That took longer than I thought...another long chapter...
The alarm clock going off was like being awakened by the burglar alarm back at school. Mike and I both jolted awake and collided with one another in a heap of tangled limbs before I managed to hit the off button.
“That thing is so loud,” Mike said groggily as he pulled me back against him and under the covers. “7:00 AM? Aren’t we on vacation? Can’t we sleep in?”
We’d spent the night alternating fucking and sleeping. Of the eight or so hours we’d been in bed I estimated we managed six or six-and-a-half hours of actual sleep. I could feel the warmth of his bare skin against mine, and was tempted to say “yes” and burrow under the covers with him for the rest of the morning. But….
“Yeah, but I’d like to have breakfast with Mom and Dad. What’s the matter farm boy, have I already corrupted you with my wicked city ways?” I said, rumpling his hair.
Mike laughed. “I didn’t spend all night fucking when I was living on my parent’s farm. God, you were fantastic,” he said, and trailed kisses down my neck to my shoulder, “sweet and hot and wild.”
“So were you,” I said, pressing closer and planting a kiss on his lips.
“It sure took the edge off. When you finally let me rest I slept like a rock.”
“Oh, so I kept you awake? And it looks like part of you is still a rock,” I said, stroking his impressive morning wood.
“What do you expect when I’m in bed with a hot guy? And you’ve got your own rock going there.”
“I think we should take advantage of it,” I answered and threw back the covers so I could lick his rigid cock, tracing the front with the tip of my tongue.
“Ooooh,” Mike moaned, shuddering, his hand going to the back of my head. “Damn, that feels incredible…but what about breakfast?”
“This shouldn’t take long,” I said teasingly.
I reached over to the open the jar of Vaseline, took a small glob and spread a thin coat on his dick. Then I spread some on my ass – not that I needed much with multiple loads still inside me –and straddled Mike’s lap. I positioned his dick head and began to lower myself onto his now pulsing rod. His hands went to my waist, then cupped my ass cheeks to spread them open and support me.
“Darr…honey, that’s…wow…” he trailed off as I pushed down on his cock until I had engulfed his dick completely. Then I rose a little and sat back down, a little faster, and repeated that move, tension building…Mike’s jaw had dropped and his eyes were glazed. I heard him groan softly, and we were panting in unison.
Mike reached up and played with my nipples briefly; then he spit on his left hand and wrapped it around my dick so that as I rose and fell, I was “fucking” his hand. The pleasurable pressure started to accumulate rapidly. My right hand was still a little greasy from the Vaseline, so I reached behind me and let my fingers glide over Mike’s already tight ball sack in rhythm with my movements. He began to thrust upwards into my ass, unable to stop himself. His huge cock was pressed against my prostate, and every movement either of us made brought release closer…and closer…until…
“Uuuh, shit, I’m cumming…” I groaned as sensation blazed through me, racing along my nerves like fire as I shot my load on Mike’s chest.
Mike’s thrusts got harder and faster immediately, his huge dick plundering my willing asshole.
“Darren,” he said with a muted cry as his body jackknifed and his arms went around me, crushing me against him. He moaned into my chest as he emptied another charged load – his fifth since we’d gone to bed – inside of me.
I sagged forward and we kissed, languidly, sated for now. My bed (and probably my room) smelled of sex and sweat; I could feel his heartbeat hammering at first, then gradually slowing.
“I can feel your heartbeat,” he said, stroking my back.
“Funny, I was just thinking the same thing about yours.”
“And now I’m hungry.”
I smiled. “What a surprise.”
After quickly cleaning up, we pulled on the sleepwear we’d discarded during the night and went to the kitchen. My parents weren’t there yet, but coffee was brewing which meant one of them, probably Mom, had started it. Mike had the large jar of protein powder he’d brought with him, so I got him the blender and everything he needed to mix his morning smoothie. Then I got breakfast for my parents and me on the table, and made fresh-squeezed orange juice for everybody. Coffee brewed and toast toasted against the background of the buzz of the juicer and the blender; appetizing aromas filled the kitchen.
Maxi trotted in, drawn by the noise and smell of food and looked up at me pleadingly. “You’re expecting maybe a seven-course breakfast?” I said as I gave him his morning serving of kibble, which he happily devoured.
I was deeply contented – taking six charged loads in the past 24 hours probably had something to do with it. But it went deeper, and in more ways than one. Being here in New York – at home – with my boyfriend, was domestic and ordinary and everything I’d ever dreamed of: a night of hot sex followed by a morning quickie, then making breakfast together. I’d almost given up on ever having a real boyfriend, but here I was and I could hardly believe it. Everything was perfect – and I couldn’t stop smiling.
