Charles K. Smith is a professional writer who wrties erotic stories as a hobby. This is a long story. Probably his longest. ENJOY
Charly the Yard Guy ;co
by Michael K. Smith
[This one's just for fun, total fiction, all a lark -- but if you're wondering who "Charly" is modeled on, watch Eve Matheson in the BBC series "May to December" on PBS. . . ! Oh, yeah: If all you're looking for is one-handed sex, you're in the wrong story. If you enjoy sex-and-romance with actual people instead of cardboard cut-outs, and an actual plot, then make yourself at home. . . .]
This whole thing started because I hate yard work. In fact, I have way too much house and yard for my needs, but as the only child of an only child, I was my grandfather's sole heir and he left the place to me. The property formed the bulk of his estate, most of the cash and investments having been gobbled by his lengthy final exit. Don't misunderstand: I loved my grandfather. I even liked him quite a lot. We had a good deal of respect for each other and I miss him. We've just never been a demonstrative, huggy-kissy family. Maybe it has something to do with being an "only."
Anyway, when my grandfather died several years ago, I was thirty-five and still single and still living in a modest rented townhouse. I'm a contract software developer, which means I can mostly work at home in faded jeans, an old tee-shirt, and moccasins. I own one sport jacket and two ties, for those occasional, unavoidable forays into the world of commerce.
The house is a nice old place, big enough for an old-style family of eight with a maid or two thrown in. As a family of one, I find it simpler to have a maid service come in once a month to rearrange the dust, do the windows, and all that other domestic crap that I'm not very good at.
My place is located near the end of a dead-end street that backs on the deep rough of a private golf course. The back yard alone is a quarter-acre, edged by silvery aspens inside a tall board fence as a windbreak and privacy measure. I almost never see my neighbors and they probably never see my back yard, but my favorite workroom overlooks the back and it bothers me somehow if I let the lawn and all the flowerbeds and shrubs get ratty. Anyway, the not-quite-so-large front yard is visible to everyone; if I didn't take proper care of *it* I'd catch hell from the Homeowners' Association. And those people can be vicious.
Since, as I say, working up a sweat behind a lawn mower is not my idea of a useful way to spend my time, one of the first things I did after moving in that summer was to ask around about a yard guy. The full-time lawn care businesses -- the ones that show up with a truck and trailer and six guys in jumpsuits with matching mowers -- charged a shocking amount of money. I finally decided to put the money I was going to have to spend back into the neighborhood economy by hiring a couple of teenagers. A notice posted at the high school brought a dozen responses and the best of the lot were a junior named Chris Chambers and his brother Frank, who was two years younger.
The guys came around once a month and spent most of a Saturday mowing, edging, trimming, spading, and raking. They did a very nice job. Because the yard was so big, I paid them considerably more than most high school yard workers got, in addition to providing all the cokes and snacks they could consume when they took their breaks -- and it was still only half what the professionals wanted to charge me. Everyone was happy.
After a few months, we developed a mutual trust. The brothers began keeping an eye on the yard on their own initiative and when it was time, they'd just show up the next weekend. I don't usually get to bed before about two in the morning when the creative urge is upon me, so I would awaken at nine or ten to the deep-throated burr of the large power mower that lived in my garden shed. I'd climb into a pair of jeans and wander out to the screened porch barefoot, and there would be Chris and Frank in track shorts and gym shoes, usually shirtless, toiling away at returning my manor to a civilized appearance. To paraphrase somebody or other, manual labor is a wonderful thing -- I could sit and watch it for hours.
Almost a year later, though, the day came as I had known it would. Chris would graduate in June and was headed for Notre Dame on a major athletic scholarship. And Frank, already an up-and-coming basketball player, would be adding varsity football in the fall . . . which meant a summer filled with weekend practice sessions. I was happy for both of them, but I was also going to have to find some new yard guys.
When I asked Chris if there was anyone he felt he could recommend, he and Frank exchanged glances and Chris cleared his throat. "Well, Mr. Weeks, I kind of promised Charly I'd mention her."
"'Her?' Who's Charly?"
He grinned. "Our kid sister, Charlene; everyone calls her 'Charly.' And she's really not such a kid any more, I guess. She's a year younger than Frank -- sixteen and a half -- and I promised I'd mention her name, but I also told her she'd have to audition on her own."
I thought about it. A female athlete, probably, if her older brothers were any indication. Anyone who was capable of doing the yard properly was okay with me. I'm not sexist about such things. "Who does she have in mind to help her?"
Chris's eyes twinkled and he poked his tongue in his cheek. "Well, . . . I think she means to do it all by herself, so she won't have to split the money." Behind him, Frank chuckled and slowly shook his head. Clearly, they were fond of their sister and admired her ambition, but they doubted her endurance.
"It's almost May so we'll do the yard one more time, in a couple weeks. And we'll bring Charly along to help and to show her how to do things. You can judge for yourself whether you think she can handle it, okay?"
"Sure, Chris, bring her along. I just hope she's an Amazon."
Frank grinned and said half under his breath, "Do they have pygmies in the Amazon. . . ?"
Three weeks later, I was watching "Rocky and Bullwinkle" earlier than usual on Saturday morning and eating a nice balanced breakfast of Pepsi and stale donuts, when the front doorbell rang. I answered it to find Chris and Frank, horribly cheerful for that hour of the morning. I blinked at the glare of the still-climbing sun and waved them in. As they entered, I realized there was a third person in a sweatsuit who had been completely concealed behind the two boys.
Now, I'm not all that big, barely 5'10" and 160 pounds. Chris and Frank, lettermen that they were, each had several inches and at least twenty pounds on me, all of it muscle. The "little girl" who accompanied them (that's how I unconsciously thought of her) was a head and a half shorter even than me. The guys were strapping, blond Aryan types, with short hair and beach tans. The girl was pale of complexion with rather long coppery hair done up in a practical French braid. Her bright green eyes and generous mouth gave her a pixie-ish look.
"We heard the TV, Mr. Weeks, so we thought we'd introduce our sister before she got all sweaty." Chris smiled down at the girl. "This is Miss Charlene Chambers. Charly, this is Tom Weeks. A good guy to work for." I was pleased they thought so, but I wondered if their sister knew what she was getting into, even if it was only once a month. She had a firm, competent handshake, though, and when she smiled it went ear-to-ear and made her eyes crinkle. She was certainly very cute, I thought.
They trooped out and I watched the three of them at work at intervals all morning, peering through the miniblinds from my workroom. Chris and Frank were at some pains to explain to Charly just how the grass should be cut, the sidewalks edged, the hedges square-trimmed. After nearly a year of caring for my yard, the brothers seemed downright proprietary about it. I didn't know what was being said, exactly, but Charly nodded and asked frequent questions. Her brothers teased her about things and she teased them back, trading playful swats, and the work progressed rapidly and smoothly.
A little later, I saw her guiding the oversized power mower with calm skill, apparently not even out of breath. When silence descended about 11:00, I went down to the wide, screened back porch to find the crew sprawled on the floor in front of the oscillating fan, mopping themselves off with sections of sweatsuit. They'd already fetched some soft drinks from the kitchen. Now that she was warmed up, Charly had peeled off her suit to reveal black spandex cycling shorts and a snug black knit top. The dark clothing emphasized her alabaster skin and the tight fit showed off her curves, as well as unsuspected layers of smooth muscle in her calves, thighs, arms, and shoulders. When she moved, things didn't jiggle -- they flexed. There didn't seem to be an ounce of fat on her anywhere. She still seemed kind of small to do the entire yard by herself, though.
"How's it going, guys?" Then I added ". . . and ladies," with a sketchy bow toward Charly. The boys laughed and Frank prodded her in the hip with his toe.
"Hey, you're a lady now, kid!"
Charly delicately dipped a fingertip in her coke and flicked the droplets at him. "Of course I'm a lady, you moron!" she replied with an infectious grin. "Not that *you'd* recognize a lady if she bit you . . ."
"Hey, if you know a lady who bites, I wanna meet her!"
Chris and I joined in the laughter and Charly rolled her eyes. I was getting the impression she'd grown up as a tomboy to keep up with two older brothers who loved her and looked out for her but who didn't allow her much slack when it came to individual competition. Her obviously good physical condition and evident sense of humor seemed to indicate that she had not only survived the experience but thrived on it.
