The Neallys Part 7: Kate Pugh

“What can you tell me about Simon Douglas?”

“Hello to you too Kate.” This was Eileen Neally.

“Sorry. He just left a voicemail for me and you went out with him before Tom.” Kate Pugh.

“Actually, I dated both of them at the same time but chose Tom. I might have chosen Simon if Tom didn’t come along at the right time.”

“You’re such a romantic. But now about me. I spoke to him for a long while at your wedding. His message said he wanted to take me to an opening at the Guggenheim. I know nothing of modern—”

“Nor does he. And he freely admits it. He uses openings as an excuse to ask someone for a date. Our first date was an opening in Greenwich and we spent half the time trying to figure whether the things were upside down. No. He’s a real country landscape and boats-on-the-Sound kind of person. I liked him a lot. I knew him years ago when we worked together at the same bank. He then made a fortune on Wall Street with a hedge fund. He’s loaded and lives in Greenwich, but he’s really not a Greenwich kind of guy.”

“So should I call him back?”

“You should definitely call him back. Have you gone on many dates since you moved into the City?”

Kate, then Kate “Nelson,” left California to follow her daughter, Suzanne, who was married to Eileen’s daughter, Kerry. She had an apartment on the Upper West Side, in the 90s off Riverside Drive, and after working at a place she did not like had gotten enough in her divorce settlement—she was officially divorced about two months before—so that she could devote herself to working for the Episcopal Church in New York. She’d been a life-long, conservative Catholic until she reevaluated her faith and her church in light of her daughter. Her ex, William Nelson, did not make the same adjustment. Which was why he was divorced civilly—neither, of course, was divorced in the eyes-of-the-Church—and living alone in his big house in Mill Valley, California.

“People at the Church set me up every once in a while and of course Kerry and Suzanne will never give up, but it’s always been one-and-done.”

“With Simon. Did you ever—?”

“A lady doesn’t kiss and tell. You know that. Seriously. No, we never did. And he never pushed. I was never ready.”

“But sometimes I just want to sleep with someone.”

“Has there—?”

“No. William was and is my one and only. How pathetic is that?”

“Between us, Kate, if you want to go to bed with someone you’ll have no problem. Hell, if I were into straight, older women, I’d take you to bed this afternoon.”

“You Neally women do have a thing for us Nelson girls.”

“Stop. Listen, I just don’t know if you should do something like that to Simon too quickly. Would he do it? I’m sure he would. But I think he’s worth saving for the long term. To see what happens. But for your sanity, go to bed with the next one. Just enjoy sex. No-questions-asked/no-feelings-hurt sex.”

Which is how Kate Pugh came to be on Simon Douglas’s arm at the Guggenheim opening. It does not explain, however, how Simon Douglas came to be in Kate Pugh’s bed that evening.

Kate met Simon at Eileen’s wedding. Eileen, as noted, dated Simon before she fell for Tom Doyle. They got married, and that is how Kate met Simon. Neither had a “plus-one.” Kate was estranged from her husband, William. Simon had a series of lackluster relationships after Eileen told him that they had no future together, and he took it as well as could be expected, him having lost a woman for whom he’d pined for years. He thought enough of Eileen to be pleased that she found Tom.

He was not despondent. Far from it. He was an elder at his hedge fund and was becoming involved in several charitable projects in southern Connecticut and around New York City. He was wealthy, but not wealthy enough to have a foundation. He was generous with his money and generous with his time. When he got the invitation to the Guggenheim opening, he remembered that first date with Eileen and thoughts of Eileen led to thoughts of Kate and the nice conversation they had at Eileen’s wedding and that led to his leaving a voicemail for Kate that asked her to the opening.

The exhibit was as mystifying to Kate and Simon as the one in Greenwich had been to Eileen and Simon and again Simon had a wonderful time with his date, sipping champagne and nibbling on finger food. They walked to a restaurant on Madison Avenue where Simon made a reservation and afterward while the car, which would take Simon to Greenwich, headed through Central Park to Kate’s place off Riverside Drive—Eric, Kate’s son, had moved back to Yale—they found their hands touching and remaining that way. As they approached the apartment in the car, Kate asked if he’d like to stop in for a drink. It wasn’t actually Kate saying it. It was a part of Kate over which she had no control and it was something a moment before the right side of her brain had told her mouth: Do No Ask. It was like a finger pulling off a hot iron, done instinctively without the brain playing the least role in the act.

“You sure?”

She leaned over and kissed him. Her brain was sure, Eileen’s caution nowhere to be seen.

Simon signed off so that the driver was paid as if he drove to Greenwich and not simply across town. He followed Kate through the brownstone’s small lobby and up two flights of stairs. She fumbled with her keys before opening the door. The place was a mess—she’d spent too much time getting ready, and clothes and things were strewn about the apartment—but she didn’t care and she assumed Simon didn’t either.

When the door was closed, Kate grabbed Simon and pulled him to her. She’d had a fair share of goodnight kisses since moving to New York. This was not one of them. He was taken aback by her ferocity. She had him pushed against the door and her tongue was rifling through his mouth as her hands went beneath his jacket, seeking to tear his shirt from his trousers.

His arms were behind her back as he pulled her even closer. Now his tongue was spending as much time in her mouth as hers was in his, back-and-forth volleying  until they needed to come up for air.

She backed off.

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me.”

Simon looked her in the eyes and gently ran two fingers of his right hand up and down her left cheek.

“I’m not. You are so beautiful.” He leaned in to her and his lips gently touched hers and he backed away.

They walked into the living room and Kate quickly moved a stack of magazines to the floor next to the sofa. They sat on it.

“I need to tell you something. I’ve only made love to one man in my life. My ex. I don’t—”

“Kate. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to make love to you, but if you’re not read—”

“I spoke to Eileen about you.”

“I thought you might.”

“After you left your voicemail. She said you and she . . . never did anything. She warned me that if I did it too soon with you I might blow the chance to, you know, fall in love with you.”

His eyes went big.

“It’s what she said. I’ve been with you twice and the first time was at a wedding and everyone’s a romantic at a wedding. I’m just thinking out loud here. All I’m saying is that if we make love I don’t want it to keep us from seeing whether we go anywhere. But we’re both too old to pass up the opportunity to fuck someone we really want to fuck, and I really want you to fuck me.”

If the word “fuck” had passed her lips before, she couldn’t recall. Even when she had sex with William, she never allowed herself to let go. She enjoyed it plenty, as did he, but she was restrained in how she’d express the pleasure that he gave her when he was in her. She moaned, but never let out a battery of expletives. Now, though, she felt the primal need to be fucked by a man she very much liked.

“Tell you what,” Simon said, “Let’s just sleep together to get it out of both of our systems. We’ll play it by ear. I didn’t come, um, prepared. I’m not a high-school kid who carries condoms in his wallet.”

“The Duane Reade’s open all night.”

“Let’s go there to get a toothbrush.”

And they got more than a toothbrush at Duane Reade. As they walked back, they realized they were holding hands and she put an arm through one of his. While they waited for a light to change to cross 94th Street, he whispered to her. “This is 100% in your hands,” and kissed her neck just as the light changed.

