Warning: the following erotic short story contains adult content.
Roland Matthews took a slow draw of his wine, assessing her as one might a fine painting. Considered, but detached.
“So what do you do?”
Elle hated that question. No one wanted to admit being a stay-at-home mom to a fully grown child. It sounded lazy, indulgent. It was lazy and indulgent.
“Nothing really,” she said. “I mean, I look after a teenager, which is a bit like being a nurse, cook and sheriff in one… without the leave or pay. Without any obvious benefits, for that matter.”
She smiled, he didn’t. “What’s your life’s vocation? Aside from mothering.”
At this point, nothing less than a bout of gastro could make the night worse, and even that might be a welcome diversion. Damn Susie. She’d been dropping hints about her “gorgeous boss” for months, had sworn they would make “the perfect pair” and raved about his (clearly non-existent) sense of humour. Susie was simply chasing a promotion; her boss proving why blind dates were abhorred the world over.
“I like finding order in chaos… I guess I’d make a good secretary, or assistant or something.”
Apparently, this was not the answer he wanted. Roland ran his fingers through his hair with the teetering restraint of a poet, bent over a particularly frustrating work.
Part of her couldn’t help being impressed by him, despite his complete disregard. When he deigned to lift his gaze the dark eyes pinned her to her chair; good looks and a bulging wallet all the permission he needed to trample over civilities. Ryan would have called him “high cotton” and taken great pleasure in knocking him down a peg or two, probably in the car park out back. Hypothetically, it would have been a close match. Ryan had been a strong man, but there was something dangerous about Roland, an unspoken promise that he didn’t like to lose.
“Photography has always interested me,” she continued bravely. “The idea of preserving moments… stopping time.”
Finally, a little animation. “Well that’s something. And it’s never been so easy – anyone can point and shoot these days.”
“Oh, I’m sure. A monkey could do it.”
The lips twisted into a smirk, sensual when they weren’t flat-lined in impatience.
“I didn’t mean it like that… only that you have no excuse not to pursue what you want to.”
“And what about you, Roland?” Elle speared her fork into the salmon, pulling apart the soft, pink flesh. “Is your ‘life’s vocation’ creating insurance policies?”
She almost smiled as she pictured him in his office, mulling over endless reams of paperwork. Owning a mid-sized insurance firm was hardly license to judge her choices; even Susie admitted the job was duller than death.
“I like numbers and probabilities, finding patterns that allow you to predict outcomes.”
Oh, Elle knew the type. Control freak.
A hint of amusement edged his words as he continued. “Take your Suzie, for example. When she says there’s a 50/50 chance she’ll close a deal, there’s a 90% chance she won’t. She’s delightfully optimistic.”
Elle straightened in indignation, taking the bait against her better judgement. “If she’s so… ineffective, why did you hire her?”
“Women lack authority but instil trust, they nurture relationships.” He waved his hand in dismissal of such fripperies. “And she handles all the pregnant women and geriatrics no one else wants to deal with.”
She handles you, Elle thought. And what woman would want to?
When Roland asked her if she wanted dessert Elle feigned a full stomach. It didn’t keep him from having one, and so she sat and watched him slowly devour a slice of red velvet cake, wishing she’d ordered one herself.
You could tell a lot about a man by the way he ate, and Roland liked to toy with his food. He had an energy that was palpable; like a predator feigning indifference as it decided whether to finish you off. She knew that intelligence and power appealed to many women, but Elle found the combination unsettling. She didn’t want to be challenged by a man, but longed to be comforted by one, and her heart clenched as she recalled Ryan’s easy charm. Her husband had been gone for six years but she could still hear his deep laugh, still missed the way it curled into a chuckle as he caught his breath.
Roland put down his spoon down with a soft clink. “Elle, look I’m sorry if I came across a little… rude before. Apparently a man with a big house and a full head of hair isn’t allowed to stay single. Every woman I know is setting me up with their daughter, friend, long lost cousin. I’ve started treating dates like I’m going into battle.”
Elle couldn’t help but gape like a landed fish.
“Setting you up… I was the one bullied into this date!” She shook her head as Susie’s endless wheedling sprung to mind. “Susie said you saw us having lunch together and that you were lonely since your-” wife left you. “Separation. You threatened to fire her if she didn’t give you my number.”
Roland’s hands were steepled under his chin. “Lonely, eh?” He glanced at his watch as if to determine how much of his time had been wasted. “She might just get fired after all.”
