In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning

Continued from Plague Life, Part VI

“We’re all humans, after all, and everybody’s got something a little off somewhere.”
                                                                                Haruki Murakami
                                                                                The Fall of the Roman Empire

Megan slipped gently out of bed leaving Joyce fast asleep still nestled on her side. She pulled on her clothes and just barely resisted the urge to kiss her sleeping lover’s cheek. She padded down the hall and peeked into Tommy’s room where he sprawled on his back, snoring lustily. She tiptoed in to lift the covers up to his neck disturbing him not at all.

At the front door she slipped on her sneakers and set the alarm with a three-tone signal giving her twenty seconds to get out. The time on the keypad was 3:37. Pulling the door silently behind her she stepped out into the foggy predawn for the short walk home.

Too early for the morning birds, an owl hooted forlornly over in the woods somewhere. Still tasting Joyce, Megan glided rather than walked, a light tiptoed gait, like wading in neck deep water propelled by the waves of the evening’s passions. It felt as if years of dreamy fantasies and childhood passions had been consummated save for the thick rustling spot that gnawed at her from right behind the drawstring of her sweatpants.  Like any committed dreamer, her fantasies were many, familiar and always available. If she knew nothing else, she knew how to deal with this titillating ache. She paused at the corner, the fog settling shiny on her skin, to watch three deer-mere shadows in the amber glow of the streetlights-clatter down the asphalt before being swallowed by the night.

She let herself in through the garage and went straight for the powder room stopping only to strip off her sweats and panties, dropping them in the laundry basket. She moved to pull her T-shirt over her head but it smelled of Joyce, so she kept it on. In the powder room she peed then, without turning on a light, went to the kitchen for a glass of water from the tap. She could get ice water directly from a nozzle on the fridge, but it was too slow and Megan, gulping, was suddenly in a hurry to get upstairs.

She ducked into the bathroom at the top of the stairs and snatched the bath brush from the hook in the shower. Almost unable to wait she patted her backside with the cool flat wood to hurry herself along. In her bedroom she plopped face first onto the small mountain of pillows, sheets and blankets that passed for a made bed in these times. Lifting slightly onto her side she gritted her teeth and scrunched her eyes then raised the brush high and brought it down with a loud CRACK in the center of her right bottom cheek. “Yeeowch!” she said lightly, surprising herself with how hard it was. She did it again and a third time in the same spot causing her to wriggle a bit and yip a small “Ouch!”

She grabbed a pillow and stuck it between her legs, squeezing it into place after sliding her fingers over her own swollen wetness moaning at the charge the smallest contact brought. The pillow placed, she rolled onto her belly and swatted her left cheek once then again, rhythmically humping the pillow between swats. All corners of the empty house bore audible witness to what was happening in Megan’s bed. She yelped, then sighed as the spanking waxed and waned and grunted when she directed hard contact to the midpoint of her bottom where her legs joined to form and echo chamber that magnified the force and vibration of the blows. After absorbing a stronger punishment than anyone else had given her, she tossed the brush aside and slipped her fingers into herself.

She moaned loudly as she tickled her attentive clit up to the edge then over. She cried Joyce’s name as she came loudly with complete abandon; a long rapturous orgasm that she knew would set an impossible standard for the one that she shared with Joyce. She didn’t break contact, still rubbing, riding down the backside of the mountain until she collapsed on the bed and breathed, smiling, still smelling the scent of another on her face. She gently slid her hand over the hot, dry skin of her tortured bottom. She mewled at the contact and slowly slipped her moist fingers back between her legs, determined to make the second one last.

Continued here The Summons

Plague Life, Part VI

Continued from Plague Life – Part V

“There”, Joyce thought. “I did it.” As if the act to come, whatever it would be, was secondary to her asking for it. She had been afraid she would chicken out.  She’d done it before, with Melissa in college. She hadn’t strung her along exactly, but it could have looked that way. She had wanted Melissa then, just as she wanted Megan now. She had just…chickened out, after some kissing and with Mel’s hand up her skirt sliding down her panties. She had been wet then too. She knew it and Melissa knew it and called her on it later. What had she been afraid of? Whatever it was, she was still afraid of it, but not as much.

Since she had flashed Megan in the garage that night, this-this right now-had been a joke, a flirt maybe, then a fantasy, then a plan. It had taken awhile for Joyce to say it, to give herself over to another with “Do what you want.” And after all the planning, dreaming and fantasizing over the last couple of weeks, she might not have. Might not have said a thing had not Megan allowed her finger to slide between her legs, to discover the same dampness, the same want, the same lust that Melissa had found there years before.

Megan, standing naked beside the bed, wasn’t the kid who babysat anymore. Not even close. Her smile and eager glistening eyes could have kept her attention if not for her small pert breasts, flat stomach and cute little bush that was obviously trimmed. For the occasion? When she bade her turn, she found her bottom full and firm, taut to the touch. “There”, thought Joyce, when Megan snapped the light off.

She lay in the warm darkness having decided to be pliant to…whatever. She had asked Megan to turn and she’d turned. She knew the girl would defer to her, to do whatever she asked. But she had nothing to ask. Not knowing what was coming added a sheen of anticipation she hadn’t felt in years.

The bed shifted as Megan knelt beside her and again as the girl stretched out atop her, breasts pressing into her back and her bush tickling her backside. She allowed her arms to be pulled out to her sides by the wrists and held there, crucified. With her knees Megan pulled Joyce’s legs together and covered them with hers, slowly grinding her pelvis into Joyce’s bottom. She liked being covered but wished for a moment that she was pinned-that she couldn’t move at all.

She let a small sound escape her lips, and Megan answered with a nibble to the back of her neck, still undulating slowly. Megan could taste the goose bumps rising on Joyce’s back and shoulders. She moved down slowly and slipped her knees between her lover’s legs, a wedge opening them. Joyce flowed into the movement, opening and pushing back accepting first her thrusting pelvis then, a leg straddled, Megan’s thigh rubbing firmly into her pussy.

“Oh, God…” Joyce whispered and Megan, as she had with the massage, followed the direction mapped by the sounds. She released Joyce’s wrist and slid her hand enchantingly slowly along her arm, across her shoulder, down her back, across her bum then between her legs. Sliding her own thigh out of the way, Megan slipped a finger easily into Joyce’s wet quim. The move was answered with a soft gasp and a backward thrust giving her the permission to probe deeper and explore freely. One finger, then two then one inside and one rubbing the top. Then a slight withdrawal.

