Monday, January 20, 2014
Ready for Publication?
PROLOGUE: James Freeman, mesmerized by the face half in shadow, the body shimmering in crimson jewels, secretly wished the pole she straddled was his. “Candy,” head thrown back, legs spread wide, descended slowly to the ground. Ginger hair swept the floor as she cat-crawled to the edge of the stage and rose to a hypnotic beat. On the last note, she ripped off her bra unveiling perfect breasts tipped in glittering peaks. “Holy shit.” James dug in his tattered wallet for a five dollar bill. The dark haired man sitting next to James dipped one manicured hand into his cashmere coat pocket, extracted a wad of money and said, “If you want her attention, I suggest a twenty.” James winced. “A twenty?” “A lap dance will set you back a C-note,” the man said. “But hey-- you’re a decent looking guy—a twenty might get you a peek.” The man winked, and extended his hand. “The name’s Jess Bartell.” “James,” he replied, shifting in his seat. While his eyes roamed Candy’s body, James imagined the tantalizing tasks
her luscious lips could perform. “Damn, she’s hot.” “Watch this.” Jess waved a hundred dollar bill. Candy, drawn like a magnet, crouched down, and jiggled her breasts inches from his face. He deposited the money inside her bejeweled thong. “Thanks, Counselor,” she purred. She winked at James and blew him a kiss. Her perfume sweetened the air, the fragrance exotic, distinctive, expensive, like the woman wearing it. “Jesus Christ, she’s amazing.” James drained his glass and set it on the bar. He turned to his new friend. “I haven’t been to a strip club in years.” Jess threw back a shot. “How about another drink? My treat.” He tossed a fifty on the bar, ordered two more shots of Black Maple Hill, and turned to James. “You must be married.” “Past tense,” James chuckled bitterly, “took me two years to get my kids back. You?” “I keep the little woman tied up at home.” Jess leaned closer. “A man needs a little excitement now and then, don’t you agree? “ “Hell yeah, especially after the day I had. Thirty-two emergencies, can you imagine?” “You’re a doctor?” James shook his head. “I wish! No, triage nurse, huge wreck on highway 50 this morning. What’s your gig?” “I’m a litigator. Civil, criminal, a few estate battles, nothing exciting. But I expect that to change now that I’m back in Sacramento.” He held up another hundred. Candy instantly appeared, and he pulled the tiny triangle away from her privates to slip the cash inside. James craned his neck to catch that peek Jess mentioned. “Hey Sugar save some money for later.” Candy pried Jess’ hand from her pants, her eyes fixed on James. “Maybe we can all go someplace later, have a little fun.” “I’d love to take a bite out of your sweet ass again,” Jess growled, clutching her behind. Her smile faded. She dipped and twisted her hips, breaking his grasp. “Still got a mark from last time, bad boy.” James watched her writhe across the bar, collecting bills as she went. His tight jeans strangled his manhood. He considered spending his last twenty for one touch of her velvety skin, but his conscience intervened, can’t keep a babysitter if you show up empty handed. He stuffed the bill back in his pocket. Playboy was the closest he’d been to a woman since Sheryl left. The bitch had started taking the starch out of his libido after their first daughter, Charming, was born. He went months without sex, and after baby Jetta came along, he felt like he was married to a nun. The problem wasn’t that she didn’t want sex; the problem was she didn’t want sex with him---she preferred his good buddy, Kevin. Since the divorce, he’d been too bitter to think about women or sex. Until he saw Candy. Jess nudged his shoulder. “You want to meet her?” “Meet her? I wanna’ eat her up.” “I suggest you meet her first.” “And how do you propose I do that?” “Let’s just say, I have an in with her.” The lawyer motioned over his shoulder “C’mon, let’s grab a booth. We’ll have more privacy.” “Thanks man-- must be my lucky night.” “Mine too. I plan to reunite with the girl of my dreams-- the one that got away.” “Got away?” “We met in college. She’s amazing, smart, witty, and has body that won’t quit. Funny the mistakes we make in life.” His expression soured, “I should’ve married her. But