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Dark Kisses Pt. 02

Posted on : 2012-01-28 09:49:16.236303

Copyright @ calibeachgirl and Jim Crowell
All rights reserved, 2011

**********

Chapter 4: I left my heart...

Carolyn had a smile on her face until she went into the kitchen to fix dinner for Kendra and herself. Opening the freezer, she looked to see what there was... frozen burritos... corn dogs... God, she thought, is there anything in here worth eating? How has my grocery shopping become so skewed to a teenage diet? She looked at her butt's reflection in the back door window, wondering how she looked to David...

"Kendra! Do you want corn dogs or burritos?" God, what a choice... what am I doing to my health, eating all this junk food? to Kendra's and Michael's? She ran her fingers around her waist, wondering how she felt to him.

"I don't care, Mom. Whatever you want," Kendra yelled back from her bedroom, intent on listening to Gym Class Heroes.

Great, thought Carolyn. It's on me. Let's see what else we have. I've got to go grocery shopping... how did I let it get like this? This is awful.

She opened the pantry door, peered inside and then pulled out a can of olives and a bag of croutons. From the refrigerator, she picked up a sad and lonely head of lettuce, what was left of the tomatoes and a couple of boiled eggs. A healthy salad... well, maybe not so healthy after putting on the dressing but much better than a soggy, micro-waved corn dog or two. I'll go easy on the bleu cheese, that's all.

After dinner, Carolyn sat down and started a shopping list for the next day. She walked back to the pantry and looked again, realizing the empty shelves were damning evidence of her frustration with life before David. She was hot-faced ashamed and started writing and writing and writing.

Michael came home an hour later and she made him a sandwich with the last boiled egg.

At Costco the next afternoon, she soon found herself pushing one cart and pulling another, stopping every time there was a sample to be tasted. Cases of food, boxes of food, cans of food... there was something new in each aisle that caught her attention and she just had to have. Maybe, she thought, getting the second cart wasn't such a good idea, after all.

"$438.43, please."

AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

**********

"Wow, Mom! Fish and steak fries... what's the occasion?" Kendra sat down, watching her mother pull dinner out of the oven. "Grandmother says 'hello.'"

"And, ice cream for dessert, too," Carolyn answered. "We're going to be eating healthier from now on, especially that the season is almost over. How is grandma?" I just don't know how I'm going to pay for it, is all.

Just then, Michael came in. "What smells so... food! Wow, Mom, what happened?" He plopped down on his chair and picked up a fork, pulling the rest of the baked fries onto his plate. "Thanks, Mom." He started to shovel food into his mouth.

"David got us all tickets to the game and we're flying up," Kendra informed her brother. "And... we're going to San Francisco, too."

Michael was quiet and then he spoke directly at his sister. "Oh? David did, did he? It's David, now?" He finished his dinner in silence and went to his room, leaving his sister alone at the table and his mother at the sink.

"Well..." said Kendra, "that went well... he's SO stupid, Mom."

"Kendra!" Carolyn put her head onto her palm and stared at her plate, knowing that Michael was going to be a problem. What could she do, torn between her son and her lover? If she let Michael control her life, she would become a lonely, old woman always wondering 'what if'? He was going to break her heart if she let him.

Kendra put her hand on her mother's back but Carolyn just cried, "leave me alone, just leave me alone."

The next morning, Carolyn was still there sound asleep on her arms when Kendra came into the kitchen. She resolved to speak to her brother, once more. His attitude was going to ruin everyone's lives if he continued.

***********

"Love is so hard to find," the television psychologist said, "and when it arrives, go with it." The show went to a commercial break, the advertisement showing the benefits of Cialis for 'when the mood arises.'

The show came back on. Carolyn sat on her sofa, listening to the woman as she spoke of lost loves and later-in-life marriages. She thought of her own marriage to John. There were good times but there were SO many bad times.

"When you're older," she continued, "you know what you want in life and are much more mature in your outlook. No one wants to go to bed alone but don't go to bed with someone you don't really, totally love. And, watch your money. Ladies, those of you who've lost your husband... wouldn't he want you to be happy in life?"

