All the King’s Queens – Chapter 11: The Good Old Days

Monique St. Martin’s road to the Olympics hasn’t been easy. Then again, if it were easy it wouldn’t be worth it. For five days a week, she spends four hours at the AJ Athletic Club, a private gym that specifically caters to aspiring Olympians, professional athletes, and bodybuilders in Miami. The owners are Alex and Julia Hernandez, a husband-wife team who’ve operated the joint for almost twenty years. Both of their parents are Afro-Cuban immigrants who fled the island shortly after Castro’s rise to power. Team AJ, as they’re known locally, has built a mini-empire down in South Beach in the fitness, training, and athletics industry.

The clientele of AJ Athletic Club is not your usual type of gym-goer who just shows up to run on the treadmill and casually lift weights. Here, you see people doing super heavy Olympic lifts, working on improving their 40-yard dash time for the NFL Combine, getting ready for MLB spring training, training for the Mr. Olympia, and ordering nutrient-rich protein shakes and other post-workout beverages. Everyone knows each other, though there are certain clients you only see during certain times of the year. During football, baseball, basketball, or hockey season they go away, but when it’s their offseason they come right back (as if they never left).

On one particular Tuesday morning in the spring of 2014, Monique was working on improving her forearm strength. She noticed one of the biggest inhibitors blocking her ability to progress with deadlifts was grip strength. No matter what type of gloves she wore, when she reached a certain point the bar kept slipping out of her hands. She estimates she’s used more chalk than a whole district’s worth of elementary schools. It helps dry her hands so she can better grip the bar – but she’s plateaued. And in the world of Olympic weightlifting, “plateau” is a dirty word. The dreaded P-word is probably the worst word in the English language for an aspiring weightlifter. It’s the “yips” for baseball infielders. It’s the deep-seated fear that one has reached their peak physical limitations and cannot progress further. It’s what separates a bona fide Olympic athlete from someone who gets a pat on the back after failing at the local trials. Both are well-trained, hard-working athletes. But one was able to overcome their physical limitations while the other was stonewalled by it. Monique is determined not to let that nightmare scenario happen to her, come hell or high water.

At this very moment, Monique has her earbuds in, is locked in, and has no time for casual conversation as she does hammer curls in the corner of the spacious free weight area. It’s the first week of the month, so Dylan Tanaka has already wired his monthly sum of $5,000 into the private bank account he set up for her three years ago. She didn’t make it to London in 2012 but should be a shoo-in for Rio De Janeiro in 2016. Her coaches seem to think it’s practically set in stone. However, she’s learned the hard way to never expect a roster spot because nothing in life is guaranteed. Not making the London roster was a real wake-up call. She won’t make that mistake a second time.

Between sets, Monique pats herself dry with an ocean blue AJ Athletic Club sweat towel. The podcast she’s listening to is almost coming to an end, which is too bad because she was genuinely interested in learning about the history of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The circumstances around it are deeply embedded in the history of Cubans living in Florida, including many of her closest friends. Most people assume she’s also Cuban, but that isn’t true. Her ancestry is Caribbean, so she’s more in line with Rihanna (other than the musical talent) than the minor league baseball players who grew up playing catch in the streets.

“Want your usual?” a faint voice asks her from behind. Monique takes out her earbuds and turns around to see who it is. Sure enough, the voice belongs to Julia Hernandez, the second half of Team AJ. She’s a confident, astute, affable, statuesque woman who’s built like a tank. Tall, sturdy, and pretty enough to temporarily distract many of the male clients from their training, Julia lights up a room when she walks into it. Her husband isn’t much of a talker, so it’s her job to build relationships with the community and make sure everyone is happy.

“Yes please,” Monique answers. “Do you have fresh energy bars left, or are they kind of old and stale by now?” Realizing she (sort of) just insulted her, Julia rolls her eyes but doesn’t seem too offended. Before Monique can issue a correction, Julia puts her hands on her hips and smirks at the young Olympian.

“Well now! I just baked them last night, so they’re as fresh as you are! Damn, what does a girl have to do to get respect around here?” She gives Monique a playful punch on the shoulder, which hurts more than it’s supposed to. That’s what happens when someone with considerable strength occasionally forgets how strong they really are. Though it’s not a big deal because Monique believes she deserves it.

“Sorry, girl! That’s not what I meant. You know I love your energy bars…”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what you mean. You’re good,” she reassures her customer. “I made the ones with extra flaxseed so you better get them while you can. You see those guys over there?” She points to a group of young college football players doing bench presses in hope of improving their NFL Draft position. “They say they’re going to eat everything I have in stock once they’re done, which means you better get some soon before they run out. That’s why I’m here to warn you, girl.”

“Ah, thanks for the heads up!” Monique takes a long swig of her Gatorade. She notices one particularly attractive wide receiver who may not be a first round pick but would definitely be her first pick to take back to her apartment if her boyfriend isn’t home. “I’ll make sure to stop by the café before I leave. Maybe I’ll stop by now and put it in my bag.”

“Whatever works for you. That might be the better bet, for sure,” Julia says as she starts to walk away. At most normal fitness centers, it’s perfectly normal to engage in long casual conversations with your clients. However, the folks here aren’t doing this for casual exercise. It’s not a hobby. This is a job. Julia (and Alex, to an extent) respects that and doesn’t come out to chat with people unless it’s to tell them something important like their favorite post-workout energy bar might be sold out before they even take their shower. As usual, once Julia is out of earshot Monique is back to work, this time heading over to the pull-up bar to crank out a dozen repetitions. Back strength is another area she needs to work on, or so says her coach.

Forty minutes later Monique wanders over to the café to purchase her usual fruit smoothie (with about $8 worth of extra protein, boosters, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin C, and other supplements) and homemade energy bar. Julia wraps it in aluminum foil, a sure sign that she’s out of plastic saran wrap. She has about $19.50 left on her tab, according to the receipt. Monique makes a mental note to refill it the next time she’s here. Having a tab is very convenient for athletes who need a quick booster shake or protein bar but don’t want to trudge back to the locker room to get their wallet. They can pay in advance and get whatever they want until their tab runs dry. In addition to offering world-class equipment and lots of space to work (the building used to be a Wal-Mart, which provides perspective of how large the gym is), Alex and Julia understand how professional athletes think and operate. When they’re “in the zone” they are as locked in as one could possibly be. Tunnel vision. Hyper focused. Determined. Anal retentive. Fussy about little details like the exact number of shots of whey protein and calcium tablets they want to be added to their kale shake (which Monique despises but drinks on occasion anyway). You can even order what you want via an app and expect everything to be ready by the time you’re done showering.

“Bye girl!” Julia yells to Monique as she approaches the exit.

“See you later, alligator!” she replies, in typical fashion for a Floridian who grew up around swamps full of such creatures.

As she walks out the front door and into the parking lot, Monique tries to figure out what she needs to do next. First, she must go to the grocery store and pick up more tilapia, steak, broccoli, cauliflower, and brown rice. Second, she needs to pick up a new package that’s waiting for her at the post office. And third, she should hurry and head to the bank before it closes (it’s a few blocks away from her one-bedroom apartment in downtown Miami) to cash out the $5,000 Dylan Tanaka has just wired to her account. She looks at her phone and sees the time is now 11:15 in the morning. The first two destinations should be easy to get to since traffic is light at this time of day. On Tuesdays, the bank closes early at 2:00 p.m. for reasons that she still has not figured out. It’s usually open until 4:30 every other day (except for Sundays, when it’s not open at all) of the week. Monique isn’t short on money quite yet (the rent check is expected to be taken to the bank within a day or two) but having $5,000 in cash handy never hurts.

When she gets to her car, she puts her bag in the trunk and finishes eating the energy bar. She crushes the foil into a ball, sees a nearby trash can, and tosses it inside. Magically, she doesn’t miss. Her hit rate is usually 20%, which is why weightlifting is the sport she chose to pursue. Very little hand-eye coordination is necessary for lifting heavy weights. Before she can take off, a familiar (and totally unexpected) voice speaks to her out of nowhere.

“Nice shot! Dwayne Wade would be proud.”

Monique freezes, lifts an eyebrow, and turns around to see who is speaking to her. Sure enough, it’s Dylan Tanaka: her friend, former boss, and financial benefactor. Dylan rarely makes trips down to South Beach to check-in on her, so this is (genuinely) a pleasant surprise.

“Dylan! Oh my God, it’s so good to see you!” Monique runs to him, throws her strong arms around his torso, and essentially lifts him off the ground. Dylan lets out a small noise of protest when he feels his feet leave the pavement. When his feet eventually land back on solid ground, he kisses her on the cheek. “Like, seriously! What the hell are you doing here?”

“I decided to give you your monthly payment in person this month.” He discreetly hands her an envelope full of cash. Without breaking eye contact, Monique takes it and stuffs it in her purse. “Did you notice that I hadn’t deposited your usual amount in your account yet?”

“Oh no, I just assumed you did. I hadn’t checked yet. I was actually just about to head to the bank before I got home.” Intuitively, Monique looks around to see if anybody in the parking lot is watching them converse. Dylan may not be a household name (though he is quite popular among tech geeks and business leaders) but he did mention a long time ago that he would prefer their friendship remain private. However, he’s the one who decided to pay her a surprise visit out in the open, so he’s the one taking the risk, not her.

“Well, now you don’t need to! What other errands do you have to run?”

“Oh, I need to go shopping and then, uh, to the post office to pick up a package. I’m expecting a new posing swimsuit that I got from Celine. I’m excited to try it on!” Celine Jackson is a retired professional bodybuilder who now sells her own line of posing outfits for competitors. She’s basically Monique’s unofficial second mother. She took Monique under her wing when they met at the Tampa Pro back in 2010. Monique briefly dabbled in the world of bodybuilding before giving up that lifestyle to become an Olympian. It was Celine’s final competition. She ended up placing 8th, which was a significant drop off from last year when she placed 3rd. That was the sign that it was time to “hang up the cleats,” so to speak. Her drive to improve her craft had diminished to the point that, at the ripe age of 48, she retired from competing. However, she loved the people and missed hanging out with everyone on a regular basis. So, she decided to learn how to sew, attended several clothing design seminars, and now runs her own one-woman business making swimsuits for bodybuilders and fitness models.

Monique, while she’s in a comfortable position from a financial perspective, still supplements that income by doing modeling on the side. There are plenty of bikini models in South Beach (too much, to be exact) but not too many of them on the muscular side. Monique’s rare blend of natural beauty, grace, symmetrical musculature, and charming personality make her a photographer’s dream come true. Her rich dark skin glows when viewed through a camera lens, a fact that many local (and national) fashion photographers have noticed. She’s not the tallest gal you’ll ever meet at 5’ 7”, but if she’s alone in the frame and you shoot her at the right angle, she’s as powerful and marvelous to behold as anyone in the world. There’s a reason why Dylan Tanaka immediately was enraptured by her when he first laid eyes on her.

“Celine is the best in the business, for sure,” Dylan remarks. “Are you planning another photoshoot in the near future?”

“Yes! With Charlie Ang. Do you know him?”

Dylan thinks for a moment and shakes his head. “Uh, no. I’ve never heard the name. Is he related to Margaret Ang?”

“Oh, yes. I believe so. I think they’re brother and sister.” Margaret Ang is a Chinese-American fitness model (and former competitor) based in New York City. Dylan met her once at a fundraising gala in NYC several years ago and tried to flirt with her. When she informed him that she’s a lesbian and isn’t interested in dating men, that was the end of it. Dylan cut his losses, smiled at her, and moved on to chatting with someone else. He knows Margaret has a younger brother who works as a professional freelance photographer, though he never caught his name. Apparently, his name is Charlie. And he knows Monique.

“That’s cool. I didn’t know that. I guess I learn something new every day.” For an awkward moment, Dylan and Monique look at each other in complete silence.

“Where are you staying?”

“Oh, I’m at the Bentley Beach Club over in Miami Beach,” he says. “Would you, um, like to come over to visit?”

Dylan hopes this request isn’t seen as an ultimatum or a condition of receiving payment from him. From the very beginning, Dylan hasn’t asked for much in return. Just her assurance that she’ll try her hardest to win the gold medal and that she’ll keep their “business arrangement” a closely guarded secret. Only a small handful of times has Dylan paid her a visit. All of those times he texted her in advance so she’d know about it. And every time they meet all he asks is for the opportunity to be with her for just one hour. It usually happens in his hotel room. She gets dressed in lingerie, a bikini, or skimpy athletic wear. Then, Dylan “worships” her by feeling her rock-hard body to his heart’s delight. Sex is never involved. Monique isn’t above making sure Dylan leaves their meeting “satisfied,” though. But no penetrative sex. Ever. All in all, being able to worship her is the only thing he asks in return. She doesn’t mind, though it was awkward at first. She’s been in a relationship with her boyfriend, Jake, for several years now. He’s aware of her friendship with Dylan and the monetary compensation she receives monthly from him. He doesn’t mind them meeting every once in a while on the condition that they never “go too far,” a requirement that every party understands well.

“Of course. I’m not expected to be home for a while. I can…be with you for the rest of the day.” She smiles at him in an attempt to lighten the mood. Still, Dylan doesn’t feel like she’s totally comfortable with him being here unannounced.

“Seriously, darling. You don’t need to say “yes.” You can say no and not feel bad about it. I’d hate to disrupt your day like this. I’m actually here for a technology conference that kicks off tomorrow. I decided to show up a day early to get some sun and, uh, see you.” Monique approaches him and plants a long, wet kiss on his cheek. This eases the tension a bit.

“I know. I get it. Our relationship is always kind of, you know, weird,” she says. Dylan nods his head silently. “But I do like spending time with you. Even though we don’t see each other all that much. Seriously, I’d love to visit you at your hotel. I’ve heard of the Bentley but have never actually been there. I’d like to see it.”

“Thank you. First, let’s go pick up your package. I’d love to get a preview of what Charlie will later capture on film.”

“Sounds good! Let’s get rolling.”

After a quick hug, Dylan and Monique get in their separate vehicles (Dylan is driving a rented car from a high-end car rental dealership that he can never remember the name of) and head to the post office. After waiting in line for a grand total of seven minutes, Monique comes out with a small package in hand. She winks at Dylan, who chose to remain in his car so he could listen to the radio. All he could stand was three minutes of two morons screaming about which University of Miami player the Dolphins should draft before he turned it off. Their next stop was Dylan’s suite at the Bentley, a four-star resort hotel located away from the downtown area. Monique decides to go shopping later this evening. She can use that as an excuse in case Jake wonders why she’s late returning home. Thirty-eight minutes later Monique is parking her car in an underground guest area while Dylan situates himself in a VIP spot located next to the service elevators. Being rich sure has its benefits, Monique observes unironically.

Monique has been to Las Vegas many times, so she knows what a luxury hotel looks like. The Bentley is just like many others she’s been to over the years – including several right here in South Beach – so nothing she sees is surprising. However, that doesn’t mean she isn’t envious of how filthy rich people like Dylan Tanaka can live. He could definitely afford to purchase an oceanside condo for her and her boyfriend, but that would make Jake feel more emasculated than he already is. Jake refuses to think of himself as being cuckolded, though the feeling still persists after all these years. He and Monique met via a mutual friend. She was honest and forthright about her business relationship with Dylan. So he cannot accuse her of hiding anything from him. He knew what he was getting himself into. She was fully transparent and honest. At first, the chance to be with a woman like Monique St. Martin was irresistible. How can anyone say no to her? But as time has gone on, he’s grown weary of her long-distance “friendship” with a rich billionaire who gives her a measly $5,000 a month (he could give her $500,000 a month and he’d barely miss it). And, he’s not comfortable with her allowing him to touch her body like that. Jake believes Monique when she says they’ve never had penetrative sex, but that’s still not enough to make him feel less uncomfortable with the circumstances. Monique is keenly aware of Jake’s reticence. Hopefully, once they get married they can put all of this behind them. She’ll tell Dylan that his days of “worshipping” her are over. He’ll understand and respect her wishes, she believes. If not, by then if she’s already won a gold medal, she can decide to break off their business partnership. The monthly payments will dry up, but at that point what difference would it make?

Dylan and Monique move quickly to his suite, which is located on the opposite end of where the parking lot is situated. They don’t want to be seen together, since Dylan suspects there’s a strong possibility many of tomorrow’s conference attendees might also be spending the whole week here. He doesn’t want any rumors to spread about him. Several witnesses seeing him escorting an attractive muscular woman to his suite is guaranteed to get folks in the tech world gossiping. Twelve minutes after parking, the two friends find themselves inside Dylan’s spacious suite.

“Wow! What a place. You can see the ocean! Hell, you can smell the ocean from here. DAMN!” Monique runs to an open window and gazes at the endless blue horizon. No matter how long she lives in South Beach, she’ll never get tired of the ocean. She loves how it looks, how it sounds, how it smells, everything about it. As Dylan puts his wallet and keys away, Monique takes out a small pocketknife from her purse and opens the package. He watches her gleefully, not knowing what to expect.

“What kind of swimsuit did you order?”

“A red, white, and blue one for the Fourth of July!” After unboxing it, she holds it up so Dylan can better see it. “Charlie says I can be featured in the June issue of Sports Illustrated if we take photos now. You know, so he can submit them early.”

“For the swimsuit issue?”

Monique laughs. “Sadly, no. Just for an advertisement for aviator sunglasses. I can’t remember the name of the company, but they’ve asked the general public to submit photos of people wearing their brand of shades. I have a pair at home. It’s a new company looking to break into the industry. Charlie is a good friend of someone in their marketing department, so I’m practically guaranteed to be featured if we take good patriotic-looking pictures.” She gives Dylan a few practice modeling poses. He smiles. “Want to see me try it on?”

“Please. I’d love to see you in it.” He leans over to kiss her on the cheek. Monique looks into his fiery eyes before strutting to the bathroom to change. As he waits, Dylan unbuttons the top of his shirt so his neck could properly breathe. He removes his shoes and socks, hangs his blazer up in the closet, and checks himself out in a mirror. Dylan regrets that he didn’t shave before leaving Seattle. In his personal (and somewhat objective) opinion, he thinks he looks better with a perpetual five o’clock shadow than cleanly shaven. However, he’s not at his best – by his own admission – when his facial hair gets too long. Dylan doesn’t like to travel despite his many years of experience riding on airplanes, both private and commercial. One reason for that is that he gets so fussy thinking about arrival and departure times that little things like shaving the night before slip his mind. He makes a mental note to shave tonight before going to bed so he’ll be fresh for the conference tomorrow morning.

In the bathroom, Monique removes her hoodie, jeans, socks, and sports bra. She leaves them neatly folded up and sitting on top of a large basket meant for wet towels. Normally, she wears a minimal amount of makeup, especially after a workout. She only gets “dolled up” for date nights, public appearances, and, obviously, modeling shoots. For this special occasion, Monique decides to present to Dylan the best version of herself that she possibly can in such short order. She fishes out of her purse a tube of lipstick, mascara, blush, and glittery gel to place around her eyes. After many years of practice applying makeup on the fly, less than ninety seconds later she looks at herself in the mirror and is surprised that she actually likes what’s reflected back to her. She brushes off some packaging dust from the swimsuit and then blows on it for good measure. While there’s no need to get dressed in a hurry, she doesn’t like making people wait for her. Dylan is a patient man and would wait twelve hours for her if it were necessary. However, she doesn’t want to spend all day in the bathroom. After getting into the swimsuit, Monique takes one last look at her painted face. It looks great. She flexes her right bicep for the mirror, which looks especially full because she’s less than an hour removed from her workout. Finally satisfied with how she looks, Monique leaves the bathroom to present herself to her one adoring fan.

Dylan, meanwhile, is sitting on a lounge chair, respectfully waiting for her to come out. He’s not on his phone or flipping through a magazine as if he’s waiting for his number to be called at the DMV. When he hears the bathroom door open, he looks as attentive as an overachieving kid on the first day of school. Monique dances out of the bathroom with the audacity of someone auditioning for a Broadway musical. She looks radiant, energetic, bright, and full of happy vibes. The red, white, and blue swimsuit would make anybody want to scream “God bless America” from the rooftops.

“My God, you look incredible. Absolutely amazing.” He continues to remain seated, allowing this drop-dead gorgeous woman to approach him at her own pace.

“Thank you, baby. I like how it feels. Very comfy! Celine knows how to design for comfort and, well, sexiness.” Monique twirls around so Dylan can see all of her. He wants nothing more than to cup her full, round glutes in his hands. Hopefully, that reality will soon come to pass.

“She knows what she’s doing. There’s a reason why it’s become such a lucrative business for her,” Dylan assesses. “But can we talk for a moment about…you? You look fabulous! I can see so much growth and development since the last time I saw you. God, your hamstrings are off the charts! And you could rest a freight train across your shoulders, for crying out loud. Wow!” While developing fullness to her muscles isn’t her ultimate goal, all that training will eventually produce the kind of results Dylan has just described. He reaches out to touch her quads. Monique lifts her left leg up so he can better access it. Almost immediately Dylan feels something developing in his underwear. Monique turns around, bends over, and shakes her butt in his face. He then grabs a handful of her glutes, marveling at how hard and bubbly they are.

“My God! Your glutes are, oh baby, life-affirming,” Dylan breathlessly says. “It should be illegal for you to ever sit down or wear a skirt that covers up this magnificent butt of yours.”

“That would make my life very difficult!” Monique laughs.

“I’m kidding, of course. But what I’m not kidding about is, uh, everything about you. You’re…you’re…um, you’re so beautiful. Breathtaking. Your face…your eyes brighten a room.” Dylan finally stands up, unable to take it anymore. Monique cups his groin, sensing his growing arousal. He proceeds to feel her entire body, from head to toe. She closes her eyes, enjoying the soft, delicate touch of Dylan’s fingers against her hard body. Dylan adores the feel of Monique’s silky smooth black skin and the tight muscle fibers hiding underneath it. He’s always hated the term “exotic,” especially given his Asian heritage and the historical connotations of that word. Yet, he cannot come up with a better word to describe Monique St. Martin’s entire being. She’s exotic. She looks like she should be displayed in a museum. Like many Caribbean women, her sharp eyes, angular face, and rich chocolate complexion make her seem like the Almighty spent a little bit more time designing her. She’s blessed with DNA that puts her at an advantage over every other woman on the planet. It’s easy for her to develop muscle mass, which is why she (sort of) looks like a bodybuilder despite the fact she doesn’t train like one. Without question, there are plenty of competitive bodybuilders who are jealous of how effortless her physique looks.

“You feel…amazing. Utterly amazing.”

“Baby, I love the feel of your fingers against my skin. I mean it when I say that.” Monique’s eyes are still closed, while Dylan’s eyes are wide open, taking in her entire physical presence. He’s drinking in her essence, appreciating her physicality, enjoying her aura. “You can touch me wherever you like, darling.”

Especially in their relationship, where business often mixes with pleasure, where they remain platonic friends but are perfectly willing to indulge in sensual activities like this, verbal consent is important. Dylan and Monique both genuinely treasure their unusual, strange, and occasionally awkward friendship. Their relationship isn’t romantic, but it’s difficult to ignore the deeply held feelings they have for each other. She has a boyfriend (and he’s casually dating Amanda McDermott, a senior executive at Perseus Analytics who would be next in line to the throne of CEO should Dylan step down or unexpectedly get fired) who tolerates this weird social arrangement up to a certain point. Dylan is financially supporting her but doesn’t officially expect anything tangible in return…except he sort of does. Monique does enjoy meeting Dylan for these sensual muscle worship visits…though she would be lying if she said she doesn’t always have Jake’s disappointed face etched into her brain the whole time they’re together. Nevertheless, verbal consent is the key to maintaining their longstanding friendship and preventing anything from going off the rails. So far, it’s worked remarkably well.

“I intend to, my dear,” Dylan declares as his hands move down her six-pack abdomen. Monique flexes both arms so she can show off her impressive biceps, triceps, and forearm development. Dylan does not hesitate to follow her lead. He playfully squeezes her bicep peak. She kindly flexes it as hard as she can, relishing the fact his fingers cannot contain her muscle growth. Dylan lays a trail of kisses down her arm until he lightly massages her pecs. Like many athletes, Monique’s breasts have shrunken down to basically nothing. She doesn’t plan to get enhancement surgery anytime soon. It’s not because it’s considered taboo within the Olympian community, but more because she doesn’t want the general public to believe having small boobs makes her less of a woman. She still has curves in all the right places, a pretty face, and plenty of confidence to show she is a force to be reckoned with.

Eventually, Monique and Dylan move to the bed. She’s still wearing her swimsuit while Dylan has stripped down to his boxers. His erection is unmistakable now. While she hasn’t said this out loud, she doesn’t intend to get naked with him. Not today. She has in the past, but she’s not in the mood right now. Dylan senses this and doesn’t say anything about it. The sight of Monique St. Martin in a red, white, and blue swimsuit is enough to make any man’s heart stop mid-beat. Dylan is now kissing her bubbly butt. She wiggles her glutes as a favor to him. She looks at the clock and sees the time is now 4:09. She told Jake she’d be home by 5:00 or so (with groceries in hand), and she intends to keep that promise. Without saying a word, Monique hooks her fingers around Dylan’s boxers and slides them down his legs. He knows what’s going to happen next.

“I have a bottle of oil in my luggage,” he says.

“That’s good. I forgot to put mine in my purse. You know, because I wasn’t expecting to have to use it today!” She giggles. Then, she kisses Dylan on the lips. Remarkably, this is the first time their lips have come together today. He’s kissed almost every inch of her body up to this point (excluding the parts of her that are covered up by Celine’s tailor-made swimsuit) except for her lips. He rejoices at tasting her strawberry-flavored gloss. Thirty seconds later, Dylan returns to the bed with a small bottle of baby oil. He lies down. Already as stiff as can be, Monique applies a small dab of oil onto the palm of her hand and begins to stroke his shaft up and down.

“Oh my God, darling…yes…”

Dylan’s head falls back onto his hotel pillow. Now it’s his turn to close his eyes and enjoy the sensual experience overcoming him. Monique has perfected her technique by now, knowing not to squeeze too hard and allow her strong calloused fingers to do the work. She knows Dylan enjoys long fluid strokes as opposed to short jerky pulls. His breathing intensifies, a sure sign he’s close to completion. Monique smiles. For good measure, she caresses his legs with her free hand, also noticing that Dylan has kept up his personal workout regimen. He (obviously) doesn’t exercise nearly as often – or as intensively – as she does, but Monique can appreciate a full male thigh when she encounters one.

“I…I love this so much…”

“Come for me, baby.”

Right on cue, Dylan spurts all over himself. Hot milky white semen shoots out onto his tummy and chest in four powerful squirts. Monique loves watching Dylan come. It’s the biggest reason why she happily gets him off at the end of their time together. Dylan has one special talent that her boyfriend Jake definitely does not have. Dylan shoots. Far. Jake, unfortunately for her, oozes out slowly. It is, no pun intended, quite anti-climactic. Whenever she manually stimulates her boyfriend, it always ends in disappointment – from her point of view. He’s great in the sack but lacks the ability to “entertain” her when he climaxes. Dylan, to his credit, always delivers a good show that deserves a standing ovation and a bouquet of flowers.

“Oh, wow. That was incredible. I keep saying this, but you are so good at this,” Dylan awakens from his daze. When he looks down, he sees a huge mess on his torso. Monique dashes to the bathroom to retrieve a moist towelette. He’s careful not to move or else he risks staining the bedsheets. That’s not something he wants to call room service about. Fortunately for him, Monique returns quickly with a towel. She hands it to him, letting him clean up his own mess. Dylan goes into the bathroom to properly wash up.

When Monique checks her phone, she sees a text from Jake. It reads: “Just went shopping to get the things on your list. No need to go, in case you haven’t already.”

Good to know, Monique thinks to herself. That’s one fewer errand she needs to run before returning home. Soon afterward, Dylan emerges from the bathroom and proceeds to get his clothes back on. Now it’s her turn to disappear back into the bathroom. Minutes later, she returns fully dressed and all her makeup wiped off. She still looks like she just endured a long grueling workout at AJ Athletic Club. That’s the way she plans to present herself to her boyfriend later this evening.

“You probably need to get going, like right now,” Dylan says.

“Yep. I need to get back home. It’s getting late.” The time is now 4:31. Rush hour traffic has already started. She estimates it will take at least forty minutes to return home. If she’s home at least by 5:30 she won’t have to come up with an excuse for what she was doing all afternoon.

“I’ll escort you to the parking lot. You think you can find your way home?”

“Yes!” She holds up her iPhone. “GPS will tell me everything I need to know. Including which roads to avoid.”

“Excellent!” He leans over and kisses her on the cheek. A few fragments of glitter can still be seen under her eyes. “Let’s get going.”

The good news for Monique is that the drive home took about as long as she was expecting. As she walked through her front door at 5:28, she smells dinner cooking in the kitchen. Esmerelda, her fluffy orange kitten, is waiting for her. She picks her up and kisses the kitty on the head. Esmerelda meows quietly. Monique puts the cat back on the floor, who immediately scurries off into the living room.

“Hi baby. I’m home. Traffic was a bitch tonight,” she says as she puts her gym bag away in the closet. Jake comes out of the kitchen, struggling to open a jar of pickled onions.

“Good evening, babe. Alright. I’m probably going to feel emasculated by this, but could you, uh, open this for me?” Jake sheepishly smiles at his girlfriend. Without hesitation, Monique takes the jar from him, wraps her fingers around the lid, and twists it open in one fell swoop. The jar makes the oh-so-satisfying popping sound that comes from air escaping after several weeks in captivity. She hands the jar back to her boyfriend, grinning like she just won the lottery.

“Don’t worry, baby. You’re still the man of the house, the man in my life.” She kisses him deeply on the lips, making sure she puts a little extra oomph into it. “Physical strength doesn’t change anything. You’re still a man. I’m still a woman. It’s that simple.”

“Thanks, darling.” Jake returns to the kitchen to resume stirring some pork cutlets. Tonight, he’s making Mexican-style tortas. The pickled onions should add texture to the sandwiches. “If I were training for the Olympics, I can guarantee I’d be waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay stronger than you!”

“Uh huh, keep telling yourself babe!” she teases him.

Together, they enjoyed a pleasant dinner that night, with Esmerelda laying at her feet underneath the dining table. Never once did Monique mention her brief meeting with Dylan Tanaka or the fact that he’s in town. She did, however, talk up the new swimsuit she got in the mail today. She promises that when she shows it off for him later this evening, he won’t be able to take his hands off her. After all these years together, Monique has learned one important lesson about her boyfriend, who occasionally feels emotionally insecure from her superhuman strength. A lively romp in the bedroom where she (even if she has to slightly exaggerate things) is screaming her head off in ecstasy is usually enough to make Jake feel like a Man again. Tonight, she feels he’s entitled to a particularly lengthy session of orgasmic pleasure.

She was right.

At 10:38 p.m., while Monique and Jake are passionately making love in their cramped one-bedroom apartment, Dylan Tanaka is alone in his hotel room finishing off a grilled panini he ordered from room service. The television is on, but he is in no mood to watch anything. All he can think about is Monique. Her body. Her face. Her warm personality. Her drive to be great at what she sets out to do. In a different parallel universe, he’d be dating her. Or, better yet, married to her and making lots of beautiful half-Caribbean half-Japanese babies. But alas, that is not his reality. Nor hers. After watching on his laptop a short video of his favorite porn star, Peggy Cole, masturbating with a series of colorful vibrators, Dylan decides he should do the same thing.

With the lights turned down low, Dylan turns off the TV, removes all his clothing, lies down on the bed, and closes his eyes. He thinks long and hard about Monique’s perfect body that was right in this room just a few hours ago. He reaches down and strokes his own penis, awakening it back to life. At 10:46 p.m., Dylan climaxes for the second time that day. At the exact same time several miles away, Monique experiences her fifth orgasm thanks to her boyfriend’s considerable bedroom skills. He may be a raging math nerd, but he knows how to please a woman in the sheets. She recognizes this and constantly reminds him of it. This is one way she makes her man feel like a Big Man, despite the fact she’s significantly stronger than him in every way possible.

At around 11:15 p.m., both Dylan Tanaka and Monique St. Martin fall asleep. Jake is in the shower, cleaning off the grime of the day. It was surely an eventful day for all involved. It would also not be the last eventful day they’d ever experience.

***

“How the fuck do you expect me to fit his whole dick in my mouth?”

Peggy Cole, dressed in a black BDSM outfit and carrying a faux leather whip in her hand, is sitting on a large cage where a male actor has spent all afternoon hunched over inside. Today’s video shoot is at the private residence of Gordon DeLorenzo, a retired Wall Street investor and avid porn enthusiast who now lives in Spring Valley, Nevada. Gordon isn’t currently home, but a modest film crew of eight, plus four actors, have taken up temporary residence at his lavish estate. The director, Tony, is good buddies with Gordon (who’s invested many dollars into past projects) and is grateful that he frequently lets him film videos at his home for free.

All Gordon asks is that they properly clean up after themselves. No candy wrappers, condom wrappers, or muddy tracks in the house after they’re gone. Tony diligently makes sure they leave the place cleaner than they found it every single time.

This week is dedicated to shooting a series of BDSM-themed scenes involving all sorts of performers. Peggy is one of several female bodybuilders Tony has worked with in the past – and by far his favorite. She’s willing to do almost anything imaginable on camera, unless it’s physically impossible. Today, she might have met her match.

“I know it’s quite a lot, but you have to try your best,” Tony reassures her. “Honestly, you don’t really need to get it all in. Half of it will be just fine. Just don’t choke. Look like you’re having a good time, if that makes sense.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ll enjoy it, you better believe it. It’s just…a lot to take in, if you know what I mean!” Peggy smirks at Tony and Kit Styles, a relatively new performer in the business. Kit winks at her, knowing she’s famous for deep throating some of the largest dicks in the world without gagging. It’s part of her appeal, which everyone on set knows full well. Other than the fact she’s full of muscle, this is a large reason why she was asked to do this scene in the first place. Kit is a one-of-a-kind, which means it requires an equally unique costar to make it all work.

“If anybody should be nervous, it’s me!” Kit confesses. He hopes a little bit of levity will resolve this conflict.

“You’ve done enough of these things to not get nervous anymore,” Peggy tells him. “I can clearly see you’re ready to go, baby darling!”

Peggy points down at Kit’s erect 12-inch penis as all the evidence she needs that he’s not too nervous about shooting this scene. The other male performer, Jeff, is the man in the cage. He doesn’t really do anything except remain inside the cage looking as helpless as possible while wearing an oversized baby’s diaper and a ball gag. He’s basically set decoration, a role that Jeff is perfectly fine with. A paycheck’s a paycheck, after all. As long as the check clears, he’ll do whatever he’s asked.

“Are you ready?” Tony asks his cast. Jillian, who’s off to the side and doesn’t enter the scene until much later, gives him the thumbs up. “Are you ready, dear?”

“Sure. Let’s do this thing!” Peggy says.

“Yeah,” Kit replies softly.

“Good! Let’s roll.” Tony takes a few steps back to give his performers space. A boom mic operator stands at his normal position. The director of photography (DP) looks into the viewfinder to ensure the shot is framed perfectly. The “sound guy” crouches in the corner with a comically large pair of headphones on. He gives a silent “thumbs up” to Tony. A lighting assistant watches from the opposite corner. In another room is a makeup artist, a random production assistant, and the most important crewmember of all: the fluffer.

“Rolling,” the DP says.

“Go,” Tony commands.

Five seconds of silence follows. Then action commences.

“As you can see, I have your friend right where I want him.” Peggy pats the top of the cage. Jeff looks up, mumbles incoherently through the ball gag, and crawls into a fetal position. She stands up and walks slowly towards Kit, who’s standing twenty feet away from her, leaning against a doorframe. She makes sure the boom microphone picks up the sound of her heels clicking against the hardwood floor. “He’s powerless to escape. So are you. You wanted me, now you’re going to get me.”

“Oh I don’t know about this. This was his idea, not mine!” Kit begs the mistress. “If I do what you say, will you let me go?”

“I might,” she teases him, grabbing his scrotum and squeezing it lightly. A soft moan escapes from Kit’s throat. “I have a proposition for you. Would you like to hear it?”

“Oh, yes, miss. I would very much like to hear it.”

“EXCUSE ME? MISS? WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU JUST CALL ME, YOU LITTLE BITCH?” she grabs his throat in anger.

“Sorry! I’m so, so sorry! Mistress! Yes, mistress. Have mercy on me. I’d love to hear your proposition, please,” he squeaks. After a few seconds, Peggy releases his throat.

“Good, good. As you know, I’m looking for a brand new assistant to help me out with my bondage business. You and your buddy answered our job posting. Thank you for that,” she whispers in his ear. “However, I know for a fact he’d be perfect for the job. He’s short, skinny, stupid, and a little bitch. He’ll be easy to control. He’s a perfect slave for someone strong and dominant like me!”

“Oh no! Does that mean I have no chance of getting hired? Should I just, uh, go home?” Kit’s erection begins to deflate slightly, much to his chagrin. Tony isn’t concerned, considering Peggy is the queen at getting guys hard under pressure. Lots of new guys have “performance anxiety” that can be crippling to shooting a porn video. Kit is promising, though. He’s not only enormous down there, but he’s charming in a dorky kind of way and comes across as a natural on camera. Those qualities can take you far, Tony often advises him. That, and your enormous dick.

“Not so fast, buster! You ain’t going anywhere. I wasn’t finished yet,” Peggy says in her sternest voice possible. “Your friend may be my little bitch, but you’re going to be my little slut. Come here!” Kit takes a few steps toward her. Wearing nothing but a spiked collar around his neck, Peggy grabs onto it and drags him closer to the cage. Jeff, who doesn’t have any lines in this scene, just looks on like a puppy watching TV. “I’m about to show you boys what it’s like working at my agency, okay? You think you can handle me?”

Peggy gets down on her knees right in front of Kit’s penis. It’s even more deflated than before, a state of being that she plans to alter momentarily. She may be a self-professed “size queen” and someone who’s been around the block a few times, but Kit Styles takes the cake. She can name off the top of her head at least eight or nine guys who arrogantly claim they’re a solid 12-incher. None of them (though Peggy would never call them out publicly) are telling the truth. However, all that changed the day she met Kit a few weeks ago. He’s the real deal. It’s going to be a real struggle to deep throat him when she only has so much throat space. She knows she can’t wait forever or else Tony will yell “cut” and force everyone to do another take. And Peggy hates to make everyone have to do extra work just because she can’t do what she’s supposed to do.

The first thing she does is grab Kit’s penis by the base and tickle his scrotum. He lets out a persuasive moan that will play well for the camera. Not too over-the-top but realistic enough to feel genuine. Then, Peggy licks the tip with her entire tongue like it’s a huge scoop of ice cream. After several licks, Peggy finally attempts to put it inside her mouth. As she anticipated, she only gets halfway before his tip practically touches her larynx. She knows if she goes any deeper she’ll start to gag, which would be quite embarrassing to her professional reputation. Several laps with her tongue result in Kit getting fully hard – which also makes deep throating him an even more formidable challenge. Peggy looks up at him to see if he’s enjoying what she’s giving him. His head is tilted upward and his hands are caressing the back of her head. This is usually a good sign that he’s liking what’s happening. Peggy decides to give him double stimulation: stimulate the top half of his cock with her mouth and the bottom half with her hands. It’s guaranteed to get him off faster than usual, a risk she’s willing to take. If they need to do another take an hour from now (which is common after a male performer ejaculates and is still needed to get hard again for a different scene), so be it. It’s not like Gordon will care. He’s not charging them for using his home. And, he’s not expected back for at least three to four days.

“Ohhhhhhhhh baby…” Kit moans. She can tell he’s getting close by the way his pre-cum is dripping freely down her throat. He hasn’t fully come yet (at least, not to her knowledge), despite the considerable amount of fluid he’s already started leaking. Tony hasn’t stopped the scene yet, so apparently she’s doing something right…

One final jerk of the base of his penis is enough to bring Kit past the point of no return. Peggy follows the script – yes, this porno actually has a written script – and whips out his penis right as he starts to ejaculate. She closes her eyes and allows his semen to squirt all over her face. The hot stickiness awakens her senses. No matter how many blowjobs and hand jobs (technically speaking, this was both) she gives in her life, Peggy Cole will always be disgusted by the strong smell of semen. She doesn’t like it. She doesn’t like how it smells, tastes, or feels dripping down her face. She loves everything about sex; including kink play, toys, roleplaying, fetish scenes, gang bangs, and doing the deed with people of all gender identities; yet this is the one thing she truly doesn’t like. She’s pretty sure that’s the way it’s going to be for the rest of her life.

