The Right Thing

By SX Meagher

Part 17

"Hey, Townsend? I’ve been thinking about going to Paris to see Kate over Christmas. How do you feel about my taking a little time off?"

"I pay you for the job you do, stretch, not the hours you put in, so you can take as much time as you want. We’ve got the schedule set for the winter and spring terms. We just have to have the fall term ready by June, and we’re golden."

Giving her a huge smile, Hennessey said, "We are cruisin’, aren’t we? I knew we'd do well, but I underestimated the demand for this kind of program."

"We’re doing just great, Hennessey, and you deserve a nice, long break. I mean it when I say that you can take as long as you’d like."

"What are your plans for Christmas? Will you go to Boston?"

"Yeah, I think I will. Now that I’ve struck out with everyone in the writing class, I’m gonna have to expand my net."

"Hey, you didn’t strike out. You dated six women from that class. That’s not called striking out, babe; that’s called being picky."

"Yeah, I am picky. Maybe too picky. I’m trying to find the perfect woman, but maybe I should just try to find an acceptable woman."

"Well, I guess that depends on what your goal is. If you’re just looking for someone to spend some time with, you probably should lower your expectations."

"No, that’s not really what I’m looking for," Townsend admitted. "I have plenty to keep me busy, including writing in the evenings. That’s why I’m picky. I’d rather write than spend an evening with someone who’s merely acceptable." Townsend looked down at her outstretched hands, a puzzled expression on her face. "Was that me talking?"

Hennessey laughed and said, "Yep. I’m almost sure of it."

"Boy, I must really like it here," Townsend said.

"I know I do," Hennessey said. "When I’m in Paris, I’m going to do my best to sell Kate on moving here when she comes back. I could be happy here for the rest of my career. As long as you’re the director, that is."

"Aw, you sweet talker. I’d love nothing better, Hennessey. As long as I can find a woman of my own, of course. There’s no way I’m gonna sit around for the next forty years, watching you and Kate smooch."

"We don’t smooch in public," Hennessey said. "Much."

* * *

Hennessey looked up from her desk and slowly rocked in her chair, taking in her friend from head to toe. "I know that global warming is a reality, but there’s no way you got that tan in Boston."

"Hi, stretch," Townsend said, placing a kiss on Hennessey’s cheek. "No, we didn’t stay in Boston. A couple of days after Christmas, we went to Bermuda. It was nice. Gave me just long enough to reconnect with my parents, but not long enough to be sick of them." She dropped her bag and sat down, then asked, "How was your trip? You look wonderful, so it must have gone well."

"It was great. Really great. Having a month together was just what we needed. At the risk of giving you too much information, I have to tell you that there’s nothing better than having a beautiful woman make love to you while whispering in your ear in French."

Townsend shot a rubber band at her friend, scoring a direct hit. "Rub it in, Boudreaux. You’re making love in Paris, while I’m sitting on the beach with my parents."

"But you had a good time, didn’t you?"

"Yeah, I did. And, as long as we’re being totally honest, I’m happy to report that my celibacy streak was finally broken."

"Really? Spill it! I want details!"

Townsend laughed, shaking her head. "You know, we’ve made a lot of progress in the last few years. I never would have thought that we could have this kind of conversation. I’m so happy that we can."

"I am, too," Hennessey said. "I really am. Now tell me everything before I beat it out of you."

"Okay." Townsend tucked a leg up under herself, her usual story-telling pose. "I’d been home about two days, and I decided to give my old creative writing teacher, Nicole, a call. Much to my surprise, she was very happy to hear from me."

"Not to my surprise," Hennessey said, grinning happily.

"Yeah, well, we got together for dinner that night and really hit it off. We went back to her apartment, and when I left, I plucked up my nerve and kissed her goodbye."

"Good for you!" Hennessey enthused.

"Yeah, I was pretty proud of myself. Anyway, she didn’t mind a bit, and after we stood in the doorway necking for a while, I finally pulled myself away and told her I’d call her the next day."

Hennessey gave her a puzzled look and asked, "Why’d you stop?"

"It was our first date, Hennessey! I have to get to know a woman before I get too involved."

"That is so nice to hear. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see you treat yourself and your body with respect."

Townsend blushed as she nodded and cleared her throat. "I, uhm … I’ve learned from my mistakes. I only allow people I respect to touch me." She looked down at her hands and said in a faint whisper, "I deserve that."

