Accident Prone

by Marcia R. Hooper

Copyright© 2013 by Marcia R. Hooper

Romantic Sex Story: Mom is a klutz and intent on causing herself grievous bodily injury. Michael rescues her not once, but twice, with unexpected consequences.

Caution: This Romantic Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa   Consensual   Romantic   Reluctant   Incest   Mother   Son   .

Note to the reader: I wanted to write a realistic, romantic mother/son incest story with a strictly PG-13 rating. I'm happy with the results but readers not interested in a story without an explicit sex scene might want to avoid this one and move on to the next offering. I just wanted to be upfront about it and save readers grief.

AUGUST 20, 2011

It started the day Rachel Fleming almost blinded herself with drain cleaner. This was just after Michael's 18trh birthday, a Saturday afternoon, and he happened to be in the kitchen only by chance. A minute earlier or later, and Rachel would have suffered serious chemical burns, if not been disfigured. She was a klutz, almost painfully uncoordinated, and Michael had spent a good deal of his teenage years watching out for her. Especially over the last 14 months when there was nobody to perform that chore but him, and to a lesser degree, his 9 year old sister, Effie. Rachel was legally separated, pending a divorce.

"Be careful of that," Michael cautioned. Taking a break from lawn mowing and edge trimming, he was standing at the refrigerator contemplating a can of Coke or a glass of Mom's homemade lemonade. He disliked anything dangerous as Liquid Drano anywhere near his mother's grasp, or within spill range. "Why not let me do that," he scolded. "I didn't even know the drain was running slow. Which one is it?"

She hesitated, looking uncertainly into the side with the disposal and then at Michael, and then at the instructions on back.

Great, he thought caustically, about to pour acid down the drain and you haven't even read the directions. He tightened when she placed the open bottle at the edge of the counter and squat to look at the disposer, as if that would tell her anything. He'd just started forward, saying, "Mom, what are you looking for?" when she raised her head and banged it sharply on the opening, yelping and grabbing her head with one hand and the open door with the other. It was just enough vibration to upset the bottle and send it toppling over. "Mom!" he shouted, too late.

Two things happened: Rachel instinctively reached up and hunkered down, her head tilting forward reflexively. One act threatened to cause her terrible injury where the other probably saved her eyesight. Had the bottle simply fallen it would have been far less dangerous a situation. But Rachel's up thrust hand caught the bottle and instead of falling and hitting her back, the bottle lay on its side, gurgling the bulk of its contents onto the back of her head before Michael arrived and batted it into the sink. Rachel was screaming by then, on the verge of panic.

Michael slapped up the faucet and grabbed the sprayer and yanked it out to the full extent of the braided steel hose and forced Rachel's head back, shouting at her: "Eyes shut, Mom! Keep your eyes shut! Squeeze them as tight as you can!" He triggered the sprayer and blasted the Drano seeping onto her forehead back into her hair. "Keep your eyes closed!" he commanded, grabbing the bottle of Palmolive liquid and squirting a stream across her forehead.

"Scrub your face," he ordered. "Keep your head back while I get this out of your hair." Caring less about his hand, he concentrated the spray on her scalp and ran his fingers through her hair, forcing the Drano out and down her back. He realized what was happening even as she began to squirm from the chemical burning her skin. She was turned away from him and Michael instinctively reached down and grabbed the front of her shirt, spraying water sidewise across the kitchen. Apologizing, he ripped it open and yanked it back over her shoulders, buttons ricocheting off the front of the cabinet and out across the floor.

"Michael!" she cried in panic.

"Sorry, but you got to get out of this shirt!" He wrenched it down her arms, and flung it away and then sprayed her back and shoulders and then squirted detergent from one side to the other and worked it across her already reddening skin with his bare hand. He directed the spray into her hair sideways, making it run down her front rather than down her injured back. He made sure plenty of water followed the Drano and diluted it into near harmlessness. But he had another worry.

"You gotta get out of your jeans, Mom!"


