The clerk, a woman I’ve known for years and with whom I once spent a very pleasurable and acrobatic half-hour on my bike (in a snow storm, no less… we had to keep warm *somehow*), stares at me at me and shakes her head. “I didn’t believe the rumors until now. You really *have* settled down.”
I grin sheepishly. “Yeah, trying. She’s not real convinced yet either. Thus the incredibly painful reading material.”
“That chick you rescued from those thugs still?”
“Yeah, Cynthia. Surprised no one else has asked me about her. The dyke grapevine can’t be slipping that badly.”
“You haven’t exactly been around the usual haunts since you hooked up.”
“Guess I haven’t. Not much of a drinker, not much point in going to a bar if I’m not pickin’ up chicks,” I shrug.
“Not really places to take a lady like that either. She ever tell you what she was doing at that dive anyway? We’ve been wondering.”
“I’ve never asked and she never brings it up. None of my affair.”
She glares at me. “Jesus H. Christ! The woman’s attacked and you never talk about it?! I’ll say you really need to read this stuff. Quickly. Even *I* know better and I’m no Miss Sensitivity by any stretch of the imagination.”
“She wasn’t attacked; I got there before anyone touched her. She didn’t seem really concerned about it. Didn’t even want to call the cops. I just assumed if she wanted to talk about it, she would. It doesn’t seem to ever bother her. I mean, don’t women bring up stuff that bothers them?” I’m honestly puzzled. It never occurred to me to bring it up. I’m very vigilant when we’re together; no one seems to be following us or anything. I’m suddenly really glad I thought to do research. I need it more than I thought I did.
She just shook her head. “Try talking to the woman more than to ask her who her daddy is, for Pete’s sakes.”
I just wince and take my bags and slink out. God, this relationship stuff is hard.
After several hours of reading, I’m more confused than I was to begin with. Obviously, one of my X chromosomes is defective because the only thing that is clear is that I’ll never understand women despite being the proud owner of a fully functioning vagina. Maybe I ought to simply *talk* to the woman this weekend. The sleeping together thing worked. Maybe asking her what she expected from me would work too. Though at least I’m doing well with cooking for her. I’m due to give more flowers, though. I should talk to her about how we met too. If it was just random, I’ll let it go because those guys aren’t gonna forget the lesson I taught ’em any time soon, but if it wasn’t… She’d tell me if it wasn’t, though, wouldn’t she? Maybe she has secrets she doesn’t want to talk about too. Truly, that’s why I’d never brought it up. I understand secrets. Perhaps I should offer up one or two of mine. Easy ones to start, I think, work up to the ones she might leave me for. But not tonight. Tonight will be a good supper, soft music, a dozen roses, and lots of cuddling.
Have I mentioned I hate florists? I do -- condescending bastards. Or at least the one I go to is. Snotty uptight latent bitch. Acts like I’m not worth the dirt in her fifty-dollar roses. Which she won’t sell me without seeing my money first. Prejudice doesn’t normally piss me off -- it’s a fact of life. Everyone’s prejudice against some group, even if it’s just the intolerant. However, this bitch manages to piss me off. I believe I’ve mentioned I make a pretty decent living and I don’t spend much, so I’m pretty well-set. I show her my walletful of cash, my platinum VISA, and my business card. Then I put everything back in my pocket and ask to speak to the manager. She owns the place. She is not looking happy. I tell her she’d just pissed off the wrong person and she’d be hearing from me. I think the IRS just might find her interesting. Bitch like that probably cheats on her taxes. I have buddies in the best places. Give the bitch something to think about the next time she decides to be rude to someone. Hell, I can buy the damn place ten times over and I’m not *that* well set.
She’s the only florist open, too, and now I’m late setting up things for my girl. I have to go buy flowers from Wal-Mart. Costs a hell of a lot less, but that’s not the point. I wanted to go to a real florist and buy my girl some goddamn flowers and have them delivered to her office like a goddamn normal person. Bringing a bunch of Wal-Mart flowers there myself just isn’t the same. I do it, though. The security guard grins at me and gives me a discreet thumbs up as he says I can go on up. I do, grinning myself. Maybe this isn’t such a bad idea, after all.