She thought of her lover, how quickly she had fallen for him and realized she didn't even have a picture of David. She knew he didn't have one of her and determined to change that as soon as possible. She had to watch this show, more often. When it was over, she went upstairs looking for a photograph she could frame and give to him. While she was going through photo albums, she thought about what he had asked her... twice.

**********

In his otherwise empty house, David was staring at everything he had spread on his kitchen island counter. He didn't know why, but the impulse to bake a loaf of bread had struck on the way home and he had stopped at the grocery store. On a cookie tray, he had a large ball of dough waiting to be put into the oven.

The oven beeped and he slid the tray in, hoping for the best. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

That night, he had fresh, hot bread for dinner. That's all he ate, with melted butter and strawberry jam. The flavor was so different from anything he ever tasted before. He wished Carolyn was there with him, sitting at the kitchen table, maybe Kendra and Michael, too. He knew he was going to be sorry in the morning but he didn't care. It was just too good to stop, like making love to her. He licked at a dripping bit of jam. God, this is so good...

It was close to ten o'clock when he called Carolyn. "Guess what I did?" he asked, still high on his kitchen accomplishment.

"What?"

His happy mood instantly disappeared when he found her to be unsettled.

"Carolyn, what's the matter? You can tell me." What was happening with her? Her mood swings were beginning to worry him.

"It's Michael. He's... I don't know what he is... he's angry... at me."

Silence. He could hear her start to cry.

"Because of me, isn't it?" Shit! That kid is going to be a bigger problem than I thought. What to do? What to do? "It'll work out. Please, stop crying, baby, you know I love you. I'll talk with him and try and explain."

"David, it's not just you."

"It's all about his father, isn't it? He has trust issues. I understand that. I'll do the best I can but I don't want to lose you. You have no idea how much I love you." He looked at the bedside alarm. "Tonight, can you dream of me? And the life we can have together?"

Through her sniffles, he could just make out her acceptance of his wish. "Good night, David. I'll talk to you tomorrow."

His phone went silent and he turned it off. It was late and he was more tired than he realized. Though he liked to listen to the radio at night, he fell asleep before the KFI eleven o'clock news even began.

She couldn't sleep and put "Bridget Jones' Diary" into her bedroom DVD player.

**********

His anticipated upset stomach the next morning never occurred, much to his relief. He wished he had saved some bread for a sandwich and laughed at his greedy appetite the night before.

David went into the garage and picked up his box of coprolites, knowing full well his students' reaction once he told them what they were. His oceanography students were going to design model surfboards from balsa. Barbie was going to go surfing, once again... and the geology students were still working on the massive amount of data generated from the USGS following the earthquakes. You never knew where life lessons were going to come from.

"Kendra, may I see you after class, please?"

"Yes, Mr. Christy."

He never had been a clock watcher, always speaking until the very last second, sometimes getting cut off by the bell, always demanding they stay seated until he had finished talking. Never had the last five minutes taken so long to end.

"It's about Michael, isn't it?"

"Yes, I'm afraid so. Your mother was crying last night." The memory of her tears was still raw, still fresh in his mind. Is this what love is all about?

"She was crying since dinner time. He's been very rude... ever since..."

"I started seeing your mother?" What else can I say? It's the truth.

"Yes. I can talk to you at lunch." Kendra headed for the door.

"All right, I'll wait here." He watched her walk out the door, wondering if she would be in his life after graduation.

The noon bell rang and Kendra waited until his classroom was empty of other students. She shared the top of his desk and opened her cold-pak lunch box. "Look what I've got," she said, pulling out a banana, a yogurt and a nicely done roast beef sandwich with lettuce and tomato.

David looked at his own meager offerings and laughed. "I'm going to have to get your mom to fix my lunch from now on."

"I don't know what happened, but she went shopping at Costco and brought home what she called 'healthy' food. So, now, we're eating healthy. Want my banana? I don't like bananas."

"Kendra, dear, what am I going to do about Michael? He doesn't seem to like me, I guess."

"That's not so much it as he's SO angry at our father for not coming back. There's a lot of anger and disappointment."

"And, not with you?"

"I had Mom; you know, for girls it's different and Michael grew up without a father... and, I like you and he doesn't. He and you are just so diametrically opposed and when I began to like oceanography, it made him dislike you even further."

