Binding Ashes

by wetapap

Copyright© 2006 by wetapap

: dreams do come true and if im dreaming, please don't wake me up.

Tags: Ma/Fa   Romantic   Heterosexual  

There is no explicit sex in this story. I wish to thank the people who helped contribute to and edit this story, per their wishes, they remain anonymous. No part of this story may be published at any other site without the express permission of the author. © October 2, 2006

"Richard, we are there," Daryl informed his passenger as the limo pulled up in front of his favorite restaurant.

Not surprisingly, as Richard leaned forward to retrieve his cane he was once again captivated by its artistic design. The beautifully handcrafted wolf head created by interwoven gold and silver never ceased to fascinate him.

He had purchased the walking stick years ago to provide others with the perception he was mature for his age. Although the passing of time had cured Richard's problem of looking older, he had carried the cane at his side for so long, he would feel naked without it. He still derived great pleasure from the many compliments it received. Richard smiled as he paused to run his thumb over the handle.

With his overcoat draped securely over his arm his hand slipped down to firmly grasp the dark wood grained staff as he prepared to exit. When the limo door swung open, Richard stepped out, stretching his stiff muscles as he rose to his full height.

Gone were the days of bounding from the limo, charging up the steps and sauntering into the restaurant. His youthful exuberance had been systematically displaced by the cumulative effect of his forty-four years.

A smile, which Daryl easily recognized as appreciation, crossed Richard's face. It wouldn't be Richard without the beacons of his personality, his array of smiles.

Daryl had been with Richard through the better part of his life. While serving as his personal chauffeur and valet he had become Richard's close confidant and friend, standing at his side when needed.

As Richard took a step towards his favorite restaurant a young woman suddenly appeared in his path. Before Daryl could react she requested, "Sir, could I borrow a couple of dollars? I haven't eaten in days."

Daryl immediately moved to intercede, but Richard blocked him with his cane, never taking his eyes off the girl. It was a move to let Daryl know he didn't feel threatened. Daryl stepped back, remaining close enough to intervene if necessary.

Richard took a moment to observe and study the young woman. She appeared to be around twenty, not beautiful but not unattractive. It would be easier to judge if her smudged face and matted hair were bathed and cleaned. A few additional pounds on her too thin frame wouldn't hurt either; it was quite evident she didn't eat on a regular basis.

The one thing that surprised him was she actually appeared to be requesting, not begging, as was the norm for most street people. With an inquisitive smile, he asked, "May I inquire what everyone calls you?"

Hesitating, she looked at him with more than just a little suspicion before relenting, "If you mean what's my name, it's Amber."

"Hmmm, a very pretty name for a young lady Miss Amber," he replied with an unnerving smile that made her feel somewhat uncomfortable.

"Well it's my name. Now are you going to lend me some money or not?" She scowled trying to force the issue. The last thing she intended to do was stand there and let some well dressed, well educated, and well financed jerk make fun of her. She had experienced enough of that on the streets to last a lifetime.

With a smirking grin, Richard hinted with strong suggestion, "And Miss Amber, just what would you be willing to do for a few dollars?"

Her eyes almost glowed with rage as she spat, "FUCK YOU and all the other assholes in the world. I would rather starve than degrade myself for food... or money... or anything else."

She spun on her heel and took a step to leave just before Richard inquired, "I thought you were hungry Miss Amber."

"Not if I have to perform for it," she retorted over her shoulder.

"Miss Amber, if you were willing to do that, I would be the one walking away," he replied. "Now if you are hungry, there is food just inside that door, if you're not, I am. With or without you, I'm going in to eat."

Abruptly she came to a stop, spun around, and came back to stand in front of him. Looking up into his face, staring eye to eye, she inquired, "No strings attached?"

With an amused smile, he said, "None... other than you are required to have an appetite. From the looks of you, I don't think that will be a problem Miss Amber."

Even though his smile made her feel comfortable, she still looked for signs of deceit. The face staring back at her was full of sincerity and strong character molded by years of living. His warm smile helped make her decision.

