he caught him completely off guard with her request. Describe pain
. He frowned for a brief moment. Just a moment. Then his eyes were on her, searching every inch as though it were the first time. She was naked from the waist up. Skin the muted brown of hot chocolate mix. Small breasts with oversized nipples. A gym membership physique, sleek and toned. Beautiful hazel eyes that forced him to swallow every time he looked into them. A smile he’d only ever seen in movies. Always on the face of the bad guys.
Or bad girls.
Her white silk blouse was draped over the back of the lone chair in the hotel room, bra neatly folded over that. She’d eased her peach-colored skirt down an inch past her hips, just as ready as he was to get right to it. But then she’d stopped abruptly. Made her request. Describe pain.
He was already fully naked himself at that point, his penis as erect as a flagpole. He glanced at his watch. Forty-five, fifty minutes tops, then he needed to be back at the office. A half-completed proposal was waiting for him on his desk. There wasn’t nearly enough time remaining in the day to finish the proposal before tomorrow’s early morning meeting. Responding to her ridiculous request would chop up what little time he did have.
“Why?” he asked her, aggravated. One word, that’s all he’d give her. Maybe she’d get the hint, cut this nonsense short. Get to what they both came here for. What they both desperately needed, wanted, desired.
“Haven’t heard from you in weeks,” she said, softly. Her normal speaking voice was distinctive. Husky. Sexy. Full of something he couldn’t ease away from no matter how hard he tried. Which wasn’t very hard in most cases. “The time apart has left me…thinking,” she continued. “Seems like lately I’m constantly in thought.”
“Can’t we discuss this some other time?” he asked. “I want to make love to you.”
She nodded. “Ditto.” And as if to underscore the point she went ahead and eased the rest of the way out of her skirt.
“Damn.” He licked his lips, his eyes trained below her waist. “No panties, baby. Damn.”
She smiled, repositioned the skirt in front of her like a cover. “I want to do this. You know I do. But I need you to answer me.”
“Describe pain,” she said for the third time.
He shook his head, frowned, sighed, and studied her. She looked about as serious as he’d ever seen her. There was no way beyond this without humoring her. “You want me to describe pain?”
“Yes,” she said, nodding vigorously. “Please.” She bit her lip. “And I’m very sensual, as you know, so I need to know what it looks like to you. How it feels to the touch. How it tastes.”
“This is ridiculous,” he complained. “Right now? You can’t possibly be serious?”
Her smile said she was and wasn’t.
At one time he would have said that pain smelled like coppery
blood or musty sweat. That it was colored black, or at the very least a dark, dark blue. That it tasted either salty or bitter. Like gravel to the touch.
“Now,” he said, “It’s the color of hot chocolate mix.”
“Mmmm,” she said, licking her lips.
“Smells like Burberry perfume and”—he sniffed the air—“some kind of strawberry fragrance shampoo.”
She folded the skirt, turned briefly and draped it over her blouse and bra on the back of the chair. Rotated back facing him with the movie smile in place. He’d always liked her shaved clean. His eyes drifted down. As they say, smooth as a baby’s bottom.
He took a step forward, his eyes glazed over like a drunk’s.
Her husky voice broke the trance. “Don’t stop, please. Go on, continue. Smells like Burberry perfume. Strawberry shampoo. And? How does it feel to the touch? Do tell.”
“Soft,” he whispered. “Soft as warm butter.”
Another step forward.
She took her own step backward, asked, “Tastes like?”
“So good,” he said.
She smirked. “I’m afraid that isn’t a suitable answer, Jeremy
“It’s going to have to suffice,” he said, without noting the emphasis she’d placed on his name.
“Uh-uh. I need an answer. If you don’t have one…” She started to move toward the chair, presumably to retrieve her clothes. Get dressed. Leave without giving him the pleasure he desired.
“Strawberries,” he blurted.
She smirked again, accompanied it with a low laugh. “I’m sensing a theme. You already used that one, chief. Come again.”
“Why are you doing this?”
“Come again. I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that redundancy. Strawberries are stricken from the record.”
She was a frustrated attorney in his estimation. Had an associates degree in culinary arts that she didn’t use, a decent enough job at the post office, though, but couldn’t keep silent during an episode of Law & Order
to save her soul.
She’d always been more trouble to him than she was worth. And he believed she prided herself on that fact, strangely enough. That it gave her pleasure to know that he’d promised himself, more than once, to leave her alone. And yet here they were. Again.
