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Sighing, she gently placed the flute back in its velvet case. After putting on her jacket, she picked up the case and her purse and moved toward the door. Her solo had gone well and was perhaps one of the best parts of the concert. It was a shame nobody she knew was there to hear it. Her fingers stroked the velvet of the flute case absently. She had hoped someone would have taken an interest in her performance and had shown up to hear her play. She resigned herself to the fact that that’s the way things were, regardless of how she felt about it. She steeled herself against the idea of going home to an empty apartment once again.

“Allison!” someone called out.

She looked around, surprised at the sudden outburst. She thought that all of her “friends” were at her ex-husband’s apartment. That’s where they always seemed to be. So who…? Through the throng of people, she finally saw Michael rushing toward her. As his familiar face approached her, her spirit lifted.

“Michael!” she said, hugging him as he came closer. “I’m so glad you came!”

Michael grinned and returned the embrace. “You know I wouldn’t miss it,” he said.

She broke away from him, looking up into his brown eyes expectantly. “So? What’d you think?”

“Are you kidding?” he exclaimed. “It was awesome. I haven’t been to a concert like that in a long time. You weren’t too shabby yourself, either.”

“Thanks.” She paused. “I’m really glad you came.”

Michael’s eyes scanned the crowd, searching. “Where’s everyone else?”

She felt her heart wrench. “They’re all probably at Richard’s apartment,” she said softly.

Michael turned to her, his expression changing from inquiry and happiness to concern. “I’m sorry, Allison,” he said quietly.

She shrugged, trying to fight away the sadness. Not here, she thought. Michael came, and that’s something. “It’s no big deal,” she said dismissively. “I didn’t think they would.”

Michael took a deep breath. “Well,” he said, “then I guess we’ll go to your apartment.”

She nodded. “That sounds like a plan. I’m sure it was a pretty long trip for you. Did you find this place alright?”

Michael’s cheeks flushed. “I had to make a few U-turns, but I’m here.”

She couldn’t help grinning.


“Do want to talk about it?” Michael asked later. He had followed her home in his car, and after helping her bring her things inside, he had sat down on the couch while she changed into a pair of blue jeans and a deep red button-up blouse. He had dressed up a little, in black slacks and a black and white satin-like shirt. She knew that he had never been one to dress up much, but when he put some effort into it, he didn’t look half bad.

“You don’t want to listen to me rant,” she said, sitting down on the couch beside him. She had poured a small glass of wine for herself, and set the glass on the coffee table.

“You know I’ll always listen to you,” he said, “whatever you have to say.”

She sighed. “You’re the only one I heard from, the only one who seemed to care,” she said. The hurt threatened to consume her again, but she kept it in check. Michael was willing to listen to her, and she didn’t want to scare him away.

“You’re talking about the concert?”

She nodded. “It was important to me, and nobody took any interest in it.”

“I’ve noticed things like that happen to me, too, with our friends,” he said.

“Even when Richard and I were married, nobody seemed to care. The only reason that I talked to anyone was because they were his friends. Now that we’re divorced, their actions have just confirmed what I had been thinking for a long time.”

“I hate to say it,” Michael said, hesitating, “but you two never did seem to be very close. Your divorce honestly doesn’t surprise me too much. I’m sorry for you, you know that, but maybe it’s for the best.”

“It took me awhile to realize it, myself,” she continued. “I thought that it was just a phase that he was going through, the distance, the way he just didn’t seem to care about me or anything I did. As the months and years passed, though, nothing changed. I just couldn’t take it anymore.”

“It’s only been a couple of months since you two separated, right?”

“Yeah,” she said. She dropped her gaze, looking at her glass of wine. “I had been thinking hard on it for awhile, though. I think we’ll keep close, but I just didn’t love him the way that I did when we were first married.” She chuckled to herself. “I’m sorry you have to hear this.”

He shook his head and waved a hand dismissively. “If it makes you feel better, let it out. I’m not going anywhere. It’s a hell of a drive back to my place.”

“I know, and I can’t tell you how much your coming up means to me. It’s sad that a lot of the people that I invited live right here and don’t seem to care, but you drive hours just to come up on a whim. It’s not right!”

“I told you I’d be up, and here I am,” Michael said. “I don’t have much of a life, anyway. It’s no big deal for me to drive up here ‘on a whim,’ as you put it. But I see your point.”