Her secretary smiles at me happily. “You are such a sweet woman, Sydney. This is exactly what she needs tonight. If you can wait about twenty minutes, her meeting should be over and she should have about ten minutes free before the next one if you’d like to give her those yourself. Chocolate wouldn’t hurt either.”
I wince. “Perhaps a trip to the liquor store for her favorite wine for dinner on my way home, huh?”
“Good idea. She’ll probably be late, though. Everyone’s running late today; that’s why I’m still here.”
“Past eleven? Damn, I’m glad I’m self-employed. I’d have quit years ago if I had to work these hours.”
“Can I come work for you?” she jokes.
“Sure, especially if you bring your boss.”
“I’ll work on it.”
I decide to use my twenty minutes to make a vending machine run. Confronted with fifteen different chocolate choices and absolutely no idea what kind of candy Cynthia likes, I nearly panic. How can you date a woman for nearly six months and not know what her favorite candy bar is? I don’t even know if she likes candy. I’ve never seen her eat any. I don’t much care for it myself -- I don’t have much of a sweet tooth and when I have the urge for sugar I tend toward ice cream or bakery goods. Preferably both. I finally just push a button at random. It’s the thought that counts, right? Armed with a Snickers, I head back to her outer office to sit and wait for my girl. I’m a little nervous and shy about being there with flowers and Snickers in hand. I don’t even see her come in.
“Syd! I can’t believe you’re here! And flowers too. You’re so sweet!” She’s beaming and looks delighted to see me.
Damn. Who would’ve thought? “I just wanted you to know I was thinking of you,” I say shyly, feeling extremely awkward, handing her the roses.
She just… melts and leads me into her office and throws herself into my arms. “Every time I think you can’t get any sweeter, you do. For a newbie, you’re mighty damn good at romance.”
“Really? I didn’t think I was doing that well, but I’m glad I am. I’m trying.” Perhaps I won’t sue that bitch after all. Maybe. I kiss the top of Cynthia’s head and hold her closer.
“Of course. God, today has just sucked. The only thing that’s keeping me from killing someone is knowing if I do, I’ll miss seeing the fried potato dance.”
I grin. “Who needs killing? I have friends in low places,” I joke. Well, half joke.
“What? You wouldn’t do it yourself? What kind of girlfriend are you?” She jokes back.
“Well, can’t do the tater dance in prison,” I reason.
“Right. I’m probably going to miss it tonight anyway. All hell’s broken loose and I have to put it back in the cage. It’s probably going to take all night.”
“I wish I could help you some way.”
“Me too. I’m half-tempted to just tell my boss to fix it himself; he fucked it up. Why should I have to fix it while he fucks his mistress and gets a good night’s sleep and takes the credit in the morning?”
“I have a buddy in the IRS. What’s the asshole’s name?” Fucking over my girl pisses me off too.
She tells me. “I know I shouldn’t be vindictive, but he fucks me over every day and everyone else too. If his daddy weren’t the big boss, it wouldn’t be so bad. It’d be nice to only have to do my job instead of his *and* mine. Maybe I’d be able to get out of here while it’s still light every now and then.”
“If that doesn’t help, I’ll take junior aside and explain just how unhappy tonight has made me and just what happens when I’m not happy,” I suggest half seriously.
She laughs. “If you do, let me know so I can sell tickets. We could make enough for bail *and* a big shot lawyer.”
“I can get one of those cheap or free -- I have a law degree; even practiced awhile years ago. I have friends who’d help me,” I reveal. That wasn’t so bad. Explaining *why* I wanted to be a lawyer would be, though.
She raises her head and stares at me in shock. “I’m not sure if I’m more surprised you volunteered personal information or that you’re a lawyer.”
I laugh. “It was a very long time ago. I was good at it, but it just wasn’t me,” I explain. “I’m thinking of taking it up again part time, though. Volunteer at the battered women’s shelter. I used to, but… Well, I think it’s time I go back.”
