Squire’s Isle Created by Geonn Cannon

Bowled Over

 

Although Patricia knew it wasn’t feasible to have Nadine work all day every day, it was odd listening to KELF without the Pixie popping up between songs. The music was currently being piped through speakers in the bowling alley to form a soundtrack that contended with the thunderous roll of balls and the clattering of fallen pins. Two signs near the door and another at the shoe rental station declared it the “Get Bowled Over for Patricia Hood-Colby!” campaign event. It was a chance for voters to meet the candidate and speak with her about the issues close to their hearts.

Kate Price was supposed to make an appearance to write a story for the paper, and Patricia was relieved the turnout was so good. She saw Cheryl Paxton from the library wearing a Hood-Colby for Mayor T-shirt, signing with someone while waiting at the ball return. Deputy Randall White was out of uniform, wheeling his wife’s chair to a spot where they could set up with their group of friends.

Patricia had no doubt the night’s success was due to Leah’s work, and she made a quick circuit of the bowling alley to find her. She was standing with the manager, speaking in low tones and nodding eagerly. She looked up as Patricia approached and smiled, winking as she shook the manager’s hand and moved to meet Patricia halfway.

“We’ve got a good turnout.”

“I was going to say.” Leah looked over the crowd. “Have you mingled yet?”

“A little. I said hi to a couple of folks when they came in.”

Leah gave her a thumbs-up. “Now you have to keep it up. Let them have fun and bowl, but make sure they remember this is a political event. Make yourself available for questions, comments, concerns… They’re trying to get points, and you’re trying to get votes. And if any of them want to contribute to the campaign, more the better.”

Patricia nodded and smoothed down the front of her shirt. She had wanted to wear her normal work outfit, but Jill vetoed the idea. She argued it would look too stiff and professional, so Patricia wore khakis and a pink polo shirt. It helped her feel relaxed, but she wasn’t sure it put forth the image of “mayor.”

“I’m willing to play the part tonight,” Patricia said, “but I wanted to ask you to do something.”

“Yeah, sure. Anything. What do you need?”

Patricia put her hands on Leah’s shoulders. “You need to let this night drift. You’ve been rowing all night, steering this boat, but it’s on course. You just need to relax, and let it drift on. I’ll be fine, and there’s nothing you can do to make the night go any smoother than it already is. You’ve done the heavy lifting and now you can just relax. It’ll succeed or fail on its own merits, or because I didn’t do enough. But you? Your work is done for tonight.”

Leah looked around. “But I’m your campaign manager.”

“Right. Manager. And there comes a time when the manager has to step back and just let his team play ball.” She furrowed her brow. “Okay, I know I switched you from a boat to baseball, but the idea is the same. You remember how to sit down, right?”

Leah smiled sheepishly. “I remember the concept. I bend my knees and lower myself onto a horizontal surface.”

“Just like riding a bike. Go. Bowl a few frames, if you want.”

Leah sighed and Patricia felt the tension seep from the muscles under her hands. She smiled and knew that she had won.

“I guess I could use a few seconds to breathe.”

“Breathing is almost as important as sitting. As your boss, I order you to relax for the rest of the night.”

“Aye, captain.”

Patricia let go of Leah’s shoulders and stepped away from her. She watched Leah go, and then put on her politician’s smile when she noticed someone was trying politely to get her attention. “Hi. I’m Patricia Hood-Colby. What can I do to earn your vote in November?”

 

 

Jaime shut the door on her sedan. She’d spent twenty minutes in front of her closet separating her clothes into section labeled “too desperate” and “not desperate enough.” There were subdivisions and “Possible” piles, and she finally settled on a black blouse and a pair of Capri pants. She looked at the bowling alley and touched the shell of her ear before making her way to the door and entering as if she was a soldier entering enemy territory.

Over the past week, she had been very aware of the Bowled Over! campaign event. Her conscious mind told her that the interest was due to a lack of any kind of sports in her life. She hadn’t golfed since high school, and bowling was a good low-stress activity. But as the day neared, she let herself accept her true motives were more personal. She was only interested because it was a Patricia Hood-Colby campaign event, and maybe her campaign manager would be around.

Two weeks ago on Easter, she’d met Leah Kincaid at the Easter Egg Hunt. If she was honest with herself, Leah hadn’t left her mind since. She was young… God, she was young. Jaime was thirty-eight and the divorced mother of a first grader. Leah was in her twenties, fresh out of college, and almost too young to even fantasize about.

