Miles Apart on Date Night

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I still don’t understand why she came here. It wasn’t as if our lives were empty or lacked for happiness, but she came anyway, and then all of this darkness was dragged out of me and I don’t know how to put it back. I want her to go, but I’m terrified that she will. I want her to leave me and her sister in the peace of our life together, but the stronger, hungrier parts of me couldn’t care less about my girlfriend. I’m afraid that my girlfriend will find out, or that she knows already.

If I had been just a little stronger a few months ago, this may never have happened. It was a moment where my girlfriend was perched on a stool in the kitchen of our apartment, talking on the phone to her mother. She’s very good at false astonishment and faked sympathy; and I was paying only cursory attention, until she was looking at me with expectant eyes. I raised my eyebrows to indicate I didn’t understand what she wanted from me.

“I don’t know how long she could stay,” Jessica was saying. “We’re always pretty busy around here.” She looked at me with the expectant eyes again, though more frustrated now than anything. I returned a glance that indicated ignorance in the subject matter, although that was not really true. I had gathered from the half of a conversation that Jessica’s little sister was leaving her sparring partner of a husband after three months of wedded bliss, and their mother thought our roomy two-bedroom walk-up was the perfect place for the sister to decompress.

I pretended ignorance because I didn’t care, and because Jessica knew exactly what I thought about Charlotte. My Jess was the middle child of her family, with a brother three years older, and then the sister who was seven years younger, which led me to surmise that the latter was the result of an error-filled evening for her mother and father. Whatever the circumstances, she was so much younger that this little sister was the apple of her parents’ eyes, and had been spoiled to a fault. She wasn’t responsible for any part of her life, she was miserable to be around when everything wasn’t going her way, and she ran to her father for money at least once a month. He gave it to her with little more than a stern look and a grumbled admonition.

I say I should have been stronger, because I could have ended the problem with Charlotte at that very point. Had I shaken my head and told my girlfriend “absolutely not,” then no little sister. But, as it was, I had been trying to win over her parents ever since we decided to move in together. They were traditionalists, ol’ Mom and Pop, and were unhappy about my corrupting of their daughter. Ours had been a mutual decision, of course, but I was the villain. I had every intention of marrying Jess, and I told them as much, even to the point of making a joke about sharing expenses, which didn’t go over at all well. But I was trying to get on their good side, and if Charlotte in our spare bedroom accomplished that, then I wasn’t going argue. Jess wanted me to, and that was why she gave me the look. I felt bad hanging her out to dry like that, but I was a little tired of me always being the jerk.

It wasn’t more than a day later that I came home from work and Mom and Pop were in my living room, talking to Jess about how sweet she was to take the poor thing in. And there was Charlotte, on my favorite part of the sofa. I put on my happiest face and said hello to everyone. Jess must have been lobbying in my favor, because everyone smiled back, including Mom and Pop. We ordered pizza and talked for a while, the five of us. I helped Pop move a few things into the spare bedroom, and he shook my hand. Mom hugged me when she left, and gave me a beaming, toothy smile. To top it all off, Charlotte retired to her new room when her parents left, leaving me alone with my girlfriend for the rest of the evening. Things weren’t too bad at that point.

The next day was different. I work long days at the Post Office, and I like to come home to relax for a bit before we eat. Jess works too, although hers is clerical, and she tends to be less tired. We compromise by getting cozy on the sofa for a bit until it’s time to make dinner or go grab something. I walked in the door with kicked-off shoes and ESPN on my mind. The first thing I heard was the stereo playing some pop fluff, and I came around the corner to find Charlotte laying on the couch in a tank top and underwear. She jumped up at once and scrambled into the bedroom, shouting apologies the whole way. When she came back out, there were sweatpants over the underwear.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, both hands cupped around her mouth like a beak. “I thought Jess came home first.”

I laughed it off. “I’m sorry, too. No, Jess is in the middle of a project, and she’s had some late nights getting it done.”

Charlotte shook her head. “Sorry, I feel like such an idiot.”

“Hey, whatever you do in private is your business,” I said, laughing. “Just remember I get home about four-thirty.”

