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The first time I saw Ellen Rothko was when I walked into Boyle’s Antiques on Clark Street, looking for old records. She was showing a woman some antique earrings, their heads bent over the display case, and when she heard me come in she looked up and caught my eye, shocked me with her beauty, and then lowered her face again, leaving me standing there gaping like an idiot.

She was simply one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen, with a model’s adolescent angularity coupled with a woman’s easy grace. She had a rich torrent of Tuscan-red hair, and her clear brown eyes were framed by green glasses, probably intended to make her look older, but instead just emphasizing her youth. Only the intelligence in her eyes kept her beauty from being too easy and gratuitous. That intelligence took the form of an open and almost confrontational curiosity, as if she wanted to know right away what I could do for her.

When I came to know her better, I realized that it wasn’t a look she gave to everyone. I was someone special from the start.

I was on my usual rounds of the antique and second-hand stores, looking for old records, and I’d expected to deal with Morty Boyle, a man I knew fairly well and didn’t much like—a greedy, avaricious dealer—so I was a bit surprised to find her there. I thought Morty must have hired some new help.

I walked in and made myself unobtrusive while she dealt with the woman, and when she was done, I looked up to find her regarding me with that look.

“Hi, is Morty here? I’m a friend of his.”

She shook her head. She was wearing a dove-gray sweater, and her glasses were on a neck chain, a charming touch, as if she were trying hard to look older than she was.

“Mr. Boyle? No, he’s not here anymore.”

“So he finally sold out, huh? He’d been talking about that for years. You’re the new owner?”

She nodded. “Me and my husband Eric. What can I do for you?”

I stuck out my hand. “I’m James Sawyer. I deal in old records, 78’s, 45’s, some LP’s, but generally the old stuff. The older, the better.”

“Ellen Rothko.” She took her glasses off and let them hang from the chain. I wondered if they were prescription or whether she just wore them for show. She took my hand and shook it.

I can’t say there was any sort of shock that went through our hands, but there was something totally captivating about her eyes, and she regarded me as if she were trying to place my face.

I felt the same way. She was half my age, but there was this distinct feeling of having met her before, as if we already knew each other. I wondered whether she might have been a student in one of the classes I taught, back when I was teaching at the city college. That had been about seven or eight years ago, and she looked to be about the right age.

That feeling of recognition lasted only a moment, but it left me strangely shaken. Nothing reminds me of my age like meeting a former student, now all grown up.

“Are you selling or buying, Mr. Sawyer?” she asked me. “Selling, I hope, because we really don’t have any records. We just did a thorough inventory.”

“Oh, buying, mostly. Morty used to take any old records he found and set them aside for me to go through. I know the market pretty well and pay top dollar. But if you get anyone looking for something special, you can let me know too. I can generally dig up most anything that’s still available, and I’ll split the profits with you. It’s the rare stuff I’m really looking for, though”

“Well we deal mostly in furniture and hard goods, and Eric takes care of the collectables. Here he is now.”

A young man came walking out of the back, wiping his hands on a rag. He was as handsome in his way as she was in hers, a perfect yuppie couple, but he had more of the predator in him, a sharpness and wariness. It didn’t surprise me. Those are qualities you need to make a living in this business, which can get very cutthroat.

When Ellen introduced us and told him I was looking for old records, he brightened.

“Records? I’m not into that myself. But I come across them at house sales and things like that. What are you looking for? How much are they worth?”

I kind of played it down. I didn’t want any competition. The vintage record business isn’t what it used to be. Most of the old 78’s have already been discovered, and my main business now was in old LP’s and 45’s, most of which I sold to Japanese collectors. Still, any fool could go online and find records that were fetching up to a thousand dollars a copy, and Eric was no fool. I could see him listening to my every word.

I knew what he was thinking. Vintage recordings is a specialty market, a business unto itself, and as with all collectables, you’ve either got to be an expert in the field or have an expert working with you if you ever want to make any money at it. Eric was thinking I could be his expert.

I didn’t mind. After all, that’s how I worked. I’d go into these old stores and shops and tell them what they had and appraise them, and if the stuff was really valuable, I could usually fix them up with interested buyer and we’d split the profits. I was always perfectly honest. I did it for love of the old music, not the money.

“What sort of music is it?” Ellen asked.

“Oh, I handle all sorts of stuff, but especially country blues, primitive stuff, music from the 20’s and 30’s. That’s my own personal weakness. Blind Lemon, Petey Wheatstraw, Son House, Robert Johnson. I also handle early jazz and jug band, hillbilly. Twenties pop. There’s a market for that stuff, if you know who to sell to.”

“So you collect yourself?” she asked.

I shrugged. I wasn’t about to tell them what my collection was worth. “Yeah, some. That’s how I got into it. I turned a hobby into a low-paying career, you might say.”

She smiled and combed her hair back from her face, a fetchingly vain, slightly flirtatious gesture. I wasn’t so old that I didn’t appreciate the move. For some reason, she liked me, and I responded.

There are three kinds of people in collectables: those who do it for love, those who do it for money, and those who do it because they can’t help it—the born collectors who have acquiring and dealing in their blood. Ellen was the first kind, Eric the last, with a good portion of the greedy part thrown in. He loved the money, but he loved the wheeling and dealing more. Everything was negotiable to him, and every transaction was some sort of deal, this for that.

As I said, I’m really only in it because of my love of the blues, and once the talk turned from the money to the music itself, Eric lost interest and drifted off. Ellen seemed in no hurry for me to leave, though. Business was slow and talking to her was easy. She was a rapt listener and already knew a lot about rural America in the twenties and thirties and the popular music of the time. She had an attitude and imagination like mine, and I could tell that for her, the past still lived.

We talked about Tin Pan Alley and the pop music explosion that occurred in the teens and twenties, about the piano roll business, the development of early jazz and race records. I hadn’t talked so much in ages and she hung on every word, and every so often I caught that look in her eye again, something deep and curious. Finally I had to go, afraid of overstaying my welcome and burning her out. She made me promise to come back and bring her some recordings. They already had some old record players capable of playing the old 78’s, and she wanted to hear the music for herself. She asked me to teach her.

I kept my word, and their shop became my second home. I struck a deal with Eric: I’d put a box or two of records in his store and we’d split the profits three ways. Any records he came up with that I priced, the same deal, cutting Ellen in on it too. It was an overly generous offer, but at the time I wasn’t really doing much business and I’m not much of a negotiator, so I let him set the terms. Besides, it gave me an excuse to hang around.

I didn’t think of it as love at first. I was a lot older than her, and if anything, our relationship seemed more like a father-daughter affair, even though I knew age didn’t matter to her. It was Eric who’d bring it up, subtly, without any rancor, but in a way that was supposed to remind us of our places. He knew something was going on, something he wasn’t a part of.

Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t been sure that Ellen felt the same way about me. We connected so easily, and on a level that seemed to go way beyond what she felt for Eric that I was sure she was aware of it. She took care of the books and the nuts and bolts of the business—the dreary stuff—and there were times when she’d be sharp with him. No matter how busy she was, though, whenever I came into the shop she just broke out in that sweet smile and told me to help myself to some coffee, that she’d only be a minute.

There was something amazing about listening to music with her. We seemed to hear the exact same things in the old blues we listened to. When we listened to Blind Lemon’s understated despair on “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” or Robert Johnson’s “Hellhound On My Trail,” she’d lower her face and fold her arms over her chest like she was cold, and I’d see the goose bumps rise on her skin. It was times like those when I just wanted to grab her in my arms, knowing she felt what I felt, knowing that someone else understood. She responded to the loneliness and emotion in these old recordings just as I did. She understood.

She became inextricably bound up in those records for me, and back in my apartment I’d lie on my sofa, deciding what I’d bring for her to listen to the next day, and trying to picture her reactions. I wasn’t trying to seduce her or lure her away from Eric, but I was trying to pick records that would say to her things I couldn’t say myself.

