Couples Story Fantasy Group Sex

The Very Best of Friends

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indexJoanna pulled up in front of the pretty little riverside house and got out of her car. She grabbed her overnight bag and the bottle of wine and nibbles she had brought with her then took a deep breath. She loved these women; they had been there for her when no one else was, but she always felt like the poor cousin in a Jane Austen novel. She wasn’t as sophisticated, worldly or intelligent as these women. They all had great careers, great wardrobes, and great figures while she always felt like the frumpy old spinster cousin that got invited along as an act of charity.

She had a career if you could call it that. She managed an office for a small electronics firm. She was paid well, and she liked the people she worked with, but she wasn’t climbing any corporate ladder like her friends or mingling with the rich and famous. Well not exactly. She smiled thinking of Melanie, who would no doubt be waiting inside for her arrival with a drink in hand and a story about her latest love affair.

A small red car sped down the street towards her, and she stepped up onto the curb as it braked hard and pulled up behind her little blue hatchback. Carla was always rushing somewhere, Joanna thought.

“Hey there gorgeous,” Carla said stepping out of her car and grabbing her small bag from the rear seat.

“Hey yourself,” Joanna laughed and waited so they could walk in together.

The door was unlocked, and Carla barged in ahead of Joanna, calling out, “Hey bitches, the party has arrived!” The other women in the room all turned and cheered the announcement as Joanna walked in quietly behind Carla and took her food into the kitchen.

The small group of women had come together as friends back in the exclusive all girl’s boarding school they had eventually graduated from. They had drifted apart and come back together over the intervening years for a variety of reasons. More recently though was their thirtieth high school reunion. While they may not have hung out as they used to in a large group like this they had all stayed in touch and in rediscovering their bonds two years ago they had embarked on renewing their ties with an annual pyjama party to remind them of how they met.

It was strange to think of this group of women coming together at all. They had each come from such different backgrounds. Country girls sent to the city for a proper education, girls whose parents were absent from their lives due to work commitments and those whose parents travelled a lot, were roomed with girls on scholarships or those who had special circumstances. She smiled thinking of her shy thirteen-year-old self, arriving at the big city school for the first time and meeting the girls who would become her lifelong friends as she looked around the room.

“Hello my Darling,” Melanie came to hug her. As always the hug seemed to last longer than necessary as if Melanie needed to cling to something real and grounded in her crazy life.

“Mel, I’m so glad you could make it after all!” Joana returned the embrace. “I’ve missed you, and I wanted to get your advice on something. A dilemma of sorts. We’ll talk about it later, though, tell me everything that’s happening in the world of a Logie-winning actress,” she laughed.

“I haven’t won one yet!” Melanie exclaimed grinning widely.

“It’s only a matter of time,” Joanna said with positivity. “You’re fabulous, and you know it.”

“And that is the very reason you have remained my very best friend for so long,” Melanie laughed. “With you, I always have my very own cheer squad.”

“Like you need it,” she pulled a face. “OF the women in the group Melanie had remained close, sharing in all the highs and lows of her life. Particularly over the last three years.

“Someone Pour me a drink and let’s get some music pumping,” Carla said loudly moving to the stereo and picking out an eighties compilation. Rick Astley filled the room, and Melanie pulled a face at Joanna.

“We just got Rickrolled,” she groaned. Then she opened a bottle of champagne and started pouring drinks. Joanna moved around the group chatting to individuals as they started to relax into the evening once again talking about the perils of boarding school and the bitches who made their lives miserable there.

“Okay girls, Joanna said she had a dilemma she wanted to talk about, let’s all put our Dear Dolly hats and give her our undivided attention,” Melanie announced as they sat around the dining room table after dinner picking at cheese and fruit board as the wine continued to flow.

“Well,” Joanna prevaricated wishing Melanie hadn’t announced that she had a problem to the whole group. “Justin is getting married!” she smiled at her friends.

“Wait isn’t he gay?” Tricia broke through the words of congratulations from the rest of the table.

“So?” Donna asked. “I do floral arrangements for all types of weddings.”

“It’s not legal, is it? I mean not yet,” she suddenly unsure of her audience. “I know you can do it in other countries but not here.” They’d grown up in a world where homosexuality was far from accepted.

“It’ll be a civil service,” Joanne smiled. “He’s in love and living the life he always dreamed of up there on the reef. The wedding is just making it complete he says.”

“Well that’s wonderful Darling, so where is the dilemma?” Melanie scrutinised her friend knowing there was more to this story and wondering where her invitation was. Having no family of her own she had adopted Joanna’s family. They were as close as sisters, and she had always been part of any big event Joanna and her family celebrated. As well as any crisis in her friend’s life.

“He sent me an invitation, but I’m not sure I’m reading it right, not that it matters I don’t think I can go,” Joanne admitted. “I would have to organise time off work around June, which is always hard to do at the end of financial year. Not to mention that Michael and his new bride Barbie will be there,” she said disappointedly.

“Like hell, you won’t go,” Melanie said abruptly. “That bastard and his bimbo Barbie shouldn’t stop you from going, if anything it should make you want to go more. You know Justin would want you there more than that arsehole.”

“Justin said he would understand if I felt awkward about going,” Joanne said softly looking down at her hands to hide the fact that she hadn’t told the whole truth about that. He had said as much in the note that came with the invitation but for an entirely different reason.

“What? Now that he’s marrying into big money you’re not good enough anymore and that shit of a man he calls his father is?” Carla was livid. She had been through a tough divorce herself and became incensed anytime she heard of women in their age bracket being screwed over because they weren’t as glamorous as their younger counterparts.

“I’m sure it’s not like that,” Kylie said rolling her eyes. “Not every man is a bastard, and not all children treat their mother badly. Justin’s always been wonderful to Jojo.”

“Well if the dilemma is whether to go or not, then consider the problem solved because you’re going,” Melanie said adamantly.

“Hang on a minute. Maybe we don’t have all the facts yet. I’m not passing judgement until if find out where, when and why you are considering not going,” Elizabeth said. “Do you have the invitation with you?”

Joana nodded guessing it was easier to show them why she was reluctant to go rather than tell them. She stood and walked over to where she had left her handbag taking out the stiff green envelope and passed it to Melanie wishing again that she hadn’t told the other girls that she had a dilemma. Sitting back down at the table she wondered if maybe it was better to get everyone’s opinion, some of them were prudish, and no doubt would react the same way she did. She took a large gulp of her wine as Melanie read the invitation and accompanying note to the small group of friends.

“The invitation itself is addressed to Joanna McCarthy and friend and looks pretty bog standard. Getting married on an island I have never heard of, accommodation and flights provided by the fathers of the grooms,” Melanie read.

“That sounds snazzy, I’ll go if you don’t want to, gosh knows Paul and I need a holiday,” Donna offered.

“I’ll thumb wrestle you for it,” Tricia laughed.

“Rock, paper, scissors,” Donna countered hopefully flexing her thumbs and remembering countless times she had been bested in a battle of the thumbs.

“Stop that, Joana is going,” Carla grumbled at her friends. “This is her son. She raised him without much help from that bastard, and she has to be there when he gets married.”

“Not a great time of year but do-able,” Melanie passed the card for others to look at while she opened the note. She scanned it quickly before clearing her throat and looking at Joanna. “Oh I see, but he wants you there, he thinks you would be lovely. I think you would be lovely,” she looked at her friend with a soft expression. “He always was such a sweet boy,” Melanie spoke directly to Joanna ignoring the curious glances from the other women who realised the real dilemma lay in the note Melanie held clutched against her chest.

“If you are going to read that out-loud I am going to the bathroom, I already know it by heart and my bladder is bursting with all this wine tonight,” Joanna flushed and left the table noting that the other women had given Melanie their full attention.

“Dear Mama Bear, As you know, Tom and I are devoted to each other and have been for some years now, so this is just the next logical step. I am so excited and can’t believe how much I want this day to be as perfect as possible which includes having you there at my side to give the groom away so to speak. The thing is, and you know there is always a thing with me, we want our ceremony to be representative of us, not our families or our friends in the city, so we have decided to hold it up here near the underwater observatory. The island you see on the front of the invitation is owned by Tom’s Uncle Harry, who is a naturalist. We spend all of our free time there and have created a beautiful space in which to dwell and make our lives out here on the reef. I’ve become a naturalist too as nothing man-made is allowed to be brought onto the island to preserve its pristine environment. No bags, no shoes, no sunglasses, and no clothes. I understand that this might be very confronting for a Mama Bear like you, but I adore you and think you are beautiful and can see no reason why you wouldn’t be there for my nuptials. I hope you can find it in your heart to do this for me, but I will understand if you decide not to attend. Tom and I will come down and have a special celebration dinner with you after the honeymoon. I hope that that is not necessary, though. With all my love, The baby bear.”

“Naw, could they be any cuter with each other,” Kylie said watching Joanna come back to the table. “I am going to put together a diet plan that works for you, my lovely. I will help you shed a few kilos’ not that you need it, and we will all join boot camp with you so even if someone can’t get there, you will have the rest of us to motivate you. By the time the wedding rocks around, you will be looking so amazing the men will watch you instead of the bridal party, well the straight men anyway,” she laughed. Health and fitness were her life, so she immediately offered not only her services but those of their friends.

“I’m going to be fifty next year I don’t need to be parading my nakedness around in front of anyone thank you very much,” Joanna said blushing.

“Why not? You’ve got a better figure than me,” Tricia said. “I’d have no problem becoming a naturalist for a day. It’s not like you will be the only one, everyone will be naked so it won’t be a big deal.”

“That’s easy for you to say, you’re a nurse. You’re used to seeing people naked. You probably wouldn’t get excited if Jon Bon Jovi walked in here and stripped for us,” Elizabeth said empathising with Joanna. “We have to face the facts that we are getting older and what Justin’s asking his mother to do is just unthinkable for the average woman at our age.”

“I’m getting pretty tired of hearing about people in our age bracket or women of a certain age. What happened to being as young as the person you’re feeling?” Carla laughed embracing her recent metamorphosis into a cougar. “Let’s get you a toy boy to play with, and then you will feel so sexy you won’t be worried about going to this little shindig.”

“Oh Carla I love you, but I’m not interested in dating someone half my age or dating at all at the moment. I’m happy doing my own thing. I’m too old to make the big compromises you have to in relationships,” she said with a small laugh.

“I think you should take Kylie up on her offer of a diet plan, and I have a friend, well a friend of a friend, who run boot camps with us,” Joanna encouraged. “Even if you decide not to go it’s going to make you feel great and give you a ton more energy than you have now. Trust me I’ve been letting Kylie feed me all manner of nasty fungus and whole foods for years now, and I feel great.”

“I guess it can’t hurt to try that,” Joana said hoping that one compromise would be enough to make the others see that she wasn’t unreasonable.

“I’m up for boot camp if everyone else is,” Donna said, “My middle-aged spread is spreading way further than I would like it too.”

“It can’t hurt to think about it,” Melanie said encouragingly. “I’m in as long as it’s not out in some random park. I get enough bad press without having someone take a random pick of me in lycra just to hazard a guess that I am too skinny or too fat or to point out all my flaws for the fun of it.”

“I’d say you were exaggerating but after that last article I read about you, I can see how they twist a story to make it seem newsworthy,” Elizabeth said. “Okay, I’m in, at least once during the week and maybe a Saturday morning?”

“We can do it here,” Joanna offered. “The river is so nice in the mornings, what days suit everyone. I’m sure this guy I know will happily do a boot camp with six of us or even the whole eight,” she raised an eyebrow at Tricia, who did shift work and had problems making dates at the best of times.

“I can’t promise anything but if I could be a flexible number I will try my best to make it when possible,” Tricia nodded.

“Great, I’m gonna call my friend right now before any of you back out,” she laughed.

“Joanna it’s late, you can’t call them now,” Joana protested wondering how agreeing to accept some nutrition advice from Kylie had her signed up for boot camp. She couldn’t think of anything worse.

*****

Matt was driving home from a date when the music cut out in the middle of one of his favourite songs and his phone began to ring. He still hadn’t got used to the controls on this new car, and he glanced down at the steering wheel making sure to answer the call and not cut whoever it was off.

“Hi, Matt here,” he said loudly into the dark interior of his car. He glanced at the display screen which showed the number wasn’t on his phone or at least had no name ascribed to it.

“Matt, hey, it’s Joanna,” she paused for a millisecond letting him jog his memory before continuing. “We met the other day at the open house on Darling Street? Your friends ended up buying it I believe. You gave me your card and said you were starting a new business,” she rushed on.

“Oh yeah, your Billy’s mum. You want to go for a late night jog or something?” he chuckled realising the woman had obvious had a little too much to drink. Not that he minded older women, quite the contrary. He remembered her as a well-dressed real-estate agent who was very flirty and pretty good looking. He smiled imagining she would be a wild one in bed.

“No, not quite, I’m not even sure I could make it around the block at this point,” she laughed easily, and he could hear other women in the background teasing her about being around the block once or twice at her age.

“To what do I owe the pleasure of this late night call Joanna?” he asked good-naturedly.

“Well, my friends and I were wondering if you would like to run a boot camp for us a couple of mornings a week, including a Saturday morning if possible. There’s eight of us, but you would probably only get five or six of us at a time,” she said.

“Are you shitting me? Hell yeah, that would be freaking awesome,” Matt almost shouted. He had found once he had completed his degree and decided to strike out on his own that the current market was saturated with personal trainers, and he would have to be creative with getting his business started. Word of mouth was always best, but he had to get more clients than he currently had to get those reviews and references.

“Well aren’t you enthusiastic,” she laughed. “Okay well can we book in the eight of us for next Saturday morning?”

“Sure but give me your email address and I will email you some recommendations tomorrow,” He said thinking quickly and not wanting to leave them for a week where they might find someone with better references to engage. “It might better if one or two come each morning this week so I can give them a fitness test and tailor a program to their needs. Just because you all come to the same boot camp doesn’t mean you have to do all the same workout.”

“Okay well, send what you want I’ll chat to the girls about it and get back to you on Monday,” Joanna said. “This is going to be fun for us, so don’t make it like a big chore or anything, we all have jobs to go to after boot camp.” She began to worry about what she had gotten her friends into at that point.

“It will be fun, trust me,” he chuckled. “I just want to start off on the right foot that’s all.”

“Alright,” she said sceptically and gave him her email address. “Thanks, Matt.” She wanted to be supportive of Matt because of his friendship with her son, and she knew how hard it was to start a business, but she realised that she may have been a little hasty with her phone call.

He ended the called with a wide smile maybe things were starting to look up for him. He’d been trying to change his stars, as his grandfather used to say, since the old man died several years ago. He left school early and rather than engaging in a formal apprenticeship he had taken up labouring jobs on construction sites. It was there that he had met Steve, a bricklayer with a straight talking point of view of the world and everything in it.

Steve had made him appreciate how much his grandparents had given up to raise him while his mother succumbed to the delights of drugs and alcohol. It was Steve that told him not to be a mug and to go back to school and study rather than end up a broken old man who lived every day in pain because he couldn’t get a better job. Working construction was hard on the body.

As a young man, Matt enjoyed the heavy lifting and hard work of labouring, his muscles grew and his tan deepened, and he became popular with girls for the first time in his life. They didn’t care if he was smart or not they cared that he could sweep them off their feet. He had worked hard and played hard treating his grandparents as hotel keepers rather than family. That was until Steve started commenting on his life and the choices he was making. In a way, he became like a surrogate for the father he had never had. His grandparents had down the best, but the absence of his parents had left a gaping hole in his life.

It was always within a normal conversation that Steve would bring up issues and foibles, Matt was making. He neither criticised nor lectured. He just talked about himself or some guy he knew often laughing and making light of some incident or another that seemed somehow to mirror what was going on in Matt’s life. As time went on the younger man found himself engaging with, the older man and seeking his advice.

Steve always refused to give advice but would come back later, seemingly out of blue, with a story about a mate who just happened to have a similar problem to young Matt. This new friendship affected him profoundly, and he began helping out his grandparents more often and talking to them about some of the things he had been mulling over since starting to work with Steve. When he had brought up the idea of giving up work to going back to study something and get a qualification of some sort his grandfather had given him a toothy grin and said, “It’s never too late to change your stars.”

Not wanting to give up the independence a weekly paycheck had given him or be a burden on his grandparents and their meagre pension, he began to look at what type of courses were available at night. It wasn’t until he was taking Steve home one night having gone for a beer after work that he heard a commercial for a course to become a Personal Trainer. His friends talked about going to the gym and having a personal trainer often enough, but Matt had never bothered, he got all the exercise he needed every day at work why would he want to do more.

“If I was ten years younger that’s what I’d be doing,” Steve suddenly said into the darkness of the car. “I’d be getting physical with Oliva newton-John alright.”

“With who?” Matt tried to place the name but couldn’t.

“Fuck me you’re a baby, Google it,” he chortled. “She’s still as hot as she ever was and trust me older women are much better than those young stick things you hook up with on the weekend. Experience and an adventurous heart outweigh youth and firm tits every time.”

“I tell ya she wouldn’t have to ask me twice to get physical,” Steve murmured, and the song started playing from his phone. Matt glanced down a few times at the small screen as Steve drunkenly sung along with his phone.

Matt came back to the present and laughed. That night had been the beginning of his two new hobbies, fitness, and middle-aged women. He didn’t particularly like the over aggressive cougar type, but he took what he could get, and there were many around these days. He preferred the quieter women who tended to mother him, making sure he ate well and looked after himself. The type who almost spoilt him in the way they tried to look after him. He had believed he could be in love once with a woman who gave the best blowjob he had ever had in his life, as well as being an awesome cook; she even did his laundry for him. She had returned to her husband in the end after making the man jealous by being seen dating and having fun with a much younger man.

Steve had been right on both counts, and his life had been much happier since then. In taking the leap to start his own business, however, he had not realised how hard it would be and found himself picking up the odd day or two of work on the construction team to tide things over financially, while he tried to make connections within the world of health and fitness. If these eight women had any links at all to the health and or nutrition industry, he could have a way in that until now had totally eluded him.

*****

“I don’t know how I let you talk me into this,” Joanna groaned as Joanna opened her front door. “I think I sleep-drove over here.”

“Come on in and I’ll make you a smoothie to get you going,” Joanna said cheerfully.

“What no coffee even?” Joanna said crestfallen. “None of that kale or other green superfood stuff, just fruit okay?”

“We’re healthy remember and how do you know you won’t like my breakfast smoothie until you try it?” Joanna cajoled as they walked through into the kitchen. Joanna could see a young man through the glass sliding doors to the back patio setting up some equipment while he sipped at a drink. She couldn’t tell for sure, but she imagined he got to have coffee, and she irrationally resented him for it as she dumped her bag on the floor and sagged onto a stool at the kitchen bench.

“Why are we doing this again?” she asked “And if you tell me this was my idea I may well slap you. I think I got railroaded,” Joana complained.

“We are all doing this for you sweetie,” Carla walked into the house without knocking. “So you can go to that wedding and make that rat regret ever leaving you.” She looked into the kitchen, “Aren’t we Joanna?”

“Yes and no, we are also doing this to get fit ourselves. You know we all turn fifty next year and some of us are feeling like a bit of a make-over might help to deal with that fact,” she said trying to take the middle road.

“Oh God, that’s even worse than Carla’s reason,” Joanna grumbled and shrugged out of her light jacket wishing Melanie was there instead of Carla. She had a tight filming schedule this week for a commercial or something and had done her fitness test on Monday. Joana accepted a glass of what looked like thick juice rather than a traditional smoothie from Joanna. “That’s pretty good,” she nodded and looked back out onto the back patio where the young man was warming up and stretching.

“He’s a bit yummy, Joanna,” Carla tilted her head as if trying to get a better look at him.

“He’s young enough to be your son,” Joanna clicked her tongue at her friend but laughed. “He’s a friend of Billy’s and he’s very good so put your claws away and play nice.”

“Oh yeah, I’ll play nice if he does,” Carla assured her with a wink and made her way out onto the patio to meet him.

“Drink up Joanna, you know Carla will probably occupy most of his time, so you won’t have to do much today,” Joanna encouraged. “He’s very nice; everyone says so,” Joanna reassured her.

“I guess I just feel that at our age we should be allowed a modicum of leeway when it comes to our figures, you know. Middle-age spread happens why fight it? Why go out and kill yourself to try and look like the younger generation who haven’t had kids, or the experiences we have?” Joanna reasoned.

“I don’t know about you, but my mind still thinks my body can do everything my younger self could, and I don’t know that I am ready to slow down and just accept being an old woman yet,” Joanna answered honestly. “I don’t feel old so why should I act it. You don’t look old why are you giving in so gracefully to the perils of old age. Surely, you don’t want to be wearing absorbent underwear sooner than you need just so to don’t have to worry about laughing or sneezing in public.”

“Okay that’s enough, you’ve convinced me,” Joanna held up her hands in surrender. She finished her juice and joined Carla on the back Patio.

“You must be the Joana I have heard all about,” he smiled at her as she approached them.

“And you must be the miracle worker who is going to make me twenty-one again,” she laughed.

“Chronologically no, but if we get you halfway to feeling that young, you can suggest my sainthood again,” he grinned then paused. “Oh wait, its two miracles for sainthood isn’t it? Ah well, we’ll see what we can do about the first one and maybe look for a second when it accomplished.”

“Well, you have confidence that’s for sure,” Joanna said as he continued to measure different parts of Carla’s body and note them down in a book.

“Your turn,” Matt offered his hand to help her step on the scale.

“Is this necessary, I mean I haven’t accidently signed up for weight watchers have I?” Joanna protested with an uncomfortable laugh.

“This is how we get a baseline to see how well you are travelling during the boot camp. You can weigh in and be measured as often or as seldom as you like after today but it’s important to get a good baseline so you can see your achievements and judge when things aren’t working well so we can change your program. Kylie tells me she is going to look at your nutrition and dietary needs. The whole point of this is to get you to a nudist colony, isn’t it?”

“Oh my God, why would she tell you that?” Joanna was horrified. “Why would she tell him that, Carla? I don’t think I can do this, after all. I’m not some silly woman who wants to go and parade around naked at a nudist colony!” All her anxieties about the wedding rose to the surface. “I didn’t want a boot camp or a diet, they all decided this without even asking me. I can’t believe I let it go this far. I am sorry to have wasted your time.” She pulled herself together and walked back inside. Without a word to anyone she picked up her jacket and bag and let herself out the front door.”

“Shit,” Matt said watching her leave. “The way everyone talked I thought this was her idea.”

The rest of the women who had come earlier in the week had talked warmly of their friend who needed a bit of help becoming confident with her body. They all seemed to suggest that they were here solely to support her though at least half of them needed to be here more than the woman who had just left as far as he could tell.

Joanna heard the door slam and came out of her bedroom with a robe wrapped around her body in time to see Joanna drive off. She immediate turned to look at Carla, who had come inside after Joanna.

“Don’t look at me I didn’t do it, he did,” she pointed at Matt, who was still perplexed by what had just happened.

“What happened?” Joanna demanded.

“You all seemed so keen to be here for her. All of you talked about Joana and why she needed my help. Like none of you would be here if she hadn’t asked for help. I guess you should have told me that you made her do this,” Matt explained. “Or at least that it was a secret, I thought she knew it was all about her; please tell me the story about the nudist colony was true at least.”

“Mel’s gonna kill us,” Carla looked at Joanna. “Who told him it was a nudist colony for fucks sake?”

“Mel’s on location until Monday which is why she swapped days with you this week remember?” Joanna shook her head. “You know Jojo will just bottle it up and not talk to anyone. We’ll go over tonight and make it right again. You get the wine, and I’ll get the pizza,” Joanna said, and Matt rolled his eyes. No wonder these women had weight issues if they used food as a crutch every time something went wrong. He had a plan of his own and if it worked nobody needed to bring her pizza and wine.

He felt like he knew Joanna as well as these ladies, he had heard so much about her this week. He could tell they genuinely loved her but also thought she needed to be looked after, guided and pushed to make her life better. While they each had reasonably well-paying careers, she had been a housewife and mother. She got a job and career after her divorce from the company executive that had traded her for a younger woman. He had expected someone who wanted a life like her successful friends but just couldn’t make it. Now he wasn’t so sure she was the woman they had described to him or that she wanted to be anything other than she was.

“We should probably finish your baseline while you are here,” Matt said to Carla. “Assuming you can talk your friend around and even if you can’t we can start the rest of your programs next week,”

*****

Joanna was miserable. She hadn’t wanted to be there this morning. She had felt bullied and pushed into it by her friends who just wouldn’t let it go, and now she had been rude to a very nice young man who had done nothing more than make conversation with her. It wasn’t his fault that she had become her friend’s pet project, and once again she wished she had have waited to talk to Melanie alone rather than let them all weigh in on her dilemma at the girls night.

She could have reasoned with Melanie alone and talk to her about what she wanted to do instead of being railroaded into getting up at the crack of dawn to let a man half her age weigh her and handle all her wobbly bits. It was humiliating enough to start with but to know that they told him that she wanted to join a nudist colony was the very last straw. She sighed loudly as the embarrassing thoughts crowded her mind. She would have to call him and apologise for her rudeness. It wasn’t his fault after all.

Sitting at her desk, she brought up the email Joanna had sent them all with Matt’s business details before they had committed to the morning fitness test. She assumed that by the start of work he would have finished with their boot camp but worried that she may disturb him if he had gone straight to another client if she called now. She could email him instead, but an emailed apology just didn’t seem as sincere. Stymied by indecision, she went on to her daily work and thought about it some more. Concentrating on a bank of receipts that just didn’t seem to add up she hadn’t noticed the young receptionist approach her just before twelve.

“There’s a man here to see you, Joanna,” she said with a bright smile and it’s not your son or at least he says he isn’t.” She looked at the older woman speculatively.

“It’s probably just some office supply salesman,” Joana said pushing her chair out from her desk and moving towards the front showroom.

