The construction had been going on for five months now and was nearing the end. Eric stared out at the pavers and steamrollers as they crawled along the new onramps, putting asphalt down on the $6.8 million project he had worked on for the past two years as a member of the Heritage County Department of Civil Engineering. It was the Deer Creek Boulevard project in south Heritage County, a badly needed onramp/offramp/overcrossing of Deer Creek Boulevard and Interstate 5. When it was complete the residents of the fast growing Deer Creek section of the county would be able to commute to work without having to go five miles out of their way to the next onramp.
"A real work of art," said Julie Pendleton, who was standing next to him. Julie was a drainage and irrigation specialist. She had worked closely with him as he'd designed and overseen the roadways.
He shrugged. "It looks pretty on paper," he said with a note of bitterness, "and it's coming in under budget, but..."
"I know," she said sympathetically. "It'll be a mess when it comes to practicality. For what its worth, I agree with your reasoning. I'm sorry the bosses didn't."
Eric nodded. Though he had engineered most of the onramp/offramp system, the basic design was one he sternly disagreed with. In order to save on construction costs the traffic-engineering department had insisted on a dual-purpose feeder/extrication ramp system — a concept in which the traffic leaving the freeway and that entering the freeway shared the same portion of the ramp for about four hundred yards. What this meant is that during rush hour there would be one line of cars trying to merge to the left to get on the freeway while another group was trying to merge to the right to enter the cloverleaf portion and circle up to the Deer Creek Boulevard overpass. Such designs had already been proven inefficient and prone to accidents in other metropolitan areas in which they had been used. But that didn't cut any shit with the traffic engineers or the board of supervisors. All they cared about was that it would shave $2.2 million and four months off the project.
"Fuck 'em," Eric said. "What do I care, anyway? I don't have to drive on the friggin thing."
"Amen to that," Julie agreed. Both of them lived in the more established northern suburbs of Heritage County.
"So, you dumped that boyfriend of yours yet?" Eric asked her, lowering his voice a tad just in case one of the other engineers happened by.
She smiled, knowing he was joking but also knowing there was a small shred of seriousness as well. "Not yet," she said. "Why? Does someone miss me?"
Someone did miss her. Several someones in fact. There was a certain... well... relationship between Eric, Julie, and Eric's wife, Maureen. It had started at a Labor Day party nearly four years before when Julie and Maureen had gotten drunk together and decided to go get their belly buttons pierced. A relatively sober Eric had driven them. Following the piercings they had ended up at Eric and Julie's house where the three of them had ended up having a full-blown sexual threesome. It had not been a one-time-only occurrence. That first encounter had only served to convince Julie and Maureen that they were indeed bisexual - as both had always suspected of themselves. Every two months or so after that, the three of them would get together at either Julie's house or Eric and Maureen's, get drunk, and have a sweaty, lustful, no-holds-barred ménage a trois. Sadly, the get-togethers had ended six months before when Julie started dating her dentist, Will Shaver DDS, who was a nice but somewhat square and prudish man.
"Let's just say that Maureen really got to enjoy a softer touch in the bedroom once in a while," Eric said.
"And what about you?" she asked. "You never seemed to mind it either."
He laughed. "I'm a guy. I'd be up for it every day and twice on Sunday if I could."
She joined his laughter. "I always liked your honesty, Eric. And I miss our little get-togethers too. Especially... you know... the Maureen part."
"Well thanks a lot," he said, feigning offense.
"Oh you," she said, blushing. "You know I enjoyed your part in it too."
And in fact, he did know this. He had vivid recollections of driving in and out of her body from behind while her face was buried between his wife's legs, moaning with pleasure, urging him to fuck her harder, to fuck her faster.
"But Will is giving me that part now," she said, then considered. "Or at least a reasonable facsimile of it. He just can't give me the Maureen part. And I don't think he would really be interested in trying if I found another Maureen who was willing to join us. He's a little uptight about things like that." She shrugged. "What can you do?"
Eric had a good idea of what she could do. She could dump the little teeth drilling dweeb and come back over to their house for some real sex. But of course he would never say that to her. Instead, he just duplicated her shrug and repeated her words. "What can you do?"