My mother strode in, dressed for work in a dark pantsuit with a cream cashmere turtleneck. “Good morning you two, what a lovely surprise,” she said, kissing me on the cheek, and squeezing Mike’s arm. “I was sure you’d sleep in today.”
“Someone has to make sure you eat before you leave for work,” I said, mock-chiding while wagging my right index finger. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
Mom just smiled. “Thanks. Sorry we fell asleep before the movie ended, and thanks for covering us up last night. You do know there’s no alarm clock in the library?”
I gasped, horrified. I hadn’t thought of that.
“Oh, no. Are you late? Is Daddy late?” I said, reverting to childhood in the stress of the moment.
“No, no, it’s fine. Your father and I are at the age where we have to get up at least once a night, so we moved to the bedroom during the night and the alarm got us up.”
I sagged, relieved. “Did you sleep okay?”
“Best night’s sleep we’ve had in weeks.”
“It sure was,” my dad said as he joined us, sporting another of his suits, auguring another day spent with clients. “It’ll make schlepping to that dopey dinner easier.”
My mother inhaled deeply as if she were going to say something, then seemed to decide that ignoring it was the best policy.
“Good morning again, darling,” she said.
“Oh, yeah, good morning guys,” dad said as an afterthought, and then turned his attention to checking emails and the morning headlines on his phone.
“So what are your plans today?” mom asked as we sat down to eat.
“I thought we’d hit midtown, go to Rockefeller Center and look at the holiday windows in the stores, maybe go to the Empire State Observatory or Top of the Rock and MOMA. Does that sound good?” I asked Mike. “The closer we get to Christmas, the worse the mobs will be.”
“Sounds fine, whatever you want to show me,” Mike said amiably.
“It’s going to be very chilly out today – use the coat again, Mike” my mom said. “Could you make sure to take Maxi for a walk before you go?” At the sound of his name coupled with one of his favorite words, “walk,” Maxi’s ears perked up.
“Sure. Anything else?”
“Well, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble could you pick up a bag of pita chips for tonight? I ordered a Mediterranean platter, but they never send enough pita. Oh, and are you planning on going out with Emmy for dinner or staying here?”
“I thought we’d stay here,” I said, aware that it would be less awkward if we ate here than if we went out after Mike’s discomfort over the prices at dinner last night. “Is that okay with you?” I asked Mike, and received a confirmatory nod.
“There’s plenty of food,” my mom assured me as she started to clear the table.
“Mom, we can take care of the dishes, just go. Or have another cup of coffee if you want,” I said, my contentment translating into generosity.
Dad looked up from his phone. “Hmm, someone is in a very good mood,” he teased.
“Yep, I’m in such a good mood that not even you can ruin it,” I teased back.
“Or are you trying to get rid of us?” he continued.
I shrugged noncommittally. But it had crossed my mind that it would be fun to have Mike fuck me again after he’d done his morning workout and would be all sweaty and delicious. Maybe on the chaise or the sofa or just the middle of the floor? The thought made my dick start to get hard, fortunately my sleep pants were baggy. And then I realized that Maxi would likely want to, er, play…nope, we’d keep it in my bedroom.
Mom summoned a car with the app on her phone, and she and Dad left. Finally.
“Want to see the exercise room?” I asked Mike.
He said as he stretched, “I was thinking of going back to bed for a few hours.” I caught myself staring at him. I was still amazed by his body every time I looked at him.
I tore my eyes away from his shoulders and biceps to check the time– it was only 8:15 AM, and more sleep sounded very good. Then Maxi whined.
“I have to take Maxi for his morning walk or he’ll pop,” I said. “Why don’t you go back to bed, I’ll take Maxi out and then join you.”
Mike acquiesced – he was a remarkably agreeable travel companion – and I pulled on jeans, boots and a coat and took Maxi out for a walk. It ended up being short because it was cold out and Maxi hates the cold. He relieved himself on the nearest tree and then was jumping on me, his signal for “time to go home.” Javier greeted us when we came in and had a treat ready for Maxi.
When we got back to the apartment, all was quiet. I made sure the dog had fresh water, and then went to my room. The door was closed; I opened it carefully, not wanting to disturb Mike, but the bed was empty. And it was covered with the black silk sheet.
I stepped in my room, heard the door close, felt a pair of strong arms wrap around me and a soft kiss was planted on the right side of my neck. I pressed back against Mike, rubbing my butt against his erect cock.
“Who are you, and what did you do with my tired boyfriend?” I teased. He didn’t answer, just kept kissing my neck. “I thought you were going to get some more sleep,” I said on a gasp as he continued to kiss his way up my neck to my ear.
“I said I wanted to go to bed not go to sleep. At least not right away,” Mike answered as he reached around and unfastened my jeans.
