When I wake up yeah I know I'm gonna be
I'm gonna be the man who wakes up next to you
When I go out yeah I know I'm gonna be
I'm gonna be the man who goes along with you
If I get drunk yes I know I'm gonna be
I'm gonna be the man who gets drunk next to you
And if I haver yeah I know I'm gonna be
I'm gonna be the man who's havering to you
But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walked 1000 miles
To fall down at your door
When I'm working yes I know I'm gonna be
I'm gonna be the man who's working hard for you
And when the money comes in for the work I'll do
I'll pass almost every penny on to you
When I come home yeah I know I'm gonna be
I'm gonna be the man who comes back home to you
And if I grow old well I know I'm gonna be
I'm gonna be the man who's growing old with you
But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walked 1000 miles
To fall down at your door
When I'm lonely yes I know I'm gonna be
I'm gonna be the man whose lonely without you
When I'm dreaming yes I know I'm gonna dream
Dream about the time when I'm with you.
But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walked 1000 miles
To fall down at your door
- The Proclaimers
A week passed already?
I sat in my Jeep, musing that it really had been seven days since I found myself parked in front of the shrink's office and mildly irked that my mother's coercing worked-- probably better than she intended. With a hand on the keys resting in the ignition, I pondered what this session with Neilsinhauer would hold.
Each step out of the parking lot and toward his office brought forth memories from last nights homework.
More of the thump-thumping and heartbreaking sobs that only got louder the closer I came to the bottom. Ended up attempting sleep on the couch because I couldn't relax enough to not wake up Dmitri for the umpteenth time with relentless tossing and turning.
I wasn't sure I wanted to go through that door one step below in the depths of my mind. What was it? Violence? Tragedy? Misery, undoubtedly. Could I go all my days without witnessing what could be a contrived imagining? Oh yes. Could I go all my days knowing I chickened out on something that was only in my mind? Oh hell no.
I wasn't sure I wanted to go through the plate glass door into Neilsinhauer's office with the intention of exploring a past life. The fact that Willow liked the mindfucks also put me on red alert. My mother is the poster child for bad ideas. Was this one of them? Did I really want to find out?
As I paused before the door emblazoned with the good doctor's name, I took a deep breath to calm my racing heart. I think it was not knowing what to expect that had me on edge with the combination of a week's worth of shit for sleep. That does tend to make one cranky, after all.
After clearing my lungs, I went forth. The blonde receptionist dressed today in a sapphire blue sari-style skirt and short blouse. A diaphanous silk scarf wrapped around her waist to go over her shoulder to her head, like a silken hood. Indian style clothing is elegant, I must admit. Embroidery and skillful weaving brought forth a pouring of admiration from the artist in me. Can't lie, the color and cut appealed very much. I filed it away in my mind as inspiration for colorful nuptial fun.
When I caught the receptionist's eye, she pressed her palms together at chest level with a slight bow to her head. “Namaste.”
Okie dokie. Be well to you too.
“I have a four o'clock appointment with Dr. Neilsinhauer.” I scheduled it later being that I wouldn't have to see Willow as she left her weekly appointment. The thought of a Star Trek infused pep talk held even less allure than usual today.
“Ah, Kaylis! Good to see you again.” Neilsinhauer's voice came from behind.
I turned around to face him. Today, a periwinkle button up and black slacks. Black polished loafers. “Likewise.” What else could I say? Gee, glad I can pay you to make me cry like a baby again?
“Are you ready?” His cocoa brown eyes looked straight through me.
Yippy skippy. Let the headgames begin. Ole!
Neilsinhauer led me to a different room than the one we used last week. This must be the Forest Room Willow spoke of in awe.
Three dark ecru walls wrapped around the room, with the last wall possessing a painted mural of a heavily wooded mountainside. Boulders emerged here and there, lichen-covered and half-hidden. Facing the painted wall, a wing-backed recliner in muted earth tones. Behind that and off towards the left side, a matching chair and side table. Spartan in decor yet welcoming in a polite, quiet, lemme-skullfuck-you-oh-so-gently kind of way.
Neilsinhauer gestured towards the recliner.
I didn't want to sit in the throne of induced hallucination. It was as if sitting upon the throne would make me Willow's heiress to the kingdom of sheer lunacy. Did I really want to go there and claim that for my very own?
“Don't be nervous, that chair hasn't bitten anyone lately.”
Was my trepidation so apparent?
I sat down, hands in lap and feet firmly on the floor.
“So how was your Fourth of July?”
What? No swinging pocket watch yet?
“It was... interesting.” I mean, come on. The only thing missing was chalk outlines and sirens.
“Interesting? That's a neutral statement.”
A reminder that the party went just a smidgen better than our Christmas bash should be noted for the record. “The Maid of Honor and Best Man got into a squabble that left most everyone scratching their head afterward. We had our engagement party on the Fourth.”
With the exception of mutual friend warfare, the remainder of the party went well. Grampa offered a toast, and when we all went to raise glasses, I noticed Jet still wasn't in attendance. I didn't know if she was beyond pissed that Wiley gone inside to make his version of amends earlier. He too, conspicuously absent.
There had been a small screech-fest shortly after he went inside to apologize, then ominous quiet. About twenty minutes later, we heard Jet's car peel off. When Dmitri investigated, he found Wiley's truck still parked on the street. It stayed there until dark. Jet and Wiley both did not answer their cell phones. I couldn't help but wonder who offed who, and where the body was now. Could Jet fit a six-foot-four body in the trunk of her beemer by herself? With the Fireman Lift anything is possible, I suppose...
Around nine, shortly before the sulfur-scented firework extravaganza, Wiley showed up long enough to collect his dog and truck. Not a word of where he had been or where Jet was. Just a whistle to the lab and off he went. Jet didn't answer her phone until the next morning. I'm sure it protested from the half dozen text and voice messages I left for her, demanding to know where she hid Wiley's body and whether or not she needed quick-lime and an alibi.
Pretty much everyone at the party ignored those two invisible waltzing pink elephants.
“I hope it didn't put a damper on the remainder of the party.”
“Oh, it didn't. Dmitri the Joyful Pyro made his appearance. About an hour straight of sky glitter made for a good nightcap for the evening.”
Neilsinhauer cleared his throat. “Did you accomplish the homework you were given?”
“Yes.” At least I could lay claim that yes, I went spelunking in my mind to terribly dark and creepy places. Yay me.
“Can you describe it to me? What your experience was like?”
“I... suppose. Each step down gave me the willies. It was like the further down I went, the weirder the noises coming from the dark. Made me feel anxious. There was thumping and wailing.”
“Did you have any trouble immersing yourself into the environment?”
“I don't think so... to be honest, I can still feel the dirt from the walls beneath my fingernails.”
“It's a good sign that you can develop the environment so strongly. With some, the tendency is from more of a third-person perspective. They are more of an observer than a participant. That you are able to get so deep into the details bodes well. I interpret it to mean you mind is receptive towards uncovering your scar tissue.”
