This site provides the first few chapters for free so you can decide if you like the story before buying the book. MATURE CONTENT: These sample chapters contain sexual temptations, discussions, and some sexual terms in descriptions of the main character's private thoughts. Later parts of the book (not in these free sample chapters) include sexually-explicit scenes between husband and wife and one scene of moderate violence.


Chapter 4


Mmm. Charles sitting on my coffee table, watching me sleep. I like that. And he’s smiling… because he likes my smile… ‘…that beautiful smile of yours…’ No, it’s because I’m naked and he likes looking at me while I’m naked. I’m glad he likes to look at me. But I wonder why he’s not touching me? Because he has self-control…? Is… hey! Why doesn’t he have a bulge? Being naked ought to get him aroused! Maybe if I take his pants off. Wait, then he’ll want sex, and the drapes are open. Why are we in the living room…?

Susan lifted her hand and tried to reach out. Wait… I’m facing the back of the sofa… how could… am I dreaming…?

”Ohh…” she moaned as she felt the stiffness in her body and stretched, then felt her bladder wanting attention. “Uhhh.”

She opened her eyes and looked around, her senses and memory flooding back, including that the front door was unlocked. “Charles?”

Oh, my, I sure hope I wasn’t talking in my sleep! “Charles…? Charrlles…?!”

She put her feet on the floor and struggled to sit up. Where are my shoes?

She got up and headed toward her bathroom while looking around to make sure Charles wasn’t there and spotted her shoes under the dining room table. She passed by the family bathroom off the hallway and went to her private bathroom out of habit, then gave her bladder the relief it needed.

When she came out of the bathroom, she glanced at her bedside clock. Four-forty. I expected him to be here before now. If he got to sleep by five this morning and slept eight hours, he would’ve been up by one o’clock this afternoon. Even if he slept ten hours, he’d have been up by three, and that was almost two hours ago!

She walked to the kitchen and made herself a sandwich, then ate it while she walked out to check the mail. She pulled the mail out of the mailbox absent-mindedly and looked as far as she could down the street in the direction of the coffee shop. There were no cars coming and no familiar form hiking toward her, so she went back inside.

Finishing the last bite of her sandwich as she reentered the house, she closed the door and started to lock it, but caught herself and left it unlocked. She started going through the mail, which was all junk except a letter from her mortgage company. She opened that letter and read it with some trepidation.

Thirty days overdue. A month’s wages will barely cover a mortgage payment and food. But I’ll be running at least a month behind on the mortgage, and might fall even further behind, and that’s if I stay healthy. I need to keep my phone service so Stephanie can call me. I’ve got to keep the water turned on to use the toilet and shower. Maybe I could do without electricity… I’d have to stop using the refrigerator… wouldn’t have hot water… oh, how I hate cold showers. Lord, should I stop tithing until I get a good paying job again? No, that’s out. Maybe I should quit the coffee shop so I can job-hunt full time. I still have some unemployment benefits available, and that’s as much as I make at the coffee shop… maybe more… while it lasts.

She went back into the kitchen, threw away the junk mail and put the bill in her bill box with the other outstanding bills. If I get just two more months behind they can start to foreclose if they want to. They said to call back after I’m three months behind and then they’d try to work out something, but that article I read said they don’t have to, and often don’t. My current income won’t give them much incentive to be patient.

Slowly, Susan walked through her beloved home, remembering her childhood there… it had seemed like such a large house back then. She came to the first bedroom, Steve’s room, and quickly moved on. Those memories were still too painful.

She looked in Stephanie’s room, her own childhood bedroom, and remembered the first time she had sex there one afternoon after school while both her parents were at work. Joel Matthews… I thought you were the hottest thing on two legs. Well, I got you… for a little while. You sure didn’t know anything about being gentle, though. Six months of after-school sex until you graduated, then two months of summer sex, and then you went off to college and never called me again. You never even found out I was pregnant. Would you have cared?

Then I moved out for college… kept thinking I was in love… kept having sex. Oh, God… I thought I was being good, only having sex with boys I thought I’d end up marrying… but when I got pregnant again I wasn’t even sure who the father was that time.She sighed and stepped back into the hallway and leaned on the wall.

How dumb was I? After all that, I still got involved with Marty. When he got me pregnant with Steve, I was so determined not to have another abortion… I pressured him into marrying me. The Marty Mistake.

She walked the few steps to her bedroom door, originally her parents’ room. Noting she’d left that morning without making up the covers, she started straightening them out. They were so good… and so good together… how did I mess up so badly?

Susan remembered the many times Marty had his way with her even when she tried to tell him no, the times he forced her, even hit her, and once tied her to the bed. And none of that was as bad as the harsh words he struck her with.

All the fights… I cried, he yelled, and I yelled back. None of it made any difference when he wanted sex. Whenever he wanted it, he took it. And that still didn’t keep him from cheating on me.

Tears were welling in her eyes as she walked to the door. God, I don’t want to get married again! I don’t want another man in my house, in my life, in me! I don’t want to share my life.

She sank to the floor and her mind drifted back to the tiny mobile home she and Marty moved into after they got married. Stephanie was born a year after Steve, and Susan’s mother died three years after that from cancer. And it was almost three years after her mom died that she got the awful call that her father had been killed by a drunk driver.

A short time later she and her little family moved back into her childhood home. I never did get used to having sex in Mom & Dad’s room. Marty didn’t have a clue… and didn’t want one. He never worried about waking up the kids, either.

