Good Men Found
This Time Is Different
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This Time Is Different
This Time Is Different - Bonus Chapter
“Detective Columbo, I need your assistance in a case,” I said, passing Thomas a fresh beer as he dropped candy in yet another trick-or-treater’s bag. I’d been watching him across the lawn as I checked on my Halloween party guests and made sure that no one had eaten any of the candy corn out of the giant fish bowl. Counting the candies in the giant glass jar had been a pain in the ass and I wasn’t about to do it a second time to determine whose guess had been close enough to win the prize.
I loved hosting parties. Probably more than I liked attending them. To create something that brought others joy, that was my high. And this Halloween was turning out better than I expected. Friends and neighbors mingled, ate chili and too much candy, played games and chatted.
“Yes. You got a mystery to solve, Nancy?” he asked, scooting over on my front steps to give me room to sit beside him. Detective Columbo and Nancy Drew. He set the beer down next to him at the top of the steps and fished a mini Snickers out of the giant plastic witch’s caldron that I used to hold trick-or-treat candy. I leaned over and peered into the half-empty bowl.
“The real mystery is whether there’ll be any candy for the kids.”
I gave him an over exaggerated frown.
“Life lesson, Nancy. Don’t put me in charge of candy.”
He popped the treat into his mouth with a wink.
“Live and learn,” I shrugged. “Next year you’ll be on game duty.”
I sat down next to him and looked over to Grady in his girlfriend.
Captain America and Wonder Woman. I liked Julia. I’d been on the fence with her, eyeing her when our paths crossed, wondering what she was really like, whether she was having sex with Grady, whether she was on birth control, whether she’d be in the picture in college or whether they’d fizzle out before then. Or, even worse, that they’d crater in a devastating break up. Because even though Grady and I had a rough go of it over the past few months, he was a sweetheart. A sweetheart who finally agreed to wear a costume that wasn’t professional sports themed for once. For that Julia moved solidly into my “like” column.
They were manning the fishing game. Where folks cast a fishing pole behind a curtain and a surprise was clipped to the end of the line. Dollar store trinkets brought squeals of joy to children and airplane-sized bottles of booze in Ziplock bags always delighted my of-age guests. I watched has Diana’s middle child lit up when over the curtain came a cheap princess crown and Grady helped affix it to her long wig of purple mermaid hair. I was going to miss him next year. There was no way he was going to come home from college for his mom’s annual Halloween party. And I wouldn’t want him to. He needed his own life.
I reached into the caldron and picked out a roll of Smarties. Fumbling the cellophane wrapper, I picked out the orange candies and popped them into my mouth.
“You eat Smarties?” asked Thomas in disbelief. “I don’t even eat them. They taste like Tums.”
“Secret to solving mysteries,” I answered, pointing to my head. "Brain food."
“Hey, so what was it that you needed my help with?”
“Hang on a second,” I said, as a group of toddlers in clown costumes were herded our way by parents clicking away on their phones. And fuck, if that wasn’t scarier sight than Stephen King’s clown. A flock of unsteady miniature clowns. I tossed them candy and wished them well and was not sad when they bobbled away.
“That was creepy,” said Thomas, a half unwrapped Milky Way in his hand.
“So that thing you needed my help with?”
I got my head back into the game I’d come up with. “Detective,” I began, turning toward him so that my knees brushed against his thighs. “I need your assistance in solving a mystery.”
“You came to the right man, miss,” he said with a cocked eyebrow, his blue eyes crinkling with amusement as he ate his candy.
“I’m calling it,” I paused for dramatic effect and dropped my voice to a harsh whisper. “The Case of the Missing Panties.”
His smile faltered and his eyes grew large before becoming hooded with lust. “Amy” rumbled from him, deep and assertive.
“Let’s go get some more candy for the trick-or-treaters,” I said a little too loudly. I waved at Diana and gestured to the candy caldron and the house, indicating that I was going into to replenish and would be right back.
I patted Thomas’s knee, resting my hand there. “It’s a complete mystery,” I continued, my face guileless as if I’d just asked him to help me find a missing mate to a sock in a pile of laundry.
“I’m on the case, miss,” he answered, enveloping my hand in his own. Hand in hand, we walked into my empty house.
“I last saw them when I was getting dressed,” I said in exaggerated distress as soon as we dropped off the caldron in the kitchen.
“Let’s start our investigation in your bedroom,” he said, tugging me down the hall.
The bedroom door snicked closed and he pushed me up against it, our bodies flush, and his hands stroking the sides of my plaid costume skirt while the darkness surrounded us. “You say you last saw your panties in here?” he husked into my ear, the warmth of his breath caressing my neck and sending a wave of shivers down my spine.
“Yes, Detective,” I answered with a gulp, as he continued to paw me from hip to thigh. “They are black lace and my boyfriend really likes them.”
“I’m on the job.” On the next pass upwards, his hands slid under my skirt, rucking it up around my waist. “Miss,” he said, grabbing my ass and stroking the lace with his thumbs. “I’ve found your panties.” His mouth crashed down over mind, erasing all thought of our game.
“Is there a reward for their safe return?” he asked, breaking the kiss and leaving me breathless and filled with nothing but want.
“What?” I asked, my head light and my eyes heavy.
I snapped back into our game. “Of course, Detective.” I pushed the rumpled trench coat off his shoulders and tugged at the already lose-knotted tie. “What kind of reward?” I asked, casting my eyes skyward and putting my index finger on my pursed lips as I feigned a deep consideration. Because I already knew what I wanted to do.
“Aha!” I exclaimed, in a stage whisper, well aware of the party going on just on the other side of my drawn bedroom drapes. I pushed his chest, directing him to the club chair that before Thomas had entered my life and gave me a reason to keep my bedroom tidy, had been covered in a mountain of clothes. My hands drifted to the belt at his waist and I worked him free. I nudged his chest again, inviting him without words to sit, to take what I was offering, what I wanted to give him.
I sank to my knees in front of him and he protested. “I want to feel you.”
I shook my head. “Later," I said. "I can’t be quiet. And I want you to watch.” I shifted my weight, settling in between his spread thighs and grasping his hard cock. I stroked him a few beats as I gazed at him in my darkened bedroom, light and sound filtering in from the party. I looked at the man who wasn’t my world, but who made my world everything I thought it never could be. Everything I thought didn’t exit. That I thought wasn’t real. Because, as I lowered to taste him, I knew the words I’d spoken before were true. I loved him.