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In an era of rapid change during which knowledge and technology increases in staggering proportions, we know more about travel to the moon, the possibilities for stored memory in amino acids or of ecology than about human relationships; especially, marital relationships and the function of sexuality in and out of marriage are just now coming in for their share of scientific research.

Sociologists, psychologists and psychiatrists are becoming aware that marriage is also in a state of change. Profound changes in marriage also means change in the American family. The family, as it was known, traditionally, had roots in the soil, the small town or village, and was an extended family, consisting of grandparents, aunts, uncles and the proverbial cousins by the dozens, but American mobility has changed all of that. Family units more often, now, consist of a man and a woman and their children, if there are children. It is interesting to note, that in spite of what is considered a population explosion the birth rate has declined, in the United States from 30.1 births per thousand in 1910 to 17.7 births per thousand in 1969.

Chapter One

The accident had happened in a crazy way. Maybe, all accidents happen that way. They don't need to happen; it just seems like everything is there, then somebody does something stupid. All the parts fall into place. The accident occurs, and the unfortunate, stupid bastard ends up in the hospital.

John Wright lay in the hospital bed, a body cast constricting his torso from hips to chest, and tried to fit all the parts together leading up to his accident. He was not quite sure how it all had happened.

In his position as Assistant Production Manager, he had given the order to pull that malfunctioning high-speed router off the line, to be replaced by a newer model slated to arrive the following morning. He hadn't needed to be down there on the floor just then, but he wanted to see the job done properly. He knew the section foreman, Steve Matulich, could handle the job . . . so why in hell was he there? Management personnel weren't supposed to be involved in such activities, but the last time something had gone wrong, Royce had practically held him personally responsible. He told himself it was because he had wanted to do a good job; however, that gnawing fear of being called into Royce's office, the little man sitting there, behind his oversized desk, a picture of glacial ice, coolly enumerating production-loss figures and assessing the reason for them; all of which seemed to indicate some non-performance

on John's part, had drawn him like a magnet to the vast production floor to oversee, personally, the removal of the machine. It was stupid!

He saw himself, now, for the damned fool he was, but it was too late. It was part of Royce's game, one in which the Production Manager held up numbered hoops for his assistants to jump through, pushing them to the ultimate to find out the limits of their humiliation. Perhaps, he reflected, it was to find out whether they wanted to become a part of his trained seal act, or resign and move on to another plant. He had been determined that Royce would not force his resignation; neither had he wanted to blow horns, by the numbers, while responding to the little man's cues. The upshot was he had ended up down there on the production floor, jumping through Royce's unseen, but very real, psychological hoops. Matulich had been disturbed when John had shown up, but he had tried to hide it. In his mind, people with white collars had no damned business messing around, sticking their noses into his job . . . and he was right.

The mobile crane had backed in and was lifting the router off its foundations; as the crane operator swung the heavy machine around, John saw it would go too far. It was going to arc in toward the turret lathe across the aisle. He envisioned it crashing into that machine, shutting it down for two or three days, and he could already hear Royce ticking off the damages, the production-loss figures and a request for his resignation, all in the same breath and tone of voice. Sometimes, John thought the man was less than human . . . a computerized robot that spouted figures.

"Stop the damn thing, Steve!" he yelled, grabbing at a projecting part of the router.

"That lathe . . ."

"What the hell . . . !" Steve's concentration was broken from giving the crane operator hand-signalled instructions.

Then, it happened.

The hapless crane man heard John's shout, but couldn't see him. Steve's sudden stricken glance at John, as he saw the Assistant Production Manager grab hold of the machine, spelled danger to the operator. He reacted. The crane was stopped dead, but the twisting arc of the huge router, dangling from the cable, could not be stopped. As it turned, John was thrown off balance, backward, against the half-raised elevator of a parked fork-lift.

That was the stupid part, his grabbing hold of the machine. He had seen potential damage arising where none existed because of being overly cautious, an attitude he would not have had but for Royce.

John's hard-muscled body, still in good physical condition, smashed into the fork-lift.

He knew, in the instant he hit it, that his back was injured. The instantly

overwhelming pain put him down for the count, and he was only dimly aware of Steve's concerned face bending over him; then he was in the hospital.

A.J. Royce had come to see him. It was business-as-usual. All he wanted was a report from John on how the accident had happened. He had to make out the

insurance and compensation forms. It hadn't taken long. Royce was gone within fifteen minutes, and John had cursed him, roundly, when he realized the man had not inquired how he felt; neither had he expressed any sympathy.

"Yeah . . . he was here . . ." John answered, when Faye asked him about it.

"The bastard was here less than fifteen minutes . . . and didn't even ask how I was getting along!"

Faye's deep blue eyes showed her concern for her husband, but she was puzzled at the deep funk into which he had fallen. He was so full of complaints about Royce, the hospital, his doctor and the discomfort he experienced from the cast, not to mention his grousing about the pains in his back and legs.

She didn't really know how to answer him. "Well. . . that's just the way Mr. Royce is John. You'll just have to take him the way he is."

"I don't want any more of him!" he said vehemently. "Who needs an iceberg? I'm through! Soon as I'm up and around . . . I'm looking for another job!"

Hoping this was only a part of his presently foul attitude, she tried to placate him. He had a good job. There was financial security in it, and she knew his ability and training could carry him far. "Mr. Royce will be retiring . . . and there's the possibility you wouldn't have to work for him very long . . ." she suggested.