“He asked for you by name, and he doesn’t look like any salesman I have ever seen. He is not the suit and tie type, more of a rugged and outdoorsy kind of guy I would say,” she looked over her shoulder. “You haven’t joined a gym have you?”

“Who me?” Joanna laughed dismissing the words. As if the bubbly Brittney would think anyone over thirty should be doing “young people stuff” as she called it which included hanging out at the gym. Joanna walked into the showroom with Brittney and froze as Matt turned to face her.

“Matt? What are you doing here?” she blinked in bewilderment. Perhaps he was mad enough to come for a personal apology. Well, that wasn’t going to happen now, she thought indignantly.

“I was concerned with the way we left things this morning,” he said not assigning blame to her for walking out. “You asked a lot of questions and then didn’t wait for the answers. I thought maybe we could have lunch and talk.”

“Oh Brittney, stop that,” Joanna said seeing the girl looking incredulously at the two of them. “It’s all perfectly innocent I can assure you.” She rolled her eyes and turned back to Matt. “I don’t think there is much to talk about all my questions were rhetorical. I’m sorry to have wasted more of your time.”

“I see, well I’m happy to talk here and let Brittney hear all about our early morning rendezvous if you like, I just thought lunch would be nicer because I have more to talk about even if you don’t,” Matt said in the same frustrated tone she had used with him.

“I don’t know what you want from me,” Joanna said.

“Lunch and a conversation,” Matt replied with a smile.

“Fine, just let me get my bag,” she gave in realising he wasn’t giving up and loathing that this was all occurring not only in front of Brittney but several others who worked in the office and were now curiously peering into reception.

Unhappy with how the initial conversation went and still upset about this morning she snatched her bag from the drawer at the bottom of her desk and marched out into reception and acknowledged him with a nod before walking out of the front door hoping he would follow her.

“We don’t have to do the whole lunch thing she said once they had walked down the street a little way. I’m sorry about leaving like that this morning but I’m not the stupid fat friend that needs to be pitied and cajoled into doing your boot camp that they all make me out to be,” Joana said sadly.

“I think we do need to talk because I think you have your friend’s motivations and me all wrong,” he said.

“I’ve known these women for over thirty years, I’ve known you for two minutes, and you’re going to give me advice about my friends?” Joana scoffed.

“Yep, because sometimes you can be so close to the situation you make assumptions that are wrong. I made assumptions before meeting you, but I am big enough to admit I was wrong and move on to who you really are,” Matt was enjoying the argument. She wasn’t the push over her friends thought she was. They may have been frightened of Melanie’s reaction to Joanna’s walk out, but he wasn’t sure they realised how Joanna obviously felt about being put in that situation. In the same way, she didn’t realise how much they all obviously loved and respected her.

“And who am I really, give me your wisdom. I am sure it will be most enlightening,” sarcasm dripped from her words.

“Look just have lunch with me and if you don’t like what I have to say by the end of it I’ll walk away, and you’ll never have to see me again. I’ll even help you tell our friends you don’t want to do boot camp with them,” Matt tried to negotiate her surrender by giving her an incentive. “Nothing fancy there is a park two streets over where a great food truck sells Brazilian food.”

“I love that place,” she said without thinking then stopped and looked at him again. He seemed like a nice young guy, and she had been nothing but rude and horrible to him. He was just trying to save the work he was getting with their boot camp and she couldn’t blame him for that. She turned and started walking in the direction of the park with him keeping pace alongside her. “Have you been to Brazil?” she asked.

“Nah I haven’t been anywhere yet,” he lamented. “I was a slow learner when it came to working out what I wanted to do with my life,” he admitted.

“Looks like you’ve got a plan now. Running your own business can’t be easy,” Joanna made small talk as they walked.

“It’s harder than I thought it would be that’s for sure, but I imagine once things get going, and I get some good reviews or word of mouth recommendations it will pick up quite nicely. ‘Til then I work the odd day in construction with my old crew, and that’s kinda fun now rather than the slog it used to be,” he knew being an open book would help her to talk to him about what was going on in her head. “Do you like your job?” He asked.

“Yeah, I know it’s not as glamourous as some of the other girls,” she said assuming he was judging her. “It’s a cosy family atmosphere there. We all get along and look out for each other. It’s nice to feel like you belong somewhere and are appreciated just for who you are,” she smiled.

“Even Brittney?” he raised an eyebrow sceptically.

“Especially Brittney. I just love her. She young and totally clueless but she has a good heart you know? She’s never purposefully hurt another living soul.” Joanna spoke of the receptionist with a smile. “She makes me laugh.”

“Sounds like a great place to work, the glamorous lifestyle isn’t all it’s cracked up to be,” he said then amended his statement to add. “I’m guessing that, though. I’m not the glamorous type myself.”

“Oh I don’t know you could be a fitness model if you wanted to,” she looked at him.

“I meant it’s just not my thing,” he shrugged. “I just want to build the business up enough make a decent living and do the things I want to do in my free time.”

They got to the food van and ordered as the conversation went into a lull. Once they sat at one of the little plastic tables in the sun Matt broached the subject of what had happened that morning.

“Your friends have never said anything negative about you or the fact that you want to attend your son’s unusual wedding. I was joking this morning trying to put you at ease, and I am concerned that you took it the wrong way and blamed them,” he said putting down the skewer he had finished.

“I can’t imagine why they would have even told you about the wedding,” Joanna pushed her food away and sat back in her chair looking at him.

“I asked about the motivation for you all doing a boot camp together. They said they were all interested in getting fitter and that the invitation from your son just made them make the decision to start now. They didn’t say they were there just for you, more that you the catalyst the bring them together to start,” he explained. “Honestly, I didn’t even get told more than that your son was having a naturalist wedding, I probably shouldn’t have joked about the nudist colony, I’m sorry. I didn’t realise it was a sensitive issue,” he added bending the truth about how much they had told him about her.

“I think you’re probably strategically editing what they said quite a bit,” she laughed. “Did they send you here to talk me into doing the boot camp after all?”

“They don’t know I’m here,” he admitted. “I think they are planning on ambushing you tonight before Melanie calls to find out how you went.” He paused as she seemed surprised by this. “They seem to be concerned about her reaction to you walking out this morning.”

“Mel wanted to do the same day as me for this initial fitness test,” she smiled. “She had to do Monday though, and so did Tricia because of her shift work. I could come any day, and it was only for the initial session. So it wasn’t a big deal to me. Mel and I could go together once or twice a week after that depending on the days we chose.”

“So she’ll probably be disappointed you didn’t do the baseline and won’t have a program like the rest of them?” Matt nudged her slightly towards the goal he was wanting.

“I doubt it,” she lied and looked away from him. He seemed like a genuinely nice young man, but she didn’t want him handling her body, measuring all her bits and pieces and writing it down for everyone to see. “Kylie will probably be pissed that I won’t be there but more because she wanted to do the diet side and hound me about my food choices and comfort eating,” she admitted.

“You can eat what you want as far as I am concerned as long as you are doing enough exercise to wear off the kilojoules,” he said. “What Kylie does is important in its way, particularly if people have allergies or specific medical needs, but everything in moderation is the best way to go. If you starve yourself of the things you love you will just end up binging in the end,” he chuckled. “I once sat down and ate a whole bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken just because I had been resisting the temptation for so long, when if I had have had one piece now and then I probably wouldn’t have craved it as much.” He chuckled, “The thing is I don’t even particularly like it as fast food, so it was even more stupid.”

“I wonder if that excuse would work for wine. I could tell people that I just have one now and then so I don’t end up binge drinking, like when we came up with this terrible idea,” she laughed making him smile. She had a nice laugh, and her whole face lit up like a light had suddenly been turned on behind her eyes and smile.

“I could write you a trainer’s note prescribing it if you decide to work with me after this morning,” he grinned grabbing the opening he saw in her words. “I could come over to your place after you’ve finished work and get the baseline data we started this morning. That way you could have a program ready to go with your friends next week,” he hung the offer out there unsure if she would take it or not. “It might stop them all hounding you about it if you do it on your terms.”

“I guess you’re right. About the nagging anyway,” she agreed. “I know I will probably just give in eventually it may as well be on my terms as you say.” She sighed and looked at him.

“Great so if you give me your address and a time to be there I promise not to make any further jokes or make you feel uncomfortable in any way,” he said earnestly.

“I am sorry about this morning, I think I was just feeling bullied into doing it in the first place and when you joked about the reason it just felt like they had been talking about poor frumpy Joanna the way they always seem to,” she admitted. “Thank you for coming and clearing that up for me,” she said meaning it. She gave him her address and agreed on five thirty as a good time for him to arrive. He had walked her back to work before leaving, and she had gone back to the pile of receipts on her desk feeling less miserable than she had when she arrived that day.

“Joanna that guy who was in earlier,” Brittney asked about an hour later. “Do you know what gym he goes to? He looks familiar.”

“I don’t think he belongs to a gym,” Joanna looked up from her work. “I can ask him when I see him tonight though if you like.” She added teasing the young girl and waiting for the accusation.

“Shit, Joanna! I never took you for a cougar,” Brittney said aghast.

“I’m not,” Joanna laughed, “I can see how you would think that because who wouldn’t want all this sexiness,” she shimmied her shoulders. “But no, there’s nothing going on. We’re just working on a project together with some old school friends of mine.”

“Yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking,” Brittney nodded. “He’s way too hot to be chasing grannies,” she said without meaning it to sound the way it did. Joanna didn’t take offense but realised that she’d made the right decision letting Matt come and do the baseline with her. She needed a makeover in a big way if people were starting to refer to her as a granny so maybe it was time for some changes.

She watched the young woman walked out of her office and wondered what sort of people Brittney dated. She never spoke about a boyfriend, but there had to be one the girl was cute and very attractive. If Joanna had have been a man, she would have been falling over herself to spend time with the lovely young woman.

******

“You know you’re in better shape than most of your friends?” Matt asked as he put his measuring tape away and made a note in his book. “Sometimes people who have been naturally slim all their lives gain weight but still don’t appear unfit. Because of their lack of muscle tone they have less fitness than someone like yourself who has more muscle density,” he tried to give her the information in terms she could understand so that she wouldn’t scoff at him and accuse him of pandering to her.

“Are you up to doing a little bit of flexibility assessment?” He asked cautiously knowing that this was confronting for her. She’s blushed and made excuses all the way through the measurement part of the baseline assessment even though he hadn’t said a word. The truth was if she didn’t wear such oversized, baggy clothes that she would look half the size she did on a daily basis. She had quite a good figure underneath all those layers of material.

“I guess I’ve come this far, we may as well get it all done,” she agreed. Having gotten to know him a little over lunch and then again this afternoon had put her at ease, and she didn’t feel so embarrassed about her size and level of fitness with him as she had this morning. She followed his lead through a series of stretches and lunges. She surprised herself by not finding any of them too difficult and laughed with him as he showed her that he couldn’t touch his toes and that it was a poor test of flexibility.

Although he had found Joanna and talked her into doing this baseline assessment with him because he wanted the business, she and her friends would give him; he found himself warming to Joanna. He was genuinely enjoying the time they spent together tonight and found himself appreciating her warm and open personality. She wasn’t the pushover her friends thought she was despite her insecurities about being compared to them. She also had a wicked sense of humour and a dry sarcasm that often took him by surprise.

“Tell me about your son,” Matt encouraged as they continued to move from basic stretches through some of the more complicated yoga poses that tested her sense of balance as well. “Do you only have one child?”

“Yes, Justin was an only child. We called him our baby bear. He was a great kid, studied hard and played in the first fifteen at school. He made it into University, and as he started living his life, he moved further and further away. Of course, he had to, he’s a marine biologist,” she smiled.

“Does he work on the reef?” Matt asked.

“He did his final thesis on Sharks and stingrays and spent most of his time with a research crew out in the bay which was nice and handy, but he moved up north to the reef when a job offer came up a few years ago. He met his finance up there, and I think I knew he wouldn’t ever come home again,” she said wistfully. “He lives on an island now, off the grid, he calls it. No phone or internet so I have to wait until he calls me or checks his mail at work to contact him, which is less than ideal,” she gave a sad smile. “I miss him a lot.”

“You still have your husband right?” He’d been told she was divorced but felt like he owed it to her to tell her own story.

“I’m sure Carla at least told you I was divorced now,” she turned to look at him, and she saw her walls starting to go back up.

“I realise that your friends didn’t give me the full story about you, so I’d rather hear about you from the source,” he said easily berating himself for the small lie she had caught him out on.

“We grew apart, bickered a lot especially when Justin moved out, and we were stuck together with no buffer. He was our common ground in the end and without him, we had nothing to hold us together,” she shrugged. “Usual story I guess, he left, and I didn’t have anyone to cook and clean for anymore, and I needed money, so I went out, did a course to get some better skills and got a job through a friend of a friend.”

“Sounds like you are doing pretty well then. A lot of people I know couldn’t have picked themselves up and started a new career. You don’t even sound bitter about the divorce like so many of the people I know. So why are you hiding?” he asked trying to make the question light.

“I’m not hiding,” she said defensively brushing her hair back from her face.

“I only met you today, so it was just an observation. I didn’t mean anything by it. I just mean that you have a great figure but you hide it behind baggy clothes even at work. They make you look bigger than you actually are,” he explained.

“I guess I’m at an age where comfort wins over style,” she tried not to take his words personally.

“Try some yoga pants for the boot camp next week. You will be surprised at how comfortable they are, probably more comfortable than your sweats even,” he suggested still stretching into yet another pose.

“I’m not sure anyone wants to see me in yoga pants,” she laughed.

“Why not? You have a good figure. You just hide it. I guarantee you’ll look and feel better in yoga pants than some of your friends,” he shrugged. “You’ll be more comfortable if nothing else,” he chuckled watching her hitch up her over-sized shirt as it restricted her from the movement they were doing.

“Any other sage advice, oh wise one?” she asked.

“You have an awesome smile that lights up your whole face, but you seem always to put your head down, so people don’t get to see it. Maybe try looking at people when you smile. Who knows they may smile back,” he grinned at her.

“I don’t do that,” she smiled but immediately lowered her head.

“No?” he questioned meaningfully. Deciding not to say anything else unless he pushed him.

“So you don’t like my clothes or the way I smile,” she said ignoring the question in his voice. “Anything else?”

“I never said I didn’t like your clothes, and I just told you that you had an amazing smile,” he laughed at her immediate assumption that he was criticising because he didn’t like it. “You asked why I think you hide, and I was explaining that you hide your figure behind ill-fitting clothes, you hide your smile by lowering her head and letting your hair fall forward around your face.” He stood up and looked at her. “I wasn’t criticising, I was just asking a question, and suggesting some yoga pants which will be easier to work out in.”

“Oh, well I’m not hiding, I’m just comfortable rather than stylish,” she smiled and willed herself not to lower her head.

“Okay, but think about the yoga pants for me. Maybe a shirt too, you almost fell once or twice while fixing that big shirt you’re wearing tonight. Safety first,” he said easily. “Feeling loose and relaxed after those stretches?”

“I am,” she said slightly surprised by the question. She twisted her neck from side to side and feeling looser across the shoulders and upper back than she had in a long time. “My neck and shoulders feel really good,” she added.

“Too much time at your desk and on the computer with a bad chair and posture probably. I can help with that if you like,” he offered. He picked up his book to make a few final notes.

“I didn’t realise, I just thought it was part of getting older,” she frowned. “Are we done for tonight?”

“Yeah, you can relax now. I’ll just pack up my stuff and let you enjoy the rest of your evening,” he said closing the book he wrote in. “I’ll email you all your training plans and a schedule of when and where I am available. Joanna is keen to have one or two morning sessions at her house by the river which is good for me. It’s a nice to be on the water sometimes.”

“Would you like a drink or anything?” she offered.

“No I should take off before your friends arrive to ambush you,” he winked finding that he was regretting not taking the invitation but trying to remain professional with these women.

“Having them find you here would save me having to explain,” Joanna said.

“True but then you may have to explain other things like why and even how you kept a handsome young guy like me locked up here until they arrived,” he winked at her again and she burst out laughing.

“You don’t think they would believe I have become a cougar?” She continued to laugh.

“We could make them wonder about it I guess,” he laughed. “I’ll stay and hurry out as if caught with my hand in the cookie jar if you go shopping tomorrow for something better to work out in,” he said holding out his hand as if making a deal.

She looked at his hand dubiously before taking it, “Something better not necessarily yoga pants,” she negotiated making him laugh.

“Okay I would love a drink, what have you got?” he asked.

She had light beer in the fridge as always in case she had guests and poured herself a glass of wine. They sat in her small living room and chatted more about her lives. Matt talked about his friend Steve who had suggested he make this a career rather than slogging it out in construction. They’d been talking for some time before Joanna realised Steve was an older man rather than someone Matt’s age.

Carla and Joanna arrived about fifteen minutes later, and Matt stood leaving his empty bottle on the coffee table and pretended to look guilty, explaining that he had given Joanna personal service in getting her baseline measurements, and he would email them all a schedule for next week. Then he grabbed his bag and headed for the door.

He stopped before getting to the door as if remembering something and turned back to where the two startled women stood with Joanna. He dropped his bag and slid an arm around her waist pulling her to him and kissed her. It wasn’t a deep or passionate kiss, but he turned their bodies away from her friends so they couldn’t see anything but the fact that he had grabbed her and kissed her. He winked at her and grinned as he let her go, then he picked up his bag and left the house chuckling to himself about the look on all three of the women’s faces.

It hadn’t been in his plan to do that, but the casual dismissal of him being there alone with her as anything other than business had bothered him. She was a smart, sassy, attractive woman, why wouldn’t he be interested in her if she had tried to seduce him. He suddenly worried about what her reaction would be but hoped that she realised he was just playing along with her game and meant nothing by it.

He considered whether he had meant nothing by it. He’d certainly wanted to kiss her although until that moment it hadn’t crossed his mind. He liked her and found her easy to talk to, and while she wasn’t his usual type after spending quite a bit of time talking to her today, he found himself liking her more and more.

He was used to women who approached him. He couldn’t remember the last time he had to work to get attention from a woman he was interested in. “Was he interested in Joanna?” he asked himself. It didn’t matter if he was, he told himself. This was business, and it needed to stay that way regardless of the fact that remembering her smile and laugh tonight made him grin like a goofy teenager.

*****

Joanna sat at her desk the next day smiling to herself. It didn’t matter how many times she had protested her innocence the night before, her friends who seemed so ready to dismiss Matt’s presence in her house when they first arrived, wouldn’t believe it was nothing more than a joke that Matt had played on all of them after he had kissed her.

She knew it was a joke, and she wasn’t so much of a prude that she was concerned that it meant more than it did. She’d asked him to stay as a way to explain to her friends that they didn’t have to worry about her quitting the boot camp. She hadn’t even considered kissing him. Now she couldn’t stop thinking about it.

She considered her end of the bargain though and hated the thought of shopping for exercise wear. She had agreed, though, so during her lunch break, she walked down to the local shopping mall. She wasn’t even sure where to start with something like this so we walked into one of the big sports stores and hoped she could find a sales assistant.

“Excuse me?” Joanna approached a tall, athletic woman wearing one of the store name tags.

“How can I help?” the woman turned and asked surveying the woman in front of her.

“I’ve just starting going to a boot camp and the instructor says I will be more comfortable in yoga pants?” she made it sound like a question hoping that the woman would suggest an alternative.

“Good for you,” the woman’s face changed realising the woman was not here for sports equipment for her children as she had assumed. “We have a large range over here,” she said leading the way across the large shop floor to the far wall.

“You’d be a medium, so have a look at this rack here or if you want something with extra padding you can look at this rack over here,” she pointed out two areas.

“I think I’m more of a large,” Joanna corrected the woman. “Also could you tell me why I might want to pad my yoga pants?”

“People who do a lot of cycling like it, triathletes or if you are doing a spin class,” the woman answered. Then she looked Joanna up and down once again and shook her head. “You’d be a medium or even a small in some brands. Here try these on they are a popular brand and should give you a good idea of the sizing,” she led Joanna to a dressing a dressing room picking up several other items on the way. “With a bust like yours I would also suggest a good sports bra, or you could hurt yourself if it’s a tough workout or if you’re planning on skipping or doing Zumba. We have some shirts with bra’s built into them, but I wouldn’t recommend them for you. Try the pants on and I will find a few other things that might suit your body shape.”

Joana slipped her skirt off and pulled the tight lycra pants up her thighs and nestled them over her hips. She lifted her blouse and looked at herself. She may as well be wearing just her underwear as they were tight enough to show off every lump and bump along with her underwear beneath the pants.

“How are we going?” the sales assistant opened the curtain to her change room without warning. “Definitely a medium, a large would bunch and become uncomfortable, but you’ll have to give up wearing those granny panties and get something a bit more suitable, like a thong or G-string.” She handed Joanna a few sports bras and activewear shirts. “It was a bit hard to judge your size because your shirt is far too big for your body, it hangs oddly off your shoulders.” The woman reached in and tugged at the shirt smoothing it over her shoulders and down her sides pulling it in at the waist to get a better idea for sizing. “Try these to start with,” she instructed.

Joanna looked in the mirror as the curtain closed again and frowned. She liked her loose, comfortable wardrobe. She couldn’t understand why all these fit, beautiful people were trying to tell her she was wearing the wrong size. The shirt fit her. It was a little large across the shoulders but not so much that it was all that noticeable. She reasoned with her reflection that two people were not all people, but she was suddenly conscious of it. The way the assistant had touched her in such a familiar way had made her feel awkward if it had been a male assistant she would have almost felt violated.

The woman’s dominating presence reminded her of Melanie, and she wondered if she was back from her filming yet. Maybe if she talked to Melanie about how she was feeling about this whole get in shape thing and the clothes she needed she could make it seem better somehow. She always had a way of making her feel better. She quickly tried on the range of bras and tops she had been given and chose two of the longer versions and the pants that she had on plus a similar pair before she changed back into her work clothes. She paid for her purchases and taking the extra time she went into a nearly intimate apparel shop and looked at the thongs and G-strings.

“Looking for something in particular,” a vivacious young shop assistant came toward her.

“Something discrete to wear under lycra yoga pants,” Joanna laughed.

“Those are good, but you can still see them,” she said indicating the rack of thongs Joanna was looking at. “What I wear is the new wonder wear, it’s good for extra support, and it looks great under jeans and pants as well,” she walked over to a different rack. “They have the seamless bras as well, which for women like us is a plus,” she smiled and puffed out her large bosom.

“Do you want to try some on to see how comfortable they are?” she asked.

“I don’t have time,” Joanna looked at her watch as if that reinforced her words. “I might just take the chance and get a set,” she started to look through the rack and pulled out two pairs of underwear and a bra.

The woman looked at her and frowned then tactfully suggested that she might want a snug fit if she was going to wear them under exercise wear and maybe going down a size was a good idea. She explained the exchange policy just in case Joanna needed to exchange them and offered a complimentary bra fitting to ensure she got the exact size she needed next time.

Joanna raced back to work dumping the bags next to her desk and took a deep breath before restarting her computer and getting back into the work she needed to get done before the weekend. Brittney had followed her into the back office and eyed the bags suspiciously.

“Whose birthday is it?” She asked.

“Did I forget someone’s birthday?” Joanna asked and immediately checked her diary for a co-workers birthday reminder.

“Sportswear and intimate apparel? I’m assuming they are presents for someone because you’re a little old and out of shape for both of those, aren’t you?” Brittney said as a statement of fact not to be insulting.

“My friends talked me into this boot camp thing,” Joanna confessed rather than laughing it off like she normally did. “The trainer told me I needed yoga pants then the woman who sold them to me told me I needed a thong, and then the underwear sales girl told me I needed wonder wear, and honestly,” she looked up at the young woman. “I have no idea if I need or want any of it, but there it is.”

“Seriously? That’s awesome!” Brittney bubbled. “I’ve always thought you needed a makeover. You can’t possibly be as old as you look. You should go on one of those six-week change challenges. Every week pick something to change about yourself, just little things, but they all add up over six weeks to make a huge impact. I’ll even do it with you if you like,” she exclaimed enthusiastically.

“Brittney I’m too old for a change challenge, and I am only doing this because my friends bullied me into it,” Joana sighed but had only been thinking about a makeover that morning.

“Oh come on it will be fun, we’ll spend a couple of hours together outside work once a week, I promise only small changes. You know, like some new work clothes, a new hairstyle maybe or some new shoes,” she looked down at Joanna’s feet under the desk and pulled a face. “Please, please, please, please, my mother won’t even consider trying something new. Her style isn’t even retro it’s more like relics.” She said dramatically. “I’ve been dying to do this with someone old. It’ll be fun, I promise!”

“Twenty-four hours ago everyone just ignored me, and that worked for me,” Joanna sighed and looked up at Brittney as her enthusiasm began to turn to disappointment. “Okay fine, but I don’t want to end up as mutton dressed as lamb.”

“Yay!” Brittney clapped. “Let’s have lunch together on Monday, and we can work out what we want to do.” She walked back out to reception leaving Joanna to try and concentrate on her work.

Joanna was seriously looking forward to going home and curling up with a book for the weekend. She wasn’t sure if next week was going to be a challenge or a gruelling trial on several levels. As she thought about it, Matt and the kiss he had given her fluttered into her mind again. She wished Melanie was back so she could talk to her about everything that had happened this week.

*****

Joanna was one of those people that didn’t need to have constant company. She never felt lonely or bored. There was always something to keep her busy, and her mind occupied. After a week where she felt like her world had been turned upside down she had needed a quiet weekend to recharge her batteries and prepare for the week ahead. She had done a very quick grocery shop on her way home on Friday afternoon so she wouldn’t have to leave the house at all for the full two days.

Sunday afternoon she was sitting on the back patio with a cool glass of wine and the book she was enjoying when she heard her front door open and close. Only two people had a key to her home, Justin, who was up north in heaven with Tom and Melanie, who she hadn’t heard from since she left for a shoot on location on Monday night.

“Hello?” she called back into the house.