Richard held out his hand towards the restaurant, she spun and headed for the entrance. He smiled in awe, 'She seems to have that spin down perfect.'

Just as her hand reached out to open the door, Richard leaned around and pulled it open for her. She looked up into his face as he said, "Miss Amber, a lady never opens a door in front of a gentleman, if she does, she's not a lady. If he doesn't open it for her, she needs to be with someone else because she's not with a gentleman."

She only grunted her acquiescence as she slipped through the door thinking, 'Who cares what nonsense he spouts as long as I get to eat, I'm starving.'

Although never forward or arrogant, Richard had always had a distinctive but intangible quality in that his very presence demanded the maitre d's attention. Amber beat him to the punch this time.

The maitre d' spotted her immediately as she came through the door and moved to intercept before she could enter the dining room. It was quite apparent she was in the wrong place.

Richard could see Amber brace for what was coming. This scene had become part of her everyday life in recent years; having been thrown out of several places of business, not just restaurants.

As the maitre d' was about to confront Amber by blocking her path, Richard spoke, "Joseph, this is Miss Amber. She is my guest and will be dining with me tonight. Amber, this is Joseph, the finest maitre d' you will ever have the pleasure to meet." Richard smiled confidently, knowing Joseph would grant his request.

Joseph stopped, looked from Amber to Richard, then back to Amber before saying, "Of course, my pleasure to meet you Miss Amber."

Wide eyed, Amber was impressed with the unspoken display of power she just witnessed.

Joseph continued, "Your normal table Sir?"

Richard's nostrils picked up a slight whiff of Amber before he thoughtfully replied, "Not tonight, I think we need the privacy of one of your more secluded tables."

Joseph cocked an eyebrow as he detected the same odor, "I understand, this way please." He led them to an isolated corner table.

After pulling out her chair and seating Amber, Joseph hustled off with a slight shake of his head. Richard took a seat beside Amber but sat with his back to the wall... he didn't sit across from her. With all that had just happened, she didn't feel rejected. Amber liked that.

She looked around and discovered everyone was staring at her. Amber knew she looked a mess, it was so embarrassing.

Richard was watching and knew instantly what she was feeling. He stood up, moved to the other side, pulled out the chair and said, "Maybe you would be more comfortable sitting on this side Miss Amber." She slid to the other chair in a fluid and graceful move.

Richard switched to her previous chair to maintain his proximity to her, again making her feel at ease. With light hearted merriment Richard smiled, "Now Miss Amber, you no longer have to stare at those ugly people."

His witty comment caused her to smile. While leaning slightly forward, she modestly dipped her head and softly whispered, "Thank you."

Although he had switched chairs, Richard still kept his back to the wall. He evidently was cautious and liked to observe what went on around him. After living on the streets, Amber considered that a very good trait, even though he still seemed kind, courteous, and... generous.

She felt compelled to ask, "When we were outside, why did you ask what I'd be willing to do for money? It's easy to tell you don't have any real desire or need for me."

"Simple," he said. "If you were just hustling for money, I had nothing to offer. If you were truly hungry, then it's my pleasure to try and help, Miss Amber. By the way, never mistake gentlemanly behavior for a lack of desire."

Amber immediately knew she liked this man. Thanks to him, she was going to eat all she could. After all, she never knew when the next meal might be.

Richard adamantly said, "After the waiter takes our orders Miss Amber, I do insist you make a trip to the ladies room to wash your face and scrub those hands before we eat."

"No problem," she stated while cocking her head and raising an eyebrow. "Now tell me what everyone calls you, more simply, what is your name?"

"Richard... that is my name... and what everyone calls me," he replied with a warm smile.

"But why does everyone call you Richard? They should be calling you Mr. whatever your last name is."

With a knowing smile, he enlightened her, "I have always insisted that my friends call me Richard. It creates a more relaxed atmosphere... better for the digestive system. Something we are both going to need tonight Miss Amber."

