Authors: Bertrice Small
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Erotica, #Women's Fiction, #Friendship, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Romantic Erotica
"What happened to my college fund? The one he was always shoving in our faces every Christmas morning, and bragging about?" J. J. wondered.
"Those papers he asked you to sign a couple of months ago, right after your eighteenth birthday?"
"Yeah, something about taxes," J. J. said.
"That's where the money went," Nora said.
"You mean he stole our college funds?" J. J. was outraged.
"Well, honey, it was his money, after all," Nora began.
"Oh, crap, Ma! Don't defend him. Please don't defend him! Every efffing Christmas for as long as I can remember he was waving the year-end statement at us, and saying how we'd never have to leave college with a lot of debt. That his father did it for him, and he was doing it for us. What a scam! Where's the money gone?"
"I don't know," Nora lied. "Maybe it's just one of those legal negotiating tactics that Rick says we're going to see a lot of, honey."
"I'm going to lose my soccer scholarship if I don't go this year. They're not going to hold a sports scholarship until I can come."
"Well, he has paid your sister's first year at law school," Nora reminded her son.
"Yeah, he would. Jill was always his favorite," J. J. said almost bitterly. "And think of the bragging rights he's got. 'My daughter is at Duke Law.' He's probably yapped about it so much already that he couldn't not pay. He knows Jill will get the moneys she needs for her other two years. Besides, it actually isn't costing him any more than if she'd done her undergrad work in four years instead of three. He's always been a cheapskate, Ma, and you know it. Damn! What the hell am I going to do?"
"J. J., you wanted the truth, and I've told you the truth," Nora said. "We will find a way, I promise you. But there's more, honey. My car's lease is almost up, and I can't afford to buy it. It has to go back to the dealership. Your car is about to become the family car. I'm sorry. Daddy won't buy the car for me, and he won't pay for car insurance either. Rick is seeking insurance we can afford."
J. J. looked up at her. His face was that of the Jeff she had once known. "Ma, why is he doing this to you? To us? What did we do wrong?" His voice was strained.
"Honey, I don't know. You know there's another woman involved. I think your father wants everything to be perfect for them. The problem is he can't make it perfect without a lot of money. He wants to sell the house. He's taken the college funds for himself. He's jettisoning his old life to make a new life. He doesn't know what else to do, I'm afraid. But J. J., I don't want you to worry. I'll do the worrying for this family. You need to concentrate on your exams. I will not let your father sell this house from under us. It is my house. Our home. He's not going to get it. Okay?" She tipped his face up to hers, looking directly into his blue eyes. "Okay?" she repeated.
He gave her a weak smile. "Okay," he said. "But I think Dad's a real shit, Ma, and don't yell at me for using that language."
"Not this time," Nora told him. "I am forced to agree with your rather astute assessment, my son." She gave him a small smile.
J. J. grinned back. "I don't mind if I have to stay home. You need someone to look after you," he told her.
"You are going to college, young man," Nora said firmly. "And I'm going to learn how to operate a computer, and take a course in how to get a job so I can support myself, and you. It's an adventure, J. J., and I'm actually looking forward to it."
"You are the greatest, Ma," he replied. "I would have thought that you would have gone to pieces over this, but you haven't. You're real strong. You even seem happier, and you're even starting to look different. Prettier."
"Thanks, babe," she said. "Now go study, and I'll start dinner." His words surprised her. After he had disappeared from the kitchen, she walked into the hall and looked at herself in the mirror. Was she beginning to lose weight? And her face seemed to have lost those stress lines she had been wearing for months. Nothing like a whole lot of loving to make a woman feel better, Nora thought mischievously. She could hardly wait to get to The Channel. She returned to the kitchen and began getting the supper ready for the two of them.
Afterwards she curled up in the den with a magazine, waiting, waiting for her son to go to bed. Just before midnight he came down, got himself a glass of milk, and said, "I'm going to hit the sack now, Ma. You really should go to bed yourself."
