Jessa Meets Her Match
Chapter 3: Rock, Paper, Scissors
I stood there contemplating his words. Even though it was a warm night, I was suddenly shivering. All the running, the failed attempt at getting away, had gotten me perspiring. Now, thanks to a light breeze, it was evaporating, raising goosebumps on my arms and across my chest. No wonder my nipples were twisted up so tight.
But his words, “Well, then we’ve got a problem,” were still ringing in my ears. It felt more like ‘I’ was the one with the problem. Wasn’t ‘I’ the one who was butt naked, standing barefoot in the middle of the road with two cops, handcuffed in what looked to be the warehouse district of Stonefield?
“I do have ID … just not with me. I’ll show it to you. Nothing to hide,” I said, shifting my weight anxiously from one foot to the other, my knees clamped together, my toes angled in and touching.
I heard the older cop snicker. He was still behind me.
But I wasn’t talking to him. I was talking to his partner. My chances with him seemed better. Oddly enough – fortunately – it was my sense that he might be the one in charge.
“Please. Think about it,” I pleaded.
“If we take you home, you can produce ID?” the younger cop, the one with the mustache, asked.
My heart leapt. “Yes. I’ll run inside and get my driver’s license. From Arizona, like I said. I’ll be quick.”
Taking my arm lightly, he walked me to the police cruiser. He opened the back door and removed the cuffs. A moment later, I was sitting in the back, the door closed. I felt around – no door handle.
The two policemen were standing in front of the car, the headlights illuminating them from the hips down. I imagined that they were discussing my fate. I smiled. Catherine was right there. It was a comical sight, two uniformed police officers and a bare-naked, young woman with curtain bangs and an eighty’s bush – unseen by them, but eavesdropping on their conversation – so close they were almost touching.
A few minutes later, I glanced over. No door had opened, but Catherine was in the seat beside me. At that point, both officers climbed into the vehicle. I was dying to know what she had overheard, but she wasn’t talking and I wasn’t about to let the cops hear me speak to someone who, to them, wasn’t there.
Officer Harris turned and looked over the seat. “Okay, we’ll take you home, but we have to see your license tonight. If you can’t produce it, then you’ll be coming back to the station with us. And tomorrow, the day shift can work on confirming your identity … and whatever else they decide they need to talk to you about.”
Trying to conceal my elation, I gripped my elbows, squeezing my arms into my chest just below my breasts. This was a very good development. “It’s in the house. I’ll get it for you as soon as we get there. But maybe we don’t have to wake up the family. I’m an adult. I’m twenty-five. You can confirm that … birthdate on my license.”
Looking at me, Officer Harris’s eyes again dropped to my breasts. He got out of the car and went to the trunk. A moment later, he opened my door and handed me a blanket. Leaning forward, I slid it behind my back, wrapping it around my upper body. Suddenly, I wasn’t naked. It felt wonderful but Catherine had vanished. I was again alone.
I directed them to the house, doing my best to talk them into letting me out at the mailbox. I didn’t want their headlights on the windows. They decided to trust me and stopped where I requested. Officer Bixler got out and opened my door.
I climbed out, the blanket around my body. It seemed as if they were going to allow me to wear it to the house and back. Instead, I located my backpack. After pulling out my T-shirt dress, I dropped the blanket, replacing it quickly with the dress. If I’d put on a show, it was over almost as soon as it had begun.
I handed the blanket to Officer Bixler, and turned toward the house. “You’ve got five minutes, Missy,” he said. “If you’re not back, we’re coming for you.” His tone was condescending, not at all friendly like Officer Harris’s.
“Okay. Five minutes. I’ll try.”
My dress was so light it barely felt as if I had anything on, but it was such a relief. Hours of traumatic nudity – now behind me. I wanted to put on the shoes – my feet were killing me – but I didn’t have time.
I raced down the driveway and slipped into the house as quietly as I could. My purse was upstairs in my room.
In all, it must have taken me about five minutes. “Here’s my driver’s license,” I said, handing it to Officer Harris through the passenger window. “Jessa Wilson, from Arizona, just like I said. And here’s a photo of Catherine Marshall as well as a clipping from 1985. Everything I told you was true. Most respectfully, Officer Harris, I’d like your help with this.”
He accepted all three items from me, giving Catherine’s photo and the news article a cursory glance. When he didn’t reply, I continued. “Can I come in and meet with you? Tomorrow?”
He ignored me. He was writing, jotting down information from my license. When he was done, he handed me a slip of paper.
“Your citation. Just a warning, really. So we each have a record of what happened. But be aware … a second offense, much more serious.”
I gulped, but nodded, folding it up in my hand. I didn’t want that to be my focus. “About tomorrow. Can we meet?” I asked him a second time.
