fight

Disclaimer: I do not own Street Fighter, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.



The characters in this story are the intellectual property of someone else. No revenue was generated from the posting of this story. In other words, it’s just for fun.




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Ryu’s kick barely grazed the top of her head. Sakura Kasugano had seen him follow up a missed Dragon punch with a kick to the face countless times. Since she was a little girl, she’d been watching Ryu compete. After training on her own for years, Ryu finally agreed to take her Sakura on as a student shortly after her nineteenth birthday. The last four years had been the best of her life. She got to spend everyday doing what she loved with her idol.



Ryu proved to be a wonderful master to her. Sakura taught herself to fight by spending countless hours a day mimicking Ryu’s fighting style. Her technique was sloppy, but effective. So instead of completely breaking her down, he built on her unique style. Sakura was very proud of the improvements she’d made and the notoriety that her flamboyant twist on the Shotokan style was getting in the world of martial arts.



The only thing she didn’t like was her relationship with Ryu. Sure, he was kind and respectful, and that was exactly what she hated. All this time, living under the same roof, sharing a bathroom, staying up all night talking, and he never made a move on her. She’d always thought Ryu was handsome, hell, that’s why she began watching him fight. But after actually getting to know him, she’d fallen in love with him.



Sakura’s contemplation was broken when she saw Ryu beginning his fireball motion. She leapt in the air with a whirlwind kick, but it was a fake. As Sakura spun through the air right into Ryu’s hands. Ryu caught her leg and pinned her to the ground. “Your lack of patience is your weakest attribute,” he said with a smile.



“I know,” said Sakura, “I’ll get it.”



“Come on I’ll make you some dinner,” said Ryu as he helped her up.



**********************



After they finished their meal, Ryu told her that he had a gift for her. He went into his bedroom and brought out a gift box.



“The next World Warrior’s Tournament is coming up,” Ryu explained, “and I’d like you to wear this when you compete.”



“When I compete?!!” Sakura was ecstatic. She hadn’t been in the WWT since Ryu began training her. In her first appearance in the tournament, she didn’t have the best of showings. In the first round, she was able to beat Karin Kanzuki, one of the few entrants who was around her age. However, she was badly beaten in the second round by Balrog. Sakura’s fearlessness actually worked to her disadvantage. The much larger Balrog, a former undisputed heavyweight champion in boxing, knocked her out in just eight seconds. The WW crowd, which is infamous for it’s verbal abuse toward fighters who don’t give them their money’s worth, was was shockingly quiet following her loss. They even applauded when she was able to leave the ring under her own power. Balrog’s reputation was well known: he’d killed his last opponent in defense of his WBO title. After his quick win over Sakura, Balrog was quoted as saying, “I ain’t interested in whipping on kids. I pulled that hook – just a tap, knowhatimsayin’? I got grown-ass muthafuckas to bury.” Ryu knew that it wasn’t safe for such a novice fighter to enter such a competitive contest. Now, however, Sakura’s skill matched her natural talent. Now, she wasn’t just brave, but prepared. He knew she couldn’t win, but she was definitely ready to compete.



Sakura opened the box and inside was a white headband embroidered with the word “cherry blossom” in Japanese.



She sat looking at it for a while in amazement. Then, not knowing what to say, she dived over the table and gave Ryu a big hug. Sakura began wearing a white headband to be more like her idol in high school. She’d never told Ryu, but he knew. “You’re great fighter and a wonderful person, it’s been an honor to teach you.”



“This is the most wonderful day of my life,” Sakura replied. Her eyes watered as she spoke. “I’m going to make you proud.”



Ryu had more on his mind, however. “Now that you have mastered the advanced techniques of Shotokan karate, I feel that you are ready to hear of the great tragedy.”



“Your master’s death?” asked Sakura.



“Yes. Master Gouken trained myself, Retsu, Ken, and Dan.”



“You and Dan trained at the same dojo?” Sakura was shocked.



“Yes, but Dan was dismissed for his interest in the Killing Techniques,” Ryu continued, “Master Gouken knew the danger of these techniques first hand. His younger brother, Gouki, used them on their master, Goutsetsu shortly after learning them. My master refused to use the techniques after Goutsetsu’s murder. He died for his convictions. When Gouki challenged him, he was unable to defend himself against his brother’s demonic power.”



“I don’t understand. Why haven’t you killed him yet?” asked Sakura. “You can’t let him get away with that!”



“There is an appropriate time for everything,” Ryu replied.



“Oh please,” Sakura was getting exasperated, “You’ve won the last eight World Warrior Tournaments! Hey, why hasn’t he ever entered the tournament.”



“He has,” Ryu explained, “he won the tournament about fifteen years ago under the name Akuma.”



“Akuma killed your master?!!” exclaimed Sakura. “He lives ten miles from here! Let’s go,” Sakura said stood, “we can be there before nightfall if we leave now.”



“Sit down,” Ryu ordered, “you’re not going anywhere near Demon Mountain. He’s killed Retsu and countless others. Proud young fighters who think they can turn themselves into instant legends by defeating Akuma. When I prove myself to him, he will come for me.”



“What the hell is wrong with you?!..” Sakura began, before being cut off.



“You have no idea what you’re dealing with,” Ryu explained. “You’re just going to have to trust me. We’ve made a pact with him. You see, there were only four worthy Shotokan masters at the time of Master Gouken’s death: Gouki, Retsu, Ken, and myself. When Retsu was ready, Akuma challenged him in a fight to the death. Either Ken or I will be next. When we are ready.”



Sakura was getting increasingly impatient by the second. “It sounds like to me he’s made a hit-list and you two are just sitting back and waiting. I don’t get this. I just don’t get it.”



“I know,” said Ryu, sympathetic to her point of view. “You have much to learn about our ways. That is the reason you are here. Anyone can learn to fight. Your destiny, Sakura, is much greater.”



“I want to understand, I really do,” she replied.



“I know you do. Rest up, we have much work to do in the morning.” With that, Ryu retired to his bedroom.



*************************



At about midnight, Sakura snuck out of the dojo and started toward Demon Mountain. “He’s not killing Ryu’s master and getting away with it. Not while I’m still breathing.”



Chapter 2



Sakura felt exhilarated after her early morning hike. She approached Demon Mountain eagerly searching for Akuma. After a long search, she happened upon a cave. Standing at it’s mouth was the legendary Akuma himself. It was almost as though he was waiting for her. “Leave, or die,” Akuma ordered.



“The only person here who’s dying is you,” asserted Sakura.



“Well, young one, you must perish.” With that, Akuma stomped the ground and got into his fighting stance. The ground shook under Sakura’s feet.



“He’s strong,” Sakura thought, “but so am I!”



She unwrapped the new headband Ryu had given her from around her belt and tied it around her head. This was the perfect arena. Fifty yards of prairie surrounded them with nothing but the moon to light their way. “You won’t live to see sunrise, Gouki.” Sakura started to charge Akuma, but remembered past lessons. She stayed back and waited.



After a few moments, Akuma charged up his chi and launched a fireball at Sakura. He could throw fireballs much more quickly than Ryu could, which surprised Sakura. Regardless, she managed to sidestep it and hit Akuma with a hard right hand. As she attempted to follow with a left, Akuma grabbed her arm and threw her over his shoulder. Using her incredible agility, Sakura managed to flip out of Akuma’s throw. She landed on her feet and immediately sprang forward with a whirlwind kick. In less than a second, she had kicked him three kicked times.



Sakura tried to keep her onslaught up by throwing a fireball. She’d made her first mistake. Akuma quickly launched a much stronger fireball at her. It tore right through Sakura’s fireball and hit her in the sternum. Sakura was sent flying at least fifteen feet. She picked herself up as waves of pain shot through her chest. She started to throw a fireball, so Akuma countered with a whirlwind kick of his own. “Ha, now I’ve got you,” Sakura thought to herself as electricity crackled around the whirling Akuma.



“Shoryuken!!” With a yell that echoed through the valley, Sakura’s body became engulfed in a force field as she sprinted toward her opponent. As she reached Akuma, she rose into the air and landed her specialized version of the dragon punch with razor sharp precision. Sakura’s fist hit Akuma in the groin, abdomen, chest, and face before sending him high into the air. As Sakura’s body turned, Akuma, was already re-orienting himself. Akuma fired three fireballs right into Sakura’s spine, sending her crashing into the ground. He then changed direction in midair, intent on stomping Sakura’s head into the dirt below. She managed to roll behind him, but before she could capitalize, Akuma kicked her in the side of the head. She attempted to get to her feet, but Akuma kicked her in the stomach. His punt sent her rolling across the grassland. When her momentum stopped, she rolled over on her stomach and vomited.



Once more, Sakura managed to struggle to all-fours. She could see Akuma’s feet right next to her and attempted to hit him, but the pain was to great. Her back and stomach had taken a tremendous beating. She couldn’t even lift her arms above her head. Akuma grasped a handfull of her hair and dragged her to her knees, “You are not worthy serve at my feet, let alone challenge me. I breathe death.”



Sakura struggled to speak, “You killed Ryu’s master… I couldn’t… Gouki…”



Akuma was insulted by her use of his birth name. She had proven herself a novice in his eyes. Akuma growled, “You do not address me by name!!” He then gripped both sides of her face with both hands and stared into her eyes. He waited to see the fear. To taste the despair of a young fighter who had greatly overestimated herself.



Instead, Sakura looked him in the eye and calmly stated, “You’ve won, I accept death at your hands.”



Akuma was enraged. He had accurately assessed her as a fighter, but underestimated her as a warrior. “You’re Ryu’s student,” Akuma said, “and therefore, you must suffer.”



With that, Akuma dropped her in the grass at his feet. Then, Akuma’s gi fell to the ground in front of her.



“This asshole is going to try to rape me!” Sakura thought as she tried to scramble away through the grass.



Akuma’s eyes turned bright red as he let the few shreds of humanity he had slip away. He teleported to her and ripped her gi and underwear from her athletic frame. This assault sparked a renewed vigor in Sakura, and she weakly kicked Akuma in his face repeatedly. But no matter how hard she tried to free herself, he just shrugged her off.



Sakura found herself saying “no” to herself repeatedly as she struggled against him. Akuma grabbed her shoulders and forced her onto her back. She found herself pinned to the ground, with her feet on Akuma’s broad chest. She was now screaming “NO” into moonlit wilderness as Akuma’s dick inched closer and closer to her pussy. With all her might she pushed him away with her feet, but Akuma was literally possessed. As the head of his cock penetrated her well-trimmed sex, she remembered having not felt that since high school. Sakura bit her lip, strained, and pushed. All the while, Akuma kept sliding inside her.



Once Akuma had fully penetrated her, he began robotically thrusting. Sakura looked up at him to find him staring off into space. He just fucked away as she clawed at his arms, chest, and face, failing to draw blood. She continued to try to push him off with her feet for a few more seconds, then he came. She watched Akuma pull out of her and shove his cock between her thighs. Thick semen spiralled onto her breasts and stomach. Little pools of cum formed in between her well defined abs. With one last hard thrust, a stream of cum arched over her face. Just a drop or two landing on her forehead.



Sakura frantically wiped at the sticky fluid on her torso, but was quickly dragged to her knees by her face. Akuma held her head in place with one hand, and pinched her nostrils closed with the other. As soon as she parted her lips to take a breath, Akuma forced his cock into her mouth. She bit and gnawed on his dick, but it was pointless. Akuma just mercilessly face fucked her with all his might. His rock hard abdomen banged against her nose. His balls slapped her chin. Finally, he pushed his cock to the back of her throat and came. Semen bathed the back of her throat without warning, causing her to choke. His massive load began spilling out of her nose as he let her go.



Sakura was face down in the grass again, coughing. Before she could regain her bearings, Akuma was penetrating her from behind. He grabbed her arms and pulled them up behind her, thrust four or five times, and sprayed his demonic seed all over her back.



“Arrghk!” Sakura gurgled as she was yanked backward. She clutched her neck as pain shot through her. She was now looking up at the moonlit sky that she enjoyed on her hike toward her doom. Sakura began reaching for anything to support her weight. She held up her lower body on her toes; but her upper body was being completely supported by her neck.



Sakura groaned as she tried to straighten herself and grabbed onto Akuma’s hips. Lightning struck in the distance behind them. An obscene silhouette formed as Akuma pushed his cock into her mouth. Her eyes opened wide as she gurgled around his seemingly expanding dick. He watched as her throat bulged as he forced himself into her esophagus. Sakura wretched and convulsed. With demonic delight, Akuma watched every muscled in her lith body contract. Her powerful thighs thrust her hips back and forth. Sakura’s abs flexed repeatedly. Her long, lean triceps contracted as she tried to force him away. The young warrior’s futile attempts to escape excited him. Akuma fucked her face again. His balls slapped her nose. She took short breaths as his cock withdrew from her throat for mere moments at a time. It seemed like hours, but it was actually only seconds before he came. Jets of cum filled her Sakura’s stomach. It was brief, however, for she quickly vomitted for the second time.



***************************



As always, Ryu awoke at 4:30 in the morning.



“Sakura, let’s get some breakfast before our morning session,” Ryu called as he walked past her room. But she wasn’t there. “Oh no!” Ryu sprinted out the door toward Demon Mountain.



***************************



Akuma had Sakura on her back once again. “Please, no. I… no,” Sakura whimpered as Akuma roughly penetrated her ass. He picked her up and held her up by her ass cheeks. Sakura’s battered, cum-stained body left to dangle in the air since she didn’t have the strength to hold herself up. Her grunts were timed with his thrusts. Her ass burned as Akuma brutally raped her. She crashed to the ground as ropes of jizz splashed across her body.



“Just kill me,” Sakura pleaded with Akuma. Cum was now running from his cock non-stop like a faucet. Akuma then mounted her torso and grabbed her wrists. He took the back of her hands in each of his, and laced his fingers through hers. Akuma used her palms to push her round little tits togther. Using his thumbs to align his dick inbetween her breasts, he began thrusting. Using his own cum for lubrication, Akuma mechanically slid his cock in and out of Sakura’s cleavage. Sakura squirmed in pain as Akuma fucked her firm tits as hard as he could. His balls were stimulated as they slid up and down Sakura’s sternum. His dick pulsed and he came again; his cum splashing against her chin and coating her neck and chest.



The more Akuma fucked her, the more he lost himself in his own madness. He turned Sakura over such that she was now face down. He then bent her backward such that her body was shaped like a “C”. Her mouth opened wide as her spine numbed from the unnatural contortion. Akuma entered her pussy and fucked her as hard as he could manage from this squating position. Her chin dug into the turf. Her arms spasmed each time her spine contracted. “I’m being fucked to death…” Sakura thought as Akuma bended her further and further while he pounded her pussy.



Just when she thought she couldn’t take anymore, without pulling out, Akuma jerked upward and knelt down, leaving Sakura on her back. She was momentarily relieved that she didn’t break in half. Gradually, Akuma was coming back to his senses. He slowed his thrusting and looked at cum-stained woman beneath him. The red glow in his eyes subsided. Defeated, but not broken, Sakura mangaged to whimper, “You’ll pay for this, demon.”



“And who will collect said payment?” Akuma asked. “You? Your pathetic master? You live only because I let you.” Akuma pulled out of her pussy and entered her ass once more. He began gripping and kneeding her tits. He then grabbed her left thigh and pushed it forward. Akuma then took hold of Sakura’s foot and began untying her shoe. After all he had done to her, Sakura was surprised at her disgust with the sight of the monster licking her toes. She turned her head and shut her eyes tight while Akuma enjoyed her body. Akuma slipped his right index finger in her mouth as he pounded her asshole and sucked her toes. He pumped in and out of her, gradually increasing speed. Akuma could feel himself about to come in her tight asshole.



Akuma stopped thrusting, leaned toward Sakura’s ear, and whispered, “I think it’s time you experience how low on the food chain you really are.” He pulled out of her asshole and grabbed her jaw. “No… I won’t let you!” Sakura thought as Akuma attempted to pry her jaws open. She began to cry as she could feel her teeth parting. Once she started crying she couldn’t stop. The taste was worse than anything she’d ever imagined. But the worst part was Akuma’s laugh. He tilted her head upward so she could watch him satisfy his lust with her own mouth. The head of his filthy cockhead slid from her front teeth to her gullett and back again. She watched in horror as his smile turned into a grimace and she knew he was going to climax again. There was something different this time. Sakura began sobbing harder as the reality of her violation set in. Akuma slid his cock from in between her lips and jerked himself frantically in her face. Sakura shut her eyes tight as a thick glob of semen hit her eyelid. Another shot of jizz landed on her cheek. He wiped the rest of his semen on her lips and stood up.



Akuma looked down at Sakura, finding the sight of her ravaged body beneath him captivating. Completely dominated, her long, lean muscles glazed with dried semen. As he stood there, studying her, he decided his masterpiece was not complete. Akuma took hold of his flaccid penis and stood over Sakura. With no fight left in her, the fallen warrior managed just a whimper as Akuma’s urine splashed across her face.



Akuma picked Sakura up by her face one last time. He briefly listened to her labored breathing before surmising that she may not be aware of what’s going on anymore. So, he decided to tell her one last thing before she passed out, “You will not survive our next encounter.” Feeling as though he may not have made his point, Akuma decided to put an exclaimation point on his statement. In one motion, he pushed Sakura’s face down and brought his right knee up under her chin. As his knee crashed into her jaw, lightning crackled struck all around them. The crack of the blow sent concussive waves through her skull, knocking her unconscious. Akuma casually dropped her broken body in the grass. Satisfied, Akuma picked up his gi, and walked back into his cave.

Thanks to KevH for all his efforts in helping me with the writing and ideas. You went above and beyond the call my friend. Also thanks to DawnJ and especially Aruban for their encouragement and suggestions. This story took a very long time for me to complete, and I sincerely hope you find it worth the effort. Please be advised that of the four chapters, this is by far the shortest, and there are a limited number of sexual encounters throughout, so it might not be a story for everyone.



~~~~~



October, 1992



Darryl trudged through the run-down section of town on the South side of Chicago, oblivious to the surroundings. As he slowly trudged along, lost in his thoughts, he didn’t notice the group of poorly dressed youths standing in the alleyway, eyeing him closely.



“Well, what do you know?” a voice called out, jarring him from his reverie. “It’s the punk who thinks he knows everything. Since you’re so smart, maybe you should know better than to be showing your face around here without your protection.”



Darryl looked around nervously, his pulse racing. Trying to appear calm, he nodded an acknowledgement.



“Hey Ty,” he said, hoping the boys couldn’t hear the tremor in his voice. “I was just heading home.”



“Home,” the larger boy scoffed, “that’s exactly where you belong…home with your Momma!” The others laughed loudly, heightening Darryl’s distress.



“Look, man, I don’t want any trouble,” he pleaded, trying to sound confident, despite the knot he felt in his gut.



“Of course not,” came the mocking reply. “Since the sell-out isn’t here anymore to watch your back.” He glanced at the others with a menacing grin. “The geek here likes to pussy out when no one takes care of his business for him.” He turned back to the cringing youth. “Just like school. I got suspended for a week because of you, you fucking kiss-ass.”



Darryl put up his hands in supplication. “I didn’t do anything, Ty. She saw you cheating. Why are you blaming me?”



“She would have never seen me if it hadn’t been for you,” Ty spat. “I wouldn’t have to cheat if you didn’t fuck everything up for the rest of us. This shit is all your fault and you need to learn your place. You think all this science and shit means anything? You think you’re better than us?”



“No!” the smaller boy said, fear threatening to overwhelm him. He knew Ty was very dangerous and that he had to quickly find a way out of the situation. The boy had been increasingly aggressive toward him since they reached high school the previous year.



“I’m sorry you got in trouble, but it wasn’t my fault.”



Ty was no longer listening, his jealousy of the smarter boy adding to his frustration at his own failures. One of the other boys made a feint, drawing Darryl’s attention, and Ty stepped forward and sucker punched the defenseless youth in the side of the head.



Darryl stumbled back, holding his face in pain. “It isn’t fair!” he thought angrily. “It was never like this before.” The bitterness at constantly being picked on for almost a year built inside him, and before he could consider his actions, he swung wildly, catching the Ty flush on the jaw.



A hush fell over the group as he fell backward, landing with a loud thud. He hurriedly looked from face to face, seeing disbelief in their stares, mixed with scorn. Looking away in embarrassment, he seethed at being caught by surprise by someone he loathed. Darryl looked down at his hand, seemingly amazed that it could do so much damage. By the time he glanced back at his opponent, the light was reflecting off something in Ty’s hand. Before he had time to register the sight, a loud pop echoed in the still night.



Time seemed to stand still as he looked around, confused at why the boys were now backing away. “They can’t be scared of me,” he thought erratically. He was searching for something to say to diffuse the situation when his hand scraped across his chest, only to find it wet. Looking down, he was dismayed to see a stain on his good shirt.



What’s Mom gonna say?” he thought, hysterically. He covered the stain with his hand, only to see it spread. It was warm, but strangely he was feeling increasingly cold. The sound of footsteps running away barely registered as he fell to his knees, now clutching both hands against his chest, trying in vain to stop the bleeding.



“Why aren’t you here?” he gasped. “I need you.” His last thought before slumping forward was how worried his Mom would be when he didn’t come home on time. The pain faded as everything went dark and the sound of the approaching sirens faded from his hearing.



At that exact moment a mere thirty miles away, a thirteen year-old boy named Tim Sullivan, sat alone in his room in an upper-middle class suburb on the NorthWest side.



He couldn’t have imagined how that random act of violence committed against a boy he had almost nothing in common with would come to change his life…




~~~~~



October, 1999



Tim was a typical, unassuming sophomore in college. He was working on his Engineering degree, planning to make his living in the tech sector designing and troubleshooting electronic equipment. His friend Pete was an Engineer at a very successful telecommunications company and had guaranteed Tim a job when he graduated.



They first met during Tim’s junior year of high school at a job fair, and Pete immediately took the young man under his wing. At least part of the reason had to be pity. Tim was the textbook definition of a geek; skinny, average-looking, socially uncomfortable and wearing clothes that were the antithesis of cool.



Pete took one look at him and decided it was his mission in life to be Tim’s mentor. They talked all afternoon about grades, interests, and what Tim would have to do to land a serious job like his. For the next year and a half, Pete called every month. He also gave Tim his email address, in case he needed to talk.



He was a cool, successful man and helped his protégé find a way to turn himself around. By the time Tim graduated high school, he was moderately popular and actually had dated a couple of girls he wouldn’t have believed could be interested in him just a couple of years earlier. He was still a virgin, but figured college was just the place to take care of that.



Tim was lucky enough to be accepted by his first choice, the state school that had a reputation for having one of the finest engineering programs in the nation. Pete continued to be a role model for him, which Tim found incredibly helpful when he realized that college was actually going to be harder than high school instead of the non-stop party that he had so often envisioned.



