Rule of Thumb
Emmet had never expected that the two of them would meet, not in his worst dreams: the thought of their coming together horrified him so much that he simply discounted the possibility of it ever happening.
But here they were, just days later, the three of them together. He looked on numbly as they shook hands, smiled, told each other what they had heard of the other. The restaurant was crowded, the two of them strained to hear the other’s words. Emmet watched with rictus grin, waiting for the worst that he felt was almost bound to occur.
Could Jessica, the woman he shared an office with, reveal the story of their indiscretion? But, of course, it damned her too, so would she really say anything? He really didn’t know her that well, consequently he expected the worst, for her to blurt out the whole thing. What if she got really drunk, as she had before? Bettina, his lovely dark eyed waif of a wife suspected nothing. If Jessica told her, she would be the recipient of a shock the magnitude of… He cast about for a suitable metaphor, but could only come up with visions of naked bodies blasted asunder: arms, legs and other body parts, carnage floating in on the tide of a bloody sea. The blasting asunder bit surprised him; from what sick part of his psyche did such a violent image arise?
The naked bodies, however – well, that was pretty much how it all began, wasn’t it?
He had been in full control of his faculties that day. He had had a few beers but he wasn’t even mildly buzzed. She was so sozzled, however, that she could barely get out of her chair.
The office holiday party had lasted only a few hours. They had all knocked off work early and broke out the drinks and hors d’oeuvres. The corks were popped on the few champagne bottles that had been chilling in the crowded little fridge since that morning. New Year toasts were made. People ate, drank and chatted. Someone put on some music, a few couples danced. The mood was festive.
Jessica had downed three full glasses of wine in swift succession. Emmet didn’t see this; a colleague told him. “She’ll be looped before the party’s through,” he said.
Somewhere along the line Jessica ended up dancing with Emmet cheek to cheek. He smelled the sour wine on her breath, had to prod and push her along in their dance in order to lead. “Sorry,” she whispered as they parted when the music paused between numbers “I usually dance better than that.”
“You weren’t so bad. Very loose.”
“I’ve been told that before,” she said as she poured herself another glass of Zinfandel. “You felt nice there, against me.”
He thanked her, not knowing what else to say. She giggled at his unease, and then tossed back the last half of the glass of wine. “That’s it for me,” she said, looking for a place to set the glass down. She bent over, her skirt riding up past her mid-thigh, and set it on the carpet. “I gotta be going home.” She looked at Emmet appraisingly and giggled again. “Why… you ask?”
“No, I didn’t,” he said, but decided to play along with whatever game she wanted to play. “So, OK, tell me…why?”
“So “I can get naked and finger myself.” Jessica waited for his reaction. Whatever she saw in his face seemed to satisfy her. “I come like a demon when I’m wasted,” she said, her voice sweet, yet seductively soft. “And it doesn’t matter if I’m alone or with someone.”
She looked down at his crotch, and then up at his face, her eyes glazed. “I can’t drive like this,” and she stumbled a step as if to illustrate her point. “Give me a lift? I don’t live very far.”
“Well, I….” said Emmet. He looked over her young, slender and supple body, her long legs and pretty face and felt a burgeoning erection.
“Please,” she said, her voice as sweet as ever, but this time without innuendo. “Just a ride, a lift. If I drive, I’ll have an accident, I just know it.”
Emmet agreed to take her back to her place. He called Bettina first, to let her know what was what, that he had to give a workmate a lift home, that ‘he’ was too incapacitated to drive. She understood, was fine with that. He said that he loved her, that he would make it as quick as possible.
On the drive to her apartment, Jessica kept up a muttered soliloquy. He couldn’t quite follow everything she said but he was sure she mentioned Donnie, a boyfriend or fiancé, faithfulness, plans for the future. When they arrived Jessica complained of dizziness. He managed to get her out of the car and, with an arm around her waist and her head lolling on his shoulder, he walked her up the steps to her apartment.
He helped her open the door and turned on the light. She shielded her eyes from the sudden glare and swayed unsteadily. She reached for him to support her as she kicked off her shoes. “Over here,” she said, dropping her purse on a chair as she indicated the way. She led him to another door, this one to the dim recess of a tiny bathroom. She didn’t turn on the light this time. Bending at the waist, her hand on the wall for steadiness, she reached under her skirt and stripped her panty hose down to her ankles, kicking them into the corner by the door. This maneuver, though lasting only a second, gave Emmet a flash of upper thigh, buttock and gluteal crack. About as much as you’d see on a beach, he later told himself. But he watched Jessica smiling as she hiked her skirt and unceremoniously sat down on the toilet to noisily empty her bladder. “Rent wine,” she said, “not buy it.”
At this point he became aroused and muttered something about having to get going.
“Compromising position,” she said, nodding, as she wiped herself.
“Yes,” he said, now nervous as well as mildly horny.
She walked toward him, letting her skirt drop back down as she came past him into the narrow hallway and on into her small bedroom. She turned to him with an expression of innocence and said, “Am I attractive to you?
“Silly question. Of course you are,” he said.
“Want to make love to me?” He didn’t answer for a moment, so she continued, “Not that we would, but do you want to?”
“Put that way, then yes. I would very much want to.”
She shook her head and sighed. “I don’t mean to sound like a tease. It’s just that things haven’t been going all that well sexually with Donnie. I seem to want more of it than he’s willing to give. I don’t know, maybe he can’t get it up as often as I’d like him to, or else he just won’t….” She looked at Emmet and giggled. “You’ve got that ‘should I be hearing this?’ kind of look on your face. Anyway, I wouldn’t cheat on the guy. Well, not vaginally, anyway. I love him too much to lie to him like that. But anyway, I’m sorry…. I shouldn’t….”
