I was sitting with my back to the door when Commander Rainey came in. My feet were up on the windowsill, the weekend’s watch roster on my lap. I’d like to say I was working on it, but really I was kind of staring into space. She tapped twice on the open door.
“Come in,” I said without turning, thinking it was one of my girls.
“I’m already in,” she answered. I turned to see her halfway to my desk. She waved me down as I started to stand.
“Sit, sit. No need to discover military protocol this late in the game.” The Commander had been giving me good-natured grief for a couple months over my somewhat haphazard relationship with the little rituals of the service. I turned and let my feet drop as she came to lean her butt against my desk on the near side, right by me.
She was in whites, as I was, mine the long-sleeved jumper and neckerchief and hers the short-sleeved officer’s summer whites, which looked great on her. I mean, everything looked great on Rainey, but the whites set off the red-brown hair that just reached her collar and seemed to fit her nice figure better than her khakis did. I schooled my gaze carefully so I wouldn’t get caught verifying the fit from two feet away.
“Good morning, ma’am,” I said with a smile, taking her white cover and setting it on the meticulously clean shelf by mine. “Congratulations on your promotion. I’m sure you’ll wear your silver leaves as well as you’ve worn those gold ones.”
“Thank you. How did you know? The list just came out.” Her smile was very bright. As it would be, making O5 is a big deal, and she’d made it pretty young. Young enough to keep an eagle well within expectations and a star a distinct possibility down the line.
“A little bird told me.” By which I meant ‘I know someone who saw the list early or the instant it came out, but I can’t tell you that. Wink, wink.’ She nodded, understanding me perfectly.
“That’s just the kind of thing I came to talk to you about, PO3.” She paused. “I talked to your Captain Fielding about you. Did he tell you?”
He had, but there was no way I’d betray his confidence.
“It’s been a while since I saw the Skipper, ma’am.” I grinned at her. “Should I be saying ‘Wait, let me explain?’ Or maybe ‘I swear, I’ve learned my lesson?’”
“You know damn well that he spoke highly of you.” Her light blue eyes regarded me for a moment.
“Why are you leaving the Navy? You know you’ll get that stripe back. And more to go with it. There aren’t many sailors with one of those,” she tapped my fruit salad, “and it buys you something. You’d need a war to put anything in front of it.”
“Given that I almost drowned getting this one, here’s hoping I never
have anything in front of it. I think all of those come with the purple one with Washington on it. So, no thanks.”
“You evade questions very adroitly, PO3,” she said with a smile. “Which is a characteristic of what makes your Captain and I want you in the Navy. But knock it the fuck off now. That’s an order. Are you leaving because you’re bitter at losing the stripe?”
“No, ma’am. I’m at peace with that. I was furious at first, as you no doubt know, but I have some perspective now. The Skipper protected me. Right or wrong, I’d have gone to a court and done time with a lot of CO’s. I mean real time, not the forty-five, forty-five, and half-times-two that I got.”
“You’re right. With most CO’s, probably including me. Are you mad at the Navy, then? For making him protect you?”
“No. Yes. Kind of. I should have taken a different course of action. I do get that. But it sucks that I came closer to getting locked up than the guy buying the child-whore did and that what he did got whitewashed. Out of the Navy is a joke as a punishment for him no matter who his granddaddy was, makes us look like Catholic priests.”
“Agreed,” she said in a tone that implied a ‘but.’
“That’s not even the reason, though, ma’am.” I paused, and she spoke before I could go on.
“Ever hear the phrase ‘wartime hero, peacetime fuck-up,’ Ken?” she asked, smiling again.
“Yeah. From the Skip. About me. I don’t know if it fits, though, ma’am. I did one thing that anyone would have done in my place. The 'fuck-up' part works...” I said with a grin.
“First of all, no, everyone wouldn’t have done what you did. A number of people stood right there and watched you do it, right? That’s why you have that thing on your chest.” Her tone brooked no argument, so I gave none. “Secondly, that’s not exactly what he meant.”
“No, ma’am,” I said after a moment.
“You get that?”
“So why can’t you get past this and re-enlist? Clearly you’ve learned to stay out of trouble. Discipline over here is perfect, better than any of the other training companies, virtually all the women have graduated since you took over, and you’ve managed to have your fun around here so quietly that the Chief still thinks you’re a homosexual. You can go as far as you want to in the Navy, Ken.”
My gast was flabbered, and it must have showed. She grinned, proud of surprising me.
“You don’t think any woman can spend five minutes around you and think you’re gay, do you? I don’t know how Chief G got that idea, but I knew he was wrong quite a while ago.”
I made no answer for a moment. The Commander kept smiling at me.
“Ma’am... I’ve got less than eight months left on my enlistment, now. I don’t really get why you and the Captain are both pressing me like this. He basically ordered me to come to dinner with him before he leaves for Washington so he can give me the full-court press, and now he’s turned you loose on me. Which, to be honest, is not a bad tactic, but it seems a lot of attention for a Fuck-Up 3rd Class.”
“You’re an asset, Ken,” she snapped, suddenly angry. “You were an asset to your ship, you’re an asset around here, you’d be an asset with me. You’re an asset to the Navy. Whether it’s charm, luck, brains, whatever, the rules just don’t apply to sailors like you. And you know it. You could still be a chief by thirty. Or an officer, there are ways to get through school. Or a warrant. This is where you belong.”
“It isn’t, ma’am. I’m a career time bomb just waiting to go off. And there’s absolutely nothing to say I won’t end up in irons next time. Or that I won’t take some concerned officer’s career,” I indicated her with a gesture and raised brow, “with me. Hell, ma’am, I’ve committed more than one offense against the UCMJ just this week.”
“I’m aware,” she said. “But your girlfriend is still on top of her class, and in fact her evals have gone up. There’s no reason for me to take notice.”
“Lady, you are something else,” I laughed. “Usually it’s the senior noncom that has the command that wired.”
“Well, Senior Chief G is retired on active duty,” she smiled. “It behooves me to keep an ear to the ground and some songbirds on my staff.”
“Like I said. Something else.” I returned the smile. “But you see what I mean. Tick... tick... tick.”
“Ken... how many E4s do you think can get away with saying ‘lady, you are something else’ to a newly-frocked full commander? Or compliment the way she’s worn her rank the way you did and have it actually mean something to her? That felt better than the congratulations I got from my boss.”
