Crystal Chandeliers
Chapter 1

Copyright© 2007 by Jake Rivers

Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Chuck's marriage was going great until a rich corporate mogul from New York came to his ranch to hunt. Can his marriage be saved? And who is Ana?

Caution: This Romantic Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa   Romantic   Cheating  

Oh, the crystal chandeliers light up the paintings on your wall
The marble statuettes are standing stately in the hall
But will the timely crowd that has you laughing loud help you
dry your tears
When the new wears off of your crystal chandeliers.
Charlie Pride


The two thousand acre ranch had been in the family since old Amos Curtain had come to Texas to dig wild cattle out of the scrub brush northwest of Matagorda Bay. Amos - less his right arm left behind in Vicksburg - did admirably well in pulling together enough of the scrawny longhorns to do a drive along the dusty, old Opelousas Trail to New Orleans.

When it got crowded there he moved west to the brush country southwest of San Antonio. Old Amos had kept the name of the original ranch even though the new place was 150 miles west of Coleto Creek. A few years later, drives were made up the Chisholm and Goodnight Trails to Kansas.

Over the years the ranch grew, reaching its largest size of around nine thousand acres around 1890. After that the ranch was gradually broken down as land was given to offspring over the generations. I was an only child and my dad was fifty-seven when I was born. By the time I was old enough to know what was going on, the ranch was pretty much out of business.

Mom moved into a nursing home and I went to college in Lubbock in the Restaurant, Hotel and Institutional Management program at Texas Tech. I was Charles Curtain but everyone called me Chuck... had since I was a toddler. When I finished school, I took a job in San Antonio as an assistant manager of one of the better hotels, The Sam Houston, close to the Alamo and the River Walk. I was able to keep the ranch... well, at least I paid the taxes.

It seemed that all the guys I met — first in college and later at the hotel - loved to hunt so we'd go down to my ranch and hunt whatever was in season: ranging from huge whitetails, to wild hogs, javelinas, bobcats, and coyotes. There were a number of other animals, many of which could be hunted every day of the year.

At the suggestion of a banker from Houston, I put together a brochure on hunting at the ranch and started leaving it at other hotels besides the Sam Houston. Business started picking up and I hired a girl I'd more or less fallen in love with, Sophie Adler, to take care of details for me. She was a professor in the English department at UTSA. I'd met her at a party a bunch of people from the hotel had put together. I guess she'd came with her roommate who worked at the hotel.

She was quite pretty and definitely the tallest girl I'd ever met up close and personal. With her high heels on she was actually a bit taller than I was. When I first saw her standing at the other side of the room, the words that came to mind were long, tall and lanky. She was wearing a black sheath dress that showed her short dishwater blond curls and slim, curvy shape off to advantage.

We danced a few times and seemed to hit it off. I liked how bright she was. We were at the recreation center of a large apartment complex and wandered out by the pool. Sitting down while we sipped our drinks, we chatted about a wide range of subjects. I was totally taken with her. Sure, I had a number of girlfriends over the years — growing up and in college — but none of them moved me the way Sophie did.

I did arrange a dinner for the next week and later in my hotel room (a perk as assistant manager) I thought about her. I don't know that I believed in love at first sight but I was sure smitten with her. Even clearer in my mind, I was head over heels in lust with her. It wasn't any one thing about her but the total package excited the hell out of me.

A few months after I met her I was hosting a barbeque out at the ranch and made sure she was invited. Watching her play volleyball in her brief, tight shorts and tank top was the sexiest thing I'd ever seen. She was the best volleyball player — man or woman — that I'd ever seen. It seemed so effortless and she seemed to particularly enjoy slamming the ball in the faces of the guys across the net leering at her. She jumped higher than I would have thought possible with an effortless grace... it almost seemed in slow motion.

She seemed interested in the ranch so I invited her out the next weekend to show her around. I looked forward all week to her visit. This was mid-summer and hot so I told her to dress casual and comfortable. When I picked her up she was wearing low-cut jean shorts and a white blouse tied at the waist. The top two buttons were undone showing ample cleavage... damn!

