This story is a more serious one from my others, but does have sex in it. I am going to post two parts in each section. This is parts I and II.
Chapter 1. Finding my way back home…
15 September 2009
I was recovering from my second shoulder surgery and was still trying to get back to sleep after a bad dream when a face and a person popped into my head. Lily Johnson. I don’t know what made me think of her all these years later. Maybe it was just being back home with my mother in the small town in Illinois where I grew up, but it made me think back to the time when I was in high school and I was enchanted by Lily. Lily was about 5’ 5” and had dark hair over pale skin, just like her mother. I remember that she and her mother had both had nice curves, but her mother was slimmer with a nice figure, pretty face, and those same deep blue eyes. Lily was still a little chubby, but the most beautiful girl I knew. Her eyes shined whenever she looked at me and smiled. I remember telling my friends that they both had 1000 watt smiles. They had straight white teeth and gorgeous full lips. When they smiled it looked so genuine that you couldn’t help but smile yourself. I just knew that Lily was going to turn out like her mother, happy, fussing over her children, and enjoying life in general. These memories were nostalgic, harkened back to simple, easy times, and were much better than the dreams I had been having. The one about the ambush in Afghanistan that got me shot and led, eventually, to these two surgeries.
My mother, Janet, had been diagnosed with bladder cancer, which is very treatable when caught early, so I hoped that things would go well. But she did need help and my father had disappeared when I was 10, so it was up to me to provide the care she required.
I finally fell back to sleep, especially with the painkillers they were giving me. I thought about the Army and how I had loved that family when I finally drifted off.
<i>The bullets were pinging and thudding around me, my shoulder was on fire. There were people shouting directions and my platoon sergeant was yelling and pointing something out to me. I nodded. We got up and started to circle to the left to outflank the enemy. We were circling and firing while the rest of the platoon fixed the enemy in place with their fire. We were coming around to their left flank and I was focusing on one man with an RPG…</i>
I woke with a start, the dream slowly fading - again. I thought I could smell the cordite and blood, mixed with the dust and the sweat. I could just make out the fading faces of the 7 dead young men in my platoon. I remembered the attack, being shot, and then counterattacking with my platoon sergeant. As the dream faded, the reality of pulling out each man’s death letter and sending it to their families cast a pall over what was a bright beautiful day outside. I tried to go back to sleep – and not dream.
Chapter 2. Lily.
16 September 2009
This small town had not changed much in the time that I had been gone. It had two gas stations, one at each end of town, one large grocery store, several small independent stores, a hardware store, a bank, a couple independent restaurants, three chain restaurants (Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, and Subway) and the obligatory set of taverns that all the small towns in southern Illinois had. There was one main street where the speed limit was 25. 25! I couldn’t stand to go 25 anymore. This small place had a decent school system with an elementary school, middle school, and high school that served the surrounding area. There was not much there and many younger people seemed to leave and only come back to visit, which was exactly what I had had in mind when I left in 2001.
The houses in the few blocks right around the older section of town were typical 1930s style, two-story, with large front porches. They surrounded the main small square with the police station and the post office and several blocks in either direction. The area that came along in the late ‘60s early ‘70s was belted around the older section and consisted of mostly three and four bedroom ramblers. This was the type my mother had. There were some brand new homes, mostly built within the last five years, on the northern and western outskirts that were more modern two-story or split-level family homes. This recent growth must mean that things are looking up for the town.
It was on this day that I ran into Lily again. I had just dropped my mother off at the hospital, which was in the next town over from where we lived, and made my way into a small café situated next to the medical complex. It was similar to a Denny’s in the seating arrangement with a counter in the middle wrapped around the kitchen and seating around the outside along the windows. The booths were red and white checkered and the tables had matching tablecloths. I sat down in a booth on the medical complex side and a cute little waitress brought me a glass of water and the menu. She left me to look at the menu and I perused it, looking for something filling, but not too bad for me. I had at least learned to eat better in the last few years.
I looked up from my menu for my waitress when I saw Lily. To say I was shocked would have been an understatement, but I recovered before she saw me. She was dressed in a large apron that was covered with stains as if she had been cooking. She had just come from the back and was telling a couple of the waitresses something when she glanced in my direction and saw me staring. She smiled a tired, wan smile and made her way over to me. I couldn’t help but notice that her 1000 watt smile had dimmed to the 100 watt range. She had also slimmed down to where she was almost a clone of her mother when I had last seen her. She was slim, trim, and downright beautiful.
“Jon. How are you?” It seemed like a perfunctory question.
I looked into those blue eyes and they were the same gorgeous color. I could see that the teeth and lips and cheekbones were the same. But there seemed to be an absence of the fire and energy that had made her and these attributes so damned irresistible when I was in high school. “Lily, it’s so good to see you.” I started to get up, but it’s not easy with an arm still in a sling, so she leaned over and gave me a peck on the cheek and a socially acceptable hug.
“You look pretty good, Jon. I read about you in the paper. How’s the shoulder?”
I looked down sheepishly. The Army had something they called a Hometown News Release that they sent to a soldier’s home town newspaper to tell everyone what great things the soldier had done when a medal was awarded or a school graduation occurred. Unfortunately, for most soldiers it was embarrassing and a little disconcerting. “Thanks. I’m fine. How are you? I haven’t seen you since you graduated.” I changed the subject.
She smiled that tired smile again. “Pretty well.” She looked back toward the front of the café and I could tell she didn’t want to stick around. “I’m working, so I need to get back. See you later?” Her body was positioned like she was ready to leave, but something in her posture seemed to be telling me to please say yes, that I would see her later.
“Sure.” I said it with as much confidence as I could. “I’m staying with my mother for a while. What about you? Are you living around here?”
She stopped her turning and looked at me for a moment. She turned back to me. “Yes, I am, why?” She asked the question, but it seemed that she knew and hoped that I would ask her out.
“I thought we might get together and catch up on what’s happening with all the people we knew since graduation.”
Then she looked around the place and finally pulled out a pen and wrote her number on a corner of my paper placemat. “Here’s my number. Call me and we can do that. I’ll even show you around this thriving metropolis.” She put a heavy accent and sarcasm on the last two words, and although not really bitter, they sounded at least a little sad.
“Okay, I’ll call you.” I assured her that I would definitely call, but she barely acknowledged it and went immediately back to work. She must be working in the kitchen because she went into the back and I didn’t see her again while eating. I wondered about that. When I left she had been going to school at Eastern Illinois and I thought she would have graduated from college. Why then was she working here?
I stayed there for about an hour while I ate and tried to read a book before heading back to the hospital. The café was certainly a more pleasant place to pass the time. I hated hospital waiting areas and I had become even more turned off by them after suffering in them while waiting for appointments for my own injury.
I also thought about Lily. I had had several relationships during the past 9 years since I last saw her, but there was still something about the way my heart jumped and my pulse raced when I saw her. I just wasn’t sure it was anything more than a passing fancy… or my growing horniness. I hadn’t been laid since I had been deployed to Afghanistan over a year ago and the surgeries and pain pills had dulled the desire… until now.
I reminisced about the spring of 2000 when I was just starting to learn what it was like to be a man. I was a junior in high school working on my application to West Point, which would soon take me on a sobering and maturing ride. Unfortunately, at that time in my life I was still pretty naive about women and I was infatuated with a senior who would graduate in just a couple of months. A few of my friends kept saying she was cute, but wasn’t up to speed with their definition of a real “babe”. Her cheeks were a little chubby and she had a few more pounds than the cheerleader types that my buddies were falling all over. The problem was that none of that mattered whenever I stared into her eyes. Lily was excellent in English, but not in math and I was helping her through the introductory calculus class. It gave me a chance to look into those eyes, searing blue, deep and mysterious, the ones that I felt myself falling into every time we met for my tutoring. She was still pretty, but not svelte enough for my friends. Never mind that none of them were dating a “babe”, they just aspired to be one of the few who did and would make fun of anyone who didn’t. But me – I just couldn’t get past the way I felt around Lily. She was very nice to me and didn’t ignore me in the halls like some of the other popular girls who thought that anyone a class behind them in school was unworthy of attention. Unfortunately, Lily was still a senior with the popular crowd and I was not. I played sports and was a straight “A” student, but was only a junior. Lily hung out with the big jock seniors, especially her boyfriend, a running back who thought he was put on earth to be worshipped by the common people. So I worshipped Lily unbeknownst to her.
I remembered one time that we met at her house to study. We sat down at the dining room table and her mother buzzed around us. She was getting dinner ready and kept interrupting us, asking us if we needed anything, keeping our water glasses full. She was the sort of mother that would have made a perfect housewife representative on TV. I liked her energy and intensity and when I looked at her, I was impressed. She was in great shape.
Anyway, on this day we were studying and as I was discussing something, Lily decided that she needed to get something out of her backpack. It was on the floor next to her chair, and instead of picking up the backpack, she turned and leaned over to get something out of it. The top she was wearing was too short to stay tucked in and it pulled out of her skirt. I saw a nice expanse of creamy white skin between her blouse and skirt. She also had to part her legs a little as she turned a bit and leaned over to maintain her balance. Since I was sitting around the corner of the table and she was not pushed up against it, I had this brief moment of seeing her uncovered and beautiful thighs almost to her panties. I almost panicked when I realized I was getting an erection, but I was fortunately seated under the table enough to hide it. It was this brief moment that fueled my masturbatory fantasies for the next few weeks. I had never seen her in a bathing suit, so this was my most unrestricted view of her body. It stuck with me for a long time.