Their discussion drifted back to the principals of drainage engineering and roadbed construction. Both concluded that the project - though not what they'd initially envisioned - was going as well as could be expected. Julie then went over to examine one of the pipe systems she'd designed. Eric started towards the construction foreman, with whom he wanted to discuss the asphalt mixture. Before he could get there, however, his combination PDA/cell phone began to ring from within the holder on his belt. The caller ID told him it was Maureen. He ducked over behind a portable toilet to block some of the machinery noise and answered.
"Hey, baby," he said. "What's up?"
"It's noisy there," she commented. "Are you out on site?"
"Yep. The Deer Creek overpass. They're doing the paving."
"Ahh," she said. "No wonder I couldn't get you on your office line. Listen, I just got a real interesting call."
"It was from a woman named Lorrinda. She said she wanted look at one of the rentals. The one on Mission Avenue."
The rentals she was referring to was a side business they had gotten into early in their marriage, during the great real estate stagnation of the mid-90's. Unable to sell their first house when their expanding family had outgrown it, they'd elected to rent it out instead, a venture that had proved somewhat profitable. These days they owned six rental properties; two houses, three duplexes, and a small apartment complex. Though the rentals were a lot of work, they pulled in almost as much income each year as Eric's salary. And they were great tax breaks as well. The Mission Avenue rental was one of the houses, the nicer of the two they owned. A three bedroom on a premium lot in a decent neighborhood, it had been recently vacated by the previous tenants and had been on the market for just over a week now.
"So what's strange about that?" Eric asked. "Did you make an appointment to show it to her."
"Well... yes," Maureen said. "But that's not the strange part. She asked for you by name."
That was a little bit strange. In the advertisements they put in the paper they did not list their names, just the phone number for the business line they had in their home. "Hmmm," he said. "Interesting. Did you ask her how she knew my name?"
"Oh I did," she said.
"Well, it seems this woman thought I was your secretary instead of your wife. She says that she used to date you."
"She used to date me?" he asked, raising his eyebrows.
"That's what she said," Maureen huffed, though it was a playful huff. "Anything you need to tell me, hon?"
"I don't think so," he said. "I haven't dated too much since we got married. And I don't think I dated anyone named... what was her name again?"
"Lorrinda," she said. "Lorrinda Bryant."
"Lorrinda," he repeated. "I never dated a Lorrinda before we were married." Even as he said that, though, a small tinge of association wanted to come forth. And it wasn't a pleasant association.
"She said her last name used to be Mitchell," Maureen said next.
This brought the association much closer. That last name did sound familiar, horribly familiar. In fact, it felt like it was attached to one of those memories that he would prefer to keep buried. The name brought up thoughts of laughter, pointed fingers, derision.
"She say anything else?" he asked her.
"Yes, that she wanted you to personally show the house to her. And that her friends call her Renny."
"Renny," he whispered, feeling a chill of shame running up and down his spine. "Oh my God."
"Hon?" Maureen said, picking up on the tone of his voice. "Are you all right? Do you remember her now?"
"Yeah," he said slowly, bitterly. "I remember." He shook his head. "Renny Mitchell. Holy shit."
"Who is she? Did you really date her?"
He sighed. "I suppose you could say I did. Just one time."
There was a pause. "Did you... you know... did you and she..."
"No," he spat. "Nothing like that. I didn't even kiss her. The date was a set-up. She took me to a..."
Another sigh. "A party," he said. "Look, you know what I was like back in college. I was an engineering major. Basically, I was a nerd, right?"
"Well, sure, but I was a nerd in college too. I majored in computer programming for God's sake. What's the big deal? I'm a part-time programmer and you're a full time engineer. We're both still nerds when you come down to it. Haven't you accepted that by now?"
