Jason calls me later that evening, after dinner is over. I see his name appear on my cell phone and I consider letting it go straight to voicemail, but I know he’ll just call again. So I answer, putting on my best exhausted voice. “Hey,” I say.
“Hi, Tasha,” Jason says, not sounding tired at all. “I miss you. Would you like to… come over?”
“Actually, I’m really beat,” I say, giving a yawn for added effect. “We have a big drive ahead of us tomorrow, so I think I’m just going to go to sleep now.” I add, “Here.”
“Oh.” Jason sounds a little surprised. And disappointed. “Uh, well, that’s understandable. Are you okay?”
“Uh huh,” I say, biting my lip.
“Okay,” he says quietly. “Um, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then?”
Of course, it would be incredibly weird if I booked an air flight for tomorrow, so there’s no way out of this car trip. I’m not sure what I’m going to do. Should I tell Jason that I’m having doubts? “Yeah, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Jason hesitates, sounding like he wants to say something more, but thank god, he doesn’t.
When I go up to my room to sleep, I intentionally close the blinds. Not that I think Jason’s going to be watching me, but… well, I feel like leaving them open is almost like taunting him. Before they snap shut, I notice that the lights are out in his bedroom.
I strip down to just my bikini panties and can’t keep myself from checking out my body in the full length mirror where I spent half my teenage years admiring myself. I’m 32 years old and I definitely don’t look the same as I did when I was 16, despite not having bourn any babies. My boobs aren’t nearly as perky as they were back then—I could never get away with going braless. And my ass isn’t as perky either. It seems like gravity has taken its toll on practically everything.
I turn to the side and frown at my tummy. I had such a perfect, flat tummy when I was 16. I only weigh maybe ten pounds more than I did back then, but somehow my tummy isn’t as perfect as it used to be. It’s definitely less toned, even though I go to the gym more often now than I did back then (which was never).
In profile, I can see the small colorful tattoo that I have on my back, just above the line of my panties. It’s a butterfly. I got that tattoo when I was 26. While I was with Jason, as a matter of fact. We were wandering through the village after he’d watched Cynthia’s Armpit play a set at a random bar, and we were both slightly drunk. So when we passed the tattoo parlor, I grabbed his arm and squealed, “I have to get a tattoo!”
“You don’t have one?” Jason looked shocked. It was a little surprising that I made it to 26 without a tattoo, considering I had already pierced practically everything on my body. At my piercing peak, I had five holes in each ear, a hole in my nose, my tongue, my eyebrow, my lip, and my belly button. The only thing I never pierced was my clit. Right now, all the holes have closed up aside from two in my right ear and one in my left. I guess that’s the benefit of piercings over tattoos. No laser surgery required.
“I need to get one,” I told him firmly.
“Absolutely you do,” he agreed. That was the best thing about Jason. As square as he seemed sometimes, he never ever tried to talk me out of doing something a little crazy and fun. In fact, he often encouraged me. I’m sure if I had ever wanted to do something really bad (like marry a boring loser), he would have taken a stand. But other than that, he was always on my side.
We went into the tattoo parlor and looked at the wall of designs. “What do you think I should get?” I asked him.
“The snake,” Jason said, pointing to a drawing of snake that was about three feet long. “Definitely the snake.”
“Shut-up. I’m not getting a huge snake tattooed on my body.”
I finally picked out the butterfly, which was small and pretty. The tattoo artist came out from the back, and he looked me over with my fishnet stockings, my hair dyed about five different colors, and my tiny leather skirt, and he got this big grin on his face. “Well, hi there,” he said. “I’m Greg. What can I do for you, sweetheart?”
That’s the thing about going places with Jason. Nobody ever thought we were a couple. Ever.
“I want the butterfly,” I told Greg. “Right here,” I said, pulling down my skirt slightly and pointing just above the string of my thong.
“Excellent choice,” Greg said, grinning as he flexed his tattoo-covered arms.
Despite being kind of numb from the alcohol, those needles really hurt. At one point, I wanted to turn around and punch Greg in the face. But it was over relatively quickly and then I had a butterfly on my back for all eternity. When I’m old and wrinkled, that butterfly will still be there.
“How about you, man?” Greg asked Jason as he was finishing up with me. “You getting one too?”
Jason shook his head. “Nah.”
