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“Oh my God that felt good!”
Steve looked up from his recliner as his mother stepped barefoot from the bathroom in a billowing cloud of steam, wrapped in a giant blue beach towel. He’d been drifting toward a luxurious nap while Leanna rinsed the clammy sheen of all-day travel from her skin.
“Come!” she commanded. “A proper hug, now that I don’t smell like stale airplane!” She thrust her arms out and made little grasping motions with her fingers. Steve noticed what looked like a fresh coat of cranberry-red nail polish.
He hoisted himself from the chair and felt a dull, comfortable pain radiating through his limbs from chopping wood the day before. As if on cue, the fire emitted a satisfying string of pops and snaps. Steve smiled and stepped into his mother’s embrace.
“Oh baby,” said Leanna, pulling him tight against her. His chin bumped her forehead. “I’m so sorry about you and Rachel. I really am.” Steve could feel her breath gusting against his neck as she spoke. “She wasn’t my favourite, you know that. But I know how much you loved her. And I know how much it hurts when that ends. I’m here for you this weekend, whatever you need, ok?”
Steve turned his face down and whispered into his mother’s wet, towel-tangled hair, “Thanks mom.” They stood like that for a moment, breathing. She smelled like an Orange Julius. Her towel was warm and damp against him.
Leanna drew her hands across the top of Steve’s back and around his shoulders, pushing against his chest and stepping back to put some distance between them. She put her hands on her hips and gave him the full once-over.
“My baby boy, you’re going to be just fine,” she concluded. “Just like I was fine, eventually. After your father left.”
“I know that mom. Thanks,” said Steve, nodding. He felt a tightening in his throat and gulped it down. Uh-oh, he thought. Christmas-at-the-cottage-with-my-somewhat-estranged-mother was ramping up to be more of an emotional experience than he’d imagined.
And what exactly had he imagined when he’d invited his mother to spend Christmas with him, flying her here from the other side of the country? He had yet to open up to anyone about his feelings over Rachel leaving, and now he was embarking on a three-day, close-quarters session with the woman who’d wanted Rachel out of his life from day one. He’d asked for this.
Leanna must have seen him struggling, nodding like a fool as he fought back the tears. “Oh!” she exclaimed, bringing a manicured forefinger to the corner of her mouth. Her lips shone with a glistening, protective gloss. “I forgot to bring in the wine from the car! Grab it for me, will you?”
“Sure thing,” said Steve, spinning on his heel. “And then, spaghetti!”
“Excellent!” said Leanna. He could feel her wide-mouthed smile beaming right into his back.
The wine was doing its job. Steve felt cozy and relaxed as he and his mother drifted in and out of conversation over dinner. The fire crackled.
Steve had not seen his mother in the two years since he and Rachel had moved from B.C. back to Ontario. And he had not spent time alone with her—without Rachel—in five years.
“It’s nice to be back here,” mused Leanna, as if reading his thoughts. She looked around the cottage before settling her gaze on him. Her rich brown eyes shone in the orange, cedar-tinged light. “I’ll be honest,” she said, fingering her wine glass and staring into it. “I was kind of dreading it. All the memories, good and bad, you know.” She smiled gently. “And now we can make some new memories, just the two of us, right? Good ones only though! To help push out the not-so-good ones.”
“Here, here,” said Steve. They clinked glasses. Leanna topped him up, then emptied the bottle into her goblet. “That was fast,” she said, her eyes wide. She seemed genuinely surprised at how quickly the Pinot had disappeared.
Leanna sat back and reached her arms behind her head, pulling her hair off her shoulders and winding it into a ponytail. Steve took note of the fleshy jiggle under her arms, yet for a woman pushing 50, her triceps were surprisingly firm.
Then his eyes flicked to her chest and just as quickly he yanked them away. He’d seen the fabric of her thin white t-shirt stretched taught across her breasts as they rose up and back with her shoulders. Steve looked out the darkening window and lifted his glass to his lips.
As she worked on her hair, Steve detected in his peripheral vision the ever-so-slight up-and-down movement and side-to-side sway of his mother’s breasts. She wasn’t wearing a bra. He thought about their warm embrace in front of the fire earlier and shuddered, his glass tinkling against his teeth. What the fuck?
“I’ll do the dishes,” he said. His chair scraped against the floor as he stood, startling him.
“K,” she said, finishing off her ponytail with the snap of an elastic. “I’ll dry?”
