She had toiled up this lonely dirt road for quite a while, enjoying the work of the hike. Janice Warren was, to be sure, an enthusiastic hiker. She liked nothing more on these periodic days off than to get out, find a rural or hardly used road and hike it, watching where it would go. She had been slowly working over this very area for a while, and finally had gotten to this road, which looked as thought it would lead to a kind of a mountain. The area had once been littered with mines and she was wondering if she might find such a little higher up on the road. Nor was she dumb enough, she said to herself often enough, to go into any such abandoned mines alone. No, her purpose, if she found any such landscape features, was to film them. Amateur photography was her hobby, second only to her passion for hiking. She swung along the road, a gradual uphill at this point, using the thud of her large bamboo hiking staff as the rhythm maker in her stride. She was enjoying herself.
Janice was 27 years old and had only lived here in the 'valley' for about 4 months, since she'd taken the job with the management consultant firm. She'd moved here from a pr kind of job, enticed by the beauty of the area and the challenge of a new area that she was educated for but hadn't had a lot of experience with, although she'd found herself, in these months, fitting in well and adjusting to the demands of the job well also. She liked it, liked the people that she worked with, and had the respect of the boss for the job that she was doing.
Janice was the widow of a soldier killed in action in Afghanistan. It was really only much after the death of her Hal that she'd blossomed out, determined, as she'd been to not let the blues totally defeat her and close in on her living. They'd had an apartment and had only been married a short while, when he had to go for his stint.
Janice worked at not letting those remembrances invade her psyche and cause her problems or sap her of her motivation. Her main education for the kind of jobs that she had been doing and was now doing came only after Hal's death, and they had been the road out of the darkness for her.
For that time period, the very dark time period, following the announcement by the army that Hal, her explosives expert husband, had been killed working to defuse a bomb, was only made bearable by her wonderful Mom and her quiet but loving Dad. They'd been her rock in those days. She left the apartment and went back to live with them and it took a while to sort herself and her life out. But with their encouragement, she did it, and now was pleased with her job and her life in general.
Janice was tall, like her Dad and what would be called 'well formed', much like her Mom. She didn't dress sexy, or try to flaunt herself, that wasn't her style but she had arrived at a point where she was at home with herself. The possibility of 'dating' or anything like that was still a little out in the future for her. She was sure of that. But she didn't let it bother her. She had dwelt for a time period on the memories of her love for Hal and his tender reciprocation of that love. It was, for the time being, enough for her.
She had certainly had some overtures for dates but had only been consistent in telling those interested that she wasn't really ready for that yet. She'd said it enough that she was in a time of peace with herself. She knew that the other stuff would, could come in the future.
And today she was simply having a glorious day, having found this old abandoned road leading into the hills.
It was precisely then that she saw the dog.
One of Janice's quirks that she had in fact never really dealt with was her fear of dogs. As a girl she'd gone from her parents' home to her grandma's a number of times. She had to pass a house where they kept hounds and the dogs were constantly barking and jumping at the fences, when she passed by. They always made her nervous.
One day, of course, the gate was left open. She got to that part of the walk home and simply stared. She knew what was going to happen. It did. The hounds came pelting out of the gate after her and before she could properly react, one of them had grabbed the pant leg of her jeans and began to worry it, tearing it up the seam until it had split almost up to her pockets.
She remembered the scene and she remembered her wailing, her fright and panic. She was rescued after what seemed like hours but in reality was only moments and had gone home to her Mom crying for all she was worth.
As usual, her Mom and Dad were her advocates and took care of contacting the people, who were indeed contrite and promised that no such event would ever occur again. They even went so far as to pay to replace the jeans that had been destroyed by the dogs.
So here she was on this abandoned road, which suddenly seemed to not be as abandoned as she thought. There was a huge German shepherd sitting by the side of the road, not quite opposite where she was. It was staring at her. No tail wag; no sign of friendliness. Only sitting and staring, apparently waiting for Janice to make the next move, and she, at the moment, didn't know what move that was; didn't know what she was going to do next.
