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I don’t really have a type. I just like women, and certain men. However, I confess a greater than average appreciation for body modification, particularly tattoos, and anyone who dresses in what can be considered an “alternative” or punk style. I myself tend to favor simple shorts and t-shirts because I don’t think the look favors me, but man, do I love a woman in torn jeans and leather jackets, especially when their tattoos peek over their collar and through the holes in their stockings.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanyway. This occurred extremely recently. Enjoy.

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I am no stranger to pain. I have been injured more times than I can count, from fighting, from falling, from fucking. It’s not a difficult thing to cope with pain. You just have to accept that something hurts and move forward.

I tell myself this as the needle moves through my flesh.

Anyone who says getting tattooed doesn’t hurt is either a liar, or a braggart.

“How are you doing?” the artist asks me. She is hunched forward over my arm, tracing the stencil she placed on my arm over four hours ago. That’s a long time to sit still and let another human being carve in your flesh.

“Not bad,” I answer casually. “You know, considering you’ve stabbed me about three hundred and sixty thousand times.”

She smiles and laughs, both slightly delayed as she focuses on her work. “That many?”

“Quick math,” I answer. “Fifteen hundred revolutions per minute, times sixty minutes in an hour, times four hours. Three hundred and sixty thousand stabs.”

“That’s what you get when you go with a sleeve,” she says matter-of-factly.

“The first three hours were a breeze,” I respond, perhaps more defensively than I intended. “I just need to get my second wind is all.”

She pauses to wipe ink and blood from my arm. “Almost done with the outline. Just need to go over the elbow. You ready for this?”

I shrug. “How bad can it be?”

She smirks and pats my chest. “That’s the spirit. Move closer.” I shift on the bed, and she applies vaseline to the stencil. She bends forward. I hear the tattoo gun buzz like an angry hornet. She pushes it against my elbow.

Wooooooooooooooooow that fucking hurts.

I can’t help but breathe in sharply through my teeth. Not for long, but loudly enough it’s noticeable. She laughs again and says, “Yeah, you fucking love it, don’t you bitch!”

I struggle not to move as I laugh with her, not wanting to disturb the canvas that is my tender funny bone. “Fuck yes. Bring it on mistress.”

She keeps cutting through my elbow. “Yeah, fucking take it,” she says through clenched teeth, her voice dusky, almost whispering.

Something about her tone of voice, the aggression, the word choice, makes something in me stir. I glance down at her. I have admired her tattoos since I first met her, and I find myself admiring them again. Not only for their form, but for how they accentuate the curves of her body. Her well defined triceps stand out a bit more against the bright reds and yellows, contrasting with her deep tan. The slope of her shoulder going into her neck. The curve of her cleavage below her tank top. Fortunately, she is too absorbed in her work to notice my attention, so I simply don’t bother to restrain it. I study her face, her body, her movements, and it helps take my focus from my elbow.

Unfortunately, it’s also really turning me on. I feel myself harden uncomfortably against my zipper, and I deeply regret choosing not to wear boxers today, both for the discomfort, and how obvious it is without the extra layer. I silently pray she won’t notice.

The gun turns off, and she wipes at my elbow. “There we go.”

She is quiet for a moment, then she unsuccessfully stifles a laugh. “Well. Hello sailor.”

Shit.

I try to play it off. “Heh… yeah, sorry. Guess I couldn’t help myself. The whole thing just gets to me.”

“I don’t think that’s how nerves are supposed to be connected,” she says teasingly.

“Hey, you never know what works for some people,” I respond, playfully terse. I grin at her, and she returns the smile. Her eyes are a deep brown, and they sparkle in the ample lighting of the parlor.

An hour and a half later, and a third of my tattoo is colored in. She bandages and wraps my arm, and I rebook a month in advance to have the work finished. We stand in front of her shop, sharing a cigarette.

“Thanks again for fitting me in today,” I say as I exhale a cloud of smoke. “It’s gonna look great when it’s finished.” I pass her the cigarette.

“My pleasure,” she answers, and takes a deep pull. “Maybe next time you’ll control yourself a bit more.” It’s an admonishment, but I hear the teasing tone, and she grins playfully.

“Maybe,” I say noncomittally. “Maybe not. We’ll just have to see.”

She smiles. “I hope we will.” She winks at me and flicks the cigarette into the street. “Gotta get back to it. See ya later.” She turns to the door.

“Hey,” I call after her. She turns her head toward me. “Mind if I give you a call sometime?”

She smirks again. “You’ve got my card.” And she goes inside, closing the door behind her.

I blink in confusion and check my pockets. Sure enough, in my back left pocket is a business card with her name and business number on it. Scrawled across the bottom is her cell phone number. I don’t remember putting it there.

I deposit it safely in my wallet. The movement sends a twinge of pain through my elbow, but the pain is less pronounced. Almost promising. I smile, and walk toward my car.

Yeah, I guess this one will turn out to be three-parter after all! I am currently away from home for research, and I suspect this will pretty much be the norm for me for the next several years of my life, if not all of them. But I have arranged my schedule such that I have an hour or so free every night to write and respond to messages and things.

If you want to be successful at this whole blogging business, you have to be diligent about updating.

The final part of this memory will be coming soon. Enjoy.

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The kiss lingers for several long moments. There is nothing overtly sexual about it–no biting, no teasing, no tongue, just a gentle, sweet moment. I finally pull back, my hands still cupping her cheeks. Our eyes open at the same time. We look at each other. Her lips are parted, surprise and desire mingling in her expression. She is breathing deeply, slowly, but heavily. She smiles.

“…oh my.”

My thumb strokes her cheek. “Sorry. I’ve just wanted to do that for so long.”

She bites her lower lip. “Me too…”

And she presses against me, wrapping her arms around my waist as she kisses me again. A faint whimper echoes in her throat, and that’s all I need. Gone is the anxiety, replaced by overwhelming desire. I embrace her tightly, squeezing her body as closely to me as before. My tongue traces the line of her lower lip, and she responds similarly, our tongues dancing against one another. My heart pounds, and my body throbs in anticipation. I grab her waist and guide her back, toward my desk, and she leans against it, half sitting, half standing. I drop to my knees, my eyes level with the lower hem of the red dress. I lean in and kiss her thigh, over the stockings. I can smell her arousal, and it as close to intoxicating as anything can be.

