Nina had a massage guy. She had been seeing Kevin weekly for a year, had started because she wanted to spoil herself and had never really been into mud and wraps and everything else they did at a spa. And because her feet were too tickly for pedicures. Massages were what worked for her.
Kevin the massage guy was straight. That had been a little odd at first, but Nina got used to it. It was like going to a male hairdresser, except she was naked and had his hands all over her. Kevin talked about his girlfriend sometimes, enough to stop Nina’s little fantasies about hitting on him. She suspected was the point. She told him not to worry once, that she was happy at home and just wasn’t going to. It was true. She wasn’t going to, as much because she worried he might turn her down as because she was happy at home, but she had been happy at home. She made a point of taking about Joe, and how Joe made her happy, when Kevin talked about his girlfriend. Joe didn’t mind her seeing Kevin. He knew Kevin was a guy, and rubbed Nina all over her body, but had seemed to trust Nina and not to care.
It had all seemed to work quite well.
After six months, Nina and Joe broke up. It wasn’t anyone fault, they just turned out not to work together as well as they’d hoped. After the break-up, Nina realized her whole life had revolved around Joe, and what he expected, and what he needed. He had been almost everything to her, except that hour with Kevin once a week. That and work.
She promised herself that wouldn’t happen again.
Nina was single for a while, and kept on seeing Kevin, and thought a little more about making passes. Not thinking seriously, because she knew he had a girlfriend, and had noticed that now Kevin talked about her even more.
After a few months Nina met Aaron, and liked Aaron, and started to get involved again. Joe hadn’t cared about Kevin, so Nina just assumed Aaron wouldn’t either. Aaron, it turned out, cared quite a lot.
The first time she realized this was one morning when Aaron asked if she was busy later on, and she said, “Yeah, oh, no, wait. I have my massage guy.”
“Your massage guy?”
“Yeah. My massage. To relax. From a guy.”
“Why a guy?”
That was probably trouble right there. Nina hesitated.
Why a guy was because she was insecure enough she cared. She didn’t want another woman looking at her and judging. And because she’d tried four other massage places before she settled on Kevin. Kevin could rub her feet in a way that made her shiver and melt at the same time.
She didn’t really think Aaron needed to hear that.
“Why not,” she said. “His hands are stronger.”
“He’s gay though, right?”
“Of course not.”
Aaron looked surprised.
“No,” Nina said, wondering what was going on. “I mean, not of course, no reason it should be of course, but no, he isn’t. He has a girlfriend.”
“And you’re naked.”
“Well, mostly. I have a towel over me.”
“But under that you are?”
“They tell you to leave your undies on, but I stopped. They got in the way, and it felt a bit weird. I’d rather just be naked.”
“Shit, Nina. And he touches you?”
“Shit, Aaron, yes he does.”
“But you’re naked.”
“Kind of how it works, Aaron.”
She was starting to get irritated. This had been cute at first, but was going on too long.
“I don’t understand you sometimes, Nina.”
“And I definitely don’t get you, Aaron. What’s the fucking problem? I get a massage. From a guy who’s in a relationship and isn’t interested in me. And you’re going to make a thing about this?”
They looked at each other.
“Maybe,” Aaron said.
“I should go,” Nina said. “He’s just a fucking massage guy.”
“No. This is too complicated. I’ll see you next week.”
That had seemed to be the end of it for a while. A barely civil truce.
Aaron simmered with jealousy whenever Kevin was mentioned. Usually Nina didn’t say anything, now she knew it was a problem. She kept going to Kevin, and Aaron sulked, and presumably decided he wasn’t yet able to ask her to stop.
After two months seeing her, Aaron said over dinner, “I want to ask you to stop getting massages.”
“I didn’t make a fuss when you had a drink with your ex.”
“Yeah,” Nina said. “So?”
“It feels like I can’t do anything about your ex, but I can about the massage guy.”
Nina sat there for a while, thinking. She poked her fork into a lump of potato and ate it slowly.
“You can’t do anything about either,” she said.
“I know. I mean, I know I can’t, but I wish I was able to.”
“I’m not stopping seeing him. Either him.”
“But you don’t like it?”
“I don’t like it, and I don’t know why.”
“I know why,” Nina said.
“I do too. Because you’re naked.”
They sat there for a while in silence.