“Roll over.”

When Joyce rolled onto her back, Megan lay beside her, letting her head fall mouth first onto her breasts. She licked first one, then the other, slowly circling the nipples while continuing to slide her finger in and out slowly, keeping a rhythm that Joyce was catching. Abandoning her breasts, Megan slipped her mouth, tongue first down the woman’s stomach, heading for…

“Wait! Wait!” Joyce said breathlessly grabbing Megan’s head.

“What?”

“Ah…” Joyce couldn’t exactly answer as she struggled to sit up.

“What’s the matter?”

“Your fingers are…wonderful. It feels great. You can keep doing that…”

“This?” Megan teased, flicking her finger against Joyce’s obvious and pulsing clit.

“Yeah! Yeah…that’s great. You…you don’t have to go down on me. This is good.” She didn’t believe it even as she said it. She was going to chicken out again. Late in the game this time, but still.

“Good for you maybe.” Megan kept her fingertip on the hard, little nub.  “I want you in my mouth. I want to taste you, lick you, flick you, nibble you and stick my tongue up inside of you. I want to squeeze your bum and have your thighs crush my ears till I can’t hear. I want to fucking swallow you. Now”, she pushed at Joyce’s belly with her head like an insistent kitten, “You lay back down and let me do this.”

“Yes. Yes…it’s just that…” Not to be denied, Megan kept pushing with the crown of her head. “OK…ok…” Joyce said breathlessly. She lay back down happy to have been overruled.

Megan led with her tongue down Joyce’s belly, pausing childishly to probe her deep innie, then through the thicket of soft brush to her moist destination. She pulled her finger then, replacing it with her prodding tongue as Joyce moaned and arched her back.

This wasn’t something Megan did every day. Joyce was the third woman she’d gone down on but that made her the most experienced one in the bed. Joyce made it easy. She pulled back her legs and Megan, kissing the inside of her thighs, left then right, then, true to her words, slipped her hands under to cup her bottom, kneading her cheeks as she plunged her tongue into her.

Megan wished there were lights. She was feeling everything. She was tasting everything, and Joyce’s taste was glorious! Megan closed her mouth over her lover’s pussy, sopping as much with her own as with Joyce’s juices. She felt the wetness on her cheeks and chin and loved the rough feel of hair in her mouth and the buzzing clit on her tongue as Joyce’s breath caught and caught again.

She wanted her on an exam table with bright fluorescents overhead to document every crease, fold and freckle, to see the inside of her legs, see the pulsing of the blood and the tweaking of the tendons. Her thumb had slid over Joyce’s asshole and she wanted to see that. And her ass…

“Megan!” It was a ragged whisper. “I’m going to….”

Megan paused a moment, long enough to cough, “Do it!” before diving back into the wet. She felt a shift and heard a flop-Joyce pulled a pillow over her face-then a muffled squeal. The woman arched higher and Megan squeezed the rock hard apples that was her bottom, holding on as Joyce bucked into her, a wave cresting, then crashed with a single spasm back onto the bed with a cough that almost sounded like a sob.

Megan fell with her and pulled her tongue back, breathing for the first time in what seemed to be a long while. She kissed Joyce’s soft inner thighs and slid upwards pushing a little to get Joyce onto her side. She spooned her then, tossing her arm over her shoulder to rest comfortably on her breast, her glistening cheek on her shoulder.

“You okay?” Megan asked lightly next to her ear.

Joyce reached up and squeezed her forearm. “I am SO okay…”

Megan snuggled. “Good”, she said. “Me too.”

“Thanks for not letting me stop you back there…”

“No way I wasn’t going down there.”

“I don’t know why I….”

“Shhh…doesn’t matter now, does it?”

“How’d you get to be so smart?” Joyce asked.

“I’m not. You’re just dumb”, she teased.

Joyce pinched her forearm lightly. “Brat.”

Megan’s heart skipped at that word. She might have said something, but Joyce’s settled breathing put her off. It was the end of a wonderful evening, not time to start something new.

Continued here In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning

Plague Life – Part V

Continued from Plague Life – Deleted Scenes

A couple of nights later, coming home from a late shift, Joyce called Megan. She was flat on the couch, scrolling through the muted TV. “Hey”, she answered.

“Hey yourself. What’s going on?”

“Quiet”, Megan told her. Tommy’s been asleep for awhile…I was just getting ready to start your dinner.”

“Skip that”, Joyce told her. “I really need you to work on my back tonight. If you’re up to it.”

Megan sat up quickly-as if a different level of attention was required. “…Sure…” she said. “You OK?”

“Yeah, just beat…and sore.”

“No problem, see you when you get here.”

Once out of the shower and dried, Joyce picked a clean pair of black briefs from the folding table. She hesitated a moment before slipping them on. Then a matching bra. The girl had folded all her underwear in sets. Then the soft old robe that she kept in the mudroom. Padding barefoot into the kitchen Joyce smiled at the glass of wine set alone on the table. She swept it up and sipped without stopping, heading toward the dim light emanating from the master suite.

Megan, resplendent in old calf-length sweatpants and a university T-shirt, had stripped the bed of duvet and top sheet replacing them with an older sheet from the linen closet. She was smoothing the top when Joyce came in. Megan, nervous, wouldn’t look at her directly and spoke to the bed in general.

“We hadn’t said where we’d do this…but your bed is the firmest. And there’s no footboard. It’s tough working on a bed but fine. And I didn’t want to get oil all over your good stuff.” She nodded toward a few bottles on the bedside table.

“It’s fine”, said Joyce softly. “Tommy is…”

“Fast asleep. And down the hall…”

Megan, having smoothed the top sheet far beyond necessary, stepped away from the bed. If she was truly expecting the slow, suggestive disrobing in the half-light that she had envisioned nervously over and over for the last half hour she didn’t get it. Joyce was in a locker room, not a boudoir. After a sip she set her wine alongside the oils, untied the loop of her belt and shrugged the robe off her shoulders. Megan didn’t realize she had been holding her breath until she saw the bra and panties. She wasn’t sure if she was relieved or disappointed.

“Just up on here then?” said Joyce patting the bed.

“Yeah…move in and give me room. Problem with not having a table is I’ll have to straddle you….”

“Sure, sure…” said Joyce kneeling onto the bed. She was moving with a business-like efficiency, leaving no space for the languid eddies that two people in a bedroom might create for themselves.  It occurred to Megan that maybe she was faking that. At least in part.