Elle took a breath as her exasperation finally become too much to contain any longer.
“Trust me Roland, you’d be doing Susie a favor. You might just be the biggest jerk I’ve ever met.”
She pulled the thick linen napkin from her lap and tossed it on the table, ready to stand up and stalk out, when his palm fell warm against her wrist.
A moment earlier she’d been boring him, but now he watched her with a quiet intensity, his thumb brushing against the soft underside of her wrist.
“It’s true, I’m mean… I’m sorry. Jesus, I’m the biggest jerk I’ve ever met.”
Elle blinked in confusion.
“You see…” He shook his head. “My wife cheated on me and I haven’t been very nice to women since. It’s not fair, I know. And Susie was only trying to help. The perpetual optimist, regardless of the odds stacked against her.”
He smiled, and Elle’s eyes travelled from his mouth to the triangle of brown skin at his open collar.
“She’ll kill me if you go home angry,” he added, releasing her hand. The removal was strangely disappointing, her skin humming from his touch. It was a nice sensation, predictably followed by a sour sense of betrayal. She almost expected to turn around and see Ryan watching them from the bar.
“Dinner’s been a disaster of epic proportions, but I know a place with great music and nice wines. If you’ll let me buy you a drink I’ll convince you I’m not a total monster.”
She gave the waiter a nod for the bill and smiled apologetically. “It’s fine. I mean, thanks, but I have an early start tomorrow.”
Roland sat back, clearly dissatisfied but just as unwilling to reveal his interest. Elle knew he wasn’t the kind to push, and when he offered to drive her home she was grateful.
As they pulled up outside her house she thanked him for a pleasant evening. He’d been quiet on the ride back and as the engine purred he went to say something and paused, as if thinking better of it.
The car lingered as she walked up the sloping lawn and Elle could feel his eyes upon her back. Reaching the porch she turned and waved goodnight, the sleek Audi pulling away and merging into the darkness. Elle couldn’t help feeling she’d escaped a close call of sorts, and an instant relief that Roland was out of her life before he could disturb it any further.
As she slipped her key into the front door she could hear the rumble of Jimmy’s voice.
“Don’t be a dick-”
The door swung in to reveal Jimmy and Chris on the couch, a satin cushion clenched in Jimmy’s hand.
Her son froze mid-lunge and smiled blandly. Chris’ eyes slid up her tight blue mini dress in a single, blazing glare.
“Those cushions were expensive,” she said with a brittle little laugh. “So, play nice.”
“He needs to play nice. It’s not my fault his girlfriend dumped him.”
Chris flicked a look at Jimmy that promised to rip the pillow from his hand ram it down his throat. As usual, Jimmy was too preoccupied to notice. “I’m still seeing Sophie tonight, dude. I was up for a double date, but if you think you’re going to tag along like a Chinese exchange student-”
The door chime sent Jimmy leaping up from the couch and barrelling past his mother. As he mumbled a few words to his date and collected his wallet, Elle snuck a surreptitious peep over his shoulder. It was an unspoken rule that she was not allowed to communicate directly with his female acquaintances. With any of his acquaintances, Chris excepted.
Jimmy darted around and Sophie’s eyes followed, captivated. She was a sweet, blonde little thing who looked barely old enough to be out alone.
“Take care,” Elle said softly. Jim looked at her a moment, then nodded. He knew what she meant, had heard her complain about being a teenage mom enough to know that it was the most cursed kind of blessing.
As the door closed Elle struggled to find the courage to turn around and face her son’s best friend. In the two weeks since the party he’d refused to even look at her. With a carefree smile she tossed her handbag on the coffee table.
“Chris…” she began.
“Mrs. Benson.” He stood up and shrugged on his battered leather jacket.
“Can we talk a moment?”
“About me being an idiot? No thank you.”
He went to walk past her and she grabbed his shoulder, before releasing it awkwardly.
“It’s OK,” he muttered. “You can touch me, I won’t maul you.”
Elle couldn’t help the smile that tugged at her lips. “Are you sure? I’m pretty irresistible.”
She expected him to laugh, but he only looked at her in confusion.
“Chris, I was being sarcastic.”
The dark green eyes narrowed and Elle wondered at how tall he’d grown. These days her nose only just reached his chin. It made her feel like she was shrinking.
He spoke in barely a whisper. “You are irresistible.”
Hands on hips, she gazed up at him in exasperation. “Chris, you’re 18-”
“Jim’s 18. I’m 19.”
