part one of 2 starring the same heroine...pretty much in the same vein as my other 2 stories...
Life Just South of the Big City
With a weary sigh, a young woman with luxurious light brown hair streaked with blonde flopped down on a queen mattress between a pile of clothes on hangars and a box labeled “Stuff that goes with other stuff”. She fumbled absently behind her head for her purse, finally grabbed the strap, and pulled her wallet out. She pulled a twenty (her second to last one) out and lay patiently on the bed staring at the ceiling and hoping the air conditioning would take hold at some point and begin to cool the room when there was a knock on her door. She forced herself to get up and navigated the maze of boxes and bags and cases that littered the floor. She checked through the peephole, unlocked the door, and smiled at her Savior.
He was maybe 17, handsome in that pimply-faced, college freshman way, and best of all, he had her pizza. He read off the ticket attached to the warmer bag.
“Medium pizza and breadsticks and sauce?”
He looked up and his eyes popped, and then Chris realized what she must look like. She was wearing a gray half shirt that said “Property of”. The remaining half which indicated to which major league franchise she belonged was a distant memory. The length of the shirt did little to hide the bottom of her dark scarlet, satin bra, and her flat stomach gleamed with sweat. Her jean shorts were just that also showing evidence of some rather daring scissors work sometime in the past, and her lithe legs seemed to go on pretty much forever down to toes painted with Scarlet Pumpernickel.
She mentally shrugged and held out the $20. He continued to stare at her legs until she coughed lightly and flashed the smile that when coupled with her bluer than blue eyes made men throw their underwear at her. He could stand the smile for only a minute and looked down at the ticket again.
“Ummm. It’s $12.80.”
She wiggled the twenty again and laughed.
“Just give me $5 back, and tell me if there’s a place around here that sells grape soda. Crush if they have it.”
He slipped the two boxes and one plastic container filled with marinara sauce out of the warmer bag, handed it to her, took the money, and fumbled for a $5 which he gave to her. As she turned back into her apartment and set the pizza down on a box, he watched her shorts ride the rest of the way up her tight buns.
“Umm. Foster’s is around the corner on Commonwealth. They’ve got a lot of stuff…beer, pop, snacks. I don’t know if they have any grape soda though.”
He stood there staring at her and then blinked his eyes.
“Thanks for the tip.”
Chris smiled and stepped back into her apartment.
“You’re welcome. Nite.”
Chris closed the door and giggled. She grabbed the pizza, breadsticks, and sauce, detoured once to the kitchen for a cold beer and kicked a pile of pillows together in front of the soon-to-be- bedroom TV which sat precariously atop one of her bulging suitcases. As she devoured the first piece, she flipped on the TV thankful that her apartment building had its own cable setup. ESPN’s game of the week was her beloved Yankees and the hated Red Sox. She rotated pizza, breadsticks, sauce, and beer careful to give each its proper due as she watched the altogether too cute Andy Pettitte spin a masterful 3 hit shut out.
With a stifled yawn, she clicked off the TV, left the empty boxes to cure overnight on the floor, and carefully removed a suit from one of her garment bags. It was a standard business suit in dark grey and was none the worse for the trip in from North Carolina. She located the suitcase with her work blouses, selected a pale scarlet one in shimmering silk, and hung the entire ensemble on a hook on the back of the bathroom door.
She pushed the box and clothes to one side of the mattress, threw down some sheets and a blanket, and returned to the bathroom for her nightly cleansing. In 10 short minutes, she was clad in loose fitting boxers emblazoned with a Denver Broncos logo (a gift from a friend of hers who thought he was funny) and an oversized scarlet t-shirt. She flipped off the lights, tripped over a box, and landed in bed with a sore toe. She rubbed it a few times and then lay back to stare at the ceiling.
“Welcome to the little city just south of the big city, Christine. I hope you know what you’re doing.”
She lay there waiting for sleep to come and then sat bolt upright.
“Shit. No wonder I can’t sleep.”
She stumbled over the same box, this time cursing its rather dubious ancestry, and flipped the lights back on. She rummaged through a few boxes before locating a delicate porcelain doll with soft brown curls. She set the doll on the pile of clothes to her left on the mattress.
“Hope you didn’t suffocate in there. So tell me, is moving to San Antonio a mistake?”
The doll didn’t answer.
“I had to get out of Davis and Davis. The Old Boy network was killing me.”
The doll looked at her and seemed to nod.
“Walters, Richards, and Van Dyne has a reputation for treating all of its lawyers well.”
The doll smiled.
“So it WAS the right move. Cool.”
Chris rolled over and was soon asleep dreaming very few champagne wishes but at least one caviar dream.
Morning came earlier that it had any right to, and Chris spent an inordinate amount of time in shower letting the hot water beat some of the post-moving stiffness out of her muscles and joints. It didn’t work. Freshly washed and dried and smelling just ever so slightly of an exotic tropical scent, Chris grabbed her suitcase and purse and left her cluttered apartment for her first day as a big city Texas lawyer. Her car was a brand new Dodge Avenger purchased with the last of her savings before she left North Carolina.
She pulled a folded sheet of directions with the clever Walters, Richards, and Van Dyne logo on the top. They were precise and easy to follow, and in about thirty minutes, she was standing feeling a little out of place in the reception area of her new workplace. With a deep breath, she squared her shoulders, marched resolutely (or as resolutely one can march in heels) towards the receptionist, and put on a businesslike smile.
The receptionist looked up and smiled back. They dueled for just a moment upping the wattage on their smiles until they both either put on sunglasses or gave in. With a giggle, Chris extended her hand.
“I’m Christine Maye. I’m supposed to meet with Jen Walters.”
The receptionist shook her hand and stood up.
“She’s waiting for you in her office.”
Seeing the look of horror on Christine’s face, she put a hand on her arm and laughed.
“No no. You’re not late. She’s in here every morning at 6 am. The schedule says 8:30, and that’s what she meant. She likes to come in early and go home early if possible to meet her daughter when she comes home from school.”
The receptionist guided her back into the offices which were done in a beech and anodized steel and aluminum with a profusion of leafy plants, bright prints on the walls, and floor to ceiling windows everywhere. They stopped in front of an open door.
“Oh, by the way, I’m Angelica Howard, but call me Angie please. Good luck.”
Chris smiled at her and then knocked on the open door. A very tall, dark-haired woman with a statuesque figure stood up from behind her desk. She motioned Chris into her office and gave her a warm smile and firm handshake.
“Welcome to San Antonio, Chris. Did you get settled in ok?”
Chris set her briefcase and purse down next to a comfortable chair covered in forest green fabric. Jen sat down next to her in a similar chair in canary yellow.
“Yes, thank you. The movers were quite efficient. I was ready to start unpacking by 7 last nite. I didn’t start, but at least I was ready to.”
Jen smiled, leaned over to her desk, pulled a folder off the corner, set it back down, and stood up.
“Oh before we get started, I should give you a tour and introduce you to a few important people.”
Chris stood up and followed her out of the office.
It was a lengthy tour as Walters, Richards, and Van Dyne was one of San Antonio’s largest and most wealthy firms, but Jen kept it lively offering personal asides and harmless office gossip about a wide variety of people. By the time they returned to her office, Chris knew the three most important people: Angie who screened everyone before they entered the Inner Sanctum, Jack, the copy guy, and Jessie, their most effective researcher and unofficial librarian.
“Can I get you something to drink? Coffee, tea, pop?”
Chris smiled and nodded.
“I’d kill for a grape soda, but Coke will be fine if you don’t have it.”
Jen laughed and disappeared for a minute. She returned carrying a plate of fresh pastries and two cans of pop, one Diet Coke and a Crush Grape Soda.
Chris, feeling completely at ease now, laughed as she accepted the soda. Jen pulled a small table between them, set the plate and her drink on there, and grabbed her folder again. She opened the folder and got Chris through a host of paper signings, office procedures, and various rules and regulations that distinguished Texas law from North Carolina law. 3 hours later, Jen snapped the folder shut, handed pertinent copies to Chris, and stood up and stretched.
“Lunch? I’ve thrown a lot at you today, so if you want to, we’ll go out, my treat, come back and get you settled in your office, and throw your first cases your way tomorrow.”
“Jen, thank you for taking the time to make me feel so at home here. This is a big change from Davis and Davis.”
Jen smiled and gave her a quick hug which surprised her a bit.
“I’ve got a secret to share with you. When I first saw your resum?nd qualifications and realized you worked for those bastards, pardon my language, I knew you would fit in perfect here.”
Chris looked at her quizzically.
“You knew them before you hired me?”
Jen smiled a naughty smile.
“You bet. I’m the former Mrs. William James Davis III.”
Chris looked at her in shock.
