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 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 3: The Master Plan

As smoke billows out from the makeshift barbecue pit, Stephen Callahan’s eyes begin to get watery. Rising out from the ground and surrounding him like an ash-filled blanket, it prompts him to try to remember the last time he shed tears.

Was it after the verdict was read by the judge? Or right after “lights out” during his first night in the federal penitentiary? Or was it after his first confessional with the prison priest?

Stephen cannot for the life of him recall at the moment. Perhaps it was before all of this shit had transpired. Or not.

For three long years, Stephen has been planning his revenge against his former boss. To him, Dylan Tanaka isn’t a bad man but rather a dishonorable one. He got away scott-free while Stephen had to sit in a federal prison cell for 1,095 days – stewing in his emotions, denied his freedom. Stephen knows what he did was wrong. But what he objects to is the fact that he got punished for it – and well as witnessed his reputation suffer – while Dylan simply was forced to resign from his position as CEO, pay a fine that he had no trouble paying, and quietly retire from public life. If unofficial house arrest in his palatial mansion is his “punishment,” then the least Stephen deserved was a mighty slap on the wrist. Which he did not end up getting.

“Lunch is almost ready, my man,” Xander, a professional thief he just met a week ago, happily reports to the team leader. Xander is a man recommended by Thomas Sellars, whom Stephen considers in high regard. While in prison, Stephen met Mr. Sellars, a professional safecracker who was caught breaking into a high-end New York City jewelry store and stealing nearly $1.8 million worth of merchandise (the majority of that coming in the form of a rare 1948 edition of a Rue de Pierre Flaubert Modernité XIIV wristwatch). He was convicted of that – as well as a robbery of Caesars Palace’s main casino vault in Las Vegas – and sentenced to five years in prison. Thomas was serving his final year just as Stephen was beginning his first. They formed a “friendship” (which tend to be dubious in nature due to the circumstances of living together with someone in forced confinement) and started plotting what they’d love to accomplish once they both get out. One ingenious plot they came up with was the one they are about to execute later tonight.

“Thanks Xan. Smells great,” Stephen says. “But no beer until tomorrow, remember?”

“Oh yeah, we’re staying clean and sober till our job is done,” Xander reassures his boss. “We all are. I got that, chief. Don’t worry about me.”

“Good. Thanks.”

Xander returns to the barbecue pit. He splashes a bit more honey glaze on the beef ribs so they don’t dry out too much. Roddy and Cortez, two of the other hired hands who’s worked with Thomas before, are lounging around on lawn chairs sipping Gatorade. It’s not their usual beverage of choice.

Clean and sober until tonight.

Clean and sober until tonight

Clean and sober until tonight.

“We can’t let anything distract us,” Stephen whispers to himself. He wipes away a cloud of smoke with both hands.

Stephen does feel a bit apprehensive about tonight’s job, but that’s natural. Until three years ago, he never considered himself a criminal. He always imagined the “bad guys” to be people not like him: Destructive, amoral, violent, psychopathic, jaded, and social misfits. It never occurred to him that crimes are committed for a wide range of reasons – fear, vengeance, impulsiveness, desperation, mental illness, social conditioning, and so on. His perspective of the world has certainly evolved over the past several years. Now, crime is not just something “bad people” do. Instead, it’s a clause in our Social Contract. Written (unofficially) in fine print. When society has wronged you, it is perfectly justifiable to wrong them back. Without such a system, where is the justice?

It’s not personal. It’s just business.

Dylan Tanaka has wronged Stephen Callahan. So it’s only fair to wrong him back. Thomas, Xander, Roddy, and Cortez have no direct connections to Dylan, Perseus Analytics, or the congressional show trial that engulfed the nation. However, they know a good score when they see it.

And tonight is guaranteed to be a great score.

In 2014, the year before the New York Times essentially ended his sense of “normalcy,” Stephen and Dylan were working on a top-secret project behind the scenes for the U.S. military. They were developing a prototype for a robotic suit that troops could wear on the battlefield. Basically, it took bullet-proof vests, helmets, communications equipment, and other types of armor to the next level. Far from being like Tony Stark in “Iron Man,” these suits couldn’t fly or shoot out laser blasts, but they were sturdy as hell, agile, and contained AI technology that could alert them to enemy movements, strategy, and predict future behavior. Not surprisingly, the military fell in love with the idea of what Dylan and Stephen were working on. Pilotless drones were fine, but sometimes you needed human boots on the ground to do the dirty work you can’t do from the sky. And, casualties are bad for morale back home. It’s terrible publicity. It causes voters to demand that wars come to an end well before the mission is complete. So, how do you fight wars with people without endangering those people?

This is when Perseus Analytics swept in. Already a trusted government contractor, PA’s top engineers drew up several plans for developing this “Battlefield Smart Armor Tech” that would eventually be presented to high-ranking military and government officials. The BSAT Program was in its infancy when the bombshell New York Times report made everything come to a crashing halt. The news that innocent Iraqi and Syrian civilians were being incinerated to death did not sit well with the public. Of course, they had few objections to the hundreds of terrorists PA’s technology helped kill. But photographs of charred men, women, and children should make anybody’s stomach churn.

After the federal trial wrapped up, Dylan quietly put all his research – blueprints, sketchbooks, CDs, DVDs, photographs, computer models on external hard drives, USB flash drives, and even a personal diary kept by Stephen himself – into a large impenetrable safety vault somewhere in his mansion. The BSAT Program may have come to an end, but the dream lives on.

That vault contains information that, if utilized by a rival tech company, could be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Warfare is costly (especially in terms of soldiers’ lives), so anything governments can do to reduce that cost – with no regard to innocent civilians, of course – would be invaluable. Priceless. Coveted. Worth a damn fortune.

Tonight, Stephen and his crew plan to break into Dylan’s home, steal every piece of intel they can, and sell it to the highest bidder on the black market. Stephen may or may not kill Dylan in the process. He hasn’t decided yet. But afterward, all five men are guaranteed to become rich beyond their wildest dreams. There are already two interested buyers whom Stephen has already spoken to. Both have the financial resources to participate in this expensive transaction. No more petty crimes. No more jobs. No more “living the life” because there would no longer be any need to steal anything.

Stephen approaches Roddy and Cortez casually, wanting to take the temperature of the whole crew. “Hello fellas. How are things going? Nervous for tonight?”

“Nah, we should be fine. He has basic security and no armed guards at his place, right?” Cortez asks. He takes a sip of his Gatorade.

“That’s correct. His self-imposed exile has made his life so low-key he doesn’t think he needs it,” Stephen hypothesizes. “That means we can just simply walk up to the front door, knock, invite ourselves in, threaten him with our weapons, and take what we came to take.”

“Holy shit! Seriously? It’s going to be that easy?” Roddy asks. Stephen laughs.

“No, it’s going to be a little more complicated than that. But don’t worry. I’ve got it all figured out.” Stephen looks at both men, hoping neither of them is having second thoughts about tonight’s score. It would be a shame if anyone got cold feet this late in the game.

Roddy and Cortez nod along, seemingly happy with the plan. This puts Stephen at ease. As it were, the plan is to arrive at Dylan’s home in two separate vehicles. Stephen and Thomas would arrive in Stephen’s Buick; while Xander, Roddy, and Cortez would arrive in a spacious SUV with plenty of room to store their loot. They’d park their cars a block away at around 11:00, activate the anti-security system measures at around midnight, sneak onto the property, and armed with Glock 19s (Xander claims he has an Uzi, but no one has seen it yet), break in through the back door, and calmly round up Dylan Tanaka and put him in the basement. They would take his phone away and threaten to kill him (and any unlucky son of a bitch who happens to be there) if he disobeys.

