Monday, February 22, 2016

Promises in the dark...

She was incredibly shy.

The sort of woman who never made eye contact. When he spoke with her she always looked slightly to the side or to the ground.

She was the type of woman who covered her mouth when she laughed. And she never laughed too loudly.

As if her happiness was something to be kept under wraps.

She never held his hand in public. She would walk beside him.

Quiet and content. But she was never one to show her affections to others.

They always made love in the dark. The curtains drawn. The lights all out.

And in the dark she became another woman.




Her hands seeking out his body. Her mouth following. Touching him everywhere. Loving him in every way. Covering him with her body. Leaving him dizzy with her need.

He believed that that darkness freed to her to be someone else. Someone who loved to be seen. To be touched. To be adored. The darkness gave her that. Freedom.

What he never knew was that she wouldn't pretend to be someone else in the dark.

She would pretend that he was.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Promises Made (Part 8)...

"Oh my god, Greg, you are such an asshole."

"I know. Look, I know, I just..."

"You just couldn't help it? You just wanted to make sure? You just what? Dude, you're an asshole. There is no other way to put it. Now get your shit and get out. And don't ever fucking text me again."

Looking back maybe telling Janice that he couldn't see her anymore should have happened before they had sex, but Helena was out of town, and Janice was all over him as soon as he got to her apartment. Okay, he probably could have handled it better. Maybe by phone or even text. But that seemed really cold. They had been hooking up for the past year. But that's all it was, he really didn't think she would take it so personally.

Okay, yeah, he was an asshole. But at least it was done and Helena never needed to know about it. And Janice was right, deleting her number was a good idea. And Ruth's. And Gloria's. He should probably just go through his contact list and do a lot of deleting actually. Because Janice was right about one thing, okay two things if you count the asshole part, he was making sure in his own way. He really needed to see if things with Helena really were that much better than with anyone else. And it was. It was like night and day. Janice was lovely and they had always had a lot of fun, but Helena was so much more than that. The way he felt when he and Helena made love, well, that was it right? He and Janice had had a lot of sex. A lot. But when it was Helena, it was more than that. There was a physical connection that couldn't be beat, for sure, but there was more. It was like their hearts were tied together as well. It was deeper.

And now he knew it was better. It wasn't just his imagination, it was really good. It was all good.


His cab pulled up in front of Helena's building. She was back in town and he couldn't wait to see her. He felt like a new man. A one woman man from here on out. A man who had the world on a string. A man who was...

The laughter made him pause.

Edward Newsome was sitting up staring at him. And not just staring but laughing at him. It was unnerving. The laughter itself, which was bordering on maniacal. And the way he was looking at Greg. And now pointing at him. One hand over his heart and one hand pointing at Greg. Laughing.

"What are you laughing at?"

With one last burst of laughter Edward's eyes rolled back and he slumped against the wall. Greg started to walk over to him to make sure he was okay when Edward started singing. This time it was Katy Perry. Well at least his musical tastes were jumping decades. It was still unsettling but at least it was more normal, or at least as normal as Edward got. Greg made his way in to the building while Edward kept singing.

"Good evening, Greg. I will call up and let her know you are here."

"Thank you, Charles, I mean Terry. And ummm, I think something might be going on with our friend Edward out there. He's acting even weirder than normal."

Terry raised his eyebrows at Greg, showing concern for Edward's well being wasn't something he expected from this one. "I'll check on him and call his sister to come bring him home."

Terry spoke on the phone for a moment then turned back to Greg, "Go on up. She's waiting for you."

As Greg got on the elevator he heard Terry open the front door and then heard Edward's voice ring out clearly, "...there's no going back..." Greg pressed the door close button and tried to ignore the noise.

The elevator opened on Helena's apartment and the first thing Greg saw was the giant painting of Cupid from the Angels and Demons exhibit. It was now hanging on Helena's foyer wall like it had always been there. He stood and stared at it for a moment. It really was an impressive look. Strong, solid, holding his bow. He didn't look like a sweet little cherub, he looked like a warrior with wings.

"All is fair in love and war." Helena spoke in to his ear.

Greg startled, he had been so absorbed in the painting he hadn't noticed Helena come stand next to him. "What?"

"All is fair in love and war. That's what I think when I see this painting. People use that expression wrong, you know. It was first used to describe Cupid. See, he is love and war. The child of love and war. And he contained all of that inside himself. Love and war are closely tied. The passions that drive both. Cupid cause a lot of damage for many years because he mixed the two so often. It was Psyche who tempered him. Even after Jupiter gave her the ambrosia to make her immortal she still had her human side. Her humanity calmed Cupid and made him realize how fragile the lives he was dealing with really were. Their love story became a love story for all humanity. Because without Psyche, Cupid would have continued raging war. All is fair in love and war."

Helena smiled at Greg, "Enough with the art lecture..."

Greg looked at the painting again, "How did you get this?"

"It's mine. I lent it to the museum for their exhibition and they've returned it along with a few other pieces." She gestured around the apartment and Greg noticed a few more of the paintings and sculptures that he had last seen in the museum. "No wonder you knew so much about them."

"Yes, they've been in the family for generations. Now, I've been gone for over a week and you haven't even kissed me hello, what is up with that?" Helena teased.

Greg smiled and bent down to kiss her. Maybe they would be late for dinner. Their lips touched and she raised her hand and placed it on his chest. He leaned in to deepen the kiss and...

Helena pulled back from him and placed her finger tips on her lower lip. She pulled them away and looked at them running her thumb from finger to finger.

"Did I smear your lipstick?" Greg asked.

Helena's forehead crinkled for a moment then smoothed out. She took Greg by the hand and led him in to the living room. "Did you see this piece? I can't remember if we talked about it."

It was a small sculpture. Three figures, two adults reclining, leaning against each other with a small child in front of them. The adults watching the child. There was love on their faces. You could almost feel it. Just from a sculpture. "This is amazing. A family right?"

Helena turned the piece slightly so Greg could see the wings of the adult male folded against his back. "Cupid and Psyche had a daughter. Hedone. Her grandmother called her Bliss. She was adored by her family.

