As Val explained her work and had Sharon sign the work order, I noticed that Sharon was acting more restrained than before. It looked like she was already trying to change the image Val had of her. Again, Val didn't seem to notice.
When I closed my door, Val looked over at me with a smirk on her face. “So, did ya get 'lucky'?” she asked. I smiled back at her and said, “A gentleman never tells.” “Yeah,” she said as she backed out of the driveway, “I don't know all that many gentlemen in this line of work.”
We sat in silence for a few minutes as we drove through the suburban streets, keeping an eye out for loose dogs and kids just out of school. “You know,” Val finally said, “I did notice a change in Ms. Clark's demeanor at the end of the visit. She seemed... I don't know... She seemed more relaxed. I'm guessing you two did it.”
I sighed, concerned over what the next few minutes would bring. “I hate to burst your bubble, Val,” I started.
“Don't tell me you turned her down?” she exclaimed. “You had a perfect chance to get some prime 'bored divorcee' tail and you threw it away?”
“I couldn't Val. I would have felt like I was raping her.”
“Rape?” she questioned. “With the way she was throwing herself at you, how could you call it...”
“She wasn't throwing herself at me.”
“Then who was she throwing herself at? The only other one there was...” Val realized what I was implying. “Are you trying to tell me she has the hots for me?”
“That is correct,” I confirmed. “Sharon has, at the least, a major crush on you.”
Val slammed on the brakes in the middle of the street. “Don't tell me you...” she yelled at me.
I covered my eyes with one hand as I fished a small envelope out of my pocket with the other. “I'm sorry, Val...” I started.
“You're gonna be, you bastard,” she growled.
“...but the only thing I did was to promise Sharon I'd offer you this,” I continued, holding out the envelope.
Val pulled over to the curb and put the truck in “PARK.” “I'm sorry for that just now, Dave,” she said. “I'm just so... so...” She sat there, at a loss for words.
“I warned her that you might not even accept the note,” I said, embarrassed to have even brought it up by now, “but she just wants you to know how she feels. I think that I've gotten her to stop the nuisance calls, too.”
“What do you mean?” Val asked, puzzled.
“The only reason she called so much was to try and see you again,” I said.
“Again? What do you mean by...” Val stopped. “Oh, that's right. I did her initial install about six months ago. You mean she was doing that only so she could see me again?”
“That's what she told me,” I confirmed.
“But if she's...” Val stopped and thought for a minute. “If she wanted me, why did she sleep with all those male techs?”
“I'm not sure but I have my suspicions,” I explained. “I'm pretty sure she's submissive, and I have a suspicion that someone abused that and turned her into a doormat. When she came to the door trying to catch your eye, the guys probably thought she was throwing herself at them.”
“Then she's either confused, desperate or psychotic,” Val observed. “I don't know if I want to jump into that mess again.”
“Well, all I promised her is that I would offer the note to you,” I said. “She understands that nothing may come of it. If you don't want it, I guess I'll drop the note in the shred box at the office.”
“I'll take it,” Val said. “As I remember, the first time I saw her I kinda hoped she might be gay. I guess I'm being judgmental by being so harsh on her.” She took the envelope from me and put it in her shirt pocket.
Putting the van in drive, Val pulled back onto the road. “This morning I asked if you like good coffee. I think I need to make it up to you.”
“Just as long as it's not that 'gourmet coffee' crap. I hate that over priced, over done and over hyped drek.”
“I know just the place,” Val said. A smile was reappearing on her lips. “I guess you just can't help it,” she commented.
“Help what?” I asked.
“Fixing things... taking care of people,” she replied. We stopped at a red light, so Val looked at me. “Are you sure you're a Dom?” she asked.
“If you would spend an hour with me and my toy bag, I think I could convince you,” I said, smiling. “But I also remember someone once saying, “If you want to be the leader of all, first be the servant of all... or something like that.”
Val laughed at that. “I never thought of it that way,” she admitted as the light turned green.
It turned out Val took me to a little out of the way diner. It's one of those places you either have to be told about or have someone take you there to know where it is. When we walked in, there were a couple of older men sitting at one end of the counter, drinking coffee. The waitress smiled when we walked in and said “Hi Val! You're early today. I guess you had a good day?”
“Thanks to my partner for the day!” Val replied, beaming. “Jo, this is Dave. Dave, this is Jo and this is her diner. I don't know how she makes the best coffee in town and she won't tell me her secret.” We sat down at the counter and two mugs of a hot, dark brown, aromatic nectar appeared before us.
As Jo put a pitcher of milk in front of Val, she said to me, “I'm guessing you take yours black.”
“How'd you know?” I asked, impressed.
“You look like you were in the service. Air Force, like Val?”
I snickered, “Ah, no... I was in the Navy.”
“So much the better,” Jo replied. “My late husband retired as a senior chief. He and I started this place. I wouldn't know what to do now if I didn't have it.”
Taking a long swig of coffee, I savored the smooth, rich flavor and the heavenly aroma of Jo's handiwork. “The senior chief taught you this, didn't he?” I inquired.
“Yes he did,” Jo confirmed. “How could you tell?”
“I've tasted this coffee before. Was he, by any chance, stationed in Norfolk about eight years ago?”
“Yes, he was!” Jo said, her eyes glittering from tears in their corners. “Did you serve with Lenny?”
“Senior Chief Leonard Blackwell. Yes, ma'am, I did. He was a great mentor-taught me all I know about leading people. I am sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you, dear,” Jo said softly. “It's always good to meet one of his men.”
Val was watching the conversation with her mouth open. “What a small world,” she finally said in amazement.
We sat there drinking our coffee, each of us lost in our thoughts. Val turned to me and said, “I don't know why, but I have to ask. What would you do about Sharon?” It was the first time I'd heard her use Sharon's first name.
“I'd give her a chance,” I replied. “At least call her. Maybe even meet for coffee, or lunch one day. Let her know it's just to get to know her better.”
“You don't think I should worry?”
“I think she's just lonely and overwhelmed,” I surmised.
We finished our coffees and walked back to the van. From there, we headed back to the office, where I helped her unload. Most of the techs had returned, with the notable exception of the two that had the other CSR shadows with them. All eyes in the garage were on us.
“Is there anything I need to do now?” I asked Val after we had cleaned out the back of the van.
“No, there isn't,” she said, smiling. “You're free to go.”
I reached out to shake her hand. She took mine in hers and I felt a card pressed into my palm. Then Val pulled me close and gave me a hug. “Keep in touch,” she whispered, “and thanks for everything, partner.” We ended the hug and every tech in the garage had a stunned look on his face. I smiled as I walked back to my car.
It's been nine months since the ride along with Val. I saved the phone number she had written on the back of her business card in my phone and called her a few days later. We would talk to each other every few days for about a month, but then I got a promotion at work and my personal life got complicated, so I lost touch with her. However, I never forgot Val and hoped I'd run into her again some day.
That brings us to last Saturday. I was at the monthly meeting of the local BDSM munch group I've been part of since I moved here five years ago. This Saturday, I was sitting at my usual table waiting on a cup of coffee (naturally!) I watched members, guests and new people come in and make out their name tags.
At one point, there were so many people at the greeter's table it was hard to see them all, but as one person leaned over to make out his name tag, I saw a flash of red hair. My curiosity piqued, I got up and walked over to the entrance. She was attaching the name tag to her blouse as she turned towards me. She broke out in a big smile.
“Hello, David,” she said. I returned her smile.
“Long time no see... um, 'Mistress Val'.”