“Damn, you haven’t had enough…” I began but my moan cut me off as he teased my now-exposed ass with his hard dick and reached around and covered my cock with his big, warm hand.
After a minute of pleasurable massage, back and front, he said “You were saying?”
“Never mind,” I said back breathlessly as I threw off my t-shirt and attempted to push off my boots and jeans.
“Let me help you with that,” Mike said, and lifted me and carried me to the bed. He set me down, pulled off my boots, and then stripped off my briefs and jeans simultaneously.
“But what about the Empire State?” I asked completely deadpan.
“I’ve got something just as big right here,” Mike answered as he pushed me back and knelt over my face, bringing his hard cock to my lips.
I opened my mouth and took the head of his thick, hard cock in my mouth, then pulled his hips towards me, communicating that I wanted him to fuck my mouth. As he stroked in and out between my lips, I ran my tongue against his shaft, wringing a gasp from him.
“That’s it, suck that big dick,” he growled. Apparently after the morning’s quickie he was in a dominating mood – not that I was complaining at all.
Mike pulled his cock out of my mouth, now shining with a coat of saliva. “Lick my nuts,” he ordered. I obeyed, but added my lips so that the softest, slickest part just inside my mouth prolonged each lick. I heard him exhale sharply. “Shit,” he breathed. “Don’t stop,” he said hoarsely, and moved his hips forward, pressing his perineum (aka the “taint”) against my mouth and tongue, then moved back and forth a few times, groaning with pleasure before he brought his asshole over my lips.
“Lick me right there,” he demanded…or maybe begged? Either way, I started to run my tongue across the sensitive flesh, then added my lips. Mike’s hand was around the back of my head, pulling me in towards him. “Yeah, eat my ass, get me hot for you. Gonna fuck that hot little butt…” he trailed off into a moan as I pushed the tip of my tongue inside his rectum.
He moved back, his balls brushing against my face, his hard, then his drooling cock. He covered my mouth with his, then went on kissing my chin, my neck, stopping to lick and suck my nipples, continuing down until he got to my erect dick, which he took in his mouth, bobbing his head up and down.
I arched my back and then like an automatic reflex, my legs were rising and spreading, Mike took them over his shoulders, took a quick minute to smear himself with a little Vaseline and started to enter my butt. His cock was rock-hard and leaking pre-cum that helped him push it inside of me, slowly and steadily filling me, taking possession of my body like the invasion of a liberating army. He leaned forward, pressing my thighs against my chest, pinning my arms over my head, folding us together in a pod of sensual delight.
My mouth found his, and he began to thrust in and out, massaging my prostate. “Fuck me,” I gasped, breaking off the kiss and pushing my ass towards him as he pushed in and pulling back as he pulled out…and again…again…again…
“Honey, I am. Can’t you feel it?” he teased.
I stopped moving and gave him my best disgruntled look. “This is no time for dumb jokes!” I exclaimed. “Give it to me,” I said, trying for sensual and seductive but probably sounding more desperate than anything else.
“Like this?” he said as he thrust harder, pressing against my prostate.
“Yeah, please, yeah,” I whimpered, embarrassingly enough. “More, harder,” I gasped.
“Anything you want, sweetheart,” he answered and then began to really pummel my ass. “Fuck, Darr, you have the most amazing hole,” he panted against my ear. “Perfect for filling with my charged load – and here it...aaah,” he groaned as he slammed against me. I could feel his cock twitching as he unleashed his cum inside me, the rhythmic contractions against my prostate bringing me off at the same time. We kissed hungrily as the pleasure peaked and then ebbed, leaving us sweaty and relaxed.
Mike pulled out carefully, then pulled my duvet over us and took me in his arms, pressing a kiss on the top of my head.
“I’m ready for more sleep after that workout,” he said with a post-coital yawn.
I reached over, grabbed my phone from the nightstand and set an alarm to give us a couple hours to nap.
“I don’t think we can make the Empire State today,” I said sleepily.
“It’s not going anywhere, right?” Mike murmured back.
I laughed a little. “Guess not,” and let myself fall asleep.
Late that afternoon, we returned to the apartment having spent time sightseeing in midtown. It occurred to me that not getting to the Empire State or Top of the Rock was not a problem. In fact, it was probably better that we hadn’t gone anyplace with an admission fee, given how touchy Mike seemed on the subject of money.
We started by checking out the elaborate Macy’s holiday window displays, and even got to see a laser-light show on the façade of the building to the tune of “Carol of the Bells.” Then Rockefeller Center for the immense Christmas tree, which I informed Mike was really mine but I was happy to share it with others, including him. As a small child my nanny had told me that to appease my desire for a tree in our home, something neither of my parents would consent to. We weren’t incredibly religious, but along with no pork that was one of the hard lines that they insisted on.