I showed her around the house first. I'd mostly closed off the upstairs — it was too much for me to keep up. I'd made what had been a large, pecan-paneled library into my bedroom. I'd knocked out a door in the wall connecting to a bathroom and remodeled it: taking out the old claw tub and putting in a large shower and new sink and toilet. It came out real nice. I was pleased since I'd done most of the work myself.

The kitchen was huge, taking up the back third of the first floor of the house. I'd installed new appliances since I needed to feed the guys that came out to hunt. I would hire one of the neighbor ladies to come in to do the cooking.

I showed Sophie the outbuildings and the firing range — and explained to her why I had to have one. As we were driving out in my jeep — it was an old WWII Willys Jeep I'd restored while in high school — Sophie asked about the three log cabins.

"This is where the hunters stay. They come anywhere from a couple of days to a week or so. I am the hunting guide whenever I can but I usually have to hire some of the locals. I could make a lot more money if I had someone to help with the cooking and do all the scheduling. If I can do that I think I could quit the hotel and do this full time."

We stopped and looked through the cabins. They were small and simple but very clean and utilitarian. They each had a fireplace, two small bedrooms and a decent sized living room.

"Chuck, if you don't mind my asking, what does someone pay to come here and hunt?"

"Well, a good example is the whitetail deer. I charge $3,500 for a four-day hunt for one buck and three does. A spring turkey hunt is $1,000 for three days." I could see her eyes get big at this, so I continued, "Well, we don't have hunters in continuously, and I have to pay a good chunk of that money to hire guides and cooks/cleaners."

She looked thoughtful at this and we continued the tour of the ranch. It really was quite beautiful and we saw a lot of wildlife that I pointed out to her as we drove around. I'd picked up lunch at a deli near the hotel and had it packed in a cooler with a couple bottles of one of the nicer Chardonnays — they were from Chalk Hill out in Sonoma County in the California wine country.

The couple that owned it had been out hunting a couple of times — mostly quail and dove — and sent me a case for Christmas each year. They had stayed at the hotel several times and I made sure they were well taken care of.

We wound up at the lunch spot a little after noon at the place I'd picked out. There was a year 'round creek with a deep pool that was my swimmin' hole as a kid. I'd trucked in a homemade picnic table and parked it on a grassy slope under a huge live oak. It was the prettiest spot on the ranch. We enjoyed the lunch and lay on a blanket afterwards.

We'd kissed a few times, maybe some light petting but nothing really serious had happened on our dates. I had some hopes but between the wine, food and the hot afternoon we fell asleep after a few gentle kisses. I woke to the relatively cold feeling of water being splashed on me. Sophie's husky laugh was slowly penetrating my heat-logged mind.

I sat up... and saw Sophie standing waist deep in the water with water slowly trickling down her breasts. She laughed at me and ducked under the water, swimming to the far side of the small but deep pool. Not needing an invitation I slipped out of my jeans and tee shirt and walked the few steps to the creek — her eyes were on me as I stepped into the warmish, clear water. Her face was flushed... I didn't think it was the heat.

I slowly swam over to her - meeting her with a wet embrace. Our kiss started slowly and rapidly became passionate. With one hand on her firm breast, I ran the other up and down her back, coming to rest on her buttocks. We stayed there, petting each other with a growing lust and then with an unspoken agreement we swam back to our picnic area.

She got out first and walked over to the blanket. I stood there unmoving, admiring her taut body. She had wide shoulders that tapered to a small waist then flared over her hips and enticingly lovely derrière. I noticed that her broad hips, her slender waist and the cleavage of her rear end created an almost perfect shape of a heart.

She lay on the blanket and opened her arms to me. I knelt beside her, kissing her at first tenderly, then with a deep passion. While we were kissing I massaged her breasts, her larger than expected nipples becoming turgid with her need. I knew as I took her nipple in my mouth — one then the other - that I had fallen in love with her and wanted to do my all to make her happy.

