Copyright (C) 2011 by the author. All rights reserved.
Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Loren is smarting from his breakup with his long-term live-in girlfriend. During an office off-site gathering, his colleague and player Todd recruits him to be a wingman as he attempts to pick up a stunning brunette at another table. Loren's assignment -- to which he reluctantly agrees -- is to distract her companion, who Todd regards as less desirable. They hit it off -- until she reveals a secret that she believes jeopardizes their relationship.
Loren sat at his computer reviewing an economic forecast. Two hands grasped his shoulders from behind and he jumped. "Loren -- going down to Farley's?"
"Todd -- you startled me. I was going to pass."
"Come on ... You know this is Dwight's last day. It'll be our last chance to say good bye."
"You used to duck these off-sites by saying Ginger wanted you home for dinner. You can't use that excuse any more."
"Rub it in. All right..." He logged off his computer and picked up his briefcase.
"Leave that, buddy," Todd said. "Come back for it afterward."
Loren walked to the elevator and rode it with Todd to the ground floor. They stepped onto the sidewalk and headed down the block to Farley's.
Inside he saw that tables had been placed end-to-end. He found a seat on the end closest to the door and Todd took the seat beside him.
A server approached them. "What'll you folks have?" she asked.
"Go ahead," Todd prompted. "Freddie will pick up the tab."
"Why don't you bring a pitcher of draft and some glasses?" Loren asked.
"I'll have a vodka collins," Todd added. "Bring a plate of nachos."
"Looks like we're the first ones here," Loren remarked. "That makes me feel a bit uncomfortable."
"Someone has to be the first. Here comes Erin."
Their server set down the pitcher, glasses and Todd's drink. A slender young woman with short, auburn hair sat beside Todd. She took a glass and filled it from the pitcher. "Hi, Todd."
She looked toward Loren. "Hi, Loren. I'm surprised to see you here."
"Part of the new world order I guess," Loren replied.
"I'm sorry to hear about you and Ginger," Erin added.
Another young man entered the bar and sat across from Todd. "Hey, Dwight," Todd said. "Sorry to see you go, man."
Dwight shrugged. "I'm sorry to be leaving ... hell, I'm happy to be leaving. I'll miss all you, though -- you're a great bunch. Hey Loren -- sorry to hear about you and Ginger."
"Yeah -- for the best I guess..."
A slightly built man in middle age sat at the head of the table. He had a thin face, pointed nose and a pencil moustache. He looked around and acknowledged them turn. "Erin ... Todd, Loren, Dwight. Where's everybody else?"
"So engrossed in their work," Dwight remarked, helping himself to some beer, "they lose track of time."
More of Loren's coworkers filtered into Farley's. The server brought more pitchers, nachos, a smattering of mixed drinks and a couple of sodas. Loren was engaged in a discussion with Dwight when he felt a jab in his ribs.
He turned to Todd. "What?"
Todd nodded toward another part of the bar. "Bogey at three o'clock."
Loren looked in that direction. Standing at a tall table were two young women. One was tall and slender, with a Mediterranean complexion and coarse, dark brown hair that fell halfway down her back. The other was stocky and full-figured with pale skin and shoulder-length, blonde hair.
"You be my wingman," Todd said.
"Yeah -- you go chat up the fugly one while I go for the brunette."
"Do you mean the blonde? I don't think she's bad looking."
"She needs to go to the gym and lose five or thirty pounds."
"No -- I think she's just large-framed. She doesn't have a big spare tire -- like some you see."
"She has the start of one."
"So do I for that matter," Loren replied.
Todd nodded toward the two women. "Come on, Loren -- before someone else swoops in."
"Todd -- I'm pretty awkward at this sort of thing. Can't you find another wingman?"
"You're the only guy here who's single. Let's go, Loren." Loren looked up at Todd. "I'll return the favor someday."
"I'm sure you will."
"Dude -- I know you're hurting now but the day will come when you're ready to start dating real, live women ... and then I'll be your wingman."
Loren hoisted himself from his chair and walked with Todd toward the two women. "Hi," Todd said, "I'm Todd and this is my pal Loren. We'd like to buy you lovely ladies a round."
The brunette lifted her eyebrows. "Why, thank you."
"What are you having?" Todd asked.
"Chablis," the brunette replied.
Todd caught the eye of a server. "Four Chablis," he ordered. He turned to the brunette. "Chablis is a sipping wine. I see that table is opening up." He gestured toward a two-top. "Maybe we could do our sipping over there."