I need you.

My lips glide along her inner thigh, beyond the stocking, moving upward as I draw the dress up and around her waist. True to her word, she wore no undergarments, and my breath catches in my throat at the sight of her. Very recently and expertly waxed, her mound is smooth and lovely. Her labia are swollen and invitingly open, and glistening wet under the fluorescent lighting in my office. She has started to drip down her left inner thigh, and I run my tongue across the wet trail, cleaning and tasting her. She is remarkably sweet with hardly a hint of salt, better than the flavor of any woman I can remember. I follow the trail along her leg toward her pelvis, and lightly press my tongue against her center. Her wetness coats my mouth, and I feel her shudder at my attentions.

I whisper against her, “You were right, clean living makes you taste pretty fucking good.”

She laughs shakily, and begins to say something, but her voice catches and she simply groans as I thrust my tongue as deep into her as I can. I lift her legs at the knees, pulling them up and onto my shoulders to ease access to her. I feel her ankles lock behind me, and I begin stroking her center with my tongue, long, slow movements, from perineum to clitoris, lapping at her wetness, high on the sweetness of her. My hands grasp her hips, shifting her position on my desk, pulling her a bit closer, then move under the hem of her dress and up along her belly, simply exploring the smoothness of her flesh. She squirms a little, suddenly panting, and after no more than two minutes of my attention I can feel her stomach tighten, her hips begin to shake, and she groans louder than before. I feel her tighten under my tongue, convulsing for a brief moment, then I am surprised by the sudden deluge as she cums against me. I groan in my throat, not wanting to pull away for a moment. This flavor is different than before–tart, almost sour, but still not salty, and it drenches my face and chin, my neck, and covers my shirt. She shudders once more, and again, then gasps for air and pushes at the top of my head. I move back obediently and look up at her.

“You didn’t tell me you squirt,” I say with a wry grin.

She laughs again, less anxious than before but still obviously nervous. “Well, it hardly ever happens. I have to be really turned on for it to happen.”

I gesture to my shirt, and the dark patch of moisture that moves from neck to sternum. “I guess you must have been turned on.”

“That sounds like past tense,” she answers. “Presently, I remain turned on.”

I grin up at her, then lean in and lay a gentle kiss on her clit. She shudders and gasps again.

“…me too,” I answer.

“Hey, are you REDACTED?”

I’m surprised by the suddenness of the question, spoken by an unseen and unrecognized voice behind me.  “Yes I am,” I say as I turn to face the speaker, trying not to look startled.  “Can I help y–”

I don’t even see the punch coming.

Normally, our bodies react to a coming hit instinctively, by moving with the blow and tightening the muscles to minimize vibration and energy transfer.  However, that I had no idea what was about to happen limits my natural response, and I take the blow full on the cheek, just to the side of my lip.  My head snaps to the side painfully.  I see stars, and I immediately taste blood.  I stagger backward a few steps and fall to one knee.

“Well, that was uncalled for,” I mumble through the blood that’s quickly pouring from the wound in my mouth.  Fortunately, my capacity for sarcasm is unaffected by sucker punches.

“Actually, it was completely called for,” my aggressor yells, the anger clear in his voice.  There’s also a hint of satisfaction that barely registers through the ringing in my ears.  I give my head a quick shake and look toward the voice.  He’s a squat fellow, broad at the waist and balding, with black-rimmed glasses perched on a rounded nose.  His face is sparsely dotted with acne, and reddened as though he’d been climbing a flight of stairs.  Not a pointedly ugly guy, but closer thereto than I’m sure he would like.

I’m more interested, however, in the woman standing a few feet behind him and to his left, ducking her chocolate brown eyes, trying desperately not to look at me.  Her name is Shannon, my coworker, a friend of Kelly’s from before our break-up.  Also one of my lovers, the only one that I was seeing consistently, my current “affair”.  Or rather, she had been, until I had broken it off due to her inappropriately amorous public behavior.  Given her current behavior, and baldie’s steadily darkening face, I can only assume that he is her husband, and terminating our relationship had somehow resulted in her confessing her recent indiscretions.

Come to think of it, he does resemble an older, less well maintained version of the man I’d seen on her Facebook profile.  How people let themselves go like that, I will never know.

I stand up slowly, craning my neck to the side.  “Guessing you’re Shannon’s husband?”

“I have a name,” he spits angrily.

“Frankly, I never bothered to learn your name.  Care to refresh me?”

“Randy.”

“‘Kay Randy,” I say casually.  I rub my neck, which actually hurts worse than my cheek.  “Tell you what.  I’m gonna give you that one for free.  You wanna talk, fine, but the next one’s gonna cost you.”

His lips curl in an angry snarl.  “Don’t you fucking threaten me!”

“I don’t make threats.”  I rub my cheek with my tongue, feeling the flayed skin.  I make a show of biting off a loose chunk of flesh, and spit it onto the pavement.  It lands with a sickeningly wet flop in a pool of red.  I see Shannon’s eyes widen in horror, and Randy’s face grows slightly less red.  I smile through the blood on my lips.  “Now, you had something you wanted to say to me?”

His voice raises, punctuating his next statement: “Yeah, you fucked my wife!”

“Obviously,” I answer coolly.  “Otherwise we wouldn’t be here.  So?”

I eye him casually, and can see Randy deflate a little.  He didn’t expect me to admit it, to not argue with him.  This isn’t going as he’d planned.  He stammers, “So… stay the fuck away from her!”

“I’m not the one you need to worry about, hoss.”  I indicate Shannon with a nod of my head.  She’s trying her hardest to be invisible.  “She’s the lovey-dovey one.”

My reference to her seems to rekindle Randy’s anger.  He takes a step toward me and points at me, as though poking a jello mold.  “Don’t you ever fucking touch her again.”

I shrug and smile.  “Can’t make any promises.”