Stephen anticipates Dylan will most likely be alone. From a safe distance, he and his team have spent a lot of time scoping out the joint. The landscaper shows up a few times a month. A couple of women (both of them hot, it should be noted) visit during the day but never on weekends. Henry, the cook, leaves by 7:00 p.m. Lawrence, the butler, normally leaves about an hour after that. Sometimes two hours. But by midnight, everyone should be gone except for the owner of the house. Dylan Tanaka.

He’ll occasionally have company over, but it’s usually a small crowd of no more than four or five guests. Assuming none of them are packing heat, Stephen and his crew should have no issues handling a small crowd – assuming such a small crowd will even exist tonight. Stephen doubts it. His former boss is living as a hermit. All alone. Living life aimlessly with no clear purpose. No more parties with celebrities. No more luncheons with politicians, powerful businessmen, and global influencers. That part of his life is over.

If Dylan refuses to hand over the loot willingly, Thomas says he can crack the safe in two or three hours. Most personal home safety vaults contain either a combination lock or a keypad and password. Thomas guesses the vault’s steel walls should be at least two inches thick. Using his supremely sharp drill, it might take a few hours to crack open the door. But none of them suspect it’ll come down to that. Most likely, Dylan will succumb to his survival instincts and just open the vault himself without putting up a fight. He knows the secrets contained in that vault cannot stay hidden forever. Eventually, it will come out into the light. But he has no idea tonight would be that day. Or who would show up to snatch it.

Once they get the booty, everyone will quietly exit the house, get into their vehicles, and drive back to the safehouse using different routes (so traffic cameras can’t spot them as easily).

So that’s it. That’s the master plan.

But right now, all Stephen and his crew are thinking about is lunch.

The safehouse is located in Cle Elum, a small town in Central Washington. About a two-hour drive away from Seattle (depending on traffic), it’s far enough from the crime scene that no one will suspect they’re holed up there. But it’s also close enough that they can drive there, steal their loot, and drive back before the sun rises.

“Let’s eat! Have at it,” Xander announces. Everyone hovers over the grill to see what’s been cooking. Ribs, corn on the cob, potato fingerlings, and some kind of homemade coleslaw. In addition to being a former U.S. Marine who was dishonorably discharged from active service after participating in a robbery of an Iraqi museum (he and a few of his fellow Marines drunkenly stole some priceless artifacts after one of their translators dared them to. They were caught and subsequently kicked out of the military after a speedy court-martial), Xander is apparently an excellent cook. He may have done that while on active duty. Or not.

“You know, I have a feeling – a gut feeling, you know – that this guy may not be alone tonight,” Roddy says nervously. “When I was there earlier this morning, he, I don’t know, seemed to be in a different kind of mood, you know? Like, he was excited for something, you know?” Taking a generous bite out of a succulent piece of barbecued beef rib, Roddy leaned against a moldy wooden picnic table to eat his lunch. The past few Saturdays, Stephen has sent at least one person on the team to scope out Dylan’s property in order to learn about his daily routine, movement patterns, and report back anything unusual. That, and to become familiar with the terrain.

“Excited for what? I’ve known the man for a long time,” Stephen says, cracking open a can of LaCroix. He sips it. “He doesn’t usually wear his emotions on his sleeve. Did he say anything strange?”

“Nah, man. I couldn’t hear him exactly, but he had, I don’t know, sort of like a skip in his step, know what I mean?” Roddy tries to replicate how he observed Dylan walk around the house, but it doesn’t seem to persuade anyone that anything would be out of the ordinary. Everyone shakes their heads dismissively.

“You’re just imagining things, my dude,” Cortez reassures him. “Please don’t tell me you were smoking weed at the time. That shit smells. And he notices bullshit like that, remember? I learned that the hard way.”

Stephen looks up at the group, chewing on a piece of grilled potato. “He does, yeah. Several years ago we sat next to each other at a board meeting and he literally could smell on my breath what I had for dinner the night before. It was pretty fucking insane. I brushed my teeth the night before, trust me. I’ve never met anyone who had that great sense of smell.” He meanders toward Roddy, eyeballing him carefully but not with any hint of intimidation. “Were you lighting up near his property?”

Roddy smiles sheepishly, trying to diffuse any hint of him messing up the mission. “Nah, man. It was nine o’clock in the fucking morning, dude! I don’t smoke that early, man. Nah, that ain’t me, bruh. Don’t worry about it, we’re good.” Seemingly convinced by his defense, Stephen resumes eating his lunch. Roddy looks around at the others. Nobody looks back at him. Thomas, who’s been silent practically the whole time, burps loudly. He stands up and grabs a second beef rib from the grill pit.

“Good. Let’s not be reckless. Not today. Not now. We’ve come this far, we’re not fucking up now.” Thomas rips a huge chunk of meat from the bone like a primitive caveman. He swallows it quickly, almost as if he didn’t even chew on it. “Clean and sober until tonight, am I right?”

“Fuck yeah, my man. Clean and sober until tonight, yeah, yeah, yeah,” Cortez grins. He finishes his Gatorade and tosses the bottle in a nearby recycling bin.

“Clean and sober until tonight,” Xander repeats.

“Because this time tomorrow, all five of us will be on our way to become rich beyond our wildest dreams,” Stephen promises. “Seriously. Whatever petty amount of money you’ve made before will pale in comparison to what we’re going to acquire from this. And that you can believe.”

“Here, here!” Roddy exclaims.

Roddy, who was in fact smoking pot earlier this morning while he was sneaking around Dylan’s spacious property, hopes his eyes aren’t bloodshot, which could reveal his lie. Still, he doubts this rich guy can smell that well from a distance. Nevertheless, he hopes his incessant smoking – which he does mostly to relieve himself of anxiety, which becomes more prevalent on the day of a risky job – didn’t blow his cover or the cover of the team. That would be fucking brutal. Not to mention he’d never work with this outfit – or any outfit – ever again. It would be career suicide. Word spreads fast in the business when people screw up big time.

After lunch, Stephen plans to gather everyone around and meticulously go over the master plan once more. If he’s learned anything during his brief life outside of prison, it’s that it’s impossible to be overprepared when you’re about to do something like this. Poor planning, complacency, or forgetfulness is a one-way ticket back to the slammer. And that’s something Stephen refuses to experience again. He’s done that before. He’s not doing that a second time.

No way. No fucking way.

***

After a brief ten-minute jog on the treadmill, Dylan walks into his home gym, an expansive room in his basement that contains enough equipment to open his own CrossFit business. Well, that might be an exaggeration, but it’s pretty damn close.

Dylan has always been (fairly) in shape, but never as much as he is now. During his days as a celebrity CEO, Dylan rarely had time to do anything health-wise. He’s always eaten right, never smokes, and drinks occasionally (a classic “social drinker”). But now that he has much more time on his hands, Dylan regularly works out in his home gym an average of 4 to 5 times a week. After all, he has nothing better to do with his copious spare time but run, lift weights, stretch, and down protein shakes afterward.

The other reason he built this gym was so his guests could have a place to work out while they’re over. Tonight won’t be the first time Melanie, Peggy, and Monique have visited his residence. Nor are they the only female bodybuilders and athletes he’s had over. Locally, 3 to 4 times a week a young woman named Lindsay Wells – a CrossFit star in the making – comes over to train. In fact, she comes here (where she doesn’t have to pay a membership fee) more often than she goes to her actual CF gym. In exchange, Lindsay is more than happy to “entertain” Dylan for an hour or two after she’s finished. She lives up in Snohomish, which is only about 35 minutes away in good traffic.

It’s a small price to pay for accessing world-class exercise equipment for free! There is also no crowd of creepy guys hitting on her or staring at her while she works out.

