Authors: Ben Boswell
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Seven Dates © 2015 by Ben Boswell
Cover image © Getty/iStockPhoto used under license
Cover design by Kenny Wright
First digital edition electronically published by KW Publishing, June 2015
With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without explicit written permission of the copyright holder.
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events, or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
Okay, I have to admit. I struggled with this one. I’m still not one hundred percent sure I got it right. I fell in love with the concept, and then got caught up in a couple of really hot scenes, but when I read over my first draft, it was clear I’d taken a wrong turn somewhere.
Part of my concern was that, especially, in the early drafts, none of the characters were likeable. The protagonists are still, even after a lot of work, deeply, deeply flawed people. I know that will rub some readers the wrong way.
Then, also, the plot is dark. It is full of deceit, manipulation, revenge, and deliberately hurtful behavior. It is about as far removed as possible in tone from my last book,
I doubt this will be anyone’s favorite book. It isn’t mine, frankly. But that said, I don’t regret it.
It would be easy to write the same book over and over. People loved
. I could rewrite it to be on an African Safari next. Or a basketball camp. Or set on a college campus. Same characters, same plot, just new names and a new setting. I know that it would sell well. But it would be boring.
Seven Dates is, at least, a little original. I hope readers will give me credit for that. I hope that when readers read my stuff, they find what they expect, but they also find some surprises, some challenges. I don’t want to write the same book over and over, and I hope you don’t want to read the same book again and again.
I want to thank, as usual, Kenny Wright for his support, comments, and design help. Max Sebastian also provided some helpful comments on the story. And thanks to reader RP for editing out some of the typos.
Of course I was going to hit on Joanie. At the time I was hitting on basically any and every girl I came across. True, she wasn’t really my type. I was more into trashy girls. Girls who wouldn’t require much work. Bleached blondes with the roots showing and visible bra straps. Some Jaegerbombs, a little drunken grinding, and then back to my place for a fuck… if we got that far. Bar bathrooms, park benches, the back seats of taxis, I wasn’t picky.
Joanie, I could tell, was going to require more effort. She was pretty, very, very pretty, though so conservatively dressed that I couldn’t be completely sure her body was as hot as the brief hints allowed by her clothes suggested. With the face of cover girl, I had her pegged for Spanish, but actually she was French on her mother’s side, Irish on her dad’s, Catholic on both.
She was nineteen, a rising junior at Columbia, interning in my firm. They had her doing some miserable, pointless research. That’s the problem with free labor, there is no incentive to use it productively. But the kids don’t know that. Or maybe they don’t care. It’s a line on the resume regardless.
I perched up on her desk and tried to get a peek down her blouse. Damn, were those things really as big as they looked? I forced myself to meet her big, brown eyes, her pupils haloed in black.
“Good morning Joanie.”
“Good morning, Mr. Graham. How can I help you?”
“You can call me Kellen to start.”
She blushed a little, but didn’t take the bait. She just looked at me.
Get on with it,
she seemed to be saying.
I cleared my throat. “Well, um, I guess we’re supposed to get to know the interns. You know, mentor them. That sort of thing.”
“You seem skeptical.”
“I’m been warned about you, Mr. Graham. You have quite the reputation.”
“Oh? What do people say about me?”
“That you’re a cad.”
“Did we teleport back into the 1960s?”
“A playa?” she proposed with a sassy head waggle.
“1990s. But getting closer.”
“I’m trying to reform,” I added.
She wasn’t buying. “Don’t you think I’m a little young for you? I can’t even drink legally.”
“That’s okay, I’m trying to cut back anyway.”
She laughed. “So you’re a cad
an alcoholic. It gets better and better. ”
It occurred to me that I needed a whole different game. Somehow, I didn’t think that she’d be impressed by the vial of coke in my pocket, the size of my paycheck, or my willingness to try just about anything, at least once, in bed.
“I’d love to buy you lunch and just talk.”
“What are we going to talk about?”
“You. Because, for the life of me, I can’t figure out what you’re doing working here.”
She looked scandalized.
“You’re a nice girl. And this is not a business for nice.”
“You don’t think I’m tough enough.”
“I think you’re not enough of an asshole.”
She seemed interested by that.
“How do you know that?”
“Because I’m one, and I can see it in others. It’s like gaydar, but for jerks.”
“A cad, an alcoholic, and a self-professed asshole. How can I refuse?”
I was on my best behavior. It wasn’t just that I wanted to get into her pants. She didn’t often wear pants for one thing, a skirts and dresses-kind-of-girl all the way. But more than that, I was looking for a change.
The coke was a bad sign. I’d only just begun using, but I could feel its seductive power. Like the cheap and easy sex I was used to, it was leading me down a path I didn’t like. I’d always been focused and ambitious. The partying was a distraction. Joanie symbolized, for me, an escape from that life. A prize whose attainment would reward the discipline it would take to achieve.
In retrospect that seems like an awfully cold rationale. A very transactional way to view a relationship. But that’s always been the way I’ve been wired. Analytical, detached.
Joanie also had a very practical side to her. That’s why she was interning in finance, when really she wanted to be a writer.
“So write,” I said for maybe the tenth time.
We were on our third date. I was counting lunch in my mind as the first. So I was sort of hoping I’d score. Even nice girls give it up on the third date, right? I might have been looking to move beyond easy chicks, but that didn’t mean I was any less horny.
She rolled her eyes at me. It was a relationship stage I’d never experienced before. She knew me well enough to call me on bullshit, yet we didn’t have that existential comfort level that you only get after having sex with someone. There was still that spark, that tension. Not that I wouldn’t have traded that in a heartbeat to get my hands on what I was now pretty sure were her world-class hooters, but this was still pretty neat.
