They fell in love again this past weekend.
The last year for them had been different and difficult. He had pursued the corporate job He had taken to survive. She had endured much more: A stressful, years long project at work. A drifting brother, wife and three dogs who needed respite for nine months. The sudden but not unexpected death of Her father.
There had been for Her some surprising diamonds discovered in the struggle as well: Her brother’s presence was a comfort as the two of them grieved together. The frequent trips back to Her Texas meant seeing Her children more. Planning for Her son’s upcoming wedding brought some joy and anticipation.
Between His job and Her many distractions, They had spent less time together than they had. Their relationship didn’t struggle, but the casual intimacy of weekends that often stretched into weeks was missing. Time alone had been wedged in unnaturally as life intervened.
The last month all that had changed. They had found time for weekends alone Tetrised into the busy of their lives. This weekend was especially private and intimate. They actually found time and mental space for a date. They were able to savor time together rather than rush. They accidentally fell into intimacy when they thought they were doing something else.
They loved each other. They had loved each other now for a long time. But this weekend, They fell in love again.
He took his seat for the daily gathering.
To his right sat a 28th level Paladin, veteran of battles too numerous to count. All of those memories melding into a mass of red in his mind. Today he thought about the joy he had in conquest, longing to not be here but on a basement battlefield.
When he looked to his left he could see Barbara, the effervescent blonde broker. Her phone sounded and she looked at the black-mirrored surface wide-eyed, seeking her next deal. He shot a smile in her direction but she didn’t look up.
Relationship coach Rachel sat across from him. Her mind was distant as she pondered how to help Alice repair her broken marriage. The hurt of infidelity was a rift difficult to mend. She would find a way to bridge the chasm.
To Rachel’s right Todd was taking his seat as well. He was still sweating a bit from the gym, despite the shower. Two-a-days. He opened his Tupperware and quickly plunged his fork into the mass of egg whites and brown rice packed at home, leaning forward as he shoveled to his mouth. The IFBB American was in three weeks, he had to be precise with his macros.
Amy was distant as usual, drawing her imagined world into her ever-present sketch book. She was never actually here at The Gathering, an unnoticed mist most days. But the black and white life the rest of the world saw was a deception, her true self lived in a world of vivid colors, swirling around her as she danced.
At precisely 8am the gate was opened. All of their headsets chirped to life. In unison they responded: “Thank you for calling tech support, how many I help you?”
There are truths about life I don’t particularly like.
I don’t like disease and decay are a part of living – if you live long enough – and death if you don’t. It’s not fun or fair or even defensible. But it is true nonetheless.
One truth I particularly hate is this: People value you only in what you provide for them. If you provide them a positive, joyful experience, they will value you because of that experience. They may not value you once that experience, or your ability to provide it, wains.
Duty or obligation may keep a child visiting the nursing home. Fear of loss of even the little bit a failing spouse can provide, believing the alternative is no one, can cause even the abused to stay. Your job is only secure as long as you provide something more valuable to your employer.
Friends are there for us until the price of friendship is higher than its return. Until we become an emotional “money pit” where walking away yields the higher reward.
Honor used to keep people committed. Paying the toll. It was an artificial social constraint that is less seen today. In my opinion, it is good we no longer see obligation as the reason to stay in a relationship, to give to others, to spend our woefully limited emotional and chronological capital on others.
In the midst of this truth, we must ask: What can we depend on to have a personal sense of worth?
The only way to thrive, to live or even survive in the face of this truth is to value yourself. What you give yourself is more important by far than anything you can give to others.
A sense of self that says “I am a person who values me, who values the me I am” overcomes the sense of self-doubt and valuelessness others might project.
I give to others of my time, my emotions, my love not simply because of what they might give to me in return, but because it is my morality to love. I value myself enough to spend my capital on others, as well as on myself, because that is the kind of person I choose to be.
They may not “deserve” it. They may not have “earned” it. I give to them even when it is unrequited because I am that person. The person I am dictates how I live, how I love.