“Nah, you get some rest. That was a long trip for you!”
She waved him off. “Silly,” beylikdüzü otele gelen escort she said. “But first: more wine!”
Steve looked out the window. He could just make out the snow-covered rock that he and his father used to fish from when he was younger, playing out their lines with grubby worms squirming on the ends of rusty hooks. They would pass the entire afternoon like that while his mother sunbathed, offering wry, disinterested commentary on their bumbling efforts.
Even at that age he’d been aware that his parents were not exactly “together,” though they’d stuck it out for years. In contrast, he and Rachel had exploded apart in what seemed like an instant, shattering their five-year relationship in a hail of verbal gunfire. In retrospect, thought Steve, their guns had long been cocked and locked. All it took was a casual flick of the safety.
Steve’s vision came back into focus on the dish towel dancing in front of his face. He smiled.
“Hey rocketman,” said his mom. “Space much?” They were side by side at the sink.
“Sorry. Those memories you mentioned? I got ’em too.” Steve instantly regretted his maudlin tone. It was not his intention to act the part of the sad sack over Christmas, though he had to admit it felt nice having his mom’s sympathy over Rachel leaving, as disingenuous as that sympathy may have been.
“Course you do sweetheart, oh, of course you do.” Leanna reached up and squeezed his shoulder. Steve ran the sponge over a sudsy plate and handed it to his mother. Their bare arms bumped as she dried it, and Steve felt a tiny jolt.
Leanna stepped away to put the plate back where it belonged. Steve found himself actively resisting the urge to glance that way, keenly aware that she was on her toes, extending her arm above her head to reach the shelf.
When she returned to his side, she came close enough their arms bumped again. Their forearms and elbows grazed each other with the circular motion of the washing and drying. There was something about the way his mother had purposely stood so close to him when she clearly didn’t need to that gave Steve his second shiver of the evening.
What. The. Fuck?
Leanna went to put away the next plate, and this time, Steve did look. “You ok with that? I can reach if you want,” he said.
He took in the length of her leg. She was wearing black footless leggings, her right leg extended slightly behind her, bare toes pointed as she rose on the ball of her left foot. Her toenails were painted the same cranberry colour as her fingers. She was reaching up with her right arm, and even in this extended position, her breasts were full and heavy. Steve felt a contraction in his gut and a heat bloomed in his cheeks.
He wasn’t used to so much flesh. Rachel’s breasts were small. If she’d stretched up that high, as she often did during her workout routine, her tits would have disappeared entirely. It was something she often joked about, and Steve sometimes wondered if the self-deprecating jabs were her way of deflecting a feeling that her chest was inadequate. Steve was always complimenting Rachel’s figure—even to his mother, come to think of it—and he made a show of adoration over her breasts; he’d come to believe they were exactly right for him.
But now, with the swing and sway of this other pair beside him, he questioned his long-held “preference.” Without a bra his mother’s breasts seemed to have a life of their own, related to but independent of her body, twitching and jumping this way and that, suddenly or languidly as she stepped and gestured and stretched and bent and leaned.
Why wasn’t she wearing a bra, anyway? Steve attacked the saucepan with his Brillo pad. His goddamn mother.
“Nah,” exhaled Leanna, as the plate clattered into place and she dropped back on her heels. Her ponytail swung. “I got it.”
Steve thought it was difficult for an older woman to pull off a ponytail, but Leanna was making it work. In fact, she was rocking it. Rachel had always preferred some variation of a pixie cut.
Leanna took her time wandering back to the sink. She was… sauntering? Steve bent even lower over his task. “Something stuck on the pan, just here,” he mumbled as he scrubbed. He could feel the redness in his face. Finally, he passed the pan to her for drying, but she was no longer there.
“Take, that!” she yelled from behind him, and snap!
“Yeeaahh! Dammit mom!” Steve dropped the pan into the sink as his hand jerked to the back of his bare thigh where she’d cracked the dish towel like a bullwhip. (Shorts had always been Steve’s preferred cottage attire, no matter the season.) He turned with a grimace to see her bent forward with laughter. Steve laughed too as he rubbed his leg.
When Leanna had caught her breath, she rolled up the towel and drew it back for another strike. “Still got it, baby,” she said with a wink. Steve crouched with his arms outstretched beylikdüzü rus escort toward her like a wrestler, readying himself for the next attack.
