Stilletos, Brie, and a Bottle of Zinfandel
It was just past 3 pm when the phone call came from the front lobby. A visitor asking for me. Funny, I don't have anything on my schedule. "Could you please find out who it is and the nature of the visit?" I responded with a briskness that made my displeasure with the interuption quite evident. "It's a surprise" Edith responded gleefully. It could be the Grim Reaper and she would try to make it exciting. Lonely for someone to talk to, and totally wrapped up in others' lives because her's was so pathetic, Edith's specialty was killing people with kindness and diving into their minds.
Begrudgenly I responded I'd be right out - in my own good time I thought to myself. It was Friday afternoon, and I had to finalize the mockup of the new ad before I could call it quits. I wanted to get out of there early, get my workout in, and then spend time with the girls while my husband was out of town. Unfortunately Ward had little appreciation for our adventerous escapes and afforded me little freedom to spend any time with them. His jealousy was unfounded but unbeknownst to me was beginning to push me away.
"The girls"...Joycee and Liz. The three of us together redefined the meaning of girls night out. When you first meet Joycee you can't help but be totally turned off. Brutally honest and overly aggressive, and oozing in self-preservation, somehow she can make you feel unworthy of being in her presence. At first I thought it was her looks...jet black hair, short and sassy as she says, emerald green eyes that sparkle brilliantly with the even the dimmest speck of light, and a body that would put a supermodel to shame. But many a man has convinced me that it is her looks that keep you there...and eventually you learn its all a facad. That she truly is a loving, caring, selfless individual - who does a really great job of hiding that from people she doesn't know well. Some people call it a game of hers, but I think it all stems from her abusive Marine husband, Nigel, and his fear of closeness. Some people call her mysterious. I just call her f'd up in the head! But I love her. She's been there for me, through thick and thin, and things so traumatic that we have never discussed them and probably never will.
Liz (or Lezzie as I call her) is the total opposite. As far as her looks, some people would call her frumpy. But those who know her realize its more 'comfy' then 'frumpy.' She makes an instant connection with everyone. Her body emits an aura that makes everyone want to be near. No matter who you are, after 5 minutes she is your best friend, and you feel like you've known her for years...which I have. Forty to be exact. Forty years of good times and bad, horrific fights and intensely beautiful moments. Eight inches shorter (and wider) then me, we look awkward when we are walking together. Add to that my 5 inches of stilleto heels on girls night, and she's talking to my hemline. But I couldn't imagine life without Lezzie. Or Joycee for that matter. The three of us together just set the night on fire; only to wake up the next day in our pathetic suburbia lives.
Eventually my mind returns to the situation at hand. Wait...that had to be it. Howard (or 'Ward' as I called him) really hadn't gone out of town. For once he is finally doing something spontaneous. Realizing what a historical moment this is, I rush to touch up my chantilly rose lipgloss, add a little sparkle shadow to my eyelidss, and brush out my hair to his favorite style. Fortunately I was dressed to kill that day in my short black satin suit that fit just tight enough to emphasize the curvature of my body, coupled with my red lace cami over the push up that made the twins salute to the heavens. I was wearing stilletos, though. Ward never could get past my stories of a past love who creamed at the site of a pair of stilletos. I got rid of most of them because it wasn't worth listening to him belittle me and my past. All but one pair, the black leather ones with the crosstrap over the toes, knotted in the middle. Even when I'm old and gray and sitting in a wheelchair, they will hold that first spot on the shoe rack in the closet. Meanwhile, when I knew I was having a girls night...out came the shoes, along with the beaded thigh highs and the red nailpolish. Sure, no one was going to ever truly appreciate the outfit, but they just made me feel more like a woman. Oh well, he'll get over it. Damn, how often have I said to myself I need to keep an extra pair of shoes in the office!
Primped and primed I head down the hallway with the excitement of a 6 year old on Christmas eager for the spontaneity that I've craved for so long from Ward. Smiling ear to ear, I push open the lobby doors...