Dylan also invites Laura Kang, a half-Taiwanese amateur bodybuilder who lives down in Olympia, over for dinner about once a month. Her husband and 6 kids (you read that right!) have no idea she does that. They just think she drives up to Seattle for “business reasons,” which isn’t technically inaccurate. She’s 48-years-old but looks half that, a testament to the fact she’s Asian and she treats skincare like a religious ritual. She and Dylan have never had sex (that’s a strict limitation for her), but she appreciates a quiet place to lift and enjoy a fantastic Henry-cooked meal afterward.

All Dylan asks for is to be able to “worship” her for an hour in his bedroom. She gladly obliges. Then, she goes home and resumes her life as a working mom.

Today, Dylan decides to go light. A few sets of dumbbell back rows, pull-ups, seated dumbbell shoulder presses, front raises, and lat pull-downs are all that’s necessary for now. He usually finishes with stretching and several sets of incline bench sit-ups. Normally, Dylan does deadlifts on Saturdays, but today he’ll play it safe and not do any significant heavy lifting. He’s always cautious, but today is a special day – it could very well be the best day of the year! – and he wouldn’t want to accidentally injure himself in any way.

“Got to get the blood flowing, especially for tonight!” Dylan gleefully tells himself. He picks up a towel to wipe the sweat off his face.

Dylan is pretty sure Lindsay came over yesterday, but he can’t be certain. He can usually smell her scent. Miss Wells probably needs to consume more magnesium in her diet because her musky odor is noticeable even 24 hours after visiting. Then again, Dylan does possess remarkable olfactory senses, so perhaps he’s being a little (pardon the expression) oversensitive. He makes a mental note to talk with her about this the next time he sees her.

“I wonder if the four of us should work out together tomorrow morning before everyone leaves?” Dylan wonders aloud. Then, he proceeds to make his pre-workout smoothie. He pours protein powder, a banana, yogurt, and other frozen fruits into a blender and turns it on. The loud whirring of the machine fills the entire room. The thought of the four of them lifting weights together in the privacy of his own home is quite…arousing.

“Unless Henry wants his own private time with Peggy, of course. Devilish man, that Henry is.” He stops the machine, opens the lid, sticks his finger in it, and tastes the smoothie. It meets his standard of excellence. Dylan pours himself a tall glass and drinks it as quickly as he can. This turns out to be a mistake once “brain freeze” takes over and gives him a headache.

“Damnit! I got to be more careful next time.”

An hour later, Dylan walks over to the shower stalls located right next to the weight room. It contains four showerheads in one large room. Perfect for himself, Melanie, Peggy, and Monique! The very thought of the four of them, naked together and showering off their sweat and grime, is enough to give Dylan an unexpected erection. He looks down at his hardened penis, smiles, and chastises it. “Calm down, little fellow! You’re in for a real treat after dinner tonight. Just keep calm. Don’t want to get too excited yet! Your time will come. Literally.”

After drying off, Dylan gets dressed, puts on his shoes, and heads outside to take a casual stroll through the neighborhood.

This beautiful summer-like weather won’t enjoy itself, after all. Time to get some Vitamin D.

***

“You seem nervous. But you shouldn’t be,” Thomas says to Stephen, who’s noticeably twiddling his thumbs with enough anxious energy to power a whole skyscraper. Both men are still outside, lunch being long over. The other three companions are inside either cleaning their weapons or going over the schedule again.

“I know. We’ve done our due diligence. We’ve spied him outside his home almost every day for the past five weeks. We know his daily patterns, his sleep schedule, his normal activities, everything. We know who comes in and out of his house,” Stephen says. “I shouldn’t be nervous. But I am. Don’t know why.” He spits on the ground.

“I think you’re nervous about seeing him again, not the job,” Thomas replies, channeling his inner psychologist. This isn’t the first time he’s had to calm down an anxious colleague. “We have five armed guys robbing one rich guy with minimal security systems. And your guy is taking care of that. We have the clear advantage. His butler won’t be there. His fucking cook won’t either. The bitches who come over to work out won’t be there either. We’re good. We’re good to go.”

“Yeah, I know.”

Stephen stands up to stretch his legs. He hates long drives, which the five of them will be embarking on soon. The plan is to leave Cle Elum at 9:30 p.m. and arrive in Seattle at around 11:00 p.m. From there, things should be pretty straightforward. Stephen has a man inside the company that provides Dylan his security. He’ll make contact with him to get the party started. Once inside, the only issue is how easily Dylan surrenders and delivers to him what he wants. Will he put up a fight? Or will he capitulate the moment a gun is pointed at his forehead? And if he does, what will this vault be like? Can Dylan easily open it himself, or has he installed some special security protocol where a second authorized person (who could very well be thousands of miles away) has to help him open it? This is the nightmare scenario that is somewhat keeping Stephen on his toes.

But that’s why Thomas is along for the ride. He’s an expert safecracker who can do it all – and has seen it all. In fact, he was the one who suggested the possibility of the two-person authorization protocol (heck, it could require three or four people to open up this fucking vault, depending on how valuable its contents are). That’s why he’s bringing his high-powered drill and other specialized equipment with him. Just in case.

“Well, I’m guessing this’ll be much easier than we think it’s going to be. At first, I was concerned that he’ll have advanced systems like security cameras, electric fences, or even a 24-hour armed guard standing at attention at the front door. Thankfully, that’s not the case,” Thomas says. “Like you said before, he’s a loner and a social pariah. Who the fuck would want to break into his house anyway? Tourists? People looking for his autograph?”

“People like us, my dude. People like us.” Stephen and Thomas fist bump. Inside the safe house, they can hear Xander and Roddy arguing about which version of the Remington RP is better. It’s unclear who’s winning the argument. Probably neither of them. Cortez seems to be taking a nap on the sofa.

The two men who sat next to each other at the prison lunch table for nearly a year exchange a quick glance before returning back inside.

There’s work to do.

Out of Bodybuilder Experience (part 1 of 2)

Helle Trevino wearing a sexy bikini.

“Want to hear a secret?”

Max, having just stripped down to nothing but his boxers, was about to approach Emily’s beautiful right bicep and kiss it before she unexpectedly asked this question.

“Uh, yeah. Sure. What is it?” Max Shimura politely asks. He walks right up to Emily, dressed in a sexy revealing white satin slip dress, and places his warm lips onto her hard bicep peak. He recalls her arms being 16.5 inches in circumference, but that could be when she’s in “competition shape.” Regardless, they seem noticeably bigger since the last time he saw her.

“This building is haunted. The front desk guy told me when I checked in.”

Genuinely curious, Max stops kissing her muscular arm and turns to face her. He gets lost in her gorgeous ocean blue eyes before refocusing on the conversation at hand. “Really? As in haunted by a specific ghost, or by mysterious apparitions in general?”

“By a ghost, I think,” she says. Emily Jakobsson is a 30-year-old professional bodybuilder and athletic apparel model from Sweden. Like many Scandinavian women, she has dense bone structure and the genetic makeup to grow large, impressive muscle mass. Max first saw her for a muscle worship session about 8 years ago when she was a 22-year-old powerlifter and he was a poor 20-year-old college student. The $350 he spent to see her that evening made a significant dent in his modest bank account, but it left quite an impression. He instantly became infatuated with her. Dare say, he fell in love? Max knows these sessions aren’t romantic in nature (he’s pretty sure she’s married, or at least engaged), but he can’t help but dream.

“Not sure who specifically, but he says somewhere within the halls, guests have seen the white figure of a dead woman float around in mid-air,” she says. A casual fan of the paranormal himself, Max actually wants to know more to this story. He’s not one for hunting ghosts, but if it’s right here in this very building, he definitely doesn’t need to travel far. “I haven’t seen her yet, but I’d love to!”

