I met Eric at the tennis club I had joined. We were both single men with no set schedule to speak of, so we played together pretty often. I'm a pretty laid back guy on most things, but tennis was one of the few things I was competitive at. Eric, it turns out, was the same way, and some of our arguments over points almost devolved into fistfights. The club pro took an interest, and soon we were playing in amateur tournaments as a doubles team. We were pretty much undefeated for two years, even beating a couple of pros in charity events. Of course, they were both just north of forty, but I was no spring chicken at thirty-seven. Eric was twenty-six, a fact he liked to rub in every once in a while.
Our friendship began slowly, mostly because of the age difference. The fact that I was prematurely gray highlighted our difference, and when we began to hit clubs together he'd introduce the girl he was targeting to me as his Dad, to make him appear harmless. I wasn't a troll, and the years had given me a wealth of patter to draw on. I think it shocked him that I could pull women faster, but he adapted, becoming my wingman. It was never anything serious, I'd given up on a permanent relationship long ago. Still fun to have a hot, sweaty night with a sweet young thing, as long as she knew she was going home in a cab the next morning.
I knew the girls talked, as did the people we knew in the community and at the tennis club. We both had money, never seemed to work, didn't have a set schedule. The general consensus was that we were drug dealers. It got to the point that we would get stopped and have our car searched on a regular basis, and people we barely knew were wanting to know if we could 'hook them up'. A couple of phone calls from some very high priced lawyers ended the harassment, and a few well placed "FUCK OFFs!' took care of the rest.
So then, where did the money come from?
For Eric, it came the old fashioned way. He inherited it. His family owned several very successful businesses, and when they all went down in a plane crash, he inherited everything, along with some very nice insurance settlements. No idiot, he had an MBA from one of the most prestigious schools in the country. But he soon discovered he couldn't stand the rigid demands of business on a regular basis, hired top notch managers, and went in to his office twice a week for five hours, to keep check on things. He also had two sets of accountants and a very good law firm to look out for his interests, so he was pretty much set.
He didn't just slack around and party. He kept in shape, with tennis and martial arts, and had numerous hobbies that were pretty demanding.
I was almost the exact opposite. My parents were dirt poor. I was just lucky enough to pay for their funerals when they passed. I'd been married, and after five years she told me I'd never amount to anything, and she was leaving me for a better life. Took almost everything of value with her when she left.
Her exit plan was a victim of timing, I did indeed have nothing when we divorced, but eighteen months after I got the final decree, something I'd been working on in my spare time paid off, and the paydays just kept getting better. My darling ex somehow discovered my good fortune and came sniffing around, hinting that perhaps she'd made a mistake, and maybe we should work on mending fences.
I politely told her to kiss my ass, rubbed my good fortune in her face, and moved away without a forwarding address. I bought the condo I live in seven years ago, and just kept moving forwards.
Eric and I had many of the same interests, and our attitudes complimented each other. He'd get enthused over something, try to drag me along with him in his latest scheme, and I'd be the voice of reason, pointing out holes in his plan until he got bored and dropped it. But if he really, really wanted to do something, no force on earth would keep him from trying.
We had decided after three days of sleet, freezing rain, high winds and blowing snow that enough was enough. The islands were looking really attractive, that or southern France. We flipped a coin, and France won.
We were to meet at my condo and cab to the airport. I had one of my rare business meetings, so I told Eric I'd be a little late. He said he'd amuse himself until I got there. That should have had warning bells going off in my head, but I was focused on what I was doing and missed it.
He was sitting on my sofa, an old issue of National Geographic in his hands, when I came through the door. "How'd you get in here?"
He just gave me that lopsided grin of his. "You know how I am when I want to learn something new. I thought once that it might be cool to learn how to get pass locked doors, so I looked a guy up. He'd been a master thief for years, until an associate got caught for something else and sold him out for a lesser sentence. He did five years, and when he came out he started a consulting business, teaching individuals and corporations how to keep guys like him out. He told me he made as much in his second year as he did in all eight years of thievery. He also had an associate that knew a thing or two about computers. Issabella, really? I can't tell you how cool it is that you're Rock Stone, and Smiley B. Wiley, but Issabella? Sounds kind of gay to me."
Well, the truth was out there now. My upturn in fortune? It was from writing, something I'd done while still married. My wife belittled me, but I bet she isn't laughing now. I write under three aliases, and make pretty good money off all of them. I decided early on an alias was the way to go, mostly to keep my ex-wife in the dark. We'd parted almost a year before I started making any money off my writing, but with her you never knew, and I didn't want a long, expensive battle over whether she deserved any money for standing by me for the years she did. Then, I liked the idea that I could walk the streets and no one had a clue who I was or what I did. Since I started out self publishing, I wasn't obligated into future book signings or tours to support the work. Oh, I probably would have made more money if I had, but it was worth the trade off to me.
"Shut the fuck up! I'll have you know Issabella paid for this condo with her romances. And good old Smiley bought the four-door truck and the motorcycle with his mysteries. The Battle Babes royalties are just gravy. Very nice gravy. The profits from the video game alone would keep me very comfortable for the rest of my life."
He was laughing out loud now. "Okay, okay. I gotta tell you, man, you're my hero. I started reading Battle Babes of Borth when I was fourteen, Can you imagine?"
I couldn't help smiling. "I'm glad you liked them. You were fourteen? Tell the truth, did you beat off thinking about Captain Titts?"
"Fucking A I did! Until I was raw! Her, then Sergeant Hipps, Redhaired Hellion, then Private Partz, Going Commando. You got a pretty wild imagination, dude."
I thought about the series when I was half buzzed one night, reading an old paperback sci-fi from the eighties, about a group of mercenaries that traveled the universe for fun and profit. They were a womanizing lot, and spent more time screwing than fighting. I had a stray thought about reversing the image, and have it be a bunch of extremely attractive, extremely horny women, offering their weapons and 'services' to the highest bidder. I hacked out the outline of the first three novels that night, then spent eight months developing the characters and plot lines.
I published online, without hope of a book deal. By the time the third book came out I had a small cult following, that swelled in time to millions all over the world. I was up to book thirty-five now, with two spinoffs. There was also a video game that was ranked number five world wide, and several graphic novels I'd done with a famous comic book artist. I'd even been approached twice for a possible movie deal.
Isabella came about when I was bored with the Battle Babes, and about the time romance became hot. Seems I was pretty good at it, and two of the four became movies. There was a huge online debate going on as to who she actually was. I laughed a couple of times about the guesses, but so far they were nowhere near the truth.
Smiley came along when I needed a nom de plume for a series of mysteries I developed. They were the least successful of the bunch, but still made more money than I ever thought I'd see in my lifetime, so I couldn't complain. Combined, they added up to a very nice chunk of change. And now the cat was out of the bag. "You gonna tell anybody?"
"Shit no(did I mention that on average one out of three words out of mouth were generally swear words?)I'm not. I would never do that, man. You're my friend, and I just don't have that many. Still pretty cool though."
I believed him. In the time I'd known him I'd never heard him betray a confidence. "Good. Now relax, while I take a shower and get changed. Then we're off to the airport. Boobies for everybody!"
The beach we'd be frequenting was topless, except for one area. There completely nude people frolicked, enjoying the climate and scenery. "Boobies for everybody!," he echoed, before taking the old National Geographic up again, thumbing through it while I got my gear together.
"Hey, this is cool," he said, showing me the article. A man had been hunting in Arctic Canada for polar bear, and he shot one that he thought had mud on it, only to discover it was brown fur on its' feet and ears. He'd shown it to a provincial biologist, and they ran a DNA test, proving the bear was a cross between a Grizzly and a Polar bear, coming about because the Polar bear was losing habitat due to global warming, and the Grizzly was expanding theirs.
I'd read the article. "Yeah," I grinned, "tell me that isn't a cheesy B movie wanting happen. I can see it now, GROLAR! SCOURGE OF THE NORTHLANDS!"
If I had been paying attention I would have noticed the glint in his eye that always led to some adventure or another, but I was busy packing. We were on the plane and I was half asleep when he brought up what was on his mind.
"I think we should do it."
"Make a B movie."
My eyes snapped open, and I saw the look on his face. Shit! Now I had to talk him down. "What makes you think we could make a B movie? I for one know nothing about the film industry, how to make a movie, how to pitch a movie, how to get it in theaters. We'd be tap dancing in a minefield, it would end up blowing up in our face. And movies take money to make, who'd finance us?"
"We'd finance us. I'll put in a million if you will. That should be enough, remember B movies are cheaply made anyway. You write the script, and I'll get it made. I bet if we put our minds to it we could make a classic."
I just shut up and let him enthuse. No way in hell was I pissing a million dollars away on something we knew nothing about. Maybe it would be out of his system by the time we got to France.
It was warm, the girls pretty and willing, the wine excellent. We pulled our third set of girls in four days, cute little Aubrey Hepburn lookalikes. They couldn't speak English, and I knew just enough French to get my face slapped, but we each made it clear to each other what we wanted. We danced, drank, went back to the suite and banged them, switching partners sometime before morning. I woke up with both girls draped across me. As much fun as it was to feel that much nubile young flesh rubbing against me, I needed to go really bad. Maybe I'd come back and figure out a way to get rid of my morning wood. Maybe I'd take them out to lunch, and buy them a nice bauble to remember us by. We'd kiss, gaze into each others eyes longingly, make vague promises, and never see each other again. Life would go on.
I heard a noise and checked, amazed to see him sitting at the kitchen table, his laptop open, and a notebook filled with scribbles. Whatever had gotten him away from the girls must have been important to him. I felt the skin on the back of my neck start to crawl.
That was my tell. It always tingled right before we'd embark on whatever adventure he'd come up with. I always thought it was my subconscious analyzing data, drawing conclusions, and trying to force my conscious mind to acknowledge it.
I woke the girls, walking them naked into the kitchen, and when he didn't even look up the crawling intensified. This was bad. I told the girls to get dressed, called the driver we used, and escorted them back to town. The driver put the privacy panel up, and they took turns showing me how grateful they were for last night. We had to sit a minute after we stopped to straighten our clothes. I took them into the first jeweler we came to, and dropped about a grand U.S. on them, knowing they'd return it for the money, minus a twenty-five percent fee handling fee, before I got back to the villa. It was the thought that counted.
I found him on the patio, his laptop humming, notepads scattered everywhere. He wasn't working, just lying on a lounger, soaking up the sun, wearing an expensive pair of sunglasses and nothing else. Four beer bottles were on the table, and he was face down and snoring.
"Turn!," I said, sticking an ice cold beer on his leg just below his junk, enjoying the way he jumped and automatically covered up, "if you don't, the vacation fun will slow way down, what with sunburned balls and all."
"Fuck you," he said, struggling into his shorts and a tee. "the girls still here?"
"Nope, already placed the little beach bunnies back into their natural habitat. They're probably already frolicking with a new set of wolves."
"Well just shit then. What am I supposed to do with this?" He was looking down at the erection that had sprang up.
"My best guess would be take matters into your own hands. Need a minute?"
"Fuck you, I'll just save it until later. I'm starving."
We hopped in to the little two seater roadster we'd rented, and hit a village known for its' many bistros. Say what you want about the French, those frogs could cook. I think you can ingest five hundred calories just looking at the plate. Sated, we went back to laze around until the afternoon was half over, then hit the beach. Then we'd cruise the bars, looking for Miss Right Now. Or two. Or three. Whatever. I once tried to talk Eric into buying stock in a condom maker, my point being that our business alone would keep them solvent. He'd gotten an STD once, and it scared him to the No Glove, No Love, school of thought.
He plopped down on the patio, looked at the papers, and grinned. "Guess what I was doing while you were shagging our little French bimbettes?"
"Regretting not joining us? Having a bit of penis envy, maybe. We can't all be hung like satyrs, you know."
"Well, I was a little worried about your health, so I tried to find your supply of Viagra and hide it, before you blew that feeble old heart of yours out. Then I decided if that's the way you wanted to go who was I to stop you? Instead, I researched B movies, looking for the formula, you know, the ones that make B movies classics."
"Really? And what have you learned, mighty scholar?"
"Well, first of all, the female lead needs to be blond."
"And I suppose she has to have a nice rack? Plus, her character would have to hate wearing bras, right? Lots of shots of her in tee shirts, preferably wet?" I was grinning back now. This kind of banter is what made him such a good companion.
"You're damn right. And the shirts have to be tight and as thin as possible. Now, any ideas who she could play in our epic?"
"Sure, she can play the biologist who discovers the crossbreeding."
"How you gonna make a big titted blonde look smart enough to be a scientist?"
I thought for a minute. "Big glasses and a lab coat."
"See! See! I knew you'd be good at this shit. Now, who's the leading man?"
"The hunter of course. he has to be devilishly handsome, and dumb as a fucking post."
"Is the biologist his love interest?"
"I don't think so. He'd be too intimidated by her brains. No, I think a native girl is the way to go here."
"Goddamn! Naked natives! Now you're fucking talking!"
"Who said anything about naked natives? It's set in the Arctic, you moron. Where the hell would we get naked natives?"
He leaned back and grinned. "You're the writer. Figure it out."
The game had gotten to me. I thought for a few minutes. "Sweat Lodge! A sweat lodge full of naked natives, with the hot blonde biologist and the hunk right in the middle."
"Think you can get her to go topless?"
Man, to have an IQ just over 150, he could be downright dense at times."I thought you said you researched B movies? We aren't going to get anyone who's a serious actor in the thing anyway. I'm sure there's a young aspiring actress out that somewhere who'd get naked in a flash to be in a movie. Dumbass."
"Fuck you very much, old man. Wait, does that mean we'd be on the set with a bunch of topless women?"
"Why the hell would we be on the set?"
It was his turn to look at me like I was an idiot. "Because there would be a bunch of topless women. I'm the executive producer. I'd have to be there to make sure our money is well spent. You'd be there as co-executive producer and technical advisor, to make sure they fuck up your masterpiece."
"You mean don't fuck it up, right?"
"I meant what I said. We'd have to do so many revisions that the finished product doesn't even slightly resemble the original concept. It's how all successful B movies are done. Of course, you'd have to throw a temper tantrum or two, and I'd have to talk you back into the fold as executive producer. You can thank me in advance, if you'd like."
I stood up. "This bullshit is giving me a headache. Come on, beach time."
We hit the beach, and I watched all the pretty little girls parade up and down, in brightly colored thongs and nothing else, looking for their next victim. I'm firmly convinced women can smell money on you, like a shark smells blood. Eric had pretty decent looks, and I was okay in a middle-aged man who takes care of himself kind of way. We didn't wearing Rolexes or bling, but they'd gravitate to us, flirting, posing, showing off their assets in the best possible way. Everybody knew the situation. Most of them were barely making a living as secretaries or factory workers. They'd probably saved all year for the few days they'd get to spend in the sand and sun. They wanted adventure, someone to sweep them off their feet for a vacation fling, something to entertain the girls they left behind, with tales of the handsome stranger and the special connection they'd felt instantly. If they were rich and could take them to the finer places, so much the better. Most were more than willing to trade sex for their dream. It's why I tended to give them little gifts and act heartbroken when I took them home. It made the story more interesting, made them feel better about what they'd done to earn it.
They were like schools of brightly colored little fish, and like little fish fleeing from a shark, they scattered. I looked to see what caused it. A woman, with long black hair and olive skin, was rising from the sea. Her breasts could have been used as a model for all the classic sculptors, sitting high, firm, and full. As she rose, it was obvious she had strayed from the nude beach, the privacy fence stretched across the beach fifty feet behind her. Unlike all the smooth little bunnies, she had a full, luxuriant bush, jet black silk shedding droplets of water as she swayed towards us.
She stood directly in front of me, smiling, and started talking. Greek, maybe. I held up my hand. "My humble apologies, Goddess, I do not speak the language of Olympus. I'm just a vulgar American, overwhelmed by your beauty."
Eric was standing beside me, and I had an almost uncontrollable urge to reach over and close his mouth. She gave a little laugh, and spoke in almost perfect English.
I grinned, still enthralled by her beauty. She had to be over forty, but she carried it extremely well. The girls were right to scatter, they would have been invisible next to her. I bowed slightly. "Yes, my lady, Goddess. Are you not Aphrodite, or Venus, risen from the sea? No mortal could attain your beauty, so ergo, you're a Goddess. I suspect you appear from time to time to show mortals what real beauty is. Sadly, you ruin those in your presence, because mortal females, no matter their attributes, will be pale imitations compared to their memory of you."
Her laugh was like music. "And people say there is no poetry in the soul of Americans. Or are you an exception to the rule?" Her eyes flickered up and down my body. Then she smiled again. "I like you. You amuse me. Tell the truth, what is in your mind right now?"
I looked directly into her eyes. "I was thinking I'd like to be somewhere private with you. I would like to lick the saltwater off your pubic hair, replace it with the juices of our lust, until you screamed in climax, at least twice. Then in a fumbling way not anywhere near the standard you deserve, I'd try my best to give you a fucking worthy of you. That, Goddess, is what is in my mind."
Eric was looking at me like a stranger as the goddess stood before us. I was using a low, crooning voice, a tone I almost never used. The tenderness of my tone belied the vulgar words, but they had the desired effect. Her nipples had popped out while I talked, and her breathing became rapid. She slowly nodded. " You have the gift. I knew I was right to follow my instincts. It is not often one meet a modern day Mage. Your tongue weaves an interesting tapestry of lust and desire, Wizard. Well, I hope your tongue is at good at pleasing me as it is in forming words. I command you, as your Goddess, to follow me, Wordweaver. Worship your Goddess well."
I bowed fully then. "Your servant awaits. Perhaps, Goddess, you'd like my robe? Although such a vulgar garment should be burned for obscuring your beauty. "
She looked down, noticing she was naked while everyone else had at least bottoms on. She smiled even more brightly. "Well, it isn't far to my chambers. But it comes off the second the door closes."
She took my hand and we started walking. We got about fifty feet before she stopped, and turned back to look at Eric. "Apprentice, are you coming? A Goddess should be worshiped by the masses. Don't you agree, Mage?"
His grin almost obscured his face, and he ran to catch up.
She was by far the sexiest, most skilled lover I'd ever had. Her body was flawless, tight and firm where it needed to be, soft and yielding otherwise. I think every woman I'd ever been with, every act of passion before this had been merely training for this moment. I used every trick I'd ever learned to give her pleasure, and she showed me things I never even considered. She whimpered, she howled, she cried. She scratched welts on my back as we mated, bit my shoulder until the blood flowed, manipulating her body in ways I didn't know was possible. I bit bruises on both breasts, put a huge hickey on her neck. Eric sat amazed for almost an hour, just watching. She'd occasionally reach out and stroke him. He'd shut his eyes and moan. I think he set a personal best for maintaining an erection. After almost an hour nonstop, I was done. There was no life left in me.
"Sorry, Goddess, but this mere mortal is finished. May I sacrifice my young friend here to you? He may not be skilled, but he has the ability to learn quickly. At the very least, he'll die smiling"
In essence, she treated him like a bitch. She controlled every action. An hour of watching must have been a big strain because he popped after five minutes of her riding him in reverse cowgirl. He blushed and started to apologize, but she twirled around, still mounted, and touched his lips. "Hush, young one. Let me work my magic. "
She sat still, a frown of concentration on her face. Eric said it was like a hand massaging an udder. He was hard again in four minutes, and she rode him for what seemed forever, until he screamed(like a girl, I thought)and arched into her for a final time. She had a serene little smile on her face, and I wondered if she'd orgasmed at all. Eric just lay there, tears in his eyes, as she strode across the room, the results of her matings glistening down her legs, and got us all a glass of wine. I took it and raised it to her. She smiled and touched her glass to mine.
We sat companionably for a few minutes, not speaking. What could one say to do what just happened justice? The door opened, and a tall, handsome man strode in. He took in the room at a glance and grinned.
"Ah, my dear, you have guests. How rude of me to barge in. Please excuse me."
Eric was staring wideyed, wondering when the violence would begin. I rose naked, and bowed again. "Please, do not bother on our account. We were just going. Too much time in the presence of a Goddess is not good for mortals. We'll take our leave now."
The man smirked, looking at the woman. She actually blushed before her eyes sparkled in merriment. "Yes, apparently he's convinced I'm Aphrodite. And he is a Mage, with his young apprentice. But he speaks truth. Too much magic in such a small space for extended periods of time is not good. Goodbye Wizard. I'm sure we'll meet in another life."
She kissed our cheeks as she ushered us to the door. She whispered something to Eric, creating a full body blush.
We were walking down the beach when he let out a tremendous howl and ran into the water, rolling around like a madman. Finally restraining himself, he came back to our cabana. "Over it now?" I asked, as he shook the water off like a puppy.
"I'll never be over what just happened! It was the most amazing experience of my life! You ARE a Wizard. She said so, and I believe it."
Curiosity got me. "Is that what she whispered to you?"
"Part of it. She said we both have bright auras, and they're even brighter when we're together. She also said as long as I stayed near you, good things would happen."
I laughed. "I think she's drained too much blood away from your head. She's no goddess, just a horny woman that took a chance and it worked out well. I bet right now her husband is balls deep in her while she tells him how she seduced a couple of stupid Americans. And we need to get tested when we get home, we never used condoms. Heat of the moment, I guess."
He shook his head stubbornly. "Believe what you want, man. I think she's right. What just happened wasn't normal, and you know it."
We both agreed nothing could surpass what had just happened, so we packed and left. I'd been typing away on my laptop while Eric dozed. He finally stirred, and asked me what I was working on.
"A new Battle Babe. I haven't introduced a new character in a while, and I think the time is right."
"Let me guess. She'll be hot, horny, another stone cold fox. Describe her."
"Exactly as you said. Olive skin, jet black hair, I think she'll be older than the rest. Might be good for them to have a mother figure."
"Got a name?"
"I'm leaning towards Goddess. What do you think?"
"I think you'll make another million bucks. Thought any more about the screenplay?"
I rolled my eyes. The boy could be relentless. "In the first place, I've never written a screenplay. The best I could do would be write the story, then turn it over to someone who knows what they're doing. And I haven't said that I'd do it yet."
He smirked. "I'll add that to the list. Screen writer. Hopefully someone who can string words together in a comprehensible fashion. Oh, and we'll be filming in Canada."
"Because they have a lot of snow, dumbass. And it's a lot cheaper to film in Canada, I checked. Don't want to blow the budget too soon."
"You know, B movies always have more than one hot bitch in them. After all, the bear has to eat somebody, right? Might as well be somebody hot. Redhead? Brunette?"
His eyes seemed to gleam. "Redhead. It'll make her look better all bloody lying in the snow. And you have to have at least one black girl, with big tits and a ghetto ass. And she needs to wear booty shorts."
"Canada, snow, cold, remember? She'll freeze to death in booty shorts. Although, we could make it a running joke about her not understanding why she's so cold all the time. Maybe we can have her wear the shorts with thermal tights under them."
"Now you're rolling! How soon can you be done?"
"I haven't agreed to do it, yet. Don't get your hopes up."
He lay back, closing his eyes. "Oh, you'll do it, all right. You're hooked, I can see your brain working with my eyes closed. We WILL do this. I guarantee it."
I just sighed and went back to my laptop.
I tried to leave it alone. Really. I had stuff to finish, stuff that would make me money, instead of something guaranteed to make me lose money. But Eric was right, I was hooked. I'd finally given up, and dedicated one day a week to it. I didn't tell Eric until I was done with it. He'd dropped by, on his way to another date. Somehow word got out that we weren't drug dealers, but movie makers. Poor little rich girls, poor girls, and just regular girls were suddenly interested in playing tennis with us, inviting us to the juice bar afterwards to 'get acquainted'. It got so bad I thought seriously about changing clubs.
Eric was having the time of his life, banging his way through all our admirers, making promises he had no way of keeping. It took another minor STD to slow him down. Even condoms aren't always effective. At least he was a little more selective, and there was a mild scandal, not to mention an increased number of doctor visits by some very pissed off women, when it came out. I was surprised he could find someone still willing to go out with him.
He was moaning about it on my couch when I dropped the binder in front of him.
"It's what you've been obsessing and bragging about for the last five months. It's your movie."
He was almost reverent when he picked it up. "No shit?"
I grinned to see him at a loss for words. "No shit, as cheesy a piece of junk as I could make it. Tell me what you think when you get time to read it. Now go enjoy your date."
He pulled out his phone, and started texting like crazy. He threw it down and grinned at me. "Seems I'm suddenly at loose ends. Mind if I read it here? And order some takeout, I'm starving."
I couldn't believe he blew off his date for this. "Where did you leave the poor girl waiting?"
"La Petit Chateau. She has a thing for French food. Why?"
"Because I'm going to stand in for you, no need to let good food and a hot woman go to waste. Text her back and tell her I'm on my way." I figured he'd bitch, but he caught her just as she was about to leave. He didn't know whether to be pissed off or not when she said she'd be happy to wait on me.
I came back three hours later, grinning. Seems the perfect thing to go with a nice meal is a little dancing. She directed me to a club I'd never been in before. It was a jazz bar, and it featured an eighteen piece combo that played mostly forties and fifties music. She taught me how to foxtrot, and we enjoyed several nice waltzes. I liked it so much I decided to take advantage of the Wednesday night dance lessons they offered. The young lady I was with seemed delighted to be my practice partner. Looks like Eric might have lost a dolly. The fact that I treated her like a princess and didn't try to peel her dress off her on the dance floor may have swayed her decision.
He could have cared less. There were takeout containers strewn from the kitchen to the living room, along with empty beer bottles. He was grinning like mad, waving the binder. "This is going to be a hell of a movie."
I snorted. "It'll be junk. We're gonna lose our ass if we make it. No one wants to watch shit like this. They never make any money."
