I met Steve by accident really. He was much older than I was, by atleast 25 years. We crossed paths on the subway in the rush hour and for some reason the standing crowd jerked with the train and I lost my balance. As I stepped back I fell directly into his hands that steadied me. I thanked him and from that point onwards we began to chat about this and that and our work in the city. It was simply casual talk that turned eventually into a request from him, which surprised me.
"My name is Steve." He gave me a calling card from his inside pocket. "There. A proper introduction. You have all my details. Name, address, both business and home telephone numbers."
"Thankyou." I replied as I read the card. I was impressed. He was the manager of a well-established ladies lingerie store. "That is very interesting. Will I get any discounts?" I asked him.
"You certainly will. Only one favour I ask?"
"And what would that be?"
"Let me take you out to dinner tomorrow evening?"
I was single and free, having recently said farewell to a really bad relationship. I was lonely and looking for somekind of hobby or even meeting someone new. I needed to get some quiet order in my life again. So, Steve's request gave me some scope to make a new friend despite the age difference. He was quite handsome as older guys are and he certainly passed as a caring responsible gentleman. His greying beard and head of hair added something to his features that I liked. Intelligent and very distinguished.
We arranged to meet a restaurant in the city. It was one that I often fancied visiting and never did until then. The Italian cuisine was the best I had ever tasted in years. The wine was expensive, but I did not care because Steve paid for everything. In a way he wined and dined me as a gentlemen would and although romantic it was, he never over stepped my limits. He seemed to respect me in every way and I appreciated it.
"I have something for you." He said. "I want you to do me a huge favour." No sooner had he said it he called over the headwaiter that brought with him a package. "This favour is special to me." The waiter laid the package before me on the table. "Don't open it yet."
"What is it?" I asked.
"When you get home tonight, I want you to wear the items within. And in two days time you can tell me what you think about them. Call it a gift to a very charming and beautiful lady such as yourself." I thanked him for the gift and hid my enthusiasm to open the package. He sat back and looked at me. Then he made it clear that he knew nothing about me whatsoever. Not even my name. I told him everything he wanted to know.
"Karen is a beautiful name, just like its owner." He said, lighting his cigar. "I hope you don't mind me smoking. It's the only bad habit I have. Infact, I have never had any habits that are considered to be bad apart from smoking. Can you believe that?"
I looked at him, resting my chin on my hands and smiled. "Are you married?"
"Never been married my dear. Not even a long-term relationship with any woman. Infact, I don't seek one either. I am happy to be alone in live with my successful career. Women's lingerie is my life."
I didn't believe a word he told me. But I was willing to accept it, for now. "So, you like me? Enough to ask me to dinner. A perfect stranger you knew nothing about until after you wined and dined me and gave me a gift. That is certainly interesting for starters."
"I find you intriguing. Is there anything wrong with that?"
"Not at all. Just a little unusual. You have not even asked if I am married or attached to anyone. Don't you want to atleast know that?"
"No. I know you are single. I can tell." He seemed proud of that fact, almost arrogant. This gentlemen was suddenly acting as if he had caught me like prey and insisted on charming me further. "Don't get me wrong Karen. I don't need a relationship. I just want us to share time together this evening as we are now. And again, if you will permit, the evening after tomorrow?"
"Why? Is it important?" I asked. He laughed, blowing smoke into the air.
"Not really. You can refuse me if you like. But then, why do so? You see I am not going to harm you in anyway. I have a request. It's simply harmless. But I will ask you next time."
Now he was becoming a man of tantalising mystery. I took deep breath and he suddenly asked the waiter for the bill. He made it clear the evening was over and ordered us both two cabs. One for him and one for me. Then we left the restaurant together and departed in different directions in our respective cabs.
When I got home I unwrapped the package, finding a beautiful pink basque and a single pair of panties to match perfectly. Both items looked expensive and I loved the idea of them being a gift from such as Steve. I was left thinking momentarily about the mystery surrounding our date whilst I run a bath. Then I checked the package again and found an item I had overlooked. It was so strange. A rubber arm and hand that looked as if it had been pulled from a doll. I wondered about it and why it was there.
