Chardsville Revisited


by Jenny Leeds

© 1997

Chapter 1

Upon hanging the new portrait the ladies stepped back and gazed raptly at their images.

The portrait--well, you couldn't really call it that, "portrait," for it had none of the usual formality of such pictures--call it a painting instead--showed them naked in the same stately, high-ceilinged drawing room they were standing in now. In the painting Mrs. Argentina sat at one end of the couch, generous lips parted in an affectionate grin. Mrs. Chard reclined, one slender leg trailing down to the floor, head on the other woman's lap, looking up at her.

It was little more than a picture of two lovely women spending a quiet siesta together, a peaceful moment away from the world, but Mrs. Argentina's hand rested casually on one of Mrs. Chard's rose-nippled breasts to reveal a more-than-casual intimacy.

The artist had captured the pearly light that came through tall French doors opening onto a terrace. It blessed the figures, bridged the difference in their complexions--Mrs. Chard was so fair that her skin looked transparent, while Mrs. Argentina's flesh had a warm tone--and then disappeared into the tall ceiling.

Mrs. Chard's likeness was thin and small-bosomed and fragile looking. Her curly platinum hair was cut in a short bob. The eyes, vivid with long eyelashes, were so light they seemed only tinted by blue. Pink lips curved in a gentle smile. Her neatly-formed breasts had erect nipples, and as the viewer's eye moved to the join of her thighs, it was apparent that she was a true blonde: the precisely-limned pubic hairs were almost as fair in color as the hair on her head. They were sparse, and failed to conceal a pinkness between labia that were slightly parted because of the position of her legs.

By contrast, Mrs. Argentina was opulent and buxom. Raven hair cascaded over one shoulder to a slender waist. Midnight-dark eyes flashed brilliantly above carmined lips. The breasts were full white orbs tipped with prominent nipples, and her belly curved sweetly down to a bushy mound of Venus, a dark triangle juxtaposed with Mrs. Chard's light curls.

Although the painting was done with dispassion, brush strokes small and inconspicuous as they informed the figures with utter realism, there was something wholly sensuous about it. In an ineffable way the painting tapped a primal emotion in the viewer, so strong it was suffocating. Men and women alike would long to caress the sensual fragility of Mrs. Chard, and to feel the warmth of Mrs. Argentina against them.

It was a magnificent painting, but it was shocking, all the more because you couldn't quite tell why it was shocking, and because in real life both ladies were the epitome of refinement and reserve.

To the outside world Mrs. Chard seemed as cold as the diamantine ice of the Arctic; Mrs. Argentina, hair piled on her head in an intricate hairdo, authoritarian and untouchable.

The ladies looked at each other.

Far from being displeased, they thought the artist had captured their true personalities. They had been close friends for many years and had discovered that the similarity of those personalities completely overshadowed the physical difference between them. They were in their late thirties, both long-divorced, both rich enough to indulge themselves in idleness. Men made them uneasy, and for the most part they avoided them, but they were prepared to look favorably on the artist who seemed to understand them so well, and who said so in paint so fearlessly.

"I swear, that man is a genius," said Mrs. Argentina.

"Yes. It's beautiful. But now that I see it on the wall, it's a little embarrassing."

"Oh, Estelle, this is the twentieth century. Anyway, all of Jack Landon's paintings look that way. The man must be a sex maniac."

Their laughter rang through the drawing room.

Mrs. Chard said, "Speaking of sex maniacs, did you see that portrait of Mrs. Myers?"

"Your bank president's wife? In the Landons' parlor. Why?"

"She shaves herself down there."

"Oh, I know! I saw it. It looks sexy, doesn't it? She's a lovely woman." Sultriness effervesced in Mrs. Argentina's eyes.

Mrs. Chard noted it.

"Marie, you're incorrigible. She is lovely, though. I can't imagine why she's wasting her life married to Howard Myers, he's such a thoroughgoing prig."

"That's what you want a bank president to be," Mrs. Argentina pointed out.

"I suppose so." Mrs. Chard laughed again. "He can't be all bad, can he? If his wife poses nude and shaves herself down there."

"Their daughter does, too. It must run in the family."

"Daughter?"

"Mrs. Landon. Her portrait's in the parlor opposite Mrs. Myers."

"She's their daughter? I didn't know that," Mrs. Chard said.

"She has to be, she looks so much like her. Same curly brown hair and blue eyes, and you can see that Mrs. Myers' figure must have been just as slender at that age. Didn't you notice?"

"No, but I'll look the next time. That's funny . . ." Mrs. Chard was thoughtful. "I didn't know they had a daughter. I seem to remember a boy. Mr. Myers sent a birth announcement. Jerome, or Gerald, something like that, but I don't remember a girl."

She frowned.

After a moment the ladies' eyes met.

They were thinking the same thing.

It had been seven years since they first put their sons in dresses.

It was a matter of discipline, a unique and effective punishment. Leslie and Johnny were loud, coarse, ill-mannered thirteen-year-olds who needed to be taken down a peg and taught a semblance of refinement. But then Mrs. Chard had seen how charming Leslie looked in skirts, how . . . demure, and had given in to the impulse to keep him as the daughter she had always longed to fuss over. Mrs. Argentina had regarded it as an opportunity to prevent Johnny from growing into-- ugh!--a man. Her marriage and divorce had left scars.

The boys objected, of course, but the ladies knew how to enforce discipline, both by punishment and reward.

Yes, and when Mrs. Chard discovered Leslie's penis coming erect as she fastened his stockings to his garter belt, the "reward" became no less than sexual. It was very effective.

Disgraceful, it was incest, but Mrs. Chard had been without sex since before Leslie was born, and the sight of her son's erection had stimulated her beyond any moral scruples she might have had. The boy, bathed and perfumed in frilly clothes, totally under her control, couldn't remind her of his father, by whom she had felt so threatened she had never had an orgasm. She surrendered to her urges.

That first night she made Leslie wear a nightgown and sleep with her, telling him it was all right for girls to share a bed. She got undressed in front of him as if he really were a female. She pretended not to notice the little erection under his gown as he, in turn, pretended not to be staring at her naked body.

However, once in bed cuddled next to him--he seemed alarmed by her unusual display of affection--she whispered, "You're such a good child to show your mother what it's like to have a girl around the house. You deserve a treat."

She pulled his nightie up around his waist and lay on top of the dewy-eyed creature, so young and impressionable, legs between his as if she were the man and he were the girl. It was a reassuring position for her.

His harmless little thing was a delight, supremely rigid but not big enough to offer any insult to the tender tissues down there. She moved her hips up and down, massaging her wetness against his pubic area. In a very short while she climaxed for the first time in her life, with a violence that took her by surprise, and then again when she felt the hot squirt of his young fluid.

He was so grateful and willing. From then on she had no trouble dressing him as she wished. He got erect every time she was near, which was flattering, and useful for controlling his behavior. And for making him available to her any time her vulva sent its unmistakable message that it needed attention.

He and Johnny looked cute together in their dresses. When she and Marie Argentina had privately discovered that males were not entirely necessary for sexual satisfaction, they had Leslie and Johnny share a bed while the ladies slept in Mrs. Chard's bedroom. She sometimes wondered if anything went on between the boys after the lights were out. She had heard about boys in puberty.

After the children were graduated from St. Swithin's Elementary School they all moved up to Chardsville, Mrs. Chard's childhood home. Mrs. Argentina bought the mansion next door, and they registered Leslie and Johnny (renamed "Joan") in the public high school as girls. To minimize the risk of discovery, they arranged for a doctor to alter the boys' bodies to simulate femininity. Not sex-change operations, nothing had been removed, just breast implants for Johnny, hormone treatment for Leslie, and a small procedure to conceal their puppy genitals.

Mrs. Argentina's voice broke into her reverie.

"It's quite impossible, Estelle."

"What?"

"What you're thinking. That she's like Leslie and Joan."

Although Mrs. Chard often gave the impression of being a silly woman under the frangible elegance of her exterior, it was largely because she was rich enough to do or say anything she pleased. In fact, however, her mind was shrewd and calculating and her memory was unusually good.

In her mind's eye she could see the birth announcement, when was it, Leslie was about three, so it was sixteen or seventeen years ago, which was just about Mrs. Landon's age. It was a boy. Its name was, what, Jerome? Gerald? Gerard? Gerard. That was it. She remembered Mr. Myers saying something about its being named after his grandfather.

Since then, nothing. If the Myers had another child they would have been sure to send her an announcement. After all, she was the bank's majority stockholder. Mr. Myers' position as president depended entirely on her.

Giggles in the entrance hall told her that Leslie and Johnny had come in. In a moment the children passed the drawing room portals on their way upstairs to Leslie's bedroom suite.

"Girls, come in here a minute, will you?"

Mrs. Chard turned to Mrs. Argentina and continued in a low tone, "I'm almost sure the Myers had only one child, and it was a boy."

Lighting up the room like flowers, the "girls" entered in a flurry of skirts and flashing smiles.

Johnny said, "Hey, is that the new portrait? It's beautiful."

The youngsters gazed at it. They had come a long way in the last seven years. At twenty, they were unusually attractive, Mrs. Chard mused. Dr. Goody's treatment had made their bodies slim and feminine- looking and their faces were bright and sweet; Leslie with his sparkling gray eyes and the slight overbite which made him look friendly and cute; Johnny with his straight brown hair and lustrous eyes and happy smile.

Mrs. Chard knew that in the beginning the boys were only waiting for the day when they turned eighteen and became emancipated from their mothers, and could return to Dr. Goody. He had told them the procedure was reversible, that he could cause their breasts to disappear and remove the stitches which kept their genitals hidden. But the day had come and they hadn't done it. It would do no good. They would end up undersized, delicate-looking men at best. They were better off this way.

She looked at them fondly. They were still such children, but they were undeniably growing up. It was a shame. They had all been so close, but now the girls had their own friends and were starting to live their own lives.

It bothered her that Leslie had begun keeping company with that Melvin Woicyk. Harmless enough, she guessed, since Woicyk knew all about Leslie. For that very reason, however, she couldn't understand why the man wanted to spend so much time with him, or for that matter, why Leslie would actually go on what amounted to dates with Woicyk. Dinner, theater, all that kind of thing. Perhaps it was just loneliness, or the companionship of someone close to his own age. It wasn't as if Leslie was, er, that way. She remembered how eager he had been to have sex with her, and then later, with that young girl, Alice.

Although in the course of time Mrs. Chard had seduced Alice and weaned her away from Leslie, the girl had come up pregnant, and hadn't that been a mess until she had straightened it out. Alice had an abortion. Even with their eyes on Mrs. Chard's wealth, her parents had to agree that fifteen was too young for Alice to become a mother. A modest settlement had sent them packing. It was too bad --Alice was a lovely child, Mrs. Chard mused regretfully. But at any rate it showed that Leslie had the normal instincts.

Woicyk was the one who had rescued Leslie from the football team in the park. The boys had discovered Leslie's true gender and were sadistically showing him what men did to women. Woicyk, then a young park patrolman, had proven resourceful and discreet. He had bundled the naked, bruised, sobbing teenager in a blanket, and instead of taking him to the Emergency Room or the station house, brought him directly home; so no one, except the football team, knew. Then he threatened each member of the team privately and succeeded in insuring their silence. Mrs. Chard had a chat with the police chief the following week, and Woicyk was promoted to detective third-grade.

During the next six months the eleven football players left town. One by one their fathers were mysteriously laid off or fired, the banks foreclosed on their homes, and any investments they had, somehow failed. Mrs. Chard owned the industry that supported the town, and held majority interest in all three of Chardsville's banks.

A couple of months ago Woicyk and Leslie met again by chance, and despite knowing about Leslie, the young detective asked him out. They had been seeing each other ever since.

Johnny was also going out with a man, Michael Jaffe. They had known each other since high school, and their relationship seemed open and innocent. Still, who knew about young people these days? Mrs. Chard shrugged mentally.

"Joan, dear, your mother and I were just talking about the Landons. You know them pretty well, don't you?"

"Yes, Mrs. Chard."

"And Mr. and Mrs. Myers?"

"Not as well as the Landons, but Mrs. Myers is over there a lot, so I know her to talk to."

"Is she Mrs. Landon's mother?"

Johnny looked faintly surprised. "Oh, sure."

"How do you know? Did she tell you?"

Johnny opened his mouth, closed it again. He tossed the straight hair out of his eyes and after a moment said slowly, "No-o, I don't think so. I guess I just assumed it. They look so much alike. Wait, now I remember. I heard Suzie call her Mom, I think." His expression cleared. "Sure, that's it. She calls her Mom."

"Of course. Now, tell me, has Mrs. Landon got a brother?"

"She never mentioned it. Why, what's wrong?"

"Nothing, dear. Your mother and I were curious, that's all."

Mrs. Chard flashed a meaningful look at Mrs. Argentina before saying to Leslie, who was still staring at the portrait, "What do you think? It's lovely, isn't it?"

"Yes. But . . ."

"What?"

"It's so, I don't know, sexy. Should you have it hung in the drawing room where everybody can see?"

Mrs. Chard arched her eyebrows. "What is so 'sexy' about it?"

"I don't know. You and Mrs. Argentina don't have any clothes on, but that's not it, I guess. There's lots of pictures of naked women. It's just--sexy, that's all. People might get the wrong idea."

Mrs. Chard studied her son's face. She knew him so well. An all-but- imperceptible glint in his mascaraed eyes told her he was erect in his panties. It pleased her. She was vain enough to be flattered by Leslie's excitement at seeing her unclothed in a painting.

She patted his cheek and repeated Mrs. Argentina's words. "It's the twentieth century, you know, dear. You two run along now. Ask Angie to fix you a snack if you're hungry."

When the boys had gone, she turned to Mrs. Argentina. "See?"

A smile tugged at the corners of Mrs. Argentina's scarlet lips.

"Now, Estelle. You have such a penchant for finding mysteries in every little coincidence. Perhaps Mrs. Myers was married before, and Mrs. Landon is her child. We both know that Suzanne couldn't be like Leslie and Joan. After all, she has a husband and two children of her own, and we both saw her pregnant. And Joan says she breast-feeds the baby."

"I know, I know. But there's something fishy here, and I mean to get to the bottom of it."

Chapter 2

Helen Myers braked and swerved. The little rabbit on the road hadn't been able to decide which way to flee until the last moment.

She let out her breath. It would have spoiled the rest of the day for her if she had run over the poor creature, and that would be a shame, because she was on her way to help celebrate her son-in-law's sale of a painting for more money than she would ever have dreamed. There was a case of champagne in the car's trunk to express her delight at how well Jack and Suzie were getting along, both financially and domestically.

A warm breeze caressed her face and tugged at her hair through the open window, but didn't do much to cool her off. Her sun-dress was already sticky against her skin, and she had taken a refreshing shower just before leaving, too. August was always difficult.

She was wearing the bare minimum of clothes. Sandals on her feet, no stockings, no bra or panties either. The Ladies Society would be shocked. They were not pleased with her these days anyway. Ever since Suzie had come back to Chardsville two and a half years ago, Jack in tow, Helen had changed her attitude about many things and was no longer as rigid and prudish as the rest of the ladies. It showed.

She should have waited for evening to go over to Jack and Suzie's, it would be cooler, but Howard had gone on one of his disreputable weekends down to the city, and the house was too quiet. Boring. On the farm there was always something to do, even if it was only to chat with Suzie in the kitchen and admire the babies.

It was funny about Helen and babies. She must be a psychological mess. She had always loved bearing children, creating a new life inside her; but once they were born she lost all interest. The last thing in the world she wanted to do was raise kids. That was probably part of the reason Suzie had run away from home at the age of thirteen. Two years later Howard had found the child in the city, already married to Jack, and had brought them back to Chardsville with him. The marriage wasn't entirely legal, naturally, but one of Jack's friends was a mail-order preacher and had undertaken to tie the knot in defiance of the law.

By contrast with Helen, Jack and Suzie loved kids. Suzie was affectionate and caring, so much so that she nursed the babies, which gave Helen the willies to see. She had fed Suzie from a bottle.

Jack turned out to be a good father. Although he avoided the messy chores like diaper-changing, for which Helen couldn't blame him, he was always there to hold them patiently when they fretted, a luminous proud expression on his face. His eighteen-month-old daughter was the apple of his eye, but clearly he was waiting for the little boy, only four months old, to grow up so he could take him fishing or play football with him or whatever men did with their sons. An orphan himself, Jack wanted a large family.

Helen started blushing and almost missed the turn onto the country road that led to the farm.

Celebration?

Who was she fooling? She had every intention of getting pregnant this evening. And every intention of enjoying it.

She was sure Jack and Suzie would agree. Since they couldn't have children of their own, the ideal way for them to have lots of kids was for Helen to provide them, as a surrogate mother. That way there was no awkward business involving adoption.

Suzie had been ingenious when Helen got pregnant with Lucy two and a half years ago. By buying what theatrical-supply houses called a "maternity cushion," a foam-rubber belly with solid-rubber inserts to make it increase in size and weight weekly according to Helen's own progress, Suzie had been able to show the world all the necessary evidence of pregnancy.

In the meantime, Howard had rented an apartment for Helen in the city as soon as she had begun to show, and she had given birth in a hospital down there. She gave her name as "Suzanne Landon" for Baby Lucy's birth certificate; the father was "John Landon."

A year later, Helen delivered another baby to them: little Bobby.

The birth certificates and appearance of pregnancy would have been enough for anyone else, but Suzie was always so imaginative and headstrong. A visit to a doctor in the city had resulted in a prescription for prolactin, the hormone that causes the breasts to produce milk, so the world was presented with further evidence of the legitimacy of Suzie's pregnancies.

Helen turned the car into the gravel driveway. The old farmhouse looked comfortable and friendly. There were flowers everywhere. She drove around to the kitchen door.

Little Lucy, playing an absorbed game with a leaking garden hose that seemed to involve quantities of mud, spared her a radiant smile and suffered her to give her a cautious kiss on the least soiled part of her cheek before returning to her game.

She controlled the impulse to take the child inside for a good bath. Jack and Suzie were casual about dirt, maintaining their dirt was clean dirt, not like disease-ridden "city dirt," and if the kids started and ended the day scrubbed pink, what happened in between didn't matter. There might be something to it at that. The whole family was abysmally healthy, and the farm did seem to be a good place to raise kids, safe, and with plenty of interesting things for children to do.

Suzie was stacking dishes in the cupboard one-handed; the other arm held Bobby awkwardly against a rounded bosom. Like Helen, Suzie wore a light cotton summer frock and not much else.

"Hi, Mom! You're early."

"Your father went down to the city. Where's Jack?"

"Out in the studio. I don't think he notices the heat when he's painting." Suzie's smile was pale.

Helen took the baby and made incoherent noises to it--him--until he smiled toothlessly. She wouldn't want to raise him, but he was darling. Every time she saw him she had a feeling of pride. Like his sister, he was a perfect little baby. He would grow up to look like Jack. She had done a good job.

"I forgot, there's a case of champagne in the car." Helen put the baby down in his crib and watched him close his eyes. "Come help me get it and we'll put a few bottles on ice. It'll be cold by the time Jack's done painting."

"Champagne! Mom, you're so nice."

After they retrieved the wine, Helen smiled to see Suzie pour iced coffee for them in that cute I'm-playing-House way.

Suzie caught her watching and twinkled, "So Daddy's down in the city again. Oh-oh."

Helen smiled. "He's probably already in that bar he found you in, what's it called?"

"The Chanticleer."

"Yes. Suzie?"

"Um?"

"Are you happy? I mean, to be away from there and--to be the way you are?"

Suzie's eyes softened. "Oh, yes, Mom. To both. And to have little Lucy and Bobby. I'm so grateful to you. It wouldn't be the same without them. I'd always feel guilty about not being able to give Jack children."

"I'm glad. I'm grateful to you and Jack too." She felt her cheeks get hot. "I'd never have known about, you know, sex, what with your father being the way he is. I'd probably still be drinking."

"I never really understood about the drinking."

"I'm not altogether sure I do, either. Part of it was because for so many years--even before you were born--he never, er, did it with me." Helen still found it hard to use the plain words. "I thought it was me, that I was ugly and undesirable."

"Poor Mom."

"Rich, you mean. Now I have all the sex I want. At least I had." She paused meaningfully. "The baby was born four months ago, you know. And for a couple of months before that it was all just--so oral." She tried to sound deprived.

Suzie burst out laughing. "Poor Mom!" This time the tone was less than sympathetic. "Now I see what this is all about. You're planning to ply Jack with champagne and have your way with him."

Helen grinned. "Like you did with me when your father brought you home. That wasn't very nice, you know."

"Don't give me that." Suzie was cheerfully unabashed. "You loved it. Even while you were passed out. You kept moving while I was doing it."

"You're awful. It was a sneaky thing to do."

"I was mad about, oh, everything, and it was a way to get back at you both. I'd be sorry for it now, except for Lucy. And the way you love it, you sexpot."

"Suzie! Is that any way to talk to your mother?" A happy smile moved the corners of her lips.

It was true, she was a sexpot. She had never known. She had been brought up innocent, and kept that way by Howard, who had done his duty to her only once a month for three months before she turned up pregnant with Suzie, then named Jerry.

Until Suzie revealed his identity--how could she not have known him, even with his new figure! She was a bad mother--and told her he was the source of her mysterious pregnancy. He had been doing it to her each evening after she passed out on the living-room couch.

Proper, above reproach, rigidly moral, Helen had been shocked beyond measure--but in the aftermath of her hysteria got aroused and curious, filled with an unaccountable prurience.

She decided it wasn't fair. He had carnal knowledge of her while she was drunk and unconscious, and she had known nothing. She was carrying the consequences of his act, abortion was out of the question, of course, and she wondered what it had been like.

He owed it to her to show her. Since she was already pregnant nothing more could happen. Against all her moral principles, overwhelmed by excitement, she had driven to the farm when Jack was out of town and deliberately, fully conscious of what she was doing, committed incest with her son.

It had been the best thing that ever happened to her, and when Jack came back from his trip . . . well, maybe that was the best thing. He was so handsome and gentle and strong. And so well- endowed. And, it proved, bisexual like Suzie, something Helen didn't quite understand about but was thankful for. A year after Lucy, the next baby had been Jack's, so both of them were the natural parents of one of their children, and Howard had to live with the knowledge that his wife had had three children, including Suzie, by three different men. Served him right.

Suzie's voice broke into her thoughts.

"So. You've got the hots for my husband again."

"I don't know why you say that," she responded archly. Then, seriously, "Don't you think it's time to think about giving Lucy and Bobby a little brother or sister?"

Suzie's hand stopped in the act of lifting the glass of iced coffee. It began to tremble. Ice tinkled and coffee slopped on the table. He wiped it absently with a paper napkin.

"Oh, Mom! Really? Jack would be ecstatic, and so would I. But so soon after Bobby?"

"It's been four months," Helen reminded him. "Besides, I love it, you know. It makes me feel fulfilled. And--getting there is half the fun, as they say." She added, "This is the right time of the month."

"Oh, it's wonderful!" Suzie jumped up and danced around the room. "Where's that champagne? I'll call Jack. You two can go in the bedroom right away! Oh, Mom!"

"Wait. I was thinking. Lucy's your child, Bobby's Jack's. Suppose, well, suppose the next one's a mystery?"

Suzie stopped twirling. "A mystery?"

"I thought, well--" Helen was conscious of a furious blush, "if you both, that is, at the same time . . . then we wouldn't know."

"Uhk."

Suzie bent over, holding his crotch through his dress. He stumbled to the chair and sat down. "I feel like my panties are going to tear," he explained pinkly.

Helen laughed, but the join of her legs, bare under the sun-dress, was wet. Her thighs squirmed together.

A shadow fell across the screen door. The door creaked and Jack walked in, followed by Lucy, hard to identify as a human child through layers of "clean dirt." Suzie uttered an inarticulate sound, stripped down the muddy diaper and lifted the little girl to the sink for rinsing. Lucy chortled happily. Jack was sweating. Beads of moisture covered his forehead and there were great dark patches on his blue work- shirt. Helen's eyes fell to his midsection and marked the size of the mass in his jeans.

He seemed to fill the room.

"I've had it. That tin roof makes the studio like an oven. Hi, Helen." He bent and kissed her full on the lips. "How's my favorite mother-in-law? Any beer?" he asked Suzie.

"In the fridge."

Suzie toweled the child off, smacked her on the bare bottom, and took her in for a nap. When he returned he looked disapprovingly at Jack tilting the beer bottle to his lips. Pointedly he put a glass in front of him.

"We also have champagne for later. Mom brought a whole case. To celebrate."

"The Chard picture? Yeah, the money's nice, but Buffly's right, it's the prestige." Mr. Buffly was owner of the Mariposa Gallery in town. "I bet Joanie's mother commissions another one too. She and Mrs. Chard have some kind of a rivalry going."

Helen had seen the latest painting before it was delivered. More than in the two earlier portraits, one each for Mrs. Chard and Mrs. Argentina, Jack had revealed his perception that the ladies were intimate. What amazed Helen was that they had been pleased instead of offended when they picked up the painting. It was shocking. She wondered what women did together.

Jack took a generous swallow of beer, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and let his breath out.

"Ah. Perfect. Nothing like cold beer on a hot day." He glanced at Helen out of the corner of his eye with a glimmer of mischief. "I heard the definition of mixed emotions the other day. It's when you watch your mother-in-law back off a cliff in your brand-new car."

In a voice of outrage Helen cried, "You beast!" To Suzie, haughtily, "I've changed my mind. I'm going home."

Suzie giggled. "I don't blame you." He turned to Jack. "Now see what you've done. If you weren't so nasty we'd have something better to celebrate than some old painting. Mom told me she was thinking about having another baby."

Jack raised his eyebrows, eyes brown and lustrous, serious now, forgetting all about the teasing. "Yeah? Really?"

Helen nodded demurely.

"That's great!"

He got up and hugged her vigorously. His lips pressed down on hers, and his tongue forced its way into her mouth.

Helen's body turned to water, and her tongue responded to the movement of his. It was like being, being, fucked--there! She had said it, if only to herself--fucked right here in the kitchen with Suzie looking on. Jack's hand held her breast through her dress; she wanted to shrug down her shoulder strap and place the hand on her bare skin, but she was too shy in front of her son, er, daughter, or no, son, she never knew how to think about him, despite what had gone on between the three of them in the past.

Her face got wet with his perspiration. His body odor, exciting but strong, was in her nostrils.

When he broke the kiss she was breathless. The juncture of her thighs was slippery.

Suzie was watching, approval in his eyes.

Helen wrinkled her nose. "Whew! You need a shower. So do I." She looked down modestly. "Let's all take one together."

Jack's voice was an affectionate growl of agreement.

Suzie put his hand on Jack's arm and said, "Mom and I thought it would be fun if we didn't know whose child it was, if both of us . . ."

It took a moment to sink in.

"Yeah?" The look he gave Helen was full of admiration. "Okay. Let's get in the shower, and then--rrowf!"

Helen's heart was beating so hard on the way upstairs that her bodice trembled visibly. When it came time for them to undress, butterflies lifted her stomach. It had been so long. She was bashful about taking off her dress in front of them, but when she saw Suzie pull his frock over his head and Jack strip off his sweaty shirt, she reached behind, tugged down her zipper, and slipped out of her dress, aware that it made her instantly naked.

Her mound of Venus, and between her legs and buttocks, was shaved clean. She knew a bare "down there" turned Jack on; she'd groomed herself with care before coming over. Suzie also shaved his genital area for Jack, although it was hardly necessary; the doctor's treatment had left him virtually without body hair.

His breasts were well-formed, not as full as hers, but tipped with brown, somewhat elongated, nipples. She had warned him that breast- feeding the babies would spoil the shape of his bosom, but she'd been wrong. His breasts were lovelier than ever. The nipples, however, were no longer pink and virginal; they looked, what was the word, competent, somehow. She knew from personal experience that having a baby darkened the color of a woman's nipples; apparently so did nursing one.

The front of Suzie's panties was pushed out, and when he pulled them down, his--prick--another of those hard-to-think words-- stuck out as if it was on a spring. It was beautiful. And very strange. Her own Jerry's thing on the perfect body of a seventeen-year-old girl. It had been in her. It had given her a baby. She looked again. Suzie's shaven pubes made the penis look long and sexy. Below it, his testicles hung pink and tender.

The rest of his body was distinctly female. That doctor, at the orders of the man who had enslaved Suzie and made him his maid, had treated him with something called protogen. Suzie had explained that the experimental drug was not a hormone; rather, it was a "supervisor," which directed the body's production and use of hormones.

Both men and women produce male and female hormones in the adrenal glands, he said, though in a man most of the male hormone comes from his--balls--and in a woman most of the estrogen comes from her ovaries. Protogen, working through the pituitary gland, caused the adrenals to enlarge until they were almost the size of the kidneys they adhered to, and to secrete enormous quantities of both kinds of hormones, but it limited the use of any male hormone in the body to a heightening of the sex drive and making sperm. None of it was available for producing male characteristics--chest hair, beard, deep voice, large muscles, and the rest.

In the meantime, estrogen was increased to levels normal for females. Uninhibited by the male hormone, it did what it was supposed to do, causing Suzie's body to develop like a teen-age girl's. The effect was permanent, Suzie reported. Once the hormones had been channeled into their respective functions, their activities stabilized. To all intents Suzie was a girl with a boy's sex organs. He even had monthly mood swings, though that was probably psychological.

Jack dropped his shorts.

Like Suzie, he was erect. His penis was enormous. Helen feasted her eyes on it. The thing was so heavy that instead of being cocked at an upward angle to his body it stood straight out. It was beautiful, but in a different way from Suzie's. Massive. Strong-looking. Shaft bent upward like a banana with a deep rose head, shiny with strain, the orifice in the tip gaping slightly as if anxious to emit the precious fluid that the egg-sized balls hanging under it had stored.

Oh, God. It was so thrilling. She got in the shower with them, under a lovely, cool spray that coursed over their bodies. She was squeezed slippery between them. She turned, only to feel Suzie's cock poking between the cheeks of her ass, and Jack's pressed hot against her tummy. Their skins slithered together, tepid and soapy.

Helen was in paradise. She lathered them both, paying special attention to their excited genitals, and stood, trembling with pleasure, as their hands soaped each part of her body.

A quick rinse, then towels, then they were padding naked downstairs to Jack and Suzie's bedroom. She noticed Suzie carried a towel in front of him in case Lucy should turn up unexpectedly. He and Jack were casual about nakedness, but Suzie had to strike a delicate balance between being casual and concealing the truth from Lucy. The child was still too young to know the difference, but it was a good habit to get into, Helen thought.

The bedroom was Spartan. A large brass bed high off the floor, a dresser, a circular rag rug with many colors, and a night stand supporting a lamp comprised the room's furniture.

The light through the windows was rosy-orange with sunset; the beginnings of an evening breeze caused the curtains to swell and flirt.

Jack picked her up tenderly. Helen felt like a girl again. Though lightly-muscled, he was very strong. She held him sweetly about the neck and let herself be carried to the bed.

She was conscious that her nipples were erect, and that her vagina was already flowing. She felt like covering herself modestly with her hand, but controlled the impulse and kept her arms by her side until Jack got on one side of her and Suzie on the other, and she put an arm around each of them.

"Oh. I'm so aroused. Please, one of you, do it to me."

Suzie kneeled over her. "Don't be in such a hurry. We've got the whole weekend, Mom. Relax. Everything's going to be all right."

Her son, daughter, whatever, dipped his head and kissed her smooth, bare triangle. He was on his knees, breasts trailing over her skin. He put his head lower, and as her thighs moved apart unbidden, his tongue touched the crack at the front of her pussy. She nearly jumped out of her skin when it nudged her clitoris. Oh, God.

Her eyes caught Jack's. He pressed against her, cock leaking on her hip, and kissed her sensuously.

Suzie's hair fell forward to caress her thighs. His tongue, it was so clever, worked on her, now licking down her crack, spearing up into her opening, now moving up again and touching that sensitive mantled protuberance.

At first it was like the ocean tide coming in. Little ripples coursed through her vulva, so gentle and tender they made her want to weep. The swells gained in strength until the complex of organs between her legs was pulsing regularly, caught in a kind of resonance which deepened with every surge.

Then it was like just before a tsunami, one of those giant waves caused by an earthquake. The tide drew back, draining her, flowing out, leaving her in timeless suspense, draining . . .

and a soundless rumble vibrated through her and swifter than any thought a towering wave CRASHED over her. She convulsed, drowned in passion, her vulva spasming in a devastating seizure, holding her son's head to her. Only gradually did she become aware that the wailing she heard was coming from her own throat.

She lay gasping as Suzie pulled panting, wet-faced, out of her grip. She had been suffocating him, reflexively trying to cram his head into her vagina.

Jack covered her, elbows supporting his torso, that enormous member poking between her labia, sliding down until it lodged at the entrance to her canal. She grunted as the bulbous tip thrust in, spreading the hole, pushing in until she felt her vagina close around the shaft as the flared head proceeded past the entrance. Sensitive tissues, dragged in by the organ, pulled at her clitoris's foreskin, stimulating it, and she raised her hips to meet her son-in-law's thrust.

Rapture seized her. He pushed up inside, the cock stretching her sideways, and then lengthwise as he reached the end of her vagina and continued moving forward until her breath was expelled in a sharp gasp. It felt like the head was pressing against her diaphragm. Her knees came up to accommodate the organ.

Now his lips were mumbling her nipples wetly. A sharp pang of unspeakable passion flashed from her breasts to the complex of organs between her legs. In desperate ardor she clutched him to her, and her vulva began clenching, and she CAME and then CAME again, and CAME, and she was screaming and shuddering and writhing, and still he kept on while she CAME, and it was an eternity before she felt the jerking of his prick as jets of hot semen flooded her vagina, and shaking and trembling all over, she sank back against the mattress as if a string had been cut, and endured the unbearable wet fulfillment of his ejaculation.

She welcomed his weight as he slumped on her. His breathing rasped in her ear. Instinctively her arms moved shakily over his back, massaging him weakly. Finally he lifted himself and kissed her. His prick, flaccid, squirted out of her and rested against her vulva, wet and heavy and meaty.

"Hey," he panted. "I'll never make mother-in-law jokes again." His mouth tried to shape itself into a smile.

He rolled over on his back next to her.

She lay, legs spread, a warm satisfied feeling in her pussy, totally content, feeling as if her body was dissolving into the bed, quivering like a mass of Jell-O. She was only vaguely aware of a movement of the mattress, and it was not until her son's cock poked into her liquid- filled canal that she realized Suzie was on her.

For a moment she couldn't stand it, but her son's prick touched her clitoris, making her jump, and she clutched him to her, feeling the stiff penis enter. She sighed as it moved back and forth. She was so wet and slippery with sperm she couldn't have prevented him from entering if she had wanted.

Suzie's breasts were pressed soft against hers. She pushed him up and took a nipple between her lips and sucked. A sweetish fluid filled her mouth, and she swallowed some of the milk that had been destined for little Bobby. It was warm and bland and private. Not wanting to drain it, she shifted to the other breast. The stimulation of his nipples seemed to send Suzie into a frenzy. His cock shoved violently in and out.

The thrusting in her already-sensitized cunt was too much. She CAME again. And again. And AGAIN. Her body writhed under Suzie's and a desperate moan escaped from her lips, which gained in volume until it became a shriek as the boy ejaculated into her. She could feel the rhythmic squirting into her cervix. As flooded as she had been by Jack's emission, Suzie's injection of sperm was greater. It filled her and fountained out around his prick. She remembered that the doctor's treatment had increased his capacity.

When he was done he rested on her like Jack, his breasts soft against hers, before pulling out and rolling off.

Helen lay exhausted from orgasms that seemed too intense for her body to have endured, and in some mysterious way she knew, knew, that she had been caught, by one of them. She was pregnant once more. It would need a test to prove it, but until then she knew.

Chapter 3

"Mr. Myers, this is Mr. Turner. He manages one of my hotels, the Mariposa. He has come to me with a proposition which I think has merit. He wishes to buy into the hotel. He requires a loan for the full amount," Mrs. Chard said.

Howard looked at the man with interest. A loan for the full purchase price. Pretty good business if you could do it. Turner was dark-haired, one of those people whose whiskers made their cheeks look blue unless they shave twice a day. He was in his early thirties, Howard surmised.

His grin, as he extended his hand, was cordial, but Howard caught a hint of hardness in it.

Mrs. Chard went on. "As you know, I don't like to keep more than sixty percent ownership of any of my properties--Chard Industries excepted, of course--preferring to diversify as much as possible. In addition, it is my belief that a stake in the hotel for Mr. Turner can only be advantageous from the standpoint of profits. Someone who owns a part of a business is more likely to increase its efficiency."

A frosty smile touched her lips.

Howard said, "I see. The loan would be secured by a mortgage on the hotel."

"Not on the entire property, just on Mr. Turner's interest. We've calculated that his share of the profits will accommodate a twenty-year payment schedule."

"I see," Howard said again. A loan for the total amount of the collateral? That was putting the bank out on a limb. But if Mrs. Chard wanted it, she'd get it.

She was looking at him expectantly. Did she think he was going to make a loan without a thorough investigation of the property? She knew better than that. If it ever came out he'd be thrown in jail.

"I'll have to see the books and look over the hotel, of course."

A glimmer of annoyance crossed Mrs. Chard's fine-boned face and disappeared.

"Of course. But I would take it as a great personal favor, Mr. Myers, if you would handle this matter with dispatch. I'd like to have the papers signed by the end of the week. Time is money, Mr. Myers. If you have no appointments you can't break this afternoon, Mr. Turner is prepared to show you the hotel immediately."

If it had been anyone but Mrs. Chard, Howard would have been deeply suspicious about the need for haste, but he had known her for years. When she wanted something, she wanted it now.

"I'd be happy to."

"Thank you." Mrs. Chard's expression softened perceptibly. She stood up and held out her hand. "I must go. It's always a pleasure doing business with you, Mr. Myers. Please give my regards to your family, your lovely wife and--daughter, isn't it?"

"Yes." Try as he might, Howard couldn't prevent a flush creeping into his cheeks. If she ever found out about Jerry, he'd be fired outright, for moral turpitude unbecoming a bank officer or something.

"She was born right here in Chardsville, wasn't she? A real home- town girl. I understand she married that painter, Jack Landon. Such a gifted man."

When she left, the two men looked at each other.

Turner grinned. "Is she always like that?"

"I beg your pardon?"

Unabashed, Turner said, "Brr. I feel like I got frostbite."

Howard couldn't help smiling. He decided not to stand on his dignity. "I think she makes everyone feel that way, Mr. Turner. Shall we go down to the hotel? You can buy me lunch."

"Dick."

Howard rather liked this brash young man. He held out his hand. "Howard."

By the time he had finished examining the books--the hotel, obviously well-managed, was showing a good profit, and there were no detectable irregularities in the accounts--it was time for dinner. There was still much to do, spot-inventorying and the like, but it would keep until tomorrow. He called Helen to tell her he would be late, and he and Turner went to the dining room.

Howard was glad to see the food and service was excellent. The dining room, even on a Tuesday night, was well-patronized. During their after- dinner brandy, Turner kept glancing off to the side.

Howard followed the direction of his eyes. An attractive young woman clad in a full-skirted black taffeta cocktail frock was dining alone at a table across the room. Her hair was shoulder-length, the color of buckwheat honey, a kind of brownish gold.

His own preferences lay in other directions, but he knew how to play the game. He said slyly, "Not bad. Being a hotel manager must have its advantages. Is she a guest?"

Turner looked at him appraisingly for a long moment. "Ye-es," he said finally. His voice was uncertain, as if he were trying to decide whether to say something more. "Well, not exactly. She has a room here, though."

Howard raised his eyebrows.

Turner went on, "See, Howard, you have to understand how hotels operate. There's something about traveling that makes people horny. A good hotel tries to take into account all its guests' needs. You know what I mean. In an informal way, right? Not a regular part of the business, I mean. That one," his eyes moved back to the young woman, "is special. We keep a room for her."

"Special?"

"Yeah." Again Turner appraised him. "What the hey, we're both men of the world, right? See, a lot of our guests are what they call closet gays, guys who don't want people to know they're gay. Even if they're away from home. Or maybe they aren't gay, but just want a new experience. So what are they gonna do? Go out and do the town with another guy that everyone might know is gay?"

He answered his own question. "No. They want to go out with someone who looks like a girl."

Howard stared. When Turner's meaning sunk in, he exclaimed, "Are you telling me that attractive young person is not a girl?"

"Yeah." Turner smiled at his surprise.

Howard's own son, Jerry--Suzie, now--was a boy who was indistinguishable from a girl when he was clothed, so Howard could believe Turner's assertion; but there was no way to tell that under that gorgeous black frock was a prick and balls. She was gay, Turner said. His cock stiffened violently in his trousers. He gulped his brandy.

Turner was watching him. "Come on, let's go over. I'll introduce you. I mean, it's kind of part of the hotel business. If the bank is gonna invest in it, you should know everything about it."

Howard hesitated, heart pounding.

The other man said earnestly, "Come on, it'll be a new experience, right? You never met a guy in a dress before, did you?"

Howard managed to say, "No. All right, I guess."

He took his napkin with him as they walked over to the other table, trying to look as if it was absent-mindedness, but held it so it covered the bulge in his pants.

The girl brightened at their approach. Her blue eyes were shaped by eyeliner. The lashes were long and heavily mascaraed.

"Hi, Dick!" Her voice was husky and musical.

"Howard, this is Amy Dahl." He said to Amy, "Howard is the president of Chardsville First National. The bank's looking over the hotel. Mind if we join you?"

"Hi, Howard." She held out her hand for him to take. It was slender with tapering fingers tipped by pink-lacquered nails, soft in his hand. "Sit here by me. Are you going to foreclose?"

He made himself smile. His erection felt like it was going to burst in his trousers.

"We would never foreclose if you were a guest here."

"Oh, Howard, aren't you just the sweetest thing!" She patted his cheek and turned to the other man. "I like your friend already. He's so gallant."

Turner said, "Ain't she something? You'd never guess in a thousand years, would you?"

"N-no."

Her face turned pink. "Dick! You didn't tell him, did you? Now he'll think I'm awful."

Howard choked, "I could never think that."

Turner stood up. "Hey, listen, I gotta check on the night men. Why don't you stay and talk to Amy and have another drink? I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"

"All right."

Howard saw him stop on his way out and say something to the waiter, who brought two snifters to the table.

Amy said, "Oh, brandy! How nice. It makes a meal so elegant." She asked seriously, "You don't mind, do you? About me, I mean. Some men are put off by it."

"No, I think it's--interesting."

"You're nice."

"H-how--that is . . ."

"Why am I dressed like this?"

"Yes."

"That's a hard question. I know there must be a lot of psychological reasons for it, but what it all boils down to is I like it." She glowed at him.

Howard laughed.

"I think that's a good reason. You're fortunate to be so attractive. Nobody would ever know."

"You're sweet. When I first did it I was scared to death to go out. It was right here in this hotel. I came up from the city to register in Chardsville College and somebody had left some lingerie behind in my room. Just for fun I tried it on. I never did anything like that before. But--" She looked down. "I don't know if I can tell you."

"Go on, this is very interesting."

"Well, it was exciting, more exciting than anything. I, uh, well you know, played with myself. The next day I got up enough courage to go into a store and buy a dress, and after a while made myself go out in it. Do you think I'm strange?"

"No, of course not. I can understand how you must have felt. Sometimes," Howard admitted, surprising himself, "I put on some of my wife's lingerie, just for fun."

"Oh, then you do understand. I'm glad." She sneaked a glance to the side. "That waiter's waiting for us to leave. He knows he's not going to get a tip because the meal is on the house. It was nice of you to stay with me--it isn't every day I get a free meal."

"You're a little gold-digger, aren't you?" Howard laughed.

He liked her, and that was too bad, because it made his erection even harder. He put his hand in his pocket, squirmed in his chair, and managed to get his prick up under his belt. It was hot against his stomach.

She said, "Would you like some more brandy? I have some upstairs in my room."

The blood drained from his face. Suppose somebody saw him? Turner. Where was he? Then he thought, Nothing's going to happen, it's all quite innocent, and it was Turner who had introduced them anyway. If anyone thinks the wrong thing, that's their problem, not mine.

"All right."

"Would it be better if I went first?"

"N-no, it's all right. It's just an after-dinner drink."

"Howard, I like you, you're a real man."

When they stood up he took out his wallet and left a generous tip on the table.

Turner was nowhere to be seen in the lobby, thank God. Howard stiffened when she hooked her arm through his, but relaxed and let her lead him up the stairs to an outside walkway and along it to her hotel room. He noted the number: Two-Oh-Three.

Deep, spotless carpeting covered the floor. Overall the color decor was peach, but strong accents of other hues relieved the blandness of that color. Howard looked quickly away from the king-size bed, but it was hard to ignore because it was reflected in the room's most striking feature, a floor-to-ceiling mirror that covered fully one-third of the wall.

A tray of liquors and a bucket of ice was in the center of a round table next to a window overlooking the courtyard.

"Howard, would you mind if I took off my shoes? They're new and they're simply killing me."

"No, go right ahead." He felt faint.

She sat on the bed and pulled off her pumps. "Oh, what a relief!" She massaged her stockinged feet. "Be a good boy and pull the drapes and fix us a couple of drinks, would you?"

Howard's hands trembled as he poured the brandy and handed a glass to her. He sat at the table, and swallowed his drink.

Amy said plaintively, "Why are you sitting way over there? Come sit by me so we can talk." She patted the bed.

He had to bend over while he walked to minimize the degree to which his trousers were being pushed out.

"Howard, you look so uncomfortable! Here, let me help you off with your jacket."

Her hands were deft as she removed his coat and unbuttoned his vest. He trembled when she loosened his tie. The soft touch made his heart pound. A floral perfume was in his nostrils.

"There! Isn't that better?" She brushed her lips across his cheek.

He choked, "Are you sure, sure you're, uhk, a boy?"

"Of course I am, silly! Do I have to prove it to you?"

"It's so hard to believe."

"Here, see for yourself."

She took his hand and put it on her leg under the petticoats that gave fullness to the taffeta frock.

He hesitated. In a moment his hand moved of its own accord, up the nylon-clad thigh, shaking with excitement when it felt the smoothness of bare skin, and touched lacy panties that contained a large lump.

"You--you're huh. Hard," he gasped. He fondled the nylon-covered bulges.

"Howard, I said I liked you. --Oh, that feels good," she sighed.

There didn't seem to be enough oxygen for his lungs. His heart thumped. He thought his prick was going to tear through his pants.

He grasped the elastic of her panties and pulled them down. The simmering prick was hot and hard, and skin slipped back and forth as he manipulated it.

"You're making me crazy," Amy threw her arms around him and put her face up to be kissed.

Still holding her cock, Howard embraced her. Her lips opened under his. Shivering, he let his tongue enter her mouth in a simulation of intercourse.

After a long moment, Amy broke the kiss, whispered, "Oh, Howard, you're wonderful, but if you don't stop I'm going to make a mess under my skirt."

A bead of sweat ran into his eye. Amy was delicious. When Howard was still fighting the lure of homosexuality he patronized a gay bar called the Chanticleer down in the city and picked up men in drag, pretending to himself that they were really women, so whatever he did with them was okay. Later, when he admitted his gayness to himself and Helen, he still preferred men in women's dresses. It added an element of perversion that excited him. He wasn't sure why.

He managed to croak, "Would you like--?"

"What?"

"Me to--with my mouth--" He couldn't believe he was doing this. In his own home town, in a hotel doing business with his bank. His balls had him by the throat.

She said simply, "I'll stand in front of you."

Howard remained seated. She stepped close, and he could see that her dress was held out in front.

The taffeta rustled loudly against her petticoats as she lifted them and draped them over his head. She was sweet and clean and her legs were shaved under there, and her perfume smelled delightful . . . but now he could no longer think of her as "her."

The cock in front of him stood straight out from a light brown bush, white-shafted, the head a turgid red, shiny with passion. Amy did like him, Howard thought. Pricks didn't lie.

The testicles hanging underneath were oval in their rose-colored sack. Howard pushed his nose into their softness to inhale their odor, a nutty smell that a hint of perfume didn't mask. His tongue went out to lick them.

A quiet groan came from above, and the stockinged legs spread farther apart, pelvis thrusting forward to press the masses against his mouth.

He grasped the other's buttocks, holding him close.

His head was smothered in frilly silken material as he drew back to let his lips encircle the swollen cockhead. A sticky leak had already begun. It had almost no taste, but its slipperiness on his tongue was so exciting that the blood drained away from Howard's head; he got dizzy; his sight darkened.

He pushed forward, reveling in the feel of the prick's hot skin, the way it slid tightly between his lips. He moved rhythmically, tongue slurping wetly around the organ, and applied suction. Above him the boy gasped and moaned continuously.

Howard's jaws began to ache with the strain of holding them open. His teeth scraped more strongly on the shaft than he meant them to. Amy seemed to be enjoying it nevertheless: the cock was so tense it was vibrating. Each time Howard drew back, he compressed his lips around the neck, foreskin squirming between them, and laved the head with his tongue before pushing forward again.

The prick swelled.

Howard pulled back so only the head was in his mouth. He wanted to taste what was coming--but Amy's hips jerked spastically, making the prick jam against the back of his throat, almost penetrating his gullet. A jet of semen erupted under pressure. He could feel the part of his throat that was in contact with the orifice being pushed in by the liquid as it sought to escape. His mouth filled rapidly; he had to swallow before the ejaculation was over.

In a little while the cock started softening; it gave between his lips. Nevertheless he continued working on it, sucking rhythmically to pull out any sperm that might be left. The boy's knees were wobbly; Howard felt him lean his hands on his shoulders to support his weight.

When the penis was a squirmy sausage, Amy's pelvis twitched, pulling it out of Howard's mouth. He stepped back, skirts dragging over Howard's head until it was no longer covered.

He blinked in the bright lights of the room. His mouth was full of the taste of sperm. He didn't look at the boy until he heard the rustling of clothes. He peeped bashfully up. He was taking off his dress.

Under it he was wearing a wasp-waisted foundation garment. The words "merry widow" came to Howard's mind, but he wasn't sure if that was the right name. Below the garment hung a large, flaccid prick and hairy balls. Amy unfastened his stockings.

"Aren't you going to get undressed too?"

Howard nodded and unbuttoned his shirt with clumsy fingers. By the time he was down to his underwear, Amy was in the bathroom. He waited, then stripped off his shorts and got between the sheets, balls aching, prick rigid.

The boy came out. He was stark naked, cock dangling heavily. He had removed his makeup, but his hair still hung down to his shoulders in shining honey waves. Without the foundation garment his figure was that of a slim young man with hairless legs and torso. In the dress and with high heels he had looked just the right height for a girl; now he looked smaller than he should.

"Hi," Amy said shyly. His voice was still soft and musical. "Can I join you?"

Howard's throat wouldn't work. He lifted the bedclothes in invitation.

"Oh, Howard, you were wonderful." The boy lay beside him and kissed him. He touched the rigid cock. "Oh, my goodness. You like me, too. Do you want me to do the same thing for you, or would you like to make love to me?"

"Whuh-whatever you want."

"Really? I'd love it if you would put it in me. It would make me feel I was truly yours, to do whatever you wanted with. I bet you'd make me come again."

He pushed down the sheets and lay on his stomach, spreading his buttocks with his hands.

Shaking, Howard climbed on top of him and let him direct his prick to the hole. It had been lubricated; Howard's cock moved slowly in against the tightness.

The boy gasped. "You're so big! Oh, it feels wonderful."

Chapter 4

Sitting at the vanity, Leslie finished his makeup. He examined his reflection critically. Was he using too much blush? No, it looked all right. Mascara? He always had to use a lot because his eyelashes were so light. He debated deepening the hue of his eye shadow, but decided to leave it as it was. He blinked his eyes to take a fresh look at his face in the mirror. Yeah, he was okay.

He wanted to look good for Mel, and this was as good as he got. Not so bad at that, he preened. He knew he was prettier than most girls his age, and when he was made up like this--curly blond hair down to his shoulders, gray eyes sparkling and taking on the color of the eye shadow, lips bee-stung and inviting--he was positively entrancing.

But for his panties he was naked, fresh from the bath, skin glowing. In the mirror his breasts were pert, not large, but sweetly formed and tipped with rose-brown nipples. As he watched, a milky-blue drop oozed from one of them. He blotted it with a cotton puff.

His breasts were secreting.

It was inconvenient, but it was his own fault. Years ago Dr. Goody had told him some leakage was inevitable, since to keep his breasts shapely he was taking prolactin, the hormone that causes them to produce milk. The leakage would be minimal if he didn't stimulate them, Dr. Goody said, but if he did, the supply would increase to meet the demand.

Leslie had been unable to leave them alone. Shocked but enthralled by the idea of a boy giving milk, he discovered he could milk himself by pinching the nipple in the fork of two fingers and pulling it forward to make it squirt into a glass, so he could taste the fluid. Later that damn' football team had drained his breasts, sending the glands into a frenzy of production. Now if he didn't relieve himself daily, his tits became hard and painful. He sometimes asked Johnny to help out. But maybe tonight, if he gave in to Mel . . .

In the mirror he saw Johnny emerge from the bathroom. Mrs. Argentina was on one of her weekend vacations down in the city, so Johnny was staying with them.

Leslie watched his friend as he fastened a garter belt around his slim waist and buttoned his stockings to it. Like Leslie's, his penis was concealed in the skin "holster" Dr. Goody had created, brunette pubic hair covering the little crescent fold at the base of the organ, and you had to be close and intimate to perceive that Johnny was not a girl.

It had been a simple procedure. Dr. Goody had raised their testicles into their bodies and had flattened the now-empty scrotum along the crotch. He stitched the lowermost point of the sack as far back as it would go.

Bending the limp penis down against the crotch, he folded the sack around it, like a bun closing on a frankfurter. Sewing only through one of the inside skin layers on each side so the stitches couldn't be seen, he formed a pocket for the penis. The deep seam made the structure bear an uncanny resemblance to a woman's labia. Thoughtfully, the doctor left the last quarter-inch open to provide an aperture for urination so they could sit on the toilet without pulling out their organs.

Johnny looked beautiful with that long straight hair and brown sparkling eyes. He had taken as much care with his toilette as Leslie. At times like these, when they were alone and so well-groomed, the temptation to have sex together was strong. But they each had dates tonight. Johnny was going out with Michael again. To someplace casual, it seemed--the other boy dropped a simple yellow summer frock over his head, adjusted it, and came over to Leslie for help with the zipper. The color flattered his tan.

Johnny asked, "Are you gonna do it?"

"Maybe." Leslie blushed.

"You should. How long have you been going with the guy, two months? It's about time. It's not like he doesn't know about you."

"He might lose respect for me."

"You're just saying that because you're shy. The guy saw you that day in Chard's Lake Park. You don't have any secrets from him, but he still wants to make love to you."

"He's a man."

"Sure." Johnny frowned thoughtfully. His expression cleared and a look of amusement came into his eyes. "You're not still all hung up about the perversity of it all! You didn't mind doing it with me."

"That's different."

"Oh Leslie, you're just so--" He drew a rectangular shape in the air with his fingers. "Square! Be practical. Like me with Michael. With your figure, the only way you're gonna get any nookie is if you put out for a man."

Leslie burst into laughter. "All right. All right! Maybe."

"Did you douche?"

That was what Johnny called the enema he used to cleanse himself back there.

"Yes," Leslie admitted.

"Vaginal jelly?"

"Yes."

"You will."

"But suppose he gets turned off? He's not gay like Michael, you know."

"He's probably bi or something."

"What if he dumps me after? I couldn't stand that."

