Category: Independent Stories


Bumpers

man-falling-down-mdShe’s gonna blow…”

“No…no no nonono…” Emmet chanted, his eyes on the same tourist they both all watching.

“She’s about to…. oh, there she goes,” Raven said, unnecessarily booting Emmet in the rump. It was his turn.

Emmet launched himself through the crowd, vacuum in hand, followed closely by a herd of cleaning bots, maneuvering expertly in the microgravity.

“Allow me to assist you,” he said to the green-faced woman.

“Mmm…” was all she could mumble, looking like she might throw up again.

He set the vacuum to its task and placed one arm around the woman’s back while placing a barf bag near her face, activating the oxy flow. “Place this over your mouth. It will help you breathe, and contain any more regurgitation.”

Fortunately, she did as she was told. Some people resisted, insisting they were fine and then proceeding to make an even bigger mess.

A couple of rubberneckers almost missed the turn, but Raven launched out and politely nudged them back into position. The flow of tourists and commuters continued to move through the space, being gently pushed along by the bumpers. Emmet carefully maneuvered the woman out of the flow and over to the aid station. “Just put your legs through here…” he said, guiding her to the rails. “It’s just like you’re sitting down…there…”

Once she was settled, Emmet turned back to see if the bots had finished what they needed to do. The vacuum had returned to its station, emptying and cleaning itself. Raven was spraying the mist that would trap any remaining bits as they floated to the filter intake.

Just beyond Raven, there was a disturbance in the pedestrian flow. A largish man was trying to get back through the crowd, pushing people out of the way as he bounced along the corridor.

“Sir!” Emmet called out to him. “Please go with the traffic. There is a U-turn about twenty meters ahead if you need to come back this way.”

The man looked angry, and he was focused on Emmet. “You!” he yelled, followed by something unintelligible.

Emmet looked left and right, but the man was definitely focused on him.

“Sir, you must move with the flow of traffic,” Raven called out, helping the people who had been pushed away from the bumpers back into the flow. It would be disastrous if they ended up with a jam. A large ship had just docked, and people needed to get from one place to another.

Emmet punched his security call button, and the bumpers automatically slowed to half speed. A confused murmur echoed through the crowd as they adjusted to the slower movement. “Sir? Sir!” Emmet dodged as the man launched himself directly at him. The man yelled something in a language Emmet didn’t understand, but it was obvious he was outraged at something Emmet had done.

“Security! Help!” Emmet called, abandoning protocol in an effort to escape. He watched in horror as the man put his hands on the sick woman, attempting to pull her away from the aid station.

Rubberneckers were causing a pileup as more people missed the turnoff, floating away from the bumpers. Raven, who would usually have swept in and nudged them along, turned turbo and launched herself at the angry man. She latched onto his back, then sprayed a mist directly at his face. “Here, sir,” she said, her voice dripping with sarcastic triumph. “This will help you breathe.”

The bumpers stopped, and a soothing computer voice instructed everyone to remain calm in several languages. The angry man slumped, not quite unconscious, but no longer struggling or fighting.

A security detail zipped in on turbo, and Raven handed the groggy offender off to them.

The sick woman called out something in a language Emmet didn’t understand, struggling to extricate her legs from the rails at the aid station. She floated out and Emmet extended a hand to her. She pulled herself to him, then pushed away, directly toward the security detail.

“Husband!” she said, gently grabbing the man in custody. “Idiot,” she said apologetically.

The security detail nodded, and carried her along with them as they removed him from the area and the bumpers started up again.

Emmet let out the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding. Raven came over and slapped his back, sending him spinning.

“You should get hazard pay for that one!” she joked.

“That’ll be the day,” Emmet mumbled, righting himself so he could look down the corridor at the oncoming traffic. A small boy, being held tightly by his mother, was holding his hands over his mouth. “Just promise me you’ll get the next one.”

I fell off the writing wagon a few weeks ago and needed to shake things up a bit to get back in the swing. This is just a random, off the cuff story. I hope you enjoyed it.

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imagesPolly had expected to be jealous of the new young wife. At her own wedding twelve years ago, she had known that the group of five spouses wasn’t quite complete yet. When Jacen and Murit joined the marriage five years later, bringing the total number of spouses to seven, there was still a hovering sense that one more spouse would bring them to a perfect eight, just like the nobility.

Polly’s parents had been a perfect eight. They had known each other for several years before having a rozloučení in which the eight of them said a fond farewell to any other romantic entanglements they had. Soon after, they were engaged, and a year later they had one huge wedding.

Polly’s own marriage was a little different. She and Aaron had been a couple since they were teenagers, but they decided they would postpone marriage until they found a few more spouses. When they did, they had a nice normal wedding and began their happy lives.

The five of them all felt that they wanted a larger family, especially after the first couple of kids came along. When they met Jacen and Murit, it seemed meant to be. Polly didn’t remember any particular conflict or jealousy then…

But Abigail was young. Not particularly pretty,but they all loved her. The third wedding brought their group to a perfect eight.

Polly confided to her wives that she was concerned about the sexual relationship…her own breasts were not as perky as they once were, and her stomach bore the marks of two pregnancies. She needn’t have worried. Abigail was sweet, but she was a selfish lover. Not in any extreme way…she was just…young.

Then it started. First, it was the kids. They adored her, of course. Who wouldn’t love the Mommy who rough housed with you at bedtime and gave you snacks when dinner was almost ready? Polly seemed to be the only spouse who noticed. At first, she gently reminded the family that they should calm down before bed, or refrain from eating candy before dinner.

No one joined her. It seemed to be her niche in the family; she was the announcer of rules. The enforcer.

The bad guy.

Next, it was the husbands. Polly enjoyed a glass of wine now and then, and there was usually a bottle open on the table at dinner time. But Abigail treated alcohol like a toy. Sometimes she had a little too much. Polly’s formerly responsible and subdued husbands seemed to find Abigail’s drinking entertaining, and they started drinking with her, sometimes right after lunch. Again, it was Polly who was the one to gently chide “All right, that’s enough,” or “Maybe we should save that bottle for after dinner?”

Even when no alcohol was involved, they gravitated to Abigail.

Polly prodded them to get up in the mornings.

Abigail encouraged them to stay up late at night.

Polly went to the parent-teacher conferences and made the tough decisions.

Abigail played with the kids whenever she felt like it, then walked away when she was tired.

…and then Polly’s sister delivered a beautiful set of twins several weeks earlier than planned. Polly and Murit flew out to help out and be with the family for a month. Polly talked to her spouses and kids every day, but when they asked her about some detail like whether their snowpants from last year still fit, she simply waved and smiled and told them to ask one of the parents who was still home.

When they returned home, Abigail was gone.

Herb propped his feet on the coffee table without taking off his shoes because there were no wives around to nag him.

Wife, not wives.

He reached out an arm to ask his husband to hand him the extra pillow that their wives kept moving back to the fancy-chair-no-one-sits-in, but Raj wasn’t there.

One wife. One husband. How old fashioned. How Earth-like.

Allora wasn’t home, or if she was, she was being quiet somewhere. He didn’t know, and largely didn’t care.

It’s not like she’d seek out my company…

“Herb?” he turned to see Allora in the doorway. Her arms were crossed over her chest, her eyes were red and puffy.

Wait… what does that mean? I think she’s… sad. Of course she’s sad. It’s only been a few months, but… what does she want from me?

“Yes?” He sat up in his chair and twisted around to see her.

He didn’t get up.

Allora glanced around the room. What she was looking for, he had no idea.

Yes I do. She’s looking for someone who knows what’s going on in her head without her having to say it out loud. Someone who died three months ago.

“I was just wondering… were you going to bed soon?” she asked quietly.

That sounds like an easy question. It must be a trick… a trap… Allora never really says what she means. I’ve gone to bed at nine every night of our marriage. Twenty years of habit, and she doesn’t know that?

Herb glanced at the clock. “I’ll be going up in about a half hour.” He hesitated to add one last word but something in his wife’s eyes made him want to at least try to figure out what was wrong with her. “Why?”

“I was just wondering… we probably don’t need two beds anymore.”

This was written for the Write On Edge prompt to write from a man’s POV. I regularly switch back and forth from male to female as I write, but it is true that I’m more comfortable with the female POV. We only had 300 words.

The story of Allora and Herb is one I began several months ago and never finished. At 300 words, this is really is just a scene, not a story. I’d like to finish it someday. Writing about a world where group marriage is common opens up all kinds of interesting scenarios… in this case, Allora and Herb lose their “better half” in an accident, and realize that over the twenty-some years they’ve been married, the two of them have grown apart. The two spouses who died were the two that kept the union going. Now that it’s just Herb and Allora, they have to figure out how to get along when it’s just the two of them.

The shortlink for this post is http://wp.me/p1rMYd-jW

A Charitable Heart

I have endured a certain degree of fame for the rather humiliating story of heartbreak that led to my entering into the service of the Kingdom.

But that was neither the first, nor the worst.

Actually, they say the first is automatically the worst, do they not? That first wrenching twist that makes the heart realize that all those dreams of happily-ever-after are just that… dreams. Not real. Unrequited love is an evil unknown to a young heart who has experienced nothing but unbridled affection for all its life.

I was ten and a half. For those of you on Earth, that’s about the same age as a thirteen-year-old girl. His name was Roth, and he was exactly one day older than I.

Roth was not the handsomest or most popular boy, but I thought he was perfect. We had several classes together at school, and spent every free moment together.

…at school.

Of course, when I went home each evening, it was to the county seat, as my parents are the Counts and Contessas of Finborough. That didn’t mean I was completely sheltered… just… very sheltered. My social life consisted of events, with chaperones and schedules and a strict curfew. But when it was a school related event, Roth was there.

And then came my eleventh birthday. I was going to be allowed, for the first time, to have a separate party with the extended family, and then a smaller, more intimate party with just my friends. I wanted a small group. My addled adolescent brain thought it would be nice to have four boys and four girls; a perfect eight, exactly like an ideal marriage.

