The Reluctant Psychic Ch. 12byonly_more_so©
If you are new to my Reluctant Psychic series, please consider starting from the beginning. The story, characters and events in this chapter will make more sense when given context from the preceding chapters. If you're returning, welcome back and I hope you enjoy the story.
* * *
Bambi left me sitting at the table while she went to clean up. The news of my impending retirement had taken its happy toll on her makeup. I just wish she hadn't left just as Anna was slamming a door in my head. Even though I knew she would be back soon, I still couldn't help feeling alone.
My thoughts began wandering which meant I started picking up stray thoughts of the people around me. The thoughts radiating off one gentleman made me realize I didn't have as much control on my powers as I thought. He was telling his lunch partner and mistress that he couldn't see her anymore because he needed to spend more time at home with his family.
There were other people responding to my apparent proposal to Bambi, most of them not influenced by my powers. An older couple was reminiscing about their own engagement decades ago. Our waiter decided to finally to propose to his girlfriend.
But they weren't all happy thoughts. There was another cheating couple present, and they were quite amused by the earlier display. There was a man taking a three martini lunch to face going back to a job he hated. The longer I sat there with the thoughts brushing against my mind, the more negative feelings I sensed.
I concentrated on person after person, and found that mostly they had mundane thoughts: neither good nor bad. Most thoughts seemed to be falling in the happy or good side of the spectrum, the minority falling on the unhappy dark side. Then why did the bad thoughts seem to be seeking me out? I had the nagging feeling that I was seeking them out.
Thankfully Bambi wasn't gone so long that I fully fell into a depression, but I did have a migraine coming on. "Do you think we can cancel the last couple of jobs for today? I have a headache coming on, and I want to go home." As I said it, I realized how true it was. My girls' thoughts were inevitably bright and cheerful. I couldn't indulge in seeking dark thoughts if they weren't around me.
I felt a sudden spark of panic in Bambi's thoughts. She quickly suppressed it, just as I quickly tried to stop reading her thoughts. Why would she panic about going home now, when she seemed so ecstatic about the idea of me being home almost all the time?
Bambi flushed slightly. She parted her lips to say something then stopped. Eventually she said, "I actually called the clients while I was up. I thought in celebration we could take the afternoon off and go to the art museum."
It sounded like an excuse to not go home. But Bambi had mentioned going to the museum a number of times in the past few weeks. I could never remember which artist was having an exhibit, but I thought he was Irish, or maybe Dutch. I looked at Bambi and saw her love shining through to me. She might have been making up an excuse, but it was out of love.
Whether she was acting out of love or not, it didn't help my headache. Actually, the thoughts it brought to mind only made my headache worse. The girls have all been acting so strangely for the last few days. I trusted them and I knew that they loved me, but my faith was being tested. I longed to reach into Bambi's mind and pull out the truth, but I loved her too much and that love said I had to have faith in her.
For Bambi, I decided I would not only have faith in her, but I would face the headache and a couple of hours in an art museum. "I would love to go to the museum with you," I said. I stood up, dropped a hundred dollar bill on the table and offered a hand to Bambi. She took it and rose to her feet with a smile.
"You know the meal didn't cost even half that much?" she asked. Sometimes it was easy to forget that Bambi came from a very meager background. She didn't mind that I spent money extravagantly, but it should be intentional and not careless.
"You're absolutely right," I said. I opened my wallet and dropped five more hundreds onto the table. Bambi looked askance at me, but took my arm without a word as I started walking out of the restaurant. I knew it was bothering her, so as we left the restaurant I confessed, "I'm just helping him make some woman very happy." I held up my left hand and waggled the ring finger.
She gave me a big smile, and hugged me. She also started crying again. I was a bit surprised by the public affection and the tears. But I was really surprised that my finger had felt so empty.
* * *
Augustus Saint-Gaudens it turns out was an American sculptor born in Ireland. As Bambi and I walked through the exhibit I thought I recognized a few of the items. At first I shrugged it off as merely being my unfamiliarity with art. However, when I saw a naked woman doing archery I knew something was going on.