“It’s all pendik escort so unfair,” she said quietly.

They sat there in silence, the minutes sliding by slowly. She wasn’t sure how many passed. He seemed to be waiting for her, but she just couldn’t think of anything to say. She knew that he didn’t fully understand her thoughts, having never been married himself, but he was a good listener. She looked up to see him watching her. She picked up the glass of wine and took a sip. She could sense something hanging between them, something different. What was it, though? Maybe she was imagining things. Too much wine, probably…

“I’m sorry I’m not much help to you,” Michael said, interrupting the silence. It was almost as though he could read her thoughts.

She shook her head. “It’s alright. At least you’re listening to me. I don’t have many people that even do that,” she said sadly. She took another drink of wine.

“So, what are you going to do now?” he asked slowly.

She took a deep breath, sorting out her answer to his question. “I don’t know,” she finally answered. “I want kids sometime. My sister already has two, and she’s two years younger than me. I couldn’t do it with Richard; he wasn’t ready. I don’t think I’m unattractive, either, so maybe things will come around.”

No, she knew she wasn’t unattractive. Her hips may have been a little larger than what she’d like, but she was still slender and firm in the right places. She stood about five-and-a-half feet tall, with lightly tanned skin and shoulder-length dark brown hair. She had never been one to wear much makeup, but she still bore a soothing and pretty aura.

“I’ll think about you,” Michael told her, interrupting her thoughts. “I know it might take awhile, so if you want to rant about it, you know you’ll always have an open ear with me.”

“I know,” she said. He may not have been the best person that she could talk to, but his presence was still soothing. She looked back at him, his face impassive, seeming to be thinking something.

“So,” he began slowly, “what was it, really? Why’d you leave him?”

She picked up her glass of wine and held it, looking at the ruby liquid sparkle. “A lot of things,” she said. “He just didn’t seem ready for anything that I was hoping for. We couldn’t really see eye-to-eye on much; different goals, I guess. I want so much more, and he seemed comfortable to stay where we were. None of our interests matched, he never really paid much attention to me, so many things. It wasn’t just about children.” She sighed. “I’m not sure you want to hear this, but do you have any idea how long it had been since we had made love?”

She could tell that she probably shouldn’t have asked that. His face turned red with embarrassment, his hallmark trait. He took it well, though. “How long?” he asked.

“A year. We hadn’t made love in almost a year.” She couldn’t keep the hurt, disappointment, and bitterness out of her voice now. Every word seemed to ooze with her feelings. “I’m only twenty-five years old, and I know that that isn’t right,” she said, almost desperately. She forced herself to calm down, taking deep, steadying breaths. “He just didn’t seem to care anymore. He’d come home and wouldn’t do much of anything, that included.” She sighed. “I know that some of this is trivial, but, in the end, I don’t think either one of us was happy.”

“I wish there was something I could say,” Michael said softly. “I can see how much this is upsetting you.”

She could feel a tear streaming down her cheek. The cool wetness surprised her, and sniffing, she wiped it away. She wasn’t one to cry much, over anything really. Maybe this was hurting her more than what she had thought.

“We’ll always be close,” she said. “He’s a good man, a good friend. He just wasn’t a very good husband.”

Michael shifted closer to her and wrapped his arm around her shoulders. He pulled her into his chest, and the tears that had been trying to leak out of her eyes suddenly flowed freely, the dam shattered. She wrapped her arms around him, her sobs racking her body. He didn’t say anything, and she was glad for it. She just needed comfort, not words or help or excuses. Somewhere below her sorrows, she could feel his hand stroking her back and hear his lips uttering nonsense whispers. She accepted them all gladly, the hurt of being alone again suddenly crashing into her.

The tears gradually stopped flowing, her chest started aching, and her breathing soon slowed. The storm had passed for the moment. She still clung to her rock, though, afraid of being swept away by the tempest once again. As her thoughts cleared and her mind came back to shore, she could hear Michael’s words breaking through the clouds.

“It’ll be alright,” he was saying. “Just let it go, Allison. I’m not going anywhere.” She cradled into his embrace, pulling in his whispered words like water. They were comforting words, without judgment and recommendations.