Her jeans were sodden and Michael knew exactly what Drano soaked into the material would do to her down there. Squirting the rest of the Palmolive onto her hair, he hit it with the spray and then lathered it until her hair turned white with bubbles. Then he ran his hand down under her bra strap and side to side while directing the spray against her back. He could see where the straps had concentrated the liquid and burned welts into her skin. He ran his hand far enough around both sides to encounter her breasts. She reacted as any mother would.


"Sorry!" he exclaimed, laughing despite the circumstances. "I wasn't copping a feel, I swear I wasn't. Stand up. Get those jeans off." He directed the spray across her chest and down across her stomach. She was experiencing this entire thing blind, her face covered with bubbles. It took a moment, but she got the button unhooked and the zipper down and worked the jeans off her hips and down her thighs while Michael followed her progress with the sprayer. The important thing was to keep as much water flowing over her as possible. She would not like what he planned to do next.

"Turn around," he told her.

"Why?" She was scared and utterly helpless.

"You have to take off your panties, Mom."

"What?" she cried.

"I swear to you, Mom, your modesty is less important right now that what might be happening to you down there. Please don't make this worse than it already is."

Frustrated and humiliated, she turned and squirmed out of her panties and let them dropped into her jeans, bunched around her ankles.

"I suppose my bra's next?" she spat angrily.

Michael laughed mirthlessly. "Please. You know I'm not doing this to embarrass you." He kept his eyes on the back of her head and sprayed water down her front and backside blindly.

"The floor," she moaned. "Oh, my God. This is such a mess. Is my face okay, Michael?"

Michael told her it was.

"Can I rinse the soap off it, at least?"

Michael released the trigger and slid the sprayer back into the sink.

"Wait," she said dispiritedly. He waited as she fumbled open her bra and clumsily peeled it away and let it drop on the floor. "You were right. My boobs are burning like crazy." She scooped lather from her hair and used it to scrub her chest. "This wouldn't be so bad if I could see, damn it." Michael said nothing, keeping his gaze safely averted. "I'm sorry to be such a horrible pain in the ass, Michael, I really am. Thank you so much."

She was near tears, and without thinking, Michael reached out and put his arms around her waist, drawing her tight up against him.

"You have no idea how absolutely fucking scared I was." His voice cracked with the strain. She gripped his arms with hers, and squeezed them tightly.

"You won't tell your father about this, right?"

Michael laughed bitterly. "How about the National Enquirer?"

"Oh, they would definitely love this," she retorted. "Psycho Mom in Shocking Drano Striptease!" They both laughed.

"I really need to rinse my face and get upstairs to the shower." She groped blindly for the sink and Michael leaned around and guided her hands to the faucet and eased it up. One at a time, she freed her feet from the jeans and then kicked them aside. "Can you put these in the washer for me? I don't know if they can be salvaged, but I'm sure the shirt's a write-off." She splashed water against her face.

"How are your eyes?" Michael asked.

"I don't think it got near my eyes. Thanks to you, Michael. Oh, God. I handled that so badly, didn't I? I would have run blindly for the shower if you hadn't been here and probably disfigured myself for life. I never even thought of the damned sprayer. I was so shocked when you pulled it out and shot me in the face. I honestly had no idea what it was at first. Did I scream? This could have been so, so much worse, Michael. It really could."

In the ease-down from his panic, Michael was beginning to think he'd way overreacted. His left hand showed no reaction to the caustic liquid and he saw no worse on his mother's back than the welts from her bra strap and a slight pinking on her upper back and shoulders. He imagined her scalp had taken the worse of it and he'd been very fast with the sprayer and Palmolive. Had he just stripped his mother naked for his own benefit, rather than hers? It took all his will power to keeps his eyed from straying below her shoulders. He was aware that he'd seen a good portion of her naked peripherally.

Michael, for God's sakes, she right here, completely naked! What are you doing? Quickly, he turned and squat to retrieve her discarded clothing, shirt included, and headed toward the laundry room. The faucet shut off and Rachel opened the cabinet over the sink, for a for a hand towel to wipe her face, Michael imagined. She would not be wrapping herself in it, he thought ironically.

"I'm so sorry about this mess, Michael. I'll help you clean it up when I come down."

