(Author’s notes: In this work of fiction, nobody is worried about STDs. In real life, all non-monogamous sex should be practiced using accepted safe-sex precautions.

This story contains some rather dark memories of abuse and non-consensual sex. It all occurs in the past and is not the focus of the story, but is necessary background to understand the psyche of one of the characters. In this author’s opinion, it is not enough to place the story in the Non-Consent category, but if you can’t stand any non-consent, it would be best to skip this one.

Special thanks to Rex Brookdale and Sidney43 for their time and effort in beta-reading/editing this story. They both offered key insight; this is a better story because of them.

All persons involved in sexual activity are at least 18 years old.)

: : : : :

It was Friday night at Clifton’s Barbecue. Clifton’s has been known as the best barbecue in town for most of its sixty years, although it’s not actually ‘in town’ — it’s about twenty minutes outside the city limits on a rural two-lane highway.

It was early for dinner, a few minutes after six, but there was already a line for a table. It wasn’t just out the door, it stretched down the long side of the parking lot. That was probably bad news for me. Clifton’s has a rule: once the wait for a table reaches an hour, they won’t seat any parties of one. They pair you up with whoever is next on the list. We regulars understand that it’s efficient use of table space when they’re crowded, but that doesn’t mean we like it.

Party of one — Friday night, that was me. Many people think eating alone is sad, and maybe sometimes it is. For me, though, it was by choice — a ‘guy’s night out’ for one. I was treating myself to my favorite barbecue, followed by a couple of my favorite drinks at a bar listening to my favorite band, a local roots-rock quintet called Sazerac Blast. No one to entertain or pay for but myself.

While I waited, I passed the time admiring some lovely ladies, probably from the state college nearby. Several of them looked quite fine, but one in particular stood out. She had a deliciously curvy figure, a beautiful face, and long blonde hair. She looked relaxed, confident, and happy.

Happy is underrated as a component of sexy, but to me it outscores pretty — a plain girl with sparkling eyes and a shining smile is almost always sexier than a goddess who looks like she has something bitter stuck between her teeth. This girl was not only gorgeous and happy, her happiness seemed contagious. She struck up conversations with the people around her, who by their body language were strangers, and within minutes they were chatting and laughing like old friends.

I noticed the hostess beginning to pair people up for sharing tables, and decided I would go elsewhere rather than make forced happy talk with a random stranger. Dang it, I really had a taste for some Clifton’s. Sazerac Blast wasn’t due to start playing for hours, so I hung around Clifton’s a little longer, pondering which lesser restaurant to settle for, and admiring the blonde — not necessarily in that order.

She looked to be my age, early twenties. Possibly, like me, attending the local state college — I would graduate that fall if I didn’t hit any bumps. She wore a man’s oxford shirt, an extroverted plaid of yellow, white, baby blue, and red, over a navy tank top and a tiny pair of Daisy Duke shorts. The plaid shirt fit loosely, with the sleeves rolled up and the tails tied alluringly under her breasts. The tank top was short, showing a couple of inches of skin above the low-rise shorts. It was tight enough to highlight a delightfully curved waist and a wonderful tummy, almost flat with an ever-so-slight softness. In back, two soul-stirring sacral dimples peeked out above the shorts, hinting at how delightful the ass below them would be. Unfortunately, the oxford was loose enough to obscure what she had up top. There were mounds there; clearly she wasn’t flat, although she didn’t seem to be Dolly Parton, either. Between those extremes, she was a mystery… small, medium, or large?

To avoid getting caught staring, I forced myself to glance away from her for a long moment. When I looked back, I was startled to find her standing barely a foot in front of me. She looked me in the eye and said, “Hi, what’s your name?”

My mind froze. This drop-dead gorgeous creature had approached me! “Uh,” I forced out, “Hugh.”

She smiled and said, “Hi, ‘uh Hugh.’ If I asked you to share a table with me, would you assume that meant I’ll be taking you home with me afterward?”

Turning on the charm, I cleverly said, “Uh, no.”

“Good,” she chirped, turning and walking away. When she had gotten about five steps away she turned back and said, “Come on — our table is ready.”

The ordering process at Clifton’s is simple. All the sides are served family-style, and you choose your entrée — either brisket and sausage, or chicken pieces and sliced turkey. All are divinely hickory smoked. She Trabzon Escort asked what I was getting, and I said, “The chicken and turkey is really good, but tonight I’m leaning toward the brisket and sausage.”

