Friends and Benefits
Copyright© 2005 by Big Ed Magusson
Sex Story: Chapter 27 - I told her "It's a long, complicated story about friends with benefits. Or without benefits. Or... I don't know. Friends and benefits." It was the story of my mid-twenties and sorting out my confusion about women, love, and sex. But it was only in telling my story to a non-traditional "therapist" that I really found the answers and learned about the varied forms that love can take. Note slow code.
Caution: This Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa Fa/Fa Consensual Romantic Light Bond Group Sex First Safe Sex Oral Sex Masturbation Petting Sex Toys Exhibitionism Voyeurism Slow School
I knew the next two weeks would be hard. Almost as soon as the envelope left my fingers, sliding through the mailbox slot, I could feel the helplessness set in. I'd taken my best shot with the letter to Tina, and now all I could do was wait. What happened next was completely beyond my power.
With her letter mailed, I returned to my desk. I pulled out a clean piece of paper and wrote "Dear Sharon" on the top line. Then I stared at it.
And stared at it.
And wrote three words and then promptly crossed them out.
The problem was, I just didn't feel that sorry. Not in a deeply repentant way.
Yeah, I'd pushed when I shouldn't've. And when she'd blatantly told me not to. I'd definitely fucked up.
But that didn't change the fact that she was the one that had crossed the line.
What line there was. We'd never done a good job of defining where the line between a pure friendship and a sexual friendship lay. And that was as much my fault as hers.
Well, actually she'd defined the line—no touching. I hadn't liked it, but I hadn't discussed it or argued. And then she'd been the one to cross it.
I sighed and got up from my desk. The whole thing was far too messy for me to reason my way through. I needed to be Alexander the Great and just slice through this Gordian Knot.
I puttered around the house, doing a little cleaning and straightening. My mind kept wanting to return to the letter to Sharon, but I consciously pushed those thoughts aside. I needed to not overthink things. I just needed to do.
I smiled at that thought. I'd certainly done Sherri. Without hesitating, in fact.
Those were memories worth reveling in. I'd taken a page out of Allen's book and had some of the best raw sex of my life.
That got me thinking about Allen. We hadn't really talked when I'd called him last, the week after that disastrous night. Of course, I'd been rather whiny, then. He'd tossed off his advice about getting laid and then gotten off the phone.
Well, I wasn't whiny anymore. It was time to call him again.
"Hey, Bud," he said when he answered. "You doing okay?"
"Better than the last time I called."
"Good to hear."
"Yeah, well, it would have been tough for things to get worse."
Allen snorted but didn't say anything. I grimaced because I immediately knew it wasn't true. Things could have gotten worse, a lot worse.
"But I'm doing a lot better now," I said.
"I hope my advice helped."
Now it was my turn to snort. Allen had listened for about twenty minutes while I'd poured out my guts, and then told me that I needed to get laid. There had been no additional advice.
"I told you that there were always other fish in the sea," he said. "Getting laid is a good way to remember that."
"Oh, I got laid. It just didn't go the way I think you intended."
"Oh? Did it turn into something?"
"In a way," I said. "But not romantic."
"It's a long story. But that's not why I'm calling. I want to talk about Sharon."
"Oh." His tone was cold. "I thought she wouldn't talk to you."
"So what's the problem? You should consider it a blessing."
"Hey, just because she's your ex doesn't make her a bad person."
"Do you know how hard it was to make her my ex?"
"Not that hard. You sent her a letter."
"That's because every time I tried to do it in person, I got a lecture. I'd start the conversation and she'd interrupt me and tell me what she thought. Ya can't solve problems if only one of you's talking."
I frowned, remembering my conversation with Sharon after she'd caught me masturbating. I didn't feel so bad about not standing up to her if Allen couldn't either.
"She was so sure we were 'destined to be together, '" he continued, "that she didn't want to face the problems. She started smothering me, so I got out."
