L as in Love (Book Three) - Ruth Gogoll - ebook

L as in Love (Book Three) ebook

Ruth Gogoll



The Sappho Café treats its women extremely well. Now, if life would only do the same. Rebekka and Carolin have achieved happy coupledom ... almost. Marlene is still making money banging around in porn flicks - which sometimes lets her forget that she'd rather be driving her truck. Sabrina and Chris, who always appeared to be the dream couple, seem to be trying to work out their problems. Thea continues to break hearts - sometimes a man's, sometimes a woman's, sometimes, her own. Melly's friends are surprised when her secret past catches up with her ... And Melly's sister Silvia experiences, in the hardest way, that fate can be cruel. Ultimately, though, there's plenty of love to go around, and in L as in Love: Book Three, the lucky professors and pupils who encounter each other outside of class realize that their deepest interests can be mutual beyond the halls of academe, as well.

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Ruth Gogoll


Book Three

© 2012édition el!es

www.elles-books.com [email protected]

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form whatsoever.

ISBN 978-3-95609-181-0

Translated from the German bySusan Way

Cover illustration: © ag visuell – Fotolia.com

Chapter 1

   Peep Peep   

In the desolate neighborhood close to the train station, Marlene stood in front of a shabby building, considering the photos in the storefront’s display case.

Pictures of garishly made-up women whose real faces were hardly recognizable underneath. That was nothing special – she saw that every day when she was on the set.

But because these women here were not her colleagues, at least not directly, she could hope for a bit more . . . excitement from them. Carmen had been right; she’d really been missing that lately, the excitement, the genuine arousal, not just what they faked for the camera.

A bordello was out of the question for her; the only customers allowed through the door were men. But a peep show – no one could forbid her entrance there.

She walked through a dark, tiled tunnel that smelled like a bathroom where men can’t quite find their way to the toilet, until she came to the entrance of a former movie theater. The old cinema palace now housed cubicles for – usually – men who wished to pay a few Euros for a close-up view of a woman’s private parts.

Marlene looked at the line of doors to the cubicles. Most of them stood open; it was still early in the day. She chose one and went inside. She made a face at the smell, much the same as the usual odor of sperm and male sweat in the studio when she was filming. But here, in this close space, the odor was even thicker, really unbearable. It clung to every fiber.

Marlene was tough, though. She sat on the chair that had been placed in front of a now-shuttered window. The chair was sticky, but she didn’t let that deter her.

She pulled her wallet out of her pants pocket and took a couple of Euros out. Acknowledging the absurdity of spending the money she earned on pornos here, she stuck a coin in the slot.

The shutter opened. In the middle of the small stage, a woman was spreading her legs in front of another customer’s window. Marlene could only see her back. The woman heard the shutter of Marlene’s cubicle opening and turned around.

She danced with simulated lust toward Marlene’s window, spread her thighs again, and presented her crotch to the glistening pane.

Then she turned around, presented her behind, and pulled her labia apart so that Marlene could see almost all the way inside her.

Marlene unfastened her pants and slid a hand into her underwear. Suddenly, she froze. The performer had seated herself right in front of Marlene’s window, and now she could see her face.


So this was her second job.

And the shutter closed; her time was up.

Marlene sat there with her hand in her pants, immobilized and slightly bewildered. She had come here to see other women, and now she was seeing the one she did it with every day . . .

She shook her head vigorously, as if to clear her thoughts.

Like an automaton, she pulled out the next coin and tossed it into the slot.

The shutter opened once more. Carmen had turned away again, to face another new customer. It seemed that business was starting to pick up now. Carmen could no longer give so much individual attention to each one and tried to stay in the center of the stage and turn so that everyone could see something.

Marlene watched her, but the hand in her pants remained still. She knew every inch of Carmen’s body too well. Not the least bit was unknown to her. And she’d explored all those bits in much more depth than was possible here.

She pulled her hand out of her pants and closed the zipper. This was a total failure. Why hadn’t Carmen wanted to tell her about this second job? There was nothing to it, really. In fact, it was rather innocuous compared to what they often did in the studio.

Surely, Carmen would turn over the stage to a colleague at some point, but Marlene didn’t feel like waiting that long. And in any case, her lust had quite faded.

That was a new feeling for her, one she’d experienced often lately. She took a deep breath and grimaced again at the smell, which was bothering her even more than it had when she arrived.

There was a time when she couldn’t have imagined this happening. She was always in the mood, more often than she had women to satisfy her. She could go from zero to sixty in a second if necessary – if it had to be a quickie.

At truck stops along the highway, she often hadn’t had much time. The schedule was tight. The rest stop bathroom or the cabin of her tractor-trailer had to suffice for the few minutes she did have. The waitress – or whoever it might be – climbed in, didn’t even bother to undress all the way, just exposed the necessary parts, and Marlene got her needs satisfied in the shortest amount of time possible.