I brought her to several strong orgasms orally. As she relaxed and came down from the intense reaction of her body, I entered her and we slowly made love. We came at the same time, me with an intensity I'd never known before and Sophie with a more relaxed long slow trembling.

We fell asleep in the hot, dappled sunlight filtering through the leaves of the live oak, sweat running from our bodies in runnels. Later we rinsed in the creek and made love once more, slowly and with love in that beautiful creek-side glade.

As we drove away from that loving interlude, I knew that Sophie was the one for me... the love of my life.


As a girl growing up in Providence, three things seemed to totally occupy my mind: reading and writing, volleyball and Brown University.

I was an avid reader from an early age. I would read anything I could get my hands on: fiction, non-fiction, magazines and newspapers... I had very eclectic tastes. Of course, my mom tried to get me out of the house: "the sun's shining; it's summer — go outside and play!" But it fell on deaf ears! When I was "in the zone" the house could fall down and I wouldn't notice.

When I was twelve, I knew I was going to be a writer. I started writing as much as I had been reading. I wrote stories. I wrote letters to the editor. I wrote erotic love notes... and then tore them up with a red face! But I knew — I just knew that I was going to be a writer!

Between my twelfth and thirteenth year I grew. I mean I grew! In about eighteen months I went from 5'2'' to 5'11''. I was just starting to get a few curves that seemed to go away the taller I got. Tired of mom's nagging me to do something besides reading all day, I joined the church volleyball team. And I liked it! I was good. I seemed to turn into a different person on the court.

Instead of this mousy (in my mirror anyway) scarecrow, I was this vicious killer. I would always seem to be in the right place — I poached, I fudged, I moved but I loved to slam that ball down on someone's face. I especially liked to spike on one of those "little miss prissy" girls that had the looks, the clothes and the friends that I didn't have.

I kept this love of volleyball the rest of my life. I played in high school every year and the same for Brown. In college I was all conference each year. At picnics after I got married, we would have these pick—up volleyball games. Oh, was it fun to slam the ball at one of those macho beer bellies!

High school was boring for me. I was smart, maybe too smart. I sure didn't seem to be what the boys were looking for. The guys all seemed to be about six inches shorter than me or else some jock with an IQ of 12. I was lucky as a sophomore with a teacher that understood me and what it was that I needed. Connie had gone to Brown, eventually getting a master's degree in Comparative Literature. She told me about their great summer programs, open to high-school students.

I started taking the summer mini-courses in Comparative Literature at Brown during high school and as a senior took the seven week class. The mini-courses were not for credit but I learned a great deal from them. They were in small class format and were great fun. I would spend the next school year building on what I had studied the previous summer.

The first year I took a Shakespeare class — an acting class where we studied and put on "Romeo and Juliet." It was fantastic; really opened my eyes. Over the next year I read all of Shakespeare's plays and joined the school drama department and had parts in plays until I graduated.

The second summer was on English poets. I fell in love with Wordsworth's work and read everything he wrote. It was such a passion for me that I talked my parents into a vacation to the Lake District in England. We stayed at the Glen Rothay Hotel, across the road from Rydal Water. It was a famous old place, dating to the seventeenth century but important to me because it backed up on Dora's Field, immortalized by Wordsworth.

For two weeks I dragged my parents to every noteworthy place in the area that was famous somehow for the connection with the great poet. Both mom and dad were really swell about it. Dad particularly liked to sit at night with his pipe in the tiny bar, smoky from the coal fire, beautifully paneled walls, huge timbers in the ceiling blackened by centuries of the coal smoke. The bar had over forty single malts and he said he would do anything I wanted during the day as long as we let him relax in the bar at night.

Like volleyball, Wordsworth remained a lifelong passion and I always yearned to return to Rydal mount. I finally did when I had a semester in London. I spent hours and hours perusing old bookstores along Charing Cross Road. Mom was forever sending me a bit more money when I begged.

