Only moments after I returned to my townhouse from my date with Cory Davis, Sandy Greene and Hannah Martin, my apartment mates, wanted to hear all about it. Prior to going out, I had piqued their interest by telling them about this hot looking guy who had once been my babysitter, who I hadn't seen since I was nine and who had walked into Starbucks where I worked and asked for my phone number. Hannah hadn't been home when Cory had come calling. But Sandy had, and she agreed with me: Cory was indeed hot stuff.
"Well?" Sandy said, greeting me with a big grin in the living room, barefoot and wearing a sweat shirt and white shorts.
Just then, Hannah came in the room. 'My twin,' as people have called Hannah, because we kind of looked alike. We had the same roundish face, high cheek bones and long, light brown hair, although hers was poker-straight where mine was wavy. We were even built alike—tallish (for chicks) with biggish, round butts and thighs in need of slimming, something we might be able to accomplish if we had the discipline to exercise regularly which we didn't. Sandy was the petite one, petite and cute with short blond hair and blue eyes. Now SHE exercised, jogging several times each week and lifting light dumbbells, those cute orange and yellow neoprene-covered thingies that looked good enough to eat if they really were things to eat.
Hannah, half-dressed in jeans and a bra, said, "From that big grin, I'd bet you had a good time with that ex-babysitter of yours."
They sat on the sofa, while I slipped off my sneakers and tucked myself into an old comfy chair from Goodwill. "I don't know where to start," I said.
"At the beginning, where else?" Sandy said.
I began with our lunch at the Dobbin House, then took them through our stroll through the battlefield—Devil's Den, the Peach Orchard, then on to Seminary Ridge where we made out as tourists strolled by. "He was impressed that I could recite lines from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address."
Hannah widened her hazel eyes in surprise. "I didn't know you could do that."
"No, me either," Sandy chimed in. "Hannah, I bet she like, practiced for hours just to impress him."
"Right," I teased. "I'm now working on Hamlet's soliloquy. 'To be or not to be, that is the question. Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune...'" I stopped there, unable to recall what came next. The girls rolled their eyes. Then I continued. "Actually, I learned the Gettysburg Address in high school and thought Lincoln's words were so beautiful, I recited it over and over until I could quote passages by heart. Anyway, after Seminary Ridge, we got back to his truck and necked like mad in the backseat. And let me tell you, it took everything I had not to let him go further."
Hannah grinned in anticipation of something juicy. "And, um, how far is further? Inquiring minds would love to know."
"We didn't do anything below the waist," I revealed. "My panties were soaked after he did with his tongue just about everything a guy could do to a girl's boobs with his tongue. The guy is experienced, no doubt about it. Had I let him do what he wanted, he'd have found out just how wet I was."
Hannah gave her crotch a few swipes with her hand. Ohmygod, girl, you're making me wet just hearing this."
"Yeah, me too," Sandy said. "I've never seen you this excited about a guy since you and Joey broke up."
"You're right. The truck sex was fun. But for me, the best part was when he gave me a comforting hug on the Dobbin House parking lot after I had told him about my dad's medical condition. That meant so much to me." I blinked and rubbed my eyes. "Sorry, I get emotional every time I talk about my dad's situation." They already knew about my dad being partially paralyzed following back surgery.
"Cody sounds like a sensitive guy," Sandy said. "You could use a sensitive guy in your life."
I nodded. "He is and I could. Can't wait to see him again. But, like I told him, I'm keeping my expectations in check."
I did expect him to call me and he did. One thing I learned during the conversation was that he lived on the outskirts of McSherrystown, not too far from my parents and brother Josh. A "starter home" he called it. "Nothing fancy, three bedrooms, two baths. Would love to have you over sometime."
I chuckled, sensing the implications of what he meant. Half-seriously, I said, "Sure, I'll bring over my computer chess set and we can play in bed." During our date in Gettysburg, I had let him know about my computer chess set and that I sometimes played in bed. Having taught me the game years ago, Cody was impressed that I still played.
Playing off the double entendre/faux pas I had made in Gettysburg (I had told him I played with myself in bed, meaning playing chess in bed), he said, "No need to play with yourself when you'll have me to play with. Of course, there's no rush."