Once again, she took a deep breath and sighed. Those had been really good times. Nothing like now, with lots of sex, and no satisfaction. What a topsy-turvy world.

Her nose wrinkled. The smell had become so repulsive that she decided she couldn’t stay any longer. She cast one last glance at Carmen, and when the shutter closed, she opted not to waste another coin.

She stood up and left.

Chapter 2

   Twinkling in the Dark   

“Company dress code . . . your job is nothing special . . . you just sit in an office all day . . .” Carolin wagged a chastising finger. “Good grief, you fed me a big one . . .”

“But it’s true,” Rebekka defended herself. “Almost all day long I sit in an office. At a desk – or in one meeting or another. And the suit . . . well, I have to wear it.”

“Because you’re the head of a humongous family business,” Carolin chided her. “Not because your boss requires you to.”

“What’s the difference?” asked Rebekka. “Either way, I can’t sit here in bike shorts.”

Carolin laughed and shook her head. Then she sat on Rebekka’s lap and looked at her tenderly. “It makes no difference to me how you’re dressed. I’d love you in any wrapping.” She bent forward and kissed Rebekka softly on the mouth.

Rebekka’s eyes sparkled in the light of the desk lamp. “Don’t do that to me,” she said quietly. “I still have to work.”

“And I’m keeping you from it.” Carolin stood up. “As always.”

“I’m sorry . . .” Rebekka swallowed. “You know –”

“I know.” Carolin sighed. “Your secretary went home hours ago, and I came over here after working a ton of overtime myself . . . but you’re still sitting here, behind your desk, and you think that’s normal.”

“There’s just . . . so much . . . to do,” Rebekka defended herself guiltily.

“Was the romantic moonrise an exception?” asked Carolin. “Just to win me over? And now you’re going back to business as usual?” When she saw Rebekka’s expression, she slid back onto her lap. “I’m sorry,” she whispered and nipped at Rebekka’s lips. “I didn’t mean that. But I almost never see you. I miss you.”

Rebekka swallowed again. “I miss you, too,” she replied hoarsely. “Every minute that I can’t see you is torture for me. But what am I supposed to do? I have no choice.”

“You’ll be late for our own wedding . . . if it ever actually happens,” remarked Carolin. “I’m afraid you won’t be able to fit it into your full schedule.”

“Oh, don’t worry – I can.” Suddenly, Rebekka laughed. “Or my secretary can. She’ll manage that much. And I always keep appointments.” Tentatively, she ran a hand over Carolin’s breast. “I would love so much to stop working right now,” she whispered, her voice full of desire.

“Then do it,” Carolin whispered back, pressing herself against Rebekka.

“I can’t,” Rebekka murmured. “But maybe . . . a brief interruption.” She lifted Carolin onto the desk.

Carolin shut her eyes. “Please, not on the desk, Rebekka. Please don’t . . .” she breathed. All of a sudden, she was seeing Ina before her again, who had tried the same thing. It brought back memories she preferred to forget.

Rebekka contemplated her face. “That would mess up all of my paperwork, too. You’re right,” she said. She smiled, caressing Carolin’s cheek fondly.

Carolin opened her eyes. “I’m sorry.” She swallowed. “It has nothing to do with you, I just –”

Rebekka laid a finger across her lips. “Shh. You don’t have to explain anything.”

Carolin hugged her and snuggled closer. “I love you so much, Rebekka,” she whispered, “but it wasn’t all that long ago that –”

Again, Rebekka interrupted her. “I understand that very well,” she replied softly. She caressed Carolin gently. Then she pushed herself away slightly, so that Carolin could slide down from the desk. “I have something for you,” she said, sliding open a desk drawer. “Please, don’t throw it at my feet. That would be a shame.” She withdrew a small box and handed it to Carolin. “Open it.”

Carolin looked at the box skeptically, and after brief consideration, she opened it. She focused on the contents and then looked up. “Did your secretary pick this out?” she asked with some effort. “You don’t have time for that sort of thing.”

Rebekka’s mouth twisted with amusement. “No, it wasn’t my secretary. It was my mother’s engagement ring. She gave it to me – for you.”

“She’s insane,” Carolin breathed, looking at the ring once more. Then she looked at Rebekka. “You’re insane,” she added, a little more firmly. “The both of you. It’s worth a fortune.”

“I’m sure it wasn’t cheap when my father bought it,” Rebekka admitted. “But that’s not the point. I could’ve given you a ring from a gumball machine. But this one is more comfortable to wear.” She grinned.

“Well, then, if that’s all . . .” Carolin had to laugh. Again, she considered the ring nestled in the blue satin. “It’s beautiful,” she said softly. She could hardly find her voice. “Unbelievably beautiful.”

“Eight carats,” said Rebekka. “My mother probably wouldn’t have accepted anything larger.” She laughed. “But it’s absolutely flawless.”

