Karen knew she shouldn’t be thinking about him. Mark looked like one of those “bad boys”, the kind that always got her motor winding, and she knew if he was it wasn’t good to even consider doing anything about it. Besides, there was the tattoo—how would she explain that?
Goddamn Sal, she hated him. Another “bad boy” she had gone for.
She watched Mark from behind the counter as she cleared greasy plates and utensils in from front of the empty stools. The breakfast crowd was clearing out and the diner was almost empty. He was finishing his breakfast, Western omelet, home fries, toast and black coffee. He must like that omelet,
she thought, he gets it almost every time.
She picked up a coffee pot and went around the counter to his booth.
“Top you off?” Karen said sweetly, using the waitress voice, holding the pot and smiling down at him. His thick jet-black hair spilled over his shirt collar and the tops of his ears. It was mussed, as if he just got out of bed.
Mark didn’t look up. He pushed the triangle of the last piece of toast into his mouth and rubbed the crumbs off his fingers onto his plate. He picked up a crumpled napkin and wiped his mouth. He looked up then with blue eyes that always gave her a little rush when they pierced hers. She saw he hadn’t shaved, and his sooty stubble reminded her of the sad clown pictures in the dining area, the clown with the five o’clock shadow, she thought that was what it was called, and the big tear falling from his eye that always made her wonder why a clown would cry, or not shave.
“Sure.” His eyes moved away, checked her nametag, and switched back to hers. She felt a little tingle as he said, “Thanks, Karen.”
“Can I get you anything else?” she said, watching the coffee filling the ceramic mug. She had to avoid his eyes because looking into them made her knees shaky, either from excitement or fright, she wasn’t ever sure; she only knew that she felt an aura of danger about him, or maybe it was her sensing how dangerous her own feelings were.
She finished filling his coffee mug and felt his eyes burning into her. She was afraid to meet that deep blue gaze again. She stood by the table, feeling suddenly stupid, waiting for him to answer.
“No,” he said finally, the word smooth and effortless, “Just the check.”
Back behind the counter, Karen watched him chatting with Julie, the cashier, as he paid his check. She saw the girl was flirting with him, and she felt a twinge of jealousy.
When she went to clear his table she found the five-dollar tip under his plate.
She thought about him as she drove home after work, and when the fantasy came to her she toyed with it in her mind. In her room, when she took off her uniform she was wet. She stretched out on her unmade bed and closed her eyes and restarted the fantasy. Mark hovered over her, her fingers were like Mark entering her, she came as if she was coming with Mark . . .
As she lay recalling that he had said her name that morning, the first time he had said it, "Thanks Karen,"
and she wondered if he would say it after they did it.
She remembered the tattoo and knew they would never do it.
The next morning, Friday, he came in with an older man, both of them in working clothes. They settled into a booth and the older guy looked at her and held up two fingers and called out, “Coffee, please.”
She was feeling irritable. The diner was extra busy and several customers demanded attention as she carried the two coffees to their booth. “Give me a minute,” she said to one of them, and it came out with an unintended edge of anger.
He noticed. “You in a bad mood this morning, Karen?”
She thought his tone was intrusive, a little too personal, like he already knew her well enough to ask her mood. She decided to ignore it.
“Good morning,” she said, forcing a smile and the sweet waitress voice, putting the coffees down in front of them. She took pad and pen from her apron and looked at Mark. “The usual? Western with home fries?” letting him know she knew something about him, too.
He smiled at that, paused, kept his eyes on hers, like he was thinking about the question or what it said about her, the way she said it, kind of cheeky.
“No,” he said, drawing it out, “I think I’ll try something different today. What do you suggest?”
It caught her off guard. She looked over his head out the window at the sun glaring off the vehicles in the parking lot, the traffic on the highway, Friday busy. “French toast is good,” she said, dropping her eyes to her pad, reading to write. “French
toast,” he said, making it sound dirty. “I do like the sound of it. Okay.”
Karen looked at the older man. “And for you?”
He closed the menu and said, “Yeah, the same, French toast sounds good.”
Karen left and the older man grinned at Mark. “She has a nice ass,” saying it like you’d comment on the weather.
“I didn’t notice,” Mark said, turning his head to look out the window.
“Come on, I saw where you were looking,” He sipped coffee, put the mug down. “You can’t kid your old uncle.”
Mark looked at him. “You caught me.”
“I think she likes you.”
“She’s a waitress.”
“And you’re a bricklayer. What’s the difference?”
“That’s not what I mean. She flirts, it’s for the tip, that’s all. Doesn’t mean shit.”
“Why’re you so pissy this morning?”
“I’m thinking about the job, Jimmy. We’re falling back. Maybe we should work the weekend.”
“Hell no. All that overtime? You give all the profit away.” He lifted his mug, eyed Mark over the rim. “I got plans, anyway.”
“Yeah, okay.” Mark looked out the window. “But if it rains next week . . .”
“We’ll work next weekend, that’s all.”
Karen brought the French toast, put the plates in front of them. “Need anything else?”
“No, not right now, sweets,” Uncle Jimmy said, dismissing her. He grinned at his nephew. “I’m telling you, she likes you. Take a shot. Forget about work.”