Much as she’d wanted him when they entered the apartment, she was now in heat for him and wondered whether there was an alley before she got to her brownstone where she could pull him, jack up her dress, and let him have her against a wall, her panties off and her legs straddling him as she impaled herself on him. It was a thought she’d never had before but one that suddenly materialized as they walked and her eyes scanned for such an alley.

There was none, and she quickened her pace. She had her keys out well before they got to her building and she was ready as they reached her apartment door. In a moment they were in and she was not wasting time kissing him in the foyer. She felt a need she’d never before imagined. And pulled him into her bedroom, tossing to the floor the dresses she’d tried but rejected and had left on the bed. She closed the blinds.

She sat on the bed and reached under her dress to pull her panties off as Simon was undoing his tie and unbuttoning his shirt. The decision had been taken for both of them as they walked back and, truth be told, if Kate had found an alley Simon would have been more than willing and, he hoped, able to impale her against a wall oblivious to the world around them. So by the time he was standing in her bedroom watching her rip her panties off and throwing them on the floor, he was hard and dripping.

He pushed his shoes off and undid his pants and took them, his briefs, and his socks off. Neither wanted any preliminaries. Kate had flung her own shoes somewhere and had pulled her dress over her hips and was now lying half-naked in the middle of her bed. She ran her fingers through her inner folds beneath her slightly-trimmed pubic hair, inviting him.

Simon grabbed the Duane Reade bag, sending the toothbrush somewhere too, and ripped open the box and opened a condom and it was quickly on him. The spontaneity of what was happening was a first for them both.

“Fuck the dress. Get in me.” And with that invitation Simon was on the bed. He ran his own finger through Kate’s folds and was amazed at how damp she was. “I’m ready, and I can see you are too, so fuck me, Simon, fucking fuck me.”

He needed no more encouragement and soon he entered her and she felt a moment of fulfillment, and fillment if there is such a word, as he slowly leaned until their pelvises touched and she was fully impaled. He held himself there as he looked down on her. She gave him a sweet smile, an impassioned smile that this was sex but was something else, something more. Holding the gaze, he began to pull himself out and then slowly push back in. The only sounds above the traffic noises that seemed far away being their enhanced breathing, a squish from the condom gliding through her dampness, and the creak of a mattress getting a workout.

“Faster please.”

Kate raised her knees, her feet flat on the bed, and it allowed Simon to penetrate even deeper. He increased his tempo. He had always been a lover who concentrated on the woman he was fucking more than he did on himself and so had no concerns about coming too soon. Moans competed with the pair’s trying to catch their breaths as they increased their efforts. Simon moved his elbows so he could lower his head to Kate’s and as he approached, her mouth opened and her tongue emerged in an attempt to pull Simon’s mouth and Simon’s tongue into her.

All was bedlam at their hips as they struggled to breathe, a slapping sound arising as their bodies crashed together, Kate now animated in shoving herself up to meet Simon’s thrusts. He reached around and grabbed her ass cheeks and pounded her until she pushed his chest away so she could explode.

It had never been like this. Kate’s eyes roamed up and she was gone. She did not know how long it lasted and cared less.

Simon slowed his pace so she could recover and then he pulled out and rolled onto his back next to her. Kate’s dress was now damp from her sweat, and more than a little of his, but she didn’t care. It was expensive, but if it were ruined it was well worth it.

After she finally caught her breath, she looked at her lover. “My lover.” It was a pleasant if novel thought to her. At that moment she did not care whether anything happened with this man beyond pure sex because it was one of the purest physical experiences of her life. She saw a stupid smile on Simon’s face. How pleased he was about making her feel the way she felt.

She realized he hadn’t come. His dick was still hard, pointing at the ceiling, with him lightly rubbing it, condom and all. She got off the bed, but his panicked moment shifted when she turned to face him and reached around her back to unzip her dress and after it fell to the floor she stood there in only a simple white-lace bra. She undid the clasp in the front and spread it open and then off so she could display her breasts. This too was above-and-beyond what she’d ever done with William. He was not a Puritan, although they were both conservative Catholics. And after two children and several miscarriages she was on the pill as a medical dispensation, though she’d stopped taking it when she moved to New York. They had sex on a fairly regular basis and they both enjoyed it. William even liked her to take control now and then but he suppressed his submissive side because it did not jibe with what he thought he was supposed to be. And Kate allowed him to assert himself in bed when he wanted to. The sex was good enough. She thought. But she would come to realize that it was barely sex and while it may have been “good enough” for the woman she was, it would never be good enough for the woman she had become in those minutes in which Simon was inside her.

Whether it led to something more was not something Kate was thinking at that moment. No, it was that Simon was so pleased with himself for having satisfied her—and there was no doubt about her being satisfied—and did not care whether he came. Now she was naked, standing by the bed and seeing how much he admired the sight of her. If his dick had softened at all, it was again rock hard. She reached for it and removed his condom, a first for her. “Tie it and put it on the table,” he instructed and after she did, she returned.

He lay naked on the bed. He was in good shape, with a slight paunch, but nowhere near the one proudly displayed by some middle-aged, and even some younger, men on Wall Street. He cared not that he was on full display for her. And she was awed by him. Her eyes canvassed his body and then she focused on his naked dick. It was beautiful. She’d never really looked at William. Maybe it too was beautiful, but she didn’t care about that in the least.

Kate put her knees between his legs on the bed and then both her hands on the shaft. She leaned down and kissed the tip, swirling her tongue around the head and then leaned back. With her right hand she began to pump it, encouraged by a “just like that” from her lover. Her left hand began to explore. It ran down one thigh and up the other. She paused before getting the courage to reach under and caress his balls, eliciting an “oh my God” from Simon. Increasing the pace of her pumping and tightening her grip on his balls, she turned to him and smiled. “Come for me, Simon. Come for me.”

And their eyes met. He exploded, his cum spurting up to his chest as she tried to aim it. Not at him, per se. More to keep it off the sheets. His ass bounced up and down as she kept pumping, now with both hands, until he was spent. “Stop. Please stop.” And she did.

Kate ran to get a towel for Simon to use to clean up, and Simon enjoyed the vision of her shaking ass as she left the room. Kate hadn’t given a thought to his being able to see her naked. Nor was she bothered about walking back into the room wearing nothing but the dampened towel she carried, and Simon savored the breasts that she displayed and even more the pubic hair she made no effort to cover.

She sat on the bed as he ran the towel up and across his chest to clean himself off. Suddenly she rose and came back with two glasses of water, this time wearing a robe.

“I had to go through the living room so I thought some covering up was in order.” She handed him a glass and then ran a finger down his chest to his navel and almost to his dick before heading back up and circling each of his nipples.

“That was nice.”

“If that was just nice, I’d hate to see what more-than-nice feels like.”

“Be a good boy and maybe you’ll find out one of these days.”

“Is that a promise?”

“Maybe it’s a threat.” She leaned down and kissed him lightly.

As she withdrew her head, he reached for her cheek and, now serious, said, “That was perfect. I’ve never known perfect before.” She leaned back down and now the kiss involved their tongues as their breaths deepened until she pulled back.

“Let’s not spill this water.” With a smile, she said, “I’m afraid I don’t have a robe for you. You’ll have to put your suit back on.” She paused as he got up. One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. She was thinking.

