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A little sex in this chapter
At three Amanda pulled into the driveway of Steve’s house, located in one of the older sections of Edina, an affluent suburb southwest of Minneapolis. In the surrounding neighborhood many of the oldest homes had been torn down and replaced with newer and sometimes uglier homes. However in the cul-de-sac where his home stood on a large lot the homes were the original ones built back in the 50s, stately homes that had the look of careful professional care and upgrades and renovations through the years. The landscaping was mature, with huge oaks and maples, and did much to give each home some privacy from the houses next door. At first the single-story house looked small, but then she realized that it extended quite a ways into the property.
He opened the door before she could ring the doorbell and greeted her with a kiss and a hug. “You’re here!” he said. It was warm for September so he wore a faded blue polo shirt, jeans and boat shoes. Yummy, Amanda thought.
“Of course,” she replied. “Why are you surprised?”
“I don’t know. Maybe in the cold light of day you had second thoughts.”
“No. No second thoughts. What about you?”
“Ha. If you didn’t come I was going to your place and throw myself at your feet and beg.”
“Hmmmm. I would have liked to have seen that.”
“Too bad. You blew it by showing up. You look terrific, by the way.” Amanda wore skin tight jeans, a light cotton mock turtle pullover and cross training shoes. Her hair was pulled back into a pony tail and she wore just a touch of makeup.
“Let’s get your things out of the car and get settled in.”
Steven got Amanda’s overnight bag out of the trunk and noticed some clothes on a hanger in the back seat. “Do these come in too?” he asked.
Looking a bit embarrassed Amanda said, “Well, ummm, they’re for work Monday morning. I brought them along just in case … you know, I stayed Sunday night too. Kind of presumptuous, wasn’t it?”
Steven grinned. “Not at all. Very encouraging actually.”
He showed her the master bedroom suite and where to put her clothing and cosmetics. The large bathroom had two sinks and ample counter space for Amanda. Steven then gave her a quick tour of the house, which was u-shaped. One wing had the master suite and two bedrooms with an adjoining bath. The other wing had a guest suite, the kitchen, dining nook and formal dining room. The center had a family room, parlor and den that Steven used as a home office. The center courtyard, which Amanda could see through the French doors, had a lap pool and paved patio.
Noticing a gleaming black grand piano in the parlor she asked, “Do you play?”
“Yes,” he replied. “My one all-consuming hobby. I started lessons when I was five and continued all through college. I actually made money in school playing in local bars and clubs. Do you play?”
“Violin. All Korean American girls learn to play either piano or violin. A violin is much easier to move around so that is what I chose. I stopped taking lessons while in law school and I don’t practice anywhere near enough. And I sing too. All African American girls have to learn to sing,” she said laughing.
“You get it from both sides. We’ll have to play together some time,” he said.
“We can give it a try,” Amanda said doubtfully. “Maybe you can play for me later.”
“OK, but you have to sing too.”
“Arghhh. You may regret that.”
“We’ll see. It’s only fair that we both suffer equally.”
Amanda looked at the framed photos on the wall. “This must be your parents. I think I’d recognize them anywhere. Is this your sister?”
“Yup — Angus and Mary are my parents. And that’s Caitlin and her husband, Vijay … the doctors Patel. And that little heart breaker is Rani, six going on 35. She only has to bat her eyelashes at me and say, ‘Uncle Steve, would you jump off that building?’ and I’d be climbing the stairs.”
“She’s beautiful, Steven.”
“Yeah and she knows it too. Those big brown eyes and that curly black hair. Poor Caitlin … not too may Scottish-Irish genes in her, except for her temper, which is very Irish. I expect if we had kids they might look like her.”
Then with a stunned look on his face, realizing what he just said, he turned to Amanda and said, “OK. Forget I just said that. Brain not in sync with mouth. Just blurted that out. Sorry.”
Amanda laughed and said, “If you could only see the look on your face. It’s priceless. Don’t worry. I was thinking the same thing myself. Great minds, and all that …”
“Thanks for helping me get my foot out of my mouth.” Quickly changing the subject he pointed to another photo. “This is my brother Sean and his wife Heather and the two wild and crazy guys are my nephews Tommy and Bobby, the wrecking crew. After they’ve been here Sean gives me a blank check and apologizes all the way to their car.”
“Oh good lord. Mischief is writ large all over their faces. They must be quite a handful.”