Loren watched as they headed toward the table. He stood across from the blond girl. "So," she said. "You must be the wingman."
Loren chortled. "I guess I am."
"What, do you and he trade off assignments?"
"No -- I'm pretty green at this, actually. Todd has his own circle of friends and stomping grounds." Loren gestured toward the long table across the room. "I wouldn't be here at all, except that it's one of my coworker's last day and our boss called an extracurricular going-away party slash team-building exercise."
The server set four glasses of wine on the table, along with the check. Loren caught Todd's eye and he approached them. Todd mouthed the word, "Wow!" and carried off two of the glasses.
Loren picked up one and handed the other to his tablemate. "Cheers," he said.
"Cheers." She sipped from hers. The server set a bowl of pretzels on the table. She reached into her bag and retrieved a pack of cigarettes, then slipped it back inside. "I keep forgetting I can't do that in here anymore."
"I for one am happy you can't do that anymore," Loren replied.
"Are you a militant non-smoker?"
He shook his head. "I don't care if someone smokes. You're free to ingest whatever you want, in my opinion. My problem is I'm allergic to it. It gives me asthma. Before they banned smoking the only way I could come in a place like this would be if I took a couple Benadryl first. Of course, with a couple of Benadryl in me I couldn't do any drinking so why come in at all?"
"I am trying to quit," she said. "It's getting harder and harder to find a place to smoke these days. Do you remember this past February when it was so cold? I had to go outside for a cigarette. They say smoking is dangerous to your health. They're right -- you could freeze to death out there. Plus, it's getting to be so expensive."
"What have you done to try to quit?" he asked.
"I tried going cold turkey, but that lasted about three days. Now, I'm trying to taper off ... but it's hard. At one point I was going through a pack a day. I'm down to two packs a week. I can't seem to drop below that."
"Which is six cigarettes a day," he remarked.
"Yes -- I guess it is. I'm about ready to go to a doctor and get a prescription."
"My father successfully quit smoking by tapering off. His trick was to pick a brand he hated."
"That's an idea," she replied. "I should switch to a menthol brand. I really don't like menthol."
"Be careful -- some menthol brands have more nicotine than the regular ones."
"You seem to know a lot about cigarettes for someone who's allergic to them."
"I'm a business analyst," Loren replied. "I cover the medical and consumer sectors. The FDA is considering banning menthol cigarettes. I had to do an impact analysis for our traders. If you're planning on going to menthol, then you'd better stock up soon."
"I'll give it a try." She sipped more of her wine. "So, other than the bars, where do nice single guys go?"
"Beats me," Loren replied. "It's not an orbit in which I travel."
"I'm sorry -- are you attached? When I see a gunner and a wingman in formation I figure both are single."
He drew in a breath and let it out as a sigh. "I wasn't single... 'til recently."
"Just broke up?"
"She moved out a couple of weeks ago."
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear it."
"We were together ten years," he said, "including our years in college. I think we were over each other for the past two or three years. We even tried couples therapy."
"Did that help?"
"It helped us separate. Our therapist peeled back the layers so we were exposing our unvarnished selves to each other ... saying what we meant ... The end result was we didn't care much for what we saw and heard. I'm not sure how we ended up growing apart the way we did ... but we certainly did." He sipped his wine. "He fixated on how you say you love someone. My pet phrase was, I love you to pieces. What does that mean?"
"I don't think anyone ever told me that," she replied.
"It didn't make sense to him and I guess it doesn't make sense at all. If you love somebody why would you want to ... disintegrate her? He wanted each of us to look the other in the eye and simply say, 'I love you.' Neither of us could do it. I guess that drove home the fact we had been living with someone we didn't really love." Loren sipped some more wine.
"How are you coping?" she asked.
"Not real well."
"I mean -- what are you doing to cope?"
"Losing myself in my routine ... the sun comes up, I go to work, I come home. The sun goes down. Repeat. Weekends are the toughest. I'm still recovering from the finality of it. Of course, Ginger's moving out didn't stop the earth from spinning on its axis, so in the bigger picture I guess it's not really that important."
"But, it was important to you," she remarked.
