Of Hope Lost and Found Ch. 01

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This is part of the “Strange Arrangement” stories. This story can stand alone, but reading “A Strange Arrangement” and “Bottles” will introduce you to some of the characters that will appear in later chapters. Future chapters will be in the Erotic Couplings and Mature categories. Happy reading, thanks for voting, and I appreciate the encouraging and constructive comments!


“Dorothy Jane, I’ll have a word with you.” When Daddy said that, even in my most rebellious teenage moments, I knew there was no refusing. “Outside, please,” he added, indicating the porch. I went outside and plopped myself down on the porch swing. After a minute, Daddy came out and walked down the porch steps, stopping in the front yard. He turned around and looked at me with an expression that was stern but kind. “Walk a ways with me, Dottie.” The sun was just setting, the crickets were warming up their songs, and the summer breeze felt like silk running across my bare arms.

With an exaggerated sigh that only a teenager can produce, I rose from the swing and walked with slumped shoulders down the steps. Daddy gave one look and I knew to cut the attitude and walk straight. We walked around our property- a spacious 7 acres with a two story wooden farmhouse in the center. It was at least five minutes before Daddy spoke. I think he needed to cool down. Anyways, it gave me time to start to feel ashamed.

“You’ll not talk to or about your mother like that again, do you understand?”

“Yes, daddy,” I mumbled.

“What worries me is not that you said those things, but that you actually thought them.” I kicked a pebble and watched it roll ahead of us.

I had been angry at Mama for something trivial- maybe getting in trouble for skipping chores or something. But it had escalated into a shouting match like only she and I could have. It ended when I yelled that I shouldn’t have to take orders from a woman who checked out her brain and played housewife all her life. I said that since she couldn’t be anything worthwhile, she ended up just a wife. Daddy had just come in from working on the car when I said that. Mama’s tears always made his blood boil. That’s what sparked our little walk that evening.

“Dottie, if a doctor decided not to go work at a hospital or in an office but decided to go on the mission field and help poor people, would you say he wasted his life?”

“No, Dad. I’d say he did a good thing,” I mumbled.

“When a woman chooses to raise a family, she does the same thing- a very noble thing. She takes all the sense and all the learning and all the strength and all the goodness God gave her and she puts it into her family.”

I kicked another pebble and felt small and foolish.

“You’re a smart girl, Dottie, we all know that. Even if we didn’t, you sure like to remind us. But what I heard you say just now- that was foolish. That’s you being a parrot, saying stuff you heard somewhere else and not thinking about it. Dammit, girl, we raised you better. Just ’cause somebody on the TV or in a book says something don’t make it true. Just ’cause a hundred or a million people say it, that don’t make it true. You gotta think about it, girl.”

“I know, Daddy,”

“Don’t you ever forget, Dottie, don’t you ever forget- if you’re tempted to think your Mom is ignorant…just remember that without her, there is no you. If she hadn’t worked so hard to raise you right all these years, you wouldn’t be the intelligent, beautiful, strong young lady that I’m so proud of. She made great sacrifices Dottie, and she made them so you could have the opportunities she didn’t get. You need to respect that.”

By that point I was crying. Daddy put his arm around me and told me it was OK. He reminded me I still had some business to take care of, which meant I needed to go apologize to Mama and make it right. One thing I was raised to believe was that you didn’t apologize unless you were sincere. We never said “I’m sorry” unless we meant it. I went inside the house as the moon pushed past a cloud, and I gave Mama a very sincere apology.


Daddy was a good man. A lot of what he taught me still sticks with me today, almost 40 years after that evening stroll. And how I wish he was here to help me now.

This is the story of four men who shaped me (not that there weren’t significant female influences, too- I’m just not talking about them right now). Daddy was the first. The next two were men I married. And the fourth…well…he’s the reason my heads in a mess right now, and he’s why I’m taking this long stroll down memory lane.


