C.J. looked at the stick in front of her, before laying it down with the tidy row of them on her bathroom floor.
This one was color coded like the rest of them, pink if you were; blue if you're not…she supposed she could have answered the most important question of her life by picking daisies instead.
That would have gone over well…take up a handful of them, tackle the flowers one by one, one he got me pregnant, and one he got me not. Only wait a minute, it takes two to tangle, right, so maybe that needed some rewording. She had left him last night, without saying very much. Both of them had been working very hard lately so it had been hard to blame the overwhelming fatigue she had experienced on that and the traveling that she had just done.
But the nausea that had been a recent addition to her morning awakenings, that could only be attributed to a stomach flu for say, a week maybe? After that, she had to start looking for other causes.
So she had called Maureen her closest female friend who ran the list of considerations, triggered by some very pointed questions she asked during their chat on the phone.
And when she asked her point blank if she'd been hitting the sheets with any men lately C.J. had just gotten very quiet. And even before being prompted by Maureen, she had begun counting backwards. But no, she couldn't be…no not pregnant but Maureen had just advised her to go to the pharmacy and buy the damn tests already, and then gave her a list of brands to consider.
"You got to do this very methodically," Maureen said, "If you have one positive, it might be wrong but ten of them will never lie to you."
So she had bought...a dozen to be safe and had not so deftly conducted the sample collection.
And the first six she had run had come up positive.
That left her with one unavoidable conclusion, that the encounter she had with her best friend and business partner had gotten her pregnant.
She showered and got dressed in her weekend wardrobe of faded jeans and a work shirt to tackle some gardening in her backyard. She had prepared a couple of the flower beds for some colorful bushes that would blossom with flowers which would attract butterflies. Anything to get her mind off of the tests and off him, the way he had looked at her and the ways his hands had felt on her skin.
On that one special night nearly two months ago….when they had broken all the rules that they had somehow created over their business partnership and their even older friendship.
Matt Houston, the man that had grown into her closest friend through some of the best of what life offered and some of its worst. They had met up on an elementary school playground and competed against each other in gymkhanas as kids. Their friendship had grown along with them even as they had matured and discovered pleasurable things to do with the opposite sex. They had explored sexual relationships with other people but never each other.
That had worked for the years they finished high school, spent a good span years including college, law school, military assignments apart before reuniting to start a new business together. They had worked hard together to turn that into a mighty success.
She got down on her knees and started the delicate job of transplanting the bushes, a ritual she enjoyed doing every year when she had time as more and more of her yard became a colorful garden.
But despite that, somehow her mind still had difficulty wrapping around the concept that she might be pregnant.
She thought about Matt and how he had spent a lot of time mountain climbing since his engagement broke up a few months ago. He and an Irish heiress named Elizabeth had been just about to exchange wedding vows at the country club, in the corner of the property located on a bluff looking over the ocean.
But then he hadn't been able to marry her and they broke up, she remembered as she packed the dirt around one plant. She reached for her water bottle because the day had been getting quite warm and took a nice long sip.
She thought of him dangling off some rock face, his life secured only by a belt doing the same thing before tackling the climb again. He'd reach the summit, he always did and soon enough would be looking down from his high venue to the world that appeared both miniscule and vast below him.
Then she thought of how he had looked that night when had walked into the office suite after attending a conference in another state. He had flown from the airport in his copter and landed on the pad on top of the skyscraper. She'd been doing some work, she couldn't remember what probably involving reams of paper when he had poured himself a drink and asked her to join him.
The glass of Scotch stung her eyes and her throat as it rushed down, warmth enveloping her soon after, and her body began to relax. When he asked her to join him on the sofa and patted a spot next to him, she didn't say no.
They made a toast to something, she forgot what maybe their lifelong friendship? She had nodded with a smile while clinking her glass against his and taking another sip.
"So how did the deal go?"
He looked over at her.
"Smooth as silk but those invoices that you faxed helped."
"That's my job…"
He appraised her but she just widened her smile looking back at him. She had dressed in a beige blouse and a pencil skirt, which along with a blazer were her usual business attire but today, she had worn her dark hair around her face. More curl than usual, but the look definitely flattered her and she saw his eyes widen slightly.
