Julie smiled nervously at her fiance Ron, but he didn't look back. He was looking warily down the line of people that stretched two blocks down the shadow-drenched late afternoon streets. The line then turned right, down Goddess Ave. for a half mile, through the heart of Oklahoma City, before reaching the temple.
Electric cars whizzed silently down the center of the street, carrying commuters home from work.
Ron had always seemed so self-possessed, so confident, to Julie. She had never seen him jittery before. He couldn't seem to stop fidgeting. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other. He craned his neck from side to side down the line, rattled the coins in his pocket. None of this was normal behavior for him.
"Nervous?" she asked, shaking her long brown hair.
"A little," Ron said, with a small smile.
"Is the goddess that terrible?"
"Oh no! Not at all! The goddess is truly the most beautiful and wonderful creature I've ever seen. It's just that, it's been years since I've seen her."
"Well, you've been sleeping with me the last two years. And then there was Angie for a year before that. I can see why you haven't been here."
"It's been longer than that," said Ron, nervously running a hand through his short sandy brown hair. "More like five years."
"Five years?!" Julie exclaimed. She raised an eyebrow, "did you have other lovers that you didn't tell me about?"
"I didn't lie. You are my second love, after Angie." A slight reddish tinge spread across his cheeks. "It's just that, for a few years, I kept to myself."
"You masturbated?" Julie exclaimed, with more than a hint of incredulity in her voice.
"But why? The goddess is free to all."
The nineteen year old didn't answer at once. He waited to round the corner onto Goddess Avenue, to collect his thoughts. The temple loomed ahead of them, as the line proceeded at a slow but steady pace towards it.
"When I was twelve, I had my first wet dream. The next day I went to the temple for the first time to see the goddess.
"You have no idea what it was like. You're just a kid, and you are required to come face-to-face with your deity for inspection.
"There is a special entrance for the first timers. No waiting. This is supposed to make it easier for us kids.
"Anyway, I was almost dragged into the curtain-lined room, by one of the priestesses. It was an empty room, except for a king sized bed with silk sheets in one corner. The priestess escorted me to the center of the room, then left. As soon as she left, the goddess stepped out from behind a curtain.
"Now, you have heard, Julie, all the descriptions about the goddess; her beauty; her majesty; her charms. None of them do her justice. Nothing anyone can say, can actually measure up to the actual experience. Therefore, I won't try. Besides, you'll see for yourself soon."
Ron motioned toward the ever-nearing temple.
"I'll just tell you that the goddess I met was very young. Maybe a year older than I was. She had long red hair and bright green eyes.
"You know that the goddess always has green eyes, don't you?"
"I know," acknowledged the blue-eyed Julie.
"Anyway, regardless of her youth, this goddess was indescribably beautiful. She was all my desires, lusts, and fantasies rolled into one. I remember that I came in my pants just seconds after I saw her.
"She must have realized this, but ignored it, she just walked, smiled, and asked me my name. Her voice had both a child-like innocence and a wanton suggestiveness that aroused me yet again.
"I managed to stammer out my name.
"She took my hand and pulled me to my feet. I didn't realize I had fallen to my knees. She lead me to the bed.
"It was with her that I lost my virginity. It was the greatest sex I have ever had."
Julie was not offended by this. After all, how can sex with a mere mortal compare with the goddess.
"She was insatiably passionate. For hours she teased and stimulated me to repeated erections. I finally passed out. When I woke, she was gone. A priestess was waiting by the door to escort me out.
"The goddess taught me much of what I know of how to please a woman, that day."
"She was a very good teacher too," said Julie, as she embrace her love.
"But in that encounter I sensed her joy, passion, and desire, but the one thing I didn't feel is love.
I went back a few more time the next eighteen months, but every time, after the ecstatic sex, I got this creepy feeling. It was like, I don't know, I just engaged in bestiality. Only I was the beast.
"When I turned fourteen, I vowed I wouldn't step foot inside a temple, until the marriage ceremony."
"Which is today," added Julie.
"Damn right it is," confirmed Ron, with a long passionate kiss.