"Leslie, if he's ever going to dump you, it might as well be now, before you tie up any more time and emotion in him. Hey, think positive. He'll be crazy about you."

Leslie smiled. Johnny was always so cheerful and supportive.

"Maybe. Are you going to stay overnight with Michael or come back here?"

"Back here. I want to hear everything. Besides, we're going to the Landons, and you know Michael, he'll go out to the studio with Jack to look at his paintings, and when he comes back he won't be good for anything."

They laughed.

"Doesn't it make you jealous?"

"No. I don't have any illusions about Michael, or him about me." Johnny's face clouded. "It would be nice, though, to just be with one person."

"Who?"

"Nobody in particular. I'll tell you one thing, though." His voice regained its cheerfulness. "I wouldn't mind making out with Jack Landon. He's handsome, and talk about bi's! Married to a beautiful girl, but he still has time for Michael on the side."

It would never happen. That was the trouble with being what they were, neither fish nor fowl, neither boy nor girl. They had to keep their secret from men, which precluded anything more than a casual relationship. Unless the man was gay like Michael. Or willing to "experiment" like Mel appeared to be. Joanie was right about Jack Landon, though. Leslie had seen him when he came over to paint his mother's and Mrs. Argentina's portrait. He was good-looking. He gave off an aura of vigorous, healthy manliness: it was hard to picture him with Michael.

Leslie chose a royal blue off-the-shoulder cocktail dress from the closet. It would lend additional color to his eyes, giving their gray a purple tone.

"Does his wife know?"

"I dunno. Sometimes I think so, other times not. She's so busy with the babies, maybe she doesn't notice."

Leslie forced his feet into a pair of patent-leather pumps a size too small.

"Poor girl."

"No, she's all right. It's easy to see he thinks the sun rises and sets in her, and they're really happy together. Even if she found out she'd forgive him. Michael's probably just, like, a different experience. Artists are all nuts anyway."

"She's young, isn't she?"

"Yeah. She was fifteen when we first met and she was about to have her first baby, so she's what, only seventeen now."

"Just a kid. Too young to be married and have a family. There's something nice about it, though," Leslie said wistfully.

"You've never seen their house, have you? I'll tell you what, one of these days come with me for lunch. Jack'll probably be working, but Suzie's awfully nice. You'll like her."

Leslie had avoided meeting Johnny's friends, and only now gained an insight into why.

It was because the Landons had the kind of life that Leslie longed for and could never have. He could never be married and have children-- unless he went back to Dr. Goody and resumed the role of a male. But he wouldn't look right, he'd be too small and slender, and by now he wouldn't know how to act. Besides, he liked the way he looked. He wasn't going to change back. If only he were a real girl. He'd miss having a prick, but he'd be able to have babies, and he wouldn't have to avoid intimacies with men.

It saddened him. But it was silly to resent the Landons because they were happy. The next time Johnny went over, he'd go too.

"Okay. I'd like to at last. Why have you been keeping her from me?"

Johnny burst out laughing.

Angie knocked and said, "Miss Leslie, Mr. Woi--Woi--"

"Woicyk. Woy-Chick," Leslie smiled.

Angie could never pronounce Mel's name. She was a plump dark-haired woman with friendly eyes. His mother made her wear a French maid's uniform, a short-skirted black dress with white-lace collar, cuffs, and apron. A little lace cap perched on her head, and her stockings were black nylon net.

"Tell him I'll be right down."

Leslie took a last look in the mirror, butterflies in his stomach, and picked up his purse. When he saw Johnny looking at him solemnly, his cheeks got hot.

"Snip."

Chapter 5

Because the evening was so warm Jack and Suzie had set up a dinner table on the "patio," an area by the stream that Jack had paved with flat stones. It was lovely, Johnny thought, fresh and clean under the trees, with the water musical in front of them.

Michael was in rare form, entertaining and amusing through dinner. It was interesting to notice how he always came alive in Jack's company. He looked handsome this evening, neatly dressed in slacks and a sport shirt, dark eyes sparkling.

Jack looked good, too, but then Jack always looked good to him. Good enough to eat, Johnny thought pinkly. He was dressed in blue jeans, worn but spotlessly clean--Suzie took good care of him--and they were tight enough so the crotch kept luring Johnny's eye.

Suzie was winsome and pretty in a form-fitting sleeveless blue mini- dress with a white collar. The color of the dress enriched the blue of her eyes. Her light-brown hair was pulled up in a ponytail, which made her look about fourteen.

By the time dinner was over, dusk had fallen. Jack turned a switch in a bush; the area lit up.

"Hey," Johnny said, "All the comforts of home!"

"Like it? I just finished putting the lamps in today. Looks nice, doesn't it? Come over here."

They looked where Jack was pointing. The patio was situated at a bend of the stream which had been deepened to make a swimming hole. Underwater lights cast illumination over the stream bed.

"It's beautiful! How clever you are. Oh, look, a fish." They watched the silver creature flick back and forth, apparently not sure whether it was night or day, until a faint cry came from a loudspeaker concealed in a rose bush.

Suzie said, "There's Bobby. Time for his supper." She went up to the house and brought him back with her, cooing.

Johnny relaxed in a lawn chair and watched her pull open her dress to feed little Bobby. They had all been friends almost three years: she was more casual about nursing the child in front of them than she had been with Lucy, but he noticed she was still careful not to expose more tit than was necessary.

He tugged the top of his dress away from his skin. He was sticky with perspiration. It would be nice if a cool breeze blew up. There wasn't much chance of it, though. The night, which was loud with the shrill music of crickets, was going to stay warm.

The baby didn't seem to mind. He was suckling vigorously, a blissful expression on his little round face, making enormous amounts of slobbering, lip-smacking noises. There really was a difference between boys and girls. Lucy had always been quiet and dainty about her feeding, Johnny remembered.

When Suzie put her finger in the corner of the baby's mouth to break the suction and switched him to the other breast, he got a comical surprised look and urgently engulfed the new nipple. Johnny laughed.

Suzie sparkled, "He's a very oral child. He takes after his father."

Jack grinned. "His mother, too."

A secret look passed between them.

Johnny wondered what that meant. He thought Suzie probably knew about Jack and Michael and had been referring to it; but maybe they were just alluding to what they did together after the lights were out. They were a challenge. It was hard to imagine them doing anything offbeat in bed, they were so "normal," but then there was the thing with Michael, and if Suzie could accommodate her husband's straying--with another man, at that!--with such apparent complacency, maybe there was more to them than met the eye. But then maybe Suzie didn't know.

The baby had fallen asleep, milk-smeared mouth open, lolling head cradled in the crook of Suzie's arm.

"Two down," she said. "I'll put this one in the crib and relax until the two a.m. feeding."

Jack said, "You're a good mommy."

"You don't know how nice it is to have them both asleep at the same time. It feels so free. At last I can devote all my attention to our guests. And you," she smiled.

"Think what it'll be like when there are three of them."

"Oh, ick. Don't remind me. No, I'm kidding, I'll love it. Children are so, I don't know, rewarding."

"Whoa," Johnny said. "Three of them? Are you preggie?"

Again that private look between them. Suzie's face was pink as she said, "We're not sure yet, but we're sure trying."

"That's wonderful. What do you want it to be?"

"A child," Suzie grinned.

Laughing, Johnny said, "I'll come up to the house with you. We need more ice for the Cokes."

He held his skirt away from his body and swished it about to cool his wet thighs before following Suzie.

"I'll be right with you," he said when they got to the house. "I have to use the little girls' room."

One of the men had left the toilet seat up and he had to put it down to sit. It reminded him of when he had first come home from Dr. Goody's sanatorium. Back then he had always removed his penis from the skin enclosure to urinate. Pissing inside himself, only belatedly feeling the urine issue from the little hole in the middle of his crotch, made him uncomfortable. He had felt smelly and unpleasantly wet, and when he had to do it, for example in a public rest room, as soon as he got home he used a douche bag as a fountain to wash himself out. As time went by, however, he took to sitting, even at home. The hot wetness left inside began to seem agreeable instead of the reverse; now he waited to wash until he took a bath or shower, unless he was going to be with Michael.

He wiped himself and rejoined Suzie in the kitchen.

"What was all that about being oral?"

Suzie blushed. "Oh, nothing. I was just being a smarty-pants." She changed the subject. "You said before you wanted to bring Leslie Chard over for lunch?"

"I thought it was about time she met you. After all, you're both my best friends." Johnny removed the ice trays from the freezer.

"Good. I was beginning to think Jack had done something to put her off when he was over there painting your mothers."

"No, nothing like that. She's a little, well, shy about getting to know new people. Until she met Mel--that's her boyfriend--she hadn't even dated for ages. Something happened when she was younger and it turned her off men."

"What?"

Johnny hesitated. "I better not say anything, she can tell you herself if she wants. I wonder how she's doing. She has a date with Mel tonight. I think she's going to let him do it."

"Do it?"

"You know."

"Oh, dear. She can't be as turned off as all that."

"Let's hope. Anyway, I know you'll like each other. She's nice."

"I'm dying of curiosity. When can you make it? I want to meet this mystery girl."

"I shouldn't have said anything." He looked at her appraisingly. "If I tell you, will you promise not to breathe a word?"

"Cross my heart."

"She'd kill me. But I guess . . . if everything goes okay tonight she'll be over it--and if it doesn't . . . well, she'll need understanding friends that she can talk to. She was raped."

"Oh, the poor girl. I won't say a word. I know how it is."

"You do?"

"Yes."

It was clear that was all she was going to say on the subject, but Johnny made up his mind to ask her about it some other time.

He held the ice cubes under running water and broke them into the bucket. "There. Let's see what the men are up to."

She surprised him into laughter by saying, "Nothing oral, I hope."

Jack and Michael were standing on the bank, looking into the clear waters of the creek. Michael turned as they came up. "We're just thinking about skinny-dipping to cool off. You girls want to?"

Skinny-dipping? Johnny shot a look at Suzie.

A deep flush mantled her cheeks. Her voice trembled. "No, not me. I'm just going to rest."

Her face was furious.

Johnny watched her curiously as she glared at Jack, who refused to meet her eye.

Couldn't she see they were teasing? Why was she so upset? Tired, probably.

There was a challenge in her voice as she said, "You go if you want to."

Johnny chimed in, "Sure, you guys go."

Michael said, "It would be cool."

Jack grinned. "I dare you."

"In front of--?"

"If they haven't seen it before they won't know what it is. If they have, it doesn't matter."

Even Suzie added her reluctant smile to their laughter.

"No, really, you mean it?" Michael said. "I will if you will."

Like a pair of little boys, Johnny thought.

"You first."

"No you."

"Both of us."

Michael unbuttoned his shirt and took it off, daring Jack to imitate him. His torso was straight and slender and almost hairless. Johnny thought he was good-looking. He could see Suzie thought so too. Her eyes devoured him. He watched to see if Jack would follow Michael's lead. He hoped so. He wanted to see Suzie's husband without clothes.

Jack hesitated. With a sheepish glance at Suzie and Johnny he pulled his shirt off. He was trying to control a mischievous grin; it kept coming and going. Gosh, he was well-built. His muscles were light but well-defined: he gave the impression of great strength. The hair on his chest was thick. It traveled in a line down his lean ridged belly, disappearing without break into his jeans. Jack took off his loafers and socks, and stood with hand on belt buckle, grin widening.

Johnny found his own lips responding happily. Suzie was smiling too, watching the men with a motherly what-will-they-do-next expression. She seemed to have forgotten her momentary snit.

Michael burst out laughing. "You really would. All right, I can take a dare."

He stripped off the rest of his clothes and stood naked as a peach in front of them. His penis was half-swollen, still flaccid but on the border of an erection. It was easy to see that displaying himself like this excited him.

A motion at the corner of Johnny's eye drew his glance to Suzie. She was holding the join of her legs through her dress, staring at Michael, mouth parted. She probably hadn't seen all that many men before. Well, she was just a kid, after all.

Then a sweaty warmth and a feeling of distention in his crotch warned him he wasn't exempt from feelings of sexual excitement either. His cock was swelling in the skin "holster" between his legs. He squeezed his eyes shut and mentally began to recite the most boring poem he knew, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, to diminish his prurience. It didn't work.

He had to do something. An erection "inside" would be excruciating. The men weren't looking at him; a surreptitious glance to the side told him Suzie was so intent on Michael's genitals that she would see nothing.

As casually as he could he turned away and reached under his skirt to yank his piss-wet organ out of its place of concealment and secure it against his belly with the elastic waistband of his panties.

Just in time.

Jack unbuckled his belt, zipped down his fly, and in what seemed one fluid motion took off his jeans and boxer shorts simultaneously.

Johnny gasped. Why, the man was hung like a horse. Michael had said it was big, but Johnny was totally unprepared for the actuality. The cock dangled fat and long and hooded over balls that looked as big as hen's eggs. No wonder Suzie got pregnant every time she turned around.

Johnny's penis stiffened violently against his tummy. He stared, forgetting himself, feasting his eyes, electrified by the sight of the man's oversize genitals, wishing he could touch them, caught in a fever of desire so prurient that he had to close his eyes momentarily. He controlled his breathing and opened them again in time to see Jack's balls sway heavily as he turned to the water. There was a man for you. Beside him Michael looked like a boy.

Suzie seemed to be fascinated with Michael, though. He guessed everybody had the need for a little variety, even if only in the imagination.

Jack said, "Last one in is a little old lady."

The two splashes were concurrent. Johnny flinched as cold droplets spotted the yellow dress.

Suzie was still smiling.

Johnny said shyly, "Your husband is huge!"

"Michael's not bad either."

"He's not even in the same class."

"It's not how big it is . . ."

"I know. I didn't mean that. Michael's taller than Jack but he's just a kid compared with him. All those muscles and fur! I bet Jack's nice and warm in the winter."

Suzie laughed. "He is special. But Michael's cute, too. Very, you know, sexy-looking."

She was barking up the wrong tree, Johnny thought wryly. Michael was sexy, but she would never know. Ever since Michael was a teen-ager he had been exclusively gay.

"Suzie?"

"Mm?" She was watching the men frolic in the water like children.

"Do you know about Michael?"

Suzie turned. Johnny dropped his eyes before her level, clear gaze.

She said, "Him and Jack? Yes. Jack told me."

"He told you?"

"Long ago."

"But--" Johnny couldn't think of what to say. "Most women would be furious!"

Suzie grinned. "That's what I thought about you when Jack first told me. I knew you knew--it was your wink that tipped me off-- and I wondered. But to answer your question, No. Sometimes I get a little jealous because it's exciting to think about and I wish I could be with them. When we're in bed I ask him all about it, what they did together and all, and then we make love." She laughed.

"Gosh," Johnny said. "You keep surprising me. Most women would worry about their husband being gay."

"He's not. He's bisexual . . . like Michael, I guess. Does the, um, situation bother you?"

"Michael and I are just friends. I mean, we go to bed together and all, but if he wants to, well, experiment with someone else, it's okay. Our relationship is just, kind of, convenient, you know? It's best this way, no getting all tied up emotionally."

"Poor Joanie."

"Why poor?"

"It's so wonderful being in love. You'll know someday."

This kid was making him feel like their ages were reversed; he was the child and she was the adult.

"Why were you mad before?"

"When?"

"When they mentioned skinny-dipping."

"Oh, that. Jack knows I don't like to get undressed in front of other people. I'm too modest, I guess--" She broke off. "Oh dear. Talk about the men fooling around."

Johnny followed her stare. They were standing up to their thighs in water on the edge of the light thrown by the patio lamps, silhouetted against the darkness beyond. Michael was fully erect, cock pointing straight at Jack. Before Johnny's eyes, Jack's gargantuan member swelled upright, foreskin slipping back until it formed a ring behind the head, which was engorged and shiny.

With one accord the men waded out of the circle of light into deeper water, concealing their boners, and stood facing each other, balancing in the dark current that swirled around them.

Suzie said, "Are they doing what I think they're doing?"

A slight motion of their upper arms gave a hint of what their hands were up to.

He saw Suzie clutch at her midsection again. She was a sensual girl, no doubt about it. He wondered if she were having an orgasm. For a moment he wished things were different, that somehow he could have sex with her. He looked back at Jack and Michael. Their faces, barely visible in the dimness, were blank with passion; the movement of their arms more pronounced than before. He pictured the pulling at the shaft, the mutual caressing of balls.

It didn't last long. Johnny could see the moment Michael came, and a few seconds after that, the stiffening of Jack's back that revealed his ejaculation. If there were any fish eggs anywhere downstream they'd be fertile in the morning.

He and Suzie looked at each other.

Johnny said, "That Michael. I just can't take him anywhere."

Chapter 6

Leslie let Mel usher him across the main dining room of the Mariposa Hotel on the heels of the maitre d'. He felt on display in the elegant room and kept his back straight, conscious of Mel's light touch on his waist. He smiled graciously at old Mrs. Branch, one of his mother's acquaintances, as they passed her table, and again at Mr. Millikan, who had been his social studies teacher in high school.

The room was spacious, lit by crystal chandeliers which sparkled coolly. White damask covered each table, and a single red rose offered an accent of color to the setting. The waiters, in black tie, moved urbanely, serving with professional aplomb.

It was enchanting, but the maitre d' led them through an arched doorway to a dimly-lit room and smiled. "The Intime Room, sir. Better than the main dining room," he said confidentially, "when one is enjoying the company of a lovely young lady. Motch better. The other serves well enough for the, ah, older crowd. Annie," he nodded to a hostess who seemed about to fall out of her brief costume, "will take care of you."

"Hi Mel! It's about time you came to see us." To Leslie, "What a pretty dress. You look too good for this old flatfoot. Right this way, I'll give you two our best table."

"Hi, Mel!" a pretty red-haired waitress smiled as they passed.

As soon as Annie seated them, a scintillating brunette danced up to the table. She was barely dressed in the restaurant's uniform. The skirt was so brief Leslie could see she was wearing only a G-string under it. Her breasts seemed about to pop from the scant bodice. They were big enough to make him jealous.

"Hi, Mel! To what do we owe this pleasure?"

Mel said with a grin, "Just keeping an eye on you girls."

"Oh, you. Always working." She turned to Leslie. "I'm Cindy, your waitress. Can I get you folks something?"

Leslie ordered a salad. It was the least expensive thing on the menu. He appreciated Mel taking him to the Intime Room, but he was pretty sure Mel's salary as a detective lieutenant wasn't generous enough to make paying these prices easy.

He saw an attractive blonde girl in a black cocktail frock a few tables away catch Mel's eye and give him a smile and a cute wave of her hand before turning back to her dinner companion.

"You must come here often."

"Huh? No, never."

"Everybody seems to know you."

"They do. But not from here. I suppose I shouldn't tell you this, but those girls used to be pros. You know, hookers. When I was on Vice we had to pick up the young ones. This is a quiet town and as long as things stay quiet and more or less decent we close our eyes to a lot of stuff. But when teen-agers start selling it, we have to do something. These girls were okay, just a little confused and down on their luck, so after a while, you know, after busting them a couple of times, I gave them hell, told them I'd toss them in the slammer and throw away the key unless they knocked it off. Then I got them jobs here and told them to keep their noses clean. So far they have."

"That was nice of you." Leslie put his manicured hand on Mel's.

"Had to do something."

"Did you ever--? No."

"What?"

"Nothing. It's none of my business."

"Come on."

"Did you, did you do it with them?"

"Do what? Oh, I get it. No!"

"I'm glad. Why not? You could've."

Mel shifted uncomfortably. "I guess so. I just didn't want to."

Leslie changed the subject. "What about her?" He indicated the blonde with his eyes. "She's not working here."

Mel colored. "Her? She's a guest at the hotel, I think. Well . . . Yeah, I know her. She does work here, kind of. She's a hooker too. But she keeps a lid on it, so we leave her alone." He gave Leslie a measuring look, as if trying to make up his mind to be frank. "See, she, uh, she's kind of like you. It keeps some of the guests from making trouble in town if they can go with her. So we don't do anything. Why would we? She's not bothering nobody."

"Like me?"

"Yeah. I mean--" Mel blushed furiously. "I mean, you know, she's really a boy."

It was the first time Mel had expressed his knowledge of Leslie's gender openly, and it made Leslie blush too. He couldn't help staring at the blonde. He would like to meet her. Other than Johnny she, he, was the first transvestite he'd ever encountered. She was really pretty in that black shantung cocktail frock with the frothy white petticoats.

Red-faced, Mel was saying, ". . . I never asked you. How come you dress like that? I mean, you're beautiful, you're the most beautiful thing I ever saw, but, well, I mean--how come?"

Leslie dropped his eyes. The room was suddenly too hot. He took a hanky from his purse to dab at his upper lip as he tried to think what to say.

"It's a long story. When I was just a kid my mom thought I was getting too unruly, so she made me wear a dress around the house to punish me and teach me to be more, well, refined. Then when she saw me dressed like that, she liked it, she said she always wanted a daughter, and she wanted me to keep on doing it." Leslie remembered how rewarding she had made it. "Then we moved up here and she registered me in high school as a girl. She made me go to the doctor so nobody could tell."

"A doctor? What, did he--cut you? No, I remember, he didn't." Mel had seen him naked in the park that day. "You mean up there, right?" His gesture took in Leslie's breasts.

Leslie peeped up at him through his eyelashes. "Yes. Anyway, after a while it was nice. It was kind of like I was fooling everybody. Well, I was. For the first time I had a secret that made me special. I liked pretending to be a girl. It was, well, sexy, I guess. Daring. Does that sound crazy?"

"No. In my line of work you see all kinds of things. Some really crazy, like hurting people, violence, you know. The way I figure, if you ain't hurting anybody, anything goes. Whatever turns you on."

"You're so understanding. I like you," Leslie said.

"I like you too."

Mel held his hand gently until the waitress, with a teasing smile, served their coffee. He asked for the check and said, "I was thinking. Instead of going to the movies we could go over to my place and talk some more. I mean, if you wanted," he finished lamely.

Leslie's heart began to race. This was it. He knew better than to think all Mel had in mind was talking. All right. Mel knew about him. If he wanted to fool around anyway, Leslie wanted it too.

It was wrong. Shameful even to consider having sex with a man. Johnny did it, but, well, Johnny was Johnny. His friend had begun having homosexual relations with Michael way back in high school and was still doing it. But not Leslie. Not exactly, anyway--he and Johnny had sex together in the days before Michael, but that was no more than lots of kids in adolescence did.

And sometimes even yet, if their needs coincided, Johnny would let Leslie put it in him; but that wasn't like doing it with a man. Johnny was far too feminine.

After all these years of pretense, however, some female attitudes about men must have worn off on him. The idea of intimacy with a man was less shocking. Instead, he had begun to be curious about it, and when he masturbated, the fantasies he called up had to do with giving himself to men.

As soon as he could be sure of controlling his voice he said simply, "I'd like that."

He knew now what it must feel like to make a parachute jump for the first time. You couldn't step back into the plane. Once committed, that was it. Either the chute would open or it wouldn't. In the meantime your stomach lifted vertiginously and your brain went dizzy with terror as you hurtled to meet your fate.

It would be nice to go on dating Mel safely, but Joanie was right--a relationship had to go somewhere, it couldn't stay in one place.

The big question, he thought as Mel led him to the car and held the door for him, was Mel's intentions. Not for this evening--he had a pretty good idea what the other man had in mind--but for the future. Did Mel see him as some kind of freak, and this was just an experimental kick? Or was he gay like Joanie's boyfriend Michael? He could hardly believe it. Definitely not like Michael, anyway. If you looked closely, something about Michael told you he was gay. But Mel had none of those signs.

Leslie's experience with the football team had left him with a deep- seated anxiety. He was prey to his own imagination. Some people thought a boy dressed like a girl was fair game for any kind of sadistic abuse. Could Mel be one of those?

On the other hand, what with Joanie's preoccupation with Michael, Leslie hadn't had any sex except by his own hand for a long time. He found himself irresistibly drawn to Mel, and hoped with all his heart the evening wouldn't turn out badly.

They seemed to have run out of conversation as Mel drove through the summer dark, lit rhythmically by street lights. A breeze made by the car's passage touched Leslie's hair through the open window. He kept glancing at Mel out of the corner of his eye. The man's face was relaxed and free of care, concentrating on his driving. So handsome. Leslie would be aroused if he weren't so uneasy.

His heart began pounding hard enough to jiggle his breasts when Mel parked under a tree in front of a pleasant-looking three-story brownstone and guided him down the entrance hall to an apartment at the rear of the building.

Mel said, "Here we are. Make yourself at home. Want a drink? I could use one."

There was a note in his voice that made Leslie realize Mel was as nervous as he was. His heart went out to him.

He smiled, "I'd love one."

"I'll be right back." Mel disappeared into the kitchen.

The apartment was reassuring. Nobody bizarre lived here. It was furnished comfortably, with no extremes of style. Leslie hadn't known what to expect from a bachelor in his late twenties. He was glad it wasn't one of those dramatic modern places that seemed so popular these days. No mirrors on the ceiling, no unintelligible sculptures, no illustrated books on the coffee table--just a comfortable-looking couch facing a television set, and a few overstuffed chairs. The living-room windows opened to a garden in back.

A painting on the wall caught his eye. He thought he recognized the artist from the style. Joan's friend, Jack Landon. It was a picture of the corner of a vegetable garden just before twilight, though how he knew it was before twilight and not after dawn, he couldn't say. The plants looked fruitful, luscious, sensuous, though at no time did the artist depart from strict reality--or reality as he saw it. There was a small creature peeping out from under a cabbage leaf, a seeming afterthought until he realized his eye was irresistibly and repeatedly drawn to that spot, and understood finally that in some mysterious way it was the focal point of the painting. The thing was precisely drawn, or gave that impression, but the light and shade and color surrounding it were so confusing Leslie couldn't tell what it was, no matter how close he got. Sometimes it looked like a delicate, winged, mischievous sprite; sometimes like a timorous woods creature. Or maybe it was just a rock.

He turned when Mel said, "Like it? It's by a young guy named Landon who lives right here in town. The gallery owner gave me a good deal when I helped him out with a problem. Here. Hope you like martinis." He held out a frosted glass.

"Yum. Just what I needed," Leslie smiled. "It's a beautiful picture. What is that thing under the cabbage leaf?"

"I never been able to figure it out. It makes me feel like sometimes when I walk past a dark alley and I know somebody's watching me go by, waiting until I'm gone before doing something illegal, and I don't know who it is or what he's going to do. But I like it."

It was an insight into a policeman's life, Leslie thought. He saw elves; Mel saw criminals. He sipped his martini, feeling it burn down to his stomach.

Mel asked, "Want to watch some TV? It's nine o'clock, there's bound to be something on."

"Oh, let's not! Let's just be together."

"Okay. Wait a minute, I'll put on some music." Mel fiddled with the stereo until the strains of an orchestra flowed into the room. He held out his hand. "Dance?"

Leslie moved into his arms and thrilled at the touch of Mel's hand on his waist. He was glad he had let Johnny talk him into taking dancing lessons during their high-school days.

Mel was a good dancer, easy to follow.

In a few minutes the man was holding him close, and Leslie could feel a rigid lump against his tummy. It felt big. He didn't back away; he let himself rub against it in rhythm to the music, floating gently in Mel's arms, losing himself in the dance and the secure, exciting feeling of being held by a man, yet wholly mindful of Mel's hand slipping down from his waist to cup his ass. He put his face up, inviting a kiss, and when Mel's mouth closed on his and the man's tongue insinuated itself between his lips, his heart sprinted and a wave of sexual desire crashed down on him, crushing in its weight.

It was a catastrophe. His penis burst into full erection, but was held tightly between his legs by the skin of the "holster" Dr. Goody had formed in his crotch, and couldn't straighten up. It was agony. Instinctively he closed his thighs on it, letting the movement of their dance massage it until sperm erupted in the enclosure and dribbled out the aperture in the rear of it, soaking his panties.

He broke the kiss, palpitating, a sigh of relief shuddering from his throat as his prick began to soften. A small involuntary groan of disappointment followed. He had wanted to wait until--if--Mel made love to him. He couldn't understand what happened. It had been so fast, so violent, so intense, so totally beyond his control.

Mel said huskily, "Let's go in the other room and lay on the bed."

Leslie couldn't speak. He nodded his head against Mel's chest.

In the bedroom Mel held him close and kissed him again, but this time the man fumbled with the little hook that held the top of his frock together, and a moment later, he felt the downward slide of the zipper. He shivered when Mel's hands moved over his bare back, coming around to the front of his waist, forcing the dress away from his body, letting the top fall, holding his naked breasts gently.

Mel stepped back. His eyes were fastened on the tits he was cupping in his hands.

"You're beautiful," he said. "So beautiful."

Vision blurred with excitement, but every sensory nerve in his body alive, Leslie felt him move forward again and put his mouth on the corner of Leslie's, making it tickle in a way that caused sensation to zigzag down to his genitals like a lightning bolt. The mouth moved down to his jaw, then his ear, then the side of his neck. Leslie's skin prickled. His knees shook.

He was panting in shallow gasps when Mel lowered his head and tenderly kissed each sensitive nipple.

"Oh, wait. You'll--"

"Doesn't it feel good?"

"Oh, yes! But it's-- I have to take prolactin to keep them like that." Leslie felt his whole body turn red.

"Prolactin? What's that?"

"It's a hormone. It makes your breasts produce milk."

Mel was silent a moment. Leslie had time to turn a deeper red and curse himself for talking about this private stuff, before Mel said excitedly, "Milk! You have milk? Real milk? Mother's milk, like?"

"Yes."

"Does it hurt to, uh, be milked?"

"Oh, no! It feels good."

"Why don't you want me to?"

"I was shy. I thought you might not like it."

For answer Mel bent forward again and surrounded his nipple with his lips. A strong suction began, causing the nipple to thrum with a gush of liquid.

"Ouch! Take baby sips."

Mel straightened and swallowed, a bashful smile on his lips, bliss flickering in his eyes. "Let's take these clothes off and get in bed."

Leslie had never seen a man unbutton a shirt just by tearing it apart. He expected to see buttons fly. He sat on the bed and pulled off his shoes, then reached under his dress to release his stockings from the garters and slip them down his legs.

Mel was already down to his boxer shorts. They were being held out in front.

Leslie's heart beat. Soon he would see Mel's cock. He slid off his panties and put his knees together to let them float to his ankles. Still discreetly covered, he managed to unfasten his garter belt. He took a deep breath. Under his dress he was now as naked as the day he was born. He stood up trembling and pulled the royal-blue dress over his head. An attack of modesty seized him; he started to turn down the bedclothes to give his hands something to do.

Mel said, "Hey, he did cut you."

"Huh?"

"The doctor. He operated on your--"

Leslie was so used to his disguise that it took a moment for him to understand what Mel meant. "Oh. No he didn't," he said shyly. "It's just, uh, concealed. So people can't tell."

"I can't tell. You look exactly like a girl. I mean, lips down there and all. Are you sure?"

"Of course. The doctor made a kind of holster for it." Leslie tried a smile. He was sure his mouth was pale under his makeup. "He said I'd be like James Bond with a secret weapon."

"Gosh. Does it come out?"

Leslie's fingers trembled as he pried the limp organ out of its skin container.

Mel said ingenuously, "That's neat. That's really something. Can I see? Hey, it's all wet. How come?"

"I had an accident before. When you were kissing me."

Mel thought it over. "Really? Just from kissing? Wow. You're really something."

Leslie touched the man's shorts where a spot of moisture was showing. "It's not fair. I showed you, you have to show me." He pulled the snaps apart and held the erection. It felt hot. It was beautiful, larger than his own, all white and pink with a meat-colored head, foreskin bunched behind it. It had an upward bend.

Mel choked, "Let's get on the bed."

They lay together, naked skin pressed against naked skin. Mel's cock was poking his stomach insistently. He squirmed when the man kissed him; held his head when it went lower and tenderly nursed on his breasts, depleting them slowly, steadily. The feeling shot to the pit of his belly; his prick grew warm and swelled and rubbed against Mel's.

Mel whispered, "You're up again. I'm glad. What'll we do?"

"A-anything. Anything you want."

"Can I put it in you?"

"Oh, yes, darling, I want you to."

Leslie let Mel roll him over, wishing the man would take him from in front so they could kiss, but too shy to suggest it; anxious to feel that hot cock penetrate him either way. He let himself think, Next time. He had lubricated his hole at home, not sure it would be needed, but it was even slicker now. His own semen had leaked on it from the skin pocket.

Mel's weight settled on him. The hard cock poked between his legs. He reached back to spread his cheeks, then held the rigid shaft and guided it to the tight opening. He trembled when he felt the demanding pressure against the slippery hole.

The organ pushed in slowly. Oh God, it was going to be too big for him to take! Leslie gritted his teeth and stifled a moan. With deliberate intent he relaxed his asshole, feeling it quake capriciously, seizing the hot prick weakly, letting go, clamping down painfully, releasing it again to let it intrude.

When the head was past the muscle, when Leslie knew he had truly been penetrated, he had a feeling of joyous surrender.

Leslie was being fucked at last, not in terror like with the football team so many years ago, but affectionately, erotically, by the man he-- now he could admit it--by the man he loved. He lifted his ass, making the insertion deeper, giving himself to Mel. The man's pubic hair was soft on his ass; his balls swung against his crotch.

Tears spouted from his eyes and he gritted his teeth as the man stroked regularly, slowly, in and out. This was the way it should be. If he was going to impersonate a girl, then he should have sex like a girl, with a man on him, possessing him. Not like with Johnny, sticking his own prick into the other boy. And not like with his mother or that long- ago Alice, his cock inside their wet cunts.

It had been the football team that had taught him how it should be. They had been the first to use him like a woman, completing the long transition from self-determined, heedless boy to submissive "girl," and against his will he had responded erotically. In years afterward he dreamed of being taken again by a man.

He pressed his face into the pillow to mask his moans each time Mel drew back and the gasping expulsion of air from his lungs as the man shoved forward. His asshole was stretched agonizingly, but it was an ecstatic agony. A certain sensitive spot just in front of his rectum was becoming stimulated by the sexy pistoning of the big prick; a throbbing tremor began inside him.

His own penis had gone limp with the stress of accepting Mel's organ, but as the man's rhythm quickened, Leslie felt his genitals gather in rapturous tension. It was a helpless feeling. He had no control. Mel was the one in control, stimulating his body willy-nilly. His own prick's limpness made it more poignant--the gathering titillation was divorced from the penis itself, taking place only in his most private internal recesses.

Mel's hands reached under him to cup his breasts, wedging his nipples between spread fingers, pinching them gently. Ecstasy shot to his groin. Leslie raised his head and cried out. Semen flowed from his flaccid penis, not in strong pulses but in a single unbearable leak.

Mel rammed in suddenly, causing the breath to be ejected from Leslie's lungs in a violent exhalation. The big cock jumped. Hot liquid spurted.

Leslie's whole body went taut. He squealed aloud in rapture.

A timeless moment later the man slumped, breathing hoarsely in his ear. Leslie welcomed the weight, the warmth, of the man's body on his, feeling the cock begin to soften and uncontrollable spasms of his asshole squeezing it. He would like to keep Mel in him forever, but his incorrigible anus massaged the sex organ, gradually ejecting it, until it fell out and rested heavily against his crotch.

Mel rolled off, arm across his eyes.

This was the moment of truth.

What would Mel's reaction be? Coldness? Disgust? Now that he had used Leslie, would he dump him?

Mel gave a long, shaky sigh.

He dropped his arm from his eyes and turned toward Leslie.

"Wow," he said. "You're beautiful. That was the best thing that ever happened to me. Was it all right for you?"

Leslie's eyes filled again, this time with joy. He'd have to repair his mascara. "Oh, Mel, it was wonderful!"

The man swept him into a hug and kissed him before lying back on the pillow again.

Mel asked, "Did you ever do it before--except for that time?"

"No, never. Except--that time." Leslie wished it could be true, but Mel had been so wonderful that it was almost true. It had never been like this with Johnny. Of course, with Johnny it was always Leslie who was on top. That made all the difference.

"Me neither."

"You never did it before?"

"No."

Leslie couldn't believe that. "With anybody? Not just--somebody like me? You were a v-virgin?"

Mel's shy tone was unmistakably sincere. "Yes."

"Oh, Mel, I'm glad. But I don't understand. I mean, I couldn't have any boy friends because they'd find out about me," Leslie felt a blush creeping up his cheeks, "or any girl friends either, but you, you're handsome and eligible. It's not like you didn't have any opportunities. Why didn't you--? I don't get it."

His stretched asshole felt as if Mel were still inside him. He wished he were.

The man's voice was rusty. "I guess it's because--now, look, I never told anybody this before. I guess maybe I'm gay. I was always afraid to go out with girls when I was a kid, and then I began thinking about boys, but I was too ashamed to do anything about it. And then when I joined the cops, especially on Vice, I met a lot of faggots but they were really sad people I didn't want nothing to do with. I used to dream about it a lot, though. Doing what we did . . . and other things too, but I never thought I would.

"Until I met you again. Then I figured nobody knew about you, except your mom, I mean, and maybe you was gay too, and we could go out together and people would just think I was dating a girl. So I began to think, well, if you liked me, we could do something more. But I didn't really think you would. I mean, you're so classy and good-looking and you're wrong about guys, there are plenty of guys who would jump at the chance to be intimate with you. But we did. I can't get over it."

Leslie could only suspect what it had cost Mel to talk so openly, if incoherently, about himself. His heart melted.

"Mel?"

"Yeah?"

"You're the most wonderful man I ever met. I'd do anything in the world for you."

He was rewarded with another fierce hug. Leslie sensed an element of desperation in it, as though Mel were silently begging him never to repeat this conversation.

He was out of breath by the time Mel released him and had to wait to say, "Mel? What did you mean when you said a lot of men would want to be intimate with me? I thought only gay men would, but they don't like women, so they wouldn't like the way I look."

"Naw, listen. There are all kinds of people. If there's one thing I learned, it's that. I don't think there's any such thing as a pure 'gay,' anyway. Or a pure 'straight.' Only degrees of it. We see a lot of it in Chardsville, a lot more than in other towns our size, I guess because the word has gotten around that we don't hassle people if they don't make nuisances of themselves.

"Anyway, people range from, say, a straight guy who somebody pulled off when he was a young kid and never did it again because he was scared of how much he liked it, to guys that like both men and women equally, to guys that almost never have anything to do with women, but they can if they want. Remember that blonde girl in the restaurant? The one that's a guy? Lots of out-of-towners pay to have her go out with them and then roll in the hay with them back at the hotel. Straight-looking guys with wives and kids at home. That's what I mean."

"Oh."

"Hey, there's a tax accountant in town, I won't mention his name, nice-looking young guy, was married to a beautiful girl, and the way I hear it she got him to wear her dresses when they were at home. Turned out he enjoyed it so much he quit his job, changed his first name, and opened up his own office as a woman. Last I heard, they were living with two guys in the construction business in a big house they built on the south side of town. They also have a room for his sister-in-law when she comes to visit. I guess he's keeping her happy too. Or maybe the construction guys, I don't know. You see all kinds in Chardsville."

"Gosh." There were people like him all over. He felt less alone. Maybe someday he'd ask Mel if he could meet them.

"So that's what I meant. But I hope you won't begin looking around. I want you for myself."

"I won't. All I ever want is you. You make me so happy. And so does this." Leslie grasped the man's flaccid prick lovingly.

"What would your mother say? If she knew."

"Oh gosh, don't even ask. She wouldn't like it one bit. She thinks I'm still a little girl."

"You're twenty years old."

"You know how mothers are."

"I feel kind of guilty. She's been real nice to me."

"She's grateful to you for rescuing me that day in the park and then taking me straight home so nobody would know. She said you had 'great presence of mind.' Besides, she likes you. She told me you were the best policeman the town ever had, and we'd be lucky to keep you. We will keep you, won't we? You're not going to take a job in another town or anything?"

Mel laughed. "After tonight? Not likely. Anyway, I'm up for Chief of Detectives. I dunno if your mother had anything to do with it."

"Probably not. She said anything you ever got you earned. My mother!" Leslie sat up straight, breasts jouncing.

"What? Where?"

"What time is it? If I don't get home by one she'll have a fit!"

"Jeez, the way you jumped I thought she was walking through the door. We better hurry. It's twelve-thirty."

Leslie stood up and turned his back to stretch the opening of his scrotal sheath with thumb and forefinger and insert his penis. It was still wet and slippery inside; stuffing the organ in forced sperm out the aperture to drop stickily on the carpet between his legs. He pulled his panties on hastily and dressed, watching Mel step into his trousers. When the man's hanging cock was hidden from sight he had a pang of regret.

As they walked to the car Leslie winced and put his hand over his rear. "Ooh. It feels like you were still in me. I wish you were."

"I wish I was, too." Mel patted his ass familiarly.

Leslie freshened his lipstick in the car and made sure the ravages of the evening didn't show too much. Johnny would be full of questions. He wasn't sure he wanted to answer them, what had happened was too precious to talk about yet. He was on air with delight and wanted to hug it to himself.

Mel said, "I get off work at three tomorrow. If you wanted to wait we could have a late lunch together."

"Give me the key to your apartment. I'll have it ready for you."

Chapter 7

Please. Stop. Calling me," Helen said distinctly into the telephone mouthpiece.

It was exasperating how the man seemed to know when Howard wasn't home.

She underlined her rejection, "Do not call me any more, Mr. Turner. I'm a married woman and my husband is your business associate. Have you no shame?"

The wretch just couldn't take no for an answer.

In other circumstances Helen would be flattered to have made such an ardent conquest. She wasn't used to feeling desirable in men's eyes. There had been all those years when her husband had ignored her and she thought it was somehow her fault; but Dick Turner, though good-looking enough, she supposed, was such a sleaze.

When he invited them down to the hotel for dinner to celebrate the signing of the loan papers, she had been glad to go. Evenings out were rare enough, and she would be interested to meet Howard's new customer. Besides, she had never been in the Mariposa.

The evening had been dreadful. The man had apparently developed an instant letch for her. He kept putting his hand on her knee under the table, and when Howard wasn't looking, touched her breast "accidentally" while reaching for the salt or pepper or a roll or something.

Howard had excused himself to go to the men's room, and the beast put his arm around her waist, hand right on the lower part of her tummy, and nuzzled her ear. "Baby, I got the hots for you," he said, and tried to make her agree to see him in his hotel room the next day.

She wanted to slap him, but confined herself to grating, "Stop. Howard's coming," and he let her go. Since then he had called her twice with the same outrageous suggestion.

The voice at the other end of the line said, "See? You don't even know why I'm calling. It ain't what you think. It's about your husband, not you."

"Howard? What about Howard?"

"Well, see, I better not say anything over the phone. If you come down here, I'll tell you all about it."

"I'll do no such thing."

"Come on, what's the harm? I guarantee it's important. Your husband could be in real trouble."

Helen hesitated, a sinking feeling in her stomach. The voice held conviction. What had Howard gotten himself into now? They had an agreement that if he wanted to exercise his, um, special preferences, he would do so only in the city, where he wasn't known, not in Chardsville. Maybe she was jumping to conclusions, maybe it wasn't that at all, but she'd better find out.

"All right, I'll come. This better not be a trick," she warned.

"Meet me on the second-floor walkway in a half hour." The line went dead.

She was annoyed by his peremptory tone, but more irritated by the inconvenience. She wanted to go over to Suzie and Jack's this afternoon to tell them the good news. Her gynecologist had confirmed that she was six weeks pregnant.

Damn that Howard. He was a dear man in many ways, but she had to protect him from himself.

In the last couple of years their positions had become reversed. When they were first married he had been narrow-minded, petty, and authoritarian, typifying the male chauvinist pig women complained about. He expected her to serve his meals on time, take care of his house, and most important, do and say nothing that could possibly reflect adversely on the great president of the Chardsville First National Bank & Trust. Caesar's wife, above reproach.

Then he had admitted he was gay, at least to himself and his family, not to the outside world, of course, and everything had changed. She became the dominant one in their relationship; he, happily submissive. His personality got more relaxed, friendly and outgoing. He wanted people to like him now. Hiding his sexual propensities even from himself must have been a terrible strain on the poor man.

Life was easier, but there was a price to pay. Sometimes Helen had to look after him as if she were his mother.

She wheeled her car into the hotel parking lot. She had dressed severely in a navy skirt and white blouse with a ribbon tie. A bolero jacket completed the ensemble. She deliberately wore no makeup.

Her heels clicked as she walked to the hotel entrance. It was a glorious day, one of those bright end-of-September days before the leaves turn, when the air is fresh and cool and tastes like sparkling wine. She'd get this over with in a hurry and drive out to the farm. She crossed the lobby purposefully and went to the stairs.

He was waiting for her at the top.

His dark eyes were liquid as they moved over her body. "Hey, you're even more beautiful than I remembered."

"Never mind that, Mr. Turner. You got me down here to tell me about some kind of trouble with Mr. Myers. What is it?"

He didn't seem to notice the ice in her tone. "Call me Dick, okay? Come on, this way."

She let herself be led to a door that had "Utility" stenciled on it. He opened the door and turned.

"Okay, I think we're right on time, maybe a little early. No talking now. If you gotta say something, whisper."

As she hesitated, he took a firm grip on her upper arm and guided her inside. Her skin crawled.

At first it appeared to be no more than a dark closet and she was about to turn and run out, but as they rounded a baffle Helen saw the room was long and narrow, flooded by light coming through a glass wall looking into the hotel room next door.

On a tripod in front of the wall stood a large, professional-looking camera, the kind that used plates instead of roll film.

The man was watching her face expectantly. A movement caught the corner of her eye. She turned to look through the wall. A man and woman stood in conversation.

Was this going to be a peep show? She sniffed. How could he think she might be interested in that sort of thing?

It was Howard! And a woman!

She shot a look at Turner. He mouthed silently, "One-way glass," in explanation.

Howard had removed his coat and tie, and the hussy was unbuttoning his shirt. As Helen watched, she slid her hands through the opening and caressed his torso. She put up her face. Howard kissed her long and deeply.

Helen's first reaction was fury.

She had come to understand that her husband would be compelled to transgress, but her solace was that it was only because he was gay. They had made a private agreement: his extramarital activity would only be with other men; but since she was a healthy woman who needed to express her own sexuality, she had his leave to have discreet affairs. Her relationship with Jack and Suzie was ideal. As far as the world was concerned there was every reason for her to visit them, they were her daughter and son-in-law and grandchildren; nobody could possibly guess what was going on. In turn, Howard could go down to the city from time to time to pursue his special interests.

For a woman to replace her in his affections was intolerable. If he could get it up with a woman, it should be with her.

Howard was reaching around the blonde. He unzipped her dress. She let it fall to the floor and stepped out of it. She was wearing a brief boned foundation garment that gave her a wasp waist, very sexy, Helen supposed, if you liked that sort of thing. He said something; they laughed comfortably together. It was all too apparent they knew each other well.

Helen was seized with jealousy. The floozy was pretty, a dark blonde with cosmetics too obvious, a dozen years younger than she.

Now the woman unclasped her bra, arms bent awkwardly behind.

She had almost no breasts: falsies in the bra were the reason for the shapeliness that had filled her top. Maybe that's why he liked her--he once said that large breasts turned him off.

She unfastened her stockings, one hand holding Howard's shoulder to keep her balance, and slid them down. He pulled the bow at the top of the waist cinch and unhooked the laces that held it together.

Without the garment her waist was not nearly so narrow. In fact, her figure was rather boyish.

As Helen looked at her she was reminded of something she couldn't put a finger on. For a moment it was like a double image in a photograph.

Wait a minute.

She was filled with a wild surmise.

It was confirmed when the hussy pushed down her panties to reveal a totally-masculine erection, testicles hanging under it. She--no, he--had apparently put lipstick on the tip. It was bright pink.

Helen's stomach churned. It was revolting.

It was nothing like Suzie, whose body and personality had been feminized against his will, and who was now permanently as nearly a woman as could be, only betrayed by male organs; fresh, sweet, friendly, and happy. This was something different.

She watched the young man lead her husband to the bed by his erection, his own penis pointing the way. They lay down and kissed.

Helen shivered. They caressed each other for several minutes. The long-haired young man said something. Howard nodded. The young man kissed him. Makeup obscene on his face, he turned over and held his ass cheeks apart, inviting Howard's penetration.

Her husband, soft paunch against the lad, used his hand to guide his stiff member to the right place. The young man tensed and wriggled, head coming up with a look of ecstasy, then dipping again as if in contemplation of Howard's slow entry. His hair fell in waves over his cheeks.

Howard's hips began thrusting. To all appearances he, too, was in ecstasy.

She watched until her husband lunged forward and stayed pushed in to the hilt, pelvis giving a regular series of small jerks.

She was trembling with nausea when Dick Turner leaned close to her ear and murmured, "Seen enough? Come on, I got more."

Dazed, she stumbled after him to one of the nearby rooms. He ushered her in.

"We won't be disturbed here. That was pretty rough, huh? You probably need a drink. Scotch okay?"

Mind's eye still full of the scene she had just witnessed, Helen responded automatically, "Gin on the rocks."

"You do like a dry martini, don't you?" The man grinned as he handed it to her. "Now, there's just one more thing."

He opened a dresser drawer and took out a manila envelope.

Helen swallowed half the drink, fire and ice down to her stomach. It was good. It had been a long time since she had drunk straight gin. Back in the old days it had been common for her to put down half a bottle in an evening and pass out on the couch, but she was over that now, thank God.

Her eyes sharpened as he took a sheaf of color photographs out of the envelope and handed it to her. There were half a dozen pictures, clear and precise, almost as if they had been posed. They showed Howard with the same young man in a variety of incriminating activities.

The man said, "These wouldn't do your husband no good posted on the bulletin board at the bank, would they? Or you or your daughter, either."

Helen's mouth fell open. A sharp thrill of fear blazed through her stomach.

This was worse than anything she could have imagined.

She couldn't keep her voice from quavering. "Wh-what do you want? I'll give you money, but it has to be a reasonable amount. You can't try to ruin us financially. If you do, I'll call the police and you'll get nothing but a jail sentence."

"The cops? Money? Whaddaya talking about, lady? I don't want your money, I want your bod."

"My--" Helen gasped.

"Yeah." He met her eyes directly, forcing her to look away. "I want you to put out for me, that's all. I'll give you one picture each time. That's fair, ain't it?"

Helen had mixed emotions. She was outraged, but relieved that they weren't going to be ruined financially. On the other hand if she gave in she would have to submit six times to this, this sleazy wretch. She didn't know if she could. She'd be sick.

What could she do? She couldn't let Howard be exposed. They'd have to move out of town and where would Howard get a job as good as the one he had? Maybe Jack and Suzie and the children too. She knew Chardsville well enough to know what kind of vicious gossip the town was capable of.

"Please, Mr. Turner--"

"Dick. Call me Dick."

"Dick," she choked. "Please, Dick, don't do this. My huh-husband helped you buy this place."

"Hey, what harm will it do? I want you, you want me, it's just a coupla little get-togethers, that's all, and your husband ain't in the picture at all."

The man was out of touch with reality. She'd have to do what he said and hope she could trust him to keep his word. She probably could. Once he had satisfied himself with her, he would no longer be so exigent. It took genuine love, as between her and Jack and Suzie, and, yes, even Howard, to make the sex act fresh and exciting repeatedly.

Her heart began to pound.

"Will you give me those pictures if I do it with you now?"

His bright smile had triumph in it.

"One."

"I'll go in the bathroom to get ready," she said in a small voice.

She felt ill. Thank God she was already pregnant.

"Nah, strip right here. I want to watch."

Hands cold, Helen removed her bolero jacket and pulled the ribbon tie at her collar. Hideously aware of his gaze, she tugged down the zipper at the side of her skirt and stepped out of the garment and folded it over the back of a chair. Her fingers were clumsy as she took off the nylon blouse; they shook when she made them grip the hem of her slip to pull it off over her head.

She looked at him pleadingly before unclasping her brassiere, but he stared stonily at her, a sheen of lust in his dark eyes.

Her face crumpled with unshed tears when it came time to push her panties down to reveal her shaven vulva. She felt so naked, so defenseless, desperately conscious of that opening into her private self that no muscle could close.

"That's enough."

She stopped moving. Was he going to be satisfied with making her undress, with just seeing her in stockings and high heels?

He went on, "Leave the rest. It's a turn-on."

Helen's lips trembled. It was humiliating. She looked down as he began to take off his clothes. Peeping through her eyelashes, she saw his erect penis spring free when he unsnapped his shorts. It was not as big as Jack's but it was bigger than Howard's or Suzie's. The man's pubic hair never began or ended; a line of it ran straight up his stomach to the fur on his chest.

He stood in front of her. His hands touched her head. She felt the hairpins being pulled out; her hair fell wanton to her shoulders.

She was shaking when he led her to the bed and made her lie down on it.

This can't be happening, she thought. I'm Mrs. Howard Myers, wife of the president of the First National Bank of Chardsville. I'm a member of the Garden Club, of St. Andrew's church, the Ladies Society. It's not possible for me to be lying here waiting for a strange man to stick his penis in me.

"Spread your legs."

She obeyed tremulously. The mattress sank as he knelt between her open knees. She closed her eyes so she couldn't see him staring at the juncture of her thighs. She had never been so humiliated.

"Yeah. Bare as a baby's ass. You must be hot to trot."

She flinched when his fingers pulled her labia apart, exposing the mantled clitoris and causing her vagina to gape.

Helen nearly jumped off the bed when his tongue licked suddenly up her crack. She cried out in dismay.

His hands gripped her thighs above her stocking tops, holding them open.

She made herself lie still, enduring the invasion of her privacy. She knew she would never feel safe again. The lesson was clear: even strangers could have access to that most intimate part of her body, to expose it to their sight, to touch it lustfully.

How could she look anyone in the eye again after letting him do this to her?

Tears leaked from under her closed lids and trickled down her cheeks to her ears.

His tongue moved lavishly over the length of her crack before concentrating on a wet massage of her clitoris. A wave of shame swept through her as his touch revealed that the little button was erect. He would think she was aroused. Now the wretch was insinuating his finger into her vagina, moving it suggestively.

She tried to keep her body from stirring as she felt an unwelcome gathering sensation in that complex of organs down there; to think of something else, to pretend she wasn't here, he was doing it to somebody else, but in one swift moment the mouth applied suction on her traitorous erect clitoris, pulling it in along with hot flesh around it; the slippery finger withdrew from her vagina and plunged into her asshole . . . and her pelvis leaped spastically.

She yelped as she orgasmed.

When the throbbing of her pussy subsided, the man lifted his head and said, "I knew you was a hot bitch the first time I saw you."

He was on her, prick poking urgently into the crack between her lips, sliding down and lodging in the entrance to her vagina. She was wet. Helen tried to tell herself it was from his saliva. When this ordeal was over she'd go home and douche to prevent rabies.

His cock was opening her, pushing in on a film of juice, stretching her tender tissues, causing her clitoris to remain erect.

His prick went in, making her gasp. She tried to lie still, legs flat on the bed, to deny him pleasure, to let him know he could never arouse her, that she was only doing this to protect her husband, but as his long invasive strokes went on, her body responded treacherously and moved in counterrhythm to them.

His head was descending on hers. He was going to kiss her. She closed her lips firmly and turned her head away.

She had told herself once before that he didn't know how to take no for an answer. He gripped her face with both hands, pushed his thumbs into the corner of her jaws, eliciting a cry of pain and making her mouth open, and kissed her, thrusting his tongue inside. She tasted her own juices on it.

Helen gave up. She accepted his tongue and cock, both in her, and didn't try to resist when he fondled her breasts, pinching the nipples lightly to increase the sensation down there.

She watched a rippling patch of sunlight on the ceiling, reflected there from the fountain in the courtyard below. Footsteps clicked by the door as a hotel guest passed, wholly unaware of the enormity taking place inside this room.