On all fours, Joyce arched her back then twisted. “I’m so needing this…” she said. Then, on her knees with Megan almost behind her she unsnapped her bra and pulled it off, tossing it onto the floor. “Don’t know why I put that on….” She said seemingly to herself. Then she lay flat. “Do your thing” she said with a sigh.

Megan, trying to match her tone, shook out her hands as might a pianist in a movie before beginning. She rubbed oil firmly into her hands until convinced they wouldn’t shudder when released. Then, still standing, she drizzled oil onto Joyce’s back and rubbed it around lightly to keep it from running.

“That’s warm…”

“Put it in the microwave…” Megan said.

“Of course you did”, she said with her head turned away. Megan comfortably assumed there was a smile she couldn’t see. Then she got up on the bed and in a smooth move borne of the flexibility of youth straddled Joyce at the thighs.

“You OK?” she asked.

“Fine…”

‘No more words’ was a conscious decision. Megan began slowly, thumbs on either side of Joyce’s spine and slid them upward, probing softly listening for a breath or a grunt, any tiny sound that might direct her ministrations. She moved up the spine slowly then fanned out across the back, digging the heels of her hands into the wide expanse of lithe muscle. Then back down again. Over and over. If she had been a painter this would be her rough sketch, outlining the boundaries of her canvas.

The small of Joyce’s back was the focus of her work. She watched the woman’s skin ripple and flow in front of her thumbs and fall back into place behind and heard every sound she made. Up and out then around and down but every time she came to the small of Joyce’s back, Megan would place her thumbs lower until she had to slip them below the elastic of Joyce’s panties. Up then out then around. Finally, before digging again into the softening muscles, she tucked her thumbs into the panties and pulled them partway down, exposing no more of Joyce’s backside than a bikini might have. Still, she paused, admiring the fetching dimples and topmost snick of her divide. She paused awhile.

“Butt Gal”, Joyce whispered with a smile that Megan could hear.

“You don’t make it easy”, Megan said pinching and pulling at the cotton panties with her fingers.

“Yeah, I’m sorry about that. You should go ahead and pull them off…”

“Really?”

“Really.”

Megan skootched herself a little way down the bed and again slipped her fingers into the elastic of the panties. This time Joyce lifted herself slightly and she pulled the panties down off her slim bottom and down her thighs. Joyce lifted her knees, then her feet, so that Megan could slide them completely off and drop them onto the floor.

“You OK?” This time it was Joyce asking.

“Fine”, said Megan, unsure if it was true. But she stayed with the work, allowing her hands to rest on the tops of the woman’s backside while working the thumbs toward her spine. The moans-the tiny breaths of affirmation-had stopped but Megan was suddenly hesitant to leave the relatively chaste landscape of Joyce’s back. But she didn’t want to be told to move down.

She backed down until she straddled Joyce’s legs just below the knees and drizzled a little oil on each of her bottom cheeks. Then, gently with open hands, she spread the lubrication out and down the backs of her thighs.

She worked the glutes in tandem as she had her back. Slide her thumbs up the middle then out on both sides of her, then circle back. More attention paid to the thickness of the bottom at her bottom than at the top.  And make no mistake. Megan knew what these feelings were welling up in her breast and starting to tumble down into her stomach, and below. She knew them but struggled to control them. If, in working her thumbs up her bottom, she would spread Joyce enough to reveal what was down between the mounds, she’d freeze guiltily. As if intruding.

She paused and slid backward, lifting her left leg and pressing her knee between Joyce’s. “Spread” she said not knowing what the reaction might be. Every step felt like it might be a step too far-that she might be told “no”.  Joyce’s leg shifted easily.

Megan knelt, working the hamstrings at the tops of Joyce’s long legs. She worked them as she had her back and her bottom: both thumbs up the middle then out and back. Truth, it was her only massage move. And, of course, working the thumbs meant her hands would encircle the leg which was okay with her left hand that rode innocently up the outer leg, but the right slid up the inside of the thigh-chastely at first-fingers withdrawn and circumspect. Not venturing too far or too high. At first.

But then, as she worked the top of the hamstring, right below her bottom, she slipped her right hand all the way up Joyce’s leg. She would swear, if called on it, that her finger inadvertently, mistakenly even, ran all the way up, feeling the warm damp folds at the top. She pulled back as if burned-breathless that she had gone too far! Ruined it!

“Megs?”

“Still here,” Megan said softly, voice catching in the dusty desert of her mouth.

“You should do whatever you want”, Joyce said.

Megan wasn’t massaging anymore. She was sitting back softly rubbing her hand over Joyce’s slick backside and down her legs. And not answering. “Look”, Joyce sighed lightly, “I’m not that thick. Somewhat maybe, but not that. I don’t know what to ask for and if I did, I wouldn’t know how. This is lovely but I’m up for anything. Or nothing if that’s your call. But wherever we’re going, you’ll have to drive.”

Megan’s eyes stung and she was afraid she might cry but opted for the wide smile instead. She patted Joyce’s bottom once then stepped off the bed. She pulled her T-shirt over her head. Her sweats came off next and just as she slipped her thumbs into the elastic of her own panties, saw Joyce watching her. She smiled coyly and pushed them down. She was about to kneel back onto the bed when Joyce said, “Turn around.”

Megan’s smile twisted and she turned. She didn’t move but to push her hips backwards just a bit. Joyce’s fingers played across her cheek. She snapped off the lamp before crawling back onto the bed.

Continuing here Plague Life, Part VI

Plague Life – Deleted Scenes

Continued from Plague Life – Part IV

The next few days passed with little but Joyce’s shifts to tell one from the other. When Joyce was off, Megan made herself scarce giving mother and son time together. When they had enough of that, Tommy might ride down or they’d both stroll down to see what Megan was working on. She was not light on projects and living alone in the house for at least the time being, gave her room to spread out. Her on-line classes were going as well as they could and she was actually finishing art, which had been tough to do when the world was spinning.

That morning Megan opened her eyes with a start, looking straight into the pear tree. The spare room that she uses on overnights looks out into the backyard-the tree specifically. Joyce was horrified when she found out that Megan slept with the blinds open-she could never do that. But then, her schedule made it impossible to contemplate. She herself had black metal blinds in her room-which brought darkness at the pull of a cord.