I dated a reserve mid-fielder for Arsenal for a few months but all he wanted to do was shag (as he called it) but I wanted to learn about the city... it had such a marvelous history and so much culture!

Jens was from Germany — and while he was incredibly fit and taught me more about sex that I knew there was to learn — he was terribly boring. A couple months of him and I almost felt like becoming a nun.

I had written a lot of stuff — mostly poetry and short stories - by the time I finished at Brown. I needed to find an agent and see if I could make the grade. I immediately thought of Aaron Paul. Aaron had been a guest lecturer at the seven-week summer course, and had seemed very interested in me. Too interested, really, but by then I guess I had become cynical and expected he would want a bit of quid pro quo for helping me.

Aaron was an interesting guy — smart as hell, even more cynical than I'd become - and attractive in an overblown way. I was able to get enough stuff published in various magazines to get an offer from the Times in New York to work in their Book Review section.

This gained me a lot of experience and contacts on one hand but on the other I became surer than ever that I wanted to write a novel. I started on it but I could see that it needed more dedication than I was able to give it. With the piecemeal writing that I was doing I kept losing the thread of what I originally had in mind.

Through a friend I made contact and was offered a position as an adjunct professor teaching creative writing at UT San Antonio. I had three classes a semester, leaving me plenty of time to write. With some money from dad each month, I was able to do okay. A colleague in the Art Department asked me to work on a children's book with her. She had the idea all mapped out in her mind and we worked well together. The book sold moderately well and this gave me another source of income.

I fell in love with the city and River Walk and the great restaurants. In response to an ad, I found an apartment to share — tiny but clean — with a girl that worked the night shift at the Sam Houston Hotel. The location was great — close in — and the small size turned out not to be a problem since she was gone during the evening and I was gone during the day.

One Saturday when she wasn't working she invited me to a party with some of her co-workers. One of them, Charles Curtain, was the most masculine man I'd ever met. He was quiet, just a bit taller than I was, with fairly short brown hair. He could have been the model for the Marlboro Man.

He didn't tell me but I was able to quickly discern that if you called him Charles he wouldn't even hear you. He was Chuck all the way. He was a better than fair dancer and a great conversationalist. This really surprised me though I couldn't say why. We started dating on and off — nothing very serious — until I found out he had a large ranch. For some reason this excited me. I guess I had visions of thousands of cattle with dollar signs instead of eyes.

Chuck didn't talk much about it, just that it had been in the family for a long time. In my daydreams I saw myself ensconced in a lavish ranch house, hidden in my writing room, and cranking out hit novels one after the other.

I finally saw the ranch when Chuck invited a lot of people he worked with for a Sunday afternoon barbeque. There were about forty people there and it was tons of fun. He had a volleyball area set up — sand and all — and I was in my zone. I was taller than about half the men and in better shape than almost all of them. I was very competitive — maybe too much so — and several of the girls were giving me dirty looks.

The ranch was nice. The house was an old but a well-maintained three-story monstrosity. All the other ranch buildings were also in good shape. There were several small log cabins and I asked Chuck what they were for.

"There is a huge demand in Texas for places to hunt. A lot of the money people in Dallas and Houston lease the hunting rights to large ranches and treat it like their private reserve. I provide the same service to hunters that don't want or need full time access, and to hunters from out of state.

"It works well for me. I'm able to keep up with the taxes on this place. To be honest, I think it is much more attractive now that I've let the land go back pretty much to it's native state. Hey, if you have time next Sunday, I'll bring you out and give you a tour."

So I found myself that following weekend at the ranch with Chuck. I realized that this was the first time I'd be really alone with him for an extended period of time. He had a cooler in the back of his jeep with a picnic lunch.