Her breasts pushed against her blouse, even though she favored lacy bras. Occasionally one of her blouse buttons would become undone and he could sneak a peak, to see a sliver of creamy skin, trimmed in lace, usually a softer tone of color like rosy pink or coral green. She had caught him
She wondered what he'd think if he saw what she wore at night, when she favored more charged shades of red and black and wore matching panties underneath her clothes. And that right now, they felt dampened.
God, she couldn't keep it to herself, she wanted to be wrapped up in his embrace, the warmth of his body against hers, the scent of his cologne causing her heart to skip a couple beats.
And she wanted them both to be naked. Oh, she shot him a sideways glance while she sipped her Scotch He looked so ruggedly handsome in his suit, a few buttons casually open at the top of his shirt and his dark slacks…all that mountain climbing, physical training and chasing bad people kept him lithe and strong.
He continued talking, his deep timbre soothing her, about the business meetings and how he'd tidied up the deal so quickly after receiving her faxes. She nodded, back at him knowing that he would do that, but she found her mind wandering to what it'd be like if he stopped talking about business and instead took that mouth of his and kissed her with it.
Long and thoroughly, taking full possession of her mouth, his lip teasing her own open so his tongue could slide right through, sending thrills throughout her body…and why not, she knew when it came to kissing, he'd deliver the goods. Did she want to taste them!
But instead she sat there listening to him, watching him gesticulate with his hands, his arms muscled and a couple of silver lines across his knuckles on one hand. She could imagine those hands running across her naked body, scorching her skin with gentle touching followed by more fervent strokes. Across her more innocent spots first, the kind that a friend might easily touch but then it would get less than innocent.
She blinked her eyes bringing her back to the reality that they were sitting apart, their hands off of each other and he was still telling her about the party. His muscular thighs encased in his slacks with his knees brushing against the coffee table. She could imagine them brushing against her own thighs, caressing them with body hair right before she well..it was getting awfully warm in here.
"What did you just say…?"
That made her look up…oh god, what had she just said, she couldn't remember.
"What…I didn't say anything…"
He looked at her pointedly.
"Oh yes you did…"
Now she felt totally off guard.
He smiled at her, his brown eyes twinkling in amusement.
"Oh yes you did…something about wanting to squeeze a part of me…"
Oh God…she tried to remember quickly.
He leaned back against the couch.
Her own body grew rigid as she sat straight quickly as she remembered.
"So you admit it?"
She sighed, running a hand through her hair.
"I don't remember…I guess I might have said it."
He suppressed a smile trying to look serious.
"Why would you want to do that?"
She just put her hand over her face and tried to turn away but damn it if he were going to let her off the hook that easily.
"Why C.J.…I can't wait to hear your answer."
She started to shake her head and that's when he moved and leaned towards her and damn if she didn't pin her body against the couch with his own more powerful one. She couldn't move, all she could do was look at his own face, several inches away.
"Houston…what are you doing?"
He just smiled his arms on either side of her.
"I want to hear it…the answer to my question."
She just shifted beneath him and then she took a slow breath.
"Okay…I'll tell you but you got to promise not to laugh…it's just that sometimes…I think about what it'd be like if you…I got together."
"I'm assuming not like we usually do," he asked.
"I know it's silly but I thought about what it'd be like if…you and I were both…naked and…"
He sighed, pulling at his collar with one hand.
"I think I get the …would you think I'd laugh?"
She bit her lip, still feeling his weight against her as he awaited her answer.
"Oh come on Houston…you know that you and me have always been friends and only friends," she said, "We've never…"
"Well yeah, but you've been quiet busy and then there's Elizabeth."
"There was Elizabeth," he corrected, "and we were never going to get married."
That was news to her because after all the invites had been mailed out and a large crowd had RSVPed but there hadn't been any wedding. But his voice right now told her he'd moved past it.
"Matt maybe we'd better get off the couch," she said.
But he didn't budge.