Are there situations, relationships, where I hope for a return? Certainly. There is a level of love I reserve for reciprocation. If it is not, then I may count the cost too high and choose to end the relationship rather than continue the pain of unrequited love.
But those relationships are rare, reserved only for the most intimate.
Loving freely is the mark of Abundance in your life. You are secure in yourself and who you are, knowing someone else’s response to you is not an indication of your value.
Fear robs us of Abundance. Fear someone will “see” us. Fear someone will “reject” us. Fear someone will not “value” us. Fear of not looking “cool” to others.
When we value ourselves, there is no place for fear to assail. We are content and proud of who we are. We love the person we have chosen to be.
The key to valuing yourself is to identify and then live according to your deepest held values. It causes us to respect ourselves.
Warning: This is an erotic story and not for anyone under 18 nor those with a heart condition. You can see the chapter index here.
Pam Hardisty was at the end of a difficult day. When her friend Emily asked if she wanted to go out for dinner, she readily accepted. She pulled into the lot of Barney’s at 6:15 and struggled to find a parking space. She finally spied one at the far end of the lot and pulled in her Camry.
Emily was already at a table in the bar when Pam walked in.
“I need this tonight,” said Pam, sitting at the table.
“I’m sure you do,” replied Emily, “I can’t believe they gave Shae that promotion over you.”
Pam had been assistant comptroller for the last five years. At Earnest & Lowe for twelve. It was common knowledge she was promoted from “Tug” Lowe’s administrative assistant to assistant comptroller for her to “learn the ropes” and take over for him when he retired. While it wasn’t in stone, it was spoken of often. At least, in the first couple years.
Shae Reeder was brought on just two years out of college to be Tug’s new administrative assistant. She was competent enough, but she was young, and a bit flirty with the men. She enjoyed their attention. Her skirts we often too short, with high heels showing her young, fit legs.
It had been 10 years since Pam felt like she turned heads.
Pam had shown her how to do her job in her first months. She did well. She was smart, caught on quickly. Pam was willing to put up with Shae’s flirting as long as she did her job.
“I thought she was my friend, Em.”
Pam could see clearly now Shae’s plan stretched back years, maybe from the time she was hired. She excelled at everything Tug asked her to do. Then she became indispensable to Pam – helping her by often doing the heavy lifting when things became hectic. They both relied on her.
Pam would praise Shae to Tug, often commenting on how helpful and smart she was. She felt as if she were a mentor to the young girl.
All the while Shae was privately saying things to Tug about how overwhelming the job was for Pam, how she needed so much help.
Today, when Tug’s formal retirement was announced, along with his replacement, Shae got the job. Pam pretended to be happy as she willed back the tears.
Tug even reminded Pam of how much Shae would need her. “Shae will rely on you, just like I did, Pam. You guys will make a great team.”
“Reliable Pam,” that’s what people thought of her. Not smart, not pretty, not a leader, just “reliable.”
And Shae was young. Fifteen years younger than Pam.
“She is a snake,” replied Emily. Taking a sip of her wine.
“I don’t want to talk about it.” Monday Shae would be her boss.
“What can I get you?” the waiter had popped up without Pam noticing.
“I think I’ll start out with a martini, extra dirty,” answered Pam.
“Like a Catholic school girl” mouthed Emily, it was their joke.
“Another glass of wine, ma’am?”
“Actually, yes,” Emily replied. This was a good night to get buzzed with a hurting friend.
As Emily and Pam talked, they noticed a young couple, probably in their 20’s, at a booth in the corner. They sat close to each other, making out as if no one else were in the bar.
“That looks like fun,” remarked Emily, nodding to the couple.
“God, I haven’t been kissed like that in years,” said Pam, remembering her youth and feeling a longing she had dismissed. “I don’t miss being married, and I don’t want a relationship, but I could go for a good ‘workout’.”
When their waiter brought their meal, they were both buzzed. Pam took time to apprise him with her eyes, taking in his large arms, muscular build, strong jawline. When he walked away she didn’t mind staring at his round, firm butt.