Maybe that was silly, but it wasn’t all a one-way infatuation. There were signs. It hardly matters what they were; they were there, and I saw them. They might have gone right by a younger man’s eyes, but I saw them. Whether I’d admit them or act on them, that was something else. I had fantasies, but that’s as far as it would go. I had dreams, I didn’t have plans.

In September as the weather cooled off, Eric began taking more frequent road trips in search of fresh stock for the store. That meant getting in the van and leaving town for days at a time, hitting the estate sales and auction houses out in the country beyond the reach of the day trippers from the city. I pretended to myself that it made no difference whether he was gone or not, but of course it was easy to see if the big Dodge van was parked out in front of the store on a weeknight, and I always knew if he were there or not.

I had to pretend I didn’t care, otherwise I’d have to face up to what I was doing, which was spending time with another man’s wife while he was away. I told myself it was nothing like that, that Ellen and I were just friends and associates, keeping each other company and sharing our interests. I’d stop by a half hour or so after the shop closed. If she was still there to let me in, fine. If not, then that was probably for the best too. I started carrying around a big stack of old 78’s and tapes in the trunk of my car, so I always had some excuse for stopping by. I’d fill a bag with stuff and pretend they were things I’d just bought and hadn’t had a chance to listen to yet.

“No blues tonight,” she said one evening as she opened the burglar gate to let me in. “I’m feeling bad enough as it is.”

“Oh? Are you sick? You want me to go?”

“No, no, not at all. I’m glad you’re here. I need some company. Eric’s in Ohio and I can’t stand another night alone. It’s just been a crappy day, that’s all.”

I couldn’t tell it from looking at her. She looked gorgeous. She had a collection of vintage clothing and often wore them in the store as a kind of joke, and tonight.was wearing a jade green dress, not authentic fin-de-siecle, but a modern interpretation, made of some jersey-like material that hung beautifully on her body. It had a bib front with white buttons all around it, and her breasts looked as soft and inviting as fleece pillows. She wore an antique butler’s bell-pull as a sash, wrapped twice around her waist and tied in front so that the elaborate tassels hung down between her legs. It gave her a slightly medieval look. The tassels swished erotically when she walked.

But there was something else about her too: a kind of carelessness or looseness. I knew she often had a glass of wine or two after closing time, and I wondered whether she might even be a little drunk.

I helped her close the burglar gates and lock up in front. She turned off the lights and we walked into the back of the store, where the cash register was. The drawer was open.

“I’m just balancing out. Why don’t you go in back? I’ll only be a second.”

“Bad sales today?” I asked.

“No, that’s not it. Actually business is great. I sold that Bavarian armoire and the depression bedroom set.”

The store had been an apartment some time long ago, and the back was cut into small rooms, the largest of which had been the kitchen, still with its sink and fridge. It was now stacked high with antiques and lampshades, boxes of hardware and other junk. Eric did some refinishing and restoration back here, and it was where the record player was. I was surprised to see a bottle of whisky standing on the old kitchen table, and a drink waiting next to it, the ice already mostly melted.

“What’s this?” I asked her when she walked in back with the day’s receipts. “You’re drinking whiskey now? And Jim Beam at that?”

She smiled wanly. “I thought you’d approve. Isn’t that what your blues guys used to drink?”

That was Ellen. Just like with the old clothes, she liked getting into the era.

“Yeah, I suppose so. But they use to do a lot of things back then. Like fighting and killing each other over women and gambling too.”

She smiled wanly. “Want some?”

I shrugged. “Sure.”

“Glasses above the sink. There’s ice in the fridge.”

I found a glass, poured some whiskey and took a gulp. With Jim Beam, you’d might as well gulp as sip; the results are the same anyhow. The whiskey burned, but standing under the bare work light in that crowded kitchen, it felt right. It reminded me of my youth.

“Eric’s out of town,” Ellen said casually. “He won’t be back till Friday.”

Usually she didn’t mention his whereabouts unless I asked, but I just nodded, as if it didn’t matter.

“He’s out looking for new stuff, huh?” I asked.

Ellen stopped dead with the glass half way to her lips and her eyes flashed at me, as if checking to see how I meant that remark. Assured of my innocence, she brought the glass to her lips.

“Yeah. I guess you could say that.” She took a big drink, as if she was taking medicine. Whiskey isn’t wine: she shuddered as it burned its way down.

I let it pass, and decided to change the subject. I gestured at the bottle. “So what’s the occasion?”

“Oh, every day’s a celebration around here, you know that. I just really felt like having some whiskey for a change. All those songs you play, you never hear them singing about Chardonnay, do you? And I like to set the right mood.”

She sat down in one of the big, overstuffed armchairs. “So what’d you bring tonight? Anything good?”

I was still a little wary of her. There was a bitterness in her I’d never seen before.

“I thought you said you didn’t want to hear any blues.”

“That’s not what I meant. I don’t want to hear any heartbreak blues, nothing about leaving and cheating, about people being shitty to each other. You’ve got other stuff, don’t you?”

“Yeah. I’ve got other stuff.”

“Then good.”

The room was crowded, and there was a box on my usual chair, so I perched on the old kitchen table under the bare light with the green shade.

“Ellen, are you maybe a little drunk?”

She raised her finger in warning. “One thing, James. Promise me. Okay?”

“Okay. What?”

“Don’t ask me what’s wrong tonight, okay? Just don’t ask. And if I try to tell you, tell me to shut up.”

She was serious. She was more than serious. She was hurt.

“Okay,” I said. “I didn’t mean to pry.”

Her eyes softened, seeing she’d hurt me. “It’s okay,” she said with a sigh. She unscrewed the bottle and poured another splash into her glass. “As for your question: No, I’m not drunk. But we can get drunk together if you like. Want to get drunk with me?”

“I don’t know if Eric would approve,” I said.

It was a joke, but apparently the wrong one. I saw the brief flash of lightning in her eyes.

“Well fuck him, then,” she said with exaggerated sweetness. She took a quick sip and made the same sour face. I didn’t know whether it was for Eric or for the whiskey.

“I don’t really want to get drunk anyhow,” she said, setting the glass down on the table. “I just wanted you to think I was.”

I looked at her in confusion, and she waved her hand dismissively. “Don’t mind me. Go ahead and put something on.”

I’d brought a shopping bag with me, and I dug through it till I found some old jazz. Ellen liked old jazz. The old stuff had a wicked, primitive kind of nasty sensuality that appealed to her. I put the record on and lowered the needle. As the music started to play, I went to the fridge where they kept their juice and water. I found a can of diet ginger ale and poured it into her whiskey.

“Try that. That’s what we used to give the girls in college to get them loaded.”

Ellen tasted it and raised her eyebrows in approval. “You really didn’t do things like that in college, did you, James?”

“How would you know?”

“Because you’re too decent. You’re the most decent person I know.”

I laughed, but she wounded me. She was right, but I didn’t see it as a positive. To me it often felt like cowardice, and I wasn’t proud of it. I would have been making a better living if I hadn’t been so decent.

We listened to the record in silence, and when it stopped I saw that Ellen had finished her drink and was mixing another.

I got down and turned the record over. It was the Mississippi Sheiks, and this side was “K.C. Moan”, a railroad song about losing your woman on a Kansas-bound train. Because it was about a woman leaving, I didn’t think she’d mind.

“Were you ever on a train, James? A real train, I mean, with an engine and whistle, where you sleep overnight.”

I nodded.

“What’s it like? Is it as romantic as it seems?”

“Yeah. It really was beautiful. They’re great to sleep on. The train keeps rocking back and forth like a cradle, and the wheels click over the tracks in a way that’s really hypnotizing. We were going down to Florida, and I was just a kid. When we got into bed I just lay there for hours staring out the window and watching the night go by, the little houses with their lights, the farms, the railroad crossings with the lights flashing.”

