Chapter Three; Part One
“We’re going to Ginger’s!” I say to Onyx and Jet, keeping my voice cheery. They eye me in suspicion as I produce the carrier. Of course, they flee at the sight of it, so I have to do the song and dance of placing treats in it and then pretending not to pay attention. Jet saunters into the carrier and scarfs down the Temptations. Onyx peeks her head around the corner, and I place three Temptations a few feet from where she is. She inches forward and eats them. I repeat this pattern until she’s right in front of the carrier. She and Jet touch noses, and I gently push her inside the carrier. She howls as I shut the door, but settles down once I put more Temptations in the carrier. I’ve already put their favorite toy mice in there—but not the catnip ones. I grab my overnight bag, the carrier, and my purse before going to my car. I text Rembrandt to let him know I’m on my way, and he texts me back telling me to drive carefully. There are more people on the road than there were in the morning, so I have to pay more attention to my driving. I still make it in decent time, and Rembrandt and Ginger are at the door to greet me. Once I’m inside, I set down the carrier and release the beasts. They and Ginger sniff each other to everyone’s satisfaction before they tear down the hallway. I take off my shoes and line them up before giving Rembrandt a big kiss. He’s wearing black chinos and a forest green button down, and I’m tempted to have a shag before we start baking. However, I know if we do that, then he’ll fall asleep, which means we wouldn’t start baking for a few more hours. It’s better to get the work done first, then have fun later.
“Have you eaten yet?” Rembrandt asks, grabbing my hand as we walk into the kitchen.
“I had a sandwich an hour ago, but nothing much.” Suddenly, I’m aware that my stomach is grumbling, and all I can think about is eating.
“I have some leftover lasagna I made yesterday. I haven’t eaten yet, either.” He pulls out a covered pan with more than half a sausage lasagna in it, cuts two generous portions, and nukes them. The cats appear out of nowhere, probably because they can smell the sausage. They stare up at the microwave without blinking, and I pull out a bag of Greenies from a cupboard to divert them. They eat the Greenies, of course, but then go back to staring at the microwave. Most cats are very food-driven, and they are no exception.
“How was your day?” I ask Rembrandt after grabbing a Diet Coke from his fridge. He stocks them especially for me, which is considerate of him because he doesn’t drink much pop.
“Good! I think I’m finally getting my perspective back.” He smiles, and I smile back at him. “It’s not a hundred percent, but I’d say it’s roughly at ninety.”
“That’s terrific!” I beam at him, thrilled that his eyesight is so much better than it was right after the attack.
“I’m still thinking about opening a restaurant, though. I really enjoy cooking.”
“You can do both! It’d be a shame for you to give up your photography.” My mouth waters as Rembrandt pulls the lasagna out of the microwave. He grabs a loaf of garlic bread and cuts us each a big hunk. He arranges two plates, adding a small green salad to each plate. He drizzles a raspberry vinaigrette on the salads before handing the plates to me. I bring them to the dining room, and the cats follow me, meowing the whole way. I give them each a piece of sausage, and they meow for more. I shake my head because too much is not good for cats, but they don’t care.
“There’s plenty more if you’re still hungry after the first helping,” Rembrandt says as he comes into the dining room. He has a plate of cheeses and crackers in one hand, and a plate of fruits (grapes, orange slices, strawberries, and blueberries) in the other.
“I think this will be plenty,” I say, eying the feast. “Especially if there’s dessert.”
“There is. Dark chocolate gelato.” Rembrandt knows my weaknesses, and gelato is one of them. “How are you doing? What do you think about that man who’s claiming to be your father?”
“I’m meeting with him on Friday afternoon. He pestered me into it.” My voice is bitter, but I can’t do anything about it. I can’t help feeling as if he guilted me into meeting with him again, even if he didn’t directly pressure me. “I am pissed off that Jasmine invited him to Thanksgiving dinner, by the way. I don’t want to deal with him.”
“You’re not going to be rude to him, are you?” Rembrandt asks, his eyes trained on mine. I’m miffed that he asked me that, though it’s not an unreasonable question.
“I’ll be civil. But I won’t like it.” I toy with my fork as I’ve suddenly lost my appetite. I haven’t made a dent in the lasagna, and it’s a shame to let it go to waste.
“I’m not trying to give you a hard time,” Rembrandt says gently, patting my hand. “I just don’t want you to do anything you might regret later.”
“I’m not going to dump mashed potatoes in his lap,” I say, my lips pressed in a thin line. “I know how to act like an adult. Please give me more credit than that.”
