Paul Spencer got an email from his mother every day, once she realized that email was very much more practical than postal delivery. But he did not read them every day, since some days he just did not have the time. Dodging bullets and bombs had a higher priority in Afghanistan, and it was a quiet week when he could reply to her more than twice.
He read the messages, however, and therefore knew that his parents had become good friends with a couple named Ronald and Ruth Cartwright in the last year. He had heard a great deal about them and to some extent looked forward to meeting them when he came home.
But as it happened, he did not, at least for a while, when he returned. The Cartwrights had left for a month in Europe one week before the US Army sent Paul home for good. That is to say, the Cartwrights that he knew about.
His mother had never mentioned that the middle-aged couple had a grown (adopted) daughter. She had been adopted as an orphan living with her father's brother's widow, though there was evidence for thinking that she might be a blood relative.
Jocelyn Cartwright was three-quarters Vietnamese and one-quarter Caucasian, and it was suspected that the one-quarter was from the older brother of Ronald Cartwright, now deceased. Also deceased were her mother and grandmother, who might have confirmed or dispelled the uncertainty.
It was certain, however, that Jocelyn Cartwright was slim, intelligent, articulate, and beautiful. Since Paul Spencer had to spend two weeks living with his parents before his own apartment was ready again, and Jocelyn Cartwright was staying in that same large house while her parents were away, Paul learned this quickly and had it reinforced daily for two weeks.
Jocelyn was twenty-one and about to enter her senior year of college in September. Paul was twenty-four and had to be reintegrated into the law firm he worked at about the same time. So the two young people had quite a lot of free time with each other that fairly cool August.
They were attracted to each other right away, the slim exotic woman and the tall handsome man, and the physical lure (and proximity, even to having bedrooms facing each other) was increased by the discovery that heir personalities were also well matched.
After the first day together, they talked endlessly - or so it seemed to Paul's mother, who did not take into account the time they spent driving around or walking together or (out of sight of his parents) kissing or holding hands or gentle bodily explorations after the first week.
Two days before Paul was to leave the large house and return to his apartment, he accompanied Jocelyn upstairs and escorted her down the hall.
"Good night - dear!" he whispered, pressing her left hand. "You are the most wonderful guest this house has ever known!"
She warmed with pleasure at his words and her lips parted in a grateful smile. She glanced about to make sure they were unobserved, and then the parted lips were placed on his to admit his darting tongue in allegory of another entry. His hand pressed her body to his and held it for a moment.
Gently she withdrew his fingers from their grasp, and glided to the door of her room. Hand on the doorknob, she whispered back over her shoulder.
"Thank you, Paul - and pleasant dreams!"
Both stared raptly - and some sort of telepathic communication seemed to pass between them. Both sighed and entered their respective rooms.
Hearts throbbing, nerves, tingling, minds seething with erotic thoughts, they prepared for bed...
Paul's memory was working like a movie projector, flashing before his mind's eye mental moving pictures, as upon a vast screen, of things seen and remembered, and through the scenes of the past two weeks moved the face and figure of his leading lady, Jocelyn Cartwright.
He saw her as she appeared on his arrival, leaning forward with her hand extended in greeting, a daintily slippered foot at the end of a slim rounded calf, reaching out and rising from the chaise. Lips of coral red parted slightly over even white teeth, dark eyes alight with pleasurable anticipation, breasts trembling slightly in the front of her garment.
He saw her as she appeared days later at a swimming pool, an aquamarine suit exposing lovely legs to the hips, their sweet calves and strong thighs flashing in the sunlight, hips swaying as she moved, breasts bobbing as she dived, bare arms gleaming as she sped down the water.
He saw her as she was at a music concert this very night, when she took the chance to dress up, cool and calmly poised, stunningly beautiful in a backless gown, arms and shoulders rising from the decolletage like fluid statuary, their smooth satiny skin the shade of sandalwood...
He saw her as she ascended the stairs with him, dark-haired head slightly inclined, lips curved in a slight smile, thighs softly swishing in the clinging sheath of her dress.
He saw her as she bid him good night, cheeks suffused with a delicate shade of dark rose, almond eyes burning deep into his, conveying a message unmistakable...
Paul stepped from his shorts and reached for his pajamas. Into his mind came a picture not from memory but imagination fueled by desire, of Jocelyn in a white translucent negligee. And that in tuen became an image of her body with no adornment at all...