“Will used to be a decent guy until he started working closely with his brother. But he changed. I divorced him, moved here with two other lawyers, and started our own firm. You’re the perfect hire: eminently qualified, and we get you out of that hellhole.”
Chris laughed as they walked out towards the elevators. Angie and Janet Van Dyne joined them, and they had a nice, friendly lunch at the caf?n the ground floor of their building.
Back in her own office after lunch, Chris read through the sheaf of papers Jen had given her, made some notes on a legal pad, unpacked the few office supply things from her briefcase that she had brought with her, and made several runs to the office storeroom to get pads, pens, paper clips, and all the other disposables. At 4:50, a very cute young man stopped by and slid her freshly minted nameplate into the slot on her doorway, stopped to gawk at her for a second, and then turned and left.
Chris raised her eyebrows and smiled.
“They sure grow ‘em cute here in Texas.”
She read through her notes one more time, tidied her desk, and headed for the door. Angie was shutting down her computer as she walked by.
“Hey, Chris. You need somebody to show you around town? I’ll be happy to do it.”
Chris smiled and shook her head.
“Maybe tomorrow night? I want to get as much unpacked and in place tonight as I can.”
“Fair enough. Let me know if you want to, and I’ll give you the 25 cent tour.”
“What’s on the fifty cent tour?”
“Oh then I show you where all the cute guys hang out.”
Chris fished in her wallet and pulled out two quarters.
“I can pay in advance, right?”
Angie laughed, and they took the elevator down to the parking garage together.
Chris spent an annoying hour in traffic and finally made it home. Her apartment was pleasantly cool. Another benefit of this building was that they paid for the air conditioning. Chris reminded herself to thank Sue Richards for getting her in. She looked at the jumble of boxes and sighed.
“Looks like a four to six beer job at least.”
She dumped her stuff off beside the door and stripped out of her work clothes. She carefully hung the suit and blouse in her wholly empty closet and set the heels on the shoe caddy which was maybe the only thing in the right place in her apartment. Clad only in a scarlet cotton bra and matching undies, she pawed through her suitcases until she found a battered old t-shirt from her pre-law school days. She wriggled into the Friendly’s promo shirt and slid on a pair of cotton shorts. She padded to the fridge, grabbed a Corona, and went back into the bedroom to begin the torture.
As it turned out, she overestimated the number of beers. (The one with dinner didn’t count.) So, feeling pleasantly happy and tired, Chris slid between the sheets in her fully-furnished and decorated apartment and fell asleep. Her first “real” day was a nice return to normalcy, and at the end of the day, she had that satisfied feeling that she always got from digging into a case and getting her hands dirty. She had decided to beg off of Angie’s tour one more day pleading post-moving exhaustion.
Her father had emailed her a housewarming present that previous night, a box seat ticket at the Will Call window to the Rangers-Yankee game on the first baseline. It was a pretty ugly drive to Arlington, but she figured she could make it. Jen was more than happy to let her go early especially seeing how much work she had accomplished already on her first case, and so at 2:30, she was on the road headed for the ballpark.
She got there just barely in time for the first pitch and had just enough time to pee and grab a hot dog. She settled back into the seat wearing a scarlet sleeveless blouse and white cotton shorts. Her hair was pulled up in a coed style pony tail, and she soaked in the sights and smells.
“Excuse me. Can I slip through?”
Chris looked up (into the sun) and was instantly blinded. She shielded her eyes as she tucked her legs closer to the seat. A tall man with wavy, blonde hair inched around her and sat two seats down.
Chris smiled and turned back to the game, peeking at him out of the corner of her eye. He was boyishly handsome with cute dimples on his cheeks. He was wearing a Rodriguez jersey, a beaten Rangers cap, and well worn blue jeans. He saw her peeking at him while he was peeking at her, and they both turned away pretending to look at something else.
Knoblauch singled. Chris cheered. The man looked at her and smiled. He spoke in a mild southern drawl that was both annoying and endearing.
“You Yankees sure are brazen…comin’ down to Texasssss and cheerin’ like y’all do.”
Chris smiled and stuck her tongue out.
“I’m a southern belle transplanted from New Jersey by way of North Carolina.”
He laughed, and they lapsed into silence, occasionally peeking at each other surreptitiously. Several innings passed by. Chris ordered a beer and peanuts from the vendor. The blonde man had nachos. In the third, Gonzalez homered. Chris booed.
“Awww c’mon now, missy. That there was an impressive homer.”
“Been more impressive if Bernie Williams had hit it.”
He laughed at her and turned back to the game. They bantered on and off for another two innings when he leaned across the empty seat and held out his hand.
Chris shook his hand.
“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn…who’s sitting here.”
He stood up and slipped into the seat next to her as Chris laughed.
“I’m Christine. Christine Maye.”
He smiled, and they lapsed into silence again. Chris broke the ice again.
“What do you do besides come to ballpark and harass innocent young women?
“I’m a Professor of Agriculture at SACC.”
“San Antonio Community College. North of town. We’ve got about 3000 students mostly Associates degree stuff, but we do some research in farming. How ‘bout you, Miss Scarlet?”
“I’m a trial lawyer. I just got hired in at a firm in downtown San Antonio. In fact today was my second day.”
“Congratulations. Which firm?”
“Walters, Richards, and Van Dyne.”
“Hunh. Never heard of ‘em. Listen, you wanna get some dinner after the game? Hot dogs and nachos do not fill up Mrs. Braintree’s little boy.”
Chris shook her head.
“No thanks. I’ve got to get back and review some notes tonight. I’ve got a client meeting tomorrow.”
Ash tried to hide the disappointment and smiled at her.
“Okay, but I should warn you. You’re missin’ out. Sally’s has about the best steaks in this part of Texas, and that’s sayin’ somethin’.”
Chris smiled as the last out was recorded.
“I’m sure. I’ve got a lot of work to do tonite.”
Ash held out his hand.
“Nice to meet ya, Miss Maye.”
“Call me Christine or Chris, please, and yes it was nice to meet you too. Bye, Ash.”
Chris turned to go up the concrete stairs, and Ash watched her tight behind wiggle in her shorts.
“Walters, Richards, and Van Dyne. I best remember that.”
The drive home seemed considerably shorter as she always had a feeling of wholeness when she went out alone like she didn’t always need someone to enjoy herself. She barely gave Ash another thought the whole trip home and was in bed and fast asleep almost immediately. Morning came on time the next day neither too early or too late, and she was at her desk prepping for her client interview when the partner who had hired her knocked on her door. Sue Richards was small, blonde, and curvy where Jen Walters was tall, brunette, and statuesque.
“Chris, I just wanted to go over your strategy a little before Mrs. Walker got here.”
Chris looked a bit worried and furrowed her brow. Sue laughed.
“Oh, not like that, Chris. We don’t micro-manage. We hired you to be a trial lawyer, and we trust you, but it’s helpful to bounce ideas off of other people just in case you miss an important angle.”
Chris smiled back and pulled out her notes. They spent a short half hour going over her angle of attack and refining a few of the questions she was planning on asking before Sue stood up and offered her her hand.
“I’m impressed, Chris. You’ve got a couple of good lines of questioning and a good start on a defense. I think we made the right move hiring you. Good luck.”
Sue got up and walked out, and Chris pushed her chair back with a whoosh.
“This is too good to be true.”
Sue popped her head back in and smiled.
“That was EXACTLY the motto we started the firm under. Well, it was more like, ‘We’re going to be just the opposite of bastards like Davis and Davis.’, but you get the idea.”
Chris started laughing and was still giggling when her first client was shown to her door. She gave a professional, caring interview that really set her client at ease and gathered what she thought she needed for a solid defense. The rest of that day and the next few were similar. Each of the partners made a point of stopping by every day or two if for nothing more than five minutes for a status report or just to chat, and Angie’s tour of the city was more than she had hoped for. Angie was engaging and funny, kind and caring, and she figured she had the start on a good long-term friendship.
One week after the ballgame, Angie buzzed her office.
“Chris, there’s a guy out here that SAYS he’s a client of yours, but he’s not on the list.”
Chris furrowed her brow.
“Who is it? I’m not expecting anyone new today.”
Angie delivered the next line in a cheesy southern drawl.
“Oh, get this. I do declayah, but if it isn’t Rhett Butler.”
Chris actually looked at the receiver.
“What the hell?”
“Don’t worry hon. I’ll show him the door.”
Chris put the phone down in the cradle, sat at her desk with an expression of bewilderment on her face, and then jumped out of her seat. She ran out of her office nearly ripping the heels off her favorite heels and found Angie glaring at Ash who was refusing to leave quietly.
“It’s ok Angie. I do know him.”
Ash smiled at her and held out an impressive bouquet of wildflowers.
