CHAPTER 40

Almost a week had passed since Marley’s Saturday afternoon lunch date with Muenster, and he’d called her at home every night since, engaging in light, flirty banter—each conversation more flirty than the one before. And with each phone call, Marley was falling deeper and deeper into the great abyss of love, growing more and more attracted to him as she got to know him better.

But she was growing tired of their telephone relationship and longed—hungered—for the physical. After so many years of fantasizing about having mutually-satisfying sex with a man, she’d finally found someone who didn’t intimidate her, who didn’t make her feel she was nothing more than a sex object, who didn’t allow her insecurities to send her running in the opposite direction. She was ready to ditch the hairbrush once and for all. Mind made up, this night, when he called, she would invite him over and make it clear what the invitation was for. It wasn’t for dinner or mere conversation. It was Friday night and this girl wanted sex.

Marley found herself pacing as the evening wore on, anticipating Muenster’s phone call. She knew he was off on Saturdays and Sundays, so he’d have no excuse not to come over and stay the entire night if she allowed him (and she most certainly would). She poured herself a generous glass of Cab to steel her nerves and bolster her courage, then popped a tape—The Pointer Sisters—into the stereo deck to set the mood.

Just as the music began, the phone rang.

Marley jumped to answer it but abruptly stopped herself, not wanting him to think her too eager by answering on the first, or even the second, ring; she compelled herself to walk slowly to the bedroom where the phone was impatiently ringing. On the sixth ring—she counted each ring—she picked up.

“Hello,” she said, forcing calm into her voice.

“Hi! What are you up to tonight?”

Marley stretched out on her bed and ran her free hand up and down her thigh as she cooed into the receiver: “Oh, nothing much. You know, for some of us poor working slobs, it’s a work night.”

Muenster laughed. “What can I say, it pays to have seniority.”

“So what about you?” she asked, rolling over onto her side and sliding her hand over her hip as she cradled the phone to her ear. “Any big plans for your Friday night?”

“No, not really. I just finished dinner a bit ago and now I’m enjoying a cigar.”

“Oh, too bad. I made spaghetti tonight. I make my own special sauce,” she purred, inflecting as much innuendo into her tone as she dared.

“Sorry I missed it,” he purred back. “Special in what way?”

“It’s my own secret recipe. I’m afraid if I told you what’s in it, I’d have to kill you. But if you come over tonight, you can taste it for yourself.”

Muenster chuckled, clearly enjoying their game of sexual subtext. “But I just ate,” he teased.

Marley was growing impatient. For the first time in her life, she felt confident…and brazen: “Well, then, why don’t you come over for some…dessert?”

Dead silence.

A pang of remorse ricocheted through Marley. Had she been too brazen? “Hello?”

After a long pause, Muenster finally uttered, hemming and hawing: “Uh, I, uh…can’t tonight.”

Marley waited for an excuse to follow, but he offered her nothing. She bolted upright from the bed. “You don’t want to come over?” she asked, stunned.

“I do, it’s just that I can’t tonight,” he said, apologetically and, again, without offering an excuse. “I’ll take a raincheck though.”

Marley was speechless. And gutted. “Oh…okay.” His rejection cut her to the bone and his refusal to give her any excuse cut even deeper.

“But I was wondering if you’re available next Friday night,” he asked.

“Next Friday?” asked Marley, still reeling from his rejection. “I guess so, but I don’t know what my parents might have planned—next Friday’s my birthday.”

Muenster chuckled, “I know, that’s why I’d like to take you out to dinner.”

“Oh,” said Marley, wondering how he knew when her birthday was. “That would be great,” she said, with forced enthusiasm. While his dinner date proposal was consoling, it didn’t quite make up for his inexplicable decline of her ‘dessert’ invitation. What man turns down a free, and easy, dessert, she wondered.

“Pick you up next Friday, around seven?”

“Seven’s good, I guess,” she replied, still wishing and hoping he’d change his mind about coming over.

“Great. Well, I’ve got to get going,” he said. “Talk to you later?”

“Sure,” said Marley, wholly dejected. She sat and listened to the dial tone in her ear long after he’d hung up, her body roiling in sex hormones; her mind, in insecurity. When she finally set the receiver down, Maxine Pointer was singing to her about hot kisses like fire.  

“No,” she told Maxine, “there will be no hot kisses, no fire tonight. No Going Down Slowly, no Slow Hand or Wang Dang Doodling in the sheets…”

The only Pointer Sisters’ song Marley would be singing on this sad and rueful Friday evening?

Sleeping Alone Tonight.

CHAPTER 39
CHAPTER 41
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