"Good article," she told him, waving the magazine. "I'll be up eventually." She heard his footsteps retreating back upstairs. She waited another hour just to be certain. Then she crept upstairs, and peeped in his room. J. J. lay deep in sleep. Taking the empty milk glass, she slipped from the bedroom, closing the door softly behind her. Hurrying back downstairs, she put the glass in the dishwasher, and then almost ran into the den to turn on the television, her eager fingers punching in sixty-nine. And there was her apartment on the screen. Nora placed her hand flat against the screen, and to her vast relief was immediately in the living room.
"Kyle!" she called. "Are you here?"
He came through the open bedroom door, and Nora flew into his arms. He kissed her hungrily. "God, Nora, I missed you! You said you'd come last night."
"I couldn't. J. J. is home at night now. Kyle, if he came into the den now, what would he see?" she asked.
"I guess what's here," he told her. "I don't really know."
"Then I can't stay," Nora said. "I can't take the chance of his seeing this."
"Don't go," he begged her. "I need you, baby."
She could see the thick ridge beneath his black silk boxers. "I need you too," she said. "But it's too dangerous, Kyle."
"Look," he began reasonably, "from the other side you can just see the living room. If we went into the bedroom and closed the door, if anyone came into your den, all they would see is the living room. And if the kid's asleep, Nora, we have time. Is he a sound sleeper? Does he wake up in the night?"
"J. J.?" She laughed. "No. When he socks, he's good for at least six hours."
"Then we can take an hour for ourselves, can't we?" he tempted. "I've got some very nice champagne on ice in the bedroom, and I've been eating raw oysters all evening waiting for you." He pulled the sash of her robe open, and began to play with her breasts. "It would be a shame to let this go to waste," he told her, pulling his penis from his shorts. "I want to do you, Nora. I need it. You need it too."
She swallowed hard. She did need it. All afternoon she had been thinking about screwing him. "You're certain if we close the bedroom door, we'll be safe?"
"Pretty certain," he told her, pushing her through the bedroom door, and kicking it shut behind him. He took her head between his hands and kissed her again. "Just an hour, Nora. Then I will let you go."
She shrugged the silk robe off and reached down to fondle him with both hands. Reaching beneath, she cuddled his balls in her palm. They were cool to the touch. She tickled them lightly with her fingers.
He slid to his knees, and began to kiss and suckle on her breasts. He blew soft little puffs of air onto her flesh. His tongue lapped at her torso. Then his hands slipped around to hold her firmly by her thighs. His tongue poked between her nether lips, seeking her clit, and when he found it he began to tease at it with quick jabs.
"Yes! Yes! Yes!" Nora said breathlessly, feeling the heat begin to rise up within her. "Oh, Kyle, that's so nice, but I really need to be fucked, darling. I've been dreaming about it all day."
He stopped and stood up. "A little more foreplay, Nora. It's nice, and it will make what comes even better."
He lay atop her on the bed for several long minutes, kissing her face, his arms wrapped around her. His body against hers was wonderful. Then at a whispered command Nora drew her left leg up and Kyle pushed his penis into her wet vagina. He fucked her slowly, stroke after stroke after stroke, until she was almost ready to scream. He stopped and murmured another command in her ear, and his tongue licked it for emphasis. Nora raised her right leg, but she did not wrap her limbs about him. She just brought them up. He remained buried within her, and then he began to slowly move on her once more, bringing her almost to the point of orgasm, but stopping again. He whispered again into her ear. Nora raised her legs up farther, rolling backward to raise her hips, allowing him the deepest penetration yet.
She could feel him inside of her. Hard. Oh, God, so hard. She squeezed him with her vaginal muscles, making him moan. Then he began to pump her, and Nora's head began to spin with the pure, hot pleasure he was giving her. She screamed as her own lust burgeoned and then burst in a mutual orgasm, Kyle coming in fierce hot spurts, and her own juices drenching his penis. "Oh, God, that was perfect!" she gasped.
"You think?" he groaned, falling back.
Nora was immediately atop him. "Yes!" she said. "I wish I'd known sex was so good before this. Think of all the fun I've missed. I'll bet Jeff never had it this good. He sure didn't give it to me like you do, Mr. Gorgeous."