He looked me up and down. “Well, okay, but the following day. I’ll be back on days. How about 11am?”
“Sure. Day after tomorrow. 11am. We’ll talk, and then I’ll buy you lunch.”
The older officer started snickering.
“I can’t let you buy my lunch. Rules against such things. But we can have coffee. In the station. Here’s your license and…”
I accepted only my license back. “Please keep those … for now,” I said, indicating the other two items.
“Okay,” he agreed with a nod. A moment later, they were driving away. Once their taillights had disappeared around a bend, I slipped off the dress.
Catherine immediately started complaining. “What in the heck? Why all that?”
“Because we need the police. Not at all how I intended to get in touch with them, but it works. At some point, with a good deal of luck, we’ll find a suspect. I can’t arrest him, can you?”
Catherine paused. She looked to be deep in thought. I wondered how she did that. It was hard enough to fathom how the human brain worked, but she didn’t have a physical brain. Even though I was living the ghost experience, my relationship with her still had me thinking that I might be imagining things, losing my mind, in need of therapy – all of the above.
“Okay, but your instincts are correct. The younger one. He’s actually interested in police work. The other one…” her sentence trailed off.
“So, what exactly did you hear?”
“The younger one. I guess he’s alright. He does think that your … ahh … pussy is gorgeous, but he only made the one comment. And maybe just to fit in.”
I laughed. “I guess I was imagining that you were getting the inside scoop on their decision making process.”
“Locker room talk, mostly. The older guy, he went on and on about how he wishes his wife had an ass like yours. Loves your ass. You’re lucky he’s not the one calling the shots. You’d be spending the night in jail. The other guy … the one who got you the blanket…”
“Harris. Officer Harris,” I said, reminding her.
“Right, Officer Harris. He actually seems decent. And rather attractive.”
“Cathers, attractive? Just what are you getting at?”
“Oh, nothing. It’s just that you’ve got a date and he’s single.”
“Yep. No wedding ring. I checked. You seemed too distracted. Helping you out.”
“Wait. It’s not a date. It’s a meeting. This is about solving a crime.”
“But if you end up with a guy…”
“Now you’re sounding like my grandmother.”
“That’s a surprise? We’re sisters. I’m just looking out for her. She’s right, you know. It’s about time you started popping out some babies.”
I shook my head. “It’s not a fucking date.”
It was already 3am. I brushed my teeth and went to bed wearing a nightshirt – so I’d get some sleep – so I wouldn’t have to listen to any more of her nonsense – so I wouldn’t be tempted to talk and wake up the family.
I fell asleep realizing that I had been able to see Catherine even while the handcuffs had been on my wrists. They weren’t clothing, but it was surprising. Reaching up, I felt the little white gold stud earrings I kept in my ears. They didn’t keep me from being able to see her either.
~ ~ ~
After sleeping in, I made a quick trip to the restroom then started grilling Catherine to see if she had remembered more about what had happened between being grabbed and being stuffed into the attacker’s trunk. Specifically, I was hoping for some identifying information – hair color, tattoos, an accent, anything. Unfortunately, she was drawing a blank. After a late breakfast, I borrowed the keys and drove into town in the family SUV.
I parked and then walked back up onto the overpass, this time fully clothed.
Doing my best to push any and all thoughts of my naked encounter with Officers Harris and Bixler from my mind, I studied the top of the stairway – ancient concrete complete with rust stains from the internal steel structure. I shuddered. It was such an ordinary place, but even by the light of day, the location made me shake. What had happened to me there paled in comparison to what had happened to Catherine. Shoving all such thoughts aside, I decided that it was time to put on my Sherlock Holmes cap. Snapping a few photos for later reference, I went down the stairs to get a closer look at the area below. I strolled the length of the single street, trying to get a feel for the neighborhood.
Suddenly, it hit me. This small sliver of town represented a huge clue! Catherine’s killer had been parked here – after midnight. That seemed to mean that he’d lived there or possibly had been visiting people who did. But if he’d lived there, wouldn’t he have taken Catherine to his house? Maybe not – if he didn’t live alone.
I counted the houses, photographing each one along with their respective house numbers. There were seventeen – just seventeen! If the police had known this piece of information in 1985 they could have gone door to door, probably identifying a suspect or two relatively quickly. But 1985 was the distant past. Few residents, if any, from that time would still be living there.
I again walked the length of the street, talking briefly with a man who was preparing to cut his lawn. He’d lived there all of six years. According to him, there were just two ways out of the neighborhood: the pedestrian route up the stairs into town and the road along the river.
Feeling as if all the traumatic exposure the night before might not have been for naught, I made my way to the library. I needed to find out how I could go about determining who had owned or lived in certain houses in 1985. In other words, was there a way to turn a list of houses into a list of people? I imagined this was a matter best handled by the police, but I was curious to find out how much progress I might be able to make on my own.
