I booked us into a double at the Comfort Inn. Shug and I took our bags into the room. I’d just set mind down when he gathered me into his arms. He kissed me with a passion and warmth that set my head spinning.
In moments we were naked and lying in the double bed farthest from the window. Shug had left the lights on. I could see every feature of him as he lay himself down above me. He kissed me, beginning at my lips, and then my forehead, temples, ears. He buried his face in my neck and a could feel his lips probing and pressing. Slowly and deliberately, in complete silence, he worked his way down my body. He paused to suckle at my breasts, sending those lightning shock through my body as he tongue my nipples. My hips rose and fell, my pussy flooding with anticipation.
Shug pressed his lips to my ribs and then to my belly. His tongue squirmed into my naval, creating a series of strange pulses that surged through my body. His trail of kisses continued downward, his tongue pushing into the top of my bush. I took hold of his head and lifted him away.
“Shug, don’t,” I said.
“Why not?” he wanted to know.
“Because,” I told him. “It’s nasty.”
“Didn’t Eric ever kiss you there?” he asked.
I shook my head. “No, of course not.”
Shug smiled, his eyes brilliant. “You don’t know what you’ve been missing.” He pressed downward, again.
“Shug, don’t,” I insisted.
“Caroline,” he whispered. “This is you. This is your body. Here is your essence. It is warm and wonderful, and I’m going to love tasting you. Please. Let me. You’ll see. It will be wonderful for you, too.”
I released my grip on his head, closed my eyes and lay back, surrendering to him, prepared to yield to his desire. His lips pressed against me. I tossed my head from side to side. I really did not want him to do this. It was so alien to me, a mouth there among the odors and dankness. I was grindingly self-conscious.
A jolt of energy fired through my body. It felt as if a flow of hot gel had been shot through my nervous system. The warm liquid enveloped my pleasure center. I groaned with the exquisite energy. My hips involuntarily fired upward.
Shug backed away. I felt abandoned.
“You see?” he whispered softly. “Isn’t it wonderful?”
His fingers spread me apart. He renewed his oral attack on me. I shrieked as his lips encircled my throbbing little button, his tongue alternately rough, then smooth, chafing, and then slickly sliding across the nub. Sparkles exploded in my brain, and I suddenly realized that these were the stars people claimed to see. There was a roaring in my ears, while my arms convulsed and my hands sought something to grab for support. I clenched the bedclothes and wailed as Shug continued to alternately lick and suck on me.
His hands slid under my backside, and I felt him raise me upward. Suddenly, something drove into the entrance of my hole and I realize he had stuck his tongue in there. It wiggled and I screamed. I pressed my muscles against him, wanting to capture the tiny invader and hold it. My hips thrust toward him in a rapid motion, imitating the action of a violent fucking. I bellowed and wailed as the sensation ripped through me, the orgasm was as thrilling and electric as any I’d ever had. But, still, it felt almost peripheral. Deep inside me was a longing, a vacancy I desperately wanted filled.
“Inside me, Shug,” I demanded. “I’ve got to have you deep inside me.”
Shug stopped his ministrations, released my ass, and raised himself above me. He kept my legs on his shoulders, bending me almost double as he reared up. His member pressed into my sopping pussy and slid with slick easiness into my waiting quim. Here was the occupant to fill my aching vacancy. His cock touched base and I groaned at the sensation of being filled, penetrated and complete.
Shug began slow undulations, withdrawing, then re-inserting. I wriggled under him.
“Not slow, Shug. Not now. Later, maybe. Now I need you hard and fast.”
My lover complied. He fucked me like a man possessed, with speed and force. My hips met his every thrust. I cried out, begging him to continue, demanding he do me, urging him to prove his manhood. Shug pounded into me, his eyes glazed, his face a grimace of effort. In spite of the coolness in our room, we were both sweating with the exertion by the time our screams and groans coincided and Shug poured himself out into me.
Later, as we lay in the golden afterglow, both our bodies still shining with the moisture of our labors, I smiled at him and asked, somewhat out of breath, “Is that what you call making love, baby?”
Shug chortled. “Well, at first, maybe. But, I don’t know, Caroline. With you, it always seems to descend into just fucking.”
“That thing you did, you know, down there, with your mouth?” I asked.
“Yes,” he grinned at me. “When I ate your pussy?”
I felt myself flush. “Yeah,” I nodded. “It’s embarrassing.”
“Is it?” he said. “But it’s nice, too, isn’t it? It makes you excited.”
