Her Best Friend's Son Ch. 01
This story builds slowly with characters and dialog. It gets racy eventually, but takes a while.
"Was Jeremy any bother?" asked Susan.
And Jeremy was that boy. Although at twenty-three years now, a young man really. Angela took a gulp of milky tea.
"Yes, thank you so much for helping. Do you think he had a good time?"
"Um, I'm sure he had a good time," Angela managed.
"Oh, that seems a bit unfair. He's very friendly..."
"Really!" Susan couldn't keep the incredulity out of her voice. "I mean," she sputtered, feeling for some reason that she needed to justify the force of her comment. "I thought he's had a string of girlfriends?"
Angela felt something twist inside at this description of Jeremy's draw on girls. She tried to ignore it. "Oh, I'm sure you have nothing to worry about," she assured her friend. "Just notice," she continued awkwardly, "how he looks at women."
Her tone sounded sharp to Angela, and she struggled not to feel defensive. Oh God, don't you get it, Angela thought. Me. At least I think so. Hope so? How your all -grown-up son looked me over during breakfast like I had forgotten to put my bra on when I got dressed. Which she knew was unfair. It wasn't that he stared. It's just that...she couldn't shake the feeling that he noticed her more than she had remembered being noticed for a long time.
Susan sighed, sounding unconvinced. "You seem hesitant. Perhaps you're being polite and it wasn't fair to dump Jeremy on you. You've been under so much stress this last year, with that bastard Peter leaving you so suddenly..."
"Oh, I do hope you are right, Angie. I just, you know, wish some lovely woman would take him under her wing and you know, seduce him for once. Properly seduce him. Not like those flirty young things. Really get his attention off work. Don't you think that would be good for him?"
Angela realized that it would make total sense, right now, to tell Susan that her son had left a t-shirt behind accidentally - wadded up in the spare room bed sheets. A creased, sweat-stained t-shirt that had clearly seen a lot of wear over the years. Maybe a sentimental favorite. But if she told her about it, could she stop herself from admitting that it was instead now wadded up in the bed that she had once shared with Peter. Still just as creased and sweat-stained, although now with likely a hint of female fragrance added in from being worn by her as a kind of nightie the last two nights. A silly romantic urge, she clucked silently to herself, more in keeping with one of those young woman who had tried and failed to win Jeremy as boyfriend. Not the act of Susan's trustworthy middle-aged friend.
Feeling awkward, Angela found herself sparring with her oldest friend. "Really, Susan, would it be such a terrible thing if Jeremy were gay? I thought you were quite the modern liberal?"
Angela was about to correct her friend's terminology, that women's lib was so hopelessly outdated as a term that it...but that was the point. It showed how dated they both were. She dropped it. "I'm sure he's going to work out just fine Susan.'
"Hey, what's up?" Angela managed to get in first, trying to sound casual.
Angela sighed gratefully, and realized again why she was such an easy if still improbable confidante. Jewel wasn't exactly cockney in her accent, but there was a working class directness, an unpolished tone where nothing was hidden, and somehow therefore no need to maintain the usual polite superficiality.
"Your friend's kid, right? They live a couple of hours north or something? What, was he a pain?"
"Don't go quiet on me! She mad with you or something?"
"He's not is he? What is he, nineteen or something?"
"Twenty-three! Look who's keeping track!"
"It's not is it? So why you needing to talk to your therapist all of a sudden?" It was a standing joke between them, acknowledging that while the 37 year old Angela had been a coach and mentor at the office, it was Jewel who was the one with confident experience in love life. Not that her's had been smooth sailing, but she was the one unhesitant in asking the questions and probing for the real desires and motivations, both of her suitors and of herself.
"Tell me about him." Angela could sense her friend sitting down, resting back against a chair, settling in to listen. She felt a wave of appreciation.
"Short? Plain? Has a speech impediment?"
"Like his mum's?"
"Is he hot?"
"Interesting. But didn't answer my question."
"How long did he stay?"
"And did you fuck him the first night, or wait until the last night and do it as a goodbye gesture?"
"And since he left, how many times have you stroked yourself off?"
"Lost count huh?"
"And, just to put it all in perspective, since Peter walked out six months ago, how many times have you, you know, stroked off?"
"So this Jeremy shows up, son of your best friend, used to be cute little baby-boy kind-of-nephew, now all grown up to be a strapping lad, stays over in your little flat for three nights, fills the place with his curly-hair brown-eyed presence, and leaves you a parting gift of sweaty creased-up t-shirt still warm with his body odour?"
"You been texting him?"
"Don't go all shocked and prissy on me now! You're the one snuggling up with his soiled clothes in your sweaty palm, rubbing yourself off and panting his name into the pillow!"
"Gotcha," Jewel cooed over the line, as intuitive of her classier friend's weak spots as ever.
