The List of Demands
Joellen had her list of demands ready. She wanted the house transferred to her name alone. She wanted time off from their life, for him to take care of the children while she went back to New York to think about her future and what she would do with it. Although her demands did not include any part about North Carlson, he was the main reason she wanted time away. She didn’t know if she wanted a divorce, but she might, and if she did she wanted joint custody of the children. She would not want them to be separated from their father. And she wanted him to support her until she got a good job. She also might apply to law school, she said, and he would have to pay half of it. All these things, she thought, were quite reasonable.
He wasn’t at all surprised by her demands. Or that’s the way he presented himself. But this was the kind of thing he did all day long, week after week. Now he was on familiar ground, negotiating a contract, hammering out the details. He suggested they take advantage of the stronger-than-normal real estate market and low interest rates. That they sell this house, buy another one, have a lower mortgage payment every month and use that money to finance her school fees. He threw some figures around and it didn’t occur to Joellen until much later that he must have calculated all this before he came over.
They wrote up a contract on a yellow legal pad she had in the kitchen and both signed it at the kitchen table. She made them coffee and they drank it in silence. It was an odd moment but Joellen was satisfied. In the back of her mind was a vague idea that maybe she and North Carlson could be in New York together. That she could be in Brooklyn part of the time and back in North Carolina part of the time with the children. But it was all a vague mental mist. At the same time she knew this was pure fantasy but now that Brent was being so cooperative, now that she knew she had enough power to get what she wanted, she was almost giddy with the feeling that anything might be possible.
When Brent stood up, she thought he was going to leave so she stood too, ready to walk him to the door, escort him out, say goodbye and wave as his car pulled away. Then she would get in her own car and drive to the Motel Six and tell North all about it. They would make love for an hour and then they could plan to meet in New York again. But it didn’t happen that way.
There was a moment when they were both standing by the table and she was pulling the coffee pot plug out of the wall, and in another moment they were kissing, and then she was pushing him down on a kitchen chair and he was pulling off her top and unhooking her bra. In another moment, half naked, she was standing at the refrigerator door, bent over grabbing a can of Reddi Whip, turning back to him, sitting on the edge of the table, pushing back all the papers and cups and silverware and napkins they had used, handing him the can, watching him pull the red cap off and toss it across the room, laying back on the table top and feeling the soft white whipped cream cold on her skin. And then his warm tongue tracing the pattern he had laid down.
Joellen was aware of a giddy feeling of power that was propelling her from somewhere deep inside. She leaned over and pulled Brent’s tie loose and unbuttoned his shirt. They kissed again and he slid her toward him enough to get hold of her pants and pull them down below her hips. She raised her body off the table and slid onto him, feeling for his zipper, unbuckling his belt, positioning herself over him. He finished pulling off her pants and let them fall to the floor with her panties wadded inside them.
Joellen wrapped her arms around his neck and began a rhythmic dance sitting on his legs, rocking back and forth, up and down.
Holding her at the waist, Brent pushed her until her back arched and he could place his lips on her nipple. At that moment she no longer cared about the kitchen or the washer or their contract or the phantom woman in Miami or anything. For a brief few moments, everything in life was between her legs and she let go like an avalanche until she was crying out, hanging onto him, writhing with his body. He held her tightly by the hips until she was finished, but he still held back and soon their bodies were moving together again until they both cried out and she finally let go of him and sank back against the table, realizing that the edge was hard and she was sitting on him with perspiration rolling down her back.
After a moment, with her eyes closed, she whispered, “Why didn’t you ever do that before?”
He answered right away, “I didn’t know you wanted it. I thought you didn’t much like sex.” He buried his head in her stomach and breathed her perfume. “You smell delicious,” he said and bit her hip hard.
She laughed without humor and thought, “What have I done?”