Bromfield's Temptations Ch. 14bysealawyer©
Synopsis: The last chapter opened with Sandra telling Jim and Bette that Jeff had "come out," and given over to his homosexual instincts.
Jim and Bette have gone to a party at Satin Studios. Su Lin and Stick are there, as is Cynthia, Hollywood's "most famous madam" who is eager to obtain Bette for her stable of working girls. Feeling cornered, Jim decides to look around. He believes this is the moment of truth.
Chapter 14: Paying the Piper
I laid in that rumpled bed for a long time, trying to sort things out. First, I tried to make sense out of some of the things Cynthia had said. When she mentioned two girls, I had assumed, somehow, that she knew about Louise. But then she had referred to `the girl who gives head' I now realized she had been referring to Sandy. They thought Sandy was tricking for me.
There was also the question about where Cynthia had gotten her information. While it seemed likely it was Carol, I failed to see why she would have been so free with such sensitive information, unless the two were linked in some way: a prostitution ring perhaps, or possibly something more sinister.
I remembered Bucky's warning, and I felt a thrill of terror as I thought of Carmine and Richard. I had thought that by coming to the party, I would somehow force a showdown, but I had not seen either of them.
Now that I thought of it, except for his brief appearance as master of ceremonies, I had seen neither Steve nor Carol. Steve had not been much in evidence during my two previous visits; I knew now that he was indulging his voyeuristic impulses by taping various sexual activities, especially the group orgies, but Carol was usually around the party somewhere. I hadn't even seen her tonight.
Much as I hated to do it, I had to get out of the room and mingle. I knew that most people, by this time, would be naked and would probably be congregating around the bar in the kitchen. I began to get out of bed, but then I stopped. I was caught in an odd psychological dilemma.
I was comfortable enough with social nudism, but the thought of doing something dangerous without my pants protecting me seemed oddly preposterous. I suppose that was, in part, a throwback to the days when warriors protected their private parts with armor, and partly, because I knew there was nothing heroic about my pasty, pudgy, naked body. Therefore, from a psychological point of view, before I could even think about doing something brave, I needed at least the flimsy protection of a pair of pants.
And there lay my dilemma. Wearing trousers in that crowd would call unwanted and possibly dangerous attention to myself. I decided to compromise by wearing my briefs and loafers. Feeling very James Bondish, I folded my wallet over the waistband of my briefs in the small of my back.
Any other time, I would have joined the crowd in the kitchen, happy to pander to my voyeur's impulses, but now was not the time. Instead, feeling conspicious and ridiculously overdressed in my Jocky briefs, I slipped into the hall, hurried past the noisy crowd in the kitchen and entered the rec room.
As I stepped into the party room, I heard a woman moan and saw a couple on a mat in the corner. She was on her back, her legs flung wide and her arms wrapped around the neck of her lover. She was energetically rolling her pelvis to meet her partner's thrusts. I couldn't see her face, but as I heard her voice urging her stallion on to greater and more noble efforts, I realized I was watching Su Lin in action.
Remembering the wild sex we had enjoyed on our first encounter, I felt myself stir. When Su Lin put aside the commercial aspects of sex and concentrated on having a good time, she was capable of a spectacular performance. Even in my worried and confused state of mind, I hoped her performance was being observed by Steve or Carol. It would vindicate my judgment and might result in a break for her.
Then I smiled ruefully. What the hell was I thinking? There were no careers here, only mysterious, shadowy, and sinister characters who, quite frankly, scared the shit out of me!
I wandered down the hall toward the office. I don't know what I expected when I slowly opened the door, but the sight of Carol on her knees sucking Carmine was not high on the list. She was naked to the waist. Carmine, sitting on the couch, reached down, and absently tweaked her reddened nipples while watching the same TV monitor on the wall where I had seen his performance two weeks earlier. I tried to see what had Carmine so enthralled that he hadn't seen or heard me coming.
It was a top view of Su Lin and her stud. Then that angle faded, and another, more intimate shot of his penis pistoning in and out of her welcoming tunnel filled the screen. I remembered the elaborate recording setup in the office. Then, I had assumed that Steve or Carol, or both, were merely indulging a little harmless voyeurism. Now I realized they were acquiring stock footage; making movies, using unknowing and unpaid actors. The lawyer in me cringed at the awful civil liabilities they were incurring. However, remembering the several group orgy scenes in Louise and Phil's picture, I had to admire their ingenuity. Hiring that many extras could easily have made the picture's cost prohibitive.