Her knees came up, nylons pulling against the garters, high heels digging into the bedspread. The position allowed a deeper penetration. It sent her over the edge.

She put her arms around him and held him to her, fingers clawing his back. A series of orgasms racked her body. She felt as if she were being turned inside out emotionally just before she fainted.

It was only for a moment. When she came to he was still on top of her, still pumping his meat back and forth in her.

She panted and groaned aloud as she was seized by another climax. Simultaneously his prick jammed in to its full length and hot jets of liquid filled her canal.

When he was done he pulled out, still hard but rapidly shrinking.

"I knew you'd like it. I bet you can't wait for next time."

He stood up and went to the bathroom. She heard the shower.

Helen curled into a fetal posture, hands covering her violated cunt, and wept for a moment until a feeling of urgency possessed her. She had to get out of there before he came out. She couldn't stand to see him again. Maybe she could steal the pictures.

She staggered to her feet and dressed hastily, omitting her brassiere, stuffing it into her purse instead. She wanted to be gone by the time he finished his shower, but couldn't bear to walk through the hotel with her hair disheveled, and was still pinning it up when he came out of the bathroom. In the mirror she saw that he didn't even have the decency to have a towel wrapped around his waist. His penis was flaccid, and swayed back and forth as he walked.

"What are you doing?" His voice held surprise.

She said coldly, "Getting dressed."

"You wanna leave already? No, don't go yet. I got something I want you to do."

"Don't you think I've done enough?" Helen said with as much dignity as she could muster.

"Get on your knees."

She stared at him blankly.

"Come on, get on your knees."

When what he wanted penetrated, Helen's stomach turned over.

She couldn't. It was too degrading.

"Come on," he said impatiently, moving toward her.

She sank to her knees before him resistlessly.

Being raped was one thing. It was something that sometimes happened to women, and they could dissociate themselves from the act. It wasn't their fault, the man was doing it to them, they had nothing to do with it.

This was different. It was an act that was loving and assertive when it was with somebody you loved. But for her to do it for this insensitive, depraved man was grossly demeaning.

Her face was flushed as she took the limp prick between two fingers and put it in her mouth and sucked on it. The foreskin moved loosely between her lips.

Was he ever going to get erect? She touched his hanging balls, then fondled them. Her tongue worked under the foreskin to get at the soft head.

The organ squirmed, swelling, forcing her jaws wider.

That was what he wanted--her submission, her participation in her own degradation.

If it would get her out of here sooner, she'd give him what he wanted. By now Helen was exhausted by emotion, subdued and unhappy. All she wanted was to get home where she'd be safe-- until next time.

Making him come wasn't easy. He had ejaculated only minutes before. By the time she felt a telltale thrumming in the stiff meat her jaws ached and her lips were burned and swollen by friction. She almost welcomed the fierce spurts of slippery fluid as they jetted into her mouth.

When he was flaccid again she let the cock slip out of her mouth and went into the bathroom to spit his semen into the sink and try to rinse her mouth. She wished she had a toothbrush.

She didn't look at him when she returned to the bedroom to retrieve her purse and leave.

Helen was halfway out the door before he said, "You forgot something."

He was holding out one of the pictures.

She snatched it, tears blurring her vision, and heard him say, "See you here tomorrow. Same time."

Chapter 8

While Helen Myers was submitting to her tormentor, Mrs. Chard was at her desk in the study. She slit a manila envelope with a letter-opener. Two typewritten pages and an assortment of photocopies fell out.

She read the typed material all the way through and examined the other documents.

A chortle erupted from her throat; a moment later she started laughing in earnest.

Mrs. Argentina asked, "What? What's so funny?"

"This. It's a report from Mr. Greenspan, my investigator."

Mrs. Argentina reached for it, sharing in Mrs. Chard's good humor. "What is it?"

Mrs. Chard pulled the report back. "Wait, Marie. I'll show you, but you have to know some things first to appreciate it. Remember when we were talking about Mrs. Landon?"

"Oh, is this about her? You put a detective on her?"

"Yes. Mr. Greenspan learned that the Myerses had a baby boy in April, seventeen years ago, right here in Chardsville General. Named Gerard. Remember, I thought his name was like that? He seems to have vanished. The neighbors said he was sent away to a private school, but there isn't any record of it. He disappeared into thin air four years ago."

Mrs. Argentina leaned forward with an interested expression. "All right. Still--"

Mrs. Chard held up her hand, grinning. "Wait. What about Mrs. Landon, who is supposed to be Suzanne Myers? When I saw Mr. Myers a few weeks ago I asked after her, and cool as a cucumber he told me she was fine. She's his daughter, all right. But. As far as Mr. Greenspan is concerned she doesn't exist. Not according to the records, anyway. The Myerses never had a daughter. Neither here nor in any of the towns or cities around here."

She smiled.

"So perhaps Suzanne was adopted. There would be some kind of record, wouldn't there? Mr. Greenspan, an experienced operative I assure you, I've used him often before with excellent results, could learn nothing. He said he'd never run into a situation like this. He started talking about spies and Treasury Department witness protection plans, and the like. She's a complete mystery. No school records, no marriage license, no driver's license, nothing--until the birth of her children.

"Everything was proper on their birth certificates, maiden name Myers, father John Landon, and so forth. Except--she gave her age as thirty-three!"

Mrs. Chard looked meaningfully at Mrs. Argentina. "Now I ask you. If that little girl was a day over sixteen when her first child was born, I'll kiss her foot. Another thing. Where the hospital asks if the patient has ever had a child before, in case of Rh-negative, you know, she wrote down yes. You see? Where's the other baby? No record of it. It could not have been Mrs. Landon in the hospital. She's an even deeper mystery."

"Estelle! I'm flabbergasted."

"Wait till you hear this. This new thing is Mr. Greenspan's second report. When he couldn't find any trace of Suzanne Myers, he concentrated on John Landon, to work his way back to her. There are plenty of records on him.

"Let's see . . ." She referred to the report, "His mother and father were killed in an auto crash when he was five, and he was raised in an orphanage. At the age of twelve he showed promise as an artist, and won a scholarship to an art school, which made an exception for his age because they felt his talent was worth developing. And so on and so forth." She paused.

"His last known employment was as a gardener for a man named Ralph Bellows!"

When Mrs. Argentina looked puzzled, Mrs. Chard gave a shriek of laughter.

"Marie, don't you remember Ralph? He was the one who recommended Dr. Goody for the children's treatment."

"Oh, yes, that's right. Whatever happened to him?"

"He died two or three years ago. A heart attack, I believe. Now, listen, Marie. He had a penthouse apartment in the city with a large garden surrounding it. What most people didn't know was that Ralph had unusual tastes. He was a dirty old man. His maids, he dressed them in uniforms like Angie, but get this: they were always young boys!

"Now, where do you think Jack Landon met Suzanne? Take a wild guess. Mr. Greenspan doesn't have any idea what he uncovered. I must remember to call him off the case. Because just as sure as we're sitting here, Suzanne--Mrs. Landon--is Mr. and Mrs. Myers' Gerard, who was working as a boy-maid for Ralph Bellows. It has to be."

Mrs. Argentina was silent, digesting this information. Admiration grew in her eyes.

"Estelle! I don't know what to say. You're right. You must be right. There isn't any other explanation. Oh, it's delicious!"

"Isn't it? I feel like calling Mr. Myers in and telling him I know all about it, just to see the expression on his face. But that would be too cruel, wouldn't it? We'll just keep it to ourselves. The knowledge may come in handy some day."

"Aren't you curious to see Mrs. Landon undressed? I know I am."

"Yes, but it's none of our business, is it. Still, if Leslie or Joan ever feel, er, like outcasts, and need a new friend, they may like to know about this."

"I can't get over it," Mrs. Argentina said. "That priggish little man dressing his son the way we did ours. Or, if it was her idea, letting her do it. And then letting him marry a man. It boggles the imagination."

Mrs. Chard burst into laughter. "It does, doesn't it? My respect for Howard Myers has gone up several thousand points."

Chapter 9

Suzie had a hard-on that wouldn't quit. He reached under his dress and adjusted the stiff organ so it was pressed hot up against his tummy, held there by the elastic of his panties. He let his fingers linger for a moment, stroking it through the rayon, before letting the dress fall in place.

Damn Jack, anyway. Suzie needed sex. Last night, for the second night in a row, Jack had worked late, and when he finally came to bed had rolled over and gone to sleep, leaving him tense and wakeful. This morning the man jumped up, dressed, and without waiting for more than a bite of toast and a hasty gulp of coffee, went into his studio. He was like that when he was painting, all concentration and absentmindedness.

Hopeful, Suzie brought him a midmorning cup of coffee. In serving it he contrived to nudge him suggestively with his breasts, but Jack was so busy painting he hadn't even noticed. Suzie gave up. If he wanted Jack's attention while he was working, he'd have to pour the coffee all over him. Even then the man would look up bewildered, oblivious to what he'd done to provoke the action.

He dusted the parlor coffee table furiously before waxing it. That was the trouble with a wood stove. Even when they weren't using it, powdery ashes somehow seeped through the cast iron to coat everything in the room, on purpose to annoy him.

When he bent to pick up the can of furniture wax the head of his prick poked into his belly button.

Endowed with an unusually strong sex drive because of Dr. Goody's protogen, Suzie had long since learned all about women's perennial exasperating problem: when they wanted sex they usually had to wait. When men wanted sex they could go after it, and women had to put out, whether they were in the mood or not. After all, they could. All they had to do was lie there. But if a man didn't feel like it, if he was tired, if he was too busy or preoccupied, if he had recently ejaculated, the woman was out of luck. A limp dick just wouldn't go in. It was damn' frustrating.

Suzie had tried to call his mom, hoping she would come over and they could spend a private time in the bedroom while Jack was in the studio, but she wasn't home. Where was she, for heaven's sake? She never seemed to be around these days. They'd hardly seen her since the day she told them the doctor had confirmed her pregnancy.

At times like this he wished he had a friend to "play" with, to relieve himself with when he needed it, like Jack had Michael.

Or even just to talk to. Suzie loved their farm, but there was no denying it was isolated. The nearest neighbors, the Johnsons, lived two miles distant. When Jack was working Suzie had nobody to chat with but a two-year-old and a six-month-old, not exactly high-order communication. It was all right for Jack; he was obsessed with his work, able to concentrate for hours, unaware of the passage of time, needing nobody's companionship. But sometimes it drove Suzie up the wall.

In the early days of their marriage, Jack had been only too willing to take a break from his work to service him. It had been wonderful. Sometimes they did it half a dozen times a day. But now the familiar routine of married life had taken some of the excitement out of their relationship, and there were nights when Jack was too tired to be much interested in sex.

Having to await the man's pleasure wasn't the half of it. Marriage made a woman into her husband's dependent. It was not just the fact of relying on him for money and financial security, it was the whole orientation of marriage. When a man said, "Let's go out to dinner," he was really saying something like, "I'm going to dinner, come along with me." When a woman said it, what she meant was, "Please take me out to dinner."

Wives complained of being trapped, which their husbands never could begin to understand. They didn't feel trapped. Well, they weren't. They went to work or to the corner saloon and did as they jolly well pleased, while the women sat home waiting, eternally waiting.

Being so dependent was an uneasy condition, at best. It tainted even the happiest marriages. Some women reacted by nagging or scolding to prove their independence, or to vent the imperfectly-understood uneasiness, but it didn't help; it usually made things worse, as the man gradually distanced himself. Others, possibly more insecure, accepted their lot meekly, but that didn't help either. They remained dependents still, and couldn't do anything to rock the boat.

No wonder when men cheated, their wives forgave so readily.

Suzie knew exactly how it felt. More so, he imagined. He had told himself he was lucky when he first met Jack, a handsome protective man who not only accepted him the way he was, but loved him for it. Now, three years later, Suzie was only beginning to understand just how lucky he was. If he were to lose Jack he would never find a man to replace him.

Jack was kind and decent; he had no idea how much he could get away with if he wanted. He could have affairs all over town and Suzie would have to forgive him.

Oh, not the one with Michael. That was all right. Anyway he was another man, so it wasn't really cheating: Suzie was--nearly--a woman. And he liked Michael. He saw again in his mind's eye his lean, naked figure standing in the water with Jack last summer, beautiful prick rigid, and then, when they moved into deeper water and faced each other, the telltale movement of their arms as they jerked each other off.

Suzie had almost come in his panties. If Michael were here right now, he'd be tempted to seduce him.

That was just fantasy, of course. He would never jeopardize his marriage by risking exposure. What if people knew about him? Jack would be ruined. The children would be outcasts. It was too dreadful to contemplate.

Jack might even divorce him--not because of an affair with Michael, he was too broad-minded for that--but to start a new life free from people's stares. Then where would Suzie be? He had two children and a third on the way. Now that was trapped. He didn't know how to do anything but be a wife and mother and housekeeper. He'd been trained as a maid by Mr. Bellows; he could get that kind of a job, but he couldn't be a live-in, the only kind that paid anything, because of the children. That left being a cleaning lady. They weren't exactly paid like brain surgeons. A shiver of fright went through him, and to dispel it he scrubbed hard at the woodwork with his waxing rag.

Jack was going to leave him. He knew it. That was why he hadn't touched him for two days. He was tired of him, and was going to toss him aside like an old shoe. His eyes burned. Was there somebody else? He cast about in his memory for who it could be. That Mrs. Ginsberg he had painted last week? No, she was fat and homely. Who, then? The only other women who had been around recently were Mary Johnson and Joanie. Mary! He had seen the way he looked at her, especially after painting her two years ago. No, he was barking up the wrong tree. Mary was happily married and a mother of four. Then Joan. Yes. Joan, that must be it. That little tramp. All this time she had been making eyes at his husband and he hadn't known it. He remembered her saying, "Your husband is huge," when Jack and Michael had stripped in front of them. And Jack had fallen for her wiles. Suzie allowed himself a flood of self- pity. Tears stood in his eyes.

He blinked them away and stared out the window. God, what a depressing day. A gentle rain was falling, washing yellow leaves out of the September trees. For most of the month they'd had unseasonable warmth; now it was going to get chilly and dismal. The world would be bleak, just like his life.

He listened to what he was thinking. Only yesterday he had been wishing for rain. A reluctant smile tugged at the corners of his lips.

He laughed at himself. He had been building bugbears in his head. Jack loved him, he knew that. It was only the feeling that he was subject to Jack's whims--even if Jack didn't have any whims--that made him insecure when he was sexually frustrated.

The scales dropped from his eyes and he looked around the room. It absolutely sparkled. All the time he was griping to himself he'd been working hard. The furniture gleamed, the rug was spotless, the deep pine floor glowed. All the pictures were dust-free.

Mrs. Ginsberg's portrait was on display, waiting for pick-up. It looked exactly like her, yet in some arcane way she had undergone a subtle transmutation that made her alluring, as if you were seeing her soul through the layer of fat that encased it.

The parlor was used as a kind of showroom for prospective portrait clients. The new ones were put on exhibit, and often served to swing a commission, as did the standbys--Suzie and his mother. There were two of Suzie, one opposite his mother, the other a madonna with Lucy at his breast. His mother had modeled for the part he didn't have--or, rather, had too much of. It was still strange for him to see himself that way, but hardly stranger than seeing himself in the pictures Jack had painted during the first year or so of their marriage.

Jack had been excited about them, and believed they would make him famous. Although they were done in his usual dispassionate style, each stroke inconspicuous and contributing to utter realism, and although there was nothing about the figure's stance that was deliberately arousing, the paintings were breathtakingly erotic. To see a girl with a man's sex organs was shocking to begin with, but the sensuous nature of Jack's paintings, a matter of unconscious style, endowed his "Suzie pictures" with a prurience that staggered the viewer.

After they had Lucy, Suzie had prevailed on him not to have the showing he wanted, but instead to paint him as a girl. He hadn't understood at first--men are so obtuse--but he had explained about the notoriety that they had to avoid now that they had a child; and Jack had reluctantly agreed to let him hide the scores of paintings in the attic.

Suzie liked to go up and look at them from time to time, to remember the days when he had posed for Jack in their tiny studio apartment.

A clash and rattle of pots in the kitchen let him know that Lucy was up to mischief. She had opened the under-counter cupboards and removed some no-no playthings.

Suzie grinned. That child.

He hurried into the kitchen and stood, arms akimbo, watching the unheeding toddler happily banging a saucepan against a skillet. When she finally saw him and smiled he picked her up and scolded, "What's the meaning of this? Playing with Mama's pots and pans, shame!"

He tickled her to make her shriek with laughter and then played with her for an hour until she was tired enough to sit quietly on his lap while he read her The Three Bears and had her point to the pictures to identify Mama, Papa, and Baby Bear.

When Bobby started crying in the other room Suzie said, "Oh, there's your baby brother. Come help Mommy change his diaper."

The baby stopped crying as soon as he saw Suzie and held his chubby arms out, making interesting gurgling noises. Lucy "helped" with the diaper, patting Bobby on the stomach and touching his tiny penis curiously. Boys wouldn't be much of a mystery to her when she grew up, Suzie thought.

He was surprised to see her duck her head and plant a kiss on the little thing. Goodness, the instincts were there right from the beginning. When Lucy darted a look at Suzie, he laughed, "That's all right, darling. Little boys like to be kissed there," and finished diapering Bobby, who had begun to fret.

He sat in the rocker cuddling Bobby, deliberately making himself relax so his milk would come. Tension inhibited its flow. He cooed to the squirming, still-fretting baby; and when he felt calm pulled open his dress. There was already a dribble from his breasts; the mere sound of the baby's cry could cause them to leak.

Bobby fastened his mouth to the nipple avidly and sucked noisily. Suzie's tit thrummed; the suction sent the familiar sharp tingling sensation to his genitals. It was impossible, but his prick got even bigger and harder. His balls, encased in the silky material of his panties, were swollen and warm.

Lucy leaned against his arm, watching Bobby nurse.

"Ahmie?" she asked.

That was her word for food, probably because taking a bite of food looked, or sounded, like "Ahm!" to her.

Suzie put his arm around her, holding her close. "Yes, dear, Bobby's having his ahmie." Lucy pulled his dress farther open, freeing his other breast. Suzie said, "What are you doing, you wicked child? Stop that."

The little girl fumbled with the tit, patting and squeezing.

"Ahmie." This time it was a demand.

Suzie laughed. "You want some ahmie, too? Shame on you, you're too big for this kind of ahmie. Besides, you have teeth." Careful not to dislodge Bobby he leaned over to her tender neck, "and you might BITE me like THIS!" He rained a series of wet nibbles on the tender curve between her neck and shoulder.

Lucy squealed in delight, pushing away, but soon returned and said gravely, "Ahmie."

She was serious. Suzie supposed she was jealous of her little brother. Poor thing. He couldn't blame her. From her point of view she had every right to be jealous. Here was Mommy not only cuddling her brother but feeding him her very own milk, as if he were more special than she was.

There was no sense in making an issue of it. If he let her nurse a little while, it would show her simultaneously that Mommy loved her too and that it was no big deal.

"You want some ahmie too?" Lifting the little girl, "Sit on your very own Mommy's lap." He gave her the tit. "Be careful, don't hurt Mommy. Don't bite."

As gently as she had before she was weaned, Lucy suckled gratefully, rosebud mouth moving dreamily, both hands holding the breast. Her eyes were fixed on his face. Suzie met them fondly. She was such sweet child.

She wriggled on his lap, making his erection twitch.

It wasn't long before the suction Lucy was applying slackened. She let go of the nipple and leaned her cheek against Suzie's breast. Her eyes drooped.

Bobby had also given up, milky mouth parted, eyes closed. He mewled when Suzie put him over his shoulder and patted him tenderly to be sure he didn't have to burp, though breast feeding didn't usually cause gas.

Both down at the same time. Suzie congratulated himself. With care he lifted them and carried them to their respective beds. No arguments from Lucy about nap time today. He watched them for a while, thinking how quiet and peaceful it was. His breasts felt comfortable. He hadn't realized how full they had been. Jack hadn't been relieving them in the early mornings the way he used to, so between feedings they became distended.

What next? The sewing. He had to do the sewing. But first he needed some time for himself. He'd take a nice long bath and then make a sandwich for Jack, and maybe . . . if Jack was at a point in his painting when he could come up for air . . .

He went upstairs to the "lady's bathroom," which had a tub as well as a shower, and space for his cosmetics and other paraphernalia, and undressed. While the tub was filling, bubbles foaming, he sat on the toilet to "douche." An enema, really, but he liked to think of it as douching, especially since he used the long, curved, bulbous-headed nozzle instead of the smaller one.

He saw his cock swell deliciously larger as the first rush of baking- soda-and-water flowed in. Suzie was conditioned by now to respond sexually to any penetration of his anus.

He clamped the hose and pulled out the nozzle, a squirt following it, and let the contents spew into the bowl. He flushed the toilet and repeated the process. The water came out clear; nevertheless he douched a third time, to make certain of his personal cleanliness.

There were other douches to follow, but they'd wait until after his bath. In preparation he put a squeeze-bottle of pink lanolin body- lotion in hot water to warm, and a fresh razor by the bathtub next to the shaving cream.

He relaxed in the tub, luxuriating in the silkiness of the bath salts, warm and comfortable in a kind of back-to-the-womb submersion, conscious of the tug of his breasts as they sought to float.

They had been made to grow when he was thirteen, which was about the age most girls developed, but even now he wasn't used to them. They were a constant delicious presence. He loved them. Perhaps it was because they were not a birthright--he was a boy, for heaven's sake--and there was something forbidden about it which made their possession even more fulfilling.

He caressed them gently, absently watching them sway with the movement of the water, feeling serene and languid until he forced himself to pick up the razor and shaving cream to go through the next step of his toilette. He shaved his legs carefully until they were smooth; then did the same under his arms. He got on his hands and knees in the water. Using the fingertips of his left hand to guide his right, he shaved between his legs checking each inch for stubble.

He dried himself with a towel, retrieved the squeeze-bottle from the sink, bent over to insert the nozzle gingerly. The warm perfumed lotion was soothing as he forced a mini-squirt in; the tissues of his anus soaked up the lanolin gratefully, remaining soft and flexible even after the lotion was ejected into the toilet.

The next step was an injection of contraceptive foam, not as a deterrent to pregnancy, of course, but because the foam had an antiseptic effect and curbed odors. He kneeled over the tub, wet hair falling forward to touch the bubbles. The applicator, a plastic tube three-quarters inch in diameter with a hypodermic-style plunger, felt good sliding in. He moved it back and forth, beginning to fantasize that Michael was staying over, and that while he, Suzie, was on all fours on the bed giving Jack a blow job Michael entered their bedroom, watched for a moment, then mounted him from behind. Suzie shoved the applicator in. That was Michael's cock. Jack was holding his ears so he couldn't get away. They were sharing him; they both desired him.

Caught up in the fantasy, Suzie clasped his rigid penis and tugged it rhythmically. Now Michael was moving faster and more passionately. He was going to come. Suzie's thumb pushed the plunger, injecting the foam. It was astringent and cool but in his fantasy it was Michael's semen. His penis erupted, pumping violently. His mind shattered into images of Michael's prick somehow in his mouth and his ass at the same time while Michael fucked him and sucked gluttonously on his cock.

When his ejaculation was over Suzie remained for a long moment, forearms braced on the rim of the tub, shaking with slaked passion. He dabbed at the tip of his now-softening penis with a piece of toilet paper. His balls were drained; his whole body was relaxed and happy. He used more toilet paper to wipe up the pool of semen on the tile floor. God, there was a lot of it. It looked like a quarter-cup. No wonder he had been so cranky: he had really needed it.

He put his hair in curlers, feeling an enormous relief, made up his face and powdered his body. There was nothing like a good grooming to put the world right again. He was ashamed of the things he'd been thinking about Jack. He'd make it up to him. Jack wouldn't have the least idea why his wife was being so good to him.

Suzie was clean and fresh and untroubled and ready to tackle the sewing. He went to the bedroom to get dressed.

He no sooner finished putting on a crisp house dress whose pale yellow set off his summer tan, than Jack opened the bedroom door and took him in his arms, plucking at the zipper in back.

"How about a little nookie, babe?"

Chapter 10

Helen found herself having to beg for Dick Turner's attentions.

The ordeal of the past weeks had been ghastly. Each time she left the hotel room she thought he had visited the ultimate humiliation on her, but each time it got worse.

The last time he had made her put her tongue in his ass. She refused at first. He threatened not to give her the picture for that day. She weighed the brief minute of repugnance against having to do it all over again another day, and surrendered and demeaned herself. It wasn't the act itself, or the taste, which was only bitter, not smelly, it was the humbling of her pride, the degradation.

The end was in sight. There was only one photograph to go, but last time he had neglected to tell her when to come again. She waited for a phone call. A week went by and she didn't hear from him. In the days following she called him repeatedly, but seemed never to be able to reach him. Though she left cautious messages, he didn't return her calls.

It relieved her in a way. She had been right. Sex without love got old quickly. He was finally tired of tormenting her. But there was still that last photograph. In the wrong hands, one was as bad as six.

In the meantime, Howard had been behaving himself. She had been so angry that first day. She had hastened to her car, deeply violated, shuddering with loathing for Dick Turner, abominably conscious of the man's semen soaking her panties and the taste of it clinging to the tissues of her mouth. She drove home and ran into the bathroom to douche and brush her teeth. A shower left her still feeling soiled; she ran a tub and bathed all over again.

When Howard got home she said to him curtly, "Go take a shower in the downstairs bathroom and get rid of your catamite's stink. Then we'll talk."

She showed him the photograph she had earned that day and told him there were five others. He was terrified. When he heard the terms for the acquisition of the remaining pictures he begged her to comply with them, promising to do anything she asked in return. She laid down the law. He was to break off with that strange young man, was to renew his solemn promise never to pursue his private activities in Chardsville, and this time to keep it. Since he had put their livelihood in jeopardy, he was to sign the house, savings accounts, and investments over to Helen. She would control all their assets.

Helen knew she was overreacting, but couldn't resist rubbing his nose in it. Each time she saw Dick Turner she made Howard listen to every detail of what the man had done to her that day, before handing him the photograph.

This morning Dick Turner had finally answered the phone. She asked when he wanted her to come to the hotel to see him. He put her off at first.

"I dunno. I get the idea you're not enjoying it. How do you think that makes me feel?"

Helen choked down a lump of nausea. "But I do, Dick. Please let me come down," she wheedled. "I'll do anything you want."

"Anything?"

Helen's ear caught a special significance in his tone.

"Ye-es," she said hesitantly. "Anything."

"Okay. Remember what you said. This afternoon, same time. Come to room two-oh-three."

What worse could he do to her? She knew he'd find something. It was as though he had some kind of compulsion to break her.

She only hoped she could go through with whatever it was and get the final photograph. She'd be free then.

It was almost over. Helen took her purse and got into her car.

Exactly at three she was walking on the second-floor terrace to the room. Lounging near the door when she knocked were four men, kitchen help by the look of their stained aprons and white pants. They stared at her. Helen blushed, feeling compromised, until Dick Turner answered the door and let her in.

She knew the routine. She pulled her dress off and folded it over the back of a chair so it wouldn't wrinkle. Still not looking at him, but hearing him undress, she took off her slip, bra, and panties; and stood in stockings and heels, head down, waiting for him.

The room had a floor-to-ceiling mirror opposite the bed, so as he padded barefoot over to her, her nude body, as well as his erection, was directly in her line of sight. She closed her eyes in shame.

He said, "Yeah, you're really something. Butter wouldn't melt in your mouth when you're walkin down the street, but here you are, bare-assed and hot for me. Who woulda thought?"

He handled her, caressing her shoulders and waist, weighing her breasts, and pulling her nipples until she winced. His hands went lower, one behind her grasping an ass-cheek, the other cupping her vulva. A finger slipped between her labia and entered her vagina. She squirmed in repugnance.

"Wet, too," he said, "Even before we start. You can't wait for it, can you?"

Helen silently berated her treasonous body. Uncontrollable vaginal juices had begun to flow just as soon as she started taking off her clothes. He thought she was enjoying this.

He said, "I got a treat for you. But first I want you to suck my cock. Do a good job. My balls first, then wrap those lips around it."

She knelt obediently and worked on him until his semen erupted. Swallowed it. Continued, hoping to drain him so deeply he wouldn't be able to do anything further.

Her diligence seemed to please him. He lifted her gently, led her to the bed, and put her down on it.

She waited.

A familiar rustle made her turn her head in surprise.

He was getting dressed!

A thrill of joy leaped in her bosom. It was all over with. She could collect her picture, go home, and never come back.

Helen started to get up.

He said, "Where you going? Stay there. I promised you a treat, and I'm gonna give it to you." He finished dressing, opened the door, and said, "Okay, you can come in now. Twenty bucks apiece."

The four men who had been loitering outside entered, eyes riveted on her.

She jumped up, hands and elbows frantically trying to cover her breasts and the join of her legs simultaneously.

"What--? What--? Get out of here! How dare you?"

Dick Turner held her, forcing her back toward the bed. He threw her down.

She bounced up in panic, one high-heel turning under her, making her stumble. He pushed her down again.

"Relax, I invited them. I figured if you liked it as much you say, you wouldn't mind putting out for a few of my friends."

"Are you out of your mind? You want me to--? Never! What do you think I am?"

"I already know what you are. You been whoring for pay, right? Okay, so it's not money, but the principle's the same. You're a pro, now. So you can help me make a few bucks."

Still trying to keep herself covered, Helen said, "Let me up! I want to go. I'll scream."

Two of the men were black. She would never let a black man touch her. The other two were just as bad, Mexicans or Porto Ricans or something. The eyes of all four were beady with lust.

"Yeah? You want the last picture, don't you? Come on, what's the harm? If it'll get you the picture . . ."

Helen implored, "Please, Dick. I can't. I'd die of shame."

"Hey, you said you'd do anything for the picture, right? Remember? It was a promise."

"I didn't know. I can't." Helen started to cry.

"So you're breaking your promise to me. Okay. Forget it, fellas, the lady don't want to cooperate. Keep your money in your pockets. Hey, take a look at this," he said, "it's a picture of the lady's husband. Maybe he'll be more cooperative. We'll get him down here."

"Thass huh husban'?" one of the men asked. "Shee-it. He look like a fag to me. What she marry him for? Which one is him?"

"The one with the mustache. Okay, that's enough, you'll get plenty of chances to look at it. I'm gonna get some copies made and I'll pass 'em around."

Helen's shoulders slumped.

"Wait. I'll do it."

Her entire body shook as she lay back on the bed, knees up, stockings pulling against the garters, heels indenting the mattress. She held her arms down at her side. If they wanted to look, let them. It was the last time. She could endure it.

"Now you're being smart. Who's first? You, Gonzales?"

Dick Turner held his hand out, and the man put two bills in his palm, turned to her, and unzipped his fly.

He didn't remove his clothes. He unbuckled his pants, slipped them and his shorts down around his thighs. Holding them, he pranced over and leaped on her.

There were cheers from the others. His prick looked strange to Helen. Hideous. The foreskin was apparently too tight to draw back when he was erect; it covered the head, its opening gaping painfully; the strain made the skin shine brightly.

His clothing was rough against her torso as he lay on her and punched his prick forward between her legs. It jammed against the wrong place, but she winced and lifted her hips and made the thing slip down to her vagina.

"Ay de mí! Ay, ay, ay," he said.

The organ slipped in on Helen's juices easily. It shoved back and forth with violence, but wasn't large enough to hurt her.

Desperately conscious of the other men watching, Helen accommodated him. Her insides, despite all she could do to prevent them, were coalescing into a burning, sensitive complex. Maybe she was a whore like Dick Turner said. Her knees lifted higher and spread wider to allow the brown man's pubic area to massage her clitoris.

She hadn't meant to do that; her body had responded on its own.

The prick was jamming in and out.

She panted, breasts heaving. She was a prostitute now, with a pimp taking money for her services. The thought was abhorrent but no sooner had it entered her mind than she spasmed and CAME, cunt seizing violently.

Her head snapped back. She was not aware of the moan that issued from her lips.

He rammed in, balls pushing against her, and the sudden warm surge of liquid in her vagina sent her over the edge again, and she CAME, shuddering, clenching her teeth and whining.

When he was through he pulled out, still stiff, and she felt a sense of loss. It was not like Jack or Suzie, who held her while their cocks softened.

"Go ahead, Julius. You like white pussy, don't you?" Dick Turner said.

The men laughed as the tall black man paid him and moved toward her shucking off his clothes.

Julius's member was enormous, bigger even than Jack's, long and thick, and oh, my God, dark brown with a deep maroon head. His pubic hair was kinked in little individual corns.

Oh God it was too humiliating. She couldn't possibly.

He lay on her, thick lips above hers.

Helen began to cry again.

The black dong was massive. When it pushed clumsily on her, its very inertia moved her pelvis. It found her hole, but nothing happened at first; it was too big to go in, until semen from the Spaniard, what was his name, Gonzales, eased the way and let it stretch the entrance to her vagina. As it sank slowly forward it forced her open, dragging tender tissue with it, pulling her clitoris's foreskin down to send sensation rocketing through her vulva.

Helen moaned, "Oo-ooh." Her mind went strange.

She was accustomed to seeing the world from a point just behind her eyes, her perspective from inside to out. She was the center; as she moved through physical space, the world stood still so she remained at the center of it all.

Now she was outside herself, seeing her enticing white body from another point in the room. She was beautiful, more beautiful than she had known, fair skin and voluptuous curves, rich brown hair curling over her shoulders and breasts, eyes now swollen and red but promising the blue of clear skies, youthful for her thirty-five years, glowing with a pregnancy not yet disclosed to the eye, giving off an aura of sensuality so profound it took away your breath, yet unmistakably a lady of refinement and charm, no wonder Dick Turner had been captivated, she almost hated the beauty she saw because it had got her into this mess-- and as she watched, the gorilla pumped in her. Her lovely form was contorted with the effort to accept his obscenely engorged pole,

His ass lifted to draw the black organ out of her almost to its tip; the thing was glistening with the mixture of her juices and Gonzales's sperm; pushed down and forward again to shove deep into the secret pink recesses of her vagina, until her humid stiff clitoris was buried in his kinky pubic hairs.

She saw her body flinch, then undulate as a racking series of orgasms overtook it. The black man's mouth covered hers; the movement of his tongue showed through her cheeks. Her eyes were wide open, bright with tears, unseeing. Her arms held him to her as his strokes got shorter and quicker, heavy black balls slapping repeatedly against her perineum.

She was never very sure what happened after that. The other two took her, she knew, but she couldn't remember it.

She had gone away, leaving her body behind to spend itself in heart- stopping orgasms and ecstatic sensation. She had nothing to do with it; she was a child again playing in a meadow somewhere.

At last a message traveled along the thin thread that still bound her to her treasonous body and told her it was over, she could come back now. Though she tried to resist, the thread thickened into an elastic integument that drew her back with increasing speed, finally snapping her into her physical body.

The men had gone; she was alone. She ached all over. Between her open legs the complex of lips, sensory organs and orifices, including her anus, was swollen, feverish, and sore. Her mouth was spermy. It came to her that they had each used her more than once, and in parts she hadn't known about.

When she sat up, a gush of slippery fluid drenched the sheet under her. A moment later the wetness increased as a surprisingly hot spray issued from between the puffy labia. She had lost control of her bladder. She had no desire to do anything about it; she continued to sit on the edge of the bed pissing numbly all over herself.

Some indefinite amount of time passed before she made herself get up and walk step by step, holding her legs apart, into the bathroom and stand under the shower. Her first thought, as she dried herself, was a weary It's over. This had been the last time. She could go home now and tell herself she had done her duty: she had saved her husband.

She was so alone. There was no one she could turn to for comfort. She wanted to go out to the farm and have Jack and Suzie hold her and pet her, and, yes, even make love to her to exorcise the abomination of the last few hours; but she couldn't. She was too ashamed. She would go home, give Howard the final picture, make him listen to everything she could remember of the ordeal, and go to sleep and heal.

She had just finished pinning up her hair and was about to pick up her purse to go--she opened it to make sure the picture was still there- -when Dick Turner walked in.

He looked odiously cheerful.

"You did real good," he said. "Real good. I thought I would cream in my jeans when you sucked Julius off while Hernando was sticking it up your ass. You're gonna be one of my best girls. Think of today as an initiation. Tuesday we'll have some real customers for you."

"What do you mean? That was the last picture."

"Yeah, the last picture of your husband. I thought you might like to buy some of this new batch. Take a look at these. They're only Polaroids, they're not as sharp and artistic as the ones the big camera took through the mirror, but they'll show you what I mean."

Helen leafed through them with trembling fingers. She went to pieces. Her body shook. They showed every lascivious detail of the past hours. Mrs. Myers in an orgy with four colored persons. Perfect for the Ladies Auxiliary.

She raised her eyes tragically to his.

"Why do you hate me so? What did I ever do to you?"

He said viciously, "Because all you dames born with a silver spoon in your mouth and a husband to keep you in minks are so hoity-toity. You would never look at a guy without money. There were lots of times when you didn't even see me in the street when I wanted to talk to you. Then I became owner of the hotel. But you still wouldn't give me the time of day. I made myself a promise I was gonna make you pay for it. Now I got you where I want you."

"Dick, please . . ."

"You like those pictures? Keep 'em for your scrap book. I got the professional ones. Tuesday be here at two, you'll work until six. I got three guests lined up for you already. Same thing on Saturday. We'll see how things go. If I need you more often I'll let you know. Beat it now. I'd throw another bang into you, but I don't usually mess with the help."

Chapter 11

Leslie parked a block away from Mel's apartment and sat for a moment before getting out of the car. He shivered.

It was a mean afternoon even for November. Piles of dirty snow lined the sidewalks; a cold wind mourned along the street, pushing against the car from time to time, making it rock. The sky was bright pewter.

He could have parked right in front of the entrance, he thought wryly. Who was he fooling? By this time everybody in the neighborhood must know what was going on. For the last two months he had practically been living in Mel's apartment. He arrived in the afternoons, even before Mel was home, cleaned the house and made dinner, and stayed until late in the evening. Sometimes, when he thought he could get away with it, he told his mother he'd be staying over with Joan or the Landons, and would spend all night with Mel, and then have to worry about sneaking out the next morning.

Those times were the joy of his life, drifting into slumber with his lover's arms around him, rectum throbbing contentedly, waking in the night to snuggle warm against him, and in the mornings to receive Mel in him again, sleepy and dreamy and relaxed. At times, especially after his monthly hormone shot, he had no sexual desire of his own. It was then that he felt most keenly the sense of giving himself to Mel, giving himself to be used for the man's satisfaction. He loved it; it was its own reward.

He was happier than he had ever been, and held on to that happiness jealously. It was so fragile; anything could go wrong. His mother might find out. Or somebody might discover his true gender, making it impossible for Mel, who had recently been promoted to Chief of Detectives, to see him any more. Life was full of uncertainties; in the meantime he would take what he could get.

When he opened the car door the chill wind blew in. It lifted his miniskirt--much too short for this kind of weather--as he walked down the sidewalk. He shuddered and drew his coat closer. Most girls his age thought nothing of wearing pants--blue jeans, slacks, whatever-- especially in the wintertime, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. He supposed it was because he lacked the inborn confidence in his femininity that they had. They had nothing to prove. They were born female and lived their lives as females. On the other hand, he seemed to be spending his life proving he was a girl instead of a boy. Never mind, if it could get him the companionship of a man like Mel, it was all worth it.

That nice Mrs. Miller was coming up the street, hurrying back to her office after lunch. He returned her shy smile. She was some kind of professional, an accountant, he remembered. It hadn't seemed to harden her, the way it seemed to do with others who had to prove they were as good as men. She had a dress and heels, too, and looked every bit as cold as he was.

His legs were freezing. So was his pubic region. He wasn't wearing panties. Mel liked him that way.

It made him feel daring. Before Mel, he would have been horrified. But the man gave him confidence, and when he found out how excited it made Mel to think of him naked under his skirt, and even to take a secret opportunity to run his hand up his behind and probe him with a finger in public, Leslie was more often panty-less than not. It was exciting for him, too. Now, for example. If he wasn't wearing a coat, the wind would surely whip the miniskirt up high enough so everyone could see his bare ass.

That's all they would see, however, for the cold had made his penis small and caused the scrotal skin that encased it to shrink tight against his crotch. There would be no sign of his masculinity. Not like in warm weather, when his cock was swollen lazily and his scrotum was relaxed so the vaginal "lips" drooped, and you might possibly see there was something wrong with the setup.

It was surprising how many of Mel's neighbors he had come to recognize. Here came the little redheaded girl who lived down the block. Clutching his coat tight against a gust, he imitated her rueful it's- too-cold look. She was homely--freckles and a big nose and eyes that were too close together--until she smiled, and then she seemed to light the whole area up. She looked nice. Mel had told him she was married to the blond person in the restaurant that night. Leslie wondered how that worked. For him to wear dresses and sell his favors to men and then come home to bed with a wife. It sounded like schizophrenia. Well, he was living a kind of schizophrenic existence himself, hiding his relationship with Mel from his mother when he was so full of joy he was bursting to tell the world.

One of these days he'd make the redhead's acquaintance, and through her, her husband's. He'd love to meet another boy in dresses. He wouldn't dare say anything about himself, though. Just meeting him would have to be enough.

He let himself in, shucked off his coat and stood shivering next to the radiator until he warmed up. He straightened the apartment, collected Mel's shirt and shorts from yesterday for the hamper, and put a roast in the oven for dinner. He went to the bathroom and sat down; hot liquid sprayed from the aperture in his crotch. Before flushing the toilet he wiped himself, pushing to squeeze out the last drops, but as usual his penis remained wet inside.

He ran into the living room when he heard Mel come in.

The man looked at him poker-faced. "Who are you? What are you doing here?"

Leslie tried to keep the happy smile from his lips. "I'm a burglar, but please, sir, don't call the police. I'll do anything you want."

"A burglar, eh? Turn around, brace yourself against the wall. That's right. Spread 'em." His foot nudged Leslie's ankles apart.

"Oh, please, sir, I'll never do it again."

He felt something icy and hard touch his wrist. Too late he tried to pull his arm away. The handcuffs ratcheted closed.

"Mel! What are you doing?"

Mel twisted the other wrist behind his back and secured the cuff. Leslie pulled at the unyielding bracelets. He couldn't believe it. The man had actually handcuffed him. He started to laugh, but it was kind of scary. He really was helpless.

"Mel, stop! This isn't funny."

"You have the right to remain silent, you have the right to put out for me, and if you don't put out for me something hard will be held against you."

Leslie giggled hysterically. "Mel, let me go. It's not fair." He made his voice sultry. "If you let me go I'll fix you a nice martini."

Mel turned him so they were facing. "Yeah? A martini?" he said absently. "Let's see, now, gotta frisk you."

He slid his hands up the inside of Leslie's thighs. Leslie jumped and tried to twist away. The man's hand, cold from the outside, cupped his furry genitals. It made him feel horribly defenseless.

"Don't!" he squeaked.

Mel hooked his forefinger under the root of the hidden penis and tugged. It made a wet kissing noise as it came out. The air chilled it. Having someone else pull it from its hiding place gave Leslie a strange feeling, reinforcing the sense of helplessness.

"I knew it, a concealed weapon. What else you got on you?"

Oh, God, now Mel was handling him, touching him all over, unzipping his dress in back and pulling down his front to fondle his breasts. Leslie's skin prickled. He panted. His cock stood up straight, holding the miniskirt out. Handcuffed like this, helpless to resist, he was excruciatingly aroused.

Mel forced him back against the wall and knelt in front of him, lifting his dress.

"No, don't," Leslie gasped. "I just went to the bathroom. It's all--"

The man held him by the hips, opened his mouth, and took the moist penis in.

Mel's tongue wrapped itself around it, luscious and slippery and unbearably thrilling. Leslie had no control of the situation: the man could do anything he wanted with him. Mel gobbled the organ; its taste and smell seemed to stimulate him.

There was suction. Leslie quivered; the vacuum seemed about to draw the semen from his glands.

He moaned weakly. His genitals were gathering, ready to spew. He didn't want it, not yet, not yet.

At the last possible moment Mel let go.

Leslie gasped, concentrating on not coming. His prick twitched abortively a few times, but he managed to restrain himself.

"Okay, burglar," Mel said, "I got you where I want you. You gotta do what I say."

He took him by the elbow and impelled him into the bedroom and pushed him down on the bed.

Leslie winced as the cuffs dug into the small of his back. His dress was in disarray, top pulled down to his waist, skirt above his cock, showing the tops of his stockings and his garters.

Fright had caused his breasts to leak. Milk dribbled from his nipples, trickling down the curves of his breasts. He was a mess.

Delirious with excitement, he watched Mel undress. An inarticulate sound escaped his lips as the man's prick bounced loose from the confining shorts. He shivered in anticipation.

Leslie had never seen his lover so aroused. Mel's face was pale as he sat on the bed next to him. The head of his prick was shiny with strain; the orifice in the tip was palpitating. His eyes were blank, turned inward, pondering God-only-knew what internal vision.

He touched Leslie's milk-wet breast and looked at his finger. Leaning over, he leisurely licked the breast, taking his time about it, sure that Leslie couldn't interrupt him. The tongue was driving Leslie wild. It moved over the surface of his tits. His belly muscles tightened; his nipples shriveled erect, sending out a few more drops.

Mel's mouth fastened contemplatively to a nipple and a gentle suction began. The thrumming sensation of milk flowing out was indescribably poignant. A pang of ecstasy traveled to his groin. He writhed under Mel's ministrations.

The man was in no hurry. Steadily, calmly, with only a hint of stiffness in his body to betray his sexual tension, he drained the breast and started on the other. When that breast, too, had flattened and became so sensitive that Leslie couldn't keep from whining, Mel gave a final suck, clamping tightly with his lips, stretching the nipple upward until it popped out of his mouth.

Leslie squealed as his legs were forced up, bending him at the waist until his knees pressed into the mattress on either side of his head. His anus and the folded scrotal skin welded to his crotch were on display. His own erection stared him in the face.

He gave a shuddering moan when Mel's tongue speared into his asshole, reaming it deeply. After what seemed an eternity of erotic delight, the tongue retracted and moved sloppily to the opening of the skin bag. Leslie had a sudden vision of himself long ago putting his tongue in his mother's vagina. The "pocket" was still wet from his trip to the bathroom, but that didn't deter Mel. For a long, breathless time the tongue moved in and out, unendurably thrilling.

Leslie gasped, "D-don't. No more. You're going to make me come too soon."

Mel, in complete charge, disregarded his words and continued the sensuous massage.

Leslie couldn't help himself.

"I'm going to come. Please. Oh, yes, you can do anything you want with me. Make me come in my own mouth."

He parted his lips, seeing the head of his prick swell with passion and the orifice in the tip gape wetly. He jumped when Mel's fingers clasped the shaft and directed the first spurt straight into his mouth. It splashed warm and viscous. He swallowed; then flinched as succeeding gouts wet his lips and nose and cheeks.

When the spouting stopped and his cock lost some of its rigidity between Mel's fingers, the man leaned close and sucked the last dribble from it.

He pulled Leslie's legs down to let them lie flat; straddled his chest, leaned forward, and poked his cock urgently against Leslie's lips. Heart pounding, Leslie obligingly opened his mouth. The prick shoved in, heavy and stiff.

Leslie writhed. He wanted to hold the organ, but his wrists were cuffed under him.

Mel pulled back, punched forward again, demanding. Leslie realized he wasn't blowing his lover, the man was fucking his mouth. There was nothing Leslie could do but lie there and take it. He choked when Mel's cock gained depth and began to enter his gullet; sputtered when a jet of semen erupted against his tonsils; and endured the gushing desperately, swallowing as best he could. The smell of his lover's balls was in his nostrils, mixing with the slippery taste of sperm.

Air whistled through his nose and his chest heaved until Mel withdrew.

The man turned him over and unlocked the handcuffs. Leslie rubbed his wrists and sat up.

"You brute."

A smug expression grew on Mel's face.

Leslie said, "You raped me."

Mel looked pleased with himself.

Leslie couldn't keep the corners of his lips from quirking upwards. "You beast, you just went ahead and did what you wanted to me."

Mel nodded agreeably.

"Oh!" Leslie flipped over onto his stomach, trying to look outraged.

His bottom stung as Mel slapped it.

"Come on, let's have some dinner. I'm starved."

Leslie had to laugh. "Dinner! You want me to give you dinner after using me for your own selfish ends? You are a beast." He got up. "I have to take a shower first, I'm all gucky."

"C'mere, I'll clean you up."

"Oh no you don't. You've done quite enough, thank you. --Oh! Look what you did to me, you awful man."

"What?"

"My breasts, can't you see?"

They had been emptied. They no longer had their usual up-tilted round appearance; they hung flaccid and pendulous.

Mel said, "Tsk, tsk. Maybe there's a little left. C'mere, let's see."

"Ugh! Don't touch me." Softly, "I'll be right out."

He put his dress on a hanger in the bathroom so the steam would take the wrinkles out and showered, thinking about what had taken place. Leslie was thrilled. The handling Mel had given him had been one of the most exciting things he had ever experienced. His heart was full of joy.

Somehow Mel had guessed secrets that even Leslie hadn't known. Or maybe they were Mel's secrets. Mel must have fantasies of his own, and whatever they were, they dovetailed with urges that had been buried deep inside Leslie waiting for the right trigger to make themselves known.

He put on fresh lipstick and marched naked out to the kitchen. As he passed through the living room, Mel, equally nude, was reading the paper, feet on the coffee table, prick lax on his thigh. The big slob. Leslie tied on his apron. A small frilly thing without much functional value, it went from the tips of his slack breasts to just below his crotch. At least it could protect his penis from grease splatters. Leslie wondered if Mel would like it if he got himself up as a French maid to serve him. He'd borrow one of Angie's uniforms tomorrow to try it out.

He took the roast out of the oven. It was just right, pink inside. He called Mel to the table. Leslie tried to maintain an aggrieved silence, but the man wasn't having any, so he gave up, asked Mel about his day, and chatted amiably with him. There was a special feeling of intimacy eating dinner naked with his lover. He thought Mel was the handsomest man he had ever seen. That sandy hair and hazel eyes. His chest was only lightly endowed with hair, but he was all man, muscular and clean and straight.

When they finished dinner Leslie stood next to him to take his empty plate. Mel's arm came around his bare ass and held him close. Leslie leaned against him, feeling happy.

"Mel? You can do that to me any time."

"Yeah? You liked it, huh?"

"I adored it."

Mel took the plates from him and set them down on the table. "Let those go for now. Come over to the couch and sit on my lap. You look really cute in your little apron. Maybe you'll let me see what's under it."

Leslie laughed. "Sex, sex, sex, that's all you think about." He let himself be led over to the couch and sat on Mel's lap and put his arms sweetly around his neck. They held each other like children, skin warm against skin.

Leslie said, "You liked having me in your power, didn't you?"

"Yeah, I really did." Mel admitted. "Maybe that's why I like being a cop; I like to be in charge."

"I liked it too, so we're a good match. It's so wonderful being here with you."

After a moment Leslie asked shyly, "Did you like--kissing--me down there?"

"Yeah. Did you?"

"Oh, yes. But I meant, you know, the place where I tinkle."

Mel whispered, "Yeah. Was it all right?"

"It was wonderful. Oh-oh, what's that?"

Something hard was growing under his bottom.

His own penis warmed; the apron rose.

Mel said, "I don't know. Let's go back in the bedroom and find out what it's for."

He carried him to the bed.

"Please," Leslie whispered. "Put it in me, darling. I want to feel your big prick moving in me. Make me come by fucking me."

After two months they had come to know each other's needs and reactions. By interrupting their rhythm at the right moment to allow one or the other to regain control, they were able to make their lovemaking last, and finally to ejaculate at the same moment.

Leslie's ass was sore from friction and stretching, but he was full of rapture.

He leaned his head on Mel's chest, hearing the slow, muffled, comforting sound of his heartbeat.

"I have to go soon," he said softly. "Do you want me to do anything more for you before I leave?"

He touched Mel's cock, fat and soft in his grasp.

Mel said, "Don't go. Stay the night, why don't you?"

"I'd love to, but I can't. Mom's expecting me."

"Call her."

"Oh, Mel, you know I can't do that."

"Why not? She probably knows about us already. She's not stupid, you know. Besides, you told me she and Mrs. Argentina sleep together. All the more reason she'd understand about us."

For a moment Leslie allowed himself to dream. Wouldn't it be nice if they had his mother's approval? He said, "She still thinks of me as a little girl."

"Yeah, I know, you said that before. But I don't think you're giving her enough credit. I bet if you talk to her you'd be surprised. Anyway, for God's sake, it was her idea for you to wear dresses and have tits. What'd she expect when you grew up?"

"I know, I know," Leslie said soothingly, "I will. I'll talk to her. But not yet." He really thought he might do it.

"It's just--I don't like this sneaking around. I been working myself up to ask you to move in with me. I mean, people do it all the time. Nobody knows you're not a girl, it would be okay."

Leslie shivered. Mel wanted him to live with him. Oh, if they only could. It would be heaven. To sleep with Mel every night, to keep his house for him, to bring him his pipe and slippers--except he didn't smoke and had no slippers--to be, well, his mistress, not just a girl friend. He sighed.

"Mom would flip."

"Let her. You're twenty, Leslie. You can do what you want."

"Yes, and then what? You know if she wanted to she could have you fired, and then where would we be?"

"I don't care about the damn' job. All I care about is you. I love you, don't you understand that? If she puts on the pressure we can move to another town. I can always get a job."

"You love me?"

"Sure I do, you know that."

"You never told me."

"Well, I do. That's why I want you to be with me."

"I'm so happy. I love you too." Leslie put his arms around him and squeezed close. He put his face up to be kissed, and luxuriated in the wet, meaty presence of Mel's tongue in his mouth.

Leslie said, "All right, I'll speak to her. Somehow."

Chapter 1

Mrs. Chard looked up from her desk when Mrs. Argentina entered the office without knocking.

"Hi, stranger! How was the city?"

"Fine. What are you doing working in the middle of the morning?" There was an air of suppressed exuberance about her.

"Something you should be doing too. Arranging to have Leslie's birth certificate altered to show he's a girl. Remember how easy it was to unmask the facts about Suzanne Landon? I want to make sure that never happens to Leslie. The grammar-school records have to be changed, too. If you want, I can have Mr. Greenspan do the same thing for Joan."

"Oh, would you? You're so clever, Estelle. I would never have thought of it."

She was radiant in a wine-red cashmere sheath.

"You're chipper this morning," Mrs. Chard said.

Mrs. Argentina's generous lips curved in a delighted grin. "I am. It's a wonderful day, isn't it? Makes you glad to be alive."

Mrs. Chard glanced sharply at her friend. Through the office window the sky was uniformly leaden; a grim, cold drizzle was turning the snow gray; and the ancient oaks on the lawn were sere and dark and barren. Far from a "wonderful" day.

"All right," she smiled, "what's going on?"

Mrs. Argentina gave her an innocent look. "I don't know what you mean."

"Come on, Marie. Something nice has happened and you're dying to tell me, you know you are."

Mrs. Argentina laughed. "All right. You wormed it out of me." Twin spots of color appeared on her cheekbones. "I spent the weekend with him."

"Him? Who?"

"Harold, of course. I told you about him."

Harold? Who was Harold? Oh, yes. Marie had mentioned a man she had met at a cocktail party in the city. Harold something-or-other. Jorgenson, that's what it was. She hadn't paid any attention. The idea that Marie might become romantically involved with a man was ludicrous.

Mrs. Chard stared.

"You spent the weekend with him?"

"Yes! Isn't it wonderful? Oh, Estelle, I feel like a teenager again."

"Why, Marie."

