(DISCLAIMER: Today’s story is intended for mature audiences due to language and adult content.)
Katie and I saw it coming, the quarantine. We work together at the corporate offices of a national insurance company. The afternoon the closed the offices, Katie and I rode the El back up to my place. We had met on our first day and had been friends for the past ten years as we both rose within the organization. She had become the best friend I never had. As we rode north and the buildings shrunk out of the windows and became more residential Katie continued to try to convince me to come home with her to Iowa.
“The city is going to get crazy,” she kept saying, “It won’t be safe here. Come to Iowa with me. Come stay at the farm.”
That night as I laid on my couch in my townhouse, the one I had worked so hard to buy, life just felt odd. I felt like I was abandoning my life. My mind wasn’t completely even made up until Katie showed up the next morning and started to put my stuff in her car. I hated the idea of leaving the city. Deep down I knew it was a smart thing to do, but part of me felt I’d be just fine where I was. I relented and got into the car. I tried not to regret my decision as urban turned into suburban, and eventually rural through the passenger side window. I felt very out of my element without pavement beneath my feet and skyscrapers towering overhead.
I had seen pictures of Katie’s family farm, a old white farm house that looked older than the state, and a big red barn off in the distance. She came from a long line of were crop farmers. Katie didn’t look like a farm girl from Iowa, nor did she look like a city girl either, she was a chameleon in that way. She had the ability to fit in wherever she went. I, on the other hand stuck out like a sore thumb.
As we crossed the Mississippi River, Katie’s cell phone rang. She picked it up and put it to her ear, but I could still hear her mother on the other end. Eileen Bishop was everyone’s mother it seemed. I had met her several times when she and Bob, Katie’s dad had visited Katie in Chicago. They were good salt-of-the-Earth midwesterners and I liked them.
“Yeah Mom, we just crossed the Mississippi, so about two and a half hours. No, I won’t speed.”
I looked out the passenger window, trying not to laugh. Katie didn’t know how to drive under the speed limit. I thought about my own mom. If I were having this exact conversation with her, she’d be more concerned that I brought the case good of wine, and the good ham from Jensen’s Market, the best butcher in the city. “We have to eat well at this crucial time,” I could hear her saying in my head. She and her newest husband had been stuck in Europe when the pandemic hit. Not that stuck is a fair word exactly, she was quarantined to her new husband’s penthouse in Paris, with its breathtaking views of the Eiffel Tower. For a split second, I thought about joining her instead. When I was honest with myself, it would be fun for a few days then I’d be stuck with my mother in a confined space for weeks on end, and whatever winner she had chosen to marry this time. No, thank you. I’d take my chances with Katie’s family.
“He’s coming home,” Katie asked, jogging my attention from the thought of my mother in her Parisian penthouse.
I prayed “he” wasn’t her older brother Aaron. If it was, Katie could drop me at the nearest airport, Paris sounded like a better idea. I had met Aaron on several occasions. Met, is a kind word, it would be more apt to say fell into bed and had drunken hate sex. The truth was we couldn’t stand each other. I knew this because he made sure to tell me to my face once, three whiskeys in. What did I do in return to this information, you ask? I fucked him in the bathroom. We were perfectly polite to each other when sober, but if you put a few drinks into us, we became different people. Katie knew some of the history between Aaron and I but not all of it. Honestly, there wasn’t really a history, just a string of drunken hook ups, every time we were in the same room together, followed by my self loathing afterwards.
Katie hung up the phone and looked over at me.
“Aaron is home. I’m sorry I didn’t know. Mom said he was staying out in Berkley and was going to ride it out there. Look, I’ll make him behave. I promise. I know you how you two feel about each other. Besides, if Daddy catches wind of Aaron’s bullshit around you, he’ll bring some country justice.”
“Do I want to know what country justice is?” I asked.
Katie laughed. “It will be fine. I promise.”