She got up and walked back toward the kitchen, pausing at the door of the family bathroom… her bathroom when she was young. That was where she thought she must be dying the first time she started her period. I knew I’d bleed some down there, but there was so much blood! I thought sure something was broken and I’d bleed to death… I tried to prepare Stephanie better than I had been, but with Marty gone, she was so angry at me all the time…

She closed her eyes and tears rolled down her cheeks unimpeded. God, what’s going to happen to my house? Who’ll live in it if I lose it? Are they good people? Will it be better for them than it was for me?

“Hello?!”

Charles’ voice pulled her out of her reflections, and she brushed away the tears as she rushed the few steps to the end of the hallway. “Charles!” she said with a huge spontaneous smile.

Charles’ face lit up when he saw her, but then his smile faded as he noticed she had been crying. “Are you okay, Susan?”

She nodded and shrugged as if it were nothing. “I was just reminiscing. I’m fine, really.”

He looked relieved and smiled again. “Oh, good!” He straightened up and inhaled deeply while he gazed at her as if for the first time. “Gee, it’s so nice to see you again!”

Susan laughed, “After all this time?”

He just stood there, studying her. “And I love your laugh.”

Then he looked down, sheepishly. “And it did seem like a long time. I got up around noon, and I had a terrible time waiting to come see you.”

“Oh, well, why didn’t you come sooner, then?”

“I sure wanted to, but I figured you’d need some sleep when you got home, and I had no idea how long you’d be asleep… Then a little while ago it dawned on me that you might try to stay up until I got here, and was afraid that if you still hadn’t gotten any sleep, you’d be ready to pass out on your feet by now…”

All his concerns were for me. I… I want to hug you, Charles Parker. Outwardly, Susan just nodded with understanding and continued to smile.

“I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to wake you up, and I didn’t want to keep you waiting. Once I got here, I tried the door, figuring if you had it unlocked, that must mean it’d be okay to let myself in…”

“Oh, yes, that’s exactly why I left it unlocked.”

He paused before continuing, “Well, I must say you look wonderful. That is, I mean, you don’t look sleepy. I mean… I don’t mean that you don’t look beautiful when you’re sleepy… I mean…”

She laughed again, and his relief was obvious. “I did indeed get some sleep, and…” I was going nuts waiting for you. “…I feel quite well rested.”

“And what time do you work tomorrow?”

“Eleven to three.”

Charles looked elated. “Well, then, would you perhaps be interested in a Friday night out on the town?”

Susan’s countenance took on a more considerate aspect. “Well, what did you have in mind?”

“The Star of Knoxville.”

“The… oh, the big boat?”

“Yes, the big paddle-wheeler. Tonight they have dinner and dancing for a two-hour cruise on the river!”

Susan looked doubtful.

“What’s wrong? You don’t like that idea? The waves shouldn’t rock enough to make anyone sea-sick. But…”

“No, no, it’s not that…”

“What is it? Please don’t be afraid to tell me.”

“It’s just that I… don’t really know how to dance.” It’d be terrible, and you’ll lose all interest in me.

Charles looked thrilled, closed the distance between them, and took her hands in his. “Oh, please, may I teach you?”

She looked down at their hands and felt her entire body grow warmer while her mind panicked at the idea of trying to learn to dance.

“I’d love to,” he continued. “We can start with the waltz, and when you get comfortable with that, I can teach you some swing-steps. What do you say?”

She looked into his eyes. Charles, I can’t learn to dance. I’m too… I’m not…

“Please?”

Oh, God, how do I tell him no without disappointing him? What can…

“Do you object to dancing on moral grounds?”

“Oh, no, Charles… it’s just… I don’t think I can learn to dance…”

It was Charles’ turn to laugh. “Oh, Susan, I promise you can learn! And I would be so honored to be the one to teach you! Please give me a chance! I promise you won’t regret it! Please?”

“Oh, Charles… if you really want to, I’ll give it a try, but I’m really afraid I’ll disappoint you.”

“I could never be disappointed with you in my arms.” He let go of her hands abruptly, and stepped back, blushing. “I mean, dancing, I mean. I didn’t mean to… I’m not trying to overstep…”

“It’s okay! I understand. It was a nice thing to say, and you didn’t mean anything more than dancing.” She pictured him holding her close, his right arm around her waist and his hand on the small of her back, while his other hand rested on the back of her neck, cradling her head as she leaned back to let her lips…

“… before we go?” Charles asked…

She gave her head a shake. “I’m sorry, what did you say?”

“I asked if you needed to eat before we go. The ship leaves port at seven, and dinner will start around seven-thirty. It’s about five now, so… what’s wrong?”

“I’m sorry, I ate just a little while ago…”

“Okay, may I make myself a sandwich?”

Susan nodded with surprise. “Uh, sure…” she managed and they headed toward the kitchen.

‘May I make myself a sandwich?’ Not, ‘Please make me a sandwich?’

Charles opened the refrigerator and peered around.

Okay, so get ready for all the ‘where’s this, where’s that’ questions…

He pulled out baloney and mayo, closed the fridge, and found the breadbox. Next he found the silverware drawer, withdrew a knife, and started making the sandwich.

He’s not… helpless, she thought in amazement. She looked at Charles and then in the direction of her bedroom. You’re not Marty, are you, Charles Parker?

She cast an involuntary look at his crotch, caught herself with reproach and instantly shifted her view to his head and shoulders before realizing he had nothing to drink with the sandwich.

Susan stepped forward toward the coffee maker. “Would you like some coffee?”

