It has rained for three days straight. Now, sitting on my front porch with a cup of hot tea, I feel about as mellow as I have since this rash of Michael flashbacks started last week. Rain has always soothed me, helped me think. I’ve been listening to the rain, and thinking about Michael. I finally gave myself permission to just let the memories wash over me, without the accompanying anxiety.
The day this all started, I drove around the parking lot of the mall for an hour. [Read part one here to catch up with how it began]. I couldn’t get Michael off my mind. For years after I stopped seeing him, I stumbled over Michael landmines on a regular basis. It’s that way any time someone is trying to get over a lost love, I know that. I’m not trying to say I’m anybody special. But dear God, I thought this was over.
Every night for a week, I’ve dreamed of Michael. When he was the center of my life, he was a regular dream subject, believe me. I fantasized during the day, when I should have been proofing copy. I had to become my own worst disciplinarian to get anything done. My best friend Mo had rolled her eyes and said, “Pheromones, Claire, that’s all it is. Once you’ve used up all the pheromones you’ll be fine.”
Mo was often right about relationship stuff. She was spot on about Mark, a guy I’d dated for almost a year. “He’s a Mama’s boy. Ditch him.” I’d hesitated — yes, I was one of those women, always afraid of hurting people’s feelings. A few months after Mo’s statement, I broke up with him. Not because Mo told me to, but because he stood me up — stood me up! We were in our thirties! We had tickets to the Moody Blues, one of my all-time favorite bands, tickets I had bought months before and we’d talked about it at length. He’d even bought a me a replacement CD for my “Days of Future Passed” which was wearing out after years of regular play.
He didn’t “forget,” ok? He tried that line on me (I went to the fucking concert alone. I wasn’t a complete patsy) and I started shouting. This was the next day. I hadn’t gotten home until after 2am so of course I wasn’t going to call. And there were no messages from him. I had told myself maybe he was in a wreck, he was kidnapped, anything except at his mother’s house eating dinner.
We never went out to dinner together because his Mama made his supper every night. For a long time, I didn’t care because I had stuff to do. I never liked guys who called all the time, who wanted me to devote every minute outside work to being with them. Like I said, we were in our thirties. But after a few months I wondered about the never going out to dinner thing. We’d had some nice lunches together, and a few times we’d gotten a bite after a movie (only on the weekends and always the last showing) but I never said anything much about the lack of time we spent going out. That doesn’t mean I never saw him. The truth is the main reason I was seeing him was because the sex was fantastic. Remember, I hadn’t met Michael yet.
Mark had a huge dick, if I can be indelicate. And he was a good kisser. Tall, thin, with full lips, long eyelashes and tender blue eyes. He whispered to me during our make out sessions. He told me how soft my skin was, how beautiful my breasts were, how he thought about me at work, couldn’t get enough of me. He whispered in my ear while he kissed my mouth with his full lips, nuzzled my neck, his hands gently squeezing my breasts and moving down to my waist and thighs. We spent an hour making out sometimes, on his oversized couch. We kissed and stroked and slowly moved into position on that couch. He also had good taste in music and there was always something moody playing when I went over (after 9pm, after dinner). Sometimes good saxophone, or blues, never too loud.
By the time I pulled my T-shirt over my head I would be wet and breathless. And I loved watching him undress. With Mark, everything was slow and deliberate. He took his time stripping off his shirt, unbuckling his belt — the sound of his belt whipping through the belt loops and flipping out could make me gasp. I knew what was coming. He lowered his jeans and stood over me, that big dick hard and throbbing. I would reach out and take it, my hand trembling, and sit up to guide it into my mouth. Often, I would suck him off right then if we’d been kissing and fondling long enough. I would look up at him as I swallowed his juice (and I always swallowed, it’s another huge turn on for me) and he would sink to his knees, never taking his narrowed eyes off me, moaning and gasping, his hips shuddering.
Then he would push me back and bend his mouth to my cunt, doing the same things he did with my mouth. His tongue would circle my opening slowly, tasting and testing to see what made me tremble and sigh. His hands never stopped moving either. His gripped my hips and brought my cunt closer to him as he licked and kissed and sucked. He moaned while he worked me, and I would drape my legs over his shoulders, answering his moans with my own.