“Okay, before we start, I need you to try and relax. Can you put the footrest up on the recliner?”
I did so. I didn't like taking my feet off the ground. Nervous foot twitching is more visible if the floor isn't there to stop the movement.
“You told me that you waited to restart your relationship with Dmitri. Would you say it was worth the wait?”
Without hesitation, I answered, “Yes.” There was nothing else I could tell him without revealing too much of my personal feelings regarding the wait to be with Dmitri... almost synonymous with quality nekkid time, especially the first nekkid time with Dmitri. Was it worth the wait? Does one really need to ask?
Dmitri was back in California after flying to Croatia for his grandfather's funeral. He was living in La Jolla at the time, but flew into Sacramento to see me for an impromptu visit. It had been about four years since he and I had seen each other, although we had stayed in touch via late night phone calls, text messages and instant message marathons.
Last time we had seen each other, I endured miserable travel conditions to spend eighteen unforgettable hours with him. When he first laid eyes on me, I looked like something a mangy cat puked and shat upon. There was no chance of that happening again. They only thing that would remain a constant was the delectable body wash I bought from Lush. Honey, jasmine and a hint of musk... I hoped to bring back the memory of my last visit and the four hour dry-humping marathon by scent alone. I planned on channeling my inner flying fox.
Jet did my hair. I don't know how she endures two hours of torture in a chair just to have her hair look like perfection for photo shoots... but then again, she's paid to cope. My ass was plopped in an uncomfortable dining room chair with a hard wooden seat that somehow defied the power of the cushions placed upon it for comfort. With the chair positioned out from under the table and all of Jet's styling supplies, my already cramped apartment seemed even more tiny.
Jet applied enough styling products to keep my hair in place long after my bones turned to dust. After having my hair pulled, curled, tweaked and lacquered, styled, lacquered some more and then brushed into submission with a final shellacking of hairspray, I felt ready to take on both Dmitri and an Arizona monsoon. With nary a moment spared between taming my tresses and painting my face, she got to work sculpting cheekbones, creating smokey doe-eyes and pouting lips. Her ability to wave liquid eyeliner like a magic wand must have come from years of practice because when she held a mirror up for me to gander at her handiwork, I couldn't believe my eyes.
Not only did I have the aforementioned cheekbones, my eyes seemed more green than blue and lips provocatively kissable (as Jet assured me... “Yeah, if my garden gate swung that way, you'd get nailed tonight.”), but my auburn hair was swept back from my brow, and cascaded down my back in a tumble of curls. A braid, much like one sees on sculptures of ancient Roman matrons, encircled the crown of my head.
“Oh. Em. Gee. You are a wonder worker. Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I looked sophisticated, polished and so unlike myself. The hair complimented the dress I chose to wear; a black silk Grecian-inspired number that reached my knees. Thin straps led into a draped neckline that bared my collar bone and hinted towards cleavage. Beneath my breasts, wide dark purple ribbon crisscrossed and wrapped around my torso. Under there, my lingerie I had been eyehumping online for months and finally splurged upon. Knickers and a demi-bra of black satin, accented in fire red. My pocketful of kryptonite was a black lace garter belt which wandered saucily down my thighs and held up black back-seamed thigh highs, reminiscent of forties pin-up girls. Black satin pumps encased my feet.
Naughty, provocative... I was Aphrodite reborn from the sea, ready and willing to seduce the mortal man of my choice.
“Now don't get all weepy. I expect a report of good things tomorrow by noon, sharp. Waterproof makeup was not used, so no nookie in the shower unless you know he has a fetish for raccoon eyes.” She whipped the towel covering my clothing away in a gesture that would make a matador jealous. “My work here is done. Go forth, Grasshopper, and get some. And if it falls through because you're both too damn chicken to make the first move, I expect you to buy some lottery scratchers. If you don't get laid, you just might get lucky.” She smiled her shit-eating grin and I laughed.
It had been a long time since I had been on a date... longer since I had been on a date with Dmitri. I was antsy to see him.
Jet lifted a small wooden case which seemed to be fashioned from an old cigar box out of her styling bag and opened it. Nestled within the case and resting upon blue velvet was an ornate necklace. She lifted it out and stood behind me to fasten it upon my collarbone. Creamy pearls, amethyst and diamonds twinkled in the filigreed setting.
“My gift to you. Nothing will get a man thinking of nailing one like the mention of a pearl necklace.” She couldn't quell the giggle. “Seriously, you will not believe how well that line works.”
I'd take her word on it.
It would be nearly a two hour drive to Sacramento to see pick him up, but that was fine with me. I burned a couple CDs in anticipation, songs that each said something about the way I felt for him, or songs I associated with him and memories from a summer in 1997 and a night in early spring 2007. Growing up during the heyday of mixed tapes, I was sure he'd appreciate my wondrous and tasteful collection of tunes.
Time had come. My Grand Cherokee tore down Interstate 5. Shimmying down the back bone of rural California, seeking Sacramento by the most direct route possible-- even if it meant that the broken back bumper would finally fall off into center of the road. The entire way I concentrated on two things: how great it would be to see Dmitri again, and just how I was going to seduce him.
An hour and a half raced by like a Kentucky Derby winner, and I was in Downtown Sacramento in a state of elation and Japanese-schoolgirl giddiness. When Dmitri called to tell me of his stop over in Sacramento, I told him that since he treated me last time I saw him, it was my opportunity to return the favor. My tactic was to appeal to his senses; sight, smell, touch, taste and sound... and was it not an old adage that the way to a man's heart was through his stomach? My bases were covered.
I tooled through the busy streets of Sacramento until I found his hotel. I parked and pumped some change into the meter while I called his cell to summon his presence. No more than three minutes passed before he was down in the lobby to meet me, looking delightfully svelte. His brown hair was lightly gelled and swept to the side, reminding me strongly of classic Cary Grant. He wore a gray suit and polished black shoes. Even wore a fedora at a jaunty angle. Dmitri the Dapper.
“My oh my...” he let out a long whistle as he drank the sight of me. I saw his gaze slowly scan me from foot to face.
I tried not to smile, being that the last time he and I were in vicinity to each other, I looked horrid. Almost sweatpants and teeshirt kind of horrid. To look marvelous and dressed up totally set a new tone for adventure.
“Not too much, is it?” I twirled around and the hem of my dress flared. Oooh, maybe dancing is in the cards for tonight. “Nice Zoot Suit, by the way.” I smirked.
“It's not enough.”
“Ex-squeeze me? Not enough? I'm covered in all the right places. Not like I'm going to get arrested for indecent exposure.”
“I mean, I can't get enough of looking at you. Wow, Kaylis, you clean up well.”
“Thanks.” Banishing the blush staining my chest and cheeks wasn't easy. “So, Mister Branimir, are you ready for a feasting of fun?”
“I am. What's on the agenda, Captain?”
“Sushi. Sake. Tatami room and low tables.”