"Him . . . retire?" he derided. "He's bolted down to the floor . . . like one of the

machines! He comes with the place!"

Cheerily, she tried to change the subject, telling him about happenings in their

neighborhood. She had been trying, desperately, ever since he had been in the hospital, to present herself to him with a happy face, bringing him cheery cards, bouquets of flowers and messages of sympathy from friends and neighbors. She even contrived to smuggle into the hospital, in a soft drink bottle, some Scotch highballs, in the hope that the alcoholic lift in them would snap him out of his doldrums. Moving her chair in close to his hospital bed, she glanced up to make sure the curtain was drawn separating them from the other person in the two-bed ward, and said, "I love you . . . John.."

Her mouth sought his, giving him her soft lips to kiss, then her tongue probed deep into his mouth, guessingly, for him to nibble and suck. Feeling risqué and naughty, her hand crept under the sheets to lift his hospital gown and find the softly reclining length of his cock. She fondled it, lovingly, in an attempt to taunt it into turgid, alert erectness, but it lay limp, almost lifeless, in her teasing hand. She didn't know what made her do it. John had been injured almost ten days before . . . and she hadn't realized how much she missed their sex-play. How much more he must miss it! This had been her thought: She would use her hand to give him some sexual satisfaction, a release of tension. Perhaps, that's what he needed to bring him back to his old self. It was the least she could do for him!

He twisted his head away, after a few moments. "I love you . . too, Honey. . . but you might as well stop trying to get me hard! I just can't seem to raise it . . . any more! I haven't had a hard-on since I've been in this damned hospital!"

Reluctantly, disappointedly, she released his unresponding penis and whispered, "I ... just thought . . . maybe I could do something for you . . ."

"Yeah . . . I understand, and I appreciate your thinking about it," he said, huskily. "But. . . it's no use! I think the injury to my back must've done something else to me, too!

Some nerve injury, maybe . . . that controls erections . . ." He turned his head away from her, unable to continue.

Faye was overwhelmed with tender feelings of love and concern; she put her arms around him, as best she could, because of the bulky body cast, and kissed him on the cheek. Tears glistened in her eyes, as she said, fervently, "It'll be . . . all right, John . . . just as soon as you can be home with me! You just wait and see . . . you'll be scaring me half to death with it . . . chasing me all over the place . . . to make love to me!"

"Maybe . . ." he said, mournfully, "we'll just have to wait and see . . ."

"It's just temporary! Your body's using all its energy to heal you up . . . and I don't think you need to . . . to worry about it! Anyway . . . you haven't talked to the doctor about it, yet . . . have you?"

"No . . . Why should I? He's treating me for my injured back . . . not for a limp prick!" he growled. "Well . . . you should say something to him about it . . . because if you don't I will!" She was determined.

"No, you don't!" he exploded. "I'll tell him when it's time to tell him! How would it look for my wife to be saying, 'Doc . . . my husband can't get a hard-on . . . can you do something about it?'"

"All right . . . I won't say anything, but I want you to promise me you'll do it!" she nagged. Faye had left the hospital, at the end of the visiting period, with a sense of depression she couldn't shake off. She knew it was because John felt so intensely about his temporary impotence; his foreboding attitude toward it had infected her, and she was, by nature, usually optimistic, always looking on the sunny side of things. She didn't know how she could help him, now; she had agreed not to say anything to Doctor Bender in John's behalf. His vehement outburst when she had said she would speak to the Doctor, if John didn't, made her think her husband had already built up a great deal of tension in himself because of it. He felt threatened . . . touchy.

She could understand that, she thought; after all, his very manhood was involved. A man's ability to raise an erect penis had to be present . . . or there was no penetration. There was nothing! How tragic that would be for a virile man . . . a man like John . . . to be stricken with impotency. . . permanently!

She refused to believe it could possibly be permanent . . . with John. He had been a virile man . . . almost too much so! He had been almost too much for her . . . at first!

Getting into John's car, she drove along the streets, until she gained the freeway, her memories of the three short years of their married life flooding back to her, as she headed toward home, a home without John . . . and she felt the acute loneliness of it.

Back and back, in memory, her mind burrowed, until she was remembering how it had been with them, at first, when they were newlywed. It had been a time of joy . . . and pain.

Chapter Two

It was three days after their marriage. They had eloped to Las Vegas. Now, they were headed back to Los Angeles. John had driven the last fifty miles in almost total silence, punishing the Porsche, without mercy, as he blazed down the freeway. His face was set in an unsmiling mask, his jaw jutting out, defiantly, his keen eyes raking the multi-laned highway, judging distances and speeds with practiced and aggressive arrogance.

Deep in the recesses of his mind, he knew that everything would be all right, but at the thinking, conscious level, his brain whirled, constructing defensive arguments; rebuttals designed to convince his uncle that he was, indeed, capable of making some decisions for himself, especially in making the selection of his own wife. The old bastard couldn't run his life, forever!

The young engineer looked over at her. She sat, calmly, watching the traffic as he drove, her deep blue eyes cool, complacent and unafraid, the speed, somehow almost hypnotic but at the same time, exhilarating. Faye caught his sidelong glance and turned to look at him. He had turned his head, again, however, and was looking ahead through the windshield. Her eyes drifted over the handsome profile of his face, seeing the strong chin, long, straight nose, broad forehead and the slightly pouting lips that gave him that certain, appealing, little-boy look, especially when a lock of his unruly, curly black hair fell down over one eye. She smiled, now, as she saw him toss his head and, impatiently, brush his hand across his forehead in a futile attempt to control the recalcitrant curl. Her tinkling laugh caused him to turn, questioningly, toward her, again. "Something strike you funny?" he asked.

