It was crazy.
Sure, he'd had a lech for Marilyn Ralston for a long time, but he'd never seriously contemplated doing anything about it. She and her husband lived in the same building as he and Laura, and they saw each other for drinks occasionally. So you get the hots for a neighbor, maybe in the flicker of her eyes, the tone in her voice, he perceived something unspeakable, have a few harmless fantasies about her, and that's it, until last night.
Not that anything had happened. She and Larry had stopped in for a drink or two, and they'd talked, that's all. Among other things, they talked about the rising crime rate in the neighborhood, how dangerous the city was getting; hell, it wasn't safe to walk the streets anymore. And Marilyn had said, "Did you read about what happened to that woman the other day? Only a few blocks away from here?"
"No, what?" Laura asked.
Marilyn leaned forward. "She was home alone. This man broke into her apartment in broad daylight, mind you, and held a gun on her and made her take her clothes off, and then raped her. And there wasn't anything she could do about it. Can you imagine that?"
Laura said something, but he hadn't heard it. He was watching Marilyn curiously. Something about the way she had told the story intrigued him. She'd been telling it as an example of the horrible things that were happening, but there had been more than horror in her eyes. Even in her voice, he thought. There had been a kind of perverse fascination. Or was he imagining it? The way she had said, "And she couldn't do a thing about it." The way her eyes had flickered for an instant knowingly.
Later, while Larry was in the john and Laura was doing something in the kitchen, he'd brought it up again. "Where did you say that woman lived? The one that was raped!"
"Right up here on Seventy-Seventh Street," she said. "Near Central Park West, for God's sake."
He shook his head. "What was it he did again?" he asked casually. "I'm afraid I wasn't listening too well."
He watched her face as she answered. "Well, he came to the door and when she answered he broke right in with a gun. And he held it on her and forced her to take off all her clothes. And then he made her, you know, submit to him." Again he caught the flicker in the eyes, the subtle undertone in the voice.
"And she couldn't do any, thing?" he asked. "Yell for help or anything?"
"How could she? He was threatening to shoot her. She was helpless." A slight tremor in the voice.
"That is pretty frightening, I guess," he said. "What do you think you would do if it happened to you?" He: watched her openly now.
She swallowed, "To me?" She gave a weak little laugh.
He kept his tone casual. "Yes, if someone broke in on you with a gun, and forced you to strip, and then raped you, what would you do?"
"Oh, don't say that!" She gave a little shudder, a pretend shudder. "I don't know, I mean it would be just-just terrible!"
"Funny," he said. "I'll bet there are some women who would like it."
Was that a faint flush at her throat? Or was it just the alcohol? She avoided his eyes now, giving that little laugh again. "I don't believe it." she said. "How could they?"
He said nothing, and then Larry had come back into the room. How interesting, he had thought, how very interesting.
In the morning he had told himself that what he was thinking was absurd, ridiculous, fantastic, not to mention dangerous. The idea kept nagging at him, though. Between the time he got out of bed and the time he left for work he had dismissed it a dozen times. But now he found himself getting off the elevator on the Ralstons' floor. His head was pounding as he stood before their apartment door. I must be out of my mind, he thought. It'll never work. But remem- bering Marilyn's eyes he thought it just might. He pushed the buzzer.
Marilyn opened the door. She wore a yellow blouse and a black skirt. Her dark brown hair was pulled back. She smiled at him, surprised. "Stan! Hi. Come on in." He stepped in, closing the door behind him.
"I'm afraid Larry's gone to work," she said.
"I know. It's you I want to see."
"Oh? Well-would you like some coffee?"
"Well, sit down."
He put his hand into the side pocket of his coat and took a breath. The words he spoke sounded hollow as if they came from somewhere outside this moment.
"Marilyn," he said, "I've got a gun. I've come to rape you."
She stared at him in blank amazement, then smiled uncertainly, as though she wasn't sure she'd heard him properly.
"What did you say?"
"I said, I have a gun," he repeated. "Here in my pocket. And I've come here to force you to submit to me."
She stared at him another second, then she laughed. "Very funny," she said. "You're quite a joker. Now do you want some coffee? I just made it, it's fresh."