I see the punch coming long before it connects.  He has an obvious tell, shared by most untrained fighters, the drawing back of the shoulder, instinctively gaining power by twisting the torso.  He also purses his lips, holding his breath–another common tell.  I know he has likely never been in a fight, at least not one with someone who actually knows how to do it.  It would be a simple matter to step to the outside and land a punch to his exposed kidneys, but I recognize that, from his perspective, I deserve it.  Hell, I probably do.  But I already gave him the sucker punch, which probably emboldened him to take another swing at me, and I’m not about to give him the satisfaction of hitting me again.  So instead, I grab his arm, pivot into his hips, and neatly throw him around my body onto the pavement.  I hear the air leave his lungs in a cough of shock.  A quick jerk of his arm rolls him onto his stomach, and I pin his arm under my knee against the small of his back, braced by my left leg against his elbow.  I hold the back of his neck with my right hand and grab a handful of what little hair remains on his head with my left.  I pull sharply with my left as I push with my right, yanking his head up and away from the pavement.  He grunts in pain, and Shannon yells something, an unhappy, frightened sound.

I lean down as far as I can, given the awkward pin I’m holding him in, and say calmly, “Listen Randy.  You wanna be pissed at me, fine.  I don’t give a damn about you, so I can take it.  But ask yourself why she fucked me to begin with.”  I let him go and stand up quickly, putting a few feet of space between us.  He staggers to his feet and turns to face me, raising his hands threateningly, but he makes no move to advance.  He just glares at me, and wipes the blood from his scraped chin.  His glasses sit crooked on his bleeding nose.

“You wanna keep your wife happy?” I ask.  “Then get your ass on a treadmill.  Go to the gym.  Do something with yourself.  She fucked me because she’s unhappy.  Do something about it.”

I turn to Shannon.  “Do yourself a favor and stay the fuck away from me, ’cause the next time your hubby feels like picking a fight with me, I’m gonna put him down hard.”

Her eyes are wide, clearly terrified, shocked at what has transpired, but she nods slightly, enough that I know she won’t speak to me again.  I return the nod and turn my back to them both, moving calmly toward my car, my neck and cheek throbbing.  I spit another mouthful of blood for good measure.

Oh lord, am I ever happy you only turn 30 once.  I celebrated this in the most debauched manner possible.  (I didn’t know my body was still capable of processing that much ethanol in one sitting.)  Fortunately, I survived, with a few more battle scars, and another notch on the ol’ bedpost.  Maybe I’ll share in the near future.  But, for now, here is the conclusion to my most recent memory.  Enjoy.

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I lift my head and place two fingers under Jenny’s chin, turning her face toward mine.  Her eyes are closed, but she opens them as I place my hand against the side of her neck.  We look at each other, and I practically count the seconds as they tick by, waiting for the right moment.  But Jenny surprises me by lifting her lips to mine quickly, and with more eagerness than I had anticipated.  Her tongue grazes my lips, and I hear a faint sound of longing emanate from her throat as we kiss on the front porch swing.

She may not be skilled at flirting, but Jenny is a remarkably talented kisser.

She wraps one arm around my shoulders, and her other hand rests comfortably against my sternum.  Whatever hesitance had previously possessed her has gone; she begins squeezing my shoulders, my upper arms, my chest, almost as though exploring, testing the consistency, the “give” of my body under her fingers.  As her hands discover new places to examine, her kisses increase in intensity, the occasional lash against my lip developing into a full dance between our tongues, moving from my mouth to hears, with an occasional break when she ducks her head just enough to permit her to bite my lip, tugging it insistently, pulling me closer to her, maneuvering me with her mouth against mine.  Before I realize it, she’s pulled me to the middle of the swing and has vaulted onto my lap, straddling my waist.

She breaks the kiss and looks down at me, eyes glassy, lips parted as she pants softly for breath.  I place my hands on her hips and pull her down against me, knowing that her skirt has left only her undergarments between her skin and my jeans.  She rocks back and forth along my zipper, and the hardness beneath, and her glassy eyes almost roll back into her head, which falls back as she groans softly.  She grips my neck, bracing herself as she moves along with the motion I’ve established, and lifts her head to look at me again.

“We need a place to go,” she whispers between thrusts.  “Right now.”

I contemplate this, as deeply as my one-track mind will permit.  “Well… the bedroom is being used by the potheads, so that’s out…”  I glance toward the parking lot.  “We could take my truck someplace, if you wanted, but it will be cramped…”

“UGH.  FUCK that.”  She leans back and begins grappling with my belt.  It only takes me a moment to catch up to her train of thought, and I practically slap her hands away to more quickly free myself.  Jenny reaches under her skirt, and I feel her hand wrapping around my shaft.  Sensitive skin rubs against cotton, then against her own bare flesh, hot and incredibly moist.  She positions herself against me, adjusts the lay of her skirt to more fully cover us, grips the sides of my neck again, and relaxes her legs.  Gravity forces her down, slides my cock into her until I can feel her cervix pressing against me.  Her expression is somewhat pained at first, but as she begins to rock, her face gradually relaxes.  I try to match her movements, but the sway of the porch swing under us prevents me from from discovering a comfortable rhythm.  She is seemingly unbothered by the swaying, using it to keep herself moving with minimal effort, and is too caught up in the moment to notice my difficulty.  Instead, I slide my hands along her stomach beneath the tank top, enjoying the feel of baby fat beneath my hands, the softness diminishing as I move further up along her torso, her breasts small but quite firm beneath my touch.  I explore her body as she explored mine, testing the softness of her skin, the tension of her muscles as she rocks against me, as she finds her release, and I find mine.

Jenny catches her breath and slides off of my lap, groaning in the process.  She adjusts her clothing again as she sits beside me on the swing, then puts her head on my shoulder with a long, satisfied sigh.  “That was truly enjoyable,” she comments.

I sigh and give my own grunt of affirmation.  I slip my arm around her shoulder and pull her in closer to my side.  “Enjoyable, and thoroughly appreciated,” I answer.

Jenny gets situated against me, her head back in the follow below my collar.  I hear her say, almost timidly, “That was a one-time deal, wasn’t it?”

I look down at her.  “That depends,” I say, the concern obvious in my voice.  “If you mean, was that the beginning of an unexpected relationship… I’m afraid the answer is no.  But if you’re asking whether we can do this whenever we want… well, I suppose that’s up to you.”

“You have a girlfriend,” she says matter of factly.