Just at that moment, Charles turned to put the meat and mayo back in the fridge and they started to collide. They both altered courses, and Susan’s breasts brushed against Charles’ back. The touch seemed electric to her.

“No thanks, I think I’ve had enough coffee for today,” he said without pause or change in tone.

She put a hand on the counter. Did you feel what I felt?

He looked over the fridge door. “Do you mind if I have one of your sodas?”

“Uh… they’re caffeine-free diet Cokes.”

“Yeah, that’s why I want one! Thanks!”

He took one to the table while he started eating, took out his cell phone, and started texting.

I guess you didn’t feel… what I felt when I brushed against you. Either that, or you’re really good at hiding your… at hiding when…

“So, how did you like my car?” He asked.

“Oh.” She refocused her thoughts as she joined him at the table. “Oh, it was wonderful! I’ve never driven a car like that.” Should I tell him about taking it on the highway? About the ticket? Will the ticket affect his driving record? No… just mine, I’m pretty sure.

He swallowed another bite as he nodded, finished his text message, and put the phone on the table. “I sure love that car. And I keep it in mint condition.” He took another bite.

Oh, God, thank you for not letting me wreck it! “I can understand why you like it so much.”

It’s an awfully expensive car, though. “I was wondering… with you being out of work, do you think you’ll have to sell it?”

Charles shook his head. “No… I’ve thought about selling it since I became a Christian, but it just doesn’t make sense to me. I mean, a sports car doesn’t fit my image of what a Christian should drive… but this car is retaining its resell value. It’s actually gone up in value the last couple of years. If I sold it, I’d have to buy another car to get around. And if I bought a cheap car, it would lose value… eventually most of its value. So this car’s a good investment. And like I said, I’ve got some savings.”

He took another bite.

Hmm. That makes sense… might as well keep it until he needs the money for food, I guess. She nodded, “I never thought about it that way. That makes good sense.”

“Want to drive it to the pier?”

Susan blushed as she tried to summon the courage to tell him about taking his car on the highway without asking and getting a speeding ticket. Ohhh… I really don’t want to do this… what will you think of me? I took a liberty you didn’t offer. You just said I could drive it home…!

He paused and cocked his head as he watched her.

“I, uh… have a confession to make.” She lowered her face then raised it back. No, for better or worse, I want to see his reaction. See if it hurts his feelings for me.

“On the way home… driving your car was so nice… I took it out on the highway for a few miles.”

He smiled.

What kind of a smile is that? A half-smirk?

“How did it go?”

I can’t tell what he’s thinking! “Well, uh… it… I’m not used to it, and I didn’t realize how fast I was going…”

She couldn’t take it anymore and looked away. “I got a speeding ticket in your car, Charles.”

She quickly looked back at him, studying his face. He looks so somber now. Is he mad?

Her voice was shaky, “I’m soo sorry. Will you forgive me?”

Charles’ serious expression broke into merry laughter and he reached out and moved the ticket from its resting spot on his left to right in front of her.

Susan looked at him hopefully as he began to laugh, and then cringed with embarrassment as she saw the ticket and realized he’d already seen it. Then she slapped his hand. “Oh, you! You already knew and you let me torture myself…!”

Charles leaned forward with a conspiratorial gleam in his eye. “That car will fly, won’t it?”

“I honestly had no idea cars could be like that.”

Charles sighed. “That whole car isn’t worth one of your smiles.”

Susan raised her eyebrows. Charles! Are you…? How do you come up with lines like that?She drew in a deep breath and looked down. “That’s… very kind of you to say.”

“I…” his voice trailed off. A moment later he snatched his cell phone off the table top. “Say… I still don’t have your phone number…! Would you give me the tremendous privilege of possessing that connection to your life?”

Connection to my life? You make it sound like a momentous occasion. “Well… I don’t know. How do I know you won’t abuse the privilege by actually calling me?”

He laughed again, then turned a little more serious. “You may put any conditions you like on me regarding your phone number, and I’ll honor them.”

You’re serious. Just what kind of a man are you? And just how did you come into my life?

She gave him the number and he entered it into his cell phone, then he looked at her expectantly, waiting…

“No restrictions,” she offered, remembering how he poured out his heart at this very table regarding the strife with his children.

“None?”

“Nope. None.” I don’t know why you seem to like me so much, but yes, I’d be happy for you to call me anytime you want.

“Oh!” Susan exclaimed. “What should I wear on the boat?”

“Dressy, but less formal than an evening gown,” he replied.

A gown? I haven’t had a gown since the high school prom… there I go with the high school thing again…

“I’ll need to stop by my apartment to change out of my jeans,” he said, “but we’ve got plenty of time. And you’re definitely driving… I need to teach you how to stay within the speed limits,” he teased.

She ignored the jab. “Should I wear heels?” I’ve only got a pair of black ones, but they’ll go well with a lot of things.

“Do you usually wear high heels?”

She shook her head, “No, not really.” When would I? I never do anything…

“Then you definitely shouldn’t wear them tonight. You need something solid while you’re first learning.”

She smiled. Good, that gives me a lot more options!


Susan pulled Charles’ car into a parking spot at Bicentennial Park.

“Leave your purse here in the car, if you don’t have to have it,” Charles suggested. “I can carry any small items you need in my pockets, like tissues, lipstick, or whatever.”

“You’d be willing to carry my lipstick for me?”

“Sure. Why not?”

Susan tried to picture Marty making such an offer and knew it would never have happened. She considered the contents. “Okay, I’ll leave it. And I won’t take anything if you’re buying.”