I watched Carol for a moment. Her cheeks alternately ballooned and hollowed as she moved her head. Her right hand was wrapped nearly around his penis, which she was briskly stroking while she sucked. She didn't look happy, but Carmine seemed oblivious to her mood. His gaze never wavered from the action on the screen. I sensed this was payback time.
I had no sympathy for her. I was remembering what she had put me through in the past week. I quietly closed the door and retraced my steps to the kitchen to freshen the nearly empty glass I held.
The kitchen was empty. I wondered where the crowd was. I began by looking in the bedrooms, although I would have been surprised if people had separated this early. The rooms were empty.
I went back into the hall and peeked into the office where I had seen Carol and Carmine. They were gone, too, and the TV screen was blank
Jesus Christ, I thought, where is everyone? I went outside by the pool. Then I saw the lights on in the barn. Obviously, I was missing something. I started in that direction, and then stopped. What am I thinking? This was the perfect opportunity to do a little snooping.
I hurried back to the house. My heart was beating almost audibly, and I began to hyperventilate as though I had just run a 100-yard sprint. Nervous sweat felt cold and slick as it trickled down my ribs from my armpits when I opened the door to the office.
The light was still on. I decided to leave the door open so I could hear people coming back into the house. My first target was Steve's desk.
I had no idea what to look for. I opened the lap drawer. It contained the usual clutter of junk -- staple removers, paper clips, dry ballpoint pens, broken pencils and Post-it pads. Nothing there. Then I opened the top drawer in the pedestal. This was more like it. I found a couple of ledgers, some letters fastened together with rubber bands, and a sheaf of paper that looked like a movie script.
I had no time to examine anything. The second drawer was a file drawer. It was locked. There was no point in trying to force the lock. Stymied, I glanced around the room. Then I thought of the Purloined Letter, and my eye fell on an appointment book in the middle of the desk.
I picked it up. It was Carol's. I quickly leafed through it, and found two interesting phone numbers and one appointment. I grabbed a scrap of paper and was writing the numbers down when I heard Su Lin talking to someone in the hall.
I scrambled around the desk and peeked cautiously around the corner. Su Lin was talking to Steve, who was standing with his back to me. Su Lin saw me slip out the door and hurry down the hall. Whoever said whores don't have hearts of gold?
She saved my ass by keeping Steve distracted until I was safely outside the house, where I joined a group returning from the barn. The palms of my hands were still slick with sweat, and I was surprised they couldn't hear my heart pounding or smell the fear that was nearly making me nauseous.
I pretended a nonchalance I was far from feeling. One thing I now know. I don't begin to have what it takes to become a successful burglar.
I followed the crowd into the kitchen and poured myself a steadying jolt of bourbon. When I turned, Carol was standing behind me. She wore only an opened shirt.
"Why hi, Jim," she said in mock surprise. "Been busy already, I see." She glanced meaningfully at my shorts.
"We've got a new film I'd like you to see, Jim. When you have a moment, stop by the office."
"How about now?" I said. I assumed it would be the same film Carmine had watched minutes earlier.
"Fine." She led the way to the office. As shaken as I was, I still admired the way her naked ass cheeks undulated as she walked in front of me. Whatever else she lacked, it seemed she made up for in the way her hips and buttocks moved. It was very easy to fall in love with Carol's body.
It was also easy to fall out of love with her. Steve was sitting behind the desk when I walked into the office. I had eyes only for a frightened Su Lin cowering in a corner. Carol closed the door behind me. A chill ran down my spine.
"Sit down, Jim," Steve said in a cold voice, "What we're about to see is pure cinéma vértité."
I sat in a club chair while he punched a remote and the screen lighted. Instead of Su Lin's most recent performance, which I expected to see, we were treated to a picture of James L. Bromfield, clad only in his Jockey shorts, timidly tiptoeing into the room, looking around, and rummaging through the desk. Then it faithfully recorded my picking up the appointment book and beginning to write something when I suddenly started.
"I especially like this part," Steve said, as the camera followed me out the door, and another one picked up my flight down the hall with Su Lin looking on.