“Okay,” Nina said. “So that’s there. Now what?”
“It isn’t my place to have an opinion, so I won’t yet.”
Aaron looked at her, and didn’t answer, and Nina wondered. Everything else about them was good, just not this. She wondered how far it went. If he’d be upset by guys at work, or her talking to other men at parties.
“Are you jealous often?” she said. “I mean, would you say you’re a jealous person?”
“This is the first time.”
“So, what? I’m so completely different, and I drive you crazy?”
“Yeah right,” Nina said.
“I’m serious, Nina. It’s ugly, but it seems to be true.”
“Keep an eye on it,” Nina said. “Seriously. I’m done if this gets out of hand.”
“I can’t do that. Even quietly, like sulking, or you staring at people, or acting weird.”
“I get it.”
“I really can’t. You can’t get crazy around people from work. I’ve seen that happened, and it’s never good for the girlfriend’s career.”
Nina thought. She wanted to be clear on this, before anything more complicated happened.
“And drinks with Joe?” she said.
“Not at all?”
Aaron shook his head.
“If I’d fucked him after we broke up, would that make a difference?”
“Yeah, of course.”
“Whatever you two did is your business.”
Nina thought. “So he’s fine, but me getting a massage isn’t.”
“I didn’t said it made sense.”
“It doesn’t. But a little bit, if it doesn’t get out of hand, it’s kind of cute.”
Aaron looked at her, and seemed annoyed rather than anything else. Nina shrugged and went back to eating.
Nina told Kevin she’d had a fight with her boyfriend about him. He sympathized, but didn’t really ask. He didn’t really talk much, which might be why she liked him. Sometimes he even told her to keep quiet, that she was breaking the mood he was trying to create for her.
She lay there thinking one afternoon, as Kevin massaged her, about how she didn’t have a regular hairdresser. She always got irritated with them over something, and went and found a new one.
“You’re my hairdresser,” she said.
“Thanks. Turn over.”
She did. They didn’t bother with holding towel properly any more. Kevin looked away and Nina rolled and put the towels back on herself.
“Seriously,” she said. “I tell you stuff I don’t other people. And I see you all the time.”
“I’m glad, but shush. You’re distracting yourself.”
“Do my feet.”
“I’ll do your feet soon. At the moment I’m doing your shoulders.”
He always told her upper back got tight from too much time at her desk, and that her posture was terrible, and she should sit properly or get a new chair. She usually said yes, and didn’t listen. Usually he helped. When she lay down her shoulders hurt, and usually whatever he did fixed it. She didn’t need a new chair.
He finished her shoulders, and went up by her head to do her collarbone and neck and arm in a way that made her melt. She stopped thinking for a while and just moaned. She probably shouldn’t tell Aaron how much she moaned getting massages. She’d tried not to at first, but had got more used to Kevin and stopped caring. She probably also shouldn’t tell Aaron that she’d told Kevin not to worry about touching her tits by mistake, and that he massaged her butt. And probably not about the feet either. Once she’d thought she’d come a little bit from Kevin’s foot-rub, and she wasn’t going to share that with a soul.
Despite that, despite all the nudity and rubbing, it was all weirdly non-sexual. Silent, soothing. Like jumping past the sex to the hugging afterwards.
She didn’t want to fuck Kevin, just to use him for his hands. And she was pretty sure Kevin didn’t want to fuck her either. He was younger than her, and she was pretty sure he really loved his girlfriend.
Which made Aaron worrying silly.
Flattering that he cared enough to worry, but silly as well.
Nina kept telling herself Kevin was harmless, that Aaron had no right to worry, but it wasn’t completely true. There could be a reason for Aaron to worry, because once Nina had got herself off during a massage. She had slipped her hand under the towel and played with herself, while Kevin rubbed her neck. It was wrong and presumptive and almost like molesting him, but she’d been horny all day and it was a week after she’d broken up with Joe, and she wasn’t coping well, so she did it. And she was fairly sure Kevin had watched her hand move, and pretended he hadn’t noticed, but that his breathing had changed while he watched.
Kevin had never mentioned it, and Nina had never brought it up, but ever since then she’d known that going to see Kevin wasn’t completely innocent, and her fantasies had been floating around, a little stronger.
Aaron kept asking now and then about the massages. Nina told him to calm down and back off, and mostly he did.