“Yes, it does that, I guess. But…”
“But, what, Caroline?” He leaned over and kissed my shoulder.
“Isn’t it nasty?”
Shug rolled over on his back, spread his arms out and laughed aloud. I looked appreciatively at his strong, young body, stretched out in front of me.
“There are more germs in your mouth,” Shug said, in his oh-so-reasonable tone, “than your pussy. Did you know that?”
“Really? How would you know that?”
“Med student, remember? Med students, especially guy med students, have a natural curiosity about such things.”
I nodded. “Still,” I persisted, “it’s nasty.”
Now Shug rolled back toward me. His eyes looked into mine. “It’s oral sex, Caroline. Some people believe it’s nasty. Some people believe any position other than man on top is nasty. You proved the fallacy of that this morning, didn’t you?”
I nodded, still not convinced.
“Personally,” Shug continued, “I like it. I like the feel of the soft, damp skin. I like the way you react. It’s fun for me.”
“So, you don’t think it’s gross,” I said.
“Not for me,” he said, rolling onto his back again. End of discussion.
I wasn’t convinced but, we were done talking about that, I could tell.
We must have fallen asleep. When I awoke a few hours later I was covered with the blanket from the sheet. I started, looked around and realized I was alone. I sat up in the bed and looked around, taking several seconds to orient myself. I called out to Shug and got no answer. I crawled off the bed and checked the bathroom. Shug was gone. A strange fear gripped my gut. Had he left me? Was he gone for good?
It couldn’t be, I thought. His pack lay on the other bed, the zipper open and articles leaking from the opening. On the long dressing table lay a hastily scrawled note on the chain’s stationary. “Gone for a run. Be back soon.” The tightness in my abdomen relaxed. I took a deep breath, and then released it slowly. I didn’t like the implications of my own anxiety.
I decided to shower while I had the chance. I luxuriated under the warm spray, cleansed my body and hair, and then stepped out of the shower.
When Shug returned I was seated in front of the mirror, the dryer blowing on my hair. Shug walked in the door, his face covered with the sheen of his exertion. His T-shirt hung damply on his lean frame. I smiled at him.
“I thought for a second you’d run away,” I said over the hum of the dryer.
Shug shook his head. “Uh uh. I left you a note.”
“I found it, finally. Not before I got scared you were gone.”
Shug knelt down in front of me, his bright, blue eyes gleaming. “What, and give up my ride into St. Louis?” he chuckled. He bent down and kissed my knee. I felt that stirring down there.
“I can’t believe what you do to me,” I told him.
“What did I do?”
“When you kissed me just now. You got my juices flowing again.”
“Really?” Shug looked amused. He leaned over and kissed my other knee. “Like that?”
“Just like that,” I nodded. “I can’t be wandering around in this high state of arousal all the time,” I added.
“Why not?” he said. “I like that I do that to you. You do it to me, too, you know.” He stood up and showed me the bulge in his running shorts. He leaned over and kissed me on the lips, softly, but gently sucking my lips into his own. I caught the odor of his exercise.
“Whew, baby,” I said. “You need a shower.”
“On my way,” he said, stripping his sopping T-shirt over his head.
While Shug showered, I dressed in a pair of white shorts and a black-on-white blouse, which I knotted around my midriff. I tried desperately to bring some order to the curls around my head, finally giving up and going for the “just-out-of-bed” look.
Shug came out of the shower wrapped in his towel.
“Getting modest, are we?” I commented.
“You’re dressed,” he noticed.
“We’re going to dinner. You’ll have to wear more than that towel.”
Shug dug into his pack for a shirt and pair of shorts. “We’re going to have to find a Laundromat,” he said, “or go on into St. Louis. I’m running out of clothes.”
We went to dinner in a little diner down the highway a couple of miles from the motel. I ordered light, just a large salad and iced tea. Shug had a hamburger and fries. I was tickled when he told the tired waitress to hold the onions.
“How far is St. Louis?” I asked him while we waited for our food.
“Seven, maybe eight hours,” he answered.
“How about we do it tomorrow?”
“What’s going to happen when we get there?” I wanted to know.
He shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ve got to see my Mom. Then, I have to visit my sister.”
“Does your sister live with your Mom?”
“No,” he said. There was a flat numbness in his voice.
We ate our meal in near silence. Shug devoured his hamburger, drinking three tall glasses of coke along with it.