"Yes . . . the way you've been fighting that lock of hair all day . . . We'll have to get you to a barber."

A smile crinkled his face. "So! You're trying to change me, already . . . and we've only been married three days!"

Knitting her brow, she calculated, rapidly, after consulting her watch. "For your

information, Mr. Wright . . . we've been married exactly sixty-eight hours and twenty three minutes!" she laughed. "It's not quite three days, yet." Then, seriously,". . . And, you haven't said one word to me for the last hour! I'm beginning to feel neglected!"

"I've just been thinking is all . . ."

"You mean . . . about what to say . . . how to . . . tell them . . .?"

"Yeah . . . and I still don't know what I'm going to say. It'll be touch-and-go . . .

especially with Uncle Morris," he said.

"Is he really . . . that hard to get along with?" Faye queried, remembering that all she knew about the man was what John had told her.

"Well, let's say that he can be pretty ornery and when he's really angry, he's a fire-breathing dragon!"

"Do you think he'll be angry . . . about us, John?" she asked. Her voice trembled, tension beginning to build in her. John's answer was candid. "Hell be mad as hell!" The freeway traffic, again, absorbed his interest. He turned away from her, his jaw set, rigidly, worriedly. Faye watched as he expertly passed a fast, high-performance sports car, the driver of which had churned up beside them, challengingly, the spitting roar of the car's engine loud in their ears, as John tromped hard on the accelerator and showed the Porsche's tail to the couple in the other car. His quick grin, as he picked them up in the rear-view mirror, was a boyish exultation of self in an easy victory. "That'll show them something!"

Yes! She thought about it. John's always showing somebody something! She asked herself what it proved for him. It was like the show-off stunts of a little boy . . . only John was a grown man, still feeling the need to show-off. Was their elopement to Las Vegas just another of the same sort of thing? She wondered, seriously, about it; running away to get married, against his mother's and his uncle's wishes, could be an act of defiance . . . a show-off stunt.

She would have been willing to wait to have a regular wedding in a church . . . begin their married life in a conventional manner, but now, she knew, they would be walking into a row with them, the first thing . . . only three days after their hasty marriage. With unusual fervor, she hoped she would be able to say the right words to John's uncle. John portrayed him as a testy, difficult man, yet he had raised John, paid for his engineering education, at a good school, had done everything possible to help him; she just couldn't believe that sort of man could be the ogre her husband painted him. Certainly, John knew, when he urged her to elope with him, that the old man would be hurt.

So why had he insisted on their running off? Why? She didn't know the answer . . . yet; of course, she had wanted marriage; to her, marriage was, somehow, the answer to many things, and when she had met John Wright, consented to date him, she had known that when he asked her, her answer would be a positive yes.

She had not expected him to ask her so soon, and the unexpected manner of his asking had been a great surprise for her, which had come only two weeks after their first date. It had been two weeks of fun, activity and surprising turns of event, capped by their going to Las Vegas, where they were married in one of the numerous, commercial wedding chapels.

No . . . Faye hadn't wanted it that way, at all, but she knew, instinctively, that if she had insisted upon the proper procedure: Announcement of engagement, preparation of invitations, arrangement for church wedding, wedding gown; veil, flowers and a reception followed by a honeymoon, her marriage to John would never have taken place.

One might say it was womanly intuition guiding her, but Faye, sometimes wise

beyond her years, saw in the boy-man the impulsiveness, the wildness of rebellion against his uncle . . . a rebellion that, perhaps, he didn't even recognize in himself ... and his need for stability.

John was almost twenty-eight years old. He had lived almost his entire life under the direction of his Uncle Morris, and Faye recognized the unnatural aspects of that kind of life. He should have been on his own, for several years, already. It was her hope, that in their marriage she would be able to provide John with the stability he needed, a stability in which he would be able to find himself . . . his true self. It was the stuff of which romantic dreams are made and dreamed by young brides. Faye was no exception; she knew she could do it, if only her husband were no longer under the direct influence of his uncle. To this end, she wanted them to establish their new home elsewhere than Santa Monica, the city in which he had been born and reared.

She would insist they live out in one of the more pleasant suburbs; commuting on the freeways wasn't all that difficult. Thousands of people did it every day.

She loved John. With her whole heart and soul, she loved him; she had known it from the first date she had had with him. Her recognition of it had been a revelation. Faye had been too sure that no man would ever capture her heart. The deep bitterness in her had been almost buried, in the deep recesses of her mind, and the man beside her, now her husband of three days, had penetrated the weakened defenses, made her come alive, again . . . something she had thought sure would never happen.

The psychic scars on her mind, the slowly healing lacerations of her soul and the deep, empty void in her heart had, somehow, been pushed aside, allowing her to hope, to live, again . . . and to love . . . replacing hate. Hate, she found, can only be destructive; love is generative. It was ever so!

It is one of the minor miracles of youth that tragedies are overcome with a tough resilience, a certain moral fiber and strength of character that one never knew existed in them.

Faye was young. She was just twenty years of age, having passed the all-important milestone from tender 'teens into the magic of the sophisticated twenties and approaching majority.

