The gray sky swept the ground, melding with sodden earth
to obscure all but what lay an arm’s span away. A door
opened, and a tall, handsome woman who moved with feline
grace stepped onto the porch, and stared into the mist-shrouded
environs of her home. Shaking her head in mute negation,
she turned, re-entered, and thrust the hardwood barrier
back into place, locking herself away from the twelve
hundred eighty acres of soggy meadow and rain-drenched
sagebrush comprising the outer bailey of her donjon keep.
Having doffed her jacket, she hung it on a hook by the
entry. Turning, she viewed the kernel of her world: the
old, comfortable ranch house she pulled around herself
as consciously as she had earlier donned the coat of faded
A vivid sense of living apart from humankind struck her.
The very solidity, the warmth, of the pleasant interior
accentuated the force with which that random thought impinged.
Fastening on the idea, Mercedes recalled that she had
seen no one, neighbor or relative, for five…no, six days
That realization in no way equated with loneliness.
Well aware that she and her circle of acquaintances
possessed few common interests, now that the beloved
husband who had lived so completely in the real world
of grass, and cows, and horses, and machinery, no longer
served as the anchor tethering her firmly to the land
he had loved, she sighed audibly as his virile, weathered,
broad shouldered, larger-than-life image spread itself
across her inner vision.
Wondering a trifle uneasily whether her habitual withdrawals
into an interior sanctuary—a vantage point from which
her physical surroundings seemed to dissolve into a
mist as obscuring as that currently crouching outside
the door—constituted a danger to her mental stability,
the widow pondered that point.
Seconds later, she shrugged. A laugh floated out on
the ambient air as she acknowledged that if such were
the case, instability ranked as a prime facet of her
personality. Adept at fading in and out of an intangible
mental realm even while interacting with people she
liked, she readily conceded that most if not all of
those well-wishers who occasionally dropped in to check
on her, originally entered her life as friends of her
late husband’s, not of herself.
The mental visualization changed. A well-remembered
male figure stood nude, aroused, his eyes raking her
every curve, his hands reaching for her. Desire stirred:
need as much of the spirit as of the flesh.
Striding into her office, Mercedes yielded to a mental
seduction originating deep in her psyche. Seating herself
at her computer, she brought up a blank page, and stared
unseeing into its flat white opacity. Yearnings never
acknowledged except in the privacy of an ardent mind,
generated new visions.
A whiplash descended forcefully, striking a nude body
shivering half in fear, half in perverse anticipation.
Writhing in the bonds holding her willing self immobilized,
the daydreamer welcomed the primal lust aroused by the
thought of the snaking lash. Abdicating all control
over mind and flesh alike, she savored her imagined
sensations even as her cunt creamed.
Of a sudden, her hands moved. Fingers raced across
the keyboard, obedient to an urgent directive issuing
from some subliminal command-center in their owner’s
brain. Words erupted onto the screen, translating into
verbal imagery the pictures shimmering in a heightened
awareness. The governing intelligence swiftly ordered
those most chaotic, ruthlessly paring away excess, slimming,
shaping, distilling the essence, purifying it. As the
poet’s mind achieved a climax fully as satisfying as
that produced by sexual intercourse, contractions, pleasurable
but minor, made themselves felt at her feminine core.
Sitting back, Mercedes read the lines on the screen.
I lie naked on sand
Face upturned to the leprous moon
Riding the star-branded black vault.
A sheet of hissing surf
Whips away, exposing skin scored with welts.
Salt stings, but scalpels slice the heart bleeding from
a thousand cuts.
My lover is gone.
Masterless, my flesh shrieks its need
Its cry ignored by an unfathomable universe.
I remember ecstasy
Vestigial prick engulfed by voracious mouth, flayed
by ravening tongue.
His cock completed me.
Amid sea-scoured shells,
I sprawl naked on sand,
Gravid with pain.
A finger touched a switch. The complex sound issuing
from the stereo registered on a different plane of the
creative faculty concentrating on verbal imagery. That
lesser stimulation served at this juncture only to narrow
the primary focus.
Again, the woman indulging in unrestrained fantasizing
writhed in her bonds as the lash wielded by a lover
possessed of her dead husband’s body but a stranger’s
face, targeted bare back, buttocks, thighs, and abdomen.
Virtual pain narrowed the dreamer’s focus, producing
intense, inchoate need.
Changing implements, her master selected a six-thonged
whip of thin cords knotted at the ends. Pain racked
the defenseless breasts now forming the focus of the
tormentor’s attention. As agony mounted, the whip-wielder
paused to thrust two fingers deep into the cunt awash
in its owner’s juice. So vividly did the imagination
depict the encounter, that moisture oozing from between
swollen pussy-lips ran down the thighs the poet unconsciously
No need existed for Mercedes to insert a finger so
as to stimulate herself. The scene shimmering in her
interior vision accomplished all an invading pseudoprick
could have precipitated. A few hard contractions occurred
within her feminine depth, but those ceased as the woman
longing to experience orgasm failed to achieve physical
relief. Seated in her office chair, solitary, still,
she fought off a momentary upwelling of despair. A softly
uttered sigh of disappointment floated out onto the
The tension drained out of the neck and shoulders of
the fantasist sturdily resolving to dwell solely on
the positive aspect of the experience. Sitting back,
she read the lines again, and judged them complete.