“If I get the poultry and you get the red meat, maybe we could trade a little and both have some of everything?”

“That would be perfect.”

Our plates arrived in barely a minute — the only kitchen prep required is scooping the beans, cole slaw, potato salad, and barbecue sauce into serving bowls, placing rolls and corn bread into a basket, and slicing the meat.

She asked, “How long have you been coming to Clifton’s?”

“Since I was five.”

“It must have been quite different then.”

“Not really.” I gestured at the wall behind me. “They added the second dining hall about ten years ago, and they always seem to be enlarging the parking lot. Other than that, it hasn’t changed much. It used to seem further out in the country, but that’s the city expanding outward. And you?”

“I moved here for school. Some friends from my freshman dorm brought me here. I’m a junior now, and completely hooked.” She smacked her lips. “Damn this is good.”

I still hadn’t gotten her name, but she was quicker with the next question than I was. “Is Hugh short for anything?”

“Yeah.” I paused. “Joseph.”

She covered her mouth and laughed. “Seriously?” I nodded. “Wouldn’t that usually be ‘Joe’ or ‘Joey’?”

“Yeah, usually. For me, though, my dad is Joe, my uncle on my mom’s side is Joey, and I have a cousin Joey.”

I almost always get swamped with questions at that point. She simply grinned and said, “Fair enough.”

I finally got to ask her name. She hesitated, and said, “Spencer.”

“Seriously?” She smiled that I repeated her word, nodded, and then waited. She clearly expected questions. I simply smiled and said, “Nice.”

We talked as we ate, discovering we had a lot in common. Neither of us watched much TV, but what shows we did were the same ones. She shared my love of live music, and Sazerac Blast was her favorite local band. We both supported ourselves with paid internships in our fields of study, working Tuesdays and Thursdays, with classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. And we both lived in apartments west of campus, although we didn’t tell each other which ones.

I asked, “So how’d you choose me?”

“What do you mean?”

“Out of all the guys here, you offered to share your table with me.”

“Oh, that. When they said they weren’t seating any more singletons, I asked who else was by themselves.” I was impressed — it had never occurred to me to do that. “You were the only guy younger than my parents.”

“And I thought it was my irresistible good looks and sparkling personality.”

She laughed and said, “Well, obviously, that too.”

As usual for Clifton’s, it felt like I blinked and our food was gone, our separate checks were paid, and we were walking out to our cars.

“This is too soon,” I said.

“What do you mean?”

“I’m enjoying talking with you.”

She stiffened slightly. I’m sure she got hit on regularly and found it quite tiresome. After a moment, though, her posture softened. “Actually, I am too.”

“Did you notice Sazerac Blast is playing tonight?”

She hadn’t. She looked deep in thought for a moment, I would guess wondering whether to trust me or not, then she admitted she didn’t have plans for the rest of the evening. She’d be willing to join me, she said, if we took separate cars and ran separate tabs at the club. I understood; you can’t be too cautious these days. When I explained where the club was, though, which was way across town from Clifton’s, after another long thought, she agreed to ride together, as long as we took her car.

She followed me to my place. I parked out front, nowhere near my actual apartment, and slid into her passenger seat.

I began to see how special she was in addition to her good looks — we chatted comfortably and laughed frequently all the way to the club. She may have felt a similar attraction; as we neared the club, she rather hesitantly said, “How about I pay our cover, and you buy the first round of drinks?”

“I don’t know, riding out here together is one thing, but that’s a big commitment…”

Her face darkened until she checked my facial expression and realized I was teasing, then she gave me one of the bright easy smiles I admired earlier.

We found the perfect table, with a great view of the band, but not directly in front of any of their speakers — I hate going home with my ears ringing. In honor of the band’s name, I ordered the cocktail Sazerac. Its key ingredients are cognac and either absinthe or Pernod, and I offered to let her taste mine before she ordered, because not everyone likes it. She took a tiny, tentative sip, and her face bloomed into a glowing smile. “Wow,” she said, “That’s not what I expected.” She took a bigger sip. “This is amazing. I may need more than one!”

As the Trabzon Escort Bayan band tuned up, she said, “So, ‘uh Hugh,’ do you have a last name?”

“Um, it’s Bloe.”

She paused, and I watched multiple expressions cross her face as she connected the dots. “Your actual name is Joe Bloe?” Her tone was playful rather than an accusation that I was fibbing. I fished out my driver’s license, but she waved it away without looking. “I believe you. I just never knew there actually was a genuine Joe Bloe, and now I’m lucky enough to have met him.”