“Y’all got some tight security. Miss Annngellllica Howard here wouldn’t let me in without an appointment.”
Chris accepted the flowers and fixed him with a dirty glare.
“It’s company policy. You could have given her your real name.”
Ash smiled a bemused smile again.
“Ah take it my flowers did not melt your heart?”
Chris tried not to show the giggle she was feeling.
“No. I have a briefing to prepare for. I can’t talk now.”
Ash turned and walked away.
“Read the card, Missy.”
Chris resisted the impulse to sling the flowers at him and read the small card as the elevator doors closed on an altogether too smug smile.
I’ll pick you up here at 6. Dinner and dancing. My treat.
PS. I can’t stop thinking about you.
Angie smiled up at Chris who stared at the card with a half grin.
“Ooooooo, what does it say?”
“He been after you a lot?”
Chris shook her head.
“Only the second time I’ve seen him. Last time was about a week ago.”
“You must’ve made some impression. That bouquet ain’t cheap.”
Chris smiled and smelled a Black-eyed Susan.
“Should I go?”
“Hell yes you should go. Just because you eat WITH him don’t mean you have to eat HIM.”
Chris looked at her and burst out laughing.
“Nice. Thanks for looking out for me though.”
“Oh, you can pay me back by introducing me to his cuter, richer, suaver brother.”
“What if he doesn’t have one?”
“Then just buy me a beer.”
Chris laughed and waved as she walked back to her office. She finished her briefing and her other work for the day and then hurried down to the bathroom to make sure she was made up. Keeping with the theme of a comfortable workplace, the bathrooms had a sitting area separate from the actual restroom with a couch, two overstuffed chairs, a TV, and a oodles of magazines. Janet Van Dyne was taking a cat nap on the couch. She was a small, thin, wasp-like woman with a hair style that changed nearly everyday. Today was a soft shag that framed her delicate face. As Chris slipped into the lounge headed for the bathroom, Janet woke up.
“Hi Janet. I didn’t mean to wake you.”
She smiled sleepily and sat up.
“Oh it’s ok. I’m about due to get back to work anyway. How’d the briefing go?”
Chris nodded as she fished for a lipstick in her purse.
“Good. Mrs. Walker is ready, and I think we’re ready to go to trial.”
Janet nodded as she yawned.
“Oh yes. Here until midnight, back in again at 6. I haven’t seen my boyfriend in so long I forgot what he looks like.”
Chris made a scrunched-up fish-face in the make-up mirror in one corner of the lounge and applied her lipstick. Janet got up and stretched and headed for the door.
“If you need anything, let one of us know. We want you to feel welcome and supported.”
Chris smiled her 100 watt smile.
“You’ve all been so wonderful. I can’t remember ever feeling so at home. Thank you.”
“Good. See you tomorrow.”
Janet walked out, and Chris busied herself touching up her make-up, and in no time at all, she was standing back from the mirror in the restroom, giving herself the once over. She was wearing a black skirt and matching jacket with a pale scarlet blouse that showed some cleavage. Thigh high stockings in the same pale scarlet and her favorite suede, black heels capped her legs. She did her hair in a quick French Twist, blew herself a kiss, and went back to her desk to kill the remaining half hour.
She flipped on her computer and started Netscape and her Instant Messenger. No buddies were on, but she sent a quick email to her dad, one to her brother, and another to her Bronco-obsessed friend. Before she knew it, it was 6:00, and her phone rang.
“Meet me out front, Missy?”
“Be right down, Rhett. Although, I was hoping you’d carry me down the stairs.”
There was a short giggle through the receiver.
“Sadly, Ah have an old war injury that prevents me from lifting.”
Chris raised her eyebrows.
“Shore. I got a paper cut playing War with my nephew. Damn Bicycle cards.”
Chris giggled and rung off. She walked out of the pale green glass doors to find Ash leaning up against a white Ford F-150. She raised an eyebrow, and he shrugged.
“The Lexus is in the shop.”
Chris laughed as he opened the door for her, and she climbed up and in. He sprinted around to the driver’s side and climbed in.
“Really. Water pump blew.”
Chris nodded and looked out the window as he pulled away from the curb.
Chris closed the door behind her and pitched her purse on the sofa. She checked for messages and was heartened to see none. She left the lights off, stripped out of her work clothes, and slipped into a her PJ’s. As she brushed her teeth, she replayed the highlights in her head and filled out the mental compatibility checklist.
Considerate? So far.
Intelligent? Pretty much.
Hands? Eh. Average.
Overall? Worth another date.
She was sitting at her computer chatting with her Bronco-obsessed friend and needling him about losing a legendary quarterback when her cell phone rang. She brb’ed and grabbed the phone wondering who in the hell had her new number since she hadn’t given it out. She telescoped the antenna and held the receiver to her ear.
“Hi. How are you?”
She cast a puzzled glance at the screen where her friend was sending her a bizarre emoticons via Instant Message.
“Wondering why you just sent me a picture of a guy licking a piece of pizza.”
There was a lengthy silence at the other end.
“Is this (812) 334-7638?”
“Yeah. How’d you get this number, Marty?”
“How’d you get this number. I just got it yesterday.”
“Is this Cheryl?”
“What the hell are you talking about? You know who this is.”
Chris held the phone to her shoulder with her cheek and typed a message to her friend.
>How’d you get my cell phone number? You promised you wouldn’t stalk me anymore. ;)<
His response further confused him.
>I’m not sure what you’re talking about...I only have one phone line remember, and I'm still on dial up.<
There was a long pause as she pondered this revelation.
“No, my name’s Christine. How’d you get this number?”
“Ummm, I’m sorry. Someone gave me this number…at a bar.”
Chris brb’ed Marty again and gave her full attention to her mystery caller.
“Ok first, what’s your name?”
“Derrick. I was at a bar last night, and this girl, Cheryl, gave me this number.”
“You sure you got the number right?”
“Yeah, I read it back to her. Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bother you.”
Chris smiled. The hurt little boy inside the pleasantly deep voice was too cute.
“No, it’s ok. She must’ve picked a number out of the blue, and it just happened to be mine.”
There was a long silence at the other end.
“Look, that was a pretty shitty thing for her to do. It’s her loss. You sound like a nice guy to me.”
“Well thanks. I’m sorry to bother you, Chris. Bye.”
She turned off the cell phone and then explained herself to Marty who had since busied himself sending obscene emoticons to her. They sent flirtatious IMs to each other for an hour and then she signed off to go to bed. Strangely, her mind seemed to gravitate towards a fleeting contact with Derrick rather than her date with Ash.
Work came considerably earlier than her bodyclock was prepared for the next day, and she was dragging through the day’s depositions and torturously slow all-staff meeting. She ignored a message on her voicemail from Ash asking for another rendezvous, and she drove home in a daze looking forward to a sensuous date with her couch and favorite blanket. She was curled up in the frigid blast of the air conditioner when her cell phone rang again. Sorely tempted to ignore it, she finally gave in and snarled a decidedly unfriendly hello.
“Ummmm hi. Christine?”
“Yeah. Who is this?”
“Derrick, you know, the Wrong Number Guy. Is this a bad time?”
Chris nodded ruefully.
“Yeah actually it is. I had a killer day, and I desperately need a nap.”
She could actually hear his crest fall.
“Can I call back later?”
“Sure. Give me until 8 ok?”
Chris turned off the cell phone, made a mental note to turn it back on before 8, and rolled over and went back to sleep. Feeling simultaneously rested, refreshed, and completely drained from sleeping so hard, Chris gulped orange juice from a beaten 32 oz plastic cup from a far away C-store. She flipped on the TV and settled on a rerun of the Golden Girls. As the credits rolled at 7:58, she remember her cell phone and turned it on as she rummaged in her fridge for a likely meal. Water was soon boiling, eagerly awaiting the pasta sitting only inches away as she debated whether a chicken breast was necessary. It wasn’t, so she just spooned some of her favorite sauce into a pan and began to heat it.
At 8:13, her cell phone rang, and she answered it considerably friendlier.
“Hi. It’s Derrick again. Is now better?”
She laughed as she absently stirred her sauce.
“Yeah. What can I do for you?”
There was another long silence.
“Ummm. This is gonna sound silly, but would you like to go out on a date?”
“Slow down, Tiger. How do you even know I’m what you’re looking for?”
Derrick took a deep breath.
“You sound really nice.”
Chris smiled at that same little hurt boy inside the man.
“Ok, this is against my better judgement, but you know where the Oakglen Mall is?”
She could hear him nod.
“Yeah. I’ve been there once Christmas shopping.”
“Ok, I need some home field advantage for something like this, and I’ll be there on Saturday at 1 o’clock. I need to do some house-warming shopping. We can meet for lunch.”