With the touch of a finger, she saved the creation.
The poem etched itself into a creative facility drunk
on words, the intoxication subtly enhanced by the flood
of melody underscoring the achievement.
Three sharp knocks on the door shattered the intellectual
fulfillment almost as sensually satisfying as the physical
culmination would have been. Rising, the poet recalled
an interruption to another flight of imagination: a
distraction that deprived subsequent generations of
all but a fragment of a most marvelous vision. Candidly
admitting the huge disproportion inherent in the comparison,
she yet smiled, glad that her own modest effort escaped
annihilation by a well-meaning visitor such as the gentleman
Throwing open the door, Mercedes beheld a total stranger.
Still only half returned to her present time and place,
the widow responded to the voice before the face and
figure fully registered on her senses. Melodic, full-bodied,
the timbre pleased even before the listener grew cognizant
of the cultured tone of the words. “I hope I’m not intruding
at an inconvenient time,” she heard the man courteously
aver. “Are you Mercedes Macauley?” The faint emphasis
he placed on the word “you”, struck her forcibly, generating
“I am,” the woman responded, even as she scrutinized
the caller. Her habit of withdrawing periodically into
an inner sanctuary nowise coincided with any lack of
ability to study minutely any phenomenon that intrigued
her. Beholding a face more striking than handsome, over
which played a smile faintly ironic—as if the owner
silently, sardonically chided himself for harboring
erroneous expectations—the viewer failed to pinpoint
the visitor’s age. She nonetheless accurately deduced
that this man would never see fifty again.
Intrigued, she studied him. Dark, fine, abundant hair,
damp from the mist, swept down over a high forehead
to frame a boldly sculpted face penciled at the corners
of the eye-sockets and mouth with fine lines. Smooth
brows, dark and thick, arched above brown eyes oddly
flecked with gold. A thin, wide slash of a mouth drew
attention to a strong chin and lean jaw, suggesting
toughness to a woman well used to rugged outdoorsmen
possessing that attribute in abundance. Yet the smile,
which seemed to imply complicity in an amusing facet
of their joint experience that went unperceived by others,
“Come in,” she invited. “Out of the damp.”
The stranger, whose height exceeded her own by only
three inches, stepped through the door. Shrewdly judging
that the elegantly understated black slacks, black turtleneck,
and gray wool sweater gracing his lithe body never saw
the interior of any local clothing store, Mercedes sought
to place his slight regional accent, but failed to classify
him as other than being no native of this or any other
“I’m Julian Rakoczy,” the visitor announced, an all
but imperceptible hesitation conveying a distinct impression
that he identified himself reluctantly. “I bought B.
R. Anderson’s ranch, a short time ago.”
Enlightenment dawned. The name of the out-of-state
purchaser had until now failed to surface among the
natives disdainfully dismissing the newcomer as one
more wealthy sportsman who would undoubtedly look with
condescension upon those wresting a living from their
land, and would almost certainly prove no neighbor in
the local interpretation of that term.
“Rakoczy,” the ranchwoman repeated musingly. Smiling
with more warmth than she had hitherto displayed, she
remarked, “Ancient name, that—aristocratic and honorable.
Hungarian, is it not?”
Shock leaped fleetingly into the tawny eyes raking
her with as much interest as she evinced in their owner. “It is,” the visitor agreed. “Do you know someone of
“No. I read history, for pleasure. Francis II Rakoczy,
who died almost three hundred years ago, I know to be
still revered as a national hero in Hungary. Sit down,
Mr. Rakoczy, please. Excuse me, while I turn off my
stereo.” Waving the guest into a chair, the woman sped
into the office, and silenced the riot of sound, unaware
that the visitor appreciatively traced the contours
of the enticingly round rear rendered the more noticeable
by the snug fit of the black knit pants and matching
Smiling on the phenomenon she deemed worthy of minute
study, the hostess inquired, “Would you care for coffee?”
“If it’s no trouble. I far prefer that you call me
Serenely regarding the purchaser of the neighboring
ranch, Mercedes waited for this guest able to pay the
exorbitant price demanded by the former owner to state
his business. She noted the sinuous grace with which
the newcomer moved. The ease with which he settled into
the most comfortable of her chairs, and sipped the mug
of steaming coffee taken black, devoid of sugar, likewise
impinged on her consciousness. No whit insensible to
the raw masculine appeal the stranger radiated without
seeming to do so knowingly, she waited for him to explain
his reason for dropping in at three o’clock on a foggy
“I’m told that you hire your sons-in-law to irrigate
your land each summer, and harvest your hay,” the new
resident announced. “Might you arrange for them to do
so for me as well, next spring? I’ll need only enough
hay to feed a pair of saddle horses over the winter.
I’ll make whatever arrangement you think fair, and pay
you for setting it up.”