Carolin was still stunned. “Yeah, sure, only eight carats . . .”

“And cut in a unique design,” Rebekka continued. “My father had it custom-cut by the best diamond cutter in Amsterdam, to a very particular style. There’s no other ring like it in the world.”

Carolin regarded the ring once more, closed the box, and gave it back to Rebekka. “I can’t accept this, Rebekka. I don’t earn as much in a whole year as this would cost. In several years.”

“You don’t have to pay for it, you know.” Rebekka looked at her pleadingly. “It’s only a gesture. I want to show you, with this, how . . .” she swallowed . . . “how important you are to me.”

“A very expensive gesture,” Carolin countered. “You can’t do that, Rebekka. I can’t accept anything from you that I couldn’t have paid for myself. Otherwise I’d feel like –”

Rebekka took a deep breath and turned the box over in her hands. “Like one of the women I used to date, who would’ve taken this ring with pleasure,” she continued. She sighed. “Things really are not easy with you.” She opened the box. “Even if you don’t want to have it, I’d . . . I’d love so much to put it on you once,” she said quietly. She grimaced uncertainly. “Just to see how it looks. On your hand.” She took the ring out and held it in her fingers.

Carolin hesitated. Then she capitulated. “Okay,” she said. “But afterwards, you’re putting it right back in your desk.”

“I promise,” said Rebekka. She took Carolin’s hand, caressed it, and slid the gold-mounted gems slowly onto Carolin’s ring finger.

Carolin felt as though she was about to faint. She’d never felt anything like it before. She didn’t know why. It was just a ring, after all.

“It fits,” said Rebekka. “Like it was made for you.” She smiled at Carolin.

Carolin’s knees gave out; she couldn’t do anything to stop it, and sank to the carpet.

“Oh, God . . .” Rebekka quickly knelt down next to her. “What’s wrong? Are you dizzy?” She looked at Carolin with concern.

“You knew it.” Carolin’s voice was barely a breath. She cleared her throat. “You knew what effect that would have.” She raised her eyebrows.

Rebekka laughed with relief. Thank God, nothing serious had happened to Carolin. “No,” she said. “No one’s ever given me anything like that, and the women I’ve known before –” She broke off. “No,” she repeated. “I didn’t have the faintest idea what a stunning effect it would have on you.”

“Stunning in the truest sense of the word,” sighed Carolin. “How embarrassing.”

“Oh, no.” Rebekka bent over her and brushed her lips with a kiss. “Sweet. It’s sweet, that’s all.” She smiled. “Just like you are.”

Carolin shook her head slightly. “And you are impossible.” She lifted an arm and wrapped it around Rebekka’s neck. “Irresistibly impossible,” she added in a whisper, pulling Rebekka closer.

Rebekka let herself sink down lightly on top of Carolin. “Is the carpet soft enough?” she asked, very quietly. Her eyes scanned Carolin’s face.

“Yes,” whispered Carolin. “Soft enough for everything.”

Rebekka’s hands wandered across Carolin’s body and began to undress her.

Chapter 3

   Lost Days   

“I’m pregnant, Chris.” Sabrina’s toneless voice floated toward Chris from the doorway.

Chris’s head shot up. She was so surprised, she couldn’t say a word.

Sabrina folded her hands and looked at her. “I . . . I – If you want, I’ll leave. I can’t ask you to – Not again.” She turned around and walked quickly back into the living room.

Chris, still speechless, jumped up and followed her. “Sabrina, I . . . no . . . by whom?” she finally stammered.

Sabrina sat down on the couch, which she was now using as a bed. “I have no idea,” she answered in a breathy voice, barely audible.

“You have . . . no idea?” Chris swallowed.

Sabrina looked up with a disdainful grunt. “What do you think? That there were so many, I don’t even know who the father might be?”

Chris stared at her, speechless once more.

Sabrina took a deep breath. “Maybe you’re right,” she said. Again, she exhaled forcefully. “Probably,” she added soberly. She stood up. “I can’t expect you to accept this,” she said. “I thought we could – but it’s not going to work.”

“I . . . Sabrina . . .” Chris came toward her and made a gesture as though she wanted to take her into her arms.

Sabrina flinched. “Don’t, Chris,” she said softly. “I can’t.”

“Why not?” Chris remained standing and looked at her in torment. “What happened?”

Sabrina shut her eyes, opened them again, and cast an almost uninterested glance at Chris. “What else?” she answered coolly. “That which results in a baby.”

“But before, you never . . . with men . . .” Chris was in shock.

“Apparently, I changed my mind,” said Sabrina. She sighed again in a gesture of finality. “Let’s not talk about it anymore. This – obviously – has nothing to do with you.”

“Not with Anna, either,” said Chris.