"Oh yeah? Seems I remember a movie recently that had weather dumping sharks all over town. It was terrible. So were the two sequels. I hear they're thinking about number four. It still made the guys who came up with it shitloads of money."
"Why is so important to you? You're already rich. What do you need to prove?"
He went unusually quiet for a few minutes. When he started talking it was so low I had to strain to hear. "It's about doing something that's mine. Something that doesn't have anything to do with the businesses I inherited. You think I don't know what they're thinking? If I hadn't inherited this stuff, I wouldn't have a pot to piss in. If it wasn't for my board and managers, I'd have already lost everything. It's not true, but it's what they think. I wanna take this movie and cram it down the throat of every asshole I've had to deal with, wave the money around and laugh at them. So we have to make damn sure it's a success, understand?"
Wow. I knew how he felt. It was the same when I was struggling to be a successful writer, working dead end jobs just to keep fed and housed. It was why my wife left me for that asshole she took up with. Rubbed my face in the fact that her new man had a great career and money to spend on the nicer things of life, and I'd be a pathetic loser until the day I died. If she only knew. Our twentieth high school reunion was coming up. Maybe I'd show up in a limo, a sweet young thing that was almost young enough to be my daughter on my arm. Maybe two. Maybe not. I didn't really like most of the people I went to school with, and if they were assholes then, they were probably bigger assholes now.
I held my hand out. He shook it, wondering why.
"Now it's official. We're gonna make a movie. You better not lose my money, dickwad. And I get to name our company. Two Fools Productions. Has a ring to it, doesn't it?"
He grinned and raised his beer bottle. "Here's to two fools."
I clinked my bottle against his, privately thinking truer words had never been spoken.
My financial advisor had a fit when I had him move money around to pay my half. "This is the stupidest idea I've ever heard. Do you or your partner know anything at all about making movies?"
"Only if watching a whole bunch of them counts. Look, I know I'm probably pissing this money away. I might as well open a window and throw it out, for all the return I expect to get off it. But it is MY money, and I'm sure in your career you've seen people spend good money for the goofiest of reasons. Now, where do I need to sign?" I still had to promise to get a good accountant and save every receipt.
We got an entertainment lawyer, formed an LLC in case things really went South, rented a set of offices. "Kind of a lot for two guys, don't you think?"
He waved his hands around. "Oh, I expect things to change fairly quickly. We may need more than this soon."
The first order of business was to get a really good producer. We interviewed several, and I'm no expert on producing, but I am pretty good at reading people, and didn't like any of them. We had flown to LA, a town I've never really liked. Eric found an up and comer with a really good record in several decent films as an associate producer. I liked him immediately. He was direct, honest in his expectations of us as clients. I took lead on this interview, so I laid it out to him.
"I'll be the first to admit we have no clue what we've let ourselves for. This is why money won't be discussed until we find someone we can trust. Can we trust you?"
Probably a question he never expected to be asked. "Yes, you can trust me, as far as making the best movie possible within the financial constraints you have. Might not want to loan me ten bucks for lunch though. When I'm totally immersed in a project, things fall by the way. You can ask my wife. I eat, breathe, and live the project. It's even put a strain on our relationship in the past. Too bad she can't work on the project with us, it would make things a lot easier."
"Is she in entertainment also? In front or behind?," I asked, meaning which side of the camera. I had a vision of some leading woman wanna be shoving portfolios at us.
"Behind. She's a screen writer, pretty good one, if I say so myself. Already sold five scripts so far, and she's just on the edge of being really successful. We're working on a series, that she writes while I produce. It's really good, but everybody we've pitched it to wants to take it, and leave us out of the loop." He went on to tell of her successes. I'd even seen two. Pretty good stuff.
"Has she ever adapted a book to the screen?"
"No, but she's always wanted to try. Leah is a big sci-fi and fantasy nut, so she leans towards those things. I don't know if you've ever heard of them, but there's a series of books on line about a band of mercenary women, called 'Battle Babes', that she swears would make a great screen saga, or at the very least some very popular cable movies, most likely on HBO or Starz. They seem to love stuff like that. She says she doesn't believe a man wrote them, because of the insights occasionally, and the sex scenes. According to her, no man alive has ever processed emotions that well. "
Eric sat back grinning, and I wondered if he was going to spill the beans, but he didn't. "Really? I'm one of the few people in the world who can count Rock Stone a friend. Next time I see him I'll bring it up. Don't get your hopes up, he's already been approached twice, and wasn't interested either time. Oh, and he's definitely a guy."
"God, if I tell her that, she'll drive us all crazy. Best not to bring that up in conversation."
"Well, we are looking for a screenwriter. I mean, I wrote the story, but I know diddly all about screen writing. Have your wife come in and talk to us. Give her the story, let her think about it. And Dorian, we're not trying to make something that will win an Oscar for somebody. After all, it's a nod to the B movie genre. So we don't want it to be too good, now do we? You'll have to walk a pretty narrow path here, after all, it will be your first shot as co-executive producer. Your name will be right beside ours in the credits. Give it some thought and get back to us."
He called us back ten days later. "I'd like to give it a try, if you haven't gotten any one else yet. And my wife is definitely interested. She's done a little work on it, and wants to run it by you. I'm working right now. Eight weeks on an action-adventure. One of those high on car chases and explosion things, and low on actual plot. It's got some major players and a new up and comer in it, though, so maybe it'll get some good press. Let me know."
We got our lawyer to draw up the contract. Our responsibility was coming up with the money. His was everything else, with minimal oversight. Of course, he'd have to hire the associate producers and support staff we needed.
The meeting with his wife went well, as long as you kept her away from science fiction classics and fantasy movies. The woman knew almost every cheesy B movie by heart, even the old Ed Wood drivel. I thought for a minute she and Eric would slobber over each other. We thought she'd be perfect, once she understood we didn't want War and Peace. And truthfully, we don't really care up to a point how good it was. Oh, we'd like to recoup our investment, but you can never tell. We told ourselves going in it was just a very expensive indulgence, the only real return we expected was memories.
My latest Battle Babe book, Goddess of The Golden Galaxy, was the best selling in the franchise history. Even serious critics commented on it. Ed Silver of Critic's Choice said it was the best erotic romp he'd ever read. "Whoever Rock Stone really is should consider writing some serious stuff. The love scenes were exciting without being vulgar, erotic tapestries woven with skill and style. Some made my wife blush. And smile. And the unfolding of the interpersonal relationships showed insight into the human condition, revealing more personal details of the main characters than ever before, humanizing them, as it were. If he ever decides to write a romance, Issabella better keep an eye on her rearview mirror, because he'd be coming fast."
I couldn't help but grin when I read that. Maybe it was time for Issabella to get a little more risque.
Apparently, making a movie was pretty hard work. We had our producer, our screenwriter, a good lawyer, and a business manager, just to track the money. Leah, the writer, was a joy to work with. She was short, five one, a chunky little ball of fire with cheeks that dimpled when she smiled, flashing blue eyes, and long auburn hair that she usually wore in something I think was supposed to be a ponytail. Her usual attire was skintight jeans and a tee, with a movie logo or book cover on it. And the tees tended to be pretty tight. Sometimes she even wore a bra.
Eric was enthralled, and being the horndog he was I warned him off. "Don't fish in the company pond, Eric. Make a move on her and we lose our producer and screen writer in a flash. Don't you notice how Dorian tends to hover? Go bang one of those bimbette actresses or something and leave her alone."
Leah seemed to like me, though. Maybe because I was older, or maybe because I didn't drool when she was around me. Usually, after we got started, we tended to zone anyone else out and work. I liked her approach, and she reworked several things for translation to the screen that I would have never thought of, but worked really well. During breaks, she would tell me a little about their life.
"We grew up in the industry. Dorian's mother is a sound editor, and his father was one of the most sought after second unit directors around until he died in a car crash. In case you don't know, second unit directors were usually the ones that did all the action scenes, working closely with special effects people and stuntmen. He was one of the best, doing things that scared most directors to death.
My Mom was one of what I call professional pretty people. She could rock an evening gown, and looks good in a bikini, even now. As an extra, she was in big demand, for party and beach scenes. Even got a few lines in a couple of classics. She still does it. She met my dad on a shoot. My Dad, well, my Dad is Jerry Webber."
Jerry Webber was a pretty successful comedian a couple of decades back. He did the talk show circuit, even made a few movies himself. He was semi-retired now, and worked primarily in Vegas and Atlantic City.
"The fame got to him, and he got out of control, drugs and numerous affairs, until Mom just couldn't stand beside him anymore. The divorce shocked him, he thought she'd be there forever. Twelve years now, and he still sends her flowers, gifts, takes he out occasionally, but she hasn't forgiven him. Although since he's been clean for the last five years, I'm detecting a thaw. She kissed his cheek the last time they went out, and he walked right into a wall. Then she kissed his bruise, so he walked into the wall again. They were laughing like mad when they said goodnight."
I saw the wistfulness in her eyes, and decided to change the subject. "Well, honey, I'd say we've about beaten this thing to death. I'm declaring it done, except for the on the fly rewrites you'll have to do as we go. Ready to make a movie?" She was indeed.
Well hell, what was I doing in Canada on a pretty May morning?
Working, of course. While Eric's enthusiasm had waned when faced with the innumerable things it took to make a movie, I was enjoying the hell out of it. We were in Winnipeg, one of several places we were considering using as home base, and the government officials on all levels were trying to come up with a more enticing way to kiss our asses. Movies are big business in Canada, especially since costs had skyrocketed in the States. Many popular American series are actually filmed here. We were wined, dined, escorted every place we wanted to go. A few offered us extra incentives, anything from drugs to women. We dropped those places pretty quick. Well, Dorian and I did, I think Eric was a little tempted.
To be honest, if I had known how much work went into a movie, my million bucks would have never left my hands. What was called pre-production was pretty much done, and we were finishing the casting stage now. We had a casting director, and Leah and I tagged along to a few of the 'cattle calls', me just to see what it was like, Leah because she had a certain criteria she wanted met for the leads.
I was amazed at the first two. It was open auditions, and the crowds were tremendous. We'd decided to pretty much cast in country, maybe bring in a few better known character actors, but the bulk would be fresh faces, to Americans, anyway. Some were downright horrible. Some were pretty good. I sat at the table watching Leah and the casting guy compare notes, bored out of my mind, when THEY walked in. I knew who they were instantly. Kathy Kumms and Crimson Red.
Not their real names, of course. They were porn actresses. Pretty good porn actresses. I'd spent many a lonely night after my wife dumped me with one of their videos and a bottle of lotion. They'd made movies hot and heavy for about four years, then disappeared without a trace. I still pulled one up once in a while, because they were so damn hot. Both were on my bucket list.
Kathy was a willowy blonde with a nice rack and a killer ass. Besides the smoking hot body, she had a beautiful face and a great smile. Crimson Red was a natural redhead, and unlike most porn actresses, didn't go for the bald look. Her body and looks easily equaled Kathy, and their girl on girl action probably sparked more bi-sexual and lesbian adventures than alcohol, date rape drugs, and Viagra combined. Why the hell were they here?
I flagged down Leah while they were filling out their paperwork. "See the redhead and the blonde over there?"
She giggled. "Yeah. So did every guy in the room, and most of the women. Why?"
"I think I know them, but I'm not sure. The redhead would be perfect for the biologist's sidekick, wouldn't she? And the blonde, put a lab coat and big glasses on her, and she's the biologist, almost exactly the way I described her in the story. Can you get Jerry to have them read before I leave?"
"Sure. Jerry had the same thoughts when he saw them. How bad do you want them?"
I looked at her expression. "Get your mind out of your panties, girl. I've never interfered with a casting decision yet, and I'm not about to start now. If they can't act, out they go. I just find them...interesting."
She colored a little bit when I spoke, but recovered nicely. "All right. But tell the truth, you think they're hot! And if the opportunity came up, you'd be all over them."
I grinned. "Faster than you could ever imagine. But let's be clear here. There will be no 'casting couch' decisions on this set. It's one of the reasons we picked Jerry to start with, and why I'm just an observer here. Thinking with your little head leads to some pretty poor decisions, just ask Eric."
Eric was back in the States, nursing bruises and a cracked rib for screwing somebody's wife. I always told him sooner or later he was going to run into some guy who took marriage vows seriously, whether the wife did or not. I hope it taught him something. There's just too many willing girls who are unattached out there. A few dates, a little attention, most times that was all it took. But then again, it's human nature to desire what you can't have. Never ends well, though.
So I sat through several readings, spectacularly unimpressed with most. There was one guy who impressed me as the nerd in the story. I saw Leah and Jerry making notes, and knew he'd get a call back. Finally Kathy got to read.
It was surprisingly good, for a cold reading. She was hoping for a minor part, and was really surprised when they had her read for the biologist. I could see her in her lab coat, lecturing the other characters. Again, judging by the notes, there would be a call back.
The redhead was quite good, reading for the sidekick part. They were almost done when I asked a question, the first ever in the time I'd been observing.
"Can you scream?"
They looked at me blankly. "This character does a lot of screaming. We need to know how good her scream is."
The redhead just grinned, drew in a big breath, and let out a scream that sent chills down my spine. I nodded and thanked her, while Jerry and Leah scribbled furiously.
They got a call back, as well as the guy we thought would be perfect for the nerd, and a few more they thought would be good for minor parts. I made sure to attend. They'd studied the script by then, and both were very good. When I saw Kathy(her real name, Cathy Wiggins)in a lab coat, hair in a bun, large glasses perched on her nose, giving a serious lecture about the discovery of a new breed of bear, I almost believed her. If anything, she was too good. Crimson Red(real name Victoria Cross, like the medal, she'd say) was almost as good, but since a good bit of her dialogue was screaming, it really didn't matter.
We hired the guy for the nerd part, as well as a number of native actors for bit parts, and the sweat lodge scene. We explained it would involve full nudity, and while a few refused, most were all right with it. It made me realize just how far people were willing to go to get parts. We also hired two more natives for pretty sizable parts, integral to the story.
Eric was back, healed, and eager to go. I hoped he'd learned something, but I had my doubts. He was especially keen on Cathy and Tory, as Victoria asked to be called. I knew if he ever found out about their porn background it could get a little sticky. He was also smitten by one of the natives, a cute little woman even more petite than Leah. I got a bad vibe watching him chat her up.
I caught her after he'd left, and asked for a word with Leah and I. I found out she was just barely eighteen, and her name was Sylvia Shining Elk. Her parents thought she was still in school, but she'd dropped out to pursue acting.
"I just want you to know you already have the part, and you don't have to be in the sweat lodge scene if you don't want to. I know you're of legal age, and can make your own decisions, but I urge you to think about it. You don't want to be labeled, and end up typecast, getting naked native parts and little else."
Leah put her hand on her arm. "He's right. Take it from someone who grew up in this business. Actresses are a dime a dozen, honey, and producers know it. They feed on desperation, and many times the poor girls make decisions that affect their life for years to come. Free advice here. You're good, or you wouldn't have gotten the part. Maybe this will lead to bigger things. But if I were you, I'd continue my education, have something you can fall back on if the parts dry up."
She looked back and forth, trying to judge our sincerity before she let out a sigh and a tear trickled down her cheek. "Thank you, for the advice and for giving me a choice. I would prefer not to do the nude scene, I'm not to the point in my career that I'm comfortable with it. Let me ask a hypothetical question. If someone connected with the movie, someone pretty high in the food chain suggests that me 'being good' to them would help my career and I refuse, do I still have the job?"
"Absolutely. If something like that comes along, tell Dorian, Leah, or me if I'm around. We'll take care of it. Understand?"
She nodded shyly, hugged Leah, and left. She looked over at me. "You need to talk to him. He's letting it go to his head. You're not from this world, but it can be very ugly, especially if you let the power get to you. Producers are like minor Gods, they can have complete control over your career. And sadly, most people bitten with the acting bug, male as well as females, will do just about anything to attain stardom."
I looked at her and sighed. "I don't think I like your world very much. Has it ever happened to you?"
"Twice. I lost one job because of it, I managed to finish the second, but I made it clear neither Dorian or I would ever be interested in working with her again. Luckily it didn't affect our careers, she isn't very well thought of."
It was a depressing conversation, so I stopped it, promising to talk to Eric.
I cornered Eric at our hotel, telling him I needed a quick word about possible locations. He let me into his suite, grinning. I got right to the point. "I talked to Sylvia Shining Elk. Don't deny what you're doing. The poor girl is only eighteen. What were you thinking? And just so you know, there will be no date with her."
He actually got a little pissed at me. "Listen DAD, what I do with willing females is none of your business."
"You're absolutely right, but I think you've blurred the line on willing. Ease up a little, you're young, good looking, rich, you can get most any woman you want. But you need to be a little more selective. How's the rib?"
He touched his side, wincing slightly. "Still hurts if I bump it. I don't know why he was so pissed, it was only a little sex. I was no threat to him or his marriage."
"I can't believe you said that. She was married, and you knew it. When you get married you make certain promises, promises you're supposed to keep. I can tell you from being on the other side that it hurts. Was the pussy worth the ass kicking you got? Are they still together?"
"Separated. She calls me constantly, whining about what we did. Says she still loves him, then asks when we can get together again. He threw her out with nothing. I'm not a complete asshole, so I gave her a little money, paid for an apartment for six months, shit, I'm even paying for the marriage counseling. I eased her down, apologized for messing with her marriage, and thought it best we not see each other until she resolves things with her husband."
Well, that earned him points. "Good. Now back to what I was saying. Stop it. You're putting pressure on those poor girls, whether you mean to or not. Every time you talk to one of them they're wondering if today is the day you make them a proposition."
"What about you? You didn't see at least one of them you wanted?"
"I see a bunch of them I want, but I'm not going to make a move on them. When this thing is over, and it's wrapped, I may ask one or two out, but that's months down the road. Besides, I've got Dolly, and she keeps me pretty busy."
He couldn't help but grin. Dolly was the girl he stood up to read the script. I enjoyed her company so much I asked her out again. And again, until finally we settled into a semi-serious relationship. She wasn't quite moved in, but she spent most of her time at my condo.
Her real name was Cindy, and at twenty-four she was way too young for me, but she was intelligent, good looking, and fun to be with. And as a bonus, the sex was really, really good. She had come with me, I'd even gotten her a job as an assistant to the business manager. My one act of nepotism. Not many knew of our relationship, and while I didn't care, it was probably best. She was smitten by the business, was even trying to talk me into paying for acting lessons. When she said that I knew I had a limited shelf life. Reflecting, it didn't bother me as much as I thought it would. I think the experience with my ex had burned me out on permanent relationships. I had made peace with it.
I hoped Eric got the point, as as the days passed I forgot about it. We had pretty much filled all the parts, got everything we needed to go forward. There had even been some filming, which I got to see. It was on an island off the coast. They had gotten a bunch of Polar bears and after dying their ears and paws, turned them loose. I wondered how that managed to happen, until I saw three wildlife agents and a real biologist, there to make sure the bears weren't stressed. I wondered how capturing the bears, tranquilizing them, dyeing their fur, and turning them loose in a strange environment didn't stress them, but kept my mouth shut. They filmed carefully, they were after all very large, very dangerous animals. After three weeks, they declared they had enough footage, and transferred the bears back to their home territory.
It was confusing to me because the film wasn't shot chronologically. They might spend two days filming scenes that took place in the middle of the movie, a week filming the ending, then spend the next on the beginning. The whole thing was monotonous and boring, sometimes they'd do twenty takes(sometimes twice that) of the same scene. The director we'd hired, on the recommendation of Dorian and Leah, was pretty good. He wasn't a prima donna, but he wasn't all business either. I remembered the interview.
"I don't know how other directors approach a film, but this is how I do it. I'm like, say, a plumber you hire to fix your pipes. I'm not there to change your whole system, I'm there to fix your problem. If there's a better way I'll suggest it, but in the end it's not my pipes, so I'll do it the way you say. All I can hope for is that it holds water when I'm done."
We interviewed three more, just in case. I wasn't impressed with the first two, and the third was a total nut job. "IF I agree to do this, I'll want complete control. If I don't like an actor, a cameraman, the scriptwriter, they're gone. I may even change the direction of the movie if I don't like it. No one, absolutely no one, may override one of my decisions. And what you're offering isn't enough, I'll require at least a third more. I also want..."
He stopped because I had started laughing. When he asked what I found funny I told him.
"You. You're the most hilarious thing I've seen in months. Tell me, how do you avoid bumping into things when you walk around with your head so far up your ass? I checked on you, you know. Fired from your last two jobs. If your father wasn't such a powerhouse in the industry, you wouldn't be working at all. You need to get a grip, and realize the world doesn't revolve around you. You're interviewing for a job, dumbass. A job you don't have a chance in hell of getting with that attitude. Have a nice life."
He flew into a rage, threatening to have his father ruin me. I laughed until I had tears streaming down my cheeks. Dorian and Leah, as well as a few others in the room couldn't help it, and laughed along.
"Think I give a fuck who your father is? This is a vanity project for us. We supply all the money, so we get a big say in things. I probably don't have as much money as your father does, but I'm not broke. And this isn't my world, once this is done I'll walk away from it. So get up and walk your self important ass out of here. We're done."
In the end, we had to have him escorted out. He was still ranting when they left him on the curb. Interestingly enough, I got as call from his father a few days later. There was no preamble, he got right into it. "I hear you were pretty rough on my boy."
I agreed, which I think surprised him. "Yes I was. He needed a good dose of reality, so I gave it to him. You know, whether you'll admit it or not, that with his attitude he has a limited future. Oh, a few will hire him as a favor maybe, but if he has to stand on his own he'll never get a job."
I was kind of shocked when he thanked me. "I'm glad you did it. Everyone else would have been gentler, because of me. I hope he learned a lesson from it. I refused to do anything when he whined to me, but I did check you guys out. I know how your partner got his money, but there isn't much of a paper trail on you, or how you came by your money. I find that interesting, but see no reason to pursue it." What he said next surprised me.
"When you get done with your little project, give me a call. I have a distribution company, and we might be interested."
Well. Never expected that. I told Leah about the conversation and her mouth flew open. "That would be wild. He's a major player, this would open doors and get us a lot of press, and press translates to dollars."
I shrugged. This wasn't my day job. If Leah and Dorian, or the rest of the people working on the project got some mileage out of it, good for them.
I was still writing, after all, it was what I did. My newest Issabella book was taking shape, and I was quite pleased with it. There were a lot more sex scenes this time, in keeping with what the reviewer had said. I was down to the end, and had three directions I wanted to take. Unable to decide, I wrote all three, then I called Leah in. She still didn't know what I did, just accepted I was one of the idle rich, like Eric. Once she told me I wrote well enough to consider it a career, and I just shrugged.
"I need your word, your absolute bond, that you will tell no one what I'm about to reveal. I'm doing it because I trust you, and need a professional opinion. Do you agree?"
Of course she agreed. Curiosity was consuming her, and after all, she was a woman. I opened the file. "I want you to read this. Here. In this room. It doesn't go out of here, understand? It should take about two hours, so if you can't do it now schedule a time you can. And Leah, you can't tell a soul, no one, not even Dorian. Do you agree?"
She looked from the screen and back at me several times, but in the end female curiosity got the better of her. "Now would be good for me. And I promise, not a word."
"Good. I need to see Dorian about a few things, and talk to our business manager. I think it looks like we might go over budget, and I want to make a few adjustments."
I left her, and went to my meetings. Two and a half hours later I walked into my suite, to see an almost empty box of tissues, the rest strew across the floor. She looked at me like I was from Mars or something. I just grinned at her and asked what she thought.
"You really wrote this?" I nodded, watching her face. "It's wonderful! I've already got half the screenplay written in my head. It'll make a killer movie. You should publish it. I'm sure somebody will be interested."
"I already have a publisher. I've even got the name I'm going to write under. It'll be a woman's name. Want to know what it is?" Of course she did.
Her hands flew to her mouth and her eyes widened. "Really?"
"Yes, really. Remember, you promised not to tell."
"Oh shit, oh wow! Now I know where your money comes from. I gotta tell you, I think the screenwriter on the last movie butchered the script. It could have been a lot better. Does anyone else know?"
"Just Eric, and believe it or not, he can keep a secret. And I agree with you about the last movie. If this one goes to the screen, well, I know more about moviemaking now, and I'll retain a lot more control. Know any good screenwriters or producers? Think about it. Now, which ending did you prefer?"
She was in her element here, and her response was immediate. "The middle ending. The first was too strong, the third was too wishy-washy, for lack of a better term. Actually, you should bring in some overtones of both the other endings, for balance."
I smiled. It was exactly how I felt, but it was nice to hear it from someone else. I pulled up a fouth file. "Something like this?"
It took her twenty minutes to read. She had tears in her eyes but a smile on her face. "Damn near perfect. Now I want you to listen to me. If you give anyone else the screenplay, I'll hunt you down, and when I'm done, you'll be a lot closer to a real Issabella, because I'll do some serious damage to your equipment. You hearing me?"
She said it with a smile, but the look in her eyes was enough to make me take her at her word. "Agreed. If I decide to let it go to the screen, you get first option, but only if Dorian is included in the deal." The big smile was back, then she frowned.
"How can I keep this from my husband? He can look me in the face and know something is up."
"All you need to tell him is that I confided a big secret in you, and you can't tell him just now. Then say no more. If he trusts you he'll let it go. When we decide to make the movie, you can tell him."
She left, after I promised her she could have a copy to use for work on the script.
All the sound stage work was done by now. It was late October. The snow had fallen, so it was time for the location shots. I grinned, thinking about Savanna in her shorts. We had hired her, because with her body shape she was perfect for the part. Jet black, she had a huge rack and a very plump bottom. Tory and Cathy had recommended her, so they let her read. I suspected she had a background in porn, but wasn't sure. I was amazed no one had made the connection, especially in the topless scenes.
