Mark takes the lead...

She's still a great kisser. Mark felt Bette take his hand in both of hers as he kissed her. The breeze kicked up and her hair struck his face; he could smell her shampoo: coconut and honey. She never forgot. Don't wait anymore. He wasn't sure if it was the cool breeze or the soft, innocent way she kissed him, but a chill moved up his spine. Mark pulled back from the kiss and saw her smile and he did too. "You wanna go back inside?"

"Yeah. I'm getting cold," she said with a little laugh. Bette let go of his hand and rubbed her arms over her cardigan.

Mark picked up the basket and Bette picked up the bag of clothes pins from the line. He walked behind her back into the house. He set the basket down by the door.

Bette turned back to him, still holding the bag of clothes pins. She eyed the folded basket and hung the bag on it. The whole thing slid to the floor before either of them could stop it. The bag of clothes pins hit the floor and a wave of them flew out across the tiles. She put a hand on her face and laughed. They both crouched down to pick up the scattered pins. "Just my luck," Bette sighed. She knelled and picked up pins by the handful.

"You always were lucky to me," he said. "At least, I always seemed to have good luck around you." Mark dropped a handful of clothes pins in the bag and reached for more.

"Ha," Bette scoffed. "You sure about that? We broke up twice due to tragedy," she said coarsely. She grabbed the last few pins near her.

Don't wait anymore. Mark reached out and placed his hand on hers. She looked at what he did and up at his face. "Don't do that, Bette, please. You just got here. Don't push me away already. I'm not going anywhere."

She got a worried, almost sad look on her face, she understood the multiple meanings to the words he implied. "It's been so long- It's just-," she started to get tears in her eyes.

"I know, me too," he said softly. Mark and Bette moved to each other and hugged on their knees on the kitchen floor. "It has been so long."

Bette squeezed him back tightly and ran her hands over his back. "Mom hugs are one thing, friend hugs are another, but you," He felt her fingers in her hair and his knees almost buckled to her touch. "How do you put in to words how it feels to hug a warm memory?" He could hear her voice break.

Mark took a deep breath taking in the scent of her shampoo, her sweater, even that little bit of cinnamon that lingered on her from the rolls that they had eaten. "I know exactly what you mean. These last six years, then this awful year, then I get that one in a billion call from you." He ran his hand down her hair on her back and took a deep gulping swallow to keep his own tears back. "You are a lucky star. I couldn't have wished for something better than you in a time worse than this." I hope that wasn't too much.

Bette let out a cry, "I'm just an old, torn up monster. I'm not the girl you remember."

"You're not what I remembered, you're better." He opened up their embrace and they looked each other. "These last three months of calling and texting-" He wiped the tears off her face and took a couple deep breaths.

"I'm not Wednesday the ten anymore. I haven't been for years."

"You're right. She was a child. You're a woman. You sent me that picture of you in that sleek, black cocktail dress with that deep-V in the front. You're Morticia now. You've looked death in the face and made it bow before you." I hope that wasn't too much.

Bette let out a laugh. "I like the sound of that." She turned and wiped her face with her sleeve. "I couldn't pull off a deep-V like that before the surgery. I never had the right boobs it or a flat stomach before the procedures. I just-" She started to stand up and he stood too. "I've been single since before the procedures, before Dad got cancer," she looked embarrassed. "You know?"

"Six years, Bette. Six years since my divorce. Shannon moved on before the ink was dry on the papers. She's been married for the last four years. Ellie and JJ have been my primary focus this whole time, then work, this house. I barely get time for myself let alone a girlfriend." He ran his hands over his face and groaned. "What I'm saying is, what I'm trying to say, badly, is that the kids are finally old enough, independent enough that I'm ready. And as soon as I thought I was ready, the world shut down. I thought it was a sign I shouldn't. And then I gained the COVID weight like everyone else and thought: I bet that jungle gym JJ wants could double as fitness equipment for me too. And then the lucky star called me from 20 minutes away!" Okay, that was definitely too much.

Bette gave him a growing, twitching smile. "I need to use your rest room."

Mark got a blank look on his face and pointed.

Bette grabbed her purse and went in the direction where he pointed. She turned back around to see Mark running his hands through his hair with his eyes closed. "When I'm done in there." He turned and opened his eyes with his hands still in his hair. "I'll be ready. Ready to talk more, or more music, or if you're hungry. It doesn't matter what, but I'll be ready for it." She said it with a soft expression and tone then turned back around and went into the bathroom and closed the door.