"So consider yourself lucky. You got out easy."
"Not if it cost me Tina, too."
"Yeah, she was good for you. But there are more women out there. You did get laid, after all."
"Yeah," I said.
"So where'd you meet her?"
I laughed. "That's a long story. Basically I got lucky and was in the right place and the right time." Which was true, even if the right place had been my living room.
"So date her."
"Nah." Not since she preferred women. "I think I'll try to get back with Tina."
Allen didn't immediately respond. Choosing his words, probably.
"Well," he said, "good luck."
"You never know. You didn't expect things to work out with Jenna when you first hooked up, and look what happened."
"Yeah." The grin was obvious in his voice.
"So, how is married life?"
Allen proceeded to tell me stories about being married for a few months and how that was different from just living together. I asked questions in appropriate places and fifteen minutes later we hung up. He was happy, still truly happy.
And I still didn't know what to say to Sharon.
I sat down at my desk again and fiddled with my pen. No words came to me. I reflected some more on Allen's words—that Sharon thought they were 'destined' to be together. That certainly fit with her difficulties in getting over him. She hadn't 'gone out and gotten laid, ' though I suspected that was different for girls. Instead, she'd clung to fantasies and hopes. Like Allen seeing her pictures and wanting to get back together.
Oh, I'd been such a fool.
The pictures had never been about me, or for me. At least not in the beginning. It was about Allen! She'd suggested the first set when I'd said Allen would be envious, and the others after he accidentally saw the first ones.
My blood started to boil and I clenched my fists. No wonder it was easy for her to not see our time together as sexual—she was never thinking about me as a sexual partner. I could have been her girlfriend or her brother for all she cared!
I smashed my fist down on the desk. Unfortunately, I hit the tip of my pen, sending it flying. Still pissed, I went looking for it on the floor.
If I hadn't been so stupid, I would have realized that it wasn't about me before I shouted those things in the bedroom. Maybe I'd still have Tina.
I found the pen and stood up. Still disgusted with myself, I just threw it on the desk. I needed to go for a walk and I needed to go for a walk now.
I pounded the pavement down to the 7-Eleven again. About three quarters of the way there, my anger started to dissipate with the exercise. I started to feel better, even though I was out of breath. It sure beat trying to drink my anger away.
There was more than just me being a blind, stupid fool, I realized. I'd also been afraid. I've never forced the issue with Sharon and negotiated or discussed what I wanted. I'd never come right out and said I wanted to date her, or questioned her when she said she didn't want to date me. I'd never stood up for myself.
No wonder I'd exploded in the end.
That's what I needed to apologize for. I slowed to a gentle walk as the revelation sunk in. I continued to play with the words while I finished the round trip, having won nothing with my scratch-off ticket.
By the time I'd returned to my apartment, I thought I had enough of the words to write the letter. I labored over it for a long time and then set it aside. I needed a second set of eyes on it, and that meant waiting for Sherri.
I pondered that. There really wasn't any rush, was there? Sherri'd said she'd call me in a couple of days, so I could let the letter sit for a while. I could fill the time until then.
That night, I buried my nose in a novel, and the next day I threw myself into my work. On the way home, I stopped at the bookstore and snagged another paperback, which I started after dinner. I did a few chores when I got stiff from just sitting on the couch, but generally just let the time go by. Tuesday, I did more of the same. Wednesday night I started to get antsy, waiting for the phone to ring. It wasn't until I was doing dishes that I realized why.
Wednesdays was when I talked to Sharon. And here I was, waiting for the phone to ring once again.
I consciously forced my gut to untighten and my muscles to relax. Sherri would call. I just had to be patient.
And of course as soon as I told myself that, the phone rang. And, of course, it was Sherri.
"How are you doing?" she asked after we'd said hello.
"Pretty good. I've got a draft of my letter to Sharon I'd like to run by you."
The pause lengthened.