That Wednesday, the school played their traditional rivals in the quarter finals. When they walked in the junior college's gym, David was amazed by the 6000 fans already there. Two crowds, separated by a valley floor of a basketball court, ready to kill each other given half a chance.

"Surprised?" Kendra asked.

"Oh, yeah," he said, nervously. He decided it was smarter to be quiet than look any more ignorant than he had already. He had shut out so much of his students' life and the tribal intensity between the two schools brought him back to the Korean DMZ.

Carolyn took his hand and pointed to their seats halfway up. "We're over there," she said, bringing him back to the present. School colors and gang colors all blended into a deadly palette of reds and blues.

As they walked up the bleachers, fifty or so of his students stood up. "Hey, Mr. Christy! Good lookin' out!" They gave him fist pumps and he smiled, self-consciously and gave a bit of a wave. It never occurred to him what the possible fallout would be if their romance became public. So far, though, he hoped everything just looked friendly. How do I get myself into these problems? he wondered and then looked at Carolyn and knew.

He tried to pay attention to the game but still found the referees' calls too confusing. It seemed every time the players were running from one end of the court to the other, throwing the ball around the key as they called it, the whistle was blown and play came to a halt. No wonder the last two minutes took a lifetime. The squeak of the players' shoes against the hardwood was driving him crazy, and the stone-cold stares from across the way were chilling. I spent three years in Korea so these kids could do this?

He took out his phone and texted Carolyn. "I LOVE YOU," he sent.

His phone chirped. "I LUV U 2"

"HOW MUCH LONGER WITH THIS GAME?" he texted back.

"2 LONG LOL"

"LATE NIGHT TREAT?"

"WHAT U GOT IN MIND?"

"NOT THAT. ICE CREAM?"

"K"

David looked at Kendra, jumping up and down with the rest of the crowd as the ball changed hands during the night. He looked at the scoreboard clock... almost a minute left and the team had a good lead, he thought. He had read two books about coaching basketball and waited for the inevitable fouling to take place in a desperate attempt to gain control of the ball by the other team. He just wished he understood why the refs were always calling fouls. The playing looked good to him but he knew he was just as naïve about the game as he was before the books.

When the game-ending buzzer finally sounded, Michael's team won by fourteen points... the last several courtesy of blatant fouls that even David understood as one player went down and it looked like both bleachers were going to empty onto the court.

"So, Michael..." said David, "who do you think you're going to play Friday?"

Michael looked up from his ice cream. "Probably Lincoln Prep from San Diego..."

David tried his best to draw the young man out but to no avail and he eventually gave up. He looked down at his melted ice cream and put his spoon down, his appetite gone and at a loss at what to do.

**********

"Saw you last night at the game. Was that Mrs. Smith with you?" The short, pudgy, disagreeable math teacher sat at the faculty room lunch table, a smirk on his face.

"What's you point, Jones?" David was tired of the little man; he was a yapping dog fussing with his pants cuff. He reached into his mailbox and pulled out the memos there.

"No reason to get all huffy about it... I was just saying..."

"Too damn much. Shut the... shut up and mind your own business." David looked at the rest of the teachers there, shocked looks still on their faces. He walked out and down the long hallway to his classroom at the other end of the campus.

Jones never knew how close he came to losing his teeth.

**********

Saturday at midnight, Carolyn found herself standing in line with David, waiting to see "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." All around her were people dressed insanely and when the film finally played and they jumped up to dance...

"Oh, my God," she said, just watching the wild gyrations in the aisles. When she was hit in the head with a piece of toast, she stood up and threw it back, starting a barrage of food, popcorn and empty drink cups flying through the theatre.

"Three o'clock in the morning and we're having ice cream sundaes." She licked the whipped cream from her spoon.

"Well... it IS Sunday morning, after all." He gave her the whipped cream and cherry from his chocolate fudge milk shake.

"Sorry we got thrown out."

"Baby, you've got some popcorn still in your hair." She self-consciously looked around the almost empty restaurant. "And, you wait until now before you tell me?" She brushed through her dark curls, found the offending food and threw it at her lover. "Silly white boy..."

"Chocolate girl..." He opened his mouth just enough to run his tongue over his lips. "Easter's coming and I'm going to get a bite."

