All the King’s Queens – Chapter 12: Breaking News

The only thing Thomas Sellars can do is stay put. Two minutes ago, he received a text from Stephen Callahan telling him to stop drilling. There are police officers snooping around the property, meaning any unnecessary noise must come to a complete halt until they leave. Thomas is more than happy to comply. He has no intentions of going back to prison.

The last hour has been murder on his equipment. Dylan Tanaka’s safe is much more difficult to penetrate than he had originally anticipated it would be. Already he’s completely worn down three titanium drill bits. The fourth one that’s currently being used should last 10 to 15 more minutes. Judging from the reading produced by his ultrasonic thickness gauge, Thomas estimates he’s almost 80% through. That would probably mean sacrificing this drill bit and wearing down a fifth one pretty well, though it may be salvageable if he’s lucky. He’ll cross that bridge when he gets to it. For now, he will enjoy the unexpected break that – if he’s being honest – he really needs.

“Ahhhhhhhhhh,” he says after taking a long swig of water from his bottle. “That hits the spot.”

He wipes a cascade of sweat off his brow with his sleeve. Thomas knows he probably smells like old socks, though that is the least of his worries. The idea of cops on the premises, investigating some shit that happened outside (Thomas is certainly going to rain hellfire down on the dimwit who let one of the hostage escape, unless Stephen plans to torture them instead, in which case he’ll gladly sit back and watch that unfold), is enough to give him massive anxiety. He feels his chest tighten. He isn’t in any danger of suffering a heart attack, but an incredible amount of stress on the human body can do things you would never expect.

“Come on, everyone. Just settle down up there. Hold tight,” he whispers while looking up at the ceiling, imagining his comrades sitting around one floor up. “Those bastards will be gone before you know it. Just play it cool…and don’t make any noise or let any of those bitches escape again.”

Thomas peers down at his phone for updates from Stephen. So far, he’s received none since the initial text telling him to cease operations.

“Damn it.”

***

The ominous red glow of police vehicles is still making Stephen nervous, even though he has no imminent reason to feel fear. All he needs to do is wait them out until they all leave. Then, he and his team can resume their activities. The bandits and hostages are sitting around a long hallway stretching from the foyer all the way to the dining room on the far end of the house. It’s the only large part of the house that isn’t near any windows. Stephen is the only one standing, looking at his phone for updates from Bill Marks. He’d know if the police were to request special reinforcements to deal with a hostage situation. It definitely pays to have friends like that on your side.

So far, nothing noteworthy to report from Bill. This is good news, Stephen believes.

Through the kitchen sliding glass door, the group can see a few flashlights dancing around the backyard. They aren’t able to understand what the officers outside are talking about. However, that matters very little to the people trapped inside. Stephen decides to let the light coming from Dylan’s bedroom stay on in order to maintain the charade that he’s all alone. Dylan prays silently to himself that the cop he spoke to understood that he was talking in code. Will help be on the way? Will there be an end to this nightmare that results in these criminals getting what they deserve? Dylan could only hope so.

“How is everyone feeling?” Stephen whispers to the hostages. For a long moment, nobody speaks. Melanie finally looks up, appearing as exhausted as she’s ever looked before.

“Fine,” she whispers back, not wanting to talk too loudly and incur the wrath of her captors. “We’re all doing fine. I’m guessing no more bathroom breaks for the rest of us?” Melanie resists the urge to look at Peggy, who for whatever reason reeks of urine. She’s sure to have a compelling story to tell, though that will have to wait for later – assuming there is a “later.” That is not guaranteed.

“That’s right. I think your friend here, no pun intended, pissed that opportunity away for all of you,” Stephen remarks with too much self-indulgence. Nobody seems to be smiling from that, which is not a surprise. “Just sit back and don’t do shit. If you have to pee all over Dylan’s carpet, so be it. It’s not like that would be the worst thing to happen to him today. Would it, old friend?”

“No, it would not,” Dylan admits. “I’ve experienced far worse.” Shortly after settling in the hallway, Dylan was forced to undress and return to Stephen his pants and shirt. He is now naked again with a fleece blanket wrapped around his body.

Cortez tries to maintain a stone face while he replays in his mind the incident with Peggy Cole in the bathroom. How the fuck did he lose his self-control like that? He’s a professional who has been in this business long enough to know that you don’t screw around like that while on a job. When you’re at work, it’s all business until it’s over. He’s tried to avoid making eye contact with his colleagues – especially Stephen Callahan, the big boss – knowing he’s in for some sort of sadistic punishment after this is all over. Heck, he may never do another job again if word of this spreads among the organized crime community. If exile – similar to the type of ostracization that Dylan has experienced these past few years – is what he has to endure instead of a bullet through his skull, that’s a price he’s willing to pay. He can always (hopefully?) find a legitimate job that pays a decent salary somewhere. It won’t be nearly as thrilling as being a criminal, but it sure beats having to work with people who would always be suspicious of you. Or would have an itchy trigger finger if you screw up again.

And if there’s anything that’s considered a near-death sentence in this business, it’s being labeled as “unreliable.” That’s the quickest way for your work to dry up. Or for you to end up with a bullet in your head.

“I don’t see no more flashlights, boss,” Roddy says quietly to Stephen. He nods his head.

“Good. Go to the living room and take a quick look, alright? And, obviously, don’t be seen by anybody, got it?”

“Oh yeah. I got it. Don’t worry about me. You can trust me.” Roddy shoots Cortez a dirty look. Cortez looks down at the floor in shame. Xander, who truly feels bad for Cortex, wants to say something encouraging to him but knows that now is not the time nor the place. Roddy tiptoes across the hallway toward the foyer, which connects to the living room. Once there, he sees no more flashlights outside. But that doesn’t mean the pigs are gone for good.

Roddy rushes to the front curtains. He stands against the wall next to them, then lifts a portion of the curtain with his finger. As cautiously as he can, he peers out to see what’s going on outside. All he sees in the distance are a few cop cars still parked close to the main gate. It’s fortunate that it’s dark outside, which makes it easier to see flashlights. It doesn’t appear as though there are any more police officers on the property itself. This is good news. Finally, he spots a few flashlights bouncing around the house next door on the left. It’s too far away to make out any voices, but that’s good enough for him. As quickly as he left, Roddy tiptoes back to the hallway to report the wonderful development.

“Boss! It appears as though the pigs have left. They’ve moved on to the next house, over there.” He points in the direction of where he saw the flashlights dancing around in the night air. Xander, who apparently was given the task of going to the dining room and checking out the backyard for any remaining cops, suddenly returns behind him.

“All clear in the backyard. We’re all alone. Not a soul in sight,” Xander happily reports. This pleases their boss immensely.

“Excellent! This is exactly what I wanted to hear. That didn’t take long,” he turns to Dylan, who’s still sitting on the floor. “And you have one hell of a large backyard. I guess they really bought your story, that you’ve been asleep the whole time. They don’t suspect a thing. Wonderful!” Dylan looks up from the floor, trying to figure out what Stephen’s next move will be. It appears as though that dimwitted cop didn’t catch on to the clue he left of wishing him good luck on catching them. Dear Lord, how much more obvious did he have to make it?

“I say we return to the basement,” Stephen suggests. “Up, everyone. Let’s get moving!”

All the hostages comply with his command. Two minutes later, everyone is back inside the gym, huddled around the same spot as before. It’s as though nothing happened. As if Peggy’s daring escape attempt was all for naught.

***

A quarter of a mile down the road, close to where the bandits parked their two vehicles, a SWAT van creeps up behind three more police cars. Right behind them are two FBI vehicles, one a sedan and the other an SUV. Four ambulances are not far behind them, obviously without their lights or sirens on. As quietly as possible, the six blocks of 43rd Avenue are taped off to prevent motorists or pedestrians from getting through. At this ungodly hour that shouldn’t be a major problem. However, precautions must be taken when hostages are involved. Two cops are situated on the street, each facing a different direction, instructed to tell drivers to take alternative routes for the time being.

Inside the SWAT van are four highly trained snipers who will be placed on the roofs of the two houses neighboring the Tanaka residence; as well as eight additional team members who are specially trained to handle hostage situations. Riding shotgun in the FBI car is Special Agent Jillian Mendoza (who will be the point person during the duration of this crisis), who is hard at work debriefing Robert L. Baker, the hostage negotiator sitting in the back seat.

“Once we make contact with whoever the hell is holding this woman and, presumably, Dylan Tanaka hostage, we will make sure to remind them that we have snipers up on the roofs and additional SWAT officers ready to storm the premises at our command,” Mendoza says. Baker takes notes on a pad of paper, the old-fashioned way. She appreciates that touch. “Sound good? I just want to be clear that this could be nothing close to resembling the crisis we think it is. It’s possible Tanaka is an abusive boyfriend who’s holding that woman against her will. However, we can’t assume that.”

“I understand,” Baker says. “Anticipate the worst, hope for the best. I know how it goes.” After scribbling down his last final notes, Baker checks his phone to see what time it is. It’s 2:19 a.m. The sun won’t be up for another four hours or so. The cover of darkness will work to their advantage, at least for the time being. “Great. Let’s get this show on the road. I don’t exactly find these types of assignments fun per se, but it is what it is. It’s work, important work, and it needs to get done or people die. Can’t have that happen, can we?”

“No, we can’t. You’re right about that. Okay, we’re here,” Mendoza says.

The SWAT van parks near the entrance of the cul-de-sac, far away out of sight from anybody inside the Tanaka residence. Unless they have night-vision goggles, there’s no way anyone can see a black van and SWAT officers dressed in all black from this far distance. As quietly as possible, the police already on the scene, led by Officers Dietrich and Gutierrez, have evacuated all the neighbors and moved them to a single house right at the corner of Winchester Drive and 43rd Avenue. Most of them are wearing pajamas or whatever clothes they could put on in a hurry. Mendoza notices how frightened the final few neighbors are who enter the safe house. It always breaks her heart to see innocent civilians caught up in horrifying situations like this.

A few police officers with flashlights pretend to inspect the houses next to the Tanaka residence. Within five minutes, all four snipers are inside their respective houses, looking for entrances to access the roofs. Getting ready is always the part that makes Mendoza the most nervous. She believes that a hostage-taker is the most likely to lose their cool and start killing hostages when they see police getting in position. Once everyone is in place, guttural fear kicks in and they are less likely to act irrationally. She hopes that pattern continues on this fateful early morning.

“Are we ready?” she asks into her earpiece.

“Yes, we are. All the snipers are in place. Over.” She recognizes the voice responding back to her as Cory Langdon, one of the best sharpshooters in the region. The SWAT are technically police officers, so they don’t work too closely with the FBI unless the shit hits the fan. But everyone in the regional Bureau office knows who Cory Langdon is – he’s that renowned.

She looks up to visually confirm that all the snipers are in position. They are. Good!

“Good evening, everyone,” Officer Dietrich says to the newly arrived feds. “Me and my associate, Officer Gutierrez, have successfully evacuated all civilians to the safe house down the road. No innocents should be in the line of fire.”

“Great! Thank you for that. I’m impressed you were able to wake up that many people at this late hour of the day,” Special Agent Mendoza remarks. “As you can see, the snipers are on the roofs. The SWAT members are in position in front of the brick wall. They’re all wearing enough body armor to shield them from any spikes on top of the wall. We’re ready!”

“Okay, let’s roll. I’ve already been on the property, so I’ll make the introductions, sound good?” When Dietrich sees the hostage negotiator approach him, he immediately gets the feeling he’s about to be usurped by someone above his paygrade.

“Hello, Officer Dietrich. My name is Robert L. Baker. I’m the hostage negotiator,” Baker introduces himself to the veteran cop. He and Dietrich shake hands.

“Yes, I know who you are,” Dietrich says.

“Your reputation precedes you,” Gutierrez chimes in, who suddenly materialized out of nowhere. Even Mendoza, who’s usually hyper-observant when engaging in a crime scene, is surprised to see this young lady show up to the conversation without being seen. “No activity on the ground floor, from what we can tell. Very few lights are on, except for one single light in the foyer. As you can tell, there’s one light on somewhere on the third floor. Probably a bedroom. We don’t have blueprints of the house, so I’m just guessing here. Rich people like Tanaka can keep secrets your typical ordinary person can’t. And I don’t know if you know this already, but our guys found something of keen interest in the backyard.”

“What is it?” Mendoza wants to know.

“A ten-inch half-circle of glass was cut in his screen door. Someone broke into his home for sure. No doubt about it,” Gutierrez reports. The two FBI agents look at each other, their nonverbal glances signaling that this is confirmation that something is afoot. Tanaka isn’t alone in his own home. After a brief moment of silence, Special Agent Mendoza turns to Dietrich.

“How did you make contact with Tanaka?” Mendoza asks.

“Right over there by pressing the call button,” Dietrich says, pointing to the callbox next to the gate. “That’s how we spoke at first. I asked him to come down and he did so after an unusually long time.”

“How long?” Baker asks. He takes out his pad of paper and restarts taking notes. The two police officers aren’t as impressed by his diligence as Mendoza was.

“Five or six minutes. I can’t imagine it would take him that long to get from his upstairs bedroom to the front door, but it did,” Dietrich says. “Especially when a police officer wants to talk to you after a shooting. The way he dressed was also unusual. He wore black pants and a black shirt that was way too tight on him. Almost like it wasn’t his. Like he had to wear it for appearance’s sake.”

“Hm. That is strange,” Mendoza concurs. “Well, let’s get started. Go to the callbox and request to speak to him again. Tell him we suspect the shooter is somewhere inside his house and that we request to enter his home. If he refuses or seems tongue-tied, that’ll tip us off that either he’s directly involved in something sinister…or someone inside his house is up to something sinister. Either way, we’re going to have to intervene whether he likes it or not. Sound like a plan?” Baker, Dietrich, and Gutierrez all verbalize the consensus that this is a solid plan. As Special Agent Mendoza and Baker chat among themselves, Officer Dietrich slowly approaches the callbox that he used earlier. He takes a deep breath, looks up at the sole light emanating from the third floor, and presses the “call” button. It takes a few moments until someone answers it. After a brief muffled sound, Dylan’s voice can be heard on the speaker.

“Yeah? Hello Officer. Did you catch the bastard who shot my neighbor?” Dylan Tanaka asks, a slight hint of nervousness in his voice. After many years on duty, Dietrich has grown adept at interpreting the various ways people attempt to hide their nervousness. Tanaka, to his credit, is doing a pretty good job at appearing to be (somewhat) calm.

“No, however my officers suspect whoever shot your neighbor might actually be hiding somewhere inside your home. We saw that the sliding glass door in your backyard had a portion cut out of it. We think someone has broken into your home. May several of my guys enter your premises, Mr. Tanaka?” Dietrich sees a few officers taking a couple steps forward so they can listen in on their conversation. The experienced officer shoos them away with his hand, not wanting too many people in blue uniforms to be seen in the security camera view. The fact it’s taking Tanaka a long time to respond is indicative that something is definitely not right.

Downstairs in the gym, Dylan is holding the transistor radio close to his chest as Stephen screams obscenities upon hearing Officer Dietrich request several cops to enter the home and search the premises. There’s no way everyone can hide in a closet or pantry while multiple officers search every nook and cranny. The mess Thomas has already made trying to break into the safe is damning enough. The five hostages relish watching their usually rational captor suddenly become explosively irrational at the flip of a switch. Dylan, who attempts to remain emotionless on the surface, cannot help but feel joy inside seeing his former colleague realize that his master plan is tumbling down like a ton of bricks.

“FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKKKKKK!!!” Stephen screams at the top of his lungs. His associates cower in fear as they realize that they too are going down with the sinking ship. Stephen kicks a wastebasket across the room. Thankfully, it’s empty. “Give me that bloody radio, NOW!”

Dylan obliges. Stephen, with the radio in hand, takes several deep breaths. He knows he must remain calm and logical if he and his men are to have a snowball’s chance in Hell of getting out of this mess intact. Of course, he hasn’t forgotten about the secret ace up his sleeve that he has enclosed in his backpack (which is sitting next to Thomas Sellars’ duffle bag of equipment). In fact, he brought that along just in case disaster were to strike. This, unfortunately, constitutes such a disaster.

“Hello, officer,” Stephen calmly says to Dietrich. “Well done. Well played. I thought I could get away with it, but apparently that wasn’t in the cards for me tonight.”

On the street level, Dietrich looks back at Special Agent Mendoza and Robert L. Baker. Both of them scurry over to the callbox to listen in on the conversation unfolding. “Who am I speaking to, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“My name is unimportant. You will find out soon enough. For now, you can call me Steve.”

Baker’s eyes pierce into Dietrich’s eyes. This is where a professional hostage negotiator is needed, and everyone present knows it. Officer Dietrich kindly steps aside to let the FBI man do his job. Meanwhile, Officer Cunningham and a few other police officers are setting up several powerful floodlights across the street, all pointed at Dylan Tanaka’s house. Four lights are being set up in the bedrooms of the two neighboring houses (to give the snipers a better view of the property) and three more in front of the gate. Any moment now, the entire mansion will be lit up like a Christmas tree. There’d be nowhere for someone hiding behind a curtain to evade being seen.

“Hello, Steve. My name is Robert Baker. You can call me Rob. I am with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Is it safe for me to assume that we have more than a simple house party happening in there?” Baker, a veteran FBI agent in his mid-40s, is a tall balding man with a grey goatee, thin brown-rimmed glasses, and a logo-less dark blue baseball cap. The first thing he wants to do is discover the hostage-taker’s intentions.

“Yeah, you can say that. I suppose there’s no reason for me to lie to you, huh? I’m surrounded by cops, FBI spooks like yourself, and probably the National Guard right at this moment, am I right?” Stephen paces back and forth in front of Dylan and the four other hostages. Roddy, Xander, and Cortez split up to see what kind of mess has developed outside the house.

“I can’t say we invited the National Guard, but everyone else you spoke about is here right now, yes,” Baker politely informs “Steve,” the villain of tonight’s festivities. “Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? You seem like a smart, reasonable man. Who are you, Steve, and how many people are inside that house?”

“Let’s just say I’m a former disgruntled employee,” Stephen says, which is technically not a fib. “I have beef with Dylan Tanaka. Well, a lot of people do, so that biographical tidbit shouldn’t reveal who I am just yet. And I’ll be honest with you, Rob. I have five hostages in here. Dylan is one of them. You probably met the naked woman who tried to escape, right?”

“Actually, no. I heard about her, but I have not personally met her. In fact, I just arrived a few minutes ago. So I’m new to the party. I apologize for not bringing beer.” In an instant, all the floodlights turn on almost simultaneously. The bright white light temporarily blinds everyone near the gate, including Baker. He squints and faces away from the lights in order to regain his vision. “Do you see that?”

The floodlights are very visible through the gym’s upper windows. “Yes, I clearly see that you’ve apparently turned on all the lights in the neighborhood. Well done,” Stephen sarcastically remarks. The lights do add a much-needed ambient radiance to the basement, though no one is in a mood to form interior decorating observations at the moment. “Let me guess. There’s a SWAT team that’s about to arrive.”

“No, the SWAT team is already here. We have multiple snipers hiding in various locations, all with a clear view of the property. The street has been closed off to the public. And the neighbors have been woken up and escorted to safety. So, we can hang out and chat all night long, if you’d like. But I somehow doubt that would interest you.”

Stephen releases the “talk” button and swears to himself. “You’re all pretty lucky right now,” he says to the hostages. “You may have a way out of this that doesn’t result in a bullet going through your head. Good for you, fuckers.” He returns to speaking to Baker on the radio. “No, that would not interest me. Not in the slightest.”

“How many associates do you have with you?”

“Four others. All armed. Including me.” Stephen takes out his pistol and cocks it for good measure, making sure that the sound goes through to the other side.

“I see. Is anyone hurt?”

“No, just my pride. I thought I had an airtight plan. Everything was going so well until that slutty bitch escaped from our grasp.” Stephen glares at Peggy. She smiles back at him, satisfied that her daring escape ended up bearing fruit. Seeing this makes Stephen point his gun right at her face. Everyone gasps. “Speaking of which, I could shoot her right now. She’s in front of me, just a few feet away. One pull of the trigger and her brains will be smeared all over the wall. Should I do that, Rob?”

“Of course not, Steve. Let’s not do anything that you’ll regret later. Breaking and entering, combined with taking hostages and threatening to do them harm, carries a hefty enough prison sentence for you and your friends. If you add murder to that list, the consequences will be more severe. Don’t do it. Spare their lives. You don’t need to hurt anyone to prove your point.” Everyone surrounding Baker cannot believe how cool and collected he is right now, including Special Agent Mendoza, who smiles watching him go to work.

“Oh? And what point is that, Rob?”

“I don’t know for sure, but you said you’re a disgruntled employee. I’m thinking you want to punish Mr. Tanaka for wrongdoing. You want to kill him and his friends. Is that right? Why else would you be there?” Off in the distance, Baker sees that the entire cul-de-sac is packed with police cars, ambulances, and a few firetrucks (just in case). Combined with snipers on the rooftops and powerful floodlights making the mansion glow like it’s in the middle of a fish tank, it’s quite a scene right here in this (usually) quiet neighborhood.

“That’s exactly why I’m here, very perceptive of you,” Stephen lies. “So in other words, you’re trying to convince me that Dylan here has already learned his lesson, you know, being taken hostage at gunpoint, that sort of thing. Pretty traumatizing unto itself, huh?”

“Very much so. I’m pretty sure this is a night none of your hostages will ever forget, no matter how long they live.” Special Agent Mendoza, listening in on the conversation, is surprised at how intelligent this “Steve” guy sounds. If he’s a former disgruntled employee, as he claims he is, he certainly passes the smell test. Baker resumes the conversation. “Your situation is hopeless. We have you surrounded. You know that. You and your friends are going to face criminal punishment since you’ve already committed many felonies. Adding murder to that list will do you no good. Now, I can foresee you looking at this as a suicidal mission. Your beef is with Mr. Tanaka, but chances are your associates don’t feel the same way about him. Is that correct?”

Stephen looks at his fellow bandits, who have all returned to the gym after inspecting the outside. The look of dreadful fear on everyone’s faces is palpable. “Yes, you can say that.”