His lighthearted attempt at humor caused her to laugh. Richard smiled at her amusement, but enjoyed the sound of her laughter more.

After placing their orders, Amber excused herself and went to clean her face and hands. As she exited the powder room, Amber nervously hesitated. She was surprised to find herself a bit anxious that Richard might be disappointed after seeing her face without the camouflage of dirt and grime.

Amber stood at her chair not understanding her desire to turn and run. Richard looked up; there was no way his bigger than ever smile could be mistaken for anything other than approval. Amber was pleased. She suddenly felt glad to be there. With a grin of her own, she slid into her chair. Her only wish was to take a full bath and brush her hair.

During the meal and through the course of the evening, Richard was able to get her to open up about her life and the circumstances that forced her to live on the streets. It was not only amazing but fortunate she had been able to avoid the many pitfalls that trap most young people in her situation.

Richard learned her parents died when she was fifteen. With no relatives and being a minor, she was placed in a foster home. The first one wasn't bad, the couple was very nice and she liked them.

A year later she was moved to another home where she felt uncomfortable. The husband kept looking at her with more than just concern for her care. He kept finding excuses to barge into her room, especially at times when she was dressing for school or an important event.

Without pretext, he cornered her one day, running his hands over Amber's body against her will. He was too big for her to fight off. His wife walked in just in time to save her from being raped. Amber never knew what happened; she fled out the door leaving the wife screaming at her husband.

After hitting the streets, Amber made a point of avoiding anyone associated with authority, especially the police. Her biggest fear was ending up in the same situation, only next time, she might not get the opportunity to escape.

The street had become home to her, so much so, she now felt on familiar terms with it. Amber had adapted so well to its hostile environment and become so adept at survival, it was now second nature to her.

Yet through it all, she never used her body or suffered the loss of her dignity and self respect to survive from day to day. There had been many close calls. Between street smarts and luck, she was able to duck and dodge every attempt to drag her into those dark recesses where most street kids end up.

Richard found himself fascinated by Amber and her story. It made him conscious of how guarded his life had been. Without risk or threat, he had been provided every opportunity life had to offer. He pondered, 'What a difference the fate of birth can make in two individuals.'

The meal was delicious. She could easily understand why this was one of his favorite restaurants.

Amber insisted, "Please give me a name and address so I can repay you. I don't intend to live on the streets forever. When I get a job and on my feet, I will send you the money."

Richard, with his perplexing smile said, "Make you a deal Miss Amber. When you get a job and on your feet so to speak, instead of sending me money, repay me by lending a helping hand to someone who truly needs it. If you promise to do that, then consider us even."

Now she wasn't sure she couldn't love this man, if she even knew what the word love meant. It had been so long since she cared for anything other than where her next meal would come from. "It's a deal, you have my word on it," she promised.

Richard sat reflecting on things before asking, "Miss Amber, how would you like to take a full bath and get some new clothes before hitting the streets again?"

Her eyes flashed immediate suspicion as they intently searched his face. She expected his next few words to wipe out her newly acquired image of his sainthood, leaving nothing but the cold harsh reality of her everyday life. To her complete surprise, not this time. Richard expected and was prepared for her misgivings about his proposal.

He countered her anticipation with that damned smile, "Still no strings attached Miss Amber. If you are willing to take a chance by placing a little trust and faith in me, I'll take you to a place that is a wonderland compared to where you've been."

Still unsure of his intent, she sarcastically queried, "What and where is this 'wonderland' you want to take me. Once there, what would I have to do?"

"The wonderland is called 'Wetap, ' 'what' is my home, 'where' is nearby. You don't have to do a thing but enjoy my hospitality while staying as my guest Miss Amber," he responded.

"Mister, no one goes to that much trouble for a stranger, what's the catch?" She was sure there had to be a net gain for him somewhere in his offer.

His smile continued to disarm her, "Please call me Richard, I think we have gone beyond being strangers, it's easier to be friends Miss Amber."