Chapter 1, pt 2
Before I could take my first step into the lobby, I felt a familiar tug on my arm. The boss tracked me down in one of his senseless panics. Donald was a demanding individual known for never accepting no for an answer. If you didn't have that "I'll find a way" attitude, you did not last on his team. In the three short years I've worked for him, 15 people have walked, or more appropriately been pushed, out the door. Intimidating in stature and voice, he was impossible to ignore. Stopped dead in my tracks, I knew Ward would have to wait a few minutes longer for our lobby redevous. It would be futile to try to explain the situation to Donald, so I just did a 180 and headed back to my office.
In this particular instance the interception was justified. Our main client was in a tizzy over the latest sales blunder. My role as Director of Commercialization and Marketing (aka, professional bs artist) was key to calming the client down. After 20 minutes of tap dancing and stroking, I won another heart over. The client was happy and demanded to only work with me in the future. This wasn't the first time a customer made such a request, and so long as I worked for the King of Zing, it probably wouldn't be the last. Over the course of my career, I developed great skills in the areas of relationship and confidence building. It was too bad those same skills had not totally manifested themselves in my personal life as well.
I barely stuck around to hear the click of Donalds phone. I knew I had a good 5 minutes before my anal retentive authority figure would get up from his desk. Every phone call was the same. Never interupt him for the first 5 minutes post completion. That was his time to pull out his little black book and journalize his interpretation of what had just occurred. He once chased the CEO of the company out of his office because she dared to enter during the 5 minute freeze. Rumor has it that she cut back his bonus that year because of his blatent disrespect.
Our teleconference had been intense at times, so I felt a bit frazzled. A quick stop in the restroom to freshen up wouldn't hurt. It was empty so I was able to dump out my purse where I kept all my "emergency toiletries" for such an ocassion. Grabbing a gold sparkle hair clip that had been sitting in the bottom of my purse, I gathered up my hair in a playful twist on top of my head to keep it off my face. As I took a deep breath and stretched my neck and shoulders to ease the tension, sprigs of gold highlights began to work their way loose from the clip, laying to rest on my shoulders, framing my face. Briefly I thought about keeping my hair like that as it gave me a more sensual look for the evening. Not knowing what Ward had planned, though, I chose instead to keep my original conservative yet sexy look of loose hair.
Anticipating, or hoping for, a special night ahead, I sprayed some of Ward's favorite parfum on my neck, behind my ear lobes, and between my breasts. I also dabbed a little in the small of my back...just because I loved the chill it sent up my spine. Who knows, maybe he would get to appreciate it down there after a few drinks. Lord knows it had been a while and I was ready for anything...good or bad. Anything was better then another intimate night with the hummm of the bullet.
Chapter 1, Pt 3
As I headed for the lobby door, I took a deep breathe and put on my happy face again. I knew I had to act surprised, even though I had figured out who was waiting for me. With a joyful gait and a quick flip of my golden flocks I stepped out into the lobby to see my man. But he wasn't there. There were only two people out there, each sitting on opposite sides of the dreary room. One was an older woman, easily in her 60's or 70's. Looked like a librarian to me the way she wore her glasses perched on the end of her nose and glared up at me when I entered the room. She was definitely displeased to see me, as I obviously was not the person for which she was waiting. Sucks to be you, I thought to myself. The other person was sitting on the black leather sofa in the front of the foyer, back to me, leg crossed with his foot shaking like that of someone who was anxious and impatient. I couldn't see the face, but from what I could tell it was a well-polished executive-type, wearing a pinstriped suit with shoes shined to perfection. His hair was salt and pepper, not in an "old" sort of way, but more of a distinguished manner. He was slightly balding but he didn't try to cover it up with a long stray hair like so many other men rediculously do.
My thoughts quickly turned back to Ward. Did he tire of waiting for me? Great...yet another evening blown to crap. In my frustration, I let out a loud sigh - much louder than I had realized because it caused the gentleman in the suit to turn around and look up at me. As he did, he quickly stood up and with a huge, welcoming smile started heading my way. Taken aback by this individual approaching me, suddenly the familiar glimpse of his sparkling brown eyes caught my attention. My body shivered and the room started spinning around me as I realized that it was the handsome, distinguished man in the pinstripe suit that was waiting for me, not Ward. And, in fact, this man was no stranger to me and was provoking emotions that I thought had long left my soul.