After half an hour of cooling down, the three went back to work raking, edging the flowerbeds, and cleaning up the hedge trimmings. I stood at my window awhile longer, idly watching them labor as the modem muttered to itself behind me. Especially the girl. She had a lot of energy and enthusiasm and she moved about smoothly and with great economy. I discovered I enjoyed simply watching her, which made me a little uneasy. She was only sixteen, after all. When they finished and put away all the tools, the three of them came up to my workroom for their pay and so Chris could say goodbye. Charly's eyes widened at all the computers and printers and miscellaneous gadgetry scattered around the large room.
I paid Chris and Frank the usual amount and added a little bonus as a "job well done" kind of thing, and I shook their hands and wished them both luck. Then I turned to Charly and handed her an amount equal to about half her brothers' wages -- which, from her surprise, she hadn't expected. Apparently, Chris and Frank had intended to share part of their earnings with her. My intent, of course, was just to buy a little good will -- I thought.
"Well, Charly, will I see you in June, then? I'm certainly willing to give you crack at it and we'll take it from there." She broke into a broad smile and her brothers nudged each other. "I pay for the job," I added, "so if you do as much as these two brutes have been doing together, I'll certainly *pay* you what I've been paying both of them together. But it'll probably take you sunup to sundown, you know."
"I know," she replied. "But that's fine: I need the money for my college fund." She looked determined about it and I decided this might work out after all. If she didn't collapse from exhaustion. "I'll see you in about a month, then," she said as they left. "And thanks a lot, Mr. Weeks!"
It all turned out very well, actually. Throughout the summer, Charly showed up once a month or so in Frank's battered old Chevy and spent a day beating the wildlife into submission. Work that I would have dreaded, she seemed to regard as a great way to keep in shape and get paid for besides. It took all the daylight hours of Saturday (or Sunday), too; when I suggested that she might want to do part of the job on Saturday and come back the next day to finish up, she laughed that her Saturday night dates left her exhausted as it was.
She took a couple of lengthy breaks each yard-day, being careful not to overdo herself, and at first she preferred to sprawl on the screened porch with a coke and just rest. But she was simply too active and social a person to spend the entire day by herself, and she soon asked if I would mind if she came upstairs and watched me work. How could I mind? I discovered that Charly had been taking extra computer science classes and that she was fascinated by the array of test systems I had set up.
It didn't take me long, either, to realize that Charly was a bit shy when she was away from her big brothers. The first time I complimented her on the quality of her work, she actually blushed with pleasure; I didn't know girls still did that. And when she came indoors for a break, her face bright red with heat and exertion, her flaming hair escaping in wild curls, and trickles of sweat running down her arms and legs, I thought she was unbearably cute . . .
but, of course, I couldn't tell her that.
By the time school started, just after Labor Day, and Charly began her junior year, we had become friends. She liked to stretch out in the beat-up old armchair in one corner of my workroom, sipping at a cold drink or a jug of Gatorade, and observing quietly while I debugged a graphical interface or waded through email from contractors. And she sat there and grinned silently when my laser decided to assert itself by printing only the top half of each page, and I had to wrestle it to the floor until it surrendered.
I was pleased when she finally asked, rather hesitantly, if she could experiment with one of the PCs I wasn't using at the moment. She was learning the fundamentals of program design theory and was anxious to try some of her own ideas, but trying to book time on one of the school's insufficient number of consoles was frustrating.
I invited her to drop by almost any evening, if she liked, and I could critique her programs and suggest improvements. By Thanksgiving, she was coming over for a visit a couple or three times a month and we talked not only about the cyber-universe but about the world in general.
It was a little strange at first, having Charly there after dark and without sweat stains. It turned out she had a strong feminine side, often preferring to wear a jumper or a plaid skirt and sweater instead of the ubiquitous jeans and sweatshirt. Her makeup made her look older, as well, and I wondered if perhaps she refreshed it just before driving over.
Seeing her deep in concentration, the tip of her little pink tongue visible between her lips, I began to realize how much I enjoyed her company. She had watched me work at the keyboard and now I watched her. She obviously missed having Chris around and even Frank, now halfway through his senior year, was much busier than before. Charly was the baby of the family, and while I was more than twice her age, I was still nearly two decades younger than her parents. She apparently found she could talk easily with me about things her folks were uncomfortable discussing. But my greatest satisfaction came when friendship overpowered respect-for-elders and she finally began calling me "Tom" instead of "Mr. Weeks."
The second week in November, she mentioned in passing that she'd be seventeen soon -- not that she was dropping any hints, but I made a mental note. I called Frank the next evening and inquired what the exact date was. He told me her birthday was the 20th and I made him promise not to tell her I'd asked. That gave me about a week to cook up something.
I was trying to think of some non-suspicious way to sucker Charly into the surprise I was planning, but it turned out not to be necessary. Late on the afternoon of the 19th, she called with a database design problem that was giving her fits, and I invited her to come over after supper. Then I spent an hour arming my traps.
When Charly arrived, she opened the front door and called, "Tom?" That's how relaxed our relationship had become. I hollered for her to come on up and when I heard her loafers on the stairs -- jogging, as usual -- I started the program.
My main system now appeared to display a FoxPro debugging session in progress but it was actually a boss-key fake. And I had lined up along one table the four systems I used regularly, with the super-loaded Pentium at one end and the Mac SE at the other -- plus the older, slower 486 I had hauled out of the storage closet and dusted off, sitting right in the middle of the row.
Charly came in and brightly said, "Hi!" She dug her comp sci notebook out of her book bag and shrugged out of her school jacket. Tonight it was a pair of tight black jeans and a hot pink sweater, and she had her hair down in shimmering metallic waves that were probably capable of reflecting radar.
As she came over to where I was sitting at a keyboard, she noticed the rearranged equipment. "What's this?"
"Nothing." I waved it off. "But there's a message here for you." I had to struggle not to grin.
"What, email? How could I be getting email? Especially here?" I got up and held the chair for her and she sat and peered at the screen.
"Press 'ESCAPE,'" I hinted.
She did, and the screen blanked and then flashed "LOGON (first name only):"
Charly glanced up at me and typed "Charlene."
The computer made a rude noise and displayed, "Not good enough! Your OTHER first name, please!"
I received another suspicious look as she typed "Charly."
At that, the screen blanked again and all five monitors immediately lit up in the bright fractal patterns of the BEDAZZLE demo and all five speakers began playing the "Monty Python" section of Sousa's "Liberty Bell March." Charly rolled the chair back a few feet and stared from screen to screen.
"NOW what?" And at that moment, all five machines lit up with screen-filling block numerals reading "17!" while the speakers broke into "Happy Birthday to You."
Charly considered herself too grown up to giggle, but this time she did -- a delightfully musical sound. She gave me a big, warm smile of pleasure.
"Neat! Thanks, Tom -- that's so nice. . . !"
"Oh, but there's more. Hit 'CONTROL-P' . . . for 'Present.'"
She gazed at me for a long moment and caught her lower lip between her front teeth in a way that made me unaccountably self-conscious. Then she pressed the keys. "Are you ready for your *17th* birthday present? (Y/N)" the screen said. She snorted and pressed "Y." Now it said "Can you GUESS what your present is? (Y/N)" She shook her head once as she pressed "N." The machines on each side lit up with large, multicolored arrows pointing toward the older machine in the middle of the row -- which now displayed the message, "It's *ME*!!!"
Charly stared at it and her jaw dropped. She finally looked up over her shoulder at me, eyes wide. "You mean. . . ?"
I grinned and nodded. "I figured, what could you really use that you weren't likely to get otherwise?"
Charly gestured vaguely at the 486. "But, Tom, I can't--"
I leaned over her shoulder and rested my hands on the arms of her chair, so I could put my head down close to hers. "Yes, you can, Charly. That's not a new machine; it's been in the closet for almost a year, waiting to be disposed of. It's fully depreciated, so I can't legally sell it without having to pay taxes. I don't have any nieces or nephews I could give it to. And it's too old and slow for the work I do. But it's just about right for a high school student -- for term papers, computer classes, whatever. And I'd much rather give it a good home with you, Charly, than leave it on the curb for some charity I don't even know. It's yours -- really."
Charly turned her head and so did I; we were almost nose-to-nose. She was trying hard not to cry. Then she sniffed a little and kissed me carefully on the cheek. It made me happy that I'd been able to make her so happy, and I didn't notice until afterward the change in her expression. But she suddenly lifted one hand to my chin and angled my face toward her. Then she kissed me again, lingeringly, on the lips.
