- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
She opened the dresser drawer and pulled out a condom, then stared at herself in the mirror trying to make excuses for the reason she was going out again. She felt ill as she thought of her life, and the lie that she had been living. Thinking about it only made it worse, but it still made her realize right from wrong. And what she did was wrong; dangerously wrong, enough to ruin her life forever. The life she lived was spinning out of control as the nights grew dark beyond darkness and the days more gray than the day before.
Autumn pushed the condom inside her purse, strutted to the living room and out the door. She drove off without giving her behavior another thought.
Autumn was a fifth-grade schoolteacher and was loved by all the children. She was a member of the PTA and worked alongside the principal to make a difference for the children in Compton, California. She was nominated twice for teacher of the year, and every child wanted to be in her classroom. Autumn was soft-spoken, she wore small black-framed glasses, and her black hair hung to her shoulders. The thought of losing her career because of her behavior made her ill.
Autumn parked her car in front of a small bar on the corner of Grand Avenue in El Segundo, California. She ambled inside the bar, adjusted her eyes to the darkness, and headed for the bar. Autumn knew it would take only minutes before a gentleman would send her a drink, and as always, a drink was sent to her before she finished the first one she'd ordered. She spotted a tall gentleman and swirled around on the barstool to give him a dazzling smile.
The man was sitting alone in the corner. He got up and asked Autumn to join him, and she accepted. She took full measure of him as he pulled a chair out for her. He was handsome enough; the scent of his cologne was stimulating. He also looked as though he was married-the well-kept type-not that it made any difference to her. She would be with him only one night. Funny how she had learned to tell the married from the single ones, and the single from the gay ones.
"What's your name, honey?" the man asked.
"Mary Kay." Rule one, she never gave her real name, where she lived, or what she did for a living. No one needed to know.
"My name is Jerome." He smiled and noticed her sexy, full lips.
Autumn was sure Jerome wasn't his real name. He was out to get laid just as she was. After a short conversation, and knowing his purpose, she would perform her charade as always. After one drink, she picked up her purse and pretended that it was time for her to leave.
"You're leaving me so soon, Mary Kay? We haven't had time to get to know each other yet."
"Sorry, but I have a full day's work tomorrow. I have to get up at five in the morning." She smiled as she saw the need in his eyes. He wanted her.
"Come on, spend some time with me. I hate going home to a lonely, cold house," he pleaded. "I'll take you to a nice hotel, anything you want. I just don't want to go home now. You see, my mother is gravely ill and I had to get out of the house to clear my head. I can make you sleep like a baby when you get home."
She looked at his face and knew that he was lying, but so was she. Finally, she nodded with approval. "I don't usually do this the first night that I meet a man." Autumn always made the men think her sleeping with them was their idea, and they treated her as though they were the luckiest men alive.
Autumn followed Jerome in her car. He made a left into the parking lot of the Hilton Hotel. They got out of their cars and walked inside. She waited in the lobby while Jerome went to register, which took only ten minutes.
Once they were in the room, he kissed her tenderly. Jerome began to undress her with skilled, fast hands, and Autumn lay on her back, brown thighs slightly parted. She watched him as he finished undressing himself and lay next to her. His body was long, dark, and well built. His face was young; he was maybe even five years younger than she.
"Do you want me? Do you want me?" she insisted. She had to hear it, and she had to know that he wanted her even more than she wanted him. Hearing it was one more reason to have sex with him, because he wanted her, too.
"Baby, I want you, I want you."
She felt him touch her, heard his moans, as she purred like a cat. She wanted him, needed his touch, his kiss, and, finally, she needed the contact that she was seeking; she needed him to enter her. Autumn took all of him, and he satisfied her urgent need for sex, and fed the need that stayed inside her. Then she got on top so she could feel him even deeper, bigger. He sent her where she needed to be. She wanted to be satisfied beyond her dreams. They made love for hours before Autumn decided it was time to leave.
Autumn didn't mind staying out so late. She had made up her mind that she would stop living two lives and get help.
After she had finished dressing, he offered her his business card. "You may need me again, and I want to spend more time with you. Just call me anytime during the day, and I will meet you."
He gave her a wide, alluring smile that warmed her heart. She reached for the card with trembling hands, and pulled her eyes from his face. Maybe if she used it, she would no longer have to go to bars and pick up strange men. But once she stepped out of the room, she crumpled the card and dropped it in a wastepaper basket next to the door. She didn't want to remember him, and she didn't want to see him again.
She had to stop before it was too late.
* * *
"Good afternoon, Autumn. I tried to come and see you earlier, but I had a busy morning," Diane said.
Autumn was eating a salad she'd made for lunch. She was eating at her desk, and a Pepsi sat in front of her. "I've been busy, too, and Kenya had a crying fit because I gave her a C on her book report. She's used to getting As and Bs. I tried to explain it to her that she just made an A on the math test last Monday."