I quickly looked to the exit and started running. To nowhere in particular - just away from the shock and realization of what was standing before me. Once outside, I kicked off my stilletos in desperation to gain speed. Totally unaware of anything or anyone around me, I raced for the park across the street that had so many times served as an escape from the stress and hysteria of the office. My feet were sore from running on the concrete so I decided to rest against the rock wall in a secluded corner of the park. As I caught my breath and was able to realize what was happening, the tears started flowing down my face. I was bawling like a newborn who hadn't been fed in days. So many emotions were flowing out that I simply could not control. I just tilted my head back looking up to the sky for answers to questions I was not prepared to face.
"Are you okay? Lady. Hello! Are you okay? My mommy said if someone is crying like you, they must be going through a lot of pain. Are you okay?" I looked down and there before me was a little girl who couldn't be older then 7 or 8. Red curly hair and big blue eyes, her beautiful face buried beneath the dirt of what appeared to be a long day in the park. "Are you okay?" she asked again. "Mommy holds my hand when I'm hurting..do you want me to hold your hand?" Never before had I met such a caring, well-meaning little girl. When I was younger I had always hoped to have one just like her when I had children of my own. Of course the cancer prevented me from ever procreating...maybe she was just an angel sent to me to remind me of those innocent days.
I clasped my hands around her hands and thanked her for caring. I convinced her I was not in pain, because I really wasn't. I don't know if they were happy tears, either, but they definitely were not tears of pain. I reached into my purse to grab a tissue to clean my burning eyes. When I turned around a few seconds later she was gone...no where to be seen. Meanwhile, little did I know that he, the handsome man in the pinstriped suit, was watching me the whole time from a slight distance. The departure of the little redheaded girl was his opening to approach.
As I lean against the wall, eyes closed, taking deep breaths, suddenly there was a gentle peck on my cheek. I opened my eyes to see before me the man I had loved so many years ago, cupping his hands around my face and pressing his lips hard against mine as my knees grew weaker and weaker.
Chapter 2, Part 1
It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since our first encounter. My annual trek to the Catskill Mountains had taken on a new twist. It was the first one since my divorce from Alan; and certainly the most entertaining. Life would never be the same after that.
I loved the mountains, and every year, late spring, I would go there with my digital camera, and my writing pad, and escape from the world around me. My friends and family always worried about me being alone hiking through the vast forest. “There are a lot of crazy people out there looking for a girl like you alone in the woods” mom would say. Personally I think she watched too many made for TV dramas. After having gone through an abusive marriage, I took several self-defense classes…eventually becoming expert enough that I now taught them myself. “That won’t protect you from a gun” mom would add. I was more likely to get attacked on the street outside my townhouse then I was in the forest. Most of my trips I never crossed paths with even one hiker during the 4 day hiatus.
This particular trip the weather was not real cooperative. While the first day started out with a clear blue cloudless sky, it didn’t take long for that façade to disappear. Half-way through my first 10 mile hike, the heavens opened up, inundating the earth with waves of cold rain. New streams were developing in crevices and the ground was quickly developing a mud-equivalent to quicksand. I was certain an arc would come floating by me any moment. After 2 hours of continuous saturation, and noticing the steeper slopes just ahead, I decided I needed to search out a spot in which to escape from the upheaval, and take a break to jot down some thoughts. It didn’t take long until I found a small cave at the base of the steeper mountainside.
My temporary sanctuary was well protected from the elements. The ground was dry and dusty, and the walls did not seep with streams of water like every other surface in the forest. Two large, flat rocks sat perched in each corner, large enough for a party of four. After concluding this was not a natural formation, I was still grateful that someone out there had built such a cozy shelter for the weary hikers who find her. A prior dweller had placed some kindling and logs in the corner, a welcome sight.