“They are. Sean, who’s six sar─▒yer escort years older than me, said they remind him of me when I was their age. I guess I was a holy terror too.”
“The calm, cool, collected Steven Clark? No way!”
“If nothing else the Army taught me self-control.”
Regarding the Army, there were only two photos of Steven in uniform, one a formal portrait in class A greens and another obviously taken in the desert in full combat gear standing with a group of soldiers. Peering at the formal photo Amanda commented, “That’s an impressive array of fruit salad,” referring to the three rows of medal ribbons, jump wings and Combat Infantry badge.
“Ah, if you hang around long enough you get all kinds of stuff.”
“You can’t fool an Army brat. They don’t hand out the DSC, Silver Star and Bronze Star to pussies,” she said.
Looking uncomfortable he guided Amanda through the French doors and out on to the patio. The backyard sloped down to Minnehaha Creek in terraces with stone retaining walls. About halfway down was an arbor with another patio. The grounds were heavily landscaped with lush gardens.
“Oh, Steven, this is simply beautiful.”
“Thanks. This used to be my parents’ home. I bought it from them. My mother designed and planted most of the gardens, but the upkeep was just too much for them after the kids moved out so they downsized. I love this place and wanted to keep it in the family. It is a lot of work, but I have a landscaping company do the lawns and maintain the property.”
“We never had anything like this growing up. When dad was a junior officer we sometimes lived in some pretty grim officer housing. Even General officer’s quarters are not that fancy. Only now do Mom and Dad have a nice place to live. Mom finally got her gardens.”
“Good. I’m glad you like it. Maybe that means I can talk you into spending some time here. So, it won’t take long for me to make dinner. I’m going to make Dover sole. Is that OK?”
“Real Dover sole? I love it!”
“Straight from the English Channel. I thought we’d eat around six so we have time on our hands. Would you like to walk down to 50th and France? I need to go to the wine store.”
“Sounds great, but you have to let me buy wine for dinner.”
“Deal. Let’s go then.”
It was about a mile walk to the popular shopping area of Edina. 50th and France featured a cluster of upscale shops, restaurants, boutiques, a cooking equipment store, bakery, old-time movie theater and banks. It was a glorious fall afternoon typical of the Midwest. The trees were turning color and there was the smell of wood smoke in the air. Steven and Amanda strolled leisurely, holding hands.
“Hard to believe that in a couple of months it could be below zero with snow on the ground,” he said.
Amanda shivered and said, “I love it here, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to the winter.”
“If you really want to see winter, I’ll take you to our place up north. Do you cross country ski?”
“I managed to learn. I’m not very graceful, but I enjoy it.”
“Good, we’ve got our own private trails. You can ski nude if you want to.”
Amanda laughed, “Oh yeah. I can just see that. The only place up north I want to be nude is in bed with you with a big roaring fire in the fireplace.”
“Hold that thought.”
“If you take me up north, then I’ll take you to the Caribbean or to Cabo. Then we can really get naked.”
“Now that’s a plan I can buy into.”
Amanda hugged his arm and reached up to kiss him on the cheek. This is going better than I imagined, she thought.
The couple browsed the shops. The stores were busy on a Saturday afternoon. We’re sure to bump into someone we know, thought Steve. So be it.
Amanda looked through the sales racks with leftover summer fashions discounted up to 75 percent off. “There’s a reason this stuff is still in the store in the fall. Whew, how could anyone wear any of this?”
“I’ll bet it would look good on you,” Steve said loyally.
“Only if you want a clown for a girlfriend,” she said and then thought, ooops! Another slip of the tongue. A lot of that going around this afternoon.
He squeezed her hand and said, “That sounds nice.”
“The clown part?” she replied.
“No. You know what I mean.”
“Yeah, I do and it does sound nice.”
Katy Blake was in the back of the wine and liquor store when she saw Steven and Amanda walk in holding hands. “Holy crap, that’s the boss and Amanda. They sure look friendly.” Katy worked in Steven’s group, responsible for digital communications. Although happily married with three kids, she had a small crush on Steven and liked and respected him as her superior. Feeling guilty about spying on the couple, she couldn’t resist.
The two of them were standing in front of the shelf with scotch when she saw Amanda whisper something to Steven and lean into him. He said something back and caressed her rear end before esenyurt escort Amanda walked away. Oh my god, thought Katy. Did I just see that? They must be a couple, but what a surprise. Nobody had even a hint.
