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A young man's fancy. ... Harriet said, "Don, don't you want me?""Sure, I want you.""Then why don't you do something about it?""You're married. You have a husband and he's a nice guy.""Oh, darling," she cried. "Is that all? Now listen to me. Bill doesn't care about me any more.""You mean that?""You know he's never home. He's got a girl in the city he sleeps with." Harriet studied Don's serious young face. Then, without so much as giving her a kiss, he rolled her roughly to her back."Okay," Don whispered through clenched teeth. "If he's nuts, I'm not...." Catch them while they're young-that was Harriet's philosophy. But she never thought her own daughter would take her up on it!1HARRIET SMITH had watched Donald Brent grow from a shy little boy into a powerfully built young man with a winning way and a sunny smile. Don, who lived next door to the Smiths, had been just eighteen when Harriet had arrived at Soper Court as an eighteen-year-old bride six years ago. Since that time Don had been running in and out of the Smith split-level house doing a variety of chores.Harriet had developed a strong but proper-she thought-affection for the young man. Many days she still fixed him lunch in her kitchen as she had done while he had still been attending school. Sometimes she drove him to Ronnie's ice cream parlor for a soda. Don's mother worked as a secretary in the city, and his father, Sean Brent, a handsome man who had been a schoolteacher before becoming a salesman, was rarely home except for an occasional weekend. Then he was usually drunk and quarrelsome. Don felt pretty rotten about his dad, Harriet knew, so she did her best to console the youth. Bad enough for Don to be lonely, she thought, without his having to act as a buffer between his mother and father.Harriet was desperately lonely herself. Six years of married life in the suburbs had drastically changed her husband's attitude towards her, she believed. Bill just didn't care any more, Harriet thought. It had been more than six months since there had been any sexual intercourse between them. Bill was the sales manager for a dress manufacturer. If he did not stay in town on the pretense of attending a business convention, he usually contrived to stagger home well after midnight and crawl into bed mumbling something about being dead tired.* * *This particular Friday as Harriet watched young Don bolting his sandwich across the table, Harriet had reached the peak of frustration. Her thoughts were racing. Not only had Bill not shown up the night before, but Carol-his blonde secretary who doubled as a model-had phoned to say he wouldn't be home tonight and probably would be out of town for the weekend. Harriet was sure Bill was going to bed with Carol Gaines. Bill's barely concealed tender glances at the long-haired Carol the day she had called at the house with some papers from the office when Bill had been sick had confirmed Harriet's suspicions.Carol was a professional mantrap as far as Harriet was concerned. Bill had told her Carol's parents were well off and the blonde didn't really have to work but liked living away from home. Conveniently enough, Carol's father paid the rent for her Greenwich Village apartment.Harriet admitted to herself she had been much too tolerant about Bill's escapades. But she loved him desperately enough to forgive an occasional fling.Bill's business life in the garment industry, after all, was full of decorative temptations.But Carol was different, Harriet felt. Carol had been on the scene too long. The girl spent most of the day with Bill. She saw him in all ways more than Harriet did. She viewed the blonde as a menace to the Smith marriage.There was something else, Harriet thought. It was time she and Bill really settled down and had a child to seal their union. She had to bring Bill to his senses and she had to satisfy her own bitingly frustrated desire for physical love. The celibacy Bill's neglect was forcing on her was rapidly becoming unbearable.Don had finished his sandwich. He gave Harriet an appreciative smile."That's just hit the spot," he said. He gazed speculatively about the kitchen. "Anything I can do for you today, Mrs. Smith? How about giving the floors a once-over?" His voice was grateful without obnoxiousness. "You do so much for me. I wish I could repay you. I feel a little bit like a heel taking so much and giving so little.""You do quite enough, Don. I often wonder what I'd do without you. Just keep on being you." There were times when Harriet felt awkward with Don. The youth was so genuinely frank.A brief silence fell. Harriet sensed Don was poised to go but she wanted him to stay just so she could have someone to talk to. She wondered if he had a date. Lately, she knew, he had been going around with Ginny Grimes who lived three doors down the block. Ginny was another kid whose parents were at odds. Harriet sometimes gave Don a few dollars to take Ginny to the movies. Money was not plentiful in the Brent home and Don had got laid off from his first job after he had worked for two months. But Harriet had coached him evenings so he could pass his examination for a slot in one of the big utility companies. Now he was waiting to start."So what are you doing today, Don?" Harriet said.Don shrugged his broad shoulders. He was really a magnificent youngster, Harriet thought. At high school