Leanna feinted once then whipped the towel again, aiming low for his knee. Steve caught the towel and yanked, pulling her forward. “Hey!” she yelped.
Leanna stumbled into him and he staggered back against the kitchen counter, his hands gripping her shoulders. She pressed in tight against him, laughing, her tits a single mass of firm flesh shuddering against his chest. His bare leg was snugged up tight into the crotch of her leggings. The heat of her inner thighs burned.
Leanna peeled herself off his chest and brushed a few strands of hair from her face. “All right, all right,” she said. Her face was flushed and her eyes glinted. “Since I suckered you from behind, I’ll give you a free one!”
She walked to the opposite side of the kitchen. She put her hands on the counter and pushed her bum toward him, just a bit—but it was enough of a gesture to close Steve’s throat and tie a small knot in his belly.
“Come on, get it over with already,” she teased. “Or maybe you can’t hit the target?” Her voice taunted and she shimmied her hips. She was drunk, Steve realized.
He readied the towel to strike. “Just… making sure… I’m on target…”
He drew the moment out, sighting down the length of the towel in a cartoonish way, aware that he was positively leering at every Lycra-clad inch of his mother’s backside. It was without a doubt an expertly sculpted, yoga-toned ass. Steve knew one when he saw it. But his mother hated yoga… didn’t she?
“Rump, shake-a-rump, shake-a-rump,” sang Leanna, shifting her weight from side to side. Steve ogled her from the top town, her broad (for a woman) shoulders narrowing toward her meaty waist, the flare of her hips, the curve of thigh and calf. There was a comfortable finger’s-width of space between her legs at the top of her thighs, no doubt due to the miracle packing power of Lycra.
To Steve, the crazy thing was, what they were doing right now was exactly what they used to do years ago: washing dishes side by side at the sink, snapping each other’s asses with the dish towel, bumping around in the tiny kitchen, hugging and laughing.
It was clear to him now. His mother was simply following the familiar patterns, trying to cheer him up by reliving the cherished silliness of family time at the cottage. This was her strategy for helping him get back on track after Rachel, and fuck! He was eroticizing it!
Steve balled up the towel and tossed it at her ass. “Too easy,” he said.
“Aww,” whined Leanna, turning toward him. She cocked her hip and smiled wide. The fabric of her t-shirt was bunched across and under her tits, drawing Steve’s eye.
She looked down at herself and tugged at her shirt, pulling it tight over her breasts. Her nipples were showing. “I know, right? I forgot to bring any bras!” She made a goofy face and shrugged her arms in a whaddaya-gonna-do? sort of gesture.
Steve was dumbstruck. His mother had all but hung a neon sign around her neck, saying “Look at these titties!” And he was obliging her, God help him, but in a sort of glassy-eyed, middle-distance sort of way. “Uhhh… you could, um, well…” he stuttered.
“Oh, re-lax!” she laughed. “I’ll be fine for a couple of days. No panties either, in case you wanted to know. They’re sitting on the edge of my bed at home. Guess I forgot to pack ’em.” Leanna picked up the towel and threw it at him. “Try again tomorrow?” She folded her arms across her chest, scooping up her tits along the way. They settled over her forearms.
“Only when you’re least expecting it,” said Steve, turning away from her. He plunged his hands into the sink and leaned his hips into the countertop. He became pleasantly, if shamefully, aware of his cock.
Steve wound his way up the hill to the west of the cottage, hunting for the perfect Charlie Brown Christmas tree. The morning sun on the snow was blinding. His frozen breath twinkled on his eyelashes.
He was happy to feel the bracing cold working its way through his flannels. In fact, he’d underdressed expressly for the purpose. He needed to cool down after last night’s display. He had tossed and turned throughout the night, listening to the creak of the cottage and desperately, fruitlessly, trying not to think of his mother’s body.
As it turned out, Leanna did do yoga. That became clear when she bellied up to the breakfast table dressed for her daily sun salutations. She wore the same black leggings from the day before. Her breasts were smashed into a matching black and blue tank top with a tasteful scoop that displayed about two inches of snug cleavage.
Steve was itching to get away. He didn’t want to be in the room while she stretched her way through the requisite poses, her limbs and other body parts protruding and curving in all the usual pulse-quickening beylikdüzü türbanlı escort configurations.
But Leanna was oddly anxious to rationalize her new-found appreciation for yoga after having ridiculed it for years, mostly, it turned out, because Rachel had been so into it.