Surprise swiftly metamorphosed into delight at a query
that the ranchwoman knew would be welcomed by her family
members. “The boys will likely agree to do the work
in return for hay and pasture, rather than for cash,”
came the ready reply. “They’ll irrigate, keep your fences
in repair, and harvest your hay, for three-quarters
of the hay crop and your permission to graze their cows
on your meadows from the time they finish stacking the
hay until the first deep snowfall. No need exists for
you to pay me. I’m happy to oblige both my children
and a new neighbor.”
“I thank you. I’d willingly agree to the terms in writing,
if your sons-in-law demand that I sign a contract.”
A slight curl to the lip accompanied by a flash of
scorn fleetingly visible in eyes of deep green greeted
that offer, but the woman’s disapprobation vanished
as the import of the qualifier registered. Pushing back
an errant strand of long auburn hair untouched as yet
by gray, she offered an explanation geared to account
for her initial reaction.
“Old-timers in this country routinely clinch deals
with each other on nothing more than a handshake and
their word,” she informed the caller. “They keep that
word, even if the market price of hay or calves triples
on the day following their making the deal. We realize,
however, that outsiders used to modern business practice
view that custom as evidence of an incredible naiveté,
even though we’ve grown exceedingly wary of conforming
to local custom when dealing with newcomers. I’ll draw
up a contract on my computer, Mr. Rakoczy.”
Well! the visitor silently exclaimed, his admiration
for the widow taking a quantum leap. “Julian, Mercedes.
You mistook my meaning. I own to being an outsider—expect
to be regarded with suspicion until I prove myself trustworthy.
I trust you, given the regard in which your neighbors
hold you. I’ve no means of proving to you that no man
of my lineage ever broke his word, but if you and your
family members will take that word, I’ll keep it, and
gladly dispense with a contract.”
Meeting squarely the eyes impaling hers, the woman
possessing more than the usual share of feminine intuition
judged the claim valid. Even as she wondered whether
this man descended from an obscure, illegitimate branch
of a family that as far as she knew, had died out, she
All trace of that momentary ire erased from face and
voice, she held out her hand to the guest shocked to
encounter a grip as strong as the average man’s. “I’ve
no doubt but that both boys will be delighted, but I’ll
phone them,” she vouchsafed. “Of course, it’s my girls
who’ll move back here in relays to do the irrigating,
but I guarantee their competence. Let me pour you another
His intentness unobserved by the woman placing the
calls from the adjoining office, Julian studied her
aspect minutely. Her voice came clearly through the
door she left wide open. While automatically noting
that both sets of relatives lived over seventy miles
away, the visitor admired the vibrancy of the ageless
face visible at this juncture in three-quarters profile.
When in repose, that rather elongated oval countenance
reminded him forcibly of a painting by Modigliani, but
when animated, it mirrored the owner’s thoughts with
No less gifted with intuition than the object of his
scrutiny, the fascinated beholder divined that appealing
verve to constitute evidence of a vitality unquenched
by sorrow, loss, or a life lived—by choice? Julian wondered—in
isolation. Unerringly judging the widow intelligent,
knowing her to possess a sterling reputation for fair
dealing and efficient management of her own property,
he experienced no qualm at having hired her relatives
without ever having met them, despite the variance between
her appearance and her reputation.
Sardonically, the man shedding an unwarranted preconception
upbraided his alter self for assuming that a middle-aged
ranch-woman must of necessity turn out to be a weather-beaten,
laconic provincial type notable for a body thickened
from child-bearing, and hands roughened by hard labor.
Expecting to meet a draft animal, he owned himself most
pleasantly surprised to encounter a thoroughbred.
Over new mugs of fragrant coffee the delicate flavor
of which further elevated the hostess in the regard
of the visitor, the new associates chatted easily, each
still taking the measure of the other. Some indefinable
aspect of the man’s body-language: the tigerish suppleness
he displayed with every movement, or the swift but comprehensive
survey of his surroundings which the keen observer judged
habitual to him, and which perhaps developed as a defense
mechanism—against a physical attack? the hostess wondered,
intrigued—or the way he sat, only superficially relaxed,
seemingly ready to move swiftly if the need arose, set
off warning bells. Some subtle quality or combination
thereof conferred on the stranger an aura of danger,
in the mind of the woman whose acquaintance included
a number of men who, when direly provoked, were indeed
The talk turned to the imminence of Election Day, and
touched on a few facets of the national news that Mercedes
declared to be given less emphasis by the media than
those topics deserved.
Her remark prompted the guest to remark sardonically, “Amazing, how what’s reported as news these days blends
so seamlessly with the sphere of popular entertainment.
Ominous development, I regard that.”
“Ahhh…you’ve noticed. The fact that people lead such
impoverished mental lives at this point in our history
assures that they inevitably turn outwards for stimulation.
Too often they strive to experience a vicarious thrill
from devouring alarmingly detailed accounts of the tawdry
private affairs of celebrities they’d likely loathe
if they ever got to know them well.”