"Well, yeah," he said. And it was true. It really was no big deal. He was a nerd by definition but he was a nerd married to a beautiful, sensuous fellow nerd who didn't mind allowing him to fuck another beautiful and sensuous nerd as long as she got to be there and fuck her too. How many non-nerds could claim something like that? Not too many, he would venture to say. But that was hardly the point. People, especially nerds, carried scars from their younger years. Renny represented a major scar. "She was there on a cheerleading scholarship," he told Maureen.
"Ahhh," Maureen said. "One of those."
"Yeah, one of those. She was beautiful and popular, part of the in-crowd, you know? The kind of girl that wouldn't even look at someone like me when she passed him in the hall. The kind of girl whose shit doesn't stink."
"Except, when I was a freshman and she was a sophomore, she did start to look at me in the hall. It happened all of a sudden. She started saying hi to me, started going out of her way to talk to me. It was quite overwhelming for someone who had only been on a few dates before."
"What did she do?"
"She kept flirting with me for about a week and then she finally asked me if I wanted to go to a party with her."
"And you said yes."
"I said yes," he confirmed. "And I went."
The memory was completely back with him now and it was not pleasant. "Well, apparently it was a party thrown by the jocks and the cheerleaders - the popular crowd. The object was for the participants to invite the nerdiest people they could find. It was something of a contest, you see."
"A pig party," Maureen said.
"You've heard of them?" he asked, surprised.
"Yeah," she said bitterly. "I... uh... went to one myself once. And not as one of the popular people."
"Wow," he said softly, amazed. They had been married for eleven years now, had known each other for thirteen, and in all that time neither of them had ever told the other their pig party stories.
"So what happened at yours?" she asked. "Did you win?"
"No," he said. "I left early, as soon as I figured out what was going on. I was there long enough though. Long enough to have a bunch of jocks asking me how many computer languages I knew, how many calculators I owned, how many... how many times I'd been laid. One of my friends... Milt Jackson... he was the winner in the guys category."
"Yeah," she said. "I didn't win either, although I stayed until the end. I got drunk there and was too bombed to realize what was going on until the next day."
There was silence for a few moments as they each contemplated the memories that had been dredged up. "So," Eric finally said, "how about you give me Miss Mitchell's phone number so I can call her up and tell her to take a flying fuck at a mainframe? That'll actually feel pretty good."
"I could do that," Maureen said. "But might I make another suggestion?"
"Let's show her the place, maybe even rent it to her."
"Well, wouldn't it be kind of fun to show little Miss used-to-be popular how successful you are now? How the guy she used to make fun of is now a rich and good-looking entrepreneur while she is forced to rent a house from him? And if she does qualify and moves in, wouldn't it be fun to constantly lord that over her? To remind her day in and day out how her pathetic little life sucks rocks?"
Eric hadn't really considered this. But now that he did, he kind of liked the way it sounded. "Hmmm," he said thoughtfully. "My dear, I think I like the way you think."
She giggled. "You always have, haven't you? I'll give her a call and try to set something up for tonight. And your secretary will be going with you."
They drove their BMW to the showing - all the better to display their wealth with - and made a point to arrive fifteen minutes later than the 7PM time Maureen had arranged. When they pulled up they saw a Mercedes parked out front. It was not a new Mercedes. At least eight years old, it had several scratches and dents in its once pristine body. Sitting behind the wheel was a woman with mop of blonde hair. The tinting of the window kept them from making out much more than that.
"Is that her?" Maureen asked as they pulled into the driveway.
He shrugged. "I'm sure it is, but she used to be brunette."
"Hmmph," Maureen grunted. She had strong opinions about women who dyed their hair.
They got out and stood before the car. Eric was dressed in a suit and tie, an outfit he usually only wore to formal functions. Maureen had on one of her best business dresses, the one she wore to job interviews. As they met near the rear of their car the driver's door of the Mercedes opened up and they got their first good look at Renny. Eric's eyes widened a bit as he took her in.