“Oh, I insist!”

Susan started to get out, but Charles reached out and put a restraining hand on her right arm, then got out and raced around to open the door for her.

“My, aren’t you the gentleman?” She held out her left hand daintily and he held it as she got out. Charles whistled, and Susan posed before releasing his hand.

“I don’t know who else will be here, but you will definitely be the belle of the ball,” he said with studious admiration.

Susan was wearing a dark green long-sleeve dress she had bought years ago for formal Church occasions, with matching flats and all her fake-emerald jewelry. The dress was old, but in good condition, and she thought it flattered her figure while remaining conservative.

Charles was wearing a typical dark suit with a shiny dark blue tie and shiny black shoes.

They walked along pointing out sights to each other. “Oh, look, you can rent all kinds of watercraft, too!” he said, nodding to the signs.

Susan, however, had happened to glance down. Such large shoes… I didn’t notice that before. I wonder… is it true about men with large feet being ‘well-endowed?’ Susan! That’s… think about something else.

“Look, there’s the Star of Knoxville!” Charles said, pointing past the truss footbridge.

“Yes,” Susan replied, relieved at the distraction. “Oh, and somewhere right around here is where James White built Fort White… or White Fort, I think. That was the very beginning of Knoxville, back in the late seventeen hundreds.”

Charles looked at her admiringly again. “So, you’re a history buff, too?”

“Well, I grew up here. We studied that kind of thing.” She looked up at him. “The Tennessee river, and the State, for that matter, are named after a Cherokee Indian village.”

“Wow, you really paid attention to that stuff.”

They started over the footbridge and Susan slipped her hand into his and walked just a little bit closer. Is this okay? Am I being too forward?

Charles looked straight ahead for a moment, but then looked down at his date before looking forward again.

He looks… proud? Proud of me? Proud to be with me?

Susan felt him swinging their arms just a little bit more, and she looked at him again. He was grinning, ear-to-ear. And her heart was beating just a little bit faster.

“I guess we could have parked down here,” Susan observed.

“I’m glad we had the extra walk,” he said, still hand-in-hand.

As they neared the entrance for the paddleboat, she noticed a large sign, quickly took it in, and pulled Charles to a stop. “Uh-oh. It says you have to have reservations,” she said with distress.

Charles pulled on her hand. “Taken care of.”

“The cruise and the dinner is only forty dollars?”

“Just thirty-nine fifty per person.”

They kept walking toward the entrance and Susan’s mind was whirling. She pulled him to a stop again.

“When did you make reservations? Before you even came over to my house? What if I’d been too tired?”

“No, I texted my… requests… while I was eating a sandwich at your place,” he explained.

“Oh.”

They started walking again.

“That’s very up-to-date of them,” she mused.

“Mm, yeah.”

They made their way on board, and an announcement was made over a speaker-system. “Ladies and gentlemen, tonight’s departure will be delayed for a half-hour, and dinner will be delayed until eight. In the meantime we’ll be serving complementary h’orderves and cocktails. The cruise will remain a two-hour cruise, so we’ll be returning at approximately nine-thirty instead of nine.”

Charles looked at Susan. “That okay with you?”

“Oh, sure!”

They walked idly around the boat, and music started playing softly over the speakers.

“Oh, here’s something we don’t know about each other,” he said as they leaned on a rail, looking out over the river. “Do you drink alcohol?”

Oh, no, another chance to spoil things. Well, here’s goes… “Yes. That is, I like to drink wine, sometimes.” She studied him to gauge his reaction. “But it’s not important to me,” she offered, “if you don’t approve.”

“Oh, no, I see no problem with it. Morally speaking. I mean, not counting alcoholics, obviously.”

She nodded. Whew! Wait… why am I so concerned about meeting his approval? Maybe this date isn’t such a good idea…

“I used to drink a lot of beer. Quite a lot. I quit when I decided I didn’t like the beer gut I had back then.”

You had a beer gut?!” Susan looked at his physique. “There’s sure no sign of it now!” Should I have said that? Is he self-conscious about it? Does it make me sound too interested in his body?

He smiled. “Well, thanks. I lost about forty pounds after I quit drinking. A few years after that I started trying to exercise, really for the first time in my life. I’ve been inconsistent with it, but I keep getting back to it over and over.”

Charles stepped aside to let Susan go up the steps first to the upper deck.

“After I became a Christian, I wondered about alcohol, but it seems very clear that the Bible says it’s okay as long as you don’t drink too much,” he said.

“Oh, I agree. Paul even told Timothy that he should drink wine,” Susan added.

“Yeah, and would Jesus have turned water into wine if he thought it was wrong for people to drink it?”

“Ah, that’s a good point, too.”

Charles stopped and Susan looked at him.

“That song has three beats… good for waltzing. Shall we try your first lesson?” he asked.

Susan looked around nervously. “No one else is dancing yet…”

“True, but it’s not crowded yet, either. If you’d rather wait till everyone else is dancing, that’s okay with me.”

Oh, Lord, have mercy… I should probably put it off as long as possible…

When Susan didn’t answer right away, Charles stepped forward and took her in his arms. “Trust me.”

She looked up into his eyes as he put his right hand on the center of her back and a shiver went through her. Right over my bra strap, huh? If I was a cat, I’d purr. But maybe that…

“Too cold?”

She shook her head, “No, I’m fine.”

He placed her left hand on his right bicep. “You just rest your left arm on my right, like this.”

