The nights were the worst. Sometimes Linda woke up, forgetting Pat left her until she reached for him and found nothing. A few times she’d gotten in the car and driven around, hoping to see him somewhere, she didn’t know where. Every time she returned, she felt dumb. If he didn’t want to be found, he wouldn’t be found, yet there was satisfaction in trying…
Staying at the casino had a certain comfort to it, and at first she started keeping an overnight bag in her car. After a while it seemed silly and she looked into staying permanently. She wound up moving some of her things in. It was a small room, not a suite, not even fancy, just a place to stay while she played. They gave her a very reasonable rate, and unless her luck changed she would have no problem paying for it. It was reassuring.
She continued to pay the bills and keep the house. There was enough money in their checking account to continue for six months at least, longer if she tightened up. If Pat was still gone, she’d figure out what to do after that.
Her concierge was always there to greet her when she came down to play. After a while she became friends with Janet, and they often had breakfast together.
“Any news about your husband?”
Linda shook her head. “No, it’s like he disappeared into thin air. He used to be in some kind of intelligence when he was in the Marines, and he said once that was part of his job.”
“Well, being invisible was the way he put it. I don’t think I’ll find him unless he wants to be found.”
“That would be pretty scary to me.”
Linda stared off into space for a little bit. “I’m not so much scared. It’s more that I’m… I feel guilty.”
“Why on earth would you feel guilty?”
“I don’t want to go into details, but a lot of what happened was my fault. Everything blew up at once, his job, our marriage. So… I do have a lot to think about.”
She played slot machines two days a week and poker at the tables three days a week. On Friday afternoon she went home to check phone messages and mail, take care of bills, and do the small amount of cleaning necessary to keep up a house no one really lived in.
Much of the time she was terribly lonely. She missed Pat most of the time, but while she was gambling she could push him to the back of her mind. She stayed home all weekend, because if he were going to come home, that was when she was sure he would do it. And that led to her biggest problem. All weekend she was bored on top of everything else.
One Monday she and Janet were sitting at breakfast. Janet had another jeweler coming in with excellent prices.
“Oh, I don’t know. I just don’t have anywhere to go to show off anything new. I mean, I don’t think I’m going to get a date with some boyish hunk, I’m just kind of bored with that part of my life.”
“Linda, you still certainly look attractive. I bet you’d interest a couple of guys I know.”
Linda felt her face blush. ”I haven’t been on a date since forever, and I can’t imagine going out with someone young.”
“You’re not that old. And so what if he was a few years younger. That doesn’t exactly make you a cougar. I can set something up for you. I know a couple of guys who’d love to go out with you.”
“Really. Why don’t you stay here Friday night? I’ll bet you have a ball.”
“Mmmmm. I don’t know. He’ll probably think I’m an old lady.”
“Oh, for God’s sake, Linda. Just try it. If it doesn’t work out at least you’ll know you’re bored for a reason.”
It was a hard decision, but Pat was gone and there was no one else to care. “Okay.”
* * *
All week long Linda couldn’t think of anything else. After Janet confirmed that her date was on she wondered how Friday night would work out. Would he be charming? Would he be thoughtful and caring? None of her friends dated someone younger. She would have called Mandy and asked her, but somehow she thought that might lead to judgmental feelings. After all, she had no idea what her status was with Pat. He had left her, but was she separated? They weren’t divorced, and there had been no legal papers filed. Not that she knew of, anyway.
Janet teased her every morning at breakfast about being a cougar. She didn’t mean it, and the two of them laughed. “I told him to take you to the best place in town. He said afterwards he was going to take you out dancing. You better be ready for him.”
Linda giggled. “Oh, I’ll try to give him a run for his money. I can still dance. I took a couple of classes in college, and that stuff sticks with you.”
“That’s not the same as the current dances, though.”
“I know. I’ve been watching stuff on TV and the internet. I don’t want him to think I can’t keep up with him.”
Janet took a deep breath. “Wow. I never realized how competitive you were.”
“I don’t think it’s competitive. It’s more like polishing the silver so it looks nice.”
* * *
Linda spent the afternoon getting her hair and nails done. Funny, Pat never wanted her to spend the money on what he called extravagances, but it wasn’t that expensive. She was pleased with the results, and it was hard not to admire herself in the mirror. She had brought in one of her new custom-tailored dresses along with the sexiest lingerie she owned. She finished dressing early, and examined herself, looking for any flaw. Satisfied, she tucked her room key in her purse and started down the hall.
Linda insisted she wanted to be introduced to her date in the lobby. Meeting a date at her door didn’t feel right no matter how independent she’d become. Janet waited thirty floors down, and they’d share a drink before her date arrived.
