Wilmington Woman's Club Ch. 46byParis Waterman©
Laura Strand, May 12, 1989
Wearing a black mini-skirt instead of shorts to show off her attractive legs, Laura Strand crossed Nun Street in the hot sun. She was comfortable in the heat, although circles of sweat were visible under her arms, and on her green tee, sweaty patches had bled through. Beads of sweat ran down her neck past the thick, straight braids of hair. Laura had large breasts, a squashy tummy and masses of dark brown hair. Her mouth was red and wet like a ripe plum. She was eating a roll, wrapped in brown waxy paper with grease spots on it.
She cursed silently, for the cobblestone street was uneven and difficult to walk on, especially in high heels. Parked cars took up most of the small sidewalk, if one could justifiably call it a sidewalk.
Sinking her white teeth into the pulp, Laura managed to catch a tomato pip on her upper lip, then realized that some grease was oozing down her chin, and half-heartedly attempted to wipe it away with her other hand.
Two young men were leaning on a mailbox at the corner, watching her every move. Laura had to swivel as she made her way between a dark green Jaguar and a black Mercedes to reach the sidewalk, causing her skirt to ride up on her thigh, and one of the young men favored her with a resounding wolf whistle.
Laura heard the other softly comment, "Very, very nice," as she reached the doorway to her apartment. She flushed, pleased with their compliment but, fearful of enticing them even further, pretended to ignore them. She checked her mailbox, found two letters, tucked them under her arm and deactivated the alarm system in the entry; then opening the door, she went inside and reset the alarm. She climbed the stairs to her apartment doing her best to ignore the clatter of noise from the law firm on the first floor. They happened to own the building, and fearing another rent increase, she could ill afford to irritate them.
She unlocked her front door, and entered the kitchen, banging her hip on the edge of the refrigerator. Placing her attaché case on the counter, she walked into the combination living room -- dining room, stopping at the couch to rest her hand on the arm in order to take her shoes off.
The couch was slipcovered in bright yellow. A pale orange loveseat stood against the bedroom wall to her left, a walnut coffee table in front of it. Opposite the loveseat were two armless upholstered chairs done in nubby pale blue tweed. Between the chairs a Sony television stood on a pedestal, and beneath it was a VHS recorder.
In her stocking feet, Laura walked to the sliding glass door that opened onto a small balcony overlooking a parking lot, with a partial view of the Cape Fear River. She brushed aside the translucent curtains which allowed her to dress in daylight without exhibiting herself to passersby across the street as they left their cars in the parking lot.
She went back to the couch and turned into the bedroom. The red-light on her telephone recorder was blinking. She considered whether taking her clothes off or collecting her messages seemed likeliest to make her feel better, and decided getting changed had the edge. Pulling her green tee-shirt over her head, she tossed it toward the clothes hamper, missed and frowned. She took everything off except her black thonged bikini, picked the clothing up, sniffed them and grimaced; then carefully put some in the hamper, and set the reminder aside for the cleaners.
Laura went into the small bathroom and used a Waterpik to flush the food remnants from her mouth and brushed her teeth to remove the lingering taste. Returning to the bedroom, she donned a light blue tee and white tennis shorts, sat down at her desk, and replayed the messages.
The first message was no message at all: the second was from Natalie Stevens wanting to know when they could get together, "It's been too, too long, Laura," she said, curling Laura's stomach.
Thanks, bitch, Laura fumed, knowing Natalie wanted nothing more than to flaunt her newly enhanced boobs. "Keep fucking with me, and I might just hop into bed with that husband of yours and let you find out about it at a cocktail party," Laura said aloud, then quickly looked over her shoulder to make certain she was alone.
The last call was from Lou, whom she had dated several times and had introduced her to BDSM. He was brief and she was left not knowing the actual reason for his call. Of course, she assumed he wanted to see her again, but then again, he may have thought he'd left something valuable at her apartment.
She walked barefooted to the refrigerator, and took a bottle of Perrier water out, drank from the bottle, recapped it and returned it to the shelf, and closed the refrigerator door.
