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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, it’s not.”

***

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

Or granddaughter. Who knows?

Buzzzzzzzzz!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luckily for him, he doesn’t.

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

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

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

“Whoops.”

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before this evening is over, they will make love.

***

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

Perhaps.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A dirty bomb.

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hello Peggy. Welcome to my humble abode.”

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

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

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

“Is that so? I’m intrigued.”

“Me too!” Monique chimes in.

“And I,” adds Melanie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why?” Monique asks, her tummy growling.

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

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

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

A Most Magnificent Body of Work – Part Three of Five

An armed and dangerous Ludmila Kolesnikova.

Continued from part two

Damn. That was delicious.

Placing her fork on the plate, Deborah has finished the complimentary breakfast placed in front of her by the stewardess who hasn’t shown her face in the cabin in the past twenty-six minutes. There doesn’t appear to be a “call” button anywhere, so she has no choice but to put the tray off to the side on the table next to her seat. She quietly burps.

Well, I guess that means I’m not going to eat the food I brought with me. Unless, of course, our trip is much longer than I’m expecting…

Which begs the important question plaguing her mind: How long is this flight going to be?

Many moments pass. Still no one willing to communicate with her. The cabin is, as expected, quite cozy. There’s about a dozen seats spread across the room with a table and stack of magazines adjacent to each one. Next to the door leading to the cockpit is the restroom. Deborah has yet to need to use the lavatory, but that time will come sooner or later.

It then occurs to her that her suitcase has been stashed away somewhere she doesn’t know. A mysterious crew member took it. So she couldn’t access her Tupperware even if she wanted to…

Fuck. Why the hell am I worried about that shit? I’m about to go off to God-knows-where and meet some enigmatic mega-millionaire (or is it billionaire?) who singled me out for this “date.” I could get murdered. Or horribly violated. Or I could come back home with a bag full of $1 million without a single hair on my head being harmed. Or the eventual outcome could be somewhere in between.

Fuck. Which will it be?

“All I can do is sit back and wait,” she says to herself.

Indeed, that is correct.

The plane eventually crosses a large body of water. Deborah guesses this is the Pacific Ocean. She’s never had a keen sense of direction, but it appears as though they’re heading west, maybe southwest. Hawaii, perhaps? Or Australia? Maybe Japan or China or the Philippines. Regardless, it’s going to be a long ass flight no matter where they’re going. It doesn’t seem like they’re landing anytime soon. So there’s no need to endlessly speculate or mentally attempt to map out where they’re going.

Thus, this calls for a nap.

Deborah gives in to her tiredness (she’s struggled to sleep for the past couple of days for obvious reasons) and closes her eyes. A few minutes later she’s fast asleep, dreaming about her old college days, ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, and her childhood Labrador Retriever named Billy. She loved that old dog. She reckons she hasn’t seen him in almost twelve years. Holy shit. Time sure passes…

***

“Good afternoon, Miss Frost. We’re about to land in forty minutes,” a voice beckons, interrupting her peaceful slumber. Groggy and wishing she were still asleep, Deborah struggles to open her eyes but does so anyway. The voice belongs to that of Thin Fedora Man.

“Thank you,” Deborah responds.

Thin Fedora Man winks and returns back to the cockpit. What the fuck was that all about? He doesn’t seem like the type of chap who would wink at you. Whatever.

Deborah looks around and notices during her nap, someone – probably the elusive stewardess – closed all the shades, covering the windows completely. Just as she unbuckles her belt so that she can stand up and open one of them, the stewardess enters the cabin carrying a long piece of black cloth.

Amanda Ferre looking splendid.

“Hello, Miss Frost. Please, remain seated,” she says. Behind her a second crew member, who looks to be just as tall as Deborah and probably nearly as muscular, stands at attention. He’s probably there to ensure Deborah complies with the directions given to her. She is, however, in no mood to be disobedient and discover what the consequences would be for such insubordinate behavior.

“You’re going to have to wear this for the duration of our flight.”

Deborah passively nods her head in agreement, not that she has any choice in the matter.

“Splendid!”

The stewardess wraps the black cloth around Deborah’s head and ties it in the back. She is unable to see anything.

“Can you see anything?”