But Jaime had fantasized. And the urge to continue their all-too-brief conversation made her finally decide to show up. If anyone asked, she could claim she was supporting the candidate or just getting in a few frames of bowling. No one would deny her a relaxing night out. She stood at the door for a long moment, getting an idea of the crowd before she became part of it. A lot of younger people, but not a predominantly youthful group. She was glad to see that.

A high school girl wearing a vest covered with “Hood-Colby 2012” buttons approached her. “Hi! Would you like a button to show your support for Patricia?”

“Uh, how much?”

“They’re free, but we do take donations.”

Jaime handed over five dollars in exchange for one of the buttons. She craned her neck down, carefully trying to affix the button to her blouse without drawing blood. When she looked up, Leah seemed to have materialized out of the crowd a few feet away from her. Leah smiled, and Jaime said, “Oh!” and Leah moved to stand closer to her.

“Hi. I thought I recognized you. Um, Jaime, right?”

“Yes. And you’re Leah. We met at the Egg Hunt, yes?”

Leah nodded. “Good memory.”

“Me? Considering the amount of people you’ve probably talked to, I’m shocked you remembered meeting me, let alone my name.”

“Well, it’s a small town. And you were memorable.”

Jaime blushed. “I don’t know what’s so memorable about me.”

“You don’t?” Leah said.

Jaime’s blush deepened and she hid it by scanning the lanes. “Looks like a full house. I might not get to bowl tonight after all… not that I had much chance, being by myself.”

Leah shrugged. “I’ve been ordered by my client to relax. So if you want, I’ll wait and bowl with you if a lane opens up.”

“That-that… sounds… lovely. Yes.”

Leah pointed toward the snack counter and then put her hand lightly on Jaime’s arm to guide her over. “So I think I hear a touch of Brit in your voice.”

“Damn. I tried so hard to get rid of it. It really only comes out when I’m nervous.”

“What are you nervous about?”

Jaime ignored the pressure of Leah’s hand just above her elbow. “Oh, you know. Social gatherings in towns where I barely know anyone.”

“Well, you know me. And I’m great with people. So you can just hide behind me if anyone bothers you.”

“You’ll have my undying gratitude. Thank you.”

They found an empty booth and slid into it, facing each other.

Leah said, “Just so you know, this doesn’t count as dinner.” Jaime frowned at her, confused. “You know, when we met at the Egg Hunt, you mentioned a tour or dinner. I offered, but we never managed to make arrangements. I kicked myself for not giving you my number when I had the chance.”

“Ah, another benefit of living in a small town. We were bound to run into each other eventually.” Leah smiled and they ordered two slices of pepperoni pizza. Jaime groaned. “Oh, my daughter would be livid if she knew I was having pizza for dinner.”

“Where is she?”

“She’s at my friend Samantha’s house. The friend who suggested I look for a place here on the island when I decided to move, in fact. I watch her daughter Jessica, and she watches Pamela, and that way we both get a night out from time to time. Sometimes we leave them with her husband and have a girls’ night out.”

Leah chuckled. “Sounds like a nice arrangement. I’m glad you were able to get away tonight. I was kind of dreading the idea of trying to have fun in this crowd. I’ve spent the last month trying to convince them to vote for Patricia. I feel like a car salesman.”

“Well, you seem calm enough around me.”

“You’re different. I’m not trying to get your vote.”

Jaime shrugged and thumbed the button. “You have it anyway. I don’t like that other fellow. Swoops in and tries to win on the fact he’s a dynasty.”

“Ugh. ‘Nasty’ being the root word. The Dugans held onto that seat with a death grip. Patricia’s one of the first people to challenge them in a long, long time. If she fails, it’ll just help the Dugans hold on a little bit tighter next time. Not that I needed the added pressure.”

Jaime put her hand on top of Leah’s. “You’re doing wonderfully. From what I hear, this election is ‘Hood-Colby versus That Other Guy.’ And the voters? You have the people who will vote for your candidate because they like her, and those who will vote just because she’s not a Dugan. I may be new, but I listen. People are ready for a change.”

“Thank you. I’m not sure that’s the best way to win, but–”

Jaime scoffed. “It’s politics. There’s no good way to win, really. You can only hope to run a clean campaign.”

Leah looked out over the crowd. “Yeah. I wouldn’t even let Patricia pay for the games of people who showed up. It would look too much like buying their vote.”

“Good call.” She sipped her drink as their food arrived. “I was over here in 2008 for the presidential election. It was my first taste of American politics. It was so much nastier than I expected. This campaign of yours has been a breath of fresh air.”