all that’s going to change.” His hazel eyes turned to pitch, a smile stretched across his face. “I have a plan. First, I call her, remind her how good we were together; suggest we get together for ol’ time’s sake. Then I wait awhile, let the memories simmer before I call her again.” He leaned closer to James. “Believe me—it won’t take long before she’s mine.” “Doesn’t being married complicate things?” Jess relaxed against the back of the booth, “Are you kidding? Jenna’s happy when I’m gone.” He rolled his eyes, “Living with me can be torture.” James disapproved of the man’s plan. He knew the result of being on the wrong side of a love triangle, but who was he to judge? Let it go, man, have a good time. When Candy’s shift ended, the lawyer kept his word and made the introduction. She latched on to James instantly, inquiring about his line of work, was he single? They were so engrossed in their new connection neither noticed the lawyer had moved across the room to grope a brunette wearing a skimpy cowgirl outfit. “Wanna’ lap-dance? Candy snuggled closer. “No, that’s okay.” “Your buddy paid me already.” “Keep the money, it’ll be our secret.” “Why? Don’t you like me?” “What’s not to like? You’re gorgeous. It’s —it’s been a long day.” James had already tallied the babysitter’s hours in his head. The twenty burning a hole in his wallet would barely cover what he owed her. “I just stopped in for a beer. I didn’t plan on—“ “Right. A few beers, get your rocks off, I get it.” Candy slid to the edge of the booth. James grabbed her hand. “I’m not like that.” James thought about his little girls, school in the morning. He had lunches to pack, clothes in the dryer. “How about dinner sometime?” “Dinner? As in date?” “Flowers, the whole bit.” He glanced at his watch. “How are you getting home?” “I walk. I’m just a couple of blocks from here.” “It’s late. I can take you.” “I’ll get dressed. Wait here.” James drove Candy the short distance home in silence. He never imagined having someone sit beside him other than Sheryl. She’s history, dude. Get over it. He glanced Candy’s way and she smiled. “This is it,’ she said, “home sweet home.” He walked her to her door and leaned in to kiss her cheek goodnight when she pulled him close. “You’re not getting away that easily,” she said, placing his hands on her buttocks. “My peaches ripe enough for you, baby?” She planted tiny kisses on his chin, inching toward his lips. Her pelvis gyrated against his aching groin, her breasts pressed into his chest. He kneaded handfuls of spandex, working his way up her ribcage to her breasts. His thumbs circled her nipples into hard knots as she filled his hands with pliable flesh. Rock hard, he was ready to explode, but he knew if he overextended his time with the babysitter, he’d have to stop at the ATM. Two days ‘til payday. “I better go.” She slid her hand between his legs and gave him a wicked look. “I think you should come inside.” He backed away. “I’ll call you.” And he did. Twenty minutes later. “I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed meeting you.” “Too bad you had to rush off.” “I’d like to be honest. I have kids. Two. Girls, Charming’s six, Jetta’s four and a half. Babysitters get expensive.” “I feel better knowing you weren’t running home to your wife, or girlfriend. And for the record-- I love kids.” When payday rolled around, he invited Candy to dinner. At the end of the evening, she insisted they go back to her place. “For dessert.” Her lips turned out to be even sweeter than he had imagined at the strip club. When it came to ways of using her mouth, she was a pro. “Did I please you?” She cuddled close, massaging him into oblivion. He answered with a kiss. Sheryl was the only woman he’d known sexually, with the exception of a chubby girl he felt up in sixth grade. He could’ve lived a lifetime without ever experiencing such gratifying orgasms. Candy was a generous lover, focused on his needs. He knew it wouldn’t take much to spoil him. But when she wanted to make room in his closet for some of her things, he got nervous. “Let’s take it slow. We hardly know each other. I have my kids. There’s ballet and soccer--they’ve been through a lot.” “Don’t you like what we have, James? Don’t I treat you good?” He had to admit, it had been a long time