We have reached a compromise on the hot tub. I can afford it, and I'm buying it, and paying for installation. Brian is going to be sure all the wiring, gas and plumbing is suitable, and hire contractors if and when needed to get it together. Personally, I don't think there will be much to do, but I had to let him participate.

What he's is going to do is choose my swimwear for me :-) He can spend as much or as little as he likes... and get as much or as little as he wants. As long as it fits, I promise to wear it.

So yesterday we put a down payment on a tub. I did, I should say. This "we" is getting dangerously easy to say. Our hot tub, our home, our cars, our cat... dammit, this is happening too fast. And Brian's too young and too inexperienced to know his own mind.

I almost feel like a trial separation is in order... but God, I don't want that.

Today I started my April journal entry. As you can see :-) But in doing so, I reviewed March, and I keep seeing, right at the beginning, "Brian asked me out". So, less than a month yet. God, that's hard to believe. I've never obsessed about a man like this before. But then, I've never been in love like this before, and I just don't have the experience myself to know if this is normal. I say he's inexperienced, but in this I'm almost as green as he is.

Can I be brutally honest here?

I'd like to be, but since Brian knows about this page now, I'm afraid he might misinterpret my feelings. I hate to ask him not to visit. He'd likely think I'm trying to hide something, and in a way I am, but not as he'd expect. I don't want to lay my thoughts out for him to ponder. That couldn't help our relationship. Perhaps I can explain it to him in those terms, and ask him not to read beyond March, at least for now.

Because the truth is, what I'd want to say if I knew he wasn't listening, is this:

I'm scared.


What a mess.

I wrote the last entry early in the morning on Thursday (1st) . Before all hell broke loose at work.

April 1 is always a bad day. Why does every single so-called professional magazine and mailing list insist on having a day full of spoofs? An April Fool's trick or two is one thing, but having to weed out the scams from the worthwhile information is always a pain. Usually I just throw away anything I receive on the first. (Well, okay, that isn't true, I skim it, but anything even remotely questionable I throw away unread.)

But this year Melissa hit.

What's especially stupid is I haven't even seen an instance of the Melissa virus, but it has been so heavily played up that everyone is sensitized to it. So first, we started getting all of the "legitimate" warnings.

Then the veeps got wind of the impending "catastrophe", and suddenly my mailbox filled up, with veeps demanding information, well-meaning folks copying warnings around the whole company, irritated individuals replying to the warnings without deleting all of the CCs, twits replying to them, etc.

In short, the mail server crashed three times on Thursday. Each time followed by a flood of "was that Melissa?" messages. Damn. And we are vulnerable, because we do use Outlook, but we've been taking preventative steps since Melissa was first found. Which in itself is a nightmare. Over the two days, Wednesday to Thursday, we received three updates to the virus scanning software we use. Each update requires everyone to log out and back in, so there are more emails and more confusion.

I worked late into Thursday night and most of Friday, while the rest of the company was taking a holiday.

I may be concerned about my relationship with Brian, but I have to say this: there is nothing better than returning a loving embrace after a couple of days like that. Already I'm having a hard time imagining what I would be without it. I was seriously considering asking him to stay home for a few days, to get some perspective, but right now I just want to be held.

I did talk to Brian about not reading the current entries in my journal. In fact, he's had thoughts along similar lines. He finds it troubling, he says, to read my thinking about him. It's a one-way communication that he doesn't have any way to respond to. When we talk, when we make love, we share. When he reads my private thoughts, he doesn't feel that he can share, that there's part of me that's cut off from him. If he were a stranger, he says, that would be okay, but to be so close and so far is hard to take.

So I reassured him that I hadn't said anything negative, and promised him that if I did have a problem with him, I'd tell him directly. I also told him that if he wanted to read the earlier journal entries, he was welcome, but that he should leave April until at least May or June.

We're planning to go to church tomorrow. Not that either of us is a regular attender, but Easter Sunday is usually a good experience. And a chance to be pretty rather than any of the more salacious words associated with dressing attractively. So this morning I bought a short summer outfit for the occasion. Not scandalous, not inappropriate for church, but sufficiently low cut (and short, as I said) that I thought it looked quite seductive. Of course, I was trying on this cute summer dress while thunder rolled and rain poured outdoors, but if the weather is bad again tomorrow, I have a coat that will complement the outfit nicely.

I'm looking forward to Brian and me being the best-looking couple at the service, and at least in our eyes, I know we will be :-)


The service was wonderful, as much as I remember.

I didn't need my coat; though the day started cool, it was clear, and became a beautiful spring day.

We were definitely the best looking couple at church, in my biased opinion. Brian looks good in a suit. He held my hand politely through the introductions and into the service.

Throughout the service, though, he couldn't keep his eyes off me, especially, from the angle of view he had, from the neckline of my dress. I could sense him watching me, and it turned me on. His arm was over my shoulder during the sermon, and I could tell from the pressure of his fingers on my arm, and later on my waist, that his thoughts were focused on me, not on the preacher. I kept feeling like I wanted to take him home and make love to him right now.

It didn't help that halfway through the sermon he leaned close and whispered to me "You look really hot today." Especially because I know he didn't mean anything about physical warmth. I was trying to listen to the preacher, but all I could think about was Brian's lips on my breasts, Brian inside me. I was just sitting there, getting turned on and wet...

I hurried Brian out after the service.

"Is there a problem?" he asked.

"Damn right there is," I said. "Take me home before I attack you right here."