Chapter 2, Part 2
The fire was building, and there was now enough light in the room for me to work on my writing. Even with the fire, though, I was still quite chilled. My clothes were saturated from natures undieing fury of water, and I knew if I didn't remove them, I would never warm up. The likelihood of anyone else showing up where I was hiding wasn't very high - most people were logical enough to conceed to mother nature and return home. Still, I only removed my lavender fleece top. I placed it close enough to the fire to speed the drying process so I could go back to hiding myself in the unlikely event of company. My hair was dripping wet so I grabbed a clip out of my napsack and pulled my hair up on my head to enhance its drying process as well. Relief from the cold was already rolling in with these two small adjustments. Clothed only in a purple lace athletic bra, black sateen hiking pants, and my old reliable, but very wet, hiking boots...I turned my thoughts back to writing.
The crackling of the wood and the splatter of the rain on the leaves outside the cave was like nature's music, providing an awesome environment in which to create. I perched myself up, crossing my legs underneath me, making a space on which to rest my writing pad. I pondered the topic du jour for a long time, trying to avoid the subject which insistently kept popping up in my head. My divorce was fresh in my mind, and my feelings of failure were overwhelming. Avoiding this topic for weeks, I finally gave in and started thinking about what I could have done differently. Topic of the day - How to make a man happy.
Obviously I wasn't the ideal wife, or my ex would not have run into the arms of another. But I thought I knew him well enough to keep him satisfied the majority of the time. I lived his life, rarely worrying about my needs. Unfortunately, as I was beginning to realize, I never really truly tried to understand his needs. He used to say, "I'm just a typical guy who wants typical guy things." What did this mean? Beef, beer, and a regular pickle tickle? He never seemed to complain. And even if I wasn't in the mood to cook, fetch, or, well, cook some more, I always met his challenges. I entertained his friends (they considered me one of the boys), and I coddled his family. And all I asked in return was an ocassional "I Love You." I truly thought I was happy being this way. Even if the I Love You's weren't as frequent as I would have liked. (Okay, they were pretty dmn rare.)
Chapter 2, Part 3
Coming up with a beginning was a struggle. This was rediculous. How does a person go to write in the journal, yet not be able to come out with the words to say what they feel. Was I denying myself? Did I refuse to face the truth? What was the problem? What's happening here? I could feel my eyes beginning to well up and began fading into the zone...that place where nothing is real and everything is painful.
Suddenly my attention was drawn to a crunching sound outside the cave. My heart began to race and my body began to sweat as I thought of the bears known to frequent this part of the woods. I gazed around the cave for something to grab for self-defense against the fearsome creature; but, all I could find was an inch thick piece of wood that would probably put the bear in hysteria. Still I raised it above my head waiting for the inevitable confrontation - and squeezed in a few prayers for a miracle.
The sound was getting closer and closer, faster and faster, my heart fighting to burst out of my chest when...there he was. Smiling...almost to the point of laughter. Not a bear, but a man...soaking wet and covered in mud...wearing a smile that could melt an iceberg. I was mesmorized by his glow...then mortified when I realized that I was standing up, in attack position, 1 inch stick over my head, wearing a purple lace athletic bra!!! "Don't you knock!" I screamed..."how can you sneak up on someone like that in the woods? Are you insane? Stop staring at me!" I had my arms wrapped around my chest like there was any chance I could cover the abundance. He just stood there, his smile suddenly turning to laughter. Before I knew it, I was laughing too. And so it began. The first crossing of our paths.
Chapter 3, Part 1
Suddenly aware of the reality of the situation I pushed him away. “Why are you here” I asked, my voice stammering from crying. “I don’t understand…why are you here? What? Why didn’t you tell me? How? What about….”
“Shhhhhhhh” he whispered, again pressing his lips against me. Again I half-heartedly pushed him away, “We just spoke on the phone yesterday…why didn’t you say….why didn’t you….what are you doing here?” I begged for a response.
He looked so handsome, I couldn’t keep my eyes off him…and he was well aware of that. He just tilted his head to the side and smiled, and wouldn’t say a word. I really did want him there, and he knew that. But why? What was causing this sudden fulfillment of this yearning I had for years and years. Why now? And what was I to do? What was he expecting from me? And how? And did he feel the same? Was it just about sex? It couldn’t be – with his looks and personality, he could get who he wanted whenever he wanted. Then what…why me, why here. I asked myself these questions, but at the same time I always new.
