Author's Note: Chapter Four isn't really a "Chapter" at all: it's a separate story that picks up just a little down the road in our characters' lives. If the previous chapter had told you that they lived "happily ever after," then this tale would pick up somewhere between "Happily" and "Ever."
My name is David Rothman, and this is a story about the three most impressive women I've ever met.
Now, one of those ladies I already knew. Wanda Perkins, a fellow grad student at Berkley. Sharp, pretty, witty, and a total bitch. Well ... she could be, when she wanted to. I had pursued her during the past two years ... and I'd even gotten her to go out with me once. We both had a really good time; but when I had tried to kiss her goodnight, she turned me down flat; and she'd refused to accept another date thereafter. My only consolation over the next year was that she had apparently refused to go out with anyone else, either.
Because of our chosen fields of study, we were forced to work together closely ... in classes, in labs, and in extra assignments. In point of fact, we kept things pretty civil. She had helped me when I needed it, and I had reciprocated. But I never actually got over her, if you know what I mean. From time to time, I'd suggest discussions over coffee or drinks; and I could tell that she wanted to, but she never allowed herself any intimacy whatsoever where I was concerned.
Things became a little strained when I came up with something truly important ... something that would definitely result in money and scientific recognition. I sought her help in some areas of this venture, but she accused me of trying to use my good fortune for the benefit of promoting romance. She was right, of course; but still ...
Basically, I had developed a mathematical model for ... and then built ... a 5-qubit quantum processor utilizing a laser shining through a crystal of cesium chloride, which had been obtained from a sample of pollucite, which is a zeolite mineral normally found in Manitoba. (My sample, however, had come from South America.) Most people who had tried multi-qubit processing in the past had done so on the atomic scale ... beryllium, for example. But cesium chloride (or at least my sample of it) had an absolutely perfect cubical crystalline structure, much more exact than iron pyrite (fool's gold) or potassium chloride (common salt). And so, every time I broke and parsed pieces of my perfectly cubical crystal, I came up with other, smaller perfectly cubical crystals ... a few of which I'd managed to get down to only sixteen molecules in size. A programmed laser would use that molecular structure as a switch; sending the beam left, right, up, down or straight ahead. Five qubits.
I wrote a scientific paper on my findings (leaving off the little detail about where I had acquired my sample mineral), and I was just beginning to receive serious inquires about my work, when I got a registered letter from BQPC, the company that had already built a 3-qubit processor. But the thing that made this offer different was that they said they wanted to see Wanda, as well. That put her in a bit of a bind. I knew she didn't want to piggyback her work with mine ... however, she couldn't very well turn down an offer by BQPC. When she called them, they told her that they were interested in HER ... not just in me. And so ... off we went.
We flew American from San Francisco through Dallas/Ft. Worth to Raleigh-Durham. It was late when we arrived, of course, due to the time zone change; and they had arranged for a couple rooms at the Hyatt, there at the airport. Wanda refused my invitation for dinner and drinks, but I found her at breakfast, and she couldn't politely keep from sharing a table. I told a few jokes and related some humorous incidents from my past that finally had her laughing; and so things were actually pretty decent between us when SHE walked up. Yes, this was Impressive Woman Number Two, who introduced herself as Riya Phillips. She was one of the most exotically beautiful girls I'd ever seen; olive complexion, huge brown eyes that glistened with intelligence, glossy black hair and an aura that screamed in equal parts cleverness, mischievousness and sexuality. She sat down and ordered coffee, and shortly thereafter, Wanda kicked me under the table with enough force to make me cry "ouch!"
"Please forgive my companion for staring," she told Riya, and then promptly changed the subject before I could defend myself. Riya sported an engagement ring, and it appeared that her intended was none other than the president of the company, Anthony Bionicci. February wedding date, she said. I'd never had the opportunity of hearing Wanda talk about "girl things," and I was surprised ... and a little impressed ... at her degree of femininity. I enjoyed sitting back and observing. But after awhile, we were in a limousine bound for "the house," which turned out to be a mansion in the woods, south of the university district. It was unique, to say the least. The front of the estate faced a large lake (usually, the back of a house does). But that, as it turned out, added significantly to the privacy in the back of the place, where there was a pool area and a garden.
We were to interview with William Smythe first; and he, of course, was the person both of us were most interested in meeting. A significant number of people were convinced that he didn't really exist. There were no pictures of him, and he was never seen in public. There were stories, of course ... And here is one of the most impressive ones (pardon me for paraphrasing):
A popular online blogger and photographer had decided to take up the task of snapping a picture of Smythe after one eccentric computer magnate offered a ten thousand dollar reward for a photo that could be verified ... just to prove that there actually WAS such a person. The blogger had set up camp on a highway pullout that overlooked the mansion. However, no sooner had he erected his tripod and affixed his camera and long-range lens, but a black sedan pulled up and two VERY unsavory men in black suits approached him. The smaller of the two (the one without the broken nose), walked up to him and said: "We hear that youse is tryin' to infringe upon da privacy of da nice people in yonder mansion. Please say it ain't so!"
While the intrepid journalist tried to defend his First Amendment rights, the big man (the one WITH the broken nose) picked up the camera rig, took it back to the sedan, deftly released the camera from the tripod, and climbed into the back seat with it. Obviously, our hero protested vehemently. The smaller man told him to please remain calm ... that Rollo was only a camera enthusiast, and that he would go and get the camera back. Smaller Man was gone a long time ... almost five minutes ... before he returned with only the tripod. He explained that Rollo, in his affectionate haste to examine the camera, had unfortunately broken it. However, their boss had philanthropically agreed to replace it; and a brand new Nikon D5200, 24.1 megapixel camera (sorry, he explained, the 16 megapixel model, like the one Rollo had broken, was no longer available), along with an AF-S 300mm lens, had already been shipped to his sister's address in Arlington, Virginia, via overnight delivery service. Of course, the reporter had never given the men his name; and so, more than slightly freaked out, he quickly departed the scene. A brand new camera and lens did indeed show up at his sister's house the next morning. This story had not QUITE gone viral on the internet ... but it had enjoyed far more than moderate dissemination.