Lily never came to know how I felt about her; at least she never acknowledged my fawning ways when I was tutoring her. As I look back at it now, I don’t know how she didn’t see it. I guess I was just lucky that she didn’t call me on it and embarrass me so much that I was uncomfortable around her. In any case, she graduated and I lost track of her and I got accepted to West Point and graduated. I left the dust of that small town behind me and went on a trek that opened up my personality, made me more confident and secure, gave me a job, and fulfilled me like nothing else. Being accepted to that school made me realize how lucky I was to have the gifts of being good enough at academics and sports to be able to attend a prestigious university, get a good degree, and have a job afterwards.
The Army taught me a lot about people, personalities, motivations, and motivating them. It also bares your limitations like nothing else. You have no choice but to learn and grow. Mistakes are made, but you had better learn quickly. The young soldiers entrusted to you by the country, your commanders, and their parents expect you to provide them sound advice and leadership. And they deserve it. They, too, have volunteered to do something that many can’t even consider. They have decided to serve their country and possibly give their life so that others can live and thrive. It’s the most selfless act I can imagine. I’ve had many discussions with many people about this and while some disagree, I cannot see their side of the argument. I guess I’m just biased in thinking that these young men and women are better than most when they put the needs of their country before themselves.
I broke out of my reverie and went to the hospital to pick up my mother. She had been diagnosed very early and it was considered to be in Stage 1. They had first performed a ‘Transurethral resection with fulguration’. This meant that they had performed surgery through the urethra to remove some of the cancerous tissue, and then tried to destroy some of the rest of the bad tissue with an electric current. They told me that this was usually followed with some chemotherapy, which is what my mother was having done today. We had arrived early and she was going to be going home with me later in the afternoon. When I returned to the hospital the doctor discussed her situation with me and said that she was in good enough shape to be able to beat this back, take the chemo, and live a long life. She was only 50. I was thankful for that and I took her home. She was obviously not feeling well and immediately took something to relieve her nausea and went to bed.
I crashed on the couch for a little while, watching absolutely nothing on the TV for a while, and then went back to my book. I was in the middle of a chapter, my energy fading, my eyelids getting heavy when…
<i>It was the spring of 2000 again. I was in Mrs. Tarkanian’s English class, sitting in the third row, about four seats from the front. I looked to the fourth row, the front seat, and stared at the back of Lily Johnson’s head. She had dark hair, almost black. She turned a little and I could see her beautiful glowing skin and those gorgeous blue eyes. It set her apart from everyone else in a way that I found mesmerizing. She turned all the way toward me, smiled, and I got up and walked toward her. Nobody paid heed to us as I walked right up and leaned over to kiss her. She lifted her face up and waited with pursed lips. I had wanted to do this for so long. As I leaned over she slowly faded and I tried to grab her. I wanted to tell her how I felt, how I longed to feel the touch of her smooth, creamy skin, but she vanished. </i>
I woke up with a start, only vaguely aware of where I was. I had fallen asleep and my book was on my lap. I looked over at the clock and it was 7pm. I guess it’s time to make something to eat. The dream was very real and in the dream Lily was back to being so alive and full of energy. I wondered about that. My entire senior year I had thought about her as I passed some of her favorite spots or I thought about what she was doing in college. But after heading off to West Point and being so busy I had not thought about her since I graduated from high school. And now I was dreaming about her. I wanted her to be the way she was back then; alive and glowing, her eyes that bright piercing blue and her smile back at 1000 watts. Hell, I realized, I still wanted her… period.
I checked on my mother and she was sleeping as well. I decided to make some pasta, which she always loved, and made some linguine with just butter and parmesan. I was finishing up when I heard my mother call out to me. I went to her bedroom.
“What’s that I smell?”
She looked at me. “That actually sounds pretty good. It’ll have to be light on the parmesan cheese or my stomach won’t like me.” She knew that my favorite style was just butter and parmesan.
“No problem. I didn’t even put the parmesan on yet. I figured I would let you add it as you saw fit.”
I went back to the kitchen and fixed her a plate and brought it to her on a tray. I knew she would be tired, so I had everything ready to go. I gave it to her and she looked at it.
“Well, I hope this goes well. After the first treatment, I didn’t eat for a whole day.”
I watched as she added some parmesan and then toyed with it. “Yes, but the doctor told me he backed off a little on this treatment, so you should feel better, faster.”
She looked up at me. “I hope so.” She took a first tentative bite. “Aren’t you going to join me?”
“Sure.” I hurried back to the kitchen and got another tray and loaded it up with a plate of linguine. When I arrived back in my mother’s room she was eating very slowly and taking small bites. I wolfed mine down.
When we were done, she lay back down and said she was going to sleep for the night. I kissed her forehead, cleaned up the kitchen, and retreated to the den. I figured I’d channel surf for a while and read some more before turning in.
It was about 9pm when there was a knock on the door. I was surprised, because folks around this small town seldom bothered anyone this late.
When I opened the door I was even more surprised. It was Mrs. Johnson, Lily’s mother.
“Hello, Mrs. Johnson! How are you?” I stood aside and let her enter the house as I greeted her. She looked almost the same, albeit some grey had shown up in her hair and she had laugh lines around her mouth and eyes. She was still attractive and had a great smile.
“Pretty good, thank you. How’s your shoulder?” She nodded toward my left arm, which I had put back in the sling to take the weight off it after releasing it for a while during my cooking.
“Not bad. Nothing serious. Just needs some time to heal.”
“Great.” She looked around and I realized that we were still standing in the foyer.
“Oh, I’m sorry, come in. Let’s go into the den.” I pointed her that way and she preceded me into the den. She looked around and I waved her toward the couch. “Please, have a seat. Can I get you something to drink?”
She sat on one end of the couch. “No, thanks. I just wanted to see you now that you are home.”
I sat at the other end of the couch. “I appreciate that. How is everything going with the Johnson family?”
She fixed me with those blazing blue eyes that she had passed on to her daughter. “We are all fine except for Lily. I came here because I could tell you always had a thing for her when you were in high school.”
I looked down and smiled. I may have even blushed. “Was it that obvious?”
She rolled her eyes and grinned. “Oh, god, it was so obvious to everyone except her. She was oblivious to how you used to stare at her and light up whenever you were around her. I was hoping she would notice because I knew she was in trouble with Buck, her ex.” She watched me carefully as she said that and it did catch me a little off guard.
Did that mean ex-boyfriend or ex-husband? “Her ex, as in ex-husband?”
She sighed. “Yes. They both went to Eastern Illinois and by the end of her junior year she was pregnant and he had been kicked off the football team for being such an ass. She decided to keep the child. They both quit, never finished, and he married her to give the kid a name. A few months after the baby was born he took off. We haven’t seen anything from him since then.”
“Yeah, well it is what it is. Life is like that sometimes. At least her daughter, my granddaughter, is a little doll.”
I sat there trying to see where this was leading.
“So tell me about what you’ve been doing.”
I thought about it and told her the basics.
“Well, as you know I went to West Point and graduated in 2005. I chose infantry as my branch. I attended Airborne and Ranger Schools and then was sent to my first unit. It was only about a year after I arrived in the unit that we were deployed to Afghanistan. That’s where I got shot. I was sent back to the U.S. at that point for rehabilitation and after another year, the Army asked if I wanted to leave the service with a service connected disability. It was to be my option. My shoulder would never be 100% according to the doctors, and when my mother became ill, I decided that I wanted to go home and see what I could do for her. My shoulder had had a ligament cut by the bullet as it grazed two bones and left bone chips in my shoulder. I had a second surgery just before I left the Army to provide further support for the ligament as it reattached itself.”
“Yes, and no. When I finally did leave the Army, I left behind a very important family to return to my original one. It was one of the hardest decisions I ever made. Being in the Army was definitely like being a part of a big family. It had given me a lot and turned me into the person I am today. I’m not sure I would have turned out as well if I had gone to a civilian university and worked a normal job.”
“Sounds like you really liked it, even if it was tough.”
“I loved it. I still do.”
“Anyway, back to Lily. She told me she ran into you today at her coffee shop.”
I looked at her. “Yes, I did. My mother was getting chemo over at the hospital so I was sitting there when I saw her. I was very surprised. I always assumed that she would get her degree and move somewhere else. She seemed to be drawn towards a big city.”
Mrs. Johnson looked down at her hands and spoke more quietly. “I’m sorry to hear about your mother. I haven’t seen her in a while. Is she going to be okay?”
“Yes, the prognosis is good. She should be fine since they caught it early. It was Stage 1 bladder cancer.”
She stared at me for a second. “Oh. Sorry.”