“If you’d like, we can take a shower together before you do.”

“If I’d like?” He circled the bed and she got up when he got to her side.

In truth, the bathroom didn’t have much of a shower. She didn’t know if it could fit two, but she was determined to find out. She turned on the water to allow it to heat up and he said he had to pee so she excused herself. When he flushed and opened the door, the shower was steaming, so he turned the heat down and when it was warm and no longer hot, they got in together. There was enough room for some maneuvering but not by much.

He turned her away from him and soaped her back, running his hands down until he lightly shook the globes of her wonderful ass, so recently admired from afar. He didn’t dare rub her crack, and she was relieved that he didn’t.

After rinsing her back off, “Turn.” She stood before him and he stepped back and soaped one and then the other breast, twisting her nipples as his hands made wide circles. Now it was his turn to stop at the navel and return up, not without a glance at her pussy. She held her breath as he headed down, unsure of whether she wanted him to touch her there.

He handed her the soap and turned. She rubbed his shoulders. “You are awfully tight. We’ll have to take care of that,” and she leaned in to give a peck on his right shoulder. She ran the soap down his back, giving a slight slap to each of his ass cheeks, a man’s ass, not as bouncy as hers. She again paused. This time, with a slight breath, she ordered him to turn. He was rock hard. She wasted no time. She soaped up her hands and put them both on him, and she relished his moan. His hands gently on her hips.

She rubbed up and down the shaft and then reached his balls. He separated his legs and closed his eyes. This was so not fair, her being able to do this to him. She rinsed him off and regretted how small the shower was. When they stepped out, onto the bathroom’s tiled floor, she knelt on a towel in front of him and put him in her mouth. She’d done that only a few times with William, when he was in a not-too-Catholic mood. That was because he wanted it. This time she didn’t care that Simon wanted it. She wanted him in her mouth. She wanted to feel him respond viscerally to what she was doing. She had no clear idea of how she was to suck him, and she moved based upon his reaction. She felt his hands at the back of her head, lightly, and heard his “fuck, fuck, fuck” as she put her hands on his ass and pulled him closer. She could not get him completely in her mouth, but neither of them cared. It was not long until Simon said “I’m coming” and pulled himself out, turning as he spurted his cum onto the bathroom floor.

Kate watched in amazement as he did. It was the most primal sight she’d ever witnessed and that she had been its cause delighted her. She had made this beautiful man with his beautiful dick come. She gave little thought to it until she was on her knees and then she savored the taste of him, the feel of a dick full of life and heat and passion.

He reached for a towel and cleaned up the mess he made on the floor. He would not be stopped now. He could never have dreamed of what just happened to him, entirely as this woman wished. When she got up the pair toweled themselves off, lust joining the smell of cum in the small bathroom. Neither gave a shit that they were naked. Let the world see! He led her into the bedroom and she was on her back and he was above her, kneeling as she had, between her obscenely spread legs. She’d never been eaten. That was something too far for William, even in a not-too-Catholic mood. For Simon, it was something he enjoyed perhaps more than anything, feeling a woman respond to his tongue and his lips and his teeth. But much as he enjoyed eating other women, that was nothing compared to the pleasure he had as his tongue made contact with Kate’s labia. She’d just showered, but her musk soon appeared in her arousal. She lay back, her eyes closed, her arms lying inert on the bed as she floated away, again experiencing something she could not have imagined just two hours earlier. As she adored his perfect dick, he adored her perfect pussy.

Kate was soon overwhelmed, physically and mentally. He sucked on her clit with two fingers in her, “Oh my fucking God, Simon, oh my fucking God” as her body shuttered and her ass bounced up and down on her bed. She pushed his head away when she was spent. She almost hated the satisfied look he had when she looked at him as he moved to lie next to her. She hoped it was a look she’d see again. She was that smitten with him, even while realizing she was acting like a schoolgirl.

“Now you can put your suit on again” she laughed as he got up to do that. “But I want you to stay.”

“I’d like that.”

“I’m a little hungry. I think I can pull something together for a snack” and, noticing his lascivious smile, said, “you are a bad boy,” which, of course, only widened his grin.

He in his suit pants and untucked dress-shirt and she in her robe, they pulled things together for a couple of sandwiches and milk and sat to watch the TV as they ate. Watching and not talking was what they needed.

Right after ten, Kate heard a message coming in.

{Eileen: How did it go?}

“It’s Eileen. I’ll take it in the kitchen.”

“Make her feel bad about settling for that bank flunky.”

{Kate: He’s still here.}

{Eileen: Damn. Did you ???????}

{Kate: I don’t kiss and tell.}

{Kate: But it was spectacular.}

{Eileen: WOW! Can we talk or tomorrow?}

{Kate: Tomorrow. He’s staying the night.}

{Eileen: You slut!}

{Kate: You had your chance. I hope Tom was worth it.}

{Eileen: He is. Believe me. Sleep well. Love you.}

{Kate: And me you.}

{Kate: Don’t tell the girls.}

{Eileen: My lips are sealed.}

{Eileen: BTW. How are his lips?}

{Kate: ALL of my lips have nothing but good things to say about his. Night.}

There wasn’t much Eileen could say to that. So after staring at the last message for a minute, she responded.

{Eileen: I’m happy for you. I do love you.}

{Kate: Thanks. And me you. G’Night.}

And after an hour or so of TV, they tracked down where Simon’s toothbrush had been thrown, got ready for bed—Kate tracked down own of Eric’s t-shirts for Simon to wear with his briefs—and then slept together, both falling asleep pretty quickly notwithstanding how exciting each found it to be in bed with the other.

Saturday

Suzanne and Kerry drove down and found a parking spot on West 89th Street after circling the block only a couple of times. It was Saturday, perhaps thirty-six hours since Simon entered Kate. On Friday morning, a car picked him up early so he could get home, shower—the thought of doing it alone suddenly troubling—and get into the office by nine. They kissed as he left the apartment. He left it for her to ask about getting together again. And when she did, he jumped at the chance, and he said he’d meet her for brunch on Sunday and maybe they could spend the afternoon together “outside.”

Kate told Suzanne and Kerry on the phone about her evening with Simon, without naming him, in broad strokes—”he spent the night and that’s all I’ll say”—and the girls were primed for details. Kate buzzed them in and they dumped some bags in the kitchen and plopped on the sofa and waited.

Kate sat across from them. “OK girls. What do you know about Simon Douglas?”

Kerry looked at Suze and back at her mother-in-law.

“You mean the guy my Mom went out with before she ended up with Tom?”

“That’s the one. I’ve spoken to your Mom about him. I want your opinion.”

Kerry said, “I met him when he first went out with Mom. I liked him. If it weren’t for him, I don’t know whether she would have responded when Tom approached her. She was so in her shell. I mean, I didn’t see much of him. Mom just wanted to see what my first impression was and I liked him.”

After thanking Kerry, Kate told the pair that she had a very nice evening with him and that he stayed the night, refusing to give any further details, ignoring their pleas. Although, frankly, Suzanne did not want to know.

“We’re not saying that he is not the one. Just that you might want to do a bit of exploration before you dive in.”