Then she heard the voice; a man's voice calling loudly "Tristan! Hey"
The dog's ears went up and he looked to the side, where a man emerged from the bushes. He seemed to be, if Janice was any judge of ages, about 40 or so.
(In fact John Beresford was, at that point, exactly 40. He was 6'2" and weighed a solid 200 lbs. He was fit, and was the owner of the German Shepherd 'Tristan'.)
"Ohhh," John said, emerging from the bushes. "Tristan, what have you done, cornering this lovely lady?"
Janice smiled at him and said softly: "I'm afraid of dogs."
"Well," he went on, "I'll just have to show you that Tristan is no one to be afraid of. He was just concerned about someone coming up on our hill."
"Your hill?" she said, the truth beginning to sink in.
"Yes," he said, smiling, "This is our property. That is, it's mine and Tristan's."
"But the road?" she asked.
"Ours," he said, still smiling, "Not on the county plats at all; it's one that I had put in myself."
"Ohhhhhh," she said, "I'm so sorry. I love hiking and thought that I'd found an interesting abandoned road to kind of explore."
"Until my faithful watch dog came out," he said, his smile widening.
"Now watch." he went on, and turning to Tristan said "Here!"
Tristan's ears went up and he trotted over to where John was standing. "Sit!" John went on with the dog, who obeyed instantly.
Then John turned to Janice and said, holding out his hand, "Im John Beresford."
"Janice Warren," she said, but was now getting a sinking feeling but John went on before she could process the feeling.
"Here's the word you need," he told her the word, it was a German word and once she used it, Tristan began to wag his tail and rub up against her, inviting her to stroke his lovely coat of fur. It almost sounded, from her point of view, like a growl, since she didn't know German well but it seemed to work.
"You just use that with him and he's your friend for life," John said.
"Well, I guess I should be going," she said, "I apologize for disturbing your peace and trespassing on your land."
"Nonsense," Johns said, "There is an old abandoned mine up there and the remnants of some miners' shacks to boot."
"Ohh," she said now with some enthusiasm. "Might I wander up there and see it?"
"Sure," he said, "Please be careful."
"I promise that I will," she went on. "I won't be long."
"Well, if you will," John said, "Since you'll be passing by our lair, Tristan and I'd love to have you stop for coffee or tea."
Janice blushed. "I don't know if I should do that, Mr Beresford."
"Well, if you don't wish to..." he began but she put her hand up in the air and said:
"I work for Coates and Worley," she said, "And I know now who you are and I don't want you thinking that I planned to break in on you just when you have an appointment with us to discuss using us for some of your management work."
He laughed. "I guess old Hal Coates might have a conniption! But Tristan and I insist. You enjoy yourself, and stop for coffee on the way back down the road."
"Thank you, Mr Beresford," she began but he held up a hand and said: "It's John, please."
"Thank you, John," she said and turning to the dog, still wagging its tail and regarding her, "And thank you, Tristan." she said, stoking the fur on the dog's head, as she spoke.
She went ahead with her hike up to the top of the small mountain. On the way she passed a lovely and huge log cabin styled house. She figured it was John and Tristan's."
She explored the cabins and the entrance to the abandoned mine and took a fair amount of photos there before she was finished. Then she did turn herself toward the walk down the mountain. She'd decided that he was nice enough that she would indeed stop in for a cup of coffee or tea. She also was hoping to get to know the dog a bit more. It seemed at least possible to her that having a positive kind of meeting with a dog like Tristan might just help her old fears.
Tristan was out on the porch, when she came swinging down the road. He barked once and she used the German word. Instantly the dog bounded off of the porch and went running to her side, wagging it's tail, it's tongue hanging out and pushing against her for some attention.
John came out on the porch of the house and said: "Looks like someone has made a fast friend."
"I guess," she said, grinning at him and scratching the wiggling dog behind the ears.
"Well, come in and rest a bit; coffee or tea?" he asked.
"Coffee," she said, "And it's so nice of you."