“No.”

“Good. That’s the idea!” She follows that up with a hearty laugh to lighten up the mood. Deborah doesn’t return the favor. She can’t tell if the stewardess is offended or indifferent to this.

“We’ll only be in the air for about thirty-five more minutes. Hang tight.” And just like that, she – and, presumably, the Hired Goon – exits the cabin. Deborah hears the door close. Well, that’s that. Now she has to “enjoy” the rest of her trip in complete darkness…

***

Eventually, the Silver Hawk lands on some kind of airstrip. Is it a private airport or a public one? Deborah has no fucking clue. All she knows is that this very long flight has come to a merciful end (she estimates it was between five and six hours long). Once the jet comes to a complete stop, Thin Fedora Man returns to the cabin and escorts her out of the plane.

“Follow me, Miss Frost. Take my hand for your safety.”

It burns Deborah’s feminist sensibilities to have to rely on a man to do the simple task of walking around, but with the black cloth covering her eyes she has no choice but to rely on his gracious assistance. He takes her to a car sitting on the runway. Deborah doesn’t hear any other airplanes landing or taking off, so she gathers they’ve landed on a private runway of some sort. She gets in the car and manages to buckle her own seatbelt. She has no idea if Thin Fedora Man gets in the car with her. The driver starts the ignition and rides off away from the airstrip.

The car ride is bumpier than she was expecting. There are lots of swerving, turning, and climbing uphill. Holy fuck. Where does this motherfucker live? On top of the Himalayas?

The driver doesn’t speak a word. But then again, what pleasant conversation was she going to have with him?

At last, the car stops and the driver kills the ignition. The door opens, most likely by Thin Fedora Man. Deborah gets out and stretches her long legs.

“We’re finally here. Are you feeling jetlagged, Miss Frost?” Thin Fedora Man unties the blindfold, liberating Deborah’s sensitive skin from the raggedly cloth.

“A little bit. I need a stiff drink. Does your client have any whiskey?” Adjusting her eyes to her new surroundings, Deborah blinks several times so that she can grow accustomed to the sunlight, which has evaded her for the past hour or so.

“Quite a few. His collection is impressive, if I may say so myself. Shall I tell him that you’d like to sample some of what he’s been able to obtain over the years?” Thin Fedora Man offers.

Before she can cordially respond, Deborah’s jaw drops at the sight of her new environment.

“Holy shit!”

She finds herself standing in front of a gorgeous marble colored mansion overlooking an exotic tropical beach. The mansion is complete with a swimming pool off to the side, a miniature golf course in the backyard, a shiny red Lamborghini sitting in the driveway, and a beautiful lighthouse majestically arranged on top of the orange clay tile roof on the far side of the building. Palm trees and impeccably trimmed hedges line the driveway. It appears as though they’re on top of a hill, situated right above the water. A cool breeze greets her. Deborah has only dreamed of visiting a home like this, never mind actually being able to spend a single night in it. Holy shit, this guy definitely has a lot of money lying around…

“It’s a lovely house, isn’t it?” Thin Fedora Man boasts with a grin. Deborah can only wordlessly shake her head up and down. The car that took her here begins to drive away. She sees her black suitcase sitting right next to her. She picks it up and follows Thin Fedora Man indoors.

Once inside, the interior of the mansion is just as stylish as one would expect from a place like this. Greek nude statues stand at attention in almost every room. The furniture looks specially made for the owner. Rich and colorful tapestries hang from the ceiling. A Turkish rug meets them at the doorway. A small army of butlers, cooks, housemaids, and personal assistants furiously scamper around like ants in a colony trying to please the Queen Ant. Or is it the King Ant?

This is what the mansion most likely looks like.

“You will meet him shortly. For dinner. Which is in one hour. Before then, everyone here, including myself, will vacate the premises and leave the two of you alone for the entire night,” Thin Fedora Man warns. “It’s how he wants it. It’s all part of his plan.”

It is at this moment that Deborah notices hundreds – it may not actually be hundreds, but is sure seems like it – of paintings of muscular women hanging on the walls. The tapestries are only in the first room she walked through. The paintings look personalized. They feature everything from female Trojan warriors to hypermuscular female Samurais to, of course, stereotypical Amazon warrior princesses. Why not? That’s to be expected.