“I give them a lot of money, but I never seem to have any time. I’m surprised you don’t already. It’s exactly the kind of thing I’d expect you to do. That’s what attracted me to you in the first place, you know. Not only did you rush headlong into danger to rescue a total stranger, but also you welcomed me into your home to make sure I wouldn’t be alone while I was in shock. Not many people would do that. Certainly not a monster. I’ve figured out that you must’ve done some pretty awful things in your past for you to be so reluctant to talk about it, but there is absolutely nothing you could tell me that would drive me away. I know you -- whatever you’ve done wasn’t because you’re an awful person. No one evil would treat me like you have. I --”
“Quit wasting company time with your whore and get Stevenson back on board before I fire your stupid dyke ass.” The little rat-faced weasel looking guy has to be her rat bastard son of a bitch boss.
Now, interrupting us is bad enough, calling me a whore I might have been able to let go, but insulting her is the last straw. I release her from my embrace and have him slammed against the wall by his scrawny throat before anyone can say a word. “Is this the guy you were telling me about?” I growl.
“Yes, but that doesn’t mean you should kill him,” she replies calmly, looking rather amused.
“Oh, I don’t want to kill him… At least not right now. If he apologizes, I’ll let him go with a warning.” I turn back to him. “Apologize,” I growl, giving him a little shake.
Before I let him go, I tighten my hand around his throat and growl right in his face. “You will start doing your job. You will not make anyone else do it for you. You will be unfailingly polite and courteous to all your subordinates. You will not insult, berate, or otherwise harass my fiancée ever again. If you fail to obey these simple rules, not only will I call in the IRS and the biggest flock of lawyers you’ve ever seen in your miserable life to sue both you and the company, but I’ll personally hunt you down and hurt you in ways that would give Stephen King nightmares. Do you understand me?”
Deciding he’d learned his lesson for the moment, I put him down. “Now, you’re going to go earn your nice fat paycheck by doing whatever it is that needs done so Cynthia can go home as planned, right? I had a special dinner planned and you wouldn’t want your incompetence to ruin those plans, would you?”
“No, she can leave right now. Come in late tomorrow even. I’ll take care of everything.”
I look at Cynthia who’s just shaking her head, trying not to laugh.
She looks at him. “Thank you, sir, that’s so kind of you. I’ll be in at nine as per regulations,” she says very politely and sweetly. “I’d apologize for my fiancé’s over zealousness; she’s very protective, however, since your behavior has been abhorrent for your entire tenure at this company, it was well-deserved and I would recommend you listen to her. She nearly killed five men three times your size, and I daresay I.Q., for harassing me before she even knew me; I’d hate to see what she’d do now that we’re engaged,” she adds conversationally. With that, she turns to me and calmly asks, “Would you get my jacket, dear?” and walks out of the room.
I obediently grab the requested item and follow, grinning feraly at the shaken man. God, I love that woman.
She’s waiting for me right outside, telling her secretary to go home because I’d gotten them the night off. She’s smiling so I guess she’s not too mad. I just smile sheepishly and shrug at her secretary. “He ticked me off,” I explain as I help Cynthia into her jacket. A little gallantry never hurts.
“C’mon, my hero will drive you home so Henry doesn’t have to get out.”
“Oh, no, that’s okay, he doesn’t mind…”
“Neither do I and I’d feel bad if the rat faced weasel wouldn’t let you go home after I’m gone.”
“Well, if you’re sure it’d be no trouble…”
“Yes, I’m sure; it’s no trouble whatsoever.” I’m glad I took the car instead of the bike like I nearly did.
“I’m sorry I jumped in instead of letting you take care of it,” I tell her sincerely after we dropped off her secretary. “I know you’re more than capable, but I was already mad and I really don’t like bullies. But I still should’ve kept my mouth shut and my hands to myself.”
