by Michael K. Smith
John let himself into the apartment quietly. He liked to slip up behind his wife sometimes and make her start by kissing her neck unexpectedly. She looked so sexy when she was startled, her eyebrows lifted and her lips parted in a small 'O'. He set his briefcase on the couch and crept into the kitchen. Empty. John glanced around in surprise. Diane was big on schedules and routines; this was Friday, her day off from the travel agency where she was a supervisor, and she nearly always was halfway into preparations for supper when he got home.
Maybe she wasn't feeling well and had lain down for a nap. John walked softly down the newly recarpeted hall and peered around the doorframe. Also empty. The comforter on their new queensized bed showed no recent impression of a recumbent body.
Walking back into the living room, he began to be concerned. The notepad by the telephone, where they were always careful to leave each other messages, was blank. Diane's jacket was in the closet, but it was pretty warm out and she probably wouldn't have taken it. But then, her new white Camry was in the numbered space next to his old Mustang down in the garage. She loved that car -- the first brand-new one she'd ever owned -- and she loved driving it. She wouldn't have taken a cab or caught a bus to go anywhere. She wasn't much for afternoon walks by herself, either.
John stood in the middle of the living room and let his eyes travel around it, searching for a sign of anything that might be wrong. A mix of new and old furniture -- they were only two years out of graduate student housing -- a couple of strange-but-interesting paintings on the walls (gifts from aspiring-artist friends, which they pretty much had to hang), . . . and Diane's purse on the floor, leaning against the end of the couch.
He quickly picked it up and peered inside. Just all the usual purse-ly stuff; god only knew how women could lug all that around on a shoulder strap. And Diane's was practically a knapsack-cum-briefcase; he really couldn't tell whether anything was missing from it or not. But at least she had come home.
John took a deep breath and made an effort to calm himself. He tended to be a worrier, as Diane was always telling him, but he was certain there was no reason to panic. Diane was an adult and could take care of herself. He made himself stop gnawing at his lip.
"Diane? Are you home, sweetheart?"
He didn't raise his voice too loudly, but he called again as he moved down the hall, glancing into the bathroom and the library/study/spare bedroom, which was still half-filled with cardboard boxes. "Diane?" He stood beside the bed, hands on his hips. "Where are you? Are we playing a game this evening?"
As he stood listening, he heard a faint *clink* from the direction of the walk-in closet, as of one wire hanger tapping another. "Diane?" He hesitated as he reached for the sliding door; why would his wife be hiding in the closet? Could it be a burglar? He slid the door open a couple inches and peered into the darkness. "Diane?"
Diane sighed and raised her head to look up into John's concerned face as he slipped in through the opening. Her thighs were cramping a little from her prolonged squat and she settled herself crosslegged on the floor, pulling a deck shoe out from beneath her butt and smoothing her skirt.
"Baby? Are you okay?" She nodded slowly and put her elbows on her knees and her chin in her hands. John hitched up the knees of his slacks and hunkered down before her. He reached out and carefully touched her cheek and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "I was getting worried about you, sweetheart."
"Sorry. . . . I had to get away someplace." He gently stroked her hair and she felt the tears begin to well up again.
John saw the glistening moisture on her cheek and settled onto his knees. "Baby, whatever it is, please tell me about it. How can I help if you don't tell me?"
She sighed. "All the new furniture, . . . the carpet, . . . my nice, new car, . . . we can't afford any of it, now, John. I got sacked today."
He let out a breath. "Diane, . . . you had me a bit scared, sweetheart. I was afraid it was something really important -- medical or something. You know." He tugged lightly at her ear lobe. "What happened, somebody didn't like their cruise?"
"No, nothing like that. I mean, it wasn't anything I did. But Mr. Gleason sold the business to a big-time national travel company and they're bringing in a bunch of their own people. Marilyn got fired, too." Marilyn was the other supervisor; she was married to a C.P.A. and Diane doubted she really needed the money. "And it is, too, important. The only reason we bought all these things was because we could live on your new salary and use all of mine to pay off the bills and the school loans, too. Now there won't be enough. And we *have* to repay the school loans first." She rubbed her eyes with the heels of her hands.