Beautiful, downtown Burbank, that day, two months ago, when she had descended from the Greyhound bus, had been sunny and warm. She had looked out upon its streets, finding them new, yet there was a hint in them of the old life, something that reminded her of her own home town. Whether it was homesickness or nostalgia, an unspoken wish not to sever herself, completely, from something she had known, she didn't really know, but she walked out of the bus depot into the street, finding herself at home, immediately.

She had almost chosen Burbank, blindly, when she had bought her ticket. Originally, she had wanted to go to Los Angeles, a place where she was sure she could lose herself. The sprawling city, its mass of humanity and its myriad activities offered her the anonymity she sought. It was, in her mind, the perfect place to hide, but on the spur of the moment, she had chosen Burbank. It was smaller, yet near Los Angeles; the deciding factor had been the knowledge that the NBC studios were located there.

Walking out onto the street, she was glad of her wacky decision. She knew that this city, a continent away, offered her, at once, a part of both the old life and the new one she must build for herself. Happily, she rushed back into the bus depot and claimed her three pieces of luggage. She became, on the instant, a citizen of the town named for the plant wizard. She was six weeks past her twentieth birthday, a stranger in a strange town . . . and alone.

Yes, she was a stranger, albeit a beautiful, young and vivacious woman . . . stranger; she didn't stay a stranger for long. She moved fast.

First, she selected a clean and modest room, in a rooming house within walking distance of the downtown district. Secondly, the following day, she groomed herself, donning a demurely conservative suit and putting on her best smile, to apply for work. She returned to her room, in the late afternoon, happy and exhilarated with the prospect of starting work, as a clerk, the following day, in a combination book store and stationers.

Earlier that same afternoon, she had opened a bank account, depositing what was left of the six hundred and thirty three dollars she had withdrawn from the savings account her older brother, Robert, had opened for her. She remembered how painful it had been to make the decision.

It had been mostly her money. She had made deposits in the account, regularly, but she hadn't wanted to take anything that wasn't legally hers.

Finally, she had resolved the problem in her own mind by withdrawing all but the fifty dollars Robert had first deposited. Now, she had her own checking account, for the first time; the figures in her bank book assured her the four hundred and seventy-four dollars were hers to do with as she chose.

Her own place to live, a job, starting tomorrow, and money in the bank gave her a comfortable feeling of independence and self-sufficiency, the very things that Robert had told her, over and over, again, she would never have, as he kept her dependent upon him. The tragedy, she realized, now, was that for too long she had believed him, clinging to him, after they were orphaned. It was a sick situation!

Catapulted into her final act of defiance and self-preservation had proved the lie. She had done exactly what he said she would never do; she had left him . . . packed her bags, withdrew the money, bought a bus ticket and left him.

She should have done it sooner. Robert would never be able to find her, and that was the way she wanted it . . . especially after that horrible night, before she left.

Never! Never would she return to that town or that house! She had been sure of that . . . after Robert, her own brother, had tried to make love to her. He had stripped her clothes from her . . . the memory of his actions, the mad light in his eyes . . . and the hugeness of his fully erect penis that he had tried to shove into her, as she struggled and squealed beneath him, was almost too painful to bear. Finally, she had escaped him, but she would never understand why he tried to do it to her. Of one thing she had been sure: She would never marry! Men! Men were beasts, and she hated them!

She hated them all!

Then, she had met John Wright. She bad been living in Burbank for six weeks. To her, it seemed, already, that she must have lived in the city all her life. She seemed to belong there. That's why she was shocked. John had called her a stranger. She was sure she knew almost everyone who came to the downtown area. It had been during the slack time, in mid-afternoon, that Faye, following her employer's directions, was restocking one of the higher shelves, behind the long counter. She was standing on a ladder reaching high up, her hands full of ledgers she had just price-marked when his voice startled her.

She had not been conscious of his entry.

"When does the special sale start?" he asked, looking up to enjoy the view of

shapely, tapering thighs.

Faye looked back and down at him. She started and lost her balance, momentarily; grasping at the ladder, she dropped the pile of black-bound books, emitting a little cry as they crashed to the floor. "Oh! Darn it!"

His amused eyes continued to look up at her, and she realized, suddenly, that her position on the ladder afforded him an unobstructed view of her legs and thighs . . . probably all the way up to her panties. She gasped and scrambled down from the ladder. He came around the counter, murmuring an apology, and scooped up the fallen account books, smiling down into her eyes as he handed them to her.

"I'll take a dozen!" he said.

"A dozen . . . ledgers . . .?"

"No. . . a dozen just like you!"

Her face reddened, prettily. "Well! . . . Really . . . I'm . . ."

"You're new . . . a stranger to Beautiful Downtown Burbank, aren't you? I've worked around here for two or three years . . . thought I knew most everybody . . ."

"I've only been here a few weeks," she confessed.

"I thought so . . ." he smiled.

Hastily, she added, "But I don't feel like a stranger, here . . . just sort of transplanted."

"Actually, I'm transplanted here only for work," he grinned. "I live in Santa Monica."

Then, an afterthought, "You live with your folks, here . . . ?"

I'm all alone, now! His understanding was quick. "I'm sorry . . ." he said, "I didn't mean to pry . . . By the way, I'm John Wright . . . and . . .?"

"Faye . . . Faye Andrews," she supplied.

