Alicia looked up from her order pad at the Marine. He was the only late-night customer. “Tell you what, since I’m closing up soon, how about I make you a blue plate special?” She saw a frown crease the man’s brow, “On the house. My way of showing gratitude for all you do.”
The guy was typical United States Marine Corps. She should know; hers was a Marine family. Since they had come to this country in the early nineteen hundreds, the men of her family had proudly served their adopted homeland. Her great-great-grandfather had been a doughboy in World War I. Her great grandfather had served as a US Marine in the Pacific theater. But they had been the lucky ones coming home to their families.
Alicia loaded the plate with a selection of her grandmother’s best food. A giant tamale and enchilada, rice and beans, as well as a generous serving of grilled steak and chicken. Marines were always too lean. And this man was no exception.
Her grandmother had already gone home for the night. Alicia had insisted that the woman take it easy this past couple of years since her heart attack. The irony was that Alicia did not come from a large Latino family. She had only her grandmother. Her father was an only child. His dad died in Vietnam before he could give him brothers or sisters.
It was a curse that was to repeat itself when her father died in Desert Storm. When her mother had left a couple of years later, Alicia had begged and pleaded to remain with her grandmother. She had seen her mother only a handful of times over the past almost twenty years.
The buzzer on the industrial microwave went off, and Alicia took the two plates from it using potholders. She used her wide hips to swing open the double doors between the kitchen and the dining room. She smiled as she put the plates on the table in front of the man. “Hope you enjoy it. Just holler if you want more. I’ve just got some cleaning up to do in the back.”
“Thank you, ma’am.”
“Alicia. My name’s Alicia.” She studied him for a moment. Damn, this one was a looker. All-American blond with stunning baby blues that would make any woman’s heart race and her panties wet.
He nodded and picked up his fork. Usually, the Marines that they got in this place were overly friendly. More than one had hit on her, which generally resulted in her grandmother coming out of the kitchen with a broom in those arthritic hands. But not this guy. He seemed a million miles away.
Alicia watched him as she cleaned the dining room. Her grandmother had already cleaned the kitchen, so Alicia only needed to put a couple of things in the refrigerator and wipe down the microwave and food prep area again.
The man seemed to enjoy his meal, shoveling large forkfuls of the food into his mouth. But it was evident from his tall, lanky frame that he would burn it off quickly enough. These guys usually did.
As he brought the last forkful to his mouth, she approached the table. “Can I get you anything else? Grandma makes a mean apple pie.”
He shook his head and looked up at her. Her heart froze in her chest at the sight of his deep blue eyes, eyes that held such pain she could not breathe. “No, ma’am. It was delicious, though.”
Alicia was not usually the chatty type, not one to lead men on. She did her job waiting on them, but unlike the other waitress that had worked for her grandmother for years, she did not flirt. But something about this man reached out to her. “You stationed here?”
“Just home for a few weeks on leave. I’m heading back tomorrow.”
She did not need to ask where to. Half of the troops from the Marine base were deployed to the Middle East. They had been for over a decade now.
Every time another one came in the café before deploying, her grandmother would grab the cross around her neck and kiss it, giving thanks that Alicia had been a girl baby and not another boy child to be sacrificed for duty and honor. But they still tried to do their part.
“Leave? How long were you back?” she cleared the table in front of him.
“Six weeks. My wife was killed in a car accident.” His voice was completely flat as he said the words, but it explained the pain in his eyes.
“I’m sorry,” she murmured.
“Thank you for the food, ma’am. I guess I should head out. Let you get out of here.”
Alicia knew that he was right, but something inside of her sensed that there was more to this man’s story. “No, a cup of coffee and some pie. Before you go.”
He looked at his watch. “I suppose if it is quick, ma’am.”
She disappeared into the back once more. She frowned as she put the pie into the microwave and poured two cups of hot black coffee. What was she thinking? Obviously, the man was upset, but they had chaplains and counselors on the base. Surely, he would have spoken to them? But still, her heart pulled her back towards the table.
She put the small plate of pie and a cup of coffee down in front of him. But this time, instead of busying herself with cleaning, she took a cup of her own cup and sat down in the booth across from him. “I’m sorry about your wife. It must be hard.”