It was just before six, well over an hour before Joyce would be home. She lay still, sleepily trying to recapture the dream. She remembered Joyce in it, nude, pushing against her. Had they been in bed? No, she thought they were standing…Joyce was rubbing her backside… Megan pushed her basketball shorts down and rolled onto her side to run her hand across her bottom as Joyce had in the dream. Then she slipped her finger lightly between her legs finding herself swollen and damp.

It had been a dream and dreams are unbidden, so she didn’t feel guilty about it. Now though, she was awake sliding her finger into herself while thinking of Joyce. “Nope”, she said out loud. “Nope. Nope.” She threw back the covers and sat on the bed, shorts still at her knees. She stood, stepped out of them and walked the two paces into her private bath which is the best thing about this room. Still, she rubbed her bottom where dream-Joyce had and felt a weakness in her legs.

She peed and stepped into the shower for a quick freshener from the neck down, then brushed out her hair before slipping it into a ponytail. If she had dreamed of someone else would it have been okay to touch herself? She was ready for it, that’s for sure. She promised she’d take care of herself later, at home. But not now. Not here. A touch of blush on the cheeks and she was set. For reasons she didn’t want to explore too deeply, she cared about how she looked when Joyce got home. Not like that, though! Not really. She just didn’t want to be appear tired or drawn or anything that might concern Joyce.

There was no way Megan could know it, but what she was doing did work. Somewhere, between leaving the hospital, driving home or coming out of the shower, for a moment, or a flash of a moment, Joyce would look forward to seeing Megan. Not getting home. Not eating. Not having a glass of wine. But seeing Megan. Joyce didn’t let the thought linger and flower, but it was there-albeit forced fleeting.

Joyce, clean and damp, walked into the kitchen sniffing at the air. “Now that smells good…” She shuffled barefoot to the stove and peeked over Megan’s shoulder. There was a pounded chicken breast simmering in olive oil and lemon alongside a half dozen spears of asparagus and a smattering of capers.

“Asparagus? Where did you get those?”

“Had them at home. Picked them up over the weekend…”

“The chicken was…”

“You had it in the freezer. I split a breast, so there’s another left. I’ll pick some up next week. And there’s still quinoa-that shit lasts forever.”

“You’ve seriously expanded the breakfast menu”, she said squeezing her arms from behind before going to her place at the table.

“It’s not breakfast for you. You’ve been up all night…For breakfast, when Tommy gets up, you’ll have…” She opened the refrigerator door and pointed to a bowl sealed with plastic wrap. “Pancake batter-with chocolate chips…”

“When did you do that?”

Megan shrugged lightly, “A little bit ago.”

“Jesus Megs…”

“No biggie.”

Joyce sipped at the orange juice that had been set for her. “You do a lot for us…”

“Well, maybe. But then, there’s the fact that I have fuck all else to do”, she said grinning.

Joyce wadded up a napkin and tossed it at her. “Brat!” She smiled weakly, the fatigue of the shift settling now that she was home. She leaned back to allow the plated meal to be set in front of her. Hunger kept her from picking-she dug in.

“Delicious”, she said closing her eyes, savoring. “I know you snuck some butter in.”

Megan turned to face her and leaned against the stove, dish towel over her shoulder. “That’s why it’s so good.”

The silence between them was natural. Joyce ate, Megan cleared the counter and washed the pan.

“So”, Joyce asked picking up an asparagus spear with her fingers. “What do I call you?”

“Come again?”

“Someone asked today about Tommy. And who watched him. You were his babysitter for a while-still are really. Then you were a friend. Now with all this…and the shopping, and the…everything. I’m not sure what to call you.”

“Not Personal Assistant.”

“No not that…something to do with the house…I don’t know…”

“You better not say ‘maid’!”

“No”, Joyce scoffed. “How about Gal Friday?”

“What the hell is that?”

“I forget how young you are…”

“Accomplice?”

“If we ever plan a caper.”

“How about ‘Squire’, said Megan with a cocky head tilt.

“Squire?”

“Sure. They lived to serve their knights. To do whatever they could do to ensure the knight was at the top of their game. Right?”

“I’m a knight then?”

“Absolutely!”

“Were there female knights?”

“You definitely didn’t watch Game of Thrones.”

Joyce shrugged. “Naw. I’m more of a King Arthur girl…”

She finished off the last bite of chicken. “Hello. I’m Doctor Joyce Maples. And this is Megan, my squire.” She grinned widely if groggily, “That has potential.”

 

Continued here Plague Life – Part V

Plague Life – Part IV

Continued from Plague Life – Part III

They ate the pizza on the back-yard patio. This time of day the sun was dipping behind the oaks and only winked at them through the leaves as a light breeze kept the bugs at bay. It was good to be outside and Tommy, bored with a sit-down meal after half a slice, was fine taking a bite then running to the swings or playing catch off the shed roof and coming back for another. No surprise he had demurred on the salad his mother had made but she and Megan were enjoying the treat that fresh produce had become.

Both women sat with their backs to the house at opposite ends of the glass-topped table where they could watch him. Their legs were up on spare chairs and the glasses of iced tea sweated tiny puddles that ran zig-zagging toward the center of the table carrying crumbs along in their wakes. It was the kind of day to notice things like that. Joyce caught Megan looking at her once, but only because she had been glancing at Megan. That made Joyce smile and give her head the tiniest of shakes.

“What?” asked Megan.

“Nothing”, she answered with still the ghost of a smile. Megan noticed the fine fuzz that glittered on Joyce’s neck with the sun twinkling on them. With her eyes on Tommy running over to the table Joyce spoke without moving her head. “Slept like a rock last night.”

“You were probably due”.

Tommy stopped himself at the table and grabbed his slice of pizza. He tore at it with a roar then slapped it back onto the plate. Megan tossed him a napkin which fluttered to the ground as he wheeled and ran back to the swings.

“I think it was the massage”, said Joyce.

“Could have been. You were pretty well knotted up.”

“I felt that.” She took a sip of her drink and set it down away from the puddle it had made. “I might…I mean, …I might have a favor to ask you.”

“What?”

“You can say no.” Joyce looked at her and pulled the glasses down over her nose for the second time today. Had never noticed her doing that. Was she going for coy or maybe mid-thirties cute? Whichever, she was pretty much hitting it.

“Not without hearing what it is.”

“I used to get massages at Standing Stone”, she explained. The Stone, as it was known in Joyce’s circle, was a day spa that offered a menu of pricy and elaborate massage and body treatments.