She picked up the phone and punched in the seven numbers and waited.
"Hi, Brandy," she said when the other end answered. Brandy was Lou's sister, or so he said.
"This is Laura. Is Lou free by any chance? I don't want to disturb him or anything - just returning his call - but if he's handy, you know?"
Laura laughed. "Did he take the whole paper, Brandy, or just the sports section?" She laughed again. "No, I'll hang on." She considered whether she needed to file her nails as she waited.
"Hi, Lou," she said a minute later. "Can I ask you, ah, something? Uh, yeah, I know you called me. Well, I called, um, kind of looking for a favor. Yeah, something like that. Definitely something like that. Um, is there any chance you could stop by tonight? I don't know; maybe drink some wine, something like that?" She paused, there was no way that she was about to ask him to tie her up before fucking her.
"Well, um, if you're like, back with Meg and everything's working out ... well, I don't want to screw that up." She paused and began biting a cuticle. "No, no," she said suddenly, "that's not what I meant. Well, I meant what I said at the time, but now I'm not sure that I meant it." She cursed herself for waffling over the phone but couldn't help herself. She laughed into the mouthpiece, "Let me try again. I guess what I'm saying is: I've had a bad day. I thought you might ... could cheer me up. Not the first bad day I've had recently either. I've had a whole string of them, you know? And I guess I'm lonesome. I kinda miss you. We had some good times and all.... Ah, I just wanted somebody to talk to, you know, Lou? Just to talk to, Lou."
Laura listened, lowered her head and shut her eyes. She massaged her eyes with two fingers. "Yes," she said, "I do know that. No, I understand. Yes, I do, Lou, yes, I do. I really do understand. No, I don't blame you; I don't blame you a bit." She paused, listened. "No, I don't feel that way, Lou, and look, thanks, all right? Thanks for being so nice."
She hung up the phone. She slid back into her chair so that she sat on her coccyx. She thought about having a good cry, but decided against it. She got up, found the corkscrew after searching for several minutes and opened a bottle of Merlot. She frowned after taking a sip, put the glass down, went into the kitchen and put three scoops of coffee into the filtered basket of her coffee maker. She put four cups of water into the pot and poured it into the machine. She shivered again, went to turn up the controls of the air conditioner, and then fluffed her hair until the unit kicked in. She went back to the kitchen as the coffee maker signaled it had completed the brewing, and turned it to 'warm.' She went back into the bedroom, and was still fluffing her hair when the phone rang.
She undid the towel, let it fall to the floor as she went to the bureau and opened the underwear drawer. The phone rang again. She took out a blue bra and blue panties, put on the panties, balancing herself by using the corner post of the bed. She got the bra over her shoulders as her recorded message finished. She was looking down to hook it when the caller began talking.
"Laura," the voice said, "it's Lou. Fuck! Are you there, or what?"
Laura whispered, "Shit!" and went over to the desk and picked up the phone. "Yeah, I'm here, Lou." She waited, cradling the phone between her left shoulder and her jaw, trying to fasten the bra while she listened. "I figured it was you," she said.
She gave up fiddling with the bra clasp and stood with the bra hanging from her shoulder, holding the phone with her left hand and supporting her left elbow with her right hand. She put her right foot on top of her left and curled her toes. She made faces as he talked. She rolled her eyes and scowled.
"Oh, I don't care," she said. "No, I really don't. Listen to me, will you please? I was silly, I shouldn't have called you. I did and I'm sorry, all right? I mean, you dusted me off. You were right."
"Now you're the one that's being silly. You ought to cut it out." She let him object. "Yes, you are," she said. "Calling me up all those times after... yeah and at all hours, and bothering me at work; bothering my co-workers. I mean, you cursed poor Evelyn out for no good reason, Lou!" She paused to listen, then said, "Really, Lou, heavy breathing?"
She realized he no longer held the upper hand in their so-called relationship. "Aren't you too old for that kind of thing?" she paused, and then said, "Well, I am, even if you aren't. You and Meg got a thing going, why not stick with it and forget me?"