We had found our leading man in Canadian television. He had the rugged good looks and the natural accent we were looking for. He was fine until we were almost done shooting. He was arrogant and demanding more of the focus than the film called for. It got so bad they called me in. Eric didn't like to handle the hard stuff.
"I hear we've got a problem."
He looked at me, arrogance on his face. "I think the focus needs to shift to me. After all, I am the leading man. The blonde and the redhead are just window dressing."
I sighed. The girls were actually better actors than he was. "Mr Fielding, you were hired to do a job. You read the script, knew the direction the film was taking. What makes you possibly think we're going to change directions two thirds of the way through? Now, I suggest you do your job, follow directions, and get this thing done. There will be no rewrites, and the script stands, unless I say otherwise. Understand?"
He sputtered and fumed, but when I threatened to fire him immediately and reshoot his scenes with another actor, he shut up. He glowered at me though, and I knew I'd have to watch him. His revenge caught me by surprise. He went after Cindy, and got her, making sure I knew.
I decided to follow his script, walking in on them. It didn't hurt me nearly as bad as they expected it to. I knew she was short term. I just sighed.
"You could have at least had the decency to have not used my bed. Now, your point has been proven, so I suggest you both leave." He smirked, enjoying the scene immensely.
"I don't think I'm done yet," he said, reaching for her. She had slid all the way across the bed, huddling under the covers.
"I think you are," I replied, grabbing him by the long hair he was so proud of and dragging him off the bed to his hands and knees. He moaned and cursed as I dragged him along, still on his hands and knees, until we got to the door, kicking him through it to sprawl naked on the floor. I then shut and locked the door. He'd have a bruise or two on his ass tomorrow, I hoped. His room was three floors down. It took him about fifteen minutes of pounding before he realized I wasn't going to open the door. A maid finally felt sorry for him and brought him a robe. A lot of people had seen him, and word spread all over the hotel. At dinner that night there were quite a few giggles and a couple of outright laughs when he walked in. He turned around and went back upstairs, ordering room service.
Cindy, well Cindy was sorry. She never meant to, he was just too persuasive, too handsome, she was a little buzzed, a whole host of platitudes and excuses until she ran down.
"I get it. Doesn't matter, we were probably going to split soon anyway. I just wish you'd have come to me, ended it on good terms. Don't worry, you still have your job, and I won't speak ill of you. But you're moving out of my suite, right now. Get dressed, get packed, and I'll have a room for you by the time you're done."
She started to protest but I shut her down. "Don't. Leave with a little dignity, don't force me to throw you out, because I will if you push it. What's done is done, and you can't change it. Oh, and it wasn't about you. He could give a shit less about you. This was about me and him, and revenge. I hope he dug two graves, because I'm about to bury him. My advice would be to stay as far away from him as possible in the near future."
She left, and I lay back on the couch, thinking.
Three days later you could hear him screaming all over the set. "Bullshit! I won't fucking do it. I'll quit first."
Leah and I stared at him. She had a small grin on her face. Dorian just sighed. "If that's how you feel. If you do, it'll be really hard to find work for awhile. No one is gonna hire somebody who quits when a project is three quarters through. It will cost us a little but we can find somebody else and reshoot. We release you. Go home, have a good life."
His face said it all. In his wildest dreams, he never thought we'd tell him to go. "I'll get a lawyer! I'll sue your ass off!"
"Over what?," I asked calmly, "we're not the ones breaking the contract. Rewrites happen all the time. You even suggested it. The director and producers agree with the plot change. You're just an actor, and you have no input into such decisions. Now either go do your job, or leave. Tonight."
He called his agent. He called a lawyer. Both told him the same thing. Suck it up and finish, or suffer the consequences. In the end he stayed because he really had no choice. I made sure I was present when they shot his final scene, him obviously wetting his pants while running from a bear, screaming like a girl. I actually had them dub in a girl screaming to make it more realistic. I felt eyes on me, and looked up to see Cathy. She had a little half grin on her face as she nodded. Later, we met in the meal line. She invited me back to her table with Tory and Savanna.
Of course I went. I hadn't talked to either of them very much, it just seemed I was always doing something else when they shot. They both eyed me coolly, like they were expecting something.
Tory finally broke through the idle chitchat. "You know, don't you?"
"I know a lot of things. Which specific thing are you speaking of?"
"Oh, he's cute, and clever. Stop pretending, we can see it in your eyes. You know about our past. How come you've never said anything?"
I shrugged. "It never came up in a conversation where it was relative to the subject. Yes, I remember you. You and Cathy right away. It took me a while to remember Savanna. Modern Jungle Love is the one I finally remembered."
I didn't elaborate. They knew I knew, so it had to be on their minds. Cathy brought her thoughts into the conversation. "Why did you cast us, knowing our past?"
"In the first place, I didn't cast you, the casting director, the scriptwriter, and the producer cast you. I was just an observer. I'm curious though, since it's out in the open. Where have you been? None of you have done porn in at least four years."
We were talking quietly, because we didn't want anyone to hear. Tory suggested we take it up in private, so we decided to meet in one of the hotel conference rooms at nine. It had me wondering what they wanted to talk about.
They gave us a small room, that even had a fireplace. It had a small conference table, and couches scattered about if you wanted to be a bit less formal. The hotel was old, and had been added on many times over the years, but the core remained, down to fireplaces. I'd asked for and gotten a small bar set up, not knowing what they wanted to drink, of if they even drank at all. I started a fire, for atmosphere.
To my surprise, when they showed up, they had Dorian, Leah, Savanna, and Eric with them. Eric had just gotten back, he still held his meetings, watching his money, as he put it. I raised an eyebrow. Cathy shrugged. "Dorian was telling me about a project he has coming up, and that there might be a part in it for me or Tory, or both. We both wanted to tell him the truth, see if he still wants us. He has no secrets from Leah, and Eric deserves to know because of his investment. But first, let's relax for a bit."
I knew she wanted a little alcohol in them to soften the news, so I started mixing drinks. After about an hour, we all ended up sitting at the small conference table. Tory took the lead.
"I'm about to tell you some things you might not want to hear. Dorian, I'll understand if you don't want us with you on your next film when we're done. Savanna, Cathy, and I all have a film background. I can't speak for Savanna, but Cathy and I have made forty-three films together."
"I don't understand," said Dorian. "Forty-three films? Why don't I remember you?"
"Because they were all porn films, honey," Cathy explained, "and it's been over four years since our last one. What you have before you are three verified porn stars. Look us up, we're on the internet. Our residuals are actually pretty good. But you need to understand, we haven't, Tory and I anyway, done that for years."
There was absolute silence in the room. Everyone seemed shocked, with the exception of Leah. I knew instantly she'd known or they had told her at some point. I watched Cathy, and while she didn't seemed ashamed, she didn't look happy either. Dorian wondered out loud if it would affect the movie.
"Of course it will," I said, grinning, "think I'll be the only one in the universe who recognizes them? But you know what? They did a good job in their roles. I think it will add a new dimension to the film. A little notoriety can be a good thing. A certain segment of the audience will want to watch just because of them. That's perfect for a B movie. Press is press."
Tory looked up sharply. "You're going to exploit our past for the movie?"
"Not at all, but we'll probably end up exploiting your present. I can speak for everyone when I tell you the knowledge won't leave this room if you ask. But like I said, people will recognize you, guys my age anyway. If you weren't prepared for that, you shouldn't have taken the roles."
Cathy put a hand on her arm, more of a little caress. "Calm down, honey. We talked about just this type of situation before we decided to do this. Who cares if they figure out who we were?"
I noted the caress and smiled. It verified what I suspected. They were a couple. That explained why they shot down all the people who had hit on them for the last few months. She caught my smile.
"That's right, Will. I see you get it. We're in a serious relationship, have been since the porn days. Problem with that?"
It was said with a firmness that brooked no argument. "Why should it? I don't recall if we asked when you interviewed for the part if you were in a relationship with anyone. Like everyone else involved, what happens outside the set isn't my concern. Nor is it anyone else's in this room. But tell me, why come out now?"
Tory answered. "Because you were good to us. You, at least, never hit on us(she gave a sharp look to Eric, who just grinned)or offered to expose us. You needed to know this before the film was released, to be prepared for the press we'll probably get. Of course, you can edit us out, get new actresses, and reshoot."
"The film is almost in the can. We're not going to the expense of hiring new actresses and refilming. You stay in." Everyone looked at Leah, surprised by her statement. "Like Will said, it will get the film attention whether we want it of not. Best to be on top of it. You may have to do interviews to pitch it, are you up for that? If not, we'll spin it as respect for your privacy, which is what it will be. It'll add a little mystery to the film. Like he said, press is press."
They looked thoughtful for a second, before Savanna spoke. "Screw it. In the unlikely event we get interviewed, we'll talk about the film and nothing else. Now, let's do some serious drinking."
So we did.
We were still sitting around the conference table, bottles piled in front of us. I'd chosen straight rye, my favorite, and while everyone else proceeded to get blasted, I just sipped. The conversation went all over the place, until it finally came to romance. Dorian and Leah told how they got together. Savanna was between relationships, and she and Eric ended up beside each other, flirting lightly. Now that they had come clean, Cathy and Tory gave each other loving touches, even kissing a few times. Inevitably, they got around to me.
"Sorry about Cindy." Tory was talking, watching me closely. I shrugged.
"I'll miss her, she was a lot of fun, and was a great dancer. But she was just too young for me, and except for sex and dancing, we really didn't share many interests. I knew I had an expiration date going in, I just didn't expect it to be so soon."
Cathy wanted to know why I became involved if I knew it wasn't going to last. "She was fun. Capable of holding a conversation. And she was a tiger in bed. I wasn't looking for anything else."
"No serious relationships in your past?"
"A wife, years ago. She left me for a man with more money, wanting the high life, I think. Called me a loser and said I'd never amount to anything in this life. It kind of soured me on anything permanent." I looked around the room, at the three couples, Dorian and Leah, snuggled together, Eric and Savanna lightly touching, Tory and Cathy sitting so close Tory was almost on her lap. I was the odd man out. With that thought I prepared to leave.
Tory grinned. "I think she may have miscalculated in this case. I don't know exactly what you do, but you seem successful at it. What do you do beside writing stories that turn into films?"
I was deciding how to answer that when Eric spoke up. "He's a real life Wizard." Nobody understood what he was talking about, and I gave him a warning look, that he completely ignored.
"A wizard? Really? What kind of magic does he do?" This from Leah, grinning. I had the feeling I was about to be outted.
"He's a Wordweaver." Eric was smirking while I shot another dirty look at him.
"Words? How do you weave words?" This from a buzzed Savanna.
"Oh, he sings songs of seduction. I've seen him work. it's awesome."
"Eric! Enough!" But it was too late. Cathy looked at me, a slight smirk on her face.
"Really? Sing us a song of seduction, Wizard. See if you can impress us."
I was a little pissed by now, a little buzzed, so I looked them up and down, starting with Leah. "The pixie smiled, working her charms on the man of her dreams. A tiny wood nymph, oozing sensuality as she seduces her chosen one. Her petite frame is designed to entice, her attributes making the man weak with desire. Tiny nipples, sitting high on her chest, hardened beacons of her intent. Her body was firm, vibrating with arousal, as she teased her prospective mate."
Leah, of course, wasn't wearing a bra, and her nipples popped straight out while she flushed. Unconsciously, she stuck her chest out, making the nipples more prominent. I continued, in the crooning voice I had used on the Goddess.
"The man, overcome with desire he can't understand, stands before her. Right now, in this moment, he would do anything she asked, his desire to worship her exceeding all reason. He touches her, and the feeling courses through his body. He must have her. Now."
"The pixie smiles, knowing her magic has worked. She guides him down to the moss in the glen, dropping her simple covering, exposing the nubile, toned body. The breasts firm and as beautiful as he suspected. Her tiny waist flares out into generous hips, the tangle of sparse pubic hair visible between her legs, the lips swollen and leaking with arousal. She mounts him, not in dominance, but love, and rides him to a crashing climax, before rolling over, offering him her body in the classic position, submissive but still in control. The man moves with an urgency he'd never felt before. The forest stills, the birds and animals at some level realizing what they were witnessing, before bursting forth in songs of joy, knowing that a new life had been created, as the man slows, and then falls beside the pixie, who gazes at him with loving eyes, knowing he is now hers."
Leah had a glazed look in her eyes, flushing in waves, the color going from deep red to bright pink. She was snuggled tightly against her husband. Judging form their positions, I knew they were fondling each other under the table. I looked at Savanna and Eric, eyes wide at what they'd witnessed.
"The explorer stood before her, a Nubian fertility goddess, made flesh. Her pendulous breasts, badges of femininity and motherhood. Her wide hips, indicators of her child bearing capabilities, sway gently as she walked towards him, the curly tangles of her silky pubic hairs glistening. She reaches for him, words still unspoken, and pulls him to her. She feels the stirrings of his desire, and he feels the soft breasts against his chest, aching to be filled with the milk of life.
The contrast of skin tones heighten their arousal. She tugs at his clothing, and he tries frantically to rip them off. Finally exposed, they fondle each other, committing the feel to memory, implanting it on their genetic makeup. She drops to her hands and knees, looking back over her shoulder, her eyes begging him to take her. They do not make love. They mate, rutting together with intensity and purpose. She screams while he grunts, racing towards his finish, unable to stop. With one last scream, she drops her head down, leaving her hips in the air to better receive his seed, while he collapses over her, spent. They stay this way for a few minutes, until she slowly starts undulating her hips, the muscles of her core caressing him softly, until he is ready, and they mate again, more slowly, enjoying the sensations, affirming an unspoken commitment to each other."
Savanna is breathing raggedly, wiggling in her chair. When Eric reaches for her she flies into his arms, almost upsetting both their chairs. They start kissing and fondling, in seeming desperation.
Finally, I looked at Cathy and Tory, their eyes almost begging for their story.
"They stand before each other, stunning symbols of sapphic beauty, fire and sun. Their bodies are perfect, the crimson haired temptress, with fire above and below, the blonde, outshining the disc in their sky. The flames of their passion burn brightly. Even though they know the body before them in intimate detail, it still manages to arouse, knowing the delights it holds. They love each other, not for procreation, but for the beauty of the act. Mortal men, seeing them, weep with frustration and desire, knowing such beauty is denied them. They lie, together, in passion and afterglow, clinging to each other, united to the world."
Every nipple in the room was prominently displayed. The glazed looks and passionate moans told me my work here was done. Damn Eric, anyway. I stood, and walked to the door.
Cathy broke from a deep kiss, looking at me oddly.
"What about the Wizard?"
"Alas, the Wizard has no mate. Perhaps it is his destiny to walk this path alone. Good night, my children. Passionate dreams."
I went down to the bar still in full Wizard mode, and forty-five minutes later I had a young beauty in my suite. I was careful to pull someone not associated with the movie. Inspired by the events of the night, we didn't stop until almost three. I have to admit as I pounded her I imagined in turn a blonde, a redhead, an auburn haired nymph, and an ebony goddess in my head.
Leah jumped me at breakfast. "How do you do that?"
"You know, what you did last night. It was almost an orgy after you left. Dorian had my shirt off, Eric and Savanna were on the couch fucking in front of all of us, and it was all Cathy and Tory could do to stay clothed long enough to make it to their room. I came to my senses long enough to get my shirt back on and tug Dorian to our room. My shirt was off again before we made it, and I led him inside by his dick. Some little old lady got an eyefull last night."
She giggled at the memory. "He still isn't up yet. Poor baby, I just couldn't seem to leave him alone. I haven't told you, but we're trying for a baby. It's been six months and nothing, but if I'm not pregnant after last night, I don't think I ever will be. If it's a boy, his middle name will be William."
"I thank you for the compliment. How do I do it? No idea. It came to me after my wife left me, in one of my darkest times. I decided to see if I could seduce someone with just words, with no physical touch at all, and I tried it in a bar one night. I was amazed when not one, but two women shared my bed that night. I've only done it three times since then, and unfortunately, Eric got to witness it once."
Cathy and Tory came in, and I stood as they approached the table, seating them before I returned to my breakfast.
"Mah, mah, Ah declare, a man with manners. Good morning to you, sugah, sleep well?" I grinned at Cathy's faked southern accent, before returning it in kind with my real one.
"Like a rock, ma'am," I said mournfully, my accent genuine, "all alone in my big ol' bed, pining for what I'll never have."
Tory snorted. "It might have been a big ol' bed, but I'm pretty sure you weren't in it alone. A little birdie told me the Wizard paid a visit to the bar, and charmed a sweet young thing out of her clothes and into that bed."
I shrugged. "Even a wizard has needs."
"Well Wizard, the next time you feel 'need', look us up. For such a magnificent specimen of manhood as yourself, we're willing to share, as long as we each get a turn." Cathy batted her eyes outrageously as she spoke.
Leah listened to the verbal sparring, hanging on every word. Why did I feel like it was going to show up in a screenplay somewhere? "Well, that's a very attractive offer. Very attractive indeed. But to give a mortal a taste of heaven, and then take it away from him, would destroy him. I'm sure I'd never be the same again, a mere shell of what I once was. And as I said last night, I don't interfere in relationships."
Tory smiled, "oh, for the right person, you'd find our relationship very open. You might be what we're looking for, a permanent partner, someone to balance us out."
I had the feeling she was semi-serious, which made me very nervous, but I continued our banter. "You'd wish an early death on me? There is no way I could keep up with one of you beauties. Two? I'd look like I was sixty in a year, dead the year after. But you know what, it would probably be worth it."
They both glowed. Cathy licked her lips, slowly, flicking her tongue out. " I do believe we'd be gentle on you for a little while. After all, we have each other if you're not up to it."
I rose, grinning, my breakfast finished. "You'll have to excuse me. Recent events have left me quite faint. I think I need to lie down. Leah, best of luck." I kissed her cheek and started to leave.
Two steps away, I was called back. Cathy offered me her cheek. "I feel slighted, as does Tory. Kiss!"
I started to kiss her cheek when she suddenly turned, grabbed my head, and gave me a full on kiss, holding it for several seconds. She licked her lips and grinned at Tory. "Potential," she said.
"If you don't mind, I'll judge for myself," Victoria said with a grin. Her kiss seemed longer, her tongue knocking at my door, wanting to be let in. Going with the flow, I returned it, far longer and deeper than she expected. She was breathing heavily and her face was flushed, her lips still puckered, when I pulled back. The other girls looked on in amazement while she recovered. I was again two steps away when she gathered enough breath to speak. "Definite potential."
I was almost out of the room when Cathy called out. "You owe me a better kiss, Wizard! And I always collect on a debt."
I turned, bowing deeply. "At your convenience, Princess." I'm sure the dining room buzzed when I left, we weren't exactly quiet, or discrete.
Back in my suite, I got my laptop and started scribbling notes, working on some new plot ideas for my mystery series. Eric staggered in, looking like a wrung out dishrag.
"Rough night?," I asked, grinning.
"I think I'm in love." I just rolled my eyes. he thought he was in love every time a woman impressed him in bed.
"I mean it, Will. The woman had skills, I kid you not. But it wasn't that. I felt like our souls connected."
This was new. I'd never heard him say anything near that before.
"Stop and think, Eric. You don't know the woman at all. I don't want to hurt your feelings here, but consider it. She was in serious heat, just like you, and you were available. Don't make it more than it was."
He seemed offended, somehow. "Well, I'm going to see where it takes me."
I just nodded.
The movie was in the can. One year, almost, of my life, but it was worth it. I'd learned a lot, deciding I really liked the movie business. So did Eric. We were seriously considering doing something else, if we could find the right project.
As it wound down, Eric and Savanna grew closer. Six weeks after the conference room incident, Leah rushed in, smothering me with kisses and hugs, crying hysterically. Unable to talk, she held something up. An early pregnancy test, showing positive. Cathy and Tory were still hanging around, even though their parts were long completed, and for some reason they were always nearby. They pulled her off me, doing a little three way dance, tears pouring from all of them.
When they calmed down, I caught Tory and Cathy looking at me like they were judging a bull for breeding purposes. It made me very, very nervous. I asked them if they didn't need to go home to their day jobs. They laughed.
"Honey(they seemed to enjoy calling me that)we started doing porn when I was nineteen and Tory was twenty. We were broke, no prospect for furthering our education, looking at low end, minimum wage jobs for the rest of our lives. The best we could hope for was marrying well, an option that didn't appeal to us. We actually went into porn on a calculated risk. We hated it, crying on each other. I actually threw up for the first three films. But we toughened up, and watched everything, saving our money. After the second year, we not only starred in our films, we produced and distributed them. We made one about every three to four weeks, and netted about twenty-five grand off every one. When we made what we needed, we quit, cold turkey. Since then, we've both gotten degrees, mine in economics, hers in business. We had moved up here, where we weren't so well known, and got jobs in our fields. We're both worth about a million two, and our return on investments exceed our needs. So right now, we've decided to be ladies of leisure. As a hobby, we've decided to take up hunting."
I couldn't see them with guns, so I asked what they were hunting. "You'll know soon enough. When we bag him, we'll mount him while he stuffs us. What do you think?"
"I think you need to think this through. You obviously love each other. Why would you take the chance of messing that up? What could another partner give you that you you don't already have?"
"Babies," said Tory, a faraway look in her eyes.
"Yeah, honey, our little clocks are ticking. Tick-tock, tick-tock." Cathy was enjoying the look on my face.
"You know you don't have to actually have a partner to have a baby nowadays, why not take that route?"
"Because, HONEY, our babies need to know their father. We don't want any random sperm. We want yours. There. We've said it. We'd like you to consider a relationship, hopefully permanent, with us."
I'd known it was coming. I was a little dense sometimes whem it came to women, but not that dense. I still couldn't understand why, why me of all people. Oh, I was personable, not repulsive to look at, had a really nice bank account(though I doubted they knew how much), but really, why me? Curiosity got me, and I surprised them.
"All right, let's get to know each other better. How about a date? Tonight, in the hotel ballroom. They've got a really good band tonight, feel up to a little dancing? Before you say yes, consider this. It's a date, not a commitment. Goodnight kisses are expected, but there will be no sex. Understood? This is a get to know you date, not a get to know you biblically date."
They looked at each other, a nonverbal discussion going on between them. Tory finally looked at me. "We'd love to go out with you tonight, honey. What time should we be ready? Dress code? We want to look our absolute best for you, honey." Cathy just nodded agreement.
I wished they would stop the honey stuff. It made me uncomfortable. The whole thing made me uncomfortable. I'd looked polygamy up. It seemed all kinds of unfair for the women in the relationship. But then again, all that was based on the presumption that the women weren't bi-sexual. Still having a hard time with the concept of two wives, at the same time, though.
"Seven. Nice dresses, and we'll meet here in the restaurant. After a light meal, we'll stroll across to the ballroom. Wear comfortable shoes, I like to dance."
They squealed and rained kisses on my cheeks, before pulling back. Cathy tugged on Tory's arm. "Come on girl. We need to hit the spa, the salon, a shop or two for the perfect dresses. We need to look absolutely stunning for our date. Maybe we can entice him into more than a good night kiss." They strolled off arm in arm, chattering happily. Leah just sat and grinned at me.
"You don't have a chance, you know? May as well stop fighting it. I don't understand you at all. Two of the most beautiful women I've ever seen throw themselves at you, and you keep putting them off. Why?"
"Because, Leah, there's two of them. And they already have a firm relationship going back years. Why would they risk that? What if one of them decides they want me exclusively, or I care for one of them more than the other? The whole thing could get pretty sticky pretty quick. I don't know if I need that kind of headache in my life right now."
"Your ex must have done a number on you. All these years later, and you're still scared of commitment. Don't deny it, I've been around you long enough to see it. Turn it loose, Will. It does you no good. You've got a lot of love in you, time for you to pick someone and share it. If not the girls, someone else. Every woman you meet is not out to stab you in the back. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm joining the girls. I'd like to look really special for my man tonight."
So I took my Cinderellas to the ball.
Stunning was the only description that came to mind when I met them that evening. Tory was in a black sheath, hair elaborately done in loose ringlets. Cathy had chosen the same dress in white, her almost platinum mane in an artful bun. There were glimpses of long shapely legs and hints of cleavage, nothing overt, and all in all they were very nice packages. I told them so, honestly and without embellishment. They seemed to glow under the praise. Dinner was light, and we shared one bottle of wine, not a lot of alcohol for three people. This was deliberate, one tended not to dance as well on a full stomach or a surplus of alcohol.
We strolled into the ballroom, the girls on my arms, and almost stopped the dance as everyone inspected us. Leah and Dorian were there, as well as Eric and Savanna, and they waved us over to their table. I would have preferred a table alone, but the girls seemed to want to join them, so we did. The girls oohed and aahed over their respective gowns, trading air kisses to avoid damaging the makeup. The guys just grinned at each other.
Leah, out of her jeans and tee shirt for the first time since I'd met her, looked great in her tight, short red dress, the auburn hair seeming to glow in the lighting. She was quite the little package. When I praised her she flushed a little, before grinning. "The girls helped me pick it out. I hardly ever wear a dress, but I wanted to look my best for hubby tonight. I want him to keep this image in mind when I look like a beached whale, waddling like a duck when I move."
"He won't be able to keep his hands off you, baby. Besides being the love of his life, you'll now be the mother of his child. Nothing makes a woman sexier." I told her this quietly, and she surprised me by hugging me as a tear slid down her cheek.
She touched my cheek in a loving manner, completely devoid of sexual overtones. "You're going to be a very handsome godfather, if you'll consent to it."
It was my turn to get emotional. I'd never been close enough to anyone to ever have considered it, and looking in my heart, all I could feel was pride that they had chosen me. "I'd love to, baby, but only if I can fulfill the role in every sense of the term. If I do this, I'm part of your lives from now on, understand?"
