ARMAND PART III FEB 2018
Armand lifted Sam, carried her to his bedroom and placed her carefully on the king-sized bed.
“Johnson! We have to get up and run in the morning before you pick up your kids. Let’s get some sleep.” She thought that unlikely in his amorous mood, but she smiled when he wrapped his arm over her and began to snore.
Still, it was she who was curious now. She peeled off her panties and tank top and straddled his torso silently. She tugged his white T-shirt up and found his wide chest covered in curly black hair, and allowed her fingers to follow the stripe down to his taut waist, his massive thighs, and his butt that was hard as iron.
Armand was clearly uncomfortable when she touched her lips to his hard penis. But he didn’t stop her either. He was laughing and giggling joyfully when she brought him to climax. Armand slept soundly while Samantha mused. Why was she not surprised? This man hadn’t been indulged in this manner by a wife or a lover. Was it a religious denial? Somalia is mainly Muslim. She knew that pre-marital sex was forbidden, and adultery was clearly punishable. Is Armand actually divorced? Could this be the reaction of a guilty man I’m making love to? Also, unsettling that he had not attempted to give her the pleasure she wanted desperately.
Saturday morning Sam awoke to fresh coffee and an energetic swat on her butt.
“Get up Johnson…time to run.”
She turned over and stretched her naked body. Armand watched. She could see clearly the bulge growing in his shorts and so spread her legs luxuriously nurturing an ache in her loins. She was longing for what she didn’t get last night, but she wanted it to be his idea, and she turned over, stretching on her tummy and pushed herself up on her knees.
“OK, I’m getting up,” she yawned.
She had worried he was invulnerable to her sensuality, and excited because she now thought maybe she could make him do things he wouldn’t normally do. She felt powerful and determined to bring out the beast in him.
Sam jumped up. Their run was good. She kept up with him for a couple miles but then turned back knowing he would catch up to her on his way back. He stopped and carried her on his back the last half mile just as before.
They said their goodbyes, and she was off to pick up her children.
Sunday was a special day for her children because they were going to Armand’s for a picnic on the boat. Sam tried to give them as many new experiences as she could. She wanted them to see life as a new adventure and meet her friends. It was noon when they arrived at the Island house.
Armand showed Amy and Chad his grand saltwater fish tank in the living room.
Chad was excited.
Armand smiled, “These are new fish.”
“What are their names?” Chad asked.
“How about you name one yourself?”
“Okay, I like the shark.” pleaded Chad.
“What’s his name?” Armand asked.
“Sharky,” Chad smiled.
They strolled down the grassy lawn with their picnic to the pier where Armand’s boat waited. Armand rowed them all around the lake, under the bridges, and back to the dock again. Amy was thrilled when Armand carried her on his shoulders back up to the house. Armand laughed constantly and seemed to have as much energy and as much fun as the kids. At dusk, Samantha delivered Amy and Chad to their father’s house and drove to her apartment.
She heard from Armand every day during her work week. On Thursday he called to make sure she was coming up to the canyon house on Friday after work.
“It’s our night, Our celebration,” he said.
Samantha knew to bring an overnight bag and her running gear. Three weeks in a row, when she arrived at the Santa Paula house, the garage door was always open, and when she pulled in, Armand would burst out the kitchen door to lift her in welcome. He’d re-enact the night they met at the Disco. The music, the wine, the prepping of dinner…all for her. Armand assured her he would be there for her every Friday.
“Our Friday,” he said.
Armand hadn’t said the words I love you, but Samantha felt loved, and that was what mattered.
By the end of the third month they had a regular schedule and so he didn’t have to call her at all to remind her, but they spoke on the phone often. Sam knew they had a standing date every Friday night up at the canyon house. And on every other Sunday, they entertained her children in some unique and creative way at Westlake island house. She understood it to be a big leap for him and admired him for that. She had still not met his seven-year-old daughter or his toddler son.
One Friday in September, after work Sam drove up to the canyon house. A car was in the driveway she didn’t recognize. She saw Armand’s Porsche in the open garage so cautiously she parked in the driveway next to the unknown car and went up to the kitchen door as usual. Normally she didn’t need to knock, because he expected her, and always opened it exuberantly, but tonight she knocked, and Armand didn’t answer. She listened in case he was in the back of the house. But a moment later she heard Armand conversing with a woman. She recognized Armand’s laugh, so knew he was there.