"You sure as hell do. No one deserves that more than you do, Townsend."

Nodding briefly, Townsend controlled the emotion that threatened to spill out. "So, we went out the next afternoon and talked about our situations. She’s happy in Boston, but she wouldn’t mind spending six weeks or so down here. Do you think you can squeeze her into the spring semester?"

"No problem. We’re still short three instructors. I’m sure she’ll be able to handle one of the seminars — if she’s as good as you say she is." Hennessey blinked innocently and asked, "She is good, isn’t she?"

"Where’s the ingenuous little Hennessey that I used to know?" Townsend asked, chuckling.

"I left my innocence in Paris," the tall woman said dismissively. "If I didn't know better, I'd think Kate had been taking Viagra. Now, give me some details about Nicole!"

"Okay, okay. We spent about ten days getting to know each other. And I don’t mean biblically," she added, narrowing her eyes. "I had no interest in just jumping into the sack. We kissed — a lot, but that was about it."

"Wow. You’ve become a paragon of virtue!"

"I’m gonna have to be a paragon of virtue for the next twenty years to make up for my past vices."

"You don’t have to make up for anything, Townsend. You’re a wonderful woman, and I hope that Nicole got to find that out."

"I think she did. When my folks and I left for Bermuda, I took my laptop with me, and we spent a couple of hours chatting online each night. I got to know her better that way, to be honest. We didn’t have to worry about the physical or sexual signals we were sending out. It was … nice."

"It sounds nice," Hennessey agreed.

"We were in Bermuda for a week, and when I got home, I went to her apartment for dinner. We had a great time. Just great. After dinner, she put on some nice, romantic music and she asked me to dance."

"Cool! That sounds so sweet!"

"It was. We danced for a long time, and it felt so nice to move with her. Before long, we started kissing, and soon she was slowly — very slowly — unbuttoning my blouse."

"Whew! Smooth!"

Laughing wryly, Townsend agreed. "She was smooth. She did it so effortlessly that I hardly noticed. But when she started to pull my blouse from my slacks — she caught my attention."

"I’d think!"

"I still don’t know how she did it, but she managed to get me undressed while we were still dancing. Then I did the same to her. It was — by far — the sexiest seduction I’ve ever been part of."

Hennessey grabbed for a pad and pen. "I’m taking notes! This could come in very handy. Kate has so many more moves than I do."

"I’ll spare you the gory details, but we had a very, very nice evening. The next week wasn’t too bad, either," she added, laughing. "I went home, packed a bag, said goodbye to my parents and went right back to Nicole’s house. We made love until the wee, small hours, slept and made love throughout the day. Before I knew it, a week had passed — I barely caught the last plane out last night."

"Damn! You must be exhausted!"

"No. It’ll probably hit me tonight, though."

"So — where did you two leave things?"

"We’re gonna see how she likes our being together when she comes down here this spring. If it works out, she’ll consider moving. But that’s a long way off. It just felt nice to be held and caressed again. If that’s all that comes of this, I’ll be happy. She made me feel like a sexual being again, and it’s been a while since that’s happened."

"I’m so happy for you, T. Really, really happy." She let out a short laugh and added, "Kate will be, too."

As soon as she said it, Hennessey wished she could take the words back, but Townsend saw her discomfort and asked, "Ya wanna elaborate?"

"No." Hennessey looked down at her desk, but Townsend got up and sat on the edge of the piece.

"Come on, you can’t say something like that and expect me to blow it off. Give."

"Okay." Letting out a sigh, Hennessey said, "One of Kate’s worries is that you’re not trying to find someone. She … she thinks you might be waiting …"

"For you," Townsend finished for her.

"Yeah. For me."

Looking directly into her eyes, Townsend asked, "Have you told her that I don't have those feelings for you any longer, Hennessey?"

Returning her gaze, Hennessey said, "Yes, but not in any detail. I don't want to get into a big discussion about it, to be honest. I'm afraid that Kate will ask me how I feel about you, and I don't want to have that talk."

Townsend leaned over and kissed her friend on the head. "You’re my very best friend, sweetie. Not that that’s a small role, mind you; it’s just limited to platonic affection."

"I’ve been telling Kate that for years, but she thinks you’re too cute to be single unless you want to be."