“No, not with Anna, either. I have to deal with it myself.” Sabrina suddenly seemed quite detached. “Neither of you can help me with that.”

“What . . . what do you want to do?” asked Chris. She felt completely derailed.

“Abort it,” Sabrina answered impassively, as though she’d made this decision a long time before. “Anything else is out of the question, really.”

“But . . . but – It was always your greatest wish, to have a child.” Chris sat down on a chair. She didn’t know how Sabrina was managing it, but she herself no longer had the strength to stand.

“With you,” countered Sabrina. “Not –”

“Is that why you did it?” Chris gave her an understanding look. “Because it would’ve been so difficult for us to conceive a child?” She beheld Sabrina inquiringly, but she said nothing, just stood there. “I would understand that,” Chris went on gently. “You don’t have to –”

“I don’t have to be ashamed, is that what you mean?” Sabrina interrupted, her attitude completely snide. “Because I slept with a man – or with several men – in order to achieve that goal? What we’ve wished for, for so long?”

“Sabrina . . .” Chris stood up. She wanted urgently to touch Sabrina now, to take her in her arms, but she knew that that would only make things worse. So she simply stood there. “It’s the simplest way.”

Sabrina gave a hollow laugh. “Yeah, millions of women do it every day, right?”

“Yes,” Chris replied calmly. “Millions of women do it every day. There’s nothing wrong with it.”

Sabrina threw her head back in despair, closed her eyes, and stopped like that for a moment. She looked at Chris again. Then she lowered her head and laid her face in her hands. “But we’re not like those millions of women,” she replied dully.

“But . . . if . . .” Chris swallowed. “If we’d done it, you would still have had to . . . be inseminated,” she managed with some effort.

Sabrina stared at her. “Do you really think that’s the same thing?”

Chris’s head sank. “No,” she said quietly. “It’s not.” She raised her head again and regarded Sabrina’s face with concern. “Don’t start beating up on yourself again,” she said. “Please don’t . . .” She reached a hand out toward Sabrina without touching her. “That doesn’t lead anywhere.”

“Or it leads to horrible things.” Sabrina amended Chris’ comment so absentmindedly, Chris might not even have been there.

“What . . . horrible things?” Chris asked with a gulp.

Sabrina seemed to wake from a dream. “Oh, nothing,” she said. “To an unwanted pregnancy, for example. I didn’t intend to say more than that.”

“Sabrina . . .” Chris took a step toward her, still without touching her. “Since you . . . came back, we’ve never talked. Not really. This, today, is the first time we’ve discussed anything beyond the grocery list. Do you want it to stay that way? Is that your wish? And if it is, why did you come back?”

Sabrina looked at her for a long time. “I don’t know,” she said finally. “I don’t even know how –” She swayed on her feet.

Chris leapt to her side and caught her. Sabrina didn’t push her away this time. She hung in Chris’ arms like a lifeless doll, yet she wasn’t unconscious.

“There’s no point to any of it,” she whispered weakly.

“Yes there is.” Chris let her sink slowly onto the couch. “There is a point. The point of my life is that I love you . . . that I have the privilege of loving you. And before –”

“Before.” Sabrina looked up at her from below. “What came before is over, Chris. It’s never coming back.”

“Never?” Chris looked down at her in agony.

“Never,” Sabrina repeated hopelessly. “Too much has happened.”

“You don’t love me anymore?” Chris asked, her voice hollow.

Sabrina turned her head to the side. “Chris,” she said in a choked whisper. “Oh, my God, Chris, why are you asking me that?”

“Haven’t you asked yourself that often enough already?” Chris countered. “Why else did you leave? Why was there a reason for you to leave?”

“Because I was weak,” Sabrina breathed. “Much too weak to do right by you.”

Chris shook her head. “You’ve always done right by me, and more. Where did you get an idea like that?” She swallowed. “I always felt much more like I couldn’t . . . do right by you. You’re such a . . . wonderful woman. Much too wonderful for me.” And if I’d done right by her, she wouldn’t have needed to go to Anna, she thought. The ultimate proof that I wasn’t good enough for her.

“I know that you . . .” Sabrina turned her head back to face her, “love me,” she said very softly. “But I’m not . . . worthy of that love. And now you see the proof of that.”

“Damn it, Sabsi!” Chris could no longer endure it. Her insides were exploding with despair. “Stop that, for God’s sake!” She leaned over Sabrina, took her by the shoulders, and shook her.

Sabrina froze. She went stiff as a board . . . seemed to withdraw inside herself . . . didn’t defend herself.

Chris let go of her. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, taken aback. She straightened up and ran a hand through her hair. “I didn’t mean to do that. Please forgive me.” She looked at Sabrina, and sat down next to her on the couch without touching her. She considered her closed, faraway face. “We can’t give up,” she said, trying to sound encouraging even though she didn’t much feel that way herself. “Everything was always so easy – ever since we met. So wonderful. Much too easy, perhaps. Now we have to pay the price.” She took a deep breath. “But I think we’ve paid enough. It’s over. We’re even with fate now. Don’t you think?”