Looking back now, that was a very, very bad idea. A couple of my friends thought it was a terribly romantic gesture, and RSVP’d enthusiastically. But I found out later that others thought I was a pretentious brat, creating her own marriageable group.

I can’t say they were wrong. I did pick out friends whom I thought would make an ideal marriage of eight. I even did a little fantasizing about what it would be like when we all grew up and got married.

Roth didn’t turn down the invitation. He just avoided me. I’m not sure what happened when my parents’ scheduler contacted his parents and asked about whether or not he would attend, but my eleventh birthday turned into me and four friends (two of whom I almost did marry, but that’s the other story) having a nice fancy dinner, spending the evening talking about how horrid all the others were, and speculating about why they decided not to come.

It wasn’t long after that Roth became involved with an older boy and a couple of girls I didn’t know. It was like he was purposely removing himself from my company, making a point to create a public display of affection in his happy little foursome whenever I was near. I wish we’d had some real understanding, that he had viciously dumped me in a passionate display of anger. But all I had was a broken idea… a happily ever after that had apparently just been in my own mind.

This story was written for the Write On Edge prompt:

This week we’d like you to explore romantic heartbreak. For you fiction writers, here’s a chance to really delve into the psyche of your character. For you non-fiction folk, well, maybe it’s into your psyche you must delve. We all remember that first love, just like we all remember when our hearts broke for the first time.

Write a piece – 600 word limit – about the first heartbreak your character or you experienced.

This story isn’t related to any of my others. I often use Charity Kochsato, the Violet Duchess of Drakeshead, when I have a prompt like this.

The shortlink for this post is http://wp.me/p1rMYd-8s

Life

This week I had two prompts to combine. Friday’s interview is with John Hancock, an artist who also dabbles in fiction. He sent me a dozen pictures to illustrate the interview, which pleases me immensely!

One of the pictures looks like a watercolor, and it is titled “nude”. It is beautiful. It is simple, and shows two women reclining. But I hesitated to put the image into the actual interview, because I had expressly stated that, although Under Loch and Key contains stories of an adult nature, there would be no inappropriate pictures on either blog. Titled “Nude” it misses being PG on a technicality.

But this is too good to resist.

I decided to amend the disclaimer to say that The Inverness Press will not contain any images that are at all questionable, but Under Loch and Key may include some pictures of a sensual nature.

Knowing that John’s (AKA Grokdad on twitter) interview would be going up on Friday, the same day as the Red Dress Club has their link-up, I told myself that I would see if I could take whatever their prompt was this week, and fit it to a story made just for this picture. I think it works well. As are most of my stories, this one is set on the fictional planet Kingdom Come, where marriages of 4 men to 4 women are common.

The prompt is “This week focus on the words and the strength of each to contribute to your story. Write a 300 word piece using the following word for inspiration: LIFE.”

Calanthe did not so much as flinch when the wet towel snapped a mere millimeter from her naked thigh.

“Out! Up! Off the bed you lazy beasts!” Eusebia commanded theatrically.

Thisbe rolled over onto her back, one arm casually bent around the back of her head as if daring her domineering wife to use her nipple as a target.

Eusebia rolled the towel up again, raising an eyebrow and threatening to do exactly that.

Thisbe stuck her tongue out at her.

Calanthe rolled over onto her stomach, presenting a wider target to their towel-wielding wife.

Phaedra, the fourth wife, dove dramatically into the bed, disrupting all. “But we are widows! We should mourn! We should be wearing sackcloth, and covering ourselves in ashes…”

Eusebia rolled her eyes and slapped Calanthe’s buttocks with the no-longer-rolled-up towel. “Golf widows. We are golf widows. That does not mean we surrender and die.”

Phaedra made a dramatic production out of turning over and sitting up on the oversoft bed; almost, but not quite convincing her other wives to give up their sleeping place. “I want to live!” she declared, and they all dissolved into fits of giggles.

Such was life.

The shortlink for this post is http://wp.me/p1rMYd-4U

The shortlink for John’s interview is http://wp.me/p1qnT4-cv

And here is a thumbnail that should be facebook-safe.

This story, just under 6,000 words, is set on Kingdom Come, but it is not related to any of the novels.  It does include a scene that is inappropriate for kids. My thanks to James Cawley and Patty Wright for letting me use a picture of the Ticonderoga Elvis for this story.  Thanks also to my friend Tristan Newsome, who let me mash him up with Johnny Cash and kill him off in my story!

Lahla had enough of zombies, ninjas, and aliens to last a lifetime.  Two lifetimes, even.  Zombies, generally speaking, could not dance at all.  Ninjas were worse, because they thought they could, but were usually very wrong.  Aliens were usually overly concerned that their make-up or costumes would be damaged, and refused to even try to learn the choreography.  Her job was difficult, to say the least.

What Lahla was absolutely sick of was the Elvi.  Cassidy had been the best that Three Ring Circuit, Lahla’s parents’ production studio, had ever seen.  And for six months, Lahla had sighed and moaned and screamed (in a good way), and agreed… Cassidy really was the best… in many ways.

But the months of passion and puppy love had come to an abrupt end when Lahla delivered the news that Cassidy would not be starring in TRC’s next big production.  She was undoubtedly the best Elvis impersonator the studio had ever seen – especially considering the fact that she was a woman – but she simply wasn’t right for any of the upcoming major roles.  Cassidy had stormed off the set right in the middle of rehearsal, scattering ninjas in her wake and yelling some rather vile insults regarding Lahla’s sexual habits.  She certainly understood how to make a scene.

Fortunately, Lahla’s brother Tee had been on hand, working with the small orchestra, and he told her to go home and blow off some steam while he took over both the musical and dance aspects of the rehearsal.  “Tee” was short for Tchaikovsky, and his specialty was orchestral scores.  Like all their siblings, Tee and Lahla worked with their parents; Three Ring Circuit was very much a family business.

Lahla arrived home to find zombie ninjas picnicking on her lawn, but that wasn’t the worst of her problems.  She had forgotten that today was the day they were rearranging the neighborhood to look like the sleepy backwater town at the end of the movie, where they set up the teaser for the sequel.  She watched as the last of the pods were assembled by crane, and the scenery people swooped in to construct the façade.

It was very convenient to live on the lot, and it definitely saved money.  She liked most of her family, from her siblings to the various cousins who lived and worked at the studio.  Having her housing regularly rearranged was inconvenient, but it helped to keep life interesting.  Her own pods consisted of one average four meter by four meter cube for her bedroom, a second that she used as a sitting room and office, and a third cube the same size that was her bathroom, closet, and a hallway that made it simpler to connect to whatever it needed to connect to.  Sometimes her pods were simply an extension off the back of the façade, and might never appear in the film.  Other times, her pods ended up on a third or fourth floor, and she found herself climbing stairs several times a day.

She joined the actors on their blanket.  “Hey Lahla,” said one ninja, zombie slime oozing from an open gash on his arm.

“You’re done early.” mentioned a woman with one eyeball dangling from the socket.

Lahla accepted a bag of potato chips from a ninja who looked like he had yet to be zombified.  “Cassidy dumped me,” she announced.  “Rather dramatically, too.  Stormed right out of rehearsal.”

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that, sweetie…” cooed the arm gash zombie.

“I’m not!”  exclaimed the eyeball zombie.  “Cassidy’s a real Ching-wah tsao duh liou mahng.  You’re better off without her.”  Everyone on the blanket laughed.

Although there were still a number of prop people attaching siding and architectural bits to the outside of the house, an upstairs window opened and Lahla’s sister Soh leaned out.  “Hey!  Lahla!  I’ll bet you dish duty you can’t find your own room in less than two minutes!”

“You’re on!”  Lahla yelled, jumping up from the blanket amidst the laughter of her zombified friends.  The first door she tried turned out to be fake, but she quickly found another way inside.  “Where are the frakking stairs?” she cursed as she quickly moved through the rooms on the first floor.  She found them off the kitchen and took them two at a time, but it turned out that they only led to a couple of rooms, neither of which seemed to connect to the rest of the second floor.

She jumped down the stairs and raced around looking for another way up.  Finally, she passed through their game room pod and found another pod beyond that had a bathroom and more stairs.  At the top, she heard her sister’s voice teasing, “One more minute!”

She found her sister at the end of the hall.  “Congratulations!  You found my room.  Now where’s yours?”

Lahla grinned and took off like a shot.  She returned to the stairs, which continued up one more flight.  Her sister’s voice rang out behind her, counting down.  “Ten, nine, eight…”  Lahla recognized several doors with her siblings’ personalizations.  Tee’s had the theme music from Farstar, his favorite flick, etched across the center panel.  Their brother Fah’s door was constantly changing, but always featured some scene of hand-to-hand combat.

Soh followed her up the stairs.  “Three… two… ONE!”  She called out just as Lahla discovered that the hallway made an “L” at the end.  From there it connected to her bath and closet pod, then her bedroom pods at the end.

Soh wrapped her arms around Lahla’s waist from behind.  “I heard what Cassidy did, sweetie.  But you’re better off without her.  She’s a real Ching-wah tsao duh liou mahng.  I just wish you’d been the one to dump her, not the other way around.  She was only using you, you know.”

Lahla leaned back against her sister, grateful for the support that was both physical and emotional.  “That seems to be the general opinion, as well as the applied insult of the day.”  She removed her sister’s arms and started poking around her room.  They had changed a wall out, so she had two window walls instead of just one.  She tried to remember what she’d had hanging on the missing wall, but Soh was already taking frames and things out of the box under her bed for her. 

“How did you hear about it so fast?”

Soh laughed.  “Hear about it?  Darling, I not only heard about it, I saw it six different ways.  Ray even edited it together, and Mimi added in sound effects.”  Lahla stared in open mouthed disbelief, then closed her mouth, realizing she should have expected as much from her family.  “Don’t worry.  They made you look like a hero, standing there taking it all with grace, while Cassidy looks like an idiot.  They’re currently working on adding a devil’s tail and horns…”  Soh’s link chimed a rather cutesy melody.  “Oh, look, they’re done!”