We started kissing as soon as we got through the door at home. "I want you," I was saying as we started to undress each other. "I want you, I want you."

We didn't make it to the bedroom. We didn't even make it all the way undressed. He was still trying to get my dress over my head while I was sliding myself onto him.

He held me afterwards, on the living room floor, surrounded by an untidy heap of clothing. "What brought that on?" he asked.

"Telepathy," I said.

Brian looked puzzled.

"Look at me," I said, "and tell me honestly that you didn't spend the whole service thinking about making love."

He stroked my breast. "Perhaps not the whole service," he replied, "but most of it. You looked so... sexy in that outfit that I could have eaten you up right there."

"I don't think it's that kind of church," I said, and he grinned. "I was sitting there getting so horny I thought I'd be radiating my desire like a lighthouse."

"You know," he said, "you could have sat there in your new negligée, and I don't think it would have turned me on as much as the freshness of that summer dress. Do you know how lovely you are?"

I was going to make a wisecrack about getting thrown out of church in my negligee, but he was serious. "Yes, Brian, I think I do. I see it in your eyes."

Our tongues found each other, and soon our bodies did the same, but with tenderness and a sense of belonging. We fit.

We uncrumpled our clothes as best we could, and I straightened my hair. Brian was taking us to an Easter Sunday brunch, and though it was not as exciting as what had gone before, I enjoy just being with him. We touch a lot, and I still get a little thrill every time his hand brushes mine.

We went to the park after lunch. It was crowded with so many people having the same idea, but it was a perfect way to spend such a lovely spring day.

Returned home to a message from Clarice, who wanted me to go for a drink with her this evening, and from my mother, who wanted to wish me a happy Easter. I returned my mother's call, talking to her for about a half hour. She wanted to know about "my new boyfriend", so I told her a little, and let her speak to Brian directly. Him, she grilled about where he lived, trying to get him to admit he was sleeping with me, but Brian was very diplomatic. God, if she could read this :-)

Then I returned Clarice's call. Chris is history. She made him beg for forgiveness, then when he seemed at his most desperate, she dumped him.

"I'll miss him," she said. "You know, he could..." She paused. "Yeah, you probably do. So, are you going to take me out and get me drunk? You owe me one."

"I guess I do. Not tonight, though, Clarice, I have plans."

"Plans involving your Mr. Right?" I don't know how sarcastic she was being. I could tell that there was some pain in her voice.

"Is it that obvious?" I asked.

"Girl, it just glows in you. I'm sure I'm about to lose my last single friend. But if he's your excuse for tonight, why not ask him if he'd like a threesome? I think he could handle both of us."

"Clarice, you're terrible. I'm not going to ask him that, he might say yes."

"Well, give him the phone and let me ask him."

"Goodbye Clarice." I could hear her laughing as I hung up the phone.

Brian knew the conversation had been about him. He wanted to know what we had said.

"I told her I was busy this evening, that's all. I'm not letting you away from me for the rest of the day."

"What might I say yes to?"

"Oh, God. She thought she might come over and help me with you."

"Was she serious?" He seemed incredulous.

"I don't know. She's Clarice. She called you my Mr. Right, then offered to share you. Do you think she's serious?"

"I don't know, but I wouldn't try to find out. Don't worry, I wouldn't have said yes."

"I know you wouldn't, Brian."

"You know, I hope you know, the thing for me about us isn't about sex. That's like, a very wonderful part, but it's only a part. You are more to me than anything we do, and I wouldn't allow Clarice or anyone else to take that away."

"That's very sweet, Brian."

"It's true. It's the other question that may be the important one."

"Which is?" I asked.

"Am I your Mr. Right?"

And that, folks, is the question that scares me so much I've been running from it since we started dating.

"God, Brian, I don't know. We haven't been dating a month yet. It isn't fair for either of us to ask that. I love you."

Brian nodded, and held out his arms for me. "I love you too, Helen."

"Now tell me again," I said, when I was firmly in his embrace, "just how unimportant sex is?"


More "Melissa" fallout. This sucks. And it's still nothing, just that every problem is being blamed on it. And all the visits from the veeps and pointy-haired bosses "Should I open this email"? Can you imagine, using your IT people as filters for every piece of email you get?

Jack has had enough. I stayed out of his way today, his rudeness didn't discriminate. Then, to top it all, Marketing just "discovered" the Outlook scheduling features, and now we all have to run Outlook to set up meetings, in the middle of everyone being paranoid about using the software.

It will pass.

Oh, and then Brian came by to tell me he had to go out of town. He'll be leaving for San Diego early on Wednesday morning. He was very apologetic. As though either of us had any choice in the matter. More than apologetic, actually, he's really upset about leaving me for so long; he expects to be gone for a week or more. So I took him to lunch, held his hand, and whispered lewd suggestions to him while he tried to eat.

I'm torn. I'd like to use the time away from him to think. God knows I need it. So why do I keep trying to find cheap flights on the web for this weekend?


Things finally calming down at the office. Jack is becoming tolerable again, the phone is not ringing all day long, I'm catching up with email and getting some useful work done. The weather is beautiful, cool mornings, sunny afternoons. My fat squirrel sits on the feeder most of the day, waiting for me to go top up the sunflower seeds. A couple of male cardinals have staked claim to the same territory in my backyard, occasionally chasing each other around in a flurry of scarlet, or perching like miniature Santa Clauses at opposite ends of the garden, singing their bitingly sweet songs.