“Oh, nice! You're taking me to Japan tonight?”
“Well, a Japanese room in a Chinese restaurant, although they do have a separate Japanese menu... would that qualify as a solid Asian restaurant?”
“I think it could.”
“You'll like this place, I promise. It's been around since I was a youngling, and the best things taste just like they did when I was small and irritating.”
“I take it that our eatery isn't in this lobby... so shall we get going?” He offered me his arm. With another blushing smile, I held on, feeling somewhat like a delighted debutante.
I led the way to the Jeep. “Your chariot awaits, Admiral.”
We hopped into my rig and away we went. North to Chico where adventure awaited. I couldn't resist the smirk glued to my face as the Cure poured forth from speakers.
“If you were any other woman, I'd think you were up to something.” He wasn't looking at me when he spoke. Instead his gaze faced his door's window.
“Just fun, homefry. You're allowed a little playtime, aren't you?”
“Your definition of 'playtime' involves Love Song?” Dmitri's head swung around to view my still-smirking profile.
“Why since you asked, yes... yes it does. Otherwise I'd have to play all of Disintegration.” My favorite album by those delightful British lads.
“Then Bloodflowers.” Which happened to be Dmitri's favorite album by the Cure.
“Nope, only Maybe Someday.”
“Just a token song from each album? Have something against the artistry of Mister Smith?”
“Quite the opposite. But let's face it... there's other bands that tickle the ear just as well as the Cure. I know, blasphemy. But Depeche Mode, the Cranberries and Bauhaus have quality tunes. I'm not asking you to explore transcendental meditation with John Lennon's sitar-playing Zombie, but you cannot deny that there are other good artists out there, merely hoping for a moment of ear-time.”
“You had me at Bauhaus.” He leaned towards the dashboard to change the song. “Oh, no shit.” Scratching screeching filled the cab and he grinned. “You went there. You actually went there.”
“Damn skippy I went there. Like I could leave off such a monumental tune for my life's soundtrack.” Love Cats was the song Dmitri considered 'ours' back in the day. He introduced me to the fanciful tune one July afternoon as we sat in the backseat of his little hatchback, listening to music on a boombox which served as his car stereo. Memories of huddling close to Dmitri while we smiled ear to ear whilst indulging in bizarre music... ah, a very warm and fuzzy feeling.
He quieted for a moment and looked out the window. “It's been fourteen years since I've been up here. Can't believe how much I miss the smell of this city.”
“Poor man, deprived of your heart's hometown by being stuck down where all that big bad sand lurks. Pity.”
Dmitri laughed. “I know, it's terrible. But San Diego smells nothing like this town. Even the feel of the air is different-- better. If it had beaches... that'd be the only thing that could improve Sac.”
“Discovery Park gives one beaches... and not one, but two rivers. Even a Mediterranean environment. That's inland impressive.”
Dmitri and I indulged in random conversation until we neared Chico.
We came up 99, and whizzed by all the franchise-locusts. There would be no wining and dining at restaurants he'd probably already been to, even eight hundred miles away.
East Avenue exit launched us into a busy four lane street. I drove down several blocks and hanged a right. Down three block and voila. A single story building with arches, pagoda-like flares and Chinese characters in black painted on muted green. A walkway wrapped itself around the restaurant like a scarf, partially hiding any walking patrons behind flowering quince and tall iris. Parking was around the back, and after a short walk around the veranda, we found ourselves in a covered walkway passing by etched glass windows showing geisha and samurai amid falling cherry blossoms. Two arched doors painted in that fabulous Asian red lacquer met us. Upon walking through the doors we found the hostess station. On the left, booths and tables. Even further in resided the sushi bar. To the right of us, two tatami rooms.
“Two this evening?” A middle aged Asian woman wore black slacks, white button up top and a black vest devoid of any decoration.
“Yes. Reservation for Woods.” She addressed Dmitri but I answered.
She tapped on the computer monitor and smiled. “Ah, this way please.” With a snap of her wrist, she plucked two each of the Green Menu and Red Menu.
Dmitri and I were instructed to remove our shoes and leave them on the bamboo step leading to the rice-papered sliding door. With a gracious nod of her head, she opened the door and shepherded us inside. A rectangular table sat in the center, no higher than a coffee table with six flat pillows arranged around. Dmitri sat at the head of the table, furthest from the door, and I sat on the pillow to his right. We both sat cross-legged, toes touching beneath the white cotton cloth-draped table. On the left wall, a blue, green and gray kimono hung with a bamboo rod slung through its sleeves.
The waitress handed us the menus and left.
“What's up with the menus?” Dmitri held one in each hand.
“Green is Japanese, Red is Chinese. Tonight, I highly suggest the Green.”
“Green it is, then.” I removed the Chinese menu from his grasp and laid it alongside my own.
“Here. Chose your poison.” I placed the sake menu in his hands. “Would you be offended if I order for us? That is, if you aren't looking for anything specific to eat...”
Dmitri looked at me with a shrewd look in his eye. “I don't mind. If it sucks, I get to blame you. If it doesn't then you'll get my kudos for good taste on your part. That's how I operate.” He smiled.
“You like sushi.... we're going to work with that tonight. Ever have Omakase?”
“Can't say that I have. Is that like the soft roe of an octopus or something?”
“It mean's chef's choice. We put ourselves at the mercy of the master to create a dinner for us.”
“Sounds good to me. Oooh, wasabi.” He likes life on the spicy side.
“Wasabi with you, baby?” I drawled the word enough to sound vaguely like 'Wassup'.
“You are audacious tonight, aren't you? Don't think I've seen this side of you before.” Dmitri smiled at me and scooted a little closer. I returned the favor. Only the leg of the table prevented us from sitting completely thigh-to-thigh.
“Just a little. Well, no. A lot. I can admit it. I've been looking forward to hanging with you again. Last time wasn't nearly long enough.” I mean, seriously.
“Agreed. It wasn't.” My blush renewed itself as the door slid open to reveal the hostess holding a tray with water glasses. After depositing them in front of Dmitri and I, she asked, “Have you decided what would you like?”
I smiled. “Omakase for the both of us. A pot of tea and Umeshu, please.”
“Kirin beer for me, please.”
After the waitress left, Dmitri asked me, “So, am I designated driver tonight?”
“We'll have to see. I promise if I get too tipsy to surrender my keys to you... provided you're more sober than I am.” It wasn't my intention to get drunk. I just wanted that little voice of self-preservation to shut up for the night so I could cruise on instinct.
“You'll find, my dear, that I've whiled away my time in La Jolla crafting beers and mastering my reaction to alcohol. A tedious tangent of that gig is that I have to test my end results.” Dmitri sighed. “It's a hard job but someone has to do it.”
“Sounds horrible. Ever get a bitter beer?”
“You mean an unintentional bitter? Oh yeah, my first batch got screwed. Sour too. Was like drinking almost-fizzy vinegar. I don't recommend it.”
“Thanks for the advice. What was it supposed to be?”