When he felt my hips start to move, he would slide his hands up to my breasts, rubbing his strong fingers over my nipples. He would continue to stimulate my clitoris with his hand, and suck my breasts. Jesus, when my cunt was throbbing and wet, sucking my breasts was almost enough to make me come. If I reached for him and found he was hard again (which he often was) I would grab his narrow hips and bring my own hips up against him, guiding his dick back into me.
When he plunged inside, I would cry out, throwing my head back, feeling him fill me up, push against my cunt. I drove myself against him even as he drove himself into me, his head still bent, sucking my tits. He knew that was when I would come hardest. He sucked hard and I bucked hard. I came on that huge dick, on that huge couch, several times a week for almost a year.
I didn’t push him about his standing “dinner with Mama” until the concert. Dinner with Mama meant any time before 9pm he wasn’t available. Ever. After almost a year it was tiresome. After he didn’t show up to leave for the concert, just didn’t address it at all, let me think we were going out like a normal couple, that did it for me. I loved fucking him, but I thought there should be more to a relationship. That’s what I thought then.
Michael stayed on my mind during the week after the mall incident. Yeah, I was thinking of it as an “incident.” I dreamed about him almost every night, flashes of our time together shattered my concentration. I was thankful I had a regular job in an office. I didn’t have to deal with clients, though dealing with salespeople who sold the ads was almost as bad. Still, the stress level was almost nothing compared to working for myself in a declining market. And I found I really liked having office friends, people I could have conversations with during the week. Conversations that usually meant nothing, that were totally inconsequential — TV, movies, books, whatever cultural events were taking place in town that weekend. After Michael, I had fallen so far down a rabbit hole that I couldn’t think straight about anything. Taking a job that mainly just required me to show up was the healthiest thing I’d done for myself in three years.
One day, a few weeks after the “Michael incident,” I called Mo, still a good friend, though of course we saw less of each other. She had married and was working on baby number two.
“So it was just that aftershave? You didn’t actually see him?” Mo asked, crunching on something. She had always had a terrible habit of eating while she talked on the phone. It made me nuts sometimes.
“Mo, can you please stop eating? I can barely make out what you’re saying.”
“Oh yeah, sure, I’ve been chopping veggies for dinner…”
“Mo, I won’t keep you, you’re busy, that’s fine. We can talk another time.” I sighed, wondering why I was bothering a perfectly healthy person with my decade old obsession.
“Are you kidding? This is the first adult conversation I’ve had all week. Claire, I love my husband, you know I do, I love my son, and I’m totally in love with the baby on the way…” her pause told me I needed to let her control the timing. Then she blurted, “But I never get any good old sex talk anymore! You are a lifesaver! You’re like the only woman I know over 35 who still admits she has a clitoris she wants stimulated. Well, I mean it’s not like I ever talked like this with anyone else, ever, anyway, but Jesus I am so happy to have somebody I can talk pure old animal lust with. So, are you going to call him?”
I was laughing, and the weight of remembering Michael didn’t seem so heavy anymore.
“I don’t think so. Even if he still has the same number…”
“Michael has the same number, Claire. I called him to do some work on the house last year. He didn’t remember me and I didn’t remind him. So, call him.”
“Yeah, I don’t know if that’s such a good idea. It’s been almost ten years.”
“No way! Ten years? Goddamn, what happened to all that time?” Mo laughed.
“Yeah, so, I don’t know,” I said softly.
“Are you seriously afraid the same thing might happen, Claire?” Mo asked. She was good at zeroing in on whatever was needling me.
“Well, yeah, I mean, there was never any kind of resolution, you know? I just told him to stop calling and I stopped answering his calls. I couldn’t do it any other way.”
What I’d never told Mo, or anyone else, was that Michael hadn’t just called, he’d shown up at my door, more than once. He came around off and on for almost two years. So I hadn’t heard from Michael in about eight years, not ten. And that was after I changed my phone number and moved. Mo never knew why I moved to a house out in the country. People change their number, move, and it isn’t a big deal so I just never told anyone it was the only way I felt I could be sure I wouldn’t break my resolve about Michael.
