Brian’s Weekend

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“I want a divorce.”

Those bitter words sizzled through Brian Robinson’s mind over and over again as he drove through the dark, rainy countryside of central Michigan.

It had been three weeks since she said those awful words to him, three long unforgettable weeks of living with someone who had fallen out of love with him, living with someone who no longer shared his bed after eight years of marriage, instead preferring the guests’ bedroom for her solitude and independence.

After the shock and anger had worn down to where he could speak, Brian tried to reason with Tina and more important, tried to figure out why she wanted to end their marriage. But, it was to no avail as she could offer no satisfactory reason, at least in Brian’s mind, for wanting a divorce. Her words rang hollow as his anger rose again. He had to leave before he did something he would regret forever.

The rain fell harder and Brian feared he would have to pull over if his line of vision got worse. Thinking back over the weeks, he could only sigh and shake his head. He didn’t regret giving Tina the ultimatum to either act like a wife and try to work things out or leave. She was his wife and not his guest, he pointed out to her. In the end, though, it still surprised him how little time it took for her to decide to begin packing.

That had been two days before and he didn’t ask where she was going nor had she contacted him. It was just as well. He figured she went to stay with her parents as she had done once before when one of their arguments got overheated. Perhaps he would call her. Then again, probably not.

The day after Tina left, he called his best friend and poured out his troubles into her caring ear. He had met Gretchen Allen at the police academy seven years before, sitting next to each other that first day. By the end of the week, they were having lunch together and soon became close friends. They both graduated near the top of their class and were assigned the midnight shift. They were never partners since the department’s policy was to have single units, but they saw enough of each other on duty and off to keep their friendship strong.

It surprised and saddened Brian when Gretchen announced she was transferring two hundred miles south to another department after five years on the force together. It was closer to her family, she explained, but it didn’t lessen the heartache Brian felt. It saddened Tina, also, because Gretchen was sweet and kind to her as well. They kept in touch and visited each other now and then as Brian and Tina were always welcome at Gretchen’s condo by Saginaw Bay.

It was after they had talked for almost an hour when she suggested he come down and spend the weekend at her place, something he secretly hoped she would do. He needed some time away and this would be perfect for him.

“Are you sure I won’t be a bother?”

“You’ve never been a bother before and you never will be,” she replied. “Besides, that sofa bed needs to be used.”

“Can’t I sleep with you?” he joked, something they always did with each other.

“Yeah, but you’ll have to move the dog,” she answered, tongue firmly planted in her cheek.

The rain continued to beat down on his windshield, but he didn’t want to stop, not now when he was fairly close to her home. His mind turned to their days on the force and the times they shared off duty. They constantly joked about hooking up together in a remote hotel for some hot, steamy, pelvic grinding sex, not that Brian would have minded hooking up with Gretchen. It was only wishful thinking because he would never do anything like that to hurt his marriage and he knew Gretchen would want no part of it, either.

“How ironic,” he grumbled to himself at the thought.

Gretchen had been married once, but had been divorced for three years. It was Brian who put her to bed after she passed out when she celebrated a bit too much after the divorce was final. He thought of taking a peek under her tee shirt and sweat pants, but he knew he would never be able to look her in the eye again. Once he removed her shoes, he kissed her forehead and covered her up before leaving.

They had become closer since then, if that was possible, and their jokes of getting together for a night of intimate passion started to be less funny and more of a wistful longing. When they visited and long after Tina had gone to bed, they would sit on the patio of her condo and talk for hours, sometimes holding hands throughout. It never seemed to bother Tina that they were such close friends. At least she never said anything about it to Brian.

About ten minutes later, Brian pulled into Gretchen’s complex for the first time without Tina by his side and it felt strange to him. In their eight years of marriage, they had never spent a night apart from each other until Tina’s self-imposed exile. All of the sudden he felt nervous and on edge being alone with another woman for a weekend, never mind it was his best friend whom he loved like a sister.

He İstanbul Escort knocked on her door and whatever was bothering him melted away when he saw her. At five feet ten, she was just a little shorter than he. She was wearing black slacks and a teal blouse and her dark, but wavy auburn hair was tied in a ponytail with a yellow ribbon. Her soft hazel eyes met his steel blue ones and she smiled. Without saying a word, she opened her arms and hugged him. Her soft, flowery perfume wafted under his nose and he inhaled to catch more of the scent.