That's right, it's a joke, he thought. You can still back out. Tell her yes, it's a joke, and leave. "It's not a joke," he said. "I'm serious. I'm going to make you take off your clothes, and then I'm going to rape you. If you don't, I'll shoot you."
She still smiled, but with a little less certainty now. "Oh, cut it out, Stan," she said, trying to keep her voice light even though a trace of edginess had crept in. "You wouldn't know what to do with a gun if you did have one."
"It's right here in my pocket," he said. "Don't make me use it. Do what I tell you. You have no choice, do you understand?"
Something flickered in her dark eyes for just a moment, and was gone. "Let me see this gun," she said skeptically.
He took another breath. "All right." He pulled his hand out of his pocket and pointed his index finger at her. "Take off your clothes," he said.
She started to laugh, but midway the laugh be- came false and died out. His eyes bored into her. She looked away, avoiding him.
"All right, Stan," she said, sharply now. "The joke's over, okay?" She started to walk to the door. "You better be getting to work. I don't know what-"
"Stop!" he said sharply. She stood still, staring at him. He raised the finger higher, pointing it straight at her head. "Now," he said. "Stop stalling. Take off your clothes!"
It was beginning to get to her. He saw it in her eyes. She took a small step backward, swaying slightly. "Stan..."
"Take off you clothes or I'll shoot!"
She stood very still, her eyes wide, her lips parted, staring at him. Ten seconds passed. Twenty seconds. He stood there, waiting, watching it working inside of her. A pulse fluttered on the side of her neck. Her breasts rose and fell with her breathing. Thirty seconds. Forty-five.
Almost imperceptibly, her hands began to lift from her sides. With infinite slowness they rose, trembling. They came higher as if they were something detached from her. They hesitated over her breasts, then moved on, until they met at the top of her blouse. Her eyes never left his. They seemed hypnotized, almost glazed. He kept his eyes steady, the finger pointed at her head. Her hands opened the top button of her blouse, as if this were a signal, a small sound came from her. She moistened her lips reflexively. Her hand moved down to the next button, and opened it. Then to the next, and the next. When there were no more buttons she pulled the blouse open, slowly, tug- ging it out of her skirt, pulling it off and letting it drop to the floor.
She wore a white brassiere. His eyes dropped to the smooth, tanned skin beneath it. His heart beat faster. When he looked at her eyes again, he saw she was lost now. How right he had been!
He lowered his finger. "Keep going," he said.
Her hands went to her skirt. "Don't make me," she whispered.
"Take it off or I'll shoot."
She pushed the skirt downward, down over her hips, and let it fall to the floor. She had good legs, strong, the thighs heavily fleshed but shapely.
"The rest," he said.
Less slowly than at first, but still slowly, her hands moved behind her to open the brassiere. "You're making me," she breathed as she unhooked it. "You're making me do it." She slid the straps from her shoulders and let the bra fall. Her breasts were full and ripe and buoyant. The nipples were erect.
They hardened still further as his eye swept them in a hard gaze.
"That's right," he said. "I'm making you do it. And there's nothing you can do about it."
Her eyes closed for a moment, a horrific expres- sion on her face.
"Don't stop," he said. Her eyes opened again. Her hands went to her panties.
"You're forcing me," she whispered again, and pushed them down.
Now, naked, she stood before him, her full- fleshed beauty sending waves of desire through him.
"I'm going to fuck you now," he said. "Into the bedroom."
She turned and walked in front of him, out of the room, down a short hall and into the bedroom. He gestured to the bed. "Lie down."
She hesitated. "I-It's our bed. My husband's and mine."
"Good," he said. "Lie down or I'll kill you."
"Ohh." She went to the bed and lay down on her back, looking up at him. Swiftly he began to take off his clothes, his eyes never leaving the dark, volup- tuous body. When he was naked, he walked over to the bed and stood beside it. She was breathing rapidly. Her nipples were incredibly distended. He wanted to reach down and touch them, but he stopped himself.
"Spread your legs," he told her.
She obeyed instantly. He put his hand between them, directly on her cunt. She was moist, open. A moan came from her. He took his hand away and flung himself down on top of her.