“In the meantime, what should I do?” she innocently asks Thin Fedora Man.

“I will take you to your bedroom. You probably won’t sleep there tonight, but you can put your suitcase there for now. And, I hear he has a special outfit he wants you to wear for supper tonight.” Thin Fedora Man snaps his fingers and a short Hispanic woman with gray hair stops what she’s doing and obediently approaches them. “Take Miss Frost to her bedroom, please.”

The Hispanic woman nods her head silently. Deborah intuitively senses sadness in her eyes. She immediately feels sorry for her – and everyone who works here, for that matter. They might be getting paid generously, but she gets a creepy vibe from everyone. Is this a palace or a prison?

Deborah is led upstairs to the top floor. The Hispanic woman opens the door to a bedroom (it seems like there are at least three dozen bedrooms in this place) and motions for her to enter. Deborah does. Just as she’s about to thank her for being so helpful, she suddenly closes the door and locks it. Deborah tries to twist the knob open, but to no avail. She’s locked in. Until they let her out. For dinner. Which is in one hour.

Fuck me.

Deborah then looks at an elaborate costume hanging in front of a full-length mirror. It’s a detailed and very accurate replica of Lucy Lawless’s signature costume from Xena: Warrior Princess, a 1990s TV show she will not hesitate to admit she loved watching growing up. Apparently her host did too. Wait, does he actually expect her to wear this? For dinner?

Apparently he does.

Double fuck me.

***

After putting on the outfit – which, as remarkable as this sounds, fits perfectly as if someone had measured her body beforehand – all Deborah could do was sit on the bed and watch the clock tick toward 5:00 p.m. It’s now a few minutes before. That means dinner should commence any moment.

Before, Deborah felt insulted that she would be asked to wear such an outfit to dinner. However, she can now admit she looks fucking sexy in the Xena costume. It’s skimpy (of course) and generously shows off her large muscles.

A knock on the door startles her.

“Um, yes?”

“You are invited to join the host for dinner, Miss Frost,” Thin Fedora Man says.

Deborah gathers her composure, looks at herself once more in the mirror (she’s still damn impressed, despite her nervousness, at how she’s slaying in this outfit), and takes a deep breath.

A seaside bedroom.

“Thank you. I’m ready.” With that, Thin Fedora Man unlocks the door and opens it. Deborah gallantly exits the bedroom and looks at Thin Fedora Man in the eye. He rarely shows any emotion, but even he’s a red blooded male who cannot help but look upon her curvaceous muscles with lust.

“You look…absolutely stunning,” he remarks in a near trance-like state.

“I do my best,” Deborah quips.

Also trying to keep his composure, Thin Fedora Man leads Deborah downstairs to the dining room. For what feels like several miles – it is a big fucking mansion, after all – Deborah is once again in awe of the size and opulence of her surroundings. Wow, the rich sure do know how to live, don’t they?

They pass by the kitchen, which looks more like a restaurant-quality kitchen than one you’d typically find at someone’s house. The chef stops what he’s doing and takes a look at Deborah wearing the sexy Xena outfit. He almost drops a sharp knife on his foot, but thankfully does not and manages to keep a handle on it. Whew.

Finally, they reach the dining room. Thin Fedora Man motions for her to enter the room. She does. A larger-than-life twenty-five foot long dining table greets her. A lily white cloth covers the entire surface, with an ice sculpture of the Greek goddess Athena sitting in the middle. An impressive Japanese flower arrangement surrounds the sculpture. But before Deborah can fully process the finely chiseled piece of frozen water immodestly presented in front of her, she glances at the far end of the table and sees him.

You know. Him.

“Good evening, Miss Frost. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you. My god, you look absolutely stunning,” he says. The man stands up and confidently approaches her. Deborah almost faints when she realizes who it is.

“You’re….uh, you’re Jonathan Westmore!”

Jonathan smirks. He extends his hand. She extends hers and they shake. He’s taller than she anticipated, which is especially telling considering she stands at an imposing 6’2”. After for what seems like an eternity, Thin Fedora Man clears his throat. Both Jonathan and Deborah turn their attention toward him. Standing behind him are two wait staff carrying plates of food.

