He sounded so … mad the few times he'd answered the phone when she called. It was hard for her to decide if the Erik they'd met last Saturday was closer to his true personality than the one he had shown her later Saturday night and again on Tuesday.
"Hi," she said.
'You got home earlier than you thought you were going to.'
"Yeah, Brenda's parents' are being real strict about her curfew. That included even me staying there past it on Friday night, I guess."
'Really? That seems a bit harsh.'
"I think it's her step-mom more than her dad," Chris said. "I could tell you stories about her. She's a little weird."
"Yeah. I don't know," she said with a shrug. Erik wouldn't see the shrug, of course. He didn't want to hear about Brenda's step-mom, though, she was fairly sure of that. He probably didn't have to deal with things like step-mom's and stuff. God, how totally immature some of the things she said to him must sound. "Anyway, I stopped at Aaron's on the way to check on the cat and thought I'd call you."
'How is old Henry?'
She smiled a little that he remembered her brother's cat's name. "He's fine. He seems a little distraught. I might stick around here for a while."
"Yeah. I don't know. I feel bad for him. My dad's allergic to cats or we'd probably have him at our house instead of my having to come here every day."
'You want company?'
"That's up to you."
'Well, not really. Not completely anyway.'
"You could. Do you remember how to get here?"
"Well, since it's Friday I have no curfew. I could tell my mom I was hanging out here with Henry for a while. I don't think she'd mind."
'Yeah? I'll be there in about forty-five minutes then.'
"Okay. You should maybe park on the street."
He chuckled at that. 'Worried your mom's going to drive by and see my car on the driveway?'
"I don't think she'd do that, but just in case."
'All right. I'll see you in a while then.'
"Are you sure?"
"You don't work tomorrow?"
'I already told you when we went out Tuesday I didn't.'
"Yeah, but I guess I never thought about it. You were working last Saturday night. Late."
'Just happened to be there. It was a fluke. Right place, right time.'
'I don't usually have better opportunities.'
"Well, then I'll see you in a while."
'Okay. Do I need to bring anything?'
"Sorry?" No way was he asking her that!
'I guess I should have phrased that better. I meant. Well, you know, nothing bad. Are you hungry? Thirsty? Want some beer? Do you even drink beer?'
"I have, sure. I'm fine. Bring what you want, though."
She hung up, not at all expecting him to offer to drive out here. She just figured they could talk for a while without her parents' being home.
"Hi Mom," she said when her mom answered.
'Hi honey, is everything all right?'
"Yeah, I'm about to leave Brenda's. Evidently her grounding curfew applies to my being here, too."
'Oh, that's too bad.'
"I'm going to stop by Aaron's for a while, though, to spend some time with Henry. Okay?"
'Sure. Is he okay?'
"Yeah, he just seemed kind of lonesome and hard up for company when I stopped after school. I figured I could watch TV there and hang out with him for a while."
'Okay. We'll probably be asleep when you get home so I'll see you in the morning then.'
'Thanks for calling, Christine.'
"Sure," she said, hanging up.
She just lied to her mother. She was for sure going to hell. Or something like it anyway. She knew she wasn't the only girl to lie to her parents' and it wasn't as if she was doing anything terribly wrong.
Except for having a guy come to her brother's house who she'd fooled around with the other night.
She still felt a bit guilty as she took her hand away from the phone. She just wasn't sure how much time her mom would let her spend with Erik if she knew she was wanting to.
She opened the door when he rang the bell.
"Hi," he said.
"Hi yourself. You made good time."
"The traffic was pretty light. The Bulls are off and the Blackhawks are in Detroit I think I heard, so no traffic for anything huge like that."
"So, how's Henry?"
"Henry's fine. He's been sitting on my lap, watching TV since I hung up with you and Mom."
"He is not."
"I think so. I think sitting on your lap would be kind of fun."
"And you were worried about getting too heavy the other night."
He chuckled at that, sliding his coat off. She took it and set it over the chair on top of hers.
"Well, then you can sit on mine. That worked just fine."
"It did," she said, blushing.
He leaned down and kissed her. She reached up and kissed him, standing up on her toes a bit to reach around his neck.