John smiled broadly at her in the dim light of the closet, trying to get her to smile back. "You know you can always find another job, baby. You're eminently employable."
"Yeah, right -- as a secretary, maybe. I did that stuff before and I hate it. I *like* the travel business. But times are tough right now and there are a lot more experienced people out of work in travel than there are places to put them. I'm never going to find another job like that -- and not at a supervisor's salary, either." She sniffled and then drew a deep, shaky breath. "I'm scared, John. I've worked steadily since the summer after I graduated from high school. And I've never been fired before, even if it wasn't my fault." John leaned forward awkwardly and tried to take her in his arms. Diane unfolded her legs so he could get closer -- she obviously wanted to be held -- but she lost her balance and grabbed his arm to keep from toppling over backward. He tried to catch himself but his hands skittered among the paperback books stacked below the clothes and he fell sprawling on top of his wife, his nose buried in her left breast.
"Ah. I understand now," he said, kissing the spot where his nose had been. Now his tongue tasted of cashmere. "All this was really just a novel way of seducing me, right?" He got his arms under him to relieve the weight on his wife.
Diane was trying not to laugh. "No, John, I'm perfectly serious. And I'll seduce you after supper, okay?"
"Okay. But let's not be in too much of a hurry with supper, sweetheart."
Awkwardly, he pushed shoes and books out of the way and settled himself on his side beside his supine wife. "It's actually kinda nice in here. Nice and dark." He set about brushing the strands of loose hair out of her eyes again. She gazed up at him with a look he had come to know very well, and which he still enjoyed every time she made him a gift of it.
She folded her arms behind her head. "John, sometimes you're a very silly man, you know that?"
"Hey, I'm not the one lying on my back in the closet." He looked around, peering under the hems of things. "Kind of an interesting angle on things from down here, though. Maybe we ought to try crawling all over the apartment; what do you think?" He brushed bits of lint from her chin while she rolled her eyes at him.
"Make that 'profoundly silly'." She hooked her arms around his neck and pulled him closer. "And I love you very much, Silly John." She kissed him on the tip of the nose, which he wrinkled as he always did, pretending it tickled. Then he kissed her cheekbone, and she closed her eyes and smiled. He kissed her forehead, and she stroked the short hair at the back of his neck. He kissed her eyelid and her shoulders hunched a little, and she shivered and took a deep breath.
She pulled him closer and brushed her nose against his ear, and it was his turn to shiver. "I wish we could just stay in here and hide from the world," she whispered. "It's so hard sometimes, trying to be an adult. I just want to stay here in the dark with you, John."
His left hand was stroking her hair and his right was curved loosely over her waist. Diane bent one knee, which made her skirt slide up her thigh with a whisper. His lips brushed hers, back and forth, and she could hear her own heart rate increase. Then his hand moved down to stroke her leg, traveling lightly to the top of her thigh-highs and beyond. Diane felt herself begin to float off the floor. "John. . ." she breathed.
His lips brushed her chin, then moved slowly down her throat, leaving tiny moistnesses across her Adam's apple, down to the base of her throat. She thought she must be levitating a foot off the floor by now.
"Don't you understand yet, even after all this time, just how much I love you?" he asked softly. "Furniture and cars, . . . that's just stuff. Don't worry about stuff, baby. Everything that's really important to me is right here in this closet: You, and my Cubs jacket."
And suddenly his tongue was painting a fiery stripe down her throat and across her collarbone. She gasped. And she waited. And she felt the tiny pearl buttons of her sweater parting, the cashmere being divided, the release of tension around her chest as the front catch of her bra gave way to John's practiced fingers. She could feel the warmth of his gaze on her breasts as her nipples uncrinkled and extended. She kept her eyes closed tight.
John leaned on his elbow for a moment, appreciating all over again just how lucky he was, falling in love with a beautiful woman who actually loved him back. He watched as his wife unconsciously arched her back, willing him to continue. Her arms were extended above her head, her fingers twisting a sandal strap. He smiled and bent over her, exhaling warm breath across her nipples. Diane's lips parted, her tongue touching her upper lip in a way that he always found arousing.