He shrugged again as he brought a bite of pie to his mouth. His eyes locked on hers as he chewed it, as if he were studying her this time. Her heart skipped a couple more beats staring into those baby blues. He sighed as he laid his fork down on the plate. He lifted his cup of steaming coffee and took a sip. “Truth is that she was not alone when she was killed. My former best friend was in the car with her. They were having an affair.”
Alicia tried hard to mask her shock. She knew that was the reaction the man was trying to elicit from her. That and perhaps pity. Instead, she squared her shoulders and met his gaze. “It happens more often than it should. My mama had replaced my dad before his body was even cold in the ground. My grandmother always felt that she was probably messing around before Daddy died.”
He smiled at her and nodded, “Corps family?”
“For as long as we have been Americans, Flores have served this country with pride as Marines. My dad died in Desert Storm. My grandfather in Nam. And the generations before them served in Korea and both World Wars. So yeah, we know the score.”
“But not you?”
She laughed, “Grandmother would kill me herself. She says that we have given enough of our men. They do not need our women too.”
“Wise woman, your grandmother.”
“She is that. So, what now? You’re heading back with this chip on your shoulder? I might only be in my second year as a psychology major, but even I know that’s not a good combination.”
He laughed then, and it echoed around the empty diner. “You’ll make a damned good shrink. I’ve had my head shrunk by the best, little lady, and they could take lessons from you.” He lifted another bite of the pie to his lips as he studied her some more.
When he had finished it and drank more coffee, he stared down at the table. “Truth is that I went into Hollywood tonight. Thought I’d get drunk and find a prost-,” he paused and looked up at her. “A pro to drown my sorrows.”
“I take it; it didn’t work.”
He shook his head, “None of them appealed to me. Just made me sick to my stomach, actually.”
She shrugged this time, “Maybe what you need isn’t that kind of comfort.”
He laughed again, “Lady, I just spent nine months high and dry only to discover my best friend was screwing my wife. I’ve got at least another six months without a real woman. Oh, trust me, that is the kind of comfort I need.”
“I meant maybe you don’t want it from someone you have to pay for the pleasure. Maybe you just need some simple no strings attached fun with someone you like,” she stared into those deep blue pools. Even she was questioning her sanity. This was so unlike her. And if her Abuelita ever found out… It did not bear thinking about.
“Oh, honey, there are always strings attached.”
She laughed this time, “Not always. Sometimes two adults can screw without head games or emotions.”
He frowned at her, “I can’t believe I’m even having this conversation with you. You look like white picket fences and mini-vans, a half dozen kids, the dog, and probably a cat or two.”
She laughed yet again at how accurately he had painted the picture of everything she wanted most in life. And one thing she knew: that picture did not include a Marine. As her grandmother said, the family curse ended with her.
Still, from the moment this guy had walked into the diner, there had been something about him that called to her. Something that set her tummy tumbling in a way that it had not in a very long time. Well, honestly, never. She wanted him. If only for this one night.
“So, if you planned on hooking up with a pro, I take it you bought the condoms already?”
She watched as he sputtered into the coffee, but he nodded. “Then just let me cash out, and you can walk me home, jarhead.”
She stood up from the booth, but this time instead of just picking up his empty plate, she leaned over to give him a view at her decent B-cup breasts.
He frowned for a moment before shrugging once more. “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, my grandmother always said.”
“Well, those ain’t my mouth, and I’m no horse,” Alicia pronounced with an extra swing of her round bottom in the tight jeans.
“No, ma’am. That you are not,” he stood up.
It took Alicia twice as long as it should have to count up. She kept losing track every time she glanced at the man waiting by the door. He was staring out into the chilly desert night. She was sure that his mind must be as confused as her own.
This was not like her. Oh, she was no flowering virgin, not that she wanted her grandmother to know that. But she had lost her virginity in high school to her steady boyfriend, and over the past few years, she had slept with a few more guys.
But casual sex was not her style. The no strings attached that she boasted to this man would be a new experience for her. If she could go through with it. Yes, she was attracted to him. More so than she had been anyone. But still, as he accused, she was white picket fences and commitment. It was the way she had been raised. And this no-strings thing was an anathema to her.