And Brian leaves today.

I'm going to take him to the airport, if anyone begrudges me a couple of hours of personal time, after the way I've been working here lately, then to hell with them. Jack has already said okay.

He won't say it, but I think he's nervous about leaving me alone, and he has good reason. Sometimes trust isn't quite enough when experience says otherwise. After this trip, I think he'll be a little more certain of me.

Last night he was especially cuddly :-)

Clarice called yesterday morning. I'm going to see her tonight. And this time, I'm driving...


Put Brian on the plane yesterday afternoon. I was fine back at work, it wasn't until I got to the bar with Clarice that I really felt lonely. Like, she was fun enough, but it wasn't her I was supposed to be with. I kept looking at her like "what are we doing here?"

I had a good time with her, though. I love her outlook. She's so refreshing to be around.

I guess I felt pretty strange at first. Here she was, friendly and open, and I'd just cost her her boyfriend. Someone who seemed to have meant quite a lot to her at one time. I said as much.

She shrugged. "What do I care? He lied to me, Helen. You know what I can take. That isn't anything I want to be around."

"You're not going to give him another chance?"

"I've wondered about it. He called a couple of times, but hell, no, I was feeling trapped."

"Yeah, I was thinking it was lasting a long time. For you."

She grinned. "You always did give me a hard time about that. But we're both free now, why don't we find something or someone to occupy us?"

"You're free," I said. "I don't think I'll be free for a while."


"What do you mean, bullshit? I'm not."

"I mean bullshit saying 'for a while'. I know you're not free, I was kidding. Bullshit is you still trying to pass this off as a temporary phase."

"Oh, God, I don't know, Clarice. Isn't it temporary? Maybe longer than usual, but I'm not thinking about marrying him."

"Helen, don't you think you've known me long enough not to lie to me?"

I hid my head. "Oh, shit, Clarice, is it that obvious?"

"You've got it bad, girl."

"I'm not going to marry him, Clarice. He's half my age."

She burst out laughing. "He's what, five years younger than you?"

"Four," I said automatically.

"I know you have a thing for older men, Helen, but I don't think that counts anymore. Shit, are you crying?"

She can be so sympathetic.

"Here." She handed me a tissue, and I dried my eyes.

"I'm not upset, I'm just confused," I said.

"And angry with yourself about it, I'd guess," she said.

She was right. The tears were more from frustration than anything else. "You're playing psychologist this evening?"

"No, I'm playing the friend who has had enough to drink not to keep her mouth shut. Listen, I have a suggestion."

I looked at her expectantly.

"Give him to me for a night. I can return him five years older, guaranteed."

She said it completely deadpan, and it took me a moment to see the humor, then we both cracked up.

"No way in hell are you getting anywhere near him," I retorted. "I'm building an electric fence round our house."

She crowed. "Yay! I knew it," she said, waving her finger at me. People at the nearby tables looked around. "You said 'our house'!"

I hid my head again. "Oh, shit, I did, didn't I? That's twice I've done that, now. Maybe more, but twice I've been called on it."

"I get to be maid of honor," she sang.

I grinned at her. "I don't think you qualify as either a maid or having any honor, not the way you're trying to embarrass me."

"Trying? Girl, I am succeeding!"

Sometimes I love Clarice so much I could strangle her dainty neck.

"So, what are you going to do while he's gone?" she asked.

"File taxes. Mope, probably. I haven't moped in years."

"Tell you what, I'll bring a few bottles of wine over Saturday and we'll mope together."


Well, I guess a couple of days slipped by there without my uploading Thursday's entry. I have an excuse.

I was doing my taxes.

Every year, I decide I'll have all the paperwork together by early January, then something goes wrong (meaning: I procrastinate) and I don't do it.

In a way, it's good that Brian isn't here to distract me. (Well, it isn't good, because his distractions can be pretty special, but at least I can concentrate on the paperwork.) In another, of course, it's particularly hateful that he's away, because doing taxes has to be the most depressing, soul-destroying work I ever do, and I need him here to lift my spirits.

So I was thoroughly depressed on Thursday evening. But I did finish.

Friday I was still feeling down. There's no sense of accomplishment when you find that you did all that work and still owe about two thousand dollars. At least I didn't pay cash for the hot tub.

Ah, nuts, I can still afford it. I just have to be careful how I live for the next few weeks.

Then, on Friday morning, I got great news. No, Brian wasn't coming home for the weekend - but my brother was! He works in the Valley, and he has a meeting here on Monday, so he figured he'd come out early and spend a few days with little sister. Adoring little sister, I have to add, he has always been my favorite member of the family.

"Wow, Rob, that's great! Where will you be staying?"

"Well, I was hoping that you'd have a spare bed, or a couch, even. If I go stay in a hotel, I won't be able to spend as much time with you. Unless there's a man in your life and I'd be getting in your way."

"Actually, there is... but he's out in your state for the next week or so. I can't manage Pam and the kids, though, I only have the one extra bed."

"Ah. Well, you see, that's why I thought I'd come out early. There isn't much here for me this weekend."

My heart sank. "Oh, Rob. Not you and Pam?"

I could hear the hurt in his voice. "Yeah, me and Pam. I haven't said anything, because I hoped we could put things back together, but she's started seeing someone. I'm afraid the fat lady sang."

No, that wasn't a reference to Pam, by the way, who is one of those rail-thin California girls; a small-breasted blonde, gorgeous, but cold. I never warmed to her, anyway, though I know Rob loved her. God, he must be hurting.