“Which is why this isn’t a relationship.  Well, not yet, anyway.  I don’t know about the future.  I just try to bask in the present.”  I kiss the top of her head.  “And presently, I am thoroughly enjoying your company, and would have whether this happened or not.”

Jenny says nothing for a few moments, then she says, almost defeatedly, “That’s what I was afraid of.”  She turns her head and kisses my chest.  “For what it’s worth, you’re probably the most incredible guy I’ve ever met.  But I’m no one’s plaything.”

“I understand,” I answer honestly.

Jenny quietly rises from the swing, picks up her melted drink, and goes back inside.  I retrieve my scotch, also thoroughly melted, flick the june bug off the rim, and take a long, hard pull.

I have a confession to make.

I am a nerd.

Not just any old nerd.  I’m a super nerd capable of giving the fellas on The Big Bang Theory a run for their money.   I own every video game system that’s been released in the U.S. since the original NES, and my collection of games is truly impressive.  I even have a special chair for retro gaming–a big, comfy papasan that I can burrow into while playing Final Fantasy VI.  I spend thousands of dollars on custom computer gaming rigs just to make sure I can run the latest titles at maximum resolution and settings.  I am a connoisseur of classic and modern board games, from chess and backgammon to Carcassonne and Ghost Stories.  I’ve not only played Dungeons and Dragons for almost fifteen years; I’ve been a DM for seven.  I can (and will) argue that video games are a valid art form, as are comic books.  I watch cartoons, and science fiction television, with unapologetic passion (The Highlander, Invader Zim, Dragon Ball Z, and Death Note are some of my favorite television series ever).  I read Jim Butcher (my favorite modern author), R.A. Salvatore, and Simon R. Green.   The random contraptions I’ve built would bring a tear to the eye of the most avid MythBuster.  And finally, I do science, not because it pays well (it doesn’t), but because I genuinely think it’s cool.

Fortunately, I’m just as passionate about physical fitness as I am recreational gaming and reading.

I say this to give you a bit more information about me, and to provide a bit of background for the following.  It’s my first multi-part post in a long while, because I just don’t have the time to keep writing tonight.  Enjoy.

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My fingers are laced together, obscuring my mouth from view as I contemplate the scenario before me.  The relative probabilities of success surge through my mind in binomial equations and density curves.  I see multiple avenues of approach, but nothing that comes without a hefty risk.  But the potential rewards…

Beside me, Hank grumbles, “Dude, you’re taking forever.”

“World conquest isn’t something one pursues hastily,” I answer.

I survey the board, assessing troop placement, reinforcements per turn, and relative army strengths in what is the most intense game of Risk I have ever played.  Today is–Lord, this is hard to admit–day three of the game.  What started as a friendly six person Thursday afternoon game has gradually become a cut-throat battle between me and the person across the table: Jenny.

I glance up at her, a lovely specimen of gamer chick, with her fit, pear-shaped frame.  She is observing the board as intently as I am, lips pursed, blonde-and-chocolate highlights framing a slender, almost angular face and blue eyes that flit to and fro in concentration.  I see her focus on Australia.  I’ve been amassing forces there for the better part of two days, preparing for a major siege of Asia.  She knows it’s coming, and she’s been fortifying her territories there.

Hank grumbles again, “Dude, seriously, are you ever going to go?”

I click my tongue and shake my head.  “Patience, padawan.”  I casually reinforce Australia, and drop another few on Greenland and Alaska for good measure.  A quick skirmish from Alaska.  Fortify Alaska.  Then Jenny moves.  As expected, she fortifies Siam, India, and China, ready at a moment’s notice.

But it’s all a ruse.  In Chapter XX of The Prince, Machiavelli wrote that the problem with a fortress is that it draws attention, which is precisely what I wanted.  While she’s been focused on my upcoming Australian attack, she’s left Africa relatively unguarded, poorly enough that I can sweep through from Brazil.  By simultaneously attacking from Australia to keep her from moving her forces, I can control Africa in no more than two turns, then it’s a simple matter of pushing through Europe from Greenland and North Africa while keeping her Asian forces occupied from Alaska and Australia.

My turn.  Drop every reinforcement on Brazil.  Full attack from Australia, Greenland, and Alaska.  Fortify Brazil from Venezuela.  I hear Jenny whisper, “Oh fucking hell,” and I smile.  She sees it coming, but it’s too late.  On my next turn, I unleash plastic figurine hell.  The game is over in 20 minutes.  Hank and Jenny stare at the board, now dominated by my blue armies.  “Dude, fucking really?  I didn’t see that shit coming.”

“I’m the Keyser Söze of Risk,” I answer with a smile.

Jenny busts out laughing.  “Seriously, you had me so freaked out about Australia and Alaska that I never imagined you’d try from South America.  You just brain fucked me.”

“The greatest trick the Devil ever played,” I say as I start cleaning up the board.  Jenny chucks a six-sided die at me.  I let it hit my chest.

Following clean-up, I grab a glass of scotch and excuse myself to the front porch.  The sun has long since set, and Hank has resumed drinking heavily and chatting up the few remaining girls from a party in which I’d taken no part.  I’m mentally exhausted from the three day long battle, and I have no desire to deal with loud music and drunk women.  Instead, I light a cigarette and sit on the porch swing, watching the fireflies dance through the yard, basking in the warmth of the summer night.  I recap the game in my mind, piecing through my errors and considering what to do in similar situations in the future.

“Glad to see you’re enjoying your victory.”  Jenny’s voice yanks me from my reverie.  I look toward the door and see her leaning against the door frame, arms folded as though judging me, but she’s smiling quite genuinely.  She holds up her own glass, a dark soda-based concoction, and asks, “Mind if I join you?”

Kelly’s lips are pressed firmly against my own.  She’s a surprisingly talented kisser, occasionally darting her tongue teasingly across my lips, nipping at them, varying the pressure of her kiss and turning her head slightly to keep things interesting.  Her hands grip my shoulders, and mine rest comfortably on her round, well-muscled ass.  I’ve never kissed anyone this good, or with a body this fantastically toned, and the sensation of her lean, petite frame pressed against mine is maddening.

She suddenly breaks the kiss and takes a deep breath, her eyes wide, and she whispers through panting breaths, “Do you have any condoms?”