"Yes, though Hal might not think so," he said but laughed and held up his hand and went on: "I'm just joking with you."
She wasn't sure about the joke though, or her boss' reaction to her being there. But she found that she felt at home with the very attractive man and his lovely dog, Tristan.
"So," she said sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee: "Tristan?"
He laughed. "I am an incurable fan of Wagner--not the man or his politics or ethnic nonsense but his musical genius. I'm simply at home with four or five hours of German musical 'sturm und drang'. So, the name for the dog was a natural, since I really did hesitate to name him 'Siegfried' or 'Sigmund'.
"No," she replied, laughing "Tristan seems just fine."
"Do you like Wagner, opera?" he asked, companionably.
"Not much experience with it, I'm afraid," she said, "I find my taste runs to all sorts of music, except some far out blue grass and rap. Otherwise, I love to be surrounded by music," she said, in an almost breathless tone of voice.
"Oh, yes," he said, "That's the way that I feel about music also. I'll have to introduce you to some opera sometime. Game?"
"Sure, why not," she said happily, "After all, you've already improved, nay changed my view of dogs."
She laughed then and said: "And probably cost me my job!"
They both laughed at that but he put up his hand: "No, Hal Coats isn't that stupid to take a bright woman like you and hold a chance meeting against you. Besides, if he does, I'll buy his company and then fire him or maybe just hire you myself."
"My rescuer!" she said and raised her coffee cup for a toast.
"So, how long have you lived out here?" she asked.
"Oh, well," he answered, "This place is as much for Tristan as for me. I mean, we do have a condo in the city in one of the apartment buildings that I own."
He hesitated then and said: "Sorry, uh, Janice, you see, I treat what's called 'my wealth' very casually. I've worked super hard to accumulate it but the main point for me has always been the challenge. It's just that the challenge of getting it has made me fairly causal about having it. I'm not trying to impress or anything like that."
She was pleased by what he said and answered: "No, John, I'm sure you're not and I don't mind the references at all; I mean to the apartment building."
He smiled then and said: "Well, anyhow, Tristan and I have a super grand apartment on the top floor of one of my buildings in the city. We come out here to stretch our legs, and be almost totally alone. Except when pretty hikers trespass on our property!"
She put her hand over her mouth and giggled then.
"But," he went on, "That rarely happens because old Tristan is on the watch."
"Yes," she said in response, "Getting ready to wag the intruder to death!"
"I see you've gotten the hang of it with him," he said smiling.
"Well, truth to tell," she went on, "His being so nice has helped me already a great deal with an old, old fear of mine for dogs."
"Hmmm," he said.
Then without pausing, she went into the story of her as a young girl and the dogs that got out of the gate and at her.
"Yes," he said, "That'll do it. But I really think that some time with someone like Tristan will also help to cure the problem."
"Well, it seems to be working," she said.
"Well," he said, as she made her thanks and got up to go, "I'd ask you to dinner but we don't want to give Hal the fits any more than he's going to have."
She laughed, "Yep, I might be on the dole by this time next week."
"I do have a meeting with Hal and your team on Thursday," he said. "Hope to see you there."
"Well, they do include me but I'm still at a 'seen and not heard' kind of stage with them. At least that's how it's been," she explained.
"Too bad," he said, "One of my attributes is to judge people and the way that they can work. It's a fairly infallible trait with me and I know how much of a help you would be. They will come to understand that."
"And," he continued, as he walked her off of the porch, "Let me give you this small piece of advice. Don't tell him. Let them find out, if they will. It might even be fun!"
She grinned at him: "You are trying to get me fired!"
"Not at all," he said, "It might be fun to play with Hal a bit."
"Play with the boss a bit," she said, shaking her head, "Boy does that sound like a recipe for disaster!"
"We'll see," he said, then he got a strange look on his face and went on:
"And, if you will allow me, I think that I'd like to get together with you again; I'd like to know you better."
She blushed and said: "I'd like that."
"Good! It's settled," he said confidently, "Next Saturday?"