The girls were beautiful, but mostly interested in the good-looking guys or the jocks. The school had a large number of wealthy students as well, which made guys like Tim feel out of place. In many ways, he felt like he was back in high school, before his transformation. Instead of dating, which seemed unlikely under the circumstances, he followed Pete’s advice about concentrating on studies. It paid off, as he maintained a 4.0 for his first year, despite a brutal course load.



During summer break, Pete was able to land him a temporary job. It was exactly what Tim needed, allowing him to put enough money in the bank to get ready for his sophomore year, which he vowed would be the one that would change everything in his personal life.



When Tim got back to school, he found that dealing with professionals at his work had changed him. There was a new confidence in him that friends and acquaintances immediately noticed, even if he hadn’t. He had his first date of the new semester within a week of classes resuming.



Tim began to enjoy the social aspects of college as well as his studies. He attended parties and dated fairly often, although none of them became serious. During midterms, there were several big parties thrown to wind down from the stress. Tim was invited to one by a guy he was tutoring in algebra. He said there would be a ton of great-looking women there and guaranteed he would make sure his friend was taken care of.



Tim agreed to attend, but assured him that he’d be fine with his love life. The truth was, he never admitted he was still a virgin, and the last thing he wanted was to be set up with an experienced girl, only to be embarrassed. Despite his desire to finally become a man, something told him to be patient until the time was right. Whether it was out of a romantic notion or abject fear was a subject he often pondered.



The party was insane. Walking through the door, he was immediately assaulted by mind-numbingly loud music and the din of people trying to yell over the top of it to be heard. The crowd was diverse; evenly divided between a number of different cliques he knew from around campus. Tim made his way through the house looking for his friend, which wasn’t easy considering the sheer number of people crammed inside.



He turned the corner toward the kitchen, scanning it for anyone he might know, hoping to not be stuck in that atmosphere alone. Just as he was about to move on, he saw her. Long straight brown hair, brown eyes, flawless skin, legs that seemed to go up forever and the cutest dimples he had ever seen on a woman. On top of it, she had a figure any model would kill for. Tim was lost before he took another step.



Normally he would have been so shy that he would likely have walked right past her, too intimidated to have any chance of making an impression. This time he definitely made an impression. He was staring so intently at her that the last thing he saw was her eyes as he walked directly into a wall, knocking himself unconscious.



The darkness gave way to a blurry light as Tim fought through the haze. He realized he was in a bathroom, lying in the tub with a towel against his face. He pulled it away and was alarmed to see it covered in blood.



“Don’t even think about touching that,” a soft voice told him firmly. “You’re going to get blood all over your clothes. I was worried you might have to go to the hospital. I’ve never seen anyone bleed that much before. You’re lucky I’m studying to be a nurse.”



His eyes finally began to focus and he shook his head, attempting to clear the fog. Unfortunately, the movement aggravated the pounding headache, he discovered. Unsteadily, he tried to stand, but soon found the room spinning.



“Whoa, there buddy,” came the same voice. “You better stay down until you’re feeling better.” He felt a hand softly but firmly urge him back to a prone position.



He finally looked up and realized to his utter humiliation that it was the woman he had been staring at. “Oh shit!” he muttered.



“What?” came the concerned reply.



“I…uh…nothing,” he stammered, suddenly wishing he could fit into the cracks in the wall.



He peeked over the blood soaked towel only to see that she was displaying a broad smile that felt like the warmest sunshine he’d ever experienced. “Did you just realize it was me you were looking at when you did your Wile E. Coyote impression?”



Tim briefly considered running from the room in shame, but figured he’d never make it to the door. At that precise moment, Pete’s voice rang in his head, telling him to stop being afraid. After all, considering what she’d seen, what was the worst thing that could happen?



“Well, I have to admit it wasn’t exactly my finest hour,” he said, trying to sound nonchalant. “But in my defense, I was distracted. I never saw an angel before, and assumed the laws of physics no longer applied.”



That brought a hearty laugh from the young woman. “Well, I’ve got to give you points for guts. Most guys wouldn’t have the nerve to try a line like that after what happened. My name’s Donna,” she said, extending her hand.



“Donna, my name’s Tim. Please forgive me if I don’t get up. If I try to stand, I’ll probably fall and you’ll have to call that ambulance after all.”



She laughed again and he took the opportunity to study her more closely. His first appraisal was entirely accurate. She was stunning. Her brown eyes were large and welcoming. Her lips were full, with just a hint of an upturn at the corners that gave her the appearance of a constant impish grin. Her hair flowed casually past her shoulders, framing her face in a easy, relaxed manner that bespoke of someone who didn’t spend hours primping to be beautiful. Together it was an image of someone friendly, kind and at ease with the effect they had on the opposite sex; someone who didn’t feel the need to pursue compliments, and didn’t choose to use their looks as a way to isolate themselves from others.



His moment of bravado immediately faded as it occurred to him that there was nothing he could offer her that a hundred guys at the party couldn’t top. He briefly wondered what it must be like for her to have every guy vying for her attention. The thought was utterly intimidating.



Tim’s retreated into the safety of his protective shell. How could anything I do possibly impress her…especially after what happened? he thought hopelessly.



Suddenly a thought occurred to him that was almost as painful as knowing she was the one who wound up taking care of him.



“So how many people know what I did downstairs?” he asked, not really wanting to know the answer.



Donna’s expression was far too amused for his comfort level. “Well, let me see. There is me, the two guys who carried you upstairs, the forty people in the room at the time, the rest of the house who came running to see, and by tomorrow, the rest of the campus who’ll see the pictures they took.”



Tim groaned at the thought. “Thanks, now I feel so much better. Did they teach you those bedside manners in class, or did you just come by them naturally?”



“Relax,” she assured him, her eyes sparkling with mirth. “If you have a sense of humor about it, it’ll blow over in a week or two. Otherwise I’m guessing you’ll be seeing the pictures on the bulletin board through Christmas at least.”



Deciding to play the only card he had available, Tim shrugged pathetically. “I don’t suppose you’d consider hanging out with me for a while? Strictly for moral support, of course,” he quickly added, trying not to sound too eager.



She smiled graciously. “I guess it’s the least I can do since it’s my fault you damaged yourself and your reputation.”



“Your fault?”



“Well,” she said with a sly grin, “if I didn’t look so good tonight, you’d be fine right now.”



He chuckled, but immediately regretted it due to the throbbing pain it caused. “Please don’t make me laugh.”



They spent the rest of the evening together, Donna dutifully staying by his side to deflect criticism. Tim took her advice and laughed at himself, immediately finding that most people warmed to him right away, even the jocks. When he explained why he walked into the wall, he even had a few girls tell him it was romantic.



The party finally wound down, and Donna told him she had to get back to her room to study. She gave him a quick hug. “This was really fun. Would you like to do it again some time?”



Tim answered immediately. “Are you free in an hour?”



They began spending a significant amount of time together after that, although it was strictly as friends. They did little things like eat lunch or study at the library. Occasionally she’d ask him to be her cover when she didn’t have a date for a party. Tim was surprised to find that her life wasn’t as perfect as he had assumed it was.



When she didn’t have someone with her there was a constant stream of guys trying to find the right combination of lines to separate her from her panties. It wasn’t what he assumed it would be like for her. In fact, he found it to be a little depressing. Rarely did anyone care about Donna or what she might want. It was just an endless series of sales pitches from guys looking to score, or have something to brag about to their buddies. Even having Tim standing next to her didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of many of the would-be suitors.



More than once a guy literally stepped between them to engage her in conversation, obviously believing his magnetic personality would make her forget about the dork she was with. She always reacted the same way to these types of slights toward Tim. She would graciously indicate that she was not interested, step around the man, then continue talking to Tim as if nothing had happened. He found it hysterical to watch the looks of disbelief as these men who considered themselves superior realized she was more interested in his company.



It was just after Christmas break when noticed the change in her behavior. Donna started asking him to go out with her more often and stopped making excuses about why. It was subtle and took over a month for him to be sure, but he eventually was positive the change was there.



On Valentine’s Day there was a party sponsored by her sorority that was ladies’ choice. Tim had heard about it and wondered what Donna’s choice would be, not to mention how he would feel about it. He had fallen hard for her, and despite her recent interest in him, she’d shown nothing that convinced him she felt as strongly. He tried not to get his hopes up, but couldn’t stop wishing she’d choose him.



The rules were a bit unusual. The girls weren’t allowed to ask out their dates until two weeks before the dance. Evidently it was to create a kind of competition for the most desirable guys. The day the girls were allowed to ask, Tim tried to stay confident, but deep down prepared himself to be sitting home that night.



About ten o’clock in the morning there was a soft knock at his door. Tim opened it to find Donna on the other side, fidgeting with her hands and looking uncharacteristically nervous. It surprised him because Donna always seemed to be confident and collected. He believed it came from having to deal with so much male attention. She was forced to be in control most of the time. It added to the perception that she was unattainable because most men rarely got to see her just being herself.



Those thoughts and about a hundred more flashed through his head as he watched her standing there uncomfortably. Tim knew before she said a word why she was there and had to hide his own hands, which were trembling in anticipation.



“Hi Tim.” She glanced at the floor, then took a deep breath. “Look, I wanted to ask if you’d like to go to the Valentine’s dance.”



He didn’t hesitate. “Of course I want to be your date, Donna,” he answered, unable to wipe the grin from his face. He glanced at his watch. “I’m just wondering what took you so long.”



With the tension of the moment relieved, she stuck her tongue out and they shared a laugh. Tim felt so at ease that without thinking, he leaned in and kissed her on the cheek, then hugged her tightly. He felt her stiffen, so he pulled back to see if he’d done something wrong.



She was looking at him differently than he ever remembered, almost expectantly. The intensity of her stare was mesmerizing. Tim felt fuzzy and realized that he was leaning in again, this time more slowly. It was like being caught in her gravity; he was unable to resist, or even consider what was happening.



A shudder ran through her body as their lips met. Her lips were soft and wet with a faint fruit taste from her lipstick. The scent of her perfume caused a surge through his body, almost causing his knees to buckle. Her lips parted and her tongue touched his lips, trying to part them. Tim tilted his head and let her tongue slip between, softly dancing against his own. The months of anticipation heightened the moment to an impossible level.



Her head tilted back and forth as she seemed intent on devouring his lips with her own, sending a second, more powerful surge through his body. This time his knees did buckle and he fell back against the doorframe. It broke the hold that the moment had on both of them and she pulled back, a little self-consciously.

“Wow!” was all he could manage.



“Yeah, that was a little unexpected,” she countered. “I’ve been wondering if you were ever going to get around to that.”



Tim looked at her, stunned. “Get around to it? You’ve been telling me for months that we’re just friends. Every time we go out to parties, it’s because you don’t have a date.”



She smiled, reminding him of a cat toying with its prey. “Don’t you understand anything about women, Tim? Sometimes you need to know when to be bold. Just like that.”



He shook his head in disbelief. “All this time I thought what was important was that I listened to you and respected your wishes. You were waiting for this the whole time?”



“Well …no,” she admitted. “If you’d tried that when we first met, it probably would be different. Things changed when I got to know you better. I can’t imagine how I could’ve been more obvious about what I wanted.”



His hands went up in surrender. “OK, I give up. I missed all the signs that I should’ve seen. Just do me a favor next time and use smoke signals, all right?”



Donna shook her head and muttered, “Guys are so clueless.”



She had to run to a class, so they kissed again, briefly. Then he watched her jog down the hallway, closing the door before allowing himself to scream in exultation. She turned briefly to smile at his reaction, and at the men stepping out of their room to see what the commotion was about.



For Tim, the next week was like something out of a dream. They spent every possible moment together, enjoying each other with an intimacy that until then he had refused to allow himself to hope for. Knowing she wanted to be with him as her boyfriend instead of just as a friend opened up a part of his heart he had kept guarded to protect myself. Until then, Tim had to pretend that it didn’t matter when she left him to go out with someone else, but the truth was that as much as he valued their friendship, it killed him to not be the one she wanted.



Because Tim and Donna had already spent so much time together, they quickly progressed from kissing to more intimate contact. The night before the dance they went even farther. It started with the fondling that had quickly become standard between them, but when he tentatively touched her sex over her jeans, she moaned her encouragement and trapped his hand with her own, grinding against his palm. Tim was amazed at the heat emanating through the thick material.



He moved his lips to her neck and she responded by tilting her head back. Tim took advantage of her distraction and popped the button of her jeans, quickly easing the zipper down. Sliding his hand inside, his fingertips stroked her labia through the silky material of her panties. He pulled them to the side and slipped a finger underneath. His risk brought an instant reward as she moaned lustfully and intensified her kiss.



Tim ran his finger around her outer lips, trying to discern what brought her pleasure. This moment had been on his mind since the moment they first kissed and he didn’t want to let her down. Since he was afraid he’d appear clumsy, he chose to pay attention to what she responded to and utilize that instead of having a specific technique he wanted to use.



Donna moaned louder and writhed on the bed as his stroking brought her closer to an orgasm. He felt a genuine sense of awe watching the woman of his dreams reduced to a sweating, moaning heap by his hand. Her breathing became more ragged and she was making small unintelligible noises.



Tim gently pushed his finger between her outer lips and slid it a couple inches inside, causing Donna to push her hips up off of the bed and wrap her fingers in his hair. She pulled his face down to hers and kissed him more aggressively.



He withdrew his finger and rubbed her clit again, causing her body to thrash uncontrollably. “That’s it baby, I’m so close! Please don’t stop,” she cried.



Tim rubbed across her clit with two fingers moving rapidly and she responded so loudly that he had to cover her mouth with his own so the entire hall wouldn’t hear. Her hips moved faster until suddenly she stopped, then her body arched up again, holding an impossible reverse bow position and he felt her leg muscles clenching uncontrollably. She screamed loudly enough that even covering her mouth didn’t have any effect.



Her body movements gradually slowed, eventually reduced to random twitches when he would hit a sensitive spot with his fingers. Tim thought his moment had finally arrived and stood to pull her jeans the rest of the way off.



“No Tim, not tonight,” she pleaded, her hands quickly pulling them from his grasp. He responded with a blank expression, confused at the sudden change.



“But, I thought …”



She stood up and pulled me against her, whispering in my ear. “Soon, I promise, just be patient a little longer.”



His comically disappointed expression almost caused her to giggle, but she held back, not wanting him to think she was mocking him.



Donna leaned close with a mischievous grin and whispered, “I promise to make it up to you.”



As the words came from her lips, Tim could feel her hands against his belt, deftly unbuckling it, then moving to the snap on his slacks. She quickly dropped them to the floor, then slipped her fingers under the waistband of his boxers. Her fingertips played across the tip, gathering the juices. Smearing it over the shaft, she wrapped her fingers around it and used the lubrication to slide her hand up and down more easily. Donna turned him around and pushed his shoulders gently until he was lying down on the bed, then knelt in front of him. Tim leaned back to relax and savor the sensation while she increased her pace. He watched as her hand became a blur, trying to push him to an orgasm.



“Ok baby,” she cooed, “now I want you to cum for me. Please Tim, I want to watch you. You feel so warm and hard, just cum for me.”



He couldn’t have imagined anything more erotic than watching the woman of his dreams stroking him while using that language. It pushed him too far to hold back, no matter how much he was relishing the moment.



His hips started moving of their own accord, and he groaned through clenched teeth, “Yes, just like that!” as he began to climax. At the last second, she dropped down and took the tip into her mouth, sucking hard and continuing to stroke the shaft. She continued to suck as his body went through spasm after spasm, leaving him drained emotionally and physically.



When his climax subsided, Tim looked at her and realized she had been watching him intently the entire time with just a hint of fascination. He also realized with a start that there was no trace of his ejaculation. He found himself overwhelmed at the idea she would do that for him, making him wish he could have been the kind of person who could say something beautiful and poetic. Instead he settled for caressing her cheek and reassuring her wordlessly. She slid up his body and they kissed. Since he couldn’t think of anything to say, Tim just put his arms around her and whispered, “Thank you.”



She gave me an impish grin. “So I’m forgiven?”