The color on Mrs. Argentina's cheeks deepened. "I know, I know. It just happened, that's all. I had a little too much to drink, you know how tipsy I get on just a glass of champagne, and he asked me over to his condo. All at once I thought, why not? I mean, it would be something new. And he seemed so gentle I wasn't afraid."

"Marie! I'm astonished. Tell me everything. Did he make advances?"

"Just as soon as we got in the door! He sat down next to me and we kissed a lot. Like children at a drive-in movie. I swear, Estelle, I melted, absolutely melted. He was so tender and romantic, but so . . . so much in charge. When he led me to the bedroom I just went with him. Then I let him undress me, it was like I was hypnotized, and he kissed me all over. His mustache tickled, but I swear I've never been so ready."

Marie with a man! It was incredible. Mrs. Chard had enough insight into her own conduct to know that her avoidance of men was due to fear of them, not hatred. Her husband had been rough and insensitive and frightening, and although she knew intellectually that not all men were that way, emotionally she couldn't bring herself to have any physical connection with one.

But Marie's experience with her own former husband had left her with what appeared to be a deep-seated hostility, a loathing for males. She had hated her son until his penis was concealed under a dress. This was a new and astounding development. In fact, it was alarming. All these years Mrs. Chard hadn't understood her friend as well as she thought she had.

Mrs. Argentina looked down, long eyelashes hiding her thoughts. "You remember when you used to let me, ah, borrow Leslie, and taught me that new way of making love to him? Being on top, I mean, with my legs between his. It was almost like I was the man and he was the girl, and his little thing was so comfortable I could hardly tell if he was in me or I was in him."

Mrs. Chard remembered. She had originated that position the very first time she brought Leslie into her bed. Even though he was wearing a frilly nightgown, totally under her control, her fears had led her to assume a dominant stance. It was so rewarding she hadn't been able to resist telling Mrs. Argentina after they became intimate. Her friend was aroused by her description, and begged her to let Leslie come to bed with them. From then on they shared him frequently, at least until Mrs. Chard got involved with that sweet little Alice and had introduced her to Mrs. Argentina, and they had become wholly lesbian.

Poor Leslie had been left out, but he hadn't seemed to mind. He and Johnny played together; they often spent the night at each other's house. Mrs. Chard sometimes wondered if they ever masturbated in front of each other. Boys in puberty.

Mrs. Argentina went on. "Harold let me do that with him, but it wasn't the same. He's much bigger than Leslie, and I couldn't pretend it was me inside him. Estelle, it was thrilling. It was so big, but it didn't hurt a bit. The next time I let him be on top. I was scared at first, but it was just as thrilling, more, even." She looked up, dark eyes lambent with humor. "It's disgraceful, I know, so normal!" She laughed.

Mrs. Chard laughed with her, but had a pang of jealousy. They had never been exclusive lovers--after all, there was Alice, and before her, Leslie--but there was a tacit understanding that they would share any others they met. Harold was a man, however. That let Mrs. Chard out. She thought, It's like Marie is cheating on me.

Mrs. Argentina's story had turned her on, despite the jealousy.

"Let's go in the conference room." Her voice was husky.

"Oh, good. Just thinking about Harold gets me warm."

The "conference room" had been built by Mrs. Chard's grandfather as a kind of priest's hole, a quasi-secret room adjacent to the office, entrance to which was gained by a swinging bookshelf that concealed a doorway. The room did have windows, but there were so many others in the side of the mansion that nobody ever realized there was an extra room with no apparent entrance. Mrs. Chard had furnished it as a comfortable sitting room. It had a day-bed, and a small lavatory. Not many people were privy to its existence, only the servants and family.

There was a timid knock on the door.

"Oh, damn," Mrs. Chard said. She gave Mrs. Argentina a rueful look. It could only be Leslie or Joan, and it must be fairly important, because they knew better than to disturb her in her study. "Come in."

Leslie peeped in. "I didn't know you were busy. I'll come back."

He looked frightened.

Mrs. Chard said with more good humor than she felt, "No, it's all right, dear. Come in."

Leslie entered tentatively. He was wearing a darling pleated woolen skirt and nylon blouse under a loose sweater. Argyle knee socks rose from his penny-loafers.

"Hi, Mrs. Argentina." He curtsied, a childish habit Mrs. Chard had taught him many years ago.

He turned to Mrs. Chard. "N-no, I'll come back. I wanted to see you privately."

"Nonsense, Leslie. Mrs. Argentina is part of the family. We have no secrets from her. What is it?"

Leslie looked disconcerted. "All right."

He stood collecting himself.

"All right," he repeated. "I, um, well, I want to move in with Mel."

His face turned scarlet.

Mrs. Chard felt her half-smile fade. "I don't understand."

"I want to live over there. In Mel's apartment."

"But why on earth?"

He got even redder. "I just do, that's all."

She tried to make sense out of it. "I must have misunderstood something. You want to be roommates with Melvin? What would people say? They think you're a girl. They'd think something immoral was going on."

"Let them think what they want. That's what you always say."

"Leslie, how bizarre. What on earth ever gave you this notion? Have you mentioned it to Melvin?"

"It was his idea."

"But how will you pay your share of the rent? Your allowance?"

"He'll pay the rent."

"Now, Leslie, you know it's not possible. Be sensible."

He didn't respond. There was a stubborn expression on his red face.

She had rarely seen her son stand up to her like this. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Mrs. Argentina hide a smile. Mrs. Chard's back stiffened. "Answer me when I speak to you, Leslie."

"What do you want me to say?"

"I want you to explain. Why do you want to move out? Don't you have everything you want here?"

Leslie took a deep breath. "It's not that. I love him." His voice got a musical maturity. "We love each other. We want to live together."

Mrs. Chard sat down. She burst out, "Love him! Leslie! You're both boys!"

"I don't care. Anyway, I thought you wanted me to be a girl, Mom."

She stuttered, "B-but that's just f-for pretend."

"Some pretend. It's been seven years. You turned me into a girl, Mom, and now I like it. Girls go with men, you know."

Mrs. Chard fought to keep herself from fainting. There must be something she could say.

She took another tack. "What is it, Leslie?" she wheedled. "Do you have . . . unsatisfied urges? I'm sorry. I know I've been neglecting you. But I'll make it up to you. You should have said something. I thought, when you stopped approaching me, that perhaps you and Joan," Mrs. Chard shot a look at Mrs. Argentina, "were, ah, playing with each other. But, dear, I'll be happy to, ah, take care of you."

Mrs. Argentina came to the rescue. She walked toward Leslie.

"Now, darling, let's not decide anything rashly. Your mother's right. Think. Melvin's a normal man with normal desires. You couldn't, well, accommodate him, could you? You're not built that way. Do you see? And suppose somebody found out about you?"

"Yes!" exclaimed Mrs. Chard. "Suppose somebody found out? What would happen to your reputation, not to speak of Melvin's? He'd be fired. His life would be ruined. If you truly loved him, as you say you do, you wouldn't take the risk."

"We talked about all that. He says he can get another job. In some other town."

"But this--is so-- But you're not, ah, that way. Remember what happened with Alice. And I refuse to believe Melvin is either."

"Please, Mom, believe me. We love each other and want to live together. We're going to do it."

Mrs. Argentina took Leslie's manicured hands in her own.

"Leslie, dear," she said softly. "Listen to your mother. This whole thing is due to unsatisfied desires. Rather than experiment in some grotesque way, don't you remember how nice it was when you and I enjoyed each other? Come, let me remind you. We'll go into the conference room, just you and I."

She pushed the edge of the bookcase, releasing the spring catch. The entire unit swung ponderously open, revealing the adjacent room. She put her arm around Leslie's waist and urged him through the door. He turned his head to look at his mother, a desperate expression in his eyes.

Mrs. Chard made a reassuring smile. "Go ahead, Leslie. It's all right. Everybody has needs that have to be gratified. When you're not so tense you'll see this fancy for what it is."

The bookshelf closed behind them, but not before Mrs. Chard saw her friend beginning to unbutton her son's blouse.

Legs shaking, she sat behind the desk. She felt sick. Oh, God, what next? Thank heavens Leslie had come to her before committing himself to this peculiar whimsy. What on earth had got into him?

The answer was transparently clear. Marie was right. He had been deprived of sex, and somehow . . . somehow things had got turned around in his mind so that he was looking to the first man who befriended him, probably afraid to expose his secret to a girl. She was grateful to Marie. She was just what he needed to come to his senses. They would have to make sure the pressures wouldn't build up again. She'd have to do her part.

She had a moment's uneasiness at the thought. Leslie wasn't as young and biddable as he had been at thirteen and fourteen. But it would be all right--his body was feminine, except for that thing, which seemed to be at the root of all the trouble in the world. She and Marie had once discussed the possibility of complete sex-change operations for the boys. If they had gone through with them, that thing would be gone.

She caught herself. What good would that do? If Leslie were completely female, he'd be at liberty to associate with men freely, just as he was proposing to do with Melvin. As it was, having to be so careful not to give himself away had kept him from experimenting. It was only the worst bad luck that he had met a man who knew about him and wanted to be close to him anyway. Thank God Leslie had come to her before doing anything about it, she thought again. She was sure that she and Marie could nip the situation in the bud.

Something had to be done about Melvin. He couldn't be permitted to go on seeing Leslie. She'd have to be careful, though. With Leslie in this mood she didn't dare risk having the man fired or transferred to another community. She might pull some strings, though. Have a big-city police force offer him a job so important he couldn't turn it down. He was capable and intelligent; he'd do well anywhere.

Well, there was no rush. They had the situation under control, she was sure, and she could afford to take time to sleep on it.

More than an hour later the bookshelf opened noiselessly. Mrs. Argentina came out, looking flushed.

Mrs. Chard said, "Well?"

"I think she's all right. At least, she reacted normally enough. Better than normally," she smiled. "She did it twice. It was lovely, Estelle. She hasn't forgotten a thing we taught her about how to use her tongue, and when she was on top of me--oh, yes, I thought that would be best for her sake--it was just like a woman with a dildo, only nicer. Not so cold. Remember?"

Mrs. Chard nodded. She and Mrs. Argentina had experimented. It had been cold, and neither had liked it much.

"She's bigger than she used to be, too. If you want, you can send her over to stay with me tonight. I have to go down to see Harold in the morning, but in the meantime, anything I can do to help."

"Thank you, Marie. I want to talk to Leslie first, to be sure she's gotten this idea out of her system."

Mrs. Argentina bent over and hugged Mrs. Chard. "Don't worry, Estelle. Everything will be all right, you'll see."

When her friend had gone Mrs. Chard took a deep breath and entered the conference room.

Leslie was sitting on the edge of the rumpled day-bed, tweed skirt pulled up, doing something to himself. After a moment she realized he was inserting his penis into its place of concealment. It was wet.

He looked up with a hunted expression, blushed, hastily pulled the skirt down.

She sat next to him and put her arm around his shoulders. He was trembling.

"How do you feel?"

"Not too good." His tone was subdued, and he didn't look at her.

"Why? Marie said you were just wonderful. She's such a dear. She was helping you, reminding you how it is to have normal relations."

"If I'm so normal," he said sullenly, "then why am I wearing this?" He indicated his dress. "And why do I have breasts?"

"Oh, Leslie."

"Don't you see, Mom? I can never live a 'normal' life. I'm a girl now, and girls go with boys."

"But, Leslie," Mrs. Chard said helplessly, "You were able to . . . well, you know . . . with Marie. That proves you're normal. You wouldn't be happy in a relationship with another man."

"Yes I would. I am happy. I love Mel, and he loves me, and," his voice got small, "I love him to make love to me."

Mrs. Chard felt faint. "You love him to--? You had--sex--" she choked, "with him?"

Leslie ducked his head.

"But--"

She wanted to ask Leslie what they did together, but she was afraid he would tell her. With their mouths, ugh. Or, oh, God, like that football team. The nausea returned. She had exercised iron self-control back then to keep her composure for Leslie's sake, but she had been sick, nearly prostrated, for a week. Her darling little girl, boy, had been raped. And not even in the vagina. In the only hole they could find. They had held him down while one after the other put their things in his anus. She shuddered.

Mrs. Chard tried to think rationally. She numbered several gays among her acquaintances, and had never disparaged them. But then she had never actually thought about what they did together. Their mouths on each other. Her stomach churned.

She took a breath. It was only what she had done with Leslie back then when she wanted to arouse him again after he had ejaculated. She had liked it, and so had he. Women did it to men all the time.

Oh God, her baby with a man's erection--his penis--in his mouth! She wanted to cry.

Now stop, she told herself. She and Marie had illicit sex together, and used their lips and tongues on each other's genitals, didn't they? Was that so very much different?

Her mind said no, but her heart shouted Yes!

She controlled another shudder.

Leslie sniffled. A tear trickled down his cheek.

"What's the matter, dear?"

"She made me cheat on Mel. I wanted to be faithful to him."

"Leslie," she said desperately. "Leslie, look at me. I want you to promise me something. I want you to give me time to think about all this. Will you? Don't see Melvin for a while. Give me a chance to catch my breath. Will you do that for your mother?"

"How long?"

"Just a little while."

"A day?" he challenged.

"Please, Leslie." Mrs. Chard felt her face twist. Unshed tears burned her eyes. Her lip trembled as she repeated, "Please."

Leslie started crying again. He put his arms around her and said, "All right, Mom. Don't feel bad. Just because I love Mel doesn't mean I don't love you. A little while, but not too long. I need him."

Chapter 13

Helen followed the maid to the drawing room.

Jack's paintings had told her what it looked like; seeing it in person was interesting. It was large, high-ceilinged, and had an old- fashioned elegance that was daunting. It spoke of old wealth of a magnitude Helen couldn't imagine.

She had no idea why Mrs. Chard had asked her over, but the whole thing unnerved her. What if Mrs. Chard had somehow found out about her twice-weekly service as a prostitute for Dick Turner? He had agreed that all her customers would be from out of town, but she didn't trust him. Could one of them have recognized her and told Mrs. Chard? It didn't seem likely, but anything could happen. She would die, just die.

Or it could be Howard. She might have learned he was gay.

Helen knew she was thinking irrationally. There was no reason to believe that Mrs. Chard knew anything about them. She made herself be calm.

Mrs. Chard came forward with a welcoming smile. She was wearing a deceptively-simple shirtwaist dress colored the same pastel blue as her eyes. Helen suddenly felt overdressed in her going-to-a-tea-party paisley. She wondered again why she was here. Mrs. Chard had said something about wanting to chat, and would she have tea with her. Since they didn't know each other well, it was all very strange.

In Mrs. Chard's smile, Helen could see a hint of why Jack had painted her so sensually, but it was hard to believe that this cool, unruffled lady could ever be as relaxed and loving as the one Jack had portrayed.

Mrs. Chard took both her hands. "It's so good of you to come, Helen--may I call you that? I'm Estelle. Come in, come in. Sit down with me. Angie will bring us tea. It's so nice to be able to chat with you at last, without a lot of other people around."

The woman was positively gushing, Helen thought with surprise. She had met Mrs. Chard several times before but it had always been at formal affairs, soirees and the annual duty-dinners which she and Howard were obliged to attend, along with the other bank presidents and their wives. Mrs. Chard had always been correct and cordial, but aloof.

Mrs. Chard hooked her arm through Helen's and led her to a long, overstuffed sofa, the same one that had been in Jack's most recent painting. She felt odd sitting on it, as if she should take off her clothes and let Mrs. Chard rest her head on her lap.

The thought made her smile.

"It's good of you to have me, Estelle, but I confess I'm a little mystified."

Good heavens, she was using the same stilted language that seemed to come naturally to Mrs. Chard.

"Helen, I've wanted to get to know you for ever so long, but an occasion never came up. So at last I decided to make my own opportunity, so to speak."

Her demeanor was candid, but Helen was suspicious. The lady had something she wanted to talk about, but was equivocating delicately, taking her time to get around to it. She hoped it wasn't about Howard.

"I'm glad. I've wanted to know you better, too."

The maid brought in a tea service. Mrs. Chard poured.

"How is your husband? Such an efficient man, and he's doing such a splendid job at the bank. We're fortunate to have him. Profits go up every year," she smiled.

"He'll be happy to hear it," Helen said dryly. Well, it was nothing about Howard, at least.

"And your daughter and son-in-law?"

"They're fine. Jack's working hard, finishing a series of still lifes for Mr. Buffly."

"The gallery owner. I know him. An odd sort, but very nice in his way."

Odd was the word. Mr. Buffly took no pains to disguise his gayness. He fluttered, Helen thought. It was as if his name was an abbreviation of "butterfly."

Mrs. Chard said, "You're fortunate to have such a lovely family. Two grandchildren, isn't it? Suzanne's such a devoted mother. I met her when Marie--you know Marie Argentina--and I went over to commission our portraits. She's a lovely girl, and looks just like you."

"Yes, I'm very proud of her. She's a natural mother. She tells me," Helen hoped Mrs. Chard didn't notice her face getting pink, "there's going to be a third in five or six months." She took a sip of the tea.

Mrs. Chard leaned forward, looking at her intently.

"How delightful. But Helen, you're too young to be a grandmother three times over." Her laughter tinkled.

Helen joined her. "I was eighteen when Suzie was born, and she was very young, only fifteen, when she married Jack."

"My. Only fifteen. I didn't know children could get married so young even with their parents' consent."

Oh-oh.

Helen decided to be as forthright as possible in the circumstances and hope that Mrs. Chard would drop the subject before it got too sticky.

"They eloped, you see. They couldn't get a license from the state, but one of Jack's friends is a minister. He saw how sincere they were and married them. It worked out fine. Jack and Suzie are very happy together, very much in love. She's making him a wonderful wife."

Mrs. Chard said seriously, "I see. So, knowing all the circumstances, you approve?"

"Of course!"

"You see, that's why I wanted to chat with you. You've been through it. My Leslie says she's in love with a man and wants to live with him. I don't know what to think."

"Oh, dear, live with him?"

"In his apartment. Everyone would know."

"How old is Leslie?"

"Twenty."

"How long has she known the man?"

"Several months."

"Is he all right?"

"All right?" Mrs. Chard looked alarmed.

"I mean, does he have a job? Not a gigolo or a ruffian or something?"

"Oh, that. Yes, he's fine. Nice, steady young man."

"Well, Estelle, if you'll forgive me, I don't see there's much you can do about it. She's of age, she knows the man well enough, I presume. She has to make up her own mind. I've met Leslie, and she's a charming young lady with a good head on her shoulders. Perhaps it's wise for them to live together instead of jumping into marriage, for example. So many hasty marriages end in divorce these days. Don't worry, she'll make the right decision."

Mrs. Chard looked so woebegone that Helen patted her hand. The woman's face twisted as though she were going to cry.

Helen said, "I know, dear, children are worrisome at times. But things always seem to work out. The best we can do is hope that their own children worry them as much, to pay them back."

Visibly controlling herself, Mrs. Chard said, "You don't understand. Leslie isn't a girl. He's a boy."

Helen was struck dumb.

Mrs. Chard went on, "When he and little Johnny were very young, Marie and I thought it would be fun to have sweet little girls around the house instead of rowdy boys. We dressed them in girl's clothes."

Her eyes softened. "They were so pretty and demure. We didn't think we were doing anything terrible--after all, half the people in the world are female, what's two more? But we failed to realize they would grow up accustomed to their roles and actually seek to--be with--men . . . for a sexual relationship . . . when they matured. We thought, well, an understanding girl or something. Oh!" Mrs. Chard shuddered. "Oh, Helen, I can't bear to think of my darling Leslie in the arms of a man." Helen didn't know what to say. Helplessly, she patted the other woman's hand again.

Leslie and Joanie were boys? Like Suzie. Helen was flabbergasted. All this time and she had never suspected. Did Suzie know about them? She couldn't believe it; he would have said something.

"Does, does the man know?"

"Yes. He found out accidentally some time ago."

Those pretty young women had male organs. Helen wondered how Leslie and Joan looked without clothes. Were they feminine like Suzie, or did they wear falsies like that awful friend of Howard's? She had a thrill of excitement, and was immediately ashamed of it because the other woman's eyes were brimming with unshed tears. Mrs. Chard blinked; a drop spilled over and trickled down her cheek.

Helen put her arms around her as if she were a child, pressed the fair head to her bosom, and rocked her.

"There, there. It'll be all right. Look at it this way. If the man knows and is in love with Leslie anyway, and she, I mean, he--"

"We say she," Mrs. Chard sniffled.

"She. If she loves him, why shouldn't they live together? Young people are doing it all the time. It's not the sin it used to be. Anyway, everybody needs love. And sex, even if it isn't what we're used to."

"Really?"

"As I get older I realize more and more that not everything in the world is the way our mothers told us. Sometimes things get, um, mixed up. The important thing is being good to each other. There's no harm in Leslie being in love."

Mrs. Chard rested comfortably against Helen before pulling away and wiping her face with a napkin and blowing her nose in it.

"Oh, Helen, I'm so glad I came to you with my problem. I knew we were both in the same boat, and you would know just what to say. Thank you."

A trickle of apprehension entered Helen. In the same boat? What did she mean by that?

Mrs. Chard dabbed at her eyes. Apparently noticing Helen's silence and the reason for it, she looked up and said, "Oh. I didn't mean to say that. Yes, I know about Suzie."

"You do?"

"For some time now."

"H-how--"

"It's a long story. But you can be sure nobody told me. I found out by accident. The only person who knows is Marie Argentina, and she wouldn't ever say a word. We're all in the same situation, you know."

Helen had a sick feeling in her stomach. Her scalp prickled and perspiration broke out on her brow. She was terrified. Her secret-- Suzie's secret--was out.

Wait, if Mrs. Chard was telling the truth, only she and her friend knew, and they had the same secret. They were in the same boat.

Her fear began to subside. If Mrs. Chard had been going to hold it over her she would have said nothing about her own son.

For someone other than the immediate family to know was unnerving, but deep down she had known it was inevitable. Somebody was bound to find out someday. If anyone had to know, it was best that it be Mrs. Chard and Mrs. Argentina.

"My goodness," she said finally.

Mrs. Chard's mouth curved into a tremulous smile. "Helen, please don't worry. I'll never say anything. We have to stick together. Besides, you've made me feel so relieved. You're right. If it will make Leslie happy, let her live with the boy. It's not exactly conventional, but sometimes you have to sacrifice convention for happiness. I'll give them my blessing tomorrow. Blessing. It sounds as if they were going to get married."

Helen smiled. "That's a possibility. Jack and Suzie are married, remember?"

"Married," Mrs. Chard mused. "I wonder. You said something about Jack's friend. I mean, suppose Leslie would want to be really married instead of just-- It would be . . . nicer than just living together. People wouldn't talk. Do you think Jack's friend would marry them?"

"I don't know," Helen said honestly. "I'll ask Jack. But are you sure you want me to? He might guess why."

"I didn't think of that. The more people who know a secret . . . Let me sleep on it. It would be wonderful if they were married, though, wouldn't it? Living together is so tacky. Wait. We wouldn't need Jack's friend. I had Leslie's birth certificate altered. She could be married by a minister here! A small wedding. Just us--would you and your family come? If."

"Of course." Helen was pleased by Mrs. Chard's mood swing. She guessed she had been deeply troubled for some time and was relieved to have made a decision.

"And Melvin's family, of course. I wonder if they should be told. No, that's Melvin's business. Well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Would you do me a favor?"

"Of course. What is it?"

"Hold me again like you did before. It was so comforting."

Helen's heart went out to her.

Wordlessly, she embraced the other woman, who pressed close and put her arms about Helen's waist. One of her hands rested on her tummy, just above her mound of Venus. It made Helen feel funny. It was probably due to her conviction that Mrs. Chard and Mrs. Argentina had sex together.

There was a warm feeling between her legs.

She couldn't understand herself. Mrs. Chard was only looking for innocent comfort; she knew Helen wasn't that way. Then why was her body responding sexually?

Mrs. Chard had lifted her head and was pressing her lips against Helen's neck. Helen shivered, but didn't pull away. The woman was only grateful to her for her counsel.

When her thighs squirmed together involuntarily, Helen was dismayed to realize just how wet her panties had got. She'd better get up and leave or she'd make a fool of herself.

The other woman shifted so her cheek was lying against Helen's bosom again. In so doing, her arm moved and her hand rested naturally on Helen's knee.

Helen was disquieted by how sensitive her knee was to the touch. She tightened her arms around the other woman.

The hand moved. It slipped under her skirt and held her stockinged thigh gently. Helen froze.

Tentatively, as if ready to leap away if she moved, Mrs. Chard's slender hand crept up her leg until it was above her stocking tops. There was no longer any chance at all that it was a casual, innocent caress.

Helen's face burned. Her heart pounded, making the flaxen head reposing on her breasts vibrate.

Now the hand was nearing her panties. She had to get up. If it touched her--there--Mrs. Chard would feel how moist they were and would know how aroused she had become.

Her knees parted to let the hand cup her vulva. It caressed her rhythmically, erotically.

Helen panted. The organs down there had become unbearably sensitive and were in a state of tension.

She was about to come, just by being touched through her panties. She knew that ninety percent of sex was in the mind, but she hadn't known how powerful this kind of situation would be for her.

She had to do something.

She grasped the hand through her dress and pushed it away.

"No-o!" she wailed.

Mrs. Chard gave a start and snatched her hand out from under the skirt. She sat up, face in her hands.

"I'm sorry! I don't know what came over me. You must think I'm terrible."

Helen's heart was racing; darkness flickered before her eyes. She tried to control the fine trembling that afflicted her. She had almost had an orgasm. The situation had been overwhelmingly titillating, to Helen even more perverse than committing incest with her son or lying under strangers at her pimp's behest. But she had not backed away until the last moment.

She gasped for breath, made herself be calm.

In a few minutes she was able to say, "It's all right. Whew."

Mrs. Chard looked up. "I'm sorry," she repeated. "It was awful of me. How shocked you must be! For a moment I couldn't help myself; I was emotionally upset and you were so kind and loving and beautiful . . . and I saw your picture over at Jack's house and--Oh God, I'm babbling."

"Stop, it's okay. Goodness, you had me going. Nothing like that ever happened to me."

"Sometimes I forget that other people, that it isn't natural."

"I don't think there's anything unnatural about any sex that makes you happy. You just took me by surprise."

"You're not offended?"

"If anything, I should be flattered."

"Well!" Mrs. Chard said brightly. "I'm being a bad hostess. More tea?"

"I'd love some. And one of those nice petit fours." Helen took refuge in conventional acts.

When they finished their second cup Mrs. Chard said, "Would you like to see the rest of the house? Come, I'll give you a tour."

Helen sensed that this was an invitation not often bestowed.

Mrs. Chard showed her through the downstairs rooms, so grand they abashed her, and led her to the second floor.

"The floor above belongs to the servants, and above that is the attic. It's a marvelous place to explore. Tons and tons of artifacts from ages past. I'll show it to you some day. Down here are rooms for guests--perhaps you and Howard will spend a weekend with us en famille. That's Leslie's room at the other end of the hall. We won't go in, she has such a strong sense of privacy. And this," she opened a white-paneled door, "is my bedroom."

It wasn't just a bedroom. It was a suite of rooms, a large sitting room in front furnished in period style with delicate polished mahogany. An arched doorway to one side led into the bedroom. The bed was a four- poster, glorious with rich, dark, carved wood and a rose-colored canopy; flanked by night tables on which were what looked to be genuine Tiffany oil lamps converted to electricity.

French doors led to a covered balcony with a cafe table and chairs, in case Madame wanted her breakfast in the open air, Helen presumed.

The dressing room was large and comfortable, a vanity covered with an array of cosmetics and perfumes. The very air was scented.

She was acutely conscious of the slender woman by her side, and of being alone with her in the intimate feminine atmosphere of her bedroom suite. She saw now the sensuality that Jack had portrayed. It was disturbing. Now that Mrs. Chard knew she wasn't interested and had accepted that fact, she wished, well, she wasn't sure what she wished, or maybe she was, but she couldn't admit it to herself.

When they reentered the bedroom, Mrs. Chard sat on the edge of the bed.

"Well. That was the tour. What do you think?"

"I'm overwhelmed," Helen said honestly. "I've never been through a mansion before. I didn't know people still lived like this."

Mrs. Chard laughed. "I wish they didn't. The expense is abominable. But this was my grandfather's house, and I feel obliged to keep it up the way it was. Besides, the people in town expect it." She changed the subject. "You, ah, said before that you weren't offended by what I did?"

"Yes. You took me by surprise, that's all. I guess at one time I would have been shocked, but I have come to realize that in sex anything that doesn't hurt somebody is okay."

Knowing full well what she was doing, Helen walked over and sat next to Mrs. Chard.

The woman said, "There aren't many people who are so broad- minded. Do you mind if I say I find you irresistibly attractive?"

Helen giggled nervously. "How could anyone mind a compliment like that?"

She put her arm around Mrs. Chard's thin waist, feeling it relax softly against her. The other woman leaned close, face near Helen's. When Helen didn't move away, Mrs. Chard kissed her on the mouth.

Helen hesitated, parted her lips slightly, and was gratified when they were pushed farther apart and Mrs. Chard's tongue touched hers delicately. She gave herself to the kiss. It was wonderful. She had never been kissed this way by a woman, and Mrs. Chard's slender form was softer and less angular than it looked. The exquisite bouquet of Mrs. Chard's perfume filled her nostrils.

Helen lost count of time. She felt relaxed and safe. She needed something like this, gentle and sensitive, after the crass attentions of the men who used her.

When Mrs. Chard broke the kiss Helen felt bereft. She sighed.

Mrs. Chard said, "I'm so aroused. Are you? I thought I felt, ah, moisture down there when I--touched you."

"I'm soaking!"

"So am I. Let's take off our clothes. Want to?"

"Yes. But you'll have to teach me. I don't know anything."

Mrs. Chard's eyes twinkled. "I'll be gentle."

They helped each other undress. Mrs. Chard said, "You do shave down there! I saw it in the painting but I wondered if it was artistic license. You're beautiful."

"So are you. This is so exciting I feel like I'm going to faint."

"You'd better lie down."

They held each other blissfully and kissed again. Mrs. Chard's neat little breasts were soft against hers, and her thigh slipped between Helen's, putting pressure on her clitoris. Helen writhed erotically.

Mrs. Chard caressed her, fingers lingering piquant on places that Helen had never known could be so stimulated. She felt herself dissolving; the world shrank to encompass only her and Mrs. Chard and the canopied bed and the marvelous sensations that cascaded through her: all else was unreal.

Just as Helen thought she would burst, Mrs. Chard whispered in her ear, "I want to kiss you down there. Would you be scandalized?"

"No," Helen sighed. "I want to too. I never did it before, but oh I want to. It's so exciting."

The other woman turned around in bed and the next thing Helen knew was warm breath on her hairless vulva. Mrs. Chard's triangle was before her eyes. Her leg lifted to give her access.

Helen's heart galloped. She had never been so close to a woman's "down there." She was going to lick it and fondle it with her tongue, savor juices she had only tasted at second-hand, when her son or son-in- law kissed her after foreplay. She knew what to do, at least she knew the things that made her respond when Jack or Suzie went down on her, but she was timid about doing it for the first time. An aroma of musk and urine drew her closer.

Mrs. Chard's warm, wet tongue slithered through her cunt.

Helen groaned with passion. Feeling unspeakably depraved, she put out her tongue and touched the mysterious vertical mouth, lavishing it tenderly, sliding along it, forcing the outer lips apart, slipping between the inner lips to stroke its tenderness. She savored the taste. She saw why men liked it so much. It was wonderful--nothing like semen, but just as sexy. Before her eyes Mrs. Chard's labia spread in a spasm, opening to reveal the vagina gaping uncovered, then squeezing shut again. She heard the woman whine ecstatically and felt her face push into her bare pussy.

She was so excited she couldn't breathe. She began to come violently, orgasm after orgasm plundering her body as she worked diligently on the cunt in front of her, seeing it quaver and spread and clamp shut repeatedly in a series of frenzied throes, arms around Mrs. Chard's ass, holding her close.

When they could no longer endure it, Mrs. Chard turned around in bed so they could embrace once more, holding each other gently until their bodies quieted, loving each other with tenderness. Yet as soon as they were calm again they pressed close, a thigh each between the other's legs so they could apply rhythmic pressure to their vulvas, kissing wetly and fondling each other's breasts. Soon they returned to the erotic lingual massage of their pussies until the sensation was once again too excruciating to bear, and they fell back exhausted, panting heavily.

Mrs. Chard turned to put her head on the pillow. Her face was as wet as Helen's.

They lay side by side on their backs, holding hands, recovering strength.

Helen's nose and mouth were still full of the fragrance of Mrs. Chard's cunt. She said softly to the ceiling, "It was so wonderful. I never knew anything like it. You are so lovely." It was strange: she felt as though she were falling in love with the other woman.

Was this how it was with Howard when he made love with another man? She had just had lesbian sex. Suppose someone had taken a picture of her and Mrs. Chard? Maybe she'd been too hard on Howard.

Mrs. Chard said, "You are too. I'm glad you liked it. I was afraid you might, well, be ashamed or something."

"I was a little, but I loved it. I can't understand why I never did it before. Probably because I never met anyone as beautiful and sexy as you. I wish we could do it some more, but I'd jump out of my skin. I probably won't even be able to wear my panties home."

Mrs. Chard laughed quietly. "Be careful. It's windy out."

Helen stretched. "I feel so good. You were just what I needed."

"Was it as good as with a man?"

"Yes. Different. Lots different. But just as good."

"I was hoping you'd say better."

Helen turned her head to the side and asked curiously, "It's a lot better with a woman for you, isn't it?"

"I can't even stand the thought of a man. Except--"

"Except who?"

"Can I tell you?"

"You can tell me anything, Estelle."

"Yes. You won't be shocked? A long time ago--Leslie."

"Leslie? Your daugh--your son?"

"Do you think that's terrible?"

"Yes," she said. "Me too."

"You too what?"

"I did it too."

"With Leslie?"

Helen burst into laughter. "No! Suzie."

Mrs. Chard turned on her side and propped her head on her elbow. "That's marvelous! Why, you're blushing."

"Well, it's embarrassing to admit."

"I know. It was for me too. Tell me how it happened."

"Did you know I used to drink?"

"Yes. You don't any more, though."

"Just socially. Not like before. Howard and I weren't getting along all that well then. In bed. We hadn't, um, done anything, for a long time. I guess I drank to avoid the situation. It probably, no, I know it did, it made things worse. I used to pass out every night. Then one day I discovered that Suzie had been, well, doing it to me on the living- room couch when I was unconscious."

"Helen! How awful."

"Yes, it shocked me too. But I got to thinking about it and when Jack was out of town, I seduced Suzie. It was my first climax," Helen admitted shyly.

"Mine too. With Leslie. He looked so cute in his little nightie. Then I found out--as you have, my dear--that one doesn't absolutely need that big thing inside to enjoy sex."

"I think you're missing something. Like I was, before today. Men are nice. How did you get turned off them?"

"I don't know. I felt threatened by my husband, I think. He was always so self-centered. Just jumped on me. As they say, slam, bam, thank-you-ma'am. He scared me to death on the wedding night. And it hurt."

"Poor Estelle. I know the kind. But a good man isn't like that. He's tender and caring and sensitive, and I think it must be the most wonderful experience ever. Jack--" She broke off too late.

"Jack? You mean Jack Landon? Your son's husband? Oh, my God. My respect for you has gone up ten times."

"Please don't tell anybody."

"I would never. Jack Landon. I'm flabbergasted. He is handsome. And sensitive. You can see it in his paintings. But if Suzie's a boy . . . And if you . . . Jack must be what they call bisexual. Are you having an affair with him still?"

"Not exactly."

"That means yes but not often. Oh, my God, Helen. For the first time in years I'm genuinely envious of somebody. All the times he saw me naked-- And I never thought about it. How is he?"

"Wonderful."

"Oh, my God." Mrs. Chard stared at Helen. Her eyes had a smile in them. "Would you be furious if I set my cap for him? You might end up converting me instead of the other way around."

Helen laughed nervously. "Now, Estelle. Jack and Suzie love each other very much. Don't do anything like that."

"What about you?"

"That's different. Suzie said it was all right. After all, we--you know."

They lay quiet a long while.

Mrs. Chard broke the silence. "I'm glad you came over today."

"I am too."

"I mean, not only because of this last couple of hours, but because I'm so happy to know you. You're a remarkable and exciting person. I know we're going to be close friends."

"I know." Helen lifted herself languorously and kissed the other woman on the lips. "Thank you for teaching me. And for confiding in me. I love you."

She got up. The room reeled, so she sat down again and gripped one of the bedposts before standing.

The flaxen-haired woman, thin and delicate with those marvelous little breasts, asked, "Where are you going?"

Helen put on her garter belt. "Home. It's time to start dinner for Howard."

"Stay. Let him fend for himself."

"No, Howard would be confused if I weren't home or over at Jack and Suzie's. He's a dear man and I love him too. We'll see each other again soon."

She finished dressing and freshened her lipstick.

Mrs. Chard got up and put on a robe. "I've been meaning to ask you. Where did Jack and Suzie get their children? And how?"

Helen's face got fiery. She opened her mouth but nothing came out. Her mind was exhausted by the loving hours just past. She couldn't think fast enough to make up a convincing lie.

Mrs. Chard stared at her.

"Helen!"

She had guessed the truth.

Helen still couldn't speak.

"They're your children. Who was the father? No, wait, let me guess. It was Jack, wasn't it? Or--oh my God!--Suzie. I can see it in your face. That's it, isn't it?"

"B-both of them."

Mrs. Chard gave a shriek of laughter. "Both of them! I can't stand it. Oh, Helen, don't look like that. Your secret is safe with me. I won't even tell Marie. Both of them!"

Her hilarity infected Helen. She started giggling and couldn't stop.

They laughed together until tears came to their eyes and their sides were aching. Finally Helen gasped, "I truly have to go." She picked up a corner of the bedspread and dried her eyes. "I'll tell you all about it another time."

"Helen, you're wonderful. I love you too." Mrs. Chard hugged her and bussed her on the lips. "We're going to see a lot of each other, aren't we?"

Chapter 14

Nancy Dahl set the groceries on the kitchen table, still smiling at the super-nonchalant way Leslie Chard had strolled into the brownstone apartment building down the street. Butter wouldn't melt in her mouth. She was so cute, pretending she was a casual visitor, when everybody knew she was having an affair with that nice-looking Mel Woicyk.

She should know better. In a neighborhood like this, everyone knew everyone else's business--or maybe not all of it, Nancy hoped, thinking of Jimmy--and when the daughter of the richest woman in town began keeping company with the neighborhood's most eligible bachelor, the news spread faster than if it had been announced on television.

She was glad for Mel. He'd been living alone so long she had begun to wonder about him. She and Jimmy didn't know him all that well, just casual neighbors, but she would have liked to make friends. The trouble was, he was a policeman, detective or something, and Jimmy was shy about socializing with him. Even though he told her the man knew his secret and wasn't going to bother him; had treated him like a lady, in fact. All the more reason to make friends, she reasoned, though Jimmy didn't see it that way.

That Leslie seemed nice too, pretty as a picture, with a happy look to her. Nancy sometimes thought about stopping her on the street--it was her way to offer friendship openly and candidly--to invite the two of them over to dinner, but Leslie seemed so determined to conceal her relationship with Mel that Nancy had to think twice about interrupting the course of true love.

She was a little jealous of how pretty the girl was, anyway. Those blonde curls and big eyes and shapely legs. Nancy avoided the wall mirror as she went into the living room to straighten up. She knew what she looked like. A redheaded speckle-faced rodent. Her only striking feature was the green color of her eyes, but that was so washed out the effect was almost nullified. And her figure. That was all right, at least, a narrow waist and bust in proportion to her size, too damn' small, if only she were taller.

Who cares, she thought. She had a husband who loved her, the way she had always known anybody would love her if they only took the time to know her. The trouble was nobody had, until Jimmy, and if he had a few faults, so what, she would do anything for him. She remembered the long dreary years of high school when nobody, just nobody, had asked her out on a date, and that was too damn' bad because she was smart and lovable and imaginative and kind and generous--and thrifty, brave, and reverent, she grinned to herself.

And she liked sex. Nancy marked up another point in her favor. Lots of girls didn't. Sometimes she worried if she was too demanding, especially in light of Jimmy's "work," but he seemed to like their lovemaking, so she didn't inquire too deeply. Actually, she was a little jealous of him, too. When he changed clothes in the hotel and got all gussied up in high heels and miniskirt, dark-gold hair down to his shoulders, a blue tint above his eyes making them wide and demure, he was a beauty. With that tight waist-cincher his figure was almost as feminine as hers.

She had known about his predilection for wearing women's clothes even before she tricked him into marriage. He'd come in to the boutique where she worked part-time to buy some slinky underwear. She'd recognized him instantly, right through the camouflage of clothes, cosmetics, and wig he wore before he let his own hair grow: the boy who sat next to her in Eco 101. She hadn't let on, but it intrigued her and she made it her business to get to know him. She helped him with his homework and class work--the boy was not exactly a budding brain surgeon--and spent sleepless hours wondering what he did when he was dressed like that, and dreaming about what it would be like to be in bed with him.

Nancy knew her fantasy life was unusually rich and compelling: it was the fruit of years of doubting that she would ever have sex other than by her own clever fingertips. When she was married at last and Jimmy had clumsily pierced her maidenhead with that marvelous instrument it had been all she had ever hoped it would be, and it did nothing but get better for what seemed a long time. Then she began to wish he was more imaginative, and shyly hinted that another position might be welcome, and maybe (blush) other acts. He fell in with her inventive ideas more readily than she had ever dreamed, and she realized he had been holding back to spare her modesty.

The one thing he was still timid about was having her see him in dresses. She had gone to the hotel a few times to have lunch with him, to reassure him that she loved him no matter what he was wearing, but he had been abashed about it so she quit going. She had loved seeing him, though. It turned her on. These days all her fantasies revolved about him making love to her wearing a nightgown; or even--and this made her heart beat so strongly she sometimes feared she would faint--or even seeing him in bed with a man.

He had told her what Dick Turner made him do--let men have intercourse with him. His confession came on the heels of Turner's threat to send pictures to Jimmy's parents and herself. In a panic he had owned up to everything. For her to see the pictures needn't have worried him--in fact, she was wild to see them; but he was terrified of his parent's learning what he was doing. It would kill them, he said. She had her doubts, they weren't that bad, she'd been able to make friends with them at last, the homely girl from the other side of the tracks sucking up to the middle-class in-laws, but Jimmy wouldn't listen. He felt he had to submit to Dick's wishes.

The strange thing was that she liked the idea of him having sex with men for money. She was so plain that she could never be as successful as he was; she was vicariously proud of him, and liked to imagine it. He earned a lot; more than she did as a receptionist in a tax firm.

She hoped when Jimmy came home he would let her tend to his bottom. Sometimes he was sore and walked as though he were on stilts. She loved having him lie on his front while she gently massaged his hole with a soothing lubricant, and, though she knew it mortified him, push her finger inside and let it linger, thinking of men's organs up there, wondering how they could fit. A few times she had seen a leak from his rear; she knew what it was and had been tempted to lean closer and lick it, but was too shy. By the time she was through caressing him they'd both be aroused; she could turn him over and use her mouth on him or sit on top of him.

Nancy looked up when a key turned in the lock. She did a double take. He was wearing makeup and his legs were in nylons under a fake fur coat. He removed the coat, frowning like a thundercloud.

"Jimmy! You're wearing a dress!"

He was adorable in a straight skirt and collarless jacket with elegant embroidery on the yoke. The heels he wore made his ankles look trim.

His brow cleared. He looked surprised. "I--? Oh, gosh. Sorry, I was thinking of something else and I forgot to change. I can't believe I came all the way home like this. I'll go in the bedroom and put on regular clothes."

"No, don't! You look nice. Stay with me a while and let me get to know, um, Amy."

"All right. But I have to take off my shoes, they're killing me."

Jimmy sat on the couch, crossed one ankle over stockinged knee, pulled off his pump and massaged his foot. "Oh, what a relief. I don't know why I always have to buy shoes a size too small."

"Let me."

Nancy knelt to knead his toes, hearing him sigh. His foot was warm in the stocking. She manipulated it firmly until he groaned, "Oh-h, that feels good. The other."

She smiled, pulled off the second shoe and rubbed his foot, smelling warm leather, thinking that since she was wearing a sweater and jeans and sneakers and he was wearing a dress, their roles were kind of reversed. In a moment she would move her hands upward and massage his calf, then his thigh under his skirt, the way men did when they felt up girls.

She said, "You look darling. I'm glad you forgot to change. You should do it more often. --What were you mad about when you came in?"

"Oh." The look was back. "Turner. You know what he did? You'll never believe it."

"I'd believe anything." Dick Turner was not her favorite person in the world.

"Remember I told you about meeting the bank president? Howard Myers? Well . . ."

He hesitated.

She looked up to see the pinkness in his face under the makeup. "What about him?"

"Well . . . Now don't get mad. I didn't tell you everything."

"He's one of your customers."

"No. Um, not exactly. Not a real customer. See, Dick told him about me and got the idea, from the way Howard looked, you know Dick is shrewd about people whatever else he may be, that Howard might be interested. He gave me the signal to invite Howard up to that room with the one-way glass."

"Oh dear."

"Yes, 'oh dear.' I thought he was just going to watch, or maybe take some private pictures, I told you how Dick is, he likes to watch more than doing it, and then he looks at the pictures and plays with himself, it's all pretty harmless, I guess . . ."

"But?"

"But today I found out he was blackmailing Howard."

"What! With the pictures?"

"He showed them to Howard's wife and made her put out for him or he'd show them to her friends."

"Put out for him!"

"If that wasn't enough, he made her do it with some of the guys from the kitchen too, and took pictures of that. Then he made her be one of his girls, a prostitute, you know. I found out when I asked about the new girl. It was her."

"Oh, God. The poor woman."

"Yeah. I really feel bad about it. She looks nice. Elegant, you know? Sophisticated. But he's making her turn tricks. The bank president's wife! Can you believe it? I bet Howard knows. He hasn't been around for weeks. I really liked him, too. He's a nice guy."

"It isn't your fault. You didn't know."

"I feel like it is. I knew about the pictures, anyway. But the worst thing, the worst thing, is all those other pictures he took. Before. Is he blackmailing everybody? I bet he is. And I'm right in the middle."

"Can't we do anything?"

"What?"

"I don't know. Something. You can't just let him get away with it. Can you get the photographs? Get his room key and steal them or something?"

"I guess. No, I'd be too scared. He's always around."

Nancy was silent, massaging his foot.

She said at last, "You know what I think?"

"What?"

"I think you ought to call Howard and apologize. Then invite him over here to figure out something to do. You said Howard's bank loaned Dick the money for the hotel. Maybe . . ."

"I don't know. Howard probably won't even talk to me. I wouldn't blame him."

"Try. Call him now, ask him to come over tomorrow." She put her hands on his calf, sleek beneath the nylon. "Then we'll go in the bedroom and I'll give you a real massage to make you forget your troubles."

Afterwards, deeply content, Nancy lay next to her husband holding his hand, vividly aware that he was still wearing the feminine undies, falsies and all, that except for those wonderful things at the fork of his legs, he looked exactly like a beautiful woman.

She said lazily, "I loved doing it with you this way. You have to wear your dress more often."

"Mm."

He had called Howard and made a date with him here tomorrow afternoon. Howard sounded scared, he said. Probably wondering if he was going to be blackmailed again.

"Jimmy? I mean Amy. Amy?"

"Mm?" There was a smile in his voice.

"Tell me about Howard."

"He's nice. Kind of shy."

"No, I mean, what did you do together?"

"Oh, Nancy."

"I really want to know. Did he take you in his mouth like I do?"

"Sometimes."

"Do you like it better with him? I know I'm not all that experienced."

"No! You're the best. I love you."

"I love you too. I bet Howard does, too."

She felt his hesitation.

"You know," he said in a thoughtful tone, "I always sensed something special from Howard, you know, a kind of feeling. I guess that's one of the reasons I liked him so much. You always like people who like you."

"What else did he do? Did he put it in you?"

"Yes." His voice was a whisper.

"Back here?" She reached between his legs.

He squirmed. "Nancy, what is this?"

"I'm just curious, that's all. You don't mind talking about it, do you? I love to think of you with men."

"You do?"

"Yes! I mean, I wouldn't want you to be with women! And taking money and all . . . I wish you didn't have to. But it's exciting to think about. I sometimes dream that you would let me watch."

"You wouldn't."

"I would too. Do you think you'd ever let me? Maybe in that special room?"

"Nancy," he said reproachfully. After a moment he said, "That's a turn-on."

She melted in his arms when he put them around her.

Nancy was in high good humor when she got home and set about making coffee and arranging little cakes from the bakery on a platter. She checked the cupboards to see if they had any liquor in case anybody wanted a drink, though in her opinion four in the afternoon was too early to be drinking. On second thought, maybe it would relax Howard if he was as nervous as Jimmy said. She laid out the bottle of Jack Daniels and ice and glasses.

Jimmy and Howard would be here any minute. She carried the tray to the living room and looked around to be sure everything was neat and clean. It was a bright day; the sunlight reflected whitely off the snow onto the ceiling, giving everything a friendly glow.

She turned toward the door when she heard Jimmy's key in the lock, composing herself. She wasn't supposed to be here. They had agreed that Howard would be more comfortable if Jimmy spoke to him alone. But the news she had wouldn't wait.

Jimmy, gray eyes sparkling and cheeks pink from the cold and wearing his fur and a cute little matching toque on his head, came in, followed by a distinguished-looking man with a mustache. They stopped when they saw her.

Jimmy said, "What are you doing here?"

"Hi!" She kissed her husband in the cheek-to-cheek fashion ladies use when they don't want to muss their makeup, and turned to the man. "You must be Mr. Myers. I'm so happy to meet you. I'm Nancy Dahl. Come in, come in. Let me take your coat."

Howard's nod was stiff; he had a wary look.

Jimmy said, "I thought we said you would have shopping to do or something."

"I know, darling, but I had some good news for both of you. I knew you'd want to hear."

"Howard, this is my wife Nancy. She knows everything, I'm afraid. Don't worry, dear, she's as upset about all this as we are."

It gave Nancy a funny feeling to hear her husband call a man "dear," and use that sultry flirtatious voice.

Howard said, "I didn't know you were married. Hello, Mrs. Dahl. I'm pleased to meet you."

"Nancy. And I'll call you Howard. Jim--Amy has told me so much about you I feel like we're old friends." She got them settled on the couch and sat opposite. "There. Isn't this cozy? Would you like some coffee, Howard? Or can I fix a drink? We have some lovely bourbon."

He accepted the drink with alacrity and swallowed half of it at once. Goodness, she had been right, he needed relaxing.

Jimmy stirred his coffee. "What's this all about?"

"First, did you apologize to Howard?"

"I've been trying to." Jimmy's skirt pulled up from his knees as he turned to the distinguished man. "Howard, I didn't know. Truly." He put his hand on Howard's. "I only found out yesterday when I saw your, that is, Mrs. Myers, and asked about her. He told me everything. It must be just dreadful for you. I'm so very sorry."

Howard was watching Jimmy's knees. "It's worse for her." His lip trembled. "I don't know what we're going to do. She has to--go with men twice a week. And what if it turns out to be one of our friends?"

Jimmy said, "Oh, God, how terrible for her. I'm sorry," he repeated lamely.

"She said--" He shot a look at Nancy, looked down again, face crimsoning. "She said I shouldn't see you any more. I mean, not because of-- We have an arrangement. I can go down to the city, she said. Only not up here. People might know. I better leave."

Nancy said, "No, don't go. It's all right. Amy never wears clothes like that," she indicated Jimmy's dress, "around here, so as far as the neighbors are concerned we're a respectable married couple and you're just visiting friends."

He looked thoughtful.

"Ah, can I ask--are you, well, like Amy?"

"Like Amy?"

"I mean . . . Howard's voice trailed off in embarrassment. His cheeks flushed.

"Oh. You mean am I a boy. No! I'm all girl. We really are a respectable married couple." She smiled.

He looked at her with kind, troubled eyes, interest beginning to sharpen his gaze. "And you don't mind if She dresses like that?"

"I like it," she said simply.

"I only wish my wife was as understanding. Ah, Amy said you knew everything. Does that mean you know about--us?"

"Sure." She couldn't help blushing.

"How does that make you feel?"

His interest seemed genuine. She could see he was trying to make sense of the situation, learn the ground rules. Nancy warmed to him. She had the feeling he was a very nice man. She could see what Jimmy saw in him.

"I like that too. I know Amy loves me--don't you, dear--and it's not as if she were cheating, I mean, it's not another woman. It's, I don't know, like she has a whole nother life. Like she was two people. That's pretty exciting, if you think about it. Maybe someday," she turned to Jimmy, "you'll share it with me more than you have."

He was red under his cosmetics. "I thought you'd be turned off," he said in that marvelous feminine voice.

"No."

Jimmy changed the subject. "What's the news?"

"I went to the police."

They exclaimed simultaneously.

"Nancy!"

"Now, don't worry. You both worry so much. It all worked out fine. Besides, you know me, I always go for the Gordian knot."

Howard nodded appreciatively, but Jimmy asked, "Gordian knot?"

She knew how hard Jimmy tried in college, so she was sometimes surprised that so little had stuck.

"It was a complicated knot. Whoever could untie it would be king of the world. So Alexander the Great took out his sword and whacked it in half. 'There,' he said. 'It's untied.' "

Jimmy laughed. "She does. She really does. Whenever things get too complicated she does some simple thing that straightens everything out."

"Anyway I went to see that nice Melvin Woicyk down at the police station. Did you know he was Chief of Detectives? I asked if I could see him about a personal matter. He took me into an interrogation room, he called it, and said we could be private there. He said it was where lawyers talked with their clients.

"So I asked him if adultery was a crime. He said it was grounds for divorce, but in this state it isn't a crime. Then I asked how about two men having sex."

Jimmy and Howard looked at each other.

"That's not a crime, either. Neither is wearing women's clothes. I wanted to be sure we hadn't done anything illegal, you see. So then I asked him about blackmail. He said yes, it was extortion. Why? Was I being blackmailed? I said I didn't want to mention any names, because there were prominent people involved. I said somebody had taken pictures to blackmail people. He had to be stopped, but we couldn't have any publicity. He interrupted me, 'Mrs. Dahl, there isn't much we can do unless somebody comes forward to press charges.' I said nobody would.

"He said, 'Well, at least tell me who the blackmailer is. Maybe I can put some pressure on him.' So I told him. Dick Turner. He looked as if something clicked in his mind, and said he still couldn't do anything officially, but he would investigate the matter personally. He knew I was upset and scared, but he'd do his best. 'Tell your husband not to worry,' he said, 'we'll get the s.o.b. At the very least get the pictures.' He was so nice. Now aren't you glad I was here when you got here?"

Jimmy said, "He said to tell me not to worry?"

"He must've guessed, he knows you, um, work in Dick Turner's hotel. Never mind, he won't say anything."

Howard filled his glass. The expression of strain lifted from his face as he said, "Thank heavens for you, Nancy. I've been at my wit's end. If only this business can be cleared up without, ah, as you said, publicity."

"That's what we all want. Yours weren't the only pictures, you know. Amy's right in the middle of the whole mess. You don't have any reason to be mad at her."

"I wondered if she knew about the pictures being taken. 'He.' No, 'she.' " A shy smile made his mustache wider. "It's too strange to be saying 'he' when she's dressed like that."

Nancy laughed. "I know! It boggles my mind, too. Anyway, she only found out about it yesterday. So you can kiss and make up."

Howard turned to Jimmy. "I'm sorry. I misjudged you. I should have known better. Friends?"

