Tara Sue Me
Chapter One: Darcy
“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” Marilyn Monroe
Elliott and I have been best friends since Kindergarten, so I don’t think it’s a stretch to say I probably know him better than anyone. However, I have never been able to figure out why he dates the women he does.
Take for example the one he’s with tonight. First of all, it’s the World Series and Atlanta is playing. Elliott and I always watch the finals when they’re in it. Granted, it’s been several years since they’ve made an appearance, but it’d take more than a hot date to keep him away from my place tonight.
It’s fairly obvious his date, the second woman he’s dated this October and henceforth referred to as O2, wasn’t made aware of Elliott’s plans prior to their arrival. Not with the way she’s leaning against the table examining her nails and the dagger of ice glare she shoots him with every five minutes. Elliott is, of course, clueless. But that’s Elliott for you.
He probably thinks the skintight dress she’s wearing is fine for an evening of baseball and beer. More than likely, he’s perfectly content to wait until after the game to peel the red fabric off her, but O2 is not. She wants Elliott and she wants him now.
Not that anyone can blame her. I’ll be the first in line to admit Elliott is one of the best looking men I’ve ever seen. And thanks to his job as a trainer for the state’s professional lacrosse team, the Georgia Storm, his body is pretty fantastic, too. Of course, that’s my opinion based solely on my imagination and what I can infer from the way he wears his clothes. I, unfortunately, haven’t seen him naked since we were six.
So yes, Elliott’s a catch and a half, and any woman would be proud to be on his arm. And yet, he keeps going out with these plastic lookalike women.
I skirt past O2 and sit on the couch beside him. “O2’s a little overdressed, isn’t she?” I ask, reaching across him to grab a handful of chips.
“Her name is Alice,” he says, keeping his eyes on the television.
“She makes it to November, she’ll be Alice. Until then, she’s O2.”
“Don’t let her hear you call her that. I don’t feel like explaining your naming system to my date.”
His voice is sharper than normal and I look at him in shock. He’s not actually serious about this one, is he? He’s frowning, but he’s not angry. “What crawled up your ass today?” I ask. I’ve been refusing to learn the names of his women for a least the last year and he’s never minded. I glance over my shoulder to see what this latest one is up to. She’s chatting with Richard, one of the players Elliott works with.
I actually end up watching her for a few minutes and not once does she ever turn her head toward Elliott. She’s completely caught up in her conversation. At one point, Richard says something and she laughs this horrible sounding laugh that is part hyena and part strangled cat.
Then, right there in my kitchen with God and half the Storm players present, she runs a perfectly manicured nail down the guy’s chest. Now I’ve never mastered the fine art of lip reading, but I’m pretty good at interpreting body language and her body wasn’t so much saying, You must excuse me so I can go sit with my date but rather, Let’s blow this joint so I can blow you.
I’m not sure if Richard knows she came with Elliot. I’d like to think not. In the Utopia I’ve created in my brain, work friends do not walk around with their hand on your date’s ass. But then again, I work in the hotel industry and Elliott works with professional athletes. I know from previous conversations with him that a few members of the team are into some pretty kinky shit, so I don’t know, maybe they do.
But when I glance back at Elliot, he’s watching them with a look that is so raw and vulnerable that I swallow the smart-ass comment I’m about to say and put my hand on his knee.
“You deserve better, Elliott Taber,” I whisper, so no one hears, but the game is back on following a commercial break and no one is paying us any attention anyway.
He shakes his head and looks surprised for a few seconds. It’s almost as if he’d been asleep and I woke him up. “What?” he asks.
I nod to the corner of the kitchen where Richard and O2 are trying to make out without being obvious they’re making out. Which really means they’re standing in the corner of my kitchen and being all handsy when they think no one’s watching.
“I was just saying you deserve better than O2 over there. I mean, really? What’s she doing hanging all over him when she came with you?” I suddenly can’t stand the sight of them anymore so I turn back to face him. “She’s a guest in my house. I have a good mind to kick her out.”
“Don’t worry about those two. I’m not.” His expression is back to his usual carefree and easy one.
I’m floored at how calm he’s acting and it’s causing me to grow more and more concerned about his state of mind. How can he sit there like it’s nothing while his date is all but climbing over another man who also happens to be his work associate?
“You’re entirely too calm about this,” I tell him. “It’s not normal.”
He sighs deeply right as a chorus of cheers go up around us, and we both realize we’re missing a good part of the game. I check the score and give the guy sitting on the other side of me a high five.
Elliott leans over to me. “We don’t have a normal relationship,” he says in a low voice.
“What do you mean by that?” His eyes are hazel, with flecks of gold and green. I’ve always thought they were cooler than my boring blue. “How many people do you know that have been friends for twenty-five years?”