She'd put on some weight. That was the most obvious contrast with his memories of her. She was not obese by any means, and it wasn't really even unattractive on her — in fact her boobs had gained considerably from her expansion — but she was no longer a thin little waif in a cheerleading skirt, light enough to be hurled into the air by two other girls. If two girls tried it now they would probably throw their backs out. Her face had aged as well, and not just in the way that fifteen years of time will cause. She had worry lines around her eyes and around the corners of her mouth. She was still pretty, especially with the fake blonde hair, but she looked like a pretty forty-five year old instead of a pretty thirty-seven year old. She looked like a woman who hadn't enjoyed a life of fulfillment.
Still, she knew how to dress to accent her most attractive features. She wore a spaghetti-strap top that allowed the tops of her breasts to heave forth in all their glory. And her shorts were loose enough to hide the expansion of her rear end, yet short enough that her smooth legs were prominently displayed.
"Check out the fingernails and toenails," Maureen whispered. "You know what that means."
He suppressed a smile. Yes, he knew what that meant, or at least what conventional wisdom said it meant. A woman whose fingernails and toenails were identically manicured and painted was generally thought to be a woman who made sure everything in between those two points was properly groomed as well. Renny's fingernails and toenails were identical, painted in a shade of maroon that matched her top and her shorts.
"Eric," Renny squealed when she saw him, her face lighting up in a happy smile. She came running over, seeming to make a deliberate attempt to make her boobs bounce. She threw her arms around him and hugged him, pushing those soft boobs into his chest. She then kissed him soundly on the cheek, just a few millimeters away from his lips. "It's so good to see you. God, its been years, hasn't it?"
Eric gave her a token pat on the back as she hugged him. His eyes flitted over to Maureen, who was smirking at him, her eyebrows raised. "Yes," he said, pushing himself away. "It has been." He made a show of looking her up and down. "You look... uh... you know... good."
Her eyes flickered a little at this appraisal. She quickly recovered though. "And you look good too. Really good. You've put on some weight."
He choked back on the urge to say, so have you. Instead, he said, "Yeah, and I got rid of the glasses too. Nothing like laser surgery, huh?"
She laughed as if that was the funniest thing she'd ever heard.
"And look," he said, opening his sport coat to show her the Pierre Cardan shirt beneath. "No pocket protectors either."
This produced another round of contrived laughter. He let it go to completion and then waved to Maureen. "This is Maureen," he told her. "You talked to her on the phone."
"Hi," Renny said formally, tightly, her eyes suddenly cool. "It's very nice to meet you."
"Oh, its nice to meet you as well, Ms. Bryant," Maureen said. "I usually handle the rental showings for... uh... Mr. Stovington here and I should be able to answer a lot of the questions you might have."
"Uh huh," Renny said dismissively. She turned her attention back to Eric. "So how have you been, Eric? Everything's been working out for you?"
"Oh yes," he said. "Everything's working out fine. Tell me, uh... Renny. How did you know I owned this house?"
"Well, I saw your name in the paper a few weeks ago. Remember that article on real estate prices and rental rates?"
Eric nodded. A reporter from the Heritage Register, who had been doing a story on the rental market and the housing market, had interviewed him almost a month ago, seeking the opinion of a typical independent landlord. The story had only mentioned him once and had only quoted two lines of what he'd said. It certainly hadn't mentioned the addresses of any of his properties.
"I looked up what properties you owned on the internet," she said. "It's all public information, you know?"
"Why, Renny," he said. "That's very nerd-like of you, isn't it?"
She frowned at this reference. It was obvious she did not like being referred to in this manner.
"So," Maureen said, breaking the tension. "Shall we go look at the house then?"
They showed her the house, or at least Maureen did, taking her through her a typical tour of the three bedroom, two bath, single story. Renny hardly seemed to notice a thing. She asked no questions, just nodded whenever it seemed to be expected of her. She did make a point to stay as close to Eric as possible and to try to rub her body against his whenever feasible. Maureen saw this but pretended not to.
"Well, what do you think?" Eric asked when the tour was done. They were standing in the empty family room, looking out over the landscaped back yard.
"I like it," Renny said. "I think I'd like to move in as soon as possible."
"Uh huh," Maureen said. "Well, assuming you pass the credit check and your references check out, the rent is $1450 per month. That includes the gardening services and the garbage pick-up. The utilities are your responsibility. We also require a $1000 security deposit and a $45 fee for the credit check itself. The credit check fee, by the way, is non-refundable."