"Of course, Howard. I'm glad."

They looked at each other fondly.

Nancy said, "Well? Go ahead. Kiss and make up." She laughed at their expressions. "What's the matter? Scared I have a camera? Go ahead, for heaven's sake."

Jimmy looked at her to see if she meant it. He smiled and lifted his face to Howard's. The other man glanced sidelong at her, matched Jimmy's grin with one of his own, and kissed him on the mouth.

Jimmy wriggled and gave himself to the embrace.

Nancy got excited, seeing her husband being kissed by a man.

She stared at Howard's pants. There was a bulge in them.

Her heart began to pound.

"Goodness, look at the time. I have to get dinner started. Howard, you'll stay, won't you? It's hunter's stew with lots of black bread and cheese on the side, just the thing for a cold day."

"I'd like to. If it's not too much trouble."

"No trouble at all." She stood up. "If you'll excuse me, I'll get started. I know you two must have a lot to talk about, anyway. Don't worry about me. Once I'm in the kitchen I'm completely lost to the world. If you want to talk privately," she added casually, "you can go in the bedroom and close the door."

The look on his face told her that Jimmy understood what she was saying.

She went into the kitchen and made a show of noisy pots and pans, stomach fluttering. The stew had been made in advance and frozen: all she had to do was turn it into a pot and heat it. She busied herself with tossing a salad, listening to their low voices, which were interrupted now and then by suspicious silences.

Her heart leaped when she heard them get up and go to the bedroom. She gave them a minute, then peeped cautiously into the living room. Nothing.

She tiptoed to the bedroom door and knelt in front of the keyhole.

They were standing in plain view, locked in an embrace. Their mouths writhed against each other's. Jimmy's eyes were closed; he looked blissful. As Nancy watched, Howard's hands slipped down to cup Jimmy's bottom, lifted his skirt and fumbled there. A moment later Jimmy's pink panties floated down. He stepped out of them, still receiving Howard's kiss; his ass swayed as the other man caressed it.

Nancy's throat seized shut with excitement and terror. Unconsciously she sought the crotch of her blue jeans; she held herself, staring through the keyhole. Jimmy unzipped Howard's fly.

She caught a glimpse of the man's erection in Jimmy's manicured fingers just before the two moved out of sight toward the bed.

Gasping with frustration, she continued to kneel, hearing a rustle of clothing and the sigh of the bedsprings.

Was there some other way she could look in on them? The window was two floors above the street; there was no fire escape on this side. Suppose she inched open the door? That was no good: the painted-over hinge squeaked; they would hear. She ground her teeth. Tears of frustration shimmered her vision.

When the sound of Jimmy's suppressed cry, followed by a shaky moan, came through the door, she stood up trembling.

A deep breath later she opened the door. Her husband was lying on his stomach, skirt pulled up to expose his alluring white ass. Howard, pants around his knees, was on top, fucking him.

"Please," she said forlorn, "Can I watch?"

Chapter 15

Mrs. Chard looked up when she heard the faint ring of the front doorbell. A glance at the ormolu clock on the desk told her it was exactly three. Good. That would be Melvin. You could say this for the man, he was prompt.

She had deliberately busied herself with office work to keep herself from "waiting" for him, but in fact that was what she had been doing-- waiting. She put the papers she was studying in the drawer, stood up, and opened the bookshelf-door. She stepped into the conference room and crossed to the lavatory. On the back of the door was a full-length mirror in which she examined her appearance, smoothed her short curls in place, and straightened the lavender Orlon sheath she had chosen for this interview with a tug here and a pat there.

Mrs. Chard was uncharacteristically nervous. Although she had already all but made up her mind to give her permission for Melvin's and Leslie's, ah, union, after talking to Helen--that dear, surprising woman--she still had some unresolved questions for him.

She returned to the office in time to greet him when Angie ushered him in.

"Mr. Woicyk, how nice. Thank you for taking time from your busy day to see me." She held out her hand.

He took it warily. "Hi, Mrs. Chard."

His grip was warm. An inch or so taller than she, he gave the impression of strength and candor. He was straight, lean, flushed with health. His sandy hair was brushed carefully. He wore a dark blue serge business suit, too formal for the afternoon, but she guessed this was in some respects a formal occasion.

"Come." She hooked her arm through his and led him through the bookshelf-door. "We'll talk in the conference room so we can sit more comfortably."

"Conference room?" A quizzical smile informed his lips as he took in the elegant hominess of the room, with its day-bed, Persian rug, and polished French provincial furniture.

Mrs. Chard let her laughter ring as she closed the door. "That's just what we call it. Few people know of it, and Angie never disturbs me in here, it's perfect for private conversation with no interruptions. Be a good boy and press that button over there. It opens the bar. Make us a drink, would you? Sherry for me."

He looked glad to have something to do with his hands. She watched him pour sherry for her and a scotch on the rocks for himself. When he handed her the glass and sat opposite her, the wary expression returned.

Mrs. Chard sipped her wine. "I'll get straight to the point. Leslie tells me she wants to move in with you."

There was a hint of diffidence in his nod of agreement.

She went on. "She says she's in love with you and that you love her too. Is that true?"

"I think so."

"You think so."

"I mean, I think Leslie loves me, I know I love her."

"I see."

Mrs. Chard let a moment go by.

"Melvin, do you think it's fair to Leslie, or for that matter, to me, to ask her to live with you? What would people say? My unmarried, ah, daughter living in a bachelor's apartment."

"I know, we talked about that. But we want to be together. What else can we do?"

"You could get married."

"Married!"

"That's what people do when they want to be together, you know. But perhaps you don't feel you are ready for such a commitment."

"But--"

"I can guess what you're thinking. No one would know. I had Leslie's birth certificate altered to show that she is a girl. There would be no technical impediment to a marriage."

She could see his mind racing. This was something he hadn't expected.

She said, "I want you to think about it carefully, Melvin. I won't have Leslie trifled with. If you are serious about her, that's one thing. If your intentions are, shall we say, short-term, that's quite another. Do you see what I mean?"

He was still struggling with the idea. He really was quite good- looking, Mrs. Chard thought, in his masculine sort of way. It was hard to believe he was gay. For an instant she permitted herself to wonder what it was like for Leslie to be close to him in bed. It would be pleasant, she imagined. Helen had said not all men were brutes. When she felt an unwelcome stirring in the region below her stomach, she cut the thought short.

She went on, "I'm not altogether certain I approve of all this, but it has been brought to my attention that, in the circumstances, fairness to Leslie demands something more than she has here. It's an awkward situation, however. I'm sorry, Melvin, but I'm going to have to ask you to be frank with me about certain, ah, delicate matters."

The poor boy looked uncomfortable.

She said, "I want to be sure you both know what's involved. That is, can I assume that you have been, ah, intimate?"

A becoming blush spread over his face. "Y-yes," he stammered.

She was rather enjoying his discomfiture. "But I never knew you were gay, Melvin."

"I didn't either for sure, until I met Leslie."

"You didn't know? How is that?"

"Well, see, I never did it before. So I didn't know."

"You never did it before. Let me understand. Sex? That's what you mean? You never had sex with a boy, or never at all?"

"At all."

"You mean Leslie is the only person you ever . . . ?"

Melvin squirmed. He gulped his drink, and in an apparent effort to regain composure, stood and went to the bar to refill his glass. With his back turned, he said, "I never did it with anybody."

She waited until he had seated himself opposite her again before bursting out, "Then how do you know?"

"Huh?"

"How do you know you're gay? How do you know, if you've never been with a woman?"

Mel floundered, "Because, well, because," his flush deepened, "with Leslie it's, well, I just don't want anyone else, so I must be."

"But you don't know that. Oh, dear, Melvin. Suppose some girl makes eyes at you and you, ah, falter in your loyalty to Leslie, and then discover you prefer the opposite sex after all."

"That won't happen."

"Anything can happen. You don't know that it won't. I swear, Melvin, I don't mean to be crude, but hadn't you better seek the company of a woman before you make any long-term commitment to Leslie?"

He looked thoughtful.

He said, "I couldn't. What would Leslie say if I did? Besides . . . I just couldn't."

Mrs. Chard studied him for a long moment.

In that moment she went mad. Memories crowded each other: Helen saying, "Men are wonderful," Marie Argentina confessing, no, boasting about, her affair with Harold, Leslie's harmless thing as she had last seen it, wet and wrinkled, disappearing into his skin pouch.

She got butterflies in her stomach.

"Melvin, dear," she said softly, "take off your clothes."

"What?"

"Get undressed. We're going to settle this right here and now."

She went to the day-bed and turned the bedclothes down. When she glanced at him, he was frozen in his chair staring horrified at her.

Mrs. Chard crossed to him, took his hands in hers, and pulled him to his feet.

She said gently, "Melvin, I am simply not going to give my permission until this question is resolved."

She unbuttoned his jacket, pushed it down over his shoulders, and folded it neatly over the back of a chair. She untied his necktie. "Now, be a good boy and get undressed."

She waited until she was sure he was complying with her wishes. She pulled off her heels and set about undoing her garters to take off her stockings. Deliberately she made a production of it, wrists lifting her skirt to reveal the shapely length of her legs, fingers lingering provocatively, slipping the stockings down with sensuous grace. She peeped up through her eyelashes to make sure he was watching.

He had taken off all but his trousers. His torso was corrugated with muscle; youthful, only lightly endowed with chest hair. Her alert eye detected a pipe-like ridge along the inside of his left thigh. So he could be roused by a female. But then so could Leslie, and he had chosen to have a relationship with a man anyway. And there was Jack, who was married to a boy like Leslie, yet Helen had said he was attentive, vigorous, and sexually satisfying with her. The question would only be settled when they saw if Melvin would go back with Leslie after this experience.

Mrs. Chard removed her dress, went over to Melvin, and turned her back to him.

"Could you unhook me, please?"

When the bra fell free she reached behind, took his hands, and pulled them around her to cup her breasts. She backed into him. The lump was still there; she felt it through the silk of her panties.

Her heart was pounding. Apart from Leslie when he was a young child, she hadn't known a man for more than twenty years. She had never thought she would again, until her imagination was stimulated by her talk with Helen and by listening to Marie Argentina go on about her Harold.

He fondled her breasts, pinching their nipples between his fingers, making her shiver. She turned inside his arms and pressed her body against his. He was firm and warm. It was strange to be in the arms of someone taller than she. She tugged at his belt buckle.

"Take these off, Melvin, and come to me."

Not until she put her knees together and pushed down her panties did she realize their crotch was soaking wet. As she stepped out of them she saw her clitoris protruding rosy from between her labia.

Mrs. Chard lay on her side on the day-bed, heart racing, while Melvin removed his trousers. His erection was enormous. It was frightening but beautiful, all clean and pink and white with a flaring red head. As she looked, the tip emitted a gleaming drip of clear, sticky fluid.

In the days when Leslie was a slip of a child, she and Marie Argentina had pretended his penis was no more than an enlarged clitoris. This was different. It was a man's organ. It meant business.

He stood indecisive, looking at her.

It took all her courage to lift her arms in a welcoming gesture. She was aware that her eyes were frightened, but couldn't help it. A man. Like her husband. He had hurt her. He had plowed that big thing into her while she was dry and it had been abrasive and too big and had made her bleed the first time. She offered a silent prayer that Marie and Helen were right, that not all men were that way.

He was looming over her.

An unexpected wave of terror overwhelmed her. The hair on the nape of her neck tried to stand up; goose flesh prickled her skin.

She was about to open her mouth to plead, "Please don't hurt me," when she saw his lower lip quiver; and with a burst of insight she realized he was as frightened as she was.

Relief swept through her; some of her dread dissipated.

She shifted over to give him room to lie down next to her. His body was warm. He was trembling faintly.

The only way Mrs. Chard knew to suppress anxiety was to take charge.

Looking into his eyes, she clasped his stiff penis. It was hot and very rigid, bigger and thicker than her husband's, if she remembered correctly. Bigger than Leslie's. It would have been alarming but for the surprised way he flinched at her touch, reassuring her that he intended her no harm.

His hand cupped her vulva gingerly. It began rubbing and squeezing her outer lips. She wondered what he was doing. A long moment later she thought, He's trying to arouse me!

She smothered a surprised laugh. Of course. He had never been with a woman; he didn't know what to do. Her anxiety abated still further. His gentle hand was big and awkward as it kneaded her down there. She sighed gratefully and put her hand on his. "Here," she said softly, "Your thumb here." She positioned it. "This finger here. Do like this." She guided his movement. "Oh-h. Yes, that feels so good."

Her labia suffused with warmth; her clitoris hummed. "If you want you can put this finger in here. Oh-h."

She tried to imagine it was Mrs. Argentina fondling her. It was impossible. He was large and clumsy, not nearly as clever and subtle. Something about him, though, was unbearably stimulating. Long before she was ready for it, long before Marie Argentina could have brought it on, her vagina squeezed shut; her nipples erected; labia flared; and she was coming, oh God she was coming already, body tensing arms snapping around him room darkening she CAME shuddering gasping hips pushing repeatedly against his hand.

After a timeless interval her body's tension ebbed. She became aware that she was making inarticulate cooing sounds. The stimulation of his hand was too intense. She pushed it away.

"Oh, Melvin," she gasped. Bewildered by the strength of her reaction, she cuddled her head against his chest. His arms came around her, holding her protectively while she tried to sort things out.

She looked up and gave him a shaky smile. "Whew."

"You all right?"

"Fine. Wonderful. Wait, where are you going?"

"I thought . . . I thought you, you know . . ."

"Climaxed? I did! It was glorious."

"Well, I thought you wouldn't want to do it any more."

"Melvin, women can have lots of orgasms, didn't you know that?"

"Yeah? I heard that, but I didn't know if it was true. When I--do that--I can't usually do it again for a half hour or so."

Mrs. Chard opened her legs. "Come in me."

He lay on top of her. She noticed he was considerate enough to rest his weight on his elbows. His body was firm; she was intensely aware of the muscular chest brushing her sensitive nipples, so different from the softness of another woman.

She controlled a shiver and guided his leaking erection to the join of her legs and put it in the entrance to her vagina. It was very warm and meaty and heavy as it pushed against her, not a clitoris, nothing like a clitoris, so big!

Mel made a sound like a sob. He thrust in.

The organ moved into her forcefully on a film of her juices, lusciously, stretching her vagina, dragging flesh with it to pull tingling on her clitoris; sensuous, unutterably erotic--and totally without pain!

It had been years since she had anything larger than a finger in there; it felt enormous. When the massive penis reached the end of her canal she grunted.

He stopped. "Did I hurt you?"

"No." She raised her knees to relieve the pressure. "Don't stop. Fuck me, Melvin." She gasped. Where had that word come from? Never mind, his prick was moving rhythmically, pulling back until only the tip was kissing her inner lips so that it felt as if she were being penetrated over and over, then shoving forward until the rubbery head pressed strongly on the entrance to her womb and the breath was forced out of her and her clitoris leaped with the pressure of his pubic bone. Yet . . . aside from a dull, sensuous ache when he reached the end of her canal and continued thrusting further in, it didn't hurt! She marveled. She hadn't known it could be like this.

Her vagina had been wet and ready for him. It had known. As if it were a separate part of her that held an ancient and incommunicable knowledge, it had known. It had prepared a welcome for the intrusion into her privacy. Mrs. Chard felt as though she had lost control of the situation: even her own body was acting without her direction.

There. See? On their own her hips lifted to meet his thrusts, rotated to cause an ineffable electrification of her genital area.

He groaned and put his arms around her, pumping back and forth strongly. A heady sense of bliss infused her. Helen was right. Men were wonderful. Or maybe it was just Melvin, she didn't care, she was losing herself in him.

Marie was right too. Being on the bottom was thrilling. Being done to had its rewards.

As Mel continued to fuck her, breath hoarse in her ear, Mrs. Chard came to understand that she could relax, move ecstatically in rhythm with his strokes, that she could let him do the work. With another woman she had to be careful to look out for her partner's pleasure; a man seemed to create his own pleasure, a pleasure heightened, she saw, by the enjoyment he was exciting in her.

Without warning her vagina seized the alien meat in a spasm; she couldn't breathe her hips bucked stiff clitoris in his pubic hairs the pressure of his balls against her perineum a shocking surge of liquid. She held him to her, body tensing and relaxing uncontrollably.

He slumped on her, panting. She welcomed his weight, body still moving under his, hips rotating sensuously, giving her a series of mini- orgasms in the aftermath of the delirious seizure, while the heavy pole that still impaled her softened slowly.

She made a broken sound of disappointment when it slipped out. It wasn't fair for it to be over so soon, when she had spent so many years without it.

Breathing deeply, Mel rolled off her and lay by her side. The dear man. He had given her so much joy, thrust it upon her willy-nilly, taken charge of her body, forcing her to respond. That was the way men were; now she saw it as a desirable thing.

She wondered if Leslie got as much pleasure out of their lovemaking, and had a pang of jealousy. If they remained together then Leslie would be sleeping with this marvelous person every night. She had found Melvin only to lose him.

Unless . . . unless he decided not to marry Leslie after all.

If that happened she would set her cap for him. He was twenty-six: there was only a dozen years between them; that wasn't too much. Her heart palpitated at the thought.

She was so grateful to Melvin for having awakened her. Her vagina was throbbing; it had been used, there was no doubt about that, and used well. An old phrase came to her, "well and royally tumbled." That's what had happened to her.

"Thank you, Melvin. It was beautiful."

"Yes."

Something in his voice made her turn her head. His face was grave; his eyes, sad.

"What's the matter, darling?"

"Nothing. I'm a little confused, I guess."

"I know."

Of course he was confused. All this time he had been thinking he was gay. It was a label people used if they enjoyed sex with members of the same gender, and like most labels, Mrs. Chard thought, it did more harm than good. For many years she had sex exclusively with women, lesbian sex, but she had never thought of herself as a lesbian, only that she was enjoying sex with another female person. Now Mel had shown her that the only reason she hadn't had sex with men was that she hadn't known how good it could be. But now would she want to be only with men? Of course not. She loved Marie Argentina and Helen Myers. Just because she was falling in love with Melvin didn't mean she had to give them up.

Maybe Melvin would feel that way about her and Leslie. She hoped so. For their sakes--and for her own, in a way, because if they broke up she would have only herself to blame for spoiling their happiness.

No, if Mel opted in favor of women instead of Leslie, it wasn't any more than would have surely happened later, and that would be terrible if they were already married. She had done the right thing.

Mel sat up. "I better go. I got some things to think about, I guess."

"Melvin, don't look so sad. Everything will be all right, you'll see."

She watched him get dressed, thinking how handsome he was, and wishing she knew what to say to take that baffled, unhappy expression off his face.

He finished tying his necktie. He saw her watching him, hesitated, and sat next to her on the day-bed. His hand caressed her torso from breasts to mound of Venus. It was amazing how alive she was to his touch.

She put her hand on his. "I love you to touch me."

He said, "It was my first time."

"I know. Mine too, in a way," she admitted softly. "I haven't been with a man since before Leslie was born, and with my husband, I never had a climax. I love you, Melvin. Whatever you decide about you and Leslie I'll give my blessing to."

He leaned over and kissed her on the lips.

"I got to think."

Long after he had gone, Mrs. Chard lay relaxed on the day-bed gazing at the gray skies through the window, conscious of a dreamy smile. When at last she stood up to get dressed, Melvin's sperm ran down her leg.

Chapter 16

Helen jumped when she heard a knock on the hotel room door.

The familiar trembling began in the pit of her stomach. She never knew who would be on the other side. Someday, inevitably, it would be somebody she or Howard knew socially. Or someone she didn't know but who recognized the bank president's young wife.

She straightened her sleazy red-satin sheath. Except for a pair of high-heeled pumps, also scarlet, it was the only clothing she wore. It barely covered her from the tips of her breasts to just below her buttocks, but she might as well be completely naked, because every curve, every bump and hollow and undulation of her body showed through the clinging material.

Instead of her usual coiffure, her hair was gathered loosely at the nape of her neck; it cascaded halfway down her back. Dick Turner had insisted; he said it made her look youthful and "bedroomy."

As usual it took all her courage to answer the door. Icy November air blew in to give her bare legs goose bumps.

She recognized the girl, no, the boy, who had been with Howard. Under a woolen coat she, he, was clad in an attractive beige linen dress with an Eton collar. Its conservatism augmented Helen's uneasiness at being seen in the red sheath.

The blonde smiled. "Hi. Dick sent me to tell you that your three- o'clock canceled out. He said you might have to work an extra hour to make up for it. I thought, since you have a little time, we could have coffee together and rap."

She held up covered cardboard cups from the coffee shop downstairs.

Helen had no reason to be friendly with this person, who was the cause of the predicament she was in, but she was so relieved at not having to "turn a trick," even if temporarily, that she stepped aside to let her enter, and closed the door against the cold.

The blonde set the coffee down on the little table overlooking the courtyard through the plate-glass doors and extracted tissue-wrapped pastries from a white paper bag.

"I brought us some jelly doughnuts too. Hope you like them. I'm Amy," she said.

"I'm Hel--Lolly."

That was the "trade name" Dick Turner had given her. Lolly Popp. Helen remembered the humiliation she had suffered when he introduced her to a "john," saying, "We call her 'Lolly Popp,' because she's an all-day sucker. Get it? Lollipop. Haw."

"You're new here, aren't you? How do you like it so far?"

Helen took the cardboard container she was offering. "I don't."

Amy looked sharply at her. "It's not so bad, you'll see. Dick wants what he wants, but when he gets it he's a pussycat."

"That's not exactly the word I use."

Amy gave a bark of laughter. "I know. He's a slime, isn't he?" Her voice altered into an uncanny simulation of Turner's. "Come on, what harm can it do? Just one more john. So what if he's got a whip and storm-trooper boots. Try it, you'll like it."

Helen laughed so hard coffee spilled from her container.

Still with the same voice, Amy said, "Sixty for you, forty for me, right? No, I mean forty for you, sixty for me. No, I mean forty for me, sixty for me. Right?"

Helen sat on the edge of the bed. "Stop! My sides hurt. Sixty-forty! I wish."

"Why? What kind of a cut do you get?"

"Nothing."

"Come on."

"No, really."

"You can't be working for nothing."

"He has pictures of me, and I, I have to do what he says." Helen went from laughter to tears in an instant.

"You poor thing! I should have known. You have too much class to be one of Dick's hookers." She patted Helen's hand and sat opposite her. "That dirtbag has pictures of me too."

Helen sniffled, "Is that why you're working for him?"

"Yeah. It didn't start out that way. I liked it at first. He was so smooth. He made love to me and made me believe he would love me even more if I would do it with somebody else once in a while so he could watch. I was just a college kid. I really fell for him.

"Uh, I don't know if you know this, but it's no secret, you'd find out sooner or later. I'm not really a girl, I'm a guy. Dick got me into dressing like this. Until I met him I was straight as an arrow. I guess I was. I was a virgin, what did I know? I guess I didn't have a very strong sense of personal identity. But then when Dick got me to put on women's clothes it made me feel sexy. He took advantage of me and turned me on to other men and let me believe we'd shack up together like husband and wife. We'd even have some kind of wedding ceremony. I was so happy I made the mistake of calling my parents and telling them I was getting married."

A flicker of Amy's eye told Helen her bare pussy was exposed under the short skirt. She put her knees together.

Amy continued, "I don't know what could have been in my mind. Of course, they insisted on coming to the wedding. What was I going to do? So I asked this girl--she was in one of my classes, I was going to college in my regular clothes--I asked this girl if she'd pretend to marry me for my parents' sake. I gave her some kind of cock-and-bull story.

"Well, Nancy--that's her name--has a warped sense of humor. She substituted a real marriage license for the fake one and got a real preacher to tie the knot. We were really married! Then we had to go on a honeymoon, or at least pretend to, we wound up in Nancy's apartment. I found out I wasn't gay. Or at least not all the way. You can't imagine what a shock that was. Then after a while I discovered I loved Nancy and she loved me. She helped me find myself.

"I told Dick I wanted to quit wearing dresses and get a job. He said no dice, I was too valuable to him. He would send pictures of me to my parents and the police and Nancy. Well, I confessed to her and she forgave me. She said she knew about my wearing dresses. She recognized me from when I bought clothes in the shop she worked in part-time before we were married. Turning tricks she didn't know about, but if I would quit we could start over. I told her about the pictures and she cried and said she would stand by me."

"The poor girl! It must be awful for her. And you."

"Yeah. You're nice, you know that? You got troubles of your own but you still got time to sympathize." Amy gave her a measured look. "I shouldn't tell you this. It's secret. You can't breathe a word."

She shifted her chair forward and leaned close, balancing herself with a warm hand on Helen's knee, and whispered earnestly, "We have a friend who thinks he'll be able to get the pictures. Then we can all forget about that slime and go on with our lives. I wanted to tell you so you know it's not hopeless."

It was a pipe dream born out of desperation. Helen patted her hand. She was so young.

"It would be nice."

"Please don't say anything to anybody."

"I won't."

Amy straightened, cheerful expression returning. "We should have been more like that man they tell about. You know? The blackmailer showed him pictures of him in bed with someone who wasn't his wife. He said, 'These are for sale? Good, I'll take two of this one, three of these--' "

Helen burst into laughter.

There was a timorous knock at the door.

Amy got up saying, "That's for you. Remember what I said. I'll come back another time and let you know if there's anything new."

She opened the door and gave the man at the door a bright smile. "I'm just leaving. Lolly's waiting for you."

He slipped inside as Amy closed the door behind her, and stood looking nervously at Helen. He was thin, of average height, dressed in chinos and a sport jacket under a raincoat that apparently served him as an overcoat. A uniform wouldn't have made it clearer that he was an undergraduate at the college. He stared owlishly through milk-bottle lenses.

He couldn't be more than seventeen, Helen thought.

Damn that Dick Turner. Now he had her robbing the cradle.

The boy looked so uncomfortable that Helen was sorry for him.

"Hi," she said soothingly. "I'm Lolly. What's your name?"

"Huk-Henry." He shied back half a step. She thought for an instant he would bolt.

"I'm pleased to meet you, Henry. Take off your coat and sit down. Don't be nervous, I don't bite."

He stumbled into the seat she indicated.

His awkwardness made Helen feel motherly. She pulled a chair opposite him, sat down, and said, "Would you like to talk a bit first? There's no hurry."

Henry nodded his head quickly.

Poor boy, he was scared to death. Helen thought this must be his first time. It roused her interest.

She set about putting him at ease. "I see your scarf has Chardsville College colors. Are you a college man, Henry?"

"Y-yes."

"Oh, how nice. What's your major?"

He relaxed a fraction. "I don't have one yet. I'm a freshman," he said shyly. "But I'd like to study computer science."

"That sounds interesting. You must be very intelligent as well as handsome." She had better turn the conversation; she didn't want to listen to a lot of technical stuff. "I bet the girls are all over you. Do you have a girl friend, Henry?"

"No," he admitted, "School just started last month. I haven't met anyone yet."

Seated as she was, the hem of her sheath was only a couple of inches below her hips. Helen deliberately let her legs fall apart. She was rewarded by a flash of the thick glasses as Henry's gaze became riveted to her cunt.

He squirmed. She saw a bulge form in his pants.

Helen said softly, "Would you like me to be your girl friend for a little while?" His mouth hung open. He nodded.

She stood up and drew him to his feet. Taking his unresisting hands, she placed them on her breasts. The hands were hot and sweaty through the satin.

"I'd love it if you would touch me while I help you get rid of all these heavy clothes. I like to have a handsome boyfriend put his hands on me."

He kneaded her tits clumsily. He began to pant.

She undressed him. As she knelt to take off his shoes and socks she gave his stiff penis a maternal kiss and saw it leap. This wasn't going to take long: just getting his clothes off and back on would probably take more time than the act itself.

"It's so big," she said. "I can hardly wait. You're so exciting."

"Y-you are too."

She stripped off her dress and lay back on the bed, drawing him down on top of her. She felt his heart pound against her breast. He was so excited and innocent and sweet.

"Henry, I can't wait. I need your big thing."

She clasped it and guided it to her vagina. It was only average in size, but it was surprisingly hot and stiff.

He pushed in convulsively and stroked hurriedly in and out of her while she writhed and moaned under him in simulated passion. After only a dozen strokes she felt the gush of his young seed. She cried out and held him to her, pretending to be in the throes of orgasm.

Wait. What was this? Her body was taking it seriously. Her vagina clamped around the still-stiff cock and a genuine orgasm seized her. Her teeth chattered. She whimpered, holding him close, cunt now flexing rhythmically with pleasure. By the time her spasms subsided he was limp.

He lifted himself on his elbows and looked at her with a bewildered expression.

She explained breathlessly, "You made me come. You're so strong and handsome I couldn't help myself."

His face turned red with pleasure.

Helen relaxed in languor, savoring the aftermath of her climax, and was sorry when Henry got up and dressed. She followed him naked to the door and kissed him on the cheek. She jumped when he pinched her bottom mischievously, and returned the pinch through the front of his pants, making him laugh.

He said, "That was the first time I ever did it. Was I all right?"

"Your first time! I would never have known. I thought you must have had lots of experience, you were so thrilling."

"I'd like to see you again. I'll come back as soon as I can save up. Would that be all right?"

"Oh, Henry, I'd do it for free for you if I could."

Helen peeked through the blinds when the door closed behind him and watched him walk away. Why, he was positively swaggering. She wondered what kind of story he'd tell his college friends.

She went to the bathroom to wipe herself, but she didn't douche. Henry's semen would be a lubricant to make the next customer easier. Come to think of it, she hadn't needed lubrication for young Henry; she was wet when he went in. Sweet child. She hoped his first time had been everything he wanted. She had enjoyed it.

The blood left her cheeks. She shouldn't be enjoying it. She had been forced into prostitution: she had no business having orgasms. What kind of depraved woman was she? Now that she thought about it she realized she climaxed frequently--far too frequently, almost as though she were relishing her degradation.

The next customer pushed by her the minute she opened the door. He was a small man, shorter than she, dressed in a business suit, hair beginning to turn gray. He looked to be in his late forties.

"You're Lolly?"

He took off his jacket and tie.

Gracious, was he double-parked outside? She answered, "Yes."

He removed his shoes and socks. "What would your mother say?"

"M-my mother?"

The man stripped off his shirt, revealing a skinny chest and pot belly. "What would she say if she knew you were a whore?"

Helen's cheeks burned. She didn't answer.

The trousers came off; then the boxer shorts. His penis was limp and hooded.

"Eh? What would your mother do to you if she knew you were selling your body? Answer."

Helen guessed, "Send me to my room?"

"No, she'd spank you. She'd spank the lewdness right out of you. Take off your clothes."

Helen obeyed, a thrill of fright seizing her. She wasn't enjoying this one, at any rate. The man looked harmless enough, but he was either crazy or acting out some fantasy. Her nervousness increased when she saw that although he was ogling her nudity, his cock remained flaccid.

He said, "Since your mother's not here I'll have to do it for her. I'll sit on the bed and you can get across my lap."

"Oh, no."

His face was a study in frustration. "You are a whore, aren't you? Answer me."

It did violence to Helen's emotions, but she muttered, "Yes."

"You defile yourself with men for money."

Helen agreed sullenly.

"Did your mother raise you to be a slut?"

"No."

"No. She raised you to be a sweet little girl and not let men touch you down there. So you deserve a spanking."

"I'm not going to let you spank me. Anyway, you're not my mother."

His look of frustration grew. "She's not here, so I'll take her place."

Helen shook her head.

He burst out, "Listen, I paid the man extra for a spanking. If you don't let me, I want my money back."

Helen was non-plussed. Dick Turner had known what he wanted to do and had sent him to her anyway. She trembled. Could she refuse? No sooner had she formulated the question she knew she didn't dare. She would have to go through with it.

Meekly she followed the man to the bed and lay across his lap, perfectly humiliated. She controlled a shudder: his hands were on her, one holding her waist, the other caressing her ass, spreading her cheeks, feeling between her legs. She squirmed. In her upside-down position the blood rushed to her head. She felt like crying.

He mumbled tonelessly, "So young. So beautiful. Men have debauched this maidenly body."

The hand that had been fondling her ass left her. In an instant there was a smack. Her buttocks stung. She winced. She just had time to think, Hey, that really hurt! before he struck her again. And again.

She tried to wriggle off, but he held her. She heard herself howl.

The burning slaps continued. She jerked each time he struck her. Her whole ass was glowing.

In the midst of her pain and humiliation she became aware that her body was responding sexually to his mistreatment. Each spank, with its residue of heat, caused the organs between her legs to deliquesce, to gather tension preparatory to orgasm.

Something hard and hot was prodding her belly. The man had become erect.

He let go of her.

She scrambled off his lap and stood weeping, holding her ass with both hands.

He panted, "Have you learned your lesson?"

Helen sobbed, "Yes. Please don't hurt me any more."

"Get down on your knees in front of me."

She submitted, scared of what he might do next, ass glowing. She wouldn't be able to sit down for days.

He spread his knees and began pulling his erection back and forth. Helen watched in a daze. The head was swelling, a turgid red, pointing directly at her. With no warning it emitted a squirt of whitish fluid. She flinched as it splashed just under her nose and trickled thick and slippery over her compressed lips. Successive jets landed on her breasts. She held still while the prick softened and only a drool emerged. He shook the remaining drops on her, got up coldly, put on his clothes, and left without a word.

Helen stood up carefully and put a tentative hand on her burning ass. It had hurt. The man was not in his right mind. She was lucky he hadn't done anything worse.

She showered the slime off her body, then dressed, still feeling unclean; and gingerly sat down to wait for the next customer.

It was the man who liked to play doggy. He looked like an accountant, bald except for a fringe of hair above his ears, eyes small behind thick lenses, and wore a brave little mustache to proclaim his manliness.

He made her get down on all fours and called her a bitch in heat. He got down with her, circled her, and sniffed her ass. Mounting her from behind, he made vague growling noises, hands gripping her waist, cock plunging back and forth in her vagina. She winced each time his pot belly slapped her aggrieved buttocks. Head down, she could see his balls swinging between her legs with each stroke. From the angle it almost looked as though they were hers.

Irrelevantly, amidst her shame, she remembered looking at Suzie and wishing she, too, had a prick and balls, real ones, not like the dildo Howard sometimes wanted her to strap on and use on him. The thought sent her over the edge. With anguish she felt her vagina shudder. A whine issued from between her clenched teeth as she CAME, ass lifting to make the penetration of her cunt deeper.

A gush of hot slippery juice filled her quavering pussy. The man's balls dangled incongruously below her vaginal lips as the pumping went on, as her cunt writhed around his prick.

He pulled out. Helen remained where she was, tears of despair spilling from her eyes, making little dark spots on the rug. She had done it again. Even her total abasement had not prevented her from climaxing; even her loathing for this little man had not been proof against her body's prurience.

When she heard his zipper close she got up tiredly and put on her dress, not looking at him. Her ass still hurt from the spanking.

She finished wiping herself in the bathroom and returned to put on her shoes. He had gone.

Her next customer, a heavy-set man in his middle years, had also paid extra for "special service," she discovered. He wanted her to disrobe and suck his cock. He held her ears while she submitted to him on her knees. When his semen had finished spurting, he continued to hold her connected to him; after a while she had no choice but to swallow the stuff. Her stomach churned.

He got limp in her mouth. She moved to pull away, thinking it was over, but he restrained her. Imagining he wanted her to make him erect again, wondering if he could, Helen massaged the squirmy organ with her tongue, suffocated by the nutty odor of his pubes, still tasting his semen.

The taste changed. It got salty. A second later she realized her mouth was filling with a thin, hot liquid, and a heartbeat after that, that he was urinating.

She tried to pull her head back.

"Swallow it," he hissed.

Her mouth couldn't contain it. It spilled from the corners of her lips, drenching her breasts.

He crammed her face into his crotch. "Swallow it! The man said you would drink it."

Helen's throat moved. She tried to pretend she wasn't there, that she was with Estelle, in bed with her, loving and being loved, instead of being made to gulp a stranger's urine.

It wasn't poison, she reminded herself. If Estelle or Jack or Suzie ever wanted her to drink their piss she'd do it gladly. The intimacy would be exciting. She knew they'd do the same for her. But here, and with this foul man, it was revolting.

He finished at last and let her go. She staggered to her feet holding her hand over her mouth, ran to the bathroom, and vomited into the toilet.

Chapter 17

Leslie looked at the clock with annoyance. Twelve-oh-four, just one minute later than the last time he had looked. When ten o'clock had come and gone with still no sign of Mel, he put on the nightgown he kept in Mel's closet, got in bed, and sat up expectantly. Since then he must have been in and out of bed a dozen times. Every time he heard footsteps in the hall he jumped up and waited with bated breath to see if Mel would come in, only to hear some other door open and close.

He wished the apartment were not at the rear of the building. It was quiet, overlooking a garden, but he couldn't see out into the street to keep a watch for Mel's car.

Mel was supposed to meet with Leslie's mother this afternoon for a "chat," and for a while there Leslie had allowed himself to hope, to imagine that after talking with Mel, his mother would agree to let Leslie move in with him. That was out, anyway. If she had said yes, Mel would have come straight home and they would have had a celebration.

He told himself it didn't matter. Mel was right. He was twenty years old now, no longer a child. It would be nice to have his mother's permission, but he'd go ahead and move in anyway. Not all at once, perhaps, little by little instead, staying over from time to time like now, then maybe a couple of days in a row on a weekend, until she was used to not seeing him around.

Mel should be home by now. He knew Leslie was waiting to hear the outcome. Could she have talked him into dumping him? Threatened him, or bribed him, until he had agreed not to see Leslie? He'd never forgive her, or Mel either.

He leaned back against the pillow and picked nervously at the blanket. He debated calling home. But then he'd have to explain to his mother where he was. He'd left word with Angie not to expect him but hadn't said where he would be. She'd know, anyhow. It was better not to make an issue out of it.

His heart leaped when he heard a key turn in the lock. He made himself sit still until Mel came into the bedroom, red-eyed and with necktie askew.

Despite his resolve to play it cool Leslie heard himself demand, "Where have you been? How could you leave me here all alone? The dinner's all ruined."

"Sorry." Mel draped his coat carelessly on the back of the chair and started undressing.

"Sorry! Is that all you have to say? Where were you since three o'clock?"

"I had a few beers down at the tavern. I had some things to think about."

"You smell like a brewery. Are you drunk?"

Leslie was afraid to ask about the talk with Mrs. Chard. Mel rarely drank; Leslie had never seen him intoxicated. For him to tie one on must mean things had gone worse than they had anticipated.

"Yeah. Drunk with love. The beers didn't hurt none, though." He laughed and climbed into bed, cock lurching heavily. "C'mere, you."

Leslie was swept into a vigorous hug. The odor of beer was overwhelming, but his anxiety was allayed: Mel was saying hello, not good-bye. He had a reprieve.

"Oh, Mel," he sighed, and let himself be kissed.

His lover's prick was firming against his belly. He reached down surreptitiously and freed his own. No use taking chances. He'd had a hormone shot only two days ago, but they only reduced sexual reaction; they didn't eliminate it.

"What happened with Mom?"

"I'll tell you later. Right now, I want to . . ." He sat up, caught his balance, and pulled the covers off them. "I want to see what I got here."

He lifted Leslie's nightgown and peered intently at his genitals. Leslie felt like covering himself with his hands, but made himself hold still for the tipsy inspection. Mel leaned over and rubbed his face in his crotch, inhaling deeply.

"God, you smell good," he mumbled. "Like walnuts somebody pissed on."

Leslie felt the man's tongue wash the sensitive skin of his "labia." Mel's nose was buried deep in his crotch. His warm breath sent shivers up his spine.

The tongue moved to the opening of the skin bag, licked around the rim, speared inside, reaming the moist internal surface. Leslie squirmed. His penis swelled, only to be engulfed by Mel's pulling mouth.

"Oh, Mel," Leslie whispered, "Turn around so I can do it too."

The man's head turned from side to side, no. In a moment Mel let go with a liquid kissing sound.

"No, I'm gonna shaft you after. Right now, I want to suck your cock and drink your jism." He resumed his up-and-down massage.

It was kind of like when Mel handcuffed him: Leslie had a feeling of being out of control. Mel was fascinated by his penis tonight; he seemed determined to lavish affection on it, and what Leslie wanted didn't count.

He gave himself up to the luxury of being sucked off without having to do anything in return, basking in the erotic attention of his lover's mouth. It was not long before an exquisite agony seized his genitals. His cock pulsed rapidly, emitting jets of sperm, their velocity increased by the suction. It was ecstasy. He heard Mel swallow repeatedly. The sound increased his rapture.

When his ejaculation was over Leslie's whole body relaxed back against the mattress--he hadn't known how tense he had been--and he wallowed in the delicious sensation of drained testicles, panting. He was full of love and joy.

Mel climbed over him, spread his legs, and without preliminaries shoved his prick up Leslie's ass. Leslie winced and raised his knees, tilting his hips to ease the penetration. He was glad he had douched and lubricated himself before going to bed. Mel stabbed in and out without gentleness, absorbed in his own gratification. He was in a strange mood tonight. Teeth clenched, Leslie accommodated him, matching his rhythm as best he could, though he always seemed half a stroke behind, and made blissful moaning sounds to let Mel know how much he loved it. His asshole was burning from the friction of Mel's violent passion by the time he felt the warm liquid spurts of his lover's semen fulfilling him.

Mel slumped on him. Leslie sensed a couple of drops of milk squeeze from his compressed tits. He put his arms sweetly around Mel's neck, savoring the diminishing meat in his ass, deliberately clamping it with his sphincter to squeeze out any remaining sperm. At times like this he regretted not being wholly a woman; it would be nice to be made pregnant by Mel's seed.

Mel groaned and rolled off onto his back.

"Jeez, that was terrific," he said. "You're great. I love you." He said it with a wondering tone.

"I love you too. I love you to make love to me. I waited so long for you to come home and do it to me. Sometimes it seems like that's all I think about. Oh, Mel, I never want to go home."

Mel stared at him. He took his face in both hands and kissed him gently, thoroughly, deeply. Leslie was breathless when Mel broke the kiss.

Mel sat up cross-legged, cock hanging to the mattress, a final seep of ejaculate staining the sheet, balls reposing heavily below it.

"Come on, sit up. We have to talk." His intoxication seemed to have diminished.

Leslie obeyed, crossing his own legs. Mel looked at the nightgown covering him, lifted it to expose his penis and "lips," and patted them. He took Leslie's hands in his own.

"I got a lot to tell you. But first I want to ask you a question. You don't have to answer now, you can think about it. Here's the question. Leslie, will you marry me?"

Leslie's heart stopped. "Wh-what?"

"Will you marry me?"

Leslie's lips moved wordlessly.

Mel said, "I know this is sudden, but your mother said she had your birth records changed to show that you were a girl. It's all on file. So if we wanted to get married it would be no problem."

"But . . . my mother."

"She'll give us her blessing. It was her idea. She said she would prefer it to us just living together. That is, if we were willing to make the commitment. I am, but I don't know about you."

"Mom said that? Married?"

"It surprised me too."

"But--"

Marriage! Not just being Mel's mistress. It was his mother's idea. He had a sudden vision of himself in a wedding gown saying, "I do." He would be able to go home with Mel and everybody would know they were sleeping together, but it would be all right, they'd be married. He'd be this man's wife. He'd have to do everything he was told, but instead of handcuffs it would be a ring. They'd live together like a respectable married couple, and no one would know about him. Tears flooded his eyes and made the room shimmer. His mother had suggested it herself. That made it perfect.

Mel said, "Wait a minute before you answer, because I have something to tell you that might change your mind." Mel looked down. "I don't know how to say this. First of all, remember I told you I was gay? Well, it turns out I'm not." Mel's face was red.

He went on, "I found out this afternoon. That's why I was so late getting here--I had to think things over. I mean, it wouldn't be fair to you if I turned out to be straight-arrow. It really had me going for a while. Then I began to figure things out. If I still liked to do it with you, then maybe I was like one of those guys I told you about, you know, half and half." His words came haltingly. "And maybe you wouldn't mind. Because, I finally figured it out, it ain't who you can do it with, it's who you love. And that's you."

"How did you find out?"

"Yeah, well, that's something else I have to tell you about. See, your mother asked me if I was gay, and I said yes, and she said how do I know if I was cherry when I met you. Then, I don't know how it happened, Leslie, but we ended up in the sack together, and I wasn't turned off. I could do it. It knocked me for a loop. I wasn't going to tell you, but then I thought if I was going to propose I ought to start out being honest."

"You, you made love to my mother?"

Sheepishly, "Yeah."

"You fucked my mom!"

Mel shrugged.

Leslie gave himself time to assimilate the news. He was not as shocked as he thought he should be. He had known ever since he was thirteen that his mother was an unconventional person, and the gratitude he felt for her suggestion that they get married blunted the outrage he might have felt. Instead, he had a sneaky little feeling of titillation when he pictured his mother and Mel together. He wished he could have been there to see it.

"Did you like it?"

"I gotta tell you the truth. Yeah."

"A lot?"

"Yeah." Mel hesitated as if trying to make up his mind to go on. "I liked it so much that's why I was worried. It wasn't until we made love just now that I was sure I loved you as much as ever. More."

"What did you do?"

"With her? Oh, you know, made love to her."

"No, use the right word. You fucked her. You fucked my mom. Tell me. Where was it? Did you both have your clothes off?"

A shamefaced grin flickered on Mel's lips. "I feel like I was in Interrogation down at the station house. It was in that room behind the bookshelf. Yeah, we took our clothes off and did it on that sofa that only has pillows for a back."

"The day bed. Was she on top, or were you?" Leslie remembered that his mother had always wanted to take the man's role when she was with him.

"I was." He sounded surprised.

"So what did you do? Did you put your thing in her? Did she like it, or was she just testing to see if you were gay?"

"Yeah, she liked it, I guess. She came. And after it was over she was all kind of soft and mushy-talking with me. Affectionate, you know?"

Leslie observed a certain fattening of Mel's organ, so soon after ejaculating.

"Did you go down on her like you did with me?"

"No!"

"Would you like to?"

Mel's prick was beginning to stand up. The very tip was peeking through the foreskin.

"I don't know, I never did it."

"It's nice."

"How would you know? You never went down on a woman."

"Yes I did. Mel, you've been so honest with me. Remember when I said I never did it before except for--that time in the park? I lied. Maybe not lied exactly. I never did it the way we do it. But when I was young I used to do it with my mom until she took up with Mrs. Argentina. Now you know my secret. I liked it too, so I'm not all gay either. In fact, sometimes I wish . . ."

"Yeah? Your own mother did it with you? She's a pistol, ain't she? Are you okay about it? I mean, if you were just a little kid it wasn't like it was your fault. Some people would say it was child abuse. I heard it could do a lot of psychological damage."

The cock was rigid and vibrating.

"No, I already told you I liked it. It was wonderful for a young boy just barely in puberty. Mel? I don't care if you fucked my mother. If you still want me, I'll marry you any time you say. And I promise I'll love you forever and I'll try to be the very best wife you ever had. If you ever want to, well, want to go with a woman sometimes, I'll understand. Even if it's my mom."

Mel threw his arms around him and kissed him soundly. "Stay right there. I got something while I was thinking things over."

Prick bobbing stiffly, he returned with a small square black box and put it in Leslie's hands.

Leslie's heart was in his throat. He opened the box to see the multi- hued sparkle of a diamond.

Mel said, "I hope it fits. I took one of your rings down to the shop for the size."

By comparison with Mrs. Chard's jewelry, the diamond was tiny, but it was from Mel and it was an engagement ring, that was all that counted. It was more precious to him than anything he had.

"Oh, Mel, it's beautiful! You shouldn't have. You can't afford this." He slipped it on his third finger. "It's just perfect. Now I'm yours. I'll always be yours. Oh, darn, I'm crying again."

Mel put his arms around him and held him until he sniffled happily, "Well, what are you waiting for? What do husbands do with their wives?"

He squealed when Mel pushed him back and unceremoniously entered him again.

As the whole length of Mel's tool was shoved up him Leslie gave a groan of satisfaction and whispered, "If you want to pretend I'm my mom, it's okay."

Mrs. Chard stood in the drawing room after breakfast, gazing absently at one of the portraits of her and Mrs. Argentina.

She thought she had made the right decision, but was troubled by doubts.

It was right, wasn't it? Now that she had come to terms with Leslie's situation, with the help and understanding of Helen, it was surprising she had never considered it before in a practical way. Of course Leslie would seek to be with a man. What choice did he have? That business with Alice had been a happy accident--the girl had been very young, her sense of propriety imperfectly formed, and she had an inclination toward lesbianism which Leslie's figure satisfied. Mrs. Chard had briefly considered locating the girl to explain the situation and perhaps arrange a marriage between them. But a second thought showed that to be unrealistic. So long as Leslie was in dresses they would just be two girls living together.

Besides, she knew now it was possible for two males to be happily married. Jack and Suzanne had pioneered the way.

Leslie hadn't come home at all last night, and hadn't phoned. She wasn't worried about him; she knew where he was. She wondered about it, however. If Melvin had gone straight to his apartment after leaving her he would have been there by six; and if all had gone well, she would have heard from Leslie soon afterward.

So many things could have gone wrong. What had happened between Melvin and her had been a shock to the poor man. He had left the mansion deeply disturbed. He might have decided that since he was not gay, at least not entirely, he would prefer a more normal life with a woman instead of a boy masquerading as one. There would be no secrecy, no need to hide anything, no fear that some day his reputation might be ruined by an accidental disclosure of Leslie's true gender.

Or he might have told Leslie what had gone on between him and her. Leslie could have become upset and broken off with him. She hoped not. Her seduction of Melvin had seemed the right thing to do at the time. They did have to find out if he could respond to a woman. What she had not anticipated was the strength of her own reaction to having intercourse with him. She saw now why Leslie had fallen in love with Melvin. He was so handsome, so strong, so gentle.

That was a dangerous area. She forced her mind away from it. If Leslie were angry about what had happened she could explain it, she was sure. But he had to be here for her to do that. Where was he? She picked up the telephone to call Melvin's apartment, hesitated, hung up.

Her stomach lifted when she heard Leslie's clear voice in the entrance hall. He was saying a cheerful hello to Angie.

He peeked in, saw her, and a moment later was in her arms.

"Oh, Mom!" he cried. "I'm so happy, and I have you to thank for it. Thank you, thank you for being so understanding. Look!" He held up his left hand, manicured fingers splayed to show a small diamond ring. "I'm engaged."

Mrs. Chard's knees got weak and she had to sit down. "I'm glad for you. He's a lucky man."

"It was all your idea, wasn't it? Oh, Mom, you're wonderful. He's wonderful. Everything's wonderful!"

Leslie pirouetted. The short skirt flew out to reveal he was naked under it.

"Leslie! Cover yourself. Is that the way a young lady dresses on the street? You should be ashamed."

"Oops." He straightened his dress. "Mel likes it."

"Hmp. I suppose if Melvin told you to take off your clothes in the middle of Maple Avenue you'd do it."

"Probably. Wouldn't you?"

"Leslie."

"He told me what happened."

Mrs. Chard's face heated. She didn't pretend to misunderstand. "It was for your own good. He had to know, one way or the other."

"And you were the unwilling sacrifice."

"Leslie, what's got into you?"

"Something nice." He rubbed his behind suggestively.

It shocked her. Her expression must have told him so.

"Oh, Mom, I'm so happy, I can't help teasing. I love you."

"You're not angry with me?"

"Of course not. I feel closer than ever to you." He sat down next to her. "Up to now you've just been my mom, someone I had to obey like a law or something, like an external force. But now I see you as another human being, one I love. You really are human, aren't you?"

"Leslie, what a strange thing to say. Of course I'm human."

"And you have loves and weaknesses and things you're ashamed of like all of us."

"Of course."

"I never knew that. I want to be friends with you. I was thinking about it on the way over here. Can we talk to each other like friends now that I'm going to be a grown-up married woman?"

Mrs. Chard's heart melted. "Of course, darling. I want that too."

"And we can tease each other, and come to each other when we're in trouble? Oh, Mom, this is such a big step. Marriage. I just know I'm going to need advice. It's not your run-of-the-mill marriage, you know. I'm kind of scared."

Mrs. Chard put her arms around him. "Leslie, my dear."

"Mom? Mel liked it. With you, I mean."

Mrs. Chard took a second to say, "But everything's all right between you?"

"Oh, yes. Wonderful. He said he finally figured out the main thing was who you loved, and that was me. But I think he's half in love with you, too. When I asked him about it I could see just remembering it made him excited. Did you like it too?"

Mrs. Chard wasn't used to personal questions from her son, but she managed to say simply, "Yes."

"Tell me. Doesn't he have a nice thing? Did you like it when he put it in you?"

"Stop teasing."

"I'm not! I'm just so proud of him, and I love you both, and I'm curious. Tell me how you felt. I'd tell you."

Mrs. Chard could hardly believe she was having this conversation with her child. She blushed and said, "It was perfectly marvelous. He was so big, but so tender he didn't hurt me at all. He made me climax over and over," she admitted shyly.

"I know. He's like that. Mom, I'm glad you liked it, because I'm kind of worried. About, you know, keeping him satisfied. Even I think about girls every so often, imagine what it'll be like for Mel. I was thinking, if you were willing, I mean if you wanted to, if he gets to feeling, well, like he needed some, uh, variety . . ."

Mrs. Chard waited, but he didn't finish the sentence.

"You want me to . . . go to bed with Melvin?" Shades of Jack and Suzanne and Helen! It was the same story over again. Mrs. Chard felt warmth in the region below her navel. It worked for Helen, why couldn't it work for her?

"If you wanted," Leslie said shyly.

"We'll see, dear."

"Oh, Mom, you're the best." Leslie hugged her. "I've got to run. I want to show Joan my ring. Oh, I'm so happy!"

Mrs. Chard smiled, anticipation fluttering in her stomach. She wondered how soon Melvin might want some "variety." Maybe they'd have him over for dinner some quiet night soon. Both of them. After all, she and Leslie had no secrets from each other.

She called after him, "Come back before going anywhere else. We have to discuss wedding plans. And put on some underwear!"

Mrs. Chard picked up the phone and dialed Helen. Their relationship had deepened since that first afternoon; she had no hesitation in asking the question on her mind. ". . . so Leslie thinks she might need advice. Your Suzanne has been through it all. Do you think I could tell Leslie about her so they could talk frankly?"

There was a silence. Helen's voice said, "Oh, my. No, don't. Suzie would never forgive me, even if I explained that you had found out on your own. But let me do this. I'll tell Suzie about Leslie, and let her make up her own mind. She's a good-hearted child. I feel sure she'll tell Leslie herself."

"That would be even better, if she will. Thanks, darling." Mrs. Chard made her voice voluptuous. "Are you busy today? All this talk about Leslie and Melvin has got me in a state."

An earthy heat throbbed in Helen's laughter. "I'll go over to explain to Suzie and come right there. Pun intended."

Chapter 18

Suzie sat down. "That's impossible. Someone's kidding you."

His mother repeated, "Joan is a boy. So is Leslie. Not only that, Leslie's going to be married."

He had been friends with Joan for almost three years. He would have known.

Or would he? Joanie didn't know about him, after all. He thought about Michael, whom he had always assumed was bisexual because he was Joanie's boy friend, yet had an intermittent relationship with Jack. But maybe he wasn't, maybe he was gay. He'd never heard of Michael keeping company with any other girl, and if Joan wasn't a girl, then . . .

"I can't believe it. How do you know?"

"Estelle told me."

"You didn't actually, um, see them?"

"No, but why would she make up a story like that about her own child? We were talking about Leslie and Mel getting married--Estelle was upset at first at the thought of Leslie marrying a man. She hadn't expected her to form such an attachment. No, it's true, all right. I'm as sure of it as anything."