"To play chess, you mean, or the other thing?" I asked, carrying the thread further.
"Either one," he said. "We can always do both, you know."
"We'll see," I said, trying not to appear too anxious. It wasn't just for the sex, though I can't deny that I looked forward to getting naked with him at some point. I also looked forward to receiving more comforting hugs.
We made plans for Saturday night. "Come on over around six. I'll fix dinner and then we'll play," he said. Then he added: "And look, Bethany, when I say play, I mean chess. Seriously, anything else, well, we'll see how things go. No pressure."
That put me at ease. Yes, I knew him, but that was in another life, when I was nine and he was my nineteen-year-old babysitter. So I was kind of nervous, yet excited at the same time, while driving to his place in my 2010, tan Cutlass Ciera, my first car, bought with money saved but mostly with help from dad. At eight years old, it was getting on but still reliable.
Not bad for a starter home, I thought, pulling up to Cody's house, a brick ranger with a bay window in front and a short driveway leading to a one-car garage. He obviously had been looking out for me, because he came out right away, then directed me to park in the driveway. He hugged me when I got out. Then he said, chuckling, "What, no chess set?"
"I figured you had one here," I said.
He nodded, looking me over while stroking his beard. From his grin, he seemed to like what I wore, a casual springtime yellow dress and sandals. My bare legs were not yet the tawny color they'd be after June rolled in. Still, he didn't seem to mind. Standing there in his khaki slacks and blue sports shirt, his eyes wandered. Strangers checking me out made me feel uneasy. But Cody was no stranger. Plus, I liked him; his attention flattered me.
"I smell something good," I said, the moment I entered his living room.
"If you like steak, it will taste even better than it smells," he said. "I'm not a big red meat eater, haven't had it in months. But tonight, I wanted to make something special."
I hugged him for that, right in front of his fifty-inch, flat screen TV. "You're making me feel special already," I said.
He then gave me a brief tour—living room, dining room, den, eat-in kitchen and the three bedrooms, one of which he had turned into a home office, "headquarters," he said, of his construction business. He had a home gym in his basement, with half the floor space covered with rubber mats. He assembled it to save the time it would take to commute back and forth to a commercial gym. "It pays for itself," he said. "Long-term, it would cost me more for a commercial gym membership." No cute neoprene-covered dumbbells here. This was a "serious" work-out place with a rack full of steel dumbbells, a couple Olympic barbells (he explained to me what they were), power rack and a multi-station thing where you could do various exercises. "That keeps me company," he said, pointing to an audio-video setup against one of the wood-paneled walls.
"Well, it's obvious that this stuff doesn't go to waste," I said, feeling one of his muscular arms, the one with the thick, rope-like vein running down it.
"No, but I wish I had even more time to spend down here," he said. "Work keeps me so damn busy."
The T-bone steaks he fixed, cooked medium-well, were great. "It's hard to screw up a steak," he said modestly. He served rice, squash and asparagus for side dishes and he let me make a salad of Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, carrots and pine nuts. Eating by candlelight in the dining room was a nice romantic touch. He asked me to raise my glass of Sauvignon for a toast. "To good times ahead, to dreams being fulfilled rather than deferred," he said.
"Sounds good to me," I said, then asked if he had any specific dreams in mind.
"Me? No, not at the moment," he said. "I was thinking more of you. You told me about possibly becoming a nurse." He looked me in the eye, as if to confirm that I harbored such dreams, then took a fork-full of salad.
"Your remembered," I said, touched that he did.
He nodded while chewing his salad. Then: "Of course I remembered."
"Well, it's that a lot of people I speak with don't really pay attention to what you say," I said, pouring drops of Balsamic dressing on my salad. "I'm sure you've found that also."
He nodded. "Yep. But not this guy. You've had my undivided attention since I walked into Starbucks that day. Have you looked into nursing school?"