Then, he had made his purchase, a package of carbon paper. As he turned to leave, he said, almost offhandedly, "You'll have dinner with me, tonight? I know a nice place out on Foothill . . . not too far . . . ?"

"I'd love to!" She said it without thinking. Afterward, on reflection, she thought she had accepted too quickly, too eagerly, perhaps. It was the last thing she wanted: To be thought too eager . . . and she, certainly, didn't want involvement, at least not yet, for a while.

John picked her up, promptly, at seven o'clock that evening. The atmosphere and decor of the restaurant was excellent, the food and wines outstanding. John acted the perfect gentleman; she the perfect lady. Her side of the conversation, when it drifted to her, was evasive, enigmatic, as she told him as little about herself, as possible.

At her door, he tried to take her into his arms to kiss her. She pushed him gently away, turning to open the front door. "It was a lovely dinner, John . . . but please . . . don't hurry me!" she murmured, softly.

His frown was momentary; he regained his composure, quickly, in the face of her rebuff. "Lunch tomorrow?" he asked.

"No, thank you . . . I have only a half-hour for lunch . . ."

"Dinner . . . tomorrow evening?" He was persistent.

"Sorry . . . Ill be doing my hair!"

May I call you, then . . . ?" he asked, refusing to be put off, completely.

"Yes . . . Good night, John . . . It was a lovely evening," she said, closing the door in his face.

He stared at the closed door for a moment. Damn! What a cool brush-off! . . . Or, is it a come-on . . . playing hard to get?

John kept calling her, until she accepted a dinner-date with him three days later.

In a small, intimate place in Pasadena, they had an excellent meal, and John had drunk four or five martinis, she limiting herself to two. As they drove homeward, he turned off onto a darkened road, pulling the Porsche into a secluded turnout, under a spreading oak tree. Stopping the car and turning out the lights, he reached for her. Faye tried to avoid his avid kiss, but his lips captured hers, holding her tight to him, his tongue searching, trying to penetrate the barrier of her lips and teeth; finally, she struggled free of his embrace.

"John . . . please . . . !" she breathed. "I don't want any . . . involvement . . . like this!"

"Damn it, Faye! You're so desirable . . . I-I want you! I can't keep my hands off of you . . . any longer!" he groaned.

His hand groped and found a luscious, firm breast through her clothing, grasping and clawing, painfully, into the soft, mounding flesh. Both her hands darted to her bosom, trying to protect herself, wincing from the pain. Prying at his stronger hand, she grunted with the effort, terror striking at her as the memory of Robert's attempted rape of her went whirling through her mind. She grasped at words and phrases to say; she even toyed with the idea of jumping from the car and running from him . . . anything to deflect him from his goal. His mouth, once again, captured her full, red lips.

Suddenly, she relaxed, dropped her hands to her lap and twisted her mouth aside. A peal of almost hysterical laughter exploded from her lips, grating into his ear. He drew back in surprise.

"What's so funny . . . all of a sudden?" he queried, puzzled.

"You . . . Me . . . Us!" she gasped, giggling now. "I was just thinking . . . maybe I should be playing it for comedy . . . act the maiden in distress . . . who's about to lose her virginity . . . jump out of the car . . . and walk home . . . or demand honourable intentions from you . . . both of which would be foolish . . . and would mean nothing to you . . . isn't that right?" she gasped out, running her sentences together in a rush of words.

"What the hell . . . ? Talk sense . . . will you?" John growled with exasperation.

"I am talking straight, John! Listen to me!" she chided.

"O.K.! I'm listening . . . !"

". . . Or, I could let you have your way . . . with me . . . once! . . . And that would be that! I'd never let you have me . . . a second time!" She was deadly serious.

". . . But, I-I love you . . . ! I want you . . . !" he mumbled, not really meaning it. It was part of his practiced line.

"Aren't you confusing love with sex?! They're not the same, you know!"

John was thoughtful, for a moment, some reasoning returning to him, belatedly, his passion curbed, momentarily, now.

"Then . . . you wouldn't . . . ?" he began. "No!" she cut in, "To me . . . sex without love would be out of the question! Can you understand that . . .

"Not exactly . . . but I'll try . . ." He hesitated, before going on, ". . . And, I do want to see more of you . . . I couldn't give you up, just like that!" He snapped his fingers.

"Then, take me home . . . now! Please?" Reaching for the ignition key, he started the engine, rammed the transmission into reverse gear and backed around in the small turnout. He regained the road, the little car jumping forward, screamingly, toward the main road, under his torturingly heavy foot on the accelerator. He ground out at her, between clenched teeth, "All right . . . this's your round!"

Faye touched his arm. "John . . . why don't you give me a chance . . . to learn to love you? I could . . . you know . . . i-if you gave me time .

'Time . . . ? How much time . . . and why?" be grunted.

"Six months . . . a year, maybe . . . I've so much . . . t-to get straightened out . . . with myself . . . Things I can't tell you about . . . yet . . . she said, guardedly.

"Why so long?"

"I want to be sure . . . sure of myself . . . Sure of you . . ."

"Are you talking about . . . rn-marriage . . . !"

Faye said, quite simply, "Yes . . . John!"