"I hadn't realized what a tidy arrangement we had worked out. We had separation of duties. I cooked the meals and washed the dishes. Chief cook and bottle washer -- that's me. Ginger did the laundry, made the beds and ran the vacuum. She planted the bulbs while I mowed the lawn." He sipped some more wine. "You wouldn't believe the pile of laundry that's accumulated since she left. The dishes are clean and I haven't starved. The lawn's mowed ... or will be, once it gets warm enough to start growing again ... but there is a backlog of bulbs to plant."
She laughed. "You plant bulbs in the fall, not in the spring."
"Shows how much I know about planting bulbs."
"You have a lawn to mow?" she asked. "You're in a house, not an apartment?"
"Yeah ... It's my grandparents' house. When they died they left it to my folks -- on the condition it stay in the family. It used to be way out in the country. Now it's in the middle of a subdivision up on the North side -- urban sprawl crept up to it and engulfed it."
She smiled. "Like an amoeba?"
"Yeah -- like that. I'm paying the carrying costs and my folks are letting me live in it. At some point it'll devolve to me, I guess -- and I'll still be paying the carrying costs -- which amount to real estate taxes and utilities, so it's a good deal."
"Is it a big place?" she asked.
"Oh, no. It was just the right size for my grandparents. It was just the right size for Ginger and me. Now, it's more than I need." Loren drained his glass. He glanced toward the long table. "Looks like my group is breaking up." He held up his empty glass. "Another?"
"I'm good," she said. "In fact I think I'd better be heading home." She looked up at the table where her friend had gone with Todd. "I wonder where Tammy went?"
"With Todd? I'll bet she gets picked up all the time."
"I'll bet she does, too."
"You two weren't here, cruising?" he asked.
"No -- We had a rough day and came here to unwind. I'm pretty much of a homebody myself."
"Are you attached?" he asked.
She shook her head. "No -- and for longer than a couple of weeks."
Loren picked up the check. "This was Todd's idea and I get stuck with the tab."
She opened her bag. "How much is it? We can go halves."
"Twenty-four plus tip and tax. It's okay -- I'll take care of it."
Out of her purse she produced a ten and a five. "I insist."
"In that case..." Loren produced a twenty from his wallet and pocketed the five. He left the bills on the table. "Where are you parked?"
"About a block west of Oakwood on Maple."
"That's in the university section," he remarked, "quite a walk."
"I ride the bus," she replied. "It saves me gas and wear and tear on my car."
"I'd be happy to give you a ride. I'm parked in the Westmar garage."
"I'll accept." They headed to the sidewalk. She opened her purse, took out her cigarettes and lit one.
"What made your day so rough?" he asked, fanning her smoke from his face.
"Oh, how inconsiderate of me," she said and stubbed out the cigarette on the side of a building. She slipped it back into the pack. "I'll save it for later. I'm a paralegal and we had a big case to prepare for. Tammy's our receptionist..."
"I think law firms are good at hiring charming receptionists," Loren remarked. "They're good at screening the sharks in the back office."
She laughed. "I never thought of it that way. Not all lawyers are sharks. We have a couple in my office that are almost human."
He reached the main entrance of the Westmar building. "I need to pop upstairs and retrieve my case," he said.
"I'm in no hurry." The elevator doors opened and he pressed the button for the twelfth floor. "I work on eight," she said.
"I'm surprised we haven't run across each other before."
"We might have," she replied. "I think you look familiar."
The car stopped on twelve. Loren used a passcard to open the door to his firm's suite. He headed for his desk and picked up his briefcase.
"This is your office?" she asked.
"Yes -- my own little cubby."
"Nice ... At least you have a window ... with a view." She regarded the nameplate on his desk. "Loren Bronson."
"That's me." He opened a drawer and handed her a business card. She opened her bag and took out a small, silver case. This she opened and deposited his card inside; then she handed him one of hers.
"Abrielle Toussaint," he said, "it's a neat name. Pleased to meet you."
"My friends call me Abby," she said. "You can call me Bree. That's what my close friends call me."
"You're putting me in with your close friends?"
"After tonight I think I know more about you than I do of some of my close friends," she replied.
Loren felt himself blushing. "I'm so sorry -- I spent the whole time talking about myself and my problems ... my failed relationship."
"That's okay, Loren. There was something disarming about a guy talking to a stranger about his lost love ... something non-threatening."
"I'm going to call you Abrielle," he said, "because I like how it sounds."
"Okay ... fine with me. It is my name."
He regarded her card some more. "Toussaint ... French?"
"Oui," she replied.
"Oui, aussi. I was born there. We immigrated here when I was little. We're naturalized citizens, now."