"But . . . Joan too?"

"Estelle and Marie put them in dresses when they were still very young. They had both wanted girls, and when they saw them in dresses they went overboard. I'm not certain I understand it. The children got used to it, I guess, and went on doing it after they grew up. Still, I'm not so sure it was all that bad an idea; they're certainly quite attractive, like you. You make a better girl than a boy, you know. You were always too delicate for all those roughhouse games." Suzie's mother smiled. "I always wanted a girl too. That's what made it easier when you came back and told me what had happened to you."

"I just can't get over it. Are they wearing falsies? No," Suzie answered himself. "I saw Joanie in a bathing suit last summer. She has breasts."

"So do you," Helen reminded him.

"I know, but--"

Well, why not? Suzie thought. He felt a quickening of his pulse. Leslie and Joan's mothers were both rich. They could afford protogen, same as the master.

He remembered wishing he had a friend to "play" with. Joanie was his best friend. If she were really a boy . . .

His mother was watching him, a hint of smile lurking in her eyes.

"Small world, isn't it?" she said.

"You're not teasing me? They really are boys and their mothers dressed them up like that? That's so strange."

"Yes. And now Leslie's getting married. Like you and Jack," she pointed out.

Suzie's heart was pounding. Other people like him! But--Leslie and Joanie. How could they have been friends so long without him knowing?

He said, "You're absolutely positive."

"Positive. I would never have said anything--after all, it's their secret, and you know how you would feel if I told them about you-- but when Estelle mentioned how worried Leslie was about the problems in a marriage that isn't, ah, mixed, if you see what I mean, I thought I should say something to you. You might want to speak to her. If the poor child knew there was someone else with the same problems, it might help."

"You think I ought to tell them about me?"

"It's up to you, dear."

"I don't know if I could. Oh, dear, I'd like to. It would make me feel less alone."

At his mother's instinctive look of concern, he said, "I don't mean alone alone, I mean, you and Daddy and Jack know about me and like me anyway, so I'm not alone, but it's been like I'm the only person in the world the way I am. It's nice to know somebody else is like me. --You're sure about them."

"Yes."

"I'll do it!" Suzie hugged himself. "I'll tell them."

His mother cautioned, "Perhaps you shouldn't tell them you know. If you just told about yourself, and left it up to them . . ."

"You're right, that's what I'll do. Oh, I can hardly wait! Think how surprised Jack's going to be. Let's not say anything to him. What if we get him to paint a picture of Leslie or Joanie, and let him find out for himself?"

Helen tittered. "That's the most depraved thing I ever heard. Let's."

They laughed at the thought of Jack's expression when the girls disrobed.

Picturing them without clothes aroused Suzie. He eyed his mother.

She said in response to his unspoken thought, "Me too. But I can't stay. I promised Estelle I'd have tea with her."

After his mother had gone, Suzie sat in rising exultation for a few minutes before picking up the phone and dialing Joan.

"Hi! I heard Leslie was getting married."

"I know, she just left. She showed me her ring. How did you know so soon?"

"A birdie. Isn't it wonderful? I'm thrilled for her. Listen, what are you two doing tomorrow? Could you come over for lunch around one? I want to hear all about it. We could celebrate with a mini-bachelorette party. Besides, I want to see the ring."

"We'll be there."

Johnny hung up, smiling at Suzie's enthusiasm. She was such a nice girl. How shocked she would be if she knew the truth. Never mind, what she didn't know wouldn't hurt her. Johnny had a qualm about keeping secrets from his friend, but there was no way around it. She'd never understand. Sometimes he day-dreamed about catching her at home alone and making love to her. He'd never felt that way about a woman before. He remembered the time he'd done it with his mother, who must have found out about Mrs. Chard and Leslie and wanted to emulate them; he'd never been able to do it again, though she'd tried. But there was something special about Suzie, something enormously sexy and exciting. He sighed. No chance.

Suzie met them at the door, breathless, explaining she had just put a quiche in the oven. She was rosy from the stove; a lock of light brown hair fell across her forehead. Her dress was a silk paisley; she wore stockings and high heels in her role as hostess. It made Johnny feel underdressed in a wool sweater, skirt, knee socks and loafers, especially since Leslie was also dressed up, in a burgundy cashmere sheath and heels. They took "visiting" so seriously.

"Oh, Leslie, I'm thrilled for you!" Suzie threw her arms around her. "What a lovely ring! I wish I had one. Jack and I were too poor when we were married."

She turned to Johnny and hugged him. As she stepped back, he realized her hug had lasted longer than it should. It made him uncomfortable in a pleasurable way.

They chattered through lunch, Suzie asking all about Melvin and insisting that Leslie bring him to dinner.

At one point she sobered briefly. "Mom said you were a little nervous about it all?"

"A little," Leslie admitted.

"Don't worry, I'm sure you'll be a wonderful wife. If there's ever something . . ." She paused, as if trying to phrase her words delicately. "If there's ever anything you want to talk about, maybe I can help. One old married woman to another." She looked earnest and pretty and very young.

Johnny smiled wryly. Poor Suzie. She was so sincere, but Leslie's problems, if she had any, would be something completely outside Suzie's experience.

Leslie said, "Thanks. Everything's super now, anyhow. Except for not being with him for a month."

Suzie looked bewildered.

Johnny grinned, "They decided to turn respectable and wait until the wedding night."

"Oh. Don't tell me they were doing married things before the wedding! Shocking." She laughed, then said enthusiastically, "I asked Jack if we could give you a special wedding present--a portrait. Years from now you'll be able to see yourself as you were at the time you were married. It'll take some of your time, but Jack thinks two hours a day for two weeks would do it. You could have it in time for the wedding."

"A portrait! I don't know what to say. I'd adore it. Do you think he would paint me in my wedding gown?"

Suzie shook her head. "You know Jack, he only paints nudes."

Leslie's smile faded. "I forgot. I don't know, I'd be embarrassed. Besides, Mel might not like it. For another man to see me naked."

Johnny went to the rescue. He changed the subject by asking, "Is that one your wedding portrait?" indicating the painting on the wall opposite her mother's.

"No, that was done after we moved up here from the city."

"I'm surprised he hasn't painted more pictures of you."

"He has. Lots."

"I've never seen them."

Suzie got a peculiar look on her face. Her breasts rose as she took a deep breath. "Would you like to?"

"We'd love to."

"They're up in the attic. Nobody's ever seen them before."

"Why not?"

"Well . . . you'll see, I guess."

She led the way up the attic stairs. Johnny shivered. It was chilly up here.

Before opening the door, Suzie turned. Her voice trembled when she said, "You both have to promise not to tell anybody."

She was pale. Her eyes were wide and blue and frightened; all at once she looked defenseless. He was consumed with curiosity. Her reluctance to show the paintings must mean they were more than just nude portraits- -after all, she wasn't shy about people seeing the pictures downstairs. Johnny thought they must be pornographic. He intercepted Leslie's glance and saw that was her guess, too. He wanted to see them in the worst way. Jack and her making love, oh, wow!

He said, "We promise." Leslie nodded.

"All right. I would never show them to anyone but my two best friends. I hope we'll still be friends afterwards."

She unlocked the door and turned on the lights.

Why, there must be half a hundred paintings up here, stacked against each other in windrows on the floor and hanging from the rafters. A large portrait was on display opposite them on an old easel. It showed Suzie standing naked at the window of her and Jack's bedroom, one hand parting the chiffon curtains. She had a dewy, pensive expression. Her figure, painted in Jack's inimitable hyper-realistic style, was breathtaking. The picture was--

Wait a minute. Oh, my God, Jack had painted a penis and testicles on her. Johnny caught his breath. It was the most shockingly erotic thing he had ever seen.

Simultaneously he and Leslie looked at each other, then at Suzie. The poor girl was blushing furiously, looking down to avoid their eyes. Johnny turned to examine the other paintings. Every one of them showed Suzie with a penis.

His throat seized, strangling his voice as he said, "They're beautiful! But I don't understand. Why did Jack--?"

In a strained whisper Suzie said, "That's the way I really am."

The first thing Johnny thought was this was some kind of a trap. Somehow Suzie had found out about them and had staged this elaborate charade to get them to admit their true gender.

No, Jack wouldn't have painted so many pictures just to play a little game. Besides, Suzie wasn't that way. He had known Suzie for more than two years: she would never be so cruel.

"I don't get it. It's impossible. I mean . . . you have children. I saw you when you were pregnant. You're nursing them."

Suzie mumbled, "I wore something under my dress to make me look that way . . . and there's a hormone that makes you give milk."

Johnny shot a look at Leslie, whose breasts had milk because of the hormone she took.

Dawning belief showed in her expression.

"Prolactin?" Leslie said, "You take prolactin?"

Suzie glanced up before lowering her gaze again. "I didn't think anybody else ever heard of it."

Leslie was staring loose-lipped at Suzie. Johnny caught her eye and asked a silent question. After a long moment she nodded faintly, a twinkle forming.

Johnny smiled and put his arm around Suzie's shoulders. "Let's go downstairs. Leslie and I have something to tell you."

They returned to the parlor. Without looking at them, Suzie put another log on the fire.

"Suzie," Johnny said gently, "Don't be embarrassed. It's all right. We're the same way."

Suzie's head came up. She stared at them wide-eyed.

Johnny said, "We're boys too. Our moms made us wear dresses when we were little, and we kept on doing it."

"No, you're not!"

Johnny heard something artificial in her exclamation, but continued, "It's true. Not only that, Leslie takes prolactin too. She says it keeps her breasts shapely without using too much estrogen."

Leslie nodded.

"It's so hard to believe," Suzie said weakly. "All this time . . ."

Again there was that hollow note.

Suzie turned to Leslie. "Does it give you milk, too?"

"I'll say. It's so inconvenient." Leslie got a sheepish look. "Mel likes to, you know, nurse on them, and it's like a vicious circle. The more he does it, the more milk they make. Now that we're not--being with each other--it hurts."

"I know! Bobby's sleeping all night now, and if Jack doesn't help out I go around aching until the baby wakes up. They get hard."

"That's right! They do get hard." Leslie gave a surprised laugh.

"You should try a breast pump. You could send Mel a bottle of milk every now and then." She grinned happily and Johnny laughed at the picture she evoked, but Leslie looked earnest.

"A breast pump? Do they have that?"

"Sure. Any drugstore."

"I didn't know. I will, I'll try it."

They all looked at each other, not quite knowing what to say.

Finally Johnny burst out happily, "Why don't we just admit it? We're all dying to see each other."

Leslie and Suzie both turned interesting shades of red. Suzie's eyes glimmered. Leslie looked down at the hands clasped in her lap; a shy smile hovered around her mouth.

Johnny said, "Come on, you know you're as curious as I am." He stood up. "I will if you will." He grasped the edge of his sweater to show them he was willing to take it off.

Suzie said, "Oh, Joanie, stop. You're such a tease."

"I'm not teasing. I mean it. I'm curious. I saw you in those paintings, but it's not like the real thing. Anyway, we're different from you, you know. The doctor made it so we don't show down there. Doesn't that make you curious too? Come on, it'll be fun."

"What do you mean the doctor made you so you wouldn't show?"

"He sewed our skin together to make a place to hide our things."

"Oh-h." Suzie said to Leslie, "Want to?"

"Well . . . Where's Jack?"

"Upstairs in his studio. He won't be down until dinner time. When he's working, it's like being alone in the house."

Leslie's blush deepened. She whispered, "Okay."

Johnny took off the knit sweater, aware that the shape of his nipples was outlined plainly through the rayon of his slip. He opened the zipper at his hip and let his skirt drop to the floor and stepped out of it. He kicked off his shoes and stripped off the knee socks.

The room was comfortably warm from the stove, and the Oriental rug was soft underfoot.

When he looked up, Suzie and Leslie had made no move to follow his lead. They were watching him.

He suffered an attack of modesty. "Come on, you guys, no fair. You have to, too." They looked at each other, smiling at his expense. Suzie stood up and slowly unbuttoned the front of her dress. She wasn't wearing a brassiere or a slip, probably to make it easier to nurse Bobby.

Leslie whispered, "Are you sure Jack won't come in?"

Lifting the hem of her dress to pull it over her head, Suzie said, "Not a chance."

Leslie crossed her ankle over her knee to take off her shoes. Her breasts lifted as she raised her arms to unhook her dress at the nape of her neck. Rising gracefully, she took the burgundy cashmere off over her head and reached behind to unfasten her bra.

Suzie, naked but for panties and stockings, draped her dress over the back of a chair. Her figure was so perfect that for an instant Johnny thought he and Leslie had been tricked. Then his heart leaped when he saw the bulge in her nylon-lace bikinis. They were pink; the garter belt had pink ruffles to match.

He looked at the two girls. "Girls," for there was no other way to think of them, even undressed. He had bigger boobs than either, due to the plastic surgeon's art, but Suzie's breasts were perfectly formed, tipped with brown areolas that bulged from the surface and sensuous- looking nipples the size and shape of pencil erasers. He started to wonder if her breasts were natural, and then realized they had to be, since she was nursing Bobby. Leslie's tits, also natural, were smaller, but pert and round.

Both their waists were narrower than his, and Suzie's hips were wider than either of theirs, perfectly simulating those of a teen-age girl. By contrast Johnny looked boyish. Well, he hadn't had the help of hormones. It wasn't a bad way to look, anyway; Michael liked it.

He took off his slip, feeling diffident because his own panties were no-frills white cotton, practical against the cold, not as dressy as Suzie's. He was glad to see Leslie's were cotton, too.

He pulled them off.

Suzie was staring at him. "But, but--"

Johnny knew what she was thinking. "I told you, the doctor made it so we wouldn't show."

"But there's nothing there! And you have l-lips." Suzie looked stricken. "You were fooling me. Why?"

"No, really, it's just kind of--inside."

"She's telling the truth," Leslie chimed in. "Joanie, show her."

Johnny pried his prick loose from the scrotal container. It was still moist from his last trip to the bathroom. His hands wanted to cover it, but he made them remain at his side.

Suzie said, "Oh, gosh, it's true! I'm so excited. I never knew anybody like me before. But where are your, you know, your--?"

Johnny said hastily, cheeks heating, "Up inside. The doctor pushed them up and put a stitch across so they couldn't come down."

"It's marvelous!" She turned to Leslie. "Did he do the same to you?"

For answer Leslie put her knees together and slipped out of her panties. The only way you could possibly guess her true sex was by noticing that the mound of her "vulva" was larger than usual, but since the "labia" formed by the seam were so generous it looked as though she had been born that way.

"Oh, gosh, it's beautiful. Can I see?" She bent, tits hanging, to peer between Leslie's legs. "I can't see how--it looks so real!"

She turned to Johnny. "Can I see how it goes in?"

He stretched the opening with thumb and forefinger of one hand and pushed his penis in as if he were putting on a sock, until even the base was concealed. The opening showed only as an inconspicuous crescent of skin, hidden by his pubic hair.

He took it out again, embarrassed by its moistness. He hoped it didn't smell.

"No fair," he said. "It's your turn."

Suzie took off her panties. Her entire genital region was hairless. Her cock, circumcised like his own, swung above tender pink balls.

Johnny said, "You have a nice one," before his throat choked up. He wanted to touch it.

He saw Leslie give a start and swiftly pull her penis out of hiding. She had a look of dismay. He knew she was excited; she had to release her prick before it got hard. Yes, it was swelling, rising, head beginning to emerge from the foreskin. It was larger than either of theirs. Suzie was looking at it too. The sight must have aroused her; her organ jumped into full erection.

He couldn't help it. His own prick stiffened violently.

Suzie's voice shook. "Oh, gosh, it's so exciting. I'm glad I showed you those paintings. All these years and we didn't know." She grinned suddenly. "Look at us. We're all turned on."

Johnny moved toward her. "Can I touch it?"

"Oh, yes, I want you to. I want to hold both of yours too. Is it all right, Leslie?"

Leslie joined them. Johnny clasped Suzie's cock with one hand and put his arm round Leslie's waist, pulling her closer, seeing Suzie grasp Leslie's penis, then feeling her cool fingers hold his.

They moved closer together until their erections touched, closer yet, until their bodies were in contact. Leslie's arm was around Suzie, hand cupping her shapely ass.

On its own, Johnny's hand began pulling back and forth on Suzie's rigid member.

She gave a whimper and started to masturbate him in return. He saw her hand move on Leslie, too.

Johnny was beside himself with excitement. Never in his wildest dreams would he have imagined that he and Leslie and Suzie would be jerking each other off. He was already close to coming. Another time, when they were calmer, they would be able to engage in some pretty interesting three-ways. If Leslie didn't get priggish about being married to Mel.

Suzie's cock was beautiful; her balls had shrunk up against its base, rosy and sexy-looking. The organ was exquisitely stiff; it hummed in his fingers.

It pulsed.

A spurt of semen arced violently onto his hip and trickled down his skin. The organ continued to pump. Mischievously, Johnny swung it to direct it at Leslie, catching her in her belly-button, then turned it back to himself to enjoy the sticky warm splash of seminal fluid. God, it kept coming. Suzie must not have had sex for weeks.

As if her ejaculation was a signal, Johnny's own genitals spasmed in Suzie's moving grasp. He was seized with ecstasy. He cried out, only peripherally aware that Leslie was shooting too.

Long after their orgasms were complete they stood together, skin to skin, arms around each other, a sensuous triad of Graces with declining members.

Leslie looked down at herself. She said, "Oh, ick. You both came all over me."

They started giggling and couldn't stop until Suzie hiccuped and gasped, "I'll get us some towels."

While she was gone Johnny said, "Can you believe it?"

"No! It's marvelous. I never saw someone like us before. I mean, without clothes. Mel pointed out a girl one day. Oh, dear, what would he say if he knew I'd been unfaithful?"

"I won't tell."

Suzie came back with oversize bath towels and they scrubbed themselves.

Johnny said, "I still can't get over it. I mean it's such a coincidence. And we never knew. --What's the matter?"

Suzie's eyes were overflowing with tears.

"I'm just so happy. I'm glad we know about each other. I've been so alone," she sniffled.

Johnny and Leslie put their arms around her until she stopped crying and blew her nose in her towel.

She shivered. "It's getting cold. Oh, and it's beginning to snow."

They looked at the windows. Numb snowflakes patted the panes. There was frost on them. It felt good to be inside on a day like this.

Suzie put more firewood in the stove and they got dressed again and sat like young ladies at a tea party, as if nothing had happened, smiling secretly at each other.

Leslie said abruptly, "You're so beautiful. What kind of hormones are you taking?"

"The prolactin, when I'm nursing." Suzie sounded surprised. They had just been talking about it.

"No, I mean to make your body so shapely."

"Nothing."

"I don't get it, you must take something. Even with prolactin for my breasts I have to take a booster shot of estrogen every month, or else they shrink and I start to grow body hair."

"My doctor treated me with protogen when I was thirteen."

"Protogen? What's that?"

"Protogen. I thought you and Joanie--"

"Joan doesn't take hormones, she has breast implants and had electrolysis done when her beard began coming in. I never heard of protogen. What is it, a new kind of hormone?"

Suzie said, "You should ask your doctor about it. It's not a hormone, it makes your body produce all the right hormones by itself. The trouble is, it's permanent. You can't go back to being a man. Also, it makes you want sex a lot. A lot. If I didn't have Jack I don't know what I'd do. Even so," she said sheepishly, "I have to do it to myself sometimes."

"Really? That's better than not having any desire at all, which is what happens after my booster shot. Who's your doctor?"

"His name is Goody. He has an office down in the city."

"Dr. Goody! He's our doctor too. Why didn't he give us protogen?"

Johnny reminded her, "She said it was permanent. Remember, when our mothers took us to him it was their idea, not ours. He promised to make it so everything could be undone."

"That's right! But we're not ever going to change back. At least I'm not. I have Mel to think about. We can ask Dr. Goody for protogen," she said eagerly.

"Speak for yourself. I'm happy the way I am. In fact I was thinking about getting smaller implants. Michael likes me to look kind of boyish."

Suzie's expression was thoughtful. "He does?"

"Well, he's gay, you know. He likes my slim hips. When we get to his apartment he likes me to put an elastic bandage around my chest and wear boy's clothes and tuck my hair up under a cap. Besides, I'm not sure I trust all these chemicals and hormones."

"It hasn't done Suzie any harm," Leslie said. "I'm going to see Dr. Goody tomorrow. It'll be my wedding present to Mel. It's scary though. It sounds so--irreversible."

Suzie nodded, "It is."

"If I think about it, I know I'm not ever going to change back, but it's always been a comfort to know I could if I wanted to. But I really think I'll do it. It'll be my commitment to Mel, show him how much I love him." She shivered. "I'm scared to death just thinking about it, but excited too. How long does it take?"

"It took me three or four months, but you're already so, um, well- developed, it might be less time for you."

"Want to come along? You could have Dr. Goody disguise you down there like us. It doesn't take any time at all, and the stitches can be removed whenever you want if you don't like it."

Johnny could see she had already been thinking about it.

"I might! I'd have to talk it over with Jack, though. Maybe if you pose for him he can see how nice it looks."

"Oh, dear. I don't know what Mel would say about another man seeing me naked. Especially since then the man would know about me and Mel. But if Mel knew about you and Jack . . ."

"Gosh. It sounds like everybody in the world will end up knowing. I mean you two, and I guess your mother and mine, and now Mel . . . We have to be careful because of the babies."

"Mel won't say anything. He's very discreet. Besides, he wouldn't rock the same boat we're all in. He's Chief of Detectives now and couldn't afford any scandal. Babies!"

"What? I didn't hear them."

"No, I mean, how did you come to have them?"

Suzie shifted uncomfortably. "We have a friend, an unwed mother who helped out."

"The same one for both of them? A year apart?"

"I guess she didn't learn her lesson." Laugh muscles pulled at the corners of her lips.

"It's funny, before I knew, I always thought they looked so much like you and Jack. Shows what tricks your mind can play."

A wail sounded from the bedroom.

"Oh, dear, now you've done it. I told you not to say the word 'babies' around here," Suzie scolded. "Now Bobby thinks it's time for his mid-afternoon snack."

She exited the parlor and returned with the baby in her arms. "That's the trouble with breast feeding. It's so inconvenient, you always have to be there. No rest for the weary. It's hard, sometimes."

Leslie said shyly, "Would you like me to help?"

"What do you mean?"

"I could nurse him for you."

"Gosh, that's right, you could! No, it's too much trouble. I'm used to it." Apparently noticing Leslie's wistful expression, "Unless you really want to."

Leslie said, "I'd like to try."

Suzie showed her how to hold the cooing baby. "Don't worry, he'll be all right. All he's interested in is food, and he doesn't care where he gets it from. Just like a man. Aren't you, my little angel?" She tickled him and made him gurgle.

She helped Leslie unfasten her top and pull it down. "You can give yourself a little tug to get started." She gripped Leslie's nipple between the knuckles of her forefinger and middle finger and pulled. "Oops!" she exclaimed as a squirt of milk splashed on her. "You must really need it."

"I told you," Leslie blushed. "Now that we're waiting for the wedding they're always full."

"You should have asked me," Johnny said. Seeing Suzie touch Leslie's bare breast aroused him.

Suzie shot a look at him. A glimmer appeared in her eyes when Leslie said, "I will next time," as if she were picturing it.

Leslie's face turned blissful as Bobby glutted himself, making hideous exuberant slobbering noises.

Suzie watched. She said slyly, "Sexy, isn't it?"

Leslie gave a surprised laugh. "I wasn't going to say anything. I thought there must be something wrong with me."

"It's like that with everybody, I think. You better switch to the other now. He's about half through."

Johnny watched the domestic scene, a little jealous of the girls' ability to produce milk. Maybe he should have his implants removed and take hormones. Or that protogen. No, it sounded too irrevocable. He liked being a boy in girl's clothes. He didn't want to be as thoroughly female as they were.

Suzie was a boy! He couldn't get over it. His whole world had turned upside down. For almost three years he had clung to the Landons as a rock of normality in his own bizarre world of masquerading as a girl, having a boy-friend, pretending, pretending . . . and now Suzie had turned out to be just like him. How many others were like them? Leslie had said something about another girl that Mel had showed her. He'd ask her about it. Maybe they should start a club.

And Jack. No wonder he had sex with Michael. He was married to a boy! Sex with another male was nothing new to him. Johnny's throat got tight. He remembered the size of the man's cock last summer and the muscular body. If he knew about Johnny he might be interested. So soon after ejaculating Johnny's prick warmed. He forced his thoughts away from the subject.

Leslie said, "He's such a darling."

With evident reluctance she handed the sleeping satiated baby over to Suzie, who cuddled him tenderly before taking him back to his cradle.

Johnny smiled at Leslie as she buttoned up the front of her dress. "You looked natural."

"What a relief. I didn't know how full they were. --That was nice," she said shyly. "I really liked it. It was, oh, what's the word, nurturing, wasn't it? I was really giving the baby something he needed. When Mel does it, it's fun, but that was useful! It made me happy inside. --Oh gosh." Her eyes widened as she looked at the window. "It's really coming down. We better go before we get snowed in."

Snow was piling on the sill; the world was white outside.

It would be nice to be stuck here, Johnny thought, cozy inside with Suzie and Jack. He imagined them all sharing a bed.

He shook the image away and followed Leslie to the kitchen. Suzie joined them and agreed they should leave unless they wanted to stay the night; although it was only fifteen miles to town, the snow was piling up swiftly. Johnny wanted to accept her offer to stay, but he shouldn't let Leslie drive home alone. He took one last look at Suzie, picturing her penis under her skirt, clutched his coat about him, and dashed after Leslie to the car. He'd be back.

Chapter 19

It finally happened, just before the snow started.

She emerged from a bakery in downtown Chardsville hugging the Savarin Montmorency she had bought for tea with Estelle Chard. It smelled warm and delicious through the box. The aroma of wild cherries soaked in kirsch that filled its center vied with the fragrance of sweet rum permeating the cake.

Estelle would be pleased. She had spoken nostalgically of the savarin she had enjoyed in Paris, not realizing that the French bakery here in town offered the prize.

Helen was looking forward to spending the afternoon with her friend. She needed the comfort and affection of another woman's arms after yesterday's four hours at the Mariposa taking on five customers, more than one an hour. The last one had wanted her to play-act his mother and spank him. When she realized he was serious about her giving him a spanking, she let herself go and revenged herself for the humiliations she had suffered, putting all her strength into the slaps until her palm throbbed and his ass was a fierce red. He got hard despite the mistreatment, or because of it, and fucked her. She could see him still pretending she was his mother. She should have been a psychiatrist: there was a wealth of material here.

Her mind whirled bleakly when she thought about the Mariposa and being one of Dick Turner's whores, just like that Amy Dahl, the one who had seduced Howard on Turner's orders. She had come to know Amy, and liked her. She, he, whatever, was being blackmailed too; the pictures hadn't been his, her, fault. Helen couldn't see a way out. Turner had them in his power. Amy's story about a friend who would get the pictures was only a fanciful daydream. She couldn't ever let the pictures be made public, for the world to see the wife of the president of Chardsville's biggest bank having sex with Negroes and Hispanics, for her friends to drool over the sight of her naked body being violated.

But it couldn't go on, either. Her pregnancy was advancing. She was four months along. She didn't really show yet, not in her clothes, anyway, though when she was naked you could detect a swelling of her tummy, but in two months it would be time for her to disappear down to the city to finish her term as "Mrs. Landon." How could she explain to Turner? If she told him the truth, that she was pregnant, he'd have something new to blackmail her with when the baby turned up at Jack and Suzie's. It was so depressing.

Perhaps the worst part of the whole thing was something Helen couldn't admit even to herself. It may have had to do with those years when she had been made to feel undesirable by her husband. That men should want her enough to pay for her services, was, despite her rigid sense of conventionality, sexually exciting. She was genuinely humiliated by having been made Dick Turner's whore, but there remained the fact that she often--too damn' often-- had an orgasm when a customer used her body. All her adult life she had been confined to a routine of lady's clubs, church auxiliaries, gossip, and Respectability jealously asserted. It had taken Suzie and Jack to reveal to her the delights of illicit sex. Now, twice a week, she was going far beyond: she was giving access to her body to all kinds of men in every private way imaginable; and what should have been horrifying was somehow titillating. There lurked in her the fear that if this went on she would succumb to her secret emotions and deliberately elect to be a harlot.

Helen's unhappy train of thought was broken by a grip on her arm. Startled, she looked up into the swarthy face of a stranger.

About forty, he wore a felt hat and a cheap-looking overcoat. He was grinning whitely, but his eyes were cold.

"I thought I reckanized you. Lolly, right? Lolly Popp. You remember me, Tony Scarlatti? I give you a real good time a coupla weeks ago at the Mariposa?"

She did know him. He was the one who had been so rough with her. He hadn't hurt her, but she had been frightened. She had sensed a pressure-cooker of violence in him, imperfectly contained.

Oh, God, she had known it would happen sooner or later. A customer would recognize her. She had been praying it would never come about. Literally praying. She had begun attending church services regularly to beg a God she no longer believed in to keep her secret safe.

Helen felt the blood drain from her cheeks.

"Let go," she whispered, "You've made a mistake. We've never met."

His grip tightened. "Whaddaya mean we never met? I never forget a face or a piece of ass. 'Specially one as classy as you. Look at you, you'd think you was going to a tea party."

"Please. You're confusing me with someone else."

"Come on, Lolly, be nice. Listen, I got an hour before I got to go to a sales meeting, let's get a brew and go down to the Hilbert," naming Chardsville's sleaziest hotel, "and rent us a room. You can keep all the dough instead'a sharing it with your pimp."

Helen jerked her arm, trying to free it from his grasp. "Let me go! I tell you, you've made a mistake. I'll call for a policeman."

He looked taken aback, then said, "No you won't. You're only a hooker. I'll tell 'em you propositioned me."

It was an effective threat. She couldn't risk it. If he told the police she was a prostitute it would all come out. She and Howard would be ruined. She reacted frantically. She didn't cry out for help, but she yanked vainly at his hold and backed away from him until she felt her shoulders against a brick wall.

He stood close in front, trapping her. She recoiled against the wall as if her body could somehow penetrate it, disappear inside it, become hidden from the world.

"Come on, baby, be nice. I got a hard-on for you."

Each word emerged in little puffs of warm mist, tangible on her face. She turned her head to the side. She flinched when he undid the buttons of her coat.

He reached in and clutched her breast.

Helen's lips trembled. "Please." This was going on in full daylight. She couldn't understand why passers-by only glanced at them and went nervously on their way. Wasn't anybody going to help?

The man's face darkened. He squeezed her breast until she whined from pain.

He said, "Fa Chrissakes, what's the matter with you? You got the rag on or something?"

"I don't want to," Helen wailed. "Please let me go, you're hurting me!"

As soon as she spoke she realized it was the wrong thing to say. That was what he wanted. To hurt her.

His eyes slid right and left as if gauging the situation on the street. Apparently satisfied, he said, "I gave you a chance to be nice, right? Now move."

He pushed her into the alleyway between two buildings. She stumbled when her calf backed into a trash can, but he held her steady with a steely control, and forced her down the alley and against another wall.

"So you don't want to, hah? You get all dressed up in them fancy clothes and now you're too good for me. Hah?"

He slammed her up against the wall. Her head bounced and the pastry box dropped from her arms.

His hands lifted her skirt; there was a rush of cold air. The lacy panties she had chosen for her visit to Mrs. Chard were ripped away.

Helen trembled in shock. She knew what was happening but she couldn't believe it. Things like this didn't happen in broad daylight in the middle of a public street. Not in Chardsville. Not to Mrs. Howard Myers.

There was the sound of a zipper. Helen moaned hopelessly when the front of her skirt was lifted again and the man's stiff hot shaft poked against her bald cunt.

He looked furtively at the alleyway entrance and concealed his actions by drawing his overcoat forward. His prick slid hot between her legs. He bent his knees, guided the organ to her vagina, and stood up, shoving it inside. His open zipper scraped her vulva; his belt buckle, still fastened, was icy against her tummy.

Helen stood shuddering as he humped her against the wall. The rigid cock jabbed into her in short, rapid strokes, not penetrating far because of their position, sometimes slipping out altogether, then punching in again.

Over the man's shoulder Helen saw a derelict sit up from a pile of rags and stare at the scene taking place in front of him. After a stupefied moment he opened his greasy fly and pulled out his penis and began to masturbate, staring fixedly at her.

Desperately she whimpered, "Somebody's here!"

He turned his head and leveled a stare at the vagrant. "Want some, pal? Wait till I'm done, then you can have her."

In anguish Helen turned her head away and suffered the rape. She tried to pretend it wasn't happening, but it was no use. When she closed her eyes to shut out the world it only made her more conscious of the warm prick slithering in and out of her down there, and she opened them again.

Her knees shook; she would have fallen if he hadn't been holding her hips. Scalding tears streamed uncontrollably down her cheeks. She hadn't known until now that she was weeping. She had nothing to do with the tears, they were happening without her.

A woman looked at them as she passed the alley. Helen saw the knowledge of what was going on come into her face. She pled with her eyes, but the woman averted her head and walked on.

Other passers-by noticed, but nobody stopped. If she was being raped it must somehow be her fault, especially since she wasn't screaming for help; they were afraid of a scene; it was none of their business, anyhow.

The man pressed against her made an excited breathy sound. Helen's cunt felt the stiff intruder throb. She could almost hear the squit-squit of his sperm.

She held still for it, exercising all her self-control to keep the tragic wail inside her from escaping.

When he pulled out, her skirt fell into place, concealing her again. He stuffed his still-erect cock back in his pants. His forehead was beaded with oily sweat despite the cold.

"I told you I'd give you a good time. You liked it, I could tell. When Tony Scarlatti puts it to a broad they can't get enough of him. I'll tell you what- -tomorra I'm going to ask for you again. We'll continue this discussion, right, babe?"

Helen watched him strut out of the alley. She leaned against the wall, icy with shock. She felt as if she would break into a million pieces if she made the slightest movement. A keening sound came from behind her closed lips. She covered her face and waited for strength.

By the time she managed to control her trembling she felt a tug at her skirt. Opening her eyes, she saw the derelict weaving on his feet next to her, an effluvium of sweet wine surrounding him, still pulling at his prick. He had an ingratiating smirk and rheumy eyes.

"Huh-how abou' me, lady?"

She pushed him away violently, breaking the spell that held her, feeling contaminated by the contact. He reeled back and fell. She wiped her hand on her coat. As she made her way out of the alley, hideously aware of semen drooling from her vagina, she saw him pick up the shredded halves of her panties and rub himself.

Helen went to her car, each step placed carefully as though she were walking on eggshells. The back of her head hurt where it had struck the wall. She didn't know she was still crying.

Her hands shook so much she could hardly put the key in the lock, but she managed to open the car door and get inside and start the engine. She drove blindly through the streets. It was not until she had passed through the gates and stopped in front of the porticoed front door that she realized she had driven directly to Mrs. Chard. Sanctuary.

At the door, the maid took one look at her and wordlessly showed her into the drawing room.

Mrs. Chard's eyes widened. "Helen! What is it? Are you all right?"

Helen emitted an inarticulate sound. Her lips were quivering so much she was unable to speak. "What is it?" Mrs. Chard's voice held alarm. "Sit down, poor darling, and tell me about it." She led Helen to the couch.

Fresh tears squirted from Helen's eyes. "I dropped the cake!" she wailed. "It was such a beautiful cake, the kind you like."

"Cake? What cake?"

"The savarin, just like you wanted!"

"There, there," Mrs. Chard said soothingly. "It's all right, we'll get another."

"It was awful! I came out of the bakery and it smelled so good and I knew you'd love it when we had our tea, and then he--he--"

"Tell me, dear."

"He made me drop the cake!"

"Is that all? Don't cry any more, it's all right."

"He raped me!"

And the whole story spilled from her in a torrent.

Sobbing as though her heart would break, incoherent at first, Helen detailed the violation and the events of the last two months. She found herself growing calmer as her guilty secrets gushed out like pus from a lanced boil. She spared herself nothing, not even Howard's homosexuality. When she was done, an enormous peace settled over her, the first peace she had known for weeks. It was all out in the open; she would take whatever consequences came.

Mrs. Chard put her arms around her, rocking her while her tears subsided. When she was quiet at last the other woman gave her a lace-edged handkerchief to blow her nose.

Mrs. Chard summed it up crisply in a matter-of-fact tone that, oddly, heartened her more than any amount of solace would have done. "Let me see if I've got this straight. Your husband is gay; three months ago Dick Turner took compromising pictures of him, and used them to blackmail you into sex with him. When you submitted, he compelled you to have sex with the hotel's kitchen employees, and took pictures of that to blackmail you into becoming a prostitute for him. Then today, this--Tony, ah, Scarlatti, you said, an employee of Chard Industries--recognized you on the street, forced you into an alley and raped you."

"Y-yes."

"But Helen, why didn't you come to me sooner?"

"I couldn't. I felt so dirty, I was ashamed for you to know. And then I'd have to tell you about Howard, and you would fire him."

Mrs. Chard stood up. "I'm disappointed in you. Did you really think I'd fire your husband? Your husband? And even if he weren't married to you, do you think I'd fire a fine executive just because he was gay? Never mind, I can see you were just protecting him."

She moved to the telephone and dialed. "Mr. Vincent, please, this is Mrs. Chard . . . In a sales meeting? Interrupt him. I wish to speak with him immediately." She tapped her foot for a minute. "Mr. Vincent? This is Mrs. Chard. You have a salesman in your department named Scarlatti, I believe. Yes. --What? He's there now? Good, you can tell him he's fired. Terminate him this instant. No paycheck, no expenses, no severance pay, no references. If he wants to sue, let him, he won't get a nickel. I want him out of the company and out of town as of now, do you understand? You can tell him he was observed on Maple Avenue this afternoon. In fact, make sure he understands that. Maple Avenue. Good day, Mr. Vincent."

Helen shivered at the frost in Mrs. Chard's voice, but a vengeful glee filled her.

Mrs. Chard dialed another number.

"Mr. Greenspan, this is Mrs. Chard. I need full dossiers on three persons. The matter is pressing." She listened. "I understand. Put on as many people as you need to cover your other cases but give this one full priority. The names are Richard Turner, he's part owner," a disgusted grimace crossed her face, "of the Mariposa Hotel here in town. Anthony Scarlatti, until today an employee of Chard Industries, I'll make his personnel records available to you. And a person named Amy Dahl, who has a room at the Mariposa. I want everything, character, history, and most important, areas of financial vulnerability. You know what I mean? --Yes. Immediately or as soon thereafter as you can manage."

Her voice softened when she made the third call. "Melvin? Can you come over here? I'd like you to hear something. It's business. Yes, three hours will be all right."

She hung up. "By the time we're through with them they'll be sorry they ever met you or Howard. Poor dear, you're exhausted. You've had a trying time. Come, I'll tuck you in so you can nap until Melvin gets here. I want you to talk to him."

"Melvin?" Helen asked dully. "Isn't he your daughter's fiancé? I couldn't, I'd be too ashamed. Please don't make me."

"He's a police detective. He can be a big help to us privately. Besides, my Leslie and your Suzanne are friends, it's almost family business. He's very discreet."

"Oh . . . Whatever you say."

"Let's get you cleaned up."

Helen let Mrs. Chard take her up to the master bathroom and submitted passively to her ministrations, whimpering softly with mortification when the woman sat her on the toilet, pushed open her legs, and douched her. She quivered when she undressed her and helped her into bed.

Mrs. Chard ran her hand over Helen's hair and said, "Close your eyes, dear. You're safe now."

"I'm so ashamed."

"Don't be. There's no reason to be. Think of it as a marvelous experience that's over now."

"Marvelous!"

"Helen, darling, you're a charming, beautiful, respectable lady. Nothing can change that. No matter what happens to you. But just think--how courageous you are! You have such an enormously rich and varied life. It makes me envious. You had two babies, not exactly out of wedlock, but with men other than your husband, and with his approval--I always wondered about that," she smiled, "until you told me about him just now--and like me, you committed incest with your son; and you're having an affair with your son-in-law.

"But now it turns out you have fulfilled every woman's deepest fantasy. You've been a prostitute! And none of it was your fault. You don't have to feel any guilt about it. Don't you see how delicious that makes it?

"I know you were raped," her soothing practical voice went on, "and that can't have been much fun, but the man will be punished, I assure you. He'll never work again, and he'll know he has you to thank for it. Time heals all wounds. Some day you might even be aroused by the memory of it. Remember, it wasn't your fault. You don't have anything to be ashamed of. Except for not confiding in me sooner."

"Really?"

"Really."

Helen's eyes stung again. "You don't hate me?"

"Don't talk drivel. I love you, my dear."

"I love you too. I only wish I hadn't dropped the cake." She tried a shaky smile.

Mrs. Chard laughed. "You see? Things aren't as bad as all that."

"Could you, could you lie down with me and hold me?"

She closed her eyes, hearing the rustle of Mrs. Chard undressing; sighed as the slender woman slipped into bed and nestled warmly against her.

Mrs. Chard's voice was soft in her ear. "Tell me what being raped was like. Please? How did he do it?"

"It was awful! He pushed me up against a wall right in the middle of the street and squeezed my breast in front of everybody. Hard! It hurt."

"Poor darling. This one?" Mrs. Chard caressed her breast.

"Yes. Oh, that feels good. It's like you were making it all better," she said childishly.

"Then what?"

"He took me in the alley and made me stand against the wall, and then he tore off my panties. I felt so naked. Everybody could see. There was someone else there, but he didn't help me, he just sat and watched everything."

"Someone else! Who?"

"I don't know. A vagrant. He was sitting near a garbage can."

"Oh. Then what happened?"

Mrs. Chard's thighs were making little squirming motions against each other.

"He called me Lolly!"

"Lolly?"

"That's what Dick Turner named me. A 'trade name,' he said."

"Lolly. It's kind of cute."

"It's disgusting! Lolly Popp. He said I was an all-day sucker," Helen sniffled.

"Oh." Mrs. Chard's squirming quickened. "Then what did he do?"

"He pulled up my skirt and took out his thing and stuck it in me. It went on so long!"

"Standing up!"

"People kept looking, but nobody stopped. He made me stand there and did it to me over and over in plain sight of whoever passed the alleyway. Then when he was finished he told me he was going to come to the hotel tomorrow." She shuddered violently.

Mrs. Chard held her. "There, there. It's all over now."

"Oh, Estelle, you're so wonderful to me. I want to do something for you. I want to make love to you."

"Even after being abused by that man?"

"Especially after that. I want to make you happy. I want to love your--down there--with my lips and tongue until you can't stand it any more, and then I want to hold you in my arms until you know how much I love you."

"I want to do it too. Your story got me all excited. You lie there, I'll turn around and we can do it at the same time."

"He was in me down there!"

"It's all right. You're all clean now. I want to, so you won't remember him, you'll only remember me."

In a moment her head was between Helen's legs and her tongue was working slippery over the tender responsive area that had been despoiled so recently. Helen sobbed with kindling passion, hearing, feeling, the other woman lick repeatedly, and turned to the snow-pink vertical lips that awaited her mouth.

Chapter 20

Johnny's heart pounded as he drove the car up the long driveway to the farmhouse and let the snowy ruts guide him around back to the kitchen door. He squinted against the brilliance of the snow in the noonday sun, glad to be here at last. It had taken all morning for the snowplows to get around to clearing Suzie's road. He'd driven by three times before the road was open.

He had wanted Leslie to come with him, but she was off with Mel and her mother, busy with wedding plans. Then he thought he would wait a few days, not act like a child with a new toy.

But he just couldn't wait. He'd hardly slept last night for thinking about Suzie. He wanted to see her again, if only to assure himself that the bombshell she exploded yesterday hadn't been a dream.

All this time his friend, mother of two, sedately married to a strong, vigorous man, had been a boy in disguise. It was incredible.

No wonder he'd been attracted to her. In some subliminal way his subconscious must have known.

He turned off the engine and sat trying to catch his breath. In a minute he'd go inside. She'd probably be busy with housework and the kids, but he could help out, it was no more than he'd done in the past, and maybe . . . maybe later they'd find an opportunity to be alone together. And maybe, if she wasn't too embarrassed about yesterday, she'd be willing to repeat their mind-boggling performance. At the thought he became aware that his penis was warm in the skin pocket between his legs and was already half swollen. He glanced furtively at the kitchen window to make sure he wasn't observed, reached under his skirt, and tugged the organ free of its restraint. Now that he knew about her, there was no way his peter was going to remain soft in her presence. He let the elastic of his panties, sheer nylon today instead of cotton, pin it against his tummy. It poked into his belly-button.

Remembering how underdressed he felt yesterday, he had clothed himself with care this morning in his new sheath. It was ashes-of-rose in color and hugged him neatly about his slim hips while only hinting at his waist. A band of lace trimming the yoke gave it an air of modesty in contrast to the way it showed off his breasts.

A freezing wind sprayed ice crystals at him as he opened the car door. He shivered, drew his coat tight around him, and crunched through knee-high powdery snow in the galoshes that encased his pumps. He had wanted to be very feminine today, but the country always made it difficult.

The door opened before he had a chance to knock.

Suzie, a delighted expression on her face and a wide-eyed child clinging to her skirt, said, "Joanie! What a nice surprise. I thought I heard a car, but the snow muffles sounds. Come in before you freeze to death."

"I should have called, I know, but I was just driving around, it's such a beautiful day, and thought I'd drop in. But if you're busy . . ."

"Don't! Stay. I'm so glad to have company. On days like this I feel trapped without anybody to talk to. Let me just put Lucy down for a nap and I'll make us a pot of tea."

Johnny smiled at Lucy, who giggled and hid her face against Suzie's leg. He slipped off his snowy galoshes, saying, "Hi, sweetheart. Are you going to have a nap like a big girl? Come to Aunty Joan and she'll tuck you in while Mommy makes some tea. Do you know the story of the three bears?"

The toddler put her hand trustingly in his and let him lead her to her crib in the bedroom. She held her arms proudly in the air for him to pull her dress over her head; it was clearly a new accomplishment. He told her she was a BIG girl, lifted her into the crib, and pulled the tape on her diaper to check her for wetness. At this age her vaginal lips were plump and prominent and innocent--it was a shame, he thought, remembering his mother coming on to him when he was in puberty, that little girls had to grow up to be women. Kittens grow up to be cats, he thought ruefully. He rediapered her and told her about the three bears, watching her fondly as her lids got heavier and finally closed. He couldn't get over how much she looked like Suzie. He knew now that Suzie wasn't Lucy's mother, but the resemblance didn't go away. It wasn't just all in his head: she had the same rosebud lips, the same blue eyes, same hair, same sweet smile. It was amazing.

He pulled the comforter over her and tiptoed back to the kitchen. There were little frosted cakes on the table. Suzie was at the stove pouring hot water from the kettle into mugs. She wore a simple woolen skirt and light sweater, a reversal of their outfits yesterday. Her shoes were tasseled loafers worn without socks.

The kitchen was warm and cheerful with light reflected off the snow. An aroma of fresh-baked bread reminded him how accomplished a housewife his friend was. He didn't blame himself for being fooled; nobody would ever believe she was a boy.

Now that they were alone Johnny felt timorous.

He said quietly, "She's fast asleep."

Suzie turned. "Oh, lovely. She's so good for you. It would have taken me half an hour."

They sat to enjoy their tea as they had so often in the past, but there was a new tension in the air. They caught each other peeking out of the corners of their eyes, looked away hastily.

The wind outside buffeted the house. Small creaks and sighs emphasized the stillness within.

Johnny asked, "Where's Jack?"

"Where else? In the upstairs studio working, dead to the world."

He caught a note of bitterness in her voice.

"Why, what's the matter?"

"Nothing. I wish he didn't work so hard, that's all, that he had more time for me."

"You're lonesome."

"No, it's not that. It's just that sometimes . . . I need him. If you know what I mean. Especially when nothing happened the night before. It's frustrating."

"Oh."

Johnny thought about what she said. His penis, which had been swollen but still soft, hardened suddenly under the waistband of his panties.

With a voice gone rusty he said, "Maybe I could help."

"What?"

His face was hot. "Remember what we all did yesterday?"

She went crimson and looked down. "I wasn't going to say anything. I thought you might want to forget it happened."

"No. I thought about it all night."

"So did I. I was hoping you'd come over. I was going to call."

"Really? I'm glad." Johnny let a moment of silence go by. He said, "So. Do you wanna?"

Suzie's teeth flashed in a sudden grin. "Joanie!"

"I know. It's a failing. Everybody thinks I'm so bold. I never learned to approach things delicately. So do you?"

Her face was still red, but her eyes were clear and direct. "Yes."

"What about Jack?"

"He's upstairs."

"No, I mean, well, would he mind if we . . . I mean, if he found out. Would he be mad?"

"I don't think so. No, I'm sure he wouldn't. Anyway," Suzie said with a hint of defiance, "I don't say anything about Michael, do I?"

Johnny laughed. "Sauce for the goose."

"Darn right."

He cleared his throat. "Ah, that's a hide-a-bed in the parlor."

"Yes."

"Let's go in and open the bed and get undressed."

"Oh, yes. I want to."

The parlor was warmer than the kitchen. The stove made fluttering noises as the fire burned.

Suzie pulled the bed out and turned to him.

"I'm really excited, but I feel kind of shy."

"I do too," Johnny admitted. "We shouldn't feel that way, should we? After yesterday. That was nice." He turned his back. "Could you unhook my top?"

Fingers busy at the back of his neck, Suzie said, "What a beautiful dress. I never saw it before. Is it new?"

He felt her tug the zipper down. Her lips pressed briefly and softly on his back. He shivered.

"I got it last week." Still with his back to her, he slipped out of the dress and pushed down his panties. They caught briefly on one of his heels and he had to catch his balance. His cock throbbed.

Suzie said, "Let me see." She held him by the waist and turned him, staring at his erection. "It's not inside. I thought you always--"

"I do. But I can't when it's hard. If it gets caught in there it feels like something's going to tear--or break," he smiled. "Hey, it's not fair, you're still dressed."

"I love the way you look. It's so strange. There are just lips under it. It gets me all turned on."

She took off her sweater and skirt and kicked her loafers off. When her panties came down her prick sprang loose. It was so stiff it vibrated. A leak depended from the tip. Her testicles swung tantalizing below.

Johnny said, "I love the way you look. Your balls are sexy."

He stripped off his stockings and garter belt and sat on the bed gazing at her.

She sat next to him and nudged him with her bare shoulder. "What'll we do?"

"I don't know, what do you want to do?'

She said, "I don't know, Marty, what do you want to do?"

Johnny laughed. "Do you want to do like yesterday, or something more?"

"Oh, more! Lots more. Don't you?"

"Yes."

"I could do it to you with my mouth," she said bashfully. Or I could--put it in you, like Jack does to me."

Johnny's prick twitched violently. He would love it. Michael never did that to him any more.

He swallowed. "That would be nice."

"Really? Are you sure?"

"It's been so long. Michael likes me to suck him off instead. If you want to, I'd love it."

"It would be nice to be the one on top for once." Suzie's voice trembled. He saw her breasts jiggle with the beating of her heart.

Johnny lay on the center of the bed. In a moment he felt her trying to turn him over on his back.

Suzie asked, "Don't you want me to do it to you?"

"Yes, but . . . Oh."

She wanted to do it to him from in front. He thought he would pass out. He'd never done it that way before.

He opened his legs when she knelt between them.

She was looking at the juncture of his legs. The layers of his scrotum had shrunk with excitement and were tight against his crotch. He knew that at moments like this his "labia" looked very real.

"Oh, gosh, it's just beautiful," she said. "There's a little hole," she touched him, making him flinch, "back here too. So you can clean?"

"N-no. That's where I t-tinkle when it's inside." She was getting him more and more excited.

"Oh-h. I didn't know you could do that."

She bent suddenly, silken hair falling over his skin, and planted a kiss between his legs. "You smell good." She pulled at his thighs. "Lift up your knees, I want to get you wet. Oh, no, I see. You already have something. Did you know we'd be doing this?" There was mischief in her voice.

"I was hoping," Johnny gasped.

She pushed at his knees. "Higher. I can't wait any longer."

He held them pressed against his breasts with his hands, feet in the air. Her eyes were intent as she guided her prick to him. It pressed unerringly on his hole, an exquisite poignant sensation. He grunted as the vaginal jelly allowed its slow entry. It felt so strong, so hot and hard, driving into him.

She lay on him, tits soft against his, eyes looking inward in rapture as the penetration continued. At last her balls pushed softly against his ass. He exhaled sharply, and wriggled around the stiff organ.

Suzie held still, thrust all the way up him, and smiled shakily. "Do you like what I'm doing?"

"Yes!"

"Me too. It's wonderful to do it to you, you're so tight and you feel so soft under me."

She bent her head and sucked his nipples. He felt them grow stiff in her mouth. Tingling spread in his groin. He held her to him. Michael was never like this.

She drew back, the length of her cock sliding out until just the neck was clamped by his sphincter, then pushed forward while he squirmed ecstatically. It went on until the friction of her prick burned his asshole and the rhythm took him outside himself, body writhing with delicious agony.

The motion changed. She was still pushing in and out, but now the head of her organ was pressing hard against some part of him just in front of his rectum. It was unbearably titillating.

His erection softened slightly, and as it did so, spewed a load of semen on his belly and he shrieked as it went on and the muscle in his crotch tried to pulse but couldn't quite because the prick inside him inhibited its reflex and his ejaculation went on and he squealed again in rapture, losing his substance through the orifice in the head of his penis.

He lay gasping for breath, wincing now each time Suzie's cock moved back and forth.

She rammed in hard, making him grunt. Her blue eyes squeezed shut. The shaft impaling him pulsed. Pulsed again. He felt the discharge of her sperm, a gush of fluid deep inside him. It pumped again, and continued pumping. There was so much of it! He remembered her saying she needed sex a lot. No wonder, if this was the result of only one day's deprivation.

At last the surge of fluid diminished. Suzie was lying on him with her full weight, panting in his ear. He held her close while the organ inside him got softer, shrinking in length as well as width. When it slipped out, a gout of liquid followed it, leaking down the crack between his cheeks.

Never in his life had his body been so stimulated. She had totally emptied his balls. He might never come again. Yes, he would. She had forced him to give up his sperm, but she had replaced it with gallons of her own.

The thought made him laugh softly.

"What is it?" Suzie said dreamily.

"Nothing. I'm happy. I've never been fucked so hard before--and by a girl, at that!"

Suzie giggled and rolled off him. "If you think that was something you should see Jack."

"I should?"

"I didn't mean that. Don't you dare. I meant, well, he's something special. Did you like it when I, um, massaged that place?"

"Oh yes. Oh yes!" Johnny wriggled. "I never felt anything like it in the world."

"Jack taught me that. It drives me wild when he does it. Of course, he's, ah, bigger than me, so it happens even when he's not trying to do it. Sometimes he makes me come two or three times in a row before he's done with me."

"Whew."

"Are you all soft?"

"I'll say. I feel like I'm never going get it up again. You drained me." He became aware of pressure in his bladder. "I have to get up. Go to the bathroom."

"Good, I was just going to ask. Would you put it . . . inside . . . so I can see how it looks again, and then let me see you on the toilet?"

Johnny blushed. Some things were private.

She said, "I don't mean to be personal--" She hesitated, then laughed. "More personal than before, I mean. But I was thinking I might have that done, and I wanted to see what it would be like."

"Okay." Johnny sat up and inserted his limp penis expertly.

Suzie's eyes were bright as she said, "It's beautiful. You look just like a girl. You could never tell."

"Leslie and I used to shower with the girls in school after gym, and nobody ever knew."

Suzie stood up, cock, balls, and tits jouncing. "Come on, let's go up to the ladies bathroom. It's more comfortable than the one down here."

