Long Slow Second Look Excerpt
Mature Men: Look Slow Second Look
(c) 2014 Marilyn Lee
All Rights Reserved
Like most men I like pretty women. In my younger, lustier days I wouldn’t have given Amber Hunt-Darkwater a short second glance. A long slow second one would have been out of the question. But by the time she and I met I’ve had my fill of vain, high maintenance women who thought all they had to bring to a relationship was a slender body and a beautiful face.
Though I wasn’t ready to admit it then, there was a black hole in my emotional life that left me dissatisfied and increasingly unhappy. I needed a woman in my life capable of exciting me emotionally as well as physically.
At forty-two, I’d spent the ten years since my divorce engaging in a series of meaningless relationships that were little more than extended one-night stands. For a while, I really enjoyed the freedom that being single again afforded me to sleep with a succession of beautiful women. However, once I stopped thinking exclusively with my third leg, I realized that something was missing. It took a few years for me to realize none of my current or past relationships had ever met my emotional needs.
Not even with Julie, the beautiful woman I’d fallen into deep and instant lust with the moment I saw her and quickly married, had I been happy or even content for long. Our sexual chemistry was off the charts but after a few years it was no longer enough for me. Even now she was still gorgeous and capable of exciting me sexually but equally incapable of assuaging the inner ache that longed for more than just physical compatibly with a woman.
My grandfather often told my brothers and myself that to be truly happy a man needed just one special woman in his life who would be his cher. He was fond of telling us to look deeper than the surface because a woman needn’t possess physical beauty to command a mature man’s heart for as long as she lived.
Granddad practiced what he preached. Although we all loved grandma dearly, no one could call her anything but very average looking. However, when the two were in the same room, it was difficult to find a moment when he wasn’t gazing fondly in her direction. Anyone seeing them together knew she owned his heart.
The conviction that a man shouldn’t judge a woman solely on her physical beauty was a sentiment echoed by Brandon Grayhawk, a family friend who was fond of telling me I would never be completely happy with any woman until I met and settled down with my sheenea. While we were both Native American, I was much more Americanized then Brandon and his family.
Despite hearing it from my grandfather and Brandon, I can’t say I’d ever believed in the concept of a single woman who could meet both my sexual and emotional needs. Nor did the thought of marrying or even dating a plain Jane appeal to me. However, by the time I met Amber, I was open to the possibility of having a platonic relationship with a woman who didn’t excite me sexually.
Having accepted the fact that I yearned for more than any pretty woman I’d ever bedded have given me, I decided to separate my needs into two components with a woman or women to share each part of my life. When I was horny I’d still want a pretty woman in my bed. However once my sexual needs had been filled, I wanted to spend more time with an intelligent woman who possessed a sense of humor, who could hold a decent conversation, and who knew she had to work as hard as I did at maintaining a meaningful relationship. In other words I was looking for a friend of the opposite sex with absolutely no sexual benefits sought or given to share the rest of my life with.
I had no idea where I’d find such a woman until the night I met Amber at a party given by our mutual friend Grace. I was blown away within seconds of our introduction.
“Amber, this is John Reddorn. Johnny, this is Amber Hunt-Darkwater.”
Amber wore a dark red dress that fell below her knees and complimented her full-figured body. A simple gold chain drew attention to her large breasts. Everything about her was pleasingly dark: her hair, her eyes, and her skin. She had an amazing smile that lit up her eyes and transformed her face from plainness to worth a long, slow second look; several of them in fact.
She placed a soft warm hand in mine. “Hello Johnny or John?”
She had a sweet husky voice I could easily imagine myself listening to for hours without wishing she’d shut the fuck up and just take off her clothes. Her subtle perfume filled my nostrils and intoxicated my senses. Inexplicably thoughts of raw hot sex overwhelmed me. Get a grip, Reddorn. This is about friendship not sex.
I smiled and shook her hand. “My friends call me Johnny even though I prefer John.”
“I’ve paired the two of you together for the night,” Grace said. “So you might as well start getting to know each other now.” She winked and left us alone by the open French doors of her living room.
“Johnny it is then,” Amber said and laughed.
I liked her smile, the sound of her voice, her laughter, and the implication that we were going to be friends. I quickly dismissed the realization that even then I wanted more than friendship from her.
“Just kidding, John.”
Standing there looking at her I struggled to convince myself that I’d be content to spend an enjoyable evening with her and then say good night without any sexual tension between us. That’s what you want from her-friendship. Now all you have to do is convince a single, thirty something intriguing woman who is presumably looking for a romantic relationship that she and you should be platonic friends.
“Johnny is fine,” I said.
“Yes he is,” she said in a soft, suggestive voice that held enough emphasis to leave no doubt that she was flirting with me.
Although I was used to women coming onto me, the remark still surprised and pleased me. “What do your friends call you?”
“Amber.” She smiled. “Well, some of my family and friends call me Am. Yes, I know not very original, but there you have it. We’re a rather dull bunch.”
