Saturday, June 7, 2008

39 and Still Holding by Robin Slick, ed.

From "The First Time" by Donna George Storey.

There's a first time for everything.

Isabel adjusted the strap of her shoulder bag. It was heavier than usual, which was not surprising given all the extra "supplies" inside. Squaring her shoulders, she turned to Christine who was on duty at the register.

"I have an appointment at the bank, then some errands. I should be back by three or so."

Christine's forehead creased into a frown.

"They're not planning foreclosure or anything," Isabel said lightly. It was such a shame to mar that perfect, twenty-four-year-old skin with unnecessary worry. "It's a routine matter. No big deal."

But of course it was a big deal. A fucking big deal.

Do one thing for yourself every day. Something selfish. Simply because you want it.

As Isabel pulled into the Hyatt's underground parking lot, she figured she wasn't the only woman on earth who heard her therapist's voice in her head at critical moments. It was a bit crazy, but wasn't that the point of therapy--to replace negative self-talk with a positive, life-enhancing monologue?

So far she'd carried out Tracy's assignment for the week perfectly. She'd asked her husband to make dinner and clean up when she hosted the last reading at the bookstore. She'd enlisted her daughter to pick up the organic veggie box from the farmer's market on her way home from play practice—a big time saver. She'd bought herself a new coffee mug, just because the color made her happy.

Today's indulgence was far more ambitious, however: rent a hotel room, seduce a stiff and proper banker, sweeten the deal with a very naughty ensemble of lingerie. She wasn't so sure her therapist would approve of that.

Isabel pulled up to the valet stand and shut off the engine. Her pulse was racing. And she hadn't even gotten to the hard part yet.

But there was a first time for everything. Even when you're forty-two.

Although at the moment, handing her keys to the chipper teenager in the valet's shirt--she felt more like eighteen. The age she was the first time she seduced a man, desperate to shed her virginity like a yoke before she went away to college. Dave was twenty-nine, separated from his wife, a friend of her older sister's husband. She could tell he was attracted to her so she invited herself to his place, teased him into kissing her after a drink or two and then laid her cards on the table. She actually dangled a maraschino by the stem in front of him and said she wanted to lose her cherry to him. A long, heart-stopping moment passed before he said, in his wise and weary older man way, "Sure, Isabel, I'd be honored to make love to you."

The memories of what happened then were hazy, like snippets of a movie all bathed in the golden light of a summer evening. Dave's eyes closing as his lips opened under hers. The lazy glide of his finger between her breasts. The way she trembled then, as if he'd touched her heart. But she knew better now. Though he'd kissed her breasts and sucked the nipples languidly, sending sweet twinges of pleasure to her pussy, though he'd parted her legs and eased himself into her oh-so-gently, he'd never really touched her. They'd both stayed locked in themselves, Isabel watching and thinking, is this fucking, is this all? Dave moved so slowly, as if enchanted by her, but she realized now it was probably because he was depressed, guilty, confused by his own demons and desires.

There was one moment she treasured, though: her first lover's face against the pillow as she straddled him, her cunt sliding so easily around him now, her erect, rose-colored nipple daggling before his lips. He looked so happy as he gazed up at her, profoundly content, and her heart soared with the power of it.

Was that what she wanted today? To recapture that power?

Isabel walked up to the reception desk and gave the fresh-faced clerk a smile. Everyone she met seemed so young today, although, at second glance this man was thirtyish, Dave's age. She felt a twinge of nostalgic lust.

"I have a reservation for Isabel O'Shea. I was told you could have a room ready for me before the official check-in time."

"Yes, ma'am, it looks like we can do that for you today."

Isabel glanced around the lobby, head held high. Surprisingly enough, at this moment, she felt confident, nothing like people in the movies who were renting their first hotel room for an afternoon's indiscretion.

"How many room keys will you be needing?"

"Two, of course," she replied, leveling her gaze at him.

His eyes flickered. "Certainly, ma'am."

Middle age had its benefits. She'd gotten much better at flirting, especially when it didn't matter, and toying with the clerk was definitely good practice for the real thing. The packet of card keys in hand, she turned and sauntered over to the waiting elevator. A group of businessmen slipped in beside her, three of them, enough to fill the small space with the faint smell of wool, aftershave, male sweat.

Isabel swallowed, her knees softening from the heady scent. Maybe she should skip the banker and invite this group back to her room? A gang-bang—on her terms, of course--was a long-time fantasy. She'd gather them all around her, order them to strip and feast upon their cocks with her eyes first, comparing the thickness, the curve, the color of the swollen, weeping one-eyed heads. Then she'd take them inside her, one in each hole, willing them to move at her pleasure so she was filled and satisfied, totally, completely and forever.

Do one thing for yourself every day. Simply because you want it.