“Alright, so that means they probably are not up for a suicidal mission, even if you are. You might be willing to shoot every single hostage and then take your own life shortly before the police come running into the house. However, since we just established your associates don’t feel the same level of hatred against Mr. Tanaka as you do, they wouldn’t want to add “accessory to murder” on their rap sheet. Am I on the right track here?”

“Yes, you are,” Stephen says with a strong hint of defeat in his voice. He knows where this guy is going with this.

“So, that means they probably wouldn’t want to see you kill any of them. Because doing so would make their punishments even more brutal than it already will be. And since we established they aren’t as willing as you are to take your own life before the cavalry rides up over the nearest hill, odds are…they’ll try to stop you from killing anyone. They have every incentive to do so, right?”

“Yes.”

“At any moment, one of your guys may attempt to frag their commanding officer, or stage a mutiny, or whatever analogy you want to use. Are you familiar with this terminology, Steve?”

“I am, Rob. I’ve read about the Vietnam War in school. I know what fragging means.”

“Good. So…you don’t really want to shoot any of the hostages. Not Dylan Tanaka, not the woman, not anyone else we haven’t met yet.” Baker knows he’s this close to talking Steve off the ledge. The best way to do that is to frame his actions in terms of his own value system and how irrational behavior will undermine his own objectives. This is the best way to save lives. Persuade the hostage-taker that killing hostages will invalidate the very reason he’s taking hostages in the first place. Thus far, it seems to be working. “I shall be blunt. You seem like a smart guy. If you kill any of the hostages, your own men will probably do the same to you shortly afterward…to save their own hides. From our conversation so far, it doesn’t seem like you’re best friends with any of your associates. They’re probably hired guns, right? Employees working with you on a one-time basis. You don’t particularly care about them…and they don’t particularly care about you. Which means one of them – or all of them – will not hesitate to take you out if it means minimizing the body count and saving themselves from additional prison time. There’s a major difference between ten years in a federal penitentiary and, oh, say twenty-five years, or forty years, wouldn’t you say, Steve?”

“There certainly is, Robby boy,” Stephen smirks at his new pal. “Damn. You’re good at what you do. I can tell this isn’t the first hostage situation you’ve tried to diffuse. Very clever.”

“Thank you. But let’s return to your predicament, shall we? Since we just established your friends aren’t willing to go on a suicide mission, even if you are, you want some semblance of a victory, am I correct? You know your situation is hopeless, but that doesn’t mean it has to be meaningless. Unfortunately for you, the longer you talk, the more likely this fragging is bound to happen. So, this means you need to surrender as quickly as possible, lest you risk that terrible outcome becoming more and more likely to happen by the second.” Baker is confident he’s got him where he needs him. He has just (hopefully) saved that woman’s life, and possibly everyone else’s lives. If this ordeal ends with no dead bodies – pending the poor man who’s being rushed to the hospital at this very moment – that’s an A+ grade he deserves for this job.

“Hot damn. You’re good. Very good. Alright. Very well. You win. I think we should meet face-to-face, Rob. How does that sound?” Stephen looks right at Dylan, who also has a twinge of hope in his eyes. Melanie whispers something into Henry’s ear. Peggy and Monique are huddled close together but don’t say anything to each other. As angry as he is right now, Stephen isn’t a monster (technically speaking) who wants to actually kill people just for spite. And as much as he hates Dylan with a fiery passion, he probably couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger and end his life if it came to that point. He’s thought about it, of course, but he’s smart enough to know that obsessive feelings you get while stewing in your prison cell don’t necessarily translate into the real world.

“Okay, that sounds good to me. I would–”

“Except I’ll bring along two guests, just to prove that I haven’t already killed everyone. Well, you already heard from Dylan Tanaka briefly, so you know he’s alive. But, you don’t know for sure that the other four are alive as well, am I right?”

Baker, Special Agent Mendoza, and Officers Dietrich and Gutierrez give each other suspicious looks. Where is he getting at? “You are correct. We do not know for sure that you haven’t already killed anyone. Do you plan to visit us by the gate? I can assure you no one will impede your walk from wherever you are to the front gate,” Baker says. He makes a hand signal asking the police to clear the area as much as possible. After the officers had finished searching the property, they kindly left the area and shut the gate behind them by pressing a button located on the interior of the brick wall. They have no way of getting back in unless they break down the gate or scale the wall.

“I like that sound of that. Over and out,” Stephen says tongue-in-cheek. He switches off the transistor radio and tosses it to Roddy. He catches it with one hand, with his Glock in the other. “Dylan and the black guy. Come with me. Calmly.” He points at Dylan and Henry, who both slowly stand up after being summoned. Henry shakes his leg to get rid of a mild cramp. Dylan is the first to walk toward the door. Henry trudges along behind him. Stephen carefully follows both of them from behind just in case either of them decides to dash to their freedom like Peggy Cole attempted to do.

“Roddy, come with me. You two, stay behind and make sure none of these bitches do anything stupid, okay?” Xander and Cortez both verbally communicate their understanding of their boss’s order. Roddy unsheathes his firearm and follows Stephen, Dylan, and Henry to the door. Cortez, who’s keenly aware of his role in creating this mess in the first place, watches the three women like a hawk, determined not to repeat his earlier mistake again. Then again, he’s also aware that any of his associates will shoot him on the spot if he even comes close to screwing up a second time. Professional criminals tend to protect their own…until the very moment a dimwitted idiot jeopardizes their lives or livelihood.

Once their boss, Roddy, and the two hostages have left the gym, Xander decides to break the silence and take charge.

“Now, I’m only going to say this once. If any of you bitches decide to do anything, I can’t speak for anybody else, but I won’t hesitate to kill you. Got it? I got orders to only shoot you if you attempt to mess up our plan. Well, clearly that shit has already happened, hasn’t it, you dumbass?” He doesn’t need to look at Cortez in order to get his point across.

“Yeah…sorry man–”

“Ah, ah, ah, ah! I don’t need a fucking apology from you, you dumb piece of shit. Because of your dumbass, we’re all going to fucking prison, unless the boss man has any tricks up his sleeve. But whatever. If the loot we’re stealing is as valuable as everyone says it is, we may be able to cut a deal and avoid time in the slammer,” Xander says, who seems to be trying to talk his way into persuading himself that everything will be all right. So far, it sort of appears to be working.

“We get it. You want us to sit still and not move a muscle,” Melanie speaks up. “Or you’ll shoot us dead. Or whatever. Is that what you’re trying to say?”

“Yeah, you tranny. That’s exactly what I’m trying to say.” Xander points his gun right between Melanie’s eyes. She doesn’t flinch, though Monique and Peggy do. This makes him laugh. “I don’t know if you’re a dude or a ‘roided up chick, but you have balls. For sure. I got to respect that, as fucked up as that sounds.”

“I’ll accept your respect, for what it’s worth.”

Xander nods his head. Cortez lowers his gun, not wanting to accidentally shoot anyone prematurely before he has a reason to. Monique seems to be on the verge of tears again. And Peggy, the muscle chick responsible for getting the police here, can only grin at her captors. The two guys may hope that Stephen has an ace up his sleeve, but she has a hidden surprise of her own that she plans to reveal soon when the time is right.

***

Most of Dylan Tanaka’s neighbors are wealthy but largely anonymous individuals. They made their fortunes the traditional way: Climbing up the corporate ladder, stocks and investments, or family wealth passed down from generation to generation. Being woken up in the middle of the night to police officers telling them to quickly dress, evacuate their homes, and stay put in a safe house until a hostage crisis down the road comes to an end is certainly not a chain of events that any of these folks have ever experienced before…or will experience ever again.

There is, however, one neighbor who may not have ever personally experienced a crisis like this, but she’s reported on it as part of her day job.

Nicole Jarrett, a television video editor with eight years of experience working for Channel 7 News, and her husband live three houses away from Dylan Tanaka. During the media blitz that rocked their quiet little neighborhood in the wake of a national scandal involving their most famous (or infamous) resident, Nicole’s network was given easy access to interviews with the man himself because of her proximity to Dylan. And, it goes without saying, because they’re on friendly terms from being good next-door neighbors. Nicole has always treated Dylan with respect – even when the label “war profiteer” was maliciously thrown at him – which he deeply appreciated. When times were tough, Nicole was able to put her personal opinions aside (she actually thinks Dylan belongs in prison, though she’d never tell him that to his face) and still treat him kindly. That’s the spirit that has allowed her to work in the cutthroat business of television news media for so long.

Even though the police warned all the neighbors not to call or text their friends and family about this ordeal – because they were afraid if this were featured on the news the bad guys would panic and start shooting the hostages out of fear of being caught – Nicole couldn’t help herself. She’s a newswoman, and she must do what she’s been trained to do for the majority of her professional life: Report newsworthy information to her colleagues as soon as possible, lest they risk a rival station breaking it first.

Right now, all the civilians have gathered in the basement of Cory and Veronica Martinelli, who live in a house closest to the entrance of the cul-de-sac, on the corner of Winchester Drive and 43rd Avenue. Cory and Veronica have made hot tea for everyone (including a few of the police officers who’ve regularly checked in with them to provide infrequent updates on the ongoing situation) so they aren’t seen as indifferent hosts. Very few conversations are happening. Some folks have miraculously fallen back asleep. Nicole cannot fathom how anyone could go back to sleep when a group of armed terrorists has broken into Dylan Tanaka’s house and taken him hostage. When no one is looking, she texts her colleagues at the station who would be up at this time. The morning news broadcast begins at 6:00 a.m., which isn’t for another four hours, give or take. However, the anchors and crewmembers working the morning shift should be up by now, eating breakfast and showering. Thankfully, Derek Nguyen, the morning producer who decides which stories will be featured in every broadcast, is awake and excitedly responding to her illicit texts. As they’re texting each other, a news van is speeding toward their location, with a helicopter not far behind. She tries to respond to his messages without anyone seeing her – especially the cops.

DEREK NGUYEN: Holy shit! If this is for real this is the story of the century lol

NICOLE JARRETT: No kidding. Cops are everywhere. More cop cars and FBI guys are showing up literally every minute. It’s a circus. SOOOOOOOOOOO EXCITING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DEREK NGUYEN: It sure is lol

NICOLE JARRETT: You have Bob and Candace on the way, right?

DEREK NGUYEN: Yes ma’am! They’re literally on the road right now. They should be there in less than 10 min. No traffic. Should get there soooooooon

NICOLE JARRETT: Thanks Derek

DEREK NGUYEN: Ur welcome. Stay safe. Don’t get shot!

NICOLE JARRETT: I won’t lol

DEREK NGUYEN: 😊

NICOLE JARRETT: 😉

And with that, the very scenario that the authorities were trying to avoid is about to unfold. Word spreads quickly around the local news scene, so it would only be a matter of time before a few of their rival networks – Channel 4, 5, and 13, respectively – caught wind of the word on the street that one of Seattle’s most infamous residents may be executed by a gang of terrorists.

Sure enough, word does spread like wildfire, even at this late hour. Newspapers, TV stations, bloggers, and magazines never sleep. And people who spend way too much time on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram also rarely get the eight hours of shuteye that they need. The army of police cars with their lights flashing makes this section of Seattle look like a block-wide Christmas decoration. Many of the neighbors within a quarter of a mile have also awoken to the endless sirens that have roared throughout the night. With this comes people complaining about this on social media. And eventually, local news people will catch on and see a pattern.

Something sinister is brewing at Dylan Tanaka’s house.

By 3:00 a.m., the story begins trending on Twitter. The phrases “Dylan Tanaka,” “hostage situation,” “terrorist attack,” and “active shooter” all trend locally, but so far not a peep nationally. It is already 6:00 on Sunday morning for people on the East Coast, so it’s only a matter of time before they find out about it. And when they do, it’s sure to lead all the Sunday morning news shows. No talk about politics, the 2020 presidential election, or the economy. All the attention is bound to be on a small scale but dramatic scene happening inside one single home in Seattle, Washington. This is, without question, not the kind of attention Stephen Callahan had wanted when he planned this heist.

Nicole also has friends who work at a rival news station. She sends them a few cryptic messages saying her station has the scoop for the story of the year. One person has already responded, indignant that she’s not revealing more information. The other two are probably still asleep. Even though she’s full of adrenaline at the moment, Nicole would rather be sleeping if she could help it. However, sleep will have to wait.

Five miles away, the Channel 7 News van races toward the scene. Inside are a reporter, camera operator, photographer, and technician (who is also driving). As they pull up to 43rd Avenue, the van screeches to a halt when they see the whole street blocked off with yellow police tape. One of the officers swears to himself when he sees the news media have shown up. A few moments later another news van from Channel 5 appears. Then, a Seattle Times reporter riding a bicycle finds himself temporarily blinded by the seemingly thousands of red and blue lights flickering all over the neighborhood. Up above, a police helicopter has finally arrived on the scene, shining a bright spotlight – as if Winchester Drive needed additional bright lights – on the roof of Dylan Tanaka’s mansion. An already maniacal scene has just been kicked up a notch. Soon, it’ll get much worse once the national news outlets find out about this developing crisis.

What helps spread the word is an anonymous Twitter personality named Rufus P. Little, a Seattle resident who tweets nothing but weird rumors, hearsay, and chatter collected from a police scanner radio he (or she or they) owns. With an incredible 278,549 followers, Rufus tweets content at all hours of the night – including federal holidays – and is usually pretty reliable. Or at the very least, his content is entertaining enough for more than a quarter of a million people to want to consume it. As of right now, Rufus is tweeting furiously about a developing situation happening in the private home of infamous Seattleite Dylan Tanaka, the former CEO of Perseus Analytics who should be in prison but isn’t. His first tweet announcing the shocking news that Mr. Tanaka is being held at gunpoint by terrorists (or some sort of group of criminals) was retweeted 57,102 times within ten minutes of it being sent out. Subsequent tweets have accumulated similar engagement statistics.

Give credit to Rufus P. Little (who’s garnered a following beyond the Pacific Northwest, though the majority of his audience is from the greater Seattle area) for ensuring that newsmakers on the east coast are alerted to this dramatic situation. While he’s not a fan of Mr. Tanaka, he doesn’t want any harm to come to him. Unless the people holding him hostage are Syrian parents whose children were killed in a drone strike caused by faulty analytical intelligence. Then it would be him getting his comeuppance.

By 3:15 a.m. (6:15 on the east coast), all the major national television news stations have picked up on the story. ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and BBC are all reporting on what’s going on to millions of viewers in the United States and the United Kingdom. The usual left-wing and right-wing commentators choose to emphasize either the “corrupt billionaire experiencing blowback thanks to his crimes against humanity” or “(possible foreign) terrorists hold American civilians hostage” angle, depending on what gets them more clicks and social media followers. Even the crackpot conspiracy theory websites, who still think Dylan Tanaka is somehow a member of the Illuminati or the New World Order or whatever, get in on the action, insisting Dylan has been continuing his top-secret work for the Pentagon and the Department of Defense and that he’s now become “expendable” in the plot to take over the world. Or, Dylan “found out too much” and is being executed in order to ensure his silence. No matter where you choose to get your news, the CRISIS BREWING IN SEATTLE (a not-so-subtle reference to the Emerald City’s greatest cultural contribution, the Starbucks Corporation) is the top trending story across the nation (and certain parts across the globe).

A sample of announcements should shed light on what the “national conversation” sounds and feels like:

CNN: Breaking news out of Seattle, Washington. A few hours ago, local police were alerted to a possible hostage situation developing in the home of Dylan Tanaka, the former CEO of Perseus Analytics and consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense. At around 1:40 in the morning local time, a 9-1-1 call was made claiming a shooting had happened right outside Mr. Tanaka’s private residence. When police arrived on the scene, they discovered that he and at least one other houseguest were being held hostage by armed gunmen inside his home. It is unknown at this time how many gunmen there are, how many hostages there are, and whether or not Mr. Tanaka or anyone else has been shot or killed. This is a developing story, so stay tuned for further updates on this…

Fox News: We’ve just gotten reports that multiple armed terrorists have broken and entered into the home of former U.S. military contractor Dylan Tanaka, who you may remember was subject to a lengthy and public federal investigation for his activities combatting terrorism in the Middle East. Local police are not speaking to the media at this time, but an unnamed source close to the situation says a hostage crisis is brewing in Seattle. We will try to gather further testimony from eyewitnesses in the meantime. We do not yet know if anyone has been killed, though we do know at least one adult male has been shot and is being taken to a local hospital. More on this story a little later…

MSNBC: We interrupt for breaking news developing in Seattle. There are reports of a hostage crisis happening inside the residence of Dylan Tanaka, the former CEO of Perseus Analytics who had previously been working on a top-secret antiterrorism project for the U.S. government. Tanaka was the subject of a congressional investigation into his activities developing drone technology for the military and American intelligence agencies. The investigation resulted in Tanaka resigning from his position, Perseus Analytics dissolving, and several of his top lieutenants serving federal prison sentences. As you may recall, the reclusive billionaire did not face any jail time for his actions. Now, it seems like he is being held hostage inside his own home. Local authorities are not speaking to reporters on the ground. Eyewitnesses say several people, not just Tanaka, are being held at gunpoint. It is unknown at this time how many gunmen there are on the scene or if there are any casualties. One source who lives in the neighborhood says a man was taken to a local hospital after suffering some sort of injury. We will update this story as further developments come in. In other news, it appears that the White House will…

BBC: Good morning. Breaking news from the United States. American businessman and former military contractor Dylan Tanaka is reportedly being held at gunpoint inside his home in Seattle, Washington. At about 1:40 in the morning local time, police were alerted to an alleged shooting that had occurred outside Mr. Tanaka’s private home. Authorities later discovered a much more serious situation developing, though it is unclear at this moment how that happened. Several eyewitnesses say a significant police presence is now on the ground, as civilians have been escorted out of their homes and transported far away from ordeal. In addition to serving as a consultant for the American military, Tanaka’s former company, Perseus Analytics, contracted with the British government on several top-secret defense projects. Perseus Analytics’ U.K. headquarters used to be located in London before the company dissolved and merged with The McDermott Corporation. It is unknown whether or not there have been any fatalities. According to a source inside Parliament, the Prime Minister has been briefed on the situation, as Mr. Tanaka was working on a special project for the RAF before resigning from his position as CEO. We will keep you informed about this ongoing situation as we learn about further updates…

As national news outlets begin to report feverishly on this crisis, Rufus P. Little is rapidly becoming something of an international celebrity. His keenly accurate tweets, or at least they’re seen as accurate by the millions of people who are sharing his updates, have reached the furthest corners of the globe. Reporters who are too lazy to fly out to Seattle to investigate are simply sending him DMs asking for timely updates before he gives them away to the public for free. Rufus, not surprisingly, “blocks” them out of spite. Just because he’s willing to do their job for them doesn’t mean he’s going to give them inside knowledge just so they can chase Twitter clout. Rufus is a man of the people, after all. And the people deserve better.

As Stephen, Dylan, Henry, and Roddy walk outside on the driveway, at least half a dozen helicopters (two belonging to the police and FBI and the other four to local TV news stations) are swirling around up above. The deafening noise hurts their ears, though they quickly adjust and do their best to drown out the bedlam. They have more important matters to worry about. The driveway is clear but it is impossible to not notice the large crowd of people – mostly police and SWAT officers – gathered on the other side of the gate. It looks like an angry mob of armed militants getting ready to storm a foreign embassy. Stephen is walking right behind Dylan with a gun pointed at his neck. Roddy decides to be less dramatic, choosing to have his firearm in hand but not pointed at Henry directly. He knows the chef won’t attempt to do anything stupid like flee or climb the gate to escape. Stephen estimates there has to be at least forty or fifty police officers, and a dozen or so SWAT members, in attendance of today’s makeshift neighborhood block party. He sees a couple plainclothes people in front of the gate, which he guesses are the FBI people he spoke to earlier.

“Good morning, Steve,” Baker says to Stephen as the group comes to a complete stop. The fact that there are dozens of guns pointed in his direction makes his heart race a million miles a minute. He’s sure the others are feeling the same way.

“Is it morning already? God, it’s been a long night,” Stephen wryly replies.

“Yes, it has. You’ve been busy.” Baker takes a look at the man he just spoke to through the gate callbox. He’s exactly what he expected him to be: Fairly tall, clean-shaven, dark brown hair, dressed in all black, well-spoken, and determined to get away with whatever it is he’s trying to get away with. “Steve” looks like a schemer who’s planned this out, even for a worst-case-scenario such as this one. Stephen stops about ten feet away from the gate. Baker takes this as his cue to resume speaking. “Let’s talk like adults. As you can see, there’s no way you’re escaping from this nightmare. Eventually, even if it takes all day, or all week for that matter, you and your men will be brought into police custody. There’s no denying that. Do you agree, Steve?”

“I agree. Mr. Tanaka here and his personal chef are sure to want to end this nightmare as soon as possible,” Stephen says. Henry raises his hand to make sure the authorities know who he is. Dylan will never forgive himself for putting his friends in harm’s way. “You’ve probably noticed how calm I am right now, have you not?”

“Yes, that has crossed my mind,” Baker says. “How are you, Mr. Tanaka?”

“Oh, I’ve had better Saturday evenings,” Dylan jokes. “I sort of, uh, wish I had decided to binge-watch something on Netflix instead of dealing with this circus.”

“Are you hurt?”

“No, not even a scratch or a bruise. Other than the fact Mr. Callahan here and his buddies have been pointing guns at me all night long, I’m doing just fine.” Dylan looks at Stephen to see if he’s upset that he just revealed his name. The cops would have found out who he is sooner or later.

“Are you Stephen Callahan?” Baker asks. “The former Perseus Analytics executive who spent two years in prison–”

“Three,” Stephen interrupts. “Three. I spent three years in prison. Yes, you probably recognize me from the congressional hearings. Or that stupid PSA I did for Greenpeace all those years ago. I am indeed Stephen Callahan, Mr. Tanaka’s former right-hand man. We used to be close. We used to be friends. Well, I think it’s safe to say that’s not exactly true anymore, isn’t it?” He raises his gun to the back of Dylan’s head. The cops behind Robert L. Baker and Special Agent Mendoza draw their weapons in response. Baker puts his hand up to tell everyone to stand down. The police lower their weapons.

“Yeah, I’d say our friendship has come to an end. That ship has sailed. You’ve burned a hell of a lot of bridges tonight, buddy,” Dylan says. “Don’t expect a Christmas card from me this year.”