“A stout like Guinness. I epic failed.” Dmitri shook his head sorrowfully. “I didn't get a good beer until I tried making a hefeweizen. I nailed it the first time and haven't quit making my own brews.”
“That's awesome. What tickles me pink is that brewing ale was a woman's job in medieval Europe. Dmitri the Brewster... has a nice ring to it.”
“Is that why Punky Brewster was so feisty? A drunk, let's say, Irish girl? Some sort of beer-making prowess run through her fingertips?”
“Got something against the Irish? I planted a fist on my hip, cocked my head to the side and faked indignant.
“Nothing whatsoever. Just an example. Besides everyone knows the Irish were an advanced civilization until they discovered alcohol.” Dmitri wore a perma-smirk and an expression of bemusement. I took it as a good sign.
“Touche'.” It was difficult to not smile. Just being in his presence made me giddy, even more so since his thigh touched mine almost from hip to knee. Dmitri's cologne floated in the air to play havoc with my sense of smell. Musky, spicy with a hint of smokiness.
Ohhh. Me like.
Dmitri put his hand on his knee so that his pinky finger touched mine. He kept wiggling it gently, that I wasn't sure if his hand was shaking from nervousness or whether he was trying to be sly.
“Whatcha doin'?” I asked in a sing-song voice.
“Admiring your dress. Feels.... slinky.” Bright blue eyes never left my gaze.
“You could appreciate the texture more if you actually touched it. Palms have nerve endings, too.” Oh, he was right. I am audacious tonight.
He stroked his hand from my knee to mid-thigh and then back down again. “Nice. Silk?” The heat formed under his palm evaporated as Dmitri removed his hand from my leg to place it on his own.
“Yep. I even designed and sewed it. You can keep up with the rubbing of my leg. I like it.” Then I winked. “I noticed you are wearing the tie I painted for you. It really brings out the blue of your eyes. Good choice on your part. You earned some bonus points.”
He started laughing. “You have many facets, I see.”
“If you've only begun noticing that, dear, dear Dmitri, then I feel sorry for your Powers of Observation.”
“I noticed long ago that you aren't as simple a person as you seem. You're a walking contradiction.”
What's that supposed to mean? “Well, thanks.”
The door slid open. The waitress carried a tray over to unload it in front of us. A small white and blue porcelain tea pot and matching handle-less cups, a carafe of Umeshu and two stemmed cordial glasses, a bottle of Kirin and a pilsner glass found a home. Two bowls of miso soup completed round one.
After the door slid shut again, Dmitri picked up the tangent. “I don't mean it in a bad way... just that sometimes you're passive and then you go all feisty. Modest then all tigress... it's intriguing, I'll admit.” He picked up the porcelain spoon and stirred his miso soup.
If I've learned anything where men are concerned, its that keeping them on their toes works wonders. In hunter-gatherer societies, the hunting usually fell upon menfolk. Give them something to chase and that primal inner hunter takes over. I'd happily give him a chase to enjoy if it meant he ended up ensnared tonight.
“One thing you should never forget, Dmitri... I am me and no one else.”
“That goes without saying.”
Dmitri's fingers migrated back to the borderland between our touching thighs, only to cross over to the Land of Kaylis to navigate a few inches above my knee.
“It's okay, Dmitri. I won't tell and you won't get in trouble. I promise. Go ahead and stroke my leg.” Then I whispered, “You'll like it, I promise.”
“You are adorably insidious tonight, Kaylis. I'm not counting this as a first date, by the way. This is somewhere around the eighth or ninth, albeit, spread-out date.”
Works for me.
His hand crossed the border to stroke my dress some more as we ate our steaming miso soup. On a down stroke of my thigh, I brazenly channeled covert ops and raised my hem a few inches so his hand stroked up a stocking-covered thigh. Dmitri inhaled sharply when his hand slid onto bared skin above the top of my thigh-high.
“Oh... I do like that. You're going to kill me with kindness tonight, aren't you?”
I smirked and smiled. “That's kind of the plan. Unless you'd rather I not. I'll respect any boundaries you set.” I meant it too. Would be total suckage... but given the chance, I'd rather not make a gaffe that would ruin the evening.
“I did mention that this is not our first date, right? I think we're well past boundaries for now.”
After another spoonful of miso-infused nori, bonito flake broth afloat with tiny cubes of tofu, I responded. “True. But for the record, I don't want to make an ass of myself tonight. I can envision it happening.”
His fingers rubbed the inside of my thigh gently to slowly slide down to my knee and linger. “I don't think that could happen.”
Ha. We'll see about that.
Challenge accepted, buckaroo.
Dmitri never was as hands on with me as he was tonight. Something changed in him and I liked it. Electricity flowed from he to I, completing a circuit of sensuality. You know that cliché about sexual tension so thick one could cut it with a knife? In this case, a chainsaw and protective eyewear would be more appropriate.
I put my hand on his trouser leg and slid it slowly upwards. “Feels nice, doesn't it?” He indicated that he liked my daring, non-passive side. Why should a guy be the one to call all the shots and make the first moves? “Ooh, Dmitri... it's mutual leg rubbing. We're oh so naughty!” Dmitri's face lit up with my mock British accent. My fingers trailed back to his knee before I removed them to pour us both umeshu.
He rolled his head to look at me with a smartass expression on his face. “Yes, groping legs during the first course is new territory for me, too.” Dmitri finished his soup all the while with his hand on my knee. I did the same. Every now and again, he'd gently squeeze or let his fingers wander. There was a definite change in breathing pattern by the time course two came our way.
Everything but Dmitri seemed to vanish in a cloud of desire. The sashimi flowers offered could have tasted of andouille gumbo or used cat litter and I wouldn't have noticed. The feel of muscles shifting beneath cloth as he got more in tune with me and my subtle butt wiggles were a provocative reminder of mutual unfinished business. We didn't speak while we ate. Body language was the only means of communication he and I favored.
By time the green tea ice cream came, I could tell he was reining in his lust. Twice while he played navigator with my leg, his fingers brushed against my hot center. The first time, gentle and exploratory then retreating, the second was much more deliberate with a sweet interlude of him exploring the realm under my panties to slide a finger inside. I moaned a little while writhing against his hand. That digit rubbed a moment longer before retreating down my leg to stay only upon my knee. His eyes locked mine and he put his mischievous finger in his mouth to taste.
If the tatami room had a lock upon its door to bar the waitstaff, then I would have returned the favor and then some. My current state of anticipation sang through every fiber of my being.
It wasn't long before the check came and I paid it. He and I wandered back to my car, hand-in-hand. Every step served to make me burn hotter for Dmitri. For me, anticipation is just as rewarding as an orgasm when it comes to sex. The longer we could draw it out before we both burst would be well worth it, I was sure of that.
Dmitri spoke low. “So, what's next on the agenda, Kay?”
What's next? Oh, gee. Let me see. Can we suck face in my backseat somewhere isolated? How about unclothed dryhumping... “How does a museum sound?” I couldn't resist teasing.