"Stop that, people are looking."

"There's nobody here but some cops." David waved at the two laughing policemen eating breakfast. "We'll go when they leave. I haven't ever been here this late and don't want to take you out in the parking lot... you know, just us."

He set his spoon down. "Carolyn, you know I love you and I'd like to take this to the next level."

"And, I love you, David, but what next level? We're already sleeping together."

"I'm asking you to marry me, Carolyn."

"Oh, David..." she said, hesitantly.

The police got up and David threw a ten on the table. "C'mon."

When she drove away from his house that morning, he realized she had never answered him... for the third time.

**********

When the team made it to the state finals, first thing Monday morning David phoned and bought three plane tickets on Southwest for Oakland and then called Carolyn. "I've got the tickets, honey. Pack your bags for Friday morning; we're all going to the game!"

"Oh, David, thank you! This will be so much fun." She was relieved, unsure whether he would be able to get tickets in time, unsure whether he'd want to spend so much money on watching a basketball game, unsure how she was so lucky but that he loved her, that she was sure.

"We'll rent a car and go to San Francisco the next day and fly back Sunday with the team," he assured her. "You'll... you'll both have a good time." And, so will I, he thought, lecherously, dreaming of her inviting, mocha-chocolate body waiting for him.

"It's been years since I've been there and it will be fantastic for Kendra. I think Michael is going to stay with his team, though. That's OK; we can always go back during the summer." Maybe, take in the wine country, too, he hoped. A prolonged honeymoon? He had the whole summer free. Who really knows what the future would bring?

Carolyn put her phone down. Without David's help, it had been unlikely they would have been able to attend the game if not impossible and then, like a guardian angel, he had filled their lives with hope... her life with hope... her life with love. She had so much to thank Kendra for but was still embarrassed how quickly she had gone to bed with him.

Late at night, when she thought of him, her fingers sought out and found just that special spot, bringing her a greater ecstasy than ever before. What a strange, magic hold he had on her.

**********

Tuesday afternoon, he was correcting another group of student essays when his cell rang.

"Hey, Baby, I missed you," she said. "You didn't call this morning... am I old news, already?"

"What? No, no, no... I just have a lot..." he stammered.

"I'm just playing with you, Baby..." Carolyn laughed. "Can you see me, tonight?"

"Uh, sure," he said, looking at the stack of papers on his kitchen table. "Where?" There was a knock on the door. "Wait a sec, there's someone at the door."

He opened the door and there she was, wearing a yellow raincoat and nothing else.

"Aren't you going to invite me in?"

"Shameless hussy... I've been looking for you."

He gazed at her in that intense way she had quickly come to know, all his attention focused completely on her and her heart began to beat in a response she couldn't control.

David took Carolyn's hand and led her from the living room to the bedroom, pulling the door closed as he did. Then, without hurry, he pulled her into his arms. He slid his hand around the nape of her neck, underneath her curls and drew her toward him as he moved to close the gap between them.

Carolyn went eagerly, if slowly, into his arms, ready and willing. David's white hands were strong and possessive on her dark shoulders and their warmth remained even as his hands lifted to touch her face with the same possessive assurance that she was his. His gaze held steady on hers, keeping her a willing participant, until the moment he bent his head and her eyes drifted closed.

Somewhere in her heart, she began to tremble as she had each time they came together. She breathed in his scent and then his mouth was on hers and her head was beating, her heart spinning.

His mouth was warm, moving over hers with a slow, potent seduction that made her body soften and sway toward his. She knew she didn't have a hope of resisting him.

Nothing made sense and nothing else mattered except his touch, his feel... nothing else mattered except his lips, moving against her full ones in small circles, luring her deeper into his kiss, making her aware that all the kisses she had ever had were nothing and that David was the only one who had the faintest idea how it should be done. She'd never been kissed so... thoroughly... or tenderly... or with such love.

He pulled back, keeping one hand braced against the wall, one hand curved around her waist... Carolyn noticed he wasn't too steady, either. She was sure his breathing was as shallow as her own and she thought it was his heartbeat she felt beneath her palm, pulsing hard and fast.
She thought she heard a little sound and dimly recognized it as coming from her. Every nerve in her body was alive, throbbing and there was a new heat inside her, surging beyond her ability to control. She was losing control. She had lost control. She responded helplessly, her mouth opening beneath his beneath the increasing force of his and when his tongue glided between her lips, the sensual possession of the caress was shockingly and wildly exciting.

