Thy Neighbor’s Wife – Chapter 5 (Conclusion)
Author’s Note: To read previous chapters of Thy Neighbor’s Wife, click here.
Benjamin stood at the side of his living room window, sipping coffee and peering through the blinds like a cop on stakeout. It was just after eight o’clock. He was supposed to be at work at 7:30, but he’d called in and left a voicemail with the office secretary telling her that something had come up and he’d be in late, or possibly not at all. What he should have said was, “I’m being a damned fool and thinking with the wrong head.” He actually was dressed for work, because when he got out of bed he’d still been lying to himself.
So he stood at his window, sipping coffee and watching Marcus’ CTS in the driveway next door. Back in the day Marcus parked his Cadillac in the garage. Benjamin wondered if like bedroom privileges, garage privileges were something Nicole wasn’t giving Marcus anymore. He made a mental note to himself to stay aware of signs of change, like if and when Marcus was able to stick his car back in Nicole’s garage. That might also mean that he was sticking something else somewhere else.
Benjamin thought that if Marcus was going to work, he should be leaving soon. That is, unless they were both not going to work on time for the same reason. He thought about the worst case scenario. He imagined that Nicole had had a change of heart last night, and that Marcus wasn’t going to work this morning because Nicole was letting him stick that something else somewhere else.
He pushed that image out of his head because he didn’t like the picture. Nicole wasn’t his woman. He didn’t know what she was, or might be. But if there was a possibility for anything, even if it was only a repeat of Sunday night, he didn’t want to think about anyone being with her but him. In the meantime, he decided that he needed to quit acting like a lovesick stalker and take his ass to work.
He was about to leave the window, but then the Caddy’s lights flashed. Benjamin froze by the window and watched. A moment later Marcus came into view.
Marcus walked around the front of his Caddy to the driver’s door. He was dressed for work. Benjamin felt ashamed of himself for feeling so relieved.
Marcus opened his car door, but instead of sliding behind the wheel, he turned around. Benjamin saw him looking his way, first toward his garage and then up, toward his bedroom windows. Marcus didn’t look very happy this morning. In fact, he looked pissed. Then he closed his car door, and Benjamin felt a spike of alarm as Marcus stepped into the section of grass that separated their driveways, coming toward his house.
But then, halfway across the grass, Marcus stopped. He seemed to be considering something. Then he turned around, went back to his Caddy, got in and backed out of the driveway.
Benjamin watched Marcus’ car roll up the street until it was out of sight. He stayed at the window for a couple of minutes, just in case Marcus decided to come back. He wondered why Marcus had started to come to his house. He couldn’t think of any good reason.
Benjamin decided that whatever it was about, it could only mean drama and aggravation for his life. No pussy was worth that, not even pussy as beautiful as Nicole.
As he left the window he decided that he really needed to quit being a fool. He needed to stop thinking with the wrong head and take his ass to work.
He was halfway up the stairs when his doorbell chimed. Back in the foyer he checked the sidelight, expecting to see that Marcus had come back. But it was Nicole he saw standing on his stoop.
This morning Nicole wore a loose white denim shirt over jeans. Not as sexy as her Philadelphia Eagles jersey, but sexy none the less. Or maybe she was just hot to him no matter what she wore. As Benjamin looked at her standing on his front stoop he reminded himself to quit thinking with the wrong head and send her back home so that he could get to work.
But then Nicole said, “I told him.”
Earlier That Morning
Nicole woke up before sunrise and before her alarm clock. That was unusual. On most workday mornings she spent a good half an hour playing tag with the snooze button before dragging herself out of bed.
She sat up in bed feeling anxious, and with a sense that her anxiety had pulled her awake. She hadn’t wanted to sleep too late this morning. She knew that Benjamin went to work early, and she wasn’t sure that she’d convinced him not to go in. If she’d had to bet, she’d bet that he was going to work. He hadn’t sounded happy when she called him last night. She couldn’t blame him. She’d handled things stupidly so far. Over the past weekend she’d badly mismanaged moments of her life.
First, in a moment of compassion she’d agreed to let Marcus come back so that he wouldn’t be homeless. Though it was to be only a temporary situation, she felt in retrospect that it would have been a better idea to loan him some money for a place to stay. She’d rather he owed her money for a hotel than be back in her house. But she hadn’t thought things through before making her decision. She’d let compassion overrule common sense.