“Museum? That's like an unclothed cold shower, right?”
I busted out laughing. “Yep.” Dmitri still had hold of my hand and pulled me close.
After biting my lower lip a moment, I looked up into his face and spoke. “I have an idea. Well, two. One requires a little more patience than the other. I'll leave it up to you to decide.”
“Well, lay it on me.” I could feel his hardness straining against clothing as he gently pushed my back against the Jeep's tailgate to lean in and nibble little kisses on my neck while gently grinding against me. I rained a trail of kisses down his jawline, not giving a damn about the cars pulling in and out of The Congee Bowl's parking lot. If they want to look at Dmitri and I, fine. Otherwise they are free to gander in another direction.
Lust engulfed me almost to the event horizon. It was hard to form a coherent thought when all I wanted to do was unzip his trousers and help myself to the fun inside. “Option one involves getting a room somewhere and let nature take its course. I don't know if we could make it all the way to my apartment without having to stop somewhere for tension-relieving mischief. I'm really frisky at the moment, by the way. Thank you.” Dmitri's cologne helped to stoke the fire within me. “The second option is stargazing. I know a place that is secluded with very little light from civilization to cloud the view. Choose your poison.” I offered stargazing because it means snuggling. Always has being close to Dmitri meant comfort to me.
In an instant he replied, “Stargazing,” much to my surprise.
With reluctance, I pulled away and looked into his face. “Then you better get into my car before I do things to you that'd get me arrested.” Although the ranch sat closer to Chico than the village, it would still be a long tormented drive.
Dmitri chuckled and his blue eyes gleamed. “If it involves the removal of clothing, then we're on the same page.”
We got into the Jeep and I found myself exiting Chico via East Avenue to Highway 32. We sat in silence, windows cracked as I drove out to a secluded spot where no outside lights would hinder the show performed by the Cosmos.
Dmitri and I indulged in random small talk covering topics from my small business venture to his family members and their various quirks. Who knew little boys in Croatia grow up wanting to be American cowboys?
When my turn neared, I slowed down and turned from the highway onto a county road. No spoken words, just music from the speakers.
Fifteen minutes passed before I slowed down once more to enter the graveled back entry to my family's ranch. Situated somewhere between Bayliss and Glenn, it had pasture, fields, woodlot and a large pond. One of my favorite memories was when Grampa would take me bass fishing in the wee hours of the morning out at that pond. I got the job of digging up worms from the compost pile to use as bait-- a favorite would-be career to a grubby seven year old. Lessons one cannot learn another way were learned on the edge of that pond. Things like the ever-turning wheel of life, the seasons and how completely the animal kingdom is tied to the earth. But my favorite lesson of all was astronomy.
On my eighth birthday, Grampa gifted me with a handmade Dobsonian telescope. With it, I explored as much of the night sky above the pond as I could, when I could. Grounding me for punishment didn't work. Taking away the telescope worked better than Grampa could imagine.
The secluded pond is where I go to relax, ponder or do heavy thinking.
A stand of cottonwood formed a grotto surrounded by wild grape and blackberry vines a good stone throw's away from the north side of the pond. Fern, wildflowers and grass made the carpet inside the grotto. Frogs croaked their songs while crickets chirped. Every now and again, a barn owl would hoot a who-hoo? into the night. Mallards swam on the pond beyond the wall of trees during daylight hours. Blackberry grotto happened to be my favorite place in the world and I wanted to share it with Dmitri. As a kid, it was my castle. As a teen, a hideout. As an adult its my secret lair, if you will.
I left my shoes in the car as I exited. Heels on gravel in general isn't a good combination. In the dark, potentially lethal. In the Jeep's back, a rolled up sleeping bag rested. I nabbed it. “Come on.”
Dmitri got out of the vehicle and asked with a quirked eyebrow, “Do you always keep that in there?”
“You mean the sleeping bag?”
“Yeah, of course. I also have two gallons of water, a box of MREs and a roadside emergency kit. Don't think you're that special.” Had to keep him on his toes.
“Fair enough.” He caught up to my side to reach for my empty hand.
We walked in silence to the grotto's center. Moonlight bathed the area. Dmitri took the sleeping bag from me, unrolled and unzipped it to spread it upon the ground. I waited until he kicked his shoes off before settling down on the portable bedding.
He and I both sat cross-legged on flannel, clumps of fern partially hid us from view. I rested my head upon his shoulder while his arm wrapped around me. There was something so right about he, I and the night. I didn't want to break the spell that seemed to blanket us in the little tree grove.
Dmitri's voice finally broke the silence. “So, do we stargaze or was that a pretense for mischief? You have ulterior motives tonight. I can tell.”
“Why, you aiming to misbehave?” Because I'm way okay with that. “And about ulterior motives... who needs them?” Granted, my lust was probably visible but I was content for him to set the pace... for now.
Dmitri cleared his throat. “If all I wanted was to misbehave, we'd be shacked up in a motel room with a mirror on the ceiling right now.”
“So you have more on your mind than the obvious? Color me stoked.”
I felt him hold back a chuckle. “You don't make things easy, do you?”
“If things were easy, you'd get bored. I know your modus operandi. My momma didn't raise a fool.”
“How is she doing?”
He smiled and nodded. God knows why.
“She's good. Just went through another divorce... this is her fourth one. Says she's going to lay low and avoid men for a while. But she's the same Jerry Garcia-worshiping tree hugger she always was.”
“That's good to hear.”
My mind was abuzz with the continued small talk. I mean, we were alone in a place that gave us a feast for the eyes. The magic from dinner seemed to fade, and now... he's asking about my mom. Not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Maybe I shouldn't have given him the choice and just whisked Dmitri to a hotel. Had I done that, I'd be getting laid right now instead of fielding questions about my mother.
Dmitri shifted and laid down. “Come on, you said stargazing...” and moved his arm so I could snuggle with him below the canopy of celestial splendor. Venus shone bright in the sky. I couldn't help but think it was appropriate... that the planet named for the goddess of love looked down upon us tonight.
I pointed to a star-like object in the sky. “That dot is Jupiter.” I pointed out another spot in the cosmos. “And that one is Mars.” Then my finger showed the way to the brightest star in the sky. “That one is Venus. I should have packed my telescope so you could get up close and personal to space rocks.”
Dmitri's hand sought out mine. “Why do you love the night sky so much, Kaylis?”
In silence I sat, pondering how I would answer. After a moment or two, I spoke, quietly at first. “Two reasons. The first being that no matter where I was, the stars were there. I lived on this ranch for five years with my grandparents when my mom went off doing her thing. When she came back, we moved into town... but even though I was back with her the stars were ever the same. It was a gift my grandfather gave me, he taught me about the stars. That no matter where I am, those twinkling lights above are still there, just like when I lived with my grandparents and knew stability for once.