A fellow sightseer agreed to snap a picture of us on my phone with the tree and the display of towering toy soldiers arrayed around it as a backdrop. Then we’d walked over to Grand Central Station and milled around with the tourists, gawking at the ceilings in the Main Concourse with their representation of the major constellations and browsing at the annual Holiday Fair.
Mike insisted on buying me lunch, so I said we had to get real New York pizza, even though it meant he’d never enjoy the mediocre stuff we got at school as much. Before we headed back home, I took him on a short walk up Park Avenue to admire the glass skyscrapers that lined the boulevard and the evergreen trees festooned with twinkling lights that were situated on the traffic islands. We made a quick stop at Zabar’s for the pita chips my mom wanted and I picked up an apple cake for dessert that night.
Maxi greeted us as if we’d been gone for months rather than days, barking excitedly, and demanding that we pay attention to him immediately. Once he was appeased, we went to the kitchen so I could put away the cake and leave the chips out for my mother, with Maxi sticking close to us in the event we ate something that he could beg for.
My mom was in the kitchen, putting dishes in the dishwasher. Her hair was up in an elegant chignon in preparation for the evening out, which looked somewhat incongruous with the apron she wore over her sweater and pants.
“Hi, did you two have a nice day?” she asked.
I had to quell the urge to giggle as I thought of how we’d spent most of the morning.
“We, uh, decided to take a nap, and then went to midtown. We didn’t really have time for the Empire State, though.”
“We’ll get there another day,” Mike added.
“Why are you doing dishes now?” I asked. We’d run the breakfast dishes before we left, and none of us were home to have eaten lunch.
My mother sighed and said “Your father had a terrible day at work.”
“Uh-oh,” I said.
“He barely got to take a break, only ate a half a sandwich and some chips for lunch, so I made him Welsh rarebit, he drank some herbal tea and now he’s taking a nap. What would you like for dinner?”
“Mom, don’t worry about it, shouldn’t you be resting or getting ready?” I said, glancing at the clock, which read 4:30 PM. “What time is everyone getting here?”
“In an hour,” she said, “but…”
“Mother,” I said as sternly as possible, “I know how to use the microwave, I’ll take care of it. And we’ll set up everything for cocktails, too. Go lie down with Dad, or in the library if you want. You’ve had a long day too.”
“You’re right,” she conceded. “Thanks. There’s salad in the crisper and turkey meatloaf and pureed parsnips in the freezer, along with broccoli or…”
“Mom – bed!” I snapped.
“Fine, fine,” she said as she left to take a few minutes for herself.
“You’re such a good son, sweetheart,” Mike said.
“I know,” I answered in a honeyed voice that made Mike laugh.
I was just finishing putting out the Mediterranean platter and extra chips on the dining room table when the doorbell rang and Maxi started barking. I always wondered if he thought that we were deaf or clueless and so he had to alert us that someone was at the door.
“Mike, can you get it?” I asked. It was time to get the white wine out of the refrigerator; the wine glasses were already in place. I heard Uncle Jeffy greet Mike, and introduce him to Aunt Dita and Em. As I put down the bottles of wine down along with a corkscrew, I heard Aunt Dita calling “Darren!”
“Aunt Dita,” I said back and moved towards her for a hug. She was dressed in emerald green lace that clung to her generous curves. With gold jewelry and clutch purse and gold sandals flashing from under the hem of her gown, she looked very festive in keeping with the holiday season. Her crowning glory, a blazing mane of red hair was swept over her right shoulder, held in place with combs that gleamed with what I assumed were faux-emeralds. Christina Hendricks, move over.
“You look wonderful,” she said as she held me away from her and studied me. “I’ve been so worried about you, though your parents and Jeff said you were doing beautifully.”
Aunt Dita was like a second mother to me. She and my mom along with Dad and Uncle Jeffy had formed a four-person “village” that had raised Em and me, albeit with the assistance of full-time nannies.
Uncle Jeffy greeted me with a bro-hug, looking very distinguished in his tuxedo. And right behind him was Em, my very best friend, next to Mike now, of course. She was something of a carbon copy of her mother: the same voluptuous figure and red hair, though she had her father’s patrician nose and jawline and his height, too. Em had always towered over me and most of the boys in our class. She was in a purple sweater and jeans with Uggs, perfect travel-wear.
“Milky!” she exclaimed spreading her arms wide.
“Goldie!” I answered back, mirroring the gesture.
“You stupid bimbo!” we said in unison as we hugged one another. “How the hell are you?”
Mike observed us with bemusement as my mother joined us saying, “Must you greet each other like that?”
“Aw Ma,” I said as Em and I disengaged. “We’re just joking.”