She let her guard down and inquired, "Wetap, what kind of name is that?"

He chuckled, "It's a long... but good story. Someday, if I get a chance I'd be more than happy to tell it to you, Miss Amber." With that said he stood, pulled out her chair for her and gestured towards the door.

She nodded goodbye to Joseph as he held the door open for them. He smiled and nodded back, "It was a pleasure meeting you Miss Amber. I sincerely hope you have a nice evening." It felt as if she was in a wonderland already, people and places like this didn't exist in her world.

The evening breeze caught her face, making her skin tingle as she stepped outside. It felt good. For some reason, the waiting limo didn't surprise her; neither did Daryl as he came around to open the door. She could never recall having so many doors held open for her.

While sliding across the luxurious leather cushioned seats, she felt slightly disoriented. In what seemed a surreal atmosphere, she thought, 'Damn girl, you could very easily get used to this. We haven't even left yet... how much more awesome could his wonderland be?'

On their way Richard explained Wetap was his home, designed and built to his personal specifications. She could tell by the tone of his voice that he felt great affection for it. His words left no doubt as to how wonderful he thought it was.

It was dark when they arrived at Wetap. Amber could see enough to know Wetap was a mansion sitting on perfectly landscaped grounds that were immaculately manicured. The outside was lit up enough for her to marvel at its beauty. She now felt it was a wonderland.

When the limo stopped, Amber reached for the door handle. Richard quickly grabbed her hand, her heart skipped a beat in fear. She spun around but was relieved to find his calming smile saying, 'Relax, everything is fine.'

Amber was temporarily startled before she understood Richard only stopped her to let Daryl do his job. As the door swung open with an extended hand, Daryl helped her out of the limo.

Several people greeted them as they entered the mansion. Amber soon learned they were part of the household staff. While Richard was introducing her to each of them, Amber couldn't help notice more and more people were joining the line to meet her. Evidently, as word spread, more than a few had gotten out of bed for the occasion and were still dressed in their night clothes and wearing robes.

Although she could easily see their respect and affection for Richard, Amber could tell they were equally startled and surprised by her and her appearance. They seemed to readily adjust to her presence as Richard informed them, "Amber will be staying as my guest until further notice."

The final person he introduced was Maria, evidently head of the household staff. Amber could tell she had authority and Richard respected her. She made Amber nervous with her gaze which left no doubt as to her concern, wondering what this ragamuffin of a girl was doing in Richard's home.

In turn, Richard left no doubt about his expectations. He instructed Maria to personally arrange for Amber's needs, starting with a bath, maybe two. Amber glared at him to show her annoyance but his smile told her he was jerking her chain. He jokingly responded, "Ok, just one, but since they are free, take two if you want."

Amber thoroughly scrubbed until she felt clean, then she drained and refilled the huge tub with clean hot water, hot as she could stand. She soaked for what seemed hours. It was a luxury she hadn't been able to indulge in years. She had forgotten how good it felt.

After the outer grime was removed, Maria took note that Amber had a quality of what could be called 'natural beauty.' As usual, Richard seemed to have an eye for seeing inside and beyond a person.

Amber was shown the way to a beautifully decorated bedroom where Maria informed her, "This will be your room." Needless to say, Amber was more than a little nervous. A young lady appeared with a set of brushes and proceeded to thoroughly brush out Amber's hair before leaving.

After laying out a beautiful silk night gown and robe, Maria prepared to leave. In an almost panicked voice Amber rasped, "Wait, don't leave."

Maria turned and smiled, "Do you need something else Amber?"

Looking lost and reflecting anxiety, Amber blurted out in confusion, "Yes... no... yes... Ohhh, I have so many questions. Where is Richard? What do I do now? What's going to happen next?"

Maria just smiled, "He has retired for the evening. I suggest you do the same. If I know Richard, you already have a full day planned for tomorrow. You will need all the rest you can get Amber."

