Chapter Six; Part Three
“fine. well, no, not really. i left work early today because i couldn’t stand being there.” I fill him in on my day, and he’s properly sympathetic to my woes. He tells me about the house shoot he did today and how his client was a pain in the ass. Mrs. Decker made him move a lamp five times before ordering him to put it back where it first was. Then, she was unhappy with his prices, even though she had agreed to them before he’d even started. Then, she tried to seduce him in lieu of payment, and he had a difficult time getting her to take no for an answer. As she’s in her sixties, gaunt, and wouldn’t know a smile if it hit her in the face, he wanted nothing to do with her.
“have you ever slept with a client?” I ask curiously. “no judgement—just wondering.”
“I did. Once. It did not end well.” With that, Rembrandt tells me the story.
“So, you’re a photographer.” The curvy brunette placed a red-tipped talon on Rembrandt’s arm and trails it down to his hand. She pressed her boobs against his arm while snaking her arm around his waist. Rembrandt was glad he worked from home because he wouldn’t want to have to deal with this in an office full of people. “I’m getting married in two months, and I’m interviewing photographers.”
“Is this part of the interview process?” Rembrandt asked, arching his eyebrow at her.
“For you, yes it is.” The brunette planted a kiss on Rembrandt’s lips, slipping her tongue into his mouth.
“Wait a minute. She hit on you while asking you to be her wedding photographer?” We’ve switched to phone, which makes talking about the story much easier.
“What are you doing?” Rembrandt’s voice was ragged, and his cock was rock hard.
“I’m trying to get in your pants. Is it working?” Kimberly—by now he knew her name—asked, her voice husky. “You’re going to be my last fling before my wedding. I think I’ve earned it.”
“Kimberly, I don’t think this is a good idea.” Rembrandt pulled back, but not completely. He had recently broken up with his girlfriend, and he hadn’t felt a tit in two months.
“I know it’s not, but I don’t care,” Kimberly said bluntly. She grabbed Rembrandt’s hand and placed it on her tit under her tank top. Rembrandt swallowed hard at the warm flesh under his fingers. It was not augmented, which was just how he liked it. He instinctively squeezed, and he shivered when her nipple tightened under his touch.
“Fuck it.” Rembrandt grabbed her face in both his hands and kissed her hard.
“Meow?” Ginger rubbed against Rembrandt’s legs while simultaneously glaring at Kimberly.
“Not now, Ginger.” Rembrandt brushed Ginger aside and returned to kissing Kimberly. He guided her towards his bedroom, closing the door on Ginger’s face. “Come here.” Rembrandt gently pushed Kimberly on the bed and climbed on top of her.
“Fuck me,” Kimberly gasped, pulling Rembrandt down hard. After they kissed for several minutes, Rembrandt rolled off Kimberly so she could sit up and pull off her top. Her tits bounced out, and Rembrandt was all over them in a hot second. He sucked one into his mouth and was gratified to hear Kimberly’s moans. “Oh, god. I need this so bad.” They both quickly disrobed before continuing to make out. Rembrandt went down on Kimberly, eating her out until she came. She returned the favor, but he stopped her before he came because he knew he would be one and done. “Do you have any condoms?”
“Yes.” Rembrandt opened the drawer in his nightstand and pulled out a condom. He rolled it on his cock, which was harder than it had been in quite some time. Kimberly lay back on the bed and spread her legs. Rembrandt was between them and in her in a flash.
“So this was less than a year ago?” I ask, cutting into his recitation. I’m having a hard time keeping the timeline straight, so I need to clarify the details.
“Yeah. It was about six months ago.” Rembrandt’s voice is filled with guilt, and he continues his story.
“That was fantastic,” Kimberly said once it was over. She and Rembrandt were lying side by side on the bed, sated and damp with perspiration.
“It certainly was,” Rembrandt croaked, his voice hoarse. “So, do I have the job?”
“You certainly have something,” Kimberly said, rolling towards Rembrandt and biting his shoulder. She hesitated for a second, then added, “I’d like to do it again.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Rembrandt said, removing Kimberly’s hand from his arm. “I mean, this wasn’t a good idea, but that really wouldn’t be.”
“I don’t want to marry Brian,” Kimberly blurted out. “Our parents have been friends forever, and they’re the ones pushing for this marriage. I don’t think Brian wants to marry me, either.”
“I’m sorry,” Rembrandt said, not knowing what else to say. He’d just met this woman forty-five minutes ago, and now she was pouring her heart out to him.
“My friends all think I’m the luckiest girl in the world because he’s rich, handsome, and a really good guy. I think he’s gay.” Kimberly burst into tears, and Rembrandt patted her awkwardly on the shoulder. He was already regretting his involvement with her, but he couldn’t think of a tactful way to get rid of her.
