They'd exchanged emails and tweets for several years after a particular political convention. She thought he was sweetly charming; he thought she was funny-sassy.
He'd begun to pay close attention to her after his then-girlfriend overheard her tell yet another common friend that he was awfully cute. The girlfriend didn't last much longer than the convention, but the messages Edward and Bella exchanged afterward outlasted a couple terms in Congress and a president.
They flirted mano-a-mano at various conferences. At each one she kissed his cheek a little firmly, a little too long on greeting him, and perhaps a bit too close to his warm full lips. He hugged her just a little too close, his left arm around and parallel to her bust line, and his right arm conveniently pulling her hips in tightly towards his, his nose in her dark brown tresses as he squeezed her small frame.
During the worst of the keynote speeches by blowhard political pundits, they'd sit together. He'd lean in towards her, elbows on the table, his hands clasped below his chin, watching her closely. Very closely; she could feel his breath on her forearms resting on the table.
When a talking head said something particularly egregious, she'd lean in closely to make a joke, breathing the punchline into his ear so closely that her lips touched the fine, nearly invisible hairs on the skin of his earlobe and tragus, tickling his entire ear and sending ripples of heat down to his crotch. He'd squirm in his seat to adjust himself while hoping for yet another egregious comment, followed by a breathy joke.
They bought each other drinks at these events, chatting each other up and sharing gossip, while stroking each other's egos.
He felt powerful, masculine, omnipotent next to her petite, slight form. She felt sexy, desired, wanton in range of his body heat. He didn't feel his youth; she didn't feel her age.
But the last annual conference was a little different. She had begun to feel her age in his presence after all this time, and it overwhelmed her.
He'd mentioned in conversation his deceased mother, acknowledging the anniversary of her passing after a long battle with cancer.
His mother had been only five years older than she was; under different, less mortal circumstances, she might have been a very good friend of hers. She realized with a start she was old enough to be his mother, even if it would have been a teenage pregnancy.
She'd bought them each a beer, and then another as they listened to back-to-back desultory speeches and pointless presentations. He thanked her, then leaned in and whispered into her ear, "You know, you have never taken advantage of me," taking a robust swig of the second beer as if to punctuate his point.
She watched his lips leave the neck of the bottle; she wanted to taste the beer on them, on his tongue, so badly. She wanted to lap a body shot of that golden lager from his navel...
He smiled as he looked down through his thick brushy lashes at her, one eyebrow cocked slightly, his pale, russet-haired forearms crossed over as if daring her.
Her eyes opened wide; this was it, he was calling her on it, all the flirtatiousness they'd indulged in for the last several years now laid bare, like cards on the table.
Put up or shut up.
She could see the lust in his eyes; she could almost feel his heart beating a little faster with desire. Could he smell it on her, the arousal he was triggering with his presence? Was she in heat?
His nostrils flared ever so slightly, as if answering her question. He was still waiting for her response.
Her heart fluttered as if gathering and clenching to wield what little power it had over the hormone-driven parts of her body.
She couldn't do it; in her heart she could hear his dead mother's voice, so proud of the man he'd become, wanting him to continue to realize the rest of the man he could be.
A family man with a young, fecund wife and green-eyed, russet-haired babies.
She could hear her own voice saying the same things to her own son. He was only a pre-pubescent youth now, but soon to be a strapping young man too, like the one on whose lap she nearly sat right now. The idea of a woman more than twice his age entering a sexual relationship with him twisted her gut.
No. She was going to have to put on her bitch and embrace Pinkola-Estes' maxim, "A good mother knows when to bring death."*
Like putting a sickly wolf pup down, the she-wolf would have to bring death to save good lives. She would have to kill the hope he had that she'd be his; she'd have to kill her own hope of ever tasting the sweet youth he promised. She had to make this sacrifice to save the potential that lay ahead of him and whomever that younger woman would be.
She leaned in close, unblinking as she looked deeply into his eyes and said, "Little one, I can't take advantage of you."
He looked surprised, his eyebrows raised, as if he couldn't believe what she said.
She closed her eyes as she leaned in closer, again breathing into his ear. "You heard me, Edward. I can't take advantage of you, little one."
She leaned back into her seat, crossed her arms and looked away towards the speaker behind the podium. It was idle, meaningless chatter not worth listening to; she couldn't hear it anyhow as it was drowned out by the rapid thrum of the mother's heart in her chest, beneath her soft mother's breasts.
He nudged her once with his elbow, then poked her a few seconds later with his fingers to gain her attention.
"Bella, I'm not your damned 'little one,'" he said, soto voce. His hackles were up; she could feel the anger rolling off him. He'd taken offense, mistaking her words as derogatory commentary on his person.
She turned her body slightly towards him, to acknowledge him. She put her left arm around him to lean on the back of his chair and held out her right hand, asking for him to place his larger hand in hers.
She took only his ever-so-long index and middle fingers and squeezed them.
Squeezed them, like her pussy would have squeezed his long thick cock, had she fled with him upstairs to his hotel room to lie hungrily beneath him.
"No, sweetie, I know full well you are no 'little one,'" she said, squeezing again his fingers to make her point clear. "But you are someone else's little one and I cannot do this."
His eyes plead with hers; she knew he wouldn't beg, but he looked on the verge.
She leaned in and gave him a mother's kiss on his lovely cheek, rose from the table and walked away.
She cried alone in her hotel room that evening as she packed and left in the morning as soon as the first shuttles left for the airport.
Once at the airport she called home and spoke with her son and told him she was on her way home.
"Yes, Seth, I'll cook your favorite meal of scalloped potatoes and ham when I got home. Be a good boy as always and I'll see you soon. Love you."
She didn't attend this year's political conference; she spent that week instead with her son and her ex on a long overdue camping trip.
She didn't miss the dreary speeches or the tedious presentations at all.
~ 0 ~ X ~ 0 ~ X ~ 0 ~
* Source: Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype, by Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, PhD (c. 1992)
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