His gaze is steady. “I wasn’t talking about me and you.”
“Then who were you talking about?”
Another cheer goes up and Elliott brushes me off. “We’ll talk about it later. Come on. Let’s watch the rest of the game.”
Our conversation isn’t finished, and he knows this. But I agree that this isn’t the best place or time to talk. Besides, if he wasn’t talking about our relationship, then he had to have been talking about him and O2. And if there was any relationship I don’t want to talk about while my boys win the World Series, it’s that one.
For the next few hours, we fall back into our old and comfortable routine of yelling at the players and the umpires. We eat way too much, drink way too much, and laugh way too loud. In other words, good times.
When the game ends and people begin to leave, I look around and both O2 and Richard are gone. Elliott shrugs like it’s no big deal, but I’m not going to let him get away with it that easily.
As it so happens, I’ll be staying in Atlanta for an extended period of time. Typically, with my job as a brand expert with an international hotel chain, I’m only in my home city for two weeks out of the month. Since the season has just ended for the Storm, Elliott will be around as well. It’ll be the perfect occasion for me to finally get to the bottom of what the hell his problem is with women.
“Looks like O2 left your sorry ass,” I say with a punch to his arm when almost everyone has left other than him.
“Alice and I have an understanding.” His smile is back in place, but it doesn’t make it to his eyes.
I can’t imagine a couple with any sort of relationship that finds it acceptable for one person to leave the other in the middle of an evening out, but whatever. He can attempt to explain it to me later.
“You and me,” I tell him. “Tomorrow night. The Barn. Seven o’clock. O2 isn’t invited and you best not even think of bringing O3.” It’s our favorite steak house, so he’ll show up.
He tells the remaining guys and their dates goodbye, all the while acting like he didn’t hear me. Before he leaves to catch the driving service he called, he leans over, tells me he’ll see me at dinner tomorrow, and kisses my cheek goodnight. The kiss is something he’s done countless times, but in the second before he pulls away, there’s a hint of hesitation. He’s gone and out the door before I realize I’m standing in my doorway with a hand on my cheek, lightly touching the place his lips had been seconds before.
Chapter Two: Elliott
“Women are meant to be loved, not to be understood.” Oscar Wilde
When I was in college, my roommate asked me if it was weird having a best friend who was a girl. I wasn’t sure how to answer the question. Darcy had always been my best friend and she’d always been a girl. I finally told him no and weird would be having a guy as my best friend.
That was when my eyes opened and I realized how rare it is to have a relationship like the one Darcy and I share. With her, I’m Elliott and she’s Darcy. We don’t have to apologize for anything and we don’t have to hide anything.
But I am hiding something from her.
Life is funny. You always think it’s the big moments, the ones with lots of pictures and fanfare that are the great turning points. Not so for me.
Mine was last year’s Holiday Charity Ball the Storm organization puts on each December. Darcy was my date, as per usual, because she loves getting dressed up as much as I hate it. Plus, not only is she hot as hell, she won’t act all weirded out to be in the public eye with a bunch of pro athletes. Trust me on that last one, it’s a lesson I learned the hard way.
We were entering the hotel behind a player who had captured the city’s love and devotion by completing a seemingly impossible move to cement a win. The security guards were keeping the general public a good distance away, but a young boy ran up to this guy and asked for an autograph. The player was all smiles and proceeded to kneel at the boy’s level and talk with him. This was the shot all the newspapers and TV newscasters went crazy over.
But not me.
The boy’s mother and little sister were back away from the crowd and closer to where Darcy and I stood completely unnoticed. Even the boy’s mom had her attention focused on her son. Truth be known, it was where my focus was as well.
Until I turned to see if Darcy happened to have her phone out so I could ensure we had a shot from our unique perspective. She did not. She had no interest in the boy or the famous athlete or anything the rest of those present were watching. Because Darcy was playing Peek-a-Boo with the boy’s younger sister.
It wasn’t like I’d never seen her do it before. I had. But somehow, something about that moment struck me inside and I knew I’d never recover. There she was, dressed to the nines in a gorgeous black designer gown, her long brown hair in an elegant upsweep, and pearls she’d borrowed from a friend, drawing attention to her slender neck. She’s standing slightly bent at the waist so she could get somewhat eye level with her audience, and playing Peek-a-Boo with a baby.
The autograph was finished, people started moving forward again, and the mother with her two children in tow walked away. Darcy took my arm and tilted her head.
“Are you okay?” She asked, her blue eyes filled with concern.
“Yes, I’m fine. Just a bit chilly.” It was surprising how easily the lie had slipped out, but what was I supposed to do? Tell her I’d fallen in love with her in a single moment?