“Would you take me on a train like that sometime? I’d love to see it.”

“I’d love to take you. But I don’t think they have trains like that anymore. It’s all airplanes now.”

I realized the song had ended and Ellen was looking at me. The needle hissed as it ran in useless circles in the groove.

“You’re so amazing,” she said. “I wish I’d been one of those girls you gave whiskey to in college.”

I laughed. “I do too, Ellen.”

She got up and walked over to me, put her drink down on the table and took my face in her hands. I just had time to look into her eyes and then she raised her face and kissed me, a soft, lingering kiss, achingly tender, going on forever. When it stopped, our lips clung together, as if reluctant to part.

She opened her eyes and looked at my lips, as if she would see a mark there. “That’s how I would have kissed you,” she said. “Would that have been all right?”

I looked into her eyes and knew what she wanted, and I was frightened. I took her hand and moved it away from my face.

“Ellen, don’t.”

“Why not?” she whispered. “Everyone else does it. Everyone.”

I shook my head, trying to convince myself that she was wrong, that the whole idea was wrong. I didn’t know whether it was decency or fear, but I knew it was wrong, and I wanted her to kiss me again and make it so I didn’t care.

“If you were younger? Is that it? Because that doesn’t matter at all, you know that. I’m all grown up, James. I know what I’m doing.”

“No. Of course not. That’s not it.” I said it as if I knew what I was talking about.

“Then what? You certainly don’t owe him any loyalty. He doesn’t deserve it.”

She was still standing close to me, close enough to kiss, her thighs resting on the edge of the table between my knees. She gently took her wrist from my hand and lowered her hands, laying her warm palms on the tops of my thighs and squeezing softly. I was already semi-erect from her kiss, and now this.

“You’re so much better than he’ll ever be,” she said. “The way you feel things, the things you say. It’s not fair that people like him get everything. We deserve something too.”

For once I had nothing to tell her. Her hands were on the tops of my thighs, slowly caressing them, her thumbs sliding along the insides. Her full breasts were hanging like ripe fruit behind that exquisite dress, just waiting to be plucked, and her mouth, her face, her whole body was leaning towards me, aching to be kissed.

Like night over day my lips came down on hers. There was a brief moment of electrical contact as we touched, and then I felt as though I left some dark and heavy world behind and I seemed to soar into space with her. She melted into me as we kissed, her mouth going soft and passive, expectant and pleading. It was that melting, that total loss of resistance that did it. In an instant it seemed like she’d become part of me, and then we were kissing hungrily, aware of nothing else.

“The light,” I said, breaking away to gasp for breath. “Someone might see.”

The windows behind us were covered with burglar bars with boxes stacked in front of them, but still I worried. Ellen reached up and switched off the light, so that only the barest illumination remained, seeping in from the front of the store and from the lighted face of the record player. She took my hand and put it on her breast.

It was soft, and heavy, and the thought struck me that she wasn’t wearing a bra. I could feel the weight and the yielding warmth right through the fabric of her dress, and then all rational thought stopped as she raised her arms and put them around my neck, entrusting her breasts to my hands as her lips sought mine out again.

I broke off the kiss. “Get the record,” I said. It was still spinning on the turntable, hissing in the groove. It didn’t matter, but I was nervous and stalling for time.

She took the needle off, and then came back to me like a bride comes to her husband, and this time I just lost it. She wanted me, and that was more than I could resist, more than I could stand. I grabbed her arms and pulled her to me, shoved my tongue into her welcoming mouth and kissed her deep, tasting the intoxicating trace of the whiskey on her breath. Her nails scratched at my thighs. She bit my lip and pressed her hand against my cock.

“Oh Christ, Ellen! We shouldn’t do this! We can’t!”

“God, you’re so hard!” she gasped, shuddering in my embrace. “You poor man. So hard.”

My head spun in a total confusion of emotions. So many times she’d felt like a daughter to me, and I like her father, and now all that was collapsing, being swept away by our need. It felt incestuous and wrong, and that only excited me more.

“Ellen, no…”

“Shhh…” She leaned her forehead against mine and looked down, her fingers searching for the zipper on my jeans. The feel of her hands on me was maddening.

“Open my dress, James. The buttons on top. I want to feel your hands on me.”

I moaned, unable to speak. I fumbled with the buttons until Ellen had to help me. Some of the buttons were decorative, and some of them were real, and I was in no shape to figure out which was which. She got me started, watching my eyes as she exposed her chest to me, then letting me take over, enjoying my feverish clumsiness. I had to ignore her hands pulling my zipper down and reaching into my pants, trying to free my aching cock from my shorts.

I knew I had to stop her. I’d just see her breasts, let her grab my dick, and then we’d stop. We’d realize how wrong this was and stop, laugh nervously, and never mention it again. But by now her dress was open enough for me to draw it apart and see her naked breasts, full and erect and aching to be touched, her exquisite nipples already standing up in eagerness for my lips.

I got the rest of the buttons open. I peeled the top of her dress down over her shoulders and dove at her breasts, kissing, sucking, on fire for her. Ellen let her head roll back and hissed with pleasure, shocking me with her wantonness. I was hers now and she knew it, without the strength to resist her. The gift of herself had done it. Her hand left what it was doing at my cock and came up to press my head against her yielding tits, basking in her victory.

“Oh God, yes!” she moaned, shuddering deliciously as I squeezed and sucked. “It has been a long time for you, hasn’t it, baby? You’re on fire. You shouldn’t have to suffer like this, James. You deserve better. You deserve so much more.”

I couldn’t answer. I slid off the table in order to get my head lower so I could suck her tits into my mouth, and that eased the tension on my pants enough so that Ellen was at last able to pull my naked cock out through my fly, free of my shorts, painfully erect. I felt the weird and salacious sensation of the cool air hitting my naked shaft, and then she took me in her hand and started to stroke me.

“Oh Christ, Ellen!” I gasped. “We shouldn’t be doing this. We shouldn’t. But, God, I can’t help myself. I just can’t!”

I smothered whatever else I was going to say with her naked flesh, sucking her nipple into my mouth and lashing it with my tongue as she gasped and groaned and pressed herself against my lips. Her hand started to work on me now, and then her other hand, both hands holding my prick and pumping it up and down.

“God you’re so hard!” she gasped. “Do you always get so hard? It’s for me, isn’t it, baby? Tell me it’s for me. You feel the same way I do, don’t you James?”

It had been a long, long time since I’d done anything like this, masturbation being my only release, and the feel of Ellen’s soft, sweet hands on my swollen prick was almost too much to endure. Her touch made me frantic, and the sight of that exquisite face suffused with lust was more than I could stand. I pulled her against me and kissed her feverishly, and all the time her hands never stopped pumping.

“Let me get my clothes off,” she gasped. “I want you to fuck me, baby. I want to feel your cock in me, James.”

“No!” I said, gritting my teeth. “No! We can’t, Ellen. That’s too much. We just can’t.”

She could tell I was serious, and she didn’t argue. In truth I was almost panicked. I was totally losing control of myself and I was afraid of what I might do.

“All right. All right, baby,” she said breathlessly as she kissed my face. “Let me bring you off this way, okay? Just with my hand? Is that okay?”

“Yes,” I gasped. “Just like that. Just do what you’re doing.”

Ellen moaned with pleasure and reached up and bit my lip, teasing it with her teeth, then let me go and said. “Suck my tits, James. My nipples. That drives me wild. Please, baby.”

I lowered my head while she frigged my cock, and we stood there in the shadowy room like that, our moans and gasps mingling in the darkness. She had gorgeous tits, big and firm and alive, with exquisitely sensitive nipples set way up high, and she was right: it did drive her wild when I sucked and bit down on them. She would gasp, grip my cock hard and pump me faster.

It was obscene. It would have been degrading if we both hadn’t been so oblivious. I was so much older than she, a big, powerful man, standing there and nursing at her tits and groaning like a child while she beat me off—the most basic and juvenile act of sex there is—as if I were no more than a love-sick adolescent in the back seat of a car.