“Oh fuck yeah!” Kit screams in delight. “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes baby…”

“Mmmmmmm, baby, that’s a very big dick you have,” Peggy says while standing up. “And lots of cum all over my pretty little face. Now, who should clean this up?”

“Uh, I can go get a towel…”

“That won’t be necessary, baby.” Peggy turns to face the opposite direction where the fictional kitchen is located. “Ooooooohhhhhhhhhhhh Kayla! Come here!”

“Who…who’s Kayla?”

“My, how do I say this, personal assistant! You’ll love her!” The one final thing Peggy has to do for this shot is dab a little bit of Kit’s semen onto her index finger and taste it. She does so right on cue, putting on the fakest smile she can possibly muster.

“And cut!” Tony yells. “Excellent! That’s a wrap. I’m very happy with that. Thank you all. We’ll finish the rest of the scene after lunch. What time is it?”

“11:39,” says a random production assistant.

“Great! Let’s break for lunch. Be back on set for the next scene at 12:45. Okay?” Everyone gives Tony a verbal reply acknowledging their new call time. The production assistant (PA) hands Peggy a hot steamed towel to wipe her face with. She graciously takes it and immediately starts to clean herself off. The same PA hands Kit a baby wipe to clean off his penis. She looks down quickly, admiring his considerable length and girth (even after it returns to a flaccid state). Kit smiles back, accustomed to receiving such looks from film crews. The PA looks embarrassed and hurries away to throw away the used baby wipe in the trash. As Peggy finishes cleaning her face, worried that her makeup has been ruined beyond salvaging, Kit gives her a light tap on the shoulder.

“Very good job, Peggy,” he says. “You were great. You’re excellent at making guys like me feel at ease. Damn, I was so fucking nervous when I woke up this morning. You want to know why?”

“Why is that?” she asks, excited to smell freshly baked bread instead of jizz.

“Because I couldn’t believe I was going to work with you. You’re a really, really big deal. Seriously. You are!”

“Oh darling, that’s too kind of you.” She kisses him on the cheek. “One day you’ll be a bigger deal than me. I’m not going to last forever in this business. But you have staying power. Just as long as you’re still able to get it up.” She points to his manhood, grins, then disappears into the bathroom to wash up (for real) and get changed. Peggy realizes just how hungry she actually is right now. Lunch sounds like a delight. Rumor has it they’re having fresh lasagna and toasted garlic bread. That must be where the scent of bread came from.

The rest of the day went by smoothly. Jillian, also a relative newbie to the porn industry, is a 23-year-old black girl from Queens, New York. She just decided to go into porn last year, having just moved to Las Vegas four months ago. Her role was to give a hand job to Jeff while Peggy straddles Kit on the floor between her strong legs. She did a marvelous job, which made Tony especially proud. Tony isn’t sure if Jillian has the same “staying power” as Kit Styles, but he has no doubt she’ll give it her best. In the end, that’s all one can do. Give it your all. Until there’s nothing left to give.

Tony informed the crew before everyone left at 4:45 p.m. that they should be done for the rest of the week. They shot everything they needed to shoot. After he and the DP look at the dailies they’ll determine if reshoots are necessary. But until everyone hears from him, they can safely assume their weeks’ worth of work is now done. Peggy graciously offers Kit a ride back to Aria, where’s he’s staying until his flight home leaves in two days. Once inside her car, Peggy navigates the Vegas Strip (and a few side streets) like a seasoned pro. Kit is impressed by how well she knows her way around town, especially during rush hour.

“How often do you visit the Strip?”

“You’d be surprised. Not often. Maybe three or four times a month. Usually for business or if I’m meeting a friend from out of town,” Peggy says, darting through traffic during a somewhat modest rush hour jam. “People who live in Vegas rarely visit the Strip. It’s too damn crowded, full of tourists, and well, not much else. A lot of neat things to take pictures of, but once you do that for a week you get tired of it, know what I mean?”

“Yeah. I know what you mean. I grew up in Brooklyn.”

“Holy shit! Jillian is from Queens.”

“We chatted about that, yeah,” he says before letting out a long yawn. “I can count on one hand how many times I’ve visited Times Square in the past year. Three times. And yeah, like you, once was for an audition and the other two times was when a couple buddies from high school were back in town. Real New Yorkers never visit Times Square. Only tourists.”

“Yup! You know what I mean.” A few moments later Peggy veers off Las Vegas Boulevard and onto a side street leading to a small outdoor parking lot. She sees it’ll cost a whopping $35 to park for two hours, so she comes up with an idea of how to make the price worthwhile. “Tell me, do you have a girlfriend, Kit?”

“Uh, no. I just got out of a, uh, fairly long relationship. But as of right now, no. Why?” Kit is about to get out of the car until Peggy grabs his forearm to stop him.

“I can drop you off right here, or you could invite me up to your place. What do you say?” Peggy flashes Kit a devilish grin, which he instantly knows how to interpret. The young porn actor turns around, sighs, and kisses Peggy on the cheek. She relishes his hot wet lips on her exhausted face.

“I say that’s a lovely idea. I don’t think we’re needed on set tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t have our fun,” he smiles. With that, Peggy speeds through the parking lot to find the first available spot. She practically leaps out of the vehicle, pays a meter with her credit card, and links her strong arm around his. Kit works out regularly, though he’s far from looking like a bodybuilder (by his own admission). As they enter Aria’s lobby, the large crowd of people milling around the casino and restaurants overwhelms the two of them. They aren’t tourists in search of cheap booze and slot machines; they’re two porn performers looking for a quick hookup. Neither of them is dressed like they’re hitting the town, with Peggy wearing a sweatshirt hoodie, jeans, and platform shoes and Kit wearing a fleece jacket and ripped up baggy black pants. There are quite a few folks dressed to the nines, with the occasional middle-aged guy in a Hawaiian shirt strutting around looking for a place to pee. Kit escorts Peggy through the gruesome traffic of people – similar to how she weaved the car through the crowd of vehicles – to the elevators.

“I’m impressed Tony was able to get you a room here. I figured you’d have to settle for a Holiday Inn or some cheap ass motel like that,” Peggy remarks. Kit shakes his head as he hits the “up” button on one of the elevators.

“So did I. I guess that rich dude likes Tony so much he makes sure we have, you know, all the right accommodations,” he says. “Let’s go.” They wait a short moment before the elevator they need to get on empties with people getting off on the ground floor. Peggy is now feeling a bit anxious, probably more so than Kit, although he seems to be breathing a little heavier than he should be. Luckily, they are the only ones who want to go up to floor #47, so they have the entire elevator to themselves.

“I’d fuck you right here in this elevator if I could,” Kit promises.

“Baby, I’d looooooooooooove that! But yeah, that would be the quickest way you’d get kicked out of here. And Tony, or Gordon, or whoever wouldn’t like that. Then again, you might be forced to stay with me! That would be fun…” Kit then leans over and kisses her on the lips with all the energy he could muster. He reaches back to grab Peggy’s thick butt cheeks, savoring their fullness. His ex-girlfriend was as skinny as you could possibly be without requiring hospitalization, so he knows he must appreciate Peggy’s curvy, meaty body for as long as he can. Who knows when he’ll be able to experience a woman quite like her again? In two days, he flies back to NYC to resume his boring life as a bartender at a second-rate Brooklyn strip club. He may not have the opportunity (or reason) to return to Las Vegas for quite some time.

A hop, skip, and a jump later, Peggy and Kit find themselves inside his small one-bed suite. He closes the door carefully behind him, making sure to put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the outer doorknob. He never thought he’d have to utilize it on this trip, but he is glad to be surprised. Once he closes the door, he turns around to see Peggy immediately stripping her clothes off. She paid for two hours of parking, so perhaps she should slow down…

“Want to know something unique about me, baby?” Peggy is now completely naked, which, surprisingly enough, Kit hasn’t seen yet. Before, he saw her wearing a sexy BDSM dominatrix outfit. She looked great in it. However, this is his first time actually seeing her fully naked.

“Dear God in heaven! Will you look at that?” Kit cannot stop looking at the comic book-style bowling balls she has on her chest. He wonders how she can stand up straight with breasts that enormous without straining her back. How does she bench press? Does the bar literally bounce off her boobs? Or does she place the bar higher up? Kit can only ponder these questions. He doubts he’ll ever receive answers to them.

“I may struggle to fit your beautiful dick in my mouth,” she says, rubbing her boobs together like the world-famous erotic cam performer she is. “But I got all the room in my pussy for you. Come here, big boy!”

Peggy leaps into the arms of Kit Styles, a young man she’s wanted to nail the moment she first met him a few days ago. Once she heard from Tony that the rumors about Kit were true, her excitement to find out if this guy is for real doubled. Once she actually saw him in the flesh (and one piece of flesh in particular), her excitement tripled. Now that she has the opportunity to feel his lengthy penetration in the privacy of his suite – without cameras rolling – her excitement is through the roof. After ripping off his clothes, Peggy and Kit make out in front of a wide-open window overlooking the south side of the Strip. They know the window is one-way, but that doesn’t make them feel any less naughty about the fact somebody – however remote the chances are – could be watching them. The exhibitionistic thrill adds to the fevered atmosphere.

“God, you taste amazing!” Kit says between breaks sucking on her clitoris. Now lying in bed, Peggy feels she’s fully ready to take him in after multiple orgasms produced by his oral stimulation. If her throaty screams of pleasure couldn’t be heard through the hotel walls, then nothing can. Peggy grabs a handful of his beautiful hair and twists it playfully. Not usually into “rough stuff,” Kit takes it all in stride. “I’ll be back in a moment. Stay where you are, my dear.”

“I’m not going anywhere, baby. You can believe that!” She rubs a small amount of her vaginal moisture all over her labia until it glistens like rainfall on leaves. Kit goes to his suitcase to retrieve an extra-large condom. He rips the packet open and tosses it into a nearby wastebasket.

“Ooooooooooohhhh boy will that fit?”

“Let’s hope so. I have no desire to become a daddy yet!” Kit teases. He rolls the latex onto his 12-inch cock until it gets almost all of the way on. Peggy peers closely, estimating the condom is about an inch and a half shy of reaching the base of his lovely penis. That should be sufficient to prevent anything unfortunate from happening. Fully sheathed (for the most part), Kit leaps back onto the bed and straddles Peggy’s powerful body. With his left hand, he pinches Peggy’s nipple. With his right hand, he positions the broad head of his penis at her sensitive entrance. Even he has doubts that she’ll be able to fully take him in, though he’s heard rumors that Peggy Cole is the ultimate “Size Queen,” a role she plays in real life and not just on screen.

“Do it. I’m fucking ready.”

“Okay, darling. Here it goes…” Inch by inch, Kit carefully enters Peggy until he’s about three-quarters of the way in. He watches her face studiously to make sure she isn’t in pain or any kind of discomfort. Judging from the big grin she’s flashing him, Kit figures he’s doing just fine. She closes her eyes, relishing the feeling of a handsome-ish young man with a mammoth manhood penetrating her with such considerate finesse. Kit has had several girlfriends over the years, all of them privately confessing (sometimes after they broke up) that they found sex painful with him. This always made him feel bad. It’s not his fault that he has a freakishly large endowment. It’s genetics, right?

“Oh fuck yeah! I looooooooooooooooooove it, baby darling! LOVE IT!”

Full of confidence that he could never hurt her, Kit decides to do something that he has never been able to do before with a woman in the bedroom: Make love to her with reckless abandon, no fear, and no reason to hold back. It’s truly liberating, yet another reason why Peggy Cole is one hell of an extraordinary human being. Hopefully for both of them – but mostly for Kit’s sake – this could be the beginning of something special. She may be a solid decade or so older than him (he doesn’t know her actual age), but that shouldn’t matter, should it?

Kit decides it’s now or never. The time to think is later. Still feeling out whether or not she can handle his tremendous length and girth, Peggy grabs him by the cheeks and pulls him closer to kiss him. No hint of flirting or foreplay. That time has passed. Now, it’s all on him to perform his duties.

“Hold on, darling. It’s going to be one hell of a wild fucking ride.”

“Now you’re speaking my language, big boy. Ride me, cowboy!”

With that verbal cue, Kit and Peggy aggressively make love with all the energy they could summon after a long day on set. The bed squeaks in rhythm with every thrust and heave Kit throws at Peggy. It’s been at least two months since Kit last had sex, so he’s as hungry as he could possibly be. He pushes in and out of Peggy with so much force it startles him, forcing his mind to break concentration and wonder if he’s hurting her. Miss Cole’s passionate screams of delight tell a definitive story.

“YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSS!!! FUCK MEEEEEEEEEEE! FUCK MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! FUCK MEEEEEEEEEEEE BABYYYYYYYYYY!!!”

A few minutes later, Kit feels the tightness build up in his body. Peggy cannot remember the last time a man has fucked her like this. Once this is over, she decides she’ll ask if he’d like to be added to her list of “lovers.” As far as she’s concerned, Mr. Styles has earned a spot permanently in her proverbial “black book” if he so wishes. When they look into each other’s eyes, they know it’s only a matter of seconds until both of them experience the sweet, sweet release that their tired souls need. First, Kit climaxes. One final thrust later, Peggy joins him. An inaudible gasp escapes from her throat as she comes. Kit looks up above him, seeing a painting of a stallion running through a grassy meadow. The poetic irony of a majestic male horse displayed right above their bed is not lost on him.

“Motherfucker…that’s what I needed, babe,” Kit, out of breath and sweating bullets, whispers in Peggy’s ear as she comes to her senses. He remains on top of her, not wanting this magical moment to end. As drained of energy as he is, he manages to peck her on the cheek, coaxing her to open her eyes so they can look at each other.

“Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck that was amazing. Loved every moment of it,” she says back. If the grin on her face were any wider, it might remain that way permanently.

As Kit withdraws his penis from her, he is horrified when he sees an unstoppable pool of milky white fluid drain out of her vagina. It leaks onto the bedsheets, several drops splashing across her powerful thighs.

“Oh fuck! God damnit! The condom broke. Holy shit, this is a fucking nightmare. I’m so sorry, it looked fine when I put it on, honestly!” Before he could say another word, Peggy puts a finger onto his lips, a clear message to him to stop talking and calm down. When he looks into her eyes, all he sees is a calm, relaxed woman smiling like she doesn’t have a care in the world. Her serene attitude tells him he has nothing to fret about. The long wet kiss she plants on his cheek solidifies this conclusion.

“Don’t worry, baby. Don’t worry at all. You’re fine. Nothing broke. Despite everything, we’re going to be alright,” she says. Peggy looks down at the mess developing in front of her. She giggles. “Looks like I wet the bed!”

“What…what do you mean you wet the bed? Isn’t that, you know, me?” Kit inspects the condom still sheathed around his flaccid penis for any signs of tearing. So far, he cannot find any evidence that the prophylactic failed in any way. As a larger man, Kit is constantly paranoid that the protection he’s using will rip during sex. Peggy’s enthusiastic enjoyment of their coupling certainly alleviated some of those fears, though it only takes a situation like this to bring them all racing back.

“Congratulations, Mr. Styles. But you’re the first man to ever make me squirt during sex,” she declares. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure you’re the first. God, I made such a mess. You better call room service to bring you a clean set of sheets. Oh well. I’m sure they’re used to this sort of thing.”

“Wait, uh, what? Huh? You just, um, squirted?” Kit is keenly aware of the concept of female ejaculation, though he is clueless about the physiological science behind it. He’s seen it done in porn, but never in-person. So this is a first for him as well. “Wow! That’s really fucking hot. Dang, I had no idea you could do that. Fuck.”

Peggy sits up in bed, trying to avoid the wet spots as much as she can. “I’m famous for it, which obviously you didn’t know. That’s why you’re so surprised. Yeah, I can squirt with the best of them. You can say I’m the best in the world to ever do it. That’s what I believe. The only way I can squirt is if I use a really huge dildo and fuck myself as hard as I can. Long, even strokes. I need a lot of hardness inside my pussy. Most guys don’t have the machinery or the energy to get it done. But you, my lovely child, passed with flying colors.” She ruffles his hair like a schoolyard bully picking on a kid during yearbook picture day. “Thank you, baby. I loved it. Same time tomorrow?”

Several minutes later, Peggy dries herself off with a towel and gets dressed while Kit retreats to the bathroom. When he unrolls the condom and inspects it carefully, he is pleasantly surprised to see that it did not break, just as she predicted. After washing himself, peeing, and wiping a few lipstick stains from his face, Kit emerges from the bathroom to see Peggy fully dressed and answering a few texts.

“My boyfriend is wondering where I am. What should I tell him? The truth?” Peggy asks Kit, who quickly dresses so he can escort her out and go down to the ground floor to get something to eat. Her hypothetical question makes him squirm a bit.

“You have a boyfriend? Damn! Ha, yeah you probably should just tell him that filming took longer than expected. I think he’d be a little pissed off if he knew that you were fucking the handsome young stud you just met on set.”

“Nah, he wouldn’t care. I do this sort of thing all the time. So does he. And our girlfriend, too. We do whatever we want, just as long as nobody gets hurt.”

“Hold on!” he says with a sharp tone of shock. “You have a boyfriend…and a girlfriend?”

“Oh yeah! We’re polyamorous. Hell, I have right now fourteen different lovers. Do you want to be added to the list?” Peggy approaches Kit and almost kisses him but refrains when she notices he wiped off the lipstick from his face. She just reapplied some lip gloss and wouldn’t want to make him wash his face again.

“Shit, that’s something else. Wow! Fourteen lovers? Damn. I can barely handle one at a time,” Kit says, checking his phone for messages. He sees none that needs an immediate reply. “Well, that sounds like fun. Yeah! So you live with a boyfriend and a girlfriend. That’s…that’s awesome. Sort of weird, but awesome. Sorry, this is very, like, strange to me. I’m not judging or anything, you know? Just…yeah. Weird.” He laughs to ease the tension. Or more specifically, to ease his own tension.

“It’s okay, baby. Not everyone approves of how I live my life, so I’ve heard far worse. We’re happy, the three of us. You should meet them sometime. I think you’d like us.”

“I’d like that. Yeah. Sometime.”

Well within her two-hour limit, Peggy and Kit return to the parking lot. They exchange phone numbers, agree to meet again tomorrow evening for more sexy fun, and go their separate ways. On her way home, Peggy is pleasantly surprised to see that traffic has died down considerably. She listens to Whitney Houston in the car, humming along while replaying her time with Kit in her head. How can she be so lucky? Tomorrow, she decides, is the perfect time to attempt to lure Mr. Styles away from NYC and move permanently to Vegas. The porn scene is thriving down here, with plenty of side jobs available in the restaurant/hotel business, entertainment, and rideshare industries. Besides, she must be able to experience sex like that again. A Size Queen must get her fill (literally and figuratively), she believes, and Kit Styles is definitely the man equipped for the job. Twenty-ish minutes later Peggy parks her sedan on the street after seeing that George and Teresa have parked their cars in the driveway. After a short walk up a flight of stairs, when she opens the front door she sees a somewhat surprising but not shocking thing happening inside the living room: George, Teresa, and Gabriella (a trans woman and part-time stripper who regularly comes over for three or four-way orgies) on the floor – with blankets spread out everywhere – entangled in each other’s bodies. Usually, Peggy is kept in the loop if one of these erotic meetups is happening. She supposes being busy on set all day is a good reason why they didn’t bother to tell her in advance.

“Damn! That looks like fun. Mind if I join in?”

As of this moment, Gabrielle is penetrating Teresa’s anal cavity with her penis while Teresa is sucking on George’s dick. George appears to be fondling Gabriella’s ass and (it’s hard for Peggy to tell from this angle) Teresa appears to be wearing a strap-on. 99.999% of the world’s population would be scandalized if they saw this as they walked in through the front door after a long day at the office. But Peggy isn’t typical of most people. While sex is certainly on their mind right now, the only thing Peggy needs is sustenance. She really needs something to eat or else she fears she might pass out right here in front of everyone.

“Hi baby! Sorry for getting the party started without you,” Gabriella says. Peggy kisses her on the forehead, despite still being deeply inside Teresa’s anus.

“Hi darling! It’s great to see your pretty face again.”

“How was the shoot today?” George asks.

“Great! We got most of it done today, but chances are I’ll be needed again on set tomorrow afternoon, maybe early evening,” she lies to the group. George and Teresa aren’t normally prone to get jealous if Peggy decides to randomly hook-up with someone, but she feels like now is not the time to reveal her budding friendship with Kit Styles and his infamous endowment. There is a time and a place for that later. “Go ahead and finish what you’re doing. I’m starving. I’ll be in the kitchen.”

Peggy dashes to the kitchen to get her hands on a slice of cold pizza still sitting in the refrigerator. She was afraid someone would eat it by now, so she lucks out when she sees it still sitting there, all alone in plastic wrap. As she wolfs it down and flips through a random fashion magazine, she hears loud moaning and cries of orgasm echoing throughout the house, a two-bedroom apartment that looks like something out of a 1950’s sitcom. There’s even a white picket fence surrounding the property!

The orgy going on in the living room, however, would have been a bit too extreme for television of that era.

Before she returns to the refrigerator to fetch a LaCroix, Teresa sneaks up behind her, still wearing the strap-on dildo. She grabs Peggy’s boobs, squeezes them tightly, and turns Peggy’s head around so she could kiss her. No one says a word because no words need to be said. Still damp from her recent encounter with Kit, Peggy unzips her jeans and leans over the kitchen counter so Teresa could do her thing. And out of nowhere, just like that, Teresa pulls down Peggy’s underwear to her knees and enters her from behind with the strap-on. It’s already been properly lubed up from being used just now for the orgy. Peggy has no idea what George and Gabriella are up to now. Probably making out? Going outside to smoke pot? Watching TV? Peggy’s mind stops wandering as Teresa slides the dildo in and out of her, employing even strokes that quickly bring Peggy on the brink.

“OOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHH FUUUUUUUUUUUCK!” Peggy screams as the tip of the dildo hits her g-spot in the exact right place.

For the second time in less than an hour, Peggy releases a flood of liquid that splashes all over the kitchen tile. Teresa lessens the intensity of her pumps as Peggy’s vaginal walls pound rhythmically. It’s highly unusual for her to squirt like this without a large dildo, so she figures it’s the way that Kit “warmed her up” earlier that explains why. As her orgasm subsides, Teresa withdraws from her, grinning at how much ejaculate she is going to have to clean up. She promptly rips a few sheets of paper towels and gets on her knees to wipe it up. Peggy, remarkably, hasn’t collapsed on the floor. Still leaning over the countertop, only one single thought pops into her mind as the erotic memories of the last ten hours race through her brain:

I love my life.

***

The cold skies, dark grey clouds, and desolate sprinkles of rainwater act as a profound reminder that London isn’t nearly as romantic of a city as Paris, Venice, or Barcelona. As Melanie Wright looks out the window from the top floor of her rented flat, she hears the bathroom door open. She turns around to see Theodore “Teddy” Livingstone, one of her most loyal clients, wearing a leopard-pattern male thong.

“What do you think?” Thomas asks earnestly. Melanie, always polite and considerate of other people’s feelings, is fortunate that she doesn’t have to lie in this situation. Huh. He genuinely looks kind of sexy, she decides.

“Honestly? That’s hot. A little goofy, but actually hot. I’m serious!” Melanie, wearing nothing but a lacy white thong and black heels, goes up to him and tickles his scrotum. He’s already hard – in fact, he’s been hard since the moment he walked through the door more than two hours ago – and appreciative of her kind words (even though he suspects she’s lying through her teeth). What matters is having fun, he thinks, not impressing anybody.

Melanie plans to spend two weeks in Jolly Old England for a variety of reasons: a couple of modeling photoshoots, seeing friends, meeting a handful of muscle worship session clients, sightseeing, and scoping out a few places to possibly rent should she decide to live here full-time. The flat she’s staying at right now is one that belongs to three other friends of hers – all professional female bodybuilders like herself. The four of them, all spread out across the globe, split the monthly rent payments. Fully furnished and ideally situated in the heart of downtown London (and close to a major tube station), it’s the perfect place to host session clients, house parties, and set up shop as a home base if one is staying in the U.K. for a long time. Melanie arrived four days ago and has enjoyed a nearly nonstop schedule since the jet lag wore off.

Today, she’s spending almost the entire day with Mr. Livingstone. Teddy, as he prefers her to call him, is a wealthy CEO of an international shipping corporation, philanthropist, adventurer, playboy, and, of course, lover of muscular women. That part of his life is kept secret. Like Dylan Tanaka, another loyal client Melanie has seen at various times throughout the years, Teddy has more money than he could possibly know how to prudently spend. She doesn’t know his exact estimated net worth, though several appearances in Time magazine and Forbes should indicate that he’s not exactly hurting for money.

Teddy is a big enthusiast of playing “dress up” during their time together. He’s collected a series of costumes, outfits, and sexy male underwear over the years that he likes to show off to her. She also brings along in her massive suitcase a few fun pieces to wear as well. Even though she’s not wearing anything fancy right now (they still have the rest of the evening together since he paid a pretty penny for the privilege to spend the whole day with her), she’ll get there eventually.

“Thank you. I appreciate it,” Teddy says, his face turning beet red with embarrassment. “What have you brought with you on this trip? A Wonder Woman costume? An Amazonian princess? An icy cold winter queen?”

“After dinner, I’ll show you everything I miraculously managed to fit in my luggage,” Melanie smiles, pointing to her suitcase sitting in the far corner of the room. “For now, would you like to take my measurements?” She whips out a sewing measuring tape from her handbag. Teddy, almost to a fault, treats her more like a valuable piece of art than a living, breathing human being. He adores her. He’s not clingy – she’s had a few clients that she’s had to cut off because they wouldn’t stop texting, calling, or emailing her – but he has his moments. In his own words, his “thirst for muscular women is unquenchable.” Is this a creepy thing to say? Well, yes. But he’s a harmless man (with deep pockets), so it’s fine.

“Yes! Let’s do it.” Teddy gleefully takes the measuring tape, unwinds it, and sits down on the bed. Melanie follows suit. “I see you’re in great shape, as always. The Moscow International is next month, so I’m assuming you’re ramping up for that?” Miss Wright extends her right arm – her dominant arm – and flexes her enormous bicep. She made sure to do a quick workout at a nearby gym right before Teddy arrived so she’d be properly pumped up. He wraps the measuring tape around her mountain of muscle to see how much progress she’s made.

“Damn right I’m doing the Moscow International next month. I intend to win it this time, unlike last year when I was screwed over by the Swedish judge,” she complains. Melanie isn’t one to hold grudges, and she’s had her fair share of heartbreaking losses during her professional life, but she cannot fathom why the Swedish judge gave her low marks for her hamstrings. It’s arguably the best part of her legs! His argument was that they were too big and not proportional with her calves and quads. In a world where symmetry matters, apparently she failed in that department. Still, she’ll never let that go for as long as she lives.

“Wow! Eighteen beautiful inches. Let’s see your left arm. Do you think it’ll be less?”

“Yeah, slightly less. But not by much.” Teddy wraps the measuring tape around her left bicep.

“Seventeen and a half inches, so you’re right. Still, mighty impressive, Melanie dear. Quite impressive. I could never achieve that in a million years.” Melanie looks down at Teddy’s crotch, stifling her need to giggle at seeing his erection practically bursting out of his leopard thong. “Let’s move on to your legs…”

Like an archeologist studying precious dinosaur bones, Teddy measures Melanie’s muscles with exact scientific mathematical precision. It always amuses Melanie to watch him study her body with academic-like studiousness. When he gets to her thirty-inch thighs, that number alone – not twenty-eight, not twenty-nine, not twenty-nine and a half – makes him go crazy. He audibly moans when the end of the measuring tape lines up with the big 3-0. Melanie once again tries not to excessively smile at his joyful exuberance. She looks up at the clock and sees it’s 5:38. Their dinner reservation at some steak restaurant is at 7:00, so they need to wrap up their pre-dinner activities soon so they could have enough time to wash up, get dressed, and hail an Uber.

“THIRTY INCHES!” Teddy exclaims in a voice loud enough to make the walls shake. Melanie flinches at the sound of his bellowing voice.

“You better believe it. Kiss them. NOW!”

“Right away ma’am.” He obediently gets on his knees and trails several kisses up her left leg, starting at her foot and ending at the top of her thigh. She’s surprised the fabric of his thong hasn’t torn yet. When she bounces her quads up and down, Teddy loses his mind.

“Oh…my…fucking…GOD!” Teddy stands up, pulls his thong down to his knees, and kicks them away. His raging erection is finally free at last. He positions himself right above her. Melanie can guess what he’s about to do next. Right on cue, Teddy finds a small bottle of baby oil, opens it, and applies a small amount on the palm of his hand. Then, he takes his penis in his hand and starts to furiously jerk it. Teddy Livingstone is normally a level-headed, rational, and even keel sort of man. But when he’s in the presence of a world-class female bodybuilder with eighteen-inch biceps and thirty-inch quads, he loses all control of himself. His fetishistic love of female muscle takes over his faculties. Almost as if he’s in a supernatural-like trance, Teddy continues to masturbate as Melanie bounces her quads right under him. She decides a little verbal encouragement could go a long way to speed things along.

“Do it. Do it. DO IT! Come all over me. Come all over my quads. NOW, DAMNIT!”

That’s all the hype he needs, apparently. A few seconds later Melanie feels several hot squirts of semen drip onto her leg. One drop rolls down her calf. She hopes it doesn’t stain the carpet. Teddy groans loudly. Melanie still talks dirty to him, well after his pulses subside.

“Your seed may make my muscles grow even more,” she suggests, tongue-in-cheek. This breaks Teddy from his “spell,” returning his mind back to normal. “Maybe after dinner it’ll be thirty-one or thirty-two inches!”

Teddy laughs. “That would be amazing. Thanks, darling. I needed that. That was amazing. God, your legs are incredible. Brilliant. You’re unbelievably beautiful. Sooooooooo much muscle everywhere.” One final kiss, and Teddy and Melanie take turns cleaning themselves up in the bathroom. Less than thirty minutes later, both of them are downstairs in the lobby. Teddy has just hailed an Uber to take them to dinner but neither of them wants to wait outside in the freezing cold rain.

They are dressed like they’re ready to paint the town red, so to speak. Teddy is wearing a traditional charcoal black tuxedo and a bowler’s hat. Melanie has on a classy velvet green Vera Wang dress that generously shows off her considerable body mass. It’ll be impossible for strangers to resist the urge to stop and stare at her arms. While Teddy chooses to keep his fetish for muscular women a secret, he’s not shy about taking beautiful female bodybuilders out on dates in public. He’s taken Melanie before to the theatre, opera, an outdoor Mozart concert, and the finest restaurants in the U.K. He’s famous within business circles, but not the general public. He doubts any of his closest friends or family will ever find out his secret second life that he enjoys privately with some of the finest muscular women on the planet. And if they do discover this part of his life, so what? He’s filthy rich and living his best life possible. Awkwardness would be a small price to pay. That’s not worth denying one’s self the finer things in life.

“It’s here. Shall we?” Teddy puts his phone back in his jacket pocket. He leans over to kiss Melanie on the cheek. The front desk clerk, a young man in this late 20s, tries his hardest not to stare at the mysterious woman with outrageously huge muscles. He’s seen her before, but she’s usually wearing a thick fur coat to cover up her eye-popping physique. No offense to her, but Melanie’s face isn’t pretty enough to be memorable, though her muscles are definitely hard to forget. The clerk whistles after Melanie and Teddy leave the building.

“Yes, let’s go eat. I’m famished,” she replies back. Walking into the unforgiving London rainstorm hand-in-hand, both Teddy and Melanie look forward to a delicious dinner, followed by whatever erotic shenanigans will transpire in the bedroom afterward.

All the King’s Queens – Chapter 8: Party Crashers

Stephen Callahan estimates his crew should arrive at Dylan Tanaka’s property at a quarter to 11 o’clock. That should give him plenty of time to coordinate the shutting off of Dylan’s security systems. Bill Marks, a man Stephen has known for several years from their days working together at a Silicon Valley startup that eventually folded, is currently the Regional Manager of the West Coast office of McDonald & Pierce Security Systems, a private home security company that specifically caters to the rich and famous. MPSS’s clients span professional athletes to Hollywood celebrities, corporate CEOs, government officials, lobbyists, media personalities, investors, and anyone with enough money (and a healthy dose of paranoia) to pay for such expensive services. Bill, who did some contract work for Perseus Analytics back in the day, is also not a fan of Dylan Tanaka. He feels strongly that Stephen was the convenient scapegoat who served the role as the sacrificial lamb so PA’s higher-ups could avoid prison time.

Bill, knowing his actions could cost him both his job and prison time for himself, enthusiastically agreed to join in on the scheme when Stephen first approached him about it. His role is fairly simple but no less crucial: His job is to temporarily create a systems error between midnight and 3:00 a.m. on Sunday, June 30. MPSS regularly goes through a region-wide system reboot/update on the final day of every month for a few hours, usually beginning at midnight. This is completely routine and happens as scheduled every single month. Occasionally, this system reboot will cause a small handful of homes to lose the connection between their security system and the main servers at the MPSS regional headquarters. It’s typical for anywhere between 5-10 homes on the West Coast (Washington, Idaho, Oregon, California, and Utah) to temporarily experience this technical glitch for no more than an hour or two. MPSS tries to minimize this bug, but technology isn’t always a perfect ally. Since they have more than 170,000 clients in these five U.S. states, that number isn’t trivial but is small enough that if it were to happen, it wouldn’t be considered unusual.

Stephen proposed to Bill the simple scheme of intentionally cutting off the connection between Dylan Tanaka’s house during those critical three hours. As far as he’s concerned, his motion detectors, security cameras, door locks, and direct lines to emergency services will still operate – but any data captured from those systems will not feed back to HQ (located in Redwood City, CA, where Bill lives and works). Which basically means Dylan’s security systems will be useless during that window of time. He won’t receive any error messages on his end, but that won’t matter because for three hours the Internet connection between his home and Redwood City HQ will be cut off. All of this, while “tragic,” is perfectly normal. Thankfully for MPSS (whose main corporate headquarters is in Austin, TX) this secret technical glitch hasn’t come back to haunt them – yet. It’s only a matter of time, Stephen and Bill have decided, when a regularly scheduled systems reboot would result in a catastrophic event where a rich man whose house is being broken into isn’t reported to the local police. And, no footage of the crime is ever recorded onto MPSS’s cloud servers.

During their initial planning discussion, Bill estimates this would cost the company dearly in a lawsuit brought upon by Mr. Tanaka, as well as bad publicity. But since Mr. Tanaka has become a social pariah after being dubbed a “war profiteer” by a Congressional defense committee, he will most likely receive very little public support. MPSS’s stockholders and board members will temporarily freak out, but the market has a funny way of returning back to normal after the news cycle moves on to something new. You’re only one controversial Donald Trump tweet away from your sins being forgotten by the media. They are easily distracted. And the current U.S. president has a knack for distracting people from what’s really going on around the country.

Still, such a plan comes with immense risk. After lengthy brainstorming, Stephen Callahan and Bill Marks decided that every client in the greater Seattle area should experience the same “technical glitch” as Dylan in order to minimize any suspicion that this was an inside job. That would victimize only 378 homes – including a few business buildings – a fairly small number compared to MPSS’s total number of clients, but large enough to make it look like Dylan Tanaka’s home wasn’t specifically targeted. This “outage” could also be shorter or longer for some people. Some people may only experience a glitch lasting 20 seconds. Or 10 minutes. Or 30 minutes. Or three hours. Dylan’s home should experience some of the longer outages, of course, which would give Stephen’s team plenty of time to break in, steal whatever they need to steal, and get out without giving Dylan or any of his nosy neighbors a chance to call the cops.

In return for this invaluable service, Stephen promised he’d pay Bill and two unnamed mid-level employees at MPSS (it would be nearly impossible for Bill to singlehandedly execute a plot of his magnitude and technical difficulty) $175,000 each upfront and at least $1.5 million afterward. They could get more if the information Stephen steals ends up being as valuable on the black market as he suspects it is. All in all, Stephen will have to pay at least $5,025,000 to ascertain Dylan’s hidden documents. However, he knows that’s small potatoes compared to their estimated worth: At least $40 billion when you consider the fortune you’d make producing state-of-the-art artificial intelligence programs for foreign governments, militaries, corporations, NGOs, and any party who desires to weaponize data to their advantage.

None of the people involved in this plot seem morally concerned about the potential blowback this operation could create. Oh well. Life goes on.

Until it doesn’t.

“Dude, this drive is long and boring as hell. There’s nothing to see. It’s just darkness.” Thomas resists the urge to yawn, which could communicate tiredness (which he is at the moment) and the possibility that his mind wouldn’t be sufficiently sharp enough to complete the mission. Despite the late hour, Stephen doubts anyone on his team will actually fall asleep on the job. The stakes are way too high.

“You should try driving this road during the day. It’s no better. But we’re not here to be tourists.” Stephen looks at his trusty safecracker for any sign that he’s considering backing out. Unlike most gigs he’s worked on, the loot they’re stealing is potentially worth billions of dollars. This is a scale Thomas has never experienced before. He’s accustomed to stealing boring shit like passports, birth certificates, legally-binding contracts, wills, jewelry, expensive watches, or the occasional key to a safety deposit box. He has never been asked to actually go to the bank and retrieve whatever is in that box, just to steal the key to get in. So not even the jobs where really valuable stuff is involved is directly stolen by him. However, this evening is a whole new ballgame, a whole different can of worms.

“Relax, we’re going to be okay. We’ll be there before you know it. Just pretend like you just chugged seven Red Bulls. That’ll do the trick.”

“Hm,” Thomas reacts with less enthusiasm than a little kid eating a plate full of brussels sprouts. Usually, Thomas does jobs where his only stake in the game is the payment for doing it successfully. It’s never personal, just business. This, however, is a slightly different matter. He doesn’t necessarily consider Stephen a friend, so failure tonight wouldn’t devastate him too much emotionally (unless they get caught by the police, which goes without saying). That doesn’t mean he isn’t rooting for Stephen to win. Thomas has no qualms about stealing money or assets from a super-rich billionaire. It’s not like Dylan Tanaka will miss it. After all, he’s the one who’s chosen to sit on these documents for all these years. He could have easily chosen to sell them to a third-party bidder at a ridiculously high price. That isn’t something he’s done – yet. So if a man like Stephen Callahan, who deserves his fair shake after the clown show that was the congressional investigation and hearings, can’t be faulted too much for taking something that Mr. Tanaka refuses to give away. Morality is a funny thing, Thomas often thinks. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Meanwhile, inside the SUV Xander carefully removes a small flask out of his coat pocket and takes a small swig. He knows he’s supposed to remain “clean and sober” until the job is done, but feelings of nervousness cannot easily be shaken off. He’s only human. The small amount of bourbon he drinks will calm his nerves, loosen him up, and make him more at ease once they get to the rich guy’s mansion. What’s the harm in that?

“How are we all feeling?” Roddy asks his passengers. His gaze is focused on the road.

“Meh. Let’s just get it over with. It’s been a while since I’ve been on a job,” Cortez says. “I feel out of shape, know what I mean? This shit better not take all night, that’s all I’m asking.” Xander, sitting in the back seat, takes a second swig of bourbon before sharing his answer with the group. Before speaking, he puts the flask back inside his coat pocket, thankful that nobody seemed to have noticed it.

“I’m good. Kind of excited. I’m like you, Cortez. Haven’t been on a job in a long time. Damn. Probably my second one this year. Shit.” Xander shifts around in his seat, genuinely surprised at his lack of activity this year.

“That’s it? You worked with Tony Morocco and his boys, right? They snuck all those trucks full of cocaine across the Mexican border right around Valentine’s Day. The DEA had no fucking idea it happened. They probably still don’t. As far as the Border Patrol is concerned, those trucks had corn maize in it,” Roddy says. Tony Morocco is an infamous drug smuggler who is intimately connected with many of the big Mexican and Central American cartels. He’s born and raised in the United States, has lots of personal (and family) connections south of the border, and knows the right federal officials and law enforcement personnel to pay off in order to keep the flow of narcotics onto American streets going smoothly. Almost every hired goon on the West Coast has worked for him before, either directly or indirectly. Roddy, to his credit, knows almost every major player in the game. His knowledge of everyone’s sordid history should come as no surprise. He didn’t assemble this team himself – it was Thomas who gathered all the players on Stephen’s behalf – but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know who he’s riding with.