“The second reason is because it puts things into perspective to me. That we, Earth that is, are so small in the scheme of things, but so splendorous. A tiny grain of sand on a vast cosmic beach.
“We don't matter in the greater scheme of things, but because we are tiny fish in a tiny pond on a tiny island, all we know and all we as a species do, is focus on this tiny little dot in the middle of nowhere. That an animal such as the human species can do so much in so many ways but be hampered by our own narcissism and limitations that as a species, we can't overcome. There will always be a percentage of the population that isn't cohesive with the rest of society. Sickos, rapists and people like that. Those who get off on powertrips... they taint us as a species. They are the ones that remind us of our bestial nature, of a nature that we can't escape from, no matter our scientific or sociatal advances.
“You know, if it poured rain for forty days, it wouldn't matter if some guy rode a raft to some mountainous island high above the water line... one good asteroid would wipe that mountain and all survivors from the face of the earth. Seriously, the planet would be at square one of its evolution. Four billion years of constant tweaking on this antfarm, gone in a blink. The night sky holds the trump card. I can totally respect that. Plus, it's a time machine-- a natural made time machine we take for granted. When we look to the sky and see those stars and planets... that light is already minutes old. Sunlight that warms the Earth, to feed the crops we eat, to help us produce Vitamin D... it's all from a celestial time machine. That's just cool to me.”
Dmitri squeezed my hand gently and then brought it to his lips so he could place a kiss on the back. “I knew you were smart... never knew you were so deep though. That's like Stephan Hawking-kind of intelligent.”
As I blushed at his extravagant compliment, I turned my head to smile at him. “Thanks...told you before, homefry. I am me, and me alone. And I am nowhere near Hawking. Or Sagan. But thank you for the vote of confidence.”
Dmitri's arm tightened around me and I turned my face up to his. As soon as I closed my eyes to blink, his lips sought mine for too-brief a moment.
“Have you heard anything from your ex who got hit with the restraining order?” Dmitri's lips were scant inches from my own. I'd rather occupy them with kisses than speak of a bad memory.
I sighed deeply. “No. Since he's in the Bay Area and I'm up here... I guess he took the hint.” A hard knot formed in my throat. “I'm okay with that. I...I...I don't ever want to see him again. Some wounds take longer than others to heal, I guess.” Of all the things to talk about on what was once a hot date, this particular topic had an ice-water-like quenching effect on my lust. “But one day I'll grow brass balls and so forth where he's concerned. For now, as long as he stays there and I'm up here with utter and complete separation... I'm good. In fact, I'm awesome.” I punctuated with a smile.
Dmitri looked at me for a long moment with a calculating look in his eye. What was he thinking about? Could I even guess? His choice of questioning tonight pretty much derailed my seduction train. “You know, one of the things I love about you, Kaylis, is that you have a light inside. You are one of those people who can go through hell and still see the silver lining even if it's a bit tarnished. But there are places in you that the light doesn't dare shine and you have a habit of visiting those dark places... even when you aren't aware of it. I hope that light never leaves you. I'd hate to see what those dark places would do to you if they ever took over.”
He loved me? Friend/buddy love or what? I love him, have for a long time. But I squelched that longing because I didn't want to push Dmitri away by wanting too much from our friendship. But he loves me? Dare I hope its more than platonic bliss?
I don't know how to feel about his statement about dark places. Doesn't everybody have dark thoughts? Life isn't always happy. Sometimes it doesn't even border on bittersweet. If you ask me, hell happens here on earth. Life is life. The strong live, the weak fade away, the lucky and blessed never know anguish. Survival of the fittest or the most masochistic, I'd have to say. Personally, I think I lean more towards the masochistic side of things. It'd explain a lot.
It didn't register with me that I had moved away from Dmitri until he gently gathered me in his arms as if I were a hurt child. That was like a battering ram against the portcullis of my personal walls. “I know bad things have happened to you. I know you pretend they don't effect you, but they do. I see it.” Dammit. Now it was the trebuchet. “I admire your strength. You are strong. You are capable. But don't be afraid to lean on people when you need to. You can't always be strong. Do not be afraid to let me in.” The siege tower was in place. “I want to be there for you when you need me and when you don't... I don't want just a part of you. I want all, because that's how much of me I'm offering in return. Fair is fair. Let me in, Kaylis.”
And with that whispered into my ear, my walls of self-preservation fell down as did the tears on my face.
Out of all the things I thought this night would hold, my wonderment at the turn of event startled me deeply. I needed to think and thinking was very difficult with Dmitri so close in my proximity. With a watery chuckle, I spoke to no one in particular. “Out of all the scenarios that I envisioned about tonight, this was not one of them.”
Dmitri smiled. “To quote you, I am me and no one else. And I got to keep you on your toes.” He put a gentle hand upon my shoulder. “I didn't mean to upset you. I can tell I have done just that with my confession.”
I felt a lump in my chest grow and rise to my throat. For so long, I've been dependent upon myself. If I truly wanted him then I needed to open up and let him in… I mean, that should be rudimentary, right? Why did it take me this long to realize that? In all the time I've known Dmitri, he never betrayed my trust in him. He had always been there when I needed him most.
Now for the sixty-four million dollar question: Did I want something more with Dmitri and potentially set myself up for heartache again, or keep things light and non-committal? I mean, me wanting to hump his brains out could just be the lingering echos of getting oh-so-close to getting laid the last time I saw him and the desire to just get it over with so we could just move on. Or not.
For one thing, Dmitri bore little resemblance to Mike in personality. Where as both could be considered intelligent in certain areas, it really was like comparing night to day. I could count on Dmitri not being Mike. It was a reassuring thought.
The bullshit back in the day – well, some things are worth looking past. He was sorry enough about it that he needed to ask my forgiveness before his own conscious could be settled after a decade had passed. Even when parted by years and thousands of miles, Dmitri was loyal in the deepest part of his heart. I can't ask for much more than that in a mate. Why had I not realized it before?
Then it dawned on me. I had trusted Mike, heart and soul with the first passionate love of youth. If my affection for Dmitri during our summer together was like sticking a toe in the water of Amour, then what I had with Mike was like a full on belly flop into shallow waters. I was so blinded by the fact I was in love that I forgave trespasses when I should have been the one apologized to-- and most profusely at that.
When I had been betrayed on the magnitude that I had, it seriously colored how much I gave myself to others. If one doesn't open themselves up completely, one can't be completely disappointed and hurt-- so the thought goes. But to keep that little bit of myself from someone who has given so much of himself over just to make me happy...
A clear, pure feeling engulfed my heart. The pristine beauty of the sensation brought a new set of tears to my eyes. “It wasn't until right now that I realized how much I love you, Dmitri.” It meant a lot to me that he apologized long after the fact. It meant more that during the ups and downs in my life, Dmitri was there to lend an ear and good advice to me.
He cares for me. He loves me. And by all the stars in the sky, I care for him. I love him, too.
Dmitri would not be a belly flop.