“You know if you answered your phone I wouldn’t have to come all the way over here and break in like a bandit just to see you,” Melanie called back as she walked through the house to the kitchen and put the phone back on the hook.

“I just needed some time to think and be by myself. You have no idea what it was like for me this week,” Joanna picked up her glass of wine and walked back into the kitchen where Melanie handed Joanna her mobile phone after turning it on. Then she had opened the refrigerator and inspected the contents as she put two new bottles of wine in and pulled out the open bottle of wine before speaking again.

“Alright so tell me about it because I’ve heard everyone else’s versions,” she laughed filling up a glass. “Have we got any nibbles to go with this?”

“On the patio,” Joanna said unsure of what Melanie had been told. “So what have you heard?”

“Let’s see. Well, Carla’s version is simply that you have successfully transitioned into a cougar and seduced the hot trainer before she could sink her claws into him. She didn’t seem very happy about that even though she said it was about time you got back on the horse,” Melanie gave her a sly smile and waited for her to protest her innocence.

“People believe what they want to believe,” Joanna shrugged neither confirming or denying the story knowing Melanie wouldn’t have come before talking to Joanna as well.

“Joanna seems to think it might have been a bit of a joke but,” she paused to sip her drink. “They both say he kissed you goodbye in a way was totally inappropriate for a trainer and client relationship.”

“I see,” Joanna still said nothing knowing it would drive her friend insane. “So you’re up to date then. How was the shoot you’ve been at all week?”

“Well, I did get to kiss two hot young guys, as well as an older man,” she admitted. “So I guess if you tell me yours I’ll tell you mine,” she gave her a slow, sly smile again.

“It’s a long story,” Joanna tried to dismiss the kiss with a wave of her hand.

“I’ve got the time. I’m not working tomorrow. Did I mention I was staying at your place this week? I dropped my bags into the spare room as I came in.” Melanie took advantage of the open invitation and key she had to her friend’s little bayside bungalow. “I’ve always liked your place much better than mine, and there’s a bit of a media blitz at the moment since I snogged a mega rich guy for the fun of it. How was I supposed to know he was some eccentric billionaire that was chairing some Greenpeace conference up there?”

“Oh God. Tequila?” Joanna asked, knowing tequila was often the reason for her friend’s bad decisions.

“Probably, I’m a little foggy on that part,” Melanie admitted.

“Well I have to work tomorrow, and when I get around to checking my email, I am half expecting we will have boot camp in the morning,” Joanna sighed.

“No one is that cruel that they would do that to us on a Monday morning surely,” Melanie became indignant. “I’m not going if it is on, regardless. So tell me this long story.”

Joanna recalled the story of how horrible she had felt when she showed up at Joanna’s and how things had swiftly spiralled out of control. Then of Matt arriving at work and taking her for lunch. She explained how comfortable she was with him and that they talked about their lives and friends while she got the baseline data done. Then how he had stayed just to explain that she had caved in and joined the boot camp torture after all and how he had kissed her as a joke to make them wonder what was going on.

“Well points for him then, he was totally professional with Tricia and me,” Melanie said. “He asked what we did for exercise and what we were comfortable with. He was nice but it was all business,” she seemed to think about this. “So did you hold up your end of the bargain?”

“Yes I went shopping yesterday, and it was a nightmare,” Joanna groaned. “On top of that when I got back to work Brittney saw all my shopping and pushed me into agreeing to a makeover, but she called it a change challenge I think to soften the blow.”

“Darling I love you to death but let’s face it you haven’t bought anything new since Justin left home and stopped taking you shopping. That boy always had impeccable taste,” she smiled. “You could use someone young to challenge you again.”

“My world has spun way out of control this week,” she shook her head.

“It’s for a good reason, though,” Melanie reached over and touched her arm. “The two young men I kissed were Justin and Tom. They want you at the wedding so badly. They want you to be part of their lives and to be comfortable enough to go up and visit them on their island. All of this upheaval you’re feeling right now is for a good reason not just because people are being mean all of a sudden. It all started with you wanting to be there for Justin.”

“You saw Justin and Tom?” Joanna’s face lit up and she placed her hand over Melanie’s where it rested on her arm.

“I even took photos to show you,” Melanie picked up her phone. She scrolled through and handed the phone to Joanna. “Speaking of being challenged I promised to get you there even if that meant I had to come with you.”

“You’d come with me? Birthday suit and all?” Joanna looked up from the phone unbelievingly. Her friendship with Melanie had survived so long because she could be anonymous here and sure of her privacy no matter what happened, her fame was never a barrier to doing the normal things in life here on the bay with her friend. “What if the media find out?”

“Who’s going to tell them? You? No one else knows I’ve invited besides Justin and Tom, and I trust them,” she said seriously. “I will get you there, but I am glad you have started the whole change challenge thing on your own. Now I can sit back and just be the cheer squad like you always have been for me.”

They talked their way through the rest of the original bottle of wine and decided to have a last splurge on pizza before beginning the three-month challenge between now and the wedding. After ordering the pizza delivery online, Joanna checked her email and found three from Matt.

The first email was to the whole group detailing a schedule of one session a day. Monday and Wednesday afternoons at the park near where she worked and Tuesday and Thursday mornings at Joanna’s house on the river. Also, he had put a Saturday morning session time and place to be decided. His notes included that he expected each of them to try and make at least three sessions a week but could do a make-up session on a Friday afternoon for those who found it difficult to make the weekday sessions due to other commitments.

The second email had detailed her personal plan and had suggested that she try to attend all of the sessions due to the time frame of her son’s wedding. There was a small note that he was happy to help her with her nutrition if she was uncomfortable in seeking Kylie’s advice after their talk. Both of those emails had been sent that morning. She looked at the third email and saw that it had been sent Friday evening.

“Dear Joanna,” she read. “I called to apologise if I overstepped the mark last night when your friends arrived. Your phone doesn’t seem to be working, so I am hoping you are at least checking your email tonight. I enjoyed getting to know you yesterday and thought that you would get as big of a kick out of the kiss in front of your friends as I did. I look forward to seeing you on Monday in yoga pants. Matt.”

“More points for Matt,” Melanie said from her position where she had been reading over Joanna’s shoulder. “I think I better check out what you bought now and make sure they don’t perpetuate this frumpy middle-aged woman thing you’ve had going on for the last few years.”

“I am a frumpy middle-aged woman,” Joanna laughed. “There’s no getting around that, my age is on my driver’s license.”

“So’s mine but you wouldn’t catch me dressing like one,” Melanie laughed with her. “Come on show me, you know I will just go and see for myself anyway. It’s probably better that I don’t go rummaging in your room on my own and find your secret stash of sex toys or something.”

They spent the rest of the night drinking wine and eating pizza and talking about the three-month challenge Joanna had set herself, or been pushed into depending on whose version of events you listened to. She protested the fact that she had set it for herself and Melanie had promised to be on the journey with her as she wasn’t one hundred percent confident going nude without the movie magic tricks and airbrushing that would accompany her screen appearances and still shots.

Once again Melanie had made Joanna feel good about the changes going on in her life and even look forward to the challenge in a strange way. She loved her more than a sister and she was glad she was prepared to go on the journey to public nudity with her. While she was happy to be back in touch with the other women who had been her school friends, it was Melanie that she had remained close friends with for over thirty years, and she treasured the fact that she had her in her life.

*****

Joanna had difficulty getting out of bed the following morning, and she envied the still sleeping Melanie as she left for work. When Brittney had talked to her about the challenge, she had embraced the young woman’s bubbly enthusiasm. She’d never had a daughter to share these kinds of experiences with, and she hoped to impart some of her wisdom with the young woman as they got to know each other better. She was a nice girl with a big heart but totally clueless about how to interact with the older generation or that some of the things she said were quite offensive at times even though she didn’t mean them the way they sounded.

She’d worn a loose skirt and blouse in the hopes that she could change before she left work and wear the active wear under her normal clothes until she got to the park rather than having the people in the office seeing her half undressed. Or at least that’s how she felt when she wore the tight-fitting pants and long clinging shirt. Lycra was definitely not in her comfort zone, at least not yet anyway.

Melanie arrived as the business was closing to meet Joanna and ran into the bubbly Brittney. “I’m here to pick up Joanna if she’s ready,” she said in a quiet voice that bordered on a stage whisper.

“Sure do you want to look around the showroom while you wait or would you like me to show you through to her office?” Brittney offered, looking the woman over. “You know you look just like Melanie Rush,” Brittney said. “The resemblance is uncanny. You could get a job as one of those look-alikes,” she advised.

“Gosh I would love to look that good at her age,” Melanie said aghast. “You realise she’s almost fifty! It’s amazing how good she looks on camera,” she gave a small soft laugh.

“She is? Wow,” Brittney looked seriously stunned. “I wouldn’t have thought she was that old.” Her brow creased as she thought about it. “I’ll let Joanna know you’re here,” she turned and led the way into the back office. “Your friend Lainie is here,” she announced walking into the back office where Joanna finished up for the day.

“Lainie!” Joanna said in surprise at both the sight of her friend and the name she used.

“I came to make sure you were going to boot camp, but you don’t look ready to me,” Melanie said.

“I’m ready,” Joanna said and flashed her yoga pants by hitching her skirt up slightly. “I can’t exactly wear this stuff on its own here at work.”

“Okay, well let’s go then, and see who else shows up,” Melanie said with a grin. The two women farewelled Brittney and walked out to their separate cars.

They arrived at the park, and Joanna quickly stripped off her work clothes and picked up the program he had set for her, a towel and a water bottle from the back seat of her car. Feeling awkward she held her hands and the items in front of her like a shield as she walked over to where Melanie now stood with some of the other girls.

“Shit! Were we supposed to bring our plans?” Donna asked as she saw Joanna approaching them.

“Don’t ask me I’ve never done this before,” Joanna said. “I didn’t know what to bring so I brought everything I could think of.”

“She was always over prepared, like a girl guide or boy scout or whatever,” Melanie laughed.

They all looked up as Matt jogged over to them. “I love the short track in this park,” he said. We’ll make that covered table over there our home base in the afternoons,” he pointed to a picnic table within a hut like structure except without the walls. “Come on over and we’ll get you all started with some stretches anyone running late can catch up,” he instructed with a smile and turned to jog off in the direction of the hut.

The site he had chosen was at the front of the big park near the carpark and seemed a fairly safe place to leave their towels and water bottles. “I’ll look after your keys he offered picking up a small backpack and opening it before holding it out to take their keys then he put it on his back where it rested snugly between his shoulder blades.

The five women who had been on time began a series of stretches to warm up and were almost done when Carla arrived making her apologies. Matt sent the other women on a run along the short track giving them specific directions and saying if they felt it was too much just to walk the last half. Then he turned to take Carla’s keys and begin her warm up stretches.

Kylie ran on ahead with Donna trying to keep up while Elizabeth hung back with Melanie and Joanna, who jogged slowly and slowed to a walk fairly quickly. They heard the footfalls behind them and began to jog a minute again before Matt came into their view leading the puffing Carla, who did not look like she was handling the pace at all.

“Come on Ladies or we’ll be here all night,” he said and jogged past them.

“Bastard isn’t even out of breath,” Carla muttered catching up to them and slowing to their speed. “That’ll teach me for being late. Nice view from here, though,” she grinned watching him jog ahead of them.

Joanna found that with her friends there grumbling and seeming to struggle more than she did that she didn’t hate boot camp nearly as much as she thought she would. In fact, she didn’t hate it at all. She found that the outdoor gym equipment was relatively easy to use once it had been explained to her what on earth it was used for. She had seen outdoor gym equipment before alongside the children’s play equipment and had wondered what purpose it could hold.

“Do you think he was just going easy on me because of my tantrum last week?” she asked Melanie as they crossed paths moving from one piece of equipment to another.

“Maybe he likes you, likes you,” she gave a girlish giggle. “You always were the teacher’s pet at school.”

“I was not,” Joanne protested good-naturedly. “I just wasn’t as naughty as you.” She poked her tongue out as Melanie pulled a face at her.

“Everything alright here ladies?” Matt asked with a barely disguised smile.

“Sure the teacher’s pet was just telling me how easy she was finding your work out,” Melanie said sweetly. “Maybe you should step it up a notch or two and make her suffer a bit more like the rest of us.”

“That’s not what I said at all!” Joanna poked her tongue at Melanie. “She’s just cranky that she hasn’t got to see me fall in a heap yet. She lives to see me fail,” She said sadly. “I’m the duff in this group. It’s my job to make her, and them, look good.”

“It was one double date thirty years ago, get over it all ready,” Melanie huffed exaggeratedly. “You are not the duff.”

“It scarred me for life!” Joanna said moving onto the next piece of equipment. “If I can’t get over it I’m not gonna let you.”

Matt could see they were smiling between jabs at each other. He remembered that it was Melanie who had wanted Joanna to do the baseline with her, but the schedule didn’t permit it. He liked seeing the more relaxed and jovial side of Joanna as the two friends bantered and once again he was taken by the way her smile lit up her face.

He went over to where she was and explained the equipment to her and set her several sets to do before she could move on again. He paid each of the women equal attention and enjoyed being able to use his skills with paying clients rather than the friends he trained with most afternoons.

The boot camp went for a full hour by the time they had warmed down with a few stretches. They seemed to finish at staggered times and both Elizabeth and Donna rushed off to get home to their families. Carla stood talking to Joanna as Melanie grumbled through her final stretches and walked towards them.

“Joanna can you hang back a few minutes,” Matt asked as he handed Melanie her keys and the women gathered their belongings to leave.

“Sure, I guess,” she said turning to Melanie. “You don’t have to wait I can meet you at home.”

“It’s only a few minutes we don’t mind waiting do we?” She asked Carla, who was still standing with them.

“Not at all,” Carla shook her head.

Joanna looked back at Matt and shrugged, “I guess we’re all hanging back a few minutes.”

“Great, the more help, the better. You can carry this, and you can carry this,” he handed the two other women some of the equipment he had brought with him and pointed out his car which was parked not too far away.

“We get the hint,” Melanie laughed, “But I’ve got my eye on you, Matt, so no funny business this time.” She and Carla began walking to the carpark with Matt and Joanna following at a slower pace behind them.

“You didn’t answer any of my emails, is there a problem?” he asked tentatively thinking he might have gone too far with the kiss.

“No, not at all, I just had a technology free weekend, no phones or computers. I didn’t even switch the television on,” she explained. “Melanie arrived last night, so when I saw your emails, I didn’t have the time to write back properly. There’s no problem, honestly. I even enjoyed tonight,” she admitted.

“Well that’s a relief,” he smiled. “I thought maybe I went too far when I kissed you,” he said quietly. “I’m glad you got some proper gear to work out in, you look good,” he said genuinely happy that she had taken his advice.

“I’ll admit you were right about the comfort, but I still feel a bit awkward,” she admitted.

“You shouldn’t you look great,” he said with a smile and lifted the basket of equipment into the car.

“So I’ll see you all at the session tomorrow morning?” Matt asked looking at the three women who now stood nearby.

“Not me, I’m not getting up that early, but I’ll do an extra afternoon one if you do it Friday,” Melanie agreed.

“It’s a bit tough not being able to shower before work,” Joanna prevaricated wanting Melanie to come with her.

“Try to make it okay, you’re the one on a timeline not me or your friends,” he reminded her. “I’ll make it less of an impact session.”

“I’m not usually a morning person, so maybe,” she said carefully without promising anything.

“I’ll make sure she gets there,” Melanie said, “Even if I have to get up and do it with her,” she groaned.

“Great see you both there,” he grinned and turned to Carla. “I’ll see you there too I hope,” he gave her a warm smile, but she noted he didn’t have the enthusiasm he showed with the other two women.

“Yeah, I’m in for the long haul,” she nodded.

“See you tomorrow Carla,” Joanna hugged her friend. “I’m going home to shower and change out of this weirdness into something more comfortable.”

“Ooh lucky me,” Melanie winked at Matt, who laughed and watched the two women walk away.

“Do you feel like getting a drink?” Carla asked him once they were out of earshot.

“I can’t sorry, going to my Nana’s for dinner tonight,” he said easily. “She’s probably already worrying about where I am,” he chuckled.

“Maybe next time,” she said and touched his arm looking up into his face with a soft smile.

“Maybe,” he nodded to agree with her. “Is your car nearby?” He asked feeling uncomfortable. He didn’t want to put her off entirely and offend her. She was a client which meant she was a no go zone.

They were all no-go zones, but there was something about Joanna he had to admit that he couldn’t explain even to himself and he had spent a lot of time thinking about it over the weekend. The only thing he knew for sure was that he wanted to hang out with her and that he had been looking forward to seeing her again all day.

Matt walked Carla to her car and said goodnight, skillfully avoiding a clumsy move on her part to kiss him. As he drove home, he wondered why she would be so aggressive with him when she had seen him kiss Joanna on Thursday night. Maybe he was a challenge to her now or maybe it was some odd competition between the two women. Either way, he didn’t want to risk the good thing he had going working with these women at the moment.

Each of these women was beautiful in their own right but as he thought of Joanna and how she looked tonight he smiled. Maybe it was her insecurities that made her endearing and more attractive to him. She seemed to have a total lack of ego unlike the other women in the group who all seemed so strong and self-assured.

He’d try and talk to her again tomorrow morning about the nutrition side of things. Even with Melanie staying with her he wouldn’t mind going over to talk to her about it and help her come up with a simple eating plan to enhance the workouts. He should probably be grateful that Melanie was staying with Joanna, so he didn’t make a fool out of himself hanging around like a school boy with a crush. Joanna hadn’t given him any indication that she was into him. Once again he wondered why she had captivated so much of his attention.

*****

“Come on lazybones, let’s make something to eat,” Joanna said as she walked out into the living room where Melanie lay sprawled on the lounge.

“It’s done,” Melanie stood up and stretched. “That was the longest shower in history that you just took.”

“Goody, what’d you make?” Joanna asked sceptically. Melanie was not a cook by anyone’s standards.

“Don’t look like that, I’m not totally useless,” Melanie walked into the kitchen and took a salad out of the fridge. I went shopping today because you obviously hadn’t been shopping for a while. Everything is ‘heat and eat’ these days. It’s not exactly cooking, but it works.” She pulled a baking dish from the oven. I had it ready to go and turned it on when we got home.” She dished up a chicken and mushroom strudel with a smile. “We may as well make the most of eating what we like before Kylie gets her hands on you.”

“How do you think Kylie would take it if I didn’t let her manage my diet?” Joanna asked casually as she dished up some salad onto her plate and went to the table.

“She probably wouldn’t mind if you wanted to see someone who lived closer it’s not like it’s easy for you to see her, you both work full time, and she lives on the other side of town from you. The boot camp is pretty central to us all, but anything other than that gets tricky. I think you can make a case for doing your own thing that she would understand. Why?” Melanie asked in return after she had thought about it out loud as she spoke.

“Matt offered and I thought as I will see him every day anyway, it might just be easier. He would probably match it to the program he has set up,” she said as if that was the main reason she was considering it.

“The fact that he’s a hot young guy that is being overly nice to you has nothing to do with it?” Melanie raised an eyebrow.

“Don’t be silly he’s younger than Justin probably,” Joanna shook her head and blushed. “I was just thinking about how pushy Kylie can be about her whole ideology and Matt seems pretty easy going about the nutrition side. Everything in moderation he said when he offered.”

“That seems pretty logical, and I just know Kylie will try and get us to give up wine,” Melanie picked up her glass and dipped it toward Joanna before having a sip. “Are you sure it’s not because you’ve got a thing for the teacher? I remember when Mr. Simons was the reason you got your first and only detention.”

“He’s too young for me, and I’m too old for all that stuff now. It’s been too long. I haven’t been on a date since the eighties. So let’s not even go there,” Joanna laughed.

“Like I said, I think Kylie would understand if she knew you were doing something about it and maybe promised to come by and get her input eventually,” Melanie shrugged considering her friend and not entirely believing her denials about wanting to spend some more time with Matt.

“This is good,” Joanna said indicating the salad and strudel. “Maybe you should take over the diet plans,” she teased her friend as she ate.

“I’m going to have to go home eventually and leave you to fend for yourself but this week of relative quiet is exactly what I need right now, so I don’t mind cooking in return for a hideout. Matt can come over and give us both some tips,” she said trying to suppress a smile. “I mean if there’s nothing between the two of you it won’t hurt if I hang around will it?” The truth was that despite all her teasing she wasn’t sure how she felt about Joanna starting to date again.

“I’d rather if you did now,” Joanna said. “I don’t want people getting the wrong idea. You know you’re welcome to stay here as long as you want or need to,” she said sincerely. Her friend wasn’t a huge celebrity but was well known enough that if she did something stupid it usually ended up on some sort of media.

“I appreciate it,” she said, “We have boot camp in the morning so why don’t you get him to come tomorrow night and I’ll get one of those Jamie Oliver cook yourself things to throw together.”

“I’d rather talk to Kylie first, you know to make sure I’m not stepping on any toes asking for someone else’s help.” Joanna prevaricated.

“So give her a call and remember to offer to let her look over the plan when the two of you can find time to sit down and go through it all,” Melanie suggested. “I can only promise to be your chef this week. My agent has already started to set up a few meetings now that I have said I am staying in town for a couple of months.”

“You’re going to stay home until the wedding?” Joana asked in surprise. “Her friend never stayed anywhere longer than a week at a time unless something was wrong. “What happened up north?” she narrowed her eyes. “You’re okay aren’t you?” She asked realising that the last twenty-four hours had been all about her for a change, and Melanie had said very little about her plans.

“I’m just tired and need a break. I’m letting my agent set up a few meetings, and I’ll read a few scripts, but I feel like I just need some time to get my shit together and think about some stuff I’d like to do. That’s all I promise,” she said. “This get fit challenge thing came along at the right time, I think I am taking the fact that I am almost fifty a bit harder than the rest of you.”

“We’re all feeling it. I guess I have just accepted it better than most. Probably because I had Justin when I was so young,” she shrugged. “Some of the boys he went to school with are married with kids of their own already. Can you imagine me as a grandmother?” she gave a laugh.

“I can imagine that more than being one myself. Honestly, that’s depressing as shit. That makes me think I should get some work done, a bit of a lift and tuck never hurt anyone,” she said stretching the skin back over her face. “I have to face the fact that I’m not as young as I used to be, and the parts I want aren’t just going to fall into my lap when I’m up against women half my age.”

“You’re not serious! You are as beautiful as you always were,” Joanna said giving her friend a stern look and reaching out to hold her hand. “We’ll do this three-month makeover challenge and we’ll both feel and look good enough to walk any red carpet event,” Joanna said assertively, “In the nude!” she added not realising that the tables had been turned on her so easily. “I’ll go and call Kylie now, and we’ll talk to Matt tomorrow morning about coming over for dinner,” she said decisively.

“Gee, I wish I’d suggested that,” Melanie pulled a face and squeezed the hand that held hers. That had been easier than she could have imagined. Rather than Joanna feeling like she was being bullied, the boot camp and diet had become all about helping her through a rough patch now. Chalk one up for her acting skills she thought as she took their dishes to the kitchen and began cleaning up. She wasn’t looking forward to the early mornings she had just signed herself up for, but Joanna had always been there for her, and this was probably only the second time in their lives she could do something positive and life changing for the friend that she loved.

“You were right,” Joanna said ten minutes later as she came back into the now clean kitchen. “Oh thank you for cleaning up but you should have just left it for me, you did all the cooking.”

“There wasn’t much cooking involved, and I am far more domesticated that you give me credit for,” Melanie laughed. “What was I right about this time? You should know by now I am always right, but it’s nice that you’ve rediscovered this fact.”

“Kylie is snowed under with work and was worried about fitting me into her schedule,” Joanna reported. “So it works out for both of us, and she said that if weren’t moving along after a few weeks she would tweak it a bit for me.”

“See, you build these things up to be bigger than what they are,” Melanie shook her head.

“She’s sending me over a few samples of things for us test out, but she sounded relieved not to have find room in her busy schedule for me,” Joanna laughed. “I feel so much better after talking to her. I was dreading having to take her advice. She is so over the top about it all.”

“I bet she would have had us both on Paleo diets too. So she’s not the only one who is relieved,” Melanie grinned. “Do you want another glass of wine?”

“No, I’m good, but you go ahead,” Joanna said. “I might just email Matt rather than try and talk to him in front of everyone tomorrow morning.”

“Probably a good idea if Carla is going to be there. She definitely had her cougar eyes on him tonight,” Melanie said to see how Joanna would react to the idea. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they went for a few drinks after the workout.” She pushed just that little bit further.

“Probably,” Joanna said lightly. “They’re both single, so it makes sense.” She said and walked to the small desk that held her computer. She felt silly that her immediate reaction was one of distaste. He was a genuinely lovely guy trying to build his business up, of course, he was nice to all of her friends. She wondered if he had kissed Carla as the image and feeling of him kissing her filled her mind again. She was being a silly old woman again, and she shook her head to banish the thoughts.

Melanie watched the emotions play over her friend’s face as she thought about the idea and smiled. There was an attraction there whether Joanna wanted to admit it or not. Now she just had to work out where Matt was coming from and dinner tomorrow night was the perfect opportunity. Melanie pushed down her own confused feelings about seeing Joanna become involved with someone new and poured herself another glass of wine.

*****

Kylie had taken up much of Matt’s attention during the early morning boot camp as she quizzed him on all things nutrition before finally agreeing that he was better placed to advise Joanna on an eating plan to make her exercise regime.

While the other ladies had gone about their workouts with only a little input from him to get them motivated and correct some of their positionings for different movements, Carla had become almost hostile toward Kylie as she demanded more and more of his time. His plan to just gently put off her advances was not going to work he realised, and he would need to tell her directly that he was not interested in anything more than a professional relationship or at the most friendship.

Normally he would consider a bit of fun with a woman like Carla, who was attractive and obviously willing, but he was still working through what it was about Joanna that held his attention. He’d messed around with friends before, and it had never worked out well for anyone concerned. Not that he was messing around with Joanna, she hadn’t given him even the slightest indication that she thought of him as anything but a nice guy who she paid to run a workout program for her. Still, he thought if the opportunity arose he didn’t want to have it ruined by a bit of fun with Carla.