"I had to make sure it wasn't my imagination," he whispered. Carolyn looked into his eyes, knowing what would happen, again. This wasn't supposed to happen, not like this, not this fast, not this sudden rush of desire, not after all these years alone.

His lips captured hers again, tasting her with tender, tantalizing nips and slow strokes of his tongue. Carolyn leaned into the kiss, almost swallowing him into her soul.

He'd never wanted someone as much as he did her. There was some magic spell on his soul and he couldn't have escaped even if he wanted to...

Her ebony arms went around his neck, and as she drew his head down to hers, David gave up to her sorcery. He only knew that her breath was sweet and warm and her lips were soft and warm and her body was warm and he could lose his life in it.

He picked her up and carefully carried her to the bed.

A new boldness blazed through Carolyn as she sank into the mattress and pulled David down with her. She was exactly where she wanted to be gave her nearly as much pleasure as the feel of his lips on hers, his arms around her, the hardness of his body pressing into hers. Even before John, no other man had ever filled her senses with this urgency. She wanted him. She wanted him. She wanted him. She wanted her David. She wanted to be naked in this bedroom, in his bed, with him. She wanted to make love with him and she wanted to wake up in the morning and find him still here beside her. She had wished David into her life and she was going to wish him into staying in her life, wish him into the husband she'd dreamed of having.

She watched David shed his pants and then felt his touch on her bare breasts as he put tantalizing circles with his tongue. He licked each willing nipple and then nibbled at the silken valley between them even as his hand slid across her stomach and down to stroke her thigh. Carolyn wanted to cry out her please in groaning repetitions of his name but his mouth closed over hers, silencing her, giving her a new taste of delight, a new sensation to distract the voices inside her, a new urgency to occupy her thoughts.

He loved her with his hands, covering every inch of her with his exploring touch and he loved her with his lips, trailing kisses over her dark skin until she was hot and wet and so needy she ached. She loved him with her fingertips, feeling the hardness of his body, the hair that covered his chest, the thick, hot desire of him that pulsed against her touch.

She stopped. His stroking hand had found a sensitive low spot and she couldn't think, much less move. Then David made love to her.

No more teasing caresses, no more playful touches... he kissed her hard and long and deep, replacing lighter touches with a sweeping hunger that demanded possession. All or nothing... he asked her body to respond and promised fulfillment in return. He took her surrender and allowed her to command his.

No part of her denied him access and when his full weight pressed her down and down into the smooth sheets, Carolyn took him inside herself... took his body into hers... took his lips with her own... took his passion and his need and in a single splendid moment, when there was only the beating of one heart, the singular stoke of one consuming passion, she gave him all the magic of her love, knowing she could never take it back.

She felt him move slowly into her, filling her again. She could feel herself stretch as he pushed further and then slid back, just a little, just enough before moving deeper. She moved against him, unwilling to wait, wanting him deep and hard and hot and as he pushed again, she grabbed him and pulled him all the way in and then moved her fingers to her own pleasure.

"Uuuhhhh," she moaned as he waited a moment and then together they began to move and then bounce as the mattress gave a cushiony boost to their lovemaking.

His head went to rest on her shoulder and he could smell her citrus scent, his auburn hair brushing against her dusky skin and his mouth opened, sucking her hard enough that she knew it would leave a mark the next morning Mark me, David, she screamed in her heart, make me yours. She could feel him tense as she squeezed him with her body and then explode deep within her being and then she felt the hot, slick wetness fill her as he stopped moving.

Her fingers moved a few more times and then she came, shaking against him as she brought herself to orgasm.

"I'll never be able to think about this room without blushing."

He kissed her shoulders, her breasts, her lips, her nose. "Me, neither."

"Oh, yeah?" she accused, rolling on top of him. "Prove it."

Early Wednesday morning, David woke to find Carolyn still sleeping next to him. He wanted to ask her, again. Why did she hesitate? How stupid am I, he asked himself, asking her to marry me in a hamburger shop?