We drove back to the motel. Shug propped himself up on a couple of pillows and clicked on the TV. I put some things back in my bag and went to sit next to him.
“Do you mind if I join you?” I asked. Shug scooted himself over on the bed and crooked his arm for me. I lay next to him, my head on his shoulder. I wrapped my free arm around him and held him gently. We lay like that for nearly an hour.
Finally, I told him, “Shug, I’m tired. Let’s get into bed.”
We stood, stripped and climbed back into the bed, sliding under the covers. Shug made love to me, slowly, gently. When I tried to spur him on to more vigorous activity, he resisted. “We’re making love,” he said. “Let me just make love to you.”
I let him. It was glorious. He would bring me to the edge of ecstasy, and then back off. Several time he repeated the process until my body screamed for release. Finally, he let me blast over the top with one of the most magnificent orgasms I’d ever experienced. I moaned and wailed my gratitude. My hands clutched his hands and my lips sucked at his. He spilled his seed into me with a groan that reverberated throughout my body.
We did the “primitive fuck” thing in the morning before packing the car for the run into St. Louis. I drove the first four hours. Shug took the wheel at lunchtime and we motored toward the Gateway Arch. The closer we got, the more apprehensive Shug became. His jaw was set and he appeared nearly morose.
“What is it, Shug?” I asked him. “What’s the matter?”
“My family. We have…I don’t know…baggage, I guess,” he admitted.
“All of us do, baby,” I tried to reassure him.
“This is hard for me to do,” he told me. “It’s my sister.”
“The one you’re going to visit?” I asked. He nodded.
“It’s not…well, I’m not really visiting her,” he confessed. “It’s her grave.”
“Oh,” was all I said.
“She died. When I was twelve.”
“She was your older sister?” I tried to make my voice as soft as I could.
Shug shook his head. “Younger.”
He spoke no more of her. I let it drop. I pressed my hand against his thigh as he drove, trying to reassure him.
The following day, at lunch with his mother, Madeline, I got the full story.
Madeline was forty-six. She was an attractive woman with a ready smile. Shug had inherited her good looks. I found that she was the source of his sparkling, dazzling blue eyes. She proposed the “getting-to-know-you” lunch while Shug visited his sister’s grave.
“I’m very proud of Jeremy,” Madeline told me after she’d ordered for us. We sat in the dining room of her country club. Sole was the special of the day. She’d asked if I minded her ordering for both of us. I agreed.
“You have every right to be, Mrs. Shugart,” I said. “He’s a fine young man.”
“Accent on the ‘young’?” she smiled. “And, please. Call me Madeline.”
“Do you think I’m too old for him, Madeline?”
“I don’t know, Caroline. He seems as happy as he’s ever been.”
“I’ll have to admit that this has all happened very quickly. I’m somewhat uneasy with that. Yet, Shug seems to have his head screwed on pretty well.”
“Oh,” Madeline said, with a broad smile. “You mean Jeremy. I can’t get used to that nickname for him. Shug was my husband, you see. Jeremy’s dad.”
“I guess it comes naturally with the last name,” I agreed. “Jeremy, then. He seems to be very mature for his age.”
“Jeremy grew up quite early,” Madeline told me. “Tragedy has a way of doing that.”
She nodded. “Jennifer was five. Jeremy doted on her,” she said. “I remember when we brought her home from the hospital. He was about seven. He would hold her in his arms and rock her for endless hours. Her death devastated him.
“Their relationship was quite unique, really. Jeremy reveled in his role as older brother. Boys of nine and ten usually want to play with their friends, ride bikes and so forth. But, Jeremy forswore all that to be with his sister. Looking back, it seems like she was put here to teach him how to love. He made a good job of it.
“When Jennifer fell ill, she was about four. Leukemia. When they were doing all the tests, all those blood tests, the shots and IVs, it was Jeremy’s name she would call. She would scream for him not to let them hurt her.” Tears welled up in Madeline’s eyes. “I can still hear her crying for him.”
“You were hurt that she didn’t cry out for her mother, weren’t you?”
“I could have been, maybe a little,” Madeline said. “But, even hearing her scream for him. I don’t know how I would have managed if she’d been screaming for me.”
She cleared her throat and dabbed at the corner of her eyes with the white linen napkin.
“It was very hard on all of us. Of course, because he was so young, Jeremy couldn’t be with her. The hospital staff just wouldn’t allow it. Until the end, that is.