She smiled at me for a second.
“You’re special,” she said. “Things get done around you, and smoothly. You set the tone around this place despite being the lowest-ranking noncom here. Even the Chief just rolls with what you say.”
She held out a hand to forestall the protest that was on my lips.
“It’s like this: A lot of officers have favorite noncoms that they take with them from command to command, and I’ve reached that rank now. I’m on my way to the Med. I want you to re-enlist and come with me.” She grinned and added, “That’s an order.”
“I’m very glad that’s an order you can’t give, Commander,” I said with a laugh. I grinned at her for a second, then laughed again, louder, my head rocking back.“Jesus, there’s a recipe for disaster. I’d be in the brig twenty minutes after I re-upped.”
“Oh? Why’s that?” Her eyebrow went up in clear warning, but I wanted to put this to bed.
“You know damn well why, Commander. I have to school my manner toward you every second. I’ve seen guys, officer and enlisted, who are so intimidated by your ability and your rank that they just can’t see the woman behind it, and that’s probably the right way to be. Or at least the safe way. And I’ve seen guys who are incapable of seeing who you are beyond your beauty, can’t see what a fine officer and better human being you are, and that’s very much the wrong way to be.
“Thing is,” I went on, “I see all of it. You’re fucking amazing, to say nothing of drop-dead gorgeous. Bad enough right now. I can barely resist making a pass at you when it’s just the hots, or a crush, or whatever. Put us in proximity long-term and you’d either have me arrested or be fighting me off once a week. I’m just not good at seeing the uniform instead of the person, and sooner or later it’ll cross me up. Hard.”
Rainey just looked at me, and the silence stretched. I couldn’t read her eyes. They must have a class in poker faces at Annapolis, I swear.
“How’s that for not evading a question?” I finally said.
“Shut up,” she said, sort of absently. After another pause, she nodded.
“Alright, I told you not to evade my questions and you didn’t. Fair enough. I’m going to leave so neither of us says or does something in the heat of the moment, but this discussion is not finished. When are you having dinner with Captain Fielding?”
“Alright,” she said, straightening up and gesturing for her hat. “Save Wednesday night for me. We may be more comfortable finishing this discussion out of uniform.”
“Ma’am, I’m not sure what else there is to say.”
“That was an order, PO3.”
I won’t say I worried, exactly, over the weekend, I’m not really given to that, but let’s say I had a few moments of trepidation about having pissed the very cool Rainey off enough that she’d had to walk away. Not good.
I spent the time with Jordan. We had a blast. There was a bittersweet feel to our time together because it was the end, she’d graduated and had orders to her first duty station. She left Monday morning. We’d discussed it as her graduation neared and resolved to do our best to just enjoy the time we had. Which of course took the form of spending most of our time in bed. She got a kick out of my retelling of my conversation with Rainey.
“I can’t believe you said that,” she laughed when I was done. “‘Gee, Commander, I’d love to come with you, but I’m really just an erection with feet.’ You’re such a fuckin’ idiot.”
“I think we can call that a well-established fact at this point. But shut up, it’s not like you wouldn’t come on to her sooner or later, too.”
“Sooner. Definitely. But I wouldn’t warn her ahead of time.” She laughed. “I’d make her my love slave.”
“More like you’d end up her love slave, you little wild child,” I laughed.
“That works, too,” she said agreeably. We grinned at each other for a minute.
“What you need to do is get her to take me along, too. Then I could wear you out so you’re not tempted to come on to her. All I’d ask is that you forget to put my name on the duty roster a lot.”
“Or I could talk her into bringing you along as both of our love slave. Give you a whole different kind of duty assignment.”
“I’m in. I knew I’d like the Navy. Where do I sign?”
By the time Wednesday rolled around I thought Rainey had forgotten the dinner order, there’d been no contact between us for days. I was wrong, though. My phone rang mid-afternoon.
“Barracks five-five-five, this is a non-secured line, PO3 Ken speaking.” Answering phones in the service can be a bit cumbersome.
“So your Captain had no luck,” she said without preamble.
“No, ma’am, I’m afraid not.” “Alright. My turn. There’s a place in Pacific Beach...” She gave me directions. “Eighteen hundred, in civvies.”
I had no clue how she’d dress. Nor did my closet offer any help, no matter how long I stared at it. Finally I hedged my bets, putting on jeans, a nice white button-down shirt, and a dark blue jacket. If she dressed well I’d be okay and if she was casual I could just lose the jacket.
She beat me to the restaurant. I’d even made sure to pull up fifteen minutes early, but there she was. Damn it.
I laughed when I saw her outfit. She’d gone casual, but I still couldn’t lose the jacket. Blue jeans and a white button-down shirt. Her shoes had a modest heel, but other than that we could have been the kind of couple that coordinates their outfits. She saw it too and laughed as I walked up to her.
“Out of uniform, but we still match,” she said.
“Embarrassing, really. You wear it much better than I do, though.” I instinctively started to salute, caught myself, and held out my hand instead. She laughed again, obviously seeing the aborted gesture, and shook it.
“If I’d known you could dress, I’d have worn something nice,” she said. “I have a whole closet full of dresses I never wear.”
“I’m sorry I missed that,” I said, looking her up and down. “Our second date, then.”
“This is not a date, Mister Ken, and you would do well to park that wise-ass sense of humor.”
“Indubitably. But what are the odds?”
“They’d better be one-to-one. Clear?”
“Aye.” My grin may have given me the lie. Or the fact that I said ‘aye’ instead of ‘aye, aye.’ Either way, she looked at me a bit sideways as we went inside.
We ordered dinner and beer and sat for a few minutes talking about nothing in particular before she got to the point.
“So what’s it gonna take, Ken?”
“There’s nothing, Commander.” I took a drink. “Look, I’m flattered that you want me with you. If anything could give me pause, it’s that. But in the end, it’s just reinforcement that I’m doing the right thing getting out.”
“Well,” I paused. “Okay, you know how I got in trouble. And at first I was mad at the Navy about that. But the truth is that I couldn’t have gotten away with that on the outside, either. You just can’t go around breaking people’s jaws. And I hate having to deal with jerks like Shroeder, but I know that’ll happen out there, too.”
“Maybe calling my fellow officers jerks isn’t the best idea.”