For a brief instant he envisioned her so, and then, heaving a deep sigh, he slipped into his pajamas, snapped out the light, and threw himself upon the bed.
Stretching sensuously, he relaxed and closed his burning eyes.
Jocelyn leaned against the closed door of her room, breathing excitedly. Her moist lips were parted over gleaming teeth, and the flush of her cheeks had deepened. One hand lay on her breast, as though to calm her throbbing heart.
"Oh, he's the one!" she whispered to herself. "I adore him!"
Then, turning to the dresser, she sank down upon a chair and began to disrobe.
The light fell kindly upon her slender ankles and slim calves as, raising her gown above her knees, she slipped off her shoes. It shone on a dimpled knee and showed the under curve of one faultless thigh, as she crossed one ankle upon the opposite leg. It brought a satiny lustre to her tan flesh.
Rising, she unfastened her backless gown, and with a wriggling, writhing movement, pushed it down over her swaying hips, stepping barefooted and attired only in panties - for her breasts were small enough to allow omitting a brassiere.
She paused to reflect that they were large enough to feed babies - the ones she was now sure she wanted to have with Paul Spencer.
"Oh, he's perfect!" she whispered. "He's a darling!"
The next instant she had wriggled out of her panties and was standing nude in the bright light.
For just a moment, she was sorry there was nobody but herself to see and appreciate the beauty reflected by the mirror. Too bed Paul wasn't here! She wondered if he, too, was planning to retire, and if his mirror was as kind to him, in a masculine way, as hers was to her. Tall and broad-shouldered, he should be remarkably well-developed physically, she felt.
She though of one part of him in particular, a part she knew about only from pictures and descriptions, and wondered if that was also - well-developed.
For a brief instant, she permitted herself to dwell on a fantasy or rather several in succession, then blushed from head to toe, bringing a rich glow to her entire body. Sighing and wishing, she hastened to don her nightgown in a futile attempt to cool her internal fires of desire.
Snapping out the light, she reclined upon the luxurious bed. A shiver of pure rapture rippled deliriously through her, and encircling the pillow with one bare arm, she nestled down tosleep.
The interior of Paul's chamber was almost wholly dark except for a broad shaft of starlight that slanted in through the window and fell obliquely upon the floor.
He had been in bed a short time when a faint sound drew his attention to the door, and he saw it opening slowly inward, as though being pushed by unseen hands. From a narrow crack, the opening gradually widened, as the door swung slowly around, and in the opening, with the dim light from the hall at her back, stood a woman!
Jocelyn! - draped in a long negligee so transparent in texture that it appeared as a veil of mist hanging up her shoulders. Her bare arms were reaching out stiffly in front of her, in the groping attitude of a somnambulist. Could it be that Jocelyn walked in her sleep?
Paul gasped as he glimpsed her; then almost held his breath, electrified by the shock to her soul and senses.
The light in the made of her a thing of beauty unsurpassed, a creature of incredible allure. Through the mist of thin fabric that enshrouded her, her body was clearly visible; not in the tones of her golden flesh, but in opaque shadow, darkly intriguing, mysteriously beautiful. Its curves and contours were vividly outlined; its tapering slim legs, columnar and slightly parted, were delightfully noticeable, and the shadow between them that was more than a shadow especially inviting.
She passed a moment, as if searching the interior of the room, then stepped noiselessly in and closed the door behind her.
With the light from the hall shut out, the corner of the room was again in darkness. Paul could scarcely discern the vague white blur that was her night-gowned figure. But his keen ears detected a faint rustling sound, such as would be made by legs rubbing against a loosely draped garment, and he knew that she was moving forward in the dark.
Presently, her bare feet glided into the shaft of starlight that slanted obliquely across the floor. Again he saw her exposed in daring silhouettes, her body now appearing darker by contrast to the silvery light, her negligee floating about her like a fleecy mist. And he saw that she was stealthily creeping toward the bed in which he lay.
As though entranced, he watched the subtle undulations of her waist, the steady forward strides of her legs as alternately, she placed one foot before the other. And he was fascinated, as a trapped bird is fascinated by the hypnotic movements of a snake. Though here was no true predator, and mutual prey.