Daddy loved Mama. There was no doubt about that. But when I say he loved her, I don’t mean it in the Hollywood, googly-eyed, jumpin’ into bed before you know their middle name kind of love. Or the put up with their crap because you’re getting some decent tail kind of ‘love.’ Theirs was a love that bonded them, made them each stronger. Theirs was a love that gave sumo web tools and gave and gave to the other person but never ran dry. It never ran dry because the more you gave, the more you got right back.

My parents had married young, and my three brothers came along within the first 5 years. I showed up 4 years after Irwin, the youngest brother, once Mama’s woman parts had gotten a little break. I suppose you expect me to say that, having three older brothers, my Daddy just raised me like a boy. No, but he didn’t raise me like a girl, either. He raised me like a person. He treated me with the same respect, held me to the same standards, and pointed me in the same direction as he did each of my brothers. Maybe I should say that he raised me the way a girl should be raised.

Now that certainly limited the pool of boys I could pick from. Some were intimidated by my book smarts or confidence. Some just wanted the cheerleader type or the future homemaker or a girl who was into the whole sexual revolution we were hearing about. I knew I was headed towards a different life. It was the 1970’s in America, and young women had more options than ever before.

Mama was different. She had never worked outside of the house. Daddy worked as a contractor, and Mama did everything at home- cooking, cleaning, gardening- everything. But, unlike most of my friends, both Daddy and Mama raised me. Daddy helped with homework, handled a lot of the hard conversations, and went to almost every teacher conference at school. I didn’t appreciate at the time how blessed I was to have a Daddy who was such a big part of my life. He set the bar high for any man that would come into my life after him.

When I was old enough to start having some questions, it was Mama who talked to me about boys and sex and marriage. She explained my plumbing and all those awkward details. She described in general terms what sex was and some of the reasons it happens. Then she told me sex was natural and, with the right man, very very good. She blushed a little when she said that, and I was too stunned to press her for details on how to know you had the right man. She also told me marriage was a very good thing, but that it wasn’t for everyone. She couldn’t say how I’d know if it was for me. She just said, “You’ll know.”

By the time I was a teenager, all three of my brothers were out of the house- some in college, some in families of their own. From the time I was 14 until I left for college, it was just me and my parents in the house. By then, Daddy’s work was pretty stable, and life in the house was a lot calmer, so my parents started enjoying more time together. I could usually tell when I would need to have music on in the evening. Mama would be giggling and Daddy would be playful. He’d tickle her, smack her bottom, or tease her about something. She’d come up behind him and give him hugs as we cleaned up dinner dishes and I knew that I would want headphones on after dark. I doubt they ever knew how clearly they could be heard in an empty house.

The mechanics of sex wasn’t a huge mystery to me. Some of our neighbors had a few farm animals that I had seen do their thing, and I knew it worked pretty much the same way for people. What I didn’t get was they why of sex. Sure, there was a sex drive, just like with animals. But why do we pick one person and not another? Why does it seem to affect us so much more than on just the physical level?

I don’t know what I expected to learn by sneaking over to my parents’ room one night when I was 16. It was a couple months after Daddy had set me straight on respecting Mama’s calling in life. One night, I couldn’t get my stereo working. I was down at the other end of the hall, but I could hear the bed squeaking. Slipping quietly out of my room and avoiding the creaky spots on the hall floor, I got as close as I dared, which was still not yet up to their bedroom door. I could nevertheless make out their voices.

I stood there, listening, frozen in fascination. It was only later that I felt some level of disgust- after all, my parents?…ick! But as I listened, I heard them working together. They talked. They asked questions. They laughed. They made requests. They each seemed as much interested in making the other one happy as they did getting some enjoyment for themselves. Oddly enough, that was when I realized that my parents were partners. They had different functions outside the bedroom, but inside the bedroom they were on equal ground.

I listened as Mama made a lot of noises I didn’t usually hear from her. It became clear that they were very good noises. I remembered her blushing years earlier when she had told me that sex could be really good. Not long after Mama shouted her approval of their activities, the squeaking of the bed sped up and I heard Daddy’s noises, which sounded angry and strained. But what garbled words he got out showed that he was anything but angry. After they got quiet, I didn’t sumowebtools dare move. A few minutes later, I heard the toilet flush, I heard drawers open and close, I heard soft voices and some giggles. I felt like an intruder, an outsider in a sacred place. I stood there until all was quiet, taking my first step back to my room only after I heard the soft rumble of Daddy’s familiar snoring.