I looked at the plaque, skipping over the mundane details such as the sculpture's name and date of casting. At the bottom, in italics, it said, "On loan from Private Collection." I turned to Bambi and asked her what she knew about a private collection.
She smiled and said, "It was Tiffany's idea. She said a lot of rich people who feel guilty about having too much stuff, loan the stuff out to museums. Tiffany knows a lot more about being rich than I do." She strolled to another piece of sculpture and looked at it for a moment before continuing, "Besides, I like the idea that some school will have a field trip, and a bunch of children will see something beautiful because of me."
"Do you feel guilty about being rich?"
She looked at me with her beautiful green eyes and said, "No. Do you?"
* * *
I don't know why I still seek out these games.
I don't need the money; I can't even spend all of the money I already have, even with dozens of women helping me. I have a squadron of airplanes, a flotilla of boats and a handful of cars in every city I've ever visited. I own diamond mines, oil wells, sardine factories, and steel mills. But it was never about the things I've won.
Then there are my less than legal possessions. I have MiGs, a nuclear submarine, hundreds of tanks and nearly a million guns. The guns and tanks are in storage, guarded by men who are utterly loyal to me. They used to be utterly loyal to rape, murder and themselves, but I've fixed that. I keep the MiGs around for the girls to take thrill rides, and the submarine is handy, and luxurious once it was redecorated. But, since I don't plan on going to war, or supplying weapons for a war, the games were never about that either.
I've won brothels and cocaine plantations, slaves and drugs. I always freed the slaves and found them safe productive lives, and destroyed the drugs. The plantations now grow food. The brothels are still brothels, but the women are safe, clean and keep the money they earn. But the games were never about trying to do right in the world.
I delude myself sometimes, thinking that I play to forget. Maybe that is how it started, trying to forget, but that isn't why I still play. That isn't why I walked through the sewers of Hong Kong in the dead of night to join the game.
It's the power and thrill of conquest. I beat these lords of the underworld. I seek them out in their own dens and beat them. I take their dearest possessions and make them mine. Sometimes they seek revenge; they attack me or hire thugs to attack for them. But they can't beat a man who knows their minds, who can control their thoughts.
There is no thrill tonight. The cards feel rough in my hands, the drink tasteless in my mouth. The smoky room which once added sinister ambiance tonight only makes me cough. The girls lounging on couches, or dancing on tables filled me with revulsion instead of lust.
At some point tonight, I stopped using my powers to win. I didn't even realize until one of the other players pointed out my losing streak. My pile was still the largest, but not by much. Another hand was dealt, and I picked it up to find I had a full house, Queens over Aces. When it came to my turn to bet, I grabbed the keys to the Ferrari out of the pile and pushed the rest of my stack in.
"If I lose, I still want to get home!" I proclaimed. The other men laughed, and set about deciding if it was a bold bluff, or a trap. Eventually, one man decided it was a bluff and pushed his stack in as well. I agreed that we were about even, meaning one of us would be going home.
"You are bluffing!" he shouted, throwing down his three jacks. All eyes turned toward me, waiting for me to show a better hand. Even the man with the jacks believed in his heart that he had lost.
Without showing my cards, I bowed my head and pushed the pile towards the jacks. I dropped my cards into my shirt pocket, blinding their minds to my actions, and then bid the men goodnight. I whistled as I walked out of the room.
What I really needed was waiting for me back in my hotel, and in a city near where I grew up. As I walked back to my girls, I walked away from my last poker game.
* * *
I didn't answer Bambi's question at the museum. I'd actually never even thought about feeling guilty for being rich. I've spent plenty of time feeling guilty that my wealth was acquired through crime. I might not have committed the crimes, but the men I took the money from committed more than enough to taint it. I had freed the slaves I'd won, and destroyed the drugs, but there were so many other crimes that I couldn't expunge from my conscience.
I realized as we were driving home, that there was a form of wealth I did feel guilty about. I spent the time riding home trying to figure out a way to explain, but never quite came up with an answer. Bambi slid the car to a stop on the gravel driveway. I sat still in the car, even as Bambi started to get out. She must have sensed my mood, or maybe my powers told her my mood, because she stopped and turned to look at me.