Was that pity or interest? He looked at the kitchen island and saw some crumbs from the cinnamon rolls. He grabbed a clean kitchen rag, wet it, and wiped up the counter. He covered the rolls in the pan to keep them fresh. When Bette emerged from the bathroom, he turned and saw her, she had changed her long flowing locks into a tight braid. Morticia the ten. Interest, not pity.

"What were you ready for?" She asked as she set her purse back on the island.

Mark didn't break eye contact with her. He took a couple deep breaths, and reached into his pocket for the small remote again. He clicked the button and spoke into it, "Play Bette's mix."

Bette smiled before the music even cued up. The familiar piano riff was unmistakable to someone their age. It was 'All My Life' by K-Ci & JoJo. Mark walked to the door frame of the living room. Bette crossed the kitchen and followed his backwards steps into the living room where the music played even more clear. He stuck the remote back in his pocket and held out his hand to her. Bette took it and Mark gave her a turn on the fuzzy carpet before pulling her close. God, she feels good. They swayed together to the old song and Mark felt like a teenager again. The side of his goatee swept against her cheek. Her hand found the familiar spot across his shoulders. So glad I've been doing push-ups.

"I missed this," she said.

"Me too, he replied.

She rested her head against him and he ran his hand up and down her back once.

"Sixteen years. You ever wonder what would have happened? If our plans had happened?" She asked.

"Sometimes. I wonder lots of things. Never for too long. I don't regret the choices I've made. Do you?"

She sighed. "No. I only regret a couple things. Little things. Like not telling off a certain boss when I quit a job," she laughed. "Not ordering dessert at a restaurant." She looked up at him. "It's why I made egg bake and cookies. Life's too short not to get dessert."

Mark scoffed a laugh. She brushed her teeth! He pulled their hands close and kissed her fingertips. "Too short. I don't want to wait anymore. Do you?"

Bette looked into Mark's eyes with soft care, "It's what I've been hoping for."

Mark felt the pressure of Bette's hand on his neck as he leaned into her. This wasn't an innocent kiss hanging up laundry. Their mouths opened to each other and their hands released and wrapped around each other. He found the spot on the back of her head he remembered the touch of so fondly. He gave the nape of her neck a rub and she let out a sigh as her tongue swept across his lip. I've missed her so much. He felt her nails comb through his scalp and he let out a hum.

The song ended and the next one started, 'Cry to Me' by Solomon Burke. Bette let out a little humming laugh in the kiss and pulled back, "This song. Us and this song."

He smiled, "How could I not?"

He moved his hands onto her lower back and her arms wrapped up his to his shoulders. He swayed her to the song, moving with her, like in the movie 'Dirty Dancing,' like when they were 14, like the first time they were intimate when they were 18. He felt the loose, comfortable way she held him. He took hold of her upper and lower back and moved her into a sweeping dip. Her leg rose and held against the side of his and she took a sharp, wincing inhale with closed eyes and gritted teeth. "Mm! I'm not as flexible in my stomach as I used to be. Skin's a little tight."

He pulled her back up quickly, "Shoot. I'm sorry."

"It's okay. It doesn't hurt now. Just for a second it did." Her leg was still bent along his leg and hip. They were staring at each other intently, feeling her there. He took a hand off her back and held her thigh.

"Show me what doesn't hurt." Please let that work.

Bette held his arms while he still held her firmly. She leaned back slightly and swayed to the song with closed eyes. She let out an exhaling sigh and grinded her hip against his. He knew she felt his hard-on against her. She is so sexy.

Mark let go of her thigh and pulled Bette close again. He moved his hips with hers to the song and he felt her breathing intensify. He tilted his head towards hers and kissed her again. This time the kiss was intense, more aggressive. Bette's tongue shot into his mouth and he welcomed it. His hand ran down her back and onto her butt, squeezing it. She pressed her hips hard against his and moved herself against his erection. She took her hands off him and pulled off her cardigan, letting it fall to the floor. She reached under his hoodie and began to run her hands up his stomach and chest. Mark pulled back from their intense kiss with a moan.

"You feel so manly. How is it that you feel better now than when we were young?" She asked.

He got a stunned look on his face. "You're kidding? I was in the best shape of my life until I was 21. I've got such Dad-bod now."

Bette got an honest, aroused look on her face, "God, that's sexy. You kept the chest hair, right?"

He was almost confused by her intensity. "Yeah."

"I wanna see."

And I thought the single moms were thirsty. He finally dropped her leg and took a small step back from her. "Upstairs?" He asked with caution.

Bette nodded.