Now, Hedone was raised to believe in love. But also in promises. She knew what had happened when her mother had broken her promise to her father. She also knew that though Cupid fought for her, and Psyche fought to redeem herself, that the broken promise always hung over their marriage.
A promise freely given is a powerful thing.

When Hedone was teenager she fell in love with a mortal boy. He was beautiful and she had wanted him very much. She enslaved him. Not on purpose, she didn't know that she could do such a thing. But her want of him overpowered his sense of self. He became consumed with just want of her. When Cupid had discovered Hedone and the boy together he had taken him away from her. He gave the boy a drink of wine and whispered in his ear clearing out the thoughts of only Hedone. Then made Hedone watch as the boy went back home to his fiancee. 'He was already spoken for. You cannot take what is not yours to take. They made vows to each other on my holiest of days.' Hedone thought her father was being cruel, the mortal boy had wanted her, that was real. She had felt it.

Psyche sat down with her daughter and explained how overwhelming it was for a mortal to be faced with a god. It was why her father had made Psyche keep her eyes closed when he came to her. Why he had worked very hard to ensure the promises Psyche had made to him were of her own free will, not just his. Psyche cried while speaking to her daughter and Hedone saw the pain she still felt for breaking the promise so long ago.

Hedone was ashamed of herself for what she had done and as happens sometimes when you are young and ashamed of your own actions she lashed out. She blamed her father for her pain. She swore that she would find someone who would love her. Freely. Without guile. Without using who she was to enchant him. She was worthy. She was more than just Cupid's daughter. She was Psyche's child as well.

She thought of the trials her mother endured to win back her father's affections and decided that she would perform a quest of her own. She would find a mortal who loved her, and only her, who promised himself to her of his own free will. She would show her father that she was worthy of love as her mother was. As he was. And so the legend goes that she walks the world searching. Looking for that perfect love. That abiding promise."

Greg had watched her tell the story, noticing how her eyes flashed, showing the pain of Hedone, showing the passion of Cupid. Helena was a wonderful story teller. "I had never heard that one before."

"Because there isn't a happy ending. The poets only like to tell the sad parts of stories if there is a happy ending. Like Cupid and Psyche, they lived happily ever after so the sad parts aren't so awful."

Greg reached over to hold Helena's hand, "I am all about happily ever after making the sad parts go away."

Helena gave Greg a small smile and pulled her hand away gently, "I told you I had been engaged once right?"

Greg nodded.

"We were really happy. He proposed on Valentine's Day. So cliche right? But it was very romantic. I was so completely in love. It was complete Bliss. For awhile. Edward came home from a weekend trip away..."


"Oh yes, I believe you've met my former fiancee. Edward Newsome."

Greg swallowed hard. The little hairs on the back of his neck stood up and it felt like the room dropped by 20 degrees.

"Anyway, Edward came home and kissed me hello." with that she put her fingers to her mouth again. "And I could taste her there. Sour. Spoiled. Rotten. He tasted like a broken promise." She ran her thumb over her fingers wiping them off again. Then she looked at Greg and shook her head once, "I should have known better, but you really are just so beautiful."

The last thing he saw was her raising her hand to his chest. Then the world faded to gray.


"Wake up. Come on, rise and shine. It's a brand new world for you."

Greg blinked slowly. He was in the lobby of Helena's building looking up at Terry. Way up at Terry. "Have you always been this big?" Greg asked groggily.

Terry laughed a deep booming laugh, "The effects will fade. You are just seeing me as I am. And it's actually Astraeus. Terry is just easier for most people."


"Astraeus, second generation Titan at your service. Okay, not at your service, I'm actually at the service of Cupid keeping an eye on Hedone so she doesn't cause too much damage, cause a girl like that can cause a lot of damage if you know what I'm saying, and I'm pretty sure you do. And if you don't you will soon." With that Astraeus laughed again.

"Okay, we don't have a lot of time before the effects of her taking back her heart fade so let me tell you the deal. You aren't ever going to recover from this. This is the big heart break of you life. You blew it. I'm just letting you know up front. Oh wait, let me back up to the formalities."

Greg's head was spinning, "Formalities?"

"Yes, did you Greg Atchison freely and without coercion give your promise to Hedone, also known as Helena? Did you look in her eyes, hand to heart and promise her your affections?"

Greg smiled remembering their first night together. "Yes."

"And did you Greg Atchison after swearing your promise to Hedone and renewing your promise multiple times, even multiple times in one day, then break that promise by engaging in a sexual relationship with another? Knowing that such an act was breaking a promise given of your own free will?"

Greg was an asshole. He knew it. "Yes."

"Okay, good, got that out of the way. Look it could be worse, don't get me wrong, promises made are a big deal. Promises made on Valentine's Day carry extra weight. You are in for a few years of grief, but at least you didn't propose on Valentine's Day, am I right?" Astraeus nodded toward the front door where Greg could see Edward leaning against the building laughing that crazy laugh again. "He knows you screwed up. You are tied to him now as well as her."


"Yeah, see, if you had been the one, if you had given her that happily ever after she has been searching for you would have freed him. Since you didn't he's stuck here waiting. Sort of a warning for anyone who cares to pay attention."

"So, I'm going to be stuck here with him?"

"Oh no, you are going to be stuck at her office building. I think in the mail room. My daughter, Astraea, she's a goddess of justice, Eos and I couldn't be more proud, anyway, Astraea (she goes by Drea right now) will be keeping watch over you. You won't come to any more harm than you've brought on yourself. But your dating life is over. It will be work and well, loneliness for the next decade, maybe two. Unless she finds her true and faithful companion before that then you and the lifer out there will be free to go. If Hedone is happy everyone is happy. Until then that sliver of ice you feel in your heart right now will just continue to cause you pain. That's the piece of her she took back. The piece you will be driven to try and get her to give you again. But you won't be able to. She's done, she'll see you and look right through you at the same time. Torture really. And you won't even really remember why. There will be flashes, you'll know you screwed up. But remembering that she's a direct descendant of Mars? Nah, that's fading even now." Astraeus laughed again.