"I'm so sorry, Rob. Get yourself out here and I'll get you drunk."

"Helen, you always say the nicest things. I'll be arriving at nine, do you want to pick me up, or shall I get a car? I'll need one Monday, but we could travel together until then."

"I'll get you, and we'll go right home and say hi to Mr. Jack Daniels."

"I love you, Helen. Whoever this guy is, he doesn't deserve you."

"His name's Brian, and you know, I think he just might. Love you too, Rob."

Of course, that lifted my spirits, even when I had to write the check and drop my tax return in the mail.

I didn't get any Jack, actually, I think I have some around here somewhere, but Rob's a beer drinker, so I got plenty of imported beer at lunchtime, and cleared around the fridge to make room when I got home.

His flight was a few minutes early, and I pretty much threw myself on him when I saw him walking through the terminal. It's funny, but I felt more self-conscious hugging Brian when he left than Rob when he arrived. But then, I guess, I don't kiss Rob in quite the same way...

He hadn't eaten, so we stopped on the way home, then, as I expected, we stayed up until about four drinking beer, getting pleasantly but not heavily drunk, and reminiscing.

I was right about his pain, I could feel it across the room. Poor Rob. I knew this would happen. At least, I expected it. I think Rob was probably the only one surprised.

No, that isn't fair. Rob's a realist, he probably knew the score. He was in love, and that helped him to live with the problems, I guess. And there are the children. He'd have tried to keep the family together even after he knew it was hopeless. Eric is seven, Rachel is four. Wonderful kids.

I didn't wake up until almost ten today. My head hurt, but it felt more like lack of caffeine than too much alcohol. A shower, a coffee, and the legal limit of Ibuprofen seemed to clear me up just fine. I woke Rob up when I had the coffee brewed. Of course, he has an extra two hours of jet lag to recover from.

A beer at lunch helped our heads, too.

It was a beautiful day. This is that short time between too cold, windy and changeable, and far too hot (and windy and changeable :-) when it's actually possible to leave the windows open at night and sit outside at lunch. So we did.

I asked him what his meeting was about, not that I expected to understand. Brian might. Probably would, in fact, but when it gets to talk of silicon it has hit a different part of the business than my software experience can handle. So I was surprised: I did understand.

"I'm thinking about transferring. There's a start-up facility here that is looking for people, and my boss gave me the okay to talk to them."

"Oh, Rob." I knew what that meant, and probably why he wanted to do it. It would be cutting the last thread of possibility that he and Pam could ever be reconciled. I held his hand.

"I told you last night, Helen, it's over. I didn't want to admit it, but it's true."

I moved to the other side of the table so that I could hug him, and we both cried a little.

I called Brian after we got home. I was fortunate to find him at his hotel, because he had only stopped in to pick up some things. We only talked for a few minutes, but somehow we said a lot. He was disappointed that he wouldn't meet Rob, but then, of course, if the transfer goes through, perhaps he will.


Oh, God. Did you see it coming? I didn't. Perhaps if I would read this diary instead of only write in it, I'd have a better handle on things.

I was cooking dinner, chicken and pasta, my easy stand-by favorite which everyone loves, when the doorbell rang. I asked Rob to get it.

I heard the door open, then a moment later, Rob shouted: "It's a friend of yours who owns a liquor store."

That made no sense to me, but then Clarice walked into the kitchen, with armloads of bottles of wine. She dumped them on the counter, and looked at me in puzzlement. "I guess I was wrong about you, Helen. Should I come back another time? I don't want to intrude."

I realized why she was so puzzled. I turned down the heat under the chicken and put my arm around Rob, who had followed her in. Whispering loud enough for her to hear, I said to Rob, "She thinks I'm being unfaithful to my boyfriend." Then to Clarice: "No, this is not a new man in my life. I've been in love with this one since well before Brian."

She still looked puzzled, and I said, "Han, he's my brother." Rob chuckled, he understood the reference, though I don't think Clarice did. She did grin, though, when she realized that I hadn't found me a lover. As if I would.

"You should have called, Helen, I wouldn't have come."

"To be honest, with Rob here, I forgot you were coming over. Now you're here, there's plenty of food for three, especially if we add a few extra calories from the Chianti."

"Now you're talking, girl," she said. "So, you're Rob?" she held out her hand. "I'm Clarice, Helen's friend, most of the time."

He took her hand. "Most of the time you're Clarice, or most of the time you're her friend?" She grinned. He was holding her hand far too long, and all three of us knew it. Finally, he lifted it to his lips and kissed it. "Charmed," he said.

I began to realize what a huge can of worms I had just opened.

I got back to my cooking, and we soon sat down to eat. We did put away quite a lot of Clarice's wine. When we were through, Rob sat beside her on the sofa, so I took the chair. Now, don't get me wrong, I didn't feel like the outsider at my own party, we all had a great evening, but it was soon very obvious that there was an energy between the two of them which was highly exclusive. When they caught each other's glance, it was like they were making love... no, that's too ambiguous, it was like they were having sex with their eyes. I wish I could put in words what I was seeing between them, it would be great in a story.

They started touching, tentatively at first, then leaving their hands connected, then his arm around her back... it was very strange, being in their presence while this was going on. I've certainly been around a couple who found they had the hots for each other, and been excluded, but this was different. Because I love them both so much, and they both love me, and because there has never been any sexual tension between either of them and me (well, I've mentioned my occasional fantasies about Clarice that I know I'll never follow through) they didn't exclude me. I was an integral part of their closeness, the conduit between them, in a way.

