Ronnie (or "Veronica" as Mrs. B always insisted on calling her) is all grown up with a family of her own, and the Christmas she babysat for the Baumgartners is just a pinpoint in her memory. That is, until a persistent suggestion of a threesome by her husband, T.J., brings it all flooding back. When she reveals how the Baumgartners and the nanny, Gretchen, had seduced her during her time in Key West, her husband takes it upon himself to make some phone calls. Opportunity, or perhaps fate, presents itself, and Ronnie and her husband get an invitation to join Gretchen and the Baumgartners on their vacation. Ronnie finds herself torn, once again, between what she wants and what someone else wants for her -- or are they, after all, one in the same?
"Ms. Kitt has written a highly erotic novel that involves lots and lots of hot steamy sex. All of the scenes were well written and challenged the standards most of us live by. Just how important is sex in life and in love? …the answer isn’t the same for everyone. Something Ms. Kitt demonstrates very well in this work."
"So nice to meet you!" Gretchen's smile was for TJ, but her look was just for me, and I knew it. She took a step toward the stairs, meeting my gaze with hungry eyes. I couldn't help my smile, even though it felt goofy on my face as I came the rest of the way down.
"Gretchen!" Her name felt familiar in my mouth, even after all this time. "You cut your hair!"
She laughed, snaking an arm around my neck and pressing her cheek to mine. "All of them -- probably several hundred times since you last saw me, sweetie."
It was a very brief thing, that hug, but I could smell her hair, still white-blonde but cut into a short bob now, making her thin, pale face look fuller. She smelled fresh and sweet, like clover and oranges. How old was she now? I was doing the math in my head and came to the sum of thirty-four. Five years older than I was. There were the faintest lines around her eyes when she smiled, but she was still Gretchen.
"Come on in out of the cold." TJ shut the front door against the wind and snow, offering to take Gretchen's coat. Her dress was short, shimmering black in the lamp light as she shrugged her shoulders and let her coat slide off into TJ's hands. I knew she'd dressed for me, just like I'd dressed for her -- and I think she knew it, too, the way her eyes moved over my blouse, unbuttoned into a suggestive V. She still had much more than I did in that department, the black fabric gathered between her breasts showing quite a bit of cleavage. I noticed TJ noticing as he poured wine and we sat around the kitchen table.
"Oh my god, Ronnie, you look so amazing." Gretchen smiled a thank you as TJ handed her a glass of wine. "I don't think you've changed at all."
"You haven't seen my stretch marks." I laughed, wrinkling my nose when TJ handed me a glass and setting it aside. "You look the same too -- except all your hair is gone!"
"I got too old to get away with it anymore." She winked, taking a sip and turning appreciative eyes to TJ. "Mmm, this is good!"
"It's a petite syrah," TJ said with a nod.
Gretchen raised her eyebrows at him and lifted her little snub nose into the air in a delicate sniff. "And something smells fantastic." Her eyes were the same bright green, just as mischievous and not likely to miss a thing. Every time she looked my way, I felt it, like a familiar ache.
I took a long drink of wine and grimaced. "TJ's famous spaghetti -- secret recipe, straight from his grandmother in Sicily."
"I'm so glad you called." Gretchen sat up and reached over to touch TJ's hand. It was brief, just a squeeze, but I noticed her long, manicured nails, painted bright red, an uncharacteristic color for her, and it reminded me sharply of Mrs. B. She turned her gaze to me again, and there it was, that feeling like someone had just reached their hand into my belly and twisted. "I've thought about you so often."
I held my empty glass out to TJ, who poured with a raised eyebrow. "I've thought about you, too."
It wasn't a lie. When I'd first ended things with Gretchen, I thought about her all the time, and I knew it would drive me insane if it didn't stop, so I did what I needed to do. Vince, the guy I was dating at the time was a personal trainer -- gorgeous, ripped, he had a brilliantly rational mind but was more than a little OCD and he taught me how to get rid of Gretchen for good. I'd put a rubber band around my wrist, and every time my thoughts turned to her, I snapped it -- hard. Really, really hard. Sounds silly, but it worked. Between that and the incredibly huge eleven inch cock Vince presented me with to handle at every possible occasion -- I've never had bigger, before or since -- it was enough of a distraction to get me through. But the truth was, while it worked to keep me distracted, it didn't work all the time. No, not all the time.
Both of TJ's eyebrows were raised at me now and I tried to change the subject. "So, how are the Baumgartners? What's everyone up to?"