He managed to wearily return the smile. “I guess I can let you off with a warning this time.”



~~~~~



They had a wonderful time at the dance the next night. They laughed and joked with her friends, who all seemed to readily accept Tim and his new status as her boyfriend. He wasn’t much of a dancer, but didn’t want to force her to miss out, so he swallowed his pride and went out to the center of the floor with her as often as she wanted. The slow dances were his favorite, both because they were easier, and because it gave him a chance to see the envious stares of most of the men in the room.



After the party ended, Tim took her out for ice cream. He was a little worried that she’d think it was old fashioned, but neither of them was old enough to get into a bar, and he couldn’t bear to have the date end. Instead of being dull, the couple laughed and joked until the store closed and they were asked to leave. Donna seemed to have the grace to enjoy herself wherever she was, and the way she responded to him made Tim’s self-confidence soar.



Afterward, they walked across the campus hand in hand and stared at the moon. It was like a dream for him, the kind of date he’d always imagined. The fact that she seemed to enjoy it as much as he did made it that much harder when he ran out of things for them to do.



“Are you ready to go home?” he asked unhappily.



“Well, what are my alternatives?”



That’s a sign even I can’t miss, he told himself. “My roommate is gone for the weekend, so we could go to my room.”



She kissed him and enthusiastically agreed. Tim was hopeful that they were past whatever held her back before. The thought excited him beyond words, but was also frightening. He had performed really well, gauging by her reaction, but this was the one area where he felt especially vulnerable.



They reached his room and went inside without a word. Donna pulled him close and they kissed forcefully. “Now go sit on the bed and get ready,” she ordered.



He watched as she pulled her sweater over her head, drawing a groan from him at the sight.



“Oh that’s nice,” he cooed, torn between admiration of the sexy black bra with white lace flower borders and the sight of her breasts, only a hook away from being exposed to him for the first time.



“Why thank you,” she said with a proud smile. “I bought it just for you. Well, I bought both for you,” she purred as her slacks slid down her long legs. The matching panties were hi cut and transparent, allowing him to make out her dark triangle through the material.



Tim hurriedly shed his pants, but Donna sauntered over, touching his arm. “Slowly baby, we have all night.” She spun, giving him a beautiful view of her toned ass, then stepped away showing him her sexiest strut. She spun one more time then put out her hands.



“You like?”



Tim could only groan in appreciation.



She took his hands and brought them to her breasts, encouraging him to caress them. Tim lowered his mouth to her chest and kissed the top of each breast, then moved between them, running his tongue along her cleavage. She made a surprised yelp when he unhooked the clasp without letting her know he was even trying. I owe you one Pete, he thought happily, remembering his friend’s advice.



With trembling hands, he eased the sides away, watching as more of her skin was revealed until finally her light brown areola appeared. The bra caught on her nipples for just a moment, causing Tim’s breath to catch momentarily in anticipation. When it popped free, he tentatively reached out and cupped her breast, massaging the nipple with his thumb and forefinger, drawing a soft moan from her. They were spectacular; round and firm without a hint of sagging. Although not large, they complimented her body perfectly.



Leaning in, his lips slipped around her nipple while his fingers gently squeezed her other breast. Donna’s hand slid behind his head, pulling him tightly against her, encouraging him to be more aggressive. Tim responded by sliding his left hand to the front of her panties, easing his fingers under the waistband.



“Oh no,” she scolded. “This time you don’t distract me.”



She pulled away and quickly slipped the straps off her shoulders, letting the bra fall to the floor. Licking her lips seductively, she hooked her thumbs in the waistband of her panties and eased them tantalizingly down her hips. He watched unblinkingly as they slid lower and lower until she was fully exposed to him. Seconds later, they fell to the floor and she stepped out of them, her legs slightly apart, hips tilted, allowing him to take in all of her beauty. Tim reached out his hand, his fingers brushing her outer lips.



Donna swatted the hand away playfully. “I told you, no distractions. I’m running the show tonight.”



Pushing him to his back, she reached out and ran her fingers along the bulge in his underwear, drawing an appreciative moan as his hips moved to meet her touch. She leaned forward and ran her tongue along the outline of his erection, staring into his eyes as her tongue traced every inch. Her fingers pried back the front of his briefs, and she moved her mouth to the tip.



Donna turned her attention fully to pleasuring him as she ran her tongue greedily around the head, using her hands to slide down his underwear. Once they were off, she took the tip into her mouth, then slid one hand under his erection, cradling it. Then she ran her tongue back and forth across the underside of the shaft, nibbling softly as she moved. Her lips moved further apart and she began sucking on the sensitive flesh.



The sensation was unlike anything Tim had ever experienced. He tried to hold back, but quickly could feel himself quickly on the edge of an orgasm.



“Honey, you have to stop,” he said frantically, afraid of disappointing her. “I’m going to cum.”



She paused for a moment and gave him a reassuring smile. “Well silly, that’s the general idea.”



Looking back down, she took the first few inches of him into her mouth, using her hand to stroke the shaft quickly. The result was almost instantaneous. Tim’s breathing became ragged and he could feel himself losing control. Despite not wanting to push too hard, his hips thrust upward as he came for what seemed like minutes. Tim closed his eyes so hard that he saw stars.



After a few more seconds, it became too sensitive for her continue and he gently pushed her away.



She looked up again and smiled. “All right, now we can get to the main event.”



“Donna,” He began, hesitantly. “I need to tell you something.”



“Shh,” she interrupted. She stroked his cheek with her thumb as she gazed lovingly at him like he was the most important thing in her life. “I know. It’s why I wanted to go first. I don’t want you to feel like you have to worry about anything. Just trust yourself and you’ll be fine.”



She leaned forward and kissed him. Their tongues danced against each other and he rolled her over on the bed, coming to rest on top.



Tim kissed his way down her body, urgently exploring her neck before moving to her breasts. Her skin felt soft and warm against his. He could feel his penis drag across her pubic hair leaving a wet trail behind it, then down her thigh as he kissed lower. The sensation was so erotic he was instantly grateful she had insisted on taking charge. Despite the edge being taken off, his hands were shaking as he brushed them down her skin.



“Tim,” she said softly, “just relax. I already love you, there’s nothing to prove.”



Looking into her eyes he asked in surprise, “Do you really mean that?”



She nodded with a reassuring smile. He moved back up her body, his lips returning to hers. As they kissed, everything finally seemed to clear. Tim shook off the haze he had been in. His tongue swept over her lips, then met hers, caressing it passionately. He pulled away and looked intently into her eyes.



“I love you too, Donna,” he exclaimed without any indecision or self-doubt.



His kissing became more insistent, his lips moving back to her neck and pushing harder against her skin. He worked his way down, pausing at her breasts, taking turns nibbling harder on each, using her moans as a roadmap to please her.



He continued teasing until she was writhing against him in an effort to find release. Tim dragged his lips across her sweat-soaked skin, savoring her taste. Passing her navel, he reached the edge of her finely manicured mound. He followed the outline with his tongue, delighting in the tactile sensation of moving from her coarse hair to her soft flesh. Finally, he slid down until his lips brushed her clit. She shuddered noticeably. He resisted the temptation to stay on that spot, instead running his tongue across her labia, tracing the warm lips.



When he reached the bottom, she moved a leg onto his shoulder, quickly followed by the other, opening herself up completely for him. Tim responded by plunging his tongue between her lips. It thrust deeply into her repeatedly, pushing her toward her own climax. He pulled her legs tightly against him so he could push as far as possible. She responded by wrapping her fingers in his hair. Her legs shook as she her body raced toward release. Tim responded by moving his mouth over her clit and surrounded it with his lips. Sucking hard, he took as much of her into his mouth as he could. Without letting go, he flicked his tongue rapidly across, back and forth in a steady pattern.



“Oh baby, right there,” she pleaded. Her hips rose off the bed and she removed her hands from his head as he increased the pressure of his tongue. Her entire body was shaking and her legs squeezed his head even harder. Her breathing quickened and her groans increased in volume as she reached the precipice. Tim felt her body spasming wildly, so held tightly and sucked her clit into his mouth as hard as he could.



“Yes!” she screamed, her back arching off the bed, making it nearly impossible to hold on. He did his best to keep his mouth still as she rode wave after wave of the orgasm. The feel of her body shuddering in ecstasy was intoxicating. He instantly knew he’d never tire of the sensation.



Tim worked his way up her body, kissing every inch along the way, savoring the perspiration as validation of his skill. Sliding his chest across her abdomen, he grazed her breasts, settling at kissing her neck. He aligned his erection with her entrance and pushed forward, but something was wrong. She made a small yelp so he tried to readjust, but met with the same resistance.



“Sorry,” he apologized self-consciously.



“Here,” she said softly, reaching her hand between their bodies. Tim shifted to give her room and felt her grasp his cock, running the tip back and forth across her wet lips. She bent one leg, changing the angle of her hips, and the head slid into her.



“Oh,” he moaned as her hand let go and he slid halfway inside her. She was unbelievably warm and tight. He pulled back, then pushed forward, again stopping short of entering her completely. She brought her other leg up, hooking his body with her feet, and this time he didn’t stop until he was fully buried inside her. Tim paused, overwhelmed by the incredible sensations he was feeling, both physical and emotional. It wasn’t just his first time, it was with her.



Suddenly she twisted, unexpectedly rolling him over as she swung on top. She looked into his eyes and whispered, “I love you.”



Sitting upright, she writhed across Tim’s lap, dragging herself forward and back on his cock. The sensations increased, but allowed him to suppress the urge to orgasm. He massaged her breasts, stroking the nipples with his thumbs. She ceased her movements suddenly and trapped his hands against her body.



“Don’t move,” she moaned. Then, as if talking to herself added, “Right there.” Her hips shifted back and forth slightly, adding a slight swivel to her movement.



“Yes!” she exclaimed loudly, suddenly rotating her hips rapidly in a circular motion. He felt her body tremble, then her muscles contracted against his shaft as she came again, harder than before. Her hips shook and he could feel her hands tremble as the tremors rolled on and on.



She lay down on his chest, kissing him passionately. “That was wonderful, baby. Now I want you to cum inside me.” Seeing his worried expression, she added, “It’s OK, I’m safe.”



This was one request Tim was happy to oblige. Rolling her underneath, he hooked one arm under her leg and lifted. Using it as leverage, he pushed into her hard and fast, anxious to reach his own orgasm.



“Yes sweetheart, just like that,” she cooed, her fingernails lightly scratching his back. Between her encouragement and the feel of her body, his passion quickly overtook him.

“I’m cumming,” he groaned. She held him tightly and with a last few, fevered thrusts, he felt the climax erupt. He pushed all the way inside her and wrapped his arms around her body. Shaking, he held her close, reveling in the feeling of her body against his, almost as if they were sharing the same sensations. They kissed feverishly as the waves ebbed, leaving him drained, but feeling more complete than he had ever imagined.



“I love you,” she repeated, staring at him intently.



“I love you too, Donna,” he whispered.



******



The rest of the school year was a blur. Although he did his best, Tim’s grades dropped a bit because of all the time they spent together. Donna made him her personal project; helping him pick out clothes, introducing him to influential people on campus, and explaining how to get along with the various social cliques. She was the very definition of a social butterfly, coexisting with virtually everyone. Whether it was a loud drunken party or a quiet gathering where people talked about the issues of the day, Donna knew exactly the right thing to say and who to talk with.



When the summer break arrived, he was devastated to go. She was staying at college to work and take a couple of classes, while Tim was off for home and to work with Pete again. He was supposed to visit her a few times and she was going to come see him once as well, but after daily visits for months, the weeks apart felt like forever. Tim decided to use the time wisely, so went back to work for Pete and studied endlessly to make up for the slight drop in his GPA. He knew when school started again, he needed to be ready to make the most of it, both for himself and for their future.



Pete secured a few days off for Tim’s trips to see her, and again when she came to town for her twenty-first birthday. He insisted on taking them both out when she visited, so they double-dated with him and his wife Trisha. Both of them doted on Donna and they all had a wonderful evening sharing each other’s company.



When the night was over, Donna came back to Tim’s place where his folks thankfully allowed her to spend the night. They tried to be as quiet as possible as they enjoyed each other enthusiastically for hours. It was an amazing night, filled with a combination of unbridled passion and tenderness that he never imagined was possible, and knew he’d never forget.



When Donna left for school, Tim dragged himself back to work for the last three weeks before classes started again. Although their communication over the break wasn’t the same as it usually had been, Tim comforted himself with how great the sex was. He knew that as soon as he was able to get his work and studies on track, they’d settle back into the same type of rhythm they had during the previous school year.



He confided in Pete that he was hopelessly in love and wanted to ask her to marry him when the time was right. Pete warned his young friend that he might be moving too quickly. Tim agreed and planned to put it off until Christmas, but couldn’t resist going to a jewelry store and blowing half his summer earnings on a ring that the saleswoman promised would stun Donna, whenever he asked. He was sure that when she saw how he had secured a future for them, there wasn’t a chance she could say no.



Tim arrived at school on a Tuesday, and went straight to his dorm to get cleaned up. Opening the door, he found Donna waiting on his roommate’s bed, dressed in white thigh-high stockings, a garter belt and nothing else. A voice behind him loudly exclaimed, “Holy Shit!” startling Tim from his shocked paralysis. Laughing, he hurried inside and closed the door.



“Wow, you look…wow!” he said stupidly. His immediate problem was the pain he was feeling from the angle his erection was growing in. He tried adjusting it without being too obvious. “This is a great surprise, but how did you know we were going to be alone?”



“I bribed your roommate. He’s going to the movies, then dinner so we have all day to ourselves,” she said with a determined look that let Tim know he had no say in the matter.



They spent the afternoon making up for the time they had been apart. It was a magical day and a perfect way to start the new school year.



Things went well over the next month. Donna was more attentive than ever. There was still some difficulty with how they managed their day to day time. Tim was surprised how great their sex life was while everything else seemed to feel forced. He concluded it was most likely typical for that type of serious relationship, especially one happening in the chaos of college life. Since the intimate side of their relationship had continued better than ever, he was sure the rest would work itself out when they finally could get more time. She knew that he was working so hard to insure their future, and was sure she was completely supportive of his efforts.



Tim was looking forward to the last week of September as a great week to enjoy with Donna. There were several parties at the end of the month to celebrate the football team, which was nationally ranked for the first time in years. He didn’t hang out much in those circles, but since Donna knew practically every group on campus, they had been invited to three different bashes. She wasn’t sure if they should stop by all three or just pick one and stay, but assured him than any of them would be a lot of fun. The party was going to be the culmination of the week, but the main focus was the activities leading up to it, which was sure to be light on schoolwork, and heavy on time for them to spend together.



Unfortunately the entire week turned out to be a bust. Tim had two teachers who weren’t big football fans, that left him buried in homework and several upcoming quizzes that were crucial to getting the year off on the right foot. In the little free time he could carve out, he kept missing connections with Donna, who had become involved in planning one of the parties. He’d talk to her answering machine, then she’d talk to his. It was frustrating, but every day he would look at the ring buried in his sock drawer and remind himself that it would all pay off one day.



To add insult to injury, he had to cancel on the party because of a paper that needed to be finished by Monday. It was going to take all day, and he decided he’d prefer to spend Sunday with her alone, doing something romantic, than in a noisy party with a bunch of people he didn’t know. Friday they missed each other again, but he left her a message to go have fun with her friends.



When he got back from the library Saturday, he saw that his message light was blinking. He walked to the machine and punched play.



“Tim, it’s me.” Donna’s voice sounded strained, and Tim immediately was concerned. He’d heard every mood she had, and there was obviously something wrong. “I know we’ve both been really busy lately, but we need to talk. I’m going to call you tomorrow at 1:00, please try to be there. It’s important.”



A thousand thoughts flooded him at once, each more concerning than the last. He looked at the homework that was left and decided it could wait until the next day. It was about nine o’clock already, so he knew she’d be tough to find, but Tim wasn’t going to stop until he made sure everything was all right.



He stopped at the party most of her sorority sisters were going to be at first. It didn’t take long to confirm she wasn’t there. The girls seemed to be having a great time and no one mentioned Donna being upset, so he started feeling a little better, wondering if he’d just over-reacted because of the stress he’d been under. He decided to try the jock party next. Many of the guys from the football team were going to be there and although Tim didn’t know most of them, he had been to enough of the parties to know some of the people from their crowd.



When he got to the door, he immediately regretted not going to the third party instead. Tim only saw a few people that he knew, and that wasn’t by name. He asked around a little, but didn’t get much help. One of the football players heard him asking about Donna and matter-of-factly said she was upstairs. He ignored the condescending look and started up the stairs. It was a pretty big house, and took him a while to get around because of the crowd.



After another ten minutes he still hadn’t seen her and was beginning to doubt that she was even at the party, since there had to be more than one Donna there anyway. Before giving up, Tim decided to ask a girl he vaguely recognized. She was a freshman and drunk off her ass. She had several large hickeys on her neck and her make-up was smeared. He assumed she was just getting another drink before heading back to screw whichever stud she was with for the night.



He caught her arm, “Hey, do you know Donna?” After a quick affirmative nod, he added “Have you seen her here?”



The girl looked blankly for a second, then the drunken haze cleared enough for her to comprehend the question. “Oh, I saw her a little while ago. I think she’s in Jake’s room. Hold on, I’ll go check.” She crossed the hall on unsteady legs and knocked on a door, then stuck her head in and began talking to someone.



Suddenly Tim felt very uncomfortable. Did she mean Donna was in someone’s room hanging out, or something else? He had never experienced any jealousy with her; there had never been a reason. Donna always let him and everyone else know that she had no interest in anyone else, so he never felt the need to worry about her. He scolded himself for making too much out of something that had to be innocent. His girlfriend was the kindest, most faithful person he had ever met.



The girl stepped away from the door and a guy opened it wide. Tim recognized him right away. He was the All-American linebacker from the team, Jake Stillwell. They had run into each other once or twice, although certainly never in a classroom. It was widely known that he got a lot of “help” getting through school so that the team could keep winning. The guy was a block of granite, 6’1, 235lbs of solid muscle. He was dressed only in a pair of shorts with a smug expression that instantly bothered Tim.



“So this is the boyfriend,” he said with a sneer. “I don’t think you’re needed here. Donna is in good hands.”



“I think there’s been a mistake, we’re talking about a different girl,” he said, desperately hoping that this was some kind of misunderstanding. Tim was scrambling for a logical explanation for the mix-up when a familiar voice came from behind the player.



“Jake, have you seen my top?”



He stepped back with an evil grin and Tim saw Donna walk out of his bathroom, wearing only his jersey. She froze when she saw him through the doorway and tears welled up in her eyes. “Tim,” she whispered before turning around and running back into the bathroom, slamming the door behind her.



Tim immediately turned and rushed for the stairs, not caring who he ran into, desperate to get out of the house before he made a bigger fool out of himself.



‘How stupid could I have been?’ he thought as tears clouded his eyes. ‘Like there’s any way she’d ever marry someone like me.’



He made it out of the house and slowed to a walk, trying to cope with the crushing swirl of emotions, when a voice from behind yelled, “Hey, needle dick!” He stopped and turned, realizing that his humiliation wasn’t over yet.



“Don’t go getting any ideas about my girl,” Jake said. “We’ve been hitting it all week and she said she couldn’t wait to let you know so she could stop feeling sorry for you.”



Although Tim knew Jake could literally kill him, he was so angry and confused he didn’t care about anything about anything but finding a way to shove aside the pain. He stepped toward the much larger man. “Go fuck yourself you brain-dead puke.”



He noticed a group of people behind Jake spilling out of the house to see what was going to happen. Tim stood his ground and waited.



“Donna’s got a tight little pussy; obviously she hasn’t been getting enough cock lately. I had her screaming so loud earlier that people were stopping by to see if she was OK.” He turned away from Tim to the group of friends standing around him. “Who heard Donna cumming an hour ago?” A cheer went up from the small group of guys standing around.



When Tim heard that, he lost it. He went up to Jake, grabbed him by the shoulder and took a swing. The athlete blocked it effortlessly and countered with a shot to the stomach, dropping Tim to the ground. He felt like he’d been kicked by a horse, It seemed impossible that anyone could hit that hard. Jake jerked him to his feet, then punched him in the side of the head, putting him back on the ground.



Tim looked up and was amazed to see everything moving in slow motion. He could no longer hear out of his right ear, other than a dull, indiscernible din. He had the sensation of being pulled to his feet again, but was too confused to be sure. Suddenly he realized that someone was holding him up and Jake was in standing in front with his fist pulled back. He never even saw him throw the punch; everything just went black for a second, followed by thousands of bright points of light.



The next thing Tim knew, he was back on the ground on his hands and knees, trying to make sense out of what was happening. He saw Jake coming at him one more time and felt his side explode as he was kicked hard enough to hear his ribs crack.



As he lay on the ground, completely out of it, there were detached voices arguing. “Stop it Jake, if you get busted by the cops you’ll get suspended.”



Tim looked over in confusion and saw him being dragged away by some of his teammates, mouthing threats, but couldn’t understand what he was saying. Unlike the movies, he never lost consciousness. There was just a stabbing pain that made him wish he could have. A couple of guys picked him up and dragged him back toward the dorm.



“You better not mess with him again, he might kill you,” one of them warned. “Take my advice, forget about your girlfriend. If she’s with him, you’re better off without her. She’s damaged goods.”



The words didn’t make sense as he was saying them, but they kept running around in Tim’s head as struggled to understand what was happening. His head was throbbing and the pain in his side was excruciating. Every step seemed to make it worse. It became difficult to breathe. He must have told them where his room was, although he couldn’t remember doing it. One of them took his keys, let themselves in, and walked Tim into the room. They deposited him on the bed, then exited quickly, telling him not to call the cops or else.



He lay there in the dark for an unknown amount of time, unable to move. The pain was getting worse and he didn’t know what to do. He finally reached into his pocket and grabbed his phone. He weakly hit his speed dial and held it to his good ear.



There was a moment of loud rustling, then a tired voice answered. “Yeah?”



“Pete?” he groaned hoarsely.



The man’s voice immediately took on an alarmed tone. “Tim, are you all right?”



“No, I need help. Please…” then mercifully the pain finally faded.



~~~~~



Tim stirred when he heard pounding on his door, but couldn’t force himself upright to answer. The door handle turned and he cringed, afraid Jake might have come to finish him off. He breathed a sigh of relief when Pete stepped in.



“What the fuck happened? Are you all right?” he asked, concern etched on his face.



Tim was still having trouble breathing, so just shook his head. Pete looked him over briefly and immediately insisted he go to the hospital.



He carefully helped Tim out of bed and half-carried him down the stairs. His car was right in front of the door and once they were in, Pete drove to the closest hospital, about a mile from the campus. The doctors took some X-rays and did a full exam. They said Tim would be all right, but would need considerable rest and something to temporarily knock down the pain. He’d need to be watched for a concussion, which Pete promised to do, and the doctor wanted him to see his personal physician for a follow-up visit within a week. He wrote a prescription, then told Pete to take him home.



“Would you like us to contact the police?” the doctor asked.



Tim could hear the words of the guys who took him home ring in his head. “No,” he conceded, feeling beaten. He ignored Pete’s furious glare. “I just want to go home.”



When they got in the car, Pete tried to temper his earlier frustration. “Are you ready to tell me what happened?” Tim shook his head, too humiliated to talk about it. “Well, do you want to go back to the dorm?”



“No, I’m done. There’s nothing for me here. Will you take me back home?” Tim felt terrible asking so much from his friend, but he couldn’t stay at that place for another minute.



A couple of hours later the car pulled up in front of Tim’s house. Pete had called them from his cell phone, so they were waiting for him at the door. They were too concerned with how he was to pepper him with questions about what had happened. He kept things vague, grateful to put it off until later.



They thanked Pete profusely for taking care of their son. His help was way above and beyond the call and Tim let him know how grateful he was. Pete just said to take time to heal and to call when he was ready to go pick up his stuff. He promised to make some phone calls to some friends from the school he attended to see if he could pull a few strings. He still had a lot of friends in the administration department. With any luck, Tim would be able to pick up his academic career with minimal interruption.



After he left, Tim accepted another worried hug from both his mom and dad, then trudged up the stairs, hoping for a little sleep so he could stop thinking about how his life had turned to shit.



~~~~~



A week later Tim decided it was time to get his things from school. He considered Pete’s offer, but decided it wasn’t necessary. Even though Jake was obviously trying to provoke him at the party, if Tim had walked away, he was fairly sure nothing would have happened. He wanted to get to the dorm in the morning, so hopefully he could get packed up and out of there while most of the kids on the floor were at class. He didn’t know if anyone knew or cared about what had happened, but wasn’t interested in finding out.



Tim’s parents had hired a lawyer and were going to be contacting the University the minute he arrived home. There was a hospital report and pictures, which the lawyer believed would be enough to get his tuition reimbursed. They definitely wouldn’t want a scandal with their star football player involved. The team was in contention for a major bowl bid and the last thing the school would want is to see his face on ESPN next to the words assault and battery.



Since Tim’s car was still down at school, he had to take the train. It gave him a chance to think about everything that could go wrong, most of all that he might run into Donna. He knew that she had called his cell phone more times than he could count, because he checked the messages from his parents’ house. Tim only knew of one time that she tried the house directly. He wasn’t around, but his mom confided that she talked to her briefly. There was a smoldering look in her eyes and Tim knew that it must have been quite a discussion. He didn’t know what was said, but she never called the house again.



While home, he spoke briefly to his roommate Andy, letting him know that he’d be back soon and to ask if anyone had been around. Donna had been there several times, but no one else had stopped by.



The train pulled into the station, leaving Tim a five-minute walk to the campus. It was cold enough that it forced him to wear a jacket with a hood, which made him feel a little less conspicuous. He wasn’t really worried about problems; it was more a matter of the embarrassment over falling so hard for someone who could have publicly humiliated him like that. His royal ass kicking just added a little something extra special to the memory. Tim vowed that once this place was in his rear-view mirror, he’d never think about it again.

This chapter does not work as a stand-alone story and there is limited sex, so please read the first two chapters if you are interested in the whole story. I submitted it in chapters because I know how daunting a 20 page story is to read in one sitting, and I hoped that the beginning would be intriguing enough to entice many to tackle this piece. It will not be entertaining for people looking for a short, erotic tale.



Thanks again to KevH, DawnJ, and Aruban who offered so much advice and support, plus Longhorn, Ohio, Hard Days Knight and others whose stories inspired me to try my hand at writing in the first place. They each brought a unique element to the LW category, making it really enjoyable to be a loyal Lit reader.




~~~~~



“I’m sorry, but you’re wrong this time,” Tim growled, clearly frustrated.



Trisha gave him a knowing smile, “Haven’t you learned by now, I’m never wrong.”



“I can vouch for that,” Pete enthusiastically agreed. “It’s been eleven years and I’m still waiting to win my first fight.”



They shared a laugh as the couple tried to raise his spirits. In contrast to the previous week, the last three days had been anything but wonderful for Tim. Although he had seen Donna every day, the feeling of optimism and joy seemed to be gone. He had come to the conclusion that Saturday was as far as this thing between them was going. Trisha disagreed and, as usual, wasn’t shy to share her opinion.



“If you ask me, you’re both scared shitless.” He gave her an annoyed look, which she promptly ignored. “You both know she’s leaving, but neither of you wants to be the one to step up and do anything about it.”



Tim could feel his level of irritation rising, but knew better than to let it show. “So what’s with the looks she gave me or how secretive she’s been about her errands? I’m sure she’s hiding something.”



They both looked at him sympathetically. Finally Pete spoke. “What if she isn’t hiding something? Maybe she’s just scared like Trisha said. If you knew that she did like you, what would you do about it?”



“What are you suggesting? Asking her out for what, three days? She’s going back home Sunday, a thousand miles away.”