She decided she wanted a second opinion. She still saw Joe sometimes, because they worked near each other and had a lot of the same friends.
At a party one night, a bit tipsy, she asked him if he cared about Kevin. “God no,” Joe said. “And isn’t he gay?”
“Ah… no. He has a girlfriend. I told you.”
“Did you?” Joe actually seemed surprised. “Seriously? You get naked for a straight guy?”
“Naked under a towel. Do you mind? I mean, did you, back when?”
Joe seemed to be thinking.
Nina suddenly understood. “You didn’t realize?”
“Maybe not. But…”
“Would you have cared if you’d known?”
“Nah, not really. My doctor’s a chick, so….” He shrugged.
“I wasn’t always under a towel.”
“Does that make a difference?”
“Ah, Nina, we broke up, remember?”
“I’m trying to work something out. What’s reasonable.”
“By asking if I’d be upset?”
“I just wasn’t sure. I was talking to someone at work, and she thought it was weird.”
“Yeah right,” Joe said, looking at her carefully. “Someone at work, was it?”
“What’s that mean?”
Joe was grinning. “I know you too well. The new guy cares, doesn’t he?”
Nina sat there for a while thinking about loyalty. Then said, “No.”
Joe kept grinning, because he’d always been able to tell when she was lying, and he knew he could tell, and that had always pissed her off a little bit, and he knew that too.
“Explain to me,” she said. “Why you don’t care. I sort of need to know for Aaron.”
“I don’t know. I trusted you. And if you trusted this guy, and wanted him to be your guy, then it’s fine.” Joe thought for a moment, then added, “But yeah, if he did anything back then, tell me, and I’ll, you know, go break his face and shit.”
“You’ll break his face?”
“Of course I’ll break his face.”
Nina thought about that for a moment, and how unlikely it was. Because even if Joe knew how to go about breaking faces, she was pretty sure Kevin could look after himself.
“Okay,” she said. “But only if he did something I didn’t want?”
“Of course. Only if he hurt you. Not just for seeing you naked.”
“Well, he doesn’t really… Like maybe a glimpse, if I slip.”
Joe seemed confused.
“There’s towels over me, you dick,” she said. “He moves them, and rubs me.”
“Oh right. I just assumed…”
“Spread-eagled on my back with his hands all over me?”
“Yeah, something like that.”
Nina sat there for a while, looking at Joe. Looking, and thinking, and remembering how when he got like this she’d always thought it was sweet, rather than infuriating.
“I really like you,” she said.
“I like you.”
She tried to decide if she sounded tipsy. She probably did, but she didn’t care.
“I always liked you,” she said. “And I don’t like that we broke up.”
Joe seemed surprised by that too. “I don’t either, but it was the best thing to do, right?”
“So what’s going on?”
Nina shrugged. “I don’t know. Just you’re you. And I knew you pretty well. And you trust me.”
Nina smiled, and patted his hand, and then just sat there for a moment, looking around at the party, at friends she hadn’t seen as often as she ought to, thinking about how complicated life got.
“What if I’d slept with him,” she said suddenly. “Would you break his face then?”
“The massage guy?”
There was a silence. A deep, sudden silence that seemed to be sucking other people in the room into itself.
“Why?” Joe said, after a moment, very carefully. “Did you?”
“God no. Kevin? That’s like… sleeping with your gyno. He’s seen all my wrinkles and cellulite.”
“I don’t think you have enough to put anyone off.”
She smiled. Joe really could be sweet. “But still,” she said. “Would you? Like start a fight with him or something?”
“If you wanted me to, sure.”
“But you wouldn’t want to just for you?”
“Probably not. Why?”
“Just wondered. The woman at work. She thought her boyfriend would.”
“Yeah,” Joe said. “The woman at work. Of course.”
Nina looked at him for a moment, then stood up.
“You don’t need to go,” Joe said, grinning.
“I like you,” Nina said, “But you’re a dickhead,” and she went to talk to someone else, anyone else who wasn’t going to put her on the spot as awkwardly as Joe did.
“I could give you massages,” Aaron said a few weeks later, while they were lying in bed one night.
Nina lay there for a while, thinking. “Don’t be a dick.”
“Or you could find a woman.”
“I like a man.”
Aaron went silent.
“Don’t sulk. I don’t want a woman,” Nina said.