“And see, there it is. The reinforcement, again. The dude is a grade-A, government-inspected asshole. He may never get above lieutenant as an officer, but he’s already a four-star jerk. That’s simple fact. But I can’t say it, even to someone I genuinely like and get along with,” I gestured to her, “because of the difference in our rank.”
“You need to watch it, now,” she said curtly.
“Commander, you invited me here, in civvies, to have this discussion. I took that to mean we were speaking a bit more freely. You are, after all, trying to persuade me to change a major life decision.”
“Fair enough,” she said after a long pause. “But you seem to be railing against basic military discipline.”
“In a way. I’m not arguing against it’s propriety or effectiveness or necessity or any of that. I’m just saying I don’t think I belong in it.”
“Well, you’ll be faced with a lot less of it if you come with me. You’ll be on shore-station, with an abbreviated chain of command. Especially as you make rank. It won’t be all that long before you only answer to me, at least functionally.”
“And that has its appeal. But the idea of serving closely with you hammers the point home hard. I do not want to spend my life working in proximity to you and pretending you aren’t a woman and I’m not a man. I don’t want to wake up one day and realize I’ve gotten used to that, that I’ve accepted that you’re somehow above me. The idea is absolutely abhorrent.”
“Bullshit,” she said, and I could see the anger in her eyes. “Don’t try to use me as a cop-out, Ken.”
“I don’t mean to, Sarah. This is a symptom, not the disease, I’m just citing the most relevant example.”
“I do not recall giving you permission to use my first name,” she said, and now the anger had moved from her eyes to her voice. I grinned. Couldn’t help it. It pissed her off, but the woman is quick as a whip and after a few seconds she shook her head a little and grinned back.
“It’s like one of those courtroom dramas,” I said, “where the other side keeps helping Perry Mason make his case.”
My beer had evaporated. I gestured to hers, got a nod, caught the waitress’ eye and held up two fingers. She was there quickly, dropping off our salads at the same time.
“Setting aside my authority issues, Commander,” I said after a few minutes' quiet eating, “do you really want me as your pet PO? I thought you were going to chuck me out the window a minute ago, and last week I made you so mad you had to leave lest you choke me to death.”
“I wasn’t mad.” She grinned and pointed at me with her fork. “I am now, though, so watch yourself.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Another quiet moment passed.
“What are you grinning about, Mister Ken?” Her tone was amused and kind of friendly.
“Just guessing that I’ve moved from unwashed mass
in your eyes, ma’am.”
“Fair enough,” she said after a pause. “So long as you understand that you’re grossly generalizing, that it’s not that I or any other particular officer see enlisted personnel as less than people. You’ve changed status in my eyes, true, but it’s not what you seem to be implying.”
“Is it? Because it’s important. Your Captain would not have gone to so much trouble for you if he didn’t see your value as a person.”
“Yeah. I get that. I should have said ‘moved from child of large growth
in your eyes.’”
She nodded, looking at me intently. That’s another thing I think they teach at Annapolis, that ‘I don’t care if it makes you uncomfortable, I’m going to stare directly at you until I see what I’m looking for’ gaze.
“Good,” she finally said. “Now eat your vegetables.”
“Oh, very dry,” I laughed. Rainey grinned at me.
“I was hoping you’d get that. Sometimes my humor goes fshoom.
” She waved a hand over her head.
“Yeah, well, like I said. I get you better than most. At least most that I’ve seen. Does that sound arrogant?”
“Yes,” she said flatly. She didn’t elaborate, didn’t even look at me when she said it. We enjoyed our dinner in pleasant conversation, talking about the food and the view and the impending beautiful sunset, then lingered over dessert and Irish coffee
The gears were obviously turning in Commander Rainey’s head. She hadn’t given up, but I think she’d intended to entice me with offers of re-enlistment bonuses and promotions and college programs and Italy. I’d put her off her game.
“You’re grinning again, PO3 Ken,” she said with her own smile. “Am I about to throw you out the window?”
“No, ma’am,” I said with a laugh. “I was just thinking that this is probably not how you envisioned this conversation going. I know it’s not how I envisioned it going.”
She laughed, held up a finger, and took a sheet of paper from her back pocket.
“‘Discuss promotion. Talk about Naples. Speaks German and Japanese, discuss DLI, Monterey. Re-enlistment bonus. LDO program. Volunteers, discuss community programs.’” She held up the sheet with a grin. “I took notes on a whole list of college programs. I expected to have you locked up by the time we got our entrees. Now I’m honestly not sure how to proceed.”
“Commander, I’m... what’s the word... humbled,
I guess. Honored,
maybe. And maybe a little intimidated.”
“Good. You should be. Especially the last one.” She lowered her brows and gave me the hard stare, ruining it with another grin. I faked a panicky look and slid down in my seat, getting a laugh.
“So, what entices you?” she asked. “DLI? You want to learn Spanish? Arabic? Chinese? Italian? More than one? You must have seen most of these college programs, do you want to go to school on the Navy’s dime? Your friend EM2 Thomas says Naples as a duty station would sound pretty appealing to you.”
“It does. All of that does.” I paused, then gestured to the ring on her hand. “You went to the Naval Academy. I’m betting you were high in your class. Twice as good, and all that.”
“I was very high in my class, yes.” There was some irritation at the seeming digression.
“Which means you’ve been taking names since you were what, thirteen? Fourteen? Perfect grades in high school, involved in all kinds of things, probably including student government. An athlete, probably one of note. Tennis?”
“Basketball. And track, I went to state two years.”
“So, yeah. And all you’ve done since you got out of the Academy is outshine the sun. Look at your latest coup, full commander at... well, I’m marginally smart enough not to guess at your age, but still very young. Probably young enough not to even care yet if I guess at your age.”
“Old enough to be your- what are you, twenty-one?” She laughed. “Old enough to be your young aunt, then. And we aren’t talking about me.”
“What I was leading up to is that you probably haven’t spent much time taking ‘no’ for an answer. Probably sounds to you like a red cape looks to a bull.”
This time her laugh was real, delighted, her head rocking back and her smile broad.
“That would be an accurate assessment. Yet here you are, waving a cape. You know what they say: If you fuck with the bull...”
“...Watch out for the horns? Yeah, I’m aware. Please... trample me gently.”
“No promises,” she said, still smiling broadly. “I want you and your relaxed competence on my staff. The tone around here since you’ve been on the staff has been worth your weight in gold.”