But they did have the hots for each other. No question about that.

When Clarice said, "I guess I'd better go home," Rob said, "You can't drive like this."

"I'll get a taxi," she replied.

He looked at her, obviously unsure what to say.

"My turn, folks," I interrupted. "There's something I have to say." I took a deep breath. "I love you both, you know that, and I don't ever want to see either of you hurt again, so I really can't just sit quietly by, and please don't interrupt me. Rob, Clarice's relationships are measured in hours, not days, and Clarice, Rob's married." I held up my hand to keep silence. "Now, if the two of you can live with that, you're both adults, and you don't have to spoil your evening just because you think you might upset me."

"What are you saying, Helen?" asked Rob.

"I'm saying... I'm saying that's a queen-sized bed in the spare room, but I hope you both know what you're getting into here."

"Oh, God," said Clarice. "I guess you do know me." She looked hard at Rob. "You're married?"

He held up his left hand, complete with wedding band. He hadn't been trying to hide it. "Separated. Permanently."

Clarice pressed herself more firmly into his embrace. "Well, what she said about me is true, too. If you're not looking for a replacement, I sure wouldn't mind... not to hurry home."

He kissed her, and for the first time in the evening, I was definitely excluded. "I think I'd better turn in," I said.

Rob pried his lips away from Clarice. "Not yet, Helen, you don't need to go. We have time, now, we're not about to jump each other right here."

"We're not?" grumbled Clarice, her voice muffled by his neck. Then she sighed and leaned on his shoulder. "No, he's right. This is a nice thing for you to do for us, and I don't want to push you out. Why don't we get some coffee and let anything else take its course."

I went to brew coffee. When I returned, there wasn't much doubt about what course things would take, that kiss pretty much didn't leave them any options, but they did break while we talked a little of Rob and his marriage problems. When I did go to bed, I had no doubts that they knew what they were doing. And none about what they were going to be doing.

If I had, they wouldn't have lasted long. My bedsprings are fairly quiet. The spare bed isn't. That's why it's the spare. And the spare room is next door to mine, and this is a track house, with paper-thin walls. It was about a half-hour after I went to bed that I heard their voices in the hallway, and only a few minutes later that I heard the bed sagging under their weight.

I was drifting off to sleep when there was a knock on the door. Clarice stood there with a towel wrapped around her. "Uhh... Helen, we just discovered... neither of us is prepared."

I grinned at her, opened my nightstand and threw her an unopened box of condoms. My sole supply, in fact, I guess I need to get to the grocery before Brian returns. She was leaving the room with them when she turned, ran back to me and gave me a big hug and a quick kiss on the cheek. "Thanks, Helen. I like this guy."

"So do I, Clarice," I said. "Try not to hurt him too badly."

She left, and I heard her weight added to the bed.

A long time passed before a slow, regular creaking started. I had tried to go back to sleep, but helping Clarice had woken me, and hearing them made me realize how much I was missing Brian.

When Clarice started moaning, the sound aroused me. All possibility of sleep was over then, and I called Brian. I told him what was going on next door. Listening to his voice, I imagined the cries and creaks being him and me, and I realized that with just a little effort, I could push myself over the edge... so I did, keeping as quiet as possible, trying not to let him hear the quavering in my voice as I came.

Clarice was still moaning. God, how long can they keep this up, I wondered, and the creaking was getting more insistent. Then she screamed. Actually screamed, and I got worried. "Hold on, Brian, there's something wrong," I said, but then heir scream turned into a wail, and I heard Rob's deep voice as he cried out in passion, and they both subsided to more normal gasping.

"Never mind," I said to Brian, "I think she just got a little carried away."

"God," he said, "I heard that. How come I can't get you so excited?"

"Oh, you do, Brian, believe me. Clarice is just a little more uninhibited about showing it, I guess."

When I finally hung up the phone, Clarice was starting to moan again. No bedspring creaking this time; at least, no regular creaking, irregular noises as they moved, but I figure he was pleasuring her orally. Certainly she didn't scream, but it sounded like he kept her at her peak for a long time.

Imagine, my brother knowing things like that. The guy who used to try to hit on my friends, and then not know what to do. But then, I'm sure he'd be amazed what his kid sister has learned, too.

I don't know how much sleep either of them got, because mine was constantly interrupted by yet another cry of pleasure or thump of the bed. I guess I could have counted the remaining condoms, but that would have been prying, and besides, I can't find them, I think Clarice took them. Probably to stop me doing exactly that!

Late morning, I brewed coffee, and took it into them. I knocked first, but there was no answer. In the bed, they were wrapped so tightly into each other, it looked like they might need a tire-iron to pry themselves apart. It was hard to tell which part belonged to which of them, except for Clarice's quite lovely breast pressed against him. Strange, Clarice's tops are slightly too tight on me, so I'd always assumed her breasts would look small. They're not small at all.

I pulled a sheet up over them before waking them with coffee. They kept their arms around each other as they woke; quite touching, really. They obviously had found a lot of happiness with each other. I know it won't last, but at the time, they both needed it, and I'm just glad that I could have helped it happen.

They looked so sweet wrapped up in each other. I kissed them both on the forehead as I left the room.

Clarice talked to me privately at breakfast. "I have a personal question."

"Sure," I replied.

"Rob's wife... is she flat-chested?"

"Pretty much," I answered. "Why?"