The tears did come then, and they whisked her off the bathroom for makeup repair. "What did you say to her, Wizard?," asked Dorian, so I told him. He seemed to have a little moisture in his eyes when I was done. My unofficial name in our little group now was Wizard. He hadn't made another appearance since that night, and that was the way I liked it.
The girls returned, looking fabulous as before, and smothered me with enough kisses that I had four different colors of lipgloss on my cheeks. Tory and Cathy cooed as they cleaned me off, then planted another kiss on each cheek, the gloss visible. "Don't even think about wiping it off," grinned Tory, "we're marking our territory."
I had no reply to that, so we danced. The band was a eclectic blend of celtic and jazz, fiddles, accordions, trumpets, saxophones, keyboards, guitars, and percussion. I thought they sounded great. They were semi-regulars, and attracted an older crowd, because they played a lot of waltzes. I handed the girls a coin. They looked at me with curiosity in their eyes.
"I won't choose one over the other. So, the winner of the flip gets the first dance." Tory won, and I twirled her out on the floor. She moved easily, matching me perfectly, and she felt great in my arms. she started to talk, and I stopped her. "No talking. Just enjoy the dance." I may have nuzzled her neck a little, but it was just incidental. Made her glow a little, anyway. I escorted her back to the table, offering my hand to Cathy. She rose gracefully, and fit into my arms as well as Tory. I did the same to her, telling her to just enjoy the dance without the distraction of words.
I had bribed the band, giving the same amount the hotel was paying them, telling them to go heavy on the waltzes. They were more than happy to comply. At the end of the first break, the bandleader gave me a nod. I slipped on stage and took the proferred microphone.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is a special occasion. Two dear friends of ours learned just today they were about to be first time parents. Please, if you would, let them have this dance, in celebration of this milestone in their lives."
The crowd applauded, and I led Dorian and Leah out on the floor. The band started a slow waltz, the female singer crooning in French as a single spotlight hit the couple. For four minutes they swayed across the floor, while Leah sobbed in happiness. The crowd applauded wildly as the last notes lingered. Leah jumped into my lap, still crying, raining kisses all over me while Dorian grinned. "Thanks, Wizard. You really are magic." I just nodded at him, close to my own tears.
I glanced at the girls, and the looks they were giving me were almost primal. I made sure I danced exactly the same number of times with each of them, which I'm pretty sure they noted. On the odd occasion I danced with Leah and Savanna, they took the opportunity to dance with each other. It was really erotic to watch them sway together, sharing small kisses now and then.
I happened to notice an older couple, sixties at least, sitting near us. He had on a nice suit, but she was dressed to the nines, her white hair shining in the lighting. She sat, holding his hand, tapping her feet to the music. Her husband, unfortunately, was in a wheelchair. The girls were taking a bathroom break, so I took a chance and walked over.
"Sir, if you would permit, may I have a dance with your wife?" His eyes widened in surprise, then a small smile appeared as he nodded his assent. I bowed slightly, offering my hand. "Madam, would you honor me?"
Her eyes were shining as she rose, saying something softly to her husband, in French. She was an excellent dancer, light as a feather. I danced her near the bandstand, making a swirling motion behind her back to the bandleader, and he nodded slightly. They played for eight minutes. Her eyes were glistening, as she rested her head on my shoulder. After the dance I walked her back to her table, bowed and kissed her hand. Then I shook hands with the husband, thanking him.
Everyone at the table was staring at me when I returned to the table. "The Wizard strikes again!," said Eric, a note of envy in his voice. The girls didn't notice, but Dorian looked at me with a raised eyebrow. I just shrugged.
"They looked like a nice couple. She wanted to dance, and he couldn't. I took a chance, trying to bring a little happiness into their lives."
The girls all approved, and Leah made Dorian ask the lady for a dance. She accepted, after her husband approved. After that, it seemed she had a line of dance partners, if she wanted. I went back to dancing with my girls exclusively. It just seemed the thing to do.
We danced until the ballroom closed at midnight. We strolled to their room, one on each arm. When we reached the door I gave them the coin again. Cathy won, so I kissed her first. And I mean REALLY kissed her, holding nothing back. When I let go she was panting. Before anyone could speak I grabbed Tory and gave her exactly the same. When I let go I stepped back, thanked them for the evening, and walked away. It was enough, this time.
So the seduction dance began. We went to events, went skiing, sat in the living room of my suite and snuggled. The kisses got more intense, the suggestions more erotic. It came to a head one night, after I'd been gone on business for three days. They wanted to go with me, but I told them I needed to focus, and couldn't seem to focus on anything else when they were near. It was exactly the right thing to say, because they smiled and told me they'd be waiting.
There was a knock on my door. Cathy walked in when I opened it, carrying a small bag. I raised an eyebrow in question.
"I won the toss, so I'm going to be with you tonight. Tory will get you tomorrow. We didn't think it would be a good idea for both of us at once, so we came up with this. Now change, we're going out tonight."
"Do I get any say in this?"
She shrugged, "Yes and no. Decision time here. You can say no, and I'll leave, get Tory, and we'll be out of your life completely. You can say yes, and have two women who love you, forever, if we have anything to do with it. Choose now."
I looked at her, almost dancing with nervousness.
"Where are we going tonight?"
She actually screamed before diving into my arms, starting a hot makeout session that must have lasted fifteen minutes. We ended up caressing body parts, on the couch, until she forced herself back, panting.
"If it was up to me, the only place we'd go would be the bedroom. But I put a lot of planning into this, so get dressed. Put on your heaviest clothes, we're going to be outside."
She wouldn't say anymore, so I bundled up, and followed her. A hot air balloon, with an enclosed basket, sat on an unused parking lot. She hustled us in, and the operator took us up around a thousand feet. We could see the ski slopes to the east, still lit as people made their final runs. The hotel and the small town lay below us, spread out like toys, lights twinkling. But to the North, the lights seemed to dance and writhe, changing colors and shape constantly. I watched, amazed.
"I brought you up here for a reason, honey. This is an allegory as to what our lives will be. Soaring above the average, clear skies and bright lights. Beacons of our contentment, forever."
Then she kissed me. Not a physical connection kiss, but a soul kiss. And if you don't know the difference, you've never been in love. She had me and knew it when she stopped us.
"I'm so hot right now if Pierre wasn't here I'd start a new style of mile high club."
Pierre, of course heard us and grinned. "It is not uncommon, madame. If you wish, I can face away from you, and I have sound dampening earphones."
Tempted, we declined. Even enclosed, with a small heater going, it was still below freezing. We opted for a nice, big, comfortable bed instead.
I knew her past, she knew I knew her past. It didn't matter to me. That was then, and this was right now. I had some small skill, and I did my very best to make it enjoyable and memorable. Her body was exactly the right combination of softness and tone. I started out by kissing every square inch of her body, starting at her toes, missing the good parts until I reached the top of her head, before going back down. I worshiped her breasts and nipples, kissing and biting, leaving a small bruise her and there. I kissed across her stomach, feeling it contract at every point my lips landed. Reaching the gates of heaven, I put everything I'd ever learned about pleasing a woman orally to use, until she had three orgasms, screaming through the first, whimpering through the last. Rising up after the last one, I slid into her before she could react, bottoming in one smooth motion, and her body convulsed with another small orgasm. I stroked slowly, savoring the feeling, until she came down a little. Then I rolled her over, pulled her to her hands and knees, and pumped furiously, gripping her hips savagely. I rolled us over again, pulling her upright. She bounced, she ground, she rotated her hips in small circles, until I couldn't hold back anymore. She tossed her head back and howled as I released, achieving her own climax at the same time. She collapsed on my chest. I felt the tears, but wisely remained silent. Finally she drew herself up, looking me in the eye.
"I knew. I KNEW! I told Tory six months ago you were the man we were looking for. I don't think she believed me at first, but the night you took us dancing sealed it. We've been looking for you for years, honey. We weren't interested in a same sex relationship when we were younger, but having to do it for the porn films changed our outlook. And the men we were around at the time had very little interest in love, they just wanted to get on, get off, and leave, unless it was to hang around to degrade and abuse us.
When we got out of the industry, we swore off men, and sex in general. But we were young, and still full of hormones, so we used each other as an outlet. Need turned to love, and I can't imagine our lives without each other. But we felt something was missing, and it took us a couple of years to figure it out. We wanted, no, we needed, a man. A man with enough confidence to love us both. We had a prospect two years ago, but it turned out badly. We'd given up until we decided to do this film and met you."
She laughed, a musical sound, while she arched sensually against me. "In the end though, we got lucky. We didn't find a man, we found a Wizard. He has charmed us with his spells, and we are his willing thralls."
For the first time that night I felt uncomfortable. "I wish you would get over this wizard nonsense. I'm just a man, with all his frailties."
She kissed me, a slow sensuous duel of lips and tongue. "You ARE a wizard, honey. Whether you know it or not, you have power. Power to look inside a person, see the goodness within, and find a way to draw it out. You ask any person who worked on the movie, and almost all will say the best part was meeting you. Sylvia Shining Elk and all the native actors know how honorable you were in your treatment of them. And the myths of the wizard reached their ears. In their culture you'd be an honored shaman if nothing else. The best part is you let your power lay dormant until it's needed, then bring it forth like a beacon. So, it matters little if you admit it, but you are what you are. It's part of the reason we fell in love with you."
I couldn't think of a good argument for that. In fact, while she talked her hands had been busy, and I had risen to the occasion once again. She giggled. "See, you truly are a wizard, because you have a magic wand!" It was slower this time. We explored, established likes and dislikes, noting them as we went. It felt like we were at it for hours, but it had only been about twenty minutes before physical need surged to the front, and we pounded each other for release. She gave a keening moan as she orgasmed, while the intensity had rendered me speechless.
She fell against me, snuggling like a giant cat until she found the perfect position. "Honey," she said drowsily, "I lo..." And just like that, she was asleep. I held her, stroking her magnificent mane, for a long time, before I finally drifted off.
I woke, alone in my bed, reaching for what wasn't there. I found a note on her pillow instead. I opened it, wondering if it was a good bye letter.
Please forgive me for leaving before you awoke. I spent a good bit of time this morning, thinking about last night while I watched you sleep. Even in slumber you have power, I wanted nothing more than to lie back down, and wake you as you deserved. Then I realized I needed to process the night before. It was almost too perfect. People don't get love like this in real life. But I did, and I treasure it. And more than anything else in my life, I want to keep it. You won't see me today. Our other third will claim your time tonight, then sometime in the morning I'll be joining you, if I'm still welcome. I love you. Understand? I. LOVE. YOU! Please treat her as you did me this evening.
I sat up, holding the note. My life had taken on the unreality of a romance novel. Looking at the clock, I noticed I slept two and a half hours later than normal, and I was craving coffee badly. Showered, dressed, and out the door, I made my way to the dining room. It was almost deserted this time of morning, but Leah was sitting there, sipping coffee, looking over some notes. We could have all left weeks ago, but there was just something about the place that held us. She said it was because it had real seasons, unlike L A. She and Dorian were thinking seriously about moving, for the health of the baby. They could live anywhere, and travel for work.
She grinned when I sat down opposite her.
"Get a good nights' sleep? Never mind, you don't have to answer that. Cathy drifted in here this morning like a party balloon that had slipped the string. The girl was floating! She hugged Tory and then cried for about ten minutes. After a minute Tory was crying. I'm hormonal as hell right now, so I cried with them, and I didn't even know why."
"You need to get your rest. Tory has high expectations for tonight. if you don't perform as well for her, she'll be crushed. I'd ask for details, but I know you wouldn't tell. I need a favor. If you will, let Dorian follow you around sometimes, maybe some of your magic will rub off on him."
Her eyes told me she was joking, and I tried to look solemn when I agreed. She changed the subject, asking me if after the next few days she could show me what she had on adapting the new Issabella novel to screen. We set a meeting for Monday.
Tory didn't even knock, she just opened the door and walked in, gave me a kiss that should have stopped time, and stepped back. "Get dressed, and bundle up. We'll be outside for a while."
We walked a bit, and I trailed a little behind. Even in a huge, fur lined parka, it was still a great bottom to watch. She looked back, smiling, and put a little extra sway in.
She led me to an honest to God, right out of the movies, reindeer pulled sleigh. Four of them, with bells on their harness. We got in the back and snuggled under the heavy quilts, and the driver cracked his whip. The sleigh seemed to glide over the snow like it was a feather, the occasional jingle of the bells or the snort of a reindeer the only things breaking the silence.
We went up a mountain for about forty-five minutes, using the time to snuggle and caress. She thought conversation unnecessary, and I agreed. Finally we stopped, in front of a log cabin, the windows lit by candles. The driver helped her out, and just as soon as I was out he clucked to his team, and drove away. We could hear the bells long after they disappeared from sight.
She took my hand and led me to the door. The cabin was small, with a fireplace that took up one whole wall. It was lit, and the room was very warm, so we were soon out of our heavy clothes. She stepped into the bathroom, asking me to get the wine as she went. I popped the cork and poured two glasses. She returned, wearing a filmy black nightgown, that covered and exposed at the same time. She was between me and the fire, and it seemed like the logs blazed a little brighter, making her hair look like a red halo on her head. She took my hand and led me to the four poster bed, covered in brightly colored quilts. She raised my hand and held it to her breast. I felt the nipple harden instantly.
"Cathy is air," she said, "that's why she took you up. I'm fire, much more elemental. While she soars, I'll keep you grounded, keep the home fires banked, ready to give you warmth any time you need it. And I love like fire."
I was consumed with an all burning passion to see if that was true. I practically ripped the gown off in my haste to have her, and she didn't object at all. Her father had been half Columbian, and it gave her body a dusky hue. I had to have her, now! She was more than eager. She wasn't anymore passionate than Cathy, but she expressed her passion much more loudly, her cries almost screams at times. I treated her exactly the same way I did Cathy, right down to the pillow talk. Tory, like Cathy the night before, gave me her personal history.
"Our parents disowned us. My father hasn't spoken to me in eight years. Mami calls every once in a while, when he is away on business. When he got caught in the financial crash, he refused my help completely. I managed to slip some money to Mami through a sister that just barely tolerates me. Papi thinks the money came from her. I don't care. I saved their house, and Mami knows it. I think that's why she cries every time we speak. So you see, Cathy and I are the only family we have. We want a big family, at least two each, and we want them to know that whatever course they choose in life, their parents will still love them. All we want is happiness, Will. Can you give that to us?"
I surprised her by asking how old she was.
"I'm twenty-nine. Why?"
"Because two isn't enough, and I wanted to make sure you were young enough not to risk your health to have them."
She fainted. Honest to goodness fainted. Her face lost color, her eyes rolled back in her head, and she went out cold.
I'd forgotten how good a screamer she was, but she reminded me when she revived. I thought my eardrums would burst in the confines of the small cabin. Then she grabbed me, and proved she was fire all over again. I felt like a burned out husk when she was done. In fact, I passed out first, my head pillowed in her soft breasts while she crooned a lullaby in Spanish.
I woke later, alone. Tory had gotten up to add more wood to the fire, as the cabin had cooled considerably. I watched as she stirred the embers, admiring the way the flickering fire highlighted her body. She must have sensed me, and she turned and smiled. A smile of happiness and contentment. She bounced back to the bed, sliding in and snuggling to me.
She was cold! I gasped a little as she giggled. "I'll warm us up, honey." And she did, until I had to fling the covers off to catch my breath. She laughed, the throaty laugh of a woman fulfilled. "It gets better, honey. You've had us both now. Can you imagine it in stereo?"
"You'll kill me," I moaned. "Seriously, I know my limitations. I don't think I can keep up with both of you on a regular basis."
She gripped me tighter. "Yes you can! But more importantly, you don't have to. We love you, but we love each other. In fact, there will be times when we we'll want to be alone. Can you handle that?"
"Not a problem. I knew coming in you need to love each other first. I'll never interfere with your relationship. Never. And if there ever comes a time when it isn't working and you need a change, I want you two to tell me up front. It'll probably hurt me, but it'll hurt worse if you don't."
She tightened her embrace. "I don't think that'll ever be a worry. And we'll ask the same from you. If you have any problems with us, tell us right away. You can't fix a problem you don't know exists."
As with Cathy, she drifted off to sleep, a contented smile on her face. I watched her for a long time in the firelight, wondering what I'd gotten myself into.
They lived, oddly enough, in Ohio. My home was in a little town right outside of Atlanta. I loved the area, with the huge old houses harkening back to a bygone era, the seemingly unhurried flow of life a refreshing change from the rush of L A or Chicago. My condo was just outside the city limits of Atlanta but very close, a good place for a single man. It looked like I'd be needing a bigger place soon.
With a lot of reluctance, we said goodbye to Canada. Despite the cold, I felt I could easily live there. The few days after the nights I spent alone with them were amazing. When we got back from the cabin, we discovered Cathy had moved everything into my suite. The first night when we were all in bed together is etched in my memory forever. We rolled around in every combination two women and a man could dream of. I managed(just barely)to satisfy each of them once. By then I was drained, so they reached for each other, and I was content to watch.
We talked about it long and hard, and mutually decided they would stay on birth control for at least a year, to make sure we were truly bonded before we brought children into the mix. They grinned afterwards. "That doesn't mean we won't practice, honey. We will. A lot."
They had closed up their house in Ohio, and put it on the market. They were in our condo, and had no intention of leaving.
I finally told then where the money came from. It was kind of funny when they found out. "Really? You're Issabella? I've read every book she's...that you've written." This was from Cathy.
"It gets worse. I write under a couple of other names also. I'm Rock Stone."
Cathy didn't make the connection, but Tory did. "You write Battle Babes? I've read a lot of those when we were doing po...er, had our earlier career. It helped me to think in at least one universe the women were equal to or better than the men."
I'd learn they were a little shy, now that we were together, about their past. I had cleared the air on that fast. "What's done is done. You had your reasons. And it's years in the past, and you can't rewrite history. What matters is we're here, right now, and we're committed to each other. If I didn't trust you, this would never work." I got some extra good loving, if that was even possible, from them that night.
Once Cathy understood what I'd written, she grinned, a grin that made me nervous. "We are so doing a Battle Babes movie. I was born to play Captain Titts, and Tory is Sergeant Hipps. We'll kill it."
I'd been thinking along the same lines, but that was in the future. Right now, Leah and Dorian were in L A. She was working on the Issabella script, and Dorian was a line producer on a major film. It was several steps up from his past jobs, and he credited us.
"Grolar, Scourge Of The Northlands" was a bona fide hit. Of course, we'd overrun the budget by about a million and a half, but we'd already netted ten times our investment. Cathy and Tory got good reviews, and Tory was voted "Screamer Of The Year" by a fan magazine. Their background came to light, and they were interviewed quite a bit. If any of them brought up their past, they ignored the question. They did comment on it in an interview by a show devoted to Hollywood, saying that the past would always be there, and they weren't apologizing for it. They also praised the film, thanking the casting director, Dorian, the director, and the executive producers, especially me, for giving them a chance.
In a strange twist of fate, the leading man got rave reviews, praising him for going out of character in the final scene. He, of course, took all the credit, saying he'd talked the director into it, so he could broaden his acting skills. Eric was a little pissed, but I thought it was funny.
We'd deliberately left the movie open ended, and there was already a website dedicated to pushing the movie company(us)into making a sequel. I was already thinking of storylines. We'd redone part of the script so Tory's fate was left hanging, just for that reason.
While I worked, the girls went house shopping. It took them a month before they found what they wanted. They took me to look at it, and I have to say I was impressed. Seventy-five acres of mostly pasture, with a very nice, very large barn. The driveway was a third of a mile long, ending in a circle, in front of a huge house, large columns up front, and a balcony that went all the way across the second story. Seven bedrooms("planning ahead, honey," they giggled), with more rooms that I couldn't even begin to understand the function for.
Seems both Cathy and Tory had always wanted horses, which is why they chose it. The list price was two million three, but it had been on the market for two years, and the owners were willing to negotiate. We settled on one six, more than I wanted to give but less they wanted to take. If I hadn't had two females saying "please Honey" about ten times a day, and going to great lengths in the bedroom to make me happy if I said yes, I would probably been a better bargainer.
The girls didn't know how much money I actually had. They now knew I wasn't broke, but didn't have a dollar figure. I shocked them, something not easy to do, by giving them another six hundred thousand, to furnish and renovate. I thought they were going to kill me in the bedroom, again. In short order the place was filled with antiques, or reproductions if they couldn't find what they wanted. They looked around, and hired a caretaker for the property, an Hispanic man in his early fifties, with a younger wife and two teenage daughters, who became our housekeepers and occasional cooks. There was a three bedroom bungalow located on the other side of the stables, so free housing was included in the deal. A bonus was Senor Gomez had ten years experience on a horse farm.
There was a small studio apartment connected to the barn, at one time housing for a groom, and they redid it into an office, where I could work without being disturbed. I was touched, not expecting it at all. Five months later we moved in, and hosted a small party. Eric and Savanna, now a permanent couple, Dorian and Leah, seven months along and into the waddling duck stage, which I teased her about. She just grinned when I asked if her sex drive has slowed.
Dorian answered. "I intend to keep her pregnant for years to come. her drive is so high I stay exhausted. I'm thinking seriously about investing in a battery company, the way she goes through them." Leah flushed and giggled, then asked how sturdy the bed in their room was.
We laughed, joked about the movie, did a little talking about a sequel. Leah couldn't drink, and Dorian never had much. The girls were sipping champagne and giggling, while Savanna and Eric were hitting the bourbon pretty hard. I was sipping my rye, just enjoying the companionship.
Leah had to go to bed pretty early, and of course Dorian went with her, despite her protests he stay and have a good time. I was sitting in an easy chair while the girls were all piled on a couch in front of the fire. Eric pulled up a chair beside me. He waved a hand around.
"How much did all this cost?"
Something about the way he said it irritated me. Eric tended to be jealous sometimes, for no good reason. I hadn't been around him much in the last few months, because for all practical purposes I was married. I looked him over while we talked. He seemed a little thicker, his face a little more flushed than alcohol would cause.
"Oh, I got a pretty good deal on it, but I didn't buy it for me. It's a present for my girls."
He snorted. "Oh, that's right, THE GIRLS. They've really got you pussywhipped, don't they."
I sat up, looking at him more closely. He was high on something, I'd bet on it. I surprised him by laughing. "Yes they do,and I'm loving every minute of it. If a man has to be pussywhipped, those two are definitely the route to take."
"Don't you miss it? Going out on the prowl, pulling some sweet little piece just because you can? Pounding her to get off, just for the physical relief?"
For the first time I frowned. Where was he going with this? "Oh, sometimes I look at a cutie and wonder if she's a screamer, but that's it. When you've got two of the hottest women on the planet in your bed, willing to fulfill every fantasy you've ever had, what could you be looking for? I'd bet this house there's nothing better out there."
I decided to change the subject. "So, you and Savanna? Going anywhere with that?"
For the first time tonight he actually gave a true smile. "Yeah. We're getting pretty serious. I think I'm going to ask her to marry me."
Well, well, sure didn't see that in his future. "Really, you're going to settle down? No more aspiring starlets in your future?"
You could have knocked me over with a feather at his answer. "Oh, I'm not giving that up, and Savanna has two guys and a woman she's been seeing a lot of while I'm out of town. They've even joined us a time or two. We've had several talks about this, and we agree monogamy is really overrated. If you truly love each other, it shouldn't matter who you share your body with."
Without a doubt, I was looking at a disaster waiting to happen, but what he said next threw me for a loop. "You should be used to it, living with two women who share you. What do you say, we're all together tonight, maybe we can play a little? I know that's what Savanna wants. She's probably talking about it with them now. You know they've played before, right?"
He grinned. "And you haven't experienced heaven until she takes you in her mouth. The girl has skills brother, I kid you not."
I looked over at the girls, their heads together, giggling. I knew I was about to snap. I'd had anger problems in the past that had come out after my wife left me. Beat the shit out of a guy for hitting on the girl I was with, he ended up in the hospital and I ended up on probation, with court ordered anger management sessions. They actually helped. But when I got a full head of steam up and blew, it could be very ugly. I got up right in the middle of his spiel and walked out, before my natural inclination to kill him took over.
The girls called out to me but I kept walking. They wanted Eric and his whore, they needed to go for it. I'd hire somebody to help them move, because they sure as fuck weren't living with me any longer.
I went to the studio, locked the doors and turned out the light. I'd just changed the locks and haven't given them their keys yet, so I knew I couldn't be disturbed. I sat in the dark, brooding. Twenty minutes later I heard steps on my gravel path. The door rattled, then they knocked.
"Will, honey, are you in there? Please come out if you are. Talk to us baby, you got us freaking out here. I've never seen you look so pissed, honey. Did we do something wrong?"
That was Cathy, as soon as she stopped Tory started. "Please, baby, please. Talk to us."
I almost considered coming out until I heard Eric. "He's not in there. He'll get over his little sulk and come home later."
For the first time I heard Dorian. He'd gotten up to see what all the fuss was about. "What did you say to him, Eric? According to the girls you guys were talking until he suddenly walked out. Did you piss him off?"
You could hear the smirk in his tone. "All I said was that as long as we were all together, maybe we could have a little fun. You know it's going to happen sometime, why not tonight?"
I heard two slaps, so close they almost sounded like one. Eric let out a grunt of pain.
"Whoa, whoa, here. Girls, you know you want to. We've played before. Now we got us a couple of hot guys, think about how much more fun it can be."
"Shut the fuck up, Savanna. We haven't played with you in almost two years, and only then because we were drunk. We got a real man now, not this cartoon you're living with. And we'll never do anything to make him go away. Now come on, it's time to wind this up before you two fuck something else up. And Savanna, we're going to have a long talk tomorrow, when you're sober." Cathy sounded like she was furious, but Tory was an elemental, and reacted like one.