“Would you like some water?” Rembrandt asked. Suddenly, the only thing he wanted was to get away from her, but he hid that as well.
“Yes, please.” Kimberly was openly blubbering, and Rembrandt handed her a tissue before making a hasty retreat. He went into the bathroom, Ginger hot on his heels. He took a few seconds to pet her in order to smooth her ruffled feathers before returning to the bedroom. Kimberly was curled up in a ball, and she reluctantly accepted the glass of water from Rembrandt. She sipped at it, her face stained with tears. Rembrandt sat with her and comforted her for a good hour before she finally felt strong enough to sit up.
“Well, I have another client coming by in fifteen minutes,” Rembrandt said, trying to nudge Kimberly out the door. Any attraction he had felt for her was completely gone, and now he only felt impatience.
“I should go. You’ve been so kind,” Kimberly murmured, but she made no move to get up. It took five minutes of cajoling by Rembrandt to get her in her clothes and out the door.
“Let me guess. She didn’t go quietly into the night,” I say drily, snuggling back onto the couch. Onyx and Jet appear, cuddling in my lap.
“You got that right.”
For the next two weeks, Rembrandt had to dodge calls, texts, and emails from Kimberly—each becoming increasingly frantic to talk to him. The first few just reminisced about their time together. The next told him she had broken things off with her fiancé, so could he please call her? The last few accused him of taking advantage of her and that she would make him sorry. Rembrandt didn’t answer any of them, but he read each one out of guilt.
“What happened after that?” I have a sinking feeling in my gut that this isn’t the end of the story.
“I didn’t hear from her, and I was relieved. A few days later, I read in the Strib that she tried to kill herself. She took a whole bottle of pills; I don’t remember what kind. Fortunately for her, her ex-fiancé had dropped by her place to talk to her—I think he wanted to get back together with her.” Rembrandt’s voice was somber, and I can tell he isn’t over it yet.
“I’m sorry, Rembrandt. That’s a horrible thing to have to deal with.” My heart hurts at the pain in Rembrandt’s voice. What a terrible burden to have to bear, and it’s clear he still harbors some shame for it.
“It is. I never want to experience that again,” Rembrandt says.
“At least she wasn’t really a client,” I say, searching for something comforting to say.
“Silver lining,” Rembrandt replies. “Anyway, what about you? Any recent dating horrors of your own?” I wince at his palpable hit, though he can’t see me.
“You could say that. I recently dumped my girlfriend of five years.” I pause, waiting for an indication of disgust or discomfort. I receive neither. “I caught her in bed with her dog walker.”
“Damn. That’s rough.” A pause. “What did you do?”
“Cussed them out but good. And, I slapped Tessa in the face. My ex. I’m not proud of it, but there you go.” I flush as I think about it, getting pissed off all over again. I hate being made a fool of, and she had done it but good.
“When was this?”
“Three weeks ago. But to tell you the truth, it was over months before then.” I sigh as a band presses around my heart. When will I be able to talk about her without hurting so? Suddenly, I’m not sure I want to go out with him tomorrow night. Not because I don’t like him, I do, but dating at my age seems like it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
“Let’s talk about something more cheery. What kind of movies do you like?” Rembrandt’s voice is bright, but I can hear the heaviness underneath it.
“I have to go. I’m not feeling very good. I’ll see you tomorrow.” I hate how curt my voice sounds, but there’s nothing I can do about it.
“OK, Megan. I’m looking forward to it,” Rembrandt says gently.
“Me, too.” My voice is still stiff, but at least the words come out fairly naturally. “I really am, Rembrandt. I just…can’t right now.” I hang up, my heart heavy. This is the worst time for me to try to date someone, but is there really going to be a better time? Oh, hell. I’m just rationalizing it to myself because I really, really want to fuck someone. Rembrandt is my type as such that I have one, and I wouldn’t mind riding him. However, I don’t want to be another Kimberly to him, and I don’t want to get hung up on him if he’s not serious about dating me. I know I’m placing too much value on this one date, but it’s been years since I’ve done anything like it. Even before Tessa, I never was much of a dater. I tended to fall into relationships rather than seek them out, which means this could end up the same way if I allow it to happen.
“Mew, mew, mew,” Onyx trills at me, suddenly awake. She rubs her face against mine, and I cuddle her to me. I need her fuzzy comfort most desperately, and she’s only too happy to provide it to me. I kiss her face several times before setting her besides me. She flops across Jet’s back, and he bears it like a trooper. He simply flattens out to allow Onyx the broadest support possible. He flattens his ears back, too, so he looks like a rug rather than a cat. Onyx stretches out on him, purring as she does. She flattens out, too, which makes them look ridiculously cute together.