That evening as he drove over to her house he wore a smile. He was looking forward to hanging out with her again. He was glad Melanie would be there. Joanna seemed more relaxed and self-assured in the other woman’s presence. It was as if Melanie had the ability to get her to let down all her walls regardless of who else was around. Melanie seemed to have that effect on most of the women in the group, and he could see the group dynamics more easily as she teased and bantered with the other women.

He thought about the group of women trying to imagine how they all became friends at school. They were all so different. He brought his thoughts back to the two women he was having dinner with as he pulled up at the little bungalow right on time. He grabbed a backpack from the passenger’s side before going in. Melanie had asked him to bring wine, but he had also brought an alternative that was just as refreshing with lower calories and hoped they would give it a go.

“Come on in,” Joanna laughed opening the door. “Melanie is cooking up a storm as if to prove she listened to every dietician that she has ever seen in her life. I hope you’re hungry.”

“Great,” he enthused. “I can always eat, especially if it’s home cooking.” He went through and pulled up a stool with Joanna at the kitchen bench that stood between it and the dining room.

“Did you bring the wine?” Melanie asked by way of greeting.

“I did, but I’d like you to try an alternative as well,” he began to empty the small bag he had brought in with him on the bench. “Just hear me out before you judge. Glasses please.” He waited and pulled a wine glass and a tall glass toward him. Placing a shot of vodka into one glass, he poured roughly one hundred millilitres of wine into the other glass barely filling a quarter of the glass.

“There two currently hold the same amount of calories,” he reached over the bench and took a small knife from the block and quartered a lime squeezing one of the pieces into the vodka and dropping it in. Then he added a small splash of wine to the other glass. “Still the same.” He looked at them both the filled the vodka lime mixture with soda water and presented the two glasses. “The kicker is that this one,” he said picking up the vodka drink and taking a sip, “has no carbs while this,” he passed the small glass of wine to Melanie, “does.”

“I’ll have what you’re having I guess,” Joanna said thinking about it. She knew beer had a lot of calories, but she’d never considered wine or spirits as being fattening on any level, other than the sugar of the mixes she usually used with spirits.

“More wine for me,” Melanie topped up her glass and took a sip putting the bottle into the refrigerator while Matt made Joanna a vodka lime and soda.

“Everything in moderation,” he said in response. “You just need to be informed and make smart choices. Then you don’t have to give up anything you like.”

“This wine was a smart choice, Melanie laughed. “Thank you, it’s wonderful.”

“You’re welcome,” he said with a smile. “Dinner smells good, what are we having?”

“Go sit at the table and I’ll start with the entrée,” Melanie said. Joanna was enjoying not having to cook this week and happily went to sit at the table.

Throughout the three-course meal that Melanie provided they talked about his philosophy of everything in moderation and making smart choices. He admitted that Melanie obviously had a handle on this aside from the amount of wine she drank. Joanna asked more about good fats versus bad fats. She knew the basic stuff like more vegetables and less meat and carbs, but it was good to be able to ask whether some of the things she had heard and read were true and get that solid feedback on what she thought was right.

Matt surprised Joanna by offering to help clean up the kitchen before sitting down with the two of them to look at a diet plan and some other tips and tricks he had to help move things along a bit faster.

“Do you do a lot of cooking? Or do you have housemates that tend to do it?” Joanna asked knowing that he was single but not knowing if he lived alone.

“I’m not sure I would describe my Nana as a housemate but she likes to cook, so I don’t deprive her of that on the nights I am home,” he chuckled.

“Oh I didn’t realise you lived with your Nana,” Joanna said taken aback.

“I moved back home after my Granddad died. Just to help her out. My mum was never around much, so they raised me, and I feel I owe them you know?” He asked.

“She must like having a strong young man around the house to help out with the yard and things,” Joanna mused thinking there was more to Matt than she realised.

“Yeah all her friends at her card clubs are jealous that she lives with a man young enough to be her grandson,” he winked. “She seems to omit the point that I am in fact her grandson a bit too often from her conversations there.” He laughed.

“She sounds like a fun lady to live with,” Joanna laughed with him.

“She’s great. You wouldn’t know she was in her seventies. She tells me she still feels my age and aside of a little arthritis she’s fit as a fiddle,” he said proudly showing his deep affection for the woman. “She’s a bit of a fan of Melanie’s do you think Mel would mind meeting her one day?”

“I’m right here,” Melanie said from the dining room. “This place is too small to have conversations you don’t want to be overheard. I’d love to meet her. I’m not sure what my schedules like for next week yet but this week I’m free. We could do lunch or something.”

“That’d be awesome. She plays cards Fridays so what about Thursday?” he asked.

“Sure she can take a few selfies to show the ladies she plays cards with. That should give her something to talk about other than the hot young guy she lives with.” Melanie laughed merrily. “Just tell her not to tell anyone until after the lunch I’m a little media shy at the moment.”

“I won’t even tell her you’re coming. We can leave it as a surprise. Then you don’t have to worry,” Matt suggested.

“Thanks, I know it’s a bit of a prima donna move but the media can be a bit feral at times,” she took another sip of her wine.

“Between the amount movie success and television roles you’ve had I’m surprised you keep as much anonymity as you do,” he said genuinely impressed that she had managed not to be caught up in the celebrity hype that followed most stars.

“Oh I’ve been caught up in it and been caught out by it on many occasions,” she admitted ruefully. Joanna has always been my port in the storms. She’s always had an open door and open heart no matter what was going on with me. Even that idiot ex-husband of hers was protective of my privacy when I needed it.”

“It’s nice to have friends,” Matt agreed coming back to the table. He took the books out of his backpack and the went to work on creating a plan that both women could work with. It was more of a flexible document that highlighted the better options and had a list of food that should be avoided over the next few months leading up to the wedding.

Content that this was not a strict diet regime Joanna readily agreed to all he suggested and lamented that Melanie wasn’t going to be staying with her next week to help her stay on track and cook for her.

“I like going to the farmers market on Sunday mornings to stock up on a few things, do you want to come along?” Matt asked both of the women but looked at Joanna as he said it. “They have some great snack alternatives that taste as good as anything in our no go list.”

“Sure that might be fun, I haven’t been to the farmers market for ages,” Joanna answered assuming Melanie would just come along if she went.

“Pick me up something totally yummy but just don’t tell me it’s made out of brussel sprouts or something disgusting until after I’ve eaten it,” Melanie grimaced.

“You’re not coming along?” Matt asked.

“I have a date,” Melanie said as if it was a strange occurrence and they both looked at her. “It may or may not be with my agent, but it’s still a date.” Truthfully, Melanie wasn’t sure she wanted to be part of their date, but she wanted Joanna to be happy and if Matt made her happy she wasn’t going to stand in their way.

“Looks like we do too,” Matt said with an easy smile at Joanna, who wasn’t sure how she felt about spending time with him alone now. “It was so much easier with Melanie around to stop her from being a silly old woman and making eyes at this nice young man.

“I guess we do,” she said. Watching him pack up his books and get to his feet.

“I’ll see you ladies’ tomorrow afternoon,” he said, and Joanna immediately got up to walk him to the door.

“Thanks for coming over, it was fun which was surprising considering what we were talking about,” she gave a nervous laugh, thinking about the last time he had left her house.

“It’s been great, we should hang out more often,” he said easily turning to face her and seeing her smile. “You really do have an amazing smile,” he said resisting the urge to kiss her again and turning back towards his car as he left.

*****

Joanna and Brittney left work a little early on Thursday afternoon intending on taking advantage of the late night trading at the local mall. Brittney had decided that the first thing they needed to do was to have Joanna sized properly for everything. So they went back to the intimate apparel shop where the sales assistant had offered her a free bra fitting.

After not shopping for herself properly for years Joanna had convinced herself that it was okay to splurge a little. Melanie had said she should spend at least a thousand on underwear and some new work clothes, and though that wouldn’t get her much, it would be a start. Horrified Joanna had dusted off her credit card and decided to embrace the change even though she cringed at the expense. She had been a little jealous of Melanie spending time alone with Matt today, and half wished she could be as glamorous and confident as her friend. Or even Carla for that matter. Carla had no problem going after Matt and making him know she was interested in more exercise than the boot camp offered alone.

He was polite and nice to her as he was with all of the women who did the boot camp but she didn’t think he returned her interest. Or at least she hoped he didn’t. She realised she had a bit of a crush on their personal trainer and was looking forward to seeing him on the weekend. So, she knew she needed this shopping trip to help her look less like his mother when they met on Sunday.

Joanna let Brittney suggest and guide her into shops that she would never have walked into on her own. She indulged Brittney’s sense of style which was in her opinion way too young for her and with the help of shop assistance eventually found a middle road that she was comfortable with. By the time they left the mall she was weighed down with packages and had spent way more than Melanie’s prediction.

It had been fun as Brittney had told her it would be, and she had laughed almost all night. In the car on the way home, however, she considered if she was a silly old woman with an infatuation and inwardly cringed at some of the things she had let Brittney convince her to try on. She was doing this whole fitness thing with the sole purpose of managing to be comfortable during one day of nudity. Not even a whole day just a few hours. What did she need a new wardrobe for?

By the time she got home and started unloading her purchases from the car, she berated herself for being swept up by the idea of a good looking guy being nice to her. She had convinced herself she was an old fool and let herself into the house walking into her bedroom and dumping the packages in disgust before heading to the living area at the back of the bungalow to see Melanie.

“I don’t know how I let myself get talked into these things, this is all just silly,” she said walking up the hall and stopping in her tracks as she realised Matt and another woman sat in her living room with Melanie.

“Oh I’m sorry,” she stuttered. “I didn’t realise anyone else was here. Hello,” she approached the other woman. “I’m Joanna nice to meet you.”

“Edith, but you can call me Edie. Nice to meet you too, Joanna,” she said with a twinkle in her eyes.

“I had to cancel lunch, so I took Matt and Edie out to dinner,” Melanie said and gave her a sly smile. “Which you were invited to as well by the way.”

“You knew that I was going out with Brittney tonight,” Joanna defended herself. “I sent a text to you explaining,” she looked at Matt apologetically even though she spoke to Melanie.

“I wasn’t complaining.” He reassured her.

“He so was complaining, wasn’t he Edie,” Melanie asked the woman.

“I wouldn’t say complaining exactly. He might have mentioned that he missed seeing you there tonight,” she answered delicately making him give her a frown.

“I’m assuming Melanie didn’t drive tonight, and you made sure she got home safely?” She asked and laughed lightly surprised at how good Edie’s words made her feel.

“I’m perfectly fine,” Melanie said rolling her eyes. “I invited them back for dessert. Edie wanted to meet the woman we were talking about over dinner.”

“I think what you are doing is wonderful. I would hate to miss Mattie’s wedding if he ever decides to settle down but I don’t know that I could be as brave as you if he asked me to do it nude,” she said.

“I’m still not entirely sure I can do it,” Joanna said not sure that she was happy to be talked about when she wasn’t there to defend herself. “He said I didn’t have to and that we could have our own celebration after it, here in the city, if I didn’t make it to the island. He wouldn’t ever pressure me to do anything I’m uncomfortable with.” She defended her son.

“He sounds like a good kid. My kids put me through hell but Mattie makes up for all those years. He’s good to his Nan,” she smiled lovingly at him.

“She makes it pretty easy. I don’t have to do much but show up now and then and ask her how she is,” he chuckled.

“Well it’s been a long day, how about a few more selfies before we head off,” Edith asked handing over her phone to Matt and standing up. Joanna was pulled into the photos and in the end found herself standing beside Matt and Edith as Melanie took the photo which seemed so odd as Melanie was the celebrity Edith had come to see. They left shortly after that and Joanna poured herself a glass of wine.

“That was the last thing I expected,” Joanna said to Melanie after they had gone.

“Yeah but he kept bring up your name over dinner and Edie was intrigued and wanted to meet you,” Melanie shrugged. “She suggested coming over here for dessert, not me. What was I supposed to say?”

“You could have texted me,” Joanna sighed.

“And you could have checked your phone and found that I did! Why are you so weird about this?” Melanie asked. She knew, though; she had banked on the fact that Joanna would be weirded out by meeting Matt’s mother figure.

“I’m not weird, the whole night was weird,” Joanna said testily and walked back to her room planning on putting away her purchases before Melanie decided to go through them.

“You want to know what I think?” Melanie asked in a know-it-all tone.

“Do I have a choice?” Joanna snapped back.

“I think you both have the hots for each other and would be doing us all a big favour if you just admitted it and slept together to get it out of your systems,” she said angrily. She didn’t begrudge her friend some fun, but she knew that Joanna was not the type to have a quick fling, and she worried about losing the closeness they enjoyed. She stalked down to Joanna room and stopped in the doorway. “Holy shit!” She exclaimed looking at the amount of shopping bags and parcels on Joanna’s bed.

“I’m a stupid old woman with a school girl crush on a man half my age,” Joanna admitted sadly. “I can’t believe how stupid I’ve become. I mean look at all this stuff!”

“You are not old, and you are not stupid,” Melanie went to her and hugged her tightly enjoying the softness of the embrace. “This she spread her arm indicating the bed was long overdue, and I can’t wait to see what Brittney talked you into buying. It’s just like Christmas only better!”

“Better?” Joanna asked with a confused frown.

“Sure I get to help you unwrap all this stuff, and I didn’t have to spend a cent.” She laughed and picked up a bag from Urban Rebel. “I just have to see what’s in here! Maybe even get you to model it for me?” she lifted an eyebrow.

“Don’t get your hopes up too much I made compromises with Brittney. I didn’t just go along with everything she suggested,” Joanna laughed as they began to unpack her shopping.

“You know he’s not nearly as young and sweet as he seems,” Melanie said tentatively now that they had cleared the tension of Matt and Edie’s visit. “People are pretty accepting of all types of relationships these days once again quashing her confused feelings after hearing her friend’s confession about her crush.

“He’s a young guy who is going to want his own family one day,” Joanna said as if that explained everything.

“Not everyone wants kids, look at me. I don’t regret the decision not to go down that road,” Melanie shrugged.

“It’s different for men I think, you know the whole son and heir thing,” she said quietly.

“You don’t know that for sure, and I am pretty sure the crush is reciprocated. He brought you up a lot in conversation tonight,” Melanie teased.

“Probably because I’m someone you have in common. The only thing you have in common,” she laughed.

“It’s been a long time since you let anyone into your life. Maybe it’s time. Not for a full on relationship but if it’s only a fling it could be a lot of fun,” Melanie gave her a sly look and grinned as she saw Joanna think about it before throwing a pillow at her. Melanie realised that despite her own feelings, she needed to step back and let her friend see where this might go. “How long could it last anyway?” She asked herself.

*****

On Friday, Joanna was stunned by how many positive comments she got on her new outfit. Brittney had decided the next change would be her hair and had already begun to come through celebrity gossip magazines in search of the perfect hair style for Joanna. She had decided that if they did the cut during week two that maybe by week six they could do something funky with the colour.

Joanna arrived at the Friday afternoon boot camp relaxed and in a good mood after a nice day at work. As always Matt was totally professional, and Joanna decided Melanie had rocks in her head if she thought he saw her as anything other than a client. Disappointed that he hadn’t shown her any special attention she was one of the first to walk back to her car after the session and she drove home once again think she had been an old fool.

Melanie had decided to go back to her place tonight after the boot camp and do a bit of cleaning over the weekend and prepare to re-engage with her agent and show biz friends next week. Joanna thought she might have had a date that she didn’t want to talk about so just accepted what she had said at face value and didn’t ask any questions.

The house was dark and empty when Joanna arrived home. She showered and got into her old comfy pyjamas then went to the kitchen looking for food. Her phone buzzed on the counter top where it sat on charge, and she looked at it.

“Forgot to mention I wouldn’t be at boot camp tomorrow. Have a great weekend and enjoy the markets on Sunday. Mel xxx,” she read with a smile. She was certain now that something was going on with Melanie. She sent the answering X’s and O’s back to her friend and opened the second message that showed as unread.

“Hi, wanted to talk to you after boot camp but you left so quickly I didn’t get a chance. Hope to see you there tomorrow. Matt.” She read wondering why he wanted to talk to her. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to go tomorrow without Melanie and she put the phone back down without replying to his message.

She’d been so good during the week that she decided to be a little naughty and forgo a proper dinner in favour of a glass of wine and a cheese and pate plate. She added a few cherry tomatoes and a small bunch of grapes to the plate to make herself feel better about the fat content and took it into the living room. She had just started a DVD and was getting comfortable when her phone rang. She contemplated not answering it but after not answering her phone last weekend she didn’t want to miss a call from Justin if he happened to try again this weekend.

“Hello?” she answered quickly without checking the number.

“Hey,” Matt’s voice sounded in her ear. “I wasn’t sure if you got my text so I thought I’d call, did I catch you at a bad time?”

“No, I was just about to watch a movie,” she looked guiltily over at her plate of treats and the full wine glass. “You said you wanted to talk to me after boot camp? I’m sorry I rushed off I didn’t realise. With so many there tonight you seemed too busy to chat, so I left you to it. It’s not like we have to wait long to see each other again.” She gave a half laugh that sounded totally false even to her ears.

“I wanted to make sure you weren’t upset that Edie and I were there when you got home last night. I also thought you might want to do a baseline check in after the first week to see if all this work has made any difference,” he said in a rush as if not wanting the answer to the first question.

“That would have been good but to tell you the truth I am already in my jammies and I’m being a bit naughty with dinner which you probably shouldn’t know about,” she admitted. “I was just having an end of week treat while I watched a movie now that I have the house to myself.”

“Oh what movie?” he asked.

“Deadpool, I missed it at the cinemas, and I am only finally getting to it now. I’m a bit of a comic geek. Only a bit, though,” she said.

“I have to admit I haven’t seen it yet but want to,” he said. “I’ve heard lots of different reviews about it. Maybe I could come and watch it with you?” His Nan had lectured him again last night about life being too short and if he wanted to get to know Joanna better he should just do it and stop worrying about the business or their friends or whatever else was on his mind. Those things she said had a way of working themselves out.

“I promise I won’t make fun of your jammies or whatever treats you might be eating. I’ll even bring popcorn and Maltesers,” he said hopefully. Melanie had also called him out on his interest in Joanna and had suggested he go over tonight as she wouldn’t be home. The two women’s advice combined were hard to resist, but his indecision saw him sitting outside his house and calling her from the car rather than just going in.

“I guess,” she said uncertainly looking down at her old flannelette pyjama’s and grimacing. “and only because you promised not to make fun of my jammies because I don’t want to have a change now that I am all comfy. A robe is the most you can hope for to help keep the laughter at bay.”

“I’ll take my chances,” he chuckled. “I’ll also be there in less than a minute.”

“Seriously? With popcorn and Maltesers?” She asked.

“No, that stuff’s bad for you what sort of personal trainer would I be if I fed you crappy stale popcorn and cheap chocolate.” He returned her question and knocked on her door. “You going to get that?”

“What?” she squeaked leaping from the couch and hurrying down the hallway to her room.

“I’m starting to think you didn’t want me to come over,” he said as he knocked again.

Good grief,” she struggled with her robe and went to the door opening it with the phone still pressed to her ear.

“Hi,” he said with a slow smile putting his phone away and handing her a box of dark chocolates.

“Thank you,” she said not taking her eyes from him as she accepted the box. “Are you stalking me or something? Is there an alarm that goes off if I take the fatty foods out of my refrigerator?” She asked stepping back to let him in. She noticed that he smelled nice as he moved passed her into the bungalow.

“Something like that,” he chuckled. Moving to sit on the couch and survey her treats. Joanna pulled her robe tighter around her body and followed him through to the living room. She had no idea what she was doing here with this man. Why hadn’t she just said no? She held her arms around her body protectively as she took a seat at the other end of the couch.

“Oh gosh, where are my manners, would you like a drink or something?” She asked.

“Sure, do you have any of the light beer left?” he asked sounding comfortable being there with her.

“I do, I’ll get you one,” she started to get up.

“Stay there I’ll get it,” he said with a smile and leapt from the couch before she could get up. He came back and sat back down. “Alright, let’s do this, before I’m compelled to comment on your jammies, what are they little sheep?”” he asked flipping up the bottom of her robe.

“You promised,” she laughed and pressed play on the DVD.

“Okay,” I’ll be good,” he chuckled with her as the familiar Fox Studios trumpets sounded to start the movie.

They started giggling from the opening credits and at times Joanna blushed, embarrassed to be giggling at some of the totally inappropriate comments made by the main charter. She went to get up part of the way through the movie to refill her wine glass, but he took it from her hand and went to fill it up for her. She opened the chocolates he had brought with him and placed them on the table beside the depleted plate they had already been snacking on throughout the first half of the movie.

“Relax,” Matt said softly, “Here stretch your legs out I don’t mind,” he patted his lap, and she stretched her legs placing her feet on his lap. He massaged her feet and legs throughout the second half of the movie even getting up to replenish her wine and get himself another beer at one stage close to the end. Then pulled her feet back to his lap as he sat back down.

“I wasn’t expecting a love story,” Joanna laughed as the movie ended and they let the credits roll knowing Marvel movies usually held little eggs at the end of the credits.

“Practically bordered on a chick flick,” Matta agreed with a perfectly straight face holding her legs in place as she went to withdraw them to sit up. “It was fun to watch it with a fellow Marvel lover,” he said with a smile. He suddenly felt nervous with her.

Melanie had called him today and put him on the spot about whether he had a thing for Joanna. Admitting he was more than interested in getting to know her better had been hard as he didn’t want this to become an issue with any of the women who had begun boot camp with him this week. Melanie had reassured him however that she wouldn’t say anything if he would just man up and do something about because she was sure that Joanna felt the same way but would never follow through without a big push from someone, namely him. She also took the time to threaten that if he ever hurt Joanna, he would make his life miserable.

“Something wrong?” Joanna asked seeing his thoughtful expression.

“I was just thinking about the movie and that part where they said they were the same sort of crazy,” he said. “That’s why they were so good together.”

“It sort of blasts the opposites attract theory out of the water,” she said lightly.

“Yeah, I guess,” he chuckled. “The thing is that getting to know you this week, I think you might be my kind of crazy,” he blurted the words and looked at her seeing her shocked expression. “I know we’re supposed to be all professional, but it’s hard when I just want to kiss you again whenever I see you.”

Joanna blinked at him unable to form words and her mind blank of anything coherent to say. She knew she felt the same way. She had thought about that kiss so often, but he was so sexy and handsome, and she couldn’t quite believe what he had just said. She saw his face fall as she continued to stare at him dumbly.

“I’ve been thinking about that kiss too,” she whispered self-consciously.

“You have?” he smiled and leaned toward her placing his arm along the back of the couch. “We should probably have a do-over then just to be sure it was as good as we remember it being.” He moved as close as he could, given the awkward position she sat in and smiled softly. “It can’t hurt and at the very least we’ll know if we remember it properly.”

She leaned forward to meet him part way and pressed her lips to his. She felt his hand cup the side of her neck and cheek and allowed the kiss to deepen naturally. He seemed in no hurry to stop kissing her and after long minutes where they continued to kiss and manoeuvre closer to each other he pulled back and smiled.

“Better than I remember,” he whispered. Again all Joanna could do was nod dumbly. She couldn’t quite believe that he was here kissing her. Wanting to kiss her. Wanting to be with her when she knew that he could have any girl he wanted, even Brittney had been interested in him when he had come into work.

“I,” she stuttered, “I’m not sure what’s happening here,” she finally managed to say. “I mean I’m me, and you’re…” she paused and ran a hand down his arm. “Well, you’re so you.” She said lamely not wanting to belabour their age difference.

“Well, what’s happening here as far as I can see is two people who like hanging out with each other are seeing if maybe there might be a bit more than just a friendship between them,” he bent his head and kissed her again. Having thought about it for the last week, now that he had opened the door between them, he planned to keep it open.

Joana felt like a teenager necking on the couch, half expecting someone to come in and interrupt them. She let her hands explore his body as his began to travel over her. She was protected by the thick robe and pyjamas and although she felt self-conscious she was enjoying the kisses so much she couldn’t have stopped what was happening even if she wanted to. The thought frightened her to action, though, and she pushed on his chest lightly making him lean back and look at her.

“This is a lot to take in,” she said. “I’m not silly enough to be making plans already, but I’m also not ready to go too fast. I’ve only slept with one man in my entire life. I’m not a prude but, it’s a lot, you know?” She tried to explain willing him to understand. “I’m not like Carla,” she said trying to make the comparison for him.

“I wouldn’t be here if you were,” he grinned. “I’m happy just kissing you for now,” he said softly, sitting up realising she was having trouble coming to terms with what was happening.

“For now,” she repeated wiggling back and propping her back against the armrest as he pulled her legs over his thighs again, only, this time, it was her knees, not her ankles that rested over his lap.

“I’m a guy, of course, I want more, but I won’t pressure you,” he said his voice still soft and a small smile turning up the corners of his mouth. “Well, I’ll try not to pressure you too much. I will point out however that you could probably skip a boot camp session if you had a private workout with me,” he chuckled and winked at her. He wanted her under no illusions that he wanted a relationship beyond friendship with her.

“I’m an old lady, shouldn’t you be chasing women your age?” she asked hearing how it sounded as she spoke and hating herself for mentioning the disparity in their ages.

“You’re not old, and if it doesn’t it doesn’t bother me that you’ve been alive a few years long than me why should it bother you?” She asked reasonably.

Joanna wanted to scoff at the word few but bit her tongue. She still couldn’t quite believe that this was happening.

“There is one thing that bothers me a little,” he said cautiously and reached out and took her hand. She looked up at him questioningly but didn’t say anything. “While we’re working this out and laying the ground rules so to speak, could we keep your interfering but well-meaning friends out of the loop. I’d like to keep the boot camps professional if I can, and I’m not sure having them know how much I want to get into your pants every time I see you would give me that professional aura I need.” He watched a range of emotions flicker over her face. “Except Melanie of course, I expect she had already guessed as much.”