Michael snorted. "Will you go shower, already? I'll take care of the mess. You take care of yourself." He opened the washer and dropped her clothes inside. "I'll start the washer until you get in the shower. Make sure you wash your hair really good, Mom. Three or four times at least. I didn't get it all out, I'm sure, and I don't know how long the soap will neutralize it. Thank God it was there."

"Thank God you were there," she argued with almost comic intensity. Michael snorted and grabbed the bucket out of the corner, a yellow contraption with wheels that he'd always looked at with a fair sense of disgust, but was now grateful to have. There was a lot of water on the kitchen floor. He listened to his mother pad through it on her way out of the kitchen and then wheeled the contraption out of the washroom.

It took the entire length of her long shower for Michael to handle the mess. He'd just wheeled the bucket back into the corner when the water upstairs shut off. He waited a moment to be sure, and then restarted the washer. He'd forgotten until halfway through the first wash-cycle to shut it off, causing him appropriate guilty. Not half as much guilt as he felt for what he'd done to his mom, though.

20/20 hindsight is pretty revealing of human nature, he thought. Maybe a better reveal of someone's motives. He was convinced that everything he'd done in that five-minute catastrophe was motive-driven; specifically, that he'd relished dominating the situation and making Rachel do his bidding. He was pretty sure that ripping her shirt apart had given him an erection. He suspected getting to sleep tonight would be an ordeal. He prayed for the willpower not to replay this over and over in his head for dark purposes. He was surprised a moment later when he turned to discover the object of his anxiety in the washroom doorway, hair wrapped in a towel and her body wrapped in her thick white terrycloth robe. He went to her immediately and hugged her tight. She clung to him, trembling violently.

"Are you all right?" he asked, alarmed.

"Delayed reaction," she said through clenched teeth. "You should have seen me in the shower. I had the water turned all the way over to hot and couldn't stop shaking." She compulsively drew her arms in against her chest and began to shake so badly that David walked her out to the living room and down on the couch beside her and held her tightly against him.

"I caused that stupid accident myself," she said bitterly. "I must have a hidden death wish, I swear I do, Michael. If you hadn't been there..." She shuddered hard enough to dislodge the towel from her hair. They both tried to catch it, which made them both laugh. Then Michael pulled it free to inspect her scalp.

"Ouch ... that's not from the shower I don't think." He leaned out to look at her forehead, wincing slightly. "You need to get some lotion on this, Mom."

She touched the reddened skin just below her hairline. "I saw it in the mirror--and my scalp, or course. My shoulders got it a little bit, and my back I think." She reached up and tapped the location of her bra strap. "This really hurts right here. And right here," she indicated, touching her chest and laughing in embarrassment. "I didn't get it off fast enough, I guess." She turned to look at him, almost timidly. "So how does it feel, having seen your mother completely nude?" Her lips trembled, and her eyes shown with tears. "Sorry. The anxiety, I guess. It could have been so much worse."

"But it wasn't," he said, patting her knee. "I'd like to see your back and shoulders, if that's okay?" He cleared his throat. "It would be better if you put on a bra first though. I've had enough of my mother naked for one afternoon."

She laughed and let him assist her to her feet. "No mother should ever have to be naked in front of her mostly grown son. That was truly embarrassing, Michael..."

Upstairs, he waited in the hallway while Rachel went to her dresser and opened the top drawer and removed a bra and pair of panties. He watched her do this in his mind, and then tried, unsuccessfully, not to watch her disrobing and putting them on. He saw this just as clearly as had he stepped into the open doorway and watched her bend over and slip one foot after the other into her panties and pull them up. He blanked his mind to keep from imagining her donning her bra.

"I'm good," she called uneasily. She stood before the vanity mirror with a bottle of aloe-based lotion in her hand. She held it up wordlessly and tilted back her head for Michael to do her forehead.

She could have done this herself, he thought, squirting lotion into his palm and then scooping it onto his fingertips. She eyed him with her eyebrows arched questioningly as he dabbed lotion onto the finger-like incursions from her hairline. What scalp he could see through her matted blond hair was bright red, like a bad sunburn. He wondered if they shouldn't go to the hospital. Following his eyes, the same dark blue as her own, she read his thoughts and mirrored them: "It's no worse than a bad sunburn, Michael. It'll be okay."

