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She wasn’t really this easy, but she was jittery about the concert she was going to the next night—especially with why she was going to the concert—and she had zeroed in on the strawberry blond hair and hazel eyes of the young man as soon as he had swirled into the outdoor café in Roanoke, Virginia’s, Market Place Center with a group of other, boisterous young men. The late summer air was heavy with lingering southern sundown heat and humidity. Ceiling fans under the roof over the tables were whomp, whomping, but were doing little to move the air.
He had zeroed in on her too immediately and had gone quiet while his companions were still bantering about with each other and struggling for position in the seating. He took a chair facing her table. Cindy assumed that his interest was because her hair, which she kept in a curly mane, was the same unusual color and her eyes also were hazel. His hair, which was tied back in a ponytail, would come down to his shoulders when loosened. Normally she didn’t like men with long hair, but she liked everything she saw about this young man. He was sensual beauty on two size-twelve feet. She wondered about what they said about a man’s shoe size. It certainly had worked out that way with her Tim.
She’d had finished nursing her coffee with nowhere to go other than her room backing on the Roanoke rail yards at the small, seedy hotel on Salem Avenue. There was nothing to do between now and the next evening except fidget and wonder if she should have driven over from Lynchburg a day early. It wouldn’t have been any better to drive over just for the concert, as she still would be jittery no matter where she was. And she really needed to have a room here after the concert because she knew she’d be too much of a basket case, no matter how the concert worked out, to be driving back to Lynchburg tomorrow night.
When the waiter came with the check, she found herself ordering another cup of coffee—although God knew she didn’t need any more caffeine. The young man kept looking over at her and smiling, and she just couldn’t bring herself to leave. She knew that look. He was interested in her. Was this that kind of café—one where single women came to perch as a matter of business? Did she care if it was and if he was getting the wrong impression? He couldn’t be more than twenty, so she was old enough to be his mother. But, at a year short of forty, she knew she still looked good—and younger. Great genes, she thought, immediately stressing from her mother’s side—nothing good had come from her father’s side—other than her hair and eye color.
Thinking of her daddy—of him on top of her, holding her wrists, groaning his need of her, both of them panting as he entered her and, to her shame, she began to move with him—had her feeling flushed. It must have been the sound coming from fans overhead that had brought her father to mind. She looked up, immediately embarrassed because she had let a hand move to her lower belly and she suddenly realized that the young man was standing on the other side of the glass-topped table and was looking down at her with a smile. His companions at the other table were huddled together in a lively discussion, showing no concern that he’d broken from the herd.
“Excuse me? Are you alone? Do you want to be?”
She looked up into his hazel eyes and melted.
They were lying in her hotel bed, he spooned behind her, one arm embracing her closely to him, his hand languidly working the nipples of her ample breasts and cupping, weighing, and squeezing her breasts to hear her intake of breath and small gasps. The other arm was draped over her hips, with the fingers of that hand playing in her folds, rubbing her clit and the root of his own cock, which was buried inside her. He had gone flaccid from the first, frenzied fuck, but, thanks to the virility of youth, he was going turgid again.
The window was open, and Cindy watched the gauzy curtains move in the late summer breeze and concentrated on the sensations of the young, hard body encasing her and doing delicious things to her breasts and between her thighs as his lips pressed into the hollow of her neck. The steamy heat in the unairconditioned room, with a ceiling fan whomp, whomping ineffectively overhead, only added to the sweaty sensuality of the sex. The roar and flashing light of a train moving through the rail yard had been matched with the young man’s strong, prolonged, jerky ejaculation deep inside her, and she was holding her breath in anticipation of the next train—and the next ejaculation. She had been sent over the edge several times. It had been some time since she’d had a young stud between her legs.
He was moving their position, turning her on her back, suspending himself over her, taking most of his weight on his knees and elbows. He had wedged two pillows from the bed under the small of her back. She spread her legs, and raising her knees and digging the soles of her feet into the lumpy mattress for leverage, positioned herself to take him as deep as possible. God, he was a beautiful young bahis firmaları man—a lithe, yet well-muscled body. The shoe size legend had panned out too. A handsome face, as handsome as her own father’s, who also had been a strawberry blond with hazel eyes. Her father having come to mind because he had taken her in this position often also.