So anyway, with a great deal of anticipation, Wanda and I followed Riya into the palatial foyer, up one of the three grand staircases and down a hall, where she knocked gently on one of the doors and led us inside. I had thought Riya was stunningly beautiful, but the young woman that now stood before us broke that mark. If her face or body bore any flaw at all, I certainly couldn't see it. She was nothing short of spectacular! Her long red hair was a mass of natural curls that framed a face that I can only describe as erotically innocent. Her whole being seemed to exude childlike honesty and curiosity. Riya was introducing her as Betty Smythe, and explaining that she and "Billy" had recently been married in a private ceremony here in the mansion. Betty was now his personal executive assistant. As Betty came around a desk to greet us, Wanda dug an elbow into my side and whispered "Try to keep your tongue from dangling, David."
Once again, Wanda surprised me with her ability to speak in genuinely social terms. It had been so long since we had engaged in any type of banter other than quantum physics that I had completely forgotten how utterly charming she could be. The three of them were going on and on about how Betty wanted to "change the decor" of the room we were now in; color schemes and types of woodwork and trim and drapes and whatnot. I was most satisfied just standing back and listening ... and looking. Wanda is an awfully pretty lady herself, and having the three of them together was sort of like watching a super model convention or something.
At long last, Betty told us that "Billy" was expecting us, but that he was "doing a little math in his office," and she waved a hand at a closed door to our left. She led the way, and I sort of naturally offered my arm to Wanda as we followed. She just as naturally refused; so I trailed close behind her into a huge room covered with bookcases and dry-erase boards, then stood beside her as Betty addressed a massively-built man with his back to us who was writing on one of the walls. Her voice was clear and to-the-point. "Billy, this is David Rothman and Wanda Perkins. You've been wanting to meet them."
And then he turned around and faced us.
Okay ... I had actually been expecting something like this. Nothing quite to this degree ... but something. I mean, assuming that the man actually existed, there had to be SOME reason that he would never show himself to anyone; and hiding a physical characteristic or disability was one of the reasons that I'd imagined. But while he had been in the process of turning toward us, and in the split-second that followed, Betty had made her way to him and snuggled into his arm. It was that split-second that made the difference, though; because Wanda totally freaked out.
I had taken half a step forward, my hand coming up in preparation to extend and shake his. But before I could complete that step, she had issued a high-pitched shriek, grabbed my shoulder, spun me around and flung herself into my arms, burying her face into the side of my neck. The entire maneuver had caught me so off guard that my momentum caused us both to spin around in a stumbling 360-degree turn. She had plastered herself against me, and I was extremely aware of her ample breasts pressing into my lower chest. She was shaking violently.
The way the Betty had walked up to Billy ... and the way she had slipped one of her arms through one of his while caressing his shoulder with her other hand ... was frankly like something out a wet dream. Her whole being seemed to exude adoration, sensuality and desire toward him. He, by himself, might be considered visually repugnant. She, by herself, might be considered lovely. Together, they were erotically fascinating! But Wanda hadn't seen that sight yet. She was obviously too afraid to even look.
My right ear was ringing due to the vicinity and volume of the scream. I cast a look at our host and hostess in an attempt to convey a silent apology, and I put my arms around my companion, trying to calm her. She was muttering to herself in a tone so low that only I could hear: "Oh my God! Oh my God!" and she continued to clutch my body to hers and shiver uncontrollably. My left arm was now around her waist, and my right palm was against her back, holding her to me. I put my lips next to her left ear and shushed her quietly. "Everything's alright, Wanda. There's no need to be like this. I'm right here. Let's say hello to our host."
She actually tried to raise her head, but couldn't seem to muster the courage to do so. She held me even tighter. "I ... I can't! Oh, God, I can't! David, I'm so ashamed!"
I looked helplessly toward Smythe and Betty. If he was having any reaction to this at all, I certainly couldn't read it. He seemed to be shifting his head very slightly to the left and right, and I came to understand that it was difficult for him to focus both of his eyes on something at the same time ... they were too widely spaced, and they were actually pointing in different directions. And as for his wife, she continued to hold his broad arm possessively, but she had moved a bit more in front of him, as if she intended to shield him from all of the world's discrimination using nothing but her slight body and her love for him. I had never witnessed anything like it, and for a moment, it brought a lump to my throat. Seeing no avenue for help in that direction, I looked behind us, where Riya still stood at the doorway. She actually bore a small smile, and her eyes sparkled with raw interest ... and something that was perhaps a little predatory. It was a very strange expression, but as soon as she noticed that I was looking at her, it faded immediately, and she quickly walked to us and put her hands on Wanda's shoulders.
"Why don't you come with me, sweetie," she crooned softly. "We'll let David and Billy talk for awhile, and I'll introduce you to the business half of the company first. You can come back here later, when you're ... feeling better."
Finally, my companion pulled away from me slightly. She peered up miserably into my eyes. "Oh, David ... I'm SO sorry!" She actually cast a fervent glance at the other two ... but only for a moment. "Mr. Smythe ... I'm sorry. I ..." But she seemed incapable of continuing; and, releasing me at last, she grasped Riya's hand and hurried from the room.
Believe it or not, I had rehearsed this meeting in my mind during the flight out. So much for rehearsals. I strode over to them, my arm outstretched. "Okaaay then," I fumbled. His oversized hand engulfed mine. "Mr. Smythe, you have no idea how much I've looked forward to ..."
"Y' gotta call me Billy," he said cheerily. "You've got a right fit bird there, mate! And no 'ard feelins, by any means. 'Appens all th' time!"
It was as if a mighty weight had been cast from my shoulders, and I threw back my head and laughed. I turned to Betty, who was still a little unsettled, and said: "I hope you, too, can find it in your heart to eventually give my right fit bird another chance." I spoke behind the back of my hand in a mock-whisper to her: "What the hell IS a right fit bird, anyway?"
The corners of her mouth twitched a couple times before curving into a smile, and all hard feelings seemed to melt. "I've found it best to assume that he's giving compliments until you can prove otherwise," she said softly. She moved away from us. "I'll leave you two alone for awhile. Let me know when you're ready for me to take you down and introduce you to Tony." And she left, closing the door behind her.