"I’m certainly not going to argue with that," Townsend said. She shifted her weight and asked, "How about you? Are you over me?"

"No." She smiled sweetly and added, "I’ll never be over you, Townsend. I think I'll always be in love with you, but Kate owns my body and my soul. I’d never dream of being unfaithful to her. There’s nothing in this world that could entice me to betray her."

"That’s why we both love you, Hennessey. We both know that."

* * *

"We’re cooking out tonight, Hennessey. Wanna come over?"

"Nah. I’ve got a few things to clean up here, and I usually call Kate on Monday night. You and Nicole go ahead and have fun."

"I wouldn’t call it fun," Townsend said. "Nicole’s a slave driver!" She picked up her briefcase and walked over to Hennessey’s desk, perching on the edge of it.

"Is she still working on your first chapter?"

"Yeah. She’s giving me some excellent feedback, but she wants me to work for at least three hours a night. She says I don’t have nearly enough discipline."

Hennessey leaned back in her chair and asked, "How does it feel to have someone you’re close to look at your work?"

"It feels okay with her. You’re not … jealous that I’ve never let you see it, are you?"

"Jealous?" The dark-haired woman thought about the question for a moment. "Just a little. Even though I think I understand — it makes me a little jealous that you trust her more than you do me."

Running her fingers through Hennessey’s glossy hair, Townsend lifted her chin and said, "Nothing could be further from the truth, but you’re in every chapter, babe. I’m very insecure about showing this to you."

"I understand … kinda."

Townsend smiled at her friend and said, "I’ll let you read it when I’m finished. I’m just afraid of hearing your feedback while I’m still writing. Besides, I want to make sure I keep you as the villain of the piece." She ruffled Hennessey’s hair and placed a kiss on it. "Well, I’m off to find my woman and take her home. Have a good night, and say hi to Kate for me."

"Will do. Feel free to bring in leftovers tomorrow."

"Always looking for a meal. That’s my girl."

"It’s the last free meal I’ll get for a while, and I want to remember you during the summer. You know it’s just your cooking that keeps me interested."

"Yeah. Right. I have a lot of talents, buddy, but cooking isn’t one of them. All I can do well is barbeque, and you know it."

Hennessey grasped one of her friend’s hands and gave the back of it a kiss. "I’m gonna miss you this summer."

"I’ll miss you, too. I’m a little jealous of your getting to spend another summer in Paris while I hang out here."

"I’m really looking forward to it," Hennessey said. "Paris has always had a lot of magic for us. And depending on where we end up next year, we might need some extra magic to get through it."

"When does Kate find out where she’ll be?"

"Two days from now. I’m really on pins and needles."

"You are?" Townsend laughed. "I’m the one who should be on pins and needles! If you don’t wind up in South Carolina, I’m gonna have to replace you."

Hennessey tweaked her friend’s nose. "Yeah, yeah. It’s all about you, isn’t it?"

"Always has been, always will be. Now, promise that you’ll write to me as soon as you find out, okay?"

"Will do. Now get out of here and go impress your woman with your culinary skills."

Townsend gave her a smirk and jumped to her feet. "If that’s all I have to impress her with, I might as well throw in the towel right now." She slapped her butt and said, "I'm sittin' on my best assets."

* * *

From: Hennessey Boudreaux <hboudreaux@HiltonHeadWritersProgram.com> Sent:June 01, 2002

To: Townsend Bartley <tbartley@HiltonHeadWritersProgram.com>

cc:

Subject:

Whoopee!

Kate got accepted into the residency program at Palmetto Health in Charleston! I’m more excited about it than she is <s>, but I know that she’ll come to love South Carolina once she gives it a chance. We’ll be back in the States in six weeks, and I’ll spend the rest of the summer doing everything I can to make the transition as smooth as possible for her.

Charleston's over two hours from Hilton Head, so we have some negotiating to do over where we'll live. I wish we could live in the bungalow, just so we don't have to pay rent, but I can't have my sweetheart driving that far every day. We’ll just have to see how it goes, but no matter what, I'll be back at work in September.

I’m happier about this than you can imagine, Townsend, and I can’t wait to get home and start building a life with Kate in the most beautiful place on earth.

Higher than le tour Eiffel,

H

 

 

* * *

Concluded in Part 18

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