Well, clearly this wasn't the rich ranch I'd been envisioning, but by then I think I'd half fallen in love with Chuck. The ranch did look like a quiet place to write, and there were a half-dozen rooms that would all make a good studio. I decided then and there that Chuck would make a good husband. He was nice looking, polite while losing none of his masculinity, and comfortable to be with. Half in love seemed good enough for my needs. I just had this burning need to be a famous author.

He then showed me around the ranch and I had to admit to myself it was lovelier than I expected. As we drove away from the ranch house, I looked back and saw myself through the window of the large third floor bedroom, where I would finally finish my first novel. Later we wound up along side a creek under a large shade tree for lunch. The food was good and the wine nicely chilled... and delicious!

Afterwards we lay on the blanket and necked a bit then Chuck fell asleep. I was drowsy but thoughts kept flowing through my mind, unbidden. The kissing and petting had started my engine and taking a nap wasn't what I wanted right now. I hadn't slept with a man since I'd left New York and Aaron with his predatory ways.

Thinking about him, I gave a mental shrug — Aaron got what he wanted and I got what I needed... they just weren't the same thing. But I had a need now and Chuck was asleep. I sat up and watched him as he made the small movements and sounds of a deep sleep.

I considered what he had said about paying so much of the money from hunters to others and decided that I could help Chuck and he could do the hunting thing full time. If I could quit my teaching job I'd have plenty of time to write and still be able to help Chuck. He would be able to quit the hotel and make a lot more money.

Looking at him lying there, he seemed so sweet and innocent... and in some ways I think he was. He was all man but yet he seemed somewhat naïve about women. Lying there on the blanket - even sound asleep - he did seem kinda sexy. I made a decision and slipped out of my clothes. It seemed quite erotic to stand there in front of him naked as a jay bird. I massaged my breasts for a moment and, deciding I'd give him a heart attack if I just jumped his bones, I quietly slipped into the water.

I looked at him with a growing fondness and finally flicked some water at him. He sat up looking confused until he saw me standing there, waist deep in water. He stood and slowly started taking his clothes off so I swam to the other side of the deep pool to shallower water under the shade of a pecan tree.

He came across to me and kissed me deeply, passionately. His hands roamed freely over my body, bringing me to a level of lust I hadn't felt for a long time. After a few minutes of this, we both turned and swam leisurely back to the other side. I got out first and stood there with my back to him for a long moment, letting the water slide off my overheated body.

I eased down to the blanket, basking in the rays of sun that found their way through the leaves of the huge tree above. I opened my arms to Chuck and relieved myself of my pent up needs.

As we drove back to the ranch house, I felt a real fondness for him and knew he would make me a good husband. I would work hard to make the hunting business a success but I couldn't help but feel a thrill as we approached the house and I saw the late afternoon sun glinting off the third story corner room that I would make my writing studio.


Of course everything changed rapidly after we found love at that slice of Eden alongside the creek. That night I asked Sophie to marry me and was beyond ecstatic when she said yes. We were really happy together — the skies were clear with no clouds on the horizon.

She had some ideas for making the business full time and I had to say they made a lot of sense. She had prepared a spreadsheet showing how we could make the business work. She resigned first, saying, "It wouldn't be fair to the school to quit once the semester started."

Sophie moved out to the ranch and made what had been a formal sitting room into an office and I equipped it with new office equipment. She moved into my bedroom on the first floor with me and we made do by adding a dresser for her. By not having to pay her rent we were already saving money. We had no reservations about moving in together... we knew we had a love for the ages.

She went through all the old receipts and put together a mailing list. We updated the brochure and added several special hunts and a note that we would try to honor special requests... plus we raised the rates about ten percent.

We were surprised at the number of requests for snake hunts. Mostly people wanted to hunt rattlesnakes, especially the Western Diamondback but more than a few wanted the Texas Rat Snake (the most common in our area) or the Broad-Banded Copperhead. I found a guy that knew snake hunting backwards and forwards and he took care of this part of the business for me.

I was amazed at the pickup in business we gained just by sending out a monthly newsletter with photos and announcements of special hunts. One of the favorites was the Three-day Javelina hunts. A lot of people thought they were pigs or rodents but they were actually Peccaries. When cleaned and cooked properly they were quite good, very lean and flavorful.