I was frozen in place by surprise. Obviously, Charly hadn't planned this, either; it just happened. I had forgotten what a young girl's kiss was like, but my own teenage memories flooded my mind and I found myself kissing her back. Charly's other hand gripped my forearm -- not to push me away but to prevent me leaving. I knew even at the time how stupid and conscienceless my reaction to her was. I simply couldn't help myself.
Then our lips parted and I straightened and cleared my throat. "I'm sorry, Charly. I shouldn't have done that." She stood and moved close to me, slipping under my arm which moved naturally around her shoulders.
"I'm not sorry," she said softly as her own arm snaked around my waist. "And I started it, not you." She hugged me, her cheek pressed against my chest. "I wanted to thank you for such a wonderful present."
I opened my mouth to protest her motive but she cut me off instantly. "--And I just *wanted* to do it, too." She looked up and stared unwaveringly into my eyes like a cobra hypnotizing a bird. "I knew all of a sudden that I really wanted to kiss you, Tom . . ."
I couldn't think of a meaningful reply so I hugged her again. I finally managed to say, "This isn't a good idea, Charly." The hoarseness in my voice embarrassed me. "We're friends, and I'm glad we are. I don't want to screw that up."
A ghost of a smile crossed her face and her nose crinkled as she suppressed a grin. "I never said anything about 'screwing'. . . ." Jesus God. She could play me like a fiddle. I didn't know if she was just having a little fun or was truly unaware of her powers -- or, even more terrifying, whether she knew *exactly* what she was doing.
"Charly, . . . I think I hear your mother calling you."
She sighed and squeezed me again before letting go. "Okay, okay -- I'll behave." She moved back to the work table. "You'll have to show me what plugs into where on this thing so I can get it set up right at home." So I identified the cables and connectors for her and she jotted down the pin types and plug numbers. Then we took everything apart, packed it into a couple of cardboard boxes, and lugged it down to her car. When I followed her back up the stairs, I found myself fantasizing as I watched the swaying of her tightly denimed bottom. Not good, not good at all.
She collected her notebook and purse and stuffed them back in her book bag, her original programming problem forgotten. Then I held her jacket while she slipped her arms in . . . and she managed to lean back against me as she did so. It was torture. I enjoyed the attention she was giving me and I loved the feel of her warm, young body against mine -- but she also scared the hell out of me. If she were a junior in *college*, I might be censored by some for engaging in mutual seduction, but I probably couldn't be arrested or harassed. A dalliance with a girl just turning seventeen was dangerous.
So, part of me wanted badly to put my arms around her and squeeze those just-ripening tits, to hump that firm little ass pressing into my groin, to kiss that smooth, white neck and stick my tongue in her ear. Another part of me wanted to run screaming from the room, down the stairs, and into the night.
"Charly -- sweetheart, please, uh, . . . look, don't do this, please? God, you're making me crazy. . . . Charly, I know it's not very original, but I *am* just about old enough to be your father. And *your* father would call the police if he walked in here right now. And Frank wouldn't bother -- he'd just break my back!"
She turned around and leaned against me again, and that was even worse because I was now extremely aware of her unharnessed breasts poking in beneath my ribcage. My fantasies were jumping up and down and salivating.
"I'm not a virgin, you know, Tom." She was carefully studying the design on the front of my sweatshirt.
I couldn't tell whether she expected a comment from me or not so I settled for "Mmm?"
"Nope. I let a guy fuck me for the first time a couple months ago." She pronounced "fuck" very carefully and deliberately, making two syllables out of it like she was studying for a vocabulary test.
Then she raised her eyes and began, "Wouldn't you--?" and I hurriedly put my finger to her lips. It was going to be a question I probably couldn't, and certainly shouldn't, answer. I was so nervous, I hadn't gotten an erection, even under the provocation of Charly's cybernetic body abrading mine.
I finally put my arms around her and hugged her again. A kiss on the forehead would combine rejection with paternalism and I wanted desperately to avoid both, so I swallowed and kissed her as softly and gently on the lips as I could, without shaking too badly. "Sweetheart, you really have to leave; I think I'm going to need some privacy for my breakdown."
Fortunately, she didn't misunderstand.
"Charly, I want you to think very carefully about everything that's been said and done here this evening. Be sure you understand what you really want -- and what the consequences might be. Okay? And whatever conclusions you come to, we're going to remain friends, I promise." And that was as noncommittal as I could force myself to be.
"I'll think about it," she promised, as I walked her down to the door. She turned to me one last time before she left and said, "Tom, thanks so much for the computer. You're the nicest, most thoughtful guy I know -- and it has nothing to do with how old you are." Then she gave me a quick peck -- more like the chaste "thank you" kiss I had originally expected -- and was gone.
I went back in and stood at the bottom of the staircase looking up before I finally gave in to my turmoil and sat heavily on the bottom step. I had thought Charly was cute and vivacious since the first time I'd met her. That didn't bother me and I certainly didn't feel guilty about it. But then I'd begun having daydreams about her that became more and more sexual as they progressed. Still normal enough, I thought: a thirty-five-year-old man could experience a sexy little fantasy even about a strange teenager he saw on the bus and just write it off to unfulfilled horniness.
But now I was facing the actual possibility of access to the source of my arousing fantasies and it was making me very nervous indeed. My cock was belatedly straining the front of my jeans as my runaway imagination concocted pictures and situations featuring the athletic little body that had just bopped out the door. It was her age -- or lack of it -- that was driving me wild! Physically, Charly was certainly a woman. And most people would not be very surprised at a sixteen-year-old girl losing her virginity to a boy her own age. But because I was so much older, I would be branded a "dirty old man," even though I was still in my 30s. I sighed and stared at the front door and wondered if I should just sell the house and leave town.
On Friday a week later, Charly called for the first time since her birthday -- and with a comp sci problem. She seemed to have returned to our previous, "merely" friendly relationship. I was a bit regretful about that -- I couldn't deny it -- but I was also relieved. I told her to come on over that evening. And it didn't even occur to me to wonder why she was doing schoolwork on a Friday night.
Charly showed up about 7:30 wearing a new, rather short, very red skirt and a very pretty red-and-white angora sweater -- birthday gifts she wanted to show off, she said. Her hair was drawn back in a gleaming, rust-colored ponytail, brushed and silky. Her lipstick was a metallic dark red that matched her hair and her carefully-drawn eye shadow made her large luminous green eyes seem even larger. Her warm smile was private between us.
"I lied," she said with a sidelong look as she shucked her jacket. "I don't have any computer science assignment. I just wanted to see you, Tom."
My antennae extended to their full length, quivering and cautious. I should put her jacket right back on her and push her out the door while I still have a chance, I thought. But she had linked her arm through mine and was steering me toward the living room sofa.
As we sat, she looked at me very seriously. "I've been thinking, like you asked me to. About you and me, and the difference in our ages, and everything." She paused and turned unexpectedly shy. "Am I assuming too much, Tom? About 'you and me'. . . ? I don't want to push myself on you; that's one of the things I decided this week while I was thinking." She seemed suddenly unsure of herself and I felt the need to reassure her, so I put my arm around her shoulders and gave her a little squeeze.
"Charly, if you were twenty-seven instead of seventeen, I wouldn't hesitate a second; I'd be wining and dining you and sending you flowers."
Her face lit up as she leaned against me. "Really? You'd do that?"
"A little charmer like you? You bet I would!" I smiled at her fondly and wondered why I was putting myself on the line that way. Charly ducked her head and the tips of her ears turned pink. It was hard to believe this was the same girl who had come on so strongly the last time we were together.
"But I'm *not* twenty-seven," she countered in a low voice. "Does it really matter that much? Anyway, in another year I'll *be* a legal adult. And I wouldn't tell anybody anything until then, honest. . . "
Tell them what? Was this sweet young thing offering herself to me for real? And was I really prepared to accept such an offer?
Without considering what I was doing, I found myself stroking her head, like a kitten. God, she was so cute. And she was right about her deceptive age: I had to keep reminding myself that I had been finishing college the year she was born.
"Charly? What's the matter, sweetheart? Let me see that pretty face . . ." I chucked her under the chin, which made her smile as she tilted her head back against my arm. She still wore an unhappy expression but the gaze she fixed on me burned away my optical insulation.
I stroked her cheek for a moment, staring back into those wide, impossibly green eyes. In them, I could see the reflection of my burning bridges. I leaned over and kissed her wet, inviting lips.