"If the goddess approves," she said, pulling away.
"Of course she'll approve!" cried Ron. "Why shouldn't she? Only a tiny percent of all marriages get refused by the goddess."
"I suppose you're right. All the same, I'll be glad when this is over."
The temple was only a hundred yards away. The line of men, women, and couples could be seen going up the steps and through the large double doors.
After bearing his soul, Ron decided it was Julie's turn. "You've never told me, darling, why you have never come to see the goddess. Aren't you curious?"
About the goddess? Of course. About having sex with a woman, no way. The thought of exchanging bodily fluids with another female gives me the creeps ... Now, I know that it's completely different with the goddess. But still, I could never work up the never nor the desire to confront the goddess.
"Besides, it's not required of women, like it is with men."
"Not until want to marry," finished Ron.
Their conversation between the two died as they approached the base of the temple, and followed the line up the steps, entering through the massive gold doors. Inside the doors was the large elliptical common room, about the size of a football field. The room had a glass ceiling and green carpeting. Twelve hallways branched from the room. A priestess, by the doors, was acting as receptionist.
The priestess, a trim woman in her fifties, was wearing the traditional plain green dress. She entered the names of the young couple into a computer, and directed them toward the hallway farthest from the entry.
They thanked her, and proceeded across the vast room.
Their route across the common room was not a straight one; too many obstacles for that. Besides, there was so much to see.
There was a large group of people around an elderly priestess at a grand piano, who seemed to know every song ever written.
The bar near the piano, tended by priest, was stocked with everything from carrot juice to Jack Daniels.
Julie proposed that they celebrate with champagne on their way out.
Ron readily agreed.
A dozen yards away from the bar was a priest seated in a chair, reading to a swarm of kids, sprawled on the carpeted floor. They were waiting on their parents. More kids were frolicking in the swimming pool and Jacuzzi nearby, all under the watchful eyes of some priestesses, wearing green one-piece swimsuits.
The garden and health spa were off to the right. Both looked alluring, but neither Ron nor Julie wanted to make side trips. They both wanted to get the ritual over with.
"You know," said Ron, "I think I enjoyed the common room more than I did with the goddess."
Julie piped in, "I remember having a blast with the priests and priestesses, when I was a kid."
"Yeah, me too. But when you're an adult, after about an hour in the common room, the goddess calls to you. It's irresistible, just like she is."
Julie pulled on Ron's arm. "Then let's get going."
After skirting around the casino, the young lovers finally reached the entrance of their designated hallway. Two priestesses stood in the entranceway with another couple. The shorter of the two priestesses, a teenage Hispanic girl, wearing the pastel green of a novice, escorted the two couple down the hall.
As they walked down the wide hallway, the noise of the common room fell away. Soft strains of the hymn "One Goddess, Many Avatars" played through the ceiling speakers.
The other couple, Erica Chang and Jose Svendsen, both of which were a little inebriated, started singing and swaying with the music. Jose asked Ron, "Are you having a consecrated or regular ceremony?"
"What's the difference?"
"Well, in a regular ceremony, it you, a goddess, and some dozen other couples.
"In the consecrated version, it just you, your mate, and the goddess in a private ceremony. She blesses and consecrates your union by pleasing the both of you for the whole night."
Julie cringed, "you're kidding, right."
"No, it's a gas!" enthused Erica. "It's said that any consecrated marriage will maintain the goddess' passion all its days."
Ron decided to be diplomatic. "Gee, that sounds great. But Julie here has never met the goddess..."
Erica let out a shriek, and grabbed Julie's hand. "Never met the goddess?! You poor thing! I wish I could go back and re-experience my first time. It changed my life forever."
With Julie occupied, Jose pulled Ron aside. "You know Ron, with a little persuading, I bet you could get Julie to agree. It would be a first time for the ages!"
"Well, I could," began Ron carefully, "but I'm not sure I'd want to. You see, the goddess, she kind of intimidates me."
Jose took a step back. "Oh, you're one of those.
"For Pete's sake, guy, what's there to be intimidated by. The ...