"You seem really giddy about all of this."

Astraeus gave Greg a cold smile, "Well, Greg, I never really liked you. How hard was it to remember the name Terry? Seriously dude, you're kind of an asshole."

Greg watched as Astraeus began to shrink. Becoming Terry sized again. He shook his head a little to try and clear the cobwebs. What had just happened?

"Feeling better? I've called you a cab."

"Umm, thanks, Terry. I guess I'm okay." Then it all came flooding back to him, he had cheated on Helena and she had found out somehow. She dumped him. Not surprising really. He deserved to be dumped. But how in the world was he ever going to live without her? Without seeing her? He would have to figure out some way to be close to her. To win her back. Maybe if he went to work in her office building. That seemed like a really good idea. Then she would have to see him there. Waiting for her. Always waiting. He promised.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Ferris Wheel Politics...

Taking a small break from finishing Promises Made to write a rant. Sorry, had to be done.

This morning at the gym there were two older guys talking politics. One finally says to the other that; "...I've always said the fairest tax is a sales tax. You get to make the choices then and it's all fair for everyone."

They both agreed and decided they were very smart and should run the world.

I was doing Super Sets so didn't have time to challenge him on his perspective but I so wanted to.

I tell people that the only Fair thing comes with Ferris Wheels and Cotton Candy, because fair (like he meant) is all about where you are standing at the time. His idea that sales tax is fair is fine for one measurement. Sure, if you want to say we would all pay the same percentage on a gallon of milk, then that's fair. Except that percentage of your income is very different so it's not very fair at all.

Taking him at superficial levels he's in a gym on a Monday late morning working out wearing his Big Island Running Club t-shirt. He's late 50s early 60s so his kids are probably grown and out on their own. So his choices are, do I buy the Audi or the BMW? Do I go to Hawaii again or to Mexico? They are fine choices, don't get me wrong, but they are very different than the young family both working full time with young kids who are deciding, Do I pay the power bill on time or the rent? Do I buy a gallon of milk or a gallon of gas?

I've been on both sides of those choices. When Brent and I were first married we both worked full time. He was in the military and I worked retail. Hard work. Lots of hours. Still month left at the end of our money. And we were making significantly less than just he makes now. That sales tax that is so fair in Gym Dude's eye would have hit us much harder than our current selves. You know the upper middle class, working out at the gym mid-morning on a Monday leaving for Hawaii in two weeks, selves. Percentages work that way. Everyone paying the same sales tax percentage and calling that good for our only tax isn't fair if you are on the other side of the Cotton Candy stand.

It's the same argument I have with a few of my younger friends right now. I am not really in favor of free college for everyone. They tell me about it being fair. I think, well, I have two associates degrees, Brent has his MBA, C has his bachelor's degree and none of them were free. So now you are asking me to pay more in taxes so your kids can go to college for free after I already paid for mine? How is that fair? And I don't believe everyone should go to college. I think it's not for some people.

I didn't go to college right out of high school. It would have been wasted on me. I barely made it to class in high school. I went to college in San Diego because I couldn't get a job as a bookkeeper without at least an associates degree. Even though I already had a few years experience it didn't matter. They wanted that piece of paper. So I went through their junior college system which was extraordinarily inexpensive, but I also paid with opportunity costs. See, by going to school full time I wasn't able to work full time so we paid for my college not just in tuition but in the lost income. You better believe I made it to class every day. Because it cost me something to do it. Paying for it made it worth more.

So two things there, one, because getting your associates was so inexpensive a lot of people did it, which actually made the degree worth less in California. I got a job after graduation doing something that I was doing without the degree in other states. Because the degree was so common it wasn't worth as much. Not really fair, right? But that's what happens. If everyone has one it's not worth as much. An associates becomes like a high school diploma. It's just the entry ticket.

Secondly, because I did have to pay for it, I took my schooling more seriously. The kids I was in class with who had mom and dad paying? Who were right out of high school and not giving up income to get that degree? They were much bigger slackers. It wasn't costing them anything to be there and they didn't understand yet, what is was going to cost them to NOT be there. Much like I was in high school.

Do I think college has gotten much too expensive? Considering we just paid off all of C's student loans, please believe that I do. But guess what, I'm not going to get a refund on those so when you talk about raising my taxes to pay for your kid I think, "nope, not fair." I think we need to look and see why those costs are so high. What is driving them? What changes need made?

What do I think we should do? I think we should have some sort of civil service. You give 2-4 years you get 2-4 of schooling. Military, Peace Corps type work either nationally or internationally. At the end of the time you get a voucher that you can use for a two year degree, a four year degree, tech school. Whatever your continuing education goals are. You've worked for it. You've earned it. I'm much more comfortable with my taxes supporting a program like that. It seems a lot more fair to me from where I'm standing.

So you see, fair is all about where you are standing. What we need to do is look for more or less fair. More or less balanced. More or less burden sharing. Benefits and costs need to be weighed and we need to see what is best for most. Which you might not view as fair. Or you might.

My fair isn't your fair.

Pass the Cotton Candy.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Promises Made (Part 7)

Greg woke up suddenly. Heart pounding, thin sheen of sweat across his chest, breathing like he had run a marathon. He had screwed up. He knew it.

When he started pursuing Helena it had been driven with wanting her. He admitted it. He was shallow. He knew it. But he had always known that once he had her then he would grow bored. The chase was his real love. The challenge. The problem was Helena was better than a chase. The woman that had fascinated him before totally enthralled him now.

He had mistaken her reluctance to have a relationship, a physical relationship, with lack of need. He had taken her past history, four serious relationships before him. He was the fifth and only her fourth sexual partner. He had taken that history to mean she wasn't as sexually driven as he was. But he was so wrong. After that first night the flood gates had opened and he had realized that though he had had more sexual partners in his lifetime he had never had better sex. She did things to him that he had never experienced. An orgasm with Helena wasn't a fleeting few seconds at the end of a groping session, it was like falling over a waterfall and in to a pool of deep warm sea water where you crashed with exhilaration and then floated on a peaceful wave right up until it all started again. She loved sex in the morning, at night, and one memorable Saturday five times in between. The woman who had barely held his hand in public before now took him to dark corners of bars and teased him until he couldn't wait to get her home.