"Like this? Jack's up there. What if he sees us?"

"We'll run and hide."

Barefoot, they mounted the stairs. Johnny's heart began to pound again. Suppose Jack did come out? To go to the bathroom himself, for example. It would be kind of thrilling, he thought.

He sat on the toilet; Suzie squatted in front of him. Modesty made it hard to pee, but he finally got a stream started, and then his bladder relaxed. As usual the scrotal "pocket" swelled with the first surprisingly hot burst of urine, only belatedly spraying out the aperture in the rear and through the interstices between the labial stitches.

Suzie looked fascinated. Her breath came short. She stared hard, pushing his thighs apart on the seat so she could see everything. For seconds after his bladder was empty the spray continued as the pocket drained. He pressed the sensitive skin to force the remaining drops out.

"Oh, let me." Suzie touched him, pushing toward the rear, applying pressure on his flaccid organ with her fingers flat. It gave a weak throb, as if it wanted to become erect again. She was an exciting girl. He had never been so intimate with someone.

She said, "Then do you wipe yourself?"

"Yes," he said shyly.

Suzie took some toilet paper and dried him, patting the rear aperture several times.

"But it's still all wet inside, isn't it? Do you take it out and wash yourself?"

"I guess I should, but I kind of like it. I take a bath when I get home. Sometimes," he added, "when I'm in my bath I use a douche nozzle to spray soapy water through."

"It's amazing." Suzie peered at him. "Your balls are up inside you and even up close I can't tell you have a thing. Can I take it out?"

She fumbled at the root and finally managed to pry his prick loose. She held it flaccid in her fingers looking at it.

Without warning she bent close and sucked it into her mouth.

Johnny's cheeks burned. It was all wet with piss. He started to push her head away. Wait, she was erect again. Her prick was poking straight up as if she had never ejaculated. She was turned on by his wet cock. He lost his timidity. But his penis only squirmed limply in her mouth--it was too soon after coming. He could take care of her, though.

"Stop a minute. Let's go back downstairs."

"Wait, I want to wash." She soaped her erection at the sink and rinsed with a soft washcloth.

Arms about each other's waist, they returned to the parlor. Her boner bounced stiffly as they descended the stairs.

"Lie down," Johnny said softly. "Let me take care of everything. Pretend you're a man and I'm your slave and I have to do anything you say. I'm here only for your pleasure."

She stiffened and gasped. Her face turned red. The little mouth in the head of her prick gaped with the pressure of the swelling.

Johnny said, "What is it? What'd I say?"

"I--I'll tell you later. Please. Go ahead. Suck me."

"Patience. See? You're acting just like a man. No patience."

He knelt over her delicate body feasting his eyes. Her cock was beautiful, so stiff and straight and pink, head turgid and shiny. As he watched, a clear trickle of slippery fluid welled out. The balls under the organ were forced tight up under its base by her excitement. She was trembling, eyes glazed, curls spread out on the pillow. A drop of milk stood on each nipple. Remembering Leslie talking about how sexy nursing was, he encircled a nipple gently with his lips and sucked warm sweet liquid into his mouth. She wriggled. Her breath came faster. He swallowed and shifted to the other breast. Out of the corner of his eye he saw her prick tremble.

He swallowed the savory fluid again and let his lips leave the nipple to trail down the soft skin of her belly, kissing her gently, wetly, feeling the tremor in her body. He kissed the white pubes, and, avoiding the shaft, went lower to lick the inside of her thighs.

He took her balls into his mouth one by one and lavished them with his tongue. She tasted clean as Ivory soap; a giddy nutlike aroma filled his nostrils. Her crotch was baby-bare, sweating lightly in the warmth of the room. He nipped gently at the skin of her scrotum, and heard her moan of pleasure. She jumped when he let her balls fall out of his mouth and licked straight up her penis. Slowly, lavishly, he enveloped the steaming head with his lips and moved down, lower, until it pressed against the back of his mouth. Without faltering, he opened his throat to let the organ penetrate. It was much easier than with Michael: her prick was smaller than his. He made an unhurried luscious production of it; by the time the whole length was engulfed and his nose was pressed against her bare flesh, he had begun to run out of air. He controlled his instinctive reaction and held on a moment longer, massaging the shaft luxuriously with his tongue.

She was groaning. The hot cock trembled in his throat. It wouldn't be long. He moved up, inhaled through his nose, and down again. The sound of his slurping was loud in the room.

Her body tensed. He jammed his face into her crotch, prick far down his throat. The organ jumped. As the first jet of semen spewed forth, he compressed his lips about the shaft, and pulled back up steadily, feeling it pump its viscous fluid down his throat, tongue curling around it until it emerged from his gullet and his mouth began to fill. God, it kept coming! And she had already ejaculated, not twenty minutes before. He swallowed, swallowed again with elation, sucking the juice from her as her hips bucked in ecstasy. She was moaning continuously, trembling all over. It was like she had never been blown before.

When at last the pumping slowed and stopped and she began to flinch each time his tongue laved the sensitive head, and her cock was a softening weenie in his mouth, he stripped it one more time and let it fall out, limp and wet against her belly.

He sat panting on his knees watching her roll her head from side to side, recuperating from the experience.

"Oh," she said. "Oh."

Tears leaked from under her lids.

Johnny felt enormously rewarded. He had never before, even when he and Michael were young, given somebody so much pleasure. He had really affected her.

Well, she had affected him, too. His anus still felt her cock, and that place she had stimulated so wildly remained sensitive inside him. A leak from his hole and the taste in his mouth reminded him that she had filled him with sperm from both ends.

His penis wasn't ready yet--how had she got so hard so soon?--but his mind was filled with excitement and prurience. It was so nice to be here with her, private in this bright room with the sunlight reflecting off the snow and the cast-iron wood stove giving off a friendly warmth, having intimate sex with his best friend, the pleasure heightened by the spicy danger that Jack might come down and catch him naked. He hadn't been sure Suzie would want to repeat yesterday's performance when he got here, but he knew now that they would play together many more times.

Suzie opened her eyes. A tremulous smile stretched her lips.

"Oh Joanie. You were wonderful."

"So are you. You really came, didn't you?"

"Like never before. How did you do that?" She blushed. "Get all of it in, I mean."

"You hold your throat open like chug-a-lugging."

"What's chug-a-whatever?"

"Chug-a-lugging. It's what college kids do. They tilt back their heads, open their throats, and drink beer without swallowing, just pour it down. It takes practice," he added.

"It was wonderful," she sighed. "Could you teach me, do you think?"

"Later. I can't right now."

"How did you ever learn to do that?"

"Michael taught me. Or made me learn." Johnny laughed. "He held my ears and kept shoving in deeper and deeper, so I had to learn. He likes it. The trouble is, that's all he wants me to do these days, and after he comes he doesn't want sex any more, so half the time I have to pull myself off. Like you when Jack's working."

"Oh-h." Suzie looked thoughtful. "It sounds like Michael isn't being too good to you."

"I don't know, sometimes it's pretty exciting. He made me do it to him in a men's room once. Last month."

"A men's room!"

"Down at the railroad station. Not the main rest room, but the smaller one in the back with the marble walls? No, how would you know? Anyway, he had me wrap an elastic bandage around my chest so my tits wouldn't show so much and put on jeans and sneakers, and we went in the men's room."

"Gosh!" Suzie sat up. "Suppose somebody recognized you?"

"I know. I was scared. Nobody did, though. I looked like a boy."

"Then what?"

Johnny couldn't help blushing. "He made me sit on the toilet with my pants down. The booth didn't have a door. I kept my legs together so nobody could see there was anything missing under my thing. Then he stood in front of me and made me blow him."

He blushed again. That was only part of the story. He'd sat there bare- assed, sucking Michael's prick in full view of the other men in the room, heart racing for fear one of them was a vice policeman or something, face burning with shame. What made it worse, he had a big hard-on.

They could have done it in the privacy of Michael's apartment, but these days Michael seemed to need some kind of extra spice, and the risk, the daring of doing their private things in front of others turned him on himself.

Johnny was glad when, sooner than usual, Michael came in his mouth. He started to get up, but Michael prevented him as a stranger in a business suit came forward unzipping his fly.

"Come on, kid," the man said softly, "share the wealth," and unceremoniously poked his erection in his face.

Michael just stood there, a hint of a smile on his lips.

He pled silently with his eyes until the man grabbed his ears impatiently, almost knocking the cap that covered his hair askew, and pulled his face forward. Tears of humiliation blurred his vision so he could hardly see the cock he took in submissively. He sucked the man until he came, and then, horrified, four or five others, he wasn't sure how many, all he knew was that his lips flamed and throat ached and his mouth was full of sperm before the washroom was temporarily empty. Michael had kissed him and helped him up with his pants. He still had a hard-on, though. It throbbed until he got home and jerked off.

Suzie's voice interrupted his thoughts.

"Gosh. What would you of done if somebody walked in?"

He shook his head. He said finally, "It was scary."

Suzie stretched luxuriously. "I feel so good. You were wonderful. It was like I was a prima donna or something."

That reminded him. "What were you going to say when I told you to pretend you were a man and I was your slave?"

"Oh." Her arms came down and crossed over her breasts. She turned red. "I-- "

She broke off at the distant sound of the bedroom door opening.

"Lucy's up. You must've forgot to raise the side of the crib."

She jumped off the bed, picked up her panties and slid them on, eyes on the doorway.

Johnny barely had time to stuff his penis into the folded-skin pocket before Lucy toddled sleepily into the parlor carrying her blanket tucked against her cheek. He looked frantically for his clothes.

Suzie caught his eye. "Don't worry. It's all right for her to see naked people. I just don't want her to see me without panties. You look fine." She held her arms out, breasts swaying. "Hi, darling! Come give Mommy a big hug. You learned to get out of your crib all by yourself, didn't you?" She swept the little girl into her arms and kissed her. "What are we going to do with you? We're going to have to get a cage, aren't we?"

Johnny laughed.

Lucy wriggled out of her mother's arms and came over to him. She struggled onto his bare lap, leaned her head against his chest, and put her thumb in her mouth. He closed his arms around her, feeling strange.

Suzie smiled at his discomfiture. "She needs a few minutes to wake up. Hold her while I get dressed, and then I'll take her and you can get dressed." Her smile flashed again. "Or would you rather stay as you are? You look so cute. In fact, you look exciting." She gazed at him, making him acutely conscious of his nakedness. A moment later her eyes turned inward. She said, "Oh-oh."

She put her hand over her groin and turned away, but not before Johnny saw a bulge in her panties. Was she insatiable? Johnny hugged the child to him, mirth pulling at his lips, and watched Suzie get dressed. She tugged her sweater into place and straightened her skirt before meeting his eyes. There was color on her cheeks as she said sheepishly, "Well, I can't help it."

Lucy stirred. She took her thumb out of her mouth and climbed off Johnny's lap. When Suzie said, "Are you all awake now, darling?" she nodded importantly and walked out to the kitchen. In a moment there was the sound of pots and pans clattering.

Suzie said, "Her favorite toys. We never did get to finish our tea. Get dressed and I'll heat up the water."

It was not until they were again seated at the kitchen table, Lucy playing happily on the floor, that Johnny got the opportunity to repeat his question.

Looking flustered as before, Suzie said, "I guess it's okay for you to know. In the circumstances. You said 'slave' . . . Well, I was one."

"You were a slave? What, to drugs or something?"

"No, a real slave. A man bought me and owned me."

"Get out."

"It's true, though. That's how I got this way. He was the one who took me to Dr. Goody."

"How did it happen?"

"I ran away from home when I turned thirteen, and took the bus down to the city. But I couldn't find work. At that age, you know. It seemed like I was going to starve to death when a man took me in and drugged me and sold me to a rich man for a slave. My owner made me put on a dress and brought me to Dr. Goody for treatment--I didn't even know what for--and made me his personal maid. I had to call him 'Master.' "

Johnny couldn't believe his ears.

"What did you have to do?"

"Everything a maid does. Cleaning, cooking, serving at parties, things like that." She looked down. "And other stuff. You know."

"Oh-h." Johnny pictured a young boy being forced to submit. "But couldn't you have got away?"

"How? I was barely thirteen, what did I know? And he kept me in dresses. How could I run away in a dress? Besides--when he, um, did it to me, it threw me for a loop. I began thinking he really did own me. If he could do that to me any time he wanted . . . and make me get on my knees in front of him . . . and then sometimes if he was displeased with me he tied my wrists to a hook in the ceiling and whipped my bottom. It was pretty strong stuff for a kid."

"A kid, huh? You're how old? Seventeen?"

Suzie grinned and wrinkled her nose at him. "I'm an old married woman with two children. I know more than I did then."

"So how did you get away?"

"He died. Heart attack while he was on a business trip. After almost exactly two years, all of a sudden I was on my own in girl's clothes. But Jack took care of me. The dear man," she sighed.

"You were lucky."

"Every day I thank my stars. I'd do anything for him. Anyway, that's what I remembered when you said 'slave.' "

"It must have been awful."

Suzie was thoughtful. "I guess so. It wasn't all bad. I mean, it was better than the streets. I remember how I felt when I discovered that my breasts were growing. Of course I was scared. But I was also excited. You know? It was such a big no-no, tits on a boy."

Johnny remembered his own terror when he woke up after the operation to find the top of his hospital gown pushed out by alien masses. He had been the same age as Suzie.

Her face reddened and she looked away. "And when he did it to me--well, remember I was pretty young. The master was the first person to make me have an orgasm. It was the very first time he did it to me, so I was pretty confused. Afterwards, even though it hurt, deep down I wanted him to do it to me again.

"I guess a lot of people would hate being enslaved, but after a while I got a kick out of it. I didn't know it at first, but I guess I just naturally like to have someone dominate me. You probably do too, so you can understand."

"Me?"

"Sure. Michael could make you let him put his thing in your mouth in a public place where anybody at all could walk in and catch you, couldn't he?"

Johnny thought about it, remembering his hard-on and the sneaky feeling of wicked eroticism that accompanied the acts. He had been crying, but behind it all had lurked the sense that he was being made to do it, so it was okay, that gave him permission.

"I guess you're right," he said slowly. "I guess I do feel that way sometimes. When you said you were a maid I pictured myself, and it gave me a funny feeling. Did you have to wear a uniform?"

"Did I ever. Like a French maid, with a cap in my hair. Black skirt up to here, blouse down to there, and a white lace collar that didn't fasten to anything, tied around my neck with a black bow. My wrists too. I had bare arms but white lace cuffs. And mesh stockings."

"Oh, wow. I wish I could have seen you." He shook his head wonderingly. "Slavery. In the twentieth century. Who would ever believe it?"

He shivered.

Suzie said, "Gosh, it's getting late. I have to get dinner started. You'll stay, won't you?"

That evening Johnny flirted outrageously with Jack. He had never done that before, because he couldn't risk the man making a serious pass at him. But now . . . now he knew Jack wouldn't be repelled by discovering his maleness.

Suzie grinned like a conspirator when he found chances to brush one part or another of his body against her husband, or "carelessly" sit with his skirt hiked up above his stocking tops. Clearly she was confident that her man wouldn't succumb to his lures, but long before the end of the evening Johnny could see something truncheon-like in Jack's blue jeans. He smiled all the way home, thinking that tonight, at least, Suzie would have as much sex as she needed.

Chapter 21

"Ouch," Helen said as they went in to the conference room. "I'd hate to have him mad at me. Did you see his face?"

Mrs. Chard's eyes were wide. "I've never seen Melvin angry before. He's always so even-tempered. This business may have hit too close to home--he could be imagining Leslie being victimized. It's a good thing Turner was out of town. Melvin might have done something rash."

Helen put the cardboard box on the coffee table.

"At least we have the photographs. They must be in here somewhere."

Backed by Mrs. Chard's private telephone call to the judge, Melvin had succeeded in obtaining a blanket warrant to search Turner's hotel suite and to "sequester, transport, or remove from the premises any and all items of a suspicious or incriminating nature, or which might be material evidence of any felony or misdemeanor, or which at the sole discretion of the investigating officer, ought to be seized, preempted, or confiscated, without let or hindrance or recourse to further orders of execution," all of which meant he could do anything he wanted.

Mrs. Chard insisted on accompanying Melvin and his detectives on the raid. She wanted to be sure nobody saw the photographs before she and Helen had a chance to get rid of them.

As it turned out it was Melvin who found them. Mrs. Chard and Helen had been vainly looking through Turner's desk for an envelope of the kind Helen remembered, when Melvin dropped a largish box on the desk top. Deep wrath smoldered in his face.

"This was hidden under the closet floor. I checked it out. It's what you're looking for." He glowered, "I don't like extortionists."

There were hundreds of photographs in the box.

A mere glance was enough to bring color to the ladies' faces. Mrs. Chard closed the box hastily.

"Thank you, Melvin," she said softly. "We'll dispose of these. There's no need to make them public, I think."

"Yeah. Anything else?"

"We found these three keys in the desk. They're for safety-deposit boxes. Do you think you could remove the contents?"

"It would be a pleasure. There was a shoe box full of hundred-dollar bills in the closet, too."

"Save that. I have a certain charity in mind."

"Okay. We'll take a look around for anything else interesting. The rest of this stuff, clothes, papers, personal effects--?"

"Everything must go. He's out. This suite will be rented like any other hotel room. Your men can take his personal belongings directly to the dump for all I care. When he gets back he'll have nothing but the clothes on his back."

"Yeah. His car was at the airport. It's already been picked up. We'll meet his plane in two days." He hesitated. "I think you're doing the right thing, Estelle. Hadda been up to me I'd throw him in jail. This is better."

"Worse. Much worse. This is a life sentence."

"Yeah." He didn't smile. "Couldn't happen to a nicer guy."

Mrs. Chard compared the fury in his eyes with the compassion in them the evening before last when Helen finished telling her story, and then, long after Helen had gone, his gentle look of satiated passion and gratitude.

Leslie was down in the city again. He'd made another appointment with Dr. Goody for a pre-marital checkup, and had called to say the exam had run late and rather than drive at night he would stay over in a hotel. He and Melvin had decided to behave with discretion until the wedding night. Since then it seemed Leslie always had something to do that took him down to the city: shopping for a trousseau, medical checkups, busy-busy-busy, and in Chardsville visiting Suzie to seek her advice about marriage. Perhaps it was just deprivation that kept him on the move, though he didn't look it these days-- anticipation of the wedding seemed to make him more beautiful than ever; softer, lusher, somehow more feminine.

Melvin, on the other hand, looked restless.

She'd offered him a drink in the conference room, and watched his eyes dart unobtrusively to the day-bed.

Last time she had put herself in charge of the situation, assuming the authority of "Leslie's mother," but in conversation Helen told her that men were put off by aggressiveness on the part of the woman. She had better restrain herself if she wanted the relationship with Melvin to develop.

She sat carelessly on the day-bed, skirt hiked up to who-knew-where, legs crossed, and aimed her best knee at him. Flirting was new to her; she hoped she wasn't being too obvious.

It wasn't long before she was rewarded by the glimpse of a bulge in his trousers.

It made her tremulous; she had the impulse to sit on his lap.

But that wasn't what people did, Helen said. They let the man take the initiative. It was all very odd. Pleasant, though. She remembered how gratifying it had been to submit to Melvin.

He cleared his throat. "I told Leslie."

Mrs. Chard pretended not to know what he meant. "Is that who you were calling? You told her about poor Helen?"

He colored. "No, that was the station house. I meant--about us."

"What about us?"

"You know. Last week."

"You didn't! Oh, dear. She must have been furious!"

"N-no. She said it was all right."

"She didn't mind? Are you sure?"

She shifted so her dress rode higher. She didn't dare look for fear of giving herself away, but she was fairly sure her stocking tops showed.

Melvin said, "Yeah. She wasn't mad at all. In fact, she said--"

He opened his mouth twice before going on, "She said it would be okay if it ever h-happened again."

Mrs. Chard made herself look shocked. "Melvin!"

"She said she knew I'd want to go with women sometimes, and it would be all right."

"Melvin, why are you sitting so far away? Don't you want to sit here by me? We won't have to shout clear across the room," she said, referring to the three or four feet that separated them.

He staggered up, bent at the waist in an obvious attempt to conceal the erection in his pants, and sat next to her.

She turned, skirt rising still more, and let her knee press his.

"You want to go with women?"

"Sometimes."

"Oh dear. That could be a problem. People talk."

"It would have to be, uh, discreet," he agreed. "We were thinking, well, I know you were only trying to help out last time, but you really turned me on, and we thought if you liked it too, well, it would be like it was all in the family, and nobody would know. Did you?"

Her excitement at his proximity delayed Mrs. Chard's realization that he had asked her a question.

"Did I what?"

"Like it too."

She said in a demure voice, "Yes." A tremor accompanied the admission.

"Well, then."

"You mean go behind Leslie's back?"

"No! She said it would be okay. She said, uh, you two were very close. I'm not very good at this," he smiled suddenly. "I don't have the right words. Anyway, I told her I'm crazy about you."

"You are? Oh Melvin, kiss me."

He put one arm around her shoulder and the other around her waist and embraced her.

She let her lips part to admit his tongue; flowed against his body, thinking, At last.

When he broke the kiss she said breathlessly, "Melvin, you're so forceful. You make me melt. I'd do just anything for you when you're like this."

For a moment she thought she'd gone too far. He gave her a speculative, rather suspicious, look, before his gonads took over once more.

The trouble was, it wasn't all acting. She'd been consummately aroused by Helen's tale of rape, and then supremely satisfied by their lovemaking, which left her languorous and surfeited. But Melvin excited her all over again. She'd heard of pheromones, and wondered if something about his male smell, clean but provocative, was affecting her. Then, too, he was the first man who had given her orgasms, so intense and consuming they had threatened to cause her to faint. Her body had been used, used in the way it had been designed for. She wanted it to be used again.

He was her son's lover. She wanted to share. That part was in her mind and emotions; the other was deep in her physical self. "Close," Melvin said. He didn't know how close she and Leslie had been. She remembered her son's prick inside her--or hers inside him, as she had fantasized at the time-- briefly she regretted not letting him make love to her as a man on top of a woman--Marie had done that with him a few weeks ago--and now she wanted to enjoy Melvin and Leslie both. She envisioned someday being in bed with both of them. He had just hinted as much.

Helen did it with Jack and Suzie, why shouldn't she?

Melvin's hand was on her breast. Even through the dress the palm felt coarse, but gentle. Strong and tender.

She stopped herself from tugging at his belt to loosen the buckle. Let him be in charge. Soon he was unfastening her zipper, kissing her neck, oh, on just that spot which made her squirm; and without quite knowing how it happened, discovered she was naked from the waist up and her nipple was wet and warm in his mouth, pulled in and out by a gentle suction which raced to her loins.

Now he was moving lower, tongue laving the tender swell of her belly, now swirling in her belly-button.

Her dress was in the way.

She said brokenly, "Let me take off these things. You too."

Funny, her sense of time was gone. Not a second had passed, but she was unclothed, and so was he, and he was kissing her all over, moving from one delicious sensitive place to another.

She sensed his hesitation as he approached the join of her thighs, but her legs welcomed him by themselves. They opened, inviting his clumsy--but oh so thrilling--tongue. When it showered her vulva with wet caresses she groaned and held him close. It penetrated her vagina, pushing in deliciously, but after a while she began to long for it to lavish her clitoris. He didn't know. Last time she had to put his finger on her there.

When the tongue accidentally slipped over the stiff little rudimentary penis, she mewled, "There! Do it some more there," and dissolved into a rapturous orgasm.

She thought, He gave me a climax with his mouth. I should do it to him. She remembered Helen saying, "Lollipop. All-day sucker." Could she do it? She wanted to. It was no more than she had done to Leslie a couple of times, when he had already ejaculated and she had wanted to make him hard again so she could put it inside her.

But this was a man. A grown man, and his penis wasn't a toy like Leslie's had been. She wasn't even sure it would fit in her mouth.

She pulled at his body, soft pleading noises emerging from her throat, until he shifted so his erection was in her face.

So strange. That heavy digit-like extremity poking out rigid from his body. Capped by a red head that was formed like nothing so much as a Greek soldier's helmet in ancient times, flared out on the sides and back but not underneath. It was so tumid the skin was stretched shiny. It looked painful. The foreskin was bunched in a collar just behind the head and an orifice in the tip pulsated wetly. Veins curled blue under the whiteness of the shaft.

Under it, in an alien pouch--a bag of skin, too bizarre!--egg-shaped masses reposed. His testicles. His balls.

How very peculiar it all looked. It was the male's mechanism of reproduction, and she had the thought that it was all unnecessarily exposed . . . but she was glad of it. The sight, and smell--a musky, nutty aroma in her nostrils--was unspeakably arousing.

A clear liquid welled from the tip. Mrs. Chard knew it was not semen, preseminal fluid instead, but had to conquer repugnance to touch her lips to it. It stretched stickily when she moved her lips away. Cautiously she licked them. It had little or no taste, but the thought of having his genital secretions in her mouth gave her pause. Taking a deep breath she opened her mouth wide, heart pounding, and took the organ in.

There was a taste, only it was the unmistakable taste of penile skin, aromatic with a musk that reminded her of walnuts. A wave of heat swept over her. Pheromones again. Instinct was telling her in no uncertain way that she was engaged in sexual contact with a male of her species.

The skin moved tightly on the rigid shaft as her lips encompassed it. Her mouth made a liquid sound when she pushed her head forward to get as much of the penis in as she could. She sluiced it noisily with her tongue, teeth scraping along its length. She loved doing this, she discovered. The taste, the scent, were infinitely arousing.

Another orgasm seized her. His own tongue was busy in her intimate parts. She had to let his erection go, fearful of biting it during the spasm. Her body shook as his mouth explored her.

When she could with safety, she took it in once more, working back and forth with enthusiasm, tempted to nibble it like a sausage; but contenting herself with the slurp of her tongue and movement of her lips.

Something was happening. The heavy tasty meat in her mouth developed a fine vibration, a kind of thrumming. It took her a moment to realize the quiver meant he was close to ejaculation. That stuff would squirt into her mouth, out of the same hole from which urine issued.

She had mixed feelings. She wanted it, she had never sucked a man to completion--how would it taste?--but it was awful to think about. Revolting. She'd have to spit it out. Besides, she wanted him inside her in another place. If he came he wouldn't be able to.

Controlling her panic, she pulled her head back and released the organ, hoping it wasn't too late. Wet and shiny, it throbbed once before her eyes, but except for an abortive gape of the orifice nothing more than the preseminal leak came out.

His lapping tongue between her legs had stopped. She sensed he was concentrating on curbing his body's natural impulse. She lay still for a moment to give him a chance, then moved around to face him.

His eyes were closed. She kissed him tenderly on the lips, tasting her own juices.

He looked at her, panted, "Whew. That was close. Let's just lie here for a moment."

"You were wonderful," Mrs. Chard sighed.

"So were you. Too wonderful." There was a smile in his voice.

"Did you like what I did?"

"Yes!"

"Was I as good as Leslie?"

"Sure."

So Leslie did do that.

"What else do you and Leslie do?"

"You know. Like we did the other day."

"Intercourse. Where? Back here?"

Color tinted his cheeks. "Where else?"

"But isn't it too small? Doesn't it hurt her?"

"At first I was afraid it would, but she never said so. I guess it stretches."

She was silent until he rolled over to hold her in his arms, erection nudging her belly.

She said, "Would you show me?"

"What?"

"How you do it with Leslie."

It stopped him for a moment. "Are you sure?"

"I want to see what it's like," she said shyly. She remembered Leslie and the football players.

"I'd have to get you wet. With my tongue."

Would he really lick her back there? A hot flash swept through her. Her belly tingled.

"Oh-h. Would that be all right? You wouldn't mind?"

"No. I'd like it."

Mrs. Chard turned over on her front. There didn't seem to be enough air to breathe. Her heart was racing with excitement and trepidation. She was afraid it would hurt. But if Leslie could do it, she could. Never in her life had she thought she would be doing something like this. Had Helen ever? Impossible. She couldn't imagine that elegant, refined, beautiful woman in so perverse an act. Melvin was kneeling between her legs. She lifted her bottom, knowing it was one of her best features, alluring and smooth-skinned. His large hands spread her cheeks and in an instant she felt the slippery warmth of his tongue.

It made her utter a small cry of startled pleasure.

He stopped, as if wondering if he had hurt her, but she lifted her bottom still farther, and the licking resumed.

It was pure luxury, she thought with languor, pure sensuousness; and then the tongue stiffened and prodded her hole open and entered. She almost orgasmed on the spot.

Deeper it went, in and out lusciously, now rotating in a motion so stimulating that the room darkened and she lost touch with everything but the sudden seizure that made her pussy convulse and left her whimpering.

When she came to her senses, her face was turned on its side on the mattress, mouth open, a drool of saliva wetting the sheet.

Melvin was no longer reaming her. Instead he was lying on her, his erection poking directly on the relaxed hole, sinking slowly in, broaching her sphincter, which stretched slowly, unwillingly, oh, God, painfully, to accommodate the forcibly-moving organ.

A tremor of anxiety caused her muscle to cramp, try to close, but it was too late: the head of Mel's stiff penis was already past the entrance, still moving forward.

The muscle seizure hurt. She gasped. Only an iron self-control enabled her to continue lying docile under him; and desperately, perspiration on her brow, focus on relaxing the muscle, until at last she succeeded, feeling it quaver weakly around the invading meat.

His hanging testicles pushed soft on her labia. The organ was shoved up her as far as it could go. Crazily she remembered a traffic incident years ago. An irate driver had shouted at her as she passed, "Fuck yer ass, lady!" It had come true.

Melvin drew back slowly and pushed forward again in that most private passage. The intimacy of what they were doing, the very depravity of it, stimulated her enormously.

She lifted her hips to present herself to the forward thrust, feeling excruciatingly submissive. Sensation gathered in her loins once more . . . and she ORGASMED violently, and then AGAIN as his penis moved faster, in and out, friction heating the entrance in her backside, until finally it rammed all the way up. Every muscle tense, she raised her ass and pushed it at him to make his penetration deeper when she felt the organ jump repeatedly, splashing its warm sperm into her.

She lay under him, recovering from the violence of her reactions. His breath was hoarse in her ear. The penis inside her gradually shrank; her sphincter muscle was able to squeeze it now, in self-willed contractions that little by little urged the intruder out, until it fell limply between her legs. She moved under his weight, and he rolled off to lie on his back next to her, arm across his eyes.

Dreamily Mrs. Chard shifted so her head was resting on his muscular chest, and only slowly became aware of a trickle between the cheeks of her bottom.

"Oh dear. Am I bleeding?"

"What? Where?" Mel's voice was alarmed.

"Back there."

"Let's see. Open your legs. I'm sorry, maybe I was too rough." Melvin peered at her privacy. "Where? Oh, this?"

He touched her.

"Yes, there."

He lay back beside her and kissed her. "It's my come. What did you expect?"

She giggled helplessly and soon he was laughing with her.

Like a dash of cold water, Helen's voice broke into her reverie. "What are you smiling about?"

"What? Oh. Just remembering something nice."

She had relived the experience all night, wishing that Melvin were beside her, blushing with shame in the dark of her bedroom every time she realized anew what she had done. Let herself be fucked in the ass! Oh God.

Helen's smile was full of curiosity, but all she said was, "We'd better dispose of these pictures now."

"Yes. Helen? Did you ever--"

"What?"

Mrs. Chard felt her face grow rosy. "When you're, ah, with Jack or Suzie, do you ever, that is, let them do it from behind?"

"Doggie style?"

"No, I mean . . . um, from behind."

"Oh." Helen looked nonplused. "Well, yes, sometimes," she said cautiously. "Why?"

"I just wondered."

"Did you?"

Mrs. Chard's color deepened. "Yes. It's nice, isn't it?"

"I like it. I like the regular way better, but it's exciting to do different things once in a while. Hold it. When did you--? Estelle."

She stopped and looked at Mrs. Chard solemnly.

"You're blushing like a girl. You never blush. What have you been up to?"

"Nothing!"

"Don't tell me that. Guilt is written all over your face. You did it with somebody recently, didn't you. Who could it--?" She began to laugh. "Mel! That's it, isn't it? Tell the truth and shame the devil."

"Don't be so silly."

" 'Fess up. You did it with Mel, didn't you? He's the only one who's been around. I know! The day before yesterday. After I went home."

"Oh, all right. Yes."

"Aren't you ashamed. Your own daughter's fiancé. How was it?" Helen's eyes sparkled.

"Marvelous, just marvelous."

"From behind, eh? Was it the first time?"

"Yes! Oh, I see what you mean. No, just the first time that way."

Helen burst into laughter. "Aren't you the sly one!" She sobered. "Ah, does Leslie know?"

"Yes. She said it was all right, she isn't jealous. Melvin is, er, bisexual, you know, so Leslie said it would be better to keep it all in the family."

Helen shrieked.

Mrs. Chard said, "Don't laugh. After all, you do it."

"I know! I think it's marvelous. He's handsome, isn't he?" Her smile twitched as she tried to control her expression. "Be careful. Between you and Leslie you'll wear him out. I bet he feels like the Sheik of Araby. Two bedmates! Are you all going to sleep in the same bed?"

Mrs. Chard gave in and let a grin of delight spread across her face.

"We'll see. In the meantime we'd better look through these pictures. What shall we do with them, burn them?"

"If we see anybody we recognize we could return them anonymously, so they'd know they didn't have to worry any more."

"Good idea."

Helen took out the first photograph and studied it, pink rising in her cheeks. "I don't know who these two are, but they seem to know each other."

"My goodness. It's Dean Hardin from the college. She's so young she must be a coed. His wife would be furious. And her parents. Not to speak of the Board of Trustees."

Helen picked up the next and laughed.

Mrs. Chard said, "What? Let me see. Heavens. Poor man, doing it to himself all alone. He looks so foolish. I'm sure I know him . . . a customer of Chard Industries. What is his name? Never mind, I'll find out and we'll send this to him."

Eyes sparkling, Helen handed her another photograph.

Mrs. Chard said, "That's Mrs. Lovell! Her husband is president of Chard. But that's not Sam Lovell, I don't know him. Wouldn't Sam have a fit if he knew his wife was two-timing him. I must get to know her better. She's so quiet at the annual get-togethers. What a treasure-trove this box is!"

"Oh, my God. Look at this."

Mrs. Chard took the photograph. "It's Frank Bright. He owns the pawn shop. That is, he owns forty percent. I own the rest. That must be his wife and children. She's younger than he is, isn't she? She must be taking the girls shopping; he's giving her money. What's so special?"

"That's not his wife--it's Harriet Untel. She's married to that used- bookstore man? Twice Told, I think the name is. I know her from the church auxiliary. She's nice, but flighty. Always in debt. She likes to play Bingo and the lottery. The kids are Joy, she's twelve, and the other one, I can't remember her name, is nine. Heather. Anyway, that man isn't her husband."

"Perhaps she pawned something, that's why he's paying her. Probably not, since the picture is here, but it doesn't prove anything."

"That's just the first picture. Look at this one."

"What are they doing? Oh, I see, she's undressing them. Oh! His thing is sticking out through the robe!"

"And this."

"She's leaving. I think I'm going to be sick. His thing is sticking out a mile and they can all see it!"

"What I can't understand is why they're smiling. They look as if she was leaving them with a baby-sitter they like. Suzie used to look just that way. It's-- Oh God. Here's another."

"What is it? Oh! He's making the little one sit on it. How could he ever think it would fit?"

"It did, though," Helen said in a trembling voice. "Here."

Mrs. Chard gasped. "It's halfway in. Doesn't it hurt? She's still smiling. And the older one is on the bed with them, just watching. Are there any more? What's the matter?"

"I feel like crying. Those sweet little girls. But he doesn't seem to be hurting them, does he?"

"From all the evidence they're enjoying themselves. Look, now the older one, what did you say her name was, is sitting on his face holding her sister. She's pushing her down, I think. Yes, you can hardly see his thing, it's almost all inside. How can she take it?"

"Here's one with both of them working on him with their mouths. It must be after. If you look closely you can see something leaking out of the little one's down-there."

"I should be ashamed of myself. I'm all aroused. It's appalling."

"Here's one of him doing it to Joy."

"She likes it, she's hugging him. He's so big by comparison. She hasn't even got breasts yet to speak of, and her pubic hair is just beginning. How can a man do it to such young girls? Let's see the next one. Oh, now he's on top of the little one and licking the big one. Ugh."

The final photograph showed the girls dressed, meeting their mother at the door of the hotel room.

Mrs. Chard said, "It's dark out. See through the door? It must have lasted all day. The little one looks tired."

The ladies stared at each other.

Helen said, "She pawned them."

"It wasn't the first time. Did you notice? They didn't bleed. What kind of a woman is she?"

"She seems so nice at the Auxiliary."

"Should we press charges?"

"I don't know. It's child abuse, but . . . well, they weren't hurt. He seemed gentle with them. And I guess he was being blackmailed, that might be punishment enough. I wonder if Turner was blackmailing Mrs. Untel too. Where would she get the money?"

Mrs. Chard's smile was pale. "By pawning her babies."

"Oh God."

"All right, no harm done. We'll mail these back to them, half to each, and warn them not to repeat this kind of behavior."

"I'm surprised."

"Why?"

"That's what I was going to suggest, but you were so, ah, ferocious about Turner and Scarlatti that I thought you might want to punish Mr. Bright and Mrs. Untel too."

"No. Remember about casting the first stone? But Turner and Scarlatti--" Mrs. Chard made a choking sound. "They injured you. I want them to roast in hell. And they will. I don't know about the afterlife, but if I have anything to say about it their lives will be hell on earth from now on. I can forgive many things, but I shall never forgive them for what they did to you."

Helen patted Mrs. Chard's hand. "I'm glad. I feel the same way. I only wish I had your power and influence."

"Never mind, I've got enough for both of us. Let's see some more pictures. What other people have been doing all this time that we didn't know about. It's exciting."

Helen tittered. "Oh dear, here's Fred Dashley and Mrs. Crotte!"

"Who are they?"

"He's minister of Saint Andrew's Episcopal! That's my church!" Helen bent over laughing. "And she's Chardsville's most prim and proper matron. Look at them!"

"He looks like he's sinking into her. She's not exactly skinny, is she?"

"Here's another one. Oh, no, I see, it's a whole batch! Dashley with Mrs. Falburg, Dashley with Toni Theisen, Dashley with-- My God, the man must have been to bed with half the ladies in church. But there isn't a pretty one in the bunch. He must like fat women."

"He's a minister?"

"They say he's in line to be bishop. Old Holier-than-Thou himself. I wonder what he'd do if he knew we had these."

"When we send them, enclose a note. Tell him you're jealous."

"Ugh!"

"Pass me the box. You're too slow. What have we here? Oh God." Mrs. Chard groaned.

"What? 'Oh, God' is right. He's got her handcuffed and is doing it to her with his nightstick. The poor thing. Look at her eye, it's swollen closed."

Mrs. Chard took the picture back. "This goes to Melvin. I wonder how long that man has been on the police force. He belongs in jail."

"I'm not sure I want to see any more pictures."

"Some of these are frightening. The things people do," Mrs. Chard agreed. "Hah. Here's Herman Smith of Batchelder Products. He's one of Chard Industries' biggest customers. I never knew he was gay. I wonder who that is with him."

"It's Amy Dahl!"

"Your husband's, ah, friend?"

"Yes. She's not so bad. She was being blackmailed too."

"She?"

"Well, yes. If you saw her in a dress you'd say 'she' too."

"She's been a busy little person," Mrs. Chard said dryly. "Here she is with Peter Jablonsky, he's on the board of trustees at the college, goodness, Peter's wearing a nightgown. One, two, three, all Jablonsky. Now here she is with Sam Lovell, of all people. The president of Chard? No wonder Mrs. Lovell was cheating on him. I wonder how much he was paying Turner. I'll return this to him personally. No, you better do it--he'd be frightfully embarrassed if he thought I knew. In fact, why don't you take care of returning all the pictures? I'll stay out of it. That'll give you the power and influence you were talking about. People will go out of their way to be nice to you!"

Helen started laughing, but stopped when Mrs. Chard said, "Oh, and here's Amy with your husband."

"What? Why, this is one of the pictures I bought. He told me there weren't any more copies! The son of--"

"Here's another, and another . . . another . . . six in all."

Mrs. Chard fell silent, studying a photograph.

Helen leaned over to see. She made a broken sound.

"Please," she whispered. "Don't look at that."

"Poor darling. I promise you, Turner will pay for this."

Helen's face was white. Her hand twitched abortively, as though it wanted to snatch the picture.

Mrs. Chard fended her off and continued to study it. At last she set it down on the side away from Helen. As she examined the next picture her thighs made sliding motions against each other under her skirt.

Her voice was soft. "A Negro, Helen? You must have been humiliated." She held the picture up close. "It almost looks like-- I've seen you with that same expression before. Did you--? You did! You were having an orgasm! How could you?"

Helen's cheeks burned. She turned away from Mrs. Chard and mumbled, "I couldn't help it. He was so big, and they were all looking at his thing going in me down there . . ."

Mrs. Chard sighed, "That's so exciting."

She placed the photograph on top of the first and picked up the next one.

It showed Helen on hands and knees on the bed, sucking one of the Negroes while a Hispanic inserted his erection in her anus.

Helen averted her eyes.

When Mrs. Chard put the last photograph down she said, "Helen? Would you mind if I keep these for a while?"

"Keep them!"

"They're so arousing. I'd like to look at them again. Please? You know I would never show them to anybody."

Anguish twisted Helen's mouth briefly, but she whispered, "All right, if you want."

"Do you mind a lot?"

She was silent. At last she looked up and said, "N-no. You're right, it's arousing, and for you to see them makes us closer. Just the thought makes me wet."

"Whew! I'm warm. Let's take off our clothes and hold each other while we're looking through the rest of these."

Chapter 22

Nancy served after-dinner coffee and little glasses of the brandy Howard had brought as a coming-to-dinner present.

Amy--it gave her a kick to call Jimmy that, even just to herself--was sitting on the couch, knees primly together. Howard sat awkwardly on a low footstool facing him.

Howard's visit was supposed to be "innocent." All three of them deliberately avoided any reference to what had happened the last time, as if not talking about it would make it unhappen in some mystical way. Yet to Nancy it had been one of the most exciting events she had ever experienced. Howard had been nervous at first, but his desire for her husband had driven him to continue despite her presence. She sat on the bed near them, hand in the fly of her jeans, and watched Jimmy being dorked by another man. She must have orgasmed a million times before they were through. She wanted the experience again.

She had encouraged Jimmy to take extra care in dressing tonight. His lips were a precisely-outlined slash of bright red, so glossy they looked wet, and drew attention from the rest of his makeup, which was discreetly applied, so that only subliminally did you notice the eye shadow and false eyelashes and rouge. It made him look five years younger, a gamin combination of artless maiden and temptress.

He wore a darling periwinkle chemise with accented turn-back cuffs and a bow-trimmed back slit. His pumps, peau-de-soie of the same periwinkle color, had three-and-a-half inch heels. Their height caused his thighs to angle upwards from the seat. Nancy knew Howard could see right up the dress from his position on the footstool; and that when Jimmy neglected to keep his knees tight together, could see everything.

She smiled to herself. Her vivid imagination had pictured the scene in advance. She had prevailed on Jimmy to leave off his panties while he was getting dressed, saying it would be a special turn-on for her to know he was naked underneath. He gave her a funny look, but complied. After dinner, when they had moved into the living room and Jimmy sat on the couch, she nonchalantly moved the footstool so Howard could chat with her husband while she made the coffee.

Jimmy knew what she was up to, all right. Look at him "forgetting" to keep his knees together again, and then glancing up at her to see if she noticed. Out of the corner of her eye she could see the material of Howard's pants strain upwards.

Nancy said to Howard, "You were telling us your wife is visiting your children in the country?"

"Our daughter and son-in-law. He's painting a picture of her."

"Oh, is he an artist?"

"A very good one. He's becoming quite well known. Maybe you heard of Jack Landon?"

Nancy recognized the name right away. She had stopped in at the Mariposa Gallery the other day on the way home from work, just to look around and see what was new--and had been bowled over by a group of still-lifes and landscapes. They were straightforward paintings, realistic, you might even say super-realistic; but while looking at them she had been seized by an eroticism so profound it had threatened to cause her to climax on the spot. She had coveted them all. The smallest, however, was priced in the thousands, way out of their range.

"Jack Landon! He's your son-in-law? Groovy, I'm impressed. I didn't know he painted portraits. The gallery only has still-lifes."

"I think he does more portraits than anything, really, but they don't go through the gallery."

Jimmy asked, "Who's Jack Landon?"

"From the work I saw," Nancy said, "he just very well might be the most totally awesome painter in the U.S. And he's Howard's son-in-law! I can't get over it." Turning to Howard, "Is he going to paint your portrait too?"

The man looked diffident. "He only paints nudes. It wouldn't be respectable for a bank president. But," he said, a secret look crossing his face, "if he asked me to pose, I guess I'd say yes anyway."

Divining a situation she didn't know about, Nancy asked curiously, "But it's okay for a bank president's wife?" She remembered that his wife was working for Dick Turner as a hooker, and blushed hotly.

Howard apparently didn't notice her blunder. "She does what she likes, you know. I'm her husband, not her owner."

Nancy changed the subject. "Do they have kids?"

"Two. A girl almost two years old and a baby boy." Again that peculiar expression swept his face. "There'll be three children in a few months. She's expecting again."

"Oh, cool. You must be very proud."

"Yes."

Jimmy asked, "How long will Lolly, uh, Mrs. Myers be gone?"

"I don't know exactly. The weekend at least. I don't know what Turner will say when he gets back from vacation tomorrow and finds out she missed a week at the hotel."

"Doesn't he know she's away? Gosh." Jimmy's expression was uneasy. "I don't like that. He won't use the pictures, if that's what you're worried about, but he might, you know, make her do some things she wouldn't like, to punish her."

Nancy said, "Don't worry, everything will be all right. I had a call from that detective today. He told me they were making progress. We can expect the pictures momentarily."

Jimmy exclaimed, "He did? You didn't say anything to me."

"I wasn't going to, I wanted it to be a surprise."

"Did he say when?"

"No, only 'momentarily.' "

Howard smiled. "I understand why you didn't want to say anything. We'll be on tenterhooks until it happens."

Jimmy said, "I'm happy for you, Howard." He turned to Nancy, hem pulling down from his upraised knees. "For us too."

"We'd better try to forget about it until it happens," Nancy said, noticing the way Howard's gaze was riveted to her husband's crotch, bare under his skirt.

Eyes dancing, Jimmy said, "I feel lots better already. Howard, if your wife is away all weekend, you're going to be lonesome. Why don't you stay with us, so we can keep you company?"

"S-stay?" Howard gulped.

Nancy said, "It's a wonderful idea! Please say yes."

"It would be an imposition."

"Silly. It wouldn't be any trouble at all. The only thing is . . . well, we don't have a lot of room. If you wouldn't mind sharing our bed." She couldn't help blushing.

Howard glanced from her to Jimmy and back. His face was pale.

Jimmy put his hand on Howard's knee and said in that marvelous dulcet voice. "We'd love it if you would stay. You don't have any appointments or anything on the weekend, do you?"

"N-no, but . . ."

"Well, then! There's no reason you can't."

"Uhk. Okay. I'd like to."

Nancy's heart started to pound. Her hand shook as she poured brandy all around. "I'm glad," she said simply.

Howard downed his glass and held it out for a refill. "Do you mind if I ask something? I'm confused. I mean . . ." He waved his hand helplessly, as if to indicate the whole situation.

"I know. It's strange, isn't it? I can't speak for Amy, but I'm really excited about it. I don't know why," she said honestly. "Last time--watching you and her--I don't think I've ever been so turned on."

"So you really don't mind."

"I like it. It makes me feel special that you would include me in something so private."

Jimmy said, "I liked it too. Doing it in front of somebody else, 'specially my own wife. But I don't know if Howard--that is, maybe he didn't enjoy it."

"I did. I suppose I'm something of an exhibitionist. But I mean, most women would be--jealous? Shocked."

Nancy giggled, "I'm so shocked I'm going to suggest we go to bed early tonight. Howard, I wondered. Tell me if I'm being too personal, but do you ever do it with your wife?"

"No. Well, yes." The brandy had loosened his tongue. "Not in the regular way, but sometimes after she comes home from the hotel if she hasn't . . . cleaned herself out down there . . . we do it to each other with our mouths. Or sometimes in the dark she lies on her stomach. As if she was a man, you see."

"Totally radical," she breathed.

"What about you two?"

"Oh sure, all the time. Jimmy's what they call AC-DC, right hon?"

"I guess so." Jimmy tugged at his hem and put his knees together.

"And you don't mind sharing him with a man? Doesn't it, well, take away from his . . . I mean, husbands are supposed to be so--manly."

"No-o, when he's dressed like this he's more like a girl friend or a sister. Remember when I said it was like he had another life? He can be my husband one day and my sister the next. A multiple personality, like."

"Extraordinary." He took another glass of brandy. "I wish Helen had been as empathetic as you, when she first learned I was gay. She's better now, though. Perhaps this--experience--hasn't been all bad, in some ways at least."

"You mean because she does it with you in ways you like?"

"Well, that too. I meant because she's more relaxed and understanding, but also, well, before she never would let me do it to her from behind, or, ah, with her mouth." A grin flashed. "Sometimes she gets so excited she bites," he confided.

"Ouch."

"Multiple personality?" Jimmy was just catching up. "You think I'm crazy, huh?"

Nancy laughed. "No crazier than me. I love it. Howard, there's a guest toothbrush in the cabinet, and I'll bring you a pair of pajamas." To Jimmy, "I'll lay out a nightgown for you, dear."

At the bedroom door she looked over her shoulder. Howard was kissing her husband. His hand was under his dress.

For herself she chose a nightie that showed off her petite figure--showed off too much of it, perhaps, at least for ordinary wear. It was short, and nearly transparent. She didn't think it would impress Howard, he was too gay, but she knew her body aroused her husband.

They were still petting when she finished making up the bedroom. That peculiar excitement at seeing Jimmy in the arms of another man gripped her.

She watched a while before saying cheerfully, "Bedtime! You lovers go ahead, I'll stack the dishes in the washer."

They looked up. Jimmy's lipstick was smeared. He looked shaken. Howard bent forward when he stood up.

After cleaning up, Nancy used the bathroom to get into her nightie. When she came out she hesitated, sat on the couch. Maybe it would be better if she waited until they started. Despite their conversation she wasn't all that confident that her presence might not put a damper on things.

She listened to the murmur of voices and the sound of the bed shifting.

Howard's voice came from the bedroom.

"Nancy! We're waiting for you."

Her heart started racing in earnest. They did want her. She almost ran into the bedroom.

She got into bed on the side next to Jimmy. He looked less girl-like, but strangely beguiling, with the bodice of his nightie empty. Naked under the covers, Howard had his arms around him and was touching his thing through the nightgown.

Jimmy started to reach for her, but she said softly, "Later. Let your boyfriend make love to you. Here, it's warm enough, we don't need all these blankets."

She stripped down the bedclothes to reveal Howard's nudity. His erection was leaking a mile a minute on Jimmy's nightgown. She'd have to do a laundry tomorrow. She watched Jimmy tremble in Howard's arms until she became aware that she had been right, her presence was making them both timid. They didn't know how to start. That was okay with her: she wanted to orchestrate the activity according to her own fantasies anyway. Jimmy had told her Howard sometimes gave him head. She'd like to see that, yes, but what she'd really like to see was her Jimmy blowing a man.

She whispered in his ear loud enough for Howard to hear, "Suck your boyfriend's cock before he puts it in you," and was rewarded by the sight of Howard's prick enlarging and a fiery wave of red sweeping over Jimmy's features. Her heart jumped into her throat as Jimmy hesitantly knelt and took the man's leaking organ in. His honey-blond hair fell onto Howard's thighs, obscuring his face. Nancy shifted to the head of the bed and sat cross-legged next to Howard so she could watch her husband working on the stiff prick.

She pulled her nightie up and flicked her clitoris in plain sight.

When Howard's breath quickened and she detected an increase in the tumescence of his saliva-wet cock she said hastily, "You better stop, you'll make him come too soon."

Jimmy looked up panting. His eyes were glazed. Howard's prick twitched abortively a few times; he grimaced in concentration.

The men rested, looking at Nancy's open crotch and her diddling finger. It was too much for Jimmy. He groaned, stretched full-length, and lifted his nightgown to bare his ass.

"Please," he gasped. "Do it." His face was red and humid with craving. His eyes sought hers, insistent, telling her to take note of his next utterance. "Fuck me, darling!"

The breath shuddered from his lungs when Howard drove brutally up him. The force of the thrust impelled him forward until his mouth was on her red-haired cunt.

She screeched and clutched handfuls of his long hair to hold his head to her, coming instantly; frenzied labia writhing, meeting his lips with a flow of juices. Her eyes were fixed in a kind of terror on the lunging cock that was pillaging her husband's ass. It was going to ejaculate inside her Jimmy, glut him with a man's seed.

Howard's mouth twisted. He rammed all the way up her husband.

Jimmy's ass jerked rhythmically, receiving the man's semen. He moaned loud into her vagina.

After a heart-stopping eternity Howard collapsed over Jimmy, occasional twitches of his buttocks revealing sporadic cock-throbs. Jimmy lay under him, making soft noises of consummation, slender body still writhing.

She leaned back against the headboard panting, trying to still her pounding heart.

They started when the doorbell rang shrilly.

Nancy gasped, "Stay here, I'll get rid of them."

She swung her bare legs to the side of the bed and sat for a moment catching her breath. The bell sounded again. She staggered to her feet, the hem of her wrinkled nightie falling in place, and padded barefoot to the door.

"Who is it?"

Muffled by the door, in a tone low enough not to rouse the neighbors, she heard, "Lieutenant Woicyk."

She caught her breath. Without waiting to put on a robe, she unlocked the door and opened it.

He said, "Sorry to disturb you so late, Mrs. Dahl. I'd like to speak to your husband, if I may. Good news." His smile flashed.

"Oh you mean you got them? That's wonderful! He's in bed, I'm afraid. I'll get him up."

"Don't bother, I'll just step in and talk to him."

"W-wait--"

She was too late. Woicyk was already at the bedroom door.

Jimmy and Howard were sitting up, identical expressions of shock and fright on their faces, Jimmy in his diaphanous nightgown, lipstick in need of repair; Howard bare-shouldered and obviously naked under the covers.

Woicyk checked his stride for the merest instant, but concealed his surprise well. Nancy could understand how he had become Chief of Detectives at such a young age.

"I apologize for the lateness of the hour," he said smoothly, "but I'm on my own time, and I can't always pick and choose the moment. This isn't an official visit, you understand. In fact, it's very much off the record.

"We have your photographs safe and sound, along with the negatives. Yours too, Mr. Myers. When Turner comes back from vacation tomorrow he'll be picked up and put on trial."

Nancy exclaimed, "Trial! We can't have a trial. The whole idea was to avoid a trial."

"Sorry, I didn't mean to say trial. That is, it'll be a trial, but not a regular court trial. Completely private. That's why I'm here, to ask Mrs. Dahl--that is, Amy, I guess you're both 'Mrs. Dahl' sometimes, right?--and Mr. Myers to be at Mrs. Chard's mansion at eleven sharp tomorrow, to confront Turner and testify against him. Only the witnesses and the accused will be there."

In a tone of horror Howard said, "Mrs. Chard!"

There was sympathy in Woicyk's face. "Don't worry, Mr. Myers, nothing bad is gonna happen. She knows everything already. She and your wife got the judge to issue the search warrant, and they have the pictures. She especially wants you to be there tomorrow. She said everything had to be open and aboveboard between the parties concerned."