“I’m so sorry,” she said after they parted. “I wish there was something more I could say.”

Brian nodded and picked up the bag he had dropped to the ground outside. He closed the door behind him and turned the deadbolt. “There’s nothing much to say,” he said.

“Are you hungry? I’ve got some stew left over from supper?”

He had already eaten on the road, but Gretchen’s cooking was something he always savored. “I’d love a bowl of stew,” he replied as he placed his bag on the floor near the sofa.

“Great,” Gretchen said, “just sit down and relax. It’ll only take a few minutes to heat.” She then moved to the kitchen.

Brian thought about sitting down, but the sound of the rain and the waves of Saginaw Bay lapping against the shore but sixty yards away caught his attention. He walked to the patio door and stepped out, partly closing the door behind him. The lights of the marina could be seen and a full moon cast a shimmering bright light over the water. The clouds had parted and the rain had diminished to a fine mist, causing Brian to presume it would end soon. It was still warm that June evening and Brian enjoyed being there, if but for all the wrong reasons.

Gretchen watched Brian with interest as he looked at the water. It came as no surprise to her to hear of their breakup. Call it intuition. Call it being able to see subtle changes in their relationship. Call it whatever you want, but Gretchen saw it coming. She tried to warn Brian quietly about things she saw or heard, but he ignored her or didn’t want to listen. Whatever it was, he didn’t get it and now he was here with her seeking refuge. No, she thought, that was too strong a word. Perhaps it was a safe haven for him.

She sighed and lit the burner on the stove. It would take but several minutes for the stew too warm. It didn’t feel odd to her that Brian was alone and visiting. It was almost like a brother or someone else from her family dropping by. They had known each other for seven years and he was the closest friend she’d ever had. She shared things with him that her family didn’t know, especially key elements that led to her divorce. They never knew of the psychological beating she took, nor the physical. She never forgot the rage in Brian’s eyes when she told him of it, nor did she stop him when he insisted upon talking to her husband. The beatings stopped after that, but the head games were worse than ever. Gretchen never knew what Brian had said to him and he never spoke of it. She was too scared to really want to know.

She set a place for one and made a small salad for him. Once the stew was warm, she poured an icy glass of blackberry wine for him and dished out a plateful of the steaming stew. She called for him, but the door was closed too far for him to hear. Moving to the door, she stepped through and placed a hand on his shoulder.

“Your stew’s ready.”

As if he didn’t hear, he said, “You picked a beautiful spot, here, Gretchen. I could watch this forever. I’ve always loved visiting here.”

She smiled, thinking about how much she enjoyed his visits. “I look at the water quite a bit myself. It’s very calming, isn’t it?”

Brian nodded before turning to her. “After I eat, would you want to take a walk with me? I mean, if it isn’t raining,” he added.

“I’d love to,” Gretchen answered. She tugged at his arm. “Come on before the stew gets cold again.”

He followed her into her home once more and sat down to his meal. Gretchen watched silently as Brian devoured everything within minutes, although he took his time with the wine, taking an occasional sip now and then.

“There’s more if you want,” she said when he finished.

“No, no,” he said as he pressed a napkin to his mouth. “That was really good. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.”

“You’ve always been a great cook. I love everything you’ve made for me.”

“Really?” she asked, her eyebrows raised. “I never knew you noticed.” Gretchen stood up and began to clear the table.

Brian saw her hips sway sweetly beneath her slacks as she moved away.

“Of course I noticed,” he replied with an indignant tone to his voice. “I notice a lot of things.” His eyes were still looking at her backside.

“Such as?”

“I noticed how pretty you look tonight.”

“Oh, come on!”

“No, really. You usually wear jeans or sweat pants with a tee shirt and here you are with a nice top and slacks greeting me at the door with Anadolu Yakası Escort a smile. You were a sight for sore eyes. How could I not notice that?”

Gretchen smiled inwardly knowing he got her with that. She had tried to make herself look attractive for him that evening.

“So, what’s wrong with wearing a nice top and slacks?” she asked.