Aaron didn’t answer.
“Joe never cared,” Nina said.
“Joe was a fucking idiot. Because he let you go.”
“Don’t…” Nina said, then decided this wasn’t the time to defend an ex. And she supposed Aaron had a point about letting her go.
She looked at Aaron. He was usually fairly calm, and didn’t speak so strongly. Except about Kevin.
“I’m just saying,” Aaron said. “Joe let the most perfect woman in the world wander off. He’s an idiot.”
Nina lay there for a moment, smiling, then slid over enough she could kiss him. Maybe everything would be all right between them, she decided.
She kept seeing Kevin, though. And she kept wondering how far she could take things. Thinking about Kevin at the wrong times, in the shower, or when she was with Aaron. It was Aaron’s worry that was making her wonder, she thought. Aaron being jealous made it seem there was something to be jealous of. Which meant that maybe it was worth making a pass at Kevin.
She almost wanted to try.
One afternoon, sprawled on her front, Kevin’s oily hands all over her ass, she decided she would.
Just to see. Just to get it out her system. So Kevin would say no, and then she’d get embarrassed and stop thinking about him, and it would be done, and she could get on with her life and stop fantasizing.
She’d worked out the how often enough in her imagination, so she simply did what she’d thought about.
“Keep going,” she murmured. Kevin was rubbing her butt, was already halfway down between her legs. She moved her knee, slid her foot off the bed, spread her ass, spread herself out more.
Kevin didn’t answer, and just kept rubbing where he ought to be. Not down between her legs.
“Please?” she said, without looking around.
“Maybe we should talk,” Kevin said.
“Don’t be a dick, just touch me.”
“I am too.”
She turned her head, looked back at him. “Please.”
He sighed. He seemed reluctant.
Nina noticed, and suddenly she felt bad. She felt awful she was pressuring him, and decided this had been a terrible mistake. She opened her mouth, was about to say never mind, when he slid his hand downwards. Slid down her ass and up her leg and slithered his oily fingers over her.
She gasped, and closed her eyes, and pressed her face down onto the massage table.
And Kevin fingered her.
He was inside her, spreading her lips, reaching just far enough she could push down with her hips and feel him well.
After a while, turned on by the slither of his fingers and the wrongness of what she was doing, she came.
Kevin wiped his hand quickly, and went back to massaging her legs like nothing had happened. Nina lay there, breathing fast, trying to decide whether she should say thank you or not.
Suddenly she felt ashamed.
A little later, while he was cleaning up, Kevin said, “I’m not going to have sex with you.”
Nina was still on the table. She looked up at him, puzzled, and said, “I didn’t ask you to.”
“I’m just trying to be clear. This is an awkward situation, and I could lose my job if it goes wrong.”
“Lose your job?”
“If you complain. I can’t go around touching customers like that.”
“Oh,” Nina said. “I didn’t mean…”
She sat up and looked at him. Sat there, and for once checked the towel was around her properly. She felt like she’d done something awful. Like she’d just cheated on Aaron, after promising she wouldn’t, and like she’d made Kevin do something he wasn’t comfortable with.
She’d made Kevin do it. She was just starting to realize that.
That was terrible too.
“I won’t make problems,” she said. “I promise.”
Kevin nodded, but he didn’t look happy.
“I’d never do anything like that,” Nina said. “Like make a fuss. You know that, right?”
“I know. That’s why I’m saying this, so you understand there’d be consequences for me.”
“So listen. I’m never going to have sex with you. I’m never going to go down on you. You aren’t going to do me, either.”
She looked at him for a moment. “If I was offering…”
“Okay. So what was that just then?”
“If you’d like hand relief, I’ll help you out.”
“Hand relief?” Nina said. It sounded like a dirty old man in a brothel. She flushed, and almost got annoyed, then realized that was basically what she was.
It was exactly what she was.
She’d just pressured Kevin into getting her off, and he had because they knew each other and he liked her, and that was a horrible thing to do.
“Shit,” she said. “Oh fuck, I’m so sorry. I…”
“No it isn’t. I just…”
“Yeah you did. But it’s fine. I wouldn’t have done it if I minded that much.”
Nina looked at him, and decided he meant it. She felt a little better. Then she felt awful for worrying about herself feeling better, when she was the one in the wrong.