The elevator stopped at the sixth floor and the men filed out, the last, a curly-headed charmer, turning to give her a nod and jaunty smile. As if he knew.

Yes, I am a horny trollop planning an afternoon of shameless carnal pleasure with a Suit just like you—jealous?

But she didn't say this out loud of course. She only nodded back with her bookstore owner's smile. It paid to be polite to strangers, who could be potential customers. Isabel had no doubt her business was doing well because of her "nice girl" courtesies, her careful selection of stock, her attention to detail like bringing in vegan cupcakes from a trendy bakery for the cappuccino bar. Most important of all was her willingness to take time to cater to her customers' dreams, for that's what a book was--a doorway to another land.

She paused outside the door of room 8215. She had a good guess as to what lay on the other side of that doorway. Hotel land. A king-sized bed, a black-and-white art photograph of a city canyon on the wall above it. It was empty now, silent. But later? Would a passing guest hear squeaking bedsprings, male and female grunts and moans as intermingled as their flesh, all the sounds of illicit coupling?

She could only hope.

The room was indeed tasteful, unremarkable, just as she'd imagined. Stripping off the bedspread—hotels laundered them just a few times a year, she'd read in a magazine—she tossed it in the corner and pulled down the sheets. A vision flashed before her eyes: a nude male body sprawled over the bed. The banker was a tall man, athletic. His hands were large and sturdy—they made signing a contract positively sexy. With any luck, today she'd enjoy the other things they could do.

Unzipping her shoulder bag, she pulled the corset out of her bag and laid it out on the bed. It was a whore's corset, red satin trimmed in black lace and scooped low to expose the breasts. Next came the garter belt and the unopened package of silk stockings. Last of all the condoms, ribbed, for her pleasure.

Which was the purpose of this whole thing anyway.

Happy Accident by Selena Kitt

He grinned. "So, I could get you drunk and take advantage of you?"

I smiled, feeling a slow heat flushing my cheeks. "I'm a cheap date that way."

He leaned back, arms behind his head, and studied me. "So tell me, what is there to do around this town?"

"Detroit?" I nearly spit out my mouthful of beer. "Besides seeing the homeless or getting mugged?"

He laughed. "That bad, huh? The bus doesn't leave until the day after tomorrow. Guess they should have planned our layover for Florida?"

"Well…" I took another sip of the beer, feeling guilty he'd opened it just for me. "Actually, there is something going on tonight at The Attic in Hamtramck, but I don't know if you'd be interested."

"Isn't that a blues bar?" Rob perked up. "Someone told me about it last time we came through, but I never had a chance to go. I love the blues."

"You do?" I knew very well he did. I wasn't a lazy Rob Burnett fan. I knew all his influences. "Jimmy Voss is playing a set there tonight."

Rob sat straight up, the cap from his cranberry juice tumbling from his knee and clattering to the floor. "You're kidding me! Raymond Voss' brother? The Bad Dog Blueshounds?"

"The same." I sipped my beer again. I was getting used to the taste.

Rob looked at his watch. "What time did they start?"

"Oh, I think around eight." I shrugged. "I wanted to go myself, but ya know, I had tickets to see Scratch."

Rob leaned forward, his knees touching mine. "Do you think they're still playing?"

"They play all night, until closing time," I told him, catching his enthusiasm. I really had wanted to go, and if Scratch weren't in town, that's probably where I'd have been tonight. "Uncle Jessie Winters plays there every Saturday night."

"You're kidding me!" Rob's jaw dropped. "Can you get me there?"

I glanced at Katie, still standing in the corner, talking to Tyler. He laughed, leaning in to say something into her ear. "I have a car." I tried not to think about the possibilities as a hot excitement filled my belly. "If that's what you mean."

He glanced over his shoulder. "Well, I'd hate to drag along my bodyguard for the limo ride. It would be nice to be just an anonymous, regular guy for the night."

"I think we'll be safe." I laughed. "That security guard, Gary, didn't have a clue! He wasn't even going to let you into the venue!"

"Do I have a forgettable face?" He gave me a sad pout and I paid no attention to the way it made my breath catch.

I bit my lip. "Hardly. Let me check things out with Katie?"

"Sure." He leaned back again, putting his feet on the ottoman as I stood.

When I explained things to Katie, she jumped at the sudden opportunity, turning to Tyler. "Do you think you could get me home?"

I stared, marveling at her manipulation, trying to hide my smile of surprise.

"Yeah, sure.” Tyler slid an arm around her shoulders. “Not a problem."

When I returned to the couch, a girl sat close next to Rob, asking him for an autograph. Signing her ticket, he glanced at me. "All set?"

I nodded, watching the blonde out of the corner of my eye. She gave me a dirty look and I ignored that, too.

"Great!" He stood, handing the ticket to the blonde and edging away from the heel snaking up his pant leg.

