Ahhh … ” she gasped as I sent a second finger inside her, stretching her open and sucking on her clit.
I didn’t want to end so soon. She groaned when I pulled my fingers out. I had a wicked thought and let her watch me suck on my fingers. There would be no limits to our exploration of each other.
She rolled on her side facing away from me, her back, taut and well-defined. The crease starting in the small of her back called to me. My lips touched her skin there, planting a soft kiss, and she shivered and then sighed. My lips went lower, kissing that sweaty channel to the rim of her anus, the rippled skin welcoming the wetness of the tip of my tongue. No one had licked my ass before, and Ronnie showed me it was an erogenous zone that deserved more attention. I licked her ass, starting around the transition between light and dark skin, and then licking her anus with broad strokes.
A low moan escaped her lips, her ass cheeks clenching and unclenching with each lash of my tongue. Her back arched, thrusting her breasts out. I reached over her and cupped her right breast, hanging low and heavy, I pinched her nipple, her anal ring reflexively snapping shut around the tip of my tongue and squeezing it, giving me a surge of pleasure as well.
I wet my index finger and pushed it into the small gape left by my tongue. She gasped as I felt the powerful ring of muscle, pressing hard against it and feeling it constrict each time I pinched her nipple. One hand continued to caress the underside of her breast, while the other continued to explore her back channel, each time pumping my finger deeper, past the ring of muscle and into the smooth walls of her rectum, the skin pulsing with life.
“Oh God … yes …” she said in halting breaths. My finger had found that spot inside her that was hardwired to her clit. Her thighs were trembling as I captured her clit in my mouth, fluttering around it with my tongue as she babbled incoherently.
She arched her back, every muscled tensed, as she panted, her breaths becoming quicker until they stopped and a long wailing moan escaped her lips.
“Jacks …” she said. “Jacks.”
For that moment we were one.
We made love all night. She taught me how best to orally pleasure a woman, telling me “yes there,” and “no … softer” and guiding me on a journey I had planned but never taken. There was so much more to being with a woman. The deep emotional connection. The understanding of each other’s body. The pacing. It all felt right for the first time in my life.
* * *
Three Months Later
I went to Rusty’s on each weekend pass, staying with Ronnie in the cabin and becoming a regular at Rusty’s. Ronnie stopped drinking and the transformation was nothing short of stunning. The hollows in her cheeks disappeared and her complexion looked ten years younger. The moodiness was gone. She was funny and witty, and our nights together were spent exploring each other, body and mind. For the first time in my life I felt complete … and happy.
She thought less of Alex with each passing day, and I felt I had established my own identity with Ronnie. We spent a great deal of time together that summer, and as summer became fall, the season darkened and so did Ronnie’s mood. Maybe it was her self-destructive side. Her demons. A force she couldn’t suppress forever.
It was end of summer, and I had managed to negotiate for a two-day pass that weekend in exchange for double shifts the following week. It had been three weeks since my last visit, and was excited to make the familiar drive to Rusty’s. I rolled down the windows, trying to catch the last remnants of summer, the hot air of the valley giving way to the cool breezes through the stands of sequoia trees bordering the curving road. I felt refreshed, so looking forward to seeing Rusty and Ronnie.
I went to Rusty’s first. I was given a key, and unlocked the front door. Rusty usually showed up at 5 p.m. and opened the bar at 6. The room was dark and the chairs were still up on the bar. I flipped a barstool right side up and went behind the bar to pour myself a top shelf bourbon out of Ronnie’s personal stash. I brought a novel that I wanted to read, and sat of the barstool to read until Rusty showed up. Our usual routine was for me to help Rusty with the opening, and Ronnie would show up around 7:30. We were usually out of there by 10, if not sooner.
Right around five, I heard the key working the front lock. Seconds later, Rusty pushed the front door open, seeing me with my elbows on the bar, holding a book in front of me.
“Reading again?” she asked, shutting and locking the door.
“Just a novel I meant to read,” I told her.
“Really? Care to enlighten me?” She donned an apron hanging on a nearby hook and went behind the bar.
“The Story of ‘O’,” I told her. I wasn’t kidding. It was a great read, a bit extreme maybe, but erotic.
“Funny … I think Ronnie’s into that kind of shit,” Rusty commented.
Then she paused for a minute.
“You guys do that stuff?” she asked. I loved Rusty, but she had no filter.