Renny cast an evil glare at Maureen. "And that's what you usually charge... you know... ordinary people?"
"Yes," Eric said. "That's what we charge."
"But what about friends?" Renny asked, giving a little giggle. "You know..." She sidled up to Eric, her hand touching his shoulder. "Old friends?"
"We charge everyone the same," Maureen said, glaring at her, her voice showing irritation for the first time. "It's a market thing, and a profit margin thing, you know?"
Renny shot a glare right back at her and then turned back to Eric. "Look, Eric," she said softly. "I really can't afford $1450 a month. I just got divorced a few months ago and that ex-husband of mine... well, he's a lawyer. You know how they are. He kind of screwed me with one of those pre-nuptial things."
"Well, I'm sorry to hear that," Eric said, "but..."
"And he got custody of my kids!" she blurted.
"Two of them," she said. "Justine and Jacob. They're twins."
"Oh... I see," Eric said. "But..."
"I only get to see them on the weekends," she said. "The rest of the time they're with him."
At this point, both Eric and Maureen began to feel the slightest tinge of sympathy for her. After all, what was worse than a mother being separated from her twin children? But then she shattered that sympathy in an instant with what she said next.
"And because I only get them on weekends, I'm not entitled to any child support payments. All I have to live on is the $3000 a month in alimony! Can you believe that?"
"How do you survive?" Maureen asked with feigned horror in her voice.
"It's not easy, let me tell you," Renny replied, completely missing the sarcastic tone. "Anyway, the reason the judge gave for not allowing me custody or more visitation is that I'm living in an apartment. He says that unless I can move into an actual house with an actual back yard, I'll be restricted to weekend visitation only. I need to get them at least four days every week in order to secure some child support." She looked at Eric and put her sweet smile back on her face. "That's why I'd be eternally grateful to you, Eric, if I could rent this place from you for... oh... say $1000 a month?"
"$1000 a month?"
"Yes," she said, batting her eyebrows. "I'd consider it a personal favor."
"Renny," he said, ready to end the little game now, "$1000 per month is well below market value for a rental property in this neighborhood. My mortgage payment on the property is more than that. I'm not in business to lose money."
"But we're old friends, Eric. We've dated, remember?"
"Dated?" he asked. "If you call inviting me to a..."
"Uh... Mr. Stovington?" Maureen suddenly cut in, stopping him before he could gear up into full-blown piss-off and tell-off mode.
He took a deep breath and turned slowly toward her. "Yes, Maureen?" he asked.
"Could I speak with you for a second? In private?"
He cast a glance at Renny once more and then walked over to Maureen. She led him off into a corner, out of Renny's earshot. There, they held a frantic, sometimes heated conversation that lasted nearly five minutes. Finally, they broke apart, a faint smile on both of their faces.
"Well, Renny," Eric told her, "why don't we give you a counter-offer?"
He nodded. "We put down 25% when we bought this property back in 1998. Our mortgage on it is $1025. The landscaper costs us $40 a month. We'll let you have the place on a month to month at cost."
"At cost?" she asked, confused.
"That means, we'll let you have it for $1065 if you pay the garbage and all the other utilities. How does that sound?"
She seemed to debate the wisdom of sticking to her guns and demanding $1000. You could almost see the struggle going on behind her eyes. But eventually she seemed to realize that she really didn't have any guns to stick to. She smiled. "I'll take it," she said.
"We thought you might," Maureen told her.
Eric produced a card from his wallet. It had his name, address, and phone numbers on it. "Why don't you come over to my house tomorrow evening to sign the rental agreement?"
"Your house?" she said, automatically suspicious.
"It's where my office is," he said. "Say around nine o'clock?"
"Nine o'clock? So late?"
Eric shrugged. "I have to work late tomorrow," he said.
She began to look extremely uneasy now. "Look, uh... Eric," she said. "Maybe I've given you the wrong impression about... you know..."