Pete looked at Tim with a Cheshire grin. “You’ve never learned how to think out of the box, have you?”



~~~~~



Thursday night Tim had to work overtime to finish the diagnostics on a new piece of test gear that was supposed to be ready for production the following Monday. It was incredibly important and forced him to call Donna and cancel their plans. Pete and Trisha invited her to their house so that she wouldn’t be sitting alone in her motel room.



Tim appreciated the gesture, plus hoped his friends would be able to get a little bit of a read on her mood. Although he asked them not to pry, if Donna volunteered something that he should know about before making a fool of himself, that seemed like fair game.



Friday night he took her out to a new restaurant that Pete had claimed was the most romantic in town. Considering how awkward things had been all week, Tim knew there would be a lot of work to do to get her in the right mood to at least consider his proposal. He knew it was too soon, but there seemed to be no other options.



When he arrived at the motel, Pete’s advice began appearing more astute. Donna was dressed in a stunning red evening gown with a matching shawl. The dress reached just below her knees and the top showed enough cleavage that it eliminated any doubt that friendship was the only thing on her mind. He suddenly felt remarkably under dressed.



“Wow,” was all Tim could manage to say.



She smiled at the sincere reaction and leaned forward to kiss his cheek. “I just wanted to dress up a little for you, I hope you don’t mind.”



Tim struggled to find the words to adequately express his admiration of her. Donna had always been a very attractive woman. Even tiny imperfections seemed to add a charming element to her appearance. She had a girl next door quality that, to him, made her incredibly beautiful. Tonight was different because she looked gorgeous by any standard.



They headed out to the restaurant without further delay. To Tim’s delight, the conversation was much more relaxed and fun than it had been that week. He found himself forgetting about anything other than enjoying her. Donna seemed to be happy to do the same.



Afterward, he took her dancing. They had a great time and he began to feel more at ease with his decision. It actually appeared that she might be inclined to say yes, as his friends had insisted. He hoped so. For the first time in as long as he could remember, Tim could see himself in a real relationship. It still felt dangerous to him with their history and her sudden reappearance, but every instinct he had was screaming it was worth the risk.



At around eleven, they left the club and shared a quiet drive. When they reached the hotel, she invited him in to her room. Tim followed her inside, then immediately wished he had gone to his house where he could soothe his nerves with a couple of stiff drinks.



“Donna, the last couple of weeks have been very unexpected for me,” he started. “When you got here, I still was still really angry about what happened in college. Since then, I’ve started to feel differently.”



She held up her hand. “Stop Tim, please don’t say any more.” Before he had a chance to react, she stood up. “Before you say anything else, I need to tell you something.”



“What?” he groaned, wondering if Trisha really had been wrong after all.



She looked into his eyes, appearing incredibly conflicted. “I never believed you’d be so kind to me after everything that happened.” She stopped and began rubbing her hands together furiously. “This is so complicated,” she moaned.



“I didn’t think you’d be able to treat me like a friend again and I don’t want to do anything to ruin that. There’s something that I have to tell you, and I’m afraid it might change things.” Dropping her gaze to the floor again, she continued. “I didn’t just show up at your house on a whim.”



The discomfort in his gut quickly built as Tim began to imagine all kinds of unsettling scenarios. “Why did you show up then?”



“I was invited,” she said quietly.



“By who?” he demanded, his anger flaring.



She answered quietly, her eyes returning to his, “Your mother.”



It took a second for the comment to sink in, then Tim reached for the bed as knees gave out. “Why . . . how . . . what the hell is going on?” he finally sputtered.



“I can’t tell you.” She saw his intense reaction and quickly added, “I promised that I would let her talk to you about it. I’m sorry, but I won’t break that promise for anything.” Her voice was wavering and he could tell she was on the verge of tears.



Taking a long look at her to gauge her sincerity, Tim couldn’t see anything but the woman he had begun to care about again in a lot of pain, caught between betraying a trust or risking his outrage. His initial instinct was anger, but the more he tried to focus on her revelation, the more the absurdity of the situation became clear.



Donna lowered her eyes, preparing herself for some kind of outburst. When it finally came, it was nothing like what she expected.



Her head snapped up at the unexpected sound of Tim trying to control his laughter, his breath slipping from between his lips in a half spitting, half hissing sound. He saw her eyes go wide before the tears in his made it impossible to see. That’s when he gave up and erupted into a loud, full, gut-wrenching laugh that prevented him from thinking about anything except the fact that he was having trouble breathing.



“This isn’t funny,” she protested in vain. Donna stomped her foot and put her hands on her hips in an outraged pose, then repeated, “Tim, this is not funny!” A few seconds later, he wiped the tears from his eyes and saw her struggling to maintain her composure.



A grin began creeping across her face, then he heard her sniff, trying to clear her nose. Finally, the sound of her soft laughter joined his as he fell back on the bed, hands over his face, trying to find a way to stop.



After a minute, he managed to gain control of himself enough to start making sense of the situation. Donna was now sitting on the bed beside him, laughing openly and holding her sides. It seemed to be a release from the tension she had been feeling about her secret and what his reaction might be.



“This is my mother’s doing, huh? So, how the hell did you convince her to talk to you? Last I heard, she wasn’t exactly your biggest fan.”



Donna dried her eyes with the back of her hand, his statement finally breaking the spell they seemed to be under. “I already said, I can’t tell you. Please don’t ask me, I feel badly enough about this.” She made a sound like she was clearing her throat, then fell back into laughter, the irony of her statement causing them both to lose control again.



When they calmed down, Tim leaned over and kissed her on the cheek, trying to assure her that he wasn’t angry. “So is this why you’ve been acting different for the last few days?”



She nodded, contritely. “Things were starting to move too fast and I didn’t want to go any further with there being secrets between us. You’ve been so generous with the way you’ve treated me. I won’t do anything to risk hurting you again. I didn’t think you’d take it this way,” she finished, a perplexed, but relieved look on her face.



“I’ll talk to her tomorrow, then you and I are going to finish this discussion, do you understand me?” he demanded, trying to sound authoritative. It seemed pointless considering the talk that would be in store for him in the morning.



~~~~~



Tim rang the doorbell to the modest, three bedroom ranch house. It was unheard of for him to not just walk in, but he was determined to make a point. Somehow, he doubted it would succeed.



The door opened and a middle-aged woman’s curious face appeared. “Tim, what in heaven’s name are you doing?”



“Well,” he said, maintain a serious tone, “since you decided it’s your prerogative to run my life, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to walk in or wait to be ordered.” He paused to see what her reaction would be.



She stared at him blankly for a moment, then casually held out her hand, palm upward, and slowly extended her middle finger. Tim opened his mouth in mock indignation as she broke into a wide grin. His attempt to salvage his dignity was forgotten as the familiar gesture diffused any seriousness from the situation.



It started Tim’s Junior year of high school. He had always been close to his parents, especially his mom, rarely having the kind of blow-ups that friends routinely had with their folks. However, one day Tim had asked to go to a party that friends were having, but she refused. She found out that he had been asked to participate in obtaining the alcohol and was trying to buy their acceptance instead of earning their respect and while she understood all teens participate in these kinds of parties she didn’t approve of the way he was involved.



In a rare moment of teenage rebellion, his anger flared. Words failed as he could feel his cheeks flush and hands tremble with rage. Without thinking, he held out his hand and flipped her the bird.



She stood there with a shocked expression. Suddenly reality intruded through Tim’s angry haze. He realized what he had done; something that had never happened between them, and waited for the yelling or slapping that surely had to follow such a disrespectful act. The fact that he continued to stand there, frozen in the same pose was a testament to his shock at what he had done.



Her eyes crinkled and for a moment Tim was afraid she was going to burst into tears. She continued staring at the ridiculous sight of her son, a straight A student, never in trouble in school or away, always kind and loving, trying to appear defiant but failing miserably.



She brought her hands to her face and he flinched, hoping she’d strike him rather than cry, something he couldn’t bear. Suddenly he saw her shudder and there was a barely audible giggle. His hand dropped to his side and Tim watched in shock as tears appeared in her eyes. Not from crying as he feared, but from the laughter that built into an uncontrollable fit.



After a moment of feeling a mixture of relief that she wasn’t angry and indignation that she was so amused, Tim couldn’t resist the urge to join her in laughing at his ill-conceived attempt at independence. He sat down next to her on the couch and they continued to laugh for several minutes. Every time one would begin to gain control, the other would break into a fit of giggling, starting the whole process over again. Finally, they both managed to recover and hugged each other.



“I’m sorry mom, I didn’t mean that.”



“That’s all right sweetheart, I know,” she answered with the kind of compassion only a mother can show.



“So does this mean I’m not in trouble?”



Looking at him with a straight face, she calmly returned his gesture with a matching one of her own, launching them both back into hysterics.



That was the exact moment that Tim felt their relationship change. She began giving him more freedom and allowing him to make his own decisions. In return, he made sure to extend every courtesy to her, never being late, calling to let them know where he was, and always doing his best to make her and his dad proud.



They never forgot that moment and the obscene gesture became a joke between them, always diffusing any tense situation. As Tim watched her do it now, he had to smile, knowing that anything she had said to Donna would undoubtedly be something he’d agree with in the long run. She was a brilliant woman, both in terms of the intelligence he had inherited from her and in the wisdom he was only beginning to learn from.



Tim spoke respectfully, all efforts to be annoyed now washed away. “So I’m guessing you’re not going to deny any of it?”



Her expression became serious. “No, it’s true, but please let me explain why.” She gestured for him to come in and they sat down in the living room, where she continued.



“It started about two and a half years ago. She just showed up at the door, out of the blue. I wouldn’t have talked to her, but her behavior convinced me that I needed to listen.” Mom’s face changed, she looked like she was reliving a painful memory.



“Donna told me that her father had just passed away. It deeply affected her. He was quite fond of you. She told me how disappointed he had been about you two breaking up and her dating Jake, even though she never told him how it happened. When he died, she felt very guilty for letting him down, then lying on top of it. She needed to do something, but didn’t think she could face you. Instead she came to see me.”



Tim couldn’t hide his surprise. “I don’t know why she thought that would be easier.”



Mom gave him a stern glare. “She didn’t. It’s just that she didn’t want to do anything that could make things worse for you, so she did the next best thing she could think of; to give me the chance to punish her. She told me some of what happened, although she insisted that if she ever told the whole story, it would only be to you. We talked for a long time. By the time she left to see her friend Cindy the next day, the way I felt about her had changed; at least somewhat.”



Shaking his head in confusion, Tim interrupted. “Two and a half years ago? Why didn’t you say something?”



“Because I really didn’t want to meddle, honey,” she said sincerely. “It’s your life and it wouldn’t have been right to try to get involved. Besides, just because my feelings had changed didn’t mean I would approve of her trying to contact you. After all, you were starting a whole new life after school and it seemed like you were finally over her.



“Anyway,” she continued, “we talked on and off for the next couple of years, every few months on the phone. She came by to see me any time she was visiting her friend. Even though I could tell she wanted to see you, she never asked. It was difficult because I knew she was unhappy but she wasn’t willing to risk involving you to make herself feel better.



“About two months ago, she was having so much trouble dealing with her personal problems, she called and told me what was going on. It was obvious that she just couldn’t move on with her life without talking to you to set things right. I told her that I thought it was time for you two to talk.”



I looked at her suspiciously. “Why?” I asked.



She gave him a pained look. “Because you weren’t moving on with your life. You’re my son, I know you better than anyone. You haven’t been the same since that night. I was hoping that seeing her could help you finally get past it.”



“Is that all?” he asked, already knowing the answer.



“No, mister smarty-pants,” she conceded, annoyed that Tim had read her motivations. “After talking to her for so long, I thought that maybe something was there; something the two of you could find. You had been angry for so long, but I thought you might have reached a point where you could get past what happened and really listen to her. At least I hoped you could.”



“Well, maybe you should have thought to warn me. I almost blew that the first time we sat down and talked. I was so mean to her it’s a miracle that she ever talked to me again. We’re lucky that anything got resolved.”



She shrugged her shoulders. “That was up to you. It’s your life; I just told her that I thought it was a good idea to see you.”



“So last Sunday when she was busy, she was . . .”



“She was here. We talked and she let me know everything that had happened. She was excited that you seemed to really enjoy being with her again, but she didn’t want to push it too far. She was afraid of getting hurt since it couldn’t last more than the week.” Mom arched her eyebrows in a questioning way.



Tim took the obvious hint. “Well, I have a plan to extend her visit, if she’s interested.”



She smiled, looking genuinely relieved. “That’s wonderful. I really believe that would be good for both of you, no matter what you two eventually decide.”



He glanced at his watch and saw that it was already four o’clock. Quickly, he ran through everything he was planning, vowing to make it as difficult as possible for Donna to say no. He then let her know that he needed to go so he could get everything ready.



She gave him a long hug at the door. “Good luck honey,” she said, affectionately brushing his hair back. “I think you’re doing the right thing.”



“Of course you do,” he said wryly. “It was your idea.”



She smiled and kissed his cheek, giving him the look that she’d given hundreds of times in his life. It let him know that she was supremely confident in her plan. Tim shook his head as he walked to the car, wondering if he’d ever be as sure of himself as she was.



~~~~~



Tim was just finishing the table when the doorbell rang. After a quick check to make sure everything was in place, he walked slowly to the door, trying to appear calm and confident despite the anxiety coursing through his body. He took a deep breath and reached for the handle.



As the door swung open, his breath caught in his throat. Donna stood there, bathed in the light spilling out from the living room. She looked angelic, her face framed by the gentle glow from inside. Suddenly it occurred to him that the reason the light made her look so radiant, was that she was standing in the dark. In his haste to make everything perfect for dinner, he had forgotten to turn on the porch light.



“Gee,” Donna said with a grin, “I was wondering if I got the wrong night.”



“Oops,” was all Tim could think to say.



“It’s okay,” she said cheerfully, stepping forward to kiss him on the cheek.



“Would you mind if we ate right away?” he asked, hoping to avoid any immediate questions about his visit to his mom and to get things off on the right foot. “Dinner is ready and I don’t want it to get cold.”

Donna smiled, “That would be nice, Tim. It smells delicious. Did you make it?” she asked with a sly grin.



“Yeah right, I’m going to ask you to my house for a nice dinner, then risk poisoning you with my cooking?” he laughed. “It’s from this restaurant Pete and Trisha took me to a while back. The food is excellent. Just hurry, before I accidentally ruin it.”



They went to the dinning room where the table was set with care. He had purchased a tablecloth specifically for the occasion, along with the candles, which cast a soft glow across the scene. He pulled out a chair and motioned for her to sit, then moved to the other side.



The food was delicious, but there was tension in the air as they tried to make small talk. Tim needed everything to be perfect, so did his best to keep things light between them for the moment.



After they finished eating, he went to the fridge and retrieved the French Silk pie that had been delivered from his favorite bakery. Donna always had a weakness for chocolate, and French Silk was her favorite. Her expression let him know he’d hit a home run with the gesture. They had a large slice each, but had to put away the rest for later.



“I can’t believe I ate that much,” she complained. “I think you’re going to have to carry me out of here.”



“Well, the question is, did you like it,” he said, fishing for a compliment. The truth was, it was easy to tell that she had loved everything.



“Tim, it was wonderful,” she said sincerely. “This entire trip has been beyond anything I could have imagined. Thank you.”



He beamed at her praise. “Well, can we move to the living room? I have one more surprise left.” She smiled and walked into the living room, while he stayed behind and grabbed a bottle of wine and a couple of glasses. Then he took a deep breath and went to join her.



After pouring her a glass, Tim raised his. “To old friends, finally reunited,” he said, studying her face closely. She looked so happy, he knew it was finally the right time to ask. After taking a sip, he started the speech he had been rehearsing ever since the talk with Pete.



“Donna, I wanted to tell you how glad I am that you came back here. I understand how hard it was for you. I’m sorry that I didn’t make it easier.”



“Tim, you didn’t do anything wrong,” she protested. He put his finger to her lips to stop her so he could finish.



“This isn’t about who’s right or wrong. What happened is in the past and we can’t change it. Now we have to figure out what to do about the present.” She looked like she wanted to interject, but heeded his unspoken warning.



“The last couple of weeks have been wonderful for me and I don’t want it to end.” He paused to see what she wanted to say.



“I don’t want it to end either, Tim,” she said, her eyes beginning to tear up. “This has been the best I’ve felt in as long as I can remember. But what can we do? I have to go home tomorrow. Work won’t give me any more time off and…” she paused and looked away in embarrassment, “I can’t afford it if they did.”



Reaching out, he gently took her hand. “What if you could?” She stared at him in confusion. “Donna, if there was a way for you to stay here, would you consider it? Would you think about going out with me again? Taking the chance to see if there is something between us?”



“But how? You’re not suggesting I stay here,” she protested, looking around the house.



“No,” he answered, shaking his head. “That would put impossible pressure on both of us. But what if I had a place you could stay at that would be really nice and very affordable?”



“Tim, I would love to stay here,” she cried, a tear trickling down her cheek. “There’s nothing for me back home. I just can’t afford it. I’m completely broke. This trip has wiped me out.”



“Listen Donna, you’ve already told me that you don’t like your job that much and it’s taking forever to get where you want to be. My company sells a lot of equipment to one of the big hospitals here and we have a special program we established where we refurbish old equipment for the tax write-off. Pete proposed the deal and has overseen it since it started. He has a lot of pull with their administrators and has already been assured that a job application from you would be viewed…favorably,” he said with a smile.



“You’d be looking at a better position. One that paid more, plus had great opportunity for advancement. Cindy lives nearby and I know how close you two still are. You’d be able to see her all the time. I’ve talked to my mother,” he said with a mock grimace, “and found out you’re welcome there any time.”



She smiled apologetically. “I am very sorry about that, Tim. I never meant to deceive you. When I went to talk to your mom, I didn’t think I’d ever see you again. To be honest, I expected her to really let me have it. She was so nice to me,” her eyes took on a faraway look, “I can never tell you how much it meant. Thank you for not being upset about it.”



He shrugged. “What am I going to do? She was the instigator, and I’m way more scared of her than you.” When Donna laughed, he turned serious again. “So what do you say? Take a chance.”



Donna wiped her face with the back of her hand. “That sounds so amazing; I can’t believe you went through all that trouble for me. But I just can’t. I never really told you how tight things are for me. The job sounds wonderful and I would really like to spend more time with you, but I couldn’t afford to move right now.” Her eyes took on a determined expression. “And I couldn’t take charity from you either. It wouldn’t be right.” She let her guard down and stared through him, just the way he remembered from college.



“I want you to know Tim; I would love to find out if there was a chance for us. You are a wonderful man and I am so impressed by what you’ve done with your life. It’s amazing. If things were different, I swear I would be happy to stay.”



Taking another breath, Tim sprung his last surprise. “Well, what if there was a way to stay until you had the money you needed? Trisha has a friend named Maria who just lost her roommate. They talked and Maria said if you were willing to commit to signing a lease for a year, you could stay there for the first two months free. The woman who moved out paid ahead, so Maria doesn’t need the money, but she wants someone she can trust without having to go through a million interviews. All she would want is for you to pay your share of the utilities at the end of the month.”



Donna looked at him in shock. “I don’t know what to say,” she stammered.



“Well, I’d love to hear you say you’ll at least consider it. I kind of have to give a bunch of answers soon.”



Her expression softened, changing to hopeful. “You really want me to stay that much? You’re not just being kind?”



Tim was surprised to see fear in her eyes, and it snapped him out of the giddy mood. “Donna, I would not have done all this if I hadn’t given it a lot of thought. I really want you to stay. This is hard for me,” he let his eyes drop from hers. “I haven’t felt like this in a long time and am afraid of getting kicked in the teeth. You mean so much…”



He was interrupted by Donna suddenly throwing herself against his chest, her arms wrapping around his neck and her lips pressing firmly against his. She kissed him hungrily, devouring his lips with her own. Her fingers worked their way through his hair as she held tight, refusing to let him move. Finally, she relinquished her hold and pulled away, looking slightly embarrassed at her behavior.



“Um…so can I take that as a yes,” he stammered.



Donna smiled and kissed him on the tip of his nose. “That’s definitely a yes.”



~~~~~



“You know, if you had told me this was going to be part of my responsibilities as your girlfriend, I probably would have moved back to my mom’s.” Donna grinned as she held up a ratty pair of sweat pants. They were ones Tim continually forgot to throw away, despite her constant reminders.



“They’re not that bad,” he insisted, trying to defend himself. “You wouldn’t believe how comfortable they are.”



She raised an eyebrow and shot him a disapproving glare. “I’ll never find out. I prefer my clothes to be from this century, thank you very much.” Despite his protests, she went down the stairs, determined to not let him get away with hiding them again.



Tim smiled as he watched her walk away. The way her jeans hugged her hips and ass never failed to catch his attention. It made the awkwardness between them even more puzzling. Despite the fact that they had been dating regularly for two months, there had been a decided lack of rhythm. They enjoyed each other’s company, but intimacy had been nothing more than a wishful thought. The word “love” hadn’t come close to making an appearance. He was concerned that despite their fondness and their history, it might be a case of something that just wasn’t meant to be.



He realized it might not be that surprising a development. Despite the intense relationship in college, they had both grown and changed so much in the years since. The comfort level that he enjoyed with her was long gone. She reacted differently to things than he anticipated, and she often seemed surprised by how he responded to situations. They constantly were feeling each other out, making it impossible to move forward in the relationship.



There were still ghosts from the past that haunted him despite his sincere efforts to bury them. He had to assume that she felt the same, although that was something they rarely talked about. The memories were too painful to both, so they tried creating a fresh start. Tim was certain that the desire to avoid those thoughts was keeping them from opening up to each other as they needed to. But he still couldn’t bring himself to broach that subject.



He pushed the doubts from his mind as he saw her come back up the stairs. Nothing could distract him from the sight of the tight fitting tee shirt straining across her chest, outlining her breasts. Tim swore to himself as he noticed that she hadn’t worn a bra.



Just what I needed, he thought in frustration.



Just because they hadn’t been intimate, didn’t mean the thought hadn’t crossed his mind. The memories of their lustful encounters were burned into his memory, causing him to see them as clearly as if they happened yesterday. Plus he had the more recent image of her skinny dipping in his pool to contend with. That was front and center as she walked closer.



“Are you alright?” she asked, breaking his reverie.



“Huh…Oh yeah, sorry,” he mumbled. “I was just daydreaming.”



“Yeah, well don’t even try whining to me. They’re gone and you’ll never get them back,” she teased him.



Tim tried to act more annoyed than he felt, hoping she wouldn’t realize that he had been staring at her body, not thinking about his old clothes. “Keep this up and I won’t ask you to help again.”



“Promises, promises,” she laughed. Donna walked over to the dresser and started digging through a drawer to find the matching shirt she knew was stashed away. Tim was so entranced by watching how sexy she looked that he failed to notice which drawer she was digging in.



“What’s this?” she asked unexpectedly.



He stepped forward to see what she had found and could feel the blood drain from his face. Donna stood in front of him holding a small jewelry box. She opened it without looking up, then Tim saw her face go pale as well. Slowly her eyes rose until they met his, the intensity of her stare causing him to look away.



“Well, um…” he stammered, unprepared for how to explain an expensive engagement ring buried in a clothes drawer in a worn jewelry case that was obviously several years old. His evasive behavior confirmed instantly that what she had found was something from their past.



“Tim,” she said, her voice thick with emotion, “please tell me what this is.”



He didn’t want to admit the truth, but was caught without any other explanation. Unsure of what else to say, he turned away in embarrassment.



“I bought it in college, before we…you know,” he mumbled, feeling a twinge of the humiliation tied to those memories. Although a voice was screaming inside his head to be strong and not fall apart, Tim could feel tears welling up in his eyes.



Damn it! the voice in his head screamed. Not now! Things were just starting to feel normal again. He was searching for a way to make a tactful retreat from the room with some semblance of self-respect when there was a touch on his shoulder.



“You bought this for me,” she whispered, her voice trembling.



He nodded, refusing to look, trying to prevent her from seeing his shame.



There was a moment of silence, then hands were touching his cheeks. Tim tried to shake them off, not wanting her pity, but she refused to be deterred. Her fingers gently forced him to turn his face toward her. When their eyes finally met, he was surprised to see tears raining down her cheeks.



