When we’re old enough to know better
I woke up on Saturday full of renewed energy. I had taken the bold step of casting my doubts aside about Joe and given him another chance. It had been no small feat to make him go home after he drove us back to my place after dinner the night before. I wanted him and knew he wanted me.
We’d had great conversation over dinner and he reminded me how funny he could be by making me laugh repeatedly. Learning a little more about his history and lifestyle didn’t exactly reduce my level of doubt about his suitability as a potential life partner. If anything, maybe I felt a bit more doubtful.
But, I had promised myself I would dismiss my doubts and give him a fair chance. I didn’t want to become embroiled in the turmoil of being in a constant state of conflict over him again. So what if he had a badly bruised heart that may have never fully healed since he was in college? I certainly had my share of battle scars at this stage in my life.
At minimum, I was in search of a nice guy to go out with. Boredom and loneliness had become my constant companions these last 5 years since my husband left. It seemed Joe could certainly fill this void. If I was careful with my heart, I would be protected if it turned out he was in fact a killer.
I had been around the block enough times to know that no man in existence could meet my every need. I had dated a couple of guys just for their money, looks, or sexual prowess. I had been married to a brilliant scientist and artist.
The question before me now was where might Joe fit into my life? He was pursuing me enthusiastically. We had talked about a possible “arrangement” without going into detail. My intuition told me he was basically safe to be around. I couldn’t forget that I had found a gun in his closet. Maybe I could just keep him around for fun. I got the distinct impression from him that he wasn’t looking for much more than that, either. We might actually be perfect for each other.
I was able to return to my productive life of writing my novel over the next several days now that I had put my doubts about Joe to rest. I still thought about him, but now it was more like daydreaming. He continued to text me throughout the day. I no longer felt like I was being stalked, but rather courted.
The question of going away with him to his beach house for the weekend came up in the course of our conversation. I had told him I would think about it. I figured spending a couple of nights with him would line up with my plan to give him a fair chance. It had also been a very long time since I had taken a lover.
By Wednesday he was pressing me for an answer about the weekend. I agreed to go. I made appointments for a haircut, waxing my legs, and a manicure for Thursday. I made sure my sons were going to be around over the weekend to take care of the dog. I dug out my best resort wear and a few bathing suits.
Friday rolled around quickly. Joe picked me up at 1:30 in the afternoon and we had a leisurely drive down the New Jersey Parkway ahead of the weekend traffic.
Of course his beach house was in Loveladies, the most expensive town at the end of Long Beach Island. It was almost at the furthest end of the island, and right on the beach.
It was an enormous, contemporary style home with walls of glass overlooking the ocean. It was more impressive than his primary residence. He must have had staff in residence before our arrival because the house was lit up like a glass palace and was fully stocked with plenty of food and drinks for the weekend. The air conditioning was humming outside.
I could see the pool and hot tub area on the deck on the beach side of the house when I got out of the car.
Joe asked me if I wanted to have dinner out on the deck or inside with air conditioning. I suggested we eat outside so we could get right into the hot tub after we ate.
We were served an elegant, candlelit dinner on the deck overlooking the ocean. Wine helped me to relax. I was enjoying the change of scenery and Joe’s company. I wondered why I had hesitated about spending time with him. He had amazing eyes and a very hot body.
“How’s the water?”, I asked when we finished dessert.
“Do you mean the ocean?”
“Nope.” I glanced at the hot tub.
He kicked off his shoes and stepped into the tub. “It’s pretty hot”, he said.
I stood up and took off my clothes. Joe looked like he had expected this.
I got into the tub and sat down in front of the jets. It was beautiful. Late day sun shone on the ocean off the deck. I was sure I was doing the right thing.
Of course Joe followed my lead and stripped and joined me in the tub. Men were so easy.
The hot water seemed to melt us together. I remembered being with him in his hot tub at his home. He was a great kisser. I had forgotten what skin on skin felt like.
In the same way it had at his other house, things got a little too hot in that tub.
We walked up the steps and toweled ourselves off with the warm towels that were waiting for us on the chairs beside the pool.
No sooner had we gotten comfortable in the chaise lounges and champagne appeared.
“Do you spend much time here?” I asked.
“It’s easier to get here during the week when I have to tend bar on the weekends at The Highlawn Pavillion.”
I was reminded that he was a bartender. Don’t go there, Miranda, I thought.
“I wanna see the house.”
“Let’s go,” he said as he winked at me with one of those deep blue eyes.
We jumped up wrapped in our towels and went inside where it felt very cold. My hair was still wet and the air conditioning was blasting.
Joe sensed that I was freezing and asked me if I wanted something to wear. I remembered searching his closet for a robe and finding a gun.
“Sure”, I said. “What have you got?”
“Come with me,” he said.
I followed him upstairs and into the master suite overlooking the ocean. I was overwhelmed by the magnificence of the decor. Clearly, he had a decorator.
He lit the gas fireplace in the bedroom and pointed me towards the closet. “Help yourself,” he said.
“Joe, I’ve been meaning to ask you about something I saw in your closet back home.”
“Oh, what was that?”
“When I was looking through your clothes for a robe, I came across a gun in a holster on one of the hangers. It made me a little uncomfortable. Why do you keep a gun in your closet?”
“Well, that’s kind of a long story”
I got comfortable on the suede couch. “Go ahead.”
“About 10 years ago, I was involved with a woman who I loved very much. One night while we were sleeping, there was a home invasion and they killed her in front of me. The only way I could feel safe in my house after that was if I knew I had a gun for protection.”
“How awful. Do you keep a gun here, too?”
“Yes, it’s in the closet. Let me get you a robe.”
Our relaxed mood had been disturbed by my questions.
Joe helped wrap me in his robe.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I shouldn’t ask so many questions.”
“No, no, no”, he said. “I want you to be comfortable with me.” He smiled.
He walked over to the couch where I was sitting and sat down next to me. There was a powerful magnetic pull between us. Suddenly, I felt safe and warm with this stranger I had been so suspicious about. We easily picked up where we had left off in the steamy hot tub earlier that evening. Damn, I thought, this felt so good.
We made love in his king sized bed near the fire several times that night. I was amazed by his skill as a lover. I wondered why I let myself miss this beautiful part of life for so long. I had a spectacular night’s sleep.
About an hour after I saw the sun rise outside the wall of glass, a quiet, discreet staff person placed breakfast trays in front of us in bed. I could get used to this, I thought. Maybe this could be the type of “arrangement” Joe had alluded to.
The rest of the weekend flew too fast. I became comfortable with Joe and felt at home in his house. We spent Saturday lounging by the pool and took long walks on the beach. We still didn’t have a lot to talk about, but I didn’t care.
Our lovemaking Saturday night was just as, if not more, intense than it had been on Friday.
We were sad to leave on Sunday. I was quiet in the car as we drove back to reality. I was thinking about the possibilities for an “arrangement” with Joe.
It was without much discussion that Joe and I became friends and lovers. It seemed we were using each other at a certain level, but it totally worked for both of us. My hopes had been proven to have merit, and my doubts had been shown to be a useless waste of time and energy.