My hotel room door opens as Shelley uses the key I’d passed her at the memorial. It had been a lovely service. I saw all the family I’d avoided for the last twelve years. They were a little surprised and less than pleased to see me, but no one was going to cause a scene, disturb the memorial. That was fine with me, I kept right on avoiding them and they returned the favor by ignoring me. That kept it a peaceful serene service that Ray would have hated, but it had been for the living, not for him, even though he was the star.
She walks into my room like she belongs there, and I pray that she feels she does. Just her presence transforms the anonymity of a featureless rent-a-space and makes it feel more like a home than anyplace I’ve been in years.
“I was afraid you wouldn’t come,” I say as she takes off the hat and veil. “You look lovely.”
“You look good yourself,” Shelley replies, removing her coat. “It was kind of a shock seeing you at the service… for a lot of people.”
“I imagine so, after all these years,” I reply, my heart in my throat. “Only two that seemed happy to see me were you and your sister. Is it true what Carla told me?”
“So that was the two of you whispering in the back of the chapel… well, whatever she told you probably was true, knowing her… what did my sister say?” she asks, kicking her shoes off her feet and under the chair.
“Ray died at the lawyer’s office?” God, she’s more beautiful than she was when I last saw her, years before. She wears those years so well, she’s filled out some, the lines of her body softened… it makes her more perfect than ever.
“Yeah, when he realized that, unlike him, I’d never been unfaithful and his accusations were totally groundless, his heart just gave out. I know the hypertension and lack of any exercise other than banging his secretary didn’t help,” she adds, grinning ruefully, “but there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind, who was there, that it was the sure and certain knowledge of the screwing he was about to undergo that did him in. I’d finally had enough and had him dead-to-rights and he knew it.” She giggles and for a moment I hear the little girl she once was. “Sorry, poor choice of words there. I suppose you think I’m a monster, laughing at my husband’s death.”
“No Shelley, you’re many things but ‘monster’ isn’t one of them.” I motion towards the bottle of whiskey with my head and raise my eyebrows in question.
“Oh God yes,” she exclaims, “Can you even imagine what it’s like trying to appear the properly grieving widow at your husband’s funeral when you were already in the process of an extremely hostile divorce… finally hurt the bastard in the only way you really can… especially when everyone there, except for Carla, thought he was the greatest thing since Jesus?”
“Hey, don’t forget me!”
“I’m sorry… Carla and you,” she says, her eyes reflecting her sincerity, “it was good to know at there were two people there on my side.” She takes the drink I pour her, shakes her head, her raven tresses falling back to her shoulders in a silent shower. It’s all I can do to remain standing. “Why did you think I wouldn’t come here this evening?” she asks.
“Shelley, it’s been twelve years. And you weren’t exactly happy with me when we last spoke. I believe your words were along the lines of ‘get the hell away from me’. I handed you the key on the sly just so you could pretend to have never gotten it” She’s turned and seems to be waiting for something.
She points to her zipper with a clearing of her throat. “I’d already made it perfectly clear I was serious about my marriage vows and you were pushing the issue.”
My hands are shaking as I hold the neck of the dress and pull the zipper down. “He was cheating on you even then… we both knew it.”
“That wouldn’t have made me doing the same any less wrong, Tim.” She shrugs and there’s an electric whisper as the dress slides off her shoulders to pool at her feet. She turns and my eyes are drawn to her smile even more than to her bra-clad breasts or the divine spot where her legs begin. “I’ve kept your number handy, waiting for the divorce to be final… I’ve kept all your numbers all these years. I kept expecting Ray to be the one to initiate proceedings.”
I stand there like a statue as she unsnaps her hose from the garter belt, her every move a self-assured ballet. “You’re kidding… you kept my number handy?”
As she reels off every phone number I’ve had in the last twelve years I realize that she’s here, she feels the same way I do, this is going to happen, it’s real, I’m not dreaming as I have so many times before.
“I had to stay away … from you, from everything. Please forgive me; it was the only way I could bear not being with you.
“Besides,” I continue, “it was no great loss to either the family or me. I never really belonged there anyway… Ray was ‘good son’, I was some sort of… accident… in more ways than one.”
“I know,” she says, “and you’re forgiven, if there’s any forgiving that needs to be done, which I don’t believe there is. If anyone should be sorry it’s me for letting that travesty of a marriage go on so long.
“And as for the family… well, I pretty much sealed my fate with them when I left the wake this evening. I held up the key to your room and told them all exactly where I was going.”
“God, you’ve got balls, woman!”
“I certainly hope not… might make the rest of the evening a bit too interesting.” She’s smiling at me and my whole world has focused down to that beautiful face. She’s sitting on the edge of the bed, rolling her hose down her legs and I can smell her, smell her perfume. I find myself mentally fumbling around in lines from Shakespeare about age and beauty. She says something and I have to ask her to repeat it.