“No comment,” I said with a straight face. In truth, we used the nipple clamps the second time we made love. We accumulated a whole box of toys to play with.
Rusty was usually chatty, but she got busy behind the bar so I went back to my book, noticing when I looked around that the bar had filled up. I looked at my phone. 7:45. Shit. Ronnie was late. She had turned over a new leaf, so to speak, so this was very much out of character.
I got Rusty’s attention and asked her if she knew what was up with Ronnie. She said she didn’t know anything, and by that time it was 8:00. The cell phone reception was nonexistent in the mountains and Rusty’s landline was silent. The cabin didn’t have a phone and Ronnie’s number went straight to voice mail. I got into my rental car and took the familiar route to her cabin. There was a strange car parked in front of her place and the shades were drawn inside the cabin. I also had a key to the cabin. I knocked to be polite. I wasn’t sure what was going on.
There were muffled voices in the background, footsteps, and then the door opened. It was JoAnne. She was wearing one of Ronnie’s pajama tops and a pair of her bikini briefs. She didn’t hide the fact that she was having sex with Ronnie. She gave me a shit eating grin and I so wanted to have another piece of her. She blocked me from going in. This was not the time to pick another fight.
The door was open, so I called inside over JoAnne’s head.
There was silence … then “What?” she shouted back. Her voice came from the bedroom.
“Ronnie, it’s Jacks. We were supposed to meet an hour ago at Rusty’s.” JoAnne was still blocking me and I could start to smell her. It wasn’t pleasant. I noticed peeking through the door that the place was a mess, and there were empty handles of cheap whiskey sitting on the coffee table.
“Fuck off,” she shouted again. I couldn’t see her, and JoAnne’s breath reeked of cheap booze. Something or somebody pushed Ronnie over the edge. This wasn’t a pretty way to end our relationship. I was pretty mad, but I’ve been plenty madder with the crap that comes with being a pilot. I controlled my anger. I was so disappointed in her … and me.
While I was standing there, hurt, JoAnne was kind enough to push me in the chest, knocking me backwards. I stumbled backwards a few steps and regained my footing.
“You heard Ronnie. Get the fuck out of here before I teach you a lesson.”
She was exhibiting false confidence because she knew I wouldn’t beat her up. Something had happened to Ronnie and I had no idea what that was. And someday that bitch JoAnne was going to get her comeuppance.
* * *
The bar emptied out at midnight, so I stayed to help Rusty close the bar. It was busy that night, and after the humiliation at Ronnie’s, I went straight to Rusty’s and drowned my sorrows in Ronnie’s bourbon supply.
When I finally had some alone time with Rusty, I asked her to sit down with me in one of the empty booths. She sat across from me, hands folded.
“I thought we might be talking,” she told me, cutting off my first question.
“OK … tell me,” I said to her.
“Ronnie has been moody for the past couple weeks. Like the old days. She hasn’t been around much and I’m afraid she’s started drinking again. And I saw JoAnne hanging around the bar again. I still don’t like her. I suspected there might be a serious problem when Ronnie didn’t show up on time.”
She confirmed what I observed at the cabin. I couldn’t understand what happened. Ronnie had been happy, and sober, for the past three months. She had demons, but I thought she had them under control. It was apparent I was wrong.
* * *
I went back to the base heartbroken. I tried once again and Ronnie’s cell phone went immediately to voice mail. I was back on duty and there was no other way to reach her. It was Wednesday, four days since my encounter with JoAnne’s at Ronnie’s cabin. I was finishing a double shift (one of the ones I promised for the two day pass so that JoAnne could tell me to fuck off), when the officer on duty got my attention when I was handling a pre-flight inspection of my helicopter.
“You have a visitor at the guard station. She won’t give her name, but said she would wait there until you showed up,” he told me. I was sure he had no more information for me, but I suspected it was Ronnie. I didn’t really know anybody else who would visit unannounced. I was worried that her visit could engender talk on the base about me … and her.
It was going to take me another hour to finish the inspection. Then I probably had another hour before I had to be ready to lift off. I told myself “fuck her.” I was treated like dog shit the last time I visited her and it wasn’t likely there would be another.
We went through the pre-flight inspection, but all the while my mind was on Ronnie. It wasn’t over, at least as far as my heart was concerned. She had done a horrible thing but I couldn’t stop thinking about her. By the time the inspection was finished and I had signed the paperwork, my resolve to ignore her melted, and I made the long walk to the guard house.