She rolled her eyes and shook her head, then turned to Aunt Dita.
“Mimi,” Aunt Dita said, sounding awed. “Where on earth did you get that dress?” she asked as she walked around my mom, checking out the slim black beaded cocktail dress she wore. It glittered with every move and served as the perfect backdrop to her favorite jewelry – the pearls my dad had given her as a “push” gift when I was born – along with a pair of black patent leather pumps.
“Vintage,” my mom said, clearly pleased by the praise. “Ken will be here in a minute,” she said. “He had a rough day.”
Uncle Jeffy sighed deeply. “He makes things harder than they need to be,” he told us. “I had to force him to leave early, he was driving the rest of the team insane. The associates and paralegals were better off finishing and filing the documents without him breathing down their necks.”
“I heard that,” my dad called out as he joined us having finished putting on his tuxedo.
“You were meant to,” Uncle Jeffy said back, not displaying an iota of embarrassment.
“Have some wine Dad,” I said as I poured him some of his favorite merlot. Em and Mike were already sipping glasses of chilled chardonnay and nibbling on hummus and pita chips. “White or red?” I offered the others.
As we drank and nibbled and Maxi begged for handouts, everyone relaxed, exchanging small talk about school, work, health, the news, the weather, and so on. I was glad to see that Mike and Em seemed to be getting on very well.
“You’re considering law school I hear,” Aunt Dita said to Mike.
“Oh, uh, yeah,” he answered, clearly surprised at how quickly that fact had spread. After all, it was only yesterday that he’d mentioned the idea to my dad. “Watching your husband has been really inspiring,” Mike said earnestly.
Game, set and match to Michael Prescott, I thought to myself as Aunt Dita gave him a dazzling smile.
“Well Jeff and Ken will be more than happy to help you in any way you need. For that matter, so will I and so will Mimi. And much as I hate to leave such charming company, we have to go – the limo should be waiting downstairs by now.”
“Wait,” Em said, pulling out her phone. “You look so cute, we have to get pictures of you and send them to the family,” she said archly as she snapped a few photos of our parents in their formal wear.
I picked up on my cue. “Yes, you look so nice when you’re dressed up,” I gushed. “It’s a pity you don’t do it more often.”
“That’s enough from both of you,” said my mother. “You’ve gotten your revenge.”
Our mothers had fussed over us the same way when we were on our way to an expensive restaurant last summer to celebrate our graduation from high school. Em and I exchanged a high five. Coats were retrieved and goodbyes were exchanged.
“We have to get together again while the kids are here,” Aunt Dita said as they exited. “We could all go to brunch or dinner or something?” she suggested as my mom nodded in agreement.
“Now don’t stay out too late,” I lectured as they waited for the elevator, “and don’t drink too much wine, be careful how much coffee you have or you won’t be able to sleep and be sure to thank the hostess before you leave…”
“I hope the elevator gets here before I commit murder,” my father interrupted.
I closed the door, grinning from ear to ear.
Em immediately started laughing hysterically, and Mike and I joined her.
We went back to the dining room for more hors d’oeuvres and wine.
“Okay, Milky, it’s time to spill the dirt,” Em said.
“Oh, Goldie…” I started.
“Sorry,” Mike interrupted, “but I have to ask – Milky I get: Darren, Dairy, Milky. But Goldie?” he said looking from me to Em.
I started to giggle. “I came up with it after she started calling me Milky,” I said.
“Darren M. Low-on-wits…” Em gritted out warningly.
Now I could hardly get the words out because I was laughing so hard. “Her full name is Emmeline Amelia Ward. So that became Emmy Award, and the Emmys are gold statues…” I couldn’t finish as I dissolved laughing at my own joke. Mike grinned at me and shook his head.
“You know it’s really too bad, Milky. You found a hunky, sweet guy, but I’m going to have to kill him because you told him my real name,” Em remarked casually.
I just laughed harder.
“He’s his own best audience,” Em said to Mike.
“So I’ve noticed,” Mike agreed.
“Now just a second,” I said, trying to stem my laughter.
“Have some more wine, Milky,” Em said. “You’re obviously a little buzzed.”
I finally calmed down.
“So?” Em demanded.
“What?” I said back. “Oh. Dirt. Well you’ve probably seen it on the news,” I grumbled.
“I already knew you were a complete slut, Milky,” Em said, stroking my cheek.
“Hey!” I said. “It’s not like I had that many guys while we were in high school.”
“Yep, but it wasn’t for lack of trying,” Em teased.
“Really?” Mike said.
“Don’t listen to her,” I said.
“Milky was attracted to a slew of jerks…” Em continued.
“Not that much happened with any of them,” I said, starting to feel flustered.