“Yeah, you’d mentioned it once or twice”

“You ever been?”

“No. Outta my league.”

“Yeah, they’re expensive. But they took good care of me every couple of weeks. I was wondering, after what you did for me last night” she paused, glancing up in the sky as if waiting for the question to be communicated to her so she could pass it along. “Can you do a full body? Or legs?” She was sliding the words out quickly, hardly opening her mouth, wanting them to be in the air but hesitant to say them. Was it dumb feeling this nervous? It was a simple question, she was telling herself, knowing full well it wasn’t and she was lying.

Megan only cared to hear that she was asking for full body massage. She had given them before with and without subtext. Megan had told Joyce about the kinesiology class but not about the sports massage workshop she had taken because an aspiring trainer in the class had talked her into it. And she also wouldn’t mention that the aspiring trainer was a short blonde from up country named Becca who’d taught her a fair amount beyond longitudinal gliding.

“I’ll pay you, of course”, said Joyce, misreading her silence.

“You will not…”

“Come on. I’d want to. This is a lot to ask…I’m feeling like I might be taking advantage.”

“It’s just that, I can do the basics, you know? Nothing the pros like they have at The Stone.”

“The Stone’s closed now. It’s just you and me…”

Megan let the last words breathe a bit as she bit into a fresh slice. Amazing how long Folino’s crust stayed crisp, even beyond the cheese cooling. Some kind of magic, no doubt. Joyce was looking her way, but the glasses were masking her eyes and this time she wasn’t pulling them down her nose. Thinking of Becca brought back memories of their early flirting. Words didn’t always mean what they seemed to mean. Or they did, but they meant something else too. Something more. Megan had been concerned that, if it came to it, she wouldn’t have the nerve to make the first move. Now maybe she didn’t have to.

“I’ll give it a shot, sure. I have some oils and lotions at home. I’ll go get them before you leave so they’ll be here whenever you want.”

Joyce stretched her legs and arched her back, stretching. “Great”, she said, her eyes back on her son.

Continuing here Plague Life – Deleted Scenes

Plague Life – Part III

Continued from Plague Life – Part II

The next day, just after noon, Megan was in the driveway of her parent’s home just down the street from Doctor Maples’ place. She had the base of an antique steamer trunk on a collapsible work bench and was sanding the wooden slats along the frame. The belt sander was loud and the dust was thick enough that she had to stop every few minutes to clear her classes and shake her mask.

She used her mom’s car that was still in the garage, but her dad’s truck was gone. When her parents drove to their place in Arizona two months ago, the plan had been to stay a couple of weeks. Now Megan wondered when she’d see them again. They were happily hunkered on their rented corner of an 800-acre ranch with nothing but nothing surrounding them. Her mother was riding again, and dad was hunting most days and the word “retirement” kept slipping into their conversations.

Megan changed the belt in the sander to a finer grit. She made sure she was busy and didn’t let her mind wander to Joyce and what had happened the night before. Not because she didn’t want to, not because a fantasy of Joyce Maple wasn’t slavering, chained dog at the edge of her subconscious ready to fill her head with all the details she could provide. But she wouldn’t.

Regardless of the fantasies she’d had since childhood about the doctor down the street, Joyce was a friend. Not only had she known her since she was a kid but she trusted her with Tommy. Picturing her naked based on a chance glance and goofy joke seemed a betrayal of some kind.

The blanketing silence of the street settled quickly without the sander’s whine. She shook her hand which was still buzzing a little. There were doves cooing in the pear tree and a distant lawn mower but the street was eerily quiet. Those out tending to their yards or Mr. Jensen, waxing his car again, seemed hushed as they went about their chores.  She was about to bend to the task again when she heard Tommy from down the street.  Six-year-old boys do not do hushed.  “Hey Megsy”, he called. She removed her fogging glasses. He was riding his bike toward her and waving.

“Hi Tommy!” she waved back, instinctively glancing up and down the street for cars. “Where’s your mom?” she asked then bit her tongue as if the innocent question would reveal something. Would she have asked that question that quickly yesterday? Two days ago?

Tommy had braked at the bottom of the drive. “She’s coming”, he said and pointed.

And there she was. Joyce had just stepped into sight from behind the mammoth rhododendron at the end of the block. She was wearing old jeans that were ripped at the knees more from use than fashion and a long-sleeved crewneck running shirt-a souvenir from some five K or other she’d run over the years. Her running shoes were a striking blue, a coincidental match with her sunglasses. Strolling more than walking she looked lankier than she was. Her mask was hanging at her throat, ready to be pulled up if anyone passed or wanted to exchange words from across the sidewalk or over the hedge.

The visions that Megan had tried to hold off crashed through the walls of her consciousness like the Kool-Aid man as she watched Joyce’s languid approach. She cut her eyes from her chest not wanting to go there. This is ridiculous, she thought.

“You’re comin’ to eat with us”, Tommy cried.

“Oh, am I, now?” Megan said smiling. She had pulled her mask down so he could see her face.

“This one talked me into pizza from Folino’s for dinner”, said Joyce, close enough now to join the conversation.

“And you’re gonna come!” Tommy yipped.

“Is that OK?” asked Joyce. “I know we said five but….”

“Naw-that’s good. What time?”

“Four?”

“Easily done.”

Joyce pulled her sunglasses down her nose and gave her a look. “You’ll have time to clean up, right?”

“Oh yeah, I’ll be fine.”

“Good” said Joyce turning away with a slight tilt like a small plane leaning toward home. “See you then.”

Tommy was off up the street and out of earshot. “Hey Doc,” Megan called to her. “I enjoyed you walking away more last night.”

Joyce said nothing but, without missing a step, spun slowly and grinning with her tongue between teeth that had never looked so white, wagged both fingers like a kid playing quick draw, before turning away again with maybe, just maybe, a little switch in her hips.

“Sweet Jesus”, thought Megan.

Continuing here Plague Life – Part IV

Plague Life – Part II

Continued from Plague Life – Part I 

In the kitchen Megan could hear the water running in the shower. Her heart had settled, and she was breathing almost normally again. What the hell was that? She smiled widely as the pan heated and she pulled the bread from the freezer and um, cheddar, she decided, from the fridge. She dropped two slices into the toaster but waited to drop them. When the oil in the pan was just shy of shimmering, she poured in the egg whites and over filled a glass of Chablis.