The musical laugh evoked by that vigorous rejoinder—a
response appreciative rather than derisive—warmed the
hearer. “I’ll agree, a rich mental life’s a rarity in
this age of gladiator entertainments, slavish devotion
to political correctness, and unrelenting promotion
of self-esteem as far outweighing academic achievement
in social value,” the guest drawled, certain now that
this woman lived a solitary life by choice rather than
Fired by conviction, the hostess proceeded to make
a solid case for the premise that the United States
Government as defined by the Constitution at times seemed
doomed to crumble from within, rather than be conquered
from without. Two well-read, fiercely independent-minded
analysts compared views on what course of events might
produce so disastrous a consequence, and what sort of
political system might replace that venerable institution
the far distant future.
Mercedes regretfully predicted that the Republic would
first degenerate into a populist democracy—chaotic rule
by the majority, rather than orderly governance by elected
representatives—which might well be followed by the
imposition of martial law: a step rendered necessary
by violence occurring when the gulf yawning between
the rich and the poor came to be regarded by the latter
as intolerable. “And at that point, a dictatorship would
inevitably result,” she added glumly.
Julian disagreed. Pointing out that in some important
but little-noticed aspects, rule by non-territorial
corporation now actually existed world-wide, he contended
that a further shift in power to such entities might
eventually emasculate territorial governments used to
acting as arbiters in international disputes—even the
one now classed as the lone superpower.
“Some experts think that a single world government
will eventually come into being,” he observed thoughtfully.
“I doubt that it will, but even if it does, that’ll
be a passing phase. The bigger an organization gets,
the less efficient it becomes. Balkanization will inevitably
“The best that could be hoped for at that point, would
be world-rule by an oligarchy of powerful, intelligent,
wealthy individuals bent on preserving a delicate balance
between their own interests and the basic needs of the
self-disenfranchised hordes they manipulate, rather
than with rampant exploitation of human and natural
resources by corporate leaders turned world rulers:
men whose prime characteristic’s greed.”
“We Americans seem bent on following an effective prescription
for destroying the Republic,” the woman agreed bleakly.
“We actively deprive many of our youth of a good grounding
in world history, familiarity with the classics, scientific
literacy, and rigorous training in logical thinking.
At the same time, we immerse them unceasingly in a visual
wasteland. Those tactics I see as guaranteed to destroy
our children’s ability to pursue worthy, ambitious,
long-term goals with unflagging tenacity,” the poet
mourned, smiling at this man whose philosophy seemed
to parallel hers.
Launched into analyzing in detail the underlying causes
of modern educational inadequacy, the conversationalists
failed to notice the onset of darkness. Belatedly realizing
that four hours just sped away without his noticing
their flight, Julian smiled quizzically into the eyes
of the woman herself astonished by the lateness of the
hour. “Could I persuade you to dine with me?” he coaxed.
“At my home? I assure you that my cooking will equal
if not surpass that of the chefs in the local restaurants.”
A rippling laugh fell on his ears like the upbeat song
of the meadowlark. “No great claim to fame, that boast,”
came the swift retort. “I’ll expect better than a mechanically
tenderized chicken-fried steak. May I bring something
to drink? I’ve a case of imported lager—a delicious
brew. I prefer beer to whisky.”
Taken aback, the connoisseur of fine wines nonetheless
succeeded in hiding his dismay. “By all means, bring
what you enjoy imbibing,” he invited, belatedly recalling
that on his one and only visit to the local bar in the
company of a chance-met neighbor, he had noticed that
most of the patrons drank beer. Tartly reminding himself
not to hurl accusations of provincialism at people who
in some ways struck him as highly sophisticated, he
smiled warmly at the woman emerging from her kitchen
bearing a basket containing six long-necked bottles
separated by the folds of a towel.
“These come in a crate, rather than paper cartons,” she informed him blithely.
Good sign, the issuer of the invitation silently conceded.
“If you’d like, I’ll also bring exotic greens from
my cool greenhouse, and a bottle of my special home-made
“By all means. But please—let me drive you back with
me. I’ll bring you home.”
Aware that in acceding, she agreed to place herself
in a situation that a city-bred woman would likely avoid
as potentially dangerous, the self-reliant native shrugged,
her faith in her judgment of people far stronger than
the momentary doubt assailing her. Having conceived
an instant liking for this man, she reminded herself
that by purchasing property in the area he placed himself
on probation, as it were. He must know that in so small
a community his actions will be monitored by a closely-knit
group of neighborly folk who unfailingly look out for
each other, she surmised shrewdly.
Reassured further by her discovery that the cosmopolite
clad in designer clothing drove a mud-splattered pickup
truck showing signs of hard use despite the lateness
of its year, Mercedes banished from mind a momentary
pang of fear. Reflecting that the stranger lived only
two miles from her home as the crow flies, and that
she customarily jogged twice that distance daily simply
for exercise, she resolved to walk home if he made threatening
Widow, Julian mused as he drove. Odd coincidence, that.
Might this chance meeting with a uniquely appealing
woman lead to an outcome as satisfying to me as Michael’s
union’s proving for him? If Fortune recently favored
my reclusive brother so lavishly, might that fickle
dame heap coals of fire on my head, just to keep the
scales balanced? My luck ran out early that other time…
Pain swirled out of a compartment normally kept locked,
deep within the man’s soul.