She made a small whimpering sound in the back of her throat as she bunched up the front of my shirt in her fist. She leaned into me and her eyebrows rose as her eyes widened still more. Then her lashes fluttered and her body melted into mine. It was the most exciting and soul-satisfying kiss I'd ever participated in.
As the long chord of our kiss faded away, she scrambled around so she could bury her face in my neck. I heard an "Ohhhhh . . ." in a breathy, little girl whisper that gave me shivers. She was up on one knee, her arms around my neck; my arms had wrapped themselves around her narrow waist. Her breasts were mashed against one side of my chest and when I ran one hand across the back of her sweater I encountered no evidence of a bra strap. All I found was shifting layers of smooth muscle.
Charly had shifted gears and was nuzzling my throat, scattering steamy, aggressive kisses up and down my windpipe. Her hot little hand clutched the back of my neck and my own hands pushed her sweater up until they reached her volcanic tits. My thumbs moved over her hardening nipples and she moaned against my Adam's apple, flicking her tongue out to stab me in the throat -- and the heart. She was drowning me in wet kisses and I loved it.
Then she was straddling my lap, pressing her breasts against my face. I snagged one hard, stiff nipple between my lips and swirled my tongue around it. Charly gulped twice and her fingers sank hard into my shoulders.
"Oh my God, oh my God, ohhhh, . . . oh, Jesus, that feels *so* good!" she whispered thickly and tried to push more of herself into my mouth. I switched to the other nipple and she moaned again. My hands were moving on automatic, caressing her slender waist and polishing her lower back. I was vaguely aware that I was avoiding her taut buttocks, nor did I try to push that short skirt farther up. I didn't quite know why I was denying myself that, but I never argue with my unconscious.
After a few minutes of savoring the taste of each young nipple alternately, I realized that Charly was trembling. I got her to bend at the knees, squatting on my lap, so I could see her face. She was crying, not loudly but damply, and she wore an unfathomable expression.
"Sweetheart, what is it? If all this scares you, we'd better stop, Charly. I would never do anything to frighten you, please believe me."
Her fingers moved from my shoulders to gently stroke my face. "No, no -- it's nothing like that," she replied shakily. "I just didn't know it was possible to feel like this. It's so wonderful. . . !" She blinked away her tears and licked her lips in indecision. "I . . . I have to say it, Tom. I'm in love with you. Not 'puppy love' or a 'crush' -- I really love you." She took a deep breath. "Have I scared *you* away now?"
Since graduating from high school romance, I'd had serious affairs with two women, both of whom I'd eventually broken up with. I had proposed to the first one and she'd turned me down, gently but firmly. She had career plans that didn't allow for marriage just yet. The second one, I *should* have proposed to but didn't, and she got tired of waiting.
I suffered badly both times and in the nearly ten years since my second defeat, I had carefully kept my relationships with women physical, with friendship and neutral affection added wherever possible. That seemed to work, especially with the women I dated regularly and slept with occasionally. By mutual understanding, "love" never entered the equation with them.
While these affinities were quite satisfying sexually and filled a mutual need, I guess I'd deluded myself about avoiding love. Charly's forthright declaration, not insisting I reciprocate, not demanding anything for herself . . . was it really what she thought it was? Was it really possible for a girl of seventeen to be genuinely in love with a man who was nearly thirty-five?
Equally important right now was how I really felt about her. Was my strong attraction to Charly only sexual? No -- absolutely not. That was part of it, of course, but she was intelligent and cheerful and witty, and I thought about her every day . . . a realization which had only just that moment dawned on me. If I sent her away, or if she left, and I never saw her again, how would I feel? And the answer to that question, I knew immediately, was that I didn't even want to consider the possibility of never seeing Charly again.
Was I in love with this astonishing young girl? Real, true love? And did the rest of the world give a damn about "true love"? Was I out of my fucking mind?
I came out of my thoughts and saw that Charly was studying my face and biting her lower lip. She'd just taken a huge chance. Because she was right: I might get spooked by the implications of this situation and chase her away. She was actually worried about losing *me* . . . and I knew, too, that if I did end this thing, it would never even occur to her to seek adolescent revenge by hollering "rape!"
Her hands had moved to her lap and she was anxiously intertwining her fingers. I took each of her hands in one of mine and squeezed a little.
"Charly, I don't know what to say . . ." A sad, dejected look began to appear on her face. "No, sweetheart -- I mean I *really* don't know what to say. I sure wasn't prepared for all this, you know. And I don't think 'love' means the same thing to you that it used to mean to me. Seriously, Charly: Are you thinking 'going steady' or 'having babies?'"
Her cheeks abruptly flushed. I wasn't doing this very well. "I'm not making fun of you, honest. But the idea of digging out my old senior ring -- if I could find it -- for you to wear on a chain around your neck . . ." The image was so ludicrous I stopped and grinned. She saw the humor of it, too, and smiled as she squeezed my hands in return. "And you don't really want to get married before you can even vote, do you? I know you want more from your future than that, Charly." Her smile turned serious and she glanced down.
"Can't we . . . um . . . have an affair or something?" she asked softly. But I'd had affairs; she hadn't.
"Sweetheart, 'love' means more than an affair. It has to. Trust me on this, okay? Hiding our relationship from everyone wouldn't last very long, either. Things like that just don't stay secret." She nodded slowly. There was something else, though. "Charly, you haven't asked me how I feel about you."
"Well, . . ." She took a deep breath. "I'm still sitting on your lap, so I guess you don't hate me too much." The bright smile flashed on and off again. "I know you like me, Tom. I think I turn you on, too, don't I?" The second smile was much more confident. "But if you don't love me . . . well, that's okay. I can live without that as long as you *like* me and just let me be around you." She was studying my sweatshirt again and my heart climbed up into my throat. I didn't deserve someone like this feeling this way about me.
I stroked her cheeks with my thumbs and felt some of the tension drain from her muscles. "Charly, it's important that I be completely honest with you. I'm not sure I know what love is anymore. I know my feelings about you are much stronger than I realized until this evening. I've thought you were cute and sweet since the first day your brothers introduced you. We've become good friends, and I value that a great deal. You have a mind and a force of character I can respect -- and that's important, to me, anyway."
I shrugged. "But is that 'love?' I don't know, Charly. If I were twenty again, without the life I've experienced since then, still full of enthusiasm and with fewer battle-scars . . . hell, yes, I'd be in love with you! I'd neglect my work to write you love poems. My friends would make jokes about my lapses of attention. I'd lie awake all night thinking about you, your beautiful eyes, those luscious lips, and especially that radiant smile!"
Another shrug. "But I'm not twenty, Charly, any more than you're twenty-seven. I'm almost thirty-five, and my friends would make very different jokes. Your father would probably go to court and get an injunction to keep me from coming anywhere near you. And your brothers . . . well, I hate to think how they'd react. And I'm sitting here wondering if all of them wouldn't be right."
But I was still backpedalling and Charly knew it. She scooted closer on my lap and slipped her wrists around my neck. And she gazed at me very seriously indeed. "Tom . . . do you think you *could* love me? Eventually?"
There it was. And without thinking any further, I knew the answer. "Charly -- sweetheart -- I think I *am* in love with you. I think I've been falling in love with you for months now, God help me." She blinked rapidly several times and pulled my lips to hers. I've never been kissed like that in my life, before or since. The alarm bells that had been clanging in my mind for ten minutes fell silent. I didn't know how we were going to work this out, but we would. At least, we'd certainly try.
Then Charly brought me back to the here-and-now with a snap. "Tom . . . are we, um . . . are we going to make love?" Her voice was low and excited and her squirming transmitted itself to my groin like a telegraph key. There should be rising violins in the background, I thought absently. Of *course* I wanted to make love to this marvelous girl. I wanted to strip her bare and bury myself in her within the next ten seconds -- which was exactly why I couldn't do it, not yet, not after our revelations to each other. It would be too much like rape under psychological duress.
I slid my hands up and down her smooth, firm thighs and sighed in frustration. "I don't think we should, Charly. When I was your age -- God, there I go! -- the common wisdom among the guys I knew was, 'if you can't get her to fuck, tell her you love her.' That's what I'd feel like I was doing, sweetheart."