"I was surprised you called," he said when they stopped kissing.
"Why? I told you I would tonight."
"Yeah, I figured it'd be later. I don't know."
"I wasn't counting on Brenda's step-mom being crazy."
"Do you think she told them what happened?"
"No! She wouldn't do that to me!"
"I hope not."
"God, if the Anderson's found out what happened I don't even want to think about what they'd do to me. They'd never talk to my parents' again, that's for sure."
"Your parents are friends with the kids' parents? Just the two, though? The brother and sister."
"Yes. Not real close friends, but yeah. And, no, they don't know Darryl's parents. At least not that I know of."
"Huh. I guess I didn't realize that."
"So, you didn't bring anything with you."
"No, you said you were fine. I don't need anything."
"Do you want a pop or something? I'm sure Aaron has beer here or something."
"I'm fine, really. I didn't come here to drink his pop or beer anyway."
"I know, but it seems rude not to offer."
"I'll tell you what I do want."
"What?" she asked as he tugged her closer against him. "You kissing me some more."
"You can have that."
"No sweater tonight, I notice."
"No," she said. "This is what I wore to school today since I was just going to Brenda's," she shrugged.
"You look fine." He reached to the front of her shirt and worked the top button. "Besides, it buttons. That's nice."
She laughed at that. "You like that?"
"Yes, I do."
"Why?" she asked softly, watching as he worked another button. His hands were very interesting. Large. Rough. Calloused and scarred. Very different than the hands of anyone else she knew. She'd never met anyone who worked on cars or anything for a living. She had a couple of casual guy friends who took auto shop class, but that was a semester. Erik had obviously been doing this for a lot longer than that.
"I don't know. I like unbuttoning it one by one. You seem to like watching me do it, too."
She blushed again. God, he made her do that all of the time.
"It's sexy. You know, a little bit at a time. As slow or as fast as I want to go. A little skin, kind of a teasing."
"I get it."
"And yet you always wear T-shirts."
"I didn't realize you want to take my shirts off."
"You mean women don't want to see you without your shirt on?"
He seemed to mull that over a bit as he worked another button. "Lately not women I've wanted to, no."
"You don't want me to?"
"You know I do."
"Well, I have lately."
"Yeah? How lately?"
She laughed. "When haven't I it seems?"
"Well, what's stopping you?"
"I don't know. Me?"
"It seems fair is fair, though I by far get the better end of the deal in that exchange."
"You're far nicer to touch than I am."
"Don't be so sure."
"You're, you know, soft with curves."
"Guys aren't supposed to be soft."
He chuckled at that. "I guess not. I still say I get the better end of the deal, but you want to touch me."
He stepped away and she really, really hated that he stopped unbuttoning her blouse until she realized he was sliding his shirt up and off. Her eyes followed the path of his arms as his shirt rose up, revealing his abdomen and then his chest, finally his shoulders. She stared. She couldn't help it. He was absolutely, positively someone worth staring at. He tilted his head a little as he dropped the shirt at his feet, regarding her.
"Why are you looking at me like that?"
"I don't know," he said with a shrug. He took one of her hands and brought it to his shoulder.
"Like you're absolutely gorgeous, you mean?"
"Well, no, that's not what I was thinking. You just look like you haven't…"
"Seen a half-naked man before? Probably because I haven't."
"Never? Are you shitting me?"
"My brother, I guess. You Saturday night, but I so never looked at him like I am at you right now and I didn't really look at you like that either. I was too tired and still kind of scared from everything that had happened," she said, running a fingertip along his collarbone.
"So, when you say you haven't done…"
"Nothing," she said.
"Not even sneaking your friend's older sister's Playgirl issues or something?"
"No! Not the same thing either."
"No," she said. "I can't imagine something like that would even come close to you."
"Honey, you're liable to give me a big head saying stuff like that."
"It's true," she said, watching her finger as she slid it along his skin. He had a small amount of hair on his chest, a little darker than the very blond hair on his head, but still blond. She'd wondered that the other night. She wondered what he looked like during the summer.
"What are you thinking that has you turning red?"
"Wondering what you look like during the summer after being out in the sun."
