Page 37 of Beach Bodies

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It was one of those confusing conversations men had with women where one minute they were suggesting a future together, and the next adding something vague, talking about luck.

The first week went well, and by the end of it, she’d asked to move into his bed when he wasn’t moving fast enough. She’d begun to wonder if they were ever going to have sex.

“Knock, knock,” she said, standing at his bedroom door. He’d just taken a shower and walked out of the bathroom with a white towel wrapped around the lower half of his body.

“Enter,” he said, chuckling. “You don’t have to knock.”

She sat on the edge of his bed. “So, what do you think about having some company?”

He was rifling through his dresser drawer for underwear. “You’re welcome to visit anytime.”

“I mean, permanently in your bed.”

“I keep telling you to stay with me,” he said, glancing at her. “You’re the one who insists on returning to your own bed.”

She reached over and snatched the towel off his body.

“Now you’ve done it,” he said, looking down at his penis. “I finally got it to sleep, and now you’ve gone and woken it up.”

Laughing, she cried out how sorry she was. “I’m trying to be more receptive,” she said, grabbing for his hand. “Let me try something.”

“Don’t do anything you’re not ready for,” he said, moving toward her.

“I want to try it,” she said. “Please, come here.”

He stood in front of her as she sat on the edge of the bed, and with her hands on his hips, she took him into her mouth.

“Just go slow,” he whispered, his hands on her shoulders. “You can use your tongue if you get tired of sucking. It’s not only about sucking.” That was how their intimate life began. But before long, Alan was taking her for granted.

“Are you satisfied with our relationship?” she asked shortly after they’d begun having sex.

“Completely. I wouldn’t change one thing about it,” he answered, straightening his tie. “Are you?”

They made eye contact in the mirror.

“I guess so,” she said, hesitating. “I don’t like to complain. We don’t have sex as much as I thought we would unless I initiate it.”

He leaned over to kiss her. “I’ll step it up,” he said. “I think I need a vacation, or a new job.”

“Oh, God. I know, Alan! I’m so sorry I’m making demands.”

“No, it’s fine. I asked. I’m glad you’re comfortable telling me what you need more of.”

“I’ll try to step it up, too,” Shelly said.

They kissed goodbye, and he left for work. At loose ends, she puttered around, straightening up so it appeared that she’d done a little housework. His house was devoid of any decorating, so there was little for her to do most of the time. Then, deciding to indulge in some of her former single behavior, she would thrift-store shop.

The air carried a hint of fall, with leaves falling and a cool wind off the water, and she had to turn the heat on in the car for the first time that season. A stop at the coffee shop in town would fulfill a guilty pleasure—a cream-filled donut and coffee.

Standing in line gave her a chance to look around the shop. Hocus, the palm reader, was there that morning, and excitement flowed over Shelly. She loved having her palm read, and the last time she was in there, Hocus had predicted that she wouldn’t be single for long.

After Shelly put her order in, she went to the closet with the Open, Please Knock sign. The coffee shop owner, Adam Marchand, had given Hocus the closet to use so she could see clients privately instead of sitting at a table out in the open.

“Come in,” Hocus called out.

Shelly stuck her head in the door.

“Shelly, come in!”