Lucy whirled around. Nobody called her that anymore - -nobody except her parents and a few childhood friends. But – could it be? -- there stood Steve, the older boy next door, the high school hero who had awed her and had gone on to great things, so her mother had told her.
“Hey Luce, it’s really you! Great to see you again after – how long as it been? My kid brother’s wedding ten years ago? Boy, you look wonderful.” He hugged her.
Lucy could feel her face getting warm.“Hi, Steve, gosh, what a surprise -- what are you doing here?” He’d always been so smooth and sophisticated and she had always felt tongue-tied around him.
“Luce, I guess you haven’t read the program yet. I’m giving the welcome. And you’re here for the conference, right? Small world!”
She glanced at the program. And there it was, at the top of the Agenda: “Welcoming Address: Steve Hunter, President and CEO" Embarrassed, she stammered , “Oh...I didn’t realize…. Congratulations, Steve. I’m impressed !” Of course she had always been impressed by Steve.
He scribbled something on a card and handed it to her.”I've gotta run, but this is my room number. Come up after the reception for a drink, and we can catch up on old times.’’
“OK, sure.” Lucy felt slightly stunned. Her first professional conference, and her childhood crush turned out to be the CEO! She’d heard he’d gone to a top law school, had become a successful executive and had married a beauty queen. And here she was, recently divorced and just starting a new job. Even though at 36 and 41 the age difference didn’t matter any more, she still felt a bit like the little kid next door.
She dressed carefully. The tailored look. A silk blouse and skirt. And just enough makeup, not too much, not too little . A professional, confident woman who knows her way around the world -- that was the image she wanted. Not the silly kid next door or the awkward ingénue she was at the wedding ten years ago.
He poured them both a glass of wine. “So tell me, how are your parents?” he asked
“They’re fine.. Mom still knows everyone in the neighborhood and Dad’s retired, catching up on his old hobbies.”
“I always really liked your parents. We had some good times in the old neighborhood, didn’t we? Remember how we used to play hide and seek in the summers?”
Lucy sipped her wine, feeling more relaxed. “Yeah, and you guys always found me. And I always had to go home while you got to stay out late and play. And that time your parents were away and you stayed at our house – you always beat me at every game. I was just a little kid but you never let me win at checkers, not once!
He refilled their glasses and looked at her appraisingly. “You know, you’re a beautiful woman, Luce. Why didn’t I realize that when you lived right next door?
She felt herself flushing with pleasure at the compliment, but tried to keep her response light. “Because I wasn’t a woman then, I was a scrawny little pest and you were the high school hero.”
“Come here,” he said, pulling her from the chair to the bed next to him. “I know I teased you and ignored you when I was in high school, but I was in a different world. And I guess I felt kind of embarrassed.”
Lucy wasn’t sure what he meant. Steve was the star athlete, the class president, all the girls had a crush on him. What did he have to be embarrassed about?
“Embarrassed?” She laughed. “Yeah, embarrassed to be seen with me. I was a fourth grader and you were a big shot eighth grader.. Even though you had to wait for the school bus with me, as soon as as we got on you sat as far away from me as you could.”
“Luce, you know that’s not why I was embarrassed.” He moved closer and put his arms around her.
She felt an electric sensation at his touch. Wow, she thought, what’s this? Her wildest fantasy come true?
He held her closer. “I've never been able to forget that time I stayed at your house. You'd be surprised how much I think about... about what we did. Seeing you today brings it all back." He kissed her gently, then more passionately.
Lucy felt dizzy, as if she were floating into the velvety warmth of his kiss.
He unbuttoned her blouse and caressed her breasts. “Those times when we played doctor,” he said “what we did…. the way we touched each other.”
She tried to listen to what he was saying, but her body responded to his embrace.She couldn’t believe this was happening. All those years she had been in awe of him, thinking he was beyond her reach -- and now he was revealing a completely different side, a side she never suspected existed. A side that made her feel womanly and incredibly powerful.
But what did he mean? She thought back to that t ime, trying to remember. An image of him coming into her room flashed through her brain. She remembered he promised to play checkers with her if she – if she what? Then she remembered him asking her to touch his penis. Which she must have done, but she had no memory of what it looked or felt like – only that it was something boring to get over with so that Steve would finally play checkers with her.
For a moment she tried to pull away from him, thinking she should explain.
“Oh God….. it turns me on to be with you, remembering…” he said.
His words, as much as his touch, inflamed her. She let the feeling of him gently stroking her wash over her in rising waves of pleasure. Whatever they had done had meant nothing to her then, all that mattered was now.
“Touch me again, like you did then,” he whispered.
She did, and she knew she wouldn’t forget it this time.
“Do you remember?”
“Oh yes,” she said, closing her eyes and sliding into his arms, still not remembering.