tagRomanceHarvest of Expectations Ch. 13

Harvest of Expectations Ch. 13


Chapter 13 — Commencement

August 1974

It was four in the Saturday afternoon of August 24. Jim was in the driver's seat and Hildy was next to him in the passenger's bucket seat of the '71 Mercury Cougar that Douglas Chemical had sold to him. They were in the parking lot of the Erie Canal Inn as about a dozen people surrounded the car, wishing them well.

After a few moments, the small crowd stepped aside. Jim put the car in gear and it was official that he and Hildy were on their honeymoon.

"You can't get on the Thruway with that stuff tied to the back of the car," Hildy said.

"I know," Jim answered. "Darlene and Tom think I didn't see them tie it on just before we came out. I'll let them think it for a few seconds longer."

He drove to the exit of the parking lot and put on his turn signal. He glanced in the rear view mirror and could see that the small crowd was still watching them. Jim put the car in Park and then got out of the car and made his way to the back of it.

"Now I can win my Oscar," he said to himself.

Jim threw up his hands in an 'o-my-gosh' pose and then untied the "Just Married" sign, streamers and cans that Darlene and his brother had put there. He set the material on the grass alongside the parking lot. In a half minute he was back in the car and he and Hildy were on the road. The small crowd watched and cheered them as he got back into the car.

They were on their way to the Interstate. Their plan was to stop in a motel in Utica where they'd made reservations—about three hours to the east.

"I'm so happy, I could burst!" Hildy exclaimed and threw her arms in the air as they reached the State Highway.

The next morning they would turn north for four days at an isolated cottage on Long Lake in the Adirondacks. After that, they would be moving to Jim's apartment near the campus and Jim would be preparing for his Masters work.

"It was a nice wedding," Jim said, "even if it was a small one."

It was a small wedding by any standard. After Hildy and Jim announced their engagement to his parents that Saturday in June they drove out to Hildy's parents' house to tell them and try to patch things up. Old Herbert threw them out and Hildy's mother started to cry. It was sad, but Jim and Hildy tried to make the best of it and hoped something would work out when the time was right.

"I'm glad that your father decided to come to the wedding after all," Jim said.

"I guess I am, too, after everything. I wasn't convinced at first."

"We've got to leave an opening to mend fences sometime in the future," Jim said. "It's not right for families to be divided."

Old Herbert appeared at the last moment in the chapel just before the ceremony with Hildy's mother and Aunt Mildred in tow. It had been unknown until that moment whether he was going to attend or not. He copped a dour attitude, but it was good that he had shown up. No one thought that he would until Jim's brother showed him and the two ladies to their seats.

"It was lucky that we had extra chairs ready to set in the front for them," Hildy said.

With Hildy's family assumed to be out of the picture, Jim and his parents decided on a small ceremony with an intimate dinner at the Erie Canal Inn afterward. Hildy wore a light blue, sleeveless dress and Jim wore his navy suit. It seemed a bit silly to go for the big wedding gown and tuxes with such a small wedding party.

Jim invited Rich to be his best man, but his old roommate couldn't get away from his new job in Illinois. Jim's younger brother, Tom, had just turned eighteen and filled in. Darlene stood up for Hildy.

There was an aunt and uncle of Jim's from Buffalo whom Jim couldn't leave out. To Jim's surprise, Professor Stark attended with his wife. It was an unexpected honor and Jim was flattered. Add in Jim's parents, and that was the whole wedding.

There were, of course, the priest who married them and an associate priest, whom Jim had known during his school years, who asked if he could assist.

"Are you disappointed you couldn't get married in your own church?" Jim asked.

"No," she answered. "This was nice."

After Jim and Hildy finished their visit that Saturday in June Herb was on the phone to the Lutheran minister at Hildy's church. Later, when Hildy approached the minister, he refused her, according to Old Herbert's wishes.

It had hurt Hildy when it happened. She told Jim, and he consoled her by saying that it was her final break between past and future.

"Let's just find a JP who will do it for ten dollars," Hildy had said.

"No, it will be in a church," Jim insisted, and so it was.

Jim's parish priest hadn't helped, either. Jim approached his pastor for help. Then the elderly priest called Hildy's minister and found that Old Herbert refused his consent to the marriage.

"Get yourself straight with the bride's father and then come back and see me," he told Jim.