"What do you mean a full day? Planned what? I thought I would be leaving in the morning. Where is Richard's wife? How is she going to feel about me being here? Please help me, I don't understand," Amber implored.

Maria came over and sat down beside her. Taking Amber's hand in hers, she pulled Amber to a standing position in front of her. She began to undo her towel and then proceeded to help her dress in the silk night gown.

"First off, there is no Mrs. Richard, never has been. Richard never married. Believe me, you have nothing to be afraid of or concerned about. You could not be in a more secure or caring place than here at Wetap. Most of the employees and their families, including mine, live here also. Sometimes it almost seems like a dream.

If you desire to leave at anytime, you're free to go. Daryl will deliver you anywhere you wish, but if you stay, be prepared. Richard never rests. Every day is filled with living. He loves life and lives it to the fullest.

We assist by making sure he has everything needed to make his day complete; in the process we get to share in his love of life. Every day is an adventure for him and he so looks forward to each new day.

Now get some rest. There will be plenty of time when you wake tomorrow to decide what to do with the rest of your life." As she tucked Amber into bed, Maria added, "If you need anything, just give a couple of tugs on the cord hanging by your bed."

On her way out, Maria turned off the light. The bed felt so comfortable, all Amber remembered was her last thought, 'Maybe I'll hang around just long enough to see what Richard has planned.'

The servant's bell from Amber's room was ringing off the wall. Two young ladies burst into her room followed by Maria. Thinking there must be a major emergency, Maria immediately inquired, "What's going on? What's happening?"

Infuriated, Amber squared off demanding, "Where are my clothes? They were right there on that table last night."

Maria sent the two young ladies back to their normal duties. Turning to Amber, she smiled with understanding, "I took them to Gordon and told him to get rid of them. He deposited them where they belong, he threw them in the incinerator."

Gordon... Gordon, oh yea, Amber remembered, he was the butler looking guy when they came in the door. "Who gave you the right to destroy my property?" Amber demanded to know.

Maria replied with a smile, "Who do you think? Richard of course. But only after he told me to get your size and send for new clothes."

Amber choked back tears as her emotions were unexpectedly blindsided by the impact of Richard's kindness and generosity. She sat down on the bed and turned her head slightly so Maria wouldn't see the extra moisture in her eyes. Amber hadn't cried in years, she didn't intend to start now. Regaining control, Amber looked up at Maria before asking a simple question she would repeat many times in the future, "What now?"

Shrugging her shoulders, Maria asked, "Would you like your new clothes and a ride back to where you came from? If not, you might want to try on the new riding outfit Richard ordered for you. He has been waiting to see if you might like to join him at the stables for a morning ride. If so, would you like some breakfast or it's close enough now, some lunch first?"

Amber's forehead had a deep frown.

Maria scoffed with a smile, "Is the decision really that difficult?"

"Well... yes and no," Amber squirmed... "I've never ridden a horse before."

Maria laughed, "Well besides the fact Richard loves to teach, don't you think it's time you started learning how to enjoy life?"

'It's unbelievable. The time has just flown by. What's it been four, no, five weeks?' Amber couldn't remember exactly how long she had been at Wetap.

Maria's warning had proven true; the days were filled with so much living. Every day was an adventure, if not, before it was over, Richard made it seem that way. Amber never recalled feeling so secure or seeing a place so beautiful, it truly was a wonderland.

Amber could see everyone involved in Richard's life deeply cared for him. It was evident being born wealthy never affected his love and concern for others. His character seemed to be reflected in a personal nature that garnished the respect of others, even from his own employees.

Richard had sent for her. As Amber entered his study, she recognized his serious face. Even though he was smiling, she had come to know what each smile and facial expression represented. When Richard became serious, she had learned to be wary. It usually meant a major change in someone's life.

In his most serious tone, Richard said, "Miss Amber, we need to discuss your future. It's been fun and games and we have enjoyed ourselves, but as in life, sooner or later all things must come to an end."

Amber didn't like the sound of this and panic gripped her heart. She had spent more than one restless night wondering when this incredible dream would end and she would have to leave. It was finally happening. He was putting her back out onto the streets.

