I slept in later than normal that fateful Monday morning. My head ached and I was feeling sorry for myself. I had dreaded this day's coming all weekend and now it was here. Wallowing in self pity, I had no desire to get up and greet the new day.

Laying in my bed, I thought about how, normally, I would have been up and out the door an hour ago, fighting traffic to make it to work by 9. Nope, not today. The previous Friday, my boss had called me and my entire team into an unexpected zoom meeting. Unfortunately, it was not a team-building call.

"I know I told you all that we were going to try to stem the tide, as it were, during the pandemic," he began.

'Huh?' I thought, 'what does stem the tide mean?'

He continued with pleasantries and general blather, then outlined our company's dire financial position before finally getting to the point.

"Unfortunately," he said. "I have to tell you that, if you were invited to this call, then starting Monday, you're on furlough."

"Holy crap!" I exclaimed out loud from my home office, but luckily I was on mute. I quickly scanned the other attendees, and sure enough, all of my colleagues and teammates were on the call and being placed on furlough as well. We were told it would have to stay that way until the blasted pandemic let up. There would be no more meetings, even remotely. The business had to be put on hold until the pandemic's strangle hold on the world relented.

"Could be well into next year," the boss concluded solemnly. "We just don't know yet."

Before the call ended, though, he did ease the pain, with the good news that our health insurance was still going to be paid for into the foreseeable future. He also added the hope that, sooner than later, we'd all be back working together.

'Yay! Nice sentiment,' I thought, but had trouble viewing the situation as optimistically as my boss did, who still had his job, by the way.

Over that grim weekend I grew less positive, and began to sense that the world would never truly be the same as it had been before covid. In fact, my industry might never come back from this pandemic at all, nor my job for that matter! The lack of clarity on what the future held put me into a deep funk.

Feeling depressed, I stumbled about aimlessly for most of that weekend, drinking too much, then sleeping too much, knowing that on Monday, I would have to apply for unemployment insurance and figure out just how bleak of a state my personal finances were in. Would I have to completely switch industries and find a new career? Or could I possibly ride out the pandemic, waiting for a return to comparative normal? I felt very uncertain, gloomy, and a little worried, too, which is why I lingered in bed until almost 9:00 that miserable Monday morning. Plus, my throat was parched from too much whiskey the previous night.

My dog Buster, on the other hand, was used to his daily routine, regardless of my mental state. Normally, he would have been fed and walked long ago by now, but now he sat next to bed, pounding the floor with his wagging tail, so I threw on a t-shirt and shorts, grabbed a big glass of water, and took him outside.

Buster bounded into the yard and immediately found a spot to relieve himself. Looking back at me, his expression seemed to say, 'that was a close call, pal. Not sure if I could've held it much longer!'

"Good boy!" I said and chugged my water, feeling slightly better. Buster began sniffing around the yard for any signs of night time activity. I could also tell he was looking for a discrete place to take care of his more serious business. As he circled around the yard, I set down the empty glass and walked out to my dock, overlooking the river.

I was a little under-dressed for the crisp air that greeted me that chilly October morning. T-shirt, shorts and sandals were not cutting it in the cool autumn chill. But I wanted Buster to have the time he needed, and I certainly had nothing but time on my hands at that moment, I remembered.

Luckily, there was little breeze and I began to acclimate myself while Buster scampered about the yard. The peaceful water drifted past, the current slow but steady. A veil of cool, misty fog clung to the surface and created an ethereal scene. I knew the mist would dissipate once the sun rose a little higher, but it was nice while it lasted.

Looking around, I thought to myself, 'I was lucky to find this place, nestled on the banks of this scenic river, but could I still afford it?' Thinking pessimistic thoughts, I watched a pair of great blue herons glide down and alight along the shore downstream. They began to hunt stealthily along the curving bank. From where I stood, they looked like pterodactyls, shrouded in the mist. I looked back to see if Buster had relieved himself yet. Nope, still sniffing around.

Feeling the cool air on my arms and legs and hearing the sounds of the gentle current lapping at the poles of my dock, I was reminded of my own needs and felt a growing hard on in response. Guys probably understand this phenomenon more than girls, but I guarantee, every red-blooded male knows what I mean. It was your classic morning wood, not sexual, just hard. Having not 'gone' before I came outside with Buster, I found myself with a surprising pole tenting my shorts.