I sat staring out the windscreen. After a minute or so, I said, "I do feel guilty. Not for being rich, but because of your love for me. Any man would be wealthy having one woman love him liked I'm loved by you. But to have all of you love me, that's more than any man deserves, let alone a man like me." As I stumbled my way through, my eyes gazed forward at my waiting home and the girls who were waiting there for me. When I was done, I slowly turned to face Bambi.
Bambi was crying again. She threw her arms around me and hugged me, sniffling softly. She didn't say anything, she just clung to me. We held each other for a long time, long enough for someone to notice that although the car had come home, no one had walked through the door. It was also long enough for me to wonder why Bambi had been so weepy today, it really wasn't like her. I was so concerned I nearly peeked into her mind. I restrained myself, but it was a near thing. Near enough that usually Anna would have chimed in, but she didn't appear to be paying attention.
There was a knock on the window, and we both turned to see Gwen peeking in my window. There was a knock on the other side and Betsy was peeking in at us. Dinah and Tiffany were standing in front of the car looking in through the windscreen. Bambi covered her mouth and started to giggle. She hit me lightly on the arm and said, "Look what you've done to me! You've turned me into a sniffling wreck."
* * *
Dealing with a crying Bambi, didn't help my nagging headache. I should have felt relief at the prospect of retiring, but I only felt the stress more intensely. There were still plenty of criminals in the world, plenty that I knew personally. Unfortunately, there were just as many, if not more, people waiting to step into any void in the crime world that I might create.
Rather than join the ladies inside, I took a detour around the house. I gave the gentlest of nudges to the girls' minds to not notice that I didn't come inside with them. They were so busy getting the latest gossip from Bambi that I might not have needed to. The news would make them all so happy, and I just couldn't bear to be around that while I was so empty inside. I have more control of my powers than I used to, but even an unhappy face can kill the mood.
I headed instead to my secret hideout. I hadn't visited it in a long time, only once since the girls discovered the secret and claimed it as a clubhouse. With the girls coming and going, it no longer served its purpose of isolating me and my powers from them. Although, there was little chance that it was in use now.
As I walked through the woods, I tried to figure out why I couldn't be happy with the thought of retiring. Why couldn't I be happy with a house full of women who love me? I once heard that happiness was a decision. If so, why can't I decide to be happy? Even without Anna reminding me of the terrible things I've done, I still remember them. Trying to forget the singular terrible thing I'd done only led me to do more bad things. The gambling and drinking didn't even make me forget, they only distracted me for a time, dulled the edges of the memory.
The secret entrance to the clubhouse was still hard to see, even with the obvious trail leading directly towards it. As I opened the passage, the lights flickered on automatically, a new feature. There was also a mat from wiping feet before heading down the steps into the corridor. The corridor had undergone some cosmetic changes, and I couldn't say that I minded. It no longer looked like a fallout bunker; it was amazing what a bit of plaster and paint will do. The lights still had cages around them, but the conduit was no longer obvious and the cages were ornate wooden contraptions. The floor had the rubbery feel of a gymnasium, just without the smell or the ugly black color.
One thing in the corridor that hadn't changed was the cameras. They were subtly placed before, but now they were nearly invisible. If I hadn't been checking to make sure they weren't plastered over, I never would have noticed them. The girls also left the security door intact, aside from a new coat of paint. So, even if it was no longer a place I could be alone with my thoughts, it was still a safe place in case of an emergency.
I pulled the door open and was surprised to see that a fire was burning in the fireplace. I walked toward the fire and didn't notice Betsy curled up in the oversized leather wing chair until I was standing next to her. She looked as empty inside as I felt. I sat down on the ottoman, half turned to the fire and half towards her.
I took the time to study my former lair, and found that not a lot had actually changed. It seemed a little brighter, or perhaps a bit more broken in. The smell of the room had especially changed; it no longer smelled like a leather furniture store but something between a cabin and a well used study.
I was trying to decide whether I should break the silence, or wait for Betsy to do so. I turned towards her, but before I could speak she handed me a newspaper that I'd failed to notice her holding. The paper was folded to emphasize one article: Steven Haufman's obituary. The obituary was pretty standard, saying he was survived by a loving daughter, and would be buried on Thursday.
