Barely Comfortable


“Your family thinks I’m a prude!” Amanda sounded frustrated.

I glanced away from the road a minute to check; despite her tone, she looked just a bit exasperated rather than genuinely upset. But it still surprised me — I’d thought the trip to introduce her to my family had gone well.

Everyone who can make it shows up at our Tahoe cabin for one last skiing weekend in late March or early April, so it had seemed like the easiest way for her to meet my family and friends. Days on the slopes or the cross-country trails, family dinners, and chances to talk at night.

We’d been up there a couple of weekends since we got engaged there on Valentine’s Day, but we’d had the place to ourselves both times. This was our first visit as part of a group. Even though we’d been relegated to the bunk room with the other “kids” this time, we’d still had fun, and I’d been proud to have a chance to introduce my fiancé and show her off.

I couldn’t believe that anyone would have been rude to her; as far as I could see, everyone had been on their best behavior, and I’d thought they liked her, and she liked them. If anything, they’d been impressed by my good taste; my folks had seemed to consider her family already, and my uncle Lars had pulled me aside to congratulate me.

So I risked a question: “Why do you say that, Amanda? I thought everyone liked you, and they seem to think I’m lucky to have found you. I certainly think that!”

“Oh, last night. When I didn’t want to join your brother and cousins in the sauna.” She sounded a bit embarrassed.

“Well, it was going to be crowded. And if you don’t grow up with it like we did, seeing our parents and grandparents using it that way, a nude sauna can be a bit daunting. Did anyone say something bad about it when you said no?”

“No. In fact, they said pretty much the same thing you did. But it made me feel like a little girl they were making allowances for.” She sounded unhappy. After a moment she added. “I should have said yes. I didn’t have any problem when it was just us two! Now they probably all think I’m a prude. Dave, do you think I’m a prude?”

Her last question sounded rather plaintive. And utterly ridiculous — the words I might have chosen to describe her during our times together would have been something like “playful”, “sexy”, or even “shockingly uninhibited.” But she seemed serious.

I wanted to head off that line of thought, so perhaps I answered too fast. “Of course not! Amanda, you may be modest outside the bedroom, but when we’re alone together you’re the most delightfully bawdy wench a man could hope for!”

“Modest? What do you mean?” Trust her to seize on that word. I tried to phase my next words as carefully as I could.

“Amanda, you aren’t a prude. But you are a little … conservative in how you dress. At work, you’re very professional and don’t show off. You usually wear pretty unrevealing clothes at home, too; I don’t think I’ve ever seen you without a bra, even on weekends. That’s not a bad thing, but it was one of the reasons I had trouble realizing you were interested in me — I thought you dressed that way to discourage unwanted attention.” I shrugged. “But that may just be me — you’re right that I’m Captain Clueless sometimes.”

I paused a beat and added: “It’s one of the reasons it hit me so hard the first time I saw you in a bikini. I’d never suspected what a nice figure you have.”

“So you think I only dress like a prude?” Despite the astringent wording, she sounded slightly mollified.

“Amanda, in the bedroom that’s the last word I’d use to describe you!”

“Oh? What would be your first choice?”

“Umm … How about seductive? Demanding? Enthusiastic?”

I breathed a sigh of relief — another quick glance showed that she was fighting to hide a smile.


Whatever had brought on her self-doubts, Amanda seemed to have dealt with them enough to drop the discussion. The rest of the drive home, our conversation was disjointed — the weekend past, plans for the future, things we saw on the wayside — but cheerful.

It still felt a little odd that “home” meant that we were living together. Even if we’d been unconsciously falling in love with each other for more than a year, admitting it — to ourselves, even — was much more recent, and we’d only been engaged for a couple of months. But it just made sense: her lease was almost up, and mine had nearly a year to go. After the closeness of the vacation week that had led up to our engagement we really didn’t want to be separated; even before she formally moved in, we’d seldom spent a night apart.

Welcome or not, though, it had still been a major shift in our relationship. No matter how much we both wanted the closeness, being together full-time wasn’t all sweetness and light. Except for college roommates, neither of us had ever lived with someone before, and it had taken some give-and-take adjustments on both our parts to make it work. But despite the bumps, it had soon felt natural to split Maltepe Escort chores, take turns cooking, and all the rest of the details of day-to-day living. Best of all, even when things felt awkward, we were together. Even if we were still learning things about one another, I was sure of one thing: she loved me as much as I did her. It still gave me a little jolt of pleasure to wake up and see her face on the pillow next to mine, and I thought — I hoped — it always would.