“That’d be great. Ok. Yeah. Thanks.”
And he rung off.
Chris set the phone down, consigned her spaghetti to its doom in the cauldron, stirred the sauce some more before setting it on low heat, and looked at the phone expectantly. It rang.
“Ummm. I just realized I don’t know what you look like and where to meet you.”
“I’ll be wearing a scarlet, sleeveless blouse and a beaten up Yankee’s cap, and I’ll wait by the big fountain in the west end at 1, ok?”
She heard him nod again.
“Scarlet sleeveless and Yankee’s hat. I think I can manage that. Umm. Thanks, Christine. Bye.”
“Bye, Derrick. See you, Saturday.”
Chris mentally thanked Angie’s comprehensive tour for her knowledge of the mall and waited the proper cooking time and ate. She spent the next couple of days dodging contact with the outside world as she prepared to go to trial the following Monday. Ash left two more messages, both of them funny and quite endearing, and Chris left him a return voicemail begging off any dates until at least the following weekend.
Saturday at 12:57 pm, Chris sat on the retaining wall surrounding a spectacular kinetic sculpture and fountain combination. Jean shorts, sandals, the required silk sleeveless blouse, and battered Yankee cap sprouting a very co-ed like pony tail covered her somewhat nervous and impatient body. She people watched trying to match that little boy in man voice with a person when a 6’ 1” shadow blocked the sunlight filtering through the ubiquitous skylights.
She looked up into a boyishly handsome face topped by a Clooney cut.
“Derrick, I assume?”
He smiled and held out a large, callused hand. Wow. Nice hands.
She shook his hand and indicated the bricks next to her. He pressed himself up on the bricks with a bulge of his upper arms. The open neck of his t-shirt showed a muscular neck, and he sat awkwardly next to her with his Adam’s Apple bobbing slightly.
“I’m Christine Maye. I’m a trial lawyer at Walters, Richards, and Van Dyne in San Antonio.”
His eyes bugged out a little.
“Wow. I’m third year grad at U of T – San Antone. Oh and I’m Derrick Moore.”
She smiled a disarming smile careful to keep the wattage down below nuclear.
“Heavy Particle Physics. I want to get a job at the SSC.”
“Super-Conducting Super Collider. It’s a big particle accelerator they’re supposedly building somewhere in Texas in the near furture.”
It was Chris’ turn to pop her eyes.
“Wow right back atcha. Now that we’ve properly impressed each other, what say we get something to eat? You like Chinese?”
Derrick shook his head.
“I like honesty. Tell you what, I’ll get some Chinese. You get what you want, and we don’t make rude comments about what the other is eating?”
Derrick laughed and stuck his big hands in his pockets and walked alongside her.
“Thank you for coming. This must seem kinda weird to you.”
Chris smiled as they walked by a band of high school kids desperately trying to look cool.
“It IS kinda weird, but it just seemed like the right thing to do. Can I ask you something?”
“What made you call back?”
There was another trademark Derrick silence as they walked by a Gap store full of trendy clothing soon to be rotting in the back of some spoiled teen’s closet.
“Actually my roommates goaded me into it.”
“Yeah. It was kinda embarrassing getting the brushoff from Cheryl like that, and so they were ragging on me to “be a man” and so on, so I called. It all sounds kinda bad when you say it out loud like that.”
The hurt little boy peeked through in his speech again, and it just made him all that much more appealing.
“I don’t think it sounds bad, Derrick. Relax. I’m here, aren’t I?”
“Yeah, well here we are. Meet back at this table?”
Chris nodded and blew him a playful kiss followed by a full-wattage DANGER WILL ROBINSON smile. It nearly knocked him off his feet. She left him standing bewildered as she ordered, paid for, and gathered her order. She was back at the table slipping her napkin onto her lap, when he sat down with a steaming Cinnabon and a Coke.
“That’s some lunch, sailor.”
“I’m addicted to these things. I have like 3 a day.”
“Ohmigod, your arteries must be made of iron.”
“It’s my only vice. I’m a salad nut otherwise.”
They ate quickly and amiably, and Derrick shopped with her as she gathered some knick-knacks and necessities that hadn’t survived or even made the trip west. He gallantly used those lovely hands to carry a few of her parcels out to her car and stood awkwardly next to her open door as she turned to step into the driver’s seat.
“Can I…uhhhh…can we go…ummm…can I call you again?”
She laughed and turned to face him. She cupped his cheek briefly with her hand and gave him another full-wattage smile and a peck on the same cheek. The sparkle in her eyes fairly blinded him.
“Don’t be silly. Of course you can. I had a lovely time. Here.”
She handed him a business card with her home number scribbled on the back. He smiled back at her and put on a fake dreamy look.
“I’ll never wash this cheek again.”
Chris laughed as she slid into the driver’s seat.
“You better not, buster. I’m checking next time I see you. I BETTER see that lipstick.”
He giggled and shut the door for her. As she backed out, she saw him mooning over her in a parody of a teenaged girl dreaming of a date with any one of the Backstreet Boys. She giggled, flipped him the bird, and drove off as he broke down laughing.
Chris had a Me Sunday and did some sightseeing, some Yankee watching, and some pool playing at a local bar. Monday morning was born in brilliant sunshine, and she felt as kick ass as she was likely to feel going back into the saddle again in court. Janet Van Dyne, sporting a fetching curly do-of-the-day, sat in the back row of the courtroom and had all positive comments and constructive criticisms to offer for later in the trial. Chris was still a little taken aback by the personal attention she was getting from the partners when she knocked on Sue’s door right before “closing time”.
“Come in, Chris. Janet told me you did a great job today. Congratulations.”
Chris dissembled and blushed.
“Thank you, but there’s a long way to go.”
“What can I do for you?”
“Well, I’m not sure how to phrase this, but does every new hire get this kind of…attention I guess from the partners? You must be so busy running this firm.”
Sue motioned her to sit in the brightly colored client chairs as she came around to sit next to her.
“Part of the reason we’re so successful and have the reputation we do is that we take the time to make sure all our lawyers practice law the way we want them to. You can’t do that unless you keep tabs on you from time to time, ESPECIALLY the new hires. You wouldn’t be with us if you weren’t already “our” kind of litigator, but we just make sure early on to nudge our newest in the right direction if they need it. From what Janet said, you don’t need much nudging. That answer your question?”
“Yes, it does. Thanks.”
“You’re welcome. Don’t hesitate to stop by if you have any other questions.”
“I won’t. Night, Sue.”
Chris lay on her couch wearing nothing but a replica Pettitte jersey-shirt and her undies as Carly Simon’s unforgettable James Bond theme throbbed in the air from her stereo. She lay with her head on the arm rest and one arm hanging off into space. She had gotten home after waiting out a brutal traffic jam and wanted nothing more than soft, romantic music and darkness from her apartment. It had delivered in spades, and the tension was finally leaking out of her shoulders and back.
She was feeling mellow and pleasantly romantic when her phone rang. She rolled over on her stomach and reached for the phone. She snagged it on the second ring.
“This is Christine. Nobody does it better.”
There was a chuckle from the other end.
“Geez, I hope so.”
Chris sat up and smiled.
“Hi Derrick. How are you?”
“Tired. Those 37 hour days at the lab wear on you after a while. You?”
“Glad I’m away from the freeway.”
She heard him yawn.
“You sound tired.”
He yawned again.
“I should be. I haven’t slept in two days.”
“Derrick!!! What the hell are you doing to yourself? Hang up the phone now and go to bed.”
“That’s an attractive idea, but I’m not sure I remember where my bed is, and I’m so stressed out I don’t think I could sleep even if I can find it.”
Chris fiddled with the remote on her coffee table with her toes. She tried unsuccessfully to turn on the TV. The remote slipped out of her reach and flopped onto the floor.
“Ok, look around for doors and check for a bed.”
“I found the bathroom. Maybe I can sleep in the tub.”
“Keep looking, Pinkerton.”
There was a short pause.
There was a Derricky silence.
“Oh get your mind out of the gutter. Put on your PJ’s, loverboy.”
He laughed and she heard a clatter as the phone slipped off his shoulder, bounced off something hard and landed on something hard.
“You still there?”
“Sorry. Dropped the phone trying to untie my shoes.”
“Put down the phone and get changed. I’ll be here imagining the whole thing.”
She heard him blush. There was a lengthy pause before he picked up the phone again.
“Turn off the lights and lay down.”
“Ok. One sec. The cat’s hungry.”
There was another pause punctuated by a whiny half purr half miaow.
“Yes, Igoo. Daddy knows you’re hungry. Ok. The beast has been appeased.”
Chris lay back down on the couch feeling a soft tingle spread through her veins.
“Close your eyes and just listen. Don’t talk.”