I put the paper down and looked at Betsy. She asked, "Do you think anyone will come? Aside from you, I don't remember any of daddy's friends."
I thought about it for a time, and I decided that I hoped no one would come. Steven Haufman might have been a nice guy, but most of his associates, including me, weren't nice. Actually, the more I thought about it, the more concerned I was. Steven had made enemies; you don't get gunned down by friends. I had also made enemies, and they had tried to attack me through Betsy before.
"I don't know Betsy, maybe." I reached out my hand resting it lightly on her leg. She put her tiny hand on top of mine and gave me a squeeze.
"I always hoped I could tell him I got married," she said. I looked up at her, and saw her eyes were distant. It took a moment to realize that she hadn't spoken those words out loud. It was such a powerful thought that I had sensed it accidentally. I also sensed something about a grandchild, before I could block out her thoughts completely.
I could never marry any of the girls. It wouldn't be fair to the other girls, and it wouldn't be fair to Anna. If it weren't for laws against polygamy, I suppose I could marry all of them, but somehow that still felt wrong. The thought of children, on the other hand, simply scared me to death. What if they turned out like me?
* * *
The fire had burned down to embers when there was a knock on the door. Betsy and I were both snapped out of our thoughts by the sudden noise. Betsy got up and headed towards the door, leaving me by the dying fire. It turned out it was Jill, she'd come to tell us that dinner was less than an hour away.
Jill and Betsy were talking about something else in hushed words. At one point Betsy shook her head before looking back towards me. She seemed a bit sadder than she had been. She listened to something else Jill said, and finally nodded her head. Betsy came over to me, gave me a gentle kiss on the lips and headed back towards the door. Jill gave Betsy a hug before Betsy left.
Jill came over and sat next to me. "I never got around to telling you how upset I was when I found out about this place."
I was a bit startled by the unexpected direction of her statement. "All of the girls seemed a bit upset," I said noncommittally.
"Yes, but they didn't have an outsider usurp their place. Why couldn't you have let me design this place? I wouldn't have told anyone."
I couldn't help but laugh. "Jill, you had your hands full with the rest of the house. Besides, I did the design myself, with some practical help from the contractor." She didn't appear mollified, so I added, "I promise, if I ever need another secret lair designed, I'll let you do it."
"Good," she said, giving me a smug nod. She walked towards me, until she was standing directly in front of me, between my legs. She stood so close that her blouse was nearly pressed against my nose. As I breathed in, I smelled a musky fragrance and looked down towards her skirt. She twisted her hips slightly causing the material to swirl around her.
It didn't take me long to know what she wanted, but I was hardly in the mood. I started to speak up, but she pressed a finger to my lips and softly shushed me. She put her knee on the ottoman next to me, followed by her other knee. She pushed her breasts against my face, moving me backwards. She kept pushing until I was lying on my back across the ottoman, with her legs straddling me.
She reached between her legs and began undoing my pants. She opened my pants enough to give her access to my underwear which she pushed down. Her hand continued to work until she exposed my penis to the warm humid air trapped under her skirt. It didn't seem to bother her that I was still soft as she lowered her bare sex against me.
I felt the intense heat and moisture from her sex against the top of my soft cock. She slowly rubbed herself along me and it almost felt like she was pulling me into her. She moved her lips next to my ear and she moaned softly into it. She sucked noisily on my ear for a minute as she kept rubbing her sex against me.
I was still not quite hard, but close enough for what Jill did next. She lifted her head so that her black hair fell in a cascade around my face. Her gray eyes stared at me as she lifted her hips. She watched my reaction as she slowly aligned the head of my cock with her heated opening. The head slowly sank into her and I watched her eyelids flutter and heard her breath coming in short gasps.
She tried to sink down onto me, but she was too tight, and I wasn't hard enough. She again reached between her legs, wrapping her hand around my shaft. Little by little she feed my cock into her until eventually I was fully inside of her. She lifted slightly and pushed back down. The little motions she made were the most my slowly hardening cock could sustain. She tried again, but when I nearly slipped out she decided on a new tactic. She started squeezing me with her sex and rolling her hips slightly.