But it wasn't just the sex. Though the sex was incredible. It was her. She had completely opened up to him now. They could talk about everything. And they did. He took her to the Angels and Demons exhibit when it opened and she shared all of the art history she knew. And she knew a lot. She talked about the artists, what drove them, what shaped them, she talked about the paintings and the way the church had tried, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, to get the deities of the past diminished so their vision of one god could shine. Though it never quite worked out. The gods of the past were always lurking. That painting of Mary, see how she poses? Now look at this painting of Venus, see how they match? Mary is now the mother of the Christ, but was she really Venus the goddess of love? Helena wove stories of artists and their visions. How they could see what was there, and what might have been there, and what should have been there. He could listen to her talk all day. Especially about the old Greek and Roman myths. She would tell him stories that were filled with little details that made learning about them all over again so much more interesting than anything he could recall from school.

The talked about money. About investments. She was building a portfolio of real estate holdings. She owned her own office building. Not many people realized how incredibly well off she was. She sat on the board of three different charitable organizations. Things he had never realized about her. She was so young to have been so successful. Though she admitted she came from old money so had a head start. Normally that would have made him feel small somehow. Like he hadn't done enough, but instead it made him feel proud. That this incredible woman had chosen him. And then shared with him. Told him who she was.

The nights they spent together she would fall asleep, head on his chest, her hand over his heart, their breathing deepening and matching, and as they would drift off he would think to himself how lucky he was. And in the morning? When the sheets would have drifted off of her, when he could see the line of her body? The wave curved from shoulder to hip? The swell of her backside as she snuggled up against him for a few more minutes before rolling over her mouth seeking his...his erection responding to just the thought.

"hmmm....morning, lover, I see you slept well."

Greg looked over at his bed mate Janice.

He had screwed up. He knew it.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Promises Made (Part 6)...

Tina's phone rang, "Edward Newsome."

She laughed, "Hello, Kyle. Yes I know, Edward Newsome. Greg already told me."

"Greg knows? How did he take it?"

"I guess just like you since he called me right away to tell me. He is sort of fascinated I think."

"Fascinated? Not freaked out?"

"Maybe a little. Like how could that happen sort of thing, I guess."

"I think it's obvious how it happened. Is he raging jealous?"

"Jealous? Why in the world would he be jealous?"

"Come on! He got all aggro with me and Al the other day for pretty innocent comments..."

"So you think just the proximity to Helena would make him jealous?"

"Proximity? I guess that's one way to say it. They've been in proximity of each other."

"I don't know how else you would put it."

"So the dude freaks out when I joke about bringing pillows and is fascinated by a guy who buys her a building for an engagement gift. Okay, makes perfect sense."

"Wait! What are you talking about?"

"Edward Newsome. We are talking about Edward Newsome. You said Greg called you when he found out."

"When he found out that the crazy homeless guy who sits outside Helena's building all the time is Edward Newsome."

"Wait, what?"

"Yeah, exactly. Wait, what? Let's start over. You tell me your news. Edward Newsome gave Helena a building when she was engaged?"

"When they were engaged."


"Yeah. Oh. Okay, here we go. I feel in to a Google loop. I was reading a story about downtown renovations and at the end of a story on the economic impact there was a linked story about a renovation of an older building in to a multi-use facility and at the end of that story was a link to a story about Edward Newsome's engagement news. And BOOM! There they are. Edward and Helena at some charity event, Helena rocking a giant ring and beaming up at him. He gave her a building to celebrate. Made the joke that diamonds might be a girl's best friend but real estate held its value better."

"Wow. So her mystery fiance was Edward Newsome. Damn. Now that you say it I remember her talking about Eddie. She moved here to be closer to him. But when they broke up she never mentioned him, never wanted to talk about him. Nothing. The only thing she said was that he had an issue with keeping promises."

"Yeah, that's one way to put it. I dug a little bit after that and found a gossipy piece about the break up. Seems he was got caught with his hand in the company cookie jar. A cookie jar who worked in commercial properties. Helena found out and dumped him. Sold the ring and donated the money to the art museum and kept the building."


"Yeah, wow. Now tell me about the crazy homeless guy."

"So it seems that there is this guy that sits outside of Helena's building all the time. Greg found out from Terry that he isn't just some random homeless guy, but Edward Newsome."


"Yeah. Wow."

"You know Greg's going to really freak out when he finds out that he's not only not a homeless guy but he's Helena's ex right?"


"When are you telling him?"

Tina laughed. "I don't think I am. I think I will leave that to Helena."

Friday, February 12, 2016

Promises Made (Part 5)...

Greg reached across the table and took Helena's hand in his.

"Happy Valentine's Day. Thank you for spending it with me."

Helena smiled and looked deeply in to his eyes, "I wouldn't have had it any other way. You've become very special to me."

Greg swallowed slowly, "You are just so beautiful. You know that right? I have never met anyone like you. You just take my breath away."

Helena tilted her head slightly, "You have the holiday tomorrow right?"

Greg could only nod. His mouth suddenly dry.

"Would you like to stay the night at my place?"

He had never signaled a waiter, payed a check or hailed a cab so fast in his life.

When they got in to the cab Helena kissed him. It might as well have been the first time he had ever been kissed. He realized that she had been holding back from him all of this time. That she wanted him just as much as he wanted her. He wrapped his arms around her and lost himself to her mouth.

*ahem* "Excuse me? We're here. And I would say just in time." The cab was stopped at her apartment. Greg had to laugh. The 15 minute ride had passed in a second. In a kiss.

Helena blushed and said, "I'm sorry. That was probably very inappropriate of us. But..."

The cabby laughed, "It's Valentine's Day. You aren't the first and you won't be the last. You two have a good evening now." And with that he gave them a big wink and drove off.