"Because he acted like he had never seen or felt anything like my boobs. Like he's in awe. They really turned him on."

"I can't imagine you're complaining."

"Shit, no. God, Helen, where did you find a brother like that?"

"Well, from what I've been told, I looked out of the crib, and there he was."

"Would you... would you care if I took him off your hands for the rest of his visit?"

"Yes, I would, a little," I said. "I haven't seen him in a long time, and I'd miss him, but as long as I can see him some during the evening, you can keep him all night."

"Good," she said. "Helen, I know you think I'm shallow, but I think I'm good for him. A few days with me may be just what he needs."

"Oh, God, Clarice, I don't think you're shallow. I'd never want you to think that. You're just different from me. Maybe, maybe, I'd say fickle, but that implies that people are expecting you to be constant, and you've never pretended to be anything other than you are. No, I'm very happy for both of you. I just hope that when he's gone, he isn't too hurt when you're not around."

"He's a big boy, Helen, and you made it quite plain what he was getting into. But you know, I don't think he'd have been willing if you hadn't given us your permission." She gave me a quick hug. "Thanks."

"You're welcome, Clarice."

"This wouldn't have happened if Chris had still been around, so I guess you can stop feeling guilty."

"Okay," I grinned.

"Oh, and, Helen... he is a big boy." She scurried out of the room.

We went out sightseeing. Clarice was pointing out all of the benefits of living here. As if she had an interest in his moving here. He and she will be history well before that would happen. I'd like to have him around, though.

They say three's a crowd, but our little threesome had a great time today. I just wish we were a four.

Anyway, this entry is too long, and I still haven't uploaded anything since Wednesday, so it's time to finish. I left Rob at Clarice's, and I won't get him back until tomorrow evening. He leaves Tuesday, and probably won't decide for another couple of weeks whether he will be moving here, if he has the chance.

Besides, I need to finish this now so that I can call Brian.


I'm putting our long-distance discount plan to the test this month. My discount plan, dammit, why do I keep slipping like that? I must have talked to Brian for well over an hour last night. More than I often do when he's here.

Of course, when he's here, there are other things to do than talk.

I told him a lot about Rob, and how concerned I am for him that his marriage has fallen apart. I've always felt that he deserved better than Pam, but I do hope I've never let that show. She always seemed cold and manipulative to me. Now that she has the kids, I'm afraid that they're going to grow up like her. She'll get custody, too, Rob doesn't want joint custody. She'd use it to turn them against him.

He thinks that she'll compromise on being fair about him if he doesn't contest sole custody. He may be right. It frees him up to move, too, if he decides to do it.

Anyway, I poured my heart out to Brian for over an hour, and pretty much his only comment was "I love you", which of course was exactly what I wanted to hear. He does wish he could be here to meet Rob, but hell, I just wish he was here, period. I miss him.

He commiserated over my taxes. Of course, prig that he is (in the nicest possible way, of course :-) he had his taxes filed by mid-February, and got a refund check already. "I hate you," I said, "but I'll forgive you if you do mine for me next year."

I felt so lonely last night. Brian's in California and Rob's in ecstasy, no doubt, but he isn't here. I almost wish he and Clarice had stayed in the squeaky bed. At least I knew he was close, and their passion warmed me, even if it did keep me awake.

Rob called this morning before his interview. Or conference, whatever they're calling it. Clarice called in sick, so she could ferry him around and save him the trouble of renting a car and finding his way about.

We're going to get together for dinner tonight. Clarice is paying.

Work is dragging. It isn't only knowing I can't flirt with Brian, I think Jack is going through a difficult time, and his depression is affecting all of us. He's trying very hard not to let it affect the way he treats us, but he gets short occasionally. He apologizes for it, which actually makes things worse, because we're used to him losing his temper, when it's justified, but this makes it obvious that he knows he's wrong.

I wish I could help him, because he is such a nice guy.

Maybe after Rob leaves, I should introduce him to Clarice :-)

No, with his high blood pressure and stress level, she'd probably kill him.

As you can tell, I'm feeling sorry for myself today...


Had a nice dinner with the lovebirds. Clarice took us to an expensive Japanese restaurant, with the twirling knives and table-fried scallops. It was wonderful.

It's funny to see them together. I guess growing up with Rob I really never saw the passionate side of him. When he was dating he wasn't around, of course we'd see the disappointments when relationships failed, but we didn't really see him with his girlfriends.

Then there was Pam, and much as I know he loved her, she was never a barrel of laughs.

Well, he's certainly having fun with Clarice. Demonstrative, I guess you could call her, and Rob's really lapping it up, the touching, the nuzzling, the joking. He's really happy, and it's great to see. I don't think I've seen him happy since he left home.

Of course, I'm worried. In a way, I wish this was all over and he was safely back in California, because the more he laughs now, the more he will cry later... but perhaps it's worthwhile even for a few bright days. It's almost ten years since he left home. Ten years since I've seen him laugh, and yesterday evening he was laughing like a child.

He has extended his stay. The opportunity here looks good, and they asked him to spend a couple of days extra. Since his boss has tentatively approved the transfer, he had to agree when Rob asked for the time. So he's going to be here through next weekend.

He still isn't sure whether he's going to make the move, though. I know he misses the kids, and he's torn between seeing them in a painful setting and not seeing them at all. Both would be equally hard on the kids, too. And when it comes to the move, I wish I could be sure that Clarice wasn't part of the equation.