He gently lifted my chin as his blue eyes bore into mine with a fervor and passion that felt like a slap to my soul.
“You feel it, don't you? You feel the pull towards me. We belong together, Kaylis. It's not coincidence that we reconnected after years of silence. What happened then was nothing compared to what can happen now. We grew up and found each other. That just doesn't happen to every one. That's something special and meaningful to me. You were my light in the darkness, and I can't believe you are mine. It still blows me away. It's like pulling a star from the sky.”
With a gentle ferocity I never knew Dmitri possessed, he kissed me.
Who am I kidding?
It wasn't just a kiss.
Our souls mingled.
Dmitri's mouth moved against mine as if whispering all the things he adored about me, as I did the same to him. The touch of his hand against my cheek and under my ear sent me reeling and I sagged against him, delighting in the strength of his embrace. My arms wrapped around his neck, to steady myself and to press my body harder against his as sensation washed over. The prickle of his stubble ignited something deep within and a moan escaped the cavern of my throat to pass through his lips.
The tiny sound excited him, I know it did by the way his hands moved from cradling my face to wrapping around me, grabbing fistfuls of my dress's back and holding me tight against him and his growing passion. A growl rumbled deep in his throat as his kiss hardened against my mouth. I kissed back just as fierce. Electricity shot through me to make the hair on my arms and nape stand on end and every nerve ending tingle with anticipation. There was just something so right in the world with he and I embracing beneath the polished silver moon. I could spend a thousand years kissing Dmitri, content to savor his lips alone.
Then the oral assault stopped. Dmitri put space between us; I felt as though I had just stepped too close to the cliff's edge and lost purchase. I wanted him against me again, so close I could feel the muscles shifting and holding me his willing prisoner in those welcoming arms. I wanted to taste him again, to breathe in the scent that was his and the most potent aphrodisiac known to Kayliskind.
Dmitri's breath was coming in as ragged pants as my own. “There's something I want to tell you before we go any further, Kaylis.” He stood up and reached out for my hand to help me arise. We walked back to my vehicle. He helped me up so I was sitting on the hood, reclined against the windshield, and he joined me. The entire time, my heart pounded a samba beat against my ribcage. The magic was over tonight? Something big lurked on the horizon, I could tell.
“There were a couple reasons I went back to Croatia. Djed's funeral was one, but I needed to speak to his lawyer. I, uh, I gave up my part of the company.”
His family owned a fleet of fishing boats and were one of the leading exporters of fish from the Adriatic sea. The eldest son of an eldest son... they were old school about family loyalty. Dmitri living in the United States got tolerated because it was assumed that when the time came, he would take his place in the family business and beget more Branimirs to ensure the empire's legacy. Until then, he headed the San Diego branch of Branimir Imports. My jaw dropped as he continued.
“I gave my inheritance to my younger brother... and cashed out. Well, traded Ifan for his inheritance, really. Djed anticipated it, though my father denied it. Djed gave me his blessing before he passed away... it took a deathbed promise made by my father before Djed let go. When I go back to La Jolla, I'm selling my condo. Right after I flew into Sacramento, I signed the papers for a house I bought online... escrow went through. I want to be closer to you, Kaylis.”
I was in shock. “You're not going back to Europe?” Whatever he said after giving up his portion of his family's legacy hadn't yet registered with my brain.
“Oh, I will probably go back... but not stay there for any length of time. My future is here. I got my US citizenship while I served in the Marine Corps... that did not please my parents. I've wanted to live in the states since I was a kid. I think Short Circuit had something to do with it. Any place that had robots like that had to be cool.” He smiled. “I really wanted a Johnny 5 of my own.”
“Why?” Disbelief rolled off my tongue. The ability to wrap my mind around him giving up the helm of his family's conglomerate was something I lacked at that moment. I knew his interests lay elsewhere, that he was bored with his job in the family trade... but to give up a legacy and the security that accompanies?
“I told you already. I want to be closer to you. I fucked up back in high school. And then when you came to see me back the day... I fucked up and cheated myself out of something really cool. I don't want to do that again. I love Sacramento. But I'm willing to live in the wilds of NorCal if it means you're in the picture with me. You can be my Sherpa. I can't tell almond trees from walnut. Or hay from alfalfa. You can tell me which herds are dairy cattle and which are for steaks. You have this knowledge you can share with me. I'm happy to learn all the rustic yee-haw stuff if you're the one to teach me. I want to be with you and I'm making it happen. I want more than a friendlationship or friends with benefits. Can't say it plainer than that. And I know that if I'm on board, you will be too.”
Oh my God.
He touched me deeply with his confession. What happened in the day was high school drama, long overlooked because kids do stupid things. When the beast inside Mike would rear his ugly head, I would conjure up the memory of a sweet guy who looked miserable as he told me I was just a rebound, that he wasn't over Lorryn yet and he was sorry that his actions hurt me. And four years ago, when he and I severed contact because of Lorryn's interference once again... I forgave him because life with him, even on the fringes, was preferable to life without him at all. I was content to accept his friendship because I believed that was the extent of what I'd get of Dmitri. That he wanted something deeper stunned me.
“You want to be with me? How long did it take for you to come to this conclusion?” Because until he said otherwise, I figured he saw me as a good friend with a nice ass. Someone good/fun/attractive enough to fool around with, but not worth jeopardizing a secure friendship in case romance went awry, again.
“About thirty seconds after you got in your rental car to head back to Albuquerque when you visited me in '07.”
My jaw dropped. “Then why exactly did we stop talking? Because that really sucked.” Although right now I sat next to him beneath the twinkling cosmos, the hurt of him willingly jerked by Lorryn's leash one too many times came through to sting his ears.
“We stopped talking because I had my head up my ass and hated hearing Lorryn bitch and complain that since she knew me longer, I needed to be with her... which, uh, didn't work. I cut you both out so I could get my head on straight. That didn't last too long, since I apologized like six months later to you. I haven't spoken to her since.”
A deep sigh escaped my lungs. “And what if she tries to thwart your will once again? Am I going to get kicked to the curb because you just can't help yourself where she's concerned?” Twice stung by the same wasp. I sure as hell didn't want to set myself up for another sting.
Dmitri's nose wrinkled as if he got a whiff of cat shit. “You're not going to get kicked to the curb. She had her chances and blew them all. She's toxic to me. I want nothing to do with her ever again. Seriously, I could be happy never seeing her again.” His face relaxed and he smiled. “I don't know if you trust me on it or not, but I'll show you. If push comes to shove, I know what I'm going to do. I'll tell her to kick rocks and get out of here. I want you, not her.” The tone of his voice sealed his determination with me. “You have my word on it.”
“After much pondering, I've decided I'm on board. Having your word on a certain matter pretty much check mates any concerns I may have had. Get prepared for an edu-ma-kation from Glenn County's finest, darlin'.”
“That's another reason I like spending time with you. For a girl, you're pretty funny.”