“I guess no letter of recommendation for you,” Henry chimes in. This makes Baker and Mendoza laugh. Roddy wants to laugh but refrains. Dylan smiles.

“Enough chit chat,” Stephen begins. “Let’s get down to brass tacks. I do have a backup plan, believe it or not. And Rob, this involves you. And you.” He points to Special Agent Mendoza, correctly sensing a well-dressed woman standing next to the hostage negotiator would be a person of importance. “I figured there would be a small chance that tonight’s plan would go haywire. So I planned accordingly. I have an ace up my sleeve. Want to hear what it is?”

Dylan and Henry, who are both aware of Stephen’s plan to steal top-secret scientific documents, have no idea what this “ace up his sleeve” is, or the fact that he even had one to begin with. The two men figured Stephen and his bandits simply planned to show up, break in, threaten Dylan with his life if he doesn’t cooperate, steal the loot, and walk out of here as quietly as church mice. As they are about to find out, Stephen came prepared.

“I am quite curious how you intend to get out of this pickle.” Baker points up in the sky at the police helicopters flying circles around the neighborhood. He doesn’t need to remind them of the dozens of police officers, highly trained SWAT team members, and snipers strategically positioned from above. “What is it?”

Stephen clears his throat, enjoying his temporary moment in the spotlight (both literally and figuratively speaking). He hopes he delivers a convincing performance since he’s pulling this out of thin air. He brought the dirty bomb with him, but that’s a last resort, not a Plan B. “I have several associates that I’m working with. Four of them are working with me tonight.” He gestures to Roddy, who nods his head. Roddy doesn’t know where Stephen is going with this, but he decides to play along and pretend like he’s fully informed about what he’s about to say. “The others are working, let’s say, elsewhere. Here it goes. I’ve planted a bomb in this city. It’s not large, but it’s significant enough to kill everyone who’s within, say, a 25-foot range. Now, in five to six hours, a new day will begin in Seattle. It’s Sunday, but not everyone likes to sleep in. People like to go to brunch, church, or watch sports in their favorite bar. Hidden somewhere is a bomb that will go off if anything were to happen to me or my men. Understand?

Special Agent Mendoza, Robert L. Baker, and Officers Dietrich and Gutierrez exchange quick glances at each other, expressions of surprise and dread filling their faces.

“Do you know where this bomb is located, Steve?” Baker asks. His eyes focus on Stephen’s face and voice inflection. Part of his FBI training included reading people’s verbal and physical expressions to see if they’re lying or not. Callahan, whether he knows this or not, is a hard man to read. This was evident during the congressional hearings. It’s evident now.

“I do not. That’s the beauty of my plot. I gave orders to my associates to hide the bomb in a random location. It could be anywhere. A car trunk. Inside a trash can. Under a restaurant table. In a library. Under a bus seat. Near the train tracks. Anywhere. It’s small enough to hide in plain sight,” Stephen teases. He senses genuine fear out of the hardened FBI spooks and the lead cops. “You can’t possibly evacuate the entire city. You can send the bomb squad to every public location possible, but that’ll only make my friends paranoid that something has happened to me. And if they feel like our mission has failed, they’ll detonate the bomb just out of spite. You could see upwards to twenty, maybe thirty people dead. Maybe more, if they hid the bomb in the right place. Wow, what a predicament! Bet you didn’t see this coming, did you?”

“How do we know you’re telling the truth? You could be lying.” Baker counters with no emotion in his voice. Dylan, who’s just as shocked as everyone else is, hopes Stephen is lying through his teeth to save his own hide. He’s a bad man (as he clearly found out tonight), but he’s not a mass murderer. Unless you count the work they did in Iraq and Syria…

“Yeah, I figured you’d say that.” Stephen puts down the gun once he sees the police back off. “Well, can you really take that chance? Can you really assume I’m lying just to save me and my colleagues from facing jail time? I could be. I could have just pulled that out of my ass. But…can you risk it? One of my men inside the house can send a simple text to a certain someone and, well, the bomb goes off. Yeah, it may not do that much damage at this early hour, but for sure people will die. Is that something you want to have to deal with, officers?”

Dietrich and Gutierrez both look down at the ground. They’re still trying to process the horror of possibly having to deal with a Boston Marathon-style terrorist attack in their very own city. They choose to not say anything to him out of defiance. Dylan suspects Stephen’s lying and that there is no bomb, but then again before tonight he never thought he’d be angry enough to pull off everything he’s already pulled off up to this point. So, it’s not totally unreasonable.

“I thought so,” Stephen says triumphantly. “That, ladies and gentlemen, is the ace up my sleeve. If I don’t make it out alive, I can guarantee you that people in this city will die. That’s the truth. You can choose to not believe me, but you do so at your own peril. Can you risk it?”

“No, we cannot risk it. Whether we want to or not, we have to take your threat seriously,” Baker acknowledges with a hint of defeat. “Okay, Steve. I hear you loud and clear. How shall we proceed?”

“I’m glad you asked!” Stephen quickly looks back at Roddy, whose expressionless face signifies that he’s also adept at playing along. Roddy knows the bomb threat is bullshit…but he’s doing a heck of a job selling it. For that, he deserves to be commended. “I want a private airplane waiting for us at Boeing Field. Me, my four men, and Dylan will all board it and go to a place of my choosing. After the flight has landed, I will call my other men and tell them to retrieve the bomb from wherever they’ve hidden it and dismantle it. There will be no evidence. The city will be safe. The four other hostages, one of them the black fellow standing right over there, will be left behind. As soon as my plane is ready, they will be released. How does that sound? Do we have a deal?”

A long silence ensues. Baker, Mendoza, Dietrich, Gutierrez, and a few other high-ranking police officers all huddle together like a football team planning their next drive. Stephen, self-satisfied with his performance, looks back at Dylan and Henry. Both men are trying to figure out if Stephen is telling the truth or is full of bullshit. So far, neither of them has any clue. Three excruciating minutes later, the feds and cops break the huddle and return to chatting with Mr. Callahan.

“Okay, Steve. You win. We all think you’re lying, by the way, but we’ve come to a consensus that we can’t take that chance. You could be telling the truth. And if you are, there could be major blood spilled on the streets of our city. We can’t abide by that. Not one damn bit. If you’ll excuse us, we have several phone calls to make. We’ll let you know when your chartered flight is ready. Now, how does that sound to you?”

“Like music to my ears,” Stephen says with the smuggest expression one could possibly give.

***

“I don’t like how long they’re taking,” Xander whispers to Cortez.

“Relax, man. The boss man knows what he’s doing. Yeah, he was pissed off, but he looked like he knew what he was doing,” Cortez reassures him. Melanie, Peggy, and Monique are still sitting together underneath their blankets. Melanie really has to pee but knows there’s no chance she’ll be able to. Not after what Peggy pulled earlier. She’ll be lucky to fart and not get shot.

“What is he doing?”

“I don’t know man. I’m just trying to stay positive, you know? Maybe he has a backup plan, I don’t know,” Cortez says with frustration. Still mad at being responsible for this mess, Cortez is doing whatever he can to redeem himself. Remaining positive and steadfast in accomplishing the mission is the only thing he can do right now. That, and prevent any of the three ladies from trying to escape again.

“Hey, baby,” Peggy says to Cortez. She has a plan to escape…and sincerely hopes the other two gals are game as well. If they aren’t, this could backfire spectacularly. “Would you like to tell everyone how I managed to escape? It’s quite a story, if I may say so myself.”

“Shut the fuck up, bitch!” Cortez snaps. “No, I ain’t saying shit! Nothing! And you shut your mouth, okay? If you talk again, if any of you say shit, I’ll put a bullet right through your fucking head.” He points his pistol at all three women in an attempt to demonstrate toughness. Peggy knows she has him right where she wants him.

“No kidding! The reason you won’t say shit is because you were too busy drinking my piss!” Peggy laughs hysterically. Melanie and Monique look at her, shocked to hear what they just heard. “Isn’t that right? That’s how I did it, girls. He couldn’t help himself. He knows who I am. He loves me. He worships me. He’s one of my loyal subscribers, after all.”

“Oh, wow!” Monique says. “You are a celebrity, baby girl. Of course this perverted asshole knows who you are!”

“I sure am!” Peggy continues. “He really, really, really, reeaaaaaaaaaally wanted to drink my piss. Like, for real. He literally asked to drink my pee. That’s fucking gross, but it’s what he wanted. And when I did, when I crouched down over his face and pissed everything my bladder was holding, this creep literally drank it all! Like he was at a piss fountain!”

Xander bursts out in laughter. Melanie and Monique play along and add to the ruckus. Cortez is beet red, blushing like he’s never blushed before. Peggy smiles at him, knowing she’s pushing all the right buttons.

“SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU FUCKING BITCH!!! YOU FUCKING CUNT! YOU FUCKING WHORE CUNT!” Cortez screams at the top of his lungs.

Instead of shooting her, he decides to walk right up to her and slap her in the face. Peggy wanted him to do this so she could pull off her escape plan. Just as he’s a few feet away from her, Peggy stands up, bends her knees slightly, and pulls the switchblade out of her vagina, where it’s been secretly hidden this whole time. Peggy struggles to push the little release switch because her vaginal juices have made the knife slippery. Fortunately, she succeeds at extending the blade before Cortez could comprehend what was happening. In the blink of an eye, Peggy grabs Cortez’s right shoulder and jabs the blade as deep into his belly as she possibly can. Cortez goes from feeling extreme anger to feeling extreme pain. He cries out, in shock that a blade that long has penetrated his torso…seemingly out of nowhere.

“What the fuck?” Xander blurts out as he watches his comrade get attacked by the lady with big boobs. Melanie, who’s sitting closest to where Xander is standing, leaps from the bench and tackles him to the floor. Monique, surprised at first that all of this is happening so fast, stands up and tries to find a weapon to fight with. She cannot find one.

“Sorry, buddy,” Peggy says, twisting the knife inside Cortez’s stomach. “It’s not personal. I hate to lose a customer tonight, but you’re an asshole who deserves what he’s about to get. I’ll make sure to piss on your grave after they’ve buried you. I’m sure you’ll actually enjoy that!” Peggy pulls the knife out of Cortez’s belly and shoves it back in. This makes him scream even louder. He coughs up blood and spits it all over the floor.

Meanwhile, Melanie overpowers Xander. She knocks the gun to the floor. As he attempts to reach for it, Melanie wraps her powerful right arm around Xander’s neck. She doesn’t want to kill him, but she doesn’t know what other choice she has. She watched enough WWF wrestling back in the ‘80s to know what a sleeper hold is. A few of her muscle worship clients have requested that they put them in a sleeper hold, but every single time she’s refused, saying it’s too dangerous. She regrets not trying it at least once so she could have the experience of successfully doing it.

“Good night, sleep tight!” Melanie says to Xander as he struggles to escape from her strong grip. As the seconds pass by, his resistance diminishes noticeably.

A few feet away, Cortez falls to the ground, bleeding profusely. Peggy holds the knife above his face. She considers going for the kill shot, until Monique interrupts her thought process.

“Hold on, darling. I know how to finish him off,” Monique says. She notices out of the corner of her eye a bunch of heavy free weights lying around about twenty feet away. Monique, who has been training nonstop for the Olympics for the past nine years of her life, finds a 150-pound dumbbell sitting on the floor. She bends down, picks it up with perfect weightlifting form, and walks it back toward Cortez.

“Holy shit, baby…” Peggy mutters under her breath.

“The bastard deserves this. They all do.” With that, Monique squats down and (without arching her back) with all the force she could muster heaves the 150-pound dumbbell high in the air. It’s not quite a clean and jerk maneuver, but it’s pretty damn close. The heavy cast iron dumbbell lands squarely on Cortez’s face, exploding it in a pool of gooey blood and loose flesh. Peggy stands back to avoid the carnage landing on her bare skin.

Out of breath and feeling as powerful as she’s ever felt, Monique leans forward to admire her handiwork. Sure enough, Cortez’s skull has been completely smashed. Brain matter is splattered across the floor. Combined with being stabbed in the belly twice, Cortez is as dead as a doornail. Peggy wipes sweat off her brow. Monique can feel her shoulder and back get strained while attempting this heavy lift (without stretching or using proper form). Even Melanie, who’s still trying to put Xander to sleep, stops what she’s doing to react to what Monique has just done.

“HOLY SHIT! Wow! Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn girl,” Peggy squeals, punching Monique lightly on the shoulder. “You just killed him. Fuck, he’s dead. No doubt about it. He’s soooooooooooo dead. You fucked up his face real, real, reeeeeeeeeeal good!”

Melanie, Peggy, and Monique all gather around Cortez’s carcass. Xander is fast asleep several feet away. No man alive can ever escape from the clutches of Melanie’s enormous biceps. Monique takes Cortez’s gun. Melanie picks up Xander’s pistol. Peggy wipes off the switchblade with one of the blankets. The three strong, confident ladies look at each other, knowing they have one mission and one mission only. Peggy decides to speak for everyone.

“Let’s go rescue Dylan and Henry, and bring these motherfuckers to justice.”

Melanie and Monique don’t say anything because there is nothing else to say.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nice shot! Dwayne Wade would be proud.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where are you staying?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sounds good! Let’s get rolling.”

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

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

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

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

“What kind of swimsuit did you order?”

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

“For the swimsuit issue?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You feel…amazing. Utterly amazing.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh my God, darling…yes…”

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

“I…I love this so much…”

“Come for me, baby.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She was right.

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yeah,” Kit replies softly.

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

“Rolling,” the DP says.

“Go,” Tony commands.

Five seconds of silence follows. Then action commences.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Uh, I can go get a towel…”

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

“Who…who’s Kayla?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How often do you visit the Strip?”

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

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

“Holy shit! Jillian is from Queens.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ooooooooooohhhh boy will that fit?”

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

“Do it. I’m fucking ready.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’d like that. Yeah. Sometime.”

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

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

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

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

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

“How was the shoot today?” George asks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love my life.

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the King’s Queens – Chapter 9: Hostage Situation

Dylan Tanaka doesn’t believe in the paranormal. He has an auntie who claims to possess extra-sensory perception (and can talk to the spirits of the recently deceased who haven’t yet “passed on to the afterlife”), which confirms his skepticism in such baloney. She’s kooky in more ways than that, a fact that her six ex-husbands could corroborate. Yet, despite his condescending attitude towards people claiming to have ESP, a “sixth sense,” or anything like that, Dylan can occasionally “feel” when something is out of place without knowing why or how…or having any evidence to back up his feelings.

This is one of those times.

He and his party guests are still in the cabaret room, drinking and dancing the night away, completely lost in the little world that they’ve cultivated for themselves. Melanie has stopped teaching Henry how to pose like a bodybuilder and has moved on to asking him how to properly fillet a fish. Henry pontificates with the expert credentials of a tenured college professor. Monique listens intently, also interested in learning proper seafood preparation techniques from Dylan’s talented chef. Peggy is at the bar making herself a margarita. She saw Monique drinking one and decided she should consume one as well.

“Hey, are you okay?” Monique has drifted away from Melanie and Henry’s conversation toward the host, who seems lost in his own thoughts. “You’re just standing around all by yourself. What’s up, honey?” She kisses him on the cheek. Dylan remains in a state of alertness.

“I don’t know why, but I got a funny feeling. I think…someone’s downstairs. Or coming up the stairs, or…”

Before Dylan can finish his thought, the doors at the front of the room violently swing open. Right over Monique’s right shoulder, he sees several moving figures dressed in all black sweep into the cabaret room. In a moment that takes only five seconds but feels like an eternity, the first figure shouts something Dylan cannot understand while the others behind him point pistols at the party guests. Monique turns around to see what the commotion is all about and lets out a high-pitched scream when she sees the men with guns. They aren’t wearing masks – probably because it would attract suspicion and unwanted attention – but without question, they are armed and carry malevolent intent.

“Everybody FREEZE!” the lead man shouts. Peggy drops her margarita to the floor and also screams. Melanie and Henry – who are standing in front of the balcony, furthest away from the entrance – stop conversing and stare in horror at what’s unfolding in front of them.

“What the fuck is this?” Henry says to Melanie. Before she can respond, everyone freezes when the man who shouted fires a single round straight into the ceiling. The bullet blasts a Fresnel stage light into a thousand shards of glass and metal.

“All of you, get your fucking hands up in the goddamn air, right now! I will not repeat myself,” the lead man warns. “Then, I want you all to walk slowly towards Mr. Tanaka and gather around him. Do it NOW!”

Dylan’s eyes finally adjust to the traumatic scene. It is at this very moment that he finally recognizes the leader of this pack of armed men. It’s unmistakable.

“Stephen?” Dylan asks the man.

Thomas, Roddy, Cortez, and Xander also adjust their eyes to the bright lights in the cabaret room. Once they finally see that every single person in this room is naked, they react with a mixture of shock and morbid curiosity. They may be dangerous men in “assault mode,” but they are men nevertheless. Nothing, not even a high-stakes heist, can change that.

“Hello Dylan. It’s, uh, nice to see you again. WOW! Look at you. Look at this place. I thought you were all alone. I seriously thought you’d be here, all alone, jerking off to an old VHS tape you hid under your childhood bed,” Stephen teases his former boss. He stops to regard the scene. His eyes get wide when he sees every partygoer is as naked as the day they were born. “HEY! Damn. What in the actual fuck is going on here? What is this, a Roman Empire-style orgy? Yikes. Can we all join in?”

Dylan doesn’t say a word. He’s too stunned to comprehend what his former employee is saying to him. It’s been at least three years since he last spoke to Stephen Callahan. Their last meeting wasn’t exactly cordial. In fact, it included a lot of cursing, innuendo, threats, and unforgiving stares of bitter anger. And that came from both sides. Peggy cautiously walks closer to Dylan, who has a frightened Monique standing by her side. She quickly glances down to avoid stepping on broken glass with her bare feet. Melanie and Henry, their hands still high above their ears, come closer to their fellow party guests at a snail’s pace. Everyone’s heart rate is racing a million miles per minute.

“Seriously, Dylan Tanaka. What the fuck is going on here? I have to know, my friend.” Stephen’s four companions (miraculously) remain as professional as can be. Cortez, however, recognizes Peggy Cole right away. He would never admit it to anyone, but he’s been a loyal subscriber to her videos and livestreams for years now. It’s like he’s seeing a celebrity!

“We’re just having a party. Maybe not quite like a Roman orgy, but pretty damn close,” Dylan says between gritted teeth. “Are you planning to kill me? Because if that’s your plan, just kill me. Spare my friends. Let them go. They didn’t do anything to you. Your beef is entirely with me. Not them. They’re innocent.”

“Oh, I know they’re innocent. And you’re absolutely right, Dylan boy. I have a lot of beef with you, you fucking coward.” Stephen takes a step closer to him, taunting him by pointing the barrel of his Glock 19 right at Dylan’s genitals. “Hell, I could just blow off your tiny little dick right here and leave the rest of you in peace. It’ll be messy, but hey, that’s why you have a butler, right? To clean up shit like that? But no, I have bigger plans in store for you.”

Dylan is accustomed to hearing taunts about having a “tiny Asian dick” from idiots like him (middle school was the worst years of his life), but the fact he and his men are pointing loaded guns directly at his friends is an entirely different experience. Filling him with rage, he knows he must remain calm and rational so that no one gets hurt. He sighs. “What plans, exactly?”

“Oh, you’ll see,” he grins. At last, all of Dylan’s party guests are standing in a row right in front of Stephen’s band of armed goons. Once he refocuses his eyes on the rest of the partygoers, Stephen realizes these aren’t just normal people Dylan has invited over on this fateful Saturday evening. The tall chubby black man is Dylan’s personal chef. He doesn’t know his name, but he knows his occupation and purpose for regularly visiting the house. The other three are women…

…but not your typical looking women. They are women with…big muscles.

Whoa.

Big muscles. Big, big, big muscles. Really fucking big muscles.

“Holy shit. Are you a fag? A secret fag? What the fuck is with all these muscle chicks? Sweet mother of God, this is fucking incredible. You are a woman, right?” Stephen zeroes in and taunts Melanie. Miss Wright gives him a dirty look that would make even the most sadistic serial killer cringe. “HOT DAMN! I didn’t know you were into muscle chicks! I suppose that’s not something you usually tell people, let alone your coworkers.” Stephen circles slowly around Melanie, keeping his gun pointed right at her head. Melanie, usually full of confidence and raw power, feels utterly helpless in this situation. She may have much larger muscles than this guy, but he has a gun pointed at her. That more than tips the scale in his favor.

Inside his mind, Stephen cannot actually believe that he just used the word “fag” in a derogatory sense. Having grown up in a traditionally liberal northeastern family, he’d been taught all his life that you should never use the f-word. Ever. Especially in today’s era when the gay rights movement has achieved so much progress. But in this case, he’s using it not as a homophobic slur, but as a self-aware immature schoolyard bully insult intended to belittle a man he abhors. He knows this doesn’t excuse his atrocious behavior, but tonight is not a night for taking the moral high ground. That ship has sailed. That will wait until a later day.

“Let me guess,” Stephen says to Melanie. “You have a bigger dick than him? I guess that wouldn’t take much…”

“Fuck off,” Melanie mutters. Everyone holds their breath. Melanie wonders if this will be the final thing she ever utters. He looks her in the eye. Instead of being angered, however, Stephen is amused.

“Whoa, your voice isn’t as manly as I had expected it to be. You actually sound like a real woman, so congratulations you slut.” There he is again, with the sophomoric schoolyard insults. Dylan has never heard him talk like this before, even back when they used to go out for drinks after work. “Well, you may end up surviving this if Mr. Tanaka here behaves like a good little Asian boy, like his mommy and daddy raised him to be. So, no pressure.” Stephen glances down at Melanie’s clit to see if it is indeed as large as a small penis. Yikes. It’s considerably huge, he notes, but alas – not as large as Dylan’s small pee-pee. Oh well, it’s still a funny joke.

“I have no fucking clue what you’re all doing here, wearing nothing at all, but that actually works to our favor, doesn’t it?” Stephen glances at Thomas, who still cannot fathom the bizarre sights he’s seeing right in front of him.