Donna tilted her head back and brought her lips up slowly. As they met his, Tim felt electricity that had been absent since they began dating again. Her mouth opened as her lips danced across his hungrily, her body melting against him.



He felt a stirring in his groin, when she unexpectedly pushed against him, forcing him into the wall with a loud thud. Her kiss intensified, her tongue moving between his lips, while a hand snaked behind his head forcing him against her. She pulled back, kissing his face and neck.



Without warning, Donna spun him around and shoved him to the bed, falling hard on top. Her mouth moved back to his and she nibbled at his lips, seemingly intent on devouring them. Her hands were at his shirt, her fingers fumbling at the buttons as the kissing intensified. They worked down quickly until Tim felt her reach his belt and unlatch it in a single motion. Before he could make a move of his own, she kissed her way down his chest; nibbling and biting a path toward her goal.



His head fell back as she reached his navel, briefly running her tongue across it, then continuing down. Her hand slid into his boxers, her fingers grasping his erection around the middle. He could feel the cool air on it for just a moment before her lips wrapped around the head. She quickly ran her tongue around the tip, then plunged her mouth downward, softly raking her teeth across the sensitive skin. Donna’s head moved back and forth several times before letting it slowly, agonizingly slip from her lips. Her hand cradled it, her mouth moving to the shaft, where she went from the tip to the base, dragging her tongue lazily across the surface.



“Harder,” he moaned, grabbing the sheets with his hands and squeezing.



She responded by closing her lips around the underside of the shaft and sucking. The sensations were overwhelming, both because it had been so long for him and because this level of aggression was out of character for the woman he knew.



“Baby, you have to stop or I’m going to cum.” Despite the pleasure, he wanted to be inside her.



Her eyes locked on his as her effort instead intensified. She took the hand rapidly back and forth while she kept her head still, her cheeks hollowing as she applied even more suction. Tim jumped involuntarily as her other hand came up between his legs, stroking from his scrotum to his anus. Her fingertips brushed across the sensitive skin several times before moving back up.



Without a word, she pulled away and quickly slid out of her jeans. She climbed on the bed and straddled him, reaching down and guiding his cock inside. Tim shuddered as the tip pushed past her lips, then sank deeper as she sat down hard on his lap. There was no attempt at subtlety, she just moved her hips up until only the tip remained inside her, then slammed back down. She repeated the motion over and over, gaining speed with each thrust. Tim’s hips moved up to meet hers, increasing the speed dramatically as he felt himself reach the point of no return. Sensing his impending orgasm, Donna moaned, “Come for me baby…I want to you to come. Please Tim, do it now. Come inside me.”



“Ah!” he groaned, as an emotional and physical wave rushed over. He grabbed her hips and pulled her down, holding her tightly against her as he came. Her hands braced against his shoulders as her body shuddered in it’s own orgasm. When it waned, she fell against him, the ferocious display having exhausted her.



He lay back, exhausted, sweat dripping from his body. Turning to look at Donna in amazement he asked, “Where did that come from?”



She cupped his face with her hands affectionately and said, “You are a wonderful man and I don’t deserve you.”



Tim shook his head in confusion, but decided not to press the issue. The sex had been like something out of a fantasy and he didn’t want to kill the mood. He guessed that she felt badly about another reminder of what happened, but promised himself to assure her later there was no need. The past was gone and it was time for them both to move forward.



Watching her lying there, basking in the afterglow of a wonderful orgasm, Tim felt the final piece of the wall he had built around himself crumble away. A part of him came alive for the first time in years. He knew without needing to hear it from her that whatever had been holding them back was gone.



~~~~~



“Hurry up, we’re going to be late,” Tim complained



“Keep your pants on, I’m not going to go meet your friends looking like I just fell out of bed,” Donna answered, irritation clearly evident in her voice.



“First of all,” he said, amused by her annoyance, “if you just fell out of bed, I’d be tempted to make them wait for us.” He walked up behind her and squeezed her breast playfully as he kissed the side of her neck. Donna shooed him away, trying to finish her hair.



“Secondly,” he said, retreating from the bathroom, “they’re not my friends, they’re our friends.”



Donna stopped what she was doing and looked at him contritely. She walked over and took his hands. “I’m sorry honey, I shouldn’t have said that. I love both of them dearly. It’s just hard sometimes to think about them that way after all that happened. They loved you and hated me for years. I don’t blame them, but they still know you far better than me.” She kissed him on the cheek and stared deeply into his eyes.



“They are our friends,” she said with exaggeration, “and it’s important that I look my best so they know I’m not taking you for granted. Now let me get finished so we can go.” She kissed him again and went back into the bathroom.



Tim watched her getting ready, trying to take in every detail of how she behaved and looked. This was a big night and nothing would be the same afterwards. He thought about the six months that had passed since the day she found his old ring. They made love so passionately that day; he couldn’t imagine anything being able to top it.



Watching her primp, Tim reflected on the folly of his assumption. After finally making love after so long, they immediately fell into a rhythm that was relaxed, comfortable, and more than he could have hoped for. Everything had been so different than when they were together in college. They were both more mature, and felt connected in many small ways that he didn’t even know were possible back then.



Sometimes he wondered if it would have actually worked out so well if they hadn’t had the break up. Whenever that thought came, it was accompanied by another, darker one. It was possible that he was just trying to find ways to get past the pain. Tim loved her so much that it was difficult to even deal with the memory of what happened. After a lot of work, he found ways to avoid the subject. He wasn’t sure if it was the best way to handle things, but it had gotten him to this point, which was more than he ever expected.



“Since you’re in such a hurry, why are you just sitting there daydreaming?” she chastised him.

Tim shook his head, knowing that there was no way to explain to her what he was thinking. He barely understood it himself, but it didn’t matter. He was truly happy for the first time since college. In fact, he was much happier. Now he had the respect of his peers and the financial means to do what he wanted. Having Donna in his life made it perfect.



They left for the restaurant an hour early. He told Donna it was because he promised to stop and pick up Pete’s watch at the jewelry store since it was on the way. Tim had given her the receipt to hold, telling her it was because they both knew how forgetful he could be about that kind of thing.



The car pulled up in front of the business. Donna turned and said, “Honey, the sign says closed. I hope Pete won’t be upset.”



Tim shrugged my shoulders, “Well, let me go check to see if anyone’s still inside.” He got out and ran to the front door, peering through the glass for some sign of employees. When he saw movement inside, he banged on the glass. A pleasant looking middle-aged man opened the door and they spoke briefly before Tim turned and waved for Donna to bring the receipt. She got out and hurried to the door, which the man held open for them both.



The man walked back behind the counter and turned to wait. Donna started to walk toward him, but Tim caught her arm. She gave him a puzzled look, which brought a smile to his lips.



So far, so good, he thought.



“Donna,” Tim said, with a serious tone, “I want to tell you how much I love you.”



She smiled and blushed, “Tim, I love you too, but we need to get going or we’re going to be late.”



“No we’re not.” Her expression showed a mixture of confusion and annoyance, so he knew it was time to stop teasing her.



“Sweetheart, the last eight months have been more wonderful than I thought was possible. When you showed up at my door, I couldn’t have imagined my life was going to change so much, so fast.” He got down on one knee and saw a tear wind down her face.



“I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you. Would you marry me?” Tim held his breath because they hadn’t talked about marriage a single time, so he wasn’t entirely confident what her response would be.



Donna was quiet for a minute, just staring at him with her lips trembling, tears now streaming down her face unrestrained. “Yes,” she said finally, “I’d be so happy to marry you!”



Tim stood and took her into his arms, kissing her with abandon. She tilted her head from side to side, leaving kisses across his lips, cheek, then finally burying her face against his neck. He squeezed her so tightly that it brought a whine of protest.



Finally, she pulled back. “I’ve been waiting so long for you to say that. I love you, Tim.” Then she leaned her head against his chest, and sobbed quietly.



After holding her for a minute, he turned his attention to the salesman. He knew they had to hurry. The man hadn’t said how much longer he could stay. Tim had only paid him until seven. The idea came from a popular movie he’d seen.



He let her go and stepped away. “Donna,” he said proudly, “choose,” waving his hand at the rings on display.



She looked around in wonder at the beautiful rings in the shop for several seconds while Tim held his breath in anticipation. Finally, she looked at the salesman and said, “I’m sorry sir, but the ring I want isn’t here.”



He tried to assure her that he would be able to order any design she wanted, or even custom-make something, but she shook her head and turned back to her new fiancée.



“My ring is at your house Tim. You bought it for me five years ago and it was my fault that I’ve had to live without it this long. I won’t wear any other one.”



Tim blinked back tears as her words moved him more than he thought possible. Even though that ring had held such bad memories, he hadn’t been able to part with it because it also represented something else; a hope for the future that seemed like a childish dream. He had never considered the possibility that she’d want it over anything she could choose. Knowing that she did, touched him more deeply than he thought possible.



“I wish there was some way to tell you how much I love you.”



“There is,” she said smiling. “Take me home and get me my ring so I can show Pete and Trisha.” She leaned forward and kissed him again, then they walked to the door. He turned and shrugged an apology toward the salesman, glad that he insisted he pay the man in advance instead of just depending on the commission the jeweler was planning to earn.



They drove the ten minutes to the house in silence, Donna snuggled against his arm. Tim wanted to say something, anything, but couldn’t seem to find words to express his feelings. There were times when he really did still feel like the awkward geek from high school.



While she waited in the living room, Tim ran upstairs two at a time to reach the bedroom. The ring was in the drawer where he always had kept it, even after Donna had found it. Although he couldn’t explain why, there was a superstition about it staying in the same place that felt important to him. He grabbed it, paused for just a second to glance at it one more time, then hurried back down the stairs.



When he reached the bottom, Donna was waiting. Tim could see her trembling. She looked so fragile and innocent he wanted to hold that memory forever.



“If you don’t mind, I’d like to do this all over again,” he asked, worried she would think it was a little silly.



She gave him an understanding nod. “I was going to ask if you’d do it anyway.”



Tim got down on one knee again and repeated the proposal. When she said yes, the emotions felt every bit as strong as before for them both. He opened the box and put the ring on her finger, having to steady her hand. He rose and kissed her passionately then stepped back, and held her hands as he savored the moment. Donna was looking at the ring when she noticed her watch.



“Oh shit, Pete and Trisha are waiting for us.” They both laughed, knowing that our friends knew Tim well enough to expect him to be late.



Thirty minutes later, they walked into the restaurant and saw the couple waiting at a table. Donna ran to them to show off the ring. There were congratulations and hugs all around as they ordered champagne to celebrate. Trisha cried as Donna related the proposal and her insistence on the old ring. The night dragged on for hours, as the women started talking about how to plan the wedding.



“Guys,” Tim finally pleaded, feel exhausted. “We’ve been engaged for a couple of hours, can’t this wait until tomorrow?”



Trisha gave him an exasperated look and turned to Donna. “Men are completely clueless.”



~~~~~



October, 2006



Tim walked into the house at five o’clock sharp. He smiled, planning the things he wanted to do for Donna before she got home. It was pretty rare that he made it home from work before her. She had been remarkably tolerant of his schedule since the marriage, and he tried to make it up to her every opportunity he could.



As he walked toward the kitchen, he looked at their wedding photo, taken eleven months earlier. When it came to Donna, Tim always found it difficult to see her as anything other than stunningly beautiful, but seeing her that day left him speechless. He felt a twinge of pride, remembering the feeling of watching her walk down the aisle. Since her father had passed away, she asked Tim’s dad to escort her. It was an incredibly thoughtful gesture and he had never forgotten it.



If anything, their lives had continued to improve since that day, with both finding contentment and security with each other. That didn’t make everything perfect, however. There were some issues between them that had never reared their head in the college relationship. Tim found that for the first time in his life he felt jealousy. It didn’t happen often, but a part of him couldn’t seem to get past the idea that something bad could happen.



His newfound problem was without any apparent cause. Donna never gave him a reason to doubt her and seemed willing to bend over backward to address any of his concerns. She wasn’t without her limits, however. Several times, Tim pushed too hard and found himself on the receiving end of his wife’s normally hidden temper. When it came out, she could hold her own against anyone. Luckily, she was usually quick to forgive as well.



Those problems weren’t overwhelming, however. They had a wonderful marriage and a sex life that was beyond Tim’s wildest dreams. Donna had a great job that she loved, yet always found time to put their family first.



He smiled again at the picture of her from the wedding and turned to walk into the kitchen, intending to make dinner for her for a change. The sound of the phone ringing startled him out of his reverie. He walked over and picked up the receiver.



“Hello,” he said pleasantly.



“Hi, is Donna there?” a man’s voice asked.



Tim’s stomach churned like he’d been sucker-punched. “No, she’s not here. This is her husband, can I help you?” he replied tersely.



There was a click as the line went dead. Tim set the receiver down and stared at it, trying to make himself believe he had just imagined what he’d heard. Looking up he saw his reflection in the mirror, which showed a shaken man who looked like he’d seen a ghost.



Mother Fucker, he swore to himself. He stared at the phone, knowing there was no way he’d ever forget that voice, Jake.



~~~~~



“This is fabulous honey,” Donna said pleasantly. “What’s the occasion?”



Tim tried to hide his dark mood. “I just got home early and wanted to do something for you.”



She sensed his discomfort. “Tim, is something wrong? You’ve been distracted all night.”



“No,” he lied. “Just a tough day at work.”



“Well,” she said with a smile, “since you did something so thoughtful for me, how about if I clear the table, then return the favor?”



He thought about telling her he was too tired, but decided that it would be unfair since there was nothing indicating she’d done anything wrong. All night he had studied her closely for any sign of some problem or clue as to why Jake called or even why he had their number, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The voice in his head screamed that he should talk to her about it, but he pushed it away, opting to wait and not let her in on how much he knew.



Donna finished with the dishes and held out her hand. He took it and followed her upstairs, trying to shake off his doubts.



She hasn’t done anything, he reminded himself. At least nothing that I know of, the other voice added.



As they stepped into the bedroom, he did his best to put it out of his head, not wanting to spoil what was supposed to be a wonderful night with unsubstantiated suspicions.



Donna walked to the bed, undoing the buttons on her blouse. She shed it quickly, then stepped out of her slacks, turning to face him.



“Wow, I’ll never get tired of that view,” he said with a chuckle.



“And I’ll never get tired of you telling me you like it,” she answered with a smile, reaching behind to unclasp her bra. She shrugged her shoulders, letting it fall to the floor, then slid her panties down her legs. She stepped out of them, and put her hands on her hips, standing in front of him invitingly.



Tim stepped forward, taking her in his arms and kissing her longingly. She pulled away with a sly grin, her fingers working their way down his shirt. When she reached the last button, she leaned forward, kissing his neck. She moved lower, running her tongue down his chest, pausing to take a nipple in her mouth. Her eyes stared into his as she pulled back her lips and nibbled softly with her teeth.



“Oh wow,” he moaned, realizing that her hands were skillfully loosening his belt while he was distracted. Donna made a throaty moan as she kissed her way lower, sinking to her knees in front of him. His pants fell to the floor of their own weight, and her hand reached into the top of his boxers to grip his erection. She leaned forward, softly nibbling the shaft through the cloth.



“What do we have here?” she asked innocently, pulling the waistband down and sliding her mouth over the tip. Tim’s head fell back blissfully as her hand worked it’s way up and down, her tongue circling the tip. She looked intently into his eyes as her tongue ran up the shaft and across the head, pulling a strand of pre-cum with it and making a show of playing with it, before she took the head back into her mouth.



“Baby,” he moaned, as she urged him back until he was laying prone on the bed. She slid the rest of his clothes to the floor, then resumed her hand’s motion. She moved her mouth lower, taking his balls into her mouth, first one, than the other. Her tongue ran back up the shaft, taking one last nibble at the head, then she continued moving up his body, leaving a trail of saliva across his skin.



She reversed her grip, and aimed the tip at her opening, running it through her wet folds several times. When she was ready, Donna pushed back, allowing the shaft to sink inside her slowly.



“Oh yeah,” she groaned, reversing direction, sliding up a few inches, then pushing down until he was fully inside her. Her lips sought out his as she moved her hips forward and back in small motions, never rising off of him. Tim knew that when she was this aggressive, she was very turned on and knew exactly how to move to achieve a quick orgasm. He allowed her to control the tempo, content to let his hands run across her sides and back, savoring the softness of her skin.



“Almost…almost,” she cooed, letting him know not to move. “There!” she called out as her body shook uncontrollably.



Tim pulled her tightly against him, delighting in her obvious bliss. She kissed him hungrily as he rolled her to her back taking charge with long thrusts. He hooked an arm under her knee and raised it higher, achieving maximum penetration. His lips found her breast, and he nibbled at her nipple just hard enough to draw a moan of protest without altering the rhythm of his strokes.



Her breathing took on the cadence of his thrusts, letting him know she was already approaching a second climax. With a sudden motion he withdrew, causing her to whine in protest.



“Turn over,” he scolded. She rolled to her stomach and he pulled her up to her hands and knees. “You have such a great ass,” he said appreciatively, leaning forward to bite her on the cheek.



“Ouch!” she yelped in protest.



“Sorry…couldn’t resist.” He pulled her back onto her knees while standing on the floor behind her. His cock slid back inside her warmth easily, allowing him to increase the force of his thrusts.



“That’s it Tim, fuck me harder!” she cried.



He held her hips tightly, using the leverage to crash against her over and over in a frenzy of motion.



“Almost,” she whined. Tim knew he only had seconds before he lost control, so he reached under her and strummed her clit. Her body was covered in sweat and slid against him, the sensation so erotic that he couldn’t hold out any longer.



“Ah!” he cried, pushing against her as she collapsed to the bed. His body lay on hers as he came, his hand still trapped underneath. His fingertips continued stroking her as he thrust deeply and froze, lost in the sensation of her warmth.



Donna screamed into the pillow as her own orgasm hit just as his was finishing. Her body went through spasms more fierce than before, the walls of her sex gripping him so tightly he felt like he could come again.



He laid against her, feeling the ripples flow through her body. Gently he moved his arms around her, holding her close as she wound down from the exertion. When she stopped moving, he rolled over, pulling her with until they were on their sides, spooning. He could feel her heartbeat against his chest, her breathing slowly returning to normal. Tim leaned forward and kissed her behind the ear, drawing an additional shudder.



“Don’t start it unless you’re going to finish it,” she threatened.



“I surrender,” Tim said chuckling, still holding her tightly.



She looked so peaceful laying there, chest heaving, sweat glistening on her skin. Donna rolled over and kissed him tenderly, then squirmed under the blanket and snuggled back against him.



“That was wonderful,” she said sleepily. “I love you so much.”



As Tim watched her drift off to sleep he tried to assure himself that he believed her with all his heart.



~~~~~



“Are you out of your mind?” Trisha asked in disbelief. “There is no way she has anything to do with that asshole calling your house. Please tell me you are going to talk to her about it.”



Tim looked to Pete for help, but didn’t see any coming. He knew talking to them wasn’t going to be easy; they both had grown to love Donna and wouldn’t want to believe anything negative about her. The problem was, he didn’t know what to do and didn’t have anyone else to talk with. Despite Trisha’s strong objections, Tim still felt he needed to proceed cautiously, in case something was going on under his nose.



“What if she does know about it? If I tip her off then I’ll never know for sure what’s going on. He didn’t just call my house by accident, he asked for her. He knew that she was supposed to be there. I’m not going to jump to conclusions, but I want to keep this to myself for now.”



“Tim,” Trisha pleaded, trying to sound encouraging, “you told us yourself that he hurt her. Why would she want anything to do with him, even if she wasn’t married? She loves you and would never risk hurting you again.”



“I’m not accusing her of anything, Trisha,” he said, trying to sound restrained. “I do know that she agreed to do a lot of stupid things because she couldn’t seem to say no to the asshole. It doesn’t mean that I think she’s done anything wrong, but I need to know for sure. If she knows and hasn’t told me, I’d rather find out as much as I can before I talk to her. Otherwise, I’m always going to wonder if I know the whole story.”



Neither of his friends looked too happy about the decision, but Tim knew they respected him enough not to interfere.



Trisha looked at him sadly, “I hope you know what you’re doing.”



~~~~~



Tim watched closely for unusual happenings for two weeks. He had considered looking into a private eye or buying a bug for their phone, but thought that seemed too extreme. He still didn’t have any indication from Donna that she had a clue about what was going on. If he overreacted and did something stupid, it could lead to major problems between them. It was only two weeks until their anniversary, and the last thing he wanted to do was ruin it with some half-baked accusations.



There had been numerous calls on the answering machine where there was no message left. Tim continually checked the caller ID, but the ones that weren’t telemarketers came from an unlisted cell phone. Since there were a half-dozen calls from the same cell, he was very suspicious. However, it wasn’t the number that Jake called from the first time, so Tim was still stuck without knowing anything more than before.



He was trying to decide if he was just losing his mind when his cell phone rang. He saw that it was from Donna’s cell and picked it up immediately. “Hey gorgeous.”



“Hi sweetheart,” Donna answered. “I’m so sorry, but they want me to work over again. Michelle called in sick and there’s no one to cover until seven.”



Damn it Tim swore to himself. He tried to hide his disappointment. “This is the fourth time in two weeks, aren’t they going to get any help there soon.”



She sounded contrite, “Trust me honey, I’d much rather be home with you. I know this is a pain, but they are really understaffed here. They warned me that this might happen when I took the transfer. Please don’t be mad. I promise to make it up to you when I get home,” she said playfully.

“All right. With an offer like that, how can I be upset? Get back to work and I’ll stay here at work. I have stuff I really should take care of anyway, so this gives me the chance to do it without neglecting you. I’ll make sure I’m back in time to meet you at home. I’d like to spend some time together tonight. I love you.”



“I love you too, baby. I can’t wait.”



After he hung up he slammed his cell phone against the desk. As much as he tried understanding, the call from Jake made him want to spend extra time with her, just to make sure she knew he wasn’t taking her for granted. Unfortunately their jobs continued to get in the way. He knew being frustrated with her wasn’t going to make anything better either. It just seemed like the only answer was to trust her and tell her about the calls, hoping that it didn’t leave him vulnerable in case she was trying to hide something.



Tim shook his head at the ridiculous nature of his worries. Donna loved him, had done nothing to give him the hint that anything was wrong, and still he felt like he had to protect himself from the possibility that she was plotting against him.



He went back to work, wondering if he was just fucked up beyond repair.



~~~~~



“Front desk, can I help you?”



“Melissa? Is that you?” Tim asked.



“Hey Tim,” she cheerfully replied. “You just missed her.”



“Missed her?” he asked in confusion. “I thought she was working late again?”



