My daughter and I walked hand-in-hand, looking for animal footprints in the snow.
“What’s that one, Mommy?” Emma asked.
“Hmm, do you think it’s a bear?” I teased.
“No, Mommy! We don’t have bears around here.”
“Probably a dog then. And what about that one?” I pointed to some tiny, pointed prints.
“A squirrel?” Emma guessed.
“Right! High-five!” I said, holding up my hand for Emma. Our gloved hands smacked together, muted by winter wear.
“Hey, it’s Maddie!” Emma yelled, and ran ahead to catch up with her friend who was just getting out of the blue minivan at the side of the road. Emma and Maddie frequently shared their walks to school, giving me a chance to chat with Maddie’s father Dave.
Dave was a stay-at-home dad and a writer. He had published two novels so far, and they had sold moderately well. I had read both, mesmerized by his dexterity with words, his understanding of human nature, not to mention his power to write sex scenes that rendered me instantly wet. I was fascinated by Dave’s sexy braininess. I had also found that when I lay in bed at night reading his books, I was increasingly intrigued by his rugged, dark good looks, so that that all of his male leads began to morph into Dave. Walking to school beside him, making small talk about our daughters and the neighborhood gossip, I couldn’t keep my mind from wandering to the erotic images he’d planted in my mind.
My husband Brian and I socialized with Dave and his wife Tracy fairly often, a friendship born of our daughters’ playdates and the interests we shared. We all enjoyed good wine, good food, and good conversation. I found an easy rapport with Tracy, a high school teacher, as we talked about the latest treats we had baked or we worked on our scrapbooks together. Tracy was warm and quick-witted, with an artist’s sensibility that matched her style. Half Filipino, she had lovely brown skin and impossibly dark, straight hair, razor-cut to frame her delicate face. I’d always admired her slim, limber body, so different from my own curves.
I watched for Dave to round the front of the minivan, eager to look into his sparkling deep chocolate eyes. I couldn’t help but wonder how his lips would feel on mind. I’d already felt his eyes on my 36DD chest and firm, round butt a few times, enough that I sometimes called to mind the image of his appreciative looks to motivate me when I worked out.
Dave appeared from behind his van, but he didn’t look toward me. Instead, he just headed off toward the school, behind the two girls. Did he not see me?
“Dave!” I called, moving quickly to catch up.
“Oh, hey,” he said, turning slightly, not quite meeting my eyes. “How’s it going?”
“Good,” I smiled, a little concerned. “What’s up?”
“Not much,” he said. He glanced at me and looked back toward the kids. “You?”
“Oh, I’m fine,” I said. This was odd. Dave usually seemed happy to see me, and always had something to share, a funny story or an interesting bit of information gleaned from his research for his writing. Had something happened? A fight between the kids, maybe? I looked ahead, but the girls seemed to be getting along fine, holding hands as they waited for the crossing guard to wave them across the street.
“Did you have a good weekend?” I asked, eyeing him.
Dave cleared his throat. “Yeah.” He didn’t ask me the same.
We finished the walk to school in silence, shepherding our daughters into their lines and kissing them goodbye. After the kids went in, I usually walked with Dave as far as his minivan, continuing our small talk. But today, as soon as the kids were inside, he started to stride away as though he had somewhere to be.
I walked slowly, watching his back. I was still trying to decide whether I should try to catch up, try to pursue the question of what was bothering him, when he stopped in his tracks and started walking back toward me. As they met, he cleared his throat.
“I’m sorry, Sally. Actually, I need to talk to you,” Dave told me. “Can you go for coffee? Do you have time?”
“Sure,” I said. “Should I go home and get my car?”