I started to speak, but she silenced me with a glance and continued.
“I’m going to earn my flag someday, and you can help me. That’s not a meaningless platitude. The smooth function of a command is absolutely invaluable to an officer’s success, and you can be a not-insignificant part of my future. Setting all this stuff aside- and you can pick from this sheet, make no mistake- I promise you that if you keep your nose clean you’ll make chief by the time I make captain. I need a seagoing command at some point, and I’ll want you to have the rank to make a difference aboard ship.”
“Commander, you don’t need me or anyone for your command to shine. You could adopt a lightly trained gorilla and make it look good.”
” Rainey said with a laugh. My turn to laugh delightedly, head rocking back and mouth wide. An older couple at a table nearby smiled at us and waved off my apology for the loud laugh.
“So, yeah.” I shrugged apologetically. “Like I said, I don’t imagine you take ‘no’ for an answer very often. Nevertheless...”
“That’s what you’re saying?”
She sat forward, grinning, and her eyes gleamed as she looked at me.
“I’ll tell you a secret, Ken.” Her voice was quiet, almost conspiratorial. “I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, ever. Senior officers I go around, competitors I go through, junior officers and enlisted men I just roll right over.”
I sat forward as she had, putting our faces pretty close together, which I think surprised her. My grin matched hers.
“And then you smile that heart-stopping smile and look at them out of those beautiful eyes and they thank you for it. You get where you’re going on your competence, but nobody begrudges it because they’d die to see that smile.”
Just for a second I saw the woman she was looking back at me.
“You are way, way out of line, Mister Ken.” But the smile stayed. “Don’t you see the horns?”
“No sense of self-preservation, ma’am.”
“Captain Fielding actually mentioned that about you.”
“That’s where I got it.”
“He also said you aren’t intimidated by rank. Which is abundantly clear.”
“True. You intimidate me on your own merits, nothing to do with your brass.”
“Bullshit,” she said with a laugh, and now she sat back. “I don’t intimidate you at all.
Which makes me want you even more.”
I will not crack wise, I will not crack wise, I will not crack wise...
“They’re starting to give us dirty looks,” the Commander observed, nodding to indicate the maitre’ d. We’d been there quite a while.
“Part of my therapy is walking barefoot on sand a few times a week,” I suggested. “We could stroll up the beach for a while if you’re not ready to strike colors yet.”
“I have not yet begun to fight.” The grin was back. “See? I need you around just to give me straight lines like that.”
There was some dissent about the bill. We’d had nice dinners and about a dozen beers between us, plus dessert and the Irish coffee. In the end she pulled rank, laughing, and paid the tab over my protests. I joked about it as we sat on the sand pulling off our shoes and my orthopedic boot.
“Thank you very much for dinner. Next time is on me. After that, we arm wrestle for it.”
“How about a foot race?” she said with a laugh.
“Make it sit ups and you’re on. I will kill you at sit ups.”
“Done, then. Sit ups, to the death.”
I imagine I looked kind of funny walking up the beach with a shoe, my boot, and my cane in my hand. We were quiet for a few minutes, just watching the surf roll up to our feet.
Even in Southern California it can be cool when the year is late and the sun’s gone to bed for the day, and there was a breeze drifting in off the water. I saw her gather herself in a bit, like she was resisting a shiver. The look she gave me when I started to take off my jacket would have done admirably as an anti-ship weapon.
“Commander, I weigh one-eighty, or thereabouts. Gives me at least sixty pounds of heat-generating mass on you. And I run hot, always have. So, with all due respect, put the killer glare away and take the fucking jacket. Ma’am.” I grinned at her.
“Doesn’t seem to be much of a killer tonight,” she said, acquiescing. I started to put it over her shoulders, but she took it and put it on. Even my sense of self-preservation was strong enough to resist telling her how cute she looked in the much-too-big jacket.
“That’s okay,” I said. “The killer smile still has me light-headed.”
“Ken.” There was exasperation in her voice. After a second, she continued more moderately. “It’s not that I don’t appreciate the attention. It’s just wildly inappropriate.”
“Because you’re an officer and I’m enlisted. Eight months from now I’d just be a guy trying to be charming, but right now...”
“You’re not trying
, and you know it.” Her eyes were on the sea. A long moment passed.
“I just finished a relationship,” I finally said, “that I had to keep under wraps and that I knew couldn’t last. On paper it should be an easy one to let go of, we weren’t even exclusive, but I know it’s not going to be.”
“Fireman- now PO3, of course- Jordan.”
“Which it scares me that you know.”
“Pure accident. I knew you had someone, pretty sure it was one of the students, and I was trying to figure out how forcefully to chase you off until I saw who it was. Hard to argue that you’re a negative influence on our best student, male or female.”
She finally turned to look at me.
“She was in the office one morning talking to one of the staff and I heard you out in the hall. She heard you when I did and her head came up, eyes wide, big smile, and she practically bounced to the door to look. Didn’t go talk to you, just went and looked, but when she sat down again she looked like... well, like a girl in love.”
“You’re alright, Ken. This was a couple months ago. Like I said earlier, all her evals went up and her classwork was top of her class. I have no problem. As I see it, it was only borderline fraternization, anyway. There was all of one pay grade between you. Hell, she ranks with you now.”
“Okay.” I nodded again and paused. “Now I lost my train of thought... I get attached, Commander. And relationship options are limited in the Navy. I don’t want to ask a woman to spend six months a year as a WesPac widow, nor do I want to try a relationship with someone I’m not stationed with, which doomed Jordan and I. I admire people who can make those things work, but I’m not them. Which leaves either serial monogamy as I move around or the faint possibility of real romance with someone I’m stationed with at length.
“Which brings us to the more serious part of my trepidation about serving with you long-term. Like I said, I get attached.”
She nodded, and a long silence passed.
“I wish I knew what to say to that,” she finally said. “Unfortunately I know less than pretty much anyone about making relationships work in the Navy. I don’t even have liaisons very often. I never manage to find time to go out and meet anyone, and my brother officers always seem to want something from me.”
I think she felt my grin before she saw it.
“That’s not what I meant, you insolent bastard.” She tried for angry, but I could hear her amusement. “Get your mind out of the gutter.”
“The gutter’s its natural habitat, ma’am. It would get lost anywhere else.”