“Thanks.” I could see her contemplating telling me something else as she twisted her hands in her lap. One thing I learned in the Army was how to tell when someone was holding something back that they wanted to tell you. “Why don’t you tell me what’s on your mind, Mrs. Johnson.”
She looked up at me with wide eyes. I think she was surprised that I guessed there was more and that I came right out and asked about it. “Lily said you asked for her phone number. Please, if you still like her, call her and at least get her out of the house. She needs to learn to enjoy life again. She needs to get out and about. She does nothing but work and take care of Lauren, her daughter. Some days I can’t even see the buoyant girl that she was when she was younger. She needs to get out, but won’t even let me babysit long enough for her to go to a movie. The only time she lets me babysit is when she has to work. I think she is punishing herself by throwing herself into her work and child rearing. I just want to see her have some fun and get back to the life-loving person she was.”
I looked into her eyes and we stared at each other for a few moments. I knew she was also doing a little match-making, but hell, I wanted this, too. “I’ve always liked your daughter, Mrs. Johnson, and I will definitely call her. I don’t know what I can do after all this time, but I will call her and ask her out. The rest is up to her.”
She smiled. “Thank you. You were always the one kid who did the right thing.”
I grinned and tried to deflect her praise. “Yeah, well, that was a long time ago.”
She laughed. “I doubt that you have changed. You seem to be a fine young man, a war hero, who is here taking care of his mother. Anything you can do to help her out of her funk would be great.”
“Okay, Mrs. Johnson, I get the point.” I laughed. “Don’t lay it on too thick.”
She laughed and stood up. “Sorry. A mother’s first rule is to make sure her children are happy.”
I stood and shook her hand. “You mean a <i>good</i> mother’s first rule. Not all feel that way in the world today.”
She finished shaking my hand and suddenly grabbed me in a tight hug. “Thank you.”
She turned toward the door and I showed her out.
I sat on the couch and tried to think about it, but I was exhausted and just went to bed.
Chapter 3. Lily?
17 September 2009
The next morning I waited until about 10am to call Lily. It was mid-September and a school day, so I wondered about her daughter. I calculated Lily graduated in 2000 and finished her junior year in 2003. If she had the child in late 2003 Lauren would be approaching 6 years old and could possibly be in school.
“Hello?” It was Lily and I could hear the café noises in the background. She was already at work.
“Hi, Lily, it’s Jon.”
“Hey, Jon. It’s good to hear from you so soon. I wasn’t sure you’d call.”
“Why not?” I decided to be a little forthright. “I always liked you Lily. You were smart and pretty and popular and I like to think that we were friends. I thought we might catch up on the last 9 years. Do you have any time free this weekend?”
“Well, not really. I’m a little short-staffed at the café and I’ll be working long hours. I don’t know if I’ll have much time. I was planning on taking Friday evening off and doing a little shopping. I could meet you somewhere at the mall if you want to just talk.”
I was trying to decipher her last comment ‘just talk’, but decided to take it at face value. “That’s fine. What time do you want to meet?”
“How about 8 at the Panera’s in the mall?”
“Okay, good. I was hoping you would suggest a place because I haven’t been there in years.”
“Yeah, I figured. So see you at 8?”
“Absolutely. I’ll be there.”
“Okay, I’ll see you there. I have to go now. Work calls. Bye.” She hung up.
I looked at the phone for a second. She seemed fine and nothing seemed odd. I guess I would find out tomorrow.
18 September 2009
On Friday I got dressed and put on a nice pair of dress pants, a long sleeve shirt and a black jacket. I wanted to at least look presentable for Lily. I still had to put the sling on because of the repair work last month. I couldn’t support the weight all day without pain and I was supposed to start rehab in a couple of weeks.
I arrived at the mall at about 6:30 and browsed a few stores, picking up some local items to send to some of my Army buddies. They would appreciate some of the humorous t-shirts that I found.
Finally, around 8pm, I entered the Panera near the middle of the mall and immediately saw Lily sitting at a table near the windows. I approached her and watched as she was turned away from me staring out the window at the other shoppers. She struck such a sad, forlorn figure sitting there. I immediately felt that old familiar feeling of awe I had had of her when she was young and full of life.
She turned toward me and gave me a dim 100 watt smile. “Oh, there you are. I appreciate your meeting me here.” She made it sound like I was there for a job interview.
I frowned. “What does that mean?”
She stared at me. “I know my mother came to see you. I also know that she probably told you that I need rescuing. She’s been after me to get out of the house for a while now and I really am happy running the café and taking care of Lauren. I don’t need you to come riding in to save the day.”
I sat quietly for a second and thought about that. I could tell that she really was depressed, although she might deny it. “Lily, your mother had nothing to do with me calling you. She didn’t give me your number, you did. And that was before she came to see me. Yeah, she made her pitch about getting you out of your current funk, but she didn’t have to. I was going to call you anyway.”
“Why? Why were you going to call a single mother with no free time and no interest in a relationship?”
“C’mon Lily, you know why. I always liked you and when I was tutoring you in math I was so infatuated with you I didn’t even date anyone that last half of my junior year. I wasn’t thinking about a relationship at this point, just getting to know that girl who is now a woman and single mother.”
She looked at me like I had three heads. “You’re kidding, right? You had a crush on me?”
“Nope, not kidding. I had a big crush on you.” I smiled and she grinned a little. “Your mother could see it; my friends could see it. I guess you were the only one who couldn’t see it. And I was, unfortunately, unable to deal with it. I was too shy at that age. Besides, would it have mattered when you were dating Buck?”
She sighed. “You’re right. I didn’t see it and it probably wouldn’t have mattered. I was so in love with Buck that nobody could get me away from him.” She looked at me and got a mischievous grin. “It’s kind of funny now, all these years later to realize this. Thanks.”
“Oh, great, so now my teenage infatuation is a source of humor to you? That really makes me feel much better.” I tried to make light of it and smiled so that she could see that I was teasing.
She put her hand over mine and chuckled. “Sorry.”
I smiled. The touch of her hand set my nerve endings jangling. I still wanted her, but I had to clear the air a little. “So what about Buck? What happened to him?”
Her entire demeanor changed as she pulled her hand back, folded it with the other and stared down at them. “I found out I was pregnant in late-May, just near the end of junior year. After I got pregnant things were good for only about 6 months. As soon as I got near term, he got antsy. We married in September, but by December he was ready to leave. I knew in the back of my mind that it was coming. I could see it, but couldn’t face it. After Lauren was born in December, he continued to withdraw. Finally, I told him that if he wanted to leave so bad, to just go. He did. It was like I had cut some tether that he was on. Once I said that, he was gone the next day. I made sure to get the divorce and I didn’t ask for anything as long as he didn’t want to have Lauren at any time. He has no visitation rights.” She was now wringing her hands forcefully.
“And you haven’t seen him since?”
“Oh, yes. I’ve seen him. I just haven’t told anyone else. The last time I saw him was just last year. He came by to see how Lauren was doing. He wanted to say hello for her birthday, he said, but he missed it by a day and was drunk so I turned him away. He was a little angry, but he didn’t really seem to care that much. I found that I pitied him more than despised him when I saw him. At first I thought he must have felt at least something to drive all the way down here, but then I remembered that his father and brother live in the next town, so he might have just come down to see them.”
“He doesn’t live somewhere in the area?”
“No, I think he lives up near Chicago, but he can always come back down and make life hell for us. That’s all I got out of his visit.”
She looked up at me. “You didn’t do anything.”
“I’m just sorry that anyone has to go through what you are going through.”
She looked at me pointedly. “What do you mean by that?”
“Just that I’m sorry that you have been treated that way, that’s all.”
She took offense to that, but I don’t know why. “What do you mean? This is a pity call, isn’t it? My mother <i>did</i> get you to come here, didn’t she? You’re going to come in and make everything better, right? I don’t need your pity. I don’t need anyone’s pity. I’ll have you know that I am perfectly capable of raising my daughter by myself. I can take care of myself. We’ll be fine. We don’t need any white knights.”
“Lily, what are you talking about? I didn’t mean it that way…” I couldn’t think of anything else and she interrupted me.
“I’m suddenly not hungry any more. I’ll see you later.” She stood up and stomped off before I could protest or say another word.
I let her go. I didn’t know what to say or how to handle it. She had a chip on her shoulder or at least had started hating men because of her past. I could tell that all her emotions were just under the surface and that she was tense, but I didn’t know what to do. One minute she was smiling and the next jumping all over me. I had no idea how just saying I was sorry had set her off. I wasn’t going to solve all her problems… or even try. I just wanted to see her again. Damn!
<i> Part II.
From Part I: I returned from Afghanistan, having been shot in the shoulder and having two surgeries to repair it. I got out of the Army to help my mother who had bladder cancer and ran into the high school girl on whom I had had a crush. I found out she was a single mother of a young daughter and tried to ask her out, only to have her accuse me of treating her like someone who I thought couldn’t take care of herself and needed to be saved. </i>
Chapter 4. My mother?