It took a while before life came back into Sabrina. If one could even call it that. She stared at the ceiling. “I’m expecting a baby, Chris. How can it be over?” Her voice sounded so distant, as if she weren’t even there. Like the memory of a voice.

“It’s your baby, Sabsi.” Chris couldn’t hold back any longer and caressed Sabrina’s forehead gently. This time, Sabrina didn’t freeze. She just lay there. “A part of you. That, at least, is certain.” Chris stroked Sabrina’s cheek. “A little Sabrina, maybe,” she continued in a tender whisper, “who looks just like you.”

Sabrina’s lips seemed to twitch a little. “I’ve told you a thousand times that I would never, never name her Sabrina,” she replied.

Chris laughed. She laughed so loudly and with such relief, she made her own ears ring. “Yes,” she said warmly. “Yes, you did. I remember.” She gave Sabrina a look charged with the full depth of the love she felt for her. “Welcome home, Sabsi,” she breathed. She had intended to speak normally, but her voice escaped her. “May I say that? Please . . . don’t let me –”

Sabrina raised one hand and placed a finger across her lips. “Not yet,” she answered cautiously. “But thank you for the welcome.”

Chapter 4

   Counter Talks   

“Your never again lasted a long time,” Rick remarked with a grin.

Carolin gave her arm a punch. “You’re one to talk.” She picked up her milkshake and drank.

Melly came out of the kitchen. “Well?” she greeted Carolin with a chuckle. “I hear enviable things about you.”

“Enviable?” Carolin looked at her irritably.

“You caught yourself the richest bachelorette in the city,” Melly explained, her eyebrows raised in amusement. “None of us ever pulled off anything like that before.”

“I didn’t know who she was,” Carolin defended herself, awkwardly.

“No, you just have a weakness for attractive women.” Rick laughed and wrapped a friendly arm around her shoulders. “She falls in that category too, of course.”

“Too bad I didn’t look closer when she was here,” Melly regretted. “I’d love to know what she looks like.”

“Tall, dark, very athletic,” Rick described Rebekka. “A body like –” She cast a glance at Carolin, who was glaring a warning at her. Rick grinned. “I think that any athletic activities one might undertake with her would be a great deal of fun,” she finished quickly, ducking the hand that Carolin was trying to hit her with. “I was thinking about bicycling,” she added innocently, while she smirked from ear to ear. “What were you thinking about, then?”

“I know what you were thinking,” Carolin retorted. “And I’m glad that Rebekka isn’t here to hear the way you’re talking about her.”

“You will bring her in some time, won’t you?” asked Melly. “I’d love to meet her.”

Carolin sighed. “Yes. When I can pry her loose from her work.”

“But she’s her own boss,” Melly wondered. “Can’t she give herself a little time off?”

“I’m working on that,” said Carolin. “But it isn’t easy. She carries the responsibility for the entire company. And she carries it all alone. She thinks if she’s not there, everything will collapse. And it probably would, too.”

“Well, the situation has one advantage,” said Rick. “You’re set for life.”

“I’m no kept woman,” snapped Carolin.

“No one’s saying you are. We just can’t help ourselves, out of pure jealousy.” Rick hugged her affectionately. “Let me be happy for you, woman!”

“Not for that reason,” said Carolin. “Money is not an issue between us.”

“Oh no?” Melly’s brows rose skeptically. “Isn’t it always?”

“Not between Rebekka and me. I don’t take any gifts from her.” Carolin shook her head firmly.

“Maybe you’ll learn to,” Melly smiled. “It can be nice, you know.”

“Rebekka has always paid and paid,” said Carolin. “It’s difficult enough for her to learn that I’m not one of the women she used to . . . know.”

“That blond . . .” Rick’s eyes narrowed. “The one who was here with her that time. That was one of those –”

“That was Svenja,” Carolin explained uncomfortably. “I don’t know her, and so I won’t say anything else about her.”

“I found her very . . . interesting,” said Rick. “As far as I can recall. Exceptionally fun-loving, I suspect.”

“Yes, I’m sure you could say that,” Carolin confirmed. Even though she didn’t know Svenja, she probably remembered better than Rick did the evening she’d seen Svenja. With Rebekka. In Rebekka’s arms. A shudder rippled through her.

“No offense meant.” Rick patted her on the shoulder. “The main thing is, you’re happy. Rebekka impressed me as very likeable.”

“Yes.” Carolin sighed. “Me, too.”

Rick laughed. “I think she’s done more than make an impression,” she teased with a wink.

Carolin took a deep breath. “It’s not what you think. I hardly see her. Sometimes I think . . . I’m not that important to her.” She swallowed.