"Turn around," he said softly. "I'll do your back and shoulders."

She turned and worked the robe back over her shoulders and let it slide down to her waist, catching it in the crook of her arms. Her bra was a deep, nearly black purple; he tried to remember the color of her bra in the washer and couldn't. He wondered, not so idly, if she wore matching panties under the robe. There was an angry redness above and below her bra strap, though her back and shoulders were no worse than the pink she'd been earlier. She moved her hair safely away and he ran a bead of lotion across her shoulders-she shivered in response-and another short stream down between her shoulder blades. He worked that lotion in first to keep it from running down to her bra strap.

"I'm going to lift this." Pulling out the strap-he flinched when she flinched-he ran a bead along the welted skin and gently smoothed it with his fingertips. "Imagine we're on the beach and I'm applying suntan lotion to your back," he said mildly. She laughed and half-looked back over her shoulder, smiling.

"That's what I'm imagining, right now."

Michael was intensely aware how far from the beach they were, both physically and metaphorically. The tension between them-sexual tension, he might as well come right out and name it-was no less palpable than were he doing this to Ginny, his recent, lamented girlfriend. His corralled erection thumped uncomfortably against his jeans and he was so intensely aware of his mother's bare skin and the fresh smell of her right out of the shower that he began to color embarrassingly. This was driving him crazy.

Finished, he lifted her robe and helped her shrug it over her shoulders and then stepped back. Rachel adjusted the front, retied the belt and turned around.

"Thank you so much, Michael." She rose up and pecked him on the lips, something she rarely did anymore as she knew it embarrassed him. He grinned sheepishly and handed her the bottle of lotion.

"Time to finish the grass," he said uncomfortably.

For one long moment, they held eyes and the tension between them was so intense it could practically be seen in the air. She'd been alone in the nearby bed for 14 months now, husband-less and hurting. The breakup had nearly killed her and she'd mostly suffered in silence. During a rare unguarded moment six months ago, she'd let slip that his father was the only man she'd ever slept with. How many nights had she cried herself to sleep since he left, he wondered? Though he missed his father badly, there were times he could blow the man's brains out with a shotgun. How could you cheat on a woman like this? Before something enormously wrong went wrong, Michael kissed her on the cheek and went outside to finish his yard work.

Things did, and did not return to normal. Michael forced himself into a, 'I love my mother but she is my mother' mindset, while for a time, while Rachel seemed to become more lost by the day. When sufficient time had passed, however she began to pull herself together and be his mom again and put the incident behind her.

Michael was correct about the imaginings. But the sexual undercurrent was no match against the horror of what almost happened to his mom, and his dreams for the following month were plagued by scenarios which played out significantly different, resulting in blindness or severe physical disfigurement because he was outside, or a moment too late in reacting. Rachel had nightmares as well, and more than once Michael and/or Effie ran to her rescue in the dark of night. The real nightmare began one evening in mid-October when Rachel came to him with the news that she and his dad were having dinner Saturday night. Michael was instantly cautious.

"What about Cassie?" he asked warily. She was the 20-something redhead his dad was currently dating.

Rachel, already pink with embarrassment, reddened further.

"I didn't mean that to sound accusatory," Michael cautioned. "I just thought that she and Dad were..." He shrugged, not wanting to embarrass his mom even more. How do you reconcile with a man who has cheated on you with two of your friends, he thought? Two that he knew about, anyway. And with the three additional women during the 16-month separation period, Michael had little respect for his dad when it came to marital fidelity. His immediate reaction was therefore intensely negative, which he tried to conceal.

"Your dad put that on hold," Rachel said uncomfortably.

Michael hoped his angry reaction didn't show, but knew it had when Rachel flushed bright red and lowered her eyes. He put a hand on her forearm. "I know how much you miss him, Mom. Effie cries herself to sleep practically every night, and you do nothing but toss and turn."

Rachel started to protest, but Michael cut her off.