She slowly, almost reluctantly, pulled away from him. She couldn’t hide the embarrassment from letting herself lose maltepe escort control so easily. It was still hard to believe that this had been affecting her so much. Five years wasn’t that long a time, was it?

“I’m sorry,” she said, unable to meet his eyes. “I didn’t mean to break down like that.”

“Like I said before,” he said, still stroking her back, “if it makes you feel better, let it out.” He paused. “Do you feel better?”

She nodded, a smile coming to her. “Yeah, a little,” she said. “Thank you so much. You don’t know how much this means to me.”

Michael waved his hand. “It’s no big deal. I can shut up and listen.”

She shook her head. “No, it is a big deal. I need someone that will listen to me, tell me it will be alright. I need to feel loved and needed. You’re everything I need right now.”

The thought of them together suddenly popped into her mind, images filling her. Michael looked so much like Richard, a little shorter, but with deep brown eyes, unruly brown hair, and a slender body. Could she even do that with him? What possessed her to even think it? She couldn’t believe that the thought of taking him into her bed even passed her mind. Her abstinence must be tougher on her than she thought if she had images of her and Michael sleeping together running through her mind.

“Well, I’m glad,” he said, oblivious to her thoughts. He paused. “Allison, are you okay? Really?”

She nodded. “Yeah, I just had a weird thought, that’s all. It’s nothing.”

He leaned back into the couch’s cushions, considering her. “Shoot,” he said.

She turned her gaze away from him to look back into her wine glass. She absently noticed that it needed to be filled again. How many glasses was that now? “No,” she said, “you don’t want to hear it.”

“Well, you opened your mouth, and I want to know. Spill it,” he said with a grin.

She shook her head, still unable to meet his gaze. “It was a stupid thought. The wine’s getting to me, that’s all. I won’t bother you with it.”

His hand reached up and stroked her back. The thought of them together just didn’t seem to want to go away, and the heat of his touch shot throughout her body. She relaxed against his hand, reveling in this caring gesture.

“It’s just been so long,” she said softly. She didn’t even realize that the words had passed from her lips until she felt his hand still against her back. She sat up and looked at him, afraid of what he’d say. How could she have let that slip out? What would he think? The sudden fear of him leaving blossomed in her mind, causing her heart to race.

All Michael did was look at her though. He knew what she was talking about, she had no doubt. She met his gaze, fear coursing through her veins. It’ll be alright, she thought. He’ll blame it on the wine, and when he leaves, nothing will have changed. He’s not going to run. He can’t run. I need him too much for him to run.

“I’m here for you,” was all he said, resuming his strokes against her back.

Her breath left her in a rush. Once again, he seemed to be reading her thoughts, and his response wasn’t what she expected out of him. He could have said no. He could have left. Of all the things that he could have done, offering himself to her was not what she could see him doing. Not ever. No, she had heard wrong, she thought. The wine was affecting her ears now, too. He didn’t just say what he had said.

She fought for breath, the question coming out in a shallow whisper, almost strangled. “What did you say? Did I hear you right?”

Michael’s stroking hand expanded its field of exploration. His fingers traveled up to the nape of her neck, reaching under her hair to briefly stroke her skin. He then dropped down, skimming her body quickly, finally resting just above her waist. A scant inch further, and his hand would be caressing the sloping curve of her ass.

“Yes,” he whispered, his eyes following the path of his hand. “I know I may not be your ideal person, and this isn’t the best thing that could happen. I know that I can handle this better, give you time, or walk out the door.” He returned his eyes back to hers, his face once again turning a slight red. “But you don’t look like that’s what you want me to do.”

As he talked, he had sat up to lean closer into her. Surprise, apprehension, and anticipation had kept her still, awaiting his advance against her. As his face drew closer to hers, she could smell the crisp scent of mint on his breath, the scent of the shampoo and soap he used, and a scent that was purely male. Her tongue flicked out, wetting her suddenly-dry lips. Her heart was starting to race, the moment closing in on her and blocking out all other thoughts.

She couldn’t help the small, almost imperceptive shake of her head. “I do want you to stay tonight,” she said softly. All thoughts besides Michael had indeed left her now; except one. “What about Richard?”