"You cost us our man, bitch, and your life is over. I'll fuck you up, and then take a break, come back, and fuck up what's left. Then I'll let Cathy have you. Remember what she did to Chad when he tried to rape her? His porn career came to an abrupt end."
"This shit is getting too deep for me. Come on Savanna, let's grab a bottle and have our own party. Leave these nuns to their priest." I heard Savanna and Eric walk off, grumbling. I heard Dorian follow, quietly telling him to stay away from Leah.
Cathy tried the door one more time. "Please Will, let me in. We need to talk." She must have stood there twenty minutes before she sighed and walked back up the path. I had just about dozed off an hour later when there was another knock.
"Will, are you there? If you are, let me in. All this fussing has made your goddaughter upset, and she won't let me sleep."
I opened the door, to see Leah standing there, holding her tummy. "Leah! What in the world are you doing wandering around this time of night? I'm sure Dorian would be worried sick if he knew you were out here."
"He knows where I am, he couldn't stop me from coming. Please, I need to sit down."
I brought her in. locking the door behind her. I put her on the couch, and she sighed as she sank down. "Thank you. She's having a fit, feel her."
Before I could stop her she put my hand on her stomach. I could feel the ripples as the baby moved. Tears welled up, and I let them slide down my cheeks as I felt this miracle vibrate under my hand. I finally stood and stepped back.
"Will, what happened tonight?"
"I'm about to give you a lesson into the personal life of Will Melton. Needless to say, it never leaves this room." I looked at her until she nodded. I walked over to my desk, unlocked it, and handed a folder to her. It contained pictures of my ex, of us together, laughing and smiling. For some reason, even when my hatred burned white hot, I couldn't throw them away. I talked as she looked through it.
"That's Melanie, my first true love. It was ridiculous how much I loved her. We were both from poor families, had no real education, but we were in love and were firmly convinced that was enough. And it was, for a couple of years. I was still struggling to get my writing career going, working dead end jobs, while she worked as a waitress in a little mom and pop cafe. After the third year, she got tired of seeing her friends and their spouses moving up, buying houses, new cars, taking nice vacations, while we still lived in a beginner apartment and worried about the rent. She asked me to give up my dream and get a real job. And I did, for about a year. I still wrote though, every spare minute I could. Then the economy tanked and I lost my job. I tried, but there was really nothing out there, so I went back to writing and collected unemployment checks. She toughed it out for about nine months. Then she started working extra shifts, telling me she only did it because we could use the money.
What she was actually doing was trying out a new man, a salesman who would eat at the cafe every once in a while. He was constantly asking her out, and one night she just said yes. That was the beginning of the end. There were no signs that I picked up on, and one day she just walked in, sat down across the kitchen table, and told me she was leaving. Apparently she had a lot of resentment stored up, and she destroyed me. Told me I was a no talent loser in life, in writing, and in the bed. Told me she had a new man, one who could keep her in style, take her out, and keep her satisfied. When she wound down a car honked outside. She never said another word, tossed her wedding ring on the table, and left.
I didn't see her again for almost four years. By then my Battle Babe books had gained a little traction, but no one knew it was me writing them. Still, I was making enough to afford a very nice apartment, an almost new Mustang, and better clothes. I'd started exercising about that time, and while I wasn't body builder shape, I was pretty toned Our ten year reunion was that year, so I showed up at my old high school, car gleaming, in a very nice suit, hair styled just so, looking good.
She was there, alone. Seems hubby was out of town, selling. I avoided her side of the room for about an hour. I don't think she recognized me at first, but one of her friends must have told her. She watched me like a hawk for another hour, before venturing over."
"You look good, Will," she said. Up close, I could see a few lines around her eyes, and her figure wasn't as tight. Looked like the high life wasn't as high as she thought. I didn't tell her that though, let her keep her illusions."
"Thanks, Mel, you still look good as a bag of M &..." I let my voice trail off, I always teased her, since her initials were M.M., that she was like those bags of candy, full of sweetness. "I'm sorry, guess I can't say that any more, your last initial is what, C now?"
She blushed, and curiously, didn't answer. While she was unbalanced, I asked her if she liked her life. "Get all the things you wanted, Mel? Big house, nice car, pretty clothes? Got a house full of kids yet? Not that you're interested, having moved on and all, but I'm closing in on my first million pretty fast, and the future just looks brighter and brighter. Too bad after all the time we were together, all the sacrifices you made to support me, that you threw it away too soon."
"Leah, it was like I punctured a balloon, she just deflated right in front of me. She sniffled a couple of times, told me she was proud of me for making it, and she should have had a little more faith in me. I felt a little bad for rubbing it in her face, but not much. I told her what's done is done, and the experience had taught me a lot. She walked away with her friends, but one stayed behind, one of her friends that would let let me know every time we were around each other what a disappointment and loser I was. I let the Wizard out, and took her back to the suite I'd rented at the best hotel in town. Banged all night. Then found out the next morning she was married, and her husband had been out of town on business. Pissed me off so bad I threw her out, sending her home in a cab. I hope it made the gossip rounds, and wondered what Mel thought if she found out. I haven't been back to my hometown since. Nothing there but bad memories."
"So you see, Leah, I have issues with women I get close to. It's like I'm waiting for them to fuck up, and the pressure destroys every relationship I've tried since. So before the girls came into my life, while I wasn't content, I was satisfied. When I got the urge, there was always some little honey around. I used them, but I was never mean to them. But now, for the first time, I was content. I never envisioned it would be like this, with two, but I was very happy. I even allowed myself to daydream about kids. I think I'd make a pretty decent father. "
"Then, tonight, when I found out they were discussing swapping, it put me over the edge. I'll never trust Eric or Savanna again. If that's what the girls wanted, stability with sex on the side, they should have told me up front. I'm done. Done with them, done with Eric. He's changed, Leah, and not for the better. I don't think I can stay in business with him any longer."
Leah sat quietly until I got it all out, then patted the couch beside of her. "I understand a little now. But before you throw it away, talk to the girls. Maybe they were reliving old times, and had no intention of doing it again. A trip down memory lane doesn't imply it will happen in the future. At least give them a chance to talk to you before you make any decisions. Now hold me for a bit, I need to be snuggled."
I held her, hand on her tummy, and she was asleep in less than five minutes. I slipped off the couch, got a pillow and blanket, and sat down in one of the three very expensive rocking chairs I had purchased and hidden from the girls. I had intended to give them to each when we knew for sure they were pregnant. I sat, and rocked, and thought, watching Leah sleep. She looked like a child when her face was relaxed. Dorian came down about an hour later, took one look at her, smiled, bent down and gave her a little kiss, and left her there. When the sun came up I was still rocking, and still thinking.
Leah woke with a start, disoriented. I grinned at her. "You naughty girl! Spending the night with a man who isn't her husband. What would people think?"
"They'd think you're a perverted old man, taking advantage of a woman in my condition," she said, yawning. "Now get your ass out of that chair and help me up. I need to go make nice with my husband."
"He was here. Told me I could do anything I wanted with you. Too bad I have no imagination. I ended up just watching you sleep. You know you drool a lot?"
Her hand flew to her mouth. "Do not! And if I did, I can blame it on the baby. Now come on, take me and feed me. I'm eating for two now."
I eased her to her feet. "Two? The way you were shoveling it down at dinner last night, I figured you were having triplets, at least."
"Don't be a meanie. What are you going to do about the girls?"
"I'm going to take your advice and listen to them. If I don't like what I hear, or if I don't think they're truthful, we're done."
"And if you think they're telling the truth?"
"Then the makeup sex will be great. Those girls, when they get going, could get a rise out of a dead man. They have this little trick where they..." She put her hand over my mouth.
"Too much information. Be nice, my hormones are so out of control now Dorian doesn't get a lot of sleep as it is. He told me if I acted like this every time I got pregnant, we were going to have five, at least."
"Too much information back at you. Let's get some breakfast."
We walked into a solemn bunch. Eric wouldn't look me in the eye, but Savanna was smirking, and I decided on the spot I really didn't like her that much. Both my girls were redeyed. I suspect they didn't get much more sleep than I did. They started to talk but I held up my hand. "Later, in private."
The celebratory mood was pretty much broken, and Eric and Savanna left before noon. He apologized to me before he left. "Don't take it so serious, man. I just thought you guys were open to playing. I don't mean this disrespectfully, but you do have two of the hottest women on the planet. What guy in his right mind wouldn't want them? I won't bring it up again, but the offer is open."
I accepted his sort of apology in the vein it was given. It didn't bother me at all to see the tail lights of his rental car disappear around the bend. Dorian left the next day, to finish the last three weeks of his contract. Leah was staying with us. He was on location in Canada again, and her mother was staying with her father in Vegas. They were 'seeing' each other, and Leah was hoping for a reconciliation. With no support group close, we were the fall back plan.
The girls and I talked that afternoon. I started out with an apology. "I'm asking you to forgive me for my behavior last night. I thought I had just lost something very precious, and it upset me. Look, I know I'm the third wheel here, but I still expect certain things out of our relationship. Honesty and fidelity foremost. If you want to play around with Savanna or anyone else, just tell me and we'll part company. I tend to get possessive and jealous if I'm in love. A personality flaw you're just going to have to live with if you stay."
I was sitting on a loveseat facing them, and when I finished I had two handsful of crying women. When they finally got coherent, we cleared the air.
"We did play with Savanna, a couple of times, about two years ago. I think we were looking for you then, but didn't recognize it. She was fun in bed, but after a couple of times we realized it was just that, fun. She didn't balance us, in fact she was a little divisive. She left , and we haven't touched her since. And we'll never touch her or anyone else again, because we have too much to lose."
Cathy looked terrified while she was talking, Tory nodding with every word.
"We'll do anything to prove our love. Wanna brand us? Got it. Want all our money? It's yours. Tell us what you want, honey, and we'll do it, no questions asked." Tory was stumbling over her words, trying to talk as fast as she could.
"Anything?" Tory nodded.
"Anything?" Cathy nodded.
"Well, in that case, come to my office. I have something to show you." They followed me, looking like they were going to an execution. Theirs. I'd lined all three rocking chairs up in front of my desk.
"All right, girls, here's what I want. I want to know if you like the rocking chairs I bought for you. I personally think they're very nice, and I'm sure our children will enjoy them."
They looked from the chairs back to me several times, before breaking down again. I'm pretty sure somewhere in there were words of love and an 'asshole' or two, for scaring them. Soon we were sitting side by side, rocking gently, when Leah found us.
"Kissed and made up, have we? Good for all of you. Ooh, those are some nice looking chairs. How much weight will they hold? Catherine Victoria is getting anxious again, and her god parents need to pet her a little." She climbed into my lap, putting my hand on her tummy. "We'll consider this practice, now talk to her."
The Wizard came out a little. I rocked gently, telling her what a lucky child she was going to be, with great parents, grandparents, and especially godmothers and godfather, and that I was sure sometime down the road there would be a little brother or sister or two to keep her company. I was rubbing her swollen tummy, feeling the little one stop stirring. Leah had had a bad night with all the drama, and she was asleep in minutes. Tory and Cathy each had a hand out, rubbing the tummy with me, making all kinds of promises about the little cousins she'd end up babysitting, and all the fun they were going to have through the years.
After thirty minutes they got up, and kissed my cheek. "We're going back to the house now. All is right in our world again. We love you, you love us. No more needs to be said, except, once again, we belong to each other exclusively. Right Cathy?"
"Absolutely. We're going to talk to Tia Gomez, and see if she'll make that chili dish you like so much for dinner. Now, you just keep rocking. The poor girl needs the sleep. It'll be good grandfather practice, soothing your grown daughter through a frightening time. She loves you too, you know, just like a father. She told us."
I sat there, having a hard time breathing. Apparently the inordinate amount of love in the room was sucking all the air out. I rocked Leah gently, rubbing her tummy absently, for about an hour, before she stirred. When she was fully awake she hugged me tightly. "Thanks. That's the most relaxing sleep I've had in ages. Now help me up, I need to pee, really bad."
That was motivation enough to help her off my lap quickly, walking her to the bathroom. She came out, grabbed my hand, and we walked back to the house. We had a nice dinner, and the makeup loving I got kept me up most of the night. Dorian came home for the weekend, and after he and Leah reconnected, they sat on the balcony, rocking as they talked of the future. Cathy came up behind me, slipping her arms around me, and looked out at them.
"I hope we're as happy as they are when we're pregnant."
"We won't be," I said, feeling her stiffen, "we'll be happier." The hug got tighter for a minute.
"You know they're thinking about moving? Leah said she didn't know what air tasted like until she got here. They don't want the baby raised in L A., so they're looking. They thought about Canada for awhile, but I believe they like it here better."
"Good. It's nice when family lives nearby."
The hug got even tighter when Tory joined us. She had heard the last of the conversation. "I'm so happy. I didn't think I'd ever get to enjoy a family again."
I knew she missed her family, and resolved to try to do something about it, with her mother at the very least. It might blow up in my face, but I had to try.
We settled into a domestic routine. The girls doted on Leah, especially as she got closer. The baby was due in two weeks, and Dorian was due back in five days, his contract done. Leah had gotten a local doctor, and had her bag packed, ready to go, just in case.
Her scream woke us up in the middle of the night. Her water had broke, and it was time. The girls rushed around like maniacs, while I stood there bewildered.
"It isn't time yet," I said, trying to process everything.
"The baby said it is," laughed Tory, as Cathy helped Leah into the SUV. "Now get your ass in gear, or your goddaughter will be born in your backseat."
The hospital was three miles away, luckily. I may have set a land speed record for an SUV, but I'm not sure. Cathy called ahead, and they were ready when we got there, rushing her straight into delivery. Tory called Dorian on the way to the hospital, waking him. Leah cried, telling him the baby was coming. He was trying to get an airline ticket when we hung up.
Leah wouldn't let go of my hand until they wheeled her to the birthing room. Tory filled out the paperwork while Cathy paced, looking at the door. Forty-five minutes later the doctor came out.
"She's crying for her father," she said, looking at me. "First births are hard, emotionally as well as physically. Her husband isn't here, so you're it. Suit up, and go comfort your daughter." Soon I was in a full gown, with a face mask and footies, a cap on my head.
Leah was pale, her hair hanging limply, soaked in sweat. I took her hand and she looked up, responding to me by almost squeezing my hand off. "It hurts." she whispered, closing her eyes. I looked at the doctor and she held up both hands twice. Twenty minutes, or maybe less.
The contractions got closer, and she started to wail. "This is all your fault," she screamed, causing funny looks from the people in the room. "If you hadn't worked your magic, this wouldn't be happening. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!" She screamed the last at ear shattering level, and Catherine Victoria entered the world. Leah collapsed, exhausted.
They cleaned her, and offered her to me. "Want to hold your granddaughter?" I wanted to more than anything in the world, so they handed her to me. I looked at the tiny body, almost overcome by my emotions. Leah stirred, and I gently lay her child in her arms. She held it, looking down in awe. The baby cried, and she immediately dropped her gown down a bit, offering her nipple. She latched on immediately, and Leah smiled, the most radiant smile I'd ever seen. I watched her intently, wanting it etched my memory forever.
"Wait until it's yours," she cooed, and I suddenly had to sit down. The doctor and nurses laughed. "This usually happens to the dad. Put your head down and take deep breaths, Mr. Melton, you'll be fine in just a minute."
The girls were all over me when I came out. I just hugged them, crying with joy, which started them crying. Dorian came in three hours later, and then the parents arrived. We all clustered in front of the nursery window, soaking in the miracle of a new life.
Four weeks went by. The grandparents stayed for two weeks, and then had to go back to their lives. Her parents made her happy by telling her that her mother had moved to Vegas, to be with her dad. They were taking it slow, but it looked like time and love had healed their wounds. Dorian's mother went back to Burbank, where she lived with her new husband. Neither set of parents were thrilled by the news that they may stay here.
The girls walked around grinning like the cat that ate the canary. Poor little Catherine never got a rest, if Mom wasn't holding her, one of my girls was. Practice, they called it. Leah took my rocking chair away from me, and I had to buy another. We got Dorian and Leah into the SUV three weeks later, telling them it was high time they got out for a bit. One of the Gomez daughters agreed to watch the baby. They thought they were going with us to look at horses.
We pulled into an almost new subdivision two miles away, in front of a house that Leah had admired every time she passed it by on the way to her doctor. It was brand new, and had been for sale for months. She looked at me. "Come on, it can't hurt to look," I said, pulling her along.
"Why? We can't afford this." But she'd always wanted to see it, so she followed along. The girls giggled and gasped as they explored the four bedroom house, loving the kitchen. Dorian really liked the large lot, with the pool and patio. It was furnished for display, so when they got done looking, we all met in the living room.
"Like it?" They could only nod. "Good, because as soon as you sign the paperwork it's yours. And we're not exactly giving it to you. We're giving it to our goddaughter. Don't argue with us, this is a done deal unless you really don't want it. We want you near us, plain and simple, and this is our solution. And guys, it's from all of us. We all paid equally to get it for you. What do you say?
I really thought Dorian was going to faint. He made pretty good money and his fees were going up. Leah was also making good money, from the Issabella script alone, not counting her other projects. They could have bought the place on their own, but would have had a pretty hefty mortgage.
"And another thing, we did this for purely selfish reasons. If you live here, we get to see a lot more of you, and our goddaughter. Look at it this way, here, you'll never have to look far for a babysitter. We'll leave you alone now, so you can talk about it. See you at the house."
Leah wondered why Cathy drove her car. Now she knew as she tossed her the keys with a warning. "Scratch it and your daughter may become an orphan." Maybe I got carried away, but when you have ridiculous amounts of money, it can be easy at times. I felt so bad about our little fuss I went out and bought them both presents. Matching Mercedes sports cars. Tory got one in red, with a vanity tag, RED HOT, Cathy got one in black, and her tag read HOT BLOND. You should have seen their eyes when they were delivered. They didn't even pretend to want me to send them back. It was a blast to see them with the top down, wearing big sunglasses and scarves to protect their hair. They looked like movie stars from the forties and fifties.
When we first moved in, every time they went to the small town nearby they brought traffic to a standstill. It took the townspeople months to warm up to them, but now they get stopped in the grocery store, to share the latest gossip and news. I'm sure we powered many a tongue when we appeared together. But when they got used to us, we were old news. They moved to other topics, and pretty much left us alone.
Leah and Dorian came home an hour later. She held his hand while she talked to us. "We don't know what to say. I'm a pretty good writer, but there simply aren't words to express what we feel."
The girls were quivering with excitement. Tory couldn't stand it. "Well, are we neighbors or not?"
Dorian grinned. "No, Tory, we'll never be neighbors." I'm sure all our jaws were on the floor after that statement. He just grinned bigger. "With neighbors, when they get on your nerves you can send them home. We're part of your family now, and with family, well, you're just stuck."
I caught it before the girls did, and laughed. Seconds later all the girls were hugging each other and us.
Dorian came to my office a few days later, something obviously on his mind. I suggested we walk, I had a crew in, building a pond on the back of the property. It was supposed to be built for the horses we hadn't gotten yet. Tory looked at it and grinned. "Skinny dipping." Cathy looked at it and smirked. "Water sex." I looked at it and thought "catfish," but I was smart enough not to say it.
We talked a little about the Issabella movie. We were going into pre-production planning in two weeks. We'd already got commitments from a lot of the crew that worked on Grolar, including the director. Target for filming was three to five months from now. He reached down, grabbed a rock, and skipped it across the water.
"Talked to Eric lately?"
I hadn't, not since the party. I'd left a couple of messages about the new film, but he hadn't gotten back to me. I found that odd. I told Dorian I hadn't.
"Good," he sighed, "that means you probably don't know."
"A friend of mine took me aside just before I left the shoot, and asked me if I was doing any more work for Two Fools Productions. I told him as a matter of fact we were talking about doing a project soon. He hemmed around until I finally asked what was bothering him. Did you know Eric is making porn films, under your company name?"
"I checked. He's done one starring Savanna. And it gets worse. He's in it with her. I looked it up, and it's pretty gross. I thought you should know."
I sat down on the new dock, feet dangling, thankful that the pond hadn't filled completely. What the hell was Eric doing? I knew something was off about him lately, maybe I should have been paying more attention. I needed to get in touch with him. Now. I took my phone out and called. Two numbers were disconnected, and I kept getting voicemail on the other. I left one, telling him to get in contact with me as soon as possible, it was urgent.
The girls weren't happy about it either. "You of all people know we don't condemn porn or the people that make it generally, but we know first hand that it can taint everything you do in later life. How many people do you think won't go see, for instance, the new Issabella movie, if they think it's been made by a porn company? I'll answer that, a lot. The biggest fans Issabella has are most likely little old ladies who use the books to fulfill their fantasies, they wouldn't be able to enjoy the movie knowing we were sullying her name."
"Why is he doing it? Yes, you can still make money off porn, but he'd have to make hundreds to come anywhere close to what he made just off Grolar, and by movie standards, the film was only moderately successful. We think you should check with the lawyers, honey. We know he's your friend, but really, you did seventy-five per cent of the work on Grolar, at least. Maybe it's time to part company, at least professionally." This was from Cathy, always the most pragmatic of the two, but Tory agreed, as did Leah and Dorian.
Two days later I gave up trying to call him, but I had tracked him down to L A. I made arrangements to fly out and physically confront him. Our lawyer was a little upset over the information I'd given him. He'd mostly written up our partnership agreement. "You guys weren't sure you'd ever make another movie, so Two Fools basically only existed for a short time. There is a clause in your agreement leaving the possibility of making more films, but for it to be legal you would have had to update it on a movie by movie basis. He has no legal right to film under your company name without express written agreement. Since I represent both of you, my best advice is get a business lawyer and thrash it out."
Dorian wanted to go with me, but I didn't think him being seen near a porn production would do his reputation any good. The girls either, for the same reason. They saw me off, warning me to be careful. I was surprised to see a very large man in a suit holding a card with my name on it when I got off the plane.
When I identified myself, he escorted me to a Lexus sedan, driven by an even larger man. "We've worked with Dorian before. He thought it might be a good idea for you to have a driver." When I looked at the other guy he just laughed. "We'll take turns."
I had a pretty interesting conversation with them as they drove me. They normally did security for movie stars and other high fliers, were combat trained, and carried weapons. They knew where we were going, and I was surprised when we pulled into the lot of an abandoned looking warehouse in a pretty rough neighborhood. There were a couple of dozen cars in the lot. Warehouse workers, I guessed.
When he started to get out I asked him what we were doing here. "This is where your partner makes his films." He pointed to a sign, so small it was barely noticeable, over one of the doors. Two Fools Films. Authorized Personnel Only. That was the cherry on top of the whipped cream on my anger cake. Before they could stop me. I had stormed past them and banged on the door, after I found it locked.
"Go away. This is a closed set on private property. Leave, or I call the cops." I followed the tinny sounding voice to a small speaker mounted under a camera, over the door.
"Good. If you don't call them I will. That's my company logo over the door, and I'm pretty sure I didn't authorize anything I see. I'm sure the police will be glad to listen to any explanation you'd like to give him. I might even ask them to inspect the premises, just to assure me there's nothing illegal going on." I pulled out the phone and held it up to the camera. "Your choice, but one way or another, I'm coming in that building. You tell Eric that Will Melton is outside, and he'd like a few minutes of his time. You got five minutes."
Eight minutes went by, and I nodded at one of my guards. He punched a few numbers into his phone, and held ten fingers up. The cruiser was just pulling in when the door opened a crack. The short Hispanic man looked nervous but determined. He was built like a brick, muscles stretching his tight tee shirt, and he had a pretty impressive automatic on his hip.
"Look man, we don't need no trouble here. You just go back to your hotel, and Eric will call you when he gets time. He's kind of busy right now. And I ain't asking, I'm telling. Go away."
I had one of my 'drivers' beside me, and he was grinning. The other guy had slid along the wall, keeping out of view of the camera as much as he could. In a quick but practiced move, he grabbed the man, dragging him outside before he knew what was going on. Automatically reaching for his weapon, he froze, looking down the barrel of three guns, two from police officers, and one from one of my bodyguards.
"Shit Jack, what kind of mess are you in?" This from one of the cops, still holding his weapon as his partner disarmed the Mexican guy, and handcuffed him. My biggest bodyguard just shrugged.
"Damned if I know. We just agreed to go with Mr. Melton here, while he inspected some property his company leased. At least Billy isn't looking bored to death anymore." Billy just smiled. I don't think he said twenty words the whole time I was with him. By now they'd pulled the doorman's ID and ran it.
"Well,well, Amigo. Two outstanding traffic tickets. You got to learn to slow down, miho. Looks like you just resigned your job. Before we go any farther, got anything to tell us before we go inside? We'd be VERY displeased if we find ourselves in an unpleasant situation that could have been avoided."
Surprisingly, the guy talked. "Nothin' goin' on in there but a lot of fuckin', and I ain't included in that. My cousin got me this job, said all I had to do was keep the door locked and sightseers out. And that's all I did. Anything else you find in there ain't my concern. Shit, it's the easiest job I ever had. And the gun is legal, it belongs to my uncle and he said I could borrow it."
The cops relaxed a little when he started talking. "All right, we'll run it, and if comes back clean your uncle can pick it up. I don't think you need it any more. Free advice, if you're going to carry a gun, you better know how to use it. That gangbang shit of holding a pistol sideways? It'll get you killed, because you can't hit anything like that, and you'll run up on somebody like us, or these guys, that know how to shoot and will only give you one lesson. Think about that while you wait on us."
They put him in the back of the cruiser, and offered to accompany us inside. I gratefully accepted. We went down a long hall, that opened onto three different sets, a bedroom, a living room, and a kitchen. They were filming on the kitchen set.