Curious to see the house extensively renovated by contractors
hired out of the county, the passenger noted when the
vehicle drew up before the door that the exterior remained
for the most part unchanged. A rather rambling addition
conformed to the rustic appearance of the half-century-old,
one-storied, steeply roofed house built not of logs,
as was customary in this region, but of stone: water-polished
rocks which once lay in the bed of the river running
through the property. The newer portion blends quite
nicely with the old structure, she acknowledged, glad
to see the historical integrity of the original preserved.
Discovering the interior to be furnished with an eye
for comfort rather than elegance, the guest yet remained
half convinced that this cultured, worldly, and perhaps
potentially dangerous acquaintance might opt for elaborately
formal dining. Relief washed through her when he invited
her to sit at the table in the combination dining-kitchen
area, and create a salad from the greens picked fresh
a short time earlier.
In sprightly fashion, the guest discussed the special
challenges posed by gardening at high altitude, while
her host set two tender T-bone steaks broiling, and
potatoes baking in the microwave. When nothing remained
to be done other than keeping a wary eye on the meat,
he inquired, “Shall we sample your brew?”
Watching as his guest poured the lager down the side
of each tall glass so as to minimize the size of the
head, Julian admired her poise. She’s so engagingly
at ease in the company of a stranger, he reflected contentedly.
Raising the glass to his lips, he sipped, delighted
to discover the rich, full-bodied taste only achieved
through proper aging.
“I’ll agree, American beers brewed for mass consumption
go from vat to customer in a disgracefully short time,
and suffer thereby, taste-wise,” Mercedes observed slyly,
accurately guessing the man’s thought.
Rueful laughter rewarded that sally. “I’m not an habitual
beer-drinker,” the host admitted. “But this is superb.”
Suspecting the stranger’s taste in liquor to be as
discriminating as was his choice of clothing, Mercedes
awarded him points for exhibiting not the slightest
hint of condescension. He’s a gentleman, she commended
him silently as her liking for him deepened.
Buoyed by the brew, delighted by the pleasure deriving
from this man’s company, Mercedes enjoyed the leisurely
dinner, reveling in the flow of talk which continued
before a fire newly-built in the handsome, glass-fronted
wood stove forming the dominant feature of the living
Expounding on certain remarks made by the host regarding
the conditions that rendered venturing alone into the
local wilderness areas dangerous for those lacking any
knowledge of the high country, the guest drew shrewd,
insightful, verbal portraits of her great-grandfather,
a mountain man who personified the courage, hardiness,
and self-reliance of that singular breed; her grandfather,
a far-seeing pioneer who was among the first to take
up land in the local area; and her father, a stockman/rancher
whose generosity, largeness of spirit, and professional
competence old-timers still held in reverence twenty
years after his death.
Struck by her companion’s obvious reluctance to reveal
the most fundamental information about himself or his
family, Mercedes likewise noted that when the conversation
chanced to turn on some point that cried out for an
illustration from personal experience, he smoothly evaded
That observation nowise disturbed her. Entranced at
encountering a kindred spirit able and willing to discuss
a wealth of topics other than local concerns, the guest
deliberately refrained from prying into the host’s background.
Possessed of an ingrained antipathy to indulging in
gossip about friends, relatives, or even figures in
the national limelight, she accepted his unaccountable
reticence as readily as she did the idiosyncrasies of
a few local personalities who most definitely qualified
Driven by need, the visitor excused herself. Upon returning
from the small lavatory adjoining the living area, she
found that Julian must also have utilized a bathroom.
Standing before the fire blazing behind the glass, she
basked in the warmth, conscious of the sharp tattoo
of wind-driven rain on the roof.
No sound of footstep on plush carpet warned her of
her host’s reappearance. Two arms slid around her from
behind, to draw her against a lithe, hard body. Lips
brushed her ear, before deft hands turned her, and strong
arms held her in a grip she instinctively resisted.
Finding her strength no match for that of the man amusedly
assessing her reaction rather than projecting hot lust,
she relaxed. Fearlessly prepared to resist with calm,
well-reasoned verbal arguments, should that prove necessary,
she yet reacted on a subliminal level to close physical
contact with a potential lover who projected potent
Shifting her body slightly, Julian closed his mouth
over hers. A questing tongue insinuated itself between
lips which opened readily. Held firmly immobile, Mercedes
impulsively yielded to the inquisitive organ that teased,
rather than intruding aggressively. Without conscious
volition, she melted against the man welcoming that
sign of surrender.
No swift heightening of his passion resulted. Having
freed the lips of the woman regarding him with manifest
wariness, he smiled, and drew her against his chest
in a gesture more suggestive of protectiveness than
any intent to take her by force. “I know,” he murmured.
“I’m a stranger to you, you’re alone with me, and none
of your friends know where you are.” On beholding the
wariness steeply escalate, he added equably, “But you’re
my guest, Mercedes. I’ve no wish to worry you, much
less to harm you. Will you believe that?”
Unable to pinpoint the subtle cues that prompted her
to react as she now did, the woman still held in an
embrace from which she knew she could not break loose,
frowned in faint perplexity as she replied, “Yes…I do.”