“Does your girlfriend know about me?” she said.
“I’ll tell her about this, yeah.”
“What you just did?”
He nodded. “I don’t lie to her.”
“Oh. It isn’t really lying…”
“It is if I don’t say anything. What else would you call it?”
Nina nodded. He was right.
“Listen,” Kevin said. “If you want me to keep doing that, I can. I’m more than happy to.”
“No you aren’t.”
“I really don’t mind. For some clients.”
Nina looked at him and decided he was serious. “Well if it’s a chore…”
He grinned. “It’s up to you. Whatever you like.”
Nina nodded. She felt a little better still. It was natural they’d ended up here, she supposed. All the nudity and oil and getting to know each other. She’d had an impulse, and it wasn’t that terrible she’d asked, just that she should have made it asking, not pressuring him to do it.
It wasn’t that bad, she decided. It could have been awkward, but they were talking their way through it.
She still wasn’t sure about getting fingered, though. “I’m not sure,” she said.
“I’d like to. If you want me to. But only if you want me to.”
Nina thought. “I don’t know.”
“That’s fine. When you decide let me know.”
She nodded, still a little awkward just talking about it like this.
“But please don’t tell anyone else,” Kevin said. “Okay? No friends, no laughing about this later. If it gets back to anyone here…”
Nina nodded. “You get I’m paying you to jerk me off, right? Which is kind of embarrassing. So as far as telling friends goes, I really wouldn’t have though you needed to say that bit.”
Kevin grinned again, and said, “I’m being careful.”
“Okay.” Nina sat there a while longer. “This is weird.”
“Kind of hot, but weird.”
“Are you sure you don’t want me to jerk you off,” she said. “Just once, so we’re even?”
“We’re even because you pay me.”
“Okay,” she said, and felt a little awkward again. Put in her place. “If you’re sure.”
Nina spent the week thinking about Kevin’s offer, and whether she should accept, and if she did whether it would change things between them because she quite liked having him as a friend.
She also wondered if she should pay him more, if he was going to get her off, and how on earth she could ask without being embarrassed.
“I wondered,” Nina said, sitting on the edge of the massage table a week later. “Had you ever thought about doing that to me before? Or hitting on me? Or did that just happen because I made you.”
He folded some towels, and didn’t look at her. Nina waited.
“You’re a client,” he said in the end.
Kevin didn’t answer.
“Remember I said I had a fight with my boyfriend about you,” Nina said. “He was jealous, was all. I said it wasn’t like that, but then I wondered if perhaps it was.”
“Nina, you’re a client. I like you, but you’re a client.”
She looked at him, trying to decide what that meant.
“Do you do your job well?” Kevin said. “As well as you can? Not letting things get in the way, trying to get it done.”
“So do I.”
Nina thought, and was fairly sure she understood. She was also fairly sure that settled whether she was going to pay him to finger her.
“Yeah,” she said after a minute. “That’s what I thought. Sorry.”
“No, I’m sorry…”
“I shouldn’t have asked.”
“I understand why you’d want to check.”
Nina smiled, a bit sadly. “And I imagine it’s very awkward for you,” she said. “How do you tell someone she isn’t as hot as she thinks she is.”
“That she isn’t worth loosing a career over.”
“That isn’t what…”
“Yeah it is. And someone had to say it.”
“I like my job. No-one’s worth losing my job over. And I love Amanda. I just love her, and I wouldn’t hurt her like that. That’s the actual reason.”
“If there was anyone, though, it’d be you.”
Nina assumed he’d have said that to anyone. “Yeah right.”
“Honest truth. But I love Amanda, so no.”
Nina sat there for a while, thinking. “Thank you,” she said.
“It’s really all right.”
Nina nodded. After a moment, thinking, she said, “You really are my hairdresser. You give good advice.”
“Maybe without meaning to. I want to love someone like you do. So it’s just obvious that’s what’s there. And I’ve never felt like that. Not once.”
“What about the new guy?”
Nina sat there for a while, then shrugged. “Maybe.”
“In time. It always takes time.”
“Hairdresser,” Nina said. She looked around. “This is all getting too weird. Go away now, I want to get undressed.”
Kevin grinned and put down his towels.
“And hey,” she said. “No to the rest, okay? To what you offered.”
Kevin nodded, and pulled the door closed, and left her alone.