“Uh, yeah, very convenient,” Thomas stammers, struggling to return to “bad guy” mode. “We’d probably end up stripping you naked anyway, or at least down to your underwear. The good news is that we know none of you have your phones on you. So, uh. Where are your phones?”

Nobody speaks for a while. The five naked hostages can barely breathe. Roddy, Xander, and Cortez look at the nude women with lustful intentions. The three women notice this unwanted attention but are powerless to do anything about it. Finally, Henry decides to break the awkward silence.

“My stuff is in her bedroom,” he says, pointing to Peggy. She nods.

“Yeah, me too. My phone, my clothes, my luggage, everything is also in my bedroom,” Peggy says. She declined to point out her sex toys, vibrators, collection of lingerie, lube, condoms, and BDSM paraphernalia are also in her bedroom, though she figures these armed jackasses will find that out soon enough. “It’s all there. Nothing is on me. As you can clearly see.”

“I can see that,” Thomas says, checking out Peggy’s body from head to toe. His eyes leer at her enormous breast implants for a moment before he returns to barking out orders. “What about the rest of you? Speak up or I put a bullet through Dylan’s forehead.”

“My phone is also in my bedroom,” Monique squeaks. Her legs are shaking and she is on the verge of tears. Out of everyone currently involved in this mess, Dylan feels the most empathy for her. She’s the one who’s experienced the most trauma up to this point.

“Mine too,” Melanie says.

“My phone is right on that counter over there, by the bar,” Dylan points to the area where Peggy dropped her margarita. Immediately, Xander walks over to it, avoids stepping on the broken glass, and grabs Dylan’s iPhone. He returns to his original spot.

“Fantastic. Give it to me,” Thomas requests. Xander does so. The safecracker takes a small brown leather sack out of his coat pocket and puts the phone inside it. “Where are these bedrooms that you’re speaking of?”

“Go out through the doors you can in, turn left, and walk down that long hallway,” Dylan instructs them. “You’ll find a series of guest bedrooms at the far end. I have no clue who is staying where, so you’ll have to search through all of them. All the doors should be unlocked.”

Stephen nods at the three men to leave the room and search for the other four phones. Xander, Roddy, and Cortez put their Glocks back in their holsters and promptly exit the room. Everyone watches them leave. “Excellent. So far, I like the cooperation I’ve been seeing out of all of you,” Stephen says. “If you want to leave this luscious house alive, just keep up being good girls and boys.”

Suddenly, Stephen looks down at Henry’s penis. He cannot help but be impressed by what Dylan’s chef has hanging between his legs. The jaw-dropping sight of his endowment makes him chuckle.

“Huh. Well. I might as well blast Dylan’s dick off,” he says while pointing his gun back at Dylan’s genitals. “It’s not like anyone will miss it. If I did the same to you, Mr. Chef, I’m guessing a lot of ladies would be sorely disappointed. Emphasis on sore.” He lets out a self-congratulatory laugh. Thomas politely follows suit.

“Go fuck yourself, you fucking piece of shit!” Henry defiantly curses at him. Stephen then points the barrel of his Glock right at the tip of Henry’s member. Dylan closes his eyes tightly, anticipating a gunshot that would be followed by a horrifying scream and gushing blood.

“What did you say to me?” Stephen threatens.

“You heard what I said. Go ahead and shoot me. If it makes you feel like a big man to cut a man like me down to size. Come on. Do your worst,” Henry says coolly. This act of defiance makes Stephen back off from Dylan’s trusted chef. He returns to standing next to Thomas and repoints his gun at the entire group.

“Wooooooooooo, I like your friends, Dylan. They have spunk. They have balls. Literally, I’m sure you ladies also have balls, if you know what I mean.” This elicits a dirty look from Peggy and Melanie. Monique is still too frightened to feel any emotion other than paralysis caused by guttural fear. “Anyway, enough chit chat. Let’s cut to the chase. As soon as my three comrades return with your phones, we’re going to take a little field trip to the basement. Can you guess why we’re going there, Dylan?”

Dylan pauses for a bit and bows his head. From the moment his brain processed that Stephen Callahan and four unknown associates had broken into his home, he knew the purpose of their unfortunate visit.

“I do. I know exactly why you’d want us to go down there.”

Melanie tries to turn her head to look at Dylan, but she decides it would be safer to not make any sudden moves. She wonders what he could possibly have hidden down there.

“Great. I’m glad we’re on the same page,” Stephen sends his former boss a wicked smile. Dylan Tanaka can only stand there, naked and shaking, as scared and vulnerable as he’s ever felt in his life – hoping he and his friends survive until the morning.

***

“Dude, like what the fuck is going on? Did you see the chicks that are in that room?” Roddy cannot contain his excitement as he and his two companions briskly walk toward the guest bedrooms. “I’ve literally never seen shit like that in my life. Fuuuuuuuuuuck dudes!”

“Yeah, this shit is crazy. For sure,” Xander adds. He hopes his fledging erection isn’t visible through his pants.

“Want to know something? I actually recognized one of them,” Cortez quietly confesses.

Roddy and Xander stop dead in their tracks. They turn around to see Cortez following behind them. He has a sheepish look on his face. Roddy has to know what Cortez is talking about. “Really? Who?”

“You know the chick with those enormous boobs? Yeah, she’s like a, uh, a pornographic actress, or whatever they’re called. She’s in porn, for real guys. I sort of, uh, subscribe to her videos.” Cortez looks embarrassed to be confessing to knowing who LATINAMUSCLEPRINCESS67 is. For the past three years he’s been a monthly subscriber to her videos, livestream chats, and photo albums. That part isn’t something he’ll reveal, though.

“Damn, dude. That’s fucking sick. But I shouldn’t judge. I’m into some kinky ass shit myself,” Xander jokes. At last, they reach the part of the hallway where the guest bedrooms are located. Cortez wants their conversation to come to a swift end for obvious reasons. Hopefully, the search for everyone’s phones will do the trick.

“Bruh, what kind of porn does she do?” Xander inquires.

“I don’t know how I found her, but she does the usual shit. Girl on girl. Her with a guy, or two, or three, or fifty,” Cortez smiles. “She does a lot of normal shit, no joke dude. And she’s a real chick, not a guy who became a chick or nothing. Seriously.” As they chat, Roddy enters an empty bedroom, takes a quick look around, and moves on to the next room. He is now in what is currently Melanie’s bedroom.

“Where the fuck is it?” Roddy asks himself. “Ah, there it is.” He finds a larger-than-usual phone with a fuchsia-colored case sitting on a bedside table. He figures it’s rather fitting that a huge lady (at least he thinks she’s a lady) would possess such a huge phone. Seems logical enough. He picks it up and leaves the room, turning off the lights before closing the door.

“Wow, that’s like, uh, weird that she’d be here. But I guess that makes sense. Rich motherfucker like him could invite skanks like her over to his place. He’s rich enough.”

“Oh yeah. So I subscribe to her videos. It’s pretty cheap. Only two dollars a month,” Cortez lies. It’s actually $19.99 a month to subscribe just to her videos. It’s an extra $4.99 on top of that for the weekly livestreams. And subscribers have to pay a shit ton more for personal one-on-one virtual chats. He’s never done that, though. He doesn’t have that kind of money to burn. “It’s a pretty good deal. Yeah, it’s pretty wild that she’s here. Fuck, man.”

“Oh yeah. Fucking wild.”

“Hey, you pathetic little fuckwads. Get to work!” Roddy commands them. This snaps Xander and Cortez out of their pleasant little chat. Xander dashes to the bedroom next to the one Roddy just came out of. Sure enough, it’s the one belonging to Monique St. Martin. The hot black chick seems like she’d be a good fuck (like a lot of sisters who keep themselves in shape), except for the fact she was on the verge of tears the whole time. That’s not hot at all, Xander thinks. It’s too bad there had to be innocent bystanders unexpectedly inside the house during this time. He really hates to get people who don’t deserve shit all covered in shit. It’s a stain on his professional record, not to mention a permanent black mark on his conscience. Even though he’s lived the life of a criminal-for-hire for several years now, he still has enough of the proverbial angel sitting on his shoulder to remind him that he’s still a human being. And, that the people he encounters during jobs are also human beings.

After sifting through the black girl’s purse, Xander finds her phone, stashed away next to a tube of lipstick, a taser, a spare tampon, a small travel makeup kit, a phone charger, and her wallet. He looks at the tampon and imagines what it would be like to shove it up her tight little pussy, watching her squirm as she experiences this unexpected painful penetration.

(Like he said to his partners in crime, Xander is into some kinky ass shit. He is not necessarily proud of this fact)

At the same time, Cortez silently prays that he’d be the one who could enter into LATINAMUSCLEPRINCESS67’s room. It would be like walking into a holy house of worship, a sacred palace, an historical monument. And to his pleasant surprise, it sure looks like the bedroom his (favorite) pornographic actress is staying in. The bed is a complete mess. Cortez sniffs at it, noticing the distinct scent of sweat and body odor. The muskiness is enough to send shivers down his spine. He turns on the lights and audibly gasps at what he sees.

“What the fuck is this shit?”

The room is littered with clothing and costume pieces strewn across the floor. Several bottles/tubes of makeup are lined up perfectly on top of a pearl white dressing table, with a suitcase full of sex toys and erotic equipment sitting in the corner. Cortez’s professionalism instantaneously goes out the window as he regards the beautiful mess surrounding him. It truly feels like walking into a sacred altar where one could experience the Divine. He picks up a clear glass dildo that looks about eight to nine inches long, significantly longer than his own dick. He puts it down once he sees on the floor by the foot of the bed a pair of sparkly, scarlet-colored bikini bottoms. After bending down to pick it up, Cortez takes one long sniff of it, taking in the musk and history this bikini has gone through. He looks around to make sure his compatriots aren’t spying on him. Thankfully, they are nowhere to be seen. He stuffs the bikini bottom into his inside coat pocket, hoping he can have fun with it later once this job is complete. Several seconds later, he finds her phone sitting on a chair, next to her wallet. He opens the wallet to see if her driver’s license is inside. It is.

“Peggy Cole. That’s her name. Wow. I had no idea. And she lives in Vegas. I guess I already knew that…”

“Hey, have you found it yet, you horny bastard?” Roddy’s voice beckons in the distance. Cortez takes the phone, drops the wallet back on the chair, and turns around to leave the room. He is, at the moment, a horny bastard, but he can’t act out on his horniness until they successfully steal whatever it is that they came here to steal. That means later. Much later.

“Yeah, I found it!” Cortez slams the door shut behind him to rejoin his other two companions. Roddy says nothing as they walk back to the cabaret room. Xander, however, has one last question for him.

“Was that the porno chick’s room?”

“Yeah, it was.”

“Did you find anything, uh, weird in it?” Roddy is several steps ahead of them, clearly not interested in this conversation. “I’m just curious, man.”

“Oh yeah, there’s some weird ass stuff in that room. We’ll come back later tonight to check it out. Trust me, my dude, she’s one hell of a fine bitch. I’ll show you a video of her squirting all this juice out of her pussy…”

“Squirting? What the fuck? Wow, that’s hot shit for sure. Real hot shit!”

“Hey, you two, get off the horny train and get your mind back in the game,” Roddy chastises them without turning around to look at them. Their sudden silence tells him all he needs to know. Those two horny idiots may have their alternative preferences, but Roddy won’t allow that to distract them from the job at hand. He knows Stephen and Thomas would agree. The stakes of this heist are too high to allow unnecessary levity to seep in.

The walk back to the cabaret room did not include any further chatter about LATINAMUSCLEPRINCESS67 or her breathtaking anatomical abilities.

***

“I learned a lot while in prison, Dylan.” Stephen finds a plate of maraschino cherries sitting on the bar and eats one. “I learned a lot about myself, the world, the criminal justice system in our country, and, most importantly, the ins and outs of being a top-notch professional thief.” He glances at Thomas, who feels touched by the direct acknowledgment of his expertise. Stephen flicks the cherry stem on the floor carelessly, showing little regard to cleanliness. “The things I learned and the shit I experienced have led me to this moment. And you know what I want from you, don’t you?”

By now, Dylan, Henry, Melanie, Peggy, and Monique are bunched together, as if this formation gives them the most power in a scenario where they lack all power. Thomas has his gun in hand but not pointed at anyone in particular. Stephen’s firearm is now in his holster. “I do. But you’ll have a difficult time getting it. I made sure of that,” Dylan says.

“Oh? You were expecting me?” Stephen laughs. Dylan’s face remains cold and unchanged. “Whether you were or weren’t, I’m flattered you wouldn’t just let any old associate of yours waltz in here and take whatever they want. Who knows? I may decide to take more than I had anticipated.” He pinches Monique’s left nipple, causing her to squirm. Melanie almost comes forward to her defense but chooses to not directly confront two armed men while she and her friends are standing around as naked as the day they were born.

“Don’t touch me,” Monique warns in a low voice. Stephen backs off, apparently remembering that he’s still a civilized human being, despite the present circumstances. Watching his former deputy violate Monique makes Dylan seethe with rage.

“Sorry, my dear. I got ahead of myself.”

The tension is broken when Stephen’s three hired goons return with a sack full of everyone’s phones. Roddy hands it to Thomas. He looks inside, pokes around, closes the sack, and nods his head to Stephen, signaling that everything they need to collect has been collected. Stephen nods back. “Excellent. It would appear our business up here is done. And I must say, Dylan, I love what you’ve done with the place. You have some sort of stripper joint right here in your home. Is that what this place is?”

“It’s a cabaret room,” Dylan says coldly.

“Oh. Whatever you call it, it’s quite a sight to see. I feel like I’m on Broadway.” Stephen takes a deep breath and sighs. “Well, let’s get on with it. Time is short. I don’t want to be here all night. Where is it?”

Henry and the three ladies look at Dylan, still confused as to what he and this vicious monster is talking about. As Dylan’s loyal chef, Henry has been to this house thousands of times over the years. He’s never been aware that anything valuable or important is hidden here. He’s well aware of his boss’s taste in women, but nothing that would incentivize armed bandits to break into his house and commit multiple felonies over.

“Downstairs. In the basement. Where everything about my past life is stored,” Dylan says.

“Excellent. Shall we?”

“No, not yet,” Dylan insists. “Please. Let my friends go. Let them get dressed, gather their things, and leave this property. I asked you before to let them go. I’m asking you again. You have their phones. You can get whatever you want without them here. I’m sure they’ll promise not to call the cops because if they do, you’d no doubt execute me, right?”

Stephen eyes Dylan’s friends. He can tell they are all tremendously uncomfortable, wondering how this fun evening suddenly came to a crashing halt. “Yeah, that’s what I’d do. But I don’t want to risk it. Whether you like it or not, your friends are now a part of this. They’re in this until the very end. Sorry about that, old pal. That’s the way the cookie crumbles. Let’s get moving. Now.”

“Let’s go. Move it. Lead on,” Thomas demands.

“Okay.” Dylan turns to his friends. “I’m so, so, so sorry about this. I had no idea this would happen. Please forgive me…”

“Hey, boss man. It’s all good. It’s not your fault. It’s their fault. He’s doing this to us, not you. You’re good, my man. You’re good. He’s the one doing this,” Henry reassures his employer. The rest signal their agreement in their own way.

“That’s right. We’re here and we’re not going anywhere,” Peggy declares. “We’re here to protect you, Dylan darling. We all love you. If this motherfucker, or any of these motherfuckers, lay even one goddamn finger on you, there’ll be hell to pay. For sure.”

“Thanks, love.”

“Oh, how charming! The love in this room is palpable,” Thomas says sarcastically. “Let’s fucking move! Downstairs, NOW. All of you. Let’s move it or someone will get a bullet through their skull.” Dylan (reluctantly) leads the way as the group exits the cabaret room. Everyone walks in a single file line to their ultimate destination. Xander and Cortez cannot help but stare at Monique’s perfectly round butt as she walks by. It’s still a shame that she’s practically been on the verge of tears for as long as they’ve been here. Roddy shows no emotion as he decides to be the one at the back of the line. Dylan leads, followed by Stephen, Thomas, Henry, Peggy, Monique, Melanie, Xander, Cortez, and Roddy at the tail. The three guys in the back have holstered their firearms but are prepared to draw them in the event that any of the hostages decide to make a run for it. Chances are nobody will do anything foolish. Especially since all the hostages are without clothing, weapons, or a reason to run.

“You have a lovely home,” Stephen says.

“Go fuck yourself, old buddy,” Dylan responds. This makes Stephen so happy to see Dylan so pissed off, scared, angry, confused, embarrassed, powerless, emasculated, and whatever else emotions he’s feeling at the moment. They say vengeance rarely tastes as delicious as one would hope, however, so far Stephen begs to differ. This is going exactly the way he thought it would. Watching Dylan’s pathetic naked self, full of dread and guilt, is as satisfying as he had fantasized about while sitting in his prison cell.

The group trudges down the spiral staircase at a leisurely pace. Like dominoes, all it takes is for one person to accidentally trip to send everyone crashing down to the ground like ragdolls. Nobody says a word the rest of the way. Dylan is careful not to make any sudden moves or take any sharp turns, out of fear that all it takes is one of Stephen’s men with an itchy trigger finger to cause an unnecessary bloodbath. Once everyone is on the ground floor, Dylan leads the group to the staircase leading downstairs to the wine cellar (where he, Monique, and Melanie were earlier this evening before dinner, which seems like centuries ago), home gym, a meditation room (which Dylan rarely uses), and a storage room. This is where they are eventually going. It’s here where Dylan has allowed many things to collect dust over the years. It’s also where he keeps his walk-in safe. Very few people are aware that he has this. Lawrence does. A few former Perseus Analytics executives also know. So does a friend who lives in London. Henry doesn’t, nor does Joey the landscaper. It is in this room where Dylan’s memories from the good old days are stored, along with a few unexpected surprises.

“That’s one impressive collection of wine,” Stephen observes casually.

“It is,” Melanie chimes in, feeling more confident to stand up to her captors. “Dylan appreciates the finer things in life. He has no time for low-brow trash.”

Stephen stops mid-stride. He turns around to look at Melanie. Even compared to his hired goons, Melanie’s size is remarkable to see up-close. She truly is a large muscular woman who could snap his neck in half if she had to. No doubt she wants to at this moment. “Ouch. That hurts. You should hold your tongue, young man.”

Melanie’s eyes widen. Nothing makes her angrier than to hear a man sarcastically refer to her as a man. She didn’t mind when that little boy at the airport didn’t know whether she was a boy or a girl, but he’s a kid who doesn’t know any better. This prick is a full-grown adult. She considers making a comeback but refrains after Peggy gently grabs her hand to warn her to cool it. Melanie’s better nature comes out, telling her to remain quiet.

His time will come, she thinks to herself.

“We’re almost there,” Dylan says, trying to calm everyone down. He’s the last person who wants to see anybody get hurt this evening. That would live on his conscience until the day he dies.

The large home gym takes up the majority of the basement’s floor layout. Once you get to the bottom of the stairs, you see a long hallway that sort of looks something out of a horror film if all the lights are turned off. When Dylan, Melanie, and Monique went downstairs earlier to fetch a couple bottles of wine and spirits, they kept the lights on, almost as if they intuitively knew they’d soon return down here. The gym is on the left side. On the right is a shower/changing room, a meditation room, a few emergency guest bedrooms (with futons instead of actual furnished beds), and finally, a spacious storage room. Stephen sees that the thick glass door has no handle. Before he turns to Thomas to ask him to break through it, Dylan sticks his thumb onto a small scanner pad. It makes a small “beep” noise, which unlocks the door. This makes Stephen smile. Thomas is also amused at this. Henry, who hasn’t been down in the basement in a while, cannot believe there’s a secret room in this house that’s secured behind a thumbprint scanner. How long has this been installed? What could Dylan possibly be hiding that’s so important?

“Here we are,” Dylan says. “The last time I cleaned this place up was last summer. So that was almost a whole year ago. Forgive the mess.”

“Not to worry. I don’t give a shit about how your interior decorating preferences,” Stephen responds. “No offense.”

The large room (though not as large as the gym) is filled with glass shelves showcasing the various plaques, awards, honorary degrees, and trophies Dylan has earned throughout the years. Every institution, from Harvard University to the Sierra Club to the U.S. Department of Defense to the Seattle Seahawks, have at some point in time given him an award. It’s basically all symbolic. There’s also some spare furniture, a few paintings that Dylan couldn’t find wall space for, a small bookshelf full of old college textbooks, Christmas decorations, and clothing that he’s been too lazy to donate to charity. It’s not quite an obstacle course to get around it all, but one must be careful about where one steps. Dylan switches on a light that illuminates all the treasure (and worthless junk, which makes for an interesting juxtaposition) the room has to offer. Finally, Stephen sees clearly a modest metallic door in the far corner of the room, surrounded by a sturdy dark gray frame. The wall itself looks like it could withstand a tank shell blast from point-blank range. This is the “Holy Grail” Stephen Callahan has been seeking all these years, right here in front of him. Right within his grasp.

“At long last, here we are. Look at it, I’m impressed. It looks like a bank vault,” Stephen observes. Indeed, he is correct. There’s a long vertical steel handle on the left side, a round black security camera hanging over the top with an ominous red light glowing at all times, and a white panel right next to the handle that’s connected to the wall. Thomas takes a closer inspection and sighs when he sees the white panel contains two keyholes.

“Fuck. Damn it. This shit isn’t going to be the walk in the park that I hoped it would be,” Thomas complains. “It can only be opened by two keys. I’m assuming he has one of them, right?” The safecracker turns to Dylan. Everyone also looks at him. For the first time since these thieves crashed his fun little party, Dylan Tanaka cracks a genuine smile.

“I do. In my bedroom. But you’re wasting your time. You’re right. It takes two keys to open it. I have one upstairs. The other, however, is in Europe. A friend of mine who shall remain nameless has it in their possession. They live in London, in case you care. I’m assuming you don’t have a plane scheduled to land in Heathrow anytime soon?” Dylan gives Stephen a sassy look, believing this stumbling block will derail his carefully laid out plans. “What are you going to do now?”

“You’re right, we don’t have any contacts heading to Europe or based in Europe. At least, not yet. We may get there, eventually.” Stephen rubs his temples, realizing now that he’s in for a long night. “I get it. We knew this would be a possibility. It’s impossible for you to open the safe by yourself. You need a second person, or more specifically, a second key, to open it. I can threaten you, your friends, or even burn down your entire fucking house, but that wouldn’t make any difference. At all.”