"I get pretty dark and my hair gets even lighter. Is that what you're asking?"
"Yes," she said.
"And you like that idea?"
"I guess so," she whispered. "All of it?"
"Uh, yeah, I mean, I guess I haven't paid that close attention, but I never wear a shirt unless I have to."
"No. At work, obviously, but around my house I never wear one."
"The girls in your neighborhood must love watching you mow the lawn."
He chuckled softly. "I've never noticed."
"How could you not?"
He shrugged. "I don't know. I don't pay attention."
She leaned in then and kissed his chest and he hissed softly, sliding a hand to her hair. He ran his fingers through her hair as she moved her mouth to his shoulder and neck. She nipped at a spot on his neck, one of the marks she'd left him Tuesday night was almost gone. The other one was still showing more than she expected it to.
"Yeah, you do that very well I guess," he said softly.
"Don't apologize. I don't mind at all. I have no one I'm accountable to."
"What did Mr. Pruitt say?"
"John, his name is John. And he told me he'd break my legs if I hurt you."
"Oh my God. You told him it was me?"
"Well, I kind of had to, didn't I? If I didn't and you came around some day and he saw you and then remembered I had them he'd probably think I was seeing you and someone else or something."
"Are you going to?"
"See someone else? Honey, I'm not the one that kissed and gave my phone number out to two men Saturday night. Not to mention a third one showing up at your door to do some groveling."
"No, not that."
"Yeah," she said, touching him again. She couldn't seem to stop. God, he was nice to touch. Hard and muscular and despite standing here with no shirt on very warm to the touch.
"Not if I can help it, Chris."
"Why don't you have someone?"
He shrugged. "No one's interested me? I don't know. You meet the wrong people enough times and you sort of give up trying after a while. You meet who you think could be the right person and they choose someone instead of you and you start thinking it's you not the people you're meeting. You get into the habit of going out with people to get needs met and you stop looking for more."
"The girl you were going to propose to?"
"Not just her. There was someone else I met a few years ago. You kind of remind me of her in a way," he scoffed a bit. "Totally out of my league."
"You say that. I'm not…"
"I know what I am, Chris. I see your house, the neighborhood you live in, your brother's house here. I mean, I have a house and a business but people like your parents and brother would always see me as a mechanic."
"No, actually. That wasn't the issue. She liked someone else."
"She cheated on you, too?"
He chuckled softly. “No, nothing like that. He works for me actually. He wasn’t there the first time she showed up at the garage and I didn’t realize he even had a girlfriend. I flirted, you know. She was attractive and there at my garage. Once I saw them together, though. It was fairly obvious they both liked each other. Then I found out she was his girlfriend.”
“You still asked her out though?”
“Did she say yes?”
“No,” he said. “She didn’t say why. She didn’t have to I guess. She just said no. I’m not mad at her or anything,” he said. He actually started blushing a little and she wondered why.
"Still, it hurts."
"I don't know if hurt is the right word, but it affects you even if it's just a little."
"She's like me?"
"And she's with him?"
"So, why couldn't you believe I would be okay with it?"
“Because you didn’t know me in high school. I’m fairly sure if they’d just met at my garage by chance they wouldn’t be dating. Like me he’s not the nicest guy in the world.”
"You can be."
"You just don't want to get taken advantage of anymore."
"Maybe," he said.
She went up onto her toes again so she could lean in and kiss him. He kissed her back, which is what she was hoping he'd do. She slid her hand down from his shoulder along his chest. He bit her lower lip a little when she ran a fingertip over one of his nipples and she drew away.
"Where are you going?"
"You didn't do anything wrong."
"You bit me!"
He chuckled. "Instinct."
"Oh," she said.
"Sorry. Did I actually hurt you? I wasn't trying to."
"No, I just…"
"God you must think I'm the biggest idiot."
"I don't know."
"I don't think you're an idiot."
He kissed her again, sliding his arms around her to draw her against him. She slid hers around his shoulders again, reaching up into the kiss. He picked her up like he did the other night. She was expecting it this time so wrapped her legs around him almost immediately. Her back against the wall, he worked at unbuttoning her shirt letting it fall open before sliding his mouth from hers to the top of her breast.
