I had finally broken up with my girl friend. We'd been together for the last six months, but I'd gotten fed up with the notion of her only being with me for the things she thought I should happily provide for her. When she'd demanded I buy her a new car, I'd reached the limit of my tolerance.
Carla, my ex, is twenty three years old, the same as me. She has a dark complexion, with black hair and beautiful brown eyes. She is an Italian-American woman. She is short, no more than five foot two, and large breasted, with wider than normal hips.
In bed, Carla had exceeded all my hopes, easily the best of the five lovers I'd experienced to that point in my life. She traded on her sexuality to get her way with me, often reminding me of what I'd be missing if she should ever leave me. It had been an effective ploy, right up until the point where she'd demanded a new car from me.
I have the money to be able to afford a new car for her. Her old car, a two year old Honda Accord, had less than twenty thousand miles on it. A gift from a prior lover, as she'd told me on many occasions. Carla had also informed me that she wouldn't be trading in her Honda on the new car she wanted, because she'd be giving that one to her three younger sisters, so they'd have their own transportation.
I worked with my grandfather in his wine brokerage business. He paid me very well, but that didn't mean I wanted to spend $38,000.00 from my savings on a new car for my girlfriend.
It had taken about a week, from the time she first brought up the demand for a new car, to the time I'd finally kicked her out of my condo. In the interim, we'd gone over the same ground for at least three hours each and every day.
Her position seemed to be that she was a "kept woman", and getting the occasional big ticket gift from her lover was all part and parcel of the agreement she thought we had.
My position was that I already thought I'd been more than generous by allowing her to live with me, rent free, providing her with limited spending money, and going shopping with her for clothing, when I always wound up paying for it. She had told me that she was between jobs, so I thought I was just helping her out, until she could locate something to support herself.
The first two months I'd known Carla, she'd worked as a receptionist in a law firm. I had no idea that my letting her move in with me was a signal that she interpreted as me agreeing to have her as a permanent live in lover. I had certainly never considered her as my "kept woman".
It had only taken her an hour to move all of her things out of my condo, but it was a profanity laced hour of loud invective, and angry threats of bodily harm in retaliation for the cruel way that I'd supposedly used her.
Sitting alone in my living room, I welcomed the absolute quiet right after she finally left. It took me another two hours before I could start to relax. I was relieved that Carla was gone. I'd certainly miss the great sex. but not the drama scenes, or the constant wheedling for more and better perks for her.
Two weeks passed without any contact from Carla. I'd already succeeded in putting her out of my thoughts. I'd just returned from a four day buying trip to Northern California, the first one I'd taken without having my grandfather along with me, to either introduce me, or else to guide me as I negotiated with some of the growers. I'd checked in with him before making any sizeable purchases, but he'd allowed me to make all the final decisions.
I'd been back home for three days before Carla's sister, Gina called me. Gina was twenty one, a taller, slimmer, copy of Carla. Gina wanted to know if I'd be willing to let her borrow three hundred dollars so she could purchase her school books for the coming quarter. Gina was a senior at the local university, and I knew that Carla had been helping her, financially, before she'd lost her receptionist job.
"If I loaned it to you, when would you be paying me back?" I asked her.
There was a few seconds of silence on the phone. "I guess not until after I graduate and get a job. Carla said she would talk to you, if you have any questions about it."
"You know Carla and I broke up, right?"
"She moved back home, so of course I know. She says it was just a misunderstanding, and that she'll move back in with you, just as soon as you apologize."
"Gina, I really don't think I want to get involved with anything Carla is a part of. I'm sorry, but I won't loan you the money."
I felt bad about turning her down. It wasn't that much money, but I didn't want Carla interpreting my being nice to her sister as a sign that I was weakening in my resolve when it came to her.
The next night, Gina came to my condo. She was crying, claiming to be desperate, and begged me to loan her the money. I walked with her to my bank across the street, took the $300 out of my ATM, and handed it to her. She hugged me, promising to pay me back someday, and hurried away, into the night.
A month later, Teresa, Carla's twenty year old sister, called me, wanting to borrow $200 to buy a bridesmaid's dress for a friend's wedding;. I turned her down, telling her that I wasn't a private bank for each of the Scarpelli sisters to make use of.
Two weeks later, eighteen year old Maria, the youngest Scarpelli sister, dropped by my condo to request $400, to buy school clothes for her first semester at the local community college. She said that the reason she didn't have any new clothes was because I had broken up with her sister. Since she and Carla were the same size, Maria always got all her hand me downs to wear. Her logic boggled my mind.