~ ~ ~
The following day, right at 11am, I pulled open the door of the police station and stepped inside. The Stonefield station seemed to be nothing more than the back entrance to a very modest city hall.
I stood still for a moment, acclimatizing – enjoying the air conditioning but not the thought of how close I’d come to spending the night there naked. Quite a bit of thought had gone into my outfit. Officer Harris surely had a mental image of a naked me – a shaved-pussy girl in handcuffs, her tits out – burned into his memory. Somehow, to be taken seriously, I needed to quickly move past that regrettable first impression.
I’d gone with the least sexy thing I had with me in Vermont, a pair of khaki slacks and a black turtleneck – not at all an androgynous look, but as close as I could come without real effort. I wasn’t particularly busty, but hiding what I had up top was probably impossible – at least in a form-fitting shirt. But that wasn’t the point. I wasn’t trying to look like a man, just business like, as little skin showing as possible. That was why I was thankful for the air conditioning.
“Officer Harris should be expecting me,” I said to the bored looking woman at the counter. After what Catherine had said, I was hoping to avoid running into his partner.
“Officer Harris,” the woman hollered out without even bothering to stand up.
He popped up a few rows back, held up a hand in greeting, and then took a circuitous route around the office partitions. As he approached, I saw him glance down at what I was wearing. I looked away, my cheeks surely turning color as I felt the blood surge to my face.
“Hi, Jessa. Thanks for coming in,” he said, extending a hand.
I smiled and nodded as we shook.
He led me to a room with a table and chairs. There were no windows looking out, but a glass wall afforded a view back into the cluttered office area.
“Please. Black.” Normally I didn’t drink coffee at that late hour, but having a cup together had been prearranged. And just maybe my nervousness would be less apparent if I had something in my hands.
“I looked up the case from the newspaper clipping,” he said after we were both seated.
“Oh, thank you,” I replied. I was surprised but glad that he’d found the time. My goal for our initial meeting had been nothing more than persuading him to do just that.
“Catherine Marshall, missing, presumed dead. The police interviewed a lot of people. One suspect. He was charged. No conviction.”
“Yes, Dirk Landers. Her fiancé. Not convicted because he was innocent.”
“Apparently so,” he said, studying me carefully. “You said she was raped.”
“Yes, raped and murdered. Not missing. Murdered.”
“Her body was never discovered, and there’s nothing in our files, at least that I saw, that mentions rape.”
I nodded. “But she was. I have information the police didn’t. That’s why we can solve this.”
“And your source of this information?”
I pulled out Catherine’s diary. It was the one concrete piece of new evidence that I could point to. He read the final entry. “I see no mention of rape.”
I smiled, pulling out a map of the city on which I’d drawn a border around the narrow area encompassing the seventeen houses. He examined it but wasn’t understanding how I’d gotten to my belief that she’d been abducted at the top of the stairway or how those houses held the key that would lead us to the murderer. I was quickly realizing that I was ill prepared. I’d gone in hoping to get him to locate the files. He’d done that. I hadn’t spent any significant amount of time thinking about how to handle the next step.
In short, I had a big problem. Much of my information was from Catherine. I couldn’t mention her. Without a source I could talk about, I had very little – just some information that would be quickly dismissed as wild-ass guesses.
Deciding to regroup, I put the diary back with the photos and articles that I’d brought with me. It was time to see if I might be able to build a little rapport.
“Officer Harris, surely you have a first name.”
“You can call me Nick. That’s Nicholas, without the olas,” he quipped.
I laughed as genuinely as I could. It was my joke, but he wasn’t the first to expropriate it. “Got me there!” I said, pointing at him, doing my best to keep my tone warm and friendly.
He seemed quite pleased with himself.
“So tell me, Nicholas without the olas, why can’t I buy you lunch? I mean, I assume that is a workplace rule. Surely you’re allowed a social life.”
“At that moment in time, you were a detainee.”
“So, what am I now? Surely, I’m no longer a detainee. You gave me a warning, but I was never arrested, never charged with anything, right?”
“Now, I suppose, you are a regular, general-purpose member of the public.”
“That’s nice to hear. Does that mean that you can have lunch with me?”
He chuckled. “And why might you want to do that?”
“Well, I don’t happen to know anyone in town. Maybe the circumstances weren’t ideal, but you are the first person I’ve met.”
“Actually, how about dinner?” I pictured Catherine sitting there, listening in. Maybe we’d solve the crime, and maybe we wouldn’t, but along the way, we could at least have some fun. I’d told her that the absence of a wedding ring meant very little, at least not in the year 2025. But if the guy had a wife, he might have lunch with me, but certainly not dinner.