Jess came in the door about ninety minutes of güvenilir bahis awkward silence later, and Charlotte retold the story for her at once. My girlfriend chuckled, rolled her eyes at her little sister and said: “Why was it okay if it was me? What makes you think I want to see you in your underwear?” I was in the kitchen ordering Chinese food, and I had to ask the guy to wait a second because I was laughing so hard.

Dinner was fine, we eat there at least once a week and it’s always the same. The conversation was interesting and animated, especially considering it was Jessica’s snotty little sister we were talking to. She told us all about her marriage to Mike the drunk, the few good times they had, and most of the bad. Above all, how she realized that ten years between them was too much of an age difference. We responded with good-natured teasing and genuine concern.

Jess must have been feeling the bottle of wine we opened for dinner, because she even expressed her opinion that Mom and Pop hadn’t taken Charlotte back because they were trying to get her to grow up a bit. No sooner were those words out that we gave each other a quick, panicky look, fearing she had just shattered the pleasant buzz. But little Charlotte surprised us, and just nodded. “I know that’s why,” she said. “And they’re probably right.”

Most of my other memories of that first evening together are blurred or lost, all except Charlotte’s tank top. She never bothered to change into other clothes during the course of the night, and as we sat talking under the bright cone of light over the kitchen table, I was staring at her breasts. The shirt was white and tight, and I was fairly certain she didn’t have a bra on underneath. I tried to look away, of course, but my eyes always found their way back. She had at least three inches of cleavage showing as she was hunched over the table talking. I tried to keep my glance moving, but that caught my eye for most of the night. At one point, her nipples were making small bumps in the fabric, and Jess got up to pour some more wine. I looked up from the tight tank top and found Charlotte’s eyes watching me. My heart shook and I must have looked stricken, because she smiled. I found an apologetic expression, put my hand to my face and mouthed the word: sorry. She returned a glance that was half smiling and the other half puzzled. Then Jess sat back down and the conversation picked back up. We all went to bed late that night.

I was tired the next day, although I had a story for the guys at work: My girlfriend’s sister is staying with us. Yeah. Eighteen years old. EIGHTEEN. Yeah. When I came home yesterday she was laying around in her underwear. Yeah. In her underwear. Yeah. Understandably, I was the hero of the day, and more than one person tried inviting himself over.

Things were more or less normal for the next week or so. Charlotte was fully dressed each time I came home, and we laughed about it each time, for good measure. Jess was finishing with her project and her work days were ending earlier each day. We decided to celebrate by going to dinner and a movie the next night, which was a Friday. In a fit of good cheer we even decided to invite Charlotte, who graciously declined and said we ought to have some time alone together.

The next day I raced home from work, excited about our date evening. Jess was already home, which I found odd, and when I walked in neither the stereo nor the television was turned on. It was curious enough that I called out and strode into the bedroom. She was in there with a suitcase propped open on the bed and throwing clothes in. Her packing was laced with angry epithets and mild profanity, which was the only kind of profanity she ever used.

“Is everything all right?” I was panicked, as any man might be to come home and find the woman he loves furious and packing her bags.

She paused a moment to look at me, then look at the bags and look at me again. At once she started laughing and walked over to put her arms around me. “Sorry, sweetie,” she said. “I didn’t realize what this might look like.”

I was laughing, too, but more out of relief. “So, what is it, if it isn’t what it looks like?”

She shook her head and the glint of frustration came back. “We sent the project off, but the client is wavering. Jack wants me and Lucinda to fly to L.A. and hold his hand until he decides.”

“Why can’t he just send Lucinda? She’s the manager, you just work there.”

Jess put on an exaggerated, toothy grin, and gestured to her face. “Jack thinks a pretty face may be enough to sway the deal. He wants our best foot forward, his words exactly.”

I shook my head. “I think that qualifies as sexual harassment.”

“Probably,” Jess agreed with a laugh. “I should sue.”

“I’m serious,” and I showed her my serious expression to drive home the point.

“It’s all right. It’s not that big of a deal, and Lucinda thinks she needs me there. If it was anyone else I’d tell them to screw themselves, though.”

I türkçe bahis agreed with a nod. “When do you go, then?”