He began making lazy tongue-rings around the upper elevation of each breast, each circuit smaller than the last, until finally his tongue dragged across each nipple in turn. Diane gasped and shifted her hips. "John, ohhhh, John, . . ." Her voice was becoming husky, plaintive. He moved back to kiss her lips again, and covered her breast with his free hand. She pressed against his mouth, and against his hand.
Her hands slid down and fumbled at her skirt, and he heard her panties being drawn down the smooth, loving flesh. She managed to get them off without sitting up, without even opening her eyes, and then her fingers were searching out his belt buckle and the button at the front of his slacks.
John shifted position quickly, pushing his trousers and his briefs down past his shins and ending on his knees in the warm space between her thighs. His erection was becoming demanding and Diane moaned as her fingers reached to stroke him. He crouched over her, pausing only to tuck his necktie inside his shirt, and leaned forward as she gradually steered him into herself. It amazed him, when he thought about it, that no matter how many times they made love, his cock always reacted the same way when he entered her, sending out electric signals of astonished pleasure. He'd read somewhere that the palm of the hand had more nerve endings than anywhere else on the surface of the human body -- but he knew better.
He pushed in slowly as deep as he could, then drew out just as slowly, torturing both of them. Diane made noises deep in her throat and tried to lift her hips up to meet him. He slid his palms under her hips and she immediately hooked her ankles behind the small of his back, and her arms around his neck once more. He leaned forward a little and kissed her again as his cock seemed to extend itself within her. Her tongue slid into his mouth, gliding across the front of his teeth, and he felt her muscles tighten for a moment around his cock.
"Fuck me, John. . . ." she whispered. That aroused him, too, as it always did; his wife was an articulate speaker and ordinarily disliked vulgarity. He ground his hips against her as he pushed in again and she tucked her chin down and curled herself up to him. Her inability to keep still when she was aroused was one of the most exciting ingredients of their lovemaking.
He began to increase the pace and Diane's moans and gasps came more quickly, too. Sometimes, when they settled themselves for an evening of sex, John would try to orchestrate the experience. He would slow himself before he reached the point of no return, prolonging their enjoyment, taking them up the slope and then partway down again. But not this time, not here. He was overcome with love and lust, excited by the unusual venue. He wanted her and there would be no gameplaying. And he understood that she needed this as much as he wanted it.
He held his breath as he felt the forces of eruption beginning to gather in his groin, and redoubled his pace. And Diane finally opened her eyes, staring up directly into his with a demanding gaze that made his balls tingle. And they kept looking into each other's eyes as he clutched her fiercely and emptied himself into the depths of her. Her pupils had shrunk to pinpoints, even in the darkened closet, and he felt himself totally lost in the gray expanse of her eyes.
His cock twitched with aftershocks as he whispered, "I love you, Diane."
She studied his face for a moment. "I love you, John."
He resettled himself on top of his wife and stroked her cheek as he studied her. Her hair was in disarray and her sweater was wadded up beneath one shoulder. Her eyes were half-closed again and her lips curved in a soft smile. She was unbearably lovely.
"Sweetheart," he began, not wanting to disturb the moment, "please don't worry about the money. We'll manage it until you find something, okay? We're a lot better off than when I was in grad school. And I should be getting a significant raise in a couple of months. We'll manage, I promise. But I don't want you to worry."
Diane hitched her hips slightly and sighed, feeling his cock beginning to shrink within her. This time afterward, with John still inside her, holding her in his arms, was almost better than the sex itself.
"How could I worry when I have you?" she replied, kissing him lightly on the cheek. "I know we're pretty well off, considering. I know we'll be okay. I'll put 'laid off owing to sale of the company' on my resume. And I can type insurance reports and stuff until I find something more interesting." She put her arms around his neck and held on tightly. "As long as I have you, everything's okay."
The rolls of Christmas wrapping paper stood
propped in a corner. The box of leftover wedding gifts -- teak napkin rings
and an extra cookie jar -- sat on the upper shelf. The old flannel shirt
that had slipped off its hanger lay unnoticed among the summer shoes. Directly
overhead, a painted thread-spool dangled at the end of the light cord.
And Diane and John whispered their plans to each other, arms and legs entwined,
dancing in the darkness.
--- END ---
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Copyright 1998 by Michael K. Smith. Copies
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rights are reserved.