It was porn on its' crudest level, stupid dialog, no plot, just sex, sex, sex. Eric was sitting in a chair behind the camera, directing. He was stark naked, and had a girl between his legs, doing just enough to keep him erect. After a couple of minutes, he jumped up and ran on camera, calling Savanna all kinds of names. She couldn't answer, one guy was stuffed in her from behind, and another was in her mouth. Three more guys had another woman on the kitchen table. The guy behind her grunted, pulling back for what they call 'the money shot', and Eric took his place. Four minutes we watched, because I for one took that long to process what I was seeing. I started clapping, which stopped the action.
The sound man looked pissed, and started ranting until he saw the cops. The people, I couldn't make myself call them actors, couldn't see us because of the lights. Eric got up, slapping Savanna on the ass as he walked by her.
"This is a closed set! How the hell do you get in here? Where's Carlos? This is private property, get out, and I mean right fuckin' now. You're costing us time and money."
He got past the lights, and stopped cold when he recognized me. He was on something, I would bet on it. "What are you doing here?"
"Well, when you wouldn't answer on any of the numbers we had for you, I got on an airplane, and here I am. I thought I'd take a look at my company in action. Not happy, Eric. Not a bit. The lawyers are champing at the bit. You should have read the partnership papers. This place is shut down, until we, meaning our lawyers, sort it out. I don't know what happened to you, Eric, but it needs to stop. You need to get away from Savanna, she's not good for you.
I handed him a card I brought just in case, even though I knew deep down I'd have to use it. A well known law firm, recommended by Dorian. "If you want to save anything of our friendship, or our partnership, be there tomorrow at ten. Don't show, and the wheels go in motion, and we''ll part ways professionally and privately. Think about it."
I turned to the others. "Everybody get dressed and leave, now. I don't know what he's paying you, but I'll honor it. This is not your fault, and I don't have any ill feelings towards you, but filming is over until further notice."
Some grumbled, but what they were doing was only semi-legal, and they didn't want to push it. The young woman, came out fifteen minutes later, hair in a braid, wearing a nice sundress and sandals. She looked like someones' kid sister. She probably was. As she left, she handed me something. It was an a manila envelope, with several head shots, and two nudes, with her acting history. "I know it was probably bullshit, but Eric promised me a small part in your next real movie. In fact, he promised us all parts, even if it was just as walk ons."
I think it shocked them when I gave everyone interested the office address of our casting agent. "Earmark it per my instructions. I won't promise anything beyond a look, but he WILL look."
The cops looked at me, waiting. "Sorry to hold you up, officers. If you''ll give me your badge numbers, I'll make sure the department gets heartfelt letter of thanks."
They grinned, and one of them left me with his portfolio. Everybody's an actor in this part of the world. Eric and Savanna sat in robes the whole time. Savanna looked pissed, Eric just looked sullen. Before we left he wanted to talk but I stopped him. "Save it for tomorrow. And Eric, be straight when you get there." Savanna was screaming curses at me as we left.
He showed up the next morning, twenty minutes late, dressed in a nice suit with clear eyes. Savanna was with him, wearing a nice dress and minimal make up. She really was an attractive woman. He also brought his own lawyer, to protect his interests, he explained. Savanna had a fit and Eric got hot when I told them she couldn't be in the meeting. "She isn't a partner, and she's not a lawyer, so there is no need to complicate things with her being present."
Finally, after I threatened to shut him down completely and let the lawyers fight it out, she agreed to wait at a local coffee shop. The meeting started badly and went down hill from there. Eric was putting on a good offense, but the law group I had hired to arbitrate just kept returning him to the facts of the contract we had drawn up when we started.
"Fine!," he snapped. "You know I don't need the money, OR your approval. I'll just start my own company." It was the opening they had been waiting for, and by the time lunch rolled around, Two Fools was no more. We split the money, and set the arbitrators up to handle dividing any incoming revenues. It was all over but the hard feelings. I tried to talk to him one more time.
"We can always start it back up. Eric. Just get your mind back to the way it was when you talked me into this. It was a beautiful thing, in my opinion. And I know you don't want to hear it, but you need to break away from Savanna. It will end badly if you don't."
His eyes had softened until I brought her up. The hard eyes were back quickly, and he left without another word. I didn't see him again for another year.
I went home and sat in my office for two days, thinking. Despite our age difference, he was probably the best friend I'd ever had. I shook it off the second day. He was an adult, and he made his choices. Nothing I could do or say could change anything. So I mentally wished him well, and got on with my life.
The girls had walked around me gently, until I walked in to the kitchen smiling, and asked them to fix some sandwiches for a picnic. We took the meal, some water, a bottle of wine, and went down to look at our pond, now completely full. Now we could dangle our toes in the water while we sat on the dock. We spread out the quilts we'd brought, ate, touched, drank the wine, touched more, talked a little, until we decided to let our bodies talk. Sated, we lay back, a girl under each arm.
"We're really sorry about the way it turned out with Eric, honey. I remember how he was when we started, funny, happy, joking around while he sexed every little starlet he could. He only changed when Savanna started spending time with him. I never told you, but the few times we played with her, I got a vibe she was trying to break us up. I don't think she really wanted either of us, she just couldn't stand our happiness. When she saw how committed we were, the playing stopped right after that, mostly our decision."
"I'm glad you recognized what she was about. I think she's one of those people who isn't happy until every one around her is unhappy. I have to wonder, what caused her to be that way? What event altered her view of life? It must have been pretty traumatic. Thank you for keeping your distance from her. And watch Eric, I don't think he's in his right mind. I wish he would talk to me, us, maybe we can help him. That being said, what I saw in L A was very disquieting, so if he shows up while I'm not here, be very careful around him. Promise me."
They promised, passionately, and I believed them. Time to change the subject to happier matters. I reached into the pocket of my discarded pants, feeling the two small cases.
"Girls, sit up. I want to have a serious discussion, and you laying naked is not going to help my acuity at all. Please."
They mumbled, but slipped on their tank tops, sans bra, and wrapped the quilt around their bottoms, covering up, but letting me know they were ready to play in seconds. I guess I'll have to settle for that. They both managed to stick their chests out, nipples springing out like mushrooms after a rain.
"Stop it! I need to be serious here. Cathy, do you love me? Why? Do you love Tory? More than you love me? I need to know, this is important to me."
Their flirty manner came to a screeching halt. This was going to be deep, and they knew it. Her answer was direct, yet simple. "Yes, I love you. Deeply. And I love Tory as much as I'll ever love you. I need you both to be happy. I know it flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but I don't think I could be happy with just one of you now. I need you both to be fulfilled. If I had to chose, right now, this very second, it would be neither of you, if the other was left out. I'd rather die alone."
Wow. I wasn't expecting that. I turned to Tory, waiting. She took her time before answering. "Everything Cathy said and more, sweetheart. We looked for you for a long time, and didn't even know it. Now we do. You'll have to die to get away from us, and that's not written in stone."
I grinned. "Right answer, girls. Now flip a coin. The winner gets to hear what I say first, but it doesn't make it less so for the other. Now flip."
Cathy won. "What do I get?," she asked, smiling.
"This, " I said, holding up the large solitaire. You have no idea how hard it is to find two flawless diamonds exactly the same in size, clarity, and cut. Judging from their reactions, it was worth every dime. Cathy took one look and fainted. I grinned at Tory. "Try to stay awake, baby, I need at least one of you to say yes. Victoria Marie Cross, would you be our lifemate?"
This wasn't going the way I hoped. Tory started crying and shaking Cathy. Still managed to get the ring on her finger, though. Cathy woke quickly, her eyes wide as I managed to slip the ring on. "Catherine Zoe Wiggins, would you be our lifemate? It's a lifetime commitment, but it has some perks. Well?"
Finally they managed to find their voices. I bet I heard yes(between some serious kisses from and to all three of us) fifty times. Then the tops came off, the quilts laid out, and I was buried under some pretty intense, but delicious, women. They wouldn't let me alone. Forty minutes later, just as I thought I was going to have a heart attack, they rolled me out of the way and did a little reaffirming between each other. I was content to watch, enjoying their obvious passion. Finally breaking apart, they dragged me back in the middle, snuggled up to me, and we all slept the sleep of the exhausted and sated.
I barely woke, feeling something tickle my nose. It got worse, and I brushed it off several times before I heard someone giggle. Looking up, I saw Leah, holding a blade of grass, and her grin was a mile wide. She had become my best friend, filling the hole Eric left, a writer thing I guess. It made sense, because when I was single Eric and I had a lot in common, but now that I was for all purposes married, our interests were different. Leah and I were in loving, stable relationships, building on them for the future.
We could bounce ideas off each other, tell the other how stupid it was, and not get angry. I usually didn't get much done if she brought Cat, because I would end up playing with her. When she finally wanted to get some work done, she'd call the girls, and they would fly down the path, grab the baby and her bag, and tell us to take our time. Usually when we were done Cat would have on an outfit Leah had never seen, and the girls would mention they'd seen it at a shop and thought it would be just adorable on her. Leah would just snicker, punch me in the ribs, and tell me it was time for us to start on our own before we wore hers out. The girls would agree that was one of the best ideas they'd heard in ages. They were slowly bringing me around to the same thought.
I almost got my butt kicked when I asked which one was getting pregnant first. It did get me a slap on the back of the head. "For a sharp guy, you sure are dense sometimes. We'll get pregnant at the same time. No way one does it without the other. The same night, if we can manage it." Sometimes I forget how competitive they are.
Leah was smirking at our scattered clothes and the afterglow looks on our faces.
"Let me ask a really stupid question. What have you guys been doing?" Two left hands flashed out, and the oohing and aahing started. After a few minutes they looked pointedly at me. Time for girl talk. My clothes were on the other end of the pier, and I saw Leah smirk. I kissed both girls, then stood up and walked to my clothes. Leah gasped and went red while they giggled. I may have accidentally bumped her, I couldn't say for sure, but she fell off the pier. Good thing it was warm, and the water was only four feet deep. She came up sputtering, and I helped her up. She tried to throw me in, but I was watching her. The girls decided a cool dip was just the thing, diving right in. They popped to the top, breasts just barely out of the water. It must have been a little cooler than I thought, judging by the nipples. Leah distracted me by asking a question.
"Do my boobs seem bigger to you?" I looked around, and she had slid out of her top and bra, her milk laden breasts sticking straight out. If she wanted to embarrass me she failed.
"Of course they're bigger, silly girl. You're a nursing mother. Must do wonders for your nipples."
They were hard as rocks, distended from nursing. She looked down, squeaked, and dove back in, making sure just her head was out of the water. Then she grinned again, dove under, and threw something on the pier. Her shorts and panties.
"Be a dear, honey. Come back in about thirty minutes, with some towels and robes. Run along now, time for some wedding planning, and that would bore you to tears. Just nod your head when we tell you to, and write the checks. We'll handle everything else."
I left them, giggling and splashing, and walked back to the house. By the time I'd driven our little off road cart back, it was all settled. June, and it would be held either here or in Canada at the hotel we liked so much. I knew the ceremony wouldn't be legal, but it would be valid to us, and any friends we decided to share the day with. Leah even got out of the pond without covering up, giggling while she slipped into the robe I held. "Dorian better be home tonight. Maybe I need to stop at the store for batteries, just in case."
Dorian, as it so happened, was home, finished with his latest effort and ready to start the Issabella movie. He called me at noon the next day, and pretended to be mad. "Do I need to keep an eye on you?"
"Might be a good idea. Leah is one hot little momma."
He burst out laughing. "Oh, I think she'll be safe. You have a couple of watchdogs, and I bet if you pissed them off they'd be a pair of really mean bitches. You might even get bit, where it would really hurt. Why am I never around when this stuff happens? She was hot enough to blister paint last night. I heard someone crying later, and thought it was Cat, but it was me, begging for mercy. She didn't have any. It was only the second time since the doctor released her, and I swear, she tried to make up for five months all at one time. We're invited to dinner, if I have enough energy to walk tonight."
Leah and the girls must have talked, because they teased Dorian relentlessly. Rubs, touches, cleavage shots, whispers that made him go red. He almost lost it when the girls each kissed Leah, long and hard. You could see their tongues tangle. His erection must have been painful in those shorts. Finally, he couldn't stand any more. He threw her over his shoulder and grinned, asking if their room was still available.
"Always. You kids go enjoy yourselves. Us old folks will just watch television or something." The lock hadn't clicked on their door before the girls were naked. All the playing had their engines running. Forty-five minutes later we dressed, and Tory went to check on Cat, bringing her back with her. I put her on the floor, blowing on her belly, kissing it softly. I'd found she loved it, and would giggle(as much as someone that young could)and coo, crying if I stopped too soon. It got quiet and I looked up. Tory had her phone out filming me, and four eyes glistened. I better hurry up and get them knocked up before the hormones killed us all. I got up, and took them in my arms. "Bed time, babies. If our plans come through, we'll all be learning to get sleep whenever we can. Mommie gowns, we're keeping Cat with us, give the kids a break. Maybe they actually will sleep, later."
They rushed into our bedroom, leaving me with the baby. I gathered her things, and took them with me. I rocked her for longer than necessary, she'd dropped off to sleep in just a few minutes. When she was completely out, I lay her in the crib the girls insisted on buying. Tory and Cathy were standing behind me. If what they had on passed for a mommie gown, these girls would be the hottest moms on the planet. They went to midthigh, flowing, sheer cloth that enhanced rather than concealed. Twirling, they asked me if I liked them. "I don't think so. Tell you what, just to be fair, get three more each in different colors. Maybe they'll grow on me."
They giggled, promising they would do just that, because besides loving me, they loved spending my money. We snuggled down in our custom built bed, far roomier than anything made commercially, and drifted off. I woke up to find myself spooned to Tory while Cathy snuggled behind me. Still later I woke again, to find I'd turned over, spooning Cathy while Tory snuggled my back. Evidently I treated them exactly the same even when I was asleep.
I finally understood why it sometimes took years to get a movie made. Even though the financing was guaranteed, the core group needed to make it happen had been invovled from the very first stage, and most of the actors we wanted were ready to commit, it still took almost two years from the time I gave Leah permission to write the script to the first day of filming. We were in Canada again, even staying in the same hotel. I was involved as much as possible, but aside from guaranteeing the money and settling an occasional squabble, I had very little to do with the actual work.
I had a new production company, and the girls came up with the name. Sunfire Wizard, for their hair colors and my nickname. They were stunned when all the paperwork was done and they found they each held twenty per cent of the company. I shrugged when they brought it up. "We're partners in everything, did you think I'd leave you out?"
I loved surprising them. After they managed to shut their mouths, they wanted to know why I was being so generous. "I'm not being generous, I'm being selfish. The more I bind us together, the harder it will be to think of ever splitting up. Before you protest, I know it will never happen. Just consider this for what it is, a wedding present."
They both shut up, going a little pale. Once again, I cut them off before they could speak. "I know, I can never legally marry both of you, but I CAN commit to you. I don't want to skulk around, avoiding revealing the details of our relationship. I want a VERY public ceremony, to declare our commitment to all, in front of family and friends, and anyone at all who wants to know. You ARE my lifemates, and I for one am proud to announce it to the world. Now would be a good time to agree."
They looked at me, looked at each other, then dove on me. Down we went, rolling around on the floor, sharing kisses and words of love, the most prominent from my girls being "YES!" When they calmed down, we talked about where, when, and how we wanted to do it. After we hashed it out, we sent out the invitations.
"Victoria Marie Cross(She'd won the coin toss, so she got to go first), Catherine Zoe Wiggins, and William Howard Melton cordially invite you to bear witness to our commitment ceremony, on June 5th, Two P.M., at the Royal Gardens in Victoria, Canada." It was done on wedding stationary, after all, that's what it was.
So, on a sunny June afternoon, we stood in a local garden near the film site, in front of our friends, the entire crew and part of the cast of our movie, and exchanged vows. Leah was the only bridesmaid. Dorian was my best man. Little Cat sat in her stroller, tossing the flower petals we'd put in front of her with gusto, giggling. Since standard vows didn't really fit, we each wrote our own. Tory, in her usual direct matter, went first.
"I take you, Catherine Zoe Wiggins, as my lifemate, to hold you in love and respect, cherish you, keep you safe and happy, for as long as I live." She turned to me. "I take you William Howard Melton, as my lifemate, the father of our children, to hold you in love and respect, and keep you safe and happy, for as long as I live."
"And I take you, Victoria Marie Cross, as my companion in our journey through life. I vow to love, protect, and cherish you, for as long as I walk this earth." Cathy let go of Tory's hand and took mine and placed it over both of theirs. "And I take you, William Howard Melton, as my lifemate, the father of our children. I vow to love, protect, and cherish you, for as long as I walk this earth." I looked at both with love for a second, before saying my vows.
"I believe in the concept of love. For without love, none of us would be standing here today. I believe in fidelity between partners, to cleave to each other exclusively, united against those who would tear them apart. I stand here today, before these witnesses and whatever dieties they believe in, and declare my love, my loyalty, my protection, my very soul to these women. Without them I would be nothing. Victoria Marie Cross, Catherine Zoe Wiggins, would you honor me as lifemates, to bear our children, to share our love equally between us, for the rest of our days? If you do, from this day forward, we will be one."
We all managed to get "I do," out before the tears started. I lifted their veils, and kissed them both, putting as much passion into the kisses as I could. I put a white gold band, with small emeralds and diamonds, on Torys' finger, then an exact copy in rubies and diamonds on Cathy. Each was their preferred gemstone. They presented the same bands to me, cleverly designed to interlock around two small diamonds. Then I stepped back, and they fell into each others' arms, sharing just as passionate a kiss.
It turns out our sound engineer was a preacher, a member of some new age sect, and he'd gotten certified as a reverend over the internet. He had stood before us, and when it was done he placed all our hands together, raising them high. "Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce Tory Melton, Cathy Melton, and William Melton. I declare them wedded this day, in the eye of God, if not men. May their days be long and prosperous, full of love and contentment!"
We stood, shaking hands, sharing hugs. I think most of them were sincere in their congratulations. We had two photographers and a video crew, to immortalize the day. The girls were radiant in their matching designer gowns, while I wore a standard black tuxedo. Leah had on a custom designed white dress, less formal, and Dorian was in a matching black tux. The string quartet continued to play as we boarded the white carriage that would take us the six miles back to the motel, and the reception in the ballroom.
I invited everyone at the hotel, and as many locals as I could. They may have disapproved of our life choices, but everyone likes a good party. We was well known from the first film, and the fact that I used as many locals as I could for extras, caterers, etc.. helped my reputation quite a bit. I even had the band that played the very first time we danced there. The ballroom was filled to overflowing.
It took quite a bit of doing, but Cathy and I had arranged a wedding surprise for Tory. We waited for everyone to settle down with filled glasses before we sprang it on her.
"Tory, there is someone here who wants to congratulate you."
She turned, smiling, and looked into the eyes of her mother. She dropped her glass and held out her arms. Her mother wrapped her up in an embrace I was sure would leave bruises, while Cathy cried and I smiled. I had to go see her in person twice, timing both while her husband traveled. I showed her pictures, used every argument I could think of. Nothing moved her, and in desperation I used the Wizard.
"Ma'am, your child misses you terribly. She misses the whole family. I can't tell you the number of times we've held her while she wept, her heart aching for you. Yes, in your eyes she's done a terrible thing. But it was years in the past, and she's led a quiet, moral life since then. We're going to start our family soon. Will you really let your pride keep you away from your grandchildren? If you can, I'm wasting my time, because you're not worth knowing. It would mean the world to her if you could share this day of happiness with her. I can handle everything if you'd like to see her. Money is not an object here. But if I were broke, I'd mortgage my soul if it meant you'd come. The same invitation extends to any family member that wants to come, even your husband. If you'd allow, I'd arrange everything. It would mean the world to her."
She surprised me with a question. "Do you love her?"
"Very much so."
"But you love her...partner also?"
"Just as truly, and just as deeply. I'd say it's complicated, but it's not, really. It's simple. We love each other. Maybe it's a combination of circumstances, past experiences, present attitudes, I can't really say for sure. It just...is. Tory says we were destined to be together. Think about it. You know the time and the place."
I gave her the name and address of a local travel agency. "It's all arranged. Just tell them how many will be in the party, and they'll handle it. I really hope you come. Goodbye, Mrs. Cross."
She touched my arm. "You make a compelling argument. I can't tell you how much I've missed her. Amy(another of her daughters)and I went and saw her movie when my husband was on a trip. She was so beautiful. I cried through the movie. It got me a lot of stares but I didn't care. I actually told the woman beside me that the woman on screen was my daughter, and she congratulated me for raising such a successful, talented child. I won't promise you anything, but I will consider it. Thank you, for bringing news of Tory. She seems to be in a good place, and happy. That's all a parent could ever want for her child."
I fully expected to never see her again, but she called me the week before the wedding, asking if the invitation was still open.
"Absolutely! Will you be alone?"
"No. Amy and Sarah(her other daughter) will be with me. We are really looking forward to seeing her. It's been nine years."
We talked further, and I asked about her husband. I detected a note of sadness in her voice.
"I fear Juan won't be my husband for much longer. I flew to Columbia for the first time since we were married, to tell him of my decision and try to persuade him to come. I just didn't feel right telling him over the phone. He always refused to let me accompany him, saying it was just too dangerous. I found he was a lot like you, seems he practiced polygamy also. A wife of sixteen years, with two daughters thirteen and eleven. Unlike you, however, he kept it secret. To say his other wife and I were not pleased when we met each other would be a fair statement. I fear Juan is going from two wives to none very shortly. We actually had a nice talk about how to divide his assets while we waited for him to come 'home'. I wished now I had prepared, I would have loved to have a picture of his face when he saw us standing side by side. I left them screaming at each other in Spanish. He can be violent at times, but she had the forethought to have four of her younger brothers there. I hope they didn't bruise him badly, he really does have a handsome face."
Wow. I offered my condolences, but told her I was really happy they were coming.
Getting Cathy's mother there was a lot easier. They weren't close as they once were, but they still talked. She had been a single mother, making poor choices most of her life, a string of boyfriends while Cathy was growing up, that went from ignoring her to a little too much attention as she developed. It finally drove her away. She got off a bus in LA, and met Tory three days later.
I found her in a run down apartment in Cleveland. It was neat, clean, but in a not so nice neighborhood. There were still vestiges of the beauty Cathy had inherited in her face. I introduced myself, told her the whole story over a nice dinner. We even danced a time or two when the band set up. She said it was the most enjoyable time she had had in years.
It didn't take much to convince her to come, especially when I offered her a deal.
"Come to the wedding. If we all get along, I intend to take you home with us. Not our house, but I'll find you something nice, close by. All bills will be paid by us, and there will be an allowance in the bank to cover anything you need. Not to brag, but I'm very comfortable financially, and it would be no strain."
She was very suspicious. "What would I have to do in return?"
It flashed through my mind she thought after I wined her and dined her I had less than honorable motives. I grinned.
"Oh, it'll be a friend with benefits deal. You have to spend time with your daughter and her sister wife, and me. And in a few years you'll be required to babysit your grandchildren fairly often. Think about it."
She did, for about a minute. "If this is on the up and up, I'd love it. I've never been taken care of my whole life. It appeals to me to try it out."
"I can get you statements from both my girls and my adopted 'daughter' that I'm pretty good at spoiling women. So Mom, when do we start looking for a house?"
"Right after the wedding," she said, before crying in my arms with happiness.
So I got to a traditional dance with my mother-in-law, twice. Both smothered me with kisses, for bringing our families together. My only regret was that my parents had passed before I became successful and had fallen in love. Dad would have loved Tory, and Mom would have doted on Cathy.
The surprise of the night for me was seeing Eric. I had emailed him an invitation, never dreaming he would show up. He looked tired and out of shape, but his eyes were clear, and his congratulations seemed heartfelt.
We spent a few minutes alone, catching up. The recent recession had hurt his businesses, but they were starting to recover. He had stopped making porn, and was in the midst of making another B movie. He admitted the script, crew and actors weren't as good as we had on our last, but said he had a good feeling about it. I congratulated him and wished him success. I didn't ask, but he volunteered that he and Savanna were taking a break away from each other. I nodded sympathetically, secretly thinking it was the best thing that could happen to him. He danced a dance each with both girls, apologizing for past behaviors and wishing them happiness.
Ours was a working honeymoon. Laura, Cathy's mother, became their personal assistant. Tory's mother went back home to reorder her home life, promising to be back soon. Both sisters stayed for a little while. We took them sightseeing, gave them a shot of fame as extras in a club scene. Amy shared her sister's red locks, while Sarah had the dark hair of her mother. They were both attractive girls in their own right, but they didn't hold a candle to Tory.
Dorian was handling the day to day operations, I was only called in when a financial decision was needed or a crisis arose.
The woman we had hired to play the lead character was starting to be a problem. Hispanic, she had the strikingly dark hair and sultry beauty her race was famous for, as well as the temperament. This was her first really big role, and she started developing an attitude pretty early on. I was called in.
We were in a small conference room again, in fact the same one that led me to where I am now, personally. I hope the good memories were enough to influence the meeting. Dorian, Leah, and our director were present, as well as Maria, her agent, and publicist. I never gave them a chance, speaking first.
"Maria, when you took this role, I'm pretty sure the director explained our expectations. Let's go over them again. You were hired to do a specific job, in a specific way, as laid out by the director and to a lesser extent the screenwriter. You agreed to those terms as part of your employment contract. Now you want to renegotiate those terms. Let me clear this up. There will be no changes. Do you want a reputation as a difficult bitch to work with, or that of a professional willing to do whatever is necessary for the success of the project? Think about that for a day and give me an answer. If you really can't work with us, we'll gladly let you go and wish you well. If you decide you want to enhance your reputation as a competent actress, then this whole meeting was pretty much pointless, wasn't it?"