She laughed and fell silent again for a moment.
“Maybe that’s why you’re attractive to me,” she said. “You clearly don’t want anything
from me. I can’t seem to think of a single thing to entice you.”
She grinned and quickly pointed at me.
“And watch it,” she said.
I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised at the frankness. You don’t get to be a thirty-something commander without knowing your mind and being direct. She had me off balance. Generally I’m at least as strong a personality as whomever it is I’m... what, flirting with?... whatever it was we were doing. Clearly not so in this case.
“No,” I said after a moment, grinning back at her. “I think I’m attractive to you because you know exactly
what I want from you, and it’s not a boost to my career. You can see me struggling not to try and show
you what I want.”
“Alright, that’s it. You’re going to the brig.” She pushed my shoulder, another surprise, then laughed and grabbed my arm as I hopped on one foot, trying not to fall down.
“Yeah, sure,” I said when I had my balance again, “shove the gimpy guy. At least now I can counter with a physical abuse charge when you bring me up for sexual harassment.”
“Come on, gimpy,” she laughed, turning me around by the arm she still held. “I assume we’ve walked far enough for your ankle.”
“For my ankle, yeah.” I smiled at her questioning glance. “Turning around puts a finite end to this evening.”
There was another long silence. Her hand stayed on my arm, and it was like a butterfly had landed on me. I was afraid to move suddenly, afraid to speak, afraid almost to breathe for fear of chasing it away.
“It’s been done, you know,” she said after a while, her voice barely above a whisper. I looked my question at her.
“Lots of male officers,” she went on, “have had secretaries or yeomen on their staff who were understood to be mistresses. It goes back to the beginning of women in the Navy.”
“Sarah...” I started. I hadn’t yet worked out how to say ‘no’ when the Commander squeezed my arm and shook her head.
“No,” she said. “It wouldn’t work. Neither of us would want such an unequal partnership. And we’d have to be much more circumspect than were our genders reversed.”
“See, that’s why you’re the brass and I’m the gorilla. I was going to say ‘I’d be a terrible wife.’”
Her laugh was like music, and the way she squeezed my arm with hers was worth the entire night.
“I believe you would, at that,” she said.
“Now about this dearth of liaisons,” I said with a grin. She laughed again and threw her shoulder into me, almost knocking me into the wet sand this time.
When I had my balance back I realized that she hadn’t put her hand back on my arm, and for a moment I was sorely disappointed.
Then our hands touched as we walked, and hers gently took mine. I think she heard my intake of breath and I know she saw my smile. She smiled back.
“Two highschool kids on a date,” she said.
“I know. Almost embarrassing how happy this makes me.” I held our hands up. She grinned and squeezed mine. We walked in companionable silence for a minute.
“Okay,” she said suddenly, “how the hell did we get here? I’m supposed to be railroading you into re-enlisting, not contemplating fraternization.”
“It’s a gift. I try to use my powers for good.” My grin threatened to turn me into a Pez dispenser.
“Wipe that dopey grin off your face. I said ‘contemplating.’ I’m also contemplating shoving you into a seabag and shipping you to Naples, so don’t make me mad.”
“That the thought even crossed your mind makes my day. Hell, it probably makes my entire enlistment.”
We were both grinning as we walked on.
“Besides,” I said after another moment, “isn’t this entire conversation fraternization? It’s any improper relationship, right? And you’re trying to railroad me into re-upping, that’s gotta be some kind of violation.”
“Not helping. And I’m the brass, remember? I’ll tell you when it’s fraternization.”
“You know, I’m right down in Ocean Beach. We could go to my place, clarify your position on where fraternization begins.” I’d intended to sound more playful than I did, that I meant it was readily heard in my voice.
“I actually know right where you live,” she said, which I noted was not an answer. I glanced at her questioningly.
“I’m a block up and two over from you,” she explained. “I run past the top of your street every evening. Your pickup is distinctive.”
“It is at that. And it’s a short street.”
Another long silence. I’d gone too far. We were coming back to the point where we’d entered the beach before she kind of looked around and straightened up as though waking or reaching the end of long thoughts. “Wieviel Uhr ist es?”
she asked. “Zweiundzwanzig Uhr. Sie sprechen deutsch?” “Nicht besonders viel.”
She paused, then suddenly laughed. “Four hours? We’ve been talking for four hours?
” Another pause.
“I’m sorry I pressed, Sarah. I didn’t mean to put the brakes on the conversation.”
“Don’t be,” she said with a grin. “I almost said yes. And I’m going to have my regrets.
It’s going to be hard to get to sleep tonight, Ken, and it’s been a couple years since that was true after an actual date.”
I stopped and started to draw her to me, but she shook her head.
“No. Don’t kiss me.” Her voice was firm. I acquiesced with as much grace as I could muster, but I know she saw the disappointment in my wry smile. She wasn’t the only one on that beach unaccustomed to hearing ‘no.’
We sat near the edge of the sand to put our shoes back on. It took me longer, robo-cast is a bit laborious to put on, and she sat hugging her knees and watching.
“I’ve lost this one, haven’t I?” she asked. I nodded.
“You came up down ten runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Commander. Even you can’t hit a ten-run homer.”
“The hell I can’t,” she said grumpily. I grinned, and after a moment she returned it.
“Promise me you’ll think about it?” she asked.
“I’ll think about anything you’d like me to, Sarah. But it won’t change my answer.”
She looked at me a long moment, nodding, then stood and held out a hand to pull me up. We parted company chastely, much to my chagrin, and I was home in a few minutes.
After a shower and a shave I pulled on a pair of jeans, turned on the stereo, and settled down to read the latest Dick Francis mystery.
The knock on my door was a surprise. I looked up to see her looking in at me through the screen, holding my jacket.
“You forgot this,” she said. The grin sort of gave her away.
“Ah,” I said with a grin of my own as I moved to the door. “Well, I’m glad you came by, I don’t think I could have slept tonight without it.”
I’m used to having the initiative in a romantic encounter, used to the stereotypical male role. That was very much not the case here. She stepped through the door and threw her arms around my neck, kissing me hard and pushing me back into my living room, all fire and intensity, her body so strong and forceful that I had trouble keeping my balance.
We fell onto the couch, her hands roaming my bare chest and shoulders, her touch firm and strong, her kisses hard, deep, and demanding. She grinned as I tried to unbutton her shirt, not exactly resisting, but not giving anything either, and when she kissed my neck and collar and I sighed she sat back a little to look down at me.