Lahla watched over her sister’s shoulder a very well-edited clip of Cassidy dumping her, loudly and profanely, in front of a large crowd of zombies, ninjas, and aliens.  There were reaction shots from the crowd, and Cassidy had excrement shooting out of her mouth as horns grew on her head.  She even sprouted a tail as she stormed off the set.  Altogether, it was less than three minutes long, and had occurred less than a half hour before.

Lahla had to admit, seeing her ex-girlfriend vilified in such a way did help to make her feel better.  Being in a creative and loving family had its benefits.

After dinner, three of their six mothers descended on the house, raving about how awful Cassidy was and how glad they were to finally be rid of her.  Lahla’s oldest sister, Doe, broke the news that Cassidy had formally turned in her resignation through her agent, and was currently bad mouthing Three Ring Circuit and their entire family via any and every outlet she could find.  The good news was, the Grimm family was universally loved by scores of fans and employees, and the counter-publicity was viral and effective.

By the end of the evening, all six mothers, four fathers, fifteen siblings and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins  and a bunch of unidentified children  descended on the pod house.  There was universal agreement that Cassidy was a frog humping son of a bitch, and Lahla was a bit disconcerted that her family was so quick to condemn the woman that, ’til a few hours ago, had been one of their star performers and Lahla’s girlfriend.

“Did anyone in this family approve of our relationship?” she asked the room at large.

A female cousin wrapped an arm around her.  “Oh, sweetheart, we haven’t seen a disaster like that since the last time you dated a drummer!”

“We were just too polite to say anything…” added a random voice from the family crowd.

“Since when has this family ever been guilty of being ‘too polite’ about anything?”  Lahla demanded, only half joking.

The laughter that answered her question was drowned out by her father’s voice singing out, “Do… Ray Mi Fa So La Ti…” instead of the final “Do” he ended with, “…and everyone else.”  It was the standard way of getting the entire family’s attention.  Lahla winced and smiled simultaneously whenever she heard it.  It was amusing that her musically inclined parents had named their children after the solfège syllables, and only marginally embarrassing. 

“As we all mourn the loss of our star Elvis impersonator…”  This comment was greeted with more laughter.  “Three Ring Circuit still has the problem of whom to cast in the Tristan Cash biopic.”  The laughter died away, the air in the room growing tense as the company pondered whether an announcement was about to be made, or if the boss was going to ask for suggestions.

“Fortunately, Cassidy may have solved that problem for us.”  Lahla’s head snapped towards her father, wondering how Cassidy’s dramatic departure could possibly help.  Glancing around the room, she saw that she was not the only one wondering.  “Those of you who knew her knew that Cassidy was fond of referring to herself as the ‘evil twin’.  Her ‘good’ twin Casey is not only an impersonator, but a much better actor than Cassidy.  I asked their agent long ago if Casey would be interested in working on something with Three Ring Circuit.”

“But Cassidy hates Casey…” Lahla interrupted.

“My point exactly!”  Her father explained.  “Their agent said that Casey would never have anything to do with us as long as Cassidy was part of the company.  But now…”

“I’m on it!” declared Lahla’s little brother Shoshta.  Being named after a composer whose name was a colloquial curse word had made Shoshta rather bold.  The room erupted into contemplative murmurs and Lahla made her way to Shoshta’s side.

“Shostokovich, what do you have up your sleeve?” she demanded, deliberately implying both name and curse.

Their cousin, the magician, took advantage of her straight line to reach into Shoshta’s sleeve, miraculously pulling out a small chick.  “Something fowl!” he proclaimed, earning groans and laughs from those who had gathered close.

“Casey commented on the video…” Shoshta announced, reading his link.

“What did she say?” someone in the back of the crowd asked.

“You didn’t need the special effects to see Cassidy’s true personality shine through.”  Shoshta announced.  “and then Cassidy herself added something that I won’t repeat in the presence of children.”  A chorus of disappointed youngsters answered him as he keyed in something else.  The company watched as his lips twitched, then he smiled.  “We have a meeting!  Tomorrow at nine!”  The crowd cheered.

Lahla was busy rehearsing the big Bollywood zombie dance number when she heard the news that Casey had agreed to film the scenes that Cassidy hadn’t finished yet, and she was in negotiations to play Tristan Cash in the studio’s next big feature.

Lahla had just about decided that zombies were never meant to do the Bardo Chham when she heard loud anachronistic engine sounds. Her dancers parted like the Dead Sea to let a rather large motorcycle through. Her heart skipped a beat, thinking for just a second that it was Cassidy, come back to make another scene, but then she realized it must be Casey. The choreographer stood her ground as the newcomer parked, casually dismounted, and approached her. She refused to react. Casey was every bit as gorgeous as Cassidy. Even more so, as she exuded an intensely masculine Elvis swagger that Cassidy, as talented as she was, had never been able to produce. Casey even had realistic sideburns, a dedication to the act that Lahla admired.

Lahla considered yelling at the intruder, but she knew that her parents had been hoping to lure Casey to their studio for a long time, and she didn’t want to endanger the new relationship. She waved, “Take five,” to her zombies, most of whom promptly sat down or reclined to watch the drama unfold between the two of them.  So much for privacy.

Casey approached Lahla languidly, appraising her from head to toe. The choreographer met the Elvis impersonator’s gaze assertively, only raising one eyebrow to question the interruption of her rehearsal. Casey didn’t say a word, but the actor’s body language made it clear that Lahla’s sari-clad body was quite pleasing.

Lahla suppressed a shiver. She did not want to react to Casey, but something about the presumptuous manner in which the impersonator had approached her was more arousing than annoying. The zombies needed a break anyway; nothing had been lost.

“Wanna make my sister jealous?” Casey uttered in a perfect Presley accent.

“What?”  Lahla asked.  That was not what she had expected her ex-girlfriend’s twin to say.

Casey smiled, and casually walked back to the absurdly large motorcycle.  “You.  Me.  Dinner.  Eight.”

Lahla let a little grin sneak onto her face. Revenge?

Revenge was a dish best served cold, and she was feeling rather hot. Perhaps a dinner date could solve that problem.  Or feed it…

“Dinner.”  Lahla answered, as if promising nothing more. But the knowing look in Casey’s eye before she drove off promised that their date would not end with a simple meal.

Lahla had her sisters’ help whether she wanted it or not. Knowing that the theme of the date was “let’s make that bitch forget she ever dumped me,” they chose the slinkiest, sexiest sari any of them owned.  “Isn’t this the one Jen wore in that scene from  “A Knight to Remember?” Mimi asked.

“Mmm Hmmm!” Soh purred. Soh knew costuming, and the steamiest sex scene from “A Knight to Remember” had begun with the female lead wearing that exact outfit, down to the costume jewelry.  But it was a contemporary flick, and Lahla looked gorgeous in it.

Elvis, AKA Casey, arrived at the pod house promptly at eight, riding in a rickshaw pulled by a very large and muscular young man. Lahla considered being fashionably late and making an entrance, but she was justifiably afraid of what her siblings might do if left alone with her date for very long. She started down the stairs as soon as she saw the rickshaw pull up.

Being a dancer, Lahla knew how to walk down a flight of stairs and show her legs to their best advantage. Casey was still sporting true Presley style, although it was toned down enough to be appropriate for a night on the town. The impersonator eyed her appreciatively as she descended to the foyer.  “You’re the devil in disguise.”

Lahla smiled at the cheesy compliment.  “Shall we go?” she asked, eager to leave before her family embarrassed her more than was absolutely necessary.

Casey held the door for her, then helped her into the rickshaw. She smiled at the driver, a nice young man she used to babysit.  “I hope she’s paying you well, George.” She quipped.

“Hon’s promised me a nice, healthy tip if I don’t end up behind or next to any horses when we reach city traffic.”  George grinned. Lahla wondered at the gender neutral pronoun “hon,” but since Casey was dressed as a man, it wasn’t too unusual.

Lahla turned to Casey as George pulled them away from the house.  “Do you prefer ‘hon’ or…”

Tristan Cash

“He’ is fine.” Casey answered. Lahla wondered if ‘he’ had his eyes on playing Tristan Cash. It wasn’t unheard of for a woman to play a male lead, if her build was appropriate and she had the talent.  Lahla had to admit, Casey made a damn fine looking male.

George pulled the rickshaw smoothly from the studio gate into Tinseltown traffic, pausing just a moment longer than necessary so that a horse-drawn carriage full of tourists would be well ahead of them. They found a niche between a trio of scooters and a tour bus instead. It was a short ride to Gabby’s, one of the trendiest new restaurants in town. The maître d’ recognized them and led them to a table right away. It was one advantage to belonging to one of the world’s best-known production studios; although she wasn’t one of the stars, those whose job is was to know who’s who in Tinseltown knew who she was. More than one patron at the restaurant snapped an image or vid of them as they walked to their table. Lahla wondered how much editing her siblings would do to the visuals once they were shared. She half expected to return home to a highlight reel titled, “The Best Moments from Tonight’s Date.”

“So, are you allergic to horses?” Lahla asked, after the waiter took their drink order.

“No…” Casey replied, “just don’t like them.  I don’t mind working with kids, but I’ve had a couple bad experiences with animals.”

“Really?”  Lahla asked, wondering.  It felt strange, sitting there with someone who looked so much like her ex-girlfriend. The only things Cassidy had ever said about her own twin were allusions to the idea that Casey was the ‘good’ twin, and Cassidy herself was the ‘evil’ one. Lahla had wondered what caused the rift, but the question seemed a bit too personal for a first date.

Casey related two rather humorous anecdotes about acting alongside farm animals, and Lahla laughed at all the right times. They were highly visible in the restaurant, and both of them were very conscious of the eyes that were on them from all directions. Cassidy would certainly hear about her ex-lover dating her twin before the night was over, and that was the goal of the date, after all.