Eric waved in dismissal. "You don't have to worry about anything like that," he said. "This is on the up and up. Maureen will be there too, won't you Maureen?"
"Yes," Maureen said with a sigh, "It's our normal Friday night meeting. I could hardly miss it."
This visibly set Renny at ease. "Well, I suppose its okay," she said.
"Cool," Eric said. "You come over and we'll sign the forms and you can start moving in day after tomorrow."
This time her mood definitely improved. "Sounds good," she said. "I'll be there."
At 8:55 the next evening, Maureen and Eric were sitting on their couch, both somewhat anxious. They were dressed casually. Maureen wore a flower patterned summer dress, her rich brunette hair falling casually around her shoulders, her hemline falling to her knees. Eric wore a pair of Levi's and a faded T-shirt from his alma mater — CSUH. Both were sipping from glasses of chilled white wine. They had already put away one bottle and opened a second. Their children had been shipped off to Maureen's parents for the night.
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Eric asked, for perhaps the thousandth time in the last twenty-four hours.
"No," Maureen admitted. "But what do we have to lose? The worst that can happen is she can slap our faces and leave, right?"
"I suppose," he said.
"And I don't think she's going to do that. That child support money means a little too much to her."
He nodded. "Yes, I did get that impression. But are you sure that you really want to do this? I mean... you know... everything?"
Her eyes took on a shine of arousal — a shine he hadn't seen since the last time they'd gotten together with Julie. "I'm sure," she said. "I'm really sure."
"But what about the... you know... the immorality of it?"
Maureen shrugged. "Did she show you any sympathy when she took you to the pig party?" she asked. "Did she care that you stormed out in the middle of it? Did she ever talk to you again after that, even in passing?"
"No," he said.
"Not until last night, when she wanted something for you. Fuck that bitch. This is nothing more than what she and everyone like her deserves. You reap what you fuckin sow in this life."
Eric had nothing to say to that. Maureen's feelings about people like Renny — people who thought themselves superior to others, people who used others like tools and then cast them aside — were much stronger than his.
"Besides," Maureen said, "if things work out the way we want them, it won't be like she's being tortured or anything, will it?"
"No, I guess not," he said.
The doorbell rang a moment later. They went to the door together. Eric opened it, revealing Renny on their front porch. She wore a pair of jeans and a button-up blouse, neither one particularly alluring on her. Her hair was loose around her shoulders. Her face showed an expression of pleasant anticipation.
"Eric," she said, smiling warmly. "Nice to see you again." She did forgo the hug and the kiss on the cheek this time, however.
"Come on in, Renny," Eric told her. "Thank you for showing up so promptly."
Renny shrugged. She glanced at Maureen, seemed to cast a disapproving look at her attire, and then ignored her presence completely.
"Why don't we go into the living room?" Eric suggested, leading her that way. "We have all the proper documents there."
The living room was brightly lit, the overhead lights and the lamps all shining brightly. The television was turned off, all of the kids' toys were put away, the carpet neatly vacuumed and cleaned. Classic rock music played from the stereo speakers at a volume just barely above sub-audible. The rental agreement and the accompanying paperwork were stacked neatly on the oak coffee table.
"It's a nice place you got here, Eric," Renny said appreciatively. "You seem to have done all right for yourself."
"Yes," Eric said, waving her towards the couch. "We nerds usually do, don't we?"
She looked at him, not liking the serious expression on his face. She swallowed nervously. "You weren't really a nerd nerd," she said. "You know?"
He shrugged. "I was a nerd nerd," he said. "And I still am, as a matter of fact. I do calculus for fun. I know how to solve physics equations. I like to watch Star Trek. I've even been to a Star Trek convention."
"I was there with him," Maureen put in, grabbing a seat in the recliner. "We went as Klingons." She giggled. "He didn't even have to pad his crotch. He's got quite the package, you know. Oh... sorry. I guess you don't know, do you?"
Renny looked at the two of them uncomfortably as she sat on the couch. "No," she said at last. "I... uh... guess I don't." She licked her lips, nervously instead of seductively. "Are you saying that you and Eric are... you know..."