Some of the hunts were for bow hunters and since Javelina could be hunted year round they became a popular part of our business. They were quite plentiful and we always had a Javelina grill on the last day of these hunts. They also make a really cool looking trophy mount with their long, sharp canine teeth.

It was clear that I would have to work full time. I'd enjoyed working at the hotel but I really needed focus on the hunting business. At first Sophie did the cooking but it was obvious we needed help. We talked it over and decided against hiring full time people. There were lots of women in the area that could use the extra money. There weren't a lot of jobs around. I let Sophie take care of all this and it worked out okay. Over time I introduced her to the various guides I knew and she scheduled them also.

I made sure that she had time to write each day. I fixed up a writing studio for her on the third floor. She said she didn't mind the stairs, that the corner room had great light and would be very quiet. She did start writing but didn't make the progress I think she was expecting. Sometimes she would snap at me when I'd ask about her progress. She always apologized, but I learned not to ask.

Once in a while when we had some evening entertainment — wine and cheese tasting or something like that — it would seem that sometimes she was flirting a bit. Not always, but as time went on it seemed that it was just when obviously wealthy clients were there. I worried about this some but nothing ever seemed to actually happen so I let it go.

This went on for several years, the business growing steadily with more and more repeat customers. Shortly after out fourth anniversary it all fell apart... it became clear pretty fast that there would never be a fifth.

Occasionally we would have private planes come in. They would land at Mc-Kinley Field in Pearsall. Don Mc-Kinley was an old friend of mine and I'd invite him out to hunt with me once in a while. They were mostly smaller planes like Raytheon (Beech) or Cessna and a Lear once in a while. We had a charter coming in that would be flying a Gulfstream IV.

I asked Don about it, "Well, it starts at around thirty-six million and seats around sixteen depending on the configuration. What else do you want to know?"

I didn't really have anything else to ask... I guess these guys would be good for the no-show fee if they didn't make it. Sophie was with me when this discussion took place. She seemed quite interested in our talk but didn't say anything. We were dropping off some venison steaks I had left over and then going into San Antone for lunch. Sophie said we had to do this once in a while so she could see someone besides guys with guns.

The trip for the Gulfstream group came in about a month later. Sophie ran a D&B on them (she never told me why) and said the main guy was an investor. His name was Joseph Jenks and, yeah, he was an investor but he really was a corporate shark. He would buy distressed companies and either put a bit of money in them and resell them and/or break them up and sell the pieces.

There were seven of them in the group and a couple of limos brought them to the ranch. They booked the place for a week and paid enough to have the entire ranch to themselves. I put six of them into the three cabins and Jenks into a large corner bedroom at the back of the house on the third floor. He wanted his privacy and had sent me an email to bill him for whatever I had to spend.

I had to have it cleaned, new carpet, some furniture with a new bed and sheets and stuff. I had to get some plumbing work done and a new toilet. He also wanted a shower so I took out the tub and had a shower built with glass bricks. Hell, it wasn't my money.

I emailed back the estimate and money was wired to my bank with no comment. What the hell, I got the room fixed up for nothing!

Jenks turned out to be a real powerhouse, although not physically intimidating. He was about four inches shorter that Sophie and the first time I saw them standing side by side I almost laughed. Later I wished I had.

The hunting went well and they all seemed happy. I caught Jenks eying Sophie a couple of times and I didn't like it. I asked Sophie to be careful around him.

"This guy is used to getting anything he wants and will either take it or spend any amount of money to get it."

"Oh, come on, Chuck. I wasn't born yesterday and I sure know how to take care of myself. Don't worry about it."

That night she was very loving and showed it in her passion when we went to bed.

The third morning of hunting Jenks twisted his ankle and I had Tomás, a hunting guide that was helping me out that week, drive him back to the house. I was worried about it but didn't see what I could do. I couldn't just leave these guys by themselves and Tomás had a heavy accent that a lot of people had trouble understanding.