Steve was surprised at her admission after all this time. He had always thought Leanna hated yoga from the get-go, and that Rachel’s commitment to it simply pegged her as the type of person with whom Leanna would not—could not—ever get along.
But Leanna said it was the reverse. She’d always wanted to take up yoga, more so as she got older. Then when self-proclaimed yoga master Rachel pranced into her life, Leanna said she felt like she had “no choice” but to abandon it before she ever really got started.
It was all strange and inexplicable to Steve, who knew it wasn’t just about yoga. Although, to hear Leanna tell it, it may as well have been. Pretty much anything Rachel did or liked or expressed even the slightest opinion about, Leanna would immediately take the opposing side. Steve could never get his mother to lighten up, and in the end, after a catastrophic blowout one Christmas Eve (two years ago to the day, in fact), the only solution seemed to be for Steve and Rachel to move twenty-five hundred miles away.
But instead of marking a glorious new beginning away from the prying eyes of his contrarian mother, it turned out to be the beginning of the end for him and his ex-fiancée-to-be.
As he picked his way through the woods toward a suitably pathetic Douglas-fir, Steve wondered absurdly whether Leanna’s and Rachel’s mutual antagonism was the glue that had kept him and Rachel together.
Not long after their move, Rachel grew restless and dismissive of Steve. Their sex life withered—they were in their mid-20s for fuck’s sake! Yet they were down to once a month at best, in the dark, on the bed, perfunctory, dutiful.
Could it be that Leanna’s absence in their day-to-day lives was to blame? That without a common enemy to defend and plot against, and to rile their emotions in pursuit of a rollicking good fuck, Rachel simply got bored? Anything was possible. By the time she’d left, Steve and Rachel had not so much as touched each other in six weeks.
Yes, thought Steve, hunkering down at the base of his chosen specimen. This forlorn little fellow would do just fine. He set his saw against the trunk and started to pull.
Steve was surprised to see his mother outside when he arrived back at the cottage. She was fumbling dangerously with his axe. He didn’t think she’d actually hurt herself, but perhaps a lesson was in order.
“Whoa there Bear Grylls. You’ll poke your eye out with that thing. Take a break and look at this instead.” Steve set the tree upright on its trunk and bowed admiringly before it—all four feet of it. “Ta da!”
A crooked grin split Leanna’s rosy face. She looked at Steve, her eyes nothing but tiny slits against the sun. “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown,” she said from beneath her pom-pom topped toque.
“Wuh wanh, wuh wanh wanh wuh…” Steve did his best Peanuts teacher impression and Leanna doubled over with laughter. It was so easy to make his mother laugh when it was just the two of them. He was only now remembering.
“Seriously now.” Steve let the tree keel slowly over in the snow as he stepped forward and took the axe from Leanna’s hands. “Let me show you how it’s done.”
Steve and his mother stayed outside for hours, laughing and playing in the snow. They chopped enough wood for the next two days. Steve dumped the morning’s bacon grease and watched it congeal in the snow, then formed it into a ball and tossed it into the woods for the birds to find (or a bear). They made snow angels, naturally. They played follow the leader, with the follower doing his or her best to stay in the footprints of the leader as they clomped figure eights around trees, staggering like drunks.
Then, when they were gloriously exhausted and panting, dishevelled and covered with snow, their fingers and toes numb, they trooped inside.
Steve built a blazing fire that crackled and roared with ferocious heat while Leanna cut snowflakes out of coffee filters. They took turns placing them haphazardly among the boughs of the tree. Leanna kept tickling Steve in his armpit, always at the last second when he was gingerly setting the makeshift ornaments into place. One time he jerked and knocked the whole tree over, and they started decorating again from scratch.
“What’ll we use as the topper?” asked Leanna. They stood staring at the little tree. His mother had changed into the droopiest, sloppiest sweatpants Steve had ever seen, with a red zip-up long-sleeve top. She kept fiddling with the zipper. Steve had managed to go the whole day—most of it anyway—without thinking of his mother’s tits, and now her zipper-happy fingers were distracting the living shit out of him.
“Dunno,” said Steve. “Toilet paper roll with a fancy ribbon?”
“Maybe,” said Leanna. “But last ditch only. How about you check your room, I’ll check mine, and we’ll see what works?” she suggested.
“Sounds good,” said Steve, and they went their separate ways.
Steve tucked himself out of sight in his room and leaned his head against the wall. He exhaled a long breath.
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