Charly laughed lightly and her eyes sparkled. "They still say that, Tom; we just don't believe them any more! But I understand what you're saying," she added quickly. "It's okay; I know you're trying to be careful. But it doesn't really matter, because we have all the time in the world -- and you're going to be seeing a lot of me from now on. . . ."
The next few months went by in a blur. I felt fifteen years younger, which worried me a little when I mulled my unconscious motives for this unlooked-for romance. I was both breathlessly starry-eyed and worried to the point of indigestion every time I thought about Charly. And I thought about her *all* the time. The refrain spun madly around in my mind: You're too old for her! / Age difference doesn't matter when you're in love! / You're not in love, you're just flattered that she thinks *she* is! / But she's a wonderful girl! / Yes, and you're going to mess up her life! / She wants me! / You want her body! / SHUT UP!
Charly didn't seem visited by such doubts at all. In fact, she was amazingly calm and sensible. She didn't tell her girlfriends that she was involved with an older man. She went out on social dates with boys her own age, just as she always had. When we bumped into each other in public, she would pause and chatter brightly about computers . . . and only I could see the longing hidden behind her youthful smile. I'd met her parents once or twice -- nice people, unfortunately -- and Chris and Frank apparently had vouched for me as a "good guy," so no one objected when Charly continued her periodic visits, in between yard-work days. Her grades, if anything, rose even higher and she was invited to apply for both academic and athletic scholarships at one of the state's more prestigious universities. But she didn't want to go if it meant being separated from me. That required a heart-to-heart talk.
"Charly, you still have a whole year to go before you finish high school and I'm willing to bet you get additional offers during that time. Take the best offer from the best school and go!" I touched my finger to her lips to stave off the protest I knew was coming. "Sweetheart, if you stay away from college because of me, you'll come to hate me for it. You have to think of yourself first in matters like this."
She looked stubborn, though, which perhaps is why I said what I said next: "Charly, there's no rule that I have to stay here when you go off to college."
She stared at me blankly as if she had assumed I was chained to this house. "You'd move? Just to be with me?"
I reviewed in my mind what I'd just said. "Um. Yes, . . . I guess I would. Yes, of course I would! As long as I have electricity, a phone line for the modem, a mailbox, and access to UPS, what else do I need to do my work? It's not like I have to put on a suit and go to an office every morning."
That got me a neck-crushing hug and a rain of passionate, joyful kisses. Every couple of weeks thereafter, Charly came over for the evening. Sometimes we went out to eat -- not in our part of town, though -- and sometimes I cooked for her. We cuddled on the sofa and talked about all sorts of things. She explained to me her aspirations in math and science and I encouraged her enthusiastically. I was sure Charly had a greater natural aptitude for this stuff than I had and I wanted to witness its blooming. I wanted stardom for her, of some kind.
I explained to her, without embarrassment, what I thought had gone wrong with my two earlier serious involvements with women and she said intelligent, sympathetic, soothing things. Words that, to my amazement, I'd needed to hear and never realized it. It was like she possessed an ancient, natural wisdom to balance her bouncy, optimistic personality.
The deeper my knowledge and understanding of Charly grew, the deeper I fell in love. I no longer argued with myself about the ethics of what we were doing. I became convinced -- gradually, completely -- that what I had come to feel was not infatuation nor simple lust, but a quiet, thorough acceptance that this was the person I wanted to be with permanently.
It wasn't all talk between us, though, not by any means. Our physical relationship also continued to develop, though we took it slowly at first . . . just as Charly would have done with another high school student. I rediscovered the excitement of exploring inch by inch a willing young body of the opposite sex. And she had the dubious pleasure (in my opinion) of exploring a male body that had seen better days, but she seemed to take as much pleasure in being an explorer as an exploree.
She enjoyed teasing me, wearing a cropped tee-shirt and no bra with tight short-shorts and thong-style sandals, to show off her smooth, muscular legs. She was very nearly as strong as I was and a good deal quicker. More than once, we wrestled playfully, with me ending up on the floor on my back, arms pinned by Charly's focused energy. Then she'd grin and brush her bare, swaying breasts against my lips and let me suck at her firm, resilient nipples.
I loved to stroke that lovely, lithe body, running my hands slowly up and down her calves and thighs, squeezing her perfect buttocks, gently testing the tensions in her strong shoulders and neck. Her eyes would smoulder in shifting verdant shades and her piercing look of undoubting love would skewer my heart and soul.
Then her jeans would be down, or her skirt up, and my fingers and thumb would gently probe her pussy, massaging and strumming her clit while she clung tightly to me, until she collapsed in a shaking, stammering orgasm.
Nor did my own arousal go unnoticed. When our laughing loveplay gave me an erection -- which was nearly always -- Charly would matter-of-factly squeeze and massage my cock through my slacks, then unzip my fly and carefully extricate the object of her attentions. At first, methodically and with her usual concentration, she would simply stroke and pump my willing penis until the climactic moment when her hands were covered in my oozing semen.
But it didn't take long before she was nuzzling my cock-head with her face and lips, licking the shaft with long, torturous strokes, and then sucking avidly on it until my climax ended up on, and then in her mouth. Less to wipe up, she said, and winked.
Finally, five months into our mutual journey of discovery, when she'd spent a particularly hot, muggy April day working on the yard that spring of her junior year, she killed the mower and came up to meet me on the wooden steps of the screened back porch. And there she stripped completely, twining her sweaty, somewhat aromatic body around mine.
It was the first time I'd seen her entirely naked. I glanced quickly to both sides but the aspens and the fence screened us completely from my neighbors. She nipped at my ear, then bit me harder than usual on the neck.
"It's been long enough, Tom," she murmured insistently. "If you don't take off your clothes and make love to me right now, I'm going to skip-rope down the sidewalk naked until *someone* pays attention to me. . . !"
All I was wearing was an old pair of wash pants and she had them pushed down my legs within seconds. My cock was ascending between us and she grasped it just below the head and led me down the steps to an area of newly-clipped, sweet-smelling Bermuda. There we stood and kissed, tongues dueling, hands moving urgently over trembling bodies. She was right, as usual: this was the time and the place. God, I wanted her!
Charly sank slowly to her knees and lay back in the fresh-cut grass, drawing me down with her. "Do it, Tom," she said quietly. "Put it in me. I need you to fuck me, Tom." If she was trying to enhance the old guy's arousal, she was succeeding. She spread her smooth, very white legs, knees apart, and urged me on. Her rusty pubic patch shone in the spring sun.
But there was something we were forgetting. "Sweetheart, what if you--" I began, but she interrupted me with a broad leer.
"I started on the Pill months ago. Now, do it! Fuck me!"
So I knelt between her thighs and rubbed my cockhead up and down at the already moist opening, for lubrication. She jerked in excitement and laughed at her own reaction. When I slid slowly into her, she hissed and closed her eyes tightly. Her pelvis arched upward to meet me. From what my sweet Charly had said, this was only her second time -- her first time with someone she really cared about, the extra dimension -- and I was determined to make it memorable for her. I took my time, moving slowly, though it was a struggle to maintain that discipline. On each stroke, I drove into her more deeply and forcefully and in seconds she was gasping in high excitement and sliding her hands agitatedly up and down my arms and across my shoulders. Her legs rose and locked around my ribs and I was aware of the long muscles tensing and relaxing in rhythm with my movements.
At first, she moaned my name over and over but as we progressed she became nearly inarticulate. Having that kind of effect on her wound me up tight, too. I leaned forward over her body to increase the friction against her clit; looking down, I watched the shallow mounds of her creamy breasts vibrate seismically. And when she reached her orgasm after ten minutes or so, her legs squeezed my torso even harder while her fingers tugged at my hair.
I slowed for a few strokes to allow her to catch her breath and then increased the tempo. "Oh, do it hard!" she moaned under her breath and held her knees apart for the deepest possible penetration. So I let myself go, pounding into her, making her gasp raggedly at each thrust. When I finally came, my cock pressed against the end of her hot, clasping cunt, she hung onto my neck so tightly I could barely breath myself. And with her nose in my ear, she whispered, "Tom, I love you so much . . . you're the only guy I'll ever want or ever need. . . ." Any lingering doubts I'd had about my future with Charly were gone.
Our circumstances were such that we were only able to have sex every five or six weeks that spring and summer. Which turned out to be a good thing, actually, because it kept the suspense and anticipation high between us and prevented physical boredom. We always made love at my house, of course, and Charly was never able to spend the night. I wanted to sleep with her literally as well as figuratively, to wake in the morning with her head snuggled against my chest, to watch her yawn and stretch. But I was glad of the time we were able to spend together.