As Greg walked Helena toward the door he heard singing. He stopped for a second and realized it was the homeless guy, well not homeless, Edward Newsome, singing, well humming and singing. Greg listened for a moment. He just got the tune and was about to place the song when Terry (it was Terry, he knew it was Terry tonight!) opened the door and ushered them in to the building.

"No return cab tonight, Ms. Helena?"

"No thank you, Terry, we won't be needing one." Helena smiled widely and led Greg to the elevator.

Greg felt like a kid on Christmas Eve. He was trying to calm his breathing and at least come across as a little smooth. But it wasn't working. When they stepped in to the elevator and the doors closed he wrapped his arms around her again. Kissing her deeply. Tasting the wine on her tongue.

The elevator dinged and the doors slid open. Greg let go of Helena and gestured for her to go ahead. He didn't even know her apartment number. Then he turned toward the door and stopped.

The elevator opened in to her living room.

He looked around. "You have a floor? This is all yours?" He was mentally trying to figure out how much an apartment this size in this building would be.

"I do. There are benefits to ownership."

"You own this apartment?"

Helena laughed, "I own this building."

"The building. You own this whole building?"

"I do. Does that matter to you?"

"No, I mean, not really, it's just shocking. I always assumed you were renting a place here. You own a building?"

"I own three buildings actually, I own the building my office is in as well. And another building downtown I have just started renovating for a mixed use property."

"How did you end up with three buildings? I had no idea you were in real estate."

"Some I used to know got me started. Then there were tax implications so it made sense to add some expense which led to the second building. And then the third."

Greg was amazed. "You are very well off."

Helena laughed, "Yes, I am. My family is well off. I was raised with money. I am now making my own. Are you okay? Do you need some time for this to settle in? I know it's sort of a shock. I just don't like to talk about it with people. It seems very rude to bring up."

"Does Tina know?"

"Yes, Tina knows. Shelly knows. Most of my girlfriends know. We just never really talked about money so you didn't. But now you know as well."

Greg was a little shell shocked. She was rich. So gorgeous, smart, funny, kind and rich. And somehow she wanted him.

"Are you okay?"

He took two giant steps across the room to reach her, "I am fine. It's just a lot to take in. My mother used to say that God doesn't give with two hands, but He seems to have just kept giving to you over and over. You are everything."

Helena laughed, "The gods can be very generous when they want to be."

Then she kissed him again and he forgot about everything else except her mouth.

They made their way in to her bedroom. Helena looked in to his eyes and began to unbutton his shirt. "Are you sure you are ready for this? You know how I feel about sex. It's important."

Greg drew a shaky breath, just the feel of the tips of her fingers on his chest was making him crazy, "I am more ready than I ever have been."


He took her hand away from his buttons and kissed it, "Promise."

She finished unbuttoning his shirt and ran her hands over his chest. Everywhere her fingers touched him was like a trail of fire. His skin felt like it was jumping toward her, dying to be the next spot touched. She untied the belt of her dress and unwrapped it from her body. Greg stopped breathing as he looked at her standing there. She was wearing lingerie that was made from blush colored lace so delicate it looked like she was wearing a shadow. He traced his hand down her side. Feeling the curve of her waist and the swell of her hip.

"You are just so..."

He couldn't find any words. But he found he didn't need them.

She helped him finish undressing as they stood kissing by the bed. Then she gently pushed him toward the edge of the bed. He sat. She pushed again and he laid down. Watching her as she undid the clasp of her bra and slid out of it. Even out of the constraints of the bra her breasts were full and round. Tipped with perfect rose bud nipples. She stepped out of the matching panties and walked toward him. He slid back further on the bed to make room for her, but it wasn't necessary, she slid up his body and lay against him.

Her skin was hot and smooth as silk. He couldn't touch all of her quick enough. His hands sliding down the curve of her back. Feeling her shift under his touch. The heat from her building. Matching his own. He thought they might explode. He flipped her over on to her back and leaned up on his elbow just looking at her.

She smiled, "Do you like what you see?"

He shook his head, "Like doesn't cover it."

Then he was lost in her again.

They explored each other with their hands and with their mouths until he couldn't stand it any more. As they moved together he knew he wasn't going to last much longer. She reached a hand up to his cheek turning his head to look in to her eyes, then she placed a hand over his heart. "Promises." She whispered as he came. His whole body shook. Then he collapsed on to her and she wrapped her arms around him. Hands playing up and down his back as he tried to get his breathing back under control. He had never ever felt like that with a woman.

"Wow..." He finally gasped out.

She laughed and he could feel her body move around his. "Wow it is."

"I've never felt like that. I just...I've never."

"You've never been with me before." And she laughed again.

He rolled over and lay next to her looking at her face. "You are amazing."

"You're not so bad yourself."

He could feel his eyes starting to droop and tried to keep them open. She traced her hand down his cheek.

"'s okay we've got all night. You can rest now."

He laid down and she put her head on his chest. As he drifted off to sleep the song Edward was humming finally came to him. It was an old 80s song. "You made me...promises, promises..."

Promises Made (part 4)...

Tina answered her phone: "Crazy homeless dude is Edward Newsome."

"And hello to you too, Greg."

"Sorry, I just can't believe it. Crazy homeless dude is Edward Newsome."

"You say that like I'm supposed to know 1.who crazy homeless dude is and 2. who Edward Newsome is." Tina replied to Greg's announcement.

"The crazy guy who sits outside Helena's building. He's really Edward Newsome. Edward Newsome. The real estate mogul? He's worth millions. Her doorman, Charles? James? whatever his name is, her doorman told me."

"Then why is he homeless?"

"He's not! That's what I'm saying. The crazy guy who sits outside on the sidewalk is rich. Like crazy rich. But not crazy crazy."

"I'm still not following you."

"Okay, you know the crazy guy who sits outside of Helena's apartment building?"

"No. So that's our first barrier. I've never seen a crazy guy outside of her building."

"Seriously? How could you miss him? He's there every time I go to pick her up."