Lahla subtly let their legs touch under the table, and Casey put a hand on her thigh. They played it up over dessert, sharing a dish and seeming to be completely wrapped up in each other.

George was waiting with the rickshaw when they left the restaurant. Lahla spotted a knot of plotters across the street, stalking the restaurant and taking pictures of everyone who was anyone coming out. Casey saw them too, and as soon as they were in the rickshaw he leaned in to kiss her, throwing in a not so  innocent grope of her breast in the process.

“Did they get that?”  Casey asked as George pulled them into traffic. Lahla laughed and readjusted her sari.

“I hope so!” she answered.

Casey raised an eyebrow. “You hope so?  Why?” he teased. “I know there was garlic on that steak, but was the kiss really that bad?”

Lahla tried to make out his features in the glaring and changing lights of the Tinseltown street.  She thought there was a hint of actual hurt in Casey’s voice, but she couldn’t be sure. After all, he was an actor…and wasn’t he taking her out just so he could piss off his twin sister?

As they passed a particularly illuminating light, Lahla saw that his face showed what seemed like genuine sincerity, and hope. Well, he might be a good actor, but she was willing to play out the evening, wherever it led.

The first place it led was to a popular club.  It felt good to let loose and just dance. Lahla spent all day at work with elaborate choreographies for extras who may have little or no dance experience.  But at night, it was her time. No steps to memorize or teach, just music and movement and the crush of bodies sweating it out on the dance floor.

She was impressed that Casey was more than willing and perfectly able to keep up with her. His hips swiveled and shimmied to song after song, ‘til it was well past midnight and they were both exhausted.

They joined some of her friends in a booth towards the back, and Casey excused himself for a moment.

“Lahla!  I thought you and Cassidy were…”

“That’s not Cassidy. That’s her twin!” explained one of the friends.

They all offered their opinions of Lahla’s ex, which were unsurprisingly similar to the opinions already expressed by everyone at Three Ring Circuit.  They were interrupted by the exodus of the live band, replaced by the strains of a very old song.

Lights came up on stage, and there was Casey, sideburns and rhinestones, posing in the spotlight. The first line of the song was drowned out by loud cheers from the still rowdy crowd, but when Lahla heard “All this aggravation ain’t satisfactioning me,” she knew exactly what song it was.  She got up and dove into the crowd, whirling with the other dancers on the floor to the familiar tune.

Casey’s on stage antics had the crowd whipped into a frenzy, and Lahla was no exception. It felt good to let herself go, publically proclaiming that being dumped was not going to slow down her social life in the least.

Two songs later, Casey went to chat with the band while the sound system took over the intermission with a complicated multimedia show. Lahla pushed her way through the crush on the dance floor to rejoin her friends.

Several voices spoke at once.  “He’s great!” and, “She was fantastic!”

Tristan Cash

“She prefers ’he’, at least for now,” Lahla clarified.  “Hopefully he’ll play Tristan Cash in the new flick.”

“The one your Mom wrote?”

Lahla nodded, knowing what was coming next. 

“Did your mom really almost marry him?”

Lahla related the story exactly as she did every time someone asked.  “…so, no, they didn’t almost get married.  I think she knew the kind of man he was, and was happy to enjoy the affair while it lasted, and then just walk away.”

“She walked away from the Tristan Cash?” more than one person asked incredulously.

Fortunately Casey chose that moment to return, and Lahla turned her attention to the reason she was there.

Lahla returned to the pod house in the wee hours of the morning to find her siblings munching popcorn and watching a highlight reel of her date.  Soh turned when she heard Lahla come in.  “And just where is his hand going?” she demanded as a very clear video of Casey’s hand travelling up the back of her thigh appeared on the big wall of the family room. Her eager siblings made various sounds of cheering or chastising the grope.

“Who the hell got close enough to get video that clear?” Lahla demanded.

“The real question is how did anyone get video that clear when everyone is so mashed together!” answered her brother. “There’s some interesting footage your gynecologist might find useful, but fortunately the algorithm I use to edit the endless supply of clips left it out.”

Lahla blushed furiously and shook her head at the room full of siblings.

“How the hell can you dance like that while your underwear is disappearing into Lahla land?” her sister joked, and the room erupted with laughter.  The laughter subsided to a group “Aww!”  as an adorably artistic collage of their goodnight kiss danced on the screen with fireworks in the background.  The kiss that had taken place only a few minutes before.  Thus was the life she lived; well loved, but no such thing as privacy.

She spent the weekend out of town with her sisters.  It was partly a working weekend, as they were scouting locations for the Tristan Cash Story, but it was fun and she forgot about being dumped.  Moonday arrived all too soon and she returned to the task of turning a hoard of zombified ninjas into something worthy of their tribute to old Bollywood.

On lunch, she temporarily escaped into the bowels of the main studio, seeking someplace she could simply be alone for a few minutes.  She turned a few corners then paused, wondering if she heard footsteps behind her.

“Lahla?” came an uncertain voice from the main hallway.

Her forehead crinkled, wondering whether to acknowledge she had heard the call, and lose her chance at some privacy, or to just hide.

“Over here,” she called.  She was often needed, and it just wasn’t in her to run away from someone who was lost, or couldn’t possibly do their job without asking her something vitally unimportant.

Casey appeared, and he seemed relieved to have found her.  He took two steps towards her, but then glanced at his link as it demanded his attention.  “Frak… of all the bad moments to…”  Casey muttered.

Lahla raised an eyebrow.  Casey ignored the multiple electronic pleas for his attention, and strode right up to her.  He looked down at her, his height being just the right amount greater than her own.  “I just wanted to make sure you understood that those passionate, groping kisses during our date… those were for all the cameras.  And for she-who-will-not-be-mentioned.”

Lahla nodded her understanding.  “I had a great time, Casey.  I appreciate you helping me give her the kick she deserved.”

Casey immediately corrected her.  “No, Lahla, I meant those kisses were for the cameras.  This one is just between us.” He leaned in, gently pulling her to him and closing his mouth over hers.  Surprised, she took a moment to respond.  But he wasn’t hurrying.  He was savoring her.  Lahla relaxed into him, enjoying his obvious expertise.

Both their links sounded off that their attention was urgently required elsewhere, and they broke the kiss.  Ignoring the demands for just a moment, they looked at each other, realizing that the kiss was something they had both enjoyed.  But the moment was over as they each glanced at their links and found that they were needed at opposite ends of the lot.

The flirting over the next week took place mostly in the furtive exchange of a meaningful glance or smile as they passed each other on the busy lot.  More intense flirting took place in the virtual realm, and by the time they snuck out for their second date Lahla was wanting more than the occasional tongue tussle.

They chose one of the medium sized towns up in the hills which happened to be hosting a concert of one of the smaller, local bands.  A medium sized town meant that it was big enough that they wouldn’t be noticed, but small enough that no one would expect to see a celebrity there, even ones as minor as they were. The amphitheater was a natural formation of the rocks, and seating was casual.

After the first intermission, Lahla took Casey by the hand and led hon up one of the many trails that led further up into the hills.  The second half of the concert drifted up to them from far below, the breeze surprisingly warm for the heights.  They found a secluded spot and Lahla set about finding out just how identical Cassidy and Casey were.  Although most of Casey’s jaw was baby smooth, the Elvis sideburns seemed to be real and not prosthetic.  Not many actors would go to such an extent to play a part.  Casey’s build was lean, just like a young Elvis in his prime.  Lahla ran her hands over Casey’s arms, admiring the almost masculine shape of them.  Cassidy’s had been much the same.

Casey wrapped his arms around Lahla and tasted her lips.  She loved it when he did that.  He didn’t crush her or slobber all over; Casey kissed with finesse.  Lahla’s breasts were pressed to his chest, but she couldn’t tell whether Casey had used a binding to force feminine breasts to pass for a masculine chest, or if, like Cassidy, Casey simply had very small breasts that required no binding.

Their tussle grew more intimate, and Lahla threw back her head as Casey moved aside the layers of her blouse to expose and suckle first one nipple, then the other.  Casey sat on a rock at about bar-stool height, more leaning than sitting.  Lahla pushed her date backwards, skimming over the heavily sequined shirt as she moved down towards her main interest.  Cassidy had hidden the fact that her hair was not as naturally dark as Elvis’, but that fact was only known to those who knew her body intimately, as Lahla did.  Lahla was fascinated at how similar the twins could be physically, while so different in temperament.

She tugged Casey’s pants open, unsurprised to find no underwear at all.  She blinked at the erect rod standing at attention before her eyes.  Cassidy had often stuffed her pants to appear more masculine, but although she’d been fond of strap on toys, she’d never used one that was so…

Realistic.

Lahla tugged tentatively, and heard a low, encouraging growl from Casey.

Instead of tugging, Lahla maneuvered the penis left and right, examining where the shaft met Casey’s groin.  Sure enough, there were testicles there as well.  She handled them tentatively, just to make sure, and Casey’s gasp as she pulled the sack cleared up all doubts.

Lahla fell backwards, laughing.

Casey looked confused, and for just a moment he joined her in laughing before he realized that his date was laughing at his manhood.  His pride shrank and he started to pull up his pants again.

“You’re a man!  A real one, I mean,”  Lahla said, wiping tears of mirth from her eyes.

Casey just looked stricken.  “Of course, I’m a man, what the frak did you expect?”

“Well, you’re twins, and you look so alike…”

“And she’s always been a girl, and I’ve always been a boy.  A man, I mean.  I mean I…”

Lahla doubled over with laughter again.

“Enough already, Lahla, my ego can only take so much…” Casey protested.

Lahla composed herself.  “I’m sorry, Casey, it’s just that… I always assumed that you were a woman.  It’s the ‘good twin/bad twin’ thing.  It never occurred to me that Cassidy’s twin was a man!”

Casey had pulled himself together and was heading off down the path and back towards the concert.  Lahla followed, having exthinguished her laughter when she saw the hurt in the actor’s face.  She knew enough actors to know when the hurt was real.  She remained silent for a few minutes, going over in her mind every clue she’d had both from Cassidy and from Casey himself.