Karen was halfway to the counter when he called her.
“You have syrup?” he said, staring at her. She wondered why she forgot to bring the syrup, thinking it wasn’t like her to forget. What was I thinking?
Karen was eighteen, almost nineteen, with big liquid brown eyes and blond hair like the color of new bronze. She was five-seven, nicely shaped, moderate bosoms. She had gone steady with a tattoo artist for six months until he thought it was cute to mark the small of her back with the tattoo and she broke off with him.
The angry hatred would return and she would think of things she would do in the way of revenge until she worked herself up to where she forgot things, like syrup. She had picked out the tat she wanted, a string of flowering vines, across the small of her back just above her ass, and the sonofabitch had tricked her, trying to make her his personal slut. That was four months ago and now she was afraid to let anybody see her naked.
Which put a big crimp in her fantasy about getting naked with Mark.
She was still thinking about that prick Sal, the tattoo artist and ex-boyfriend, dumping dirty china in the plastic tub the dishwasher would carry back to the kitchen, when she heard someone calling her. She looked up. It was Mark. In her anger she had forgotten him.
He was alone, the other man already gone. “Can I get a refill?”
Karen took the coffee pot to his table and filled the mug.
“You okay?” he said.
She rested the coffee pot on the table. “Yes. Why do you ask?”
“I don’t know. Something’s different about you today. I just wondered, is all.”
She wondered too, studied him, wondered if he actually cared. Why else would he ask?
“It’s nothing,” she said, forcing a smile. “I had something on my mind, something I want to do.” Her mind rushed ahead to him seeing the tattoo. That prick Sal.
“What time you get off? You can tell me about it.”
A sliver of excitement crawled under her skin. “You asking me out?”
“Well, yeah, I guess I am,” he said, like he was surprised too.
Karen felt her face flush.
“I mean, if you want to, you know, just go someplace and talk. Maybe eat dinner?”
She didn’t know what to say. He didn’t seem dangerous anymore. Something had changed, but her desire hadn’t, and it forced the words out of her. “Sure. I get off at four.”
“I have to work till about six. So maybe seven-thirty?”
“Uh-huh, that’s good.” What am I doing?
She turned and started walking away and he said, “Karen?” She stopped, looked over her shoulder at him. He said, “I don’t know where you live.”
At home she undressed and thought about what it would be like to have Mark there, waiting, watching her take off her clothes, drop her panties on the floor, showing him she was available. The image made her hot—until she remembered the tattoo.
In the shower, washing her hair, she thought Nothing’s going to happen tonight, we’re just going to eat dinner, have a conversation. Maybe a little smooch goodnight, he won’t see it.
She wanted to have it removed, but it would be expensive, and she needed her money for sophomore year. She thought of going back to school, back in the dorm, showering in front of other girls, and was horrified at the thought that they will see Sal’s mark on her back. They’ll think it was my idea! They’ll think I’m a slut!
Then she was washing herself, dread and anger filling her mind. Any hopes she had had before of taking the edge off in the shower ruined.
She waited for him on the front porch. He arrived ten minutes late.
“Sorry,” he said. “It took me longer than I thought.” He was wearing navy blue slacks and a tan Polo shirt. The collar was open and she saw the black hair on tan chest. His hair looked wet and he had shaved, leaving only a smudged line of beard on his jaw.
“It’s okay, I just came out. It’s so nice tonight.”
“And you look very nice, too.” Mark said.
She felt another tingle ripple under her skin. “Thanks.”
She was wearing a black miniskirt, a semi-sheer chiffon tunic, its blue and white luxe print revealing the strapless black bra, and black sandals with interwoven straps and two-inch heels. Desire decided the outfit, she had realized, wiggling her ass into the tight black thong.
Nothing’s going to happen,
she reminded herself. When he took her arm to lead her to the car she felt that rush of excitement under her skin again, exactly like she had felt it that morning when he started to ask her out. But nothing’s going to happen.
The car was low, the top down, and he helped her into the bucket seat and closed the door. Most of her thighs were on view.
“Nice car,” Karen said, “What is it?”
“A BMW. It’s an old Z4. You like it?”
“Uh-huh.” He turned the key and it roared to life and jumped away from the curb, sending another thrill through her.
They went to a Greek restaurant in a strip mall not far from the diner. She had never eaten there, but he told her it was one of his favorites places. “Next to your diner, of course.”
They had salad, lamb, Greek potatoes baked in tomato sauce, green beans saturated with garlic speckled with toasted almonds. She had two glasses of red wine, Mark only one. They had strong coffee with baklava. Everything tasted good, she ate it all, and enjoyed the way that could talk without awkwardness.
“I saw right away this morning that you had something on your mind,” Mark said as he sawed through a piece of baklava. It crumbled and stuck to his fork. “What is it?”
“I’m over it now,” she lied. She couldn’t get the damn tattoo off her mind.
“No you’re not.” He finished his coffee. “I’ve been seeing you almost every day, and you never seemed preoccupied before.
She knew part of her preoccupation was her growing desire to be in his arms. “So you’ve been watching me pretty close, huh?”