“That’s another reason I go by ‘Hugh.'”

She nodded. “Mine is Davis.”

It was her turn to watch my face as I connected the dots. “Your actual name is Spencer Davis?”

She grinned that I quoted her from a moment ago, and nodded. “I know, I know, Spencer Davis Group, famous sixties band, ‘Gimme Some Lovin,’ ‘I’m A Man.'”

“I’ve heard Sazerac Blast play both of those — they’re great songs.” I stuck out my hand. “Nice to meet you, Spencer Davis.”

She took my hand and held it rather than shake it. “Nice to meet you, Joe ‘uh Hugh’ Bloe.” Her hand felt electric in mine. I began to hope this could be more than just a single evening out.

: : : : :

As usual for Sazerac Blast, it felt like I blinked and the music was over, the club was closing, and we were walking back to her car. “This is too soon,” she said, echoing what I had said earlier.

I picked up on the ‘script.’ “What do you mean?”

“I’m enjoying being with you.” Her voice was very subdued, as if saying that made her uncomfortable.

Ignoring her tentativeness, I smiled. “I am too.”

When we arrived at my apartment complex, there wasn’t an empty space near my car. She was a true gentleman: she found a spot, shut her car down, and walked me to mine. I would say I leaned in and kissed her, and I did, but in fact we met in the middle — she also leaned in to kiss me. It was a deep, long one — best kiss I’d had in months. Our lips dovetailed together perfectly, massaging each other comfortably like we’d been kissing each other for years.

As the kiss began winding down, a shiver passed through her body. She inhaled deeply, cradled the back of my head, and pulled my face more firmly onto hers. Her enthusiasm was refreshing — it gets old initiating kisses and not being able to tell if they are actually enjoyed or merely tolerated.

I lightly stroked the sweet inner curve of her waist, and felt her grip my ass. I cupped her Daisy Dukes, giving the delightful bum underneath a squeeze. She broke away from our kiss and said, “Hey!”

“Hey, what?”

“Who said you could fondle my bottom?”

“You did, when you groped mine.”

“I didn’t grope yours, I caressed it, and anyway, I’m a girl — that’s different.”

“Not according to my rule.”

She took a step back, eyes wide. “You have rules?”

“Only one: anything you get to do, I get to do.”

She immediately grabbed where my tit would be if I had one — testing my limits, I assumed. Never one to shrink from a dare, I cupped her tit in return. Using my minimal braille-reading skills, I discovered she wasn’t wearing a bra, and I was right, she wasn’t Dolly Parton, but what she had was a nice handful. Even through two shirts, I felt her nipple jump to attention.

She laughed. “You should see the look on your face!”

“I, um, I wasn’t… uh, I didn’t expect you to do that.”

She stared into my eyes with a mysterious smile that could have been either consent or disapproval, I couldn’t tell. Whatever it was, she let me enjoy her tit for a nice long time before she finally spoke. “You can let go of my boob now.”

“Oh, yeah, sure. Um, do I have to?”

“Only if you want to follow me to my place.”

I released her tit like it was burning my hand.

: : : : :

We sailed straight through her apartment to the bedroom. She unbuttoned my shirt, eased it off my shoulders, and let it fall to the floor.

“I need you to understand something,” she said as I untied her yellow shirt, under the terms of ‘whatever you get to do, I get to do.’ I slipped it off her shoulders and dropped it on top of mine.

“I’m all ears.”

“I never do this.”

“Sure. I don’t either.”


“I’m Hugh.”

“You’ll be Joe when I’m mega-serious.”

“Like when my parents used my middle name?”

“Exactly. That serious.” She paused, gathering her thoughts. Her face cycled through a series of emotions which I didn’t know her well enough to read precisely, but they may have included fear, desire, sorrow, and/or hope. Her eyes showed a wet sheen they didn’t have seconds ago. She practically whispered, “You should know: my latest boyfriend… um, it started well, but it went bad… real bad… and it ended worse. That was a year ago. This is my, um, my first time since then.”

Looking rather deer-in-the-headlights, she crossed her arms, grasped the hem of her tank top, lifted an inch, then froze.

I took her hands Escort Trabzon and pulled them away from her shirt. I whispered, “Spencer,” and waited. It took her a while to make eye contact. I pulled her hands to my chest and said, “I like where this is going, I like it a lot. But let’s not do anything you’re not comfortable with. Or ready for.”

