same school. Kate was going to study medicine and I wanted an MBA. The best place to find both degrees was at the big university up-state.

The only frontier yet to be negotiated, was the consummation of our love. As usual, we were hesitant to cross that line. You would think that a girl with a hot body would want to have it touched. I knew that there were infinite wells of passion down there, but we were both so repressed that we never came close to tapping into it.

It took the Fourth of July and impending college to make the breakthrough. We had both turned eighteen, and I was painfully aware that we would soon be leaving for school, but I wanted reassurance. I grabbed a big blanket and headed for Kate’s house.

Our city has a remarkable Fourth of July fireworks show. Most of the people are downtown, or out on the lake in boats. But, the rockets burst in front of the hill looming over the town. It’s secluded and peaceful up there, far away from the crowds. That was where I planned to take Kate. I had scouted around the week before and found a good spot.

I stashed the blanket in the trunk of my new TR-4. Both our families were affluent. That was part of the reason Kate and I had gotten together as playmates. Her dad was a doctor and her mother was a hospital administrator. My dad owned a small electronics firm. His company specialized in micro-electronic controllers. It was a niche market, but he did very well. Neither Kate, nor I, wanted for anything.

Kate was always late for our dates. Some guys would find that exasperating. As far as I was concerned, it was an endearing quality. We weren’t going to do anything more than watch the fireworks. But, Kate treated each date like the senior prom, so it took her forever to decide what to wear.

I talked with her dad while I waited. I told him that I was preparing to follow in my old-man’s footsteps, since he owned the company. But I knew that I needed a lot of seasoning. Getting a bachelor’s in business, and an MBA, would be the first step.

My Pop was a man-among-men. After he got out of the Navy, he started building custom boards for industrial controllers. It was something he learned as a combat systems technician on a destroyer. He did it in our garage. His work was brilliant and meticulous. As a result, he started getting contracts from defense suppliers.

The business grew, and it eventually became the best electronics specialty shop in eastern Pennsylvania. I was his successor, and I had plenty of time to mature into the role. That had been our plan since we started talking about my future.

Kate appeared at that point, and it sucked the air out of the room. She’s not a big woman, at five-foot-three and perhaps 115 pounds, but her sheer perfection was breathtaking.

Most girls would wear shorts and a t-shirt to an outdoor event, but Kate dressed for me, not for comfort. She was in a fetching little sun-dress that showed off her shapely muscular legs at the bottom, and her two huge eighteen-year-old tits at the top. She was stunning.

Her dad was as gobsmacked as I was. He looked at her proudly and said, “Wow, Kitten, you are beautiful!”

She dimpled demurely. Kate might look like a goddess, but she was always very self-conscious. I think that was because she spent most of her time in her head. So, the real world was a little intimidating. I was the same way. The last thing I wanted to do was call attention to myself.

When we were by ourselves, Kate was like a cheerful little bird. She was far too shy to act that way in public, but she was her true beautiful self with me. She chattered all the way up the hill. Most women would ask a guy where he was going, since the fireworks were in the opposite direction, but Kate trusted me.

We got to the spot. It was a grassy promontory with the town spread out at our feet. It was dusk. The night was hot, but not oppressive. The sky was painted with the pinkish-blue tint of an evolving summer evening. The moon was already up, low in the sky, shining in a three-quarter silhouette. The lights were beginning to come on below as the darkness fell. The clicking, whirring and buzzing of nature enfolded us.

I was carrying the blanket. I spread it out on the grass, positioned toward where the fireworks would appear. We sat down next to each other, braced on our arms, legs touching. Sometimes we talked a lot. Sometimes we just sat there in a little cocoon of togetherness. This was one of those times. The sense of her proximity filled my heart with peace and happiness.

I had to get something important out of the way. I turned to her and said, “Kate, I have loved you for my whole life. I want to die in your arms. We are beginning the next stage of our journey and I hope you will be with me forever.”

She looked at me warily, like I was talking nonsense. She KNEW we were going to be together forever. I could see her trying to decipher what I was REALLY trying to say. I asked, “Do you feel the same way about me?”

She said with measured seriousness, “I love you Jake. I will always love you. I can’t imagine being with anybody BUT you. Why are you asking me this?”