“Good. I start rubbing your shoulders softly…feeling the tension in your shoulders. Your tight muscles yield slowly to the pressure from my hands. I rub my thumbs into the nape of your neck, kneading the knot…loosening the tightness.”
Derrick shrugged in bed as he felt ghostly fingers caress his upper back.
“I run my fingers through your hair…scratching your head…sending tingles down your spine.”
Derrick shivered as he imagined her nails on his head and suddenly a wave or tiredness swept him under.
“I slide my fingers down your neck trailing the nails softly over skin. Your back is strong and muscular, and I squeeze and knead the soreness and tension out little by little. You can feel yourself getting sleepier and sleepier. You’re calm and at peace…relaxed and comfortable.”
Chris smiled and whispered into the phone.
There was only soft, deep breathing echoing through the receiver. Chris tried one more time and then gently broke the connection. She lay there holding the phone to her chest smiling so broadly that her head was in danger of splitting in two. She closed her eyes and soaked in the music. Somehow it seemed deeper, more sensual, and more meaningful than ever before. She fell asleep clutching the phone. She woke up two hours later curled in a fetal position on the couch with the phone acting as a long lost stuffed animal in her arms. Her mouth tasted like something she could never accurately describe, so her first stop was the bathroom for a quick brush.
She was back on the couch wearing jeans and a white and burgundy cotton blouse contemplating her dinner options when there was a knock on the door. She hopped off the couch and peeped out the hole. Holding a single red rose up under his nose was Ash smiling that gentlemanly smile that showcased his dimples. She was momentarily caught off guard.
How’d he get my address?
She opened the door prepared to demand an explanation.
“Miss Angellllica gave it to me.”
The question dying at the end of her tongue, Chris laughed.
“Come on in then. I’ll see that she gets hers.”
Ash bowed rather gallantly, presented her with the rose, and grabbed a bag of groceries sitting on the floor leaning against the wall.
“If you haven’t eaten, Ah’d be deeeeelighted to make you my special chicken pasta salad.”
Chris drank in the delicate scent of the rose and closed the door.
“That’d be very sweet. Can I help?”
“You can bantah with me whilst Ah work. Ah just need some pots and pans. Oh, and heeyah.”
He handed her a bottle of red wine. She grabbed a corkscrew, expertly popped the cork, and poured each of them a glass. She held up her glass and looked wide-eyed at him over the crystal rim.
“Here’s to Special Chicken Pasta Salad.”
Ash laughed and held up his glass.
“And to what comes after.”
Chris flashed a brief full wattage smile and took another sip of wine before replying.
“Hot fudge sundaes?”
“Of course, hot fudge sundaes. You Yankees have dirty mahnds.”
Chris set the table for two, pulled out two never-seen-the-light-of-day candlesticks and two equally virgin white candles, and lit them. Ash was simultaneously managing the boiling pasta, marinating chicken breasts, seasoning a frying pan with more marinade, and looking expectantly at his bottomless sack of groceries as if the loaf of bread were going to jump out, butter, and heat itself. Chris moved towards the bag to help the bread along when he grabbed her by a belt loop and swung her around.
“No Yankees in the kitchen. Ah promised to make dinner, and Ah’m going to make it. Now shoo.”
Chris smiled and pecked him on the cheek.
“Cook away, My Charming Chef. I’ll do my best to stay out of your way.”
Ash turned back with a self-satisfied smile expecting Chris to depart as ordered. She moved up behind him and slipped her arms around his stomach. She could feel the muscles underneath tighten as he squirmed. He turned his head to look at her while simultaneously cutting the chicken breasts and preparing to fry them.
“Ah believe I asked you to luh--.”
Chris kissed him hard on the lips as she pulled herself close to him. His eyes widened and then slowly closed. She broke the kiss with a snicker.
“You asked me to luh? As a lawyer, I’m a trained listener. At no time did you ask me to luh.”
She slipped her hands out from around him and backed up. He smiled at her, and his dimples fairly screamed “BOW TO ME!”. Chris felt a flush across her cheeks. She momentarily attributed it to the wine, but when he leaned over to search for croutons in the bottom row of cupboards, she knew it was something else entirely.
“Aha! Success! Ah love a woman with a full larder.”
Chris levered herself up on the counter and drank her wine as he chefed. She realized he was whistling under his breath. It took her a moment to recognize the tune.
He flashed another dimpled smile her way and nodded.
“Take your seat, Missy. Dinnah is served.”
Chris scooted off the counter and beat him to the table. She poured each of them another glass of wine as he spooned some salad on each plate.
“This smells wonderful.”
Chris took a bite and mmmmmmmmmmmed softly.
“And it lives up to its billing.”
They ate quickly and quietly, enjoying the food, candlelight, and mood music that still played in the background. Ash made a move to clear the table. Chris stood up and guided his hands and their cargo back to the table.
“No. It can wait. I want to get to the hot fudge sundaes.”
She led him over the couch sat down and pulled him down next to her. She slipped her arms around his back and melted into his kissing him deeply. She devoured him. His eyelids fluttered under her tender kisses. His pulse quickened as she sucked softly on the throbbing vein in his neck. He moaned softly as she pressed her tongue into his mouth. He responded to her whipped cream with plenty of hot fudge as his hand cupped her softly through her shirt.
Chris felt a tingly flush spread from his palm across her chest. She slipped a hand down his back and tugged on his shirt until it slipped from under his jeans. She tugged the hem out and slid her hands around his back as she lightly brushed the tip of his tongue with hers. She broke the clinch as she lifted his shirt up over his arms. Ash moved to return the favor when she playfully brushed him away.
“Nope. You made dinner; I’m making dessert.”
She pushed him back on the couch and straddled him. She pressed her lips to the cabled muscles in his neck and sucked as he moaned softly in her ear. His hands were strong on her back and tried unsuccessfully to undo her bra through her shirt. She swatted his hand away again as she slid down his lap and kissed down his chest. Chris worked the buckle on his belt and the buttons on his jeans and then slipped his pants down around his ankles.
A crooked smile in red silk and black stitching smiled up from his boxers. Chris giggled.
“Ah call him Smily.”
Chris smiled again.
“I think Smily has a growth. You might want to get that looked at.”
“That’s what Ah assumed you were doin’.”
Chris started laughing and straddled him again grinding down on the growing bulge under Smily’s grin. She could feel him pressing against her, and the closeness sent a soft flush across her cheeks. Ash was pressing his hips up into hers as she ground rhythmically upon him.
“Ahhh Missy? Ah’m goin’ to have an accident if you don’t ease up on my uhh banana split.”
Chris collapsed down on him laughing onto his neck. They hugged tenderly in the darkness drinking in the atmosphere and intimacy. Ash held her for what seemed like days drinking in the soft, exotic, floral scent of her bodywash. She slipped out of his arms and knelt next to him on the couch kissing his cheek softly as her fingernails traveled lightly down his chest and came to rest on Smily’s “nose” which did a Pinocchio under her soft caress.
She slipped a finger inside the flap and freed him. He felt so warm in her palm. Ash lay his head back on the sofa and closed his eyes as she snuggled into his right arm and lay her head on his shoulder. She caressed him softly in the artificial twilight. Her fingers wrapped around him and traveled haltingly north and south.
“Ah think you’re going to get your whipped cream topping if you keep that up.”
Chris lifted her head and kissed him on the cheek.
“Told you I was going to make dessert.”
Her palm traveled over the end of him, gliding across a collection of slick droplets that partially coated her hand. She resumed her slow rhythm much more smoothly than before, and his hips raised once to meet her hands as he stretched and shivered under her tender care. Gripping him tightly but caressing him slowly, she brought him close to climax. He periodically dripped onto the side of her hand now, and her palm slipped sensually across him. His arm clenched her shirt, and she saw the muscles in his stomach ripple as he groaned, and he jerked in her hand spilling onto her hand, his boxers, and his stomach.
Ash moved to get up, but she pushed him back down.
“I’ll be back to clean you up. I’m a full service soda jerk.”
She kissed him softly on the lips and hurried to the bathroom for a quick handwashing. She returned with a washcloth dripping warm water and swabbed him off as he squirmed and giggled.
“Ah’m grateful for the attention, but ahn’t you a bit…anxious?”
Chris cupped his cheek and kissed him.
“Honey, I’ve frozen off most of my extremities with cold showers, but I’m not quite ready for a sundae for two yet.”
“Ah don’t understand.”
Chris shoved him over on the couch, slipped into a spoon with him, and pulled her arm around her to kiss his palm softly.
“I find you devilishly handsome and attractive as hell, and I want you, but I need more time before I’m ready for a tango. I hope you understand.”