Two hours later Katiee pulled off of the two lane highway and down a long gravel driveway, as the rocks hit the side of her BMW. I thought about the paint, but she didn’t let her foot up as cloud of dust billowed up into the air behind the car. There was a nervous pit in my stomach as we got closer and the white farmhouse got bigger in the windshield. It looked just like the picture with the only exception being that the photo had been taken in July, when the landscape had color. In early March, everything was still dormant, the landscape was bleak. Before we even got out of the car Bob and Eileen were standing on the porch to welcome us. I checked my make-up in the mirror behind the sun visor. I hadn’t wore much, as I smudged a natural tone of peach across my lower lip. It complemented my pale-skin, and set off my blue eyes. I ran my fingers through my chocolate brown hair, smoothing it.
“Ready Miss America?” Katie joked.
Her joke put me on edge. I was way out of my element and now in hostile territory with Aaron wondering around. I got out of the car, my heel hitting the gravel first. Wrong shoes for this, I thought to myself as I got out.
“Look at you two, as pretty as a picture,” Eileen squealed as she came off of the porch. She hugged Katie and then me. “Ava I’m so happy you came home with Katie. I know you can take care of yourself, but it worries me, you all alone in the city with all of this craziness going on.”
Bob came up and hugged Katie and then me.
“Ava, our home is your home. Please make yourself comfortable,” he said.
I was touched by their warmth and generosity. They were truly kind people and I saw a lot of them in Katie.
“Come on, let’s get you girls settled in. Dinner will be ready in about an hour. Ava, is there anything you don’t eat? Do you have any food allergies?”
“No Mrs. Bishop.”
“Eileen. Mrs. Bishop was my mother-in-law.”
I smiled as Bob and Eileen led us into the house. The interior looked like a Hollywood movie set of an old farmhouse. Dark wood floors, paneled doors, the wood staircase, even the soft yellow wall paper. Walking in, it felt like home. Eileen led me up the stairs and into the first room at the top of the stairs, across the hall from Katie. The room was clean and cozy with its slopped ceiling and rod iron bed.
“The bathroom is down the hall, the second door on your left. I’m so glad you came to stay. I’ll let you settle in, and I’ll holler when dinner is ready,” Eileen said as she started to walk out of the room.
She moved out of the way as Aaron came through the door with my four pieces of luggage in his hand. I had not asked him to bring them up, I was fully capable.
“Where do you want em’?”
“Anywhere is fine.”
He took me literally and set them down where he stood. Typical asshole, I thought to myself. Eileen walked out of the room, leaving only Aaron and I. He looked at me without saying anything, it was the sort of look that I felt in my core.
“Thanks,” I said, barely audible.
He turned and walked out, still silent and shut the door behind him. I sat down on the bed, and took a deep breath. You do not find him attractive sober, remember. Get it together! I took another deep breath, trying to push the image of him out of my head. His sandy blonde hair, deep blue eye and sharp jawline was enough to get over but his body was incredible. I took one more deep breath to steady myself. Katie knocked on my door and came in and laid on the bed while I unpacked.
That night we ate a beef roast, mashed potatoes, gravy, and vegetables around the dining room table. I felt like I was in a Norman Rockwell painting, it was so different from my own home, but I liked it. There was something solid, and safe about it. Over dinner we all caught up. When I though I couldn’t eat anymore Eileen brought out a chocolate cake, two tiers high. It looked amazing but I was so full that I politely declined.
After dinner we played a game of Monopoly, and I learned the Bishop’s take their Monopoly game very seriously. I watched Aaron decimate his own mother, which embolden me to try to crush him in the game. We played until I finally beat him, much to the delight of the entire family. We all turned in for the night afterward. As I laid in bed that night, I thought about Aaron, it was nice to see him so pleasant. I was glad that Katie had brought me home with her so far. My thoughts drifted to the giant chocolate cake in the fridge downstairs. My mouth watered at the thought of it. Tempted, I grabbed my robe and tiptoed down the creaky wooden stairs. The house was quiet as I made my way into the kitchen. The lights were off but the small table lamp in the hallway lit the way to the fridge. I pulled the door open and looked inside for the cake.
“Looking for this?” I heard Aaron say, scaring the shit out of me.
He laughed as I turned around. I couldn’t see him in the dark. He clicked on the small lamp that sat on the kitchen table.
“I think you jumped six feet, that was classic.”
“You’re an asshole.”
“Sorry, it was too easy. Do you want a slice of cake?”
I took a deep breath, bringing my heart rate back down, but it was difficult looking at him sitting there shirtless.
“It’s all right.”