“You seem to be a little behind. Are you going to get undressed or stand there and make me do it? Either could be a lot of fun…”
Where her undressing has been a graceful dance, performed by a trained artist of the medium, mine is a spastic explosion of nervous energy suddenly released, buttons popping and garments flung in every direction, seemingly all at once. But it gets the job done and I stand before her naked by the time she’s finished with the hose and belt.
She laughs, “Can I get a slow-motion replay of that, I’d like to actually see what happened?” and I laugh with her.
Falling to my knees, my face moves towards mankind’s oldest temple. The smell of her perfume is overwhelmed by the aroma of her desire. My lips touch her inner thigh and murmur, “How can you be so calm?”
“I’m not,” she replies and her trembling hand strokes my cheek. “I’m just a lot better at faking it… I’ve had a lot of practice in keeping a serene façade up every time Ray came home smelling of perfume and with another lame lie to cover his being out all night.
“I know it might sound funny, but I filed for divorce because I just couldn’t go on much longer. I wouldn’t betray my vows, so I had to dissolve them. I just never thought things would… go quite the way…”
And I’m standing, pulling her to her feet and my arms are around her, where they’ve longed to be, where they’re meant to be. “I’ve been aching for you to hold me,” she says as tears run down her cheeks and I kiss the hollow of her shoulder, her skin warm and soft beneath my lips. “When I saw you there, more than anything, I wanted you to come hold me through that damn service.” My cock is pressed hard against her, only her panties separating us. “If I wanted to get really depressed, Tim, I could think about how many years it’s been since a man held me like this.”
My hands drift above her skin like a fog. I’m afraid to fully touch her; afraid she’ll dissolve into another dream that will never come true. Her words slowly sink into my brain. “You don’t mean Ray didn’t…”
“Not for a long time… I was last year’s… hell, last decade’s model, and there was always a new, young, trophy girl on his arm, flavor of the month… hell, flavor of the week… I found it kind of a relief in a way… we share the same doctor and he’s a friend of mine, not Ray’s… heard about some of the fun little STDs Ray picked up. Can you believe my doctor actually suggested I keep condoms around in case my husband wanted to fuck me? Made me glad he’d stopped being interested in even touching me.”
“Ray was a goddamn idiot. You’ll never be last year’s model,” I murmur as I bury my face in her hair, breathing in the scent of it, jasmine, letting it surround me. “You’ve been my next year’s model since the first time I saw you.”
“Oh God, I know you’re full of it now. The first time you ever saw me was the night before Ray and I got married and I looked a fright.” I feel her nipples hard inside her brassiere, against my chest, each and every one of our breaths bringing small frissons of desire to her, tiny tremors running through her body that find echoes in mine.
“No you didn’t… you couldn’t. Oh, I won’t argue that with everything going on it was a madhouse, but you were radiant… divine. I seriously considered beating Ray senseless, sticking him in a packing crate and mailing him to Siberia… tell you he chickened out.”
“I wouldn’t have believed you then… but after fourteen wasted years with Ray, I wish you would have. But that’s stupid,” she says, a sob breaking her voice, “stupid to wish for what you can’t have, time you can’t reclaim.” Her breath is like a furnace against my shoulder. “So I’m through with wishing, through with thinking about the past. From now on, I’m only making wishes for the future… and wondering if you’ll renew a certain offer…”
Does she think I’ve forgotten what I said that night, twelve years earlier?
“Shelley, once you’re free of Ray I’ll marry you if you’ll have me. That offer?”
“That’s the one,” she whispers. Her hands slide down my back to begin working off her panties while I reach around and unhook her bra. “Tonight… as many more nights as you want… don’t depend on it, no conditions, no negotiations, I’m just curious… and more than a little hopeful,” she continues.
Her breasts are freed of their confinement and I caress them, feeling their weight and warmth, a woman’s breasts, lived in and real, Shelley’s breasts. “If you want me I’m yours, Shelley. I always have been. We can go find a judge in the morning.”
“It’ll cause a bit of a fuss in the family,” she says, grinning her deliciously cute, slightly lop-sided grin.
“Fuck ’em. I’ve been the black sheep nobody’s seen for the past twelve years, mostly because my brother was an asshole but had great taste in women… well, at least one of them. I’m used to it, it sounds like you’re getting used to it and actually courting it.”
“I am and I have to agree with you,” she says. “Ray was an asshole… but I think he had great taste in brothers.”
I sit her back down on the bed and kneel at her feet.
“Damn glad you think so. Makes this easier… let me do this right,” I say, “even though I don’t happen to have a ring handy. Shelley Fitzpatrick, will you marry me? Be my wife? Live with me and love me for as long as we both shall live?”