"Naturalized ... I wonder how that word was coined. It's as if there was something unnatural about you when you came ashore ... and you underwent some procedure to correct it." He examined her head.
"What are you looking for?" she asked.
"Where they drilled the hole ... to naturalize you."
She laughed. "I assure you it was not at all painful."
"Are you bilingual?"
"Oui", she replied again. "English is my second language."
"You don't have a trace of an accent. That's the advantage of learning a language young. I'm envious, Abrielle. I love the French language -- I took seven years of it, starting in sixth grade. I don't have a chance to practice it so I'm not as fluent as I'd like to be. I read it well but I get lost in conversation." He gestured toward the door and they rode together to the Westmar lobby. Off to the side was another elevator to the parking structure. "You do look French, Abrielle -- the shape of your face and your features. I think you look a bit like Ludivine Sangier."
"Like Ludivine Sangier? I'm flattered, Loren. I'm also astonished that you even know of her."
"I think your nose looks like hers. Your nose looks like it came from France."
"I think it looks like it came from Rome," she replied. "She's much prettier than I am."
"I see a definite resemblance." He called for the elevator to the garage. "I'm on five." He pressed the button for his floor. The elevator stopped and she walked with him to his reserved parking stall.
Loren unlocked a silver Hyundai Sonata. Abrielle sat in the passenger seat. "Nice car," she remarked. "What year?"
"It's a 2004," he replied as he turned the key. Loren regarded the time on the dashboard. "It's early -- just past six. Are you interested in dinner?"
"I'm interested. Where can we find a table on a Friday night without reservations?"
"We can try Erich's. I've been seated there on a Friday night."
"But, it's so expensive," she replied.
"It doesn't have to be. They have some reasonably-priced items."
Loren backed out of his stall and drove through the structure to the street. "There must be some good to have come from your separation," Abrielle remarked.
"Hmmm ... Food. Now I can eat what I like."
"You couldn't before?"
"Ginger had some sort of digestive disorder -- a hiatial hernia I think it was called. It got worse as she got older. She had to give up spicy food."
"I love spicy food," she remarked.
"And, she got on a whole-grain kick. No white rice, no white bread, no pasta..."
"I love all of those," she said.
"No potatoes. Our diet became rather monotonous -- alternating chicken, pork and beef with brown rice and steamed vegetables."
"You called yourself chief cook and bottle-washer," she said. "What's your favorite meal to prepare?"
"My favorite ... it's curried chicken skewers with coconut rice."
"That sounds wonderful."
"It's really easy, too..." He turned toward her. "I have an idea. Instead of Erich's, why don't we stop at a grocery and get the ingredients. We can go to your place and I'll cook dinner."
"My place isn't very presentable, I'm afraid."
"We'll go to my place, then." He pondered a moment. "I wouldn't do anything unwelcome, Abrielle."
"I feel at complete ease with you, Loren. I like your suggestion."
Loren carried a paper sack into his kitchen. Abrielle placed a six-pack of beer into his refrigerator. "This is a cute house," she remarked.
"It's surrounded by subdivision -- what was the family farm. It's not part of the subdivision, so the subdivision bylaws don't apply. That's why there's a bigger back yard and a detached garage."
"It's charming. I love older homes."
Loren began unpacking the sack of groceries. "We'll start with the rice," he said. "It's real simple -- substitute coconut milk for the water." He opened a can and dumped it into a pan and set it on the burner.
"Can I help?" she asked.
"Maybe you could cut up the onion, peppers and zucchini into chunks to go on the skewers. I'll make the marinade. That's real simple, too -- some yogurt, ginger, garlic and curry powder."
Loren cut chicken breasts into cubes and coated them with the yogurt mixture. He glanced at the saucepan and saw it was boiling. Into it he dumped rice, lowered the heat and covered the pan.
"This is the messy bit," he said as he began threading the coated chicken and the vegetables onto skewers. "Under the broiler and that's it."
"My stomach is growling," she said. "If you'll excuse me."
"I'll keep an eye on things."
Loren took plates from a cabinet and set them on the kitchen table. With tongs he turned the skewers under the broiler and checked the rice.
"Abrielle," he called. The front door was ajar. He opened it and saw her standing on the stoop smoking a cigarette. "There you are."
"I'm sorry -- I needed a smoke before dinner. I'll be a more civil table mate without fighting nicotine cravings." She put the cigarette to her lips, drew in a deep breath and held it. "I know it's a nasty habit and I am trying to cut down."