We were a little late getting back and Tomás's wife, who was cooking for this hunt, met me at the front of the house acting nervous and excited.

"Señor, La Señora is gone. She is left. She gives me this."

She handed me an envelope and ran for the kitchen. I went into Sophie's office and opened the letter.

Dearest Chuck,

I'm sorry for doing this to you but as much as I love you I have this compulsion to write. Joseph said he would help me in any way he could. He owns a publishing house and I can have all the time I need to write. I'll have access to an editor and research assistants anytime I want them.

I did go to bed with Joseph but I don't love him. I know this is hard for you to understand but it's you I love and always will. These four years we have been married will always be a precious memory to me.

I've always had a hunger for the finer things in life. Did you know that in his estate on Long Island his mansion has a ballroom with huge crystal chandeliers all along the long room. Chuck, the ballroom is larger than the one at the Sam Houston. Can you imagine that?

I'll have a maid of my own and a new car. Anytime I want I can have a limo with a driver.

Don't try to contact me, please! I'll send you a letter in a few weeks so you will know I'm okay.

Love forever, Sophie

Damn! I never saw this coming. I sat there staring out the window, not seeing anything. Something died in me then. It wasn't my love for her... that's not something you can shut off like a water tap. What died was my caring. I'd opened myself up to her completely and I gave her the same trust I'd expected — and thought I'd been getting - from her.

I struggled with the business for a while, wondering if I should just shut it down and do something else. I could sell the ranch for enough to do just about anything I might want.

But I knuckled down and persevered. I found a stubborn streak I didn't know I had. I caught myself getting short with everyone... losing my temper all too often. I called up a buddy of mine and we went fishing down at Matagorda Bay and didn't see a woman for a week.

I came back better — but not good.


I had been happy living with and being married to Chuck. I knew his love for me was true; I knew there would never be any reason for me to doubt it. We went into San Antonio for our fourth anniversary. The hotel gave him a suite for the weekend and we had a lot of fun. He showed me in many ways he still found me an exciting woman. Our sex life had never tapered off like happens in too many marriages.

I was making some progress on my writing but not enough to satisfy me. I knew Chuck needed all the help from me he could get to make the business a success... and I had pushed him into making it full time for him. But all too often I seemed to begrudge the time the business took away from my writing. It wasn't just the time; it seemed like there were constant interruptions.

But when Joseph Jenks came on his big jet with all his flunkies, something in me changed. He wasn't all that good looking; he had a round pleasant face and was skinny and short. But there was this... aura of power that surrounded him. I didn't think it was the money but more the kind of man it took to get the money. From talking with him I got the sense that money itself was not intrinsically important to him, just for what it could do or buy. It was one of his tools.

He seemed to know everything about me, where I'd been to school, my friends and professors; he even had copies of some of the stuff I had published. He was able to talk intelligently about what I'd written, asking me questions about why I'd written something in a certain way. I found out later he could find out anything about anyone in a few hours just by making a phone call.

When he came back early on the third day of their trip, Tomás helped him into my office. He looked at me for a moment and asked me to get him a beer and an ice bag. I remembered later that the beer seemed the more important part of the request.

I put a pillow under his leg and put the ice on his ankle. There was a bruise but it didn't look serious. It certainly wasn't a severe sprain and he didn't seem to be in any pain the beer couldn't handle.

We talked while the ice was on his ankle and after fifteen minutes or so he asked me to take it away. A bit peremptorily, I thought, he added, "Bring me another beer and one for yourself."

I rarely had anything to drink before dinner time but like Chuck had said once, half-joking, "The customer is always right." So I sat there while we drank the beers and Joseph asked me questions about my writing. What were my goals? Was I satisfied with my writing? Did I have adequate quiet time to write?

We continued to talk over several more beers and he finally came back and summarized everything I'd said, but much more concisely.