Then, in a moment of desperation she’d come on to Ben, hard. She’d thrown herself at him. She’d done that because she’d had it in her mind for a while that one day they might hook up. But then all of a sudden she’d thought that it might not.
Even though he’d never made a move, she knew that Ben was attracted to her. She was attracted to him, too. Over the past several months she’d created many fantasies about how they might come together. But after she’d told Marcus that he could come back, she’d realized that Ben might think that she and her ex-husband were back together. That would ruin the fantasies she’d entertained since that first time Ben had mowed her lawn. So she’d thrown herself at him before Marcus came back. That was her moment of desperation.
Now, in the light of the day that hadn’t yet arrived, she had another moment – one of clarity. Letting Marcus come back had been a mistake. Making love with Benjamin hadn’t been. She’d just made the situation unnecessarily complicated. The tone in Ben’s voice last night told her so. So now she had to make things right. She hoped that Ben wasn’t going to work.
Nicole’s next moment came just after she brushed her teeth, while she was swishing blue Listerine around in her mouth. It was a moment of understanding.
Understanding Point One: She’d been living a fantasy. Her fantasy started on the day she’d stood at Ben’s front door, thanking him for mowing her front yard. It was the first time she’d been so close to him. She could tell that he was attracted to her. Men were so easy to read that way. But she saw no player in him, no game. He’d actually seemed surprised that she’d come over to thank him. She knew then that he’d only cut her grass because it was a gentlemanly thing – a real man thing – to do. That was so nicely old school. And it was sexy.
She’d been in post-marriage man-hating mode back then. She hadn’t been looking to hook up with anyone, to set herself up for more disappointment and hurt. But one brief encounter with her neighbor Ben, one good look at him, and at him looking at her, made her know that he was that guy. And that’s when her fantasy of her Knight in Shining Nissan had begun.
Fantasies are always better than reality, so for months she’d been content just living the fantasy that one day the knight would sweep her off her feet and they’d become whatever they were going to be together. It didn’t have to result in marriage. She’d done the marriage thing. A ring didn’t guarantee happily ever after. So mostly, her fantasies involved her and Ben as madly in love neighbors. She’d been content with that fantasy and content for the time being with it being just a fantasy.
In her moment of understanding, Nicole realized that as long as her fantasy wasn’t threatened, she’d been okay not acting on it. The biggest threat would be another woman. From what she’d observed, when Ben wasn’t working, he was usually at home. She’d seen an occasional woman come and go at his place. But it was never the same woman, so she hadn’t thought that he was serious about anyone. And for all she knew, those women could have been friends or family. And she hadn’t seen a woman at his place since before that first time he’d mowed her lawn. It didn’t mean Ben didn’t have a woman in his life, but she felt that if he did and it was serious, she would have seen her every now and then. So it seemed that that threat to her fantasy was minimal.
Understanding Point Two: Sometimes things happen for a reason. She probably would have gone on living her fantasy and waiting for Ben to make a move until life took over and eliminated the possibility. But then Marcus had called her, pitiful and needing a place to stay. In her moment of compassion she’d agreed to let him stay with her for a month. Then she’d realized that if Ben saw that Marcus was back in the house, he’d think that they were back together. That would be a threat to her fantasy. So in her moment of desperation she’d thrown herself at Ben like some cheap hoochie to get them together before Marcus showed up. So Marcus had served a purpose. He’d been the catalyst that forced her and Ben together. Without Marcus, she likely would have continued fantasizing without action.
Now she had to make sure that Marcus, the man from her past, didn’t interfere with her potential future with Ben.
Nicole liked her body. She liked being nude when she was home. It made her feel alive and real. It made her feel ultra-feminine, and appealed to her sexuality in a way that wasn’t really about sex. So more often than not when she was home alone, she didn’t wear anything.
As the weather had cooled this season, it had become a favorite thing to do to slip out of bed on chilly mornings and into her plaid flannel pajama top. She’d go downstairs and put a couple of logs in the fireplace, and sip tea or hot chocolate and watch the crackling fire as she waited for the room to warm up. Then she would take off the shirt and be her natural feminine self. The waiting to be nude was like foreplay pending womanhood. It wasn’t about sex, but being naked appealed to her sensuality and felt a little naughty, and that made her feel sexy. Then, feeling sexy, she’d go back upstairs to her home office and get to work.