he had captained the wrestling team. Since his graduation he had been keeping himself in trim with Bill's bar bells that Harriet had loaned him. Bill had insisted on bringing the apparatus with him from his bachelor apartment when he and Harriet had first been married but he had not touched the equipment since. Don used the bar bells every day. Watching how his muscles rippled under the T-shirt, Harriet felt a stir of pride at having helped to develop such a superb male."I don't really know," Don said in answer to her question. "If I can borrow a power mower I may cut a few lawns. Our mower's on the blink and I haven't got enough money to fix it. Dad promised to help last weekend but he didn't show up-and I don't like to ask Mother. I've kind of made it my responsibility to pay for things like that." His face shadowed. In a moment, though, he brightened up again. "I'm working at the supermarket tomorrow. The manager says I may get the job regularly every Saturday but I can't count on it. That job would sure help till the utility company slot opens for me."Harriet laughed softly. "Just see yourself doing the supermarket job every Saturday and it will come true. There's magic in wishing. I know."Don gave her an amused, indulgent look. "The wishing bit doesn't work for me yet. Maybe I'm not old enough.""You're old enough, Don. You're a man now." Suddenly the mischievous little female devil in Harriet waved her magic wand and Harriet's strong but proper affection for Don was on its way to becoming far less proper. She flashed a beguilingly sexy smile. He is a man, she thought, a big and beautiful man. "You're only five years younger than me, Don. Ever thought of that?"Don seemed embarrassed. "No, I never did." His boyish face flushed. "I always thought of you as a lot older, like another mother. I suppose it's because you're married."Harriet leaned across the table and hoped Don would not notice her suddenly reddening face. She patted his hand. "Just being married doesn't mean I'm old, Don. I don't want you to think of me that way."Don Brent stared at his hands. Harriet's heart went out to him. She wanted to put her arms around his shoulder to comfort him. Don, she knew, had innocently erected a barrier of age between them. This she had to remove.She said, "I'm not really all that old, Don.""Forget it, Mrs. Smith. I was just joking. Honest I was." His laugh was nervous. "Mother's married and she's kind of old so I suppose I thought you were the same. Dig?" His blue eyes implored her to under stand and then they twinkled with humor. "You know how kids are."Harriet nodded, shaking out her glossy brown curls. "I dig, Don. You really had me bugged for a moment. A girl doesn't like to be called old just because she's married. I was married when I was about your age." Harriet snickered. "I don't know why, but I did. Ever thought of that?""Can't say I did.""It's the truth. And, Don, because we've known each other for a pretty long time, how about calling me Harriet from now on? It might help you to forget my great age."Don's face glowed with pleasure. "Okay. Sure you don't mind?""I'll like it. All my other friends do. But we don't have to tell everyone, do we?"He considered for a moment. "Not my mother, anyhow. She'd say I was being disrespectful. She's funny about some things. She doesn't even like her boss using her first name because she's married." He frowned. "I think he's got a thing for her. He's always calling up weekends and asking her to dinner or something. But she won't go. I teU her she should and she gets angry. But the way Dad treats her, she has a right to have some fun."Harriet laughed. "Perhaps your mother knows going out with the boss wouldn't be so great. After all, she sees him most of the week, so being with him on weekends wouldn't be much of a change, would it?""I see what you mean. I never thought of that." Don's blue eyes settled disquietingly on Harriet.He loved his mother, Harriet knew, and did every thing to make Mrs. Brent happy. Mildred Brent was a neat and attractive blue-eyed blonde in her late thirties but she impressed one as being younger. She had told Harriet she had run away from home at eighteen to marry when she had been pregnant with Don. Harriet admired the woman. In Mrs. Brent's place Harriet would taken a lover long ago. The woman was a walking angel by today's standards."So what are you going to do this afternoon, Don? It's a lovely day." Harriet moistened her lips. "Why don't we go to the beach? We could get back in time to meet your mother at the station."Harriet often took Donald to pick up his mother on the five-thirty train from the city. It was one of the little kindnesses she enjoyed doing for her neighbor. Saturday morning Harriet drove a grateful Mrs. Brent to the supermarket where they both did their shopping."I'd like the beach," Don said. "But I'd feel better if I had a lawn to mow first-and we don't have to meet Mother. She's staying in town for some dinner or other and sleeping over.""Okay, so off you go. If you don't make it by two I'll know you're busy. But come in if you see the car outside." Harriet knew Don liked to pay his way when they decided on the beach. So being able to earn a few dollars before they started was important to him. To appease his pride Harriet sometimes let him buy her a martini. His obvious sense of manliness at the gesture gave her a thrill.She stood at the