I blink in confusion.  She and I had made out once before, but she had been slightly drunk and was in a relationship with a guy back home, so I wasn’t expecting such an abrupt question, or even the opportunity to actually pursue something physical with her.  So all I can manage to say is, “Umm… no?”

“That’s a shame,” she says.  Her fingertips trace circles on my stomach–wait, when did she unbutton my shirt?

“A shame?” I repeat blankly.  “Why?”  Master of witty rapport, that’s me.

“Because if you did,” she answers calmly, “I’d fuck you right now.”

Consider my mind fully blown.

“Do you want me to–”

Kelly cuts me off by grabbing my crotch.  She bites her lower lip as she gives my hard length a tentative squeeze between forefinger and thumb, gasping in what I think is surprise.  “Holy… yeah, that will do.”  She steps away and sits on my bed.  “I’ll wait here.”

I bolt out of my dorm room faster than any man in history has moved before.  In a heartbeat, I’m knocking insistently on my neighbor’s door.  He opens it and immediately starts laughing at me, standing in the hall with my half-buttoned shirt hanging open, my hair unkempt from the aggressively physical make-out session.  “Dude, nice outfit.  She fuck you or what?”

“Not yet!”  I say, a little louder than I had intended.  “You owe me a condom.  Pay up.”

He laughs again as he retrieves a wooden cigar box, which he holds open to me.  “Take your pick.  Lubed or unlubed, colored, ribbed?  I even have some glow-in-the-dark ones that are usually good for a laugh.”

“Don’t care,” I reply.  I take a mixed handful of the small square packages and quickly about-face.  I hear him say something to the effect of, “Optimistic, aren’t we?” as I close the door to my dorm room behind me.

Kelly is still sitting on my bed, leaning back casually on her elbows.  “Did you get one?”

“More than one,” I answer, tossing the fistful of condoms on the bed beside her.  “I took the potluck approach.”

“I bet we can use them all tonight,” Kelly says, her voice suddenly more husky, almost raspy.  The sound makes my heart race in anticipation, and she beckons–literally, with one crooked finger.

I step forward, and she quickly, and a little too expertly, hooks her thumbs through my belt loops, pulling my hips toward her face.  I watch in astonishment as she leans her face toward me, biting at the button of my jeans and tugging, pulling it through the slot with a deft turn of her head.  She grips the zipper with her lips and draws that down as well.

Without thinking, I mutter, “Hope you’re not planning on gnawing your way through my boxers.  This is my favorite pair.”  I immediately remind myself to shut the fuck up.

Kelly looks up at me, eyes gleaming wickedly, and simply says, “Nah.”  Her thumbs hook under the waistline, and she pulls down, freeing me from my jeans and boxers in one easy pull.  She looks away from me, to my fully erect member, and I hear her gasp again.  “Holy shit, are you kidding me?!”  She wraps her hand around my shaft and moves me around as if inspecting me.  The scrutiny makes me slightly uncomfortable, but the feeling disappears as she draws me into her mouth.  I can’t stop myself from groaning as I feel her throat muscles contract, pulling me down her throat.  She makes a small, unpleasant choking sound as she pulls her head back, and she gasps, this time for air.

“Nope, can’t deepthroat you,” she says as she wipes her mouth.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to choke you,” I mutter.

Kelly laughs brightly.  “Don’t worry, it’s a good thing.  Besides, there are plenty of other things I can do with this.”  She stresses “this” by grabbing my shaft again and squeezing gently.  I can barely breathe, I’m so…  Aroused?  Horny?  No, I think the only appropriate word is maddened, driven to the brink of insanity by the anticipation of what’s to come.  Every nerve in my body is tingling, and I am hyperaware of every touch of her skin against mine as she removes my shirt… the sight of her standing and disrobing, exposing pale flesh, tiny yet perky breasts, a well-groomed landing strip… the sound of rumbling bass and high guitar chords…

…wait, what?

Through the walls, I hear, “I’ve been really tryyyyyyyyyyin’, baaaaaaby…”

Oh no.

The music continues, and Marvin Gaye croons to us.  “Tryin’ tah hooold back this feelin’, for soooooo looooooooooooooooooong…”

Kelly and I both look to the wall, eyes wide.  “And if you feel like I feel baby… come on, whoa, come on…”

Kelly quickly presses her fully nude body against mine, dancing against me, and sings along, “Let’s get it ooooooooooooon…………”  She nails the falsetto squeal and laughs again as she rests her head on my shoulder.  “Your neighbors have a fucked up sense of humor.”

“Yeah,” I say numbly, “sorry about that.  I got the condoms from him, so I guess he thought this would be funny.”

“Well…”  She looks up at me, and the wicked gleam in her eyes returns.  “If they want to be spectators, we may as well give them a good show…”

Within minutes, and for the next several hours, the music is drowned out by Kelly’s high-pitched, pleading cries, and I can’t help but think that this is what Marvin had in mind.

The next morning, I walk bleary-eyed into the communal kitchen of my hall, and am immediately greeted by thunderous applause and cheers from my hallmates.  My neighbor gives me a firm thumbs up.

All I can do is bow.

As I lie on my back, watching a cottony white cloud pass overhead, I find myself marveling at how easily dogs catch things with their mouths.

Perhaps humans simply aren’t biologically built for such things.  The canine jaw, as with most carnivores, is built to open wide, the better to allow large bones to be placed far enough back in the mouth to be crushed by the carnassials and molars, providing access to the nutritious marrow within.  Humans, omnivores that we are, don’t require such specialized dentition and jaw motion, so our mouths don’t open nearly as wide.  Certainly not wide enough to catch a tennis ball.

It’s not that I tried to catch it with my teeth or anything.  It just sort of happened that way.

The cloud is suddenly replaced by the silhouette of a person.  The otherwise formless being says something, but I’m distracted by the coppery taste in my mouth.  I run my tongue across my lower lip and feel the gashes left from the collision between lip and incisor.  I can put my tongue inside my lip.  This bothers me.

The formless person comes more sharply into view.  A woman with dark hair and a soft natural-looking tan stands over me.  She’s wearing capri-cut black yoga pants and a light blue form-fitting tank top.  A lovely, slender specimen of a woman.