“To be fair, they did have some corn maize in them,” Cortez chuckles. “But not all those boxes, that’s for damn sure.”

“Tony’s a big bad cat. Never met the dude, but I’ve worked with his boys before. But that was a while ago.” Xander hopes this will end the conversation. He won’t ever admit it, but Xander once ratted out one of Tony’s homeboys to the FBI because he tried to sleep with his then-girlfriend. The feds know who Xander is, even though they won’t officially bring him in on criminal charges. He’s too low-level for that, plus he can be helpful in conducting internal “house cleaning” of gangsters who stray too far from the “code.” Therefore, Xander isn’t technically speaking an FBI informant, though he has been an informant before. This isn’t a rare occurrence. Lots of dudes low on the totem pole have talked to the police, FBI, Border Patrol, DEA – even the CIA – at some point. They just don’t rat out the “big fish” swimming in the pond. They only talk to either save their own hides or eliminate idiots on their own side who are about to get caught or killed anyway. Tony’s friend, in addition to trying to fuck Xander’s girl, had a tendency to get sloppy with his hit jobs. One unfortunate mistake led to a pregnant woman getting killed by a car bomb when the intended target was a female judge who happened to share the same name as her. The judge, who at the time was presiding over a case involving submachine guns smuggled across the border by one of the cartels, doesn’t get a scratch on her head (she was in another part of Ciudad Juárez at the time) while the pregnant woman gets killed along with three other innocent bystanders. This mistake was forgiven at the time, but it certainly put him on the “expendable” list by the powers-that-be inside the cartels. His death was inevitable. Xander ratting him out made sure that instead of him getting killed by a cartel assassin, he’d hang himself inside his holding cell with bedsheets. Which he did.

“I see. Yeah, he’s a bad motherfucker. Never met him either,” Roddy adds.

“I have,” Cortez chimes in. Both passengers express their pleasant surprise. “Once. About a year ago. I was at his daughter’s birthday party. Can’t tell you where, but it was by the beach. Nice ass place. Goddamn, he’s a rich motherfucker, just like this asshole we’re about to meet right now. I’m telling you, he has about eight different wives, or girlfriends, or whatever. I don’t know who those bitches were. But hot damn! He gets more pussy in a day than we do all year. Fuck man.”

“Wow. I’ve heard stories about him, bro. But you actually met him?” Roddy asks. He genuinely wants to know.

“Yeah, but we’re not friends or nothing. I just met him once, know what I mean?” Cortez squirms in his seat a bit, knowing he probably just said too much. Tony Morocco is infamous for having a lot of mistresses at any given time. However, that doesn’t mean he likes his employees talking about it openly. He’s a man with typical male desires, but he’s also (technically speaking) a family man with a wife and four kids. He’s also a violent gangster who’s responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people over the years, a fact that doesn’t obscure the truth that he’s also a philanderer. Nobody’s perfect. “So I don’t know a whole lot about him other than the rumors I’ve heard. We’ve all heard rumors about him, right?”

“Right.” Xander quietly coughs to himself, wanting to hide the one final swig of bourbon he just swallowed. This is it for now, he thinks to himself. “Lots of rumors of a lot of people, man. Fuck, it’s hard to know what’s true and what’s not, you dig? Hell, motherfuckers out there are probably saying shit about us, you know?”

“For real. Our boss on this job, Callahan, is new to the game. Nobody knows shit about him, except he spent years in the Big House with Tommy,” Roddy says. “I don’t know him, but he seems like he knows what he’s doing. It makes me feel better about our chances.”

“Oh yeah, for sure.” Xander adds.

Cortez checks his firearm to make sure the safety is still on. It is. “This shit should be easy. I’ve had to break into far worse situations. Remember that boathouse, bro?”

“Oh yeah, that shit was wild,” Roddy remembers. Five years ago, Roddy and Cortez first met doing a hit job on some hotshot lawyer who represented the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC was investigating a Ponzi scheme set up by a former Wall Street executive. They and two other guys had to locate this man’s boathouse in the middle of a well-guarded Florida Keys dock, put two bullets into the back of his skull, and get away before his private security guards showed up. The hit was successful and the SEC eventually eased off on the investigation. But Roddy and Cortez had to learn how to scuba dive (!) in order to sneak onto the dude’s boat unnoticed. It was cold, windy, rainy, and dark outside. Thankfully, all four hitmen were paid handsomely for their work. “We don’t have to go swimming this time around, thank God. If our insider at the security company works, we don’t even have to worry about how long it takes. Just get in, steal whatever the fuck we’re stealing, and get out of there in time for breakfast. Shouldn’t be too bad.”

It was at this exact moment that all three men realize that they had broken the one unbreakable rule of the business: they said it would be “easy.” You never do that. Ever. It’s considered bad luck, a sure-fire jinx that would (nearly) guarantee things won’t be as easy as they think it will be. With that, the three men nod their heads quietly, refocus their minds on the mission at hand, and sit silently in the SUV as they approach their ultimate destination.

***

“He’s so different in real life, you know? He’s not what you think he is. For real. That’s true of a lot of guys in the business.”

Peggy Cole has garnered an attentive audience eager to learn about the dirty little secrets of the porn industry. Sitting on Henry’s lap on a comfortable eggshell white L-shaped couch, Peggy has spent the last twenty minutes sipping whiskey, passing a joint around the group, and recalling her favorite moments working as a pornographic actress. Dylan and Melanie are cuddling on the carpet while Monique is sitting by herself at Peggy’s feet. At the moment they are hearing Peggy dish about Kit Styles, a b-level porn actor who is considered a “rising star” among those who pay attention to this sort of thing. “He’s shy and legit an introvert. Seriously. He gets really awkward around girls like me, and, well, people in general, I guess. But he’s a real sweetheart,” Peggy says.

“He reads off a script when he’s making his videos, so that’s not surprising. I can’t imagine someone being that smooth with the ladies all the time,” Dylan says, inhaling a bit of marijuana smoke. Melanie playfully pinches his shoulder. It’s been at least six months since he last smoked weed. It was New Year’s Eve 2018. He was hanging out with a few friends who were visiting from Europe. Thankfully for Dylan, he’s not as much of a pariah overseas as he is domestically. It’s not that Europeans aren’t aware of Dylan’s legal troubles, it’s more that they can’t bring themselves to hate an American suspected of being a war criminal more than a European suspected of being a war criminal. Dylan considered moving to either France or the U.K. at one point. He doubts he’ll ever leave the United States. “Although porn scripts aren’t exactly that well written in the first place, if we’re just being honest for a moment.”

The group laughs. Peggy, not surprisingly, isn’t too offended by everyone poking fun at her chosen profession. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’re not known for our Oscar-worthy writing. Who gives a shit? All people want to see are boobs, pussy, dicks, and flesh banging against flesh. What conversation they have before isn’t on anybody’s mind when they’re trying to jack off in the privacy of their own homes,” Peggy argues. Melanie reaches over to caress Dylan’s limp penis, attempting to bring it back to life. Dylan, to his credit, would rather hang out with his friends, smoke pot, drink whiskey, and talk about whatever is on their minds instead of going at it with Melanie again. He loves sex, but he loves being in the company of friends even more. He gets enough sex throughout the year (normally) but not nearly enough quality time hanging out with friendly company.

“I’ve seen a few of his videos,” Monique confesses, a look of embarrassment forming across her face. “He’s not my type, but DAMN he’s big AS FUCK down there!”

“He sure is, baby.” Peggy tickles Henry’s scrotum, making him squirm with her on his lap. “But here’s the thing. He’s got a big dick, but he ain’t a big dick, if that makes any sense. Sort of like you, Henry baby. Big down there, but that don’t mean he’s a jerk or nothing. He’s sweet and humble. He treats everyone with respect.” Henry rolls his eyes, not wanting the sort of attention Peggy is giving him. Yes, he’s aware of what he has between his legs. But he’s not proud of it (or ashamed of it). To him, it’s ridiculous to be proud of something that you’re born with. It’s not like he climbed Mt. Everest or graduated from MIT or was elected President of the United States. He has a large penis. So what? Peggy seems to like it (quite vocally, in fact). That must count for something. But not much, Henry thinks.

“I’d imagine there are a lot of egos going on in your business, just like mine. Or rather, the business I used to be in,” Dylan adds. “I can’t say I’ve ever heard of Kit Styles before, but he sounds like quite the character. When will your podcast launch?”

“Oh, we don’t know yet. This fall? Maybe during the winter? Or we could launch it next year. Or never. We don’t really have a plan yet. He’s still down in L.A. trying to break into Hollywood. Legitimate filmmaking,” Peggy says. “He wants to be an actor. Like, a real actor. He says he wants to eventually stop doing porn. I hope for the best, but don’t hold your breath. He’s cute and all, but once you do porn a few times that reputation sticks with you. Plus, all he can do is memorize and say whatever shitty lines he’s given. That’s it. He ain’t cut out for Shakespeare, that’s for damn sure.”

Everyone laughs. Peggy, embarrassed that she just threw her good friend under the bus, attempts to steer the conversation away from Kit’s lack of acting abilities. “But you can go to classes for shit like that. L.A. has a shit ton of acting coaches. I’ve taken lessons, he tells me. We’ll see if it works. I hope it does for him, I truly do.”

“I’m sure he’ll figure out a path that works best for him,” Melanie says. “We all have to give ourselves permission to step outside of our comfort zone and leap into the great unknown. If we fail, then we fail. So be it. It happens. Failure happens. It’s inevitable. What really matters is how we bounce back, if we do at all.” Dylan, wondering if this pep talk is indirectly pointed at him, kisses Melanie’s shoulder. She leans her head back on his chest, closing her eyes as he plants more kisses on her body.

“I know what failure is like. I also know what it means to bounce back,” Monique chimes in. “You’re right, baby girl. Failure happens to all of us. What matters is what we do with it.”

“Goddamn, I feel like I’m attending a wellness seminar!” Henry jokes. Peggy giggles charitably, slowly rolling the back of her index fingernail up his shaft. She hopes to get him hard again so she’ll have an excuse to get that 7.5 inch dick stuffed again inside her pussy. However, she decides against it and shifts gears.

“Dylan, baby darling. Did you like my performance earlier? What did you think about it?” Dylan whistles, suddenly remembering Peggy’s remarkable demonstration of her unique anatomical talent. Melanie immediately catches on that Peggy is trying to seduce him, which is something she fully expected from the beginning would eventually happen.

“Oooohhh, I loved it. You were amazing. I’ve literally never seen a woman do that before. Thank you for sharing your special talent with us. It was a joy to watch,” Dylan beams. Even after making love to Melanie twice tonight, his desire for Peggy hasn’t waned one iota. He stares at her enormous breasts, imagining what it would be like to stuff his face between them. He intends to find out sooner rather than later.

“Thank you, darling.” Peggy’s eyes zoom in on Dylan. She slowly stands up, careful to avoid scraping her long fingernails against Henry’s skin. Monique smiles devilishly, knowing what’s about to come next. She looks at the bar, wondering if there are more fresh limes in the refrigerator. “Say, you know that special toy I brought with me? Would you like me to show it to you up close? Would you like a closer inspection?”

Melanie suddenly experiences a strong twinge of jealousy. She knows Dylan intends to have sex with Peggy at some point during this weekend’s festivities. It, like failure, is inevitable. Yet, she feels strange about it. She feels possessive about Dylan, like he’s her man and nobody else’s. This is ridiculous, Melanie thinks to herself, especially considering not even 30 minutes ago she was considering “breaking up” with him for good. Why does she feel this way? What’s going on?

“I would, yes.”

“Then come with me to my bedroom. Enjoy the rest of your evening, ladies and gentleman,” Peggy teases the group. She winks at Melanie, Monique, and Henry as she takes Dylan’s hand. “I need a few private moments with our host, if you don’t mind.”

“Nah, girl. Go get it. Go do whatever you got to do!” Monique cheers her on.

“Have fun, Boss Man!” Henry shouts.

Melanie Wright doesn’t say a word. Nobody except for Dylan notices this.

“Let’s go!” Peggy aggressively pulls Dylan away from the group. Everyone remains sitting together huddled up and naked in the cabaret room. Monique is already walking up to the bar to fix herself (hopefully) a margarita. Henry stands up, stretches, and decides to pour himself some more champagne. Melanie is still on the floor, watching Peggy and Dylan leave the room, not budging an inch. Hoping nobody notices, she closes her eyes and bows her head, wiping away tears that have unexpectedly formed.

***

At 10:52 p.m., the Buick and SUV quietly arrive about 50 yards away from the cul-de-sac entrance that leads to Dylan Tanaka’s home. A large public park (where Lawrence picked up Dylan’s three guests earlier this afternoon) sits at the base of a busy residential street. The street – and park, for that matter – runs parallel to the north-south edge of Lake Washington. To the east are several private roads that lead to very expensive houses. Many of them are gated. Dylan’s cul-de-sac, however, is not gated since six other homes are located on this small street. Dylan and his neighbors have discussed installing a gate at the entrance over the years, but nothing has ever materialized. After tonight’s events, that will probably change.

The main road has a few open parking spots. Motorists have to pay to park between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. (but not on Sundays or holidays) but at this hour you can basically park wherever you like for as long as you like. Parking fare enforcement officers rarely show up in wealthy neighborhoods like this one. They’re too busy patrolling the Downtown shopping areas and business districts to care about what happens in this (usually) quiet part of town. During their weekly scouting trips, Stephen’s team noticed several security cameras installed around the private properties. It wouldn’t be wise for two unusual vehicles to park anywhere around the cul-de-sac. The main road, however, contains very few security cameras outside of the major intersections. Fortunately for Stephen Callahan and his team, Dylan’s home is located in a cul-de-sac several hundred feet away from any intersection. They should be able to park on the side of the road and not attract any unwanted attention.

Stephen and Thomas park the Buick ahead of the SUV. Once they shut off the engine, Roddy does the same to his vehicle. Both drivers take out walkie-talkie two-way radios to communicate instead of getting out of the car to chat, not wanting any passerby to eavesdrop on their conversation. “Okay, so we’re pretty lucky right now. Almost no traffic around here. That’s not a surprise. This is a quiet rich neighborhood. No party houses or college kids in sight. The pedestrians who are around seem more interested in either going home or going to the nearest bar instead of strolling around the neighborhood,” Stephen assesses. “What do you think? Am I far off?”

“No, I don’t think you are. I noticed one cop car a couple miles back. Not sure what they were up to. Probably looking out for drunk drivers at this time of night,” Roddy says. “I see two pedestrians about 100 yards ahead of us. They’re walking straight toward us. Do you see them?”

“Yes, I do,” Stephen squints his eyes to see what looks to be a man and a woman holding hands, walking their German Shepherd. It’s way too late to be taking your pooch out to take a crap, Stephen thinks to himself, but people run on all sorts of different schedules. “Just lay low until they pass. They should be behind us in two to three minutes. Put your radio down, now.”

All five men try to remain inconspicuous as the couple strolls by, oblivious to the fact that the shiny Buick and mud-stained SUV are full of armed bandits. Roddy peers at them through the review mirror. The girl has a nice ass, he observes. Thirty seconds after they’ve passed by their vehicles, Roddy picks up his radio again to talk to his boss. “Alright, we’re good now. What’s next? Are you going to call your man at the security company?”

“Yes, that’s the next step.” Stephen hands the radio to Thomas. The veteran safecracker watches Stephen dig his Android out of his pocket to make a crucial phone call. After dialing the number, Stephen waits a few seconds for Bill Marks to pick up. “Hello? Bill?”

“It’s me. Good evening, sir,” Bill answers. Sitting alone in his home office in Redwood City, Bill Marks is drinking his fourth cup of coffee and shaking like a death row inmate nervously awaiting the electric chair. Bill’s two co-conspirators at McDonald & Pierce Security Systems are currently working the graveyard shift at the West Coast Regional Headquarters, located about two and a half miles away from Bill’s plush seaside home overlooking the San Francisco Bay. It would be considered highly unusual for the Regional Manager to be at the office this late – especially since his normal office hours are the typical 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. shift – so he decided to conduct his role in tonight’s heist from the comfort of his private home. His wife is aware of the plot to rob the “war profiteer guy,” as she dubbed him. However, she’s been sworn to secrecy – which should be easy to maintain considering the vast sum of money that’s been promised to come their way should this score succeed. Besides, her husband has assured her that if things were to go to hell in a handbasket, she and Bill would summon a private helicopter that would take them to a noncommercial airport where they’d board a chartered jet to an undisclosed location in the Caribbean. There, they’d either live out the rest of their days on a beachside resort home or relocate to a country that doesn’t care that they’re white-collar criminals.

“Good evening. We’ve just arrived at the target’s home. From what we can tell, nobody is tailing us. Nobody is watching us. No one suspects what we’re up to. We’re good to go,” Stephen reassures his partner in crime. Stephen understands that he has the most to lose if this job goes south, but that doesn’t change the fact that the others involved also have skin in the game. “Can I say the same with you and your boys?”

Bill resists the urge to tell Stephen that one of his co-conspirators is a woman, instead preferring to keep as many strategic secrets as possible. “Yeah, we’re ready as well. I just sent a text to one of them a few minutes ago. I received a response almost immediately. We’re ready to begin rebooting the system once the clock strikes midnight. We sometimes do it earlier, but let’s not do anything out of the ordinary. Not tonight.”

“Damn straight. Keep me posted. From my watch, it’s 11:03. Does your watch say the same thing?”

“It does.”

“Great. Fantastic. Very good. Let’s start as close to midnight as possible. In the meantime, me and my guys will review what’s about to happen once more. When you’re ready, text me. Then the show will get going.” Stephen looks at Thomas for approval of the plan. He nods. Taking this as a “yes,” Stephen signs off. “Over.”

“Over and out,” Bill responds with the glee of a child playing a spy game with his buddies. Stephen puts the radio back inside his jacket pocket. Bill puts his radio back on his desk. To calm his frazzled nerves, Bill gets up to get himself some scotch.

No ice, he decides. Now’s not the time for that.

After spending ten minutes reviewing the plan to his crew for the umpteenth time, all five men are now feeling confident in what they are about to do. There’s no going back. It’s now or never. Bill has repeatedly told Stephen that if any technical glitches were to unexpectedly come their way (such as a citywide power outage or large-scale systemic failure at the Austin HQ), he’d immediately tell him about it. Then, Stephen would have to decide whether or not to abort the whole mission. Bill doubts any such emergency would happen. Stephen, on the other hand, refuses to leave any stone unturned. He doesn’t believe in luck. He believes in preparation. Meticulous, intelligent, forthright preparation. Anything less than that would increase their odds of failure.

And as the cliché goes, failure is not an option. Not tonight. Not after all the countless hours and sleepless nights Stephan Callahan has had to endure because his former boss, Dylan Tanaka, betrayed him and threw him to the wolves.

This time, he intends to be the wolf.

***

“Here it is. The star of this evening’s show. My new favorite toy.” Peggy hands the 10.5-inch long dildo to Dylan. He inspects it with admiration, wondering in awe at how she was able to fit the entire thing inside her vagina. “I call it “Mr. Jerry,” as you found out. What do you think of him?”

“He’s something else,” Dylan observes. “Can’t say I’ve ever seen one as large as this before. I can see why you like it. It’s right up your alley, no pun intended!” This gets a mild snicker out of Peggy. At the end of the day, she’s no different than any other woman who’s ever walked this planet. Just because she works in the porn industry doesn’t mean she’s constantly thinking about sex, desiring sex, or wanting to have sex with anything with a pulse. She does have a plurality of partners – eight, to be exact – but they’re spread out across the world. She doesn’t see them all the time. Her currently live-in boyfriend, Roger, is a bisexual porn producer who also has multiple lovers (of all genders) scattered around the country. They have sex maybe once or twice a week, tops. Most of the time Peggy is at the gym, lifting heavy weights and working out just like any typical professional bodybuilder would. She’s not technically a professional bodybuilder at the moment, but her chosen profession does require her to be in top physical shape. Her appeal as a “sexy, curvy muscular Latina” has earned her tens of thousands of loyal fans across the globe. In addition to Roger, she also regularly goes to Morgan, a fellow female bodybuilder based in Las Vegas, for conjugal visits. Peggy loves dick, but she also loves pussy. Especially muscular pussy like hers. They have sex quite often, sometimes multiple times a day. That’s the advantage of lesbian relationships: They can go at it for as long as they want to without stopping, unlike guys. Peggy takes full advantage of her female parts when she’s with Morgan.

“Yeah, it’s quite a piece of machinery,” she says, eyeing Dylan’s penis getting a little bigger and bigger as their conversation continues. “But nothing beats the feeling of a real man inside me. I mean that honestly.”

Dylan turns to face Peggy. He knows she’s been with hundreds of lovers before (this is probably not an exaggeration). That doesn’t mean he wants to “rise above” any of them. He has nothing to prove. Still, he cannot help but feel some anxiety being with a woman whose experience with sex can fill multiple lifetimes. “Is that true? I…I saw the way this made you, you know, squirt to the high heavens. That was impressive.”

Luckily, it seems as though Peggy cleaned off “Mr. Jerry” between her earlier performance and now. It’s not sticky or dripping wet. Peggy takes the dildo out of Dylan’s hand and places it on top of a nearby credenza. She kisses him passionately. Dylan rubs his hands across her firm butt. Her pointed nipples dig into Dylan’s chest like a stab wound. He doesn’t mind it.

“It’s true. I love dildos. I love sex toys of all kinds. I really do,” Peggy says, moving her hands across his back to bring his body close to hers. “But nothing, I mean nothing, beats the feeling of a man inside me. And you can believe that. Take it to the bank, good sir.” Peggy gets down on her knees to lick the underside of Dylan’s scrotum. He moans, looking up at the ceiling as he feels her experienced tongue lap his sensitive flesh. By now, Peggy has become a true expert at giving head, but that’s not what’s in store for her and her lover. Tonight, she plans to do something a bit more…special.

“Go down on me. NOW!” she commands. Dylan obeys.

Peggy plops herself down on the bed, the sheets still containing the smells from her earlier coupling with Henry. Dylan also notices it, but figures it’s a new brand of fragrance she’s wearing. She spreads her legs out wide, inviting Dylan to taste her musky feminine parts. He gladly accepts her invitation, getting down on his knees and leaning his chest against the edge of the mattress so he can inspect her bits. Her engorged clitoris is large…though not as large as Melanie’s. Nobody in the history of womankind has had a larger clit than Melanie Wright, Dylan believes wholeheartedly. Peggy wouldn’t disagree with this assessment. Still, it’s a sight to behold. Dylan pokes with his tongue the large pink head protruding out of her dark brown clitoral hood. Her folds are already dripping wet, almost as if she’s in a state of constant arousal. Peggy groans as Dylan’s hot tongue touches her ultrasensitive bud. When Dylan slowly laps his tongue across it, shivers creep down her spine. She grabs hold of the bedsheets to brace herself for what she hopes will be an earthshattering orgasm.

“Oh fuck yeah, fuck yesssss babyyyyyyyy,” Peggy moans.

Dylan’s mouth envelopes her entire sex. Peggy closes her eyes as Dylan dutifully strokes her clit with his entire tongue. When he closes his lips around her bud, she knows this will end well. Dylan’s oral skills are second to none, as Melanie would testify to if she were here as a witness. Peggy feels the heat radiating off her body. She’s surprised the windows haven’t steamed up yet. Dylan’s mouth is exhausted between orally pleasing Melanie first and now Peggy. He doesn’t mind one bit. Both women deserve all the pleasure they can get. And then some.

“Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck………”

One final gentle tug at her clit with his lips is all it takes to send her over the edge. Waves of orgasm careen through her body. She’s enjoying it too much to say anything, not that there’s anything meaningful to say at the moment. Dylan’s lips come apart from her. He watches intently as she wiggles around the bed. Watching a woman orgasm might be just as fun as giving her an orgasm, Dylan decides.

After her heavy breathing subsides, Peggy reaches over to her purse to take out a condom. Unlike Melanie, Peggy’s prolific bedroom escapades require her to be as cautious as possible. Mostly for the sake of her lovers, not just her. She tears the foil, beckons Dylan to come closer to her, and kisses him once more. By now, his erection is standing at full attention. He knows he can’t compete with Kit, Henry, or “Mr. Jerry,” so they both agreed to a compromise, one that both of them find beneficial. After rolling the condom onto Dylan’s penis, Peggy also removes a bottle of lubrication from her purse. She opens it and hands it over to Dylan. He squeezes a small amount onto his index finger. Peggy turns around and gets on all fours, her butt facing out to him.

“Beautiful. Just beautiful,” Dylan remarks, admiring her muscular butt. Peggy slaps it hard, wanting to excite both him and her. It works.

“Come and get it!” she demands.

Slowly and methodically, Dylan inserts his lubed-up finger inside Peggy’s anus. Little by little, he pushes forth until his finger is completely inside her. Dylan made sure to clip his fingernails earlier this morning just for this reason. He circles it around, noticing this gives her a jolt of pleasure. The sound of her moans is music to his ears. He then removes his finger from her ass and applies additional lubrication to more of his fingers. Dylan strokes his hardened manhood, wanting to add more jelly to it despite the condom already being oiled. For this kind of penetration, it’s better to be safe than sorry. For the sake of everyone involved.

Once everything is properly prepared, Dylan grips Peggy’s hips with both hands. He positions his penis right in front of her tight entrance. She doesn’t speak a word. Neither does he. Carefully and cautiously, he pushes the head of his penis inside her anus, paying close attention to her body language. She doesn’t twitch or anything, a sure indication that he’s good to go. He now feels confident to go all in. Peggy’s moans get louder as Dylan fully enters her tight cavity. He also groans at the indescribable feeling of being in such a constricted space. It makes him feel like a “Man” with a capital M to be so tightly inside a woman like Peggy Cole, someone who’s had more lovers than most people have casual acquaintances. Full of confidence, he pushes in and out of her, his hands still gripping her hips. Peggy, to her credit, drops the fake “porn star orgasming shtick” and just enjoys the moment by rocking back and forth to Dylan’s rhythm. She’s been a porn actress for so long that she sometimes doesn’t know how to get out of character and be herself. This is one of those times when she wants to be who she really is.

Peggy’s reputation as a “size queen” is well deserved. Her sexual preferences require larger-than-normal vaginal penetration. However, for other types of sex she is as normal as one can imagine. For what they are engaging in at this very moment, Dylan is more than perfectly suited for the job.

“Oh, God damn it, Dylan. Fuck baby…”

“Fuck, I’m close, I’m so fucking close,” Dylan clenches his teeth, anticipating his third climax of the evening. He continues to rock back and forth, sliding himself as far in as he can go without losing balance. Making love to Melanie was a truly erotic experience rooted in genuine mutual affection. This, on the other hand, is a pure hard drive toward orgasm, an exercise in fucking a porn star in a way that thousands of people around the world could only dream of. He knows there are countless men who would commit murder to take his place at this moment. Dylan intends to cherish his privileged position for as long as possible.

Peggy’s throaty cries fill the room. Dylan, feeling as sexually empowered as he’s ever been in his life, drinks in her shrieks like a hypnotic drug. Peggy rejoices in the deep anal massage this man is joyfully giving her, thankful for the large amount of lube they used beforehand. She feels her pussy dripping wet as Dylan continues to pound relentlessly into her.

“Yesssssssssssssssss…” Peggy hisses.

One final forceful thrust sends Dylan to the point of no return. He collapses on top of her. Peggy falls to her belly, still spreading her legs so he can climax inside of her. This climax isn’t nearly as consequential as his previous ones, a testament to him being drained of energy and his relationship with Peggy. He loves her as a friend, but nothing more. She feels the exact same way about him. While he’s on her “list” of lovers, he’s not near the top. They both know it, so it’s not an awkward designation. It’s the way both of them want it.

“I haven’t done anal in a while. Whew! Fuck me, that was amazing. You’re good at this, Dylan baby darling.” Peggy scooches away from Dylan, forcing his softened manhood to slip out. Incredibly, the condom remains all the way on. After several moments of laying on his tummy, out of breath and still slightly drunk from the champagne (not to mention high from taking a few hits of Peggy’s joint), Dylan gets up and heads to the bathroom to clean up. Peggy checks herself in the mirror to make sure her makeup still looks presentable. It doesn’t. She digs through her purse to find some mascara, which desperately needs reapplication. A few moments later, Dylan emerges from the bathroom in mid-yawn. He watches Peggy reapply her face paint. Even though he knows nothing about makeup, there is something intriguing about watching an expert participate in their craft. Before becoming a bodybuilder and porn star, Peggy worked briefly as a makeup artist for one of Las Vegas’s local TV news stations. She was excellent at her job but didn’t find it satisfying enough. She wanted to do much more with her life. Thankfully for everyone who adores her, she eventually did.

“You look beautiful, Peggy,” Dylan kisses her on the neck. She closes her eyes, soaking in the feel of his warm lips on her skin. “You look like a queen.”

“How many queens look like a ‘roided up sex doll?” Peggy smirks. When she’s calm and collected (or high as a kite) she can exhibit a healthy dose of self-deprecating humor. This is obviously one of those times. She flexes her left bicep, looking at both herself and Dylan in the mirror.

“Oh dear, you shouldn’t tease yourself like that.” Dylan kisses her bicep peak. It’s not as full as Melanie’s biceps (very few women have biceps as large and vascular as Melanie Wright), a fact that doesn’t take away from Peggy’s accomplishments. Her physique is still impressive compared to most women, despite the fact she’s not as perfectly symmetrical or jaw-droppingly massive as Melanie. She’s big enough to earn her title as a “muscle chick” and hot enough in all the right places – including her massive breasts – to endear her to the porn community. “Though you do look like a ‘roided up sex doll, if I may say so myself!”

“You rude little boy!” Peggy playfully scolds him. She gives him a light slap on the butt as punishment. “I don’t look like a traditional woman, but then again I wouldn’t be where I am if I had stuck to tradition, that’s for damn sure. It pays to be different.”

“And…to not be afraid to be different.”

“Damn straight!” Peggy stands up. A few inches shorter than Dylan, she tilts her head up slightly to look into his eyes. Peggy thinks he’s fairly handsome, maybe a good professional haircut away from being low-key sexy. She’s told him this many times before, but Dylan simply brushes it off as her being nice to him. She kisses him. Their lips take a long time to come apart. Neither of them wants to rush this. “This has been a lovely evening, baby. I’ve had a great time. I seriously can’t think of the last time I had this much fun.”

“Seriously? Isn’t your life one long continuous party?”

“That’s funny, but no,” Peggy laughs. “You’d think the life of a porn star is all fun, glitz, glamour, and orgasms, but it’s much more boring than you’d think. Arguing over pay, complaining about the shitty food on set, waiting forever for the male performers to get hard again, fighting with lawyers over bootleg copies of our DVDs, shit like that. Not to mention all the backstabbing, gossiping, and other shit that happens in every workplace. It’s funny to think of it that way, but it is a workplace. Not like the places you’ve worked, but similar. I guess.”

“That makes sense. Workplace politics is universal, whether we think it is or not.” Dylan fondles Peggy’s breasts, teasing her nipples with his fingers. They’re a handful, both literally and figuratively. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Please, baby. Ask away.”

“It’s fine if you did, and I’m not upset or anything, I’m just curious. Did you and Henry hook up earlier tonight?”

Peggy’s face becomes serious. She’s certain Dylan means what he says when he claims he’s not angry about it, though it is curious why he’d ask about it. “Yeah, we did. A few times. Right here, in fact. While you and Melanie were up in your bedroom. He’s a sweet man. You know that. And he’s great in bed, as I just found out.”

Dylan smiles, nodding his head with gleeful approval. “That’s great. For both of you. He’s a big fan of yours. He loves you. Over the years we’ve talked endlessly about you, your career, and your best videos. He was really excited to see you this weekend. I’m sure it never occurred to him that he’d be able to, uh, you know, bang you. Pardon my language.”

“No apology needed.” Peggy pinches Dylan’s soft penis, hoping to wake it up again. She knows guys can’t go at it as often as women can, but there’s always hope. Even if it’s faint. Dylan shakes his head, signaling he’s not in the mood – and probably done for the evening. As much as he’d love to, Dylan knows he’s spent. Anything more would probably cause him to fall asleep right then and there. As the host of the evening’s festivities, that would be supremely rude.

“Thanks, but I think I’ve had enough fun for one night,” Dylan declares. Peggy kisses him on the cheek, which tells him she understands where he stands. She takes his hand into her hand, swinging it back and forth. They head back to the cabaret room hand-in-hand, Peggy’s head lightly leaning against his shoulder. A triumphant grin can be seen on Dylan’s face.

***

“Make sure you keep your back as straight as you can,” Melanie instructs Henry. “Think of it like there’s a metal rod going straight down your spine from your head down to your butt. Meaning you can’t arch your back no matter how hard you try.”

Henry is currently standing on stage in the cabaret room, attempting a few bodybuilding poses while being coached up by Melanie and Monique. Melanie is the true expert here, although Monique has dabbled in amateur bodybuilding before. The chef-turned-faux-bodybuilder has already demonstrated side chest and front lat spread. He’s now attempting side triceps. Melanie gives him a candid smirk of approval. He feels a bit silly, especially because he’s “out of shape” by his own definition and is surrounded by three beautiful athletic ladies who are a cut above anything he could ever dream of being. A tad out of his league, Henry decides to be a good sport and do his best.

The ladies seem to be enjoying themselves, so that counts for something.

“Like this?” Henry holds his breath, hoping that sucking in his potbelly will help matters. He doubts it will. Monique stifles a laugh.

“Yeah, just like that. Just hold that pose for eight to ten seconds, if you can,” Melanie teases. “I’m just kidding. You can drop it whenever you feel like it. You may not look like a pro, but you are worth, ahem, looking at.” She shifts her eyes downward toward Henry’s impressive member. He blushes, which is probably not noticeable under the oppressively bright stage lights. It’s definitely not normal for him to be this naked for this long in front of more than one woman (let alone three!), so he’s not exactly accustomed to all this attention. His clothes are still sitting in Peggy’s bedroom.

“Ah, thanks Miss Melanie. I appreciate the compliment.”

“Melanie! I think you’re embarrassing him,” Monique chastises. “As a black woman, I can attest to the fact that the stereotypes you’ve heard about black men aren’t always true. Buuuuuuuuuuut…” Both ladies are now staring impolitely at Henry’s crotch, enjoying the opportunity to unapologetically objectify a man for a change. “You, my dear, do in fact fit every stereotype in the goddamn book. Wowee!”

Usually a polite man himself, Henry chooses to remain quiet once he realizes it’s only fair that these ladies should be able to ogle him in the same way he ogles cute girls he sees on the street. It may be uncomfortable, but it’s well worth it, Henry rationalizes. As fortune would have it, the tension breaks when Peggy and Dylan reenter the room. Holding hands like old lovers, Henry looks to see Melanie’s reaction. Her face is as unexpressive as a bald eagle. This does not surprise him. Melanie’s not the jealous type, or so he’s heard.

“We’re back! Did you miss us?” Peggy throws her hands up like a princess entering the throne room. Once she sees Henry standing on stage under the bright lights, she runs to him like a paparazzi chasing after a Grammy Award-winning singer. “Well, I’ll be damned! Henry my dear, you should seriously consider becoming a bodybuilder like the rest of us. You’ve got great body composition. You can tell when someone has the natural physique for being a competitor, even if they haven’t never lifted a weight in their life. You can tell, am I right girls?”

“Oh yeah, you can tell by the fullness of someone’s legs, the way their body fat is dispersed, and how much muscle they can develop without lifting,” Melanie posits. She rubs her chin like a scientist spelling out a groundbreaking hypothesis. “That’s what somebody told me all the way back in middle school. I looked like an athlete, even though I hated gym class and never did sports before. I think he was just hitting on me, though. I can’t remember.” Dylan winks at Henry, a nonverbal cue that he appreciates the fact he’s putting up with the ladies’ shenanigans like a complete gentleman. Henry sighs, acknowledging his boss’s show of appreciation. Dylan pours himself another glass of champagne – the bottles are now practically empty – and sips it as he walks to the front of the dais.

“Whatever he was doing, he was right. And prescient.” Dylan squeezes Melanie’s meaty forearms. She seems happy with this gesture, as if he’s proactively trying to make her forget that he and Peggy just made love. “Words of encouragement can go a long way, especially when we’re young. That’s something we should always remember and never forget. Our words have power. I suppose that’s still true when an adult speaks to an adult. I remember the first time I really had a conversation with Monique. Remember that, my darling?”

“The rooftop restaurant in Miami? Oh yeah, I remember that. How could I forget?” Monique reminisces about that fateful luncheon. It was then when Dylan revealed his intentions to financially sponsor her Olympic bid. “For whatever reason, I just really admire women who break the traditional mold by being strong, athletic, and driven to win,” was what he told her. Those words are forever burned into Monique’s memory. She’ll remember it word-for-word for the rest of her life. She always thought of herself as someone who strives to “break the mold,” but nobody had ever told her that before. Those were words she never heard anybody say to her, despite a bounty of evidence that that’s exactly what she wants to be.

Someone who defies expectations and does things people literally say are impossible.

Just retire.

You’ll never win a Gold medal.

You’ll never overcome your injury.

You had a good run. Quit while you’re ahead.

She’s heard all that bullshit before, oftentimes from the people closest to her. Her parents, her friends, her trainers, even her boyfriend from time to time. But not Dylan Tanaka. He’s always believed in her…and never ceases to remind her of his belief in her. That means something. Always has, always will.

“That’s why I try to act intentionally,” Dylan continues. “In everything I do. I try to treat everyone with respect and dignity, even when they haven’t done the same for me.” He bows his head and stares down at his lukewarm champagne. Melanie wraps her enormous arms around him, squeezing him tightly. He tries not to cry, a feat he (astonishingly enough) actually accomplishes. Peggy, Henry, and Monique can only awkwardly look around the room in silence, hoping someone will speak first.

Nobody does.

***

“It’s time.”

Stephen Callahan decides it’s now or never. Moments earlier Bill Marks sent him a simple text message that says:

Ready.

That’s all he needs to know.

He sends a quick message back instructing him to “get the show on the road.” Then, Stephen turns on his Bluetooth earpiece so he can communicate with Bill verbally. “Let’s start the fireworks, old boy. We’re heading out.” After raising his hand so the inhabitants of the SUV can see the signal, all five men exit their respective vehicles. Stephen is carrying an empty briefcase and wearing his backpack. Thomas trudges along with his rolling suitcase and duffle bag. Roddy is also carrying a duffle bag, but this one is empty. Xander and Cortez are not carrying anything, but they do have spare clips hiding underneath their coats.

“Everything is ready to go, hang on a moment,” Bill says over the phone. He opens an encrypted chat window with one of his MPSS co-conspirators. The time is now 11:57 p.m. In three minutes, his criminal act officially begins. From the engineering side of the scheme, all seems ready to go as well. “I can confirm that we’re ready to get going once the clock strikes midnight. Hopefully, Cinderella doesn’t have a pumpkin carriage waiting for her outside the ballroom.”

“If so, we’re all royally fucked, with or without the glass slipper,” Stephen replies back. The five men quietly stroll through the neighborhood toward Dylan’s property. For such a wealthy community, Stephen is surprised at how little lighting there is on this small street. Only one tall streetlight located right at the entrance of the cul-de-sac. Because of this, he and his men can go by without anyone seeing them. So far, they do not see any pedestrians enjoying a late-night walk through the neighborhood.

“One minute until showtime,” Bill announces.

“Copy that.”

Roddy, Cortez, and Xander remain uncharacteristically quiet. This is, in their estimation, the riskiest part of the heist. Getting in. After that, they don’t expect Dylan to put up much of a fight. He’s all alone in his big fancy mansion. No bodyguards. No butler. No cook. No guests. No one except for this lousy, pathetic, and lonely parasite. Stephen wishes he could catch him while he’s jerking off to a b-level 90’s-era HBO sex movie just to embarrass him even more. That would be delicious. It would be fitting for what he aims to do.

“Ready. Stand by.” Bill wipes a drop of sweat from his brow. He can feel his heart racing a million beats per minute. If he were to drop dead from a heart attack right then and there, it would be pure poetic justice, he’s decided. He’d probably deserve it, too.