“That’s what made them jerks, honey,” Mike said, covering one of my hands with his.
I paused and looked at him. “You always know the right thing to say,” I sighed.
“Okay, now we’re talking,” Em said, her green eyes sparkling. “Honey?”
“It’s just a…nickname,” I said.
“Yeah, and what does he call you?” Em said to Mike.
“Don’t…” I started.
“Michaelicious,” Mike supplied. I gave him what I hoped was a withering look.
“Vintage Milky,” Em crowed. “How did you meet?”
“It was at orientation,” I said, and told her my edited version.
“Wow,” Em said, sobered by the end of the story, how Mike had rescued me from the murderous clutches of the football coach. “How could he do that to my sweet Milky?” she asked plaintively.
“He was an über-jerk,” Mike assured her.
“God, I’m so glad you were there,” Em said, now serious as she took Mike’s hand. “This is my brother by another mother,” she added gesturing at me.
Mike looked acutely uncomfortable. I sighed inwardly. He’d never quite gotten over his guilt about the whole thing no matter what I said.
“Okay, sis, I’m ready for dinner.” I said to redirect the conversation. “You?”
“Fine with me,” Em answered.
“Sure,” Mike said, relieved to have the spotlight off of him.
We moved to the kitchen, and I got out the salad; the table was already set. I followed that with my mom’s special turkey meatloaf.
“Milky,” Em said, “your mom is the only person in the universe who actually makes delicious meatloaf.”
“And it’s so good for you, too. She uses herbs, spices, wheat berries…” I said sounding like an announcer for a Cooking Network show.
“Don’t ruin it by telling me it’s nutritious,” Em complained, covering her ears with her hands.
Mike cleared the table while I got out dessert dishes. “Coffee? Tea?” I offered.
Beverage selections made, we dug into apple cake.
“Okay, your turn Goldie,” I said. “Dirt.”
She sipped her tea, then said “Not much to tell.”
“Yeah, right,” I said.
“Really,” Em answered with a disgruntled sigh. “I’m surrounded by short, geeky, sexist nerds with the emotional intelligence of 12-year-olds. They mostly make really clumsy jokes or passes, and then won’t listen to me when we have to do projects.”
“But Uncle Jeffy told me you loved MIT.”
“That was then,” she said sourly. “I swear that if one more guy calls me “Red” or “Boomers” I’m going to end up in jail.”
“What happened to letting them ogle ‘the girls’ while you quietly take over?” I said. That was how Aunt Dita had described her coping strategy in her work in academia.
“Engineers are not psychologists, Milky. These are guys who decorate their dorm rooms with Transformers posters. I’m surprised they don’t use lunch boxes with Obi-Wan Kenobe on the front.”
“Eew,” I said wrinkling my nose. “What are you going to do?”
She sighed. “I’m looking into transferring,” she admitted. “Maybe Harvard or Columbia or NYU.”
“But MIT was your dream school,” I said shocked at how discouraged she sounded.
“Yeah, well, I wanted to be a ballerina when I was five. Things don’t always work out the way you think they will. At least if I were in New York I could still get decent pizza and there are all-night diners.”
I smiled mischievously. “And of course Matt is doing pre-med at Columbia…”
“Shut up, Milky,” Em said.
“Matt?” Mike asked tentatively.
“Her high school boyfriend. He was a on the basketball team so…”
“I said to shut up, Milky.”
“Uh-huh,” I said.
Em took a deep breath. “All right, we’ve been texting all semester and he misses me and I miss him. Satisfied?”
“Completely,” I said with a smug smile. “Let’s move into the living room, it’ll be more comfortable. More cake or tea or…?” I asked.
We made the move, and Maxi followed us there, jumping up on the sofa and making himself comfortable on my lap. Mike sat next to me, Em took one of the armchairs.
“So we’ve covered the romantic front,” Goldie said. “Are you playing any?”
Uh-oh. Danger ahead.
“Every chance we get,” I said in a breathy voice.
“Milky,” Em said in a warning voice.
“No.” I said. “And I don’t want to talk about it.”
“What are you talking about?” Mike said.
“You’re going to pay for this, Goldie. I played the piano until I went to college.”
Em threw me a disbelieving look. “Milky, saying that you played piano is like saying that Nadal plays tennis or A-Rod was a Yankee. He’s a prodigy,” she informed Mike.
“I hate that word,” I grumbled.
“What word would you prefer?” Em said. “He’s amazing. Got into Juilliard prep when he was nine playing an audition that his teacher said would put a lot of the undergrad applicants to shame.”
Mike looked surprised and as if something was now finally clear to him. “Honey?” he said.
