Chapter 5Content: MF
I rolled out of bed about nine-thirty Saturday morning. I don't usually sleep that long, but I'd had a lot of alcohol, then more or less sobered up, then participated in some delightful exercise with Irene -- who was without a doubt the liveliest fuck I'd ever had. The woman was homely, but she could suck the chrome off a trailer hitch! Was I going to get all romantic? No -- Mack's injunctions to take things easy and not get roped into something just because I was suddenly presented with plentiful feminine companionship had sunk in. But that didn't mean that I didn't intend to enjoy myself with Irene whenever it made sense.
Irene was still taking up a considerable portion of my new king size bed as I wandered the apartment -- something I didn't begrudge her. But enough is enough and I'd had plenty of sleep...
As I wandered past my sanctum, something bleeped, so I wandered in and sat down. An IM window was open on one screen:
I keyed in 'Hey, yourself':
Zapmaster6: Hey, yourself.
Troglodyte77: Where u been?
Zapmaster6: New job, new apartment, new ISP.
Troglodyte77: At least you're not living with your mother, I hope.
Zapmaster6: No. Actually, I'm doing real well -- just slow getting everything hooked up.
Troglodyte77: Elliott's birthday is Tuesday.
Zapmaster6: No shit?
Troglodyte77: It's his 25th. We're trying to do something.
Zapmaster6: Who is we?
Troglodyte77: The usual bunch.
Troglodyte77: Dunno. We'd like to do something special -- but that would mean a hotel room or something.
Troglodyte77: Chick jumping out of a cake or something. Elliott doesn't get much...
Zapmaster6: Does anyone?
After typing that, I suddenly remembered that MY situation had changed, at least.
Zapmaster6: So, a hooker?
Troglodyte77: A dancer, maybe. There is a problem. Edwina.
Edwina Fleiss -- female nerd. Granted, she was swimming with the school -- but she was still female. When she invited herself to the functions of our little group, we all felt constrained NOT to discuss what would otherwise be a favorite subject -- yeah, women. And sex. She undoubtedly didn't mean to put a damper on things, but it happened anyway -- let's face it, several of us were painfully shy, for starters. We were a group that had blossomed from Chess Clubs and Computer Clubs in high school and college across the IT departments of several local businesses and online gaming universes on the net. Elliott DID live at home with his mother. Rudy (Troglodyte77) shared a house with two other guys who were still in college. Edwina's avatar, StarfireLX7, was a hot looking mage with some serious powers, so she probably had some concept of sex -- but Edwina was small, had bushy eyebrows behind thick glasses and thin, somewhat oily mud-brown hair tacked back with barrettes and rubber bands. She missed having braces, somehow -- but probably could have used them. Nobody knew what her body looked like; she wore overalls and sweaters and button up to the neck blouses and other things apparently designed to render her actual shape unidentifiable. I'd seen her sweating under four layers of clothing in ninety degree heat; fortunately, she worked in a company data center that was kept at a cool sixty-four degrees.
Zapmaster6: No way to talk her out of coming?
Troglodyte77: She's insistent.
Zapmaster6: Did you tell her we might want to do something like that?
Troglodyte77: Yeah. She wanted to know why -- then we got into a discussion of holdover Neanderthal behaviors and what a cliché the idea was...
Zapmaster6: So you couldn't sell her on the idea that she really wouldn't want to see us engaging in such behavior?
Troglodyte77: I think she's going to write a paper -- Jane Goodall and the man-apes of Shelbyville.
Zapmaster6: She'll leave if it happens. We'll hear about it, but it will blow over.
Troglodyte77: It's a pipe dream anyway.
"What you doin' Baby?"
I jumped a foot! Irene was standing in the door, looking around. "Jeezus, Baby! Look at all those screens! I knew you wasn't any kind of kin to Mack, but this? What is all this, anyway?"
There were only four screens, really. The system I was using for IM was also displaying both of my e-mail accounts; the twenty-one incher had my local copy of Mack's new company website. The others had a spreadsheet and a hung role-playing game. "It's just stuff I'm working on," I mumbled.
"Okay. Do you eat, Baby? There's nothing in the refrigerator."
"There's a diner around the corner," I told her. "I haven't had time to shop."
"Well, you should. Even diners cost more than the grocery store."
"Yeah, well... Hang on a minute." I turned back to the keyboard.
Zapmaster6: Maybe not. What do we REALLY want?
Troglodyte77: Are you kidding? If the sky were to rain hookers...