19 September 2009
<i> The bullets were thudding and zinging around us as SFC Garcia and I made our way around to the left flank of the attackers. There must have been a large number based on the amount of fire. We continued to work our way around and the rest of the platoon continued to try to fix the enemy and withstand the RPGs, the few mortar rounds, and the rifle fire they were sending at them. The good news was that the enemy had left an open flank for us to be able to get around and into a position where they were no longer under cover. We had open shots at many of them and they had to try to maneuver back through the rocks without taking fire from either the rest of the platoon or Sergeant Garcia and I. It was not good for them, but Sergeant Garcia and I were able to start picking them off and making them retreat. I saw one of them turn to try to shoot us as he tried to exfiltrate back through the rocks and I lined him up in my sights. I pulled the trigger and… </i>
I jerked awake, lightly sweating, my breathing slightly elevated. The dream was not coming as often, but it was still there. I looked at the clock; 3am. Ugh! I lay back down, but it took a while to get back to sleep.
I didn’t get up until much later that morning. It was Saturday and I had stayed out late after my meeting with Lily, going to a movie and then planting my ass in a bar stool to drink and watch sports. My mother said she was going to bed when I called, so I had stayed out way too late. I must have gotten home around 2am, and then had the dream at 3. I rolled out of bed around noon and walked into the kitchen. My mother was sitting there drinking coffee.
“Well, good morning sleepyhead.”
“Morning.” I opened the refrigerator and took out a Diet Pepsi. Some people have to have their caffeine via coffee; I took mine from diet soda. I had never taken to the taste of coffee.
After I poured a glass I turned and sat down. My mother was staring at me with a slight grin on her face. “Lily called this morning.”
I perked up a little and my head jerked up toward my mother, but I tried not to be too obvious. “Yeah?”
“She told me that she blew up at you last night and wanted to apologize so you are supposed to call her when you get up. She’s already at the café and wants you to come by.”
“Okay.” I sat there and drank my diet soda.
My mother continued to stare.
She grinned. “You’ve still got a thing for her, don’t you?”
I smiled at her. Nothing ever got past my mother. “I think it’s just a wish to be young and naive again. I’m trying to fulfill some wishful thinking from a crush I had as a teenager. Unfortunately, you can’t go back and relive the past. I don’t know if I should do anything about her or not.” I was lying and she knew it.
“Yeah, right. I saw your subtle reaction when I said that she called. You were hoping that she would.”
“Okay, maybe. But it’s still just wishful thinking.”
My mother turned serious. “She’s had a rough way to go and she was always such a beautiful person. I feel sorry for her. It’s tough raising a child alone. You were ten when your father left so I know the deal. She’s had to raise that one alone from the beginning. Her mother helps as much as she’ll let her, but she still seems to want to martyr herself.”
I chuckled. “Mom, you seem to know all about this. So why don’t you tell me what I should do? Should I try to rekindle some teenage crush or not? Should I even bother going out with her? What do you think?”
She looked at me very seriously and I could see the wheels turning. “Well… I know you still find her attractive. I think you should try to break through her façade and see what happens. You should see if you can make her at least consider living again. She seems so tense and angry at the world, and you can’t do that forever.”
I looked at her and decided to turn the tables on her. “And what about you, Mom? Did you ever try to get your own life back after dad left?”
She looked down at her hands. “Probably not as much as I should have.” She looked up at me with a piercing stare. “That’s why I want her to get on with her life. I know what happens. If you focus only on your child you wake up one day when they are gone and realize you’re alone… and lonely.”
I had never heard her talk this frankly about her own life before and she was making me feel bad. “I’m sorry I wasn’t around more.”
She smiled. “Don’t be sorry. Mothers have always watched their children grow up and go off on their own. We want that. We want the best for our children and I could see that the military was very good for you. You grew up to be a man that every mother would be proud of.” Tears came to her eyes so I went over and stood next to her chair and hugged her, holding her to my chest.
She let me hold her for a minute and then pulled back. She wiped her eyes. “I haven’t been a recluse, you know. I do have friends.”
I smiled and sat back down. “Yeah, okay, but why didn’t you ever take your own advice and start dating again.”
She looked at me and grinned. “Who says I didn’t?”
I acted shocked. “Mom? You out on a date? Will wonders never cease.”
She grinned. “Well, I’m older, but not dead. And there was sex, too.”
That stopped me in my tracks. I put my hands over my ears. “Okay, too much information!”
She stuck her tongue out at me. “See, even your mother can still shock you.”
I stood up and grinned at her. “I’m leaving. I can’t stand these open discussions about your sex life.”
I walked out of the kitchen to her laughter. Turning the tables didn’t work so well and she had definitely shocked me. I guess we never think about our parent’s sex lives… and for good reason. Ick!
I called Lily and she tried to apologize and I tried to tell her there was no reason, but she did so anyway. She asked me to come to the café for a late lunch and I agreed. I got there just after the main lunch crowd and sat in a booth near the side windows, staring out at the remains of a corn field. The café was the last building before hitting farmland having been built in response to the hospital and medical offices that had sprung up on the outskirts of this town.
Chapter 5. Lily makes nice.
I waited and the same cute little waitress came over. This time she was wearing a nametag and it told me her name was Cindy. She gave me a glass of water and a menu. She smiled. “I’ll be right back.” Then she grinned and whispered. “I’ll tell Lily you’re here.” When I frowned at her she smirked. “Be good to her.”
Okay… that was different. I hadn’t even done anything with her yet except piss her off at the mall and I was getting this sort of attention? I decided on what I would order and put the menu down. The waitress came over.
“What can I get you?”
“I’ll have the eggs over easy, bacon, home fries, and wheat toast.” They served breakfast all day and I loved breakfast; the hell with eating well when you have a hangover.
“Anything to drink?”
“Diet Pepsi?” She nodded and turned to go. “Wait!” I stopped her and she turned back. “Why did you say that about me being good to Lily? I haven’t seen her in years and we were just friends in high school. And where is she?”
She grinned. “She’s in the back closing up her office. She had been filling in for a missing cook, but she found a temp for that. She’s been running this place for a couple of years and we all like her. I’ve been here for two years. In all that time I’ve never seen her anxious about someone coming in. And a few minutes ago she went to the ladies room to fix her make-up; another first. Just be good to her.”
“I have no intention of being anything but good to her.” So she was running this place. That made a little more sense for someone who was as smart as she was.
As I said that I saw the waitress’s eyes look over my shoulder. “Thank you, sir.” She scampered off as I turned to see what she was looking at.
Lily strode up and sat down opposite me in the booth. She was no longer wearing the café garb if she had been at all. She was in a short black skirt and cream colored blouse with a black cardigan draped over her shoulders. She looked delectable. I wanted to eat her for lunch.
“Hi, Jon.” She seemed a little sheepish.
“Hi, Lily. I’m glad you called.”
She smiled and the wattage was definitely higher today. She appeared to be feeling better. “I didn’t mean to go off on you like that last night. I’ve just been under a lot of pressure lately and raising a daughter alone is not easy. I guess I jumped to the conclusion that you were looking at me like some of the other yahoos around here, a woman who needs a man’s help or a charity case that needs to be saved. I’m afraid you were just an easy mark for me to take out my frustration.”
I shrugged. “Apology accepted. It’s forgotten. That’s what friends are for.”
She smiled. “Okay, thanks.” She brightened and seemed glad to get that over with. “You know, the café is usually a little empty between now and dinner, so we could go somewhere.”
I looked at her. She had a little grin on her face, but I was trying to figure it out and where you could go in that small town.
She stood up. “C’mon, let’s go.” She stood up and waved at Cindy who seemed to understand immediately that she was to cancel my order.
I stood up and followed her out and she led me to my car. “Where are we going?”
“Out. C’mon, you’ll see.”
I followed her out and we went to my car. We got in and I looked at her. She grinned. “To the mall.”
I stared at her. “The mall?”
I started the car and drove to the mall. The local mall was not far from the small towns in our area and was about 15 miles from St. Louis. It was an enormous 100+ store mall that drew people from all around the area.
Lily wouldn’t tell me anything during the drive and when we got there she was still secretive about where we were going. Finally, we went into a Bennigan’s. She asked the waitress where the Johnson party was and she led us to the back of the booths. Sitting there waiting for us was Ted, an old friend of mine from high school that I played baseball with, John, the guy I used to hang out with at the local fast food place, and two women. I smiled and Ted and John jumped up to give me a hug, both of them hurting my shoulder and causing me to wince.
“I am shocked.” I turned to Lily. “Thanks for this.” I gave her a brief hug and then Ted and John introduced me to their wives. I hadn’t seen either of these guys since graduation. I was surprised that Lily even knew about them. I was also shocked that she had taken a chance on me coming over or being able to meet her here in time to see them. But it turned out well.
We ate and had a couple of drinks and I really enjoyed the company. When we were done, we left after exchanging phone numbers and headed back to my car. When we got to it I went with Lily around to the passenger side of the car. I stopped her, took her into my arms, well my one good arm anyway, and kissed her. It was a surprise to her at first, but she relaxed and let me kiss her. I kissed her for about 15 seconds and she kissed me back. It was everything I had hoped it would be and I got an instant erection.
When we pulled back, Lily smiled at me and glanced down at the indication of my erection, which was causing a noticeable bulge in my pants. I had hoped she hadn’t noticed. “Looks like you really do have a crush on me.”