"I don't know, maybe he's only there at night. If he's a big time business man he would be busy during the day right? I've only been over to her place for brunch on Sundays and a few times we met before there before going to the movies. Mostly we meet up where we are going."

"Wait? For brunch? So you've been inside her place?"

Tina laughed, "Well yes, she didn't bring the food down to the lobby so Terry and I could eat together. Though she did bring him some muffins as we left to go shopping so that was nice."

"How do you remember the doorman's name and not notice the homeless guy?"

"How do you never remember the doorman's name and only notice the homeless guy?"

"Fine, whatever, but don't you think it's odd that a millionaire would spend his time sitting on a street corner mumbling to himself? I knew something about him was off. He always bugged me. Now I think it's part of a plot to lower the property values and buy her building for a song."

"You've figured it out then. What's your next step, Sherlock?"

"Nothing. I just think it's interesting. That's all. But now I want you to tell me about her apartment. Is it nice? I bet it's nice. How does it smell?"

"Like brunch. Get a grip, Greg, you are starting to freak me out."

"Sorry, I'm actually just a little nervous. I think this week is the week. I think I'm going to get the invite upstairs. She's been sort of hinting around about taking things further. I think I've passed the test."

"Wow. Big step with Helena. She's not a casual dater. If she is willing to sleep with you then she's committing for the long haul. You realize that right? Sex isn't just a fun pastime for her. She views it as something deeper."

"I know, we've had all the serious talks. I know she feels a 'spiritual connection' along with the physical. I've dated girls like that before. None that have made me wait this long, granted, but I get it. She takes it seriously."

"She does. But do you?"

"Sleeping with Helena? Yeah, I take that very seriously. Hey, I've gotta run. I need to double check our Valentine's Day reservations. Everything needs to be perfect, not going to get this close to the finish line and fail now!"

Tina stared at her cell phone for a minute after Greg broke the connection then shook her head. If he was viewing this as the finish line instead of the starting gate she didn't think he was really ready for Helena.

Promises Made (part 3)...

After dinner Greg dropped Helena off at her apartment. The kiss goodnight by the elevator lasted a little longer than usual and was a little deeper than last time. That combined with the fact that the homeless guy was gone filled Greg with cheer. After Helena was on her way up to her apartment Greg turned to see the doorman, Terry, it was Terry watching him.

"Seems our homeless friend left for the evening?"

"What homeless friend? Do you mean Edward?"

"Edward? You know his name?"

"Edward Newsome. Yes, I know his name."

"Edward Newsome? That guy is Edward Newsome? You're kidding me."

"No. That is the one and only Edward Newsome. So I can most assuredly tell you he is not some homeless guy. Did you need me to call you a cab or did you keep your ride?"

Greg knew he was being dismissed now. Kissed and left at the elevator again. Dismissed by a doorman. Discovering that the crazy homeless guy was actually a multi-millionaire real estate developer. He could feel his good mood evaporating, but then remembered the actual kiss goodnight. It was a great kiss. Full of promise.

The whole date had been a good one. After leaving the bar they walked the few blocks to the restaurant. When they were passing the art gallery Helena had stopped to look at the flyer posted for their next exhibition.

It was a painting of an angel. He was tall and muscular and holding a bow in his hands, his wings folded down at his sides. "I've never seen a painting of an angel with a bow. Don't they normally have harps?"

She had smiled at him, "This is no angel. This is Cupid."

"Cupid? The little fat cherub guy? I guess he grew up."

Her face had clouded a little at that, "The cherub is a romantic fallacy. The painters wanted to depict him as something softer. More playful. So they made him a baby. And gave him a quiver of arrows with heart shaped tips. This, this is much closer to what the son of War should look like."

"The son of War?"

"Yes, Cupid. Son of Venus and Mars. Or Aphrodite and Ares if you prefer, but then you should use Eros instead of Cupid when referring to him. Mixing the Roman and Greek names just gets really confusing."

"I didn't know you were interested in the ancient myths. Tell me more."

"What do you want to know? More about Cupid? Or Venus and Mars? Or Psyche?"

"Psyche? Isn't that your brain?"

She laughed, "No, I mean Psyche the person. Cupid's wife."

"Cupid was married?"

"Yes, he was. It's a very long story and I wouldn't have time to tell you all of it before dinner, but the basics are that he fell in love with a human and he was worried she would be afraid to find out that he was a god so he made her promise to close her eyes every time he came to visit. She was talked in to breaking that promise. During the act of betrayal Cupid was wounded, Psyche and he were separated and she was forced to wander the world and the underworld in search of her lost love. Once he had healed he found her, forgave her and begged Jupiter to make her immortal. Jupiter consents as long as Cupid will give him a little help with the ladies in the future, because Jupiter was like that. Cupid and Psyche were married and from that day forward any union brought together by Cupid was considered sacred and must not be broken. See, even though Cupid forgave Psyche, he never got over the betrayal. A promise made must be kept or the consequences are dire."

"That's the short version?" Greg teased.

Helena laughed, "Yes, it is. We are talking about years of wandering. Other gods were involved along with Psyche's sisters. It was a huge mess."

"And you know all of this off the top of your head?"

"Sure. Family histories are all so interesting. Even ancient families."

"You are amazing." Greg smiled at her.

"Well, thank you. Now let's eat. I'm starving."

Greg smiled to himself in the backseat of the cab remembering how her face lit up while she was telling him the story of Cupid and Psyche. He was going to have to take her to that Angels and Demons exhibit when it opened. He loved that she wasn't just beautiful but smart. And willing to share the information without apology or hesitation. Confidence was very sexy. Everything about her was very sexy. He sighed, it was just so frustrating to wait sometimes.

He picked up his phone and sent a quick text. "U up?"

Now to Google Edward Newsome and find out why he spent his free time sitting on street corners mumbling. Greg wondered if it was some sort of trick to lower property values before swooping in to buy them at bargain prices.

His phone vibrated, "I'm up. Wanna play?"

Greg smiled, frustrations could always be dealt with.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Promises Made (part 2)...

"Okay, wait, Greg is dating Helena? Greg?" Shelly had asked for clarification at least three times already.