He grinned up at her. "Remember, I'm everything you ever wanted, Nora. That's the way it works here in The Channel."
"I wish I could stay here," she said. "Oh, not forever. Just for a little while to get away from everything unpleasant that's going on in my life right now."
Kyle looked thoughtful. "I never heard of anyone taking their vacation here, but I suppose you could ask the administrator, Mr. Nicholas."
Nora rolled off of her lover and, propping herself up on an elbow, looked down at him. "The administrator? You have an administrator? What does he do?" She was surprised. There was someone who ran The Channel? Of course there had to be someone in charge. Was he here, or was he there?
"Mr. Nicholas is in charge of The Channel," Kyle said. "I really don't know what he does, but I suppose someone had to create all of this, and all of us."
"And I can see him?" Fascinating, Nora thought.
"Sure! I can make you an appointment, but let's make it when you don't have to worry about your kid. You don't want to rush an appointment with Mr. Nicholas," Kyle told her.
"Have you ever met him?" Nora asked her lover.
He nodded. "You'd like him. Everyone does."
"Other people from my reality have talked to him?"
"Yeah. Some people who visit The Channel are content to just enjoy their fantasies, like your girlfriends Carla and Tiffany. Others are curious, and want to know how it all works, so they go to see Mr. Nicholas."
"You know Carla and Tiffany?" Interesting.
'I know of them, but no," Kyle told her. "I don't know them. I don't fit into their fantasies like I fit into yours, Nora."
"How do you know of them?" Curiouser and curiouser.
"Because I know everything about you, darling. Remember, I'm a part of you," Kyle told her, and then he pulled her down and kissed her.
Nora sighed. "I have to go," she said softly. "I'm so afraid that J. J. will wake up and come looking for me, and find his mother starring in a porn movie." She drew away from Kyle. "Tell me, what should I wear to see Mr. Nicholas?"
"You've got a closet full of nice things, Nora. Open it, and look," he told her.
She got up, and walking across the bedroom floor to the mirrored walls, behind which was a closet, she pushed open one of the doors. Inside was an entire wardrobe of clothing. It was all beautiful. All expensive. And all in the colors she loved. She turned. "Mine?" she asked Kyle.
"All yours," he said. "Like?"
She pulled out a silk wool suit in palest heather mauve. "Oh, yes, I like very much." She put the suit back.
"The Channel offers you everything you want, Nora," he told her.
"That suit sure didn't come from Talbots, like most of my stuff," she noted.
"Your wardrobe here is a bit more elegant, more upmarket," he said.
Nora bent and, picking up her shorty robe, slipped it on. "I do have to go," she said to him.
"When will you be back?" he asked her.
Nora shook her head. "I don't know. With J. J. in the house, I have to be careful."
"I'll be waiting," he promised her.
"How do I get back before closing time?" she wondered aloud. She hadn't even considered that when she made her plans to come tonight.
"Just touch the screen of the plasma telly in the living room. When you turn it on you'll see your den. Good night, Nora, my love."
She blew him a kiss, and hurried back into the living room to turn on the television. When the screen lit she could see her den, in the dimness. Reluctantly she reached out and put her hand flat against the screen. She didn't want to go back, but she had to if she was going to beat Jeff. And no matter how the cards were stacked against her, Nora had already decided her husband wasn't going to get his way this time.
Nora heard nothing from her husband after he had asked her for a divorce. His attorney, Raoul Kramer, had called Rick and said they would all get together after J. J.'s graduation. "No need spoiling the kid's big day," he said.
"It's already spoiled, but maybe a few days will give Jeff a little more perspective," Rick replied. "He can't just dump the woman he's been married to for over twenty-five years without something."
"Sure he can," Kramer laughed. "I'll call you in two weeks, Johnson." And he hung up.
"You looked pissed," his partner, Joe Pietro d'Angelo, said, coming into Rick's office. "Let me guess. The Buckley divorce."
"Joe, we gotta do something. Jeff and his lawyer won't budge. What the hell is going to happen to Nora, and her kids?"
"What did Kramer want?"
"They don't want to discuss anything until after J. J.'s graduation," Rick said.