True to form, Darcy is waiting for me when I arrive at the restaurant the following evening. Her absolute refusal to ever be late anywhere is a trait of hers I accepted years ago. But tonight as I slide into the booth to sit across from her, she quickly covers up a look of surprise.
I raise an eyebrow. “Are you shocked that I’m here or that I came alone?”
“I knew you wouldn’t stand me up.”
Interesting. She thought I’d bring someone with me tonight? I don’t have time to contemplate why that is before she answers as if I asked the question out loud.
“You do realize that this is the first time in almost a year that you haven’t brought a date along when we’re doing something together?”
Surely she can’t be right, but her words echo in my head and I don’t need a calendar to know she’s correct. I haven’t put myself in a position to be alone with her since the charity ball last December.
“I guess I hadn’t realized that,” I say. “I’m sorry, Darcy. Truly.” Though what I’m apologizing for, I’m not sure. I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to be alone with her because I’m afraid I’ll slip and she’ll know how I really feel about her. Along those same lines, I’m not going to apologize for falling in love with her because that’s just stupid. Maybe I’m apologizing for not having the balls to tell her how I feel. I don’t know.
I don’t realize I’m digging my fingers into my hair until she reaches across table and gently touches my arm.
“Elliott,” she says, and I don’t deserve the concern in her eyes. Not when it’s only there because I’m too scared to tell her how I feel. “Hey, I’m worried about you.”
I take her hand. “I’m fine, Darc,” I say, using an old nickname I haven’t used in years. It’s unexpected and her cheeks flush. I run my thumb over her knuckles, hoping to soothe her a bit and because I love the feel of her skin. “I’m stressed out, that’s all.”
She’s a smart woman and she’s aware it’s more than that. But she’s also my best friend and she knows when not to push. “Okay,” she says, pulling her hand away because right at that moment the waiter comes to take our order. Even so, I miss her touch.
When he leaves, she thankfully changes the subject, but I’m not sure the new direction is any better. “Tell me what you were talking about last night when you said you weren’t normal.”
“I meant Alice and I were never in a normal relationship.”
“After she left your ass high and dry last night, I would hope you’re not in any sort of relationship with her.” She raises an eyebrow as if to say, You know I’m right.
“Our time together was based on a mutual agreement to fulfill specific needs the other person had.” I’m hoping she’ll let me leave it at that, but it’s unlikely since I can almost see her brain working through the meaning of my words.
I silently plea with her to let it go and when our salads are brought to the table, I think I might get a reprieve. However, no sooner is the server gone, than she levels her gaze back my way. “Explain, please.”
I think about making it sound prettier than it is, but fuck it, I’m talking to Darcy. Seriously, she knows all my dirty little secrets.
Except for one.
Still, I’m a bit hesitant with my reply, so I say it completely devoid of any emotion. “I had a need to get laid and she had a need to meet some professional athletes.” It’s shallow, but the truth.
“Are you serious with that answer?”
“Did I stutter?”
“Oh my, God, I can’t believe you.” She puts her fork down and leans across the table. “You are, aren’t you? You’re completely serious.”
I shrug. I’m fairly certain there was nothing joking in the way I answered. “Is that a rhetorical question or are you expecting an answer?”
“You know this is not normal, don’t you?”
“I believe I said as much last night,” I say and hope she drops it soon.
“No. I mean this is way, way, way beyond normal.” She picks up her fork and takes a bite of salad.
It’s always made sense to me. After all, I do have needs and the woman I love isn’t going to take care of them since she doesn’t know I love her. What am I supposed to do?
Of course I can’t tell her that.
I’ve suddenly lost my appetite, and I should say something to convince her I’ve not gone off the deep end or to steer the conversation toward a less volatile subject. Unfortunately, at the moment, I have no idea how to do either.
This is why I never meet with her alone anymore, because I knew as soon as I did, this very thing would happen. I’m surprised she isn’t seeing right through me and picking up on exactly what my problem is. It’s so hard to always be on high alert, making sure my tone doesn’t give anything away, or that my touch doesn’t linger.
She gasps and my heart stops. Fuck. She does know. I take a deep breath and tell myself I can do this. I can confess my feelings about her and we’ll take it from there. She won’t feel the same, but it’s not like she’ll stop being my friend.
It’ll be okay.
“You know what your problem is?” she asks, slightly titling her head.
“No,” I reply because now I’m thinking it’ll be better if she says it first.
“You’ve been dating the wrong type of woman.”
Of course I am, because none of them are you.
I don’t say it, but I think it. In fact, I don’t open my mouth at all for fear those exact words will come spilling out on their own.
“Well?” She asks proudly and crosses her arms over her chest like she’s waiting for me to give her a round of applause.
“I don’t think I’d describe the arrangement Alice and I had as dating.”
“You’re right,” she says. “Let me rephrase. You need to start dating the right type of woman.”