The dark shadow grew larger, until it seemed to tower above him, shutting out the starlight, imprisoning him in warm scented darkness, barring all means of escape. He felt the woman's sensuous warmth, smelled her exotic fragrance - sensed that she was leaning closer, hovering over him as the embodiment of some destiny or impending fate.
He gasped, and fell limply back upon the pillows, overcome by sheer emotional excitement.
He heard then the soft rustle of fabric as it rose up and then fell again, now to his bedroom floor. While the light remained minimal, his eye now could make out details that he had never seen but only wondered at.
A faint creak of the springs informed him that the woman had seated herself upon the edge of the bed; he felt the yield of the mattress beneath her weight. He saw the shadow-shape of face and head framed by tousled hair, and knew that she was leaning slowly toward him, open arms reaching to enfold him in their ardent embrace.
Her dark almond eyes, fringed by long curling lashes and glowing with flames of smoldering fire, gleamed possessively from the shadows, and as they came closer they seemed to grow longer, deeper, blacker - almost terrifying!
Then her soft warm arms enfolded his head, twining like clinging vines about his neck. He heard the fervent pounding of her heart beneath velvety skin, and was almost suffocated by the fragrance that rose from her bosom.
A bosom that when touched brought strong reactions, as soft cries could be heard by him when he was not kissing her lips and felt by him when he was.
For what may have been moments or long minutes he fondled her upper body, and when his hand descended, he found Jocelyn in another place even softer and more receptive as his fingers danced about her there until her hips snapped upward in a primal reflex.
She rested only a moment before her own hand crept into his pajamas and found the object of some fantasies over perhaps ten years, but more frequently and specifically in the last two weeks.
"It feels so big!" she cried in wonder.
"Not, I hope, too much so," he replied.
"Oh, so do I! But please go slow at first."
Paul removed his pajamas in a moment and they kissed again, now skin to skin and with his log of flesh against her stomach where her soft fingertips stroked it.
In time Jocelyn moved to her back and Paul moved over her, at first lying above her body and between her open legs to kiss her again and let her feel the pressure from his desire for her. Then he moved down and placed the end of his erection at her opening.
"I want you so much," she whispered.
"I want you," he returned, and moved his hips.
As she had requested, he was slow and gentle and careful and it was only on his third little thrust that he learned something about Jocelyn that he had never suspected - that she had come to his bed this night to become a woman, that she was giving him her virginity.
The breaking of that barrier awakened a hunger greater than he thought she could have, one not satisfied by the peak she reached in less than a minute, not by the one that followed, not by the one after that. They made love for what seemed like an hour, until he felt the pressure that told him he was about to explode with her eager athletic body.
He felt her contract within as she reached a climax once again, and he awoke to find himself kicking at the bedclothes.
"God, what a dream!" he groaned, mopping a damp and burning brow. "And Jocelyn - what a woman!"
Rising shakily, he moved to the window, raised it, and leaned upon the sill, staring out into the calm breathless night. The cool air fanned his fevered face and blew delightfully through his thin pajamas. The bright gleaming stars seemed to be winking shyly at him, as though enjoying a secret he did not possess.
He brooded for a moment and turned away.
It seemed to Jocelyn that she had scarcely closed her eyes when she sensed in her room a presence other than she own. Some indefinable instinct - perhaps sixth sense - whispered that she was not alone. It was silly of course, absurd, yet the feeling persisted.
She lay very still and quiet, keeping her eyes closed tightly. The silence frightened her, though it should have allayed her fears of another presence. She breathed in quick short gasps. Her heart hammered against her ribs with the rapidity of a steel riveter. Her blood raced swiftly; a series of delicious thrills coursed through her tingling nerves.
Presently, her straining ears detected a sound like that of deep breathing, and she was conscious of someone creeping up close beside her bed. She felt a burning gaze upon her, staring down at her recumbent figure. It was a stare that both caressed and violated; it gave intense pleasure, yet also inspired fear. She wondered if the sheet completely covered her, if the bottom of her negligee had crept upward, exposing her legs, during the night.
Then she gave a violent start, and her heart almost popped out of her mouth, as she felt a hand upon her shoulder. Instinctively - for she dared not open her eyes - she knew it was a man's hand.
"Paul?" she whispered.
"Yes," came the reply.
"Oh, yes, yes!"
Now, she was glad! Her soul sang a little song of rapture. For she knew that the visitor was the man whom she loved and adored.