There was a giggle over my shoulder.
Troglodyte77: But then there's Edwina. If we actually got around to that she would probably go catatonic.
"What's up, Baby?" Irene asked, reading the screen.
"Some of my friends want to throw a birthday bash for one of us. It's his twenty-fifth," I amplified. "It would be nice if..."
"You had entertainment?" Irene finished.
"Yeah..." I pursed my lips.
"Are these boys as cute as you?"
"They're all geeks and nerds, if that's what you mean," I chuckled. "So, what's the rent?"
"It's seven hundred, Baby. I'd do it for less, but Mack wouldn't let me."
"You're behind, anyway, right?" I muttered.
I went back to the keyboard:
Zapmaster6: I know somebody who knows somebody. I might be able to do something, but it'll take money."
Troglodyte77: What are you talking about getting?
I turned to Irene. "What are we talking, here?"
Irene pursed her lips. "How many guys?"
I counted heads. "Six or eight. Ten at the outside -- including me."
"Way I hear it, when Mack caters a party, it goes all night," Irene mused. "And some of them aren't particularly safe. This sounds like a walk in the park. I won't promise to do everybody three times, but..."
I turned back to the keyboard.
Zapmaster6: Who have you got coming?
Troglodyte77: Me, Odd Ogg, Elliott, of course. Rajiv, Lord Ribbitt, SnipeHunter. And Edwina.
I turned to Irene. "Okay, like I figured. This bunch is from 'Revenge of the Nerds' -- but there's Edwina. Come to think of it, she's from there, too -- she'd be an Omega Mu."
"Umm, right." Irene obviously didn't get the reference. "You gotta deal with her. The boys sound easy, though. Where?"
"Does Mack always do his card parties in that apartment across the way?" I asked.
Irene shrugged. "As far as I know."
I snatched up my phone and hit the speed dial, putting it on speaker. Mack's voice rasped, "Yeah?" on the fourth ring.
"Mack, it's Pete."
"So? The office burn down?"
"Sorry. I'm working on something for Irene. Can I use that place we were in last night?"
"What the fuck for?"
"Oh." There was a pause. "When?"
"Yeah. Don't tear up the place and try not to show the whole neighborhood the gang bang. Have Irene clean up, afterward." There was a pause. "If I find out you went all soft on her and this is some bullshit scam to pull the wool over my eyes, I'm gonna be pissed."
"It's seven guys, Mack. They won't be bringing whips and chains, but the numbers work," I assured him.
"Yeah..." Mack was quiet. "You understand -- I'm not trying to set anyone up to fail or anything, but it's SUPPOSED to be a bitch -- they're SUPPOSED to pay the fucking rent, not make me pimp for 'em. And I can't have you subsidizing any of their cute little pussies, either! I'll probably stop by to check on shit."
"That's cool," I told him. "It'll keep it from looking like I arranged it directly."
"Awright. Sounds like you got your head on straight," Mack rumbled. "She ain't there, is she? Listening?"
"I heard every word, Mack," Irene announced herself.
"That's fine -- I was pretty clear, right?"
"Don't sleep there tonight. In fact, you come fucking see me about eight-thirty."
I frowned. How should I handle this? "Mack? Don't tear up anything she's gonna need Tuesday night. I'm gonna be making promises."
"Yeah, awright." There was another short pause. "And Pete? Never before fucking noon on Saturday -- unless the office burned down."
"Okay, here we go," I announced, turning back to the keyboard.
Zapmaster6: I can get a place and I can get a woman. Cost is $700.
Troglodyte77: Cool. Price is pretty steep...
Zapmaster6: Everybody gets laid.
Troglodyte77: EVERYBODY??? F*CK! THAT changes things!
Zapmaster6: It's about a hundred a pop. Somebody needs to cover Elliott. I'll kick in some.
Troglodyte77: Don't bother. If you got the place and the woman, you've done PLENTY!
Troglodyte77: What about Edwina?
Zapmaster6: I'll talk to her.
Troglodyte77: Okay, cool -- I'll start getting everybody rounded up and the beer and stuff.
Zapmaster6: Cool. I'll pass out the address on Tuesday. We don't want Edwina setting up a police raid.
Zapmaster6: I'm gone.
I turned from the keyboard. Irene was looking a little nervous. "You didn't tell them I'm black."
"They didn't ask," I replied. "My friends aren't what Mack ends up collecting -- telling them they're gonna get laid is big -- they don't need to abuse and degrade anyone. They'll be grateful. And you'll be exotic."