He entered, entered, entered her again—long, thick, throbbing—and began to slowly pump her, his lips and teeth going to her nipples, the pace of his thrusts matching the whomp, whomp, whomp of the ceiling fan overhead. With a sigh and a groan, she set her hips in a complementary rhythm. Slow, deep. Just the way she liked it. Just the way her daddy had done it once they had established that relationship. Remembering now the whomp, whomp of the ceiling fan in her room back in the hollow when her father fucked her; remembering how the cycling of the ceiling fan set the rhythm of the fuck then just as it had done here, helping her to fall so readily into the rhythm of this young stud’s fuck—for both of them to achieve the sensation of being seasoned lovers.
To the heights and over the top and then higher and over that top as another train roared by on the rails on the other side of the open window and, shuddering, he fired off again and again and again.
* * * *
Cindy had entertained second, third, and fourth thoughts about coming this evening. So much so that nerves had brought her to Roanoke a day early. Things in the unusual events had been progressing, albeit slowly, to this point, but it hadn’t been Timmy—no, she had to think of him as Keith now, although there’d been all those years of thinking of him as Tim Junior—who had asked for this. And up to this point she hadn’t pressed on moving any faster than Keith had indicated he wanted—or taken the initiative at all, since she felt it wasn’t her right to do so.
Madge and John were such friendly and bubbly people, taking all of this in their stride, or at least pretending to do so. It was almost as if maybe they were afraid to look at the situation seriously. There was every reason for them to feel threatened by what was going on. But they’d done everything they could to make her comfortable about this—at least to her face. They’d made all of the concert arrangements and would have booked a hotel room—surely a better one than she had gotten herself—for her and would have paid for the room. But there’s no way she’d let them do that. She wasn’t destitute. None of this was about her being poor—at least not now. Of course, there had been no indication that Madge and John were rolling in money themselves, or ever had been.
But it was damn sure they’d done what she hadn’t.
She wasn’t on welfare or anything. She had a good job as a receptionist in a dentist office over in Lynchburg. Her daddy had scrimped and saved to send her for two years to Virginia Southern University in Buena Vista. For some reason her daddy had wanted to keep her close to home even though he didn’t pay much attention to her during her childhood while she was living there in the hollow in the shadow of the Blue Ridge. Buena Vista was up on top of the Blue Ridge above the western-slope Bennett’s hollow her family lived in and had given their name to.
Yes, he’d given her a start with college. But then that was the rub. He wouldn’t have done it if she’d done what she now knew she should have done. And he probably only did it anyway to keep her close by but also to get her out of the hollow itself where everyone knew everyone else’s business. Certainly everyone had known what she and Tim had been up to.
She met up with Madge and John at the same Market Place Center café she’d sat at the night before, having arranged that meeting place before it now was a memory that made her nervous to think about. She wasn’t really that easy. Yes, there had been men in the last twenty years, but not many of them. And none a casual pickup, let alone a young stud nearly half her age. But there had been something about him—that strawberry blond hair and those hazel eyes. She was afraid to relate that to her father, but it was hard for her to avoid doing so. She’d been a pushover for her father. Is that why she was so easy for the young man the night before?
She looked around, nervously, for the young man at the café, but he wasn’t there, and Madge and John already were, Madge waving to Cindy and giving her a smile that seemed genuine no matter how often Cindy looked for something more judging or condescending in the look. They walked together over to the Kirk Avenue Music Hall on—not surprisingly—Kirk Avenue.
“There, see, Cindy. They’ve saved a table for us over there.” Madge gently took hold of Cindy’s arm and guided her toward the table, set among more than twenty others in a not-so-big, brick-walled room with a small, raised stage at the end away from the street front. The Kirk Avenue Music Hall was a small-venue space for comfort food and local artists and musician gigs on a side street near the Roanoke rail yards. Cindy walked to the table kaçak iddaa as if in a haze. John went over to a bar at the side to get them a round of drinks. Beer for him and Madge and a Coke for Cindy. She’d been through her too-much beer and booze phase but hadn’t had a drop of it since the day she’d received that letter from . . . Keith. She had to keep reminding herself not to think of him as Timmy. Timmy Junior. In fact, it helped now not to think of him as Timmy Junior because it always brought up the image of Tim.