"Yes," she said, "By then I'll have all sorts of free time, what with me being fired and all!"
She was giggling out loud by the end of the sentence, and he joined her in the laugh.
Just as she was about to go down the path then, she turned to him with a certain amount of determination and, putting her arms around his neck, kissed his cheek.
Tristan was there immediately, joining in the hug. She bent down then and kissed Tristan on the head too.
"Lovely," she said, "Both of you!"
"Thank you from me and Tristan," he said.
There was a twinkle in his eye then and he said: "Going to watch you walk down the walk now!"
"Don't you dare make me feel self-conscious!" she said with mock anger but then grinned at him and swung her hips in an even wider arc, as she walked away, stopping once to smile at him over her shoulder.
She stopped at the road and called back to him: "Sorry to trespass!"
"Trespass any time!" he said, "Tristan and I are always home to friends."
"Thanks," she said, "See you Thursday; mum is the word. And I'm going to take you up on your offer about opera."
"Lovely," he said.
"Yes," she agreed.
"No, I meant you!" he said then and she giggled as she made her way down the road.
"Well, isn't he nice, Mr John Beresford!" she said. "Hope the crap doesn't hit the fan at work because I met him before our meeting."
She went to the meeting room; the staff had been buzzing about the meeting for a few days now, indeed for most of the week. It looked like a huge plum contract for the company, and there was speculation about who would handle the account. Most of the inside figuring was that it would be handled by one of the senior staff members, if not Mr Coates himself.
She had surprised herself that morning by being nervous about what she was going to wear. She did have a new business suit, an off grey that she liked. It featured a skirt that was fashionably short and tight across the butt. She liked that about it also. She wore a burgundy blouse with a front frill to top off the business suit and went to the meeting, taking a seat in the back of the circle of staff members, nervous.
John Beresford entered the room with the big boss, Mr Coates. He took the time to introduce him all around, and at least at this point in the meeting, John didn't let on that he already knew Janice, though she thought that she detected a kind of twinkle in his eye, when he was introduced to her.
They spent the first part of the meeting time discussing the strategy that the staff had come up with regarding the needs of Beresford Industries. They had all worked on the plan and it was very familiar to all of them.
After listening to the presentation, John Beresford reacted:
"Hal," he began with a smile, "I like the way the presentation looks at our management designs and what we might do to improve those designs."
He hesitated a moment then, already Hal Coates was smiling.
"I came alone today because I frankly wanted to get a sense of what you thought that you could do for us, before going to any of the rest of my staff with the proposition."
Hal Coates nodded his understanding.
"Having said that," John went on, "I like what you've done here enough that I think that we can take this to the next level."
He paused then and Hal Coates spoke up: "John, I'm pleased to hear that; we've worked on this as a team, and are all up to speed with our designs and what could be done with them."
"Then we have a kind of agreement," John said.
"Yes," Hal agreed smiling.
"I, we, have only one caveat," John said.
"Not unusual," Hal said, "After all we're talking here about what's best for your business interests and you know best what you might want."
"Good," John said, "What I want is to pick my own management consultant from among your group."
There was a stir in the group then. This was fairly unforeseen. But again Hal Coates nodded:
"Very easily done," he said, and John smiled.
"You see," John said, "I have already met one of your team members and was sufficiently impressed that I had made my decision to accept your designs before I entered."
Hal Coates smiled and glanced around the room. The staff was now buzzing, for no one knew who John Beresford was speaking about.
"Good then, Hal, I want to work with Janice Warren."
The room got silent.
Hal Coates then proved what a professional he was; he said: "John, good choice; I know that any member of our staff would be able to work with you on the designs that we have presented. It's going to be a treat working with you."
The staff applauded. Janice blushed. John winked at her, when everyone was looking at her.
They rose to get up then but Hal asked Janice if she'd stay a minute. She did but was still nervous.
She put out her hand to John Beresford, as he approached with a smiling Hal Coates.
"Mr Beresford," she said, "It's nice to see you again."
He smiled at her and said: "Tristan sends his love!"