How could he be so cruel to have brought her here, let her fall in love with Wetap, experience all the love and joy it had to offer, and then dump her back out into hell? God, she would die.

Richard could see the fear in her eyes. To clear the air quickly, he continued, "You didn't finish your high school education, it's time you did. Miss Amber I want you to get your G.E.D. and then we are going to enroll you in college. If you are going to continue living here, I insist that you finish your education and continue to improve yourself."

Amber sat in stunned silence; her eyes filled with tears as Richard lost his smile and looked thoroughly confused. "Did I say something wrong? I didn't mean to hurt your feelings Miss Amber," he stammered.

Next thing he knew, Amber was in his arms. She had him locked in a bear hug and was sobbing on his shoulder. He had never seen her cry. Richard absolutely didn't know what to do; for the first time in his life, he felt the fear of panic. Where was Maria when he needed her?

Just as he was about to hit the panic button, Amber pulled back and he could see the big smile on her face. She was so relieved, happy, and elated, there were no words she could find to express her feelings. The only thing she could do was blurt out, "Whatever you say Richard, you're the boss."

With a nervous smile covering his relief, Richard added, "Overall, I think our little talk went quite well. Don't you Miss Amber?"

She had not only grown to the point of loving his smile with all its different personality traits, but she had come to appreciate the annoying habit he had of always saying 'Miss Amber' whenever he addressed her. She knew it was a term of endearment he used with all the ladies in his life.

When she had asked, Maria burst out laughing while explaining it was Richard's way of showing affection. Maria said, "Don't worry, after awhile it will grow on you, just as Richard does. You will get to the point it makes you feel good to hear it." Amber now understood what Maria had been trying to convey to her.

Richard tapped into his connections, using his influence to help expedite the process. With her previous education plus special tutoring, Amber had her G.E.D. and university enrollment in record time.

She had just begun to experience the serious side of Richard. Even an inkling of the grueling hours of marathon study that lay ahead for her, might have made Amber seriously reconsider Maria's offer. She might have taken the new clothes and run.

The next two years passed quickly. Amber was surprised at what she was able to accomplish while maintaining a very high grade point average.

Richard insisted on and supervised her studies, never letting up or giving her a break. He had been serious about her 'continually improving herself.'

Amber's spare moments were spent with Richard attending the theatre, ballets, operas, museums or art exhibits. On occasion he took her on short jaunts to different parts of the world. She had been to Paris, London, Brussels, Berlin, Moscow, Peking, Sydney, Tokyo, Honolulu; they spent two weeks in New Zealand sightseeing from one end to the other.

She couldn't elude the fact her life was a living fairy tale most people would die for. Not that she didn't work and have responsibilities, but it was a life she could only fantasize of before meeting Richard.

Amber was beginning to experience something else. Before arriving at Wetap, she had been too scared, hungry, and destitute to pay attention to changes in her body. To just survive on the streets had been a daily battle requiring all her time and energy. It had taken everything and left nothing for her.

One of the benefits of having all your needs catered is the personal freedom to indulge yourself. At twenty-two years old, her sex drive was working overtime, for the first time she was listening to its demands. Raoul, the estate's young horse trainer, looked awfully appealing.

When Raoul would bring Amber's horse out for her early morning rides, she could feel herself yearning to touch and be touched by his young muscled body. He looked so sexy in his tight pants and t-shirts. Amber could tell he was attracted to her also. Every time their eyes met, they were giving each other 'the look.'

A brief series of knocks rapped on Amber's bedroom door. Her heart stopped as her head clouded with confusion and panic, no one came to her bedroom after bedtime. Who could it be? Maria? Without thinking, Amber half shouted, "Who is it?"

The door slowly opened and she could see Richard's outline silhouetted by the hall light. She heard him say, "Miss Amber, I'm sorry to distur..." His voice locked in mid sentence as she clutched the sheet to her naked breast. Her mind screamed 'Noo, nooo... oh God... noooo!'