I laughed and said, “Maybe, I’m feeling a little insecure. We’ve never been anywhere but this town. More important, you’ve never known anybody but the boys in our school. The place we are moving to has lots of guys. There will be some who will be a lot more sophisticated than either of us. I don’t want to lose you.”

She seemed to melt in front of my eyes. It was the oddest look. I had always thought of Kate as shy and inhibited. The look she gave me was pure animal hunger. It was like my admission of insecurity had made her decide something, and her inner fire poured out of her eyes. Maybe she was as uncertain about the future as I was?

She said nothing. She simply turned and grabbed the back of my head. She dragged me into the same kind of open mouthed kiss that we had been indulging in for the past year. But, she was frantically pulling on the ties on her sundress as she did it. It was one of those dresses with a built-in bra, so the top was heavier. I could feel it come loose and fall straight to her waist.

We parted, and I gazed at her mesmerized. I knew that Kate had big tits, but I had NO idea that they were so utterly faultless. They were high, taut and proud, with jutting nipples. The aureoles were wrinkled with arousal. She sat there, still as a statue and totally unashamed.

She said quietly and with simple sincerity, “I want you.” Then she lay back on the blanket, eyes boring into mine.

We were both virgins. Nonetheless, we both knew the principle of the thing. I leaned down and kissed her heated mouth. She moaned loudly with sensation. It was the first time I had heard Kate utter a sexual sound. Its primal unfamiliarity was incredibly stimulating.

When she lay back, her boobs had puddled out slightly on her chest. So instead of mountains, they were two big distinctive plateaus now; with stiff nipples at the center, like sacred pillars. I put a hand on one tit and she moaned louder.

I began to squeeze and manipulate her right breast. The nipple was red hot and distended to a point where I took it between thumb and forefinger, just to feel its rubbery length. Kate cried-out and then groaned loudly. Her breathing accelerated and her legs began to thrash. She said through gritted teeth, “Touch me there.”

I knew what she wanted. So, I ran my hand down across her dress, which was now bunched at her waist, and over her flat lower belly. I moved my hand under the waistband of her panties and dipped into the space between her widely-spread thighs. I crested the little rise where her legs joined and fell into the gap between.

The reality of female genetalia was intimidating to a dedicated virgin like myself. I must admit that I only knew what it was because I had seen the drawings in my sex-education class. Nevertheless, the space between her nether lips was boiling hot, and slippery. There was a pheromone smell, which was so totally distracting that I almost got lost. Sex-Ed hadn’t covered any of that.

I persevered along the path between her lips, across a little bump that make Kate grunt with sensation and entered her with my finger. She moaned, cried out again and began to thrash. The feelings of intimacy that came from putting my finger in my childhood friend’s most secret and intimate place was overwhelming.

In retrospect, my telling sounds rational. But, we were both so caught up in the furor of the event that most of the memories were either not recorded, or blown out of our head by the sheer raw emotion.

In concept, I knew what to do. I was eighteen years old, for God’s sake. I had read a few Playboys and seen a few movies. Plus, guys talk. But we were both so inexperienced that it took a lot of flailing around before I could get my pants down and properly positioned.

I was finally situated. I looked down at the person who I had loved for so long. Kate’s face was wild with emotion. She had always been shy and reserved. This Kate was an alien-being. She was desperately whispering, “Put it in me!! You have to put it in me!!”

At that point, I had my cock in my hand and I knew where it was supposed to go. I placed it at her opening and began to push. Kate was so well lubricated that the head slid right in; even though she was incredibly tight. I moved up her channel, to the expected obstruction. I pushed, there was resistance, Kate gave a shrill little shriek, and then I glided rapidly to the top.

She let out an unearthly groan of pure sensation. I waited for a second while she gathered herself. Her beautiful hazel eyes were round with fear. Then they clouded over with lust and slowly rolled up in her head.

She engulfed me in every place. Her arms were clasped tightly around my neck; her legs were gripping me like she was riding a horse, and of course, her secret place was clasping and churning around me. The heat and silky wetness was incredibly stimulating, too stimulating!!!

It felt like a bomb exploded in my loins. That happened an embarrassingly short time after I entered her. I gave an unearthly grunt and groan and emptied myself. That set Kate off on a sequence of bucking and gyrating maneuvers, accompanied by frantic shrieks.

