Dear readers, this chapter is part 3 of a multi-part story. I would recommend that you first read part 1 and 2 and even the pre-quel, “The Reluctant Neighbour”. Hope you enjoy this (and like the characters as much as I do).
“Hey Rob, are you up yet?” Joanne shouted from the bottom of the first floor stairs. She heard the shower running and headed up to the second floor and Rob’s bedroom.
Joanne had worked late on the day Rob arrived home and had not met him after the rugby game as planned. She decided to stop by Rob’s home on the way into the office the next morning.
Seeing the guest room door open, she poked her head in looking for Shannon as well, but was surprised to see that the bed was untouched. No one had slept in it last night. Joanne groaned.
She moved down the upper floor hallway and, seeing that Rob’s door was open, peeked around the corner. Stepping back quickly Joanne gasped. At first it looked like Rob’s rumpled king size bed was empty. But at the top corner a wave of dark blonde curls cascaded over a pillow and then turned toward her. Shannon!
Shannon’s eyes opened at the sound of footsteps coming into the room. She just caught a glimpse of Joanne as she stepped back into the hall.
“Joanne! Wait! Please!” Shannon called out, trying to shake the sleep from her head.
Joanne ignored her. She quickly slipped down the hall and then the stairs to the first floor.
Shannon came to the top of the stairs and yelled again for Joanne. But she was gone.
Rob had promised Joanne this wouldn’t happen. He was completely honest about how much he enjoyed sleeping with Shannon at the resort in Vietnam but he insisted it had been a combination of circumstances that had led to their affair. Away from the resort and back in Toronto Shannon would have a world of men to pick from and he would have Joanne.
Joanne trusted the sincerity in his words. Her success as a lawyer depended on her ability to cut through the lies that guilty people invariably put forward. She believed him.
But then she had met Shannon and began to doubt. Joanne sensed that, to most men, Shannon was simply irresistible. But would it be inevitable? After all, Rob was old enough to be her dad.
Besides having an almost ethereal beauty, a combination of delicate and extremely cute facial features and subtle curves on top of the smoothest, sexiest legs Joanne had ever seen on a woman, Shannon was naturally charming. Underlying what was a genuine sweetness Joanne also sensed a very competent mind. There was no possibility of her being accepted into UofT med school without a very high level of intelligence.
Joanne’s was reeling – a state of mind she rarely experienced. She thought, ‘So where does this leave me? Do I just walk away from Rob and let him play with his little sex kitten?’ That thought sent a shudder down her spine and a tightening of her stomach. Rob had come into her life after a long spell without any serious relationships. She was enjoying the stability and wanted more.
Through her twenties and thirties Joanne had exactly two extended relationships. One began while still in grad school and she had expected to marry Phillip, a fellow law school classmate. Phillip ended their relationship when he became interested in a legal assistant at the small law firm he worked at. Joanne sensed he was uncomfortable with her success as a criminal lawyer at a prestigious firm. Phillip mostly worked on real estate transactions and occasionally a divorce case while Joanne was becoming well known amongst the small circle of very prominent trial lawyers.
Still, she was shocked when he abruptly ended their relationship. They had shared an apartment for over 4 years and Joanne and Phillip had talked children in the context of marriage. They both had agreed they wanted kids when they were ready. In retrospect, she suspected their waffling on marriage had more to do with his uncertainty. The stories of how the legal profession was devastating to personal relationships abounded but somehow she never saw it happening to herself.
Tom had come along in her early thirties. He was a member of her evening running group. Tom was a software developer who specialized in having fun outside of his job. He took everything lightly and Joanne enjoyed his take on life. It was very different from the world of criminal lawyers whose private life, if they allowed one at all, would centre around building their fortune and the material world around them. Tom was happiest when playing with his toys; his kayak, his mountain bike, his many different skis and his rock and ice climbing gear. He expanded his world to include Joanne, who was drawn into his life of outdoor adventure. She liked the distance it provided from her law practice and it was fun. Tom was fun and their physical relationship was as fun as the games they played.
Slowly during this very hectic relationship Joanne came to the realization that Tom would never really move beyond his games casino şirketleri and pursuits. He seemed determined to be a big kid for the rest of his life. After five years or so of fun Joanne knew that Tom would never have children, would never want to build a home and a future beyond his next adventure. As much as she enjoyed being with him on all his activities she started to yearn for more. She never officially ended their relationship, she just stopped going on his trips. After some time of distancing herself from him she just accepted that it was over. While he seemed genuinely disappointed that she wasn’t joining him on trips, or in his bed, he never delved into the real issues of their relationship.