This morning was cool enough to light the fireplace, but no way was she going to walk around naked with her ex-husband back in the house. Hell, she hadn’t even done that when they were together. Marcus would have thought she was nuts. It wasn’t that he’d ever had a problem with her being naked, as long as it was when he wanted it. With Marcus, when he was interested, he was interested. When he wasn’t, he wasn’t. It occurred to her that in the five years they’d been together in the house – the first year after he’d moved in with her and then four years of being married, she and Marcus had never made love in front of the fireplace. It wasn’t something that interested him, so no matter how romantic she thought it might be, they hadn’t done it that way. And yet on her first time with Ben, they’d done it front of his fireplace.
As Nicole slipped into sweatpants and a loose-fitting tee-shirt, she felt new resentment toward Marcus. She resented him being in her house, disrupting her life after he’d already almost destroyed it. She was starting to feel that letting him come back had been a mistake. What the hell had she been thinking? How could she let the man who’d betrayed her, broken her heart and abandoned her come back, just because he’d shed a few tears?
Dressed, she turned the knob lock on her bedroom door carefully, hoping that it wouldn’t make too much noise. The latch clicked, seeming incredibly loud in the quiet of the morning, and she winced. She didn’t want to wake Marcus up. She didn’t want to have to deal with him any sooner than she had to. She opened the door even more carefully, hoping that it wouldn’t squeak. She didn’t usually close it, and had never paid attention to how much noise the hinges made, if any. The door swung open quietly.
Her bedroom took up one end of her house, from front to back. There were three other bedrooms, the smallest on the right side of the hall and nearest her bedroom. She’d converted that one into her home office, where she worked remotely, telecommuting as the copy editor for Robyn’s Nest Magazine. At the end of the hall on the right was the second smallest guest bedroom.
Just beyond the landing on the left was the guest bathroom, and at the end of the hall on the left, the second largest bedroom. That’s where Marcus was sleeping.
Except for light flickering at the far end of the hallway, the second floor was dark. That flickering light came from the television in the guest bedroom where Marcus slept. It was just past five in the morning, so Nicole figured that he’d fallen asleep with the TV on. He used to fuss at her doing that, for wasting electricity.
She thought that his leaving the bedroom door open was arrogant, or maybe expectant, or maybe an invitation. Whatever the reason, it irritated her that he was so comfortable in her space – comfortable enough to leave the door to the room he slept in open while she’d been so uncomfortable – in her own home – that she’d closed and locked hers.
She swallowed her resentment and padded into her office to get to work. She had an article to take care of before tomorrow’s deadline. She wanted to finish it this morning, before the rest of the world – Ben in particular – got up. She hoped he would stay home today because he wanted to be with her. She wasn’t sure that he would.
One of the monthly features in the magazine was titled Taking Wing. The purpose of the feature was to provide hope and inspiration to readers – especially young readers – by interviewing someone who was making it as a professional or an entrepreneur. They wanted to show their readers that there were ways to be successful and prosperous that didn’t involve sports or entertainment. That was the feature Nicole had to edit before deadline.
She wanted to edit the article as quickly as possible, but she also wanted to give it special attention, because it was written by Robyn Hunter. Robyn was the founder and owner of Robyn’s Nest Magazine, and her boss. To the best of Nicole’s recollection, Robyn hadn’t done an interview and written an article herself in at least half a dozen years.
The piece was so interesting that Nicole almost forgot to edit it. Robyn had interviewed a writer named Simon Bishop at his home on the New Jersey Shore, in a town called Monmouth Beach. But during that piece Robyn had made reference to a second interview subject – a woman she called Elle, who she described as Simon’s companion. It didn’t take much reading between the lines to know what “companion” meant. Robyn described Elle as looking more beautiful than a black Barbie doll as she drifted about the house during Simon’s interview. Robyn wrote the piece as if this Elle woman was some kind of erotic, exotic spirit wandering the rooms of the estate while she interviewed Simon Bishop.
