By Anji Nolan, author of The Cormorant Club, Desperate Obsession, Love Will Find a Way, and Love is in the Air
How Many Freakin’ Frogs Do You Have to Kiss? are the bawdy tales of Sara Sullivan, an independent, modern woman who manages Warwick House, a boutique hotel in Salem, Massachusetts. Like most of us she’s looking for that perfect man. And like most of us, she is kissing frogs in search of her prince. Here’s what she’s up to now…
CHAPTER 7 – An Accident Waiting to Happen
The episode with my tenant Marie and TPA (the pocket Adonis) shook me to the core. Not because I was particularly shocked at their raw sexuality, but because it highlighted the total absence of sex, raw or otherwise, in my life. Yes, I know I said, ‘all men are bastards and who needs ’em anyway’, but dammit, I’m human, I lied. Since I’m a magnet for the sexual fiasco, I’ve tried to keep a low profile, and I’ve spent the odd evening with this or that non-descript male. However, it’s been way too long since I experienced anything like the mind-blowing, gut-wrenching, earth-shattering orgasarama that Marie and TPA are into. Of course, part of my problem is mental. Until I really dispatch past amours into a love ‘em and leave ‘em file, I’m going to be suffering.
But what is it I really want? Being an eternal optimist, I’m wide open to any strong, silent type with the soul of a poet, and the sexual prowess of Pan, or Priapus…ouchy magouchy…but it seems I’m destined to have vacuous Victor’s plague my life. It has almost reached the point where I’m asking ‘why me’? I mean, do I have a sign on my forehead saying ‘numb-nuts dead-beats welcome’. I’m sorry people, but just because I’m open to sex, doesn’t mean if a guy springs for a glass of Bud’ and a bag of chips, he can climb aboard! No really, you know I’m right, there’s a lot of dead wood out there— take that as you will. In fact, take my last amore, Victor Naikelekele.
A sharp and successful businessman, Victor owns The Kona Kafe chain, and I met him at a Chamber of Commerce bash when he opened his newest branch two blocks from Warwick House. Being a Chamber affair Victor had samples of his Kona blends as well as homemade baked goods, and when he handed me coffee and a muffin, I got the one with the biggest, crustiest top. Overactive imagination and primed libido immediately read something into that. Moreover, when his fingers brushed mine, promoting that little spark, which the sensible side of me knows is static electricity, but the romantic in me insists is something special; I melted. So, not averse to avenues of stimulation, electric or otherwise, and working on the assumption that ‘nothin’ says lovin’ like a homemade muffin’; when Vic suggested a date, what could I say?
Our first date was a no-brainer; I gave myself the option of an easy escape by asking him to meet me for lunch in a local bar. And I found him extremely pleasant, if a little naïve. I suppose with my penchant for outrageousness, I should have seen his innocence as a sign to find someone with a little more chutzpah. However, understanding we were together for a casual assignation, not the prelude to an arranged marriage, I hung in. What’s more, I found being the dominant party surprisingly erotic.
Second date, I insisted on my choice of venue, arrived deliberately late, and petulantly griped that the food wasn’t to my taste. No matter my crabbiness, a pair of adoring eyes focused on me the entire time. Dammit, I was being a total bitch to him and he liked it. Thereafter, each time we met, he held my hand like his life depended on it, and paid so much attention to me; I all but took on the role of dominatrix. Oh be quiet, my pickings were slim, and he wasn’t complaining.
By the time he was referring to me as ‘sweet-cakes’—Yuk—we were more than kissy face, but not quite full on grope-a-rama. And while I might, had the hooker thing panned out, dispatched his wishy-washy ass to the showers, I was a woman with needs, and more than ready to again dive into the pool of perpetual passion.
