Dayna was happy to help Saunders with some of his physical exercising and training. She accompanied him to a few of his meetings and found them helpful for herself too.
"There are a lot of me's in there," she observed.
Saunders took her to all his favorite local eateries – Johnny C's, Serguci's Italian Family Restaurant, The Riverside Grille, Mom's in Miller City. They went to a couple of movies. Dayna came over for dinner with Saunders and his parents on several occasions. He visited her at her job – waitressing at Denny's and volunteering at the Greenville Social Services Rec Center. They took Trooper for walks together and let him run wild at the dog park.
Dayna accompanied Saunders to the Greenville Veteran's Parade and speech on Veteran's Day and Mrs. Saunders invited her to Thanksgiving with them. Saunders brought her to the annual rival football game between his alma mater Hillsboro Hurricanes and the Greenville Giants.
Christina was home from Boston with her boyfriend George when Saunders brought Dayna back from the game and it seemed to Saunders that she and Dayna became fast friends which made him think that his experiment would have been a success five years ago.
"Better late than never," Christina remarked when Saunders shared his observation with his sister.
Saunders couldn't remember a better Thanksgiving and he realized how grateful he was to be in this moment, in this place, in this space in his life, especially given all that he had been through the past few years. The house was full of chatter and laughter and smiles and warmth. Dayna was nearly overwhelmed by the holiday spirit and good cheer.
"So, this is family normal," she remarked at one point.
"No family is normal," Saunders replied. "But this is pretty close."
Saunders wanted to invite Dayna to spend the night on the emotional high he was feeling but he thought better of it. Christina and George returned to Boston the following Day and Saunders' parents were off for a weekend with college friends, leaving Saunders home alone but in good company with Dayna so close by.
The doorbell rang at 7:00 and there was Danya with Chinese take out to enjoy with a movie on Netflix. They cuddled on the couch enjoying the movie and when it was over, Dayna looked at Saunders expectedly.
"So, I'm spending the night, right?""
"I'd love it if you did," Saunders said.
They cleaned up the living room from their food and snacks and Saunders slowly led Dayna up the stairs - a slow go for him but she didn't mind. She saw his room for the first time.
"I still haven't completely de-kidded it yet," Saunders remarked.
Dayna could see evidence remaining from his high school days but she thought that was cute.
"Can I take a shower?"
"Sure," Saunders said. "First door on the right."
Dayna excused herself and left the room for the bathroom. Once he heard the shower water running, Saunders changed into a tee shirt and some jogging shorts and lay down on his bed to relax and wait. He was feeling slightly nervous but contently happy.
After a while, Dayna returned to the room, wrapped in a towel.
'Oh Wow,' Saunders thought to himself. 'Here we go again'.
She stood at his dresser with her back to him using his comb to brush out her long wet hair. She was being physical in the movements, enough to shake and loosen the towel so that it unwrapped and fell to the floor.
Saunders realized that she was reenacting the same scene from that night five years ago in the motel room, only this time she wasn't jail bait and Saunders wasn't risking becoming a Registered Sex Offender.
This time, Saunders didn't even pretend not to notice when Dayna made no effort to cover herself, standing in front of the dresser brushing her hair out in a seductively sexy fashion. Her white backside had filled out since the last time he saw it and he could see her breasts shaking in the reflection of the mirror.
Dayna smirked knowingly. "Are you checking me out?" She teased.
"Yes," Saunders easily answered. "And this time I don't feel like a creep doing it!"
"I've grown up," she said as continued brushing out her hair naked, until she finally turned to face him, revealing her full frontal nudity with more pubic hair than he remembered her having last time.
She giggled with approval when she saw the look of approval on his face.. "You're not embarrassed this time," she noted
"Nope," he agreed.
"Do you want me this time?"
"I wanted you last time," he told her. "But I couldn't have you."
"I didn't understand why."
"I took it personally," she said. "I was hurt and insulted."
"It was the first time I was rejected for sex."
"I had no choice."
"I wanted to feel wanted and loved by a normal guy for a change."
"I was flattered," Saunders said as he got off the bed and approached her. He leaned in and gently kissed her gently, just like he had that night in the motel. "Thanks," he said with sincerity.
"You told me that night you weren't the guy for me," Dayna recalled. "Are you the guy for me tonight?"
"Yes," he answered, kissing her again.
Dayna wrapped her arms around his waist and she kissed him in return.
"It would have been wrong that night," Saunders told her.
"But not tonight?"
She leaned in and kissed him again and then took him by the hand and led him to the bed. She fell onto it and then pulled him down beside her.
"You're still dressed," she said impatiently.
"I'm glad you're not," he grinned, placing his hand on her round firm breast, pinching and tugging on her nipples.
Dayna smiled, tilting her head back and purring as Saunders placed his mouth on her breasts, sucking and tasting until he slowly moved down to her stomach. Dayna successfully slid his shorts and underwear down his legs. His penis sprung out and Dayna smiled at the sight.
"It's okay," she whispered. "We both want this."
"For five years," he agreed.
"Are you ready for some exercise?" She asked as she climbed on top of him.
Later, when they were both worn out, Dayna lay on top of him in a state of bliss.
"How's your back?" She worried.
"No problem," he assured her.
"Do you remember what you said to me that night, after you turned down my advances and attempted seduction?" Dayna asked.
"I said a lot of things."
"Including telling me that I didn't have to sleep with every guy I liked just to get their approval," she said.
"I remember," he admitted.
"Do you still like me?"
"This is a dream come true."
"It is, isn't it?" She smiled. "Thank you for giving it to me."
"Thank you," he said.
"You were my first mentor," she said. "You were the first one to tell me that things were going to be okay. That I could get my GED and go to school. I never forgot that."
"And you did it."
"You also told me that there are no guarantees in life," Dayna recalled. "But that I wouldn't know unless I took a chance."
"And you did," Saunders smiled.
"The Road Not taken turned out to be the right road after all," she said, leaning in and kissing him. "This is my first normal relationship. You're my fist normal guy. I've never been with somebody this long without sleeping with him on the first night."
"You're on a new road now," Saunders let her know. "This is your new normal."
She sighed with contented happiness. "I like this road," she said.