"Yes! Greg!"

"And how long have they been going out?"

Tina looked around the table for help, "A month? At least a month right?"

"Yeah, it's been pretty close to a month. He met her at the New Year's Eve party so yeah, it's been right around there." Al agreed.

Shelly shook her head, "Okay, you all know him better than I do, but I just have a hard time wrapping my head around them as a couple. He's so...and she's just not...and..."

Tina started laughing, "Ladies and gentlemen, my very eloquent cousin."

"Stop! You know what I mean. You all know what I mean! Greg is a player. Unless Helena has changed from when we were kids, and granted we've only talked online for the past few years, she doesn't do frivolous."

"She was really clear about that with him when he asked her out and he went anyway." Kyle shrugged his shoulders, "Maybe he's growing up?"

They all laughed at that.

"They are going to stop by here before they go to dinner so you can see her. You can judge for yourself if they make a good couple. They are an attractive one anyway."

"Helena on her own is an attractive couple." The group started to laugh, "That's not what I meant! I mean she's so pretty that it doesn't really matter who is next to her!"

"Call the devil by his name..." Kyle started as the couple walked in to the bar.

Shelly and Helena both did the high pitched squeal that only women who haven't seen each other in years seem to be able to master. "OH my god! You look great!" "I look great? Look at you! You look fabulous!" "Look at your hair!" "That dress is to kill for!" "You got so tall!" "It's the shoes." "Those are GREAT shoes!"

Everyone waited for the rush of words to slow down. When they noticed everyone staring at them they both broke out in to laughter. "Oops! Sorry about that! Helena, can I get you a drink? Here sit next to me." Shelly pulled out a high seat for her.

Greg smiled and said, "I've got this, white wine?"

"Yes, please, that would be lovely."

"Anyone else need a refresh while I'm up there?"

The table ordered their next round and Kyle and Al joined Greg at the bar to help carry back drinks.

Tina, Shelly and Helena played a quick round of catch up while they waited. Who was working where, who had dated whom, how long Shelly was going to be in town.

"I'm actually only here tonight. I arranged my connecting flight so I would have a chance to see Tina. I'm so glad you could stop by as well. You just look great, I mean, I know I said it before, but you really do. It's almost not fair."

Helena smiled, "You look fabulous as well. It must be in the genes though. You and Tina both look wonderful. I would kill for your hair."

Tina reach up and fluffed her curls, "Do you remember Amy calling me Shirley Temple every day in school? I didn't even know who Shirley Temple was but I hated it."

"Oh Amy! She was so awful! She constantly made fun of my name." Helena broke in to a pitch perfect imitation of a bratty 6 year old, "Helena who ever heard of a Helena? That's not even a real person's name."

"You seem real to me." Al put the drinks down on the table.

"Hey! Back off there, big guy!" Greg said trying for and just missing a playful tone rather than a threatening one.

Shelly raised her eyebrows at Tina and Tina returned the look with a slight head tilt.

"So you and Tina have known each other since first grade, when did you and Shelly meet?" Kyle asked trying to ease the sudden tension around the table.

"The summer before eighth grade. We went to camp together. I found out she was related to Tina when I complimented her hair. I told her I hadn't seen curls like hers since I was in second grade."

"Wait, so what happened to your curls after second grade?"

Tina laughed, "Nothing happened to my curls, Helena moved. You were only at Jefferson for, what? Half of first grade and half of second right?"

"Yes, we moved a lot when I was younger. Tina and I became pen pals though. She was my first best friend."

"We had to stand together against Amy after all."

"And then when Shelly realized that I was Tina's pen pal we spent the summer together as well. And then we all reconnected a few years ago through Facebook. And when I moved here I met all of you." She smiled at the group.

"And then saved the best for last with me." Greg laughed.

The group spent a little more time visiting before Greg announced that he and Helena needed to take off if they were going to make their dinner reservation.

Helena got up and hugged Shelly, "It was so good to see you! I hope you can come back for a longer visit. We could have a good old fashioned sleep over!"

"Sounds good to me, should I bring the pillows for the fight?" Kyle joked.

Greg's jaw line tightened, "I don't think she was inviting you."

Kyle held up his hands, "Chill, chill, I was joking. Go feed this man, he's getting a little hangry!"

Greg shook his head a little, "Sorry, dude, yeah, I guess I need to eat something. Shall we?"

He reached out and took Helena's arm to lead her to the door, "We will see you all later."

After the couple had made their way out of the bar Al turned to the table, "What the hell was all of that? Have you ever seen Greg get possessive like that?"

Kyle nodded toward the cousins, "Don't think I didn't see that look between you two when he snapped at Al, what's up?"

"It's just Helena. She has that effect on guys. I'm really surprised you two haven't even seemed interested in her."

Kyle shrugged, "She's pretty. And she's great. But she's just not my type. A little too, I don't even know really, just too something."

Al nodded, "I really liked her when we first met. Like couldn't get her out of my head sort of thing, but then I realized that it wasn't a real feeling. You know, like I had already put her on some sort of pedestal and wasn't really seeing her. Once I realized that it sort of faded away. She's great, don't get me wrong, but she's not messy enough for me."

Shelly laughed, "Well okay then. If I find a messy girl I will send her your way."

"What can I say? I don't want to have to be perfect so I don't want someone who already is."

Kyle nodded, "So was she like that in 8th grade?"

Tina laughed, "In 8th grade? Try 1st grade. When she first started, aside from Amy trying to torture her every day, she was really quiet. It's hard to be the new kid right? Especially coming in part way through the year. But she was nice. And she was smart. She ended up in my reading group. It was me, Amy, her and two boys Ricky and Jack. Now remember, we were 6 and 7 years old. Ricky and Jack both decided that Helena was their girlfriend. They would compete for her attention constantly. They had been best friends right up until that point and they ended up hating each other. And they kept hating each other until high school. Seriously. Because of a girl they both liked in 1st grade! It wasn't until our sophomore year that they realized how stupid that was and stopped."