“Yeah, no kidding. I didn’t know this building was haunted, but I do know that this place wasn’t always a hotel. I believe it used to be an insane asylum,” Max says. “World War I era, I think. Maybe later. I don’t know exactly.”

Emily’s eyes widen. Max quickly steals a glance at her broad shoulders before returning his gaze toward her lovely face. “Seriously? That’s some top-notch horror movie shit right there!”

“Well, to be fair I think it was technically a regular hospital that happened to have a mental ward,” Max recalls. “It may have been in the basement? Who knows…”

Max places his fingers onto Emily’s sculpted pecs. She kindly flexes them in response. But she still seems preoccupied by the possibility of ghosts haunting the building to focus on giving her client a good time. No worries, though. Max appreciates Emily’s body with or without her attention being on him. From head to toe, Emily is a sight to behold. He can only count on one hand other women who’ve achieved her flawless balance of natural beauty, femininity, muscle mass, symmetry, and fun personality.

“Still, that’s quite a coincidence,” she observes.

Emily motions for Max to lift her dress over her head. He happily obliges. Wearing nothing but a creamy orange-colored bikini and stiletto heels, Emily is in full Goddess Mode. She lifts her left leg up and impressively bounces her quads up and down, mesmerizing her client. They have to be at least 28 inches around. Maybe 30 inches? Max can’t help but feel a chill go down his spine just thinking about it. He can see every striation, every individual muscle dancing in response to her flexing.

“God, you look amazing. Absolutely perfect, Emily.” She stops daydreaming and turns toward Max. She smiles to acknowledge his compliment.

“Why, thank you kind sir. I suppose I should stop talking about ghosts and instead start showing off my rock-hard body!” And with that, Emily does exactly that. Emily takes a small step back to give her room to showcase all the main bodybuilding poses. Max gets down on his knees to watch the Scandinavian Muscle Goddess in action. He reaches out to touch her meaty calves, tree trunk thighs, and bulging hamstrings. He’s always been a leg guy, in case that hasn’t been made clear yet.

“Mmmm, unbelievable. Love these legs. Love how much hard work you put into them.”

“Thanks, darling. Thank you very much. I’m glad someone notices.” She then turns around to show off her back muscles. As wide as a freight train, Max cannot fathom how a woman can be so damn large and remain as unquestionably feminine at the same time. Miss Jakobsson has achieved the seemingly impossible. She’s peerless.

“Oh, I’ve noticed. I follow you on Instagram, so I’ve kept track of–”

Out of nowhere, the lights suddenly start to flicker. Emily stops posing. Max stops regarding her immaculate figure. They both look up at the ceiling light fixture. After about a dozen rapid flickers, it finally goes out. The bathroom fan turns off. The air conditioning unit – which had been blowing in gentle warm air to heat up this small room on this late October evening – stops humming.

Darkness. Nothing but darkness and…eerie silence.

An ominous hotel hallway.

There appears to be a power outage. No need to be an electrician to understand that.

“Well, shit. That sucks,” Emily says. She walks over to the desk phone sitting on a small bedside table. “Is it just us, or has the entire building gone dark?”

“Let me check.” Max quickly pokes his head out the door to see what the hallway looks like. He’s careful not to step outside because he’s wearing nothing but boxer shorts…and sporting a massive erection. How embarrassing would it be if somebody saw that?

“Hm.”

All the lights appear to be on in the long corridor hallway. And, as a side note, there isn’t a single soul in sight. Which seems odd considering how many tourists he saw in the lobby an hour ago, milling around and chatting up a storm. So it must be just their room that’s without power.

Max closes the door. He sees Emily on the phone, speaking to a front desk staff person. She nods her head, mumbles something unintelligible, then hangs up.

“What did they say?”

“They said it’s an old building and that shit like this happens frequently,” she says, rolling her eyes. “They recommend finding the electrical panel and manually switching the room lights back on. If that doesn’t work, they’ll send over a maintenance guy to inspect what’s gone wrong.”

Great. A fucking maintenance guy showing up? That’ll ruin the mood!

Max turns back toward the door to look for the electrical panel. He doesn’t see one. Emily also starts to search. In complete darkness, it’s difficult to see anything. A moment later, she apparently finds it.

“I think this is it.” Emily pulls back a small painting of a 1920s speakeasy hanging on the north-facing wall. “It’s a weird place to put it. And why would they hide it behind a painting?”

Emily tries to open the old rusty metal door situated at eye level. It’s somewhat jammed shut, so she has to force it open with all her (considerable) strength. Once she does, a cloud of dust greets her as the door flies open.

“Oh gross! Ugh.”

Max is now standing behind her. He cannot help but admire her rounded butt. Holy shit, she must squat a lot. Or do endless walking lunges. Or both. Damn! Before he can caress it, a brown leather-bounded book drops to the floor. Emily picks it up.

“What the fuck is this? This isn’t the electrical panel. It’s some sort of safety deposit box,” Max says. He leans over to see what kind of book it is. It appears to be a diary.

“It’s a journal. It’s really old. Take a look at it,” Emily says. She opens the curtain to let in some moonlight. There’s a full moon out with not a single cloud in the sky. Max takes the diary and thumbs through it. Indeed, it’s somebody’s old journal. Emily finds her cell phone, turns on the flashlight app, and shines it on the crusty yellow pages of the diary. Max finds a random passage and decides to read it.

“My love for you is unending. It has no bounds. But society will not let us be together. I am unwell and everyone knows it. You have your whole life in front of you. You say you want to go off and fight in the war against the Germans. While you are in the trenches, I shall be here. Rotting away in my little room. All alone.” Max reads aloud.

“Damn. That’s sad. It must be the personal diary of a former patient here. You said it used to be a hospital, right?” Emily asks. Max nods his head. He continues to read:

“The world will not allow us to be together. But we are stronger than that. We are meant to be together, in love, for all eternity. If we cannot be together in this life, we shall be together in the next life. I know a witch who understands the ancient incantations. She has taught me how to give us eternal life. So no matter what happens, we will live our lives together in love forever and ever. With or without society’s approval. I love you, Private Max Kincaid. Sincerely, Emily Carroll. August 7, 1916.”

Both Emily and Max are silent for a moment, deep in thought.

“Whoa. I mean, holy fucking shit. Her name is Emily and his name is Max. Just like us!” Max whispers to Emily. She too is stunned. This shocking coincidence disturbs them both.

“This is from World War I. This Emily Carroll girl seems like a patient at this hospital. She says she’s ‘unwell,’ so that probably means she was a mental patient,” Emily ponders. “And Max Kincaid is a private, so that must mean he was in the military. Maybe he worked at this hospital as an orderly. Or maybe he was a patient as well, but not a mental patient. Just a regular one.”

“Fort Brennan is 30 miles away from here. Maybe he was injured in a basic training accident. Wow. What a find! I wonder if the local museum would want this.” Max wonders aloud.

A leather-bound diary.

“She mentions knowing a witch. Was Emily Carroll into witchcraft?” Emily asks. She takes the book, finds another random page, and reads out loud: “Today is the day we choose to die together. Our fates are bound. There is no going back. This is the path we choose. At the stroke of midnight, we will slice our throats and bleed out all the hate that has been oppressing us. All the demons that have denied us our happiness. And before our hearts stop beating, we will say the ancient incantations that will grant us eternal life. Sincerely, Emily Carroll. October 31, 1916.”

“Wow! It was Halloween night, more than 100 years ago when she wrote this. They carried out a suicide pact. Fuck! That’s intense.” Emily exclaims. By now, it’s a mini-miracle that Max has completely forgotten that he’s currently in the presence of a beautiful, scantily clad female bodybuilder. He’s seen her three times before for a muscle worship session, and usually savors every minute of it. But tonight, on Halloween Night 2020, they’re both distracted by the personal diary of a long-dead woman whose tragic story is yet to be fully uncovered.