Maybe it was the role reversal that made it seem so perverse and forbidden, but I loved the way I was so helpless in her hands. It drove me wild, and I started sucking and even biting her breasts as she hissed with savage pleasure.

“Careful! Careful! No marks!” she cried. She was panting with excitement, but her hand never stopped.

I backed off. I was losing control. Her hands were pumping at me, working at me, and the end of my dick was streaming with juice, the pressure in my cock was unbearable. My balls had worked their way out of my fly and swung back and forth as she beat me off, potent and heavy.

“Give it to me, baby!” she whispered in my ear. “Come for me, James. Just let it go. Don’t fight it. You know you want it. I want it too. I want this for you. Please, baby, please!”

I couldn’t stand up any longer. I had to lean against the table, my hands on her shoulders for support. I pulled her close, buried my face in her neck like a child as she reached up and caressed the back of my neck, as of comforting me in my anguish And still her other hand never stopped, sliding the skin up and down my steely shaft as if she were some sort of milking machine.

I felt the spasms start, the ineluctable slide towards orgasm. I cried out, a cry for mercy, a cry of alarm at my body’s own betrayal.

“Oh fuck, Ellen! I’m going to come! You’re going to make me come!”

“Yes!” she said joyously. “Yes, baby! Do it for me. Come for me, James!” She tightened her grip and increased her speed, baring her teeth as she felt my cock trembling in her hand, twitching with the first few, priming spasms.

“Aghhh!” I threw my head back and roared, punched my hips forward and exploded in a stream of scalding semen, jerking helplessly in her hand. Ellen held my cock up and moved aside so she could see the great gouts of come arc from my cock and shoot through the air, landing on the floor some feet away, their distance a measure of the force of my release, and each spurt accompanied by a savage spasm and a harsh groan from deep in my chest.

My body shook and shuddered as Ellen milked me insistently for all I had, humming and sighing to herself with approval.

At last I had to make her stop. I couldn’t stand it anymore. She let go of me and backed away, just looking at me with her breasts heaving, then went into the other room and came back with some tissues, and cleaned us off, taking special care to wipe my come off the floor.

I stood there holding her for a long time, neither of us speaking. I felt like I had so much to say, but I didn’t know where to start, and at last I just said, “I’d better go.”

Ellen nodded, eyes down. I knew she had things to say too, but the whole situation was too shocking, too fragile for words. She buttoned up her dress and saw me to the back door, unlocked the locks and opened it.

Maybe I should have kissed her, but I was afraid now. What if she refused, or—worse— what if she threw herself at me? I said goodnight and she said goodnight. I didn’t even take the bag of records with me.

I went back to the shop, of course. To stay away would have been too suspicious; an admission that we’d done something wrong. By tacit agreement we didn’t speak of it, not aloud, but it was there. I saw it in her eyes, in the way her touch lingered, in the silly awkwardness when we were alone, like two embarrassed adolescents. I avoided going back there at night after closing, though, and Ellen seemed to accept that. We both needed time to think.

I didn’t know what to do. I wanted her desperately at this point, but I could hardly ask her to leave her husband for me, nor could I even suggest some sort of clandestine affair, which would have been even worse. I had to leave it in her hands. Hers and Eric’s.

I don’t think Eric knew, but maybe he did. Maybe she told him what had happened, using me as a weapon in one of their spats, because who knows what goes on between two people locked in a troubled relationship? It seemed to me that his attitude towards me changed, but not in the way I’d expected. If anything, he seemed friendlier and more indulgent, intentionally throwing Ellen and me together and referring to us as “you two”. Maybe he knew and was just as capable of using me against Ellen as she was in using me against him.

All I knew is how it affected me, and that was totally unexpected. Suddenly I was seized by the urge to get to work, to throw myself into my collecting and trading, to start wheeling and dealing as ruthlessly as Eric and resume the hunt for rare discs, a search I’d given up years ago as no longer worthwhile. I didn’t really think I could somehow buy her from Eric, but I instinctively knew I needed something with which to deal. I needed to find something he wanted.

I began hitting the garage sales, the flea markets, getting up at three or four in the morning to get there at first light. I started canvassing the old, black middle class neighborhoods where I’d had success some years before in finding old 78’s, going door to door and handing out cards, offering top dollar for old records.

On a bright Sunday October afternoon I came into their shop at a casually late hour and took a black-labeled Vocalian record from my briefcase and slid it under Eric’s nose.

“What’s this?”

“A lost recording of Robert Johnson doing ‘Hell-bound Train’.”

Eric slid the record from its sleeve and held it to the light to see how badly it was scratched.

“The only one in existence,” I added.

That got him. He eased the record back into its jacket and looked at me to see if I was serious. Ellen came over and looked down at the record in shock. Unlike Eric, she knew what it meant.

“Oh, James!” she said breathlessly. “Are you serious? Oh my God!”

Eric looked at her, then at me. “What’s it worth?”

“There’s no telling.” I said. “Ten thousand, maybe twenty, maybe more.”

“Jesus! Where’d you get it?”

That last question was always meant to be rhetorical amongst collectors. No one ever told.

Eric looked up at me, a bit nervously now. “You shouldn’t be carrying this thing around. You want me to put it in the safe?”

“I’m giving it to you,” I said. “I mean, I’m splitting it with you. Same deal as always. A third for each of us.”

He put the record down and looked at me. He didn’t think much of my business sense, but even this was hard to accept. He knew damned well I didn’t have to cut him in on anything. There was nothing in our agreement to keep me from selling the record myself and keeping it all. I didn’t owe him a thing.

“I know four collectors who’ll be willing to bid against each other for this. Plus there are the reissue rights. I haven’t contacted any record labels yet about that. I’ll leave that all to you, and in return we split it three ways, just like we’ve always done. Partners, right?”

All that stuff was just busy work designed to make Eric feel like he was doing something to earn his money. He knew as well as I did that I was just giving him several thousand dollars.

Ellen knew it too.

There was a moment when we all three stood there, Eric and I looking at each other, and Ellen looking at the both of us, each of us calculating the terms of the deal in our heads.

“Who is this guy, Robert Johnson?” Eric asked.

I couldn’t believe he didn’t know. I thought everyone knew.

Ellen spoke up. “He’s a great legendary blues guy. Maybe the greatest ever, but no one knows much about him but legends. He’s the one who supposedly made a deal with the devil at a crossroads one night—his soul in return for the ability to play the guitar like no one else.”

Eric smiled. He understood deals.

“He made 29 recordings in the thirties, and that’s all,” I said, “There’ve always been rumors that he made one or two more that were lost, but no one could ever track them down. Not until now.”

“And this is it?” Eric’s eyes got that gleam in them. “Jesus!”

Ellen didn’t tell him the rest of the story, how Johnson died. A hard-core womanizer, he was murdered one night by a jealous husband who put poison in his whiskey. Strychnine, that was the rumor. He died in agony, and they said it was because he could see the devil standing at the foot of his bed, waiting to collect.

Eric laughed. He picked up the record and shook his head and laughed again. “I’ll be damned,” he said. “I’ll be God damned. And you’re splitting it? Jesus. Let me go get a Mylar bag for this. You shouldn’t be carrying it around like this.”

When he left, Ellen gave me a look that asked me if I knew what I was doing, and for the first time since that night I looked back at her and met her eyes. I wasn’t being decent James anymore. I looked at her in a way that told her what I expected in return.

Eric walked back into the room and his smile had taken on that predatory edge again.

“Come on, you two. Let’s close up early. I want to put this in the safe at home, and then we’re going out. We’re going to celebrate. Ten thousand dollars! God damn!”

