If Joe Doleva timed it right, he made it home from his overnight shift in time to see his daughter Steph off to school. She slept across the street at her friend Julie Parrington's house when her Dad worked. Julie's mom Austin was generous in her willingness to help out Joe the Widower. The girls either caught the school bus or hitched a ride from Austin's older son, Jason, who "guaranteed" that he was a safe driver.
The Parrington family had been most kind, patient and understanding during the illness of Joe's wife Maryanne and everybody was still adjusting to the loss less than a year after Maryanne's death. Steph was a resilient and spiritual fourteen year old and she was doing about as well as could be expected given the circumstances.
Austin, who had been a good friend to Maryanne, became a Godsend during the illness and she was a life savior in the aftermath of Maryanne's passing. Joe knew he would have been lost without Austin being there for both him and his daughter.
Austin's husband Dennis wasn't as sociable or friendly as his younger wife. An insurance executive, Dennis was constantly away on business trips and when he was home he was either on the phone or on the computer. Dennis left most of the child raising responsibilities to his wife and he found Maryanne's illness to be an inconvenience because his wife was often across the street providing home care support.
Dennis made the time to show up for the wake and funeral but Joe hadn't seen much of him since, not that they were all that friendly to begin with.
On this particular morning, Joe arrived home from his overnight position as a Police 911 Dispatcher just as Steph and Julie were leaving the Parrington's house for school.
"Daddy!" Steph said happily, giving her father a hug as he stepped into the yard after parking his car across the street in his own driveway. "How was your shift?"
"No drama, the way I like it," he said, returning the hug. "Have a great day at school."
"I'll try, Dad," Steph smiled.
The girl looked surprisingly like her late mom - curly blonde hair, a round face, inquisitive eyes, and a lovely smile.
"Hi, Mr. D," the brown haired Julie said, giving him a wave before climbing into her brother's car. Jason was already behind the steering wheel.
Austin was standing on the front porch in her bathrobe seeing the kids off. "Want some Morning Joe?" She asked her neighbor once Jason had driven off with the girls.
"Sure," Joe said with appreciation, heading for the porch.
He followed Austin into the house, very familiar to him now. The Morning Joe routine started not far into the new school year. It was a good way for Joe to unwind from his overnight shift and catch up on any news he needed to know about Steph. He'd have coffee and maybe a bite to eat with Austin and then go home to sleep until Steph either came home or he went to see one of her after school activities.
He'd cook Steph supper (or they'd go out) and Steph would go across the street to Julie's house around nine. Joe often took a power nap before going to work.
Joe took his familiar seat at the kitchen table as Austin poured him a cup of coffee and joined him at the table. Her hair was black, cut in a pixie style. Austin was shorter than Maryanne, a stay at home Mom while Maryanne had been a nurse before becoming ill.
"Anybody yell at you last night?" Austin asked.
"It was actually pretty quiet," Joe replied. "One drunk guy called because he couldn't remember where he parked his car then got pissed because I told him that didn't rise to the level of a 911 call."
"What'd he say?"
"'It does to me!'" Joe said, rolling his eyes.
"Greenville isn't that big of a town and yet you get all sorts of calls," Austin noted.
"Long stretches of boredom mixed with moments of stress and anxiety," Joe said. "Steph okay last night?"
"Fine as always," Austin assured him.
"I keep thinking maybe I should quit," Joe said. "This isn't fair to any of us."
"Everybody's doing the best they can," Austin said. "You're good at your job. Steph has a sister in Julie. It's going to be okay. We're still adjusting."
"I'll never get used to it," he sighed.
"I know," she said with understanding. There was a moment of quiet reflection. "Do you want to go upstairs?"
"That would be nice," Joe smiled.
The guest room served as their neutral space. It was small, but the bed was large enough. Joe stripped out of his clothes and lay on the bed. Austin let her robe fall to the floor and she stepped out of her pajama bottoms before lying on the top of Joe. He slid his hands underneath her pajama tops and felt her breasts.
"Sex, now please!" Austin giggled.
Joe obliged and when they were through, Austin rolled off the bed.
"I've got pee," she laughed. "Maybe I'll give you a blow job when I get back."
He watched her walk bottomless from the room, her shapely rear end shaking as she went. The sex started a few months ago, quite suddenly and rather unexpectedly. Joe was over for his usual Morning Joe when Austin reached into the cupboard to get a platter for some buns she had toasted.
She burst into tears because the platter had been a gift from Maryanne and the emotions of that reality overwhelmed her. Joe tried to comfort her and before either of them knew what was happening, Austin was on her back on the kitchen table with her robe open and her pajama bottoms on the floor and Joe was fucking her as they both released months of grief, despondency, pain, and frustration.
Austin missed her friend Maryanne and she had come to rely on Joe as her confident with her marriage stale and boring. She suspected that Dennis had someone else on the side but she didn't have the guts to confront him. She had become close to - and dependent on - Joe, both of them experiencing their own sense of loss and hurt.
"My God, what have we done?" Joe asked when their heads cleared.
Most of what had been on the table was spilled onto the floor. Austin lay slack on the table top with Joe still inside of her.
"What we had to do," she whispered. "What we needed to do. What we wanted to do."
They called that first time grief sex - but now it was 'companion sex' and 'friendship sex' and 'Morning Joe Sex'.
When Austin returned from peeing, they gave each other hand jobs until they both ejaculated, Austin thrilled to have normal and natural orgasms again, able to squirt like she had in her younger days. She let Joe fondle her breasts under her pajama top as they lay on the bed and talked, Austin on her back, Joe on his side staring at her with wonder in his eyes.
"I love crazy morning sex," Austin said with satisfaction. "Of course, I'd be happy even if it was only mediocre as long as it was with you!"
Joe learned over and kissed her goodbye.
"Good night," Austin said seductively.
He got off the bed, dressed, and kissed her again before leaving for his house. When he was gone, Austin rolled over onto her stomach, still bottomless and took a happy morning nap.