I exhaled sharply. “Fine. Yes I made it into Juilliard Prep, I won some competitions…”
“‘Won some competitions?’” Em repeated. “You won everything you entered. He made his concerto debut with orchestra when he was 11.”
“Yeah, with some regional pick-up group,” I said dismissively. “And I didn’t win the one thing I really wanted, Yale School of Music.”
“Bullshit, Milky, you didn’t want Yale. You wanted Juilliard and you were accepted but your parents, really your dad, said no.”
“Wait, wait,” Mike said. “You got into Juilliard and your parents said no and sent you to school in rural Pennsylvania?”
“Yep, that sums it up,” I said, hugging Maxi as I remembered how painful it’d been.
“So why aren’t you a music major?” Mike asked.
“There. Just what I’d like to know,” Em said.
I felt my face twist into a scowl. “Because there wasn’t time to audition.”
“But your dad could have…called someone or something,” Mike said.
“We had an…argument…about it,” I said, though calling that fight an argument was something like calling World War II a border dispute.
“I knew it,” said Em.
I stuck my tongue out at her.
“An argument?” Mike prompted.
I gave up. “No. More like an epic battle that lasted most of the summer,” I sighed, recalling the screaming fights we’d had as I petted Maxi’s head in hopes of lowering my blood pressure. “I told him there was no point in studying music if I wasn’t going to go to the best school I could.”
“And…” Em said, gesturing.
“He said fine. And that was it,” I said feeling my eyes sting a little. “I played my last concert in August and retired at the peak of my career,” I said sarcastically.
“Sweetheart, this is why you sit in the window seat, listen to classical music and look like you want to cry.”
I nodded, not willing to trust my voice not to crack. I took a deep breath and exhaled it, calming myself. “So does that answer your question, Goldie?” I said, trying for off-hand but getting closer to petulant. “The answer is no, I haven’t played at all. Next?”
“Will you play something now?” Mike asked.
A tug-of-war ensued in my chest. I’d dealt with the whole issue by not dealing with it. I was all wrapped up with the battle at the frat at the beginning of the semester, and I figured I’d find something else to do eventually. I avoided even looking at the beautiful rosewood piano my grandparents had given me for my Bar Mitzvah whenever I was home.
“I haven’t even touched a piano in months. I’m not sure I remember how,” I said.
“Bullshit again, Milky. You were a natural from the start.”
“Whatever,” I said.
“You want to see a video?” Em asked Mike.
“Oh, no,” I said. “Not fair.”
“Shut up Milky,” Em said as she pulled out her phone and opened YouTube.
“I knew I should have taken those fucking things down,” I grumbled.
“You didn’t post all of them,” Em answered with a satisfied smile.
“Fine. I’m going to get the dishes started,” I said, putting Maxi to one side. “Anyone for more tea or cake or something?” I asked.
“We’ll be fine,” Em said as she located the video of me playing the Mozart Concerto 18 in B flat with orchestra. “He did this a couple of years ago. The orchestra hired him to play on a regular concert. Doesn’t he look cute in his white tie and tails?”
I heard the opening of the first movement, the quiet, quasi-martial motif, as if hearing a military band from a distance. And that was all I could take, it was too painful, I went to the kitchen with Maxi in tow and began cleaning up the dinner dishes, making as much noise as I could so I wouldn’t be able to hear anything more. I carefully cleaned the table, the sink and all the counters, then decided to pull out the espresso machine and make us all cappuccino, hoping that it would fill enough time that I wouldn’t have to listen to my past. As a last stalling tactic, I gave Maxi one of his treats, then washed my hands at the kitchen sink.
When I ventured out of the kitchen bearing three cappuccinos and three slices of apple cake, the concerto was just finishing. I heard the applause erupt from the tinny speaker on Em’s phone, and was transported back to that moment, the rush I felt as everyone, including the orchestra, cheered and clapped. It was almost unbearable.
“Okay, through rummaging through my closet for skeletons?” I said as I set down the tray on the coffee table. “No, Maxi, apple cake isn’t good for you,” I told the dog who was giving me his best I’m starving look.
“Honey, that was amazing,” Mike said enthusiastically.
“Thanks,” I mumbled.
“Did you ever play with that orchestra before?”
“It was the Southwestern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, right?”
I stared at him, flummoxed. “How did you know that? I barely remember.”
“We used to go to their concerts.”
“Really?” Em said.
“Yeah, we were homeschooled by a group of moms, and they were determined to emphasize ‘the classics.’ It was fun, really. At least it was a break from chores on the farm.”
“Milky, this guy is perfect!”
“Okay, but why do you ask if I played with them before?” I asked Mike.
“I think I might have seen you with them.”
“Yeah, I remember this little kid, really, coming out and bringing down the house.”