Shifting his grip, Julian lifted the tall, strong,
athletic body of his guest, and carried her to the couch.
Settling himself comfortably with his burden still clasped
against his chest, the host brushed his lips over the
shining fall of ruddy hair spilling in disarray from
a part on the left side. Recalling that at no time during
the course of the day had this woman projected the slightest
hint that she sought or would welcome any sexual advance,
he savored relief as he felt her relax against him.
At no time since she opened her door to him, he acknowledged,
had any sidelong, arch glance, any drawing close enough
to penetrate his personal space, any seductive smile,
or words, or touch, conveyed invitation. She had come
across until now as purely friendly—wrapped in the armor
of a serene self-possession.
Musingly, the guest conceded that neither motherhood
nor widowhood had sapped her marvelous vitality, or
dulled her intellectual edge. She neither flaunts her
shapeliness, nor strives to mute its effect, he commended
her silently as his hand idly traced the contour of
one round shoulder. She projects not so much innocence,
as a pagan attunement with her own sexuality, and mine—an
amused, tolerant naturalness on the part of a woman
too mature, too appreciative of all the pleasures a
man’s company offers, to rush with unseemly haste towards
the most obvious one.
Even as the man caressing her exulted in his triumph,
Mercedes stiffened as a most unsettling possibility
rose to smite her. “Julian, are you married?” she inquired
A light, amused laugh greeted the query. “That’s the
first personal question you’ve asked me all day,” came
the prompt if evasive reply. “Most women, meeting me
as you did, would have larded the conversation with
probes into my private life, ranging from subtle feelers
to frank inquisitions. Any woman except you. But then,
a charming ranch-woman who listens to Stravinsky’s Rite
of Spring as she works at her computer, and shares refreshingly
original opinions with a stranger in so beguiling a
manner, stands in a class by herself.”
No whit sidetracked, Mercedes observed a shade tartly, “You haven’t answered my one question.”
The amusement fled the striking face. Meeting squarely
the almost accusatory glance leveled at him, Julian
asserted calmly, “No. I’ve never been married.”
Even as conviction blended with relief in the mind
of the observer unable to pinpoint the cues which convinced
her that this enigmatic new acquaintance spoke the truth,
new fears surfaced. What kind of women taught him what
he knows? What kind of life has this man led…and where?
As if to prevent utterance of any new protest, Julian
shifted both his own body, and that of the guest who
now found herself half reclining on the couch, her breast
pressed against a chest the muscularity of which grew
apparent to her. Grown exquisitely aware of a quickening
in her loins, of the faint, musky scent of expensive
shaving lotion, of her helplessness against this man’s
strength, of the darkening of the amber-flecked eyes
raking her appraisingly, Mercedes sought to decide how
best to react should he attempt to undress her.
To her surprise, no intrusion of a hand impudently
sliding beneath her casual knit top occurred. Lips closed
once again over hers, teasingly, and then determinedly.
The woman responding to the intimate joining of two
moist, warm mouths found herself crushed against their
owner as he enfolded her tongue, and seemingly sought
to ingest it. Swiftly aroused on an elemental level
to fierce, hot need, the widow stiffened for a millisecond
before flowing against the man holding her, like water
pouring over worn, smooth bedrock.
Julian sensed the change. Resolved to take his time,
he pulled on the bow of her upper lip with his own,
as he freed her tongue. Smiling into green eyes gone
soft and unfocused with pleasure, he shifted their owner
so that her head rested against his shoulder. His voice
an aural caress, he murmured, “I feel as if I’ve known
you for months, instead of hours. We fit each other
supremely well, Mercedes. Stay the night, mm? Let me
take you to bed?”
Taken sharply aback by that full frontal attack, the
recipient of the request struggled against arms that
allowed her to sit upright. “Stay the night!” she gasped.
“I don’t know anything about you—who you are, where
you’re from, or what you do for a living!” Regaining
her aplomb, she moderated her tone, adding as if to
clinch her argument, “And I get the distinct feeling
that you’re as dangerous as you are fascinating!”
A hearty laugh evocative of delight greeted that double-edged
assertion. The man’s tawny eyes, manifestly amused,
watched his guest impatiently thrust an unruly mass
of coppery hair back from a flushed face, the better
to meet his glance.
“Danger provides spice to any endeavor, wouldn’t you
agree?” he asked, his tone lightly mocking. Cocking
his head, he observed, “I told you who I am. Where I’m
from isn’t important, and at this point in my life,
I don’t need to earn a living. But those questions aren’t
the ones that most concern you, Mercedes. You’re weighing
the odds of your contracting a sexually transmitted
disease, or of my turning brutal—perhaps even murderous.
“They’re valid concerns,” came the level reply.
“I agree. As valid as was your lone personal question.
It so happens that I can allay your most fundamental
fear, having recently received the results of the physical
my need to renew my pilot’s license necessitated. I
expanded the scope of the exam beyond the requirement,
for a reason wholly separate from any anxiety paralleling
that nagging right now at you. As for your second worry—you
accepted my word once today. I give you my word on this
new score: I’ll work at giving you pleasure. I’ll cause
you no bodily harm—now or ever. I keep my word, Mercedes.”