After my bath I dried and put on the items. They looked good on me, just the right size too and I realised from that one time I fell into his hands on the subway, he judged my body so accurately. No man I ever knew until then ever did that so well. It was all too funny and almost ludicrous, I began to laugh to myself, looking at the dolls arm and hand and its significance.
We met again as arranged. This time I dressed and made up more glamorous, I wanted to play some part of his game, which I still wasn't sure of. And he noticed; making a comment about how stunning I looked. My message was clear all along. I wasn't ready for anything deep and sexual and for now he can look but not touch. Atleast, not on our second date.
I felt satisfied yet perplexed that he accepted the way things were. After the meal he looked at me intently as I gazed back at him. "Did you like the gift?" he asked. I nodded and smiled my reply. "Good I am very pleased. I knew that it would suit you. Both items."
"Why the dolls arm?" I asked.
I was aching to ask that question ever since I found it. He smiled at me and leaned forward. "That represents me. My kink if you like. Do whatever your imagination allows with it." I looked at him thinking all kinds of silly things. Such a strange thing to do and his explanation seemed even more bizarre. I laughed. I wanted to tell him my thoughts there and then but I would have offended him. I let it pass.
"So, tell me…" He stopped me by raising his hand.
"Just take a photograph for me." he asked. "Nothing crude. I want to see you wearing it, but I don't want to be there yet." His request was to me unusual. Then as the evening in the restaurant unfolded a little more and we continued to drink more wine, I began to understand him a little more. "Are you wearing it now?" he continued. I smiled and nodded, watching his expression." His eyes lit up and I detected his excitement. He reached into his pocket and produced a digicam. I looked at it.
"You want me to take a picture of me wearing it?"
"Yes please. That is all I ask of you, just for now. But when you get home. Then I want you to call me when you have taken it so that I can arrange for you to return the camera. You see I have a confession to make." He held out his hand and I took it. Our fingers entwined.
"I am a virgin. And I want to stay that way until I am sure the time is right. The
vision of you wearing it will satisfy my needs in their own way, you understand?" I was becoming more than just curious and his confession of being a virgin was totally unexpected. Then I realised something. If it was true, then I should respect this man for being so honest. And all he really wanted was to see me wearing his gift, without even being with me. But whom was he keeping himself for? Was I going to be a likely candidate amongst so many he had played this game with?
"Wait a minute!" I pulled my hand free of his. I wanted more questions answered before I even considered his requests. I looked at him. "Am I the only woman you have asked? I want you to be honest with me Steve, ok?"
"My dear, you are the only one. Trust me. I am trusting not only my instincts, but fate as well. I have spent a celibate life so far. There are so many things I want to do before it's too late. I now find being a virgin is no longer important to me. But I need the right woman."
"And you think that is me?"
"Well, yes I do. But…" He hesitated. "I want to see if you have that certain thing I am looking for."
"I look at so many pictures of women. I masturbate, to satisfy my sexual desires. I am a man Karen and I can only take so much of this stress I am putting myself through. One day I am going to die and I want to complete my life by making love atleast once." I listened to him, putting it all together in my mind from his perspective. I tried to understand his motives.
"You mean you want someone special? Not just anybody?"
"Yes. She must be perfect in every way. And I need to see this my way. Your picture will give me some idea. But it must not be crude. Will you allow this Karen? I can only do it if you agree with everything I want."
I felt sick inside. I wasn't disgusted by his request, just that I found it all very weird with so many things attached that I had never thought I would have to consider. He was weird and yet I respected him. I thought hard and long. And eventually after a while I agreed to do the picture he wanted, knowing that I had control of what the outcome may be. I was still very curious about his reasons and motive. I wasn't even sure if I really believed what he told me.
A week had passed, and I had completed my task, done all of the pictures he asked for, and sent back the digicam by courier, special delivery.