I studied Nick as he studied me.
“Dinner. Is this a serious offer?”
I shrugged, suddenly feeling as if I ought to backpedal. “Why not?”
“Sure. Like I said. I don’t know anyone else in town. You and Bixler, and he’s not my type. Too old, too married, and too much staring at my ass.”
Officer Harris started coughing, almost spilling his coffee. As we talked, the beginnings of a plan was forming in the back of my mind.
I told him that I could drive. I knew I’d be more comfortable with the dynamics if I was behind the wheel – after being driven home the night we’d met. He gave me his address saying he’d be ready at six-thirty. He wanted to meet there so he could change out of his uniform.
With that settled, I made a rapid exit. I didn’t want him to reconsider, but I also couldn’t believe that I’d just asked a man out – and not just any man – a cop who’d seen me naked. I started thinking of all the kinky fun we could have if he brought his handcuffs. That wasn’t at all true, but I decided to tell Catherine that so she could worry about what I had in mind. After all, she’d liked the idea of me having a date with this guy. But in thinking about that, I decided not to strip off and talk to her. It seemed delicious to keep her wondering.
I drove to the grocery store and did a little shopping. Compared to Scottsdale, the small-town selection wasn’t great, but I made out okay. I’d decided on a picnic dinner. I knew of a ridge that was perfect for watching the sunset. That seemed preferable to the town’s limited restaurant offerings.
Once home, I told my mother that I had plans for the evening. I had no choice. The four of us had just the one car. As I cooked what I’d purchased, preparing our meal, I described Nick, telling her that he was tall, about six-one, with broad shoulders – that he had dark eyes, dark hair, and a dark mustache. From there, she asked me question after question, trying to learn just how I’d met ‘my policeman friend.’
I finally told her that I’d gotten myself into a bit of hot water, and that he’d been kind enough to not lock me up – that she couldn’t tell anyone, but that I’d bribed him – with the offer of a dinner date to keep my ass out of the slammer – but that he was rugged in a cute way, so that I didn’t really mind. She ended up deciding that I was fibbing. Or at least, I think she did.
I knew she thought I was a slut. At one time, that had bothered me, but I’d moved so far past caring that I’d actually spent the last few years actively working to make her think that I’d spread my legs for almost anyone, male or female. It wasn’t my fault she was a prude.
At six-thirty sharp, I was in front of Nick’s house in the family SUV. He came out a bit overdressed, so I explained that our plans involved a short hike and a picnic. He went back in, reemerging a few minutes later wearing jeans and boots. He also brought a flashlight, which was something I’d requested. I didn’t have one, and we’d need it if we were on the hill much past sunset.
An hour later, we were high up on a ridge with sweeping views of the countryside. Nick claimed that he’d never been there before. I decided to believe him, even though it was hard to imagine. Surely a policeman knew the area around Stonefield much better than I.
“Two bottles of wine?” he asked, peering into what I’d had him carry up the hill.
“Just in case,” I replied. The wine was one of the reasons I hadn’t stripped off to talk to Catherine. She would have given me a hard time.
We laughed and chatted, getting to know one another without a single mention of the crime or how he had so rudely handcuffed me when I’d already been at my most vulnerable. I so much wanted to give him crap about that, but I held my tongue. The time would come.
After packing away the remnants of our dinner, I opened the second bottle, pouring myself a full glass. The sun was low in the sky when I decided I’d swallowed the right amount of liquid courage. I’d taken my hiking boots off earlier and now it was time for the rest. I pulled my shirt off over my head and immediately started in on my pants.
“Umm, this is a bit unexpected,” he said. A moment later, I was down to just my bra and panties.
“Is it really? After catching me running around naked?”
“Well, I…” It was funny. He was at a loss for words seemingly because he couldn’t peel his eyes off of my chest.
“You asked, but I never told you why I was naked,” I said, shucking my bra.
I stood up and with trembling hands slid my panties down my legs, letting them fall once they were to my knees. Stepping out of them, I glanced up. Catherine had a look of shock on her face. It wasn’t all that different from the expression on Nick’s face.
“Jessa, I … ahh …” Nick mumbled.
“I know, right?!” I replied. “This is really hard for me, but it’s something I have to do.”
I motioned to Catherine.
“Nick, put your hands behind your back.”
He looked up at me, but didn’t move.
“Humor me, Nick. As much as I want to, I’m not gonna handcuff you. I’m naked because I’ve decided to trust you.”
“Jessa, you’re worrying me,” he said, looking at me askance.
I laughed. “I’m worrying you? How? Okay, don’t answer. Just put your hands behind your back. If you’ve one thing to learn, it’s that I’m a woman who gets her way.”
He looked unsure, but he did it.
“Now, hold up any number of fingers. Hold them up, but where I can’t see.”