“I’ll bet you’re right. Private Max Kincaid was either an orderly at the hospital or a patient here. They met, fell in love, and understood that their families wouldn’t approve of them being together. There’s no way his parents would want him to marry an unstable woman who was committed to an insane asylum. So they formed a suicide pact, probably went through with it, and hoped their souls would forever haunt this building, so they could actually be together for all eternity,” Max speculates. “Ancient incantations? A witch? Holy shit, that’s fucking intense.”

“I found it! The incantations, or whatever it’s called,” Emily announces after flipping through more pages of the diary.

Emily shines her phone at a slightly torn out page located at the very end of the diary. It’s written in English but seems to be Sumerian in origin. Max is no historian, but his father is a history professor at the local university. So he knows a bit about ancient civilizations. The scribbled writing is Miss Carroll’s attempt to phonetically spell out an ancient language.

“Shall we read it together?”

Emily looks up at Max after he asks this. Max doesn’t blink. A wicked smile forms across her gorgeous face.

“Yes! That’ll be fun. What’s the worst that could happen?”

Well. Famous last words, Max thought to himself. But what the heck?

“Let’s do it.”

To be continued

Truth or Dare (part two)

A sexy boudoir photoshoot.

Continued from part one

“Uh, I beg your pardon? Are you being serious right now?”

Shawna scoots closer to me on the couch, making my heart stop during mid-beat. I can feel the heat emanating from her body. She pats my right knee and tickles my thigh. My breathing stops. Then she leans over and kisses my neck. The hairs on the back of my head flutter in response. Her musky smell is unmistakable, yet it’s as sweet as perfume.

“Deadly serious, sweetheart,” she begins. “Like I said, I’m feeling adventurous tonight. What do you say?”

What else can I say? I figured I’d never be able to go “all the way” with her ever, but apparently tonight is my chance. Well, if you consider anal to be going all the way. Which, considering my dick hasn’t penetrated her at all up to this point, it sort of is. So what do I have to lose?

“I’d love to! Yeah, let’s do it.” With that reply of affirmation, Shawna excitedly gets up and scurries to her bedroom.

“Wait here, darling! I’ll be back in a jiffy.” Nervously, I remain seated on her sofa. My toes have curled up tightly, a sign that I’m feeling anxious. Can you blame me?

After what seemed like an eternity, Shawna returns to the living room with a bottle of scented oil. Peach seems to be what she selected. I’ve never seen her this giddy before! Her gorgeous eyes are open wide, she’s fidgety, and she cannot sit still to save her life. I can only imagine what the next few minutes are going to be like…

“It’s been a long time since I’ve done anal, but I know my body pretty well,” she says. After nodding her head at me, I begin to undress. Shawna is wearing sweatpants and an old college t-shirt. She’s already barefoot. I neatly pile my clothes in the corner of the room, with my phone and wallet lying on top if it. I’m already erect, which should come as no surprise to anyone. Soon, Shawna is completely nude as well. And she looks just as gorgeous as ever. She’s squatting heavier right now, which is evident by the advanced thickness of her thighs, hamstrings, and butt. God, her butt is perfect. So shapely, rounded, and full. I cannot believe I’m about to enter it in a short while.

Shawna isn’t wearing any makeup, which doesn’t matter because she’s a natural beauty. I swear she’s even more beautiful without makeup. But maybe I’m biased because I like her so much. She spreads a few blankets on the floor with the reverential meticulousness of a religious ceremony. Finally, she gets on her knees and wags a finger at me. I sit down next to her. We kiss. She strokes my hardened penis, tickles my scrotum, and sticks her tongue deep inside my mouth. Before I penetrate her, she wants to penetrate me first. She’s marking her territory. I do nothing but surrender to her authority.

Jessica Williams looking as hot as any woman can possibly look.

“The key to successful anal sex is adequately preparing the anus,” she explains with the serious candor of an academic. “Let’s oil up your fingers. Then, I want you to open me up.” Shawna dabs some of the sweet fluid onto my fingers. I cannot think. My brain is frozen. I can barely move. I need her to take control because I have no fucking clue what I’ve just gotten myself into! Next, Shawna gets on all fours and sticks her perfectly sculpted ass upward. My hand dripping with scented oil, I take a deep breath and observe where my fingers are about to go.

Her anus looks pretty.

Yes, that’s a rather strange observation to make, but it’s true. It’s dark brown. It’s small. It’s tight. It looks like a cosmic black hole, which is funny unto itself. She shaves her pubic hair, so the surrounding area is as smooth as it can be. Hesitantly, I stick my right index finger inside her. Slowly. Thankfully, I clipped my fingernails earlier this week (coincidentally, of course) so there’s no risk of inadvertently injuring her. I would never want to cause her any pain. Shawna moans in response to my penetration, which I hope is an indication I’m doing this right.

“Do you like that?”

“Yes, I do darling. Thank you!” Emboldened, I stick my entire index finger up her anus. It’s as tight as I’d imagine it would be. Shawna is breathing rhythmically, which keeps her relaxed. I stop, not knowing if I should continue or not. But she isn’t giving any signs that I’m hurting her. Then, I slowly stick my middle finger inside her, with my index finger still there. She groans louder, but still isn’t showing any hints of pain. I playfully experiment with thrusting my fingers in and out of her. In and out. In and out. Rhythmically. Leisurely. Shawna purrs like a kitten.

Hey, I think I’m getting the hang of this!

I move my fingers in a circular motion. She doesn’t speak. I can’t see her face, but I’m guessing her eyes are closed. She’s drinking in this moment. She’s feeling every sensation and treasuring it. Finally, I thrust my ring finger inside her, making it three total. Shawna is in heaven.

“Oh, fuck yeah…!”

Shawna rarely swears. She grew up Presbyterian, after all. So if she’s casually dropping the f-bomb, that means something.

“Oh, baby, you know how to please a lady.” Shawna drops her butt close to my knees. “I think you’ve adequately prepared me. Now let’s prepare you…”

She reaches over and snatches the bottle of oil. I hold my breath. Shawna drips a small amount onto her fingers, wraps them around my erection, and moistens me up. I try my hardest not to accidentally come prematurely! Once my manhood is glistening with lubrication, Shawna declares her desire to get the party started.

“You’re now ready. I’ve been ready. Let’s do this.”

Autumn Raby looking ready.

Oh boy. This is it. For all the marbles. It’s Game 7 of the World Series. Bottom of the 9th. Two outs. Down by three. Bases loaded. 3-2 count. This is where I need to come through in the clutch. This is my time! Time to prove my worth!

Dear God. I need to stop being so damn overdramatic.

I close my eyes, sigh, and open them slowly. I take a moment to observe how the light shining from the nearest ceiling fan perfectly shows off Shawna’s big muscles. They’re curvy, hard, strong, and unmistakably feminine. She’s breathing deeply, almost like she’s preparing to meditate on top of a snow-capped mountain for the next twenty years. I can feel my heart pounding a million beats per minute. Faster than a European techno remix album.

“What are you waiting for?” Shawna impatiently inquires. That wakes me out of my internal monologuing. I pat her on the butt for good measure.

“Uh, nothing.”

I pause. Then, I grab my penis. It’s still erect, as hard as it can be. It’s also dripping wet. With my left hand, I hold on to her left hip. Her denseness turns me on further. With my right hand, I grip the base of my penis. The tip hovers over her prepared entryway. Shawna’s breathing has steadied. I can stay like this forever, but that wouldn’t do either of us any good. So, I go in for the kill.

Gradually, I squeeze the broad head of my manhood inside her anus. It’s difficult at first, but the lube definitely helps. Shawna moans. I’m too nervous to feel any kind of pleasure. Once the whole tip is inside, I brace both of her hips and push in all the way. Inch by inch. As methodically as I can handle it. Once I’m completely inside, Shawna playfully wiggles her butt from side to side.

