|Rowena's Page, Rowena Gets a Life.||Rowena Gets A Boyfriend, Part 10|
Rowena knelt a little precariously in her high heels and scooped puppy food into her puppy's bowl. It occurred to her, suddenly, that she might have put the bowl on the countertop instead.
Linus himself pranced around her, as usual beside himself. He didn't know yet what his mistress' heels and dress meant. Rowena felt a little guilty.
“Okay, Linus! There you go! Yum yum!” He didn't need much encouragement. Rowena used the counter to pull herself up.
“Linus!” she said. She hoped it wasn't too late to get him used to his name. Terese had giggled and made blanket jokes when she'd heard it, but Rowena hadn't named him after anybody.
Sammy knocked at the door, and Rowena hurried to open it.
“Where do you find these places?” Rowena asked, though suddenly she wasn't sure she wanted to know. The restaurant was small, tucked away on a little side street and hidden behind several trees and a tall hedge. Inside it was beautifully paneled and softly lit, and the music was subtle.
Sammy shrugged. “When I moved out of my mom's house I couldn't boil an egg, so I ate out about every night. Finally I had to either learn to cook or go broke.”
“Presumably you learned to cook.”
He laughed. “You won't believe it,” he said, “but I—I went into this bookstore looking for a cookbook, and I found this thing called Cooking for Morons, and—”
Rowena put her hands over her mouth. “Oh, no,” she said. “Oh, no.”
He shrugged again. “It helped,” he said. “Actually, the way the book is laid out—”
“I know,” Rowena said. “You won't believe this, but my mom gave me that book.”
“The same book?”
“And about seven others like it. Despite the fact I haven't needed them for eight or nine years.”
Sammy shook his head, grinning. “So,” he said. “When do you fix me the Raisin Casserole with Custard?”
“Raisin Casserole with Custard?” Rowena asked. “Never, if I can help it. Unless I lose a bet or something.” She turned her glass, watched it turn, watched the light move. “How about lemon meringue pie?”
Sammy nodded. “I think I could settle for lemon meringue,” he said. His tone was respectful. Rowena felt like offering to let him watch, but was half afraid of losing that respect if she took the mystery out of it all.
From the restaurant they went dancing. They hadn't planned to, but it seemed a reasonable alternative to going home. Rowena hadn't been dancing for a long time. Now she stepped with Sammy onto a dance floor ringed with light, one whole wall a window overlooking the city; more lights; their reflections faint and insubstantial in the air. Sammy was a good dancer; the kind of good dancer who made Rowena feel like a good dancer too.
When they weren't dancing he made her laugh, watched the lights with her, did not pressure her to drink more than she wanted, reached out sometimes to touch her hair.
When he held her during a slow song . . .
But eventually the noise got to be too much for her. They left and went to Sammy's apartment. Sammy got her some aspirin, put on some tea for her, and massaged her shoulders. His cat came to investigate.
“Hello, Caesar,” Rowena said, putting out her hand. She had been there before, briefly, once or twice. Caesar sniffed at her, then allowed himself to be stroked.
“I think you're right,” Rowena said. “He's getting used to me already.”
“Next time you come visit,” Sammy said, “you won't be able to get rid of him.” He moved his hands up to Rowena's neck and she sighed.
“Much. Thank you.”
He rubbed a while longer, then removed his hands. Caesar pushed himself against her leg, then strolled airily away.
“Strange cat you have there,” Rowena said. “You really think he thinks he's the reincarnation of you-know-who?”
“Reincarnation?” Sammy asked. “Who said anything about reincarnation?”
Rowena laughed and raised her teacup. “How's the headache?” Sammy asked. She considered a moment.
“Gone, I think.”
At some point he turned on the stereo, then turned it off. At some point she finished her tea. At some point there was a pause, and at about this point they started kissing. She felt his hand again at the back of her neck, but the touch was different this time. She put her own hand on his shoulder, and somehow, bit by bit, she ended up half in his lap, his tongue in her mouth, his hands moving up and down her back, then over her bottom and her breasts.
He leaned back, and she opened her eyes. His expression made something in her chest tighten, warmed her more than the tea had. She waited for him to speak; he murmured her name but broke off and seemed unable or unwilling to continue. He kissed her again, gently, barely touching her; she thought he was trembling; it seemed one of them was trembling.
Then with his eyes on her face, his hands too on her face—but one moved briefly down to her breast, and rose to meet the other at the top button of her dress.
He undid them with care, slipped the dress over her shoulders and down. Her bra gave him only a little trouble. She closed her eyes again, felt his hands, his kisses. He helped her stand. She stepped out of her dress, left it on the floor. She stood, feeling awkward.
“You are so lovely,” he said. “So lovely.” Rowena wondered about his other girlfriends; what they had been like, looked like, how they had responded, what they had done. Sammy drew her to him. She could feel his erection. Though she knew what was going to happen, she didn't know. She had done it before but she hadn't.