“I could use some of that,” she remarked, only loud enough to for Emily to hear.
“You know, the first step is probably going on some dates, Pam.”
“Like I said, no relationship, Em. That’s where things get messy. I’m not good at relationships. I just want a roll in the hay on occasion.”
“How long has it been?” asked Emily. “It’s been over a year for me. I could use it.”
“Well,” Pam did the math out loud. “Two years since the divorce and then we didn’t actually have sex for the last five, so seven years or so.”
“Sista, that’s too long. We need to take a trip and go make out with some boys.”
It was almost 10pm by the time Pam walked Emily to her minivan and then made the long walk to her own car. As she sat down in the seat, she thought about the waiter, making a mental note to think about him again, later.
She placed her key in the ignition, then something caught her eye. In this deserted end of the parking lot she noticed an SUV. She could see somewhat clearly inside. The young couple from the bar were in the back, she could see the woman moving rhythmically up and down, while his hands hungrily fondled her breasts and flowed over her body.
Pam was transfixed.
Between the martinis, the talk, the waiter and the couple, her libido was in overdrive. Watching them, she began to rub herself through the thin fabric of her pants. As their thrusts became more intense, she undid her pants and slipped her fingers beneath her panties. She imagined being the woman, riding the waiter, feeling him hard inside her while his hands, lips and tongue worked over her body and breasts.
She moved her hand faster as they did, matching their movements.
When she came, she writhed involuntarily, crying out in pleasure. Once her pulsing had died down and she was able to move again, she hurriedly collected herself, wondering if the couple had heard her. It was the best orgasm in years.
When she got home, she dropped her things in the entryway and stripped before heading up to the bedroom. Just as she was plugging in her phone on the nightstand a text alerted.
“I saw you.” was all it said.
A shot of anxiety cleared any liquor blur Pam was feeling. Saw me? Someone was in the parking lot watching me? Oh, hell. She checked the number. (865) 555-9384. Not in her contacts and she didn’t recognize it.
Must be a wrong number and a weird coincidence, Pam consoled herself.
“You must have the wrong number,” typed Pam.
After five minutes with no reply, she assured herself it was most definitely a wrong number. She thought about the waiter and the couple once more before drifting off to sleep.
He woke a little before 5am Sunday morning.
The weather had finally turned cold and so was his apartment this morning. He lay in bed, refusing to leave the warmth of the covers, wishing Her body was next to him.
They were on a “break.” She is complicated and fragile and wonderful. Her fragile reached its limit at the end of October and they decided to take a break until after the holidays. She needed time to be alone, regroup, read and sleep.
This morning He longed for the feel of Her skin.
They had shared many intimate times. Some of the most intimate had nothing to do with making love. They were travelling, experiencing joys and hardships, joking about Rick the convenience store attendant who called him “Boss” and her “Honey.” Debriefing the day and the week.
But for him the most intimate experiences He had with Her focused on just touching Her, feeling the warmth of Her skin beneath His hands.
When He woke in the mornings, She was usually facing away from him. He would put his arm around Her waist and caress the skin of Her stomach. When they made love, He would caress Her entire body with his palms.
He had told Her “touching your skin nourishes my soul.” This morning, He longed for that nourishment.
Sometimes it’s hard, fighting you for you.
Wrestling not against my error but against your fears.
Sometimes it’s hard, discerning thoughts you can’t verbalize.
Reading your mind without the gift of clairvoyance.
Sometimes it’s hard, giving you unlimited space,
to find the you I’ve already seen and know.
Sometimes it’s hard, reminding you of the good,
when all you can visualize is the pain and hurt.
Every time it’s beautiful, to share our lives,
seeing the joy and the pain together.
Every time it’s beautiful, the love we share,
enjoying intimacy beyond the simple physical.
Every time it’s beautiful, the mundane of life,
being someone at your side who is companion, cheerleader, friend.
Every time it’s beautiful, seeing your joy,
sharing private moments of victory no one else will see.
Every time…it’s wonder, an awe and contentment for me.