The hand caressed her bare shoulder, then grasped the top of the coverlet and began to fold it back from her body. She felt cooler air creeping downward, inch by inch, and presently felt it tickling the soles of her bare feet. She knew that she must be greatly exposed, yet she made no effort to rise or cry out. She wished for more of it, and for greater light, to see Paul's eyes upon her bare flesh. She seemed to be in a state of dreamy blissful stupor, awake only to the miracle of unusually heightened sensation.
She heard the faint creak of the floor, as the intruder moved cautiously here and there, heard the gentle sigh of his excited breathing. A rich wave of warm desire surged through her, suffusing her tingling body with new thrills. She gave a tremulous little sign and hugged her pillow closely.
She endeavored to remain as quiet as possible, lest she frighten her lover away, and he apparently move with equal caution, lest he rouse others from slumber.
When she felt the weight of his body beside her in her bed, and her hand touched the bare skin of his waist, she knew that he had discarded his pajamas - or that he slept nude and had come to her that way.
If the latter - how many future nights would she feel that muscular body against hers, on hers?
He raised his head to bring his lips down on hers, and he hand slid down to grasp the growing cylinder at his loins. She felt it grow further, then she broke off the kiss to lean forward and give him another one, a far more special one, one she had never considered giving a man.
She heard him gasp as her lips took in the end of what she had helped erect, what she wanted to feel bridge between their bodies. But that lasted only seconds, for she wanted him to take control and take her to other places she had never been.
His hand moved below her nightgown, touching and caressing, exciting and arousing, and when her clothing was pushed back and the joining of her legs was first laid bare and then covered by a strong masculine body, she softly said:
"Be gentle. You are my first."
And he replied, "I want you to be my last."
If there was any discomfort from her first entry, it was swallowed up entirely in the world of exquisite sensation that she felt. The explosions of passion that she felt were far more intense than what her hand had given her over the years since she reached puberty, and she was building to what seemed something greater than them all...
There was no man beside her, let alone closer. She was alone in the room! The coverlet had slipped to the floor, and her pulsating, passion-stirred body was being fanned by a cool breeze that blew in the open window.
"Oh, Paul!" she moaned, "why couldn't you have been real? You and your adorable body?"
Stifling a sob and turning it into a shaky laugh, she slid her bare feet to the floor and rose permitting her negligee to fall loosely into place.
She stood a moment, breathing deeply, then crept on bare feet to the door, opened it and peered into the hall.
It must have been fate or some sudden working of telepathic communication that brought Paul and Jocelyn from sleep, doubly aroused, about the same time. They opened the doors of their respective rooms almost simultaneously.
When Jocelyn glanced up, she saw Paul in his pajamas; when Paul turned his head, he saw Jocelyn in her negligee!
"Jocelyn!" he whispered.
"Paul!" she breathed.
Then both were silent, staring across the hallway, each at the other. In their staring eyes was mutual admiration, coupled with expressions of intense yearning - the desire to fulfill the dreams they had just experienced.
Jocelyn's black hair tumbled in disarray about her face; her eyes glowed with smoldering fires, and her lips were loosely parted. Paul was flushed and disheveled, his brow still wet though he had wiped it with a handkerchief.
It was Jocelyn who first found voice. "What is it, Paul?" she asked. "What has happened?"
Paul looked suddenly confused. "Oh - why I've been having a dream," he said embarrassedly. "I couldn't sleep!"
Her almond eyes grew large and warm with what she felt was comprehension. A faint smile curved her parted lips. "I know what you mean," she whispered. "I have been dreaming too!"
"Of me?" he teased.
"Really?" - in pleased surprise. "And I was dreaming of you! We should tell each other what we dreamed."
"I would like something a little different from that," she breathed, advancing a step toward him.
"What?" he asked, moving out into the hall.
Somehow, their groping hands met and clung; he drew her soft yielding body into a tight embrace.
"I want to share my dream with you! Then compare," she whispered eagerly, drawing him onward.
"That would be wonderful. But a moment - to prevent a nightmare."
And while she waited in the hall, he opened his suitcase, removed a foil envelope that he never unpacked.
"It may be that her dreams match mine," he said to himself.
Then grasping his hand firmly - that hand that in her dream had caressed her so intimately - she drew him through the doorway of her room, and silently closed the door.