Being with Benson in his apartment was something my mother would be very much against—a good Christian girl doesn't spend time alone with a man in his apartment. I smiled at the thought—as if an apartment was a prerequisite for sinful conduct. I mean to my parents, the thought of having sex before marriage placed you on the road to hell to begin with—as if your mind didn't come up with things all on its own.

Being outside alone together watching birds over the years had offered more than ample opportunity to engage in such activity. I was sure it contributed to the idea I shouldn't spend time alone with Benson at all when it finally occurred to them. Yet, here we were alone, beyond my parents' control doing as we wished and I didn't see a sin in sight. Now, it really didn't matter did it? I had consciously shed my religious beliefs, only my unconscious mind refused to let go completely.

We finished our meal, then cleaned up the kitchen, washing the dishes together—me washing, Benson drying and putting them away. Standing near each other talking like this seemed like the most natural thing in the world to me at that moment. I couldn't help but wonder if I hadn't met him in another life, another dimension, one I had no memory of. As ridiculous as I knew it was, it had appeal—somewhere, at some time, we had been together, maybe as some other animal, perhaps as swans paired for life. Who knew? The thought brought a smile to my face, which Benson apparently noticed.

"Feeling a little better?"

"Yes, thank you. Are you anxious about starting classes tomorrow?"

"No, not really. Why are you?"

"A little I guess, I know it's going to be different than at CCC, I just wonder how different. The workload with a full schedule of classes will be a change for sure," I replied pensively.

"Yeah, I expect so," then he grew a grin, "don't worry I'll make sure you keep your nose to the grindstone," as he nudged me with his hip.

I laughed, "And who, pray tell, is going to keep an eye on you?"

He quickly flipped the dish towel he had in both hands over my head and when it got to my waist pulled me close as I gave a squeal of surprise. "I expect it will be you."

I felt my pelvis against his as I leaned back to look into his eyes, then smiled. "I don't mind that we look after one another."

He pulled me close and said softly into my ear. "You, Janet Hall, are well worth looking after."

He made me feel so good. I closed my eyes, feeling his arms around me as we simply stood there, knowing I could depend on him as I could no one else, and realizing it had been that way for quite a while. It shouldn't have been a revelation, but it was, more than ever before.

We parted with a small kiss that made my heart soar, knowing we could kiss whenever we wanted to—it seemed so unreal. The freedom was intoxicating, invigorating, as if the world belonged to the both of us now—it seemed that together we had traveled so far in just a few days.

But our ability to share a kiss had changed me in other ways too, feelings that seemed to be coming from out of nowhere—yet I knew came from somewhere I had kept hidden and silent while at home living with my parents. These feelings emerging as if they had been lying in wait—waiting for me to acknowledge Benson mattered to me in ways I had denied to myself.

I was conflicted now. Earlier, Benson had been so concerned for me he had considered if I should stay the night with him—it sounded like a wonderful option, yet the appearance it would give to my roommates was something that bothered me. I had introduced Benson as my friend and I wasn't sure I could completely abandon that ideal quite yet. I was still deep in thought when I was pulled back to the presence by Benson's voice.

"Janet, oh Janet, are you still with me?"

I smiled, "Sorry, guess I was thinking."

"What about? Still worried about tomorrow? In fact, do you want me to walk you to your first class, or not?"

"I'm just thinking about things in general, and no, I can get to class by myself tomorrow because it's later than the start of your first class. We can meet for lunch if you want, otherwise, we can get together after supper. Would that be okay?"

"Yes, I think so. It's going to take a few days to set up a routine we're both comfortable with and then things will settle down."

Settle down, the concept sounded good, but then my parents came to mind—I wondered what their conversation had been like after Dad got home after meeting with Benson and me. I hadn't heard anything other than what Tess had related to me. How long would it be before they approached me again? And if they did, would they be willing to talk, compromise? I really had no idea what decision they might arrive at and that, in way, was worst then having an answer I didn't want. It left me in limbo, us in limbo, as Benson was entwined in all of it. Because...well...because it was 'we,' wasn't it?