That last impassioned assertion carried total conviction.
Her mind painfully divided, the woman impulsively thrust
her arms around the man who had loosened his grip. “I
believe you,” she acknowledged bleakly. “But, Julian…I…”
Grown aware of lips softly caressing her cheek, she
heard the man clasping her murmur, “I know. You harbor
an intense loyalty to your late husband, even though
you’re plagued by an equally intense need for the physical
intimacy you shared with him. I understand, Mercedes.
“You’ve handled your loss by filling your days with
productive work, and drawn on your ample inner resources
to fortify yourself against depression and loneliness.
It may be that owing to the richness of your mental
life, you’ve lived too much of each day, lately, out
of touch with reality. Why not let me counteract that
Shocked to hear that concise statement of the unsettling
thought that had impinged on her mind earlier today,
the widow marveled at the accuracy of the man’s analysis.
All at once, her defenses crumbled into the moat. “You
need what I can give you,” came the melodic, compellingly
persuasive voice in her ear. “Say yes, Mercedes.” Julian’s
mouth again closed over hers gently, but insistently.
When he freed hers, he urged softly but forcefully,
“Yes,” the woman breathed, astonished by the potency
of her desire for this stranger. “Yes!”
Borne in strong arms across the spacious expanse of
the living room, Mercedes expected to be taken to bed.
When her lover set her on her feet in what she saw to
be an office, he reached into a cubbyhole in a handsome,
old-fashioned desk of light oak, and handed her a folded
set of papers.
Jolted out of a befogged state of mental acquiescence
to seduction, the guest scanned the page. The line negating
her deepest fear leaped out at her. Handing back the
document without perusing it further, she whispered
regretfully, “I can’t prove that I’m no threat to a
Lifting her, Julian smiled into distressed green eyes. “You enjoyed a monogamous relationship for two decades
at least, did you not? You were faithful to your husband,
“Yes! And he to me!”
“Have you taken a lover since his passing?”
Intuitively certain that this woman spoke the truth,
Julian gained further certainty as he recalled that
the neighbor who provided so glowing an account of Mercedes’
competence had candidly praised her devotion to her
late husband, and her spouse’s abiding love for her.
“Infidelity’s all too common here,” the rancher had
commented sadly. “In so small a community, it’s almost
impossible to keep an affair secret. But then, the opposite
is also true: when a couple models a truly happy marriage,
their success gets widely noticed. We all felt a dreadful
sense of loss that paralleled Mercedes’ grief.”
The combination of intuitive conclusion and that recollection
of the conversation combined to overcome a deeply ingrained
sense of self-protection. “I believe you,” Julian stated
firmly. “I see no cause for worry—or for any need to
employ onerous preventative measures…mmm?” Even as he
spoke, he strode purposefully into the bedroom adjoining
Standing facing him a few seconds later in a warm,
spacious chamber featuring a king-sized bed lacking
any coverlet—a bed made up only with a creamy silken
contoured sheet and an array of pillows—Mercedes observed
that the bed-frame featured an ornate headboard but
no footboard, unless one considered the two handsome
matching chests placed with their backs against the
mattress, and a two-foot-wide space between them, to
function as such. Tearing her eyes from the matching
bureau, nightstands and chiffonier, she noted despite
the haze of emotion clouding her awareness, the deftness
with which her lover undressed her.
Heart hammering, loins quivering with need, the widow
experienced a familiar, poignant anxiety: fear she knew
this stranger would not sense, as shrewdly discerning
as he was. When she stood naked, aroused, her hair thrust
back from a face mirroring inner turmoil which Julian
intuitively divined nowise arose from embarrassment
at finding her nude figure raked by appraising eyes,
she set about undressing him, displaying a facility
for the chore which matched his.
When he, too, stood naked, his ample endowment erect,
hard, Mercedes cast no glance in that direction. Eyes
riveted to his torso, she stared wide-eyed at two prominent
scars: a long gash disfiguring his left side, and a
puckered round indentation in his left forearm which
she saw to be matched with a corresponding wider depression
on the opposite side of the limb. Gunshot? she conjectured
in disbelief. Or just some nasty puncture wound?
Unable to decide, she wrenched her eyes from his arm
to his face. She saw that he stood tautly still, head
cocked, awaiting her reaction. Disdaining to pry, she
silently slipped her arms around him, turning up a countenance
on which he read potent desire inextricably blended
As moved by her reaction as he was aroused, he swept
her up, laid her atop the bed, and disposed her body
so that she lay with her back arched over his disfigured
left forearm. His mouth closed over her right nipple.
From that moment, all uneasiness regarding the scars
fled her consciousness.
Exquisitely aware now of the rigidity of the cock pressing
against her thigh, the woman whose nipples a moist tongue
swiftly teased into growing rock-hard, marveled that
her patently aroused partner managed to convey so comforting
a sense of being in no hurry. Sliding lower, he closed
his mouth over her quivering clit even as his fingers
explored the cunt dribbling moisture. Held now by an
arm thrust under the small of her back, unable to reach
the turgid tool she would have caressed if that were
possible, she gave herself up to pleasure so intense
that it bordered pain.