“You mean wait tables,” she replied.
“No, that’s wannabe actresses. Wannabe writers work, I think, as editorial assistants.”
“And hope to he
by a successful male author.”
“There are worse things in the world than being James Patterson’s concubine.”
“Speaking from experience?”
“No. That is the one thing I haven’t tried.”
“The one thing?”
I wasn’t going to ruin a good flirtation by getting into details, though I was pleased by this apparent interest in my sex life, oblique and jokey as it was.
“Seriously, though, you’re too young not to follow your passions.”
“’I don’t know, Kellen. Newspapers, magazines, they’re all dying. I want my work to be consequential. I’m not saying I’m a great artist. I’m not going to write the great American novel. But I want to make people think and feel. I want to provoke a reaction, not just scribble away on vanity projects. I don’t want to wake up in ten years and think I’ve wasted my time.”
“No, Joanie, what you don’t want is to wake up in ten years and be selling derivatives if you hate it.”
“But that’s what you want to do. Or is it just the money?”
I shook my head. “No, I know this is going to sound weird. But I don’t care about the money. I like the… juice.”
“It’s hard to explain. Sometimes I say I like the strategy of it. You know, two people go into a room, they each want something from the other, but the excitement comes from getting the better of it. If I wasn’t a trader, maybe I’d be a lawyer. But a lawyer, unless you’re doing criminal, gets what, a couple of trials a year? I make deals every day.”
She looked at me thoughtfully. “So is that what I am? A negotiation? A counter-party you’re trying to get the better of?”
It took me aback.
“I don’t know. Aren’t all relationships negotiations of some sort?”
“Maybe. But that doesn’t mean we need to get the better of each other.”
I thought about that. The answer came to me.
“Okay, but that’s because a relationship is positive sum. We can each get out more than we put in.”
She laughed. “You’re maybe the least romantic man in the world, you know that?”
I raised my glass of sparkling water. “I do always strive to be exceptional.”
She made me meet her parents before we had sex. She stopped short of demanding a ring, though I suspect she considered it.
It went well. I was on my best behavior, and as much as I hate to admit it, I do have a salesman’s oily charm when I want to. It was like an acting exercise. Could I sell myself at the sort of man a conservative, Catholic mom and dad might want as a son-in-law? We weren’t talking marriage. We hadn’t even banged. But I instinctively got the message.
Is it weird to admit that the man I pretended to be – family oriented, desirous of finding and caring for a good woman, sane and sober – is the man I wanted to be as well? Joanie, by then, knew that this was more aspiration than reality, and yet, I think she was happy to buy into it. Maybe she saw my potential. Maybe she trusted that her parents’ seal of approval meant something. Maybe she was just looking for a meal ticket. We never had the conversation we needed to have about it.
We drove back into the city from Westchester in the car I’d rented for the occasion. I got off the West Side highway to drop her at her student apartment in Morningside Heights.
“So, you’re not interested in me anymore?” she asked.
“You haven’t invited me to your place in weeks.”
It isn’t that I wasn’t interested as much as I had sort of given up. Rare for me. But after three months I didn’t think she’d ever consent to a night at my place, and the implicit promise of sex that would imply.
“Want to come over?” I asked.
She smiled. “Yes.”
She was so awkward and self-conscious that I actually asked her if she was a virgin. I didn’t know if I wanted to pop her cherry. She wouldn’t have been my first virgin, but certainly she’d have the first for whom it was a concern. She seems like a girl who might make it to her wedding day otherwise.
“No,” she answered quietly.
I wasn’t sure I believed her, but as we became more intimate I lost my ability to worry about it. Naked, she was even more stunning than I could have imagined. Her breasts achieved a sort of Platonic ideal. Better than that, actually, given the Greek tendency to see modest breasts as the apotheosis of the female form, just as they also considered big pricks as ugly and deformed. I was lost in her tits, huge, firm, with silver dollar-sized, pale pink areolas and amazing nipples that swelled to sensitive, ripe grapes. Dozens of women before had done little to prepare me for that moment when her bra came off. I was blown away. I just wanted to worship her breasts.
But the rest of her body demanded similar attention. The flat of her stomach, the swell of her hips. A hard, perfect, bubble butt. She wasn’t shaved, or even trimmed, but her pussy was tight and juicy and so fucking hot. I was a kid in a candy shop, barely able to focus on one treat before discovering the next.
She let me take the lead. I went slow, really slow. An hour just kissing and caressing each other. She was so tentative and sweet with my cock, almost as if she were worried she might hurt me. It was surprisingly erotic.
“I want to make love to you,” I said finally.
She didn’t answer. Not with words. She just swallowed and nodded. I slipped on a condom.
I climbed between her legs and slowly rubbed my cock up and down her wet slit. She moaned softly. Her hands went to my hips. She was anxious and yet eager. Again I wondered if she were a virgin, but now I was too far along for it to make a difference.
I pressed into her, slowly, gently, but she was more than ready, her pussy drenched and inviting. I thrust in deeper, deeper. She moaned louder. I paused and we kissed again, several long minutes as I caressed her cheek and nibbled on her lips, her chin, her nose.
When I resumed, it was harder now, but she was ready for me. Each thrust eliciting a delicious, contented mewl. She surprised me with her orgasm. I wasn’t sure she was comfortable enough with me to let go like that, but she did. Soft sighs, her body suddenly flush with heat, a small, contented smile on her face. I followed soon after.
Our lovemaking progressed, though always through small increments. She learned to give head, although that was never her favorite, and we began having sex more often with her on top. I never thought that would get old. Looking up at her beautiful face, watching her big breasts swaying gently as she rode me, cupping and squeezing her hard ass. I never thought it would get old. But it did.