“Not a thing,” he replied. “It’s just that you normally don’t …. ” His voice trailed off.

“I don’t what?” she demanded. “Were you going to say I don’t normally look pretty? If you were, I’m going to beat you with this spoon.” She held the serving spoon in front of her as if she meant business.

“No,” he shook his head, smiling, “you always look pretty. Why do you think I sat down next to you at the academy?”

“You always said it was because you needed to cheat off someone and I looked smarter than anyone else in the room,” she retorted.

“Think again.”

Gretchen blushed and turned away. Why was he saying these things to her? And why was she loving every second of it? Without looking back, she put the extra food away in the refrigerator. Brian brought his plate, glass, and utensils to the kitchen and placed them near the sink as Gretchen closed the refrigerator door.

“Thanks for letting me stay here,” he said, changing the subject. “It was good for me to get away from all the negativity. This is just what I need.”

“You can come anytime you want. You know that.” She moved around him and began to put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher.

“I don’t want to wear out my welcome.”

“The only thing I want you to wear out is the welcome mat coming through the door.” She closed the dishwasher door and looked at him. “If you want to come every weekend, I’ll give you an extra key.”

Brian’s jaw dropped as he listened to her. “You’re not serious!”

“Bet me?” she said with her hand resting on the bar.

Brian looked at her and he could tell she was all business. There was no hint of laughter in her eyes and her brows were narrowed. She was indeed serious. “I couldn’t come every weekend,” he replied in a soft tone.

Gretchen smiled and turned to clean her stove top. Over her shoulder, she said, “Go ahead and change into something cooler. It’ll be warm for our walk.”

Looking down at his jeans and dress shirt, he figured he was overdressed for a casual stroll on the beach. Shaking his head, Brian took his bag and headed for the bathroom.

By the time he emerged, Gretchen had disappeared into her bedroom to change into casual clothes suitable for beach strolling. As she dressed into khaki shorts, a tee shirt and flip flops, she began to question her own motives for inviting Brian. At first, it appeared innocent enough as she had often invited him to her place for no particular reason, but she knew it was different this time. He was alone this time and free of Tina, whom she liked, but didn’t trust, never did. She wouldn’t mind if Brian came every weekend. It would certainly break the boredom of being alone and not having someone special in her life.

How special was Brian to her? It was never to the point where she wanted Brian and Tina’s marriage to end, but she was only sorry because it caused Brian pain. To her, it was perhaps an opportunity to open Brian’s eyes and let him know someone was out there for him, someone who loved him and would never hurt him.

When she finished, she saw him at the patio door again looking out to the water, his hands stuffed in his shorts pockets. “Is it still raining?” she asked.

“No, it’s clear,” he replied without turning.

“I’ll get a blanket.”

“It’s warm out,” he said, turning her way. “We don’t need a blanket.”

“I thought we might sit on the beach for a while after our walk,” Gretchen explained.

Brian nodded his approval. “Sure. Okay, that sounds fine.”

Seconds later, they were ready to go. Sparky, her Heinz 57 pooch who had a bit of golden retriever in him, came out of her bedroom for the first time. He sniffed at Brian indifferently before licking Gretchen’s hand.

“Don’t mind him,” she said as she rubbed his head and ears vigorously. “He’s been a bit of a grump the last few days.” She snapped his leash to his collar, then Brian opened the door for both of them.

Once on the beach, Gretchen placed the blanket on the dock and kicked off her flip flops. Brian placed his sandals in the same area and they began their walk. There were only a few other people roaming the beach at that time of night and Gretchen was happy for that. She enjoyed the solitude an empty beach offered her at times.

It wasn’t difficult to see because of the moonlight and the sand beneath them was stiff from the rain it had absorbed. The cool water lapped across their feet as it rushed to shore. They brushed against each other periodically as their unbalanced bodies tried to find level ground. Finally, it was Brian who slipped his arm around her waist and if by some sort of magic, Ümraniye Escort their gaits became in sync with each other. They stopped periodically as Sparky investigated or rummaged through this or that. After almost a mile, they turned and began their journey back to her condo.