Rick glanced over her shoulder. “I don’t believe that,” she responded in a peculiar tone, and smiled.

“I hope I’m not interrupting,” Carolin heard Rebekka’s voice an instant later.

She closed her eyes. Just to hear Rebekka’s voice was to feel her caresses. She needed a moment before she could turn around. “Of course you’re interrupting,” she teased back. “Can’t you see I’m talking to Rick?” Everything in her yearned to throw herself at Rebekka, to kiss her, caress her, cuddle her, but that was precisely what Rick and Melly were waiting for. She didn’t want to do them that favor.

Rebekka looked as though she were having the same problem. She bent over Carolin and brushed the suggestion of a kiss across her cheek. “Then I can go,” she said.

Melly contemplated her, deeply interested, but then remembered her obligations as hostess. “What can I get you?” she asked.

“Mineral water,” said Rebekka. “Perrier?”

Melly shook her head.

“Then whatever you have. And something to eat. A salad? I haven’t eaten a thing all day.”

“Then a salad isn’t exactly the right thing,” Carolin chided her. “How about a proper dinner? Melly has an outstanding kitchen.”

“Evelyn,” Melly contradicted. “Not me.” She turned to Rebekka. “But she cooks very well, that’s true. Of course you can have a salad, if you want. It’s prepared just as well as everything else is here.” She started toward the kitchen.

“What about the pork tenderloin?” Carolin stopped her. “That was delicious last time.”

“Always delicious,” said Melly. She looked at Rebekka. “For two?”

Rebekka seemed irritated. Then she began to smile. “All right. For two.” But she couldn’t help herself. “Does a salad come with that?”

Melly laughed. “I’ll tell Evelyn to give you an extra-large side salad with it.” She went into the back.

It was suddenly very quiet. Rick felt superfluous. Carolin and Rebekka only had eyes for each other, as though the entire world had disappeared around them. That’s nice, thought Rick. How nice for Carolin. That’s the right woman for her.

After a while, Carolin seemed to wake up. She cleared her throat. “What . . . what are you doing here?” she asked in amazement. “You said –”

“Yes.” Rebekka looked at her, sought her eyes, sank into them. I had such a longing for you, she thought. Her entire body was craving Carolin. “I finished early,” she said, “and so I thought I’d drop by. You said you were going to be here. With Rick.” She looked at Rick, and Rick had the feeling she was posing a question with that look.

“We were talking about you,” Rick answered quickly.

Rebekka’s eyebrows rose.

“Nothing bad.” Rick laughed nervously. Today, Rebekka looked like what she was: a wealthy woman with high standards, influence, and power. She hadn’t looked like that the last time. It’s probably just the suit, thought Rick. The silk blouse, the overcoat, the makeup. Her whole attitude. After all, she just came from the executive office at her very own company, where she was making decisions that probably cost more than I’ll earn in my entire life.

Yes, she couldn’t deny it: Rebekka definitely made her nervous. She played in a whole other league.

“Really, nothing bad,” she reaffirmed. “We’re happy for you and Carolin.”

“Ah.” Rebekka didn’t seem very impressed with this happiness.

“Rebekka . . .” Carolin laid a hand on Rebekka’s arm. “Rick meant that nicely.”

Rebekka looked at her again, and suddenly it seemed as though a mask fell away from her. She cleared her throat. “I’m sorry,” she said with a glance at Rick. “I’m somewhat unaccustomed to that. I didn’t mean to be impolite.”

Oh, man, thought Rick. I don’t want to see her when she is being impolite.

Carolin let her arm rest on Rebekka’s arm. “It’s nice that you came,” she said tenderly, caressing Rebekka’s face lovingly with her gaze.

Rebekka swallowed imperceptibly. “If I’d known there was food here, I might’ve come earlier,” she replied with a smile. “It was a hellish day. I didn’t have one free minute.”

“That really shouldn’t happen when you’re your own boss,” said Rick. “I always take the time –” She broke off. “But of course, I have a tiny business compared to yours. It’s not the same thing,” she amended hastily.

“Probably not,” said Rebekka. She sighed. “But you’re right. I should find some time to eat something at least once a day.”

Carolin laughed. “That would be advisable, yes.” She stroked Rebekka’s sleeve with a finger. “I could make a salad, too, in the evening,” she added softly. “If you insist on. Or cook something.”

Rebekka looked at her doubtfully. “You don’t have to do that,” she said.

But I’d love to, thought Carolin. “I know,” she said.

“You can have your salad now.” Melly came out of the kitchen. “Do you want to sit at a table or is the counter okay?”

Carolin glanced at Rebekka. “A table, please, Melly,” she decided. She had the feeling Rebekka needed a little distance from the unfamiliar situation.

Carolin slid down from the barstool. Rebekka followed her immediately, as though relieved to be alone with her.