Even on our very short acquaintance, I couldn’t imagine anyone finding her dull. I sure as hell didn’t. “Are you here alone?”
“As a matter of fact…” She suddenly glanced over her shoulder and then turned to stare across the room.
Frowning, I looked too. She seemed to be staring at a tall, well-dressed male with dark skin and hair who was talking to a pretty brunette. I suppose women would consider him attractive. The fact that I found her watching another man while talking to me annoying should have sent up a warning flare. However, I’d never met anyone like her and so had no idea what was already happening to me.
“Do you know him?” I asked, making an effort to keep all traces of annoyance from my voice.
She sighed. “Don’t I wish?”
“You don’t know him?”
“Yes and no.”
“You either know him or you don’t.”
She cast a brief glance at me before turning her attention back to him. “We work together. So I know who he is and what he does for a living but I don’t know him nearly as well as I would like to.”
“What do you find so fascinating about him?”
“Are you serious?”
Damn right. I was also annoyed. “Absolutely.”
“What’s not fascinating? He’s Mr. Tall, dark, and handsome personified.”
I’d had more than one woman say the same about me. So why the hell was she staring at him instead of talking to me? “He seems fairly average looking to me.”
She finally turned her attention back to me. “That’s because you’re a heterosexual male.” She paused. “You are heterosexual? Aren’t you? I can see that you’re very male.”
It was about damn time she acknowledged the fact that I was male and inclined to be far more attentive than the object of her interest appeared to be. Call me vain or conceited but I wasn’t used to women ignoring me while showering their attention on other men. “I’m also very heterosexual.”
“And single?” She turned to stare in Mr. Fascination’s direction again, as if my answer wasn’t important.
“Divorced and annoyed,” I said.
“You’re the one standing by me while staring at him,” I said.
She surprised me by turning and slipping her arm through mine. “My apologies, John.” She smiled up at me and squeezed my arm.
I was not placated. I removed my arm from hers. “If you’re so interested in him, why don’t you go talk to him?” I suggested.
“Why don’t you go make him notice you?” She’d sure as hell made me notice her.
She nodded. “That was the game plan for tonight before Grace threw me a curve by pairing me with you instead of him.”
Knowing she’d rather be with him than me stung when it shouldn’t have. “Don’t let me stand in your way.”
She looked up at me. “You wouldn’t mind?”
I stared at her, annoyed that she felt the need to ask that question. “Why should I?”
She shrugged. “Oh, I don’t know. I thought you might like my company.”
Maybe I would if she could manage to tear her attention away from him. “Don’t let me stand in your way,” I said again.
“Who knows how to handle a man better than another man? I think you’re right, Johnny. Excuse me.” She pressed a quick kiss against the corner of my mouth.
While I suppressed an unwanted surge of desire, damn if she didn’t leave me to waltz across to join him. When she reached him he turned to face her with what looked like a welcoming smile on his face.
Watching, I clenched my teeth. That suggestion was not one of your brighter ideas, Johnny boy. Now you get to watch while she charms him.
“Bless my soul. That’s something you just don’t see every day.”
Making no effort to hide my annoyance, I turned to frown at Grace who’d walked across the room to stand at my side. “What soul?”
She laughed and slipped her arm through mine. “No need to get touchy, Johnny.”
“What can I do for you?”
She tilted her head and looked up at me. “When was the last time a woman walked away from you to go chase another man?”
“It’s been a while,” I admitted.
She looked at me in silence for several moments. “You’re pissed.”
Grace and I had known each other since we were toddlers. There was no point in denying the obvious. I nodded.
“She’s certainly not your usual type.”
She certainly wasn’t but the remark annoyed me because I felt she was implying I was incapable of finding an average looking woman worth my time.
She arched a brow. “But then maybe that’s why you’re interested.”
I removed my arm from hers. “I don’t recall saying I was interested.”
“The I’d–like–to–kill–you–where–you–stand gaze you had trained on Dr. Marton said it for you.”
So he was a doctor. Damn. Even though I could match bank balances with any doctor I’d ever met, single women were known to lose all semblance of commonsense in the present of an average looking unmarried doctor. There was something about the possibility of being a doctor’s wife that got their thong in a bunch.
“Or maybe the fact that she’d rather be with him than you is what’s pissing you off. You’re not used to having competition.”
She made me sound vain, arrogant, and personally interested in her plain friend. “I have no sexual interest in her.”
She gave me another long stare before she smiled. “Don’t worry. I’ll go pry her away from him and send her back to your waiting arms, lover.”
I frowned. “Sometimes I wonder what Paul sees in you,” I said of her husband who had been my college roommate and was currently away on military maneuvers.
“Probably the same thing you’re seeing in the deceptively plain Amber.”
Deceptively plain? That about summed her up. Plain and not worth a second look until she smiled and lured some unsuspecting man into a web he’d probably have a hell of a time extricating himself from if he weren’t very careful. Therefore, I’d need to exercise unusual caution with her. Honestly, I was impressed that the good doctor had somehow managed to remain untangled. Unless, of course, she annoyed on longer acquaintance.