"Welcome to my domain," he said, extending his arms and indicating his drawing boards. "I was jus' workin' on this bit 'eer."
I froze when I saw what he was indicating. It was as if someone had just gripped me around the throat. It was my formula! Not the RESULTS of the formula, mind you ... which I had both published in a journal and posted online ... but the formula itself! There was only one copy of this ... or so I had thought ... locked up in my safe at home. I hadn't even copyrighted it, knowing that if I did, it would be in the purview of the public. "How ...?" was all I could say.
He clapped his hands delightedly and began making a strange, rhythmic grunting sound (that I would eventually come to recognize as laughter). "'That's IT, ain't it?" he announced with glee.
"Where ... where did you get this?" I asked. Already, the implications of him possessing this were staggering. I would be left with ... nothing! "Who did you talk to? How did you ...?"
"I didn' get it ANYWHERE, bloke! I figgered it out! Y' posted yer findins, so I had a startin' point and an end point. Fillin' in the stuff in the middle was a right proper little problem!"
I leaned heavily against one of the desks. "So ... you don't need me," I said dully. "You've got all you need right here! All except the crystal ... and it'll only be a matter of time before you put THAT problem together, too. Why did you even ask me to come here?"
"Aw, don't get yer knickers in a twist!" he exclaimed, picking up an eraser. With broad sweeps, he began eradicating the figures. "Yer formula's all yer own. I don't want it. I only wanted to see if I got it right."
I suddenly pushed away from the desk. "WAIT!" I shouted. I had just seen what he was in the process of erasing. He had taken the formula to another level! He'd discovered a next step!
He paused, taken aback at my outburst, then turned and studied the writing. With additional laughing sounds, he continued swiping at the board until it was all gone. "Make y' a deal, mate," he said. "Whether y' decide to hire on with us or not ... come back 'eer sometime, and we'll work on continuing that ... and other things. We'll have us some brandy, an' we'll do a little proper math ... and we'll change the world, you 'n me!"
Rather than answer him immediately, I paused, my eyes on that blank spot on the board, trying to envision what I had just seen. But it was gone. "You son of a bitch!" I said, laughing.
"Aw ... y' can do better than THAT?" he prompted.
"You bloody ...!" I wracked my brain, but I couldn't think of any British idiom.
"Wanker?" he prompted.
"Right!" I exclaimed. "You're a bloody son of a wanker!"
And at that point, we were suddenly two laughing math nerds with a common interest, some blank space on a board and a roomful of problems to talk about. I won't bore you, but I had a great time; talking and chuckling and figuring and writing. Suffice it to say, when Betty opened the door to tell me that it was past the time to go for the second half of my job interview, I was dumbfounded to learn that almost two hours had passed! Billy and I shook hands warmly, and I had to promise him that, job or no job, I would come back and do this again sometime soon.
I followed Betty's enticing figure out of the apartment, down the hallway and stairs, and into another wing of the mansion. Anthony Bionicci's outer office contained a desk (but no secretary) and several chairs around the periphery of the room. Betty picked up a phone from the desk and spoke briefly before hanging up and telling me that "Tony" was talking to someone, and would be with me shortly. She excused herself, saying that she had to check her messages, and she sat down and started fiddling with her phone. I decided to sit and do a little work on my phone, as well; and since Betty was preoccupied, I plugged in a set of earphones and started listening to some tunes. And so it was that when a VERY pretty dark-haired girl came out of the inner office, I was looking down at my phone ... but I could clearly see her in the reflection of the gadget's screen (which I keep darker than normal). And I could hear, as well, because the song I was listening to had just ended, and my phone wasn't programmed to play another one.
Betty and this new girl squealed like long lost friends and hugged. "Belinda! I haven't seen you since ... that night! How are you?"
"I'm wonderful! I'm still working for the Cellini Brothers in accounting!"
They talked animatedly about Betty's marriage, examined the ring and other things.
"What were you talking to Tony about?" Betty asked.
She cast a suspicious look in my direction, but I kept my head down and pretended not to hear. Betty even called my name softly, checking. I felt a little like a spy collecting information. Content in the false knowledge that I couldn't hear them, Belinda said: "You know ..."
"He had you hypnotized again?" Betty asked.
"Oh, yes. Deep."
"I don't like this idea of Tony 'conditioning' you Belinda! You shouldn't put up with it!"
Betty's friend smiled. "You don't get it, girlfriend. This is what I want. It's what I need. Before, when I was ... sleeping around with people from the offices here; I'd find I guy I liked, and then I'd tease him. I'd tease him mercilessly. I'd push him to the breaking point ... and then I'd push a little further. I wanted him to take me; take me hard! The harder, the better! I wanted to be forced ... to be dominated. That's who I really am." She paused for a moment. "You didn't know that, did you?"
Betty shook her head, her curls swinging all around. "And ... and what happened to you after that night? What happened in your new office?"
Belinda smiled. "Within an hour on the first day I went to work for the Cellinis, one of them had me bent over a desk, taking me from behind. By lunchtime, another had demanded a blowjob." She paused for effect. "I was in heaven, girl!"
"Belinda! My gosh!"
"Oh, it only gets better," she confided. "One of them loved to tie me up. Another one liked to take pictures. I think it started out as just games ... role playing, you know? You see, I can't afford to lose this job. I mean, I really, really want to keep this job! I'd do anything to keep it. Anything! They knew that fact ... and they used it. They humiliated me, and I LOVED it! At first, it was just blackmail ... you know? ... pictures; and threatening to expose my 'slutty ways.' But the deeper I got into the habit of following, the more THEY became my masters. By the third week, I was a slave ... a real, no shit sex slave! I had to ask permission for everything! Even going to the bathroom! I was turned on constantly! I had to start bringing two extra pairs of undies every day because I soaked them through so often! I know it was wrong, but I couldn't have BEEN any happier!"
"So ... you just have sex all day?"
Belinda laughed. "Oh no. They worked me like a slave, too! Their filing system was a train wreck before I got there! And because of the ... other demands they put on me, I often had to stay late to do all the typing that needed to get done. But then last week ... things changed."
