“You have five – no – six strikes against you, Hy.”
“I have six now??”
“Yes. P-E-Y-T-O-N.” My child’s name.
We had just spent the evening together and I lay naked beside him, a dollop of cream in a dish of dark blueberry preserve. I’d made us dinner and quizzed him on the fresh herbs bunched in my hands while potatoes and asparagus roasted in the oven. “Smell this one,” I’d said and lifted a bouquet to his nose, “and try this,” and put his hand on my breast.
I was apprehensive before he’d come over. Not the usual butterflies, but something different. First of all, I was now fully shaken about my date with Mitchell the night before and second, he had been shady a number of times during the week. I didn’t know if I could handle a long, drawn out evening with him.
Over dinner the conversation turned to a girl he knew in college who had somehow “asked” for being raped. “If I wore a suit of $100 bills in the ghetto and got mugged, I’m partly responsible,” he reasoned, “Therefore, she’s partly responsible for meeting two strange dudes in a park to do drugs.” I blanched.
“That just isn’t true at all! First of all, getting mugged and raped aren’t even remotely the same, secondly, no one has the right to harm another person. Yes, maybe she didn’t make the brightest decision, but that in no way makes her responsible for what happened to her!”
I took a deep breath and plunged on, “Because by that logic, what happened to me last night was entirely my fault.”
Silence hung heavy around us as he gaped at me. “Hy, were you raped??”
“No, no, nothing like that. But I was sexually assaulted.” He listened intently as I told my tale of misbegotten lust and quickly changed his tune.
“Hy, it doesn’t matter what you were doing, he had no right to do that! I’m so sorry that happened to you. Oh my God, I want to kill that guy!” His reaction made me feel better, this protective bear persona isn’t one I’ve felt from other men in the past. He went on to tell me I needed to stop dating men off the internet to which I responded how was I supposed to meet people otherwise? He was genuinely concerned about me and said he wished I’d stop for a while. Tears welled in my eyes as I looked into his pale blue ones. I told him I wasn’t sure I could, that I had a need inside of me, thinking all the while that the only reason I put myself out there in the first place was to replace him.
We moved to the couch and he put his arms around me while we watched Game of Thrones. He was sensitive to touching me now for fear of traumatizing me. “You can’t hurt me, TN. I trust you,” I assured him as I guided his hand to my breast.
“Are you sure?”
I sat curled in his embrace and felt safe and forlorn. His skin warm on mine, the lights from the TV flickered shadows on the walls.
We went down to the hot tub next and I suffered through an extended chat with a grown man who bragged about dating women 10 and 14 years younger than him. Girls, actually. Eighteen, 19, 20 year olds when he was 32 to 37. TN couldn’t see my eyes rolling in the dark, but eventually I stood up and walked by him perched on the edge and murmured, “I’m done,” climbed out and silently put on my robe. He casually followed my lead.
Away from the pool he said, “You didn’t like that talk about 18 year olds, did you?”
“That guy exhausted me. Such bullshit.” I felt dirty all over again.
Upstairs outside our doors I sensed he was ready to go to home, but instead I told him I needed more from him still, from the best boyfriend I’ve never had. He nodded.
In my room, he threw me down and fell on top of me and kissed me deeply and passionately. Mouths opened wide and tongues sparred. He began to moan as he ground against the cradle of my pelvis.
“No fucking tonight,” he said sadly. His fear of transmitting his pseudo-chicken pox had returned. He couldn’t justify putting me at risk since the bumps were now on his shaft. Instead he grabbed a towel and laid it beneath my bottom. His fingers played my pussy like a maestro and I arched and convulsed, squirted and splattered everywhere. Again and again and again.
He handed me my vibe and stroked me while my clit danced under the bulbous head. I came long and hard and then sadness swept over me. I began to cry my new cry. My cry of heartbreak and longing, of sexual release and pleasure. He held me gently and watched for a while then leaned over me and took my mouth in mid-sob. His lips pressed hard against mine as I whimpered into his mouth. My heart shattered as he absorbed my cries.
He leaned back and looked at me. “I want you to cum on me,” I said, watching his face intently in the candlelight.
“Not tonight,” he answered with a mischievous grin.
And that was how the rest of the night started.
“I don’t get you, TN. Not at all. And I think you like that. Are you a Sadist? Do you like confusing me?”
“No, not at all.”
“Then why are you so mysterious all the time??”
“I’m not sure,” was his honest answer. We sat in silence for a beat or two.
“Do you know why I date other men??” He shook his head. “To replace you.” He looked at me with a surprised question in his eye. “Yes, the only reason I attempt to date is to find someone like you, but who wants me like I want him. You have this engineered plan for you life — which is your right entirely — and I don’t fall into that box so you’re going to just pass me up. How are you going to feel in 5 years? Will you be happy with your decision?”