We all went home and changed, and I broke out the suit I hadn’t worn in almost a year. We met at La Tour, a beautiful and expensive French restaurant on the Near North Side where we were lucky to get reservations. Ellen was gorgeous in her little black dress and for the first time in as long as I could remember, there was no friction between them. It was as if something important had been decided to both of their satisfaction, and the mood was expansive, even joyous. Eric fought me for the check, but considering what I’d just given him, I had no scruples about letting him pay.

We had coffee. We had brandy and cigars, and when I finally rose to say goodnight, Eric stopped me.

“You can’t go now,” he said “You’re coming over to our place. Don’t you want to hear it?”

“You’re going to play it? Tonight”

He nodded. “Why not. I’m dying to hear it. Besides, it’s too early for us to break up. This is a very special night.”

I sat up. Ellen was looking at me expectantly, but there was something else in her eyes too, a kind of openly seductive look that surprised me. I’d never seen anything like that.

“This is probably the biggest find you’ll ever make,” Eric went on, and he was right. He picked up his wine glass and said, “To us!”

We all drank to that.

I should have known something was up. Ellen took both our arms as we walked to the car, holding us close, and when we got to their apartment and Eric went off to get drinks, she told me where to sit. She sat down on the sofa, right across from me, knees together, looking at me with that knowing look, not saying a word.

“Are we ready?” Eric came back in and handed out the drinks, then put the record on.

He turned off the lights so that the only illumination was from the bridge lamp at the end of the sofa. The needle scratched in the groove, and sounds that hadn’t been heard in 80 years filled the room.

Johnson’s playing was primitive and haunted as usual, his voice a plaintive wail at the very top of his register. His slide work was dark and rough on the old lacquer disk, but sounded as modern as anything you might hear today; not a note wasted, as if he’d paid for every one with his own blood. The music carried me away and wrapped me in its own world, and the only light I saw was the loght in Ellen’s eyes, which were looking straight into mine across the gulf in time, across the steamy loneliness of that West Texas night in 1937.

The song ended abruptly, as so many early recordings did, and then there was just the hiss of the needle in the groove and Ellen’s eyes locked on mine.

Eric got up and turned off the stereo and turntable, put the record back in its sleeve and came back and sat beside Ellen.

No one spoke. I didn’t know what to say. The feelings of loneliness and hunger evoked from Johnson’s voice and guitar were too much with me, and I hardly noticed when Eric put his arm around Ellen in a husbandly gesture. He sat like that for a while, then leaned over and took her in a deep, passionate kiss; not the kind of kiss you see in public.

I sat there in shock, trying not to stare at them. Ellen didn’t seem to take part, but she made no special attempt to get away either. Her hand rested lightly on Eric’s shoulder, her head was back, and in the silence of the record’s ending, it was almost like I could hear their tongues against each other. It was a terribly awkward feeling.

Eric broke the kiss and pressed his lips to her throat while his hand went to her knee and began to slide up her leg. Ellen made no move to stop him.

“I think I’d better get going, then,” I said.

“No, stay,” Eric replied. “We’re all friends here, and we’re celebrating, right? This isn’t anything you haven’t seen before, is it? An old cocksman like you?”

I cleared my throat nervously. “Still, two’s company and three’s a crowd…”

“Stay!” He barked the word out impatiently, then caught himself and grinned at me. “Please.”

I wasn’t used to being ordered around, but he caught me by surprise. Besides, the sorry truth was that watching him with Ellen was arousing in a perverse and morbid kind of way. It hurt, but it was exciting too, and I was curious as to just what was going on.

He kissed her again, and then his head slid down so that he was kissing her neck. His hand went to her breast, and he began openly caressing it, crushing the fabric in his hand right before my eyes. I felt the vicarious sensation from when I had held that very same breast, and still Ellen sat there, one hand lazily on his shoulder, the other on the sofa at her side. She was looking straight at me again, peering over Eric’s shoulder, as if to see how I was taking it.

“She’s beautiful, isn’t she?” Eric said. “Perfect body too. Want to see?”

“Eric…” Ellen objected, but he wasn’t listening. The little black dress she wore had no buttons. It wrapped around her and was held closed by a black sash, and despite her protest she sat there unmoving as Eric untied it and pulled the top open, exposing her naked breasts. She wasn’t wearing a bra.

“Listen, I’ve really got to go,” I said.

Eric looked over his shoulder at me. “That would be such a shame, Jimmy. I thought this was going to be a celebration, a special night.”

He turned back to her and started kissing her tits. “She’s crazy about you, you know,” he said. Ellen closed her eyes, whether in pleasure or embarrassment, I couldn’t tell. “I could see it from the start, and I’m not especially good at reading people, so you must know it too. We’re all partners now. I thought we might make a night of it.”

“Okay, that’s enough.” I stood up but he didn’t stop.

He reached his head down and caught one of her nipples between his lips and sucked on it, doing it nice and slow so I got a good view, then let it slip from his mouth. “Just the other day she called out your name while we were fucking, didn’t you, darling? I caught her on it. I told her if she wanted to pretend I was you, that was fine with me. Anything that would bring a little enthusiasm back to our lovemaking was okay with me.”

He looked up at me. “That’s when I first thought of us having a three-way. Don’t you think that’s a good idea? That way we each get what we want. And this little celebration is the perfect opportunity.”

I knew I should leave, but I didn’t. I stood there, knowing I was being had, knowing I was being used in some sort of game, but powerless to leave. Eric lowered his mouth to her nipple again and Ellen arched in pleasure, a little hiss escaping her lips. I might have left then, but when I looked at her she was gazing back at me over his shoulder, and the look in her eye said that I was the one she wanted. Eric might be kissing and fondling her, but Ellen’s eyes said she wanted me to be doing it. She patted the seat next to her, showing where she wanted me to sit.

That look from her just shocked me so much that I sat right back down in my chair. I knew what Eric was doing now. He might not know what happened between Ellen and me, but he knew about our feelings for each other, and he was going to use them in this perfect, three-way deal. He’d give me Ellen in return for the record; at the same time he’d shame me with my desire for another man’s wife. He’d prove to Ellen that she was a slut, and prove to me that she wasn’t worth loving, and all under the guise of an innocent little sexual threesome.

And what made it all so galling was that he was right. The more he caressed and fondled her, the more aroused I got. Her eyes never left my face, even as she arched her back and rolled her breasts against his sucking mouth, or opened her legs to let his hand inside. She was into it. She was getting aroused, showing me what she had to offer, how she could be good for me. I couldn’t believe how much I wanted her.

The record was forgotten. That hell bound train had left the station leaving us three behind, and Eric caught Ellen in a deep and passionate kiss, his hand working under her short dress as her legs first parted, then closed hard on his hand, and even though he was kissing her, her eyes were on me, begging me to join them.

She broke the kiss and looked away, just as Eric got his hands under her knees and pressed her legs up against her chest, so that I got a perfect view of her swollen pussy pressed between her thighs, barely shaded by her transparent panties. Her eyes blazed, knowing I had seen, and it was as if after all these months of being together and our session in the backroom, she now at last wanted to show me all of herself, and show me what she really wanted from me. I’ve seen my share of female genitals, but the sight of Ellen’s pussy bulging against her sheer panties with Eric leaning over her struck me with terrific erotic force, more than even her sheer nakedness could have. Under her clothes she was naked for me, and she was waiting—had been waiting all this time.

He kept her legs pushed up against her breasts and her sex exposed as he kissed his way down her body, sliding down till he was kneeling on the floor. Ellen twisted her body as he sank down on her, finally throwing one bare leg over his back and grabbing his hair. She knew full well where he was going and what he was going to do, and she was eager for him to get on with it. Her dress was short, and Eric pushed it up over her stomach with both hands as he grabbed her ass and raised it off the sofa. The panties I had just glimpsed before were now fully on display as Ellen raised her hips and opened her thighs for Eric’s mouth.

