chapter 12

“So, you like kids?” I asked, through a soda-in-the-windpipe induced coughing fit.

This is a deal-breaker, Swan!

“Well, I thought I did. Turns out…not so much.” He laughed wryly while patting me on the back.

“Hm,” I said, not wanting to get too excited, yet. “What happened?”

“Well, it turns out that kids aren’t that nice, most of the time. Their parents sure think they are, and I had plenty who would swear that little Johnny or Suzy was the sweetest and best behaved child on the planet…but when they were in my class, they weren’t.”

“Sounds like it’s the parents you didn’t like.”

“Well, that was certainly a component…but the thing is…as much as I enjoyed teaching, I always felt confined. Kids can only understand so much, unlessthey’re geniuses, and the longer I taught, the more I found myself craving the company of adults.”

“Hm,” I said.

“I guess, that’s probably not what you wanted to hear,” he said, throwing his napkin down dejectedly.

“So…do you want kids…some day?” I asked, afraid to end this so soon, but more afraid of having to broach the subject later….

“No,” he said with a little shame. “I thought I would. Really. And my parents used to say, when I would complain and tell them I wasn’t ever having any, ‘Oh, you’ll change your mind after you have them,’ but I thought…shouldn’t I know I want something before making a lifetime commitment? I mean…do modern people get married because they might end up liking each other after the honeymoon? No. You know what you want; you go for it. You don’t do it and then hope it works out…at least I wouldn’t.”

“I never thought of it that way,” I said, “But that’s a good argument.”

“Well, anyway, I see a kid, and I’m just…I just know: I don’t want that.”

“Hm,” I said, still not commenting.

“You’re killing me, Swan. C’mon…tell me what an ass I am, that I don’t want kids.”

“You’re not an ass,” I said.

“No?”

I shook my head.

“So…”

“I don’t want kids either,” I finally admitted. Relieved somehow. “I have zero nurturing instincts. I see kids, and I want to run away and hide…and then have my ovaries removed.”

He laughed at that.

“Well, that’s very invasive.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I’m that serious.”

“Are you…? You aren’t fucking with me? You really don’t want kids,” he said.

“As a heart attack.

“Are you?” I turned it back at him, “Are you sure you aren’t just a confused man who hasn’t meet the right woman, who will make you want to make a thousand babies?”

“Oh, I think I’ve met her,” he said looking straight ahead, “But no, I don’t want to make anything but hot…” he leaned over and kissed my neck, “steamy (kiss, kiss)…” he pulled back and looked at me seriously, “soup. I love making soup.”

I grinned.

“You like massaging people, too.”

“Yeah. I like touching, not gonna lie.”

And the panic was back.

“Um…I don’t quite know how to word this.” I was faltering. I needed to get this out there. I needed to know.

Like he’s going to tell you he finds his clients attractive.

Why would he lie?

So he can continue fucking you, you stupid cow!

“Hey, Iz?” he said.

“Yeah…”

“Just fucking ask.”

“Right…So do you, um…get turned on…when you…massage people?”

He frowned.

“Not like you think,” he said. “It’s like…I feel like I’m taking care of them. And…when they’re attractive, like you, I feel, I don’t know, I little more physically connected? But I don’t rage a hard-on and I don’t fantasize about them later. That’s just you.”

“You…fantasized about me?”

“I thought about you a LOT.”

“Me, too.”

“Yeah?”

I nodded. “That’s why I stopped going. I was too attracted. I couldn’t relax.”

“You seem to be doing fine, now,” he said.

“Yeah, but we’re fucking.”

“Well, I would argue that we should have been fucking all along,” he said downing the last of his beer.

“But…how?”

“Well, I had a plan…you were thwarting it at every turn, but it worked out, in the end,” he said, leaning over for a kiss.

I pulled away when I realized what he said. “You planned on fucking me from the first day?”

“No, I didn’t plan on fucking you until I met you in the grocery store.”

“You knew it was me?”

