Chapter 1 - night“I need help Agricola and Vine” is all that Jonathan’s text read, but that was enough to get me to put on my snow boots and my winter coat and head out to scrape off the car. There was just something off about those six words, sent to me at 11:24 pm on a quiet Tuesday night, that made me believe I had to go.
Also, he hadn’t answered any of my texts in response.
Big snowflakes were starting to fall as I pulled out of my building’s parking lot. Agricola was not too close, but with very little traffic on the roads at this hour, it didn’t take me long to reach it. I don’t know what I was expecting - a flat tire, a broken leg? - but a coatless and very drunk Jonathan leaning on the side of a brick building was not it.
“Mara,” he said. “You came for me. You’re here.”
“What happened? Are you okay?” I asked as I approached him. That last question was an obvious no. His dark hair was disheveled and his eyes were unfocused in a way I’d never seen before. You see, Jonathan doesn’t drink. Never touched a drop in the four years I’ve known him. He’s never said why and I’ve never asked. Lotta good reasons not to drink, but some of them aren’t something you’d want to share with just anybody.
Not that I’m just anybody. Jonathan and I worked together at a nonprofit for two years and became workplace buds. I might have been interested in more, but, well, he had a girlfriend. We kept in touch. I have to admit we’ve gotten closer in the past six months, which maybe not coincidentally is how long it’s been since his girlfriend dumped him for some dude she met at her crossfit box. But I didn’t think I’d reached distress call status.
“I lost my keys,” said Jonathan blearily. “And my car.” He looked down the empty street as if expecting his Nissan to materialize.
“What happened?” I ask again. But it’s no use.
“I don’t think I should be driving anyway,” Jonathan informed me. “I’ve had a few, several, a lot of whiskeys.”
“Okay,” I said, opening the passenger door of my Civic. “You can come back and find your car tomorrow. Your chariot awaits.
I end up having practically man-handle him into the seat. As I’m only 5’3 and he’s 6’2 and 200 and something pounds - I’m not sure exactly but the “and something” is definitely a higher number than it used to be - this is a feat. My arm sinks into his soft side but I am too worried to pay attention to that the way I normally would.
“Take me home, Lara. Lara Croft. My rescuer. Wait, take me to Burger King. I need to soak this up,” he babbles as I start the car.
Well, I’m not one to refuse when a handsome man tells me he needs to stuff his face full of fattening food. There’s a BK not far away and I pull into the drive thru lane.
“What do you want?” I ask.
“Isn’t that the question,” he says. “But a bacon and cheese whopper meal with a side of chicken nuggets, a coke, onion rings and a caramel sundae.”
What is happening. Am I dreaming?
I repeat his order to the tiny voice on the intercom. I pay and pass him the paper bag. He unwraps a burger and bites in as if he is starving. By the time I get home, every crumb is gone.
Jonathan rubs a greasy hand on his shirt. “Oof. That hit the spot.”
I let him lean on me as we make our way inside. The mirrored wall of the elevator shows our reflection- a small, dark-haired woman propping up a tall man with a thick frame and a distinctly rounded gut. We look good together, touching like this.
In my apartment, I decant him onto the couch while I rummage for spare sheets, blankets and pillows. Obviously I’m not going to get any sense out of him tonight. When I come back into the living room, he is a sight. His shirt is rucked up, revealing the flabby lower belly that laps over his belt, and his hand is massaging his firm, puffy upper belly, stuffed from his recent meal. I stop, staring.
He opens his eyes and looks at me. “Mara, my angel. You like this, don’t you.”
He squeezes a roll of belly to make his meaning clear. It’s not a question. I can feel my cheeks heating up. My tongue is caught between the reflexive lie of no and the long guarded truth of yes. I can’t squeak out an answer.
“Why haven’t you kissed me yet?” He asks, plaintively. “Don’t you want to?”
“Of course I want to!” I snap back. “But you’re drunk. I can’t.”
He rubs his belly sensually. “Please touch me,” he begs. Against my better judgment I step forward. Set down the pile of bedding in my arms. Place my hands on the beckoning globe of his gut.
He moans as I make contact with his soft skin. His belly is lightly dusted with hairs, a thicker trail of them running down from his bellybutton toward his pants. He lets out a burp as I massage his firm flesh. I’m not sure either of us are breathing for a moment. He reaches down and undoes his belt. I can see a red mark where it has been biting into his side. I keep my hand high, aware of the temptation to go lower. Behave, Mara.
Slowly he settles and his head slumps. He is asleep. I cover him in blankets. Then I sit awake a long time.
2 chapters, created 2 years , updated 2 years
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