The second part of the article was about Elle and her business. That interview took place in Richmond, Virginia, where Elle lived and owned a real estate agency – Archer Realty. Now Robyn’s literary tone changed when she described Simon’s beautiful companion. She referred to her as Gabrielle Archer, or Ms. Archer – not Elle. The change was so profound that if Nicole hadn’t known better, she would have thought that Elle and Gabrielle were different women. Whereas Robyn’s descriptions of Elle here in New Jersey had felt personal, even intimate, the Virginia-based article felt clinically professional.
She didn’t know if that difference was intentional, so after a couple of minor grammatical corrections she emailed the article back to Robyn with a question:
Hey boss, except for a couple of oopsies (noted), the article is all good technically. But there’s a distinctly different tone in the way you describe Gabrielle Archer in the New Jersey interview as compared to in Virginia. It’s almost like you’re writing about different people. Was that intentional?
To her surprise, less than a minute after she sent the email, Robyn responded. It wasn’t yet 6:00 in the morning but her boss was up:
Hey Nikki. It was intentional. It was really difficult to capture in writing, but there was a distinct difference in the vibe of the woman when she was here as compared to when I visited her in Richmond. It had to do with her relationship with Simon Bishop. I’d rather not put any more about that in writing, so give me a buzz if you want to talk.
Nicole didn’t need further explanation. Her boss could write whatever she wanted to write, however she wanted to write it. But her curiosity was jumping up and down like a kid in line at Toys R Us. She grabbed her office phone and hit the speed dial. When Robyn answered she asked, “So is this news information or juicy gossip?”
She heard Robyn laugh and then say, “Let’s just say it’s an explanation.”
“Okay…well…Gabrielle Archer’s got her life and business in Virginia, and Simon Bishop has his life and career in New Jersey. But when they get together, they have an entirely different kind of life that they share.”
“And they told you about this shared life? They let you in on it?”
The line was quiet for a moment, and then Robyn said, “In a manner of speaking.”
“So what’s going on?”
There was another few moments of silence, and then Robyn said, “They’re…involved.”
“Well, I figured that. She was in his house, all the way up in New Jersey.”
“Right. Well, they have a unique kind of relationship.”
“Nikki, I have to swear you to secrecy.”
“Don’t agree too quickly. Understand that if you repeat anything I say and I find out that you did, I will fire you. Even though I like you and consider you a friend, I’ll fire you.”
“Do you still want to know?”
Her curiosity jumped up and down faster and started whining. “Yes.”
When Robyn was done talking, all Nicole could think to say was, “Wow.”
“What?” Robyn asked.
“I don’t know whether to be shocked…or jealous. I think I’m both.”
“They do enjoy each other.”
(AUTHOR’S NOTE: To read about the sizzling unique relationship between Gabrielle Archer and Simon Bishop (and Robyn Hunter?) read the eBook Elle – Insatiable: Book One. Click here for the Kindle version. Click here for the Nook version. )
“And this, this Elle person – she told you all this in her interview?”
“Well, let’s just say that she and Simon Bishop are two free and single adults who know what they want from life and from each other, and they don’t let anyone get in the way of that.”
“Did you witness…anything?”
After the longest moment of silence yet, Robyn said, “And now it’s time to change the subject. What’s on your agenda for today?”
“Oh, well, your article was the last thing due for tomorrow. I have some personal matters to take care of so I won’t be at my desk today, but I’ll be close. But you can reach me on my cell, and I can be back here within the hour, maybe sooner.”
When Nicole hung up the phone Marcus said, “So what are you going to be doing today if you’re not working?”
Nicole spun her chair around and saw her ex-husband standing in her office doorway, wearing only boxers.
Strike one. He had a hell of a nerve walking around half naked.
He must have seen something in her face – irritation or aggravation – because he changed his tone, feigning concern. “You’re up early,” he said. “Couldn’t sleep?” Or maybe it wasn’t concern. Maybe he was fishing. And hoping.
“I have things to do. Please don’t walk around in your underwear. It’s not appropriate.”
“Why not? It’s not like you haven’t seen it before.”
She couldn’t help but notice that his abs were more defined than they’d been since before they were married. His chest was bigger, too. He’d been working out. He knew she’d notice, and his ego and immaturity wouldn’t let him not put himself on display. She forced her eyes up to his face and kept them there. “That was in a different world, Marcus. You’re a tenant in my house now – a non-paying tenant, I might add – and I’m not having you walking around my home half dressed.”