“He’ll be right up there on stage, playing the drums,” Madge said as she settled the two of them at the table.
“Does he know we are—I am—here and that we’re sitting at this table?” Cindy asked, uncertainly. She was uncertain about so much of this.
“Yes, of course. He’ll see John and me right off the bat. I’ll bet that the first thing he’ll do is pick us out. He’s been so anxious about us coming down from Northern Virginia to hear his band play.”
“And he’ll see me sitting here too . . . and he’ll wonder . . .”
“I doubt if he’ll wonder, Cindy. The two of you look so much alike—that red hair will be a dead giveaway, I’m sure.”
“He has strawberry blond hair too?” Cindy asked. There was so much she didn’t know about Keith, even after the letters and the two telephone calls. So much that Madge and John knew about him that she didn’t. So many lost years. But whose damn fault is that? she asked herself.
“Oh, he hasn’t sent you a photo yet? You haven’t exchanged photographs?”
“No,” Cindy said, her voice sad. She so much wanted to know what he looked like. She’d wanted to ask him for a photo immediately—had wanted him to ask for a photo of her. She knew she still looked good. She was only thirty-nine—going on twenty-five the girls in the dentist office always said. But he hadn’t either asked for or sent a photo, and she was trying to be careful about letting him set the pace of this. She hadn’t gone looking for him, although she’d been plagued on a daily basis for the twenty years it had been, about where he was, what he was doing—how he was doing. And whether he had found a mother and father worthy of raising him. Well, it hadn’t taken her long to decide that he had found that in Madge and John.
They weren’t from here. They lived up in Northern Virginia somewhere and both had jobs with the federal government—probably good jobs from the way they dressed and the car they drove. They were in Roanoke tonight because Keith was in graduate school in nearby Blacksburg at Virginia Tech—studying to be an engineer, they’d said. Her daddy would have liked that. He had been an electrician down in the Lexington area, in the Shenandoah Valley, east of the hollow they lived in. He’d always said he wanted to build things.
Tim had built on houses. He’d been a carpenter and no doubt would have moved up in that trade. He would have liked to know Timmy Junior was building things like the houses he worked on.
They were here tonight because Keith was the drummer in a local band as well as going to college. Graduate school. Imagine that, Cindy thought. Her Timmy in graduate school. Nothing like that would have happened if they’d stayed in Bennett’s Hollow, she bet.
No, it was a good thing—the best thing—what had happened. The best for . . . Keith . . . at least. And that was all that mattered.
But, no it wasn’t all that mattered, Cindy thought, tears coming to her eyes that she was grateful didn’t show in the dim lighting of the hall. What had mattered more was that he’d found her, reached out to her—had sent that first letter. And then had answered the one she’d sent in reply, the one she’d agonized over, not making any self-serving excuses, not wanting him to just walk away in disgust after having made initial contact. Not knowing how to maneuver the shoals of that first contact. But somehow what she’d written hadn’t broken the slender cord. And he hadn’t asked her any whys—had only wanted to know the who.
That wasn’t all that unusual she’d learned when she’d gone to her pastor about Keith reaching out to her. Apparently a lot of young people his age reached out to try to fill in their past. It had been the pastor who counseled her to let Keith take the initiatives in whatever was to be.
“Well, we’ll have to rectify that. I’m sure Keith just hasn’t thought about it yet.”
“What?” Cindy asked, having spun her thoughts away and returned to the table in the dimly lit hall.
“Photos. You’ll want to exchange photos. He’s a handsome young man. You’d know he didn’t come from either John’s or my family. None of us that tall and good looking. None with the strawberry blond hair. So much like you. You’re so pretty. And you look far too young to have had any children old enough to be in college. Any children at home back in Lynchburg?”
Any children? Cindy thought, the ache in her heart twisting like a knife. This generous, open-hearted woman. She’d been the only mother Keith had known all of his life. How could I intrude on her rights to him?