Irene eyed me. "If you say so."
"Fine." I turned back to the keyboard.
Zapmaster6: The woman is black. Is that a problem?
Troglodyte77: F*ck no! Cool!
Zapmaster6: Just checking. Later.
"Ttyl?" Irene asked.
"Talk to you later."
"Let's get a shower," I said, "and I'll show you the inside of that diner."
"I need you plumped up for Tuesday," I told her. "It's a business expense." She laughed and we went off to shower.
I caught Hell for the whole thing later:
StarfireLX7: So now you're a pimp?
Edwina's avatar was frowning, her arms crossed below her unreal endowments.
Zapmaster6: That's procurer. Get it right.
StarfireLX7: Whatever it is, it's disgusting. Hiring a hooker...
Zapmaster6: She's not a hooker. She's a single mother of two who is behind on her rent. And she volunteered.
StarfireLX7: It's exploitation. Besides, what do you expect to accomplish?
Zapmaster6: Besides popping Elliott's seven years overdue cherry? Make a lot of people happy.
StarfireLX7: By orchestrating a gang bang. That poor woman...
Zapmaster6: That poor woman is thrilled to death. The guys will treat her a LOT better than the other arrangements that she might have had to make. She gets her rent, the kids eat...
StarfireLX7: It's exploitation.
Zapmaster6: It's a solution to several problems that everyone is pleased with -- except you.
StarfireLX7: It's disgusting.
Zapmaster6: How do you know? Have you ever done it?
StarfireLX7: Very funny!
Zapmaster6: This is one of those things that guys and gals differ on -- and not all guys and gals, for that matter. If it bothers you, stay away. In fact, probably everyone would be more comfortable if you did.
StarfireLX7: Tough. I'm coming. I want to make sure that poor woman isn't abused.
Zapmaster6: That's nice of you -- but I think I'm insulted for the guys. Do you REALLY think any of them would hurt her?
StarfireLX7: Well, no.
Zapmaster6: Okay, then. I know you feel strongly about this. You're on record. But if you don't want your nose rubbed in the fact that we're male, walk away.
StarfireLX7: I'll think about it.
The rest of the weekend went pretty well. Rudy called me Saturday night and we talked about things for an hour or so, me pretending a lot more ignorance of the situation that was actually the case; I really didn't want to get into the position where the guys looked to me to provide them with pussy an anything resembling a regular basis. I wanted them to think that this was an accidental piece of luck that would generate a one-time deal -- and if Mack showed up, that would help. The conversation came around to Edwina:
"What about Edwina?" Rudy asked.
"She flamed me over IM. I told her it was a guy thing and that if it bothered her, she should stay away, not get her nose rubbed in it."
"How did that go over?"
"Like a fart in church," I chuckled. "She said she was coming to make sure nobody abused the woman. I shoved THAT back down her throat, so now she doesn't have an excuse."
Rudy chuckled. "Cool. I mean, sex isn't her bag, you know? Why should she want to act like an authority?"
"I think she's a little freaked that the subject should even come up, let alone get in her face like that."
"Yeah, well, just because we don't have a life doesn't mean we don't WANT one."
Monday, Mack gave me shit about Irene having her claws in me -- and I reminded him that he'd more or less assigned the job of finding something for her to do to me. That shut HIM up -- except for reminding me that he might stop in to check on things.
"I hope you do," I told him. "I can palm control of the situation off on you. I don't want them thinking I'm going to step up and provide them with hot and cold running pussy."
Mack just laughed.
Tuesday came and I pushed the address to Rudy at noon for a party at eight. Mack, grinning, watched me head out to pick up Irene at six-thirty. I learned why when I reached Irene's. "Do you have any idea the shit he put me through for sleeping with you Friday night?" she asked, rubbing her ass. "If I didn't have this going, I probably wouldn't be ABLE to fuck!"
"I have to talk to him about that," I muttered. "It would be different if I wasn't paying any attention to him."
"Well, he knows you're a catch -- and he knows we can smell it, Baby -- so he's takin' care of you. But damn, does he have to be so mean about it?" Irene grinned ruefully.
We got to the apartment and Irene got into her rig while I opened it up and got the A/C going. The place reeked of cigar smoke; Irene dragged some can of odor killer out to handle it. Maybe we were going to smoke, and maybe not, but I figured it would be better if we made the call ourselves. I cracked some windows so the A/C could push the worst of it out the windows and draw in some fresh.