“Ahem. Dinner is now ready to be served. After we clean up in the kitchen, everyone on the premises will be ready to leave, as your instructions dictate,” he says.

“Thank you, Robert,” Jonathan calmly acknowledges.

Hm. “Robert” is Thin Fedora Man’s name? Uh, alright. I was expecting “Humbert” or “Carruthers,” but Robert will do, I suppose.

Robert leaves as the two staff members place the plates at their respective spots. Jonathan and Deborah are still standing face-to-face, neither of them willing to move an inch.

Lucy Lawless as Xena: Warrior Princess.

“Oh my god. Never in a million years would I expect you to be the man arranging this whole thing,” Deborah says. Her eyes are focused intently on Jonathan’s handsome face.

For those of you who are not aware, Jonathan Westmore is the former CEO of Westmore Capital, a venture capital firm that’s launched more than thirty of the largest corporations in the world. He inherited the company from his father, Peter Westmore, who founded the company shortly after returning home from serving in World War II. Peter married and divorced several times, but eventually settled down with a woman named Linda Sharpe, who once posed nude for Playboy and was at one point in her life considered a “rising superstar” in the modeling industry. After marrying Peter, she abandoned that dream and instead settled for living life as an ultra-wealthy housewife. Later, Jonathan was born, along with several other brothers and sisters. When Peter passed away in 1983, Jonathan, who was only 23 years old at the time, took over the reins of his father’s empire.

Jonathan transformed Westmore Capital from a largely successful American company into one of the most successful financial firms in the world. He became a celebrity who was even more popular than his father. He dated models (just like his mother used to be), Hollywood starlets, pop singers, Olympic athletes, and the daughters of other rich men. In 2012 he ran unsuccessfully for President of the United States of America as an independent third-party candidate. Deborah, and plenty of other women, voted for him. When you’re as rich, successful, and devilishly handsome as Jonathan Westmore, why the fuck wouldn’t you vote for him?

Alas, he had no chance of winning the highest political office in the nation, and simply retired from public life afterward. He stepped down from the company and appointed his daughter, Stephanie, as the new CEO. Though in his mid-50s, Jonathan still remains unmarried ever since his divorce from his fourth wife in 2005. Deborah has definitely had dreams of marrying him and living in one of his (many) stylish mansions across the globe, but she knows such a dream is likely never to come to fruition.

Except, after this stunning revelation, it very well could happen!

“Life can be full of surprises,” he laughs. “Please, sit down and enjoy supper.”

The menu tonight includes prime rib, mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, a stuffed tomato, and a kale and pear salad. A $5,000 bottle of Chateau Île de Bourguenolles wine complements the succulent meal. The wait staff promptly exits after their duty is finished. Jonathan and Deborah sit down at the table. She places the napkin on her lap, but notices her host staring at her conspicuously, visually taking in every single inch of her muscular flesh.

Prime rib. It’s what’s for dinner.

“You are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, Miss Frost. May I call you Deborah?”

Deborah almost swallows her tongue at the sound of Jonathan Westmore saying her name like that. God damn, what’s the over-under on how long she can last without collapsing to the floor?

“Uh, of course you can call me Deborah! Debbie, if that floats your boat.” She takes in a deep breath, wanting to prevent herself from hyperventilating. Jonathan senses her nervousness and tries to put her at ease.

“Please, Debbie. It’s okay. You’re safe. There’s nothing to worry about. Let’s just sit back, relax, chat, and enjoy this delicious dinner,” he reassures her.

“I’m not scared. I’m just, you know, a bit overwhelmed at this whole thing,” she says. “Never in a million years did I expect to ever be able to meet you, Jonathan.”

He smiles, which melts her heart. She doesn’t notice that her left breast is completely hanging out of her costume, exposed for everyone to see. Her nipple is erect, signaling her arousal. Thankfully, she is blissfully unaware of her immodesty.

“Well, here you are. And here I am. But I’m famished. Shall we eat?”

She nods her head. Jonathan takes a sip from his glass of wine and beams with approval.

“Excellent! Bon appétit, Debbie dear.”

To be continued…