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Even the coffee was tasting tired in the museum break room, but Andrew’s lovely compliment in class that morning was still ringing in Nancy’s memory as she watched her break tick away on the clock.
“That’s a beautiful skirt!”
“Thanks!” And she’d finally bitten the bullet and asked for his phone number, along with an invitation to join the study group she’d organized. Both were readily accepted, and Nancy had enjoyed her first spark of joy on what had otherwise proven to be a bleak Valentine’s Day.
As she sipped her coffee now, Nancy looked down at the outfit that Andrew and two other guys had complimented today. She didn’t really see what made it so special. Maybe it was just the novelty of seeing anyone dressed up among the otherwise-drab fashions of grad school. The full, electro-pleated black skirt did flatter her wide hips well, but Nancy was a sweatshirt-and-jeans gal and would never really feel at home in a skirt. Maybe that was why Michel, her boyfriend of nearly three years and unofficial fiancé, hadn’t been one of the three guys who’d expressed such fondness for it, even as he’d watched her put it on from his side of the bed that morning. As for her tight lavender sweater, it did accentuate her too-big breasts pleasantly, but she found it also framed her generous belly all too well. But maybe it was true that some guys really did like a few extra pounds.
There was, though, one thing Nancy had come to love about her outfit over the course of the day: not a drop of red anywhere. Since Michel had made no mention of Valentine’s Day, she was only too happy to not acknowledge it in any way either.
As if on cue, Robert, the museum’s upstairs security guard, arrived for his break at that moment and became the fourth man to express his admiration that day. “Hey, Nancy! You’re looking great tonight! You been here all day?”
“Thanks! And since one o’clock.” She stood up and stretched. “Morning is for classes, after all.”
Robert shook his head. “I don’t know how you do it, Nancy. Grad school and this job? When do you find time to sleep?”
When I ought to be spending time with Michel, she thought with a dollop of bitterness that she hid behind a smile as usual.
“Hope you and what’s his name have special plans for after you’re done, then,” Robert said. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”
“To you as well, Robert.” She forced a grin and reminded herself that he meant well, and excused herself to return to her post.
It could be worse, Nancy reminded herself time and again through the tail end of her shift. She could have been in poor old Andrew’s shoes. The more she thought of that, the more flattered she felt that he’d been brave enough to compliment her that morning. Michel might be a cold fish lately, but at least she had him to go home to.
Andrew had a crush on her. He’d never said so, but all the signs were there. The shy smiles she always detected in the most fleeting of time whenever he saw her, the way he never contradicted her in a class discussion no matter how fearlessly combative he was with other students, the way he always kept her at arm’s length in a group of friends, though he was unfailingly diplomatic at the same time – Nancy had known them all too well for years. But where most of the other guys who’d displayed them all had gone on to make fools of themselves or worse, Andrew had always played the gentleman. He’d played it well enough to persuade her that he was a gentleman.
Nancy couldn’t help but respect the way he’d coped with the situation, and so she’d never grown uncomfortable around him the way she otherwise would have.
Rather, she’d grown frustrated. Frustrated that they shared a mutual best friend, Maria, and three courses to date, and that Andrew had proven himself a star in all those courses (he was reportedly second in their class, just behind Maria), and by all accounts a really nice guy besides. And yet he’d never hung around her long enough for her to even invite him to their study group, even as Maria had regaled her time and again with tales of what a wonderful guy he was.
Until that morning, when she’d needed it the most!
Nancy worked three days a week at the museum, and of course she always dressed up for it. It made her feel silly rather than beautiful, as if she were playing a role that was utterly different from the real Nancy. But she couldn’t very well argue with success.
If only there had been any success with Michel! Too typically French, her boyfriend had always been utterly, sickeningly aware of his charming accent, as well as the lack of any need for anything else to turn her inside out back when they’d first met.
He’d stayed by her side on the big move out from Chicago last summer, and he’d more than willingly found a job of his own at the university gym to keep himself busy while she was studying and working, and there had been talk of marriage. But the staid months since their arrival had Nancy acutely aware of something she’d Manavgat Escort Bayan been able to look past back in Chicago.