Janice blushed, and said: "Yes, greetings from the world's greatest dog!"
"I'm going to leave you two to work out how you want to begin your collaboration," Hal said. Then to Janice: "When you get a chance, Janice, stop by my office."
"Yes, Hal," she said with a smile.
When Hal was gone, John said to her:
"You okay, pal?"
He spoke to her as though he'd known her a long time; yet, she realized that the way he spoke was a true indication of a relationship between them that had begun well and was already to the 'friends' stage.
"I almost peed myself!' she said and clapped her hand over her mouth, as soon as she'd said it.
He laughed, and said: "I might pay money to have seen that!"
She giggled again. Then said: "Sorry!"
"No you're not," he said, "You're still giggling about it!"
"You're terrible," she said.
"Hey," he protested, "We just hired your firm."
"You're still terrible!" she said.
"Got me in one!' he agreed.
"Well then," he went on next, "How about lunch and we'll talk about how to implement all of this."
"Fine," she said, "Where?"
"I was thinking of subs at the apartment, so that your best canine friend can get a chance to see you again," he said.
"Oh, I'd like that!" she remarked, and it was all that she could do to keep from kissing him. She felt that she was on a high with all of this: meeting and liking Tristan, meeting and really liking John Beresford, being picked to work with the Beresford account. It was all a whirl.
"I'll come for you at about 11:30?" he asked.
"Fine," she said, "I'll be ready."
He left then, after giving her a quick hug.
"I wasn't going to leave without at leas that!" he said.
"Thank you for the hug!" she said, smiling as he walked away.
She knocked on Hal Coates' door and he called 'come in'.
"Sorry, Hal!" she said but her waved her away.
"You almost single handedly delivered a huge new account to this firm. There are no sorries here. As a matter of fact, we're going to take a percentage of that fat fee from them and raise your salary with it," he said smiling at her.
"I'm gonna kiss you!" she proclaimed, as she crossed the room and grabbed him for a kiss.
Lunch With a Man and His Dog
He was there for her precisely on time. He was driving a light blue jaguar.
"Oh," she said, running her hands over the seats, "I really like this car."
"One of my indulgences!" he said. "I really don't have that many."
"But this is such a nice one," she said.
"Yes," he said, smiling at her.
They went for subs to a subway and took the subs back to his apartment. It was a big and gorgeous as he had indicated that it would be. This time Tristan greeted Janice with no need for the German word first.
"Getting to be one of my pal's favorites!" he said.
She grinned at him, while busying herself with scratching Tristan behind the ears.
"He's so nice!" she said.
"Actually," John then explained, "He's very finicky."
"Ohh," she said, looking pleased.
Instead of the intended start on the business stuff, he took time to talk to her about himself and his life. How he'd lost his wife to cancer after they had been married for five years. It left her with tears in her eyes. He noticed.
Then it was her turn. She spoke of the death of Hal in Afghanistan.
"It seemed like such a waste!" she said.
"Yes, I know," he agreed.
"We hardly had time to begin or anything," she said then.
He waited for her. She did continue:
"I kind of buried that part of me right then, and have not thought about it or looked at it, any of it, any of that romantic urge stuff..." she hesitated then but finally continued what she was saying: "Until now!"
"John," she said earnestly, "I need you to be honest with me in this; I know that I'm acting like an adolescent but I need to have fair warning if I'm about to make a fool of myself."
"Well," he said, "Tristan, with the best taste in the world, has already selected you, and that's a pretty good recommendation to me."
She followed her instincts then and kind of launched herself at him for an actual kiss. The kiss was soft at first and then got steamy as it was ending.
"Wow!" he said. "I thought that you put off your romantic stuff."
"Yes," she said smiling, "But it's re-emerging now."
"I guess!" he said.
"But what about you and me and the business?" she asked. "Should we maybe not be working together, if our hormones are getting in the way."
"No," he said decisively, "We'll take time out now and again to do some work!"
She giggled. "You are, as usual, terrible!"