Oh, I’d tried to break it off with Michael for almost a year before I finally did. Now, Mo wanted to know if I had reservations about seeing him again? Of course I did.
“Nah, I shouldn’t call,” I said lightly. “Besides, he probably has some new girlfriend or maybe he’s married.”
“Well, I didn’t talk to him much but Hubby did and he’s not married. I don’t know about a girlfriend, but that wouldn’t have stopped you before.” That stung just a little, even coming from Mo. I’d had my share of short term relationships, in my twenties, with “unavailable” guys, let’s say. But she was right. If Michael had a girlfriend and he ignored that, I probably would, too.
“So maybe that’s enough reason not to call,” I said.
“Call him, Claire, or you won’t sleep the rest of the year. You’re all grown up now. He’s probably still good for hot sex. Do that, and think of me while you’re doing it. I haven’t had hot sex in years and I’m beginning to forget what it is. Please, please go have some hot sex for me.”
Mo had a great sense of humor and was good at hauling me outside of myself. So maybe she was right. Just because this guy had turned me inside out once didn’t mean it had to happen again. Right?
I finally gave in and called Michael the next day. I got his voicemail (oh thank you, God) so I left a chirpy message about catching up sometime and left my number. Then of course I sat around all weekend and chewed my nails waiting for the phone to ring.
Michael had never stood me up or failed to call, he’d done none of the usual stupid boyfriend shit to make me push him out of my life. No, Michael simply hadn’t loved me back when I realized I was falling in love with him. It was that simple and it took me the entire second year of our relationship to realize that was what was going on. That’s how stupid, or addicted, or whatever I was, to him.
One day back then, he called me at work (not something he did very often, he was as busy at work during the day as I was) and said he wanted me to come over that night, right after work, as he had something he wanted to try. Even though he rarely called during the day, invariably when he did it was phone sex of some kind.
“Ok, what are we going to try?” I asked, my hands leaving the keyboard to cup my breasts.
“Not on the phone.” And he was gone.
I called Michael as soon as I locked up, and he answered right away.
“Come over now,” he said without preamble.
“Michael, can you just tell me…”
“Now.” He hung up.
I didn’t go home and shower and change, the way I normally did, I just drove straight to Michael’s. His house was way out in the country, a good ten miles from town, so I was anxious when I got there.
“Hey,” he said when he opened the door. He smiled and looked me over in his almost predatory way. The way he held my gaze after always made me weak. It made me weak now. Jesus, what was going on?
He moved into his sparsely furnished living room and sat on the couch, his arm extended toward me.
“Ok, Michael, what’s the big mystery?” I sat and breathed in his scent. I’d never been with anyone wearing what I would once have considered “old man cologne” but on Michael, it worked. Fuck, everything on Michael worked.
“I just needed to see you.” He leaned over and folded me into his arms, his strong, hard muscled arms. I tilted my head back as he kissed me, hard. His hands moved from my neck to my breasts to my waist and he’d managed to get my dress up around my hips before I could take a breath. He was moving much faster than normal, as if he was in a hurry.
“Whoa,” I said gently, “slow down.”
Michael looked up and said sheepishly, “Sorry, Claire, I just started thinking about you today and I’ve had a fucking hard-on since noon.” He took my hand and guided it to the front of his jeans, where I felt his dick straining against the denim. I smiled and stood up, holding his hand. I led him into his bedroom and pushed him back on the bed.
He slid his jeans off before he lay back, and put his arm behind his head when I indicated that he should just lie there. He loved blowjobs, but he never asked for it, and never forgot about me when I decided to go down on him.
I slipped off my panties and dropped them on the floor. I stood in front of him and massaged my breasts through the soft material of my summer cotton dress. I put one foot, in a strappy summer dress sandal, on the bed next to his hip so he could look up my dress. I continued to stroke my breasts, then moved one hand under my dress, stroking my naked thigh and moving up to my cunt. He leaned his head as he followed my hand, and he slowly began to stroke his dick while I stroked my clitoris and thighs. I watched him as his hand moved faster, and he watched me as I moved my hand in short, quick bursts.