Having fought off her share of frisky boyfriends back in high school, she had never imagined she’d end up with a boyfriend who rarely even tried to get her into bed. But that’s just what she’d ended up with. Michel’s lovemaking had been enthusiastic at first, but it had always been straightforward and deliberative, just like it might have been with someone new whose body he didn’t know at all. And it was mostly about his own orgasm, too. Like the naïve young woman she’d been at first, she’d accepted it as just the way of mature love. But lately, her patience had been running out. That was why she’d made a point of giving him an eyeful as she got dressed in the morning lately. That very morning, she had pranced around the bedroom several times in her tights and bra, pretending to look for a belt whose location she’d really known all along. Michel had given her an appreciative look or two, but nothing more.
Nancy had even forgiven his failure to wish her a happy Valentine’s Day then. After all, he’d still been half-asleep. His failure to mention it again at lunch just before she’d left for the museum had been a lot harder to forgive. But she had, as usual.
At least she wasn’t in poor Andrew’s shoes. And now she had his phone number.
The last two hours of her shift did little to change Nancy’s state of mind, though she did a good job of keeping it to herself. As she stepped out into the midwinter night to face the chilly walk home to Michel, the bombardment of Valentine’s Day reminders once again hit her with a blast as cold as the wind itself. Other women carrying bouquets and teddy bears, garish pink and red displays in all the darkened storefront windows, couples huddling together for the walk…at least she could have counted on Michel for that, probably. Regardless, all at once, Nancy knew she wasn’t ready to return home to Michel’s indifferent embrace just then. It was a perfect night for a drink at Bluestocking’s Bar, and Nancy had little doubt her tips for the day were just enough for at least two glasses of wine.
Bluestocking’s, the city’s first self-proclaimed “female-friendly” bar, was just a few blocks up from the museum and had become increasingly irresistible to Nancy of late. With its convenient hooks for purses under the bar and clean seats and unoppressive sound system and watchful bouncers to keep mouthy guys at bay, it had of course aroused the ire of the usual haters; but men were more than welcome there provided they behaved themselves. There were several of them present as Nancy shook off the cold and settled herself at the bar. They all appeared to be taken, but Nancy only wanted to admire from a safe distance anyway. That’s what it must be like for Andrew when I’m around, she realized as she ordered a glass of merlot and smoothed out two of the crumpled five-dollar bills she’d collected over her shift.
“Any plans for the big day?” asked the barmaid as she took Nancy’s money and poured the wine.
“I’m afraid you’re looking at them,” Nancy said. “He’s working, I’m working…who’s got time?”
“I sure know what that’s like,” the other woman said. She set a tiny dish of cashews beside Nancy’s glass, and was then distracted by another customer, saving Nancy any further small talk on the last topic she wanted to bother with right then.
Ignoring her own inclination to forget all about Andrew and Michel and all other men for the moment, Nancy soon found herself reaching under the bar to fish her telephone out of her purse. She opened the address book app, and of course Andrew was the first name and number on the list. How appropriate, she couldn’t help thinking. Andrew would love Bluestocking’s; she’d heard enough of his dependably feminist point of view in class and enough secondhand conversations from Maria to have no doubt of that. Michel wouldn’t, but Nancy loved Michel, she found herself reminding herself now as she looked down at Andrew’s number. Just what would be the harm if she did invite him down for a drink? He would most likely say no anyway. And if he said yes? What was a drink among friends?
“You’re right, this is a really nice place. Thanks for inviting me.”
Nancy masked her surprise behind a practiced smile as Andrew settled himself beside her. “Haven’t you been here before? It seems like your kind of place.”
“I don’t think they allow men in without a woman, do they?”
“They do as long as you behave yourself, Andrew, and I know you would do that.”
“Thanks! But no, I haven’t been in before. I’ve almost-invited Maria several times, but she has a boyfriend.”
“So do I, and here you are.”
“It’s different when you ask me than if I asked you, though. Then there’s no doubt that it’s just-friends.”
If only you knew, she thought. Out loud she said, “Well, that’s…I’m sorry, Andrew, but that’s a really adolescent way Manavgat Escort of looking at this. Do you really think all your female friends are going to assume you have a crush on them if you invite them to do things you’d do with any friend?”
“Yeah, it is a bad habit of mine,” Andrew admitted. “But I got into that habit for a reason. It’s happened to me several times, you know, so I figure now it’s best to just be more careful.”