"Well," she said, "I assumed you were drunk... or stoned, or maybe both. That goes without saying." She let him talk again. She dropped her right hand from her left elbow and moved her feet apart. She stood with her right hand clenched at her side, and the knuckles on her left hand whitened as she gripped the phone tighter. "Uh-uh, Lou," she said, and paused. In a monotone, she said, "I said: 'Uh-uh,' is what I said. No, no. I admit it, when I called...."
Lou interrupted her. When he'd finished, Laura said, "I guess you're right. A good lay was exactly what I needed. And I got one, no thanks to you. So forget it, all right? And no, I'm not interested in a three-way with you and Meg."
She waited. She tucked the headset tight against her ear. "What did you just say? You care to repeat that?" She waited, took a deep breath. "Lou, don't be an asshole," she said, then listened to him. "Don't be a fucking asshole. Don't even say things like that, Lou. Now you just listen to me. If you ever, ever, say that to me again, I'll call the police and report you." She waited. "Oh, yes, I will. I'll turn your ass in. Now fuck off!"
Laura slammed the receiver down and stalked back into the kitchen, walking on her heels, the bra still open and her breasts jiggling. She went to the coffee maker and poured a cup. The phone rang again. Ignoring it, she went for the milk and added some to the coffee. The phone rang again, and she cursed remembering she had shut off the answering machine. "Shit!" she said, and moved quickly into the bedroom and picked up the extension as it rang for the third time.
"Yeah?" she said fiercely into the receiver. "Oh, Val," she said, totally flustered. "No, no, it's all right. I thought you were someone else." She paused, "No, a former admirer with nothing better to do. You know, one of those guys who won't take no for an answer."
"No, I'm not seeing anyone special at the moment," she said, and began worrying a cuticle on her free hand as Val continued talking.
Laura stood motionless for a moment and listened.
"I'd like that. Yes, I'd like that very much, Val. You know, I've wanted to get out more and this sounds like a ... yes, exactly. So he's a new client of Joe's? A grubby Italian ... Val, be nice ... no, I'm not laughing. I mean, how bad can the guy be?"
She started to hook her bra, but dropped it to scratch an itch on her right nipple as Val provided more details. "I'd love to," Laura said. "Will Joe be there as well?" Her face lit up, and she traced her cleavage with the tip of her right forefinger. "Oh, I'd love to," she said, then paused. "I gathered that from what you said," she said. "Don't worry, I'm a big girl. I can handle him." But she giggled like a little girl, and said, "Call me around nine. Oh, what are you wearing?" she listened, and said, "Great, I'll wear something similar, all right?"
Laura hung up after some more small talk, went back to the kitchen, and finally got around to fastening her bra while singing a popular tune from a Broadway musical she'd seen a month before at Thalian Hall. She looked at herself in the full-length mirror, rolled her lips together, and turned to gaze at her profile. Still looking at herself, she reached down and opened a drawer containing her sweaters. She took out a white cotton one and held it up against her. It had a scoop neckline. She nodded and, putting the sweater down on the top of the bureau, she unhooked the bra and took it off. She put the sweater on over her head, settled herself in the garment by moving her shoulders.
She looked at herself critically in the mirror, cocked her head to the left, then the right, and shrugged to see whether her nipples protruded. They did not. She rubbed the cloth against them to gauge whether she would find the friction comfortable during a full hot day. She decided that she would, and pulled the sweater off and put the bra back on. She tried the sweater again and studied herself in the mirror. She looked at herself ruefully in the mirror and waggled her forefinger at her image. "No, no, no," she said.
From Joe Marcolina's perspective the dinner was a success. Val was the nearly perfect wife. The food was exceptional for Wilmington, which did not have liquor by the drink in place yet, requiring Joe to bring a bottle of 12 year-old Scotch to placate his client, John Gaudiouso.
"So, what business are you in, Mr. Gaudiouso?" Val inquired, as Joe surreptitiously filled their glasses with the smoothly aged Scotch.