He was inside her instantly, with one strong thrust, and in a moment was pounding away furiously. A series of deep, unearthly noises came out of her throat as he took her the way a rapist would, quick and hard and with no thought for anything but his own pleasure. He felt her arms around him, nails digging at his back. Her legs came up and locked around his waist. He felt himself drowning in the abundant sensuousness of her flesh. He drove harder; the inhuman, out-of-control noises she was making exciting him almost as much as her twisting, heaving body; until suddenly, without warning, it crashed over him and he was finished.
He rolled off her and lay drenched in sweat. For a long time there was no sound but their breathing.
Finally, in a low voice, she said, "You better go now."
He looked over at her. "Not yet," he said, putting a hand on her breast.
She brushed it away. "Don't," she said flatly.
"Oh, shut up," she said. "Shut up, for god's sake." She sat up in the bed beside him. She put her head in her hands. "How did you know you could do that?" she said then. He could hardly hear her. "How did you know you could just walk in here and... My god! It doesn't even make any sense." She looked at him now. "How the hell did you know?"
He shrugged. "I sensed it."
"You sensed it." She laughed sarcastically. "That's some sensor you got. I would never have believed it, myself."
"Why not?' she repeated incredulously. "What do you think I am, anyway? I'm not a whore. I've never done this before. I've never been with another man since I've been married. My god!" She crossed her arms over her breasts now, and drew her knees up, shielding the sight of her body from him. "Did you think I just fall into bed with any man who comes to the door? Is that what you sensed!"
"Of course not," he said. "If I had come in here and just made an ordinary pass at you, you would have smacked me down good. It wasn't just a man you wanted. You wanted to be forced. To be raped."
"You bastard!" she said.
He looked at her. Her eyes moved away. "Even if it was true," she said in a softer voice, "how could you tell!"
"It showed in the way you talked about that woman on Seventy-Seventh Street. It excited you. Oh, not that it was glaringly obvious or anything. But I just had a feeling. Then later, when I asked you about it, I was almost sure of it. You were attracted to the idea of being in that position being helpless, having somebody force you to submit..."
"Stop!" She bowed her head, resting her fore- head on her drawn-up knees. "Nobody knows about that," she said in a muffled tone. "Nobody. Not even my husband."
"Everybody has secret desires, I guess. Things they don't admit, even to themselves lots of times." He shrugged. "So I figured if I could make it come true for you, in a way..."
"I'd fall on my back like a damn nympho," she said with bitterness. "Well it sure worked, didn't it? That's very clever, Mr. Ericson."
He said nothing.
After a moment she raised her head and looked at him. "Alright," she said. "It's done, and I guess there's nothing I can do about it. So just get the hell out of here now and let's forget it ever happened, huh? God, if Larry ever found out about this, I'd just feel..." She shook her head slowly.
"How would you feel?"
Her eyes flashed. "Damn it, how do you think I'd feel? I'd be so ashamed, so mortified, I'd just..."
"Mmm." He was silent for a moment.
Then he said suddenly, "But he does know. He's been watching us."
She stared at him.
"Sure," he said. "He's sitting in that chair over there. I've got him tied up and gagged."
She was very still for a long moment.
"What are you doing?" she whispered.
"Well, I thought you knew." Watching her. "I overpowered him when I first came in here. I tied him to the chair so he could watch what we were doing."
She gazed at him, her eyes narrowing slightly. He looked back at her calmly. Then her eyes moved to the empty chair in the comer of the room. She took a long, deep breath.
He reached out and put a hand on her thigh. She trembled. "He's watching?' she breathed. "That's right." The hand moved on her leg. "He was watching all the time I was raping you." The fingers tightened on her flesh. "And he'll be watching what I'm going to make you do now."
He saw her catch her lower lip between her teeth. Then she released her breath with a long shuddering sigh. Her body relaxed seemed to soften. Slowly, she lowered her legs and lay down beside him.
He didn't move. After a moment she made a tiny sound in her throat and turned her body toward him. Her hand moved tentatively touched his hip.
"He's watching," she whispered, almost pleading- ly. "Larry's watching us."
