RoseAnn Discovers Dominance Pt. 16

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It was past nine o’clock before I woke. By the time I’d brushed my teeth and put on the bathrobe, my parents and Craig were sitting around the breakfast table, sipping coffee.

“You look like you’ve been out in a windstorm,” said Dad. “When are you going to cut it again?”

“I’ve worn it long for five years, Dad.” I didn’t remind him that I’d grown it for Mike. Even after the divorce, I kept it long. It attracted flattering comments and lustful looks, especially in Bernie’s Grill, where looking sexy paid off in tips.

I picked a piece of toast from Craig’s plate, spread some jam on it, and began to chew. My mother glared at this minor evidence of intimacy, but said nothing.

“Can I get you some coffee?” asked Craig, standing up.

I nodded, and he said, “A little milk, right?” He knew exactly how I took my coffee, but clearly, he was trying to avoid revealing the degree of our intimacy.

“As always,” I said. “And another slice of toast. You know how I like it.” My mother’s face reddened, but she said nothing. I didn’t like provoking her, but I wanted her to understand that I’d really put Mike behind me.

“So what’s on the schedule for today?” I asked.

Mom said, “The Labor Day parade in Morris is at 10 o’clock, and there’s a memorial service for the Grundy County men killed in Viet Nam right afterward. So I guess folks will start showing up around noon. We’ll start the cookout at four. We moved it up an hour so you could get back to the city before it gets too dark.”

I showered and brushed out my hair, and put on a tee shirt that was about a size too small, some short-shorts, and a pair of socks and sneakers. I looked myself up and down in the mirror. Am I only doing this to show Mike what he’s missing? Or so I could display my assets for Craig? Maybe it was both. A brick sat in the pit of my stomach, nervousness over the coming encounter between Mike and Craig. Anything could happen.

Just as I was applying a touch of lipstick, an engine throbbed outside. I recognized that sound. Mike had never put a decent muffler on his Gran Fury. He liked the throaty rumble that announced his arrival, and claimed to like the smell of exhaust inside the car. I finished my ablutions quickly so I could be there when Mike and Craig met.

When I went out onto the porch, Mike had just unfolded his long body from the car. We both froze, staring at each other. He was unchanged–three days’ growth of beard, long stringy hair, NRA tee shirt, faded jeans, black biker boots.

“How are you, RoseAnn?” he said, with unexpected gentleness.

I couldn’t help myself. The broad shoulders and penetrating blue eyes made my pussy clench and grow wet. My own body was betraying me.

“I’m fine, Mike. You okay?” I tried to make my voice as neutral as possible.

He shrugged and opened the Gran Fury’s back door, retrieving a case of Bud.

His passenger, a heavy, red-haired girl, struggled to get out of the car. Once she stood up, I saw that she wore a sling on her left arm, which, together with her weight, had made an awkward chore of getting out of the car. With a shock, I remembered who she’d been, about a hundred pounds ago.

“Do I see Cheryl Norman?”

She must have seen the surprise on my face. “I guess you remember the thinner me,” she said shyly. “Trailer park disease, RoseAnn. I guess nearly all of us get it.”

True enough. She’d been one of the slimmest, most attractive girls in my high school class. While I lived with Mike, I’d watched other women pile on the weight in the tight social environment of the trailer park. Too much time alone, too much television, too many gossip sessions over boxes of Dunkin Donuts or burgers and shakes from McDonald’s. I’d had to keep lots of fruit and iced tea on hand to keep my own weight under control.

I pointed to her arm. “Hurt yourself?”

Mike reflexively tried to move between Cheryl and me, and it told me all I needed to know.

She blushed. “I fell bursa escort down the trailer steps. You know, when you carry a basket of laundry and you can’t see where you’re going. Sooner or later, well…” She saw Mike’s fierce glance and shut up.

I was tempted to call her on it. After all, I’d built the laundry room with my own hands, and made it accessible from floor level. It wasn’t necessary to go down any steps. But this wasn’t the time or place to set off fireworks, not with Craig and my family present.

The screen door banged behind me. It was Craig.

“Craig,” I said, “this is Mike Perez and his friend Cheryl Norman. We were all in high school together.” I turned back. “This is Craig Warburton. He works at Circle Campus.”

“You forgot to say,” said Mike, “you and I were married until a year ago.”

“Craig knows that.” I didn’t know what to say next, but Craig took it out of my hands. He stepped down and shook Mike’s hand, and then Cheryl’s. He was a foot shorter than Mike. “You a Sox fan, Professor?” asked Mike, opening a conversation that soon had the two men sitting on the hood of the Gran Fury, sipping at beers. He didn’t normally like beer, so I knew he was working to fit in. Good for you, Craig.