Oh, shit! I said to myself. There was nothing to do but brazen it out.
Steve sadly shook his head. "What are we going to do with you?" he said. "We thought you were on our side, but we can't have this, you know."
I think it may have been the patronizing tone in his voice that finally stiffened my backbone. Suddenly, much to my surprise, I became very angry. Not wildly or unthinkingly angry, but angry in an icy, analytical way that honed my mental processes.
Feeling strangely flushed, and suddenly almost drunk with power, I stretched my legs and leaned back in my chair, looking at Steve through half closed eyes. "You've been on my case from day one," I said slowly. "Only day one didn't start here. It started with that movie featuring Phil's cock and Louise's craziness.
"You wanted to make a film featuring Phil's cock. Corrine wasn't interested in working with him, and Bette couldn't. Then two things happened to Phil. He lost his job, and he met Louise. Suddenly, the film you wanted to make fell into your lap.
"You didn't know how I would react to seeing my wife in a porno flick. You were particularly concerned about that when you discovered I was a lawyer." I paused for breath, but my mind was suddenly in overdrive. I decided to try a bluff.
"Ordinarily, you wouldn't give a rat's ass what I thought -- except for the possible inconvenience of a law suit -- but that movie had already gone interstate on the internet, and your ass was on the line because Louise fucked Blair in that movie, which could be very awkward for you, because Blair was only 17 at the time."
I shook my head. "Child pornography is seriously against the law." I turned to Carol. "Bette told you that Louise had come back, didn't she? Then you had Rob call Louise -- to try to scare her off?"
Carol looked startled. "How'd you know about Rob?" she demanded.
"Never mind," I said, mindful of the old saw about the guilty fleeing where none pursued. I felt invincible. I added, "He was in that movie, too, wasn't he? And `Marta' was the screen name you gave her, wasn't it?"
Carol nodded, her eyes fixed on my face.
I turned to Steve. "You're very clever," I said. "I don't know which of you thought of bringing me into the business, but I'm sure Bette was in on it, because she convinced me -- what little convincing I needed -- that accepting your offer was all gain and no pain. I was dumb enough and horny enough to ignore that old adage that says `if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.'
"You've been working with Bette all along, haven't you? She told you when we would be going to the Ten/ Thirty Club." I paused again.
Again, Steve began to interrupt me, but after glancing at Carol, he closed his mouth again.
"The hell of it is, you didn't know enough to quit when you were ahead. I was fully committed to the business until you got cute by doctoring the tape of our first meeting to coerce me into turning Bette out, thereby exposing myself to more blackmail. And then, dumbest thing of all, you intimidated me with Carmine."
I turned to Carol. "None of that was necessary. I was quite willing to go along until you began turning up the heat. That business with Carmine scared me so badly that I went to a classmate who is now an assistant federal district attorney. I paused to let that sink in while I tried to look both mysterious and supreme- ly confident, which is hard to do when you're wearing only Jockey shorts.
"I thought I was representing you at the time," I continued, "so although I described my concerns to him, I withheld your name and the studio's identity, even though he urged me to make a formal statement."
Steve had begun rummaging in the locked file drawer as I spoke. He brought out a slip of paper which he handed me. It was a photocopy of the notarized statement that I had given Bette about soliciting her for prostitution.
"Did you tell him about this?" Steve asked, waving the paper, "or that you took Bette across a state line for immoral purposes?" His indirect reference to the Ten/Thirty Club and the Mann Act was dated, but it still had enough punch to make additional trouble for me if Bucky happened to be so inclined.
"No," I admitted, "I didn't." I paused. "I don't know how you feel, but this looks to me like a Mexican stand-off. Let's see if we can work this out.
"You've got something I want; I've got something you want. Let's make a trade. First, though, I'll need two pieces of paper and a pen. Somehow, I neglected to bring one with me."
That modest bit of humor barely lightened the mood in the room, but Carol smiled while she handed me the materials I requested.
I thought for a moment, then turned toward Su Lin. "What's your last name?" I asked.
She looked anxiously at Carol before she answered, "Bartlett," she said, spelling it out.
I hurriedly wrote a paragraph, which I dated and signed. "Su Lin, honey. This is for you," I said, extending the paper in her direction.