"Not really. I'm taking courses through Phoenix as I've said." Cody obviously liked me, but I was beginning to feel insecure, like I wasn't up to his level of success. He'd been to college, ran a successful construction business and took care of himself. I was taking online college courses, kind of going through the motions without any firm plans for a major and worked as a server in Starbucks. Twenty-one was far from old or too late to "find myself." Yet my lack of direction bothered me, had bothered me even before I began seeing Cody. Seeing how goal-oriented and disciplined he was only deepened my feelings of insecurity, no fault of his. I never had this problem with Joey, a guy who let himself go after high school, drank too much beer and had no desire to attend college. He was an electrician's apprentice when we broke up, a blue-color guy. Nothing wrong with that. But I wanted more for myself—I just wasn't sure exactly what or how to get there.
Looking across the table at Cody, I tried to push those concerns aside. He looked so handsome in the flickering candlelight, a real hunk, college-educated no less, with thick, longish hair, a chestnut colored beard and a body that I bet could keep me warm at night, among other things. Momentarily lost for anything "profound" to say, I said, "Cody, this is really nice, the food, the atmosphere and who I'm sharing it all with."
He grinned, reached across the table and squeezed my hand. "Thanks." He gazed into my eyes for a few moments. Then he said, "Did I tell you how pretty you look in candlelight?"
"No, but I'll count that as a first time. And I know you won't believe this, but I was thinking the same thing about you." I giggled. "Um, handsome, not pretty."
Following a fresh fruit desert, I volunteered to help with cleaning up but he wouldn't let me. "No way, you're a guest here," he said. "Just relax."
While Cody worked in the kitchen, I drifted into the den, an addition built on by the home's previous owners, he had told me. It was a cozy room, with Oriental scatter rugs thrown over the wall-to-wall carpeting and bookshelves that stood against two of the walls. A black leather reading chair and ottoman sat in one corner next to a brass floor lamp. Cody walked in as I was perusing the shelves. "If you see anything you like, you're welcome to borrow," he said. "And I won't charge you a late fee."
"Good, because I'm a slow reader," I said. There were quite a few books on military history, including the Civil War. No surprise, we had just been to Gettysburg, his idea for a first date. I told him that I used to read a lot in high school, mostly novels, though my reading had slacked off since then.
"I don't get much reading done myself these days," he said. "Not enough hours in the day."
"No chess either?"
"Haven't played in a few years. If you've been playing regularly with that computer set, you might wipe the board with me. Of course, there's only one way to find out." He reached for a chess set that sat on one of the shelves. It was a nice set, though nothing fancy. Just your basic wood chess set, pieces designed in the classic style and a board that folded into two parts. But it was more than that, because I soon realized it was the same set that he had taught me to play on. Cody smiled, sensing the wave of sentiment that washed over me. "This set looks familiar, doesn't it?" I nodded, blinking back tears. Rubbing my shoulder, he said, "It's special to me also, Bethany."
We went to the dining room, where he turned on the ceiling light, three bulbs set in a brass chandelier. After we set up the pieces, he put a pawn in each hand, one black, one white (white always goes first in chess), behind his back, then swung his hands around. I chose black.
He opened with pawn to king-4, perhaps the most common opening in chess. I countered with the same move, pushing my pawn up to his, trying not to show how nervous I felt. I mean, I was playing this hot guy who had once been my babysitter and chess mentor and now was someone who could make me wet with just a few kisses. How would he feel if he lost?
The next few moves were almost predictable, classic moves and counter-moves designed to gain control of the center of the board: (W) knight to king bishop-3 , (B) knight to queen bishop-3, (W) pawn to queen-4, (B) pawn to queen-3, (W) pawn to queen-5, (B) knight to king-2, (W) bishop to queen bishop-4, (B) pawn to king bishop-4, (W) pawn takes pawn, (B) bishop takes pawn...
Looking up from the board, he said, "You really have been on top of this game."
"Not on top enough," I said, "because I haven't got beyond level two of my computer set."
"Hey, that's pretty damn good from what I know about those computer games. I can see I'm in for some serious combat here." He studied the board, one elbow on the table, stroking his mustache in a "serious" way.
A few moves later, he found out just how serious. He was down two pawns, a knight and a bishop. I had lost one knight and a pawn, not an insurmountable lead by any means, because I knew that a player down in pieces could still win with the right position. I also knew that if we kept trading pieces, my edge in material would prove decisive toward the endgame. Sure enough, it did, when I pushed a pawn to his back row and got back my queen (we had traded queens earlier). "Okay, that's the ballgame," he said, knocking over his king before I called the checkmate that we both saw coming.