since he felt happy. “You know my history. Let me talk to my therapist, see what she has to say.” “Therapist? You see a therapist? I thought you were a man who knew his mind, or does your decision making only go as far as your dick?” “Seeing as I just got screwed over by one woman, thinking with my dick for a while doesn’t seem like such a bad idea, now does it?” He saw the hurt look in Candy’s eyes and folded her in his arms, but his thoughts were elsewhere and he could hardly swallow. His therapist was so fine, she made Candy look like an ugly duckling, and that was saying a lot because Candy was one gorgeous babe. His therapist was sexy without trying. She exuded confidence, had the allure and sophistication of a movie star in the limelight. Yet, with a mere exchange of words she could crawl inside his soul, make all his troubles melt. As if sensing his thoughts drift, Candy pulled away. “Is your therapist a man or a woman?” “A woman.” She reclaimed her position and held him close. “I hate her already.” Chapter 1 “Damn!” Grace pounded the steering wheel. The stamped ticket she pulled from the machine at the parking lot entrance read 9:04. Her client was scheduled at 9. She glanced at her dash clock in disbelief. I’m never late to work. When she rounded the corner, the last thing she expected was a green sedan occupying her assigned space. She slammed on her brakes, barely missing the bumper. What the--! Trolling the aisles for a place to park added to her frustration. Her temper flared climbing each level to no avail. Finally, on the fourth floor, she swung into a tight spot next to a cement post, nearly shearing off her side-view mirror. She caught her harried reflection in the mirror. Breathe. The call she had received from her college crush the night before pulsed in her brain like a bad hangover. Eight years without a word, and now-- He’s here. The mere sound of his voice gave her butterflies, how would she react to seeing him again? Why Sacramento, Jess? Why now? She jammed the gearshift into park, flung her purse over her shoulder, stuffed the remainder of a glazed donut into her mouth, grabbed her coffee in one hand, car keys in the other, and opened the door. She squeezed through the narrow opening unable to avoid her skirt from riding up around her thighs and exposing her ivory lace. While licking sticky glaze from her fingers, a prickle skittered along the nape of her neck. Her throat constricted. She swallowed hard. Someone is watching. She turned quick, ready to throw her coffee-- no one was there. She scanned her surroundings, paying close attention to shadows, expecting one of them to move. It’s nothing, the practical voice inside her head mocked. You’re a grown woman now, a trained professional for chrissakes! And yet, her pulse quickened, her cheeks flushed. “Hello? Anybody there?” Her words echoed in the concrete structure. No one answered. Chills, raced along her spine. She slammed her car door and looked around one last time. Someone is watching. I know it. Adrenaline flooded her nervous system. Why are you standing here? Run! Her spiked heels hit concrete, resounding like firecrackers popping on the fourth of July. The sound chased her across the parking lot. She looked over her shoulder twice, as if expecting to see a gunman, but all she saw were rows and rows of cars. Not again, she prayed. She charged into the elevator, colliding with an old woman. The woman yowled, and rubbed her foot. “"Sorry! Are you hurt?” Grace slowed the stampede in her chest. Years ago, she reminded herself, the stalking happened years ago. The old woman’s loud protest stopped mid-sentence--something else caught her eye. Grace froze. The doors hadn’t closed all the way. Her eyelids squeezed tight, fearing any moment she’d be snatched from the elevator, her throat slit, her body dumped on the stained concrete. Horror flashed behind her eyes, images of lying in a pool of blood, oil, and antifreeze. “Are you okay?” “I’m fine,” Grace muttered. The old woman continued to stare. “Go like this,” she said, and brushed her nose. Grace discovered crunchy icing stuck between her nose and upper lip. “Thanks,” she said, unclenching her jaw and forcing a laugh. “Breakfast-- I was in a hurry.” No one there…let it go. * * * The shadowy figure