Chapter Ten; Part One
“Taiji is not just of the body, it’s also of the mind.” Lydia is lecturing on the principles of taiji, which I am sorry to say, I tune out. I’ve heard it a million times, and my mind is fractured today, anyway. I try to focus, but my thoughts keep drifting towards Julianna’s murder. Every time I put it to the back of my mind, it rushes forward again. I take several smooth, slow breaths as I try to remain on an even-keel emotionally. When I check back in, Lydia has moved on to the first section of the Solo Form. I hurriedly catch up to my classmates, not wanting to be caught daydreaming. After we finish the first section, it’s break time. I slump in a chair and drink water from my iced water bottle. I don’t want to talk to anyone, and most of my classmates seem to have gotten the memo. One of them, however, Betty Bowser (really, that’s her name), blithely ignores the strong ‘stay away from me’ vibes and sits next to me.
“That was a good workout!” She wipes her face with a towel, though I don’t see any sweat there. She’s wearing a fuchsia-colored sweatshirt that says ‘Girl Power’ and matching sweats. She even has a matching headband, for fuck’s sake. Of course, she’s wearing a full face of makeup and brand new Nikes, also fuchsia. Her fingernails match as well, and I’m getting nauseated just looking at her.
“Yes. It was a good first section.” I keep my tone brusque, hoping she’ll take the hint. She doesn’t.
“Your form looks so much better than mine. I don’t think I’ll ever be as good!” Betty fluffs out her (dyed) blond curls and cuts her eyes at our classmate, Kirk, who is chatting with Lydia. Kirk is barely twenty, but an ex-baseball player who was slated to go pro until he tore his ACL three times in two seasons. He has dark brown hair and warm hazel eyes, and I can understand Betty’s attraction to him. She’s almost twice his age, however, which is Mrs. Robinson territory in my book. Anyone under thirty looks like an unformed blob in my eyes. They can be physically attractive, but there’s no there there. I like my partners to have some mileage on their tires and to show that they’ve been on a journey.
“You’ve only been studying a year, Betty. I have six years on you and countless hours of practice. You’ll get there.” My tone is perfunctory. The last thing I want to do is hold this neurotic woman’s hand.
“But your form is so fluid. Mine is herky jerky!” Betty is still looking at Kirk who is blissfully unaware of her scrutiny.
“It’s because you have more information than your brain knows what to do with,” I say crisply. It’s something I’ve heard Lydia say countless times. With newbies, you can only teach them one thing at a time, namely, the postures. If you try to correct them on every little thing they’re doing wrong, they’ll try to fix all the things at once, which means they won’t be able to concentrate on anything at all. So, it’s best not to mention form problems unless they’re actively hurtful to the person practicing. Unfortunately, that means that bad habits can become entrenched. I’ve had to work on not pushing my knees too far forward because I didn’t realize it was something I was doing for years. It’s a pain in the ass, and sometimes, I despair I’ll ever be able to correct it.
“You’re saying I’m stupid?” Betty looks at me, anger in her cornflower blue eyes.
“No. It has nothing to do with intelligence.” My voice is sharp. I’m at the end of my rope with Betty, though I’m trying to keep my temper. “We all think we’re good at multitasking, but we’re really not. That’s why it’s important to focus on one thing at a time. If you want to know more, ask Lydia.”
“But it’s so hard! I just feel like….” Betty blathers on, but I tune her out. She’s the type of person who likes to complain about things, but doesn’t want to do anything to fix the problem. She gets enjoyment out of complaining, which is a big turnoff for me. In my twenties, I would have tried to help her, convinced that I had the right words to change her. My thirties beat that out of me, as has dating Tessa. She’s the same person when I dumped her ass that she was when I first started dating her, despite my valiant attempts to improve her. How arrogant is that of me, anyway? Thinking I know what’s best for someone else. “Don’t you think?” Betty asks, looking at me expectantly.