I sat there, horrified and aroused. It was all show for my benefit. I knew that, and if I had any doubts I only had to look at Ellen, slumped back against the couch with the top of her dress open and her breasts exposed. Her face had taken on a lewd and wanton look, and her eyes were smoldering as she stared straight at me. She let me see all the lust and desire in her face as Eric pulled the crotch of her panties to the side and began to eat her and she responded by lifting her hips in a slow, obscene rhythm.

I suppose I should have been horrified seeing the woman I loved treated this way. I suppose I should have listened to my pride and stormed out, insulted. But that wasn’t my reaction at all. The sight of Ellen in such a state of lust, being pleasured by another man inflamed me.

I wanted her. It had been many years since I played the sexual athlete, but God, how I wanted her now! I’m not that prudish that seeing this slutty side of her put me off, nor am I gentleman enough that I wouldn’t take advantage of the situation to get my prick inside her and give life to all those futile dreams and fantasies. But I didn’t know if I could do it as part of a three-way. I didn’t know if I could do it in front of Eric and let him use me to humiliate myself and degrade his wife.

In the end I didn’t care. Ellen might be putting on a show for me, but her excitement was real. I could hear her moaning and see her fingers tighten in Eric’s hair as she fucked her pussy against his face.

“Come one, James,” Eric said over his shoulder to me. He kept his finger in her pussy, stirring it around and keeping her on the boil. “Or don’t you think you can handle this young stuff any more? She wants you, don’t you, darling?”

“Yes,” Ellen said. “Yes, I want him.”

The way she said it and the way she looked at me told me that we weren’t the only ones being used here. Eric was using us, but I knew then that we were using him too. She wanted to fuck me. She wanted it in a way he hadn’t imagined, not as some cheap roll in the hay, but as something more than that.

In my mind I heard the lyrics from the old Roosevelt Sykes classic, “Driving Wheel”, the joyous song of a woman with the right man, the man she was meant to be with. Love like a runaway freight train, like a driving wheel. Sex that’s more than sex, on a level Eric couldn’t imagine.

I got up and Ellen squealed with excitement and started sliding down the sofa, making room for me and pushing Eric along with her. I didn’t know what to do, so I just sat down on the couch at her head. This time she didn’t meet my eyes. She was lying on her side with her legs spread, her dress up and Eric’s head working at her pussy. Ellen’s fingers reached for my zipper and she pulled it down.

Her mouth was all liquid heat, sweet and deep, and the breath from her nostrils scorched my pubic hair as she sucked me, moaning in her throat. Somehow she got my belt and my pants open, and I raised my ass and between the both of us we managed to get my pants far enough down my legs so that she could take my balls in her hand and hold them as she bobbed her head up and down on my cock. I looked down at her face, at that beautiful, angelic face, now slobbering over my hard cock, and I forgot about Eric. I forgot about everything. I put my head back against the sofa and just gave myself over to the workings of her mouth.

If I’d had any doubts as to how she felt about me, her mouth totally dispelled them. You can tell when a woman does it because you want her to, and when she does it because she wants it herself, because she’s crazy for the feel of you in her mouth, and in this case it was definitely the latter. She didn’t just suck me, she loved me. She kissed me and licked me and shielded me with her hand, as if she didn’t want Eric to see, and she gripped my balls in her fingertips as if they were hers now, massaging me, getting the come ready for her greedy throat.

Seeing that innocent and exquisite face gorging on my cock, her nostrils flared, brows knitted in concentration, the saliva streaming out of the sides of her mouth, was almost more than I could take, and then glancing to the side, I saw Eric’s face slaving between her thighs, her hand knotted so tightly in his hair that her knuckles were white. He had her top leg pushed up so he could really get in there, and the sight of her shoe hanging from her foot as he ate her was almost too erotic to bear.

“Oh God, Ellen! No! No!” I was almost ready to come and had to get her mouth off me.

Eric heard me and judged the time was right. “Come on, James. Fuck her. She’s ready.”

“Christ, Eric! I can’t do this!” I pushed her away and stood up, feeling suddenly ridiculous with my pants around my thighs and my cock standing straight out.

He looked up at me, his lips smeared with her juice, his finger still in her pussy, pumping the first knuckle slowly in and out as if keeping her ready, as if she were a primed bitch ready for mounting.

“Don’t be a jerk!” he said. “She wants it. She’s dying for it, aren’t you, baby?”

Ellen pushed him away and sat up, and Eric grabbed her panties and pulled them off her legs. They got stuck on one of her shoes, and she reached down and unhooked them, then threw them aside. She turned herself around and lay back down so that her head was near Eric, pointing away from me.

She didn’t say anything, just stretched her arms out over her head, showing herself off to me. The dress was completely open now, showing off her naked body like a gem on a black velvet jeweler’s tray. Right in the center, below her tight little stomach, was her neatly trimmed puff of pubic hair, just as I’d always pictured it, and below that, the bright pink of her labia.

But it was her eyes that did it. Her eyes that said she wanted me, that she didn’t care about being on display, and she didn’t care about Eric, or her pride. She’d thrown them all away for just this moment. She squeezed her legs together as if she couldn’t stand it, stretched her body out and stared at me. I couldn’t resist.

I stood at the foot of the sofa and shucked off my jacket, pulled off my tie and threw it on the floor, and started unbuttoning the cuffs of my shirt. Eric scooted over and grabbed my tie, picked it up and took it back to his end of the couch, where he wrapped it around Ellen’s wrists, which were still thrust over her head.

It must have been some game that they played together or some sudden whim on Eric’s part, but the tie around her wrists was the last piece I needed to turn me into a sexual animal. She was like a sacrifice now, an entirely willing sexual victim, and Eric squatted at the end of the sofa holding her down for me like an evil priest, offering his wife to me, waiting to see me take her.

I knew he was using me. He was playing with me like a matador plays with a bull, but I was in no condition to resist anymore. I didn’t even bother to take my shirt off. I just tore it open so I could feel her tits against my chest. My pants and shorts were all bunched up right below my ass, but I didn’t pay any attention to that either. I clumsily got on the sofa as she opened her legs for me.

There was such a tangle of clothing and body parts that I don’t know how we did it, but I entered her effortlessly, the head of my cock sliding into the tight stricture of her sheath at the same moment she lifted her hips and impaled herself on me. She wailed with a cry of female pain and satisfaction, a cry that said I was everything she wanted, everything she’d been dying for.

I pushed hard, instinctively reaching for the depths within her. I felt the cold of my zipper trapped between us, pressing against her pussy, but I couldn’t bother with that. I was in her, bathing in her warmth, and Ellen spread her legs and pushed her body up against me in that maddening expression of female acceptance, that wild and possessive hunger.

For a long moment neither of us moved, shocked at what we’d done. The deed was complete, there was no going back, and now nothing would ever be the same. Eric didn’t know—he couldn’t have known—but my cock went into her and she pushed herself up on it and both of us knew that everything had changed forever.

Eric let go of the tie but Ellen kept her hands right where they were, stretched over her head, rapturous at playing the victim. As Eric stood up I caught sight of his expression, strangely smug and self-satisfied, then he came around to stand over us and watch as I began to fuck his wife, powerless to stop. My hips came back and pushed into her, pushed into her again, each time harder, barely hanging on to my control. There was no way he could have imagined what was going through our minds.

He was still dressed though, and so after watching us for a while, he walked over to the chair and started leisurely taking off his clothes. I took advantage of his absence to put my lips by her ear and whisper, “Ellen, I’m sorry. Forgive me.”

Her eyes showed no remorse, no need for an apology. They just glowed with sexual heat. “Don’t be,” she breathed so that only I could hear. “Just fuck me, James. I want it. I want you.”

I wanted to kiss her. I was dying to take her mouth and shove my tongue down her throat and suck the sweet breath out of her, but I knew that was the one thing I couldn’t do. As long as Eric was there, I couldn’t kiss her.

“Move up a little bit,” Eric said, coming back to the couch. “Give me room.”