She slid her hands to his head, tilting her head back against the wall as he licked and sucked her skin there. She knew what he was doing and groaned softly at the idea of someone seeing it on Monday. He stopped after a few minutes, licking the spot before drawing away to kiss her again. He led them to the bedroom they'd gone to the other day. It should bother her that he could do that so easily, carry her like that but she didn't really mind for whatever reason. He let go of her only long enough to set her on the bed before joining her on it.
"I'm not sure it's a good thing I know you like the idea of my giving you those there."
"Why?" she asked softly.
"Because it turns me on you like it, and I want to experiment to see just where I should and shouldn't leave them. A shirt like this, that one might show if you leave it unbuttoned a bit."
"You want it to show or not?"
"I suspect you don't want your parents to see them."
"So, I could button it enough so they don't see it and undo it when I get to school or out."
"Fuck," he whispered softly, running a fingertip over the mark.
"What? It only seems fair since yours showed."
"I don't care about fair. I like, say, the idea of Mike seeing it."
"I don't think he'd care."
He scoffed at that, leaning down to kiss her stomach and she breathed in sharply.
"He'd care, honey, trust me. I'd care and I'm not like him. No one wants to see physical proof their ex is doing something with someone else."
"Only because I didn't with him?"
"Well, no," he said, reaching behind her to unfasten her bra and slide it off. "Maybe a little more for someone like him who seemed to enjoy doing that to women. Getting them to do things I mean."
Her eyes fell closed as he used his hands, touching her breasts before using his mouth on them. He didn't seem as concerned about getting too heavy for her tonight. She slid her legs around him, though, pressing against him as she had the other night. It wasn't quite the same positioning as it had been with her sitting on his lap but it had no less of an effect on her.
She whimpered a little as he shifted over her a bit. He chuckled a bit, kissing her stomach.
"I'm not going anywhere," he murmured.
He chuckled again, shifting a bit more so her legs were on either side of his thigh.
"Oh God," she cried out as he pressed his thigh against her right where she needed him to. So much better than what she'd been doing a minute ago.
"Don't stop what you were doing," he said.
She sighed a bit.
"Chris," he prompted and she brushed against his thigh a bit. "Yes," he whispered, taking a nipple into his mouth as she started moving herself against him again. God he felt amazing like this, no shirt laying on her like he was. She felt his skin under her fingertips as she ran them along his shoulders and his neck.
He slid a hand lower along her stomach, finding the waist of her pants. He had them unfastened before she could really process what he was even doing. Then he stopped, settling his hand against the front of her jeans there. He did enough though, touched her just right that she came almost as soon as he touched her there.
He didn't stop touching her, though, shifting himself a bit again so he could kiss her as he slid his fingers over the fabric there.
"You want me to stop?" he whispered.
"No, I just," she shrugged.
"You just what?"
"Well, I just did, you know."
"Well, you don't have to keep doing that."
He chuckled, grazing her lower lip with his tongue. "Oh, I know I don't have to keep doing it. I want to keep doing it. That's the fantastic part about women, you can finish again right away with the right encouragement."
"You want me to?"
"Why wouldn't I?"
"It turns me on that you're willing to do that for yourself like you did the other night and were doing tonight."
"You like that?"
"I do. I did. I like that you want to feel good."
"Well, then. I'm just helping."
She bit her lower lip lightly, pressing against his fingers. "I think you're doing more than helping," she said.
"And, see, you do that when you get excited, bite your lip. That's why I did that earlier."
"Oh," she said, not having noticed she'd done that at all. The other night or tonight. She slid a hand to his wrist, encouraging him to go lower. She loved what he was doing. It felt incredibly good, but God she wanted more. He took her hint and slid a finger lower between her legs which was exactly what she wanted him to do just then. It wasn't the same as without her jeans in the way.
"Fuck," he muttered, dropping his mouth to her neck where he kissed it at the spot where it met her shoulder.
She reached for his chest then, touching him, finding his nipple again as she'd done earlier. She'd stopped thinking he hadn't liked it or didn't want her to. That didn't seem to be the case, or she guessed it wasn't.