In the shower Joyce was still shaking her head not quite believing what she’d just done but smiling at the thought of it. She’d apologize, of course. What the hell was she thinking? But that’s as far as she got before starting to giggle again. She was thorough under the hot stream but fast. She wanted to get out to the kitchen. She turned the water off.

Megan put the cheese on the eggs and folded the omelet, smacking her lips at the tartness of the wine. The bread went down and she pulled a robin’s egg blue Fiesta Ware plate from the cabinet knowing how good it would look with the white omelet. Would she have cared about the presentation of a midnight omelet an hour ago?

When she heard the door open to the mudroom Megan pulled her mask, which had been hanging around her neck, up over her mouth and nose. The kitchen was spacious and wide open, but they’d been cautious. Joyce came in, her short auburn hair damply cupping her face.  The towel she had covered with earlier was around her neck and she was wearing a clean set of green scrubs. Seeing without looking Megan could tell she wasn’t wearing a bra. Probably no underwear either but impossible to tell. Megan mentally slapped herself in the head for thinking about that, but it had been a weird evening.

“Yessss…” Joyce said, sipping an offered glass of wine as she sat. She also ooohed and ahhhed at the omelet but didn’t spend too much time admiring it. She didn’t realize how hungry she was until she began eating. She worked around the crisp edges of the eggs and wolfed down half a piece of buttered toast. “This is wonderful…Thank you.”

“Easily done…”

“…About earlier….”

“What?” said Megan innocently, using her eyes to compensate for the smile the mask was covering.

“I was tired…giddy, I guess…”

“Stop it…”

“No! Really. And I’m not a modest person…”

“Obviously…”

“I can’t be. Not now. That was my fourth shower today. We’re all the time in locker rooms, underwear, bare-assed changing clothes. I shouldn’t have…”

“Here. Can I do something?” Megan asked. Without really waiting for permission she slipped behind Joyce and put her hands on her shoulders.

“Wait…” Joyce protested.

Megan said nothing, just began kneading Joyce’s shoulders and neck.

“Don’t…”

“Oh Shush!” She continued to knead her shoulders ignoring Joyce’s words and instead following the lead of her head lolling from side to side. They’d been in close quarters for over a month-essentially quarantined together so while this could have been seen as risky, neither was immediately willing to stop.

“I warn you”, said Joyce, “I might cry. It wouldn’t be the first time today.”

“You also laughed, so it’s been a big day.” She left a hole in the conversation in case Joyce wanted to fill it. When she didn’t, “You should do whatever you want. This is your home-this is your safe place. You want to cry, cry. You want to laugh, laugh.”

“What about mooning the babysitter?”

“By all means”, she said giving her a firmer squeeze.

“Does feel good.”

“I audited a kinesiology class.”

“Really?”

“I didn’t finish. There was a guy, then there wasn’t. But I learned a little of this.”

“You have a gift.”

“You’re sweet. And beat. What are you doing tomorrow?”

Joyce wasn’t due at the hospital till six tomorrow evening, so she was planning a day of nothing. Vegging with Tommy. They talked softly as Joyce ate and Megan continued to work the knots out of her shoulders. She’d be over at five to help get her off and ease the separation that Tommy always felt. It was their routine but there might have been another layer to it now. Joyce felt it as did Megan. And neither regretted it.

Dinner over and the massage finished, Megan moved toward the door. “I’ll be working in the garage all day tomorrow. Refinishing a trunk that I found in a shop a couple months ago, before the world changed. I’m available. If you need me before five, just text.”

“I’ll be fine”, said Joyce. “See you tomorrow…”

“Yep”, then pausing with a smile behind the mask, “Thanks for the bum shot.”

“Get out of here.”

She left and Joyce sat, nursing the wine and rubbing her shoulder where Megan’s hands had just been. It felt like they were the first hands on her in months.

Continued here Plague Life – Part III

Plague Life – Part I

She turned the music down as she rolled up on the house. Sometimes after a shift like she’d just had, she needed it loud to keep her awake. But not tonight. Tonight, she was angry enough, frustrated enough to stay awake and drive to the coast if necessary. The concept, the idea, the thought of “enough” had been with her most of the day. Not the job. Joyce Maple was the chief of critical care at Swansea Health, a 250-bed hospital that served most of the county.

The virus cases had stabilized here, and she was back to her normal three 12 hour shifts and two overnights. They had a full staff-all healthy-and were finally fully stocked with what they needed to fight this freaking plague.

What she didn’t need however was her fucking husband-she still wasn’t thinking of him as “ex”-texting her between patients making demands about child visitation and his car. Which she was paying for, by the way. It was true that trying times reveal the true character of people. Happily, those she was surrounded with at work and in her tiny society at home have proven strong and positive. That turd, not so much.

She pulled into the drive automatically staying on her side until she hit the button above the visor to open the wide door into the empty two car garage. There was no “his and her” side anymore. Four months ago, she’d have been coming home to a husband and six-year old son. It wasn’t the largest or, truth be told, happiest family but it was what it was. It was a port in a storm-a place to hide from the world, a place to just BE. Which is what she needed right now. Which is why she was crying in the linen closet at work earlier. The first time that had happened. She was just tired and…fucking enough already.

Now she was coming home to her son Tommy, who would be asleep, and Megan Crockett, his babysitter. A blessing that one. Tommy had known her since he was a baby and since her university was on hiatus, she was back at home in the neighborhood with nothing besides online classes and art projects to do. They kept the proper distances and protocols, the girl even had her own masks because she worked with spray paint, so at least Joyce had someone in her life she could count on for something.

At home they had honed a routine that worked for them so far. When the garage door closed, Joyce got out of the car, kicked off her sneakers, stepped around to the laundry area and stripped. Her scrubs, top then bottom, and tonight her bra and panties went into a pile on the floor. She swore that she spent more time dressing and undressing at work than she did in front of patients. She wore no jewelry, no watch, nothing else. She bent and picked up the bundle to put in the washer surprised to find it empty. Megan must have done them. Sweet. And she knew better than to touch them before they were washed, so that was fine.

But she was distracted and moving slowly, more thoughtfully than usual as she tried to get the day out of her head. By now she should have been wearing the old robe or have moved to the bathroom for a shower but instead was standing in her altogether thinking about laundry when the door from the mud room opened and she heard Megan say, “Hi Joyce! I did…” They both froze for a moment, Joyce leaning naked over the washer and Megan with her hand on the doorknob.