He was naked from the waist down, hard and erect, and he knelt on the sofa, putting one knee on the cushion next to her head. He held her bound wrists in one hand, and steered his cock towards her mouth with the other.

I couldn’t watch. All sorts of weird things came into my head—rage and jealousy and even homosexual fear, male pride and disgust with myself for even taking part in this—but of course I couldn’t ignore it, and as Eric took her hair in his other hand and forced her face up towards his waving cock, I had to look.

I levered myself up on my arms, trying to get as far away from the scene of her degradation as I could. Ellen was passive. She sucked him, but not like she’d sucked me, not with that greedy hunger, and she was no longer content to be his prisoner either. She wrenched her wrists from his grasp, and quickly worked her way free from the tie. She used one hand to hold Eric’s prick and keep him at bay, and with the other she reached down and dug her nails into my ass, pulling me tight into her, showing me she wanted me there.

There was nothing I could do. I was the beggar at this banquet, and I couldn’t very well push him off his own wife, and to my shame I began to get into it, feeling as if it were my cock that was fucking her mouth too, my cock she was sucking. Her eyes were closed, her cheeks hollowed. Maybe she was trying to make him come as quickly as she could, or maybe she enjoyed it too, and why not? Her husband and her lover at the same time.

I started fucking her hard, squeezing her tits and wanting to hurt her, slamming into her so that she grunted obscenely with every thrust and my passion seemed to ignite hers. She managed to suck his cock while her hips bucked up at mine in perfect synchronicity, her pussy reaching up to take me in again and again. Eric’s face was intent, mad with lust, his eyes glued to her slaving lips as he combed her hair out of the way so he could watch every second of his wife’s degradation. He must have been more aroused than either of us, because he quickly reached the breaking point, gasping and panting, shoving her hips against her face and making her wail.

“Oh fuck! Oh fuck, you bitch! You filthy whore!”

He pulled his prick from her mouth and as Ellen tried to recover, he pumped himself once, twice, and began to ejaculate, holding her face still with his fingers tangled in her hair.

Ellen moaned. She tried to move her face but his grip was too tight, and as she gasped for breath he pumped stream after stream of white ejaculate over her lips and tongue, his cock jerking obscenely like a one-eyed monster. It was terrible. It was incendiary. His fury and his need to degrade her were obvious, and I got sick with myself for getting so aroused.

He let her go and staggered back, and Ellen immediately tried to wipe the come off her face with the back of her hand. Eric stood there in all his satisfied male glory, combing his hands through his hair, his chest heaving, looking at his wife’s defiled face as the last drops of come seeped from his cock. He gave one short, nervous laugh and sat down heavily in the chair behind him.

I’d stopped when he started to come, and now I hung motionless over her as she tried to wipe his cream from her lips and face. For the first time I saw her shame and felt her remorse and humiliation, and out of my own confusion of feelings, my heart went out to her.

Eric stood up. “Go ahead. Finish her. Get your nuts off. I’m going to go get a drink.”

He walked into the kitchen. My cock was still inside her, but neither of us was moving, then I felt her body shake with one great sob.

I probably should have stopped then. I should have just pulled out of her and cleaned myself off and gone on my way, ashamed and chagrined, just as Eric had planned, but I couldn’t leave her like that. I couldn’t forget the things she’d given me, or the things she’d made me feel. Things like that don’t lie. Not like their marriage lied.

Her face was to the side. She was trying to spit out his come, still wiping her mouth. I grabbed her wrists and stopped her. I took her face in my hand and turned it to me, forcing her to look at me, even as she tried to twist away. I held her like that and I kissed her. I kissed her hard and deep, my tongue plunging into her mouth even as she tried to block me with her own tongue, trying to hide her shame. I tasted her husband’s seed in her mouth and I wouldn’t let her get away. I made her kiss me, and I shoved my cock into her, and with a deep, shuddering sob, she threw her arms around my back and kissed me back.

We broke the kiss just as the kitchen door swung open and Eric came in, stark naked, a fresh drink in his hand. He sat down in the same chair. “Don’t let me bother you two,” he said. “You’re really something.”

I was torn between my self-consciousness and my incredible lust. I tried to ignore him. Ellen did too, but it was futile. It was impossible to go on under his steady gaze.

“You really are beautiful,” Eric said to Ellen. “I wish you would’ve fucked me like that, but I guess it’s never going to happen now, is it?”

Neither of us answered. We’d stopped now. I could feel myself starting to shrink, just as I noticed Eric growing until he was hard again. He must have found the sight of his wife with another man to be particularly arousing.

He got out of his chair. “Get up. Both of you. James, why don’t you get your clothes off and get comfortable? Ellen, you too. We don’t want to ruin your dress.”

He stood up and left the room.

I had no idea what he was up to, but going on under these conditions seemed pointless, so I did as he said, climbing off Ellen and standing up. The tide of lust that had been so ready to drown us both now receded, and I stood there feeling self-conscious and not a little ashamed. Ellen slid out of her dress, picked it up and folded it, then laid it on the coffee table. She sat back down on the sofa and tried to smile at me.

“Okay,” Eric said, coming back into the room with something in his hand. “James, sit on the sofa. My lovely wife, straddle him, cock inside. It used to be one of your favorite positions, darling. Back when we were still fucking.”

Ellen gave him a hateful look. This was still Eric’s show and we couldn’t just walk out. At least she couldn’t. I could have. I could have walked out of their lives right then and there, but I didn’t. Ellen had stood up and was fastening her hair on top of her head. It was warm in there, and I suppose she wanted her hair off her neck, and seeing that innocent and commonplace gesture performed by this woman about to fuck two men again made my balls suddenly tingle and my stomach grow tight. I didn’t know how she could be so calm, so dispassionate.

Ellen pushed me down on the sofa, right where Eric had indicated. Her face was absolutely calm as she put her knees on the cushions on either side of me, took hold of my resurrected prick, and adjusted herself over me.

I realized then that this would be her last time with Eric. She was paying him off, giving him his one last shot.

“I know what he wants,” she said to me. “He wants me to beg him not to, but I’m not going to. I’m not his possession. Stay with me, James. Will you stay with me?”

I wasn’t sure what was happening, but I said, “Whatever you want.”

“Yeah. Stay with her, James. You won’t want to miss this.”

She rose up on her knees and I groaned as she ran the head of my fully erect cock up and down her soaked crease, opening herself up for me, wetting me and getting me ready. Then she sunk down on me, gasping with pleasure, her hands on my shoulders.

I didn’t have to do anything. Ellen pushed herself down on top of me, enclosing me in her delicious heat. I let my head fall back with a groan of pleasure, and immediately felt her lips on mine, kissing, nipping, rubbing and sighing with salacious pleasure. Whatever prohibition we’d had against kissing in front of Eric was now gone, and as soon as I responded to her kiss, Ellen grabbed my hair in her hands and began kissing me ravenously.

“Agghhh!” Ellen suddenly tensed and rose up on my cock, but she kept her lips pressed against mine. I could see Eric kneeling behind her, and I realized what he was doing. He was greasing her up. The thing in his hand was a jar of lubricant, and now he was greasing her up, smearing it around her ass.

I started to get up. I couldn’t let him do this, but Ellen kept her mouth glued to mine and dug her nails into my shoulders in warning.

“Let him,” she whispered into my mouth. “I knew it would come to this. Just be there for me, James. Just hold me and let him do it. It’ll be just us two, like he’s not even there, and then it’ll be over.”

“Jesus, Ellen! How can you…?”

Eric spoke: “Better listen to her, James. She knows what she’s talking about. I don’t want much. I just want what’s mine. And so far she’s still mine.”

Ellen winced again, stifling a groan and pulling me tight against her so that her tits pressed hard against my chest, and I knew that Eric has shoved another finger into her ass and was twisting them around, stretching her. Her brows furrowed and she gasped as she tried to get used to him, but her entire body was tense, her hands shaking.