Maureen laughed. "We've been fucking each other for thirteen years now," she said.
"Wow," Renny said, her eyes shining now. "And your wife doesn't know?" She turned to Maureen, her eyes flitting to the ring on her finger. "Or your husband?"
Eric laughed. "You sure act like a blonde, even if it isn't real," he said.
"Huh?" she asked.
"Eric is my husband," Maureen said.
"And Maureen is my wife," Eric put in, in case she wasn't able to figure that out as well.
She looked from one to the other of them and then burst out laughing. "Oh my God," she said. "I really didn't know. I thought that he was... you know... I mean, you're really pretty and everything. I didn't think that Eric could..." She blushed as she figured out what she'd been about to say. "So... what about that rental agreement?"
Eric and Maureen exchanged a glance, both of them silently smiling at each other.
"The rental agreement," Eric said. "Very good. Why don't you pick it up and look it over. Make sure we're not trying to... uh... screw you or anything."
She glanced at him nervously for a second but calmed when she looked over at Maureen. "Sure," she said, picking it up. She began to scan it. It didn't take long. It was a standard, month-to-month rental agreement that stipulated rent would be $1065 per month, that all utilities would be paid by the tenant, and that the agreement could be nullified by either party with thirty days notice. "It looks okay," she said when she was done. "Do you have a pen?"
"Yes," Eric said. "I do." He made no move to produce it.
Renny looked from one to the other of them, not really liking the way they were looking at her. "Uh... could I use it?" she asked.
Eric shook his head. "Not just yet," he told her.
"Uh... how come?"
"There are a few other... unwritten things that we need to go over before we sign. Just some formalities."
She leaned back a bit, confusion now showing. "What kind of formalities?"
"Well," Eric said, "we're letting you rent this house at cost. Do you know what that means? It means we won't be making any profit on it."
"Uh... yeah," she said, "but you won't be losing any on it either."
Maureen clapped her hands facetiously. "Wow. Have we taken an intro to business course somewhere?"
"Well... yeah," Renny said. "Back in college, but..."
"I'm sure they probably covered the concept of hot and cold markets then, didn't they?" Eric asked. "Right now it's a hot market for rental properties. I'm sure you figured that out when you started looking into renting a place, right? It seems like there's five people who want to rent each available unit, doesn't it?"
"Well... uh... yeah," she said slowly.
"So if we didn't rent to you, we could have someone else in here within a week paying full price, right?"
She looked at them, her face showing her dawning realization that she might be in a bit over her head here. "What is it you want?"
"We want you to make it worthwhile for us to give up $385 a month in profit," Maureen said. "That's a lot of money. It only seems fair that since we're doing you a favor, you should do us a favor."
Renny looked from one to the other. "What kind of favor?"
Maureen smiled. "Sex."
Renny giggled nervously. "No, seriously," she said. "What do you want?"
"I was being quite serious, my dear," Maureen told her. "Eric and I have voracious appetites for sex. And it just so happens that the nice lady who was supplementing us in that department went and got herself a boyfriend."
Renny looked at them, her mouth hanging open. "You are serious," she said. "You thought that I would... that Eric and I would..." Her expression turned to one of horror. "Wait a minute. You said 'us'. You're talking about... about... both of you?"
"That would be part of the agreement," Eric said casually.
"You freaks!" Renny yelled. "Are you out of your nerdy little minds? You though I would sleep with you because... because... God! I'd rather be boiled in oil!"
"Oh we're not that kinky," Maureen said. "We stick to your basic threesome kind of sex mostly. And of course we'll make sure you are sufficiently pleasured as well, won't we, Eric?"
"Of course," he said. "Maureen is quite the pussy eater. And I'm no slouch at it either, if I do say so myself."
"And he's got a really nice cock," Maureen added. "He knows how to put it to very good use."
"That's it," Renny said, standing up. "I'm out of here!"
She started walking. They made no move to stop her.
"Suit yourself," Eric said. "But good luck finding a house for rent in Heritage County for anything less than $1300."
"Yep," Maureen said. "I don't even think you can get one in Elm Park for that cheap."