Melly followed Carolin and put the salad on the table Carolin chose. “The rest will be out shortly,” she said, disappearing again.

Rebekka sat down across from Carolin and reached for the salad that Melly had placed in front of Carolin.

Carolin chuckled. “You don’t want to get too close to me?”

Rebekka, who had been staring at her salad, looked up. “I’m already burning for you from this distance,” she said quietly. “Any closer and I’ll go up in smoke.”

“Rebekka . . .” Carolin reached out a questing hand toward her.

Rebekka pulled her hand away. “I can’t start making out here, not in front of all these people,” she said with an effort.

“When you were here with Svenja, you had less of a problem,” Carolin recalled, somewhat disappointed.

Rebekka’s head shot up. “That was Svenja, not me,” she contradicted sharply.

“Calm down.” Carolin made a mental note that Svenja was a subject best avoided. “It’s all right. I just wish I could touch you.”

“Me too,” whispered Rebekka. “But if I do that, I can’t be responsible for what happens next.”

“Oh, God, Rebekka,” Carolin breathed weakly. “I can feel you. I feel you everywhere, all over my skin, as if you were actually touching me.”

Rebekka looked at her, but said nothing. Her gaze showed all the self-control she could muster. “It’s never been this difficult for me to hold back,” she managed.

“Never?” Carolin’s eyebrows rose. “Really never?”

“Never,” Rebekka repeated. “At least, not since I’ve . . . been an adult.” She seemed to be having difficulty speaking.

“Ah, you were a wild teenager?” Carolin asked with interest. “I wouldn’t have thought so.”

“I wasn’t . . . wild,” Rebekka contradicted. “I just had –”

“Too many hormones?” Carolin grinned. “Or too many offers?”

“Definitely too many offers,” said Rebekka, now somewhat calmer. “Sometimes my hormones weren’t even enough to keep up with all of them.”

“Oh-ho.” Carolin wasn’t sure how to answer that.

“That’s why I accepted the last offer I got,” Rebekka added suddenly. Her eyes flashed mischievously. “I’m getting old. I need my peace and quiet.”

Carolin laughed. “I’m sure. And if the day had twenty-eight hours, you’d still fill them all.”

Rebekka made an apologetic face. “Maybe then there would be a couple more hours left for us.”

“Would you like that?”

Rebekka looked at her in astonishment. “Do you doubt that?”

“Well . . . sometimes . . .” Carolin shrugged, “I get the feeling that everything else is more important than I am.”

Rebekka grimaced. “I was afraid of that,” she said sorrowfully. “I’ve never had much time for –” She took a deep breath. “And unfortunately, that hasn’t changed.”

“Didn’t you tell me it was all just a question of organization?” replied Carolin.

“You mean I should ask my secretary to schedule you on my appointment calendar?” The corners of Rebekka’s mouth twitched. “Maybe that’s not such a bad idea.”

“As perverse as that sounds,” Carolin replied, not especially happily, “I’d do anything to see you more often. And yes, I’d even agree to be one of your appointments.”

Rebekka grinned. “I’ll instruct my secretary to set up a Gebhardt file.” When Carolin gaped at her, aghast, she laughed. “I didn’t mean that seriously.” She reached for Carolin’s hand with her own and held it tight. “I would do anything to see you more often, too.” She raised Carolin’s hand to her lips and kissed it.

A whistle came from the counter.

Carolin glanced over. “Keep your shirt on, Rick,” she called good-humoredly. “This doesn’t involve you.”

Rick grinned.

Rebekka shook her head. “This is really very strange for me,” she said.

“You’ve traveled in other circles, presumably,” Carolin answered, still amused. “Where people don’t whistle at women.”

“No.” Rebekka leaned back and sighed. “They do other things instead. I prefer the whistling.” She looked over at Rick and gave her a smile and a nod.

Rick gave an affirming thumbs-up and turned back to Melly.

“I’d like to be your five o’clock,” Carolin continued. “Because that’s when I get off work. If I wait until you get off work, I’ll be old and gray before I see you.”

“I’m sure you’ll still be just as adorable then,” replied Rebekka, gazing warmly into Carolin’s eyes. She sighed once more. “I just should’ve thought more about what I was asking of you – before I proposed.”

“Do you want to withdraw your proposal?” asked Carolin.

Rebekka smiled tenderly at her. “No. Not for the world. But what I’m asking you to put up with . . . that, I would gladly take back.”

“The pork tenderloin.” Melly set the platter in front of them. “I must honestly admit that Evelyn has done a particularly fine job with them today. Even better than usual. So, enjoy.” She smiled at the pair and left again.

“My mother does these very well, too,” said Rebekka.

Carolin gave her a dubious look. “You’re not one of those women who constantly reproaches people for not cooking as well as their mother, are you?”

Rebekka seemed to have no idea what she meant.

“You’ve never eaten at my place,” Carolin explained. “If you did, would I have to listen to you tell me how much better your mother cooks?”