In the end, two priests from the Jesuit high school Jim had attended were glad to perform the ceremony. They were married in the tiny school chapel. It was Fr. Baldwin who officiated and Fr. Hoffman, who had been Jim's math teacher for two of his four years, assisted.

"My pastor wasn't very happy when he found out the Jesuits were willing to do it," Jim said. "The Jesuits and our regular church guys are always at each others' throats."

"You can't please everyone," Hildy rejoined.

"I should have said my ex-pastor," Jim corrected himself.

They stopped at the toll booth to the Thruway and Jim took the ticket and stuck it in the visor.

"Do you wish that it had been a big wedding?" Jim asked

"I gave up that idea when I had my troubles with Henri in high school," Hildy said. "What about you?"

"Well," Jim said, "if there had been more guests we could have raked in a lot of wedding gifts. Think of all the blenders and carving sets we'd have in the back seat right now."

"Wise guy," Hildy said. "I was hoping that I could have a piece of wedding cake shoved in my face. When you have the frosting in your nostrils it really makes you appreciate it. You don't know how girls dream about that."

Jim looked over and could see that she was covering up a laugh while she waited for him to catch up with her joke.

"Honestly, I think my parents would have liked something more traditional, but they understood the situation. For my part, anytime I can avoid wearing a tux it has to be considered a good day."

Hildy was looking at the new rings on her finger. They were shiny gold. Jim had only saved enough money for a very modest diamond two weeks before the ceremony. He had almost been too embarrassed to give it to her.

"Someday I'll buy you a decent diamond in a nice setting," Jim said.

"No!" Hildy gasped. "I would never part with this ring."

"But Hildy," Jim pleaded, "it was the cheapest stone they had in the store. Someday..."

"It doesn't matter, Jim. This will be a reminder of how we started out. I don't ever want to forget these days, and I'll never let this ring out of my sight."

It was a coin with two sides and Jim could see the heads and tails of it. It was Hildy's ring, after all, so she could keep it if that's what she wanted to do.

"It was nice of your father to put on the wedding dinner," Hildy said.

"It was," Jim agreed. "I'm glad that we stipulated 'no gifts' to the attendees."

"Well, your parents' gift was the reception," Hildy reminded him.

"My father slipped me a check to cover the honeymoon, too," Jim said. "I was going to tell you later."

As they drove along they were quiet for a while. Jim was reflecting, not just on the day, but everything over the past year that had led to the moment that he was living in at that time and place.

"How much longer do we have to drive before we get there?" Hildy asked

"We just started out twenty minutes ago, Hildy. We've got over two hours left."

"Let's see," Hildy said, "It's about four-thirty now. We'll get there at seven. Ten minutes to check in and..."

"What are you talking about, Hildy?"

"Just doing some calculating," she said.

"Calculating for what?"

Hildy took a deep breath. Jim looked over and she was sitting up straight and her face was bright red.

"I've tried to be reserved about this," she said, "and I haven't mentioned it at all..."

"Mentioned what?"

She hesitated for a moment.

"We're married now, Hildy. You shouldn't hesitate to tell me what's on your mind."

"Well," she began, "wedding days are nice enough. But after every wedding day comes a wedding night, and you know..."

Jim bit his lip in order to keep from laughing at her.

"Stop laughing at me," she said. "It's all I've been able to think about since we said the 'I do's'. That was over three hours ago and I can hardly bear the wait any longer!"

She reached across the center console between her and Jim's seat and ran her hand up Jim's thigh.

"Hildy! I'm driving. If I run the car off the road you'll be waiting more than another two hours."

She was laughing and Jim could tell she was happy. When Hildy tossed aside her worries she could be a lot of fun. He had to admit, he was feeling a few urges, himself.

"Would you like me to pull into the next rest area and get the deed done?" he asked.

"If you didn't have these bucket seats I might take you up on that," she said. "Where's the Rustmobile when you need it?"

It had been a sunny day but it was beginning to cloud over.

"I hope that's not rain moving in," Jim said. "We're due for some. It would be a shame to rain on our honeymoon. We've only got four days."

"I hope it does rain," Hildy said. "I hope it rains the whole time—real hard. Then we'll be stuck inside with nothing to do—if you know what I mean"

Jim was laughing at her again.

"How much champagne did you have to drink?" he asked her.