Bill watches his computer screen move through the normal routine of a monthly system reboot. A popup window says it’s about to begin. He waits for it to disappear under his “notifications” tab. A progress bar shows up, showing the reboot has begun. So far, it’s at 1%. It takes approximately 15 to 18 minutes for the process to finish. Right on schedule, he receives a text from Roger, one of his co-conspirators, telling him all the homes in the 98112, 98122, and 98144 zip codes are officially “disconnected” from the mother system. Bill breathes a sigh of relief.

“Systems are down in your zone, I repeat, systems are down in your zone. You and your men are clear to enter the property as undetected as a housefly,” Bill informs Stephen. While Bill may be struggling to maintain his composure, on the other end, Stephen Callahan is struggling to contain his excitement.

“Thank you, buddy. I appreciate the good news. Anything else you wish to inform me before we cut off communication for now?” The four men surrounding Stephen stop breathing momentarily so they can listen in on their conversation.

“No, boss. We’re good to go. Nothing else to discuss, unless you want to talk about the Dodgers and whether or not they’ll win the World Series this year.” Bill amuses himself with his own irreverence. He eyes an unopened bottle of scotch sitting on a shelf across the room, tempting him like a Greek Siren. He needs something to help him calm down.

“Good. I’ll be in touch soon. Over and out.” Stephen doesn’t wait for verbal confirmation to turn off his Bluetooth earpiece. By now, the five men are standing right outside Dylan Tanaka’s main gate. There’s a modest pedestrian entrance off to the left side and a keypad above the door handle. Thomas takes out a device that looks like a ballpoint pen, holds it against the keypad, and twists the clip outward. This activates the machine. Roddy, Cortez, and Xander watch with amazement as this gadget disguised as a writing utensil scrambles the keypad, essentially deactivating it. Thomas puts the “pen” back in his pocket and leisurely opens the door as if he owned the place.

“Excellent. Follow me.” Stephen leads the way. Thomas closes the door behind him once everyone has entered the property.

“Damn! I got to get me one of those!” Xander whispers to Cortez. Roddy hushes him up, not wanting to make any unnecessary noise, especially now that they’ve entered the hot zone.

The house’s spacious driveway is enclosed by tall grey and white brick walls, ensuring none of his nosey neighbors could spy on him (or see who enters and leaves the property). Stephen crouches low regardless just to be safe and is pleased to see his four comrades following suit. They gently walk in a straight line along the bricks to make sure anyone inside the house to the right – which is four stories high but situated about a hundred yards away – can’t possibly see them. The cover of darkness also makes this an irrelevant precaution. Still, Stephen refuses to allow even the possibility of failure to creep into tonight’s activities.

Stephen and his men have decided to first locate Dylan before breaking in so that he doesn’t have time to find his phone and call the cops. All five men have night vision binoculars and are looking at every visible window. Dylan’s three-story house (Stephen doesn’t consider the attic an actual floor) appears to be completely empty except for the man himself. Nobody is in the kitchen or dining room (both are visible through the left side of the first floor), as well as any of the bedrooms on the second floor. There is a light on in the foyer and the living room, but nobody appears to be in either of those spaces. As the thieves make their way into the backyard, all five men are startled by the beauty of Dylan’s spacious Japanese garden and try to block it from their thinking. Now is not the time to sightsee.

Damn. This place looks nicer up close than in satellite photos, Stephen thinks. So this is how he chooses to spend his blood money. It must be nice being a rich, petty fool with no conscience. You can spend it on extravagancies like this while old friends like me rot away in prison. Fuck that.

“Ah ha! Look up there,” Thomas points to the second and third floors. A faint light is seen coming out of the third-floor balcony. The flickering suggests it’s from a fireplace. A longer balcony going across the entire backside of the second story, on the other hand, clearly shows a much brighter light emanating from behind the scarlet red curtains. No flickering detected.

“He must be on the second floor. What do you think?” Roddy asks. Stephen shakes his head.

“It’s impossible to tell from this angle. Perhaps if we–” Before Stephen can finish his sentence, all five men see a shadow quickly fly across the scarlet curtains. Indistinct music can be heard, which further provides evidence that Mr. Tanaka is on the other side of those curtains.

“Can you hear some music?” Cortez asks. Everyone nods their heads silently.

“It’s confirmed. He’s up there,” Stephen decides. He cocks his pistol. “Let’s go inside and make ourselves comfortable.”

“With pleasure,” Thomas says. With that, the veteran safecracker calmly walks up to the screen door leading to the kitchen/dining area. Not worried about sounding any alarms, he takes out a tiny drill, points it right at the door handle, and cuts away a ten-inch-long half-circle of glass so he can access the lock from the other side. The four other men marvel at how silently the drill cuts away at the glass. Thomas fashioned an extremely sharp blade at the end of a low-power drill, which gives him the ability to pierce the thick glass without having to generate a lot of torque – and noise that comes with high torque. Within 90 seconds, he’s cut away all the glass he needs. Thomas gently places the glass on the ground and unlocks the door. The men enter Dylan’s home. Out of the corner of his eye, Xander sees a blinking red light coming from a wall right across from the screen door. He knows the signal won’t reach the security company or the local police station, but his heart cannot help but skip a beat just at the sight of it blinking like mad. It’s an involuntary reflex.

“Relax. We’re good. Trust my people to do what they’re supposed to do. We’re fine. We’re good,” Stephen reassures his men. This brings Xander’s heart rate back to normal, whatever that was before.

As the group weaves through all the rooms, they finally reach the front of the house and see the gothic-looking spiral staircase that leads to the second (and presumably third) floor. It’s in the foyer that the music becomes more pronounced. It’s definitely confirmed that Dylan Tanaka is there, probably drowning his sorrows all alone to cheap second-rate jazz music he probably got off Spotify.

“Let’s get it.” Stephen arrogantly says in a normal voice. The four other men are surprised by his cockiness.

One by one, the five armed bandits nonchalantly walk up the staircase as if they were welcomed guests themselves, awaiting what they expect to be a pathetic lonely man sitting all by himself drinking cheap wine and listening to knockoff Miles Davis.

All the King’s Queens – Chapter 7: Carnal Delights

The walk up the stairs took almost no time at all. The guest bedrooms and the cabaret room are on the second floor. Dylan’s entire bedroom occupies the third floor, while a fourth-floor attic can be found on the northeast corner of the building. Lawrence uses it to store miscellaneous items like souvenirs, Dylan’s childhood memorabilia, artwork he no longer finds valuable, and mismatched old furniture that became obsolete when they refurnished the house shortly before Dylan’s fall from grace. But the third floor is the only place where Dylan and Melanie were planning to be for the next few hours.

Dylan’s bedroom is actually several rooms. There’s a main room where his bed is located. There’s a spacious shower and bathroom, and a separate room for taking baths. It’s basically a large jacuzzi, but a bath is a bath no matter how you take it. This is where he goes to physically unwind from a long, difficult day. Then he has another room where he stores all of his clothes. The life of a billionaire means needing several dress suits, a few tuxedos, and lots of ties, loafers, shirts, belts, socks, and hats. Lawrence figures his boss’s wardrobe is worth more than the property value of most middle-class suburban families. He’s probably not wrong about that.

Melanie and Dylan enter the bedroom, turn on the lights, and kiss once more. This time, it’s a kiss that’s in private. No one watching them. No one teasing them. Just them in this room, alone together. When their lips come apart, Melanie notices that Dylan is trembling.

“I’ve missed you,” Dylan confesses. Tears well up in his eyes.

“I know. I miss you too. Badly.”

“I…I love you.”

Melanie gazes at Dylan with her captivating green eyes. She doesn’t respond or react to Dylan’s unexpected confession of love. During their entire friendship, she’s made it clear that she’s not ever getting married again. Too many husbands. Too many fights. Too many messy divorces. Too much trauma that her kids have had to endure. Never again, she vowed to herself many years ago. That chapter has closed. For good. Dylan knows this. He’d much rather marry a girl more in his age range (Melanie is about 15 years older than him) but that hasn’t been in his cards…yet. Becoming a social pariah certainly hasn’t helped him settle down and start a family. But he’s always felt a special bond with Melanie, even if the love they share isn’t romantic or meant to become too intimate. Perhaps that’s why they choose to live so far away from each other. They fear what could happen if they got too close.

“Come here. Let’s make love.” Melanie wipes Dylan’s tears away and kisses him again, this time softly. Still wearing her pink bikini and heels, she walks over to the bathroom to remove any makeup she may still have on. She tried to remove most of it before the show started, but some residue may still be caked on somewhere. Dylan goes over to the fireplace and turns it on. It’s not a real fireplace with real wood, but it does the job. There’s no shame in having an electric one, especially if it sets the mood. He turns off the lights, opens the white silk curtains, and peers out into the fading sunset. It should be completely dark in about 10 minutes, he estimates.

Dylan has floor-to-ceiling wall windows that stretch across almost half of the entire room. Each panel is about four feet wide and 14 feet tall. A long drape of silk curtains stretches across the windows. All one has to do is manually pull them to the side to reveal the outside world. On the south-facing side there’s a small balcony overlooking Lake Washington. It’s a sight worthy of a king, or someone rich enough to pretend to be a king. Dylan is certainly rich enough, though he rarely ever feels like royalty.

After removing a few smudges of foundation from her chin, Melanie returns to the main bedroom area. Dylan swiftly comes to her. She reaches out and takes his hands. They’re as warm as the inside of the fireplace. Instead of kissing again, Melanie removes the charcoal gray blazer Dylan is wearing, plops it on the floor, and unbuttons the rest of his white dress shirt. At the same time, Dylan leans over to unfasten her bikini top. He struggles to reach his arms around her broad torso, an amusing challenge she immediately recognizes. She kindly removes the top for him, revealing her full, plump breasts. Her implants aren’t nearly as eye-popping as Peggy’s, but they’re noticeable to anyone with the inclination to look. Her tiny pink nipples stand at attention. Dylan thumbs them in circles as Melanie unfastens his belt, drops his slacks to the floor. She feels the bulge in his underwear. For all his wealth, Dylan still insists on wearing cheap Calvin Klein black underwear. He could wear something much fancier, but that assumes that he cares about such things. He does not.

Melanie lets out a quiet moan as Dylan caresses her sensitive nipples. Monique may have larger nipples (which some guys are really turned on by) but Melanie has bigger muscles, so she’ll accept that as a victory of sorts. Dylan pushes his underwear down toward his ankles, removes his socks, and kicks them aside. He is completely naked.

Still, her eyes do not leave his eyes.

Next, Melanie places her thumbs inside her bikini bottom and slides them down her tree trunk legs. Dylan watches in amazement as he gazes upon her erect clitoris. Unlike Peggy and Monique, Melanie chooses to keep some of her pubic hair intact. She lets a classy thin strip of hair run down her pelvis, which is more than the other two ladies can say they still have. Peggy waxes almost monthly and Monique shaves weekly. Melanie finds all this too bothersome. Plus, she likes to remind herself that she’s a fully grown adult, not a small child. That’s the life of being a woman in the western hemisphere.

If Peggy is famous for her ability to ejaculate far distances, Melanie is equally famous for her enormous clitoris. Before settling down into wifehood and motherhood, Melanie made a few pornographic videos when she was in her late 20s to pay the bills. This is when her famous endowment put her on the map. She may not have been able to appear in Terminator 2, but her gigantic clit found its way in adult video stores across America. All the porn she made exists either on VHS or in grainy Internet videos, so it’s been a while since the world got to regard her jaw-dropping piece of female meat. That is another chapter of her life that she prefers to never reopen. That’s done. She’s never doing that sort of thing again. If someone wants to see her naked, they’ll have to earn it the old fashioned way. Like Dylan.

Dylan obediently gets down on his knees and licks Melanie’s clit. Measuring at almost three inches in length (it’s a tad shy of three inches, a fact that disappoints her immensely), it’s been mistaken by uneducated fools as being a penis. It’s not. She’s not a man or a woman with male genitalia. No, she’s a woman, a pure woman whose femininity should go unquestioned. Melanie loves the way Dylan treats her. He has soft hands that feel like pure silk when they touch her coarse skin. And Dylan is always attentive to her needs, taking his time to physically explore her body. Standing at 5’ 10” tall and weighing 215 pounds, there’s a lot of her body to explore. Dylan intends to enjoy every square inch of her. And she intends to be enjoyed.

Melanie backs up a few feet, wanting to find the bed. She does. Dylan scoots forward to meet her. She leans back onto the bed, cherishing the feel of the cool sheets against her naked skin. After spending twenty minutes under hot stage lights, this is a nice contrasting experience. Dylan proceeds to crawl next to her, his eyes laser focused on his lover’s face. Melanie isn’t a pretty woman, but she’s not ugly either. Her eyes are kind and her smile captivating, two facets of her that make Melanie attractive enough. For a variety of reasons, you won’t find her on the cover of fashion magazines. But Dylan loves the way she looks, from head to toe. She has never really cared about her skincare regimen since she dedicates most of her time to her weightlifting regimen. So once wrinkles and lines started forming across her face, she wasn’t surprised or particularly concerned with it. She prefers to let her biceps do the talking. And she has no desire to be 25 again. Those days are over. Those days were boring. She loves who she is right now.

“God, I never tire of your skin touching my body,” she confesses.

Dylan leans over and trails a line of kisses along her breasts, stomach, and pubic area. Hearing her compliment him like that is a genuine turn-on, especially since he rarely ever hears benevolent words said about him these days.

“And I never tire of touching your body, my dear. You’re unbelievable. So gorgeous.” After running his fingers across her chiseled abdomen, he returns to massaging her engorged clitoris with his tongue. He loves pleasing her orally. It’s especially enjoyable because her enormous size makes it easy to do so. Once his soft lips caress her sensitive clit head, her gentle moans transition to audible groans. Lapping the tip with his entire tongue, Melanie lifts her pelvis up high in the air, an indication that she’s both enjoying the stimulation and ready to climax. Nothing pleases Dylan more than knowing Melanie is being pleased. He truly loves her. He may not love her like a husband loves his wife, but he loves her deeply regardless of what kind of love it is. Giving pleasure is the ultimate act of love, a mantra Dylan takes to heart. That’s why he takes great care to ensure his guests eat the best food, drink the best wine, and enjoy each other’s company as much as possible. Pleasure takes many forms, as Dylan knows full well.

“Ohhh, that’s it, yes, right there…”

Dylan grips her hips with both hands to stabilize her body as much as he can. It’s a difficult task to maintain oral contact with her sensitive parts when she’s squirming around like a restless kitten. One final lift of her hips, and Dylan knows she’s just seconds away from a satisfying climax.

When it hits, Dylan knows it immediately and stops pleasing her. He loves watching her experience an orgasm. It’s almost as delightful as experiencing one. Melanie writhes around in the bed uncontrollably as waves of orgasm pulse through her body’s core. The Ms. Athena Championship, the most prestigious female bodybuilding competition in the world, is in two months. Which means Melanie is approaching the best shape of her life. It also means she’s exhausted – both mentally and physically – all the time, which leaves little room for her sex drive to be addressed. This weekend, however, was going to be a special time where she could relax, kick her feet up, and not think about her strict diet or the endless hours she needs to spend at the gym. So while this may not be the greatest orgasm she’s ever experienced, it’s certainly the best she’s had in a long while.

“Oh baby, that was fantastic. I loved it. Thank you, sweetie.” Dylan lifts her face up to kiss it. She can taste her own juices on his lips. For whatever odd reason, she actually enjoys the way she tastes and doesn’t mind Dylan sharing some of it with her. When their lips come apart, Melanie sits up so she can remove her shoes. She purchased them in Venice several years ago, so she makes certain they’re properly removed and placed neatly next to the bed. Wanting to return the favor, Melanie suddenly grabs Dylan’s face and kisses him again deeply, making sure her tongue explores the inside of his mouth. He welcomes her penetration. She reaches down and strokes Dylan’s penis, which (miraculously) had gotten soft between now and when she first started to undress him. Slowly but surely it returns to being as hard as a rock.

At 53 years old, Melanie has had her fair share of lovers. She has three children (all adults ages 23, 21, and 18) with two different husbands (she’s had four husbands total). She’s also experienced extensively with synthetic steroids – which are still a (somewhat) taboo subject within the bodybuilding community – to help her grow her massive musculature. Melanie got really seriously into steroids after her third child was born. A few doctors warned her that this could essentially end her child birthing days. She was completely fine with that. Now that she’s a few years past 50, she knows pregnancy is no longer an issue for her. STDs still are, but she trusts that Dylan is clean. He is. So whenever they make love, they never use protection because there’s no danger involved. There’s no reason to. It makes their lovemaking more natural. And also more trusting.

By now the sun has completely set. It’s pitch-black outside. The only light in the room comes from the small fireplace fifty feet away. Still, it radiates enough illumination so that the two lovers can see each other clearly, but still leave enough mystery to the imagination. The romantic atmosphere couldn’t be more perfect, both of Dylan and Melanie observe together.

Melanie would never admit this aloud, but Dylan isn’t the most skilled lover she’s ever been with. He’s perfectly fine, but no one can ever match up to her third husband. That man was special in the sack, even though his money troubles and overall flakiness derailed their lengthy marriage. He, like Dylan, took his sweet time with her. He treated her like a Queen. Dylan also treats Melanie like a Queen, but Robert was incredibly intuitive in the bedroom. Dylan has required a bit of “coaching” throughout the years. By now, Mr. Tanaka knows what she likes, what she doesn’t like, and how to please her.

After gently placing her head against the pillow, Melanie lies on her back as Dylan trails more kisses onto her leathery skin. Melanie’s skin is as rough as Dylan’s is soft. Age, steroids, and muscle mass will do that to you. He doesn’t mind, though. She closes her eyes as his lips touch her most intimate areas. He can tell from the moisture developing between her massive legs that she’s ready. At last, after he can no longer take it, Dylan pushes his penis inside her wet entrance, little by little, until he’s fully inside her. They both gasp at the same time, as if their bodies were synced to react similarly together. Peggy may be the “size queen” of the group, but Melanie isn’t. She enjoys it whenever a man is inside her. Especially if she truly loves that man.

The heat emanating from their bodies could power a furnace. Between kisses, Dylan cannot help but groan as his manhood slides in and out of her. Like most Asian men living in America, he’s a little insecure about his size. Melanie has reassured him many times over the years that he’s perfectly normal. He believes her, but decades of teasing from cruel classmates can be hard to deprogram. Dylan has heard his fair share of racist taunts, as well as assumptions that can never seem to die off. His 5-inch penis certainly isn’t the largest in the world, but it’s not the smallest either. He’s just glad that he can say he’s a solid five inches without lying.

Stroke after stroke, thrust after thrust, Dylan’s breathing intensifies as he makes love to her. When their tongues connect, they can both taste tonight’s dinner on each other’s breath. Melanie smiles at him while she watches her lover build toward a dramatic orgasm. They don’t speak, instead choosing to allow the rhythm of his strokes to do the talking.

Dylan doesn’t want to confess the last time he ever made love to a woman. Has it been a full year? Maybe longer. Melanie senses it’s been a while for him. All she wishes is that he gets what he needs. She intuitively knows he needs this badly. She moans when his pecs slide against her taut nipples.

Finally, Dylan feels his climax impending. Heat, sweat, energy, and strong feelings of love, lust, anxiety, and insecurity all come to a boiling point the exact moment he spurts deep inside her. It goes on seemingly forever. Melanie just lays there, enjoying this moment on Dylan’s behalf. Their eyes connect. She smiles at him. He struggles to catch his breath. Sweat is dripping down his face. When he collapses on top of her, she wraps her strong arms around his toned body and squeezes him as tight as she can without hurting him. She could never hurt him. And she never will.

After ten minutes of pure silence, Dylan withdraws from her. He turns to his side and caresses her thick legs. Melanie playfully pinches his small sticky penis, licking whatever semen residue is left off her fingers. They choose to continue to not speak. The only sound that can be heard is the siren of an ambulance blaring in the distance.

The two lovers stare into each other’s eyes. They don’t talk, but the looks they share speak volumes.

***

Lawrence loosens the knot of his necktie once he believes no one will see him for the rest of the evening. It’s nearing 9:00 p.m. All seems to be in order. His boss and the three guests he’s entertaining are apparently upstairs, participating in some sort of hedonistic fun. He doesn’t know for sure and, if he’s being honest, he doesn’t particularly care. He’s not one for eavesdropping or gathering gossip-worthy material. Who would he share it with?

Right now he’s in the living room, gathering empty glasses of margaritas that have been sitting there for a few hours. Normally, Lawrence tries to keep every room in Mr. Tanaka’s house as tidy as possible, but he (rightfully so) anticipated the evening’s festivities could take unexpected turns. So he chooses to clean up after it appears everything has calmed down.

“Don’t mind me. I have a lot of cleaning left to do,” Henry says, poking his head through the door. Lawrence turns around to see Henry, still dressed in his chef’s uniform, smiling right at Dylan Tanaka’s faithful butler. Mr. Jameson is loading the dishwasher full of dirty plates, wine glasses, silverware, and a few pans. Lawrence resists the urge to ask him about the unusual way Miss Cole greeted him earlier this evening. Chances are, he won’t ever bring it up. Lawrence isn’t one for creating unnecessary confrontations.

“Excellent. I have a feeling Mr. Tanaka won’t be needing our services until the late morning. I will see you until then. Have a good night.” Henry nods to Lawrence. After loading the dishwasher, he pours a small cup of detergent into the slot, closes it, and turns on the machine for a “normal” cleaning cycle. Henry can barely hear Lawrence exit through the backdoor as the dishwasher begins to rumble. He looks up at the clock, waits for a whole minute to pass, and then scurries over to a nearby bathroom to change clothes. It’s doubtful that Dylan would be able to “entertain” all three ladies at once, so hopefully his faithful chef will score the chance to get in on the action. Mr. Tanaka is not known for being a greedy man, despite his immense financial wealth.

Outside, Lawrence trudges toward the staff parking garage. There are only four slots available, which is usually fine because it’s rare for more than three staff to be at the house at any given moment. Lawrence and Henry are regular employees, with Joey the landscaper showing up a few times a month and others less often than that. Mr. Tanaka will sometimes meet with his personal bookkeeper, a few professional arborists (all those exotic trees, many of which are not native to North America, won’t take care of themselves), a wealth consultant, a barber, and occasionally, his “personal trainer” who happens to be a competitive bodybuilder in her own right. The few guests who come over to use Mr. Tanaka’s home gym show up either via Uber or Lawrence escorting them onto the property. As Lawrence unlocks his car door and gets in, he reflects upon the mostly solitary existence his boss has to endure. Is it possible for him to have a more active social life? Can’t he find a part-time consulting gig somewhere? Certainly someone, somewhere would be willing to hire him. They don’t have to make a public spectacle out of it, of course. All of this loneliness can’t be good for his mental health, Lawrence worries.

“He’s allowed to enjoy a few pleasures in life,” Lawrence says aloud to just himself. “After all, what else would make life worth living?” Dylan’s butler ponders this thought – and many others – as he drives off into the night. He decides to stop off at a local grocery store and pick up a few items before heading home. As far as he’s concerned, the rest of his evening will be nice and quiet. What disturbances could possibly come his way?

Back in the house, it takes a grand total of five minutes for Henry to change out of his work clothes and into something more comfortable. He exits the bathroom wearing slick Gucci blue jeans (being Dylan Tanaka’s employee has its perks), a long-sleeve dark purple shirt, black shoes, and a modest gold chain across his neck. Henry keeps himself in decent shape, despite an insufferable potbelly that can’t ever seem to go away. No matter how much dieting and exercising he does, he can’t ever figure out how to eliminate the bothersome belly fat that doesn’t want to burn off. Mr. Tanaka seems to know how to stay slim – although Henry figures it has to be because of his Asian genes. That’s scientifically backed, right?

Yeah, probably not.

After taking one final look at the kitchen, Henry decides it’s in acceptable shape. The dishwasher is humming, the countertops are sparkling clean, the fresh fruits and vegetables are already precut for breakfast tomorrow, the coffee grounds are locked and loaded in the coffeemaker, and the dining room has been properly cleared and preset for the morning. He turns off the lights, takes a deep breath, rustles his hair slightly, and walks upstairs toward the guest bedrooms. The house boasts excellent acoustical design, meaning neither Lawrence nor Henry could hear the festivities happening upstairs in the cabaret room. Dylan’s top-notch chef hopes his boss will kindly allow him to join in on the fun.

Before he can get halfway up the long staircase, Henry sees Peggy Cole, still wearing her over-the-top Vegas showgirl costume, leaning casually against the top railing. Their eyes connect. Peggy has the largest grin on her face. Henry feels his heart almost leap out of his chest – as if their earlier encounter had instilled a Pavlovian response inside his brain.

“Oh, hello there baby,” Peggy flirts.

“Damn, girl! That’s one hell of a costume you’re wearing. How the fuck did you fit that feather hat inside your luggage?” Henry cautiously takes a few steps further up; almost as if he’s afraid Peggy’s feather outfit will magically form into a literal bird and attack him. His favorite porn star walks to him, twirls around, and laughs.

“Gee, I sucked you off a few hours ago and this is how you greet me afterwards?” Peggy unhooks her sparkly bra and throws it at Henry, freeing her enormous breasts. Miraculously, Henry catches it in mid-air. He sniffs at it, noticing Peggy’s distinguishable scent. It may not smell like fancy perfume, but as far as Henry is concerned, it might as well be. “Go figure. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, shouldn’t I?”

“Oh darling, you know I appreciate you and everything you do,” Henry says, trying to simultaneously walk up the stairs and feast his eyes on her bare breasts. “Especially what you did for me before dinner. Woohoo, that was quite an unexpected treat.” Once they stand face to face, Peggy wraps her strong arms around him, gives him the tightest squeeze she possibly could, and plants a wet kiss on his lips. The unmistakable taste of Altoids permeates his breath, which Peggy finds both charming and dorky. Henry figures if he were lucky enough to get intimate with his favorite porn star, he’d better practice good hygiene in the process.

“Shall we take this party somewhere else? Such as my bedroom? It’s not far from here. Just a few feet that way.” She points down the hall to the room where her luggage happens to be stored. All of Dylan’s guest bedrooms are spacious, well-furnished, clean, inviting, and as luxurious as any Las Vegas hotel suite. Every bedroom comes with its own bathroom and shower, plenty of closet space, dressers and drawers, a bed (obviously), and – most remarkably – a small kitchenette. It’s not quite a self-contained living unit, but it comes damn close. One probably wouldn’t want to live with just a tiny refrigerator (no freezer) and an oven with only two stovetop burners, but for a quick weekend getaway trip it’s about as close to living in someone’s studio apartment as one can get.

It takes no more than eight seconds for Peggy and Henry to hop, skip, and jump to their private bedroom. Unlike Dylan and Melanie’s intimate gathering one floor up, these two are in no mood for taking things slow. On the contrary, the moment the door slams shut the two of them are already ripping off each other’s clothes. Henry amuses himself with the thought of the uselessness of changing out of his chef’s outfit and into these “street clothes.” He supposes he couldn’t guarantee that this would happen – and that he shouldn’t have expected it to – but the thought of getting dressed just to get naked a few minutes later was something that he found funny.

Little did either of them know that at the other end of the hallway, Monique was watching them converse, kiss, and sprint away from spying eyes. Miss St. Martin is still wearing nothing but white lacy panties. She’s determined they are beyond the point of the evening where walking around the house naked (or near naked) would be discouraged. She probably could have entered the house naked and eaten dinner naked too if she wanted to be especially adventurous. It’s not like Dylan would mind. Or any of the other guests. Oh well. Maybe next time she can be so bold.

“Have fun, you two.”

Realizing she’s the only one without a partner – Lawrence is a nice man, but definitely not her type – Monique turns around and heads back to the cabaret room. She intends to take full advantage of the stocked bar Dylan mentioned. She thinks she’ll make herself an Old Fashioned, assuming there’s ice available. She couldn’t see why there wouldn’t be.

“Everyone’s getting some except for me…” Monique points out to herself. “The night’s still young, though.” Her boyfriend might object if she did anything unfaithful. Their relationship is already on rocky footing. However, he’s 3,000 miles away. And she suspects he’s strayed a few times here and there himself. That, if Monique is being honest with herself, is a reality she’ll have to deal with sooner rather than later. For tonight, “later” would have to suffice. She’ll cross that dreadful bridge when she gets to it.

Now it’s on to that Old Fashioned.

***

“Okay, gentlemen. Get packed. It’s time to go. Now. You have ten minutes to get ready. Get on it.” Stephen doesn’t raise his voice because he doesn’t need to. After a few hours of nervously fiddling around with their weapons, equipment, and photographs of Dylan Tanaka’s property, the whole group is on edge. They don’t need to shout when it’s not necessary. The time is to get serious, get prepared, and get ready for tonight’s little score.

“Yes, boss.” Roddy is the only one who verbally expresses Stephen’s command. Everyone else has scattered throughout the house, not in a mood to make small talk. Xander goes to the bathroom to pee one final time. Cortez waits outside the bathroom, wanting to do the same thing. Stephen has had his coat on all afternoon, which got irksome because of the hot, humid weather of Central Washington. But this was his chosen outfit for the evening, mostly because he could conceal his firearm inside it. A careful man who takes great pride in thinking through every possible detail, Stephen wanted to get accustomed to wearing the coat and holster so that when they arrived at Dylan’s home he wouldn’t feel awkward or too uncomfortable. He’s been “in the zone” since he woke up this morning. There’s no use getting out of character now. Not when so much is on the line.

“I’m ready,” Thomas says. Out of all of his men, Thomas is the one who has to transport the most equipment. A professional safecracker for several years – he’s lost track of how many – Thomas fashioned a suitcase and duffle bag to specifically carry his thievery gear. He learned from his mentor, a man who’s currently serving a fifteen-year federal prison sentence for stealing important documents from a local FBI office in Houston, Texas, that a professional safecracker should never just stuff their equipment into any old large bag and hope nothing breaks or wears down over time. Like a guitar case that’s shaped like a guitar to minimize damage to the instrument as it gets carried around, a safecracker’s instruments should also be transported in a case that’s specifically tailored to contain said instruments. It’s this level of ingenuity and diligence that attracted Stephen to Thomas in the first place.

“Ready, boss,” Xander acknowledges. Stephen sees Cortez right behind him. Roddy, the driver of the SUV, is warming up the car. The two hired guns go to their respective vehicle. Stephen locks up the safehouse, doubting anyone would dare break in. How ironic would it be if a house being used by thieves were itself broken into by other thieves? The thought made a mostly serious Stephen Callahan smirk to himself. Besides, there are advantages to choosing a place that’s almost in the middle of nowhere. Who would think to break into a place like this?

Once Thomas slams the trunk shut, he tosses the keys to Stephen, who then unlocks the doors of the Buick and gets in the driver’s seat. In the backseat is Stephen’s backpack, sitting inconspicuously beside a few candy wrappers and empty containers of takeout Chinese food. Despite his best efforts to maintain proper appearances, serving time in prison changed Stephen’s outlook on life. Never in a million years before prison would he ever tolerate allowing garbage to accumulate inside his car. But three years in a federal prison cell really changes your personal habits. You no longer care about cleanliness when the filthy stain of being a convicted criminal forever mars your once sterling reputation. That’s just one way that prison changed him.

“Are you ready?” Stephen shouts to the occupants of the SUV. All three men nod their heads. Roddy gives him the thumbs up. “Excellent. Let’s get moving.”

Thirteen minutes later a black Buick and white SUV are traveling 65 miles per hour down the I-90 freeway towards Seattle. The speed limit is 70 mph for cars and 65 for trucks, but Stephen doesn’t want to take any chances. Very few police patrol cars are around these parts. However, Stephen is at this moment as paranoid as one can be. And for good reason. He and the other vehicle are going fast enough to get to Seattle at midnight or so, but not too fast that they attract the attention of Johnny Law. That would be a major disruption to their evening plans. Both vehicles remain in the slow right lane during the entire commute.

Stephen and Thomas don’t say a word to each other during the long drive to Seattle. Neither men have any idea if Roddy, Xander, and Cortez are conversing in their car. Probably not. These men are all studious professionals. No need to waste energy on frivolous activities like making small talk or listening to the radio.

Now’s the time to get to work. This job is straightforward and should be fairly easy.

What could possibly go wrong?

***

Dylan doesn’t think he fell asleep, but he does know he closed his eyes and looked up at the alarm clock sitting on a bedside table and saw that 45 minutes have passed. It seems like only five minutes have passed, so maybe he actually napped for a solid 40 or so. Gosh, he’s such a stereotypical guy. Falling asleep right after sex? Yeesh.

He rolls over in the bed to snuggle with Melanie. To his disappointment, she’s not in bed with him. This prompts Dylan to sit up and investigate. A moment later, he sees the balcony screen door is slightly ajar. That must be where she is, he guesses. He then stands up, stretches his arms high above his head, yawns, and walks toward the source of a gentle warm summer evening wind sweeping into his bedroom.

Before he can go outside, Dylan stops dead in his tracks.

Wow.

Sure enough, Melanie is outside, as he suspected. It’s the sight of her that makes him freeze. Right before his very eyes, almost like an image out of a dream, is Melanie Wright standing naked on his balcony. She’s overlooking the lovely view of Lake Washington, deep in thought. But it’s the image of her that jumps out at him. She’s standing tall and proud, yet relaxed and serene. The way the bright moonlight illuminates her naked body is more picturesque than what any artist could ever conceive. None of the greatest painters could ever render an image this quixotic. They wouldn’t believe such an image could actually exist. But it does.

She’s tall. Authoritative. Powerful. Curvy. Feminine. Erotic. Mesmerizing. Captivating. She’s every word you can think of without needing to consult a thesaurus. The moonlight’s glow highlights every mound of muscle on her formidable body. Every curve, every muscle fiber, every heavy repetition at the gym is on full display right in front of him. He feels blessed to be able to witness it. Her body seems to be radiating, a gentle outer aura outlining her perfect silhouette. Her round butt. Her thick hamstrings. Her bulging calves. Her meaty triceps. The layers and layers of muscle mounds on her back. She’s a living poem. A sculpture conceived by a brilliant artist made of flesh and blood. She looks like an angel, not a human. To call her a human would be an insult to who she’s worked so hard to become. Dylan cannot breathe because the only thing he can do is marvel at her. It’s the only thing he wants to do.

In reality, Melanie Wright is deep in thought. She’s pondering her future. To be truthful, she figures she only has three to four years left of being a top-level elite competitive bodybuilder. Most of her new competitors are girls in their 30s and 40s. She’s 53, which isn’t old by the standards of her unique profession, but she can feel her age in her body. All these years of lifting heavy weights, taking steroids, eating large amounts of food, and traveling the world have taken its toll. She used to feel a sense of pride when she woke up every morning feeling sore from the previous day’s workout. But now, that soreness has transitioned into pain. Real, deeply felt pain. Her entire body hurts. All the time. No amount of painkillers will make it fully go away. It’s a reality she has to deal with every single waking moment of her life. It’s the new normal.

She started to notice it when she got into her mid-40s. She denied it at first, but after a while she could no longer ignore the fact that she’s getting older. And that means your body can’t recover like it used to. When she was in her 30s, she felt invincible. She felt like a true goddess. She believed she could do this forever, that she had no limits, that nothing could keep her down. Giving birth to children was a challenge. Raising them was another. But alas, Melanie Wright is not invincible. Deep inside her soul, when you strip away her muscles, she’s as vulnerable as any other fragile human being. Maybe that’s why she feels a keen connection with Dylan. He’s fragile too. And he does his best to maintain a strong façade. But even he has his moments of weakness. Hell, she witnessed it just a few moments ago when he tearfully confessed his love for her. Melanie still has not figured out how she’ll deal with that. How can she maintain her friendship with him without breaking his heart? She has no idea how to do that…and dreads having to eventually confront it. Like every problem that she’s ever faced in her life, there’s no way to delay the inevitable.

“What are you thinking about, dear?” Dylan asks. Melanie turns around to see him, standing behind her with innocent puppy dog eyes. He hugs her, then kisses her on the back of her neck.

“I was thinking about my future. About how long I can remain a bodybuilder,” she confesses. Dylan kisses her neck again. “I don’t know how much longer I can do this.”

“I understand. I get it. Have you made any decision yet?” Melanie shakes her head, not wanting to look at Dylan in the eyes. She may start to tear up herself if she did. Instead, she gazes at Lake Washington’s tranquil waters, admiring its remarkable stillness.

“Sort of. I think I have three, maybe four years left. You know, of being elite. I can still compete after that, but it would have to be in a lower category. Sheesh. When I turn 60, that’s when I’ll really start to evaluate my life. That sounds like a good round number. But I don’t know. My body aches. All the fucking time. Even now. My lower back hurts. My wrists hurt. My neck hurts. My knees hurt. My ankles hurt. My shoulders definitely always hurt. God, I hurt everywhere.” Melanie remains strong, refusing to break down in front of Dylan. She knows she can be vulnerable around him, but now is not the time for that. Now is the time for her to be as strong as possible around him. “Pain is a regular part of my life. It’s unavoidable. It’s unstoppable. Every time I squat or deadlift or do lunges, I feel like my bones are literally crunching. I’m crumbling.”

The only thing Dylan can do is listen. He rubs her shoulders now that he’s aware that they’re hurting her. He kisses her delts, hoping this wouldn’t cause her any additional pain. She seems at peace right now.

“So, I may quit earlier. I don’t know. I really don’t. Not now. I don’t want to think about that right now. And not just about quitting. I have other worries. Like surgery. I know I’ll need double knee surgery eventually. God, what an awful thing to have to think about.”

“You do whatever is right for you. I want you to be happy. You’ve accomplished so much. You can retire tonight and no one would look down upon you. Least of all me. You’ve done things that millions of people could only dream of. You will always have my respect, for all eternity,” he says. “You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met, with or without your muscles.”

This final compliment makes Melanie turn around to face Dylan. She traces a callused finger across his jawline. She can feel his stubble. Melanie knows she’ll burst out into tears if she didn’t do something to take her mind off of what’s nagging at her. So, she leans over, kisses Dylan, and picks him up. Dylan gasps when his bare feet lift off from the balcony floor. Melanie carries her lover back to bed. Soon, she plops Dylan onto the soft sheets and mounts him. The first time they made love, he was on top. Now, she’ll be on top.

Melanie wastes no time. She reaches down to stroke Dylan’s soft penis. It only takes a few caresses to get it hard. Then, she raises her massive body above him and slowly lowers herself onto his erect manhood. Once he is fully inside her, Melanie moves up and down as languorously as she possibly can. She’s lucky her leg muscles are strong enough to support her weight and maintain her balance. Dylan reaches out to stimulate her clit. This adds to her pleasure. Lightly pinching her hard feminine endowment with two fingers, he is committed to making sure she comes as many times as she desires this weekend.

Dylan leans his head against the pillow after the initial waves of orgasm rush through him. God, she feels so wet, so hot, so ready for him. Melanie feels the heat rising from their bodies. She’s convinced there’s more heat coming from the two bodies intertwined on this bed than there is in the fireplace that’s still roaring away. Melanie closes her eyes, trying to soak up every moment of this experience. She’s not sure how many more like this she’ll have with Dylan, so she better make it count.

“Oh God…” Dylan cries out. He’s not there yet, but he’s damn close.

Melanie also feels the built-up tension of her own climax looming. She didn’t come the first time they made love, so she’s committed to orgasming this time around. Dylan seems close, and she’s not far behind. It helps that he’s also stimulating her clit at the same time. Their delicate dance takes them higher and higher, until neither of them can hold back much longer. She tightens her vagina around him, hoping this final move pushes them both over the edge. He keenly notices her hotness surround him, beckoning him, breaking the boundaries between them.

“Ahhhhh!” Melanie gasps.

Miraculously, Dylan and Melanie climax together. This has never happened before. Dylan empties himself inside her, pulsating until his spasms come to a joyful end. Melanie’s vaginal muscles contract around him, adding to his sensations. She grabs Dylan’s wrist and pulls it away from her oversensitive clit, not wanting more stimulation at this moment. It would be too much for her. They stay like this for several minutes, Melanie truly wanting this moment to last forever. While standing on the balcony, she also came to the conclusion (and wisely chose not to say this to him out loud) that she’ll eventually need to break off their relationship. Not now, but soon. Meaning this could very well be the last time they ever make love. Ever.

So she wants to make it count.

