To Kathleen, Nathan, and David

Part I


“If looks could kill.”

Terry Farina was pleased with her image as she regarded herself in the mirror. She fluffed up her hair and touched up her lips, then turned to view her profile. The black satin sheath fit her like lacquer. Even without the straps, the dress would no doubt hold in place by the mere exertion of her flesh.

Her heart did a little jig at the thought of his dropping by. He had said he’d be over in about ten minutes, so she scrambled to straighten out the place, stuffing the mail into the kitchen cabinets, the counter drawers, and the dishwasher. She pushed books and papers into the closet and was just closing her laptop when he tapped at the front door.

She lit her face with a grand smile. “A man as good as his word,” she said as she swung open the door.

He held up a bottle of champagne. “Something to celebrate with.”

“Oh, how lovely. Thank you.” She closed the door and led him into the living room. He was dressed in a shiny jogging outfit and running shoes.

“My!” he said, taking her in. “You’re all decked out.”

“I was trying it on when you’d said you’d drop by, so I left it on.”

His eyes scanned her from top to bottom, then rested for an instant on her cleavage. “You look like you just stepped out of Vogue magazine.”

“You’re too kind.”

He raised his eyes to her face and the look in them set off a tiny ripple of pleasure inside her. She took the champagne and gave him a kiss on the cheek and led him into the kitchen.

She had lived in the apartment for the past eight months and had furnished it with a postmodern flare, combining a Duncan Phyfe sofa with teak chairs, tables, silver lamps, and watercolors. But he was not interested in her furnishings or the collectibles.

“You do the honors,” she said, and handed him the champagne as she got two glasses. “I’m so glad you came by.”

“Me, too.”

His face had a strange intensity. She watched as he undid the foil and wire mesh. Then with a quick flourish he twisted off the cork with a pop. She took the bottle and began to fill the glasses.

“Nothing for me.”

“You’re not going to make me drink alone, are you?”

“Okay, but just a little.” His eyes fluttered for a brief moment.

“You all right?”

“I’ve got something of a headache.”

“There’s some Tylenol in the cabinet by your head.”

“I already took something. I’ll be fine.”

She handed him the glass. “What shall we toast?”

He stared into the glass for a moment without response. He seemed a little displaced, as if only partly here. Maybe it was the headache. He had said that he was prone to bad ones.

“How about to a new beginning.”

She beamed. “I’ll drink to that.” Her glass clinked against his glass and she took a swallow. “Are you hungry? I haven’t got much, maybe some saltines and peanut butter—not exactly champagne food.”

“No, I already ate.” He took a tiny sip and looked at her with glazed expectation.

“Let’s go in here,” she said, and led him to the living-room sofa.

He sat beside her and again eyed her breasts. “Is the dress new?”

She sensed he was groping to make conversation. “I bought it a few months ago, but I think it’s a little snug.”

“No, it flatters you.”

She thanked him and sipped her drink. “You’re not drinking.”

“I’ll catch up.” He raised the glass, then lowered it.

He was clearly a bit anxious. She put her hand on his leg and gave him a little pat. “Come on, relax.” He really had no reason to feel uncomfortable with her, yet he was acting as if this were his first date.

He glanced at the clock. “I know you’re leaving early in the morning,” he said.

Her friend Katie was coming by around eight to drive them to Vermont for a few days.

“I just wanted to see you again before you left.”

“Well, here I am.” She took another sip from her glass and felt the alcohol send a warm glow throughout her brain. Champagne always did that to her—something about the carbon dioxide bubbles that intensified the buzz. She reached over for his glass and raised it. “I refuse to drink alone.”

He took a small sip and looked at her. His large opaque eyes filled his face. “You’re a very attractive woman.”

“Thank you.”

There was another awkward silence as she swallowed more champagne. She slipped her hand on his arm. He seemed to feel a small jolt, but he didn’t pull away. The next moment happened so fast that she even surprised herself. She leaned toward him and softly kissed his mouth. His eyes seemed to swirl as he studied her face. Then he moved his face to hers and pressed his lips into a long lingering kiss. As they continued, he began to writhe and make deep-throated groans, his mouth moving wetly over hers.

Suddenly he pulled away. “I’ve got a better idea,” he whispered, and took her hand.


He stood up. “This way,” he said, and led her into the dining room and through the door on the left and down the hall toward her bedroom.

“And what exactly do we have in mind?”

But he didn’t respond. But when he clapped eyes on her bed he said, “Very nice.”

She had recently ordered an expensive new unit with a high white metal headboard and all new bedding, as well as a fluffy white summer comforter and colorful pillows. He walked her to the bed. His hand was hot. “My, my,” she said. “We seem to be on a mission.”

The phone beside the bed began to ring. “Don’t answer it.”

“Whoa! This is serious.” It was probably Katie calling about the pickup time tomorrow. She’d call her back later.

At the edge of the bed he turned to face her. His eyes were large and dark and the look in them set off a giddy sensation in her loins. He kissed her again.

“Maybe you can do the honors this time.”


He ran his finger gently down her neck, over her cleavage, and down her belly.

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