After Tom, she had resigned herself to being permanently single. And then, Rob had come into her life
In her office, high above the city streets, Joanne sat staring out the window. ‘Is this it?’ she thought, ‘The end of yet another failed relationship? Is it me? Do I give up without a fight? Let him have his little babe and forget him?’
The hollowness this left in the pit of her stomach was unbearable. ‘I can’t accept its over,’ she moaned to herself. ‘We are good together. Shannon is only an aberration for Rob. He can’t help himself around her. But do I want to be around them now? Not really. Its just too weird.’
Deep in thought, she startled when her cell phone rang and vibrated. Shannon! She recognized the 403 area code of Shannon’s Calgary phone. Hesitating only a few moments, she punched the connect button. ‘Okay’, she thought, ‘lets hear what she has to say.’
“Joanne here,” she said as flatly as possible.
After several seconds of blank space on the line Shannon almost whispered, “Joanne, hi, its Shannon.”
“Hi yourself. What can I do for you?” Joanne asked coolly.
“Umm, I think I should apologize.”
“You think? For what?” Joanne shot back.
Silence again, then, quietly, “Sleeping with Rob.”
“Hey kitten, Rob’s a big boy. He picks you. Enjoy.”
“JOANNE, NO! Its not really like that. He doesn’t pick me at all. I … I force myself on him. I can’t seem to stop myself. I’m so sorry!”
Joanne was taken aback by her forthrightness. For a moment she drifted back to her early twenties and tried to envision herself around a guy like Rob. Rob was strongly built with wide shoulders and a powerful chest. Unlike many guys his age his stomach was flat and toned. The greying hair around his finely chiseled facial features really only accentuated his male beauty. She remembered profs that had some of those features and recalled, during lectures, how she got lost in fantasies about what it would be like to be in bed with them. As much as she wanted to tell Shannon to go fuck herself she couldn’t do it. In her heart she knew Shannon wasn’t evil. Still, the hurt she felt when she saw Shannon in his bed knotted her stomach up.
“Joanne?” Shannon whispered, “Are you still there?”
“Can I meet you for lunch or after work?”
“Why Shannon?” Joanne shot back.
“Well … its .. just. Okay, I’ve only known you for a short time and really I’ve only known Rob for a bit longer but I really really would like to be your friend, to both of you.”
“Shannon, this is real life. Sleeping with my boyfriend is not exactly a great strategy for working your way into my heart.”
“Yes … and I know apologies really don’t apply in this situation. I’m acting like an immature brat. I can’t fix what has already happened but I will move out of Rob’s place as soon as my lease starts. I’m also going back home to get the rest of my stuff. After that I will be moving into my own place in September.
“And I promise I will behave. Please believe me that I appreciate what you and Rob have together. I am also envious. I know that no matter how much I throw myself at him I could never have him the way you do.”
Joanne quietly reflected on Shannon’s words while her anger slowly dissipated. Taking a different tact she asked, “Are you planning on sailing with Rob and his crew tonight?”
“Umm … yes, I hope to, if you think its okay?”
“Shannon, despite my advanced age and experience, I have really no idea whats okay and whats crazy in our little threesome. I mean our scenario; you, Rob and I.”
Shannon giggled and then felt embarrassed for laughing at Joanne’s slip. “Sorry, I know this is serious but … I kind of liked ‘threesome’.” And with that she giggled again.
“Honestly, can you get sex off your mind? Joanne said lightly, deciding that it was time for a partial capitulation.
“Yes. come out for the sail. You can meet Melissa, the brains behind the racing crew. And don’t you dare let her know you were sleeping with Rob. I don’t need two young women jumping him. I think she has wanted to for months now if I read her staring at his butt and other parts correctly. Honestly, young women today!!”
Shannon giggled again, genuinely liking the turn in the conversation. She then asked, casino firmaları “Are we really that bad? “A girl can only take so much temptation.”
“Yeah right. Lets meet at the ferry docks at five pm and we can ride over and talk. Rob and Melissa will be over there early getting the boat ready.”