There was some irony in Suzanne saying this. She had one lover in her life and was sitting next to her on Kate’s sofa. And her wife had only one woman lover, and that was Suzanne. Kate told them how wonderful the spontaneous sex had been with Simon, and Suzanne and Kerry got her to admit that he was only the second man—”person,” she made clear—to whom she’d ever made love.

“Yeah, he might be it. I liked him when I met him briefly before Mom chose Tom. And more importantly, Mom really liked him too.”

“She told me. In fact, she said not to go all the way with him because I might blow a chance for something long term and that Simon was one worth playing the long game for.”

“So why did you have sex on the first—”

“It just happened. I made it happen and I don’t regret it.”

“Mother. You have to decide whether it was sex with a man or sex with this man.”

After Kate said she needed to think about it, the three headed out to one of their haunts on Broadway for brunch and the subject was not again broached, though it was paramount in all three of their minds.

Sunday

Kate spent the next afternoon with Simon. He drove down. The couple walked to and across Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum. This was more their style than was the Guggenheim, and they wandered from gallery to gallery engaging in a conversation that except for a few stutters had all the earmarks of two long-time friends enjoying a Sunday afternoon in the Park.

They were both tired by the time they left the Museum, but Kate insisted on walking back to her apartment after they got some coffee at a place on Madison Avenue. They rested on two of the stools there, watching the people pass by and enjoying each other’s company as they got their second winds. Eileen was right. Simon had a way with women, and to Kate, in particular, their comfort was in part the product of what they had done to and for each other on Thursday night.

After throwing their cups away, they headed west. Fall was in the air, and it started to get chilly so they quickened their pace. When they got to her apartment building, she very much wanted to ask him up and he very much wanted to be asked up. But she had promised the kids to ease off and after a “thank you, Simon, I had a wonderful time” and a kiss on the cheek, he watched her enter the building. Alone.

Until that moment, Simon was certain that he’d shortly be in her bed. As he walked to the garage where he’d parked, he replayed the day. He’d not put a foot wrong. His was not a calculated performance but one that was natural and he thought that the natural result would be holding her again. He’d lost Eileen to Tom and he feared losing Kate to . . . another man who was not him.

He was in a foul mood when he got back to his big house in Greenwich. As he sat with a Scotch on his deck overlooking the changing leaves, he continued his replay. He enjoyed every mundane second. But he was sitting on his deck alone except for Scotch and a great view.

His phone rang. He stared at it for a moment before answering.

“I need to explain.”

“No need to explain, Kate. I had a great time and I hope we can do it again.”

“I wanted you to come upstairs with me. Can we just talk for a few minutes?”

And for the next thirty minutes or so, Kate filled in details of her life. She ended by telling him that sex with him was, next to the births of her two children, the most satisfying physical thing she’d ever done and she knew that it would be as good the second and, she hoped, the thousandth time with him.

“But I promised my girls that tempted as I was—am—I wouldn’t jump too soon. That’s what I need you to know. I desperately wanted you and I swear if you were here right now—no, don’t get in your car—I couldn’t resist. But I had to will myself to step back. I just want you to know that.”

Simon thanked her. She hoped he understood.

“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this call. I couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong.”

“Now you know that you didn’t. It’s me. Look, finish your drink.” He’d gotten up for a refill while they spoke. “Let’s speak in a couple of days, OK?”

“OK. I had a great time.”

“So did I.”

And with that Simon’s great view from his deck was infinitely brighter.

Thursday

Kate kept her word to Suzanne and Kerry. On Monday she called someone with whom she’d worked before the settlement from William allowed her to switch to working with the Episcopal Church. He was a widower and, she assumed, still single. With the girls’ encouragement, she got the nerve to dial his number and he, of course, remembered her and, of course, would like to meet her for drinks on Thursday night.

His name was Martin Conroy and he was about Kate’s age. His wife had died of breast cancer shortly before Kate met him. He was pleasant, intelligent, and attractive and was the first person who came to Kate’s mind when she thought of dating again. But she had not done anything about him before Simon’s voicemail.

His pleasantness, intelligence, and attractiveness were all there when they sat at a small table at a restaurant a few blocks from Kate’s apartment. Things flowed well, so they stayed for dinner. It was a perfectly marvelous evening for both. They were relaxed and neither flinched at the occasional touching that went on between them. Reaching for bread. Passing the wine. Walking to the door.

Martin walked Kate to her building. With each step, both were thinking about sex as their shoe strikes echoed among the brownstones they passed. When they were two or three brownstones away from Kate’s, she decided she wanted this man to fuck her. Had she turned into a slut? She’d slept with Simon on their first real date, with her initiating it. Now she wanted to sleep with Martin on their first. During that walk, she didn’t care. She wanted this man to be inside her. She wanted to feel what she’d felt with Simon. But, were she honest, she wanted to know if Simon was special to her.

As they reached the stoop, she asked whether he’d like to come up. He, of course, said yes. Martin had slept with several women since his wife died, but none led anywhere. Perhaps he was still seeking a duplicate of his dead wife, while knowing there could be no such thing. Perhaps he knew she was irreplaceable so that he could enjoy the non-emotional side of dating with her ghost kept in a special compartment of his heart, part of his irreplaceable permanent-collection.

Whatever it was, it did not hinder his ability to enjoy making love to a woman.

As soon as they were in the apartment, Martin was upon her. His mouth hit hers hard and his tongue invaded her as his hands grabbed her ass. He pushed her against the wall and him against her so she could feel his erection. She tried to return the kiss, but he would not let her. He would be making love to her. She felt him take her right hand and lead it to his crotch as proof of either his desire for her or of how desirable he was to her. Perhaps more the latter.

It was hard through his trousers. Kate could almost feel it pulse through the material. She wanted to touch it and she wanted it to be inside her. As much as he wanted to fuck her, she wanted him to fuck her. He reached behind her back and unzipped her dress, stepping back so she could remove it. She stood in her lingerie and shoes in the foyer.

“I need water. Can I get you some?”

“Thanks.”

He stepped aside so she could pass to her kitchen, and she was conscious of walking across her apartment in just her lingerie. It felt awkward. That he was staring at her ass as she walked felt awkward. She reached into the cabinet and took two glasses down, letting the water run for a minute to get cold and then filling them. “Ice?” she asked over her shoulder. “Sure.”

When Kate turned to head back, she saw that Martin had closed the curtains in the living room and removed his shirt, and she knew he was posing for her. He was not in bad shape for a man in his late forties or early fifties, but his paunch was noticeable. She could just catch the outline of his erection, not quite as hard as it had been. She handed him his glass, and they both took long sips. After the glasses were put down on a table in the living room, he reached to her. Kate was aroused and now she ran her hand to his crotch voluntarily and felt him harden.

She undid his belt and unsnapped his trousers and . . . stopped. She took a step back.

“I’m sorry. I’m just not ready.”

“What do you mean ‘not ready’? Why’d you bring me up here?”

“I thought—”

“We can slow it down if you want.” His arms reached to her.

“No, I’m sorry. I’m just not ready.”

“Come on, Kate. I can tell you want me and you can see that I want you.”