She draws me into the ‘vee’ of her legs and holds me against her, the warmth of her body, the warmth of her loins joining with my body’s heat as she puts her legs around me.
“In a heartbeat, Tim… but can that particular heartbeat wait until tomorrow morning?”
My face rests between her breasts, my breath mixing with the scent of her, perfume and whiskey and woman swirling around me, filling my nostrils, almost making me dizzy. My hands slide around her and down to her bottom.
“Mmm, Mrs. Fitzpatrick, you have a devastating ass.”
“I’m glad you like it, Mr. Fitzpatrick.”
“It feels wonderful but it’s certainly not the only thing I like about you,” I murmur as I trail kisses down her belly. “I can’t think of any part of you I’m not going to be very fond of… and I’m about to find the answer to a question that’s been on my mind for fourteen years.”
She leans back on the bed and gazes down her body at me as my mouth comes to rest a scant few inches away from my target.
“And what question is that?”
My answer is muffled by the fragrant tangle of her pubic hair.
“Can you possibly taste as good as I’ve imagined?”
The aroma that surrounds my face has already given me my answer as I close my ears to her comments about expectations and certain disappointment. I lift her thighs slightly placing them atop my shoulders, breathing her scent in deeply; rich and tangy and oh so sexy, her legs at my ears muffle her protests about long days trapped in clothing, her assurances that a shower wouldn’t take but a moment.
I peer up through hair, between her breasts, to her face. “Fourteen years is too long to wait a second more,” I say, reverently approaching her most sacred of sanctums. “Now Mrs. Fitzpatrick, please be quiet and enjoy.”
As my tongue finds her lips and runs up them to her clit I hear her sigh.
“You know, Tim… for the first time in a lot of years I like being called ‘Mrs. Fitzpatrick’.”
As I tenderly make love to her with my mouth and tongue, she says, “God Tim… there’s so much I want to talk to you about… but I don’t really want to distract you… from what you’re doing.”
I kiss her clit. “Ask away,” I reply, “as long as you’re able.”
“That remains to be seen.”
“Oh… I’ve seen… no doubt about it… what have you… been doing… for the last… twelve years?”
“Drifting mostly,” I say as I nibble her inner thigh, “taking contract work wherever I felt like alighting for awhile.” Her legs start to tighten around my head and I return my attention to her moist cleft. “Dreaming of you, always.”
“You… mean… there… was… no one?”
I’m finding it so hard to restrain myself, my cock is aching like a sore tooth and the cure lies at the tip of my tongue.
“I dated from time to time… long enough to know they didn’t begin to compare to the dream of you. I’d apologize to them and break things off. One of them, lovely woman named Penny, said she hoped I was able to be with you someday… she could tell I’d never be satisfied with anyone else.”
“Wow… don’t know… whether to be… complimented… or terrified… whichever… please don’t stop.”
“Does sound a little stalker-esque, a tad creepy, doesn’t it?” I return to my most happy of tasks.
“Ummm, right there… yeeessss… uh… stalker… a bit… but that’s… just fine… more than fine… husband-to-be… obsessed with me… no complaints here.”
I bury my face in her, my nose, my tongue, all in motion… hell, I’d wiggle my ears to tickle her thighs if I could.
“Confession… time… I… oh God… I… uh… I pictured… your face… imagined your body… when I was with… with… uh… what was his name… RAY… Ray… oh my…”
I pause, “For how long?” Then as her hands twist into my hair I go back to kissing the sweet treasure before my face.
She shudders, her orgasm coming with the words “About… twelve… years.”
I smile with her legs clamped around my head and intend to continue but I’m brought up short by her dragging me up from her lap.
“I… have other… plans… for that mouth.”
She releases me long enough to pull herself up on the bed, then with the smile of a Madonna, crooks her finger at me.
“Come here Tim, time to see if you’re as cocky as I think you are.”
“Bad pun, beloved.”
“Is there any other kind,” she replies and we enjoy the simple pleasure of shared laughter, while I crawl up and over her.
“Brought these just in case,” I say as I reach for a condom from the bedside drawer. “Hope you don’t mind the presumption.”
She’s still for a moment, then her thoughtful face blossoms into a smile, her brown eyes twinkling, deep and mysterious. “How do you feel about children?”
“Love ’em, want ’em.”
“Me too,” she whispers, gently batting the condom from my hand, legs opening in invitation. My hand glides down to find her swollen, wet and warm… ready… waiting. My lightest touch brings shivers to her as I compose myself and slide in. She sighs as her whole body welcomes me gladly. Our tears of joy mingle on her face as I’m finally exactly where I’m supposed to be… home.