“Ah do…to a point. You could have just thanked me for dinnah. The extra attention wasn’t necessary. It was certainly appreciated but not necessary. Ah can wait as long as you need.”
She snuggled into him and held his palm to her lips for a moment.
“That’s sweet of you, and I know you weren’t expecting anything tonight to thank you for dinner. It seemed like a good idea, and I liked doing it.”
“Fayah enough. We best get to those dishes cleaned up, Missy.”
“In a minute, Speedy. I like to spoon.”
Ash pressed his lips to her neck and kissed her softly as she cuddled into him. They lay there talking softly for some time before heading into the kitchen, Ash still in his stained boxers and Chris fully dressed, where they quickly cleaned up their mess. Ash dressed, and they cuddled again on the sofa watching the last hour of Ghostbusters on Encore.
“Ah hate Pan and Scan.”
“Amen brother. Makes me dizzy.”
Ash gave her a long, tender kiss goodbye and made his exit. Chris, walking on clouds, made preparations for bed and fell asleep almost immediately.
A long weekend awaited her thanks in part to the boys at the Alamo. Texas was rather notorious for its proliferation of state holidays. She was driving home in another brutal traffic jam when her cell phone jangled in her purse. She fumbled with the clasp, spilled most of the contents on the passenger seat, and finally grasped the persistent phone. She pulled the antenna with her teeth and hit the Talk button.
“Christine Maye, Freelance Sarcasm Operative.”
There was a Derricky giggle from the speaker.
“Do you have these on tape? You could sell them.”
Chris smiled and felt some traffic tension drift away just hearing his voice.
“Hey, Physics Boy.”
“Hi. You busy?”
Chris jerked the wheel right avoiding a careless commuter who had swerved into her lane.
“Not anymore. You run enough of these jerks off the road, and traffic thins out.”
“You’re on your way home I take it?”
Chris nodded her affirmative through the receiver. There was a Silence ™ Derrick. Chris broke the ice.
“I know this is kinda late notice, but are you interested in a trip down to the coast? I’m dying to get out of here for a while.”
“Well, tonight and tomorrow.”
Derrick lapsed off into silence again.
You can set your watch by his silences.
“Talk to me, Derrick. These batteries don’t last forever.”
“I didn’t want you to think I was tryin’ to just get in your pants.”
“Oh geez, is THAT all? C’mon hon. I didn’t think that at all. Gimme some details here. I’m on the hook. Reel me in.”
She heard him smile.
“I’ve got reservations in a Comfort Inn right on the beach. Two double beds. My treat.”
Chris took all of a millisecond to decide.
“Pick me up at my place at 6. I’ll pay for dinner though.”
“No buts. Fair is fair.”
“Okay. See you at 6.”
“I’m looking forward to it, cutie. Thanx for thinking of me.”
“All I do is think about you, Chris. Bye”
He rung off, and she blushed to match her burgundy vest. The drive home disappeared into her imagination, and once at home, she packed an overnight bag heavy on beachwear and some lacy evening wear. Promptly at 5:58, there was a hesitant knock at her door. Chris, wearing a burgundy tank and white shorts that hung to her knees, opened the door and greeted him with a soft kiss on the cheek and a lingering hug.
She smiled as he blushed.
“Let me get my bag.”
Derrick stood in the doorway absently rubbing his cheek as she grabbed her bag and flipped off the lights.
“Let’s hit the road, handsome.”
Derrick stood outside her door watching her walk away, bag slung over one shoulder. He shook his head in wonder and hurried after her. Down in the parking garage, illegally parked, was his somewhat battered Nissan Sentra.
“It looks like shit, but it runs good.”
“Don’t worry about it. I come from a farm. Dents just mean you love it.”
He opened the door for her and then set her bag in back next to his and on top of a pair of grass-stained sweats.
“Do you wanna eat first, or drive, eat, and drive, or drive and eat?”
“Drive, eat, and drive. Let’s get out of town a little and eat in some greasy truck stop.”
Derrick placed both his right hand over his heart.
“You better stop being so perfect.”
Chris giggled and slipped on her sunglasses.
“I’ll try, but it’s damn hard to do.”
They drove in relative silence for about an hour before passing a billboard advertising the juiciest burgers in typically Texas garish fashion. They looked at each other and smiled. Derrick pulled into a dusty parking lot with a battered pick-up and an equally “loved” blue Ford Escort sporting a red quarter panel.
“Damn. Joint is jumpin’.”
Derrick hesitated before killing the ignition.
“Wanna go or stay?”
Chris was already half out the car before she leaned back in.
“Stay. You look like you need to absorb some local color.”
Derrick shut the engine off and muttered under his breath,
“Just as long as I don’t absorb some local virus.”
They entered the dimly-lit interior and chose a dusty booth with two pepper shakers and no salt to be seen. Chris picked up one of the speckled twins.
“I hope this isn’t a comment on the salt content.”
Derrick giggled as the waitress walked briskly over to their booth. She slipped two paper place mats (the cool ones with the games and puzzles and optical illusions), napkins, and silverware down on the table, handed each one a menu, and pulled a beaten order pad out of her smock.
“Can I get you somethin’ to drink?”
Derrick ordered a draught beer, and Chris ordered the same.
“Y’all know what you want?”
Derrick was pleasantly surprised by the variety on the menu and scoped the appetizers quickly.
“Sampler platter of appetizers?”
Chris nodded at him then at the waitress. She smiled back and turned on her heel. She was back in a flash with two huge glasses of ice cold beer and a plate piled high with mozzarella sticks, potato skins, buffalo wings, chicken dippers, and assorted sauces. Their eyes popped at the food.
“Cripes, we’re not going to even need dinner. How much was this?”
The waitress shouted back over her shoulder.
“Four bucks. Beers are a buck fifty.”
Derrick began to whistle the Twilight Zone theme. Chris nodded.
“No kidding. This is to good to be true.”
After divvying up the booty, they did indeed decide against dinner. Two beers each and a truckload of appetizers later, they paid the bill and were on their way. They chatted animatedly about the restaurant, pledging to make that a regular stop without realizing in doing so they had taken their status as a couple for a given. It was barely an hour later when Derrick pulled into the parking lot of a three-story Comfort Inn.
“Be right back.”
Derrick hopped out of the car. Chris amused herself by examining the artifacts in the backseat. She had uncovered a pop cup from a Taco Bell summer promo deal from two years ago under a stained Indianapolis Colts baseball cap by the time he came back, keycards in hand.
“We’re around the back. Second floor.”
Derrick saw her hastily fling the cap back to its ‘til-now undisturbed grave and blushed.
“I uhhh don’t clean my car out much.”
“That’s ok. I feel the same way about my linen closet.”
He grabbed both bags and led them round back, briefly onto a sandy beach, and up the stairs to their room. He set the bags down, slipped the keycard in the door, and held it open for her. It was typically hotellish. Bad paintings. Worse bed spreads, but oh, in the bathroom…
Derrick peeked his head around the corner into the bathroom where Chris stood framed by the light she had recently turned on.
“I swear I didn’t know until I got here.”
She turned and cupped his cheek briefly.
“Oh don’t be sorry. DEFINITELY don’t be sorry.”
She stepped back into the bathroom and cranked the hot water on full, pulled the stopper, and eyed a bank of waterproof switches on the side wall of the tub.
“Shoo. I wanna get some road dust off.”
She heard rather than saw his crest fall again. She turned and shoved him out the door, grabbed her bag, and shut the door behind her. She waited a second giggling softly before opening the door.
“Oh don’t be too sad. There may be room enough for two tomorrow.”
The stifled woo hoo made her blush and giggle as she shut the door and engaged the jets on a huge, gleaming porcelain Jacuzzi. She lost herself in gushing bubbles and sensual heat for almost an hour before drying off, slipping into a daring two piece bathing suit, and grabbing two dry towels.
Derrick was reading The Postman on one bed while ESPN droned softly in the background.
“Put down that book and suit up. We’re going for a swim.”
She tossed a towel at him as his eyes popped upon looking up and seeing her pale skin set off by a deep burgundy bikini. He made an O with his mouth before gathering the wits scattered around him on the bed.
“You wear a bikini under all that road dust?”
She gave him an impatient look.
He slipped a trading card in as a book mark, fished in his bag for an American flag swimsuit, and quickstepped it into the bathroom. He was out in seconds with his flag flying proud. Chris admired his smooth muscles and wide shoulders. He saw her and stopped to do a comical pose before they both broke out into giggles and beat a hasty path to the beach. The sun was just setting out over the water to the west, and the rays of orange shattered on the glassy ocean. The beach was nearly deserted. An old man clad only in jean shorts sat, arms on knees, staring at the horizon, and farther down, two young boys splished and splashed the late evening away. They left their towels on a set of chairs emblazoned with the hotel’s logo and splashed into the water.