“You’re right about my friends,” she said finally. “Mel’s good she won’t tell anyone if we don’t wake up tomorrow and regret this.” Truth be told she was glad he had said this and while initially, she had thought it was because he was embarrassed to be seen as a couple in public she could understand why he had said it. She didn’t particularly want anyone to know she had lost her mind and was kissing this sexy young man who held her hand so tenderly. “Let’s rule out my workplace at the same time as yours then,” she laughed lightly.

“Thanks,” he said letting out the breath he had been holding. “I thought you might have been a little upset about that. It’s not that I don’t want people to know, you can come and hang out at my place or with my mates anytime you like.”

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I mean we’ve only just kissed for the first time,” she said.

“Yeah but in my head, we’ve done a whole lot more in the last week,” he waggled his eyebrows making her laugh.

“I’m not quite there yet,” she giggled. “So maybe it’s better if you go home and give me some space to think about everything.”

“Alright, I get the hint. I don’t mind staying the night and helping you think about what a great idea this is, though, just saying” he said hopefully. “You’re pretty sexy in these cute jammies.” He slid his hand up the leg of her pyjama pants.

“One of us has to be rational we can’t both be crazy,” she laughed.

“We can if your kind of crazy matches my kind of crazy, like a puzzle with those wavy lines,” he said quoting the movie.

“What if you’re really crazy and think you can sleep with all of my friends who are doing the boot camp including me?” She asked with a smile not thinking that he was capable of that.

“Ow!” he clutched his chest. “I’m mortally wounded. Man down, man down!” He collapsed back onto the couch.

“Stop that,” she laughed. “Try and see it from my point of view. Here’s this hot guy claiming he wants to sleep with me? A frumpy woman from the suburbs, I’m not sophisticated or sexy or even famous like my friends. You must see what I’m saying here,” she said reasonably.

“Okay well, you’re not obsessed with your career to the point of not being able to talk about anything else. You’re not famous, so you don’t have to be hiding from media or stalkers, and you don’t have to share your affections with the fans. The sexy part we’re going to have to disagree on because I can’t wait to see what you’re hiding behind underneath all those layers,” he said dismissing all her words.

“Smooth talking, very smooth,” she drawled.

“Look,” he said taking her hand. “Did you know that when you smile our whole face lights up like someone turned a switch on. You smile with your eyes even before your lips know it’s coming,” he placed his fingers under her chin and ran a thumb over her lips. “It was one of the first things I noticed about you which was difficult because you hide it more often than you show it.”

She could hear the sincerity in his voice and could see it in his expression and when he bent to kiss her she couldn’t help but smile. “There it is,” he murmured and kissed her. “I don’t know what I can say to convince you other than that I am here arguing with you rather than going to see Carla who all but gave me an engraved invitation.”

He was right, and she knew he was right. They were both adults who could do as they pleased. He wasn’t asking her to marry him. He just wanted some fun. She could have fun, couldn’t she? It wasn’t like she had suitors beating down her door.

“You might have just saved yourself there, but it was a close call after you called me sexy,” she murmured smiling into the kiss.

“If we could just get rid of a few layers of clothing I guarantee what is under there is sexy. You forget I get to see you every day in lycra,” he chuckled. “I have a pretty good idea about this sexy body already but losing a few of these layers right now would be spectacular.”

“So much for no pressure,” she laughed pushing him away.

“It’s not pressure. It’s enthusiasm,” he laughed with her. “Okay, I’ll go but how about a second date tomorrow, I plan something casual. Maybe introduce you to Steve, the fount of all my wisdom,” he chuckled.

“I don’t know that I’m ready for that either,” she laughed as he untangled himself from her legs and stood up pulling her up from the couch with him. Kissing her he took her hand in his and walked to the door.

“Boot camp tomorrow, unless you’re planning on a private workout with me tomorrow night,” he teased and winked at her.

“Who knows? With my time frame a smart man might encourage me to do both,” she teased back.

“Don’t get me all excited and then shoot me down again,” he murmured pulling her close. “You wouldn’t want to see me cry.” He grinned and kissed her again not wanting to leave. “You know we’ve had a date every day this week, since I first kissed you, that old third date rule expired a few days ago.”

“You’re persistent,” she laughed.

“Is it working?” he asked.

“Maybe but I need a night to wrap my head around it. If I invited you to stay tonight, I’m not sure how I would feel about that in the morning. If you go then we can talk without all that between us in the morning,” she tried to explain. “What if it’s awful and the chemistry isn’t there? I’ve only ever slept with one man.” Her fears all rose to the surface as she stood there in the hallway with him. He could hear her insecurity in her voice.

“You know those reasons aren’t going to go away overnight?” he said wrapping his arms around her. “Whether it’s tonight or a week from now or a month from now those same worries are going to be there,” he said. “Maybe you’ll deal with them better, and maybe you won’t, but they aren’t going to go away until we find out the answers for ourselves.

“I’m not ready. I know it sounds silly, but I feel like a school kid, I mean I know what sex is, and I’ve done it but not like this, with someone like you I just feel…,” she ran out of words before she could admit to being scared.

“If it helps this is new territory for me too,” Matt admitted. He felt for her and continued to hug her close. “I’m usually the one pursued. I’ve never had to convince to convince a woman to sleep with me before,” he chuckled. “I’ve never been with anyone like you before, but I do know I want to, and if that means waiting a little while longer, then that’s how it has to be.”

“Thank you, for understanding,” she said into his chest. “You must think I’m crazy.”

“Yeah but you’re my kind of crazy,” she chuckled and loosened his grip on her. “Just don’t make me wait too long.” He bent his head and kissed her goodbye letting himself out and smiling at her before closing the door behind him. She watched him drive away from her bedroom window before going to clean up the living room smiling in a goofy way and wishing she could call Melanie. In the end, she sent her a text, “I kissed Matt tonight. A LOT.”

Her phone rang within seconds of sending the text, and she lay on her bed telling Melanie about everything that had happened and how she had sent him home.

*****

At boot camp the following morning she went through the program like she would on any other day. He didn’t treat her any differently to any other day or spend more time with her than her friends. Although she knew that this was what they had agreed on, she was disheartened that there was no recognition at all that they had shared a moment the night before. Being at Joanna’s house, there was no opportunity to talk to him where one of the girls wouldn’t overhear them so when the session ended she grabbed her new exercise bag and readied to leave as Carla helped him pack up his equipment on the back patio.

Maybe he had changed his mind about being willing to wait until she was ready. He’d said he’d never had to work to get a girl into bed before. He probably came to his senses overnight she lamented unzipping the bag and seeing a small white unicorn with a small note attached to it. She quickly found her keys and zipped the bag up again, looking around to make sure no one else had noticed. She hugged Joanna goodbye and went out to her car. Resisting the urge to look at it immediately she drove a few blocks away before pulling over, her curiosity getting the better of her.

She opened the bag and pulled out the small stuff creature and pulled the note from it. “When I thought about you last night I touched myself,” she read bursting out laughing at the lewd reference to the movie they had watched together. “PS pick you up at six for date night.” She smiled and put the toy away again, letting herself enjoy the goofy grin that sprang to her face as she texted him. “Thank you, maximum effort.” She hoped he got the reference she sent back.

She drove straight home and walked into her bedroom stripping off her active wear and stood in front of her mirror in her underwear. “Shit,” she said out loud. “You’re not even comfortable being nude in front of your reflection how are you ever going to be comfortable with Matt, who wants your old body, let alone Michael at the wedding who you know will be judging you.” She raged at her reflection.

She took off her bra and made herself look at the reflection. Her full breasts didn’t sag as much as she thought they did from her daily vantage point. She cupped them weighing them and pushing them up as a bra would and found they looked odd in that position without the garment.

“That wasn’t so hard,” she said to her reflection and slipped her underwear off. Joanna scrutinised her body then seeing every little lump and bump trying to tell herself they were badges of experience, not signs of middle-aged spread. She’d never been skinny, but she hadn’t ever been fat either. She’d always been average but to a young woman, being average didn’t quite make the grade. Now she looked at her body which had obviously been around the block more than once. She ran her hands over her belly and pinched the small rolls of fat there. They weren’t huge; they certainly didn’t hang over her pelvis. She just had a big tummy. She turned side on inspecting it further and catching sight of her ass.

He said he had liked her ass in the active wear but it too sagged without the support, and she grimaced as she changed positions bending over and then standing on her toes and stretching. She fluffed up her pubic hair. She hadn’t bothered to shave her bikini line in years, not that she needed to but she had kept her pubic hair well-trimmed and neat. She wondered if he would expect her to be shaved down there like most young girls these days who barely left a thin strip of hair on their mound.

He needed to know what he was getting. She didn’t want to be shaving her bikini line every day when she didn’t even wear a bikini. The thought that she should do it for him alone seemed somehow ludicrous to her. It wasn’t like he thought he was going to be with a supermodel or anything. She attended his boot camp for a reason, after all.

The hair on her head though was dull and lifeless. Brittney was right she needed not only a new style but a colour treatment as well. Maybe some highlights to make it shine more. She moved closer to the mirror and inspected her face, she’d always had a good skin care routine, but her eyebrows could do with some reshaping she realised after pushing her hair out of her face.

Deciding there was nothing she could change within the next few hours she went to have a shower and wash her hair. She pottered around the house finding that Melanie had been such a good housewife while she had been there that most of the chores were done, and she was able to relax and read her book for a while.

When she finally went to get ready, she found she was like a kid going on a first date. It was like a first date in a lot of ways, but she was a mature woman and shouldn’t be acting like this. He’d said he planned something casual when he had asked her about it last night so she had decided to wear her new black jeans reasoning that jeans were casual but black could be dressed up if need be. Giving up trying to decide what top to wear she went and did her hair and makeup instead. He was used to seeing her with very little or no makeup, so this would be interesting for him, she hoped.

She went back and sat on the bed looking at the three tops she had narrowed it down to while she put on her shoes. In the end, she chose the top she had started out with. It showed come cleavage but not a lot; it had a few scattered sequins in its pattern to make it dressy without being overly so, and she felt comfortable in it. It was ten to six when she applied a coat of lipstick and threw it into the small purse she had packed for tonight.

She briefly wondered if he would have condoms, he certainly wasn’t celibate like she was and she didn’t want to risk anything. Not that she thought he would have anything but you couldn’t be too careful, she bit her lip as the thought occurred to her. She’d have to make sure before things went too far. She was still thinking about the problem when he knocked on the door.

“Wow,” he said as he opened the door. “You look amazing.” He leaned in and kissed her. “Ready to go?”

“You scrub up well yourself,” she smiled and grabbed her purse from the sideboard. “Ready as I’ll ever be.” She walked down to his car with him. He opened the door for her and ran around to the other side getting in quickly.

“Where are we going?” she asked.

“For a drive,” he said noncommittally.

“Where to?” she pressed.

“Not far,” he chuckled.

“Matt I have to ask, and I’d like a real answer this time,” she paused and looked over at him. “If we decide to, you know?”

“If we decide to what? Eat? Play checkers? Strip off and go skinny dipping?”

“Have sex,” she interrupted his stream of silliness. “Do you have umm,”

“Condoms?” he asked seeing her discomfort at asking the question. “Ribbed for her pleasure,” he winked and saw her blush. “It’s cute when you blush like that. I don’t know many women who blush quite as often as you.”

“Oh God,” she put a hand to her face feeling the heat.

“Don’t do that. It’s cute,” he reached out and took her hand holding it as they drove. “You need to start believing that I am here because I want to be with you.” He pulled his truck into a small suburban restaurant seemingly in the middle of nowhere. “It’s not very ritzy, but the food’s awesome and the atmosphere is good.” He said once again hurrying around the car to open her door for her and help her out.

They were seated at a small table in the corner in the dimly lit restaurant, and he leaned across the table and held her hand. “So everything is good here, and terrible for the diet so you will have to work it off somehow,” he grinned.

“Oh really?” she asked. “If everything’s good then you can order for me, there’s too much choice, and I’d like to see what you come up with. I’m not allergic to anything so go for gold.”

“Go for gold huh? Sounds like a challenge,” he said with a sly grin. “Now what can I get you that will require a good hour or two of hard exercise to work off,” he mused looking over the menu. Then, of course, a dessert which may have to extend into round two of tonight’s workout,” he seemed to be enjoying himself immensely as he watched her try and refrain from a sassy comment.

The waiter returned with the wine Matt had ordered on arrival, and he ordered for them pronouncing the French words perfectly. Once the waiter had gone, Matt took her hand again and smiled. “I wonder if I have enough condoms at home to put you through the workout you will have to do to wear all those calories off,” he grinned. “We might have to stop on the way home and pick up another box.” He waggled his eyebrows at her.

“Anything to save that poor traumatised unicorn who suffered so much last night,” she said sadly.

“Her suffering was all your doing I feel no remorse,” he shook his head. “It was a special time for both of us. She knew why it had to be that way.” He said sadly.

“Such a cruel and heartless man,” she said disappointedly.

“You’re looking forward to it now aren’t you?” he grinned. “The cruel, heartless, pure adrenaline of our chemical attraction.”

“Gee when you put it that way how could any girl resist,” he spread her hands in wonder.

They continued to banter all the way through the dinner. He kept up the innuendo and rather than backing down from it; she gave as good as she got. They laughed often, and she had to admit it was fun to be there with him enjoying the attention of a member of the opposite sex. She couldn’t remember the last time she had flirted with anyone including her ex.

Matt kept up the banter on the way home, though making it less about sex than he had at the restaurant realising she was starting to fidget nervously. He could sense her unease and wanted to keep her relaxed enough to enjoy the evening. He wanted this more than he had possibly even admitted to himself and while he had bantered and fed her innuendo all night, it had all held an element of fun to it. Now that they were heading home it was becoming a reality, and he hoped she wouldn’t freak out on him. She’d only ever been with one man in her life, and that was going to be a hard act to follow even if her ex was lousy in bed. Her emotions were tied to sex with him, and she didn’t know anything different. She may as well be a virgin with only fantasies to live up to.

Matt helped her from the car, and Joanna felt the butterflies in her tummy. She wanted this. She wanted to have him take her to bed and make love to her. She just worried about being good enough for him. She wasn’t even good enough for her husband, in the end, how could she possibly be good enough for the sexy man holding her hand and taking her home.

She opened the door and stepping inside Matt didn’t give her time to think. He pinned her against the hallway wall and kissed her deeply. When he let her up for air, she smiled. “Can you give me a minute I need the bathroom,” she said softly, and he nodded taking a half step back watching her dart from his arms into her room.

“My turn,” he said walking past her and kissing her, “Can I borrow your toothbrush since you took the time to clean yours?”

“Of course, but there’s a new one in the top drawer if you prefer,” she smiled nervously, and he gave her a devilish grin shutting the door between them.

He took some extra time to brush his teeth and returned to find her in bed. He could see she was naked despite the sheet she held covering her body as both her breasts rose unfettered beneath the thin cotton, her long, pointed nipples begging for attention, and that was just what he planned to give them.

He slipped into bed and turned towards her. He let his fingers caress the soft globes of her breasts pulling the sheet down as he did so. He kissed her in the dim light of the half closed bathroom door as his hands explored her. Eventually, he lowered his mouth and explored a nipple with his tongue, and moving from time to time to give them both the attention they so deserved.

Joanna practically purred at the sensations he gave her. She let her fingers play over his neck and shoulders encouraging him as he gently touched her with his hands and mouth. She wanted to feel his touch all over her body now that she had given herself over to the idea of being with him mind and body. She felt so hot that she could have been melting beneath his hands, and she couldn’t believe she had been fighting this moment, almost dreading it.

His hands worked their way down her body caressing and tickling her as he went. He looked up at her and saw that she was glassy eyed and breathless making him smile knowingly. That smile just did her in. She could think of nothing else but the sensations that Matt was giving her. He pulled back the sheet exposing all of her body to the cool night air and his eyes. She self-consciously squirmed as he did this wondering how he saw her through his dark eyes when she lay completely naked beneath him.

“Wow,” Matt breathed. Her breasts were firmer than he had expected and her body was even more beautiful. She had a small patch of dark hair on her pussy, and he was glad she hadn’t gone for the narrow bikini lines most women did. Her legs seemed to close tightly and then relax again after he spoke the single word. He took a long moment just to drink her in with his eyes.

“Don’t stop,” she begged. “I think I need this, you, so badly.”

He slipped his arm around her and brought her face level with his then took her lips in a sweet, sensuous kiss, one like she had never experienced before with him or any man, not that there had been many in her life she admitted. She squirmed as he slid his hand down her body in a caressing motion to her most vulnerable place and gently caressed her letting his finger slowly move between the lips pf her pussy and over her clit. He continued to kiss her as his hand, and fingers sent tendrils of pleasure through her whole body, and he slowly inserted a finger into her.

She released a hoarse cry, and she rocked her hips pushing her pussy against the invading fingers and hand, relishing the unbelievable sensations he gave her as he stroked against her clit and the front wall of her cunt. Matt began to move down her body and with a slow sensuous tongue movement. He moved between her legs cupping her ass with one hand and lifting her to his lips. He murmured softly as he proceeded to taste the exotic flavours that were distinctly Joanna. She writhed above him whimpering loudly as she arched up off the bed in a shattering climax that bathed his hand and face and left her feeling weak and tingly. When she began to calm down from the unbelievable high, Matt slowly lay back on the bed and pulled her close within his arms to kiss her letting her taste how delicious she was.

“My turn,” she said softly and rolled over further, so she was on top of him. She took his hands and pulled them down to his sides and began to kiss him. Taking her time to explore him as he had explored her she let her lips and tongue run up and down the side of his neck nibbling softly at his earlobe and enjoying hearing his soft moans.

She kissed down to his chest and nipples, giving them a little nip as she went. She continued to taste and nip at him all the way down his hard muscled body. She loved his skin; it was the colour of caramel and so smooth and soft to the touch. His muscles seemed to come alive and pulse beneath her lips. As she continued her journey downwards towards his navel and groin, she felt the heat of his cock rub against her body exciting her all the more. Leaning down she placed her mouth over the bulbous head of his cock and sucked it between her lips, filling her mouth slowly and listening to him groan..

Joanna relished the sounds Matt made as she teased and sucked at his cock and for her, it was over all too soon as with a loud groan he pulled her head up and dragged her up his body. He kissed her hard as like an expert he ripped open a condom he placed beside the bed and expertly put it on. He turned her over onto her back then and hovered above her momentarily before lowering his head to kiss her and slowly push his cock into her warm wet hole. It was like entering a world of wonder he’d had been waiting a long time for as he watched the expressions of pleasure play over her face. He hadn’t imagined that being with Joanna would feel this good on so many levels.

Joanna raised her body to meet his movements, and they plunged into a rhythm of thrusts, meeting and receding together, the waves of desire and pleasure washing over them. His hands caught her hips, and he drove into her deeply. Then he was lost. He called out her name, and she followed, both shaking with the force of an orgasm that was long overdue.

Matt gathered her in his arms and held her tightly. Joanna, in turn, curled into him still quivering. In Matt’s mind, he only imagined that if it was that good on the first night that they had finally acted on their feelings for each other. Then this was shaping up to be one amazing relationship. He knew, however, that he would have to convince her of that. She clung to him as if to steady her place in the world.

“Matt,” she whispered kissing his neck. “Thank you for being persistent.” She smiled and practically purred into his ear at the feeling of contentment she had listening to his quiet chuckle.

“That he murmured was so worth the effort of breaking through all those walls you put up again and again,” he said equally quietly. The combination of the good food, wine, and adrenalin of their first time together made them drowsy, and they dozed off in each other’s arms.

She’d woken up through the night and marvelled at the warm body beside her. Tentatively she had run her hand down his body and traced a light finger over his cock. Even flaccid it was impressive, and she smiled as she felt it jump under her hand. She looked up and saw him watching her with sleepy eyes.

“More?” he whispered and curled an arm around her waist pulling her on top of him. She revelled in his strength as she rubbed her pussy into his groin.

“Please,” she whispered smiling at his answering moan and kissing him deeply.

“Here you can do it this time,” he handed her a condom with a chuckle as his cock immediately woke up at her attentions. She handled him with great care as she moved to kneel over him and teasingly roll the condom slowly over his cock. Then he pulled her to him and kissed her deeply moving her, so she lay on top of him.

He helped her to sit up on his cock his hands at her hips as she set a slow, steady rhythm. The stared into each other eyes as she rode him his hands moving to her breasts and playing with the long nipples that seemed to grow between his fingers.

He watched the beautiful woman rise and fall on him giving him incredible pleasure and pulled her down to kiss her lifting his hips to meet her stilted movements half way. With his hands on her hips, he increased the pace enjoying every moment of being with her.

When they came again, it wasn’t the huge high of their first time, but it was just as satisfying, and she lay in his arms listening to his deep breathing as she fell asleep for a second time. When she woke in the morning, she found the sheet was down around her hips and immediately went to pull it up.

“Don’t do that,” Matt said softly leaning closer. “It took me ages to get it that low without waking you,” he grumbled. Without the darkness to hide in and give her a false confidence she was suddenly very self-conscious but her hands froze with the sheet at her ribs as she looked up into his eyes. “Your beautiful and I want to look at you,” he murmured with a smile, bending his head to kiss her as his hand reached out to fondle her breast.

“Do you have any more condoms,” she asked with a coy smile and released her grip on the sheet as he smiled and reached out for the remainder of the strip he had left beside the bed and kissed her again.

“Who knew you were such an insatiable woman,” he grinned holding up the last two. “We can get some more when we go to the markets this morning.” He kissed her again before she could protest and pushed her to her back gently.

*****

They had spent the whole of Sunday together holding hands and constantly touching each other wrapped in the cocoon of new love. Melanie had called once and after realising he was obviously there and listening had cut the call short by making a lunch date with Joanna for the next day.

The following day, Joanna was sailing on a cloud of happiness as she told Melanie everything and had enjoyed her friend’s genuine happiness for her. Melanie had warned her not to get too emotionally invested too fast, but she had also been supportive and shared in her friend’s happiness. She’d found boot camp difficult as Matt remained purely professional with her as he did with all her friends and she sat in her car before leaving the park sending him a lewd invitation to join her for dinner.

She was enjoying the immature sarcasm and love of crude humour that had brought them together with Deadpool. She had never been able to talk to anyone like that before, and she felt like a deliciously wicked woman doing it. They spent most of their free time together with Matt spending some time during the day with his other clients and Edith so he could spend his evening with her.

She’d spoken to him about Brittney’s change challenge and her standard Thursday night shopping trip with her, and he had said that it would be a good time for him to go home for dinner at least once a week, so Edie didn’t always have to eat alone. Joanna felt bad about that and suggested that maybe he should on Tuesdays as well as there was no boot camp, and he could arrive earlier and still have time to see her if he wanted. She didn’t want to interfere with his other relationships just as she didn’t want his relationship with her to impinge on her friendships.

She walked out of the hair salon on Thursday night feeling lighter and brighter, if not particularly like Michelle Pfeiffer whose hair style Brittney had eventually settled on. It was a shoulder length layered bob that she could wear wavy or straight depending on the occasion and amount of time she had in the mornings to style it. She’d had it coloured a warm copper colour with lighter foil highlights, and while she loved it, it was a bigger change than she had expected in the way it framed her face.

Concerned about how Matt would react to it she called him on the hands-free in her car and nervously asked if he liked redheads at all.

“Nan made plans tonight, so I’m catching up with Steve, why don’t you come and meet us?” he suggested, “So I can give you my honest opinion rather than a guess. “Steve will call bullshit if I try to lie, he has the tact of a sled sledgehammer.”

She prevaricated, she wasn’t sure she was ready to meet his friends, but she guessed he knew hers, and she couldn’t put it off indefinitely. She gave in, and he gave her the address of the pub where they were having a drink. Aside from the occasional light beer or glass of wine with dinner, she’d never really thought of Matt as someone who drank. Certainly not someone who went to the pub with his mates and on some level she was intrigued at this facet of his life.

She walked into the crowded bar feeling somewhat overdressed in the knee-length pencil skirt and silk blouse she had worn to work that day. She tossed her head feeling the waves of her hair bounce around her face and looked around for Matt. Seeing him sitting at a large table with a bunch of tradies she walked over slowly wanting to make a good impression.

“Well hello sexy,” an older man she assumed to be Steve greeted her as she approached the table. “Can I offer you a seat?” Matt had his back to the door and hadn’t seen her come in and as he looked up he did a double take.

“Joanna,” he breathed and stood to kiss her. “You look great.”

“This sexy young thing is your Joanna?” Steve whistled. “You’ve got better taste than I gave you credit for boy.” He eyed Joanna from head to toe. “If you ever consider trading up give me a call, I’m single. I know it’s hard to believe but true for the moment.”

“Absolutely hard to believe,” Joanna laughed and took the seat he had offered her. Matt offered to get her a drink, “I’ll just stay for one I have to drive.” She agreed and watched him get up and walk to the bar leaving her to talk with Steve and the other men at the table.

“Pretty obvious why we haven’t seen Matt lately,” one of the guys said with a throaty laugh.

“Yeah I’d trade you lot in for her any day,” another said making her blush lightly.

“You’d trade us in if a dog sniffed ya crotch willingly,” Steve laughed loudly. “No offence,” he patted her hand that rested on the table.

“None taken,” she laughed. She felt like an intruder in the all-male environment. This wasn’t her type of place or even the type of people she usually associated with, and she felt uncomfortable. She was obviously a lot older than all of them except maybe Steve, so finished her drink quickly to leave as soon as she could. She kissed Matt telling him not to hurry and feeling like a mother rather than a partner as she said it.

“Fuck if you don’t go home with her I will,” Steve laughed raucously, and Matt downed his beer.

“I didn’t want to interrupt your boy’s night,” Joanna said quickly. “I’d just heard so much about you that I wanted to meet you,” she laughed with Steve. “We’re not joined at the hip or anything.”