The truth is that Dylan has gotten too close to her. In her heart, she knows that she also profoundly loves him. She doesn’t want to be hurt again and rush into another foolish marriage. Dylan genuinely touched her heart. That scares her. Frightens her. This is why she must break it off now until it becomes too painful for the both of them. And more pain isn’t something she needs in her life.

At last, Melanie collapses on top of Dylan. She doesn’t crush him but comes pretty damn close. Dylan doesn’t mind 215 pounds of woman being on top of him. There are worse ways to go. He looks over at the fireplace, impressed by how beautiful the flickering light of the flames fills the entire room with a pitch-perfect orange glow. Dylan never understood all the hype around fireplaces until this very moment. They do add to the romance, as he’s just joyfully discovered. He has no doubt that he and Melanie look like they belong on the cover of a romance novel.

“Now I really need to take a nap,” he confesses. Melanie reaches down to tickle his scrotum. She licks his right nipple, which sends shivers down his spine. “Well, that certainly will help keep me awake. Thanks for that.”

“I am to please.” Melanie moves on to lapping his other nipple. Eventually she stops fondling his scrotum and shifts toward rubbing his tired shoulders. It’s as though she wants to massage all of his emotional baggage away as if he were both symbolically and literally carrying heavy burdens on his shoulders. “You’d be a terrible host if you just passed out while your two other guests are wide awake, since they’re both hundreds or thousands of miles away from home. Besides, it’s not even 10:30. The night is still young.”

Dylan sits up, kisses her once more, and returns the favor by lightly pinching her nipples. She seems to enjoy it, closing her eyes to better drink in the sensations. “You’re right. I would be a terrible host to fall asleep before we got to even open the bottles of champagne. I’m pretty sure we have a few bottles chilling in the refrigerator. Henry and Lawrence should both be gone by now, so we don’t have to worry about our, uh, modesty, so to speak.” Dylan stands up and walks to the bathroom. It’s a surprise that it’s taken him this long to have to pee. Melanie stretches her arms out before getting up to close the balcony screen door. It’s not cold out, but that doesn’t stop Melanie from being concerned about wasps or flies (or worse, spiders!) getting inside the house. She doesn’t live here, of course, but she still feels a slight bit of responsibility to ensure Dylan’s home doesn’t get as unkempt as a yuppie bachelor pad.

As Dylan exits the bathroom – still naked – Melanie finally starts to wonder what Peggy and Monique are up to. Drinking scotch? Watching television? Staring at their phones playing Temple Run? One could only wonder…

***

“YAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSS! FUCK YEAHHHHHH!!!”

Peggy screams at the top of her lungs as Henry relentlessly pounds into her. No more than seven minutes earlier, Peggy and Henry were ripping each other’s clothes off inside the privacy of her guest bedroom. Now, their clothing (Henry could have sworn he heard something rip) is strewn lazily across the floor. It’s a good thing Lawrence vacuums the carpet at every chance he gets.

Just as Monique is hanging out by herself in the cabaret room making a cocktail, Peggy could not stop making out with this tall handsome black man who happens to be both a great chef and a loyal customer. Once they were both completely naked, Peggy raced to her purse to take out a condom wrapper. It was a normal type of condom, not an “Extra Large” packet that she figured a man like Henry would need. She gave Mr. Jameson’s penis a few sensual strokes with her hand, which was all it needed to fully wake up. Peggy then ripped the foil with her teeth, took out the oily piece of rubber latex, and rolled it onto his erect manhood. His claim that he’s a solid 7.5 inches seems accurate to her. Most guys lie about that sort of thing – especially the guys with whom she talks to during her webcam shows – but Henry isn’t a lying type. Besides, what’s the point of lying when you don’t really need to?

After sheathing him, Henry stuffed his face inside her plump breasts. He’s a “boob guy” and is not afraid to admit it out loud. Eventually, they found themselves on top of the bed. Laying down on her back, Peggy spread her legs wide open, inviting Henry inside. He did not hesitate to go in for the kill. After several minutes of pounding into her with no finesse or absolutely no inclination to take things slowly, he can feel his orgasm impending. Peggy also senses her vaginal muscles tighten in anticipation of a toe-curling climax. Sure enough, they both find the release they are looking for after Henry pounds into her one final time.

“FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! FUUUUUUUUUUUCK YAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!”

Henry and Peggy, like the other couple who were simultaneously making love one floor up, climax together. Henry curses like a drunken sailor as his orgasm drains all the energy from his body. It’s been a long day of running errands, prepping, cooking, cleaning, and waiting for his boss’s three distinguished guests to arrive. He needed some sort of release to burn off all the pent-up tension that was residing inside his body. Doing the dirty with his favorite porn star is exactly what the doctor ordered.

“God damn, baby. That was the best fuck I’ve had in a long, long while,” Peggy says slightly out of breath. While Henry was doing most of the work, she took it upon herself to provide the vocal soundtrack to their mating ritual. Well, they were using protection. That doesn’t mean they weren’t engaged in a mating ritual of sorts. “Good job, baby darling. I really needed that. Mama really, really, really needed that.”

“Really? I’m sure you get plenty of dick whenever you want it. But I appreciate the kind words.” Henry rolls over on his back, sweat dripping off his face. Peggy playfully slaps Henry on the chest to scold him for the implications of what he just said.

“Hold on, are you calling me a whore?” Peggy heartily laughs, clearly not offended. “You’re right. I do get plenty of dick. All the time. But I’m talking about good dick. Good, hard, thick, ruthless dick like yours. I don’t get that all the time. Most of what I get is pretty forgettable. But not you. I’m going to fantasize about this for a long time.” Henry has never heard his penis be described as “ruthless” before, so he’ll accept the compliment. He stands up to go clean up in the bathroom. Peggy watches with amazement at how quickly a man’s penis can go from being as hard as a rock to as soft as a pair of socks the moment after he ejaculates. She also cannot fathom why it takes guys 30 minutes (some older guys need upwards of an hour!) to get hard again. Why can’t men be more like women, who can keep going and going and going until they get tired of orgasming? What’s the deal here? Well, that’s why God invented vibrators, she supposes. They keep pleasing her until the batteries run out of juice.

After disposing of the condom, peeing, and washing his hands with plenty of soap and hot water (even after having sex, Henry still washes his hands like a professional chef who just handled a whole bucket full of raw chicken), Henry returns to the bedroom, only to find Peggy lighting a joint. She doesn’t smoke marijuana all too often, but it’s perfectly legal both in Nevada and Washington State (she purchased it at a pot shop close to Treasure Island in Vegas) so she might as well get high when she’s allowed to. She also has a small amount of cocaine hidden inside an empty tube of lipstick. The TSA agents never catch her with it if she puts the tube inside a small makeup purse. She doesn’t think she’ll snort it tonight (Dylan isn’t known to be an avid drug user since alcohol and muscular women are his vices of choice). However, one can never accurately predict the future.

“Want a hit?” Peggy offers. Henry nods his head, takes the joint from her, and inhales. “I’m lucky it’s legal where I live. It’s legal here too. But not everywhere. So I got to use my supply when I can. I’m constantly flying across the country, so I have to be careful.” Almost like a magical elixir, Peggy feels calmer than before. She could just be exhausted from traveling and getting pounded by Henry’s huge cock. But chances are the cannabis is doing what it’s supposed to be doing.

“I hadn’t thought about that. I don’t travel too much, so I don’t think about it. Plus, I don’t smoke that much. Mostly when I’m hanging out with my homeboys.” Henry returns the joint to Peggy. She takes one more hit before extinguishing the flame on an ashtray and putting it back in her purse. After letting the CBD do its thing, she gets up, closes the window (she doesn’t want the smell of pot to linger inside Dylan’s gorgeous mansion), kisses Henry on the cheek, and places her hands on both of his butt cheeks.

“Let’s go see what Monique is up to. I don’t want her to feel lonely.”

“That’s a good idea. Let’s go.” It is at this moment that Henry realizes he still doesn’t have his boss’s permission to be here this late, especially to hang out with his party guests. Mr. Tanaka is a pretty chill dude, so he can’t imagine he’d be upset at him. Still, it’s considered taboo inside the world of personal chefs to fraternize with your client’s friends without their permission. Henry knows a few chefs who got fired because of that. Let’s hope he isn’t breaking any rules so he doesn’t suffer a similar fate.

Several moments later Henry and Peggy walk into the cabaret room, still as naked as the day they were born. Monique is sitting alone at the bar, sipping on an Old Fashioned made of sugar, bitters, and Macallan 15; while checking her phone for unanswered text messages. There are a few to respond to, but she feels a bit too drunk to answer them properly. She turns around when she hears the doors open.

“Yoo hoo, Monique baby, are you here? We have another special guest with us. You remember the tall beautiful black man who cooked our dinner tonight…” Monique pokes her head around the corner to catch Peggy’s attention. She is surprised to see both Peggy and Henry are still stark naked, not even having the decency to put on a bathrobe or anything. And to think Monique at one point felt weird just wearing panties! She stands up to greet Miss Cole and Dylan’s talented chef. “Ah, there you are! Ooohhh, I see you’ve helped yourself to a drink. Goddamn, I could use one myself. Henry baby, are you an expert mixologist in addition to being a fucking great cook?”

Before he can speak, Henry awkwardly looks at Monique, noticing that she’s practically naked, while he’s fully naked. It seems strange at first, but Henry doubts anyone was under the impression that Dylan’s dinner party wouldn’t include casual nudity at some point. He’s not running a bed and breakfast for Benedictine monks, for crying out loud. Henry and Monique exchange smiles, which appears to be enough to break any embarrassing tension that may exist. Peggy, not surprisingly, dashes toward the bar to fix herself a simple rum and Coke. She opens the freezer to find a tray full of ice cubes ready for her to steal from.

“Good evening, Miss St. Martin. I see the fun has already started around here!” Henry jokes. Monique giggles at Henry’s attempt to put her at ease with humor. It works.

“Oh, it has. It sure has. We just gave Dylan a fun little show an hour ago, or whenever it was. It was delightful. You should have been there, Henry darling.” Monique returns to sipping her drink, trying her hardest not to look down at his enormous penis. Henry considers fixing himself something – an Old Fashioned sure does sound delicious right about now – but decides against it. Maybe later.

“I have no doubt it was amazing, and, uh, very entertaining. But I had chores to do downstairs. Those dirty dishes ain’t gonna clean themselves, if you know what I mean.” The Olympic athlete raises her eyebrows to communicate agreement. By then, Peggy returns from behind the bar and sits down on a bright red sofa. Unconcerned for her nakedness, Henry makes a mental note that he should tell Lawrence later this week to scrub the surfaces of every couch, chair, and barstool in this room. That would benefit everybody. Especially future guests. He’ll decline to provide an explanation, though Lawrence should have no problem figuring out why.

“You deserve a break, and um, a little fun,” Peggy says while sipping her drink. It is stronger than she had anticipated. This is a good thing. “Speaking of which, where’s Dylan and Melanie? Are they doing what I think they’re doing upstairs? Naughty, naughty!”

“Ha, it’s not like you’re so innocent yourself,” Henry reminds her. “You know what? I could use a drink. It’s been a long day at the office, if you catch my drift.” As Henry saunters over to the bar, all three of them hear the doors swing wide open again. This time, Dylan and Melanie walk through, hand-in-hand like old lovers, also completely naked. They also didn’t seem to think putting on something would be necessary. Dylan stops dead in his tracks when he sees his faithful chef approaching the bar, apparently ready to make himself a cocktail.

“Good evening to you all, thank you for letting Melanie and I enjoy some private time together,” Dylan begins. “Well, well, well. Henry! I’m glad to see you. Pleasantly surprised. I thought you had gone home by now. Who will feed your cat?”

“Oh, I think he’ll be just fine. Good evening, Mr. Tanaka.” Henry and Dylan also share an awkward moment of silence together. Both men have endlessly discussed their mutual love for female bodybuilders, however this love has only come in the form of casual conversations around the kitchen. They’ve never done any “intimate” activities with Dylan’s guests together, so this is certainly breaking new ground (for both of them). Sensing his chef is probably feeling more awkward than him, Dylan thinks it would be a good idea to verbalize his approval of him being in their presence.

“Good evening, Henry. I’m so happy you can join us! If you’d like, I’d love for you to stay with us for as long as you want to. You can definitely spend the night in one of the guest rooms if you don’t feel up to driving home. After all, you’re supposed to be back here in less than 12 hours, so you might as well stay.” Henry appears to be genuinely reassured by his boss’s kind invitation. This brings a smile to everyone’s faces. “I think we have a few bottles of champagne in the fridge if anyone is interested in popping a couple of corks of some bubbly.”

“Thanks, Dylan. Thank you for inviting me to stay,” Henry grins at Peggy. She puckers her lips to give him the “kissy, kissy” motion. Dylan, still holding hands with Melanie, could not help but look down quickly at Henry’s prodigious endowment. Dylan had no idea what Henry looked like down there. He didn’t want to stereotype, naturally (especially when enough people casually stereotype men like him), but one can be excused to just assume certain things are true whether they are or not. When men happen to be naked around each other – gym locker rooms are a prime example – subtly glancing down at another guy’s junk to see what it looks like is a common pastime. There’s (usually) nothing overtly sexual about it. It’s just casual research to see what other dudes are packing down there and how you compare to them. That’s it. Dylan cannot help but do the same in this scenario. He’s unsure if Henry is doing the same. In fact, he’d prefer that Henry not do the same.

“Damn, I feel a bit overdressed for the occasion,” Monique observes. “It’s like I stepped into a motherfucking nudist colony, or something!”

“I don’t know girl. Everybody here is naked…except for you!” Peggy scolds Monique. Feeling a combination of peer pressure and reckless abandon, Monique accepts Miss Cole’s challenge and strips off her white panties. The four others cheer her on. She tosses her underwear carelessly to the side, not giving a rat’s ass where it lands.

“Now girl, we’re really at a motherfucking nudist colony!” she announces. This elicits even more cheering from her compatriots.

“Between these walls of my humble abode, we might as well be in a nudist colony,” Dylan says while opening the refrigerator to take out a couple bottles of chilled champagne. As he requested, it’s a Bollinger Special Cuvée, just like his fictional hero, James Bond, would drink. After popping the corks and fishing around the cupboard for five tall champagne glasses, Dylan gleefully pours everyone a generous amount of bubbly. The image of five naked people, three of them muscular women, crowding around a home bar drinking overly expensive champagne must be quite an amusing sight for someone not familiar with the circumstances. Dylan decides to propose a toast.

“To friendship, great company, a better future, and finding your inner light,” Dylan declares as he lifts his glass above his head. The four others mimic their host. “We may not yet know the source of that light. That is for all of us to discover for ourselves. But rest assured. It’s there. Somewhere. We are all unique souls traversing through this rock in outer space toward an unknown destiny. May it be a good one. I think I speak for all of us when I say that we’re all fortunate to have been able to cross paths with each other. Deeply, profoundly fortunate. Cheers.”

“Cheers!” everyone repeats. Dylan and his four guests drink from their frothy glasses.

“Motherfucker, that’s some good ass shit!” Peggy proclaims. “Dylan honey, you know how to live life to the fullest. Yessssssir!”

Melanie wanders off to the A/V booth to turn on some music. Apparently, the jazz mix they started playing earlier for their performance had expired long ago. Dylan thought the music would play on a continuous loop, which apparently is not the case. She quickly searches through a playlist of Top 100 hits, selects a few artists, and begins playing it for all to hear.

“Oooooohhh baby girl! I love me some Missy Elliott! Get it!” Monique puts her glass down on a nearby table and starts to dance all by herself. Henry decides to join in on the fun. Melanie sashays toward Dylan, grabs his hand, twirls him around as if they were at a midwestern dance hall, and sways with him to the beat. Their chests join together, Melanie noticing Dylan’s heartbeat rapidly picking up the pace. They lock eyes, kiss, and continue to rock side-to-side to the song’s beat as Peggy joins the other two in creating a makeshift dance club right here in the cabaret room. Dylan feels Melanie’s firm glutes, which is enough to make his heartbeat quicken its tempo even more. How could it not? He wouldn’t be surprised if he got another erection right here in front of everyone. That wouldn’t be out of place for how the evening has gone so far.

If he were to get hard again, he and Melanie would certainly know how to deal with that particular situation. For now, he’s content to just enjoy the music and dance along with his four friends.

Little did anyone in this room know that this would be the highlight of their evening. The festivities would soon come to a crashing halt. Not yet, but soon enough. Unbeknownst to any of the five naked partiers in attendance was the fact that as they were dancing the night away, five armed thieves were caravanning over Interstate 90 at 65 mph with Dylan’s home as their intended destination.

All the King’s Queens – Chapter 6: Dinner and a Show

Leave the place cleaner than you found it.

These words are ingrained in Henry’s psyche. They’re practically his life’s guiding principle. It’s not enough to simply tidy up after yourself and make it look like you were never there. No, that’s not enough. You must also do a service to the people around you by cleaning, scrubbing, sweeping, washing, and dusting the whole place till it’s shining so brightly the room seems to be winking back at you. Tonight is no exception. Maybe he’s working harder than usual because he’s both super nervous and super excited to see Peggy again live and in the flesh.

“Heeyyyyyyyy baby!”

Henry, who’s huffing and puffing while scrubbing a roasting tray laden with sticky honey sauce, turns around to see where that voice came from. But he doesn’t need to investigate whose voice that is because he already knows.

Miss Peggy.

“Oh my Lord in Heaven, is that the voice of Miss Peggy I hear?” Henry drops the sponge in the sink and dries his hands with a towel. And sure enough, standing in the kitchen entrance wearing a crimson red V-neck dress that leaves very little to the imagination (especially her enormous breasts) is none other than Henry’s favorite erotic webcam performer. “Yes it is! I knew it was you the moment I heard your voice when you came in.”

“Hi baby. It’s been forever since I last saw you,” Peggy hugs one of her most loyal clients, then kisses him on the cheek. “I always look forward to our little chats together. It always makes my day.”

“Oh baby, tell me about it. Trust me, I’m waaaaaaay more excited for them than you are!” Still as professional as ever, Henry pauses his attempt to not focusing on Peggy’s boobs for a quick moment to turn off the stovetop keeping the garlic mashed potatoes warm. After another kiss on the cheek, Peggy roams over the oven to see what’s cooking.

“I know it! So, baby, what are you preparing for us tonight? It smells delicious.”

“On the menu are sweet and sticky braised short ribs, curried vegetables, classic niçoise salad, garlic mashed potatoes, and blueberry cream puff pastries,” Henry announces as theatrically as a TV show host. Slow-cooking tough cuts of meat requires braising them in a red wine reduction sauce for at least three hours, meaning Henry has been working his butt off in the kitchen nearly all day. Peggy acutely senses how much work her favorite client has put in to preparing tonight’s dinner. For that, she wants to reward him for his artistry, loyalty, and optimistic attitude.

“Sounds delightful! I’m sure Dylan is taking Melanie and Monique down to the wine cellar to select a few bottles for supper, so we have a few moments alone together,” Peggy kisses him once more, then gets down on her knees to unzip Henry’s pants. He looks around the kitchen for Lawrence, who seems to be out of sight.

“Oh baby, this…this is unexpected! This is, um, quite a way to say hello to a fella!” Henry shuffles his feet toward a large walk-in pantry full of canned food, spices, flour, breakfast cereal, and oatmeal. Peggy follows along on her knees, laboring to pull out Henry’s penis from his boxers.

“I aim to please.”

Finally, once they are settled in the pantry Henry closes the door behind them and switches on a lightbulb hanging in the middle of the small, cramped room. At last, Peggy frees Henry’s bulging length from his underwear.

“Ah! There it is!” Peggy exclaims.

“It’s been waiting for you, baby.”

The reason why Henry is Peggy’s favorite client is because of his most noteworthy and memorable physical asset: His prodigious member. Reluctant to fit the tired old stereotype associated with black men like him, Henry has always known that he’s unusual in this regard. Peggy has been with many men in her life of all races and ethnicities, so she knows the stereotype that all black men have big dicks isn’t universally true. But in Henry’s case, it’s as true as the sky is blue. During their webcam chats, Peggy genuinely looks forward to mutually masturbating with him because she loves watching him stroke his enormous penis as she rubs her clitoris along with him. Very few clients actually turn Peggy on (to be honest, most of her clients are overweight balding middle-aged men with zero sex appeal), but Henry is a notable exception to the rule. Watching his enormous member get hard, harder, and eventually spurt everywhere is something that Peggy dreams about. It gets her genuinely excited.

Henry may not be able to compete with her dear friend Kit Styles, but then again very few men in the history of the human race are able to. If the podcast scheme doesn’t work out with Kit, perhaps Henry would be a suitable replacement.

“I know it has. I know!” Peggy wraps her fingers around the base of Henry’s manhood and strokes it up and down. It instantly gets as hard as stone. Henry has told Peggy that his penis measures 7.5 inches when erect, a claim she believes 100%. He also claims that if he’s aroused enough, he can get up to 7.8 inches, which Peggy can also believe. A self-professed “size queen,” Peggy has seen her fair share of dicks in her life. Some big, some small, many that are average, and a few enormous ones that stand out in her memory. Henry’s is definitely in the “memorable” category.

“I wasn’t expecting this…” Henry drifts off as Peggy opens her mouth wide and takes in his manhood. Earlier today he was talking to his boss about the possibility of (maybe) seeing Peggy tomorrow afternoon just before everyone is about to leave. He had no idea Peggy would proactively seek him out and do…this.

“Ooooohhhh Peggy baby…” She grips the back of Henry’s knees and deep throats him as far as she can go. She gets more than ¾ of the way home until she begins to gag a little. But that doesn’t stop her from servicing the portion of him that she can. Henry’s eyes roll to the back of his head as Peggy’s experienced little mouth does its work. He can tell she knows what she’s doing and has plenty of experience to perfect certain techniques.

“Are you close?” Peggy temporarily gives her lips, tongue, and mouth a break. “Because I want to taste all of you baby.”

“OHHHHHH, yeah. Yeah, baby, I’m close…”

Before he can finish his sentence, Peggy licks Henry’s sensitive tip and resumes her work. A small gasp escapes from him as he struggles to stifle loud noises in case Dylan, Lawrence, or the other two ladies are within earshot. His manhood has grown hot, pulsating to its largest capacity possible. Peggy senses he’s near the end. She hopes he is. She’s been craving this moment from the moment she stepped off the plane.

“Oh baby!”

Henry knocks a can of tomato paste to the floor as he releases deep inside Peggy’s mouth. Five powerful pulses of hot semen roll down her throat. It’s a miracle he doesn’t collapse from the sheer ecstasy of the moment. Peggy obediently swallows everything Henry has to offer, circling her tongue around him in order to lap every single drop. He tastes like most guys. Nothing unusual or noteworthy. She hopes the supper Henry prepared will wash the taste out of her mouth. Totally spent, she pulls his manhood out of her mouth slowly and watches it drop innocently between his legs. She stands up to kiss him on the cheek.

“Oh yeah, baby. That’s one heck of an appetizer,” she teases him. Still in a trance, Henry smirks at her, unable to speak. “I can’t wait for dinner.”

“Y…you’re welcome, Miss Peggy,” he stammers. “I…I sure didn’t expect you to greet a fella like…like that.”

“Well, I am a woman of many surprises,” she quips while exiting the pantry. “I’ll see you later tonight after supper. Take care!”

And with that, Peggy casually strolls out of the kitchen toward the dining room as Henry remains standing surrounded by old boxes of Wheaties and linguine noodles, still in a daze. A happy daze, more specifically.

“Wow! What a woman!”

***

Sure enough, Dylan and the other two ladies also have taken a detour. They are off to the basement to select a few bottles of wine – and other spirits – to enjoy both during dinner and afterward. Dylan suspects Peggy went to go chat with Henry. He has no idea their “meet and greet” would transpire quite the way it did. So, the rest of the crew remains oblivious to what’s happening upstairs.

“Damn, this is an impressive collection,” Melanie marvels. She leans over the middle shelf in Dylan’s wine cellar to read the labels on the bottles. Not an expert on the subject, she selects a 2017 Chateau Ste. Michelle cabernet sauvignon for no reason other than the design looks pretty. Monique knows a bit more about spirits (her grandparents owned a liquor store in Cuba before the Castro regime deemed the establishment an unnecessary “symbol of capitalist indulgences”) and chooses a bottle of Glenlivet XXV for sipping after dinner.

“Thank you. I’m not exactly an expert on wine and spirits, but luckily I know people who are,” Dylan says while inspecting his collection. “Leave it up to those who know what they’re talking about, right?”

“Yeah, no kidding,” Monique says. “There’s no way I could train for the Olympics without a whole team of people telling me what to do.”

Dylan chooses a 2018 Columbia Valley Syrah, a 2017 Malbec, and an unopened bottle of Macallan 25. He is happy with these selections. “Sometimes it’s best just to let people tell you what to do. It makes life so much simpler.”

“True,” Melanie chimes in. “But you surrender a little bit of your, uh, agency when you do that. But maybe I’m being a little overdramatic.”

“Ha, yeah, probably a little bit,” Monique says. “I mean, I still decide how I train. It’s my life. But it makes me feel better knowing I’m not going at it alone.”

Dylan locks the sliding glass door (he technically doesn’t need to do this since no kids live in his home, but old habits die hard), turns off the light in the cellar room, and leads the way back upstairs with their drink selections in hand. On the way up, Melanie cannot help but notice a prominent painting of herself winning the 1998 Tampa Pro. Is it a painting Dylan had commissioned or is it a photograph that was made to look like a painting using a clever Photoshop filter? Melanie cannot tell which it is.

A few moments later, Dylan, Melanie, and Monique enter the dining room and find Peggy already sitting down and buttering a piece of toasted sourdough bread. She has the biggest grin on her face. Gee, does she like bread that much?

“Whatever Henry has in store for us smells great!” Peggy takes a quick nibble of her bread. “I literally can’t wait. What drinks did you get for us?”

“A few bottles of wine from local wineries and a couple of my best scotches,” Dylan announces with beaming pride. Peggy seems amused enough. He takes his seat at the head of the table. Melanie sits right next to him, with Monique and Peggy sitting next to each other on the opposite side. Lawrence has already lit the four tall candles sitting in the middle of the table – each candle representing all the people sharing this meal together.

“Thank you all for being here,” Dylan begins. “As you know, my life can get quite lonely. It hasn’t been easy for me these past few years, but I refuse to wallow around in self-pity.” His three guests nod along in silent agreement. Melanie gets a corkscrew and pops open all three bottles of wine. She pours everyone a short glass.

“Thanks, dear,” Monique whispers. “Self-pity is a terrible place to be. Trust me, I know what that’s all about. After my accident, every single day was a challenge. Not just physically, you know, but emotionally too. For real.”

“My life ain’t been perfect, but I got nothing to complain about too much,” Peggy says. “But damn, I feel both of you. For sure. That’s why you got us in your life, Dylan baby.”

“Oh yeah, do I know it!” Dylan fights the urge to cry.

“My career was able to recover from it, but I know a thing or two about having your whole damn reputation destroyed,” Melanie sips her Syrah, marveling at its fully developed flavor. “I still won’t ever forget the sick pit-in-the-stomach feeling I got while sitting in that jail cell. You know, in Budapest. God, I try so hard to forget that night. Worst time of my life.”

The room remains silent for a while. Lawrence quietly enters the dining room with a rolling cart with four plates of niçoise salad, more bread, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

“Good evening ladies. I’ve placed all your luggage in your rooms. Is there anything else you need from me?” Looking as dapper as ever, Lawrence tries to respectfully look everyone in the eye and avoid inadvertently looking at the conspicuous cleavage revealed in the three women’s choices of dresses.

“No, Lawrence dear,” Peggy says. Lawrence avoids looking at Peggy in particular, especially given the fact her dress doesn’t seem to want to contain her enormous breasts. While he doesn’t share the same “tastes” as his boss, Lawrence does appreciate a beautiful woman when he sees one. But he does whatever he can to remain as professional as possible. Even though he knows it’s not necessary. After all, Lawrence did in fact accidentally walk in on the sounds of moaning coming from inside the kitchen pantry. He immediately identified what the cacophony signified and quickly walked in the other direction. Mr. Tanaka’s esteemed chef and Miss Cole were obviously engaging in very “intimate” activities. Lawrence felt it would have been awkward for him to do what he had originally intended to do when he came into the kitchen: Check on the bread to ensure it wasn’t overcooking. Thankfully, it hadn’t.

“Excellent. The rest of dinner will be served shortly. Enjoy.”

“Thanks Lawrence.” Dylan nods at his loyal butler with approval. Lawrence nods back and exits back into the kitchen. “I think it’s safe to say we’ve all done things in our past that we regret. But what matters isn’t what we’ve done, but what we are doing now and what we will do moving forward. At least I think that’s the case.”

“I think it is,” Monique says. “What happens to us happens for a reason. I don’t know why, but I truly believe that.”

Peggy claps her hands in agreement. “Amen! Ya’ll know that not everyone I know and love approves of what I do, but I’ve made peace with that a long, long, long time ago.” Everyone has by now dug into their salads. Including Dylan, who is usually too nervous or self-conscious to enjoy a meal when in the company of a beautiful muscular woman, let alone three at a time. “I’ve never been happier. So, I win!”

“You certainly have, my dear!” Dylan agrees. Peggy grins.

“Making peace with ourselves is sometimes our only option,” Melanie quips. Everyone seems to agree with that.

After the second bottle of wine is completely finished, Lawrence finally brings out the entrées. Sweet and sticky braised short ribs (slow-cooked to make the meat as tender as possible), curried vegetables (inspired by Indian cuisine), and garlic mashed potatoes (as classic as you can imagine). By now, Dylan and his guests are a bit drunk – not too much, for the record – and have moved on to less dire subject matter. What does a group of bodybuilders (and one token fan of bodybuilding) usually talk about?

Bodybuilding.

“For years now I’ve tried to make my delts fuller. But I could never figure out how,” Peggy complains. “It’s like I’m genetically not allowed to have them. I’ve done it all. Bent-over reverse flies, chin-ups, standing shoulder press, hell, doing fucking kettlebell exercises for two fucking hours! Still, nothing. NOTHING! I swear, it never works out. Can’t figure out why for the life of me.”

“Oh sad. I’m pretty lucky in that area. Not sure how, but my delts are one of the best parts of my body.” Melanie demonstrates this by turning her back toward the group and raising both arms toward the sky. Monique almost chokes on her food looking at her impressive striations.

“Damn woman! You have muscles on top of muscles where I’m pretty sure they don’t exist on my body!” Monique exclaims. “Good for you.”

“Melanie has accomplished many things most of us could only dream about,” Dylan says. He runs his index finger along Melanie’s back to feel the full meatiness of her shoulder. “Wow. Impressive, indeed. How on Earth do you get this?” He knows he’ll have plenty of time later this evening to explore Melanie’s body, but he cannot resist it while sitting at the dinner table next to her. It’s a miracle Dylan has been able to hold out for this long.

“Not eating delicious food like this. Or drinking too much wine!” Melanie empties her glass, pours herself another one, and takes one final bite of her braised beef. “I obviously can’t eat like this during my training schedule. But in the off-season? Yeah, occasionally.”

Lawrence enters with the dessert cart. He’s happy to see everyone has loosened up, including his boss. Liquid courage will do that to you. Tonight’s menu concludes with a blueberry cream puff pastry. Henry let him try a few leftover scraps to get a preview of what everyone will be enjoying after dinner. Lawrence was not disappointed. Nor will the diners be, either.

“Lawrence dear, tell the cook that I’ve loved everything he’s prepared tonight,” Monique says.

“You can tell him yourself, Miss St. Martin. I’ll bring him out. He’s currently washing dishes, but that can wait until the morning,” Lawrence pats Dylan on the shoulder, which is his subtle way of asking permission to bring the chef out into the dining room.

“That sounds lovely,” Dylan says with approval. “I’m sure we’d all love to pay our compliments to the chef for the lovely evening we’ve had thus far.”

“Excellent. I’ll let him know he’s invited to make an appearance at his earliest convenience.” Lawrence disappears back into the kitchen. Henry is also an expert at preparing just enough food that you feel full and satisfied afterward but not overstuffed. Feeling too full is a great way to ruin the rest of your evening. Yet another reason why Dylan has kept him around for so long.

“This dessert is giving my mouth an orgasm!” Peggy exclaims. Monique blushes at this rather blunt description of a simple puff pastry. Melanie smiles. Dylan sips some espresso, trying not to laugh. He fails.

“Well, that’s definitely one way to put it!” Dylan says. Peggy doesn’t seem to hear what anyone is saying anymore. She has a sweet tooth that’s difficult to satiate.

“Hello lovely ladies!” Henry barges into the dining room. He shakes hands with Dylan. Melanie lightly rubs his shoulder. Monique waves at him. Peggy, now done wolfing down her dessert, gets up to give Henry a big hug, nearly lifting him off the floor.

“Baby, dinner was fabulous. FABULOUS! Goddamn, can this man cook!” Peggy lightly grabs Henry’s crotch and squeezes it, a subtle move no one seems to notice. Except for Henry, of course. “My highest compliments to the chef!”

“Thanks darling. I cannot believe how lucky my boss is right now! Look at this!” Henry gestures toward the group. Monique pretends to “tip her cap” to the chef. Dylan once again shakes the hand of his faithful cook as a demonstration of his appreciation. It may not be scientifically proven that delicious food is an aphrodisiac, but in this moment, Dylan can only hope that there is a semblance of truth to it.

“Yes, I am one lucky son of a bitch,” Dylan proclaims. “And you’ve truly outdone yourself, Henry. Dinner was remarkable. Perfectly prepared, all around.”

“Well, I have plenty of dishes to wash. Rumor has it ya’ll have got something special planned for Mr. Tanaka, am I right?”

“We do, yeah,” Peggy nods in agreement. “We’ve got a special little show in store for Dylan baby here. It’s going to be fucking fantastic. You should drop by after you’re done with your chores.” She kisses Henry on the cheek suggestively. By now, Dylan has caught on that she and Henry may start their own fireworks show sooner rather than later.

“Can’t wait. In fact, why wait? Come with me to the cabaret room!” Dylan proclaims as if he’s Willy Wonka inviting his guests to tour the mysterious chocolate factory. Yes, Dylan does in fact have a professionally designed cabaret-style room in his home. Modeled after a 1920s speakeasy, it contains a fully stocked bar, tall scarlet red curtains, cushy leather sofas, a small stage large enough for a few performers, A/V equipment, a modest light setup, and a Broadway-like spotlight at the back of the room. The room isn’t used terribly often, but when it is Dylan makes sure his private entertainers are given the best environment to showcase their talents.

“I cannot wait to see this!” Monique says to Melanie. She smiles back with equal anticipation.

Located on the second floor toward the back, Dylan leads his three guests up a gothic-looking spiral staircase. The guest bedrooms are also on this floor, which is convenient for everyone involved. Melanie, who’s seen the cabaret room before, goes straight to her bedroom to get changed. She realizes she’ll most likely spend the night in Dylan’s spacious bedroom, but that still means she needs someplace to put her luggage. She decides she’ll get dressed in her sexy little number as the host gives the other two girls a tour of the new cabaret room.

“I had this room specifically designed to look this way,” Dylan says, leading Monique and Peggy inside the cabaret room. “Before, it was basically a glorified library, or study, as you both may recall. But I wanted to do something special with it. And here we are!”

Both women are gobsmacked when they see the cabaret room in all its glory.

“Sweet mother of God, this is fucking fantastic!” Peggy slides her fingers down the scarlet curtains, admiring the texture. “I love what you’ve done here! Who did you hire to do it?”

“Some guy I know who used to work on Broadway. He’s now retired and does contract work for rich idiots like me.” Monique sneaks up behind Dylan to plant a wet kiss on the back of his neck. He turns around, smiling at her. She smiles back, placing the palm of her right hand underneath his groin. This is an unusually bold move for her, Dylan notes to himself. What’s going on?

“Do…do you like it?” Dylan asks.

“Oh, I hadn’t been looking around much, but yeah, you can say that,” Monique answers. “And you’re no idiot, darling. I remember interning with you.”

Dylan laughs. “Yes, I’m sure you do. That was just a figure of speech, my dear. Nothing more, nothing less.”

Monique gives him a coy look. Dylan continues to wonder why she’s in such a flirty mood today. Peggy is still amazed at the authenticity of the room’s design. It’s remarkably similar to performance halls she’s seen in Paris, New York, London, and Las Vegas. She even imagines what it would be like to shoot erotic videos here since she doubts Dylan would charge a camera crew for the rights to use the space. That’s a conversation she’ll have to have with him later. She makes a mental note of it.

“Girls! It’s time to get dressed and get ready for showtime!” Melanie yells from a distance. Peggy and Monique give each other a look. They turn toward Dylan.

“I think we’re needed. We promised that we had a little show prepared for you. So we must be off,” Peggy remarks as she leaves the room. This leaves Monique alone with Dylan.

“I totally forgot the bottles of booze in the dining room. Should I go get them?” she asks.

“No, that’s fine. This room has a fully stocked bar. I’ll find something to sip on my own. Go on and get ready with the others,” Dylan instructs her. Monique dutifully leaves, giving him one final flirty wave as she exits. Gee, what’s with all these sexual vibes she’s giving him all of a sudden? Monique is usually not like this. She’s in a stable relationship with a man who barely approves of her coming over for dinner dates like this. Has she broken up with him without telling anyone? Or is she drunk and not thinking straight? Dylan ponders these things as he investigates the bar and chooses an already opened bottle of brandy to drink from.

Fifteen minutes later, Dylan receives a text message from Melanie telling him they’re almost ready to go. About a week ago, she sent him a Spotify playlist with various easy listening jazz artists on it. Dylan turns on the computer located at the back of the room, logs on to Spotify, and begins to play it. The playlist runs for three and a half hours, so they’re in no danger of running out of music. Besides, it’ll just automatically return back to the beginning once it finishes. Dylan then turns off the room lights and cranks up the stage lights. He leaves the spotlight off, as it’s so powerful that it can be overwhelming if you’re not accustomed to performing in front of it. The bright Fresnel and floodlights hanging overhead are impressive enough. He has no doubt they’ll give the three performers all the electromagnetic exposure they need to be adequately seen.

The smooth musical score provides complementary ambiance without being distracting. Dylan sees a small flutter in the curtains, indicating the three ladies are now behind it. With a glass of brandy in hand, he’s ready for the show of a lifetime. Suddenly, a long supple leg sticks out between the curtain slit.

“Oooooh, I like this already…” Dylan mutters under his breath. He takes another sip of brandy, nearly coughing afterward. His heart starts to race.

Little by little, it is revealed that the owner of the supple leg belongs to none other than Miss Monique St. Martin. She’s now wearing a classy green satin V-neck dress that makes her the “belle of the ball” who would undoubtedly capture the heart of any Prince Charming. He can only imagine he could be so lucky. Monique struts to center stage, twirling her arms in the air like a ballerina. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I can see we have a full house here tonight, and I have every confidence that you’re all in for a real treat. I am your host this evening, Monique St. Martin. But you can call me just…Monique.”

“Hi, Monique!” Dylan calls out from his comfortable leather chair located right in the center of the room. Monique waves back at him. Her hair is pulled back so he can clearly see her gorgeous face. She’s wearing a little bit of makeup to accentuate her features but not too much that it becomes distracting. Her natural beauty is distracting enough.

“Hi, sugar pie! As you can probably tell, I am an Olympic athlete who plans to compete at next year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Can you tell how strong I am?” She gives the “audience” a double biceps pose, showing off her impressive physique. Dylan watches with amazement, then gives a silent nod of encouragement. Monique, seeing she’s properly captivated the crowd in attendance, removes her shoes (Dylan couldn’t quite figure out what kind of shoes they are) and does the spread-eagle splits with elegance and grace. It doesn’t appear to be challenging to her at all. “As you can clearly see, I take good care of my body. After all, my body is my life. And what puts food on the table. It’s my moneymaker. Can’t you tell?”

Once again, Dylan nods his head enthusiastically up and down. He refrains from verbalizing his enjoyment. “Well, I sure hope it’s obvious that I work out a lot. They don’t just let any old bum on the street compete in the Olympics.” Monique swings both of her legs forward, does a backward roll, and once she returns to her feet, performs a backflip in one sudden fluid motion. This causes Dylan to audibly gasp. She lands once again on her feet, bows to her audience, and gives herself a modest round of applause. The sound of Melanie and Peggy clapping from behind the curtain can be faintly heard.

