Strangelove - Part 12
As the sun set on Friday, the fifteenth of April, Jessica waited behind a dozen customers at the post office. She was last in line. In her hands was a foot-high stack of tax returns, ready to postmark. The clubhouse turn of an arduous, gut-wrenching and exhausting race called tax season was in sight.
When the last piece of mail was processed and tossed brusquely into a shipping crate, she could finally breathe again.
Unencumbered and behind the wheel of her car in the now-empty parking lot, she reclined against the seat. She took a half-dozen deep breaths before turning the key in the ignition. This tax season had nearly killed her and her peers, but the firm had processed nearly three times the volume of the year before. Her job security was increasing by the moment.
Peter’s face was on display when her phone buzzed to life in her purse. “Hey,” she answered listlessly. “I made it.”
“You made it. I knew you would. I’m so proud of you.”
She grunted. “I’m so tired. Literally every cell in my body is done.”
“Head to my place. I’ll be there in ten minutes. We can celebrate.”
“I really should head home. I’m not sure I’ll...”
“Just… please, Jessica. I’m closer to the post office anyway. Come to me, k?”
She sat up and put the car into drive. “Okay, okay, I’m on my way. Give me twenty.”
“Great, see you then.”
He hung up and she tossed her phone back in her bag. She wasn’t sure she could handle a night out with him. She wasn’t sure she could handle a night in with him. But going home by herself meant a night of loneliness and dissatisfaction, a reheated frozen dinner and a glass of mediocre chardonnay.
His premier condo complex came into view as she turned off Main Street. His income included hazard pay and shift differentials, edging his salary up over double what she made. She pulled into the guest spot alongside his white crossover SUV. It had been months since she’d been here, she realized, stepping out to the curb. The blooming landscaping, freshly painted fences and power washed shutters made his neighborhood so much nicer than the dimly lit side street she lived on.
At his doorstep, before she could even ring, he swung the door open and pulled her inside and into a tight hug. She wheezed against his chest, returning the hug with gentler arms.
“You made it. You made it through,” he cheered. “You must be elated.”
“Sure,” she replied simply. “It’s an accomplishment, one I train for all year.”
“It’s a herculean chore, digging through all the financial crap people dump on you.”
He stepped back to take her coat after closing the door. He was wearing the plain white tee he always wore under his uniform and a pair of hunter green khakis. His hair was still styled in the usual backward sweep, and he seemed more chipper than usual after twelve hours of rescues.
Taking him in, her brows nearly touched. “Looks like you had a good day today. You’re not even tired.”
“Nope, I’m off the hook for the next few weeks. I’m training someone. He’s a good hire, smart and with good instincts, but there’s a lot to learn before I can turn him loose.”
“I bet,” she replied. “It’s late. Have you eaten?”
“Not yet, but I was thinking,” he murmured, edging closer to slide his hands around her middle. “Maybe we could shower first then head out? Or I can order in and we can just stay put. You’ve had it rough the last few weeks.”
“You can go first,” she told him, slipping out of his grasp. “I need a drink.”
His glance slipped to the floor as she strode past him and into his kitchen. He heard the fridge door open and close again before he found the motivation to follow. He stood in the doorway, watching as she downed half a bottle of water in five swift gulps. “No, I meant we should. Like, together.”
“Why?” She asked, lowering the bottle to her side. “I’m sure you’d rather have the water to yourself. Besides I don’t have anything to change into.”
“You left a few things here,” Peter answered, approaching her again. “Nothing fancy but enough for me.”
“I’m all right, really. You go ahead. I’m going to sit. My feet are killing me, and I have emails to check.”
He nodded and turned away, striding off down the hall.
She heard the shower start up and the curtain slide over the bar. Knowing he would be occupied for at least a few minutes, she perched on a barstool at his kitchen island and opened her email app. She chose Garrett’s most recent email, sent three days before, and pressed reply.
Hey. I know you hate when I apologize but I still am going to. Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. But every tax form I had is now in the mail and I’m ready to meet up again. Actually, to be honest… I want to do more than meet up. I want release. I want to know how far you can push me. And I want to show you how good a girl I can be. Schedule my session and tell me how excited you are for it.
She reread her words, feeling the swell of heat course through her body to her lap as her legs crossed. She pressed send before she could second-guess and redact a single word. She replied to a few other messages before a reply was received, Garrett’s name appearing as the sender.
Not nearly as excited as you’ll be once I get started. Tomorrow at 4p. Meet me at the business. Don’t make me wait. Don’t pull your hair back. Oh, and Jessica? I want you full to the brim. Keep your hands to yourself.
Her eyes widened at the message, excitement and lust tangling into a dense web in her belly.
Her head tipped back, her eyes closing as she imagined his fingers on her throat, his lips at her neck, his riding crop slapped against her thigh.
The ringing clink of the shower curtain slipping back across the pole snapped her back to reality. She closed her email browser and silenced her ringer, tucking the phone back into her purse. The guilt over these illicit messages was ebbing, replaced rapidly by intoxicating temptation.
“Honey, would you grab me a beer?” She heard Peter call from the hallway.
“Yep, give me a second.”
She rose and made her way to the fridge, grabbing a green-hued bottle of his lager of choice from the fridge’s door. She scoured his top drawer for a bottle opener.
Suddenly, his warm frame was pressed up against hers, pinning her against the cabinet doors.
She could feel how excited he was, how swollen he felt against her lower back. He gripped her wrists and pinned them to the counter, edging his face into her hair to whisper by her ear.
“I was just thinking about you in the shower.”
She sighed, a mixture of exhaustion and disinterest souring the sound. “Peter, I’m…”
“I’m tired, overwhelmed and sore. I’m sorry, maybe later.”
His palms loosened on her wrists, his body shifting backward to put space between them. “Right, I understand. Let me get changed and I’ll order food for us. You’re probably too tired to go out.”
“Yeah, and I think I’m just going to head home after we eat. I want to sleep in my own bed, for longer than a few hours, for once. I’ll be in a much better mood tomorrow.”
“Sure, makes sense,” he uttered in a low tone. He slipped back to the bedroom without another word.
She released a deep breath, dropping her elbows to the counter and resting her face in her palms. Her mind kept flashing back to the red room, the soft glow of the lighting, the fireplace in the corner, the Sybian waiting to be sat on. She knew it wasn’t fair to be so distracted, so short with him, but her mind and libido was in overdrive.
When Peter returned to the living room in a fresh tee and jeans, he found Jessica on his second-floor patio, her head in her hands. Without qualm, he stepped up, wrapped her in his arms and held her as she trembled.