“Thanks. It's good to know that my breasts and ovaries do not detract from my sense of humor.” I smiled at him, tingly and giddy about the fact that even though my seduction got derailed, the big thing I sensed turned out to be something so sweet and shocking. Tonight was a night to remember in many ways. A night that made the soul sing in delight from the mere presence of one of my best friends, and echo with an aria of love.
Dmitri's crush on me rivals the crush I have on him... how cool was that? From the top of my head to the bottom of my feet, I felt alive in a way that felt very familiar but I couldn't quite place.
“No, your breasts are a nice addition to the sense of humor and curvy legs. Not to mention the big-picture mind that I believe isn't as intimidating as I'd like to think. As for your ovaries, well, I'm ignorant and can only enjoy the being that is you.”
I laughed. “The last thing I want to be to you is intimidating.” I tilted my head to the side in a flirtatious manner. “So, homefry... stargazing or what?”
“Or what sounds ominous.” The soft way he drawled it lit the fires within me once again.
“It's only ominous if you lack a sense of adventure which I am convinced you do possess, else you wouldn't have taken up bullet dodging as a career choice.”
He barked a short laugh. “Well, when I enlisted, we weren't at war. I wasn't looking to dodge bullets full time, professionally.”
“I bet you looked amazing in uniform.” Him in navy blue with a sword in his hand... that's mind candy to me. Never thought of myself as an uniform groupie, but whether it's dress uniform, fatigues, turnout clothing, or civvies... the man is yummy to me.
“So I've been told.” Dmitri said it so casually, that I found it funny.
“Still have your sword?”
“It's a sabre. And yes, but not on me.”
I swallowed hard. This was the moment I thought about when Dmitri and I sat in the sushi restaurant, stoking each others leg, the moment I go all rawr-tigress-woman and pounce on his ass.
I am horny, hear me rawr.
A deep breath. “Awww, it's a shame you don't have your sabre on you, because I happen to have a sheathe with me all the time for such fun.”
Dmitri sat up a little with a grin upon his face. His tongue worked circles on the inside of his cheek while that mind of his formed a reply to my playful opening. “Well, I do have something pokey on me, but it lacks the sharp edge of steel.”
“Oh, that sounds promising...”
Blue eyes gazed with a soft look into my hazel peepers as Dmitri settled back against the windshield with me. His hand grasped mine, and he indicated I could hop aboard the Dmitri train.
Whoo-whoooo! All aboard!
I straddled his lap and without hesitation, began kissing his lips and wiggling my derriere against his groin to be rewarded. Dmitri's kisses moved from my lips to my neck, and then to the magic spot behind my ear. I couldn't suppress the breathy moan that reverberated in his ear. With that, his lips returned to mine with a delicious fervor.
A hand brazenly searched out the hidden zipper of my dress. Too bad it wasn't on the back, where both hands now roamed. Dmitri whispered against my lips, “How do I get you out of this getup?”
I whispered back, “Let me show you.” With a lean back into upright sitting position, my hand made for the zipper hiding on my side. I grinned at him and unzipped. With a deft movement, I lifted the dress over my head and flung it onto the luggage rack of the Jeep. Now I wore nothing but black lingerie and stockings as I straddled his bulging lap.
“You look amazing but those panties have to go.”
Sounds good to me. Thankfully the moonlight hides raging full body blushes pretty well. And now the moment I could appreciate Jet's unsolicited advice about putting the garter belt on first, then panties. That way I can peel off my undies and still be sporting my stockings in style. How she knows such things, I'll never know, but that she shared her wisdom with me will be thanked with truffles.
“Alrighty then. But if I lose things below my waist, then you have to as well. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Let that be your first lesson living full time in NorCal.” I rolled off him and onto my back. A little lift of my ass and my undies gained freedom to be flicked atop my crumpled dress.
While I did my thing, Dmitri was busy getting undressed. Clark Kent has nothing on Dmitri and the dexterity he mustered to get nude mere moments after I removed my bra. The black garter belt still encircled my waist.
Once again I straddled his now bare lap and leaned forward to kiss his lips and then his neck. One of his arms wrapped around my back, why the other guided a nipple into his mouth. My ass wiggled and he responded by sliding inside me. I raised myself upon my knees so I could work him deeper within.
That moment, I felt blissfully alive.
About ten minutes after, however, Dmitri and I retreated to inside the Jeep to resume naked fun time due to massive amounts of mosquito bites on tender parts. Otherwise, that evening with Dmitri has forever been branded to my mind. Was it worth the wait to hear him say he wanted me in his life? Um, yeah. Way yeah.
I'm sure my eyes had glazed over during my reverie in response to Neilsinhaur's query.
“Are you ready to dig deep into yourself?” The good doctor's voice rang out in the quiet room.
After a deep sigh, I replied. “I'm here, aren't I?”
“So it would seem.” From his seat at the desk, he flipped a switch and the lights dimmed. “I would like you to look at the mural in front of you.” It must have been a knob he turned to make tiny little fiber optic lights twinkle within the mural, giving a realistic sun-dappled feel to the mural. Neilsinhaur spoke low. “As you stare at the mural, I want you to find your way to the staircase you've been traversing in your homework. Find your path.”
I did as he requested. It wasn't hard to get lost within the mural. If one looked close enough, one could see the outline of a buck grazing near trees, and a trio of does around him. A gray squirrel climbing up a pine tree trunk. Near the center bottom, a red fox vixen and her litter of kits stalked amid tall grasses and a mountain lion perched on a boulder, basking in sunlight. I could almost hear the twitter of meadowlarks echoing through the forest.
I began to do the meditative breathing—in through nose, hold and exhale through mouth and sank deeper into the mural. The details seemed to engulf me and I could easily get lost in the thought of wandering amid such beauty.
My staircase lay in the the middle of the forest, before the land sloped up to mountain peaks. Past the mountain lion. Eyelids drooped half-closed as my breathing slowed to a gimpy snail's pace. Deeper into the forest I gazed, mentally guiding myself to that pit of horror. I knew exactly where it was in the forest, knew exactly where to go, and it wasn't long before I found what I searched for.
“I'm there.” Spoken softly, almost like a breath.
“I am here with you. I cannot go through the door with you, but you are never alone. Walk down those steps. Get to the door at the bottom.”
Another deep breath and I began acending the stairs. It was the same as before, just louder wailing and thuds when I got to the door. Dark, impossibly dark and with nothing but those damnable sounds to haunt my ears, I spoke to Neilsinhaur. “I'm at the door.”
“Open the door before you, Kaylis.
So I did. The iron loop, strangely warm in my hand, turned with a creak and revealed the world of my inner demons.
His voice came through the blackness, a beacon of light from the land of the living. “When you are ready, walk through, Kaylis.”
A deep breath of air filled my lungs, and with an exhale, my sails unfurled. I walked through the portal.
When I passed the threshold I came to a startling realization as my surroundings soaked into my mind.
Oh holy fuck.
I am a twenty-first century Alice who just fell down the rabbit hole of her own psychosis.