“I know I ‘want’ you but I also don’t, if that makes any sense.”

He grabbed his things and began to get dressed.

“I thought we could have something. You brought me up. I just can’t figure out what you want. If you do, and it’s me, call.”

He finished dressing and she, standing in place, watched him leave. As he opened the door he turned and said, “Well goodnight then. It was . . . interesting.”

Before he’d left the building, Kate was on the phone to Eileen, explaining what happened and trying to justify what she knew was a pretty shitty thing to do. And Eileen explained to her friend that if she didn’t want to do it, it would have been pretty shitty to have done it.  

“Look. I know I told you just to get laid, no-strings, but you’re not wired that way. I’m not either, truth be told. I guess the lesson is that if you want to do it, it’s because of a connection. It’s not just sex for you. That’s probably a good thing, but I know it may not feel that way now.”

“Can I call him now?”

Eileen waited a breath or two.

“You could do worse. Far worse. Call him.”

A minute later, she was on the phone to Simon.

“Simon, this is Kate. What are you doing Saturday?”

“Wow. I’ve nothing planned. What do you have in mind?”

“I want to take you for a drive.”

“Do you have a car?”

“My daughter has an extra. I’ll pick it up and then head up to Greenwich.”

“No you won’t. I’ll drive down and pick you up and we can go from there.”

“Ten o’clock. I’ll pack a picnic lunch. You remember where I live right?”

Saturday

The car that double-parked in front of Kate’s apartment—an address burned into his soul—shortly before ten on Saturday was a cut above the aged Camry that Kate planned to use. It was an Aston Martin DB11 convertible, dark blue with a dark-tan interior. It was one of Simon’s few indulgences. He rushed to help her with two Zabar’s bags and put them in the back seat. It was warm enough, just, to have the top down and he handed her a broad-brimmed hat with a chin strap. She also carried a sweater, as he suggested. Soon they were out of Manhattan and on the parkway into Westchester and the nearby country to the north.

They didn’t speak much. For each, it was enough to be next to the other, their hands occasionally touching on the gear shift as the aired whizzed over their heads. About an hour north, they headed west to a park along the Hudson that Kate discovered online. They found a parking spot, and Simon removed the blanket from the trunk and a bottle of white wine that he’d stowed in the back seat and after handing them to Kate he took the bags, which were filled with cheeses and crackers and an Italian Hero and tomato-and-mozzarella on a baguette. Plus several cupcakes, with both vanilla and chocolate cake because Kate did not know which Simon preferred. She’d also put silverware, glasses, and napkins in the bags. The Zabar’s logo branded them as city-folk to the others scattered about.

Simon led Kate to an open area of grass that had a view across the river and to West Point on its western bank, high above a palisade, its large, stone buildings like sentinels. She spread the blanket and they sat and spread the food and wine out between them. Simon told Kate more of his background, about his brief marriage when he was in his twenties, including how they both quickly realized it was a mistake. How he liked the semi-retired life and felt he’d paid his dues to enjoy it but was focused on settling down with someone. He confessed to being devastated for having lost Eileen. Something he’d never admitted to anyone.

For her part, Kate told of also becoming free and seeking to again settle down with someone she could love. It was quite intimate for the two, and after eating they were lying back on the blanket with their thoughts and their wine.

“Do you believe in God?” She had to ask.

Simon paused. It wasn’t something he gave much thought to.

“I was sort of raised Catholic, but now I’m agnostic about it.”

“Religion is very important to me. I want you to know that off the bat. It’s what led to my divorce.”

Simon raised himself to look at her. He reached and gave her arm a rub.

“It was about Suzanne, my daughter. Long story short, she came out as gay, I initially tried to ‘save’ her then she saved me. Choosing between my Church and my daughter was easy. I saw God differently and became an Episcopalian.”

“Wait. You haven’t always been an Episcopalian?”

“Roman Catholic all the way. My husband, my ex, couldn’t adapt. It’s why I’m divorced. Not in the eyes of the Church, of course.”

Simon lay back down. Now she got up on one of her elbow and looked over at him.

“Without a church or a belief in God, what about your spirit?”

He sat up and they sat opposite one another, ignoring the passersby.

“There may be a God. I just don’t believe in an active one. I see cruelty and can’t believe that a loving God would inflict that on people. Especially children. Or like the one you ex seems to believe in.”

“Suzanne has made clear that she’ll welcome him back if he accepts her and who she is.”

“Yet he hasn’t. Who’s the better Christian? I guess I agree with you. What kind of God would do that to a family? But I just go day-to-day, trying to be kind and considerate to others. If that’s spirituality, I guess that makes me spiritual.”

“I like that answer. Let’s get going.”

And with that, the pair put their stuff in the Zabar’s bags—one to dispose of, one to keep—rolled up the blanket and headed back to the car. They were both tired and it was getting late so after Kate gave him a kiss on the cheek, Simon headed to Greenwich while she went to her apartment.

*          *          *

To be clear, Simon Douglas had not let grass grow underneath his feet after Eileen committed to Tom. He was still a very-eligible bachelor and semi-retired banker with a big house and fast car in Greenwich. He dated quite a few women. But he soon exhausted the supply of eligible ones, mostly divorcées, in and around town. He enjoyed dating and he enjoyed occasionally sleeping with women but through it all, he remained a very-eligible bachelor.

He was thrilled and disappointed when he got the invitation to Eileen’s wedding to Tom and when he saw them he was pleased. He didn’t know anyone he thought close enough to share the wedding so he went alone. Which was why he ended up spending some time with Kate Nelson. From her, he learned that she had some complicated backstory, but she didn’t divulge much beyond that she was separated from her husband in California and was thinking of getting a divorce since she moved to New York to be near her daughter, who was married to Eileen’s daughter. It sounded pretty complicated, but Simon’s head for figures helped him understand at least the broad strokes. The most important being that Kate was separated and contemplating divorce.

Simon filed that information away and memories of speaking to Kate popped into his head now and then. Somehow he heard—it might have been from someone at his firm who got it from someone at Eileen’s firm—that Kate had gotten that divorce and was a single woman living and working in Manhattan. After some internet sleuthing, he got her number and gave her a call. Which is where our story began.

Simon liked sex. He never initiated. He knew that dating was binary. Either it went somewhere or it didn’t. Most of the women he dated viewed things as he did. At some point during dinner, they’d decide whether they wanted simple sex with Simon or whether they hoped for something more. Sometimes it was neither. If they wanted simple sex, Simon was happy, and more than ready, to oblige. He was a sweet and tender lover and on more than one occasion what his date thought would be a one-night hookup turned into something more—thanks to Simon’s prowess and generosity in bed—and there were several women who Simon dated regularly with no expectations beyond a good evening in bed. If he and they were younger, they’d be known as “fuck buddies.”

Since breaking up with Eileen back in November 2017, Simon had one serious relationship. Sandra O’Neil was divorced and had gotten the short end of her divorce from her husband, who worked at a financial firm on Wall Street. They had two kids and lived in Greenwich. She got the big house and he bought a condo on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. She had primary custody of the kids, who were still in high school, and he had generous visitation rights.