He drew away after a few minutes. He hadn't done more than touch her, never actually reaching into her jeans after he'd unbuttoned them. She sure wanted him to, but she wasn't sure what else she could to tell him she wanted to beyond what she'd done.
"This is so wrong," he murmured, moving to sit at the edge of the bed. Away from her.
"What?" She couldn't possibly be hearing him right.
"I haven't even taken you out on an actual date."
"You're taking me out tomorrow."
"Yeah. You deserve so much better than this. What we're doing. Lying to your mom about where you even are."
"She knows I'm here!"
"Okay. Why you're here."
"Well, where else are we going to go?"
"I don't know. Out on dates, in public places where people go together."
"I'm sorry. You don't want…"
"Fuck. I want to. I want to so badly I almost forgot for a second who I'm dealing with and started taking my jeans off."
"Don't. Don't even say it. I don't know what you were about to say, but I can't hear it right now. If it's negative I'll feel like even more shit. If it's not negative I'll feel like an asshole for quitting."
"You still haven't heard from the other guy from Saturday. So that means he's still a possibility."
"You think I'd go out with someone else after being here with you like this?"
"I don't know! If it was me and I had someone like me or someone like him interested I can't say I'd settle for the mechanic."
"I don't share, Chris. I can't go from this, fooling around with you to going out on dates with you while someone else does, too, wondering what you're doing with him."
"I haven't done anything but kiss him. Outside the Anderson's house with the kids watching!"
"Yeah, well, if I knew if he called you'd tell him you'd met someone else I'd probably keep going, but somehow I'm just not real confident you'd tell him that."
"He called on Wednesday," she said.
"He called not long after I got home from school Wednesday."
"You didn't say anything."
"I wasn't sure you really wanted to know."
"I don't really want to know, but I think I should know."
"I told him I couldn't go out with him right now."
"I know you heard me, Erik. You were right Tuesday, if he'd called Sunday or Monday I probably would have given him a different answer. I kissed you. I let you take my top off. I couldn't go out with someone else after doing that. Until Tuesday I might have seen both of you for a while. I would've told both of you."
"I don't want you saying no to him because we've fooled around, Chris."
"I said no to him because he didn't make me feel what you make me feel. No one has."
"Well, I'm not sure that's flattering or not since I'm not sure you've kissed more than him, Mike, and me."
"I've never been interested! Ever. I thought girls who let guys do those things were easy."
"You're not easy, honey."
"I know that. I also know that you're twenty-something years old and have your own business. You told me tonight you have a house. I'm seventeen years old, I have none of those things. I haven't even gone to college yet."
"What can I possibly give you? I mean, what do you want from me? Never mind I sit here and wonder what you even see in me? You're from the city. I'm from the suburbs and as you may have noticed last Saturday night I'm pretty clueless."
"I wouldn't say you're clueless. I'd say naïve, but that's not bad. As far as what I want from you. I don't know. I know I don't want to let someone like you walk away. I'm glad I make you feel these things, but I still feel guilty."
"I don't want you to feel guilty."
"Back at you, honey. I don't want us doing things tonight that you'll feel guilty about tomorrow or Monday at school, looking at your friends."
"I'm not, but I also don't want you to think I," she shrugged. "That I expect something from you. I assumed things with Mike."
"I'd hope you'd expect something from the guy you're letting do these things to you, Christine."
"You sound like my mother."
"Well, someone should I think. What you think you don't deserve feelings from someone?"
"I just wasn't going to not even a week of knowing you expect."
He shifted a bit on the bed so he was lying next to her. She slid her hand to his chest and he watched her do it, smirking a bit.
"What? I like touching you."
"And I'm glad. I want you to touch me lots more. Not just tonight either."
"Yes. I like your hands on me. A lot. I suspect I'll like them other places besides my chest, too."
He chuckled a bit at that, leaning in to kiss her.
"Why don't we order a pizza or something?"
"We're here. Let's put all our clothes back on, or I guess I can leave mine off for now if you really want me to, go out to the living room and watch some TV."
"Well, sure. I love kissing you, I love the way you kiss me, and I absolutely love the way you come, but I'm only human. You know? I don't want to push or scare you."