“I bet that’s not because he doesn’t want to be,” Steve smirked at Matt.

“I’ll catch up with you next week,” Matt said and raised a hand in farewell at his friends walking her out to her car. “Race you home he kissed her and jogged off toward his car.

The sex that night was aggressive and hard as he showed her how desirable he thought she was with the new hairstyle. She floated on a cloud of endorphins as she fell asleep exhausted and sweaty from the full workout he’d given her. She couldn’t believe how good he made her feel and what she had been missing out on all those years she had been married to a virtual stranger. She understood now, why Michael had sought out happiness with someone else and her thoughts softened toward her ex-husband.

Life settled into a routine of sorts where they did the boot camps, and Joanna went to work, while Matt continued to see his other clients and check in with his Nan while trying to build up his business. By the end of the first month, word of mouth had started to travel, and the reviews she and her friends had written for his website began to pay off. Most of the newer clients worked, so he began working every morning and every evening, even holding three to four sessions on a Saturday and again on Sunday morning.

Rather than wearing him out, the additional exercise seemed to energise him even more, at first and they continued to enjoy their overactive sex life. When they reached the six-week mark, Matt refused to take any more excuses and redid her baseline data. She was more than impressed with the improvements she had made.

“I guess all those extra workouts you have been giving me have paid off,” she said smiling seductively. “My diet hasn’t changed enough to make those sort of improvements. I’m going to need a new wardrobe at this rate, even the new things I bought don’t fit as well as they did.”

“It’s great and now that you have that battle under control we get to work on the fun stuff,” he grinned and began removing her top.

“The fun stuff?” she asked.

“Mmhmm,” he nuzzled into her neck. “Turning you into a naturalist who is as confident being nude as she is wearing all these clothes.” He pulled her top off and left her in her bra. “Just one thing at a time. This week try to walk around in your bra when we’re at home, maybe have full topless Tuesday? I’ll do it with you,” he offered with a smirk and took his shirt off.

“Oh yeah that’s the same thing,” she laughed. “I have been thinking about the wedding,” she admitted. “Melanie said she’d come with me, but you could come as my plus one if you’d like. Melanie has her invitation, and while most people just assume we will go together for support, you could come if you can afford to take a few days off from the business.” She wasn’t one hundred percent sure she wanted him to go with her, but he had mentioned so often, and they had practically been living together for the last month.

“I thought you’d never ask,” he smiled and wrapped his arms around her. “I wasn’t happy about sending you off to your ex-husband with this smoking hot body on display and no one to guard your virtue.”

“My virtue huh?” she laughed.

“Trust me, I know guys and I don’t want him thinking that he can take a stroll down memory lane with my woman,” he murmured.

“How very cave man of you,” he teased, but she liked that he was quite open about how he felt about her. Everywhere that was except with her friends.

“So at the threat of sounding all cave woman, I think that it can’t hurt to drop a few hints to my friends. Melanie is bursting to tell them, and she might explode soon,” she laughed lightly trying to make it sound less of a big deal to her than it was.

“It can’t hurt to drop a few small hints,” he mused reluctantly. “We’d still have to take two cars, so you could get to work on time” he seemed to consider it. “The only reason they don’t already know is that Melanie’s the only one who visits you regularly, I guess. It’s just that boot camp is work for me and I’d like to keep it separate from all this.”

“I was talking to Kylie about going over to talk about my eating plan, maybe you could come with me?” she asked. “Sort of break the ice and see the reaction.”

“Sounds like a better idea,” he said. “I just don’t want either area of my life to become messy.

“I understand, it’s fine,” he leaned up and kissed him. “I’d just rather is Carla wasn’t so friendly all the time,” she laughed. “You could maybe tell her you’re involved with someone.”

“Is that what we are? Involved?” he asked with the sexy smile that always got to her. “You know you could drop down to three times a week like your friends now,” he said. “You’re in great shape, and I was thinking about dropping one of the mornings from the schedule now that I have a larger clientele and need the space in my week. I’ll send out an email to everyone suggesting some alternative schedules,” he said.

“It’s been great to have a lot of choices, but I can see that we’re taking up a lot of your time. We’ve done a pretty full on six weeks, and everyone has made the goals you set them, haven’t they?”

“Maybe I could just cut out Joanna’s place and use the park so that one or two other clients can join the session if they want on a sign-up basis, so the group never goes over six,” he mused. He went to pick up his tablet and fiddle with the new timetabling app he had downloaded. With the moment, gone Joanna picked up her shirt and walked into the bedroom.

She liked what they had together. The sex was incredible, and he was kind, considerate and made her feel good about herself. He was so easily distracted, though, and she found herself finding fault in little things, like his choice of music in the mornings. He might be able to blow off the advances that women like Carla made on him, but they made her feel odd about their hidden relationship. She was sure Carla would never do that if she knew the truth.

*****

With the wedding on her mind, Joanna considered that the biggest hurdle she had now aside from the nudity itself was seeing her ex Michael again. She was feeling like a new woman. She had completed Britney’s six-week change challenge and had new hair, new clothes, new shoes. She had a beautician that massaged, waxed and tweezed her whom she had committed to seeing once a month for a freshen up. She also had Matt to bolster her self-esteem and make her feel feminine and beautiful.

She felt like a far cry from the sad little housewife that let her son and husband leave with no idea of how to contact either of them. She couldn’t believe she had let them treat her that badly and not put up more of a fight instead of shouldering the blame for the breakdown of her marriage. She loved Justin above all else and had believed they had a wonderful relationship, but she realised now it was all on his terms. If anything happened to her, it could be weeks before he found out about it at the rate they communicated at the moment. Justin didn’t even know about Matt because they had barely exchanged emails let alone talked recently.

Matt was working more and more, and she could see the tell-tale signs of the business taking over his life. She had lived through that once already and wound up the loser, and she didn’t want to be there again. Melanie was the main touchstone in her life. If she needed to talk or vent, Melanie was there without judgement and her usual way of laying out a problem, so it didn’t seem as big of a deal as it had before she had talked to her friend. Likewise, when Melanie needed her Joanna was there to listen to her relationship woes with the new man in her life who she didn’t want to identify just yet because she wasn’t sure how she felt about it.

After a long Friday evening together sharing several bottles of wine as Matt worked late Joanna prevaricated bring up the subject of Michael. When Matt came home, he was exhausted after a big week, which was unusual and after an hour or so of socialising he went to bed leaving them to talk. It was then that Joanna broached the subject of her fears about the wedding which was only weeks away now.

“I think I am more worried about being seen by Michael and Barbie and being judged than I am about the nude part now,” Joanna confided. “I invited Matt, but I’m not sure if that was because I want him there as my partner or as a barrier against Michael.” She spoke quietly not wanting Matt to hear her even though they sat out on the back patio with the door shut.

“Who cares what Michael thinks,” Melanie said waving her arm around but watching her friend carefully. Noting the range of expressions on Joanna’s face she added. “He won’t be worried about what you think of him with Malibu Barbie standing beside him.”

“I know but after twenty years of marriage you’d think we could at least be friends and wish each other well with no animosity or bad feeling,” Joanna said. “I think I need to see him before the wedding and clear the air between us.”

“You want to be his friend?” Melanie asked with a frown. “After the awful things, he said about you?”

“He needed to put some blame on me, so he attacked me rather than admit he was an asshole for leaving the way he did,” she sighed. Try as she might she didn’t hate him.

“Why would you make excuses for his bad behaviour?” Melanie sounded hurt as if Michael had attacked her as well.

“I have to if I ever want to go to this wedding and enjoy it. I mean I’ve done all this work, and I feel really good but what is it for if I can’t get past the fact that he will be there, judging me.”

“He won’t be judging you,” Melanie said not even believing the words herself as they left her mouth.

“You know he will, and I want him to regret so many of those mean things he said to me but I don’t want to attend Justin’s wedding with things the way are now where we don’t communicate at all,” Joanna tried to explain.

“Then call him, talk to him that way if he bothers to accept your call,” Melanie said. “There is no need to put yourself through a confrontation with him and have him talk you down the way he did.”

“It’s been years since we divorced, I’m sure he’s as over it as I am,” she said with a sigh.

“I’m on your side.,” Melanie said softening her tone and reaching out to take her hand. “I’ve always been on your side. If this is something you need to do, then do it. Just promise you won’t let him walk all over you and make you feel like shit again,” Melanie said with feeling making sure Joanna knew she thought this was a bad idea, especially so close to the wedding. “You look fabulous, you’re confident, and you have a sexy young guy in your life, I just don’t get why you would want to see the man who treated you so badly.”

“He’s Justin’s father. I can’t just ignore his existence like an old lover. We are bound together by Justin and what if he and Tom adopt and give us grandchildren. It’s just easier if we try and build some bridges,” Joanna said as if she had already made up her mind. “The problem is aside from going to the company I have no idea how to contact him.”

“Call the company then. You don’t have to go in there you know,” Melanie still wasn’t convinced this was a good idea.

Two days later Joanna walked into the building that housed the finance company she had helped her husband to build. In the early days, she had answered phones and made cold calls for him. He’d worked out of an office in their home at the time before moving into a small office block. She stood in front of the elevator thinking about how far Michael had come since those days. He’d worked hard, and he deserved it she gave him his dues, but she felt that he had sacrificed his life with her to get to this plush building.

“Cant go backwards only forwards,” she mumbled to herself and stepped into the small mirrored box that would propel her up to his offices. He knew she was coming. He’d chosen to meet here, his place of power knowing that she wouldn’t make a scene with so many former friends as witnesses. She took a deep breath and plastered a smile on her face. They’d managed to avoid each other for three years. It was time to move on. She didn’t want to be one of those couples who spoke badly of their ex’s after the divorce. They’d had a good life together once, but they’d both moved on now. He had Barbie, and she had Matt. She frowned and tried to remember if Barbie was her real name or just the name she and her friends had given the woman who had been the final nail in the coffin of their dying marriage.

Stepping off the Elevator, she spoke to the receptionist using her maiden name. Quite a few things had changed in the last few years including the receptionist; she thought as she took a seat.

“Joanna?” a male voice asked, and she looked up to see her ex-brother-in-law walking toward her.

“Hello Dave, it’s been a long time,” she said with a smile standing up to greet him.

“I barely recognised you. You’re looking lovely,” he said embracing her. “Not that you didn’t always look lovely,” he corrected himself quickly.

“It’s okay I understood what you meant,” she gave a small soft laugh.

“Michael told me you were coming in today. I’m glad I got to see you. It’s been far too long. You divorced him not the rest of us. We should have a drink sometime,” he suggested.

“That’d be nice. I’m pretty busy lately but if you give me a call after the wedding I’m sure we can work out a date,” she smiled having no intention of following through on the date.

“Ms. McCarthy you can go in now,” the reception said interrupting their reunion.

“Thank you,” Joanna said and picked up her handbag. “It was good to see you, Dave.” She walked toward the office the receptionist had indicated. Michael opened the door and did a double-take before composing his features.

“Hi Joanna, you’re looking well,” he said formally.

“Michael,” she said in return, surprised that he looked older somehow. “How have you been?” she asked unable to return the compliment.

“I’m good,” he said with a smile. “Have a seat,” he offered taking a seat behind his desk. “You wanted to talk about Justin’s wedding?”

“I did, can you believe he’s doing it up there and expecting all the guests to become naturalists for the day?” she asked with a small laugh feeling awkward suddenly.

“You know he would understand if you decided not to go. I’m not exactly in favour of the whole idea but what can you do?” he spread hands asking the rhetorical question.

“Oh I have already sent my RSVP accepting the invitation and chiding him for depriving me of a Mother of the bride dress,” she joked.

“You are?” Michael couldn’t hide his surprise.

“Of course, I am hardly going to miss my son’s wedding,” she said with confidence. “I wanted to talk to you about the flights and accommodation. The invitation said that the father’s of the grooms were handling that.”

“Ah yes. Are you bringing Melanie? I have already booked a twin room in case you decided to at least come up to Cairns for the weekend of the wedding,” he said easily making the assumption that she would be alone.

“Melanie has a new man in her life and is going with him. Justin did invite her personally when she was up there a couple of months ago. I’m bringing someone else, and I just thought I would let you know that I will need two tickets and a double room as will Melanie I assume but I am sure Justin knows that from our acceptance cards. This is more of a heads up for you,” she said softly.

“For me?” he considered her and was pleased if a little surprised that she had moved on. He had thought this meeting was going to be an attempt to revisit old feelings before the wedding. He had to admit even he had become nostalgic recently.

“Well we didn’t exactly leave on amicable terms when we last saw each other, and I don’t want us to be bitter or uncomfortable, the wedding is going to be uncomfortable enough for textile lovers like like me,” she laughed. “We were married for almost twenty years, Michael, surely enough time has passed that we can become friends and wish each other well in our lives.”

“That’d be nice,” he said, “I think about you now and then and wonder how you’re doing.”

“You could have picked up the phone you know,” she said wondering how they had gotten to this point. “I guess I could’ve too. Melanie thinks this is a bad idea, but I’d like for us to be friends and be able to talk about Justin from time to time. I would have liked to be involved in this wedding but he chose who he wanted to help, and I can accept that. He shouldn’t have to choose, though.”

“I think he chose my wallet,” Michael laughed. “The two of you were always much closer, and he hated me for leaving you. I’m thinking this is his way of making me pay to get back in his good books,” he admitted.

“Oh I’m sure it’s not like that, but it is nice of you to be doing it,” she smiled. “I would have been worried having to organise it all myself with or without Matt there to help me.”

“So you’re bringing Matt to the wedding?” Michael asked suddenly unsure how he felt about his wife with another man despite his initial pleasure and relief that she had moved on with her life. He pulled himself up remembering that she was not his wife anymore. His relationship with Chaynee was difficult at best, and they had all but separated over the last six months which had been why he had been thinking about Joanna more and more often.

“Yes, as long as his work doesn’t get any busier,” She laughed. “It’s a new business, so it’s hard to tear him away from it for a few days. You’ll be bringing…” she paused before she said Barbie almost sure that was the wrong name, “You’re wife?”

“Chaynee and I never married. We talked about it, even planned a wedding, but it never happened for a number of reasons,” he admitted. He wasn’t sure if she would be coming to the wedding, he wasn’t sure about anything that woman did anymore. He hoped Joanna wouldn’t push him for an answer.

“Oh, I was sure Justin told me you had married again,” Joanna said. “Well as long as you’re happy. At our age happy counts for a lot more than all that other stuff we used to worry about,” she said.

“Are you happy, Joanna?” he asked watching her.

“Yeah, I think I am. I’m happier at the moment than I have been for some time,” she admitted.

“Well you look great, I’m glad you finally picked up the phone, It’s good to see you,” he smiled warmly. They talked a little more about Justin and his relationship with Tom and lapsed back into the world of years ago as if they were having a chat over a drink at the home they had shared together.

“I should let you go back to work, it was good to clear the air and make sure of the flights and accommodation for my plus one,” Joanna said gathering her purse. “Thank you for agreeing to see me, Michael.” She held out her hand coming to her feet. He frowned but took the hand she offered.

“It was good to catch up, I wish I had accepted your offer of lunch now,” he chuckled guiltily. “I just wasn’t sure how this would all pan out. As you said, we didn’t exactly part amicably.”

“Life’s too short to hold grudges, and everyone can always use more friends,” she smiled. “We can catch up for lunch sometime, you have my number now. I’ve missed being able to talk to you about Justin,” she said.

“I’ll walk you out,” he said coming around the desk and walking her to the elevators. “Thanks, Joanna.” He bent and kissed her cheek. “I appreciate you reaching out before the wedding. You were always good at seeing the right thing to do.”

Joanna left the office building and walked down the street feeling good about what she had accomplished. They’s been civil and even familiar with each other. Rather than the scary man who had looked at her with pity and disgust that had been burned into her mind, he had been the kinder version of her ex-husband that had disappeared from her mind in the midst of her divorce.

She felt better about the wedding for just having spoken to him. She walked down the street towards her lunch meeting with Melanie. She had never been more pleased to prove her friend wrong.

*****

Two weeks before the wedding Joanna walked from her room to the kitchen fully nude. It was the first time she had made herself do it, and she resisted the urge to run back to her room and throw on a dress. Matt whistled as she walked past him and grinned as she turned and shook her ass at him. She’d barely gotten some water from the refrigerator when he pounced on her.

Wrapping his arms around her he press up against her from behind, “So this is the week I get to enjoy an uninterrupted view of all of you,” Matt murmured in her ear.

“Maybe sometimes,” she whispered back and turned in his arms. She knew where this was going; there were never any gentle touches or cuddles that didn’t go down this road. She’d tried more than once just to sit with him and watch a movie, but unless she sat at the other end of the couch, she ended up missing most of the movie. Even when she did sit further away she didn’t often get to see it all.

He kissed her deeply then and lifted her to the kitchen bench, moving between her legs and rubbing against her. “Feel like some afternoon delight? I promise skyrockets,” he murmured with a chuckle quoting yet another movie song making her laugh.

“As always,” she giggled and wrapped her legs around his hips as he kissed over her shoulder to her breasts. Leaning her slowly back onto the bench he kissed down her body and she closed her eyes practically purring in pleasure. He was a generous lover, and she was never left wanting.

Matt spread her legs widely and licked the length of her pussy savoring the scent and taste he now knew so well. She was always so hot and willing he dived in nursing her clit with his tongue as his hand moved to prod a finger into the wet hole. His other hand pushed down his shorts and boxers kicking them away if she was going to be nude this week the least he could do was support her.

He pressed against her when he felt the telltale quivers in her thighs and fluttered his tongue as his finger curled forward running along the ridges within her that he knew drove her to the edge. She came, and he revelled in the taste staying where he was and pushing her to limits until she squirmed so much she almost rolled from the bench.

Holding her in place, he stood up with a smile and licked his lips letting his now hard cock point toward its ultimate goal. Wasting no time he stepped forward and pushed against her his hands reaching out to grip her breasts in tight handfuls as he rocked his hips pushing more and more into her until his cock was fully embedded. He groaned loudly loving the tight glove fit of her pussy around his aching cock. He couldn’t get enough of this feeling. He had taken her in every position he could think of without getting into the kinky domains, but he loved it here with the bench at just the right height for him to fuck her without any strain on his legs or back.

Joanna moaned in pleasure as he filled her to overfull taking everything he gave her. She lifted her legs bringing her knees up to her chest and opening herself up to him preparing for the intensity she knew was coming. He pulled out slowly then thrust forward hard making her yelp and whimper loudly. She looked up at his face and saw that smile that always undid her. That smile was filled with not only pleasure but the desire he felt for her and she let out a high pitch moan that melded with her whimpers.

“Oh yeah, baby,” he groaned as he began to thrust harder feeling her rocking her hips to meet each thrust as if goading him to fuck harder and more brutally. Using her breasts as handles, he pounded her revelling in every sensation. The sight and sound of her only increased the sensations his cock gave him as he sawed in and out of her wet hole. “Fuck, I’m cumming,” he groaned hoping she would come again with him

She lay on the kitchen bench basking in the afterglow and looking at the man who made her feel so good. She smiled and nuzzled into his neck. They were good together; he was considerate of her needs, not only like this she thought. The sex was amazing, but he was also supportive where her work and her friends were concerned. He was generous in indulging her hobbies and likes and dislikes, and she tried hard to embrace his in the same way even though he had a need to be constantly active that she found exhausting at times.

“So why aren’t I happy,” she asked herself. She was happy on the surface. Life was good. Deep inside though she had this idea that something was missing, and she wasn’t sure what that was. She tried without any success to find that thing that stopped her being happy and getting carried away with the new relationship. It eluded her and the more she thought about it, the bigger it became in her mind. Even here lying in his arms, she felt like something was missing and she wished she didn’t feel that way.

“Matt?” She asked. “Are you happy?”

“What sort of a question is that?” he asked lifting himself from where he had collapsed over her and propping himself on his hands to look at her. “Didn’t I just prove how happy I was?”

Joanna smiled and kissed him, but his words had opened her eyes to what was missing. They were intimate physically, but while she was emotionally invested on some level, he didn’t seem to have that same investment. For him sex equated intimacy. There just wasn’t any physicality between them that didn’t lead to sex.

She lay there thinking as they recovered. She’d gone into this knowing it would be a fun affair and not expecting a long term relationship. She wasn’t sure what she was doing looking for something deeper from him. They’d only been together for two months; she knew she was being silly, but she wasn’t sure if just having fun was what she wanted in the long term.

Seeing Michael had brought back those feelings of warmth and comfort she had with him once. Knowing that no matter what he would be there for her, support her and protect her. She knew that about Matt too, now that she thought about it. Maybe she was overthinking things, and she should just relax and enjoy it. It was fun and exciting having him in her life. It was just different to any other relationship she’d ever had. She went to rouse herself and found that he tightened his arms around her.

“Are you happy?” he asked concern darkening his features.

“I am,” she said quietly. “Life’s good. You don’t talk about what’s going on with you very often that’s why I asked. We jumped into this with both feet, and you practically moved in straight away. There was none of that get to know you time, and you don’t tend to tell me what’s going on with you unless I ask a direct question.”

“Zero to a hundred,” he said cheerfully “We’re great together, you don’t have to worry about me being unhappy. You’re stuck with me now.”

His words didn’t fill her with the joy she had thought they should or the comfort of knowing she was loved; they made her feel trapped. She never had weekends where she turned off the phone and locked the door just to recharge her batteries anymore or those special treats on a Friday night with a glass of wine and silly movie. He would never have stopped her doing any of that, she knew, but she also didn’t want him to feel excluded. There were so many things that she was putting off until after the wedding and talking to him about her need for some real alone time was one of them.

“Well we can’t lie here forever,” she said pulling away from his arms. “What does your schedule look like for this week?”

“It’s pretty full. The business is taking off. I think the council is going to charge me more for the use of that space on a daily basis. I might have to look at creating a permanent home base somewhere close to there that we can use when the weather is bad even if I do pay the extra for using the park facilities.”

“That sounds like a good idea. Do you have somewhere in mind?” she asked.

“Not really I’ve just started thinking about it now that we are getting into storm season, but I would like it to be close to the park because I like their running tracks so much.”

“I think the cycle shop just moved premises,” she suggested, “You could probably lease that fairly cheaply, and it’s just across the road from the park.” She’d seen the moving sign when she arrived for boot camp and wondered if he hadn’t noticed it.

“Really? That might be worth looking at when I have some,” he mused. “Unless you want to do it for me? It’s your idea after all.”

“I guess, but you could pop in there on your way to and from work much easier than I could. We shouldn’t leave it too long, though. I imagine it will go fast in that position. Cafés are popping up near all the parks these days,” she said. She heard herself talking to him like his mother again and grimaced. She shouldn’t do this for him she knew. He was a grown man with his own business she didn’t need to talk to him as if he didn’t know what he was doing or do these simple things for him. Feeling the cum drying on her thighs she went to walk to the bathroom but found he grabbed her hand to pull her back and kiss her.

“Talk to me,” he said. “Somethings bothering you.”

“I’m fine,” she said lightly looking away as she told the small white lie. “I’m just going to clean up. I thought I might just have a quiet afternoon maybe read my book for an hour or two.”

“Okay,” he said with a frown. “If you say so. Sundays seem to be our only times to hang out together lately with me working later and later each night and on Saturdays. Why don’t I take you out for dinner?”

“That would be nice,” she smiled. “It’s been ages since we went out on a date.” She refrained from saying aside of that first date they’d never really done something special like that again. Romance was not his strong suit, and she was okay with that because he was kind and caring in so many other ways.

*****

The following Tuesday Dave called her and invited her out for a drink. She knew Matt was working late, so she accepted. A drink wouldn’t hurt, and she would like catching up on the family news from her in-laws. She texted Matt to let him know she would be home late and who she was going out with after work.

“No boot camp tonight?” was the answering text and she frowned at it. She’d been to boot camp that morning, and she rarely did two in one day.

“Did you forget I was there this morning, lol,” she typed back quickly with a smile.

“Yes. Have fun,” he finally sent back several hours later just as she was about to leave work.

“Thanks see you at home,” she typed and left the office heading into the city. “The thing about driving herself was that he could only have one or two drinks at the most in a couple of hours so there was no chance of her embarrassing herself by getting drunk and saying something she shouldn’t.

She walked into the up-market bar feeling at home in her work clothes and looking at the other men and women who were having after work drinks. It was a far cry from the dingy local pub where Matt and his friends hung out but then she was meeting a different type of man. She heard him before she saw him and turned toward the voice.

“Hello Dave, I didn’t realise you’d invited other friends,” she said leaning in to kiss his cheek as she approached him.

“Office staff often meet for a drink after work,” he said easily and introduced her to the small group of people standing at the bar. “What can I get you? White wine?”

“A vodka lime and soda would be great,” she said surprising him.

“You’ve changed more than your look, I see,” he said and turned towards the bartender who had heard her order and nodded.

“Let’s grab a table,” he invited as soon as her drink arrived. They walked over to an area close to a piano that wasn’t being used and sat. Joanna sipped at the drink not wanting to drink it too fast and be tempted to have another.

They talked and laughed for more than an hour before she reluctantly agreed to one more drink. When he came back from the bar, Michael was with him.

“Hello Joanna,” he said bending to kiss her cheek.

“Hello, why do I get the feeling I’ve been ambushed here,” she laughed.

“I come for a drink with the guys after work most nights,” he replied easily. “I can leave you two to talk if you like,” he offered.

“No, you’re here now. You may as well sit. I don’t want people to think we are hanging onto all our baggage,” she said trying to live up to her own words about wanting to be friends. “I expect they all are wondering what your ex-wife is doing here at all.”

“I doubt they even recognise you now. You’ve made some big changes with the hair and clothes,” he refrained from mentioning her weight or how fit she looked now. The trio began to reminisce about old times and another hour had gone by along with her drink.

“Can I get you another?” Michael asked.

“No thank you, two is definitely my limit when I have to drive home,” she said assertively. “Speaking of which I should be going. This was just supposed to be a quick drink after work.”