“That’s correct, Stephen boy,” Dylan taunts him. “Kill me. Shoot me right in the chest. It won’t get you any closer to accessing the contents of this safe. It’s a fail-safe system, no pun intended. I can’t open it even if I wanted to. You can clearly see it for yourself. It can only be opened if my friend hops on a jet, flies across the Atlantic Ocean, gets their ass down here, and provides us with the second key. Do you want to know where my key is?”

“Yes.”

“Fourth floor. You’ll find it on the bedside table, bottom drawer. Underneath an old high school yearbook.”

Thomas turns to Roddy and Xander. “Go get it. Now.” The two men promptly leave to fetch it. Cortez takes a few steps back so he can have all five hostages in his sightline. His hand hovers over his firearm but he does not remove it. Melanie just realizes that she and Dylan made love near this key that apparently can help unlock this safe that she (like Henry) never knew existed. This surreal feeling brings goosebumps down her massive body. Monique can feel her shivering.

“Sit down, all of you.” Stephen eyes a long couch sitting along the wall. Melanie, Peggy, Monique, and Henry sit down. Dylan defiantly remains standing. Even though it’s summer, all five nude hostages suddenly start to feel chilly. Basements are supposed to be chilly, Henry reminds himself. That’s why they always put the wine cellars down here. It makes sense.

“I want to make sure he’s not lying. We’ll try opening the safe with just one key,” Stephen thinks aloud. “If it doesn’t work, as I expect it wouldn’t, then we’ll go with Plan B. Can you get that ready, please?”

“Sure thing.” Thomas squats down, unzips his duffle bag, and takes out a series of gadgets and devices. The four hostages sitting on the couch lean over to watch, curious what equipment a professional thief has at his disposal. Dylan’s eyes remain locked on Stephen, the inner rage against this man boiling over to an almost unbearable temperature. He never thought he’d ever see his former deputy again. And if he did, it certainly wouldn’t have been under these circumstances. Dylan’s mind is spinning a million miles per second. This is making an escape plan almost impossible to come up with. For now, he’s just going to have to accept that he and his four beloved friends are stuck being hostages. It stinks, but it is what it is. Any resistance will certainly be met with punishment.

“While we wait for your key to be retrieved, do you want to tell your friends why I’m here and why this safe is so fucking important?” Stephen gives his former boss a self-satisfied smile, knowing he’s just getting deeper and deeper under Dylan’s skin. “I’m sure they’re eagerly waiting for an explanation of why they’re down here, naked, afraid, and at the mercy of a bunch of thugs like us.”

Dylan turns toward his friends, as he’s lost all interest in looking at Stephen’s face. His voice is calm but authoritative. He knows the truth must be revealed in order to prevent a massacre from happening. All four of his friends watch him intently. Dylan takes a deep breath and starts speaking.

“Right before I resigned from my position as Chief Executive Officer of Perseus Analytics, a company I love, founded, and worked tirelessly to grow, I took with me a bunch of documents outlining an ambitious project we were in talks to do for the U.S. government. We were developing a prototype for a Battlefield Smart Armor Tech suit. It’s basically a wearable suit of armor that incorporated the most advanced artificial intelligence capabilities available to us. It would have been a game-changer in the world of modern warfare,” he says.

“Stephen and I worked tirelessly behind the scenes to get this program up and running. Pilotless drones could kill people high above the sky, but they’re prone to lead to civilian casualties,” Dylan continues. “We all know what led to my downfall. So the military wanted my help in developing armor that could protect our troops from bullets, bombs, IEDs, biological and chemical agents, and any other conventional weapons they encounter on the battlefield. No technology in the world could replace the necessity of boots on the ground. No technology can replace human agility.”

“And,” Stephen interjects. “We were sooooooooo close to getting something substantial to the Department of Defense until, well, until the wheels came off the bus. And just as Perseus Analytics fell like the Roman Empire being sacked by the Visigoths, Dylan here made sure this new cutting-edge technology wouldn’t fall into the wrong hands. Or anybody’s hands, for that matter. Isn’t that right?”

“Yes, you are correct,” Dylan admits. His gaze remains fixated on the floor, utterly embarrassed to look at his friends in the eye. “The documents I took with me outlined everything we were doing. Sketches, 3D models, code, concept reports, documentation, transcripts of planning meetings, you name it. I took papers, DVDs, thumb drives, blueprints, photographs, even one of Stephen’s personal diaries. I took it all. I left behind only meaningless things that were meant to give the DOD the impression that this program was still in its infancy. In reality, we were much deeper into the project than we led on.”

“We were two years away from an earth-shattering breakthrough that could revolutionize the future of warfare for good,” Stephen beams. “Unfortunately, this progress has stalled. For three years it’s been stonewalled, forgotten, locked away in this secret hidden vault that you see before you. Dylan holds the intel that could give any nation the military might they need to become unquestioned superpowers. The U.S., China, the European Union, the Russians, Saudis, Iranians, you name it. However, it’s not just this particular technology that could change world history forever. It’s the doors that this tech would open. The future is limitless. This would only be the beginning.”

Stephen takes a deep breath, proud of the future that will be in the palm of his hands. Thomas and Cortez look at each other, this being the first time they’ve ever heard in full detail what it is they are intending to steal. They knew they were snatching something important, but they had no idea it was this important. Smart tech that could transform ordinary human beings into super soldiers? This is definitely a game-changer if put into the proper hands. Military vehicles, troops, and commanders equipped with state-of-the-art smart technology? That would be a force to be reckoned with. That type of power is unprecedented.

“Damn. That sounds like some scary ass shit,” Peggy breaks the room’s silence. This elicits a faint snicker from Thomas. Melanie, who is hearing this for the first time, is in shock. She had no idea Dylan was this close to inventing tech that could lead to world domination. While that’s probably an over-exaggeration, to hear it directly from both Dylan and his former partner speaks volumes. She knew Dylan was involved in things that he’d rather not talk about, but this is a whole other ballgame. This is about human lives on a massive scale. This could tip the scale of geopolitical game theory. This is about what a hypothetical World War III would look like. Melanie hangs her head low, dreading the fact she may have to reconsider her entire view of a man she loves.

“This is as scary as it gets,” Stephen says to Peggy. “Dylan here has many skeletons in the closet. Before tonight, I had no idea he was into, um, women like you. I thought he was normal. Amanda McDermott isn’t a bodybuilder, is she? She’s about as skinny as it gets, if I recall.” Dylan looks up at him, miffed that he’s referencing his ex-girlfriend and current CEO of The McDermott Corporation, the company that “merged” with Perseus Analytics during the aftermath of the federal investigation. Amanda isn’t strong physically but she’s as mentally strong as any human being on planet Earth. Dylan resents Stephen mentioning her name.

“No, Amanda isn’t like these women you see before you,” Dylan mutters under his breath. He gives a loving look at Melanie, Monique, and Peggy, regretting even more the fact that they had to be dragged into this personal vendetta. He also sees Henry, his buddy and loyal chef, sitting quietly on the edge of the couch, processing everything that he’s just heard. All four of his friends appear to be thinking long and hard about their relationship with Dylan and whether or not they want to continue being his friend once this nightmare comes to an end. Assuming they all make it out alive, that is. “Well, I can assure you that if you want to steal the contents of this safe, you’re going to need one hell of a powerful drill. You need two keys to open it. The other one is on another continent, I promise you. You can strip this house down to its last floorboard. You’ll never find the second key here.”

“Oh, I believe you, but I must do my due diligence,” Stephen says. “You understand, don’t you? Never leave any stone unturned.”

“That’s right. Why, if you don’t mind me asking, do you believe me? I could be lying. The second key could actually be somewhere in this house,” Dylan inquires.

“It could be, but I doubt it,” Stephen begins. “I know you pretty well. Better than you think. We go way back, after all. But if there’s one thing I know about you, it’s that you believe in accountability. Checks and balances. That sort of thing. Which means, there’s no way you’d allow anyone to singlehandedly access this safe’s contents. Even you. You know how dangerous that would be.”

“Very good, old buddy. You do indeed know me pretty well.”

“That, I do. Plus, I have no patience for tearing this house down brick by brick. It would be easier, and more cost-effective, to just break in the old-fashioned way. I trust my man to do just that. It shouldn’t be too difficult, right Dylan?”

Before Dylan can respond, two of Stephen’s goons return with a long silver key that was (until tonight) safely stored in his bedroom. The key looks unremarkable, except for the length and the inordinate number of grooves on it. If you look at it from afar, it’s just like any other key that would lock and unlock a liquor cabinet or backyard fence. But upon closer inspection, one could clearly see that it’s designed to be “uncopiable,” meaning one could not simply go to a Home Depot and get it replicated. Roddy hands the silver key to Thomas. The safecracker gives his boss a quick look. Stephen nods his head. Thomas walks up to the key panel, inserts the key into the right slot, and turns it. He then attempts to open the door, but it won’t budge. He then inserts the key into the left slot and turns it. Once again, the door doesn’t open. He faces his boss and shakes his head in defeat. They are indeed in for a long night.

“Sorry, boss. He wasn’t lying. The key works, but we need two of them to open this sucker. I should get to work right now if we want to open this thing up before morning.” Thomas leans over to pick up a high-powered drill and a few spare Titanium drill bits. Everyone watches with interest as Thomas sets up his industrial drill meant to cut through steel beams. He inserts a fully charged battery into the bottom, locks it in place, and inspects the safety vault’s door to look for a logical place to start drilling.

“Well, well, well. It looks like we’re going to be here a bit longer than we had anticipated,” Stephen says, no hint of disappointment found in his voice. “Will it be loud?”

“Oh yeah, very fucking loud. It’s going to sound like a construction site in here really soon,” Thomas warns. “I recommend that everyone leave if they don’t want their eardrums blown out.” Taking his own advice, Thomas puts around his neck a pair of yellow over-the-head earmuffs. Once he finds the right place to begin drilling, he fully intends to wear them properly so he doesn’t go deaf.

“Hm. In that case, let’s get out of here and shut the door behind us. You don’t need us, do you?”

“No, sir. I can do this all by myself. I should have an estimate of how long it’ll take once I start seeing what I’ve got to work with,” Thomas promises. “Honestly, it’s impossible to tell at this juncture. I need to begin. Like, now.”

“Sounds good. Let’s get out of here and let Mr. Sellars get to work,” Stephen says. “Let’s move to that home gym I saw while coming down here. I’m sure you’ll all feel right at home there, am I right ladies?” The three women refuse to give Stephen Callahan any acknowledgment whatsoever. Henry shows no emotion. Dylan also remains silent. This pleases him. He doubts any of them will put up a fight. “Let’s move it.”

“Up, sugar tits,” Xander says to Peggy, who then gives him a dirty look while standing up. Dylan leads the way, followed by Stephen, Henry, Melanie, Peggy, Monique, and Xander, with Cortez at the rear. Dylan sees a few old fleece blankets sitting on a pile of clothes and bedding in the corner of the room. He stops and turns around to face Stephen.

“If we’re going to be down here for an extended period of time, the five of us are probably going to get cold. Do you see those blankets over there?”

Stephen glances over at the corner and sees the blankets. “Yes, I do.”

“Can we bring a few of them with us so we don’t catch a cold? And to cover our modesty, if that means anything to you.” Stephen smiles, looking down at Dylan’s penis and over at the three naked ladies and naked black man. The chilly basement may be unflattering to Dylan Tanaka, but it certainly hasn’t affected his chef one bit, Stephen observes. Shrinkage is all relative, after all. And we all know who hit the genetic jackpot.

“Yeah, we can do that. Cortez, grab a few blankets and take them with us, please.”

“Sure thing, boss,” Cortez acknowledges. He goes over to the pile of blankets and picks out a few at random. He coughs when a cloud of dust poofs in the air. After wiping the dust away with his hand, Cortez chooses five large fleece blankets, rolls them up, and takes the bundle with him. One by one, they file out of the room, leaving Thomas all alone to begin drilling through the vault’s door. By now, he’s put on a pair of heat-resistant work gloves, a welding mask, and a protective jacket (in addition to his earmuffs). Stephen snickers at how ridiculous he looks, but he realizes Thomas isn’t trying to win a fashion contest. He’s a professional thief on the job, doing what he does best, facing a monumental task. He’s entitled to look however he needs to look.

As quiet as church mice, the group silently walks down the long hallway. You can hear a pin drop, as the old cliché goes. The mortuary-like atmosphere is not lost on anyone. The five hostages don’t feel like dead bodies yet, but they have no illusions that they could very well be living their final moments on Earth. Their next destination could be an actual morgue. This is why none of them have any intentions of acting out or crossing their captors in any way. It may not just be them who receives a bullet through their skull. It could be others, too. This gives them a sense of responsibility and incentive to not act irrationally.

Once they enter the home gym, Stephen spots a few metal folding chairs and a long wooden bench situated on the far right-hand corner. He decides this will be their “home base” for the time being. He leads the group over there, walking past a fruit smoothie bar, several exercise machines, a box full of kettlebells and elastic cables, and a stack of clean white towels. He points to everyone to sit on the wooden bench. All five hostages sit down without saying a word and immediately grimace at the thought of wood splinters poking their naked bottoms. Cortez hands out a blanket to everyone. Dylan just holds his while the four others wrap them around their naked bodies. Eventually, Dylan follows suit and puts a red and green Christmas-themed blanket around his torso.

“Damn, this room is also impressive as fuck,” Stephen marvels. “You could open this place to the general public, not just the two girls who come here on a weekly basis.”

“How…how do you know about that?” Dylan asks. Only three people use this gym on a regular basis: Dylan Tanaka, Lindsay Wells, and Laura Kang. Their presence is kept under-the-radar for obvious reasons, a mutually agreed-upon arrangement that benefits all parties involved. Dylan is horrified that Stephen would know this fact about him and his deal with those two women.

“We’ve done reconnaissance work for the past several weeks, Dylan boy. Do you honestly think we just showed up out of thin air without scoping out the place first? Come on! Gives us more credit than that,” Stephen replies. Dylan finally realizes that’s where the mysterious marijuana smell came from earlier today. It wasn’t Joey lighting up on the job. It was one of these goons snooping around his property.

“Did you know we were going to be here tonight?” Melanie asks. It suddenly dawns on her that Stephen Callahan knows a lot about Dylan’s normal routine, but not necessarily his plans for this weekend. Were they a monkey wrench thrown into the engine? Are they a wild card element he wasn’t expecting?

“To tell you the truth, no. I did not expect you to all be here. I knew Dylan’s landscaper would be here this morning and that he’d leave before lunch. I figured your butler would be gone before eight o’clock and your cook shortly before that. I fully expected you’d be all alone, old sport. I guess I was wrong.” By now, Roddy is standing at Stephen’s side while Cortez and Xander are leaning against the wall. Stephen pulls up a folding chair and sits to face his hostages at their level. “That’s okay. Luckily, none of you are any threat to us. I mean, how dangerous can a naked person be?” He reaches out to stroke Monique’s supple leg. She, once again, squirms at this unwanted touching.

“Don’t touch her like that!” Dylan lashes out. “I mean it. Don’t even think about it. Leave them alone, do you hear me? Don’t you fucking touch her!”

Amused but not angered, Stephen pulls away and leans back in his chair, letting everyone know he doesn’t intend to make anyone feel more uncomfortable than they already are. “Forgive me, my dear. I may be a monster to you, but I am still a man. You are one gorgeous, delicious little cookie. You don’t look like the other two. You clearly keep yourself in shape, but you’re different. Who are you, exactly?”

“Don’t talk to him. You don’t owe him shit!” Peggy warns Monique. “He doesn’t deserve to know anything about you, honey dear.”

“It’s okay sweetie. I can handle myself,” Monique says, breaking her long silence. “In case you must know, I’m an Olympic athlete. A weightlifter. I do the clean and jerk and the snatch. I competed at Rio and tore my UCL while attempting a heavy lift. Maybe you recall that?”

“Oh shit! I remember watching that. Holy fuck, that was you?” Xander interrupts. Everyone looks at him. “Damn, I remember watching you on the floor, crying and shit. Wow. I didn’t recognize you.”

“Uh huh. Well, yeah, that was me.” Monique lifts her right arm and flexes it, showing off her full bicep. “As you can tell, I’m training for next year’s games in Tokyo. I intend to compete and win the gold. If anything happens to me tonight, you can bet the whole world will hear about it. There’d be nowhere for any of you fuckers to run.”

Xander raises an eyebrow. Cortez lets out a whistle. Stephen and Roddy look at each other, thoroughly impressed that the silent black girl who looked like she was on the verge of tears had some spunk in her. Apparently, they had an international celebrity (not just Dylan) as one of their hostages. And Cortez is fully aware of how famous LATINAMUSCLEPRINCESS67 is in the world of online porn. He’s now just discovered her full name but that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of people around the globe know who she is. And none of them know who Melanie Wright is, though it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a woman with a sculpted body like hers probably isn’t completely anonymous. All of a sudden, it dawns on the bandits that they must tread carefully because they aren’t holding hostage a bunch of nameless, faceless nobodies that wouldn’t be missed if they were killed off. Rather, they’re actual somebodies who would garner a lot of attention if they were to meet their untimely demise.

“Unbelievable. So you’re a famous Olympic athlete. I had no idea. I don’t pay attention to sports, so I wouldn’t have known that otherwise,” Stephen confesses. “I guess that means we must treat you with respect, right? I apologize for touching you inappropriately like that. I shouldn’t have done that. I’m sorry.”

“Fuck that. That should be the least of your worries,” Monique scolds. “You’ll pay for this. One day. Mark my words.” Dylan wants to tell her to cool it. He refrains from adding fuel to the fire.

“Oh, that’s quite the threat. I believe you when you say that. We will all get our comeuppance. Some day. Maybe not tonight. But perhaps later. I don’t know.” Stephen sits up in his chair. He takes out his pistol and waves it in the direction of his hostages. This causes all of them to flinch. “Huh. If I were to kill one of you, that would surely make the evening news. Or at the very least, trend on Twitter for a few hours. So I shouldn’t do that if I ever intend to get away with this little heist unscathed. Good to know.”

“Look, let’s just sit here quietly while your guy tries to break into my safe,” Dylan suggests, trying to avoid any bloodshed. “I won’t put up a fight. I promise. You’ve already won. I’ve lost. You’ll leave here with your treasure, go along your merry way, and we’ll remain here suffering from PTSD. Right?” It’s clear Dylan wants to play peacekeeper. He hates Stephen’s guts but doesn’t want any of his friends to die. Dylan’s former friend also senses this attitude.

“Yes, that sounds like a prudent plan. Let’s just sit here, quietly, and not do anything stupid. We have these guns…but trust me. We don’t want to use them. Am I right, guys?” Stephen looks around at his associates.

“Oh yeah. That’s right,” Roddy says.

“Yup.” Xander acknowledges.

“Sure thing. We’re not animals. We just want to get what we came here for and leave as quietly as possible,” Cortez reassures the group of hostages.

“Excellent! So we’re all in agreement. I love it,” Stephen taunts Dylan. He leans back in his folding chair with a self-satisfied grin on his face. After several moments of silence, he turns to Roddy to ask him a question.

“Check on Mr. Sellars to see how much progress he’s made so far.”

“Of course, boss. I’ll be back.” Roddy exits out of the gym and goes to the storage room.

“He can’t get in without me,” Dylan reminds Stephen. “He can’t get in unless he has my thumbprint. Get him to come back.”

“Shit. You’re right. I forgot about that,” Stephen curses. “Go after him and open the door. And don’t do anything funny, or one of your lady friends will get a bullet between their eyes. Or up their pussy.” He points his pistol directly at Melanie’s crotch. She gasps, her heart skipping a beat. Dylan immediately stands up (with his blanket still wrapped around his body) and walks slowly toward the door. He glances at the group before exiting to make sure no harm comes to Miss Wright. He loves her dearly and would hate himself if any harm were to come her way. He’d also tear Stephen limb to limb if he actually shot her (even if it kills him). For his own sake, he’d better not do anything foolish.

“You sick motherfucker,” Melanie tells Stephen once Dylan has left the room. “Put that damn gun away. I’m not going to do anything. I’m not stupid enough to try to escape. Stop pointing that at me!” Now it’s Melanie’s turn to be on the verge of tears. For whatever reason, she feels protective over Dylan, Henry, Peggy, and Monique – as if she’s the mama bear looking out for her cubs. If anybody is to get hurt, it might as well be her…nobody else.

“Don’t worry, my man,” Stephen lowers the gun and puts it back in his holster. “You’re safe. You’re good. All of you. Oh! That reminds me. If you don’t mind me asking, you are a real woman, right?”

Melanie closes her eyes, takes a deep breath, and reopens them to focus on her captor. “Yes. I am a woman. I’m more of a woman than you’ve ever known. You’ve never met anyone who’s more of a woman than me. Just because you’ll never be as strong as me, both literally and figuratively, doesn’t mean you can call me a man. I’m not a man. But if I were, I’d be more of a man than you’d ever be.”

Stephen stands up, takes out his Glock 19, and pistol-whips Melanie directly in the face. She lets out a sharp cry of pain. Henry, Peggy, and Monique jump up in shock. Even Roddy, Xander, and Cortez flinch at this sudden act of brutal violence. Stephen then points the barrel of the gun at the rest of the group and cocks it, warning them that they should remain seated if they want to avoid suffering a similar fate.

“Sit down, all of you. If you say one word, I’ll give you the same treatment.” He looks at Melanie, who’s already developing a dark blue bruise on her left cheek. A few drops of blood run down her jaw where the edge of the pistol sliced her skin. “Sorry my dear, but I hate being insulted like that. I suppose I should also apologize for mistaking you for a man. You are a woman. You talk like one, that’s for sure.”

“I’m glad we cleared the air on that,” Melanie grimaces in pain. “I don’t think Dylan will appreciate that you did that to me.”

“No doubt he’ll get pissy about that,” Stephen says, genuinely regretting his actions. “Let’s just sit here and not say another word until Dylan gets back with news about Mr. Sellar’s progress.” Everyone returns to a seated position. Stephen’s associates remain alert. The tension in the air lingers, even though all involved agree a bit of détente could go a long way.