window to watch Don hurry off to borrow a power mower and hustle up some business. He walked as if there were springs in his legs.She liked the way he held his head, the set of his shoulders, the swing of his hips. He really was a handsome young man.And Harriet experienced a slow erotic sensation spiraling through her. The sun had been gilding Don's mane of blond hair as he had vanished in the distance. With his muscular shoulders and lean buttocks he reminded Harriet of a young lion.She sucked in her breath. Harriet Smith, wife in name only, had come to the end of her tether. She wanted a man. She was crazy for a man. What married girl in her ambiguous position wouldn't be? she thought.For months, now, she had lain awake night after night hoping alternately Bill would come home and then asking herself how a respectable married woman could find herself a lover in the suburbs? And where? she reflected. She couldn't walk the streets, and she didn't want to be picked up in a bar.Then Harriet laughed a little deliriously. She clapped her hands and executed a little pirouette. She noticed how her breasts swung out as they had not done before her marriage. Her body had ripened in the garden of marriage. But Bill, the head gardener, she thought, didn't want her any more and was leaving her to wither on the vine.What a joke. Harriet flung herself on the sofa and kicked her legs in the air. She felt like a pony sniffing the first breeze of spring. There was no need to search for a man at all. She had had one close at hand for some time-a beautiful and gorgeous man.Harriet lay still for a moment and then stretched languidly. All of her sensations seemed to be centered in the one spot where she hoped Donald Brent might soon be. Don was terribly innocent, of course, she mused, but he must know about girls. If he didn't, she would teach him. He would make a wonderful lover....Fantasy gripped Harriet. In her mind's eye she and Don Brent were already in bed. His lips were on hers. She could feel desire coiling and uncoiling in her belly.The turmoil in her body made her dizzy. It had been so long since she had been loved. So terribly long and she had tried so hard to hold out as a good woman should.Now it was too late....As if in a dream Harriet wandered into her bedroom and lay on the bed. Her full coral-tipped breasts seemed to have swollen. Harriet held them protectively and squirmed as the touch of her own fingers sent thrills running through her. Was she going crazy or something? She could not remember ever having been quite like this.It was all Bill's fault, she decided as she tried to straighten out her thoughts. Bill's and Carol's. The blonde was a dirty little husband stealer.A wave of rage ripped through Harriet. For weeks she had been debating whether to go to Bill's office and have it out with the girl. But Harriet had been afraid to do so.Harriet sighed. She knew herself. She was quite capable of tearing off Carol's clothes and bashing her with whatever was handy. Harriet shook her head. Best not to think of Carol. Far more pleasant, Harriet felt, to dwell on Don....Outside the day was beautifully warm, just right for the beach. Harriet loved the beach. She was one of those girls who tanned to a sultry copper.But on this occasion she really did not want to go to the beach. She wanted to stay right here in her bedroom with Don Brent, she thought. Definitely. She should be ashamed of such a prospect, possibly, but she was not. The prospect seemed logical, practical and convenient.Don was not a boy any more. She remembered his strong arms gleaming in the morning light when he had carried out the rubbish earlier-she had watched from her bedroom window. She remembered how his heavily muscled thighs swelled in his jeans.. Even then she had wanted to so much to touch him but she had suppressed the whole idea....Now she was at last making plans. Desire swept through her like a flash fire. It was all Bill's fault. She was starved for love. And her need for sex was now an obsession."Okay, Bill," she whispered, "you asked for it." Her smile was wanton. "But I'll think of you, my sweet. I'll close my eyes and imagine it's you. You'd like that, wouldn't you? I bet that's more than you'd do for me when you're with that wretched girl. I'll hate it, of course. You know me-poor old faithful Harriet."Her growing mood of anger at Bill was making her sweat. The sooner she got under the shower the better, she thought.On her way to the bathroom she halted her seething nudity in front of the vanity mirror. "There's nothing wrong with me," she said aloud. "I'm okay as a woman. What's got into Bill?"She scanned herself critically in the mirror. Dark hair softly wreathed the pale oval of her face. Her breasts protruded lustily, crowned by dark circles. The voluptuous fullness of her hips was accented by her diminutive triangle of curly pubic silk. Her white thighs were long and tapered pleasingly to sleek calves and fine ankles.She had everything needed to make a man as hard as a rake handle. Yet Bill neglected her.Why, she could picture the blond Carol on her back on the office couch, legs apart, her pussy sucking in Bill's thrusting love.For a moment Harriet thought of herself in Carol's position. She rubbed her palms on her breasts. The nipples tingled with heat. Her hands slipped downward, stroked her stomach and the flare of her hips, turned inward on her