Teaser 035: That’s the Face I Want

I walked toward the indoor pool through the Great Room. Everyone else was there. Ken started on me. “We come to the dining table and there's an unmistakable stench of garlic,” he teased, “and it so permeated everything, I could barely eat my breakfast!” He wore a wide smile.

I didn't break stride. “Yeah, well, it's what I prefer on my eggs. Get used to it.” I watched his expression turn from a well-meaning tease to shock. Drake asked how it went. “It went fine.” I stopped. “Serena took me to all her girlfriends with medical degrees and each had a wonderful time at my discomfort.” All were shocked and turned to Serena as I started walking toward the indoor pool.

“He had his teeth cleaned first, but he also quit smoking today and he hasn't had a cigarette in hours so give him a break.”

“Give him a break?” Drake proclaimed. “Give him football fields of space!”

“Good idea, Drake!” I shouted as I disappeared into the indoor pool. I walked to one of the lounge chairs, set it horizontal, and laid on it, with my hands under my head. I closed my eyes. I was beat. A minute or two later I felt a hand softly squeeze my thigh. I opened my eyes and Serena was bending over me.

“Would you like a beer, old man?” Her smile was wide.

“There may be one out here from last night.”

Serena walked to the refrigerator and opened it. “There is. Very good you remembered.” I heard the bottle clink against the rings on her fingers. She stepped to the table and I heard the cap pop off.

I sat up as she brought it to me, took it from her hand and gulped a long swig. “This could be drunk night for me, though drinking and smoking kind of go together. Now it's drinking and...gum. Yummy!” I sucked down some more.

Serena moved to sit on the chair with me so I lifted my legs out of the way as she sat beside me. “You don't get angry when you're drunk, do you?”

“No. I usually become silent. I'm a nice drunk. You hardly know I'm there.”

Smiling infectiously so I could feel my mouth lift to form my own, Serena reached for my face and playfully tugged my beard. “So, when's this coming off and I get to see your face?”

“Soon. I didn't say right away, but soon.”

“Soon could be tonight, tomorrow, next month. Be specific, little boy.”

“Within a week, maybe. I need some things and then it will go.” Serena frowned. “I said I would do it. I promised you, and I will shave it off.”

“You better.” She looked away.

“You impressed me today.”

Serena looked back. “How so?”

“Your face looked fantastic!” She did look fantastic all day, even with her pouting, something's bothering her visage.

“I did not,” she argued. She didn't wear a frown. It was mild disbelief.

I looked away. “I can't figure women out. They put on a mask to look the way they wish they looked and when they take it off, they think they're ugly, there could not possibly be any beauty under the mask.” I caught her gaze and added, “I don't get it.”

“No, I imagine you wouldn't get it.”

Of course I wouldn't get it. It's not like the phantom of the opera. Sure, he takes off his mask and his face is horribly disfigured. You take off your mask and your face is not disfigured by any stretch of the imagination.” I turned back to drown in the black pearls of her eyes. “I look at this face only a few feet away from me and I think, that's the face I want. I want her.”

Glancing down for a moment Serena looked back into my eyes and almost whispered, “I decided not to wear make-up today for you. Do you know why?”

It made me smile, big and wide. “No. Tell me.”

“Because I thought you would not make me feel uncomfortable, that I was someone less than I am.”

“And I didn't, did I?”

“No, you didn't,” Serena said, her smile growing bigger.

“And now you know more about who I am.”

“This is true.” Placing her right hand on my thigh, Serena leaned on her right arm.

I turned briefly to put the bottle to my lips and sucked down some more brew. The beer tasted good and when I turned to look in the eyes of this woman leaning on my thigh, I got lost. We spent minutes looking at the face of the other, slowly moving focus around to another feature of the face staring back, a quick blink on occasion, a study of another face staring back. I spoke, not to break the tension—there wasn't any to break—but to confess. “I could spend hours staring at your face, Serena, hours, and I would be content.”

“Your eyes are so expressive, Gregory. I can look in your eyes and know what you're thinking.”

“Oh, no, you can't.”

“Oh, yes, I can,” Serena insisted, her smile sincere. “I know you think that, even when you look at me, but it's in the way you think about it. When you think about that, Gregory, you want nothing more than to satisfy your woman, to make her happy, do you not?”

Are we going to talk about sex? As unbelievable as I thought concerning this development, it's exactly what we did. We spent the next hour or so talking about sex like we were old friends. We discussed partners, sexual experiences, what we liked and what we didn't, all calmly, rationally, without emotion or frustration or aggression or pent-up disappointment about prospective partners, members of the other gender. It was genuinely thoughtful. When I told Serena women are selfless when it comes to sex, she asked what I meant. I told her every woman with whom I had sex wanted me to come inside her, wanted me to reach my orgasm, regardless of whether she reached orgasm or not. It's because she would feel without a doubt she satisfied me, she made me happy and it's what she wanted most, and it would only be a bonus if she reached orgasm. She didn't care about her orgasm. She wanted mine. The look on Serena's face said she not only knew it to be true, she knew I knew it to be true. We could have gone on for hours but the dinner bell rang. At least I wasn't raging through a nicotine fit.

- Just Desserts, Segment FourDidn’t See That Coming” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021

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