To me I guess it was always a fantasy based on a reality. In the fantasy I met my prince charming, we fall in love, talk about marriage…then the fantasy turns ugly and he is gone from my life. From that point on I hide away in my castle living the life of a simpleton, living day-to-day, surviving but not thriving. Then one day prince charming comes galloping in on his horse, whisks me up from my life, and shows me paradise. The end. But that was the fictional end. There was the other side of me that wanted the fantasy, but with the non-fictional end…the one where I see paradise, live paradise for a few days, then go back to my life with a new found peace, living the happily ever after with Ward.
Joycee knew every detail of my relationship with Jimmy, and she was always playing psychoanalyst with me. She always said my issues were about closure. That I never said a true goodbye. Perhaps that was part of it. What she was saying was true . But…there is also the part of me that just needed some refreshment. I can’t think of one friend who is married that doesn’t feel a need once in a while to just escape from reality. Some people call it cheating…and of course, they are right. But perhaps, if handled from a different perspective, it could be more looked at as revitalization. No two human beings can make each other happy 100% of the time. So every so often we need to be reminded of what we are, who we are, and why we are so we can be our best for our partner.
Let’s face it, not just any Tom, Dick, or Harry could handle this task. Cheating is cheating. Having sex with someone. Wham, bam, thank you man. This is more. It is spiritual fulfillment. (Coupled with sweat and pleasure!) I think we have two loves in life, our soulmate in marriage, and our soulmate in life. What’s the difference? The soulmate in marriage is that man we love so dearly, connect to whole heartedly, share in family, love and life; but, we are with all the time, so we see the faults, and let them get to us. The soulmate in life is the person you love dearly, connect to whole heartedly, but know you could not handle being with every day, but every so often you need a spirit injection to rejuvenate your life.
“Jimmy, why now? Why are you here? How? How did you get away? And…I mean….,” I still couldn’t say what I really felt. I was still trying to figure it out. Maybe that is why I ran…I needed a few minutes alone to figure out how to deal with the reality of the situation.
“Think about it Jen, think about our conversation yesterday” he said softly and confidently. “You told me about Ward being away for the weekend, and I asked you a lot of questions. We joked about the fact the Sarah was going to be away, too, and too bad we lived so far apart.” Yes, he was right, but, we always joked like that. Ten years of joking like that. It was part of our playful friendship, but not a reality that would open up an opportunity one day. Did I give him a false hint that I wanted him to fly out this weekend. Well, I guess it wasn’t “false”…and really was thrilled to see him.
I just looked into his charismatic eyes and smiled, shaking my head in disbelief that I’d ever see him standing before me again. Ten years. My heart was still racing, racing like a schoolgirl on her first date. Racing like it raced the first time I saw him in the cave. Racing like the first time we made love…and every time after that.
I knew it was time for that fantasy …that injection and rejuvenation. I knew I couldn’t fight it. I wanted it more then anything right now. But how. He leaned forward and kissed me again, and this time I didn’t push him away. I kissed him back with a passion and power I had been storing deep inside in hopes of this very moment. I was bursting at the seams and it was all coming out. I again started to cry…this time tears of passion. He stopped kissing me and started wiping my eyes. “Once in my passion, forever in my heart. Always remember that sweet Jenny, always remember that.”
Chapter 3, Part 2
Some many times over the past 10 years I looked at his picture. I never wanted to forget…not that I had a choice. He was always there, whether or not I wanted him to be. Planted firmly in the back of my mind. And now here I was, kissing him, holding him, wanting him. The funny thing was, it wasn’t just sexual. Oh yes, the desire was there. But it was so much deeper inside me then I ever imagined. I wanted to look into his eyes, just stare, and figure out what was going inside…like I had so many times before. I wanted to feel the warmth of his smile…a warmth that even the sun could not express. I wanted to hear his voice. So sincere, so vibrant, so sexy. And there he was before me. And I was loving it. I never wanted to let go. And even though deep inside I knew he was going to have to leave, I was not going to let myself dwell on that for a single moment.