"Maybe I don't want to…I'd rather do this…"
And that's how it began, how he had kissed her mouth, brushing against it with his lips, before thoroughly consuming it…what had started as butterfly wings had turned into something more primal. He didn't wait very long before prodding her lips with his tongue and of course she let him inside her mouth. The stroking he did hit her in places she didn't know had been aroused until the sharp twangs of pleasure hit her. He licked the insides of her mouth, tracing every place he could reach until he withdrew to move his lips towards other areas of her face.
His mouth felt great suckling on her jaw line, her chin, the area near her eyes and her ear lobes…but she wanted her mouth to taste him. And when he returned, she maneuvered herself up to place her hands on him as they kissed and she slipped her tongue inside of his mouth.
She felt him pulling her towards him so they both lay on the couch with himself still on top of her, bearing his weight on his elbows. And that's when she felt him against her.
"Houston…what if someone comes in?"
He didn't skip a beat.
"Everyone's gone for the day…building's pretty much locked up."
Oh yeah, she remembered the secretaries having gone home earlier and the elevator being locked. He slipped his hand beneath her blouse, splaying his fingers over her body. Their quarters felt cramped, but the way his body melded with hers, tantalized her…and she knew she should offer up another argument about why they shouldn't be doing this on the couch…but words failed to reach her lips.
That was him when he found her breasts with his hand, and traced the lace before sticking his fingers deftly to unsnap the bra freeing her breasts right into his palm. The first time he gently squeezed one of them while kissing her, she jumped.
"Hey now…let's not roll off the couch."
She bit back a chuckle at the thought of it, but then moaned as he fondled her breasts from their roundness to the hardened nipples, which came alive under his touch.
But then his hands moved lower, trying to reach beneath her skirt and she stiffened.
Then he soothed her with his mouth, his tongue doing amazing things inside it again while he deftly moved her skirt up her thighs. She braced herself.
"It's okay…come on we've known each other a long time."
"I know…but we've never…"
His words hit her ears as his lips moved all over her face, as he started driving her crazy with those fingers...
Then her own hands started moving over his body, making him
She looked up at him with a smile.
"Don't what…come on we've broken so many rules already…"
He smiled and kissed her softly on the mouth.
"I don't want this to stop before we really get started."
She arched an eyebrow at him even as her breath quickened from his words. He moved his body again and she knew it was too late to change her mind. In for a penny, in for a pound as they say.
"Oh god…I wanted this…"
"I know me too," she said, "I just didn't think…."
He sighed, his face becoming intense, his eyes darkening.
"It's safe isn't it?"
Her brow wrinkled and then she understood.
"Yeah…I've been on the pill for years…and I'm in great health…what about you?"
His breath became uneven.
"Passed with flying colors…"
"So, let's stop talking…"
He kissed her mouth, seized it really claiming it for his own and she welcomed him, rubbing his back and moving her hands ever closer…but not yet. The couch started feeling cramped but neither cared.
"What," she whispered, feeling him press her into the couch in a rhythm just for both of them.
But they'd both stopped talking at that point…
Afterward, it hadn't taken long before reality caught up. She had clung so hard to the pleasure of him until the awkwardness began to settle in. His eyes wandered and she began to pull herself away and they both sorted out their disarrayed clothing apart from each other. She had chalked it up to getting caught up in the moment and if she acted like that…then their friendship could slip back into its comfortable groove.
But it seemed as if he had distanced himself from her, traveling a lot and when it wasn't on business, he went and climbed some mountain far away. She sighed as she patted the last bush into its proper place in her garden bed.
She knew she had to break the news to him…to tell Matt he was going to be a father but how…how they would work through it being two very different people bound by a longtime friendship. She sighed, knowing he'd want to take an active role in the life of his child but was there room in it for her?
The sun began to set and she sat there trying to figure it all out before he returned to town.
Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, Matt sat drinking Scotch in his Lear Jet, reviewing the photos he took of his most recent mountain climb. He wasn't a great photographer but pursued it as a hobby.
He couldn't wait to show them to C.J., couldn't wait to see her again…all he had done while he had been away was think about her…and that interlude in his office. He couldn't wait to get back and tell her how things were going to be. That friendship was no longer enough. No reason they couldn't inject a little romance into their life-long relationship.
At that moment, he heard the sound of his phone vibrating somewhere next to him. He reached for it and picked it up, reading the number on the ID screen.