He heard her voice sigh. “They got someone to cover her shift. She went to dinner at Spiaggia’s with some people from the morning shift. I think she’s coming back here before she goes home. Do you want me to give her a message?”



“That’s all right. I’ll just pop over and surprise her. It’s only about ten minutes from here.”



“Ok Tim. I’ve got to run,” she said, sounding annoyed to have been left out.



He hung up the phone and packed up his stuff to take home. Although he would have liked to spend the whole evening together, it was nice that the group was going out. He knew they needed to blow off some steam. Maybe he could even buy a round of drinks or something to show what a great husband she had.



Twenty minutes later, he pulled into the parking lot. He jumped out of the car and strolled to the door, looking forward to surprising her. When he stepped inside, Tim looked around and quickly spotted several tables moved together with a group of women and a few men. Any plans about impressing her coworkers flew out the window as he spotted Donna and the man sitting next to her. “Jake,” he spat under his breath. The man who’d haunted Tim’s nightmares for years looked almost the same as in college. He was a little thinner, but still obviously in great shape and was happily chatting with the women around him. As Tim worked his way around the aisle, he got a look at Donna, who didn’t appear to be happy.



Maybe she’s pissed that they can’t be alone, he thought bitterly. Taking a deep breath, Tim walked forward toward the table. As luck would have it, Jake saw him first. He grinned arrogantly and leaned back, his arms folded across his chest.



“Well, long time no see. It’s Todd, right?” he announced loudly.



Tim was fuming, but decided not to give him the satisfaction of letting it show. “No, it’s Tim,” he said, trying to sound pleasant. He promptly ignored Jake and turned to Donna, who looked like she was about to be sick. “I’m just here to say hi to my wife. If you’ll please excuse us,” he said, taking her arm and guiding her out the front door.



When they stepped out into the parking lot, she turned and tried to explain. “Tim, this is not what it looks like. If you’ll just…”



“I think you don’t need to finish that sentence,” he cut her off harshly, ignoring her pained expression. “Here you are, having a pleasant dinner with the guy that you fucked me over for seven years ago. I think that’s pretty self explanatory.” He paused to gather himself.



“I just wanted to say hi,” he said, feigning indifference. “Since you’re having such a good time, I’ll go. See you later.” He turned and walked toward his car.



“Tim please!” she begged, her voice beginning to crack. She grabbed his arm and spun him around. “This wasn’t my fault. I didn’t know he was going to be here. I came with Janet so I couldn’t just ask her to leave again when I walked in and saw him. Just let me come with you and I’ll explain everything.”



He thought for a few moments, weighing the options, then said, “Fine, I’ll give you thirty seconds to say goodbye to your friends, and I’ll be waiting at the front door. I’ll give you a ride to your car and you can follow me home. Then we’ll talk. If you’re not there when I pull up, I won’t be stopping.” His expression left no doubt that he was dead serious.



She nodded and wiped her eyes, which had begun to tear up. He watched her hurry inside, then turned and walked to the car wondering if there was anything she could possibly say that wouldn’t result in him telling her to pack her bags.



~~~~~



“It happened about four weeks ago,” Donna said, handing him a cup of coffee. She went back and poured herself a cup, then sat down, looking haggard. “I was just about to get on the elevator to go sign in when I heard a man’s voice say my name. I knew it was him without having to turn around.” Her shoulders slumped and she looked defeated.



“When I asked him what he was doing there, Jake said that he was working. After he didn’t make it in the NFL, he used his contacts at school to get a job as a personal trainer. He finished his degree and an alumni who is on the board of directors at the hospital got him a job at the rehab clinic. That’s the building at the North end of the grounds.”



Tim glared at her, “So when were you planning on telling me?”



Donna studied his face, searching for any trace of sympathy, but found none. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you that day, I really am. I told him not to bother me at work or I’d file a complaint. Since he wasn’t even going to be working in the same building as me, I wasn’t sure what I should do. If I told you, I knew it would bother you that he was around. I knew not telling you was wrong.” She buried her face in her hands. “I just didn’t know how to handle it.”



He gave her a second to compose herself, then said, “So you didn’t tell me because you knew you wouldn’t be seeing him?” When she nodded, he added angrily, “Then why did I find you having drinks with him today?”



“That wasn’t my fault,” she protested. “We got the night off at the last minute. Janet asked me to go out with a few of the girls for a drink after work. You said you needed to work late and I was already supposed to work until eight, so I said Ok. I thought I could have a nice meal with them, bring you something home, and have the rest of the night to relax with you.”



“When I got there, Jake was already sitting at the table. He came with one of the other girls. Janet drove me from the hospital, so there was no way I could make her leave without creating a scene. I called a cab, then sat down as far away from him as I could and just tried to ride it out. Then he went to the bathroom. When he came back he asked the girl sitting next to me if he could switch because we were ‘old friends from college.’ I tried to say no, but she moved anyway. There wasn’t anything I could do without exposing everyone to our personal life.”



“That’s when you came in.” Donna paused and looked at him curiously. “I don’t understand, how did you wind up there?”



“Oh no, don’t you dare turn this around on me,” Tim warned her, his voice rising until he was almost shouting. “I found out my loving wife was having dinner near my work and decided to drop by to let everyone know how special she was to me.” She looked stunned by his sarcasm.



“I wasn’t accusing you of anything,” she said softly, trying to defuse the situation. “I just didn’t understand why…never mind, it doesn’t matter. I’m sorry that happened; it must have been awful to see him there.” She turned her head and wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand. “I know how angry you must be, but please believe me, I didn’t tell you about him because I didn’t want you to be upset over nothing.”



“Nothing?” Tim fumed, “How is it nothing that your ex-boyfriend moves to town and gets a job where you work? How is it nothing that I find the two of you having drinks together? You have no idea how close you are to saying something that you won’t be able to take back.”



Donna’s expression changed to one of real fear. “Honey, I didn’t mean it like that. He doesn’t work with me; I haven’t seen him since the day I told him off. He’s in another building that’s not even connected to the hospital. If he had bothered me one time, I would have told you about it immediately. I told him to leave me alone the first time and never saw him again.”



Tim regarded her closely, trying to determine if there was anything else she was hiding. He couldn’t gauge any deception from her words or mannerisms, but that didn’t exactly make him feel better. The situation had caused him to doubt his own judgment as well as her trustworthiness.



“So you were going to tell me about it this time?” he asked cynically.



“Yes,” she answered, staring intently into his eyes. “I called a cab and was going to take it back to work, then drive home and talk to you about it as soon as you got here.”



Tim raised his eyebrows in an obvious display of disbelief.



“This is hard for me too,” she cried. “I didn’t want either of us having to relive it.”



“You mean you didn’t want to have to feel guilty about how you were behaving,” he spat.



Donna took a second to gather her thoughts, then reached across the table and touched his hand. “Tim, I was wrong not to tell you, I’m sorry. I thought since I told him not to bother me that it was better not to upset you. The truth is, after how long it took for you to start really trusting me again, I was afraid that this might set us back.”



He shook off her hand and stood up, “Well, congratulations. You not being honest with me about him was definitely the best way to bolster my faith in you.” He stormed out of the kitchen, ignoring the sounds of her crying.



~~~~~



“Tim, would you like some dinner,” Donna asked timidly.



It had been two days since the blow-up over her after work party and things had been very tense. They slept in the same bed, but had hardly spoken and hadn’t touched. When he arrived home from work, Tim found her quietly reading in the kitchen. Since he wasn’t ready to talk, he politely said hi, then went into the den and tried to do some work on the computer. She came in a short time later to see if he was hungry.



Tim sighed; his head feeling like it was going to explode. “Thank you, dinner would be nice.”



“Sweetheart, are you all right?” she asked with obvious concern.



“Yeah, I’ll be fine.”



He sensed her approaching from behind, then felt her warm hands touch his face. Her thumbs began a soft rotating motion against his temples, causing a wave of relaxation to wash over him. Reflexively, he leaned back against her. He found the warmth of her body and familiar scent of her perfume comforting. It made him want to believe her; made him want this whole fight to be over.



If the situation was reversed, would I really be anxious to run and tell Donna my old girlfriend had come to town and contacted me. It would be the right thing, but since when do we always do what’s right? he wondered. After all, it’s not like I’ve told her everything either.



All of these thoughts had been bouncing around in his head for two days, causing a splitting headache. It had been throbbing for hours. As he felt her tender caresses, any remaining resolve drained away.



“I love you Tim,” she said softly, leaning her head against his. “I’m so sorry.” Her voice sounded thin and afraid.



He turned and really looked at her for the first time since the fight. Her eyes were swollen from crying and had dark circles under them. She was so pale it was alarming. Her shoulders sagged, almost like she had been carrying an unbearable weight. Slowly, he pulled her close and wrapped his arms around her, letting her head rest against his shoulder.



“I know, sweetheart. I’m sorry too.” Tim felt her knees buckle as she fell into his lap.



“I know it was stupid not to tell you about Jake. The whole thing was like a bad nightmare. I just wanted it to go away.” She whispered, sobbing softly.



“Donna, I thought about it and don’t know what I would have done in your place. I wish you had told me, it would have made a big difference, but I understand how awkward it was for you. I still don’t like him being around you, but it’s not your fault that he’s here. I believe what you told me, but from now on, there can’t be any more secrets. You’re my wife and no matter what, we have to trust each other with everything.”



She nodded, refusing to relinquish her contact with me. “No more secrets,” she promised.



Tim held her tightly, hoping he had done the right thing, but unable to shed his nagging doubts.



~~~~~



“Well, it’s good you two finally started acting like a husband and wife,” Trisha scolded. “Did you tell her about the phone calls?”



Tim sighed. “No, there was so much going on that it didn’t come up.” Seeing Trisha’s disbelieving stare, he continued. “Look, she was crying, I was stressed out; it just didn’t seem like the right time.”



“So what about tonight? What will your excuse be then?”



“No excuses, Trisha. I’m going to talk to her about the phone calls and everything else. I know that I made a mistake by not doing it in the first place. But I’m not going to do it the day before our anniversary. We need a couple of days to ourselves before we go right back into that morass. I didn’t tell her about the phone calls. There’s no way to spin that without her knowing I didn’t trust her. It’s going to hurt and I know it. I won’t do that to her before such a big day. It’ll ruin everything.”



“Okay, but are you really going to tell her then, or are you going to keep finding reasons to put it off.”



Tim looked at her in exasperation. “Trisha, I know you’re right, but it’s difficult. I was wrong to keep it from her. Ever since she has come back, part of me has been holding back. I love her, but it’s impossible for me to completely let go. I thought it would just happen as we went on, but it hasn’t.”



“Nothing just happens,” she reminded him. “Pete and I have gotten where we are by talking to each other, and not being afraid to fight when it was called for. You two are wonderful together, but you still act like you’re walking on eggshells sometimes; especially since that bastard called your house.”



“I know, and I’m sure it’s my fault. The entire reason she didn’t tell me is because she was afraid I’d throw it back in her face. Ever since he called I’ve just been angry. I get mad about everything, most of all that I haven’t done anything to deal with him. Pete told me I needed to, but instead of dealing with him, I watched her to see if she was lying to me.”



He looked at his friend intently. “I promise you that after the anniversary I’m going to sit her down and we’re going to talk. I’ll tell her about his calls, I’ll be honest with her about my reaction, and I am going to change. I’m going to find a way to get past this crap for once and for all. After that, I’m going to take your husband’s advice and confront the son of a bitch. I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but I’m the one with the great job and the great life. I’m also the one she chose. That’s the only thing that matters.”



“Now that’s the young man I’m so fond of,” Trisha said, leaning forward to kiss his cheek. “Just open your heart up to her. She won’t let you down and you two will be better than ever.”



~~~~~



“Come on, we’re going to be late, slowpoke. I thought women were the ones who were supposed to take too long to get ready,” Donna chided.



Tim took a second to admire her in the beautiful red evening gown adorned with lace that she was wearing. “Well, considering the way you look, Mrs. Sullivan, I’m just trying not to embarrass you.



She beamed at the compliment. “Mr. Sullivan,” she cooed, “you could never embarrass me.” Donna leaned in and kissed him, lingering just long enough to hint at what was to come later. “Now go wash your face and stop making me redo my makeup.”



He smiled; grateful they could repair the damage in time to properly celebrate their anniversary. Although things had been subdued he was optimistic about how quickly they seemed to bounce back. His suspicions faded quickly, replaced by the belief that Jake had been trying to find a way to get to Donna, but that she shut him down, just like she claimed. He pushed those thoughts aside and promised himself to enjoy the moment with his beautiful bride.



All we need is some time without any drama, he assured himself. We’ll be fine.



A half hour later, they walked into the restaurant Trisha had recommended. It was supposed to be one of the best in town, both for the food and the atmosphere. Tim watched proudly as heads turned, drawn to the beautiful woman on his arm. The waitress escorted them to the table and brought a bottle of champagne. The couple laughed and chatted happily for fifteen minutes, enjoying their drinks and appetizer while they waited for the main course. Before it arrived, Donna excused herself to go to the ladies room.



Tim watched her walk away, then turned his attention to the band. They were very good, playing a selection of soft Jazz that added a touch of class to the atmosphere. After several songs, he realized that he was still sitting alone, so scanned the room for Donna. He checked his watch and realized she had been gone almost fifteen minutes.



Where in the world is she? The steaks will be here soon he thought.



After the band finished another song, Tim started to get concerned. He rose from his chair, wondering what would be the discreet way to check the ladies room to see if she was all right.



“No really, you don’t have to get up on my account,” a voice said from behind.



Tim spun in shock, “What the fuck are you doing here?” he said angrily.



“What kind of way is that to treat an old friend?” Jake asked with a malevolent smile. “I was just here catching up with Donna, she’ll be out in a few minutes. I really should have given her your anniversary off, but she just can’t seem to control herself around me. Never has been able to.”



“You’re a fucking liar,” Tim hissed, keeping his voice down to avoid a scene. “She doesn’t want anything to do with you.”



Jake leaned his head back and laughed like they were old friends sharing a joke. “Timmy, I’ve been tapping that for a month now. You mean she hasn’t said anything about it to you? My feelings are hurt. Next time, I might make her beg me before I’ll fuck her, as punishment.”



Tim felt like his head was spinning. Jake has to be lying. Donna wouldn’t do that to me…to us.



The feelings of doubt he had experienced earlier in the week hit him like a truck. Adrenaline coursed through his body, causing him to tremble uncontrollably. His body shut down, frozen where he stood; unable to move.



“I don’t believe you. She’ll be out here in a minute and this shit will be over, forever.” Tim said it with more conviction than he felt.



“Well, far be it from me to spoil your party, but since you just won’t believe me, I guess I’ll have to prove it. Did you check out the sexy black lace panties she’s wearing under that pretty dress?”



Tim couldn’t respond, realizing he hadn’t seen Donna get dressed. She had been very secretive about it while they were getting ready. She told him it was a surprise for later. Jake saw his blank look and grinned.



“Well I left quite a mess. When she gets done cleaning up, ask her if she was able to salvage them. I can’t believe she shaved her pussy for me now, I couldn’t get her to do it in college.”

==============================



Gamer Goddess vs the Real World



As mentioned in chapter 1, this story is very online-gaming-centric. It uses a lot of concepts, vocabulary and acronyms from games, especially Diablo 3, which this story revolves around.



Overall, I’d categorize this entire story as a Romance. I decided to submit Chapter 1 as exhibitionist/voyeur due to Sheri’s emotional breakthrough via the online world, and video chat. I submitted this chapter as the same, because of the video elements, even though I believe relationships are the heart of this tale. And not just the one between Sheri and Steve.




==============================



Date night.



I was nervous. No denying it. I had a few preparations to take care of, but I pulled up in the stretch limo by 6:30. Not by accident. By invitation.



Sheri’s father came down the steps of their brownstone, stealthily peeking back at the house. The driver opened the door, and he climbed in quickly.



“Jon Elsworth,” he said by way of introduction, extending his hand.



“Steve Jeffery, pleased to meet you.”



He leaned back and looked me over. “So you’re the magic man.”



I grinned. “How am I supposed to respond to that?”



“Proudly? She’s out of her room. Getting dressed up. Going out, with a man. I don’t know how you did it, but I had to meet the miracle worker.”



“I appreciate it. She’s an amazing woman.”



He smiled. “No argument from me. Her mother tells me you know her history.”



“Only from reports. We haven’t spoken about it. I didn’t want to look too deep. It’s her business, not mine.”



“Once you walk up those steps, it becomes your business. It’s shaped her life ever since. You’re playing a dangerous game here,” he said.



“Sir, no offense, but this is hardly a game.”



“From what I hear, it’s all about a game. It sounds like you’re good. If you’ve mastered that one, maybe you can figure this one out. You’ll never play a more complex or rewarding one.”



“Anything I should know?” I asked.



“Wish I could help you. I do. She puts up with me, barely. I see her struggle, flinching if I even touch her. Do you know what that’s like? Your baby can’t stand your touch. Lying in that hospital bed, broken, and she screamed when I hugged her. Screamed. All I wanted to do was hold her and protect her. I couldn’t even be in a room with her alone for weeks. My daughter. My only child. I failed her.”



I didn’t know what to say. It was difficult to hear.



“How did you do it? I have to know,” he asked, practically begging.



“I’m not real to her. An avatar in game. A voice over a speaker. A fantasy boyfriend over a webcam. She’s playful, joking, flirting, teasing, an absolute joy, but it’s only possible in the abstract. I don’t have high hopes for this working out, when I become flesh and blood to her. Still, I want to give it a try.”



“Her mother and I will be praying for you. It’s her cousin’s engagement party. Her closest friend. She wouldn’t chance this for anyone but her. She’ll know almost everyone there. Still, you’ll have to help her. Keep the men at bay. One hug, one grabbed arm, even brushing against her could ruin everything. Once she loses it, she’s useless. For days. Do your best, please. Protect my girl.”



“I’ll do what I can. You can count on that.”



“I have to go back. I’ll see you in a few minutes.” He shook my hand again, nervously. I couldn’t say I blamed him. We had matching sweaty palms.



I spent a few minutes confirming everything was set. All my failsafes were in play, reservations ready. I had a few items ready for her within the Limo. I was almost certain we’d need them; I only hoped it was enough.



I felt like a teenager going on his first date. I was excited and nervous. I kept checking my tablet nervously, texting Dan and Jaime. They were great as always, trying to settle me down.



At five minutes ’til, I grabbed the orchid and got out of the Limo. I walked up the stairs to the brownstone and waited a bit, breathing deeply, thinking calming thoughts. We were friends, Sheri and I. Good friends. That should carry us through. I trusted her, and I believe she trusted me.



My knock on the door was answered almost immediately. Jon let me in, shaking my hand. “He’s here!” he shouted toward the back of the house.



God, he looked more nervous than me. He was sweating bullets, rocking back and forth on his heels. I put my hand on his shoulder. “Relax, Jon. It happens or it doesn’t. If this turns out to be a flop, we’ll retreat, and try again later. I’m in it for the long-haul.”



“I don’t get it,” he said. “We’ve tried everything, counselors, therapists, drugs, group, none of it has helped very much. Then out of the blue, you’re here. I don’t get it.”



“I suspect everything else did work, at least some. It’s been a journey, and I was the one lucky enough to be there when she was ready to take the next step.”



An attractive, elegant woman, I’d guess in her early 40′s, came tearing down the steps. “She’s on her way, just a couple more minutes.” She turned toward me, glancing at her husband.



“Carolyn, this is Steve Jeffery, our daughter’s date for the evening. Steve, this vision of loveliness is my wife, Carolyn.”



I took her hand, leaning over to kiss it, formally, when she pulled me into her arms, tears rolling down her lovely face. “I don’t know how you did it, but I can never thank you enough.”



I held her up and brushed her tears away, trying to stifle my own. “No tears now. Please. Thank you for trusting me with her.”



She nodded, wiping her face.



I turned to Jon. “Is Max around?”



He nodded. “Kept him in back, didn’t need you both covered with dog hair.”



“Could you get him? I think it’ll help. He’s a bond, and I would like to meet him anyway.”



Jon seemed a little confused, but he walked away, and couple of minutes later that gorgeous chocolate lab came bounding in and greeted me like a long lost friend. I knelt down and hugged him, rubbing behind the ears, playfully. He rolled over and I scratched his belly, aggressively, getting his leg kicking.



“Oh, that’s great,” I heard from the stairs. “Friggin’ Max steals my big entrance scene.”



I looked up, laughing, and stopped in shock. She was stunning. The pink dress, with hints of lavender, was form-fitting, full length, a slit up the left side to mid-thigh. Spaghetti straps, no sleeves, the front curving over the top of her breasts, diving down daringly between them, showing plenty of cleavage. Her hair was up, long wisps falling in front of her ears, drop earrings hanging from her lobes. No glasses tonight. Simple necklace, looked like platinum and diamonds, short, accentuating her slender neck more than her breasts. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think.



She paused in mid-step, looking around. “Is…is something wrong?” she asked nervously.



Her mother laughed, “No baby, that’s a natural reaction. You’re going to have to get used to it.”



“You…you’re so beautiful, baby,” her father said softly.



She chuckled, walking carefully down the steps, her heels obviously something she wasn’t too comfortable with. “Sure Dad. I bet you say that to all your girls.”



He grinned. “I do. Doesn’t make it any less true.”



She looked at me. “Well?”



I had struggled to recover, and took the coward’s way out. “What do you think, Max? She good enough to go out with us?”



She stood over me, glaring at her puppy. “Max, you fucking traitor. Rolling over for him the minute he walks in the door.”



I stood, and Max rubbed up against me, while I opened the flower box. “Bro-code, Cherry. You know how it goes.” I grinned. “You do look lovely. Not my favorite outfit of yours, but it’ll do in public.”



She grinned, blushing. “Don’t start.” She chuckled, “You know I got PerZeus’s bracers today.”



I laughed, casually reaching forward and pulling her dress away from chest, sliding my fingers inside and pinning the corsage on. “You’re shitting me! I talked to him today, and he never mentioned a thing. How the hell did you manage that?”



I saw her tense up a bit, especially when my fingers brushed against her skin. I tried to keep her engaged in our virtual world conversation. She laughed, and it was a beautiful, easy going joyous sound. “I told him I was going to cancel our date, since I couldn’t trust your friends. I had him shitting bricks. I could have stripped his character completely.”



“That’s mean,” I teased her, adjusting the flower, and patting it in place. “You didn’t mean it, I hope. You know you can trust him.”



She kicked me teasingly. “Of course I didn’t mean it. Doesn’t mean I can trust him. I know you can, but that’s not the same.”



“Do you have a leash for Max?” I asked.



“Leash?” Jon looked surprised.



“Yeah. She promised me a package deal. No Max, no date, no way,” I teased, winking.