“Right. Yes,” I say immediately. I don’t know what the hell she’d been saying, but it doesn’t matter. I learned a little trick when I was a kid. If you’re caught not listening, just agree with whatever the other person says. It works every time. It also worked with my mother when she was deep in her cups. She’d ramble on about how my father had wronged her for hours. I used to try to answer her, but it was never any use. By the time I was seven, I learned to ‘Yes, Mom’ and ‘No, Mom’ her with the best of them. Fortunately, she never got violent when she got drunk, but she oftentimes got maudlin. She’d tell me how much she loved me and how her life was worthless without me (and my sisters). She would hug me and weep, and I felt so helpless to do anything for her. This would go on for hours until I was ready to collapse. She usually passed out after three hours, and then I’d be free for the rest of the evening. It was exhausting, and it’s something I struggle against falling into every day.
“I’m glad we had this convo!” Betty smiles insincerely at me and then bounces over to Kirk, who’s still in earnest conversation with Lydia. I watch in amusement as Betty drapes her arm around Kirk’s shoulders. He shrugs off her arm and moves several inches away from her. Undaunted, she moves closer. Lydia steps between Kirk and Betty and says something sharp to Betty. Betty gasps before scurrying away and out the room. Lydia pats Kirk on the arm before striding after Betty. I’m pretty sure I know what just happened. Lydia takes her job seriously, and she’s not going to let anyone sexually harass anyone else in her classes. She wants everyone to feel comfortable, which means zero tolerance for unwanted advances. She’d had to warn Betty once before, but apparently, Betty had forgotten. Why do human emotions have to be so messy? Five minutes pass by. Then ten. Lydia and Betty come back in, Lydia’s arm is around Betty’s shoulder, and Betty looks as if she’s been crying.
“OK, everyone. Megan will lead the advanced students with the Sword Form, and in three minutes, I’ll teach the new students the next posture, Four Count Single Whip, which is a truncated form of a posture you already know. Then, if we have time, High Pat on Horse. Is this OK with you, Megan?”
“Sure.” I groan inside, I’m in no shape to lead the Sword Form, but at least she didn’t ask me to tutor. There’s no way I could do that. The Sword Form, I can do that because there are others who know the whole form, so it’s not all on me. They position themselves in the corners as I take the front. “I will say the posture names, but I’m going to forego the counting. The Sword Form is more free-flowing than the Solo Form, anyway.” Taking a deep breath, I begin. I focus on the Sword Form to the best of my abilities. My mind keeps wandering, but I pull it back whenever it goes too far. The Sword Form is natural to me, so I can manage it with only half my mind, but I don’t like fucking up when I’m leading others. Lydia tells me all the time it’s fine, that it makes the newer students feel better to see the ‘expert’ make a mistake, but I still don’t like it.
I get through the whole form without making any major mistakes. I did call a few positions by my own names rather than the actual ones, such as, “Dragonfly Doing the Do” instead of “Dragonfly Sips at the Dew”, but that’s pretty minor considering the circumstances. One of my classmates, Tamara, looks disgruntled once we’re done. She is not fond of the Sword Form and prefers the Solo Form. She knows about half the Sword Form and is dragging her heels in learning the rest. She doesn’t like to do what she’s not good at, so it’s a hell of a time getting her to do the second half of the form. She cranes her neck to watch the teacher, regardless of where she is on the floor. No matter how many times Lydia tells her not to do that, she still does. I don’t even bother because I’m not the teacher and it’s not my job. I sit down and drink my water, drained from the exertion. We still have fifteen minutes left, and I’m exhausted. Lydia is done with the newbies after the next five minutes.
“That was great!” Betty says with enthusiasm as she sits next to me. She mops her face with her towel again, only this time, there’s actual sweat. “I love Cloud Hands, don’t you?”
“Not particularly,” I say, my voice dry.
“What? How can that be? It’s such a flowy posture!” Betty opens her eyes wide, even though I’ve told her this several times before.
