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Chapter 1Gene O'Hare, sitting in his office loft on the balcony overlooking the main floor of his store, barely heard the British-accented words of Charles Lee, the Chinese jade salesman."Really, sir. This is a splendid opportunity to add to O'Hare's growing reputation as one of the West Coast's finest gift shops. We'll give you exclusive distribution rights for the area. We've permitted only two other stores west of the Mississippi to carry the Empress China Jade; they are Nieman-Marcus in Dallas and Gump's in San Francisco. As you know, our company is over two hundred years old, and we have always ..."The voice droned on. Gene was only vaguely aware of what the salesman was saying. His eyes were focused downstairs, watching the graceful, fluid movements of the tall, slender, Nordic-like Janet Morgan, whose shining hair cascaded down her back. "She looks like one of those Breck Shampoo ads," he mentally said to himself, as the sun backlighted her hair, making it look as though it were radiantly aglow with hidden inner lights. He continued to watch as she held out an expensive bronze antique vase to a middle-aged woman customer, and the movement caused the sun to silhouette the upthrust of her ripe, firm breasts straining against the black and gold silk print dress. Everything about her was notable, he thought. Her mouth was wide and generous, and her lips were full, without blemish. The eyes were a startling Arctic blue, but there was nothing glacierlike about the fires that burned within them. Actually, all things reconsidered, probably breasts and legs were her best features. The breasts were much fuller now than they had been in high school, fuller, riper, firmer ... or at least they appeared to be. The legs were long ... very long ... with gently rounded calves and spectacular thighs that were shown off to good advantage by the silk crepe dress that clung lovingly to them. But then O'Hare mused about it again. "Maybe her best feature is her ass. How very, very sexy those buttocks are ... moving with a life of their own under that dress. Oh, how I would dearly love to buy expensive clothes for her, to dress her, and then ... slowly ... undress her..-.."Gene came back to reality when the Chinaman closed his presentation book with a sigh of distress and stood."I'm sorry," Gene said, sincerely, "I didn't hear what you said."Charles Lee smiled ruefully. "It was not important, Mr. O'Hare. You obviously have many other things on your mind. Perhaps I should make an appointment for another day?"For a moment, Gene was angry with himself. He was letting business slip,' all because of his infatuation with Janice Morgan. She had been working for him now over a month and a half, and each day it became more and more difficult to concentrate on business. She had been warmly polite and friendly with him ... but aloof. And that bothered him. He could sense she was not happy with her marriage. He sensed there was something ... some hungry need for something ... within her. He also knew ... beyond a doubt ... that he had a need of her! He had vigorously fucked five different passionate women during the last three weeks, yet he had dreamed of Janice Morgan for four nights running. Each dream had been a wet dream, which gave some indication of his urgency.As if the dreams at night weren't bad enough, lately there had been the business of sitting up here in his office and staring down at her ... watching Janice's every movement, and daydreaming delicious little fantasies where he knelt between those creamy widespread thighs and paid homage to that hidden pink shrine of love ... or where she lay completely nude beneath him, her eyes glazed in passion, her mouth open and gasping like a fish out of water. These daydreams were occurring with increasing frequency and at the worst times. Like now, when he should have been paying attention to the salesman. After all, the jade collection was going to require a minimum investment of twenty-five thousand dollars of the firm's money. That was a lot of cash ... too much to permit oneself to daydream about screwing the hired help.Gene stood and eased the Chinaman back into his chair. "I'm sorry, Mr. Lee. As you suggested, I have had other things on my mind. However, that doesn't influence my decision. I'm honored that Empress China Jade would consider O'Hare's important enough to be included with Gump's and Nieman-Marcus. If you and I can come to some arrangement concerning inventory and special orders and display space, we would very much like to become one of your distributors."The two men smiled and nodded at each other, then settled down to work out the many details. It was after five when they finally hammered out the last agreement concerning the amount of insurance to be carried and the type of safety vault to be installed.When he had been left alone finally, Gene glanced at his watch and was surprised to see that it was closing time, and that a heavy fog had crept into the city sometime during the last two hours. As though some silent bell had rung, Dorothy, the manageress, pulled the shade at the front door and began turning off the store lights. Gene saw her pause, frown at something out of place in the display window, and then make some minor adjustment ... straightening the item ... before turning on the nightlights in the window. A moment later, three