"You don't need my permission. You and Dad were together 18 years and have two kids together. You don't just throw away a marriage without looking at it from every possible angle. Dad made a mistake, sure. He's suffered right along with you though-" In the company of his cute little redhead and the other two bimbos, Michael thought grimly. "-and mistakes can be forgiven. I'm grown, but Effie is suffering without her dad." He transferred his hand to Rachel's cheek. "Just make sure he's worth taking back, okay? It wasn't you that caused this damned mess. Remember that, Mom."

Tears in her eyes, Rachel nodded and patted Michael's hand on her cheek. "I should marry the son and forget the father," she joked, laughing through her tears. She sniffed and wiped her nose with the back of her hand. "I'm such a mess. I should probably say no. I haven't actually said yes, because I wanted to talk to you first and get your ... opinion." She was regaining control of herself. "It is only just dinner. For all I know, I could be handed divorce papers." She winced, and Michael winced right along with her. "I haven't felt this confused since I came home pregnant with you."

Michael had to think for a moment how old she was. The night she spoke of was almost 19 years ago. They'd married when she was three months pregnant and she'd delivered Michael a few months after her 16th birthday. Michael was two years old and his mother 18 before they lived together as man and wife, and even then, help was needed paying the rent and putting food on the table while Jack attended school and Rachel worked part time at Walmart. She never got a degree and had lucked into the job she'd spent her entire adult life mastering. Even so, it wasn't enough for her and two kids; Jack carried them with monthly support payments. Michael had to give him that; his dad was no welsh.

"My opinion is yes," Michael said grudgingly. "Just go slow and make sure this is in your best interest."

She nodded, and then pecked him on the lips again as she'd done that afternoon two months ago. "I have to tell you something. And don't blow me off and make like it's no big deal because it is." She took a steadying breath. "Since your dad left, you've been the man of the household. It hasn't escaped me how much you've put in, keeping this house stable for your sister and me. I haven't said anything because this was a matter of pride with you and I understood that. I've been really proud of you, both as a mother, and as a woman. And there is a difference, Michael." She took another deep breath. "I think we both know how close it came to something bad happening that Saturday afternoon." She waited for some reaction from Michael and he finally nodded. "You took complete control of the situation and showed me what a capable, level-headed person you really are. The woman in me reacted to that. I was very close to succumbing to the intense feelings of vulnerability and need I had. You rescued me, and did so selflessly. I was ... I wanted to..."

He put his fingertips against her lips, silencing her. "We both now how close it was. You've been alone for 16 months now, and I've been pretty much alone with you. The feelings I have are not exactly paternal anymore either." He laughed, completely flustered. "I don't think this is something we should talk about now. Not with Effie downstairs watching TV. She's caught me out enough times that I know better than to forget about her being around."

Rachel laughed nervously. "That would be a bit much, admittedly. It's a bit much for her mother, too. But thank you for letting me get it off my chest. It had to be said before I exploded like a volcano." She kissed him on the cheek and stepped back. "In light of that..." She hesitated, biting her lower lip. "I have to decide what to do if your father wants to make up."

Michael regarded her calmly. He knew where this was going, where it had to go from this point.

"Don't ask permission to go to bed with your own husband," he said softly.

Rachel reddened again. "I'm not. What I want is to promise you that I won't do it unless he's committed to me and the marriage and to his children. Unless he agrees to be my husband again and to be faithful the rest of our life together. It's unfair to you, but it's the fairest thing I can't think of."

Michael said in exasperation: "What I think shouldn't be part of any decision about you and Dad."

"It shouldn't be, no. But it is, and we both know why. And we both know that we can never go to bed together, no matter what. Right?"

Michael nodded. He would not-could not-commit incest with his mother.

The four days leading up to the dinner date were hard for them both. Neither said a word, but neither could look the other in the eye for too long, either. It was a toss-up who was more anxious the evening of, Rachel or Michael.

"How do I look?" Rachel asked, nervously smoothing the bottom of her knit top against her hips. Michael thought she looked just incredible; 9-year-old Effie gave her a more jaundiced opinion.

"It makes you look fat, Mom. I liked the other outfit better."

Michael could have dope-slapped her; Rachel eyed him warningly. "I think you're right. This makes me look to hippy, doesn't it?"

