A Taste of Sweat
[Author's note: This is an entry in the xee2014.ru 2018 Summer Lovin' Contest. If you enjoy it, please vote. Comments are always welcome. All characters are over the age of 18 at all times in the story, and are entirely fictional. All rights are reserved.]
Ron scanned the baking-hot parking lot, hoping, looking for short, too-red hair. Twice in the past week, he had seen her leaving the gym, both occasions around this time in the afternoon. Now he saw several hurrying fit bodies, strapped in damp spandex, hair pulled back in ponytails or under a hat, but not Trixie. One dark sports bra, overloaded with ridiculously enhanced cargo, was dominated by dark areas soaked with sweat.
Sweat. The second sighting had been two days ago. Unlike the first time, Trixie hadn't been wearing a lightweight hoodie as she headed toward her truck, parked in same corner of the parking lot near the busy stop-lighted intersection where he had seen her before. Instead, she'd been wearing a long-sleeved, cropped compression top, in a turquoise that made her blue eyes glow.
He had happily received hugs both times. Warm, perspiration-soaked hugs. For two days now his thoughts had been haunted by memories of the second one. His arms had slipped around her slim waist - an athletic feminine firmness, so unlike her twin sister's plump, soft curves - and found smooth bare skin slick with sweat. His fingers had risked making a small damp circle, sliding over sleek muscles alongside her spine.
She hadn't reacted to his extraneous touch, but did apologize when she saw the wet stains she had left on his shirt. It had earned him another touch, her workout-gloved hand on his chest as he reassured her that...
"Really, it's no sweat."
Her trill of laughter had thrilled him more than he expected, accompanied by the wide smile that showed straight, unencumbered teeth. When he had seen her last, before leaving their hometown four years ago, those teeth had been covered in metal orthodonture.
That day, he had finished his walk home from his new work with an extra bounce to each step. Showing great restraint, he had not brought his hand up until he rounded the next corner, though he was tinglingly aware of it. Whether the salty hint he'd found on his fingers then truly came from her sweat didn't matter; he had licked the length of the longest one like he was catching a bead of precious perspiration running down her long neck from just below one ear.
That salty taste, the remembered feel of slick slim back and a half-gloved hand on his chest confirmed it: no longer on the back burner but returned to the front of the stove, heat turned up, his dormant crush on his ex-girlfriend's very nonidentical twin sister had returned. Trixie wove through his thoughts and dreams continually.
And for the second straight day, the parking lot denied him. Same time, same place - she had been here twice before, on Monday and Wednesday - where was she on Friday? There was no bounce to his step during the six remaining sweltering blocks home, following the same path that he walked daily now from his new second story apartment in what had been a large private home a century ago, past the gym, to his work. And then back again.
He could almost admit to himself that the true, underlying reason he had taken the promotion to run the new distribution center, to return to the backwards hick town of his youth, was not the pay raise and promotion, but the chance to see her, to renew contact with her again.
Disappointed, he recalled blowing up at his girlfriend, Chrissie, Trixie's sister, after one too many cruel insults thrown her way, during a day almost as hot as this one. The buxom, bitchy cheerleader followed in their mom's footsteps, throwing hurtful barbs at her sibling for no discernible reason. Usually they were about being unpopular, or small-chested, or something else petty and superficial.
It was four summers ago, and the three new high school graduates had gone to the local pond to sunbathe, smoke a joint, and cool off in the tepid water. Chrissie brought up the difference in how the two sisters filled out their swimsuit tops over and over again.
The last cutting remark had dragged Ron out of a stoned reverie, watching a bead of sweat make its slow, halting journey down Trixie's washboard stomach. The bead would catch on the minuscule blond hairs below her petite navel, then release to course downward an inch or so, only to be slowed again by another pale, almost invisible hair, sun-bleached lighter than her toned, tanned skin.
"Why the fuck are you ragging on Trix? You sound like your nasty bitch of a mother." The girls stared at him with open mouths, the slimmer one's full of braces. He shook his head. "Take pride in something you've actually accomplished, instead of how big your tits are."
Trixie's gaze was grateful, warm. Chrissie glared at him, then bust into tears, but within a quarter hour she had been horny, eagerly dragging him over a slight rise for 'privacy.' Normally a whisperer during sex, she had yelled out his name and more, cumming when he clamped a hand over her mouth without slowing his angry, hard thrusts.