"Maria, you can't be serious! I can't believe all you sisters think you can call or come by to hit me up for things that you may need. I did go with Carla for a few months, but that doesn't mean I'm obligated to support her, or her sisters, from now on."
"If you take me shopping for clothes, Frank, I'll do all the things with you that Carla did. I'll even let you decide how many times we'll need to do things so you don't feel like I took advantage. We can do some stuff now, before we go shopping, so you can decide if I'm worth it or not."
It had been almost three months since Carla had left. I hadn't been out looking for her replacement. Maria looked a lot like Carla, same size and body shape. I was sorely tempted.
"Maria, I can't accept your offer. As tempting as it might be, I don't want to take advantage of you like that. You don't want to get into the mindset where you'll trade your body for material possessions. If you do, I'll promise you that you'll end up regretting it."
"I need new clothes, Frank. You are my best hope to get the money for them. I won't feel bad doing those things with you. Please don't turn me down."
I'm ashamed to admit that I caved in to her. We spent about an hour and a half in my bed, showered, then went out shopping together. It didn't take too long to spend four hundred dollars, even at a discount clothing chain. Back at my condo, Maria insisted that we spend another hour or so in my bed. She was talented, though not even close to matching Carla's skills in that area. I drove her home after, even helping her carry up some of her new clothes to the front door.
I felt bad about having been so weak with Maria. When she phoned me, a few days later, I told her that she didn't owe me anything more, that her debt was fully paid.
Teresa called me again, about ten days after that somewhat sordid episode with Maria.
"What the hell, Frank? You give Gina and Maria what they asked for, and just turned me down flat, without giving it any thought?"
"You're right Teresa. I should have turned all of you down. Books for school, and school clothes are a lot different than money for a Bridesmaid dress that you'd only wear once. Even so, I should have just said no to each of you. I'm sorry."
"I can see you doing what you did for Maria, since it was a pretty fair trade, but I don't understand that thing with Gina. You must know she has no intention of ever paying you that money back?"
"Maria told you about our agreement?"
"We all tell each other everything, Frank. You could have had me do what Maria did with you, if you'd given me the money I needed, like I asked."
To my way of thinking, Teresa was the sexiest of the four Scarpelli sisters. She was taller than Carla or Maria, with a lot more on top than Gina. She also had an ass on her that reminded me of a younger Kim Kardashian.
Hearing her calmly discussing the possibility of me ravishing her in my bed for such a pittance as what she'd earlier asked for, had my heart racing, and my middle sprouting some serious wood.
"I wish you had never told me that, Teresa. I'm headed out of town tomorrow, on a five day sales trip to Canada. I'll be in Toronto, Ottawa. Montreal, and Quebec City. I just hope I can still get my work done, with all the mental distraction you've just presented to me."
She laughed, seemingly delighted with my response to what she had just got done telling me.
We spoke for a few minutes longer. Now that the subject had been broached, Teresa seemed to take some high degree of pleasure in teasing me with innuendo and double entendre.
My business trip was long and tiring. I wasn't that happy with my sales efforts either. Several times I was certain that I'd have managed to close deals on much more favorable terms, if only my grandfather had been present with me.
My grandfather was seventy eight years old, and had been slowing things down at the business for the past few years. My father and he were estranged, mostly because my father refused to be involved with my grandfather's business.
I'd gone to College in California, up in San Luis Obispo. I'd studied Enology and Viticulture, with a concentration in Wine Business. Enology covers everything to do with the science of wine making. Viticulture has to do with just about every aspect of grape growing. During my four years there, my grandfather had taken care of all my expenses.
I'd known from the beginning that I'd end up working with him in his business, I'd spent every summer, since I was twelve years old, going to work with him. We always traveled quite a bit in the summer, including at least one trip each year, to the vineyards of Europe.
After I got back from my Canadian trip, I heard nothing further from any of the Scarpelli sisters. I found that a little strange, but not really remarkably so. This lasted for about a month and a half, then Gina called me again, asking for more money for her textbooks.
"Sorry Gina. After I spoke with Teresa a couple months ago, and she told me you all tell each other everything, I decided not to have anything to do with any of the Scarpelli sisters."
"That isn't fair, Frank. I told you that I'd give you back the money you loaned me, as soon as I graduate and get a good job. I'm so close to finishing. I just need to get my books for these last two quarters. It really isn't that much I'm asking for."