“Goddamn, Claire,” he said hoarsely, then he sat up and reached for me. Roughly flipping me down on the bed he plunged into me as I brought my legs up around his back. I clung to him as we bucked together, until the fast, hard waves brought the lightening into my belly. I shouted, raking my nails down his back, biting his shoulder as he crushed himself against me.
Lying back on the bed, still breathing heavily moments later, Michael said, “You make me crazy. I think about fucking you all the time. I can’t get anything done. Everything I do reminds me of something about you. Today I saw a woman in the front office, someone renting an office, and she had on a red dress like the one you wear sometimes. I fucked you in that dress out in the parking lot last month.”
“I remember,” I said, a quiet unease beginning in my stomach.
“I went into the office and when she turned around, it wasn’t you. I had to pick up some paperwork so I had a reason to be there, but anyway I started talking to her. You know how when you first start talking to someone and you really feel a good vibe? She’s opening a business accounting office. I got her card and I think I’m going to hire her so I can let someone else do all that paperwork and tax stuff.”
Michael continued to talk, but the growing dread in my stomach grew heavier. All I could hear was that he was interested in someone else. I let him talk on about how working with this woman was going to free up his time to look for more construction work, how convenient she was right here in the office complex, and I turned into stone on his bed. I said nothing, just nodded and said, “yeah, good idea.” While he talked. Eventually Michael fell asleep. I went home. And I didn’t sleep well for years.
The unease in my stomach turned into bricks that began building a wall. One day I went up to the office to pay my rent. Of course I wanted to walk by the new accountant’s office. And there she was, beautiful shiny red hair, big white teeth smile, bouncy breasts hugged by a blue sweater dress not many women have the body to wear. She did. I nodded and smiled as I walked by and she came out the door as I was passing.
“Hi!” she said brightly, holding out her hand. I shook it and learned her name was Danni, and she wanted to give me a business card, which she held out in her other hand. We talked a bit and she offered to let me design the handouts for her next conference.
Then she offered to buy me a drink after work. How could I let this golden opportunity pass me by? Of course I said I’d see her at Breakout’s, the handy little bar right there in the office complex.
We were into our second beer (I’m not a big drinker. Beer pretty much does everything I need) when she asked if I knew Michael. Well, the way she put it was, “I met this absolute hunk the first day I opened my office. Is that karma or what? He came into my office while I was setting up my filing cabinets and wow, just hit me like a ton of bricks! Has that ever happened to you? Do you know who I mean? His name’s Michael, he’s in construction or something. I mean, he owns the business, he’s not just a carpenter, but dear God what a hunk. I’ve been single for a while and I’ve dated some but this guy…” and on and on she rambled. I nodded and said I’d seen him around and let her gush about him. I finished my beer and wished her good luck and left.
So, Michael never said anything to her about being in a relationship, certainly never mentioned me, so what should I have thought?
As if he could read my thoughts, Michael called that night. He wanted to come over so when he got there I decided to dive right in.
“So Michael, are you going to be seeing this red-haired accountant? She told me all about you gliding into her office… her office, which you didn’t mention, and what a hunk you are and…”
“She said I was a hunk?”
I looked at him, my mouth open. Finally I said slowly, “Have you registered that I’m upset? What are we, Michael? We’ve been seeing each other for years and we never go to movies, never go out with other couples. I’ve asked you to go to concerts with me, hiking with me, out with friends, and you never have time. You have interests, you do things, but you never seem interested in doing them with me. What am I to you? I want to hear it out loud.” I was crying by then and Michael honestly seemed puzzled.
“I don’t know what we are, Claire. I know I tend to compartmentalize, I guess I shouldn’t have told you about Danni, but I didn’t think. I don’t know what you want.”
I was amazed. He didn’t know what I wanted? How fucking dense was he?
“I want to be more than your fuck buddy, Michael. And if I must ask for that, it obviously isn’t going to happen. So, let’s just get this over with, ok? Go fuck Danni and whoever else you want, and probably are fucking anyway, and just leave me alone. I don’t like the way any of this makes me feel, so just go. Really, fucking go.” I held the door open and looked away. I couldn’t look at him because my head was spinning. Oh, God, please, make him understand, make him say the right words. Please don’t leave.