of the girls waved up to him from the door and disappeared into the fog.Gene twisted his head and glanced at the mirror which served as an inverted periscope permitting him to watch the main counter and come down to help if the girls became too busy. The setup also allowed the girls to know where he was in case someone wanted him for something. The one glance now showed Janice standing beside the cash register, filing the charge slips for the day. He felt a familiar tingling sensation at the head of his cock, and suddenly his throat was dry and his heart hammering because he knew that he was going to ask her to stay behind tonight when the others left. It was with a sense of detached amusement that he saw his hand actually trembling when he reached for the store telephone. "Christ," he chided himself, "you're acting like a scared junior high school kid asking a girl out for his first date." Gene knew, however, that he felt more than just fright. There was the element of uncertainty, together with an overwhelming feeling of anticipation. How would she react? Maybe she had other plans? She had been aloof ... not unfriendly, but standoffish ... ever since she came to work. Did she dislike him for what he. had done eight years ago? She had been very fond of him when she was a senior in high school and he a junior at San Jose State College. And, after all, she was married. Could a hot fire extinguished for eight years be rekindled?Watching her through the mirror, Gene punched the intercom button on the telephone. He saw Janice start in surprise as the shrill buzzer shattered the stillness of the store. She laid down the charge slips and picked up the telephone.Her voice, when it came over the line, merely increased his desire, even though all she said was, "Yes, sir?" A slight weariness had made her voice just a bit hoarse, and the whispered quality was like velvet against the head of his prick."Janice," he began, and chose his words carefully, "could you stay for a couple of minutes tonight? I'd like to discuss something with you."In the mirror, he saw puzzlement cross her face, but it was a momentary thing ... and quickly followed by a noncommittal expression. "Yes ... I can stay if you need me," she said."Fine. Come on up to the office when you finish." He hung up the receiver, then leaned back in his chair and began rocking to and fro slowly. Mentally now, the uncertainty was gaining the upper hand. He had known instinctively for over a month that sooner or later he was going to try to seduce her, but he had planned to do it in sur-roundings more conducive to seduction. Soft lights, soft music, booze, a dance or two, and conversation. Well, maybe that's the way it will be anyway. Maybe I'll ask her to have dinner with me. And if she refuses? He couldn't bear to think about that! No, it wouldn't happen. He was glib enough to have her go at least to dinner with him, and have the invitation look as if it were strictly business. He might not be able to talk her into bed tonight, but over dinner ... yes, even if she was married.Impatiently, he watched as first Dorothy and then the remaining girl left. A few moments later, he heard Janice's high heels climbing up the stairs to his loft.When she came into his office, Gene stood, walked around the desk, and pulled out a low, Swedish leather chair for her. She paused for a moment, standing silently and expectantly next to him, her head cocked to one side questioningly. Her eyes were on a level with his eyes, her mouth on a level with his. Suddenly, in his brain, it was as though a photoflash bulb had been shot off illuminating a scene, for Gene abruptly remembered her standing next to him one day eight summers ago.Her parents had gone to Yosemite on a Vacation, leaving Janice behind. They necked in the front room, then ... hearts pounding ... they were in her bedroom, the first time he had ever made it into this no-man's-land. The room was hot for she had earlier, and with forethought, pulled down the shades, shutting off the flow of air. They kissed, they nuzzled, and their hands sought the warmth of each other's body. Their outer clothes were soon on a heap on the floor, followed shortly by their undergarments. Kisses grew wilder, more urgent, as his middle finger teased along the desire-wet cuntal lips. Her hand had tremblingly encircled his painfully throbbing prick, and then they had lain down side by side ... face to face, tongue-kissing. Her hand regained the stroking rhythm on his cock, and he felt as if he were going out of his mind with joy. His finger working in contact-with her clitoris had brought a loud gasping moan, of relief bubbling from her lips. At the same moment his prick had swollen like a sun in the first stage of novating, and then spat its hot load of semen all over her naked young belly and breasts. He had sought entry to her vagina, but she refused. The next afternoon, the scene had been repeated, with only one variation: this time Janice had pressed his spurting cock against the lips of her excitedly twitching pussy and held it there until it had stopped its heavy throbbing. That evening, returning from a drive-in theater, she actually permitted him to make a penetration as far as her hymen and let him cum there just up inside her. Gene had known, instinctively, that the next time she would urge him to go all the way. But that time had been the last timo- Gene went home