“Here,” he said as he leaned over and pulled a drawer open and a fork out of it. “Come sit,” he said as he put the fork on the table.
I knew grabbing that fork was like reaching in a lion’s hungry mouth to retrieve it. I stared hard at Aaron, I wasn’t going to be a shrinking violet. I stepped closer towards the table. Aaron reached out and hooked his finger in the belt loop of my bathrobe and stood as he pulled me into him. His chest was warm, I pushed away from him half-heartedly. He brought his mouth down over mine, and his mouth tasted of chocolate fudge. His kiss was powerful and it stoked a fire deep inside of me. I knew I was in so much trouble, this was a terrible idea but I didn’t want to stop, I wasn’t sure if I could.
He broke his mouth away from mine and whispered in my ear, “follow me.” He left the cake on the kitchen table and clicked off the light. I followed him upstairs, my heart pounding so hard I could feel it in my fingertips. We reached the top stair as Bob and Eileen’s bedroom door open. Quickly Aaron pulled me into my room, shutting the door silently. Behind the closed door we both remained still, as I stood in his arms. I could smell him, hear his breathing, and my resolve completely crumbled. We both listened for Eileen’s footsteps. Once the bathroom door closed, Aaron reach up and took my cheek into his hand and brought my mouth back to his.
His kisses trailed down my neck as he pulled my robe open. He tugged at the collar of my nightshirt trying to kiss my collar bone. Frustrated he tugged at it and I heard the stitches in the seam tear.
“Wait,” I said breathless.
I pulled the nightdress off. The soft blue moonlight flooded through bedroom lighting my pale skin. I stood before him in only my lace underwear. He licked his lips as he pulled me back into his body and crossed the room over to the bed, never taking his mouth away from mine. The bed creaked loudly as we collapsed on to it.
“Shhh,” he whispered into my ear.
He brought his mouth back over mine as he reached in-between us and into my underwear. I wanted them gone. I needed any barrier between us gone. I reached down and pushed off his pajama bottoms. He tugged at my underwear hard as heard the lace seam give way, this time I didn’t care. He pushed his body into mine, I cried out in pleasure, his mouth still over mine. I reached down grasping his ass trying to pull him into me harder and faster. The bed began to creak, and I didn’t care, I couldn’t care. I felt as if I was going to go up in flames. Aaron slowed his pace.
“Shhhh,” he reminded me.
He slowed his pace and rather than kiss me he looked at me. I could see his face in moonlight. There was something in the way he looked at me, it was different. Something changed in that moment, I felt like he saw me in a way that he had not before. He leant down and kissed me, with affection. His movements became more deliberate. This wasn’t our normal hate fuck. This was something I had never experienced before, I realized he was making love to me. My orgasm tore through me as I bit down on his shoulder, not to scream out. He held me tight against his body, driving into me as my body trembled with pleasure.
“Kiss me,” he said as his own orgasm took him over the edge.
He collapsed on top of me, his ragged breath the only noise I could hear. I didn’t know what to make of what just happened. He brought his head up, his body still on top of mine. Our eyes met as he leant down and kissed me again. I was sure his kiss was different, something had changed between us. He rolled off of me and rather than leave, he pulled my body tight next to his. I cuddled up next to him and laid my head on his shoulder.
“I’m really glad you came home with Katie. Maybe we can give this,” he gestured between us, “a real shot. I have to be honest I compare every woman to you.”
“What,” I said as I looked up at him.
“Its true. I wasn’t coming home until I heard Katie was brining you home with her. I wanted the chance to see you again. I look for any chance I can to see you.”
“I don’t understand. You don’t like me, you told me so, to my face. Our hook-ups have been sloppy, drunken, hook-ups.”
“I lied, to you to myself. The alcohol, it was liquid courage.”
“For what? To sleep with me?”
“All of it, to talk to you. Ava, you take my breath away each time I see you.”
I put my head back down on his shoulder. I was speechless. How could I have been so blind?
“Ava,” he said gently as he tipped my chin up towards his.
“I don’t know what to say,” I said honestly.
“Then kiss me.”
I leant up and kissed him, as he brought his hand to the side of my cheek and caressed it as we kissed. This was a kiss of affection, love, and it swallowed me whole in that moment and for the rest of my life.
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