Dude woke with a start to the soft sliding of the bedroom window. Startled, he saw a figure silouetted in the dim moonlight.
"Dude?" came a whispered voice. He'd no doubt who it was.
"Amanda?" he whispered back, although there was no need to keep his voice low.
"I'm sorry," the figure continued, "I, I know it's late..."
"Come in, shut the window."
Amanda obeyed, drawing the curtains closed behind her. She tip-toed across the room to the side of the bed. There she stood for an unsettling time as if making up her mind. "Get in?" Dude suggested, throwing back the covers.
She sighed and Dude could hear her shuffling off her clothes. The body that wriggled in beside him was clad only in underwear - faintly cold from the night air. After a moment's hesitation, she accepted his outstretched arm and rolled in for a cuddle.
Dude was accutely aware of her long legs scissored around his - her pantied, puffy mons pressed against his thigh.
"I think we should talk," she told him in that, haughty, ice queen way that both infuriated him, yet turned him on.
"Talk," he shrugged.
"There's something I'd like to know."
Dude wished she'd get to the point. Was she here for a rerun of last night or to blow him off? Her scent brought back into sharp focus the excitement of the best sex he could remember having. If this was just going to be a heart to heart, he'd rather be left alone to get back to sleep.
"Tell me? Why did you have to do it... that way?"
"Use me like that?"
"Use you?" he jerked, turning to face her, "what do you mean use? It was an honest transaction. You could've refused. Nobody forced you."
"I had little choice," she replied, evenly - her voice still haughty and aloof. Dude's anger began to rise as his arousal subsided.
"You had every choice. You could've refused the deal and walked out. I didn't hold a gun to your head. Are you telling me it was rape?"
"I didn't come for an argument. I just want to know why? Why do you feel you have to coerce women to sleep with you?"
"I say again. You had the choice of refusal. If you feel that way, why are you here - half naked and in my bed?"
"I, I, just... Oh shit, I'm so not used to this." Her haughtiness evaporated and Amanda seemed locked in confusion. "I guess I'm not sure," she continued after a pause. "I haven't slept with anyone for, well, for a long time. I'd forgotten so much, I... no, I don't ever remember sex being so, well, intense. You, ah, always do those things with the women you sleep with?
"What things? What women?"
"Girlfriends? And you know what you did."
A flicker of a smile coursed across her features.
"Refresh my memory?" he smiled.
"Well, if you've come to insult me..."
"No," she replied, collecting herself, "I guess I was looking for answers. Why did I whore myself to you?"
"Why did you?"
"I was hoping you'd tell me? I don't know myself. Perhaps I really wanted that to happen, y'know, deep down? Perhaps I was just looking for an excuse?"
"Maybe? What do you want me to say? You're a beautiful woman... no, I'm not trying to flatter you, you really are. But you come across as, well, untouchable. Tell me, If we'd met, say, at a party, would you have left with me? Would you have slept with me?"
"I... don't suppose I would've," she considered, "but I'm usually not that impulsive. I'd need to get to know someone better, before..."
"But how was that going to happen when you treat everyone as if they're beneath you?"
"Do I? Really? You think I'm better..."
"No, I think you think you're better. You're really hard to get to know."
She was quiet for a disturbingly long time. Dude thought they were done and shut his eyes. Eventually, she resumed talking and he reluctantly opened them again.
"I'm from an old farming family in the district. My family own most of the land on the other side of the river. When I was young I went away to a private boarding school. We're Catholics, y'see, and, although we're not that devout, well, you have to be a Catholic to understand."
"Catholic boarding school, huh?" Dude smiled.
"It's not like that cheap porno," she chided, smiling, "that's just some lecher's overactive imagination. It wasn't that bad, actually, but we didn't get to meet many boys except under strict circumstances. There really wasn't that much opportunity to, to..."
"That's not what I heard."
"Again, you think us girls plotted all day to sneak out and meet boys?"
"I was never that pretty," she sighed, "boys weren't that interested. I guess I was a late developer. I met my husband at a school dance. He was from the boy's school. We dated for two years before we slept together. We didn't know what we were doing," she chuckled, "a lot of fumbling about, I recall."