“I’m not mad. I’d just been complaining about what an ass he is and then he came in and insulted us both. Maybe you overreacted a bit, but I’d have done worse if I were you. I love your protectiveness. Hell, I rather hoped you’d talk to him, if the truth be known. Or at least come with me when I did. I’ve never had anyone to count on but me before. I’m a tough independent alpha bitch because I’ve had to be. You’re not the only one with a painful past you’re reluctant to share, honey. I should be apologizing to you for kinda manipulating you.”
“I flipped out because of how he talked to you. Unless you asked him to greet you like that, you didn’t manipulate me.”
“You really are the sweetest woman.”
“Only to you.”
“No, it’s just your natural personality. You might be *showing* it more obviously to me, but it was always there. All I’ve done is give you a safe place to be yourself.”
Recognizing an argument I won’t win, I don’t protest. “Am I being *too* romantic? Am I smothering you?” I ask abruptly.
“I don’t know. I’ve never had anyone treat me so well before so I’m a little overwhelmed on one hand, yet on the other, it’s nice to have someone pay so much attention to me without wanting anything from me but a little affection. You don’t want my job or money or connections. Just my love. It’s a little hard to get used to, but I want to.”
“I learned early that love was a lie to control and hurt you. Every time I thought maybe it wasn’t, I was used and abused. So I shut down emotionally; did my best not to give a damn about anything or anyone. Then you touched me and awakened something in me I didn’t even know I had. Hope. Trust. Love. I’m absolutely terrified I’ll do something wrong and I’ll lose that. I guess I’m going overboard, but I’m trying to learn the rules.” I fall silent as I pull into my driveway.
“I guess we’ll just have to learn together and maybe make up rules as we go. Right now, how about you fix some dinner and we can watch something mindless on TV and cuddle?”
“Sounds good to me -- exactly what I had planned.”
“That’s what I love about you -- always thinking.”
I bake some burgers and fries because we’re both starving and I want to cuddle while it cooks. I hear laughter from the living room. I go investigate. I’d forgotten to put away some of my ill-fated research. “Research,” I confess before she can make the smart ass comment I can see forming in her twinkling eyes.
That knocks it right out; she gets that soft, melty look she assumes every time I do something especially sappy. I take advantage by sitting beside her and holding out my arm. She immediately takes the invitation and cuddles up to me, resting her head on my shoulder. “I love you,” she nearly whispers.
“I love you, too.” I love holding her. I feel peaceful for the first time in hours. I have my girl in my arms and supper in the oven -- what more could I want? Well, my girl naked and sweating under me, but I can work with cuddling. For now.
“I really like your bed,” she comments as we settle in to sleep.
“It *is* pretty comfortable and actually big enough I don’t feel like my legs are hanging over the edge if I move around a little.” I demonstrate by rolling over onto my side and propping myself up on my elbow to bend down for a kiss.
“C’mere and kiss me properly.”
I quite willingly do so. It’s been a whole twenty-four hours since our last make out session. That’s just criminally negligent. I kiss her rather chastely because it’s late and we both have work in the morning and I have to drop her off on my way. I don’t want to get too worked up. To my surprise, she rolls us over and deepens our kiss. Always willing to accommodate a lady, I don’t protest. I’m not crazy. She plays her tongue along the edge of my lips and I take the hint and invite her in. When her hand decides to say hi to my breast, I put my hand over hers to stop her.
She looks up in confusion. “Am I going too fast? I’m sorry, I thought you were into it.”
“Oh, I am, but we have to work tomorrow and I can only get so turned on and still sleep.”
“Right. Sorry, honey. Goodnight. I love you.” She kisses me one more time and settles into her favorite sleep position laying half on top of me with her head on my shoulder/chest, whatever the hell you want to call it, with one arm and leg draped over me.
“I love you, too. Night.” I reach over and turn off the light and close my eyes. Tomorrow is bound to be interesting.
Feedback is greatly appreciated: email@example.com. Join my Yahoo group: groups.yahoo.com/group/SBerrysstories. Copyright © 2006 by S. Berry. All Rights Reserved.
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