"Uh, you mean now," I said. "on the phone. I was thinking of showing it to you in person."
"Hmm," she said. "That's probably better."
"Yeah," I said, "that way you can see if the tone comes across right, instead of hearing it in my voice."
"Okay. How about Friday?"
"Don't you work Fridays?" I asked.
"Not any more. Or at least not right now."
"I quit the agency."
"They told me to make up with my client from last week. He's a pretty powerful guy in this town. But I refused."
"So I've got Friday night free."
"Well, do you want to come here? Go out? Meet somewhere else? Have me come there?"
She chuckled. "So many choices. How about just picking one and asking me if I'd like to do it?"
"Okay," I said. "Dinner out. How about the Grill from Ipanema in Adams Morgan?"
"Sure. What time?"
Sherri asked a few more questions about how I was doing, and I sensed she was gently probing to make sure I hadn't slipped into depression. My answers seemed to satisfy her, though. She in turn also sounded cheerful, and when we hung up, I remained in good spirits.
I was still in good spirits on Friday. The week had gone quite well at work and I had a great meal with great company to look forward to. The only curve ball was the flashing light on my answering machine when I got home.
"Joe, this is Sherri. Would it be okay if my roommate joined us tonight? Don't worry, you'll like her. Give me a call." I replayed it twice to make sure I'd copied her phone number down correctly. I took a deep breath and then dialed the number.
"Hi, this is Joe. Can I speak with Sherri?"
"Oh, hi Joe! This is Lisa, Sherri's roommate."
"I suppose you're returning her call about me coming along. I hope it's okay. I won't get in the way and I really need to get out."
"I'll let you talk to Sherri."
Before I could say anything else, a different voice came on the line.
"Hi," Sherri said.
"Hi. I'm returning your call."
"I figured. Listen, Lisa got fired today, and it's my fault. She would've been working tonight, but, well..."
"Well, how do we go over my letter to Sharon?"
"Oh, she's promised to go hang out at the bar for a while so we can talk privately. And if we need more time, I'll come back to your place. Assuming you don't mind me inviting myself to spend the night."
I snorted. "I'd have to be a fool to mind."
"Good. I owe her. And you'll like her."
"Besides," she continued, "I told her that you wouldn't object as long as she wore her garter belt. I'll wear mine, too."
I sputtered in surprise, my mouth moving, but words completely failing me.
"See you in a little bit," Sherri said, and then hung up.
As I rolled through a quick shower, I had a hard time avoiding an erection. I didn't know anything about Lisa, but already I was excited at the possibility. After all, Sherri had said they'd sometimes worked together.
Also, the irony was not lost on me—I'd schemed and planned for months to have dinner with two women while both were wearing garter belts. Now it was happening a second time, without me lifting a finger. Somewhere, the gods were laughing their fool heads off.
They continued to laugh while I looked for parking in Adams Morgan. With no Metro stop, there was no good way to get there, and apparently everyone had decided that tonight was the night to go out. The only pay lot in the area was jammed and I finally settled for a meter over eight blocks from the restaurant. As a result, I was late, really late, when I finally arrived.
Despite the crowd, I quickly spotted Sherri at the bar. She waved, and the blonde she was with turned around and smiled. It was one of those million dollar smiles that shows up on the cover of magazines, and I immediately felt my blood begin to race in response. I waved back and slowly pushed my way through the crowd.
Sherri greeted me with a hug and then introduced me to Lisa. The blonde dimpled when she smiled and her feathered-back hair framed her face like a halo. I found myself unconsciously standing a little straighter and smoothing my clothes.
"I put us on the list for a table," Sherri said, leaning close so I could hear her over the din. "But Lisa can wait for them to call us if you want to talk outside."
I nodded and stepped back, letting her lead me to the door. I waved at Lisa as we went, and she raised her glass at me in return.