I looked at her a little sheepishly, a little embarrassed. “Sorry.”
She just grinned, turned to open the door, and I let her. I got in on my side and turned to her. “Lily. I want to take you out. I want to ‘date’ you.” I quoted the word date with my hands. “Whatever it takes to get to know you and find out who you are now.”
She looked at me, appearing to think about it. “I think I’d like that.”
“And thanks for tracking down my friends.” I couldn’t stop smiling at her. A teenager’s wish was finally coming true.
She grinned at me. “I do remember some things. And, of course, they are at the café pretty regularly since they are locals. I found out who they were one day from your mother when she was in there eating after visiting her doctor and so it was easy to track them down. It was just my way of apologizing for last Friday.”
I smiled and drove her back to the café, thinking all the way back how lucky I was to get to relive this portion of my life. We got out and went inside. I waited until we were in there when I remembered that we hadn’t set up the time for the first date. “Wait!” I reached out and touched her arm. “When can we go on our first date?”
“How about Thursday? I have someone else closing up the café.”
“Cool! Pick you up at your house?”
“That’s fine. 6pm? I need to get back fairly early because I open on Friday morning.”
Before she left me, she leaned in toward me and whispered. “You can’t seem to wipe that smile off your face. I think that’s the best compliment anyone’s ever given me.” She kissed me on the cheek and turned to go.
I think I smiled all the way home.
Chapter 6. Oh, no. Buck!
22 September 2009
The next week was busy as I decided to go through a lot of the items in my room and the attic and cull out the trash. I organized what was left and at the same time took care of my mother. My mother’s next appointment was on Tuesday of that week and I took her in so that I could visit the café. When I got there I again sat in Cindy’s area and she told me that Lily was off that day doing shopping and visiting with her family. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. Cindy could see it.
“Don’t worry. She’s interested.”
“Interested in what?” The question by Cindy seemed to come out of nowhere.
“A relationship with you.” She grinned.
Cindy laughed and it was a good laugh. “She’s been smiling more, she’s been nicer, and she’s walking around humming ever since you asked her out. She’s definitely looking forward to it.”
I smiled broadly. “Thanks.”
Cindy leaned over and said quietly, but with a smirk, “Just be good to her, okay?”
I laughed. “I already told you I’ll be nothing but good to her.”
I ate there and took my mother home. Thursday could not come soon enough.
24 September 2009
Unfortunately, on Thursday afternoon I had an appointment with a doctor to discuss my ‘dreams’. He was supposedly a specialist in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
“So, Jon, tell me about any stressful situations you’ve been in and how you feel being back in the real world.”
I stared at him. What the fuck did he know about anything except the real world? “Well, I’ve had the dream about my actions in Afghanistan a couple of times, but only portions of it now. I don’t dream the entire action. I also don’t have much stress in my life, so I don’t feel like I have PTSD at all. I’m not working or going to school. I decided to take a couple of months off and watch over my mother.”
He looked at me carefully. “That’s good, Jon. You haven’t shown any serious signs of it, but we have to do these routine follow-ups. Anything you want to discuss? Do you miss the military, the weapons, the fighting?”
“I miss the military and my men. The military is a big family with, as we call it, a shared suck. We all pay the price in some way for our service, but we love it and we stick together. I miss my men because you can’t go through something like that without getting close.”
We danced around some other subjects and he asked about my integration back into civilian life. After about 45 minutes we were about finished. My final statement was again about missing military life.
“Military life is so different. It’s dangerous, has long hours, is difficult even when not in combat, but it’s a work-hard, play-hard sort of thing and you never forget the bonds formed.”
He nodded and looked at me thoughtfully. “Well said. I feel the same way.”
I stared at this old guy. “You?”
“Of course. I got my initial education in Viet Nam.”
I looked at him again. He really did know what it was like to take hostile fire. That made him much more palatable – for a shrink. “That’s interesting. I’m glad I didn’t get some bookworm with no sense for what a fighting man has gone through.”
He chuckled. “Just remember that they are well educated bookworms and are generally very good at their jobs. You were just unlucky enough to get an old soul with a desire to continue to help the military.”
“Well, I wouldn’t say that was unlucky for me. Thanks, doc.”
When I left, he told me that he didn’t think the dreams would last much longer and that from my conversations and discussions I didn’t show any signs of PTSD.
Later that day, I picked Lily up and we went to dinner at a restaurant in the next town. They were supposed to have excellent food, and they did, it was just very heavy stuff; all meat and potato dishes. We ate and really had a wonderful time. We discussed ourselves a little as she failed to say anything about Buck other than saying that he had left. She couldn’t stop gushing about Lauren. I finally laughed and she stared at me.
“What are you laughing at?”
“You can’t stop talking about your daughter, just like all the other moms. It amazes me how much mothers love their children. It sometimes makes me sad to be a man and never carry and give birth to a baby. You guys have a closeness that is amazing.”
She giggled. “Have a baby, huh?”
I chuckled. “I said sometimes I think about it. That doesn’t mean that I ever want to feel the pain that you guys go through.”
She smiled at me, watching the way I spoke. “So like a man. You’d rather take a bullet than have a baby.” I knew she was ribbing me.
“Amen to that!”
I couldn’t stop smiling the rest of the night. It was one of the most relaxed and enjoyable dates I had ever been on. When I took her home, I parked behind her car in the driveway and got out quickly. I hustled around to her side and opened her door for her. She looked at me with surprise in her eyes.
“Nobody does that anymore.”
I grinned. “Well, I just disproved that, didn’t I?” I put out my hand and walked her to the door. She stopped and got out her keys. She put them in and turned the lock. She started to open the door, but turned to face me.
“I’m not going to invite you in.”
I looked at her. I could see her indecision and I really wanted to go in, but I deferred to her better judgment. “I understand.”
She looked at me closely. “Do you?”
I looked at her with a slight frown. “Well, we just met after all this time and we don’t know each other well….”
She interrupted me. “No, that’s not it. I can see and I’ve always known that you were one of the good guys. I would love to ‘get involved’ with you, but I have to be careful because I’m a single mother with a very impressionable daughter.”
“Oh, okay.” What else could I say to that?
She then leaned in and grabbed me by the collar. She smiled and leaned toward me as she pulled me down by my collar to kiss me. I returned it. It was just a small 3 second kiss with no tongue, but she held her lips against mine tenderly and I loved it. She pulled away and looked up at me. She seemed a little shocked at how it felt. Then she smiled.
“That was nice.”
“I think so, too. More?”
She laughed and gave me a little jab in the chest. “Don’t push your luck.”
“Can I take you out again?”
She looked up at me and smiled. It almost reached 250 watts. “Saturday, 7pm, I’ll cook dinner, okay?”
“Great!” I was on cloud 9 all the way home.
26 September 2009
When it finally reached Saturday, I dressed nicely and did what my mother had taught me many years ago about what to do when going to a woman’s house for dinner; picked up flowers and wine. I drove to her little house and had no trouble finding it from the address. The town was small and all the streets were pretty well laid out.
When I arrived, I immediately noticed that something was wrong. Her front door was ajar and there was an old pickup in the driveway. I knew that she drove a Jeep and it was in the driveway as well. I left the flowers and wine in the car and parked in front.
I walked up to the door and peeked in around it. “Hello?”
There was no answer at first so I pushed the door open halfway and repeated it. “Hello?”
Suddenly the door flew open and standing there was Buck, her ex. He looked a little wild-eyed and drunk and I was immediately afraid for Lily.
“Who are you?”
“Jon Kenton, an old friend from high school.” I stuck out my hand, offering a handshake, hoping to lull him into talking to me reasonably.
He stared at me. “Nope, don’t know you.” He started to close the door.
“Fuck off!” He tried to slam the door, but swung it closed with one hand and I easily blocked it and shoved it open. I made my way in, knowing I was in trouble with only one good shoulder, and he backed up in surprise. I had to find out about Lily.
“Where’s Lily?” I tried to remain calm to keep him from getting further worked up.
“None of your business, asswipe!”
He started to grab me and I decided that I could not get in a tussle with him with my bad shoulder. He was two inches taller and now at least 40 pounds heavier. I did the only thing I could think of quickly. I gave him a jab to the Adam’s apple. It had the immediate affect I desired. He stopped and tried to breathe, his eyes going big at the loss of air. I rushed by him and into the back bedroom to find Lily out cold on the bed. I didn’t know where Lauren was, but I was hoping that Lily sent her to her mother’s for our date. I knew he would recover quickly, so I picked up the hard line phone next to her bed and dialed 911. Even if he interrupted me, they would have the number and therefore the address.
The operator came on the line and just when I was going to say something Buck burst into the room. I put the receiver down, leaving the line open, and stood to face him.
“What did you do to Lily?” I tried to make him react to my accusation while the operator responded to the call.
“None of your fucking business. The fucking bitch is hiding my kid from me.” He advanced on me and I tried to think what I could do. He would be ready for almost anything and was bigger than me. All the combat training doesn’t do much with an arm in a sling in a tight space.
