After, by my count, 85 years on the road just that day, we saw Danielle's hotel come into view. The light of the mid-afternoon sun played across its glorious beige siding like a detail from a Vermeer print. Its vivid blue sign, containing the words "Inn & Suites" beckoned to us from afar like a lover, inviting us to enter in and partake of the many wonders of its lobby, which in our fevered imaginings included at least two plush couches.
I called up to Danielle's suite to alert her to our arrival. "Eeeeee," she squealed in delight. "I'll be right down to help you with your luggage."
"No way are you lifting heavy luggage in your condition," I said. "It stays in the car for the moment. Besides, I want both arms free to hug you."
"OK," she replied, "if you insist. I'm in suite 207. See you in a minute. Love you."
As I ended the call, I realized I'd been around the building twice without parking. Jess was looking at me quizzically.
"Sorry, I was distracted. Here's a spot."
I pulled into the parking space and turned the key backwards in the ignition. The poor, overworked 2003 Beetle shut down with what felt like a shudder and a sigh. Sleep well, noble beast. You have earned it.
I sat there for about a minute, listening to my muscles, my tendons, my very bones complaining. Almost 45 hours of driving over 3 days had left me a hollow shell of a man. I tried to focus. When I saw Danielle in the flesh for the first time in eight months, I wanted to be present. I wanted to experience the joy.
I gathered up my strength and slowly, deliberately, opened the door and slid out of the driver's seat. I thought about kissing the ground, but didn't think I'd be able to get back up if I did. Jess, in better shape than me -- she was young and hadn't done any of the driving -- came around to the driver's side and helped me into a full standing position. I didn't really need the help, but I was grateful for the reduced effort.
We proceeded stiffly to the hotel entrance. Joints I didn't even know I had popped and cracked. A bit unnerving, but the overall effect was to loosen me up. By the time we got to the double glass doors, I was perambulating more or less normally.
One wall of the lobby was covered entirely with large mirrored tiles. I checked myself out and regretted it. I looked like a zombie that had gone too long without ingesting brains and was suffering from anemia. My hair was out of control. My eyes were bloodshot and just a little bit crazed-looking. My clothes hung on me at weird angles. My beard was unkempt. A cursory self-examination revealed that I smelled terrible.
Basically, I could have passed for the Unabomber.
The fellow behind the desk was regarding me with a mixture of pity and fear.
I attempted to reassure him. "Just drove three-thousand miles. Don't want to eat your brains."
He nodded sympathetically and suggested I might use the restroom, third door on the right, to clean up. I thought this was an excellent idea, particularly considering that, in my desperation to be done with the journey, I had refused to stop to go to the bathroom the entire day.
Jess had already made her way to the ladies room, having been put through the same ordeal.
After urinating furiously for nearly minute, I got a closer look at myself in the bathroom mirror, and regretted it. But I soldiered on, washing my face and armpits, brushing my hair back with my wet hands, and tucking in my shirt. It was an improvement, but I was still chagrined.
I looked feral, Danielle would be thrilled to see me for half a second, then her smile would fade and she'd view me with the same mixture of pity and fear as the hotel receptionist. She'd hesitate to embrace me. Instead of being a beautiful moment, it would be awkward.
Danielle's not that shallow, I admonished myself. You know that. Don't worry. Love conquers all -- even the Unabomber look.
For about the third time in the last five minutes, I pulled myself together. Jess was waiting impatiently outside the restroom. I realized that I'd spent more than a few minutes in there, worrying.
"Sorry about that," I said. "Let's do this."
Danielle's second floor hotel suite was directly opposite the elevator doors. I took a deep breath and knocked.
Almost immediately,the door swung open to reveal a very pregnant Chinese lady in a loose, flowing, flower-patterned dress. Redundantly enough, I fell in love at first sight. Hoping that I'd sufficiently mitigated my disgustingness downstairs in the restroom, I threw myself at her (but carefully: baby on board) and kissed her to within an inch of her life.
"God," I said, panting from the marathon kiss, "you are a sight for sore...everything."
"You, too, kid."
We embraced, at an odd angle to accommodate her belly, and wept silently in joy and relief.
Danielle spoke over my shoulder. "Hey, Jess. Come on, join the hug."
A moment later, I felt another arm across my back and a sweet face nuzzling my neck. We maintained this tableau for an indeterminate time before Danielle said "Let's move this love-fest inside. Pull up a slice of bed. You must be sore from all the driving."
"Sore? I think I'm going to need physical therapy," I said.
Jess stretched and lay down on the left side of the bed. I crawled gingerly onto the middle of the remarkably comfortable mattress and lay next to her. I turned to my right to kiss her, then turned to face Danielle, who was stretched out on my left.