Looking puzzled, she stepped forward, her soft breasts bouncing and swaying as she moved. Her stomach seemed even more pronounced.
"Carol, Steve, meet your new partner," I said. "I've just quit-claimed my interest in Satin Studios to Su Lin and Stick Bartlett."
Then I scribbled a second paragraph. This paper, I handed to Steve. "That is my resignation as your attorney. Notice that I dated it today. That means I am bound by my oath as an attorney and the Canon of Professional Ethics on pain of disbarment not to reveal anything that has passed between us prior to this date. In other words, everything I know about your operation is privileged, and therefore, not only is inadmissible in a court of law, but I could be severely punished and lose my license if I revealed it to anyone."
I held out my hand. "I think I'm entitled," I said.
Steve grinned. "I guess you are," he said. He drew a thick file from his file drawer and handed it to me.
I accepted it, turned, and with as much dignity as I could muster, left the room. I was relieved and crazy and scared shitless all at once. Things were happening almost too fast. I opened the file as soon as I was out of the room, and was relieved to find a video tape and the original solicitation I had given Bette.
I stopped in the room I had shared with Cynthia to retrieve my pants. Cynthia was there comforting a frightened Bette. Su Lin followed me into the room.
Turning to Su Lin, I said, "Go find Stick. We've got to get out of here." She turned and hurried away.
I wasn't sure even now, but there was a possibility that Steve might be having second thoughts and was arranging for an accident to occur before we reached town. Despite my assurances about attorney-client privilege, I was afraid they might think I knew too much to be allowed to walk away.
Bette was sitting on the bed, still dressed only in her panties and bra. "You, too, Bette. Get your dress on. We've got to get going!"
Cynthia had her arm around Bette's shoulder. Neither seemed ready to move.
"Come on, Bette," I said again, more urgently, "We've got to get out of here while we can."
Cynthia looked at me. "Bette wants to go home with me," she said.
I felt as if someone had just knocked the wind out of me. "What do you mean, Bette wants to go home with you?" I demanded, much louder than I intended.
"Hush!" Cynthia said. "You tell him, Bette."
"She's right, Jim," Bette said, looking at the floor. "I've been thinking about this for a long time." She looked up at me, her eyes pleading for understanding. "You remember, Jim. I almost left that time with Louise." Her eyes began to water.
"You're a wonderful guy, Jim, and I love you to pieces, but I know we don't belong together. You don't want the same things I do. We're just not compatible. Maybe with me out of the way you can get back with Louise." She began to cry and blindly held her arms out to me. I gave her a warm embrace, and kissed a secret place near her ear that only she and I knew about.
"If that's the way you really feel, honey, you know I won't try to stop you. But, for God's sake take care of yourself. Make those guys wear rubbers!"
She gave me a soggy kiss, and turned to Cynthia, who did an odd thing. She held out her hand. "You're a bigger man than I thought, Jim. I hope we can get together again one of these days. I think I'd like to know you better." We shook hands.
I was dressed by then. I turned back to Bette. "You know the telephone number." She smiled a little with me; we were both remembering Louise's ad.
I gave her a last kiss on the tip of her nose.
Stick and Su Lin were waiting in the parking lot. Su Lin had told Stick about the meeting in the office, and their new property.
Su Lin said, "I told Stick, but first, we've got to get out of here in one piece."
I nodded, "If you don't mind, I'd like to share your car going home. It's a rental, and they won't have had a chance to tinker with it. I'm not sure about the brakes on mine."
Su Lin's eyes grew round. "Are these people really like that?" she asked.
"I don't know," I said, "but I think that's the way we had better play it. It's safer. Besides, I was only guessing about half the time in there, but it looks as if my guesses were pretty good."
Our trip back to town was uneventful. On the way, I explained what I knew and suspected, "I may not have done you any favors by giving you that stock. You see, Steve and Carol use hidden cameras to take films of their parties, especially the orgy scenes. I suspect they have been feeding the orgy scenes to the internet on a regular basis. I know they used that material in their films.
"As a lawyer, I can't begin to imagine the civil liabilities they may have incurred or the damages to which they might have to respond. On the other hand, as a swinger, I have a hard time imagining that anyone recognizable in those scenes is likely to want to draw the sort of attention to themselves that a lawsuit would entail.