“It slipped, I swear!!  Tonka just gets the ball so slobbery, it comes right out of my hand!  I’m so sorry it hit you!””

I notice the leash in her hand and follow it with my eyes to a large German shepherd mix, presumably Tonka, proudly holding the tennis ball in his mouth.  He looks at me as if to say, “See, this is how it’s done, dipshit.”

I finally sit up, groaning the entire way.  “S’okay, shit happens,” I mutter.  I spit a mouthful of blood into the grass between me and the dog.  He sniffs at it, then resumes judging my poor oral control.

His owner is more contrite.  She kneels beside me and puts an arm around my shoulders.  “Thank you so much for understanding!  Are you going to be okay?”

I’m more interested in her comforting gesture, and the view of the small-yet-lovely cleavage to which I am permitted from this angle, than I am my busted lip.  I try my most charming smile, but I’m sure its charm is lost amidst the blood.  “Seriously, it’s okay.  I’ve always wondered what dogs see in chasing balls.  I’ll consider this my first data point.”

She looks blankly at me.  “Your…. what?”

“Data point.”  I return her gaze briefly, then shake my head.  “Nevermind.  Bad joke.”

“Oh!”  She laughs now, seemingly relieved.  Maybe she’d thought I had a concussion or something.  “Well, you may have gotten more than you wanted.  There’s still some dog slobber on your chin.”

“The gift that keeps on giving,” I reply as I wipe Tonka drool off my chin.  I try not to wince.

She continues to smile, though her brow knits in concern.  “Seriously though, are you going to be okay?”

I laugh and nod.  “Sure, I’ll be okay.  Not the first time I’ve been hit in the mouth.  I just… you know… usually see it coming.”  She laughs again, and we make eye contact.

We hold it for a few moments.

She’s not looking away.

“But,” I continue, as though this were where I’d been going all along, “given the circumstances, I think the least you can do is grab a drink with me.”

She narrows her eyes and smirks.  “Oh really.  You don’t think your wife would disapprove?”  She gestures toward my left hand, toward the silver ring I wear.

Shit.  I almost get tripped up by that, but rather than call me a pig or some other barnyard euphamism, she continues to smirk.

So, I shrug and look over to Tonka.  “Most likely.  She’s more of a cat person.”  I reach out and snap my fingers, and Tonka rushes immediately to my side, dropping the ball beside me, eager to illustrate why his catching skills are superior to my own.  I pick it up and wipe some of the slobber off.  Tonka whines encouragingly.

“Me, I prefer dogs,” I continue.  “They don’t judge you like cats do.  They’re more in the moment, willing to overlook the unimportant details and quick to forgive any offense.”  I chuck the ball across the grassy field, and Tonka tears off after it, barking happily.  “Just give them a target, something to pursue, and they’re happy.”  I look back at her.  “I like that.”

Her smirk remains, but it’s more playful than before.  She shakes her head and rises, offering me a hand to help me do the same.  We stand a few inches apart, and she gestures over her shoulder with a nod of her head.  “My place is a few blocks that way.  You walk me and Tonka home, and we’ll see about that drink.”

“Fair enough,” I reply coolly.

Seven hours later, as I mount his owner from behind, I can’t help but smirk at Tonka as he watches me glumly, all the while thinking to myself, See, this is how it’s done.

Sorry for the poor quality of the following post.  My heart just isn’t in the writing tonight, I’m afraid.  It’s been a rough day, so I want nothing more than to relax with a good book and a Corona to keep me company.

But I must keep my writing schedule, and so I present the following story.  There will likely be no follow-up to it, as the date wasn’t nearly as exciting as I had hoped, but this encounter has been on my mind for a while now.  I’ll do my best to have something more interesting up Friday.

—————————————————–

I sit at an individually-sized plastic table outside a small university coffee shop, pounding out line after line on my laptop.  No more than three feet away are dozens of passers-by, pedestrians meandering toward God knows where, conversing in a language I can’t hope to comprehend and won’t bother trying.  I’ve come to interpret it as white noise, a meaningless drone that mingles with the sounds of engines and car horns.  Not the ideal work space, but given that my hotel’s internet is shoddy at best, it’s more convenient to work someplace near the university where I can get a wi-fi signal.  Plus I’ve never had coffee like this.

I pause and take a long, slow sip of the hot beverage.  The spreading warmth makes my torso sweat more than usual.  My colleagues hadn’t exaggerated the climate of southeast Asia–a combination of heat and humidity so stifling that it makes it difficult to breathe at times for those of us unaccustomed to such extremes.  Sure, it gets hot back home, hotter than this, in fact.  But never does the air feel this close, this… thick.  And the hot coffee isn’t doing much to alleviate my discomfort.  But it has a stronger, more pleasing flavor than I’ve ever experienced, so I swallow my discomfort along with the bitter satisfaction that can only be found at the bottom of a good cup of joe.

“Excuse me?”

When all you are accustomed to hearing is the foreign language white noise, English really stands out.  So much so, in fact, that I am slightly startled.  I look up from my laptop, equally startled and annoyed at the unexpected interruption.  The annoyance quickly passes, however, when I take in the speaker.  A young East Asian woman in business-casual attire: white blouse, blue-black jacket, matching pants, and black heeled dress shoes.  Her hair is pulled back into a ponytail, which gives prominence to her rounded facial features and large almond eyes, and she smells vaguely of frankincense.  She smiles politely and holds her hands in a common gesture of greeting and what I interpret as supplication.

I put on my most charming smile and stand, returning the gesture and greeting her in what I’m sure is a true bastardization of her language.  She doesn’t comment, but merely repeats the gesture with more intensity.  It’s almost like fighting to see who can be more gracious.  I let her win.

“Can I help you with something?” I ask.

She recovers and stands a bit taller.  “Yes.  I want to tell you that I heard your lecture yesterday at university.”  Her English is gramatically sound, but her accent is strong, making it tricky to follow her.  “I saw you across the street and wanted to thank you.”

I laugh and look down at myself, pointedly making a show of examining my baggy cargo shorts, thin polo shirt, and sandals.  “I don’t know how you recognized me out of my professional attire and sans glasses, but I certainly appreciate you coming over to thank me.  It’s really nice to know my work isn’t quite as boring as I suspect.”