Things were getting busy at work in the city museum where was a records clerk, entering items that had come in from all over the world. There was to be a huge dinosaur exhibition in the coming weeks and that took my mind of Steve for a while. Somehow, I was able to turn off to everything that had happened. That was until he called me on my cell-phone.
"How did you find this number?" I asked. I was alone in the office. His voice was as smooth as ever; even on the phone it still had that hypnotic charm. And he never answered my question. Instead he thanked me profusely for the task.
"I love the one you did with the dolls arm. Clever the way you situated it between your beautiful breasts. And that hint of your nipple too. Very erotic. I selected it for my use and it worked. I am pleased to tell you Karen that you passed."
"Passed? Was it an exam?" I replied with a laugh. Steve did not appreciate the humour I had found in his comments and silence followed. I could feel that I had upset him. "You still there? Steve?"
"Karen, don't mock me. What I am doing is serious. Now it is time to move on. Are you alone?"
"Yes, I am alone."
"Good. Listen very to me very carefully. I want you to…" He hesitated and I waited. "I want you to make noises for me. The kind you make when making love. I need to hear you having an orgasm. Just your voice and nothing else."
"Oh wait! Steve? This is a little inconvenient right now. You do realise I'm at work and may I say, you seem to have forgotten to ask something."
"Please? Did I forget to say please?"
"No! You forgot to ask what I was wearing!" I pressed call end and threw the cell-phone down onto the desk in rage. I thought his request sounded way out of order and that changed my opinion of him there and then. He made the whole thing sound like I was someone on a sex chat line and that certainly was not my style. If he had been a lover then I may have obliged, but he wasn't.
The phone beeped again. I took my time thinking about it. He was persistent, calling a second time until I did answer. "What is it? What are you trying to do Steve?" I asked. He apologised and told me that what he did was unforgivable. I had to agree and the conversation turned more acceptable. He asked me to meet him after work, arranging for a cab to collect me and deliver me to a certain part of town. I agreed.
It was dark. The cab had dropped me at a back alley in the city centre, somewhere. I had an idea of where I was, but still I felt as if I'd been dumped and I felt vulnerable until I heard footsteps clanging against the cold steel of the fire escape. He was in the shadow and then he appeared in full light.
"Thankyou for coming." He said, holding out his hand. "Please join me. I have an office on the third floor. This is where we store our goods before distributing them to the various stores across town. It's where I work sometimes. We are alone."
He insisted that I climb the steps before him. I knew that he wanted to watch as I went ahead, taking note of my legs and rear. Atleast now he was taking a physical interest in me and that was acceptable for now. He was still a stranger and I was extra cautious of his ulterior motive. I was beginning to hate the secrecy and mystery surrounding our acquaintance.
His office was small and clustered with packages stacked in every available space. He pointed to his desk and the chairs. I sat opposite him and looked around. "It isn't my idea of a tidy office either. I know what you are thinking."
Steve seemed to get inside my head every time he was near me. He glanced at me and smiled. "Down to business. Karen, I have chosen you as my…lover?" He began to explain. I listened intently. "I hope that is fine with you? I think we should make arrangements for us to make love quite soon. The time is right and you are perfect. It's going to be absolutely wonderful, don't you think?"
"Steve. I need to say this. Seriously. You are making all of this charade so clinical. We hardly know each other and a courtship based upon… the way you are going about this? It's silly. It makes no sense to me. You are acting like some dirty old pervert trying to cover up and be nice. A wolf in sheep's clothing? Do you understand what I'm saying?"
"Perfectly my dear. You think I'm a pervert? But in reality if only you knew it, I am not that kind of person. I have to tell you I suppose. I am forced to tell you everything I did not want you to know about me. But then it may spoil things even more."
"I'm listening." I was patient, willing to get to the bottom of things. End the mystery all together.
"You said you wanted to be serious. Ok, here it is. I am going to die quite soon and please don't make funny remarks like we all are. I am a condemned man and they are out to kill me. I have a life sentence on my shoulders. And it is true what I told you. I am a virgin."
"Who is going to kill you? This sounds even more crazy now."