“Oh my god, you have to!” I cried. “Come on, just get it on your ankle. You won’t even feel it.”
Jason thought about this for a minute, and he must have been drunker than I thought, because he said, “Okay.”
He decided to get a Phoenix tattoo on his ankle. He rolled up his pants leg and Greg got down on the floor to do it. Unfortunately, about ten seconds after he started, Jason’s leg started moving on its own volition.
Greg frowned. “You’re going to need to keep still.”
“Yeah, I can’t exactly control it,” Jason explained. He leaned forward in his chair, his hands bracing his knee, but he couldn’t get it to stop jumping every time Greg touched him. Eventually, they gave up.
I squared my bill for the butterfly at the counter, and Greg winked at me as he handed me my change. “So can I have your number?” he asked.
I glanced over at Jason, who was several feet away. He was looking at the tattoos on the wall again. Or at least pretending to be.
“You don’t even know my name,” I pointed out.
“Well, what’s your name?”
I looked Greg over. He was cute in kind of a grunge/punk way. I liked his dyed black spiky hair and I was admittedly curious to see the other tattoos on his body. “Tasha,” I said.
“Well, can I have your number, Tasha?”
I handed over my phone number without further resistance. Jason didn’t mention it, but I noticed he was a little subdued after we left the tattoo parlor, and our night of debauchery ended earlier than I expected. “I’m beat, Tash,” was his excuse.
When I look back on all these memories I have of Jason, now colored by the knowledge that he was head over heels in love with me, I seem like such a coldhearted bitch in my mind. How could I have let a guy pick me up right in front of him? More than once… hell, more than a dozen times. It must have silently driven him crazy. At the time though, I was sure he didn’t care.
Jason is a great guy. I owe him so much more than what I’ve been giving him. He deserves a wonderful girl. And I’m not sure that girl is me.
I don’t have the nerve to say to Jason what I’ve been thinking about, so we spent the first two hours of our drive in silence. At first, he tried to make conversation and flirt with me, but he eventually gave up. He even tried to kiss me when I first got in the car, but I turned my head to the side and he just caught my cheek/hair.
“You hungry?” Jason asks me as we pass a sign for Roy Rogers.
Fast food sounds perfect. I had been worried he’d suggest a diner where we’d be stuck there for an hour. “Sure.”
Jason exits the highway and locates the lot for Roy Rogers. When he puts the car in park, he doesn’t unbuckle his seatbelt. Instead, he lays his green eyes on me with a really serious expression on his face. My stomach turns to butterflies, like the one on my back. “We need to talk, Tasha.”
“I’m hungry,” I say lamely.
Jason frowns. “Stop it, Tasha. I’m not an idiot. I know what’s going on.”
“What?” I ask innocently.
“Come on,” he says, “you’ve barely said two words to me since we’ve gotten in the car. Usually you can’t shut up. So I’m getting the feeling you’re having second thoughts about… us.”
“Well,” I mumble. “I guess…”
He sighs and rubs his chin. “So… what? You want to go back to Larry?”
Did I? I hadn’t thought that far ahead. Larry didn’t make my heart beat faster and in some ways he was totally wrong for me, but he looked good on paper. “I don’t know. I just know I need some time.”
He’s quiet for a second. “Okay...” he says. “How much time?”
“I don’t know,” I say, feeling guilty. Most guys I’ve dated would have walked away by this point in the conversation. “But I don’t expect you to wait for me or anything. I mean, if you want to date other girls…”
Jason’s eyes are downcast. He bites his lip and shakes his head. “I don’t,” he says. “I don’t want to date anyone else but you, Tasha.” He looks up at me and the expression in his eyes is heartbreaking. “So I’m going to wait and you can just let me know…”
I want to burst into tears. Here is this man who loves me more than anything, who has always loved me, who I love back. What am I doing?
“I don’t want anyone else but you either,” I say. “I’m sorry I was being an idiot for a minute there.”
A slow smile creeps across Jason’s face. “Really?”
“Yeah, and…” I take a deep breath. “I don’t want to wait even another minute to be with you. I saw this sign for a Motel 6 at this rest stop…”
The smile on Jason’s face broadens. “Are you serious?”
He’s outright grinning now. He leans forward and kisses me long enough to make my toes tingle. “Well, damn. Let’s find that Motel 6!”