My feelings were mixed. It's always nice to win, but Cody was once my mentor. Plus, he had home field advantage, so to speak. After what sounded like a forced chuckle, he said, "Looks like I'm going to have to get the rust off before I play you again." He took losing well enough, though I could see that it stung. Men and their fragile egos when it came to competing with women—I knew something about that. Joey hated when I beat him in checkers (he didn't play chess). He won also, but I won more and that rattled him.
I tried to make Cody feel better. "You did say you hadn't played in a few years."
He nodded. "True, but no excuses. You're a good player, Bethany. We'll play again after I brush up on my game."
I watched as he dropped the pieces back in a tin box, feeling awkward and wondering what might come next. I was also feeling a bit insecure. Would he call it a night because he felt bad about losing? Or, as I was hoping, could we get back on track, pick up where we left off in Gettysburg? I thought about suggesting something, perhaps listening to music or watching TV. But it was his house and I felt awkward about taking the lead. Apparently, he sensed my awkwardness, because after he put the chess set back on the shelf, he turned around, reached out and gave me one of his warm hugs. Then, with a mischievous gleam in his eyes, he said, "The night's still young, so I hope you're not thinking about leaving just yet."
I reached up and rested my arms on his shoulders. "Are you kidding? I wouldn't think of it. Not unless you kick me out."
"I'd have to be crazy to do that," he said. He gave me a quick kiss on the mouth. Then he pulled away and said, "If I had any excuse for losing that game, it's not being away from chess for so long but thinking back to Gettysburg, how much fun we had and what we did in my truck before leaving. Not to mention how sweet and pretty you are, how nice you smell and, well, I think you get the idea. In other words, it was difficult to concentrate. But again, no excuses."
The next thing I knew, we were standing and smooching beside the bookshelf in his den. His hands were all over and around me, his loins pressed against mine. My panties were getting wetter by the minute and, from what I felt, something was growing between his legs. Finally, I dropped my inhibition about taking the lead. Pulling away and practically panting, I said, "Cody, if you don't get naked with me within the next few minutes, I'll explode."
He laughed. "Well, we can't have that, can we."
"No, we can't," I said. Then I added, "Not to be presumptuous, but I'm protected. Just letting you know." He smiled, then led me down the hall to his bedroom.
Hot as we both felt, we didn't claw and tear each other's clothes off. Instead, we savored the time, every erotically-charged moment of it. He let me unbutton his shirt, then he slipped it off, revealing a chest that was light on hair, heavy on muscle. I ran a finger down his six-pack abs, then turned around, letting him unzip my dress, which I slipped out of and then dropped on the beige carpet. By the time I turned back, he had stepped out of his slacks and was reaching out to me. Barefoot and holding each other, we stood there, he with nothing on but his tight Hanes briefs, me with bra and moist blue panties.
To me, that chess game seemed like some half-forgotten dream. My former babysitter was now my lover to be, standing there in all his hunky hotness, six-pack abs, chiseled thighs and a face that could probably get him a part in some Hollywood movie. Best of all, he wanted ME, a girl of twenty-one who could play chess pretty well but didn't know where the hell she was going in life. Long-term, that is, because where I was going at that moment was into a place I very much wanted to be. Tenderly, he kissed me, then wrapped his hands around me and unsnapped my bra. My thoughts meandered back to Gettysburg, when we were necking in his truck and his tongue danced around on my breasts and hardened nipples. And now, he began to do the same thing. My knees buckled; the room spun. It was all I could do to keep from falling over and might have had he not been holding me. "I'll be okay in there," I said, pointing to his big bed, half-made with a sports-themed print bedspread thrown on top of it.
"You're so pretty, Bethany," he said, playing with my hair. "I hope you don't become annoyed from me telling you that."
I sighed, then said, "I'd only become annoyed if you STOPPED telling me that." I paused to brush away a tear. "You make me feel far prettier than I'll ever be." I sat on the edge of the bed. "Anyway, it's time for these to come off," I said, a reference to my soaked panties. He watched me slip them off before he dispensed with his Hanes briefs. I was ready. No, make that beyond ready. And from what I saw between his legs, he was more than ready as well.