“I just don’t like it. I prefer the kick section.” That’s a bit mean of me as she’s not gotten to the kick section yet, but I don’t care. I just want her to leave me alone, and yet, she refuses to take the hint. For whatever reason, she had latched on to me after a few weeks of joining our classes, and she hasn’t let up ever since. I know she’s the kind of woman who needs to suck the lifeblood out of someone, and I refuse to let it be me.
“You just like difficult things!” Betty laughs, but there’s a tinge of malice in her voice. I choose to take her words at face value.
“Yep. I certainly like a challenge.” I nod my head before pulling out my phone. I pretend to surf the internet because I don’t want to talk to Betty any longer. I have tried to do the Minnesota Nice thing, but no more. I want her to leave me the fuck alone, and I’m going to do my level best to make her do it, albeit passive-aggressively.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get the hang of the kick section! I fall over every time we do it.” Betty is still talking, despite my best efforts. There are ugly words hovering on my lips, and if I voice them, I can never take them back. I take a slow, smooth breath, then I respond.
“You haven’t learned it yet. It’s difficult, yes, but you can do it.” That’s as supportive as I can be, and I congratulate myself for not biting her head off.
“Maybe you can teach it to me!” Betty chirps.
“Lydia would be better for that.” I get up and put my phone away. “Excuse me. I need to go to the bathroom.” I walk away without looking back. I know Betty is probably mad at me, but I don’t care. She should have taken the hint that I didn’t want to talk to her, but she’s the type of woman who ignores all but the most vocal no. I make a detour for the bathroom because I actually do have to pee, then I wash my face and slowly return to the room. By now, class is over, and most of my classmates have left, including Betty. I talk to Lydia for several minutes before leaving. I stop at the co-op on the way home to stock up on groceries, then I take a quick shower when I get home after giving my cats some treats. Then, I do my ritual stand in front of the closet naked and wonder what I should wear for my date with Rembrandt tonight. It doesn’t really matter that much because my clothes won’t be staying on for long, but I do like to look nice once in a while. Even if it’s only for a short period of time.
I try on three or four outfits in rapid succession, but I am not feeling it. I pull on a slinky black dress that is a bit snug across the tits and the stomach, but not in a bad way. I look curvy and sexy, and I’m ready to get fucked. I add dangly silver earrings to my lobes and declare myself ready. I still have an hour before I need to go, so I check my blog. There are still angry comments waiting to be approved, and I delete most of them. There are a few that are worthy of posting, so I do. I surf a bit just to pass the time, and then I’m on my way to Rembrandt’s house. I’m unaccountably nervous on my way. Why? Because this is the second date, and we’ve fucked already. First dates are unpredictable, but second dates? Not as much. I know I’m going to eat well. I know I’m going to get thoroughly fucked. He’s probably going to want me to stay the night. I probably won’t do that. How many dates before he makes noises about moving in? I know people like to joke about dykes moving in together on the first date, but dudes are oftentimes more persistent about wanting to move in, especially guys over the age of thirty.
“Megan. You look fantastic.” Rembrandt opens the door, a big smile on his face. He’s wearing brown khakis and a black button-down. His hair is slicked back, and he smells faintly of pine. I want to tell him to skip dinner and head straight to dessert, but something smells really good.
“So do you.” I place a hand on Rembrandt’s arm and squeeze.
“My lasagna!” Rembrandt lets me in, and Ginger happily bops me on the shin. I reach down to scruff her on the back of the neck, and she mews her ecstasy. Rembrandt races to the kitchen with me and Ginger following at a more sedate pace after I remove my shoes. There’s a bag of Temptations on the counter, so I give her a few. She makes them disappear in a blink before meowing for more. I give her two more, much to her delight. Rembrandt peeks in the oven before turning it off. He shoos me to the dining room over my protests that I can help. He’s set the table lavishly with fine china and crystal water carafes. I sit at the table, glancing at the room around me. There are photos of his family on the wall, and I’m pretty sure he took them himself. In the corner, there is a small picture of the family, but from twenty years ago. The boys are smiling, but the parents are grim-faced. The mom is looking at the kids, and the father is looking off to the side.