“Thank you again.” Leah bumped Jaime’s foot with her own. “I’m really glad I ran into you. You’re really helping take the edge off.”

“I’m happy to help.”

They were silent for a while, and Leah tilted her head toward the lanes. She smiled and said, “I love this song. My parents wouldn’t let me listen to it because it was supposed to be full of filthy innuendo.”

I Would Do Anything For Love?” Jaime said.

“‘But I won’t do that.’ My parents thought that, because he never clarified what he wouldn’t do, it was something sexual or filthy.”

Jaime smiled. “He clarifies it in every verse. It’s different in every verse, but in each instant he makes it quite clear what he’s referring to.”

Leah blinked. “No, he doesn’t. He never says what ‘that’ is.”

“He does indeed. Quite plainly, in fact.”

Leah held her hand out over the table. “Bet. Loser buys dinner. A real dinner, and not bowling alley pizza.”

“Deal.” They shook, and Jaime pointed at the ceiling. “Listen closely. He’ll be there until the final act, he would take the vow and seal the pact. But he’ll never forgive himself if they don’t go all the way tonight. Never forgiving himself… that’s what he won’t do in that verse. He lists the things he’ll do, and then one that he won’t.”

Leah leaned back in the booth as the song continued. “I can’t believe it. I’ve been listening to this song since I was a teenager.”

Jaime tapped her fingers in the air as the music continued, smiling victoriously. “He’ll never do it better than he does it with her. That’s what he won’t do in that instance…”

“You’re right. I can’t believe I never heard it before.”

“Ah!” Jaime held up her finger as the female vocalist sang her part.

Leah nodded and sang along with the pertinent line: “Sooner or later, you’ll be screwing around.”

Jaime sang, “I won’t do that. No, I won’t do that.”

Leah laughed. “Unbelievable. It’s like that whole song has new meaning to me now.”

“Now every time you hear that song, you’ll remember of the dinner you had to buy me.”

“That’s not so bad… thinking of you every time I hear it.”

Jaime’s smile wavered as Leah’s foot, now free of the shoe, slid over the side of her own foot. It traveled up her sneaker and teased the ankle, and Jaime cleared her throat. “Um.”

“Stop?”

“No. Not-not necessarily.” She drank a lot of her water, looked around to see if anyone was watching, and used the toe of one shoe to push off the other. She pressed her bare sole against the side of Leah’s foot, and Leah smiled as she returned the pressure. “Well. I haven’t done this in ages.”

Leah chuckled. “It’s been a while for me, too.”

“Since you were an infant.”

“High school.” Leah lifted a shoulder. “It’s been long enough.”

Leah’s foot, in a stocking, slipped across Jaime’s plain white sock. Jaime closed her eyes and twisted her ankle to pin Leah’s foot to the floor. She curled her toes and stroked the slope of her foot. Jaime allowed herself to enjoy the impromptu game of footsie and then sighed at herself and lowered her head. She withdrew her foot, covering it with her other shoe.

“God, what am I doing.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No, it’s not you. It’s… me.” She sighed and looked out over the lanes. She could feel the tears building behind her eyes but refused to shed them. “I would love to take you up on your offer of dinner, on your offer of…” She gestured under the table. “But I’m a mother. I get the occasional night off every week, and I spend most of that time grocery shopping or sleeping. My daughter is my life, Ms. Kincaid, and I can’t ask you to accept that. You deserve more out of a relationship that someone who puts a cavalcade of responsibilities ahead of you. You deserve someone who appreciates what they have in you.”

Leah picked at her pizza. “Yeah, well, they’re not out there.”

“You’re exaggerating.”

“I’m not. You said you have your daughter? Well, I have…” She gestured around herself at the bowling alley. “My first thought every morning is what I can do for Patricia. The thing that keeps me up when I go to bed is how I can help Patricia. I am a mayoral campaign winning machine. I can’t afford to be selfish. I can’t afford to take the night off to have a nice dinner with someone, no matter how much I might want to.”

They sat in silence, both of them feeling despondent.

“This is very nice, though,” Leah finally said.

Jaime smiled sadly. “Yes. It’s tremendously nice.” She moved her foot forward and rested it against Leah’s ankle. She bit her bottom lip and, after a moment, slid it up the inside of her calf. She scooted forward, and Leah moved her knees apart ever so slightly. “Of course… not everything has to be a commitment…”

Leah raised an eyebrow. “What are you suggesting?”

