MERRILY, MERRILY, MERRILEE

2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 Martha S. Robinson

CHAPTER ELEVEN


Bran Elliot lay in his room, in a disturbing state of disquiet. Hed expected to retire to his bed, and sleep like a rock, having just spent a very enjoyable interlude awakening Merrilee to some of lifes finer pastimes. That shed been willing was no real surprise, he decided-he considered himself very persuasive, but that shed set about to seduce him had come as a shock. Shed mentioned the idea when shed been tipsy, but hed never dreamed that shed actually give it a try. He chuckled as he thought of her attempts to get him to touch her, and of how hed planned a leisurely, well orchestrated seduction only to find that the gentle flame hed intended to ignite had turned into a raging inferno that had consumed them both.

Laying back, he thought of how hed caressed her, and of how natural her body had felt against his, and of how shed responded almost before hed touched her. In his mind, he went over the scene again and again, recalling her creamy breasts, her slender waist, her wanton lips, reliving the experience until he realized that he wanted her all over again. All over him! But, she wasnt with him-no, he wasnt with her. One of his all time stupid moves had been to walk out of the bedroom leaving her alone.

Definitely not one of his wiser moves, he decided, aching with renewed desire. Hed sought to awaken her, and had succeeded. How well hed succeeded! Now, he was the one awakened, and still awake. He could hardly go back into her room and ask for another go round, now could he? Besides being in exceedingly poor taste, it would let her know just how interested in her he was, and he wasnt quite sure that he wanted anybody, especially Merrilee, to know that just yet. There was nothing more dangerous than a woman who knew that she was desired, and come to think of it, nothing sexier. But, desired she was, and miserable he was, more miserable than hed ever been in his life.

So, why had he made that crack about there being a world of brunettes out there? He couldve stayed there all night, making love to her as many times as hed been able, and shed have been receptive. He knew it in his gut, and now, that gut was twisting with raging need, as if taunting him for the way hed treated her. Hed left. Callously. Not so much as a thank you, it was lovely. Hed treated it as if it was nothing more than a bit of harmless recreation, or a test of her sexuality. God! How could he have been such a complete jerk?

For a moment, he considered returning to her room and telling her that...what would he say? Hey, Merrilee, you were great! Best Ive ever had! Want to do it again? Jeez!! He could just imagine her reaction, hell, his own, if he were between her sheets, and it wouldnt be nice. No, better to let bad enough alone. So, he shut his eyes and willed himself to sleep, which he did much later, and not at all well.

Dawn awakened Merrilee, and she gave a small catlike stretch, smiling to herself. She eased out of the bed, brushed her teeth, looking at her reflection in the mirror. There was something new in her eyes, a new sense of herself, and she liked it. She slipped on the bikini, the wraparound skirt, and the backless heels, while she planned on an early morning swim. This time, however, it was no fantasy that caused her hips to sway provocatively, and Bran, whod sought relief from a fitful sleep, saw her.

He groaned deeply, and dove back into the pool Merrilee, fully aware of her charms and more importantly, of their effect on Bran, took more time than was necessary to remove her skirt, wishing for a moment that it had a zipper to stick. Finally, she emerged from it, and smiling, walked over to the edge of the pool.

Mother Nature, in her infinite wisdom, has given the female of the species an innate ability to be maddening, to mystify the male, but more than that, to be perverse. There are those females whove spent years trying to overcome the basic differences between the sexes, attempting to meet men on their own turf, to deny their femininity. Merrilee, for some time, had been one of them, though more from her own feelings of inadequacy than anything else. Brought in one devastating night to see the error of her thinking, a changed woman met Bran, diving into the water, and slicing across the pool in a manner calculated to gain his attention. She succeeded.

"Good morning," she greeted with a smile that rivaled the desert sun with its warmth. "Has the sky ever been so blue, or the air so clean?" She lay on her back, and floated close to him.

"Good morning?" he managed, treading water next to her, his eyes fixed on the prickly pear cactus at pool side. He dared not look at the object of his innumerable fantasies, indeed, his all consuming desire, until he got his body back under control. Unfortunately, it wasnt interested in cooperation, just in Merrilee.