"But from the feel of that kiss," he said innocently, "You are probably very good!"
She whooped! "You're trying to make me ... I don't know what!"
"It's working then," he said grinning.
"I don't know what to do now, John," she said. "I don't know if I should take my clothes off or if I should talk about work or what."
He leaned into her and kissed her: "Here's what I think. I like the impulse to take our clothes off but let's let that grow for a number of days. That will make it that much more special, when it happens. Not because I don't want that now but because it'll be a world changing event, when it happens."
"Oh, yes," she said and kissed him again.
"Work now?" he said.
"Work now!" she agreed. She saw Tristan eyeing her, as she sat on the sofa.
"Pat the sofa," he said, "Then he knows that he can sit up there with you."
She did as he told her and the big dog jumped up and sat down next to her, putting his head in her lap.
"Pal for life!" she said.
"Told you," John explained, "He has already chosen."
They were about to go on to discuss the work items and he had another thought:
"Say, about Saturday's dinner; I can get tickets for the opera. You game?"
"Oh," she said, "What are they doing? Not that I'd recognize it."
"Magic Flute," he said, "Mozart is a good place to begin."
"I'd love to," she said, "What shall I wear?"
"Well, I'll wear a black suit and tie," he said, "Not completely formal."
"Lovely," was her next statement, "It gives me something to work with."
They had a long discussion then about his business concerns. He was extremely pleased with her knowledge and her ability to work with him on the designs for his management concerns that her company was bringing to the table.
All the while they were talking, she was idly stroking Tristan's head and scratching his ears.
"I think the big guy's in love," he said and shocked her.
She thought at first that he meant himself. She reddened immediately, when she realized her mistake. He realized it at the same time.
"Sorry," he said, "Didn't mean to make you blush."
"It's me," she said, "This is being a life changing thing for me in many ways. I have to call my Mom."
He raised an eyebrow and she smiled and said:
"Best friend actually. I talk to her about things. This is one of those."
"Can I inquire without being indelicate?" he asked.
"Oh, yes," she said. "I've spent all these years determined to be 'true' Hal, and have been fairly fierce about it. No branching out; no dates; nothing. It's been a time of building a career, and I have been content with that. Then I met your dog and it's all kind of upset my apple cart, so to speak."
She paused as he just watched her and Tristan looked up at her.
"I don't even know what I'm saying here," she said almost mournfully.
He moved over to the couch where she and Tristan were sitting and kissed her on the forehead.
"Time is what Tristan and I can give you," he said.
She held onto his arm then, putting her head on his shoulder, and said a quiet: "Thank you."
Janice and Momma
She did call her Mom that evening. Rachel, her Mom, could tell immediately from Janice's tone of voice that something was bothering her.
"Tell me, honey," Rachel said.
"Oh, Momma," Janice began, "I've met someone, and I don't know what to do about it."
"Tell me about it, dear," Rachel said, and Janice went on to explain to her Mom the way that she met John Beresford and Tristan.
"Lovely about the dog," Rachel said, once the story had been told.
"Yes," Janice agreed, "It helps me out with my dog thing, you know, so much."
"But what about the man?" Rachel asked next, getting to the heart of the matter.
"That's it, Momma," she said, "Am I being unfaithful to Hal with this?"
"My love," Rachel said with all the care and concern of a mother in her voice, "You are not; it's time for you to simply be true to yourself."
"Oh, that's what I think," Janice said, when her Mom was finished. "I guess that I just needed to hear it from someone else."
"So, what about the opera?" Rachel said.
"Need a dress maybe," Janice said.
"We'll go to Kleckner's," Rachel answered,"And find something earth shattering for you."6
"Oh, that would be nice," Janice answered with enthusiasm.
They had the outing, which included lunch and the woman's shop that they favored. Janice ended up with a white silk cocktail dress. It was clingy. It molded itself to her breasts very nicely, emphasizing the lovely largeness of Janice there. It also clung to her hips and butt.
"My, my," Rachel said, seeing the way that Janice looked. "Siren!"