I caressed her cheek, and ran my hand gently down her face, her neck. I lingered for a moment on her breasts, innocently, marveling at the extent to which they'd grown. I placed my head on her belly, listening for signs of the life that grew inside, and was greeted with a powerful kick to the ear.
"That's just her way of saying 'hi.' I think she knows it's you."
I turned to face Dani's belly directly. I spoke to my daughter (I rolled that concept, "my daughter," around in my mind. I couldn't get a handle on it). "Hey, kiddo, it's daddy. Nice to meet you. We'll talk a lot more later, but right now I've got to go make out with mommy."
"Hee hee." Danielle is the only person I've ever met who literally laughs "hee hee" and sneezes "achoo."
I worked my way back up her body, kissing her and rubbing her belly, which was still a wonderment to me. I lingered again on her breasts, this time hungrily, passionately. I kissed her neck at just that spot. She squeaked and reached down to remove her dress.
Behind me I heard Jess say "Oh, boy." Not sure if that was a worried "oh, boy" or an aroused "oh, boy," I went about my business, reaching around to unhook Dani's bra.
"Um, OK," said Jess, clearly uncomfortable, "Why don't I go do...something. Give you guys some privacy."
It occurred to me that for all of Jess' enthusiasm about being part of a triad, she had never actually been in this situation before, and wasn't sure how to handle Dani and me progressing toward making love in front of her. As mature as she was for her age, there was an experience gap. It was kind of sweet, actually.
"Are you sure?" asked Danielle, "You can stick around if you want. Get involved or not."
"Errrrm," opined Jess.
"Just watching is cool. I like that," she went on (between gasps. Her breasts were more sensitive than I remembered. Probably a pregnancy thing).
"Oh, wow. I don't know. I mean, I've never..."
"No pressure," I assured her as I peeled off my badly sweat-stained and threadbare t-shirt. "If you're not ready for this kind of thing..."
I had unintentionally thrown down the gauntlet. "Oh, hey, no, I'm cool. I just don't want to be in the way."
I put my tongue in Dani's ear. She squirmed and giggled.
"You wouldn't be," I assured her. To Dani, I whispered "just a sec."
I turned around to face Jess, who wore a nervous version of her waif expression. After having conceded the previous day that she was the grownup of the two of us, I experienced a moment of mild schadenfreude. You've got the life skills, but I've got the experience. Think you can handle this? Kid?
The thought was unworthy of me. I set it aside for later self-chastisement, and set about trying to make Jess as comfortable as possible, or, failing that, aroused enough to get over her reticence.
I cradled her face in my hands and kissed her eyes, her lips, her neck. "Don't do anything you don't want to do. But don't rule anything out immediately either."
I pulled her to me, removed her shirt. She had discarded her bra hours before during the trip; it had been griping her. I nibbled on her breasts and she inhaled with a hiss.
This should go fine. The girl's a sex maniac; her instincts have got to be way more powerful than her shyness.
Dani turned to spoon with me. She reached over my head to caress Jess' cheek as I worked my way down Jess' belly. Jess' eyes were closed, so she didn't realize who was doing what until she did some math in her head. Her eyes grew wide as she gazed at Danielle, who regarded her with sweetness and not a little lust.
I knew Dani had a thing for Jess, but as far as I knew, Jess was straight as a board. This was a delicate situation. But Dani knew enough to back off if Jess' nervousness became genuine discomfort.
Jess broke eye contact with Dani, looked down, and headed for safer territory, grabbing my pants and pulling them down. Dani and I had the same thought at the same time, only Dani took hold of both my pants and my underwear, as I did to Jess, and in a single synchronous movement, we were all quite bare.
It was nice to get out of those clothes, let various regions of my body breathe.
I assessed the situation. This wasn't like those times with Maya. She and Danielle were both enthusiastically bi-. There was never a moment of discomfort. God, I missed that. Still, focus: we've got a nervous, hetero, 17 year-old in the mix this time. This would be a complex dance. I could concentrate mostly on Danielle, which was my instinct after all this time away from her, and let Jess jump in if and when she felt comfortable, or watch, if she preferred, or just wander away and read a book or something.
But I didn't feel comfortable ignoring Jess. She was a little out of her depth, and however she decided to proceed, she could stand to have someone hold her hand through the process.
Also, if she could be convinced to get involved, it would be really hot.
As I was thinking these things, I was slowly working my way over and down Dani's belly, hungry for my favorite snack. I heard Jess and Dani negotiating.
"It's OK if you're not into it," said Dani. "Seriously, don't do anything that makes you uncomfortable."
"I don't know if I'm uncomfortable or just confused."
"Well, if it helps any, if you were ever going to experiment, this is about as safe as you can get. We're all friends, neither Dave nor I hold you to any expectations, so ooooooooooooohhhh!"
I had gotten to a very sensitive area.