“No, I knew it was a woman that reminded me of you. Clients are no-nos. So, I was going to go after my Gouda Goddess to cleanse my palette of Sexy Swan-lady.”

“But you didn’t, you just walked away.”

“Yeah, you looked really mad, and I…I chickened out,” he stared at his beer bottle and started removing the label.

I nibbled on some crust and thought.

“Wait, the next time, back at the spa—”

“—Then, I got my priorities in order,” he said, turning his stool to face me, and turning mine, so I was facing him, too.

“No, you were mad at me!”

“No way! I was trying to be professional. I couldn’t gush at you in front of Heidi. She’s the biggest gossip on the planet!”

“Did you walk in on me on purpose?”

“No. I mean, I thought you’d be naked under the sheet, sure, but I didn’t expect to find you shuffling about. I was just too excited to wait.”

“Oh.”

“Did you…why did you just take off your bra?” he asked.

“Well, I didn’t think I could handle you sliding it off my shoulder.”

“We don’t do that.”

“Well, I didn’t know! You were surprised about the panties, though, right?” I asked.

“Well, to be honest, I thought the lack of bra meant that you wanted me…sexually. I thought you were gonna make a move…sometimes clients do that—”

“—and now I’m jealous,” I said, turning my stool to face the bar again.

“Well, you shouldn’t be. I’m totally smitten. Anyway, when I felt your panties, I was confused. And disappointed.”

He rubbed his face and pulled at his hair a little. Then he leaned on the bar with an elbow and stared at my profile.

“Then, I offered you more massage time,” he was running his fingers through my hair pulling it from my face, “I was hoping you’d ask…if that’s what you wanted…”

“But…I didn’t know!” I said turning my head to face him, briefly, before facing forward again.

“Well, I thought…I don’t know. I guess I was too subtle.”

“You were,” I said.

“Then, you were gone. I spent a LOT of time in that grocery store the next month, hoping to catch you. I decided that if I found you again, I wasn’t letting you out of my sight until I had your number and address, and hopefully a date.”

“But you just wanted to fuck me, right?” I said with an edge.

What’s your problem, Swan?

I don’t know.

All you wanted to do was fuck his brains out, and now you’re pissed that that’s all he wanted?

It’s different now.

“I don’t know,” he finally said. “I didn’t know enough about you to know if I would enjoy spending non-naked time with you. And then, at the grocery store…well, I wasn’t sure you were the right woman for me…you’re not a very good listener.”

“I know, I know…” I said, rolling my eyes.

“But, I kind of like the things that come out of your mouth, and I hoped that if I was interesting enough, you might try a little harder…and then you did.”

“Yeah, I just needed to be reminded,” I said.

“So…your turn. You’ve been a great listener, tonight. I’d like to give you the same attention. Tell me about you.”

“Well, I’m kind of boring—”

“—Aaann! Wrong answer!”

“Okaaaay,” I said, and channeled my inner radio announcer to add: “I’m a catch with a multitude of wide-ranging interests…”

“Why can’t you just give me some truth, Swan?” he said, laughing at me. He twisted my seat back and forth, so I felt like I was in a swing.

“Fine. Before I had this lame-ass job that sucked the very life out of me, I was in college. I did all the boring stuff college kids do: drinking, partying, fucking and watching movies. I was in a sorority, but I didn’t like it. I just did it so people who knew me would say “hi” in the halls. My list of interests is pretty short: I like watching people and I like reading. I thought I liked writing, but at my job, I mostly just fix other people’s writing, and do very little of my own.”

“Hey, you’re also very good at fucking,” he said.

I rolled my eyes.

“Seriously!” he said. “I didn’t have to say that! You are GREAT at fucking. I could fuck you forever and be happy…not want for anything,” he said the last part quietly and a bit sheepishly.

“Why do you bait me like this?” I asked.