"It never is a lot, Gina, but it all adds up after awhile. Besides, I feel like you are all trying to use me. I didn't care for it, back when Carla was doing it, and I don't like it any better when anyone else tries it."
"I'm not going offer to fuck you, just to borrow $300, Frank."
"No one is asking you to do that, Gina. You brought it up, not me. You asked to borrow some money, and I refused. Why don't we just leave it like that?"
I thought I was finally finished with the whole Scarpelli family, after getting off the phone with Gina. I suppose, given the history I'd had with all four of them, that I should have known better. That night, I had four visitors, all four of the sisters. That surprised me!
I think the only reason I let them in was the total surprise that their visit caused me. No matter, for whatever reason, they all trooped in, somehow managing to seat themselves on my living room sofa. It was a tight fit, but they all managed.
"This is a real surprise. For what purpose are the four of you gathered here?" I sat on my coffee table, about two feet or so in front of my sofa. I wasn't surprised when Carla spoke, after all, she is the oldest of the four sisters.
"We came here tonight to try to reason with you, Frank. For some reason, and I have no idea why, it seems like you're holding a grudge, not only against me, but against my whole family. Maria thinks it might be a misunderstanding, but the rest of us just think you're being spiteful and mean, because you and I still have certain areas where we haven't managed to work things out yet."
"Really? Like me being unwilling to buy you a new car? Or me refusing to keep spending money, whenever any of your sisters ask me to?"
"Yes, that's exactly what we're talking about. I expected that you would have seen by now that me being missing from your life is a lot more important to you than whatever it would cost you to give me that new car I asked you for. Helping out my sisters, when they ask, is another thing I would have thought you'd have been happy to do for me. In spite of how easy we made it for you though, you don't seem to be cooperating. We came here to find out what your reasoning is."
"Okay, here goes then. First, while I'm sure your bedroom skills were appreciated and valued by me, I never realized before that I'd be expected to have to pay for them. Maria was the exception to what I just got done saying. She made an offer, and I accepted it. In the end, while I did feel bad about taking her up on it, I knew, in advance, what the two of us were agreeing to."
"You took advantage of Maria. She shouldn't have had to give herself to you to get some new clothes."
"I agree. I blame it on the very bad influence of watching how her older sisters, particularly you, Carla, go about getting the things they want or need. She learned to trade herself for material goods from watching you do it."
"In a fair relationship, there isn't any trading. I always tried to please you, Frank, and you did things for me, to show your appreciation of my efforts."
"I let you stay with me when you were in danger of being homeless, because you were my girlfriend, and because we were spending most nights right here together anyway. When you had no income, I tried to make sure you had some spending money, and could wear nice clothes when you went out on job interviews. I did that because I cared about you, I wanted you to look nice, and not have to walk around penniless and destitute, while you looked for new employment. I didn't envision any of this as a permanent state for either of us."
"Why didn't you tell me this when I stopped going out looking for work?"
"Good question. I should have. It might have kept you from thinking I was offering you a free ride in return for the sex you gave me. I didn't have that problem with Maria. We both got what we'd agreed to."
"Men have been taking care of me like this ever since I turned sixteen. I expect this, because it was what I was led to expect."
"A "kept woman" is only one step up from a prostitute." It didn't surprise me to see that all four women got angry when I told Carla that. I hadn't meant to be so blunt, but I also believed what I'd just stated. Without love, what Carla offered was pretty much a commercial transaction, sex for money.
"Accepting gifts isn't the same as taking money. I shouldn't have had to ask you for a new car. You should have thought of something big that you wanted to get for me, and gone ahead, on your own, and gotten it for me."
"I have no interest in buying someone's affection. Trading sex for books, school clothes, or other material goods is prostitution. I'm not against paying for sex, but only as long as both parties understand the transaction offered and accepted."
"You couldn't pay me enough to get me to sleep with you again, not after what you just told us."
"I doubt that, and I also doubt that any of your sisters believe that. I had sex with Maria, twice, for $400 worth of clothes. Teresa offered to do the same for me as Maria did, if I'd given her $200 to buy the bridesmaid dress. I'm not sure about Gina, but I suspect that she'd be willing to negotiate, if someone offered to help her buy her text books. For what is being offered, all those sums seem reasonable to me. A new car seems excessive though, especially when I was taking care of all your living expenses, and not hounding you daily to get out there and find yourself a new job."
When Carla stood up, her three sisters stood up as well. I walked with them to my door, and watched as they walked out towards the elevator. I stood by the open door until all four had gotten in the elevator and pressed the button to take them back down.