Steve selected a bottle and moved on to the vodka display. Amanda came back with two bottles of wine that she showed Steven and he nodded approval. He then pointed to a bottle of vodka on the shelf and Amanda also nodded approval. Steven took down the bottle and they got in line at the register, with Steven holding all four bottles. Amanda slipped her arm around his waist and momentarily laid her head on his shoulder.
Katy walked around the next aisle and moved toward the checkout line, giving Steve and Amanda ample time to see her and maybe move apart. They didn’t. Amanda kept her arm around Steve and smiled when she saw Katy. She nudged Steve and he turned and smiled at her too. “Hi Katy,” Steven said. “You live around here?”
“About two miles away,” Katy said. “Just picking up a few last minute items. What a gorgeous day, isn’t it?”
They chatted for a while as the line moved toward the checkout. “Busy today,” Amanda said.
In all respects, the conversation seemed completely normal to Katy, as if it was natural for two of the most talked about company “hotties” to be canoodling in public. Wait until the gang hears about this, she thought. Then had second thoughts, Hell, these are really nice people. Let them have a little privacy. If anything is going on it will get out soon enough.
As they were walking home Amanda said, “Did you see the look on Katy’s face? I thought her eyes were going to explode.”
“I think we made her day,” Steven said. “What juicy gossip. The question is will she say something? I bet she keeps quiet. She’s too nice a person to go blabbing around.”
“I hope she didn’t see your hand on my ass,” Amanda said with a grin. “That would really get things going.”
“And such a nice ass too. It was worth it.”
“You know, if we keep this up we’re going to have to tell Bob. Better he hears it from us than through the office grapevine,” Amanda said.
“The only problem with that thought is the conditional ‘if.’ You’re right though. It’s only fair we give him a heads up.”
“OK. Scratch the ‘if.’ Based on less than 24 hours and four orgasms I’m in, unless you have some unbelievably gross habits,” she said with a chuckle.
“That’s the spirit. I don’t think there is any rush, but at some point we should go in together and tell him we’re dating.”
“How do you think he’ll react?”
“Oh, he’ll be OK with it. We’re in separate groups. I don’t supervise you and you don’t supervise me so no problem. And he’ll expect us to be discrete about it.”
“No sex in the office, huh?”
“Only on weekends,’ he said with a grin.
Back at the house they put the wine in the refrigerator and Steven began preparing dinner. “Do you want a drink before dinner,” he asked.
“Thanks, but after last night’s binge I think I’ll pass. Wine with dinner should be enough.”
“I agree. It’s such a pleasant evening we should eat out on the patio.”
“Show me where you keep things and I’ll set the table,” Amanda said.
Steven simmered basmati and wild rice in a chicken stock and blanched green beans in the microwave. When the rice was about ten minutes from completion he dusted four Dover sole filets with flour and melted butter in two saut├ę pans. As the butter melted he added dried blueberries and chopped pecans to the rice. He then saut├ęed the filets and the blanched green beans, adding finely minced shallots to the beans. While he was cooking Amanda chilled one of the bottles of sauvignon blanc in an ice bucket then opened the bottle and poured two glasses that they sipped while Steven cooked. When the fish was done Steven transferred the filets to a warm platter and added more butter to the pan along with a squeeze of lemon and chopped fresh parsley creating a sauce for the fish.
Amanda moved the bucket of iced wine to the patio. Steven plated the food and both sat at the table on the patio. Before they began eating Amanda noticed that Steven bowed his head and silently said grace. “Do you always do that? Say grace?” she asked.
“Yes. Mom would smack me if I didn’t,” he said with a smile. “All good Scottish Presbyterians do that.”
“Would you mind repeating it out loud? All good Methodists do that too,” she said, smiling back at him.
He said grace out loud then lifted his wine glass in a toast. “Here’s to us. The start of a very special friendship.”
“A very special friendship and much more,” Amanda said, clinking her glass with his.
Amanda took a forkful of the sole and leaned back with her eyes closed. “That is just heavenly. Probably the best I’ve ever had. Where did you learn to cook like that?”
“I started with Mom then took classes whenever I could. I like to cook. I like to try new things and push the envelope a bit. I have to admit this is a pretty safe meal avrupa yakas─▒ escort that I’ve made a lot. I didn’t want to screw up the first time I cooked for you.”