"How are we going to work this?" I turned my back to the blonde as Rob took me elbow and guided me away from the couch. "I mean, we'll get mobbed if we walk out that door, right?"

"Oh, definitely." He slid his hand down to mine and pulled me with him. His fingers were warm, and I felt thick calluses on them, presumably from playing guitar. "That's why I'm going incognito."

He put on a baseball cap and a soft brown leather jacket. Then he threw on a pair of sunglasses and turned to look at me, holding his arms out as if to say, "Ta da!"

I laughed. "Take of the glasses. You have enough problems seeing where you're going in the dark without them."

"Hey, I said I was sorry about that." He smirked and tossed the glasses onto a table. "Okay, here's what we do. Jim over there will take you to your car and show you where to pick me up. Then he'll come in and get me. Sound like a plan?"

I saw Jim sitting in one of the recliners, his feet up, drinking a Coke and eating a handful of peanuts. "He's…what, your bodyguard?"

Rob grinned. "Yep. Personal protection agent. That's the p.c. term."

I tilted my head, trying to tell if he was kidding or being serious, or maybe a little of both. "Okay, well let's get your P.P.A. and go."

Rob made quick introductions. Jim stood so fast he spilled his peanuts all over the floor. The walk to my car seemed to take forever, and we didn't talk much. I wanted to ask him if he knew if Rob went out with many fans after his shows, but I couldn't get up the nerve. Jim filled my little passenger seat and directed me to one of the back doors of the venue, very near the stairs I'd climbed with Katie just hours before.

Jim left me alone there. I took the opportunity to check my hair and make-up in the rear view mirror. It wasn't as bad as I'd feared. I smoothed my straight, dark hair, curling the ends under my chin with my fingers. I glanced at the "no parking" sign my little Kia idled underneath, hoping a cop didn't come by. Jim returned with Rob and I unlocked the door to let him in. The sunglasses were on his face again and I saw a bunch of girls flying down the flight of stairs, pointing at the car.

"Okay, let's roll." His voice was breathless and I put the car into gear, pulling away from the curb. "Once we're away from the arena, we'll be good."

I looked at him while we stopped at a red light. "Don't you think the sunglasses make you look even more conspicuous?"

"Yeah." He tossed them onto the dashboard along with the hat. "Jim insisted. He doesn't approve of this little trip."

"He could have tagged along." I looked around for signs to the expressway. I hated trying to navigate in the dark, but I didn't want to appear lost.

"I didn't want him to." Rob's hand slid over my knee, giving me a brief squeeze. In my surprise, my foot hit the gas pedal harder than I expected when we took off. Thank God the light had turned green!

Rob flipped through my CDs as I drove. The Attic was only fifteen minutes away, not far at all. My sense of direction was awful, though—hence Katie's Mapquest directions to the venue—and with Rob sitting next to me, I felt even more spacey than usual.

"Hey, look!" Rob pulled Scratch's "Open Season" out from my collection. "Oh, and what's this? Rick Springfield?"

I flushed. "So?"

"Here! Janis Joplin!" He popped it into the CD player. "This'll get us in the mood for some blues."

Janis started to wail "Try, try, try just a little bit harder," and Rob sang along. I glanced over, feeling my chest constrict. Part of me was acting all casual, a thirty-something year old woman making small talk and dodging my little car through traffic. Another part of me was twelve years old, standing in complete awe, watching myself sitting next to Rob Burnett, lead singer of Scratch, while he sang along to Janis Joplin and occasionally drummed out a beat on the dashboard of my Kia.

When I began to sing along with Rob, he raised his eyebrows in my direction. "Hey, you can sing!" I winked, still singing, and he joined in again. The last verse came on just as I was pulling into The Attic parking lot and we sang it together. I waited to cut the engine, deciding to show off a little at the last minute and leaning in to harmonize with him at the end.

“Nice!” His compliment made me flush, and we grinned at each other in the dark heat of the car. Our smiles faded, almost in harmony, as his eyes locked with mine. I hadn't realized how close we were, just inches away, really. I felt his breath on my face. He smelled like cranberry juice, and I knew I probably still smelled like beer. I tasted it as I swallowed, seeing his eyes flicker to my mouth.

"Hey, Sabrina." The sound was just breath really.

"Hey, Rob." My own voice was a whisper as I tilted my face up, my eyes searching his.

I watched his eyes and saw the decision flash through him in an instant as he leaned in and captured my mouth, his lips pressing mine, soft and light, an easy, casual thing. I made a small sound in my throat, my hand squeezing his arm, his shoulder. The kiss deepened and I opened my mouth to him, his hand slipping behind my head, pulling me closer.

He broke the kiss first but I kept my eyes closed, breathless, my whole body vibrating with sensation. His eyes were open when I looked at him. I couldn't read his expression. It was like he was searching for something. I wished I knew what.

"Ready?" His voice came back, clear and strong and I nodded.