“No need to be sorry,” Emmet said, commiserating, while not entirely following her logic.
“Anyhow, like I told you, I get a little tipsy and with it come the hornies and I know that all you or anyone — even me – would have to do is just touch my clitty now…” she pulled up her skirt to the waist to expose legs, thighs, the V of her bush; she touched a finger to the vertical line not quite hidden in the pubic curls, “…and I’d come buckets in seconds.”
“And you say you’re not a tease,” said Emmet, looking down at her.
Jessica looked down at herself and back up to him. “You going to jump my bones, drop your drawers and fuck me right here?”
“No,” he said, uncertain as to whether this was invitation, and what he would do if it were.
“Then what’s the harm of looking?”
“Nothing, I guess,” he said, now feeling comfortable in his just looking, studying the swell of her hips, the line of flesh from knee to vulva, watched her finger play along the labial divide, up and down, applying increasing pressure on each upstroke until the tip of the finger slid between the lips and emerged glistening, trailing a tendril of clear mucous in the hair.
She moaned, and then turned from him toward the queen size bed that nearly filled the room. She bent over, spreading her legs wide as she mooned him, bracing herself against the bed by leaning on the mattress with her head. She showed off the cleft of her ass as she masturbated, roughing her clitoris with deep strokes, groaning louder and deeper as an orgasm began to roll and buck through her.
“My ass,” she said through the gurgling noises in her throat. A hand wavered beside her left buttock, gesturing, then cupped the globe of flesh and gently pulled it aside to reveal her anus. It winked and gaped with each of her manipulations. “Not cheating,” she said. “Not cheating if it’s in the ass.”
And Emmet absolutely believed her; somehow he was willing to take Jessica’s encouragement, her convenient justification for doing this. He was quite complicit in this connivance. He touched and prodded, and then carefully pushed his thumb into her anal opening, gauging how easily she would (and yes, she definitely would, he could tell) take him. His hand was already at his fly, ready to zip down, free his insistently erect cock, to lay the glans at the twitching opening then slide his member in, up to the hilt. By now totally convinced by Jessica’s logic about this not being a violation of any marital vow, any understanding he had with Bettina.
With his free hand he was already dropping his trousers and shorts, ready to take aim when she urged, “Oh, Donnie, do it now!”
But Emmet couldn’t. He gently withdrew his thumb and stood, staring, as she had one rolling orgasm after another, her hips bucking, her sex wet and swollen. “Nnngh! Donnie!” she whined.
He hiked up his pants, turned and left Jessica’s apartment, pulling the door shut. Even with the door closed he could hear her faint, inarticulate climax following him out into the early evening.
When he got home he washed his hands three times before dinner. He made love to Bettina twice that night, surprising and delighting her with his affectionate ardor. Afterwards, sated and feeling morally pure (since after all, nothing had really happened), he fell into a deep sleep filled with dreams that he could not remember the next morning.
Now, today, in the restaurant: Bettina and Jessica. Emmet is sweating in the air conditioning. But it turns out that everything is cordial, when they leave they shake hands with genuine smiles. So nothing to worry about: he’s in the clear. The weekend will continue, calm and uneventful.
Monday, back at work.
Emmet cornered Jessica in the hallway and thanked her for being so nice to his wife.
“What?” she said, a little offended. “Why wouldn’t I be nice to her? She’s good people…”
“I know,” he said, “but under the circumstances….”
“The circumstances?” she said, momentarily at a loss. Then her expression changed.
“What? You think I’d let the cat out of the bag? Come on Emmet – give me some credit. I mean – I’ve got my Donnie to think of, too.”
Now it was Emmet’s turn to be confused (cat?), but only for less than a second.
“Ah,” he said, “you mean…”
She eyed him as if he were a moron.
“The doing,” she said with a nod. That is what she called it: doing. “Or whatever you like to call it: humping, doing it anally, butt fucking, up the wazoo…. Whatever.”
“I know what you’re talking about,” he said, annoyed. “Because I didn’t….”
“Didn’t?” she said. “Oh, please, don’t give me that ‘I never’ bit. I felt you back there…. In there….”
“In there?” he muttered, uncomprehending, recalling the pants around his knees, the touching, recalling the poking, the thumb penetration. Uh-oh, he thought. That must have been it. In her state of – call it reduced anal sensitivity – she must have assumed he was entering her as she had implored him to do. And assumed that he had.
“But I…” he began but she wouldn’t let him finish.
“Hey, I’m not complaining, mind you,” she said. “I mean I loved it. It kept me coming until I couldn’t stand it anymore. But that was it, the one and only time… never again, you and me. Unless you get me ripping drunk again, and you can be sure I’m not about to let that happen again.
“No,” he said sincerely, suddenly unequal to the effort of explaining himself. “It won’t happen again.”
With that said, he felt safe, yet somehow unsettled, too. He couldn’t quite define the feeling. Relief? Yes, that was part of it. She assumed that it had happened the way she said and, for her own reasons, wasn’t going to tell anyone about it. The secret was safe. But this was more than just a distortion of the truth in which he was complicit. Awareness was slowly dawning upon him that his behavior throughout the whole Jessica thing had been anything but decent. He sat down to work at his desk, thinking, “And now I’m living a lie.”
He settled into his chair and gazed at his reflection in the monitor of his dormant computer.
“You shit,” he said to it, not much liking the person he saw there anymore.