Now I know what you’re thinking, ‘you intend to use this poor besotted twerp, and make him pay for the rotten way other men have treated you’. Not so, ye judgmental ones. There haven’t been that many men, and I think any wrongs they might have done me, have long since been written off to experience. Jeez, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Furthermore, assuming that you remain unconvinced of my contrition, I suppressed my ego, tucked dominatrix issues neatly under my hat, laid resentments to anything remotely resembling past rejections aside, and made it my business to get to know Victor better. And surprise, surprise, I found him a lot more attractive as we became closer.
Not only did he hold exceedingly professional sway over a string of coffee shops and his own bakery; gifts from his Hawaiian coffee-bean growing parents. He also owned a four-bedroom townhouse in Beacon Hill, two North Shore apartment buildings—rented for top-dollar to pilots and flight attendants based at Logan—and a log cabin on twenty acres of prime woodland in Maine. And, though past rural vacay disasters had me salivating for the delights of Victor’s multi-million-dollar townhouse; it was the cabin to which he invited me for our first ‘romantic’ weekend.
Now I think you know me well enough to gather that I’m not the pioneer woodsman type; without product, my hair alone qualified as an environmental disaster area. And I balked at toting that barge and lifting any bales in the frozen North-woods. However, when Vic assured me the ‘cabin’ was in fact a substantial log house with all mod’ cons, I said I’d think about it.
Apparently, his parents acquired said property in payment for an importer’s overdue bean bill, and as Vic liked skiing and snowmobiling; instead of selling the place, his parents gave it to him ‘just because’. Jeez, where was I in that line when freebies were being handed out; I can’t even make it to get-the-tenth-one-free at Sam’s Subs.
It took me a couple of days to get my head around being in the wilds, and indoor plumbing and non-generator electricity notwithstanding, I was still nervous. I mean, I can hold my own in most situations, but I’ve seen travelogues. The Maine woods in winter can be rugged. Then something odd happened. While I’d been expending considerable placating effort in the don’t-be-a-bitch-and-get-to-know-Vic department, he’d learned what pushed my buttons. And when I told him I wasn’t keen on venturing north, to my surprise, for I didn’t think he had it in him, he got all misty eyed, adopted an endearing hangdog, mommy-please-don’t-leave-me-to-face-the-world-alone expression, and regaled me with a sob story about freezing off his cojones if he went north alone. Deeply moved, and more than a little turned on with the power I seemed to wield over this multi-millionaire businessman, I did what any good Christian girl would do. I caved. I agreed to venture into the wilds, in order to give succor to this poor needy boy. It’s a rule. You know it, I know it, and the man upstairs, insists on it. At least, that’s what I told myself.
The following Friday, we packed his gear, a mountain of it; into the back of his way, too poseur-y for my taste, Cadillac Escalade, plunked my teeny-weenie overnight bag atop, and set off for the great frozen north.
It seemed like we drove forever, and in company with hordes of ski-gear toting Massachusens, crept from city to wide-open space. Civilization periodically bit as we waited in interminably long gas-guzzling tollbooth lines, while erstwhile got together executives dithered about finding change to dump in the appropriate catch basket. And we didn’t shake the masses until the Spalding Turnpike. There, as most headed right, to the coast or up-country Maine, we bore left, hugging the border toward New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
We sped on for several miles, only slowing at Woodman to wind cross-country. Passing Drew Pond, Rock Haven Lake, and Symmes Pond we eventually reached Newfield, then, when it seemed water surrounded us and there was nowhere to escape but up a tree, we hit Limerick.
Being of Irish decent made this an okay place with me. It looked like one of those Currier and Ives church going, carriage using, known my neighbor since the flood, villages. Moreover, as Vic cruised down Main Street, I spotted a general store, selling beer, wine and spirits, and a restaurant, advertising a full liquor license and extended happy-hour specials. The local church-hall welcomed everyone to a wine and cheese party, and naturally, on alternating sides of the street, there were three bars, advertising an eclectic assortment of domestic and imported booze. All appeared right with this gal’s world, and dammit, had I seen anything remotely resembling a Blarney Stone, I’d have sworn I’d been transported to the Emerald Isle.