“They went through some rocky years,” Rembrandt says, startling me out of my brown study. “My parents. But, they were pretty happy in the last decade of their marriage. Content, anyway.” He has a glass pan full of lasagna, and it smells delicious. He sets it on a coaster or whatever you call it for hot plates instead of glasses, and I eye it appreciatively.
“Content is nothing to sneeze at,” I say, sitting at the table. “My father left us when I was really young. My mother never got over it.”
“That’s rough. I’ll be right back.” Rembrandt leaves, and I study his photos some more. The ones with the boys in their teens show the parents as slightly happier. By the time the boys are in their twenties, the parents are smiling at each other with real affection. “Garlic bread! Also, a lightly-tossed salad.” Rembrandt sets down both, and I’m ready to dig in. “Be right back.” He scurries out again, and I smile. I could get used to being treated like a queen. He’s back in a few minutes with a bottle of red in one hand and a carafe of ice water in the other.
“I don’t drink,” I say, smiling apologetically at him. It’s always awkward to mention that, but I prefer getting it out of the way early on.
“No prob. That just leaves more for me!” Rembrandt’s smile is genuine, so I relax a fraction. He pours wine for himself and water for me. He sits down and gestures to me. “Dig in! The lasagna is my mom’s recipe.” I pop a Lactaid because I know there’s going to be a lot of dairy involved in this meal. I take a bite of the lasagna and swoon. The sauce is flavorful and the pasta is hearty, but not heavy. It’s possibly the best lasagna I’ve eaten in my life.
“This is delicious!” I say, beaming at Rembrandt.
“It’s one of my favorites,” Rembrandt says, eating his fair share of the lasagna as well. “My mom made it every Sunday after church. Catholic,” he says in response to my questioning look. “We’ve never been that devout, thought. It’s more cultural than religious.
“I haven’t been to church of any kind much. My family wasn’t religious at all.” I eat more lasagna, suddenly ravenous. Conversation dwindles as we eat everything in sight. The salad is refreshing between bites of lasagna, and it’s dressed with a raspberry vinaigrette. It has circles of mozzarella cheese, which might be overkill, but I don’t care. There’s a slice of tomato on top of each cheese circle, and the whole thing is just fantastic. The garlic bread is light and buttery, redolent with garlic. No cheese on it, which is probably for the best as I’m already hitting my limits of dairy for the day, and I’m not done eating lasagna yet. We eat for several more minutes, but there’s still a lot of lasagna left by the time we start slowing down.
“More garlic bread?” Rembrandt asks, tilting his head to the side.
“I really shouldn’t,” I say, patting my bulging stomach. “But, I’ll have half a slice.”
“I’ll have the other half!” Rembrandt cuts a generous hunk before slicing it in two. He hands one half to me before biting into his piece. I finish it in three bites, much to the protest of my stomach.
“I think I’m done,” I say, wiping my lips with a napkin.
“There’s tiramisu! And espresso.” Rembrandt jumps up again and goes into the kitchen. I take a sip of water to clear out my palate and wait expectantly for dessert. “Here we go.” Rembrandt sets a parfait cup filled with tiramisu in front of me as well as a tiny cup of espresso. I take my time with the tiramisu, enjoying every bite. I intersperse the bites with sips of espresso, and I’m finished with my dessert before I know it. I want more, but I’m about to burst.
“That was wonderful, Rembrandt.” I burp discreetly into my napkin. “You have many hidden talents.”
“You don’t know the half of it.” Rembrandt smiles a wicked smile, sending a tingle straight to my pussy.
“I’d like to find out,” I say, my voice heavy with lust. We take the dishes to the kitchen, hurriedly stacking them in the sink. Ginger mews at us, so Rembrandt gives her a chunk of salmon. As she’s happily chomping on it, we slip away to the bedroom.