“You like that, big boy?” she said, a little breathless and proud of herself to the edge of smug, running a hand down my neck to my chest with a smile. I smiled back and reached for her shirt again, and she leaned down to kiss me, still not giving anything. Grinning against her mouth, I grabbed the front of the shirt and just pulled it apart, popping buttons off and tearing fabric.
Her intensity just skyrocketed, taking mine with it. It was all groping hands and seeking mouths and increasingly hot sighs and moans for an unknowable time, but the strength never left her touch and the resistance never left her body. Not like she was fighting me or didn’t want it, but there was some kind of contest to the way
she wanted it. I had to pull the shirt down her arms by main strength, and she didn’t let it fall off until it was down far enough to start inhibiting her hands. When I pulled her bra down her arms she laughed and wrapped it around my neck, pulling it almost uncomfortably tight before I grinned and tore it away from her.
I finally got her pants open and slid both hands inside to grab her ass, pulling her up far enough to get my mouth to her chest. She cried out when I sucked one of her nipples into my mouth and bit it pretty firmly. Her hands clutched at my head and her hips gyrated like she was searching for friction, so I slid one hand around her hip to her pussy, seeking forcefully. When I found her clit she shuddered, the hips grinding down into me hard, pinning my hand against my body as she rubbed herself against my fingers. I let her do the work, just moving my fingers in time with her grinding, and a few minutes later she cried out again, a low, steady moan ending in a shuddering cry that was near a scream. She collapsed against me, her body slack for the first time.
A moment passed while she caught her breath, then she pushed away a little. The strength was back in her body as soon as she moved, there was none of the easy relaxation you’d expect in a romantic encounter. She felt more like we were working out on a wrestling mat.
“Well, I got mine,” she said with a grin. “Thanks. See ya in the morning.”
I laughed, kicked the coffee table halfway across the room, and rolled us onto the floor. My hand was still in her pants and I started to move it a little as I laid propped on an elbow, half above and half beside her.
“I guess you think you should get some, too,” she said, still smiling.
“Oh, I’m gonna get some,” I said, grinning back at her. “But you only think you’ve had yours.”
I crooked my fingers up into her, getting a gasp, but if I thought I was going to play with her at my leisure she proved me wrong again. Grinning fiercely, she started her hands over my body again, this time watching what she was doing and occasionally dragging me down for a long kiss.
When her hands reached my already half-unbuttoned fly and pulled it open she grinned, and when she reached into my pants her eyes widened and she laughed.
“Of course,” she said, smiling broadly. “Perfect.”
I grinned back at her and we had another of the half-struggling make-out sessions, both of us on meltdown but her body hard and resistant to everything I did. I had a little fun once I’d started stroking her in earnest again by changing the rhythm and moving unexpectedly from her clit to her vulva to penetration, trying to tease her by denying her the control she was looking for, but eventually she just grabbed my wrist and guided me as she neared orgasm.
When she came again it was with her back arched, one hand gripping my arm hard and the other holding on to my cock with a strength that was a little frightening. Her legs shook, her skin flushed, and once again she went slack when the orgasm had passed, her body’s relaxation total and kind of funny after the intense muscular energy of a moment before.
Her body was amazing, far the strongest I’d ever seen on a woman. There was clear definition in her stomach muscles as she writhed and arched her back, her shoulders were very well-developed, and she had a hell of a set of pipes on her arms. She wasn’t mannish, but she was athletic in the extreme. The perfection continued to the parts of her body exercise didn’t control, her breasts were beautiful and fuller than they looked under her uniforms, her neck was long and elegant, the curve of her hips sexy as hell where it was revealed by her pushed-down jeans.
“Damn, Sarah,” I said. “You’re spectacular. What do you do, work out four hours a day?”
“Or more. No social life, no sex life, no particular hobbies except sports. I live at the gym, looking for pickup basketball games and working out.”
“I believe it. What a body.”
Suddenly the energy was back. She rolled me onto my back, swinging a leg over me and pinning me down with her hands on my shoulders.
“And it’s Commander
to you, sailor,” she said with a grin.
“Oh, yes ma’am. Aye, aye, ma’am. Permission to carry on, ma’am?” I saluted, laughing, and we kissed.
“Granted,” she said. After a second she pulled back from the kiss and grinned again.
“Tell me you’ve got a condom in this house.”
Sarah stood and pulled me to my feet, and at my gesture led the way to the bedroom. “Several,”
she said with a laugh. “Tramp.”
“Said the girl about to give it up on the first date.”
“This still isn’t a date,” she said, turning to grin at me. “And I’m not giving it up.
“We’ll see,” I said, smacking her on the ass and getting another laugh.
If the making out was intense, the lovemaking was fierce. Sarah was on top from beginning to end, although it was still obvious that she liked for me to try to take some control. She pushed me down on my back and spent several minutes exploring my body with hands and mouth and tongue, working her way around my neck and shoulders and chest, looking up to gauge my reaction when she nipped at my nipples or tickled my ribs or squeezed my cock. I tried to turn her over to explore her the same way, but she laughed, pushed me back again, and slid up to sit astride my hips.
We fucked furiously, both of us just insanely hot. Her strength was unbelievable, I felt it more than any lover I’ve ever had, male or female. She held me down as she rode me, sometimes with her hands on my shoulders, her body at arm’s length, and sometimes pressed hard against me with her arms around my neck. Her orgasm wasn’t the least bit shy, she knew how to find it and did so repeatedly, her body moving against me so hard and fast that the only way I knew she was close was that the hands gripping me or the arms around my neck would tighten to the edge of pain and her kisses would turn into bites.
Most of the time my role was just to touch and kiss and try not to cum from the powerful stimulation. Her cries and obviously intense pleasure tried almost as hard to send me over the falls as her body did, and I couldn’t vary the pace or change positions to buy more time. I grabbed her under the ass and pulled her up to kiss her body and catch a break after a couple of her orgasms, and even that was a fight. She resisted every single movement I made, whether it was an attempt to shift her or us or just to use my hands, she kept grabbing them and pinning them down, grinning and laughing all the while.
She even dominated the love talk. I’m pretty vocal during sex, sometimes whispering sweet tenderness and sometimes outright filth, but she just walked all over me. I couldn’t help but grin.