'I'll relieve myself inside in a bit,' I thought, then called out to Buster impatiently, "How you doin' there, bud? You done yet?"

Unfortunately, Buster wasn't done yet. He was busily sniffing animal trails on the opposite end of the property, periodically glancing back at me. I was afraid that if I ran inside to go, he'd run off once he lost sight of me. He did have a bit of a wild streak. So I endured the need and tried not to think about it.

Biding my time, I idly rubbed up and down the length of my stiff member through my shorts while I watched the herons hunt. It felt good. Slipping my hands into the pockets of my loose shorts, I massaged my outstretched rod, enjoying that incomparable feeling of a full, skin stretching erection. I found that rubbing myself also served to warm me up and chase away the morning chill. I leaned my head back, stretched out my tight shoulders and sighed heavily, hoping Buster would be ready to go back inside soon.

Suddenly, I noticed movement in my peripheral vision. From upstream, a figure was silently gliding over the water through the mist. Oh crap, it was a kayaker. As it drew closer I saw that it was propelled by a dark haired woman. Then I recognized my neighbor from a few doors down. Holy shit! It was Marla, Frank's wife.

"Mornin', Will!" she chirped as she expertly guided her craft up to my dock.

I quickly pulled my hands out of my shorts and gave a small wave. "Mornin' Marla," I replied rather sheepishly.

Holding her craft steady against the dock, she added with dismay, "Sorry, I didn't mean to surprise you." She didn't appear to mind my tent, though, by the looks of the smile on her face. "Beautiful out here this morning, huh?"

"Yeah, a little cool, but real nice," I replied and suddenly felt my face flush, seeing her eyes dart between my eyes and my conspicuous bulge. I breathed deeply and rubbed my arms together, hoping it would calm down.

I began to quickly recalled my past interactions with her, which were few and relatively long ago. I had barely gotten to know Frank and Marla since I moved into the neighborhood a few years back. Seemed like a nice couple, a few years older than me and well off, from the looks of their house and cars. Never saw any kids running around. They had held a few gatherings for their friends and neighbors over the years that I had attended, but I hadn't seen them since the last holiday season, many months before. The quarantine had put an end to all of that. Prior to that, I felt like I'd gotten to know Frank a little anyway, since we'd helped each other out a few times in the past, but I had never gotten a chance to talk to Marla much. I did remember noticing how striking she appeared at their holiday party last year, though. especially in comparison to her shorter, stodgy husband.

'There's a guy who hit the jackpot,' I had thought to myself, as I subtly watched his wife bend to scoop up empty plates and whisk them away. Later, engaged in conversation with another neighbor, her musical laughter drifted over the din of conversation, right to my ears, distracting me from my own boring discussion with Frank about investment strategies.

Reminiscences of Marla passed in a fleeting moment, remembering her short, sparkly, clinging party dress and her bright smile while lifting her glass in cheer during a toast. I couldn't recall the words of the toast, or who gave it, but remembering the sight of her back then did nothing to make my morning wood settle down now.

Here in the present, taking in her shapely form perched upon her kayak in the water below, I admired her long, tanned legs extending from her tight khaki shorts, her full breasts straining the thin material of her matching top. She leaned back in her seat, seeming to know that my eyes were absorbing the sight of her. The crisp morning air had her nipples clearly outlined through the fabric. She had topped off her khaki outfit with a red scarf tied around her neck and a pair of binoculars adorning her chest. Her straight, dark brown hair was pulled tightly behind her in a long ponytail. She reminded me of a sexy park ranger. biologist or birdwatcher.

"You're lookin' good yourself, Marla," I said, embarrassed, then with more confidence, added, "Great, in fact!"

"Well, thanks. Hey, I hope I didn't disturb you," she said, her eyes momentarily darting to my tented shorts. "I wasn't trying to intrude, or interrupt."

I looked down to see my culprit pushing out the fabric of my shorts. "No, Marla, it's, you're fine..." I stammered. "Sorry about that. It's just the average everyday, um, y'know, mornin' wood, I guess." I pushed my stiff rod down against my leg but that did little to conceal its size from her stare. "Sorry, I thought I had the place to myself out here. Buster's around here some..."

"No need to be sorry, Will," she interrupted. "And I'd say it looks to be quite a bit above average," she added in a lower voice. Then she laughed nervously and said, "Anyway, I know what happens to you boys in the morning. I've seen the same thing with Frank, although, I must say, Will..." she trailed off, embarrassed herself.