It’s hard to say how my view of Daddy changed after that. I always knew he loved and respected Mama, but now it was different. I think after that night, I stopped seeing Mama as the woman who took care of Daddy’s house. It wasn’t just Daddy’s world anymore. I didn’t lose any respect for him, though. I just started seeing that he was one part of a team. He served Mama just as much as she served him.

Having brothers in the American heartland, I thought in terms of sports, and it seemed like my parents were more like a football team than like a tennis doubles team. They didn’t take turns doing the same jobs in our home- they each had their role, and they relied on the other to do it well. Marriage, it seemed to me, could be a very good thing.


Marriage didn’t dominate my thoughts, though, and the idea of it was pushed to the side as I prepared for college. I was a smart kid, like Daddy said, and I knew it. I’m sure it made me insufferably cocky at times. I was going to be a lawyer and fight for civil rights. I was going to take down big bad government agencies and corporations that lived and breathed injustice. I studied history and I argued with my professors regularly- mostly older white men who were so deep in the broken system they couldn’t even see how corrupt it was.

Then I met James.

James was a student, like me, but he had fought in Vietnam before going to college. He was a year behind me but five years older. We were in some of the same classes, and I thrived on his stories of corruption and bad politics in the Army. We talked about all the wrongs in the world and how we had a plan to make things right. James was going to get into politics and take down the system from the inside.

I started to remember how Daddy and Mama were such a good team- raising our family the way they did. And I started to think that James and I could be a good team, too. But we would raise a new society before we would raise a family. I didn’t want any kids until I had made for them the world they deserved.

Now, hindsight is 20/20, and there’s no accounting for some of the foolish things we do when we are young, but I can say now that a lot of my dreams about James were just rationalizations for the lust I felt towards him. He was a charmer, and handsome, too. He let his brown wavy hair grow to his shoulders, and his body was chiseled to perfect Army standards. But it was his eyes…they were on fire. He used to think I was such a good listener, when all I really was doing was staring into that deep gaze. He’d get worked up over some issue and those eyebrows would work back and forth. His eyes would flash and I’d be lost, ready to follow him wherever he went.

By the end of that school year, I was madly in love with James. We had spent a little time alone together and had just started getting physical. But I was still a virgin, like most of the girls I knew, and I was waiting until marriage. James was from California and took a different view of things, but he didn’t pressure me too much. During our summer apart, we talked on the phone a few times each week. After a month of that, James said he’d had enough- he was going to drive halfway across the country to see me. Two days later he was knocking on our door.

Mama politely invited him in for dinner, and after we ate, Daddy took James out for a long walk. I wasn’t too worried. I thought the world of James, and even though he and I had some radical views, James knew how to talk to his elders. That’s what made him a great politician- he could tell you everything you wanted to hear and make you think he really believed it.

When Daddy and James came back to the house, well after dark, I was waiting on the porch swing. I hopped up to run to James, but Daddy pushed him into the house with a smile and said, “Go upstairs and wash up, I’m sure Virginia’s got a room ready for you.” Then Daddy came over and sat on the swing. I sat back down next to him.

“He’s a good boy, Dottie.”

“I know, Daddy.” My face could hardly hold my smile.

“Just keep your head on straight, OK? Make sure you think this through.”

“I will, Daddy.”

“And don’t you dare be in a room alone with him in this house.”

“Daddy! I’m not…” I was going to say, ‘that kind of girl,’ but I knew that, given a good opportunity, I could be. “OK, Daddy.”

And that was all we said about it that night. We talked about other things, and I heard Mama washing dishes in the kitchen. Daddy made sure it was late and we were all sleepy before he walked me back into the house. James was already asleep, tired from his drive. I think that was part of Daddy and Mama’s plan- make sure there was not time alone for us.