She laughs and shakes her head.  “No, no, not at all!  It was very interesting!”  I nod my thanks again, which induces another supplicating gesture from her.  “In fact, I was hoping you might want to meet with me later to talk about my work and some collaboration ideas over drinks.”

My spidey sense is tingling.

“Sure, of course.  When were you hoping to meet?”

“Tomorrow night, if that is good for you.”  She pulls a notebook from her pocket, scrawls a few lines, and rips out the page.  “Here is my phone number.  Call me tomorrow around 6:00?”

I take the page and check her handwriting.  Written across the top, in both the flowing alphasyllabaric of her region and in English, is her name–Minh.

“Minh,” I say experimentally.  “What a lovely name.”  I can see her cheeks redden as she laughs and repeats the gesture.  I grin and return it.  “I’ll call you tomorrow night.”

“Thank you,” Minh says.  She smiles and gives me a small wave as she turns on her heel, her ponytail whipping after her.  She walks away with the same professional manner as most women in the region, with no hint of sexuality whatsoever.  I am almost disappointed, but I see her cast a glance over her shoulder, toward me, and I detect the faint hint of a nervously self-satisfied smile.  She narrowly avoids eye contact and disappears into the pedestrian sea.

I return to my laptop, taking a moment to consider the note still clutched in my hand.  I pocket it and quickly type out an e-mail to Shelley.

–Guess who has a work date with a sexy woman tomorrow!!

A moment passes before I get her response.

–Every work date is sexy when you’re with me.

“Smartass,” I mutter, but I can’t help but laugh.  The expressions of the older couple beside me suggests they think I’m insane.  I raise my mug to them and take another sip of my still hot coffee.

“The man sat, terrified, as the snake woman wrapped her long body around him, holding him tightly in her coils.  She said to him, ‘Do you remember those two white birds you set free?  They were mine.’ ”  My voice is harsh and raspy, and I emphasize the ‘s’ sounds to simulate the hiss of a talking snake.  ” ‘And because you turned them loose, I am going to eat you.’ ”

I’m leaning forward, eyes narrowed dangerously, staring into the faces of two entranced six year old girls.  They are huddled under their blankets in their shared full-size bed, watching me with eyes as wide as dinner plates, mouths slightly agape in what I assume is wonderment.  They don’t look tired at all.  Perhaps I picked the wrong story.

I shift into a deeper register and add an element of panic.  “‘But I didn’t know they were yours!’ said the man.  ‘Isn’t there some way for me to fix this?’ ”

One of the girls jumps a little and shouts, “I know!  I know!  He can just kill the snake woman!”

“Ahh, but the man had already thought of this,” I say sagely.  “The snake woman was magical, and she was huge!”  I stretch my arms as wide as I can, and the girls giggle.  “His only hope was for the snake to give him a chance.  And he knew that magic always gives you a chance.”

“Ooooohhhhhhhhhhhhh…..”  Both girls say it in unison, as though magic giving you a chance made complete and total sense.  I can’t help but smile at them.  They’re an adorable pair of tow-headed twins, and they are genuinely enjoying the folk story I chose to tell them.  But it’s not how I expected to be spending my evening.

“Girls, be quite and listen to the story!”  Toni, the girls’ mother, is laughing over my shoulder.  I turn to see her standing in the doorway, leaning against the frame with her arms crossed.  She’s lovely, even with her shoulder length hair pulled back in a pony tail and standing in her lounge pants and t-shirt, which she put on after spilling her daughters’ juice on her nicer attire from earlier in the evening.  I marvel briefly at how things work out.  I’d met her at the bar and, after two hours of intense conversation and smooth talking, she invited me to come home with her.  She insisted her kids would be asleep, but evidently, the sitter hadn’t been successful.  Rather than let the night turn into a total bust, I offered to tell them a story to get them to sleep, and to make myself more appealing to Toni  (After all, what single mother doesn’t love a guy who can entertain her kids?)

It seems to be working.  Toni winks at me.  “I’ll go put on some coffee for when you finish.”  She points at her daughters and gives them a playfully fierce expression, which they return, and leaves the room.

I turn back to the girls, my eyes narrowed again, and they immediately resume their listening positions, knees to their chests, wrapped in a blanket.  “So, back to the man and the snake woman…”

I spend the next twenty minutes regaling the girls with my favorite folk story.  They are as rapt an audience as I could ever hope for, though incapable of resisting the urge to insert comments in the story.  They listen intently as I tell them of the snake woman’s admission that ringing the nearby church bell would free him.  (“See, magic always gives you a chance!”)  They cry out in protest when the snake woman refuses to let the man leave to find and ring the bell.  (“That’s not fair, she’s cheating!!”)  They are shocked when, just as the snake woman tries to eat him, the man hears the bell ringing anyway, and the snake and her house both disappear.  (“Who rung the bell?!  I bet it was a fairy!!”)  One of them sniffles as they discover the bell was rung by the two birds the man had freed one year ago, by slamming their bodies into it, injuring themselves in the process.  (“They wanted to save him like he saved them from being eaten!!”)  And they both cheer when the man cares for the birds, heals them, and sets them free again.  (“I knew there was a happy ending!”)

By the time I finish, the girls are physically drained from the bouncing and shouting.  As Toni is nowhere to be seen, I rise and tuck them into bed, promising to tell them another story the next time I come over if they stay down and go to sleep.  (I don’t anticipate doing so any time soon, but they are insistent.)  They both hug me around the neck, their discomfort with me as a stranger overwhelmed by their enjoyment of the story, before curling up beside each other.  I switch on the Tinkerbell night light and carefully close the door behind me.

I pad down the hall silently, drawn by the enticing aroma of freshly brewed coffee.  Toni is curled up on the couch facing the muted television, her back to me.  I round the sofa, preparing my best “I put your kids to bed, now let’s do this” dialogue, but am caught by surprised when I see her eyes are closed, and her head is propped up slightly against the back cushion.  She is breathing slowly, deeply, clearly sound asleep.  I watch her for a moment, weighing my options, but I am reminded of how unpleasantly cranky a mother bear can be when roused too early from her slumber.  I decide not to wake her.