The kiss had been so passionate we were both gasping for air. He rolled next to me against the wall, catching his breath…never once letting go of me. Whether his arm was wrapped around me, or at the very minimum he was holding my hand, he was not letting go. It felt as though he too was going to take advantage of our every second together as well.
I never knew that a kiss could have so much power over me. Unintentionally I let out a huge sigh. “What now?” he said with a smidgen of concern. “Nothing. Really! It’s like…I don’t know…I’ve just achieved the ultimate in satisfaction” I laughed. “Honey, you ain’t seen nothing yet…or have you forgotten,” he responded with a smirk of confidence on his face. There was no way I had “forgotten,” no matter how much I tried. No one could ever compare. Sure I had other partners who could “satisfy” me, per se. But no one, not even Ward, could satisfy me and make me feel so loved with one single action.
I felt myself smiling, and then I started to giggle. Eventually I was laughing so hard, I couldn’t even speak. He watched me with a sense of joy that only he could achieve from seeing me laugh. He knew it was a laughter that was long lost over the past 10 years. And I knew he was proud that he still was able to make it come out. A bit perplexed about what “exactly” had overwhelmed me to the point of hysteria, he actually didn’t really care. He knew it was something I needed, and if nothing else, he was determined to get me to remember what that was like. Why was I laughing? I wasn’t sure myself…but I felt it, and I needed to let it out.
I was suddenly aware that nearly everyone in the park was now staring at us…some smiling, some in disbelief. Not that I really cared, but what I did care about was that I was only 1.5 blocks from my office. A company at which I have been employed over 15 years. Many, many of the employees knew of me, and of my life with Ward. It certainly would not be to my benefit to have someone see me with Jimmy.
“We need to go somewhere, hon. Somewhere private. Somewhere that I won’t run into someone I know” I suddenly blurted out with the fear of a child who was about to get caught lieing. “I know baby, I know. I’ve already done my homework. I have a few ideas, and you just need to tell me what you are most comfortable with” he responded confidentally in control. He had it all planned with the accuracy of a perfectionist. Every detail. What we would do that evening - a romantic dinner in a very expensive restaurant north of town – the type of restaurant where you only see the rich and famous. He rented a hotel suite, a city away, complete with a kitchen. (He always did like my cooking – even the time I tried to set his throat on fire by adding wayyyyyyyyyyyy too much pepper to a dish I designed just for him. He never admitted to be overwhelmed by the meal, but judging by the fact he downed a 2-liter bottle of rootbeer within 15 minutes, I knew better.) They next day we would go hiking together…just like we did the first time we met. He chose a secluded trail in an arboretum I had told him about many times in the past…a place where I spent a lot of my time during my recovery from cancer. He remembered how special the place was to me, and how out of the way it was, and he wanted to share in the experience. That evening he will cook for me, much to my surprise. He told me how he already had stocked the refrigerator, including in it some brie and a bottle of white zinfandel – something he knew would have more meaning to me than almost anything else he could do. And Sunday, he booked a flight at night so we could have most of the day together. The plan was simple, a gourmet chef to cook us breakfast in the suite, a bubble bath, complete with rose petals, and an afternoon of making love.
Now some other women would be insulted to hear that her married ex-boyfriend would expect her, married as well, to make love to him. But he knew…he knew this wasn’t sex. And he knew this wasn’t infidelity. Well it was, but this was the ultimate exception to the rule for both of us. We both loved our spouses, our soul mates in marriage, but when we were together, we had to celebrate our soulmates in life…each other. Rules did not apply. And there was no room for guilt or anger. All that mattered, and all that would be remembered, were those few hours together, just the two of us. Lost in paradise. Blind to the world. And lost in each other. Something to be cherished, never forgotten. An untamed need that must be quenched to ensure our long-term survival. Animalistic, yet at the same time romantic…it was OUR time. For far too long we had gone without it.