Michael threw his hands up in frustration. "You don't have any hips! How can it make you look hippy?"

Effie smiled at him condescendingly. "I don't know why she's even asking you. You'd send her out in jeans and a sweatshirt, you dork."

Michael nearly lost his temper, which only made her smirk. He thought acidly, I'm the man of the house in case you've forgotten and you're not too old to put over my knee and teach some manners to. She looked away quickly, evidently reading his thoughts. He returned his gaze to his mom and assured her: "I think you look great. If you want to go back to the skirt and blouse outfit, I liked that too. Dazzle him with those incredible legs of yours, Mom."

Effie giggled, and Mom frowned at him reprovingly. Secretly, he hoped she would switch back to the previous outfit because he disliked how the mauve colored top clung to every curve, particularly sculpting her small but prominent breasts. The loose-fitting, silky blouse tended to hide them. No such luck.

Dad arrived at 6 PM and Effie was ecstatic, jumping into her father's arms on the front stoop. Michael was restrained, greeting his dad with a hug and a manly shake of the hands. He was encouraged, noting his dad looked almost as anxious about this dinner date as his mom, who looked on the verge of a panic attack. He was worried though, about the obvious and instantaneous sexual tension that sprang up between the two. He watched in frustration as his mom's color grew high and her breathing and dilated pupils gave her away. Her last look at Michael as Jack shepherded her out the front door was one of apology. He nodded, tacitly saying, Whatever is best for you, Mom. And despite his jealousy, he meant what he thought.

Two dinner dates later, including a movie and a visit to a bar afterward, Rachel approached Michael with news that Jack wanted the family to spend a ski weekend in December at Wisp. The stress was obvious in her face. This was a big step up from dinner and a movie, Michael thought--for one, thing, who would sleep where-but he stomped on the neck of his jealousy and approached this as a son supporting his mom's best interest. He knew how hard the last month had been for her. But he also had to be honest.

"Don't get mad at me, okay? What I have to say will make you defensive and on the spot. I have to say it anyway, or I'm not living up to my promise to look out for you. And don't tell me that's not my job because we both know it is. You need looking after and as the current man of the house, it's my job to do it. I love you and I need to be your Devil's Advocate. Can we agree on that?"

Indeed on the spot, flushed and humiliated, Rachel nodded curtly. Then she took a deep breath and calmed down. "I keep forgetting how much our family dynamic has changed in the last few months. My sense of worth takes a hit every time I remember just how dependent upon you I am. And how much I absolutely rely on you." She was quiet a moment looking at Michael's chest with her arms crossed defensively over hers. "The worst part is I still have this damned, frustrating, maddening desire for you that makes me feel like the poster girl for the Deviant Mothers Society. How can I be so emotionally attached to my own son? It warps my entire thinking process, my whole sense of being." She looked up. "And yet I still have feelings for your father and want him back. What is the matter with me, Michael?"

He laughed bitterly. "I'm not your husband. You need a husband, even if he's a fuck up and put you through hell. The question is, can you trust him not to do the same to you again? Does he know you're considering this? Taking him back?"

Rachel sighed. "He swears he doesn't want to rush me into anything. Or push me into anything. He agrees I was right to kick him out and file for the divorce. He admits that he had a problem with ... infidelity. He broke it off with Cassie in the hopes we'd have a chance at reconciliation. He even acknowledges that you have a right to be involved in this decision as my..." She laughed, embarrassed. "My present provider-replacement. I wonder if he doesn't suspect how close to true that really is." She shifted uncomfortably. "Can I ask you a serious question? I'm not sure I actually can. This is so terribly embarrassing for me." She looked at the door and Michael knew her thoughts were on Effie, and where she was. He walked to the door, checked outside and eased it closed.

"Go ahead," he said. The naked innocence in her eyes was unnerving. He watched her shudder and then drop her gaze to the floor.

"Would you actually make love to me, Michael? If that was what we decided we both wanted and needed? Knowing that I'm your mother and that I gave birth to you 18 years ago?"

"Yes!" Michael answered forcefully.