Circling the tiny tip of her engorged organ of pleasure,
her lover’s tongue produced indescribably erotic sensations
in that exquisitely sensitive site. Closing his mouth
over her erect little ornament, he sucked as if to tear
the tiny shaft loose from its root. Without conscious
volition, Mercedes moaned, even as long fingers probed
her slippery inner space, exploring, massaging, stimulating
a spot extraordinarily responsive.
Welcoming the quickening, the gathering that she had
feared might fail to materialize, she actively sought
to yield to it. To her dismay, the mere act of dwelling
on her wish aborted her nascent rise towards fulfillment.
Frustrated, she ceased arching against the hands and
mouth conferring such a wealth of pleasure.
Anger flared: rage at uncaring fate, not so much for
denying her relief twice in so short a time, but for
rendering her so prone to failure in that regard. Resignedly,
she awaited her partner’s entry, resolved to offer him
what recompense for his efforts that she could.
Lifting his head, Julian withdrew his fingers. In a
fluid movement, he changed position so as to lie beside
the woman whose chest still heaved. Thrusting an arm
under her shoulders, he lifted her, and smiled into
eyes striving to project serenity while unable to conceal
a flash of disappointment. “Hot and wet, you are,” he
murmured. “But nervous—a bit ambivalent, still, about
consenting to let me take you to bed. You feel obligated
to confer pleasure on me, and I’ve not let you. You’re
worried that I’ll grow impatient, and that’s caused
Closing his mouth over that from which a gasp of astonishment
issued, Julian again engaged in intimate, erotic oral
stimulation, until the body clasped in his arms congealed
against him. When at length he desisted, he commanded, “You’re to put everything out of your mind but the pleasure
I offer you—hear? Time is of no concern. You’re not
to think of my need—only of your own. Mine will be satisfied
when yours is.”
Amazement transmuted into nascent hope. His patience
seeming to the woman inexhaustible, the stranger resumed
his prior manipulations. Again, he produced the shivers
and quivers signifying the onset of culmination. Ceasing
his efforts, he lifted his supine partner so that her
buttocks reposed on the foot of the bed, and the legs
he spread wide each rested on the cushioned top of a
Standing between his partner’s outthrust thighs, Julian
positioned two plump pillows beneath the ass-cheeks
he raised. Standing, he slid his rigid prick deeply
within the cunt awash in wetness. His thrusts, slow,
rhythmic, sensuous, evoked exquisite sensations in the
feminine depth of the woman unflustered by any sense
that her lover’s climax grew imminent. Bliss mingled
with relief as her consciousness narrowed to focus solely
on her own pleasure.
At length, her lover desisted. Having withdrawn, he
again stimulated his partner’s stiff clit with a delicate,
evocative touch of a finger. Soft exhalations of breath
accompanied little incoherent cries that slid past parted
lips to tickle Julian’s ears.
Even as desire surged in the object of his attentions,
the adept at erotic art conveyed no urgency: no hot,
fierce need to ejaculate. Observing his partner’s nut-hard
nipples, her rapt expression, her rapid respirations,
he grew satisfied that she lay close to climax. Driving
into her with determined force, he worked her upraised
loins by employing subtle variations in the direction
in which he thrust within her, delighted to find that
she knew how to squeeze her sphincter muscles to confer
a most delicious if illusory sense of sucking his tool
deeper within her cunt.
Her consciousness bedimmed, Mercedes lost all cognizance
of the passage of time. The unwonted posture—up-rearing
ass and outthrust thighs accompanied by full exposure
of her bare breasts to the eyes of the man driving his
rock-hard cock into her—produced a voluntary abdication
of all control over her body. Mental defenses unconsciously,
habitually maintained, suddenly disintegrated.
In a moment of ecstasy surreally stretched into stasis,
the woman joyfully surrendering her will to this virile,
wondrously skilled lover grew dimly aware of the accelerated
pulse-rate manifesting itself in a sustained, hard throbbing
deep in her throat. The heat flooding her loins spread
as her inner space constricted around the rigid organ
relentlessly targeting the nerve centers triggering
a shuddering ascent to fulfillment. A wild spate of
contractions accompanied by a white heat of release
drove a low, gasping cry out of the woman patently astonished
by the outcome of the encounter.
That sound coincided with the groan wrenched from the
lover relaxing the rigorous control he had maintained
over his steadily mounting need to achieve culmination.
A final hard thrust, followed by prolonged pressure
of a powerful pelvis against that of the woman he penetrated,
accompanied the staccato spurting of his juice.
For a few moments he savored his rush, before lifting
Mercedes bodily, and disposing her limp body so that
her legs now rested on the mattress. Himself in the
throes of near-ecstasy, Julian collapsed on her slack
frame, and pillowed his cheek on her breast.
Unaware of anything but her own bliss, Mercedes lay
still, half in trance. She remained so when her partner
eventually slid off her, stirring no whit when he gathered
her into his arms, and held her as she slid into sleep.