Jess glanced at the clock and started packing again. “I’m supposed to be at the airport in an hour.”

“Tonight? But I was excited about our date night.”

She walked over, shirt in hand, to give me a hug and a quick kiss. “I know, me too. It’s only tonight and tomorrow night, though. We fly in early Sunday. We’ll do lunch and a movie”

I smiled and kissed her back. “I’ll take it. Let’s get you to the airport, then.”

So we packed her bag and I carried it out to my car. “Where’s Charlotte, anyway?”

“I think she was going to a job interview,” Jess said. “You know how she is. No note, no message on the machine, just gone.”

“I thought you two were getting along.”

“I’m sorry, you’re right: we are,” she conceded. “There’s just a lot of years of the spoiled little girl to wade through.”

“Well, you’re doing a great job, I think. It’s a nice thing for you to let her stay with us.”

“Thank you.” Jess patted my leg and grinned. “It was nice of you to let me make the decision and pretend like you didn’t know what was going on.”

I smiled and ducked my head, but had no response.

At the airport she kissed me and got out. “Try to be nice to my sister while I’m gone, okay?”

“We’ll be fine.”

“Thanks sweetie. I’ll call you.”

I was in a contemplative mood driving home, and I guess that more than anything explains why I was so quiet coming in the door. I didn’t think to knock, of course, because it was my apartment. I didn’t think to call out that I was home, because I was lost in irritation that my girlfriend was gone for the weekend. But I unlocked the door, walked in, and closed the door behind me, quiet as a mouse. I had taken my jacket off and was about to toss the keys on the counter when I heard the strange noises.

Instead of tossing, I set the keys on the counter and listened. At first it sounded like low talking, and as I concentrated, it sounded like crying. It was only a few steps to the bedroom where Charlotte was staying, and where the sound seemed to be coming from. When I look back on the incident, it should have been obvious what was going on, or at least a good, working guess. But the door was standing wide open and I looked in anyway.

The door was in one corner of the small room, and the head of the bed was in the opposite corner, running along the wall in my direction. My view was clear of the bed, and Charlotte lying on top of it. She was reclined, propped up on a few pillows. The first thing I really noticed was the large swath of her stomach open to my view, and as I looked at that, the whole picture came into focus. She ran her palm across the bare stomach, and up underneath the shirt which was bunched under her breasts. I watched as the hand cupped her breast under the shirt, and her thumb stroke across the stiffened nipple. Her other hand was hidden down the front of her shorts, although I could see the muscles in her forearms flexing, and the shape of her hand was moving quickly. The noise I thought was talking or crying turned out to be a quiet moaning.

I was transfixed. I have no idea how long I stood there, watching, but it could only have been a few seconds. The decent thing would have been to turn away at once, though I didn’t, so every second was just gaping. First at her feet, flat on the bed, and her legs, bent and the knees and spread apart. I watched the skin of her stomach and her own hand pulling gently at her breasts. From my angle I couldn’t see where her other hand was making contact under her shorts, but I looked at where her wrist disappeared, and what of the movement I could see.

At last I looked up at her expression as it was pinched in concentration and desire. She had a slight smile and an open mouth, and her eyes were closed. She was beautiful in this moment of pleasure, and I was more drawn to her face than anything else I had seen.

Suddenly, she opened her eyes and noticed a figure lurking in the doorway. With a sharp gasp and a violent start, she pulled her hands away from her body and pushed herself up to sitting on the bed. I jumped in shock as well, and turned and walked away from the door, calling out “I’m sorry I’m sorry” over and over again. I heard her feet hit the floor and quick, thumping steps over to the door. It slammed closed behind me.

I was standing in the kitchen ten minutes later when the door creaked open again. I pulled in the knob of a cupboard and stared inside as if deciding what to make for dinner, and also because I thought it looked less guilty, somehow. She appeared in the kitchen, having taken much quieter steps than those she stormed across her bedroom with.

“Hey.”

I looked over at her, determined to meet her eyes only. I succeeded in that, but in my periphery, still managed to notice she was still wearing the same t-shirt and gym shorts. I looked down at the floor and shook my head. güvenilir bahis siteleri “I’m really really sorry, Charlotte.”