Another broken promise.
“Tastes like?” she prodded.
“Sweet,” he answered. “It tastes sweet. But cut with something…”
She said, “You say sour or bitter, I’m out of here, Jeremy
“Less sweet,” he said.
Now she chuckled. “You must want me badly.”
Was that correct grammar? Did it matter? Did anything anymore?
“I do want you badly,” he said. And this time when he moved to her she didn’t back away. She fed him a breast. And then the other. He cupped them both at once. Squeezed them together and deepened her cleavage. Sucked them hungrily, until the nipples were small stones on his tongue.
“I have girlfriends that hate how men fixate on breasts,” she managed, her hands on the back of his head, guiding him into her, “and never move on from them. But I love having my nipples sucked. Ten minutes, twenty, it doesn’t matter to me one single bit.”
She talked too much, he noted.
More trouble than she was worth.
But he lifted her suddenly, carried her to the bed. She would’ve preferred being under the covers, he knew, but when he eased
her knees apart and lowered himself down around her waist the small things were forgotten.
“Baby,” she whispered.
He kissed behind her knees. Her inner thighs. Her stomach. Worked upward. Her armpits. The inner bend of her elbow. Her ribcage.
“My nipples, baby,” she begged, directing him.
He sucked them again, flicked at the hard nipples with his tongue, teased them with his fingertips.
A moment later he moved away. Reached for the nightstand. His wallet on top of the Gideon Bible they left in every room.
He stopped mid-reach, turned to her, tried to keep his tone neutral. “Yes?”
“I want to feel
you inside of me.”
“I can’t do that,” he said.
“Why, baby? I’m not sleeping with anyone else. And you—”
“Okay,” he cut her off, not wanting to get into that. That
was tricky business.
Another broken promise.
When he eased inside of her, she released a deep, shuddering breath. That released breath was music to his ears. It inspired him. He grunted with each stroke. She moaned with every other. A synchronized duet. A rhythm borne from many sessions of inspired lovemaking together.
It lasted several minutes.
The particulars of their moves didn’t matter. Missionary. Doggystyle. Reverse Cowgirl. Insignificant.
They were both satisfied. That’s all that mattered.
He lay there afterward, his skin sticky with sweat, a congealed puddle of his semen painting her inner thigh. He’d done his best to pull out. As if that mattered. And to his credit, after, he didn’t get up right away. Waited a few minutes. Then it was off for the quickest of showers. Enough to wash away her scent. Burberry perfume, strawberry shampoo. He didn’t ask her in with him to shower. That would’ve defeated the purpose, he supposed. He couldn’t afford to carry her scent, to leave with one of her stray hairs.
She waited patiently for him to come out of the shower.
Waited until he had his pants on fully, zippered and buckled; waited until he’d shrugged himself into his shirt, was preparing to button it and dash back to his office.
“Will it be weeks before I hear from you again?” she asked.
“I’ve been so busy…” he explained, pausing and searching for the right addition.
“Work,” they said in unison.
He was smiling at their shared word.
“It’s been a hectic time at work for me,” he added.
“And where is work again?” she asked.
He’d never told.
He didn’t then, either.
He buttoned his shirt, turned and looked at the one table in the room.
“Looking for your BlackBerry?” she asked.
He didn’t answer. Distracted, frowning and continuing to look.
“I have it,” she said.
Still, he continued to look.
“Must’ve left it in the car,” he muttered.
“Zero seven, twenty-one,” she said, and he turned to her, hearing her finally.
“What?” he said.
“You really shouldn’t use your birthday as a pin code,” she said, beaming. “I figured it out even though you made it a bit difficult for me. You naughty boy, you.”
It took a moment, his face a mask of confusion. But eventually he understood. “You have my BlackBerry?” It wasn’t really a question.
“I do, baby.” She held it up. He padded barefooted across the carpet, snatched the BlackBerry from her slender fingers. “Not nice,” she chastised. “You could’ve broken one of my nails. Then I would’ve been pissed
“Don’t play games,” he said. “I have all kinds of work on that phone.”
“Battery’s running low,” she said. “You have a charger in the Chrysler 300C?”
Their eyes met.
“You never did quite fit with my image of a man that drives a Toyota Camry,” she said.
Another lie he’d told her. A pointless lie. But that’s how it worked.
He didn’t speak.