The divorce, though, was not amicable. Sandra’s ex had been having an affair with a junior banker at his firm and its exposure risked torpedoing his career, insofar as in those pre-MeToo years such a thing could torpedo a man’s career on Wall Street. That risk, in fact, was what got Sandra as much as she got. She had left college to get married, and now worked as a secretary at a law firm in Greenwich. She enjoyed the work and the people at the firm. When the divorce was finally settled, her thoughts turned to meeting men.

She knew Simon from the Yacht Club while she was a member. They ran into each other on Greenwich Avenue and he ended up taking her to dinner. For the next three months, they dated regularly. In the end, though, and hard as they both tried, there was no passion between them. While on the surface neither seemed particularly passionate it burned beneath. They realized it was missing between them in the last of their many moments of intimacy at his place. Sandra said something was missing, and Simon agreed. They each got dressed and, after a kiss, she drove home. She remained, however, his closest friend and his confidant. They met for coffee in town on that Saturday between Simon’s first and second dates with Kate. She told him simply to follow his heart.

“It’s quaint, but you are a romantic. It’s why it didn’t work for us, much as I still love you. You need to feel something. If you feel it, go for it and you’re telling me that you feel something towards her. See what happens.”

Which was an endorsement of what Simon already knew. He valued hearing it from Sandra.

Kate was not so sure about him. After what happened with Martin, she still needed to know if Simon was special for her. When she caught the attention of Charlie Evans, recently divorced and living seven blocks south of her and with two children, both in college, she accepted his offer for a date on the Saturday after her picnic with Simon. She and Simon spoke several times during the week, always comfortably. And, of course, during the picnic. She didn’t mention Charlie, as she hadn’t mentioned Martin.

She met Charlie long before at their church. He was, he knew, a bit overweight and was balding. A lawyer by trade and a partner in a BigLaw firm in midtown, he had a self-deprecating air that was the opposite of William’s, Kate’s ex, a partner in a BigLaw firm in San Francisco. She and Charlie enjoyed going out for drinks on Saturday night on Broadway but it didn’t extend to dinner and they shared a kiss-goodnight that was nothing but a kiss-goodnight.

When Kate got home at about ten, she called Simon and they chatted about nothing for a half-hour or so before they wished each other goodnight. They both slept soundly.

Sunday

“It’s him.”

“What does that mean?”

“You told me to ask myself whether I enjoyed that night so much because it was Simon or because it was just a man.”

“And?”

“Because it was Simon. It’s not as though I haven’t dated men since I came to New York. Well, two others. I had a nice time last night with someone from Church but it went nowhere and we both knew it.”

“How about I drive down to see you? Tom’ll understand. Do you have anything planned with him?”

“I didn’t want to sound too eager when I spoke to him last night so—”

“You called him after your date? He must have been thrilled to hear from you.”

“He didn’t know about the date. But I was thrilled to hear him. I’d like you to come down.”

Eileen found a spot about ten minutes after she got to Kate’s neighborhood. She called up and waited for her friend on the stoop and the pair headed into Riverside Park. By then end of their heart-to-heart, Kate had Eileen’s endorsement.

A Hand-Written Letter

Kate and Simon spoke several times during the week. She confessed to having dated a couple of others but that, well, they didn’t work out. Simon was unsure how to take this bit of intel but figured that she wouldn’t be on the phone with him and wouldn’t be so anxious about getting together with him if those dates had gone anywhere. Thus he was more than happy to go into the City on Saturday. Fall had arrived. They’d have lunch and play things by ear.

Plans changed, though, on Wednesday. Kate’s roots were getting more established in New York, and she feared, or at least was concerned, that California was no longer part of her. She regretted being in touch with only a few people there. Just her sister Lizzie and Lizzie’s family and three or four friends from Mill Valley and her former Church. She tried to speak with Lizzie once a week and her friends every few weeks.

Her California life was “then” and her New York life was “now” and her New York life was bringing her satisfaction and happiness she’d not known out west.

A first crack appeared when she received a letter. It was in her mailbox in the lobby and the return address told her it was from her brother Edward. She’d not spoken to or heard from him in over a year. Once in her apartment, she put down the other mail and found a letter opener. She shook.

Kate,

This is a difficult letter for me to write. I was wrong. I acted without regard to the Christian spirit that we all shared. To love and honor God’s creations. It has weighed on me since I first learned of Suzanne’s situation and I now see that you had no choice but to do what you did and support her. I now realize that I too had no choice. Yet I made the wrong one.

I ask that you try to find in your heart the ability to forgive me. And that somehow Suzanne may someday forgive me as well.

I have told no one about this, not even Jennie, except for Lizzie, who encouraged me to write. I asked her not to mention to you our frequent conversations over recent weeks. It is my burden and I must undertake it myself.

I can only hope that you can forgive me and allow me to again be a part, however small, of your family. I love you and I love Suzanne. As the song goes, “I was blind, but now I see.”

Your loving brother who misses you both terribly,

Eddie

P.S. I realize that this letter may create a schism in the family. That cannot be helped, although I pray that it will be temporary. I would not be a man of faith if I failed to stand up for what I believe and I believe that I was wrong in my treatment of you and, especially, of Suzanne.

By the time she finished the letter, Kate was sitting on her sofa, a tear in her left eye. She looked at her watch. Although Lizzie was still at work she would speak to her. She dialed.

Lizzie told Kate that Eddie contacted her out of the blue about a month earlier. They’d spoken several times since. It was all very hush-hush, although Lizzie’s husband, Phil, knew about it. She thought Edward was sincere. That he, too, was coming around to thinking there was something wrong at the core of a religion that denied the humanity of a person whose orientation or whose body fell outside the standard male-female. In the end, he had a married niece—Suzanne—and he hated the thought of never seeing her again, or his own sister, and of never meeting his niece’s wife and his niece’s children.

Edward had two children and as far as he knew they, a son and a daughter, were straight. He realized that if they weren’t, neither would share that with him; they and all of the family in their generation understood what happened to their cousin. He would not allow his kids to be as lost to him as Suzanne was lost to William, as William had just thrown away his own daughter and, with it, his wife and his son. He knew how miserable William was, resigned to living the “right” life and carrying on, wandering around his otherwise empty five-bedroom in Mill Valley. Drinking too much when he came to the Pughs for holidays because he had nowhere else to go and had no one else who cared the slightest bit about him as a father or a brother.

He also knew that his children, even if straight, could, in the end, resent his role in the ostracization of Suzanne and their Aunt Kate.

Leaving California

“If you go to New York, think twice about whether you’re coming home.”

“You’re such a drama queen. I’m just going to see my sister and, I hope, my niece.”

“You know it’s more than that. You are endorsing what Suzanne did and what Kate did. You’re saying it’s OK, and we both know it’s not.”

“Keep it down or the kids will hear.”

“You don’t think they already know about all of this? Good thing they’re not like Suzanne.”

Both he and Jennie knew they wished their kids had half the sweetness and kindness and smarts of Suzanne but that was not what she was talking about and they both knew that too. Edward let it pass.

“Deciding to do this wasn’t easy.”