"If you had a chance to get all of this, everything you need to become to great writer, would you take it?"

"I guess I would," I answered slowly.

He stood up — the ankle seemed not to bother him in the least — and pulled me close. He kissed me with a passion I would never have expected from him and I felt my knees grow weak. If he hadn't been holding me I think I would have fallen. I guess I fell anyway... just in a different manner.

He stepped back a bit and pulled the tee shirt I had on over my head and kissed me again. I could feel his hands reaching around to loosen my bra and suddenly it was free. He pulled me down to the sofa, not bothering to kiss me now. My shorts were a little loose and he just pulled them down, including my panties. He took me then and there in a rough manner no man had used with me before. I was pissed at him for treating me like a possession but lust took over and I have to say I was a willing participant.

When we finished, he put his clothes back on. I started to put mine back on, but he held up his hand.

"Don't! Not yet anyway. I like to look at you. You have a fine body — one of the best. I'll give you anything and everything you want for your writing. Hell, I'll give you anything you want. Go get me another beer and write Chuck a note."

I walked naked and nervous to the kitchen and got his damn beer and went back to the office and sat at the desk and wrote the note.

After reading it, he told me to get dressed with what I had on. He pushed a button on the phone and a few minutes later a limo pulled up in font. He took my hand and pulled me to the front door.

"But can't I pack a bag?"

"Naw, don't bother with the shit you got. You can get everything you want in New York."

I should have stopped right there and turned around but I had this sudden image of me on a book signing tour, the fans lined up to get my autograph. I should have known that, when you make a deal with the devil, you lose your soul.

Joseph did everything he promised and more. I did start writing and the mental anguish I was going through added a sense of reality and depth to my books. It took me three months to find out about the mistress in Manhattan and less than that to see the way when we hosted a party that Joseph would take this or that woman to our bedroom and come back down stinking of her perfume.

He was always nice and polite to me but I found out he was a cold bastard. If I complained about his womanizing, he would just stay away for a couple of weeks. Sure there were the damn crystal chandeliers and vacations in Cannes or Gstaad. He had a yacht that was like a small mansion in itself and we would take a cruise to the Bahamas or somewhere in the Caribbean. These were working trips for him but he would play too.

Once I had been in town shopping but the heat wore me down and I came back to the boat early. I didn't see Joseph so I went down to the stateroom to take a shower. He was in bed with a local girl with rich chocolate skin. He never said a word but from then on he would lock the door whenever he had "company."

He was generous to a fault and I guess he loved me in his self-centered way. For out first Valentine's Day together he brought me a diamond set of necklace, bracelet and earrings. I found out later they cost over eighty grand.

He made the divorce to Chuck just happen and the weekend after it was final we flew in his Gulfstream to Las Vegas and got married. He didn't ask, he just gave me a pre-nup to sign that said if the marriage ever ended, I could walk away with anything he had given me plus a flat two point five mil.

I got my first book published and the reviews were quite good. I did the book signing tours but I didn't get the satisfaction I'd expected. My life was flat and I was unhappy. After the second book, I couldn't write anymore. I thought about ending it all but that wasn't me. Finally I drove out to see Chuck. I knew there was no chance... I mean, how could there be with what I'd done to him?

It was good to see him and he was more pleasant than I expected. He did seem sad and his advice to me was good. I did drive out to San Francisco and sent an email to Joseph asking for a divorce. His accountant replied back asking for my bank account number. Two days later the money listed in the pre-nup was deposited. I sold most of my jewelry, keeping only a few pieces I liked.

I bought a small house on a hill in Sausalito with a nice view of the city and Angel Island. I was able to start writing again and started doing my best work. I did my own research and used the editors from my publisher — which was a new one, not the one owned by Joseph.

I met a few men over the years but never one I loved the way I had Chuck. If life gave me a do-ove, r I would stay with Chuck and write limericks or children's books... anything to keep the most honest, loving man I'd ever met. My success came at a cost I'd rather not have paid.

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