Rudy showed up at seven with a pony keg and some other stuff. He and Irene both did a double-take. "That's the tricycle or whatever?" Irene asked me quietly.
"Troglodyte," I corrected. "It means cave dweller -- or someone who lives alone. It's kind of Rudy's joke. He's got two roommates, but..." I decided to leave it at that, rather than mentioning the fact that the problem with Rudy's roommates is that they aren't female. Rudy is black and kind of like Fat Albert -- big and slow -- everywhere but between the ears. He's big like a bear, though, not big like the Pillsbury Doughboy -- and he can't help it if he's a little baby-faced. I don't think I've ever seen a look of naked hunger like the one Rudy got when he laid eyes on Irene's tits -- mostly uncovered by that fishnet top -- and I don't think Irene had, either. It was going to be an interesting evening...
Things got more interesting, rapidly. The doorbell rang and Irene went to throw open the door -- and there stood Edwina. "This must be the place," she said sourly.
"Aw, shit," Rudy grunted, looking up.
"I'm sure I'm ruining your... whatever," Edwina snarled.
"It's a party, Baby. A birthday party." Irene was as cool, calm, and collected as I've ever seen her.
"And you're the present?" Edwina sniped.
"One, anyway," Irene replied.
Edwina eyed her. "Why would you do this?"
"There's a bunch of reasons, Baby," Irene replied. "I made a deal with the Devil... Well, I'd LIKE to think of him as the Devil, but he's really not so bad. I went into it with my eyes wide open, anyway -- I knew what I was letting myself in for, and I agreed to it -- and this is a LOT nicer than I was TOLD it would be! You wanna hear the other reasons?"
Edwina flashed me a look. "I want to know who this devil is, anyway..."
"Come in, then -- we don't need to talk in the hall."
Edwina pranced gingerly in and Irene closed the door. Rudy put his head down and pretended to be fully engaged with setting up the keg -- but I knew better. Irene's response to Edwina's look was, "Pete? Baby, Pete's a sweetheart -- everybody knows THAT!"
"Isn't he in charge of..." Edwina waved a hand. "This?"
"Well, I suppose..." Irene replied. "What's that got to do with anything?"
"He could stop this!"
"Why should he?" Irene asked. "That would make a LOT of people unhappy -- Pete's friends, the birthday boy, the devil -- even me! Why would he do such a silly thing?"
Edwina blinked. "Why would it make YOU unhappy?"
"Baby, this is my rent money," Irene said gently. "I've got two little kids at home and nobody will hire me -- and if this gig falls through, the one the Devil will chase down to replace it -- IF he can -- will be with a LOT worse a group of guys than your friends! And if he DOESN'T find one, I'll be living in a shelter next month!"
"B--but..." Edwina blustered. "You're almost naked! And this is a gang bang -- isn't it?"
Irene cocked her head and looked a bit concerned. "What's the matter, Baby? Don't you like sex? These boys aren't gonna hurt me -- you know that! I KNOW you know that! We're all gonna have a grand old time!"
Edwina hung her head. "I guess I just don't understand..."
"I know -- you're worried about me. But Baby, this is the best thing I got going! On top of everything else, I get to use the power!"
"Girl Power, Baby! Watch this..." Irene turned around. "Oh, Rudy..." Rudy looked up, and Irene, smiling, shook her shoulders -- which of course made her breasts dance. "You see that, Baby? You see how ol' Cave Man got all hot around the eyes? THAT'S Girl Power. Most days and most places, I can't use Girl Power -- I ain't got much, 'cause I'm homely. But here -- who do you think is gonna run this here show, anyway? Who do you think is gonna have those boys eatin' out of her hand?"
"Oh..." Edwina looked like someone had whacked her with a tuna fish. "Girl Power." She stood there, dazed.
"Uh huh. You ain't never used it, have you? I bet you didn't think you had none," Irene guessed.
Edwina looked down at herself. "I don't."
"I bet you do, Baby -- you just have to hide it all the time, like I do. You think I get any attention without my titties showing?"
"Um, no... I mean yeah..." Edwina looked flustered.
"Girls like you and me -- we only get to use Girl Power under special circumstances -- like these," Irene explained. "I can't toss it out on the street -- but I'm gonna OWN this place! Watch me!"
Irene cocked her head. "I know what you're thinkin' You're thinkin' you ain't got none at all, ain't ya? Every girl's got SOME, Baby -- a little bit comes as standard equipment, like seats in a car. If we didn't, there wouldn't be no babies in the world. I tell you what -- let's go in the bedroom there and I'll give you my professional opinion..." She led Edwina off; Rudy and I stared at each other, bemused. After a moment, Rudy shrugged and they went back to the party preparations.