“Of course it was ‘easy.’ But having faith isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be hard. You think saints let themselves be burned at the stake because it was the ‘easy’ thing to—”

“Enough. You can continue to ostracize Kate and Suzanne. But I have news for you. I know from Lizzie. They. Don’t. Care. They have a new life there. They are happy there. We’re not having this conversation again. I’ll call you when I get there.”

Edward got in the car with a wave to his wife and headed to SFO for the trip to New York, trying to clear his head of yet another uncomfortable conversation with his wife and his siblings and his parents, a “Judas” reference never far from the surface.

JFK

“What’s he like?”

Kerry was driving with Suzanne to get Kate. They’d then head to JFK to pick up Uncle Eddie. Both girls endorsed Kate’s decision to say “yes” to his coming when she ran it by them.

“He’s a couple of years younger than my Mother and was more relaxed than Devlin, my other uncle, or my non-Lizzie Aunt, Debbie. Not as much as Lizzie, but if anyone would break from the fold about me it would be him.”

“What about your grandparents?”

“Not in a million years.”

Suzanne showed Kerry a picture of Edward before they left the house. He had a full head of dark-brown hair and looked to be in good shape. With a ready smile. She called Kate as they neared her apartment. She was coming out of the building when they pulled up. Kate sat in back and Kerry headed to the Triboro Bridge and then to the airport. They had plenty of time and Kate told Kerry about her brother. Edward’s flight was due in a bit after five and there was little traffic.

When Edward came into the arrivals terminal, Kerry stayed back as the other two went to him. After they hugged, he was introduced to her. She shook his hand but he broke off and gave her a hug and, stepping away, an “I’m very happy to meet you. Finally.” The quartet headed to short-term parking and headed into the City. Edward would stay in Eric’s room in the apartment.

They were in front of Kate’s building within the hour and Kerry found a place to park while the other three went inside. Nothing of substance was said on the drive and everyone felt somewhat uncomfortable. Kerry took the role as tour guide to ease the tension. When they were in the apartment, Edward put his luggage in Eric’s room. He changed while Kate got coffee. She and Suzanne were on the sofa when he entered the living room. Kate offered to leave the other two alone, but both the others insisted she stay. Edward looked to his niece.

“I am here because I was wrong and I am sorry. I can only speak for myself. But that’s all—”

“Uncle Edward. That’s all you need to say.”

Everyone knew she would say this. She told her mother when she endorsed the trip, her only requirement being unequivocal acceptance. The atmosphere turned light by the time Kerry came through the door after Kate buzzed her up. The girls headed home shortly thereafter, leaving Kate and Edward alone. They went to a small restaurant on Broadway, where Edward unwound and the two shared gossip.  

The next days passed quickly. Kate and Edward went to Sunday Services at Kate’s Church and stayed so that Kate could introduce him to members of the congregation. Edward’s initial awkwardness at being in an Episcopal Church soon faded. Kerry and Suzanne drove down in the early afternoon and the three New Yorkers gave their visitor a tour of Kate’s neighborhood and of Riverside Park before they had an early dinner at another small place on Broadway. Edward’s treat.

He told them that he’d spoken to Jennie, who, he said, seemed to have softened on the news of Edward’s reception. She did like and miss both Kate and Suzanne. Edward was grateful that he would not have to endure his wife’s wrath when he returned to California.

The balance of Edward’s visit was spent on his own wanderings. On Monday, he and Kate had dinner in her apartment to get re-acquainted. On Tuesday, his last evening, Kate decided to ask Simon to join them. Simon was surprised and pleased. The conversation was eased by drinks and wine and Simon regretted that Kate’s brother was staying at her place and that, ergo, he was not. But he had to settle for a chaste kiss before getting into a car to take him to his big, empty house in Greenwich.

Before Kate left for work on Wednesday—Edward had a noon flight—the two hugged. Again Edward expressed his regret for all that had happened.

Kate said, “If I could change, you all can.” She had told her story of understanding herself and her God and overcoming the restraints that the Church in which she was raised had imposed on her. She thought of herself as even more spiritual than she had been, that the simplicity of viewing things in one way had been replaced by the simplicity of viewing things differently, a way she understood was more consistent with how Christ Himself would. The humble, charitable Christ.

She and her brother had spoken about this on their first night alone and she then hit a nerve by asking how her God could condemn her perfect daughter for what she always and truly was. Edward didn’t know of any gay people. Or at least he didn’t know people who he knew to be gay. Until Suzanne. And now Kerry. It affected him in ways he hadn’t imagined. And it infuriated him. How could he have been so blind? So arrogant? His faith was supposed to provide certainty, but Kate told him that her renewed faith did that.

Whether Edward would act as a missionary to the Pughs with this message neither knew. As they said goodbye on Wednesday, though, both knew that Edward could not go back. To California, yes. But not to a faith that denied Suzanne. There’d be some rough time ahead for him in the Pugh clan.

Edward walked Kate to the subway stop at 96th and Broadway. They stepped to the side for a final hug, ignored by everyone racing for the express.

“Thank you for taking good care of me. I’ll be in touch.”

“I know.”

“And say goodbye to Suzanne and Kerry.”

“And Simon?”

“And Simon.” He lowered his voice. “I’ll deny saying it, but he seems like an upgrade.”

She asked that he not mention him to anyone; she was waiting to unveil their relationship, and he agreed. She smiled. “Have a good flight. Text or call that you got home safely.”

And with that, the two exchange kisses to the cheek and Kate hurried down the stairs to catch the express.

A car took Edward to JFK for his flight. It was a good one, and he had a long talk with Jennie when he got home.

*          *          *

Kate, too, felt a load off her shoulders. Edward understood. Would the others? Could the others? For her part, Suzanne hoped they would. She and Kerry had dinner in Bronxville with Mary and Betty on the Friday after Edward left. Mary, having been long gone by the time her brother, William, married Kate and only seeing them once, at Thanksgiving in 2010, had zero relationship with the Pughs. And what she’d heard she didn’t like. Cut from the same cloth as her brother. Children of a lesser god, the lot of them.

Still, she understood the strain it placed on Suzanne. And, now, Kate. Mary also hoped it worked out. She was “cautiously optimistic” that it would. She was not as forgiving as her niece.

That Friday night, Kate was lonely in the City. She’d seen Simon Tuesday, but that just made it worse because he got in the damn car and went to his house while she was stuck in her apartment with her brother. She was more than lonely. She was very, very horny.

She called Simon.

“I’m desperate to be with you and I hope you feel the same”—which he readily did—”and if you’ll let me I’ll be in Greenwich first thing”—which he said no to in favor of his picking her up first thing in the morning—”and I know we’re not kids but can we, um, help each other out over the phone?”

To Simon, of course, this was a no-brainer.

“Where are you?”

“I’m lying in bed in a nightgown, with nothing underneath.”

“Give me a sec,” and Kate waited, hearing Simon rush up the stairs, presumably ripping his clothes off on the way to his bedroom. Which, she realized, she’d yet to see.

“I’m back.”

“I don’t care if you’re back. Are you, um, hard?”

“Shit. I am now.”

“Naked?”

“With the shades down.”

“Oh, you naughty boy.”

“Shit, Kate, don’t tease.”

She ignored that. They put each other on speaker.

“I’m naked now and lying in the middle of the bed. Do you want to know what I’m doing?”