“Three, Jessa,” Catherine reported.
“Three,” I repeated.
He laughed. “All this for a magic trick?”
“Nothing up my sleeve,” I said, holding out my arms and turning them to show him they were bare.
Feeling my nipples cinch up, I covered them, pressing them back into my pillowy flesh with my fists. Catherine started feeding me numbers. “Okay, six… One… Two… Ten… Umm… Nine… Four… Three,” I said, calling each one out in turn.
“How are you doing that?”
“We’re not alone, Nick.”
“Is there a mirror?” he said, turning to look.
“No mirror. I’ll even turn around.” I did so, regrettably putting my ass on display. A moment later, I was again repeating numbers as Catherine said them. “Two… Four… Two… Four… Two… Nice pattern, Nick.”
I turned back around. He had the most dumbfounded look on his face. “How about Rock, Paper, Scissors?” he asked.
“Cathers?” I asked.
She nodded. The puzzled expression on Nick’s face intensified.
“Scissors,” she called out.
“Scissors,” I repeated. “Rock… Scissors… Rock… Scissors… Paper.”
But then Catherine wrinkled her brow. “That’s a different one. I don’t know that one.” She was standing behind him. “Wait, that’s from Star Trek.”
“Spock!” I shouted. “I’ve seen Big Bang Theory, but I’m sure she hasn’t.”
“Who hasn’t?” he asked, rocking up on his knees and turning to look back.
“Cathers,” I replied. “We can keep going. However long it takes.”
“Okay, I’m listening,” he said.
“Oh, but this is just getting fun.” Looking at Catherine, I explained, “It’s the expanded version. Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock.” I did them as I said them.
“Who are you talking to?”
“I’m ready for more wine,” I said, a fist still atop each of my breasts. I dropped one to pick up my glass while simultaneously sliding the other across for an attempt at double duty.
Nick filled my glass and then topped up his own. I thought about getting dressed, but decided that I might still need to be able to talk to Catherine.
“Okay, Jessa. Explain.”
“Like I said, we’re not alone. Just let that sink in.” I took a sip of wine. “And the other night, I wasn’t alone then either. You imagined you found a naked woman running around town. And you did. Only there were two of us.”
“Two of you?”
“Butt naked … both of us. I don’t lie. You should know that by now. I don’t believe in ghosts. Or I didn’t, and it’s okay if you don’t. But Catherine Marshall. She’s dead. She’s also here. I can see her. I can talk to her. She talks to me. But only when I’m naked. I don’t like the rules, but I don’t make them.”
He squeezed his eyes shut as if his brain was hurting.
“We can do some more Rock, Papers, Scissors … if it helps,” I offered, taking a big swig.
“Jessa, no more wine,” Catherine pleaded.
“Give me a break, Cathers. This is hard for me.” I was looking at Nick and he was looking at me. “I mean, I’m a shy person. My mom thinks I’m a slut, but I make love with the lights off. Well, the first time, anyway. The wine doesn’t make it any easier, but hope springs eternal.”
“But how are we going to get you down the hill?” she asked.
“She’s right, Nick,” I said. “I’ll have trouble getting to the car if I keep drinking.”
“Drinking makes you see ghosts?”
“It’s the clothes. When I take them off. My guess is that she and I are so alike … that when we are dressed the same … I mean, when we’re both naked … well … it becomes enough. And not ghosts. Ghost. Just one. One’s enough. Believe me.”
“Why are you so sure you can trust him?” Catherine asked.
“I’m not. I just decided to.”
“You’re really talking to a ghost? Can she give me lottery numbers?”
I looked at Catherine. She was shaking her head. “I might be able to get yesterday’s numbers. Or you can play poker. I’ll tell you what he’s holding.”
“It’s Catherine Marshall. She was raped and murdered in 1985. Like I am now, she was twenty-five at the time. It’s sad … very hard for me, actually. Makes me cry. Don’t let me start. But what an opportunity, right? She’s my grandmother’s sister, my great aunt. When I talked to you today, it was obvious this investigation was going nowhere … unless I let you in on my secret. I’m not an especially patient person. Ask my mother.”
“Okay. The investigation. I mean the crime. Tell me what you know.”
I started listing everything off for him. How she was attacked at the top of the stairs. Taken to a junkyard where she was raped and murdered. How her body had been put in the trunk of one of the cars. How she believed that it was still there – in a rusty old car that nobody wanted. How we hadn’t gone there because we hadn’t had time, but also because of the possibility of forensic evidence ¬– evidence that I didn’t want to risk disturbing. How I hoped that there might be DNA on her remains – tying a criminal to his handiwork.
“I’m still struggling with this,” he said. “But if you’re as good at finding human remains as you are at rock, paper, scissors, then … well … shit … that changes everything.”