“Look, I’m probably the last person to give you advice on this. My parents were deeply in love until the day my father died. I don’t know how I’d feel if my father left us. But, you can at least hear him out, right?” I stare at Rembrandt, struggling to keep my temper under control. How like a guy to counsel me on something about which he has no knowledge, specifically a white guy. I once skimmed a NYT article that said white guys think they themselves are the best expert on any subject. I couldn’t stomach reading the whole thing, but it’s true that white guys have no problems offering their unsolicited opinion with gusto. If I had a tenth of that confidence, who knows what the hell I could do with my life?
“Let’s drop it,” I say, my voice tight. I’m already feeling beleaguered because Jasmine won’t stop texting me to accept that that man is our father. I don’t need the man I’m dating to add his voice to the naysaying chorus.
“I’m on your side,” Rembrandt says, his voice conciliatory. “I know it must be hard to deal with the situation.” I’m on the verge of saying something unforgivable, so I don’t say anything at all. I take a minute to breathe slowly and smoothly, keeping my tongue tucked and pointing the top of my head at the ceiling to attempt to calm down. It works. After a minute, I’m off the ledge, and I’m not going to take Rembrandt’s head off.
“Yeah, it’s not easy,” I say with a wry smile. “As you can tell, I’m really fucked up about it.” Suddenly, I’m hungry again, so I pick up my fork and start eating. The lasagna is delicious, and I eat every bite. I clean my plate, and I’m comfortably full by the time Rembrandt gets up and goes into the kitchen to get the gelato. He brings back two huge bowls of gelato, and I know I’m going to eat it all. I tuck into it, marveling at the complexity and the flavor of the gelato. I’m tempted to gobble it down, but I force myself to eat it slowly. I have a bad habit of not tasting my food as I eat it, and I’m working on being more mindful. When we finish the gelato, Rembrandt goes back into the kitchen once more. He comes back with two cups of espresso, and it’s the perfect ending to a fantastic meal.
We go into the kitchen to wash the dishes and to get ready for a baking marathon. The cats follow us, staring at their cupboard with determination. I grab the Greenies bag and give them each four. There is harmony in the kitchen, and I’m feeling pretty benevolent as we start baking. We have decided to make our own pie crust, and there’s something soothing about kneading the dough repeatedly. As I’m doing that, Rembrandt is making the filling for the two pumpkin pies. We finally decided on two pumpkin pies, one sweet potato pie because I’m the only one known to like it, a strawberry rhubarb pie, an apple cobbler, a blueberry cobbler, and a fudge pie. Seven pies. One pumpkin pie, the sweet potato pie, and the blueberry cobbler for dinner, whereas we’re bringing one pumpkin pie, the apple cobbler, and the strawberry rhubarb pie to Rembrandt’s mother’s house. His family loves fruit pies, which is why they get two of them. The fudge pie is simply for me, which means it’s staying in Rembrandt’s fridge. That’s a lot of pies. It’s a good thing that we have all night to make them. Oh, plus the whipped cream, which we’ll make tomorrow before lunch and then again before dinner. Rembrandt already made vanilla bean ice cream, which I taste. It’s delicious, and I have to force myself not to eat more than a few bites. I know myself in that I’ll be tasting things as we cook, and I’m full already. The last thing I need to do is to stuff myself with ice cream.
“I’m conflicted about that man,” I say to Rembrandt after we’ve been baking for an hour without talking much. “He seems like a nice enough guy, but I just don’t believe he’s my father. I resent Jasmine for pushing me to embrace him with open arms.”
“There’s no reason why you should believe he’s your father yet,” Rembrandt says, peeking into the oven at the pumpkin pies. We’ve moved on to making the sweet potato pie, which I like better than pumpkin pie. I’m going to have to try all the pies, though, which is a while lotta pie. “A man just shows up out of the blue after forty years claiming to be your father? You have every right to be suspicious. The burden is on him to prove he’s who he says he is.”
“Thanks. I appreciate that.” I smile at Rembrandt, noticing the dab of flour on his cheek. It’s cute, however, so I don’t tell him it’s there. I get a ping from Jasmine, and it’s another text telling me what a wonderful email she just got from ‘Dad’. She forwards me the email, and I skim it. It’s full of regrets and tenderness, but I’m left unmoved. The more Jasmine waxes poetic about him, the more I pull back. I don’t like people telling me what to do, and I have a puerile impulse to do exactly the opposite of what I’m commanded.