James stayed for a week, and we did manage to get some time alone together. We ended up talking less than usual, but our tongues were nonetheless occupied. I could tell James wanted to push for more, and one afternoon, down by the creek, he broke a kiss and whispered, “Dammit, Dottie, I wish we could…” He didn’t finish the sentence, but as his words hung in the air, I said, “Marry me.”

“What? Shouldn’t I be the one to…you know…”

“What does it matter, James? We don’t have to be like everyone else. If it’s what we both want, let’s get married. I don’t need a fancy dress and party and cake and all that. Let’s just go down to the courthouse. We don’t even have to tell anyone yet.”

“But what about…a house…and that sort of thing?”

“We’ll make some phone calls. Your apartment is big enough for the two of us. My roommates can find someone else. We can do this!”

James looked thoughtful for a minute, then gave me that half-smile that was such a part of his manly charm. “OK!” he said. We kissed to celebrate, then went downtown. Sitting in the car outside the courthouse, I realized that half the people in there were bound to know my Daddy. I told James, and he relectantly agreed that we should wait until we got back to school to make it official. He took a detour down a country road on the ride home, and found a shady spot to stop.

“Well, if we’re getting married,” he said, “we can start to act married, right?”

I didn’t catch his meaning until he leaned over and started kissing me. His hand went under my shirt and started rubbing my back. I loved the feeling and almost took my shirt off. But I stopped him and said, “Not yet, Jimmy. Wait ’til it’s official. I mean…I want to…really…but I want to do it right.”

I saw a flash in his eyes and knew he wasn’t just disappointed. He was getting angry. But he moved back to his seat and said, “OK. Next month, then.” He drove us back to my house and we spent one more evening with my parents before he drove back home.

The next month was long, and our phone conversations were tense with desire. I worked all summer, saving up enough to buy an older car before going back to school. I spent my last week at home fixing up the car, with a lot of help from Daddy. It was a bit of an urgent project for me, because I didn’t want Daddy driving me back to school and finding out I wasn’t going to be living where he thought I would be. My roommates had already found someone to take my place, so I’d be moving in with James on my first day back. And we planned to be married that afternoon.


It didn’t work out quite like we planned- the paperwork took a few days. Because I was sticking to my guns on the “no sex before marriage” thing, life in the apartment was strained. James wanted us to sleep together and do other sexual things that I didn’t even know about. I wanted to be with him in that way, too. But despite all my counter-cultural stances, I couldn’t bring myself to have sex until I was married. I slept on the couch, knowing that if I was in bed with him, I might not be able to help myself. And Lord knows James wouldn’t be able to, either.

Finally, three days after we got back, we were standing before the judge, getting married. Jimmy drove like a fiend back to the apartment. As he unlocked the front door, he asked, “You want me to carry you over the threshold or something?”

Turning the doorknob, I said, “You’d have to catch me first!” Then I opened the door and bolted past him with a happy squeal. James closed the door behind us and chased me around the apartment. I made sure our chase led us to the bedroom, and I had my shirt off before James was in there. He rushed up to me and grabbed my arms, holding them tight against my body. His mouth took mine with a ferocious kiss and his hands worked around to my bra strap. He had it unlatched and off in a second.

Without breaking our kiss, his hands cupped my breasts and he groaned. They weren’t large- just a handful each- but they we finally his to touch and feel and kiss and rub, and I felt myself tingling between my legs by the time he took a break. I sat down in a daze, and James guided me onto my back. He unbuttoned my pants and pulled them off, then striped himself down to just his briefs.

My eyes went instinctively to his bulge. I had never seen a naked man before, and I wondered what James would look like. He crawled over me and pulled down my panties. Giving my thighs little kisses, he put his nose outside my folds, breathed in deep, then looked at me and smiled.

“Are you ready, or do you need some help?”

I didn’t know what he meant, but I was ready to finally make love, so I said, “I’m ready.”

“Good,” he said quickly, and pulled off his underwear. I didn’t have a chance to see more than a glance of his penis, which looked much larger than I thought it should be, if it was going to fit inside me. I later learned that James wasn’t very big, but to me that afternoon, he looked and felt huge.

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