The dark-haired girl actually blushed. Mark me: she HADN'T blushed up until this point. "Well ..." she continued more softly, "... two of them stopped ... um ... making demands on me. For sex, I mean. I even asked one of them if something was wrong ... asked him if I could give him a blowjob or something. But Terry and Tom simply refused to demand anything from me at all ... except office work, I mean. And Tim ... well, Tim not only took me twice in his office that day ... once bent over the arm of his couch and once with me straddling him in his chair ... but then he ordered me to go home with him that night! It was really strange. And really nice! It's the first time I'd slept with a man ... I mean, all the way through the night until morning ... in years."
"Was that the only time?"
"Oh no. It's been that way every day since. He makes me make him breakfast every morning. And I have to wash his back in the shower ... using my breasts. And sometimes, he makes me read to him in bed at night. And last Saturday, he did it to me four times! But on Sunday, I burnt his toast and he spanked me. But then he licked me until I passed out! And in the mornings, I always wake up in his arms. I can't BEGIN to describe what living with him is like!"
Betty cleared her throat. "And what, exactly, did Tony call you in to talk about just now?" she asked.
"He didn't. I asked to talk to HIM," Belinda replied. "I wanted ... I wanted to ask him if he could call Tim and give him my trigger phrase. Tony never allowed me to remember it. I mean ... Tim has taken me sexually just about every way a man can take a woman. But, if he wants me ... wants me completely ... then he should know how to control my mind, too. That's the one thing he hasn't done to me yet."
Betty held her by the shoulders. "You're in love."
"Yes! Can you believe it? I want to tell the whole world: I belong to him! He owns me!"
They stood like that, close, smiling. But slowly the smiles faded, and they were just looking into each other's eyes. "Betty ... do you ever think about that night? Do you ever think about ... the kiss?"
And the door opened. Quickly, Belinda backed away from her friend, as if she was guilty of something. "Belinda! Are you still here?" the man said gruffly.
I stumbled to my feet. Somehow, I had acquired an erection, and I tried to shift things in front of me unobtrusively. I don't know if I entirely succeeded, but at least I could walk alright. I strode forward and shook his hand, introducing myself.
"Please, call me Tony," he said, before turning again to the women.
Before he could say anything else, though, Betty interrupted rather forcefully. I found myself only being more and more impressed with little Betty. "My friend, Belinda, and I are catching up on old times, Tony. I'll walk her out to her car. Okay?"
She said the last word in such a way that argument was absolutely impossible. "Certainly," Tony responded. "Oh, and Belinda ... I just called Tim, and he has the information you requested. I'm sure you will both find it ... adequately satisfying." Belinda blushed again. The two girls left as Tony ushered me into the inner room. I never did learn about "the kiss." It's one of the small regrets in my life.
He waved me into an overstuffed chair, and pulled his office chair around the desk to be closer to me. I allowed him to spout company history to me for about thirty seconds before I politely cut him off, informing him that I had learned just about all there was to know about it. He studied me openly for a few moments. "Billy tells me we need you on our team, David," he said. "I always believe Billy." He stared at me some more. "And so now, it's time for me to ask you: What will it take to bring you onboard?"
"Just a few honest answers ... Tony," I said slowly. I was nervous ... not about who he appeared to be, but who I thought he was. He made a gesture, urging me to go on, and I took a shaky breath. "Just now ... in the outer office, Belinda said she worked for some men named Cellini."
He nodded. "They do our accounting."
"Cellini is your mother's maiden name," I said solemnly. "Are they your cousins?"
His eyes narrowed. "Man, when you study up for an interview, you do a good job of it."
My hand was shaking a little, and I grasped the arm of the chair to try to control it. "Thirty years ago, your father joined two of the most influential crime families in the country ... from New Jersey and Chicago," I continued. I paused, and we both scrutinized each other. "Mr. Bion ... Tony ... If Wanda and I 'join you team,' will we be working for the Mafia?"
He frowned, leaned back, and started idly drumming his fingers on the desk beside him. He sat that way for the better part of a minute. Finally, he nodded ... more or less to himself, as if he'd just made an important decision. "Okay ... here's the deal," he said earnestly. "Hollywood has it wrong." I didn't know how to respond to that, and he went on. "Have you ever seen a movie about a crime family; and the youngster ... the son who wants to take over ... accuses the 'oldsters' of pussyfooting around? Tries to convince them use more violence? Tries to 'ramp up' the types of crime? Tries to 'expand the operation?' ALL the movies do that! Whether it's about the Italian Mafia, Russians, Japanese Yakuza ... it's all the same! The younger generation wants to 'modernize' crime. Well ... that's bullshit!"
He'd gotten himself worked up, and he tried to corral his feelings. "Last year, I asked my old man for a loan to get us started here. He made it a gift ... two hundred grand. As an experiment, he gave my older brother the same amount. Vince took over some of the prostitution and drug operations. Do you want to know what he earned on that investment? Five million. Two and a half percent. Want to know what THIS company is going to post for first annum? HALF A BILLION!" He paused and frowned. "Well ... half of the raw profits will be going to Billy. But ... don't you see? The 'new generation' knows what I know. Crime doesn't pay. Oh, I guess it pays ... but not nearly ENOUGH! And you want to know why? The overhead is astronomical! A quarter of Vince's workforce is in jail! Legal costs are huge! Graft payments have gone through the roof! I could go on and on! Hell, even Vince is under indictment in Chicago!"
I cleared my throat. "I'm sorry ... so the answer to my question is ...?"
"I am legal. WE are legal. One hundred percent. If I see a crime ... I report it! And ... one of the reasons that I'm doing all of ... THIS," he made a gesture to indicate his world around him, "is to make a point to my 'family.' The old ways are crazy! If they REALLY want to make money, they should get OUT of the old business. And legislation over the past twenty years has only made it easier to make money WITH money! The failed 'War on Drugs' is almost over! States are going into that business themselves! And lawmakers are doing things ... not so that they can shut down illegal dealers ... but so that other people can make that money legally! Capitalism is the new organized crime! I can't promise you that everything I do will always be ethical. But I CAN promise you that it will always be legal."
"So," I summarized, "clean business built on dirty money."