No wonder he preferred the masculine pronoun ‘he’ over the gender neutral ‘hon.’

He was a man.

Casey headed to the snack bar, and seemed to have regained his composure.  “How about we just forget about what just happened up there,” he suggested in what she assumed was his best “mature” voice.  She agreed and changed the subject, sensitive to the fact that she’d hurt his feelings.  The concert gave them something else to distract them, but the ride home was awkward and uncomfortable as they both tried to think up something to talk about that was safe and banal.  They said good-bye at the studio gate.

Lahla passed the weekend at home, missing the virtual flirting she’d been enjoying with Casey over the past week.  He was definitely different than Cassidy.  She sent him a brief, sincere apology, but she didn’t want to harass him; if he wanted to avoid her, that was fine.  She’d just tell her nosey friends and family that it had been a brief fling just to show Cassidy that Lahla was just fine without her, and now it was over.

Lahla didn’t want it to be over.  There had been a lot of sexual tension building between them up to “the moment,” as she began to call it.  Her sister Soh dragged the whole sordid story out of her, but thankfully agreed to keep the details private.  It was bad enough that Cassidy had loudly announced embarrassing details about Lahla’s sexual proclivities when they broke up; Lahla didn’t want to endure the teasing if everyone found out she had thought Casey was a woman.  She certainly didn’t want Casey to have to endure the teasing either.  He was sweet, and considerate.

He was a real gentleman.

Sunday afternoon, Soh told her there was someone outside waiting for her.  Fortunately, only the two of them were at home, as most of their housemates were out and about for the day.  Lahla smiled when she saw Casey, dressed in a form-fitting and slightly transparent shirt that left no doubt that his chest was masculine and muscled.  The only trace of Elvis in his persona were the sideburns, which no longer seemed so extraordinary.

When he spoke, Lahla realized she was hearing him for the first time.  Casey, the man, not the actor or the impersonator.  “Lahla, while you and Cassidy were together, I didn’t think much of you.  I thought, ’How could anyone who likes Cassidy actually be a real, genuine person?’  When you two broke up and I came here to the studio, I thought it would be fun to give that Ching-wah tsao duh liou mahng a nice dose of the grief she gives everyone else.”

Lahla noticed that he had brought several back-up singers with him, and they were moving into place behind him.  “You are an amazing woman.  And I want to get to know you.”

And then Elvis was back.  The change was subtle, but clear.  The lip, the stance… he was The King.  The backup singers started an a cappella beat  and he started singing, “I don’t want my heart to be broken, ‘cause it’s the only one I’ve got…”

Lahla swayed with the serenade.

It was a cheesy start to a relationship, but cheese was what Three Ring Circuit did best.

Shortlink for this post: http://wp.me/p1rMYd-1u

The following is a short scene inspired by The Red Dress Club‘s RemembeRed prompt from April 15, 2011.  But I don’t want to say what the prompt was till after you read these 300+ words.

This piece is set on my fictional world of Kingdom Come.  Although it is not related to any of the books I’ve finished, I do know what happens later, and this is a part of that.  Hopefully, the post is readable and understandable even if you are visiting my blog for the first time and have absolutely no idea who the characters are.  Even if you have been here before, Royal has only been mentioned in passing…

The World is Not Blue   by AmyBeth Inverness

Royal sat in the luxury suite of the station, holding her mother’s hand silently.

The queen had not expected to be a dowager so soon.

The center of the suite’s living area was a circle of transparent aluminum, and the planet below came slowly into view, then out again as the station rotated to provide what felt like gravity.

“Why is it so blue?” the dowager queen asked.  “That is not its true color.”

Royal looked past her feet, down to the swirling white clouds of atmosphere over oceans of blue and lands of green.  She looked up into her mother’s eyes, wanting to know.

“My memories of our world are not blue.  They are not cold.”

Royal remained silent.

“My memories of our world are not green.  They are not that fresh.  They are raw.”

The planet fell out of view, and they looked out at the stars.

“My memories of our world are not black… though they are sometimes dark.”

This last statement came out of the dowager queen slowly, as if those dark memories were playing out before her farseeing eyes.

The planet came into view again.  White clouds claimed a significant portion of the sphere.

“Our world is not white… though it is pure and good.”

Royal waited one whole rotation before her mother spoke again.

“It is not blue… though it is deep.”

Another rotation.

“It is not green… though it is very much alive.”

Royal gazed at her mother’s face, the tears long since dry, though the exhaustion of ending a long and glorious reign was clear in her eyes.

Royal’s mother drew her tenderly into an embrace, stroking the princess’ hair as if she were still a little girl.

“Our world is passionate.  It is warm.  Even in the coldest of winters, there is fire in our people’s hearts.  It is alive.  It is pulsating.  It is raw and real and visceral…”

Royal  looked in her mothers’ eyes, receiving her blessing, and finally spoke.

“It is love.”

Now that you’ve read the story, I can tell you what the prompt was:

“Give me a memory of the color red. Do not write the word ‘red’ but use words that engender the color red when you hear them. For example: a ruby, a tomato, fire, blood.

Writing has the elegance of mathematics. Try to write economically. A red cherry is redundant. Cherry is enough unless it’s one of the yellow ones from Washington state. Then it’s a yellow cherry. But, otherwise, cherry immediately wakes up the color red in the mind.”

Constructive Criticism is eagerly anticipated and much appreciated!

This story was written for the Red Dress Club‘s prompt “Write about someone you can’t stand.”  One of the requirements was to do it from the first person, another requirement was to come in under 600 words.  It is set on Kingdom Come, but is independent from all the other stories.  Actually, these characters are the ones I started writing about long ago in the beginning.  It’s been nice to revisit them.

Bonus points if you can figure out whose arms those are!  To fit the story, they should be in formal wear, but the pose really portrayed the right attitude for the story.

Charity’s Ball

by AmyBeth Inverness

Charity smiled graciously and continued shaking hands with  Senators.  I watched my  wife, knowing her tells.  She could fool the politicians, all three of our husbands, and two of our three wives.

She could not fool me.

All was not right in the world.

Royal was also watching Charity out of the corner of her eye.  As a White Duchess, Royal had extensive psychological training.  She was the one wife Charity couldn’t fool.  I made my way over to her.  She was part of a group that was carrying on a conversation with little need of her input.  It was just like Royal, to be the observer.  “The bastard is here.  That’s what’s wrong.” she said sweetly as I approached, gleaning my question before I even reached her.  I joined the group, half listening to the political discussion and scanning the crowd.  Royal handed me her empty glass.  “Grey, darling, would you please bring me another?”

“Of course…” I answered, taking the glass and heading for the bar.  I spotted the bastard sitting there, talking to a large pair of breasts and pretending to listen to the woman attached to them.  I signaled the bartender for two more glasses of champagne, and waited.

The breasts grew tired of being ogled, and left.  The bastard turned around, and did a double take when he saw me.  “Your Highness!” he exclaimed.  I knew the man would recognize me.  It is one of the perks of being a Duke.  But I was also married to the man’s ex-lover.

I listened to him gush for a minute before he changed the conversation to his own political agenda.  It’s what  was done at these parties; elected officials, nobility, all kinds of politicians rubbing elbows with whomever could wrangle an invitation.

“What did you say your name was?”  I asked smoothly.

“Roger Daniels.”

“Daniels… I knew a family by the name of Daniels back in Fallcastle.  Any relation?”  The bastard blanched for a moment.  He obviously didn’t realize that, like Charity, I am from Fallcastle, almost half a world away.

“I’m from Fallcastle…” the bastard remarked cautiously, knowing that it was odd for him to be playing politics so far from home.

“Really?”  I answered, looking the bastard up and down, reducing him to an object instead of a person.  “You’re quite far from home.”  He had no reply.

I looked up to see Charity, her back to us, watching as couples gathered on the dance floor.  I smiled the smile of a fortunate man and said “If you will excuse me please, I have a very beautiful wife who seems to be lacking a dance partner.”

I kissed the tips of my beautiful wife’s fingers, grateful that she was mine, though incensed at the horrible way she had been treated before our arranged marriage.  We spun onto the dance floor, and she seemed relieved to be in my strong embrace, and even laughed once as I spun us more quickly than necessary through a turn.  I hoped that she would forget the bastard was even there, although I wondered why he was so far from home; coincidentally in a far off Duchy where his old girlfriend happened to be a Duchess.

Before the music stopped, I crushed her to me, claiming her lips in a searing, and very public kiss.  I glanced back at the bar to see if anything needed to be done about the lingering bastard, but I saw that he was in the subtle clutches of Royal, our wife, the White Duchess.

I smiled.

The bastard was doomed.

P.S.  The Red Dress club’s prompt was to write the story AS IF you ARE the annoying person!!  I completely missed that part.  Oops!

Undone Fantasy

breakfastinbed CassattMaisy could not remember ever being more angry in her life.  She tried not to let the kids see just how riled she was as she made sure they were buckled safely into the car, but from the unusual quiet coming from the back seat, she knew the older ones knew.  Fortunately, the little ones in the middle seat seemed to be oblivious to her mood, and they cheerfully started to beg for a trip to the ice cream shop on the way home.

Maisy gave in immediately, knowing that ice cream would also distract the older kids from trying to figure out why Mommy was mad at Daddy.  Usually when they went to have lunch with their Dads at the office, they would stay a little while and play in the yard outside, or watch the men at work.  Today, “Ma-ma-maisy” hurried them out as soon as they were done eating, and didn’t kiss either Daddy goodbye.

At home, she shooed them all into the play yard and went to see if her wife Brooklyn was awake.  Breastfeeding their newest little girl, Brooklyn was on maternity leave from her job at the magazine.  One look was all it took.  “Oh no… what did Nash do now?”

“He hired Schuyler Agassi to do one of their commercials.”