Several moments pass. It’s the most awkwardly silent atmosphere that anyone in this room has ever experienced before. A few minutes pass until Roddy, Thomas, and Dylan enter through the home gym’s front door. Dylan is still wrapped in his blanket. Thomas is completely covered in his industrial “construction worker” gear. He’s mildly out of breath, acting as if he’s just run a country mile at full speed.

“Hey boss. I’ve made some progress but it’s going to take me, oh, an hour and a half to get the door busted down, I think,” Thomas estimates. “At a minimum, it’s going to take me seventy minutes. Two hours at the most. Good thing I brought extra drill bits because the one I’m currently using is being worn down pretty good. It’ll last about twenty more minutes until it’s reduced to nothing but a useless nub. But don’t worry. I’ll get it open. It’ll take time, but time is on our side. If the butler shows up early, we’ll capture him and bring him into our custody.”

“Thank you for the update. Keep at it. Give me updates every thirty minutes, alright?”

“Yeah, I can do that. I’ll keep you posted.” Thomas turns around and disappears from sight, eagerly wanting to return to his project. Thomas Sellars has broken into many safes in his life, but this one takes the cake. This is the Mt. Everest of safes, as far as he’s concerned. After Thomas leaves Dylan sits back down. Then, he notices the blood dripping from Melanie’s face.

“Wha…what happened?” Dylan caresses her face, careful not to touch the bruise.

“Ask him.” Melanie points to Stephen. Without needing to ask, Dylan boils over with rage.

“You…fucking…piece…of…SHIT!” Before he can stand up to confront him, Stephen and Roddy point their guns right at Dylan’s forehead. Cortez closes his eyes in anticipation of Mr. Tanaka’s brains being blown out, which would leave a graphic bloody mess. He doesn’t like gory horror movies and would hate to experience one in real life.

“Ah, ah, ah! Stay where you are. You don’t want to know what’ll happen to you if you charge at me like that,” Stephen warns his former boss. “Just sit down, shut up, and nothing terrible will happen to any of you. I won’t repeat myself. Got it?”

Dylan closes his eyes, breaths deeply through his nose, and calmly sits back down. He’s not normally a believer in “Zen” or whatever that means (this explains why the meditation room is rarely ever used). But right now, he needs all the positive vibes he can possibly muster. Melanie kisses him on the cheek. Peggy grabs his hand and holds it tightly. Monique grabs Henry’s hand, just so everyone feels connected and supported. Even Stephen decides to relax, sitting down in his chair and letting out a rasping sigh. The other three gunmen put their pistols away, sensing the détente happening before them is for real.

Nobody speaks a word for a long, long time. The silence is much welcomed.

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

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

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

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

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

“I know. I miss you too. Badly.”

“I…I love you.”

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

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

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

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

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

Still, her eyes do not leave his eyes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ohhh, that’s it, yes, right there…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah, probably not.

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

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

“Oh, hello there baby,” Peggy flirts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Have fun, you two.”

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

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

Now it’s on to that Old Fashioned.

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What could possibly go wrong?

***

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

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

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

Wow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ahhhhh!” Melanie gasps.

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

So she wants to make it count.

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

“YAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSS! FUCK YEAHHHHHH!!!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Porn for the Whole Family

Debbie Bramwell showing off her best assets.

Since we are now living in the era of COVID-19 stay-at-home quarantine orders, families are spending more time together than they were before. Well, maybe since the Great Depression, which wiped out the global economy, drained our resources, and was followed by World War II.

So what are families up to these days? Watching lots of Netflix and Disney+, no doubt. The Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are pretty harmless. So is Star Wars. And that Michael Jordan documentary everyone’s been talking about. Or seeing what the latest trends on YouTube, Snapchat, or TikTok happen to be. Or playing too much Fortnite. If you have no idea what those things are, don’t feel bad for feeling old. We all get there eventually.

One thing I can guarantee not too many families are doing is sitting around the computer and watching videos of female bodybuilders.

Yeah, that’s probably not a trend that’s going to catch on, unlike baking your own bread, sewing your own facemasks, or learning dance moves you saw on Instagram. We may not call it by this name, but watching porn isn’t exactly a family-friendly activity.

However, as odd as this may sound, not all porn is explicit, dirty, or socially unacceptable.

Some porn is PG-13 clean. Fun for the whole family.

Huh?

Fans of female bodybuilders know full well two strange and not-so-contradictory things:

      1. Our taste in muscular women is unusual
      2. The way we enjoy muscular women isn’t too kinky

On the first point, it is true that female muscle fetishism isn’t too common. Or more specifically, it’s not an interest that many of us are open to admitting. It’s impossible to say how many people are “into” FBBs in any serious manner, so let’s not try to guess. But it’s probably safe to say it’s a relatively smaller number in relation to the total human population on Earth.

Lindsay Mulinazzi should have been a supermodel.

On the second point, it should be noted that not all FBB fans are built the same. Some people are really into the kinky stuff, such as femdom roleplaying, domination, submission, sadomasochism, and other such activities. Others, on the other hand, simply enjoy the look, feel, and personalities of muscular women. We love watching them flex their enormous biceps rather than fantasize about them pouring hot candle wax on our balls as they give us a blow job while hanging us upside down. There’s nothing wrong with the latter, but it’s inaccurate to say that this represents the whole herd.

FBB fans may be into some kinky stuff, but normally it’s within fairly mainstream boundaries. We want to do things with an FBB that isn’t radically different from what we would normally do with a non-muscular professional dominatrix.

Or, FBB fans love muscular women for perfectly, uh, “vanilla” reasons (for lack of a better term). We love their strength (both physical and emotional), their curves, their ripped muscles, their personalities, and their unique display of femininity. We love them in ways that aren’t particularly unusual or strange once you think about it. It may seem odd at first, but it gets less odd the more you empathize with our passions.

Case in point: Watch this really quick video of Debbie Bramwell. It’s very simple in its setup but unbelievably erotic.

Have you finished watching it yet? Good. Let’s proceed.

This format is common for many FBB videos you’ll encounter on the Internet: A female bodybuilder posing in a hotel room. Usually in very little clothing. Usually with either no music or some pop song from the 1980’s that you’ve already forgotten about. It’s simple, easy, budget-friendly, and devilishly effective.

Maggie Watson at the gym while showing off why she goes to the gym.

All you need is a female bodybuilder, sexy lingerie or swimsuit, a camera, and a private space to record your video. It doesn’t have to be a hotel room. It could be someone’s living room, bedroom, backyard, or public beach. But there’s no need for elaborate set pieces, BDSM paraphernalia, or CGI visual effects. You don’t need special effects to make these ladies super muscular. They’ve accomplished that on their own!

Getting back to this video, this is Debbie at her finest. This is, in the humble opinion of this writer, one of the most erotic videos you’ll ever find on the web. Is it the #1 sexiest video I’ve ever seen? Eh, no. But it’s certainly up there!

In it, Debbie is sitting on a hotel bed wearing white lace lingerie. She’s showing off her muscles for the camera, putting special emphasis on her immaculate arms. Her veiny biceps are a delightful sight to behold. Her dark tanned skin perfectly showcases every curve, vein, and muscle fiber. This is why lighter-skinned bodybuilders need to spray tan their bodies before appearing on a competition stage. Darker skin allows you to see their definition better. Debbie demonstrates here why that’s the case, as if that argument needs to be made. After you catch your breath and wait for your heart rate to return back to normal, you’ll notice a few noteworthy observations:

      1. The video is simple
      2. The video is highly erotic
      3. The video doesn’t contain any graphic nudity or sexual content
      4. The video is on YouTube, not Pornhub

The outfit Debbie is wearing is quite sexy, but it’s not out-of-the-ordinary. Other than her extraordinary large muscles, you could just as likely see this in a magazine ad, shopping mall, fashion catalog, promoted Facebook post, or TV commercial. In other words, the concept of this video isn’t out of the mainstream, even though the specific subject is. We see images of beautiful women in their underwear all the time, unless you live under a rock or on an Amish plantation. The only thing that’s unusual about this video is that the woman in question happens to have large muscles. Other than that, it’s pretty basic. Very vanilla.

But the response it generates from us is – without question – worthy of discussion. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, so I’ll do just that. This video is really, really, really sexy. I mean, unspeakably sexy. Indescribably sexy. Incomprehensibly sexy. Debbie isn’t my favorite FBB of all time (she’s not even in my top 10), but in this short video that’s not even a minute and a half, she quickly reminds me why I fell in love with female bodybuilders in the first place. They made me feel things that very few other things could. I am reminded of back when I was 12 years old and I was first introduced to women like Pamela Anderson, Carmen Electra, Rena Mero (WWF’s Sable, for you kids who didn’t grow up in the 1990’s), Famke Janssen, and Monica Bellucci. As an adolescent boy, these women made my spine tingle, my vision turn hazy, and my, uh, private parts increase in blood flow. As I grew older, I figured those days would eventually fade away, as I become more desensitized to seeing beautiful women.

When you were a kid, do you remember walking past a store like this and wondering why mommy and daddy tried to distract you with promises of buying ice cream?

But then I discovered female bodybuilders at the tender age of 18. So 6 years after turning 12, I started to experience those same pubescent shenanigans all over again. Even today, re-watching this video of Miss Bramwell conjures up those same emotional responses. And I’m in my early 30s!

More so than any other video, I have such an uncontrollable urge to reach into my computer screen and rip off Debbie’s white lacey top. I want to see ALL OF HER. I can’t help it. It MUST happen. It’s a crime for her to wear that small piece of underwear. To cover up her beautiful body with such a meager piece of fabric. The same goes for her panties. WHY MUST SHE COVER UP THOSE PARTS OF HER? If she’s willing to show off 90% of her body, why can’t I see the other 10% of it? The fact she’d tease me like that seems almost cruel. I hope I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Then, eventually the rational part of my brain returns and talks some sense into me. Debbie is under no obligation to give me everything I want. From what I can tell, she keeps things really clean. She doesn’t do full nudity or participate in graphic sexual activities on camera. She keeps things PG-13 (or 12A for my readers in the United Kingdom). This is about as “explicit” as she gets. Yet, that is enough. The adult in me understands that not everyone is comfortable showing off everything. Everyone has their limits. And that is their prerogative.

The same could be said for Cindy Landolt, Theresa Ivancik, or Minna Pajulahti. They do not want to show us everything. Yet, they show us enough. And we should be grateful for that.

Need further examples? Sure you do!

Take a look at this two-minute video featuring Lindsay Mulinazzi. Or this gem from Alina Popa. What do all these videos have in common? You guessed it: They’re both unbelievably sexy and remarkably unexplicit.

Oh Cindy Landolt. How gorgeous are you?

Debbie, Lindsay, and Alina are dreams come true. They make us feel things in our souls that very few other things can. They make our hearts race a little faster and our breathing quicken. They make us want to relieve our built-up tension in, well, intimate ways that require privacy and maybe a little cleanup work afterward. These videos are highly erotic. They elicit physical and emotional responses out of us that more mainstream hardcore porn cannot replicate. This is, by definition, softcore porn. These women are dressed in ways that are perfectly acceptable at any public beach or water park. Open up the pages of Sports Illustrated or Vogue magazine and you’ll see women dressed exactly as they are. No need to purchase a contraband issue of Playboy or Hustler and hide it underneath your mattress. No need to open a private web browser and search through Pornhub. Nah, just do a simple search on YouTube and you can find all three of these gloriously simple videos.

And therein lies the contradiction at play here. When we think of the word “pornographic,” we usually think about hardcore elements like penetrative sex, kinky roleplaying, and graphic nudity. We think about Denise Masino’s 15-minute long videos where the camera lingers up-close near her vagina, giving us a free gynecological exam. We think about Yvette Bova’s 30-minute long videos where she gang bangs multiple guys one after another. We think about Brandi Mae Akers leaving nothing to the imagination. Normally, this is how our society defines “porn.” Explicit. Raunchy. Graphic. Socially unacceptable. Taboo. Forbidden. Guilt-ridden.

But technically speaking, this isn’t always true. “Porn” is defined on Wikipedia as “the portrayal of sexual subject matter for the exclusive purpose of sexual arousal.” That’s it. Any media that stimulates sexual arousal. It doesn’t have to be explicit, though it often is. It can be as hardcore as anything you’ll find on Pornhub or Xhamster, or as nongraphic as anything you’ll find on YouTube. Does graphic nudity occasionally slip through YouTube’s filters and community guidelines? Sure. But you know what I mean.

This is what I mean by FBB porn being appropriate for the whole family. It’s not literally true, but technically true. You may not gather the whole family around the dinner table and watch videos of Debbie Bramwell flexing her biceps for the camera, but you wouldn’t hesitate to take your family out to a shopping mall (back when such institutions were open, of course) and occasionally stroll by a Victoria’s Secret store. Those wall-to-wall advertisements that stretch from the ceiling to the floor are just as explicit as what you’ll see in the three videos I’ve shared. Yet, we don’t necessarily consider those corporate promotional displays as being pornographic.

Moar Alina Popa content, plz.

But in a way, they are. Which, by extension, also means modest videos of FBBs strutting around in their underwear are also pornographic.

However, it’s not just the surface-level content of those videos that make them so erotically charged. It’s the reaction they get from us. Debbie Bramwell isn’t my favorite FBB of all time, but in the moment as I’m watching her flex for the camera in white lace underwear, she might as well be a Muscle Goddess Sent From Heaven. Because she sure seems like one! But this illustrates the fascinating dynamic at play. It’s the ultimate irony. I could watch an hour-long video of generic skinny ladies in their early 20s have group sex with a bunch of generic faceless dudes and get bored really fast. We see boobs bouncing up and down. We see pussies being pounded into submission. We see semen get blasted in their faces. We see lots of explicit stuff that’s without question NSFW. But it’s all so boring. And basic. And uncreative. And sleep-inducing.

Yet, I can watch that video of Debbie (if you do the math, you basically get about 60 seconds worth of Debbie content) with my eyes glued to the screen and hope I don’t suffer cardiac arrest when it’s all over. I’m captivated. My imagination goes into overdrive. I feel the sudden urge to relieve my tension in the privacy of my apartment. The same goes for Lindsay content. And Alina content. And when I scroll through Cindy Landolt’s Instagram pages.

On the surface, it’s appropriate for the whole family. But for a certain number of us, it sends our hormones into thermonuclear warfare. The 90% of her body that Debbie is willing to show off is 10,000 times more erotic than the 100% your typical nameless pornographic actress will display ad nauseam. Maybe 10,000 is an underestimation.

We are frustrated that Debbie won’t show off her goods. We are itching to reach through our computer screens, tear off her underwear, and toss it into the garbage can where it belongs. We crave to see Debbie in her full glory. Yet, we don’t need to. Debbie has generously shown us everything we need to see. We are not entitled to more. We should be thankful for the content we already have at our fingertips.

Thus, this is the perplexing predicament we find ourselves in. What really sets us off is, oddly enough, the benign. What really turns us on are women who possess a physique that only the 1% of the 1% of the 1% can say they’ve attained. Debbie, Lindsay, and Alina are in rare company. They are unicorns. They are the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Because of this, it doesn’t take much for them to make us go mad. We become crazy, deranged, and uncontrollably irrational at the simplest things.

A beautiful woman in her underwear.

A beautiful woman in a bikini.

A beautiful woman working out at the gym.

A beautiful woman walking down the street.

It’s all so uncomplicated. Yet so majestic. The whole family can see things like it on an everyday basis, but not everyone will appreciate it as much. Not everyone agrees that female bodybuilders are gorgeous creatures who deserve respect. Not everyone is in that camp.

But we are. And that’s a beautiful thing.

The Perfectly Normal Female Bodybuilder

There’s nothing normal about Margie Martin.

Fans of female bodybuilders often describe them in the most robust and hyperbolic terms: Angels. Goddesses. Queens. Alpha females. Dominant. Powerful. Stronger sex. And so on.

While this reaction is completely understandable, it obfuscates a larger truth that, at first, may seem like an insult but is anything but: Female bodybuilders are normal people.

Wait, what?

Yes, this is true. The strong muscular ladies we love are just like you and I. Just like Hollywood celebrities who occasionally suffer through bad hair days, messy divorces, professional setbacks, and cabin fever from being quarantined indoors (although it must be nice to live in a luxurious mansion during these difficult times), at the end of the day they’re just like us. Sort of. The same is true for female bodybuilders, even if it doesn’t always seem like it.

Female bodybuilders carry an almost mythical social status to their fans. We describe them in divine ethereal terms because they do seem nearly God-like. Or sent by the gods. Or a physical manifestation of God. Or a literal god. We treat them – even though we theoretically know they’re simply human beings who’ve achieved something marvelous – like deities because bombastic terms are the only terms that seem appropriate. It feels insulting to frame them as being beautiful women with big muscles. Our descriptions of them must go the extra mile because not only do they deserve it (and they do), to not do so would seem like a gross mischaracterization.

Yet, as much overhyped praise we may shower upon them, it is valuable to remember that FBBs are simply normal human beings who are no different than the rest of us. This is important not just for ethical reasons (there is no excuse for abusing or harassing a female bodybuilder you have a celebrity crush on) but for practical reasons as well. Female bodybuilders were not born that way. They did not purchase their muscles from a grocery store or online boutique. They earned their muscles through hard work, sacrifice, grinding away day after day, and making life choices that most of us would reject in a heartbeat.

Most of us could live like a bodybuilder for a couple of weeks. But very few of us could last for several years. Or decades.

Aleesha Young didn’t get to be this way by sitting on the couch eating Oreos.

This is why for me, I do not find female muscle growth fiction (FMG) very appealing. I understand why certain people love that sort of content – both as consumers and creators – but that’s not my jam. This is no disrespect to anyone who does love FMG art, just an expression of a personal opinion. I’m not into FMG because part of the reason why I love FBBs is specifically because of the hard work and sacrifices they must endure in order to achieve their coveted physiques. The lifestyle of a professional (or dedicated amateur) bodybuilder isn’t easy. One does not become that massive by accident, happenstance, or through shortcuts (no, steroids does not automatically make you that large). It requires focus, determination, intentionality, and making difficult decisions that could have lasting repercussions.

One of the reasons I love female bodybuilders is because they “earn their beauty.” Some FBBs – and I will respectfully withhold naming any names – are not born with natural traditional beauty. But don’t worry! They more than make up for it by transforming their bodies into the statuesque figures of muscle goddesses. A woman (or man, for that matter) who isn’t blessed with genetic beauty can become an Irresistible Muscle Queen through hard work, blood, sweat, tears, and the belief that human limitations are subjective. They “earn their beauty” in the same way we earn a paycheck at work. Nobody not named Andrew Yang wants to give us money for doing nothing, so we must earn it. Likewise, female bodybuilders earn the adoration of fans like us because they too have earned it.

FBBs are perfectly normal because that is how they started out in life. “Normal” is the default, not an insult. We are all normal to a certain extent. Whether or not we transcend that normalcy is entirely dependent upon what choices we make in life. It should be obvious that every female bodybuilder has made a series of choices that make them abnormal in the eyes of society. And for the record, “abnormal” isn’t an insult, but rather a descriptor.

I love FBBs not because they are more than human, but because they are perfectly human. They are not goddesses or angels. They are regular flesh-and-blood human beings who live by the same laws of physics, science, and biology as the rest of us. They haven’t “cheated” science through divine means. Synthetic steroids and human growth hormones may seem like cheating from a competitive perspective, but it’s still science. Like I said before, steroids are not a magic potion. They’re not an elixir conjured up by a coven of witches hiding in a mountainous cave. To believe that is to misunderstand what steroids actually are.

A gorgeous shot of the beautiful Theresa Ivancik.

Setting aside the steroid debate for a moment, FBBs are especially beautiful because they have chosen a path that is scientifically feasible, but emotionally and physically difficult. It’s not a mystery how Rene Campbell became as massive as she is. We all know how she did it. In fact, thanks to social media many bodybuilders (both male and female) are remarkably transparent about their daily routine, diet, training regimen, and supplementation choices. The instruction manual has been laid out for us. But not everyone is willing to roll up their sleeves and assemble the Ikea kitchen cabinet themselves.

And unlike climbing a mountain, planting a flag, and taking a selfie to prove that you did it, once you become super muscular, you must continue to work hard day-in and day-out to maintain your physique. Rene’s muscles will shrink if she stops lifting, eating right, and supplementing regularly. So in order for her to remain in top shape, she must continuously live the bodybuilder lifestyle as long as she wants to look the way she looks. But once you’ve climbed the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, you can brag about that accomplishment for the rest of your life. Nothing can take that away from you. It’s yours forever.

But a muscular physique does not last forever. It would be like climbing a mountain that never ends. Or hiking up a trail conceived by M.C. Escher – just when you think you’ve reached the top, you realize you’re still at the bottom. Which means the only way you can go is forward without risking falling backward.

Maybe this is why I always preferred the Indiana Jones, Die Hard, and Mission: Impossible movies over anything Marvel has produced over the past several years. There’s something fun about seeing a “normal” person (in Hollywood terms, I’m using that word loosely) rise up to the circumstances and defeat the forces of evil using nothing but his sheer willpower, intelligence, cunning, improvisational skills, and luck. Watching superheroes like Wonder Woman, Superman, The Incredible Hulk, and Thor smash bad guys into a pulp is fun enough, but it gets dull after the first five minutes. There’s something about having a superpower that makes the action less exciting.

Tina Nguyen rocking the yellow dress.

Likewise, female bodybuilders don’t have superpowers. They weren’t given large muscle mass by some magic spell, scientific experiment, or divine intervention. On the contrary, nobody gave it to them. They had to earn it. Bit by bit. Day by day. Little by little.

“The Perfectly Normal Female Bodybuilder” is, in fact, the highest compliment I can give someone. It acknowledges reality and expresses how impressive the existence of an FBB really is – and why we all must respect their accomplishments. She is not a freak. She is not a genetic outlier. She is not special. Rather, she is perfectly normal…and has chosen to become abnormal through readily available means and methods.

This should be a valuable reminder why we must be especially thankful to female bodybuilders (as if we really needed another reason!). We are not entitled to their existence. We do not deserve them. We do not have them because we asked nicely. FBBs exist because they choose to exist. You or I had nothing to do with it. FBBs look the way they look because they want to look that way. The rest of us are along for the ride. We are a passive audience, not an active participant. Without us, FBBs could still exist. To believe otherwise is to demonstrate a horrid lack of humility.