“Oh, damn. Mmmmmmm. I love this!” Shawna exclaims.

Fully confident, I move in and out of her rhythmically. She’s so tight, despite the work my fingers did earlier. Once I get past the initial shock of realizing that my dick is inside a beautiful muscular woman’s anal cavity, I begin to enjoy the experience.

“Ooh, this is different…” my braindead self observes aloud. “I also love this!”

Still on all fours, Shawna’s moans turn to growls. I cannot even begin to describe the noises I’m making. We must look like wild animals mating in the jungle. The primitive position we’re in, mixed with our involuntary guttural noises, is very beast-like. But we are two wild beasts. In this moment, Shawna and I are no longer human beings living in the civilized world. We are primordial creatures experiencing selfish pleasure for its own sake. Shawna has stopped moving, choosing to only experience my thrusting. My pace quickens in anticipation of my inevitable climax. I don’t know how much longer I can hold on.

“Oh fuck!” Shawna screams.

“Ohhh!” I also scream.

One final powerful thrust later, I collapse on top of Shawna’s massive body as I empty myself into her. On and on my spurts last, as if she’s draining every drop out of me. She can have all of it if she wants. Shawna falls to the floor on her tummy. Her heavy breathing lifts me off the ground – up and down, up and down, up and down. We stay like that for several minutes. I lean over and kiss the mounds of her back muscles. She’s as wide as a freight train.

Whew.

This is what Shawna’s living room looks like.

Eventually, I roll off her. We face each other on our sides on top of the blankets. My softened penis dangles freely. Shawna pinches it playfully. One last tiny drop of semen leaks out. It drips onto the blanket. Shawna giggles. Then we kiss. The tips of our tongues do a little dance. We continue to kiss for the next four or five minutes. When will we stop?

Finally, Shawna stands up. She rubs her sore anus and twists her torso from side to side, causing her back to make a distinctive cracking sound. She groans in pain. I cannot believe how loud it is! I guess all those years of heavy weightlifting has taken its toll on Shawna’s body. Her physique is eyepopping, but it does come at a cost. She then notices me noticing her back cracking. I can tell she quickly wants to change the subject.

“That was amazing, darling.” Shawna leans over and kisses me, possessing me with her lips. After her momentary display of vulnerability, she wants nothing more than to reassert her power and dominance. “I need to clean myself off. But when I get back, it’ll be your turn in our little Truth or Dare game. Be right back!”

Shawna disappears into the bathroom. I remain on the floor, laying on top of a pile of comfy blankets. But I cannot help but still think about what just happened. For the first time ever, Shawna was vulnerable. She looked insecure. Was she thinking about aging? Is being with me a reminder that she’s no longer a young woman, but a woman approaching middle age? Like I said before, I have no idea how old she is. But she must be 15 or maybe 20 years older than me. She’s as gorgeous as a supermodel and the crow’s feet around her eyes do not diminish her considerable beauty one bit.

A bottle of sensual oil.

Hm. Maybe I’m overthinking things here. Which is funny considering I just made love to her!

Well, anally made love to her. Which is the same thing, right?

Uh, right?

My train of thought is shattered when Shawna sneaks up behind me and lifts me up off the floor. I gasp. She kisses my neck and playfully wrestles me onto the couch. We laugh. After a few moments of silence, I finally speak.

“Okay. You gave me a dare. I’ll give you a truth. Are you ready?”

She sits up and crosses her massive legs. “Ready as I’ll ever be!”

“Great,” I begin. I take a deep breath to gin up the courage to ask my question.

“Does size matter?”

eBook Preview – “Muscle Love: Confessions of a Muscle Worshipper”

Muscle Love

I don’t often endorse products, but I came across a new eBook that fans of female bodybuilders should consider purchasing: Muscle Love: Confessions of a Muscle Worshipper.

The authors, Richard and Jayne Greye, contacted me about promoting their new book on my blog. I joyfully obliged. Here’s a summary that they provided me:

Jacket Cover: Meet Rick, the guy-next-door with a muscle fetish that started at eighteen with an encounter with an older, muscular woman. This full-length novel follows his quest to explore his obsession with muscular women and his struggle to reconcile this need with the rest of his life. He hides this side of himself, satisfying his urges in clandestine liaisons, until he meets a woman with the desire to get big and revels in her transformation. But what happens when she surpasses his fantasies and wants to dominate him? “Muscle Love” is a full-length novel which is both a compelling emotional and physical growth story as the two main characters deal with loss and find redemption in each other and their shared interest in strength. Their story is filled with difficulties, sexual discoveries and in the end, a new understanding of what it means to be strong.

Sounds intriguing! I haven’t read it myself – I hardly have any free time anymore – but I highly encourage all of you to download it and enjoy it at your leisure. Here’s how you can buy it:

Amazonhttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H6Y2HSY

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/895860

Applehttps://itunes.apple.com/us/book/muscle-love-confessions-of-a-muscle-worshipper/id1436735652

Interested in learning more about the author? Read this interview with Richard featured on Smashwords’ website:

Interview: https://www.smashwords.com/interview/JayneGreye

Know of any other female muscle-themed fiction books out there? I’ve personally read Chemical Pink and Devil and Disciple – The Temptation. Both are must-reads for FBB fans. Let me know in the comments below.

The Vulnerable Female Bodybuilder

The seemingly invincible Ginger Martin.

Female bodybuilders are strong. They seem invincible. Unstoppable. Powerful. Authoritative. A force of nature. One who shall not be reckoned with.

If you mess with her, she’ll mess with you. And you don’t want that to happen to you. Trust us.

Fans of female bodybuilders have put these ladies onto a pedestal, one in which they don’t seem to be human. FBBs are often described in quasi-spiritual terms; using words such as “goddess,” “angel,” or “queen.” These words evoke ethereal images of immortals walking amongst men. FBBs are somehow not human because a “normal” human can never actually look that breathtakingly beautiful. Regular human beings are not able to make your heart skip a beat, your jaw drop to the floor, and a chill run down your spine just by simply posting an untouched photo of themselves on Instagram.

But alas, many FBBs are able to do just that. Many times over, in fact.

Yet, in the back of our minds we know that FBBs are not actually goddesses. They are flesh and blood human beings with feelings, thoughts, fears, insecurities, families, hobbies, and faults. We know that intellectually, on a theoretical level. But emotionally, we cannot help but view these ladies as invulnerable angels whose unique beauty somehow endow them with some sort of shield against typical human imperfections.

In our fantasies, our favorite FBBs are warriors who can slay thousands of enemies at a time. They’re powerful deities who can make the most formidable kingdoms tremble to their knees. They’re sirens who can enslave men to do their will. They’re so breathtakingly beautiful you cannot imagine a moment when they’d ever be sad, intimidated, or not in control.

Yet…

…yet we know the reality of things is much more mundane. But we don’t want to think about that. We’d rather focus on an FBB’s perfections instead of her basic humanity. However, it is worthwhile to keep this important point in mind: Female bodybuilders are much more vulnerable than you’d think.

Here’s why:

First, female bodybuilders exist in a world that doesn’t always accept them for who they are.

The aesthetic of a woman with big muscles certainly excites some of us, but not all of us. As incomprehensible as this sounds, not everyone appreciates the beauty of female bodybuilders. Some are disgusted by a nontraditional feminine figure that doesn’t fit into the narrow box society has come to define. This could be caused by people not liking what they’re not familiar with, but it goes deeper than that.