“Let’s take a breather and enjoy the sunset,” I suggested.
He turned toward the western horizon. “Let’s.”
Looking up, I saw Catherine doing the same. “Do you enjoy sunsets?” I asked her.
“I’m going to enjoy this one,” she said. “You piss me off, but you make me feel so alive.”
I smiled then laughed. “That’s good, I assume.”
“What did she say?” he asked.
“She’s pissed at me,” I said. But then I repeated the rest of what she’d said, wondering if it would make sense to him.
“Can I get dressed?” I asked, reaching for my bra.
“You’re asking me?” Nick said.
“Both of you. As soon as I put something on, my ability to communicate with the dead disappears. If you’re both fine with that, I’m ready to go back to being regular old boring me.”
Nick nodded and Catherine shrugged, so I started dressing. As soon as the sun was below the horizon, Nick and I packed up and we started down. I wasn’t at all steady on my feet, so he kept a hand on me. I realized that if he hadn’t been there, I could strip and Catherine would be able to guide me. I was a lucky girl. My brand of luck was admittedly unusual, but like Catherine, I was feeling more alive than I had in a long time.
Nick drove and we went to his house. As I was in no shape to drive myself home – and if he dropped me off, I have to walk to his place to get the car the next day – he offered me his guest bed. I followed him inside to see if I might be comfortable with staying over. Seeing a queen size bed in a nice looking room, I decided to accept his offer.
Nick whipped some cream and spooned it onto some fresh berries, making a relatively healthy dessert. We sat at the dining room table talking.
“So, is she here? Would she like some?” he asked.
“I expect she’s here, but I doubt she wants any berries.”
“But are you sure?”
“I think she doesn’t eat at all.”
“But I wouldn’t want to be a poor host. Maybe we should make sure … be absolutely certain.”
Suddenly it dawned on me what he was suggesting. I looked over at him. He was smiling. “And there might be things we could talk about. We’ve probably covered the investigation enough for tonight, but I’ve been wondering what life was like in the eighties. That’s before either of us was born. Do you think she’d mind talking about that?”
As crazy as it sounded, I started to wonder if Nick might be right. Would Catherine enjoy having her own bowl of berries?
“Promise me you’re not just trying to get me out of my clothes.”
He smiled. “I’ll dish up another bowl.” He got up and went into the kitchen.
I found myself considering bringing Catherine into the conversation. Nick returned, placing a bowl on the table across from me, a spoon next to it. He then pulled out what would be Catherine’s chair – just enough. “Would you like a glass of water?” he asked.
“Yes. One for her, as well,” I said.
Nick nodded and went back to the kitchen.
“Okay, mister, but on your best behavior,” I said, standing up.
Nick was carrying three glasses, complete with ice, when he returned. I’d been taking my time, trying to decide if I was being swindled, so I was only down to my underwear.
“Is she here?” he asked, placing a glass next to each bowl.
“You’re getting ahead of yourself,” I said, reaching back to undo my bra strap. I paused. Was I being taken advantage of? Well, that seemed obvious. But then I decided that the evening would be more fun if Catherine were there. I briefly held the cups in place, but then let them fall away.
“Is this guy smooth, or what?” I asked her, tossing my panties atop the rest of my clothes.
She was laughing. “Not at all how we did things in the eighties. A first date and you take your clothes off … all of them. And not just once, but twice.”
“I guess,” I replied. How could I deny it?
“He’s got your number.”
It was my turn to laugh.
“What did she say?” Nick asked.
“Reagan,” I said. “She says he was president.”
“Ask her if she likes the berries.”
“She can hear you.”
“Tell him I’m just as naked as you are.”
I again started laughing.
“Now what’s so funny?”
“You realize we’re both naked, right?”
“What are you suggesting?” he asked.
Suddenly it struck me what he might be thinking. “Nothing. Absolutely nothing,” I replied quickly.
He started laughing. “You don’t want me to…” he said, his hand going to the top button of his shirt.
I shook my head.
Turning to Catherine, he said, “Are you enjoying your berries?”
“She says she hasn’t felt this alive in years,” I told him, relaying her message.
“So, Reagan. Was he between Bush one and Bush two?” he asked, looking at Catherine’s chair.
“The Bushes were both after Reagan. You should know that. Seriously. Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama,” I told him. He didn’t know that my undergraduate degree was Poly Sci.
We had a great time laughing and talking, hopscotching from one topic to another. Nick and Catherine were actually getting to know one another. They were clicking –which seemed strange as I had to relay everything she said. Nick appeared to like her.
“I am enjoying my berries,” Catherine said. “Thank Nick for me.”
“You’re very welcome,” he replied, after I relayed her message.