I knew what I had done and I expected the thing to shrivel out of her. But, Kate’s continued gymnastics kept me harder than an iron bar. I was moving with her. That was just instinctive, when suddenly she stiffened and it felt like the cargo shifted down there.

Her passage gripped me and then she began to yell, “Nyaaaahhhhh!!! Nyaaaahhhhh!!! Nyaaaahhhhh!!! OH, MY GOD!!! AHHHHHH,” and it sounded like she was choking to death as her legs thrashed. To say the least, our first orgasms were memorable.

She finally went completely still. I remained buried deep inside her; hard as titanium. I knew I might have knocked her up. I didn’t care. That was the instant our adult love was consummated. Kate was well and truly mine!!! If we started a family earlier than planned; more the better. We were in this together.

I looked in her eyes. She was terrified, and well she might be. Losing your virginity is a momentous event for any girl. Kate was the deepest, most thoughtful person I knew. But, more pertinently, she had acted so unlike her usual self, so totally out of control, that I knew that her behavior had shocked her.

Whether we are Gandhi or Hitler, our public demeanor is based on the way we want other people to see us. So, we filter the dictates of society through our own individual programming. The outcome of that process is the face that we present to the world. Invariably, that image is phony. We all hide our inner-selves.

Kate and I were both smart, but we knew nothing. The place in our life where we had just gone was novel and permanent. We had finally had sex. What we had discovered was the sublimely uplifting knowledge of how much intimacy enhances a committed relationship. It was life-changing, in that there was no going back to our former state of ignorance.

I realized that intelligence might be one thing. But experience is the quality that tempers intelligence into effectiveness. Up to this point, Kate and I had been preciously naïve. Now, I understood that there were depths of human understanding that we had only begun to plumb.

Both Kate and I were complicated, perhaps too complicated. We both knew that there are very few intrinsically kind people in the world. We were not naturally aggressive and we were both introverted; it was just the way we were. Our attraction to each other was that of fellow travelers, alone in a very strange land.

Perhaps that was why Kate had decided to act; to show me what her inner self was really like. I wasn’t going to ask her about her reasons. That would have been incredibly crude, but I could make an educated guess. The Kate I knew, would never impetuously give up her virginity, especially if it was for no purpose. Obviously, she had the same concerns as I had. My sharing my fears must have prompted her decision to seal the deal. I don’t think either of us expected the degree of passion that ensued. But, it was inevitable. Still waters run inordinately deep, and both of us had a lot going on inside our repressed psyches.

I gazed into Kate’s worried face and said, “If you think that what just happened changes anything, you’re absolutely right.” A look of anguish washed across her face. I hastily added, “I thought I loved you. But I didn’t have a concept of what love really meant. You just showed me what true love is, and I would walk miles through white-hot coals to keep what we have.”

Her face began to register joy, but at that point there was a huge boom, and the sky lit up with a barrage of fiery blossoms. It was dramatic timing. The fireworks show was a perfect physical manifestation of the love that we had just consummated.

THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE

Sounds sappily romantic, doesn’t it? Well we were kids; insulated from “Nature red in tooth and claw.” My ingenuous state didn’t last much longer. A couple of weeks later, I was sitting in my room trying to decide what to take with me to college. The phone rang downstairs and I heard my mother answer it. There was a couple of seconds of conversation then I heard my mom wail, “Ohhh Nooo!!!”

I came thundering down the stairs to see what provoked THAT heart rending cry. Mom was slumped dazedly on the floor, phone in her hand. I picked it up and a voice was still talking. It was saying something about the local hospital. I said, “This is Mary’s son, Jacob; what’s going on?” The voice said, “This is Officer Martinico and we need you to bring your mother down to St. John’s.”

I said, “What’s the matter?” His next words blew away my innocence. He said, “Your father has had a heart attack and we need you to bring your mother here as fast as possible.”

That was my introduction to real-life. Pop was only 51; kidding around with some of his employees, and dead before he hit the floor. There was the usual medical mumbo-jumbo; which was followed shortly thereafter by the funeral. My Dad was a respected member of the community. The crowd was impressive; everybody offered condolences.