Jason’s fingers are trembling so much as he puts the keys back in the engine that he almost drops them. I’ve done it in a lot of weird places in my day, but sex at a Motel 6 is a new one for me. An airplane, a greyhound bus, a park, the back of a taxi, a museum, multiple public restrooms, and once a friend’s daughter’s first birthday party. But never a Motel 6.
It isn’t terribly hard to find the motel. I reach out and squeezed Jason’s hand after he puts the car into park. He gives me this look like he doesn’t even want to wait till we get to the hotel and wants to jump me right in the car, which is also something I’ve done in the past, but I was more limber in those days.
I honestly thought checking into the Motel 6 would have taken two seconds, but I guess they’ve upped their standards or something, because Jason is filling out paperwork for several minutes while I’m practically pacing next to him. Finally, I guess I’m making him nervous because he says, “Tasha, why don’t you sit down?”
I plop down into one of the three uncomfortable wooden seats arranged by the front desk. There’s a balding, heavyset man in one of the other seats, and he starts eying me in a way I don’t particularly like. I stare ahead at Jason, willing his credit card to go through quickly.
“I haven’t seen you around before,” the man says to me.
I flash him a quick, noncommittal smile and try not to make eye contact.
“I thought I knew most of the working girls who come here,” he goes on. “You must be new.”
Oh god. Oh GOD. Does this guy think I’m a… a prostitute? Seriously? Ew ew ew! Okay, yes, it’s a little suspicious that I’m checking into a hotel in the middle of the day with no bags for the obvious purpose of having sex. With a guy who’s clearly disabled. But seriously, I’m wearing jeans, sneakers, and a sweater! I don’t think I look at all hooker-like.
Thankfully, Jason finally finishes getting us the room and wheels toward me with the keys in his lap. “We’re good to go,” he says.
“Here, let me give you my number,” the guy says to me, much to my horror. “Maybe when you finish up here, you can give me a call.”
I’m going to throw up. Really.
Jason is staring at the guy, looking baffled. “What are you doing?” he asks.
The man laughs. “Don’t worry, I’m not trying to steal her away from you or anything. You can have your hour or however long you paid for.”
Jason looks as sick as I feel. “She’s not… I mean, I’m not…”
“Don’t feel embarrassed,” the man says. “It’s all right. Hey, I know that crippled guys gotta get laid just like the rest of us. It’s just lucky there are women like her around, huh?”
Okay, I’ve had enough of this. Jason’s still too stunned to respond, but I’ve recovered enough to get to feet and say to the man: “Not that it’s any of your business, but this is my boyfriend. And he’s fantastic in bed and would never have to pay for it.”
Well, that shuts him up.
Jason is kind of quiet as we search for room 126. I’m so angry at that sicko for ruining our buzz. I wish I could have punched him. When we finally get to the room, Jason is still kind of quiet and pensive. The room itself is clean, at least. It’s got the usual cheap looking television, cheap furniture, bed with a mattress covered in plastic, and a faint smell of moldy cheese. I wouldn’t want to vacation here, but it’ll do for a few hours.
I don’t so much feel bad about what that guy said to me as much as I’m worried Jason is upset by it. I’m not sure what to say about it to make him feel better, so I sit down on the bed, which is rock hard, and try to catch his eyes. That’s when I notice he’s holding back laughter.
“Jason!” I cry. “Are you laughing?”
“No,” he says, but then he chuckles slightly.
I cross my arms and try to look angry, even though I’m not. “You think it’s funny that guy called me a prostitute?”
“Of course not,” he says. He picks up my hand from the bed and holds it in his own. Jason’s hands are rough and warm. He wears gloves a lot when wheeling outside, but he couldn’t really protect them from years of wheeling as his primary mode of transportation. “You look nothing like a prostitute. He only thought that because you’re totally gorgeous and I’m disabled, and we’re hitting up a Motel 6 together. He couldn’t figure the whole thing out.”
“And that’s funny?”
He smiles. “Tasha, if I couldn’t find humor in other people’s idiotic assumptions about me, then I wouldn’t be a very pleasant person to be around.”
He has a point. Jason has a great ability to laugh at himself. When he was younger, he got embarrassed more easily, but now things bother him less. I remember a couple of years ago, he was trying to hop a curb that was steeper than he thought, and he hit at a weird angle, and both he and the wheelchair toppled to the ground. I felt terrible, but he just laughed and got back up.