“No, kaçak bahis no children,” she answered, not feeling any right to claim even a sliver of Keith. “I never married.” How could she say that Tim hadn’t been just a fling—at least not for her—and that there never could be another in her life that way? Her daddy had said she was too young for it to have been real and her mother had done what she always did—she gave a helpless look and retired to her bed. But it didn’t matter if she’d been eighteen and legally able to make her own decisions. Her daddy was possessive and overbearing. He wasn’t ready to let her go.
And as far as being pretty and young looking, where the hell had that gotten her?
* * * *
Summer that year had been the steamiest for years, setting up a languid feeling for everyone by the time it was drawing to a close. Tim was nineteen. Already out of high school and gone directly into trade. He didn’t have ambition higher than that. A local high school hero with strong good looks, muscular body, and a sunny disposition, he’d been everyone’s best friend and every high school girl’s heart throb. He was sitting pretty in life without going anywhere else or building up any more of a life than he had. Cindy, eighteen at the time and one year behind him in graduating from high school, had swooned over him along with all of the rest of the girls.
But it had been Cindy who had caught Tim’s eye and who he wooed. He wasn’t the type of guy to notch his belt with conquests and brag about it, but he wasn’t completely inexperienced either—and certainly not uninterested. That didn’t mean he was smart enough about sex to use protection consistently, though, and Cindy had been a complete neophyte. She’d been so smitten by him that she didn’t—and wouldn’t have—questioned anything he did or wanted to do.
They had met at the cash register in a country store where the road from the hollow met the main road going up to Buena Vista. Cindy had walked down to the store in a cotton dress and without a bra, and the heat of the day had, without her realizing it, plastered her dress to her body. Tim, coming off a roofing job, was shirtless. Another kind of heat hit them both at the same time, and, with neither of them knowing how they’d arrived there, Tim had Cindy backed up against the wall at the back of the store building and his hands were traveling up her thighs under her cotton dress, with fingers running up under the leg hole of her panties. Her dress bodice had already come unbuttoned and his bare, well-muscled chest was smashing her breasts. Hard and throbbing, he entered her deep as she climbed his hips with her legs, and, just like that, Cindy had given up her virginity.
From the fall of 1993 into that winter, they “did it”—at first in glens in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reached from parking areas on the Blue Ridge Parkway, on mossy and fern-cushioned ground surrounded by trees changing their colors in brilliant array, and then, when it turned cold, in the cramped backseat of his old cab-and-a-half pickup in whatever lover’s lane he could find. They’d never slept together in a proper bed or without the fear of suddenly being discovered.
That hadn’t stopped Cindy from getting pregnant.
When she knew it for sure, she called him at his parents’ home up in Buena Vista and told him he needed to come down to the hollow—that she had something she needed to tell him. Cindy’s family was a cold one, with a timid, sickly mother and a father who, as possessive as he was, only had respect to give sons. Her brothers ignored her entirely. She couldn’t seek being in a real family fast enough. She and Tim had already talked of marrying and even had woven the life they would have in flights of fancy. He made good money as a carpenter already—or they at least thought he did—and everywhere he went while working, he’d keep his eye out for cabins they could rent to buy. And later, after they’d done it in the backseat of the pickup and were cooling down, he’d tell her about the cabins he’d seen and they’d speculate on how they could be fixed up. He gave her the first glimmer of what being in a loving family could be like. The stumbling block, of course, was that, although Cindy was eighteen, her parents were strict and possessive as well as distant.
Of course, now that Cindy was pregnant, her parents would have to come around to the idea. First she’d have to talk to Tim about it, though, and make sure he’d stand by her.
She would never know if he would have stood by her or not. He came careening down the mountain in the snow in that pickup of his, headed for her and the hollow, not knowing what she had to urgently discuss with him, and had slid off the road and down into the trees. He had died instantly in the crash.
Cindy couldn’t hide her condition from her folks for long. There was no question of her not carrying the baby to term. Her family was seriously religious. Her father gave her two choices. He could find a husband for her among the young men whose families lived in the hollow—she was a beautiful girl and known to be sweet tempered and the women of her family were known to breed well—or she could give the baby up, he’d give her enough college to be employable, and she could have a life of her own.
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