She turned back into the hallway and saw herself in the full length mirror at the end of the passageway. How would Jeremy have seen her? Old, surely. His old Aunt. But she had to admit that she didn't look old. At least not in that hopeless way. Her cheeks had some colour, her blouse was flatteringly tight around her chest, and her legs looked long as they emerged from the skirt. She eased the hem up a few inches, evaluating what would be the length of that shorter skirt she had picked out for work on the last day that Jeremy had stayed with her. And kept on that evening, not changing when she had got home to find him back already from the interviews and tidying up in the kitchen. No, she had not frumped to her comfortable old workout sweats for the evening. Instead she had lounged on the couch with a glass of wine while he had sat on the floor opposite and she had asked Jeremy about his interviews and he had asked about her day. Now, in the mirror, she toyed with the space at the top of her thigh, until she could glimpse a flash of yellow, even here in the shadowy light of the hallway. Her panties. Wouldn't Jeremy also have seen that glimpse? Surely that's where his eyes had drifted to as they had kept talking, as he had sat comfortably cross-legged with a beer in hand on the low cushion opposite, and she had let herself slump as if tired from her day, the fabric riding up her legs?
Now, with almost angry impulse she unzipped the back of the skirt and thrust it off, casting it to the floor. Her legs telescoped higher, the sides of her thighs revealed by the high cut panties, making the plunge of her V all the more obvious. In the dim light, the bright yellow made a beacon of the shape of her sex, mirroring the growing obsession in her mind. Could he have found her attractive? Could he have been seeing through her clothes with his male gaze and seen this? Not just her body, but her desire? Right now, for the first time for months, she looked at herself and thought - wow! Sexy!
She thought again of young Jeremy sitting in carefree abandon in front of her, holding the long-necked beer bottle in one hand, asking about her day, his eyes on her face, and then drifting...
Her belly felt heavy with longing and sadness and raw want. She looked back at the spare bedroom with its tousled sheets, and walked boldly in. The truth was...she had not stripped the bed and washed them yet not out of laziness. Not it was because she had really wanted to let herself do this, indulge herself like this. She followed her craving and crawled onto the bed, wrapped herself in the memory of him, and waited for the cold linen to turn warm against her skin, imagining that with the heat came also the boyish scent that her nostrils remembered so viscerally. Squeezing her thighs, she ran fingers over that yellow triangle, until she was sure that she could feel with her fingertips what she had already felt inside her body. What if Jeremy had seen this? Not just a glimpse of bright colour, not just a flash of intimate curve, but the tell-tale wet spot spreading out and betraying how she really felt. Felt about his staying over for three nights in the spare bedroom of her flat? She pushed away the fear that he would have been grossed out, shocked by his old Aunt coming on to him in such a tacky way. Nor did she let herself admit why she was still wearing these same panties two days after he had left. That for two mornings in a row she had stumbled out of bed and reached to the floor. To start her day with her used underwear and her shameful memory of daring to come on to a lovely boy.
Angela stood in the kitchen of her London flat, phone in one hand and tea cup in the other. Susan was her best friend, had been for almost twenty years, since they were at Leeds University, she as a newbie student and Susan as the class assistant in Grad School who somehow she had connected with more than her classmates. Maybe because Angela had been delighted to help babysit Susan's five year old son, helping her cope with the sudden divorce, and feel like the older sister she had always longed to be.
"You, mean staying over here for his City interviews?"
Angela had been about to answer the first question, reassure Susan that he'd been wonderfully helpful. Moved the heavy sofa, for example, to the place she had wanted it for some time. But that brought up the image of the young man's masculine shoulders in the cosy space of her flat. She skipped to the second question.
"You really sure? I appreciate you putting him up. Would have been hard for him to really afford a hotel. But I don't know - I worry about him. He seems so focused on work, ever since he left University, I wonder if he's even capable of having fun."
"Friendly, yes, I know. Always the well behaved boy. Raised him well," Angela sensed her friend's self-deprecating grin. "But frankly, Angie, I wonder sometimes if he isn't gay."
"Oh, lots of girls have shown up at the door, as it were. Can you blame them? Given his looks? And that's not just a proud mum speaking - I've seen how they simper and bat their eyes for him. But none of them seem to last."
"What women?" Susan asked.
"Just, you know, in general," she stammered.
"Not at all, Jeremy was totally fine. A complete angel actually. Insisted on helping around the flat. No, he's a lovely boy. I mean young man. And I'm sure he's just, you know, kind of overwhelmed with trying to get started in his career."
Angela was tongue-tied. The image of Jeremy's welcoming smile and tall male presence in her flat - at her kitchen sink, lounging on that sofa as they had watched t.v. - swelled up like a guilty secret. Which was ridiculous. She hadn't done anything wrong. Not a thing. Well, not while the boy was here anyway. And once he had gone...
Angela was five years younger than Susan, but in their friendship they had always treated each other as sharing the same era of womanhood. In their making plans for Jeremy to come and stay, no questions had seemed to occur to Susan. That their might be any sexual tension or need for stated boundaries in having her son stay over nights with her friend Angela.. And Susan was right, of course. Not just that any...inappropriateness...would be deeply wrong. A betrayal of their friendship. It would also be...implausible. Silly to even imagine. To the just graduated Jeremy, Angela must be an older woman, almost fifteen years his senior, closer to forty than thirty. Her fantasies the last two days were just that - silly fantasies.