I sat on the steps, sipping at my own beer and listening, while Cheryl looked uncomfortably about for a place to sit down. She finally opened the car of Mike’s car and leaned against the front seat. As the men talked, I watched the thick muscles under Mike’s tee shirt, the bulging biceps, the slim waist, the brilliant blue eyes. How could I still feel an ache for him after all this time, and after the things that happened? The good memories came unbidden, so I forced myself to recall kneeling on the hard linoleum floor, my hands gripping the backs of his solid thighs, his cock thrusting into my mouth and brushing the back of my throat.

I felt cool sweat on my neck, and hot moisture in my crotch. I was getting excited. That was just stupid and ridiculous. I felt nothing for Mike, not any more.

I glanced at Craig, and he was looking at me, and his eyes were troubled. Could he see my thoughts?

I escaped inside the house and helped my mother get sandwiches ready for the lunch snack. Most of the work had been done before Craig and I had arrived, but there were still a hundred details.

A few at a time, the relatives and friends drifted in. “Hey, RoseAnn, is that your new boyfriend talking to Mike outside?” asked my Aunt Jenna. “He’s a little short, isn’t he?”

“He’s big where it counts,” I said. I waited for the surprised gasp from my mother before I laughed and said, “He’s got a big heart.” This drew smirks and snorts of laughter from the women who were quickly filling up the kitchen and fussing with the food they brought.

Through the window, I watched the arriving men form a circle around the hood of Mike’s car. A couple of my male cousins were missing. They’d been caught in the draft and sent to Viet Nam, but they’d be back for next year’s Labor Day.

I imagined half of the men were waiting for some sort of confrontation between Mike and Craig. My stomach turned leaden as I dreaded the coming afternoon.

We carried the plates of sandwiches outside to the picnic table, and soon everyone was eating. Lawn chairs clustered in groups, mostly divided by sex and age. Conversation hummed in the warm afternoon. The garbage bin quickly filled up with Bud and Busch empties, until my Uncle Albert finally suggested, “Anyone for baseball? I brought my equipment.”

“Make it softball, and I’m in,” I said. “How about you, Craig?”

“I’ll bet Craig only plays sixteen-inch,” taunted Mike. “Don’t you, Craig?”

“Anything else would be crazy in the city,” said Craig, not rising to the bait.

I only knew ‘sixteen-inch’ as a form of softball peculiar to Chicago. The ball was larger and softer than a softball, so the game could be played in vacant lots or a street lined with parked cars. It rarely bursa escort bayan broke windows, an added advantage. I’d never played it myself. Finding open space to play baseball or touch football had never been an issue in Bitumen.

We trooped the half-block to the two vacant lots that had served as a local park for most of my life. Mike walked on ahead, carrying a bat and tapping a ball ahead of himself down the street as if playing miniature golf.

Craig dropped back to walk with me. “I like your family.”

“They’re good people,” I said.

He lowered his voice. “I like Mike, too. I expected different, after everything you said.”

“Don’t trust him. He can act fine when other people are around. In school, he was always the tough guy that’d fight anybody. Everyone wanted to be his friend.”

“Yeah, I know how that works.”

“But he can turn nasty in a split second. Don’t think for a moment that Cheryl’s wearing that sling because she fell down some steps.”

Nobody disputed the choice of team captains. Mike and Albert, same as every family occasion since Mike entered the family. But they didn’t pick teams. In past years, some people were angry at always being last chosen, so Albert had proposed another method. Everyone lined up in order of height, then the tallest went to Mike’s team, next-tallest to Albert’s, and so on.

Since I was tallest, other than Mike, I went to Mike’s team. After some shuffling, Craig ended up with Albert’s team.

Mike was first at bat, and on the second pitch, popped a fly high to center field. Craig stood dumbly on the grass, shielding his eyes, as if trying to find the ball against the sun. I almost shouted, ‘Craig, go for it!’ before remembering I was on Mike’s team.

Craig abruptly danced two steps to one side and snagged the ball from the air without effort. I laughed out loud, and Mike turned in my direction, puzzled.

“Good hit,” I said to him, smiling innocently.

It was my turn at bat, and Albert easily struck me out in four pitches.

In the bottom of the second inning, Craig finally came up at bat against Mike. Mike walked him by pitching four inside balls that came within inches of Craig’s belly, forcing him to jump back. Craig trotted out until he stood next to me, where I covered first base.

“This is fun,” he said, with a wide grin.

I smiled back. “Be careful. Mike’s good at this.”

Mike lobbed an easy pitch to my Aunt Helen, who swung wildly and hit a grounder directly to him. Instead of putting her out at first, he spun and threw to second base and Craig was out. To some, this may have looked like normal strategy, but I knew what Mike was about. He glanced at me to confirm I’d been watching. His smirk said, see how smoothly, how effortlessly I dealt with your boyfriend? One way or another, Craig was not going to get a chance to be the hero of today’s game.