"So you said."
She took a final, deep draw and then stepped on the butt. "I will try your suggestion."
Abrielle followed him inside. He plated their dinners and opened two bottles of beer.
"This is delicious," she said. "It's as good as anything from a restaurant."
"It's my favorite ... and it's been years since I've made it." He glanced at the ceiling. "You know ... Now that I can eat whatever I want ... I don't want to. Why go to the trouble if I can't share it with someone who appreciates it."
"I agree -- and I do appreciate it, Loren."
Loren carried his plate to the counter. "There's a bit left. Care for seconds?"
"I hate dealing with leftovers."
Abrielle brought him her plate and he divided what was left between them. "This is so good. I love good food..." She ran her hands along her hips. "I think you can tell."
"I don't think you're overweight," he said and winced. "I mean ... I think you're well proportioned."
"Well proportioned. That's a compliment I haven't heard before. I've heard full figured, rubenesque, big-boned..." She rolled her eyes in thought. "Zaftig, curvaceous, voluptuous, pleasingly plump..."
"I wouldn't call you plump," he replied.
"I've never heard well proportioned."
"You're a big girl, Abrielle, no doubt," he replied. "I like how you look."
"I'm pleased, Loren. I'm teasing you a bit. I know how I am and I'm not sensitive about it."
"I'll make some coffee," he said. "How about an after-dinner drink?"
"What did you have in mind?"
"Do you like anise?"
"I love it."
"Then I'll make my favorite after-dinner drink. It's called a fourth degree."
"I've never heard of it."
"I found the recipe in a book on classic cocktails. It came from a Waldorf-Astoria menu from 1915. It's like a martini except with sweet vermouth instead of dry and with a dash of absinthe."
"Absinthe? I thought that was illegal."
"It's been legal for a few years ... some formulations are legal, at least." Loren filled his coffee maker and switched it on. "I'll make the drinks while that perks."
He carried some ice into his living room. From his liquor cabinet he removed some bottles, a shaker and glasses. Abrielle regarded his bottle of absinthe. She removed the stopper and sniffed it. "Wow -- that is anise."
Loren combined the ingredients with ice and strained it into glasses. "Have a seat. I'll get the coffee."
Abrielle sat on his sofa, her legs crossed. He regarded her as he carried two mugs of coffee. She wore a gray skirt, sheer black hose and a sheer, white blouse over a camisole. Her shoulders were broad, her bosom ample, her hips wide and her legs full but shapely.
He handed her the mug. "Thanks," she said and sipped from it.
"The drink pairs well with the coffee," he said.
She picked up the glass and examined it. "Pretty golden color," she remarked and sipped it. "That is tasty."
"Let me guess -- someone didn't care for anise."
"That's right. It's a treat, sharing it with someone."
"I'm enjoying myself, Loren. I feel a bit like Cinderella. I don't get out much."
"We'll get you home before you turn into a pumpkin."
Abrielle turned to face him. She drew her left ankle up and behind her right knee. Loren made deep eye contact with her and gazed into her clear, blue eyes. She moistened her lips with her tongue and then sipped some more of the drink.
He regarded her legs and scanned her body. His heart began to pound as he considered how to phrase what he wanted to say. He placed his hand on her knee and she placed her hand on his. "Abrielle -- would you be at all interested in continuing this conversation upstairs?"
Her breathing grew more shallow and rapid. She licked her lips again. "I'm interested."
"I don't want you to draw the wrong conclusion," he said. "This isn't something I normally do very ... ever. It's just ... I'm getting vibes from you and I hope I'm not misreading them."
"You're not. I'm reading vibes from you, too ... and this isn't something I do, either."
He drained his glass. "Would you like another drink?"
She emptied hers. "Please."
"We can take them upstairs."
"Loren -- I would like to freshen up a bit first ... wash my face..."
"Sure. I'll show you the bathroom."
He led her upstairs. "You should find everything." He opened a cabinet. "Here's a fresh toothbrush."
"Thanks. I really am pretty low-maintenance."
"I get that about you."
Loren stepped into his closet. He returned with a flannel robe and handed it to her. "Here -- it's one of mine -- not very feminine but it should fit. I'll go make the drinks."
"Loren -- before this gets out of hand ... You do have protection?"
"Yes," he replied. "There was a time when we were off the pill. I'm sure we have some left over."
"I won't be long." She closed the door to the bathroom.