“Whew! Not bad for someone who’s not a gymnast, huh?” This elicits a genuine laugh from Dylan and the two other ladies backstage. “So okay, I can do a few neat tricks like backflips and whatnot. But do you know why I’m actually going to Tokyo next summer? Any guesses?” Apparently, this is where she wants to solicit guesses from her captivated crowd. Audience participation, Dylan supposes.

“Uh, I think I can guess!” Dylan raises his hand. Monique grins. She points to her lone audience member sitting all by himself.

“Yes, sir! You there, the Asian guy with the crisp-looking necktie. What sport do you think I compete in? Figure skating? Track and field? The discus throw? Curling? What?” The curling bit makes Peggy chuckle from backstage, but not Melanie. Maybe it’s because Melanie actually lived in Canada for several years (with her first husband) before moving to Chicago to live with her second husband. There, she developed a genuine respect for curling. This marriage ended in divorce, but that didn’t end her love for watching curling whenever the Winter Olympics were happening. She understands why Americans scoff at it. That doesn’t mean she still can’t like it!

“Well, I will say something like weightlifting? I mean, you do have some impressive guns there, young lady…” Dylan points to her arms, which at this point do not need any further pointing out. Now it’s Monique’s turn to nod her head.

“Very good guess, sir! Ding, ding, ding! You are absolutely correct. I am an Olympic weightlifter. For my final act, would you like to see me attempt a lift?” Dylan has no choice but to say “yes.” He pretends to look around at his fellow attendees to see if they also would like to see Monique attempt a really heavy lift. It appears as though the hundreds of imaginary people sitting around Dylan all agree wholeheartedly.

“Great! This will give me the opportunity to introduce our next performer, Miss Melanie Wright!” Monique steps toward the curtain and lifts it up to allow Melanie to enter the stage. Unlike Monique, she’s dressed in a mysteriously elegant fur coat that covers her entire body. This coat must be enormous because Melanie has quite a substantial torso. She appears to be wearing heels and…well, it’s unclear what else she’s wearing besides the fur coat. Melanie struts around, waves to the entire “audience” as if there were thousands of screaming fans in attendance, and stands right next to Monique. The size contrast couldn’t have been more obvious. Melanie is much bulkier than Monique – and three to four inches taller, even though both of them are wearing heels – a fact that anybody with a pair of functioning eyeballs could see. Monique is your typical athlete who looks fantastic when she’s wearing minimal clothing but can easily blend into a crowd if she’s in a heavy jacket. Melanie, on the other hand, is unmistakably a professional bodybuilder who takes her muscle-building endeavors seriously. She looks like she can barely fit through a door frame. Whenever she rides in a car, it’s a miracle the tires don’t blow out. While she’s no bigger (in terms of weight, not sheer muscle mass) than a lot of male bodybuilders, your brain isn’t accustomed to seeing a woman that large. And her muscles are evenly distributed from head to toe. No one would ever think of her as being fat. She’s a marvel to look at, no question about it.

“Hi, everyone! My name is Melanie. How is everyone doing tonight?”

Dylan decides to speak up this time, just for the fun of it. “We’re doing great! Couldn’t be better. I cannot imagine doing anything else right now than being here, watching you lovely ladies do your thing.” He gives them a brief round of applause to show his appreciation for their willingness to travel away from their homes and come out all the way to Seattle (which some people consider to practically be South Alaska) to his not-so-humble abode. The two ladies currently on stage take a bow to acknowledge this kind gesture.

“Well, thank you so much for that rowdy ovation!” Melanie acknowledges. “So, Monique, I hear you have a special lift you’d like to attempt. Is that true?”

“It sure is! I will lift you up off the ground, place you on my back, and squat you for at least 20 reps. How does that sound!” Dylan can hear Peggy proclaim something unintelligible from backstage. It seems as though not even she was privy to what Monique had in store. Melanie acts surprised, but it’s clear she knew what the plan was all along.

“Hot damn! That sounds like quite a feat. You should probably take those lovely shoes off first, my dear.” Monique nods her head. One by one, she removes her heels and places them off to the side. She then does a little bit of stretching to get ready. Dylan doesn’t want to worry that she’ll reaggravate her injury, but he can’t help himself. The horrific scene at the Rio Olympics will forever be seared into his memory. How can anybody forget that? Just the image of the ambulance’s lights and the stretcher being carried out by a team of medics is enough to trigger traumatic feelings. Nevertheless, Dylan figures Monique wouldn’t do this (and Melanie wouldn’t have agreed to participate) unless she was confident that she could do it safely. This eases the tension somewhat.

“Good suggestion, girl. Can’t wait! I’m sure our audience can’t wait either.”

After stretching out her quads, bending down to touch her toes, and swinging her arms in a helicopter pattern for several seconds, it appears as though Miss St. Martin is ready to attempt her feat of strength. She takes a deep breath. Dylan holds his. Melanie loosens up by twisting her torso around in a circle. Monique quickly looks into Melanie’s eyes, then turns her head to look directly at Dylan. He still has not released his breath. The naughty smile on her beautiful face reassures him that she isn’t going to put herself in jeopardy. Finally, Monique bends her upper body toward Melanie, grabs her left knee with her right hand, places her left hand underneath Miss Wright’s armpit (Melanie kindly places her left arm around Monique’s back), and lifts Melanie off the ground. Dylan’s mouth drops agape. Now, Melanie is completely resting on top of Monique’s back. Melanie lets out a quiet gasp after she finds herself completely parallel to the ground. Monique has still not made any noise, as if this whole stunt were totally normal. As if she does this sort of thing all the bloody time.

“Alright, time to show you all how strong my quads are!” Monique brags. “Are you ready?” She receives no audible response from anyone.

And sure enough, she bends her knees almost all the way to the floor and powerfully lifts them back up. One rep. It looks as though she isn’t even breaking a sweat. And…Dylan must keep in mind that she’s doing this all in a dress! Then she proceeds to do two reps. Then three. Then four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight…

The entire time Peggy is screaming “Go girl, go!” from backstage. Dylan wants to join in on the raucous cheering, but something compels him to just sit there like a respectful audience member. It must be his Japanese heritage that forces him to be quiet when other people have the spotlight on them (metaphorically speaking). Nine reps. Ten reps, eleven reps, twelve reps, thirteen reps, fourteen reps – by now, Dylan’s concern for Monique’s safety has shifted toward being genuinely impressed by her strength, balance, and endurance – fifteen reps, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one (she promised at least twenty repetitions, so from this point on everything else is just gravy on top), twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four…

It’s obvious that Monique is finally getting tired. So, she’s human after all. She attempts one more rep and then decides to quit.

Twenty-five!

After achieving five more reps than her initial goal, Monique gently puts Melanie down to the floor, ensuring she doesn’t slip and fall. Melanie appears to be just fine. Monique is now dripping sweat, which is also a product of standing under these hot stage lights for several minutes. She gives her audience a bow, which prompts Dylan to respond with an enthusiastic standing ovation. It’s the only thing he can do to demonstrate his appreciation for her performance.

“Wow! That was quite a ride,” Melanie exclaims. “Unbelievable!”

“I hope you don’t get motion sickness easily…” Before Melanie could respond, Monique slides the straps on her dress off her shoulders, dropping the green piece of fabric to the floor. She kicks it aside. Wearing nothing but a bright white pair of lacy panties, the Olympic goddess gives Dylan a triumphant pose, lifting her fingers toward the heavens as if an angel delivered her onto this earth. Monique’s small, flat breasts are outshone by her remarkably wide areola and inch-long nipples, which are standing at full attention. Dylan could only imagine what it would be like to circle his tongue around her long, thick nipples.

Monique gives her audience one final bow before slowly exiting the stage through the curtain. She soaks up every minute of her allotted stage time. Melanie stays behind, pretending to fan herself with her right hand. “WOW! Well, that girl sure knows how to put on a good show, am I right?” Dylan verbally responds in agreement. “Not sure how I can follow that up, but I’ll try…”

The music continues to play, which Dylan almost forgets is still on. He’s too distracted by the shenanigans going on onstage to pay attention to the ambient noise. Still wearing her enormous fur coat, Melanie walks downstage from left to right, teasing her audience of one, forcing him to guess what’s about to happen next. “As you can probably tell, I am a woman of mystery. I don’t like to reveal too much about myself unless it becomes absolutely necessary. I suppose it’s a product of my life experience, of the paths I’ve had to cross over the years.” Expressing more melancholy emotions than expected, Dylan isn’t quite sure where Melanie is going with this. “But that’s about to change right now. You folks are in for a real treat. As you may or may not know, I am a professional female bodybuilder. I love women with big muscles, don’t you?”

“Oh hell yeah!” Peggy yells from offstage. Dylan cannot help but smirk at her eagerness. He decides to remain silent and let Melanie do her thing uninterrupted.

“Thank you, baby. I appreciate your enthusiasm,” Melanie quips. “Society isn’t always open to seeing a woman with big muscles. Some people say it’s gross, or unfeminine, or too masculine, or unnatural. They say a woman shouldn’t look like that. That looking like that will turn folks off to her. Ouch. What do I think of that, you may wonder? I say we need to ignore the haters. After all, what have they ever accomplished in their lives?”

“Nothing!” Monique shouts from behind the curtain. Melanie smiles.

“That’s for damn sure. But I don’t believe that. Not for a second. And if anyone out here tonight feels the same way, that a woman with big muscles can’t be sexy, desirable, and majestic, well, prepare to have your mind blown!”

And with that, Melanie takes off the fur coat, dropping it to the floor with more pomp and circumstance than is necessary. But none of that matters because of what is revealed to have been hidden underneath that coat: A world-class muscular physique. Dylan’s heart almost leaps out of his chest when he regards her. There she is, in her full glory, right on display underneath the bright lights, exactly how she’s meant to be seen. Wearing a cute pink sparkly competition bikini, Melanie stands tall and proud, ready to show off her decades of hard work. She flexes both biceps, making sure all 18 inches are seen in full view (in actuality, her right bicep is 18 inches while her left one is 17.75 inches, but who cares?). Melanie turns to the side and hardens her meaty triceps. So full, so thick, so meaty. Dylan is in a trance-like state at this point. He feels his erection straining against his underwear. Next, she turns away from the audience to showcase her broad back, wide shoulders, and round butt. Indeed, it’s a mystery how she can fit through doors. She’s as wide as a truck but as graceful as a figure skater. Finally, she turns around again, takes a deep breath, and bounces her quads. Nearly 30 inches in diameter, even for a top-level competitor, Melanie’s thighs are famous throughout the industry for their girth, fullness, and ability to “bounce” on command. Her muscle control is also famous among people who pay attention to these things. Dylan definitely knows this. Henry also knows this. Melanie definitely knows this and revels in it.

Melanie proceeds to show Dylan all the standard bodybuilding poses: abdominal and thigh, front double biceps, front lat spread, side chest, side triceps, rear lat spread, rear double biceps, and the classic “most muscular” pose (which basically means a final pose where you get to show off all your front muscles from top to bottom). She’s a real pro, which one can tell by how seamlessly she can transition from one pose to another. Going in a whole circle, she makes sure no inch of her immaculate body is left unseen. Dylan has seen Melanie’s body many times before – including fully nude, which he expects to see again later this evening – but this time it’s different. Perhaps it’s because he hasn’t seen her in a long time. Maybe it’s because of the dreary funk he’s been in during the past several weeks. But at this moment, in this exact moment in time, Melanie has never looked better. And he’s not sure he’s ever witnessed a more beautiful woman. This means something, considering Monique St. Martin was just on stage a few minutes earlier. Monique looks like a finely chiseled athlete. Melanie, on the other hand, looks like a beast. A monster. A giantess. She looks like she was carved out of stone. She cannot possibly be from this earth, but she is. She’s a real flesh-and-blood human being as far as anyone can tell. It could also be the lighting that’s doing the trick. Stage lighting (especially good stage lighting coordinated by a professional designer) can make any normal human being look…ethereal.

But Melanie is far from a normal human being, with or without the stage lights cascading onto her gorgeous body. She may not have Monique’s natural beauty, but Melanie’s flawless physique more than makes up for it. In fact, her physique makes her a one-of-a-kind, a once-in-a-generation athlete. There will never be another Melanie Wright ever again.

“So…do I have your attention now? Are you still unsure if a woman can still be sexy, curvy, feminine, and undeniably hot with all these big muscles?” Melanie asks these rhetorical questions without expecting an answer. She knows the answers already. Everyone in this room does. Especially her host sitting all by himself in the house. He knows better than anyone.

“I hope this was an educational experience for you all. This is proof, once and for all, that muscles don’t make a woman look like a man. They make her look more like a woman!” With that, she strikes a final pose (similar to the Broadway-style pose Monique did earlier) and waits for applause. Dylan and the two other ladies backstage are more than happy to give it to her. And they do with cheerful enthusiasm.

“Wow! Bravo! Well done! You are so magnificent, so beautiful!” Dylan bellows.

“Thank you darling. Thank you all!” Just as Melanie is about to leave the stage, Peggy barges on stage wearing the most ridiculous costume imaginable. Dressed like a Las Vegas showgirl, she has a bright red feather hat that must be at least three feet tall and five feet wide, a scarlet-colored bikini with shiny sequins all over it, and matching scarlet stiletto shoes. Peggy wears long silver gloves that go up to her elbows, gold hoop earrings, a diamond-encrusted necklace that Dylan hopes isn’t actually real (for the sake of accidentally losing it at the airport), and enough makeup to supply an army of Beverly Hills housewives. “Over the top” would be an understatement. Melanie giggles as she leaves the stage.

“Hi baby! How are ya’ll doing out there tonight?” Dylan whoops and hollers, which isn’t usually his style, but it feels right for the occasion. “I can feel the love in here, oh yes I can. For the finale of tonight’s entertainment, it seems like we need to add some spice in the air, don’t you agree?”

“Yeah!” Monique and Melanie shout in unison.

“And if you need to heat things up, I’m your gal. Now, you might be wondering what it is that I have in my hand here…” Peggy coyly asks. Dylan was so focused on her outfit that he completely didn’t notice that Peggy entered the stage carrying a long black object. What was it…?

“This, my darlings, is a little friend of mine. Or shall I say, a large friend of mine?” Dylan is finally able to see that Peggy is carrying around an enormous black dildo, probably anywhere between eight to 10 inches long. When Peggy ordered it from Amazon.com several months ago, the manufacturer said it was a solid 12 inches long. When she unboxed it and measured it, it turned out to have been about 10.5 inches. Sort of a case of false advertising, but Peggy was too lazy to return it and demand a refund. Instead, she kept it and added it to her collection of naughty paraphernalia. As a professional erotic webcam performer, Peggy Cole must constantly replenish her stock of sex toys so that her audience doesn’t get bored of her act. It’s both exhilarating and a chore, a contradiction Peggy embraces.

By now, Dylan sees Monique and Melanie reenter the stage by sneaking on from the right-hand side. They’re standing off to the side, just as curious as Dylan is as to what stunt Peggy has planned. “This thing here is a good friend of mine. We’ll call him Jerry. Now, Mr. Jerry and I are closely acquainted. He’s long, he’s thick, he’s hard as a rock, and he stays hard forever and ever. Now, you ladies can sure appreciate someone like that, am I right?” Monique and Melanie improvise words of approval. Between servicing Henry earlier today and eating the mouthwatering dinner Henry had prepared for the group, Peggy is in an especially erotic mood. Good food, good wine, good friends, and good cock are guaranteed to get her horny. Already dripping wet down there, Peggy prances around the stage until she decides to sit on the front edge. She licks the tip of the dildo as vivaciously as one could possibly lick a piece of lifeless polyvinyl chloride.

“Mr. Jerry wants to come out and play. I think that would be a wonderful idea, don’t you all agree?” Her mesmerized audience verbalizes their opinion on the matter. “I’m feeling really, really, really horny right now. Why? Well, because I’m always horny!” She laughs to herself. No one laughs back, but that doesn’t seem to stop Peggy from enjoying herself. “So to release this pent-up tension that’s inside me, I figured I should ask Mr. Jerry for assistance.”

Peggy spreads her legs out wide. She removes her bikini bottom with the poetic ease of an experienced professional striptease artist. Which makes sense considering that’s one of her side gigs. Then, she tosses it into the crowd, hoping it lands close to Dylan. It does. Dylan leans over to pick it up. Sure enough, it’s soaking wet. This makes him chuckle. But when he looks up, what he sees next takes his breath away. Little by little, inch by inch, Peggy inserts the comically large black dildo inside her vagina, moaning softly along the way. Nobody could tell if she’s faking it or not. The box says it’s 7 inches in circumference, which Peggy has surprisingly never bothered to measure. It takes a while, but at last, Peggy manages to stuff the entire thing inside her vagina, a feat that the other two ladies are witnesses with a combination of shock and disgust.

“Hot damn! Isn’t that painful?” Monique whispers to Melanie.

“Well, she doesn’t look to be in pain. But I hear you. Holy shit…” Melanie responds.

While it seems like Peggy is grimacing in pain, Dylan can see a genuine smile spread across her face. Finally, she begins to slide the dildo in and out of her moist entrance. It’s slow at first, then becomes quicker as she builds up more natural wetness. Peggy made sure to cover it with enough lube jelly to make this stunt as painless as possible. She considers herself to be a bona fide “size queen,” but at her age she needs a little bit of assistance. Especially when dealing with a brand-new dildo as large as this one. As she masturbates for her audience, Melanie and Monique slowly creep up closer to inspect Peggy’s performance.

“Oh, baby, oh yes. This is what mama likes. This is what I like, baby doll.”

Dylan cannot sit still in his chair. By now, he’s actually afraid he might come in his shorts. It wouldn’t be the first time. His penis is as hard as rock and desperate for release.

“You like this? Does this turn you on? It’s turning me on, that’s for damn sure,” Peggy whispers to anyone willing to listen. “I like it big and hard, like Mr. Jerry here. Ohhhhh, baby…” A veteran masturbator, Peggy has never used this particular dildo before in public. During her cam shows, she’ll use all sorts of sex toys on herself. Vibrators, bullets, wands, beads, butt plugs, sex machines, clit toys, you name it. If it’s out there, she’s done it in front of her high-definition 4K webcam. But this toy is one she was saving for a special moment.

“Oh God, I’m going to come! Right all over this fucking floor. Do you want to see that? Do you? Oh, I’m soooooooooooo fucking close!” Dylan knows what’s about to happen. He’s seen her do it on her shows, but never live in-person. So this should be a treat. He’s not sure if Monique and Melanie have any clue as to what’s about to happen…

“OH FUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!”

Peggy quickly pulls the dildo out of her vagina, spreads her legs as wide as they can go, and squirts three large spurts of milky white fluid out of her urethra. It travels almost three feet in front of her, making a small mess on the carpet. But that’s the least of Dylan’s worries. Peggy screams at the top of her lungs, writhes around violently, then collapses onto her back. A few more shudders travel throughout her body as her orgasm subsides. It must’ve been a powerful one. Maybe one of the most powerful ones she’s ever experienced.

Monique and Melanie are stunned. Obviously, they had no idea what Peggy had up her sleeve!

Dylan falls to the floor, applauding like a madman who’s just listened to the London Symphony Orchestra perform the climax of Beethoven’s 9th. Instead, he just watched Peggy perform a different sort of climax, but one much wetter and messier. For anyone who watches Peggy Cole’s cam shows (Dylan and Henry know this very well), she is infamous for being a prolific ejaculator. She’s convinced that she’s the best in the world. Nobody in the porn industry can do it better than her. No guy, no gal, nobody. She can launch her female ejaculate farther than anyone else on planet Earth. She may not squirt as much volume of liquid as others, but in terms of distance traveled, Peggy Cole is peerless. Unmatched. Unchallengeable. Undisputed.

If you need scientific proof that “female ejaculation” is a real thing, go introduce yourself to Miss Peggy Cole. She’ll persuade you in an instant that yes, it is in fact a real thing.

After several moments of catching her breath, Peggy gets up and beckons the other two ladies to join her. She puts the dildo down on the floor, joins hands with her compatriots, and takes a theatrical bow to their appreciative audience. Dylan gives them a rousing standing ovation, thanking them for their splendid show. Monique’s eyes widen when she sees how far Peggy’s “girl cum” shot out.

“Holy shit, girl. What the fuck was that? Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn!”

“I have special talents that nobody else can match,” Peggy brags. Monique doesn’t say anything because she doesn’t need to. She agrees wholeheartedly.

“Thank you for attending tonight’s performance! Don’t forget to tip your waitress. Drive home safe,” Melanie announces. Dylan stops clapping and runs toward his three guests. Monique jumps off the stage and gives him a warm embrace. Peggy kisses him all over his face, not letting him get a word in. Meanwhile, Melanie is inspecting the mess Miss Cole left behind.

“Sweet Jesus,” she mutters to no one. The milky white fluid on the floor looks like someone spilled a bottle of hand soap everywhere.

The music is still playing. The lights are still shining. And the evening has just gotten started. Dylan looks up at a nearby wall clock and sees it’s currently 8:49 p.m. The night is still young!

“Wonderful, ladies. Splendid. Holy shit, you surprised me. I didn’t know what to expect. But what I got was better than I could’ve imagined.” Dylan kisses Melanie on the cheek. She kisses him back on the lips. Her kiss is deeper and more meaningful than their first kiss. He knows it. Peggy and Monique know it. Everyone knows it.

“The show isn’t over yet. Are you in the mood for an encore?” Melanie unbuttons the top of Dylan’s shirt, then kisses his neck. Peggy growls. Monique can only stare in silence. Without needing to say a single word, Melanie grabs Dylan by his wrist and leads him toward the exit.

“We’ll see you two later. Bye!” Melanie says as she and Dylan leave the room.

Nobody moves for a moment. Finally, Monique turns to Peggy with an exasperated look on her face.

“Seriously, though. How the fuck did you do that?”

As they tidy up the room for the next few minutes, Peggy cannot stop laughing. Neither can Monique.

All the King’s Queens – Chapter 5: Meet and Greet

No matter how many hundreds of times Dylan has invited a female bodybuilder over to his home, he always gets butterflies in the stomach right before she arrives.

For the first time ever, he’s hosting three beautiful ladies all at once, which only adds layers upon layers to his current state of anxiety.

Before becoming a social pariah, Dylan frequently hosted dinner parties with high-level Perseus Analytics executives, lawmakers, media personalities, celebrities, athletes, and friends (the ones who didn’t object to his work with the U.S. military and government). But since then, these kinds of gatherings have become few and far between. In his estimation, which Lawrence confirmed recently, his last dinner party was more than a year ago. He was celebrating his older brother’s 40th birthday party with nearly three dozen guests – his parents and three surviving grandparents among them. Nothing too crazy happened (he comes from a Japanese-American family, so the bar for “craziness” is set pretty low) and it was a nice reminder of a time when life seemed normal. For Dylan, those days are getting further and further away. There was no talk about his past scandals, dead civilians in the Middle Eastern, or controversial government contracts. It was great.

Right now, Dylan is pacing around his living room, pretending to be looking at a picture book sitting on the coffee table. The photographs of boathouses in Maine, beaches in the Florida Keys, and horse stables in Utah are pretty to look at – but he’s not interested in them at the moment. Dylan estimates he’s burned at least 500 calories just pacing back and forth. Perhaps this should be the start of a new workout routine.

For security reasons, non-employees aren’t allowed to bypass the front gate without requesting access. There’s a callbox right outside the gate that visitors can use to communicate to someone on the inside. There are transistor radios strategically placed throughout the house, with a security room located on the second floor. This makes it easy for Dylan or Lawrence to speak to and let in visitors. Once the gate has been opened, they can go park on the driveway. Lawrence, Henry, and Joey have their own keycards so that they can come and go as they please. Uber/Lyft and taxicab drivers must instead drop off their passengers at a nearby public park (a dog park that’s mostly used for pooping and scooping purposes) and either walk up to the gate to request permission to enter or wait for Lawrence to personally escort them to the house. It’s rather bothersome when a large number of guests come over, but that’s the way it is. Being a billionaire has its drawbacks (in addition to a few perks). The dog park runs along several blocks of 43rd Avenue, with Dylan’s home located at the end of Winchester Drive.

“I just got a text from Miss Wright. Her driver is about a mile away from here. I’ll pick her up shortly,” Lawrence informs his boss. Still pacing around the living room, Dylan turns toward his loyal butler and smiles.

“Thanks Lawrence. I’m guessing Monique shouldn’t be too far behind,” Dylan says. “We’re expecting Peggy to be the last to arrive, yes?”

“That is correct, sir. She’s estimated to arrive shortly before dinner.” Lawrence knows his boss is nervous as hell. It’s obvious to anyone observing his behavior. The butler usually ignores this and pretends like everything is normal. He hopes this sense of “normalcy” will help put Mr. Tanaka’s mind at ease.

“Great. Thanks. Go ahead and wait for Melanie to arrive.” With that, Lawrence turns around and walks to the garage. Dylan finally sits down to calm his nerves. He doesn’t know why, but he feels an extra amount of anxiety at the moment. Which is perplexing, considering how excited he should be feeling instead. He’s about to spend quality time with three of the most beautiful women he’s ever met. This opportunity doesn’t present itself all the time. Perhaps that’s why he’s feeling so anxious.

He looks at the living room liquor cabinet, eyeing an unopened bottle of Glenlivet 25.

“Is it too early to drink?” Dylan asks himself. He looks at his watch. The time is 1:38 p.m. A single drop of sweat rolls down his cheek. His pulse is racing. He’s out of breath, even though he hasn’t been running.

“No, it’s not.”

***

Five minutes later, Lawrence is sitting in his red 2019 Toyota Avalon right next to the dog park, listening to the radio. At first he was listening to some random bozo complain about the Seattle Mariners bullpen. Was Henry complaining about that earlier this morning? Lawrence thinks so. Now, he’s listening to some Ariana Grande song. Lawrence has vaguely heard of her. He’s pretty sure she’s young enough to be his daughter.

Or granddaughter. Who knows?

Buzzzzzzzzz!

Lawrence’s phone starts to buzz, indicating an incoming text message. He checks it. Sure enough, it’s from Miss Wright. It reads:

“Hi Lawrence sweetie! I’m here. What are you driving?”

Before he can respond, Lawrence notices in the rearview mirror the figure of a large, shapely woman wearing a sleeveless blue polo shirt, white skinny jeans (which leave no doubt that she never skips leg day), and black platform boots. It would be difficult not to see her. She appears to be walking toward the car but still looking around for her ride. Just as she comes a bit closer, Lawrence lightly taps on the horn to alert her to his presence. She immediately spots the Avalon just ahead of her. The butler pops open the passenger side door.

“Greets, Miss Wright. How was your flight over here?” Keeping his composure and professionalism, Lawrence tries his hardest not to stare too long at Melanie’s broad shoulders, bulging biceps, or massive quads. He may not share the same “tastes” as his boss, but Lawrence knows a beautiful woman when he sees one. Even if she’s “non-traditional.” And he is without question in the presence of one fine looking lady.

“It was fine, just any other flight,” Melanie says while stuffing her luggage in the back seat. “I landed safely and didn’t get motion sickness, so that’s a bonus!” One disadvantage of being such a large woman is that it can be incredibly difficult for Melanie to get into cars. Her enormous frame forces her to uncomfortably contort herself as she bends over, enters the vehicle, sits down, and pulls the seatbelt over her massive torso. It stretches to its furthest limit.

“Indeed it is. It’s a blessing to be alive.” After managing to buckle her seatbelt, Lawrence starts the engine and drives toward his boss’s property. Twenty seconds later, his phone starts to buzz again. He pulls to the side of the road to check it. “That might be Miss St. Martin. She’s supposed to arrive shortly after you. But I wasn’t expecting her to arrive quite this soon.”

“I love that girl! I’m excited to see her again. It’s been forever.” Melanie takes out a pocket makeup mirror to see if her eyeliner needs to be touched up. It doesn’t. She puts the mirror away back in her handbag.

With the engine running, Lawrence gets out of the car to look for Monique St. Martin’s cab. In the distance, he sees one approaching the park from the south end. Not one to make a spectacle of himself, he waves his arms in the air (like he just doesn’t care) to catch the driver’s attention. It obviously works, as the taxi makes a hard right turn toward the red Avalon.

“Indeed it is her,” Lawrence informs Melanie. She looks up and sighs.

“I hope she’s doing okay. My heart still aches for her after what happened.” Like Dylan, Melanie couldn’t help but shed lots of tears as she watched that poor girl get carried out of that stadium on a stretcher. It didn’t help that the NBC camera crew kept focusing on Monique’s distraught coach weeping at her side. The esteemed television network received harsh public backlash from their coverage, which was labeled “exploitative” and “insensitive” by critics. To their credit, they later apologized.

A yellow taxicab stops thirty feet away from Lawrence and Melanie. The back-passenger side door opens, with a single supple leg stepping onto the pavement. Wearing a long-sleeved white t-shirt and tight-fitting jean shorts, Monique is also unafraid to wear clothing that generously shows off her fit, athletic body. While not nearly as muscular as Melanie, Monique still stands out in a crowd. Her sturdy body is hard to miss, with curves layered upon curves. Wherever she goes, she turns heads. All the time. She’s allowed her fluffy black hair to drape all over her scalp. As Lawrence tips the driver (in addition to the payment he’s already receiving automatically from Mr. Tanaka), Monique and Melanie embrace like two old friends who haven’t seen each other in ages.

“Girl! It’s so good to see you again!” Melanie has, for quite some time, become a surrogate “auntie” to Monique. After her accident at the Olympics, Melanie called and texted her every single day until her rehab was finished. Even after that, she still contacted her on a weekly basis to check in on her progress. Monique feels indebted to her. They met through Dylan, though their paths could have still crossed without him being in the picture.

“I’m doing great. There’s so much to talk about, trust me!” Monique says. After stuffing her luggage on top of Melanie’s suitcase in the back seat, the three of them are finally able to depart for Mr. Tanaka’s home. Lawrence doesn’t expect Miss Cole to arrive for at least a couple hours. He still has his phone handy though, in case the unexpected were to happen. One can never assume anything anymore.

A random jogger stops running to see what the commotion is all about. It’s quite unusual for this much activity to transpire in this quiet neighborhood. The sight of two gorgeous women with big muscles hugging on the sidewalk nearly makes him run into a mailbox.

Luckily for him, he doesn’t.

The black girl is short but sturdily built. She’s gorgeous as a supermodel and as fit as an Olympic athlete (which, unbeknownst to the jogger, she actually is). The other lady, however, is taller but much bulkier. Much, much bulkier. At least, he thinks she’s a “she.” There isn’t a chance that she could be a man in disguise, right? Or someone who used to be a man but is now a woman? What’s the proper term for that these days? As the two ladies enter the car, he can only stare impolitely and think such politically incorrect thoughts.

“What the fuck is going on here?” the jogger wonders aloud. “God damn…”

As the red Avalon drives off to the far end of the cul-de-sac, the jogger looks down and sees his erection straining against his gym shorts. There’s no hiding it. A little old lady sitting on a nearby park bench feeding some squirrels gives him a look of profound disapproval.

“Whoops.”

***

“DYLAN! It’s so good to see you again!” Melanie screeches with delight.

Embracing in the foyer, Dylan tries to wrap his arms around Melanie’s thick torso but fails to do so all the way. A testament to her substantial girth, Dylan cannot help but notice her new breast implants. Peggy Cole is still the Queen of Comically Oversized Boobs (she’s currently a 40FF, which is as eye-popping as you might expect), but Melanie has enhanced herself quite beautifully. But it still makes hugging her a challenge.

“Hi darling! It’s great to see you again too.” Dylan kisses her on the cheek. “I love what you’ve done with your hair! It looks fabulous.”

Once she turned 50, Melanie decided it was time to stop coloring her hair to remove the grey. Three years later, she’s fully embraced the white streaks complementing her dark brown locks. Standing at 5’ 10” and weighing 215 pounds, Melanie is a force to be reckoned with. Her statuesque figure and dazzling chiseled muscles make her stand out even amongst her bodybuilding peers. Famous for her enormous biceps, triceps, forearms, and quads, Melanie figures her hair is the last thing people will notice about her. She’s not wrong about that.

“I’ve finally decided to stop trying to be younger than I am,” Melanie says. “After all, with muscles like this who gives a shit what anybody thinks?” She strikes a double biceps pose, showing off her impressive guns. It steals Dylan’s breath away. Unable to control himself, he reaches out and places his fingers onto her hardened flesh. He squeezes her 18-inch bicep, focusing on the hardened peak at the top that very few female bodybuilders can say they have. It’s like she has muscle piled on top of other muscles. Dylan temporarily forgets that anyone else is in the room with him.

From a short distance away, Monique cannot help but laugh. “God damn! Wow, we’re starting the party early. Hey, don’t forget about me now.”

Dylan turns around to see Monique standing in the doorway. She bites her lower lip suggestively. Lawrence has already taken everyone’s luggage upstairs to the guest bedrooms. “My dear, my beautiful Monique. There’s no way I’d forget you! Come here.”

Monique picks up Dylan with her embrace, engulfing him into her warm body. Monique is smaller than Melanie (she’s 5’ 7” and 189 pounds) but she’s built like a World War II tank. Her legs could move mountains. Her calves are as large as most women’s thighs. Her six-pack abdomen looks and feels like small stones glued to her tummy in a symmetrical pattern. Dylan bets he could scrub his dirty clothes on them.

“Hello baby.” Her sweet smile sends his heart fluttering.

“I’m glad the two of you showed up together. That’s one fewer trip Lawrence needs to make.” Dylan kisses Monique’s cheek. Her distinct musky smell is like sweet perfume to Dylan’s senses. He could smell it all day and never grow tired of it. “I’m sure you’re both feeling a bit jet-lagged, perhaps?”

“I’m doing okay. I travel a lot, so I’m used to air travel.” Melanie points out. She looks at a marble statue of an Amazonian warrior sitting atop a stone pedestal. Not wanting to touch it out of fear of accidentally chipping this priceless piece of art, she marvels at its artistry instead from afar. This happens to be one of many artistic masterpieces he has in his collection. The others are located throughout the house and downstairs in a storage room. “Some little kid at the airport asked his mommy if I was a boy or a girl.”

“Oh my!” Dylan remarks. “I sure hope you didn’t feel the need to prove anything definitively!”

Melanie and Monique both laugh. “Ha, no. That wasn’t a problem,” Melanie reassures him. “It goes to show that you still don’t see women built like us out and about every day. I think I turned his world upside down today. He’ll probably never forget it as long as he lives.”

“I have no doubt you did,” Dylan approaches her, peering into Melanie’s dark green eyes. “You certainly turn my world upside down, even at this very moment.”

Dylan and Melanie share a long, deep kiss. Monique awkwardly tries to look away but cannot help but feel a sense of pride that Dylan, a man who’s stood by her through thick and through thin, can guiltlessly enjoy his life even for a brief moment in time. Dylan and Melanie are good people, even if the rest of the world doesn’t agree.

“Oh, get a room you two!” Monique playfully taps Dylan on his behind. This makes him gasp.

“We will!” Melanie devilishly declares. “Later tonight, we will.” She reaches down and strokes Dylan’s pulsating groin. It’s been a long time a woman has touched him like this, a fact that both Melanie and Monique know full well.

Dylan’s heart doesn’t stop mid-beat, but it might as well have. The wicked grin Melanie gives him reveals her intentions unambiguously.

Before this evening is over, they will make love.

***

Looking at himself in the mirror, Stephen Callahan suddenly realizes he’s living out a tired old Hollywood cliché. He’s the dastardly villain who’s looking at himself in the mirror before committing an evil act, wondering if a little bit of his soul will perish upon doing so. Or whether his soul already has. Not one to usually sympathize with history’s wicked men, Stephen is under no pretense that he’s a flawless human being who’s been wronged by powers beyond his control. He is a victim, yes, but he is not without blame himself. And, he can choose not to do this. He can still call it off if he wants to. There’s still time. They haven’t done anything illegal yet (at least nothing that they’d be caught doing). However, he has no intentions to abort the mission. It’s still on. Does that make him a complicated villain?

Perhaps.

“You’re about to burn the bacon, goddamn!” Xander yells at Roddy from the kitchen. Stephen was under the impression that it was Cortez’s turn to cook for the group (Xander prepared lunch), but that assumption is obviously wrong. “Do I have to do everything around here? Holy shit, dude.”

“Shut the fuck up!” Roddy fires back. “Don’t tell me what to do, motherfucker!”

“Come on, guys! Don’t get into a petty fight about goddamn bacon,” Thomas scolds them. “Seriously. Cut it out. Now.” This brings a smile to Stephen’s face. He’s glad Thomas has taken on a larger leadership role within the team. It was getting exhausting to do it all himself. While everyone in this outfit is a professional crook with a substantial résumé, that doesn’t mean everyone is going to get along at all times.

“Sorry,” Xander and Roddy reply almost simultaneously. The bacon does smell burnt, but Thomas decides not to say anything about it. Xander backs off to give Roddy some space. Thomas smiles. Cortez is nowhere to be seen.

Stephen is not a fool. He knows the chances of today’s score being 100% successful isn’t guaranteed. Not by a long shot. Even though they’ll be well-armed – combined with Dylan’s lack of stringent security systems outside of a tall gate, a few security cameras hidden here and there, and the possibility that Lawrence the butler may be carrying a concealed firearm – anything can go wrong. That’s one difficult lesson Stephen has taken to heart in recent years. Even Stephen’s plan to temporarily disable his security systems isn’t guaranteed to work. It should, though. But always expect the unexpected.

This is why Stephen has a secret back-up plan. It’s so secret, he’s the only one who knows about it. His compatriots have no idea about it. And they never will unless they have to find out about it.

Several months ago, Stephen’s first robbery after being released from prison was at a local hospital. He snuck through the back of St. Mary’s Cancer Research Institute and entered the building by paying off a security guard with a wad of $100 bills. The guard was near retirement as it was, so he had nothing to lose. Once inside, Stephen and another man (who was too busy to work on this particular job) went to the radiology wing of the hospital. Disguised as maintenance workers, they stole a portable x-ray imaging machine – which is the size of a typical backyard grill – and left the premises without being harassed by anyone. They passed by about a dozen people, who didn’t seem to suspect anything nefarious was going on. He and his partner looked official, acted calm, and seemed like they belonged there. Two people dressed like technicians carrying a piece of equipment didn’t ring any alarm bells, both literal and figurative. It was one of the easiest scores both men have ever been a part of. In and out, just like that. They stuffed the machine carefully in the back of an unmarked van and casually drove off into the proverbial sunset. Stephen has never bothered to check whether or not the security guard they paid off was ever discovered or reprimanded. He also has no idea if the stolen x-ray machine caused a stir over there.

X-ray machines are useful for developing weapons because of the radioactive material found inside them. There’s a damn good reason why you wear a lead apron before getting pictures of your bones or internal organs taken. Long story short, afterward Stephen reached out to an expert chemist (who was a member of the controversial Weather Underground during the late 1960s) who had plenty of spare explosive materiel on hand and absolutely no love for coldblooded warmongering corporate assholes like Dylan Tanaka. For a modest fee, this gentleman reconfigured the x-ray machine to Stephen’s specifications. It took several weeks for him to finish this project, but he eventually got it done. Of course, there’s no way for Stephen or his bombmaker to test it, so there’s an element of faith at play here that the contraption won’t be a dud. However, given this man’s track record, Stephen has every reason to believe that it will work beautifully – though he hopes it doesn’t have to come down to that.

Today, what was once a device about the size of a gas-powered grill can now fit inside a backpack. It’s fitted with a timer that can be set at the most 48 hours ahead. That backpack is now sitting atop Stephen’s bed across the hallway, looking as innocent as a backpack can possibly look.

That’s why Stephen is looking at himself in the mirror and experiencing a momentary existential crisis. This is why he can’t be bothered with whatever arguments are happening elsewhere in the safehouse.

Because inside that backpack is Plan B just in case Plan A doesn’t work or gets derailed unexpectedly. If he can’t win, nobody can win. It’s that simple. It’s a device Thomas, Xander, Roddy, and Cortez have no idea exists because this is Stephen’s ace up his sleeve. His “break-glass-in-case-of-emergency” contingency plan. The rabbit he can pull out of his hat.

A dirty bomb.