We should be thankful for FBBs because they have the option to “undo” their accomplishments and deprive us of their beautiful bodies. When a muscular woman decides to “retire” and give up the lifestyle, it’s understandable why many of us greet this news with the feelings of melancholy. It feels tragic because it feels like a death. Her muscles will, over time, slowly “die” and disintegrate into nothingness. The human being still lives on, but her muscles have retreated into the afterlife. However, we should also be thankful for the fact that there are hundreds of more women who will gladly take her place. So the supply chain isn’t broken. But that doesn’t mean we can’t “mourn” every loss when it comes to us.

Just as FBBs can return to “normal” after a year or two of not training and eating a high protein diet, “normal” women can become as statuesque as Cindy Landolt or Aleesha Young if they put their minds to it and do what it takes to achieve that look. “Normal” is a two-way street. Whether you’re leaning into the FBB lifestyle or taking a step back, nothing about you changes. You’re still the same mortal human being you were either way. Your outer shell can morph in a variety of ways. This doesn’t affect your inner self.

Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia looks to be feeling lucky tonight.

But if we’re being honest for a moment, that’s really what this is all about. Who you are – or can become – on the inside. What really defines us is who we are as people, not how we look or appear. Muscles come and go. Your body is just one part of your identity (albeit an important part, no doubt). The other part – arguably the most important part – is how you treat people, your surroundings, and your legacy.

Inner growth. Emotional growth. Intellectual growth. Developing into a better human being who can make a real impact in people’s lives. Isn’t that the essence of living on planet Earth for the short finite amount of time we have here? Shouldn’t we all strive to leave our planet in better shape than when we arrived on it? To say during our lifetime that we truly made a difference? Not all of us have an epic legacy that future generations will remember. Some of us will be remembered by millions, others will be remembered by a few hundred. But every one of us can control what we do in the here and now.

Nobody said it would be easy. Life throws curveballs at us all the damn time. We may occasionally swing and miss, but at least we’ll go down swinging. Female bodybuilders are teaching us this lesson: you cannot hit a homerun without swinging your bat. Staying still will achieve nothing. But this choice isn’t just reserved for an elite few. Rather, this is a choice any one of us can make.

Any one of us. No matter how “normal” you think you are.

COVID-19 and the Socially Distant Female Bodybuilder

Who wouldn’t want to be quarantined with Cindy Phillips?

As of this writing, the world is given the unexpected and ultimately thankless task of having to deal with the outbreak of COVID-19, a particularly nasty strain of the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China. We do not yet know how long this international crisis will last or what the ultimate cost will be in terms of human life, economic health, and social structures. What we do know is that lawmakers are issuing orders for citizens to practice “Social Distancing,” which basically means staying at least six feet away from people and living life as a government-imposed hermit.

COVID-19 knows no national borders, does not respect cultural norms, and can spread like wildfire if it’s not properly contained. This is why these drastic measures – which also include shutting down certain businesses, laying off employees who work at those businesses, and encouraging those who can still work to work remotely – are deemed necessary by our elected (and non-elected, depending on where you live) leaders.

Quite bothersome, this inconsiderate variation of the coronavirus happens to be!

“Social distancing” is quite the academic term for staying at home and binge-watching Netflix all day (even if you’re supposed to be “working” away from the office). Yet, this has become a commonly used colloquial expression that will no doubt show up on the list of “Word of the Year” when 2020 is all said and done. Assuming we all make it that far, of course. Oof.

For fans of female bodybuilders, these trying times add an additional level of turmoil. Due to travel restrictions, muscle worship and fantasy wrestling sessions are on hold indefinitely. Female bodybuilders and wrestlers aren’t able to travel from city to city…and many would-be customers aren’t allowed to leave the house unless they’re healthcare workers, heading to the grocery store, or going for a jog around the neighborhood. Like the restaurant business and other service industries, the Female Muscle Economy is going to experience a major financial recession in the coming weeks. Clearly, this is a no-win situation for everyone involved.

Yet, one cannot help but notice a striking similarity between feeling distant from co-workers, family members, and neighbors and actually being geographically distant from female bodybuilders. Unless you live in Southern California, parts of Brazil, or are lucky enough to happen to know a few FBBs personally, most of us are (unfortunately) not within close proximity to the muscular ladies we adore. We’re “socially distant” from them by default, not by choice. This is considerably frustrating for those of us who love muscular women, since our tastes for the finer things in life are not easily satiated.

Do female bodybuilders and fantasy wrestlers travel across the country to meet up with clients? Well, yes (in normal times, obviously). If you live in a big enough city, can you purchase a ticket to a bodybuilding competition? Once again, yes, this is an option. So our access to muscular women isn’t nonexistent, but they aren’t nearly as common as, say, the cute girl you meet at the bar drinking alone (or at least you think she’s alone). From what we can tell, there isn’t a designated watering hole where FBBs frequent in mass quantities. So the interactions you do have with a small number of FBBs will be few and far between by default.

It would be hard to stay indoors if Linda Steele did photoshoots like this everyday.

This brings into focus the observation that female muscle fandom can be so frustrating at times because of how distant we are from our beloved ladies. Female bodybuilding is not mainstream. Female bodybuilders are not mainstream. They aren’t celebrities in the traditional sense of the word. Perhaps they are within the microscopic world that we inhabit together (including the readers of this very blog), but not outside of it. Our frustration isn’t major, but it’s ever present.

FBBs can feel like a rainbow-colored unicorn at times. Or buried treasure on a deserted island. Or a supernova. Or galaxies outside the Milky Way. Or Bigfoot. They don’t feel real in a practical sense. We know intellectually that muscular women exist in this world, but we have to proactively go searching for them in order to observe them. Theoretical quantum physics tells us that multiple parallel universes may exist. But no human being has been able to witness one outside of our own. That doesn’t mean the multiverse doesn’t exist, of course. It just means we haven’t been able to see it with our own eyes. Likewise, we know female bodybuilders exist because we have the Internet, old muscle magazines collecting dust in our attics, and Instagram feeds to scroll through. But can we simply walk our dog through a public park and casually see a few FBBs jogging alongside us? No. No, we cannot.

The Socially Distant Female Bodybuilder is the default in our lives. They are beautiful creatures who might as well exist in mythology. We should be reading about them in medieval literature classes or watching them in National Geographic documentaries. Before COVID-19 started disrupting our lives, you could easily go to the grocery store, gym, or nightclub and see lots of young women who look just as beautiful as Ariana Grande or Taylor Swift. Heck, I’m pretty sure I went to high school with at least a dozen girls who looked like Billie Eilish. So because of that, mainstream celebrities don’t feel as “mythological” because we can observe in our everyday lives people who (for the most part) resemble them. Their “normal” counterparts are a dime a dozen.

But muscular women like Amber Deluca or Theresa Ivancik? Yeah, they are not a dime a dozen. One does not simply (walk into Mordor?) go to a trendy sports bar and see a world-class female bodybuilder hanging out with her buddies eating chicken wings and nursing a beer while watching to see if her March Madness (may you R.I.P. in 2020) bracket gets busted. And if you do happen to stumble across that sort of scene, good for you. But that is not the norm for the majority of us. And because this is not normal, it’s easy to think of FBBs as being closer to unicorns than a celebrity sighting in Malibu.

Here’s a personal anecdote: I haven’t met with too many loyal readers in real life, but one time I did several years ago. He’s from a different country but was in town to visit relatives. He emailed me a few weeks before and asked if I wanted to grab coffee with him. I enthusiastically agreed. It’s not too often that you can have a candid discussion about female muscle fandom with someone who truly “gets” where you’re coming from! After work I drove 30 minutes to where his in-laws live. We met at a Starbucks located in a strip mall and talked for more than an hour. We discussed our mutual love for muscular women, our experiences participating in muscle worship sessions, and who some of our favorite ladies are. What a refreshing experience!

Nothing like getting your fix of Maggie Watson.

However, there was one thing he said that has always stuck in my mind. He said the first time he ever met an FBB for a session was a jarring experience. Yeah, I thought to myself, it is! He said he felt slightly disappointed that she wasn’t super tall. I thought that was a strange observation. Most women aren’t super tall. On average, women tend to be shorter than men. She was big in every other way, he tells me, but not nearly as tall as he was expecting. Huh? You actually think all female bodybuilders are tall? If you flip through old magazines or scroll through Wikipedia pages of prominent female competitors, most of them are between 5 to 6 feet tall, the majority of them on the lower end of that spectrum. Most FBBs aren’t as tall as NBA players because most women in general aren’t as tall as NBA players. FBBs weren’t born that way. They began life just like everybody else. So why would they be naturally taller?

Then it hit me why he would think that way. His whole life he’s cultivated in his mind a fantasy image of what an FBB looks like. In their photos, they look larger than life. A clever photographer or camera operator can make a short person seem huge if they’re shot from an upward angle. Especially if the FBB is the only person in frame. A short person is only short if he or she is short in comparison to the other people they’re around. The same goes for a tall person. Short and tall are all relative.

But my friend here, who up to this point had never actually met a female bodybuilder up-close in real life, thought all FBBs were tall because that’s what his fantasy of FBBs told him. To him – and to all of us – FBBs are larger than life. In every way imaginable. But in reality, they aren’t quite so big as we think they are. Don’t get me wrong! FBBs are really big ladies. But they aren’t gargantuan. They aren’t monsters. They’re human beings. They’re just as tall (or short) as most women you meet in everyday life. They just have a lot more meat on their bones. They’re bulkier, but not like the Incredible Hulk. They’re not cartoon characters. They’re still human beings.

Wendy Fortino slaying in that dress.

Your typical FBB isn’t 6’ 5” and weighs 300 pounds. They’re probably more like 5’ 4” and 175 pounds. Does this disappoint you? Whether it does or doesn’t, that’s the truth.

This is true of every walk of life, but the more socially distant we are from certain kinds of people the more likely we are to develop cartoonish perceptions of them. This is especially true in the scumbag world of politics. Even a woman like Nataliya Kuznetsova, who comes the closest to being a “cartoon character come to life,” is rare among her fellow female bodybuilders. She’s in the 1 percent of the 1 percent of the 1 percent. In a past article, I dubbed her as the “Ultimate Real Human Photoshop Illusion.” This is still true.

Most FBBs will look more like Cindy Phillips or Brandi Mae Akers. If they wore sweatpants and an overcoat, you’d never guess that these ladies are bodybuilders. Nataliya, on the other hand, is so damn bulky that no matter what she does she’ll always stick out like a sore thumb. But that’s her brand. Her raison d’être is to defy scientific limitations. She strives to break our expectations of what is or isn’t possible. So my friend – and many of you also – expected the typical FBB to look like Nataliya…when not even Nataliya can look like Nataliya forever (I have my doubts about how healthy that lifestyle is over a long period of time).

Nataliya Kuznetsova isn’t typical, which is why we must treasure her more.

These warped perceptions are a product of being socially distant from FBBs. It didn’t take a global pandemic to make this obvious. But this is the price we pay for indulging in a niche fetish. It is not readily available. It is a rare opportunity for us to satisfy our urges. Getting our “fix” of female muscle comes at a hefty price tag. But when we do get the chance to live out our fantasies IRL, it’s a treasured experience that we’ll never forget.

I have no idea when the COVID-19 crisis will come to an end. Hopefully very soon. And with a limited number of fatalities. But there’s no doubt that this has caused major rifts in our society that will take months – maybe years – to recover from. For now, it’s an inconvenience bordering on a major catastrophe if global markets become too volatile. The world economy will take a hit, a reality that applies to much more than the Female Muscle Industrial Complex. But when this is all over, it seems prudent that this will force us to wake up to the fact that a civilized society is one that is resilient, adaptable, and rational. We will get through this if we make the right decisions, stand up for our principles, and do our part (no matter how small it may seem) to stop the spread of this disease. Or any future disease.

Like female bodybuilders, we must be tough, persistent, strategic, headstrong, and arrogant in believing we can overcome this. While FBBs may be socially distant from us, their attitude towards life is something every single one of us can replicate. We don’t need to be in close physical proximity to them to learn the lessons they’ve taught us. Even if it’s from a distance.

FBB Video Review #1: Denise Masino and the Leopard Dress

A new recurring feature I’m going to introduce in 2020 is FBB Video Reviews, in which I break down a sexy video featuring a female bodybuilder (or two, or three, or four) doing her thing. The videos could be ones that I personally love or they could come from reader suggestions.

Have a suggestion of one I should review? Email me at ryantakahashi87 (at) yahoo (dot) com. Or you can let me know in the comments below. Whichever you prefer.

For our maiden voyage, let’s dive into one featuring the incomparable Denise Masino. It should be no secret that Denise is my favorite female bodybuilder of all time. She’s amazing beyond words. One can never succinctly describe why she’s so incredible to behold. But she is nevertheless. Denise is sexy, smart, savvy, affable, and delivers exactly what her fans crave. That’s a lethal combination that not too many of her peers can match. A few do, but they’re few and far between.

This particular video looks to have been produced by Denise Masino herself. In today’s world, that seems to be the best bet when you want to create content that fits your own preferred style and tone. You can see more content like this if you become a subscriber on her website.

Watch Video

0:00 – Right off the bat, we see Denise wearing a sexy leopard skin dress that generously shows off her strong arms, thick meaty legs, and curvy feminine figure. She appears to be on the porch of someone’s house (her home or someone else’s residence? Who knows…) in broad daylight. Whether a neighbor was able to sneak a peek at the filming of this video is unknown. If a lucky bastard was able to crouch behind a kitchen window and watch the action unfold, more power to him!

The residence appears to be by a lake, so maybe an alligator was able to witness it all.

0:21 – The lighting isn’t ideal, which probably means the camera’s auto exposure adjustment feature wasn’t working yet. But we are distracted by Denise waving to us. It’s a miracle we haven’t died from cardiac arrest yet.

0:26 – Oh good. The camera’s exposure finally kicks in. We can now see Denise in her full glory!

0:32 – The camera moves down toward the floor and we can clearly see she isn’t wearing any panties. Yowza! It’s difficult to make out what her bits look like, but we’ll eventually find out.

One side note about the music. Yes, the music in porn is much maligned and often parodied. But in this case, it works on a thematic level. The music is upbeat, positive, and not necessarily sexually charged. It communicates openness, fun, and a casual spirit of joy. This video is also filmed outdoors in broad daylight. Not in a dark dungeon or BDSM-themed room. There are no dramatic lighting choices or distracting music. It blends into the background. Denise wants us to relax and enjoy the moment. She allows her body to take centerstage. That’s the only thing that we need to focus on. And it’s safe to say that we definitely are!

1:06 – Denise flexes her arms for us, reminding her audience that she’s a bodybuilder, not just a sexy lady who’s currently performing in an erotic video. The vein popping out of her arm is hard to not notice. When she flexes her left bicep, we instantly know that Denise is a genuinely strong woman – both literally and figuratively. The way she makes her bicep dance up and down is both tantalizing and hypnotic.

2:00 – I’m not into feet, but anyone who happens to be are in for a real treat. Lots of guys are really turned on by this sort of thing, but not me. But hey, I don’t judge. Whatever you’re into is cool with me! I’m in no position to judge someone on their personal fetish.

2:34 – Though I’m not into feet, I am into legs. Holy mackerel! Those heels bring out her calves, hamstrings, and quads like nothing else. I don’t know if she could crush a watermelon between her thighs, but I’d sure like to one day find out.

3:07 – We start to see a bit more of what Denise possesses between her gorgeous legs. Things are still covered up with her dress, but she’s definitely not shy about letting us know that her feminine bits are just as intriguing as the rest of her. She’s got big muscles, but she’s also got alluring stuff where the sun doesn’t traditionally shine. Perhaps soon the sun will in fact shine down there…

3:10 – Our first close-up of Denise’s nether regions. I can sense my heart attack building up inside my nervous system. It’s only a matter of time before my next-door neighbor needs to call an ambulance on my behalf. Maybe the paramedics and I can watch this video together.

4:14 – I’m not sure how comfortable that pose is, but we’re sure enjoying the view! That’s the life of a supermodel, though. You’re constantly forced to contort your body in all sorts of disjointed positions for the sake of getting that perfect sexy shot. We’re all thankful for it, even though it’s probably a pain in the ass to maintain. For that level of commitment, we are eternally grateful.

4:24 – Her top finally comes off, revealing her full breasts and perky nipples. If you need further mental reinforcement that Denise is in fact a feminine woman – and that muscular development does not turn a woman into a man or into a masculine lady – this should be it. Need more persuasion that big muscles on a woman can be incredibly sensual?

4:43 – Our first prominent shot at Denise’s labia. If you aren’t familiar with Miss Masino’s past work, this image may come as a shock to you. If you are already familiar with her, this is the moment we’ve all been waiting for. It’s her calling hard. Her prized possession. Her most famous asset. It’s the part of her that makes us return to her again and again. You will see why a little later.

5:17 – The way she’s stroking it almost looks like she’s preparing it for action. She isn’t masturbating yet. This is almost like “pre-masturbation,” or priming the pump. She’s warming up. She’s casually tossing the football back and forth to her receivers right before kick-off, loosening up her arm in anticipation of the Big Game. But her sport is much different than football, baseball, or basketball. MUCH different!

5:45 – Finally, she’s completely naked! Took her long enough. I was worried there for a while. Totally concerned.

Not really. But whatever. You get my drift.

5:51 – This is our first shot of her entire nude body. This is her. This is Denise. She’s not hiding anything. Her position implies that she’s consciously on full display. Like a priceless marble statue at The Louvre, Miss Masino wants the whole world to see her for who she is. She’s not holding back anymore. No more modesty. This is where Denise announces to the world that she’s a work of art in flesh form. She’s an artist and her own body is her canvas. The dumbbells at the gym are her paintbrush. Her food, supplements, protein shakes, and workout regimen are her paint. She’s a modern-day Michelangelo and this small backyard porch is the Sistine Chapel.

Metaphorically speaking, of course.

6:04 – I love how carelessly and unceremoniously her leopard skin dress is strewn on the floor. It’s like an inconvenience, an afterthought, a minor annoyance. It’s like a large drape covering up the Venus de Milo. It’s a useless piece of fabric that’s preventing us from seeing Denise for who she really is. Or, it’s an oppressive cloth that acts as a proverbial set of handcuffs that holds back Denise’s true nature. Her body deserves to be seen. It’s divine. It defies description. To cover it up is to deny her body its very purpose. To cover it up is akin to burning a book or pouring an expensive bottle of wine down the drain. It’s a terrible waste and demonstrates a blatant disregard for why it exists. Yeah, this is probably a bit too hyperbolic, but Denise Masino has the unique ability to draw that type of attitude out of me.

6:19 – Oh, how pink it is! Now I can discuss this in further detail. Denise’s most famous asset – one that is arguably her moneymaker – is her genitalia. Yes, that sounds odd to say aloud. But it’s 100% true. Her bright pink vagina, thick dark brown labia, and shockingly enormous clitoris are what endear her to her legion of fans. Her prominent genitalia are important for many reasons, but this is chief among them: It proves that women are autonomous sexual beings who are just as entitled to enjoy their bodies as men are.

Denise demonstrates that women are not merely men who lack a penis. They have their own set of genitalia that are unique to them and serve a specific function. The fact that Denise’s bits are larger and more pronounced exemplifies this point. She’s fully capable of experiencing sexual pleasure all by herself, with or without a man (or woman, or whomever). Her vagina isn’t merely an organ that serves the purpose of accepting a man’s penis during intercourse. Her vagina – and the rest of her genitals – can also serve the purpose of providing her pleasure. Reproduction is one purpose. Pleasure is another purpose. Both are legitimate and should be respected. Her large genitalia make this point better than any academic paper could.

7:01 – Denise is inviting us to take a closer look. Don’t mind if we do!

She spreads her labia wide, letting us see the inside of her vagina. If you don’t feel like an amateur OB-GYN, you should by now. Her motioning us to take a closer look is exactly that. An invitation to take a closer look. As opposed to an invitation to enter her sexually through intercourse. I’ve noted before that Denise is unique in that she rarely ever does videos with other men. In fact, I cannot recall ever seeing one like that. Most of her self-produced videos show her just by herself doing solo activities. Occasionally, she’ll have a scene partner or two. But 99.9% of the time, her scene partner(s) are other women. Usually female bodybuilders like her.

Her reluctance (or refusal) to do scenes with men is a personal choice that also works on a strategic level. Because no other men are present on screen with her, we can vicariously insert ourselves into the scene. We can be her imaginary lover. Our fantasy isn’t spoiled by the image of another guy (or multiple guys) doing the deed with her. Rather, we can fantasize in peace knowing we can easily put ourselves in that position without some random dude bro ruining it for us.

So when she motions us to come closer, she’s either telling us to literally take a closer look at her intimate parts or she’s inviting us to fantasize what it would be like to be intimately with her. Either way, it works.

7:38 – This is when things get really, really exciting (as if it hasn’t already). Denise is poking at her erect clit. The size is both eye-popping and shocking. How can a woman get that big? Is it from years of taking steroids? Human growth hormones? Lifting weights? Or was she born this way? I do not claim to know the answer to these questions, but I can guess that drugs played a significant role here. Whatever. The one thing we know for sure is that it isn’t a penis. Denise Masino is a woman. Period, end of story. She isn’t a man. She isn’t trans. Her gender isn’t ambiguous in any way. That large endowment located between her legs is a very large clitoris, not a tiny penis. Even if you are giving her the benefit of the doubt, one cannot help but notice that the shape of her clit resembles the head of a penis. After all, the penis and clitoris are biologically analogous, so that’s not an inaccurate perception. But nevertheless, we know what she has. It ain’t masculine. It’s undeniably feminine.

8:00 – The tip of her clit looks to be the same size as her index finger. Quite impressive!

8:10 – It’s worth noting that Denise doesn’t normally choose to shave or “tide up” her pubic hair. She allows it to remain as is. Lots of porn performers – male and female – shave their pubic hair so that their genitals can be better seen. It also looks cleaner and sexier. But Denise is different. She wants her thick bushy pubic hair to be part of her. She’s telling her audience that she’s not a little girl. She’s not a traditional porn actress. She’s a fully-grown woman. And fully-grown women have pubic hair down there.