They’re disgusted because the sight of veins popping out of a muscular arm isn’t terribly appealing – regardless of the gender of the person it belongs to. But especially if it’s a female arm. We’re taught to believe that a beautiful woman should be smooth, angular, and soft. Female bodybuilders are not smooth, angular, and soft. They’re rough, bulky, and coarse. Their bodies do not fit within the acceptable parameters society (properly understood, that is) has arbitrarily established. And because of that, female bodybuilders are always at a disadvantage when it comes to breaking into the entertainment and modeling industries. Even the fitness industry seems to prefer the “fit” look instead of the hypermuscular look.

This lack of acceptance has pushed the female bodybuilding community underground, away from mainstream attention. Is there any need to bring up the unfortunate demise of the Ms. Olympia contest?

Of course, there will always be the token role in a sitcom for a “muscle chick” who shows up, looks menacing, and does something comedic to the male star like kick his ass or wallop him at arm wrestling. They’re not there as a character, but as comedic foil. It’s a bit dehumanizing, but when it’s slim pickings in the entertainment industry, beggars can’t be choosers. You have to accept whatever paying job you can get. Jayne Trcka’s role in Scary Movie (2000) exploits every single negative stereotype about female bodybuilders you can possibly imagine. But from her perspective, it’s a paying job in a major Hollywood production. Can you really blame her?

Kathy Johansson enjoying fun in the sun.

Second, and this point is directly related to the first one, female bodybuilding isn’t a very lucrative profession.

There’s almost no money to be made through competitions. Traditional modeling jobs don’t pay a whole lot no matter what your body type happens to be. You can work as a personal trainer or fitness coach, but being a bodybuilder isn’t necessarily an advantage. It’s not a disadvantage (as far as one can tell), but there are no “bonus points” to be had from being a bodybuilder except for it gives you an extra sense of validity. But not everyone thinks that’s a deal breaker.

And living the life of a bodybuilder isn’t cheap either. The food and supplementation alone costs quite a bit of money if you’re trying to eat clean, often, and strategically. It takes time to go to the gym, lift, do cardio, stretch, shower, and go home to eat and devour a protein shake. It’s challenging to balance working full time, training as a bodybuilder (even if you’re not competing professionally), and enjoying personal time with friends and family. It boggles the mind to ponder how male and female bodybuilders are able to do it.

In other words, female bodybuilders are essentially normal people like us with much different kinds of living expenses. Unlike pro baseball or basketball players, pro bodybuilders aren’t making $20 million per year. They need to hold down a regular 9-5 job just like the rest of us, except squeeze in several hours of training on top of that. You don’t need to be a life coach to understand the difficulties of balancing all of these priorities.

But where exactly is the money at? Well, one can make plenty of dough if they’re willing to offer muscle worship or wrestling sessions. Which conveniently transitions us to our next point:

Being a session provider can be a risky business.

If you need a primer on what “muscle worship” means, you can read all about it in a prior post. While most of us think (and fantasize) about muscle worship and wrestling sessions from the perspective of the client, we mustn’t ignore the provider’s side of the story. Even if rules are set and established beforehand, participating in a fantasy wrestling session can be quite risky.

You never know when you’ll accidentally get injured. Or intentionally get injured by someone with less-than-honorable intentions (there are a lot of strangely insecure guys who feel like they have something to “prove” to a well-meaning FBB who is just trying to earn a living). Or meet a creepy person who stalks you afterward – both online and perhaps even in-person. Stalkers affect all sorts of people, but female bodybuilders are a special breed. They’re as rare as a solar eclipse, which can drive a person whose mental state is already “shaky” at best to do things that definitely cross the line of sane behavior.

For these reasons, FBBs often lay down ground rules before the session even begins. They want to know how much you weigh if you’re interested in “lift and carry” activities. They want to make clear that the wrestling is for fantasy purposes only, as opposed to being a recreation of the Olympic trials. They want to be clear that “tap out” rules will be honored by both sides. In other words, they want to know that they – and the participant – will be safe at all times.

Honest accidents without any malice will inevitably happen from time to time. That is unfortunate, but a reasonable risk one faces when engaging in such strenuous activities. If you want a job without any physical hazards, get a desk job where you sit at a computer and type all day long. But that is not what an FBB who offers muscle worship/fantasy wrestling appointments chooses to do.

A coy looking Tina Nguyen.

Injuries stink for obvious reasons. They hurt, can lead to future health problems, and can be demoralizing. Injuries also inhibit your ability to train, work, travel, and live comfortably. And when your body and health are central to your income stream, being hurt is a double whammy. It’s difficult to earn a living when you’re preoccupied with healing up from a recent torn ligament or fractured bone.

Any lifestyle that is that physically demanding with carry with it inherent risks. And when you throw in clients who may or may not be familiar with you (not every session provider asks for a reference or makes background checks), you never know what sort of person you’ll be spending the next hour or two with. That can be a scary proposition, no matter how emotionally and physically strong you are.

On top of all that, travelling from city to city takes you away from your friends and family for long stretches of time. It’s hard to imagine what that type of life is like unless you’ve lived it. If you have young children – or even older children – being away from them for long periods of time can be stressful. Think of it from the mother’s perspective. Then the children’s. See why this can be a volatile profession?

The next point goes along with that concept: Being a female bodybuilder can be really awkward at times – both for you and your loved ones.

Can you imagine being a little kid and having a mom who “doesn’t look like the other moms?” She’s a lot bigger, stronger, and physically imposing than Billy and Jimmy’s moms. She even has a deeper voice, smaller boobs, and more veins popping out of her arms than is typically considered, uh, typical. And she can bench press more than all the dads out there.

Talk about awkward.

This idea is directly connected to the first point about FBBs living in a world that doesn’t always accept them for who they are. This explores that very concept from everyone else’s perspective.

The older kids get, the more vicious the rumors will become. It doesn’t take a hardboiled private detective to find out what happens at those mysterious muscle worship sessions. It doesn’t take an avid porn aficionado to stumble upon an obscure video of an FBB giving a blow job or hand job to a nameless and faceless beta male client. This sort of information is out there for anyone who is willing to search for it. And not every blog is as respectful as the one you’re currently reading right now. Some blogs and comment sections (ah, yes. The dreaded “comments section” that has single-handedly contributed to the catastrophic dumbing down of our society) can be quite crude in describing what goes on behind closed doors. And come to think of it, it isn’t necessarily crudeness that makes this an issue. Just the basic knowledge that prominent FBBs provide sessions as a side gig is enough to get people to chat, gossip, and speculate on what actually is going on in those remote hotel rooms.

Rumors are rumors, but when rumors are spread widely and loudly enough, they start to become “fact,” even if they are not actually facts. No need to bring up “fake news,” is there?

Can you imagine being a normal kid who does a Google search on your mom and discovers she gives hand jobs to hundreds of guys across the world each year? And she does it for cash that eventually will help fund your college tuition? Talk about an epic discovery that you’d want to erase from your memory “Eternal Sunshine-style.”

Can you imagine being teased for this by the other kids whose parents are more “normal,” if such a thing even exists? Perhaps your FBB mama is remarkably open about her life’s work. Or maybe she tries to shield you from it. In today’s Internet age, it’s nearly impossible to keep something like that under wraps forever. Eventually, the truth will come out if you wait long enough. Nothing can stay hidden for good. Not anymore. We’re far beyond that point. If there’s a grainy video of you – even if this video is more than twenty years old – doing something even slightly embarrassing (never mind performing sexual acts on strangers), you know for a fact it will eventually smack you in the face. Usually when you least expect it. And especially when you don’t ask for it.

Kiana Phi showing off her hard work.

Here’s a true story that I feel compelled to share: Not too long ago a real-life female bodybuilder whom I’ve met for a muscle worship session once before contacted me via e-mail about a recent blog post I had written. She kindly asked that I remove a photo of her that appears in it. The blog article wasn’t about her specifically, but I wanted her picture to be in it because I like her so much.