He said he thought so. “The thing is, Hy, I want to find my life partner now. Sure, I don’t want to get married or have kids for at least another 5 years, but I want to find her now. And as soon as I reach my goal weight this is going to end. I’m going to start looking for her. And if I go on 14 dates with someone and never even fuck her, the day I actually want to go on that 14th date is when you and I have to stop.”
He’s 4 lbs away from his goal.
“I think I’m the best girlfriend you’ve never had.”
“You’re probably right.”
“But I don’t have any idea how you really feel about me. I know you like me, but that’s all I know.”
“I more than like you, Hy. I care about you.”
“I don’t know the difference.”
“I like Kristine. But I care about you.” The distinction is a significant one for us, she’s the girl-friend-who-wouldn’t-touch-him.
“Thanks for telling me. I never knew for sure. You also need to think about what you’re going to tell your girlfriend about me. If you want me in your life at all, you can’t tell her we slept together. Ever. She won’t allow us to be friends.”
“I won’t tell her anything unless she asks me point-blank.”
“I still think you should just lie. It’s none of her business and that way we can still be friends.”
“I’ve thought about this a lot, actually, and I’ve decided that any woman I’m with needs to trust me. If she can’t be ok with me being friends with you, then it’ll be over. She’s gone.” My heart thumped and skittered. He’s willing to end a relationship with a woman if he can’t be friends with me. This ride never ends, does it?
“But you’ve still made your decision about me and I can live with that. If that’s the price I have to pay to be with you — someone whom I think is wonderful, kind, sexy, and just plain great — then I’ll pay it, but I’m not going to keep putting up with you being shady. I appreciate everything you’re telling me tonight, but stop the shady shit. I know every time you are and it makes me crazy. If you want to transition this smoothly so we can remain friends, you better start being honest with me. Tell me when you’re with another woman so I won’t text you; tell me when you have plans with her so I won’t ask you. Follow my lead, do what I’ve been doing. But stop being fucking shady. It’s not cool.”
His gaze never left mine as I finished my admonition. “Look at me, Hyacinth,” he said gently, “and hear me. You’re right. I’ve been shitty and shady and I promise to try my best to not do that anymore. You deserve better than that, you do. I just feel so uncomfortable talking about it with you. I’ve handled it badly.”
He lounged at my feet and so I closed the distance between him, my nakedness bathed in soft light. “You have handled it badly. I always know.” He pulled me close and wrapped his arms around me, buried his face in my breasts.
“Stop being so goddamned smart,” he mumbled into my skin.
“That’s not going to happen. And I also want the promise that you won’t get bent out of shape when I call you on your bullshit. Don’t lie, don’t get defensive. If I see you being shady again, face me.”
“Ok. You have my solemn promise.”
Placated, I laid back down. His hands were warm on my legs and feet and I traced patterns on his calves. I took another deep breath, “My heart is a little broken about all of this, you know. My friends all think I should stop seeing you and think it’s ridiculous.” I could sense his surprise like a bursting balloon.
“Really??” he asked, shock on his face.
“Yes, really. What would you tell a friend who had feelings for a man who didn’t return them? You’d tell her to dump him.”
“Yeah, I would.”
“Well… there you go. But I tell them all that this is what I want and that I’m making the decision. If you told me tomorrow that you had feelings for me I don’t know what I’d do. I’m so hurt, so broken from my marriage I’m terrified of commitment. I don’t know if I could do it, but I’d likely tell you I’d give it a shot.”
“I hate that your friends hate me.”
“They don’t hate you, at all. They just want me to be happy and they don’t understand why I’m doing this.”
“But you’ve always known this wouldn’t work out. And you have five – no – six strikes against you, Hy.”
“I have six now??”
“Are you serious? Oh my god.” I felt slapped. I know he’s been saying for months now that he didn’t want a woman with a child, but I’d never personalized it to hear “I don’t want Peyton.” My sweet, loving, precocious, miraculous little child whom anyone would be lucky to have in his life.
“You’re an idiot,” the words leapt from me. He blinked. “I mean, on the one hand you’re a great guy, but then you’re an idiot. I’m sorry.”
I’m not sure what we said after that, but there was no discord, not even a little bit. I told him I was tired. That’s the first time in 6 months I ever ended a night between us before him. I’m certain he noticed it. He came over and kissed me goodnight, turned out all the lights for me and left. I rolled over into my pillow and cried, my tears soaked my pillowcase, my body still lay in the tears from my cunt. He might have just made this easier for me than he realizes.