Her act of defiance of remaining “bushy” conveys that Denise is an adult who caters to other adults. She’s not interested in immature man-babies coming her way. She wants adult men and women who will enjoy her for who she is to ride the Denise Train. I don’t know about you, but I got my first-class ticket in hand!

8:14 – This is the moment Denise starts stroking her engorged clit with her thumb and index finger. Remarkably, Denise is able to jerk off like a man. Granted, she’s using two fingers instead of her entire hand, but that’s beside the point. How many biologically feminine women can jerk off like Denise is doing here? “Very few” is the answer.

But let’s be clear about one thing: This isn’t Denise “acting like a man.” No, this is a case of Denise acting like a woman while doing an activity that we traditionally associated with men. Women can “jerk off” too if they have the right sized equipment. Clearly, Denise has that at her disposal.

9:24 – Denise continues to stroke her clit. Is she actually bringing herself to orgasm? Eh, maybe. Maybe not. I’d guess she’s truly enjoying it, but not that much. But I could be wrong. Nobody is under the impression that porn accurately portrays real life. It’s about fantasy more than reality. Whether or not Denise is experiencing actual orgasms is secondary to how we feel watching her stroke that beautiful clit up and down. We feel a tremendous amount of eroticism. And that’s the whole point. She’s completing her objectives like a pro.

9:50 – For the first time, we hear Denise speak! She instructs us to “Jerk with me. Jerk it…jerk it.” Denise is usually more vocal in her videos, so this is a rare instance when she remains fairly silent. Some people prefer to cut the unnecessary chatter in porn videos (mostly because the “dialogue” written for such scenes is unbearably awful), but Denise is a different cat. She’s smart, funny, engaging, personable, and likable. You root for her. So you don’t mind if she talks directly to you. It’s like she’s your best friend. A very sexy best friend, that is.

10:18 – More glorious orgasms. Keep ‘em coming! Yes, pun intended.

10:31 – Denise keeps things low key. She doesn’t scream bloody murder when she climaxes or writhes around violently like a demon-possessed child in The Exorcist. Her breathing quickens and she’ll moan at a low volume. Nothing over-the-top. That’s classic Denise. She’s sexy, but she doesn’t “impose” her sexiness on you. She lets her natural self speak for itself. And that’s enough. Subtlety is an art she’s perfected.

10:49 – Once again, we are reminded at how well-endowed she is. Oof!

10:57 – I wonder how she tastes? Probably like fine wine. Unfortunately, I’ll never find out. But I can dream, can I?

11:08 – After a few nice orgasms, Denise decompresses by slowly strokes her labia. She’s satisfied, satiated, and situated finely to take a long nap. After all, she deserves it! As enthralled as we’ve been, we need to let off some steam too. I wonder how…

***

So that’s that. My first FBB Video Review in the bag! I’m unsure if I’ll go quite into so much observational detail moving forward. But anything is possible.

Once again, please email me or let me know below if you have suggestions of other videos I should break down moment-by-moment. This video was a bit longer than most at 11:21. But that doesn’t mean I can’t review others that are of similar length. They just have to be compelling enough.

I hope you had just as much fun as I did. Happy New Year!

Isabelle Turell: Partying Like a Female Muscle Rock Star

Isabelle Turell can party with me anytime.

Some female bodybuilders are accused of “not being feminine enough.” Other female bodybuilders are accused of “being a little too feminine.” It’s impossible to please everybody, so there’s no need to try, right?

Right. But people have their preferences – and they are perfectly entitled to their preferences, the consequences be damned. We all can name our “favorite” female bodybuilder without thinking about it, though some of us may need to include 4 or 5 just to be on the safe side. While the Holy Grail FBB – someone who exhibits a flawless mixture of muscularity, beauty, femininity, and attitude – may not actually exist, one lady in particular comes to mind as someone who’s really darn close.

Isabelle Turell.

Isabelle is a rare woman whose impressive muscle mass doesn’t distract from the rest of her qualities. She’s stunningly gorgeous, curvy, oozes with sexiness, and can make you drop dead in your tracks if you ever saw her. She also has a nerdy side to her that she isn’t shy about sharing with the world. We are blessed to have her around.

She is a multifaceted woman who offers more than you’d think…but at the same time not as much as you’d like. She isn’t complicated, but she isn’t easy to understand. You want her to be a certain way but she won’t go there, yet she delivers exactly what she needs to deliver without disappointing anyone.

More on this later.

Isabelle Turell was born on October 22, 1979 in Tampa, Florida. She currently resides in Terre Haute, Indiana. She’s been an IFBB Pro Bodybuilder since 2008. Her actual bodybuilding career began in 2000 when she competed at the Orlando Classic, demonstrating that “turning pro” isn’t a task to be taken lightly. Her competition history is impressive, having competed at the NPC USA Championship, Ms. International, Wings of Strength, Arnold Classic, Tampa Pro, Omaha Pro, Atlantic City Women’s Pro, Rising Phoenix Arizona Pro, Lenda Murray Classic Pro, and many other regional tournaments. She isn’t just another typical competitor. She’s a serious heavyweight who deserves respect within the industry.

Is she considered “elite?” Eh, not quite. But she’s a prominent figure in the IFBB world and has accomplished things many of us – male or female – cannot even dream of doing. When she isn’t competing, Isabelle provides fitness consulting services and additional information/content if you become a paying member of her website. In this respect, Isabelle earns her living in the same way hundreds of other FBBs earn their living. It goes with the territory.

Isabelle is one of the most multi-faceted female bodybuilders around. One moment she could be wearing a BDSM-themed leather mask and looking to fulfill every single one of your femdom bondage fantasies. The next moment she’s cosplaying as The Hulk or Ghost Rider. She’s part dominatrix, part nerd, part sex kitten, and part world-class athlete with intrigue, class, and mysteriousness sprinkled in throughout.

There’s something about Isabelle that appeals to everyone. She has Amber Deluca’s Powerful Female Muscle Dominatrix vibe but can also pull off Denise Masino’s Fun and Sometimes Nerdy Lady Bodybuilder personality. She appeals to the hardcore fetishists who fantasize about being controlled, dominated, and humiliated by a strong sexy woman; while at the same time her chiseled physique compares favorably to Alina Popa.

She’s fun for the whole family. Assuming your family is into this sort of thing.

Her personality is guarded, so you don’t feel like you know her intimately like you do Denise. Miss Masino could be your best friend or drinking buddy. Isabelle is that cool chick you met at a party once and still exchange an occasional dirty text message with. Miss Turell is certainly sexy but she doesn’t overtly flaunt it like her peers. She lets the little bit of her that she chooses to make public speak for itself. Whether this is intentional or not, Isabelle leaves you wanting more while delivering exactly what she needs to deliver.

The one thing Isabelle won’t deliver to her fans is hardcore porn. That’s not in her repertoire. She’s more than happy being sexy, but she’ll flaunt her sexiness with limitations. These limitations aren’t tragic, however. They’re her choice and we must respect that. But then again, it’s not completely necessary that she go that far in order to satisfy our desires to see her in her full glory.

Isabelle is in her “full glory” when we feel empowered to insert her into our dirtiest fantasies. One of the most intriguing parts of female muscle fandom is that female bodybuilders are able to activate our imaginations in unexplainable ways. We cannot help but think about all sorts of scenarios, circumstances, and erotic fantasies whenever we encounter an image of a beautiful woman with big muscles. Isabelle is no exception.

Isabelle cosplaying as Jessica Rabbit.

When we see a selfie of Isabelle’s smiling face that unashamedly shows off her prodigious cleavage, we cannot help but think about what it would be like to get a handful of her enormous breasts and caress them with tender care. Then our minds turn toward thinking of her with a whip in hand, a long strap-on dildo attached to her crotch, and a leather BDSM mask that accentuates her gorgeous brown eyes. Or, we imagine her as our personal trainer. She pushes us harder and beyond our limits, and generously rewards our killer workout with further, uh, strenuous cardiovascular activities in the gym hot tub.

Or, we see a photo of Isabelle in a bikini and instantly place ourselves on that particular beach with her. Every muscle fiber is on clear display. Not a single soul is in sight. The sun is starting to set, which adds to the urgency of the moment. You kiss her deeply as the waves crash against the shore. Then, Isabelle quickly discards her bikini and stands before you in her Birthday Suit. She looks tantalizing. She invites you to disrobe. You do. Then, you make magic on the beach and end up with sand in every crevice of your body. Then, you make more magic. And more. And more. Finally, totally spent, you walk hand-in-hand with her across the beach as the bright moonlight illuminates the romantic scene.

Or, you look at a fun cosplay pic of Isabelle dressed up as the She-Hulk. Her skin is a brilliant green. You can see every curve of her muscular figure. You imagine what it would be like to be a scientist conducting an “experiment” on her. By day, Isabelle is a shy intern who can barely lift a box of copy paper. But when she gets really angry, she transforms into the She-Hulk! Now, she can bust through a drywall just by throwing her fist through it. And she can lift a car and toss it a hundred feet away without breaking a sweat. You know you shouldn’t make her angry too often, but what the heck? It couldn’t hurt too much! And if it does, so be it.

Or, you scroll through Isabelle’s Instagram page and see her wearing an elegant black cocktail dress. She looks classy and ravishing at the same time. You take her out to dinner at the finest restaurant in the city. All eyes are on her. Nobody can ignore her. It’s not every day that you see a gorgeous sexy woman with bulging muscles strut around like she owns the place. In a way, she does own the place. She owns every environment she finds herself in, to be exact. You enjoy a lovely date night with her, chuckling to yourself as the waitstaff struggles to keep their composure (and focus) as they serve you your meal. It’s quite a sight to behold!

These fantasies – and hundreds more like them – are typical of many fans of female bodybuilders. We aren’t just attracted to women with big muscles. We’re intoxicated by the alluring fantasies they conjure up in our minds. Isabelle Turell, more than any other FBB in the world, elicits this exact reaction in us. She can play any part we give her. That’s the key to understanding her appeal. She can be the sexy wife, domineering mistress, nerdy girlfriend, hardcore personal trainer, elite athlete, world-class celebrity, Divine Muscle Goddess, supermodel, inspirational gym rat, or quirky friend. She can effortlessly play all those roles. Perhaps multiple roles at once, if your imagination is that wild.

She can be anything you want her to be. And that’s why we cannot get enough of her. And that’s why she doesn’t have to be (or do) anything else than what she already is. We don’t need her to be like Yvette Bova, Kathy Connors, or Brandi Mae Akers and produce the kinkiest porn on the Internet. We don’t need her to go outside of her comfort zone or do anything she doesn’t feel like doing. She can just be herself and our minds will do the rest. She gives us enough. And that is enough. No more is required of her.

Isabelle is a fun gal who loves her life and enjoys brightening up the spirits of her fans. She certainly has loyal devotees who breathlessly await her next Instagram post. Will it be one of her pretty face? One that shows off her cleavage? One where we see her flex her enormous biceps? Or a video where she poses for us as if we were the only human being on planet Earth? Which will it be?

Her IG name is fitrockstar. This is fitting. Like most classic rock stars (which seem to be in short supply these days), Isabelle is the life of the party. Her extravagant life is just as interesting as what she does for a living. We aren’t just fascinated by “Isabelle Turell the Professional Bodybuilder.” We’re addicted to “Isabelle Turell the Unstoppable Muscle Goddess.” She cannot be stopped. She cannot be contained. She’s living her best life and we’re simply going along for the ride. We don’t know where we’re going, but that’s none of our concern. We’re just happy to be onboard the Isabelle Train.

Is she taking us to a crowded gymnasium? A bodybuilding competition stage? A bondage dungeon? A sweaty weight room? A secluded beach? A cozy cottage? A luxurious penthouse suite? A fancy 5-star restaurant? A photography studio where all eyes are on her?

We can go to all of those places. Whenever we want to. Because when we think about Isabelle, we can easily place ourselves in any situation. And we’ll feel right at home with her.

Whew! Need more evidence why we love her so damn much? Didn’t think so.

Oh Isabelle. Lovely Isabelle. A sweet princess. A devilish queen. An omnipotent goddess. No matter what she chooses to do next, we’ll be there. Hungry. Wanting more. But not needing more. Because she’s enough. She’s always enough.

Jennifer Kennedy: The Defiant One

Don’t disrespect The Muscle Foxx!

Jennifer Kennedy is the female bodybuilder your Mom and Dad warned you about. The one who would confirm all your deeply held suspicions about the female bodybuilding industry and its competitors. The one who would be the living embodiment of all your fears about muscular women, steroids, gender roles, sexual orientation, identity, and sexual attraction. The one who gives you nightmares, but the fun kind of nightmares that you (sort of) enjoy.

Jenni is not for everyone. I once described Yvette Bova as someone who’s not everyone’s cup of tea. If that’s the case, then Jenni is a sour beverage that even a person crawling through a desert dying of thirst would politely refuse to drink. Miss Kennedy isn’t as polarizing as Miss Bova because Jenni isn’t very prolific in making career choices that might endear her to a small yet dedicated cohort of female muscle fans. More on that later. In fact, Jenni isn’t polarizing at all. There pretty much exists one singular opinion about her that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon:

Thanks, but no thanks.

Ouch. If that sounds mean, it’s because it is. My personal opinion of her is not that, of course. I really like Jenni. Seriously. I do! She’s unapologetically sexy, doesn’t care what her critics think, and lives her life the way she wants to. How can you hate on that?

All of that being said, let’s address a few delicate caveats:

First, it’s no mystery why Jenni doesn’t appeal to even hardcore supporters of female bodybuilding. She isn’t blessed with the same natural beauty as Cindy Landolt or Jessica Williams. She has a “harder edged” face that will inevitably be blamed on years of using synthetic steroids. Her voice is lower than Barry White’s. She’s feminine-presenting, but any uneducated dolt still has a modicum of justification to question her gender identity.

These caveats don’t mean people have a legitimate reason to insult her. Far from it. Jenni deserves our respect. It’s true that you don’t have to like every female bodybuilder on planet Earth, but that doesn’t give you license to hurl slurs at them either. Jenni isn’t here for that crap. Neither am I.

So don’t call her a “tranny” or any other such derogatory label. Just don’t.

There are two types of FBBs I admire: Female bodybuilders who are naturally beautiful and completely shatter negative stereotypes about muscular women; and female bodybuilders who are not blessed with natural beauty but still confidently strut around as if they do – and don’t care what the so-called “haters” think. The first category is pretty obvious. Who doesn’t enjoy looking upon a gorgeous lady with big curvy muscles? But the latter is where you tend to lose a lot of people, even people who are normally on your side in these debates.

SONY DSC

Miss Kennedy obviously belongs in the second category. She’s defiant. She’s unabashed. She’s proud of who she is. Does she have deeply held insecurities about herself? Probably, yeah. Who doesn’t? But all in all, I’d bet my life’s savings (all $183 of it) that she’s comfortable in her own skin. Like Yvette, Maryse Manios, Roxanne Edwards, and Kathy Connors, Jenni realizes her fanbase is going to be much smaller than her peers. Heck, FBBs have a fairly narrow group of fans to begin with. These aforementioned ladies control an even smaller slice of that small slice. Yours truly may be one of the few people out there who are willing to toot their horns (interpret that as you will!).

However, unlike Yvette and Kathy, Jenni does a limited amount of porn. She’s done some, but not nearly as much as she could be. Kathy has established herself as being an Alpha Female who will dominate you and punish you if you’ve been naughty. Yvette presents herself as a sex-crazed muscle-bound hedonist who enjoys life to the fullest. In other words, they compensate for their lack of natural beauty by taking on public personas that people can easily latch onto (it should be noted that these personas don’t necessarily reflect who these women are in real life. They’re merely how they present themselves to the public). Jenni, to my knowledge, hasn’t really done that to the extent of these other ladies, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t done anything. Simply put, Jenni carries herself as a sultry seductive temptress who will lure you into her trap – and once she’s gotten ahold of you…you don’t want her to let go.

Jennifer Kennedy was born on June 25, 1976 in Michigan. She’s a personal trainer and webcam performer. After competing in gymnastics and track, she got hooked on weightlifting and hasn’t looked back since. She’s been participating in contests going back to at least 2011 (NPC National Championships). Most recently (as of this writing) she participated in the 2019 IFBB Omaha Pro. The Internet is a bit sparse when it comes to listing how she placed at these – and other – contests, so that’s too bad. Overall, it’s fair to say that Jennifer is a respectable competitor, but not elite. She belongs on stage with the best of the best, but she isn’t “the best” quite yet.

Perhaps one day she’ll get there! But for the time being, we’ll have to appreciate her for who she is, not who she’ll one day become.

It’s accurate to describe Jenni as “The Defiant One” This isn’t because she defies stereotypes or breaks down barriers. Rather, it’s because she adheres to stereotypes and doesn’t care if that bothers you. Women like Minna Pajulahti and Wendy Fortino shatter the preconceived notion that muscular women can’t also be beautiful, feminine, and desirable. Jenni isn’t going to do that at all, but that’s not why she’s defiant. She’s defiant because she fits every idiot’s preconceived notions about FBBs and wears them on her sleeve as a badge of honor.

“You’re right,” she may say. “I am not traditionally beautiful. I do have a masculine-looking face. My voice isn’t lyrical. Most guys don’t find me attractive. But, I guarantee you if you were to spend 5 minutes alone with me in my bedroom, you’ll be begging for more in no time!”

She’s the Green Eggs and Ham of female bodybuilders. Sam-I-Am thought he hated green eggs and ham because of how it looked. He stubbornly refused to try it because he had already made up his mind. Or he thought he had already made up his mind. But once he tried a single bite, his eyes were opened to the truth. As it turns out, he actually loves green eggs and ham. Sam-I-Am learned a valuable lesson that day: Don’t knock it unless you’ve tried it.

Also, don’t judge a book by its cover. So that’s two lessons in one day.

At first glance, you aren’t going to like Jenni. You’ll find her repulsive, disgusting, ugly, and hideous. But I can guarantee you that if you just give her a chance, she can change your mind. She can soften your hardened heart. You may end up liking her. Or loving her. Or being completely obsessed with her. Or at the very least, you’ll gain a newfound sense of respect for her. Either way, that’s an improvement.

Jenni isn’t monstrous. But to a closed-minded fool, she might as well be the next kaiju Godzilla battles against amidst the wreckage of a metropolitan city. But to someone with empathy, she’s a cool lady you shouldn’t underestimate.

Not liking Jenni doesn’t make you a misogynist or a Female-Bodybuilding-Fan-in-Name-Only (FBFINO?). Hating her, on the other hand, probably does.

You can not like her. But to be so quick to dismiss her? Yeah, lighten up buddy.

In a strange way, there’s something oddly courageous about Jenni. Something admirable. She performs for webcams. How can you do that unless you have confidence that there are people out there who would pay money to watch you? Obviously there are. Otherwise she wouldn’t be doing it. This proves that – even if the number is fairly small – Jenni has her fair share of fans. Maybe not as much as Denise Masino or Lindsay Mulinazzi, but enough to justify a modest income for her.

Jenni’s defiance is a key reason why that small slice of the FBB Appreciation Society (not a real thing, but play along with me here), which is already a small slice of the general population, loves her so much. It’s hard to say how many “dedicated” followers Jenni has, but it’s probably much larger than you think. Or to put it a different way, it’s not as small as you think. Regardless, Jenni has tapped into a niche that can properly be defined as a sub-niche within a niche:

The Scary-But-In-A-Hot-Kind-Of-Way Female Bodybuilder.

She embodies nearly every single negative stereotype you can think of when it comes to female bodybuilders. She also doesn’t appear to be very interested in remedying those negative perceptions in any way. This is because Jenni has perfected the art of turning a negative into a positive. Instead of trying to “fix” what’s wrong with her (and for the record, there’s absolutely nothing “wrong” with her in the first place) she embraces who she is and uses her already existing assets to her advantage. Her deep voice gives her a commanding presence. Her roughness strikes fear into your heart. Her muscles allow her to dominate you. Her unique appearance requires you to pay attention to her. Her “scariness” whips you into shape. Her peculiar mash-up of masculine and feminine qualities make her memorable. Her sexiness makes her, well, sexy.

None of those qualities are a detriment to her success. Could she be more successful if she were more, uh, “accessible” to a broader audience? Perhaps, yes. But how many conventionally beautiful muscle goddesses can you name off the top of your head? Probably dozens upon dozens, if not hundreds. But how many Muscle Queens of the Macabre Variety can you think of who make you both frightened and strangely aroused at the same time? How many of them make you feel nauseated…yet you admit you cannot look away no matter how hard you try?

We all know who can make us feel that way.

SONY DSC

Jenni is a lot like a schlocky horror movie. The horrific violence you see on the screen makes you sick to your stomach. You get queasy watching hapless teenagers get decapitated, disemboweled, dismembered, burned to a crisp, skinned alive, eaten alive, tortured, stabbed, drowned, sliced in half with a chainsaw, gutted with a fishing hook, smashed with a hammer, ripped from limb to limb with a machete, punctured with an arrow, beaten with a baseball bat, or shot in the genitals. But instead of running out of the movie theater screaming like a madman, you stay in your seat and watch the dreadfulness unfold right before your very eyes. It’s entertainment. Sick and twisted entertainment, but that’s what it is nevertheless. It’s simultaneously appalling and fun.

And you know what? There’s a small part of you that actually enjoys watching these things happen to these innocent people. You want to enjoy immoral pre-marital sex? Well, the price you pay is having your innards pulled out of your stomach shortly after your orgasm. For some desperate people, that might be a worthwhile tradeoff.

In a convoluted kind of way, Jennifer Kennedy is sort of like that. Sort of. She’s entertaining. She’s enthralling. She’s captivating. She’s intriguing. You want to see what she does next, even if your instincts tell you to turn it off and scrub your eyeballs with Clorox. You need to know who this woman is and what she’s all about. She’s enticing. Almost too enticing. You may feel a bit guilty when she starts to grow on you, but hey, what’s the harm in that?

Who cares? Nobody is going to judge you. Even if someone does, just ignore them and proceed living your life. After all, being fond of Jenni can be intoxicating. In a naughty sort of way, it almost makes you feel – oh, what’s that word again?

Oh yeah. Defiant.