They were frozen in suspended time as the reality of the situation closed in on both of them. She could see Richard's head drop. "Excuse me, I'm sorry for barging in on you," he said. He gently and quietly shut her bedroom door as he left.

The tears were flowing down her face. She realized they had been on full display when the light from the hallway lit up her bed. As Raoul reached for her she recoiled in horror, "What are you doing?" she demanded angrily.

"He's gone and won't be back, we can pick up where we left off," Raoul coaxed.

"Raoul, just get dressed and get out," she ordered.

"But... ," He stammered.

"No but, just get out," she had already dismissed him. The fires that had been lit by her desires earlier were now nothing but cold embers.

Speaking more to herself than to Raoul, Amber loudly muttered, "I have to go find him and talk to him." Richard was the dearest friend she had and she needed to make him understand. She couldn't leave him thinking the worst of her.

After getting dressed, she knew where Richard would be. Amber knocked lightly on the door of his study. His soft voice said, "Come in."

As she entered the room he was sitting at his desk writing on a slip of paper. Shutting the door gently, Amber implored, "Richard?"

"Yes," he responded.

She wanted him to turn and look at her; she needed him to turn and look at her; she needed to see his face. Amber tried again, "Richard?"

This time, he answered a little louder with a touch of firmness, "Yes, what is it you need?"

Her voice half pleaded, "Richard, I need to talk to you. I need to explain what was happening. I don't want you to misunderstand."

Just then Richard finished writing. He picked up the slip of paper and a key lying next to it and pivoted around so he was facing her. "There's nothing to explain. Don't forget, I was young once. I haven't forgotten the emotional wringer of romance or the torturous experiences desire extorts."

"But I don't want you to be mad at me," Amber entreated with tears in her eyes. The tears were from the guilt she felt for the fact Richard was not smiling, something she had never experienced before.

"I'm not mad at you, I'm mad at myself. We should have had this talk long ago so you would know and understand that I expect everyone who works or resides at Wetap to respect its sanctity.

It's this sanctity that makes it a loving home for all of us, me, you, and the employees. Violate that sanctity and everyone loses respect, not only for their home, but for each other.

It's your life, what you do outside of Wetap is your business. But I and everyone else who live here have a vested interest in what happens at Wetap.

We have already seen people in high positions show great disrespect for the sanctity of our Nation's most important and historical home, the 'White House'. I will not stand for it to happen here at Wetap." His voice left no doubt to his conviction.

"Richard, I'm so sorry... ," Amber responded with sincerity.

"No need to be, you didn't know. That's my fault. I'll try to never let that happen again," he confessed. Handing her the piece of paper along with the key he said, "Now take these."

Reluctantly and with hesitation, she gingerly took the objects offered. Not understanding, Amber questioned with misgiving, "What're these for?"

With a blank stare Richard replied, "It's the address and key to a home of a very dear friend who died a few years ago. His health prevented him from working so I paid off his mortgage. Since he had no relatives, he left it to me.

"I'd just put it on the market two days ago. I'm pulling it so you will have a private place to take anyone you desire. No one need know but you and your guest."

His action stunned her. She pleaded, "I don't need a place like this Richard."

"Well it's there if you need it," Richard firmly responded. "The choice of whether or not to use it is yours," he added while pivoting his chair back around to face his desk.

Amber had the feeling she was dismissed. She felt so cold. He had never treated her so impersonally. Reaching for the door handle, she turned her head and asked, "Richard?"

"Yes?" He questioned.

"Why did you come to my room tonight?" she inquired.

Never turning to face her, he informed, "Oh yes, I wanted to let you know I will be leaving before you wake in the morning and to tell you goodbye. I have some business to tend and friends to visit."

Something wasn't right. Richard was upset, he had to be. In her heart she knew he had come to tell her to pack and be ready to leave in the morning, but changed his mind. Amber would not be going with him.