So I was in a cheerful mood as I carried our bags in. We’d gotten a late start and eaten dinner on the drive back down from Tahoe; it was late, almost bedtime. Once I’d finished unpacking — really, just putting everything I’d worn into the clothes hamper — I grabbed my robe and headed in to shower while Amanda was still sorting through her bags. I’d be in and out fast, so she wouldn’t need to rush with her own.

As expected, she didn’t — as practical as Amanda is in most things, it hadn’t taken long to learn that she’s positively sybaritic about bathing when she has the chance. One of the things I liked about this apartment was that it had a tankless hot water heater — you could shower as long as you wanted without running out of hot water, and Amanda usually took full advantage of that. So it didn’t surprise me at all that she took over half an hour in the bathroom that night.

What did surprise me was what she was wearing. In private, at least, she’d proven to be comfortable in her skin, and she was an eager, uninhibited lover. But she’d usually either worn a warm, practical nightgown or chosen to go nude; I hadn’t even known that she owned the scanty lingerie she was almost wearing. “Almost” because it seemed designed to more showcase than conceal the woman inside; though some key areas were slightly translucent rather than transparent, I could still easily see the shape of her body and make out the darker outlines of her nipples and her neatly-trimmed pubic patch.

She giggled happily at my pole-axed expression and did a pirouette to show it off from all angles. “Do you like it? Not bad, for a prude, is it?”

Despite her light tone, that caught my attention. Why had she brought that up again? And it was her choice of words, not anyone else’s. She was showing a side I’d never seen before, and one I hadn’t expected. Until today, I’d never have imagined that Amanda might think of herself that way, or worry about it if she did. She’s too sensible a person, and though I’d describe her as a basically modest person she knows that she’s an attractive woman. She certainly seemed to enjoy it when I look at her; she’s not at all body-shy or prudish when we’re alone.

I didn’t think it was anything I’d said or done. I was certain I’d never said anything negative about how she dressed, and while I might have enjoyed seeing her dressed to impress, it had never been that important to me. If anything, I was relieved she didn’t push things too far – I’d dated a couple of girls in the past who’d seemed to enjoy skirting the edge of the indecent exposure laws. “Modestly sexy” would have been fine, but given the choice of “elegant” and “slutty”, I knew which one I preferred.

And Amanda did “elegant” well. Despite her restrained dress style, I had ample evidence of the warm, sexy woman inside the deceptively modest wrapper. I’d thought she knew who she was, and that she — and I — were happy with that.

But it sounded as if she might not be.

“Amanda? Where did ‘prude’ come from? I’m sure I’ve never used it — I’ve never even thought it about you! Do you feel comfortable telling me why you called yourself that?” I was a little worried, but didn’t want to show it; instead, I tried to sound concerned without pressing too hard.

I must have succeeded; though she didn’t reply at once, after a long pause Amanda nodded. “I suppose I should.”

She looked rather embarrassed, and bit her lip for a moment, but continued without further prompting. “I hadn’t really thought about it until last night. But I realized that I’ve been letting old bad memories control how I act, and how I dress. I don’t think I’m a prude. But I’ve been dressing and sometimes acting like I’m one. Like I’m trying to hide. And I’m tired of hiding.”

“Old bad memories? How bad?” It was an effort, but I kept my voice as soft and sympathetic as I could manage.

She might have caught the effort — she gave me a grateful smile before answering.

“Don’t sound so worried, Jack. They’re not that bad. Just … uncomfortable. But they don’t make much sense unless I tell you the whole story.” She sounded almost whimsical if a bit tense.

Amanda sat down on our bed, leaning her back against the headboard and hugging her knees against her chest as she stared off into memory.

“You know that I almost got date-raped in college?”

I nodded. I’d never pressed her for details, but I knew that it had made her cautious around men. It had been one of the reasons I’d been slow and careful about first showing my interest in her.

She Kartal Escort shot me a quick glance. “Don’t look so solemn! I said ‘almost’ — I got away unhurt, and he spent some time in jail, OK?”

I nodded again, and she gave me a quick grin.