Benson and I watched a few programs on the TV and then it was time for him to take me back to the dorm. We visited with my roommates for a while, then Benson bade us goodnight. I walked out to the lobby with him and we shared a short, sweet kiss.

"Call me when you decide if it's lunch or not."

I smiled. "Okay. Sleep tight."

I watched him walk to his car and leave, thinking the whole time I was being too sensitive about how my roommates might react if I were to stay overnight with him. After all, they had tried to reassure me they would understand and not judge me. I still had baggage I hadn't left at home with my parents, I was still too much a Christian girl of 'proper' upbringing.

I returned to my room and heard my roommates laughing. I walked in and sat down with them, then just listened for a minute. They were, of course, talking about their boyfriends and about guys in general—girl things. Stella looked at me with a smile.

"Janet, do you remember the first time you ever saw a penis?"

The question seemed like a strange one, there was no way I would remember that, I had changed a baby boy's diapers often enough while baby-sitting, and even before that when I watched my mother change a friend's baby.

"No, I don't remember for sure, maybe I was eight or nine."

"Same with us," Kayla laughed, "that's why I was so surprised when I saw one when I was older, my first long-term boyfriend after graduating from high school. I had just turned eighteen the week before and I went swimming with two other girls and our boyfriends. I snuck a peek as my boyfriend changed behind some bushes—it looked ugly, like a little worm hanging out of a hairy bush."

Stella laughed, "Yeah, but when they get big they change a lot, a one-eyed snake with a purple head and veiny body with a wrinkled bag hanging down. It took a long time before I ever saw a flaccid penis, my boyfriends were always big by the time I got a look."

"No kidding!" Kayla exclaimed with a wide-eyed laugh.

I sat, not saying anything more. I'd never seen one. But it made me wonder what I would think when I did. I hadn't ever thought about it, or talked about it for that matter. None of the girls I knew at church had ever come close to saying anything about a man's penis and in high school it was more about someone doing 'it.' Though I really didn't have a mental image of what 'it' entailed. I was lost in thought when Casey spoke up.

"I was so scared when I saw my first one, I didn't think something that big was going to fit, so I just laid back and closed my eyes. It did fit and I never looked back after finding out how good it made me feel," then she added with a laugh, "it looked like it was wearing a little cap."

"Oh my!" Stella said suddenly, "Janet, I didn't think. Have you ever seen one? Maybe we shouldn't have said anything."

My roommates were quiet as I offered a small smile. "That's okay, I will someday."

"You mean after all the time you have spent with Benson out in the woods or where ever you two have gone you have never...well...seen one another accidentally on purpose?" Stella asked.

"No. We've always respected each other's privacy."

"No matter, Janet, they all look a little different anyway. I've seen five or six and I can say of the three I used is they all did the same thing," Casey admitted with a smile.

I didn't say anything. Casey had experienced sex with three different guys—what about the others? I decided not to ask. I couldn't imagine it really, as she and I were about the same age—telling me we came from much different backgrounds. I wasn't envious per se, but all of them seemed to be telling me they had enjoyed their relationships—only theirs had included a penis and sex. Mine had emphasized virginity as a virtue, abstinence the rule, sex a gift from the Lord to be shared with the man I would marry and not before—it made me think about the times I had wanted to ignore the prohibition and give in to my urges.

Kayla looked at me thoughtfully. "You know, Janet, you and Benson have had something really special. I'm envious, I've never been that close with a guy and shared the kinds of things you've told us you've shared with Benson. You really know one another."

"Thank you. I guess it really is special, though it's been hard to think of it that way," I replied, knowing my parents' attitude regarding Benson was the reason. We talked for a while longer and I decided it was time to prepare for bed and rest before the start of classes in the morning.

The next day was exciting as I walked to my first class, feeling both the thrill of starting something new and at the same time anxious wondering if I was fully ready for this undertaking. I reminded myself that this was what life was about, pushing boundaries, finding, and exploring new worlds. A little over an hour later I walked out of my first class with a three chapter reading assignment.

I was definitely off to a fast start so I decided to go to the library and get started on the assignment before my next class. I managed to get through two chapters, augmenting my class notes before going to my next class at ten-twenty. After class I pulled my phone out and called Benson and we made plans to meet at the union cafeteria for lunch. I was standing outside the entrance when a guy walked up to me with a smile.