"Oh Ronnie, you wouldn't believe how big the kids are!" Gretchen smiled, shaking her head. I nodded, remembering them frozen in time: Janie as a gawky almost-twelve and Henry as a typical nine year old boy. Mrs. B had sent me a Christmas card that first year after Gretchen and I broke up, but then I moved, and the mail only got forwarded for so long. I still had that last photo tucked away in a box full of old diaries and journals marked: "Ronnie's Private: Keep Out." I remembered Janie's big front teeth and honey-colored ponytail, Henry's lopsided smile. Gretchen was still talking "Janie's just gorgeous, she's got boys following her around like puppies. And Henry's huge, like his dad. You'll see -- you're coming to Key West with us, aren't you? Carrie said she invited you..."
TJ and I both said "Probably," and "I don't know" simultaneously. Gretchen sipped her wine and looked between us, her eyes sharp.
I held my glass out for more wine. "I still can't think of her as Carrie. To me, she'll always be Mrs. B."
TJ poured me half a glass and then got up to check the sauce. I watched him stirring it, feeling warm and flushed and buzzed from way too much wine for me in too short a time. I noticed Gretchen watching him, too, and felt a twinge of something -- jealousy?
"So how are Mr. and Mrs. B?" I asked Gretchen as TJ came to the table with a bowl full of spaghetti.
"Doc's practice is going gangbusters, as always." Gretchen held her plate out as TJ started to serve dinner. "With that bedside manner, though, go figure, right?" She winked at me and I smiled, remembering Doc's easy-going teasing, but mostly I remembered his eyes and the way they would follow me around a room wherever I went, as if he could see right through me. It suddenly occurred to me, as TJ sat down, that he and Doc shared a great deal in common when it came to looks and temperament. Funny how I'd never thought of it before.
"Carrie's real estate business hasn't done as well recently," Gretchen sighed. "The market is so bad right now. It's one of the reasons... well... things are changing for the Baumgartners. And me, too. Kids don't stay kids -- can't be a nanny forever."
I nodded, feeling TJ's knees touch mine under the table as he sat and I gave him a smile. "Still, Gretch, you've been with them a long time."
"I couldn't turn down the money they offered, Ronnie." She shrugged, twirling noodles on her plate. "And, you know... all the fringe benefits."
That hung there, and I wondered if TJ understood as well as I did what she meant. It wasn't just the trips to Key West and Aspen and the New England Sound. There was so much more to working for Mr. and Mrs. B...
TJ cleared his throat, his eyes moving between us. "So why did you two break up?"
"TJ!" I nudged him under the table, my eyes wide.
"I'm curious..." He shrugged. "Are we not supposed to talk about it?"
"I don't mind." Gretchen smiled, but her eyes were pained, and I looked down at my plate, spearing a mushroom. "Ronnie found a boyfriend."
"The guy I dated before I met you," I explained, wondering if Vince even remembered my name anymore.
"You know how we girls have a tendency to abandon our girlfriends when a guy shows up," Gretchen teased. I wanted to say something, but the wine made my head feel fuzzy, as if it were too full.
"What about you, Gretchen?" TJ asked. "Did you find a girlfriend?"
"Or a boyfriend?" I chimed in, feeling desperate.
"Oh several." Gretchen winked at TJ but the look she gave me was full of a meaning I didn't understand. "Nothing lasting, though. I could afford to be picky, living with the Baumgartners."
I tried to imagine what it might have been like, if Gretchen and I had never broken up. Would she have stayed their nanny, then, I wondered? Would we all have been one big, happy family? The thought filled me with a mixture of longing, regret, and a deeper feeling I didn't even recognize at first -- it was anger.
"This is the best spaghetti I've ever tasted." Gretchen's compliment made TJ blush and I smiled.
"He's a much better cook than I am."
"Like Doc?" Gretchen winked.
"Better." I touched my knee to TJ's under the table and he looked up at me, his eyes tender. "Although I admit, Doc could make a hell of a sandwich."
"Mmm god yes." Gretchen's tone changed and she gave a low, throaty moan that reminded me immediately what it was like between us. Her eyes met mine and they said it all. "He still can."
The double entendre didn't escape any of us. I couldn't help but remember -- not only the night Doc and I snuck downstairs to make sandwiches and, while Mrs. B slept upstairs, he fucked me on the kitchen counter, but also there was the clear memory of being sandwiched between Doc and Mrs. B in more positions than I had ever imagined.
Gretchen's hand found my knee under the table and squeezed. She leaned forward, eager, earnest. "You are coming aren't you?"
I shrugged, not looking up. "I don't know, Gretch..."
"Oh, Ronnie, you have to come," she pleaded with both voice and eyes. "This is the last summer we're all going together. Henry's graduating this year, and I'm... well... things are changing. It would be so good, like old times..."