“Listen, Iz,” he said, “I’m not baiting you. I’m a very sexual being. One of the reasons I stopped having sex because it can be too consuming. Now that I’m with you, I want to fuck all the time, again. It should worry me. I mean, what if you cut me off, or tell me you think I’m an annoying prick who’s just trying to fix you?

“Fuck, you know…man this is so embarrassing…I think about your skin while I’m rubbing other people’s…it’s weird! I can’t stop it. You freak me out. You know that? But, back to my point, if you weren’t so good at it, we wouldn’t be here enjoying each other’s company.”

“Really? Think I’m just a life-support system for a vag?”

He sat back. “I’m just a life support system for a cock, toots. My penis has totally controlled me most of my life. And I’m happy to commit it to your vag, for as long as she deems it worthy.

“And I’ll happily spend my non-fucking hours chatting with you, making you dinner and watching you do my laundry…as long as you’re naked when you do it.”

“But, shouldn’t I have other interests?”

“If you want,” he said. “But you just said you don’t have time. Sounds to me like you know what you need to do. You’re already cool without hobbies. Don’t feel a need to go out and find some, so you seem interesting to me. When you have more time, maybe we can find some together…or not, I don’t know. Don’t care. Do you? Really? Do you really care?”

“Fuck, no. I just feel inadequate.”

“Well, there’s your problem. You’re not inadequate…at least, not to me.”

“You are, to me,” I said, trying to sound as serious as possible.

He looked at me, but didn’t say anything. His face was falling a little, so I decided not to toy with him for too long.

“I mean, but those dryer balls—” I mimed holding a set of balls that were three times bigger.

He grabbed me off the stool again and growled into my ear, “You are digging a huge hole, Swan.”

“Yeah, I might need some help filling it.”

He put me back on the stool and I noticed his cock was hard in his jeans. I looked away, but not before he caught me looking.

He shifted and readjusted himself. Then he cleared his throat.

We both stared ahead for a minute.

“So what do you like to do?” I said, out of nowhere.

“I like simple things: being outside, running, cooking. I like to read, but I’m not a big fan of movies. I mean, I’ll watch them, but…meh.

“I used to be on the swim team in high school. I sucked at it, compared to the other guys, but it was fun.”

“I didn’t do sports at all,” I admitted.

“No?”

“Nope. I took every humanities class available. Art, drama, choir, band, yearbook, photography…I even took classes in the summer.”

“See? Interesting,” he said. “Do you have any of your photos from then?”

“They’re somewhere in my parents’ house.”

“Are you close?”

“Not in any sense of the word,” I said, barking a laugh.

“Well, you share some genes, so…”

I laughed, “Yeah, well, that’s debatable. Sometimes, I wonder if I was left in a basket on their doorstep.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t fit in!”

I wasn’t the happy homemaker my mother was, and my father wasn’t around enough to know what he was. All I knew of his interests were beer and poker.

Outside of that, he was an electrician who spent most of his time on construction sites.

“Nobody feels like they fit in with their parents…I hope…or maybe not until they’re old,” he said through a laugh.

“Well, what about your parents, then?”

“Dead.”

Bummer.

“But, it’s OK. It was a while back, so…”

“When?”

“Over a decade ago. I’ve been taking care of myself for a long time,” he said.

We sat and stared at our empty beers and what was left of the cooling pizza.

“You want me to take you home?”

“Where are you headed?” I asked pathetically.

“Really? Are you going to do that now, after all this?”

“Do what?”

“Act like I might not want to be with you,” he said, pulling me off the stool for the final time. We settled the bill and he grabbed my hand.
I watched his face, looking for some indication that he wasn’t going to hurt me. That he trusted that I wasn’t going to hurt him.

All I saw was caring. Desire. There was nothing sinister in his face.

“I know you want to be with me, but maybe you want to be alone…maybe I want to be alone,” I said as we settled in his car.

“Do you want to be alone?” he asked.

“Only if I can’t be with you,” I admitted.

“I know what you mean,” he said. “C’mon, Iz. Let’s go home.”

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