Chapter Three

John had never known a woman quite like Faye. Too many of those he had known in the past had been pushovers; his name, his uncle's moderately large wealth, not to mention his smooth line . . . which, if failing, he would replace with roughness and force . . . had dropped many a pair of panties for him, their lovely, feminine owners spreading their thighs, readily, for his rampaging sexual assaults. Then, if he couldn't get so-called, nice girls into bed, there was always the possibility of buying sexual favors; as a matter-of-fact, he was a well-known customer, at a certain motel down on Highway 101, near the beach. There his uncle's money had bought him some of the wildest sex that could be experienced.

The coolness with which Faye had turned him off . . . actually, thwarted his attempt to seduce her, carried out so reasonably, sweetly, yet firmly, had been a new experience for him. Damn! He had wanted to fuck her so badly! His cock had been at full-mast erection . . . ready for business, as usual! . . . Yet, somehow, he recognized that certain something in her, a certain resolve, he knew he would not be able to overcome . . . easily; of course, he could have forced her, as he had forced other women to his will, using his superior strength, his knowledgeable sex techniques to bring her to heel.

Yes . . . he could have done that, but to say he was baffled by her would be an extreme understatement, indeed!

As he had gunned the little Porsche back onto the Boulevard, his mind churned; his mangled emotions, his jangled, frustration beset nerves and the throbbing ache in his balls combined to put him in a mean, vindictive mood, the picture of a little, spoiled boy, masquerading in the guise of a grown, sophisticated man-of -the-world. He took it out on his car.

Escorting Faye to her door, John had cooled down enough to dredge up some residual good manners. He mumbled an apology, and asked whether or not she would allow him to call her.

"Try me in three or four days, John," she told him.

"Three days . . . ? Not before?'

"No. . . I-I need time . . . time for myself . . ."

"All right . . . if you say so, I guess I can wait . . ." he conceded.

He knew be shouldn't try to kiss her. He didn't. Instead, he grunted out a grudging but polite Good night. Turning, then, to leave, he walked across the porch and stepped down to the top tread of the porch steps. Her voice trailed, softly, after him. It was unexpected.

"John . . . ?"

He stopped, turned to look back at her.

Impulsively, then, she came to him, lightly, and placed a cool, gentle kiss on his lips.

It was the kiss of a little girl, without passion or a hint of sex . . . like a tiny girl would kiss her father.

"Thank you . . . for a wonderful evening," she breathed; then, turning, swiftly, she was gone, disappearing inside the front door of her rooming house, leaving him standing there, even more confused and non-plussed. He shook his head in disbelief.

The innocence of that soft kiss, its undemanding, almost sterile impression brought forth a memory, almost lost, of a forgotten moment of his days in high school.

Another girl had kissed him, like that, breathed a quick I love you, John into his ear, before running, lithely, up to her front door, to go inside.

He had misunderstood. Instantly, his sex arose, his young, virile cock pulsed and throbbed in his pants, and he had caught her, before she had the door open, grabbed her, crushed her to him, kissing her wildly, passionately, caressing her stimulatingly, forcing himself upon her . . . until with a broken will, a heart beating like a trip-hammer, a strange, ready moistness between her legs and a thundering, slashing desire in her loins, she had taken him into the black darkness of her backyard, where on a redwood garden lounge she had given him her virginity and her undying love. It had been the first time for both of them. It had not been the last, for she had become pregnant. John's Uncle Morris had paid for the abortion.

Afterwards, Uncle Morris had called his teen-aged ward into his study. He had been direct and blunt with the boy.

"Damn it, John . . . this is a messy business!"

"Yes, Sir . . . I-I . . ." John had begun.

"Listen! From now on, if you want a piece of ass . . . make God damned sure there's no possibility of getting a kid . . . understand?"

"Yes, Sir . . ."

"You know about using condoms . . . rubbers?

"I do, now . . . Uncle Morris . . ." he said, sheepishly.

"Well . . . get yourself a supply of them and use them!"

"I will . . . It was a fervent promise.

"Better yet . . ." the gray-haired, still virile man went on, "I've got some connections There's a whore house I know about . . . where you can go regularly . . . if you want to get your nuts off . . . with no God damn worries! The women down there are clean . . . and you'll learn some things about fucking these little pimply-faced, scrawny kids'll never know anything about!"

John was interested, immediately, but he held back his enthusiasm. "Yes, Sir . . . that'd

be great . . . but . . ."

"But, what?" Uncle Morris grumbled.

"Aren't those . . . those women . . . in the houses like, that . . . kind of expensive . ..?"

"Hell no! Not as expensive as this abortion I just paid for!" the uncle had said,

punctuating his words with a big fist pounded on his desk.

"Yes, Sir . . . I think I understand . . . what you mean . . ."

"You're damned right it is! . . . But, you don't worry about the money end of it . . . I'll take care of it . . . see you've got money in your pocket! Do you understand, boy?"

"Yes, Sir . . . I-I understand . . ."

"Good!" Uncle Morris snapped. "I'm going out there, myself . . . tonight! You want to come along . . . start learning the ropes . . .?"

The boy looked at his uncle, startled, disbelieving what he had just heard. "W-With you . . . Uncle Morris . . . ? You go to those places too?"

". . . And, why'n hell not? I've got to get a piece of ass pretty regularly, myself! I'm still holding my own!"

It was from that moment that John had begun to see his Uncle Morris in a new and different light, yet there were many things he did not know about his uncle, such as his intricate business dealings or why he had chosen to remain unmarried. Only rarely did the older man reveal anything of himself to the boy or to his sister, John's mother. One thing he did know, after that, was the frequency with which his uncle visited the women, in that place, down on Highway 101.