"Okay, no problem," Joe told him. "They're hoping by putting it off you'll ease up on some of your demands. This is a game, Rick. They won't back down. We won't back down. Jeff Buckley has more to lose than Nora does."
"How do you see that?" Rick asked.
Joe chuckled. "Look, he's divorcing the long-suffering wife for the younger trophy wife. They want to make a nice nest. He's obviously found something, and that's why he wants to sell the house. The kids' college money isn't enough. He wants to be debt free. No mortgage. He paid off the Ansley Court house a couple of years ago. If he sells it, it's all profit except for the agent's commission. And I'll bet he tries to sell it without an agent. No judge is going to let him disenfranchise Nora and her kids. We take it to a judge, and the judge is going to rule Nora stays in the house until they reach a fair settlement. We can hold them off that way, and Raoul Kramer knows it. They want a fast settlement, and we're not going to give it to them unless Jeff gets reasonable."
"Nora wants the house," Rick said.
"I don't think we can get it for her," Joe told his partner. "The best we're going to do is half the value of the house because her father put down half the down payment. And that's the absolute best. Kramer is going to claim she never paid a penny of the mortgage. We're going to have to counterclaim that while she never put money into the house, she did put sweat equity based on her track record as a wife. Nora has always been frugal with Jeff's money. Tiff says she's been wearing the same stuff from Talbots for years. She never buys anything for herself. In other words, her good habits have helped Jeff build the wealth he now wants to squander on a younger new wife."
"God, you're good!" Rick grinned.
Joe grinned back. "I learned a lot at that big practice I worked for in town when I was a callow youth. People with money get real possessive in a situation like this. What do you think Nora will do when this is all over?"
"She's planning to go to the community college to learn computer skills and take a course on how to get a job," Rick said.
"Won't be easy at her age, and with no previous experience," Joe noted, "but if Nora's careful, she'll manage. Has she got an aptitude for anything in particular?"
"You got me," Rick said. "I wonder if Jeff will show up at the graduation. Maureen is friends with J. J.'s girlfriend, Lily Graham. She told Carla that J. J. doesn't want his dad there. That he's really mad at him, especially since he won't pay J. J.'s board at State."
"Yeah," Joe said, "that's something we've got to do for Nora. Tiff was talking to me about it. The kid's got a soccer scholarship for tuition. Why don't the rest of us kick in for his dorm and meal plan? It's only about fifteen hundred apiece. The kid's got a summer job, and he's already lined up an on-campus job. That'll take care of everything else. I'd feel lousy if he lost that scholarship because his father is a horny prick."
"It'll have to come through the girls. I'll talk to Carl Ulrich, and you speak to Sam Seligmann," Rick suggested. "God, I hope Jeff doesn't show up at graduation."
"He's got to be asked, or Kramer will say we're turning the kid against his dad. Judges don't like parents who play divide and conquer," Joe noted.
"I'll check with Carla, but knowing Nora, she'll ask him, because she's just that decent, even if it's wasted on Jeff," Rick answered.
And of course Nora did make certain that her husband was asked to their son's graduation. She had stood over J. J. as he addressed the invitation to his graduation to his father's office, since they had no idea where he was living. After receiving no response, Nora called her husband's office two days before the graduation, but Jeff, according to Carol, his longtime assistant, was unavailable to speak with her.
"I just wanted to know if he's coming to J. J.'s graduation, Carol," Nora said. "We sent his invitation to the office. Maybe it didn't arrive? But graduation is in two days. This weekend."
"Oh, he got the invitation, Mrs. Buckley," Carol said. "I opened it, and gave it to him myself. I can't imagine J. J. graduating already. I came to work for Mr. Buckley the summer just before J. J. started kindergarten. It doesn't seem possible that much time has passed. I'm sure he'll be there in spite of everything."
Nora laughed. "I don't want to put you on the spot, Carol, but satisfy my curiosity. Just a yes or no will do. Does she work in the office?"
There was a long pause, and then Carol said, "Yes." She lowered her voice. "I'm so sorry, Mrs. Buckley!"
"Thank you," Nora responded. "Tell Jeff I called, and I'd like to know one way or the other if he is or isn't coming."