“That’s okay.” Her tone was determined, as if dismissing my apology for being beside the point.

“No, I feel terrible. I’m sorry.” I was shaking a bit now, and I was afraid to look up from the floor. I’m not even certain why, because I wasn’t afraid of her, and I could only assume it was shame or self-loathing.

“Really, it’s okay.” She took a step closer. “It’s not a big deal.”

I looked at her then, making as sheepish a face as I could. “I should have let you know I was home. I shouldn’t have been watching you.”

Charlotte laughed then, and the sound of it washed relief over me. “Don’t worry about it,” she said with smile. “Look at you, I think you’re shaking.”

I laughed too, less for humor than a release of tension, which I seemed to be doing often that evening. “I just felt terrible. I was certain you were angry, and I didn’t know what that would do to the new relationship you have with Jess. I thought I had ruined everything for the two of you.”

“No, of course not. Why would you think that?”

“Well, the stomping feet and the slammed door was my first clue.”

Charlotte rolled her eyes. “I forgot about that. I wasn’t really mad. You startled me so much, and once I realized it was you, then I was embarrassed. In fact, I came out here to apologize to you.”

“Apologize to me? What for?”

Red was spreading across her cheeks, which was charming to see. “I thought it might bother you that I was doing that.” I gave her a teasing look, so she continued. “You know what I mean, it’s like being caught by your dad. He may not say anything, but you know he disapproves.”

I was smiling now, a genuine smile this time, and much relieved. “I’m not your dad. I don’t care.”

I could see that she was relieved, as well. As if on impulse, she stepped over and gave me a hug, which I returned. “Good, now that we’ve got that out of the way,” she said, “why are you home? And where’s Jess?”

The fiasco with the project and the ruined date night was explained as we ordered and waited for pizza. She told me about her job interview and the position she thought she was going to be offered. We spoke in the exaggerated, overly energetic tones of two people who are trying hard to reconcile differences through friendship. After dinner, she watched the third period of a hockey game on TV with me, more to be appeasing, I think, than anything. After that she excused herself to go read in her room. I resisted the urge to tease her about other things she might be doing in there.

I flipped channels for a while and settled on an action movie, one I had seen dozens of times and could watch with only half my attention. As the hour grew late, I was having a difficult time concentrating on anything but the sharply focused images of Charlotte on the bed. I felt guilty about my mental leering after our expressions of understanding, but my blood was rushing hotter because of it.

I stood up and walked around a bit, closing the blinds against the night and making sure our doors were locked. I turned off all the lights except one in the hall and Charlotte’s light was still on. I sat down to continue the movie, and decided I lay my head back and doze.

Nothing worked to clear my mind. I never fell asleep, and when I closed my eyes, the images became more clear. I thought about taking a shower and matching Charlotte’s act of self- pleasure with one of my own, but I didn’t move from the couch. It was while I was in this vein of thought that the phone rang, and Jess was calling to let me know she was okay.

We only talked for a few minutes. She gave me a quick rundown of her evening and what they were going to do tomorrow. She told me she was fine, and that her room was nice. I told her that I missed her terribly, and I wished I could have gone along. She had me write down her return flight information, and told me she was already excited for Sunday. We said “I love you” to each other and hung up before the long distance bill could ring up.

I flopped back down on the couch, and Charlotte came padding out of her room to join me. She sat on the other end of the sofa, using the arm rest as a back rest and folding her feet up next to her. “I like this show,” she said. I looked over at her, and in the darkness of the room, the light from the television and the hallway flickered and made bright spots in her eyes. “Me too,” I said, and before looking back at the television I looked at where her thighs disappeared into her shorts.

“That was Jess,” I said. “She’s doing good, and says hi.”

“Good.”

We watched TV in silence for a while. I grew bored with the movie, but didn’t suggest changing it because she was concentrated on the show. She looked over at me and rubbed her knees. “I’m getting cold. Would you mind if I sat with you?”

“You want to sit over here with me?” I had heard her just fine, but the question surprised me.

“Yeah.” She scooted over before I could answer. “You look nice and warm over here and I’m freezing.” She shoved her hip up against mine, and burrowed under my arm, which I had thrown across the back of the couch.

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