We planned elaborate scenarios in which Charly would take her closest friends into her confidence and stage a fake slumber party; they would cover for her and she would spend the night with me. Or an overnight campout in the woods -- which she would desert, to meet me at a fancy motel. In the event, we played it safe. We had all the rest of our lives and we didn't want to take chances with them now.
The day after Labor Day, Charly began a serious campaign to nail down as much financial aid as possible for college, only a year away now. She ranked very high in her class and her SAT scores were stratospheric, so her chances were far better than average. The fact that she was a female with an interest in math and science didn't hurt, either. Softball, field hockey, and women's track coaches from several state universities also invited her for a visit; she went, but she was much more interested in academic scholarships. Besides, as she noted in annoyance, the money available for women's sports was nothing like the huge allotments for the guys.
Her competence in computer science also had accelerated. Where I'd had to lead her through beginning database design almost by the hand only a year before, she was now looking over my shoulder and making insightful comments and suggestions on the jobs I got paid for.
Her talent was driven home one October evening when I took a break from a tedious project to play around with one of the better-known social simulation games. I was surprised when my previously saved game immediately began to exhibit all sorts of emergency scenarios -- many more of them and much stranger than the game itself called for. While struggling to figure out why a smoothly-functioning city I'd constructed months before was suddenly stricken with a plague of grass and weeds, a suspicion began to dawn. Grass and weeds?
"Oh, Char-r-r-l-y-y-y," I warbled while staring at the screen. A strangled sound made me look back over my shoulder. My little sweetheart was curled up in the old armchair in the corner, both hands over her mouth, tears of laughter at the corners of her beautiful, devilish eyes. When she saw she'd been found out, she gave up any attempt to smother her glee and broke into a cacophony of giggles, even drumming her heels on the chair arm in her delight.
Of course, I got up and went and leaped on her, and we wound up on the floor, mock-wrestling and tickling each other. She'd set me up, all right -- and I was very impressed at the skill with which she'd done it.
"Sweetheart," I said as we cuddled out of breath, "I think that little stunt was your graduation project. There's nothing more that the Weeks Academy of Computer Guru-ism can teach you!"
"You mean I don't get to stay after school any more?" she laughed.
"Only if you're very nice to your teacher."
"Oh, I'm *always* nice to my poor old teacher!" Of course, I had to tickle her again for that.
"Do you think my teacher would be willing to write me a letter of recommendation?" she asked after she had me pinned. "Berkeley's offering me a really *big* scholarship, plus a waiver on the out-of-state tuition. I just got the letter today! It goes term-to-term and I have to keep my grades really high to be renewed, of course, but it *could* cover all four years."
I sat up excitedly and hugged her. "Charly, that's wonderful! UC is a terrific school for the things you're interested in! And I know you'd like the Bay Area, too. I lived out there for several years before my grandfather died and I hated to leave." Then something occurred to me. "Um, sweetheart, have you told your folks about this yet? I know they were expecting you to go to college someplace nearby."
"Yeah, I told them last night. They'd prefer I didn't go to school so far away, but they realize what an opportunity this is . . . and also that they couldn't afford to pay for me to go someplace like that. And they're proud that I've done it all on my own, so there's no problem." She twisted around so she could look me in the eye. "But, Tom, there's something else: I know what you said before, about leaving here, but Berkeley is so far away, and--"
I held her by the biceps and returned her gaze. "Charly, do you still want us to be together while you're in school? Be honest with me; I'll understand, I promise."
"Oh, God, Tom -- I don't *ever* want to be away from you! But I don't want to mess up your work, either; that wouldn't be fair."
"Charly, wherever you go, I'll go. As long as you want me to be there. Always." And her face crumpled into happy tears and she hugged me so tightly around the neck, I nearly strangled. I was so proud of her, and so unequivocally in love with her, and so in awe of being the one *she* loved, I would have followed her to the Moon.
Charly graduated third out of 700-some-odd in her senior class -- president of her National Honor Society chapter and winner of an award from the local IEEE chapter, too. When the principal announced her scholarship to UC at commencement, she and the two or three others who had received major financial awards received standing applause from their friends -- and from me, because I was there, too. There was no way I was going to miss my sweetheart's latest triumph.
We'd only had one real disagreement that spring, when Charly mentioned she wasn't planning to go to the Senior Prom. But why? I wanted to know. She looked at me oddly and declared that if she couldn't go with me, she didn't want to go. And that was out of the question, of course. It took me several days of patient talk and cajoling to convince her to accept an invitation from a boy she'd dated off-and-on for several years, someone she'd become good friends with.
She explained to the guy beforehand that her "boyfriend" was in another town and couldn't make it for the prom -- and then discovered, quite belatedly, that not only her prospective date but all her friends were perfectly aware there was *someone* in her life, someone she was unwilling to talk about. The boys she knew were curious about the mystery man but respected her privacy in the matter. Her girlfriends thought it was all "too romantic."
So Charly went to the Prom -- and admitted the next day that she'd had a wonderful time and was glad she'd let me talk her into it. When I asked her, with a smile, whether she'd thanked her date with a kiss or two, she hesitated. Well, yes, she had, actually -- but they'd been friends for so long and everything. . . . And I laughed and held her in my arms and assured her that I was not going to be jealous of anyone she ever dated, then or in college.
I'd already thought it out: I was busy with my work so much of the time, she was young and full of energy, and for me to smother her with even psychological monogamy was the quickest way I knew to lose her love.
Charly spent June throwing out most of eighteen years of accumulated junk and adapting her wardrobe for the even but temperate climate of San Francisco and Berkeley. She had to be there for freshman orientation on August 1st. Chris and Frank, home for vacation, helped out.
I spent July in preliminary conferences with several real estate agents. We'd already worked this out, as well. She was going to be extraordinarily busy for the first few months. Her scholarship included room and board and it made sense for her to live in one of the freshman dorms, at least officially. I would wait until mid-fall to dispose of my property. That would allow me to get the best price and my departure from town wouldn't follow hers too closely . . . just in case someone noticed a connection. Also, I had several contacts around the Bay Area and I asked them to keep an eye out for a rental of some kind that wasn't too far from the University but was still within my modest price range.
The afternoon of the day before Charly was due to leave for school, I made a point of going around to her house to say goodbye to my "yard guy" and unofficial student. I gave her a little guidebook to San Francisco as a going-away present, and she hugged me and kissed me on the cheek, and thanked me sincerely for two years of extra income and mentoring. Her father was also sincere when he shook my hand and thanked me for all I'd done for his daughter. Her mother added that it was very nice that I'd spent so much of my free time helping her daughter in her schoolwork; she obviously didn't have a clue about computers or Charly's proficiency with them. I smiled and waved cheerfully as I left.
After dark, Charly and I met "by accident" in the farthest corner of a nearby mall parking lot and I gave her her real present: a small gold ring with a solitary pearl. (I could hardly give her a diamond solitaire.) But Charly had a weakness for pearls and this modest bit of jewelry was symbolic of a much greater depth of feeling than it appeared to be. So she slipped it on the third finger of her left hand and stood admiring it while tears flowed down both cheeks. We kept our parting kiss brief -- it could have lasted until sunrise, had we let it -- and confirmed that the next time we embraced would be in California. Then I went home to lose myself in work the rest of the night and Charly went home to try (unsuccessfully) to sleep.
Charly called a few days later in a state of high exhilaration. Most of the freshman girls in her dorm, she said, were nervous and even a little frightened to be there. She, on the other hand, wanted to learn *everything* there was to learn before Friday at the latest. She'd made it into several honors courses, which meant smaller classes without TAs. She *loved* the campus already, she *loved* what she'd been able to see of Berkeley itself, and she *loved* the Bay and the view of the city on the other side. Several of the girls were going on an expedition by BART the next day and the little travel guide I'd given her was already full of paper clips and dog-eared pages. She was so ecstatic about everything, I found myself grinning like an idiot over the handset. I had a feeling I knew where our future home was going to be.
Two weeks after that, one of the realtors I'd talked to called to say she had a live one: The general manager of a new company in town wanted an appropriate home for himself, his wife, and their three teenagers. They were moving from Boston and the family wanted no more of brownstones and crowded sidewalks. I shook my head: Nouveau suburbanites, yet. But the guy and his wife came and examined the house top to bottom, exclaiming over all the bedrooms and closets, the huge old kitchen . . . and especially the large and beautifully maintained yard. Then they had an independent inspector do the same and he gave the old place a clean bill. The offer my realtor managed to get from them was considerably larger than I had expected, but a dollar's worth of housing went a lot farther in that town than in Boston.