He said to Jimmy, "Mrs. Chard asked me to bring you over to her house tonight. She wants to meet you and talk to you before tomorrow. It's only to tell her what you know. Okay?"

Red-cheeked, Jimmy whispered, "Okay."

"I'll let you get dressed. Oh, by the way, she says to, uh, come as Mrs. Dahl. Mrs. Myers told her you were attractive and she wants to see for herself."

Nancy followed him to the living room, closing the door behind them.

He turned.

"Sorry! I didn't realize. I shouldn't of barged in."

In a minute she detected the amusement lurking behind his eyes. She couldn't help it, mirth began to grow. She put her hand over her mouth to stifle a burst of giggles. It would never do for Jimmy and Howard to hear her laughing.

Woicyk responded with a great silent laugh of his own. He sat down gasping. Tears started from his eyes.

They laughed inaudibly until Nancy managed to pant, "You sure caught us red-handed, didn't you?"

He choked, "Don't worry about it. Whatever turns you on. But I gotta admit . . . I was a little . . . surprised!" Their laughter redoubled.

She said, "Shh! They'll hear."

"I'm not laughing at them, I'm laughing at me blundering in on you all."

"You must think we're awful."

"Why? You hurting anybody?"

"Hurting anybody?"

"Yeah. If you're not hurting anybody you're not doing anything wrong."

"Well, I mean--"

"Listen, don't worry about it," he said again. "If you and your husband want to get it on with somebody else, that's great. I like you, Nancy, so I can tell you what you guys are doing would be a turn-on for me, too. Maybe someday, if we meet the right person, me and my wife will do the same thing."

"I didn't know you were married."

"Not yet, but soon."

"To Leslie Chard?"

He looked astonished. "How'd you know?"

"The whole neighborhood knows you've been seeing each other."

He shook his head. "Small town."

"I think it's wonderful. You look so good together. Happy. I've been wanting to invite you two over to dinner, but I was afraid to because you seemed to want to keep it secret."

"Yeah? I wish you had. She'd like that. She told me she saw you on the street a bunch of times and wished she knew you better. I think she wants to meet Amy too."

"Amy? Or Jimmy?"

A tint of red overspread his cheeks. "She saw Amy in a restaurant one night. I guess I shouldn't of said anything, it wasn't discreet, but she's a good kid, she won't tell."

"Well, why don't you? Come to dinner, I mean. When all this is over. --Ah, when will that be?"

"What, when it's over? Tomorrow."

"So soon?"

"How long should it take? Is there any doubt in your mind that Turner is guilty of blackmail?"

"No."

"Neither will there be in Mrs. Chard's mind. She's gonna be the judge."

Woicyk's blink told her that her short nightgown had ridden up and she was doing exactly the same thing as Jimmy--letting her legs open. She put her knees together, mortified, but discerned a swelling in his pants. It excited her. Despite her homeliness, this handsome man was getting aroused. For a fleeting moment she allowed herself to wonder if, well, when Jimmy was at "work" . . .

Through a blush she asked, "What is Mrs. Chard like?"

"She's nice. Real nice. She's like me, live and let live, unless somebody gets out of line. Like wanting to see your husband in a dress. Not to be mean, she doesn't care, she probably thinks it's a turn-on like we do. She just wants to satisfy her curiosity."

Nancy caught Woicyk's admission that he thought Jimmy's wearing women's clothes was a turn-on. It reassured her there would be no repercussions from his catching them in flagrante delicto. He was nice. Not many policemen would be so easy-going, she guessed.

"I wish I could be there."

"It's only for the parties that're directly involved. You can understand why. Amy can tell you about it later."

The bedroom door opened. Woicyk's gaze flicked hastily away from where it had been centered.

Jimmy was wearing the same periwinkle sheath and shoes as before, and looked apprehensive but totally enchanting. She hoped he was wearing panties this time.

Woicyk said, "All set? Let's go, you're gonna need your beauty sleep. The sooner we leave, the sooner you'll be back." He winked in a friendly way.

Fully-clothed, sheepish, Howard came out.

"Hey, you don't have to go, Mr. Myers. I'll bring her back soon. Why don't you stick around and keep Mrs. Dahl company? Go on, get back in bed."

Howard stared as if trying to see whether he meant it or was being sarcastic. Nancy said, "He's right, Howard, stay. And you, Amy, don't look so nervous, everything's going to be all right. You look adorable. She'll love you. Give us both a kiss good-bye and we'll keep the bed warm for you."

You had to hand it to Howard. Despite his hangups and fears he was a man. After Jimmy had pressed his cheek to hers in that don't-muss-my-makeup way, Howard gave him a strong, deep kiss right in front of Woicyk.

When the door closed behind them she said archly, "Come on, Howard. I promise not to bite--too hard."

Chapter 23

They were going to use the drawing room as a courtroom. Mrs. Chard had the portraits of her and Mrs. Argentina removed, saying they would spoil the effect. They left rectangles of a darker color on the wall; Helen saw her turn a look on Angie that made the poor woman cringe and hastily swat at them with a feather duster.

Helen looked around. She gave Amy, who was sitting in a chair by her side, a nervous smile. Everybody was here save the guest of honor. Mrs. Chard had taken a seat in front of the French doors to the terrace, which made it hard to see her except in silhouette. You couldn't tell what she was thinking. Howard was sitting on the couch, glancing uneasily at Amy and avoiding Mrs. Chard's eyes; Melvin, looking grim, stood near the doorway.

It had been a difficult week, but one of healing. Helen had holed up with Jack and Suzie on the farm, pleading the need for seclusion, a "vacation" from the house in town. She said it would do the baby good. She could see they were wondering, and that they wondered still more when Mrs. Chard came to visit her so frequently. But they said nothing, just welcomed her into the arms of their family without reservation. She shared their bed at night.

She was apprehensive at first. Would the ordeal she had undergone have blighted her sexual relations with her son and son-in-law? She was relieved to discover it had only enriched them: she was so appreciative of their gentle love that it strengthened her physical response, and in a few days it was almost as if it had never happened. They were like a gale of fresh air. It helped that Mrs. Chard was so affectionate, too. She and the other woman closeted themselves in the farmhouse bedroom, ostensibly to discuss Leslie's wedding plans, but in reality to fondle each other like schoolgirls, giggling at their daring, with Suzie right in the kitchen. They never risked disrobing, but that didn't prevent them from getting under each other's dress.

Something in Suzie's manner let Helen know he suspected, but nothing was said.

Howard had been frantic when she failed to go to "work." He begged her to come back before Dick Turner returned from vacation. She put him off, saying everything would be all right; took a mean pleasure in saying nothing more. Only when Mel told him last night did he have any inkling what was going on.

She heard voices in the entrance hall. Her heart leaped in her breast when two policemen escorted Dick Turner in. She knew she had nothing to fear, but he had dominated her, and it was hard to look him in the eye. She couldn't help dropping her gaze to avoid his sudden alarmed stare.

Mel closed the doors behind him and turned the latch.

"Ah, Mr. Turner," Mrs. Chard said. "Good of you to come. Stand over there, please. That's right. I asked you here because certain allegations have been made against you, which we are here to explore."

He laughed and started to say something, but she overrode him. "Make no mistake about it, Mr. Turner. This is a formal hearing. You should take it quite seriously. In Chardsville, when there are charges of a sensitive and private nature, we do not have recourse to courts of law. We deal with them quietly, in our own way."

A guarded expression came over his face. Once again he shot a look at Helen and Amy. It was full of hatred and apprehension. Helen's belly tightened.

"There are no lawyers here, no prosecutors, no jury. I shall be your judge. Plainly put, the charges are extortion, and coercing Mrs. Dahl and Mrs. Myers into prostitution. Do you have anything to say in your defense?"

"What is this? You know I wouldn't do nothing like that. I don't know what they been saying, but it's a lie. I can prove it. That one," he pointed to Amy, "she's not Mrs. Dahl, she's Mister Dahl. Yeah, right. A queer in a dress. You didn't know that, did you? You can't believe nothing he says. And that one, she's just sore because I turned her down when she came on to me. She's been hanging out at the hotel putting out for everybody in sight, a nympho, like. I didn't know she was taking money. If I had, I'd'a kicked her out."

Helen sucked in her breath, enraged. The audacity of the snake!

"I see. Mrs. Dahl is in reality a male; Mrs. Myers is a nymphomaniac; you know nothing more about either of them."

"I got more important things to do than watch them."

"Mrs. Dahl, is what he alleges true? You're a male?"

Butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, Helen thought. Mrs. Chard knew perfectly well it was true. She and Amy had a long talk last night. Amy's conscience had tormented her when she had been told that her seduction of Howard had resulted in blackmail.

"Yes." She was red as a rose, but she continued bravely, voice almost inaudible, "He forgot to mention he made me have s-sex--with men--for money."

"I see," Mrs. Chard said again.

Her lack of reaction appeared to confuse Turner.

"He's a fag trying to impersonate a woman. Aren't you going to do anything?"

Amy looked about to cry.

Mrs. Chard's voice was measured. "What about her claim you were blackmailing her?"

"That's ridiculous, I hardly even know him. He has a room at the hotel, that's all."

"She has a room at the hotel? You have receipts for the room charges, of course."

His mouth opened and closed. "He hasn't paid his bill yet," he said finally.

"All right, let's move on to Mrs. Myers' charge. She says you were blackmailing her, too, that you took pictures of her husband with Mrs. Dahl and of her having sex with other men."

Out of the corner of her eye, Helen saw Howard shrink.

"The bitch is just trying to get back at me for dumping her. She can't prove anything."

"Well, that would appear to clear things up," Mrs. Chard said brightly. "We won't detain you much longer, Mr. Turner, but there are a couple of details I'd like to get your reaction to."

She reached under the desk and picked up the carton of photographs they had discovered in Dick Turner's closet.

"Where'd you get those?" Turner began to froth. "What is this, some kind of frame-up?" He blurted, "You can't just go into a guy's private residence and snoop through his things."

"You admit these are yours, then."

Turner had apparently been watching crime shows on television. He gained control of himself. "That ain't admissible evidence. It was obtained by illegal search and seizure."

"You must remember this is not a court of law. I'll say what is admissible evidence. I think we've heard enough. There is no doubt at all in my mind-- anyone else?" she paused, looking around, "--of your guilt. Now we have to decide what to do with you."

"You can't do nothing to me. This is completely illegal. I'm getting out of here."

"Melvin?"

Mel said, "Stay right there, punk. Mrs. Chard has been real nice to you, but I'm not going to pussyfoot around. You're in big trouble and you might as well know it. You're the lowest scumbag I ever saw, and stupid too. Stupid. You sneaked around and lied and cheated and tortured these girls, when you could have had a good thing just running the hotel straight.

"You got a choice. You can do what Mrs. Chard says, or go to the county slammer. I can keep you in jail for at least a month before you even smell a lawyer, and get your bail set so high you'd never come up with it. It would be two years before your case came to trial, and then you'd lose.

"You know what can happen in a month, not to speak of two years? Ladies, you better leave. I'm going to give him some of the rough facts of life."

Mrs. Chard shook her head and Helen followed suit. Amy looked eager. There was a vindictive light in her eye.

"No? Okay. The guys in there, some of 'em haven't seen a woman for years. By the time they get through with you, you wouldn't know whether you was you or Mrs. Dahl here. Sorry, Mrs. Dahl. One kid we sent up, a good-looking guy, a wise guy like you, had the bad luck to be put in a cell with Jake Weinstein. The kid must have resisted him. Or maybe not. Jake's mean, so he might'a done it just for fun. The next thing the guards know the kid's screaming and blubbering and there's blood all over the place. They saved his life, but they couldn't sew his private parts back on."

Dick Turner looked sick.

"You should see him now. He's anxious to drop his pants for anybody that looks at him. He has to wear Kotex--his bottom don't close right any more. Jake's still there. He'd like you to bunk with him, I bet.

"There was another wise guy. He put up a fuss when a bunch of cons cornered him in the shower. They smashed his mouth with a hammer. He don't have a single tooth left in his head. They tell me when he's on his knees it's as soft and slippery as they could want."

A sheen of sweat broke out on Turner's brow. His lips trembled.

"Want more?" Mel's voice turned conversational. "This guy copped a plea for assault and got a light sentence for what we knew was a case of raping a six- year-old and then killing her. Six years old. We didn't think two-to-four was enough. We passed the word. The guy began to lose body parts. Every few months, an accident one time, a fight the next, you know how it goes. Last time I saw him he was a doorstop. No arms, no legs, you see. They pass him around hand to hand like a Judy doll and shove him under the bunk when they're through with him for the night. He cries a lot."

There was a liquid sound. A dark stain spread down Dick Turner's trousers. He stared white-faced at Melvin.

Mrs. Chard said sweetly, "There is an alternative." She reached into the briefcase and handed a document to Turner. "This is a transfer of property. It states that you are resigning your position at the Mariposa Hotel and ceding your interest to the bank. In addition, as a penalty for failing to fulfill the terms of your contract, your bank accounts have been seized. Your automobile has been impounded and safe-deposit boxes emptied. The shoe box full of cash found in your closet will be given to Mrs. Dahl so she can complete her college education, which was so unfortunately interrupted."

Dick Turner shrank. Helen remembered Amy saying that the most important thing in his life was the acquisition of money and position.

"You will be given a room at the Hotel Hilbert so we can keep an eye on you. You are not to leave town. There is a warrant for your arrest, but it will not be exercised unless you attempt to run. Since you have no assets, and since you have been blacklisted in the way of employment you'll have to pay for your room by doing whatever the hotel manager tells you to. I understand he's in the same line you were. He'll see that you are kept busy."

Her words dropped like shards of ice in the stillness of the room.

"Now what will it be? Prison, with the certainty of mutilation and worse, or relative freedom? Sign here if you choose the latter."

With fingers trembling violently Dick Turner affixed a shaky signature to the document.

"That is wise of you. Now get out. Mr. Woicyk will take you to the Hilbert. There is no point in returning to your rooms; they have been cleaned out. You have the clothes you are wearing and that is all. I warn you again not to try to leave town. If you do, you will be caught and sent directly to prison."

Dick Turner was walking like an old man as Mel escorted him from the room. The back of his pants was stained like the front.

Mrs. Chard smiled. "I think that went rather well, don't you?" The brittleness in her voice abated. "Now, let's see, unfinished business." She consulted some notes. "Yes. Mrs. Dahl. You heard what I said about your going back to school. With Mr. Turner's cash you should have enough for tuition and for you and your Nancy to live on until you graduate. There will be a job at Chard Industries waiting when you do. Tell me, will you be going to school as a girl or as a boy?"

"A boy. But if it's all right with you, I might like to dress up sometimes when I'm at home."

"I have nothing to say about it. In these matters you must be the judge. Now Mr. Myers. As you may have guessed, I am aware of your homosexuality, and the extraordinary measures you took to conceal it. I am not at all pleased, first that you should think so poorly of me as to believe I would hold it against you, and second, because of your contemptible treatment of your wife. For her sake, we will let this incident pass. I am willing to forgive and forget, provided you behave with circumspection in Chardsville. What you do in your own home, or the privacy of someone else's home, is your business. But when it is, ah, indiscreet, it reflects on the bank, and we can't have that. Is that understood?"

Howard winced. Red and white chased themselves across his face. He nodded quickly, not looking at the others in the room. "Thank you, Mrs. Chard."

"No thanks needed. You're a good bank president, Mr. Myers. I'd be sorry to lose you. Helen, are you satisfied?"

"Oh, yes, Estelle," Helen said with adoration.

"I wonder if you would stay behind when the others leave. I have something I'd like to discuss with you. Mr. Myers, you don't mind if I borrow your wife for a little while, do you?"

"No, that's fine."

"I'd appreciate it if you would run Mrs. Dahl home. If that's all right with you, Mrs. Dahl. Your charming Nancy won't mind?"

"No, she's seen me dressed like this lots of times. She likes it. Is that what you mean? Or Howard taking me home? She won't care."

Howard said, "I'd be glad to drive you."

He offered his arm. He was still red.

Amy said, "Thank you, Howard. Thank you, Mrs. Chard." She surprised them with a curtsy.

As they left, Helen murmured to Mrs. Chard, "Do you think they'll start up again?"

"I hope so."

"You hope so! Why on earth?"

"If Howard has other interests, you and I will have more time for each other."

"Estelle, you're awful."

"Just practical." The fine blue eyes twinkled. "Now, can you guess why I asked you to stay behind?"

Chapter 24

No one cried at the wedding. Helen noticed, because women were always supposed to cry at weddings. She supposed it was because mothers saw their daughters entering into the same kind of servitude they themselves endured. Apparently nobody in the small party felt that way.

Mrs. Chard had been true to her word. Aside from the immediate family, only a few select friends of the family were present.

Officiating was Fred Dashley, minister of Helen's own Episcopal St. Andrew's Church. Since Mrs. Chard was not a church-goer, preferring instead to distribute generous annual contributions even-handedly to all the town's churches and synagogues, she had relied on Helen to select the minister.

Helen owned Dashley now.

Instead of mailing the photographs back to him she had delivered them in person. His look of fear and shame made her sorry she had indulged herself in childish vindictiveness, so she did her best to soothe him. He had been pathetically grateful when, instead of being exposed, he had been asked to officiate at the wedding.

Select as it was, the invitation put a feather in his cap. She trusted he would do his best to quash the mutterings among the church ladies, who had become disenchanted with her when they had observed her growing more relaxed and less prone to condemnation of others than they were. He didn't have to silence those ladies who were his special friends, she smiled wryly, she'd done that herself by returning their photos with a brief charitable note. The usages of power.

Leslie was breathtaking in a white gown seeded with pearls. The moment became her--to Helen she was lusher, softer and more feminine than she had ever seen her. Mel, tall and straight in a morning coat, showed great poise until his "I do" came out in a hoarse croak, and you could see his hands shaking as he put the ring on the bride's finger. The kiss he bestowed her was heartfelt, however.

Mrs. Chard gave the bride away, cool and poised as always, very much the grande dame of the manor. It took a keen eye to detect a hint of how tautly strung she was. It was the end of Leslie's childhood, the time when Mrs. Chard could dress her up like a Barbie doll and play with her sexually at her leisure. Now she was grown; now marrying a man; and what would happen next was a question that only the future could answer. Mrs. Chard already looked lonely. Helen would do her best to comfort her.

Joan Argentina was maid of honor; that was to be expected. She and Leslie were childhood friends, and now that Helen knew they shared a secret, it seemed especially appropriate.

The best man was a surprise. Helen hadn't known how close Leslie and Mel and Joan and Michael had become in the last two months. Mel had chosen Michael for his best man. Perhaps it was partly tact. If he picked a fellow detective, politics had to be considered. Indeed, the only member of the police force present was the Chief, a bluff, hearty man with an Irish name.

The Woicyks, a pedestrian middle-aged couple who were subdued by the vastness of the mansion and their son's incredible fortune to be marrying the daughter of the richest person in the state, hovered diffidently on the fringes, saying little lest they be noticed.

Marie Argentina had brought her friend from the city, a Milquetoast-looking character some inches shorter than she and about ten years older. Helen watched him to see what had attracted her, but he continued to be unexceptionable. She finally guessed it was because there wasn't much doubt who would wear the pants in their relationship. You could never tell, though. They were going to stay at the reception for only an hour before returning to the city; he had a business appointment the next day. If she were boss, wouldn't she insist they stay over in her house?

Howard was distinguished in black tie. He had got over the fright and shame of the trial, and was spending a lot of time with the Dahls, as Estelle had hoped.

Tomorrow he was to drive her down to the apartment they kept for her time of expectancy. She should have gone two weeks ago. Only the expertise of Mrs. Chard's couturičre minimized the swelling of her belly in the gown she was wearing, but there was just so much that could be done. A couple of members of the Ladies Auxiliary had given her uncertain looks, but said nothing, possibly imagining she was just putting on weight. God knew they knew about that, the fatties. At any rate this had to be the last time for three or four months that she could appear in public in Chardsville.

Jack and Suzie had left the children with the Johnson's baby-sitter because John and Mary, their farm neighbors, were coming to the reception. The baby- sitter was a fourteen-year-old girl, but she looked no younger than Suzie did this minute: he was radiant, eyes sparkling like a child at a circus.

In his rough way, Jack was by all odds the handsomest man in the room, Helen thought. She would miss him and Suzie when she went down to the city.

Helen added up the wedding party: fourteen, including the bride and groom. A nice, sensible wedding.

The reception was a different story. She and Mrs. Chard had tried to limit the number of guests, but as soon as one name was added to the list, two or three or a half-dozen others would have to be included, for political or social reasons. The power Mrs. Chard wielded in the small college town was enormous: she owned majority interest in all three of the banks, the shopping center on the outskirts of town, the four hotels, the newspaper, and numerous other businesses and apartment buildings, as well as the town's largest industry. Small oversights on the invitation list could have repercussions.

Helen stood on the sidelines watching people dance, feeling happy. Pregnancy was her element. She remembered how frightened she had been of being caught out, reputation destroyed, when she was carrying Lucy, her son's child. Only the success of that experience had tended to allay her anxiety when she got pregnant with Bobby. With this one, however, she seemed to have lost her horror of being found out. Indeed, sometimes she seemed almost to seek exposure. Look at her now, courting discovery of her swollen belly.

It could be because of her ordeal at the Mariposa. Now that it was over, memory of that time had lost much of its power to frighten and repulse her. It had taken on the aspect of a naughty, daring escapade. She sometimes day- dreamed about the men she had been with. The experience had changed her, she knew, for she was far less inhibited in her thoughts than she had been. She sensed an element of exhibitionism in herself that was dying to be brought to the surface. Mrs. Chard encouraged it. She always wanted to hear every detail of her sex life, and the more risqué the better. Helen could see her fantasizing. Helen felt she was tacitly urging her to go on to greater extremes of daring so she could hear about them, a voyeur once removed.

Suzie danced by in Michael's arms, having a good time, radiant in an off- the-shoulder gown cut to hug his body closely. Suzie gave Helen a yardstick by which to measure her own pregnancy. He had unearthed the faithful maternity cushion, and was wearing it this evening. It distorted the gown just enough to make him look thoroughly "caught," adding to, rather than detracting from, his natural beauty.

She smiled to see Howard deep in conversation with the Dahls. Amy, no, Jimmy, looked dapper, though diminutive, in a rented evening jacket. His hair, still long, was gathered at the back of his neck with a black ribbon. It looked strange to her, but lots of men wore their hair long these days. She supposed Howard was up to his old tricks. As long as it didn't bother Jimmy's wife, she wouldn't let it bother her. There. The three of them were leaving. She wondered what kind of arrangement they had.

Jack came up and asked her to dance. She accepted gratefully and let him lead her around the floor in his arms. He was not a good dancer; he had little sense of rhythm; but she loved being held by him, secure in his strong arms. Her belly pushed against him, letting him know what he, or Suzie, had done to her. She became aware that he was growing erect, and allowed herself to tease him by movements of her pelvis, saying, "I didn't know you liked preggies so much."

He laughed aloud. "Not all of them. Just one. You're beautiful."

The moisture between her legs wasn't perspiration. She was always so pleased to realize Jack found her desirable.

Not for the first time, she was saddened to think how much she would miss them. They'd visit her on the odd weekend, but in between life would be dull. Of course, Mrs. Chard would visit too, and she was looking forward to it, but it wasn't like being home.

Jack said, "Are you okay? You shouldn't get overtired. If you want, I could take you home."

Sometimes they hovered over her as if she were an invalid.

"Hush, I'm not sick, I'm with child. There's a difference."

"You have to take care of yourself."

"I will. Oh, Jack, kiss me."

"What, right here?"

"Everybody's so drunk by now they won't notice. Besides, weddings make people aroused, you know that? They picture the bride being deflowered, and it makes them--"

Her mouth was stopped by Jack's embrace.

She gave herself up to it, swaying to the music, savoring the movement of his tongue in her mouth, meeting it with her own in a kind of imitation of intercourse. She was out of breath by the time he broke the kiss. She lay her head on his chest.

"I'm so happy. I'll miss you."

Her eye was caught by that of a corpulent frowning dowager on the sidelines. She recognized her from the Tea & Bridge Society. Whoops. Now she'd done it. Maybe by the time she got back from the city, the gossip would have blown over.

"Hey," Jack was saying unheedingly, "We'll probably see you more often. These days it seems like you're always hanging out with Mrs. Chard."

Safe in his arms, Helen let herself flow with the music. "Jack? You know about us, don't you."

"You and Mrs. Chard? We guessed something might be going on."

"Are you terribly shocked?"

"No. A little surprised, maybe. And maybe a little jealous. You know I love you as much as Suzie. If it makes you happy, that's great, but I wouldn't want to lose you."

"That will never happen. It's just, well, something different. Like Suzie, only more so. It's nice. Men like to hold women because they're soft and curvy, why shouldn't women like it too? It doesn't take anything away from you, it just adds to me."

"Yeah, I get it."

"She's a wonderful woman. I know she looks like glass that might break, but she isn't like that at all. She's warm and free-thinking and good-hearted. I think she tries to hide it because she's afraid people might take advantage of her. Being rich and all. She's sexy, too. Her husband didn't treat her very well; she's avoided men ever since, which is a shame, since she's a real sexpot under it all."

"I sensed that."

"I know you did. I saw your paintings. She needs a man. I think she's ready for it. It must be awful to go so long without. Frustrating." Jack didn't need to know about her and Mel. "You know what I think happened? I think being frustrated made her do terrible things. Did Suzie tell you about Leslie and Joan?"

"Yeah, they're like Suzie."

"It wasn't their idea. Their mothers put them in dresses when they were very young. Then they had a doctor do things to them. If you think about it, that's pretty terrible. It had to be because they were repressing enormously strong sex drives, and it distorted their thinking. It's only luck that things worked out so well. The children are really beautiful and seem happy."

"Like Suzie."

"Yes, exactly like Suzie. I take the blame for it. It was my own frustration that made me a drunk and caused her to run away from home. And her father's frustration that led him to molest her."

"It's all past now. Everything's okay," he said soothingly. "It worked out just fine."

"Because of you. Suppose she had never met you, you big lummox? I can't bear to think of it. Nobody can come near you without being better for it. I love you, Jack Landon, and Suzie does too. She's so proud of you she can't see straight. I'm glad that one of you is the father of this child."

"So am I. We love you too, you know."

Helen said comfortably, "I know. Oh, there's Estelle. Poor thing, she looks so wistful. With her daughter gone she'll be all alone in this big mansion."

And with Mel gone. He and Leslie would be honeymooning for two months in the Greek isles, a wedding present from Estelle. Just as the poor woman was getting accustomed to the idea of having a man in her bed once in a while. Helen wanted to do something nice for her friend. She remembered their desultory conversation about Mrs. Chard setting her cap for Jack. Well, why not? She could talk to Suzie about it, and try to work things out so Mrs. Chard was no longer as wary of men as she had been. She thought Suzie would understand. Besides, as she had said before, she could do no wrong; she was pregnant with their child.

Jack said, "What about Mrs. Argentina?"

"She's more or less living with Mr. Jorgenson down in the city. They have to go back tonight. She won't have anybody."

"Do you want to ask her out to the farm?"

"It would be the Christian thing to do."

"Damn."

"Why? Don't you like her?"

"It's not that. I do like her. In fact, if you promise not to tell, I got all turned on when I was painting her."

"Oh-oh. Shame on you."

"A guy can look, can't he?"

"Estelle told me the same thing about you."

"Yeah?" Jack's face lit up with interest. "What'd she say?"

"She thought you were sexy." Helen hesitated. "You know, I bet you would be the best thing for her."

Jack figuratively backed away, reverting to their former conversation. "It's just that we were hoping to have you for ourselves. Your last night and all. If Howard wouldn't mind."

"Didn't you see him disappear with that young Mr. Dahl? I bet he's got plans of his own."

"Little Jimmy Dahl?" Jack's face lit up with interest. "I thought he was married to that beautiful red-headed girl, what's her name, Nancy."

"He is. You never can tell, can you?"

Jack burst into laughter, then shook his head ruefully.

She said, "You shouldn't be mean, she's very nice."

"I wasn't being mean."

"You said she was beautiful. It sounded sarcastic."

"She is beautiful. One of the most beautiful girls I ever saw. I'd like to paint her. I been thinking about calling her."

Helen looked up at him curiously. There was no doubting his sincerity. Nancy Dahl beautiful? She couldn't imagine it. She hoped he would paint her, she'd be interested to see what he thought was so beautiful about her.

She continued, "Tell you what. A day more or less won't make any difference as long as I'm at the farm and nobody can see. I'll tell Howard not to come by until the day after tomorrow. Then we'll have an extra day or so to be together. In the meantime, why don't you go over and ask Estelle to dance, and invite her to stay over."

She watched Jack walk over to Mrs. Chard. God, he was a beautiful man. Now he was asking her to dance. They moved off decorously, Mrs. Chard's grace making him look good.

A touch on her elbow made her turn.

"Mrs. Myers? I'm Joseph Perch. Would you care to dance?"

He was a distinguished-looking man, gray at the temples, with kind eyes.

"I'd love to, Mr. Perch. Thank you for asking me," she said graciously.

She flowed into his arms. He was a fine dancer; it was no trouble to follow him. She let herself drift fluidly with the music. His touch was light and proper; he guided her with only the subtlest hints.

"You're a wonderful dancer, Mr. Perch. Are you new in town?"

"No, I teach at the college. I'm a professor of English there. My wife and I live on the north side."

There was something familiar about him.

"Oh, how nice. In that new development? My husband handled the financing for that. He works in a bank."

He said, "Chard's View, yes. We like it. Nothing like this, of course. But then my wife would be a bit out of her element." He indicated their surroundings.

She recognized the peculiar inflection he gave to the word "wife." Startled, she looked up at him.

He intercepted her glance. "We've met before, haven't we."

Helen said mildly, "Oh dear," but her heart was leaping wildly. It was at the Mariposa. He was the one who had been so nice about it when he asked her to blow him. He seemed to be afraid of offending her. He hedged around for a long time before telling her there were things his wife wouldn't consider doing, but one of his secret fantasies was to meet a woman who would fellate--that was the word he used--who would fellate him. If she wouldn't mind--?

She blushed from head to toe.

He had called her by name; he knew who she was. Somebody must have pointed her out to him.

"You won't say anything, will you?"

"Of course not. What do you think I am? You won't tell either?"

Helen smiled in relief. "Of course not." She wanted to add, "What do you think I am?" after him, but stopped. She didn't want him to say what he thought she was.

He divined her thoughts. "I think you're a lovely and charming woman. I'll only say this. I went back to look for you, and you were gone. I realized it was only a momentary escapade. My admiration for you knew no bounds. If only my wife were as imaginative and adventurous. We'll say no more about it. I'm enjoying this dance."

During his speech he had unconsciously drawn her closer to him. His erection throbbed against her. She was desirable.

Keeping her face straight, she said, "I can tell."

He laughed humorously. "You're a remarkable woman, Mrs. Myers. I envy your husband."

A wild sense of mischief seized her. Oh, God, she wasn't going to risk everything, was she?

"Joe, would you take me to the cloak room?"

"Yes, but I'm disappointed. Are you leaving so soon? I didn't mean to embarrass you."

"Let's go where we can be private."

She saw understanding come to his eyes.

He said, "Really? My wife's here."

"So's my husband. This will be just between you and me, with nobody the wiser--unless we get caught. Are you willing to risk it?"

"God yes! Let's go."

He took her elbow and led her off the dance floor. They tried to be composed and casual as they walked into the entrance hall and ducked into the cloak room.

They stopped. Angie was there hanging up the furs of a latecomer. She looked around in surprise.

Helen swallowed. With as much dignity as she could muster, she said, "Angie, Mr. Perch and I have something to discuss privately. Would you, ah, stand outside the door so we won't be disturbed?"

Angie smiled, "Certainly, Miz Myers," and then giggled knowingly. "Take as long as you want."

When the door closed he kissed her. She flowed against him. He was still very hard.

Heart in her mouth, Helen fumbled at his pants and undid his fly. She pried the stiff meat out, held it, feeling it throb. When he put his hand on her breast she reached back and unzipped the top of her gown, releasing her tits. He fondled them lovingly. Breaking the kiss, he bent his head and mumbled her nipples with lush movements of his lips and tongue. Her legs got weak.

His voice shook. "You're beautiful. I can't believe we're doing this. Like a couple of kids in the coat closet in school."

"Stand there against the wall."

Helen lifted her long gown and petticoats so they wouldn't wrinkle, and sank to her knees among the overshoes and galoshes. She kissed the leaking tip of his penis and looked up teasingly.

"Remember what I did for you that other time?"

"How could I ever forget?" he strangled.

She held his eyes and took it in her mouth.

For a moment she thought he was going to pass out. He gasped. Blood drained from his face, then rushed back in. It was so exciting for him.

Well, it was for her too. She was dizzy with terror and disgrace. Mrs. Myers sucking a stranger in the cloak room!

Desperately conscious of her breasts hanging out, nipples touching the material of his trousers as she moved her head, she sucked him lovingly, noisily, determined to fulfill the fantasy he told her about. It didn't last long; it was too exciting for him--he squirted fiercely in her mouth. Eyes locked with his, she made a deliberate, sensual production of swallowing his come.

Long after the pulsing stopped she sucked the softening organ, feeling the foreskin cover the head again, licking daintily inside it each time there was another leak of semen. He was breathing hard when she let the drained organ go and got to her feet.

"Ike." His throat wasn't working right. He tried again. "I'll do it to you. Lift your gown."

She could see he'd had enough sex for now and was just trying to be fair to her.

"No, that was all for you, because you're such a nice man. Give me a kiss and go back to your wife. Tell her she doesn't appreciate you enough."

His embrace was fervent.

She tucked her breasts into her gown and turned to let him zip her up before opening her tiny evening bag and repairing her lipstick. The mirror in her compact told her that her lips were full and swollen. She looked at him affectionately.

He said, "Will we . . ?"

She put a finger to his lips. "Shh. Only if chance should throw us together some day."

The taste of his sperm was still on her tongue when she found Jack and Suzie and Estelle waiting for her in the crowd. Suzie said, "Guess what, Mom. Mrs. Chard's going to stay with us tonight."

"How nice!" She didn't look at Jack. "I'm glad, Estelle. We can share a bed to keep the cold away."

Chapter 25

Helen listened to the bedroom windows shudder against the wind. Snowflakes flirted softly on the panes. She drew the feather comforter closer about them, making a cozy nest in the chill air of the room. The farmhouse was old- fashioned; there was no central heating; the only warmth in the upstairs came from vents in the floor that distributed the heat from fireplaces and stoves on the first floor.

She was warm and relaxed. Despite the late hour, she and Mrs. Chard had been making gentle, affectionate love to each other, low-intensity orgasms seizing them both repeatedly. She had needed it. The experience with Joe Perch had been thrilling, but her body hadn't been satisfied. She let her hand idly caress Mrs. Chard's perfect little breasts through her nightgown.

Mrs. Chard said, "Mm. That feels good. Tell me a story."

Helen chuckled. "About the three bears?"

"No, about the things you did in that hotel."

"Oh, Estelle."

"I can't help it, I'm fascinated. I'm jealous, I suppose. You have such an interesting and exciting life. Tell me a story."

"How about a story about tonight?"

"Tonight!"

"A man asked me to dance. I recognized him. He was one of the men that came to the hotel room."

"How awful! You must have been humiliated."

"I would, if I had let myself. But he was a nice man, handsome . . . a wonderful dancer. While we were dancing I felt him get hard, my tummy, you know. I can't explain it, I got terribly aroused--what are you doing? Never mind, it feels good. Do it some more." She wriggled. "Anyway," she said bashfully, "I took him to the coat room."

"You didn't! In the cloakroom? With all those hundreds of people around?"

"Angie was standing guard."

"She must have known what you were doing."

Helen smiled in the dark. "She knew something was going on, all right, but she didn't say anything."

"I can't believe it. Weren't you frightened?"

"I was, but I was even more aroused than scared. It was like I was back in that hotel room doing terrible things with men."

"You should have told me. --No, I'm glad you didn't. I'd have died, just died, wishing I could watch. I'm so proud of you. You're so daring."

"I guess I really am. Joe said the same thing. You are too, aren't you? Remember when you came to visit me here and Suzie was in the very next room?"

"That's different. If she had caught us, well, I mean, it's not as if she was a stranger or would say anything to anybody." After a moment Mrs. Chard said, "Tell me more. Wasn't it uncomfortable? I mean, there's no bed in there."

Helen was glad it was too dark for Mrs. Chard to see her blush.

"You'll think I'm awful. I did it to him with my mouth."

Mrs. Chard shivered and pressed close. Her breath was warm on her cheek.

"How exciting. Tell me."

"I got on my knees and sucked it," Helen murmured.

"Oh, God, how exciting. But you didn't let him . . . finish . . . in your mouth."

Helen let her surprise show in her voice. "Of course."

"Oh, Helen. That stuff in your mouth? Semen. Did you spit it into a handkerchief or something?"

"No! I swallowed it. I love it. It's like the man is giving you his most precious, ah, essence, if you see what I mean. It makes me feel desirable. I know it's silly, but it really does. It's just like he was making me a present of the most valuable thing he has."

"Oh-h." Mrs. Chard was silent a while, then said, "What does it taste like?"

"I can't tell you. It isn't like anything else in the world. I like it, but maybe that's only because I know what it is. It's slippery," she added, "like raw egg whites, but it doesn't taste anything at all like them. I don't know how to tell you. You'll just have to see for yourself. Try Melvin." She nudged Mrs. Chard with her elbow.

Mrs. Chard gave a little shriek. "I might! Listening to you and Marie makes me think perhaps I've been wrong about men."

"They require care and feeding, but they're worth it."

Mrs. Chard sat straight up. "Speaking of feeding, I'm hungry."

Helen laughed comfortably. "You should have eaten at the reception. It was all delicious."

"I was too distraught."

"Go raid the icebox," Helen suggested.

"Would they mind?"

"Not at all. There's always something to snack on. Besides, we are above reproach. I'm carrying their child."

Mrs. Chard laughed softly and shook her arm. "Come on, let's sneak out and gorge ourselves. We'll eat everything in the house and then deny it."

Helen giggled. Her friend was not often mischievous. It was good to see after her earlier depression.

"Brr. It's cold. I'd rather stay under the covers."

"Come on."

They tiptoed downstairs to the kitchen and fixed a small feast of ham sandwiches, Suzie's home-made sauerkraut, brownies, and a bottle of wine. At the sight of the sauerkraut and wine, Helen complained in an undertone, "Hey, I'm the one that's supposed to be pregnant, not you," and they laughed with muffled hilarity.

Helen whispered, "Let's take this stuff into the parlor. Maybe the fire hasn't gone out."

It hadn't. Jack was sitting lazily in front of it, a sketchpad on his lap, staring at the flames. Beside him was a steaming mug of hot chocolate. Feet up on the coffee table, he wore only his pajama bottoms. His chest was covered thickly with hair. The sight caused a stirring inside Helen.

Jack looked up and smiled.

"Icebox pirates."

Mrs. Chard said, "Oh dear. We've been caught."

Helen laughed, "Let's bribe him. Want some of our goodies?"

"No, thanks, I pigged out at the reception. It was a terrific wedding, Mrs. Chard."

"Estelle. Thank you, Jack. It was nice, wasn't it? Oh, it's so nice and warm."

Mrs. Chard put down her plate and stood in front of the fire, hands behind her. Her body was silhouetted through the nightgown she had borrowed from Suzie. It was an intimate moment, Helen thought, the three of them in their nightclothes. She noticed Jack eyeing her friend. Aha.

She had sought out Suzie at the reception, reminded him of their earlier discussion, and together they had volunteered Jack for service in a good cause--all without informing him or Mrs. Chard. They left it that they would set things up for them in some indefinite future, but it looked now as if that future might be nearer than expected. Mrs. Chard did look lovely, slender and tall, neat little bosom not quite large enough for the cups of Suzie's gown.

Jack said, "The bride was ravishing. I wish you'd let me paint her picture."

Mrs. Chard sat by Jack's side and looked at Helen, hesitating.

Helen said, "I think he knows." She took a bite of sandwich and a sip of wine.

Mrs. Chard emulated her, tossing down half her wine. She turned to Jack. "Do you?"

"About Leslie? Sure. She's like Joanie and Suzie. Suzie says there aren't any secrets between your family and ours."

"I'm relieved. It's such a pleasure to be with people who are so open and non-judgmental. I'd love for you to paint a portrait of Leslie, but I wonder, could you make it like that one?"

She pointed to Suzie's portrait on the wall, the one Helen had modeled for "down there."

"Sure. Hey, at the prices you pay . . ." Jack grinned.

Mrs. Chard finished the wine and poured the glass full again. The mischief was back in her face. "I'm also thinking about commissioning another portrait of myself."

"Good. You're a great subject. I almost feel like I shouldn't be charging you." Deadpan, he said, "Almost."

"There's one problem. Helen and I decided it wasn't fair for me to be unclothed while you were fully dressed. I won't pose for you unless you take your clothes off too."

A slow smile moved Jack's lips. Helen could see him entering the spirit of the raillery.

"Can't."

"You can't? Why not?"

"Because if there wasn't anything to hold it down, it would keep knocking the canvas over."

Helen gave a shriek of laughter, in which she was joined after a startled moment by Mrs. Chard.

In a suspiciously gentle voice, Mrs. Chard asked, "Are you all right now?"

She let her eyes rest on the sketch pad.

Color touched Jack's cheekbones. "Fine, thanks, how are you?"

"Is it warm here or is it just me?" She emptied her second glass.

Helen said, "Whew. Dirty talk going on." She teased, "Make him hand you the pad, Estelle."

At that moment Suzie walked in, barefoot, clad in a high-necked flannel nightgown.

"Aren't you ever coming to bed? Oh. Everybody's up. Doesn't anyone ever sleep any more?" He said with a happy grin, "So this is what goes on behind my back. Mom, are you making eyes at my husband again?" He kissed her on the cheek. "Hi, Mrs. Chard. You're keeping bad company."

"Call me Estelle. I'm afraid it's my fault. We got up to raid the refrigerator and when we saw your husband he looked so cute we couldn't resist flirting with him."

"Oh dear. You too, Estelle? Yet another temptress vamping my poor darling. It's a good thing I'm not the jealous type." He put his hand on Jack's shoulder. "You're just eating it up, aren't you, you faithless man?"

Helen said, "Estelle wants Jack to paint another picture, but she won't sit for him unless he takes his clothes off too."

"Oh-oh." Suzie burst into laughter. "The picture would never be finished."

Helen went on, "We were just trying to get the drawing pad away from Jack to see what's under it."

Suzie sat next to him. "Why on earth . . .?" He slipped his hand under the sketch pad. "Jack." His tone was reproachful.

"It was her fault."

Mrs. Chard said, "Why, what did I do?"

Suzie tugged at the pad. "Jack, let. Go."

With a sharp jerk he pulled the pad from the man's grip.

The blue cotton of the pajama pants was taut with the upward pressure of his erection. Outlined on the taut material was the form of his penis--shaft and flared head. A wet stain showed.

Mrs. Chard inhaled. Helen saw the loose material of the nightgown's top flutter with the beat of her heart.

Suzie said to Jack, "Now aren't you ashamed. Is that any way to behave in front of ladies?"

He grinned sheepishly and put his hand over the brazen evidence. "I couldn't help it," he said weakly.

Suzie said, "Hmph. Well, I'm not going to sit around here when I can be in bed. You night owls stay up as long as you want. We moms have to worry about the two o'clock feeding." He kissed Jack wetly and stood up.

It was permission for them to do whatever they wanted.

"No, don't go," Helen said. "Stay up with us. I was thinking we could turn on the stereo and dance for a little while. This afternoon was the first time in a long time; I miss dancing."

"That sounds like fun! Good-bye, beauty sleep." He put on some slow dance music from the forties. "Jack, you dance with Estelle, I want to dance with Mom. At least she won't step on my feet."

Helen faced him. Their arms moved simultaneously, stopped, switched to the other side. Helen laughed. "Who's going to lead?"

Suzie twinkled, "You lead this time, I'll lead next."

Helen enjoyed holding her son against her, right hand on his waist, left clasped with his, legs moving in rhythm to the music. It reminded her of dancing with other girls in her boy-shy teen years. In a very little time she felt his erection. She pressed her swollen tummy close. Dancing, she thought, was little more than a socially-acceptable substitute for sex.

Over his shoulder she saw Mrs. Chard delicate in Jack's arms. Her pastel eyes were unseeing; they had a shine of sultriness.

Helen held her son close. She let her hand fall so it cupped his bottom. He wiggled, cock hard, and as they turned so she was facing away from Jack and Mrs. Chard, quickly kissed her nipple through her gown.

"Shame on you," she whispered. "More."

"They'll see us. What would she think?"

"You'd be surprised. Besides--" She broke off when she saw Suzie's stare, and let the music turn them.

There was nothing amiss. Then she saw that Mrs. Chard's arms were sweetly about Jack's neck, face uptilted, slender back swayed forward against him. She remembered his erection.

"Close dancing," she murmured in Suzie's ear.

"He kissed her!"

"Oh dear. Are you furious?"

"N-no. Yes! No. Oh, gosh, I told him it would be all right, but gee whiz, couldn't he at least wait a little while? Men are pigs. I don't know whether to be jealous or excited. She's so beautiful."

"You already spoke to him? You didn't wait too long either."

"On the drive home he said he was glad we invited her, she must be lonely. I told him what you said about her needing male companionship."

"What do you think? Should we go upstairs and leave them to their own devices?"

Suzie's eyes widened. "What would Estelle think? About us sharing a bed."

Helen grinned. "The same thing you thought when you put me and Estelle together tonight."

"But she knows I'm your daughter--I mean now she knows I'm your son-- Mom, you didn't . . ."

"Shh. It's all right. Estelle and Leslie--I'll tell you later." She cleared her throat pointedly. When Jack and Mrs. Chard looked around, she said, "We're going to take a break from all this strenuous dancing and lie down for a little bit."

Jack grinned agreeably, but Mrs. Chard looked startled.

"You're not going?"

"Maybe we'll be back," Helen said. "Maybe not."

Mrs. Chard turned a bright pink. "You--Suzanne, don't you--?"

Helen had never seen her friend genuinely flustered. Mrs. Chard had been flirting outrageously, secure in the belief that nothing could come of it in the presence of Jack's wife and mother-in-law, but her bluff had just been called. Helen smiled calmly and put her arm around Suzie's waist. As they turned to go out the door, she let her hand slide down to grasp his ass-cheek naughtily. Suzie bumped her with his hip and looked back over his shoulder.

Bright-faced, he smiled, "Don't do anything we wouldn't do."

All Mrs. Chard's poise had deserted her.

Helen couldn't help giggling all the way to the bedroom. She had never seen Melvin unclothed, but she had enough experience with men by now to know that Mrs. Chard was in for a big surprise.

She was a-flutter at the thought of her friend having intercourse with the young man she loved most in the world.

As they got into bed, a remnant of warmth still clinging to the quilt, Suzie was pensive. He said soberly, "It's like he was being unfaithful to us."

"He wouldn't do it if you hadn't let him know it was all right."

"I know, but I can't help being a little jealous anyway."

"You have me."

"I know."

She felt him moving under the covers. He said, "Let's take these off. I love the feel of your skin against mine."

She squirmed out of her nightgown and pressed against him breast to breast. His penis was erect and warm between them.

He hugged her close. "I love you, Mom. I love being with you like this. You're so soft and smell so good." He said hastily, "I love being with Jack too, but it's different. With him . . . well, you know."

"He's wonderful," she agreed. "But so are you. You're the best of both worlds. I envy you so much. I wish I had a penis."

"I wish I had a womb," Suzie said. "It must be super to have children." He patted her tummy.

"Yes. If I had it to do over again I'd have both."

Suzie tittered and then was silent.

Helen moved against him luxuriously. "It's nice to cuddle with someone less . . . masculine sometimes, isn't it?"

"That's why you and Mrs. Chard are such good friends, isn't it?"

"Uh huh."

"She's a lesbian, isn't she?"

"I think she thought so. She probably didn't know what else to do. Her ex- husband scared her off men. She's just discovering how nice they can be."

"With my husband."

She laughed softly. "You're not really jealous, are you? He loves you very much. There's nothing to worry about."

"He loves us both." he corrected.

"Yes. But he adores you. Estelle doesn't mean anything."

"I know. It's just--variety. Men like variety. I guess we have to put up with it, don't we? The big apes."

Helen laughed. "That's the spirit."

"Mom? What did you mean about her and Leslie?"

"They used to sleep together. I'm not telling tales out of school--we agreed that we should be completely honest with you and Leslie. We're pretty much in the same boat, aren't we? And she really helped me out recently. I'd do anything for her. She's almost like family."

"Gosh. They really did? Does Melvin know?"

"I think so. I'm pretty sure, because she and Melvin . . ."

His body tensed in her arms. A moment later he was trying to stifle laughter.

"Stop," she giggled. "It's not funny. You let me do it with Jack, don't you?"

"That's what I was thinking. Our families are a lot alike, aren't they? I guess you're right about being honest with them. You won't get mad? I was thinking someday I'd like to see you and her together."

A wave of heat caused her stomach to flutter. "Oh God, that would be exciting. Me too."

Suzie laughed again. "You are a sexpot." He hugged her again. His penis was leaking down her bare belly.

"You bring out the best in me." With an inward smile she allowed herself a private thought, And other men too. Estelle was right, the experience had been good for her.

He twisted around in bed, head under the covers, and put his arms around her waist.

She lifted one knee to let him rest his head on the inner part of her thigh and kiss her labia. His curls were soft on her skin.

His voice came muffled, "You smell so good. I could sleep down here all night."

"Oh don't go to sleep yet."

His prick leaked on the side of her face. She touched the bare sensitive area above his organ with her lips, feeling him quiver, let them move down to his balls. She nibbled at the egg-shaped masses gently, then took them into her mouth one by one and washed them with her tongue. The taste and smell of men's skin was terrifically exciting; she found herself responding to it. Suzie's odor wasn't as strong as Jack's--he cleaned himself so carefully and had no pubic hair to retain the smell, but in this respect he was definitely male.

He was kissing her down there, just kissing her outer lips, nuzzling gently, taking his time, letting the sensation build up in her. He was a wonderful lover. Her son. The depravity of her acts of incest didn't often shock her these days, but every now and then, as now, she was appalled. Her own child! She should be ashamed, but she wasn't. That it was her son made it better somehow, outrageous as it must seem.

He was kissing her cunt. What would he say if he knew she had let upwards of sixty or eighty stiff cocks squirt in there?

The thought made a flow of liquid seep through her vulvular area.

She heard his voice, "You're so smooth and bare and beautiful down here. Jack's right, it's exciting."

Helen nipped the skin of his scrotum with her teeth. "You too. It makes your--prick--look long. I love it. If I--if I make you come this way, do you think . . . you'll be able get hard again and put it in me before we go to sleep?"

His breath was warm on her labia. "Yes."

For the second time that evening she took a cock in her mouth and sucked it passionately.

His tongue roved through her vulva, warm, slippery, ineffably thrilling. She orgasmed turbulently, and then again; and twice more before a hot spill of semen filled her mouth, causing her to climax a final heart-stopping time. She trembled with Leslie's head resting exhausted between her legs, his prick softening in her mouth.

When it came down to it, she thought distractedly, Suzie was more exciting than Estelle. His tongue was so bold and clever, and his cock so arousing. She wondered how her friend was making out, whether she would satisfy her curiosity about the taste of sperm.

Estelle knew she was having sex with her son. She blushed. It was all right: Estelle had done it with her son too.

Suzie's head moved between her legs. She felt him kiss her wetness, sending a shiver of sensation through her pudendum.

The limp sausage in her mouth began to swell again. Her heart pattered.

He pulled out and turned around so he was facing her. His face smelled of pussy.

She said, "I love you," and kissed him deeply, letting him taste the semen on her tongue. Her belly felt his prick get suddenly larger.

Holding on to the quilt so it wouldn't slip off them, she straddled him and inserted his erection into her liquid love canal, which stretched deliciously with its presence.

"Let me be the man this time," she whispered. "Open your legs."

His knees came up, and his arms went around her neck.

She lay forward on him and put her thighs between his. It was the position Estelle told her about. She lifted her pelvis, pushed it down again. His prick slid out and in. Her clitoris pressed against the bare skin of his mound; the touch made her tingle. She imagined it was what he felt when he put it in her, and as she moved, breaking the rhythm from time to time to rotate her hips against him, she made believe it was her penis in him, not his in her.

"You gave me a baby; pretend I'm giving you one."

He gasped. His cock poked upwards against her cervix.

She bent her head and nursed on his breasts, picturing herself as a man fucking a prostitute in a hotel room. The idea precipitated an instant series of orgasms which grew successively more intense until she felt her semen pumping with abandon.

She shuddered and let herself sag on him, only gradually becoming aware that it was his penis, not hers, that was softening and slipping out of her vagina, not his. She was disappointed but thrilled. It had been a marvelous fantasy. She'd do it again sometime. Helen let herself fall to the side and lay beside the exquisite boy-girl who had provided her such pleasure, and gave herself up to sweet lassitude.

Suzie's hand stroked her distended stomach.

"We'll miss you," he said.

Tomorrow--it was today now--Howard would pick her up to take her down to the apartment in the city. Her heart sank.

Suzie stirred, ducked under the covers, and pressed his lips to her belly. He explained, "Just kissing our child good night. Mom? Jack and I were thinking. What do you do all day down in the city?"

"Nothing much. A little shopping. Movies. I guess I spend most of my time waiting for you to visit. Estelle says she's going to come down, too."

"Originally you went down there so none of your neighbors and friends around here would see you pregnant, right?"

"Can you imagine the talk?"

"Except for visits to the doctor and giving birth in the hospital, that's the only reason."

"Yes."

"We just never thought. You know what it's like out here on the farm. Nobody around for days at a time, except for Jack's portrait customers, and once in a while Mary and Johnny Johnson. Or Joanie. Why couldn't you just stay here? Tell everybody you were going on vacation, and come live with us. Nobody would know. If somebody came over you'd just stay in another part of the house."

Helen mulled the idea over. "It would be risky. All it would take would be one person."

"Same in the city. People from Chardsville go there all the time."

Not to have to stay all alone and bored in a city apartment. Live instead with the persons she most loved in the world. A joyous flutter materialized in her stomach.

"How would Jack feel about his mother-in-law living with him?"

"Oh, Mom. You're not his mother-in-law, you're his second wife! He'd love it."

"How about you? Wouldn't you want more attention from him?"

Helen heard a smile in Suzie's tone. "You mean if he made love to you and couldn't get it up for me? Then you'd just have to let me come in you too. You'd be in your glory, sleeping with two lovers."

"We'd all be sleeping with two lovers."

"And Mrs. Chard could visit you here more often than down there. When she came over you could use one of these upstairs bedrooms if you wanted."

"After tonight she might not want to sleep with me any more," Helen laughed.

Suzie chuckled and snuggled closer. "Please say yes, Mom. We'd love it. You wouldn't even have to help with the children."

"I don't know what your father would say."

"Why should he care?"

"I think he's looking forward to the apartment on weekends."

"He can stay there anyway, and you wouldn't be around to cramp his style."

"Are you sure it's all right with Jack?"

"Of course. We discussed it."

"We-ell . . . we could give it a try. I'd have to go down there at the end, though. I wouldn't want to go into labor with a three-hour drive ahead."

Suzie hugged her close and said excitedly, "Oh, Mom, it's going to be wonderful."

Helen thought so too. Life was as close to perfect as it could be.

END Chardsville Revisited

Bouquets kept fresh in the icebox; flames to the woodstove.