Janice giggled and hugged her Mom.
She was nervous on Saturday, as the time approached for John to pick her up.
John rang the doorbell of Janice's apartment and was surprised that a strange woman answered. He recovered instantly and said:
"Don't tell me; you're Mom?"
Rachel smiled and said: "Yes, that's who I am."
John took her hand and kissed it: "I can see where Janice gets her loveliness from."
"Why thank you," Rachel said.
"John?" Janice called from the next room.
"Just making time with your lovely Mom!" John said.
"Watch out," Janice said, "Dad used to be a career Marine."
"Oops," John said, "I spent my time in the corps also!"
"Well you two would hit it off, I guess," Rachel said then. "But I have to warn you about what is going to happen now."
"Momma!" Janice said plaintively.
Rachel winked at John and said: "She's gorgeous tonight!"
"Both I and Tristan would agree on that one," John said.
"Yes," Rachel answered, "I've heard about your lovely dog."
"Janice's lifelong buddy!" was his comment but then he stopped talking, when Janice entered the room.
He was simply struck. He smiled at her and then smiled at Rachel. He said to Rachel:
"You are now seeing what is called a captain of industry reduced to a simpering teen aged boy by the beauty of your daughter."
Rachel laughed a loud and full laugh and said: "I thought so!"
He went to Janice then and she smiled and simply went into his arms.
"Oh, you are gorgeousness itself!" he said.
She smiled at him and thanked him, as she backed away for a moment. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small blue felt covered case.
"Brought you this," he said, "To celebrate your first opera."
It was a diamond bracelet. She made a small squeal, as he put it on and then showed her Mom.
"Are you staying over, Rachel?" he asked.
She cocked an eyebrow and said: "Are you asking my permission to spend the night with my daughter?"
"Momma!" Janice wailed but John grinned at Rachel and said:
"Something like that! It's because I promised Tristan that I'd bring her back home after the opera."
"Blarney master!" Rachel said and laughed. "She's still delicate, please keep that in mind."
Janice blushed but John nodded and went to give Rachel a hug.
"Enjoy your evening, children," Rachel said, as she put on her coat, got her purse and went for the door.
Janice gave her a hug and kiss, as she left.
"Love your Mom!" John said immediately.
"She a class act," Janice said then.
He turned his attention to her then and said: "And you are blindingly beautiful! You fill the entire world for me looking that way."
"Good for me!" she said.
"No, good for us!" was his next comment.
"The Magic Flute?" he said.
"Yes," she said to him, "And I have my pjs."
"Have?" he asked.
She giggled and said: "Don't wear any!"
"Wicked woman!" he said then.
"Be nice to me or I'll tell Tristan," she said.
"Oops, got me there!" was his comment.
The Opera and After
The opera was a huge success. Janice's introduction to opera with Mozart was stunning. She loved it: the music, the visuals, the singing. She loved all of it. She applauded enthusiastically at every opportunity.
When it was over and the curtain calls were coming to an end, she turned and kissed John on the cheek:
"Helping me with dogs and now opera, you're like a magus for me! I love it."
He smiled and said: "You put that so nicely. Stop for a drink before home?"
"Yes, nice," she said.
They stopped at a lounge on the top of one of the taller buildings, an upscale condo building. The bar was a fairly famous one in the city. John was greeted by name, when they entered.
"Hmm," Janice said, "So they know you here?" (She was teasing him a bit.)
"Yes," he replied, "I own it."
"Ohhhhh," was all that she could manage. She recovered, once they'd sat down and she said to him: "You take some getting used to."
"I know," he said, "Sorry to state that so baldly; I sometimes don't know how to get to those kinds of topics. And speaking of topics, how did your talk with your Mom turn out?"
"Oh," she said, "She's such a pal. Let me tell you."
She went on then to tell him about her talk with her Mom about Hal and the whole issue.
She told him then about her conclusion: "I think it's just time for me now; I've been truthful and faithful to his memory, and I won't lose that; I know."