He smiled. "As opposed to the money that you'd be accepting from the military industrial complex by going to work for someone else? ALL money has dirty roots. The only thing we can change is where the money goes from here. I put OURS into R&D. I'll put some of it into buying a pollucite mine ... if you tell me where it is."
I nodded. "And so, what, exactly, are you offering me to bring my work here?"
"We can talk about money later," he said confidently. "Money is not going to be a problem. Your own lab ... your own staff ... whatever. But ... as a token of my trust and friendship, I am now going to give you the thing you want most in life." He rose. Startled, I got up, too, and I followed him to a side door. "Whether you join us or not, David, I hope that you'll accept my little ... gift."
He opened the door and paused, startled to see Riya standing very close to the other side. She had obviously been listening, but she showed no embarrassment at all ... she simply gave us both that strange little smile of hers. Her eyes danced with impish humor. And it didn't seem to fade as I pushed roughly past both of them and rushed to where I saw Wanda. She appeared to be unconscious, leaning limply at an odd angle against the back of a couch. I took her by the shoulders. "Wanda?" I asked softly, then repeated it more firmly with no result.
"So ..." Riya said slyly, looking up at her fiancée's face. "I'm destined to be the matriarch of the Bionicci Crime Family!"
"What have you done to her!?" I demanded from the couch.
"Count to three," Tony said to me before returning his attention to the exotic beauty he now took in his arms. "The word 'Crime' is not part of the name, my dear," he told her.
"WHAT?" I demanded.
"Count to three," Riya repeated, not looking at me. Then she smiled brightly up at him. "And you don't think that ... just perhaps ... I might not fit the part of a proper Italian Mama?"
"You are the new world order, my love," he said, and he kissed her. He kissed her rather passionately, in fact.
I turned back to Wanda. "Um ... one ... two ... three."
She opened her eyes, blinked them several times, focused on my face, and threw her arms around my neck. "Oh, David!" she gushed.
I staggered to my feet, but she clung to me and wound up standing, as well, her body pressed tightly to mine. I found that my hands were on her waist, but I raised them behind my neck and pried her arms apart, stepping back away from her. "They ... He ... hypnotized you or something!"
"Mmmm ... yes," she replied dreamily. She tried to move her arms back around me.
"What have you DONE to her?!" I repeated. "Is THIS the 'gift' you're giving me? A brainwashed girlfriend?!"
Wanda gasped at my comment, but then smiled shyly. "Is THAT what you think? You've got it all wrong, David!" Her comment surprised me, and she took advantage of my consternation to twist her wrists free from my grasp; then she threw her arms back around my neck, wriggling her body into mine.
I looked sternly back at the other couple, who remained plastered together in a fervid lip-lock. "Excuse me, you two! We need to talk about Wanda! Now!"
They broke the kiss, but didn't look away from each other's eyes. They were both breathing hard. Tony slid a hand down and began stroking Riya's ass. "If I told you, would you believe me?" he asked.
I blinked at them. For a moment, I hadn't realized that the question had been directed toward me. Riya took advantage of the lull to ask: "Are you through with that couch? I think Tony and I ... need it."
"Let's go back to the motel," Wanda whispered in my ear.
"What the hell?!" I half-yelled to no one in particular.
Riya's hand was on my back, and when I turned, she was looking at me with that strange, mischievous look of hers. "There's no one staying with us right now. Go upstairs. The wing between this one and Billy's. Ten bedrooms. Pick one. Have HER tell you what happened to her. She'll tell you the truth ... no shit." She gave me a shove in the direction of the door. "Now ... Tony and I need that couch. Get out of here, you two! We'll call you when it's time for dinner." And she squealed loudly and laughed as her boyfriend shoved her down on the couch and dove on top of her.
Wanda finally, finally pulled away from me, grasped my hand and tugged me through the door. "Why are all the women in this house so goddamn beautiful?" she groused. I didn't answer and I didn't resist; following along, down a hall, up some stairs, down another hall. She shoved open the first door she came to and pulled me inside. And then she kissed me. Hard.
I pushed against her a little, but she issued a disappointed little "Nmm-mmm" into my mouth, and so I surrendered to her lust ... and to mine. I crushed her in my arms and took command of the kiss, moving my hands from place to place on her back and up and down her sides. She gently pulled her lips from mine, panting, staring into my eyes without focus, before I pulled her in for some more. This was in retaliation for the kiss she had refused me on that date ... and for every date I had begged her for since. She seemed to melt into me. At long last, I moved her away a little and looked at her. Her eyes remained closed ... her lips still pursed ... and she swayed slightly from side to side. And then she opened her eyes and said "Oh, wow!" She took her arms from around my neck and began unbuttoning my shirt.
"Hey!" I groused. "I am NOT going any further until I find out what that son of a bitch did to you!"
She didn't stop with the buttons until she was forced to deal with the necktie. "He opened my eyes, David. He let me see what a fool I've been." She paused, thinking a moment, before pulling the tie from around my neck and returning to the buttons. "Well ... that's not quite true. Maybe I wasn't a fool a year ago, but I'm being a fool now."
"You're speaking gibberish," I told her. I put my hands over hers to stop her. "He's filled your head with garbage. You probably can't tell reality from 'implanted memories' anymore."
"Is THAT what you think?" she asked calmly. She reached up, took my left hand in both of hers, and led me to the bed, sitting down and pulling me beside her. "If you believe that to be true, then nothing I tell you will really give you the information you're seeking." I opened my mouth to argue before realizing that her logic was correct. She began stroking my hand. "I need you to do something for me, David. I'm going to tell you my trigger phrase. But ... when I do, I'm going to forget it myself. That's what he told me, and I know that it's true. I'll never be able to remember it again ... as long as I live. After you use it on me ... no matter how many times you use it on me ... it will disappear from my mind. It will always work. Every single time. But I'll never be able to retain it afterwards; so remember it. Okay?"
I gazed at her to try to determine if she was as crazy as she sounded, but she appeared clear-eyed and intelligent. She took a breath and said: "Sleep time, Wanda."
"What?" I asked, but she didn't respond. She only looked up at me with anticipation. "Sleep time, Wanda? What is that supposed to mean?"