She stuffed the deposit slip into the bag with the cash and zipped it up. She tucked it inside her coat and walked over to where he stood by the door.
“Don’t tell me you do that when you’re alone?” he frowned with obvious concern.
“The bank is just a couple of doors down, and this is a small town.”
Alicia reached up and brushed a kiss across his lips. “But thanks for caring.” She meant it too. Somehow it took the sting out of the whole no strings thing.
Then she realized that she did not even know the man’s name. She debated that as they walked outside. She fumbled with the lock until it clicked into place and then motioned with her head towards the bank a couple of doors down the main street.
Should she ask? It was scandalous to make love with a man whose name you did not even know. Not make love. Have sex, no strings attached sex. And wasn’t a name the thinnest of strings? If she knew his name, wouldn’t she be tempted to scour the local news for information about him? She dropped the bag into the night deposit and turned towards him.
“My apartment is just over there,” she motioned across the street to a block of townhouses. He followed her in silence. Alicia debated it all again. When she looked over at her companion, his hands were stuffed into the pockets of his jeans; his shoulders slumped over.
As they stood in front of her door, he straightened, “Thank you, ma’am, for the dinner and the pie. And your nice offer, but this is probably a terrible idea.”
“Probably, but don’t you think you at least owe me a goodnight kiss?” Her newfound boldness spoke before her mind could argue its boldness. But she could not imagine living another fifty or more years without having tasted those lips at least. Were they are soft as they looked?
“I suppose it is the least I can do, ma’am.”
His large hands encircled her upper arms. Her skin seemed to catch fire even through the rough denim of her jacket. She looked up into those deep blue eyes that appeared darker under the dim light of her porch lamp. She watched as his Adam’s apple bobbed up and down nervously.
He lowered his head, slowly closing the distance between them. “Thank you, ma’am,” he whispered against her lips.
She could smell the rich black coffee and the sweetness of the apple pie, but there was something else too. Something totally and entirely masculine, something that beckoned for her to taste its sin, just this once.
As his lips moved softly over hers, she took a single step forward into his arms, pressing her body against his. She moaned softly when she felt the hard ridge in his jeans brush against her thigh. He groaned like a wounded animal, and then his tongue surged into her mouth. His grip on her upper arms tightened until it was almost painful, but it was the most intoxicating thing she had ever felt. Their tongues danced with one another for several long moments until he reluctantly drew back.
“I should leave,” he whispered as he looked into her face.
“But you won’t,” she smiled as she flicked the key in the lock of her front door. Without looking back, she stepped inside her apartment. She did not bother to turn on the lamp, enough light filtered through the open curtains to illuminate their way to the bedroom.
It was not until she heard the door softly closed behind her that she was confident he had followed. She sighed. She would consider later why she would have been so disappointed if this man had left.
“Follow me,” she smiled into the darkness, thankful that he had not. It was only a few short feet down the hall to her bedroom, but the walk had never felt so long as her mind once more fought the conventionality of a lifetime.
She was glad that the door was open. An impediment might have been enough to send both of them running. As it was, she reached back and took his hand, almost dragging him into her inner sanctum. Like the living room, she had left the curtains open when she went to work earlier, and the full moon shone through, lighting their way to her double bed. The brightly colored Mexican blanket was more muted in the darkness.
She pulled him down on top of it with her as their lips once more sought and found the perfect erotic rhythm to keep the doubts at bay. She practically shot off the bed when she felt his hand cup her right breast through her t-shirt. She moaned into his mouth as he found her nipple and pinched it between his thumb and finger. “Please,” she heard the throaty whisper when he pulled back from the intense kiss for a moment. Who was that sexy siren, she thought.
“Yes, ma’am,” he whispered as his lips trailed hot, wet kisses down the side of her throat as his other hand brushed up the inside of her thighs until it cupped her heated core. Her hips had a mind of their own as they arched up into his caress as he rubbed her through the rough material. Then his hot mouth found her hard nipple; his teeth bit lightly at it through her shirt and bra. She cried out, but not in pain.
His fingers found the button of her jeans and tugged so hard that she was afraid he would tear it off. Then she heard the loud sound of the zipper in the quiet of their little world without any rules. When she felt his calloused hand push inside her pants to cup her wet womanhood, her legs fell open even more.