I'm not sure what Carla had hoped to accomplish with the meeting we'd just finished. Whatever it had been, I felt certain it hadn't been realized. I felt neither good nor bad about the meeting. I hadn't had any specific agenda I'd needed to push. Truth be told, if I never set eyes on any of the Scarpelli sisters again, I wouldn't be upset.
If none of them phoned me again, I'd feel no sense of loss because of it. Given all of that though, it didn't surprise me when my phone rang the next morning and Gina identified herself as the caller.
"Frank, if I come over this morning, and agree to let you do whatever you want to, in bed, will you promise that I will leave there with $300 to pay for my books?"
"Come over for the $300 now, Gina. Hurry, because I need to leave for work in an hour. We won't have time to do anything today, but if I give you the money, I'll expect you to spend the whole weekend with me, starting Friday, right, after you get out of school. By the end of the weekend, you won't owe me any money, not even the other $300 I lent you for books last quarter."
I'm not sure why I told her that. I really didn't expect her to show up on Friday, not after giving her the money she needed today. I acted on an impulse, knowing that what I was doing would get back to all the other Scarpelli sisters. I was confident that Carla would read a lot more into it than what was really happening.
Gina was at my condo ten minutes after our phone call ended. She took the money from my hand at my door and counted it, to make sure it was all there.
"Thanks Frank. You're a life saver! I'll see you Friday, around 2:30, okay?"
When Friday came, Gina was at my doorstep, right on time. Gina was better than Maria in bed, but still not as skilled as Carla. I took her out for a nice dinner after our first bout in bed. On the way back, I stopped off at the mall and bought her a few items of clothing, for the rest of the weekend.
I spent enough time in bed with Gina to feel certain that I'd received fair value for my expenditures. I enjoyed myself, and Gina gave every indication that she had as well. By Sunday afternoon, Gina and I had learned enough things about what pleased the other that our satisfaction had improved markedly. I drove her back home later that afternoon, and dropped her off in front of her driveway.
Monday evening I received a call from Teresa. She wanted to know why I wanted to do things with all her sisters, but avoided doing anything with her?
"I'm just waiting for you to start wanting something."
"I could use some new clothes. What you bought for Maria, but in my size, would be perfect."
"$400 worth of clothes. That seems reasonable. What are you offering to do for me in return?"
"Not a whole weekend, like Gina had to do. I was thinking all day, just like with Maria. We could go to bed, before we go shopping, then go again, after we get done at the mall."
"How about everything you said, except when we get done doing it again, after we get back from shopping, we go out to dinner, and then you spend the night with me too? We'll mess around a little in the morning, then I'll take you out to breakfast before driving you back home?"
"You're asking me to do quite a bit more than what Maria did."
"Are you at home now?"
"Could you go find Maria and tell her I'd like to speak with her?"
"I didn't say I wouldn't agree to do what you asked. I was just wondering why you weren't offering me the same deal as Maria got?"
"Maybe I find you more attractive than all your other sisters. Maybe I wanted to take my time, and really savor this opportunity I have."
"The mall is open late on Friday. I could meet you at your condo by four. Would that be okay?"
I don't know whether it was the way I found Teresa to be sexier looking than her sisters, or what, but sex with her was much better than sex with either Gina or Maria. It was better than with Carla too, I thought, but, I hadn't been with Carla for a long time, and memory is a tricky thing.
Teresa didn't get to my condo until five, and we were busy in my bed until almost eight thirty. I don't know where the time went. I do know that no one was telling the other one to hurry up and finish, and that we were both having a great time with what we were doing. We went out for some fast food at about nine thirty, after taking a very long shower together.
Saturday, I made things up to her by spending four hours shopping at the mall. I even bought her some nice lingerie, after she'd picked out her $400 worth of clothing. After shopping, we went back to the condo, where she modeled the lingerie for me again. We ended up spending another two hours in bed, after the fashion show she put on before I finally drove her home.
Carla called me Tuesday evening.
"You've fucked all of us now, so who's your favorite?"
"For personality, I'd have to say Maria. For sex, I'd say Teresa. Gina is the most intelligent, and best for interesting conversation."
"And, what about me?"
"You're the best negotiator."
"You didn't answer my first question, who's your favorite?"
"I don't have to have a favorite."
"You aren't going to just pick one of us?"
"No! What gave you the idea that I'd do that?"
She didn't answer me, but she did sound a little bit dispirited when she said goodbye to me later.