“Damn Nicole, I’m getting ready to jump in the shower. You expect me to get dressed just to come down the hall to the bathroom?”
“It’s what I’d expect any other tenant to do.”
“Yeah well, I’m not just any other tenant. We –“
“We used to be married. We’re not anymore. So unless you’re in the guest bedroom with the door closed, you need to be decent.”
Marcus stared at her with hard eyes. Nicole stared back. She didn’t care how upset he was. She hoped he could see on her face that she didn’t care.
Marcus blinked first. He turned his shoulders as if to walk away, but then turned back. “So I guess you don’t do breakfast anymore, either.”
Strike two. This fool didn’t know when to quit.
“I told you yesterday Marcus; you can eat what I eat. That also means when I eat. If you want otherwise, buy it and cook it yourself.”
His anger wanted to flare. She could see it in his eyes and in the set of his mouth – his pout. Such a spoiled child. But he reined his temper in, took a minute to gather his thoughts and said, “Look Nicole, I know I messed up, okay? I messed up bad. But I’ve had a lot of time to think about things, you know? I know that we had a good thing, and I messed it up.”
“That’s stating the obvious.”
“Yeah well, I was thinking you know, that right now we’re not with anybody, right? I mean, I don’t think you would have agreed to let me stay if you were with somebody. So I’m thinking…I know you’re probably mad at me, and I don’t blame you, because I messed up. But we both have needs, you know? I mean, I remember how hot you used to get sometimes. So I figured since I’m going to be here for a month, and we know each other, well…there’s no reason we shouldn’t at least take care of our needs, you know?”
He stood in the doorway, looking down at her with his eyes half closed, biting into his bottom lip. And he was grasping himself through his boxers. Nicole was shocked; stunned. She couldn’t believe that Marcus was actually serious. Did he think he was enticing her? Did he think that his pathetic attempt at a come on was exciting her? Did he think that he’d been so good to her before that she wouldn’t be able to resist? And most of all, did he actually believe that after he’d slept with another woman behind her back and then left her for that woman, that she would ever let him touch her again?
Strike three. Big, GIANT, HUMONGOUS FUCKING STRIKE THREE.
She said, “My needs are already being met. That’s why I’m up early, Marcus. I want to catch Ben before he goes to work.”
Marcus stopped biting his lip and clutching his dick. His eyes squinted tighter as he glared his anger down at her. He looked like he wanted to say something, but he didn’t. Instead he stormed away, down the hall.
This time he closed the guest bedroom door. In fact, he slammed it shut so hard that it shook the house.
So now Marcus, the man who’d cheated on her, who’d broken her heart and nearly crushed her world, was mad. Nicole was pleased with herself that she didn’t care, not one little bit.
Nicole went back to her bedroom. She locked her door and went to sit at the front window, where she had a view of Ben’s driveway next door. She hoped he wouldn’t go to work. She wanted to spend time with him, to get to know him better even if they didn’t have sex.
As she sat and watched and waited, she thought about what Robyn said about Gabrielle Archer and Simon Bishop – how they were two free and single adults who didn’t let anyone get in the way of what they had together. She envied Gabrielle Archer, aka Elle. In Virginia Gabrielle could be who she needed to be – the consummate business professional. She was a part of the world, living according to the world’s standards. But in New Jersey – when she was with Simon Bishop – she could be who she wanted to be. She could be Elle. She could let herself go and be nothing but a woman, because she was with a man she trusted. And maybe she needed that more than she needed to be a part of the world. Maybe that’s what all women really needed – to have the freedom to be nothing but a woman for the right man.
She could see herself having something like that with Ben. And unlike Elle, she wouldn’t even have to travel across state lines to her man, because he lived right next door. The only thing that might be in her way was the man she used to be married to, the man she’d let back into her house. Marcus would be in her way if she let him.
She sat for a while thinking about that, polishing up her old fantasy, making it shiny and new. She imagined herself having what Gabrielle Archer – aka Elle – had with Simon Bishop. He was a good friend to her; maybe her best friend. He was her hang out buddy. He was her lover.