My mom was a basket case, and suddenly I was the man of the family.

Dad had a good team, but he didn’t have a succession plan. That just seemed too far in the future, so I had to get up to speed, or sell the business. Selling it would probably have been the smart thing to do. But, the company was my father’s life achievement and neither my mother, nor I, could bear to part with his legacy. It was a sole proprietorship, with me as the owner. And I was an 18-year-old kid who didn’t know shit about anything.

Hence, the die was cast and it didn’t include college. I was going to have to learn the trade from the ground-up, and I was going to have to learn it fast. Kate had been my rock in my grief, but she was going to leave for State College. She had offered several times to stay home. Each time, I told her “no.”.

There was no earthly reason to put Kate’s hopes and dreams on hold, just because karma had chosen to stomp all over mine. My selfish reason was that I didn’t want any distractions. I knew I would be dedicating long hours to making myself into the new head of Jackson & Son. If Kate was parked at State College, I could devote myself to learning the things I needed to know, without distractions.

We had been regularly fucking. It was like the dam had burst and we couldn’t get enough of each other. Kate was spectacular the first time, but it turns out we had only scratched the surface of her sexuality. We didn’t do anything beyond the conventional, but we did it frequently and from many different angles. Kate was an uninhibited and totally giving woman, and her sheer enthusiasm made up for any lack of sophistication.

The thing about life, though, is that the clock ticks at the same inevitable rate. Kate left for her college orientation session at 7:30 AM that Saturday. She cried. I cried. It was a difficult parting. Her parents even looked like they were questioning the decision.

I had lost the two most important people in my life in less than a month. That was the reason why the sight of their car disappearing out of the suburb was particularly overwhelming. It might not be true for everybody, but I react to grief like a bad case of the flu. I’m drained of energy, listless and even achy. I went home and slept for two days.

But, you have to march, or die, and I wasn’t ready for the latter. So, I started my new life, willing or not. William Barnes was my dad’s right-hand man and a steady older guy. He was my version of Yoda; without the green complexion and long ears. William, don’t call me Bill, was ten years older than my old-man, meaning he was sixty-one. He had overseen the daily operation at Jackson, from as far back as I could remember.

His title was Chief Operating Officer, but it might as well have been Drill Instructor. He had always been kindly, like the older uncle. Now he was a demanding task-master. He started my introduction to the business by putting me to work in the mail-room. That might be a bit of a cliché. But working there, I quickly got to know everybody in our little company.

THEN, after work he tutored me for several hours on everything from financial management to circuit design. That was following a nine-hour day trudging around the building carrying packages and letters. The fourteen hours that I spent at work quickly became my routine.

On Saturdays, William would teach me about networking. That skill had nothing to do with routers and switches. We would meet for dinner with business associates and the various movers and shakers in our corner of the market. These were almost exclusively old white-guys who treated me like a manservant. After all, I was forty years younger than most of them.

I really didn’t mind being William’s boy-Friday. I was still as shy and introverted as ever. I let him do all the talking. I just sat there smiling politely, but the time I spent in those figuratively smoke-filled rooms gave me a much better idea of what it took to keep a company running, and I got a lot smarter.

That quality should never be confused with intelligence. I was starting to develop the animal cunning that you need to succeed in business. It begins with the assumption that every one of your “friends” are adversaries. It also includes a healthy dose of paranoia, which is how you develop survival instincts. Of course, you aren’t paranoid if people really ARE out to get you, as I soon learned.

William was a master of the art and he would debrief me after every session. I would be astonished to discover how everyone was playing an angle, all designed to give them a slightly larger share of the pie. After months of those sessions, I was beginning to lose all faith in humanity. That was reinforced by what happened next.

In the meantime, I was conducting a passionate long-distance romance with the love of my life. I knew that Kate’s situation was as demanding as mine. She was away from home for the first time. She had to get up to speed in her classes, and they were not the typical blow-off courses that a husband-hunting female would take. They were the hardball studies that were required for a pre-med student.

Worse, Kate also had to learn how to get along with strangers, which is difficult for an introvert. Kate was in a dorm room with two other girls and she told me that it was horribly intrusive. They were constantly in each other’s space, and privacy was impossible. She would have begged her parents to move her to her own place; they could afford it. But all freshmen had to live in the dorms, unless they were in a sorority.