Janet waved across the lobby as Linda stepped out of the elevator. They hugged briefly. “Wow. You look pretty. Ready for everything?”
Linda smiled. “Oh, yeah. Ready and willing.”
They walked into the bar together, ordered wine. Janet lifted her glass in a toast. “To the finest guys we can find.”
Linda lifted hers. “Amen.”
They sipped wine and waited for time to pass. Nothing was too small to avoid their comments – the slightly overstuffed couple across the bar, the obvious mole on the bartender’s nose, the irritating quality of the music. Finally Janet looked over at her. “It’s time.”
Linda nodded, and they left a nice tip, then walked out to the lobby. Janet headed toward a tall handsome younger man leaning against a pillar and waved. He waved back.
That was all it took, that little wave. Linda felt her tummy flip, and she could hear her heartbeat singing. Bobby had to be the most beautiful guy she had ever seen. He looked like a male model. Damn he’s handsome. Janet’s voice came from a long ways away. “Linda, this is Bobby. I’ve known him since forever. Bobby, meet Linda.”
His eyes were an incredibly deep shade of brown. Chestnut, maybe. They searched inside a woman’s soul, inside hers anyway. It was as if he knew everything about her without asking a thing. How could he do that? Her whole body tingled. She could only guess what he would look like when his clothes came off. “Nice to meet you.” She was smiling so hard she was afraid her face would shatter.
“You too.” He seemed so casual, so relaxed. He reached out to take her hand and lightning flashed from his fingertips, slowly through her wrist and up her arm to her heart.
“Are you ready to go?”
Talking to that beautiful boy was beyond her. She simply nodded.
“Bye, Linda. Talk to you tomorrow.”
“Uhhh, yeah. Talk to you, Janet.”
She walked out on his arm. She swore her stilettos never touched the ground. How could she be so taken with him? It didn’t matter. Thank you, God. Or whoever. On second thought it had to be a goddess. A god wouldn’t understand…
* * *
She giggled at his jokes, but she didn’t have to force herself. He was really funny. They leaned over the table, head to head, and she learned what he did for a living. She had no idea there was so much involved in trading stocks, but there was. The nice part, though, was that he wasn’t the kind of guy who talked incessantly about work. She had to pry it out of him, and between her prying, he seemed much more interested in her.
“So I’ve known Janet since we were kids, and she said you’re a professional gambler. Is that true? That seems unbelievable. How did you get into that?”
“I took statistics in college, so the basic stuff you have to know is pretty easy for me. In fact I worked in the field for a while. Never looked at stocks, but some of my classmates did. Anyway, enough about me…”
“No, Linda, I’m serious. So how did you get to where you are? It can’t be all just numbers.”
She smiled. “Bobby, both of my parents are… were gamblers, and I learned a lot from them. Not just the numbers, I know that probably better than they ever did, but how to watch people. When I play with my friends, I think of it as just for fun. I wouldn’t play with someone who would get hurt by losing. These guys are all rich.”
“Yeah, that’s what Janet said. So you really love this…gambling?”
She took a deep breath. “I get an adrenaline rush like you do with that cute little Porsche. When I win, I just… get off on it.”
By the time they finished dinner and dessert, his hand had reached under the table to take hers, and her body reacted. There was nothing she could do about it. A part of her wanted him, truly wanted him. How could be so desirable? The difference in their ages didn’t matter at all.
He wasn’t kidding when he’d told Janet he’d take her out dancing. Together they strolled, dipped, and spun to music approaching the level of pain. She smiled at him, but there was no forcing herself. She was happy. Her body was alive, the first time in years, as she moved to his lead, the beat driving her, a sexual beat, a beat that generated want within her.
She kept up with him, tit for tat, following his lead, and her research paid off. He raised his eyebrows a few times when she moved with him.
“Wow. I didn’t think you’d know this stuff.” He had to yell in her ear to be heard.
“I took dance in college for a couple of years. This is nothing. Want to see me really let go?”
He laughed. “Naw, you’ve reached the end of my talent. But I love this.”
She smiled. In college she often went to local hangouts with other students from her dance class. They could tell when they were at the top of their game. People not only watched, but tried to duplicate their moves. Four couples surrounded them now, staring, and she threw her head back and laughed. He held her hand and spun her around. She hadn’t had this much pure fun since… She didn’t know when.
Finally he pointed to their chairs, and she reluctantly followed him.
“Sorry, babe, but I have to get home. I turn into a pumpkin pretty quick – the market opens in…” He looked at his watch. “Damn. Five hours.”