“Fine, 19. Regardless I’m almost twenty years your senior. The feelings that you have…” she waved her hand, “are just a passing infatuation. And totally inappropriate.”
“You think I’m just some horny teenager.”
She gulped. “Well I wouldn’t use those words… but yes.”
His eyes caught upon her lips. “What if I told you I’ve wanted you since I was twelve?”
“Then I’d tell you to see a therapist.”
“I’d prefer you addressed me as Mr. McKenzie.”
Elle sighed. “Fine, Mr. McKenzie.”
The leather stretched as he crossed his arms. What was in food these days that made kids so big? It had to be the chicken; everyone said it was the chicken.
“Do you remember that day Jim rode his bike into a tree and you had to drive us to the hospital?”
“I’ll never forget it.” Jimmy’s twisted arm and bloody face, the road blurred with tears. It had happened only a month after Ryan died.
“That was the day.”
“You were trying to drive and sing ‘Billie Jean’ to distract him from the pain. You were so upset…” He dropped his chin, eyes hidden beneath a fringe of lashes. “Anyway, that’s when I fell in love with you.”
Elle watched his face for a hint of laughter, some sign that it was all a big joke, the TV crew bursting through the door to announce she’d been ‘punked’. It was just the kind of stunt her son would pull. But there was no loud, smug announcer or glaring camera light. Only the sweet redness that burned beneath Chris’ tan, high across his cheeks and the bridge of his nose.
“I kissed you because you said that I should do something for myself. Be ‘reckless instead of looking after everyone all the time’. I took your advice.”
“You know that’s not what I meant Chris.”
He shook his head, as if disappointed with her.
“Can’t you see it would be wrong for me to take advantage of someone your age?”
“Take advantage how?”
Elle rubbed her temples. “To take pleasure from you, when you don’t have the emotional maturity to deal with it. I’m meant to be a protective figure in your life.”
“I could give you pleasure?”
Elle groaned and sunk onto the couch. “Don’t twist my words. I only mean that you are a handsome, intelligent boy-”
“I’m not a boy.”
“Teen,” she conceded, patting the seat beside her until he reluctantly stripped his jacket off and sat down. “You may have reached physical maturity, but you need to be with someone you can entrust your heart to. Someone who is your emotional equal.”
“What makes you think you’re so emotionally superior?”
“I’ve lived, Chris,” she said with just a little edge. “I’ve lost a husband, I’ve raised a son-”
“And now you’re old and your life is over. I’ve heard it.” He shook his head. “I’ve lived too you know, I lost a father and raised a mom. Unless the last 10 years were all in my imagination.”
The dark lock fell over his eyes and she fought the impulse to lean forward and push it back.
“That’s true, and you’re right, my life isn’t over. But my adolescent love affairs are.”
The two, large hands clenched atop his knees. “I don’t want an adolescent love affair,” he muttered. “I want you. All of you. Forever.”
“And how would your best friend feel about that? Or your mother?”
“I don’t give a damn. It’s not their life, it’s mine. And yours.”
He reached across and encased her tiny hand in his, pulling her palm to his lips and kissing it.
He released her, his finger tips brushing across her breast to settle over her beating heart.
“You want me too. You just won’t admit it.”
She drew her hand back to slap him, but he caught her wrist and left it suspended, lips parted as he struggled to find the words.
“I can’t live like this around you… it’s driving me crazy.”
Something in his expression made her pause, and she recalled the times he’d stayed behind to help her over the years, chatting happily until Jimmy teased him for being “a suck”. They’d had so many conversations about his hopes and aspirations, the people and things that drove him to despair. To Chris, his feelings ran far deeper than an infatuation and it was wrong of her to dismiss them as such.
“Chris, I understand. I really do. You-”
She tensed and raised her hand against his chest as he kissed her with a trembling desperation. Relentless, his tongue pushed past her lips to explore her mouth in hungry strokes, his hand becoming tangled in her hair.
Even as she struggled she felt parts of her body respond that she’d forgotten existed; his desire so forceful it invoked her own. She broke free, gasped as he jerked the low neck of her dress down to caress her breast.
“Chris, you aren’t thinking-”
“I’m sick of thinking,” he mumbled against her jaw. “Just for once I don’t want to think, Ellie. Please.”
