The Way to a Man's Heart

by Ben Best

[The following is an amateurish attempt at a first chapter of an unfinished novel. Readers who have found this page through a search-engine might be more interested in my essay Some Philosophizing About Love]

Katherine sat by herself in a corner of the main living room of the ski lodge. A wall of fire in the fireplace sent its blanket of blazing warmth onto the skiers who had gathered there for the evening. In the front of the hall a guitarist expertly mixed the sounds of her instrument with her sweet voice.

Suddenly Katherine saw Andrew, who smiled at her as he walked in her direction. Andrew had been a friend to her, helping her learn to ski and playfully flirting with her. Was he really attracted to her, or was he playing a game?

"You look like you could use some company," Andrew said as he put his arm around her, making himself close & cozy.

"Looks can be deceiving to a biased observer," Katherine replied.

"This biased observer also sees that you aren't pushing him away."

"You're lucky tonight. I'm too tired to push anyone away, even you."

"Then maybe I should try to push my luck a little further."

"Just how far do you want to go?" she asked.

"All the way to your bedroom."

"You can go there if you want, but we'll have to trade roomkeys so I'll have a place to sleep."

"But then we'd both end up lonely," Andrew said.

Katherine sat silently for a moment. She had been at the ski lodge for two weeks already and in another week it would be time to return to her job. She had no particular interest in skiing. She had come here because she was a homely-looking woman in her mid-twenties who had never slept with a man. If opportunity was presenting itself, this was probably as good as it was going to get.

"There is no need for us to be lonely if we don't have to be," Katherine finally replied.

Andrew pulled Katherine closer. They sat in silence listening to the music until the performance ended.

"My place or yours?" Andrew asked.

"We can use my place," she answered.

They walked together towards Katherine's room. Katherine tried to make small-talk, but she was filled with turmoil. Should she tell him she was a virgin? She began experiencing the eerie, otherworldly feeling that the safe structures of her life were crumbling away.

Katherine felt certain that this wasn't going to be as easy as Andrew imagined. She was afraid there would be physical pain.

Katherine led Andrew into her room, but she quickly lost all composure. She threw herself on her bed and buried her face into the pillow. Andrew stood looking at her with bewilderment.

"What's the matter?" he asked.

"I've never done this before," said Katherine, her voice cracking. "And I'm afraid it is going to hurt."

"We don't need to do it now," said Andrew.

"I've thought that too many times before," she replied.

"I'll be careful," said Andrew.

Katherine pulled open the drawer of the bedtable, revealing a supply of condoms and KY-jelly. "You'll have to use these," she said, her eyes still glistening with tears.

"If that's how it has to be done, then that's how we'll do it," said Andrew, as he mechanically began to remove his clothes.

Andrew was obviously a determined man, but he seemed willing to play by Katherine's rules. Andrew dutifully rolled-on a condom and covered it with KY-jelly. Katherine guided his shaft to the threshold that had never been crossed. Andrew began to press inward, but Katherine winced with pain and a sense of invasion.

"Please go slowly, Andrew. I feel so shy and sensitive."

Katherine was being touched in places she had never been touched before. It was new & exciting, but it was also invasive & terrifying.

"I'm sorry to be making trouble for you," Katherine sobbed. "I want you to enjoy yourself, but I need you to go slower."

"Alright," Andrew said, with resignation in his voice.

Andrew pressed very slowly and firmly, intermittently asking, "Does that hurt?" It did hurt some, but the jelly and the slowness of Andrew's progress helped a great deal. Katherine felt pain, but she also felt pleasure — pleasure at the closeness of their naked bodies, pleasure at the joining of their intimate parts and pleasure in the knowledge that she was opening-up what she had been afraid-of for so long.

It seemed that their activity was not much like sex and not much like lovemaking. It was almost like a medical surgery that they were working-on together. Yet as their cooperative project continued, there was an increasing tenderness.

Periodically Andrew would stop pressing and simply lay still with her, softly kissing her neck, her face, her lips. She felt a warm glow from the pulse of his shaft as it rested within her. Then he slowly resumed his journey deeper and deeper within. She was profoundly opening herself to Andrew. She was touched by the care he was taking. Did it mean that he really cared for her? Or was he just a man who would go to extraordinary lengths to get laid?

Andrew was now fully within her. "Are you OK?" he asked her.

"Yes, I'm fine," she said. "You can let go of some of your inhibitions, now."

Andrew began his regular stroking. Katherine was now relishing his hardness within her. She loved the thought that he was being aroused by her, loved his caresses and loved being so close to him. She felt a womanly sense of satisfaction when he suddenly groaned with ecstasy & relief.

They lay together quietly. Andrew drifted off to sleep, leaving Katherine alone with her thoughts. After her years of aloneness she was now experiencing being with a man, and it was a delicious feeling. She was ashamed of her homeliness and the desperation that had driven her to meet Andrew on these terms. She wondered if Andrew could respect her. Why had Katherine been born such a homely wench in a world where men love beauty?

Katherine was feeling love for Andrew, but wondered how much her love was the product of her gratitude & need. If only their sexual liason hadn't been such a chore for him. He probably didn't even think she was a "good lay".

Katherine had heard that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Perhaps sex would be a straighter path. Perhaps if she became an expert at sex Andrew would never want to leave her. But would he really learn to love her? Katherine would not have much time. In a week she would have to leave the ski-lodge and return to her job.

Postscript: An author's apology

I am a person with virtually no experience writing fiction other than the two stories in the literary section of my website. This story was my second attempt at fiction. I am not expecting to be writing any more fiction in the near future.

The best thing about this story is the snappy dialog with which it begins. This story was not actually intended to be a short story at all, but the first chapter of a romantic novel. I had been told an expert in the writing of romantic fiction that a love story should not begin with the protagonists being too fond of each other. All stories require conflict to have plot, and in a love story the protagonists conflict with each other and/or with circumstance until the climax when the obstacles are overcome.

In this first chapter, I have created conflict and coldness between the protagonists, but since the second chapter was never written — and I am leaving this as a purported "short story" — the reader is left with a very bad impression. I would love to be able to write about characters who love each other and are warm to each other in a way that touches the reader's heart. This would help bring me closer to these feelings within myself.