“Shit!” said Joyce reaching quickly to snatch a bath towel off the stack on her folding table. She hadn’t been facing the house door either way-it was a full side view was all. No biggie. A side boob tops. “I’m sorry Megan…You should have knocked…” Joyce, holding a towel over her breasts that fell to her knees took a deep breath and closed her eyes hard for a second to reset. She opened them with a wry smile. “I’m sorry Megan. It was my fault…”

“I shouldn’t have just barged in.” Megan said.

“It’s okay. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize”, Megan said. “You’re beautiful.”

“Hah!” Joyce barked lightly. “But, thank you.”

“No problem. If I looked like you, I’d never wear clothes.”

“Stop”, said Joyce still smiling but blushing, nonetheless.

“I separated some eggs”, said Megan. “Was going to make you an egg white omelet. Cheddar or Swiss?”

“Megs”, she said using the nickname she called her ten years earlier when she was one of the neighborhood kids, “Like I’ve told you, you don’t have to cook for me.”

“Doctor Maple”, Megan said seriously, “I’ve eaten your cooking. So yes, yes I do.” Joyce’s eyes widened at being teased. “The county is depending on me.”

“You brat! If I had a free hand, I’d throw something at you.”

“Cheddar or Swiss?”

“Surprise me. But it’s really not necessary.”

“Of course it’s not ‘necessary’. A lot of things aren’t necessary. But would you like it?”

“Sure I’d like it.”

“And I opened that Chablis that was in the fridge…”

“Ah, THAT is necessary.”

“Figured since you weren’t going in till late shift tomorrow.”

“You remembered that…” Joyce said.

“Of course. Your schedule is my schedule.”

That simple statement caught Joyce in a way that surprised her. Of course, her babysitter would know her schedule. Since the dick had moved out and all this shit hit the fan, Megan had been her only constant relationship outside of work besides Tommy. Which was fine-who had time for anything else at this point. Her job was to keep everyone in her orbit safe. She had enough to worry about.

“Helloooo? Earth calling Doctor Maple. Doctor Joyce Maple.”

“Sorry”, Joyce said. “I’m in a bit of a fog tonight.”

“No wonder. That’s fine. Are you out of wheat bread?”

“No. The last is hidden in the freezer behind the ice cream.”

“Oh”, said Megan keeping a teasing tone, “Secret hiding places now?”

Joyce smiled wanly and shrugged indicating the towel covering herself. “I guess I have no secrets from you anymore…”

“Oh, I think you do…” Joyce cocked an eyelid. “I’m a butt gal. At best, I got a hip shot.”

Joyce gasped then coughed as a deep laugh rolled through her chest. It was an infectious tumbling laugh that Megan had no choice but to join. “Butt Gal”, she laughed as her shoulders heaved. “A new super hero!”

“We’ll make T-Shirts!” Megan laughed.

They cackled together from across the garage until Joyce ran out of breath. She swiped the corner of the towel across her eyes.

“I can’t remember the last time I heard you laugh.”

“Yeah”, said Joyce breathing normally again. “It’s been a minute.”

“Sounds good.”

Again, the conversation wound down with neither seeming to be in a hurry to finish it until Megan finally spoke up, “Go. Take your shower. I’ll have the food ready when you are.”

“Don’t forget the wine.”

“I definitely won’t.”

Megan had turned and was on the way to leaving and closing the door behind her when Joyce called to her, “Hey Megs…”

When Megan turned, Joyce turned her back to her, her bare back uncovered from shoulders to ankles, and walked slowly into the bathroom, giggling like a girl.

Continued here Plague Life – Part II

The Engagement

It had once been a storage room but now was empty and strangely well kept. As if someone came up every week to sweep and dust. She noticed such things. The ceiling was twice as high as downstairs in the bar and windows made up almost the whole wall opposite the door. Would have been impressive had they not looked directly across the alley to the blank brick wall of a building that reached three stories above. The late afternoon sun bounced off the brick and tumbled to the alley below. The only furnishings were a chair and a desk-really a long table with a drawer-against one wall and an old leather sofa under the windows.

Her bag and clothes were arranged neatly across the end of the sofa in the order she had taken them off, red panties on top, her short, scuffed boots parked neatly in front. He had discretely turned his back and stared at the door while she undressed. But he listened. He heard it all-the clump of the boots coming off first. The zipper, then the rustle of her jeans. There was no real sound as she pulled the black t-shirt over her head, but he heard it. He would have heard butterfly wings at that point. He heard her move-her muscles twinge and stretch as she bent and arranged, then finally the padding of her bare feet as she took position in the middle of the room.

“You can turn around now”, she said.

When he did his eyes were pulled first to the blonde page-boy wig. It was atrocious but served to round a face that would have been severe in someone larger. She was not tall; would easily fit under his chin with a thick book to spare. Slim without being skinny, lines of muscle and cords of tendons traced along her shoulders and down her arms. Her breasts were firm demitasse cups riding high above the soft ridges of ribs that tapered to a flat belly. The tiny manicured dark patch could easily be overlooked. But he didn’t.

“We never set a time limit did we?” she asked.

“No…no…whenever’s comfortable I guess. Are you thinking you’re done already?”

“No, no…it’s fine.”

She didn’t look at him, rather let her eyes float over his shoulders to the room, the walls. They could use a coat of paint she thought. Something natural-like sand-to offset the brick outside.

“Thank you for this. For doing this,” he said.

“You’re welcome. But the hundred bucks was a fine incentive.”

“There are probably easier ways to make a hundred dollars.”

Her first smile of the afternoon split her face like a razor.

“Not really.”

He went silent again and she could feel his eyes, a damp breeze over her thighs and feathering her middle.

“Do you like my wig?”

“No.”

“No?”

“Not at all.”

She pulled a sad face and stroked the faux hair over her ear.

“It was very expensive”, she said.

“Then you got robbed. Plus I love your hair-the color.”

“Really?” she said, pleased. “Not too mousy?”

“You kidding?”

Hmmm, she thought. “Wait a minute”, she said. “Time out.”

She looked at him then. “Turn around. Don’t look.”

He turned his back and she slipped back to the couch. A quick flip and the wig flopped atop the pile of clothes. Shaking her head, she pulled a small hairbrush out of her bag. Squinting to see herself in the window she worked her matted hair as best she could to give it a little life.  There was a part, and it lay over her right ear and caressed the top of her neck. She padded back to her place in the middle of the room.

“You can look now.”