“You’re kidding!  Schuyler Agassi?  Tsai boo shr!”  She exclaimed, then she paused a moment, and exclaimed again “Oh…  my… god…. he didn’t…. and I’ll bet Quinn was completely clueless, wasn’t he?”

Maisy nodded.  She had fallen in love with Schuyler Agassi at the tender age of ten when he starred in a popular show as the sensitive, smart, sweet adolescent boy who never seemed to get the girl.  Along with thousands of other girls her age, Maisy had dreamed that if only he’d have a chance to meet her, they would fall instantly in love and live happily ever after.  She held onto the fantasy through her own adolescence, even though the popular show  eventually ended and Schuyler Agassi moved on to other acting projects, some less popular, some more, enjoying moderate success as an actor and celebrity.  For Maisy, she had quickly abandoned the idea that they should meet in real life.  That was a little girl’s fantasy.  But she did keep his image in her mind and in her heart, and when she needed a little fantasy, he was the one her mind turned to.  She had several different versions of him neatly put away in the drawers of her mind.  One who was strong and muscular for when she needed the hero type, another who was quiet and sensitive when she felt like she just wanted someone to understand her, even if he wasn’t real.  Dreaming of him had got her through many lonely nights and countless breakups and heartaches.  Even years later, as a married woman, she kept him tucked away as a convenient fantasy lover, someone who could fulfill every wish and would never do any of the annoying things her real lovers did.

“Quinn was clueless,”  Maisy confirmed.  “But in his defense, he was handling some minor crisis at the time.”  Quinn also stubbornly believed that since Maisy liked chocolate, she must enjoy chocolate ice cream with chocolate chunks and chocolate sauce, hot fudge, chocolate whipped cream and a chocolate covered cherry on the top.  Really, that was just completely overwhelming, and not really enjoyable at all.  Maisy would much rather have some strawberry ice cream with just the right amount of hot fudge.  Her wives, Brooklyn and Evonne, understood this.  Her husbands, Nash and Quinn, continued to think that if she liked chocolate a little, then she would really like to have it in mass quantities and concentrations.  “Quinn probably didn’t even remember my obsession with Schuyler Agassi when Nash suggested hiring him.  But Nash definitely knew.  He had that little smile on his face when he introduced us, and he was watching to see my reaction.”

Maisy stooped to pick up the next littlest, who was calling “Ma ma ma Maisy!” from hes crib.  She snuggled her to her own breast and settled in a rocking chair across from Brooklyn.

“You don’t think Nash told Schuyler Agassi that his wife fantasizes about him, do you?”

Maisy was glad for the calming hormones starting to course through her from the stimulation of her suckling baby, because the thought of what her husband had done and what his motive might be just made her increasingly angry.  “He better not have.  And I don’t think he did, because Mr. Agassi was perfectly nice and didn’t seem at all “weird” when we were introduced.  But he is a very good actor, and he might have just been polite…”

They were interrupted by their young next door neighbor coming over as she did every afternoon to help out with the kids.  She checked in with both Moms about which kids had bandages because they actually had a scrape or cut, and which had bandages only because they demanded to have one just like their sibling.  The girl sat with the moms for a few minutes, watching the kids playing in the yard, then went out to play with them and get them all worn out before naptime.

Maisy and Brooklyn switched babies and continued nursing.  “I don’t know what’s got into Nash lately.”  Brooklyn wondered.  “Things are going well at the office.  Maybe he didn’t take enough paternity leave when our little girl was born…  I know he’d like to spend more time with her and the other kids.”  By the luck of the draw, both of Brooklyn’s children were Nash’s, and both of Maisy’s were Quinn’s.  Evonne had one child with each husband.  Six children was on the small side for a group marriage on Kingdom Come, but not unusual.  The three wives had hinted that they were happy with the current brood, and if they ever did decide to have another baby, it wouldn’t be for quite a while.

Their wife Evonne came home at the usual time, and announced “I brought something special home for dinner tonight!  Nash and Quinn hired Schuyler Agassi for a commercial, and they’re bringing him home for a meal and to meet the family!”  Seeing Maisy go completely white at the pronouncement, she added “Yes.  Nash is an ass.  He feels threatened by your fantasy, and he wants to punish you by seeing you squirm.”  She started to arrange a variety of dishes into the warming and cooling drawers, according to what each one needed.  “Of course, it doesn’t matter that not only are we happily married with six wonderful children, but Mr. Agassi himself just married his longtime girlfriends and boyfriend.  They have three wives and two husbands, just like we do, so we have something in common!”  Evonne took the plates out of Maisy’s hands and together they set the large table for six adults and six children.  Even the babies sat at the table during meals, just to be social and participate in the family’s nightly ritual of sharing supper.  “I know that tonight is going to be very difficult for you, and maybe more than a little awkward, but we can get through it with grace and maturity, then later on we can all have a talk with Nash and discuss his motives for choosing that particular celebrity.”

Husbands and guest arrived while all the children were washing up, being lectured by all three moms that they had company for dinner and should all show off their very best table manners.  Mr. Agassi was very patient and shook hands with all but the two babies.  Those he admired, and cooed over, sharing that they’d just got the news that one of his wives was pregnant with the family’s first baby.  He seemed comfortable enough to be seated between the two oldest children, who kept trying to offer him more food than he could possibly eat.  Although the children were taught to always call non-family men “Mister”, the celebrity encouraged Nash, Quinn, and their wives to call him Schuyler.  The kids settled for “Mister Schuyler.”

Fortunately, having been warned that she would be eating dinner with the object of her adolescent affections, Maisy had rehearsed with Evonne just what she would say to the man.  Soon after they were all seated, Maisy herself brought up the fact that she had a huge crush on the actor when she was ten, and all three wives made flattering comments about the various acting projects they’d seen him in over the years since.  Nash spent much of dinner with the baby girl in his arms, a gesture that all three wives recognized as his favorite defense mechanism.  It was hard to get mad or yell at their husband when he was holding a baby, even if he really deserved it.  But to his credit, he followed his wives’ lead and did not go on to hint about how Maisy still fantasized about the actor as a grown, married woman.  Quinn, blissfully unaware of the subtext around him, inadvertently helped by going on and on about business, asking their guest about how he preferred to work and what he would need to complete the various recordings for various media and markets.

Maisy was sure she was blushing through dinner, but Evonne had conveniently seated her so that Maisy was on the same side of the table as their guest, and had two children and one other adult between them.  She could participate in the conversation, but didn’t have to make undue eye contact.  Nash was at the end of the table with the baby’s high chair, nearest their guest, so Maisy wasn’t close enough to even be tempted to kick him under the table.  She did have a few uncomfortable moments when the actor and object of her girlhood affections would say something that reminded her of some romantic scene either in a movie or in her own fantasies, and she would blush and suppress the memory.

After an appropriate amount of after dinner socialization, their guest began to hint that he really should get back to his hotel for some sleep before the busy day ahead.  When Nash started to move to be the one to drive the actor back, Brooklyn interrupted.  “Quinn, could you please drive Schuyler to his hotel?  We noticed a dimple in the baby’s cheek today when she smiles a certain way, and we wanted to see if it’s in just the same place as Nash’s dimple.”

It was the strangest excuse they’d ever heard.  Maisy and Evonne choked back laughter, and Mr. Agassi seemed to realize there was something a bit strange about the request, but politely didn’t say a word.  Quinn, oblivious as ever, simply smooched the nearest wife and said he’d be back in a flash, promising to pick up milk on the way home.

“Now where’s that dimple?” Nash quipped, trying to hide behind his baby girl as the other men left and all three wives turned to confront him.  “Oh, and I think you need a new diaper, too.  I’ll just take care of that….”

“I’ll change her diaper, sweetheart.”  Brooklyn took the baby, leaving her husband still facing two angry wives.  Any man who ever fantasized about having a marriage with more women than men was simply thinking about the gender imbalance that probably meant he would never have to worry about having at least one woman in his bed each night.  He certainly wasn’t thinking about a scene like this, being confronted by not just one, but two wives, with a third wife waiting in the wings taking their side.

And his only husband, his wing man, was out of sight for at least an hour.  On top of that, they’d taken away the baby he’d been using as a defensive shield.  “Daddinash!” came the rescuing cry of their baby girl, almost one year old and toddling around happily.

“Do you want to play blocks?  I can play blocks with you!”  he said, scooping up the toddler.  But he wasn’t safe, as both wives followed him to the family room where the other children were already playing.

“Nash, out of all the celebrities on this planet, why did you go out of your way to hire Schuyler Agassi?  He doesn’t live anywhere close, and he’s successful enough to be a lot more expensive than you need for your average car commercial,”  Evonne asked.  Maisy was glad to have her wife there standing up for her, because all she really wanted to do was slap him across the face, shout “How could you do this to me?” and run off crying to the bedroom.

“Well, this isn’t just any car commercial.  It’s a very expensive car, and we actually have quite a generous budget for it.”  He helped reposition a block the toddler had just placed on top of the tower they were creating.  “Besides, I thought Maisy would enjoy getting to meet him, she likes him so much.”  He added, carefully not meeting their eyes.

“You don’t remember me saying, on several occasions, that although I’d obsessed about him since I was just ten years old, I never actually wanted to meet the man?  That although I was absolutely crazy about him and went out of my way to see every flick and show he’s in, that seeing him in person would just pop the bubble of fantasy I have?  Don’t you know what that fantasy means to me?”

“Oh look!  Your tower’s about to fall over!  Evonne interrupted, motioning for the two of them to take the argument away from the kids.  The older ones looked up, realizing there was some kind of conflict in their usually safe and secure world, but Evonne soothed and reassured them that Daddinash and Mamamaisy just needed to have an adult discussion.

Nash followed Maisy down the hall.  “It means you think of him more than you think of me, that’s what it means.”  He muttered.  Maisy could hear the hurt in his voice, and for the first time wondered if there was more to the situation than she’d realized.