Then his fingers were inside of her, pushing harder and deeper than anyone ever had. And she was flying, racing to the moon, sailing through the darkness as the stars rushed past her closed eyes. “Oh god,” she cried out as her hands gripped his shoulder for an anchor in the turbulent seas. She had never felt anything like this before, as her orgasm went on and on.
She felt something sliding slowly down her legs, but her endorphin flooded brain did not register that it was her jeans until she saw him toss them across the room. Then those rough hands were tearing and pawing at her shirt. She lifted her head to allow him to pull it off, taking her bra with it. Then she was naked. Naked in her bed. With a strange man. A man whose name she did not even know.
If that other Alicia would have balked at the idea, this new sexy siren found her hands tearing at his t-shirt as impatiently as he had torn at hers. His own hands were already working on his belt buckle and jeans. She managed to tug his shirt off just seconds before he pushed his jeans down to land on the floor.
Then his hands were all over her. Skimming her stomach and heating a trail to her firm breasts as his mouth captured her nipple and suckled. The sensation was even more intense without the thin barrier of her shirt and bra. She was whimpering and moaning, rubbing against him like her grandmother’s gato as she felt the tension coursing through her once more.
He must have felt it, too, as his hand once more spread her thighs open. This time instead of pushing deep inside of her core, his thumb found the hard nub at the apex of her mound. It circled the throbbing button, coming closer and closer to it but not actually touching it until she cried out, “Please,” once more.
Then he stroked it hard and fast as three of his thick fingers plunged inside of her wetness. She arched up as his teeth bit into her nipple. It is not possible, she thought, as once more she surfed the universe. Her orgasm rolled on for all eternity as her body tightened and spasmed from her toes to the top of her head that felt it would explode at any moment.
She heard something tearing, and suddenly he was on top of her, covering her as he pushed inside of her. She sucked in a deep breath and willed her body to relax a bit. He was larger than her other lovers had been, thicker too. It did not help that she had not had sex since her grandmother’s heart attack over two years ago. But none of that mattered. She had to have this man inside of her. Had to feel all of him. Know all of him.
When he would have pulled back, slipped away perhaps, her nails sank into the firm flesh at his sides, no love handles for this man. This perfect lover. This aberration. She held him to her, drew him deeper as she arched her hips up to meet his thrust. He groaned out this time, “So fucking tight.”
He was inside of her then, pushing deep. Hard and fast. Pounding mindlessly. It was what they both wanted, what their bodies demanded on this mad rollercoaster ride through the stars. She cried out just as she would when plunged down the ride at the fair.
Her body exploded yet again, and this time it was more intense because the frantic way her lover was moving inside of her told her he was with her this time, every step of the way, every twist and turn, and he followed her, took her on the ride of a lifetime.
She was gasping for breath, her whole body replete, limp, and exhausted. She could barely lift a finger as she felt him collapse on top of her. She smiled and closed her eyes as she felt him shift to the right, taking the bulk of his weight off of her. But their legs and lower bodies remained intimately locked. She wanted to say something. Tell this man how spectacular it had been. But words would not come.
His breathing slowed, and she found her hands caressing his broad shoulders. She looked over at his handsome face, relaxed now in sleep. She memorized each line and plane. She knew this was a dream. A once in a lifetime experience, and she did not want to waste a moment of it.
But her body was too satiated. After a long day on her feet and then the stellar releases of her orgasms, it was impossible to fight slumber forever.
They woke twice more in the night. Alicia was shocked that each seemed to be better than the last. As she fell asleep in his arms that last time, she promised herself that she would ask his name in the morning. Perhaps exchange numbers and emails. See where this thing might go.
But she awoke to the shrill sound of her alarm. The sun was pouring into her bedroom, revealing the stark truth of daylight. She was alone. Her mystery man was gone. Disappeared into the desert. She swallowed back regret and gloried that for once, she had dared to grab life and hold onto for the most exhilarating ride of her life.
“Thank you, jarhead,” she whispered as she stretched her naked body. She ached in the most delicious of ways as she stood and walked to the shower. Time to face another day, but she knew that she would relive it all again that night. In her dreams. In the bed that she had shared for one instant with the man of her dreams.