Irene came back in about ten minutes. "Where's Edwina?" Rudy asked.
"She's trying to decide if she should try to use her Girl Power," Irene replied, stepping up to the bar and taking a stack of napkins to fold. After a moment, she asked, "Have any of you guys ever tried to, you know, hit on her?"
I blinked. "Edwina? I don't think so. I mean, in the first place, we're not your most up-front group of guys, you know? Women are kind of unpredictable and scary and we just don't generally win when we try to start something with one. A few abject failures and you avoid charged situations and kind of ogle from afar. Edwina, though -- I mean, we know she's a girl and we make some allowances for it, but she hasn't exactly been advertising. In a lot of ways, she's one of the guys -- and I've never seen her say or do anything that put up a sign that said 'I'm female,' let alone 'I'm approachable,' you know?"
"Mmm, yeah I get that." Irene went back to folding napkins.
Rudy went downstairs to get the cake; it would be an anachronism as nobody would really want any at THIS party -- but it was a necessary prop. When he came back up and Irene let him in, he handed it off to her and came over to me. "Here, Man," he said quietly, pushing a wad of bills into my hand, "You did wonders -- I can't wait..."
"Well," I chuckled, "Elliott goes first!" Then putting on a more serious expression, I added, "I don't see me doing this on a regular basis; I'm not a pimp. This is a one-time deal."
"I get it," Rudy nodded.
Edwina announced herself by peering around the bedroom door, "Um, Irene?"
"Yes, Baby?" Irene hustled into the bedroom, Edwina having withdrawn her head back through the doorway like a turtle ducking into its shell. In a moment or two, Irene was back. "Is the keg up and running?" she asked.
Rudy shrugged. "Yeah."
"Could you draw one for Edwina?"
"Sure..." Rudy did the honors. "Funny, I didn't think Edwina drank."
"Sometimes you just gotta try new things," Irene replied; flashing him a quick smile, she padded off, the cup of beer in hand.
"Gonna be a strange night," Rudy predicted. I just nodded.
Ogg showed up next -- Odd Ogg, or Jim Teller. Jim was a systems admin, but he looked like a biker -- and he was, although he was the mellow type. He was good-sized, with long red hair tied back with a red bandana, two-day beard, blue jeans, the chained wallet, Harley-Davidson T-shirt under a flannel work shirt and dingo boots. He was the most laid-back guy you would ever want to meet; nothing fazed him, not even Irene or the revelation that Edwina was on the premises somewhere and fully aware of Irene. "Bet that was fun," he mused, wallowing a toothpick around in his mouth. He didn't even ask if there were impacts. I figured that if anyone in the group was getting laid fairly regularly, it was probably Ogg.
Rajiv and the SnipeHunter showed up together. Rajiv is Indian (yeah, I know, duh) -- and he has the usual language issues in that he fractures English -- while attempting to use it at what we would consider to be twice the normal speed. He stood popping his eyes at Irene and announced, "I am getting pretty amazed here. I never believed that you could make anyone to do this."
"I'm a volunteer," Irene replied, smiling.
"I am not really understanding..." Rajiv shook his head and reported to the bar for some beer to consume while he puzzled it all out.
SnipeHunter -- Irwin Batson -- just stood there with his head cocked. "You weren't bullshitting me. You REALLY weren't bullshitting me..." Irwin got his moniker because he's really naïve. Everybody -- EVERYBODY -- has pulled a practical joke on Irwin; he has a big bull's-eye on his back. It's just too easy not to succumb to temptation. He's short and portly, with a snub nose peppered with freckles and reddish brown hair and an eternally quizzical look. He won't wear shorts because then he looks like a cartoon Boy Scout. Irwin occupied an easy chair with a view of the bar and eyed Irene as if she'd come through a rift from another galaxy, waiting for the axe to fall.
Elliott arrived with Lord Ribbit -- Robert Terence Smithson. Robert looked like an exceedingly tall and somewhat snotty twelve year old -- and he was, of course, twice that age. His face was boyish and a little rabbit-like and generally displayed an expression indicating that he was certain that he was superior to everyone else in the vicinity. The reality, of course, was that he had an inferiority complex a mile wide...
Elliott Schwartz was, well, Jewish -- not particularly impressive-looking, except for his unruly, springy brown hair, which he pretended to part on the left side and to try to get to lie down, but he only succeeded in making it look like a wedge. Add a fine, disgusting set of horn-rims and POOF! Elliott.