"You say that, and I believe you but I don't want sex from you. At least not tonight. One day I hope, yeah."
"So, you really want to sit here and eat pizza, watching TV?"
"It's Friday night."
"So that means I either come here and push you to have sex or I what? Go to a bar and pick up someone who will have sex with me instead?"
"No, I just," she shrugged.
He slid a fingertip along the mark he left on her neck by her shoulder. She smiled a bit. "Yeah, that one may be a little harder to conceal."
"I'll figure it out."
"Okay." He leaned in and kissed her. "I like you, Chris. I'm not hauling my ass out to Oak Park just for sex. I meant what I said before, quality is way more of a priority for me. Some things are worth waiting for and I don't want to fuck them up."
"I don't get many women walking into my garage I want to ask out."
"But you said…"
"Yeah, she was the only one. She wasn't a customer. It was a couple of years ago now, but I swear to you I'd lost hope of anyone even remotely catching my interest walking through those doors again."
"Why did you like her?"
He shrugged. “I didn’t really. I mean, she was attractive, but I didn’t know her beyond that to like her. It was pretty clear, though, that she was, well,” he laughed softly. “Like you. You know, the kind of girl I’d bring home to my mom. She wasn’t interested in me. She was nice and everything.”
"I get it."
"If you're wanting me to ask you to be my girlfriend or something. Well, I kind of think we should actually have a few dates before doing that."
"Not to say I don't want that, but you know, two weeks from now I may not make you feel what I make you feel now. My job isn't fun. I work long hours sometimes. I get dirty and if you haven't noticed I have callouses and scars and…"
"That doesn't bother me."
"You say that tonight, but I know what kind of guy you dated before me. So you may decide someone closer to home and more your usual type is your thing."
"I doubt that!"
"I hope that's the case."
"You really want pizza?"
"Sure. Whatever you want. If you'd rather go somewhere, we can do that, too."
"No, I like the idea of you sitting here for a while longer like you are."
"Are you going to objectify me now?"
"Totally," she said with a soft giggle.
"It's Pruitt's fault."
"If he didn't know you…"
"Don't blame him because you're a nice guy, Erik."
"You don't know that."
"Pruitt didn't make you come to my house on Saturday night. In fact, Pruitt would have told you not to I'm pretty sure. You were in no condition to drive."
"You look better, by the way."
"Better than Saturday at your house? I hope so."
"Me, too. Do me a favor?"
"I can try."
"Tomorrow night? Leave the keys to your brother's house at home."
"I can do that."
"Thank you. You haven't said what you want to do anyway."
"It doesn't matter."
"You should choose."
"You're coming out here you should get some say, too."
"A movie? Does your brother get a paper?"
"Yes," she said.
"Well, why don't we pick one then."
"Okay," she said.
"Yes, why?" she asked.
"I don't know. Just making sure."
"I'm fine, Erik."
"You regret letting me do that?"
"No," she said. She didn't, not really. He'd touched her, but he hadn't done more than that and he certainly could have. She wouldn't have stopped him because she was pretty sure it would have felt great.
"I can see you thinking."
"I'm fine. It's fine."
"You haven't even acted as if you wanted me to…"
"Talk to me in a while all right? I'm still not so sure you're not going to wake up tomorrow and think the frat guy isn't a better choice."
"I can't help who I like, Erik."
"I guess that's true. I'd still like to have a date or two, maybe even three or four, before I start worrying about that."
"You'd worry about it after a few dates?"
He chuckled. "I'm only human, honey."
"Is your friend Brenda going to see that tomorrow?" he asked.
"I don't know. Maybe."
"Is she going to freak out?"
She laughed softly. "No, she won't freak out. She'll probably ask me for details."
"Ah, one of those friends."
"Yeah," Chris said, knowing she was blushing.
"Well, I'm glad I know that."
"That way I can make sure the details you have to share are only good ones."
"Am I doing all right so far?"
"Yes," she said.
"Good. Paper's on the table where I saw the mail?"
"All right," he said, handing her the bra and shirt. "I'll let you do that this time without my staring at you. Come on out when you're ready," he said, grabbing his shirt but he didn't put it back on.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com