She had reached the door by this time. Her hand fell on the doorknob. She started to turn it but stopped mid-turn. She slowly turned around. "I could call the cops on you, you know. What you're doing is attempted rape."
"No," Eric said. "Rape involves the use of force or threats of violence. It means the act is committed without the consent of the victim. What we are doing is attempting to secure your consent by offering you a monetary advantage. That is against the law as well, though. It falls under the heading of soliciting for prostitution if you want to get all technical. It's a misdemeanor, and one that is completely deniable if you should complain."
"Prostitution?" Renny asked. "You think I'm a whore?"
"Whore is such an ugly word," Maureen told her. "We prefer to say we are making a simple business/pleasure agreement."
"Well you can just forget it," Renny said. "I'm not that kind of girl."
"Oh no?" Eric asked. "Then how come you're still standing there?"
"You haven't left yet. Obviously some part of you must be considering our offer."
She said nothing. Her eyes were focused on the floor between her feet.
"When we were in college," Eric said, "you always used to date the rich kids. Phi Beta Kappa's only need apply. And you had quite the reputation among them, didn't you?"
"That doesn't mean I'm a whore," she said.
"Oh?" he asked. "So you only happened to fall in love with rich kids who were future doctors and lawyers? Stop playing Miss Innocent. I'm just pointing out that sleeping with people to get something from them is not a foreign concept with you, right?"
"I never really looked at it that way," she said. "Besides, those were guys! You're suggesting I do it with a girl too. I'm not a lesbian!"
Eric laughed. "I seem to remember a story going around about how you and Jennifer Beasley put on a little show at a Phi Beta Kappa frat party one night. Something about making out in the hot tub and sucking on each other's tits."
She blushed bright red. It was obvious she hadn't realized he had heard about that little incident. "We were drunk," she said. "And it was just pretending."
"Hey, who's asking for sincerity here?" Maureen said. "If you can pretend for some college slut, you can pretend for us."
"Yeah," Eric said. "And I have a feeling you might enjoy our technique a little more. I mean, look at Maureen. Isn't she pretty? You yourself said she was."
"Well... yeah. She is pretty."
"And don't you appreciate the beauty of a pretty girl?"
"Well... yeah, but that doesn't mean I want to sleep with them."
"Did you like kissing Jennifer?" he asked. "The feeling of a girl's tongue in your mouth? The press of a girl's breasts against yours?"
She swallowed nervously, her eyes flitting from Maureen to the floor. "It was... you know... all right."
"I remember the first time I kissed a girl," Maureen said. "It was one of the most erotic moments of my life. And it happened right here, on this very couch."
"Really?" Renny asked, her tongue sliding out and touching her lips again, only this time it was not quite a nervous gesture.
"Really," Maureen confirmed, not mentioning that it was the girl's freshly pierced belly button she had actually kissed first, followed by her pussy. It hadn't been until well into the second act — when they'd moved to the bedroom and Maureen and Julie had been sucking Eric's cock together — that they had kissed each other on the mouth. "When was the last time you got laid, hon?"
"Not since about a month before we separated," she said.
"So we're talking about eight months or so here? Maybe a little more?"
"You must be horny as hell about now," Maureen said. "Christ, I have a hard time if I have to go a week without some nice hard cock sliding into me."
"Well... yeah, it has been a little tough," she admitted.
"We can take care of that for you," Maureen said softly. "I'm willing to share my husband with you and my own body as well. And on top of that, we'll knock $385 off your rent. How can you resist an offer like that? Are we really asking you to do something so unpleasant?"
Renny licked her lips a few more times, her face showing something like arousal now. "I'm not sure," she said. "This is just so... I don't know... weird."
"Is it Eric?" Maureen asked. "Do you find him unattractive? I mean, I know there's the built in prejudice those like you feel for people you define as nerds, but really, he's not repulsive, is he?"
Renny looked at Eric, seeming to actually appraise him for the first time. "No," she said, almost surprised. "He's actually kind of cute."
"So there's really no problem then, is there?" Maureen asked.