We chat of inconsequential things as we make the rest of the pies. The cats wander in and out of the kitchen, periodically checking in on what we’re doing. They don’t show any interest in the pies, but Jet is attracted to the butter. He licks a stick of it before I can stop him, and, fortunately, Rembrandt doesn’t see him do it. Rembrandt probably wouldn’t mind, anyway, as he’s a cat man himself. Still, I cover the end of the stick of butter so Jet can’t eat any more of it. He meows crossly at me, but I hold firm. Dairy isn’t good for cats, so I don’t allow Onyx and Jet to have too much of it. I know Rembrandt doesn’t give Ginger too much of it, either, because he pampers her more than I do my babies. We work nonstop until we finish the pies. It’s well after one in the morning by the time the last pie is cooked.
“We’re done!” Rembrandt exclaims as he pulls the apple cobbler out of the kitchen.
“About damn time,” I retort, wiping my brow with a tissue. I haven’t spent this much concentrated time in the kitchen, well, ever, and I’m heartily sick of it by now. I’ve also worked up an appetite again. Rembrandt cuts me a slice of the fudge pie, and even without whipped cream, it’s delicious. A scoop of homemade vanilla bean ice cream definitely helps.
“Meow!” Onyx jumps on the counter, grumpy because we haven’t been paying much attention to the cats in the last five hours. I pick her up and set her on the floor because the counter is verboten to them, including Ginger. I give my cats free reign of most of the house, but the kitchen counter is one place they are not allowed. Jet is good about staying off it, but Onyx has to test the boundaries every once in a while. Onyx glares at me from the floor, but I’m unmoved. She forgets her pique in a second, and she races after Ginger and Jet.
“I need a shower,” I say to Rembrandt.
“Mind if I join you?” Rembrandt asks, quirking an eyebrow at me.
“We can give it a shot,” I say gamely. I’ve never been a big fan of sex in the shower because it sounds more exciting than it usually turns out to be. One person is always cold, and it’s hard to give blowjobs with water streaming down my face. In addition, if I’m sexing with a guy, the height differential makes it hard to get the angle right. I’m five-six, and I once dated a guy who was six-four. It was impossible for us to have sex in the shower, and we usually ended up taking an actual shower before having sex on the bed. The other problem is that it’s not plausible to use a condom in the shower, and I’m not on birth control. I’m one of the few sexually-active women in her forties who’s never been on birth control. It’s hard on depression, and it’s difficult to find one that works for you. I never wanted to deal with the trial-and-error that comes with finding a birth control pill that has more positive than negatives. In addition, when I started having sex, I decided that I wouldn’t go on the pill unless I was living with a guy, specifically, and we’d been together for at least a year. I don’t know how I settled on those parameters, but I’ve never reached that benchmark. The longest I’ve dated a guy is two years, but we never lived together. I’ve never lived together with anyone, actually.
We finish cleaning up the kitchen and make sure the pies are all in the fridge before going upstairs. The cats are nowhere to be found so we don’t have an audience as we go into the bathroom. We soap each other up, and I’m beginning to get aroused. Glancing down, I notice that he’s hard, so I sink to my knees and take his cock in my mouth. I try to ignore the water pelting me on the head as I suck him off, but it’s difficult to ignore. I cup his balls in one hand as I stroke his belly with the other. He grabs my head with both hands and starts moving me back and forth. Before he can come, I move back up his body and kiss him on the lips. I can feel his hard-on digging into my belly, and I’m tempted to slide down it already. I like foreplay, a lot, but sometimes, I just want to fuck. Rembrandt kisses down my body until he reaches my pussy, he parts my lips, and then eats the hell out of me. I clamp my thighs around his face, and after a few minutes, I explode on his face. The one benefit to having sex in the shower is that there’s no mess. Once I’m done convulsing, I pull Rembrandt up by the hair, and none too gently, and try to slip his cock into me. He’s six inches taller than I am, however, so we can’t make it work.
“Goddamn it,” I say, my voice ragged. “Let’s go to your bedroom.” We race to his bedroom, the cats still nowhere to be seen. We close the door so we won’t be disturbed—there was that one unfortunate time when we left the door open a crack and Jet bit Rembrandt on the ass as he was plunging into me—and then we attack each other while falling on the bed. It’s raw and animalistic, and I know I’ll have bruises when I’m done. Rembrandt grabs a condom and rolls it on his cock before piercing me with it. I bite him on the shoulder as he pushes all the way in. I grab his ass so I can have some control. Just as I’m about to climax, there are three yowls outside the door.
“Goddamn cats,” Rembrandt growls, and I cackle as I clench around him. For whatever reason, it hits my funny bone that the cats have chosen this moment to interrupt us.