He lifted his head at last and even though she was still sleepy, she could see he felt the power of what was between them as intensely as she did. She wanted to ask him what he felt but the words wouldn't emerge past her throat. Every instinct told her not to move too hastily... she needed time... and yet, here she was, in his bed after making love to him all night long and for days since they met.

David smiled. "Hey, Babe, don't you have to get home?"

"Michael is at a friend's house and Kendra knows where I am. I never want to lose you." She ran her fingers through his reddish-brown hair, twisting it a bit.

"Ha... ha... ha... you little minx... you'll never lose me unless you want to throw me away. You're my black magic woman and you've put a spell on me." Carlos Santana wandered through his mind... Oh, yeah, he thought, yes, you got your spell on me, baby... yes; I want you to love me...

"I'll bet you have that song, too, don't you?" she teased.

"Of course, I do, waiting for my own black magic woman."

"David, does it make any difference to you that I'm black?" She tensed, wondering if there WAS a right answer.

"Oh, my God, you're black? No, Baby, it only makes a difference that you love me and only me, right now. No, Carolyn, all I saw was your flashing smile that day you were in my classroom doorway and your incredible curly hair."

"Is that it?"

"Well, I do like your butt..."

"You're bad... you're a bad, bad man."

"Maybe, but I'm your bad man."

Silence.

"Yes, I know. David?"

"Mmmmm?"

"I... I love you, David... I haven't felt this way, ever. I don't know what happened. I saw you that day and you were fooling around with that starfish and suddenly there was no one else in the world. It was as if someone had cast a magic spell on me... but, I can't tell you yes, now. Can you wait for me?"

"C'mere, Baby, I want to show you something."

"You bad, bad man. Make love to me, white boy."

*********

"Don't forget, next week is our trip up Angeles Crest. Permission slips are due tomorrow along with your $30 for the bus and lunch. Remember, everyone is expected to get a sample of anorthosite... easier than going to the moon. Questions? No, then make sure you've downloaded the field guide by Crowell before the weekend so you can read it. I'll be asking questions for the lab practicum. Remember, it's one-third your final grade."

The bell rang and the geology class meandered out the door. Kendra walked in.

"Hey, Kendra... ready for Friday?"

"Yes, Dave... Mr. Christy... Mom wants to know if she should, uh, bring anything special."

"Special? What... oh. Why didn't she just call? This is..."

"Kinda embarrassing? That's OK. When she talks to you on the phone, she says she forgets everything else. When it comes to you, we..."

"You're kidding..." Damn!

"Gotta go... oh, yeah, call her at lunch. Later." Kendra ran out the room, unwilling to take yet another tardy because of him. One more and she'd have an afterschool. Damn class, got to be on the other end of campus, she complained to herself as she kept running, hoping to beat the bell.

Lunch time finally arrived. Ever since he began this strange and wonderful romance, his classroom clock ran slower and slower until sometimes it seemed to stop completely.

His phone vibrated. "Carolyn, I was just going to call you."

"I couldn't wait. What do you want me to bring?"

"For Friday? Well, it's going to be chilly so a coat..."

"Not for that, silly, for... you know..."

That afternoon, Kendra went back to her grand mère's house.

"Kendra, ma chère fille, comment allez toi?"

"Bien, bien... mais j'ai un problème avec Michael."

**********

The flight Friday morning... it took longer to board the plane than the flight north but at least their rental car was waiting for them at the airport and the short drive to the hotel was filled by Kendra excitedly talking about everything, especially her first airplane trip. She had spent the entire flight looking out the window at the passing California landscape, determined to make the most of every passing moment.

"Yes, sir," said the woman behind the counter, "two bedroom suite, two nights, that'll be on your VISA... sign here, please." The trip was costing him a week's pay but he didn't care. It was his first time to act with them like a family and he wanted to make the most of it, for better or worse. It was better to find out now than months later. He smiled... months later. He prayed there would be a 'months later.'

"Fifteenth floor... this way, ladies," David said, carrying Carolyn's and his carryon bags while Kendra took her own to the elevator. The elevator rapidly rose from the lobby to the outside of the hotel wall, giving the young woman a sinking feeling in her stomach.