He had never taken a trip without her since her arrival at Wetap. It would be the first time she would spend a day without him, she would be all alone. Her voice quivered, "How long will you be away?"

She saw his head slowly rise. He appeared to stare at the wall as he solemnly replied, "I don't know for sure, could be a while. Continue your education and studies while I'm gone, Maria will see to your needs. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some paper work to prepare before I leave." As he looked down at the papers on his desk, he quipped, "I'll let you get the door on your way out."

Amber quietly eased through the doorway, gently shutting it behind her so not to disturb him. As she started back to her room, something didn't feel right. She knew he didn't smile once during their talk, but there was something else missing in their short conversation, something very familiar and comforting.

It dawned on her, never once during their exchange had he affectionately called her 'Miss Amber.' With a sob she gripped the key so hard it almost drew blood.

When Amber arose the next morning, true to his word, Richard had already departed. She had breakfast alone in the dining room.

Later taking the address and key Richard had given her, she set out in the convertible to find the house he had spoken of. Much to her surprise, she found herself at a mobile home park, commonly called a trailer park. Judging from its appearance, it was a more upscale park.

Slowly circling the oval drive that constitutes the layout of most trailer parks, she located the house, or a better word 'mobile home, ' that sat at the address Richard had given her.

From the outside, it appeared to be a well maintained and attractive home. She slowly got out of the car and cautiously walked to the front door.

The key worked. As she stepped inside, her first impression surprised even her, it was a very well kept home. Anyone could tell the previous tenant had loved and cared for it with affection.

One of the first things that caught her eye was the collection of books. Since Richard had overseen her education and studies, she had read many classics and novels, they were all there. It was easy to see what Richard and his friend had in common. She could almost feel the previous owner's emotions and thoughts as she ran her hand over the books one by one, reading their titles and authors.

It was a lovely home, she felt perfectly relaxed, not the same extravagance and largeness as Wetap, but still very secure and comfortable. She could feel Richard's concern and his continual vigilance for her well being as she studied the various aspects of this gift he had provided for her.

Amber was caught off guard when Raoul sprang from the shadows in the foyer, pinning her to the wall with a passionate kiss as he tried to slip his hands under her blouse. "Stop it... stop it, I mean it," she ordered him.

With a surprised look, "What gives, I thought you wanted it as much as me?" Raoul questioned. "Are we ever going to finish what we started or were you just teasing me?"

Amber looked him in the eyes and replied, "I would never do that, but it's going to be my first time and I want it to be right. Tomorrow, I've got a place where we won't be disturbed, but never, I repeat never, will it happen in this house. Do you understand?"

Raoul whipped the convertible into the parking space provided alongside the mobile home. Amber was laughing with Raoul at some off the wall joke he had cracked. Her laugh dropped to a light chuckle as she viewed the mobile home for the first time with Raoul.

"Hey, this is great. How did you come up with this place?" Raoul questioned.

Amber laughingly replied, "Oh, I have connections."

Raoul bailed out and ran up to the door, "Come on, I've been dying to pickup where we left off. I want you so bad, hurry."

As Amber sat reflecting for a moment, it crossed her mind, this wasn't right. Richard was still trying to teach her something, but what? She slowly got out of the car, extracting the key to the mobile home as she walked up to the door.

"Come on, hurry, I can't wait," he said. "I can't believe we are going to make love and this time, no interruptions."

As Amber slipped the key into the lock, she paused, looked around and Richard's words came roaring out of the back or her mind. 'Miss Amber, a lady never opens a door in front of a gentleman, if she does, she's not a lady. If he doesn't open it for her, she needs to be with someone else because she's not with a gentleman.'

Nausea swept through her abdomen, she suddenly felt sick and light headed. "The key doesn't work," she said to Raoul, "let's go."

As he felt the moment slipping away... again, he begged in desperation, "Here, give it to me. Let me try." Damn, he wanted to fuck this bitch bad.

"I said it didn't work," Amber angrily spat between clinched teeth. "Let's go home."

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