I dutifully did remove it, carrying out her request as swiftly as I could. She didn’t want her name and reputation to be tarnished. She didn’t want to be associated with an underground subculture that could come back to haunt her, her husband, and her kids.

She didn’t want her daughters to be teased about what their beloved mama does with men in hotel rooms across America. Even if these rumors aren’t based in reality, that doesn’t matter. Harmful gossip is harmful regardless of its truthfulness. I removed her photo because I didn’t want to upset her, but I also did so because I instantly put myself in her shoes. I choose to remain anonymous on this blog because I wouldn’t want my friends and family to know about my unusual fetish. I can grant myself anonymity with very little effort on my part. For an FBB who is considered a “celebrity” in the eyes of many people worldwide, they do not have that luxury.

Public figures cannot control what people say about them. And not everyone can pay a high-quality spin team, PR representative, or “search engine scrubber” who can find creative ways to hide bad stuff said about you. It’s just not possible in today’s interconnected and plugged-in world to totally control your online reputation. I can create a Ryan Takahashi avatar and establish whatever persona I want to. Public figures cannot do that as easily.

Isabelle Turell – what a woman!

This is something I must – and the rest of you, too – keep in mind at all times. When you write about an FBB, wrestler, or session provider on an Internet chat forum, you’re not just communicating to the people with whom you’re directly corresponding. You’re also spreading information – and this includes both accurate and inaccurate information – to the world at large. That’s someone’s reputation. That’s someone’s mom, sister, wife, friend, or lover. That’s another human being, not a brand new air conditioner that deserves a four star rating out of five.

When you call her a whore, you’re saying that about a person with feelings. When you reveal what goes on behind closed doors without honoring her anonymity, you risk harming her reputation. It makes perfect sense why many FBBs are reluctant about allowing people to write reviews about them on chat forums. Who knows what some disgruntled yahoo will say to a captivated audience?

Female bodybuilders are some of the strongest willed people on planet Earth. But they are not invincible. They are flesh and blood human beings who are just as vulnerable as you or I. They may not seem like it in the fever pitch depths of our imaginations, but this is the truth. They are vulnerable, often times in ways you cannot see or understand.

In My Own Words: Zack from San Diego

Alina Popa wants you to share your personal story!

Exactly four years ago – holy cow, time sure flies! – I posted on this blog a message calling for readers to submit their own personal stories about how they discovered female bodybuilders, why they love them so much, and what they wish they could tell the world about this shared interest. All anonymously, of course.

Sadly, in the past four years I haven’t gotten a whole lot of feedback from you folks. Oh well. But last week ago a brave soul finally reached out to me and provided answers to the questions I suggested. His name is Zack and he resides in (perpetually) sunny San Diego.

He comes across as a female muscle fan who thinks deeply about his love for FBBs. I’m sure that describes much of you out there! So, read what he has to say. And if you feel compelled to contribute your own thoughts, feel free to email me at ryantakahashi87 (at) yahoo (dot) com. Here’s my original post calling for reader submissions in case you need further context.

You can answer the questions I’ve posed, or you can just spew your thoughts out on your computer and send them my way. Whichever you prefer!

So, without further ado, here’s what Zack has to say, in his own words:

***

San Diego, where it’s the same weather 365 days out of the year.

When did I first discover my love for female muscle?

It all started when I was a 14-year-old high school freshman with hormones that started berserking like typical young men at that stage. One day, I was watching an episode of Fear Factor and I saw one female contestant who wasn’t exactly a “bodybuilder” type but was still well-built and did a couple “poses” before attempting a stunt that required some great physical capabilities. At the time, I was also taking a PE class that had some classroom-esque instruction in the gym involving weight training and my PE teacher was talking about what men and women each like to gain when working with weights (men obviously putting on size, but women wanting to stay firm and sturdy, etc.).

I started pondering the female stature even more to the point where I’d keep an eye out for those Bowflex commercials to catch women toning their symmetrics and continuing my Fear Factor viewings hoping to catch a glimpse of women with the real awesome statures. One day it finally occurred to me to use the wonderful tool of Google to find images of the real treasures and I was hooked. They were a safer alternative to Playboy because many of my peers had to be careful if we ever dared to seek a Playboy magazine in our old man’s secret stash (LOL). As I progressed through high school, my passion for these goddesses was known only to my mom and my sister who would occasionally glance through the internet browsing history on our computer, but they didn’t know what it was evolving into. I even stumbled upon an exercise book on my mom’s bookshelf by the great Rachel McLish, which I would discreetly glance through every now and then.

After my sophomore year, I took a part-time job at a grocery store near my house which gave me convenient access to Oxygen magazine, which I would purchase at the self-checkout machines to avoid any of my coworkers asking me questions about this hidden passion of mine. I guess you could tag it (and still can) as my “guilty pleasure.” Midway through junior year, after a few months of ogling over these glorious goddesses on paper, I had a deep dream one night and it finally happened. I woke up at about 2:00 a.m. after feeling an amazing vision involving a really close bond with the magnificent Monica Brant that resulted in my “little soldiers” deploying themselves for the very first time.

Why do I admire female bodybuilders?

For starters, let’s say I would much rather have Wonder Woman as my girlfriend instead of Sleeping Beauty (LOL).

I admire women of physical and mental strength because just as a typical woman loves a man with confidence, I would want my potential suitor to have the same qualities in herself. During our early years, we become so fixated on comparing ourselves to others that often times we forget about trying to be the best version of our individual selves. If anything, I wholeheartedly embrace my differences because they are a part of what enables me to write my own life’s story by viewing the world from my own perception rather than somebody else’s tunnel vision. Women who are not ashamed/afraid and embrace the fact that they are different turn me on. Muscle is a natural element of the human body for both men and women. Bodybuilding is a sport and form of art; neither of which are reserved for either gender in the first place.

However, I do draw the line somewhere. When it comes to female bodybuilders, the details that determine whether they maintain their femininity or cross the line into the dark territory of being masculine come not from the size of their muscles, but rather their shape and symmetry. If they have deep voices, hair growing in places it shouldn’t be, square-pecs, square-jaw, or other physical traits that are exclusive to men, I am turned off by it and rather ashamed that they would wreck themselves with steroids, destroying and disgracing a pure form of art in the process.

Have I ever met a female bodybuilder (or a woman with a lot of muscles)? If so, what were the circumstances?

Plenty of times, yes. However, I have yet to secure a date with them because they are a scarce thing to find and whenever I’ve encountered them they are either taken or in a situation where it is not easy to strike up a conversation that could possibly lead to a date. It’s happened at the gym and at fitness expos too. Just got to keep my eyes open, wait for the right timing, and it’ll happen. Patience is one of the highest virtues I pride myself on.

Have you ever engaged in a muscle worship or BDSM session with an FBB? If so, how did it go?

I did have one with a prominent FBB from Latin America whom I won’t name for privacy reasons and it went very well. I speak some Spanish (her native tongue) and had a good time and would definitely see her again if I ever travel back to Florida.

How would you react to someone who says that a guy (or gal) who likes female bodybuilders is strange, weird, kooky in the head, etc.?

It’s happened already but I am more than capable of shrugging it off because haters are gonna hate.

Have I ever told anyone that I’m into female muscle?

Through the course of my Navy career thus far I have been on two deployments and porn is naturally an essential for the occasion and I did show to my shipmates the special stash of FBB videos (including nude ones) on my computer which I’ve accumulated over the years. A couple of my friends who are already fitness buffs themselves enjoyed it but everybody else gave the typical negative comments.

If I could tell someone who doesn’t understand your attraction to female muscle one thing, what would it be?

Muscle is a natural element of the human body. That goes for males AND females.