"Whoa!" she said, hanging onto the side of the elevator as it came to a halt at their floor. The doors finally opened and she almost ran into the hallway to get away from the wide-open look of the glass-enclosed elevator. David did all he could not to laugh although the elevator did remind him of his last F-15 check-ride.

"Fifteen-ten... here we are." David slipped the keycard into the door-slot and stepped back, letting his ladies walk in.

"Oh, my," Carolyn said, looking at the suite. "Are you sure, David? This must have cost a lot of money."

"We're not going to the state finals every day, are we? Besides, nothing's too good for my girls. Kendra, I think you're in that room, OK?"

She went into the room and bounced on the bed. "This'll be fun..." She looked at her mother who had followed her into the room. "It's OK, Mom. I'm fine with you and David. It was my idea, remember. It's all good... really. I brought my music in case it gets too loud. I'm a big girl. Have a good time."

He kissed her fingers, each one in turn, slipping his tongue between, making love to her hand, sucking them into his mouth.

"Oh, you and your tongue," she laughed. Carolyn smiled in the soft afternoon light... She hummed... une chanson d'amour dans son coeur... a love song in her heart.

Soft tugs pulled off her blouse. The touch of his fingers was cool at first but quickly warmed on her skin. Tender kisses came next, to the back of her shoulder, along her neck, around her face...

She laughed. He didn't. His gaze was too busy moving over her; his fingers too interested in sliding up her thigh.

She put her arms around him and David pulled her close. After a minute, he leaned back and she looked at him. His Irish good looks, from his dark auburn hair to his gold-flecked amber eyes, sharp as ever, made her heart beat faster.

His lips were warm and loving as they brushed across hers but after a few soft tastes of her, all gentleness disappeared. His kisses became deeper, his mouth hungry. She hooked her arms around his neck and worked herself into his lap.

A few minutes later, David's body was covering hers and she found her way back to sweet oblivion as she lay back on the bed. She welcomed her lover as he pushed into her, made her gasp and then they began a rhythmic bouncing on the bed.

Kendra smiled and turned up her music. Missy Elliot would cover the sounds of her mother's moans, she was sure.

Later, David drove them through crazy traffic and one-way streets into San Francisco's Chinatown, ending eventually at an old Italian restaurant in the North Beach's Little Italy.

"Tomorrow, we'll come back and ride the cable cars, go to Pier 39 and have lunch at Fisherman's Wharf. How's that sound?"

That night, she wore what she had brought for less than five minutes before it was on the floor.

**********

The next morning, they left early to drive across the Bridge into Marin County and then back again before riding the cable cars. He couldn't help but think of Rice-a-Roni as the cable car bells dinged down the street.

Lunch at Fisherman's Number 9 was followed by a look at Alcatraz and buying a loaf of hot sourdough bread and then a walk down the Embarcadero to Pier 39 to do souvenir shopping before returning in time for the game.

For the first time all season, they lost... lost by nine points. It was a quiet flight home and David was surprised at the team's reaction. They had come to the state finals, after all. There was no shame in that. How many other teams never reached that height? Pretty much, all of them, he thought, pretty much all of them.

The only time you didn't want to come in second was in love and war.

**********

Chapter 5: All's fair...

Carolyn shrieked as David tossed her over his shoulder and carried her into the bedroom and then dumped her on the bed. He straddled her thighs, undid her jeans and tugged them past her knees and off. He reached for his belt buckle and then his zipper and pulled his pants and shorts down and kicked them away.

"I hope you don't want a lot of foreplay right now." He was hot and hard and his erection strained to reach her.

"As a matter of fact..." She pulled him down. "...no."

She sucked in a breath as their flesh touched. He didn't give her a second to enjoy it before he kissed her, aggressively, thoroughly, memorably. She loved the feel of him pressed against her, hard and masculine, ready to take her to paradise. Carolyn reached down to guide him, felt him jerk to her touch, heard the soft words he whispered, encouraging her.

"Ah... you feel so good," he moaned as their bodies merged and caught fire. She moved against him, seeking a tighter union. He thrust harder, deeper. She cried out. He called her name and then only the sound of hard breathing filled the room.

"So," she finally said, "a quickie, huh?"

"Yes." He kissed her leisurely until she moaned and shifted beneath him. "Feel good?"