She nodded, and grabbed her purse. “Ready when you are, Bobby.”
They walked out arm-in-arm, and the little black sports car was waiting.
Once she was tucked in and they were moving down the boulevard at a speed she suspected was a felony all by itself, she couldn’t help laughing. “Damn, that was so much fun. I haven’t had that much fun in ages.”
His voice was pure joy. ” Me either.”
She watched the world go by, quickly. She wasn’t afraid. She had no idea why, she had confidence in him. “You handle this thing pretty well.”
He smiled. “That’s ’cause I race. Not this one. I have a full-blooded racecar at home. Come watch me some time.”
She squealed and clapped her hands together. “I will, I will. Where are we going?”
“Well, I thought we’d stop on the way home and look at the city lights. Just like we were both sixteen years old.”
Happiness enveloped her, and arousal brought a chuckle to her voice. “Works for me.”
Finally they stopped on a bluff looking over the fantastic view. Streams of light marking streets, freeways, thousands of houses spread out below them. It was beautiful, and a part of her began to react. He had treated her to a wonderful evening, he had made her happy. She had no idea if he’d ever want to go out with her again, but she sure hoped he’d like to.
He leaned back and looked over at her, and she smiled back. He bent across and pulled her to him, then his lips met hers, He felt delicious, he tasted delicious, he was… oh she wanted him. His hand ran over her arms, leaving goose bumps behind. She felt moisture between her legs. Oh my God, I want him to take me, I don’t care if it’s right here, I don’t care how we do it…
His touch was unreal, gliding over her body. She hadn’t expected a boy younger than her to have patience, but he did, he didn’t rush her at all. He nuzzled her neck, then her shoulder. She reached to unbutton the top of her dress, and he gently ran his fingertips along the little hollow below her neck,
He had a subtle humming song as he explored her body. No one had ever done that before to her, and it was arousing. She couldn’t help herself, she wriggled her thighs together rhythmically, wishing his hand was there so she could push against him…
Her voice formed the same thing, over and over, an amazed “Oh” sound, nothing coherent, just wanting him to take her. There and then. She smiled. A two-seater sports car wasn’t the best place to make love. She should have ordered the limo.
His fingertips moved down to touch her breasts through her dress. He didn’t try to reach inside, just brushed her nipples, making them hard, painfully tight within the confines of her bra. She wanted to take her clothes off, all of them, wanted to sit naked as a jaybird on his leather upholstery, dripping on the seat…
Why hadn’t Pat ever done this to her? He could bring her to desire, he could make her wet just like this, he could…
Oh my God, where was Pat. Where are you, my darling?
Her whole body stiffened. To his credit, Bobby stopped instantly. “Something came back to you, didn’t it?”
She had no idea it could happen that fast, but tears began running down her face, and she was sobbing. Bobby sat up and removed his hands, instead rubbing her shoulders in a way she found comforting. “What is it, Linda? I don’t want you hurt like this. Is there anything I can do?”
She shook her head.
“I know this sounds so dumb to you, but I lost my husband… I don’t mean he died, he just walked off, and it was really my fault. I thought I could… I thought I was over it, but we haven’t done any formal legal stuff…”
“So you still miss him and want him to come back to you? How long has it been?”
It took her a minute to find a tissue in her purse and blow her nose. She felt stupidly feminine, and extremely helpless. She hated crying, and she was pretty sure most men hated crying too. “Umm, two months.”
He put his arms around her. It felt so good she felt bad.
“Look, I want you to be happy, and you have to deal with this however you need to. Last thing in the world I want is to mess up someone else’s life. You just work it out. I’ll be here waiting if you’re free, and if you’re not, well… I had a ball tonight.:’
“I did too. That’s the bad part. We never had fun like that together.”
“Well, now you have something to teach him. See if he can keep up with you. You just work it out. I’ll be here waiting if things don’t work out, and if they do, well… like I said, I had a ball tonight.:’
“I’m so sorry, Bobby. I’m still a married lady, unfortunately.”
“I think the emphasis is on lady, Linda. I’ll be here, whenever things get settled.” He sat up and started the car. “Think it’s time to get my married friend home before we both turn into pumpkins.”
She straightened out her clothes and looked at him, grateful for his understanding. “You know, regardless of what happens, I’ll remember dancing with you for the rest of my life.”
This is an entry for the #wankwednesday contest, and it also is entered for #wantonwednesday – you can see the other entries for #wankwednesday here
and for wantonwednesday here
This is an excerpt from the next novel in my series, Spanked Princesses: The Gambler, coming out this spring. Hope you like it