"Well, I just hope I didn't traumatize you, Marla. I really didn't expect to see anyone else out here."

"Not at all. No need to apologize for being a healthy, red-blooded male. I get it. It's not as if it's because you're happy to see me or anything," she laughed.

"I wouldn't want you to think," I started, "...that I'm a creep or anything."

"Oh please, Will!" she cried. "Perish the thought. You've been a great neighbor and good friend to Frank. I only wish I've had the chance to get to know you better all this time."

"Me, too. I still remember the last time I saw you guys, between the holidays last year. You and Frank had some neighbors over. Seems like centuries ago now."

"Oh yeah, that was a fun night!" she exclaimed. "I was so excited to entertain and celebrate the holidays with all our neighbors."

"You were the perfect hostess as I recall, and looked very elegant in your sparkly black party dress."

She was now staring at me questioningly, probably wondering why I'd remember the exact outfit she'd had on that night 10 months ago now. I tried to recover and change the subject. "It was a fun evening, thank you, Marla. I had no idea that in addition to being a marvelous host, you were also a nature enthusiast!"

"Oh, I love early morning kayaking, especially when it's misty like this," she said in her musical voice. The sweeping gesture she gave to indicate our placid surroundings pulled her blouse tighter around her breasts. "Plus, kayaking keeps me, somewhat anyway, in decent shape," she added, patting her tummy. Then, with a mischievous smile and a glance at my package, she said, "And you just never know what kind of wildlife will pop up out here."

"Yeah, gotta love the wildlife," I agreed, missing her meaning. Instead, I thought dejectedly that now I'd have plenty of time to watch the wildlife around here. Thankfully, feeling glum, I also felt my embarrassing outstretched pole finally calm down,

She broke the awkward silence that followed, "I'm surprised to see you out here on a weekday, Will. Taking the day off today? Any special plans?"

"No, I'm afraid not," I said sadly, my rigid member completely deflating. "I got placed on furlough last Friday. As of today, I'm officially out of work."

"Aw, honey, I'm so sorry," she consoled.

"Yeah, it's a weird feeling. I haven't been without a job for as long as I can remember. Now I gotta apply for unemployment and find a new job. That is, if I have any hope of keeping this place."

"Wow, you seem pretty down about things," she observed. "You gonna be okay?"

"Yeah, I'll be okay. I'm just kinda worried right now. The uncertainty and all. I'm sorry, Marla. I don't mean to burden you with my problems. My bad."

"That's okay, Will. That's what neighbors are for, to help each other through the tough times."

She paused thoughtfully for a moment, then declared with a bright smile, "Tell you what! I'm going to bring you over some of my world famous Marla's muffins! Browned on the outside, moist and warm on the inside. I'll bet they'll cheer you right up. That sound good to you, Will?"

"It really does, Marla. Thanks." I replied and felt my cock stir again.

She glanced toward my groin and noticed the movement. She said excitedly, "Okay, just try to relax. I'll be back in about a half hour."

She pushed off the dock and paddled downstream to her place down the way. I watched her deftly beach her kayak, step out gracefully, and bound up the hill into her house, her tanned limbs contrasted against the light colored khaki. She turned to give a quick wave as she disappeared from sight, seeing that I was indeed watching her, smiling.

Invigorated with renewed hope, I showered, shaved, dressed, and started a fresh pot of coffee. As the steaming brew dripped into the carafe, I thought about Marla's muffins. 'Browned on the outside, moist and warm on the inside,' she had described. That sounded just exactly like what I needed,

I didn't want to be presumptuous, but it seemed like this attractive neighbor maybe wanted me to enjoy a little more than just her muffins. She certainly looked good, perched up her kayak, busting out of her tight shorts and blouse. 'Cute lady,' I thought and pondered the possibilities. Although, I also wondered what her husband might think about all that, and worse, what he might do about it. I didn't need to screw my life up any more at this point, nor theirs.

'Get a grip, Will,' I chided myself. 'You're not all that anyway, pal. She was just being nice and that's probably all there is to it. She's rich and married, and you're poor and, well, you're just you. Settle down and think straight.'

I vowed to myself that I would behave like a gentleman, then briefly thought about her husband Frank again, him off to work while I'm here, unemployed, with his wife. I decided to ask her about him if things, by chance, did heat up like I kind of hoped they would. But then again, maybe I was just imagining it all. Who the hell knew?

