Chapter 2 – Kara
Kara recalled how fit she got in the Navy. She had dropped twenty pounds her first year in. She vowed to stay in good shape from then on. Her 34C breasts looked much better with her thinner frame than they had when she was heavier. Even though she didn’t have a lot of money, she bought clothes whenever she could that accentuated her new, trim form. Even when she was in her uniforms, which flattered hardly anyone, guys would flirt with her. And of course, there were the guys at the university in San Antonio once she had started taking night courses. That was where she had met Tim Hanson.
Tim was different than Michael had been. He was eager to get to know Kara and her likes and dislikes. He was 22 years old then and a business major. He was not a churchgoer, but came from a religious family, so he would occasionally attend the church that Kara liked going to on Sundays. He worked part-time in a shoe store during the day, which was why he was taking night classes to finish his degree. He shared a small two-bedroom apartment near campus with his friend Brian.
Like Michael before him, Tim enjoyed going out sometimes for dinner and a movie, but not the usual new releases. Tim would take Kara to see old, artsy movies that were playing in a little rundown theater near downtown. And even though Kara had not been much of a drinker when they first met, he would sometimes take her to cocktail bars that usually hosted older patrons. It was something quite different for Kara, who had been concentrating almost exclusively on work and her studies when she had first met Tim, and didn’t go out much.
He was 5-feet-10-inches tall with brown hair and eyes and a clean-shaven, handsome face. Like Kara, Tim liked to stay fit and worked out whenever he could at the school’s fitness center. He dressed well for a young man his age too. His jeans and polo shirts were not worn and faded like many other college students Kara had known.
And Tim made it clear from their first date that he was interested in her sexually. She liked his boldness in that regard. But she made him wait three weeks before she finally gave in to him. It was a test on her part to see if he was truly interested, since he seemed like the kind of guy who could pretty much have any girl he wanted. He had even said right off the bat that women were always hitting on him at the shoe store. Every age group, he’d said, but he wasn’t interested.
Kara had asked him about his ideal woman once while they were playing a trivia game at one of his favorite haunts. “I guess I like to be the pursuer. I like intellectual girls...and thin, not too curvy. Young women who are into trying new and different things,” he’d said in reply.
He didn’t seem to mind waiting for Kara either, so when the time was right, they had gone back to his place and made love in his queen-size bed. Even though he was still young, Tim seemed more experienced by far than Michael had been. Kara thought it had to be a matter of confidence more than anything else. And she didn’t think it was smart of her anyway to ask about his past sexual conquests. Tim always made her come and she loved cuddling next to him as he slept. Theirs was a relationship a step above what she’d experienced previously.
When they’d first met, Kara was living in the barracks on base. But shortly thereafter, she had to move out to make room for new personnel, so she rented a furnished room in the home of one of the Navy petty officers from her command, Cindy Rogers. Cindy was a single mother in her late twenties, and she liked to go out occasionally with her boyfriend, so Kara would babysit Cindy’s toddler son, Jimmy, for her. Sometimes it was overnight, and Cindy would give her a discount on her rent. Kara never felt comfortable bringing her own boyfriend to Cindy’s place, so she and Tim would overnight at his apartment sometimes after going out.
Kara became more sexually adventurous with Tim, who liked to frequently change pace and position. She became more comfortable and proficient giving oral pleasure with him too. He was patient with her and taught her his likes and dislikes. And Kara had many opportunities to indulge her love of the woman-on-top position. Just as she had with Rob, she liked looking down into Tim’s handsome face as she rocked on top of him, his ample erection hitting her g-spot and making her whole body tingle.
She would lovingly lean down for kisses and caresses, and shimmy ever faster while he cupped her ass with his strong hands, assisting in moving her body back and forth, faster and faster, until they both came.
She always had Tim wear a condom. She didn’t like the way birth control pills made women gain weight. She didn’t need that at all now that she was in great shape. And Tim had said he liked his women thin, not too curvy. She was sure he wouldn’t have given her a second look in her early college days.