Since I was in a cramped area, I figured the only option was to make the first move to try to surprise him. I braced myself and then rushed him, trying to ram him with my good shoulder, but he still had good reflexes and I was not fully successful. I was able to slam him against the wall and get in a couple of good thrusts of my knee into his midsection, but he knew my weakness from the sling I was wearing. He made sure to grab and push on my bad shoulder. When the pain hit, I was shocked at how intense it was. It slowed me down enough for him to hit me on it and that sent me to the floor. The pain was so intense that I couldn’t concentrate on hitting him at all. He kicked me a couple of times, once in the ribs and once on the shoulder, and then laughed as he watched me writhing in pain. The last kick was pushing me toward unconsciousness and I tried to hold on. He had left me, but the pain was dragging me down so fast I couldn’t tell what he was doing. The last thing I remember was him laughing as he walked over and hung up the phone.
Chapter 7. Recovery?
27 September 2009
I slowly came awake and was aware of the hospital surroundings. I was in a bed and hooked to an IV. I could also feel that my left arm was tightly bundled, not in its normal sling. When my eyes opened, I could see my mother and Lily’s mother standing in the room. They both noticed me waking up.
My mother rushed to me. “Jon!” She hugged me and pulled back to look at me. “How do you feel?”
“Like I got beat up.” Wasn’t it obvious?
Then Mrs. Johnson leaned over and kissed me lightly on the lips. “Thank you, dear boy, for saving Lily.”
I looked at her, trying to get my mind around what she just said. Everything was slowly coming back to me, but I didn’t know exactly what she was talking about, and the medications had made me groggy.
They could see my confusion so my mother filled me in. “When you went to see Lily, Buck had drugged her and, according to the police, was planning on taking her back to Chicago with him. He lives just outside there now. The police arrived as he was putting her into the truck and they stopped him and then found you on the floor. It was the 911 call and open line that did it. The operator heard everything.”
I interrupted her. “How long have I been here?”
“That all happened yesterday. You’ve been here since last night.” My mother looked at her watch. “It’s 6pm, so you’ve been here almost 24 hours.”
“In the room next door. She’s doing fine. She’s already been up and around and is leaving in a few minutes.” She looked up at Mrs. Johnson, who smiled and scurried out the door.
“What about my shoulder?”
“The doctor said they will have to wait a couple of days to be sure, but he thinks the only damage is some bruising and pulling of some stitches where the wound was not completely closed yet. They repaired the stitches and everything should be good.”
About that time Lily came into the room. She was dressed in street clothes and holding her hand was a beautiful little clone of her and her mother. She walked over to me with Lauren and then bent over and kissed me lightly on the cheek. She hugged me, whispered a thank you into my ear, and then turned to Lauren.
“Lauren, this is Mr. Kenton. Say hello.”
Lauren looked up at me shyly, not releasing her mother’s hand. “Hi, Mr. Kenton.”
“Hello, Lauren. I’m very pleased to meet you. You’re a very pretty little girl.”
I think Lauren and Lily both blushed at that and Lauren smiled shyly, moving slightly behind Lily and peering at me from behind her mother with her big blue eyes. Her thank you was barely a quiet whisper.
“I’m sorry you had to get in the middle of this.” Lily looked around the room at everyone. “I hope your shoulder is okay.”
“It’ll be fine.” I smiled.
“I’m sorry that you got involved. This turned into a real disaster.”
I reached for her hand, but she wouldn’t let me hold it. “Don’t worry about it. I’m just glad you are okay. What’s going to happen to Buck?”
Lily turned to her mother. “Mom, Lauren has been asking for something to drink. Can you take her to the cafeteria?”
“Sure.” Mrs. Johnson took Lauren’s hand. “C’mon sweetie, let’s go get a soda.” Lauren looked like she was going to protest to her mother, but then thought better of it and let her grandmother lead her from the room.
Lily turned back to me. “They took him to jail and threw the book at him. They charged him with assault, attempted kidnapping, and some other things. I also filed a restraining order against him to keep him away from both me and Lauren. I have no idea how to explain to her that it was her father that did this. She’s only seen him a couple of times and has no idea what he’s really like.”
I stared at her. “So what’s he like now?”
Lily stared at me for a second and then looked at the floor. “He’s become a mean drunk. He never finished his degree, just like me, and is now working construction up near Chicago. He’s meaner than I’ve ever seen him.”
“How did he drug you?”
She looked up at me. “I forgot he can be so devious. He acted nice and said he just wanted to talk about Lauren. I wanted to believe him since he’s her father, so I let him in – against my better judgment. He then went to the kitchen and got a couple of beers from the fridge. I guess he put something in mine, because after a few minutes, I started feeling woozy and couldn’t stand up. I knew then that I was in trouble. The doctor told me it was one of those date rape drugs. Fortunately, Lauren was with my mother for our date.” She finally reached out and touched my arm. “Sorry about that, by the way.”
“Sorry about what? You didn’t cancel the date or cause it to be interrupted. I’m just glad you are okay.”
“Well, I’m definitely sorry that you got in the middle of this. I wanted to let you know that his brother came to the hospital and said he was going to do something about Buck being put in jail. He’s just as mean, if not meaner, than Buck and I don’t want you to get hurt.”
“I’ll be fine.”
Lily stared at me. “No, I mean that we can’t see each other anymore. I don’t want to be responsible for you getting hurt more than you already are.”
“Lily, I’m a big boy now. I can take care of myself. Don’t worry about me.”
She looked at me, then my bad shoulder, and then at the floor. “Sorry, but I mean it. I won’t go out with you again. I can’t take the chance that he’ll find a way to hurt you. I couldn’t live with myself if that happened. This is my fight and I’ll handle it. Besides, we barely know each other after all this time.”
I stared at her. My emotions were all over the place. I was just getting old feelings about a beautiful woman I knew in high school, had felt wonderful around her, and she was going to blow me off? “No, Lily, I won’t do that. I’m going to keep asking you out until you go out with me. Remember, I’m pretty stubborn.” I tried to smile and make her smile.
She smiled at me with the tired, resigned smile that I saw a lot from her nowadays. “Sorry, but that’s the way it’s going to be.” She turned around to leave.
Fuck! I had no way to stop her from my position in the bed. “I’m not taking no for an answer!” I shouted at her back and she didn’t turn around as she went through the door and turned left. “I’ll see you again Lily!” I shouted louder.
I looked over at my mother, who was standing there watching all this. She looked at me and walked over to the door. She peeked around the corner for a few seconds and then looked back at me and smiled.
She looked outside for a few more seconds and then turned and walked over to me. “I was watching Lily in the hallway. She stopped about halfway down the hallway, leaned against the wall, and took several deep breaths. She appeared to be trying not to cry. I think that’s a good thing.”
“You think she was upset because she turned me down? It wasn’t just all her emotions of the last few days?”
My mother leaned close to me. “I think she’s finding you irresistible. Any woman would.”
I laughed a little in spite of my predicament. “Spoken like a mom.”
“You betcha!” She turned and left the room.
Chapter 8. Lily, have you been drinking?
28 September 2009
I didn’t get out of the hospital until the next day and I had been asked by the police to come down, provide my story and then review and sign a complaint against Buck. I did that and headed home. I was still pretty tired and decided to take it easy for the rest of the day. I also planned on contacting Lily as soon as I could. I was not going to let this go.
Over the next few days I called her and went by the café, but she continued to put me off and wouldn’t talk to me. I went by her house and she wouldn’t even answer the door. I was starting to get angry at her, at Buck, at life in general. My mother was not taking my mood swings very well either.
I also obtained an Illinois Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID). I wanted to purchase a weapon in case Buck’s relatives decided to come after me. Illinois has very restrictive laws about weapons and I would not be able to carry it with me like I wanted, but I wanted to have something for personal protection just in case.
At one point during this period I had the dream again. This time it was only up until I got shot. I jerked awake, the pain in my shoulder reminding me of that wound.
Nothing happened for a while so after about three weeks, I sent Lily a very appealing note, at least in my mind, about how she deserved more out of life and that she needed to get past Buck. I said in it that I still had a crush on her and wanted to go out on a date. I was hoping that she would at least talk to me after reading it. I got no answer.
17 October 2009
It was 9pm and my mother had just gone to bed. She was going to bed earlier than I had ever remembered because of the chemo. The doorbell rang and I went to answer it. It was Lily.
I opened the door to her and she looked up at me with apprehension. “Hi, Jon. Can I come in?” Her words were slurred, her eyes wide and staring, and I could tell she had been drinking… a lot.
“Sure.” I opened the door and she came into the foyer. I had to tread carefully. “It’s really good to see you Lily.”
“Thanks.” She didn’t stop in the foyer, but continued into the den, staggering slightly. “Is your mother still up?”
I followed right behind her. “No, she goes to bed early every night. The chemo wipes her out for days.” I couldn’t help but notice her style of dress. Her jacket was open. She was wearing extremely tight jeans that showed off her cute bubble butt and a t-shirt with a slightly darker bra underneath. She looked edible.
“Okay, good. We need to talk.” She sat down on the couch, removing her jacket and dropping it beside her.
I stood in front of her. “Can I get you something to drink?”