Going down on a woman 8-months pregnant requires some adjustments to one's technique, and it was playing hell with my already stiff neck, but I'd be damned if that was going to stop me.
Dani's moaning seemed to cause something to click within Jess, and she moved over to come face to face with Dani. Dani's eyes were shut tight, so Jess' tentative but determined kiss caught her entirely by surprise. "Eep!" she exclaimed; she makes the cutest noises during sex.
My attention was mostly on my current task, but I could see Jess kissing Dani's neck and, after a bit of internal struggle, her breasts. Dani, who hadn't gotten laid in 8 months, poor thing, was reaching a point of furious arousal. I'm good, but clearly the added spice of Jess' attentions was overflowing her buffers. She shuddered, and let out a yell she unsuccessfully tried to stifle so as not to alarm the neighbors. She came intensely, in long waves. "Oh, God, yes!" (pant pant) "God I needed that."
But my agenda had not changed.
"Uh, Dave, you can stop now."
I looked up briefly. "Oh, you haven't come nearly enough times yet," I insisted.
Dani let out another "eep."
Jess laughed, "oh, I love it when he does this."
I continued doing the Lord's work. Jess, satisfied that Dani was receiving quite enough stimulation, returned to her comfort zone: me. She sat next to me on the edge of the bed, and grabbed my left hand, guiding it gently up and down her body until she had a significant portion of my attention.
"I seem to recall that you can multitask." she said. I wan't really in a position to respond verbally, but I could take a hint.
Jess lay back, her head even with Dani's, and kissed her, less tentatively this time.
"Mmmmmmm" Dani was in heaven.
I slid my hand slowly up Jess' sleek legs until I reached her inner thighs. I stroked her lightly there for a while, now and then just barely brushing her labia, until she couldn't stand it anymore, hissed "Jesus," grabbed my hand again and guided my fingers directly to her clitoris. I hadn't meant to tease her, it's just that I'm really not that good at multitasking.
Jess, who I believe was more worked up by her interactions with Dani than she cared to admit to herself yet, came off almost immediately. Dani was barreling toward her second orgasm.
I am The Man, I thought. When it was Maya and Dani and me, the women had been pretty self sufficient. A lot of the time, it made me happy just to watch them, then when they were done, they'd gang up on me. I can't complain. But very rarely did I get to be The Source, pleasing both women at once. I craved that more than I craved my own release -- though by God, as soon as Dani came again, I would jump up there and...
"Uh, Dave?" Dani had stopped making ecstatic noises and now sounded distinctly worried. "Oh, boy, oh, boy."
I barely had time to wonder what the problem was before a torrent of warm liquid issued from Dani's vagina, some of it going down my throat and the rest soaking my face.
I screamed, but it came out as a gargling sound. I leaped up and sputtered furiously. I looked frantically for something to wipe my face with. The drapes sufficed. I rant to the sink and vomited up most of my lunch and about half a cup of amniotic fluid.
Although I didn't register it at the time, in retrospect I recall hearing this bit of dialogue while I was running around frantically:
Jess: "Wow, I've heard of female ejaculation before, but that's just..."
Dani: "Oh, for God's sake, that was my water breaking, you idiot!"
By the time I'd recovered from my ordeal, Dani was on her iPhone, calmly telling her boss that she'd gone into premature labor, and probably wouldn't be available for the next week. Jess was gathering up the soiled sheets, rolling them into a ball and calling housekeeping to alert them to their new challenge.
Neither spared me a glance. This was Woman Stuff. I'd done my part 8 months ago, and was essentially a third wheel at this point.
Dammit. 2 minutes ago I was "The Man." Now I was invisible. Didn't I at least rate a thank you for the world-class orgasms?
I stood in the middle of the room feeling useless, until Jess barked at me, "Dave, go clear out the back of the car so we can get Dani to the hospital."
Without a word, I threw on my clothes, slipping into my shoes without bothering to tie them.
On my way out I stopped to kiss Dani, who was still on the phone, but she held up her finger. Not now.
I passed through the lobby, surely looking even more frighteningly disheveled than before. I didn't bother to register the receptionist's reaction. I trudged out to the car and started transferring items from the back seat to the trunk, grumbling.
What the hell is your problem, Weinstien? Your woman is going into labor and all you can think about is your ego. Do you really want your daughter being raised by such an asshole? You should get out now before you ruin everything.
Ah. I'd been wondering what had happened to Critical Inner Voice. I hadn't heard from him in months.
But, in his own creepy way, he had a point. Whenever things got real, I turned into a selfish, immature kid. Dani could handle this. Jess, at 17, could handle this. I was going around pissed because my sexual prowess had not been adequately recognized in the middle of a crisis.
My little girl deserved better. That was for sure. But she surely deserved better than a man who would run out on her before she was born.
Critical Inner Voice could go fuck itself.