“Since we’re being frank, Andrew, tell me – and I promise I won’t let it affect our friendship, this goes in the vault – is that why you’ve never quite let me in the way you did with Maria?”
“What do you mean?” But he said it a bit too innocently; she could see in his eyes that she’d hit a nerve.
“I mean she and I are the best of friends, and she and you are the best of friends, and you and I…we’ve never gotten so close.”
Andrew took a deep breath and a gulp of wine, and at last he nodded. “Self-preservation, that’s all. You don’t just have a boyfriend, you’re practically engaged, you’re learning his language, you’re living together. I’m sorry if it’s harmed our friendship, but…” He paused and looked her up and down, his eyes lingering on her breasts and legs. She made no protest against the ogling, feeling flattered at the thrill it must have given him to admire her openly for a change. “I could feel myself falling, you know? No good could have come of that.”
“I understand,” she said. “And thanks.”
“On that note,” Andrew piped up, giving every indication that he wished to change the subject, “Why are you here on your own on Valentine’s Day of all days?”
“Oh, not you too, Andrew!” Nancy looked down at her lap and then threw her head back, looking straight ahead instead of at him. “Like you said, practically engaged. With all that implies, including the part where it gets stale and you stop trying.”
“I’m sorry,” he said. “That’s an awful shame, and I have to admit I think this Michel guy needs his head examined if he doesn’t see what a treasure he’s got.”
Nancy couldn’t help laughing. “Come on, that’s enough of that, Andrew! I know I’m not Miss America, and so do you.”
“Miss America is a joke. A really sexist joke, if it comes to that.”
“I agree, Andrew, but you know what I mean. I’m…” The word “fat” formed on her lips, but Nancy’s days of being that self-pitying were behind her to stay. “I’m plump. And I know it.”
“Good things come in big packages,” Andrew grinned.
“Oh, stop! You already buttered me up this morning, remember? And flattery will get you nowhere!”
“Not if you don’t believe you’re beautiful, I guess,” he said. “But I do. Honest.”
She looked at him with a wistful smile, and then back down at her wine glass with a heavy sigh.
“Fuck,” she muttered.
“Did I step over the line?”
“No! Far from it, Andrew! Quite the opposite. It’s been too long since Michel said anything like that. I’d say I missed it, but…”
“But you don’t?”
“But I can’t miss it if he never said it in the first place. All he ever had to do was say the time of day in that damned accent of his, and I melted like butter. Amazing how much time went by and I never even noticed that.”
“Oh, that’s sad, on Valentine’s Day of all times. I’m sorry I brought it up, Nancy.” He patted her back gently, and she felt a delicious surge from his touch. Such a fresh change, and to imagine what a thrill it must have been for him to touch her!
“Don’t be, I didn’t mean it that way. I mean…he never told me verbally, but he used to show me. Flowers, notes he left in my room when he went to class, and the way he could make love…well, that was never anything special, but it felt special at first.” On realizing what she had shared, Nancy cringed. “Ugh, sorry! That was the wine talking!” After a quick pause to see she hadn’t scared him off, she added, “And a measure of how comfortable I feel with you, I guess!”
“Thank you,” he said. “That’s sweet. But I don’t suppose I need to hear about your sex life.”
“There hasn’t been very much of one lately anyway,” Nancy admitted. “That’s the problem, or part of it.”
“Thank you,” she said. Then she bit her lip and plowed forward with the elephant in the room. “Andrew, I’m sorry, too. Sorry I’m bending your ear with my relationship troubles when – no offense – but I know you’ve had a crush on me, at least a little one. I feel downright cruel whining about Michel when I’m still committed to him and off limits to you.”
Andrew turned as red as the wine in his glass, but the smile didn’t leave his face. “I…I don’t think it’s cruel, Nancy. It’s life. Love stinks, after all. I understand.”
“I’m not sure if I do,” Nancy said. “But I do want you to know, I trust you. There’s no need to hold me at arm’s length the way you’ve been doing.”
“Thanks, but that’s as much for me as it is for you,” Andrew said. “Self-preservation and all that. No Escort Manavgat sense walking straight into certain heartbreak. But it’s great to just talk about it like this, I’ll tell you that.”
Nancy set her elbow on the bar and propped her head on her hand in frustration, and gave him an admiring gaze. “It is, isn’t it? So nice to be totally open!” She felt near tears at the situation, but she held them at bay.