“Why don’t you stay and have dinner, there is a great little Asian fusion place a block or so away,” Michael offered. “It’s been fun catching up.”

“I can’t tonight sorry, I have an early morning thing,” she lied. “Maybe another time?”

“Okay well, how about Thursday?” Michael asked. “I’d like more of a chance to catch up before we head up north for the wedding.”

“I have something on, but I’ll see if I can shift it,” she said not wanting to commit to anything suddenly feeling awkward. “I’ll give you a call, or you can call me if you like you have my number now. I only have your work number.”

“At least let me walk you to your car,” he offered.

“I parked downstairs, so it’s just an elevator ride. I doubt anyone would want to mug an old woman like me. Please stay and enjoy your time with your staff,” she said getting to her feet and gathering her handbag.

“Let him walk you down,” Dave said, “You know how he gets.”

“I’m going to head home anyway now, so it’s no problem to travel down with you. I’ll even validate your parking ticket,” he offered.

“It’s hard to turn down free parking,” she laughed still feeling awkward but walked out of the bar with him toward the elevators.

“I’ve missed your laugh,” Michael said quietly as they stepped into the elevator. “It was the thing that made me fall in love you so many years ago. That and your smile.”

“That’s funny,” she laughed lightly.

“How is that funny?” he asked with a frown thinking she was making fun of him.

“That’s almost the exact line Matt used on me when we got together, except he complained that I hid it too much,” she explained.

“He obviously has good taste,” Michael said grudgingly. The last thing he wanted to talk about was the new man in his ex-wife’s life. “So it’s pretty serious with you two?” he asked.

“I don’t know, its new and exciting ask me again when the thrill wears off a bit,” she continued to laugh nervously as she stepped from the elevator. “Thanks for riding down with me Michael but I can take it from here.”

“Joanna,” he said as she turned away from him. “I… I’m glad you came to see me the other day. I… missed you more than I realised.”

“We can’t go backwards Michael only forwards,” she said softly. “The memories are great but what we had is gone. It’s okay to miss it, but we have to find a new way of being around each other now and honestly, it’s a little uncomfortable despite the fact that I would like us to be friends. Please don’t make it worse by saying things like that, it just confuses me.”

“I’m sorry,” he said looking at her with sad eyes. “Was I that much of a bastard?”

“Yes,” she nodded. “I didn’t help matters either, though,” she admitted. “Let’s just take this friendship thing slowly. I needed to see you and clear the air before Justin’s wedding, but I’m not sure about this or dinner on Thursday.”

“Think about it please,” he asked stepping toward her again. “I’d like to talk to you some more about this friendship thing.”

“What about your,” she paused trying to think of the name again before she called her Barbie.

“Chaynee?” he asked and saw her nod.

“Chaynee doesn’t worry about you spending time with me?” she asked seriously.

“No,” he said not explaining any further. Chaynee had hated the fact that he had seen Joanna, and they had fought about it. It was just another in a constant stream of fights that seemed never to end, and he was so tired of the fighting. The relationship had been over for some time. He had been trying to make it work though rather than admit he had left his wife for a spoilt and selfish bitch.

“Well’ I let you know about Thursday but I need to go,” she said and walked to her car not daring to look back to see if he followed her. It was only when she got to her car that she realised he still stood where she had left him just watching from a distance. She drove past him as she exited the car park and noted the sad expression on his face.

She drove home feeling confused. She hadn’t seen him since the divorce had been made final. She had no reason to see him until recently as she continued to prepare herself to make it to Justin’s wedding. If Justin could have had just a normal wedding, none of this would be happening to her. Not her relationship with Matt and not her confusion about Michael and what he was saying about missing her. He was probably just talking in terms of friendship, but it disturbed her none-the-less.

She drove home only half concentrating on the road as she thought about the way her life had been turned upside down in the last two months. She pulled up at her little bungalow noting that Matt was home already. She was surprised she had thought he would have still been working.

She went inside and threw her bag on the bed. The two drinks and anxiousness of seeing Michael tonight had made her tired. She just wanted to have a shower and curl up on the couch with some mindless television to take her mind off the strange evening.

“Hi!” she called out from the bedroom. “How was your day?” she asked as she began stripping off her work clothes.

“Hey,” he said coming to the bedroom door to watch her undress. “I made dinner for us.”

“You did? Thank you that’s wonderful,” she said. “I didn’t feel like cooking tonight. Do I have time for a quick shower?”

“Why do you need a shower?” he frowned at her. It had bothered him all day that she had been out with another man tonight, and he worried that she may have been closer to this Dave than she had led him to believe. She was beautiful inside and out, and he had no doubt that her ex-husband was a threat to their relationship and those concerns now bubbled to the surface after her meeting with her ex-brother-in-law.

“It’s been a long day,” she said tiredly. “It’s okay I can shower after dinner,” she said hearing the strange tone in his voice. She reached for her robe feeling a slight chill in the air and deciding to wait until after her shower to redress.

“I thought this was nude week,” he eyed the robe she had picked up.

“I thought you were going to join me,” she teased wondering what he was acting so strangely tonight.

“Much better idea,” he gave her a first smile of the evening. Dropping his shorts without hesitation, he pulled off his shirt and went to take the robe she still held from her hand wrapping her in a strong embrace. “I missed you tonight.”

For the second time that night she had deja vu and wondered if she was dating a younger version of Michael. They walked to the other end of the bungalow, and she saw that he had set the table with candles glowing brightly despite the light coming from the kitchen.

“Well this is a surprise,” she said. “I’m sorry I didn’t realise, or I would have come home sooner. Are we celebrating something special?”

“Can’t I just do something nice and romantic?” he asked.

“You always do sweet things for me, but this is the first candle lit dinner,” she laughed lightly, stopping short of telling him that he was not a very romantic guy.

“How was your evening?” he asked changing the subject. “What did Dave want?”

“Just to catch up, I think. It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other,” she said easily, unsure of whether to mention Michael’s arrival or not but deciding honesty was the best policy in relationships. “We were talking about the family and what people were up to when Michael showed up.”

“I thought you were just meeting Dave,” Matt looked at her as if she had lied to him.

“That’s what I thought too. The bar we met at is where a lot of the company people go after work for a drink and Michael happened to show up tonight. I didn’t know he would be there,” she said suddenly defensive.

“So you go and see your ex and a week later your all cosy and having drinks with him?” Matt asked his tone becoming accusatory. He didn’t like where this was going and coupled with her moodiness and asking if he was happy he knew something was going on.

“Firstly I didn’t know he would be there and secondly even if I did know I probably still would have gone because I want us to have some sort of relationship again. Not an intimate relationship but at least a friendship. Secondly, we were married for twenty years, and we have a child together. He’s always going to be part of my life whether I like it or not and it will be much easier if we are friends,” she tried to explain. “I don’t know why you’re acting like I’m cheating on you or something.”

“I never said that,” he argued back thinking it was probably going to happen. “You haven’t even seen him for three years, now that you’re looking great again he’s suddenly showing up to have drinks with you? That’s a bit convenient isn’t it?” He objected. He was having trouble hiding his anger at her for being so naïve. She was hotter than ever, and he’d be a fool not to want her back.

He’d been here before. He’d fallen hard for another woman who had been separated for almost a year. He hadn’t realised that she was only using him to make her husband jealous and win him back. He wondered if this was why she had finally asked him to go with her to the wedding. His anger let the feeling of being used grow in his mind.

“You sound jealous,” she accused. “I have no interest in being cosy with Michael. “That bridge was burnt and torn down by some really ugly scenes and words. I don’t hate him, but I am not stupid. Like I said you can’t go backwards only forwards in this life.”

“When did you say that?” he frowned at her making her realise she had said that to Michael, not Matt.

“It’s one of the things I say all the time, like a mantra almost,” she shrugged. “You must have heard me say it at least once in the time we’ve been together. That’s not the point here. I put up with gorgeous women like Carla throwing themselves at you day after day, and I deal with it because I trust you. You need to show me the same sort of trust.”

“That’s hardly the same thing. As you pointed out, you were married to the man for a long time and had a child with him. That bonds you on a much deeper level where feelings are always on the surface.” Matt continued to argue.

“Is that why you come home early and made dinner for me? You worried about me seeing Michael again?” Joanna was trying to work out why he was so angry. “I don’t care what he thinks of my relationship. I invited you to that wedding didn’t I?”

“You haven’t seen him for three years and all of a sudden with the wedding looming you see him twice in a week?” He said angrily. “I’ve been here before. My ex used me to get back together with her husband after they separated. I don’t want to go through that again. I can’t believe you would do this to me.” His voice became hard and accusatory. “You’ve just used me to make yourself look more desirable to him. Make him jealous and feel bad about how he treated you and I fell for it. Again!” he raged finally losing control of his emotions.

“You haven’t listened to me at all! I haven’t done anything wrong. You’re the one who pursued me not the other way around in case you’ve forgotten. We’ve been together two months, I had twenty years with Michael, you can’t seriously think I would never see him ever again. Our son’s getting married and what if they decide to adopt kids. I can guarantee Michael and I will see a lot of each other then,” she shook her head becoming mad that he was so judgemental of her and her motives for wanting a friendship with her ex-husband. “I don’t love him or want him back. You are being unreasonable!”

“This is bullshit!” he shouted. “I never thought you would do this to me. I should have fucking known when you wouldn’t help me with that cycle shop thing and then it was too late.” He gave her a disgusted look. “Well, you can forget about trotting me out to show off at the wedding because this is over!”

“Well you got something right tonight,” she stood up and left the table going into her room and slamming the door behind her. She couldn’t believe what he was accusing her of. She wouldn’t ever use him in such a way. She could hear him banging things around in the kitchen, but she wasn’t ready to talk to him again and be the bigger person, getting him to calm down and stay with her. She wasn’t some loved starved, abused woman who was grateful that he gave her affection. She walked into the bathroom and turned on the shower.

She stood under the hot water for a long time going over their argument in her mind. She realised he must have been very hurt by a woman who had used him in such a way, but that was no reason to accuse her of the same thing. She realised just how little they knew each other. She was calm again by the time she got out of the shower, and she walked out into the bungalow planning on talking to him rationally so they could sort this out.

He wasn’t there she realised after a quick search. She peeked out of her bedroom window and found his car was gone too. Saddened that he had taken off rather than cool down and talk to her reasonably, she went to bed and lay there thinking about what a mess her life had become.

*****

Matt had been in the house during the following day. She noted that his gear had disappeared from where he normally kept it. She didn’t go to boot camp because she felt awkward after he hadn’t called her when she had left a message for him and several texts. After two days of silence from him, she went to her boss and claimed a family emergency then using Michaels willingness to indulge their new friendship she organised to fly up to Cairns a week early to spend some time with Justin and help with any wedding plans. Before leaving she sent Matt an email explaining how sad she was that he had not returned her calls and that she had gone to Cairns early to help her son with the wedding plans.

Feeling frustrated she added a side note that she would have her phone if he grew up enough to talk to her reasonably without accusing her of cheating on him when she had done nothing wrong. She knew it was immature, but she couldn’t believe they had broken up over something that had only happened in his mind not reality.

In the last two days, she had missed him and all of the ways he made her feel good about herself, but she had also not been so upset that she couldn’t enjoy being able to do what she wanted when she wanted again. The night before she left she sat on her back patio sharing a bottle of wine with Melanie and talking through how she felt about everything that had happened in the last week.

Melanie had told the girls that Joanna wasn’t well and then that she had decided to go up north early for a bit of a holiday before the wedding, and that’s why they hadn’t seen her at boot camp. Matt, grateful for the lack of fallout from the breakup, had gone along with the story that Melanie had come up with to protect her best friend.

“So you’re not entertaining the idea of getting involved with Michael again? Even if he crawls on his knees and begs you to give him a second chance?” Melanie asked sceptically.

“No, what we had is gone. I would always be waiting for him to find something new and shiny to play with. Even if it wasn’t another woman, there would be something else to distract him and hold his attention. I couldn’t live like that again, waiting for the other shoe to drop,” she said sadly. “I want us to be friends and be able to talk about Justin and grandchildren if we ever have any.”

“Well that’s a relief,” Melanie said. “And Matt? Just a long overdue rebound guy?”

“I don’t know about that,” Joanna laughed. “I cared about him, a lot, but we never had that dating time to get to know each other, we got together and practically lived together within a week. We were making it work based on good sex and endorphins rather than a real relationship where we got to know each other on a deeper level,” she explained. “He never told me he had hang ups about ex-husbands, and I never told him that I didn’t like certain things that came up either. I feel like I compromised with all the things that bothered me and the first time he came to a road block he gave up. He won’t return my calls, and I’m not some love-starved woman who will chase after him and make a scene in public.”

“So it’s over?” Melanie asked carefully.

“I think we need to talk but if I am honest, yes. It’s over. I don’t think I was ever in it for the long haul. We just came from totally different places in our lives,” Joanna said thoughtfully. “I guess the fact that he won’t even talk to me now proves that point. It was such a stupid argument but at the end of the day Michael will always be part of my life in some way, and if I ever date again, which is highly unlikely, they will have to understand that.”

“You don’t think you’ll date again?” Melanie frowned at her friend.

“It was fun with Matt, but I’m not cut out for a relationship based on sex alone. I need more I need someone who likes romance and tender moments as much as sex,” she sighed. “Matt’s a wonderful guy, he considerate and he tries to do the things he thinks I like but if I just wanted a cuddle or a quick kiss it immediately escalated. Like he couldn’t just have a moment or understand that my cuddle was not an invitation to screw me. The whole time we were together I never saw a whole movie from beginning to end.”

“No wonder you’re looking so healthy at the moment. Just remember without all that bedroom exercise you’ll have to keep up with the fitness side of things on your own if you want to keep this super-hot new body of yours. Not that I mind, your old body looked pretty good to me too,” Melanie said with a smile.

“That’s what I need, someone like you who can just accept me the way I am warts and all,” she laughed. “We should just become a couple and live happily ever after,” she joked.

“Okay,” Melanie said. “Let’s give up on the male race and see. We live together for a week out of every month, anyway, and I’ll admit I’ve been curious about women for a while now.” She said it so matter-of-factly that Joanna did a double take. “You’ve never considered another woman you knew was a lesbian and wondered what it would be like?” Melanie asked, refilling their wine glasses, not wanting to scare her friend by admitting she’d been curious about her for a while now.

“Maybe but I never considered it as a reality,” she looked at her friend and wondered if she was serious or if she was teasing to gauge her reaction to the idea of lesbianism.

“Maybe we should because neither of our choices in men have been great and let’s face it we love each other already. The only thing missing from our relationship is the sex part. We’ve loved each other for over thirty years maybe it’s time to accept we will never find a man that will love us the way we need to love.” Melanie said. “People expect us to show up together where ever we go already so if the sex is good what more do we need?”

“Have you ever been with a woman?” Joanna asked nervously not believing she was seriously having this conversation.

“There was a night when I was really drunk that I think I might have, but I don’t remember enough about it, and men were involved too, so it doesn’t count,” she laughed drinking more wine. “If it doesn’t feel good, we can stop and blame the wine for a ludicrous idea, and you can go off to Cairns tomorrow as if nothing ever happened.”

“And if it’s good?” Joanna asked laughing with her.

“Then I come to Cairns with you tomorrow, and we spend a week getting to know each other in a whole new way,” she grinned. “Like a honeymoon after the wedding night.”

“You’re serious aren’t you?” Joanna said sobering slightly.

“As a heart attack,” Melanie looked at her and nodded. “I’ve been thinking about it for a while but thought you weren’t ready to hear it. Maybe now that you’ve been with someone else and can let go of the past with Michael…”

“You have?” Joanna was not just surprised she was stunned as she took in what Melanie was saying without the confusion of whether she was teasing her or not. Melanie stood and dragged her chair closer to Joanna’s.

“Look, you’re hot as fuck at the moment, and I can admit that I have been seriously thinking about this since my last break up. I know you, I love you, and I can’t think of anyone else in the world that I would rather share my life with,” she paused watching Joanna face. “We already share so much why not take it that one step further?” Melanie asked reasonably leaning closer to Joanna.

Joanna didn’t know what to say. They’d drunk a lot of wine and had talked about so much that what Melanie was saying just seemed so logical to her at that moment. She had doubts about how they would feel come tomorrow, but as her friend leaned closer, Joanna reached up and touched her cheek moving the rest of the way to her and kissed her lightly. They pulled apart a little way and Melanie licked her lips as if savouring the taste.

“Different, softer, nice. I’d like to do that again,” she grinned. Then she leaned forward and kissed Joanna lengthening the kiss and parting her lips to snake her tongue out over her friend’s lips and humming softly as she felt Joanna reciprocate their tongues tentatively touching then dancing together in a slow sensuous way. It was a long time before they parted again, breathless and smiling at each other.

“I want this,” Melanie said huskily, “I think you do too,” her smile widened. She reached out and held Joanna’s hand, picking up her wine and sipping at it as she waited for her friend to speak.

“You’re a good kisser,” Joanna said picking up her wine and enjoying the feel of the soft hand in her own. “I’ve never even considered something like this before but now I’m wondering what else you’re good at,” she giggled nervously and blushed brightly.

“I can kiss other places just as well,” Melanie almost purred at the invitation and leaned forward to kiss her again. “Maybe we could take our wine inside and find out just how good that might feel?”

They stood and took their wine into the living room sitting on the couch facing each other. Melanie watched Joanna for a few moments the smile on her face showing in her eyes as she looked at the friend she had loved for so long. She had been in relationships with men like the good woman she had been brought up to be, but as she grew older, her thoughts had turned more and more towards the women in her life.

She’d never been brave enough to admit her feelings to anyone or share her interest in lesbian erotica despite talking to Joanna about everything. She had resigned herself to remaining in the closet with her fantasies. But now, made brave by the alcohol and circumstance all she wanted to do was make her best friend her lover.

“What?” Joanna asked suddenly self-conscious under Melanie’s heated gaze.

“I was just thinking about how lucky I am to have you in my life. You get me. I don’t know whether to blame the wine or the circumstances for you being here like this, willing to see what happens next, but I don’t care. I want this so badly. I thought it would never happen, and I would be left longing and wishing I was brave enough to tell you how I felt,” Melanie said quietly inching closer to Joanna and reaching out to run her fingers over Joanna’s cheek and neck. “I’m so glad you’re here.”

“I am too,” she smiled shyly. “I love you as my friend, and I’m scared that this will change things,” she whispered feeling Melanie’s hand drift over her shoulder to her chest.

“Just relax,” Melanie murmured leaning towards her to kiss her. “Everything will be wonderful.” She pressed her lips to Joanna and felt the other woman relax and give in to the feeling of the soft lips against hers. The kissed deepened as she moved her hands underneath Joanna’s shirt to caress her breasts and was pleasantly surprised not to find a bra.

Melanie broke the kiss and lifted the shirt over Joanna’s head smiling as she put up no resistance, giving in to what was happening between them. Leaning Joanna back against the arm of the couch and nibbled at her neck before straightening to remove her own shirt. She knelt on the couch straddling her friend before leaning back over her to take her mouth in another passionate kiss. Her excitement building, she caressed the big soft globes of flesh moving so that her own breasts rubbed against those her hands enjoyed.

Joanna felt the kisses become more intense and lifted her hands to Melanie’s back caressing her lightly. Her eyes were closed, and she let herself be carried by the strange feelings of naughty pleasure she felt at what was happening between them.

Feeling Joanna’s tentative, gentle caresses, Melanie moaned softly into the kiss and began to nibble down her neck again only she didn’t stop there but continued onto her breasts. She had seen it done many times, read about sapphic love in hundreds of stories online recently and while she may not have ever held, caressed, kissed, or sucked on breasts before she knew what she liked and plan to find out what Joanna liked.

She licked the nipple blowing warm air on the wet and sensitive pink flesh watching it pucker and harden further before taking it into the warm cavern of her mouth and sucking it gently at first. Then hungry for more and encouraged by the small purring sounds Joanna was making she bit into it lightly and tugged letting her teeth scrape over the hardened nub before letting it go to bounce back against her chest. She lifted a hand to the wet nipple as she hungrily devoured the other giving it similar treatment.

With her secret fantasies coming true she lifted her head and grinned at Joanna as her hand worked to move beneath her and undo the skirt she wore and tugged it down her legs. She placed a hand between her thighs feeling Joanna’s already wet underwear and smiled wider. Moving it to the side, she ran a finger the length of her slit and then lifted it to her lips. She locked eyes with Joanna and traced it over her lips before snaking her tongue out to lick at the essence of her lover. She then returned it to the wet pussy sliding the finger up and down the slit delving deeper each time and teasing at her sensitive clit before inserting the digit inside the wet hole seeking more of the gooey goodness.

Joanna held Melanie’s eyes blushing deeply at her obvious arousal from of Melanie actions. She felt the fingers working on her and unable to hold the gaze any longer closed her eyes and moaned at the pleasure of feelings she gave her. The fingers left her momentarily as her panties were removed but they quickly returned and were joined by her mouth. Joanna sighed in pleasure lowering her hands to play with her lover’s hair as she ate her so divinely.

Melanie continued with the theory that Joanna would like what she liked and began using all of the tricks she had ever had done to her over the years of being sexually active. She used her tongue teeth and lips in conjunction with her fingers to bring Joanna to the point of no return rapidly and couldn’t believe how good she felt and tasted. She could stay between this woman’s legs for hours and be happy. She grinned as Joanna’s thighs shook with her impending orgasm.

“Oh God,” Joanna groaned deeply clamping her legs on each side of Melanie’s head and pulling her face closer as she rode a wave of intense pleasure that left her a quivering mess of tingling nerve endings. “Stop, please stop,” she gasped after a while unable to take anymore and pulling Melanie’s head away from her pussy.

Melanie climbed up her body, her face shiny with cum and grinned at Joanna leaning in to kiss her deeply and share the exquisite taste with her. Having enough of being the bottom and wanting to experience everything along with her friend and lover she urged Melanie to remove her jeans and underwear, helping her as best she could from her position before wriggling around until their positions were reversed.

She knelt up straddling Melanie’s body and gazed down at her beautiful sexy friend. She gazed into the green eyes and saw a smile appear on the full lips. Surprisingly she blushed as Joanna took in the sight wondering why she had never considered her as a lover in the past. She was gorgeous, sexy, and she had loved her for over thirty years.

Joanna leaned forward and kissed her, before tracing the same path down her body that Melanie had done to her. She proceeded to trace her way down her breasts, over her stomach and further down to the legs that parted so eagerly for her. She kissed both thighs holding her legs open and not touching her yet seeing the tell-tale quivers she often experienced herself showing in the flesh there.

She breathed in the scent there, her barriers falling away as she snaked out a tongue to taste another woman. She let her tongue trace the lips of Melanie’s pussy stopping now and then to push her tongue deeper and tease the clit. Then using her fingers to spread the lips she moved down to taste her inserting her tongue into the warm wet hole.

“Fuck!” Melanie yelled, and her hand moved down to rub her clit as Joanna’s hands remained on her thighs.

“Let me,” Joanna murmured grabbing Melanie’s hand and moving it away. She went back to eating her friend and savouring the taste as her fingers began to rub over the clit stopping ever so often to pinch or smack it giving little bursts of pain making Melanie cry out and buck her hips for more. She pushed on finger into her lover’s pussy moving her head up to the clit sucking it. She added and another finger as Melanie bucked and ground up against her face. She came hard coating Joanna’s hand and tongue in cum. Joanna gently eased her back down to earth lapping at the cum like a kitten before squirming up over the sexy body and kissing her and offering her gooey fingers to taste.

Melanie grabbed Joanna’s ass in both hands pushing against her body and grinding up against her pussy to pussy. “I know this sounds so wrong, but I wish I had a cock right now, so I could fuck you so hard and make you forget every man you’ve ever known,” she said her voice heated, and lust filled.

“What you didn’t bring your strap-on to seduce me with?” Joanna laughed.

“If I’d know you were so hot and delicious I would have done that a lot sooner and we would be fucking right now,” Melanie said fervently.

“Listen to you getting all butch and dominant,” she teased with a smile, liking the idea. “You can be in the Sydney Mardi Gras with the Dyke’s on Bikes group!” She laughed. “The paparazzi will love that.”

“Let’s go to bed and I’ll show you how much I love doing you,” Melanie said in a husky voice still grinding up against her and gripping her ass tightly.

“You don’t want to finish our wine first?” Joanna asked looking toward the coffee table.

“That wine doesn’t taste half as good as you do,” Melanie said pushing her up and standing up beside her. She picked up her wine glass and gulped it down. “Finished, now can we go to bed?” she said taking Joanna hand and pulling her in the direction of the bedroom.

“At least let me lock the doors and turn the lights off first,” Joanna laughed.

“Fine but only because I have to pee,” Melanie let her hand go and disappeared into the bedroom.

Joanna picked up the wine glasses finishing hers in a gulp as well. She was stunned at how easily she had fallen into bed so to speak with her best friend. She wondered if she had always had these feelings on some level. She certainly always loved and been attracted to Melanie but she was famous, she had thought everyone felt like that. They’d been at school in the eighties when being homosexual or lesbian was still reasonably taboo especially when the AIDS epidemic hit.

They’d been at a conservative private school where even talk of such things was seen as taboo, and talk of lemons and dykes was more common than lesbianism. The term lipstick lesbian hadn’t even been invented back then. Had she and Melanie both repressed feelings or was it just that everything that had happened in her lives over the last decade had just led them to acknowledge that their long term friendship was better than any relationship they had ever maintained with the opposite sex. She was getting ahead of herself she realised but it had felt so good she hoped they wouldn’t regret this in the morning.

Melanie came out of the bedroom again to find her and grabbed her kissing her aggressively. “I’ve decided you’re right. I’m the butch one in this relationship. I want to be the top, and I want you to get into bed like I asked you to do five minutes ago,” she said in a deeper husky version of her voice but smiled to soften the demand.