He lowered his mouth to her breast and licked through the gauzy bra, a liquid heat travelling through her body that was debilitating. Bracing herself against his arms she felt his muscles flex as he gripped her buttocks and pulled her under him. Their hips locked together and she wondered how such an aberration could feel so totally natural. With a mixture of dread and lust she sensed herself waver, her heart longing to give him something he wanted so passionately. He was desperately sweet, and she was intoxicated.
Of course, sweet was not the word that came to mind as he ground himself against her, eyes half closed in hunger. He was quickly losing control and if she was going to stop them now was the final chance to act, or abandon herself to him completely.
Arms wrapped around his neck, she arched her body up against his. The soft lashes opened, his eyes wide, lips parted in surprise.
“You want me?”
He obviously couldn’t believe it, and neither could she. Elle turned away, unable to face him as she gave a small nod.
“I don’t have anything on me.” The admission was so wretched, she almost smiled.
“It’s OK… I had an operation.” She grimaced as she wondered how it had come to this: spread-eagled under her son’s friend, encouraging him to indulge in unprotected sex. It was too monstrous to be true.
As if sensing her rising panic he tugged on her dress to take her other breast, stoking the fire inside her with hot, circular strokes of his tongue. She hitched the fabric of her mini up so he could settle between her thighs.
He groaned in frustration. “I’m not going to make it.”
Elle couldn’t help but think that might be for the best. Slipping her hand between them, she began to rub the long, taut edge of him.
He clamped her wrist to stop her. “No… please don’t.”
His eyes were clear and intense, the flush gone from his face as blood rushed to the other parts of his body. She felt his hand grope beneath her dress and breath catch as he found the thin strap of her panties. He snapped the band in a single, brutal yank, eyes fluttering closed as he reached the moisture between her thighs. His fingers pushed inside her. It was so exquisitely wrong that she could only lie in a strange state of paralysis, body coiling as he explored her.
After a moment his caress grew more insistent and she felt him fumble at his jeans. Now was the time to end it, to take him in her hand and bring him to release before they crossed a line even more unforgivable than the dozen or so they’d just leapt over. But she didn’t stop him; she only prayed that he wasn’t a virgin, that fate had spared her that at least.
The pressure of him sliding inside her was sweet agony. It had been so long since she’d had this, since she’d shared herself with another person. He grasped her hip and thrust himself as deeply as he could and she adjusted the angle of her leg, drawing it up so that he could bury himself completely. He made a sound of hopeless passion, dropping his face into her neck and freezing as he summoned the control to move again. She rocked her hips, encouraging him into a slow, aching rhythm that set her blood on fire. Just as she felt the impending promise of release he paused, every muscle locked in agony.
“I’m sorry, I can’t…”
She kissed his temple and held him tight as he began to shudder, her body gripping as he pulsed inside her. Hands running up his arms, the muscles shifted and twitched beneath the smooth, supple skin, until he finally collapsed beside her.
As his fingers remained clenching the folds of her dress, Elle sensed the anger simmering beneath his languor. She stroked his head, running her fingers through the strands of course silk.
His jaw tightened against her shoulder. “I can’t believe, after all this time I did that.” He loosened his grip and flexed his fingers. “I had one chance and I fucking… screwed it. Literally.”
She stopped herself from chiding the coarse language, caught in the realization he expected her to act like a woman, not a mother. He’d slipped into seeing them as equals so easily, but she was struggling to catch up.
“I wouldn’t say that, Mr. McKenzie.”
He broke from her soothing hands and sat up, starting to fix his pants. A flush had returned to his face that gave his eyes a strange glitter.
“You don’t understand.”
“What it’s like to create an impossible fantasy. To detail every part of it, then through some miracle experience it in truth, and ruin it completely.”
“Didn’t it please you?” She went to push his hair up off his face, but he flinched away.
“I didn’t want to please myself, I wanted to please you.”
Elle pulled the broken panties away and dragged her skirt over her reddened thighs. “I can’t help feeling I’m going to regret this ever happened, but even if that’s so, you should know you did please me Chris, very much.”
He grimaced, stood up and shrugged on his jacket. “You’re everything I dreamed and more, Ellie.” Taking a few steps to the door, he paused on the threshold. “But like I said, you could never understand.”
The warm night air wafted through the door and in another moment, he was gone.
Elle caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror, hair mussed and lips swollen. She turned away, unable to face the sight. The past years had been a struggle, a string of tiny failures and bitter compromises, but through it all she’d been able to hold her head high and look herself in the eye.
There was no chance of that now.