“Yeah, and saw you watching me. My uncle said you like me.”
“Came in with me at breakfast?”
“Oh, that was your uncle? Is that what he said, I like you?”
“Yes.” He picked up the check and looked it over. “Do you?”
“I’m here, aren’t I?” She feared she was going to leave a wet spot on the banquette.
“Great. Listen, let’s go to my place, please. Just to talk.”
“Okay.” Nothing’s going to happen, nothing.
Back in the car, only a fifteen-minute ride, and he was unlocking the door to his townhouse. Karen walked into the living room and admired the furnishings. Five minutes later they were settled on the sofa with two glasses of red wine.
“You do all right laying brick,” she said.
“Yeah, I do. It’s the family business and I’m a foreman. I’ve worked with my dad and my uncles since high school, and summers during college.”
“Don’t be, it’s a good living, that’s all. Now tell me what’s bothering you.”
“Promise you’ll believe what I tell you.”
“Uh-oh. Why wouldn’t I believe you?”
“You’ll understand. Promise?”
“I used to date a tattoo artist,” she said. “I asked him to do a tattoo, a nice green vine with little white flowers. I thought it was real pretty and I didn’t have any tattoos.”
“Where,” Mark asked.
“Here,” she said, putting her hand behind her and touching the small of her back.
“Can I see it?”
“Wait.” Karen drew up her leg and sat on it, facing him. “He played a really dirty trick on me. I didn’t know what he was doing until I saw it in the mirror. I want you to believe I didn’t ask him to do it.”
“I’m thinking I have to see this.” Nothing’s going to happen,
she said to herself. She stood up and faced away from him and said, “Pull my skirt down a little.”
He sat up and pulled the waist of her skirt down until he could read the lettering on her back. He read it to himself first and then out loud.
“'If you can read this you must be doing me.'
Jesus, that's terrible. ”
“Now you know why I didn’t want you to see it.” She felt sudden relief.
“Then why did you let me?” He let go of her skirt.
“Don’t you know?” she said, turning to face him and moving close. “Guess.”
“You’re like a little girl, aren’t you? Being cute.”
She bent down, leaned on his thighs, kissed him. The touch of lips kindled fire in her crotch. He reached up and pulled her down on his lap.
“Because you wanted to get naked? Am I right?”
“Yes. But he did it to mark me as a slut. I didn’t want you to think I’m a slut.”
“I don’t. I know you wouldn't ask for something like that. When did it happen?”
“I broke up with him the day he did it—about a year ago.” She hated lying to him but she needed to put some time between him and Sal.
“Sounds like a nasty bastard.” He stroked her cheek. “Want me to have some guys I know drive up in a big black car and . . . talk to him?”
“Just when I decided you’re not a bad boy, you would say that.”
“I’m not bad, but my Uncle Jimmy has a friend who has friends that talk to people. I thought just maybe . . .”
“No! I hate him but please, don’t do anything like that.”
“Okay.” He held her in his arms for a few minutes, not speaking, until finally he said, “You want to see the bedroom?”
“Uh-huh. I thought you’d never ask.” I guess something’s going to happen.
Without his clothes Mark looked just as she had imagined him. He was wide at the shoulders and tapered to a narrow waist, muscles rippled under his smooth tan skin. He had black hair on his chest and down there where she saw he was erect. She was almost ashamed of how wet she was when she felt his hand on her. He wiggled his fingers under her pussy lips and when he found her clit it was like an electric shock went from it to her scalp.
“You okay, baby?”
“Oh, yes!” she said. His hands were rough, but not coarser than a wash cloth, and he was slowly and gently sending her toward the edge. “Oh, oh, yes!” she groaned. She closed her eyes and felt the waves of pleasure wash through her and then she stiffened and came.
Mark hovered over her and she wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled herself up to kiss him, wanting to swallow his lips, devour him as she felt him enter her. Oh, my god! No wonder Sal was such a rotten prick, he has such a tiny one . . .
and discovering it now was a kind of sweet revenge. She no longer hated him.
“Oh, Karen, this feels so good,” he said, kissing her neck, her shoulder.
“It’s wonderful.” She started to say it again but shuddered as she came again and only a gurgling moan came out.
He stopped moving and she felt her pussy tweaking him in little jerks as the orgasm dwindled and faded slowly.
“Karen. Karen,” he said, so tenderly it almost brought tears to her eyes.
“I never knew it could be so good,” she said. Her flesh felt warm, as though she were soaking in a warm bath. She smelled his shampoo and his cologne and the sweet scent of his skin. She smelled her juice and felt it sticky on his balls and on her thighs.
It was Karen who began moving then, thrusting easily, pushing her pelvis into him, wanting all of him in her. He responded and moved with her and after minutes of bliss she came with him it was so intense she felt like it would consume her before it was over.
After recovering, they lay side by side. She played with the hair on his chest as he stroked her hip.
“Forget about your ex-boyfriend, Karen. You’ve been Marked
“I have, haven’t I?” They laughed together and she rolled into his arms. “I think it might be fading though . . .”
“Well then, I guess I’ll have to Mark you again.”
“Oh, goody!” she said.
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with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.
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