“Don’t imagine things, Grace.”
“I’ll go get her,” she said as if I’d proclaimed an interest I was still assuring myself I didn’t feel.
Grace crossed the room. She spoke to them briefly before extending her hand to him. He smiled at Amber, took Grace into his arms, and they moved onto the dance floor.
Amber turned to look at me with what looked like a resigned smile on her face.
If she thought the grass was greener with him, she could stay there and water it. I shook my head to let her know I was no longer interested in spending any time with her. It would be the proverbial cold day in hell before I had to beg for a woman’s attention.
I left through the French doors, intent on walking around the house to the side street where I’d parked my car.
I glanced over my shoulder without stopping. Amber hurried towards the French doors. She’d had her chance and blown it. I kept walking.
She called out to me again. “John! Wait. Please. If you force me to run in these heels I’m going to trip and then you’re going to have a devil of a time picking me up.”
Even though I was pissed, I stopped and turned to watch her running to catch up with me.
She stopped in front of me just beyond the patio. “You’re angry.”
I was but didn’t feel like admitting it. “I don’t have the time or the inclination to play games with you.”
She tilted her head and smiled at me. “With the right person, games can be fun, Johnny.”
Why the hell did I like the way she called me Johnny? “For boys,” I countered.
“I sometimes like them too. They can add spice to a relationship.”
“You and I don’t have a relationship.”
“I kind of thought we could.”
“Why the hell would you think that?”
She shrugged. “I can see you’re annoyed, but it was your idea that I go talk to him,” she reminded me.
How the hell was I supposed to know she’d dump me for him without a moment’s hesitation? “How did that work out for you?”
“I’m not sure yet. Grace interrupted just as things were getting interesting.” She frowned. “Did you send her?”
“No, I did not!”
She held up her hands, palms outward. “Fine. Just asking. No need to blow a gasket.”
“Haven’t you ever heard of loving the one you’re with?” I paused and suppressed a frown. Where the hell had that sorry ass whine come from?
She nodded. “I’ve heard of it, but falling for you wouldn’t be any more beneficial than falling for him. Would it?”
I inhaled slowly and stared at her. She was so damned average looking she was just a breath away from being plain. Why the hell was I wasting my time trying to convince her that she should spend her time with me instead of him?
When I remained silent, she slipped her arm through mine and turned that sweet, sexy smile of hers on me. “Unless…”
“My mother always says it’s easier to get a man if you already have one or if he thinks you already have one.”
So she didn’t have a man in her life. Surprising but good to know.
“I don’t suppose you’d like to pretend to be my boyfriend.”
My exasperation at the question surprised me. Did I look like a damned boy? “Boyfriend?” I shook my head. “No.”
“Darn. Oh well there was no harm in asking.” She removed her arm from mine. “I hope we’ll see each other again.”
I should have known I was in trouble when I realized that even as she pissed me off, I wanted to spend time with her and get to know her. Annoyed at my unexpected reaction to her, I didn’t respond even though I shared that hope.
She sighed. “I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to know each other, John.”
When I remained silent, she walked back towards the house.
She’d nearly reached the French doors before I admitted to myself that there was no way in hell I was going to let her walk away from me again without a fight. “Amber?”
She quickly retraced her steps. “Yes, John?”
“I won’t pretend to be your boyfriend.”
She blinked. “You didn’t call me back to restate that fact.”
Intelligent and intriguing. “No.”
“Good. Let’s deal with the but so we can get this party started.”
I shrugged. “But I have no objection to pretending to be your man.”
“My man. Amber’s man John. It has a nice ring to it. Don’t you think, Johnny?”
I couldn’t ever remember meeting a woman with such ordinary looks who was so confident. I liked her self-assurance and damn if I didn’t like everything about her. I smiled but remained silent.
She slipped her arm through mine again. “I’d love having you as my man, Johnny but what will you get out of it?”
“I’m looking for a female friend without any physical or sexual benefits attached.”
I nodded. “Really.”
She gave me a long look. “You did say you were straight.”
“I’m very straight.”
“Then why are you only interested in a platonic relationship? Have you been hurt?”
I was fortunate in that I had never been turned down by a woman I really wanted so had never had my heart broken. “No.”
“Then why are you looking for friendship from a woman instead of an intimate relationship?” She paused. “You…Can you…Are you able to…”
It didn’t take a genius to figure out what she wanted to ask. “I have a normal sexual appetite which I’m fully capable of acting on without any artificial help,” I assured her. “And I’m skillful enough to ensure it’s equally as enjoyable for my partner.”
I arched a brow.
She looked at me and then laughed. “It would be a shame for you to be either gay, asexual, or unable to…perform.”
“As I said, I’m straight and have a normal sex drive. I can and do get sex from almost any woman I want it from,” I said.
She gave me a long look before she smiled. “I’ll just bet you can. You almost make me wish I was the lucky woman on the receiving end of all that skill.”
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