“Just before she died, they let Jeremy come into her room with us. He held her hand. She was just five. Just a baby, really.”
“That must have been terrible for you,” I told her.
Madeline nodded. “She looked up at him and said, ‘Thank you for being my big brother.’ Then she told him, ‘I have to go now. The other children are calling me.’ She closed her eyes. A minutes later she was gone.”
The two of us sat there, tear streaming down our cheeks.
“Jeremy walked out of that hospital with a determination that was frightening. He decided he would become a doctor. Eventually he confided that he wanted to do everything he could to make certain no other big brothers had to go through what he had,” Madeline said. “He has stayed true to that goal since he was twelve.”
“And you think I’m going to mess it up for him,” I said.
“I don’t know that, Caroline. I’m his mother. I’m concerned.”
“I understand,” I said.
“The thing is,” she said, idly thumbing the handle of her fork, “Jennifer had one feature that caused constant comment. Before all the chemo, she had beautiful, dark, curly locks. A wild riot of dark, curly hair, just like yours.”
Shug and I slept apart that night, he in his room in the big house, and I in the guest room. We didn’t have time together alone until we left the following morning.
Madeline came out to the car as Shug loaded our bags into the trunk.
“Where are you two headed now?” she asked.
“Tulsa,” Shug replied. “Caroline has to go home to her son.”
“And, you’re going with her?” Madeline asked him.
“Do you want me to leave you two alone?” I offered Madeline.
“It’s all right,” Shug said. “Mother, I love you. You can come with us, if you want. But, yes. I have to go to Tulsa with Caroline.”
Madeline smiled. “You don’t need me trailing along with you. And, I understand.” She leaned toward me and offered me a kiss on the cheek. “Take good care of him, Caroline. I like you. I think you’re good for him.”
She turned toward her son and wrapped him in a tight embrace. “Don’t slack off your studies just because you’re in love,” she said. “Remember, you owe the people of Carson’s Mill six years of your life.”
“I remember, Mother,” Shug said, kissing her lovingly on the cheek. “You take care.”
Madeline stood in the drive and waved until we turned the corner and were lost to her sight.
“What’s Carson’s Mill, and why do you owe them six years of your life?” I asked him.
“It’s a small town in the southwester corner of the state. Rural country. They’re paying my way through Emory. Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. In return, I’ll be their doctor for six years,” he explained.
“That’s an interesting development,” I said.
“The commitment was made before I met you,” Shug told me. “Actually, you’re the interesting development.”
Shug drove for a full hour before I had the nerve to tell him what Madeline had explained to me.
“You’re mother told me about Jennifer,” I said. “My heart broke for you.”
Shug nodded, his face stony.
“She also told me Jennifer had dark, curly hair, just like mine,” I ventured.
Shug drove on in silence for a while. “So, you think I’ve got some sort of sick idea that you’re an incarnation of my dead sister?” There was a harshness, a cruelty in his tone that stunned me.
“Pull the car over, Jeremy,” I commanded him. “Pull off to the side of the road now.”
Shug slowed the vehicle. The tires crunched on the gravel of the shoulder. We stopped, and he put the gearshift into park. He crossed his hands over the top of the steering wheel, and then laid his head on his hands.
I began. “What you just said, that comment of yours was as cold and cruel a comment as I’ve heard in years. I don’t know what I am to you, Jeremy. I want to be your love. I want to be something special to you. But, you’re right. If you think I’m an incarnation of your sister, it’s sick and I want nothing to do with it.”
“You’re not,” he said, miserably.
“I’m not what?” I asked.
“You’re not an incarnation of my sister,” he said.
“Then what is this?”
“Look, Caroline. I loved my sister. Part of me died when she did. There has been a hole in my heart ever since. I was frustrated at my own impotence to stop what was happening to her, my complete inability to help her, to heal her, to protect her. Certainly it has had an impact on my life. It has shaped whom I am and what I have set out to do. But, I’m not a sicko, Caroline.
“If I love you, and I probably do, it is about who you are and how you make me feel,” he continued. “We’ve got some pretty fair sized hurdles to leap for our relationship work. We’ll have to deal with those. But, there is nothing in our relationship that is associated with my sister or her death.”
“Except for the fact that it hurts you,” I reminded him. “That impacts on everything.”
“It does,” he admitted. “The hurt and frustration propelled me into medical school. Those emotions drive me to succeed. They permitted me to make the agreement with Carson’s Mill. Up until now, those were the driving forces behind my life. You, my dear, sweet, beautiful Caroline, you are the fly in the ointment.”