Out of both sight and earshot of the children, she turned to confront him.  “Nash, I’m married to you!  I’m with you all the time, and I think about you every day.  Schuyler Agassi is a fantasy for me.  Escapism.  Early in the morning when everyone’s getting ready for their day and I just want one last little dream, I reach into my mind and he is there.  In the middle of the day, when I’m driving a carful of kids around, and for a moment or two my thoughts take a romantic turn, he’s convenient.  He has been since I was a pimply adolescent who thought she would never be loved, and never get married!”  She took a deep breath, and let it out as a heavy sigh.  “Do you really feel threatened by the fantasy lover I’ve had since I was just a girl?”

“But you’re married now.  Why do you still need him?  Why can’t you dream about me?  Or Quinn?  Or Brooklyn or Evonne?  We’re right here!  How much more convenient can we possibly be?  Isn’t that enough for you?  Don’t you get enough attention?”

That last comment stung.  She had often been accused of needing too much attention, and she’d lost more than one boyfriend or girlfriend because of it.  But as an adult, she’d learned she had to take care of herself, and not depend solely on the constant attention of others to make her happy.  “Actually, no.  It’s not convenient.  I don’t carry you around in my pocket.  Even if you didn’t have a demanding job, and we didn’t have to worry about the house or the kids or any of the myriad of other worries we deal with every day, it’s not realistic to think we might spend all our days stuck side by side, ready to make love on a whim.”

“I’ll make love to you on a whim.  I’ll make love to you in the mornings…  if you’d just say something, I’d gladly be late on any given day if you want a quick tumble.  Or at the office even!  Ai ya, Maisy, there’s plenty of people who would be more than happy to watch the kids for a while so we can have some privacy….”

“You want me to come by the office and drop the kids off with the receptionist and say “Can you watch these guys for a minute while Nash and I have a quickie on his desk?”  Just how do we explain that one to the kids?”

“You know what I mean… you don’t have to be so blunt.  It wouldn’t be that difficult for them to spend an hour having lunch with Daddikins while we have some “Quality Adult Time” together….”

Maisy didn’t know whether she was still angry, or flattered, or touched… Probably a combination of them all, and more.  Tears welled up in her eyes, and she grabbed a tissue to blow her nose.  She didn’t mean to cry.  She didn’t want the discussion to deteriorate just because he hated to see her cry.  She sat down and took a moment to compose herself.  “You popped the bubble on purpose, didn’t you?  You knew that if I actually met him in person, then the bubble would pop and I wouldn’t dream about him anymore.”

“If I admit that, will you be more mad at me, or less mad?”

Maisy was stunned.  An admission of guilt was the last thing she expected.  “You popped the bubble on purpose…”

“That looks like more mad, not less mad…”

“Yes!  OK, yes!  More mad!  Do you know what that harmless little fantasy was to me?  You crack your knuckles all the time.  It’s not exactly a good habit, but you get some comfort from it.  Evonne has her “happy place” where she imagines her whole body turns into a flock of butterflies, and carries off all the negative emotions she’s feeling.  Should we start exterminating every winged insect in the garden because we’re jealous that our wife thinks of them when she needs something, instead of us?  Or maybe we should get you some sort of therapeutic gloves so you can’t crack your knuckles!”

“Cracking knuckles or thinking about butterflies isn’t a replacement for a spouse!  It isn’t a replacement for sex.”

“A replacement for….  A replacement for sex?”

“Yes, a replacement for sex.  You hardly ever reach for me anymore Maisy, and when I reach for you, it seems more like you’re just doing me a favor, not really making love to me.”

Maisy was at a loss for words.  She was satisfied with their sex life, and she thought he was too.   With the long days and long nights on Kingdom Come, making love before going to sleep was almost a habit.  It was rare that a day that went by without at least watching and petting.  Maybe it was too rote, or too much of a habit… “Well, it may seem like a tired old song, but… you don’t bring me flowers anymore.  You don’t rub my feet anymore, and I’ve stopped even asking because after we’d been married a few years, you admitted you only did it because you wanted me to like you and you hoped it would lead to sex.”

“That’s why you make love with Evonne more than you make love with me?  Because she rubs your feet?”

“It’s not just that…  when Evonne rubs my feet, she’s enjoying touching me and making me feel good.  With you, foot rubs are something you find distasteful, and only do as a favor if you’re going to get something in return.  Well, I don’t think of sex as a “favor” I’m doing… sex with my husbands and my wives is making love!  It is a celebration of what we mean to each other, and truly desiring the others’ pleasure even more than desiring my own.  So when Evonne rubs my feet, it’s not a favor she’s doing for me hoping that it will lead to sex.  It is something she does because she knows it makes me feel good and she wants me to feel good.  And yes, that naturally leads to sex a lot of the time.”

“You don’t want to have sex with me?  Because you think I won’t do the things that make you feel good?”  He avoided her eyes at first, but then caught her gaze directly, showing her the hurt he was feeling inside.

“I do want sex with you, Nash.  We made love last night, and the night before that!  What more do you want?”

He grabbed his head with both hands, frustrated and hurt. “I want you to want me, Maisy!  Lately, when we make love, it’s like you’re trying to get me to come before you even come close to climaxing.  I feel like you’re just doing what you have to so you can move on to being with someone else.”

Maisy had to admit that it was true.  She didn’t even try to reach orgasm with him anymore, because he just wasn’t patient enough and when she did get close, he’d either say something like “Are you there yet?” or he’d reach his own release, and then it was over either way.  She would much rather help him reach his release as quickly as possible, so she could turn to another spouse who could and would do what it took to satisfy her.

“I’m sorry.  Yes, I do hurry through sex with you, but it’s not that I don’t love you…  I do care about you, and I want you to get your own fulfillment before I worry about my own pleasure.  I thought you would appreciate me making sure you get what you need first.”

“It would help me if you’d make some more noise when we make love.  I can’t even tell when you climax half the time.  When’s the last time I gave you an orgasm?”

She had to think, but then gave up calculating how much time had passed.  “It’s been a long time, I suppose.  But it’s OK, I have other ways to get there.  We have three more spouses, and then if I really need to do it myself, I can certainly do that.”

“And think of him, I suppose.”

“And what’s wrong with that?  Until today, he was someone so far out of reach that I knew I could safely turn him into anything I needed, without ever worrying about what the real person felt or wanted.  But now, when I need that little fantasy, instead of being able to pull out some version of him that I’ve created in my mind, the first thing I’ll think of is that nice man my husbands brought home to dinner.  A man who has a husband and three wives waiting for him back home.  I don’t want a reality with him, I want my fantasy!”

“Why can’t you think of me when you fantasize?  Is it the kilos I’ve put on over the years?  Women aren’t the only ones who gain weight when a baby’s born.  I’ve eaten through six pregnancies and six births, just like we all have.”

Maisy got up and slid her arms around him, laying her head against his chest.  “I love you Nash.  And I want you, and I find you just as handsome and desirable as I ever did.  It’s not the lack of desire that pulls me away from you, it’s the fact that you just don’t enjoy doing the things that make me feel good.  It just makes more sense for me to turn to another spouse who does want to do those things for me.  I’ll still make sure you get what you need too.”

“What if what I need is to be the man who gives you an orgasm?  Or multiple orgasms…” he started rubbing her back.  That was one thing she did like, and he liked the way it made her breasts press against him.  “I promise to be patient, and to do whatever it takes to get you there.”

She put her chin on his chest and looked straight up at him without pulling away from the back rub.  “Is it OK if I still feel a little bit skeptical?” she asked, only half teasing.

“Tell me what you want.  I’ll do anything.”

She laughed, knowing that he didn’t quite mean that.  “Well, this back rub feels pretty good…”

“And this?” he said, reaching down to squeeze her buttocks, then running his hands back up over her hips to her waist, resuming the massage.

“Mmmm…  I like that…”  Her anger had dissipated, for the most part.  Her husband could make her furious sometimes, but that was because he was her husband.  Her spouses knew her better than anyone, and they could cut her more deeply than any friend or peer.  But they could make up just as well…

“And what about this…” he kept one arm around her waist, holding her close while the other hand reached up to fondle one heavy breast.

“That’s good…” she said, closing her eyes.  Then he squeezed her nipple.  “Ow!  No… that’s too hard…”

They were interrupted by the pitter patter of little feet running their way.  “Nigh night Mamamaisy!  Nigh night Daddinash!” The older four rushed in for hugs and smooches before Evonne hurried them past, off to baths and bed.

“I’ll take care of these guys, and Brooklyn has the babies, so you two can take your time resolving this little argument, OK?”

“Thank you Evonne!” Maisy gave her wife a quick hug and kiss, then took her husband by the hand and led him to the grown ups’ bathing room.

“Sex in the shower?” he asked hopefully as his wife stripped down and turned on the warm water.

“Foreplay in the shower.  I feel sticky after chasing the kids all day, and you stink.”

He smelled one armpit, and had to agree with her.  She opened the jar of little soaps and picked one that she liked, then started slowly rubbing it over his wet chest, working up a thick lather.  She knelt to lather up his legs, but only gave minimal attention to his erect member, promising him more attention there later.  He curtailed his disappointment, but returned the favor by soaping her from head to toe.  When he reached her breasts, he asked “If I promise to be gentle, can I play with these for a little bit?”

She smiled and turned her back to him, saying yes by nestling against him and reaching her arms up around his neck to give him better access to her chest.  As promised, he was very gentle, lifting and caressing the heavy orbs, slippery with water and lather.  She sighed, relaxing a little under his gentle ministrations, till he squeezed one nipple just a bit too hard.  She squeaked and pulled out of his embrace.  “Careful with the nipples, please.”

“Sorry… can I taste them?  Do you like it when I do that?”

It was a loaded question, and she hesitated to answer.  She liked it when Quinn or her wives did it, but whatever Nash did with his mouth on her nipples just wasn’t pleasurable.  In fact, it was slightly uncomfortable, but she knew he liked it so she didn’t complain.  “Just be gentle…” she replied, but he noticed her hesitation.

“Maisy, do you like it when I suck on your nipples?  Does it bring you pleasure when I lick them?”

