Oops, I missed last Friday due to connectivity issues in Tulum, Mexico (!!). Here, then, is the third installment from the “September” section of my novel PUSHING THE RIVER. Watch for the fourth next Friday!
“Now, exactly what is our role here, Madeline?” Auggie was barely able to contain his delight. “What do you need from us?”
After the walk with Ellie, Madeline’s renewed burst of enthusiasm for the prospect of Living in the Moment manifest in the form of shooting off a text to Dan: “Hey, no idea what you’re up to this evening, but having some friends over for dinner. Join us later if you’re free. I made pie.” He had texted back that he’d love to come by, but didn’t want to infringe on her time with good friends. He suggested he stop by around eight-thirty.
“Auggie, you’re being weird,” Madeline said.
“No, no. I’m serious. We want to be there for you. We just need to know what our role is.” Auggie radiated a decidedly boyish quality, in the best sense. And in his unbridled enthusiasm for the task at hand, he was adorable. Beth nearly always found him adorable, and made this obvious in frequent, glowingly loving glances at him. Across the dinner table from Madeline, the two of them radiated exuberance, good will and love. It delighted Madeline, and made her misty, and wistful, and, as her son would have said when he was a little boy, sickenated.
Auggie continued: “I mean, are we chaperones here? Do you want us to stick around until after he leaves? We would love to do that for you.” He put his arm around Beth, and pulled her head over to lean against his own. “Wouldn’t we, babe? Chaperones!” He caught Beth mid-sip with her wine, and as she gurgled an assent into her glass, he said, “Or wait. Do I have the wrong idea here? Maybe you want us to leave right away! Maybe you’re dying to be alone with him! Maybe the whole ‘why don’t you come over while I have friends here thing’ is just a ruse to make it seem innocent.” Beth could barely get her wine glass safely onto the table, she was laughing so hard.
“Auggie, seriously, don’t do anything one bit differently than if Dan wasn’t here. Really. Stay as long as you want to stay. Leave when you want to leave! Like always!! ”
“What about a sign? Maybe we should come up with a sign – two signs – one if you think it’s going well, and you want us to leave so the two of you can be alone; one if it’s not going so well, and you want us to stay.”
“It really doesn’t matter what I say, does it? You’re deep into your own thing here.”
“F I N E,” Auggie said. “Mission aborted.”
“More pie, Auggie?”
By the time Dan tumbleweeded through the front door and into the dining room, Auggie and Bess had pushed their chairs back from the table in healthy respect of keeping a certain distance from the remaining rubble of pie. Auggie and Bess looked Dan up and down while Dan looked the tumult of plates up and down, and before fifteen minutes of interesting conversational tidbits had criss-crossed the dining table, Auggie turned squarely to face his wife and said, “Well, honey, we really need to get going.”
“What?!?” Madeline said, nearly before the words were fully out of his mouth. “Really?!?”
“Really. Come on, babe.” And with an incredible efficiency of movement, he grabbed Bess’ hand, pulled her up from her chair, and led her towards the front door while both of them exclaimed the virtues of the food and the wine and the company, until the door shut behind them and their continued words drifted into the evening air. On the other side of the door, the entire atmosphere inside the house shifted by the time Madeline took the twenty or so steps back to sit at the dining room table, side by side with Dan. He gave a faint chuckle. “Nice folks.”
“The best.” Madeline said.
They sat facing the table laden with the evening’s detritus. As if he had read the crusted plates like so many tea leaves, Dan said, “This house is so you. You are everywhere.”
“Really?” Madeline retorted, more than a tad skeptically, as he had arrived less than a half hour before and seen only two rooms. “How’s that?”
“It’s so clear what this house is. It’s the place that you created, and have worked hard to protect – a haven to encircle all of the people you love.”
“Geez,” Madeline thought to herself. “Just how much longer do I have to wait to fuck this guy?” But what she said aloud was, “Huh.”
“There is love everywhere,” Dan said, still looking down at the plates.
