Word count, start of day -- 41,600
Halfway through lunch, I realized I had something I needed to day to Brian. "I don't want to have sex with you," I told him.
I saw him nearly choke on a cashew. I think I took him by complete surprise. "I mean I do want to, of course, I just want to, I don't know, just not today, if that's what you were thinking."
Brian nodded. "I didn't think you were the kind of girl who would--"
"I'm not," I said with passion. I just wish he could know what I was feeling. Trying to find words that make sense was becoming too difficult. I held up my right hand to stop us both from saying anything else stupid. Me, mostly. "I just wanted you to know I'm not ready for sex."
"I don't think we are ready," he said, moving his hand back and forth between the two of us. He lowered his eyes and added, "I haven't moved out yet or anything, like you."
He was right and I hoped he meant what he said. "It's just that we've talked about it, and I think that's important for people to talk about, and then I ask you over to my new place and I start making out with you." I knew I was babbling, that this was just one long run-on sentence. "I just didn't want you to think that today, you know, or I just didn't want you to be disappointed when we didn't do it."
Brian looked at me, his eyes expressive, his look passionate. "I am spending the day alone with the prettiest girl I've ever known, and earlier today she pinned me down on her sofa and sucked my face off. This incredibly hot chick I know, she asks me over and makes out with me." He chuckled. "You can dump the rest of this rice and sauce on top of my head and kick me out of the door with my shirt pulled over my head and this is still the best day of my life." He turned serious again, finishing with, "I am comfortable with whatever you are comfortable with."
I looked in his eyes and my heart warmed within me. I felt my emotions rise up, I felt our connection grow stronger. Men had said nice things to me before, sure, but none like this. Brian was not trying to play me, not trying to get something off me. Unless he was just really good at it. But no, he was an accountant who had had three girlfriends in his life. Well, four if you count me. This was not the profile or stereotype of a player. I dismissed the thought as silly. "You are very kind," I said. It was all I could think of to say. "I don't know exactly where the line is, Brian, and it may be different today than some other time."
"Of course. And this may not be fair to you, but I think you have to be the one to draw the line."
I nodded. "The line is, at the most, no sex. At least, no sex today."
"I think," he said slowly, seriously, "if it ever gets to that point, we should make a deal. We won't have sex until after we've talked about having sex, and agree it's the right thing."
I smiled, almost chuckled. What an accountant thing to say. "That's not very spontaneous," I said, "but it's a pretty good plan, I think."
"Right now, spontaneous may not be a good thing."
I agreed, and we finished off our lunches.
We unloaded a few boxes in the kitchen, then went into my bedroom. I put things away in the bathroom and I gave him a suitcase of clothes to go through. A very specific suitcase. The lingerie suitcase. "These go in the top drawer," I told him, heading out of the room. "Just put them in there." I waited in the hallway, listening. I heard the latches pop up, then a little chuckle. I poked my head in, and he was examining a thong like he had never seen one before. Maybe he had never seen a red silk one before. "You like?" I asked.
He just shook his head and smiled. Then in one move he fired them at me like a sexy little rubber band. I caught them and walked back in, spinning them on a finger. I tossed them in the drawer and offered to take care of the rest.
Brian fought back. "No, I don't mind going through the whole batch."
"Nope," I said. "I was just kidding. You'll see them when I want you to."
"How can I argue with that?" He sat on the edge of the bed while I finished this little job. Underwear was important, it had to put away carefully. I didn't have much underwear, so it did not take too long.
"Ready for a video?"
He nodded and we settled in on top of the bed to watch the flick. He held me most of the time, rubbing my arm, or my face, or brushing my hair. I snuggled in and held his hand for a while, then stroked his legs. It was very nice. He was a very good date. The movie ended and I sat up in the bed. "Enjoy it?"
"Great," he said.
"One of my all-time faves. You can pick the next one, okay?" I couldn't believe I said it, but I did. And he readily agreed. I lowered my face in to kiss him, kiss him hard, open mouth. I loved the way he tasted. I ran my fingers over his chest and belly, then stopped. I moved my mouth down his neck, lingering and thinking. Should I or shouldn't I? It would not be crossing the line, would it? "I don't want to have sex, not today," I whispered to him. But before he had to chance to comment I added, "but I'm going to give you a very nice present." I moved my hands down and unbuckled his belt. I felt him respond as I unzipped her jeans. I pushed myself up, hands near his package. I tried to look and sound as sexy as I could.