“But the two of you might as well share them. Don’t let them go to waste. As much as I want to, I can’t eat them.” She demonstrated, by attempting to take a berry from her bowl with her fingers. They passed right through.
“She says we can have her berries,” I said, taking the bowl from in front of her and spooning some of them into each of our bowls.
“Thank you, Catherine,” Nick responded graciously. “I really do wish you could eat them.”
“But I enjoy pretending … imagining what they taste like,” she explained.
A bit later, the wine had mostly worn off and I was feeling utterly naked – naked with a man I had only just met, and inside his house, no less. I felt the urge to get dressed, but that would require getting up from my seat. As it was, only my breasts were visible. Glancing down, I saw that a dab of whip cream had fallen onto one of my breasts, extending part way onto my nipple. I looked up only to see Nick studying me. “Would you like a napkin?” he asked.
“I’m fine,” I said, quickly wiping it off, my cheeks growing warm as I sucked it from my finger.
Nick stood up. “Well, I should probably turn in. I have to go to work in the morning. You can sleep in. Stay as long as you like. Just make sure the door locks behind you when you leave. And here’s your car key.” He took it from his pocket and deposited it on the table.
“I had a good time,” I said. “Thanks for accepting my invitation.”
“It was a great picnic. Best view ever. And the sunset wasn’t half bad either. Actually, the most fun I’ve had on a first date in a long time.”
I glanced down at my body. Without thinking, I‘d stood up when he had. Feeling exposed, I wrapped myself in my arms.
I was expecting him to laugh or possibly make a joke at my expense, but he didn’t.
I saw him collecting his thoughts. “Normally, after a date such as this, I might … I mean, if it was a girl I really liked. You know, maybe a good night kiss. But that would probably happen in front of her door.”
“You can kiss me,” I blurted.
“Okay … but Catherine.”
“Cathers can leave the room.”
“Not leaving you naked. Not with this guy. If anyone needs a chaperone, it’s you,” she said.
“What did she say?” he asked.
“Oh, she went into the bedroom,” I lied.
“Okay then. A kiss,” he said, stepping toward me.
One at a time, I dropped my hands to my sides. “Permission granted. Just no contact … umm … below the neck.”
I tilted my head up and a moment later, his lips were on mine.
“One thousand one, one thousand two,” I heard Catherine counting.
The passion was incredible. Our tongues weren’t even dancing and yet our faces were melting together. What had come over me? I thought I might feel his hands on my back, but I didn’t. He seemed to have them out to the sides. Reaching around, I encircled his torso with my arms, squeezing, gently pressing our bodies together.
Catherine cleared her throat. “One thousand eleven. One thousand twelve.”
She was right. I pushed Nick away. He had a pleasant smile on his face. I slapped him – not playfully – hard enough to get his attention.
“What in the hell! What was that for?” he asked, putting a hand to his cheek. “My hands were behind me the whole time.”
“That was for the other night. For handcuffing me. I want you to remember the sting … the next time you are considering doing that to a naked woman.”
“Do you know how vulnerable I felt? And that was before the handcuffs. Guys are already so much bigger. What do you outweigh me by … eighty pounds? I was already so scared, and then you put those fucking cuffs on me!” I was trying to remain calm, but just thinking about it was making my blood boil.
“Jessa, I’m sorry. I was only doing my duty.”
“Only doing your fucking duty, huh? And what was I doing? I wasn’t hurting anyone. In fact, I was only doing my duty. Catherine … I have a duty to her. I didn’t pick this, but she’s family. I’m not running around naked because it’s how I get off. Even if it was that … still not hurting anybody.”
“Okay. But I make a lot of effort to be a police officer who is sensitive to the situation. It’s never easy.”
“Sensitive, huh? Hmm… But I expect being a cop isn’t easy. Do you know the real reason I slapped you?”
“That wasn’t the real reason?”
“Well, yes, but it goes deeper. For the sake of my dignity … reclaiming my dignity. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but for this relationship to have a chance, I had to. That was always going to be between us … if I didn’t bring it out into the open and deal with it. So I did us both a favor. That is, unless you don’t like me and don’t want to see this go anywhere. But now you know where I stand.”
“So, are we even now?”
“I don’t imagine it works that way, but now you can go to bed.”
He looked unsure. He appeared to be making an effort to not allow his eyes to stray down my body. “Umm…” he mumbled.
“Nope,” I replied. “I get the last word. Off to bed with you.”
“You go girl!” Catherine said.
I smiled, but I didn’t reply – not with Nick in the room. He glanced back, so I shooed him off with the wave of a hand. “You got your goodnight kiss. All you get.”
A few minutes later, Catherine and I were in bed. We stayed up, talking late into the night, mostly discussing past relationships. I was surprised to hear how similar her life had been to mine. She hadn’t had to deal with the stress of social media or the disruption to life that the 2020 pandemic had caused, but boys were boys – as immature in the eighties as in the twenties.