Then he clasped her right hand with his left hand and raised those arms out to their sides, elbows bent and relaxed. “Comfy?”

She nodded, but glanced around again.

“Don’t look around. We’re the only people on earth.” He spoke softly, his mouth close to her ear. “This is the way we hold each other for all the basic waltz steps.”

The way we hold each other… Mmm.

“We don’t have to do anything more fancy than this.”

She looked up again and smiled. “Won’t we have to move our feet?”

“We can,” he chuckled, “but I was referring to how we hold each other. Now, don’t worry about speed. The secret is to learn the steps very slowly. Once you’re comfortable with the steps, you can always speed up later.”

If I get comfortable with the steps.”

“Oh, you’ll get comfortable with it,” he assured her. “When I start, I’ll move forward with my left foot, and you’ll feel my body start to move. When you feel me start to move, you move your right foot back one step. Don’t worry about anything else right now. Just the first step. You move your right foot back one step, nothing else.”

Susan took a deep breath. “You move, I step back with my right foot.”

“That’s it,” he said calmly. “Let’s try that. Just that, nothing more. I’ll start on the count of three. One, Two… Three,” and he stepped forward while Susan stepped back.

Then they just stood there, with the entire right side of his body touching the left side of hers.

“You’re prefect… I mean, that was perfect. Well, actually, I mean both.”

She smiled at him, and he smiled in response.

“Next, I step forward with my right foot and you step back with your left foot.” He looked at her. “Make sense?”

She took another deep breath. “I think so.”

“I’ll move on three. One, Two… Three,” and they both stepped together.

Susan looked up happily. “So far, so good?”

“Very good. And that was the hardest part.”

Susan warmed inside. ‘Very’ good, he said.

Charles let go of her and stepped back. “Now this time, I’m going to take my first two steps forward, but on my second step, I’m going to put my right foot off to my right side.”

He demonstrated alone and stopped with his feet wide apart. “I know this looks funny, but that’s because this is only the first two steps of a three-step dance. Once you know how to do all three steps, we’ll do them without pausing after the second step, and then it won’t look funny at all.”

She nodded. “Okay.”

He turned around and stood next to Susan’s left side, facing the same direction as her. “Now look at my feet, and I’ll demonstrate your first two steps.”

“When I move forward, you step back with your right. Then when you step back with your left, you move it off to your left side, like this.” He stepped back with his right foot, then brought his left foot back, off to the left side, stopping with a larger than normal gap between his feet.

“Now let’s try that together, both doing your steps.”

They practiced it twice.

“Think you’ve got that?”

She nodded again, “Feels weird with my feet apart like that.”

“That’s just temporary, trust me.”

I’m starting to, Mr. Parker. I’m starting to.

Charles turned around and placed his right hand behind her back again and took up her right hand. Susan put her left hand on his upper right arm.

“Like this?”

“Yes, I certainly do,” he responded.

Susan laughed and stepped back. “You silly boy, you know that’s not what I meant!”

He lowered his voice. “I know what you meant. And I know what I meant.”

“Easy, tiger.” Actually, I really, really like your compliments.

He stepped forward and took her in his arms again, and again she placed her left hand on his right bicep. “That’s absolutely perfect,” he said.

Sure feels natural.

“Okay, now I’m going to take my two steps, one after the other, and end up with my feet apart. You’ll also take two steps, one right after the other, without stopping, and you’ll end up with your feet apart. I’m moving forward, you’re moving backward, and we are moving together.”

Mmm.

“You’ll move your right foot back first, then your left foot… Ready to try?”

“Yes. Ready to try.”

“On three. One, two… three.”

Susan took a step back with her right foot and then immediately moved her left foot back and apart. Charles had moved just as expected, and they both stood face-to-face with their feet spread apart.

Susan blushed, but Charles didn’t seem to notice.

“Don’t move yet. Feels a little awkward, right?”

“Yes…”

“And what would feel normal at this point? To bring your feet together. To do that, you could move either one of your feet. However, since your last step was with your left foot, if you had kept going, you would have moved your right foot next. So, now move your right foot next to your left foot.”

“Now?”

“Yep, any time you’re ready.”

She moved her right foot next to her left foot and at the same time, Charles moved his left foot next to his right foot.

“Now just stand here for a moment, and notice that our bodies are in the same position we started out in.”

“Oh, yeah…”

“Okay, now I’m going to count one, two, three and we’re going to take a step with each count. What’s your first step?”

“I go backward with my right foot.”

“Right. What’s your second step?”

“I go back and wide with my left foot.”

“And what is your third step?”

“I bring my right foot over next to my left foot.”

“Exactly.” He took a step back and took her left hand lightly in his right hand and held her at arm’s length. “Okay, do it this time without me holding you, so you won’t worry about where my feet are.”

She took a deep breath and let it out.

“I’ll count one, two, three, and you take your three steps. Ready?”

“Ready to try.”

He smiled. “One.”

She stepped back with her right foot.

“Two.”

She stepped back and wide with her left foot.

“Three.”

She brought her right foot over next to her left foot. She looked down at her feet, then up at Charles, smiling.

Charles smiled with his eyes. “You sure you never had lessons before?”

Susan giggled, then frowned. “The music stopped.”

They paused and another song started.

Charles nodded with satisfaction. That’s another three-count. Let’s do it again. Ready?”

“Ready, sir!”

“One… Two… Three!” he called out as Susan took her three steps perfectly.

Charles stepped back into position with one arm around her and holding her hand with the other. “Same thing again. Ready?”