"Hope you like it."
The blood had just started to get back to my brain as I put the car in gear and headed out of the parking lot. In my fuzzines, I had the odd thought that Annie must have voted for President Clinton. We had never talked about politics before, but she and the former president had one thing in common I knew of: they shared the same definition of sex. We didn't have it, according to either one of them.
I spent the drive home trying to relive every moment of the day. It was vaporous like a dream that disappears all the more swiftly the harder one tries to recall it. I replayed it over and over again, trying to seer cartain images in my mind. Lying next to Annie on her bed watching the movie, looking up into her round eyes as she pinned me to the sofa, the look in her eyes when she made her final move.
I was not exaggerating. It was the best day of my life. Then after I say that, it got even better. What were the odds of that happening?
I tried to analyze what I had done. I had obviously done something right, because I surely wanted to do it again. But I was lost, this was all Annie's doing, all Annie's timing, all Annie's plans. The thought struck me that maybe she would shut this down as quickly as she had turned it up. The testosterone-driven male ego part of me did not care, as long as I was getting some action from a hot redhead. But the relationship-driven part of me wanted to keep this going. I really cared about her, it was way more than a crush. This was beyond dimple caring. I was really starting to fall for her. I revelled in this realization until I remembered that I was already in a relationship. I was married. At least Annie was separated. I pondered this difference in our statuses. I was at a crossroads, I decided. A decision point of some kind.
I got home and found chicken buring in the oven, Natalie watching cartoons on the floor of the rec room, and Gwen passed out behind her on the couch. "Asleep," I told Natalie, as we tossed a blanket on her and padded quietly up the stairs. I sat Nat up in Gwen's and my bedrom, scraped off the blackened part of the dinner and served it to her with the pace of microwaved french fries.
Gwen stumbled up the stairs an hour later and went straight into the bathroom. She started up the shower, but I could hear her retching. I turned up the volume on the "PowerPuff Girls." Natalie did not seem to notice.
Gwen was out fifteen minutes later and she looked a little batter. I greeted her with black coffee and burnt chicken. She did not acknowledge me, the burnt food, or her condition.
When I was sure Natalie was deeply asleep, I asked Gwen to meet me downstairs in the rec room. Her eyes were still quite bloodshot, but she seemed to be coherent. My plan was to ease into this slowly. There was plenty of time to get out of this with a minimum of mess. I saw today was the first day of the end of my marriage.
"Gwen," I said, "I think we are having problems, serious problems at that."
She stared at me, comprehending, but remained silent.
"When we first met, you were happy, I was happy, you did not drink much--"
"Oh, that's it," she exclaimed more than a little too loud. "I'm not the perfect little wife you wanted. Well boo hoo! "What are you going to do, leave me? You don't have the balls to walk out on me and you love your little girl too much. So you're stuck here, buck."
"Look, Gwen, you do not know what you are saying. I fear for your safety, and I fear for Natalie."
"Fear what? What am I going to do to hurt her? I would never hurt her."
"You are still hurt yourself from your accident. What if Nat had been with you?"
"I don't drink around her, you know that. That would never happen."
I was growing exasperated. "Today you were drinking with her! You were passed out and the oven was on.This could have been serious." I calmed myself down and spoke softly. "You need help." This was not going at all as I had planned, but I was right about this. She needed help.
"Like what? Like AA?" she scoffed. "Like some rehab program? And why? Because I need to get wasted just to make it through my day. You don't live my life! You don't know what it's like." She trailed off into sobs. I felt sorry for her. I couldn't believe that these were original thoughts she was coming up with. Some of this must have been long simmering, deep inside her. It was heartbreaking to watch all of this anger that had been piled up inside her come flowing out like some extinct volcano erupting without warning. And it hurt to be on the receiving end of it.
I was overwhelmed with guilt and sorrow. Clearly, I had failed. I had failed to keep her happy enough to avoid getting drunk. She had a need, she obviously had a deep need. And I had obviously failed to fill it.