Zipping through town with nary a drop of anything alcoholic passing my lips, we entered the more deeply wooded countryside. And upon arriving at a shot-riddled signpost declaring we were in East Parsonsfield, think apple orchards, mechanic’s workshop, twenty-by-twenty post office, and Baptist Congregational Assembly Hall, we hung a left. “Nearly there,” he declared.
As I surveyed the area, some might say it was idyllic. Hell, yeah, if you’re into Smoky the Bear, or Deliverance. But the rurality of the place was scary alien to a creature comfort, Dunkin-on-the-corner, spoiled-rotten city gal like me. The best was yet to come.
Vic turned onto a road I can only describe as, teeth-rattling, thank-god-I’m-not-pregnant-and-don’t-have-to-pee dirt track. All I wanted to do was bail out. What we really needed to be aboard was a tractor, not his freakin’ spring-loaded-cushion-mounted-bump-‘til-I’m-blue-in-the-face-and-swerve-‘til-I’m seasick, Caddy. But he kept on going, as yours truly turned several shades of green.
After twenty minutes of increasingly uncomfortable pothole-dodging brain-trauma, we arrived at a three-quarter mile long graded dirt drive. In the distance on a knoll, I could see Vic’s ‘cabin’. Surrounded by trees, it had a green steel roof atop logs glowing honey-colored in the afternoon sun, and the eaves, window-frames, and doors were a vibrant Kelly green. How appropriate its colors should approximate my person. Moreover, though at a distance the trees dominated, close-up, the house was most definitely, not small. Three stories, with an encircling deck floating majestically about fifteen feet off the ground, the building seemed to come to a point facing us, and reminded me of an ocean liner.
As the Caddy schussed to halt in the turn-around of the snow-covered drive, I saw a solidified pond, and the brilliant sparkle of a waterfall disappearing beneath the carapace of a frozen stream, which ran the length of the property. And sleeping beneath the blanket of snow to the left of the house was a winterized swimming pool, its cover splotched with huge black holes. Vic guessed the tracks were moose. Summarily impressed by the landscape, I could hardly wait to see inside the cabin. As soon as Vic turned off the engine, I leapt from the vehicle.
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” I gasped, cupping hands about my face. “How can the sun be this bright and it be so freakin’ cold?”
“Gets that way in the thin mountain air,” said Vic, hustling me to shelter. “It’ll be warm inside, I promise.”
“Jeez, how do we go out in this, my nostril-hairs are so frozen, I can hardly breathe.”
“Hadn’t planned on doing much going out.”
“Okay,” I replied, trotting by his side. “You won’t get any argument from me.”
Vic opened the cabin door, and the divine smell of balsam wafted over us. Inside wasn’t much warmer than out.
“Good grief,” I moaned. “Don’t you have central heating up here?”
“Sure, there’s a monitor in the basement set just high enough to stop things freezing while I’m down south.”
“Well you better crank up that puppy or I’m a goner.”
“Give me a few minutes to light the fire, and make some soup, then you’ll be warm as toast.”
As I hopped from one foot to the other, expending a veritable fog of condensation, my Polynesian backwoodsman lit the potbelly stove and set on a pot of victuals.
“Jeez Louise, nix the soup. I need a serious heat boost, got any brandy?”
“No can do, but there’s wine in the rack, left of the fridge.”
“You have a fridge? Bit redundant don’t you think; just shove everything out the window.”
“Bears would get it.”
“Don’t worry. You leave them alone, they’ll do the same.”
“Uh?” It took me a couple of seconds to process what he’d said. “Where’s that booze, I’m going to need it.” I opened his last bottle of red, chugged a glass, and as I backed up, practically branded myself on the stove. “Yikes, that thing’s hot.”
“Duh, ya think, burning wood in cast iron. Can you manage to avoid it long enough for me to empty the car?”