There is no way I can argue that. She’s absolutely correct. Unfortunately, it’s not about finding the right type of woman, because there’s only one woman for me. Except she doesn’t know that. So for now, I play along with her like the coward I am.
I sit back in my seat. “And I suppose you know the right type of woman that I should date?”
“Of course I do,” she says with the confident smile I love so much and my heart warms. “I know everything about you. I know you better than you know yourself.”
I don’t doubt her, but I want to mess with her a little bit. “Oh you do, do you?”
“Oh, yes, absolutely.”
She looks so sure of herself, and I shouldn’t do what I’m getting ready to do. Unfortunately, I can’t help myself. “Okay Miss Smarty-pants, when I’m eating pussy, do I prefer the woman to be lying down, sitting on my face, or ewww gross, people do that?”
She tries to cover her surprise at my question but she’s not completely able to. Is she picturing us together the way I am? I can’t tell. Although I have to hand it to her, she recovers pretty quickly and answers, “It better not be the last one.”
I can’t help but to smile at her response. “I’ll give you that much, it’s not. But tell me, which of the others is it?”
She’s actually thinking about it and when her cheeks flush pink, I’m pretty sure she is imagining me between her parted thighs and I’m instantly hard. “Lying down?”
“No.” I lean forward. I don’t think anyone’s listening, but I need to ensure they can’t hear what I’m about to say. The flush of her cheeks has made me bold. “I want you on my face. I’ve found that’s the best way to both taste you and to get my tongue inside you the deepest. Although, granted, I’m not really picky and I’ll eat your pussy anyway you give it to me.”
Her mouth is still open when I continue, “Next question. When you take me in your mouth do I let you lead or do I hold your head still while I fuck your face?”
She glides her gaze down my body. With the way we’re sitting she can’t see anything, but I still shift in my seat because suddenly my dick is doing all it can to bust out of my jeans and flag her down. Her fork clatters to the table.
“Ummm.” She looks everywhere except me. “You’ll let me lead.”
“No. I’m pretty much fifty, fifty on that one. Could go either way, depending on the day and my mood.”
She slinks into the seat with a low groan. I think about stopping, but decide to keep going. I have to know how far she’ll let me go.
“Next one,” I say.
She holds up a hand. “I think that’s enough. I said date you, not fulfill all your sexual needs.”
“If she’s the right woman for me, they’re one and the same.”
“This entire line of questioning is stupid. I said I could find the right type of woman for you to date. I wasn’t talking about knowing you like that. Besides, I doubt you know my sexual preferences.”
I should take her at her word and shut up. I should stop while I’m ahead, and let it die. If I was smart, if I had a brain in my head, if I wasn’t so into knowing her deep dark secrets I would. But I can’t. Looking into her eyes, I tell her, “I know you won’t sleep with anybody before the fifth date. I know you like a lot of foreplay because you think it’s hard for you to come. But in reality, I don’t think you’ve ever been with a man who turned you on that much. I know you like dirty talk while you’re fucking and you like to cuddle and kiss afterward.” The image of her, soft and sated, in my arms is too much and I have to pause for a breath before adding in a whisper, “And I think somewhere deep inside you fear you’ll never find a man who can satisfy you.”
By the time I finish talking, her mouth is wide open in utter and complete shock. All I can think is how badly I’ve fucked up because I just showed her my cards and now she knows how I really feel about her. I’m doing my very best not to let on how petrified I am when she closes her mouth with a, “Haha!”
“What?” I ask.
She shakes her head with a knowing glare. “That’s like, eighty percent of women. I bet you got that from reading a magazine O2 left at your place.”
I can’t tell if she really believes that or if she only wants to believe it because it makes her feel better. But, for right now, I’m not going to push it. I’ve already said enough about both of our sex lives for one evening and I don’t want to push her away.
“I’m sure I did,” is all I say.
We both drop it then, allowing some of the tension to leave the table. In fact, we don’t talk about anything having to do with relationships until we’re finishing dessert.
“Like I said earlier, you really should let me set you up with someone.”
I roll my eyes. “Really Darc? Back to that? You really think you can find someone for me better than I can find myself?”
“I’m sure of it,” she says and then pops the last bite of her double mocha cake in her mouth.
I almost tell her she’s on just so it’ll hopefully wipe that smirky grin off her face before I’m tempted to kiss it off. “That’s okay,” I say instead, not able to drag my gaze from her lips. “I’ll pass.”
But it appears as if in remembering everything about how Darcy likes sex, I forgot one thing: she likes to play dirty. Therefore, I’m not at all prepared when her grin goes from smirky to downright evil.
“Come on,” she says, proving once and for all how well she does know me because the next three words are my own personal kryptonite. “I dare you.”