"Thanks for waiting, I wasn't sure I would find you here."

I looked at him confused. I hadn't a clue as to who he was. Why would he have thought I was waiting for him?

"I'm sorry, but I think you have me confused with someone else."

"Oh, maybe. But I'm sure I wouldn't forget a girl as pretty as you are. Remember, my name is Roy."

I felt myself flush a little. I mean what was I going to say about that? "I'm sorry Roy, but I really don't think we have met before, I've been in two classes this morning and don't remember seeing you in either of them."

"Hmmm, well...sorry for the mistake I guess, but you are pretty," he smiled as I shifted my weight onto my other foot feeling self-conscious. He was okay looking. I still wasn't sure how to respond when his gaze went to a point behind me, his expression changing. I turned to see Benson approaching from about ten feet away.

I smiled and took Benson's left hand as he stopped next to me, "Good morning, took you long enough," I teased seeing his smile.

"Good morning, Janet, friend of yours?" Benson asked casually.

"No, Roy, thought I was someone he knew already and discovered I wasn't," as I turned to Roy with a smile. "Roy, this is Benson," I watched as Benson proffered his hand and Roy took it—seemly half-heartedly.

"Well, a pleasure to have met both of you. Sorry for the confusion," as he turned and quickly walked away.

I looked at Benson, "That was different, I wonder why he thought he knew me?"

Benson looked at me with a smile, then firmed his grasp of my hand, "Oh, I think he just wanted to meet you. Are you ready to eat?"

"Yes, I'm hungry as a bear," I said, Roy completely forgotten as we headed into the cafeteria.

We talked about our first impressions of our professors and classes while we ate, then decided we would head back to the library to work on our first assignments. Afterward I would go back to the dorm for supper, and wait for Benson to come and pick me up. We would go for a drive to watch birds for a while to relax, then return to his apartment to study if we needed to, or relax if we didn't. We shared a quick kiss as we parted and I walked away feeling pleased and confident with our first day of classes.

By Friday afternoon we had established a routine, making the transition a smooth one. I still had time with my roommates in the evenings and my friendships with them grew. I was happy and comfortable with life until Friday evening when my phone rang—it was my mother, obviously time for what I expected would become a weekly checkup. I was sitting curled up next to Benson and rose to take the call, standing a few feet away from the sofa looking out the window.

"Hi, Mom."

"Hello, Janet, I thought I would call to see how your week has gone. Have you made it to the campus Worship Center yet?"

I felt my heart sink. Right away she made it clear she didn't understand I was done with that part of my life. I really didn't want to start the semester off having to deal with this, so I decided to dodge the question.

"No, not yet. It's been a busy week. I like my classes and professors, but they throw an awful lot of work at you right from the start. I've spent most of my time between classes studying at the library."

"You should make sure to make time for prayer, you know that will help, the Lord will guide you."

I felt my stomach tighten, I really wanted to hang up, but knew I shouldn't. I was trying to find something else to talk about that wouldn't point to religion, but couldn't, not with her.

"Where are you Janet? I don't hear your roommates in the background."

I felt myself sink lower, this wasn't going to end well, and it couldn't if I were to answer truthfully. I swallowed hard, knowing that it wouldn't serve me in the long-term not to be honest. I gambled, maybe I could blunt the question.

"I'm at a friend's apartment."

There was a long pause. I held my breath, maybe she wouldn't ask.

"Are you with Benson?" the tone of her voice a little less friendly than before.

My heart stopped, I swallowed hard again. "Yes, we're just relaxing. Both of us have been busy studying, so it's nice to catch up," trying not to reveal we had been seeing one another every evening.

Another long pause ensued, "So is he enjoying his classes?"

I breathed a sigh of relief as I replied, "Yes, he says he is, but he has more homework than I have, so he's keeping pretty busy."

"I see. Well, I should let you go. I have some things to get done yet and your father should be home from his home visits almost any time now."

"Thanks for calling Mom. Tell Dad I love him that goes for you too."