Her mouth hung open and her agent flamed red. "Not acceptable. She deserves a..."
"First class ticket home. Our business manager will handle the details. Have a nice life, Miss Garza. Luck to you in future roles."
I left them stunned, walking out the door. My phone started ringing immediately. I checked, and it was her agent. I let it go to voice mail. Leah called me next.
"You sure you want to do this? You said yourself she was perfect for the lead role."
"She was, until this shit came up. I have to wonder, how much was her and how much her agent was involved? Doesn't matter, she's done. Have Jerry see who's out there, we need to recast as soon as possible."
Leah surprised me. "Will, I've never asked you for a professional favor in the whole time we've worked together. Please, I'm asking for one now. I don't think this was Maria's idea, and it's plain to see that's she devastated. I really think she'd do an excellent job, and I know you think so to or you'd have never let us hire her. If I send her to you, just her, no agent or entourage, will you talk to her? If you listen to her and still don't change your mind, you haven't lost anything. Please, Daddy?"
I grinned. Dorian had nicknamed me. "You're the father figure of our little family. And I've watched Leah around you. She hangs on your words sometimes, looking for approval. And just like a daughter, she knows how to manipulate your love for her into getting what she wants."
Leah had jokingly started calling me Daddy after that, and it stuck. Most of the crew actually thinks she is my daughter, and most times we don't correct them. And just like a daughter, she'd sulk if I didn't give her what she wanted. My wives thought it was hilarious, but told her to never, under any circumstances, call them Mom.
"We're just too young and hot to have a daughter as old as you. We're more the experienced, older sisters in this relationship. Come to us for any woman issues you have, just as you would if you had any biological sisters." That led to a big round of hugs, and now when she said 'Sis', I had to ask which one.
"That's a dirty trick, daughter. I would have done it just because you asked. For that, I get extra time with my granddaughter, no negotiation."
Leah laughed. "Not possible. You have her so much now she's confused over where she lives, exactly. I have a better idea. Knock my sisters up, so she can have some little cousins to lord over.'
"An excellent idea. I'll think on it. Tomorrow. Breakfast. Just Maria, no one else, except you."
They came through the door at eight exactly. Leah had a little half grin on her face, but Maria looked like she wanted to cry. I stood, seated them, and waited while they got drinks, coffee for Leah, Earl Grey with a twist of lemon for Maria.
I didn't dance around it. "Tell me, why do you think I should keep you? I guess you've been 'Hollywood' for too long. Any actor or crew member I've ever worked with will tell you I don't work that way. I hire you, give you my expectations, and expect you to do your part without fuss or drama. Don't, and I replace you. I like my drama on the screen, thank you very much."
Instead of answering, she started crying. Leah patted her hand and looked at me. "I think you made your point, Dad. She wants to apologize, and say she'll be a team player from now on. No demands, no pouts, no tantrums. Oh, and she sent her agent home and asked the agency for someone else. Seems that agent may not have her best interests at heart. Now stop being a meanie and tell the poor girl she can go back to work."
"Fine. But she's your responsibility now. Effective immediately, you're an associate producer, in charge of her. Dorian and I have talked about this, and decided it's time to add to your responsibilities. You work for your husband now, do a good job or he'll never let you live it down. Now go on then, I've got some things that need attention."
Leah looked at me with her mouth hanging open, and I managed to make it out of the dining room before she got her speech back. That night at dinner, she was all over me while Dorian laughed. "Daddy, you're an asshole! Thanks, I promise to do a good job."
"You better," I grinned, "it would be a shame if your husband had to fire you."
She stuck her tongue out at me and turned to her husband. "If he does, the Canadian winter might arrive a little early this year, especially in our bedroom." She wasn't smiling when she said it.
Her primary responsibility became riding herd on the four female leads. She was a terror, watching them like a hawk. No late nights out while working, no misbehaving on or off set, no drugs of any kind. One supporting actress that liked to party balked.
"Your not my mother!," she screamed at her one night when she caught her at a club in the closest large city, lines of powder residue on the table.
"Damn right I'm not, or I would have beat the hell out of you a long time ago. But since we're talking about parents, what do you think will happen when I tell Daddy about this? He'll drop you faster than your drug addled brain can comprehend. Now drag your stoned ass out of here and get in the car. Or not. If you don't, there will be a business class ticket home at the hotel when you get there. Decide, now!"
She bitched, but she got in the car, and kept a pretty low profile until her scenes were done. She was gone the next day, and she never worked with us again.
The girls both had very small parts, mostly just to keep their face out there, then I sent them to work with our business manager. They talked about it after a couple of weeks.
"It isn't even close to reality, honey. You can juggle the books like a circus performer and still stay out of trouble. The film may gross many times over the investment, but by the time the accountants and lawyers get done with it, we've lost our butts. It's amazing. Bob(our business manager)says he's never worked with anyone trying to be honest before. I think that's why he wants to make sure you use him on all our movies."
"Watch. Learn. I trust Bob or I wouldn't let him handle our money. I've talked to him about this, and he's willing to teach you. I don't ever plan on replacing him, in fact I've offered him a permanent job because if things go according to the plan I need to discuss with you, we'll soon have multiple projects going, and he can't be everywhere."
Intrigued, they listened while I lay it out. "There's a couple of things I'd like to pursue. First is the television series Leah and Dorian have been working on for the last couple of years. We've agreed in principle to have Sunfire Wizard produce and market the first season, thirteen shows. And Leah and I are almost done with Grolar Two, which we'll shoot next year. There's also an historical piece I've been playing with that CBC is interested in, if we decide not to make it into a feature film. That doesn't even take into account the Battle Babes movies we're kicking around. So, we're all going to be really busy for the next few years, especially since I threw your birth control pills away this morning."
They were so overwhelmed by the business aspects of our conversations that they almost let the last remark slip by.
"Gee, honey, it sounds like we...wait a minute, what did you just say?" Tory stopped talking, her mouth hanging open. Cathy laughed.
"He said we're gonna be having babies, hon, soon." Thet's when the screaming, crying, and loving started.
Leah and Dorian were grinning ear to ear the next day. "Welcome to my world," said Dorian, "sleepless nights, teething, the terrible twos, potty training. And lucky you, you get to experience it in stereo."
Leah just grinned. "First steps, learning to talk, hearing them say 'dada' and 'wuv yoo', feeling their tiny little hands grip yours for protection and love, makes me wonder why anyone would want kids anyway."
She was bouncing Cat on her knee while she talked. She wasn't paying much attention until she heard words she knew. "Wuv oo, Poppy," she said, grinning her gap toothed grin.
I took her and hugged her. "Wuv yoo too, Kitty-cat."
The family time over, we got down to work. "We've called Jerry in, he'll start casting for the series next month. We're assuming we'll do the show here, costs are low, and we have a good reputation with the locals, and the film commission. Any idea which network we want to pitch it to?"
They had obviously been thinking about it. "Well, if we go with cable we can get as bold as we want. Netflix originals are really hot right now, maybe we can get them interested. If we tone it down the CBC or any network in the States will probably take a look. I think we need to take a page out of the Netflix manual, and do all thirteen before we pitch it. That way we can accelerate the schedule, we might even get it done in two and a half to three months, once we start. Ideas? Discussion?"
There were a few minor points to work out, but I deferred most of the decisions to Dorian and Leah. It was their baby, something they'd dreamed of doing for years. The girls and I supplied most of the money, Dorian and Leah supplied most of the work. We had other things on our plate, so we left it in their hands.
Grolar Two was written, and as soon as the series was done filming we were going to start. This plot had the biologist, the nerd, and native girl, following the trail of the character played by Victoria, battling the prerequisite killer bears, greedy developers, and dealing with suspicious natives while they searched. Sylvia Shining Fox had a much larger part. The leading man from the first had a cameo, discovered living as a woman and in a relationship with a Mountain Man. His trademark long locks and slender build made him very convincing, especially with top of the line stylists and makeup artists working on him. He seemed to enjoy it enough to make me wonder if he was considering changing teams.
Sometime after the series wrap and the beginning of the movie, it happened. We had gone home, and the girls finally got around to getting the horses they wanted. Paso Fino, a breed I wasn't familiar with. They got two almost identical mares, and a stallion with a pedigree a mile long. "It seems to work for us," they'd coo.
I can shut my eyes and still see Cathy rushing into my office, waving an early pregnancy test showing positive. Tory followed, crying. Seems hers showed negative. I celebrated with Cathy and consoled Tory. It was a bit tense for a few days until they came to me with a proposal.
"Honey," grinned Cathy, "you're cut off. No more nooky for you! From me, any way. From now on until Tory tests positive, all your cute little baby makers are for her. I'm not willing to go without indefinitely, so get busy!"
Cathy slept in her bedroom for three weeks, and Tory nearly killed me. We were making love two and three times a day. We were both starting to miss our lover pretty badly when the test came back positive. Leah and Dorian came over to help us celebrate, and to share a little news. They hadn't told us, but they were trying for a sibling for Cat. She was almost exactly as far along as Tory. The girls couldn't drink, so Dorian and I tried to make up for it. They poured us both into bed, and spent the rest of the evening talking about names. They seemed to delight in our misery the next morning.
By the afternoon, we were more or less back to the land of the living. Cat was just past her second birthday, and the girls had promised her another present, so we walked down to the stables. It was her first time around horses, and I thought she'd be frightened, but once she petted one, we had to hold her to keep her out of the stall. "When you're big enough, baby, we'll get you one of your very own. We promise." She smiled at the magic word, 'promise'. We had never failed to deliver when we used that word, so as far as she was concerned it was written in stone.
Cathy and Tory rode almost every day, at first under the watchful eye of Senor Gomez. When he was convinced they could handle their mounts and could saddle them properly, he left them alone. He was glad the horses were here, up until then he really hadn't had much to do. He came to my office one day, beating around the bush until I asked him to get to the point. It all came out in a rush.
"My familia, we love it here. But we feel guilty because we do very little to justify what you pay us. And I have suspicions that the scholarship Maria got came from your family. I know you pay her way to much for the little housekeeping duties she does. Don't think I'm not grateful. I am, we are. But I feel useless sometimes. May I?"
I nodded and he took some papers out of a satchel he'd brought. Most of our property was in pasture, enough to support thirty horses without straining the land, plus fifteen acres that could be cultivated to grow part of their feed. He wanted us to go into the horse business.
It had never occurred to me to do anything with the property. I bought it because my girls wanted it. Oh, I loved the pond so much I had another, bigger one done, which I stocked with catfish, bass, and bream. Even bought a little jon boat and put a little electric trolling motor on it, to get the brush choked mouth, because that's where the best fishing was. Sometimes when I had writers block or if the girls were busy, I'd hop into our little off road truck and spend a pleasant hour or two fishing. I was a catch and release fisherman, although I loved salt and pepper catfish.
Before I let Jose continue I called the girls. "This concerns them more than me. They're the horse people. Maybe you should get your family down here, they'll be the ones who actually do the work if we decide to go with any plan you have."
When we were all gathered I looked at his family. Boy, their youngest had sure grown up. Fourteen now, she was already developing. And his wife, wow. Somehow, when the girls hired them, I expected a plump little woman in a peasant skirt and blouse, shy and retiring. Sofia was a willowy woman in her mid forties, looking thirty, with a mane of black hair and a very attractive figure, Jose was a lucky man. Maria was at school, so she missed the meeting.
Tory and Cathy were really impressed with his presentation. We talked of boarding horses for others, but I shot that down pretty quick. Too many strangers wandering around didn't set well with me. In the end, we decided to offer our stallion at stud, for up to thirty mares, and our two, of course. It would be pretty straightforward. The owners would drop their mares off when they were in season, and Saint John(before you ask, that was his name when we got him)would 'cover' them twice. Then the owners would pick them up. It was a pretty efficient system.
We started out slowly. Jose ran the breeding program, Tina, the youngest, was the chief groom, and Sofia ran the business end. The girls would help if we were home or had time, but it was mostly on Jose and his family. I made sure Tina and Sofia drew a salary for their efforts. They were really stunned when money was discussed. Jose figured he would just keep drawing his salary.
"No way, Jose," I said, cracking him up. "This is your baby. I think a sixty forty split of profits is fair." He was very happy, and when I told him he was to get the sixty, he was speechless.
"Look, you know I don't need the money. But my upbringing made me feel the property was underutilized anyway, so this is a win-win for everyone."
The girls agreed with me completely. They even went out and bought a more expensive, better pedigreed stud, doubling the operation. By now, Grolar II had been made. I was really careful with the girls, Cathy was five months along and Tory just under four when we finished. We used body doubles a lot. It was even more successful than the last, and there was a clamor for another, but that would be a long time into the future, if ever.
We decided a vacation was in order, and I took them to my old haunt in the south of France. They were a little self-conscious at first, wearing nothing but a thong in their current condition, but got over it quickly when they noticed the admiring looks from most of the men and a lot of the women on the beach.
To quote Yogi Berra, it was deja vu all over again. The Goddess appeared, rising again from the sea. As she got closer and recognized me, her smile was radiant. I was shocked by her appearance. The three years since I'd seen her had not been kind to her. There were bags under her eyes, she had a bit of a tummy roll, and her breasts sagged noticeable. But the Goddess was still in there, I could see it in her eyes.
"Goddess," I said, taking her hand and kissing it. I had used the voice of the Wizard, who hadn't made an appearance in a couple of years. The girls went wide eyed. I motioned them close. "Goddess, I present my wives, Cathy and Tory. You don't know it, but you had a role in bringing us together, and I'll always be thankful."
Her eyes grew thoughtful. She shook their hands, smiling. "Congratulations. I experienced once what you must experience on a regular basis, years ago. You are very lucky women. I've often wondered over the years what became of him. I knew he was never destined to be ordinary, and I see I was right."
The girls took to her immediately, after our history was explained. I sat, watching them chat, smiling with pleasure. She came to dinner at their invitation, looking exquisite in her gown. There was an air of sadness about her, the reasons becoming clear over an after dinner drink for us, juice for my girls. They often complained about how I treated them. "We're not made of glass, honey, we'll be fine." I always explained they more like precious china, and couldn't be replaced if they were broken. They'd giggle and quit complaining, for a little while.
The Goddess, it seemed, was the victim of a totally collapsed economy and a man who made poor business decisions. "He made some bad investments, and realized we were facing facial ruin. He gathered as many liquid assets as he could and disappeared. He's left me practically destitute. I have to sell my family home, the villa we've owned for centuries, to absolve my debts. There will be enough left over to live modestly for a few years, but my future looks bleak. I'm sorry to burden you, but I really needed to talk. Thank you for a lovely evening."
After we returned from escorting her back to her room, the girls started. "We have to help her." It wasn't a request from Tory, it was an order. Cathy was nodding her head.
"She's a proud woman, honies, I don't know if she would accept a handout." They just smiled.
"Oh, leave it to us, we'll have it sorted in no time."
The next thing I knew, we were in a bigger suite and The Goddess was living with us. "She's here to help us, honey. We're considering investing in some Greek real estate."
Two days later we were in her villa, a large, rambling structure beside the sea, with a huge garden and grounds. Debtors and the government had been rushing her to sell, so she could settle her finances. The debtors were keen to seize the land, talking about a future resort. They were bitterly disappointed when she paid everything off, even investigated to see if the money was obtained legally. The girls presented all the necessary paperwork, including a certificate stating the villa was an historic structure and should be preserved. They were furious, but nothing could be done.
I was really surprised when she flew home with us, taking residence in one of our bedrooms. It seems she had never had children, and almost no close relatives, and she had mothering instincts she had always suppressed. She and the girls told me she'd be staying at least until the children were born. I was wise enough not to argue. Besides, I liked her having her around. The girls had made it clear in no uncertain terms that there would never be a repeat of our magical afternoon, and we were both fine with it, realizing lightning rarely struck twice in the same location. Besides, dying slowly and in great pain at the hands of my girls did not appeal to me.
Ursala(her real name, we got tired of calling her Goddess)and Laura were instant friends. Laura had shed much of her careworn look, fussing over the girls. Leah surprised Ursala by hugging her tightly when they first met, explaining later she was indirectly responsible for the birth of her daughter. The Gomez family took to her instantly, over a shared love of horses. Ursala claimed our original stallion as her own, handling the unruly beast until it was gentle as a lamb.
She came down to the office a couple of months later, wanting to talk. "You know I have no real money, now. The villa is actually yours. I'm here to ask if I can stay, at least for a while. Not in your house, I'm moving in with Laura after the babies are born. We're in a relationship now. You do remember I'm bisexual, right? We discovered we fit well together. Who knows, sometime later we may find a man we could share. After all, there is history of that in the family."
I wasn't as surprised as the girls. I'd seen the glances, the skin contact that seemed to linger. Good for both of them. "This is your home now, Goddess. It would leave a big hole if you were to leave. Never, ever, worry about money. You have no idea how wealthy we are, and you will always be taken care of. With your permission, I'll open am account at the bank, deposit into it regularly. Plus, your home is your home, and it always will be. Never think otherwise, or you'll offend all of us."
"No! It isn't my home now, it's belongs to the family. We can use it for vacations. It might even be used in movies at some point. I could really see an Issabella novel set there."
She had a point.
I looked around me. We were sitting in the screened enclosure I'd had built. I built it because it had gotten way to crowded at the dining room table for family meals, and this was my solution, at least for the summer.
Jose and his family were there. We were more friends than employer/employees, thanks in part to our business venture. Maria had decided to become a vet, saying it would be handy for the family business. Ursala and Laura were always there for our traditional Sunday dinners(that's lunch to you non-southerners), as were Leah, Dorian, and their children, if they weren't working. They'd had a little brother for Cat, which she found fascinating.
Tory's mother surprised us all a few months back by moving to our area. She had divorced her husband, sold the house she got in the settlement, and with the money she had gotten besides, was very comfortable. She brought the two youngest daughters with her. My girls insisted on buying her a house in the same development as Leah and Dorian. Laura and Ursala also had a house in the neighborhood. Realtors loved us, because just as soon as they found out who was interested, they stood firm on the price, knowing we'd pay.
So you get the idea, Sunday lunch could get really crowded, especially if the youngest girls brought friends or boyfriends, which was pretty well all the time. I think the food was as big a draw as the company. Sofia would go all out with the Mexican dishes, Ursala would usually counter with a Greek dessert and some meat dish, usually lamb, Laura would bring veggies, and occasionally catfish, which she knew I'd love. Carmella(Torys' mom) knew a few Colombian dishes, and made the best fried chicken I'd ever tasted. The meals made me glad the girls had put a home gym in.
I loved it when a baby cried and three heads would snap around. Was it D W(Dorian William), Ursala Leah, or Carmella Laura? Yes both my first two were girls. We became something of a local legend, when I showed up three times in seven weeks for a birth. First was Cathy, two weeks later it was Leah, and then Tory. I held my first child, and seven weeks later my second, experiencing feelings I'd never had before. I was immortal now, my blood would run in the veins of generations to come. I prayed they would all have good lives, and I would live long enough to see at least the next generation. It was a very humbling realization. Every man in the universe should experience fatherhood, in my opinion. Maybe the world would be better.
We sat down and had a long talk. We decided one more each, and after that they would be getting into the danger zone. So when the girls turned one, we would start all over. Was I happy? Damn right I was.
We had our own studio now, and our no nonsense approach to making movies was almost legendary. Our studio had a nickname in Hollywood, The Factory, because we ground out movies the way other companies manufactured products. And just like a manufacturing plant, if you didn't produce to expectations you were fired. Big name actors sometimes declined parts if we were involved, knowing we wouldn't put up with anything stupid or unprofessional. Others lobbied to get parts, glad to work in a professional environment where the drama was saved for the screen. The series Leah and Dorian developed was in its' third season, and had won numerous awards, including three Emmys. I even got one on for best script, along with Leah. The Issabella movie we had done was one of the best grossing romances that year.
I had written three more Battle Babes, and was thinking of winding it down. They had been fun to write, and had made me very rich, but I was tired of them. I was looking for an epic way to end it.
To my amazement, one of my mysteries made the bestseller lists. The lead character, private detective and struggling actor Dirk Hanson stood six feet three, had jet black hair and piercing blue eyes, classic good looks and a body that looked like it was chiseled in stone. His nickname in the industry was Dark Handsome, a play on both his looks and name.
Dark Handsome and the Princess Of Porn was so well received, we decided to make it into a movie. Who knows, it might end up as a franchise. The plot included an in depth look at the dying industry, being replaced by amateurs on the internet, with embezzlement, corruption, and murder thrown in. He even falls for one of the women he met, and is wondering in the last lines in the book if he could ever have a relationship with her, considering her career choices. I was already two thirds done with the sequel.
The jewel in my film industry crown, as far as I was concerned, was what would turn out to be a series of movies on the history of Canada. I'd always been a history geek, and went to as many museums as I could find, fascinated by the events that shaped countries. Sylvia Shining Fox, now an established star on Canadian television, got me started, taking me to a museum dedicated to the Voyageurs, the backbone of the French fur trade from the sixteen hundreds until its' end in the late eighteen hundreds. Fur traders would search France for workers, getting a lot from orphanages. Some jumped at the chance, some were coerced, others were outright sold into the trade. The perfect candidate had to be small, around five two, and weigh less than a hundred and twenty pounds. They had to be able to endure eighteen hour days paddling a canoe, and have the ability to carry their own body weight for extended distances. The canoes were enormous craft, holding from twelve to thirty-six paddlers, their supplies, and their trade goods, which they exchanged for furs. The life was hard and many did not survive. Those that did often became successful, and were encouraged to find Indian wives to cement the relationship between the traders and the tribes. This practice led to the beginnings of the Metis Nation, which ended tragically in 1885.
I decided to film the movie in both French and English, and had the native actors speak in their own tongues as often as possible. We found a young French actor perfect for the part. Five three, he was in very good shape and quite handsome, according to my girls. . Sylvia Shining Fox was cast as his love interest, and the rest of the cast from French and Canadian actors. Our leading man had to learn English. The action scenes were incredible, mainly due to a dedicated group of re-enactors.
I deliberately didn't use any of our regular people, and besides, our other projects had them booked anyway. A new French director was chosen, and he was brilliant, gifted at getting the most out of the actors. It was filmed in France and almost every province in Canada.
When it was released, it set box office records in France and Canada. It won the French and Canadian version of the Oscars for best director, and best female lead. The new actor won a Golden Globe for best performance by a male lead, and we got nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film, ironic for a movie from an American company.
My family was with me all the way. Leah and Dorian pretended to be a little pissed they didn't get to write or produce, but their busy schedule just didn't allow it. Tory and Cathy were so enthused they bought a canoe, and paddled often on the big pond, putting our girls in the middle when they got old enough.
Thirty-eight acres joining our land went up for sale, and Jose and I bought it together. He surprised me by building a new barn, and purchasing three rare breeds of horse, bordering on the edge of extinction. He started an aggressive breeding program, and was soon recognized by various agencies for his efforts. He bought one breed I liked so much I insisted he house them separately, in a new barn. Cat, almost six by then, went wild when she saw them.
They were Fell Ponies, a European breed that had almost died out. They were making a comeback, and Jose had found a farm whose entire herd was up for sale, due to the health of the owners. He bought all sixteen mares and the stallion. They were actually small horses, usually standing between thirteen and fourteen hands, had a very docile nature and were incredibly strong for their size. Because of their good nature, they were often used as therapy horses, for the mentally and physically disabled still up to riding.
Usually running to black and brown, occasionally there would be a bay, or piebald. One bay mare, a three year old standing a small twelve hands, heard Cat and ambled over, sticking an inquisitive nose over the fence, nuzzling her hand as she stroked her.
She looked at me, tears in her eyes. "Poppy, can I..."
"She's yours, if you want, Cat. That's why we're here, so you can pick one out. You have to thank your Uncle Jose, he's the one who suggested you were old enough to begin riding, and these are excellent mounts for children and beginners."
She hugged Jose so hard we almost had to pry her off. Then he and the girls took her up to the barn, where her new saddle was waiting. Twenty minute later she was back, astride her new pony, grinning so hard her face almost disappeared. We watched for twenty minutes as she rode in a slow circle, controlled by a lead line held by Jose. Leah, who had never shown any interest when around the high strung Paso Finos, pointed at a big black. "That one is mine. Tell Jose he had better step up the breeding program, because I'm sure your kids and D.W. will want their own. By the way, congratulations."
Tory won the race this time, almost two months ahead of Cathy. We'd seen the ultra sounds, Cathy was carrying our new daughter, while Tory was carrying our son. They would join the family in three and five months, respectively. After that, we were done. Cathy wanted to argue, saying I owed her a son, but they were already in the danger zone, and I didn't want to push it. She finally agreed with me, especially when I told her in a few years, if she still felt that strongly about it, we'd look at adoption. If we stopped now, I'd still be sixty three when the last child graduated high school.
Life sailed along for another five years. I wrote three more Battle Babes, seemed I couldn't quite let it go. Four more Dark Handsome novels established him as a proven franchise, and Leah was already writing the second screen play, the first movie was as successful as any we'd produced. Issabella wrote two more romances, which made moderately successful movies.
The kids were growing like weeds, and the big house seemed a lot smaller these days. Tory and Cathy had gotten into showing horses, both theirs and some of the ones Jose bred. Cat would often be with them, showing Fell ponies. After talking it over, we took eight Fell mares, trained them, and built a small barn and a riding paddock. Three days a week mentally and physically challenged children and adults were brought out and given rides. Laura and Ursala both became volunteers, and did most of the work after being trained properly. Carmella helped, but her time was limited, because she often traveled with her husband. She had met Jerry, our casting director, at one of our shoots. They were close to the same age, and hit it off immediately. A year later, they married, an outdoor ceremony held at our farm.