from her house to find am ambulance flashing its red semaphore of dread outside his house. Three days later, without ever regaining consciousness, his father finally died ... and O'Hare's Store with all its awesome responsibilities had been exclusively his. The morning following his father's funeral, he was forced to fly to New York on imperative business. He promised Janice to write or call every day, but his days were filled with merchandising meetings ... and his evenings were unexpectantly, but pleasantly, taken care of by a hot little Brandeis University co-ed who, within three hours of meeting him had given him his first blow job. On subsequent nights she taught him some of the more refined variations of exotic sex ... East Coast style. So busy was he that Gene never did get around to writing or telephoning. His duties kept him in New York for over a month and a half. Return to San Sebastiano had not been until mid-September, and by that time a hurt and bewildered Janice, in order to keep her pride, had begun dating Dan Morgan, a city fireman. One look at Janice's defiant, guilty expression and Dan's overly protective, overbearing attitude, and Gene had known that the gift she had once offered him had been gladly taken by another male.Now, as if reading his thoughts, Janice suddenly blushed. Some of her cool poise left her as she sat down. The chair was one of those typical black leather and chrome steel Swedish pieces of furniture that look sleek and feel comfortable, but were never designed for women who wear miniskirts. It was really much too low for any female to sit properly. The seat, instead of sloping upward at a slight angle, actually was parallel with the floor. That meant that knees were higher than the buttocks, and skirts slipped up to an alarming degree. A long-legged female really had problems. Janice's blush deepened when she realized that a frilly black lace garter belt proudly framing cream-colored inner thighs could plainly be seen above the tops of her sheer nylons. She tugged her hem and the delicious golden flesh disappeared from Gene's view. As brief a time as it was, though, the sight was enough to start Gene's prick crawling in urgent desire.He went around behind his own desk and sat down. Just as he had suspected, the view from here was even better. It was quite impossible for her to hide everything. He tried to appear nonchalant, but her bare upper thighs and Ming yellow and black, lace panties were there before him, like visions seen dimly in a warm and inviting cave or an unlighted art gallery.Janice had grown uncomfortable under his glance, and now two glowing red spots of embarrassment appeared on her cheekbones. She was the first to break the silence. "What ... what was it you wanted to see me about, Mr. O'Hare?"He laughed. "Mr. O'Hare. Ah ... come on now! I'm Gene. Remember?" Here again he was breaking a long-established rule. All of the women employees had always addressed him as they had addressed his fattier, as "Mr. O'Hare." Gene had never encouraged any of them to call him by his first name, thus his father's tradition had continued.The invitation did not put Janice at ease, if anything it seemed to add to her uncertainty. She didn't answer, however, merely sat there patiently waiting for him to explain why this meeting had been called.Gene was beginning to feel foolish about the sit- uation, foolish and a little angry at his own unexpected lack of savoir faire. Finally he leaned back in his chair, put hands together, and made a temple out of his fingertips. "I wanted to see you, Janice, to find out how things are going ... to see if you're happy here at the store. I mean, you've been here a month and a half now. Are you ... ah ... satisfied with working conditions ... "That did it, he thought. She visibly relaxed, and now a tremulous smile skipped across her face. She sat back in the chair, but not forgetting to tug at the rebellious hemline again."Everything's fine," she said, huskily. "I'm very happy here.""That's great. No complaints at all?" She shook her head from side to side, and her yellow hair moved like golden seaweed doing a slow ballet with the tide. "Everything's just fine," she repeated.Gene smiled at her, thinking again how fabulous her body was. It was true, beyond a doubt, that the eight summers since they had lain together as children had ripened her like good wine. Her breasts were fuller, her legs more finely honed. Her hair was longer, but it was the same rich color. It was her color, her true color ... and he knew it was perfectly matched by a golden mink pelt that thrived in that warm smooth flesh above her pussy. "How I would love to bury my face in that fur now, to feel its softness tickling my nose to use my tongue on that sweet cunt!" Gene thought. Once again, something in his expression had given him away, and Janice tensed and blushed once more. She seemed almost to have attempted to push herself deeper into the chair, as if she were a beautiful wild animal frightened by li- the approach of man.Gene decided to use another tactic. He threw up his hands, palms upward, and gave her his most boyish smile. "Look. I lied to get you up here. I knew everything was going okay with you at the store. I've been watching you." And he mentally added, with a pain in his groin, "Love, if you only knew how much, how often, I've been watching..."Something happened to her face. The