I was glad that the night wasn't as cold as it might have been for late January. Nonetheless, we leaned against the building to avoid the breeze. I reached into my pocket and took out my letter to Sharon. I unfolded it and handed it to Sherri, who turned, allowing me to look over her shoulder. Even though I almost knew the words by heard, I read along.
You've been an incredible friend. From the moment Alicia broke up with me, you were there, supporting me and helping me. You pushed me into going out with Tina and for that I'm incredibly grateful. I have also appreciated your openness and frankness about sex. I've liked being able to talk about it and I've enjoyed the photography lessons.
However, the entire time, I wanted more than a platonic friendship. But I never spoke up and I never told you how I felt or what I wanted. When you gave reasons for not wanting to date me, based on your past, I didn't argue with you. I didn't make the case that history didn't have to repeat itself.
I'm sorry for that.
I'm also sorry for the way things got out of hand during your visit. It wasn't all my fault, and I certainly wasn't the one to break the no-touching rule, but I still bear part of the responsibility. I shouldn't have pushed and I'm sorry for blowing up at you at the end, instead of trying to make things right.
Ultimately, I could have been a better friend.
"You seem to like the word 'incredible, '" Sherri said.
"You used it twice, even after me mentioning it with your last letter."
I glanced back at the letter. "Oh, I did."
"You can change the second one to simply 'very' and it'll work."
She looked up at me and frowned.
"My big problem," she said, "is that this doesn't feel like an apology. It's more like you're justifying why you're only a little bit sorry."
"Well," I said, "that's the truth. The more I've thought about it, the more I'm convinced that I shouldn't apologize for the fact that she gave me a blowjob. I may have manipulated Tina about the pictures, but I was up front with Sharon. My sins with her were omission, not commission."
"Do you really regret not standing up to her?"
I firmly nodded.
She turned back to the letter, and I waited shifting side by side to keep a little warmer.
"I still think you need to rework this some," she said finally. "At least the last paragraph. Maybe take out the second sentence."
I leaned in. "The one that starts 'It wasn't all my fault... ?'"
"Yes. That one."
"Okay. I can cut it."
Sherri looked up at me, biting her lip as she searched my eyes.
"Do you think this letter will serve her?" she asked.
"What do you mean?"
"Do you think it will be good for her? Not just good for you to write, but good for her to read?"
I paused and tilted my head. Would it?
"You do want this letter to be from agape, right?"
I slowly nodded. "I do. But I want to stand up for myself, too."
"So what does the letter do?"
"Let me re-read it," I said.
She handed it to me and I slowly reviewed it. Then I handed it back.
"I think it does both," I said. "Or at least as best as I can. The first paragraph is stuff she should definitely hear. She really has been an incredible friend."
Sherri grimaced when I said 'incredible' and I couldn't help but chuckle at myself.
"I'll definitely fix the 'incredibles, '" I said. "But I also think the second paragraph has to be there. It's me standing up for myself as well as telling her what I think she needs to know."
"Are you sure?"
I started to retort about being pushed, but then I stopped myself. This was one case where I did need to be pushed. Was this really what I wanted to send?
"I'm sure," I said, after a pause.
She didn't look convinced, but after looking into my eyes a moment longer, she made a small nod.
"Okay," she said.
I smiled. "I'll make the other changes."
"Good. Was there anything else you wanted to talk about?"
"Not really," I said. "It's too early to have heard back from Tina yet, and life's been pretty good otherwise. I could tell you more about some of the things I've been thinking about, but, frankly, I'm getting cold."
"Then let's go back in."
We re-entered the restaurant to see a guy in a sports coat chatting Lisa up. She was smiling and laughing, but as soon as she saw us, she got a pleading look in her eyes. The guy turned, but before he could say anything, Sherri threw her arms around Lisa in a hello embrace, replete with joyous cries and cheek kissing. They guy looked at me warily.
"Is our table ready?" Sherri asked Lisa before any of the rest of us could speak.
"I'm sure it is."