Interrupting my thoughts, I heard her knock at door. Holding it open, she glided past me with a pan covered by a towel. She quickly said, "Hi there!" as she scurried toward the kitchen, carrying the pan like it was too hot to handle. Her butt jiggled nicely in her tight shorts, I couldn't help but notice, as I followed her into the kitchen. "And you made fresh coffee!" she exclaimed. "How thoughtful!"

She laid the pan on a trivet, gestured dramatically and announced, "I give you Marla's special, sure-to-cheer-you-up and satisfy-your-tummy, just-out-of-the-oven, fresh baked muffins!" The steam rose when she whisked away the towel.

"Mmmm, they smell so good," I said with closed eyes as i leaned forward and inhaled deeply.

"Come closer. Here, sit down," she said, and motioned me to my chair. "Let Marla take care of everything."

I took a seat while she quickly grabbed a plate, the butter, and two mugs of piping hot coffee. Setting them down in front of me, she seated herself at the table. I watched her and sipped my coffee as she picked up a muffin and held it out to me.

"Now, watch this," she said, and gently pulled the muffin apart. The lightly browned crust easily separated to expose the warm center, from which fragrant steam wafted. I leaned in to inhale the exquisite aroma. I looked past the open muffin held in her outstretched hands to admire her cleavage peaking out from within her blouse. She set the halves down on the plate and smoothly buttered them. She slid the plate over to me, saying, "Here. Try this, I think you'll like it."

"I'll bet I will," I replied, breaking off a piece and drawing it to my mouth. She watched me with anticipation, hands tightly clasped in her lap, leaning toward me, bright eyed and smiling. I nibbled on the outside and savored the perfectly baked crust. "Browned on the outside, just like you said," I said. "Sweet and delicious. Is that a hint of sea salt and cinnamon I detect?"

"I'm impressed," she said giddily and pressed her clasped hands deeper into her lap. "You have a very sensitive pallet, I see!"

Feeling her gaze on me, I moved to the center and licked it tentatively. "Mmmm, tastes even better inside," I said in a low voice and gently nibbled my way in, my lips smeared with melted butter. "Warm and moist. Downright mouth-watering," I said after swallowing the morsel.

"Glad you like," she smiled and watched me relish the rest of my muffin with delight. She watched me closely for a while as I savored the delicious pastry and licked the butter off my lips. Then, standing up, she announced, "You just enjoy all of those you want, Will. Marla's gonna move on to the next phase of your Monday morning beat-the-blues therapy session, okay?"

I nodded and reached for the other half of the warm, buttered muffin as she moved around behind me and began to rub the tops of my shoulders. I immediately felt relaxation wash over me. As she kneaded my flesh deeper, I felt the tension release and groaned in pleasure.

"Sounds like you're enjoying this, Will. Here, let's make this better," she said. "Let's get this shirt off. It's in my way." I wanted to ask about Frank then, but voiced no objection as she reached down to my waist and pulled the t-shirt up and over my head. Her hands immediately returned to my shoulders, then began to deftly rove all over my back and arms, kneading the tense muscles she found along the way.

I moaned, "Oh, Marla, this feels great." Her artful touch soon caused my member to stir inside my shorts. I wasn't sure if she noticed it this time, since I was sitting down, but I didn't care. Her massage felt wonderful.

"Glad I could raise your spirits on this otherwise gloomy day, neighbor," she said cheerfully as she worked. Maybe she had noticed.

Her hands reached down and worked my knotted muscles from my tailbone all the way up to the base of my neck, then back down again, evaporating any stress that had tensed them up.

"Mmm" I murmured and nibbled my second muffin, this one plain. She continued to apply her soothing touch to my back. I held up the last morsel and said "I wanted to try one of your muffins with nothing on it at all. Naked, if you will," before popping it into my mouth. I didn't know how she would react to my innuendos, but it was fun to flirt with this beauty and my swelling cock told me it was hoping for more, too.

"Ooh, Will!" she squealed and giggled, quite girlishly for such a mature woman. "Naked, huh? Hey, buddy boy, speaking of naked, it's time to move this therapy session to an environment that's more conducive to a thorough massage, and I mean thorough. I can't believe how tense you are, and I can't get to nearly all the spots I need to with you in this darn chair. C'mon, let's go!"

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https://blog.castelli-cycling.com/2017/11/03/ryder-hesjedal-fall-riding-with-the-alpha-ros/

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