"Yeah, well, I suppose practice makes perfect."
"I don't think I was ever that good for him. If I'd been better, maybe he wouldn't have left."
"And maybe he would've? Maybe your problems weren't in the bedroom? If you had a strong relationship, maybe the physical side of things would've worked out?"
"I suppose. I know we drifted apart. I didn't know what he was doing most of the time. We didn't talk that much."
"I should've asked more questions. I should've been more interested in what he does."
"And he could've been more interested in what you do?"
"Not very much," she chuckled, briefly, "Tennis Club, Women's Farming Institute..."
"You had a farm? Don't farming families work together?"
"We had two farms and managers on each. John was an accountant in town. If he knew one end of a sheep from the other I wasn't aware of it. We never discussed business. I didn't know how much we owed. It came as a shock. That fall in wool prices a few years back drained all our capital."
"So you went broke?"
"John didn't tell me how much we were in debt. If I'd known..."
"So he gave up the battle and split?" Dude suggested.
"It's more than that," Amanda replied, "I couldn't please him, apparently."
"Y'know what I think? I think you're taking all the guilt on yourself. Remember, he left you, not the other way around."
"It's all in the past, anyway. What's done is done. I need to move on."
"So, what about you?" Amanda said so suddenly it startled him. "I heard you were some kind of record producer?"
"Some kind," he replied, ruefully.
"And you sold out? How come?"
"Boredom," he sighed, "it wasn't fun anymore."
"Oh. Still, you must've made some money. You have a nice house, car. You lent me all that money?"
"I made a bit, I guess." Amanda looked at him, urging him to continue. Reluctantly, he explained. "We were all just a bunch of mates at High School. We formed bands, split again, and reformed with other guys. I played a bit of guitar but my real interest was in recording and producing. Soon I found myself taping the other guys - pooling our cash and hiring a studio for the afternoon. I learned to twiddle the knobs on the faders - learned to mike up, arrange, mix. All trial and error," he chuckled, "a lot of errors..."
"Yeah, well. Then it made sense to make a few tapes. We sold them out of the back of the van. Drove all around the country. My friend Al and I then decided to start a label and make it all official. Our first studio was Al's dad's double garage. I've no idea how he talked him into it," he laughed, "we put up styrene baffles and boarded the windows. It had great acoustics for a tin shed. Al's dad parked his car outside for a whole year."
"Ha ha! But you made it a success?"
"Two of our bands had top forties. The Manics then went over to Australia and made it big. Al and I knew enough of the business by then to cut a good deal on the royalties. We were able to set up ourselves properly, with Aussie money."
"And those bands were enough to sustain the label?"
"Not exactly," he sighed, "you're talking outrageously high overheads. 40 grand for a sound desk, a thousand or more for a mike..."
"So, how did you survive?"
"I've heard of her!" Amanda said, "she's big!"
"Yeah, big!" he said. The hint of irony wasn't unnoticed.
"You signed Suzi Raphael?" Amanda exclaimed.
"Yeah, we did. Listen?" he said, disengaging from Amanda's embrace and sitting up, "it's, ah, 3 am. Y'want some coffee? If we're going to spend the night talking..."
"Nice, thanks. I'm enjoying this."
Dude got up and made a couple of fresh brews. When he returned, Amanda was sitting up in her red bra. Dude noticed it was a French, lacey thing that left a great deal of flesh exposed. She was sexy, that's for sure. "Suzi Raphael?" she said, raising her eyebrows, sensing gossip.
"She walked into the office one day," Dude explained, "she'd barely got off the plane. She had this lilting Israeli accent. Although she was barely 16 at the time, she had this maturity and a really great voice - fantastic set of pipes and an armload of these stunning songs. We all went bananas over her. We didn't need to play her tapes, we signed her straight away."
"16?" Amanda said in surprise.
"Yeah, 16 and as cute a girl you'd never hope to see."
"Hmm, sounds like all you dirty old men were infatuated?" Amanda saw a flash of anger darken his face and realised she'd touched a tender spot. "I'm sorry, go on?"
.... There is more of this story ...