She started off on a tangent. “Do you know what fashion is like in Hong Kong? Compared to here, people pay a lot more attention to how they dress. It’s important to look good.”

I shrugged. “I’ve never been to Hong Kong, but I think you told me that before.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Did I ever mention women’s fashions are usually a lot less revealing? You want to look good, but just hint, not show too much. I know you think my bikini is pretty conservative, but it’s about as risqué as you’d ever see anyone actually wearing to the beach there.”

I thought about that for a moment. “So you’re dressing like you’re still living there?”

She shook her head. “No. I’ve been dressing like my mother would like me to dress, or maybe my grandmother.”

“But why?”

She gave a slight smile. “Would you believe that when I first came to here, I lovedto show off? I came here, and I saw that girls my own age dressed a lot sexier than I’d ever dared. I saw really short skirts or cut-offs, tube tops, tight t-shirts …. and it was pretty obvious that a lot of the girls weren’t bothering with bras. And they looked good. Sexy, but not too sexy, you know? Just … nice. Teasing.”

“So I did the same. I thought I looked pretty good. Hot.” She looked down for a moment, then managed a grin. “I may not be huge, but I’ve got pretty nice boobs for a Chinese girl. They looked darn good in a tight t-shirt, especially when I didn’t bother with a bra! Susan — my roommate, another girl from Hong Kong — teased me about being an exhibitionist, but I liked the way I looked. And so did the guys.”

“I got asked out on dates a lot. That was another new thing — I could date without my folks grumbling about it.” She shot me an embarrassed look. “I haven’t been a virgin since my first serious boyfriend, the first year I was here. I didn’t do hookups, I didn’t cheat if I had a boyfriend, and I was pretty selective about who I went to bed with, but I liked sex.”

“Maybe I was too trusting — Susan certainly thought so! — but I enjoyed dating. So if I didn’t have a current boyfriend, I’d usually say ‘yes’ to a first date unless the guy was an obvious creep. Casual, you know? Even if it didn’t turn into a serious relationship, we usually had fun, and I made sure guys knew upfront what my limits were.”

“So this guy asked me out. He seemed OK — we’d shared a few classes, and he wasn’t a bad looking guy. No real sparks, but it was an OK first date. He walked me back to my room afterward. I was alone that weekend, but I didn’t say ‘no’ when he wanted to come in to talk some more. Like I said, no sparks, but I thought he was OK. I was happy to keep talking. I hadn’t said ‘no’ to a second date, either. But I’d said ‘talk’, not ‘make out’, and he was really unhappy when I said ‘no’ to that.”

She looked away for a moment. “He thought that because he’d paid for our date I owed him. He called me a ‘cock teasing Chink slut’ when I told him ‘no’, then tried to pull my clothes off. To force me. I screamed and fought, and managed to get a finger in his eye, then ran when he flinched. I made it out the door with my blouse torn open and one boob hanging out, but I was safe; there were half a dozen people in the dorm lounge who saw me make my escape.”

Amanda looked back at me. “There were enough witnesses that it was pretty obvious what happened. I was lucky — I didn’t get raped, just roughed up, and he ended up in jail. But it scared me. A lot. And I had been dressing to show off.” She sighed. “So I quit showing off. And I didn’t date again for nearly a year.”

It sounded as if she was blaming herself. Unfairly. I felt like I was picking my way through a minefield when I told her “Amanda, it wasn’t your fault. Even if you were showing off a little, it sounds like you’d made it plain you weren’t interested. I’m just glad that you got out mostly OK.”

She gave a weak smile. “Well, yeah. It could have been a lot worse. At least it didn’t make me afraid of all guys or hate sex. But I think today I finally realized that I was still letting it affect me. I was hiding. And I’m tired of it.”

Amanda took a deep breath. “Jack, I don’t want to show off like I did in college. The only guy I want to tease is you! But I’m not ashamed of my body, and I think it’s time I quit dressing to hide it all the time.” She shot me a much bigger grin. “And the next time we’re sharing the cabin with your family they can look all they want in the sauna.”


She let it lie at that, but over the next few weeks, I could see the effects. Most noticeably, she’d started to update her wardrobe.

I’d tried to be diplomatic in how I described it, but she was right; she had been hiding. As long as I’d known her, Amanda had been extremely conservative in the way she dressed. Kurtköy Escort Not frumpy or old-fashioned, just … conservative.