"Oh, Angie, I'm sure...I don't know. If Jeremy showed up at the door with a lovely young man he was in love with and the two of them were talking about settling down in a country detached and adopting kids. I don't think I'd have a problem with that. Hard to say, it's all different when it's personal, you know?" Angela found herself agreeing in sympathy. "And I suppose it's not so much that I imagine he's really, you know, homosexual, it's just that he doesn't seem to make room for a potential love life at all. So focused on making it into the corporate world. Could he just be one of those kind of asexual men we seem to be breeding with women's lib these days?"
After they had hung up with the usual promise to stay in touch, Angela found herself pottering around the flat, supposedly clearing up, but really eyeing the places Jeremy had sat and wondering what his impressions of her place had really been - cosy? feminine? stuffy? She avoided going into the spare bedroom to change the sheets still tousled and maybe fragrant with his masculinity. Finally, after an hour, she picked up her phone and texted Jewel. Within a minute, the woman who was her junior at work, her opposite in almost every way socially, and had become the most improbable but rock-solid confidante, called her back.
"Don't what's up me! You're the one who texted. Got something you need to spill?"
"Um, so I told you that Jeremy was going to stay over a few nights last week, right?"
"No. No, not at all. That's not it..."
"No she's fine. Very appreciative actually. And by the way, he's not exactly a kid anymore."
"It's not like that Jewel."
"Okay, okay," Angela conceded. "It is a bit like that."
"Um, well, he's...Jeremy is...super nice. Well brought up..."
"You are so bad!" Angela heard her friend chuckling on the line. Jewel's dismissal of any hint of political correctness was one of their differences, and part of her appeal as a confidante. "No, he's tall, muscular. Not like, bulky. You know, just muscular. Curly hair. Brown. Like his eyes."
"Exactly." The acknowledgment of the family connection to her longest friend sent a pulse of guilt through Angela.
"Well, his mum wonders if he might be gay."
"Um, yes he's hot. In a boy-next-door kind of way."
"I kind of doubt it."
"Three nights. He had a series of interviews for a job he's trying for in the City."
"You are so bad!" Angela repeated, but still secretly relieved to have the conversation out in the open rather than just in her mind. "No fucking. No nasty talk. Nothing inappropriate from Aunty Angie, which is what he used to call me when I babysat him way back when."
"Um, I don't know..."
"Not exactly. Twice. There you are. Satisfied? Wearing his t-shirt." Finally Angela got to the confession that had been weighing on her thoughts.
"Um, yeah, he left it behind. I guess accidentally. Wadded up in the sheets. Been wearing it as a nightshirt I guess."
"Well, yeah, obviously. No plans to come back."
"Um, you know the answer to that I'm guessing."
"Um, yeah, that's about it. Not much huh."
Angela tried to snap back a response to this, but found her open mouth was empty of words - the description was too accurate.
After they had talked, Angela found herself once again wandering back and forth in the few rooms of her flat, pondering. Her confession to Jewel had felt cathartic. But as she stood on the threshold of the spare bedroom and looked once again at the tumble of used sheets, slept in by this young man who had filled her apartment and now her psyche, she knew there was something else she had not admitted. Nothing important perhaps, just a few moments on that last evening, but the memory sat deep inside her, barely acknowledged.
Boldly she pulled the hem higher. Surely he could have seen this too from where he had chosen to sit? Not just the colour, but the rounding of her panties against her mound. In that moment, knowing that she was sitting too casually, knowing that the atmosphere between them was on the edge of intimate, she had panicked. She'd known for days her body's own truth, that she had been aroused by having him stay night after night. That her body had responded with warmth, a gentle flush different from her usual cool skin, a quickening deep inside. But she'd been careful to keep this from the boy who she had once baby-sat. In that unguarded moment, she was suddenly aware of the pulse in her groin. And, crazy or not, feared how the stretched-thin fabric might reveal it, like a drum-top being tapped. Her secret feelings made visible. Panicking, she had pulled herself back to sit politely.
She considered taking her blouse off as well. Modelling for herself in bra and panties. Showing off to prove she still could. But she was afraid that the mood would pass, and she would be left feeling silly, once again rejected and unwanted - even unwantable - as she had after Peter had walked out on her. For months she had been ashamed of herself, despite her friends support and her own self-talk. Ashamed that her body was no longer good enough to hold a man.
She squeezed her breasts through the blouse, cupping firmly enough to feel their tight curve through the bra. There had been other men before Peter and they had liked them. A lot. She tried to think of a word that she had heard - was it an early boyfriend, or just a wish that she had made up? Pert. Pert breasts. She wanted this, to feel young enough to do this, to see herself, to imagine a man seeing her, looking at her, and liking what he saw.