aloofness evaporated and there was just the slightest suggestion of a smile pulling up one corner of her mouth. A dimple appeared, quivered, disappeared.Gene said, "Well ... damnit! I don't know how to say this. Frankly ... I was lonely. I wanted to talk to someone ... no, not 'someone,' you!""All right," she said softly, almost inaudibly."Are you happy?" he blurted out, and immediately mentally kicked himself for jumping the gun.Janice saved it for him, though. She said, as if she didn't understand, "I'm very happy here."He backed off and tried again. "There's something bothering me. Why did you come to work here? I would have thought you'd be ... ah ... ah...""Embarrassed?"He nodded.She smiled sadly. "I was in the beginning. I guess I still am. I needed a job, though ... and it was either here or the telephone company. I just couldn't see being cooped all day in a building and talking to people over the telephone ... never seeing them ... you know, sort of being disembodied, a human computer thing..." She shrugged. "Besides, O'Hare's pays more than the phone company, and I don't have to drive fifteen miles each way to work.""You said you were still embarrassed. Why?" She looked directly at him. "I don't know." It sounded like the truth, probably was the truth. "Because of what we did before?" He held his breath. It could all go wrong here if she hated him.She thought about it for a second, then shook her head. "No. There was nothing wrong about what we did together. It's natural, I guess. We were young. We didn't do anything bad.""Because of me, then? Not writing? Or calling?"She shrugged again. "If you'd felt strongly enough about the situation, you would have called." There was something in her voice that sounded as if she didn't believe her own statement, and an echo of a half-forgotten pain.They both sat in silence for a moment, then Gene repeated his earlier question. "Are you happy ... ""Dan is a very fine man.""That doesn't answer my question."Once again there was that direct stare at him, only this time Gene thought he saw a trace of mistiness in her eyes together with just a hint of hurt and bewilderment. She swallowed, and then, abruptly, she stood. "I think I'd better go," she said without warning.Quickly Gene stood up and came around his desk. "No. Don't go. Please? I'm sorry if I... if I intruded."She refused to look at him now, and he knew that somehow or another he had probed into a painful area for her ... an area she would not and could not discuss with anyone. And he knew, too, that she was terribly vulnerable.For a split second Gene had an almost irrepressible desire to reach out and cup her lovely, down-turned chin in his hand and turn her face toward him. That, though, would be a little too familiar; besides, he wasn't sure he would be able to control himself if he did do that. Her lips would be slightly parted; he'd try to kiss her, and that might really screw up the deal."Look," he said with false brightness, "I got off to a bad start. Let's have a drink, and I promise not to butt in on your personal life again." He didn't wait for her answer, merely walked over to the waist-high, ebony bar and stood behind it. "What'll you have?"Janice looked indecisive. Twice she glanced toward the street as if weighing the advisability of leaving. Then she turned to him and nodded quickly. "Just one.""Right. What's your favorite? I make the best martini in the entire state."She dimpled. "You always were a braggart, O'Hare. But I'll try one." She walked to the bar and stood watching him.Neither spoke as he mixed the cocktail and swirled it in the ice. There was a new feeling of warmth between them ... caused probably by their proximity and the fact that both were standing now ... and thus equals ... separated only by a counter.He poured the martinis into two frosted cocktail glasses, then expertly twisted a piece of lemon peel over each and placed an olive in them. Gene held up his glass in a toast, "To old times," he said, and for a second he thought he had made another mistake.Finally, Janice touched her glass to his. She sipped then nodded. "Ummm. Good."There is something about the chemical amalgamation of good gin and dry vermouth that almost immediately dissolves any reticence between a man and woman. Thus it was that within a couple of minutes Janice and Gene were chatting away comfortably. They discussed old-friends, kids they had known in high school, young marrieds who had split apart or remained together, movies, the theater, and music. And through it all ... watching her, listening to her ... Gene felt a growing sense of astonishment. It was as though she were starved for conversation ... as though she were indescribably alone ... as though she had been cast away on some flyspeck of an island by herself with no one to talk to for years. But his own reaction to her presence amazed him even morel He found himself running emotionally with her, traversing peaks and gullies of joy and sorrow at the world. His rampant desire had been muted momentarily; it was as though some vague, barely understood, metamorphosis had occurred and he no longer wanted to "fuck" her ... but to make slow and gentle love to her. It was a feeling he had seldom experienced.If Janice noticed when he went back around behind the bar to mix another martini, she did not give any indication of refusal. The second martini called for cigarettes midway