"Just a couple," she said. "I don't want you to think I'm crude. It's just that..."

"It's okay, Hildy. I just drank a half-glass, since I'm driving and all. Besides, I don't want anything dulling my senses after we've checked into our room."

"That's more like it," she purred.

"You see, Hildy," he said, "'I've got the same thing on my mind, but I guess that I don't express it as well as you do."

"How much longer now?" she asked, and burst out laughing.

Jim had something else on his mind. He knew he had to bring it up and time was wasting.

"Hildy, there's something else we need to discuss," he said. "You may be surprised to find this out, but I have to tell you..."

"What?" she asked

"I don't know how to say this. It's kind of—you know... Well the fact is I've..."

"Never had sex before?" she said. "I've known that from the start."

"From the start?"

Jim didn't want to believe it.

"Did Rich tell you?"

Hildy was laughing so hard she was almost unable to stop and answer him.

"No one told me," she assured him at last. "I could just tell. There were too many hints."

"Hints?" Jim asked.

"Like our first night in the Rustmobile—you were so clumsy—and you didn't have a condom ready. I was pretty sure then. And as time went on a lot of other things just made me more and more sure it was true."

Jim shook his head.

"Why didn't you say something, Hildy?"

She hadn't stopped laughing.

"I know guys want everyone to think they have a lot of experience. I didn't want to hurt your feelings."

"I should have admitted it at the start, I suppose."

"You're hilarious," Hildy said. "Besides, what are you worried about? In a little while it will all be in the past. And, I'll get to break you in—I can't wait. So, don't complain."

"I used to call it my problem."

His revelation set her laughing anew.

She ran her hand up his thigh again. Jim waited for her to stop laughing.

"You're going to be gentle with me, aren't you?" he asked.

That made her laugh even harder. Tears were streaming down her cheeks."

"Not a chance!" she exclaimed. "I'm going to turn you inside out—but you'll thank me in a few days after you recover."

She peeked at him out of the corner of her eye. Jim wondered what other zingers she had for him, but he decided that it hadn't hurt very much. She was stroking his thigh up and down.

"Maybe you should drive a little faster," she said.

"I don't have to, Hildy. That's the hotel right up there," he told her as he stopped at a red light.

"So, are you ready?" she asked.

"When we get to the room do you want me to rip your clothes off and throw you onto the bed?"

"Hardly," she said and then lowered her voice. "I have something nice to put on for you."


Jim checked in at the motel desk while Hildy waited in the car. He came back out and drove to the wing where their room was—at least according to Jim's understanding of the directions the desk clerk gave him. When he thought he was there he parked the car.

"Our room is on the second floor. Do we need all of these?" he asked Hildy as he looked at the trunk full of suitcases.

"Just those two," Hildy said.

He had a duffel bag of his own to bring, so he handed one of Hildy's pieces of luggage to her and took the other two and slammed the trunk closed.

"We're in room two-sixty-eight," he announced.

They walked together through the parking lot. Jim glanced to the side and noticed that Hildy was a lot taller than him because of the heels she was wearing. They hadn't changed clothes from those they wore at the wedding ceremony. It reminded him of the first time he had noticed her at the company softball game and the hot pants she had worn that night.

"If it hadn't been for those hot pants, and those legs coming out of them—who knows?" he mused to himself as they walked.

In a minute they were standing at the door to their room.

"Here it is," he said, "Two-sixty-eight. Do you want me to carry you across the threshold?"

"If you want to skip it I won't tell anyone," Hildy said.

Jim unlocked the door and they stepped into the room.

"Why don't you take a quick shower and shave and I'll unpack a few things while you do," Hildy said.


Jim had put on a pair of cotton pajama bottoms before he came out of the bathroom. Hildy was standing at the sink outside the bathroom door. When Jim tried to squeeze past her Hildy stroked her hand up Jim's bare chest and dug her fingers into his pectoral muscle.

"Nice," she said as he stood still and enjoyed what she was doing to him.

Hildy released him and grabbed one of her suitcases. She went into the bathroom.

"I'll be out in a while," she said and then closed the door.

"A while?"

He wondered what had happened to the blushing bride that had nearly ripped his pants off in the car during the drive over. When Hildy had explored his chest muscles his brain had sent a message that it was time to get started. The delay agitated him.