Chris lay back and floated.
“Mmmmmmm. I do love the ocean.”
Derrick swam in long easy strokes out about a hundred yards and then back. He dove and broke the surface next to her. The small wave splashed over her, and she sputtered.
“Hey now. There’s a clearly posted ‘No Wake’ sign.”
Derrick shot right back.
“It’s an impact tremor. There must be T-Rex nearby.”
Chris splashed him with her hand.
“Yeah, it’s pretty cute too.”
She swam over to him, slipped between him and the shallows, and backstroked slowly towards shore beckoning him to follow her. He did like a lost puppy. She fairly immersed herself in that boyish smile and then got up and made a run for the deck chairs. She toweled off quickly, and lay on her stomach.
“Care to give an overworked barrister a backrub while you regale her with your life’s story.”
Derrick knelt next to her and grabbed her shoulders.
Oh my god. I LOVE those hands.
“What’s in it for me?”
“Well see, you rub my back and tell me your life story, then I rub yours.”
“And tell me your life story?”
“No, you’ll hafta ply me with alcohol for that.”
He massaged the muscles in her shoulders softly.
“What was that?”
“Oh. Right. Anyhoo, I was born in Indianapolis, moved to Lafeyette when I was six.”
He paused as he moved to press his fingertips into the back of her neck. His eyes followed the soft curve of her body down to the pert bulge of her tush.
“Hunh? Oh no. Sorry. I was lost in thought.”
She snuggled into her towel as he pressed his wonderfully strong hands down onto her shoulder blades.
“What do you want to know?”
“What’s your favorite movie and why?”
He slid his hands down each side of her back over the bikini string. Chris curled up a tad as he tickled her.
“Sorry. Ummmmm. I have two. One I tell guys and one I tell girls.”
“Not you too.”
“Sure. May the Force be with you.”
“No kidding. Why?”
“That scene were Annette Bening is crying and smiling and has just found him looking for her at the end. Just breaks my heart.”
“Ok. Favorite song and why?”
“This isn’t another girls/guys thing, is it?”
“So what is it?”
“What was that?”
He moved his hands down to the small of her back and kneaded softly.
“Ohhhhhh yeah. RIGHT there.”
He rubbed slowly and carefully as she actually melted under his palms.
“If you think you can distract me with those marvelous hands rubbing where they are, well that’s where yer right, but I’m gonna hang in there. What song?”
“The lyrics. How she tells women to not hang out with loser guys.”
Derrick’s hands hesitated at the top of her bikini bottom, and there was a Derricky silence.
“Go on. They don’t bite.”
He giggled and pressed his palms hesitantly on the firm curve of her cheeks. He rubbed softly, and Chris moaned.
“You uhh sounded a little bitter about the song thing.”
“Well, there was a girl back when I was an undergrad who was with this total fucking prick. I wanted her so bad, but she just couldn’t figure out she didn’t deserve to be treated like shit.”
“I’m sorry. What happened?”
“She stayed with him. When she finally told me what she had decided, I couldn’t even talk to her. I just sent her a tape with that song on it over and over.”
Chris sat up on her arms and looked at that horribly wounded ™ Derrick expression. She realized abruptly that the tone in his voice was the same one she had heard when he had first called her.
“That is so sweet, Derrick. She’s a fool to have not chosen you.”
“It’s been over a long time. Now lay down; I’ve got to finish your legs.”
She smiled at him and lay back down and felt a warm flush as he lay his hands on her legs one at a time and massaged his way down to her feet.
“Two older sisters. Marie’s a nurse, and Veronica’s a stay at home mommie.”
“Ooooooo. You’re an uncle.”
He grabbed her right foot and squeezed it.
“His name’s Jason. Cute kid. We hang out a lot.”
He switched to the left foot, and Chris moaned softly again.
“Oh yeah. That is SO the stuff. Ok. Last one. What’s your ideal day?”
“Sunday. Football. Woo!”
“No dodo. What would be in your perfect day? What would you do? Where would you go?”
A silence brought to you by the good people at Derrick, Inc. followed. She rolled over and looked at him.
When he spoke, it was like a 14 year old boy in a man’s body.
“Ummmmm so far, this is my perfect day.”
Chris blushed dark enough to match her suit which she would never have dreamed possible, and tears sprung to her eyes. They ran down her cheeks leaving twin trails glistening in the waning light.
“I’m sorry. Did I say something wrong?”
Chris cried softly as she stood up. She pulled him up from his crouch and folded into his arms. She nuzzled against his shoulder as she cried softly. Her tears dropped off her chin and ran down the muscles on his shoulder. He held her close wondering what he had done. His right hand rose to her hair, and he stroked it softly.
She hugged him fiercely.
She stepped back and looked up into his eyes.
“Did I say something wrong?”
She shook her head as the tears rolled slowly down.
“No. You most certainly did not. The look on your face, the tone in your voice, what you said…”
“That was the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me. It sorta caught me off guard.”
She got up on her tiptoes and kissed him softly on the lips. The salt in her tears mingled with the kiss in a bittersweet moment. He held her close as they swayed softly on the sand. She looked up at him again.
“You wanna go in? Yankees are on.”
“Aww geez. I had my heart set on a Spectravision Adult special.”
She swatted him hard on the tush.
“Maybe tomorrow night, studboy. Tonight I want to get a buncha junk food, eat like a pig, get a little drunk, and fall asleep in a spoon with you.”
Derrick’s wide smile was her answer.
“Wanna change first?”
“Nawww, I’ll just throw on some jeans. You better put on a long shirt though. I think somebody sent something up your flagpole for people to salute.”
Derrick blushed and involuntarily lowered his hand to cover the bulge in his shorts. He slipped into a white t-shirt w/ neat block lettering…’Disregard all previous t-shirts’.
Chris wiggled into her favorite jeans, and they made a quick run to a convenience store where the teenaged clerk stared pop-eyed at Chris’ almost-top. They were back in the hotel with Chris in her comfy sweats and beaten Yankee’s shirt and Derrick in his t-shirt and a pair of long cotton boxers. They ate fattening foods, drank cheap beer, and watched the Yankees beat the holy hell out of the Angels. Finally with only the light from the TV, Chris snuggled into Derrick’s long lean body and lay there trying not to feel bloated from eating too much crap.
Derrick’s arm held her close, and they lay together for another hour watching TV before Chris fell asleep in his arms. Derrick reached clumsily for the remote and flipped off the set and snuggled in next to her. When he woke up in the morning with the sun shining in through the window, she was gone. He sat up a bit bewildered and then saw the note under the remote.
Look out the window.
Derrick rubbed his overnight stubble and stumbled over to the window. His sleepy eyes popped out of his skull and dangled at the end of his optic nerves. Chris, in her burgundy teenykini, lay on a deck chair her skin glistening in the sun. He rapped on the window, and she sat up, shielded her eyes, and smiled. She grabbed her towel and hurried back into the room.
“Hey sleepyhead. You looked so peaceful and sleepy, so I just snuck out for some rays. Ready?”
Derrick rubbed his eyes and yawned.
She slipped under his outstretched elbow and hugged him. The scent of her sunblock and the way her slick skin slid across his brought an instant response. Chris felt him stiffen. She pressed into him once and the best a hasty retreat for the bathroom. Derrick, left inhaling the heady scent of her sweat and lotion, could only shake his head and adjust himself inside his now less-than-roomy boxers. She opened the door just a crack and peeked out.
He laughed and flipped on the TV as he rummaged for his some clean clothes for the day, finally choosing a navy tank top and faded jean shorts. He waited patiently as the shower came on and went off, her hairdryer came on and went off, and the door opened and she came out. She wore a towel wrapped around her midsection, and Derrick tried really, really hard not to stare. But not hard enough. She sorted through her bag until she pulled out her ensemble, and then just as quickly, she was back in the bathroom.
Moments later she emerged in a cream scooped-neck top with emphasis on the scoop and a pair of burgundy shorts.
“You like burgundy?”
She flashed an impish smile.
“Good detecting, Sherlock. Now go wash off. You smell like sunblock.”
Derrick shook his head as he grabbed his clothes. As he walked by, Chris stopped him with a grab on the tush, pulled him close, and gave him a lingering kiss. She broke the clinch and swatted him on the tush again.
“That’s for being such a gentleman last night.”
He turned to go and she spun him back around. She cupped the firm bulge in his shorts with her right hand as she kissed him again, this time with definite intent to do major bodily harm. Derrick gasped as they broke the kiss.
“What was THAT one for?”
“That’s for hoping you won’t be such a gentleman tonight.”