Silently, as he had stood there, John watched Faye disappear inside the front door of her rooming house. He had not moved to restrain her; the memories of another time, that other girl, crowded into his brain and held him rooted to the steps. "I'll be damned!" he said aloud, reaching up to touch his lips in wonder.

Can things repeat themselves? He wondered about it . . . thinking: She was just like Ginger . . . Virginia . . . yes, that was her name. . . Virginia O'Malley! I think' I really loved her! She was the first girl I had ever fucked . . . and I really wanted to marry her! I would have, too . . . but Uncle Morris said getting rid of, the kid was best . . . and 1 listened to him . . . damn it!

Slowly, the young engineer turned, descended the steps, traversed the walk and crossed the sidewalk to the curb where he got into his car, started it and drove through quiet streets to the freeway on-ramp, heading toward his home in Santa Monica, rather the home still provided him by his Uncle Morris.

Things could have turned out different! Ginger wanted to keep the baby . . . and she wanted to marry me . . . too! . . . But, Uncle Morris knew better . . . damn him! Sure ... he's raised me . . . took care of me . . . and all that . . . after my Dad died . . . and I should feel grateful . . . I am, I guess . . . in a way. . . but Christ! It's just like I belonged to him . . . always doing just what he wanted me to do! The crazy part is ... I'm still doing it! Now, there's Faye, I could really go for her! I want to fuck her so damned bad I can almost taste it! 1 haven't thought about marrying any woman for years . . . They're always thinking about it though . . . trying to trap you into marrying them . . . one way or another! . . . But why should I marry one when I've been able to get all the fucking I want . . . whenever I want it? Yet . . . Faye just made it pretty damned clear where she stands: No sex . . . without love . . . and love to her means marriage! God! How I want her! My damned balls ache so much I can hardly stand it!

He knew one quick solution for that! Suddenly, he stomped the accelerator, sending the little car screaming down the freeway, ducking off of it onto the broad boulevard leading to the coast and arriving at his destination, in a matter of a few minutes. John Wright' was always welcome there!

Kitty looked back over her shoulder at him. "For God's sake, John . . . take it easy on me! You'll split me wide open!"

Glassy-eyed with passion, grunting pantingly, John labored behind her, a smooth, creamy-white buttock grasped in either hand, his big, throbbing cock pounding in and out of her moistly lubricated cunt with reckless abandon.

"Hold still, damn it!" he growled at her. "I'm going to fuck you in the ass, now!"

"No . . . not this time, John! Please? You know I don't like it that way . . . like Ginny does . . . she whined. "Let me suck you off, instead. O.K. ?"

Kitty was one of the regulars . . . and one of his favorites at the Pacifica Royale Motel and Lodge. There were other, more beautiful women who worked the Pacifica as prostitutes, but Kitty's experience, her ability to please and satisfy him, always brought him back to her. She, on her part, was always glad to have the young engineer share a bed with her for a few hours. Then, too, he always paid her better.

"Yeah . . . O.K." he agreed, pulling his hardened, aching cock from her sheathing cunt and flopping back on the pillows, the shaft of his massive prick standing up jackstaff straight above his hairy loins.

Quickly, Kitty was over him, her agile tongue licking and caressing the length of his throbbingly engorged cock, her mouth, finally, capturing the smooth, shiny redness of the bulbous head.

Her smooth, warm mouth was like honey, her tongue wildly gyrating around the sensitive corona, the tip of it dipping into the tiny slit, occasionally; then, as her head began to bob, moving up and down the shaft of his expanding cock, absorbing his length to the fullest into her mouth and throat with ever-quickening pace, she brought him to a spewing ejaculation, in a few minutes, and she swallowed his white, hot semen, voraciously, licking and sucking to get all of it to the very last drop.

"God! That's good, Kitty!" he grunted.

"Do you want to stay the rest of the night, John?" she asked, knowing that if he did, he would pay her more than the going rate for an all-night trick. It's a hell of a lot easier than eight or nine quickies!

"All right, Kitty . . . I might as well .

Twice more, that night, he used her. Kitty was a good fuck. She always made sure that he enjoyed her. Somehow, though, something was missing from the easy sex she provided him. Her services were as easily obtainable as a good meal. Maybe that was the trouble!

In the early, morning light of the following day, as he lay beside her, he knew that Faye, on the other hand, was completely unattainable. There was only one way he could ever have her: Marriage!

John looked over at the still sleeping face beside him, then his eyes ranged over the rest of her warm, naked body. Kitty had been very attractive, when she was younger, but now he saw the slight wrinkles and lines, the tinted hair, the tell-tale sag of her breasts and the middle-aged fat of her upper arms. He wondered, idly, how it was that she had become a whore. Had she ever been considered as a marriage prospect? She had been young, vibrant and idealistic, once . . . hadn't she?

Suddenly, he saw her as a person, for the first time, and realized that he had been using her as an object . . . something on which, merely, to relieve his lust. She had been a thing to him . . . a fucking machine!

By slow degrees, he began to piece the puzzle together. All of the women he had seduced, the whores he had fucked had been as nothing to him . . . after Virginia, and lie realized that it had been his Uncle Morris . . . and his money that had hardened him, de-sensitized him, and in the process, he had to admit, ruefully, to himself . . . had dehumanized him.