“MRF provides all of its top executives with a Chrysler 300C,” she said, using his company’s name, letting him know she knew. “Must be nice. Any other fringe benefits?”
He wanted to say something, but couldn’t find the words.
She smiled. “The look on your face is priceless. I’m tempted to snap a pic with my
phone and text it to Rachel.”
He swallowed, asked, “Who are you?”
“Karla Savage. Same as I’ve always told you.” She increased her smile, despite the tenseness of the moment. “You, on the other hand, have told one lie after the other. Haven’t you…Michael Palmer?”
The false name he’d given her.
An old buddy from college. Easy to remember.
He asked, “What do you want, Karla?”
Trying to play it cool.
“You,” she said.
“You know now that’s not possible.”
“You mean because of your marriage?” she said, smiling that wicked movie smile. “A snag is all.”
“Karla, I’m very—”
“You even think about apologizing now and I will cause you some kind of deep pain, Michael.”
“What can I do?” he asked.
“Erase the moment you lied to me about your name. Erase the moment you lied to me about your marital status. Give me back every single moment of these last few weeks that I’ve spent…mad at you, furious with you, delirious for you to call, desperate to feel you inside of me. Give it all back. Every single moment. Every single thought. Erase every single lie. Can you do that, Michael?”
“What?” she snapped.
The quickness of her reply took him by surprise. As usual when it came to Karla, he was totally unprepared. “I, I…” He stopped himself, ashamed of the stutter in his voice.
“This is what’s going to happen,” she said, her voice strong and confident. “I love you, despite it all. I won’t pretend that the feeling is mutual. I’m your definition of pain.”
“Because you represent my weakness,” he said quickly.
“What foolishness are you talking?”
“I have an addiction,” he said.
“That’s your explanation for us?”
“I don’t enjoy lying, Karla. I don’t enjoy the deception. The deceptions
I should say, because they pile up on you rather quickly. I promised myself after our last time together that I wouldn’t call you again.”
“Right now I feel remorse,” he added. “And not because you’ve found out I lied. I always feel remorse after I’m with you.”
“Ouch,” she said in a tone that was truly wounded.
“It’s not personal,” he said.
“No,” she said, speaking in a mocking voice. “Why would I take that personal?”
“It’s like I’m in a trance,” he went on. “I don’t even remember riding the elevator up here.”
“You remember riding me, I bet.”
“Don’t be crass, Karla.”
“Certainly,” she said, smirking, snickering, “because crass is so beneath you.”
“It’s not about you,” he said, ignoring her tone. “It’s about the thrill of all of this. Sex is my drug of choice. My addiction has wrestled the control away from me. It makes all of my decisions for me, and it’s dumber than a goldfish.”
“Are you trying to hurt me, Michael?”
“Trying to help you understand.”
“You love your wife?”
“Desperately,” he said. “I can’t begin to imagine my life without her.”
“And yet you’re here with me. Not for the first time.”
“Weakness. Sickness. Nothing more.”
“Nothing more?” She let the words hang in the air like swamp mist. His words actually hurt more than the actual betrayal. His words would be what she played back in her mind, over and over and over again.
He knew this, and tried to move to her. Apologize with his touch.
“Just go,” she said, jerking away.
“And you work for your father-in-law,” she said. “I’m sure he’d be happy to hear how you’re treating his only daughter.”
“You’ve been doing your homework,” he noted, nodding, his lips pursed. “If I wasn’t involved, I’d be thoroughly impressed.”
“I can imagine. Go, please.”
“Can I trust this will stay between us?” he asked.
“Don’t hold your breath on that, chief.”
She grabbed the Gideon Bible so quickly he couldn’t react. Tossed it overhand at his head. The heavy book grazed his temple as it flew past. That would’ve impressed him as well, if he wasn’t involved.
“Go!” she screamed.
“Karla, I need some assurance this will not leave this room.”
“Don’t worry, Michael. I won’t upset your precious lie of a life.”
“Why don’t I believe you?”
She flashed her smile, let it speak for her.
“I am sorry,” he said.
It was genuine. He realized she recognized as much because she quickly turned away from him. He suspected the last thing in the world she wanted to feel was sympathy of any sort for him. In her mind, liars probably deserved absolutely no sympathy.
She continued to look away. Ignoring him with every ounce of her being.
He gave up after several more attempts, eased the hotel door closed behind him. Out in the hall, and despite the door’s thickness, he swore he actually heard her crying on the other side.