Chapter 3, Part 3
The plans were in place. He hopped into his rented Mustang and went back to his hotel to shower. I went home to pack a bag for the weekend. What to bring, what to bring. Suddenly I realized that Joycee and Liz were waiting for me. I definitely could not tell Liz the truth – she would never understand. But Joycee…my relationship with Joycee was totally different. She was my unrelated identical twin in disguise. No one on this earth understood me better then her, except maybe for Jimmy. She knew what I was thinking even before I had a chance to say it. I’d start a sentence; she would finish it for me. She knew all about Jimmy. And I mean ALL about Jimmy. She had a Jimmy of her own in her heart, but she, like me, never imagined she would see him again. But it didn’t stop her longing.
I called her on her cell phone…she was just getting ready to leave her house. All I had to say is “he’s here.” She knew who I was talking about. “When! How! Why…wait, well, I know why…wait…are you…sure you are…wow…what about Ward….what do we tell Liz…she’ll never understand….Oh My God I am so totally jealous…and scared…but more jealous…what are you going to do…wait…I know what you are going to do…but you do have to come up for air don’t you….” She babbled on and on. She was almost as excited as I was. She hinted that she wanted to meet him, and my response was, “you know him, J…from all the words I’ve said. Let’s keep it that way.” She totally understood what I was saying…I wasn’t sharing. Not that she would try to flirt with him or steal him away, she just didn’t want to…and I didn’t want her to…steal away a second of my time with him. She was as excited for me as a mother is the day her daughter is getting married. And Joycee understood. She knew what was happening. She knew I loved Ward. Our conversation ended with her telling me she’d tell Liz I was sick, and hang with her for the night…but only if I called her the second Jimmy got on the plane to go home!
I hung up the phone and grabbed my brown leather duffel. Not very feminine looking, but it was the perfect size for a weekend getaway. First things first, I climbed back into the furthest corner of my walk-in closet and reached for a shoe box. A shoe box that had been put away 10 years ago. A shoe box that Ward never even knew existed. Inside the show box was a black velvet satchel. I held it in my hand for a while, almost afraid to remove the contents. In 10 years I had never once went back to the satchel. I almost feared it would bring bad luck if I did. But now it was time to open it up. Open it up and hold it in my hands. Watch it sparkle…sparkle just like it did from the moonlight on the night Jimmy first gave it to me.
Sitting together on the beach, cuddled up on an old oxford shirt he pulled from his car. He didn’t realize I had pulled the blanket out the day before to wash it, so we made due with the shirt. I could tell he was nervous…I had never seen him get nervous about anything before, but there was something different about that night. Something very unexpected. It was a cool, clear spring night, with a gentle breeze carrying the salt of the ocean. He was holding me tight against his body to keep me warm. Chills were running up and down my spine not from the wind, but from the feeling of his fingers caressing my hair like it was spun gold. I could smell the subtle scent of Drakkar rising from his chest. I wanted to make love to him at that very moment. Just as I began to press my lips against his body he gently pushed me away, and got up on his knees. Being the naive fool I was, I sat there trying to figure out what I had done wrong, when suddenly he said it, “Jen, sweet Jen, I truly, deeply love you more than I ever thought it was possible to love. I need you by my side, always and forever. Always have, always will. Please marry me, sweet Jen. Be my wife and make me the happiest man in the world.”
He pulled out a ring…a marquis diamond on a platinum band. Not huge or overbearing, but perfectly cut, and stunningly glistening in the moonlight. I had never seen anything more beautiful in my life. I cried. Tears of joy flowed down my face…I knew he was my forever love…or so I had thought. Two months later when our relationship ended, he insisted I keep the ring. He insisted he had it made especially for me, and never wanted to give it to anyone else. So I kept it, and I put it in a satchel. And I hid it away, along with my engagement. It was over, and I did not want to see the ring. It had lost its beauty just like the man I thought I loved. He was out of my life. I refused to sell the ring though. Just because my engagement did not have a happy ending, it had a beautiful beginning. The ring served as an incredible memory of one magnificent evening on the beach.
Today it was time to put the ring on. Not on my ring finger, but on my pinky. Just like a friendship ring. We both would know the ring meant more then that, but the pinky was the most appropriate. I opened the satchel, removed the silk box, and opened it up. The ring sparked in the dim light of the closet like the Star of Bethlehem. And I placed it on my finger where it would remain for a magical 48 hours.