I screwed up my nose in a yah-boo smarty-pants sort of way, and let him go schlep the supplies and bags. By the time he’d offloaded everything I was on my second glass of his very nice Merlot, and was getting toasty. Maybe this pioneer thing wasn’t so bad after all.
Within the hour, front a roaring fire, eating Vic’s homemade bread, soup, and baked Brie, with fruit, I was feeling no pain. In fact, with a second bottle of wine enhancing the cozy wholesomeness of the place, I was feeling decidedly tingly. So tingly that when my part-time backwoodsman suggested he show me the bedrooms, I was ready for anything.
Now from what I’ve told you, you might be saying, ‘way to go Sara. Vic is a wealthy successful businessman, bakes killer muffins, makes fire, and clearly knows how to protect his woman from the cold. He’s exactly the sort of man-catch that might keep you interested for a while’. To which I reply, ‘hang on girlfriends, not so fast; there’s one hugely important mega-watt obstacle we have yet to overcome—yup, that’s the one—sex’. And by that, I mean sex, in all its manifestations. I will no longer be content with the old wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am, bump and grind…’bin there, done that. What I need, nay demand, from Vic, despite his downing the better part of a bottle of wine, is nuance. You know, that delicate balance of Casanovic romance and Bacchanalian debauchery that sorts the men from the boys. Thus far, innocent groping has been the order of our day, and until I got some face-to-face time, I’m reserving judgment on Vic with the unpronounceable surname.
In showing me around, Vic was clearly unaware of precisely what I had on my mind. He diligently pointed out two beds and a bath on the floor below us, living, dining room, office and kitchen and bathroom on the first, and the master suite with king-sized bed and huge bathroom on the third floor. It felt like I was on a realtor’s tour until I enquired how anyone, other than Paul Bunyan got the bed upstairs, and then I lay myself down with impunity. And as Vic perched nervously beside me, I wanted what I wanted, and pulled him closer.
Now I don’t know how long it’d been since Vic had been with a woman. But when his face locked on mine like the beast from Alien, he near smothered me. Gasping for air, I pushed him back. But before I had chance to ensure that one small detail was taken care of, he unzipped his pants unleashing a penis, like I’d certainly never seen before. Think crusty top muffins. Is that Freud at work, or what? In an instant, he was naked. However, that crucial detail I mentioned needed attention before I bared all and got down to business.
I think you know me well enough girlfriends, so we can talk. It’s a given that I’m eager, willing, and prepared, to drive my dance partner into all manner of indescribable frenzy. But, I have a certain non-negotiable. A condom. That said, in my up-front, make-my-own-kind-of-magic way, I never trust a man to supply his own.
“Whoa Sara,” Vic said as I headed for the door. “Where’re you going?”
“Get my purse.”
“Need a condom.”
“You heard—condom—never leave home without it.”
“Er…I’m not sure…er…do we really…”
“I’ll be right back.”
When I returned, I looked down and handed him the condom. “Don’t worry, I can start you again.”
“Not much use,” he said, crestfallen in more ways than one.
“Why, did you come, do you need some time?”
“Then what, too much wine, don’t want me now?”
I stared blankly. “No, not too much wine, or no, you don’t want me now.”
“Jeez, stop being obtuse, what’s wrong?”
“Don’t know how to do it.”
My eyebrow hit the ceiling. “You’re a virgin?”
He said nothing, but gave me one of those save-me-I’m-drowning looks.
“Well that’s no problem, I can lead.”
“It’s not that. I don’t know how to use a condom.”
“Whaa…” I chirped. It was the best I could do in the way of a what-the-hell. “Are you kidding? Excuse the expression, but don’t boys get a heads up from their fathers about this stuff? Isn’t there a Boy Scout badge that covers human reproduction, and the prevention thereof? Don’t guys compare notes, and brag about not being able to fit into the ‘regular’?”
“Not this guy.”