Quietly she said, “Joanne, thanks for being … well … so understanding. I’ll see you at five. Bye.” Shannon ended the call.
Joanne spun around on her desk chair and resumed looking out the window. Telling Shannon to get lost would have been a much shorter conversation and maybe the right one, but there was something about Shannon that stopped her from being mean. Still at a loss as to how she should react, Joanne decided to just simply view Shannon as a horny kid finding her way around relationships. And hopelessly drawn to a beautiful older man. Anyway, that would do for now. Work was calling, but first she had to talk to Rob.
Picking up the phone, she texted Rob: *Lunch at Franco’s, 12:30. I’ll reserve.
Rob texted back ‘OK.’
At 12:15, Rob left his office. The late summer heat wave had eased off somewhat but the humidity was still uncomfortable. He was already feeling uneasy and, combined with the moist air, he could feel the sweat trickling down his back. Shannon told him Joanne had stopped by his place while he was in the shower, and that she had left in a hurry. No words had been spoken. Shannon had also asked if she could talk to Joanne before he did. Not knowing whether this would be good or bad but not really knowing what to say to Joanne, he agreed.
Rob spotted Joanne near the back of their favourite Italian eatery. While the bistro was busy with the lunchtime crowd she had picked the quietest table. He sat down warily across from her without giving her their customary light kiss. He started to open his mouth and Joanne held up her hand and stopped him with the gesture.
“Rob, wait, I don’t want apologies or whatever, lets get right to the point.
“Rob, lets face it, she is a stunningly attractive young woman absolutely at the height of her beauty. If I was a guy in your place, I couldn’t say I would resist her any better than you do. What I find most perplexing about her is how really personable she is, no, absolutely sweet she is. I want to dislike her, hate her even, but I can’t. And she knows she shouldn’t be taking advantage of male weakness, pardon me for saying that – you guys really let your dicks do a lot of your thinking – but she can’t resist you.
“And frankly, I can’t resist you either,” Joanne almost whispered, gazing down at her fingers.
Rob felt a flood of relief flow through his body. She was giving him a reprieve; a get out of jail free card that he certainly didn’t deserve. Slowly he moved his hand over to her fingers and touched them lightly with his. He looked into her eyes and said, “I don’t deserve you. I will try to make up for what I’ve done.”
Her eyes briefly flashed anger at him. “What I don’t want is deception or dishonesty between us,” Joanne continued. “Don’t tell me what you will or wont do with her while she is staying with you. You two figure it out. While she is at your place I will stay away. Three in a bed is just too crowded for me.”
Rob reflected on this for a few seconds and then, pushing his luck, asked, “Could we get together at your place?”
“Maybe. Let me think about it. By the way, I confirmed that Shannon would come sailing tonight.”
Rob let out a visible sigh of relief. “Okay, thanks, we’re short crew and I want to test out the new spinnaker before the next race. I was hoping you wouldn’t find it … well, awkward.”
“Rob, ‘awkward’ is a bit mild to describe our situation. I am in new territory here.
“For now, lets just enjoy being out on the lake tonight. It should be a beautiful evening.”
Forty minutes passed, filled with quiet conversation about their day. Lunch over, Rob moved close to Joanne as she stood up. He reached up and put his hands on either side of her face. Looking into her eyes for a few seconds, he gently kissed her quickly. “Joanne, you really do mean so much to me. Thank you.”
Joanne looked away and her lip trembled. “Okay, thank you for saying that. You mean a lot to me too.
“Oh, and do you think you can keep your hands off her tonight – at least while I’m around,” Joanne said with a hint of a smirk.
“Baby, you are the only female I will fondle tonight – my boat aside, of course,” Rob replied with a chuckle.
“Oh great! How do I compete with 40 sexy feet and kevlar sails,” Joanne bantered back.
With that they parted until the evening.
Shannon arrived early at the ferry docks. There was nothing quite like this in Calgary. She loved the waterfront park in Toronto and was particularly enjoying watching all manner of people waiting for the ferries to take them over to the Islands. Moms and kids with grandparents in tow, young couples holding hands, people who looked like they were coming from güvenilir casino work and commuting home to the Ward’s island community, lots of people with dogs, large families with the women dressed in saris and the men holding picnic baskets and cricket bats all added to the lively scene. Shannon could see sailboats out on the water, the sight of which sent a tingle down her spine as she remembered her last sailing trip with Rob off the coast of Vietnam.