He took her hand and they ran up the stairs, she was giggling and it made him laugh. They got to the top and he landed his back against the wall and pulled her in for more kissing. His lips enrobed hers. Her hands found their way back under his sweatshirt again. She pulled back as he raised his arms and they both took it off him. "I remember," she panted. "How amazing you felt." She looked at his grey t-shirt and put her hands on his pecs over the shirt. "You do still have chest hair. I can feel it." She had heat in her voice.

Mark turned away from the wall and started walking backwards towards his room. He reached down, untucked his shirt, and peeled it off. Bette followed him with matching steps into his bedroom. He gave her a smirking smile to her awestruck face. "This really doing it for you?" He asked with genuine curiosity. Bette touched his shoulders where his muscles were strong and hairy, ran her finger tips down his biceps where he was still built firm, to his pecks which were not as firm as they once were, but thick with hair, some of them grey, and down to his stomach, which was rounder, softer, and harrier than it ever was before with her.

"Something about a grown man in no shirt and jeans," she leaned her face into his chest, smelled his chest, and went back out again. "It's you, so it's even better." She took a deep breath. "You don't own a kilt, do you?"

"No," he laughed. "What about you?" If she thinks this looks good, she must still be beautiful. "You still feel beautiful, Bette. You're not a torn-up monster."

"You haven't seen me yet. I look like the Joker's mouth." She touched her abdomen. "And I recall you being a boob man. I can barely even feel anything here anymore." She poked her small breasts with her fingertips.

"What do you feel?" He half turned her, pulling her back into his chest, and wrapped his arms around her. They could still, barely, hear the music playing downstairs. The song was 'Too Much' by The Spice Girls. He swayed her to the music. "What do you need," he whispered in her ear.

She moved her left hand up to the back of his neck and felt his hair. She turned her head slightly, "Kiss my neck," she said softly.

Gladly. He started to graze his lips and tongue over her neck to the collar of her t-shirt and back up to her ear and licked the outside of it like he did when they were young. Bette moaned.

She put her right hand on his and stuck their hands in the top of the elastic waistband of her skirt. They both pushed her skirt down and it pooled at her ankles. Is she wearing another skirt?

"You feel that, Mark?" She said in the seductive tone he remembered; her voice was even more womanly than when they were 18.


"Silk and lace. I didn't forget." She let go of his neck and turned in his arms. She kicked her skirt aside and her slippers off at the same time. Mark looked down to see the black slip emerge from under her t-shirt. "It actually is silk this time." She raised her arms above her head and smiled. Mark ran his hands over the silk of the slip and under her t-shirt to remove it; under the slip, she wore a black and white lace bralette. "I'm not the girl I used to be. I'm barely even a woman anymore," she whispered cautiously with some worry on her face.

He smiled and ran his hands down her body over the slip. "You still feel like a woman to me." He reached underneath the slip and put his hands on the waistband of her leggings. "Do you still feel like a woman? Or are you trying to talk me out of this? Because nothing's changed for me: I still won't lie to you. I want you here. I. Want. You."

Bette draped her arms back around him and kissed him. She lingered her lips over his, "Keep going." He grabbed the waistband and peeled the leggings down to her ankles and knelled on one leg in the process. He saw the matching black and white lace panties she wore underneath. She braced her hands on his shoulders and he pulled the leggings off her ankles one at a time. He stood and she looked down and started to unbuckle his belt and undo his jeans. She glanced up at him. "If I planned my underwear and I was this nervous, what did you plan?" She spoke with determination.

She unzipped his jeans and when she opened them up, he saw her face glow with excitement. He wore tight boxer-briefs in blue that had a sheen to them. They were poly-cotton, but looked silky. She ran her hands over his butt under his jeans and over his underwear and looked him square in the eye and said, "Lay down."

Mark gave her a wanton look, took her hands in his, and took a step back. His jeans fell to the floor with a couple steps and careful footing. He sat down on his bed, letting go of her, slid back, and landed on his left elbow. He put his right hand out to her. Bette took his hand and climbed onto the bed. She knelled alongside him and kissed him, holding his chin, but only for a moment. She lay down on her left side and took his genitals out of his shorts. He was hard for her, and had been for a while. He sighed to her touch.

"I've waited so long to do this," she said as she took his length into her mouth. Mark's head fell back with a groan and he put a hand on her back as her mouth moved up and down his shaft. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the feeling of her warm, wet mouth moving over him along with her hand moving and massaging. He took deep breaths through his stomach and moaned. "That's incredible what you're doing." He ran his hands over her back and over her hair and braid. She stopped for a moment but kept rubbing, "You can use a little pressure. Show me what you like. I'll let you know when it's too much." She hummed as she put him back in her mouth and kept going.