Throughout their walk, they said little. Every so often, Brian would find something that interested him and would question Gretchen about it, but they were mainly silent. As they approached the property of her condo unit, Brian stopped and pulled her close. “You’re the best friend I could ever have,” he whispered in her ear.

“Of course I am,” she joked, giggling. The thing was, she really didn’t know how to respond. He sounded so sincere, so serious.

Brian didn’t let go of her, but drew her closer until her breast was pressed against his chest. In the shining moonlight, she could see his handsome face peering at her with a sly smile etched across it. She always thought he was a handsome man.

Brian moved closer and tilted his head as he neared her lips …

Thinking quickly, Gretchen said, “I better put Sparky in the house. I’ll be right back.”

Puzzled, Brian stopped and pulled back. “Okay.”

As she walked her dog back to the condo, Gretchen thought about what had just transpired. She just couldn’t let him kiss her then, even though she wanted it very bad. It had been a long time since she had been kissed and she couldn’t think of anyone she would rather be kissed by than Brian. Ever since her divorce, he was the one she thought of in her private moments when a man wasn’t around. She ached to kiss his lips and his body she wanted to hold. And it was because of her feelings for him that she moved to Bay City.

She tried to think clearly as she opened the door for her dog. Was this something she wanted to happen? Deep down inside, yes, she wanted it to happen for purely selfish reasons. She had wanted Brian for a long time and couldn’t help but be jealous of Tina for having him. In her mind, he was the best and no one could compare to him.

After closing the door, she turned and saw Brian’s silhouette near the shore. Oh, how she wanted him to kiss her! Gretchen sighed quietly and felt the nervous butterflies fighting for control in her stomach. Shoving her hands in her pockets, she slowly made her way back to the beach.

She came up behind him and placed both hands on his shoulders. “I’m sorry,” she said.

His shoulders heaved in a heavy sigh. “It’s not your fault. I shouldn’t have done it.”

Head bowed, Gretchen moved around him until she faced him, her feet becoming wet from the gentle waves rolling over them. She put her hands on his chest before speaking. “I don’t want to get hurt,” she whispered, her voice cracking.

“I’d never hurt you,” he replied. With his thumb, he brushed a stray tear from her cheek.

“I can’t love you if you’re still married. Don’t you see that?” She searched his face carefully for answers.

“I’m not married anymore, at least not in my heart,” he pointed out to her. “I can’t love someone who doesn’t love me. I just can’t.” Brian exhaled deeply as his true feelings were made known. “It’s just a piece of paper now with no meaning, no feeling.” He then drew Gretchen close and hugged her.

Gretchen moved her hands from his chest before she wrapped her arms around his neck and held him to her. She could feel his slow, warm breathing against her neck as her mind raced. Could this really be happening to her? Could she allow him to love her and let herself love him? Pushing away her thoughts, Gretchen kissed his cheek, her lips brushing against his day old beard. She lifted his chin with her forefinger and her eyes met his. Gretchen could see the pleasure her little kiss gave him as she saw his blue eyes dancing in the moonlight. She waited impatiently for him to make the next move, but he continued to gaze at her, a faint smile peeking from the corners of his mouth.

Taking matters into her own hands, Gretchen pulled his face forward and began to kiss him. Her kisses were feathery and light and Brian delighted in them. They had kissed but once before as a joke under mistletoe, but that had been years ago. Brian returned her kisses with his own and soon it wasn’t clear who was kissing whom.

Her kisses continued to be soft and easy as she tasted his lips and explored their texture. Her heart was fluttering with excitement and gentle tingles invaded her body.

Light-headed and giddy after a minute or two, Gretchen pulled away to regain her senses. Before her, Brian stood with a bemused expression on his face. Looking up to him, she said, “That’s how I always hoped it would feel.”

With Brian watching her every move, she went to the dock and took the blanket back to where he was standing. Moving up the beach, she spread it out and sat down with her legs folded under her. Brian followed suit and sat down beside her. Their hands found each other, but a nervousness still came between them.

Brian gazed at the sky and saw the stars had come out. He could never get over how many there were whenever he was visiting compared to his home. The moon seemed to be brighter and fuller, too.

“Where do we go from here?” Gretchen finally asked, breaking the awkward silence.

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