“Maybe not quite yet,” she considered. “But soon. Very, very soon.” The thought exhilarated her, thrilled her, yet also filled her with quiet apprehension. She said in a pitch that was tauter and higher than usual. “Would you like a house tour? Want to see the rest of the Haven of Love?”
Strolling the myriad of rooms, Dan remained decidedly quiet. Madeline ran her fingers along walls and gestured with giddy abandon as she dug up tidbits of historical facts about the 100-year-old house, and recounted treasured memories of her thirty years within the confines of its walls. Dan nodded once or twice. He knit his brow now and again.
The house tour completed, Madeline plopped down beside Dan on the sofa, their thighs pressed together. The arc of the evening – the deep pleasure of Auggie and Bess, the astonishment of Dan actually getting it about her house, the chance to tell its stories – had left her in woozy, buoyant spirits. She sighed aloud and rested her head against Dan’s shoulder. He reached his arm to encircle her, kneaded her shoulder, then withdrew it.
“Are you feeling it? Are you as totally uncomfortable as I am?”
For a split second Madeline thought he must be pulling her leg. An attempt at a bit of ha-ha hipster ironic humor; but one quick look at his face persuaded her that this was not the case. “What?” she said.
“You can’t tell me you’re not feeling the same. How completely different this is from last night. How awkward.”
“No…I…I’m so sorry that you’re feeling uncomfortable.”
“Last night just flowed. Every minute. Flow.” Dan sat forward on the couch, leaning as if ready to spring.
“You look like you’re thinking pretty seriously about leaving,” Madeline said.
“I am. Thinking about it. This is just so…weird. I’m not sure what I should do”
Something old, and very deep, within Madeline felt a profound shame. She tamped down the instinct to apologize over and over, to do anything, to do everything, that might possibly make Dan feel better, like her, want to stay, want to hold her, want her. She was also aware of a flash of rage, an intense desire to slap Dan’s flow-spouting face. Inside, a part of her screamed, “Fuck you, you arrogant fuck!” Alongside the shame, and the blind anger, the most profound feeling of all was a wish that something, just one thing, could be simple. Clear. Easy. Known.
With swift and precise movement, Madeline pushed Dan backwards on the couch, threw her leg across his lap so she fully straddled him, and gripped his head between her two hands. “Want to know what I think you should do?” Madeline moved in, her lips, tongue, teeth showing all of the threat, and all of the promise, of a wild and starving animal. She threw her head back, panting hard. “Any questions?” she asked.
Taking Dan’s hand, she led him to the staircase. With her back to him, Madeline ascended with measured, deliberate steps, resting their entangled fingers against her ass, with every intention that he pay keen attention to it. She took her time lighting the two candles on her bedside table, her back still to Dan, waiting for the match to burn all the way down before she blew the slightest puff of air. Standing behind her, Dan reached one hand out to caress her buttocks, took a step forward, and cupped her breast with his other hand. They stood for a time, motionless, listening to one another’s breathing; and that marked the last instant of anticipation, or of anything languorous. Madeline ground her ass into Dan’s pelvis, hard, and rocked it from side to side. His fingers dug into the crotch of her jeans.
Clothing flew. Hands could not explore fast enough, could not cover enough ground. Lips, tongues, saliva were everywhere, all at once. The air in the room thickened to a fecund hothouse from the blossoming of body parts and ooze of fluids.
Dan gripped her haunches and pulled her onto him, astride him as she had been on the couch. Madeline ran her hand along his cock as she slid him inside her, and shut her eyes tight to block out any thought, any hint of any sensation, that was not the feeling of his cock reaching into her. Dan seized her hand and enlaced his fingers with enough force that Madeline’s eyes snapped open. Her first inclination was to gasp. She had never seen a look quite like the one on his face. His impossibly blue eyes wide open, his body trembling, Dan looked right at her, right into her, with a hungry yearning that pronounced there would be no place for a single part of her to hide. A sound arose from deep in her gut, a sound she was not even sure was her own. And when that sound reached up through her body and spilled from her mouth, she was gone.
A first draft of this chapter was originally posted in 2013, in three installments.