Andrew drank down the last of his wine and, sensing an emotional flood of his own, stood up. “Can I walk you home?”
Nancy took a deep breath, sat up straight and smoothed out the skirt he had so praised that morning. “Actually, I was just going to ask if I might walk you home. Or maybe take a taxi.”
“Right or wrong, we shouldn’t miss out on this, Andrew. It just feels too good to pass up, and Michel only has himself to blame.”
“Are you trying to break my heart or what?!”
“Maybe we’ll be no good in bed together and you’ll get over me.”
“You don’t really expect that, do you?”
“No. I expect you’ll be fantastic in bed, since you’re such a gentleman out of bed, and then I’ll be the one with a broken heart. But it’ll be worth it!” She stood up and squeezed his arm playfully. “Please?”
The taxi ride back to his place passed in pleasant silence. He lived in the finished basement of a landed house out on the edge of the city. “I work as a part time nanny for the landlady’s little girl,” he explained, “I get a break on the rent, and she’s a sweetheart!” Unlocking the door, he held his finger to his lips. “They’re both probably sleeping,” he whispered. They both took off their shoes, and she followed him through the kitchen and downstairs in her stocking feet.
“Nice room,” she said as he ushered her into his dark but warm abode, replete with a queen-size bed at one end and a desk full of books at the other. “Perfect for the occasion,” she added, and without another word she threw herself at him and began clawing playfully at his back. It was nothing like Nancy to hurry so, but Michel would be waiting at home and she couldn’t hope to explain away the whole night.
“You’re sure of this?” he asked her one last time, sliding his arms around her back and under her sweater.
Nancy reached down and finished what he had ever so gently started, pulling the sweater over her head. “Positive,” she chirped as she took both his hands and placed them on her breasts.
Andrew stroked along the fabric of her bra with each hand, a gentle, teasing touch that she hadn’t experienced in ages. Nancy couldn’t be sure if the pleasure were purely from his touch or also from the knowledge of what a thrill it was for him to touch her at last. It was a thrill for her, too — Michel hadn’t cherished her like this in far too long! “Happy Valentine’s Day,” he said with a shy grin.
“No need to be shy now, Andrew,” she reminded him, tugging his shirt out of his pants. Slowly she unbuttoned it from the bottom up.
“Can’t help it,” he replied with a gentle laugh. She had just enough time to finish unbuttoning his shirt and push it off his shoulders before he leaned in for their first kiss. He was bolder with his mouth than his fingers, exploring her mouth most delightfully. As her tongue reciprocated with brash strokes against his, he grew more courageous elsewhere as well, and promptly Nancy felt the lovely sensation of her bra coming undone.
Nancy pulled back just long enough to swing the bra off completely, tossing off a comment about what a relief it always was to take off at the end of the day. Then she cupped Andrew’s head in one hand and pushed him down towards her breasts, and found herself swept gracefully back onto the bed as he dove in on them. Massaging one in each hand, he gave them both equal time with his lips, kissing each nipple with playful licks until they were both hard as diamonds. “Ohhhh, don’t stop,” she whispered.
The sensation was divine, but already Nancy was feeling greedy for the one move she’d always craved from her very first time. Michel had never tried it, but in her anticipation Nancy realized she’d never actually asked him to do it. She wouldn’t make that mistake again. As soon as the moment was right…but with her skirt, tights and panties still on, it wasn’t yet.
There was a big step in that direction just then, as Nancy felt Andrew’s hand sliding up her thigh to her hip. He rubbed it just as lovingly as he had her breasts, which he was still kissing passionately. Nancy was more eager than ever for him to move his hand around front, where she could feel herself getting deliciously wet. Instead, he only pulled down the waistband of her tights…it was a start, and Nancy thrust her hips upward to let him pull them down. Gently he did so, and then rubbed both her bare legs nearly all the way up before returning to fondle her breasts some more.
It was lovely, but it wasn’t what she wanted most of all, and Andrew didn’t seem inclined to get there on his own. Nancy once again arched her back and reached underneath to unzip her skirt. “Take it off,” she whispered huskily in his ear. “You said it was beautiful, but I’m even more beautiful out of it!” Without waiting for any reply, she also unbuttoned his pants and gave a rough tug.
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