Chapter 3: The Candy Heart Fish - Part 2

“Here’s home sweet home!” Stanley has a gorgeous early 1980s house with interesting angles, lots of south-facing windows, and a view of Lake Cayuga. “It has 13 acres and four bedrooms. Too big for me after my boys move out next year, but I haven’t decided to sell.” He leaves me in the foyer and heads downstairs. He quickly comes back up.

“The boys are here. Let’s go somewhere else. Here, we'll go to one of my favorite places on my land.”

We drive along a road that branches off his drive and eventually come to a boat launch with a sailboat tied up on the edge of Cayuga Lake. A very small cabin sits off to the side, a hot tub sunk into the wooden deck along the back and east side.

Stanley holds open the cabin door for me. “You can see, this is really just a hide-away.” The cabin’s one room has a very small kitchenette, a table, and a wood stove in the corner. A huge leather couch, though, sits facing a window that almost fills the wall and looks over the lake.

“Wow. I'd live here instead of up the hill.” I drop my purse on the table. “No bed?” I ask without really thinking about what I'm saying.

“The couch pulls out into a sofa bed.” Stanley has wrapped his arms around me and gives me a kiss. “Let’s walk along the lake and watch the sun set,” he whispers in my ear.

We leave our shoes on the deck next to the hot tub and walk down to the narrow beach. Walking along, Stanley tightly holding my hand, we talk about our pasts. I have not felt this comfortable and relaxed all evening.

When we return to the cabin, Stanley steers us towards the car instead of the hot tub. He reaches into the trunk and draws out a comforter which he spreads on the grass. “I keep this in the car just in case. Sit down here next to me.”

“Um, should I go get my purse?” Jane’s description of how to put on a condom runs through my mind.

“Don't worry about that. We'll remember if before we leave, I'm sure.”

“Well, where’s your toilet?” The renewed potential for having something happen more than snuggling has suddenly prompted a need, and maybe I can grab my purse on my way.

“There’s an outhouse around the west side of the cabin. It’s very clean and easier than running plumbing out here. Just make sure to sprinkle some ash into the hole when you're done.” I start to have second thoughts but suddenly I sneeze removing my uncertainty. Since the outhouse isn’t near the front door, though, I have to leave my purse where it is on the couch.

I return and settle on the comforter next to him. “You're right, it is very clean. I never realized an outhouse could be anything other than the smelly things at Girl Scout camp!”

The stars reflect on the lake’s water, and the pines supply a quiet sound from the breeze and a delicious smell. I think about the cabin just behind us and the fact that we are sitting out here – not even in the hot tub – instead. Parking again. Maybe this is the only way guys today have uncommitted sex. Still, this parking experience as compared to the last time is one step up in terms of physical comfort. Stanley turns my face towards his, and we fall back kissing long and deep, our tongues moving back and forth across each other.  I've loved French kissing ever since my first boyfriend in ninth grade introduced it to me. After a few minutes, he rolls onto his back.

“Come here,” he gestures, pulling on my arm. He draws me onto his lap and we kiss again. Slowly he moves down along my jaw, down my neck, and then lightly runs the tip of his tongue along the low neckline on my dress, setting my breasts tingling. He undoes my bra while kissing my cleavage. He pushes the sleeves off my shoulders and draws my breasts out, lifting each one to his mouth. His actions send me back to high school and the sexual tension created when reaching second base.

Ice cream cone! screams in my head. Your purse is in the cabin! answers back. “Do you have a condom?” I attempt to use a throaty whisper.

But in reply he reaches his arms around me, does up my bra, and pulls my dress back over my shoulders. As he reaches up to smooth my hair around my face, he says “Let’s wait on that. God knows it’s not that I don't want to. It’s getting late, though, I need to get you back to your car and then drive home again, and the anticipation of what might have happened will only increase the pleasure of when we really do it.” He pulls me down on top of him for another kiss and then rolls out from under my body.

The interrupted plan leaves me a bit flustered. Here I had gotten my courage up and then he brings it all to a stop. Yet there’s no way to change his mind and try out Jane’s instructions as Stanley stands up, pulls me up with him, and folds the comforter. 

Driving at a more normal speed back to the restaurant, Stanley talks about his boys, his work, and his childhood in Ithaca. I’m still a little stunned and disappointed at how things have gone, but it’s nice that he’s talking instead of blaring hard metal music. He drops me off and I get the Miata back to Stacey and Dan’s. Stacey comes out as I turn off the headlights.

“Soooo? Have a good time?”

“Um, yeah. It really was. It didn't go the way I thought it would, though. I wasn't sure I wanted to have sex with him tonight until we got to that point in the evening. And then he stopped!” I almost start to cry.

“That sounds like a gentlemanly thing to do, if you ask me.”

“Yeah. I guess so. I just thought… Well, maybe there'll be another time. And thanks for the loan.” I give Stacey a hug and get into my VW.