Should I just walk in? No. She thought not. But tried knocking again with no answer. An ominous feeling came over her. She backed away and turned back when the door opened. Armand stuck his head out. He giggled and acted as if he was surprised to see her.
“Johnson, what are you doing here?” he said. Samantha heard music drifting from the living room and the scent of food cooking.
“It’s Friday night, Armand!”
“Oh, I’m sorry I’m busy,” as though she were a solicitor.
She turned dumbly holding back tears.
He didn’t bother to call her. Three days went by, and on the fourth, she answered a call. “Johnson!” he exclaimed into her ear as if nothing had happened out of the ordinary.
“I can’t talk to you,” she said.
“What? Why can’t you?”
“You were unkind to me, you treated me like a stranger!”
He just laughed. He laughed as though it were a joke. When he didn’t try to apologize or give her any kind of explanation, she held her dignity.
“It wasn’t a joke to me, Armand. It was cruel,” and she hung up the phone.
Samantha gave this a great deal of thought. She decided if he had given her a rational explanation she would have listened. But Sam decided she’d handled enough grief in her life and felt strong and unwilling to allow Armand to abuse her. She was going to take care of herself, and not be vulnerable to him or anyone else to treat her with disrespect again.
She suffered her own loss, but it was the children who would have a difficult time understanding. Their lives had changed for the better knowing Armand. Damn him!
Armand called Samantha out of the blue one evening. She listened to him say, “I’m sorry for whatever you think I did.”
“What exactly do you think you’ve done?”
“I didn’t think I owed you an explanation.”
“Don’t call me again,” she said. And meant it.
As far as Samantha was concerned it was over. They hadn’t been together long enough to make any kind of commitment. He hadn’t told me he loved me even though it felt like he did. It seemed to her that everything they did together was about love. She must have been mistaken, and she was glad it wasn’t too late for her to walk away. Sam felt resigned to her decision.
If not for myself, for my children’s sake. There was something else that bothered her. She had never met Armand’s children. He was very guarded about that. She thought she should be more guarded as well.
Weeks flew by, and she had recovered, feeling good about her decision. She was fine.
But Samantha was at in the cosmetics counter speaking to a customer when she watched a delivery person coming toward her with a huge bouquet of red roses.
“Oh no,” she thought. When her customer left all the women in the department came over, curious about her delivery. She read the card,
“I miss my spot, signed A.M.”
Her friend Linda was all over those roses, smelling them and gushing. When Sam went back to her counter she picked up the vase and walked them over to Linda’s counter.
“These are for you.”
Linda crowed, “Oh, Samantha, Thank you!”
Linda was the only person at work who knew about Armand.
Linda received a dozen roses from Sam once a week on Fridays, for a month! It made Sam angry that he kept reminding her of their Friday night dates. But the roses only served to resign her to her hardened decision. They only made her think about knocking on his door that night and being humiliated. She still wondered who the woman was. Could it have been his wife? Of course not. If so, all he had to say is his wife had business with him and dropped by unexpectedly, or there was an emergency with the children. Anything that was reasonable, she would have accepted. But it could also have been a girl he had picked up at the club for all she knew.
It didn’t matter though. It was how he treated her that mattered.
Armand had plenty of money to burn so he could afford to send Samantha roses for years. She wasn’t impressed.
Samantha and Caroline avoided the Daisy club. They started going to another dance venue in Woodland Hills. It was a closer drive and Sam refused to give up dancing. She opened herself to a new adventure. A friend of Samantha’s who worked in the hair salon in the mall loved to dance. Paul sometimes met them at the club in Woodland Hills. He was a rocker, a guitarist, not a disco guy at all. But Sam liked him as a friend and the three of them had fun on the dance floor. Paul drove Samantha to the club sometimes and hung out watching them dance. One night when he was dropping Sam at her apartment, she noticed a Porsche 911 cruising up alongside them. It was Armand.
He put down his window and said “Johnson, who was that man?”
She looked at him sideways, “a friend” and kept walking.
A couple weeks later with the usual rose delivery, Sam received a handwritten note, with a large envelope attached.
It read, “Please open the envelope.”
She was hesitant, why open it? Why doesn’t he leave me alone?
Linda ran over, “You have to at least read it!”
Samantha, tears streaming down her face, turned away and ran with the open envelope in hand.
“What is it”, Linda begged.
“Maui,” she wept. “A ticket.”