Mark looked down at her pleasuring him and groaned. "Oh God, yeah." He had a hand on the top of her back and gave her a push on her downward suck. She hummed a sound that sounded like 'uh-huh' and squeezed his thigh. She pushed more on the nerve between his legs and he breathed hard. He hadn't been touched like this in years, and while Bette hadn't touched a man either, both were starving for it, and nothing felt as satisfying as his old flame. Her mouth was deft and fast and he could hear her hum and sigh. She really does like doing it; she's still good at it. And I miss doing it too. He looked at how she was positioned next to her on the bed: parallel to him. She wasn't a fan of sixty-nining back then, I wonder if she would be now? He looked over at her; the slip was bunched up and he could see the front of her panties. He reached over and began to touch her with his fingertips. She was warm to the touch, let out a moan that sounded like 'uh-huh' again, and she separated her knees for him a bit. Mark adjusted to lay down on his side and touched her over her panties more. He listened for her pleasure; he felt for her body's reaction.

She had only lowered his shorts before, but in that moment, she took him out of her mouth, and yanked his shorts past his knees, "Take off my panties. Use your mouth," she said through desperate, whispered breaths.

He sat up slightly and pulled his shorts off completely. He lay back down and started to pull off her panties. Bette lifted her hips to make it easier. I missed the taste of her. She raised her knee and Mark planted his mouth; Bette reacted loudly. She's so wet. He moved his mouth and tongue madly over her. Bette stopped sucking on him for a moment, "Ah! Holy fuck! Don't stop!" She started sucking faster and harder as he licked her.

Her clit is the best brunch I've ever had. She reached around him, grabbed his back and scratched him as she moaned and sighed. He rubbed her back and pushed more on her back and on her scalp. He felt the combination of her control and helplessness in her body as they consumed each other. The more he licked and kissed her loins, the wilder she was always passionate, but I don't remember her being this wild. She slapped his butt, squeezed his thighs tight, and scratched his back hard in no pattern or predictability; she was absolutely unbridled. I'm going to finish fast if she keeps this up.

He pulled himself out of her mouth and turned them about on the bed. He lay her on her back and looked up at her; Bette was panting and groaning. Her thighs were twitching next to his ears. Come on, I know I still got it, I can still make you cum. Bette reached down and ran her hands into his hair and gripped his scalp hard, moaning. Yeah, I got you. She started rolling her hips against his mouth. The volume of her sighs were louder and more frequent until she screamed, "Yes! Oh God! Mark! Ah-aaaaaah!" She rolled her hips faster against his rippling tongue and twitching lips. He felt how wet she was and how much of it was on his goatee. He smelled and tasted all of her. How sweet she is.

She gasped for breaths as she let go of his hair and he licked her thighs, subtly wiping off his mouth in the process and still stimulating her body. He looked up at her; her eyes were closed, she was sweating, her hands were in her scalp, and she was exhaling a long, slow moan. I think I broke her. Nice. He kept kissing her thighs, up to her hips, and pushed up her slip. He finally saw her abdominal scars; Bette shot out of the daze of her orgasm and looked horrified. She had scar that looked like Shannon's c-section scar at the top of her pubic hair, a circle scar around her new corrective surgery belly button, several dotted scars, and the large pink jagged scar that went all the way across her abdomen from hip bone to hip bone. Mark couldn't hide the surprise on his face.

"I knew it! I'm a monster. I always have been. It's just that you can see it now!" She quickly sat up and covered herself with the slip.

Mark slammed his hands on her legs. "No!" You dumbass!

"Why do you think I haven't been with anyone? That was the look I was afraid of!" She covered her face with her hands.

"No Bette. It's not like that. I was surprised, not scared, not disgusted. Look!"

Bette peaked out from between her fingers to see Mark up on all fours, still fully erect for her. "Bette, you're not a monster. You never were. If I can make you say 'Oh God' like that, then-then maybe you're a goddess and I'm just lucky enough to worship you." Okay, that was too much.

She was quiet for a couple seconds. "It's a pretty busted up old temple," she said dropping her hands, showing how red her face was.

Maybe what I said was just enough. Maybe she needed to hear that. "When all of this happened to you, I wish I could have been there for you. I'm sorry I couldn't be there by your side before." He cautiously touched her stomach.

She placed her hand on top of his. "It was the worst thing I've ever been through, physically. I'd get my appendix out a hundred more times than go through that again."