Gaudiouso's eyes darted over at Joe before answering. "Um, import and export. Mostly my firm brings olive oil into the states, but we ship a wide variety of products out," he paused to wipe his thick lips with a napkin, "ah, to Italy, of course, but a little to Germany and France, and a few odds and ends to the Middle East."
"Do you do much traveling?" Val asked trying to draw Joe's client into a conversation so that Laura might find a footing and jump in. After all, that was why she had invited Laura to the dinner.
Joe ran interference for Gaudiouso by changing the subject. "Laura," he said, "that's an interesting broach you're wearing. Have you had it long?"
Val knew a cue when she heard one and remained quiet. Laura, caught off guard, fumbled her answer at first, then gained some confidence and soon had everyone, including Gaudiouso listening to her story of how her late grandmother had bequeathed the broach to her, and how it had been in her family for over a hundred years.
Gaudiouso surprised them, saying, "Family is very important. I mean, not only to me, but to everyone. When all is said an' done, family is all you got."
Both Val and Laura winced at his poor language, but neither male at the table noted it. After the meal, the ladies excused themselves and headed off to powder their noses. Joe and Gaudiouso quickly got down to business.
"Can you do this thing for me?"
"Yes," Joe responded quickly, hoping he wouldn't go into the details with anyone nearby capable of eavesdropping.
"Good," Gaudiouso said, wiping his mouth with the napkin for the twentieth or thirtieth time that night. "I want it quick and efficient. No one knows but you and me."
"You should have a back up, John," Joe said, meaning well.
"I don't want no fuckin' back up! You understand this, and understand it good. This is business between you and me. No one else gets involved, capiche?"
"Yes, yes, of course, John. But you do understand that should something happen to you, the funds will remain in the Cayman account. Your family or close friends won't be able to access it."
"Something happens to me, I don't give a fuck about the money no more. I probably ain't gonna care about nothing then anyway. I'll be dead."
Joe's head gave an almost imperceptible nod. He certainly understood Gaudiouso's position. Gaudiouso uttered a belching laugh. "Maybe you're dead too."
Joe's hand began to shake and he held it under the table until he was able to quell the fear that had nearly overpowered him. "You, um, interested in Laura?" Joe asked, trying to change the subject to more pleasant matters.
"She gonna blow me in the parking lot?" Gaudiouso genially inquired.
"Um, no. No, I doubt that very much. She's a friend of Val's. Val thought you might like some feminine companionship during dinner.
"I don't need no companionship. I own three whore houses. I got all the pussy I want."
"All right," Joe said trying not to seem as if he were placating the man across the table from him. Gaudiouso seemed to sense this. "Look, this is a simple business deal. Keep it that way. I get the money to you, you put it into play. That's all you do, except maybe you take a little slice in commission. And I mean a little slice, understand?"
"Yes, I understand, completely," Joe said, as the ladies returned to the table.
The dinner ended a few minutes later, with Laura looking beseechingly at Val as Gaudiouso got up from the table and left the others looking after him.
"That's it, he's gone?" Laura said.
"Oh, I'm so sorry, Laura," Val said, and reached out to hug the other woman.
"He had another appointment," Joe said lamely. "He remembered it while you two were in the ladies room."
"He was rude, Joe," Val said, looking daggers at him. Joe took the hint and said, "Let me make a call, I think we can still make that show at the Thalian Center."
Val shrugged as he left to find a phone.
"And I thought I might get laid," Laura said with a wan smile. "I'll give you Joe...you want him?" Val said with a wry smirk. Then both women burst out laughing.
Over the next two months, Joe's client list grew. The client base was remarkably similar, although their personalities differed. Joe knew he was walking along treacherous ground, and carefully adhered to the instructions given him by each client; moving their monies wherever they told him to; always taking his percentage and sending it off to his own private account in the Cayman Islands.
Between his real estate holdings and the percentage taken from the huge amounts of money he was surreptitiously moving for his clients; Joe was becoming a very rich man. And, impressed with himself, he determined to acquire a mistress for himself.