Shelly nodded, "Yeah, she just has something about her. There was a camp counselor that was sent home half way through the summer. The rumor mill was that he was involved with a camper. I knew it was Helena."

"Dude! Really? She was with a counselor?"

"She wasn't with anyone. And keep in mind this kid was only like 17 or 18 himself and we were 13. So it's not like it was a giant age gap. And she was already stunning at 13. They weren't a couple or anything. He just sort of became obsessed with her. He would show up at the dorm to walk us to chow hall. He would make sure he was sitting near us during campfires. I think it just became obvious to his supervisors that there was a problem brewing and so he was sent packing. But she never did anything to encourage him. I remember her telling him that she was too young for any promises. She's always been serious. Which is why I really don't understand Greg."

"He's smitten for sure. And she said that she was really clear with him that if they were going to date it was going to be on her terms. She doesn't play around. She doesn't date casually and I think she's only had like 3 serious boyfriends ever. She was engaged a couple of years ago."

Shelly was shocked, "Really? I stalked her page and looked at all of her pictures to see what was going on when we first reconnected and I didn't see any fiance?"

"Yeah, they were engaged, had picked a date and then. Done. She doesn't talk about him. All of the pictures of him were gone. And nobody brings him up. I'm guessing it was really ugly and she doesn't want reminders."

"I get that. I hate when old pictures of Angie come up. I tried to make sure I untagged myself and deleted a ton but it still happens."

Al reached out and patted Kyle's shoulder, "If it helps when I see them I always try and say something slightly nasty, but not too nasty so she doesn't really know if I'm being nasty."

They all laughed, "Yes, it does help. I'm petty. What can I say?"

"Well here's to Greg and Helena, I hope they never have to untag photos!" Tina held up her glass.

"To Greg and Helena!" The friends echoed back.

"Good luck to him." Shelly whispered as she downed her drink.

Promises Made...

Greg didn't like picking her up at her place. It wasn't just because he had never actually been inside her apartment. Or that he was forced to wait in the lobby for her after the doorman called up to let her know he was there. It wasn't even that he felt out of place with all of the very well dressed and obviously well funded individuals that came and went while he waited. It was the homeless guy who sat outside the building.

Look, he was a good guy, he really was. And he knew that people got down on their luck. And hell, he had lived in the city his whole life so it wasn't like homeless people were something he wasn't used to, it was just something about this guy. When Greg walked past him the little hairs on the back of his neck stood up. Something about him just wasn't right. The constant mumbling or the blank stare. Greg was never sure exactly what, but there was something that just bugged him. He hated being this way. It made him feel badly about himself. In fact he had made a big donation to the Sisters of the Road mission to help feed the homeless population to try and ease his own guilt at how much this guy bugged him. But it didn't stop it from happening. He just really bugged him.

But he still would pick her up at her place if that was the plan. Because no matter how much that guy bugged him he would never pass up the opportunity for the invite upstairs. They had been going out for a month already and the most affection he had received had been an almost chaste kiss goodnight at the elevator door. Never the invite for a drink upstairs. Never a request to go back to his place. Never even a lingering touch. But he still held out hope. He had wanted her from the second he first saw her. He was self aware enough to admit how shallow that made him sound, but there was no other way to phrase it. He wanted her. And once he got to know her he realized that she really was worth wanting in every way.

Smart. Funny. Kind. Successful. Greg's friends liked her, even though he was technically the last one to meet her. Tina had known her since they were little kids and the rest had seen her off and on over the years, but they still all liked her. They didn't even all like each other all the time, but her? They all liked her. So Greg knew she was great in a completely not shallow sort of way.

But he still wanted her. She was beautiful, but it was more than that. She was sex incarnate. All curves and smooth skin and shining hair. She moved like water. Not really walking so much as undulating across the floor. A man couldn't help getting bad thoughts just watching her go from point A to point B. She was incredible.

Which made the fact that she was so untouchable maddening.

She even knew the effect she had on him. They talked about it. Honest, open, communication. He wasn't used to that. But she had let him know on the first day that she moved very slowly. She took things like relationships very seriously. If he wasn't willing to go at her pace, to understand her reluctance to move to the next level, then he was free to go. No hard feelings. They could still be friends. But if he wanted to date, to try for more, she was willing. Just very slowly and seriously.

Normally a woman talking about getting serious on the first date would have made him turn tail and run. But did he mention how much he wanted her? He was willing to take the time. And if it all took too long and he decided that even she wasn't worth that much of a wait then he would move on. It wasn't like he had completely abandoned the other women he had been dating after all. Helena might might have wanted to take things slowly and seriously but that didn't mean he was taking things exclusively.

He turned as he heard the ding of the elevator and saw her just as the doors opened. That moment before she started to look for him. That moment that was just her, lost in her own thoughts, waiting. Then she looked up and saw him standing there waiting for her and he watched as the smile spread across her face. Every feature involved, from the curl of her lips to the crinkle of her nose to the spark in her eyes. Stunning. He always remembered how beautiful she was while at the same time always seemed to forget until he saw her. She was everything.

"Greg! You look wonderful! I hope you haven't been waiting long. The elevator took forever to get to me. I almost decided on the stairs."

"Ms. Helena, I have a cab waiting for you both and I will call Carl to take a look at the elevator while you are out."

Greg nodded to her doorman, was it Charles? James? Something like that and took Helena's arm to lead her to the waiting cab.

"Oh thank you, Terry, I so appreciate your help."

Greg hustled her out the door and in to the cab trying to ignore the mumbling coming from the homeless guy leaning against the building. He seemed to have gotten louder while Greg was inside. Probably had a pint tucked in his jacket and was on his way to drunk.

"Where are we off to tonight?"

"I made reservations as Cassidy's Place at 8, and before that I thought we might stop by the bar for a quick before dinner drink. Tina's cousin is in town and was hoping to see you before she left."

"Fabulous. I haven't seen Shelly since summer camp way back in, hmmm, I want to say 8th grade! What a great surprise!"

With that Helena patted Greg's knee sending a spark up his leg that made it very difficult to remember that this was a slow and patient game he was playing.