***

An hour later, Dylan and his two guests are drinking margaritas in his spacious living room. Hearty laughter fills the air, a joyous noise that hasn’t been heard inside this household in a long time. Whatever nervousness Dylan felt earlier today is now completely gone. He’s finally relaxed and able to be himself for once. From a distance, Lawrence feels happy for his boss. This truly is one of the few times Dylan seems happy. While he doesn’t share his boss’s love for muscular women, he approves of him doing whatever brings him joy. After reading a short but crude text on his phone, he enters with a grand announcement.

“Miss Cole has arrived, sir.” And she certainly has, uh, an unusual communication style, Lawrence notes to himself.

Melanie and Monique’s eyes get wide. Dylan stands up, with his two guests following suit.

“Fantastic! Now we’re all here,” Dylan pronounces. All three hurry to the front door as quickly as they can.

Standing in the middle of the spacious foyer, Peggy admires the décor. She cannot remember the last time she came over, but it certainly was before Dylan’s legal troubles. Before she can take off her aviator shades, Melanie and Monique bust through the side of the hallway, sprinting as fast as they can toward her.

“Peggy! You’re here!” Melanie screams. She embraces Peggy as tightly as she can, lifting her off the ground. Melanie clearly takes every opportunity she can to showcase her impressive strength. When Peggy’s heels touch the floor, they make a loud double CLICK sound. “Excuse me baby girl, I may be a bit drunk already.”

“Damn girl! I need whatever you’re having because you’re thick AS FUCK! Damn woman!” Peggy pinches Melanie’s enormous biceps, admiring both their sheer size and vascularity. Peggy’s sexual orientation is “all over the map” (in her own words), so her admiration of Melanie’s body isn’t just professional. Suffice to say she’s quite appreciative of beautiful looking people of all gender identities. “I need to stretch out my legs, that plane ride doesn’t get any shorter. Then, I need a drink. Pronto!”

Dylan enters the foyer as meekly as a church mouse. He pauses a moment to take it all in. Right before his very eyes, standing in his own home, are three gorgeous strong women. It certainly wasn’t planned this way, but he cannot help but admire the diversity of his three guests: Melanie is tall, powerful, authoritative, and massive in size. Peggy is short (a modest 5’ 4”), squat, muscular (though not nearly as bulky as Melanie), and surgically enhanced in all sorts of places (her enormous boobs are the most obvious, but there are plenty of places that are not-so-obvious). Monique is slim, sturdy, curvy, strikingly beautiful, and possesses the picture-perfect “athlete’s body.” Melanie gives off “motherly” vibes. Peggy is a pure hedonist. Monique is calm, focused, goal-oriented, and determined. Melanie’s skin has a pale golden complexion that allows her muscles to shine. Peggy’s light brown caramel tone comes directly from her Peruvian side. Monique’s rich dark black skin is just as silky smooth to the touch as it looks from a distance. Dylan’s gaze cannot focus on any single one of his guests because all three present a feast for the eyes. This may be a few margaritas talking, but in this moment, he thinks they are the three most beautiful women on the planet. Nobody comes close.

“Hello Peggy. Welcome to my humble abode.”

As if time had suddenly stood still, Peggy’s eyes zero in on Dylan’s. Having perfected the art of the “sexy walk,” she saunters over to her host with the sultry confidence of a Brazilian supermodel. She and Dylan embrace. Her considerable chest makes it difficult to lean over to kiss her, but Dylan successfully does so by craning his neck as forward as he possibly can. It’s a miracle he doesn’t suffer any neck strain.

“It’s good to see you again, baby…” Peggy whispers in Dylan’s ear, causing the hairs on the back of his head to stand at attention. Dylan tries to contain his composure, which becomes even more difficult after Peggy lightly strokes his groin. “I have a special treat for you that I’ll show you later tonight!”

Dylan’s eyes widen. Melanie and Monique lean in with curiosity. Peggy, as usual, loves an attentive audience.

“Is that so? I’m intrigued.”

“Me too!” Monique chimes in.

“And I,” adds Melanie.

“Well, it looks like I’ve set expectations pretty damn high!” Peggy releases her grip from Dylan’s groin. She looks up at a remarkably beautiful 128-light candle-style tiered chandelier hanging from the ceiling. “Mother of God. Is that new? I don’t remember seeing that last time. Holy shit! Dylan baby, you know how to live the high life!”

Dylan tries to display modesty but cannot do so convincingly. “To answer your question, it is new. I had it installed last year. And yeah, I certainly do. Just because I’m holed up in here for the rest of my life doesn’t mean I can’t have nice things on the inside. You know how that is.”

An awkward silence ensues. Peggy’s gaze shifts from the chandelier – which cost Dylan more than $50,000 to have specially made, shipped, and installed by a team of expert interior decorators – to Dylan’s somber eyes. She knows he’s not literally trapped like a rat in his own house, but the sentiment has been conveyed loud and clear. He doesn’t have much of a social life. Weekends like this are all he has now. This makes it even more critical that this be a weekend to remember.

“Not exactly, but I can imagine,” Peggy rubs Dylan’s shoulders. “Still, I think you’re going to love this, uh, special treat I have in store for you. The two of you as well.”

Melanie and Monique nod along in agreement. Dylan and Peggy kiss once more. No one feels the need to say anything else.

“Ahem,” Lawrence interrupts them. For who knows how long, the butler is standing in the doorway leading to the dining room. Dylan’s faithful domestic employee found the time to change into a black tuxedo between breakfast this morning and this present moment. He was probably wearing the tux right before picking everyone up, but Dylan was in no mental state to notice or care. But right now, he looks urbane. He definitely respects decorum. “I have just been informed by Mr. Jameson that dinner is ready. And the dining table has already been set.”

“Henry’s last name is Jameson? I didn’t know that!” Peggy says. A naughty thought suddenly crosses her mind. She grins, hoping nobody notices.

“Indeed, it is, ma’am,” Lawrence answers. He turns around and promptly exits.

“Fantastic!” Dylan claps his hands in excitement. “Let’s eat. I’m starving.”

“As am I!” Monique declares. Melanie silently nods.

Just by luck, the grandfather clock sitting in the foyer rings six times, indicating it is now 6:00 p.m. on the dot. Henry’s ability to finish dinner on time is impeccable, yet another reason why Dylan keeps him around and will continue to keep him around. As Dylan and his guests scurry off to the dining room, Peggy breaks off from the main group and makes a beeline toward the kitchen.

“Speaking of Mr. Jameson, I’d like to poke my head in and say hi! Don’t mind me.” She scurries off to the kitchen. Dylan, Melanie, and Monique don’t think much of it. Then, Dylan decides they should go down to the wine cellar to pick out a few bottles for dinner – and afterward.

“I have a grand idea. Let’s go downstairs to the basement.”

“Why?” Monique asks, her tummy growling.

“I have a wine cellar down there. Let’s go select what we’re going to drink tonight. Have you seen it before?”

“No, but that sounds lovely. I’m not supposed to drink too often, but this weekend is an exception, for obvious reasons,” Monique says.

“It should be the most memorable weekend of our lives,” Melanie promises. She takes Dylan’s warm hand and leads them on. “Mark my words.”

All the King’s Queens – Chapter 4: The Guests of Honor

With a small suitcase packed and ready to go sitting near the front door, Monique takes one final look at herself in the bathroom mirror before heralding an Uber to go to the airport. Esmerelda, her four-year-old fluffy orange cat, jumps onto the toilet next to her, purring as loudly as a motorcycle cruising down the highway.

“Mama has to catch a flight soon to visit some friends,” she says to Esmerelda, lightly patting her head. “When I get back we’ll snuggle on the couch. Which should be tomorrow night!”

Esmerelda looks at her mother, quickly peers out the window after a gentle breeze lets itself in, and hops off the toilet. She scoots away to the laundry room, looking for a warm clean pile of socks to sleep in. Sadly, she will be disappointed that laundry day isn’t until Tuesday.

“Silly girl.” Monique shakes her head. Esmerelda chooses a dirty pile of clothes to sit on instead.

Monique St. Martin lives with her boyfriend in a crammed one-bedroom apartment in downtown Miami. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is more than a year away (14 months, to be exact), but that doesn’t mean she isn’t hard at work training for the biggest athletic competition of her life. After her horrific injury at the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics where she suffered a torn Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) in her left elbow after attempting the clean and jerk, doctors told her she’d need surgery and at least two years of rehabilitation work before she can even attempt such a lift again. One Boston-based surgeon she visited told her she probably should never attempt the clean and jerk ever again out of fear she may reaggravate the injury. But Monique knew 2020 would be her best – and most likely final – shot at winning a medal at the Olympics. She’s “on the bubble” as it is, with younger and younger athletes emerging who are so much stronger than she is. The powers-that-be at the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee says she’s basically guaranteed a spot at Tokyo but nothing beyond that.

Therefore, she’s in it to win it next year, the consequences be damned. If she does reinjure herself, Monique is confident she’ll have no regrets. Not trying will haunt her much more than trying and failing.

Before all of this happened, Monique met Dylan Tanaka by accident. Prior to becoming an Olympic athlete, during her junior year in college she scored a coveted internship at Perseus Analytics in their data modeling department. One day, Dylan paid a random visit to their Miami-based office to check on how everyone was doing. By a stroke of fate, she shook hands with Mr. Tanaka after her boss delivered a brief presentation on their progress on a supply chain modeling project. He remarked at how impressed he was at her grip strength. She casually said she’s currently training for the 2012 London Olympics. Like magic, his eyes lit up. He smiled at her and whispered in her ear “I’ll be in touch.”

And with that, he left the building and got back in his private helicopter to fly up to New York City to meet with PA’s east coast headquarters.

At first, Monique didn’t know what to think. Is the boss hitting on me? An intern? How crazy is that? she thought to herself. He wasn’t creepy (and Monique has encountered her fair share of creepy guys in her life) or seemed like he had bad intentions. In fact, he came off as warm, gentle, and caring. After a few weeks, she forgot about the whole incident. About a month later, she received an email from Mr. Tanaka himself inviting her to lunch. After picking up her jaw from the proverbial floor, she nervously but excitedly said yes. One week later, she and Dylan were enjoying blackened salmon Caesar salad, crab chowder, and toasted garlic breadsticks alone in a private dining room atop the Panorama Tower in Downtown Miami. After requesting that what they discuss not leave this room, Dylan revealed a secret interest in strong, athletic women.

“For whatever reason, I just really admire women who break the traditional mold. Women who are driven to win, who love being strong and athletic,” Dylan tells her. “I see those qualities in you, Miss St. Martin.” His kind eyes peered into her soul. Same as before, Monique did not feel uncomfortable having lunch with the CEO of the company. Her nervousness went away the moment they started chatting.

“Thank you, Mr. Tanaka!” Monique blushes. She can only stare at the last breadstick, which was getting colder by the minute.

“This will sound so ridiculously clichéd, but please call me Dylan,” he instructs her. She silently nods her head. He smiles back. “So, I have a modest proposition for you, since you appear to be striving toward competing in London next year…”

Dylan proceeded to offer Monique the opportunity to be sponsored by him. He’ll wire her $5,000 per month into a private bank account that he’ll create for her. This will be enough to cover the cost of her training, dieting, coaching, supplementation, and travel expenses. The only catch being that she must keep this business relationship a secret, even from close friends and family. Dylan admits his “secret admiration” for female athletes could harm his reputation if revealed to the public, a sentiment that Monique understood completely. She had lost count of how many times random guys have told her they “dig her muscles” in hushed tones, as if they were afraid someone would hear them say it out loud. She knows men like her muscles but cannot express that admiration publicly. It’s understandable why Dylan Tanaka would feel the same way. He’s not just the CEO. He’s a mini-celebrity. His public profile is much different than a random dude jogging on the treadmill at the gym.

From then on, Monique and Dylan formed an unusual friendship. They were rarely in geographic proximity to each other but always found time to chat on the phone or talk via teleconferencing. He would ask about her progress and Monique would gladly update him on what she’s been up to. After graduation, Monique decided to go into business for herself by becoming an Olympic-style personal trainer – while training for the Olympics herself! Most of her clients were high school and college students training for their sports teams. She learned a lot about running her own business from a nice couple who runs the gym she regularly attends. They taught her everything she knows. It isn’t always glamorous but it’s honest work. No offense to Mr. Tanaka – er, Dylan – but working in an office all day bored the hell out of Monique. She’d rather be on her feet and actually do stuff instead of sitting at a desk and stare at a computer screen for eight hours.

Dylan said if at any time she ever felt uncomfortable by his relationship with her, she could cut it off without any penalty. The money would eventually stop coming in (of course) but he wouldn’t launch any legal or personal vendetta against her. Monique always smiled and insisted she was perfectly happy with her friendship with him. Thus, their friendship-from-a-distance continued with no issues…and all in secret.

Unfortunately for Monique, a year later she did not even qualify for the London Games. She was disappointed, but not devastated. The same goes for Dylan. Despite her failure to earn a roster spot on the Olympic team, Dylan still offered to sponsor her for the next four years in preparation for 2016. Monique thanked him for his generosity. Even throughout the scandal, federal investigation, trial, and media circus that wore Dylan down to a nub, he still deposited that $5,000 into her account without pause. His fierce loyalty endeared him to her.

Then 2016 arrived. She qualified for Team USA! Dylan was ecstatic. So was she. Most experts didn’t think Monique would win a medal, but she did have an off chance of earning a bronze if everything went her way.

Sigh. As it turns out, things did not go her way.

Not only did she tear her UCL on live television, the heavy bar fell on her neck, fracturing four of her vertebrae. She was lucky she wasn’t paralyzed from the accident. As she lay there on the floor, screaming in pain and crying tears of agony as emergency medical personnel attended to her, Dylan sat on his couch thousands of miles away in stunned silence. Tears also formed in his eyes. Eventually, as an ambulance with ominous red flashing lights rushed into the stadium, Dylan couldn’t handle it anymore and had to turn off the TV. He sat there all night, unable to get up. He couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t do anything but think about Monique, a beautiful and intelligent young lady whose physical pain is outweighed by her emotional pain. During the following months, Monique spent a lot of time in hospitals between multiple surgeries and consultations with physicians about the future of her Olympic aspirations. Many told her she should quit. She refused to let her dreams die like that. If she’s going to go down, she’ll give it her all.

Dylan wisely kept his distance from her. They stopped talking to each other for long periods of time. But he still deposited that $5,000 into her account. Like clockwork. During a time of uncertainty, he felt like the one thing she needed most was certainty.

He was that certainty.

As she finishes reflecting on her past, Monique quickly touches up her eyeliner before heading out. She takes her phone out of her pocket and hails the Uber. It says it should be here in less than five minutes. Just enough time to turn off all the lights, lock up, and take the elevator downstairs.

Jake, her boyfriend, is currently at work. He’s a civil engineer for the City of Miami. She already kissed him goodbye earlier this morning. Even though it’s a Saturday, the city is attempting to close a major highway for construction next month, meaning structural engineers like Jake are having to work 60-hours a week in preparation for it. So only the cat is around. Which may be a good thing because she and Jake aren’t on the best of terms at the moment.

“You be good, Esmerelda,” Monique says to the feline.

“Meeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrr,” she responds back.

“I thought so!”

Jake knows that his girlfriend has a long-time friendship with a rich billionaire who has a secret fetish for strong muscular women. Dylan’s friendship with Monique predates their relationship. He says he doesn’t care what they do together as long as they don’t have sex. Monique has strong reasons to believe he’s lying about that. However, that’s not something she wants to think about right now. Her current priority is to dally off to the west coast to see Dylan, Peggy, and Melanie for the weekend. Whatever happens will happen. She’ll try to have the time of her life.

She may even break the longstanding “limitations” she has with Dylan. Previously, there were certain boundaries she refused to cross. Sex with Dylan was one of them. Dylan knows this. Monique knows this. Jake knows this. However…that may change.

With that, Monique turns off the living room lights, locks the door, and walks to the elevator.

***

As Melanie Wright sits at Gate D17 at O’Hare International Airport, she cannot help but notice a little boy staring at her. He must be at least five or six years old. Melanie has been a professional bodybuilder long enough to have grown accustomed to people – both children and adults – giving her strange looks in public. But there he is, sitting in a row of seats right across from her, unable to peel his young eyes from this unusually large lady.

The boy’s mother is reading something on her iPad, oblivious to the fact that her son is being rude to a perfectly innocent stranger.

“Mommy!” the boy taps his mother on the shoulder. “Is that a boy or a girl?”

The boy’s mother, perplexed and annoyed that her reading is being interrupted, looks up in the direction he’s pointing at. She notices Melanie sitting no more than six feet away. Her eyes widen when she sees Melanie’s enormous frame sitting across from her. She looks feminine, though she’s much bulkier on top than most women she knows. Melanie smiles at the mother. Embarrassed, she wags her finger in front of her son’s face.

“That’s a very rude thing to ask! She’s a lady, of course. Stop it!” At least, she thinks the giant woman sitting across from them is a woman. Could she be transgendered? Or a man in women’s clothing? She couldn’t be sure, but she wanted to nip this situation in the bud as soon as possible and not cause a scene.

“Oh, okay,” Unsatisfied with that answer, the boy continues to stare at Melanie’s 18-inch biceps, which are prominently displayed in her sleeveless blue polo shirt. The mother looks even more embarrassed, looking Melanie straight in the eye (and trying to avoid looking at her muscles as well, which are truly a sight to see!) and apologizing.

“Sorry for that,” she begins. “He’s young and doesn’t quite understand the art of proper etiquette. I mean, he is five. If he’s making you feel uncomfortable, I…”

“No, he’s fine. I’m used to it,” Melanie responds. Her deep voice almost makes the boy (and mother) jump out of his seat. She doesn’t sound like a man, but she also definitely doesn’t sound like a woman. Who is she? What’s her story? Where did she come from? Why does she look like that? The boy has so many questions that he’ll never get the answers to.

She lifts up both of her arms and gives the boy a quick double bicep flex. She smiles at him. The boy’s mouth remains agape, with a small bit of drool leaking out. This is also a fairly normal reaction from onlookers. Melanie loves the attention when she’s in the mood to receive it. Other times, she finds it annoying. This is one of those times when she sort of likes it. Especially coming from an impressionable young child. No doubt this kid will remember this moment for years to come.

The mother takes out her phone and tells her son to play Temple Run while they wait for the flight to Denver to depart. The son agrees wholeheartedly and starts to play, his eyes glued to the screen instead of Melanie’s figure. The mother gives Melanie one final apologetic look before resuming reading from her iPad. Melanie looks up at the clock and sees the time is 10:16 a.m. Even though she’s taking a private flight to Seattle, she still must wait somewhere in D Gate until she gets a text message from an airport employee telling her the jet is ready. Then, she’ll go up to the front counter and meet a different airport employee who will then escort her down to the tarmac. Sounds simple enough.

This isn’t the first time Melanie has ever flown over to Seattle to meet with Dylan. But this is the first time she’s flying in a private jet to do so! The flight is scheduled to leave at 11:00 a.m. But she was still asked to arrive at O’Hare two hours beforehand. She isn’t sure why but she didn’t think to question it.

Like many professional female bodybuilders, Melanie supplements her income by providing muscle worship sessions to paying customers. A “muscle worship session” is when a paying customer is given the opportunity to meet a female bodybuilder alone in a hotel room for about an hour or two. It’s usually men who pay to see her, though she’s had a small handful of bisexual and lesbian women as clients. For many professional female bodybuilders this is a great way to supplement their meager income. There isn’t much money to be had in competing. And it’s tough to hold down a 40-hour a week job on top of training for bodybuilding contests. So, providing sessions around the world is a sure way to earn income (tax-free, since all of this happens off-the-record) so one could continue pursuing the bodybuilding lifestyle without the fear of going broke.

Usually, she travels from city to city to offer these appointments, normally at a rate of $400 per hour (bikini) or $500 per hour (fully nude). These rates are a tad higher than what is considered “market value,” but Melanie is in high demand for good reason.

She’s a world-class bodybuilder with an eye-popping physique. And name recognition.

At 53 years old, Melanie is no spring chicken but she’s still at the top of her game. She hasn’t stopped competing professionally. Her first competition was in 1987 at the tender age of 21. She placed 8th at the IFBB Chicago Pro in the Women’s Lightweight Class. From there, her career took off at warp speed. Considered a “rising star” in the bodybuilding industry, Melanie placed higher and higher in regional competitions as the years went on. She even gained attention from Hollywood executives.

Her claim to fame was being in a deleted scene in “Terminator 2: Judgement Day.” She played a female cyborg that briefly clashed with Arnold Schwarzenegger in a flashback scene at a Skynet research facility. The director of the film, James Cameron, didn’t want the sight of an attractive woman with big muscles to distract viewers from their moviegoing experience (or polarize them), so her scene was left on the cutting room floor. To this day, the scene still has not been released on DVD or Blu-ray. Or YouTube. It still makes Melanie a little bitter for her hard work has never seen the light of day.

But that did not stop her from being on the cover of several fitness/bodybuilding magazines throughout the 90s and early 2000s. She wasn’t a major celebrity but those who paid attention to the sport of professional bodybuilding definitely knew her name. She’s racked up impressive wins throughout her career, culminating in placing 3rd in the Ms. Olympia in 2005, 5th in 2007, 6th in 2008, and 9th in 2010. Melanie is no fool and could clearly see the writing on the wall. She was declining. Her hopes of ever finishing in first place were diminishing quickly. To this day, she still competes at the highest level but has yet to recapture her “elite” status from a decade ago. Melanie has no regrets, however. There’s no shame in being a bonafide top 10 bodybuilder for a brief window of time. She still treasures her “brush with greatness” even to this day.

Melanie first met Dylan in 2009. She took a year off from competing in the Ms. Olympia due to a minor ankle injury that prevented her from training for a short period of time. She was, however, perfectly able to travel the globe to provide muscle worship sessions as usual. She was floored when Dylan first reached out to her. He was a major celebrity! Well, he was a well-known CEO, which is almost like being a celebrity. They met at The Westin hotel in Downtown Seattle one cold October evening. During their two hours together, she and Dylan really “hit it off” and formed a genuine friendship.

Then in 2015, almost at the exact same time Dylan was going through his own travails, Melanie’s life nearly came crashing down.

While traveling to Budapest, Melanie was arrested for illegal prostitution after local authorities caught her during an anti-human trafficking sting operation. She and her client (who apparently had a history of soliciting underage prostitutes, unbeknownst to Melanie) were both booked and spent the night at a local jail. Utterly humiliated, things got worse for Melanie after word of her arrest “went viral” and started to trend on social media. Ultimately, she was fined 1,500 Euros and avoided having to serve any prison time because of her American citizenship. The local authorities didn’t want to deal with the potential backlash of jailing a U.S. citizen for a minor crime. But the financial harm she experienced was no match for the personal turmoil this would incur on her life.

For about a year afterward, Melanie became sort of a social pariah within the bodybuilding community. Everyone knows that many female competitors offer sessions as an “off-the-record side job” in order to make a steady income. Everyone knows this but it’s taboo to talk about it. It’s the worst kept secret in the industry. Yet, her brush with the law was enough for several corporate sponsors to cut ties with her. Her friends dare not be seen publicly with her or stand up for her. She was branded a “prostitute,” a stamp that one cannot easily get rid of. It was like a scarlet letter being tattooed on her forehead. A permanent stain on her record. A grime that could never be washed off.

Her husband, an aspiring Illinois gubernatorial candidate, divorced her in a public spat that made local headlines. Her four adult children (and two infant grandchildren) still love and support her, but she knows her relationship with them has changed forever. She dreads what her grandchildren will go through once they’re old enough to learn about grandma’s sordid past. Will they still love her? Will they get teased for this? Will they lose respect for her?

After this, her friendship with Dylan deepened, as both of them knew what it was like to be banished from public life, shunned by the very people who once held them in high esteem. While they were together, they never talked about it. But they both knew each other’s tragic stories. It was an unspoken truth that hovered over their heads at all times.

Eventually, Melanie was able to reintegrate herself into the bodybuilding community. A small handful of sponsors came back. An athletic apparel line was willing to have her name and face appear on the boxes of fitness smartwatches. So unlike Dylan, she was able to ride the storm and come out on the other end fairly intact. A bit beaten and weary, of course. But still intact nevertheless.

Dylan was canceled. She was just postponed.

Just as Melanie was about to go to the Starbucks kiosk to buy a cup of coffee, her phone buzzes. She takes it out of her pocket and reads the text notification:

HELLO MELANIE WRIGHT. YOUR FLIGHT AXKPP18833 IS NOW READY FOR DEPARTURE. PLEASE SEE THE FRONT DESK AT YOUR EARLIEST CONVENIENCE. END MESSAGE.

“It’s go time!” she announces to herself. “Let’s get this show on the road.”

With that, instead of getting that elusive cup of overpriced coffee, Melanie picks up her carryon, puts her phone back in her pocket, and walks up to the front desk with her boarding pass in hand. The little boy looks up from playing Temple Run and waves good-bye to her. Melanie returns the favor and waves back. His mother is still staring at her iPad, more interested in reading about vampire hunters than witnessing a moment that her young child will remember for the rest of his life.

***

“Damn girl! Are you some sort of bodybuilder?”

Peggy readjusts her sunglasses, which are almost falling off her nose. Her kind-hearted but chatty taxi driver hasn’t quite gotten on her nerves yet, but that could change in short order. They’ve just left the airport and are now cruising north on the freeway toward Seattle. Traffic is light at the moment, which is common for a late Saturday afternoon in the Pacific Northwest. She – and her driver – knows this wouldn’t be the case if it were a weekday during rush hour.

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I am,” Peggy tells the man, whose Jamaican accent and colorful rastacap are a dead giveaway of where he’s from. “I’ve been a bodybuilder for almost ten years now. Damn, has it been that long?”

“Whoooooeeeee! Yes ma’am. I see you girl. I see you!”

“Thanks sugar!”

As long as she’s been a professional bodybuilder, Peggy Cole has grown accustomed to curious strangers asking her all sorts of questions about her life. Some of them appropriate…others not so much. It probably doesn’t help matters that Peggy chooses to wear skimpy or tight-fitting clothing as often as she can! Nor the fact that she’s carrying around two large suitcases, which is suspicious considering she’s simply enjoying a “weekend getaway.” Or her enormous breast implants. Or the many plastic surgeries she’s had on her face. Or if you are into certain kinds of fetishes, you might recognize her by her Internet nom de plume:

LATINAMUSCLEPRINCESS67

So every time Peggy gets a weird look from a complete stranger, she’s left wondering if that person recognizes her for who she is…or just simply because she’s a woman with large muscles and even bigger boobs. There’s a part of Peggy that enjoys that kind of mysteriousness. It makes for great stories around the campfire.

“I know I shouldn’t be asking you this, uh, but do you mind if I ask you a personal question, my dear?”

He seems like a kind enough fellow, so Peggy decides to humor him. “I get the feeling you’re going to ask it no matter what I say.” She rolls her eyes. Hopefully he doesn’t see this.

He heartily laughs, knowing that not only is she right, but she can probably predict his every move. “Yeah, well, you got me there, sis! So, I got to know. Are you here in Seattle on vacation or are you seeing someone in particular?”

“Are you referring to the two large suitcases I brought with me?” Only one of them fits in the trunk, meaning the other one is currently sitting right next to Peggy in the back seat. The driver didn’t say anything when he saw her with her luggage, but she could tell from the look he gave her that his curiosity level was sure piqued. “Yeah, you’d be right, my man. I’m here to see a dear friend of mine. I won’t say his name, but he’s a pretty big deal. A big deal.”

“Oooooooh, is it Bill Gates? Jeff Bezos? Pete Carroll?” The driver frequently looks into the rearview mirror to gauge her reaction to his questions.

“Now, now,” Peggy chides him. “I said I won’t reveal his name. His identity is a secret. I gave him my word I’d protect his privacy. So I won’t tell. That’s the way it’s going to be.”

“Sorry, ma’am. I’m an old soul, so sometimes I can’t keep up with what’s right or wrong these days,” the driver defends himself. As they enter Downtown Seattle, traffic begins to noticeably pick up. Peggy hopes this doesn’t mean she’s stuck having to converse with this inquisitive person for too long. “But that’s cool, sis. That you’re seeing a friend. He’s a lucky man!”

“Yeah, you can say that.” Peggy knows Dylan’s life hasn’t been peachy since his downfall, but she doesn’t want to reveal that to her driver since that’ll be a sure giveaway. Instead, she decides to switch gears just for the fun of it.

“I’m also deeply involved in the adult entertainment industry, in case you’re curious about that.” Even though his head is turned away from her, she can sense his eyes bulging out of his eye sockets after that bombshell reveal!

“REALLY? WOW!!!” the driver screams. Peggy is afraid he might swerve off the road at any moment if he doesn’t contain himself. Luckily for both of them, he remains committed to being a safe motorist. She notices the car ahead of them switch lanes after getting peeved that the taxicab is tailing them too closely. “I can’t say I’ve spent too much time watching videos of that nature, but damn girl! Good for you! I’m glad you feel like you can put yourself out there like that, you feel me?”

“Thanks. I’m not super famous or anything. I’m no Jenna Jameson,” Peggy quips. This is ironic, considering Peggy has met Jenna before (and several years back did a couple of videos with her). But that’s a story for another time.

“I don’t know who that is, but I doubt she’s more beautiful than you!”

“Oh, that’s very kind of you.”

“You’re welcome!” The driver reveals a bold, toothy grin. Peggy raises an eyebrow in response, hoping this will please him. It appears that it does.

Peggy began her career as a professional bodybuilder but wasn’t quite able to win enough trophies to earn a lucrative living. At the age of 31, she dipped her toes in the world of adult entertainment by appearing in a few fetish-themed videos with other FBBs looking for quick cash. She had a tremendous amount of fun showing off her sculpted body to people who weren’t official IFBB judges (who could be a stuffy bunch). A turning point in her life was when she received a ton of fan mail after releasing a particularly steamy video where she gave blow jobs to a roomful of men (17, to be exact) wearing nothing but a skin-tight BDSM-style leather outfit and semen smeared all over her face. She was hogtied by rope and suspended from the ceiling several feet off the ground. At first, Peggy was reluctant to get too deep into this scene, but as more adult film production studios began to know her name, more job offers started to stream in. Eventually, she decided to quit bodybuilding to pursue porn full-time. She was probably going to quit competing anyway, so this was a convenient backup plan.

Her online avatar is Latina Muscle Princess, which is sort of true because her mother is half Peruvian. In reality, she’s half Irish, a quarter German, and a quarter Peruvian. But her olive complexion, jet black hair, curvy figure, and amber brown eyes make her look just as Latina as Shakira. So she went with that identity and never looked back. She’s carved out a fantastic niche for herself as a webcam performer who hosts both weekly shows for the general public (for a small fee) as well as offering personalized one-on-one shows for individual clients (at a significantly higher fee).

Dylan is, not surprisingly, one of her loyal clients. As is Henry.

Other than making videos and webcamming, Peggy is in talks to co-host a porn-themed podcast with Kit Styles – a male adult entertainment star known for his 12-inch-long penis and fabulous hair – but the details of this venture are still up in the air. She’s reluctant to wade through the choppy waters of podcasting, but it seems to be all the rage these days. Besides, caution never got her anywhere. Everything she does she does boldly. Maybe it’s prudent to continue to live life like this.

“We’re almost here, my dear. I received specific instructions to drop you off at a park near the house, but not at the house itself. Is that still fine?” Peggy has been to Dylan’s house many times, but she understands why he would want to instruct a taxicab driver to drop her off in close proximity to his house but not at it. It’s doubtful the driver would take it upon himself to investigate who lives at each house and “out” Dylan to the general public. But one can never be too careful. Especially these days.

“Yeah, that’s fine. Drop me off where you’ve been told to drop me off. I’m a big girl. I can carry my suitcases to my friend’s house just fine without any help.” Peggy pats her suitcase for good measure.

The driver looks into the rearview mirror to check out his passenger’s impressive biceps. If the mirror were a bit larger he could probably also see her big boobs. He wants nothing more than to stick his face inside her cleavage. That, most likely, would result in his termination. He knows that outcome would be unacceptable to him and his family.

“Oh, I know you don’t need my help, sister! I can believe that!”

All the King’s Queens – Chapter 2: Everything is in Order

The chirping of birds outside is not making it easier to sleep in. Even with newly installed windows that normally do a good job at blocking out exterior noise, the incessant chirping cannot be ignored. And it will not stop.

Dylan Tanaka has no choice but to wake up. Curses!

But all is not lost. Today, after all, is the Big Day. No, not his wedding day. Not the day he graduates from college (even though graduating as the class valedictorian at the Hamburg Institute of Futurist Technology was quite a spectacular accomplishment). But the day of the Big Dinner Party. With three distinguished guests.

The time is 6:48 a.m. Dylan planned to sleep in at least till 8:30, but the army of chickadees just outside his window yapping away is derailing those plans. Oh well. No big deal. If that’s the worst thing that happens to him today, Dylan will consider himself lucky.

Dylan crawls out of bed and quickly dresses in a comfy old pair of jeans, white polo shirt, and grey cashmere socks. As he walks downstairs to the dining room, he can already hear Henry, his personal chef of twelve years and close confidante, complaining about the Seattle Mariners’ frustrating bullpen issues.

What else is new?

“Damn, if a baseball game were seven innings long, we’d be going to the World Series!” Henry exclaims. He’s evidently talking to himself because no one appears to be in the kitchen right now except for him. Apparently, he’s listening to sports talk radio or some baseball podcast. Dylan cannot tell which one it is.

“Good morning Henry!”

“Hi Boss Man! Don’t worry about my ramblings. I know we suck this year, but this shit still frustrates me, you know what I mean?” Henry is chopping scallions and looks to be preparing a frittata. That makes sense because this is Saturday morning, which is when Henry alternates between making Dylan either a veggie omelet or a frittata. Occasionally, he’ll switch it up and make eggs benedict, but that’s usually reserved for special occasions. Which apparently today isn’t, for some strange reason.

“Yeah, I hear you loud and clear.” Dylan leans over the kitchen counter and watches Henry cook. “No eggs benedict this morning?”

Henry stops what he’s doing and gives Dylan a sarcastic side-eye. He’s worked for Dylan long enough to know that giving him sass won’t endanger his job security. Even if it did, he’s confident he’d have plenty of other job offers lined up.

“Sorry, no. But I ain’t making no omelet or frittata neither! I know today’s a very special day,” Henry smirks. “You’re having a chorizo scramble with sweet mango salsa and whatever the hell vegetables I have in the fridge.” Henry gestures to the opposite side of the long sixteen-foot kitchen island. Dylan sees a package of unopened chorizo sausage from the local Mexican grocery store thawing. This brings a welcomed smile to Dylan’s face.

“Thanks Henry.” Dylan opens the refrigerator and takes out a can of Starbucks Frappuccino. “Are we all prepared for tonight’s festivities?” He opens the can and drinks from it, while Henry stops what he’s doing to look his boss in the eye.

“Oh, hell yeah! Can’t wait to see the ladies again. Damn, it’s been a while since you’ve had anyone over. And three at a time? Whooooooooooooooooeeeeeeeee!” Henry resumes cooking, imagining in his head what sorts of naughty fun his boss will partake in tonight. One’s imagination will often be more scandalous than reality, though Henry suspects his boss has plenty of erotic shenanigans on his personal to-do list.

“Make sure you say hi to them. I know you appreciate these ladies just as much as I do!” Dylan pats Henry on the shoulder and walks out of the kitchen toward the dining room. Henry heartily laughs to himself. It may have happened by accident, but when Dylan hired Henry to be his personal chef twelve years ago, he had no idea he was bringing on a fellow fan of female bodybuilders into his home. Dylan has done everything he can to keep his fetish for strong muscular women a secret, knowing how embarrassing it would be to him if the public found out (let alone the awkward texts he’d receive from his own mother!). After he hires a new domestic employee, Dylan usually asks everyone to sign a non-disclosure agreement to keep his personal secrets private. With Henry, however, such an agreement was still done, but somewhat unnecessary. Henry is more open about his love for strong beautiful women than Dylan, however he understands why his boss would want that part of his life kept hush-hush. Plus, silence has its benefits.

Every so often, Dylan will let his trusted cook join in on the fun!

Well, not at the same time, of course.

As Henry continues to work in the kitchen, Dylan sits down at the head of a 12-foot-long oval glass top dining table. Lawrence, his butler of fourteen years, has dutifully left the latest issue of The Atlantic sitting at his place. The cover story, unfortunately, is enough to make Dylan want to vomit.

“Throw Every Billionaire in Jail?” Henry reads aloud the front cover headline. “It’s a travesty that in Modern America men like Dylan Tanaka is a free man while thousands of Iraqi and Syrian children are dead.” Dylan stops reading and almost tosses the magazine across the room in disgust. Before he can do anything impulsive, Lawrence emerges from the dining room entrance.

“Sorry, sir. When I first saw the cover story, I figured this would be an issue you wouldn’t want to read,” Lawrence picks up the magazine, inspects it once more, and hands it back to Dylan. “But orders are orders, if that makes any sense. You always want reading material to go along with breakfast. I didn’t just want to assume you wouldn’t want to read this.”

Dylan finishes his Frappuccino and gives the empty can to Lawrence. He sighs. “No, you’re fine. You did what you’ve always been instructed to do. It’s not your fault.” Dylan rubs his tired eyes with Lawrence watching his boss with a mixture of concern and empathy. “It’s been four years since everything that happened. But it seems much longer than that. I need to get over myself, but I still need more time. Fuck. Looks like I’m going to need at least twenty years to get back on my feet.”

Now, it’s Lawrence’s turn to pat someone on the shoulder.

“Perhaps tonight’s dinner party will lift your spirits. Because I highly doubt the FBI will be knocking down the door anytime soon, regardless of what this author may fantasize about in his or her mind.” Lawrence takes the empty Frappuccino can so he can toss it in the recycling bin. “Other than that, everything is in order. All the preparations according to your requests have been made.”

Dylan gives his loyal butler a smile of approval. He smiles back. Exiting to the kitchen, Dylan hears Lawrence and Henry having a pleasant conversation faintly into the distance. He cannot make out what they’re chatting about. He places the magazine face down on the table defiantly.

“Let’s hope the only visitors I get tonight are those who actually like me,” Dylan whispers under his breath. He sighs again.

At the age of 23, Dylan was a recent graduate of the most prestigious technical university in the world. He became an intern at Boeing in the fall of 2004, right when the U.S. was more than a year into the Iraq War and a few years into the larger War on Terror. Big technical firms were being given multibillion-dollar contracts from the Department of Defense to build weapons, vehicles, and technology to help defeat al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and whatever new threat would rear its ugly head. After four months at Boeing, Dylan developed in his parent’s basement an AI program that could analyze international bank transactions, phone calls, emails, texts, trade agreements, and satellite images to predict when future terrorist attacks would happen. His algorithm analyzed trillions of pieces of data simultaneously and calculated a “threat coefficient” to whoever cared to know. His test modeling used data collected from the ten years leading up to the 9/11 terror attacks, in which his program predicted with 97% accuracy the likelihood that Osama bin Laden would successfully plan and execute a mass terror attack on U.S. soil sometime between Jan. 1, 1998 and Dec. 31, 2002. This gave him confidence that his algorithm works. It’s not 100% reliable but it doesn’t need to be. All it has to do is provide intelligence officials credible warnings that certain threats are imminent. Dylan had all the confidence in the world that his AI program can do just that. After quitting his gig at Boeing and working at the Pentagon as a contract worker, young Dylan spent the next few years successfully helping the U.S. government sniff out potential plots that may have saved the lives of thousands, if not millions. He felt really proud of himself. So much so that in 2007 he tendered his resignation at the DOD and began his own startup firm.

This is when Dylan went from being a boy genius wunderkind to an international celebrity CEO.

His company, Perseus Analytics (named after the Greek mythological demigod who slayed monsters like Medusa), skyrocketed to become one of the largest and most influential corporations in world history. PA mostly used AI technology to help agricultural, shipping, construction, and engineering companies make data-driven informed business decisions. However, they also carried on as a military contractor, continuing the work Dylan did for the DOD – but at a much larger scale.