Instead of answering, she rested her head on my shoulder and sort of snuggled into me. She stopped stroking my hand, and a few seconds later, her left hand fell away from mine and plopped into her lap. After a long pause, it became evident that she wasn't going to answer me. "Wanda?" I prodded.
"Mmmmm. Yes, David?"
"What does that mean?"
"What does WHAT mean, David?" She remained slumped against me.
"Sleep time, Wanda?"
"Ooooo. Mmmmm." She seemed to lean into me even more, though her whole body seemed limp. "I can't go any deeper, David. I'm as deep as I can be."
I tried to push her away from me so I could see her expression, but it was like pushing against a piece of string. "Sit up!" I said, exasperated. And immediately, she did so. Her back was straight, her hands in her lap, her eyes tightly shut. This confused me even more. "Open your eyes!" I commanded; and she did THAT immediately, too. I was startled to realize that she was looking at nothing at all. Her eyes were staring, unfocused, directly in front of her.
I took a deep breath. "You ... you're ... hypnotized."
"Mmmm. Yes. Oh, David, it's the best feeling in the whole world!"
I ran my fingers through my hair, forcing myself to calm down and think. "And what is the feeling, Wanda? Describe it to me."
"I feel open and honest and obedient and truthful. I will tell you anything you want. I can speak only the truth. And whatever you tell me, I know that it will be true, as well. True for now and for always. I'm relaxed and I'm in love, and I belong to you alone. I will do anything for you. Anything."
I felt helpless. "Oh, Wanda ... what has he done to you?"
"He gave me this gift," she said, smiling. "I thought ... when I first asked him to hypnotize me ... that he would just help me face Mr. Smythe without flinching. That's how Riya convinced me I should try it ... why I should let him put me under. But then, he asked me what I most wanted; and I told him THIS! THIS is what I want. More than anything else in the world!"
"I don't understand."
"I told him that I wanted to be yours, David. That's all I've ever wanted. I love you. I've loved you since the first day I met you."
"But that's not really true, is it, Wanda? You can barely tolerate me."
Her smile broadened. "Silly boy. That's just what I wanted you to believe. It was never true."
I shook my head. "That's ridiculous! Why would you ever want to do something like that?"
She turned her head and focused on my face, though she still seemed to speaking from a dream. Tears were in her eyes now. "Because I knew you were poised on the brink of greatness! You were destined for something ... wonderful! And it happened, David! You did it! You're barely out of school ... and you're already published! You've accomplished a mathematical breakthrough ... and you created something that's going to make a difference! If I had let you kiss me on that date ... if you had kissed me then like you just did here ... where would you be now? Holding down a second job to support a wife? Maybe a kid? At the very least, you would have spent lots of those nights that you put in at the laboratory with ME instead!"
"Isn't that just a wee bit melodramatic?"
"I wanted you SO much! If I had given into my desires, I wouldn't have been able to keep myself from being with you. I would HAVE to have had you! But I resolved to just think about you, instead. Every night. Every night, I think about you and touch myself."
"Uh ... you mean that every night, you ..."
"I masturbate, yes. I made myself stop doing it during the day, though. Mrs. Rodcrantz caught me once in the restroom in the physics building. So I quit, and I made myself wait until night. It was really hard, sometimes. Hard to wait until night, I mean. Especially when I had a class with you. And sometimes, on the weekends, I'd visit porn sites on the internet, and I'd get ideas about what guys like ... what YOU might like ... and I'd daydream about that when I did myself, you know? And on Saturday and Sunday ... well, THAT was the best; because I could do myself three or four times a day then!" She looked longingly into my eyes. "Do you want me, David? Because all of a sudden, I REALLY want you!"
I cleared my throat. "Uh ... what, exactly, DO you think about when you ... uh ... do yourself? What did you see on the internet that you ... thought I might like?"
"All the porn sites show girls giving blow jobs, so I bet you'd like that." She frowned slightly. "It doesn't look as if they enjoy the taste, though." She brightened. "But now that you know how to hypnotize me, you can MAKE me like it! I think it looks like tapioca pudding. I like tapioca pudding! You can make me think it tastes like that!"
I had to reach down and adjust myself in my suddenly-too-tight trousers. She went on. "And lots of the porn videos show girls in bondage. Those are my favorites for fantasies, I think. You making me all helpless ... completely at your mercy ... having to do whatever you tell me ... like I'm a sex slave or something." She shivered. "Don't you want me, David? What can I do to make you want me? None of the girls on the internet have any pubic hair. I could shave all of mine off, if you want. But I keep it sort of trimmed up, anyway. Do you want to see?" And before I realized what was happening, she had stood, unzipped her skirt and shoved it and her panties down to her ankles. She stepped out of them and put her arms out, posing.
"I could pierce my nipples for you, if you want! That's sort of hot, don't you think? My breasts are really big. I see you staring at them all the time. They sag a little, but I could get a boob job done to make them stand up more, if you'd like. Do you think they need it? I'll do it, if you want me to. Here ... I'll show you." In five seconds, her sweater had flown to the right, her pullover blouse to the left, and her bra was sailing through the air behind her. "Do you want me to change them, David? I'll do it if it would make you want me."
I stood and reached for her, putting one hand on her bare side and the other on the side of her neck; and I stood very close to her, looking directly into her eyes. "Is this YOU saying all of this, Wanda ... or did you he put these ideas in your head?"
"He asked me what I wanted the most ... and I told him it was you. So then, he let me realize that I'd done enough for you by denying you ... and by denying myself. He let me see that it was time! It was time to give myself to you ... if you still want me. To give ALL of myself ... even my mind! He showed me how right it is to give you what I've always wanted to give you! He showed me how right it is ... to surrender!"
I kept holding her like that, our noses almost touching. And I said: "One two three."
She didn't blink this time. She simply took a deep breath; but that spark that was Wanda came back into her eyes and she said: "Oh, wow!" Without lowering her gaze from mine, she found the one button that she had missed before, and then she pushed my shirt past my shoulders and off.