Chapter 4, Part 1
His eyes appeared to be dancing from the sparkle of the fire, and he had the most attractive smile I have ever seen in my life. He looked at me, almost longingly, as if he was waiting for an invitation to come further into my secret hideaway. “It doesn’t look like the rain is going to let up any time soon, so you might as well come in” I said without looking up at him…pretending to be totally engrossed in my writing, which was actually going nowhere.
“Are you sure I’m not interrupting?” he asked in what seemed to be a sincere voice. I looked up, smiled, rested my hands on my lap, and said “no, it would be nice to have a little company.” What was I thinking?! This man could be a rapist, or a mass murderer, or some other psycho. Let’s face it, he was wandering the forest in a rain shower. Okay, so was I, but that was different…he is a man. I couldn’t exactly turn him away, either. It’s not like I owned the cave. And there was certainly plenty of room for him to crawl in and get away from the treacherous weather.
“Jimmy. Jimmy Ganzsteen.” He said as he reached out his hand to shake mine. Firm, confident, but not overbearing…nice shake. “Just call me Cookie” I replied, still hesitant to expose any of the real me to the stranger. He didn’t look like a Jimmy to me. Not like the Jimmy’s I grew up with on the streets of Brooklyn. Real self-admiring, obnoxiously confident musclemen who never looked your way unless you were blonde, blue eyed, and at least 6 ft. Not that he was all bad. Decent build, a couple of extra pounds, but not what I would call overweight. Nice firm buttocks I thought to myself, but evidently mumbled out loud because suddenly Jimmy burst into laughter and said “certainly an aggressive comment from a stranger, but hey, I love the outgoing type.” This would just be the start of a weekend full of mortifying moments I would put myself in, I later figured out. “I’m sorry?” I said trying to cover my indescretion by trying to make him believe he misheard me. “Yep, yep, yep” I continued “my buttocks are really getting sore from sitting on this rock.”
I glanced over at my fleece top seeking out a very quick change in subject. It appeared to be dry. I started walking over to pick it up and put it on. Jimmy saw me going for it and went to pick it up for me. For a brief moment my warped mind thought he was going to take it and run. “Stop!” I yelled. Startled he jumped back, laughing yet again, and said “I just wanted to save you from having to bend.” In hindsight I probably should have let him pick it up because when I bent over my left breast started sliding out of my sports bra! A quick tuck back in, and I quickly threw my top over the self-evading bra.
Back to the safe retreat of my corner of the cave, I sat on my rock and leaned back towards the wall as if I were sitting in a recliner. “Yep, just like my furniture at home” I giggled. “Oh you shop at Big Bobby Bucktooth’s House of Furniture too,” he cracked back. A nice butt and a sense of humor, now that’s something you don’t find together too often I giggled to myself. We continued to banter back and forth about the homey conditions of the cave, the weather, and various other issues of little or no importance. His quick wit and soft spoken voice quickly had me mesmerized with him. And his tight little butt. He must have been restless from his hike because he couldn’t stay seated and wandered back and forth in the cave. I couldn’t keep myself from watching his every move. Without a doubt he had to have noticed.
Meanwhile, back in the present....
As I drove my car across the bridge heading home, I gazed out onto the lake. Mirror-like, it reminded me of an unmatched calm I once felt in my life. A time when I was very secure in my decisions. Today was definitely not one of those days.
What was I doing? Was it worth the risk involved? Well, I knew it was "worth" it in that I would have a weekend full of laughter and a closeness I had not felt in many, many years. But then there was reality. Could I face it again without signs of guilt pasted all over my face...and my heart. And Jimmy, he faced a similar situation. But he was always confident in his decisions - at least he always appeared that way. This was impulsive for him though...could he handle it. So many times he backed away when he felt guilt or the uneasiness that came with uncertainty. Would this be a last horrah...never to see or hear from him again?
Sweat began pouring down my face so I put the air conditioner on full blast. It was like cold reality setting in. All I wanted to do right now was grab a blanket and crawl up into a ball. Time to call Joycee...she always set me straight. She always knew exactly what to say.