We both realized that growing-up was a bitch. We talked for hours every day. It was like we were helping each other adapt to our new, unfamiliar, and very uncomfortable existence. I wanted to visit, but that wasn’t feasible. My business lessons took up most of my time and it was six hours back and forth to State College. We conversed by phone and exchanged loving text messages.

That contact got less and less frequent as the fall progressed. I put it down to the fact that Kate had joined a sorority early that October. It was less for the social life and more to simply get away from her roommates. But, it was a very exclusive group.

Kate was rich and beautiful, so she went from living in a box with two other freshman girls, to being the star of her sorority’s recruiting class. I was a little worried about her newfound sense of empowerment. That would go to anybody’s head. Everybody wants their woman to be desirable, but that is a two-edged sword, and I knew it.

With Christmas week looming, I told William that I wanted a break. He said, “You’re making great progress. Why do you want to take time off?” I said, “Because Kate is going to be home and I want to spend all my time with her.”

I had become more confident in my role as heir-apparent. William was an excellent mentor, and I was amazed to discover that I was a quick study. I had the business routines down, and I was beginning to get a lot smarter about the relationships with the workers. I was also becoming something of a prodigy in circuit design.

I had always been a geek. But, I found my true inner nerd with circuit innovation. My first exercise was to write a new hardwire connection for linking sensors in a diesel-engine-monitoring-system, to a program logic controller. It was just designed as a learning exercise, but it was so intellectually absorbing that I spent all of my free hours doodling with it.

William was astonished when I showed it to him. Shortly thereafter, I found myself meeting with the entire engineering design team. It seemed that I had put together a device that could handle a much greater sensor load at three times the speed.

I signed my first patent application just before Kate’s arrival. I had also cemented the respect of my own engineers, most of whom were twenty-five years older than me. That boded well for the future. I was confident that I was going to be successful, so I decided to take the next step.

I had managed to scrape up the money for a one carat diamond ring. I owned the company, but it was in trust. Instead, William was paying me ten-bucks an hour to deliver mail. Nonetheless, I was still living at home, and had no social life. So, I planned to propose to Kate on New Year’s Eve. It was time.

I was standing in the driveway when they arrived. Kate emerged from the car, glided gracefully over to me and we hugged. Neither of us were into public displays of affection, we were both too inhibited, but it was clear that she was happy to see me. I handed her the dozen roses that I had hidden behind my back. She seemed thrilled, but there was something else in her response. Was it hesitancy?

Kate needed time to settle in, so I told her that I would drop by as soon as I got my own Christmas out of the way. My mom needed me, and it wasn’t like Kate had all sorts of high school friends to visit. It had always just been her and me, and we wanted to bask in our togetherness.

I arrived right after dinner on Christmas day. We sat alone in the den. Her parents trusted both of us. The first thing I noticed was that she was ready when I got there. That was a first. Then the second thing hit me. I should have noticed it when she arrived. But I was blinded by the sheer joy of seeing her again.

Kate was a rich kid. But, she always dressed in relatively modest and inexpensive clothing. The Kate sitting in front of me was a study in style, from the zip-up blue cashmere sweater to her short, A-line skirt; and she was wearing enough gold to make Midas jealous. Nevertheless, the biggest change was her hair. Her long chestnut hair was cut in a chic preppie bob.

I said warily, “I like what you did with your hair. It’s very sophisticated.”

She smiled happily and said, “The girls at Kappa Gamma are helping me come out of my shell. They’re like real sisters. I feel like I grew-up a year for every week I was on campus. You were right. We had a very limited world-view living here. The transition to college opened my eyes. I’m free now, and I can spread my wings and fly.”

That was the precise instant that I knew I’d lost her.

The fact that we were both a little odd, had driven us together. And the stresses of adolescence only reinforced our intimacy. Both of us had broken through our limitations, but we had done it in different ways.

I was a long way from the naive kid I was six months ago. Eighty grueling hours a week, under the tutelage of a grizzled old warhorse like William Barnes, will change how you view the world. I was a lot more confident and in command of my life. Having to step into your dad’s shoes without any preparation will do that for a fellow.