“Sure.” She giggled. “I’ve already been drinking, but what the hell, eh? Beer’s fine.”
I went into the kitchen and retrieved two beers. I opened them and want back into the den. I gave Lily her beer and sat on the opposite end of the couch. “Okay, so let’s talk.” I made her take the lead.
“Look, Jon. I know that you harbor some lin… linger… lingering high school crush kind of feelings about me, but I’m not that person. I’m a strug… struggling single mom trying to make life good for my daughter. You can’t keep p… pestering me like you are doing.” Now it was obvious that she had been drinking quite a bit because she was slurring and stumbling over her words and her eyes were bright and a little glazed.
“Is that what I am doing? Pestering you?”
“Yes, and it’s getting annoying.”
I leaned forward. “Lily, say what you want, but I really do want to get to know you. Yes, I had a crush on you in high school, but now I’m an adult. I know that I can’t go back and relive those days. But I still find you a beautiful and attractive woman. I just want to get to know you. I’m not the type of person who is doing this because I need to save someone and I don’t look at you as a ‘project’. I really want to get to know you as you are now. I cannot say that anything will come of it, but we’ll never know if we don’t at least get to know each other better, right?”
She stared at me and sighed. “Yeah, I know. I’ve been a total b… bitch. Sorry.”
“No need to apologize. I know it’s tough on you. I have no idea what it would be like to be a single mother, but I have heard my mother talk about it before. It’s difficult, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still have a life, right?”
“You’re right.” She stared at me and smiled. She took a big pull on the beer. The alcohol seemed to be affecting her more as we sat there.
“Lily, when I was in high school, just being near you excited me. It still does. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it’s the truth.”
“It doesn’t sound ridiculous. Maybe a little like a Disney movie…” She giggled to see my reaction and then hiccupped.
“Oh, so you want to make fun of me again.” I grinned. “You really are a cruel bitch, Lily Johnson.”
She laughed and I loved that throaty laugh. “Yes, I am. So you really want to date me? Take me out to dinner and do all that romantic stuff?”
“Yes. I want to do whatever it takes to get to know you and see what it is about you that drives me nuts. We can take it slow and learn who we each are after all this time.”
Lily grinned at me and stood up, albeit a little shakily. She reached for her t-shirt and suddenly whipped it off, dropping it on the couch. “At this point, taking it slow seems too painful – and I’m horny.” She reached up behind her back to undo her bra.
I was just staring, shocked by this turn of events. One minute she wants nothing to do with me and the next she shows up drunk and starts stripping for sex? “Uh, this is a little sudden after not even wanting to see me, isn’t it?”
She had her bra unclasped and was holding it against her breasts. “You want me to stop? You don’t want to have sex with me?” I couldn’t tell if she was annoyed or just teasing me now.
I stared at her for a couple of seconds, my dick already making his choice known to me. “I want to have sex with you in the worst way.”
“Good!” She whipped off her bra and her beautiful alabaster breasts were bared to me for the first time. They were magnificent. They were almost a C-cup, with nice pink areola and very prominent nipples. Her entire body seemed to be very pale. There was just a hint of freckles across the tops of her breasts. I looked up at her face and she was smiling. “You like?” The question seemed to be a mixture of her searching for a complement and needing reassurance that she was still attractive.
She smiled and relaxed. “Good answer.” She came over and sat on my lap. We kissed then. It was fast, but slow; tender, but aggressive. It was the best kiss I had ever had in my life. Nobody had ever seemed to completely enthrall me with a kiss. Usually, I was already thinking of my next move, or where my hands were when I was kissing a woman. But with Lily, just the kissing completely occupied my thoughts. When she finally pulled back she stared at me wide-eyed. “Wow! I’ve really missed kissing.”
I gave her another little quick kiss. “I’ve never had one like that, so I’ve been missing out my entire life.”
She giggled. “Careful, you’re going to give me a big head.” Then she squirmed on my lap. “And it appears that I’ve already given you one.”
“You’re killing me, Lily.”
She suddenly took my head in her hands and looked directly in to my eyes. “Jon, I haven’t had sex in two years.”
I stared into those blazing blue eyes. “I haven’t had sex in about 15 months.”
She giggled. “We’re pathetic.”
I grinned at her. “Shut up and let’s get naked.”
She smiled and stood up. She undid her jeans and I sat there, unmoving, as I watched. She wiggled her hips and worked her tight jeans down and then off. Her panties were half down on one side from removing her jeans and I could see the beginnings of her pubic patch. She removed her panties and stood back up a little shaky due to the alcohol. I could see that she had shaved her pubic hair to a small patch directly over her pussy, leaving her lips visible below them. I wondered if she did that all the time or just for this ‘event’. I hadn’t moved and she looked at me pointedly. “You’re not undressing.” She covered herself, suddenly becoming a little self conscious as the only naked one in the room.
I stood up and took her by the hand. “Grab your clothes, let’s go to my room.”
She grabbed her clothes and I led her to my bedroom. I worked the buttons on my shirt and she helped me get it off over my bad shoulder. Once that was done she dropped to her knees and started removing my jeans. I just stood there and let her. She worked my jeans and underwear down at the same time and my now very hard cock popped up. She giggled at it as she waited for me to lift one foot and then the other. She looked up at me and smiled as she reached out and grabbed my dick.
“Nice!” She exclaimed and she kissed the tip lightly.
I groaned. “Careful. When it’s been a while, it’s like a grenade. It has a short fuse and may go off in your hand.”
She smiled at my bad Army humor and stood up. She pushed me back toward the bed. “You’ve got the bad shoulder. Just lie down and let Lily take care of you.”
I was more than willing to do that.
I lay back and scooted up toward the head of the bed so that I was completely on the mattress. Lily climbed up over me and held my dick. “I’m sorry, Jon, but I’m wet and excited and can’t wait any longer. No more foreplay, okay?”
I smiled. “No problem for me!”
She giggled and centered herself over my crotch. She took my dick and rubbed the head in her pussy, getting it wet and ready for penetration. She then settled slightly over it and started slowly lowering herself down. She was tight and I was going to have to work to contain my ‘excitement’. I took in her beauty as she worked me completely into her. She had a small waist, those wonderful alabaster breasts, and very well shaped hips. She was in better shape than when she was in high school. She had her head forward so that her hair dangled in front of her face as she concentrated on getting me wet and buried into her core.
She got settled completely over my lap and sighed. “Oh, fuck, Jon that feels wonderful.” She threw her hair back with a flick of her head and stared at me. She started moving her hips back and forth and grinding her clit on my pubic bone. I grabbed her hip with my good hand and started thrusting a little, helping her grind it out. She was already moaning. “Just like that. Oh, that’s good.”
I took my good right hand and put in on her pubic mound. I moved my thumb down onto her clit and helped her with her immediate stimulation problem. She groaned. She started thrusting harder and I suddenly didn’t need to cum, but just watched as she enjoyed herself and my stimulation of her clit. It felt wonderful to see her there on my dick, her nice tits bouncing, her nipples extended and desiring attention. Her entire body was pale and slightly freckled anywhere she got sun. God, I wanted her to stay there forever.
It was only a couple of minutes before she suddenly erupted into orgasm. She just groaned and doubled over, curving her body towards me as she jerked and moaned and trembled with her ‘la petite mort’ or ‘little death’ as the French idiom for an orgasm goes. She finally relaxed and fell forward onto my chest.
“Oh, Jon, I really needed that.”
I smiled and thrust my hips a little. “I could tell.”
She lifted her head and grinned at me. “You ready now soldier boy?”
She then started moving her hips back and forth and rising up and down a little. She leaned over and whispered to me to entice me to orgasm quickly. “I love the feel of your big, hard dick in my nice, tight pussy. I want to cum again, but I really want to feel you cum in me. Please fuck me and fill me full of cum.”
Of course, that did it. I suddenly tensed, shoved my hips up to bury my dick in her as much as possible, and groaned. I held myself there, making little jerks against her as I filled her with 9 years of desire and 15 months worth of sexual frustration, all contained in a large load of cum.
When I finally fell back to the bed, she sat there on top of me. “I think you liked that.”
I looked up at her, still trying to catch my breath. “Whatever gave you that idea?”
“It was that look of pure unadulterated bliss and focus when you came. You had your eyes closed, concentrating on your orgasm, your mouth slightly open, with your entire body tensed up. You looked to be enjoying yourself so much at that moment.”
“Mmmm. Thanks. I was.”
She rolled off me and made her way to the bathroom naked, still staggering a little from the alcohol. I watched her beautiful form as she was backlit by the bathroom light. She cleaned up and then climbed back into bed with me. “Can I stay here tonight?”
I looked at her and whispered. “And the next, and the next, and the next.”
She suddenly looked serious. “We’ll see.”
It appeared to be a mistake to say that, but I didn’t try to cover it up. The moment was past and there was nothing I could do about it. I think we were both asleep in 10 minutes.
Chapter 9. What did you say?
