Have you ever met a man you instantly feared? Who made you quake deep down inside?
I don't mean a physical fear. I mean a sexual fear.
A fear he would possess you as his own. A fear he would reach deep into your woman's heart to seize your innermost feelings, making you eager to do what he wished of you.
And a fear he might do nothing. A fear the deep gut longing for him would be unfulfilled, leaving you aching and wanting.
I'd heard other women speak of such fears. They're referring to movie stars or rock musicians they drool over in a fantasy. In my life, my real life, I'd never met such a man.
I was almost forty. My husband, George Phillips, and I had been married twenty-one years. We have two wonderful daughters, Polly, 20, and Patty, 18.
For the past twelve years, George and I worked hard to build our business. For ten of those years, the business grew and prospered. But for the last two years, the business suffered a steady and steep decline because George's overly ambitious expansion plans exploded in our faces. We were threatened with bankruptcy.
George started to drink heavily. Alcohol and stress turned his previously kind disposition to a sour and depressed mania. Our children suffered with us. Seeing their parents depressed was hard on them. We couldn't afford for either of them to go to college.
George is fifteen years older than I. In a way, our relationship was father and daughter. We began dating when I was seventeen. He took my virginity when I was eighteen. When I became pregnant with Polly, we married. I'd never had another man. Our major marital disagreement had been over the number of children. I wanted four. George insisted we have only two. He had a vasectomy to prevent additional children. I missed those days. I missed the feel of a baby, of the life in me, of nursing my child. I missed the closeness with the man who made that baby with me. George and I began to drift apart after those early, baby days.
Sex with George was pleasant and sweet, but never exciting. When I married him, I knew it would never be the bomb bursts my friends gossiped of. Our sex was more passive than that. When the business began its downturn, he became impotent. It'd been two years since we made love. For the last year, we slept in separate beds, not even touching during the night.
I'm five five and in good physical condition. I'm told I'm pretty. My daughters inherited my dark blonde hair and green eyes, my smile with the one dimple. My breasts are still high and firm, but my bottom and legs are my most attractive feature.
I never intended to attract men. I dressed demurely, preferring loose blouses and long, full skirts to hide myself from prying male eyes. I lived a life without carnal desires, keeping myself chaste except for my husband. I was a modest and faithful wife.
During this siege of unhappiness, our bright spot was Polly. She'd fallen desperately in love with a man. We hadn't met him yet, but she said he was magnificent, very intelligent, well educated and successful in business. His name was Eric Winston.
His only negative, from what she told me, was that he was thirty-two, twelve years older than she was. As Polly pointed out, George was fifteen years my senior so I couldn't complain about the age difference. Polly gushed about him, revealing a depth of love and wanting beyond anything I'd experienced.
During the next month, the business continued its relentless slide toward bankruptcy. George fought to survive, even if the hope of survival seemed dim. I knew if he failed after redoubling his efforts, the loss would be much more devastating. Too often it seems, a man's self worth is tied inexorably to his company and his position. I worried constantly about his mental and physical health.
George and I were home one Friday night about ten, getting ready to go to bed. We were exhausted from the demands of the business. As usual, it had been a long and difficult week. Patty was already asleep. The front door burst open. Polly, giggling and wiggling with happiness, charged into the room with a man right behind her.
"Mother! Dad! Eric asked me to marry him! I said yes."
I saw Eric Winston for the first time. Hot, prickly fingers walked down my spine. I flushed. Lights dimmed except around him. I was giddy and nauseous. Every sense was overloaded. I stared at him as he shook George's hand in greeting. He turned to me and smiled. His eyes held me. Heat flashed through me, like a heavy blush, leaving my nipples erect and a wetness seeping between my legs.
I'd met him - the man who could possess me. The man who could take me and make me his. Never before had I felt the intense, demanding, female need to throw myself at a man.
"Mother, are you all right?" Polly asked, taking my hands. "Why are you crying?"
"Your mother's just happy for you, dear," Eric said. "Let me help you, Karen."