"Oh god," she whimpered, and came to him, bury- ing her face in his chest.
He reached to stroke the dark, disheveled hair, then stopped himself.
He felt her breath against his skin, felt him- self stirring, hardening again. There was a pause, during which her breathing quickened, became loud in the quiet room. She was waiting for him to command her, but he said nothing. Then he heard the catch of her breath, felt her lips kissing at his chest. Her tongue came out, licked at his flesh. After a moment her head moved downward.
He watched as she kissed her way slowly down his body, degrading herself under the imaginary eyes of her husband, whimpering as she paid homage to his flesh with lips and tongue. Her hair brushed his stomach. His body was throbbing.
His hands clutched at the sheets on either side of him as her searching mouth moved lower.
Her lips buried in his dark tangle of pubic hair, her cheek touching the aching rigidity of his cock. She hesitated, trembling.
"Look, Larry," he said hoarsely. "Look what your wife is doing to me.
Look how she loves it!"
Her head lifted, her wild eyes going again to the chair in the corner.
Then with a moan of abandonment her mouth opened and she took him in, swallowing him. His body stiffened at the sudden moist embrace. Immediately she began to suck him, her lips clasping, her tongue swirling as her head moved up and down the length of his cock.
He gasped, his hips twisting under her face. Her head bobbed faster, muffled moans coming from her as she pleasured him toward the bursting point.
He let her continue until he felt his control going.
"Stop!" he said. "Stop, Marilyn!"
She raised her head one final, suctioning time, her lips releasing him reluctantly. She stared at him from her crouched position at the end of the bed, her full breasts heaving with her panting breath. She was a tawny, magnificent animal, trapped in the wilderness of her own desires.
"Get on top," he rasped. "I want him to watch you screwing me."
"Yes," she whispered. "Yes!" She crawled up over his legs until her hips were above his. She reached for his cock, lowering her body. "Watch me, Larry," she moaned, her eyes closing as she guided him into her.
They gave a simultaneous gasp as she slid down, her cunt contracting as if to capture him in its grasp. He raised his hips, pushing all the way up into her. With a loud groan, she began to move strongly, raising and lowering herself with wanton abandon, head thrown back, mouth wide and gasping. Her body was a taut bow, stomach thrust forward, breasts bouncing wildly, thighs working in a powerful rhythm as she lifted and plunged above him.
He took one of her hands in his and moved it between her legs, placing it at the spot where there crotches were joined. "Aaaaa," she moaned, and moved harder, her fingers caressing both herself and him as he moved in and out of her.
His own breath was loud in his ears. He raised his hands to her bobbing breasts, holding them, clasp- ing the spiked nipples between his fingers. Her body was twisting now as she pumped up and down, and the wild noises had begun again. He knew the end was near for both of them. He held on tightly to the yielding flesh, letting himself drown in the vortex of sen- sation. When he felt it upon them he pulled her down on top of him, his arms going around her, mashing the breasts against his chest. Their mouths crashed to- gether, tongues stabbing frantically as the spasms of climax shook them both.
They lay clinging to each other through the blissful, drained torments of recovery. She rested heavily atop him, her panting breath in his ear slowly returning to normal.
After a while she said in a dull voice, "Let me go."
He released her. She disengaged herself and pulled away, avoiding his eyes. At the edge of the bed, she stared at the floor. He said nothing.
Then she stood up. "Get out now," she said. "Just get out. Please."
She walked out of the room.
He got up slowly and got dressed.
When he came into the living room she was sit- ting in a chair. She had put on a robe and was just sitting there, looking straight ahead. When she saw him she got up and went to the door, opening it. He crossed the room to her and hesitated, not knowing what to say.
"Don't come back," she said.
She irritated him. What was she trying to prove? "You don't mean that," he said.
"I do mean it." But she didn't look at him. "Go. Please."
"I'm going. But I'll come back, Marilyn. Because you want me to."
He stepped through the doorway, but before she could close the door he said softly, "Maybe you'd like me to bring a couple of friends along next time. I bet you'd love a gang."
Her eyes met his suddenly, wide and startled. She said nothing, but her face told him the answer. A shiver went through her. Then she closed the door.