Sheri started to say something, but thought better of it, turning to her mother. “Did he screw up the corsage?” she asked, with a sly glance toward me. “Barbarians have never been known for their sense of style.”



Her mother played with it for a few seconds, leaving it exactly as it was. Jon showed up with the leash and attached it to Max. He stood looking at his girl, trembling. I knew he wanted to reach out to her, but couldn’t.



I think Sheri surprised all of us, including herself, when she gave her father a brief hug. “Thanks Dad, for everything. I couldn’t do this without you. I love you.”



We left him with tears in his eyes, while Max tried to kill me, dragging me down the steps.



The driver opened the door for us. Although horribly uncouth, I got in second, following Max, and tied his leash down, tossing him a treat to get him to settle. I scooted in as far as I could, and she climbed in afterward, suddenly looking horribly nervous. The driver closed the door after her.



“I lied. I think that’s my second favorite outfit of yours,” I told her.



She smiled awkwardly. “Bunny PJs number one?”



“Right the first time. How’d you know?”



She reached out and smacked me.



“Nervous,” I asked her.



She nodded.



“Want to talk about it?”



She shook her head. I could sense the anxiety building up, her breathing getting faster. Time for the first of my crutches, and by far the most important. I hoped to God I had guessed right.



“Turn to look out the window, Cherry, your back toward me. Trust me.”



She turned, slowly, and I reached around her and place the 10″ tablet in her hands. She looked down at it, into my smiling face.



I turned away from her, our backs maybe a foot apart. I looked into my matching tablet. “You’re not going to wuss out on me. Don’t make me get the boobies and booty involved. You know they’ll side with me.”



Her face on the screen grinned. “Not tonight. I made them promise. I gave them my own bribes. They’re both very happy right now. And nothing as cheap and gauche as Victoria’s Secret.”



“Jesus, Sheri! Frederick’s? You really think that’s fair?”



She leaned over, and pulled her top out a little, showing me a lacy pink and red bra. “All’s fair in love and war.”



“I picked up some loot today,” I told her. “Open the compartment on the door.”



She reached off screen, and came back with a box. “Can I open it?”



“You know I need to gear you up. Someone gave you a hell of an amulet, but I think you need this. Go ahead.”



She opened the box and gasped. “Stats?”



“Primary is +100 Courage and Beauty. I think the beauty’s wasted, pretty sure you’ve already maxed out there. Also has some other crap, like 120 resist to fear.”



She laughed, putting it on her finger. “Noob. Fear has a 70 max.”



“70 Fear resist, plus vampiric resist from teammates. As long as I’m nearby, you have nothing to fear. Ever.”



“What’s the stone?”



“Perfect Star Ruby, sorry it doesn’t match your outfit and other jewelry better.”



She laughed, “God, who’s the noob now, AceHole? Any pro knows you don’t go for the matching sets unless there’s an ungodly bonus. This is perfect. Do I want to know how much I’m going to owe you for this one?”



“Please don’t ask. I can’t give you a fair price for being with you tonight. No way I can afford that.”



She giggled, and I felt her back touch mine softly. “According to Dad, you can afford a hell of a lot.”



“Not you. Not this. Don’t make me get all sappy, now, right before we have to hit the dungeon.”



“I’ll have you at my side, like always. Watching out for me.”



“And vice versa. No Dead Ends this time Ok? We’re playing hardcore.”



I leaned back a little and felt more of her weight against my back.



“We can handle this, right?” she asked.



“Stupid question and you know it. Is there anything in game that you and I can’t handle together?”



She shook her head. “No. You’re right. We make a hell of a team. PerZeus is jealous you know.”



“Of course. Who wouldn’t be? Smart, sexy, gorgeous, and a kick-ass gamer. You got it all babe.”



“No, silly. He’s jealous of me. Taking all your time.”



“Maybe a little. He’s been #1 since 9th grade. Even most of the time during my marriages. That probably should have told me something. Guess I’m kind of ignorant in some areas.”



“Sandy’s my PerZeus. The one always there for me. I wouldn’t do this for anybody else. Thank you for making this possible.”



Her back was pressed firmly against mine, her voice louder in my ear, than from the tablet. I was barely looking at it, preferring to watch her reflection in the window. But the ruse worked. It took us just far enough from reality to let her open up.



The Limo pulled to a stop, and backed into the space across from her cousin’s place. We’d been holding it all day. I felt her nervousness return. She closed the tablet and put it to the side.



“Take it. Take the tablet,” I told her.



“I’ll look like an idiot,” she whispered, sorrowfully.



“No you won’t. Your cousin loves you, she’ll understand. Being here is the biggest gift you could ever give her and she knows it. If the tablet helps, that’s all that matters. Anytime you get nervous, for any reason at all, turn away from the crowd, and look for me online. I’ll be there.”



The door was open for her to get out, and she wasn’t moving. At least she had picked up the tablet again.



“See where the Limo is? It’ll be here all night, and Max is here waiting for you. If it gets bad, come back to the Limo. Don’t even worry about me. You got that?”



She nodded.



“Then get your cute butt out there. Time to farm. Loot and XP. Nobody’s better than us.”



She turned and smiled for me. “We’re the best, aren’t we?”



“No doubt. Hell, you’re almost as good as me,” I teased.



“Asshole,” she giggled, climbing out of the vehicle.



“AceHole, short for Ace in the Hole. That’s what I am for you. Your secret advantage.”



She waited for me outside of the vehicle, and I reached for her gently, turning her toward the driver. “CherryBomb, meet GnuMeat. He’ll be out here if you need him. You can trust him with your life. I do.”



He smiled, but didn’t stick out his hand. “300 lb. neckbeard, Steve? Think you missed it on this one.” He wasn’t a big guy, maybe 5’10″ but he had that hard look that came from working for a living. His family were mechanics, and he’d worked in a garage as soon as he knew one tool from the other. His rough look hid his sharp brain. Master’s degree in mechanical engineering from MIT. Lead Mech E in all of our fledgling companies.



He wasn’t done with her. “I hate to say this, and he’ll probably kick my ass for it, but I have to warn you. You fuck with him, you betray him, and heaven and earth won’t save you.”



I was in his face before he could finish. “YOU STUPID FUCK! How can she trust you now, after you threatened her? Get the fuck out of my face! Get lost. I’ll find someone else who has my back.”



He shrugged. He backed up, looking at Sheri. “What I said. Remember it.”



I had my phone out, already dialing Dan.



“Stop,” she told me, her hand on my arm.



“No. I need someone here. Someone I can trust.”



“He’s the one. I know it. He’d never let you down. I’ll never betray you, so his words are just so much shit. I want him here. Please.” Her hand squeezed my arm, and I looked up at her. She meant it.



“You sure? I can have someone here in 10 minutes.”



“I’m sure.”



I looked over at Mark, who was standing there, acting like he didn’t have a care in the world. “Tonight, you’re here for her, not me. You fuck this up, and you and I are going to have it out. You understand me?”



“Don’t fucking talking to me like that. I’m not some hired punk. You forgotten everything? Who has your back? I’m here. I’ll do whatever it takes. Always. Fuck you, if you think otherwise, asshole. Fuckin’ skirt has your brain fucked up again.”



Sheri stepped in front of me, glaring at him. “Fuck you, GnuMeat. I’ve got his back, in game and out. Not like some sissified glass-cannon, taking his shots from a distance and kiting his way through the elites while Ace and I do the heavy lifting. You sit back and take your shots, but I’ve got his back. And he has mine.”



Mark smiled. “Good. You remember that. Don’t forget who has the 120K DPS in the background, ready to do serious damage if needed.”



She turned and grabbed my hand, stomping toward the entrance. I was surprised by her response. I think she was as well, and released me after half-a-dozen steps. “Sorry,” she mumbled.



I took her hand in mine, and she didn’t pull away. “My girlfriend can hold my hand anytime she wants. As long as she has my back.”



She nudged me with her shoulder. “Don’t tease me.”



“Wouldn’t dream of it. I liked the way you shot him down. Too cool.”



She giggled. “Damn, he pissed me off! I’d neuter him in game.”



I looked up at the three story edifice in front of us. We were on the avenue, and all the buildings facing the road were old and stately. It was a mixed neighborhood. One block over, off the main drag, many of the buildings which had once housed the well-to-do had been converted into apartments. Not low rent by any means, but nothing like the places around us. Someone had money, but I guess that shouldn’t surprise me.



She stopped and gave my hand a squeeze, then dropped it. I watched her take a deep breath.



“You Ok?” I asked.



“I think so. I need a moment, that’s all.”



A figure standing in the dark by the entrance stepped toward us. “You lose those bracers, your scrawny ass is mine,” he growled.



She grinned. “PerZeus?”



“Dan for tonight,” he said, standing tall in his form fitting tux. At least as tall as he could. Not an especially imposing figure, at about 5’7″ and maybe a buck fifty.



She laughed. “I expected someone a little…bigger.”



“Laugh it up, sweet cheeks. I own your ass in game, and we both know it.”



“For now. We’ll see how I do with my amazing new epic bracers,” she said, poking away at him.



“Jesus, lady. Even out of game, you’re a piece of work.”



She walked over and I was surprised once more when she put her hand on his arm. “Thank you for being here. You…I think I can…”



He grinned. “I know, irresistible. It’s a curse. I can’t help it.”



She smacked him playfully. “Way to ruin a moment, jackass.”



His big smile disappeared for a moment. “Hey, just so you know, you’re worth all of it. I appreciate that you can stand here with me. It means a lot. Big props, half-pint.”



She smiled. “Ditto.” She walked back to me, “What’s his role?”



“Joining us inside. You get nervous or upset, and I’m not around, he’s there for you. My brother by another mother, he won’t let you down.”



He nodded. “Whatever you need, sugar britches. I got your back.” He grinned. “Awfully nice backside, I might add. Definitely worth watching.”



I saw her fiddling with her iPad for a second, adjusting her grip, as if to verify it was still there. “I guess we can’t stand out here forever.”



I put my elbow out to escort her, and a few seconds later I felt her hand slip in and grab my bicep. I kind of wished it was bigger. She gave me a squeeze. “Take lead.”

We walked up and through the outside door. In the vestibule a man opened the door for us, letting us in, and the noise of the festivities out.



There must have been close to 100 people in there, and it was pretty crowded near the door. I felt Sheri’s hand grip my arm tightly. “Dan,” I said.



He stepped around us, and started walking through the crowd. I followed, with Sheri in his shadow. People were looking at us as we passed, and I heard the whispering, and a hush in our wake.



Mostly, I was looking for a break in the crowd, some space to get settled in. Someone had other plans.



I heard the squeal before I saw her. A tall leggy brunette, skinny but damned pretty, came barreling up to us. “Sheri!” she cried out, and a moment later my date was engulfed in her arms.



“God, I’m so glad you’re here! You have to meet Robert. You going to be Ok with that? He’s been dying to meet you. He knows…” she said.



Sheri was grinning. “I wouldn’t miss your engagement party for anything. I’d love to meet him.” She looked over at me. “Sandy, this is Steve.”



I started to present myself, then I was fighting to keep my balance as our hostess leaped up and threw her arms around my neck, kissing me on the lips. Hard. I don’t think I could have been more stunned.



“The infamous AceHole! Steve, you’re my hero. Thank you so much,” she gushed. “Anything you need, anything I can do for you that my fiancée would approve of, is yours for the asking.” She grinned teasingly. “Maybe a little more if you can keep a secret. Hell, maybe a lot more.”



Sheri was pulling her cousin’s arm off me. “Harlot! He’s mine! Damn it, you’ve got your own.”



Sandy had an infectious laugh. “No shit. Anyone seeing him hover over you would know you’re his. Shit girl, hit the jackpot much?”



I felt myself blushing. Dan came to the rescue. “Hey Cherry, what am I, chopped meat?”



She laughed. “Mr. Manners here is with us, if you don’t mind. Dan’s responsible for bringing hot-stuff and I together. Please forgive him if he drools or wets himself. He’s not quite house-trained yet.”



Sandy turned and gave him a big hug as well. “PerZeus is more than welcome. If he did nothing else ever, bringing you guys together would put me in his debt. I’ll task one of the help with cleaning up after him.”



He grinned. “I can keep secrets, if the same deal is on.”



She laughed. “No way, Jose. I know Steve is too much of a gentleman to take me up on it. Just like I know that you’re not.”



“Hey!” I interjected. “Who says I’m a gentleman?”



She looked at me smirking. “Really? White Knight and all, you think it doesn’t show? Face it, bub, you’re toast already.” She turned back to Sheri, grabbing her hand. “Come on, I’ve got a nice little spot staked out for you, and Robert really is dying to meet you.”



Sheri reached back and grabbed my arm, squeezing my wrist painfully tight, as she was dragged into the depths of the house. A quick turn to the side, and we were suddenly standing in an oasis of peace, beside a column and behind a couch. Sandy turned and took Sheri by the shoulder, guiding her to the wall. She took me by the arm. “You, here,” she said, establishing my post at Sheri’s side, basically blocking access to anyone from behind the couch.



She walked over and took Dan by the elbow. “You’re a hell of a friend, aren’t you?”



“What are friends for?” he asked.



She leaned up and gave him a peck on the cheek. “This is your spot. Don’t worry, I’ll send a few single lovelies by to keep you entertained. You know your role, right? No more than one guy at a time gets back there.”



He nodded. “Got it. I gotta meet this Robert guy. Seems like a lucky dude.”



She laughed, giving him a squeeze. “You have no idea, sugar.”



Sheri had seemed Ok, but I could tell she was getting a little flustered. She was shifting her weight, her eyes scanning the crowd.



“No worse than crossing that damned bridge in Act III,” I said.



She looked up at me, and I saw a hint of a smile. “I was thinking the castle rampart catapults, and your job is to protect me, while those hordes of nasties keep coming.”



“Shit, that’s too easy. I’m used to protecting three of ‘em. One little girl shouldn’t be too hard.”



She kicked out at me, connecting with my shin. “Watch who you’re calling little girl.”



“Ok, one gorgeous, stacked girl, with a hellacious ass shouldn’t be too hard to protect.”



She smiled, “The girl, the boobies and the booty all thank you, kind sir.” She looked up, “…and it starts.”



Sandy and, I assumed, her beau, walked past Dan single file. Not much choice, the way he had the opening blocked off. “Here she is Rob, my favorite person in the whole wide world.”



He smiled, not offering his hand. “Thank you so much. You know you made her night.” He turned back to Sandy. “Hey! Wait a second. I thought I was your favorite person!”



“No way. Favorite male person, and at the moment, that’s just by a hair, considering Steve here got her out of the house, and the way you’ve been flirting with the Bobbsey twins.”



He blushed. “You shouldn’t leave me alone with those girls. They could eat a man alive.”



I stuck out my hand. “Steve, second favorite male person. Behave yourself. I doubt I could survive being first.”



He laughed, giving me a firm shake. “No shit. Tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.”



Sandy smacked him playfully. She seemed like an awfully physical girl. Not that I thought there was anything wrong with that. “Tough job, is it? Maybe I should see if there’s anybody else that would like the position.” She turned and looked over her shoulder. “I bet Dan would be up to it.”



Robert pulled his fiancée close, and smacked her bottom playfully. “You don’t really want bloodshed at our party, do you, love?”



“I see one of those girl’s hands on your ass again, and we’ll be knee deep in it,” she answered, giving him a hard look.



Sheri seemed to be enjoying the little tête-à-tête. “Maybe I should check out that irresistible butt,” she said.



Sandy’s draw dropped. “Et tu, Sheri!”



My girl giggled. “You were manhandling my date earlier, dear cousin.”



Robert gave her a look, and she blushed. “Jesus, you always were a tattle-tale. It was just a hug.”



“And a kiss,” Sheri teased.



“A small kiss,” Sandy argued.



“On the lips.” Sheri seemed to be getting a kick out of this.



“Closed mouth,” Sandy whined.



“Mostly,” I teased.



She gasped at me. “Keep it up, and you won’t be number two much longer.”



I laughed. “I’m not saying your mouth wasn’t closed, beautiful.” I gave Robert a wink.



His laughter was loud and strong. “Damn. I think we’re going to get on just fine. I think a kiss for number two is definitely in line. That’s all though. I wouldn’t want you to have to kick my ass.”



Robert was a big guy, a good 6’2″ and obviously in great shape. I doubt if I could take him. No way I’d even want to try, he did seem like a good guy.



“That’s all. I’d hate to bleed all over your nice new outfit. Besides, look who I’m here with. She’d skin me alive first.”



“And salt you down, after,” Sheri said.



Sandy took her man in hand. “The four of us. Soon, Ok?”



Sheri nodded. “I’d like that.”



“You’re sure?” her cousin asked, a little nervously, glancing at her man.



“Definitely. I can’t stay cooped up forever, and if I can pry my man away from his myriad responsibilities for a bit, there’s nobody I’d rather spend time with.”



I saw Sandy’s eyes mist up, then she leaned in and hugged her cousin. “I love you,” she said softly.



“Me too,” Sheri whispered.



I almost lost it when Sandy moved her lips to Sheri’s in a kiss better than the one I’d received. “I can’t thank you enough,” Sandy murmured.



“Shh. It’s cool. Everything. Go to your man.”



Sandy pulled away, wiped her eyes, then reached up and pulled my head down, kissing me on the lips, her mouth a little less closed this time, her tongue caressing my lip briefly. “You,” she said huskily. “I…shit, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”



Damn if I didn’t feel a moistness in the corner of my own eye. Just the left one you understand. Only one drop. I’m no friggin’ wuss.



“I’m the lucky one,” I told her.



Her lips turned back up, and Sandy wiped her eyes again. “I hope you know just how lucky you are.”



“Luckiest man in the world,” I told her, “with perhaps present company excluded.”



She grabbed her husband-to-be and started to walk away. “Gotta mingle, and there are a lot of old friends dying to stop by. Let me know if it gets to be too much.” She stopped and turned back. “You let this one go, I’m locking him in my basement. He’s too good to let get away.”



“Hey!” Robert said.



“Oh, don’t worry dear. It would only be for when you’re on travel. That’s, what, about 50% of the time? I promise, the babies will all be yours.” She laughed, dragging him off. He looked back at us, and rolled his eyes.



“She always like that?” I had to ask.



“This is one of her tame nights. He’s good for her,” Sheri said.



With the ice broken, a steady stream of old girlfriends stopped by, some chatting briefly, while others seemed reluctant to go. Several asked if she’d be around and if they could get together some time. Sheri didn’t commit to any of them, but promised she’d be in contact.



I seemed to be getting a lot of attention. More than I was comfortable with. When the women showed up in twos or threes, too many of them found it necessary to stand very close. A few wandering hands found my waist, and one even crept a little lower.



Sheri noticed that. As soon as the offender was away she glared at me. “Public toilet would be cleaner. Tramp.”



“I feel so dirty,” I told her. “Used. How do you girls stand it?”



She tried to keep a straight face, then poked me. “Don’t even think about it, bucko. You’re all mine.”



I leaned down and gave her a quick peck on the cheek. “And you’re mine, gamer girl.”



“Her tits are fake, too,” she said.



“I know. The boobies already warned me.”



Her grin was gorgeous. “Don’t you forget it. They’re very jealous.”



“No worries. I prefer real and perfect every day of the week. Twice on Sundays.”



A few guys stopped by, apparently most of them were old acquaintances, and she seemed to deal with it well. Mostly. After the fourth or fifth, I saw her getting antsy. “You alright?” I asked softly.



“I…I need a minute, Ok?”



I looked over at Dan, who managed to glance away from his ever-present new female friends every few seconds. I caught his eye, and ran my finger across my throat. He nodded, and stepped beside his latest charmer, blocking all access.



Sheri didn’t look good. She seemed to be shaking. I turned her toward the corner carefully, and lifted her hand with the tablet in it. She opened the cover, and I stood with my back to hers, looking into mine.



“Want to blow this stand, and go kill something?” I asked.



Her face and chest filled my screen. “Too early, but it’s tempting,” she said.



“I don’t suppose you could tilt the monitor down a bit. I think the boobies are trying to get my attention.”



She smiled, and I got a view of her cleavage. “Like what you see?”



“Do you even need an answer? You know me and the girls have a special relationship.”



I felt her butt rub up against mine. “Someone’s getting jealous.”



“No need. The booty should know by now it’s a package deal. Especially in that dress, booty’s getting a lot of attention.”



“If you’re good, maybe when we get to the limo, I’ll let the girls have their way with you.”



“Tease.”



“Maybe. I guess you’ll have to be patient and find out.” She brought her lips up to the camera, giving me a pucker. “Thank you.”



I did the same. “No thanks necessary. The least I could do for the woman I love.”



She smiled. “Say it again.”



“No thanks…”



“Asshole. Say it.”



“I love you, Sheri.”



The screen went dark, and she grabbed my arm, turning me. She was in my arms, hugging me hard. “Me too.”



I stroked her hair softly. “Ready for the next wave?”



She sighed, releasing me. “Did you learn that from Dan?”



“What?”



“How to ruin a moment.”



I pulled her in for a hug. “I would love to hold you all night, but the queue is backing up.”



She looked over and saw more than a few curious eyes standing just beyond Dan, studying us.



She was better after that, and Sandy stopped by again for a quick visit. Somehow, she convinced Sheri to take the show on the road, and once again I was escorting her through the crowd, stopping for a drink for all of us at one of the bars, and making small talk to a few of the groups standing around.



So much better than I thought she’d be handling it. One guy brushed against her, and she turned away quickly, but managed to continue her conversation. I was afraid she’d panic, but she seemed to take it in stride. Damn, I was proud of her.



It was going too good. I let my guard down. After the second drink, I leaned over and whispered, “I have to hit the head. Be back in a second. Is that Ok?”



She was talking to two girls she seemed to know very well, and she nodded, waving her tablet. Dan was still standing only a couple of steps away. She was covered.



I made my way to one of the bathrooms, and waited in line for a bit. On the way out I met Robert, and he introduced me to a few friends before I could make my escape.



We’d been standing just outside the kitchen earlier, but when I got there, it looked like she’d moved on. I looked around, and saw Dan in the kitchen, obviously doing the same.



I pushed my way through the crowd. “Where?”



“She was just here. Not 30 seconds ago,” he said.



One of the girls from earlier was standing nearby, and must have noticed our concern. “If you’re looking for your girl, she took off like a cat with its tail on fire out the back door.”



“What? Where?” I asked, looking for the door.



“She was talking to Dale, and then she took off that way,” she said pointing to an opening at the side of the room, near the back wall.



“Call ‘em!” I yelled at Dan, then took off after her.



The hall led to a utility area with a door to the outside. I was through it in a second, calling out for her. It was an alley that ran the length of the block in both directions. Stoops, garbage cans, utility boxes, and dark recesses were all I saw.