That memory brought back another, of their mother humiliating, berating Trixie, her voice rising to a crazed shriek. Of the witty, quick-with-a-comeback daughter walking off, silent, outwardly calm. He remembered, days later, learning how she had chosen to respond to the unwarranted abuse.
He had seen the barest hint of a dark point extending below her t-shirt sleeve, by accident, when the material snagged on a sharp corner. "Is that a tattoo?"
They had been working on a chemistry project. Her nod was hesitant, eyes dropping. "Shh."
At the twins' house, with Chrissie in the bathroom, he'd found a moment and asked to see it. Her brow knitted. "Don't tell anyone. My folks would freak."
"Your folks are freaks." It earned him a metallic grin. She pulled her loose sleeve up.
Ron remembered the distinct thrill he'd felt as she exposed even that small part, her shoulder, to him. It seemed intimate and he wanted to share more with her. She revealed a roughly triangular medieval shield, flat on top, then rounding down to a central point. Shaped like the underside of a clothes iron.
"It's cool. Is that based on Durer?" Albrecht Durer was a famous German artist, known for highly detailed etchings of 15th and 16th century Europe.
"I'm impressed." His heart had physically fluttered in his chest at the compliment, and their shared knowledge.
The artwork was finely lined, showing tiny rivets holding a metal edge to the shield. It was also plain, almost painfully empty. "A shield? You, with that rapier-like wit, need protection from slings and arrows?"
The grin returned, fleeting, but her eyes were sad, almost hurt. Another nod. And silence. Rare, youthful intuition struck him. "From...your mom?"
Her lower lip had quivered, he was sure, before she looked away. Short red hair shifted, confirming the slightest confirming nod yet.
"Wow. I am so sorry."
Her head spun back, eyes sharp on his. Her whisper was low, intense. "Don't you ever be sorry. You're the only one who has ever really..."
The bathroom door locked had clicked, Trixie's sleeve came down to hide the art, and he never got to hear her finish the sentence.
Turning the corner a block from his new, still empty apartment, the thoughts and images of Trixie and her slick-with-sweat, trim and tempting post-workout body, her bright smile and addictive laugh - and earlier, less pleasant memories - were all temporarily chased from his mind, by curiosity and a sudden rush of boy-sees-girl reflexive hormones. His attention locked in on a very different distraction, though still obviously trim, fit and feminine. One with shiny jet-black hair to her shoulders, bangs cut in a severe line.
She half sat, half leaned against one of the two short squat brick pillars marking his home, her bare legs stretching out from beneath pleats of red (Stewart tartan? His mind idly wondered) plaid. With her weight leaned back on her arms, a wide swath of tan midriff showed, flat except for the shallow shadows hinting at rippled muscles below.
Multicolored ink formed a swirl of Koi-ed colors trailing down one arm, a sharp contrast to the skirt and the crisp white button down shirt, tied high at her solar plexus. A matching red plaid tie, much too small to be businesswear, and bright white sneakers over lace-topped short socks completed the look.
In the time it took him to cover the block, he saw two different men, plus a small boy holding his mother's hand, turn to gape at her as they passed. One of the men, the younger, paused and said something to her. Her reply was curt, without the slightest movement, and he stomped off, shaking his head.
Drawing close, she looked away from his direction, showing him her body's profile. He could see the slightest curve of a small breast under the white cotton. His eyes dropped, pulled to the silent invitation of the matching shadows that gathered at the contour of each lean hip where the low-slinging skirt began and smooth belly disappeared. He thought of beads of sweat tracing down from a redhead's tanned navel, years ago.
Just before he stepped past her to turn up his stairs, glossy black bangs swung out as her face turned to him, blue eyes bright and amused. Eyes that caught his rising too late from their gawking. Wide lips opened into a bright, broad metal-less smile. "Well, hi there. Right on time."
He stumbled, both his feet and tongue. "T...Trix?!"
"No. I am not trying to turn tricks." She sent the wig's fine hairs splaying out in a neat wedge when she shook her head. Her upper lip pulled higher, toward one nostril. "Yuck. How do girls put up with the assholes out here? I will never wear this skirt again. In public."
Turning tricks? His thoughts tried to adjust to her surprise presence, and her comment. 'In public?' Like she might wear the skirt again in private?
"Are you going to invite me in?" Bright upturned eyes flitted between his own, searching for an answer there, showing doubt, needing reassurance. "I'm tired of the leers. And it's way too hot."