"I feel used, wonderfully used." She sighed. "Je t'aime. I love you. Faire l'amour à moi."

He wanted her again. He wanted to strip off all her clothes and spend a week with her with nothing between them. He didn't want to make a mistake.

David pulled her into his arms and held her tightly, burying his face in her wonderful curls, smelling that citrus scent that followed her everywhere.

"David?"

"Yes, Baby?"

She touched his cheek. "You need to shave."

**********

Carolyn saw the picture on her bedroom dresser. Taken at Pier 39 by Kendra, it showed David and her walking along, holding hands and looking at the Bay. Looking at the smile on her face as she was with him... her daughter had captured her feelings perfectly. She wished that moment could have lasted forever; they were so happy and carefree.

Michael had not taken the loss well and she could do nothing to bring him out of his funk. He would come home from school and stay in his room, coming out only for dinner or going outside to shoot angry baskets in the driveway. The continual thump-thump-thump of the ball was driving her crazy but she didn't know what to do.

She finished dressing and left for work.

"Ms. Smith, may I see you please?"

Carolyn saved her document and followed Jack, her manager into his office. He closed the door and turned to face her. "I'm going to make this as easy as I can. I'm sorry; it's a case of..."

"...last hired, first fired?" She gripped the chair arms, her fingers so tight her skin paled and hurt.

"Yes. I'm sorry, I really am but there's nothing I can do. You and two others are being let go today, probably another three next week. I tried to save everyone by going to part-time but even after three months, it wasn't enough. Maybe, I'll be next after that, I don't know. I will give you excellent references, I assure you but there's nothing I can do."

"Uh, thank you," she said, more shocked than anything else. Now what? she desperately wondered. Now what am I going to do?

Dazed, she walked to her car and it wasn't until she was sitting behind the wheel that she started crying. Although it had become a part-time job, it was still a job and in this economy, she doubted another was going to be easy to find. Competing with younger college graduates starving to make a place in the world for themselves was an almost impossible task. Experience no longer mattered. What am I going to do, now?

She was still sitting in the car, too upset to drive when her cell rang. It was David, her David... how did he know she needed him? "Helllll... hello, David?"

"Carolyn, what's wrong? You're crying..."

"I lost my job... oh, David, what am I going to do now?"

"Don't panic. Let's meet at my house at four and figure this out. OK, darling?"

"OK... David..." He called me 'darling.'

"Yes, baby?"

"Thank you." She sat in the car a long while before slowly driving home.

**********

Carolyn was parked in front of his house when he arrived and as he met her on the front porch, she ran into his arms. David put his arm around her and unlocked the door. All her strength seemed to disappear.

Leaving her on the sofa, he went into the kitchen and got her a bottle of cold Perrier. "Here, Honey, drink this... slowly, now."

She wiped her tears across her sleeve and drank a little water. "I lost my job today, David, and I'm won't be able to make the mortgage too much longer without it. Even with the benefits for the kids and the life insurance... we'll lose the house without the extra income."

"OK, look... we'll see my accountant and listen to what she has to say and go from there. Look, you know where the bathroom is. Why don't you freshen up, I'll call for an appointment and then we'll go to dinner. OK?"

"OK," she said, wiping her teary-eyed face again with her sleeve and went down the hallway.

David scrolled through his contacts until he found the number and called. "Hi, it's David Christy. I need an appointment for a friend of mine who's lost her job and maybe her house... Day after tomorrow? Good... thanks."

Carolyn came out of the bathroom, face washed and a shy, hesitant smile on her face.

"We're good for day after tomorrow," he explained as he grabbed his keys and escorted her out the door to his car. "You come by after school and we'll go together. Listen, we can make this work, somehow. Now... Olive Garden, Souplantation, Marie Callender's, Red Lobster? Help me out, here, I'm running out of places to go."

His smile lifted her spirits and warmed her soul. Her hand touched his cheek, lightly then she kissed him. "Thank you. David... we could eat from a roach coach, I don't care as long as I'm with you."

"I like the salad at the Garden, the bread at Souplantation, the biscuits at the Lobster and the pie at Marie's... I'm so messed up. How about this? Red Lobster and then Marie's for dessert?" He tried to get a little smile from her.

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