"Of course, Mrs. Buckley. Good-bye."
"Good-bye, Carol," Nora said.
"I hope he doesn't come," Jill Buckley said. She had just arrived home that afternoon. "J. J. doesn't want him there, and for once I agree with my brother."
"He's your father," Nora said quietly.
"He's a creep," Jill replied. "Dumping you for another woman is bad enough, Ma, but trying to make you a homeless bag woman stinks."
"It's a negotiating tactic, Jill. Nothing more. You'll learn that in law school. Do you have your summer course set up?"
"Yeah. If my college didn't require those damned gym courses, I could have been through now," Jill grumbled irritably. "At least it doesn't screw up my waitress job."
"If you had taken those gym courses in your first two years instead of waiting until the last minute, you wouldn't have had to take them this year, and miss the other course you needed and will now have to take this summer," Nora reminded her daughter.
"I hate that phys-ed stuff. I'm not an athlete like J. J.," Jill replied.
"Honey, don't you miss not having a graduation?" Nora asked.
"Nah. Lot of bother, Ma. I just want to go to law school, and get on with my life," Jill responded. "And I've got to start thinking of an internship for next summer."
Nora shook her head. "You're your father's daughter," she said.
"Don't say that!" Jill cried. "I'm nothing like him! I don't want to be like him!"
"Honey, I only meant you were organized, and ambitious," Nora soothed. She hated seeing her children so angry with their father. This problem wasn't really theirs. It was hers and Jeff's. Jill had always adored her father. "You have to be nice to your dad, Jill, when he comes. I don't want him taking away your law school tuition this year. There is no way you could go to Duke without him this year, and he seems to be in an odd mood. Remember that."
"Probably his teenybopper girlfriend has him on drugs. Drugs give you mood swings," Jill said nastily.
"Jill! I have no idea how old or how young this woman is. Don't say things like that," Nora scolded.
"Ma, you know she's got to be younger. When a man has enough money, and is happy in his job, the only thing he wants is red-hot sex. I learned that in psych. I don't think you and Dad were having red-hot sex, if you were having sex at all."
"Enough!" Nora said sharply. "Your father wants a divorce. I'm happy to give him one. Our only disagreement is money. Let it go, Jill. I don't want to hear any more about this. Dad and I will both be happier apart."
And it couldn't all come soon enough, Nora thought to herself. She hadn't seen her husband in several weeks, and to her surprise she wasn't unhappy. In fact she was downright happy, and she was looking forward to starting her own life anew. Rick assured her that they would get a decent settlement out of Jeff eventually. He explained why Jeff couldn't sell the house from under her, but he didn't have the heart to tell her that in the end the house would be sold. That news would come later when there was no other choice. For now it was a huge burden off of her shoulders, as was the financial problem of J. J.'s college tuition.
Carla had come to her with a check for six thousand dollars, and when Nora had demurred, Carla had quietly explained that it wasn't right for J. J. to lose his sports scholarship, and that it was a graduation gift to him from his neighbors on Ansley Court, who had watched him grow up with their kids. It would pay for his dorm room and his meal plan. Nora cried. There was no way she could deny her son this chance. And he was going to write thank-you notes to them all, or she'd kill him!
On graduation morning J. J. donned his kelly green gown and cap. The school's colors were kelly green and white. Maureen Johnson was wearing a white cap and gown, like all the other girls graduating that day. The two families met on the lawns outside. Pictures were taken. Margo Edwards had come up from South Carolina in her gentleman friend Taylor's private plane. They had flown in early this morning, and would be leaving almost immediately after graduation.
"We have a dance tonight at the club, darling," Margo told her daughter. "You know, Nora, you are looking better now than you have in years. You've lost weight, and you have a positive glow about you. If this is what getting rid of Jeff has done for you, you should have done it sooner," she laughed.
Nora laughed too. "Thanks, Mom," she said. And then wondered what his mother would think if she told her about The Channel, and that she was having the best sex of her life with an imaginary lover.
Since Nora had to turn in her car to the dealer, they squeezed into J. J.'s and Jill's two little cars.