Over the next two years, he would show up at my door and enter my house, and my cunt. I cried after he left, every time, but I didn’t ask him to stop. I found I couldn’t concentrate on my work properly. It was even worse than when I’d been freely bouncing from truck cab to office desk to the comfortable bed in his house.
The heaviness in my heart never let up. I had trouble breathing. Every time he came over, I felt that freedom, that wild abandon while he was stroking me, or inside me, but the sadness descended as soon as he left. We never talked about his other women, of whom I assumed there were many. We talked about his latest construction job, or books, and when I decided to take a corporate job he said it was a good move. We talked about health benefits, paid vacation, leaving work at work every night. We talked about everything except the reason I threw him out of my house. And every time he left I cried. Finally, I changed my number and moved away.
Now, eight years later, I sensed his ghost in the men’s department of a store and that ghost had been following me around for weeks. Mo was right, maybe seeing Michael again would settle whatever hadn’t settled even all these years later.
“Claire! It’s really you after all this time. Where the hell did you go? Are you ok? Let’s get a drink after work.”
Michael’s message was bright, almost as chirpy as the one I’d left him. Weren’t we a pair, Mo would say. Hands shaking, I called him back.
“Claire? Hey,” Michael answered. Good old caller ID.
“Michael. Hey. Well.” I stopped, unsure what to say now that I’d opened the door.
“Look, why don’t we save all this for tomorrow after work? It’s been a long time, we have a lot of catching up to do. Been a long week. I’m tired, you probably are too. It’s just so good to finally hear from you. Please say you’ll meet me tomorrow.”
We agreed on a time and place and I wondered how the hell I was going to get any work done in the time I had to exist before I saw Michael again.
I got to Breakout’s a few minutes early, which is a lifelong habit. I’m always the first one anywhere. I sat in a booth in the wood paneled bar, the overhead lighting warm and mellow. I watched the door and ordered a beer. He walked in as I was taking the first cold swallow. I raised my hand as he peered around the room. His sudden smile lifted any apprehension from my heart.
We hugged, long and deep. God, he felt so good. Old Spice clung to his neck and hair. My stomach flipped and I felt the first tremors in my thighs. Oh, God help me.
“You look good, Claire. The years have been kind.” Michael held up his glass in a toast.
“Jesus it’s been what, eight years? Not that long, surely.” I nodded with my own glass and drank. He smiled and we looked at each other for a long moment.
“Ok, I’m going to say it,” Michael said, after he finished his beer and held up his glass to the waitress for a refill. “You moved away, Claire. What did I do? Really? I remember you were upset over the accountant, which I didn’t get, but you stopped taking my calls. When I went to see you we were the same.” Michael faltered, and waited as the waitress brought fresh beers. I watched her leave, my cheeks flaming. What was I going to say?
“When I’d see you, everything was the same, I thought. Then you just weren’t there anymore. I knew where you worked, but even I’m not so dense I couldn’t figure out you wanted me to stay away. I always hoped you’d call. Now, even after all this time…” Michael smiled and reached for my hand. I looked at him, his eyes sparkling in the dim light. Really, after all this time he wasn’t angry?
“Michael, I couldn’t keep seeing you. It tore me up. I realized I didn’t want to share you. I never meant to fall in love, but when I realized I was there by myself…” Michael let go of my hand and leaned forward.
“Alone? I loved you, Claire. How could you not know that? Is that what all that was about?”
“Oh, let’s just let that go for now, ok? Tell me about now. Tell me what you’re doing now.” I couldn’t trust myself to talk about old pain, old misunderstandings. Besides, what did it matter?
We talked over another couple of beers and the hard anxious knot in my stomach gradually dissipated. We laughed and Michael told me again how beautiful I looked. Eventually, our conversation slowed down and we sat across from each other staring, remembering.
“Claire,” Michael said softly and stood, his hand reaching for mine. I stood, gathered my purse and followed him out into the evening.
He put his arm, still as hard and muscular as I remembered, around my waist, drawing me close. We didn’t speak, just walked slowly to his truck. When he opened my door, he turned me toward him and kissed me.