Joanna looked up into her green eyes and saw the heat and desire there and melted a little. Just like when Matt had been possessive and aggressive she found herself turned on by the need in Melanie’s words and body language. She wanted this as much as Melanie did at that point, this was her best friend in the world, they had history and genuine love and now so much more.

“Yes, Ma’am,” she giggled and teased Melanie knowing she was only half serious and happy for her to take the lead in this strange new relationship they were exploring.

*****

Melanie had needed to pack and do a few things the following day, so she had driven Joanna to the airport and warned her not to overthink everything too much. She’d managed to book a flight later that day and organise a room at the same hotel where Joanna was staying. She was conscious as always of the media and thought it best to have her own room just in case they found her in Cairns again and assumed she was staying with Harry, who she’d been seen kissing several months ago. Having a hotel booking and been seen there without him should allay all those rumours.

“I’ll call you when I land,” Melanie said. “We can order room service if you like unless Justin and Tom are available for dinner.”

“Going up early was so spur of the moment I’m not even sure he knows yet. I sent him an email, but he hasn’t responded,” Joanna said checking her phone quickly before hopping out of the car and grabbing the one bag she was taking with her.

“God I’d love to kiss you right now,” Melanie said pulling her close and embracing her. They’d talked about the media presence in Melanie’s life and the need to keep everything between them private until they had worked out how they wanted to handle their relationship and telling those closest to them.

They’d talked a lot last night and this morning about what had pushed Melanie to make her move finally and what would happen next for them. Joanna had been surprised by Melanie’s confession that she had been jealous of Joanna’s interest in Matt, and that was why she had gone back to her place earlier than expected. She was glad that she had let it play out now, but she had been unhappy at the time.

Joanna wondered how she had jumped from one relationship straight into another. That wasn’t the sort of person she was. In all honesty, she had been happy the last three years she had been alone. She realised she hadn’t been alone, though; Mel had been there with her, loving her and supporting her as a friend. She tried to convince herself that Matt was an anomaly and that given time she and Melanie may have gone down this road regardless of her affair with him. But she knew it wasn’t true in all likely hood they would have just continued as they were.

Melanie had also admitted that until now she had believed that if Michael ever tried to get her back that Joanna would forgive him and go back to the marriage. Seeing her turn down Michaels obvious advances and then not fall apart over Matt’s childish behaviour had convinced her that she was ready to move on with her life. Melanie had decided that Matt was no more than a long overdue rebound relationship that had been doomed from the beginning.

In Melanie’s version, Matt had an Oedipus complex and wanted someone who would devote themselves to him and his life like a mother would. He was looking for that unconditional love and like an only child was not happy to share her attention with anyone else no matter the reason.

On the plane, Joanna knew she was overthinking it, but she couldn’t help it. Three months ago she had gone to a sleepover with her school friends as a frumpy little woman old before her time and had turned into some sort of middle-aged nymphomaniac. Melanie would appreciate that description she thought and smiled softly to herself. She picked up the in-flight magazine and flicked through it stopping at an article entitled, “Are You Happy?”

She read through the article. It was a spiritualistic view of the age-old platitude that no one can make you happy but you. You have to give yourself permission to be happy regardless of what other people in your life might think. If you spend your life making others happy and forget about you, then you become fatigued and depressed. She thought about Melanie and smiled again. She was happy and confused, scared, excited, and unbelievably horny now. She smiled softly remembering their night together. She’d never even considered being with a woman before but she took to it like a duck to water, she could almost taste the other woman on her lips as she licked them mindlessly.

She’d taken the shuttle from the airport to the hotel and checked in. There was a message from Justin waiting for her when she arrived, and she quickly turned her phone back on seeing the missed call. He had to work this week, but he would love for her to have dinner with him and Tom and that he would meet her in the hotel lobby at seven.

Smiling happily, she texted him, “See you at seven. Mum.” Then she went to her room to lie down for an hour. She and Melanie had barely slept last night, and she had never been able to sleep on planes, so she was exhausted. Setting the alarm on her phone, she rested it beside her pillow and closed her eyes thinking about being here in this luxurious place with Melanie.

Joanna woke with fright as her phone rang beside her. Thinking it was her alarm she sat up wondering why it hadn’t stopped once, she swiped it. It took her a moment to remember where she was and when the phone started to ring again she picked it up and looked at it.

“Hey you,” she said with a smile.

“Hey, lover,” Melanie’s voice greeted her. I got everything I needed done in record time and caught an earlier flight. Wanna meet me in the lobby in twenty minutes? I’m just getting the keys to a hire car, and I will be there.”

“I’ll be there,” Joanna said the excitement in her voice matching that of her friends. “We have dinner plans with Justin and Tom though it was just a message, so they don’t know you’re here yet.”

“Excellent,” Melanie enthused. “I’m glad the little twerp got your messages and replied.”

Joanna had a quick shower and changed into one of the dressed she knew Melanie liked and went down to the lobby. Taking a seat, she picked up a few brochures for the tours they had available in the area and leafed through them wondering if she and Melanie could do a few of the touristy things while they were here.

Melanie arrived and swept her into a string embrace just as they would have before last night, but Joanna felt self-conscious now and didn’t want anyone to think any different of them. Melanie released her and smiled.

“I’ve miss you, Darling, come on let’s get me all checked in,” she said and linked arms with Joanna walking over to the lobby reception. Being used to travel and the perks of being somewhat famous Melanie asked for her car to be parked, and her bags brought up to her room.

“Anything else we can help you with Miss Rush?” the concierge asked placing the keys on the counter top.

“I’m expecting a case to be delivered this evening. Could you make sure it is delivered to my room straight away,” she smiled warmly and took the keys turned toward the elevator linking her arm through Joanna’s again. “We’ve booked into resorts together a million time before. There’s no need to worry about what anyone thinks. Only we know what happened last night,” she murmured softly as they rode the elevator up to her floor.

“I feel like it’s written all over my face,” Joanna laughed.

“That great big L on your forehead stands for loser not lesbian,” Melanie teased with a low chuckle.

“Well that’s a relief then, so I don’t have to worry about this goofy smile all the time then,” Joanna giggled as they got out of the elevator. “Do you want to see my room first?” she asked reaching her door before that of Melanie’s bigger suite at the end of the corridor. After an answering nod, she let them in closing the door firmly behind them.

Melanie had done a lot of her own thinking this morning and on the flight up despite warning Joanna not to over-think things. She knew for this to work she would need to take charge initially and be the more dominant personality. Her realisation that she was interested in women and more than a little bit curious about having a lesbian affair had been present for a long time now and had grown steadily until she had finally acted on it. She knew that this was all new to Joanna, and their ideas about what they wanted in the relationship were probably quite different.

“You don’t have to change the way we act together outside this room,” Melanie said softly kissed Joanna tenderly. “Out there we are still the best of friends who have loved each other for forever,” he kissed her again deepening the kiss. In here, though, we can express that love in an entirely different way.”

“You’re used to having a public persona and a private persona,” Joanna laughed her arms wrapped around the other woman’s waist. “I’ve never had to be anyone’s dirty little secret before,” she grimaced.

“You’ve always been my secret love. Our whole lives, it’s been you I went to when I wanted to hide away from the publicity or my love life or anything, even when I didn’t have an excuse I knew with you I was safe. The only difference now is that we’re dirty together,” she grinned.

Joanna thought about this as she melted into another passionate kiss. “I didn’t mean it in a bad way. It’s kind of exciting I know the reasons we are being secretive, and I agree with them. But here in private,” she let her hands glide over Melanie’s back down to her ass making the other woman smile. “I can’t believe how much I taste you again,” she admitted surprising Melanie, who raised an eyebrow. “I’ve been horny since you dropped me at the airport and I’ve never thought this much about sex before. “I think you’ve made me into a lesbian nymphomaniac!” she laughed.

“Maybe we’ve both just been fighting the same feelings and worked out what is right for us. Better late than never,” she grinned. “Seeing as you have a need,” Melanie stepped away and removed her panties then went to sit on the couch sliding down until her ass was on the edge. She spread her legs wide and smiled at Joanna, who needed no further invitation crawling between her legs and lapping at the already wet pussy being offered.

“Oh God, this is so much better than I imagined,” she sighed in pleasure and looked own on her friend in one of the positions she had favored when watching lesbian porn. They could be equal in every other aspect of their lives if she wanted but seeing Joanna crawl between her thighs she knew she wanted to be the dominant partner in the bedroom. “There are so many things I want to do to you and with you,” her voice caught as Joanna slide a finger into her. “I am going to fuck you like you’ve never been fucked before tonight.”

She had no qualms about saying those things to Joanna. They may make love in time once the initial excitement and lust of new sex had worn off but in her mind, she wanted it hot, raw and nasty. She wanted fucking not love making. She closed her eyes her thoughts making her even hotter as the fingers and lips did incredible things to her pussy.

*****

Dinner with Justin and Tom had been wonderful, and they had enjoyed the time immensely. Joanna had been quietly happy about Justin’s enthusiastic reaction to her new look and commented on how happy she looked. He had been disappointed to hear of her recent break up with Matt, but he had obviously worked wonders for her.

They teased her mercilessly about being a cougar urged on by Melanie’s recollections of the couple together and the photo’s she had on her phone of them together. Far from being embarrassed Joanna laughed with them

“Dad says you’ve been to see him and that you two are attempting a friendship,” Justin said sceptically.

“Yeah I thought it was time we made peace, especially with your wedding coming up and having to be so close to him dressed in nothing but a smile,” she laughed. “I don’t know how I will ever actually make it onto that island, but I can’t miss your big day.”

“Yeah you’re a bit of a twerp,” Melanie said using her favourite word for her godson. “Why on earth would you want flabby old people baring all in your wedding photos?”

“There won’t be any photo’s,” Justin laughed. “Yu can’t take camera’s on the island, not even your phone’s.”

“Just as well, have you seen your father lately? He looks positively old,” Joanna shook her head sadly. “Now tell me is there anything I can do for the wedding while I am here? The reception maybe? You’re having that on your Uncle Harry’s boat, Tom?”

“Yep, but don’t call it a boat in front of him. It’s a bit bigger than the average boat, more like a cruiser,” he explained. “You two lovely ladies don’t have to lift a finger. Just relax and work on your tans. Have a holiday. Justin tells me you haven’t had time off work since you got that job.”

“There are a few things I’d like to do while we’re here. I’d love your mum be able to enjoy them with me. Maybe a trip out to the tablelands and up to Port Douglas,” Melanie said easily. “I hear the Barren Falls are flowing after all the recent rain up this way. I imagine the gondola ride to Kuranda is pretty spectacular.”

“Yeah you should totally do all of that and more, you know the mama bear will just hang around the hotel if you don’t make her go out and have an adventure,” Justin enthused.

“I think you’ll find the change in her more than just cosmetic,” Melanie grinned. “She’s embracing all manner of new things in her life. I’m making sure of it while she’s open to new ideas.”

“I’m sorry I can’t get a few days off but I’m cashing in all my leave for the honeymoon,” Justin said to Joanna.

“Oh don’t be sorry baby bear,” she looked at him with a smile. “I’m sure Melanie will keep me busy enough that the time will fly by. I’m just happy to be here, and I’m looking forward to the big day. I’m so happy for you both.”

“Well some of us have to work tomorrow so, we’ll be back to pick you up Saturday morning. Dad’s flying in Thursday night I think, just so you’re not surprised to see him around the hotel with Chaynee,” Justin said.

“And Harry’s up in Port Moresby at the moment, but he’ll be back, and I am sure keen to catch up with you Melanie,” Tom grinned.

“That will be wonderful won’t it Jojo?” Melanie asked her.

“Fabulous,” she agreed. “Just one big happy family all together for the most amazing wedding ever!” She laughed at the expression on the boys faces, but she had meant it. Wrapped up in her cocoon of new love she couldn’t have cared less when Michael arrived, and she hoped that Melanie felt the same about Harry. They farewelled to the two young men and walked along the foreshore back to their hotel.

“I have to admit you were right again,” Joanna said.

“Yeah, the dinner went well. Nothing out of the ordinary,” Melanie said softly.

“I was talking about the lingerie,” Joanna laughed. “The dinner was great, they look so in love and happy. I’m glad they came across for it.”

“You like wearing something sexy underneath that dress?” Melanie said quietly a slow smile turning up her lips.

“I do, but I’m not sure if it’s the lovely feeling you told me it gave the wearer of having a naughty secret or whether it was the fact that you knew and that you liked it so much. Either way, I’m hornier than ever,” she admitted. The fact that she could talk to Melanie like this was a benefit of thirty years of honest, open friendship and it made this relationship even better in her mind.

“I love you,” Melanie said softly leaning close as she said it. “You’re everything I ever wanted in a lover and so much more. Let’s get back to the hotel and see if your present has been delivered yet.” She giggled excitedly as Joanna gave her a surprised look. “Okay it’s a present for me really, but you are going to enjoy it trust me!”

She’d shopped online that morning and ordered the present from a local business asking for it to be delivered to the hotel by close of business today. She knew the package would be waiting in her room when she returned, and she was quivering in heated excitement at the thought of it. They hurried back to the hotel and up to the room.

The package was sitting on the table in the suite. It’s plain brown paper wrapping as obvious as if the adult shop had plastered their name across it. At that moment she didn’t care, and she picked up the package taking it and Joanna with her to sit on the couch.

“This week, while we are here alone without any interruptions I want us to be honest with each other about what it is we want, what we like and what we fantasise about,” she said brushing a stray lock of hair back from Joanna’s face. “We might not like everything the other one does, but I am hoping we can play and experiment with all the things we have ever wondered about with the same excitement that we had last night. No judgements just willing eagerness to make each other happy in every aspect of our lives including sex.”

“I’d want that too,” Joanna said softly looking up at Melanie. “I want that more than I could’ve ever imagined. You lead, and I will follow you, just like last night because I love you and trust you more than anyone else in my life.”

“I love you too,” Melanie kissed her. “I meant everything I said last night. I want to be the dominant one in bed. I want to fuck you stupid and leave you a quivering mess so that I can lick you up like a delicious morsel and fuck you all over again.” Her voice had become husky with her arousal and thoughts of what was in the package.

She opened the package revealing several sex toys including a strap-on dildo. Watching Joanna’s face, she spread the toys out on the low coffee table, she wanted to use each one eventually but more than anything she wanted to use the strap-on. It was at the heart of her most recent fantasies about Joanna, and she ripped open its individual packaging eager to try it on.

It looked lengthy and sturdy, and she wrapped her hand around the black rubbery shaft, just below the enlarged head. It was the sort of think most women fantasised about she imagined and smiled as she held the big black cock up for Joanna to see properly.

“Why don’t you hold this for a moment while I get undressed,” she grinned and stood up. “You know you want to,” she laughed watching Joanna reach out and tentatively wrap her hand around the cock near its base.

“I do,” Joanna whispered and blushed deeply hardly taking her eyes off the ebony monster.

Melanie stripped quickly and once naked, she set about fitting the dildo to her; it wasn’t that easy, and she had to refer to the enclosed instructions a couple of times. There were three straps. One for each leg and the other to go around the waist. She eventually worked out that she had to step into the leg straps, like a pair of panties, position the dildo then do the waistband with the velcro fastening at the back. The cock itself was fixed to a curved plastic plate, which needed to be positioned at the base of the pubic triangle. It would then run from there down and round between her legs.

“Careful positioning of the clitoral and vaginal wedge is essential for the wearer to gain maximum sensation as well as provide it to the recipient,” Joanna read the instructions. Melanie held it in her hands and moved quite hard in a wanking motion. The surge that rushed through her from the pressure on her clit and lips was wonderful.

Leaving Joanna on the couch, she walked into the bedroom and looked at herself in the floor to ceiling mirrors on the wardrobe doors. Her heart pounded as she saw herself. The pale skin of her stomach, thighs, chest and breasts accentuated the blackness of the dildo. Her narrow waist, flat stomach, slim body, full breasts and rounded bum emphasised the sheer size of the cock. As she looked at herself in the mirror from a variety of angles, she was touching and stroking it, which felt incredible. It was all so fucking sexy. She couldn’t understand why she felt that way but the sheer pleasure it gave her made her hotter than ever. It worked, it did exactly what it claimed in the blurb. As she fucked her hand, the clever design of the ‘clitoral and vaginal wedge’ in effect fucked her.

“Touch it, Joanna,” Melanie whispered walking back to her friend and lover. She was a little worried that it may have frightened her remembering that she had not had as much time to come to terms with her lesbian tendencies, and she had. She was suddenly nervous that Joanna was not as sexually adventurous as she. She needn’t have worried for, although she was correct in thinking that it slightly frightened Joanna, she couldn’t be aware just how much the show she had put on with the big black cock had excited her. Joanna smiled at Melanie.

“You have been busy,” she said reaching out and running her fingertips up and down its impressive length, shivering slightly at the thought of the thick dildo stretching her pussy.

“Pleased?” Melanie asked anxiously, pulling Joanna to her feet and looking into her eyes.

“Pleased, nervous, excited,” Pick an emotion Joanna laughed. She kept her hand on the cock and rubbed it knowing it gave Melanie pleasure.

Melanie kissed her then her hands moving to drop the straps of Joanna’s dress from her shoulders and gaze at the lingerie she had given her to wear tonight. Letting the dress puddle at Joanna’s feet she pulled her nipples from the half cup bra feeling the hard pink flesh already stiff with arousal. “Leave the bra garter belt and stockings,” Melanie murmured huskily. “You look so fucking hot like that. These,” she flicked the elastic of the black thong, “must go.” Then she stepped back slightly and smiled an almost evil smile as Joanna hastily complied and stood with her breasts hanging over the edge of the too tight half-cups and her pussy framed by the garter belt and stockings. Melanie had never seen anything so sexy, and it was hers to suck and fuck all night if she wished.

As Melanie rebelled in the sight before her so did Joanna. She noted the stark the comparison between Melanie’s sheer femininity and the overt maleness of the black cock which created a strangely sexy picture. She wanted that cock. She wanted Melanie to fuck her senseless just as she had told her she would.

Melanie was feeling wildly excited now. The idea of actually fucking Joanna had been in her mind for ages, and now it was becoming a reality she could scarcely believe it.

“Does it look as good as it feels?” Melanie asked.

“Yes,” Joanna whispered.

“And are you ok with it? Because now is the time to say no if you’re going to,” Melanie warned.

“Yes, yes I am,” Joanna gulped. “I’d like you to fuck me.”

“Not yet,” Melanie narrowed her eyes. “This is my fantasy, and I’d like you to play along, please,” she said a hint of desperation in her voice as she stood still a small distance apart negotiating a scene she had fantasised about for so long. “Kneel down for me, baby.”

It seemed the most normal thing for Joanna to do and as Melanie moved closer she took the black cock in her hands and kissed the end of it. Melanie purred her approval feeling the wedges caress her as Joanna played with the cock.

“Yes darling,” she groaned leaning even further forward and running her hand through Joanna’s hair that tumbled onto her shoulders. “Kiss my cock Joanna, suck my big black cock.”

It was as if the reality of them being two women who wanted to make love to each other, left them or, at least became massively confused. Melanie was a woman with nice tits and a warm, wet pussy, but also one with a giant cock that was undoubtedly going to fuck Joanna. Melanie wanted her breasts and her pussy to be sucked by her lover, yet at the same time wanted to experience shoving a cock into her lover’s cunt and fucking her hard until she screamed her release.

Joanna was a woman who wanted to be loved by her friend, yet was wanting that friend to shove her cock right inside her. Of course, though, the oral sex was intended as more a familiarity session with the cock. But that familiarity session had made both of them badly need what this kind of oral sex couldn’t give them.

Melanie pulled Joanna to her feet and kissed her walking her backwards into the bedroom Pushing her onto the bed. She moved on top her kissing her again with the dildo pushing into their tummies. Joanna’s hands caressed her back sliding down to the soft strap of the fake cock. Their kisses were deep and passionate, and she moaned softly as Melanie raised herself up so she could look into her lover’s eyes.

“Are you ready for this?” she asked her eyes looking deeply into Joanna’s with an intensity she hadn’t seen before.

“Yes,” Joanna’s whispered her heart thumping.

Although she had been fucked thousands of times, she still found it very strange finding the correct position and angle. She fumbled with the cock reaching down to position it after several dismal attempts where it slipped in the wrong direction. Finally finding the right space, she thrust tentatively hearing Joanna gasp as the head slid into her. Melanie moved her hips trying to find a rhythm while being careful not to pull too far back and have to fumble with it again.

Joanna, on the other hand, didn’t realise the difficulties Melanie was having. She was enjoying being kissed deeply and feeling the size and stiffness of the cock pressing into her pussy, even though she became a little disconcerted when several times it slid between the cheeks of her ass and pressed against her there.

.

“Ready?” She whispered when she felt she had found the right angle. She shoved her tongue deep into Joanna’s mouth as she nodded and mumbled.

The bulbous end of the black, plastic, surrogate cock was nestling between Joanna’s soaked lips, just holding them open. It was primed and ready, it was set and poised to fuck her stupid.

“Oh God,” Joanna gasped as she felt her friend thrust her body forward, their pubic patches grinding together, and the smooth, black cock surging deep inside her. She groaned, pushing back and encouraging every last bit of sensation from the strange penetration.

For Melanie, the wedges sent flares of sensation into her body as she watched Joanna gasp and cry out. For her it wasn’t just the physical sensation, though, she revelled in taking the woman she loved like this. She wanted to be her everything and for her be all those things in exchange. Though she may have come to the realisation that she loved Joanna as more than a friend over the last few years, she was sure the feelings had been there lying dormant for much longer.

“Fuck, me, please fuck me,” Joanna as Melanie remained still with the cock buried deep within her lover. She groaned lifting her hips and sliding the dildo almost all the way out.

“No, no, don’t,” Joanna cried gripping Melanie’s hips to stop her removing the cock altogether.

“Don’t worry, I’m not,” Melanie said thrusting into her again. If anything the sensation for both of them was even more powerful this time. Melanie repeated it several times. Each time Joanna whimpered and moaned as she arched her back pushing herself her lover.

They found a rhythm with Joanna responding to every thrust and move that Melanie made. Melanie went harder and faster, and both climbed the heights of pleasure until as if by unspoken agreement they came together. It was so different to anything they had experienced before, and they clung together until the spasms and shaking that took hold of them subsided.

“That was so fucking incredible,” Melanie murmured still breathless as she rolled to her side and reached out her hand to stroke Joanna’s breast cupping it and playing with it gently. “You’re so fucking incredible. Thank you,” she leant in and kissed Joanna.

“Mel that was amazing, I can hardly believe it,” Joanna sighed.

“What that I fucked you with a strapon? Or that you loved it like the slut you are for me?” Melanie grinned teasing Joanna.

“Both I think. I’ve been horny since you first kissed me last night,” she admitted not arguing that she had become almost obsessed with having sex with Melanie in the last twenty-four ours. So much so that she lay there in sexy lingerie after being fucked by a strap on cock wondering what other fantasies Melanie had in store for her.

“So you’d let me do it again? Maybe play out some other fantasies?” Melanie asked softly nuzzling into Joanna’s neck.

“I was just wondering what other fantasies you might have in store for me,” she reached down to play with the now sticky cock making Melanie moan and move her hips.

“Not just mine, I want to hear all of yours too,” Melanie said breathlessly.

“Mine are much tamer but give me time, and I might surprise you,” Joanna smiled as she spoke.

“You’ve already blown my mind. I am so incredibly happy right now,” Melanie moaned as Joanna continued to play with the dildo.

“If you take this off I bet I can make you happier,” she said softly not sure how much of a top Melanie intended to be. She could smell the sex, and she longed to taste it.

“Maybe we should both get undressed,” Melanie sighed and rolled away from her lover. She walked to the bathroom and removed the strap on rinsing it thoroughly in the sink as Joanna removed her lingerie and joined her in the bathroom.

“No,” Melanie said suddenly. “You don’t get to touch that unless I’m wearing it,” she smiled. “It’s my cock, and I fuck you with it. There are other toys you can play with, but this one is mine.”

“Okay,” Joanna said softly accepting that this was part of Melanie’s fantasy sex play and leaving it where it was on the bathroom bench moving around it to get ready for bed knowing it would be a while before they finally slept.

*****

Joanna spent the following four days exploring the country surrounding Cairns as well as exploring Melanie and her desires. The night before the wedding she had enjoyed dinner with Michael and Tom’s parents looking tanned and relaxed and smiling like a woman totally in love. Melanie and Harry had also attended, and the party had laughed and enjoyed themselves immensely

The following morning, they walked down to the docks dressed in brightly coloured sarongs. Joanna felt more comfortable about being nude on the island now that she had met Tom’s parents and Uncle. Melanie made her feel sexy and alive, and she felt good. The boat ride over to the island choppy and Joana felt her tummy roll with the waves.

“Just pick a spot on the horizon and look at it, let your body relax and just listen to my voice,” Melanie said softly.

“How am I ever going to enjoy the reception,” Joanna asked miserably.

“Bigger boats, particularly cruisers are smoother, and you won’t even feel the waves,” Melanie explained. “It will be fine just trust me. I promise I will stay with you the whole time.”

Thankfully the ride to the island was reasonably short and discarding their sarongs on the dock Melanie and Joanna walked hand in hand onto the beach.

“You don’t have to hold my hand,” Joanna whispered worried about her friend’s public persona.

“I know, I want to,” Melanie smiled and squeezed her hand. “It’s not like we’re making out in front of these people. Although if Michael keeps staring at you, I may have to stake my claim,” she said making Joanna laugh.

The ceremony was beautiful and with all of the participants and guests in the nude Joanna wasn’t as uncomfortable as she thought she might have been. It had been the craziest three months of her life getting to this day but wrapped in the cocoon of love she had with her best friend and lover she knew it had all be worth it, just to be here holding Melanie’s hand. Not in her wildest dreams had she ever considered that standing on a pristine beach in the nude holding her lesbian lover’s hand in front of a small crowd and watching her son get married would be one of the best days of her life.

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