Nicole thought about the amazing things Robyn said Elle and Simon did together, did for each other. It took an amazing amount of trust to give of oneself like that. And, based on the details of Robyn’s description of certain activities, she had a sense that her boss had either witnessed them first hand, or might even have been involved.
Nicole was so lost in her thoughts that she didn’t realize that Marcus had showered, dressed and was leaving for work until she saw movement out in the driveway.
At first he looked like he was getting into his car. He had the door open. But then he looked around at Ben’s house. He closed the car door and stepped onto the grass that separated their driveways.
What the hell did he think he was going to do? Tell Ben off? Fight him? He had no right either way.
Nicole started to leave the window and run down to stop him, but then Marcus stopped, turned around and went back to his car. A minute later he was backing out of the driveway, on his way to work.
She ripped off her sweatpants and tee-shirt, and into jeans, Nikes and a denim shirt and hurried out of the house. She was pretty sure Ben hadn’t left for work yet, and if she had her way he wasn’t going to leave his house at all.
Ben was home. He looked surprised to see her standing on his stoop. He looked even more surprised when she said, “I told him.”
Ben looked at Nicole looking at him, waiting with uncertainty for his reaction. Then she must have seen something in his face, because her uncertainty turned into a slow smile. Her smile made her look extra pretty. He thought that there had to be at least a dozen songs written about a pretty face being a man’s downfall, but at the moment he couldn’t think of one. He said, “That explains why he went to work looking so pissed off.”
“You saw him?”
“Yeah. Why’d you tell him?”
“Because he pissed me off. And because I didn’t want him in our way.”
“In our way?”
“I really hope what happened Sunday night wasn’t a one night stand.”
Benjamin hoped so too, but he didn’t want to seem too eager. She had to already know that he wanted her. Women like Nicole always knew that men wanted them. He said, “Have you eaten?” Nicole shook her head, so he said, “I’m about to make breakfast. Would you like to join me?”
“How do you like your eggs?” He was standing at his stove. Nicole sat across the kitchen at his breakfast nook table, watching him cook.
“I’m sure whatever you make will be fine,” she said.
“Well, I’m going old school for me – scrambled with cheese.”
“Oh, you want to talk old school? Remember cheese toast made in the oven?”
He looked around at her, grinning. “Oh man, now I want some of that! You want some?”
Nicole’s eyes dropped below his belt line. “Mmm-hmm.”
Benjamin turned away, grinning harder.
Since he had a guest, Benjamin had gone all out for breakfast: Canadian bacon, hot links, home fries from real potatoes with onions, eggs scrambled with cheese, and now oven-baked cheese toast. He was bent over the open oven, checking on the toast when behind him he heard a soft click. He looked around and saw Nicole holding up her cell phone. He cocked his brow at her in question.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I just think this is so sexy.”
“No…a man is a shirt and tie with his sleeves rolled up, cooking. I had to take a picture. Do you mind?”
“So it doesn’t take much to turn you on,” he joked.
“Certain things just do.”
Nicole got up and came around the table and across the kitchen toward him, slowly. Even though she was fully dressed, as she approached he saw her as she’d been on Sunday: Beautifully naked. He straightened up and stood with his back to the stove, watching her approach because he couldn’t turn his back on her smoldering eyes and hungry little smile.
As she reached him she said, “Like a man who mows a woman’s lawn without expecting anything in return, because he’s a gentleman. A true nice guy.” She stood in front of him and ran a manicured finger over the knot in his tie. “It’s so intriguing that a man does that, and he cooks too, and he’s an amazing lover.”
“Why is that intriguing?” Benjamin tried to sound cool and thought he’d failed miserably. His voice felt octaves too high.
Nicole seemed not to notice. As she tugged his tie loose she said, “It makes me wonder why some female hasn’t snatched him up.”
“Maybe because nice guys are out of fashion. I think thugs are trending this year.”
“Only for silly girls,” Nicole cooed. “After breakfast I’m going to show you how not silly I am.”
After breakfast Nicole told him that she hadn’t had a shower and asked if she could use his. Of course she could. She asked him to keep his clothes on while she got cleaned up.
Benjamin sat on the side of his bed and waited until Nicole came out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around her body. She stepped to one corner of the foot of the bed, patted it and said, “Sit here sweetie.” He adjusted his position so that he sat with the corner of the bed between his legs.