Kara and Tim carried on their relationship for nearly two years. It took her that long, going to school part-time at night, to finish her degree in social work. After she graduated, she applied for a program that would keep her in San Antonio as a commissioned officer while she earned her master’s degree. She had ten months left on her enlistment in the Navy then and had no idea what her chances were of getting into the program. She had no intention of staying enlisted, so she decided she would apply again if she wasn’t accepted the first time, and maybe she would get a cosmetology license in case her future was still undecided when her contract ended. She had taken some cosmetology classes in Florida before being accepted into a university program, and it made sense to her to have those skills as a backup plan.
Meanwhile, Tim graduated a semester after Kara, and he started working full-time as an assistant manager at the shoe store. She didn’t get to see him as much then, but still enjoyed going out when they could and spending the night at his place several times a month.
Kara applied for the master’s program in August, the year before she was due to leave the Navy. She applied through an officer recruiter at Fort Sam Houston, where the actual classroom work was to take place. She had needed three recommendations from non-family members, so she got one each from her commanding officer and the chief petty officer she worked for directly. She didn’t want all of her recommendations to come from Navy personnel though. She really wanted an academic recommendation from someone who recognized her understanding of the field of social work. Dr. Tarpley immediately came to mind as she was putting together the application package.
Kara hoped she hadn’t burned that bridge when she blew Rob off so abruptly after their brief affair. She still had his email address, so she figured she had nothing to lose and sent him a message asking for his endorsement. He had replied that he was more than happy to do her the favor, and he emailed Kara a glowing recommendation.
In his response, Dr. Tarpley also mentioned he was engaged to be married the next year. He offered the hope that Kara was happy with her new life and wished her well in the future. The response brought a pang of longing to Kara’s heart for what could have been had she stayed in Florida. Nonetheless, in her email reply she merely thanked Rob for such a wonderful endorsement of her capabilities, and she generically wished him well too.
Kara’s recruiter assured her that she would hear one way or the other about whether she had been accepted to the master’s program by Thanksgiving. She hoped it was before then. Her mother was coming for ten days at Christmastime and Kara was planning to take leave and spend time with her doing touristy things around San Antonio.
She missed her mother, Eve, from time to time, but she had not spent a good deal of time with her since she graduated from high school. Eve had worked for years for various NGOs, and her assignments had twice taken her for a year at a time to overseas postings while Kara was young. Kara was even able to accompany her mother on one assignment to the Philippines during her freshman year of high school.
Once before though, Kara had gone to live with her half-brother’s family for a year while her mother was away. Her brother Ted, by a different father, was fourteen years her senior. Ted and his wife Virginia had a daughter much younger than Kara, and she had enjoyed staying with them and helping to take care of her young niece. Ted was a businessman who had settled in a suburban town in North Carolina. Eve had been married to Ted’s father for some ten years when they were fresh out of college, but after the couple divorced, Ted had gone to live full-time with his father, and he wasn’t especially close with Eve.
Kara didn’t really know her own father. Eve had never married him and he left the picture when she had become pregnant with Kara. Kara’s upbringing was stable though, even when she had to uproot temporarily to live with Ted’s family. She didn’t really feel like she had any father issues, even though she’d never known her dad, and she was close with the mother who had raised her.
Still, Kara was a little anxious about spending ten days with Eve and playing tour guide. She hoped that she had good news to share with her mother when she arrived. Although her mother was proud that Kara had finished her bachelor’s degree, she had seemed disappointed when Kara had enlisted in the Navy, even though her daughter had explained that the goal was to get her master’s degree and become an officer.
By autumn of that year, Tim had started working more hours and they were only getting together a couple of times a month. Kara knew he probably wasn’t the man she was meant to spend the rest of her life with, but she liked the stability and familiarity of their relationship. And of course, their sexual encounters kept her very satisfied.
They made plans to visit Tim’s family near Houston for Thanksgiving dinner, but Tim had to work on Black Friday, so they had to drive back that night. On Thanksgiving Day, she and Tim mostly listened to music on the drive toward Houston and didn’t speak much. Tim liked classic crooners like Sinatra and Bennett. Halfway to their destination, Kara drifted off to sleep as Tim drove and sang along.
The Hanson household was quite nice, and Tim’s parents welcomed Kara warmly. Tim’s younger sister Claire was home as well, with her new fiancé James. It was a very traditional Thanksgiving Day. The three women prepared dinner and chatted while the men watched football. Dinner was in the mid-afternoon, and it was turkey with all the trimmings. Kara really enjoyed the company, conversation and home-cooked food. It was a very pleasant day all around.