 

 

Jaime’s car rocked steadily. To people accustomed to seeing the boats in the harbor following the sway of the waves, it hardly looked out of place. She had moved it to the far end of the parking lot, away from casual witnesses who might notice the windows becoming foggier. Leah was underneath Jaime in the back seat, one foot on the floor while the other pressed flat against the door. Her toes curled as she pushed her hands underneath Jaime’s blouse.

Jaime fit comfortably between Leah’s legs; Leah’s skirt had been pushed up around her waist from the moment she scrambled backward into the car and pulled Jaime to her for their first kiss. Jaime’s blouse hung open, mostly unbuttoned, and Leah saw flashes of her lacy black bra and porcelain stomach and breasts. Jaime had gotten her own shirt pushed up, her stomach bare and exposed to Jaime’s roaming hands.

They bumped elbows against the front and back seats, and more than once Jaime had bumped her head on the ceiling after sitting up too fast. Leah cried out when her head impacted the door handle, and Jaime pulled her forward to kiss the injury. Leah took advantage of the position to kiss and lick Jaime’s décolletage, sliding her lips up to her neck to nibble on her ear.

“You okay?” Jaime gasped.

“Uh-huh.” Leah kissed her lips and moaned as Jaime’s hands slid down her body to the front of her skirt. She pulled it up, twisted her wrist around, and flattened her palm against the crotch of Leah’s underwear. Leah gave a strangled sound of approval, nodded, and closed her eyes as Jaime pressed against her with all four fingers. Jaime’s hair was loose, hanging on either side of her face, and Leah pushed it back behind her ears. Jaime met her eyes and smiled, and began moving her hand in a circle.

“Oh… God…” Leah closed her eyes and rolled her head back, hitting the window again. “Son of a–”

“You’ve got to stop doing that,” Jaime whispered.

Leah ran the back of her hand over Jaime’s stomach, down to her slacks. She trembled as she undid the button of her slacks. She exhaled, wet her lips, and put her hand inside. She gasped in surprise and victory, her arm and Jaime’s awkwardly pinned between their bodies, and Jaime bent down to kiss her again as they worked to form a matching rhythm.

Leah came first, burrowing against the hollow between Jaime’s shoulder and the curve of her breast. She closed her eyes, crossing her fingers against Jaime’s underwear and then pushing them aside. Jaime groaned as Leah’s fingers slid across her sex, and she bit her lip as they pushed inside. Jaime lifted her head, eyes closed, and began whispering Leah’s name.

“Don’t stop… oh, yes, darling… God…” She cupped the back of Leah’s head, holding it against her chest as she climaxed, her thighs closing tight around Leah’s hand.

When they were finally able to disentangle, they sat next to each other in the middle of the backseat to rearrange their clothing. Jaime leaned into the front seat, twisted the key to start the engine, and cracked all the windows to clear the air and evaporate the fog. Leah took the opportunity to admire the curve of Jaime’s ass and smiled when she sat back down.

“So. That wasn’t a commitment.”

“Not at all.” Jaime gathered her hair with both hands and tied it into a ponytail. “The way I see it, we’re just two very busy women who are using an advantageous overlap in our personal schedules to take care of a biological need for… another’s touch.” She spread her legs to press her thigh against Leah’s. Leah returned the pressure. “We’ve made no promises to each other, and that way we won’t feel badly if it’s a week or more before we can be together again.”

“Right. But… we’ll be together again.”

“Yes.” A pause. “Please.”

Leah put her hand on Jaime’s neck and leaned in to kiss her. They held the kiss for a long time, getting used to the feel of the other woman’s lips and tongue. When they pulled back, Leah cleared her throat.

“Your accent is back. How hard did you work to lose it?”

“Very.”

“I wouldn’t mind if you gave up. I like it.”

Jaime smiled. “I might be willing to let it slip now and again, when we’re together.”

“But it’s not a commitment.”

“Of course not.”

“Just two friends who get together, sometimes spend the night–”

Jaime sighed. “Ah, that would be quite lovely. And yes. Just two friends who help each other out. Stress relief from our very demanding lives.”

Leah rested her forehead against Jaime’s. “And when the campaign is over? And when Pamela has after-school activities and field trips…?”

“There will still be stress. And there will always be a need for release.”

“Uh-huh.” Leah licked her lips. “Well. This time I’m definitely going to give you my number. Just give me a call whenever you need a little relief.”

Jaime blinked the moisture out of her eyes. “But it’s not a commitment.”

“Perish forbid,” Leah said in a fake British accent.

Jaime laughed and pulled Leah to her, stretching out across the backseat with Leah on top of her. After all, the bowling alley was still full and Samantha had agreed to watch Pamela until ten. They could relieve their stress two or three more times by then.

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