Nicole tugged the towel loose, and he watched with his heart marching double-time as she folded it into an approximate twelve-inch square. Then she placed the folded towel on the carpet at the corner of the bed, and naked, kneeled with her knees on the towel. Benjamin’s heart went into full gallop as gazing up into his eyes, Nicole tugged his belt loose.
“Does this turn you on?” she breathed.
“Which part?” he croaked.
“Me on my knees for you – to service you.”
He swallowed hard, almost choked, and managed to say, “Yeah…it’s kind of sexy. Does it turn you on?”
Mimicking his words she replied, “Yeah…it’s kind of sexy.” She had his belt open. The feel of her fingers against his midsection as she unfastened his slacks made him shiver. “Can I trust you not to hurt me, Ben?”
Her question made him frown. Where had that question come from? “Of course you can. Why do you ask?”
“I mean physically or emotionally. Can I trust you with my body and my heart – as a friend?”
“Good. Because there’s so much I want to do.”
Now she had him unzipped, and had slipped her hand under the waistband of his boxers. Benjamin shivered again when she grasped his erection. Through clenched teeth he asked, “What do you want to do?”
With her free hand Nicole peeled the front of his boxers down. She said, “Let’s discuss that later.” Then her mouth found him, and Benjamin hoped that “later” would be hours or days or even better, years from now.
They were still in his bed in the early afternoon when he heard the beep-beep-beep of an industrial vehicle in reverse gear out on the street. He slid out of bed to see what was going on.
Standing at the window and looking out he said to Nicole, “Hey, check this out.”
She joined him at the window, and together they watched the U-Haul truck back into her driveway. They watched as the vehicle parked, and watched Marcus get out and go around to the back of the truck. He shot an evil glance in the direction of Benjamin’s house, then pushed up the U-Haul’s lift gate and pulled out the loading ramp.
“Guess he wasn’t that hard up for a place to stay after all,” Ben said.
“Or maybe he’d rather sleep in his car than stay with me now.”
“Nah, I’m thinking that he was hoping that once he got in your door he’d be able to make things permanent. Like most fools, he probably didn’t realize the good thing he had until after he threw it away. I bet he hadn’t planned to waste much time trying to get back in your bed – but you told him about me and now he’s mad.”
“Oh, he already tried – this morning. That’s why I was pissed off, and that’s why I told him about you – about us.”
“Do you need to go over to make sure he doesn’t take or break anything?”
“I’d rather stay here, in the window.”
Nicole was standing directly in front of the window. Other than Marcus next door, there was no activity on their quiet street. People were still at work, and kids were still in school. Still, considering that Nicole was nude, Ben wondered if he ought to close the blinds a little. “You want to watch in case he takes something that’s not his?”
She was looking down at the U-Haul as she replied, “No…this is the part where you tell me that you want me, Ben. You tell me that you want me right here in front of the window while Marcus is packing up his things and moving out.”
“Does that bother you, to know that he’ll be right there, right outside while you have me?”
“Not if it doesn’t bother you.”
“It’s a little scary, knowing that he might look up here, and not knowing if he can see us.”
“Then why do you want to do it?”
“Because it is scary. But if you tell me you want me here, then I will.”
“Where is this coming from?” He knew he was looking a gift horse in the mouth with his questions. He wanted to do it. His growing erection told him that he wanted to do it. But he was curious to know Nicole’s motivation.
“There’s this woman,” Nicole said. “Most people who know her know her as Gabrielle. But when she’s with her man – when she’s being her true, sexual self – she’s known as Elle. And when she’s Elle, she’s free to live out every fantasy she’s ever imagined. She’s my new hero.”
“I think I’m missing something here.”
Now Nicole looked around at him. The afternoon light filtering through the window caught her brown eyes and set them on fire. “Everyone except for my boss calls me Nicole. She calls me Nikki. I want you to call me Nikki, for the same reason that Gabrielle’s man calls her Elle.”
“So that you can be your true, sexual self when you’re with me?”
Nicole – Nikki – smiled at him. Then she turned back to the window. She grasped the window frame in either hand and spread her feet apart on the carpet.
As Ben stepped close to Nikki and pressed himself against her he heard her whisper, “I hope we don’t get caught, but it’s not up to me. I’m like you, Elle. I’m his.”