“Well, Brooklyn has a certain thing she does that I like…” she half lied, skirting around the fact that of her four spouses, his mouth was the only one that did not bring pleasure to her nipples.  “No teeth… and once she’s latched on she stays on.  She doesn’t “shlurp” and let them go.”

“OK, I’ll try that…” he leaned over and gently took one nipple into his mouth.  He hardly sucked at all, just concentrated on keeping his motions nice and gentle.  “Was that better?”

“That was nice… but I want to move to the bed now.  It’s not comfortable trying to stay upright while you do that.”

He nodded and they toweled off over the air drier, and they walked together back to the master suite.  They saw Brooklyn in the nursery with their littlest and stopped to check on her.  The baby was happily nursing, and Brooklyn was reading.  She reassured them that Quinn had promised to stay up with the baby as long as necessary so Brooklyn could get some much needed sleep.  She also explained that she had filled their husband in on what was going on, as he had seemed to be completely oblivious to the conflict.

Evonne had finished bathing and tucking in the little ones, including the toddler.  She hugged them both, reassuring herself that they were both OK, then told them she planned to head for bed herself after a nice long bath.

They had both beds in the master suite to themselves, and together they turned down the sheets and blankets on one.  They saw Brooklyn pass in front of the door to the anteroom where each of them went when they really wanted to sleep undisturbed by either spouses or children.  It was far enough away from the nursery that she wouldn’t be automatically woken by a crying baby, as other spouses had promised to stay up with her that night.  There was even a “slumber pump” she could attach to her breasts if she wanted.  It worked on a timer and would automatically begin to pump milk at preset intervals.  It was a choice… either sleep till your breasts got so full of milk that you woke up and had to pump or nurse, or hook up the slumber pump and have to sleep in a not so comfortable position, but at least be able to sleep or drowse through an entire night without having to fully wake up.

“I’ll be right back….” said Maisy, and slipped off to kiss Brooklyn goodnight and help her with the pump.  When she returned to the Master bedroom, Nash was stretched out in bed, half reclined on the pillows waiting for her.  He looked a little worried, so she smiled warmly and climbed in with him.  She nestled into his arms and lifted her mouth to his for some warm, slow kisses.

“Nipples?” he asked hopefully.

She smiled and lay back, running her fingers through his hair as he gently suckled first one, then the other.  Tense at first, she finally began to relax when it seemed that he would be true to his word and be gentle, with no teeth and no “shlurping”.  He lifted himself over her and buried his face between her breasts.  She arched and threw her head back, which he took as an invitation to nuzzle her neck.  She opened her legs to embrace him and reached down to guide him into her.  He penetrated her with a few slow thrusts, then settled himself over her so they were both comfortable.  He kissed her once as he began to move in her with a familiar rhythm. But then he drew himself up on his elbows so he could see her face.  She gazed back at him, touched by the eagerness and concern she saw in his eyes.  Usually when they made love they both closed their eyes, moving through the familiar routine with well rehearsed precision.  But this time he concentrated on what she liked, asking her “Like this?” and “Do you want me to slow down?” as he adjusted his movements in a way he hoped would make their lovemaking more pleasurable for her.  She ran her hands over his chest and arms, enjoying the masculine feel of him, and told him so.  Together they adjusted and readjusted their position over and again, experimenting a little and finding what made her feel good.  Once or twice she began to climb towards her climax, but each time she got close he would unknowingly break the rhythm and she’d come crashing back down to her starting point again.  She resisted telling him… he wanted so much to give her an orgasm, and she was fairly certain she could get there if they both showed some patience. Eventually they noticed that Quinn and Evonne were in the other bed, with the baby monitor glowing green on the side table.

He tried to roll over with her so she was on top, but as usual it didn’t quite work and she had to find a comfortable way to straddle him before impaling herself on him again.  Maisy didn’t really like being on top, but it did make her more “in charge” so she could set the pace and take control of her own pleasure.  She found a position that let him penetrate her fully, without her legs being bent into an uncomfortable way that might make them fall asleep.  She started moving slowly, and at first he just watched her.  His eyes went from her breasts back up to her eyes, then down again.  He was trying to read her, but was constantly distracted by the bobbing, jiggly orbs. She increased her pace, having found just the right position, and he started thrusting up into her.  She smiled encouragement, as this make it easier for her, but frowned when he suddenly stopped, bringing her crashing down to her starting point again.  “Sorry, sorry, I had a cramp…” he explained, seeing her disappointment and frustration.

She leaned over to kiss him, reassuring him and telling him how much she loved him, then smiled and found her position again.  She set the pace and he followed, and soon she was climbing again to that perfect place, that apex of sensation that would give her the release she craved.  It had slipped out of her grasp so many times already this night, and she was almost desperate to finally capture it.  She felt her body take the final steps towards release, when Nash’s voice interrupted her.  “Are you thinking of him?”

Instantly she crashed down again, past her starting point, past the point of pleasure where there was nothing but an aching frustration.  She nearly fell off the bed in her scramble to run away.  “Maisy, I’m sorry….” He called after her, trying to detangle his feet from the sheets.

“Maisy?” Evonne called after her, squirming out of Quinn’s embrace at a most inconvenient moment.

“What the hell did you do now?” accused Quinn from the other bed.

Nash muttered something unintelligible as he finally freed his foot and chased the wives down the hall.  Maisy had locked herself in the water closet, and he barely caught sight as the door was unlocked just long enough to let Evonne inside.  “Maisy, I’m sorry… I’m so sorry!  Please let me in.”

“Just give us a minute, please Nash.” Came Evonne’s voice.  Obediantly, he stepped back and waited patiently.  Behind him, he saw Quinn head into the nursery.

After a few minutes, Evonne and Maisy came out of the bathroom.  “I have to pump now.”  Maisy said, heading for the sitting room off the Master suite.  “Why don’t you just go back to bed?”

Hurt and ashamed, he followed her back and stood there helplessly as she fumbled with the breast pump.  Quinn walked in carrying their fussy baby girl, who was making insistent little hungry noises.  “Would this work better than a pump?  She’s hungry.”

Maisy eagerly reached for the baby and Evonne put the pump away.  She made shushing noises as the baby latched on, then sighed as the happy hormones started to work their magic on her.  She held a pad to the other nipple, which was leaking in sympathy for the other breast.

Nash sat quietly nearby, watching his wife nurse their baby, too scared to speak lest he insert his rather large foot into his rather large mouth again.  He wanted to say something about him not being the only one to hide behind a baby, but fortunately he restrained himself.  Maisy leaned back and closed her eyes, concentrating on the flow of milk to the baby.  She didn’t want to think about whether or not she should be mad or should be hurt.  Maybe she should have reassured him that he was the only lover on her mind at that moment.  It was true… while she was with him, she didn’t need any fantasy to help.

Nash carefully moved over closer to her.  She opened her eyes for just a moment, but didn’t kick him away.  He picked up one of her feet, and gently began to rub it, hoping she would understand it was his way of apologizing.  She did seem tense at first, but as he continued to massage her toes and ankles she gradually began to relax.  Evonne handed him a bottle of lotion to use on their wife’s feet, then helped as Maisy switched the baby to the other breast.  The tiny girl seemed more interested in playing with Mommy’s nipple than continuing eating.  “She’s just as bad as you are…” Maisy quipped, looking at Nash, and the tension was finally broken.

None of them tried to resume their lovemaking that night.  Maisy laid her head on Nash’s shoulder, as she did many nights.  Evonne, feeling protective, snuggled up to spoon with Maisy.  Quinn spent some time getting the baby back to sleep, then collapsed back on the other bed with the baby monitor.

The next day Maisy showed up in Nash’s office unannounced.  Not only unannounced, but no knock, she just slipped in and locked the door behind her.  “No kids?” Nash asked, surprised at the interruption and not exactly sure that she wasn’t still mad at him.

“They’re home with Brooklyn.  A couple aunts dropped by, so they have some cousins to play with for a while.”

He watched, fascinated yet torn as his wife slowly unbuttoned her blouse, revealing a rather sexy bra he was quite certain he had never seen before.  Not only did it push her breasts up and together, but it had peek-a-boo openings for her nipples that were obviously meant to show off, not breast feed.  “I…. I was supposed to…” he started to explain, but she interrupted.

“Quinn has taken your special guest to lunch.  And to answer last night’s question…” she discarded the blouse and proceeded to remove her skirt.  “Although I still intend to keep him conveniently on a shelf in the back of my mind, when I’m with you, you are the one I’m thinking of.”  She went to his arms and stretched up to kiss him.  He hesitated only a moment, catching up to what was happening, then claimed her mouth voraciously and lifted her off the floor.  She tried to wrap her legs around him, but she wasn’t high enough and he had to set her down again.  They fumbled their way to the couch, tongues tangling and hands groping.

They spent a long lunch trying to find a comfortable way to make love on the couch.  She could straddle him while he sat in the middle, and that felt pretty good, but Maisy wasn’t getting anywhere close to climaxing even though he took great pains to keep their rhythm perfectly steady for her.  They finally ended up with her on her back with one leg up over the back and the other stretched up in the air.  The couch wasn’t quite big enough, and Nash’s knee kept slipping off but together they managed to have a thoroughly pleasurable time, even though Maisy never did quite reach her orgasm.

That night, with the help of Evonne and Quinn, Maisy did reach her climax with Nash inside her.  Although she never really felt the desire to scream or moan, even at climax, she did utter a breathy “yes!” as she came, letting her lover know she had indeed reached that pinnacle.  And after a lot of practice, they found what it took for the two of them to find fulfillment with each other, and Nash finally knew that when Maisy reached for him it was not that she was doing her wifely duty, but it was because she knew her husband could give her everything she desired.

I wrote this in 2010, and it’s one of the first stories I put on the blog. Looking back now, in 2013, I still like the story but I definitely see some basic things that should be fixed. I was attempting an omniscient point of view, but it feels more like head-hopping. Still, it’s nice to see an early story and compare it to what my writing is now.