She and Tim left shortly after 4:00 P.M. It was a different mood on the ride home, with Tim talking a lot about how busy he was going to be at work for the rest of the year, and how he wouldn’t have much time to spend with Kara. She talked about her mother’s impending visit, and mentioned that she probably wouldn’t be seeing much of him for Christmas or New Year’s.
Tim seemed okay with that and asked if Kara had heard anything back from her recruiter yet. She hadn’t, and she expressed a little frustration since the classes were due to start in late January. Kara said that she would call the recruiter on Monday. She also told Tim about her backup plan of cosmetology school in the event she wasn’t selected for the program.
“Wow!” Tim exclaimed. “We really aren’t going to be seeing much of each other in the New Year, are we?”
Kara thought about it for a moment before replying. “Now that you mention it, maybe not. Either way, I still love you and I want us to stay together if we can. You know how much I care about you.”
“I suppose we’ll have to see how things go,” Tim replied, sounding truly unsure of what the future held. “Maybe we shouldn’t worry about exchanging Christmas gifts this year. We’ll have to see how it goes.”
Kara frowned at him, but didn’t say anything in response.
When Monday came, the news from Kara’s recruiter was not good. Not only had she not been selected, no candidates from the Navy had. The recruiter explained that this sometimes occurred because the Army ran the program and gave its own people first crack at filling slots for the class. Navy personnel had to have very strong application packets to compete with the Army in those circumstances. So Kara vowed to apply again before her enlistment ended in May, this time with stronger recommendations and a tremendous essay.
She was in tears when she called Tim later that night. He was consoling, but not happy, by the tone of his voice, about her returning to night school in January.
“Hey, a girl has to make a living!” Kara exclaimed defensively.
“Yes, so maybe you should reenlist,” he offered in reply.
“Then what? I get shipped off somewhere else next summer for another three-year assignment as a yeoman?”
Tim had no response to that. Kara angrily explained that she would put in another application before leaving the Navy, but she had to have an alternate plan for now. When Tim began to argue with her, she abruptly cut off the discussion, quickly said good night and hung up.
Her housemate Cindy was more understanding. Cindy felt that Kara had a good shot at making the next class and let her know that she had a room with her as long as she needed one. Kara was grateful and informed Cindy of her plans after she left the service. Cindy agreed that the plan seemed sound. She told Kara that she liked having her around to care for her young son on occasion, but she knew that Kara had to make her own way and wouldn’t have a lot of time to babysit. Kara assured her that she could still sit once or twice a month on weekends, and Cindy thanked her and told her everything would work out for the best.
“I don’t know what to tell my mother,” Kara confided to Cindy. “She’s going to be disappointed I didn’t get selected.”
“Well, she’ll be here in a few weeks. No need to rush out and tell her now,” Cindy offered. “You have time to come up with a way to tell her.”
“That’s good advice. I have to think about the right way to break it to her.”
When her mother arrived two days before Christmas from her second stint in Honduras, she was tired and Kara was still unsure about breaking her bad news on the way to drop her mother at her River Walk hotel. Eve was 60 years old, and had auburn hair streaked with a touch of gray, pulled back in a ponytail. Kara thought her mother would look ten years younger if only she would dye her hair, but she knew Eve wouldn’t be keen at all to try that.
“Mom, do you need a nap before dinner?” Kara asked politely.
“Yes, dear, I think that would be good. Then you can tell me all about what’s going on with you. Tell me, how is your boyfriend, Tim?”
“He’s very busy, Mom. I don’t know how much we’ll be seeing each other in the New Year, but I’ll tell you about it over dinner, once you’ve rested a little.”
The hotel was a modern high-rise. Kara helped Eve check in and find her room. Eve remarked how her daughter looked fit and thanked her for helping with the bags. They made plans to visit a Mexican restaurant on the River Walk that evening before Kara took her leave.
She really didn’t have much to do before returning for dinner, so Kara decided to visit River Center Mall to look for a gift for her mother. She knew Eve appreciated nice jewelry, and Kara was able to find a not-too-pricey turquoise and silver bracelet that she knew Eve would love. She took it home and wrapped it before showering, changing clothes, and getting ready for dinner.