Derrick blushed and walked awkwardly into the bathroom. He shut the door, and soon after, the shower came back on. Chris cleaned up her clothes and straightened up a little while he showered. She was watching VH1 and singing along to A-ha when Derrick emerged, freshly shaved and showered, and still sporting his wet hair.
“I let it air dry,” was his response to her questioning look. She mouthed an Oh and grabbed the room keycards. He handed one to Derrick and kept one for herself. He grabbed his keys and wallet and opened the door for her. Once out the door, he stopped, turned and looked at her.
“Where are we going?”
Chris shrugged and pulled him along by his shirtsleeve.
“We’ll know when we get there.”
Derrick nodded to indicate understanding, although clearly, he didn’t.
“Just drive, Derrick. I’ll navigate.”
He did, and she did, and they explored the little shops, the big malls, and the local eateries. In between, they held hands, kissed once in a while, and bought each other silly knick-knacks. While Chris was admiring some collectibles in an ungodly expensive shop, Derrick faked urinary distress and snuck off to buy her replica Pettitte away jersey. While Derrick perused a monstrous collection of movie posters, Chris pled imminent death from hunger and snuck off ostensibly to get a snack. Instead she darted back to another memorabilia store and bought an original Han Solo action figure (out of the packaging but still holding his tiny blaster) for Derrick.
They each slipped their ill-gotten prizes inside other bags and smiled secretly. It was 7 pm, and they were both wearing down as they slipped back into the car after a lovely dinner at yet another restaurant that thought nailing stuff to the walls made for “atmosphere”.
“Have we shopped ‘til we dropped?”
“If not. We’re close.”
“Back to the hotel?”
Chris nodded. Derrick drove. The radio played. They arrived.
They threw their stuff on the table, made a quick run to the vending machines for provisions, and flopped on separate beds to rest for a while. Chris fell asleep almost instantly while Derrick watched The Towering Inferno on Encore. Chris awoke to a cheer from Derrick as Richard Chamberlain fell to a well-deserved meeting with the pavement and a short future as street pizza.
“I love it when he dies.”
Chris yawned and ran a hand through her hair. She smacked her tongue in her mouth a couple of times, decided better of identifying the taste, and ran to brush her teeth. She emerged moments later feeling much better about the contents of her mouth. She flopped down next to him on his bed. He leaned over and kissed her softly. She responded and pressed against him as they held each other. Laying on the bed, rolling over one another, kissing and hugging, they did their best to leave the other breathless.
Derrick rolled on top of her and looked down at her now-disheveled scoopneck.
“Hey, you’ve got a sunburn.”
Chris looked up at him.
“Yeah. Doesn’t look too bad, but it’s a burn all right.”
The spell for the moment broken, Chris scooted out from under him and went into the bathroom.
“Dammit!!! You’re right.”
Derrick laughed and fiddled through his bag pulling a bottle of SolarCaine (with Aloe Vera) from his bag. He slipped into the bathroom where Chris was pulling the scoopneck down with both hands to reveal a burn line across her cleavage. She let the scoop back up with an “Oop” as she suddenly realized he was staring. With a goofy smile he held out the bottle of goopy, green sludge.
“I can help put it on.”
The smile would have been enough, but the twinkle in his eyes rang her bell, hard. She crossed her arms under the hem and shucked the shirt off in one smooth motion. The cherry red of the burn was a startling contrast to the white hem of her bra. Derrick let out a whoosh as Chris reached behind her back, unhooked the fastener with that compact motion that men find so compelling, and let the bra slip off her arms. She undid the button on her jeans and slipped those and her underwear off before stepping into the tub and turning the water on.
Derrick stood there holding the plastic bottle out like a Price is Right model after a sex change. Chris laughed as she sat down in the slowly filling tub.
“C’mon in sweetstuff, before the water gets to my burn.”
Derrick almost broke his arm struggling out of his t-shirt, but he finally managed to achieve nakedidity and stepped into the tub facing her as she slid backward to lean against the rear wall. The water swirled around them as Chris engaged the jets. She reached forward and set her hands on his knees. He leaned forward, and they kissed softly in the bubbling water. With her right hand, she rubbed him slowly, and he moaned on her tongue.
As they broke the kiss, Derrick laughed.
“If you keep that up, you’re going to have the wrong kind of lotion for your burn.”
Chris splashed him as she giggled.
“Ok, smartguy. Lotion me.”
She leaned back and put her arms on the sides of the tub. The demarcation line of burned skin ran in a smooth curve across the swell of her breasts just above each nipple. Derrick squirted a large amount of lotion on his right hand and then rubbed them together. He held his hands out and then hesitated. Chris smiled and pulled his hands forward to press softly against her chest. She closed her eyes and sighed.
“That feels soooooooooooooooo good.”
Spurred on by her response, Derrick rubbed the lotion over the entire burn area careful not to press too hard. He squirted more lotion on his hands and cupped her breasts as he slid his thumbs across her stiffening nipples. As he massaged the lotion into her burned and non-burned skin, Chris moaned softly and bit her lower lip and held it.
“Ummm, oh yeah. That’s good.”
He rubbed softly along the sides of her breasts and then returned to the center to tug softly on her before taking his hands off for more lotion. Chris barely opened her eyes.
“I’ve got enough lotion; you just need to rub it in more.”
Derrick snorted softly with a half smile and cupped her breasts again. Chris arched her back as he teased her nipples with his thumbs and forefingers. She wiggled her legs on either side of his and scooted him forward. He tugged on them and rolled them between his fingers making her eyes roll back in her head as her nerve endings jangled and sizzled.
“Yeah. That. Definitely that.”
Derrick smiled and cupped some cooling water between his hands. He doused her chest with the water, and she arched her back again as her stomach muscles contracted. Derrick leaned over her and got in a kneeling position. He pressed his lips to the line of the burn between her breasts and kissed softly. Chris sighed and rubbed his calves with hers. He tugged softly on one nipple with his right hand as he kissed and sucked the other softly. Chris lay back again with a low moan.
He pulled softly and then harder, switching sides, never discriminating in his choice. Chris purred under his delicate kisses. She reached around and grabbed his wet tush pulling him down on top of her. The water sloshed around them as she fumbled for the switch to turn the jets off. Finally succeeding, she was aware of him close to her, pressing his weight down on her. Her hands dripped water down his back as she trailed her fingernails up and down. Her breasts were on fire and not from the burn. The gnawing ache from her nipples was overpowering her as he continued to offer his devotion with his tongue and lips.
As she wiggled underneath him guiding him to her, he pulled away suddenly.
“What is it?”
“Shouldn’t we…I mean do you…I have…”
Chris felt a pang deep in her belly at the concern, embarrassment, and lust that played across his face.
“You mean protection?”
Derrick nodded sheepishly.
“I have some in my bag.”
“It’s sweet of you to think of that, but I’m all set. Been on the Pill since I was 17 to take care of acne.”
Derrick smiled but still held himself above her with an uncertain look on his face and giving an Academy Award performance for Best Silence in a Supporting Role. She cupped his face and smiled.
“Derrick, you can talk to me.”
“Ummm, aren’t you worried about ummmm STD’s?”
She looked up at him impishly.
“Should I be?”
“No. I’m ok.”
“I am too, kiddo. Now, where were we?”
She wrapped her hand around him to reinforce her question. He leaned over her again as she removed her hand, and with a soft thrust and grunt, he was inside her. The water splashed in time with his thrusts. He kissed her deeply as he entered her. They made love breathlessly as the water sloshed out of the tub. Derrick moved his lips back down to her breasts, and his mouth never left her nipples. He sucked and tugged and flicked and rolled them as she squirmed and sighed and moaned and cooed.
He swelled inside her, and she came, softly, tenderly as he kissed the very tip of her aching nipples. With a fluttering sigh and a tug on her lower lip, Chris slipped under the warm wave of passion. Derrick pushed into her again and once more, and he collapsed on her splashing more water out of the tub as he spilled inside her. She held his head tenderly as his breathing returned to normal.
“That was wonderful, sweetie. My burn feels much better now.”
Derrick began giggling, and Chris was quickly infected as they splashed each other clean and dried off. They were cuddled naked in bed moments later, still a bit damp, still a bit horny, but wanting for the moment to cuddle and hug and snuggle. They watched Joe vs the Volcano on HBO and presented their gifts and ate more crap. They lay in bed later at night in a tangle of covers from when Chris’ burn had needed more lotioning. Derrick’s chest heaved in the post-SolarCaine application, and Chris lay with her head on his right arm.
“Ready for bed?”
Derrick nodded and padded into the bathroom. Chris watched his tight buns wiggle their way out of sight and lay back on the bed. She thought briefly of an unpleasant phone call she knew she’d have to make to a certain professor and then padded into the bathroom to get ready for bed with a certain grad student she hoped to see a lot more of in the future.