It was probably around six, and at that time of the year it started to get cold by then. Ronnie was standing next to her car, a BMW convertible, clutching the lapels of her coat together to keep out the cold wind. Her hair was flying around but I could tell that she wore her good clothes to see me and probably had her hair done before the wind undid it.
“Get in the car,” I told her. “You’ll freeze to death.”
She jumped into the driver side and I got into the passenger side. She started the car and turned the heater on full blast.
“Thanks for coming out.”
She smoothed her hair down as she talked. She was beautifully made up and she wore a dress that I liked. She looked good, and looked like she had sobered up. The car was neat.
“I can’t begin …” I started.
“I’m sorry … I’m sorry …. I’m sorry.” She broke down crying. I didn’t know if I felt like leaning over to comfort her, but ultimately my better side won out and I held her so her head was resting on my shoulder.
“I can explain …”
“Ronnie, let me talk first.” I tried to keep my voice steady and measured. “I showed up on Saturday at Rusty’s as we agreed. As we did every Saturday night. I showed up at your place an hour after we agreed and had JoAnne, and you, tell me to fuck off. I did. What’s there to explain?”
I reached for the handle of the door.
She reached across me and grabbed my hand.
“Wait,” she said sharply. Having reached across me, she was inches from me. She was wearing my favorite perfume as well.
We looked at each other. Her eyes were watery and begging forgiveness.
“Not now,” I told her. I pushed her away to allow me to open the door.
“Alex … it was the tenth anniversary of her death … I couldn’t take it …” she blurted out. I froze with the door half open.
She went on to explain. “I’m sorry. Before I met you I thought about Alex every day. You helped me to forget her, or to at least remember her but move past her. But I didn’t. Not entirely. Sometime when I was with you I would be reminded of her. The way you said things. Your haircut. Your mannerisms. I’m sorry. I know you’re not Alex. I love you for who you are. I realize that now.”
I stood with the door still open. The wind was blowing inside the cabin. “I think it’s too late Ronnie. I don’t think I can take this. If you fall off the wagon and this is what I get, I’m not in,” I told her emphatically and with finality,
Tears were trickling down her cheek.
“It was just this once. I started drinking on the tenth anniversary of her death, and I don’t know if I was out of my mind when you stopped by. I swear it won’t happen again. I’m over Alex.”
She sounded convincing, but my mom was a drunk too. Drunks lie. I wasn’t sure Ronnie was capable of telling the truth.
I leaned forward so my head was inside the cabin of the car.
“I’m sorry Ronnie. I don’t think it’ll work out.”
I shut the door and then knocked on the window twice and waved goodbye. Ronnie backed the car out and drove away. I watched her taillights vanish into the distance and thought that would be the last time I saw her.
* * *
As a fledgling search and rescue pilot, I was on standby every weekend. There was a ferocious lightning storm that started a fire in a densely wooded area of Kings Canyon National Park. It was a Friday night, and with winds gusting to almost 100 miles per hour, the conditions were ripe for an uncontrolled wildfire that could potentially engulf thousands of acres.
We got a distress call, telling us that a group of campers were trapped in the high country, surrounded on all four sides by fire. I was the pilot on call, and it was up to me to fire up the Blackhawk to attempt the rescue.
At the pre-flight briefing I was shown maps indicating the latest position of the fire and the location of the trapped campers. The fire was closing in on all sides, and it would only be a matter of a few hours before the fire would overtake their position. There weren’t any logging roads nearby so we were their only viable option. The winds were high and erratic and there was a significant amount of smoke in the area of the rescue. In other words, terrible flying conditions.
My commanding officer discussed the hazards of the rescue with me. She knew I was up for it, but wanted to make sure I knew what I was getting into. We had a good working relationship and now that relationship would be put to the test with this risky mission.
“Jacks … you know what you’re in for,” she said to me. We both didn’t think it was productive to go much further. There wasn’t any time for it.
“I do,” I told her. “It’s either me, or else they get toasted by that fire.”
“There’s a back-up that’ll be about fifteen minutes behind you,” she reminded me, as if she had to.
“I know,” I replied, “but you know and I know that every minute counts in a wildfire.”
“Go,” she said. “Just bring my chopper back in one piece.”