"I told you it would spoil things. You don't understand and probably never will. It's up to you. I'm not forcing you to do this and never would. But I'm a dead man walking right now. Only my executioner isn't the law. It's something far more sinister."
"You are ill?"
"No. I wish I was somehow. That would atleast make this easier if it was. I have done something very wrong to someone very powerful. They find it hard to forgive me and so I have been given a week to live before they kill me."
He was on someone's hit list. There was no need for him to explain things further. I either accepted it or not. But he was so calm about it and that made me wonder. "You need help in more ways than you think." I told him.
"Karen, I'm not going to run away or go to the law for help. It's pointless. They will find me, eventually. You see it will buy me time I know. But I want this over and done with. Sounds crazy I know, but there are personal reasons for wanting it this way."
He was mad. I decided. I picked up my bag and stood looking at him. "Steve, you are a really nice guy. I think I need to say goodbye now. It was great playing this game with you. The gift and taking those pictures were fun. I'm so glad you enjoyed it all as much as I did." I turned and walked towards the door.
"They are going to get you too Karen. They know about what I'm trying to do… with you. But then, like I said, I would never force you." I stopped and tried to absorb what he had told me. It was stupid. Why was I involved in this?
"Why me? I had nothing to do with anything you did to them? How can you get me involved?"
"It wasn't meant to be this way. They found the pictures and discovered my reasons. Now they want to blackmail as well as kill. They are not very nice people Karen. There is nothing I can do to stop this. My life is already finished. I made mistakes in letting them find out. I'm sorry."
"No wait! What blackmail? What are you talking about?"
"They want me to make love to you and then they will spare your life. It's as simple as that."
Suddenly the whole end game took a twist. Was this his idea of "not" forcing me? I could walk away and forget all this. Then again, I could walk away and…I could be murdered days, weeks or even months later if he was telling the truth. "How would they know if we made love or not?" I asked.
"I record the whole thing."
"Oh great!" It was far too obvious. "I think I know what is going on here. Forgive me for not being so naïve, ok? I think I'll go now and wish you and whoever your friends are a nice life. I wasn't born just yesterday Steve. Look, I'm really scared ok?"
I turned and left, rushing down the fire escape into the alley and then onto the main street to hail a cab. There was already a cab waiting just a few metres away and the door opened. My curiosity took the better of me and I walked towards it. It was the same cab driver that delivered me there just half a hour before. "Get in Miss. I know where you are going." The cabby told me.
I did as he asked. Then I thought about everything that happened, very carefully…
I noticed the cabby was ignoring me as we drove through the main streets. He wasn't taking home that was for sure. That was when things began to get really scary. My mind was on overdrive thinking all kinds of scenarios about Steve and what he told me. Things seemed to be far too fantastic to be real. And then now…
"Where are you taking me? Will you answer me?" I asked.
"Don't worry Miss, just cool it. This job is hard enough." He looked through his rear-view mirror at me and grinned. "Not the only thing that's hard either right now. What a fucking waste."
"Wow! Wait a minute." I began to panic. I didn't like his comment that was for sure. The mention of 'waste' just did not feel good in its context and with what was happening. "Stop this cab, now!"
"I can't. I have a job to do Miss. Besides, this ride is free for you, so sit back and enjoy."
My panic got worse. I started screaming for him to stop, thumping his shoulders and he pleaded with me to stop before we both got killed in a road accident. I realised it was pointless. The cab was now entering a freeway and going faster, away from the city itself. I wanted to wake up, but I wasn't sleeping. This was not a dream, or even a nightmare, it was really happening.
The journey went on into the night. Open freeway leading somewhere north of the city and wherever my fate lay ahead. I could only wait and sob, thinking of all kinds of things to happen to me. And the cabby began to sing a song to himself… "Walk Like A Panther Tonight"… the words were uncanny and his supposed singing voice was horrid.
I curled up on the seat and sobbed myself to sleep. How I don't know, but I woke up in daylight and the cab was still moving. I peered over the cabby's shoulder and looked outside. Open country was all I could see around us as we travelled along the road. I needed to relieve myself badly.