Dorian and Leah talked me into opening a production facility right outside of Atlanta, in an abandoned old school. The old gym was perfect for a sound stage. What work we didn't do in Canada was done there, Dorian and Leah hadn't been back to LA more than three times in the last four years, and then just to see his mother and stepfather.
The tribe grew once again, and a realtor got a little richer when Leahs' folks bought a house in the same development, three houses down. They'd decided they were not going to miss out any more on their grandchildren, and just showed up. Uncle Jerry was a hit with the kids, keeping them laughing for hours, then switching gears, talking about serious things. Cathy caught me watching them, and confronted me later.
"What's going through that convoluted brain of yours?"
"Something totally different," I said, quoting Monty Python. She didn't get it, a generational thing, I guess.
"Talks with Uncle Jerry" was an innovative new show, aimed at ten to fourteen year olds instead of toddlers. Jerry would have thirty to forty kids in the studio, tell them jokes, have a musical guest, and then he'd talk to them about things like peer pressure, divorce, abuse, cyberbullying, and other hot topics. He would even skirt sex lightly to the older ones, urging them to talk to an adult close to them about the changes in their bodies. He'd have guests, a fifteen year old recovering alcoholic, a thirteen year old girl who almost committed suicide over bullying. One episode talked about addiction, and he even showed some old news clips about his descent, and talked about his recovery and how it was a constant battle to remain sober and clean. The camera panned the audience, all watching with rapt attention. It won a Peabody. I considered it the best work I'd ever done.
Leah was so proud of her dad she was almost delirious. She got me off to the side one Sunday, walking me down to my office. When we got there she gave me a tremendous, no holds barred, soul imprinting kiss. Even as she did it, I could feel no sexual overtones from either of us. "Thanks. As much as I appreciate it, I have to ask what brought it on?"
"Love," was her simple reply. "And thanks for what you did. Jerry is my dad. He'll always be my dad. But he was never around much as I grew up, even while he was still with my mother. Then, for years, he basically disappeared from our lives. I know, intellectually, that he had to fight the demons that controlled his life, but that didn't mean much to a twelve year old girl. You, however, have been a constant in my life since the day we met. You mentored me, petted me when I needed reassurance, kicked my ass figuratively when it was necessary. Dorian says I was never fully a woman until you came into our lives. You have been always been the first one I turned to when I needed advice, and you were always honest with me. You held my hand when Cat was born, and I realized lately that you've held my hand ever since."
I felt a lump forming in my throat as I listened to her. Allergies, I think.
"What I'm trying to say in this awkward, roundabout way, that even though Jerry is my dad, I consider you my father. Do you understand?"
"I, I do. And I'll always consider you my first daughter. Always. My daughter by choice, because I need you to be. My world wouldn't be nearly as bright without you. Now stop, before your father blubbers like a baby."
We hugged fiercely for a few more minutes, calming down. As we walked back up the path, listening to the din of our family all together, I don't think I ever felt happier in my whole life.
Then a snake slithered in to my Garden of Eden. It walked like a human, talked like a human, but it was a snake of the lowest magnitude.
I hadn't laid eyes on my old friend Eric in three years. I'd get a sporadic email every once in a while. I'd always respond, update him on the family, and invite him to visit. He never came.
He dabbled in film a few more times, before giving it up. I figured he would, his penchant for getting bored quickly still in force. I'd seen two of his efforts, one was pretty good, the other just short of awful. It didn't get to the big screen, and ended up on cable. The difference was in the crews he used. Good people make all the difference. It's why I tended to lock in anyone who did excellent work. Most of the group from the first Grolar movie were still with me, even relocating to Atlanta. Oh, they'd go off and work with other people as time allowed, but our projects always got first consideration.
Eric and Savanna were still in a quasi-relationship. She had talked him into moving to LA, and their parties and escapades often made the gossip columns, and in some cases the police blotters. He mostly paid their way out of things, but occasionally money didn't help. He ended up on probation, and Savanna did a year in jail for what was essentially date rape.
Never one with a sunny outlook on life, prison, even in the camp cupcake facility Eric managed to get her into, hardened her view of life. She was enraged when she was released to find Eric had gotten into a relationship with someone else, and didn't pick her up. He sent a car service, and they took her to her new apartment. He'd paid a year in advance, and had put fifty thousand in an account for her.
Somehow, his new relationship ended, and she wormed her way back into his life. He'd been clean since she was out of his life, but three months after they were back together the parties started again.
Then one day, out of the blue, he showed up at the studio. I was in my office, going over some revisions Leah had made on one of our scripts. She and Dorian were off on a 'honeymoon', something they couldn't afford when they married. They were at our villa in Greece, and traveling around Europe. The kids were with us, having the time of their lives. We'd get emails everyday, and they seemed to be having a ball. They visited the beach we liked so much in france, and Dorian had taken a picture of Leah, from the rear. Obviously topless, the string of her thong was so tiny she looked nude. She had a cow when she saw it.
They even went to the Cannes Film Festival, as guests. My second movie about the Canadian fur trade was being shown, to really favorable reviews.
In a word, Eric looked awful. He must have gained forty pounds, apparently he'd stopped exercising. Plus, he looked bone tired. No, he looked soul tired. I got the story out of him in bits and pieces.
They'd gotten in trouble again. He didn't go into details, but it involved the underaged daughter and son of a prominent Hollywood figure. His lawyer suggested it would be a good time to take a 'vacation' without Savanna, to let it blow over.
He stayed with us for a month. He was amazed at my home life. "How can you stand the noise?"
I had to admit, with a houseful of young children, it could be chaotic at times. Besides the wives and kids, there were always other people, the grandparents, official and unofficial, the aunts(Jose's daughters and Tory's sisters, plus the young men that always seemed to follow them around), and the many friends we had made for a pretty full homelife.
"It's not noise, Eric. It's the sound of happiness. I'm so used to it I made a recording of a Sunday dinner, to play while I work. It helps me concentrate."
He hardly drank while he was with us, a glass of wine at dinner, and a few beers when Jose, Jerry, and I took him fishing on Jerry's pontoon boat. He was fascinated with the horses, and I took him riding a few times.
He nearly fell down laughing when he saw my 'horse'. The girls and Jose got it for my birthday last year. He was huge, sixteen and a half hands, a golden Palomino color, and he was also a mule, the result of a union between a Mammoth Jack burro and a Tennessee Walking Horse.
We suited each other. He was stubborn(surprise)and often ill tempered, except with children. They could climb all over him and he'd just stand there, but if an adult he didn't know or like got close he was all teeth and hooves. He liked Jose, and tolerated the girls, but he bonded to me. He was a pleasure to ride, having a really smooth gait. I had to keep him away from the stallions, because he was pretty quick to establish the pecking order, and believe me, he wasn't on the bottom. He liked mares though, even if he couldn't do anything about it.
He was almost back to the old Eric, his color was back, and he was working out twice a day in our gym, now down twenty pounds with a lot better muscle tone. Expressing an interest in moving, Maria and Tory showed him a house in the neighborhood. Ursala and Laura were next door neighbors, Jerry and Carmella lived right down the street, Dorian and Leah a block over. He was seriously considering making an offer.
I felt good, no, I felt great about the situation. We'd never have the friendship we shared before the girls, but he was still my friend, and I felt like he was finally back.
It was a Thursday, just another day, like any other, when my world was shaken to the core. I was at my office in the studio, going over some revisions with Leah, when the phone rang. It was Maria. She'd gone up to the house looking for Eric, they were supposed to ride together and he hadn't shown. She was almost screaming.
"Tio Will! You have to come home! Now! Some black woman is at your house, screaming and ranting. She has a gun and she's threatening everyone. She didn't see me and I ran away. What should I do?"
I was already out of my chair, running for my car, Leah on my heels. "Call 911 now! And stay out of sight? Where are the kids?"
"Ursala and Laura took them all out for ice cream, remember? They've looked forward to it all week."
I breathed a sigh of relief. At least they were safe. "Call them, now! Tell them to take the children to their house and wait."
Sometimes it's handy to be rich and famous. I called the local Sheriff's department. Maria had already called them, and they had units on the way. Half mile down the road I picked up a cruiser, who got in front of me, lights and sirens going and set the pace. seventy or better on the straightaways. A mile from the house he cut the siren for a silent approach.
It looked like a cop convention when I arrived. A swat captain met me as I got out.
"What do you know about a woman named Savanna? Apparently she's the one holding them, threatening to kill them."
Savanna! I told the captain as much as I could, gave him her full name, and he ran her. "There's warrants out for her in LA, probation violations mostly, but there's an outstanding DWI charge, and she's suspected in a drug deal that went bad in San Diego. No one got killed, but five people were injured, bullet wounds all. She's considered armed and dangerous."
They were making plans, trying to negotiate. Her reply was to shoot in our general direction, wounding a deputy in the leg. The situation was spiraling out of control. They pretty much ignored me as they planned a breech. I slipped out quietly, surprising the cops when I slipped between two trees and made it to the side of the house. They were waving me back, but I kept going. I went in the backdoor, creeping forward until I was just outside the dining room. Tory and Cathy were slumped in their chairs, mostly unconscious. Eric was on the floor, and Savanna was kicking him. "Leave me, motherfucker? I don't think so. You're mine, no one else will ever have you! Where's Will, bitch? I'm gonna kill him! We'd have been happy if he would have just left us alone."
She was waving a large pistol around. I heard a loudspeaker outside. Savanna responded to the hail with another shot out the window. "Looks like they're about to rush us," she yelled, looking down at Eric, "Don't worry baby, they'll never take us alive. Let's take these bitches with us, someone to play with in hell. I'll see you later, baby." She raised the pistol, aiming at his head. I stepped into the room.
She looked up, just in time to see the double barrel shotgun explode, both barrels hitting her center mass, blowing her out the window onto our porch. The girls had taken up skeet shooting a few years back. Soon almost the whole family was hooked, and we kept the shotguns in a converted mudroom just inside the back door, locked securely. I picked up Cathy's twenty gauge, the closest to the door, and loaded it. All we had was skeet shot, so that's what she got.
Was I remorseful? Not in the least. She was going to kill my wives, the mothers of my children. If I hadn't had a gun I would have tried to kill her with my bare hands. Besides, I didn't kill her.
Messed her up pretty good, though. Even skeet shot can be pretty effective, if you're hit at close range with enough of it. She lost her gall bladder, her spleen, and part of one kidney, and enough shot hit her gun arm to partially paralyze it. I didn't even realize she had shot me until the adrenaline had worn off. In the shoulder, when she'd turned towards me.
When she went through the window all hell broke loose. Swat charged in. I was still holding the empty shotgun, and they put me on the ground pretty quick. I think they used every ambulance the local rescue squad and the hospital had. Months later I presented each with a brand new vehicle, fully equipped, as a thank you.
I was treated and kept overnight. The bullet had passed through my shoulder, managing to miss bone. The doctor told me I'd be sore for awhile but would heal quickly. He told me to rest and take it easy. I got up off the bed and went hunting for my wives.
They had been drugged. Savanna had shown up with a bottle of bourbon, acting contrite, and asked if she could spend a few moments with Eric. The girls had agreed, only if they were in the room. She didn't like it but they gave her no choice. Pulling the pistol out after she was in the house, she got them into the dining room. Opening the bottle she forced them to drink, Eric the most.
The police analyzed it later, a potent brew of cocaine, date rape drugs, barbituates, and some compounds that they couldn't identify. The ER doctor was pretty sharp, and thought they may be experiencing alcohol poisoning, prompting him to have their stomachs pumped. Without a doubt it saved Eric's life, since she had forced him to drink the most.
It scrambled their brains, a little. The girls were foggy for two weeks. Thankfully, they were so far out of it they didn't remember the confrontation. When their faculties returned, they were so shaken I couldn't leave them for weeks.
Eric had to be placed in a care facility, one that catered to the most severe of addicts, while his system readjusted. After ten weeks he was functional enough to be released, coming straight to us. Between the girls and the rest of the family, he was under constant care. It took him almost a year to recover fully. He spent the time wisely, falling in love and marrying Maria, once he was declared fully competent.
I was surprised to find that in the event of mental incompetence, he had put in a living will that I be named guardian. I suspect it was written when we were much younger and he'd never gotten around to changing it. A judge agreed, and I was his guardian until he was declared sound.
I found his businesses in shambles. Savanna had gotten hold of most of his financials, and was steadily siphoning them off. After the crime, she was investigated more deeply. She'd used part of the money to finance drug deals, and the rest was sitting in offshore accounts. He got almost every dime back.
In the end, Savanna was charged with kidnapping, three counts of attempted murder, drug trafficking, embezzlement, probation violations, and a dozen other minor charges in both federal and state courts. She was unrepentant, and after six months of examinations, deemed sound enough to stand trial.
It was one of the shortest trials on state record. Guilty on all charges. After sentencing she was turned over to the feds, who were really interested in her drug associates. I looked at her closely as they they took her away. She held her right arm awkwardly, a result of the paralysis. Most of her right breast was gone, and her torso was a mass of scars. She had to be on a restrictive diet, mostly baby food, because her internal organs were so damaged. I wondered how it had affected her sex drive. She looked me in the eye as she passed, burning with hatred. Did I feel sorry for her? Not a bit.
The story was a national sensation. Sex, drugs, movie people, the tabloids ate it up. After living quietly for years, we were in the limelight, and I didn't like it. It got so bad I called all the networks, telling them we'd give one interview, at our studios, in one week. They could all film it, but only two journalists were allowed to ask questions, and we had veto rights over who. It would be up to them to pick them, or we'd choose our own, film it independently, and release it on the internet.
I would have loved to be a fly on the wall while they negotiated and horse traded to pick the journalists. It came down to Charlie Rose, a man I'd admired greatly, and a young blond from Fox I'd never heard of. In a nod to Rose, we sat around a large kitchen table in our sound studio, and gave the histories of our lives. We'd been coached by our lawyers, who were present, on what we could and couldn't say about our relationship.
The blonde, Melissa Andrews, got into it pretty quickly. "Are they your wives?"
"We're life partners, We have children together. But we're not married, at least not in a legal sense. I find it odd you can live with as many people as you want, but you can marry only one. I feel that barrier will fall in the next twenty years or so. Don't think so? Bet you thought the same about homosexuals being able to legally marry. I can marry Tory, or Tory could marry Cathy, but we can't all be married. Does it matter to us? It does to me, I don't think it ever bothered the girls much. They both have my name, but only because they went to court and changed it. But make no mistake, I'm just a henpecked husband over fifty, but the henpecking is done in stereo. Do I recommend it? Only if you think it's right for you. Think about it though, the tribulations can be twice as hard, but the rewards can be twice as sweet."
Charlie Rose surprised me. "There isn't much of a paper trail on you before about twenty years ago, when you started making movies. Then it seems you were everywhere. Your production company is responsible for two very successful television series, and your theatrical movies have a very impressive track record. If that isn't enough, you seem to be able to work with some of the most reclusive writers in the world. How is that all possible?"
I took a deep breath. We'd talked about it beforehand, and I'd decided it was time to come out of the shadows. Time to let the world know who I was.
"It was really easy, Charlie. You see, I'm Rock Stone. I'm also Issabella, and Wiley B. Smiley. I'm a one man shop."
That surprised even him into silence. Then the blond laughed. "You really expect us to believe it? You are three of the most successful writers of the last two decades?"
"You're a journalist, Miss Andrews. I don't expect you to take anything at face value, that would be pretty naive, for a professional, now wouldn't it? Do what you're supposed to do. Investigate."
Charlie couldn't help but smile as the woman blushed furiously. "Well, I believe you. It's just to easy to verify, if you open up. But tell me, why did you reveal that now?"
I shrugged. "Age, attitude, I don't really know. Just tired of living in the shadows, I guess. Doesn't change me personally. I'm still a pretty private person, protective of my family. Just like any guy in the suburbs. You try to do the best you can for your family, no matter what dynamic it may consist of."
Melissa, smarting by my put down, tried to attack the girls over their past. I smiled, knowing what was coming. I'd done my own investigating. They were smiling, nodding their head, waiting for her to finish.
"Why, yes, Melissa, we were in porn. Are we proud of it? Not particularly. We did what we had to to survive. Surely you know what that's like, don't you? When you first moved to LA, a single mother with a small child, didn't you once do a spread for a major adult magazine of the time? I bet you're glad now they never published it."
She'd gone white, all her moral high ground evaporating under her feet. "How did you...I paid good money to get rid of those pictures!" Suddenly she shut up, realizing she'd just confirmed she had indeed posed nude.
She lost her taste for the interview, and Charlie carried the rest of it, talking about the incident that had sparked the interview, asking about future projects, commenting on our commitment to our community with charity events, our horse therapy, and our partnership with Jose saving dying equine breeds. He said later in his memoirs it was one of his most memorable interviews.
We were hot for awhile, then some senator got caught doing something with a foreign politicians' underage daughter, and we were old news.
Eric and Maria bought two hundred acres twenty minutes away, and built a house that looked a lot like ours, and a nice clinic for her to practice out of. He became a minor partner in the studio, developing a taste for television shows. They have four kids now, all boys. Eric says they're not going to stop until they have a girl, but Maria swears the next one will be the last, no matter what the sex is.
Tina went to college, majoring in agribusiness, and took over the horse operation when her father retired. She married, a Swedish exchange student who is scared to death of horses. He's an engineer. Two kids, one each, so far.
Both Tory's sisters went to school, studying film. One is a sound editor for us, the other is a fledgling director, working under one of our best on a television show. Both married, one child each, both girls.
We have most family events in the summer, there just isn't a house big enough to hold all of us. I expanded the outdoor dining room, because I had to.
After co-writing several Battle Babe novels with Leah, I turned them over to her. She's working on a second generation storyline that holds a lot of promise. Issabella retired, though I still write a romance from time to time. They aren't quite as successful, a gender bias I suspect.
I turned the studio over to Eric, Dorian, and Leah. I'm still Chairman of the Board, but I only come in if they need advice. I leave the day to day decisions to them.
All this happened because I was at my desk one day, after working twelve and fourteen hours a day for weeks, trying to keep our latest project on time and under budget, when I felt a tightening in my chest. It got worse as the day went on, and not being an idiot, I immediately went to my doctor. That resulted in a trip to the hospital, where I was admitted for 'tests'.
The girls went crazy, and the rest of the family descended on the hospital like an angry horde. "Stress," the doctors said, "and he really needs to exercise more. A change in diet wouldn't hurt, either."
The upshot of the whole episode was that the family took a vote and decided it was time for me to retire. I wasn't allowed to cast a vote. The threats my wives made if I didn't follow their advice would have scared a hardened terrorist.
So, while the family indulged in all the spicy and delicious meals we were known for, I got salads for awhile. The girls also had a tennis court installed, and I went back to playing, appalled at how bad I was. The kids were beating the crap out of me. Of course, I was fifty-five and out of shape, and they were teenagers, but still.
After three months I was back to eating whatever the family had, but only in moderation. I lost twenty-six pounds and had an excellent fat/muscle ratio.
Of course, the girls were already retired, concentrating on our babies, if since the youngest were fifteen now they could still be counted babies. I became a soccer dad, helping haul our extended family to sporting events, practices, any lessons they were taking, movies and outings, anything at all. I ended up purchasing another minivan to match the ones we already had. This was less stress? Of course it was.
The best times were when we were riding our horses, and fishing. We'd saddle up after Sunday lunch, if it was weather fit, and ride the trails we'd laid out. I still had Mike, my mule, although his riding days were almost over. Pretty soon I'd retire him, giving him his own small domain, along with a few older mares he could lord over. I'm pretty sure he'd be happy.
I would lead, Tory and Cathy following on their fourth generation Paso Fino mares, who pranced nervously, chafing at the slow pace. Then came Leah and the kids, mostly on Fell ponies. Dorian had finally broken down and started riding one of the rare breeds, a small draft horse with curly hairs flowing down its' legs. They'd follow along for about fifteen minutes, when the girls decided enough was enough, and go thundering by me, followed by everyone over ten, whooping and screaming like banshees. I worried a little, but I made them all wear helmets and vests, that were the equine version of an air bag. It was tethered to the the saddles, and if you came off the horse it deployed. The younger kids and I would follow along, while they complained endlessly. They knew it was no use.
Their fishing trips could get really interesting. Sometimes we'd have five boats in the water, three pontoons and two bass boats. I rarely got to fish, having to bait hooks and release the fish they caught, while the kids giggled and laughed, and the women lay out in various styles of very attractive swimwear, getting sun.
I came in one day and immediately felt my neck prickle. My wives had that 'I know something you don't' smirk on their faces. It came out as we prepared for bed.
"You got a letter today."
Knowing I had to play the game, I waited. "It was an invitation. To your high school reunion. Forty years, wow. We already RSVPed, saying we'd be there."
"Why would you do that? I didn't like most of those people then, why would I care to see them now?"
"It's not about you seeing them, honey, it's about you being seen," said Cathy. "Yeah, we want to show our honey off, maybe rub it into the faces of the ones who thought you'd never amount to anything," chimed in Tory.
"To quote someone I can't remember, living well is the best revenge. I'm rich beyond anything I could ever imagine, married to not one but two of the most beautiful women on the planet, have great children I couldn't be more proud of, and an extended family like nothing I could ever envision. Why go back and remember times when I was less than happy? I don't think we'll be going."
I stepped out of the limo the girls insisted we arrive in, and turned, helping my wives out. There was a small crowd out front, smokers no doubt, who watched in awe as they appeared, dressed to the nines in designer gowns, diamonds glittering at their throats, wrists, and ears.
It was fun when we walked up to the registration desk to check in and get our badges. One of the women manning the desk had been a cheerleader. She was still attractive, even with at least forty more pounds on her frame. She'd always been friendly, so I gave her a smile and hug. Her eyes widened when I introduced the girls as my wives and asked for their name tags.
The girls were all over her, asking questions about me when I was a teen, laughing hysterically when she showed them my senior pictures, with my skinny frame and shoulder length hair. Then they all whipped out photos of the kids, and complimented each other on them. Seems Clarice had six. Busy girl.
We finally found a table and sat. They had a DJ playing music from our youth, and when we danced they had to stop because they were laughing so hard at my semi-alcoholic attempt to 'bust a move'. We visited with all my old friends, and the girls recorded the tales of our misspent youth. I had a feeling they were going to play them for our kids sometime in the future.
Then I saw her. My ex. She was just as slender as she was forty years ago, she'd always had a high metabolism. She was about to turn away when I took her hand. "Melanie, how are you?"
She looked scared to death. After all, the last few times I'd seen her, I had been pretty harsh. "Fine, " she said nervously, looking back at a table. The man, fat and gray, was obviously drunk, his head nodding as he struggled to stay awake.
"Your husband?" She nodded, looking miserable.
"Look, Melanie, I won't keep you long. I just wanted to apologize for my cruel words the last time we talked. I was still hurting, because I still loved you at the time. I hope your life has been everything you hoped for. I hope you're happy. I am."
I hugged her, and turned to go, bumping into the girls. I hadn't realized they were standing behind me. They both hugged me briefly, introduced themselves, and shooed me away, dragging Melanie away to an empty table, where they talked for twenty minutes, before getting up and returning to me.
"Take us home, honey, we have an urgent need to be close to you, to hold and love you, to appreciate how lucky we are to have you."
They didn't have to be told, they knew I would always be the lucky one.
The next morning, they started. "We had a good talk with your ex. Her world is crumbling. Her husband is losing the business, it never recovered from the crash. Every thing they have is heavily mortgaged, and they'll lose it all soon."
"So you have to help her."
"Because it will reaffirm to us just how good a man you are. You loved her once, try remembering the good times. Consider it a cleansing, finally letting go of the past."
"I let go of the past the first time I kissed both of you. But if it makes my wives happy, I'll help."
The girls handled it, saving their home and getting them debt free. Then they told them they were on their own, and to never contact us again.
I sat back, years later, admiring the huge Christmas tree, barely visible under the mound of presents, my four kids and assorted cousins scrambling around, laughing, giddy with anticipation. My two oldest were married now, nice boys. I know, because I had them investigated. My youngest girl had her girlfriend from college with her, who followed her around like a puppy, looking overwhelmed and scared to death. My son Garrett had his future wife with him, a Greek he'd met when we were vacationing at our villa. Ursala had introduced her as a distant cousin. She was the Goddess, reborn.
The girls were flitting around, in matching red dresses and santa caps, tweaking the decorations. They were fifty six now, looking thirty(in my eyes, at least), as beautiful now as the day I met them. Cathy had refused to dye her hair as she aged, and now it was an intriguing mix of gold and silver. Tory steadfastly refused to admit it, but her glowing red mane was chemically enhanced now.
I had the little girl Eric and Maria wanted so badly asleep on my lap, worn out with excitement. She was number seven, with six older brothers. Maria just couldn't refuse Eric in his quest for a daughter. After she was born, Maria had her tubes tied, closing down the baby making factory permanently.
We'd had to rent the VFW hall to hold everyone, and they were starting to arrive. Leah and Dorian, Laura and Ursala, Jose and Sofia, Tina and Lars. Dorian's mother and stepfather were due to arrive soon. Eric and Maria came in followed by Amy and John, Sarah and Mike right behind. Carmella came in with her kids, her Jerry carrying yet another bunch of presents. Cat came in last, with her new husband Derrick, along with D W, and his girlfriend. My family, all. If God took me today, I couldn't complain. I'd let Him explain it the girls.
OH, and I got one of the best Christmas presents ever. I was about to be a grandfather, twice, in roughly six months, for one, seven for the other. They hadn't done tests yet, but they were positive they were both girls. My wives didn't know, and I asked them not to give them the news until the end of the night, knowing they'd cry for a long time, making me cry with them. Let them enjoy the party first. Then we'd celebrate the milestone privately. I doubted any of would get much sleep tonight.
May 15, 2018 in romance