She forced a smile on her face, shaking my hand and gripping it a bit longer than usual.
* * *
We lifted off from Lemoore around midnight, and the gusting winds made the helo pitch wildly. We made it up, but just barely as a gale was blowing across the valley, with even greater force at higher altitudes. It was a bumpy and scary ride to the pick up point, a small clearing on a hillside to be marked out with flares.
We crossed over a series of foothills, and could see the flames advancing on the camper’s position. We could see sparks and embers swirling about as the wind gusted, fanning the flames and igniting tree tops like Roman candles. The night sky was a ghoulish orange.
“Navy two zero one … what is your position?” the radio barked in my headset.
There was a great deal of interference.
“We’re about five minutes from the pick up point,” I shouted back over the din of the helicopter blades.
“Don’t land if it’s unsafe. Back-up is fifteen minutes behind.”
I only had enough fuel to make one pass for the descent. One try and then out. There was back-up behind me.
I saw the red smoke of the flares and positioned the chopper for a landing, hovering over the small meadow. I was positioning the helicopter between two stands of trees when a whorl of wind lifted debris, probably tree branches, that hit the rear rotor and caused the Blackhawk to spin. I fought to regain control, with warning lights flashing, and alarms blaring. I tried land it, but there was impact … and blackness.
* * *
Beeping … incessant beeping … could someone turn off that obnoxious noise? My eyes fluttered open. A hazy brightness. The shapes of shadowy faces. Someone was holding my hand. Tubes were taped under my nose. There was a searing pain in my left shoulder. I felt a sharp pain when I tried to straighten up. My right leg was immobile and elevated.
“Jacks? … Jacks?” came a voice out of the darkness.
It was a familiar voice. Where was I? Was I in a dream?
“Ronnie?” I called out, not knowing for sure if it was her.
“Yes … my love … it’s me,” the voice responded.
“I … I … I can’t see you,” I told her. I felt like my head was going to split in half.
“I’m here.” She squeezed my hand.
“I’m scared,” I admitted. Nothing was in focus. It was only shapes and swirls of color. I hurt everywhere.
“It’ll be OK. You had quite a knock on the head. The doctor said that your vision should recover. You’ve got a dislocated shoulder, three broken ribs and a fractured tibia. You’re pretty lucky all things considered.”
“My crew?” I said in a hoarse whisper.
“All good. You were able to crash land, but the front part of the helicopter was crushed, and it took over an hour to extract you. You’re lucky to be alive. Aside from bumps and bruises, your crew is fine, and want to visit you as soon as you’re able.”
“The people we were supposed to rescue?”
“They were able to get a second chopper there only a few minutes after you crashed. The campers pulled you out of the wreckage and you were airlifted here.”
“Where am I?”
“You’re in a hospital in Fresno.”
“They’ve been informed. They’ll fly out from North Carolina now that you’re awake.”
“I don’t want you to leave me.”
She squeezed my hand harder. “I’m not leaving … ever.”
“Jacks … I thought I lost you … twice … and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing someone I love again.”
“How long … how long have I been out?”
Another voice chimed in. It sounded like Rusty’s. “A week Jacks. A full week.”
“Shit,” I muttered.
“Ronnie hasn’t left your bedside. If you could see, you could see how shitty she looks.”
“Thanks Rusty. Thanks Ronnie for being here.”
“I think your CO wanted to be informed the minute you regained consciousness,” said Ronnie. “Let me step out and give her a call, as well as your parents. The CO left me her number someplace …”
I heard a shuffling of papers.
“Here it is … I’ll be back.”
I heard footsteps out of the room.
“Rusty?” My voice was regaining strength.
“Ronnie. How’s she doing?”
“She’s better Jacks. After she saw you at the base she stopped drinking again and kicked JoAnne out of the cabin. She’s been clean for the past two months.”
“She really hurt me …”
“I know Jacks. She’s hurt everyone that she loves. That’s what drinking does to you.”
I thought about my mother. I still loved her, even though there were incidences of neglect and anger that would forever be etched in my mind. Could I find it in my heart to forgive Ronnie?
“Did she miss me?”
“Terribly Jacks. I felt like we were going through another Alex situation. I’m sure it took every ounce of Ronnie’s willpower not to drown her sorrows in a bottle. She’s told me there’s not a day that’s passed where she hasn’t regretted falling off the wagon. She’s told me as much, and I can see it in her face.”