I pulled her to me for another forceful kiss, only this time, I let my hands wander every place there was bare flesh ... which just happened to be everywhere. I paid particular attention to her breasts, and she moaned loudly into my mouth. I pushed her hard, back onto the bed, and I kept stroking, petting, touching and pinching her nipples, breasts, sides, belly and nether region. When she threw back her head and groaned loudly, I slid down and plastered my lips to the top of her pussy, sucking in her clitoris, which was very fat and hard; and she seemed to transform into a writhing, bucking, straining animal. She cried out ... seemed to lose her ability to make any noise at all for ten seconds ... then cried out again, finally settling into a string of grunting exclamations: "Uh! OH! Uh! Uh!" until, after almost half a minute of this, she collapsed, unconscious.
I rose and stripped out of my pants and underwear, shoes and socks; and as I rejoined her in the bed, her eyes fluttered open, focused on me, and she kissed me again. She began frantically trying to hoist me atop her. And, laughing at her earnestness, I rolled onto her, settling myself between the legs that she threw wide in welcome. She was sopping wet (I was wearing some of her moisture on my chin); and as she drew me to herself, I hesitated, teasing her. The tip of my cock was just inside her entrance, but I pulled it out again, sliding upward, so that it slid across her clit again, making her jerk and gasp; and then easing the tip back into her again.
"David, please! Don't make me wait anymore! Hurt me! Do it now!"
"Please! I've waited so long!"
"I don't WANT to hurt you, Wanda."
"It's alright! It will be easier after the first time! David, please! You're driving me crazy!" She lifted both of her legs and wrapped them around me, trying desperately to pull me into herself using her heels.
"First time? Are you a virgin?"
Using more strength than I knew she possessed, she used her hands around the back of my neck and her legs around my torso, and she heaved her entire body upward. In one mighty motion, she impaled herself, crying out loudly: "Aaahhh!" Then, she clutched her body to mine and just stayed like that, panting loudly and shivering. "Not anymore," she whispered in my ear.
I couldn't hold her weight, and I slowly relaxed my elbows and knees until I had settled my body onto hers. I pulled my head up until I could look into her eyes. Slowly, I pulled out of her a little, then thrust forward again, setting up a rhythm, and she moaned every time I pushed into her. I was able to hold myself in check for about a minute, but that's all. She cried out again when she felt me begin to cum, clutching me hard, but I don't think she had another orgasm. We remained like that, together, for a long, long time before I rolled off of her. I looked down at myself, surprised to see a smear of bright red blood on my shaft ... though not much.
She snuggled into my arms and put her head on my chest. "Are we going to stay here, David? Are you going to take the job?"
I stroked her hair. "Probably. I wasn't too keen on Tony's sales pitch; but Billy offered me something that I can't refuse."
"Friendship." I thought about that for a long minute; then I untangled myself from Wanda's embrace and got out of bed.
"Don't go!" she pleaded.
But I reached out, put my right hand against the side of her face, watched for a moment while she kissed my palm and pressed lovingly into it; and I calmly said: "Sleep time, Wanda." For a moment, I didn't think she was going to react to that; but then, as I watched, her eyes blinked once, then again more slowly, and with a moan of unrestrained ecstasy, she slumped into a deep sleep. I moved her head gently to the pillow, watched her for a few moments, and went into the bathroom, where I cleaned myself and drew a hot bath.
Back in the room, I spoke to her for awhile while I dressed, just to see if it was possible for me to instill a post hypnotic suggestion; and then I counted to three. She awoke slowly; but once fully conscious, she sat up and hugged me again. "Please don't leave."
"I need to go see Billy and Betty," I told her. "I'll be back in a few minutes. In the meantime, I filled the bathtub for you. I suspect you're sore."
She smiled. "I could go with you! I'm not afraid anymore. And I need to apologize to them. I've been afraid of the unknown my whole life; and I freak out at the sight of bats or bugs or snakes or spiders. But ... I can face HIM now. Will you wait for me?"
"I need to do this alone," I said. "Maybe we can have dinner with them or something. I'll be back soon, I promise."
I kissed her and left, navigating by instinct, which, as it turned out, was pretty good. Betty answered my knock. "You're back!" she exclaimed. "How did the interview with Tony go? Are you going to come work for us?"
"I think so," I responded, stepping inside. "I'd like to discuss something that's on my mind, though."
"Sure. Billy's in his office. Go on back."
"Actually ... it's not just him I need to talk to. In fact, it's mostly YOU." She gave me a curious look, so I got right to the point. "Tony hypnotized Wanda."
She smiled knowingly. "He's very good at that. I imagine that Riya suggested he could help her with her perception of Billy."
"Well ... he did a lot more than that!"
Her strange little smile didn't fade. "He can be very ... persuasive. But ... I don't think he really implants memories or changes the way a woman thinks. He just builds on the desires she already has."
I regarded her. "He's ... done that to you?"
"And ... you don't believe you're changed by it? Does he ... reinforce his suggestions?"
"He helped me understand the feelings I already had. And ... he has never hypnotized me again, after that first night I consented to let him. BILLY has. He puts me under almost every day. In fact, if he forgets a day, I often wind up begging him for it. I love surrendering to him. It's the best feeling in the whole world." She watched me to make sure she had answered my questions satisfactorily. "Now ... do you still want to talk to Billy?"
"I need to speak to both of you together," I answered.
She gave me a curious look, but led the way. Billy seemed sincerely glad to see me, and after a few casual comments, I came right to the point. "Billy ... I think it's time you 'came out,'" I told him flatly.
"I'm not gay, mate," he said, grinning.
I still couldn't read his expressions. "No. But you could take a lesson from them. You need to stop hiding, my friend. You need to take your beautiful wife out to dinner ... or to a show ... or dancing. She deserves that ... and so do you."
"Y' saw how people react to me, David," he said slowly, carefully. "When I go out, it's a freak show."
"Maybe it used to be; but not anymore. Not now that you've got HER on your arm." I pointed toward Betty.
He studied me for a long moment. "I don't catch yer drift."
I sat down in one of the desk chairs and leaned toward him, my elbows on my knees, gesturing with my hands. Betty had moved to his side ... the place to which she always seemed to naturally gravitate. "Listen," I said emphatically. "Sooner or later, someone's going to get a picture. And when they do, you're right ... it'll be a freak show. And before that happens, you REALLY need to take charge of the situation and do it on your own terms. So ... go out big! Find some national daytime talk show and schedule an appearance. Any of them would jump at the chance. But ... let them know that there'll be a catch. You never go anywhere alone. You only go with your wife. Period. And THAT will put all the chips on your side of the table."