Her thoughts drifted back to Joanne’s slip about them being a threesome. She knew Joanne hadn’t used the term in its sexual connotation knowingly. By all social convention there was no way Joanne should be meeting her tonight for anything. Getting caught sleeping with her boyfriend should have made that a no go. But Joanne was different from the twenty somethings Shannon knew. There was a depth of experience and maybe a different sort of understanding that motivated Joanne’s response. And to a certain point, the situation with Rob at the centre was outside of either of their experiences.
Shannon was sure about two things. She wanted to be friends with Rob and she wanted to get to know Joanne better. The third thing she wasn’t so sure about. Could she have one and two while sleeping with Rob?
Shannon gazed out on the water deep in thought when Joanne came up and touched her on the shoulder, shaking her out of her deep reflection. She turned to look at Joanne and the word ‘threesome’ jumped into her thoughts. Maybe she could have one, two and three and just maybe more. Purely in the moment she jumped up and gave Joanne a big hug and bigger smile. “Great to see you!”
“Likewise, lets line up, we will be taking the Hanlan’s point ferry to get to Rob’s boat. You’ll like the boat.” Joanne was startled by the warmth and familiarity of Shannon’s hug. Hadn’t she just been caught sleeping with her boyfriend? Perhaps social conventions had changed for Shannon’s peer group. Joanne smiled ironically at how dated she suddenly felt.
On the ride over Shannon chattered away about her explorations of the city. She expressed continual amazement about how much the city dwellers revelled in their summer. She was finding the vibe to be surprising and exciting. Toronto was turning out to be not so big and bad as most westerners thought of the city.
Leaving the ferry dock they walked towards the boats. Approaching Rob’s slip a scowling girl greeted them. Shannon guessed this had to be Melissa. She was surprised at how young Melissa was, and how pretty. Shannon had expected someone much older and ‘saltier’ given how her reputation as a gifted seaman had proceeded their meeting.
“Engine!” Melissa scowled. “No lake water cooling, probably impeller. Rob’s taking it apart now. This sucks!”
“Oh dear,” Joanne commiserated. She was a bit embarrassed by Melissa’s lack of social skills. She was completely ignoring Shannon in her fit of pique. “Ummm… let me introduce you. Melissa this is Shannon. Shannon, Melissa”
“Nice to meet you. Have you ever set a spinnaker before?” Melissa wasted no time getting to the point.
“Well no, Rob did teach me sailing in Vietnam. Is a spinnaker a lot like a jib? Oh, and by the way, nice to meet you too.”
“Yes and no. You can mostly observe tonight. Joanne will teach you.
“So you met Rob in Vietnam.” She looked Shannon up and down coldly. “So what else did he teach you?” Melissa almost hissed the question at her.
“Ummm … well … how to get over a hangover,” Shannon said lightly, trying to brighten the conversation.
Shannon continued, “He mentioned that you are really knowledgeable about race strategy and are key to his crew’s success.” Unspoken by Rob was how good looking Melissa was. Shannon felt a twinge of something that felt dangerously close to jealousy.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing how the crew works together.” Shannon wanted to deflect the conversation.
“Yeah, well, lets hope we can sail tonight. If its the impeller we will be ready to leave in about an hour. That will give us still a good hour and a half under sail.”
Sensing Melissa’s grumpiness and veiled antagonism to Shannon, Joanne decided that a walk for an hour was in order. “Hey Shannon, while we wait lets go for a stroll. Melissa, can you tell Rob we’re here and will be back to check on progress soon.”
“Okay, I’ll text you if we get the motor running early. See you in a bit, I hope”
They started down to the south end of the island. Shannon spotted a map and studied it carefully. “Wow! I would have never guessed it but Toronto the Good has a clothing optional beach and its just to the west of us. Can we go and check it out?”
“Oh, good god! OK. I had completely forgot about it. Sure we can go over there.”
“Yea! I really liked the beach below UBC. Its fun to swim in the nude.”
“Oh, and just so as not to be disappointed, most of the beautiful naked men you will see there won’t be interested no matter how good looking you are.”
Shannon smiled at this. “Hey, I’ve long accepted that the more beautiful a man is the more likely he is gay. Pardon the term, however ‘our guy’ being an exception. Thank god there are a few good looking men who aren’t into each other!”