It was just as I remembered. Old Spice and a gentle reminder of the beer, the scent of soap and sweat. The smell of his masculinity. My knees were giving out as he lifted me onto the seat. His kisses were becoming more intense, his hands moving feverishly over my hips, my breasts. I pulled him closer, began fumbling with his buckle. Goddamn, I thought, just fuck me.
He pushed me farther into the cab and finished yanking his jeans away from his dick, as hard as I’d ever felt it. He pushed me down on the seat and drove himself into me. We both cried out and I wrapped my legs around his hips, bucking against him as he plunged hard and fast. He leaned into me, his mouth on my neck, his moans deep and desperate. I kept my legs tight and pushed against him furiously. Suddenly he groaned and pulled me hard against him. At the same time, the quickening in my belly and thighs shot through to my cunt, deep and sharp. I cried out, burying my teeth into his shoulder.
We gasped and held each other for several minutes. Finally, Michael raised his head and looked at me.
“Come home with me. Please.”
We drove to his house in silence. My cunt throbbed and I flashed on the times I’d spent with him. I saw his chest, the muscles in his arms, his legs, saw his face when he looked up at me when he licked my cunt. I heard his voice, hoarse with desire, felt his hands gripping my breasts, felt his mouth suck my nipples. Soon, I was squirming in my seat. When he turned into his drive I sighed with relief.
Inside, Michael guided me to his bedroom, to his king-sized bed. He lit a few candles while I freshened up in the bathroom.
I looked in the mirror and gave myself a good talking to.
“It’s just sex. Hormones, pheromones, whatever. Doesn’t have to mean anything. Except this is the most alive I’ve felt in… since I stopped seeing him. Since I changed my number and moved away. Dear God.” I hung my head and laughed.
When I walked into his bedroom, Michael was choosing music. He held up a Mark Knoffler CD and raised his brows. Wow. He even remembered my favorite music.
Michael undressed me slowly, while Knoffler guitar riffs played in the background. He drew my dress over my head, and ran his hands over me, kissing my neck, my breasts, my ribs, my stomach. He stopped and held my face in his hands.
“Claire, my Claire,” he said softly. I closed my eyes and let the feeling of abandon wash over me. The years melted away.
I unbuttoned his shirt, kissing his chest, his ribs, his stomach, still hard and muscular. I drew his belt out of its loops, feeling excitement at the sound. I eased his jeans over his hips. Michael didn’t wear underwear. His dick sprang out, hard and ready. Ah, it felt so good in my hands. Throbbing veins, velvety head, as if I’d never seen or felt another dick in my life. As if this was the only cock that mattered. I knelt, almost reverent. I took the head into my mouth slowly, teasing with my tongue. I could feel waves coming off him like summer heat off tarmac. Oh God.
I took him deeper in my mouth, winding my tongue around his shaft. He felt so good, so hard. I gently massaged his balls while I moved up and down his cock. I heard him moaning, felt his hips beginning to sway. My cunt was dripping and my own hips were moving in tandem.
I couldn’t wait any longer. I stood and eased us both onto the bed. As he lay back, I straddled him. I needed to be in control this time. When I moved myself over his dick, I shoved myself down onto it with as much force as I could. Sweet Jesus. I threw my head back and gasped. He grabbed my hips and thrust up again and again, as if he couldn’t wait for me either.
I rode him as hard as I could, my hair bouncing wildly. Suddenly, he gripped me firmly and flipped me onto my back, his dick never leaving my cunt. He leaned down and sucked my tits, still plunging furiously. I held his head against my breasts and moaned. The quickening in my belly, the lightening in my thighs created a thunderstorm in my cunt. I wasn’t just coming, I was exploding.
He flipped me onto my stomach even as I was crying out and drove himself into me again and again. He held my hips and I clawed the sheets, unable to control anything. Finally, he slammed into me and shouted, then stayed inside me, grinding his hips against my trembling ass.
Later, as we lay in the dark, I decided that what I’d been missing was right here, in this bed, with this man. It didn’t matter what happened later. All any of us ever had was today, right now, this minute. And right now, I was good. Everything was good.