“What about Richard?” Michael asked, his voice a whisper against her, his breath a seductive breeze that caressed her skin. “He’s miles away and not someone kartal escort you have to worry about anymore. I’m here for you, whatever you want. It’s your choice, and you don’t have to have any reservations about it. You’re a young, beautiful, passionate woman, Allison.” He paused, his lips close to her…so temptingly, tantalizingly close. “Do you want me to go?”

Her tongue seemed to snake out on its own, wetting her lips that had once again gone dry. He was actually willing to stay with her, to touch her, to make love with her. She was a grown woman, single, and didn’t have to worry about what Richard thought anymore. This step, though, was something that she hadn’t taken in a pretty long time. Could she do it? Could she accept what Michael was offering her: just one night of forgetfulness?

She felt the tear trickle down her cheek, seeming to answer the question for her. She couldn’t spend another night alone. She needed to feel a man’s touch again, even if it was only for tonight, and even if she was using him. She needed to feel loved, wanted, just for a little bit.

“Do you want me to go?” he repeated. His head had drawn closer to her, his lips just slightly brushing against her cheek as he whispered the words. God help her, he felt so good against her skin.

“Do you?”

“No,” she said. She didn’t care if it did sound like pleading, begging. If only for tonight, she’d be able to forget about the lonely life she suddenly found herself in.

The hand Michael had against her lower back rose higher, pulling her body closer to him. His other hand moved up to stroke her cheek, the pads of his fingers running over her skin gently, turning her face up to his. Her tongue flicked out and wet her lips one last time before his lips came down against her. As his lips began to claim her, she wrapped her arms around him, imprisoning his body against hers. One hand moved around his back, holding him. Her other hand reached up to gently grip the back of his head, forcing their lips to stay together.

It had been over five years since she had known another man’s touch other than Richard’s. Her senses dived into the ocean Michael provided. She reveled in the feel of his body against hers. She cherished the feel of the muscles of his back as she caressed him. She felt as though she’d melt with desire as the heat of his hand traveled up and down her back, his fingers exploring her body through her blouse. How she had missed these touches, this heat, this rising desire. Her heart felt as though it would explode in her chest, and her womanhood began to throb in anticipation. God, how she needed this!

His kisses were gentle and soft at first, as though he was afraid of hurting her or scaring her away. She liked the gentleness of it, the slow progression to something greater. She let Michael dictate the pace of their kiss, hoping he’d realize how much she needed him right now. In an effort to let him know, she gripped his neck a little tighter, trying to pull him a little closer. He obeyed her whim and lightly dipped his tongue into the warm cavern of her mouth.

Feeling his tongue gently stroke against hers sent shocks throughout her body. She hadn’t felt those shocks in so long, and the need for more drove her. Their bodies embraced each other tighter, their tongues rubbing and stroking against each other as their once-timid kiss became passionate and fervent. She didn’t need to smell the mint on his breath now. She could taste it as his tongue probed into her, swirling and twisting with hers in a dance that threatened to topple both of them over the edge.

Time didn’t exist there in that world. Sound was limited to sighs and swallowed moans as their kiss continued. Michael’s hand pulled her head closer, deeper into the kiss just as surely as she was doing to him. Neither one wanted to go, she knew. It felt too good to end.

As their tongues probed and thrust against each other, their hands continued to explore. She couldn’t help moving a hand down to grip his arm, holding him tightly. Michael’s arm moved down agonizingly close to her ass, but swerved around to her front to briefly caress her thighs. He then moved up her body, and she could feel her nipples harden in anticipation.

His hand took its time, exploring every inch of the soft plane of her stomach through her blouse. Finally, he continued upward, his fingers hovering just below the underside of her breasts. She vainly moved her body, eager to feel his touch against her, but Michael was taking his time. She knew that he was teasing her, searching for all of the slopes, curves, and valleys that he could reach. She contented herself with feeling his lips pressed against hers, their tongues dueling against each other as the kiss continued unabated.

Finally, finally, his hand slid up to wrap around her straining breast. The feeling of his palm against her nipple through her bra and shirt sent an electric bolt down to her womanhood. She couldn’t help gripping his head tighter, devouring his lips just as surely as he devoured the sudden gasp that had exploded from her at his touch. With each shift of his hand, a new part of her breast was stroked, the bolts of passion now firing rapidly throughout her entire body. Her back arched into his caress, her body silently begging for more of this pleasure.

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