Oh, and... I got so tied up with Rob's affairs (if you'll excuse the expression :-) that I haven't gotten to the most important news: Brian called this morning, he's coming back today! Apparently the customer is having production problems, and he's wasting time. The downside is that he will have to go back, perhaps next week or the week after, and he might be gone even longer :-( But that's a week or more away, and I'm not going to count my vultures before they hatch... anything could happen between now and then.

I called Clarice, she and Rob are going to head to the airport with me. Of course, Rob doesn't know that yet, but he has no choice in the matter. For that matter, I don't think Rob has had much choice in anything since he met Clarice.

It's strange, but I feel a little nervous. This is the man in my life, and as Clarice pointed out the other day, if I'm honest with myself, I'm at least imagining that he's going to be the man in my life for... for a very long time. Perhaps longer. But I love Rob, and trust him, and if he doesn't approve... I'm sure he will, and it isn't like I need his approval, but I really would like it.


Of course, I insisted we were at the airport well before Brian arrived. Hurrying Clarice can be a difficult proposition, but Rob helped keep things moving, and we were parked up and in the terminal by seven. Still another half-hour until he was supposed to be there... and it dragged...

And then, there he was. I calmly took his briefcase and bag, and set them on a chair, then I set about the business of welcoming him home. Damn, he tasted so good... after what seemed like several minutes, I heard a voice behind me.


And of course, there was Rob, watching incredulously, and Clarice grinning at us. "Told you," she said to him - she refused to say precisely what they had been talking about, but I think I can imagine.

So, still hugging a happy, shell-shocked Brian, I introduced them. They shook hands politely, then Rob donned a stern face.

"So, this is they guy who's taking advantage of my kid sister? Hmmm... you know what I think about sex outside of marriage..." he sucked in a breath, pretending to be disapproving. Then Clarice swatted him on the butt. Hard. He coughed. "Well, she knows, anyway," he said, grinning.

"Who said anything about sex, anyway?" I asked, trying to look demure, while Brian was turning pink. "We're just good friends."

Clarice chortled, and Rob said, "If that's true, not-so-little sister, either your good friend has some serious personal problems, or he's not as smart as he looks."

"If I'd known you were all going to stand around and discuss my sex life," said Brian, "I think I'd have stayed on the plane. Or in San Diego."

Clarice's turn to be abusive. She leaned forwards and ran the back of her forefinger down Brian's chest. "Tell you what. If you don't like to talk about your sex life in public, I'd love to take you away for a private conversation."

Rob and I dragged our respective partners apart. Clarice pouted, then giggled, and Brian looked relieved. I nuzzled his neck. "Welcome back to the crazies," I said. "Did you miss us?" He smiled at me, and I felt the butterflies.

I'm so used to Rob towering over me - I'm only average height, but he's six-three - that I didn't realize he'd also tower over Brian, who's five-ten, but seems tall to me. Of course, I'm the shortest of our group, since Clarice is over an inch taller than me.

We picked up Brian's bag from the carousel, and headed out to my car. "Why don't I drive," offered Clarice, "and you can sit and snuggle in the back with Brian."

"No, that's okay, I'm sure we'll be able to find plenty of time later for snuggling," I said.

"Well, then, Rob can sit up front and I'll sit in the back and snuggle with Brian."

"Clarice, you're terrible," I said as she giggled.

So Brian sat up front with me. But what we should have done is have Clarice sit up front with me, so we could ignore Brian and Rob, who had finally realized their common passion. I knew it would happen.

For the whole drive to the restaurant, they were talking about clock speeds and phases, substrates, fabrication and layer thicknesses. If I have all the names right. In short, silicon. Clarice and I attempted to talk over them, but it was no use.

She put her foot down at the restaurant, and told Rob that he'd be sleeping on the couch if she heard him say anything more about complementary this or wafer that. He held up his hands in resignation, and offered to continue the discussion at lunch sometime.

So we got to talk about movies, even there they had something in common: they've both seen "The Matrix"; Brian went by himself in San Diego, the jerk! Neither of us girls had seen it, and they kept talking, giving away plot points... I put my hands over my ears, closed my eyes and started humming. That stopped them.

"Well, there's two conversation topics down," said Rob. "What else can we talk about?"

"Do you want me to suggest something?" asked Clarice, and all three of us said "No!" which started us all laughing.

We were at a good steakhouse, and there was a lot of food. I whispered to Brian, "Don't eat too much, I don't want you falling asleep."

"I thought maybe I'd need to keep my energy reserves high," he whispered back, and I agreed he might just need to do that.

When I dropped Rob and Clarice at her house, it was the first time I had not regretted parting from them. And I guess I still regretted it a little, but I didn't regret having Brian to myself. "You know," I said as we drove away, "when I was a teenager, Rob was always hitting on my friends. I think this is the first time he's ever succeeded."

"But did he really hit on Clarice, or was it the other way around?" asked Brian.

"As far as I could tell, they were both smoking," I said. "I don't think either of them needed much in the way of persuasion."

In my room, I frustrated him by holding him too close, kissing him while he was trying to undress me. I could feel him getting hard against me. Finally I relented... I love the way he gets so turned on when he unclips my bra. That always requires an extra deep kiss.

I had a surprise in mind for him. Something I had been thinking about for a couple of nights. I wished I could just spring it on him, but it was a decision he needed to be involved in. I finally had figured out a way to make the surprise work while still getting his permission.