“If you cook for me at least once a week I’ll never leave,” she said.
“We’ll have to work on that.”
Steve and Amanda both had healthy appetites and in no time their plates were clean. Steven went into the kitchen and brought back two small salads dressed with a vinaigrette he’d made earlier in the afternoon. “The French sometimes end the meal with a light salad,” he explained. By now they had opened the second bottle of wine. “This is a really nice wine,” he said. “Good choice.”
With the meal finished, the couple relaxed and talked, enjoying the last of the wine. Although it was only a little after 7:00 p.m. the sun was going down and a chill crept into the air. It wouldn’t be long before they had to go inside, but neither was in any hurry, wanting to get the most out of the last warm days of the fall.
“Were you ever in a serious relationship before?” Amanda asked.
Well that came out of right field, Steven thought. I wonder where this is going. “Once. I guess you could call it serious. We dated off and on for almost three years. I was a second lieutenant and away a lot on deployments. It just got to be too much for both of us; too many separations. She wanted to settle down and I didn’t. I liked what I was doing, I thought I was too young to commit and I wasn’t sure she was the right one. Inevitably we drifted apart. No big blowups or breakup scenes and we stayed friends for a long time. Since then, nothing really. Casual dating, sometimes to fulfill social obligations, although my friends and family never give up, always trying to pair me up with someone. What about you?”
“I had a few boyfriends in college,” she said. “I was nerdy and geeky and didn’t spend much time on my appearance so it wasn’t like boys were breaking the door down. I was pretty serious in those days and I’m afraid I wasn’t much fun. Kind of a grind, if you know what I mean. And now my family and friends do the same thing, trying to set me up. Why is it that couples always think you have to be in a relationship to be happy? I like my work, I have fun, in my own way, and don’t feel any pressure to get married or settle down with someone.”
“I guess I am the same way. Eventually I’d like to get married and have a family and if the right person comes along I won’t have any problem taking the plunge.”
“Me too. I’m still quite young. I’d like to have kids and think I have a few good years ahead of me for that,” she said with a smile.
They sat silently for a while, each musing over the recent discussion, watching the sun finally drop below the trees and darkness creep up from the creek in the back of the property. Amanda looked at Steven and felt a warm glow. He’s such a nice guy and sexy as hell. And being with him is so relaxing and comfortable, not quite what I expected. She noticed an amused smile and asked, “What’s so funny?”
He looked like he had been caught at something. “I don’t know how to tell you what I was thinking without running the risk of seeing you run for your car.”
“Go ahead, soldier. Take a chance.”
“Just looking at you now I imagined a neon sign over your head with arrows pointing at you reading ‘The One!’ Must be the wine.”
“Oh don’t bail out and use booze as an excuse,’ she said with a chuckle. “To be honest I wouldn’t have a problem imagining the same sign over your head.”
“I’ll be darned,” he said. “This is just amazing.”
“Who knew?” Amanda said. “This is going fast isn’t it?”
“I have a theory about that,” he said.
“Enlighten me, oh wise one.”
“Smart ass. OK. Neither of us are dewy-eyed twenty somethings. We’ve been around, seen some things, and had experiences. We are both decisive people by nature, maybe even impatient at times. One of the things Palmer likes about you is that you don’t waffle and dither. He says that you have a ‘bias for action’ and he says the same about me.
“We’ve been around each other for three years and over that time we’ve worked together on projects, gotten to know one another, and became friends. I always thought that you were off-the-charts beautiful, funny and nice to be around. There were times when I thought I’d ask you out, but for whatever reason, I never did. I’d watch you in meetings and once I got a hard on so bad I couldn’t stand up. I had to wait until everyone left the room before I could leave.”
At this Amanda giggled. “I would have liked to have seen that.”
“It was rather painful. Anyway, I suspect the same things going through my mind might have been going through yours. So when we had a chance Friday night and we ended up in bed together, it was the culmination of something that had been brewing for a long time. Being decisive types, it wasn’t a big leap to arrive at wanting to have a relationship. Now here we are.”
Amanda thought for a few minutes and said, “I think you nailed it. I guess I’ve had a thing about you for a long time, and I didn’t act on my feelings either. Then when I saw you standing in the window of my condo, with the lightning flickering on your face, my knees got weak and I knew I was going to make love to you. There was no turning back because the situation would never arise again.”
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