And now he’s holding out his arms to me and I come into them eagerly. It amazes me how normal kissing Jason feels. It seems like after knowing him so long, there should be some awkwardness to it, but there isn’t. It feels like the most natural thing in the world, almost as if I can’t believe we haven’t been doing this all along. But then every minute or so, I think to myself, “I’m kissing Jason!” And at that moment, a tingle goes through my body.
And who knew he was such a good kisser?
He slides his hand up my shirt and I work at the button on his pants. Jason, apparently, wears boxers. I get my hand inside and I get a thrill as I think to myself, “I’m touching Jason’s penis!” I know that’s a weird thing to think, but it was something I never thought would happen.
I can feel him getting hard in my hand, but to be entirely honest, this is one way in which he’s sort of paling in comparison to ol’ Larry. Larry would have been hard like two hours ago. But Jason is much slower to get there, and he’s nowhere near as hard as I’m used to. If he hadn’t already told me he’d had sex before, I’d be pretty worried right about now.
“I want to go down on you,” Jason breathes in my ear.
“Are you sure?” I say teasingly. “Because I’ve got condoms in my purse…”
Jason’s jaw tightens. “Maybe another time…”
I look at him in surprise. “But I thought you said you could—”
His shoulders sag. For a minute, I wonder if he was lying to me when he said he’d had sex. Was it possible he couldn’t? That he was a virgin? That would… well, it would give me a lot of pause, that’s for sure.
“Listen, Tasha,” he says, his green eyes avoiding mine. “You know I can’t feel anything down there. Sex… it takes some planning. And it’s not my forte.” He flashes me a half-smile. “What I really enjoy is pleasuring you. I want to see you get off. That’s what turns me on.”
I frown at him. “Well, what if that’s what turns me on too? Seeing you get off, that is.”
Jason stares at me as if he never considered that. I wonder for a moment about him and Melissa, if their whole relationship just consisted of her getting eaten out.
“You sure?” he says.
I nod eagerly. “Just tell me what to do.”
I get off Jason’s lap and he transfers onto the plastic mattress. I’ve seen him transfer thousands of times in our lives, but I’ve never watched with so much anticipation. I can barely wait until he’s arranged his legs on the bed and I practically pounce on top of him. He’s grinning as I unbutton his shirt and I run my hands over his chest. His skin is so familiar to me, yet not in this way. I’ve watched him topless a hundred times and never really thought about what it would be like for my lips to touch his bare skin, to feel the hair on his chest between my fingers. I keep touching him and being amazed by the idea that this is Jason. Jason, who I’ve known my whole life, my best friend. And god, he’s so sexy.
I lower my lips onto his left nipple and I can tell this is the money spot by the way his fingers squeeze my shoulders. I lift my eyes and I see that his lips are parted and his breathing has quickened. Over all the years I’ve known him, I’ve never seen him like this, with his eyes squeezed shut from pleasure. I love the way that a layer of sweat accumulates at his hairline and the fact that I’m the one doing this to him.
“Oh, Tasha,” he breathes. “Tasha, Tasha, Tasha…”
At first I wasn’t sure if I’d know when to stop. Ejaculation is usually my cue that the festivities are over and that obviously wasn’t going to happen here. But as I continue to work on Jason’s nipples, I can see from his face and his breathing that he’s working toward some sort of climax. Finally, he throws his head back and breathes, “Oh, Tasha, oh my fucking god…” Then his body goes limp.
I lift my lips from his body and look at his face, which is shiny with sweat. He’s smiling. “That was unbelievable,” he says.
“I’m very skilled,” I say with a wink as I flop down next to him on the uncomfortable mattress.
“It was unbelievable because it was you,” he replies.
Jason’s looking at me in a way that I don’t think any guy has ever looked at me before in my life: with complete devotion. I’ve dated a lot of men, but none of them have been this obviously crazy about me, including Larry. And I can’t help but wonder why. Why does Jason feel so strongly about me? Okay, yes, I’m pretty. But so was Melissa. That can’t be all there is to it. Yet… the truth is, I’m just not all that great.
“I don’t get it,” I say, tracing a line up his chest with my fingernail. “What’s so great about me?”
“You’re Tasha,” he says simply, as if that explains everything.
And the funny thing is that it sort of does. Because it’s exactly the same way I feel about him.
To be continued....