Linda took the card and read aloud, “For your birthday, Johnson.” Signed A.M.”
That evening, a Friday evening, Samantha found a package on her windshield. It was a cassette tape with a note that read “Miss You,”A.M., and the lyrics of a song written in the card.
I’ve been holding out so long
I’ve been sleeping all alone
Lord I miss you
I’ve been hanging on the phone
I’ve been sleeping all alone
I want to kiss you
Sam slid the cassette into her tape player as she drove home listening to Mick Jagger screaming at her,”MISS YOU!”
The energy and the urgency of it reached Samantha’s heart, tears streaming down her face.
Armand had left a message on her answering device.
“Johnson! Did you receive your birthday gift? Will you talk to me, please? The house in the canyon sold. Please drive by the island house, I have another gift for you.”
She shook her head, and swore, “No, no, no, no, no! Someone, please help me!”
The next time the phone rang Samantha gave in and picked up. It was Armand of course.
“Armand please stop.”
“Alright Johnson, I promise I won’t bother you anymore if you drive by and pick up the rest of your gift. You don’t even have to get out of your car. Just let me hand it to you.”
“If I leave now I’ll be there in five minutes…be outside!” She said.
Sam was thinking, he is a sly one, plying me with gifts! I’m weak, sadly.
She nearly turned around twice, just to stand him up. It was broad daylight and her day off. As she drove her car through the gate onto the island she had an ominous thought. But she plowed on, weak woman that she was. She pulled up to the curb in front of his house. He was standing out there in his jogging shorts, a huge grin on his face.
She rolled down her window, “OK…what is it?”
He handed her a box from a jewelry store. It wasn’t a ring box, thank God. She pried it open. There lay a magnificent 18k gold heart on a gold chain. Is this his way of saying I love you? Then he handed her an envelope that held the matching ticket to Maui.
“C’mon Johnson, let’s go. It will be fun.”
“I’ll get back to you.”
She rolled up the window and drove home.
Samantha conferred with Caroline and Linda. They both thought she should go!
“This feels vaguely like treason, how can I go with him when I feel like nothing has been resolved?”
“If I were you I’d go talk to him and resolve it. Maybe he just doesn’t know how to say I’m sorry in so many words. He wouldn’t keep pursuing you if he didn’t care about you.”
Sam guessed she was right, but something felt wrong about it. She wouldn’t know what that was for a while yet. But decided to think about it anyway.
The following Friday night after work she met him at the island house. He was thrilled to see her walk through his door. He was full of energy and good cheer.
“Johnson, I missed you!”
Sam remained cautious. He strolled into the kitchen and opened a bottle of chardonnay. It was the night of her actual birthday. He promised to take her out to a proper restaurant to celebrate.
“Thank you,” she said.
“I’m making reservations at the Palm in West Hollywood for tomorrow night.”
“That’s nice,” she said without excitement.
He frowned. I know, “We could dance at the club after. We haven’t danced in months!”
He didn’t try to kiss or touch her. He was simply satisfied with her presence.
“I’m tired, need to go home.”
He let her go with a peck on the cheek.
Saturday evening he picked her up at her apartment like a real date. She was sad and regretted all the evenings she had come to him without thinking. Her head had been in the stars, the fireplace, the music, and his abundance of energy. Sam wore a little black strappy dress with a pair of patent high heels. Her red hair was loose, falling down her bare back. She felt very grown-up for a change, in charge of her life. Armand sat across from her at a table near the palm trees, it felt like an omen of a possible trip to Maui. Armand ordered a vintage red wine in honor of her birthday. He held up his glass and toasted, “To that spot that belongs to me.”
Don’t take it for granted, she thought.
Then he declared defiantly, “I love you, Johnson!”
Samantha placed her hand over the gold heart around her neck. But she didn’t answer.
He was all full of childish charm and laughter all night long, acting as if he had crossed a threshold of personal release. After dinner they arrived at the Daisy for the first time since they met and danced together in a whirlwind of passion, gaining applause from the crowd. He truly was a magnificent male, dancing in his couture cut trousers and jacket.
They hadn’t been together sexually for several weeks, and Samantha found the scent of his body exhilarating, needing his body for more than just dancing. When he twirled her she knew her long legs showed all the way to her hips. She recalled how he slid his hand up the back of her thigh the night they met. When they did rest, she took his hand and placed it on her thigh under the table.
to be continued…
Armand Part IV