He looked mortified and I didn’t want to make things worse. So putting my attitude on the back-burner, I sat beside him. “Look I’ll tear the wrapper, for some reason that floors a lot of guys. Now, hold it firmly, slip it on the end and gently roll it down.”
His hand shook as he took the condom. “Eeeyeeuw, it’s slimy,” he said holding it aloft.
“Jeez you never even felt one.” Sorry, that bit of attitude escaped.
Vic shook his head.
“Well sorry bub, you better get a grip and deal ‘cos there ain’t gonna be nuthin’ happnin’ without it.”
He pouted, but seeing no chink in my resolve, removed himself to the bathroom.
As I lay abed, straining to hear what was going on not ten feet from my head; Vic’s sporadic moaning and sighing mildly alarmed me. Having frequently rendered condom donning assistance, I knew the slippery little devils aren’t always easy for the uninitiated, and I was in two minds whether to ask if he needed help. I thought better of it, not wanting to turn whatever he was going through into a debacle.
It was a couple of minutes before he came from the bathroom. I sat up, with what I hoped was a sympathetic look on my face. He calmly told me he’d tried to install himself in the condom in the manner of pillow into case. And I don’t know whether it was his innocent delivery, or the sight of the condom dangling from his deflated manhood, but a major fit of the spriggles wracked me.
Be honest, you’ve done it, you know what spriggles are—suppressed giggles busting to escape. Ergo, letting them loose would be wholly inappropriate, as well as excruciatingly hurtful for the person on the receiving end. I knuckled my nose, and composed myself.
Clearly, my pseudo-backwoodsman needed reinforcement, and not wishing to render any more bruising to the poor boys ego, I removed the offending rubber, and quietly resurrected his dozing beast. Then, after giving him a couple of tips on correct positioning and smooth unrolling; I handed him another condom. Vic appeared to be a quick learner. However, after a restrained start, his enthusiasm got the better of him, and he so aggressively yanked the rubber to its final destination, his thumb and forefinger rent the thing asunder.
“Don’t worry,” I said, handing him another. “I’ve got a dozen. Take a deep breath, and focus your mind on anything but sex. Try bread making, vegetable peeling, your grandmother’s pot-roast.”
I’m delighted to say the diversionary tactic worked, and suitably clad, he lowered himself beside me. However, now I was going off the boil. Naturally, being the eternal optimist, I expected my re-aroused swain to take the time to woo me a little. Sadly, the multitude of false starts had poor Vic hovering on the edge of reason, and he leapt atop me and unceremoniously plunged in.
Given my druthers I’d have preferred something marginally less animal, but I’d so put the poor baby through the ringer with the raincoat lesson and all, I had to let it go.
As expected, Vic was enthusiastic, albeit lacking finesse, and while I’d thought him about to explode, he exhibited amazing, and deeply satisfying control. He, and his odd muffin shape, fit my body perfectly, and as we moved in harmony, he was amenable to every erotic suggestion I made. He clearly enjoyed being put through unaccustomed paces, and barring the twice we rolled legs akimbo, onto the floor—ouch—and the wayward thumb, which ventured off my chosen route—yikes—he acquitted himself nicely.
As you can imagine, by late evening, I’d been directing traffic way too intently to have an orgasm, but Vic did, twice, so I figured he owed me. I wasn’t going to outright tell him I was still wanting, and push him beyond what I thought he could handle. But I did warn him selfishness required payback. My protégées innocence was intoxicating, and when he asked me to describe said payback, he dived to the depths of my being, literally, and rendered me blissful for a further hour.
Vic dropped off the minute his head hit the pillow. I slept fitfully, awaking from a nightmare in which I was being burned at the stake.