Thoughts of Faye came crowding in on him. Was this woman, somehow, destined to be the catalyst for his aimless life? It could be possible her aloof, unattainability was leading him to something new. Could that something be . . . love? He didn't know. Certainly, it would not be romantic love! Of that he was sure! He couldn't bring himself to believe it existed except in stories . . . but it could be true love, a realistic love, of the kind that makes good marriages.

MARRIAGE? ! He couldn't seem to shake that word out of his mind. John Wright . . . married! He couldn't imagine himself in that sort of permanent arrangement, yet his thoughts of Faye were all mixed up with that particular word. It kept cropping up . . . like a bad penny. I better come off it . . . it's a stupid idea! I'm not cut out for all that crap that goes along with getting married!

He sat up, searched for and found his cigarettes and lighter; lighting up, he leaned back, against the headboard, smoking and thinking. His movement in the bed awakened Kitty. Her eyelids fluttered open, and she gazed up at him, sleepily.

John's solemn face prompted her to ask, thinking about something . . . or is something bothering you, Honey . . .?"

"Yeah," he answered, not being specific.

"Which . . .?"

"Both . . . I guess . . ."

"Well . . . like what, for example . . .?"

"Like . . . marriage . . ." he grunted.

"Who . . . somebody I know?" She was interested, now.

"Yeah . . . me!"

"You?" Kitty sat up, fast.

"Yeah . . . I've been trying to imagine me being married . . . isn't that a laugh?"

"It's about time, John! You'll make some lucky girl a good husband!"

"You think so?"

"Hell, yes!" she exploded. "You ought to be settling down with some nice girl . . . and start raising a family . . . before it's too late!"


Kitty looked at him, levelly, "It's miserable being alone . . . believe me!" She picked up a pack of cigarettes and stuck one in her mouth. John lit it for her. He watched as she drew in smoke with some agitation; then, she went on, "If you've found the girl ... grab her, right away!"

"My Uncle Morris seems to get along all right . . . alone," he observed.

". . . And, he's the most miserable man I know, John!"

"Uncle Morris . . . ? Impossible!"

"Believe me, he is! Don't ask me what . . . but it should be pretty clear why I know . . . shouldn't it?" she said.

"Yeah . . . you're one of his favorites, too . . ." John agreed.

"Forget about Morris . . . let's talk about getting you married!" Kitty said with dead seriousness. "The sooner the better!"

"You're cutting off your own business, you know!"

"Hell . . . there's always plenty of business! Don't worry about little old Kitty!"

"All right . . . if you say so. . ."

Kitty's hand, under the sheet, moved to grasp the limp shaft of his cock. She smiled up at him. "Would you like to cum . . . one more time?" she asked. "For old time's sake?"

The touch of her hand, the agile fingers working, expertly, on him, brought his big cock to instant alertness, his blood pouring into it, to be trapped there. It was hard and erect, in a few moments.

"Yeah, O.K., Kitty . . . for old time's sake . . . if you want to . . ." he smiled.

"I want to . . . John . . ." she breathed.

Her mouth followed her hand. She knew he'd like that.

John left a hundred dollar John on the bureau for Kitty, dressed, left her there, in the room, still in bed, got into his car and drove home to shave and shower, before going to work. His uncle's Continental had been parked three spaces down from his Porsche, in the parking lot of the Pacifica. He was probably with Ginny, he decided. The old bastard must be quite a cocksman!

I wonder what Kitty meant about not asking WHAT she knows about my uncle? Hell . . . I really don't know very much about him, myself!

"To hell with him!" he muttered to himself, deciding not to worry about his uncle's hang-ups! He had problems of his own . . . and he wasn't sure of any answers . . . yet!

Chapter Four

For three days, John had tried to contact Faye, to no avail, telephoning her at work, at home, sending her a telegram, followed by several cards and a bouquet of long-stemmed roses. She would not speak to him on the phone; his written messages remained unanswered, and she gave her landlady the beautiful roses. Finally, on the fourth day, he walked into the stationers, just before lunch time, found her busy with a customer and waited, patiently, until she was finished.

"Faye . . . I have to see you . . . talk to you!" he blurted. "Let's go to lunch!"

"I only have a half-hour off . . ." she said, coolly, not trusting herself to talk to him.

"What I have to say will take all of ten seconds!"

"Let's get married!"

Faye blinked once at him, then stared, wide-eyed in disbelief of what she had heard; her heart skipped a beat, then began a trip-hammer pounding in her chest. It was something she had always wanted to hear, but now . . . now that it had been said and she was confronted with the necessity of making a decision, giving him an answer . . . she didn't want it. God! She wasn't ready!

She didn't know what to say. It had been thrust upon her too suddenly.

"I-I really wanted t-to wait . . for a while longer . . . b-before even thinking about getting married," she said, uncertainly, ". . . I'm not ready . . . yet . . ."

"You told me that, already! I want to marry you, now! Will you?" He was emphatic.

Faye hesitated. "I-I can't give you an answer . . . right now . . . I h-have to think about it . . ."

"Well . . . at least we can have lunch together! Come on, let's go . . . shall we?"

Reluctantly, she went to lunch with him. After they had ordered and begun to eat, he slipped the diamond engagement ring on her finger, greasy from the cheeseburger she was eating. "Now . . . will you marry me?"

The ring took her by surprise. She gasped . . . and stared at it; finally, after long moments, she looked up at him and said, "Y-Yes . . . yes . . . John . . .! What else can I say. . .?"

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