“You guys. I love you.” I stroke both of their heads, one after the other. They both tuck into my hand and purr. I close my eyes, intending only to doze a bit. I awake with a start hours later, unsure of where I am or even who I am. Onyx and Jet meow in protest as I sit up straight. I soothe them as much as I can, but I can’t sleep any longer. I glance at the clock on my nightstand. It’s three in the morning, and I slip out of bed. I go outside to smoke, brooding about Julianna. I remember how we fucked for two days straight the day we meet. She was the most exciting lover I’d ever had, and I doubt I’d ever have one even half again as good. In a way, I can’t blame Tessa for cheating on me because I was never fully hers. There is a tiny portion of my heart wrapped in steel bands that will always belong to Julianna, no matter who I date or what I do with my life.
Why did we break up? She felt stifled by me, if I’m to be honest with myself. I lost my mind over her, and I called her up to ten times a day. I wanted to spend all my time with her, and I couldn’t understand when she didn’t feel the same way. We dated—well, fucked, really. That’s all it really was. Lust—for three weeks Then, she started pulling away. A cancelled date here, an unanswered call there, and I reacted as I always did—I withdrew. Completely. I stopped calling her, and I didn’t answer when she called me. This went on for three days before I came home to her on my doorstep.
“Megan. What the hell is going on?” Julianna stared at me as I walked up to the door.
“Let me by.” I pushed at her, but she refused to budge. She might have been tiny, but she had the will and constitution of a horse when she got a bee in her bonnet.
“No. We need to talk about this.” Julianna folded her arms across her chest, and I sighed in irritation. I knew she wouldn’t go away before we had it out, so I gave in with ill-grace.
“Come in.” I opened the door after she moved aside and ushered her into my house. “Do you want anything to drink?” I grimaced as Onyx and Jet tore straight at her. They adored her, and it’s one reason I warmed up to Julianna so quickly. That and how flexible she was with her tongue.
“Hey, gang. How’re we doing?” Julianna scooped Onyx up in her arms and crooned at her while Jet rubbed his face against her shins. “Who’s a good girl?” Julianna crooned at Onyx, who chirped merrily in response. “And who’s a good boy?” Julianna stooped with Onyx in her arm and stroked Jet between the eyes. He closed said eyes and swayed in delight. Some of my anger at Julianna dissipated as I watched her cavort with my cats.
“Did you want anything to drink?” I asked Julianna after a few minutes.
“No, I’m fine.” Julianna placed Onyx on the floor carefully before following me into the kitchen. I gave the cats their treats before opening a Diet Coke and gulping half of it. I needed all the courage I could get if I was going to soldier through this conversation.
“Let’s go into the living room.” I walked into the living room, my voice brusque. Julianna, Onyx, and Jet followed behind me, the latter two trilling up at Julianna. Julianna sat on the couch, and Onyx immediately jumped up beside her. Onyx climbed into Julianna’s lap, curled up in a ball, and promptly fell asleep. I sat down next to her, leaving a healthy amount of space between us. I was a little disgruntled at how easily my cats have transferred their affection to Julianna. Jet must have suspected it because he clamored into my lap and rubbed his face against my belly. He looked up at me and slowly blinked once. I blinked back, my heart calmed a bit. I turned to look at Julianna, who was fussing over Onyx. I cleared my throat impatiently, and she finally looked up.
“Why are you avoiding me, Megan? I thought we were friends.” There was hurt in Julianna’s voice, but all I could think about was the word ‘friends’. Friends. When I wanted to be more. I wanted to be lovers. I wanted to be partners for life. I didn’t want to be ‘friends’. How did I tell her this? Should I even bother? I was mortified that I had been so stupid as to believe that I was something special to her, something more than just ‘friends’.
“Get out,” I said softly, the anger flaring in my heart. “I don’t want anything to do with you.” Julianna didn’t move, nor did she say anything for several seconds. She pet Onyx on the head, methodically, as she stared steadily at me. When she finally spoke, there was something in her voice I hadn’t heard from her ever since.
“I’m sorry,” she said, her voice contrite. “I didn’t realize how you felt. I can be an ass sometimes.”
“Yes, you can.” I glared at her, my eyes glittering with unshed tears.
“Look. I like you a lot. I think we can be tremendous friends. Just, not with benefits.” Julianna’s voice was tentative, also quite unlike her. “Sex can really fuck things up, you know?”
“I know.” I sighed, choking back my tears. I had a decision to make, but I didn’t want to do it. I could either take the crumbs Julianna was offering me and be ‘friends’, or I could cut her completely out of my life and have nothing. I had never felt as alive as I had when I was with her, and it wasn’t just the sex. I decided that having three-fourths of her was better than nothing, and we became fast friends after that.