Irene, who had door duty, threw open the door and Robert stopped in the middle of whatever he was declaiming and gasped, "Oh... My... GOD!" his eyes bugged and a hand to his mouth.
Elliott ran his hand through his hair and gulped, visibly. "I, uh, think maybe this is the wrong..."
I got there at that point. "Nope. This is the place. Happy Birthday, Elliott!"
Elliott stood there, gaping like a fish. "I... I... You got a dancer?"
Irene stepped forward and took a hand, pulling Elliott in. "Come in, Baby -- you're letting out the air conditioning. Happy Birthday!"
Elliott allowed himself to be pulled into the apartment, emitting an overwhelmed, "Uuuuuhhhh..." Everyone else yelled and cheered and clapped -- including Ribbit, who was still standing in the hallway, looking flustered. I nodded him in and he came through the door and closed it carefully. "Thank God Edwina isn't here!" he muttered.
"Actually, she is," I told him. "She's hanging out in the bedroom -- doing what, I don't know."
"Drinking beer, mostly," Irene filled in. "I don't think she likes the stuff, but she seems to need to be fortified."
"Why don't you make her a mixed drink?" I suggested. "A Cape Codder, or something."
"Vodka and cranberry juice."
"Oh! Good idea!" Irene dropped Elliott's hand. "Don't you go anywhere, Baby -- I'll be back to see to you."
"Uh, okay, yeah..." Elliott stood there, dazed.
"Hey, relax, grab a chair," I told him. "Want a beer?"
"Wow! This is major, guys -- I mean, where did you get the dancer?" Elliott asked.
"She ain't a dancer, Man," Rudy husked. "She's something better."
"Better..." Elliott mused, "Like what?"
Rudy flashed a glance at me. "Um, let's just say she's your birthday present," I explained. Irene, who was digging in the refrigerator for cranberry juice, stopped to look over her shoulder and smile at Elliott.
Elliott's eyes got HUGE! "I think I'll have that beer," he said shakily, plopping into a chair.
Irene pouted. "You no like?"
"No, no!" Elliott waved his hands. "I'm just surprised, that's all! Really, REALLY surprised!" He shook his head.
Irene grinned her toothy grin. "Good!" She went back to refrigerator fishing, snatching the cranberry juice off the shelf. In a moment or two, she had the drink finished and padded off toward the bedroom.
Elliott gathered himself. "Edwina?"
"She's here," I told him. "She disappeared into the bedroom a half-hour ago and hasn't been seen since -- but unless Irene knocked her out with a baseball bat, she's fine. Since she's drinking, I have to figure she's awake..."
Elliott scratched his head. "Since she's here..."
"Nothing," I finished for him. "She showed up to make sure us brutes didn't do terrible things to Irene -- but Irene told her that she didn't consider anything on the agenda to be that terrible and that she would be disappointed if Edwina stirred up a fuss. After that, they went off for some girl talk. Edwina may still be planning to write her paper on the nasty habits of the human male, but if she keeps drinking, I kind of doubt her notes will be all that valuable to her."
Jim chuckled. Robert gave him a look. Irwin sat in his chair, looking back and forth. Rudy started decanting cups of beer from the keg, under the watchful eye of Rajiv, who was mumbling to himself. Irene came back in and swayed her way to the chair, collected Elliott's beer, and settled gently on his lap, pulling an arm around her waist. "Wh--what about Edwina?" Elliott gasped.
I sighed. "Okay, who here has given thought, one time or another, to having sex -- if not something more substantial -- with Edwina? Raise your hands." Everyone did -- even Jim -- and me. "Okay, how many of you had any belief that if you made advances of that nature, they would be accepted?" Everybody lowered their hands. "Okay, then. Since we're all agreed that nobody has a snowball's chance in Hell of sleeping with Edwina, nobody is blowing his big chance. That being the case, we have nothing to lose." I riffled a pack of playing cards, then said, "Oh, by the way -- just to kind of clear the air -- Irene is NOT a professional, if you know what I mean. She's a single mother of two who owes a guy some money. She volunteered to be here because being with you guys is an improvement on the things she might have had to do to clear her debt. I know I don't have to tell you guys to be nice to her -- I just don't want you to take it for granted that she's done it all, you know?" I glanced around and got nods. "Okay, anybody want to play a little poker?"
I jumped a foot when a soft contralto asked, "Can I play?"
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