“Sweet dreams,” Stacey calls as I drive out.

An email message from Stanley waits for me when I get up the next morning:
Good morning, Pretty Lady. It was so awesome last night when you were sitting on my lap.  As my eyes scanned upwards the view was impressive: first your breasts, then your neck and jawline, those warm eyes and lastly the twinkling stars framing your hair.  What a memory, I owe it all to you.  Thanks again, Stanley

Now that’s romantic. I craft a reply:
And thank you for last evening. On the way home, I kept thinking of how lovely you are. Your genuine and heartfelt kindness was so daunting - I don't often find myself with men who are "available" emotionally.  Maybe that was part of my confusion at the end... I loved the time "parking" and your palpable enjoyment of what we were doing and what you wanted to do.  You make me feel sexy as much as being sexy yourself. So where do we go now?  I think I'd like very much to hear from you this week; please take the initiative and call. I'm very happy we have begun this friendship and fun relationship.

Not too desperate even if it’s wordy. I hit send.

I’m going to work today! I scold myself. Another email from Stanley pops up, though. 
So, Sexy one, last night didn't scare you off? I will definitely call you soon. I'd love to suggest we get together tonight, but I do have the boys here for the weekend and they have granted me the rare option of spending the day together. Have a good Saturday, beautiful. Stanley

I’m really glad I decided to give this a try.

“What are you doing tonight? Dan had to leave today for a conference in Cleveland and I'm all alone” Stacey asks when she calls this afternoon. “I also am dying to hear more about last evening!”
“Like I said, last night was good except for that little thing about being a bit disappointed after I'd gotten my nerves up. I even was ready to try out Jane’s instruction that I should pretend I’m licking an ice cream cone when I give Stanley a blow job.” That image has come back after the emails that morning. “I worried I might not hear from him again, but I got a really romantic email this morning and a promise to set up a date for later this week.”

“Well, that sounds all positive. And an ice cream cone? Leave it to Jane to come up with that one. I was told once that it was best to treat a guy’s penis like a chocolate-covered banana but to only suck off the chocolate and leave the banana.”

“Between you and Jane, I'm never going to be able to eat dessert without getting turned on. So what do you want to do tonight, since dessert is now out of the question?”

“We could go to a movie; I heard the Art-Z has a wonderfully obscure but deep French film.”  We laugh at the same time.  Things being "deep" has been our mutual joke ever since Stacey, our friend Karen, and I went to see Annie Hall in 10th grade. They complained that the whole thing didn't make sense.  I, on the other hand, had loved the oddness and I tried to explain it all until Stacey and Karen both interrupted me in unison: “Oh Jackie, you're so DEEP!”

"It’s a plan, then. I'll come by and pick you up at 6:00. Maybe we can sit in the lobby and have ‘pretty people coffee’ or walk around the art gallery upstairs.”

After we get to the theater, Stacey and I take our lattes while we check out the collection of contemporary graffiti artists’ work. Stacey keeps pointing out how “deep” this must all be as we create various silly insights to the different pieces.

“Well, fancy meeting you here.” I turn around and there’s David, his eyes twinkling. “Do you like this show?” Stacey looks at him and then me. 

“Yes, the show’s great!  This is my friend Stacey Bryant and we're here for the movie.  Movies must be a theme for you and me.” I sound like a rambling idiot.
“Hi Stacey. I’m David.” He shakes Stacy’s hand, introducing himself since I've forgotten. Stacey puts on her wide-eyed innocent look that turns into an “Oh, I see” look when she glances back at me.  I ignore her.

“I forgot you manage the art here. How’s Sophie doing?”
“As excited to go for walks as ever.  Maybe I'll stop by next time we're out for a stroll around the neighborhood.”

Stacey listens to our banter a couple minutes more and then interrupts.“Oh look at the time! We have to get downstairs!”

“Well, enjoy it! Glad to meet you, Stacey," and David walks over to another couple.
As soon as we're out of sight, Stacey grabs me. “Ok, now spill!  Who is that?  You two seem very chummy and you completely ignored me when you were talking to him! AND what about Stanley?”  Stacey’s interrogation begins as we buy our tickets and continues while we find our seats.

My answers rattle off in a stream: “He has nothing to do with Stanley and that part of my life. He’s just a neighbor friend.”  “Actually, he was the one who helped me find my place.”  “Yes he’s cute and nice, but he’s also taken; Sophie is his live-in girlfriend’s dog.”  “We just keep running into each other; that’s all!” “No, I'm not leaving anything out.”  “Boy you're nosey, even if you are my best and oldest friend.”  I stuff a handful of popcorn into my mouth to keep from having to say anything more.

Luckily the previews interrupt Stacey’s grilling. Soon I get absorbed into the movie plot and reading the subtitles and I can ignore Stacey’s suggestion of attraction to David since it’s a moot point. Instead I think about the night before and hope there’s a phone message waiting for me after the movie ends.

Posted by Jackie Connolly

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