"She's a smart child."
"I know," Autumn said, wiping the corner of her left eye. "Has anyone in Dorsey's family called today? I didn't get much sleep last night after her sister said the cancer had spread through her body."
"Dorsey is the reason I came to see you. She died at five this morning. The staff is really going to miss her."
"What?" Autumn asked. "I can't believe that I just saw her three days ago and now she's gone." Autumn was holding her Pepsi and set it back on her desk. "I just can't believe it."
Unable to speak, Diane only nodded.
Autumn stood up and walked to the window. The children were playing on the bars, and Kenya was laughing. She seemed to have gotten over the C on her book report. Funny how children cry about one thing, and fifteen minutes later they've gone on to something different.
"Did you know that we were the same age?" Diane asked.
Autumn took her seat again. "Yes, I knew."
Diane looked at her watch. "Lunch will be over soon. I just wanted you to know."
"Thanks." Autumn took a deep breath and watched Diane as she walked out the door. She and Dorsey had been so close. As Autumn placed her hands against her face, Dorsey's death hit her in the pit of her stomach.
Autumn stepped inside her apartment, undressed, and went to the shower. Once she finished, she filled a glass with white wine and relaxed on the sofa.
She called Matthew, but he said that he was busy and would call her later if it wasn't too late when he got off duty. She slammed the phone down hard and was sorry before it hit the cradle. Matthew was a doctor, after all, and had lives to save. She had no right to be angry.
Autumn got up and refilled her glass with wine. Maybe if she drank enough, she would stay home and fall asleep. But the urges were taking over her mind and body. The sexual compulsiveness was intoxicating. The need for sexual contact was stronger than ever before, and the wine was causing her to feel light-headed. She should have known better than to drink on an empty stomach. The wine had gone to her head, and the urges were ruling her body and taking control of her mind. There wasn't anything she could do to stop it. Dorsey's death had taken a toll on her. By seven-thirty, Autumn was slipping into a tight pair of jeans and strutting fast out the door.
The quiet gentleman observed Autumn sitting at the bar, with a martini on the counter in front of her and a man that seemed to be annoying her. He was vociferous and had no respect for women.
"If you didn't want to be picked up, then why would you come into a bar, and why accept my drink?" he asked. He was glaring dangerously.
Autumn realized that she had made a mistake by accepting his drink or talking to him in the first place. He was beginning to frighten her, and as she held the glass, she had to force her fingers to stop quivering. She felt relieved to see the tall gentleman approaching.
"The lady was waiting for me. We had planned to meet here."
Autumn looked up at his face, and he winked and smiled down at her.
"Why didn't you say that you were here to meet someone, woman? You need to lay off the alcohol," he said as he pushed his empty glass across the bar and stormed out the door.
"Thanks. I was beginning to think that I was in trouble," Autumn said.
"You were getting there. What are you doing out here alone anyway?"
"Venting. I lost someone that I care about. Since I have to drive home, I better ease up on the drinking, like the man said."
"That's very wise."
She knew that she should go home, but she hadn't gotten what she needed, and she enjoyed looking at the hunk who stood in front of her. She took pleasure in his company, the smell of his cologne, the sound of his deep voice, and the full, sexy lips.
He looked at her finger, but there were no rings. A woman so beautiful had to have a man in her life, even if she wasn't married. Her brown skin was clear, her almond-shaped eyes were brown, and she had a nice figure. So, why was she in a bar, and alone, he wondered.
"So, who are you going home to tonight?" Autumn asked playfully.
The man looked down at her and smiled. "No one. I live alone." He sat on the barstool next to her and ordered a glass of wine. "My name is Jeff, what's yours?"
"My name is ... Sharon." She held out her hand, and he took it.
Even though she had had a little too much to drink, he sensed her hesitation when he asked her name. And he was sure that it wasn't Sharon. "Can you drive home?" he asked with concern.
"I think so. But I have to if I'm going to get there."
Now, what was he going to do about her? No way would he leave her here. He would feel horrible if he read in the newspaper that she was found dead. Any man who came here after he left would want her and try to take advantage of the opportunity. He had to send her home in a taxi. He looked into her eyes; they were sad. The saddest eyes he had ever seen. But she was a desirable woman.
Autumn edged on the barstool so she could get closer to him. He saw the deep V-shape in the front of her sweater and the top of her bursting brown, smooth breasts. Her full red lips were turned up into a soft lazy smile; she was seducing him, luring him like a magnet. And he had lost all will to refuse her. Jeff looked deeply into her eyes; Autumn knew exactly what she was doing.
Autumn knew that she had him and he wanted her as much as she needed him. After all, he was a man.
"You don't really want to go home?" he asked.
"I don't think so, though I should."