“Uhh…”

Slower this time, he called out, “One.” They stepped. “Two.” They stepped again. “Three.” They stepped again.

“Again! One… Two… Three.”

“Again. One… Two… Three.”

They kept holding each other as he looked into her eyes. “Remember you said you didn’t think you could learn to dance?”

She nodded.

“You just waltzed.”

I… waltzed?! Susan beamed. You’re so patient, so gentle. You explain things so clearly. “I… never imagined… I’d have such a good teacher.”

“And I never imagined I’d have such a beautiful student.”

Susan took another deep breath. Is this what a real man is like?

“Okay, now you may have noticed, I’m always walking forward, and you’ve only been walking backwards.”

“Well, I didn’t, but now that you’ve called my attention to it…”

“Well, that’s obviously unfair, and we’ll end up in the river in no time, so there’s a way to even things up. First we take those three steps with you going backward, then we take three steps with you going forward. Your three steps going forward are the same as mine when I go forward. So we alternate.”

Charles let go again and demonstrated her forward-moving steps for her, then helped her pace through them, and finally led her through the steps while they held each other.

Once Susan was comfortable with that, he stepped her slowly through her backward steps again, then a little faster.

Finally he stepped her through the complete waltz-box of six steps in a row, and she took three steps back followed immediately by three steps forward.

“Again,” he barely whispered as soon as the box was complete.

“Again,” he said right before the last step, and they just kept going until the song ended.

As the music faded away, they stepped apart, and Charles applauded and bowed. Two couples who had been watching joined in the applause.

Susan laughed and curtsied. I did it! I danced a waltz! Me!

“I knew you could do it,” Charles said as he took her hand again.

“That was so much fun!” Susan said as the music started again. “Is that the right kind of music?”

Charles nodded. “Yes, when you listen, you can kind of hear a three-count in your head… one, two, three, one, two, three. Hear it?”

Susan smiled, put his arm around her, and smiled mischievously. “Again.”

A few minutes later, it took only a simple explanation or two and Charles had shown her how they could take four steps in a straight line to “promenade” and add some variety to their box-steps.

The sound system kept playing waltz music, and they kept dancing as the ship left the dock and until dinner was announced. The recorded music was replaced by a live band as they found a table by the window looking out on the river on the lower deck.

“They have two main courses on this cruise, ribs or chicken. What are you hungry for?” Charles asked.

Hmm, chicken is probably more lady-like… but Charles is so easy-going, I’ll be he wouldn’t care in the least. No, I bet he’d like me to get whatever I actually want. He asked what I’m hungry for… “Ribs!” she said with conviction.

“And red wine?”

“That sounds delightful.”

The waiter came and Charles ordered ribs for both of them, and he asked for plenty of paper napkins.

When the waiter returned a few moments later with their meals, Charles took off his jacket, hung it on the back of his chair, and rolled up his sleeves. Susan pushed her sleeves up to her elbows, and they dug in, laughing and smiling.

They each drank one glass of wine and started on a second.

“Dessert?” he asked after dinner was cleared away and he had put his jacket back on.

It was dark outside now, and the interior lights were dim. Susan was nodding her head to the beat of the music. “That’s a three-count, isn’t it?”

He smiled. “Yes it is. Would you care t…”

Susan jumped up and pulled Charles onto the dance floor. “Dessert after we dance some more.” She remembered all the steps and she held him closer than she had before.

After waltzing several dances, Susan said, “Waltzing is a lot of fun, but you know what? I wish they’d play a slow-dance number.”

“Perhaps they will,” Charles replied.

A moment later he promenaded them closer to the band. When they were as close as they could get to the band leader, Charles caught his attention and asked, “Hey, do you fellows take requests?”

“Yes, sir, if we know the song you want.”

“Anything that would be good to slow-dance to,” Charles said.

The band leader nodded thoughtfully. “We got something that will work for that.”

Charles thanked him and waltzed Susan back into the middle of the dance floor.

A moment later the waltz ended and all the dancers politely applauded before the band began the next song.

“Oh, that’s definitely a good one for slow-dancing,” Susan remarked.

“So it is,” Charles replied.

She put both her arms around his waist and held him tightly. “May I have this dance, Charles?”

“You may have anything I have to give.”

“Ooo, you could get into trouble with promises like that,” she said with her head against his shoulder. Oh, God… it feels so good to be held… by someone who… who really likes me.

He lowered his head to hers, and with one arm around her waist and the other around her shoulders, they slowly swayed in time with the music.

Mmm… Susan sighed with more contentment than she could ever remember. Is that…? It is… he’s aroused! He… he likes me that way, too. I was beginning to wonder. That could be very dangerous… but the truth is, I like the fact that a man finds me that attractive.

For the next few minutes her attention was riveted to the pressure she felt brushing against her from the prominence in his pants. Oh, my, that feels so… stimulating. It’s getting me warm all over. But will this change your behavior? Will this make you less patient now? Will you try to force yourself on me when we get home? Hmm… that is, if I don’t encourage you to keep going. No…! We’ve just met. I am not going to make the same mistakes I made in high school and college.

She looked up, and he looked into her eyes. Moment of truth, Charles Parker… what are you like when you’re aroused and have some alcohol in you?

“Susan?”

“Yes?”

“We’ve known each other only three days.”

What? Oh, no! What’re you getting at?! Are you…

“I’ve loved you from the first morning we met.”

Susan stopped dancing but her mind began to spin. You… do…? Her eyes started watering.