I was scanning the ground for some clue as to which direction she took when Dan came barreling out the door. I wanted to lambaste him for losing sight of her, but it wasn’t the time. “You go that way,” I said, and took off running in the opposite.



Like most of the New York blocks, this one was long and narrow, and seemed to go on forever. After a hundred feet or so I saw her tablet lying on the ground. I reached in my pocket and grabbed my phone. I pressed the push to talk. “She’s this way,” I said. “Tell the guys.”



I was running now, and saw a crowd on a back stoop ahead. I was going to ask if they’d spotted her, when I saw her huddled in a ball, some guy’s arm around her, trying to get her to drink.



There were three of them sitting there, one on the bottom step, touching her leg, the other two bracketing her, their bodies pressed against hers. She never even looked up at me, just sat, hugging her legs, rocking. It was a bad position, showing her panties to the guy on the bottom stoop.



I came to a stop. “Leave her alone, she’s with me,” I said angrily. Fuck. This wasn’t good. She still didn’t look up. She seemed almost catatonic.



The guy on the bottom step stood, placing himself between me and the others. “I don’t think so. Looks like she prefers our company,” he smirked.



I tried to stay calm. “Listen. She’s my date. She’s going with me. Just leave her alone. Can’t you see she’s not well?”



The bozo stepped toward me, “Get lost, asshole. She’s fine here. You can’t take care of her, we will. Go away and nobody has to get hurt.”



The jerk trying to give her a drink reached over and thrust his hand in her top, smirking at me. “Private party, dickwad,” he said.



I lost it. I should have waited; the others would have been there soon. Dan couldn’t have been too far behind. But I couldn’t. I’m not much of a fighter, outside of the game, but I rushed the guy in front of me, pushing him to the side, and grabbed for Sheri. I had her for just a second, before the guy with his hand on her was pulling her up the stairs, while the other two started on me.



I blocked a couple of their fists with my head and body, swinging wildly. I should have been paying attention to them, but all I could see was Sheri being dragged away from me. I launched myself at the guys with his hands on her, and drove him into the wall, hard.



I heard Dan yelling behind me, and I slammed the guy I had my hands on’s head into the wall, and he dropped, letting go of Sheri. I turned and caught a foot in the side as I tried to get up, moving between her and the other two. I saw Dan was rolling on the ground with one of the guys, and I grabbed the leg of the kicker, dragging him down.



“Run, Sheri!” I yelled, trading blows with the guy between her and freedom.



She didn’t move and I tried to push her. “Go!”



I caught a knee in the ribs, but managed to turn the guy and started whaling on his head. For a second I thought we were going to be Ok, when the door Sheri was leaning against started to open.



“What the fuck!” I heard, then saw the door push wider. I could only hope that Dan was doing better than me. I pushed the guy I was on against the door, wedging a foot against the rail, and gave Sheri a push. “RUN!” I screamed at her.



I wasn’t fighting anymore, just pushing the guy, head tucked down, while he swung at me. I had to keep that door closed. Suddenly someone was on my back, beating down on my head, and the door was slowly opening despite my best efforts. A burning agony started in my back, sapping my strength. I couldn’t see, and I knew I was in serious trouble.



I turned my head, and Sheri was huddled, shaking. “PORTAL, CHERRYBOMB,” I yelled. “DON’T WIPE! PORTAL!”



I saw an arm and a leg snaking out the door opening with some kind of stick in its hand. The pain in my back took on a whole new meaning, and I could feel myself blacking out.



“Portal,” I groaned. “Portal.”



* * *



I shifted and bolts of pain shot through my back. I tried to move my arm and the pain moved to my ribs and forearm. Son-of-a-bitch, it hurt. I opened my eyes, and saw nothing but grey and white.



I heard footsteps, and a hand was on my shoulder. I tried to push it away and had to stifle a scream.



“Relax, Mr. Jeffery, don’t try to move,” I heard a strange voice intone.



I looked over and saw a figure in white standing over me.



“You’ve been injured,” she said calmly. “Don’t move.”



I was lying on my side, and after trying to shift again, I knew she was right. I shouldn’t move.



“Where…”



“Mount Sinai,” she said. “You had us scared there for a while. You’ve got a lot of worried friends driving us crazy. If you’d settle down, I could check on you, give you something for the pain, and maybe we’ll let you see a few of your buddies.”



“Sheri.”



“Shh. Be still. This will only take a minute.”



It took a lot longer than a minute, but by the time she was done, my mind was clearing up and the pain was down to a dull roar.



The door opened, and in moments I was surrounded. “Stupid fuck,” Dan said, standing at the head of the bed, looking down at me, anxiously.



“You…look like…shit,” I said. It was hard to get the words out. My head felt like it was full of cotton, and my tongue was too big for my mouth.



I was right though. He did. He had his arm in a sling, and his face was swollen. Bandage on the side of his face, and a black eye tinged with reds and oranges. The split lip was an improvement.



“Look who’s talking, dipshit. Couldn’t wait for the cavalry could you?”



“Your face…looks better,” I told him, trying to look around. Mark was there, looking fresh as a daisy, and behind him were Robert and Sandy. She looked like she’d been crying. I noticed that most were out of their party clothes, except Dan and Sandy.

“Sheri?” I asked.



“She’ll be alright,” Dan said softly. I could see he was hurting, and I don’t mean physically.



“Not your…fault,” I told him. I knew the guilt would be killing him.



“I fucked up, Steve. God, I’m so sorry. I was watching her, I swear I was. I don’t know how she got away. I know you must hate me. I’ll leave if you want.” The poor fucker was practically in tears.



“No. I…love you man,” I said, doing my best to grin.



He chuckled, wiping his eyes. “You’re not getting my Bud Light.” Old inside joke.



“Where?”



“Jaime went for her. Relax. You did good, jerkoff.”



I learned a little of what happened, in bits and pieces. Mark couldn’t get the limo down the alley, and had to park it. He started at the wrong end, and was late getting to the scene. Dan never got past the first guy, and though I managed to delay anyone else joining our little get-together, when the asshole I’d knocked into the wall climbed on my back and started to make a pincushion out of me with a knife, things were looking bleak.



We thought we’d taken good precautions, but we hadn’t planned on the back door. I always knew there was a chance she’d freak out. Mark had been by the car a few door down from the entrance, and Jaime had been stationed a short ways down on the opposite side, in case she made a run for it in the wrong direction.



When they got the call, Jaime had to crash his way into the party, across the entire house, then guess which way we’d gone. He’d heard the ruckus and got there in the nick of time, although a minute or two earlier would have been nice.



I looked up during a pause in the story-telling, and Man-mountain was stepping through the doorway. The crowd parted and I saw he was carrying Sheri in his arms. She looked rough, bruised, her hair a mess, dress missing. She had a hospital gown on, and her leg was in a cast.



Jaime was grinning like there was no tomorrow. He stepped forward and gently sat Sheri down on the bed by my feet. I felt the tears starting to well up. I had been certain I was going to lose her.



She put on a brave smile, and reached for the hand I extended to her.



Jaime stood over her, protectively. “Jesus, Ace! Where’d you find this one? If I hadn’t shown up in time, I think she was going to kill the lot of them herself. Friggin’ maniac. Crazy girl was spitting out half a guy’s ear before I managed to clean things up.”



I looked down at her.



She grinned sheepishly. “No way I was going to portal again. We’d wipe together or not at all.” She looked back at Jaime. “You never told me that our resident Witch-Doctor was a real-life barbarian.”



Jaime was 6 feet 7 inches of rough and tumble. The left tackle on our high-school football team, and a loner, except for me and Dan. We’d gotten him out of trouble once, and we never could get rid of him ever since. Loyal as an old hound-dog. The fucker could write code like nobody’s business.



He’d taken the bat from the guy coming out the door and laid half-a-dozen guys out cold before Mark showed up with the heavy artillery. One shot from his .45 stopped everything. Apparently in his wake, half the party had shown up in the alley, and the police were only a few minutes behind. The guys weren’t about to wait, not with me bleeding on everybody, and a couple of minutes later we were loaded in the limo headed for the hospital.



With the story out of the way, everyone decided to give me a little space, especially when the busy-body nurse came in shrieking it was supposed to be only two at a time.



Which meant one at a time, since it looked like it would have taken a platoon of marines to get Sheri out of there.



I was alone with Sheri and her cousin, when Sandy had the brilliant idea of leaning over and giving me a hug, nearly killing me. “You big idiot. No more heroics.”



“Don’t you have a party to go back to?” I asked, teasing.



She wiped her eyes. “Right. That was Friday.”



“Friday?”



Sheri squeezed my hand. “It’s Sunday. You really had us worried.”



“Shit. No wonder I’m so damned hungry. Sounds like you got something to eat. An ear?”



My girl grinned. “Tastes like shit. And believe me, getting eye goop from out from under your nails is next to impossible.”



“Eye goop?”



Sandy giggled. “You’ve got to hear Jaime tell it. We must have made him repeat it at least a dozen times. Spider-Monkey girl was making mincemeat of the guy who stabbed you. She clawed one of his eyes clear out, bit off half his ear. She was going for the jugular when Jaime dragged her off the stupid bastard. Hardest shot he took all evening was from her elbow, and he almost lost a finger to those teeth of hers.”



“It wasn’t that bad,” Sheri whined. “He only got a few stitches.” She leaned forward. “I think he likes me.”



“Don’t let his wife hear that. She may not be much bigger than you, but I think she could take him, two out of three falls.”



“Wife?”



“Yeah, he and Mark are both married. I’m surprised the women haven’t shown up yet. I’m going to catch so much hell.”



I tried to move and I got another blast of pain.



“Stop that!” Sheri snapped. “You’ll tear the stitches, even if you don’t start internal bleeding again.”



“How bad was it?” I asked.



“If the idiot on top of you knew how to use a knife, you’d be dead now,” she snapped. “Then where would I be, you stupid asshole? Why couldn’t you have waited for the others?”



“They…they were touching you.”



“So what? I’ve been touched before. More than touched. If you ever do anything that stupid again…I’ll…oh Hell, I’ll just die.”



“How long will I be in here?” I asked.



“Couple of days. You had a pretty bad concussion, a collapsed lung, and lost a lot of blood. The knife got stuck in your ribs, or it would have been a lot worse.”



She looked upset, and more than a little angry.



“What are you wearing under that robe?” I asked.



Sandy laughed out loud. “That’s my cue to go. I’ll give you two a couple of minutes alone. I think he’s going to be just fine.”



Sheri was glaring at me. “Did you really ask what I had on under this stupid robe?”



I nodded, grinning. “You promised the girls would entertain me.”



“If you were good. In the limo. And I said maybe.”



“Ok, 0 for 3,” I pouted. “What have you got on under there?”



She giggled. “You are so bad. Panties. That’s all. Not much of them either.”



“You’re killing me, beautiful. Half naked and only an arm’s reach away.”



“I’m still mad at you.”



“I still love you.”



She leaned her head down on my leg. “You big idiot. You could have died.”



“Not when you have my back,” I said.



“You made Jaime cry. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sadder thing. He was running down that alley, cradling you in his arms, blubbering like a baby.”



I grinned. “Yes! He’s sooo never going to live that one down.”



She slapped me on the leg. “Asshole. He saved your life.”



“Fine. I owe him one. He’s still going to get razzed.”



She looked over at the door, then bounced her butt up the bed a couple of feet, sending jolts of pain through my back. Whatever they were giving me wasn’t near strong enough.



“Stop wincing you big baby,” she said.



She grabbed my hand, and put it on her breast. I cupped it through her gown.



“Second base,” she giggled.



“I don’t think we’ve even got much of first base yet.”



“You need to get healthy for me. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, and the boobies and booty are dying for a little attention.”



“How about a lot of attention?” I teased.



“How about, when the doctor clears you, we try for a home-run?”



* * *



It was more than a couple of days. Closer to a week. I never had a shortage of visitors, but at least they bathed and put on normal clothes. I got a serious tongue-lashing from Maria, for putting poor little Jaime in danger. Sheri’s parents stopped by every day, as did Sandy. I think she had a little crush on me. I never escaped her without a kiss or two. Or three. Not when Robert accompanied her, but she nearly had me in a makeout session once. I gave her grief about it. She assured me that it was nothing serious, but she couldn’t wait for me to get better for a real thank-you.



It was Sandy who told me about the change in Sheri. Apparently her issue with touching men was almost totally resolved. Part of it was me, another part was my posse. Sandy’s therapist believes that fighting back against the attackers had the most to do with it. She no longer felt helpless or as vulnerable.



“Sheri and Maria are thick as thieves. They’ve been ganging up on poor Jaime. He bares it well. You should see them when they’re sitting out in the waiting area, once girl perched on each of his legs. Sheri has no problem with physical contact with him.”



“I’m going to have to kill him, you know.”



Sandy grinned, and gave me another long lip-lock. She tasted of mint, and her tongue was friendlier than ever. “He’s like a big cuddly teddy bear to her. She hasn’t even kissed him. Now Dan…”



“What about Dan!” I growled.



“Lots of hugging and kissing going on there.”



“That son-of-a-bitch…”



Her lips shut me up again. “Stop, silly. She feels bad he got so beat up for her. You were injured worse, but he still looks like a mess. She’s always hugging him and kissing his ‘boo-boos’. Mark and Jaime give him so much shit as soon as she’s gone.”



“Good.”



She grinned then climbed on my bed, lying down facing me. “You’ve got great friends. I hope you realize that.”



“I know. I couldn’t ask for better.”



“I hope you consider me and Robert friends,” she said softly.



“Best friends. I love what you do for Sheri. She needs someone like you.”



“It works both ways. I love her, you know.”



“I know. It’s pretty obvious.”



She took my hand and placed it on her tit. I’m an asshole, I didn’t pull it away. I liked the feel. “No, Steve. I love her. I’ve been in love with her for years.”



You could have knocked me over with a feather.



She smiled, and I felt her hand sliding under the sheet, rubbing the erection she managed to give me every time she visited. “She couldn’t stand a man’s touch, you know. My touch was different.”



“Is she…are you…”



“Lovers. Two years now. Toned it down since I met Robert. I’m not gay, and neither is she. She just needed me, and I guess I needed her.”



Her hand was gripping my cock, and stroking it. “Once you two have settled down as a real couple, I hope you’ll let me share her with you sometimes.”



Share? Holy shit! “What about Robert?”



She leaned in and kissed me softly, her lips lingering. “That’s what I love about you. Always thinking of other people, and doing the right thing. He knows about me and Sheri. She’s getting better, but we’ve talked and there’s no way she’s interested in sex with anyone but you. Not for now. We’ll see how things are after you two are married.”



Married? “I…uh…” Damn this girl could leave me tongue tied.



“You’re going to get married, and I get to be the matron of honor. Don’t kid yourself that you’re not. You’re both crazy about each other. Sometimes I’m so fucking jealous. Of both of you.”



Her lips were on mine, and I welcomed them, a little guilt still getting through. Her hand was driving me crazy, and I loved the feel of her hard little nipple. Our tongues played quietly, lovingly. “Can I finish you?” she asked softly. “I’d hate to leave you with blue-balls.”



I looked toward the door. She licked my lips. “Dan’s on guard. Nobody’s getting through. Sheri is home, won’t be here for a couple of hours. Let me do this for you.”



“I feel like I’m cheating,” I told her.



“God, you’re so fucking adorable, I can’t stand it,” she said. She pulled free from me, then grabbed her purse. She turned away from me. “Sheri? I’m with Steve.”



Son-of-a-bitch.



“He’s fine. Looking a lot better. I’ve got him so worked up he’s going to pop, but he wouldn’t dream of cheating on you. Can you tell him it’s alright?”



She handed me the phone.



“Sheri?” I asked.



“She’s so bad! What’s she been doing? She told you about us, didn’t she? I’m so going to kill her.”



“Uh, yeah, she told me you guys were, uh, intimate.”



“You understand why?”



“Of course. Hell, no man or woman could resist you. What’s this I hear about Dan getting all my kisses?”



I thought I could hear her blush over the phone. “Little kissies, that’s all. No boobies, no booty, and certainly no kitty. Are you jealous?”



“Should I be?”



“Don’t be. There’s no man for me but you. I’m just, well, practicing flirting again. It’s been a while. You know who I love.”



“I can’t wait to get out of here,” I told her.



“I know. Me either. I’d take care of your…needs, but I don’t want our first time to be like that. Not some stupid quickie in a hospital bed. I’m afraid I might need a lot of patience from you, understand?”



“Totally. I feel the same.”



“Good. Then let Sandy do whatever she wants, or she’s going to be driving me crazy. No kitty, alright? But if she offers it, you’d be a fool not to let her get her mouth on you. She’s pretty incredible.”



“Are you sure?”



“I trust her, and I trust you. Give her what she needs, and she’ll tell me all about it tonight.”



“This feels kind of crazy.”



“I love you, baby. Have fun. Now put her on.”



I handed the phone to a grinning Sandy. “Thank you, thank you,” she gushed. “I will, I promise, tonight. Is this just the one time?”



She giggled. “Perfect. Love you babe.” She hung up the phone, and went to the door. She poked her head out, then came back smiling from ear to ear.



“You’re mine, until they release you. You have a problem with that, handsome?”



“Robert?”



She rolled her eyes at me. “Do I have to make another call? Or do you trust me that it’s Ok. I’m not married yet.”



“I trust you. I wouldn’t want to hurt him, or your relationship, that’s all.”



“He knows that when I’m with you and Sheri, there’ll probably be some you-and-me action going on. My ass is off-limits to you, that’s his. Alright?”



I nodded, my mouth dry.



She gave me a quick kiss, then pulled the sheet down, and pushed my hospital gown out of the way. “God, you’ve got a nice one. I’m going to really enjoy this.”



Not as much as I did. No preliminaries, she took me in her mouth and started sucking. I didn’t last two minutes. She swallowed and kept going, until I was hard as a rock again.



“Good. We got that first one out of the way. Man you were backed up! I hope you don’t always come like that. I don’t mind a little taste but you almost drowned me.”



“No, I don’t always come like that. You had me pretty worked up, you know.”



“The idea of doing two girls? Or just little old me?”



“All you, gorgeous. Not that the threesome idea isn’t going to be driving me nuts for a while, but you’re pretty incredible you know.”



She grinned saucily. “I know. And now you’re going to find out.”



She got started again, then stopped abruptly. She grabbed her smart phone, set it up, and passed it to me. “Record it. It’ll be even better than explaining it to her. I might even tease Robert with it later.”



Was there no end to the day’s surprises?



She was true to her word, and the second time around, she teased and pleased. Her mouth was wonderful, and ever so talented. I did manage to hold out for almost 10 minutes, before she cheated, putting my hand on her head, and insisting I fuck her mouth. The sweet girl had no gag reflex whatsoever, and a minute later I was painting her tonsils again.



She sucked me dry, opened her mouth showing a full-load to the camera, then took her time cleaning me with her mouth, until I was starting to stiffen again. I killed the video.



“There. That should keep you for a while. Was I Ok?”



“Ok? That was unbelievable!”



“Good. I’ll be working with Sheri to make sure she can deliver at least as good. You’re going to have to be patient with her. She’s never done any of this stuff willingly. In many ways she’s still a virgin.”



She stood and gave me a salty kiss. Then she pulled up her shirt, and leaned over, placing her nipple in my mouth. “Give us a kiss goodbye, lover.”



I got a nice little suck, until she replaced it with the other one. “No marks, Ok? No fair rubbing his face in it.”



That put a little damper on my feelings, and I gave her nipple one last tongue swipe. “Thank you,” I said.



“A hero’s reward. Get used to being spoiled, lover.” She gave me a parting kiss, straightened her shirt, and left me to let the others in. Dan and Mark were smirking.



“Lot of privacy,” Dan observed.



“Yes. Thank you.”



“Sheri…”



“Knows and is cool with it. We were just on the phone with her.”



Mark laughed. “You lucky son-of-a-bitch. It’s about time you got it right.”



“Got what right?”



Dan answered. “Woman. Got the woman right. She’s an angel. Perfect. No way you deserve her or whatever the supermodel’s doing for you.”



I had to laugh. He was right. “No argument from me. Third time’s a charm, I guess.”



* * *



It had taken me 5 days before they’d let me sit up and use a laptop. I was only online about 10 seconds before my buds started lightin’ me up with messages.



From the first time back, I found things had changed. Not in the game, so much, although there were enough new things there. The change was in us. No one was playing solo, not even Jaime. On logging in, I’d find them working together in groups of 3 or 4. With a max party size of four, one of the guys would drop out to make room for me if necessary.



Things were easy, even in hardcore Hell mode. We worked as a finely tuned machine, each watching out for each other. CherryBomb was always at the center of each group. She coaxed, she goaded, she teased. She led.



The first time on, they made me switch from Skype to Ventrilo for voice chat. Jaime set up our private server, and the sound quality was even better and so much easier to join.



We were laughing, joking, teasing each other. We shared loot, traded cash, farmed as a group, and had more fun than I’d ever imagined outside of Beta.



At the end of each session, CherryBomb would announce the finish, and she and I would pop out of the game and onto video chat.



I’d made a few calls, and she’d received the order on my 3rd day after awaking. Every night she’d reward me. Tonight it was a red lace halter babydoll that only half covered her outstanding breasts. It barely reached her crotch, and had the cutest red thong.



“The girls want to thank you again. You didn’t have to do this,” she said, indicating her outfit.



“Sorry, Angel. It wasn’t for you.”



“You have to stop calling me Angel, you know I’m anything but. I don’t want to be an Angel. I’m gonna be your little Devil. Can’t you see I’m wearing red?”



“Sorry sugar. You saved my ass, and you’ll always be my Angel. My guardian Angel.”



She pouted. “Really? Would an Angel do this?” she asked, pulling her halter material to the outside, exposing her breasts.



“Heavenly tits,” I teased.



She stuck her tongue out at me. She turned lifted the back of her outfit and wiggled her rear. “Angelic?”



I laughed, as she smacked her own tight little buns. “Hell no, Devil girl. Hellacious.”



She grinned. “Good answer. When you coming home to me? I need you.”



“Doctor’s talking two more days.”



“Sandy showed me the video. Looked like you enjoyed it. Was she good?”



“God, I was so desperate to get off, at first I couldn’t even tell. It was a warm wet mouth.”



She laughed. “Don’t you dare ever tell that! She thinks she’s God’s gift to men and women. She’s convinced she rocked your world.”



“Don’t get me wrong, Sheri. It was nice. But she’s not who I wanted doing that.”



Sheri grinned, moving closer to the camera, sucking on her finger. “Really? Now who could you possibly have in mind? You couldn’t possibly want your ‘Angel’ to do such a naughty thing. Putting that big, hard, nasty thing in her innocent little mouth? I don’t think it would even fit!”

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