Oh calm down, I know I probably deserve it. However, what I didn’t deserve was sweat pouring from my body and uncomfortably prickly skin, that I was convinced came with some bizarre forest fever, or the bite of a tick or spider. I’m allergic to, and totally creeped out by bugs, so maybe Maine wasn’t the wisest choice for dallying. However, a debate now, was way beyond too late. Here I was, struck down in the middle of the freakin’ forest, and all I could think of was; do they have an ambulance service way out here, what if I need an Epi shot or a defibrillator?
With moonlight streaming through the window, lighting a purring Vic beside me, I could see he also looked flushed. That wasn’t entirely surprising considering what I put him through. However, when I eased back the sheet, and he rolled over to ward off the cooler air, his body exhibited an angry red glow. With my brain hitting panic mode, I leapt from bed, convinced we’d been the main course for bed bugs, or another equally disgusting arachnid. I jostled Vic. He didn’t move. Jeezum, I thought; we’re allergic to each other, or worse, he’s having a bad reaction to the condom, some men do. Now he’s comatose, in toxic shock. Then he grunted, said “I love you Sara,” and rolled onto his face. It must be the bug scenario.
Very bravely, to my mind, I plunged my hands beneath the sheets, in an attempt to sweep out the little critters. Nothing jumped, flew, crawled, or removed itself. However, I did encounter scalding hot bedding. Trying to process the situation, I looked around and noticed a gizmo on the bedside table. Its red light blinked manically. Unconcerned what Vic might think, I turned on the night lamp, and as my eyes adjusted and Vic came to, the hand on the gizmo’s dial had moved way, way, into the ‘unsafe’ zone.
As alarm bells clanged in my head, Vic lay staring like a deer caught in the headlights. And sensing something was seriously hotter than passion could produce, I stripped back the bedding. I found a kinked and folded expanse of electric blanket dotted with glowing red spots. What we had was an abused electrical appliance majorly complaining about what two sexual aerobists had been doing on her for the better part of the night. So you do the math. With the filament scorching through, the fabric was beginning to smoke, and before I could extract the plug from the wall, a spot adjacent to Vic’s butt burst into flame.
Now you know I’m an ample woman, but I have to tell you, I moved like an Olympic gymnast. With one sweep of an adrenaline-fired arm, I opened the window, flooding the room with snow, and dragged Vic unceremoniously to the floor. Then, as flames licked at the puckered fabric, I ripped off the electric blanket, still attached to a good chunk of the wall socket and flung the blazing death trap into the storm.
As I stood panting, Vic rubbed at his butt. “Boy, you really are hot stuff,” he quipped, seemingly unaware of the situations gravity.
“Hot stuff!” I screamed. “I have some hot stuff connected to my leg, which round about now should be somewhere where your dumb-ass sun don’t shine.”
“What did I do?”
“Well first off, you could’ve said you had a heated mattress pad. Second, when the shit was hitting the fan, a little help would’ve been nice.”
“You seemed on top of things.”
“Jesus H. Christ, we were almost bar-b-cued.”
He smiled. “No biggy—we have other bedrooms.”
“And what happens there?” I ranted. ‘Does the ceiling fan drop and turn us into chopped meat?”
“Overreacting a bit aren’t you,” said he, with a smile. “We’ll simply change rooms.”
I wanted to punch him, but the lady in me said that would ruin a perfectly good manicure. “Oh no we won’t,” I snapped. “I’m about done with this whole backwoods adventure. Get dressed. We’re going back to civilization.”
As we neared Boston, I felt the weight of the pioneer experience dropping from my shoulders. Vic couldn’t stop apologizing, and begged for another chance. But frankly, when he admitted he’d gotten a great deal on a pair of electric blankets, the other being in his townhouse, that, was never gonna happen.
You know, I’m not a purist about only buying American, but anyone who risks my life and limb, and their multi-million dollar property, to save a few bucks on an electrical appliance without the US government seal of approval, Good Housekeeping, or Martha Stewart’s okay, is plainly not the man for me. Even decent sex and the chance to be a dominatrix aren’t worth killing oneself over. But dammit, I will miss his muffins.