"Wouldn't want you to," he said softly, putting his hand over hers.
"I feel so, I don't know, warm, I guess, about what's going on between us," she said. "I'm not expressing it very well."
"You're expressing it just fine," he said. "Ready for home and Tristan?" he asked.
"Oh, yes," she said, giving him a huge smile. "I have my pjs already."
"So you've said," he remarked. "Giving this turned on boy wicked thoughts!"
"Goodie!" she said.
She got earnest for a moment and said: "John, I need you to know, need to say to you that I am really, have been really content with my life, it's style, what I have and what I've earned. It's that I'm, uh, not in this, that is interested in you for, you know, you're ... uh..."
"I know that," he said. "It's a part of who I am but it's not the important thing just now. We can talk about that at some other time. Right now it's much more important for me to get to know you; to get closer to you."
She smiled as he leaned across the table toward her and said: "And to see you without that lovely dress on."
She took the opportunity to kiss him, when his face was so near.
"So, you don't have anything to wear to bed tonight?" he said, grinning.
"Wrong!" she said, "I have my new bracelet!"
"Can't wait to see that!" he said.
"Then let's go, big guy," she said, "There is a package to unwrap here."
From the lounge they went to his apartment. They were greeted at the door by a very enthusiastic Tristan. The very first thing that they did was to take Tristan out onto the large open air park that was situated just outside of John's apartment, at the top of the building.
"This is for Tristan," he said, "It's so much easier than having to take him down and find a place in the city to walk him."
"Oh, it's lovely," she said, smiling at the way that the dog was romping around, after doing his business.
"Now?" she asked.
"Dance?" he asked, "Some Sinatra?"
"Oh, I love Sinatra," she said, and they danced.
He was a good dancer.
She spoke up then: "John, I'm afraid that the dancing is going to wrinkle my dress. Please help me here."
She turned her back to him.
He merely smiled at her, as he unzipped the lovely white, silk frock down the back. She slipped it off, and folded it setting it nearby. Then she went back to the dance, wearing now white thigh highs, white nylon bikini panties and a lacy white bra.
"Mesmerizing!" he said.
"Getting closer to the real me!" she said.
The dog lay down and watched them dance. It was, all in all, a lovely scene.
They danced for a while, not really in a hurry to do anything further at that point, just enjoying the dancing.
"John," she said then, he looked at her and smiled.
"I'm afraid that the dancing is going to wrinkle my bra," she said with a mischievous smile.
She turned her back to him and he unhooked the bra, and gave it to her. She folded it and put it on top of the dress.
"Oh my!" he said.
She grinned at him as she held out her arms and wiggled her fingers for him to come back to her and dance.
"I'm sunk!" he said.
"Don't worry, big guy," she said, "Tristan and I will take care of you."
Tristan, hearing his name, woofed and John smiled and replied: "Oh, I hope so."
"John," she said, smiling broadly at him.
"Ohhhhhhhhh!" he groaned.
"Are you okay, honey?" she asked with concern filling her voice and a grin on her face.
"Yes, what is it you wanted?" he asked, knowing full well what was coming.
"Well, I'm afraid that the dancing is going to wrinkle my panties and stockings," she said, her grin now really, really broad.
"Of course," he said, kneeling right away and with a mesmerized look on his face, taking off the stockings and then pulling the panties down past her hips, ass and thighs and off, taking the opportunity to kiss her pubic mound in the process.
She folded them and put them with the other clothes, once again held out her arms and wiggled her fingers for him to come to her and dance.
"I like this, John," she said.
They danced the special dance, with her nakedness pressed against him, and his hands running up and down the middle of her bare back, just missing resting on or dealing with her butt each time.
"Lower please," she said softly.
He did; this time his hands gathered in the cheeks of her ass, squeezing and manipulating them.
John Beresford sighed:
"Janice, my wife, lovely wife died during childbirth along with the baby. There has been no time, I've taken no time, I've wanted no time for romance. I am so at sea here! You have wandered quietly into where I have had no inclination to allow any woman for well over ten years."