“Ignore them,” I gasp, clasping my legs behind Rembrandt’s back. In two seconds, I climax, and he follows soon after. After the convulsions, he withdraws and flops down on the bed beside me. Now, we’re messy and could use another shower. I’m too exhausted for that, and I stare at the ceiling, completely depleted. The cats are still making a ruckus, so I stagger to the door to let them in. They hop up on the bed and curl up in three separate balls right next to Rembrandt, which means no cuddling for us. I lie down beside them, too exhausted to do anything other than gasp like a fish out of water.
“You’re gonna kill me, girl,” Rembrandt groans, rolling on his side so he can look at me.
“You what about me? I’m too old for this.” I roll on my side as well so we’re facing each other over the cats. Jet opens one eye and stares at me before closing it again. Rembrandt rolls back on his back and soon falls asleep. As per usual, I get out of bed once he’s asleep, and go downstairs so I can smoke out back.
I have a silly smile on my lips as I smoke. I look like a woman who’s been thoroughly fucked, which is exactly what I am. I’m much happier when I have sex on a regular basis, and I can be one hell of a cranky bitch if my libido is denied. When my last girlfriend started her affair with her dog walker, she stopped having sex with me unless I initiated it, and even then, it was maybe one out of every six or seven attempts. I gave up pretty quickly because I hated feeling as if I were begging, and it really stuck in my craw that she wouldn’t tell me why she suddenly lost interest. Any time I asked her, she would clam up and change the subject. I didn’t want to be a bitch and pester her until she finally caved, but I can’t deny that she gave me a serious case of blue ovaries. I felt ripped off because there was pussy available, but I wasn’t getting any of it. When I found her in her bed with her dog walker, it pissed me the fuck off, but a tiny part of my brain was relieved. It wasn’t just my imagination that she had lost interest as she tried to tell me it was—she really was fucking around on me.
I shake my head to rid myself of that thought. I just had good sex, so there’s no reason for me to bring myself down by thinking about the past. I particularly like how flexible Rembrandt’s tongue is, and his thick cock is pretty great as well. I wouldn’t mind going around round, but I know he’s out of commission until the morning. Suddenly, I’m hungry. I go inside and cut myself another thick piece of the fudge pie. I pour myself a glass of milk as well, lactose-intolerance be damned. I bring them both into the dining room, and I immediately dig in. As if by magic, the cats appear and meow for their share. I inform them they won’t like it, but that doesn’t deter them. They watch my fork move from the plate to my mouth and back again. I hold the fork out, and each of them give it a sniff. Ginger and Onyx crinkle their noses and rear their heads back, but Jet darts out his tongue to taste the chocolate. He doesn’t seem to particularly care for it, but then he takes a bite out of the crust.
“No, Jet, no!” I snatch the plate away, and Jet mews crossly in displeasure. “It’s not for cats,” I inform him. He’s not pleased with that, but he accepts it, nonetheless. I finish my pie while shielding the plate from Jet’s wet nose. Once I’m done, I clean the plate and fork, then go back upstairs to take a quick shower before slipping back into bed. It’s three in the morning, but I’m still wide awake. I need to at least rest my body because we have to be at Mrs. DiCampo’s at noon, which means getting up at ten at the latest. Not for me, but for Rembrandt who needs at least an hour to wake up before he is at all functional. The only thing he can do without time and three coffees is have sex, and I’m not complaining because morning sex is a great way to start the day. Then again, late night sex is fantastic as well. Let’s face it, sex is great no matter what time I have it. Rembrandt sighs in his sleep and instinctively curls around me. I turn so my back is to him and snuggle my ass against his stomach. The cats race into the room and jump on the bed. Ginger plops down behind Rembrandt’s head and puts her own head on his crown. Onyx squishes herself against my tits, and Jet wraps himself around her. They’re all asleep in two minutes, and I resent them the ease with which they sacked out.
“Goddamn it,” I swear under my breath. I turn on my phone and glance at my Twitter TL. There’s nothing of interest, so I check out my FB feed as well. Nothing catches my eye, so I check how the weather is going to be tomorrow. Not too cold, and no snow, unfortunately, It feels as if we get less and less every year.
I get out of bed again, careful not to upset any of the creatures sleeping in it. I go back downstairs and turn on the television to see if there’s anything watchable. There’s a Law & Order marathon on because of course there is, and I settle on the couch and allow the chung-chung to overtake me. I check my website, and there are several more comments on my latest post. I decide to at least start a new post, and hopefully, I’ll fall asleep sometime in the middle of writing it. I need to talk about sleep and how it’s never been a friend of mine. I even wrote a short story once about getting into a fist fight with Morpheus in which I punched him in the nuts and broke his spine.