He turned and smiled. “Ah, that’s nice. Thank you.”

“Stop thanking me. It’s fine.”

He moved close and looked down where the hair was thickest. “There is a touch of auburn”, she said then let his gaze leak down over her shoulder to her nipple. Suddenly startled by her proximity he moved a step backward then slipped to his right, out of her sight line. She stayed still, letting air in through her mouth and out through her nose. That’s all she remembered from an old mediation lesson. His shoes must have been new because they squeaked as he shifted his weight behind her.

“Can I touch?”, he asked weakly-afraid of the answer.

“That wasn’t the deal.”

“Of course. I know. I’m sorry.”

“That’s okay”, she said quietly but firmly. She cocked her head only a little to the side. “What do you want to touch?”

He was behind her and she well knew what he wanted to touch.

“Your bottom.”

Of course. She grew up hating her bottom-she imagined it to be a boy’s backside: flat with none of the curves that her friends had. As she got older it filled out a bit, but still didn’t curve enough. The gym had made it firm and muscles gave it some shape, but she thought it rode up her back. He liked it though.

“OK”, she said. “But only the cheeks. Nothing funny.”

“No, of course not.”

As soon as his palm touched her, she pushed slightly backward trying to create a curve, or some kind of contour anyway. And she softened as best she could. He was thorough, palming the right cheek, sliding down to the thigh then across to the other side. She felt his hand lift away then touch her again, palming her fully. Then again.

“I know what you’re doing”, she said.

“Mmm?”

“You’re spanking me, aren’t you? That’s what you’re imagining. Isn’t it?”

“Maybe you’ve been bad…”

She bent imperceptibly and arched her back giving him a truer target for his pantomime.

“Bend me over and spank my ass. That’s what you really want to do, isn’t it?”

“I…” His mind, having been somewhere else, struggled to answer.  His hand cupped her bottom and squeezed gently in lieu of words. She was still offering out.

“I mean, more than fuck me, right? You’d rather spank me than fuck me…”

He didn’t answer as his palm grazed across her backside.

“Well you can’t.”

He drew away, at the first negative she’d uttered.

“No…” he said.

“At least not now… What time is it?”

He coughed lightly and looked at his watch. Told her.

“My shift starts in twenty minutes. I gotta get down there.”

“Oh, sure. I know. That’s time then.”

“Yeah, time.”

“OK”, he said while haltingly heading for the door. “Again, thank you…”

“Wait. Don’t run off.”

He paused and turned, surprised and at a loss. She beckoned to the couch as he watched her move to her clothes.

“Sit….”

He did, not expecting to watch her dress. He crossed a leg.

She stepped delicately into her panties. “Why’d you stop asking me out?”

“You kept saying no.”

“You weren’t very persistent.”

“I asked a thousand times.”

She pulled her panties up and slipped her arms through a red silk undershirt-all the bra she needed.

“You give up too easy.”

Her jeans went on smoothly and he lost himself in the workings of her fingers zipping, snapping and buckling. The t-shirt followed and hung loose. She held the wig and glanced at him.

“No. If you’re asking.”

She left the wig on the couch and picked up her bag. “Are you coming down for a drink?”

“Absolutely.”

She smiled, opened the door and slipped through.

“See you down there”, she said over her shoulder.

He sat stiffly listening to the clippity-clop of her boots fading down the stairs.

© TDR-2019

Shadows

(Continued from Night Lights)

Outside, half-naked, the midnight chill braced her. The clear moonless sky was dark enough that she cast a shadow in the glow from the top of the mountain. The grass was damp on her bare feet as she followed her shadow around the birdbath to the mountain laurel just short of the tree line.

The coyotes were quiet or running over the next ridge. When she was little her Pap kept chickens in a pen behind the house. Back then coyotes were worthy adversaries to be battled and beaten at every turn. Now, with no livestock to guard – not even a scruffy mutt or cat – the coyotes were no more than texture. Wonder how they would feel about that? Being relegated to deep background; being off the main stage where capable men plotted against them with guns, traps and poisons? Whatever. Times gone by. Either way, the whippoorwills’ incessant call and response were the only accompaniment to the quiet swish of her feet in the tall grass.

Choosing a spot, she turned toward the house and lifted her T-shirt. Squatting widely, she relaxed and allowed the stream to flow into the grass between her feet gently, not to splash. Her yoga practice wasn’t what it was, but she was still able to hold a squat level and clean without a shake or quiver letting the burn in her thighs build. She dipped a little deeper to feel the pleasant pull in her hip flexors. She should get back to yoga-she could sit in on classes up at the Hideaway anytime. Finished, Lori stood easily, leaving a steaming wet spot on the grass.

Pissing in the yard had started as a joke when she and Uncle Red were watching TV one night. She complained that he was lucky because all he had to do was go out on the porch when he needed to pee but she had to go to the bathroom, take down her pants, miss half the program, yadda-yadda…

“Knock yourself out girlie”, he’d said, a little drunk. “You got a whole hillside right out your door. We’re mountain people. We piss where we want.”

He didn’t look at her but had that cock-eyed smile he got when he was drinking beer. She had taken the dare and scampered off the porch and behind the fat sycamore. It wasn’t that she was afraid of him seeing anything-they were beyond that. It was just what she did. She was wearing tight jeans then and had to wriggle them down and lean in such a way that she wouldn’t wet herself. She remembered giggling as she spattered.

She put the time at between three and four. Closer to four. She tried to add the hours of uninterrupted solid sleep she had gotten all week. No more than three tonight. She couldn’t go on like this, grinding her teeth and digging her fingernails into her palms, forever. Just one cigarette, she thought. Just one, to give her that kick of nicotine that she remembered. If she’d had any, she might have broken, but she didn’t. Back at the porch Lori leaned against the rail digging the feel of the rough wood pressing into her bare thighs.

The resort which butted up against her property on the high side, glistened. Thank you Uncle Red, she said under her breath for about the billionth time. It was the house that her Mom and Red had grown up in.  After her Mom died, she stayed in the house with Red, thinking it would be temporary. It was. It only lasted ten years until he died. Well after she was old enough to move out, had she wanted to. She had stayed with him as her mother had wished and now she owned the house and seven acres.

When what would become the Hideaway Resort began buying properties years ago, her Pap – Mom and Red’s mother – wouldn’t sell. Even when the money was ridiculous for the time. Now it was hers with a standing offer of a million on the table whenever she wanted to sell. She didn’t.