He was kissing my breasts, working on slipping off my jeans when I asked him. "Brian, stop a minute, I have a question for you." I held his hands as he stood. "What would you say if I told you I'd like to go on the pill? And we wouldn't have to take any other precautions?"

"I'd say you're getting me very excited, and I'd say that I would be privileged. You know my history. I'm clean."

"I am too. I'd love to feel you, without anything between us."

"God, Helen, that would be wonderful."

I moved his hands to my breasts, and slipped the rest of my clothes off, then wrapped my arms around his neck. As I felt his fingers slip between my legs I squeezed his tongue in my teeth. By the time he pushed me back onto the bed, I was wet. He surprised me by burying his head between my thighs, and soon he had me so desperate to come that my head was pounding. (Have I mentioned that we have been practicing? :-)

I can't remember ever doing anything more difficult than pushing him away. My entire being was balanced on a knife edge as I lifted his face from me. He was puzzled. "Not yet," I gasped, "that's wonderful, but not yet."

I indicated for him to join me, and I pressed him back onto the bed. I stroked his sticky shaft, then tickled it with my tongue. Then I lifted myself onto him, brushing myself with his cock. My body was still tingling, not having backed off far from climax, and the feeling threatened to push me over.

"Can I tell you a secret, Brian?" As he frowned at me, I levered myself onto him. "I already am."

His eyes opened wide as he slipped easily into me. I lowered myself along him, my mouth seeking his, my taste still on his lips, the feel of nothing but his lubricated skin sliding against me. His presence filled me, and I came. And kept coming, that glorious sensation of him deep within. After a time, my mind began to drift; I had to will myself to keep moving for Brian's sake. We moved slowly, triggering new shudders from me every few strokes.

Then he lifted me, to get his mouth around my left boob; as he thrust hard into me, I yelped as my arousal became unbearable, tightening myself around him, forcing him to come. He stopped moving and groaned, then I felt him explode within me, hot fluid filling me, and I came again, overwhelmed by the unfamiliar sensation. We gasped together as our love found a new expression, slowly, but slowly, letting ourselves relax.

Even then it was not over; since we didn't have to hurry to rescue a condom, he stayed inside me up to the point he no longer could, pressing me into more soft, lovely climaxes.

I stayed atop him, aware that we were making a mess of the sheets, but not caring, glorying in staying together. "I love you, Brian," I said, squeezing my face against his shoulder.

"I love you, too, Helen," he said, stroking my hair.

"How long have you..." he said, a little later.

"A couple of years. Condoms aren't always a hundred percent; this was my backup. I've never told anyone. I figured if someone knows, it could be harder to resist skipping a condom. You'd never pressure me that way, but for you it kept a nice surprise."

"It was truly that, Helen. I'm flattered, and a little overwhelmed."

I slid off him. "I figured we'd get here eventually," I said. "Knowing that you have someone special isn't the only benefit of monogamy." I pulled the sheet up over us. "But then, having someone special is even better than what we just did. I'm just greedy, I want both."

"So do I, my love," he replied, and we snuggled each other to sleep.

This morning we re-tested our new-found freedom, making ourselves late. Brian wasn't expected in early after his trip. I expected to have to apologize to Jack, but he was even later, and looked terrible. I hope he's going to be okay.


If we keep eating out, I'm going to get fat. Brian says as long as I just put on weight right there, he'll be happy. I told him I don't really have the option, and as much exercise as he gives them, they're going to be shrinking soon anyway.

He offered to stop, but I don't believe him :-)

Still, it's only while Rob is in town. I think I'll be okay for these few days, and Brian can help me burn off a few calories this weekend.

Rob thinks he's going to take the job here. Getting involved in the early stages of a project is apparently something he hasn't really done before, and the management group here have offered him quite a good position. He'd get a raise - not huge, but then there would be no state income tax and a much lower cost-of-living - and would be a project lead. Career-wise, it will be hard to say no.

He's going to stay through the weekend, leave Sunday, and talk it over with Pam next week. I imagine she'll be glad to have him out of her life. So I guess he'll be gone to California for as long as the preparations take, then he'll be back here full time. That will be great for me. I think Brian will like it too, they have been getting on really well. I think Brian helps Rob to realize that I have finally grown up. Much as I like him around, I think he has always felt that he needs to protect me. I don't know whether he has figured out that I don't need protection, or whether he thinks it's now someone else's job, but he does know that I don't expect it of him.

I just wish Rob's kids could be out here with him.

I have been leaving the windows open every night. The weather has been so pleasant during the evening, and just warm enough during the day that I almost need the airconditioning on; opening the windows has been a good compromise.

A norther blew through last night, and the open windows set up some creaking and banging in the house, which woke me for a moment, but wasn't bad. This morning, though, the bedroom was cold, and Brian and I woke up hugging for warmth. He brewed us coffee, and I needed some warming up when he got back. I could have closed the window, but the morning smell was so lovely.

"Hey," I said to him, "last night was really nice."

He was confused. "We didn't do anything last night."

"I know," I said, "that's why it was special. Knowing that I can be with you and we don't need anything else. Do you know what I mean?"

"Are you trying to make me feel okay about being too tired?"

"No, you idiot, it's always okay if you can't. Or if you don't want to." I snuggled up to him to prove the point. "I'm just saying that being together is all we really need."

"I know what you're saying, Helen." He smiled at me. Have I ever mentioned that he has the world's sexiest smile?

"So, how tired are you this morning?" I asked, nibbling his ear.

At least today we made it to work on time.