“You don’t have to worry about me, Shug,” I said. “I can take care of myself.”
“That’s not the point, Caroline,” he said. “The point is that I want to take care of you. I want to be with you. My honor, my integrity may be at stake. I owe the people of Carson’s Mill. I have to fulfill that obligation. I don’t know how I can do both, how I can take care of you and honor my obligation to Carson’s Mill.”
“And, I don’t know,” I said to him, “how we can be in love with you in Atlanta and me in Tulsa.”
“So, what are we going to do?” he asked, still with his head on his hands.
“I don’t know, Shug. I don’t know, yet. Do we have to decide all of this right now?”
Shug raised his head and looked forward through the windshield. “It all impacts, Caroline. If I am to fall in love with you, there has to be some hope of us being together. Otherwise, there’s no point in continuing the relationship, is there?”
“I guess there isn’t.” Now my guts were knotted. A deep dread settled over me.
“‘Ties better to have loved and lost,” he whispered.
“Oh, god, Jeremy. Don’t. Please don’t do this,” I whimpered.
“Can you come live in Atlanta for the next two years?” he asked.
I shook my head. “I can’t. Nathan. His grandparents.”
“What about Carson’s Mill?”
I thought for a minute. “I don’t know. I could, I guess. Maybe. I don’t know.”
There was absolute silence in the car. In my heart I knew there were tough questions to be answered, hard decisions to make. A huge lump settled in my chest as I pondered the many challenges that lay in front of us. The dread welled up inside me, running up my throat, constricting it, nearly choking me, and forcing tears to well up in my eyes.
“Please, baby,” I begged him, my hand clasping his arm, “don’t make me do this now. I don’t want to do this now. We don’t have to do this now, do we?”
I know I looked a wreck. Tears streamed down my face. I knew it had to be flushed. And, dammit, I thought, why can’t they make a damned mascara that didn’t streak all over you when you shed a little tear.
Shug looked straight at me. He smiled, and then clasped his hand over mine.
“You just want to live for today, huh?” he asked. “Don’t worry about tomorrow. Just pretend tomorrow never comes. Is that it?”
I nodded. “Something like that,” I told him. “I just want to be with you, and love you, and put all that reasonable stuff off until…I don’t know…until we have to face it.”
He leaned over, put his hand under my chin and pulled my face toward his. He kissed me so softly, so tenderly, I nearly wept again.
“I must look awful,” I said, pulling back from him. I turned to the visor and flipped down the vanity mirror. Sure enough, black circles and streaks marked my eyes and my cheeks. I dabbed at them with a tissue.
“You know, you don’t need to wear all that stuff,” Shug said, starting the car and pulling back onto the highway. “You’re beautiful without it.”
“You’re a practiced flatterer, aren’t you?” I responded. “That kind of flattery will get you laid.”
“Really? When?” he asked. “Remember, it’s been almost a full day.”
“Are you horny?” I jibed at him.
“Completely,” he nodded. “I want to make love with you so bad I ache.”
“No making love this time, buddy,” I said. “I need a primitive fuck.”
“Next exit with a hotel,” I told him. “And, this time, do be so persnickety.”
“I got some money at home,” he said. “I can help with the expenses.”
“Is your manhood challenged because I’m paying for everything?”
“It just didn’t seem fair.”
“You shouldn’t worry about stuff like that, Shug. I’m rich,” I told him.
“Are you?” He seemed amused.
“When Eric and I were married we had very little. We accumulated very little. The insurance premiums for a stunt pilot are extremely high, but Eric said it was vital to keep them up. For three years we scrimped and scavenged, we did without a house and furniture, all so we could pay those damned premiums. In the end, though, they paid off. When Eric was killed, he left me a three million dollar policy. I’m rich, Shug. And, I don’t give a damn about money.”
“What did you do with it all?” he asked. “If you don’t mind me asking.”
“I put one million in the bank. The government took a lot of it. The other two I invested in a diversified portfolio. I’ve got a great financial whiz kid who keeps track of it for me. Every month I get a check for about six thousand. That’s what Nathan and I live on.”
“Sounds like you’ve got it well in hand.”
“I do,” I said. “So, quit worrying about paying for stuff. This is my trip and my treat.”
Shug let go of the wheel and raised his hands toward the ceiling, palms up. “I surrender.”
“As well you should,” I grinned. “Look! There’s a Best Western.”