She took off her shoes and nylons as he removed his shirt. She felt a little less silly now. Sammy smiled at her; he was hairier than she had expected. He put his shoes near hers; for a moment she thought he was going to arrange them in a suggestive manner; when he didn't she was tempted to but didn't have the nerve; not on their first time.
His legs looked strange, but men's legs were strange. His erection too was not what she'd expected; it was thicker, oddly thick, she thought, on such a thin frame.
He stroked her thighs and pulled down her underwear in a way that made her glad she'd left it for him. And more stroking, holding her against him again, and then rubbing a little . . .
He stepped back. “Come,” he said, holding out his hand. Rowena took it, then pulled loose.
“Just a minute,” she said. She dashed to her purse, rummaged, found what she was looking for and gave it to him, her eyes on the floor.
Sammy stood a moment, staring at the condom in his hand. “Do you always carry these around?” he asked.
“No,” Rowena said, even more embarrassed. “Not really. Only for the last week or so.”
She dared peek. He looked at her and began to smile. He held out his other hand, and she put hers into it. He took her to his bedroom, shut the door behind them, and
She notices things in bits and pieces; the clock radio, which reads 1:37; the poster stating, “Don't Tell Me What Kind Of Day To Have;” the way the wrapper from the condom misses the wastebasket by over a foot when Sammy throws it, and the way he leaves it there on the carpet. He puts her on the bed, nibbles her ear, and moves downward over nearly every part of her that's soft, almost to her knees and then back up a ways and Rowena gasps and then tries to say something but she doesn't know what, and she twists around and grabs at his hair and twists some more and her legs desperately need to be in some position that doesn't exist and when Sammy stops she can hardly move, but he travels up her body and kisses her throat and she reaches her arms up to his back and she gasps again and sighs as he enters her.
He is gentle; he is sweet; she had known this, but she knows it all over again now. Their rhythm changes; they match each other again and again. When he speaks to her he uses words like “wonderful” and “sweet.” When he stops for a moment she touches him and he looks for an instant as if he might cry. He rolls over and pulls her on top of him and she laughs at the difficulty she has sitting, gives him a mock apology.
“Sorry, Sweetheart?” he says. “I hope not.” He says “Sweetheart” as if aware, very fully aware he has never called her that before. Rowena begins to move, long strokes. When her eyes are open she looks into his face. He watches her with such intensity, his hands moving over her. She leans forward, lets her hair brush over his chest, back and forth until he pulls her down and kisses her and . . .
It is when he lets her go and begins to thrust back that she can no longer be silent, hold back the voice she can never believe is hers, the strange pitches that sound to her like a wounded animal, or like somebody trying to be silly. He doesn't seem to mind—she can't keep her eyes open long—but really . . . really . . . And the noises continue, whatever they do; Sammy behind her; Rowena in his lap; once more on top . . . and . . .
And the voice goes really out of control, and she can't stay still, and he is doing things to her, she's not sure just what, doesn't try to figure it out; doing something just a bit unusual between her legs, doing it and not doing it and doing it again, and she pitches around and is blind, blind and tense, there is a tempest of some sort, all inside her, everywhere, and out of the confusion she is aware of herself standing, seeming to stand, at the top of a chasm in which rages wild a familiar whirling void, roaring silence; and she is at the edge, the very edge, and she stands and it is there and she falls
and flung about, in her body and not in it. Sammy's face, briefly, his arm somewhere, that voice, but distant; his voice near but too soft to understand, only the half not in her body could understand words anyway; and aware, somehow somewhere amidst all this and all somewhere deep inside her and low something like a second heart begins to
Sammy lay beside her; they were resting. She looked sometimes at him and sometimes around the room, what she could see of it without turning her head. As near as she could tell, his eyes never left her. She wondered whether this was supposed to be embarrassing, and whether she was embarrassed.
“You,” Sammy said, and stroked her hair. “Do you even know what you do to me?”
She was embarrassed. She looked at the bit of blanket between them; it was a warm night and the blanket did not quite reach her breasts.
“I hope you're not going to tell me,” Sammy said, “that you're ugly and boring and all that.”
“No,” said Rowena slowly. “No; it's just—it's just that . . .”
She started picking at the blanket's edge, not looking at him at all. “It's just I—I don't think I make the right kind of noises.”
For just a moment—one of those moments that seems to at least one of the people involved to last a great deal longer than it really does—for just a moment there was silence. And then Sammy started to laugh. He laughed and laughed, and Rowena, finally looking at him, recognized that laughter; it was the laughter of a man whose wife or girlfriend has just done something he considers endearingly silly in a very female way. He laughed with that sort of bemused fondness until, finally bringing himself under control, he motioned to her.
“Come here,” he said. Rowena wriggled closer. She could see that he loved her.
“Now,” said Sammy, trying very hard to look stern, or at least not to start laughing again, “there is nothing the matter with your noises. Okay?”
“Okay,” said Rowena.
And she let him kiss her.
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