through the drink, and a mellow mood of warm reflective silence came upon them.She had almost finished her second drink when Gene said, "I'm sorry." Janice blinked and tilted her head to one side."Sorry? For what?""For not calling or writing when I went to New York that time."Janice looked down and twirled the stem of her glass between her long slender fingers. She stared at the brittle reflection of her diamond engagement ring, at the muted gold of her wedding band. She shrugged and said in a voice so low that it was difficult to hear her exact words, "No need to be sorry. You ... and I... we didn't have any understanding. You were free... I was, too." She continued to stare at her rings."Were we?"She didn't answer.Almost automatically, without thinking about what he was doing, Gene began mixing another batch of martinis. No sound came from the fog-enshrouded streets outside; the only noise was a thin tinkling as ice cubes swirled around inside the glass container. He poured.Janice took a deep sigh, then smiled wryly. "No more after this," she said, and then reached over for one of the unused, tall bar stools and pulled it over toward her. She didn't sit on it completely, merely used part of the black leather bucket seat to rest her buttocks against. She glanced down, then lifted one heel and locked it on the bottom rung of the stool. The other foot remained firmly planted on the floor. It was a pose of complete relaxation, but it was also an extremely revealing one for the man on the other side of the bar.Gene had to force his eyes away from her legs and thighs. There was something terribly sensual about the way she sat there ... one leg on the floor, the other slightly spread and lifted from the floor. He could walk right up there between those legs, and use his hips and thighs to spread them even further. The treasure was there, still hidden, but oh so beautifully evident!Surprisingly, it was Janice who got really personal first. She held out a cigarette for him to light, then blew smoke across the bar. Without warning, she asked, "Why haven't you ever married, Gene?"The question threw him momentarily. Finally he said, "I never considered marrying anyone but you." Actually, it was the truth. When the two of them had been going together that summer, he had been so enamored of her body that he was willing to marry her ... had planned to ask her to marry him. But then he had discovered the joys and availability of single sex, and marriage faded into insignificance. After all, marriage means sex with one woman, being single means sex with as many women as you can get.He moved from behind the bar and walked right up next to her. Her skirt had slipped up a bit further, and now he could plainly see the silver snaps holding up her nylons, the little red roses embroidered on her black lace garter belt, and the smooth warm flesh of her upper thighs. It was possible to reach down there right now and cup the soft silken triangle of her vagina in his hand, without even touching her skirt. The vision of doing that caused his prick to stir from its uneasy slumber. Life-giving blood pounded through the veins and arteries of his maledom, and the cock began to elongate and thicken. "You were the only one," he said, softly."Don't lie to me, Gene," she said, and it was a combination of an order and a plea."I'm not lying. I never considered marrying anyone but you." He stared at her, defying her to correct him, putting as much sincerity in his gaze as he could.Janice blinked, her lips parted slightly, and she swallowed with difficulty. "Don't say that then. Not even if it is the truth." Then she turned her face away, refusing to look at his direct gaze any longer, and stared at an abstract painting behind the bar. The movement caused her dress to pull in tighter at the bodice and her breasts seemed to strain against the confinement. Gene's eyes feasted on the mouth-watering sight and his erection grew even more powerful. It was all he could do at the moment to keep from running his hands up and down those smooth, nylon-encased inner thighs, all he could do to keep from bending forward and kissing that graceful curve of her neck ... all he could do to keep from gently pushing her golden hair back from those shell-like ears and nibbling at the tiny, sensitive lobes.He had actually begun to bend forward when Janice turned back to him. "Damn you," she said, and this time misery and anger were both fighting for domination of her eyes. "Damn you! Why didn't you call? I waited and I waited ... and I waited. I wanted you so much." Tears welled up and muted the blue of her eyes. "I thought I was going to die when you left, I wanted you so badly. Then you didn't call ... or write. I cried and I cried and I cried, and, finally, I kind of died, I guess." She sniffed and used the back of her wrist to wipe away one tear. "Then Mom said I was a fool and I should start dating other fellows. I did. I accepted a date with Dan. That first night... he didn't ask, or anything. He just took ... and I let him take whatever he wanted. After all, no one else wanted it." A convulsive sob shook her body'.Without saying a word, Gene carefully reached over, removed the lighted cigarette from her fingers, and crushed it out in the ashtray. Then he took her martini glass. They stared at each other and then with a groan, he stepped forward between her knees and put his arms around her.