The connection ended and I set my phone down on the coffee table and sat down next to Benson again feeling like I had dodged a bullet. It felt good, yet didn't. Were they, was she, ever going to accept Benson was part of my life?

I snuggled into Benson and felt his arm come across my shoulders. I closed my eyes as his chin nestled into my hair. "It wasn't all that bad was it?" he asked, "I thought it sounded good."

"No, I guess not. At least she asked about you, I hadn't expected that. Why do you always seem to be so optimistic?"

"I have no reason not to be, I have you here with me, that's all I really need."

It was as if Benson knew exactly what I needed when I needed it. His words warmed me, filled me with joy, with hope. Whenever my parents words sent me down, his lifted me up. I lay against him, my shield against that part of the world that would do me harm, that told me I was something I chose not to be. But Benson's words told me I was important to him, he wanted me, needed me at his side, and made me determined to be what he wanted me to be—myself.

As we lay there listening to music from his stereo I thought back to conversations with my roommates and their impressions of me and of Benson. It was the first time anyone I knew as friends had revealed their impressions of me as an individual and us as a couple—there was no denying they saw Benson and I as a couple. I smiled to myself as another conversation came into my mind—it was time. I moved a little to be sure it was a good time and found it was as I glanced down at his crotch.

"Benson would you do me a favor?"

"Sure, what do you need?"

"I need you to do this right away, without thinking. I know it's going to sound strange, but I need to experience something with you."

"Janet, that sounds kind of ominous. Okay, I'll do it. What is it?"

"Stand up and pull your pants and underwear down, right now, don't wait. I want to see," moving away from him so he could stand up unimpeded.

I watched as he stood, unbuttoned his pants, letting them fall to the floor, and pulled down his briefs, until they lay atop his pants at his feet. He was right in front of me, no more than three feet away. My gaze went to his patch of dark pubic hair as my breath quickened—there it was. There it was!

I took a deep breath, it wasn't beautiful, but it wasn't ugly either, at least not when this small.

"Benson, can I touch it?"

"Janet", his voice soft, "you may. But if you do it's not going to stay this way for long."

I reached over gingerly with my index finger and touched just below the tip and quickly withdrew my finger. Oh my! The large, limp, pinkish worm had moved! I slowly moved my finger to touch it again, in the same location, pressing down a little more firmly, before removing my finger again. It felt soft, the skin like velvet, warm to the touch. I looked up at Benson's face—it wore a hint of a grin. I smiled back, somewhat mischievously, feeling I had accomplished exactly what I had intended. I blurted out, "So that's what it looks like."

"Not for long Janet," he replied as I shifted my gaze back to his dick, a term Casey had used.

I watched as it began to grow upward, stiffening and changing color slightly. I don't know exactly how long it took, but not long. When it was finished elongating it stood out at an angle pointing upward from his body, his scrotum hanging below. I took another deep breath and using my fingertips, ran them along what was now a hardened, stiff, appendage. It was warm to the touch, stiff, yet the skin moved a little when I pressed downward, the head was a bluish-purple color. It dawned on me he was circumcised—after all these years together I had never known this about him.

"Janet, have you seen enough?"

"Yes," I said quietly as I slid backward onto the sofa farther, watching it move stiffly as he began to bend down to pull his underwear and pants back up. He buttoned his pants and sat down next to me again. I immediately moved next to him, felt his arm come across my shoulders, and lay my head down on his shoulder. I didn't say anything for a while, he didn't either.

As I sat there I felt as if a gap in my knowledge had been filled. It really had been a mystery, yet not a mystery—after all my roommates had pretty much detailed what it was I saw. Now, after all of the times I had felt his hardness against me through his clothes as we lay together, the times he had tried to conceal the bulge in his pants from me as we walked or talked—I now had a mental image of what it looked like. Then, as weird as it sounds, I said softly, "Thank you."

That night after he took me back to the dorm, we kissed, then he left me alone, my roommates had already gone with their boyfriends for the night. I showered, dressed, and got into bed thinking I didn't want to be alone, not when I had someone that cared so much for me so close. Someone who had satisfied my curiosity and didn't make me feel as if I were asking for something I shouldn't have. Then, the strangest thought of all came into my mind—it really would fit in me wouldn't it?