You love me…? From that moment in the coffee shop? When you saw my smile? Oh, Lord Jesus… I think… I love Charles, too… Is that possible?

He moved his left hand from behind her shoulder to stroke her hair, then her cheek. He tilted his head toward her lips, and she kissed him willingly, deeply.

Oh, Charles, oh, yes! I want this… I want you! I want all of you!

They stopped kissing, and she looked at him again. “Charles, what’s wrong? You look worried!”

“I’m very worried. You said… you don’t have room in your life for another man… that you only want to be friends… and I promised not to pressure you…”

Susan gently put her fingers on his lips to silence him. “It’s okay, Charles. Let’s try to take things slowly, but… I’m ready for this. I mean, I think I’m ready for more than… I mean, I’m ready for kissing… if you are.” I’m still kind of scared… but I don’t care. My… desire for you… is getting stronger than my fear now. Oh, God, I… desire… Charles…

She started crying freely. “I’ve never met anyone like you before. I don’t know what to expect from you. Every time you say something, you surprise me. Every time you do something. And every time I’m amazed.”

“Oh, Susan, I love you so!”

She nodded as her tears soaked into his jacket. “I’ve think you’ve shown me more real love in three days than anyone else has shown me in my whole life, except my parents.”

He kissed her head and whispered, “I can’t help it. I’ve never known anyone like you, ever. You… you… you’re like a part of me that’s been missing my whole life, and now that you’re in my arms, I don’t ever want to let you go!”

“Oh, Charles… I want you…” with all my heart, “but… at the same time it scares me that I want you. In fact, the more I want you, the more it scares me.” She pulled back enough to look into his eyes again. “Something’s still telling me that you’re too good to be true. I don’t deserve you, and I can’t understand why you love me…”

She buried her face in his shoulder again. “Maybe I’m afraid you’ll stop loving me after you really get to know me.”

Charles lifted her chin. “Susan… you’re burned into my heart. I feel like you’re part of me… like you were always supposed to be.”

Oohhh! Charles…

She kissed him again and then they just held each other for a while before she finally led him off the dance floor and back to their table. Lord, I want to be patient, and follow your will… but I’ve gotten very hungry for a dessert that isn’t on the menu, so you’d better help me control myself…

Susan didn’t notice that the song the band had been playing on and on ended as they walked off.


After a strawberry cheesecake dessert and quite a few more waltzes, it took a lot longer to walk from the Star of Knoxville to the car than it had taken to walk from the car to the ship. Susan and Charles stopped several times to kiss, hug, and coo in the moonlight.

Charles drove, as they planned for him to drop her off at her house before going home to his own apartment.

Should I invite him in when we get home? That could be dangerous… he had a serious erection every time we hugged. She looked as inconspicuously as she could at his lap. And… the way his pants are poking up, he still does. If he comes in the house, I don’t know if I can keep my hands off of him.

She sighed quietly. I’m disgusted with myself for being aroused, but it’s better to face the truth and deal with it than ignore it and end up doing something I’ll regret. It wouldn’t take much, and my ovaries will be in control… and I was worried about him taking advantage of me…

“You’re awfully quiet over there. What are you thinking?”

Oh, there’s no way I’m telling you what I was thinking! “Oh, how wonderful this evening was…” That’s not truthful. Let’s see… “And… I was thinking, if you don’t mind, I’d rather you didn’t come inside when you drop me off.” Well, part of me wants you inside.

He nodded. “Okay. We danced an awful lot tonight, and you’re not used to it.”

Oh, thank you, God, he doesn’t sound angry. Or even disappointed. Guess I wish he was at least a little disappointed…

He laughed, “Well, I’m not used to it either. I haven’t been dancing in years.”

“Oh? You sure didn’t seem out of practice.”

He dipped his head in a slight bow. “Except for the couple of times I stepped on your feet?”

It was her turn to laugh, “At least my feet won’t be bruised. When we got going a few times there, I seemed to walk on your feet as much as mine.”

“Oh? I didn’t notice.” They glanced at each other and laughed again. “Okay, I did barely notice, but I surely didn’t care.”

I danced. I waltzed… in your arms. A dream come true… except for the staircase and bedroom part. No, this was better than my dream. This was real. Susan gazed dreamily at Charles. You’re real.


Soon they pulled into the driveway and Charles shifted the transmission into park. Susan unbuckled, picked up her purse, found the door handle, and then turned to look at him. They leaned toward each other and kissed. Susan leaned toward him more and put her right hand on his left shoulder. Charles tried to reach around her to embrace her, but his left hand only reached to her side, putting the heel of his palm firmly against her breast.

Susan inhaled sharply through her nose. “Mmmm.” Oh, that feels so warm… so good. I can’t stand it.

She broke off the kiss and pulled away, opening the door, but not taking her eyes off him. “I…” I love you! “I’d… uh… can we see each other tomorrow?”

“Yes, what time?”

“Uh, why don’t you call me in the morning?” Susan suggested.

“Okay, what time do you want me to call?”

She pondered a moment. “Nine?”

“Nine it is, then.”

Susan nodded, got out, closed the door, and walked toward her front door. She paused once to look back longingly, and she looked over her shoulder twice on the short walk. She unlocked her front door and looked again as she waved.

She entered, locked the door, pulled the curtain aside from the window beside the door and waved again. Charles waved back and only then did he back out of the driveway and slowly drive away.

Susan squeezed her thighs together in frustration. “Oh, God! I can’t believe how much I want to have sex! After all these years! I’ve never even dated since I became a Christian, and I want to be holy, but I’m going to need a lot more help!”