It took me another month to dispose of my own unwanted junk and to arrange for shipment of computer equipment and books and family furniture to the large studio a trustworthy friend had found for me near El Cerrito. It wasn't as close to the campus as I would have preferred, but it would do for a year or two while I reacquainted myself with the area. And then I was on my way in my old Corolla station wagon, loaded with clothes and odds-and-ends, and I never looked back.
On Halloween, Charly and I took turns going to my redwood door to pass out candy to trick-or-treaters. And in between doorbells, we made up for the two months we'd been apart.
The two of us had been so concerned with trying to logically and rationally plan our future together, we'd forgotten one of the best things about moving out to the coast: Freedom! No one knew us here and we didn't have to hide. We could hold hands at a show in El Cerrito, or play tourist in San Francisco, or attend some event on the UC campus, and *nobody cared*! We knew almost no one yet, so any friendships either of us formed came ready-made with an acknowledged lover/partner. We still took precautions against the world in general -- I stayed away from her classrooms and dorm and she was careful not to be present when I had clients over -- but the student culture of Berkeley is one of the most intellectually free places in the country. Not always the most liberal (this wasn't the '60s any longer), but certainly one of the most tolerant in terms of people-mixing.
You could see "couples" of every description and definition swarming in and out of Sather Gate: Mostly young people, of course, but also leftover hippies with gray hair, gay men, gay women, people with jewelry in unlikely places, guys in three-piece suits and ponytails, political pamphleteers for every cause imaginable, local merchants and street-sellers, and gawking tourists from the Corn Belt -- they were all there any afternoon when the weather allowed it. I loved the place, and still do.
Though I didn't mention it to Charly, I'd been a little concerned about my ability to earn a living in the computer-industry hothouse of northern California, but it turned out that talent can always find a home -- and I knew I had talent. Actually, as I'd explained earlier to Charly, it didn't really matter much where I lived, as long as I had access to the means of communication. I was working not with hardware, which often required one's physical presence, but with software -- electrons over a wire. Most of my previous clients stayed with me and I managed to acquire a few new ones. By Christmas of that first year, I was busier than ever -- and charging for my work at California rates, too.
Charly ended her first term in a turmoil about her grades: She'd managed only a 3.85 instead of the 4.0 she expected of herself. I tried not to laugh (remembering my own struggles and lack of discipline the first couple of years in college), but I was secretly very proud of her indeed. And damned if she didn't make all A's the *second* term.
That first summer, my sweetheart went home for a few weeks to see her family and friends and to bask in their congratulations at the quality of work she was doing. She seemed to be heading for a career in pure math and was already at a level she had difficulty describing to her parents. Chris had just graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in accounting and was cramming like mad for his CPA exam, she said. Frank had finished his second year at Cornell, where he was near the top of the HRM school academically and was well thought of by the varsity football and basketball coaches, as well. Whatever else Mr. and Mrs. Chambers had accomplished in their lives, they'd certainly raised a trio of overachievers.
Then she pleaded the need to study over the summer and returned to my waiting arms. I rented a small, sporty car and we indulged ourselves in a two-week drive up the coast and back, with lengthy stops at Mt. Shasta, Crater Lake, Portland, Mount St. Helens, Seattle, and Vancouver. We gaped at the scenery in the Cascades, gaped again at the Columbia Gorge, used up a dozen rolls of film in Olympic National Park, and took the ferry over to Vancouver Island to ride the omnibuses in Victoria. Each of us found a score of places where we knew we could be happy for a long time.
Charly looked just enough older now, especially when she spent a little time with her makeup, that we were never cross-examined by motel managers. And there was something especially romantic about making love in a different bed almost every night. Coming and going, I estimated that I had filled up her cunt across 1,500 miles of wilderness and that she had sucked my cock in a dozen towns and cities (not counting several scenic overlooks). In fact, I made the run from Roseburg to Eugene with her copper-topped head in my lap, milking two separate orgasms from me at 65 mph. Positioned as she was in the little car, it was a good thing I never had to shift.
The second year was more of the same, only better. We knew our way around now and we had acquired a small circle of mutual friends -- including two couples whose disparity in ages was nearly as great as our own. We had found some favorite restaurants in the City, and we delighted in walking through the crowds along Jefferson Street and the Embarcadero on a Saturday afternoon.
We were spending much more time in each other's company now, and I was pleased (and relieved) to find that while we both enjoyed a rousing argument, we never, ever fought. I believe both of us went to some trouble to avoid fights because each of us feared the potential fragility of our relationship. Yes, we were deeply in love, more so every day, but we both were too aware of the odds against us to take ourselves anything other than seriously.
But we didn't hold things back, either. Not important things. Charly once caught me watching an attractive neighbor sunbathing on the back patio of my building. The woman had very nice tits and she was wearing only the lower half of a bikini. I know my expression as I stood by the open window was one of frank admiration. Then Charly came up behind me and I fell all over myself, apologizing and assuring her that I was "only looking." My sweetheart took a peek out the window herself, clucked in apparent disapproval, and turned her back on me -- and then lost it and broke down in giggles at my guilty expression. When I assured her I loved only her, she put her tongue in my ear and whispered "Don't you think I know that, you dummy?" We spent the rest of the afternoon finding interesting ways to occupy our bodies.
But then we reached a turning point that neither of us had expected. The doorbell rang one May evening as I was working ****** on a problem in data transfer and I was annoyed at the interruption. Charly had her own key, of course, so it was probably a salesman -- or, at this hour, a Jehovah's Witness. But my jaw dropped when I opened the door.
"Frank?! What are you doing here? Uh, come in, come in . . ." Charly's brother was in his third year at Cornell, nearly three thousand miles to the east. He had no business being here, especially without warning, and he wasn't smiling as he entered and shook my hand.
"Hello, Mr. Weeks. Funny seeing you here, too." He looked down at me appraisingly for a moment and then walked over to my favorite armchair and sat without waiting to be invited. Mr. Weeks? What had happened to "Tom?" Also, Frank, like his older brother, was ordinarily a very polite young man; such rude conduct on his part had to be calculated and I didn't like the implications.
"Since I was in San Francisco for a UIL debate," he continued, "I thought I'd surprise Charly . . . so I didn't tell her I was coming." He shot me a faint smile and nodded slowly. "Yep -- she was surprised, all right. She'd been sitting at her desk in the dorm room and while we were chatting I happened to glance at the writing pad she'd left lying there. She was writing a love letter." He watched me swallow nervously.
"I didn't realize at first who she was writing to -- I assumed it was some guy she'd met on campus -- and I was reading bits of it out loud and teasing her a little about this new-found love interest. She got pretty upset -- which was very strange, you know? I expected a wise-crack or a zinger from her, not tears. And then I came across a reference in the letter to lawn-mowing and 'rolling in the hay,' and how nice it was to be in love with 'a more experienced man' . . ." He let it just dangle there and waited silently for me to respond.
Jesus. . . . With a little advance notice to form an explanation of my relationship with Charly, I was pretty sure I could make Frank understand. Charly and I had already discussed the unpleasant fact that we eventually would have to confront not only her two brothers but her parents as well. But having been caught off-guard and unprepared like this by a large young man who was physically quite capable of pounding me into hamburger, I was flustered and dry in the mouth. Moreover, Frank's unblinking cobra gaze made me feel *guilty*, and I didn't like that at all. It made me a little reckless.
"Frank, I'm not going to apologize for falling in love with your sister. It happened despite my efforts *not* to become emotionally involved -- but it happened. Have you asked Charly how she feels about me?"
He seemed nonplussed that I'd strayed from the defensive. "Charly's not old enough or experienced enough to--"
"I could say the same thing about you, Frank. You're only a year older than she is."
He stood up and glared at me. "The point is that you're *twenty* years older than my sister! We trusted you, Mr. Weeks, and you--"
And at that point the girl herself charged through my front door looking both worried and pissed. "Tom, I tried to call, to warn you that Frank was in town, but your phone's been tied up forever!" Oh, yeah: my modem was still running and the call-waiting was disabled. She turned fiercely on her brother; her fears that Frank might have punched me out had dissipated, to be replaced by rising anger.