“I made my concerto debut with them,” I said. “They have an annual competition and I won it when I was 11…” I trailed off. “You couldn’t have been there, that’s too weird.”
“I’m pretty sure I was. You played a wild little modern piece as an encore…”
“It was just Bartok,” I interjected.
“Well whatever, our parents were outraged that you were playing what they called ‘modern trash.’”
“Milky,” Em said slowly. “Your dream is coming true…he heard you and fell in love and now…”
“Oh cut it out, Goldie.”
“Sherbet?” Mike said, completely confused.
“That’s bashert” I snapped.
“Whatever, you know what I mean,” Em said dismissively.
“Huh?” Mike said.
“Bashert is Yiddish for, uh, fated or meant to be,” I explained.
“Or soulmate,” Em added.
“I suppose that explains it,” Mike said.
“Explains what?” I asked.
“I got your autograph that night, I still have the program somewhere at my parent’s house.”
I just stared at him.
“I guess you don’t remember,” he said a little sadly.
I gulped. “No, I do. You were the first person who ever asked for my autograph. That was you?” I vaguely remembered a tall, lanky dark-haired guy with a tendency to stoop, bad acne and a mouthful of braces.
“Yeah,” Mike said, grinning at me. “Guess I changed a little since then.”
“Sherbet,” Em said.
“Okay, now you’re just yanking my chain, Goldie.”
“What are best friends for?” she said with an impossibly sweet smile.
I just rolled my eyes and bit my tongue.
“Now will you play something?” Em asked.
I sighed. “Oh-kay,” and went to the piano.
I seated myself, adjusted the piano bench, raised my hands dramatically, and played a single note: middle C.
“Very funny, Milky. You’re just hilarious.”
“I know,” I answered.
“Play a piece of music…”
So I launched into a high-speed rendition of Chopsticks.
“A real piece of music, Milky,” Em shouted over my banging. “A Bach prelude.”
I immediately shifted into playing the first prelude of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, the easiest one of the bunch.
“Real funny, Darr,” Mike said. “That’s Gounod.”
My jaw dropped and I stopped. “How did you know…I mean, it’s Bach, but Gounod borrowed it for his Ave Maria.”
“Emphasis on the classics,” quoted Em. “Play your favorite one.”
I felt a small ball of dread in the pit of my stomach, but gave in and started the B flat minor Prelude, a slow, solemn processional with a steady beat and some really delicious harmonies. When I finished, the room was silent. Even Maxi was curled up next to the piano bench as he’d always done when I practiced.
“Wow,” Mike said. “That was…I mean, you’re like…awesome.”
“What’d I tell you?” Em said. I was unsure whether she was directing her comment to me or to Mike.
“That’s one of things you’d sit and hum along with, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah,” I said in little more than a whisper. Then I pulled myself together and said, “Okay, I’ve sung for my supper. Can I have my cappuccino now?”
We finished the coffee and cake, then Em said she was tired and needed to get some sleep. I promised that we’d spend more time together during the break.
“And be sure to invite Matt,” I added slyly.
“Fine,” Em said matter-of-factly. “I will. It was great meeting you, Mike. It’s good to see Milky found a guy who appreciates him. But one thing: hurt him and I’ll break both of your kneecaps.”
“Emmeline…” I said between gritted teeth.
“No, that’s fine,” Mike said. “Same here.”
I reflected on that somewhat ambiguous comment while Em put on her coat and prepared to walk to her parent’s place.
“Should you be out alone after dark?” Mike asked. “Can we get you a cab or something?”
Em smiled, and said “This one’s definitely a keeper, Milky. My parent’s place is around the corner, practically next door, don’t worry. Bye-bye Maxi,” she said and stooped to pet him. He hated it when anyone left.
“So,” I said. “Now what?” thinking we’d take advantage of my parent’s absence to fuck some more. Still working on that sero-conversion…
“Will you play some more for me?” Mike asked.
“Okay, if you really want,” I said as we made our way back to the living room. He took a seat on the armchair closest to the piano.
“What do you want to hear?” I asked.
“Whatever you want. But no chopsticks! Something…romantic?” Mike said.
He’d just hit on one of my fantasies, playing sweet music for the guy I was dating. My high school boyfriends hadn’t ever wanted to go there. I chose my favorite Chopin Nocturne, the one in D flat major. My hands felt clumsy, simultaneously stiff and weak. It’d been a long time since I’d tried to play anything that required any kind of fluency, but I made my way through it with a few small stumbles.
Mike beamed at me when it was over. “Thanks.” Then he turned serious. “Do you miss it honey?”
Another of those moments when I couldn’t talk, so I just nodded.
“Okay, we’re going to get that back for you,” Mike said.
“But…” I began.
“Sweetheart? Shut up.”