The closest I came to any kind of initiative was when she went slack after what seemed a particularly intense orgasm and I managed to sit up. We spent a little while slowly moving in that position, her pussy just grinding back and forth against my lap, shifting my cock around inside her without too much in-and-out. Which probably bought me fifteen more minutes, and it was as good a position for her as it seems to be for every girl.
We were both covered in sweat and breathing hard by the time we finished. I was on my back again and she was very near orgasm when I came, close enough to finish herself off before my hard-on faded. She collapsed onto me and lay for a long few minutes, just smiling and kissing and touching my face.
“You’re pretty good at that,” she finally said. I had to laugh.
“How the hell would you know?” I said, grinning and kissing her. “I feel like a rocking pony outside a supermarket. Just drop in a quarter and saddle up.”
She laughed at that, looking pretty proud of herself.
“I’m used to being the pirate, not the booty,” I said, which really cracked her up.
“Arr,” she said, still laughing, and we kissed for a while.
“C’mon,” I finally said, patting her ass and rolling her off me. “I need a drink before round two. Feel like I just won the gold medal in wrestling.”
“Silver medal,” she said and winked. “You won the silver
She grabbed my white dress shirt from where I’d hung it on a chair and we went to the kitchen for drinks, beer for me and water for her. We did a little kissing and touching, enough that I ended up lifting her up onto the counter and moving in close before she laughed and pushed me away so she could sip from her glass. She watched me admire her for a couple minutes.
“I like the way you look at me,” she said. I smiled and looked at her some more and after a second she grinned broadly and actually blushed, ducking her head a little. I moved close and touched her face and neck gently.
“That’s the second time I’ve seen inside that shell,” I said quietly. “Maybe the third.”
“You don’t count very well,” she said. At my questioning grin, she took my hand and started counting on my fingers.
“Just now,” she said, very quietly and with a smile. “On the beach. At the restaurant, when you sat forward and ambushed me with those pretty blue eyes. And in your office, when I had to leave and you thought you made me mad.”
Her eyes were very big and very beautiful and had somehow gotten very close to mine. She shook her head slightly.
“No,” she said. Her fingers laced with mine and she squeezed my hand, still smiling. “I wanted to tear that uniform off you and throw you across your desk.”
We made out with some heat, the fire coming back to her kisses and the strength to her embrace. Our trip back to the bedroom was fairly comical. We were kissing and touching intently enough that normally I’d have just picked her up and carried her, but my ankle precluded that and we kind of staggered along, bumping into things and laughing and neither of us willing to break the kiss.
Sarah really cracked up when we reached the bed. She tried to tackle me again, but I put a hand on her chest and pushed her bouncing and laughing onto her back, then grabbed one of my Ace bandages off the dresser and started wrapping my ankle.
“Think you need that?” she said, grinning widely.
“Are you kidding? I’m thinking about taping my wrists and grabbing my mouthpiece.”
She laughed delightedly, the laugh turning into a scream when I dove on top of her and a wicked little chuckle when she realized I wasn’t going to let her out from under me.
“Fight all you want,” I said with a grin. “I’m getting to know this amazing body.”
She grabbed my head and tried to roll us over. With my arms spread wide on other side of her and the ability to use my legs at least a little my strength and weight were easily dominant and I kept her on her back. I kissed her neck and ears and jawline and collar, getting laughs and moans and a gradual lessening of her attempts to take over.
Not that she completely gave up. When my kisses started trailing down her body she tried again, and I had to push down hard with the weight of my chest as I licked and kissed and nibbled my way around her breasts. She definitely liked it rough, crying out and grabbing my head hard when I bit her rock-hard nipples. Goosebumps stood out on her skin and she trembled a little, then again when my hand slid down to find her pussy.
I wanted to go down on her, but the fight continued when I wasn’t using both arms to hold her down. There was no way I could control her with my head between her legs, she’d have been on top of me in a second, so after some time spent with her beautiful breasts and her ribs and shoulders and chest I moved fully back on top of her and reached for a condom. She grinned at me.
“I feel like I’m backing you into the paint,” she said, “waiting for a wrong step so I can spin and go to the rim.”
“And I feel like I know you’re trying to rope-a-dope me, but I’m trying to keep you on the ropes anyway and make you pay for it.”
Since I wouldn’t let her up she settled for trying to control the action from below, her hands grabbing hard, shortish nails digging in, fingers pinching my nipples hard, and she tried to control the rhythm and angle and force of our fucking with her bucking hips.
Finally I extended my arms and looked down at her, both of us grinning and both of us starting to break out in a sweat again.
“Alright, girly, you asked for it,” I said. She started to speak, but I brought my hips down hard, slamming into her with real force, and she cried out. Her eyes widened. I held the position for a moment, looking down at her with a smile, and watched as the hard shell opened again, her eyes softening and her expression almost vulnerable.
The shell didn’t stay open, it was still a contest, but it didn’t stay closed, either. Every time she’d start to try to control the action or roll us over I’d fuck her harder or faster, really working out on her strong, hard body, both of us very vocal. She screamed and laughed and talked dirty in a not-really-all-that-dirty kind of way, and came hard and repeatedly, her hands grabbing my neck and arms each time and the gentle relaxation returning to her body for a few minutes. I laughed and grunted inelegantly and whispered absolute filth in a tender voice, making her laugh and blush and kiss me warmly and earning ever wider openings in her emotional armor.
At one point the movement of her hips changed from just part of the action to an attempt to take control as she neared orgasm. She realized she was doing it and immediately threw her arms around my neck with what I can only describe as a pleading or apologetic look in her eyes. She actually pulled herself up off the bed by my neck, kissing me urgently, completely vulnerable. I don’t know why it turned me on, but it really, really did.
I was close, so after she came I pulled out of her to cool off. It was like her competitive streak was a challenge, I was determined to “win” the encounter. “Now
you can say I’m good at it,” I murmured, kissing her ear. Sarah breathed a laugh and kissed my neck with a smile.
“God damn, Ken,” she said.
I kissed my way down her body, taking advantage of her languid, mellow, almost limp relaxation to explore more thoroughly. She watched with a smile, laughing and sighing when I found spots she liked. I grinned at her when I started kissing her breasts.
“Damn, Sarah,” I said. “You could poke an eye out with these nipples.”