"I can't let you drive, but if you go with me I'll bring you back to your car."
"I can't stay out too late, I'm a working woman," she whispered as she moved even closer to him.
"I'm a working man, so I can't stay out too late either." He had intended to buy himself only one glass of wine and go home. He had worked late and was still tense, but he hadn't anticipated spending time with a strange woman. Jeff reached for her hand. "Shall we leave?"
"Yes." She followed him outside.
Jeff helped Autumn inside his black Lexus SUV. Even in the dark, it shined like new. As he drove, he smiled when he saw Autumn lay her head back on the seat and close her eyes. He talked to her to keep her awake. Fifteen minutes later, he was in the parking lot of the Marriott Hotel in Marina Del Rey.
The lobby was quiet, with a short line of people checking in. "Here, you have a seat and I'll check in," Jeff said and gave Autumn's hand a gentle squeeze.
She watched as he walked away. Maybe it was the wine, but she felt a hint of aloneness as he left her. Even when he was at the counter being waited on, she watched him. There was something quiet and calm about him. He had a handsome, chiseled face and a cleft chin. His broad shoulders appeared powerful and his legs were long.
Jeff was back and reached for her hand. He led her from the elevator to Room 206, holding the door open for her to walk inside.
Autumn was still a bit light-headed, the wine buzzing in her head. She felt warm and sexy. She kicked off her shoes, and pulled her sweater over her head.
Jeff couldn't pull his eyes away as she undressed. Her body was curvy and brown, her breasts were beautiful, and her red panties were lace. She pulled the covers back and lay on the bed, waiting patiently for him.
Autumn watched him as he pulled off his watch and placed it on the nightstand. He was well-built and well worth waiting for. As though he'd forgotten, he picked up his trousers and pulled a condom from his pocket. She was relieved that he used caution. She never had sex with any of the men without a condom.
He lay on the bed beside her and gathered her in his arms. "You don't have to do anything that you don't want to."
"I know."' She turned to face him, and he kissed her. Autumn gently whispered in his ear, "Do you want me, Jeff? Tell me now. Do you really want me?"
"I want you, baby. You know that I want you," he whispered softly, pulling her closer to him.
She gasped as his warm tongue circled the tip of her nipples. He raised her legs even higher, and she wrapped them around him. She wanted this man inside of her, deep, deep inside her. She wanted him over and over again. No, it was the wine. He could mean nothing more to her. And why would he want a woman who slept with a stranger? No, it was too much wine. The rule was never to see them again, never get attached or answer too many questions, and Jeff was no different.
"Do you love it, Sharon? Say it's good." He was deep inside her, then grabbed her hips and pulled her closer to him. "Do you love it, baby? Say it so I can hear."
"I love it, I love it. Now, now," she said in a rush. No one had ever handled her so gently, but held her firmly with deep strokes, making her feel every inch of him, and she wanted more. Her sweaty body arched up to him, taking all she needed.
After two orgasms, she forgot that she was with a stranger. It was as though they had known each other before. No man had ever taken her so expertly and made her want so much more. No man.
They made love for hours, and when he let her go, she fell into a deep slumber.
The next morning the sun streamed through the windows, waking her with a start. She opened one eye, feeling the sun glaring against her face, and the pain throbbed in her left temple. Then she slowly opened both eyes. The room was spinning as she looked around for anything familiar to help her remember the night before. Autumn sat up straight, her heartbeat quickening. Where was she, who had she been with? She could hardly remember his face. Finally, it started to float back. He was tall, nice, but she couldn't visualize his face and didn't remember his name. "My car?" she said out loud. "Did I drive my car?" She held both hands against her temples, trying to remember. Autumn got out of bed; she was naked. Then she saw a one-hundred-dollar bill and a note on the nightstand.
Left money for a taxi. Your car is parked in the parking lot at the Townhouse on La Tijera and Centinela. I had a wonderful time. Jeff. The note was impersonal, sweet and short, no last name, no phone number, and no I want to see you again. But wasn't that the way she always wanted it? He made sure that he didn't give her any unnecessary information about himself. Who is he, and how will I know it's him if I see him again? she thought. One hundred dollars; did he think she was a hooker? Of course he did. She felt tears on her cheeks and wiped them with the back of her hand. Another man, another hotel. It all had to end.
Autumn peeked out the window, then picked up a magazine. It was addressed to the Marriott in Marina Del Rey. Well, the man wasn't cheap. She could say that much for him.
It was six o' clock, and Autumn only had time to call a taxi, get her car, then go home to shower and get to school. But deep inside, she felt different than she had with the other men. She felt cheap, and the money he left only made her feel worse. If only she hadn't drunk so much, then she could remember his face.
Excerpted from Back To Basics by Patricia Anne Phillips Copyright © 2009 by Patricia Anne Phillips. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.