Merrilee, the object of said fantasies, made a point of looking at the spiky plant with its broad, pan shaped, gray green leaves and asked, "Does it talk?"

"What?"

"The cactus. I know that the native Americans used them for a variety of purposes, but I didnt know that they carried on conversations with them."

Bran turned his gaze to her and smiled. Damn but she looked good! Better than any fantasy! "Uh, no, to my knowledge, they dont talk. I guess I was distracted."

"No problem," she said, beginning to backstroke around the pool. "Whats on our agenda for today?"

"Not much. We review all our information on Drake, pack, and thats about it."

"Sounds easy enough." She swam past him, aware of him, and of his awareness of her. Finally, she stopped next to him and looked lazily into his eyes. It was incredible that even in the cool water of the pool, he could make her blood heat. "Bran, about last night.."

His smile vanished, and he wondered what shed say. Did her good mood mean that she thought he was in love with her? How was he going to get out of this? Worse yet, did he even want to get out of it? Trapped, he asked, "What about last night?"

The imp of perversity that had nudged Merrilee in Texas, nudged her again, and she smiled sweetly, still floating in the water. "I just wanted to thank you. It was wonderful. I admit that I set out to teach you something, but it seems that youve taught me something instead. I wanted to open your eyes to the fact that there was more out there in the world, but it appears that my own eyes have been opened to that same fact.

"Bran, Ive missed so much, and now Im going to find out everything that Ive been missing! And I have you to thank for it!" With that, she resumed backstroking around the pool, careful to swim by him as often as possible, her movements causing the fabric of her swimsuit to strain against her. His swimsuit was under no less stress, Bran thought, disgustedly. Merrilee stopped again, barely a stroke away. "You know, Im really looking forward to Savannah." Flashing a dazzling smile, she swam over to t he edge and climbed out, waving as she grabbed her things and then disappeared into the house.

Bran was numb with horror. Fortunately for him, treading water was automatic, else hed have sank slowly to the bottom of the pool. As he watched the young woman enter the house, he felt much as Dr. Frankenstein must have felt when his monster had walked off without him. What had he done? Good God!! What would she do? As impulsive as she was, as enthusiastic as she was, what disaster was awaiting? He was pulling himself out of the water when Aunt Emma stroke out of the house, the flaming orange marabou boas waving about her head in an agitated frenzy.

"Have you been making love to Merrilee?" she asked, mincing no words with her only relative. Bran was appalled at his own reaction. He blushed to the roots of his hair, like a teenager discovered with his girlfriend in the back seat of the family car, and just stood there. "Have you?"

He nodded, and she sniffed. "I thought so. Youve really done it now. The way she looks and acts, shes thinking about taking on the whole male population!"

"She could probably handle them," he gritted. "I thought she was a shy, backward little thing whod be so easy to deal with."

"She was," sniped Aunt Emma, though she was smiling to herself. The older woman was delighted at the way things were going, and she had an excellent idea of the way Merrilees mind worked. "Of course, now shell fill the role of Marilyn MacKenzie even better. You realize that the author changes men like most women change their clothes."

"You made that author up," objected Bran, heatedly. "Merrilee has more sense than that."

"Does she? She was all but innocent when you brought her here. You may have taught her about sex, Bran. Did you teach her that it was a pleasant recreation? An enjoyable way to spend an evening? You taught her the mechanics, but did you teach her the meaning? Do you even know it yourself?" With that, Aunt Emma stalked off briskly in search of the morning paper, the electric orange boas and royal purple lounging outfit flapping around her ankles.

Bran, on the other hand, was wondering if there was a chance to undo the damage hed obviously done. Hed awakened a relative innocent to the glories of passion without awakening her conscience and good sense. Hed unleashed a walking pleasure palace upon an unsuspecting male population, and with a feeling of foreboding, he headed into the house.

The pleasure palace was busily spooning sugar into her coffee, and she flashed him another smile. "Coffee, tea, or...?" Merrilee gave her lips a quick lick, taking a secret delight in the dumbfounded way his mouth dropped open. Evidently, her shock treatment was working.