PA’s immediate success as a cutting-edge leader in the “Business Intelligence Software” industry made Dylan Tanaka an overnight celebrity. He was on the cover of several magazines, profiled by TV stations across the world, and spoke at several prestigious technology conferences. He went from a modest 4,983 Twitter followers to 2.4 million in less than a month. Forbes Magazine even suggested that he should run for president when he’s eligible in 2016, writing that “Mr. Tanaka represents what the future of our world is rapidly becoming: data-driven, pro-active, emotionally intelligent, innovative, and best of all, altruistic to a fault. If he were to run for President of the United States in 2016 – when he would be 35 years old – we would be hard-pressed to come up with a plausible reason why he wouldn’t receive this magazine’s glowing endorsement. This sentiment would gladly apply in 2020, 2024, 2028, and so on.”

The first several years of Perseus Analytics’ existence were a whirlwind for everyone involved. Dylan’s sudden celebrity, while amusing in the moment but ultimately meaningless in the long run, caught the attention of people other than tech journalists, social media influencers, and podcasters. His work also captured the imaginations of powerful men and women inside the U.S. government. The hefty contract PA signed with the DOD in 2009 is a testament to that. At first, the work was fairly modest. Dylan continued the work he did prior for them but at a larger scale. However, that quickly changed as the geopolitical landscape also changed.

In 2011, as drone technology was reaching its maturity, Dylan’s AI programs helped the military decide which targets to bomb. He entrusted Stephen Callahan, a longtime colleague he first met at Boeing, to head up this division. This project signified a dramatic strategic shift in PA’s work with the government. At first, they provided military and intelligence officers with information to help them make wise decisions. Now, they’re assisting in dropping bombs, launching missiles, and planning precision airstrikes. PA went from providing useful intel to delivering weapons of mass death.

For several years, their work went largely unnoticed by the public. Every PA senior executive and several high-ranking employees signed confidentiality agreements. Their top-secret work remained exactly that: a secret.

That all changed in 2015.

An explosive New York Times article – quoting several anonymous sources inside Perseus Analytics, the Pentagon, CIA, and U.S. military – claimed a bug in the AI program led to several drone strikes killing untold thousands of innocent civilians. In the wake of ISIS’s shocking November 2015 terrorist attack in Paris, the U.S. and its European allies stepped up drone strikes in the Middle East and North Africa. Most of those drones were equipped with Dylan’s AI protocols. Unfortunately, as Dylan and Stephen publicly admitted, the AI wasn’t perfect.

So yes, thousands of innocent people lost their lives because their technology wasn’t flawless. Additionally, this work flew under the radar of the usual systems of checks and balances. Many members of Congress, even those on defense and intelligence committees, were kept in the dark about PA’s relationship with the government. So not only was their work borderline immoral, it also could have been illegal.

Demands for a public inquiry grew. It quickly happened. Testifying before a hostile Congress, Dylan and Stephen (along with several other high-ranking PA executives) had to defend themselves amidst accusations of being “war profiteers” and engineers of genocide. Dylan felt like Howard Hughes being accused of the same thing shortly after World War II.

After a truncated federal investigation and trial, Stephen was sentenced to three years in a federal penitentiary for “gross negligence” that led to the deaths of countless Iraqis and Syrians. After cutting a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice where Dylan agreed to step down as CEO of Perseus Analytics and “retire” from public life, he was able to avoid any prison time if he agreed to pay a hefty fine. He did. As one of the youngest billionaires in the world, the fine was substantial but not life-altering. It was just money, not his freedom. Stephen Callahan, on the other hand, took the fall. A few others served much lighter prison sentences, but that didn’t stop Dylan from becoming a public pariah. Many said he got away with murder. Even members of his own family told the media that Dylan deserves jail time! That led to an estrangement that continues to this day.

And in the blink of an eye, Dylan Tanaka went from a beloved celebrity to genocidal monster.

Whew.

Most of his friends and family abandoned him. His own university unceremoniously stripped him of his degree. After cleaning house, Perseus Analytics rebranded as The McDermott Corporation (named after the brand-new CEO, Amanda McDermott, a woman Dylan briefly dated before the New York Times’s bombshell report ruined his life). All mentions of Dylan were scrubbed from the company’s website and social media channels. He was erased. Cancelled. Exiled. Ostracized. Turned into a “persona non grata.”

For the past four years, Dylan has lived quietly in his mansion in Seattle, rarely going out in public or doing anything worthwhile. He has no friends or acquaintances who are willing to be seen with him. Nobody who values their professional and personal reputations wants anything to do with Dylan Tanaka. He still sees (some of) his family during the holidays, but rarely outside of that. He is alone.

But not totally alone.

Still flushed with plenty of cash, Dylan decided to live his life the best he can despite the less-than-ideal circumstances. Just because he’s considered a war criminal in the eyes of an outraged public doesn’t mean he can’t do what he loves. And what does Dylan love?

Muscular women.

Dylan has befriended – although he knows better than to actually consider them real friends – several female bodybuilders and athletes throughout the years. Either inviting them over to his home or visiting them in their hotel rooms, Dylan figures if he can’t live a normal life, why not enjoy the stripped-down existence he currently has to suffer through? So as often as he can (averaging two or three times a month), Dylan sets up meetings with female bodybuilders so he can enjoy some companionship outside of Henry, Lawrence, or Joey (a weird but reliable landscaper who comes over periodically). He pays them for their time, of course, which is why he’s reluctant to call any of them “friends.” During their time together Dylan touches, kisses, and massages their muscles to his heart’s delight. In return, his female companions usually give him either a hand job or blow job to ensure he leaves the encounter perfectly contented.

He knows their relationship is strictly professional, but at least it’s something. Dylan has met at least 50 female bodybuilders in his life, many of them multiple times. But out of all of them, Melanie Wright, Peggy Cole, and Monique St. Martin are his three favorite. Dylan secretly is one of Monique’s sponsors, as he’s followed her Olympic career from the very beginning. He’s met Melanie dozens of times. She’s even told him that she considers him a real friend. But he still pays her nevertheless, mostly out of kindness.

His relationship with Peggy and Monique is more business-like, but still close. Monique allows Dylan to touch her body but has limitations when it comes to sex. Melanie and Peggy, however, have no limitations. He’s made love to both women many times throughout the years.

Dylan’s interest in muscular women began when he was 12 years old. He was always interested in sports like baseball, football, and basketball. One aimless Sunday afternoon his dad took him to a used bookstore. After perusing through dusty books and finding nothing interesting, he stumbled upon a bin full of old sports magazines. They were on sale. Five magazines for $4. Not a bad deal! Dylan looked through almost all of them, selecting an issue of Sports Illustrated and a few ones previewing the upcoming baseball season. Then, he found it.

An old issue of Muscle & Fitness from 1985.

On the cover was Cory Everson, who at the time was in the middle of a Ms. Olympia winning streak that ended up lasting six years. It was his first time ever seeing a photograph of a muscular woman. Not just that, but a beautiful muscular woman with a bright, friendly smile. Dylan could not stop staring at it. He probably looked at that cover for a solid five minutes without moving. He had to have it. His dad didn’t notice what his son decided to buy (he figured they were all baseball related), so Dylan felt like he got away with something naughty without being caught.

That night – and several nights afterward – he masturbated in the privacy of his bedroom to a two-page spread of Ms. Everson flexing her big, sleek muscles. It was an eye-opening experience. He just started noticing girls but fantasized about more “traditional” women like Pamela Anderson, Cindy Crawford, and Carmen Electra. He had no idea there were women in this world with big muscles. Women who lifted really heavy weights like Arnold Schwarzenegger. They weren’t as big as Arnold, but they were pretty damn impressive!

It was a revelation. An epiphany. A mind-blowing discovery. He knew he liked looking at pictures of beautiful women…but women with muscles? How crazy is that?

Young Dylan knew this was strange. He knew he could never tell another soul about this. So, he kept this his little secret. Nobody ever found out about his massive crush on big buff ladies. Whenever he could he returned to that used bookstore and eventually started to buy bodybuilding/fitness magazines with his own money. He flipped through all of them to make sure they didn’t just feature buff guys. The ones that showcased ladies were his for the taking. And he took them home and hid them under his bed. He made sure his mom never found them. Every night until he left for college he jerked off to photos of some of the world’s most famous FBBs: Cory Everson, Rachel McLish, Carla Dunlap, Lenda Murray, Bev Francis, Peggy Schoolcraft, and famous fitness competitors like Monica Brant and Deidre Pagnanelli. He knew all their names, faces, birthdays, hometowns, competitive history, and measurements.

He was obsessed with muscular women. He thought about them day and night. But throughout his many years fixating over female bodybuilders, he never ever told a single soul about it. Not even his pet dog knew about his scandalous fetish. It was a closely guarded secret. Even today it’s still a secret, though to a slightly lesser degree. Dylan’s domestic employees know about it. The female bodybuilders he’s met over the years know about it (obviously). But that’s it. Nobody else.

He’s sworn every FBB he’s ever met to secrecy. They are to never tell anyone that Dylan Tanaka is one of their loyal clients. Ever. Being “outed” like that would be an utter embarrassment. So far, so good. Female bodybuilders who provide muscle worship sessions are great at respecting and maintaining privacy. He has no worries of his secret being exposed to the public. Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time he’d ever be humiliated on the world stage.

“Breakfast is served!” Henry enters the dining room, places the frittata and a cup of coffee in front of Dylan, and notices the magazine lying face down. “Anything else, Boss Man?” This pleasant interruption disrupts Dylan’s unpleasant trip down memory lane. He shakes his head.

“Nah, I think that’s it. Looks absolutely delicious!” Dylan takes a bite out of his breakfast, savoring every morsel of flavor. “You’ve outdone yourself, my friend. Incredible.”

“Thanks my man!” Before returning to the kitchen, Henry turns to his boss and asks in a lowered voice: “Tomorrow morning, before she leaves, can I spend some time with Peggy? After watching her latest video, wow! I got to have some of that!”

Peggy’s primary source of income isn’t bodybuilding, but instead being a webcam performer. As a fairly well-known “celebrity” in the world of adult entertainment, Peggy boasts a regular following of 1,260,000+ people from around the world. You don’t need to speak the same language in order to understand that watching a beautiful muscular woman strip naked in her bedroom and masturbate is a sexy thing to behold. Not unexpectedly, her large subscriber base doesn’t just supplement her income. It is her income. And also unexpectedly, Henry is one of those subscribers who pays a modest monthly sum to watch her “do her thing.”

Dylan too. This goes without saying.

“I can’t guarantee anything, but what I’ll say is this,” Dylan begins. Henry is nearly drooling with anticipation. “I’ll ask her if she has time before she has to leave for her flight. Of course, I can’t guarantee anything. But it never hurts to ask. How does that sound?”

Henry’s eyes get really big, a sure sign that he’s responding positively to this proposition. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. That sounds good with me! I’ll make sure to say hi to her when she arrives for dinner. Maybe that’ll sway her. You know what I mean?”

“Yeah, I know exactly what you mean.”

Henry returns to the kitchen, laughing to himself. Dylan didn’t ask what’s for dinner, but he’s assuming it’s going to be absolutely delicious. For special gatherings – and yes, Dylan occasionally hosts dinner parties with non-female bodybuilders – Henry has an impeccable record of choosing a menu that makes all the guests happy. From braised lamb shanks to grilled salmon to carbonara to prime rib to sushi to Korean tofu soup, Henry can cook anything. Anything. Any culture, any region, for any occasion. In addition to their shared love for muscular women, his culinary skills are the primary reason why Henry has been employed by Dylan for so long. That is, after all, why one keeps a chef around.

A few moments pass in silence. Eventually, Dylan begins to eat his frittata. After dreading it, Dylan picks up the magazine and opens it to a random page somewhere in the middle. Thankfully, a story asking for Dylan to be incarcerated in a French Revolution-style “eat the bourgeoisie” class war doesn’t appear. Some random story about the Chinese government hacking into the CIA’s database. As if that’s any more comforting.

Eating and sipping his coffee in silence, Dylan decides he should simply enjoy his breakfast so he could prepare for what should be the best weekend of his life. He learned at an early age that if you let negative emotions fester too long inside your mind, it will have a direct impact on your entire life moving forward. This weekend is intended to be one of the greatest of his life, so he better get his head right if that’s going to be the case. The outside world may hate his guts, but inside his own little kingdom he’s in control of what happens. And he knows the three guests whom he cordially invited to his home love him for who he is, not for what he’s done. It’s a comforting feeling to be around people who truly care for you.

A half an hour later, Dylan returns his dirty dishes to the kitchen. Henry has left for the morning – probably off to run errands – and Lawrence is nowhere to be seen. Dylan looks out the kitchen window overlooking Lake Washington. It’s a gorgeous day, with the weather forecast promising an even greater weekend. He hears the faint sound of a chainsaw roaring away in the backyard. That must be Joey, Dylan’s stoner landscaper who comes around usually once or twice a month. Usually on a Saturday. Today being Saturday, that makes perfect sense.

After putting on a pair of shoes, Dylan takes a stroll outside to see what Joey’s working on today. He immediately smells the strong odor of marijuana emanating from the backyard toolshed. Dylan isn’t a smoker himself and has no problems with people smoking reefer – even while on the job. But that still doesn’t change the fact that the reek of pot bothers him. But not enough to tell Joey to stop doing it while on his property. Dylan tends to be a “live and let live” kind of guy. He’ll give him a pass.

The ruckus caused by the chainsaw is probably powerful enough to wake up the whole neighborhood. Either that or the smell of weed. Dylan’s 6,125 square foot property boasts a massive backyard designed in the style of a traditional Japanese garden. In the middle is a large lotus pond that snakes around almost ¾ of the whole property. The lip of the pond feeds into a small waterfall that flows downward toward the beach. That water then gets recirculated back into the top of the pond, located adjacent to a massive cherry blossom that still takes his breath away even to this day. The rest of the yard consists of lines of willow trees (which Joey is most likely trimming with the chainsaw), lanterns, a gorgeous walking bridge connecting one end of the lotus pond to the far west side, rocks big enough to sit on, bamboo, Japanese maple, rhododendron, and various other plants and flowers. Many years ago, Dylan hired an architect and his wife – a world famous gardener – to design everything.

They did a bang-up job.

A small chashitsu (a traditional Japanese teahouse) sits in the northeast corner, which serves as a toolshed for Joey (and whenever a professional arborist pays a visit). Sure enough, a few feet away Joey is hard at work trimming some of the overgrown willow trees. He has Beats by Dre headphones on, listening to some kind of music as he works. It’s a good thing he has noise-cancelling headphones on because that chainsaw is so annoyingly loud. If he didn’t, he might go deaf after twenty minutes of having it on.

Dylan waits until Joey stops for a drink of water to interrupt him. “Hey there! How are things going?”

“Oh, hey Mr. Tanaka! Things are going good, nothing to complain about. I got a new chainsaw! Take a look at it.” Joey carelessly waves the sharp blade of the 20-inch gas-powered Helinski Class-A toward his boss’s face. Even as Dylan suddenly leans back, Joey doesn’t seem to notice. “It’s super sharp and cuts through these branches like melted butter. It’s really meant for wood, you know? But it’s all good.”

Admiring the clean, sharp blade and jagged teeth, Dylan gives Joey a courtesy smile and nod. He inspects the willow trees from the top on down. “As long as it gets the job done. I just wanted to say hi and tell you I love your work…but could you do me a favor?”

Joey puts down the chainsaw, removes his headphones (so the music he was listening to wasn’t that loud?), and turns to his boss. “Sure thang, what is it?”

“Could you, uh,” Dylan hesitantly begins, “Could you maybe smoke before you show up to work, as opposed to during? No offense, but it’s sort of messing with my head. I can be oversensitive to smells like that.”

“Oh, that’s weird! Because I ain’t smoke nothing yet today, my man. It must’ve been the neighbors, for real,” Joey says. He must be telling the truth, because when he gets high his Mexican accent comes back. When he’s “sober” – or as sober as he can possibly be – he tends to ditch the accent. “Seriously though, I can smell the pot too. But it ain’t coming from me, I can tell you that homie!”

“Ah. Okay. No worries. It must be the neighbors,” Dylan reassures his nervous employee.

Joey gives Dylan a fist bump and burps loudly. Dylan chuckles. They shake hands. As he proceeds to return to his job, Dylan sniffs the air one more time and notices, strangely enough, that the smell of pot has gone away. Joey is wrong about the neighbors smoking. He highly doubts anyone who lives in this neighborhood would do anything that even resembles rebellious behavior, even though marijuana has been legalized in this state for a few years now.

No worries. Maybe it was his imagination playing tricks on him.

As he looks up, one of the pesky birds who woke him up earlier today is staring right back at him.

“Are you the one who was lighting up this early in the morning?”

The bird does not verbally respond. It then proceeds to fly away to a different tree in someone else’s yard.

“I thought so,” Dylan mutters under his breath.

It’s Official. I’ve Joined Twitter

Well, it’s finally happened.

I joined Twitter.

Yes, the cesspool of bad opinions, personal attacks, venting, raging, score settling, election meddling, grievance airing, vengeance seeking, corporate influencing, product pushing, and narcissism. Yours truly has decided, after all these years of staying off social media (at least as far as my online alter ego is concerned), to join the fray.

May God have mercy on my soul.

For the longest time I decided not to self-promote and allow my writing to spread organically. And since May 23, 2012, that’s been the case. But no more. I’m not sure how to explain the change of heart. I guess I’d like to connect with you, my dear readers, in a way that goes beyond email. I’ll admit I can be slow to respond at times (when you have another personal email and a work account to keep track of, maintaining yet another one can be a hassle), so perhaps this’ll remedy that. You should have noticed by now that I’ve also changed the appearance of this blog. So I guess you can say “change” is in the air.

So, that being said, go ahead and follow me if you are so inclined to do so! I’m at @RyanTakahashi87. If you follow me, I may follow you back – assuming I’m pretty sure you’re not a Russian bot, a mean-spirited troll, or anything like that. I think that whole “Russian bot” is a bit overblown, but that’s neither here nor there.

As far as content goes, I’ll definitely promote new blog posts, remind you all of older posts, keep you in-the-loop about future posts, and curate opinions/takes/ideas for future posts. I may also sprinkle in stuff about pop culture, sports, bodybuilding news, sharing content produced by other female muscle enthusiasts, and conversing with you, my loyal readers. For the sake of everyone’s sanity, I’ll avoid (or try to avoid) discussing politics. There’s enough of that going around as it is. No need to add to the noise. And if we’re being honest here, talking about our favorite female bodybuilders is soooooooooooo much more interesting and worthwhile. I hope you agree with that sentiment.

So have at it! I’ll see you on the other side. Let’s keep things classy, fun, sincere, honest, and as positive as possible. We all need more of that in our lives.

Peace out.

Porn for the Whole Family

Debbie Bramwell showing off her best assets.

Since we are now living in the era of COVID-19 stay-at-home quarantine orders, families are spending more time together than they were before. Well, maybe since the Great Depression, which wiped out the global economy, drained our resources, and was followed by World War II.

So what are families up to these days? Watching lots of Netflix and Disney+, no doubt. The Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are pretty harmless. So is Star Wars. And that Michael Jordan documentary everyone’s been talking about. Or seeing what the latest trends on YouTube, Snapchat, or TikTok happen to be. Or playing too much Fortnite. If you have no idea what those things are, don’t feel bad for feeling old. We all get there eventually.

One thing I can guarantee not too many families are doing is sitting around the computer and watching videos of female bodybuilders.

Yeah, that’s probably not a trend that’s going to catch on, unlike baking your own bread, sewing your own facemasks, or learning dance moves you saw on Instagram. We may not call it by this name, but watching porn isn’t exactly a family-friendly activity.

However, as odd as this may sound, not all porn is explicit, dirty, or socially unacceptable.

Some porn is PG-13 clean. Fun for the whole family.

Huh?

Fans of female bodybuilders know full well two strange and not-so-contradictory things:

      1. Our taste in muscular women is unusual
      2. The way we enjoy muscular women isn’t too kinky

On the first point, it is true that female muscle fetishism isn’t too common. Or more specifically, it’s not an interest that many of us are open to admitting. It’s impossible to say how many people are “into” FBBs in any serious manner, so let’s not try to guess. But it’s probably safe to say it’s a relatively smaller number in relation to the total human population on Earth.

Lindsay Mulinazzi should have been a supermodel.

On the second point, it should be noted that not all FBB fans are built the same. Some people are really into the kinky stuff, such as femdom roleplaying, domination, submission, sadomasochism, and other such activities. Others, on the other hand, simply enjoy the look, feel, and personalities of muscular women. We love watching them flex their enormous biceps rather than fantasize about them pouring hot candle wax on our balls as they give us a blow job while hanging us upside down. There’s nothing wrong with the latter, but it’s inaccurate to say that this represents the whole herd.

FBB fans may be into some kinky stuff, but normally it’s within fairly mainstream boundaries. We want to do things with an FBB that isn’t radically different from what we would normally do with a non-muscular professional dominatrix.

Or, FBB fans love muscular women for perfectly, uh, “vanilla” reasons (for lack of a better term). We love their strength (both physical and emotional), their curves, their ripped muscles, their personalities, and their unique display of femininity. We love them in ways that aren’t particularly unusual or strange once you think about it. It may seem odd at first, but it gets less odd the more you empathize with our passions.

Case in point: Watch this really quick video of Debbie Bramwell. It’s very simple in its setup but unbelievably erotic.

Have you finished watching it yet? Good. Let’s proceed.

This format is common for many FBB videos you’ll encounter on the Internet: A female bodybuilder posing in a hotel room. Usually in very little clothing. Usually with either no music or some pop song from the 1980’s that you’ve already forgotten about. It’s simple, easy, budget-friendly, and devilishly effective.

Maggie Watson at the gym while showing off why she goes to the gym.

All you need is a female bodybuilder, sexy lingerie or swimsuit, a camera, and a private space to record your video. It doesn’t have to be a hotel room. It could be someone’s living room, bedroom, backyard, or public beach. But there’s no need for elaborate set pieces, BDSM paraphernalia, or CGI visual effects. You don’t need special effects to make these ladies super muscular. They’ve accomplished that on their own!

Getting back to this video, this is Debbie at her finest. This is, in the humble opinion of this writer, one of the most erotic videos you’ll ever find on the web. Is it the #1 sexiest video I’ve ever seen? Eh, no. But it’s certainly up there!

In it, Debbie is sitting on a hotel bed wearing white lace lingerie. She’s showing off her muscles for the camera, putting special emphasis on her immaculate arms. Her veiny biceps are a delightful sight to behold. Her dark tanned skin perfectly showcases every curve, vein, and muscle fiber. This is why lighter-skinned bodybuilders need to spray tan their bodies before appearing on a competition stage. Darker skin allows you to see their definition better. Debbie demonstrates here why that’s the case, as if that argument needs to be made. After you catch your breath and wait for your heart rate to return back to normal, you’ll notice a few noteworthy observations:

      1. The video is simple
      2. The video is highly erotic
      3. The video doesn’t contain any graphic nudity or sexual content
      4. The video is on YouTube, not Pornhub

The outfit Debbie is wearing is quite sexy, but it’s not out-of-the-ordinary. Other than her extraordinary large muscles, you could just as likely see this in a magazine ad, shopping mall, fashion catalog, promoted Facebook post, or TV commercial. In other words, the concept of this video isn’t out of the mainstream, even though the specific subject is. We see images of beautiful women in their underwear all the time, unless you live under a rock or on an Amish plantation. The only thing that’s unusual about this video is that the woman in question happens to have large muscles. Other than that, it’s pretty basic. Very vanilla.

But the response it generates from us is – without question – worthy of discussion. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, so I’ll do just that. This video is really, really, really sexy. I mean, unspeakably sexy. Indescribably sexy. Incomprehensibly sexy. Debbie isn’t my favorite FBB of all time (she’s not even in my top 10), but in this short video that’s not even a minute and a half, she quickly reminds me why I fell in love with female bodybuilders in the first place. They made me feel things that very few other things could. I am reminded of back when I was 12 years old and I was first introduced to women like Pamela Anderson, Carmen Electra, Rena Mero (WWF’s Sable, for you kids who didn’t grow up in the 1990’s), Famke Janssen, and Monica Bellucci. As an adolescent boy, these women made my spine tingle, my vision turn hazy, and my, uh, private parts increase in blood flow. As I grew older, I figured those days would eventually fade away, as I become more desensitized to seeing beautiful women.

When you were a kid, do you remember walking past a store like this and wondering why mommy and daddy tried to distract you with promises of buying ice cream?

But then I discovered female bodybuilders at the tender age of 18. So 6 years after turning 12, I started to experience those same pubescent shenanigans all over again. Even today, re-watching this video of Miss Bramwell conjures up those same emotional responses. And I’m in my early 30s!

More so than any other video, I have such an uncontrollable urge to reach into my computer screen and rip off Debbie’s white lacey top. I want to see ALL OF HER. I can’t help it. It MUST happen. It’s a crime for her to wear that small piece of underwear. To cover up her beautiful body with such a meager piece of fabric. The same goes for her panties. WHY MUST SHE COVER UP THOSE PARTS OF HER? If she’s willing to show off 90% of her body, why can’t I see the other 10% of it? The fact she’d tease me like that seems almost cruel. I hope I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Then, eventually the rational part of my brain returns and talks some sense into me. Debbie is under no obligation to give me everything I want. From what I can tell, she keeps things really clean. She doesn’t do full nudity or participate in graphic sexual activities on camera. She keeps things PG-13 (or 12A for my readers in the United Kingdom). This is about as “explicit” as she gets. Yet, that is enough. The adult in me understands that not everyone is comfortable showing off everything. Everyone has their limits. And that is their prerogative.

The same could be said for Cindy Landolt, Theresa Ivancik, or Minna Pajulahti. They do not want to show us everything. Yet, they show us enough. And we should be grateful for that.

Need further examples? Sure you do!

Take a look at this two-minute video featuring Lindsay Mulinazzi. Or this gem from Alina Popa. What do all these videos have in common? You guessed it: They’re both unbelievably sexy and remarkably unexplicit.

Oh Cindy Landolt. How gorgeous are you?

Debbie, Lindsay, and Alina are dreams come true. They make us feel things in our souls that very few other things can. They make our hearts race a little faster and our breathing quicken. They make us want to relieve our built-up tension in, well, intimate ways that require privacy and maybe a little cleanup work afterward. These videos are highly erotic. They elicit physical and emotional responses out of us that more mainstream hardcore porn cannot replicate. This is, by definition, softcore porn. These women are dressed in ways that are perfectly acceptable at any public beach or water park. Open up the pages of Sports Illustrated or Vogue magazine and you’ll see women dressed exactly as they are. No need to purchase a contraband issue of Playboy or Hustler and hide it underneath your mattress. No need to open a private web browser and search through Pornhub. Nah, just do a simple search on YouTube and you can find all three of these gloriously simple videos.

And therein lies the contradiction at play here. When we think of the word “pornographic,” we usually think about hardcore elements like penetrative sex, kinky roleplaying, and graphic nudity. We think about Denise Masino’s 15-minute long videos where the camera lingers up-close near her vagina, giving us a free gynecological exam. We think about Yvette Bova’s 30-minute long videos where she gang bangs multiple guys one after another. We think about Brandi Mae Akers leaving nothing to the imagination. Normally, this is how our society defines “porn.” Explicit. Raunchy. Graphic. Socially unacceptable. Taboo. Forbidden. Guilt-ridden.

But technically speaking, this isn’t always true. “Porn” is defined on Wikipedia as “the portrayal of sexual subject matter for the exclusive purpose of sexual arousal.” That’s it. Any media that stimulates sexual arousal. It doesn’t have to be explicit, though it often is. It can be as hardcore as anything you’ll find on Pornhub or Xhamster, or as nongraphic as anything you’ll find on YouTube. Does graphic nudity occasionally slip through YouTube’s filters and community guidelines? Sure. But you know what I mean.

This is what I mean by FBB porn being appropriate for the whole family. It’s not literally true, but technically true. You may not gather the whole family around the dinner table and watch videos of Debbie Bramwell flexing her biceps for the camera, but you wouldn’t hesitate to take your family out to a shopping mall (back when such institutions were open, of course) and occasionally stroll by a Victoria’s Secret store. Those wall-to-wall advertisements that stretch from the ceiling to the floor are just as explicit as what you’ll see in the three videos I’ve shared. Yet, we don’t necessarily consider those corporate promotional displays as being pornographic.

Moar Alina Popa content, plz.

But in a way, they are. Which, by extension, also means modest videos of FBBs strutting around in their underwear are also pornographic.

However, it’s not just the surface-level content of those videos that make them so erotically charged. It’s the reaction they get from us. Debbie Bramwell isn’t my favorite FBB of all time, but in the moment as I’m watching her flex for the camera in white lace underwear, she might as well be a Muscle Goddess Sent From Heaven. Because she sure seems like one! But this illustrates the fascinating dynamic at play. It’s the ultimate irony. I could watch an hour-long video of generic skinny ladies in their early 20s have group sex with a bunch of generic faceless dudes and get bored really fast. We see boobs bouncing up and down. We see pussies being pounded into submission. We see semen get blasted in their faces. We see lots of explicit stuff that’s without question NSFW. But it’s all so boring. And basic. And uncreative. And sleep-inducing.

Yet, I can watch that video of Debbie (if you do the math, you basically get about 60 seconds worth of Debbie content) with my eyes glued to the screen and hope I don’t suffer cardiac arrest when it’s all over. I’m captivated. My imagination goes into overdrive. I feel the sudden urge to relieve my tension in the privacy of my apartment. The same goes for Lindsay content. And Alina content. And when I scroll through Cindy Landolt’s Instagram pages.

On the surface, it’s appropriate for the whole family. But for a certain number of us, it sends our hormones into thermonuclear warfare. The 90% of her body that Debbie is willing to show off is 10,000 times more erotic than the 100% your typical nameless pornographic actress will display ad nauseam. Maybe 10,000 is an underestimation.

We are frustrated that Debbie won’t show off her goods. We are itching to reach through our computer screens, tear off her underwear, and toss it into the garbage can where it belongs. We crave to see Debbie in her full glory. Yet, we don’t need to. Debbie has generously shown us everything we need to see. We are not entitled to more. We should be thankful for the content we already have at our fingertips.

Thus, this is the perplexing predicament we find ourselves in. What really sets us off is, oddly enough, the benign. What really turns us on are women who possess a physique that only the 1% of the 1% of the 1% can say they’ve attained. Debbie, Lindsay, and Alina are in rare company. They are unicorns. They are the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Because of this, it doesn’t take much for them to make us go mad. We become crazy, deranged, and uncontrollably irrational at the simplest things.

A beautiful woman in her underwear.

A beautiful woman in a bikini.

A beautiful woman working out at the gym.

A beautiful woman walking down the street.

It’s all so uncomplicated. Yet so majestic. The whole family can see things like it on an everyday basis, but not everyone will appreciate it as much. Not everyone agrees that female bodybuilders are gorgeous creatures who deserve respect. Not everyone is in that camp.

But we are. And that’s a beautiful thing.

To See Her is to Understand Her

To understand Yvette Bova, feast your eyes on her body. It’s the right thing to do.

“It’s impolite to stare” is a common piece of advice many of our mothers and grandmothers gave to us as children.

Whether the object we were staring at was a person in a wheelchair, a short person with dwarfism, or a man wearing a dress; the point our elder was trying to make is that by staring at this person for a longer than normal amount of time, we could be making them feel uncomfortable, singled out, or “freakish.” Nobody wants to feel like a social outcast, even if their outward appearance suggests the sentiment isn’t misplaced.

To not stare is to imply that this person should be treated as “normal,” even if they are not. Or even if they are intentionally trying to not be normal. You can’t tell me someone with a face tattoo doesn’t know this will bring additional attention to their appearance. If they get annoyed with people staring and asking them questions about it, why did they acquire it in the first place?

But the point is well taken. Very few of us want to be stared at because we don’t want to feel like an anomaly. We want to be accepted for who we are and not thought of as an outlier. People who appear abnormal on the outside – for whatever reason – just want to be accepted as normal. A small child stopping, staring, and *gasp* coming up to them and asking unwanted questions violates that very principle. So mom and grandma were correct (as usual). Just put yourself in their shoes (or high heels) and ask yourself how you would like to be treated.

This same idea, naturally, doesn’t always apply to female bodybuilders. FBBs, on the other hand, look the way they look by choice. They did not get there by accident or by happenstance. An FBB’s intentional choice to sculpt their bodies to look a certain way is etched into every muscle fiber. You see a female bodybuilder’s body and you can tell – with absolutely no ambiguity – who she is, what she stands for, and what her worldview revolves around.

Debi Laszewski has achieved her Final Form.

Can you tell who she voted for in the last presidential election or whether she prefers Elvis or the Beatles? Well, no. You can’t derive information that specific, but you can certainly deduce that she works out regularly, eats differently, and can probably defeat you in an arm-wrestling contest pretty easily. That much is really darn obvious.

Unlike a burn victim whose scars will forever tell the story of that tragic incident, a female bodybuilder proactively decides to be as bulky, sculpted, and aesthetically pleasing as she wants to be. It’s a choice, not a designation. Her muscles are part of her identity; an identity that she’s chosen to craft from scratch. And her hard work must be appreciated. After all, what’s the point of looking great if no one is around to look at you?

Whenever a female bodybuilder goes out in public, she knows that she will be stared at. And not just by children, but by everyone. Most well-behaved adults will try to be as inconspicuous as possible when they look at her. Some will be more successful than others at hiding their intentions. Whether you are intrigued by what you see, disgusted, grossed out, confused, curious, or uncontrollably aroused, we can all agree that one cannot simply look upon a muscular woman and not have any kind of emotional reaction. Unless you are so accustomed to being around female bodybuilders that seeing one in public is as mundane as seeing a Seattle hipster wearing flannel. If this is the case with you, please let me know where you live ASAP!

But here’s the difference. Whereas a person with a physical deformity or handicap deserves to be treated with respect and not singled out for being different, a female bodybuilder looks different on purpose…and wants to be looked at as being unique.

This, of course, doesn’t excuse rude comments, insults, or physical harassment. Then again, why anybody would want to provoke a strong female bodybuilder who could beat your ass to a pulp is beyond me. But I digress.

Go ahead. Look at Sondra Faas. It’s okay.

FBBs know they look unusual. They know their lifestyle (hours upon hours spent lifting at the gym, strict dieting, etc.) is out of the ordinary. They know not everyone approves of a woman having big muscles. They know they’re taking a risk. They know they could fail. They know they’re challenging taboos, social expectations, and norms. But these warnings do not deter them from pursuing their dreams. In fact, the desire to openly defy these realities may be fueling their life’s work.

So when an FBB goes to the grocery store (back before everyone had to wear face masks and carry around sanitizing wipes everywhere), she can expect that people will stop and stare at her. And you know what? That’s exactly the idea. Maybe not in every case, but generally speaking. Many FBBs talk about how fun it is for people to stare at them in public. They intentionally wear tight clothing because it shows off their muscles. They aren’t annoyed by the additional attention, but rather are flattered by it. Within reason, of course.

But more than feeding one’s ego, it’s important to remember why bodybuilders – both male and female – choose to do what they do. They build their bodies up to look a certain way because it makes them feel empowered, strong, dynamic, superhuman, and yes, freakish (but in a good way). This concept goes into overdrive when we’re talking about women who pursue bodybuilding.

Men are socially expected to be strong alpha providers. While technology, science, engineering, and innovation have made “strength” in the traditional sense somewhat obsolete for survival (we no longer have to hunt and gather our food, but instead patiently wait in line at Costco at least six feet apart from each other), the symbolic importance of physical strength still survives. There’s no practical reason for Ronnie Coleman, Jay Cutler, or Phil Heath to get as massive as they are. But there are plenty of reasons to do so from a professional perspective. You know we’ve advanced as a society when people can earn a living doing impractical – but awesome – things. Gaining hundreds of pounds of muscle isn’t going to make it easier for you to pay your mortgage, but the product endorsement deals you get because of your muscles certainly will.

Kim Buck on full display.

Okay, okay, so men are expected to be strong. We are accustomed to seeing men look big, muscular, invincible, and dominant. But what about women?

There’s no need to go too deep into this, but women are taking a much bigger risk in getting super bulky than men are. Their unnatural muscle mass makes them more unusual because we don’t expect women to ever get that big. Not because they are not able to, but because our society doesn’t encourage them to. The “strong independent woman” trope is more about attitude than it is about practicality. We want to raise our daughters to be mentally and emotionally strong, as opposed to literally strong. Unless you want your little girl to grow up to be a millionaire MMA fighter who can subsidize your future retirement.

All of this is to say that a woman with big muscles is a woman who defies social norms, whether she intends to or not. A woman gains big muscles proactively, not passively. And in doing so, she’s opening up herself to the types of criticism and backlash that a male counterpart would not face. So, what does this all mean?

This means that she is meant to be stared at. Maybe not intentionally, but in principle. An FBB is meant to be looked at. Her body of work (pun intended) is meant to be appreciated. It is meant to be a spectacle. She is a work of art who deserves to be displayed at a museum, even if this museum is more symbolic than literal. In this case, the museum she is displayed in is the real world she inhabits. A supermarket. A public park. A gym. A church. A busy street corner. A nightclub. A library. A restaurant. A bar. An airport. And so on.

Look at Kim Birtch. LOOK. AT. HER.

Wherever she is, whatever she’s doing, she’s meant to be seen. Because to see her is to understand her. You understand her raison d’etre. Her life’s purpose. Her muscles aren’t meant to be hidden. Her muscles aren’t a secret. They should be proudly exhibited as openly as possible.

Here’s a great example. Watch this video of Margie Martin at the 2019 Wings of Strength Rising Phoenix World Championship. It shows a portion of the show where an interviewer speaks to all (or most) of the contestants in front of the whole audience. Watch and be prepared to be dazzled:

Whew! Wow!!! What a moment. What a time to be alive. Can you imagine what it would have been like to be there at that moment in time? I think many of us would have passed out if we saw Margie unexpectedly strip down to a bikini – or try our best to suppress an uncomfortable erection straining in our underwear.

This moment perfectly encapsulates what I’m talking about when I say “to see her is to understand her.” Margie’s beautiful body doesn’t deserve to be hidden underneath that dress (despite her dress leaving little to the imagination as it is). Her beautiful body deserves to be proudly presented in front of an audience of hundreds of screaming fans. Her body deserves adoration. She deserves those screams and applause. That single moment was when Margie was at the Peak of Her Purpose. When her body was being SEEN by everyone in plain sight.

Granted, it would have been socially inappropriate for her to have stripped completely naked. So sporting just a bikini was the maximum of how far she could have gone. But the larger idea remains intact: she was bare. Or as bare as she could possibly be. Her nudity (or near nudity) didn’t make her vulnerable, however. The exact opposite, in fact. Her nude state made her as powerful as she could ever be. Wearing that dress was a disservice to herself, her identity, and her very philosophical purpose. In order for her to fulfill her maximum utility, she had to be as naked as possible in front of as large an audience as possible. There’s no other way around it. It was almost a requirement. Anything less than that would have been an abdication of duty.

Once her dress came off, she had accomplished her personal version of Nirvana. She had reached her summit. Her peak. Her true self. Her real form had finally taken shape. Not just the fact that she had spent the last several months training to become as hypermuscular as possible. No, more than that. In that moment, her body was being seen by the public. By the world. By the whole universe. Even God Himself had to stop whatever He was doing and say out loud, “Damn! She looks great!!!” This was the moment when her final form had reached its zenith.

This is how a female bodybuilder fulfills her destiny. When she’s SEEN. When people are LOOKING at her. When her body is out in the open, almost as in-your-face as possible. When she’s not holding back. When her audience gets more than they bargained for. More than they wanted. More than they actually deserved. When people are staring at her, they are not only doing her a service, they are almost obliged to. We are obligated to SEE her body. We MUST stare at her because to not stare at her would be a sin. It would be a moral failure on our part.

In that moment, Margie was making a statement, whether she knew it or not. She was making a statement that her body must be looked at. Closely. Inspected. Judged. Appreciated. Loved. If you want to truly understand who Margie is and why she does what she does, all you have to do is see her.

See.

Her.

Look.

At.

Her.

Watch.

Her.

Observe.

Her.

Margie’s body isn’t just a part of her identity. It’s the very foundation of her identity. If you don’t look at her body, you will never understand who she is. You’d be a blind person trying to describe an elephant to another blind person. You can try your best but you’ll always fail. In this spirit, go ahead. Look at her. Stare at her. Feast your eyes on her. Make sure she is SEEN. When you look at her body, you aren’t just looking at her body – you’re looking at her soul.

Building muscles is her job. Seeing those muscles is yours.