"Of course. Sorry. I was distracted. Come on up." He beckoned her up the handful of stairs toward the outer door.
She looked over at him as he held the door for her, near anger. "What gives them the right to assume I'm a prostitute?"
She continued before he could muster an answer. "They prolly wonder what I'm costing you right now. And giving you. But look at this skirt. I might not be a whore at all."
She stood in the small atrium, the entry landing of the fourplex divided up out of what had once been a sizable private house, hands flaring out plaid pleats. It showed him more bare leg, calling his eyes back to where the low-slung waist only accentuated her lean, lovely stomach. "Right?"
His thoughts had time to catch up, somewhat. He had no idea what exactly he was agreeing to. "Absolutely."
"Yeah. I could be a... a student, visiting her teacher to maybe earn some extra credit, raise my grade."
"Uh. I think technically that's still a prostitute. Quid pro quo and what not."
He held open the inner door, this one of glass, and pointed up the stairs with a thumb. "Second floor, first door on the left."
The air here was cooler, but still held the day's oppressive heat.
She skipped ahead, up the steps. Flopping pleats danced before him, teasing much without showing more than a long expanse of smooth bare backs of her thighs and a slim curving space between them. "Good point. And nice use of Latin." She twisted to look at him as she skipped up the stairs. "Are you staring at my ass?"
"What? No. I was staring at your legs. The skirt is still hiding your ass."
She grinned, then flipped up the pleats with both hands. Just as quick, the pleats hung back down and she had turned, bouncing on the second floor landing. He had caught only a glimpse of toned, round half-globes, covered in snug grey cotton banded the thighs with white. "Peek a boo."
"That was quite a peek. If I was your teacher I'd be reaching for my grade book to change yours to an A right now."
"What? With no squid pro bono, no tit for tat?"
He shrugged. "I'm not really a big tit man."
"That's not what my sister said. She was always braying about how much you liked her big titties."
He laughed. "Yeah. Braying sounds about right. And you believed her?"
Ron sighed, fishing keys out of his hip pocket. He tried to ignore the slight swelling, the sensitized arousal he found there. "Chrissie checked the usual juvenile boxes, including great big boobs. Honestly, I wasn't sure what to do with them."
"Seriously. Big boobs get in the way, they hang down all floppy as soon as the bra is off, they're not firm and - you know - more than a handful is a waste. Don't get me wrong: I like tits, and nipples especially. It's just the really big ones, at least the naturally big ones..."
"Good distinction." She added.
"....tend to be not so firm."
She cocked an eyebrow, doubtful, looking at him to see if he was teasing. He shrugged. "I like leaner bodies, I guess."
"Lean I've got." Trixie made a show of flexing thin but ripped arms, rotating one hand to point in a 'which way is the beach' pose.
"I noticed that in the gym parking lot the other day." He stepped by her, unlocked the door and gestured for her to enter.
"Sweet. A guy noticed me. And he has manners. Ah. Cool air." The air conditioner chose that moment to kick on with a loud hum.
She turned to face him, arms out. "Hug?"
The embrace was quicker than the ones outside the gym. Both seemed almost awkwardly aware they were alone. He kept his hand high, on her shirt, resisting the urge to find the slickness he knew would be coating her bare back above the skirt. It reminded him of tasting her saltiness on his fingers, days ago.
She made a small frown when she stepped back. "Sorry about getting your shirt all sweaty. Again."
"No need for any more apologies on that account. It's not every day I get a hug from a hot fitness babe."
The eyebrow rose again, and her arms crossed. "Now you're teasing."
"Nope. I don't get one every single day. Most days, yes, what with all my hot fitness model posse-friends, but not all."
"I meant about the 'hot babe' part."
"Trix, you just don't get it, do you? Your sister had the flash, but you have always been the beauty in that family. Those guys on the sidewalk weren't looking at your skirt. They were looking at what the skirt showed a glimpse of: you."
Trixie flushed red, her eyes down.
Ron continued. "Your family were ugly people, and I don't mean appearance-wise. Petty, mean, just plain ugly souls. Especially your parents; Chrissie more or less just seemed to follow along. But you. You were the bright, glowing rainbow shining out of the gloom. I always felt an urge to...protect you from them."