For the rest of the game, Mike walked Craig almost every time. Once, during the eighth inning, Craig took a chance, hopped back just as Mike released, and hit the ball solidly, just over Mike’s outstretched fingers. But the shortstop, Dad’s friend Pete, snatched the ball from the air, ending the inning. Craig trotted to his place in center field, but couldn’t help but look back at me with a grin on his face.

Cheryl watched the game from an aluminum chair, which creaked and tilted and looked ready to collapse. As we returned to the house, she looked at me with a mixture of terror and hatred. She was pleading, don’t take Mike away from me.

Don’t worry, Cheryl. I’ve been where you are, and I’m not going back.

The feast resumed, and after the sun, exercise, and five beers, I felt loose and pleasant as the sun set behind the house. Burgers and brats sizzled on the grill, and the picnic table was covered with salads, cakes, and cookies.

Twice, Craig came and sat near me, but soon found himself frozen out of the conversation, in spite of my attempts to draw him escort bursa in. Each time, he wandered back and rejoined the men, who immediately included him in their deliberations. Thus, he learned how parties were conducted in our part of rural America.

The beer did what beer does, and I set down my empty plate and went into the toilet. When I finished, I opened the door to find Mike waiting in the hall.

“It’s all yours,” I said, moving to pass him.

He blocked my way. “I wanted to see you.”


“I miss you. I wish you’d come back. All those things I did, that’s all in the past. It’s different now.”

“I could tell by the sling on Cheryl’s arm. You’ve graduated to major injury. That’s what’s different.” But I couldn’t help but return his gaze. Those blue steel eyes, radiating strength and confidence, shot electricity into my crotch. I could smell his sweat in the confined hallway, and it brought back memories.

“Cheryl’s a cow. I want you.” He put his arms around me and half-walked, half-lifted me backwards into a nearby bedroom. I made feeble attempts to break free, but my resistance melted as he forced a kiss on me. I tried again to push away, but too many memories got in the way–his smell, the taste of his lips, the rasp of his unshaven chin, the tight grip of his arms. I remembered him at his best, in his senior year of high school, when I looked up at him from the perspective of a star-struck tenth-grader. He was master of everything and everyone around him. And of all the women who threw themselves at him, he’d wanted me. My panties grew warm and damp.

I kissed him back and immediately hated myself for it. The alcohol. It was the alcohol, I hoped.

“Stay here with me,” he whispered. “I need you back home. Everything will be different.”

“What about Cheryl?” I said again.

“She’ll understand. Anyway, she’s got nowhere to go. Her folks don’t want her back.”

“Three of us, living together?” I couldn’t believe I was actually continuing this conversation. I was even seeing advantages to two women sharing the chores.

There was a scuff on the hall carpet, and I looked past Mike’s shoulder to see the back of Craig’s plaid shirt passing the open door, headed toward the toilet. The door closed and the lock clicked.

My stomach clenched in panic, and I pushed free of Mike. “It’s too late for that. I’ve moved on. I’ve got a scholarship and a good man, and my life’s going to be different.”

I left Mike behind, resumed my place in the lawn chair, and swigged at the rest of my beer. But I was worried. Had Craig seen us together? How much had he seen?

A moment later, I got my answer. My father sidled past and tapped me on the shoulder. “Where’s Craig going? I just saw him take off in that old Studebaker of his. Is everything okay?”

I felt as though I’d been punched in the stomach. I tried to sound as cheery as I could. “Oh, yes, everything’s fine.” I waited a decent few minutes and wandered out to where the cars were parked. Sure enough, Craig’s car was gone.

I felt sick to my stomach, and I had another thought. Classes started tomorrow morning, early. I had to get back to Chicago tonight, somehow. I went into the house and found the telephone extension in my parents’ bedroom.

“Rosie, is that you? You sound awful,” said Candy, from her folks’ place.

I wiped tears away. “I’ll tell you about it later. Can I get a ride back to Chicago with you?”

She paused a moment. “It sounds serious. But we’re in the middle of supper. I won’t be leaving until seven o’clock or so. Is that okay?”

I washed my face with cold water and went back outside, forcing a smile and giving the same answer to everyone who asked where Craig went. “He had to get back early. I’m riding to Chicago with Candy.”

About seven-thirty, while Candy’s Buick idled in front of the house, I said my good-byes to everyone. My mother followed me out to the front of the house. “Your boyfriend just left, without saying thanks or good-bye, or anything at all. Tell him I think he’s been very rude.”

“I’ll give him hell, Mom.”

“Did you say good-bye to Mike?”

“No, and I don’t intend to. Good-bye, Mom.”

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