rounded thighs and smoothed the furriness between. Delicately she opened herself. Damp. And suddenly she was thinking not of Bill and Carol on the office couch but of Don filling her with the bursting hot drive of his youth.She watched from beneath lowered lashes as her white finger opened her neglected pink-lined labia and teased the sensitive bump between. Her loins trembled. What had reduced her to this? Was she fending off the coltish animality of Don-or preparing herself for him?She felt a sweet internal seepage. She stepped to the bed, still holding herself. Her body jerking, she sprawled with thighs apart. She thought of Don and was suddenly going, flipping over the top, releasing in wild stabs of pleasure that left her limp and quivering.But she still had to give Bill one last chance.Impulsively, she phoned him. "Hi, Bill, darling," Harriet said in her sexiest voice after the abominable Carol had put her through. "Any hope of your coming home tonight? I kind of wanted to see you rather special. You know what I mean. It's the weather or something, darling, but I really do love you. Dig, baby, dig?"Just give her a chance and she'd be a good girl, Harriet thought, waiting for Bill to reply."I'd love to, honey," Bill said, "but I just can't make it. The out-of-town buyers are in and you know what that means. I'm meeting a whole gang of them around eight and they'll go on all night." Bill hesitated. "And don't count on me turning up tomorrow, either. The boss wants me to take some of them to his beach club. You know how he is and I can't say no."Harriet wanted to interject that only to her could he say no but she kept herself under control. "Listen, Bill. I have an idea. You quit work at five, don't you? And your date's at eight. Supposing I came up to town and check into a hotel. Then you could come over for a few minutes-like we used to. Remember? It was such fun."Bill's voice became stuffy. "Sorry, Harriet, I could hardly manage that. We're up to our eyes.""So when will I see you, Bill? Do you really expect me to spend the weekend all alone as usual?""I'm afraid you'll have to, honey. I can't help it. If I don't do what the boss wants, I could be home for a long time-without a job." He added aggrievedly, "You seem to forget I'm working for you."Harriet laughed. "Yeah, me and a few others, Bill. Well, don't say I didn't ask you.""Are you threatening me? I wouldn't advise you to start that. It will get you nowhere.""It's all in your mind, Bill. Must be that guilty conscience of yours," Harriet teased."So what are you going to do over the weekend?""Who knows? I might like a dutiful wife wait home for you to phone. I might paint the rumpus room that you've been promising to do for the last six months. Or I might go to the beach.""I'd take the beach if I were you. It's going to be hot. Anyhow, darling, enjoy yourself." As Bill's voice stiffened, in her imagination Harriet could see Carol standing at his side. "I wish I could be with you, but I can't. Anything else on your mind? I have to go now. There's a client on the other line."Harriet managed to laugh. "There's nothing on my mind except you, Bill. Goodbye. Enjoy yourself.""Thanks. I'll do my best. These affairs are always damned dull. Goodbye."So it had to be Don, Harriet concluded.And now she could hardly wait. The beach was the farthest thing from her mind....2HARRIET WAITED impatiently for Don. Her lush womanliness encased in a pale blue bikini, she paced the house. She paused occasionally to stare at the hands of the clock creeping slowly around. She was wearing the swimsuit as an excuse, of course, since she had said they would be going to the beach. But she had no intention of wetting herself in sea water.The boy was incredibly late, she thought. He could have mowed five lawns by this time. In the living room Harriet threw herself into an armchair and switched on the TV. The house seemed overwarm. The upholstery of the chair irritated the flesh of her thighs. She felt as if she were sweating but it was simply excitement.She was alternately anxious and angry. Could something have happened to Don? Perhaps he had met some girl and goofed off? Boys did that kind of thing, she thought. Males were all the same. Of course, Don did not know what was waiting for him but he should have more consideration for her. When you made an appointment, you should keep it.Don had always been obedience and reliability personified. Harriet could not remember a single instance in which he had failed to carry out her orders to the letter. Mrs. Brent had often jokingly said she wished Don ob-eyed her so thoroughly. "You'll make a wonderful mother when you have children," she had told Harriet.Harriet winced at the thought. She wanted a child so desperately but Bill kept saying they should wait and he insisted on Harriet's using those hateful preventatives.Harriet glanced at the clock again. She frowned. She was half convinced Don would not know how to start making love to her once he was here. She had never had to seduce a man before.I'll go out, she thought, if Don doesn't come. I can't stay here. A hurricane of desire had built up in her. She could feel her pelvic muscles contracting."Darling, please come," she whispered. "Please, Don."She felt like a drink but she did not want her breath smelling. Don drank beer sometimes but she knew he didn't like hard liquor because of his father's failing.