"Frank! You have no business harassing him like this! I'm an adult now, remember? I'll make my own decisions!" Her face was red with furious determination and when she clenched her small, hard fists and stepped between her brother and me, Frank actually took a pace back.
"Charly, this guy's old enough to be your father!"
"Hey, now *that's* really original!" she shot back.
"He's just taking advantage of your youth and inexperience!"
Charly stared back at him and took a couple of deep breaths in a conscious effort to calm herself down. She visibly set herself and her voice took on a tone of quiet, serious anger. Hell, she even scared me.
"Now, Frank, I want you to listen to me very carefully because I mean every word I say: You're my brother and I love you very much. The same for Chris. You guys have always been there for me and I would never intentionally do anything to hurt you. But I also love Tom Weeks and I know he loves me." She glanced back, reached for my hand, and squeezed it.
Frank was a bit bewildered by Charly's blistering attack. "But he's twen--"
"--he's twenty years older than me! So what, Frank? He's also three or four inches taller than me! So what? And don't forget, he has brown hair and beautiful hazel eyes . . ." Frank obviously was at a loss how to respond to his sister's blunt challenge and she knew it.
Charly shifted gears and her voice softened. "Frank, please understand. You'll have to trust my judgment on this. I admit it -- I'm so crazy about him, it keeps me awake at night." She gave me a warm, melting look and squeezed my hand again. "But I've thought this through, over and over again. I'm not stupid, Frank: I know the statistics are against us. And there's something else you don't know." She shot him a wry smile. "I'm the one who started all this, not Tom! He tried to talk me out of what I said I wanted. He worried about all the very same things you're worried about. He tried so hard to convince me it was a bad idea to fall for him." I was the recipient of another soft smile. "And he did that against his will, kinda . . . because I could see it in him. Poor Tom . . . It caused him pain, I realized that later -- but he was doing what he thought he *ought* to do, what he thought was best for me."
Charly turned to me and linked her wrists around my neck. "You were wrong, darling. The best thing for me is *you* and it always will be." Even though I knew this little display was for Frank's benefit (neither of us was in the habit of calling each other "darling," for one thing), my emotions were climbing nevertheless. When she pulled me down into a kiss and wound her fingers in my hair, I returned it for all I was worth.
As we came out of our clinch, both of us with foolish smiles, I became aware that Frank was shifting his weight from one foot to the other, abashed, a little embarrassed, trying not to watch us too closely . . . and maybe beginning to be convinced that his kid sister wasn't entirely crazy.
He groped for a chair and sat, and Charly and I took the sofa across from him. He studied his hands and the coffee table and a speck on the arm of his chair. Finally, he visibly squared his shoulders and looked at his sister's face, then at mine, then back at her. "Well," he began, "I still don't think I approve of all this -- but you're right, Charly: Tom Weeks has always been an honest, conscientious guy . . . and somehow I can't picture you being seduced against your will by *anyone*." Charly beamed at him. "So, uh, should I be expecting a wedding announcement, or what?"
"No, Frank, not yet." Charly interlaced her fingers with mine as we held hands. "Didn't we just agree that I'm not stupid? If I *really* wanted to get Tom mad at me, I'd quit school and forget about a career."
"Damn right," I interjected with a grin. "Frank, I don't think I'd be bragging to say that I'm pretty good in math and logic and computer software design. But your sister puts me in the shade! She has a tremendous talent and she'll pass me by long before she graduates. To waste a mind like that would be criminal."
Charly picked up the explanation again. "We have each other already. We spend most of our free time together, naturally, but we don't even live together, Frank! Tom has more work right now than he can find time for. He's successful at what he does and that makes both of us happy, believe me. And *my* work is getting through school. If we got married right now, it would just complicate our lives even more and we don't need that. I have another two years
before I get my B.S. After that -- yes, you can expect an invitation. Also," she added practically, "I'll be twenty-two. Our marriage won't be so difficult for people to deal with."
Frank shook his head slowly in disbelief. "A two-year engagement? That's hard to believe, man."
Charly glanced at me and quietly corrected him. "It'll be more like four years, Frank. Or five. We've been in love for quite a while now."
Her brother nodded without comment; nothing more could shock or surprise him now. "Okay -- whatever. I just don't want you being hurt, Sis." He glanced at me and I saw the warning.
"Frank," I said quietly and seriously, "if I ever do anything to harm this girl in any way, I hope you'll come and beat me to a soggy pulp." His slight nod seemed to mean he would take me at my word. Then he smiled, a bit wearily.
"Well, . . . anything I can do to help, let me know. I'm always on your side, Charly. Both your sides, now, I guess."
He stood and Charly jumped up and hugged him aggressively. "We were going to tell everyone, you know. Just not yet and not like this. So Chris doesn't know about us, either. Or the folks."
Frank grinned ruefully. "Well, I think I can smooth the way a little with ol' Chris. I'll be seeing him at a Knicks exhibition game in a few weeks and we're planning to get together for a pizza afterward, before I go back to Ithaca. I'll break the news to him and get him to think about it before he gets angry. He always said I was the emotional one, anyway." He touched his finger to his sister's nose.
"But *you* have to handle the folks, kiddo. And I don't even want to be in the same county when you tell 'em!"
"Yeah, that'll be interesting, all right," Charly admitted. "We'll have it planned out by then -- I hope." She didn't ask Frank not to say anything to anyone else because it wasn't necessary.
As it turned out, when we went to talk to Mr. and Mrs. Chambers the afternoon their daughter graduated from the University of California with High Honors, I discovered they were much more astute than either Charly or I had given them credit for. (Well, Charly and her brothers had to have inherited their brains from someone, after all.) They'd heard from a mutual acquaintance that Charly seemed to have a steady romantic interest. They knew she was still living in the dorm and they trusted her uncommon common sense, so they made a conscious decision not to worry.
Then something or other that Frank or Chris had said that winter caused them to think back, and to wonder about my departure from town two months after Charly's. That had alarmed them, so they'd bluntly asked their sons what was going on with their sister. The guys had broken down and explained to them, as best they could, that Charly really was in love with an older man. Serious, twenty-one-year-old love. The man in question was just as much in love with her. And the two of them were being as cautious and forethoughtful as they could think to be.
Well, at least Charly's folks knew me and had -- at least to that point -- a good opinion of me, so they decided, after much late-night discussion, to reserve judgment and not to say anything to their daughter. I was frankly amazed at their level of confidence in their progeny.
So, as they sat on a bench in a hillside grove of redwoods that afternoon, and Charly was tense and I was nearly sick to my stomach with apprehension, her parents just looked at each other and smiled. I think they actually enjoyed our discomfort -- in justified retribution for their nights of worry, I have to admit.
And when Charly carefully explained to them her feelings for me -- omitting the age at which she had first felt those feelings -- the now-elderly couple nodded in unsurprised satisfaction. Her father looked up at me with a rather piercing gaze.
"And do you feel the same way about Charlene, young man?" It was so long since anyone had called me that, I was too startled to reply for a moment. When I replied that I was very much in love with their daughter, he smiled and said, "I'm glad you both had the sense not to do anything precipitous. Charlene's mother and I were married in college, you know. Neither of us would change that now, but it did make things a bit more difficult for awhile." And he shook my hand and hugged his daughter, and my relief was so profound I nearly fainted.
It was a very small ceremony in a Unitarian Church in Berkeley: Just Chris and Frank (as ushers, at their own insistence) and Charly's parents, and a few of our own close friends. The bride didn't go in for lavish bridal gowns, considering them a pointless extravagance, but she was heartbreakingly beautiful in a white lace cocktail-style dress and a veil. I could barely get through the vows, the lump in my throat was so large. Frank said afterward that the expression on my face resolved any lingering doubts he might have had about my sincerity.
But I proved my sincerity to Charly that night. Beyond question. We have a small, comfortable place near campus now, since Charly is well into a Ph.D. program in an area of mathematics I don't even pretend to understand more than superficially. I have a couple of comp sci grad students working for me part-time, and several independent software contractors, too, and business is . . . well, perhaps not "booming," I'm not sure I would want to deal with *that* -- but certainly very adequate, and extremely satisfying.
We've also begun browsing around the Bay Area for a house. One with a small yard.
--- END ---
Copyright 1994 by Michael K. Smith. Copies may be made and posted elsewhere for personal enjoyment, but all commercial rights are reserved.