Kate needed a personal sense of connection to feel secure. Growing up, I was the only person who gave her that critical assurance. Now, she had discovered a new source of intimacy, in the hot-house culture of Greek-life. I can imagine how comforted she must have felt, finding a group of women who went out of their way to connect with her.

That connection had channeled Kate’s entire persona into a different path. She was no longer the timid, self-doubting and inexperienced girl I loved. She was a woman who fully understood her worth, and she had adopted a different attitude toward her world. It was one of grace, ease, and style. I simply didn’t have the sophistication to match that.

Worse, just like I could never go back to being the naïve kid who played video games in our basement; Kate could never return to the unassuming and insecure girl she had been before she left for school. I didn’t have to be a social savant to see where that put us, but I still had to ask. I said, “So what does this mean for you and me?”

Kate gave me a deeply loving look and said, “It doesn’t change anything. I still love you. I will always love you. We grew up together and there is an unbreakable bond between us.” I could hear the “But” coming... “But I also know that I have a lot of things to do and a lot of places to see. I had always expected to be your wife, but I have to grow into that role now.”

I said, heart sinking, “I assume that your ‘growth’ includes dating other guys?”

She looked at me sympathetically and said, “Yes it does. I have been totally devoted to you, since the second grade. I think it’s obvious that focusing on one person to the exclusion of everybody else helped ensure that I would be the inexperienced and immature girl that I was when I left home. I know that I have to learn things if I EVER want to become a fully capable adult. I’ve experienced enough of life to know that, now.”

I couldn’t question her logic. Every person has to decide who they are and where they fit. That’s been the case since they chiseled “Nosce te ipsum” on the face of the Temple at Delphi. But, it still hurt. I said, “I assume that your ‘sisters’ where the ones who helped you discover this?”

She looked uncomfortable as she said, “We talked a lot about it. These girls are far beyond my modest upbringing. They have helped me to understand that I need to experience life before I can truly be fulfilled. I know that college isn’t the real world, but, I’m surrounded by 40,000 kids, all of whom are going through the same learning experiences. It’s hard to see self-discovery as a bad thing.”

I said, “I assume that you’ve gained some of these discoveries from the male half of that population?”

Kate looked even more uncomfortable as she said, “Of course I’ve dated. I would have never been allowed to pledge Kappa Gamma if I hadn’t. But, I just go out with whoever asks me. There’s no love, nothing like we have. I tell them that I have a boyfriend back home and I have been completely faithful to you, but I date. That has helped me understand myself better.”

There it was. It was obvious that Kate had crossed the great divide. She had moved from sheltered, to immersed in her culture, and thanks to cruel fate, I wasn’t going to be part of the picture. It was inevitable that she would meet, interact with, and I was certain, eventually fuck other guys.

I didn’t blame her. The adult Kate was forged in a different mill. It was one where the only emphasis was on self-actualization. That is what college is all about; it’s in the oxygen and the water. The intensive navel staring might seem a bit self-involved and egocentric. But maturation takes time; unless destiny tosses you into the deep end of the pool and says, “Swim!!”

Fate had denied me the luxury of taking a four-year hiatus to “find myself,” so I was on a different path than Kate. That path didn’t give me the time to mull over the meaning of life; I was stuck surviving it. The only saving grace was that I had found out that our paths were different before I did something REALLY humiliating. I hoped the jeweler would take back the ring.

Every year, there’s a huge New Year’s celebration at the club. So, I smiled and said, “Okay, let’s talk about something less earth-shaking. What time do you want me to pick you up for the New Year’s gala?” I was only trying to cool down the situation; but wait! There’s more!

Her beautiful face changed and she looked sad. She also looked more than a little embarrassed. She said, “I’m sorry, but I’m going to that event with a boy I met at school. He wanted to see where I lived and I invited him down for New Year’s Eve.”

If her declaration of independence had been a little abstract, THAT announcement was a stake through my heart. She knew what she was doing. She would have had to be brain dead to think that I was NOT expecting to go to the gala with her. This was an intentional message, read and acknowledged.

I tried to keep a poker face as I said, “I see. Well, I gotta get going. The day starts early for us working stiffs. And Mr. Scrooge doesn’t let us take Boxing Day off.” I rose and began to walk toward the door.

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