He had packed a bottle of champagne in his duffle bag. He thought it would be nice for later. There was always an ice bucket in these motel rooms. He found it and put on a tee-shirt and picked up the room key. He slipped out the door on a quest for the ice machine as he heard the shower start to run in the bathroom.

In a little while Jim returned with the ice. It occurred to him to hang the 'DO NOT DISTURB' sign on the outside door handle and as the door closed behind him the lock in the handle click shut.. He slid the door chain into its slot for good measure. Then, he ran some cold water into the ice bucket and plunked in the champagne bottle. The double bed was made, so he stripped off the bedspread and turned down the blankets and sheet. He sat down and propped up a pillow as a cushion between him and the headboard. And then, he waited.

The shower turned off at the time he returned with the ice, and Jim deemed that a promising sign. It was closing in on eight-thirty and even though Hildy had pulled back the heavy drapes from the window, the light from outdoors was waning. Jim closed the heavy drapes. There was a small light over the sink outside the bathroom. Jim let it stay on and it gave just enough light to see.

He threw off the tee shirt that he had put on when he went out in search of ice, but kept the cotton pajama bottoms on. He stayed on the bed waiting for Hildy to appear. A ventilation fan inside the bathroom was running and that was all he could hear.

It was difficult for Jim to remain seated on the bed. He thought about knocking on the bathroom door to make sure that Hildy was okay and maybe speed her up a touch, but he stopped himself from doing that.

The remote for the television was on the nightstand next to him. He thought about turning on the TV to pass the time. That would have been a mistake, he concluded—to be seen idling away watching a baseball game while he should have been on pins and needles counting the minutes. So, he rejected that idea.

"I wonder if you can get piped-in music with this thing," he asked himself.

He doubted it, but thought he might try because he was nervous and his hands were insisting on finding something to do.

He decided to occupy himself in resolving the piped-in music question. He was fingering the remote, trying to decide which button to push when he heard the bathroom door latch click open and Hildy stepped out and took a few steps toward the bed where Jim was still sitting.

"I came out as soon as I could," she gushed.

She was wearing a satin negligee, which was long as it draped from her shoulders to just above the floor. The light blue color suited her. She had on some kind of slippers with small white cotton-like balls on the toes, which were peeking out from under the hem of the nightgown.

"I was thinking of coming in after you," Jim said, but he wasn't really concentrating on what he was saying. Instead he let his eyes travel the length of her body, wrapped in satin, as she stood several feet from the foot of the bed.

Her fair skin dominated his view; her shoulders and collarbone seemed to glow even against the light blue satin. They were defined and, though not appearing delicate, were of a slender woman's form.

"How do you like it? It's for you," she said in almost a whisper as she ruffled the loose fabric at the sides of the gown.

"I like you in it," Jim answered.

He hadn't yet risen from the bed, his physical excitement having come upon him and made him shy to stand up. His eyes kept tracing her outline. He saw that the gown tied in back of her neck, halter-style. Her breasts pushed out a just a bit against the shiny satin, as did her slender hips somewhat lower.

There was a slit cut from the bottom hem to her hip on the side of one leg. The pale flesh of her thigh looked back at him as the fabric swayed with the rhythm of Hildy's breath.

"What?" she asked.

Jim's eyes had become fixed on the slippers with the cotton balls on the toes.

"Hildy, you're too natural a woman to have little, white puffy things on your toes."

She looked straight at him, not bothering to glance at her feet.

"You're right," she said, and flicked one foot and then the other and the slippers flew off against the closet door where she'd hid their suitcases.

"Come to me," she said.

He knew that it was time, that there was no reason to hide his arousal that was tenting his pajamas. He stood and stepped to where she waited for him.

There was a subtle scent as he came close to her. It wasn't strong enough to be perfume, or even cologne. Jim realized it had to be scented bath powder. He breathed it in, unwilling to overlook even the smallest detail of the experience.

As they came together he leaned close and kissed her and she kissed him back. He reached out his bare arms and embraced her and she held him the same.

The skin of her bare back was smooth and soft on the outside, and firm underneath. He touched it from her shoulders, past her shoulder blades and down her spine to the small of her back. It gave him pleasure to feel every bone, muscle and curve that he found. He felt her fingers pressing into the muscles in his back. They broke the kiss, but stayed longer in the embrace. The feeling of her bare skin held him in place.

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