"You really should have told me, darling," Margo said. "You can't be without a car. How are you going to get around?"
"I'm taking J. J.'s car for now. I'll drop him at work and pick him up every day. That way I'll have the car for errands, and he's not taking it to college anyway this year. He's got it exclusively Friday nights until Sunday church. It won't be so bad, Mom," Nora said. "Besides, I've got to pay the insurance now."
"Jeff is a monster!" Margo said, and she turned to her escort. "This is a perfect example of his perfidy, Taylor. Didn't I tell you?"
"Now, honey, don't you go getting yourself all upset," Taylor Bradford said. "I think your Nora will just be fine, won't you, girly?"
"Yes, I will," Nora agreed sweetly, and she winked at him.
They were all laughing as they parked and got out of the car. J. J. and Maureen ran off to join their classmates. Nora and her family walked to the soccer field, where chairs had been set up for the graduation. The day was sunny, with a light breeze. It was perfect June weather.
"Who is that?" Carla asked as a sleek dark gray limousine pulled into the parking lot. "Oh, Jesus, Nora! It's Jeff, and he's brought the Jennifer with him."
"I cannot believe the effrontery of that man!" Margo gasped.
Nora stared. Well, there was the answer to her question. The next Mrs. Buckley was not a great beauty, but she was a very striking young woman. Tall. Blond. Willowy.
Nora instantly regretted her mauve-and-green floral dress. While it certainly fit her better than it had in a long while, it wasn't the kind of dress in which you wanted to meet your successor. It screamed ordinary. The Jennifer was dressed in a pale gray silk suit with a fitted jacket. She was wearing a pair of the highest sling-back heels Nora had ever seen. They were straight out of Carrie's closet on
Sex and the City
. Her blond hair was pulled back neatly.
"Let's get out of here," Carla hissed. "I don't want to be introduced now."
"Agreed," Nora said. "God, I look so fat in this dress, and she looks like she lives on lettuce leaves."
"You do not look fat in that dress!" Margo said loyally. "You look lovely."
Oh God, Nora thought, lovely? She didn't want to look lovely. She wanted to look smashing and sexy. She wanted to look like she looked in The Channel. Oh, Kyle! She hadn't seen him since Jill got home. Jill was a night owl, and there was no chance to sneak into The Channel with Jill home. But right now she wanted to look like she did with Kyle, and she wanted to have him on her arm. Wouldn't that surprise old Jeff?
They found an open row, and crowded in. The Seligmanns, the Pietro d'Angelos, and the Ulriches were already waiting for them. Just enough chairs, including Margo and Taylor. No room for Jeff and his Jennifer. Too bad.
"Jeff just arrived in a big limo with his Jennifer," Carla hissed to the others.
"Such a nerve," Rina said. "I wouldn't want a nerve like that in my tooth."
"Do you think they'll come back to the house for the party?" Tiffany asked.
"It's his son's graduation," Nora whispered at them. "I'm sure he'll come back, and please, for the love of God, no confrontations. I've got enough trouble, and the lawyers start talking again on Monday. We don't want Jeff feeling hostile."
"I can't talk to him, Ma," Jill said. "That woman with him isn't much older than I am. It's embarrassing."
"No, Jill, what's embarrassing is wearing a seven-year-old flowered dress when your husband's next wife-to-be looks like she stepped out of
. So shut up, and be nice to your father," Nora snapped irritably. "This situation isn't about you. Got it?"
"Good for you, girly," Taylor Bradford murmured, and he patted her hand.
The graduation ceremony began. It was like every graduation day.
Pomp and Circumstance
. Welcome to Parents and Guests. A small speech by the principal. The Salutatorian's Speech. The Valedictorian's Speech. The Awards. The Conferring of the Diplomas. The Dismissal, when all the mortarboards went flying in the air to the happy shouts of the graduating class. And it was over.
J. J. headed toward his family. "I saw him," he said to his mother.
"Be nice. Remember what we talked about," she warned him.
And then Jeffrey Buckley and his companion were upon them. "Congratulations, son," he said. "I'd like to introduce you to my friend, Heidi Millar."