She laughed again and pushed my head playfully, then touched my face gently when I reached her sex and started kissing and licking around it, tasting her thighs and lower belly and moving toward her center.
“You don’t have to do that,” she whispered, her tone and expression showing that she assumed I’d only do it for her, not because I wanted it. I laughed quietly.
“Oh hush,” I said. “You won’t have the strength to stop me for at least another five minutes.”
I think the single greatest ego-boosting thing a guy can do, sexually speaking, is to be with a woman who is readily orgasmic. Come out of it feeling ten feet tall. Sarah’s orgasm was no less shy when I went looking for it with my tongue than it had been during penetration, and this time she actually laughed while she came, her hands in her hair and her legs kicking the bed on either side of me. She rolled over on her side afterwards, still laughing and breathing hard, and I crawled up to lay half above, half behind her where I could kiss her neck and shoulder. After a second she grinned.
“I cannot believe you’re still hard,” she said.
“Can’t you? I’m in bed with you, beautiful girl. I may be hard until we leave for work.”
Another laugh, and she turned her head far enough to kiss me.
“Cheesy,” she said. “But sweet. And kind of dirty. Which might be a surprise if you hadn’t managed to pull off filthy and sweet more than once.”
“It’s a knack,” I said, kissing her neck again. “Yeah, our little physical dominance contest is yet to be decided, but I gotta say I win the sexy talk hands down.”
That produced a long round of teasing and giggling and me coaxing her to say something dirty. It ended when I reached down to check the condom I was still wearing and shifted so I was touching her pussy. She looked back at me, her eyes tender.
“Up to you,” I said quietly. “If you’re worn out, we can just sleep. You know, if you’re all exhausted and beat up and ready to surrender- I mean, call it a night.”
“Oh, very subtle,” she said with a laugh. Her hand came up to touch my face, then slid down to guide me back inside her.
This time it started comparatively gently, but after a few minutes I felt the strength coming back into her body and I picked up the force and pace of my fucking. I was still behind her, holding her in both arms now, and she kind of almost-struggled a little before laughing and just pushing back to meet me.
Spoons is one of my favorite positions, I love being able to touch my partner’s body with that ease, and Sarah obviously enjoyed it too. For the first time all evening there was no struggle, no constant muscular exertion required to keep her from turning us over and taking charge, and when her orgasm came it was very long and obviously intense.
Not that she was passive, not by any means. She fucked me back with energy, clutching at my arm where it circled her body and slamming her ass back into me hard enough to make me careful how I moved lest my boys get crushed as we came together.
When the orgasm had passed she rolled away from me, onto her belly, and lay breathing hard for a minute. Her eyes were only about half-focused as she smiled at me. I waited for them to come back into focus, my grin spreading as the seconds went by, until finally her smile turned into a grin to match mine.
“Quit looking smug,” she said. “Or next time I’ll kill you.”
We both laughed, hers just a quiet, almost drowsy chuckle.
“Gonna be like this every time, isn’t it?” I said.
“God, I hope so.” She laughed again and reached out to touch my face. “Most men freak out when I try to have sex the way I like it. The best I can hope for is that they like me taking charge sometimes and only whine half the time.”
“Did I wreck it by fighting back?” I asked. “I can enjoy being more passive if it’d make it better for you.”
“Hell no,” she whispered, her grin spreading. “That was the most fun I’ve ever had in bed. I’ve never had more than one or two orgasms in a night before.” “Had
in bed?” I said with a grin. She looked down my body.
“Oh my god, you still haven’t finished,” she said, laughing. “What are you, a satyr?”
“Hey, if anyone’s gonna get my ‘A’ game it’s you. Never been intimidated in bed before.”
“Right. Yeah. Intimidated.” She rolled her eyes. “Clearly.”
I kissed her, and soon we were back in the spoon position. Sarah was about half out of it, which had me so full of myself I was almost laughing with delight.
I was getting that achy feeling that comes with having sex too long without letting myself cum, so after a few minutes I shifted position, pulling her butt up into the air and getting behind her. It actually took her a minute to realize, or seemed to. She looked back at me.
“Wait,” she said. “I don’t like...”
“Doggy style? Why not?”
“It’s submissive... degrading.”
“Degrading? It’s just a sex position, Sarah. I’d never degrade you in any way, even if it wouldn’t result in my immediate death. And submissive
depends on the mood of the moment.”
She grinned, already pushing back to meet me, and raised herself up on her elbows.
“And this moment?” she said, turning the smile on me. I reached down to gently brush her sweaty hair back, and she closed her eyes in obvious enjoyment of my touch.
At which point I grabbed a handful of hair and pulled her head back far enough that she gasped and lifted all the way up onto her arms.
“Submissive as all hell,” I said, grinning. She laughed. First it was just a couple giggles, but then she really cracked up, her whole body shaking. When it passed she turned to look at me again, her eyes still bright and amused and her expression wry. She started to speak, stopped with a grin, started again and again stopped, this time with another laugh.
“God, that feels good,” she finally said. I was 100% sure that was not what she was originally going to say, and 100% sure she knew that I knew that it wasn’t what she was going to say. I smiled at her and winked.
“Oh, shut up,” she said, smiling warmly.
The amount of energy Sarah was putting into the fucking fell off after a few minutes, she was just moaning and letting me do the work. Finally it was like her elbows gave out and she fell onto her chest, head turned to the side and face on the sheets. I grinned and said her name, but she made no answer, and after a moment I touched her back gently, said her name again, and stopped moving, concerned that she was actually passed out.
The instant my hips stopped moving hers started, at about the same rhythm, and she moaned again. She lifted up on her elbows with what looked like a herculean effort and turned to look at me, eyes wild and half-focused.
“Harder,” she said, breathless and moaning. I grinned again and pounded into her hard enough to push her back onto her chest and slide her across the bed a little, earning a long, steady scream that ended with my name.
When I finally came and slid down next to her it was like it took her a minute to realize it, then she just kind of half-opened her eyes, smiled at me, kissed me softly and at some length, and spoke in a whisper.
“I am so gonna kick your ass next time,” she said.
“Probably,” I whispered back. We grinned at each other, and I barely remembered to set the alarm before I drifted off, completely exhausted.
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<a href="http://www.lushstories.com/stories/straight-sex/commander-rainey.aspx">Commander Rainey</a>