Her body relaxed — I had said the right thing. I pulled her in for a soft hug. She began to quiver — she was crying. “No. I want this.”

I took a chance on making light of the heaviness of the moment and said, “Yeah, I can tell.”

She laughed her sweet musical laugh, then sniffled. “But I want to be comfortable, I want to be ready…”

“You can’t force ‘ready.’ And unless this is a one-night stand, we have nothing to gain by rushing.”

She gazed deep into my eyes, then lowered hers, and began softly crying again. She kicked off her shoes, led me to the bed, and after a brief hesitation, sat. She slid across to the other side and pulled me toward her. I slipped off my shoes and joined her, on top of the covers.

She leaned into me and I pulled her close. She tucked her face into my shoulder, and said, “I can’t believe you’re seeing me this emotionally whacked out. You probably just want to run out of here screaming and pretend we never met. I promise I’m not always this fragile.”

I admit, I wondered what happened to the cheerful, confident girl at Clifton’s, but I didn’t say that, I just softly stroked her back. It seemed to relax her. Her breathing slowed and deepened, and at this late hour, I thought she might be falling asleep. “It’s a compliment,” she said.

“How’s that?”

“I feel safe enough to let you see what a basket case I am.” She leaned in for a kiss, which turned into another long, soul-stirring one.

“This is nice, you’re a great hugger,” she said. She bunched her hands under her chin, her elbows tucked tightly together, and snuggled deeper into my arms. Her breath warmed my chest.

Soon she was asleep, and I was confused. Should I cuddle with her and stay, or ease out from her embrace and leave? Her bizarre jumble of extreme hot and cold signals created a tornado of confusion zig-zagging through my mind, uprooting random thoughts about her, about relationships, about life in general, and tossing them randomly across my mental landscape. “It went bad,” could mean many things, but it must have been intense if she was still this unsettled a year later. I gazed at her, her chest sweetly rising and falling. Her face, free of all the angst and stress, was enchanting. I couldn’t help wondering, though, whether I was seeing the deep sleep of the innocent and pure, or of the irredeemably broken who would drag me down with her into an abyss of dysfunction.

: : : : :

Did you ever have an eerie feeling you were being stared at? I woke to that feeling.

The bedside clock said 4 a.m. She was lying on her side, raised up on her elbow, resting her cheek on her hand, gazing intently at my face. When she realized I was conscious, she looked embarrassed. She mumbled, “You’re beautiful when you sleep.” She gently stroked my face.

I rolled off the bed. Sounding stressed, she asked, “Are you giving up on me?”

“No. Gotta pee.”

When I climbed back onto the bed, she pulled me close. I asked, “You okay?”

“Yes,” she said, pressing the side of her face into my shoulder. Then she shivered and whispered, “No.” She sighed. “I’m sorry. I-“

“You don’t have to be sorry,” I interrupted, “I understa-“

She interrupted me back. “No, I want to say this. I didn’t bring you here to tease you. I just… things got so ugly with Sam, he was so mean… he did so many terrible things… I’ve, I’ve been a sexual hermit… for an entire year.

“Talking to you at Clifton’s, and in the car, and at the club, you’re obviously a great guy. I thought coming here for hot sex would be the perfect end to a wonderful evening. Before Sam, that’s how it would have gone. I want so much to be back to normal, but I guess I haven’t healed as much as I thought.

“I’ve done tons of reading… I’ve seen a couple of counselors… I’ve worked my ass off. I thought I was past the hard part… I thought all I needed was to meet the right guy.

“I’m sorry… I overestimated myself… I probably fucked everything up. You must wish we’d never met.”

I couldn’t see how all this self-loathing would help her. I thought the best thing to say would be something startling but reassuring. She had broken the f-word barrier, so I took a chance on using it for impact. “You don’t have to fuck me tonight for me to be interested in seeing you again.”

Her mouth dropped open and her eyes flared. I thought for a second I had overdone it, but her expression quickly softened, morphing into a smile and a brief laugh.

“If you’re not ready yet, you’re not ready. I’ve never forced myself on anybody, and I’m not starting now. It sounds like — Sam, was it?” She nodded. “It sounds like Sam was a certifiable creep.”

She nodded vigorously. “Thank you,” she whispered. “A lesser guy would have bolted.”

“I’m not bolting.”

“I notice you’re still here. You get a lot of credit for that.” She smiled, her face regaining some of the happy glow I enjoyed at Clifton’s.

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