His mom nodded fretfully. "This makes everything so hard. I think sometimes ... I should just let you take me to bed and get it over with." She looked up apologetically. "That sounds so bad, I'm sorry." She impulsively stretched up and kissed his lips. "I love you, Michael. I promise you if things go sour with your father and I ... shit. I am so stupid." She wiped at her eyes with the heels of her hands. "Why is this so fucking difficult?"

Michael said in a whisper: "I want things to work out for you and Dad. I do. I'm not the one with two kids and a mortgage payment to meet every month. You need a husband, Mom, not a Freshman live-in lover. If things work out badly, I'm still here. We can talk about it then. Right now, you need to make sure Dad can be trusted not to hurt you again. Maybe this family weekend will answer that question." He took her by the arms. "I want you to sleep with him if that's what you need to find out. He loves you, I know he does, and that might be what gets you back together again. Just make sure it's what you need, Mom."

He drew her into his arms and kissed the top of her head. Rachel wrapped her arms tightly around his waist and Michael tried to ignore her soft breasts flattening against his chest. He promised himself that, should the opportunity ever present itself, he would hold her naked against him and feel them flatten again.

Two weeks later they climbed into Jack's SUV and made for the resort on a blustery, promising Friday afternoon. The forecast for Western Maryland was snow, up to 12" in the higher elevations over the next two days. Michael found himself secretly excited about this. He hadn't been skiing since the breakup and looked forward to donning skis again and tearing up the trails. Beside him in the back seat, Effie leaned forward against her seat belt and exclaimed excitedly: "I get to ski the intermediate slopes, right?"

Mom and Dad were less than committal on the request. "We'll have to see," Jack said. "You haven't been skiing in a year and a half, sweetie."

"None of us have!" Effie objected. Michael frowned at the quick, uncomfortable glance that passed between his parents. Jack obviously had been skiing since the break-up. Not unexpected, Michael thought in retrospect, considering what an aggressive, expert skier Jack was. He'd learned at the age of three and had been a fanatic his whole life. Four years ago, on a weekend away with friends Aaron and Sheila Crawford, Jack and Sheila decided that love of skiing wasn't the only thing they had in common. A flirtation developed, followed by a torrid, year-long extramarital affair. When it ended, Jack took up with Melissa Crewe, a coworker of Rachel's he met at the company Christmas party. Things blew up when Rachel covered for Melissa one afternoon during a doctor's appointment that was actually a liaison with Jack at a cross-town motel. Though Melissa religiously deleted any emails from Jack, she had not counted on the email server failing that afternoon and messages being restored from the back-up server. Rachel was confronted not only with Jack's current infidelity, but a humiliating account of the affair with her best friend Sheila. Furiously humiliated, she called Melissa's cell phone and told her to pass the message to Jack that he needn't come home that night. Melissa sealed her humiliation by laughing about it in the background and inviting Jack to stay with her. Rachel had gone home and cried for a week straight.

They arrived at five and checked into the lodge. The arrangements made everyone uncomfortable. They could afford only two rooms, so Michael and Dad would take one, Effie and Mom the other. Effie was at once enthusiastic and critical of this arrangement. She wanted a girls-night with Mom, but she also wanted Mom and Dad together again. Michael was glum about either arrangement, but selfishly preferred this one over his mom and dad sleeping together. That thought just caused him no end of pain. They unpacked and went for dinner in the lodge restaurant. Effie was straining at the bit, wanting to get out there and join the other skiers hitting the slopes. Every minute spent inside was a personal affront to her.

"Why do we have to eat?" "Wouldn't it be better to work up an appetite first?" "Can I at least do some snow-tubing?" "You promised I could start on the intermediate slope, right?" "Michael can ski with me!" "I don't need Michael to ski with me if I have to ski the stupid beginner's slope." "I have as much right to talk as anyone. I think it's stupid for Mom and Dad not to be in the same room together."

Clearing his throat, Jack said carefully: "We talked about that, sweetie. Your mom and I think that's being presumptuous."

Michael snickered when Effie protested, "Shut up, Michael! I know what presumptuous means!" She turned her precocious gaze on Mom and Dad. "You're getting back together, right? Ow, Michael! Damn it!"