“I want to see what you’re doing, but I guess telling will have to do.”

“I’m running my fingers up and down my pussy. I’ve gotten very wet. You’ve gotten me very wet, you bad boy.”

“Stop. You’re going to make me explode.”

“Do you want me to stop?”

“Good God no.”

“Are you . . . sure you don’t want me to stop?”

“Jesus, Kate, don’t toy with me.”

“Are you using the Lord’s name in vain?”

“If you’re tempting me with a fucking apple just let me take a bite.”

At this point talk of the Bible was not helping Kate. But she was going along with the flow.

“Shit, Simon. What are you tempting me with? Eve’s the one who got to take a bite.”

“I’d love to be biting your tits.”

“Oh, so you like my . . . tits, do you?

“I love your tits. What are you doing?”

“I’d love to say I’m . . . rubbing my tits, but my fingers are running up . . . and down my—”

“Shit. Tell me you’re inside.”

“I’m inside. Thinking of your dick.”

“Do you want my dick inside you?”

“Always. Tell me you’re close.”

“I’m so fucking close.”

“Do you love me?”

“Of course I love you.”

“Shit. I’m coming.”

“Wait. Do you love me?”

Kate was breathless.

“Of course I love you, you fool”

“Fuuuuuuuuuck.”

After seconds of silence.

“Did you come?”

“I’m afraid I need to change my sheets.”

“Simon. You really are a bad boy.”

And that is the first time they told each other of their love.

“I meant it.”

“So did I. I have to go now.”

“But you’ve just come.”

“You are terrible. I’ll see you tomorrow. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight. My love.”

After each cleaned up, they slept very well.

Saturday

All of this was, of course, crazy. Kate barely knew the guy. Eileen, Suzanne, Kerry, Mary, and Betty were unanimous: SLOW DOWN. On cross-examination, though, each of them admitted that while they didn’t realize the person they married (or, in Betty’s case, the first woman she married) was “the One” almost immediately,  in retrospect they knew that was true. They each admitted that it was crazy for them as well and that they had no regrets. Suzanne and Kerry, of course, both did regret that they wasted all that time being stubborn about each other and so did Mary and Betty when Kate noted that they wasted twenty years being apart.

With her case rested and won, Kate put the it’s-too-soon worries aside. What happened happened and she was too old to waste a minute.

Simon was oblivious to all of the discussions that Kate was having in the prior days. He’d been introduced to Edward as Kate’s boyfriend but just what Kate thought that meant in her mind he couldn’t know. Frankly, much as the sex was real and spectacular, he didn’t dare think their relationship was where Kate thought it was. Simon was playing it by ear. As he had on that day when they walked back from the Metropolitan and she sent him away. It was only her soothing words as he sat on his deck that rousted him from a heretofore unknown agony.

He hoped Kate wasn’t still asleep when he sent her a text at eight, asking whether he could come into the City and when. She wasn’t asleep, as evidenced by his getting her text at 8:03:

{Kate: I’m up. Ready to go. I don’t have anything planned. We can play it by ear. When will you be here?}

{Simon: I’ll shower and shave. Be down ASAP. That OK??}

{Kate: Perfect. Text me when you’re leaving. How long you think it will take?}

{Simon: An hour or so. Shouldn’t be traffic.}

{Kate: Just let me know when you leave. I’ll see you.}

{Simon: Me too.}

Simon texted when he was leaving the house and called her—using the Volvo’s speaker—when he crossed into Manhattan. She buzzed him in at around ten and had coffee and some bagels with lox and cream cheese ready when he arrived. When done, they decided to go for a walk. No more. No less. They headed into Riverside Park, where Kate so often walked and thought. Kate put her right arm through Simon’s left and they headed down to the marina, stopping at a bench and looking across to New Jersey and up to the George Washington Bridge. And they talked.

Kate spoke more about Edward’s visit, how she hoped that it might provide some closure with her family, for herself and especially for Suzanne. She spoke of leaving William and that the welcome she received meant that she never looked back. But there remained an emptiness.

There was a bit of chill in the area especially with a northerly wind blowing across the water. The pair resumed their walk and found a café serving brunch on a side street west of Broadway and warmed up. There was a strange something between the two. Not tension. More anticipation.

They lingered a bit with their coffees till Kate asked Simon if he wanted to “see my sketches.” And soon they were in the foyer of her apartment kissing, but only briefly as they sort of danced their way into her bedroom. This time it was neat and tidy. Their undressing was simple, and after Kate pulled the blanket and top-sheet over, they were naked in the bed, on their sides and facing one another. Kate reached over and pulled the sheet and blanket over them again and was on her back. Simon remained on his side while they talked. The substance didn’t matter. The act of talking is what did.

“Are we going to, you know, do anything?”

In response, Simon moved fingers from Kate’s stomach to her pussy. In response to that, Kate lifted her right hand to grasp Simon’s dick. It wasn’t long before she was wet and he was hard and soon he was atop her and she was guiding him into her. Once in, he stopped, both feeling the wonder of their connection. He lay on her chest and his hands lifted her head slightly so they could kiss, her head soon dropping back onto the pillow, allowing him to drive his tongue into her mouth.

His lips pulled slightly away and staring into her eyes Simon slowly began to pull out of her before commencing a rhythmic fucking that found both their breaths shortening. He lowered his head so he could nibble on her left ear, whispering, “you are perfection” to her.

Her hands were on his ass as she tried to pull him deeper into her. It was not long before she began chanting his name and then began to shake, pushing him up slightly so she could breathe. As he began to pull out of her, her hands were again gripping his ass. “In me.” Simon resumed his pumping. “Come for me love, come in me. Come for me” and he did as he was told, giving one last shove into her as he burst, sending three strands of himself into her.

He pulled out and they went to the bathroom in turns before returning to the bed. He got behind her and pulled the sheet and blanket over them. They dozed off. About an hour later, Kate awoke, feeling Simon’s arm around her. She felt his snoring breath on her neck and wallowed in it. Soon Simon was awake too and after he kissed Kate’s neck the two stayed in place, holder and holdee in their own thoughts.

Soon, though, Simon felt himself hardening against her, hoping she wouldn’t notice. It was involuntary as his dick touched her naked ass. Kate noticed and was thrilled. After a minute, her right hand reached over and grabbed him.

“Inside.”

They maneuvered awkwardly and she lifted her right leg to give him access. She was wet after feeling his erection and he was easily in her from behind.

They lay joined, savoring the serenity and wonder of their congress. Those moments could not last long as Simon slowly began to move inside and that could not last long as Kate ripped the sheets from the bed and pushed him onto his back. The room was dark, and they could not see one another. They did not need to. She lowered herself onto him, riding him cowgirl style and reaching for his nipples as he reached up to caress her small tits. It was again animalistic and primal, as it had been their first time.

“Come for me, honey. COME IN ME” and for the first time, Simon came before Kate, although she was not far behind, set off by the feel of him filling her.

As he slowed, being spent, the word “forever” passed his lips. He hoped she hadn’t heard. But she did.

Their relationship was never the same. She leaned down, him still inside her, and whispered “I love you” and he echoed it. Had there been light, each would have seen a face of bliss reflecting back.