It was a quick trip back downtown, going against the flow of traffic just before dinnertime. Once they’d reached the restaurant, Eve looked over the menu of Tex-Mex fare admiringly.
“The food is so different than in Central America,” Kara’s mother remarked. “I’m having trouble deciding. I must have a margarita though.” Eve smiled. “Will you join me, Kara?”
“Just one, Mom. I’m such a lightweight and I can’t recall the last time I had tequila. Tim and I used to have cocktails every now and again when we were going to school, but we rarely go out anymore. We’ll have a drink or two at trivia night at his favorite spot from time to time, but he works so much since he graduated from college,” Kara explained.
Eve took it all in before asking, “So what’s going on, dear?”
Kara broke the bad news about the program and told her mother about Thanksgiving and her last couple of conversations with Tim. “Mom, I’ve found an accelerated cosmetology program that starts in January. It’s only four months, and I can get a license to cut and color hair after I leave the Navy,” she stated firmly. “Of course, I’ll put in another package for the master’s program, but I can’t rely on getting in.”
“What about using your bachelor’s degree to get a job and get started on a career?” her mother asked, ever the practical one.
“Maybe in the future, Mom, but I want so badly to become a Navy officer. I think I can really help military families. There are so many problems with people away in combat, then returning, sometimes traumatized by their experiences. Things can be pretty messed up for everyone, emotionally and physically. I believe I can really do some good for these folks.”
Eve pondered her daughter’s words for a moment before replying. “Well, Kara, it sounds like you have it all planned out. But I don’t know why you just don’t take your G.I. Bill benefits, go back to Florida, and get your master’s there.”
“Maybe someday I’ll go back, Mom. But I think I have to try again here to get what I’m after. I’m already approaching my mid twenties and I feel like my life has been on hold the past few years. It seems like most of the women I work with are engaged or married and starting families. I haven’t even met a man I would consider settling down with, Tim included.”
“Don’t even worry about that, Kara,” her mother said reassuringly. “Love, romance and marriage aren’t all they are cracked up to be in the movies and romance novels. It’s probably best that you focus on your career and yourself. I know you want a husband and kids someday, but you can have those things in time. Maybe you should forget about Tim and perhaps find a nice man at church.”
“You know, Mom, I haven’t given anyone at church a single thought since I met Tim. And I just don’t know if I have the time to devote to a real relationship right now,” Kara explained as they tucked into their food.
They dropped the subject of Kara’s future for the rest of dinner. The next day, they visited the Alamo and other downtown San Antonio attractions. Christmas Eve, they watched the river parade and lighting of the Christmas lights along the River Walk. Christmas Day was a quiet one at the hotel, followed by dinner with Cindy and little Jimmy at her place. Eve gave Kara a small mahogany carved jewelry box and jade necklace she had picked up in Honduras. Kara gave her mother the bracelet she had bought, and Eve was pleased with it.
Tim and Kara exchanged short “Merry Christmas” texts, but Kara was still unhappy over her last few conversations with him. And he seemed none too excited about first, not seeing her over the holidays, and second, her imminent return to night school.
The rest of Eve’s visit was pleasant. She and Kara shopped, visited Sea World, and saw other local attractions. They went downtown to the big New Year’s Eve celebration. The weather was cool, but comfortable enough with a light jacket. Kara was first to text Tim a “Happy New Year” message. It was a good ten minutes before she got a reply. She wondered what he was up to, but she felt that if she was losing him, now was probably the best time to be done with it. And she felt deep down that it might be very much her own fault if it ended.
A couple of days later, Kara was relieved to drop her mother at the airport and was eager to go back to work after ten days off. She was trying to save some leave to use right before she got out of the Navy to look for a part-time job—something to pay her meager rent and car payment. She sent Tim a text message then and asked how his New Year’s Eve had been.
He replied that he hadn’t done much. He had just gone to Olive’s Martini Bar and left shortly after midnight. Kara wondered whom he had met up with there, but didn’t want to express any jealousy, so she just texted back, “I hope you had fun.” His response was a simple, “Thanks.”