"Effie Lynn! You do not use that language to your brother."

"But he kicked me, Mom!"

"You deserved to be kicked, you stupid little putz," Michael growled.

"Michael, be nice to your sister. She's 9-years-old. She's guaranteed to say things like that. Effie, we discussed this already. Your dad and I are taking it slow."

"Like a freaking glacier," Effie complained irritably.

"Will you shut up," Michael growled. "And don't stick your damned tongue out at me. I'll cut the damned thing off the next time."

Effie formed a slug and displayed it obstinately.

This made Jack laugh, which made Effie laugh, which started Mom laughing, which made Michael roll his eyes and shake his head in disgust. And then start laughing along with the rest of them.

It was decided that all would start with the toughest beginners slope to reacquaint everyone with skis and poles and skiers trying to kill everyone in sight. Michael stuck close to Effie, who took after her mother coordination-wise on skis; Dad kept an eye on Mom.

Michael was not in the same league as his dad, although he'd inherited Jack's natural talent, if not his overwhelming desire to hit the slopes every chance he got. Michael would never be more than an occasional weekend skier, never taking off to Colorado as his Mom and Dad had some winters. Not that his mother was expert, by any means. Michael often thought she had no business on the intermediate slopes, much less following after his Dad on the expert's. She was not coordinated or confident enough for that. He was relieved when she showed no interest in venturing beyond the beginners slopes that night, though it kept Jack close by. The trouble began afterward, when they returned to the lodge, sore but pumped on adrenalin and Jack suggested he and Mom catch a nightcap in the bar. Michael was instantly and adamantly against it, but didn't say a word. His sister made up for his silence, practically jumping up and down in her excitement and clapping her hands. Michael could have strangled her. Instead, he told his mom via a nod to go with Dad and have a good time, which she did, reluctantly.

An hour later, Michael began to worry but Effie threatened to run screaming down the hall that Michael was trying to kill her if he even went near the door. As a second hour crawled by and Michael began to fear the worst, Effie only grinned smugly and insisted they play archery on the the Wii. She was asleep when Jack and Rachel returned, pleasantly drunk and obviously enamored of the empty room next door. Michael sent them away with his blessings, noting Effie asleep in the bed opposite him anyway, which he damn well knew she'd done on purpose. When his parents stole through the connecting room, Rachel giggling drunkenly and Jack with an obvious hard-on for her, physically as well as mentally, Michael went into the bathroom and sat down on the toilet with his head in his hands and cried in frustration.

Rachel's eyes were bloodshot, puffy and discomfited at breakfast the next morning. Time on the beginner's slope the night before couldn't account for her stiff movements, and Michael wondered if she had slept at all. She would not meet his gaze, the only confirmation he needed that she'd had total unrestricted sex. He was hard pressed not to show his anger; from her cat and canary look, she was hard pressed not to melt away under the table out of sight. He finally relented as she finished her third black coffee and rubbed her calf with the side of his boot. She paused, fork halfway to her mouth and met his gaze, blinking timidly. He smiled, cocking his head in admission that she probably felt worse about this than he did, and would she please stop doing that. The man beside her had occupied her bed and body for 16 years; what was one more night? He wondered darkly just how many times they had done it.

"This is not a good idea," he said. They were at the lifts and Michael was not happy with this decision to skip the intermediate slopes and accompany Jack down an expert's. "You're not up to speed yet, Mom. We should let Dad enjoy himself without worrying about you and I killing ourselves."

Rachel shook her head. "I'll be fine. I've skied this slope half a dozen times. I don't need a babysitter, Michael." She eyed him angrily for a moment, and then dropped her eyes sheepishly. "I'll be fine. You should go with your sister and keep an eye on her."

"Not a chance," Michael said firmly, shooting Effie a look to keep quiet. "I'm not letting you out of my sight."

She eyed him plaintively, but Michael indicated the argument was over, so sighing dramatically, she said, "Fine, whatever" and Michael would gladly have given her the spanking he'd wanted to give Effie. And then he berated himself for begrudging his mother her hard earned happiness. Only, she didn't look very happy, did she?

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