"I remember. That was bad too."

She lifted the slip and pointed to one, tiny, faded, pink scar. "Of the three from my appendectomy, that's the only scar that's left. I used to think those three little scars were hideous, now look at me." Her voice began to break.

Mark leaned over and kissed the old, faded scar then looked at her face to face. "I see the first girl I ever liked. I see a beautiful woman who made death her pet. And pets bite sometimes."

"I see a man who made me cum harder than I have in years," she said with a smile.

Yes! Mark smiled and let out a little laugh.

"I want to return the favor."

Bette put a hand on his shoulder and another around his chest. He felt the pressure she put on him and let her push and rotate him down to the bed onto his back. She climbed onto his thighs and looked at each other's smiling faces.

"Wait," he said with wide eyes. He reached over to his bedside table. Under a t-shirt was a three-pack of condoms. He quickly opened the box, a package and unrolled one onto himself.

Bette adjusted and slid down onto him. "Don't be gentle with me. I don't need you to go slow to start," she said softly.

God she's tight. "You don't need to tell me twice." He took her hand and yanked her body down against his and wrapped his other arm around her back. He thrust up into her and she moved against him and she moaned. "Oh-ho-ho, yeah!" They snickered and kept moving together, hard and fast feeling the thrill shoot through their bodies. She pushed herself up and rode his thrusts.

"Yeah! Do it! Keep going," she cried out.

"Uh! Yeah!" He ran his left hand up her front, feeling the silk and his fingertips touched the lace of the bralette. "You feel so good."

She braced her left hand on his chest and took his left hand in her right; she started sucking on his fingers.

"You like sucking on me?" He said in a throaty whisper. We didn't do a lot of dirty talk before. "You like riding my cock?"

She took his finger out of his mouth and started him down with a smile. "Yeah," she fell forward and kissed him, plunging her tongue into his mouth briefly. "Keep fucking me." She stared at him intensely as she said it. "I want you to make this pussy purr."

He reached behind her and grabbed her braid and gave it a little tug, "I wanna make her growl," he rumbled and gave her a hard thrust.

Bette let out a hard, pleasurable cry. "You're a naughty fuck, aren't you?" She gave his chest a little slap with a smile.

They were staring at each other in the eyes. She's amazing. I've missed her so much. I don't think I can be without her again. "Only with someone I love." The words slipped out. He saw the surprise on her face. He was still in her. They were still moving together. She didn't stop.

Bette spoke with soft sincerity, "Only with someone I love too."

He took a couple breaths, moved slow, and cupped her face. "I love you Bette."

"I love you, Mark," she whispered. He pulled her in and kissed her. They held each other and felt the passion they had for each other that seemed to have never left. She pulled the hair tie off and let her locks flow freely. Her hair was wild mess while they made love, but he loved running his hands through it, even more than the braid looked or felt. She touched her forehead to his, "I missed you so much," she sighed. "I've missed you for so long."

"I've missed you too. I love you," He gasped.

"I love you, Mark."

Mark's thrusts and breaths began to accelerate. "Uhnn-uh. Ah!" Mark's heaved a heavy breath and let his head fall back. He took deep breaths while Bette lifted herself off him and lay next to him. He rested the back of his hands over his eyes. She ran her fingertips over his chest and stomach hair.

She spoke with confusion in her tone, "Did-did you not cum?"

"I had a vasectomy years ago," he said through desperate breaths.

"You knew I had a hysterectomy. I told you I made all my partners wear condoms."

He dropped his hands over his head and looked at her, smiling. "If I didn't wear a condom, I would have been done in about 45 seconds. Possibly sooner with all that you were doing."

Bette's smile turned into a grin then an uncontrollable laugh. Mark joined her in her laughing. He reached down and took off the empty, unnecessary condom and shoved it back into the wrapper it came out of. Bette rolled onto his chest. Mark ran his hand down her back. "You are unbelievable. I can't tell you how much these last few months with you have meant to me."

"Me too." He ran his hand through her hair. "It's been a different kind of lonely these last several years. I'm never alone, but, you know? And then- you! It wasn't just a heat of the moment thing," he pulled her close and gave her a soft kiss. "I love you."

"Same for me. I love you too." She combed her fingers through his chest hair.

His stomach growled under her and it made her laugh. "I think I burned through that cinnamon roll already."

Bette grinned, "You mean you're not full from pussy?!" They both laughed as she rolled off his chest. Mark turned in the bed wrapped his arms around her and gave her a little tickle and a squeeze. Bette laughed so hard she squealed and snorted.