watched Grace’s long legs emerge from her car. Blond hair spilled across the swell of her breasts and the curve of her spine. Her skirt hiked above her thighs. Not your typical psychotherapist. When Grace’s cool voice called out, the figure wanted to rush to her---say things. Bad things. Not yet. Be silent. For now, revel in her fear. >Bang<. The car door? The figure listened until the clicking heels darting across the parking lot faded. Safe to come out now. The beauty scurrying toward the elevator put ugly ideas in the figure’s head, sharp objects, so much blood. Ugly thoughts continued to brew. The figure envisioned trembling lips pressed against the beauty’s ear. She’ll plead for her life. When the door closed, and the elevator began its decent, the figure peered through Grace’s car windows and spotted a manila envelope on the passenger seat. On the label– Grace’s home address. A smile followed the discovery. After committing the delightful tidbit to memory, the figure sang a little tune and headed for the stairs, “I know where you li-ive.” * * * The elevator came to a halt on the second floor. Grace stayed back and let the old woman exit first, mindful of minutes ticking away. When her path cleared, she raced down the hall to her suite. She smoothed her black pencil skirt over slim hips, fluffed trapped heat from her heavy curls. Shoulders squared, she entered the office as if it were any other day. “Morning, Sal,” she said to the petite woman minding the front desk. “Good morning,” the woman chirped. “You’re late –– everything okay?” Aside from being Grace’s office manager, Sal was her friend, her very intuitive friend. “Am I?” How could she justify lazing in the mirror this morning, inspecting her face for signs of aging? Clothes strewn from one end of her bedroom to the other--shoes, kept neatly organized in boxes, piled in a heap on her closet floor? “Your face is flushed.” How did she explain getting spooked in the parking garage? “I was running- this creepy– it felt like– never mind. I’m sure it was nothing. Do you have my first appointment ready to go?” “Breathe. James hasn’t arrived yet. Here-- today’s mail.” Sal studied Grace carefully. “Goin’ somewhere after work?” “What’s with the questions?” Grace tugged the fabric clinging to her curves. “Your outfit for starters–” “What’s wrong with my outfit?” Grace adjusted the scooped neckline on her red knit sweater. “Nothing.” Sal smirked. “Make-up looks nice, too.” “A little lipstick and mascara –– not a big deal.” “That eye shadow brings out your pretty brown eyes.” Sal said, peering over her glasses. “Sure you don’t have a date?” “No-- I don’t have a date.” Grace snapped up her mail, shuffled through the envelopes and tossed the bundle back on the counter. Gave up my search for ‘Mr. Right’a long ago…. “Then what is it?” Sal drummed her fingers. “What’s what? I didn’t feel like wearing a suit today, that’s all.” “How many times did you change this morning?” Sal persisted, removing her glasses to monitor Grace’s reaction. “Three–okay? I felt frumpy.” “Ah- hah!” Sal flipped the page on the calendar. “I almost forgot. You have a little birthday coming up.” “Little birthday? I’m going to be thirty-one.” “Aw, that’s nothing. You’re good until at least –fifty. Sal peered over her thinframes. “Trust me. One day, you’ll wish you were thirty-nine.” “No, I won’t.” Grace regarded her spiked heels. She had rummaged through the closet on her hands and knees, dug in boxes, until at last, she found them. She admired the teardrop cut-out above her pinky toe. Sexy. She had splurged on the shoes for her last date. I was twenty-six then. The guy was a loser. She cleared her throat. “I better get to work.” “You might want to get your eyebrows out from the middle of your forehead, you look––desperate.” "What do you mean, des ––” Just then, one hundred-seventy-five pounds of molten male walked through the door. “Hi, James.” “Morning ladies, did I interrupt something?” “Not at all,” Grace said, sweetly. “Take a seat. I'll be right with you." James nodded and headed towards the waiting room. Sal nudged Grace, and they both watched his broad shoulders, muscular arms and tight tush disappear from view. “Don’t say a word,” Grace hissed. Sal zipped her lips and threw away the key. “Not a word.”