“Come here.” Rembrandt grabs me by the waist and pulls me to him. I take his head into my hands and kiss him hard on the lips. He undoes my bra from underneath my dress, and I shrug out of it. He slips his hands under my dress and squeezes my tits.
“Yes, baby,” I moan, my head falling backwards. He pinches my nipples, making me gasp. I claw at his shirt until he takes it off. I bite his pec, savoring the mixture of sweat and earthy maleness. He takes off my shirt as well, and I mash my tits against his chest. He is rock hard, and his cock is digging into my abdomen. I’m naked, and we keep kissing as he struggles to take off his pant. I reluctantly break away from him so he can take them off. I’m not wearing underwear, as usual, so I’m naked while he still has his pants and boxer-briefs on. “This doesn’t seem fair. You still have clothes on.”
“I can change that.” Rembrandt rips off his khakis followed by his boxer-briefs. His cock springs out, making me giggle at how hard he is.
“Boing!” I push down his cock, watching in amusement as it pops back up again.
“Funny girl,” Rembrandt smirks before slipping three fingers up me.
“God!” I slap the wall behind me as he tries a fourth. I wince. “Too much, Rembrandt.”
“Damn, you’re tight, girl.” Rembrandt withdraws the fourth finger and concentrates on using three. He fastens his lips to my neck as he pumps me, and I come after mere minutes. Without waiting, he sinks to his knees and starts tonguing me. I can’t take it, and I come again. I pull Rembrandt up by the hair and kiss him, tasting myself on his lips. I sink to my knees and take his cock in my mouth. It grows harder, if that’s even possible. I suck him for several minutes before he pulls me off him. We fall onto the bed, our bodies entwined. He reaches over to his nightstand and pulls out a condom. He pulls it on, and I push him back. I climb onto his cock and slowly slide down. It feels even bigger than last time, if possible.
“God.” I sit down hard, relishing the way he fills me. I grind against his pelvis, wanting to feel every inch of his cock. He shoves it in as hard as he can, even though his position is limited. I press my body against his, feeling his cock shift inside of me. I have never wanted anyone more than I do him in this moment. I want my orgasm, but I also want to prolong this feeling. Rembrandt takes matter into his own hands by rolling us over and straddling me. He plunges his cock deep into me several times in rapid succession. I come in less than a minute, convulsing as I do. As I’m cresting, Rembrandt comes himself, clutching me as he does. Once he’s done, he collapses on top of me, exhausted. I’m pretty spent myself, but I have just enough energy to push at his shoulder. He rolls off of me and flops onto the bed.
“Next time, we should try to make it to the bed first,” Rembrandt groans, his limbs flopping by his side. “I’m too old for this standing up shit.”
“You’re too old? You’re twelve years younger than I am!” I laugh, propping myself up on my hand. I look down at Rembrandt who has that ‘I’ve been thoroughly fucked’ grin on his face. I sneak a peek at his cock. It’s flaccid. I restrain a sigh because it’s not his fault he can’t get it up again right now. If there is a god, s/he has a cruel sense of humor.
“Must sleep….” Rembrandt is out. I hear Ginger scratching at the door, so I get up to let her in.
“Meow!” She’s indignant as she chirps up at me.
“Sorry, baby. You can come in now.” I open the door, allowing Ginger to bound past me. She beelines straight for the bed and hops up. She steps onto Rembrandt’s stomach, curls up into a ball, and falls asleep. I laugh, then go to the bathroom to take a quick shower. It feels good after such exertion. After I’m done, I take a quick glance at my website on my phone. More angry people declaring I’m depraved for not wanting kids. I sigh and shut down the tab. I don’t want my high to evaporate, which it’ll do if I keep reading those comments. Suddenly, I want to go home. I need to be with my cats. I get dressed, scribble another note for Rembrandt, then take off. I feel slightly guilty for leaving in the same fashion, but I need to breathe. I get home in record time, and my cats are very happy to see me. I give them several treats, but they’re still not satisfied. They tend to be unusually clingy if I’m gone for a substantial amount of time other than when I’m at work. The downside to being an introvert.