He stopped, embarrassed at his own outpouring. His mouth wasn't done, though. "Especially after you showed me your tattoo, that shield to ward off your mother's crap."
He gestured at her arm, the bright 'tattoos' he had seen on the street revealed to be just a stretchy nylon sleeve printed with designs. It ended at her wrist where a single lacy half-glove began. "And now look at you."
Her mouth screwed into a wry, joyless grin. "You don't know the half of it."
He tried to think of something to break the sudden awkward silence. "So, uh, why were you waiting for me today, anyhow?"
"Oh. Yeah. I had a favor to ask." The change of subject only added to her shyness. Lips pursed in thought.
After a pause, words rushed out.
"You still smoke pot, don't you? I was hoping you might get me high." The last one was on a hurried, rising note, an implied questioning inflection that sounded out of place coming from the usually confident girl.
"Hmm. Do you mind if I ask why?"
She actually twisted one white sneaker, like a kid caught breaking a rule. "I kinda have a crush on a certain guy, and he's a weed smoker, I'm pretty sure. He used to be. I don't want to seem like a babbling idiot if I..if we...you know. If we ever actually go on a...if we, like, get together."
"You're kind of babbling now, Trix. Are you sure you need the pot?"
She flushed red.
"I'm kidding. I'm kidding. Sorry. I'm just surprised, and a little jealous of this guy you've got a crush on."
"You? Jealous? Why?"
"Umm. I just called you a beautiful rainbow radiating out of a cloud of familial gloom, didn't I? He's a lucky guy. Sure, though. I brought a little bud with me. And it's good organic Humboldt green. Not like that seedy bale weed we used to smoke." He turned away, inwardly kicking himself for confessing his jealousy. In the almost empty apartment, it was easy to find the small knapsack he was looking for.
"You said 'beautiful.' I heard 'bright, glowing' and 'hot' earlier, but not beautiful." Her smile was teasing, more relaxed.
He brought back a small zippered pouch, busied himself fishing out his contents. It made it easier to answer her. "Bright, yes you are. Hot, we've already covered. And, yes, you are beautiful. You were beautiful when you kept those lips sealed around your double row of braces. Now? Wow, Trix. Yeah. You glow alright."
She was staring at him, her forehead pulled tight as though it hurt to hear his compliments. Again, he thought it best to change the subject. "Wanna get high?"
"Yes please." She giggled.
He asked his remaining question while he filled the bowl of the small glass pipe. "We used to smoke, back in the day. Why are you worried now?"
"Ron, I haven't gotten high since we did on the beach that's time. Right before you broke up with Chrissie. And I...well, I guess I always liked this guy, but hadn't seen him in a long time. Until recently. He's back in town, and I'm hoping he'll ask me out."
She took the offered pipe, sealing her lips against the rounded end opposite the bowl. Ron watched her, thinking about those lips, remembering when they seemed to primarily spend their time stretched over her braces and teeth, hiding the metal bands from the world.
She stopped, looking surprised, the lighter suspended in her hand. Ron explained: "You might want to lose the wig, cute as you look in it. I'm guessing it's flammable."
"Oh. Good point." She tugged the severe black wig off, tossing it onto an arm of the couch nearby. Her own short hair, naturally red and now apparently enhanced with brighter crimson streaks, was tousled but definitely attractive. He could see more of her face and the long, elegant lines of her neck.
Again she wrapped her lips around the pipe, then flicked the lighter to life. Cheeks hollowed, sucking in to pull the flame down into the crumbled green bud.
Without the orthodonture, her lips looked fuller now, curving in a deep, graceful bow. She had been cute, pretty even, with the braces. She was truly beautiful now. And she had a crush on some undeserving, clueless guy. Ron cursed his timing.
"Hey!" Her voice was tight, spoken while holding the inhaled smoke in her lungs. She offered him pipe and lighter. "Why the frown? I saved you some."
"Oh. Nothing. Just thinking." He smiled at her. At least she was here with him now, even on a friendly basis. He had missed her.
He drew in his own deep hit, feeling the warm sensation creep into his brain even as the smoke filled his lungs. The lung-blood-brain pathway was almost immediate. He noticed her eyes on his expanded chest, where she had left her wet, sweaty imprint the other day.
"What?" He handed the paraphernalia back to her.
"Remember when we would joke about how our kids would turn out? Your barrel chest reminded me. Are you sure you don't lift weights?" She sucked in a second, smaller hit.