My right hand in his, his left hand at my waist, he guided me to a chair. Was my robe on fire from the heat of his hand on me? Could no one else smell the scent I extruded? When I sat, I looked up at him. He could feel it. He could smell it. He knew.
Polly and George solicitously murmured around me. Didn't they see the sexual need in me? Didn't they feel my agony? Oh, god, what was I going to do? I wanted him so much.
I must resist him! I must! He was my daughter's fiancé, her man not mine. I took a deep breath and prayed. Karen Phillips, wife and mother, pushed her unbridled carnal desire to the background and smiled benignly. For the first time since he arrived, I took a normal breath.
Physically, Eric was about six three. He was lean and raw boned, with big wrists and hands. His chest looked powerful, his arms strong. His hair was black and cut short. He was graying at the temples. His face was ruggedly masculine and handsome.
His most dominant feature was his eyes. They were large and deep set in large eyeholes, under thick, long black lashes and below heavy black eyebrows. Their color was a startling, deep, blue. They were compelling eyes, demanding eyes, eyes which might well be cruel. Those eyes could be soft and kind, too, as they were now.
He sat on the couch with Polly next to him, both her hands hidden by one of his. His voice was very pleasant, a well-modulated baritone. Its smoothness, the easy rhythm of his words, the timbre, all were pleasing and reassuring. It was hypnotic.
I was dressed in a long flannel nightgown which covered me head to toe and wore over it a thick and fleecy terry cloth bathrobe. But when he looked at me, I felt naked.
Polly was ecstatic, beaming brightly in her joy. She extended her hand to flash a solitaire diamond engagement ring. Her wriggling fingers distorted our view, but its size and quality were self-evident. I noticed a new necklace around her lovely neck. It was a gold choker with a small ring in front. From the ring dangled another diamond which matched the one on her finger.
We visited about wedding plans and their future. My eyes were constantly drawn to his, requiring conscious effort on my part to look away. They were as hypnotic as his voice. He enjoyed our eye game and my distress from it. Once a special smile flickered across his face. It made me shiver. It was the smile a man gives a woman when he intends to have intercourse with her.
I don't know why Polly and George were oblivious to his flirting with me. Couldn't they see what I saw? Couldn't they see how he appealed to me, how I wanted him? Couldn't they see this seduction in progress? Couldn't they see I was helpless?
Polly's exuberance invigorated us, but it was the presence of Eric Winston which energized me. We'd talked almost an hour when Eric changed the topic.
"Polly told me a few things about your business problems. That's my area of expertise. I'll be happy to assist you anyway I can," he said.
We talked until two in the morning. George and I unburdened ourselves, releasing our business worries like a dam burst releasing the water of a thousand brutal rains. Eric acted truly interested. His knowledge, insight and certainty impressed me. Every thing about him impressed me.
During those hours, our eye game continued. I saw that look again and again. Its implications were constantly in my mind. As a mother, I was angered my daughter's fiancé would look at me like that. As a wife, I resented his giving me that look in my own living room with my husband present. As a woman, I was terrified. He wanted me. He'd stop at nothing to have me. My anxiety bubbled like a cauldron.
Karen, it's you that's flirting with him. Stop it, a voice in my head said. It's not me, I thought in reply.
"I think I can help," Eric said. "When can I take a look at the books?"
"I've got a golf tournament with my biggest customer this weekend. How about Monday?" George answered anxiously.
"I'd like to do it tomorrow," Eric replied. "Karen's the accountant, isn't she?"
"Of course! She can show you everything. You two won't need me," George said.
"No, I couldn't," escaped me.
"Sure you can, honey," George said emphatically.
George's tone of voice and expression were clear. He wanted me to meet Eric on Saturday. Polly still hadn't noticed Eric's dance with me. And Eric smiled at me in a way which drove me mad. I was horrified I would be spending the better part of my Saturday alone with him, no matter the reason. I hid my reservations, warmly saying I'd be glad to meet him. We set a time and ended our evening. After he left with Polly, George and I went to bed.
"Karen, he's the answer to our prayers. Don't hold anything back. Give Eric whatever he wants," George said intently.
.... There is more of this story ...