18 October 2009
I woke the next morning at 7:30 and Lily was still there. I watched her face as she slept. It was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen. There was something slumbering inside of me from when I knew her in high school that she had awakened. I wanted her now and forever and it scared me. We had only just met again and I was thinking about things I hadn’t considered before. I had never felt this way before and my training required me to be circumspect and try to figure out why. It couldn’t be just the sex. I had had longer physical relationships with other women and they didn’t give me this feeling. There was just something about Lily. Were we meant to be together? Was it fate? Was it my desire to help out someone I had cared about? I had said that she wasn’t a ‘project’, but was that true? My ruminations were interrupted by her waking and slowly opening her eyes to look at me. I was in for a surprise.
She stared at me for a second and then muttered words that you don’t want to come out of the mouth of your previous night’s lover. “Oh, shit!”
I continued to stare at her. “What?”
She sat up and covered her breasts with her arm. “Damn it!” She hesitated for a second and said it again. “Damn it!” She stood and grabbed her clothes and started getting dressed. “This was a mistake. I should never have come here.”
I sat up, too. “What are you talking about? Last night was wonderful.”
She stopped getting dressed, standing there now in her bra and panties. “Look, we both just needed to get laid last night. I drank a little too much and got carried away. It was fun, but it was just sex – it was just a friends-with-benefits booty call. Let’s not get carried away with this.” She started putting on her jeans.
I was flabbergasted that she would act like this. “Lily, just stop for a second.” She continued to get dressed. I got out of the bed and moved toward her.
She looked at my nude form. “Stop! We made a mistake last night and we both just need to admit it and move on. We cannot be together.”
I stood there, feeling more naked than ever. “You can’t really believe that.”
She was pulling her shirt over her head. “I do. Absolutely, I do.” She finished dressing and headed toward the door.
“Lily, wait.” I reached out for her arm, but she pulled it back forcefully and glared at me. I pulled my hand back, feeling like she was going to bite it.
Lily was out of my room and to the front door by the time I had my robe over my shoulders and closed enough not to run naked through the house. “Lily! Wait!”
She didn’t even turn around, just kept on marching out to her car. She got in and drove away.
I turned around, completely confused, to see my mother standing in the kitchen doorway with a cup of coffee in her hand.
She looked at me and frowned. “Interesting.”
“Was that a lover’s quarrel?”
I fidgeted. “I don’t know what that was. She came over last night and spent the night. She was a little drunk, but I didn’t think she would wake up and look at me like I was a leper.”
“What did she say?”
I went over it with my mom and tried to recapture Lily’s words.
My mother watched me carefully. “I think you are rocking her boat, upsetting her life. She thought she had everything worked out and you are just making it difficult for her to stay on path. At least that’s my initial thought… but I could be wrong. She could just be a psycho bitch.” She gave me her mother’s knowing grin at her attempt to be funny and turned and went back into the kitchen.
I watched her leave and retreated to my room to get dressed. Fuck! One of the most amazing women I had ever met and had always wanted had finally had sex with me! And then she acted like I had the plague and bolted from the room and my house. What the fuck? I had to find out more about what was going on in her head.
I quickly showered, shaved, and dressed for my trip to her house or café, wherever she was. I called her cell phone and it went to voice mail. I called her home and got no answer. I finally called the café and found out that she was there.
I drove to the café fast. When I walked in, I was waylaid by Cindy.
“Whoa!” She pulled me over to the side of the entrance. “What the hell happened between you two? She’s very upset right now.”
“I wish I knew. She came over and threw herself at me last night while she was drunk and then this morning acted like I was a fate worse than death.”
Cindy stared at me. “She threw herself at you? This morning? She spent the night and you two had sex?”
I looked at her sheepishly, realizing that I had let that out of the bag. “Uh… yeah.”
“That’s interesting. Had she been drinking?”
I started at Cindy. “Yes, she had been.”
Cindy shook her head. “Look, Lily doesn’t drink much. When she does, all social graces and her ability to reason seem to disappear. Hell, I don’t think she knows anything that she’s doing. I’ve seen her tell people exactly what she thinks about them when it’s absolutely the most awful thing you could ever say. Something happens to her and she forgets all about societal norms. She just acts on impulse and seems to not know what she’s doing. Alcohol is bad for her.”
I stared at Cindy. “Societal norms?”
She smiled a little. “Sorry, former psychology major.”
“So she just does whatever she wants, mores and morals be damned?”
“That’s what I’ve always seen. It’s kind of strange because she doesn’t have to look drunk, but I think if you measured her BAT it would be well over the limit. It takes a while for her to get that way.” She looked over her shoulder. “You sure you want to have this out in her place of business?”
I looked around. “You’re probably right. What time is she supposed to be leaving today?”
“10pm. She’ll be leaving then and picking up Lauren at her mother’s.”
“Okay, thanks.” I started to turn and go and so did Cindy. I turned back and grabbed her arm. “Cindy.” She turned back toward me. “Thank you. You are a good person and a good friend to her.”
She smiled. “You bet your ass!”
I left and went home to wait out the day. I did call and leave a voice mail on her home answering machine and cell phone. I watched a little college football and then, as it got close to 10pm, I headed over to her house.
I arrived at her house at 9:45 and parked down the street. I waited, very impatiently, as the clock ground around to 10:20. That was when she finally pulled into her driveway. I waited until they got out of the car and went to the front door before I started my car and pulled up in front. By then, Lily and Lauren were inside. I got out and walked to the door. I rang the doorbell, ready for almost anything.
The door opened slowly and I saw the very sad face of a beautiful woman. Lily looked devastated. “Hello, Jon.” She opened the door all the way.
“Hi, Lily. May I come in?”
She stood back to the side and waved with her hand, indicating that I could enter. I walked in and went straight to the couch and sat down.
“Lily, we need to talk.”
She had walked over and sat on the other end of the couch. “I know.” She hung her head.
“Tell me what’s going on. Tell me why the fact that we had sex was such a terrible thing.”
She looked over her shoulder. “Just a moment.” She stood and went into the back of the house. Oh! I had forgotten about Lauren. She came back a few minutes later with Lauren, who was dressed in a Pooh t-shirt, wearing large bunny slippers.
“Lauren, say good night to Mr. Kenton.”
Lauren looked at me with a little smile and her blue eyes smiled as well. “Good night, Mr. Kenton.”
Lily kissed her on the head and stroked her hair. “Go get in bed and I’ll come back in a moment to say good night.”
“Okay, mommy.” Lauren turned to go, but suddenly pivoted and ran over to me. She threw herself into me for a big hug, causing just a little flinch of pain in my bad shoulder. “Thank you, Mr. Kenton.”
After we finished the hug she leaned back and I looked into those amazing Johnson blue eyes. “For what, honey?”
“For saving my mommy.” She smiled and then ran back to her bedroom, leaving Lily and I there looking at each other.
“Be right back.” Lily left the room and went to attend to her daughter.
When left alone with my thoughts, I considered for the umpteenth time that day what I was going to say. I knew it would all change as soon as we started talking, but I wanted to be ready.
Lily came back into the room. “She’s down and will be asleep soon. We should be able to talk now.” She sat down on the other end of the couch, up against the arm, and turned toward me. She grabbed a pillow and held it up against her front like it was armor and pulled her legs up. She finally looked up at me. Her gaze seemed to be challenging me. She seemed to be looking at me with a “so what do you want” gaze.
I decided to launch into what I had planned to say. “Lily, I have wanted you since I first met you. You were and are the most beautiful woman in the world to me. I’m not saying I’m in love with you, but I want to know you, I want to find out who you are, I want to at least give us a chance to get to know each other before we decide we can’t be together. Let’s just go back to going slow and see what happens.”
Lily watched me closely. I could see the wheels turning in her head. Then a sad and morose look passed over her face. “Sorry, Jon. We can’t be together. My life is set as it is now. I have everything planned. I will own the café outright in 3 years and Lauren and I will be comfortable and set. I will not let anything get in the way of her having a good childhood and growing up right. Any kind of relationship I have will just get in the way and I’ve made my share of mistakes in that area. I have to concentrate on her, not on keeping a relationship up with a man, having to worry about his needs, how he interacts with my daughter, as well as everything else that comes with that. On top of that, I can’t put you between us and Buck’s family. We just cannot be together. And I would appreciate it if you would stop coming around and trying to worm your way into my life.”
When she finally stopped I was speechless. I couldn’t believe what I just heard. “So that’s it then. I’m supposed to just walk away.”
She looked down at her hands and I noticed that she was wringing them, and then up at me. “Do whatever you want. I don’t care.”
“You can’t be serious. Lily…” I started to go on.
“Just respect my wishes and leave… please.”
I didn’t know what to say to that. A very uneasy silence followed where I stared at her and she looked at her hands. Finally, I stood up. “I think you are making a mistake. If not me, then at some point you will want… no, need, an adult relationship with a man. You are still a beautiful, living, breathing woman. You can’t just give up on life. I know that I won’t.” I moved toward the door. “I’ll see myself out, thank you.”
I moved to the door and turned to look at her. She looked so sad sitting there staring at her hands. I stared at her for about 15 seconds, daring her to look up at me, but she refused. Finally, I opened the door and stepped out. I closed it behind me, wondering why this damaged woman intrigued me so much. Why did I want this one? Fuck, life sucked right now.