At work, perhaps a touch formal — nothing form-fitting, long skirts or slacks, long-sleeved blouses buttoned to the top or loose pullover turtlenecks, flats or very low heels. Feminine, but unrevealing and low on sex appeal. Low enough so that despite her lovely face and pleasant personality she had mostly avoided the careful — very careful, to avoid upsetting HR — dating overtures most attractive single women received. Almost everyone liked her and knew she and I were close friends, but I think it had shocked them all when we announced our engagement.

Since we were living together, it was easy for me to track the changes, since she made a point of modeling them for my enjoyment. And I did enjoy then, quite a lot. I’d thought her lovely even when she’d dressed to conceal it. But it was obvious to anyone who looked now that she wasn’t trying to hide it anymore.

Even if minor, the changes were noticeable.

Her work clothes remained quite professional, but now they were chosen to at least give subtle hints of her figure. As tiny as she is, “buxom” isn’t the right word, but despite her slender body, she’s not “boyish”, either. Amanda has curves, quite nice ones. Though she wasn’t blatant about it, she no longer avoided choices that revealed a shapely calf or showed an enticing hint of cleavage.

And people noticed the change. She wasn’t targeted by gossip, but by early summer she reported that several of our female coworkers had complimented her choices, or asked where she’d found them.

Feedback from our male coworkers mostly came my way. There was a little envy from the singles, a feeling that I’d stolen a march on them all. Instead of “one of the guys”, they belatedly realized that Amanda was a major babe, but she was already taken — by me. I fielded everything from thumb-ups to a couple of envious “you lucky dog!” type comments.

Off work, most of her weekend outfits remained practical; as much as we both loved the outdoors, they needed to be. But as the weather warmed up she’d as often wear shorts and tank tops as jeans and long sleeves when we went hiking, or brief skirts or sundresses if we were staying in town.

And though Amanda modeled every new outfit for me joked about how much less prudish she’d become, she didn’t make a big production of it, either. Still, as small as the changes were, it was easy to see the increase in her self-confidence. Even if nothing she wore was particularly revealing, she was increasingly less worried about showing that she had a fit, attractive body.

Really, by any objective standard, even her boldest weekend outfits weren’t usually too revealing. But they were more relaxed than what she’d worn in the past. It wasn’t as if she was always pushing the boundaries, either. Sometimes, she had just had fun with her choices. I mean, Winnie the Pooh bib overalls? Seriously?

So I enjoyed watching her experiments, but they didn’t occupy all of my attention. Other than the occasional thumbs-up, I often went days without thinking much about them. There were a lot of other things on our plate to focus on.

Most importantly, we were still learning to live together, and learning about each other. I got blindsided fairly often, in a good way; life with Amanda was never boring. I never knew quite what to expect — despite her still-demure public persona and down-to-earth practicality, in private, Amanda had loved surprising me with playful teasing.

Or not teasing — as she gleefully demonstrated, she certainly wasn’t “prudish” at home. She’d always had an impish sense of humor, but I’d never suspected that it was such a playfully ribald one. Nor would I have ever suspected she had such an active libido — when she gives her love, she holds nothing back. Amanda’s as shamelessly enthusiastic a lover in private as a man could dream of.

Still, even an enthusiastic love life couldn’t take up all our time; besides the normal day-to-day demands of living, we needed to do a host of other things.

A big chunk of time went into planning for our fall wedding, far enough out that her parents could arrange to travel from Hong Kong and her sister could bring her brood from Texas. Most of our other relatives and friends didn’t need as much lead time, but we still needed to arrange a hall, book the obligatory Chinese wedding banquet, and send out invitations. At least our honeymoon was easy — Amanda had asked if we could spend another week alone in the family cabin.

Then there were discussions about whether we should look for a house, condo, or just a bigger apartment when our current lease ran out, talking about children, when, and how many… We had quite a lot of things to keep us distracted if we let them. At least most of them weren’t terribly urgent, so if we spent a little time on them regularly we could keep our weekends free.

We took full advantage of that free time. Weekends were for seeing friends, doing our part in whatever monthly activity our company’s outdoor club planned, family obligations, volunteering for coastal cleanup day … we kept busy. One weekend we flew down to LA so I could meet her brother. Another, we helped my younger brother Mike move into his new apartment.

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