An unwelcome option crossed her mind. “Oh, Lord, should Charles and I not see each other anymore? Should we…”

Her mind then flashed back to when she had cried out to God and found a verse in her Bible: ’But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry…’ They should…marry?

She caught her breath as tears formed once again. “Oh, God! Should we…? May we…?” Marry him? Oh, God…

She spun around. “Oh, yes, God, YES! I’m ready! I’m ready to share my life again… as long as it’s with Charles!”

Susan skipped through her living room and dining room, and then down the hall to her bedroom. “I want him, Lord! I want him in my house! I want him in my living room, in my kitchen, at my table, in my hallway… Oh, yes! I want him in my bed, God! Oh, wow, I really, really want him in my bed! I don’t care if he leaves the toilet seat up! I don’t care if we have a toilet seat! I want him in my life…” Is it okay to say it, Lord? Is it okay to think it? “Lord, God, I want him inside me. I want to feel him inside my body… I… oh, my!”

Suddenly the tingling feeling that had been slowing building between her legs was magnified and she quickly sat down on the edge of the bed and squeezed her thighs together. “Oh, Lord…”

Her breathing became rapid and shallow, and the tighter she squeezed her thighs, the more intense her arousal became. “Oh, God, what is this? I don’t want this without Charles! This should only happen after we’re married!” This… Did I ever feel this way when I was married to Marty? Have I ever felt like this…? “Oh, Lord, what should I do? How do I calm down?”

A cold shower? That ought to help, she thought, and started walking to the bathroom. She took one step and the sensation between her thighs became more intense. Uh, maybe if I keep my legs apart.

She walked bowlegged to the bathroom. When she finally made it, she turned on the water with only enough hot water to keep it from being freezing, pulled the curtain shut, and reached through to pull the shower knob. Then she quickly pulled her dress off and started to take off her bra when she remembered Charles’ hand against her right breast. “Unngh.” The intensity of the memory caused her to shake. I’ll leave the bra on until I calm down.

She started to get in still wearing her panties too, but decided at the last moment to take them off, then stared in surprise. They’re soaked! Did I get so excited I peed? I would have felt… Oh! Oh, my! I guess post-menopausal dryness won’t be a problem.

Stepping into the cold water was a shock and it immediately started suppressing her libido. “Oo, oo, oo, oo, oo!” She turned on a little more warm water. Not too much. Don’t want to defeat the purpose. Might as well go ahead and wash my hair while I’m at it. Oh, darn it! I didn’t wash it this morning… I should have washed it before Charles came over!

Susan took off her now soaking-wet bra, gently squeezed the water out, and hung it over the curtain rod. After washing her hair, she lathered up her washcloth and started to wash as normal, then paused. Should I wash my breasts and vaginal area, or skip them? I don’t want to stink… but I don’t want to get all worked up again, either. Hmm. One pass with the cloth will have to do.

Dare I shave my legs? They really need it… Susan lathered a leg and started shaving, being wary lest it get her aroused again, and being very gentle on the spot burned by the hot coffee, but she finished without incident.

She got out and dried off, with just a few pats of the towel on her more sensitive areas, then wrapped it around her head.

Susan started to walk back into her bedroom but stopped in the doorway, imagining Charles there… his arms wide, welcoming her to come to him. Lord, I do want him. I want him in my house the rest of my life… oh!

The mortgage due and inadequate income came rushing back into focus. Slowly, she walked to the foot of her bed and knelt in prayer.

Father… I don’t know what the future holds, and that scares me. If I can’t stay in my house… well, I want to marry Charles either way, I guess, but I just can’t seem to imagine where we could be as happy. I don’t even know where Stephanie is, and she wouldn’t want us living with her even if she has a place with enough room… which I doubt. And it doesn’t seem likely Charles’ kids would want us around. Where could we go?

She laid her head down on the mattress and smoothed a hand over the cover. Can I at least keep my parent’s old bed?

A sudden thought caused Susan to gasp. Stephanie! If I have to move, how will you be able to find me?! Oh, no! God, help me! How can Stephanie and I find each other again if I lose the phone number that goes with the house?! Oh! As long as we don’t move too far away, I should be able to transfer the number to a new place…! Oh, thank you, God. And please, please, please, don’t let her forget our old phone number! Oh, thank you God for telephones. Thank you for loving Stephanie, and me, and Charles. Thank you for…

A minute or two later, Susan realized she had almost fallen asleep at the foot of the bed. Why am I so tired? Short night last night, short nap this afternoon… and lots and lots of dancing. And I got very aroused, and very excited… She roused herself enough to put on some fresh panties and her night bra, dry her hair, and finally climb between the covers before quickly fading into sleep.

“I could never be disappointed with you in my arms,” she remembered him saying as she drifted to sleep. Oh, Charles…

A few moments later she was dreaming again… The ballroom is so beautiful… who’s that coming this way? Marty? Oh, no, I… oh, Charles… I’m so glad it’s you! Yes, I’d love to dance with you! We’re all alone now. You see my eyes… you see the green that no one else has seen, you see everything there is to see in me… in my soul. I’m part of you now… hold me tight, don’t let me go! The room is swirling, I feel like I’m falling. But now I’m in your arms, and you’re carrying me up the stairs… to… whose house is this? Whose bedroom? Whose bed are we in? Did you lock the door so the kids can’t interrupt us? Do you want to come inside me? I’m ready. Oh, I’m so ready…


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