Rebekka laughed out loud, amused. “No,” she replied, still laughing. “Of course not. I’m very easy to please.” She grimaced with embarrassment when she realized what she’d said. “Food-wise, I mean,” she added quickly.

Carolin grinned boldly. “Otherwise, too,” she said softly.

Rebekka rolled her eyes. “Oh, please . . .”

“You brought it up.” Carolin really had to hold herself back to keep from bursting out laughing. It was always sweet when Rebekka was put on the defensive – it certainly didn’t happen often. Then she could just . . . eat her up.

“Can we change the subject, please?” Rebekka gave her a pointed look. “Or should we leave the food sitting here? If you’re going to keep that up, we’d better go right now. Otherwise we’ll have to do some explaining to your friends.”

Carolin laughed. “That’s exactly what they’re hoping for.” Then she leaned over toward Rebekka. “You’re going to eat that up, now, come what may. You haven’t eaten anything all day, and I insist that you do so now.”

Rebekka chuckled. “You’re definitely going to make a good wife.”

“Well, I hope so,” said Carolin. “Now eat.”

Chapter 5

   In the Jungle   

Marlene and Carmen stepped onto the set together, already naked. As usual.

“Ah . . . good.” Werner, the director who was also the producer, came over to them. Or rather, his belly came over to them with the rest of Werner in tow.

“A little pussy-licking for a warm-up,” Werner instructed. “You two know how it goes. After you pretend to come, Karl will come in and fuck the girl on top, then you roll over, and he’ll fuck the other one. At the end, you can –”

“Are you nuts?” Marlene had been too perplexed to interrupt him at first, but now she lit into him. “I don’t let guys fuck me. That was part of the deal.”

Werner frowned deeply. “That’s how it goes, kid. It’s about time you got used to it.”

“Then you’d better get used to another actress,” Marlene argued loudly. “I don’t do that, period.”

“My God then, give him a blow job. Just lick his cock. You can definitely lick.” He leered at her.

Marlene stood there with clenched fists. “I don’t lick anybody’s cock,” she growled. “You can blow that idea right out of your head. I’m going to do what we agreed. I’m only going to make it with women.”

“Hey, honey, don’t get so excited.” Karl came in, massaging his cock with one hand so he’d be ready for duty. “I’ll fuck Carmen,” he said, with a glance at Werner. “She’s used to it. And then Marlene can join in the fuck. We’ll just both fuck her. It’s no problem.”

Werner looked at him skeptically. “That’s not what we planned,” he said. “And I don’t like it when people change my scripts.”

“Scripts?” Karl laughed. “What scripts? Come on, who’re you kidding, old man? The script goes: Come in and fuck her. That’s how it always goes.”

Werner grumbled. “Well, fine,” he said. “But don’t let it become a habit.” He looked at Marlene. “The next time I tell you you’re going to get fucked, you’re going to get fucked, understand?”

“If it’s a woman, anytime,” Marlene replied with a feisty grin. “Anything else, you can forget it.”

“Get moving!” Werner clapped his hands. “Get yourselves wet so Karl can get down to business.”

“Why do you always make such a big deal of everything?” Carmen asked in a whisper when Marlene lay down with her on the red-sheeted bed. “Just do what he says.”

“Get fucked by a guy?” Marlene shook her head disdainfully. “I’m not that desperate for dough.”

“But it’s all the same,” said Carmen as Marlene began licking her nipples. “I don’t know why you get so worked up about it.” She made a face of simulated arousal and opened her mouth, playing her tongue across her lips so that the camera could get a close-up.

“If Karl is coming right in anyhow, we can skip the dildo,” said Marlene, spreading Carmen’s legs. “I’ll try to get you a little bit wet.”

“He can use Vaseline, like always,” said Carmen. Then she threw back her head and moaned, pretending passion and arousal, while Marlene licked her.

Marlene could tell that there would be no wetness other than that from her own tongue. It was impossible to arouse Carmen. She never appeared to feel genuine passion. While Marlene continued licking her and thrusting into her with her tongue, she wondered why that was. And whether there was any chance of changing things.

She recalled the occasional woman with whom she’d managed that. Who’d claimed at first that they were frigid, but then afterwards –

Marlene took a certain amount of credit for showing these women what passion was. Back then, she hadn’t known that ecstasy could be faked; by now, she’d learned. Nonetheless, she was sure that when the right stimulus came along, she, too, would feel real passion again. It was about time.

“Scoot over!” Werner hollered. “Let Karl in!”

Marlene moved away from Carmen a bit, and Karl climbed on to the bed. “Turn over,” he said to Carmen. “From behind.”

Carmen stood up obediently, turned around, and bent over, bracing herself against the bed.

Karl opened her labia and brought his cock into position.

“Vaseline,” whispered Marlene.