“Better now,” she gasped. “It’s better now. That’s the worst part. It’s better now.”

Eric got to his feet, stood close behind her and rested his knees against the edge of the couch, between my own spread legs. He had one hand on his cock, smearing lube on it, the other on Ellen’s shoulder.

“Slide forward,” he told me, and I did as he said. “Now open her up for me. Spread her cheeks.”

“Christ, Eric!”

“Do as he says, James.” Ellen leaned forward, holding on to the back edge of the sofa.

The crack of her ass was greasy, smeared with lubricant, and I had to wipe my hands on the sofa before I could get a grip on her buttocks. I spread her apart, wincing in agony as if I were the one about to be impaled, and Ellen took her weight off me, getting up on her knees and half-lying on my body. She slid her hands into my hair and held onto my head, her mouth right at my ear so I could hear her every breath as Eric got his prick in place and started pushing into her.

She yelped, her body jerking as if she’d been struck. “Ow! Slow, damn you! Slow!” she hissed over her shoulder.

My eyes went wide. I could see Eric’s face over her right shoulder, tense and furious with concentration as he pushed his greasy prick into her asshole. I felt chills. Ellen’s nipples were like diamonds against my chest.

Eric groaned, a wicked, predatory smile on his face. “Oh yeah. She’s good back here. Fucking tight!”

Ellen pressed her face into my shoulder and moaned, then raised her head and looked at me, her eyes cloudy with pain. “Kiss me!” she gasped. “Kiss me!”

She didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of hearing her groan. She wanted me to plug her mouth with mine, muffle any noise she might make as his big cock slithered up into her ass.

I kissed her. I put my hand on the back of her head, and held her face to mine, though it was hardlynecessary. She already had her hands full of my hair, and was holding my face against hers, kissing and lickong my mouth in an open-mouthed frenzy as her husband fucked her ass.

Eric tensed. I could feel the tightness in his body communicated through Ellen. He tensed again, and then it was my turn to cry out, because now I could feel Eric’s big tool sliding into her. I could feel it in the way it made her pussy tighten on my prick, and then I could feel that thick, muscular shaft directly, plowing into her insides, right through the wall of her canal.

“Oh Christ!” I moaned. “I can feel him!”

But if I could feel him, what must Ellen have been feeling? Her face was down now, her forehead pressed against mine, ass thrust out, my prick still firmly ensconced inside that tight, quivering sheath. She was panting like a woman in labor, mouth open, eyes clenched shut against the pain, but I knew the worst was over.

“There, baby,” she whispered hotly in my ear. “He’s in me. It’s over. It’s okay. I’m okay.”

Again that night my emotions felt ripped out of me, torn and shredded in wild confusion. I loved this woman. I knew that now, and I wanted to protect her, but what right did I have? What claim did I have on her? Stuck at the bottom of this obscene sandwich, with the weight of both their bodies on top of me, there was nothing I could do but sit there and witness what he was doing to her.

Ellen’s hair had come undone and hung down in big, unruly hanks. Her face was filmed with perspiration, her lips dry with pain, but slowly she lifted herself up, pushing herself off me with her hands on my shoulders. She pushed herself upright and looked back at Eric.

“Fuck me, you son of a bitch! I can take it now. Do it!”

Eric squatted behind her, his hands on her shoulders. His face was a dark mask of fury and revenge, and I felt him screw his dick around inside her. I could feel every move he made in the way Ellen’s pussy moved around me. I could feel the hard mass of his prick pressing against mine through the rubbery wall of her sheath. It was almost as if I were getting fucked too.

He began to pump into her, the head of his cock pushing against the bottom of my own shaft, and it was more than I could stand. I grabbed hold of her thighs and began to join him, fucking up into that tight pussy as Eric shoved into her ass. I didn’t want to hurt her, didn’t even want to be a party to this, but she just felt so good and so tight, and the sight of her being taken this way was just maddening. The woman I loved—a whore, a slut, taking two cocks at once.

Eric must have felt her acceptance and lack of resistance. He began to fuck her hard, growling and grunting with the effort as his belly slapped against her ass and he sent his big shaft sliding into her rectum. She collapsed over me, seeking my mouth, even as her body bucked and jerked with every savage thrust.

She kissed me feverishly, frantically, showing me with her mouth everything he was making her feel. His cock was sliding and pushing against mine through the walls of her vagina, and I could clearly feel his rage and anger in the way he fucked her, but she was right: it was as if we were alone, as if he weren’t even there, as if he were some sex toy or dildo plugged into her ass. He might have her body, he might be fucking her ass, but her feelings and emotions belonged only to me. She shared them only with me.

“Hold me, James! Hold me! He’s going to come! He’s getting ready to come!” Her words were breathless, clipped, gasped out of her slack lips, but I could look up at Eric’s face and see that she was right. His face was dark with suffused blood, furious, on the very edge of release.

“Ahh! Fuck!” he growled. “Fucking bitch! Take my come! Take me!”

Ellen squealed, rose up on her knees and pressed herself against me.

“Hold me, baby! Hold me!”

I felt him come. I felt that big, hard mass pressing against my own cock throb and jerk, felt Eric’s frantic thrusts into Ellen’s body, and I knew he was spitting his come into her ass. I pressed her mouth to mine and shoved my tongue into her as if I could taste him if I went deep enough. I held her with all my strength.

The throbbing stopped. I felt the pressure relent as he shrunk inside of her, and as he did, Ellen’s body started to relax as well.

Eric pulled out of her and got shakily to his feet. He looked down at us with something like contempt, then went to the chair and sat down.

I knew then that he was done. Whatever hold he’d had over her—whatever respect she’d felt for him—was over and done with. Ellen stayed pressed against me, her lips locked against mine. I felt Eric’s semen running down over my balls, still warm from her body, but Ellen didn’t even seem to notice it. She only had eyes for me.

She began to fuck me, moving her bruised and battered body over me, squeezing me inside and drawing me into her. It was all over now. All the deals had been made; all the debts had been paid. Now it was just her and me fucking, feverishly intent on sucking the joy from each other’s body.

I grabbed onto her ass and began to guide her up and down, faster and faster, making her ride me like a jockey in the home stretch. I began to fuck up into her with a strength I didn’t know I possessed, knocking the breath from her body and mashing her pussy flat in my frenzy of possession. Ellen held onto me for dear life, her arms wrapped around my head as if in danger of being thrown off, and soon I was pistoning up into her with terrible speed, my loins smacking against her with an obscene slapping sound.

“Oh fuck!” I shouted, not caring who heard. “I’m coming, Ellen! I’m coming!”

“Yes! Yes! Yes!” she screamed and then covered my mouth with hers, pressed herself against me as I exploded into her in a ripping, ferocious orgasm, conscious of nothing but Ellen’s body trembling on top of me.

When it was over, I was drained. All the anguish, the shame, the tension and fear—everything was just drained out of me. Ellen still lay on top of me, gasping for breath.

Eric stood up and said, “Fine. I guess you’ll want to go home with him then. Just leave me the keys to the shop.”

He offered us another drink, just to show us there were no hard feelings, but we declined. There was no point in staying.

It would be nice if Ellen and I had run away together and lived happily ever after, but life’s not that simple. She couldn’t leave the store, and a divorce would be expensive. She did go home with me that night, the first of many nights, and our romance turned into something beautiful—odd, but still beautiful.

We often talked about that night, and I asked her whether she’d known what was going to happen back at their place, whether she’d known about the three-way. Her answer was yes, she’d known. She’d agreed to it, in fact. She wasn’t comfortable cheating on her husband, but she had no qualms about cheating with him. She’s a remarkable woman.

She still goes into the store, and Eric remains a friend, or maybe associate is a better word. He’s taken to combing through the estate sales and flea markets for old records hunting for another big find, so I never had the heart to tell him that I’d had that Robert Johnson record in my possession from the start. That would only queer the deal.

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