~ ~ ~
When I woke up, Nick was gone, but he’d tucked a letter and his card under my car keys.
Jessa – –
Thank you for a fun evening. And thank you for slapping me – – if that’s what it takes to put the handcuffs thing behind us. I’ll turn the other cheek. That might be necessary. I’m sure you haven’t forgotten that I tackled you that night as well. So if you have to – – go ahead.
But moving on, I’m excited to pursue this investigation. Rock, Paper, Scissors. It would be so cool to solve a 40-year old cold case. All victims deserve justice.
It’s not the only thing I need to do today, but I hope to be able to get going on it this morning. Let’s talk next steps this afternoon. Come by the station or send me a text to the number on the back of my card and I’ll call you.
– – Nick
PS: Give my best to Catherine.
I let Catherine read the letter, and then I pulled up a favorite tune on my phone and we both started dancing in celebration. We had a new team member – one with all kinds of access! I stayed well away from the windows. I didn’t think Nick’s neighbors needed to see that – my tits bobbing around on my chest.
Once we’d settled down, I helped myself to some breakfast in Nick’s kitchen, showered, and then got dressed. Unfortunately, I had only the clothes I’d been wearing. It was time to go home – time for my walk of shame. My mother wouldn’t say anything, but I knew exactly what she’d be thinking.
At home, making an effort at keeping up appearances, I went back to painting. As requested, I sent Nick a text – a selfie of me holding a paint roller, my hair tied back, a dab of paint on my face.
Rather than call, he replied with a text. “Cute! I’ll stop by.”
A bit later, I heard a car in the driveway. “Jessa, I think it’s your boyfriend,” my mom called out as she walked out the front door.
I put my roller in the tray and followed her out onto the porch. She was talking to Nick. He was in full uniform, a shiny badge pinned to his chest.
“Yup. Pretty much exactly how we met,” I heard him say.
“Hmm,” my mother replied, frowning at me. “Well, I’m sure my husband would like to make your acquaintance, but he’s off at the hardware store. Why don’t you come by for dinner? I’ll be putting a chicken in the oven, so maybe seven o’clock?”
“I’d love to, but Jessa and I already have plans. Another night?”
“Sure. Another night,” she said, stepping back and turning toward the door.
Hoping that she was watching, I wrapped my arms around Nick’s neck and slipped him some tongue. “Wow. What was that for?” he asked.
“For the other night … for tackling me,” I said, giving him my best coy smile.
I glanced back just in time to see my mother turn away. Taking his hand, I pulled him away from the house. What we really needed to talk about required absolute privacy. “So, we have plans?”
“Yeah. I asked Rebecca to stay late. I was thinking she could keep notes. Help organize.”
“Yeah. That’s what I thought you’d say. And we’d be at the station, so it wouldn’t be just Becca.”
“At the police station? I don’t think so. We need Catherine, which means…”
“Okay. Let’s do this. Meet me at my place. Again, six-thirty. I’ll bring the files. They aren’t supposed to leave the premises, but some rules are made to be broken.”
“Can I quote you?”
Ignoring my question, he continued, “I’ll order pizza. What kind do you and Catherine like?”
“Pepperoni works for me. I usually add olives and mushrooms, sometimes sun-dried tomatoes”
“And Catherine? Better ask her.”
I shook my head, glancing back at the house. “You naughty boy.”
“But shouldn’t we check? You know how important it is to me to be a good host.”
“I’m sure that’s it. But she’ll love whatever you get. Trust me.”
“I guess I’ll have to.”
A short time later, Nick left. I was again painting when my mom walked in. “Honey, if you and your policeman friend…”
“Right. If you and Nick are going out, maybe he could pick you up. Your father, Mason, and I have been talking about going to a movie after dinner. Mason has one he wants to see. It’s playing at the multiplex south of town. We were hoping you’d come … a family outing. But maybe you and Nick would like to join us.”
“Okay, but we need the car.”
“Fine. I’ll text Nick.” I did and then went back to painting.
Mere moments later, he replied, “I’ll be by about 6:30. Make sure Catherine knows.”
So Nick wanted me to get naked and he wasn’t even there. Funny guy. “Cathers. Nick’s picking us up at six-thirty,” I announced to the seemingly empty room.
“Did you say something?” my mom said, leaning out of the kitchen.
“Just talking to myself,” I replied.
To Be Continued…
Author’s note: If you are reading and enjoying Jessa Meets Her Match, I would love to hear from you! You may comment here on the storyboard (as ‘anonymous’ or register and give yourself a name). Alternately, feel free to send me an email: BPClavel@gmail.com
Very best regards,
Blair P. Clavel
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