They were both staring at me, open-mouthed. "Haven't you two ever looked in a mirror?" I asked them. "Don't you have any idea what you LOOK like?" Still they just stood there, staring, uncomprehending.
"Look, Billy," I pleaded. "If Betty is at your side ... and I mean ALWAYS at your side ... always touching you, holding your hand, putting her hand on your arm, like she's doing right now ... then it's no longer about your appearance; it's about HER! It's about her accepting you for who you are; and silently challenging everyone else in the world to do the same thing! It's no longer about physical deformity ... it's about acceptance; and tolerance; and open mindedness. People will look at her, and they will literally be FORCED to accept you. OR, they will be forced to accept their own prejudice. Betty cannot be ignored!" He blinked at me and shuffled his feet a little.
"Sure it will take some guts," I continued, "but just think about what you can accomplish! You know that asshole who has offered the ten thousand dollar reward for a picture of you? Show yourself, and then openly challenge him to donate that money to some charity that fights and corrects birth defects! Or, hell; start your own charity! Establish a hospital right here in the Raleigh-Durham area that provides corrective surgery for youngsters around the world whose parents can't afford those procedures."
I rose and walked toward the door. "Just think about it, Billy," I persisted. "But if you're going to do it, it'll have to be soon. The way Tony's handling things, you are probably going to wind up being one of the richest people in the country real soon now. And Tony can't confiscate EVERYBODY'S camera!"
"Yeah. Thanks. I'll think on it," he said. And then, as an afterthought: "You ... wanna come to dinner tonight?"
"We'd love to. Thanks. Maybe with Tony and Riya, too?"
Betty hurried after me and walked me through the living room and to the door. Before I knew what had happened, she had spun me around, hugged me and kissed me on the cheek. "Thank you," she whispered, and turned and walked away from me before I could see the expression on her face.
The whole thing had left me feeling pretty good. And when I opened the door to "our room" and walked in, I felt even better. Wanda sat in the center of the bed, yoga-style, looking at some magazine ... stark naked.
"David! Come look at this!" I walked over and glance down at it, though the person holding it was much more picturesque. It was one of those real estate mags. "Can you believe this? Thirty-five hundred square feet on half an acre! And look at the price! In San Francisco, you can't touch a two-bedroom for that!"
I laughed at her. "What's your point?"
"Are we moving here, David?"
I gave her my most patronizing smile. "We?"
She scrambled out of bed and stood as close to me as she could, her nipples rubbing against my shirt; and she looked up questioningly into my eyes, searching for something. She must have found it, because she smiled gently and rested the side of her face against my chest. "Silly boy," she muttered. She sighed heavily. "If you ever want to send me away, I'll go. But I don't think you will. For almost two years, I listened to my head; but now I'll only listen to my heart. I love you more than life. I belong to you."
I put my arms around her. "Are you ... alright? I made you bleed."
She shrugged. "That happens, you know. That's natural. I'm a little sore right now; but soon it will be ... perfect." She slowly pulled me around so that I was facing the door, and then with a movement that caught me completely by surprise, she shoved me hard. The backs of my legs hit the edge of the bed and I fell back, bouncing a little on the mattress. In ten seconds flat, she had unfastened my belt, undone my pants and unzipped the fly. She pulled them down, along with my underwear, to my knees. I'd gotten hard while I held her, and my cock pointed mightily skyward. Her hands were around it now, and her mouth engulfed me. I threw back my head and groaned.
I wanted to be aggressive for her, but I couldn't think of anything to say. Instead, I muttered: "You ... you don't have to ... Oh, jeeez!" She sucked like a vacuum, and her hands were stroking me up and down. For a full two minutes, she kept up the pace. "You learned this from the internet?" I gasped.
She issued a "mmm mmmphh!" around my shaft and refused to slow down.
"Wanda ... Wanda, you should pull back now. I'm ... I'm going to ..." I arched up at her. "Oh, God, Wanda! I'm going to ..."
But she only increased her efforts. With a roar, I came hard. I looked down at her ... watched her cheeks and throat work as she swallowed. And then she coughed ... laughed ... and coughed again. She was laughing hard now, and she abandoned sucking for licking, unable to maintain the former due to her hysterics. "Tapioca pudding!" she exclaimed, giggling uncontrollably. "It tastes like tapioca pudding! Oh gosh, I love you!"
By the time we returned to North Carolina for Tony and Riya's wedding, we were ready to stay. Tony had purchased the mine in Uruguay, and for better or for worse, my fortunes were now tied to the Bionicci family purse strings.
I had never officially been introduced to Belinda, but we attended that wedding, too ... where Betty was the maid of honor. The whole ceremony, mass and all, seemed to have been staged for the benefit of the groom's mother, Mrs. Cellini, from New Jersey. Tony let us know, (very confidentially), that as far as the lucky couple was concerned, it was simply an act to formally solidify the master-slave relationship; and that the reason Belinda was moving so slowly during the ceremony was that she was wearing a butt plug and nipple clamps under her virginal white wedding gown.
Wanda and I waited until the next summer to tie the knot, but we purchased a house in Durham in March. It wasn't far from the BQPC offices that housed my laboratory (and my hand-picked research staff). Wanda took charge of the laser work. We had always worked well together, and that certainly hasn't changed. I drive to the mansion once a week, where Billy and I have our little math brainstorming sessions. Sometimes, Wanda and Riya join us. And it was during one of those little "mega-sessions" that we actually DID change the world. But that's another story.
And as for Betty ... Betty the Beauty, as Riya likes to say ... well, things turned out pretty much as I had forecast. She is the spokesperson for their very successful charity; and though she is actually terrified of the spotlight, but she faces it every day in the name of love. And ... there are plenty of pictures of Billy now ... but not one is of him alone. It's all about her: her innocent loveliness, her earnest devotion, her dedication and unselfishness; and most of all, her daring, bold, in-your-face effort to challenge bigotry and prejudice. Sweet, shy, timid little Betty. The bravest woman I have ever met.
May 7, 2018 in romance