Instead, I lean forward and kiss her on the forehead lightly.  “Sleep well, Mama Bear.”

I help myself to a red Solo cup of fresh hot coffee and let myself out of the small apartment, setting the lock on the door knob as I quietly shut myself out.  I feel slightly disappointed that the evening ended so anticlimactically, but the disappointment is tinged with a hint of pride, the source of which I can’t quite identify.  But the coffee is good, and I let it warm my hands as I make my way toward the parking lot.

I walk through the door to my shared college house and deposit my muddy shoes in the entryway.  It had been raining all day long, an unusual occurrence for late summer, but one that fit my mood perfectly.  I had spent the day dreading my return home, afraid of what was going to happen, how she was going to take it.  I couldn’t see it being anything but terribly unpleasant at best, and relationship-ruining at worst.  But I had to tell her.  It wouldn’t be right for me not to.

Ashley is lounging on the couch in her tiny workout shorts and baggy t-shirt, indicating that none of our housemates are home.  She sprawls in that manner that only tall, athletic people can.  Her legs, impossibly long and muscled, are spread wide, one resting on the back of the couch, the other on the coffee table.  One arm is above her head and bent to prop her head up, and the other hangs limply on the floor.  It would look decidedly uncomfortable, even painful, on a person of slighter stature; she, however, displays all the comfort of a house cat lounging atop its favorite precarious bookshelf.

Her face lights up when she sees me.  “Hey sweetheart, how was school?”

“Schooly,” I reply glumly.  I set my backpack on the floor beside the couch and look down at her.  I take a steadying breath, steeling my resolve, and say as gently as I can, “Ashley, I need to talk to you.”

Her face immediately darkens, and she sits up.  “Okay…  Sit down, let’s talk.”  She switches off the television and pats the cushion beside her.

I sit beside her and interlace my fingers in my lap to keep my hands from shaking.  My heart races, and my chest tightens in anticipation.  I feel like a coward on the front lines of a battle he never expected to face.  Or maybe a brave man walking to the guillotine.  Either analogy holds, I think.

Ashley looks at me, and I think she can tell how nervous I am.  I look away and stare at the darkened television.  She puts a reassuring hand on my knee.  “Honey… what’s wrong?”

I swallow, even though my mouth is dry.  The act strains my throat and causes mild discomfort.  I focus on that pain rather than the anxiety.  I take a deep breath.

“I’ve cheated on you.”

I had intended the admission to be calm and assertive, but it comes out quiet, almost meek.  I keep staring straight ahead, refusing to look at her, struggling to maintain what little composure I can. I hear her breathing beside me, and I keep expecting to hear the heartbroken sobs.  But they never come.  Her hand remains comfortingly on my knee as she asks calmly, “When?”

“Several times,” I reply.  Her measured reaction has bolstered my confidence, and I speak more plainly.  “Since we first started dating, I’ve slept with several other women on multiple occasions.  Don’t bother asking me who because I won’t tell you, nor will I tell you how many.  I don’t think those facts are important.  But I wanted you to know.”

“I wouldn’t ask,” Ashley responds.  Her voice has softened a bit, but she has retained her composure.  “Why are you telling me now?”

I lick my parched lips and sigh.  “Because of last night.”

“When you asked me to marry you.”

I nod.  “It’s been eating me alive for days.  I’ve almost made myself sick worrying about what you would say, about whether you would leave me on the spot.  And you would be completely justified if you did.”  I look down at her hand on my knee, at the small diamond resting on her right hand.  I tentatively reach out and place my hand on hers, touching the gem.  “I asked you to marry me because, when you look at me, you see something I never have, and for the first time in my life, I want to live up to that image.  But I can’t do that if you don’t know what I’ve done, and who I am.”

I take another deep breath and lift my head to face her.  Her eyes are reddened by tears she refuses to let fall.  She’s staying strong, either because she wants to hear me out or because she doesn’t want to lose it yet.  Either way, her expression is like a fist in my gut.  But I push on.  “I’m weak, and shallow, and selfish, despite what you may think.  I’ve cheated on every woman I’ve ever been in a relationship with, including you.  And I can’t promise it won’t happen again.  But I can promise that you are the only woman who has ever made me want to be faithful.  That may not be worth much to some people, but that’s a hell of a thing for me.”

Ashley can’t stop herself now, and the tears roll freely down her cheeks.  I squeeze her hand gently as I finish.  “I’m sorry for hurting you like this.  I know this is probably the last thing you expected after last night.  But I had to tell you, because I love you like I never thought was possible.  And it didn’t feel right to go into this without telling you the truth.”

I stop and look away again, because I can’t bear the pain on Ashley’s face.  I can hear her labored breathing.  She sniffs gently, and a faint whimper escapes her.  It hurts worse than her expression did.  But I wait, sitting still and silent, giving her the time she needs to process this admission, to decide what she wants to do.

And I am surprised when she whispers, “I love you.”

I look to her again, and she’s smiling.  It’s a pained thing, but it’s a smile, regardless.

“I don’t care about your faults,” she continues.  “No one is perfect.  No one will ever live up to the dream we have of the person we’ll spend forever with, and if you spend your whole life looking for that one perfect person, you’ll always be alone.  But you’re as close as I think is possible.”  She clasps my hand fully in both of hers.  “You make me happier than I’ve ever been, you take care of me, and you protect me.  You’ve let me down here, but this is one mistake on a long list of everything you’ve done right.  I would be stupid to let you go because of that.”  Ashley leans forward and kisses my cheek.  “You told me the truth, so I believe you mean everything you’ve said.  And I forgive you.”

Her smile wavers, and her eyes well up again.  She sets her jaw in a serious frown.  “But if I ever catch you cheating on me after this, God Himself won’t be able to help you.”

I hear the anger she’s struggling to control, and I nod slightly.  The only word I can manage is, “Understood.”

She scoots closer to me, hip to hip, and wraps her arms around me.  I respond in kind, and she buries her face in the crook of my neck.  I hold her while she cries softly.  I pet her hair as I struggle to contain my own emotions.  It’s a strange sensation, voluntarily trading months of guilt for a single moment of fear and sadness, but there, with Ashley in my arms, I feel strangely relieved.  I feel free.