A week later, my grandfather passed away in his sleep. None of us had any idea that he had an advanced case of stomach cancer, or that he had been diagnosed as terminal, several months before he died.
After the funeral, some of the family gathered at his lawyer's office for the reading of his will. I already knew that he'd left almost everything to me.
My father and his two sisters seemed quite surprised when they discovered they were receiving only token bequests from their father's estate. One of my aunts threatened to sue for 'my fair share'.
My grandfather's attorney read her the clause that stated any beneficiary who contested the will would forfeit his or her bequest from the estate. One aunt was to receive all the family fine bone china porcelain dinnerware and all the silverware. The other one was left quite a few pieces of antique jewelry that my grandmother had owned, prior to her death. My father inherited a small cabin at a nearby lake, set on ten acres of property, as well as several canoes, kayaks, and a small fishing boat.
I received his house, all the furniture, his business, and all tangible personal property not otherwise specifically mentioned in his will. This other, non specified property, included his personal wine collection, accumulated over a period of more than fifty five years.
This collection was easily worth more than all the other estate assets combined. My grandfather had told me it was easily worth more than five million dollars. I had plans for selling it off, since I wasn't a collector myself, and had little interest in maintaining it.
A month and a half after my grandfather's death I phoned over to the Scarpelli's residence, asking to speak with Teresa.
"Hi, it's Frank. I just wanted to ask you if you have a valid passport?"
"I think so. We all had to get them when my grandmother died, so we could attend her funeral. That was four years ago. How long are they good for?"
"Ten years I think. Find yours and check. Call me back when you know for sure."
"I'm going to Europe this summer, on business. I thought we might go together, so I can get to know you better."
"I just got a new job, I can't just tell them I need to take time off so I can take a trip with you."
"I'll be going to France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Portugal. I'll be gone for over ten weeks. Haven't you ever wanted take an extended tour of the European wine country?"
"I told you I have a job now."
"My grandfather passed away, less than two months ago. He left me his business, so I have to go to Europe every summer."
"I'm sorry about your grandfather, but I can't just take off work."
"Did Gina graduate yet?"
"Last week. She's starting work next week. She can't go either."
"Maria wasn't old enough to need a passport four years ago, so I doubt she even has one."
"Carla has hers, and she isn't working right now."
"I'm not interested in taking Carla on any trips. I guess I don't really need to take anyone with me. I thought it would be a good time to get to know you better. I'll call you when I get back."
I wasn't upset with Teresa over her refusal to accompany me to Europe. I respected her putting her job first like she had. I wasn't surprised when Carla phoned me, about an hour after Teresa and I got off the phone.
"How come you aren't interested in taking me on any trips with you?"
"How come you don't have a job yet? At least two of your sisters have jobs to go to."
"I don't want a career. I want to settle down, get married, and raise a family. Why aren't you asking me to go with you to Europe this summer?"
"Carla, I lost interest in being with you when we broke up over that new car thing. I'm also not interested in settling down, or getting married. I've got too much to do trying to keep my grandfather's business operating. He died before he could teach me all I'll need to know."
"What else? Let's see, I like all three of your sisters better than I like you."
"That was mean."
"Yes, I'm sorry I said it, but it wasn't a lie."
"We were good together, in most ways, Frank."
"We never wanted the same thing. I never understood how you were when we were together."
"We were very compatible in bed."
"Teresa and I are even more compatible."
"You could have us both. You could have all four of us, if that is what you wanted. None of us would get jealous, not as long as you kept it in the family."
"That is good to know. If I were to want to settle down with anyone, it wouldn't be with anyone willing to share me with anyone else."
"You've already been with all of us. What difference does it make now?"
"I can't explain it, Carla, but it does make a difference to me."
Two weeks later, I took off for Europe, unaccompanied. It was a better trip than I expected, at least from a business point of view. Personally, I was somewhat lonely traveling by myself. It is harder to enjoy things when there is no one there to share it with. I sent a few postcards to the Scarpelli sisters, from several cities in France. I also sent them cards from Monte Carlo, Nice, Rome, Berlin, Munich, Lisbon, Braga, Madrid, Granada and Cordoba.
The Dollar was very strong, and the Euro was inordinately weak, owing to the Greek debt crisis. Due to this, and a general economic malaise I was seeing throughout Europe, I was able to purchase much more than my grandfather and I usually would have done. Because of this, I extended my trip an additional two weeks, and visited more growers and vineyards.