"uh, coffee." She handed him a cup, filled it, and sat down to an enormous plate of pancakes dripping with maple syrup. "Isnt that a lot?" he asked eyeing her breakfast.

"Im going to need my energy," she explained. "Bran, I feel absolutely wonderful!"

"Great," he muttered as Ms. Lowden loaded his plate with a similar meal, adding sausage links. "Merrilee, we need to talk."

"So talk." She met his eyes over a cup of coffee. "Anything at all."

"I mean after breakfast. Privately."

"Id enjoy that," she smiled, winking at him.

Bran winced as though shed struck him, and managed about half the pancakes before he gave up in disgust. Excusing himself, he left the table and headed back to his room where he changed into a well worn pair of denim shorts and a tee shirt. As he pulled on the shirt, he wondered what hed say to her. Why should he say anything? She ought to have sense enough to behave herself! Why should she be his responsibility, anyway? He didnt care, not really, did he? He paused there, wondering briefly what he was asking himself, returning to the issue that his mind had danced around last night. Did he care about Merrilee. Really care? Did she honestly mean more to him than hed been prepared to admit? That line of introspection was damnedly uncomfortable, so he refocused his thoughts on the problem at hand. How had he gotten himself into this mess, anyhow? He didnt even bother to ask himself if hed do it all over again. He knew.

Seconds later, Merrilee knocked at his door. He opened it, and with an uncertain temper, jerked her inside, closing the door behind her. She stood staring at him, the man she loved, and again, that built-in imp whispered instructions into her willing ear. She gave a slow smile, and then fitted herself to him, reaching her arms around his neck, rubbing the tips of her breasts against his chest. "Lets...talk." She pulled his head down to hers and took his lips in a long, steamy kiss. This was communication at a very basic level, she thought, her resolve weakening at the onslaught of his sensual touch.

Feeling himself responding in spite of his need to do otherwise, Bran pulled her arms from his neck and held her off. It was insane, when all he really wanted to do was to hold her, make long, lasting love to her. "Merrilee, thats not what I wanted you here for."

"No?" she pouted. "I thought you wanted me."

"I did. I do. But, you have to understand that you cant go around like that."

"Like what?"

"Like youre planning on seducing any available male."

"I wont," she promised him. "Ill be selective."

"Thats not what I meant, either. You cant just go around looking like this." He gestured at the silky, dusty rose blouse that shed donned, and the clinging skirt that matched it. She looked lovely, provocative and more desirable than ever. "Its all wrong. Its not you."

"It is now," she purred, running her fingers over his shoulders, then up his neck and into his hair. "Really, Bran. You should see the delicious underwear that I have on." With a courage born of the need to prove something to him, she unbuttoned her blouse, and opened it, showing him her lacy, sheer bra. "Front fastener."

Somewhere, between anger and exasperation, Bran reached over and busily rebuttoned her blouse. "You cant just go around opening your blouse like that."

"Why not? Youve seen me in less. Nothing, in fact. Didnt you like what you saw? Didnt I please you?"

"You pleased me," he began, and she beamed, throwing herself into his arms.

"Then, lets do it again!"

"No!"

"Why not? Too tired?"

"No!" His patience was wearing very thin, what with having Merrilee throwing herself at him, willing to do what he wanted very badly to do. "It isnt right."

"I dont understand," she said slowly, dropping all pretense. All the flirtatious, wanton behavior had vanished, and she allowed her pain-filled words to sink in. "Last night it was all right, and it didnt mean anything to you then. Why isnt it right now?" She turned her back to him and stood quietly, waiting for him to answer.

Then she turned to face him. "Bran, last night you taught me to enjoy something that I honestly knew very little about. You taught me that men and women could enjoy themselves and each other, and then walk away like you do after a tennis match. I liked making love with you, Bran. I never knew I could feel like that, to give and receive pleasure. I want to feel that way again." But only with you! She wanted to say, but dared not. She hated her own cowardice, but knew that if he rejected her, she might not have the courage to tell him again. "If not with you, then..." and she opened the room, leaving Bran alone with several questions of his own.