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A Cruise To Die For

Dave Horton

A Cruise To Die For

another Mike Claymore Mystery: George





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Characters and Chapter 1

A Cruise to Die For

MIKE CLAYMORE MYSTERY: George

  

A novel by David Horton

  

Copyright 2000

Characters Main Group:

Mike Claymore 31-year-old detective/truck driver (Main hero)

Marlene Claymore Mike’s pregnant wife and mother of their 3 children

Richard (Rick) Claymore 11 year old son of Mike and Marlene

Shelly Claymore 9 year old daughter of Mike and Marlene

Janet (Jan) Claymore 8 year old daughter of Mike and Marlene

Trudy Millicent Garneau 22 year old mistress of Mike and business partner

Crystal Garneau 8 year old daughter of Trudy and husband, Marcel

Shannon (Sam) Claymore 2 month old daughter of Mike and Trudy

Terry Claymore 34 year old brother to Mike

Nina Hart 28 year old common-law-wife of Terry Claymore

Cathy Claymore Hart 1 year old twin daughter of Nina Hart and Mike Claymore

Ann Claymore Hart 1 year old twin daughter of Nina Hart and Mike Claymore

Cruise Cast:

Captain: Jorge Kneilsen

Purser: Keith Younger

Radio Op: Jelly

Ships Security: S.O. Lance Pedersen

Ship’s Doctor: Dr. Watson

Servitor: Lui HuTang

Servitor: Lee Ptong

Servitor: Keeley Chow

Servitor: Georgie Wangtu

+ SS Sweden ‘Brilliance’ 898 staff

P.A.T. President Remy Sullivan (Pacific Amalgamated Trades)

P.A.T. Vice Pres. Cole Livingston

I.W.A. President George O’Brien (International Woodworkers of America – BC)

I.W.A. Secretary Linda Choy

I.W.A. Treasurer Timothy Carson

I.W.A. V. Pres. Kurt Brady

+ I.W.A. 694 delegates

C.U.P.E. President Charles Bradshaw (Canadian Union of Public Employees – BC)

C.U.P.E. Vice Pres. Harold Thiesson

+ C.U.P.E. 104 delegates

B.C.G.E.U. President Jack Dennison (BC Government Employees Union)

B.C.G.E.U. delegates Ralph (Jeanette) Marriott; Sammy Getz; Clifford Reagan

+ B.C.G.E.U. 344 delegates

Teamster’s delegates: Jack Zimmer, Lorne Gregson, and Chauncy

+ Teamsters 92 delegates

Cdn. Union of Mines Resources delegate Remic Knudsen

+ C.U.M.R. 47 delegates

USGE/PSAC delegate Ivy Curtis (Public Service Alliance of Canada)

USGE/PSAC delegate Cally Douglas (Union of Solicitor General Employees)

+ USGE/PSAC 38 delegates

+ Assorted unions 174 delegates

Janine Dempster, RCMP Insp.

Hans Kelleher – smuggler/drug dealer

Chapter 1

September 21/96

Sam is two month’s old today. Mike still can’t get used to calling her Sam. In his mind she is Shannon, the newest Claymore and the light of her father’s eyes. He advances the idea to Marlene he has been hatching in his mind the last few days since the reprieve.

“What we need is a chance to relax after all the tension this summer, love. I have checked and there is one more cruise this season up the coast. How about it? Two weeks, just the two of us and the sea? Can’t you see us sun bathing on the deck, swimming in the pool, playing shuffleboard and no phone, no meals to make, just relax and enjoy the scenery?”

“What about the kids?”

“I think your mom would love to have them for two weeks. She is always complaining she doesn’t see much of them.”

“What about your work?”

“I’ll tell CPX I want the time off. I’m sure Jerry can swing it for me. And Trudy has Chuck, Jack and Lily to rely on. What about it?”

“Hmm, you have it all worked out, don’t you?”

“Well, just about.” Mike can feel she is giving in. He has another reason for wanting to get her away. His love life has been sporadic with her ever since the charge of statutory rape was brought against him. Finally charges were dropped a few days ago but she is still cool. He hopes this trip will bring them close again.

Mike Claymore is a truck driver turned detective. He has a background in law enforcement and the military. He was born of an Iroquois mother and a Scottish father south of modern day Montreal. His wife, Marlene’s family is Scottish from the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada. Mike drives truck for C.P. Express and Transport (CPX) out of their western terminal in Port Coquitlam (Poco) just east of Vancouver. Recently in July a minor he picked up hitch hiking charged him with statutory rape. It was a case of a young woman he had scorned who sought to do him wrong and now she has dropped the charges.

Mike is also a partner in “Mike Claymore, Security Investigations”, a security firm with offices in Abbotsford and Chilliwack in the central Fraser Valley of British Columbia. This is a business he founded with the help of his mistress, Trudy Millicent Garneau, a former truck stop waitress and a canny business head as well as an investigator in her own right.

Sam is his daughter by Trudy and a fragile peace treaty of sorts exists between Marlene and the mistress. They have a grudging respect for each other but do not necessarily like the relationship Mike has imposed on them, that of sister wives. At this time Marlene is close to six month’s pregnant herself.

Mike goes on, “We have to make a decision today. This is the deadline for a decent suite. It’s the bargain of a lifetime. The cruise is laid on for the Pacific Amalgamated Trades of B.C. (PAT) convention and they will have about 1500 in attendance. It will be a leisurely thirteen days as opposed to the usual seven days and since the majority of the attendees are there for the convention, not the cruise, they will fill the inside cheaper rooms and the premium ocean view suites are at a rock bottom price. I have to call Carson Wagonlit Travel today if we are going. Take a look at these brochures while I get us some coffee, love. It’s the SS Sweden Brilliance.”

Mike brings fresh coffee back to the table. “What do you think?”

Marlene is pouring over the amenities for one of the Princess cruise ships.

“Uh hon, that is not the one we would be on,” he opens another brochure, “See, this is the Sweden Brilliance.” He reads the specs, “77,000 gross tonnage, 850 feet in length, with a crew of 850 and a capacity for 2,000 guests. It has 6 restaurants, 13 bars, 2 pools and 4 hot tubs. It even has a casino. See this shot of one of the rooms? The room has it’s own balcony.”

“Mmmmmmmm, I like the sound of that hot tub.” She looks up at Mike, “When is it sailing?”

“Next Saturday.”

“Oh Mike, that’s too soon. We couldn’t possibly go that soon.” She looks at the pictures again, “Could we?” She lifts her coffee to sip it.

“Hon, we have always said we would like to take this cruise and it is never going to come up with a bargain like this again.”

She rubs her stomach, “What about the baby?”

“Well, we are borderline there. You will be pretty close to the 24-week limit so we will have to get a certificate from your doctor. I don’t think that will be a problem. They have adequate medical people aboard the cruise ship.”

“Will we have to get passports?” Marlene is definitely considering the possibility of going now and getting excited about it.

“Our birth certificates and our driver’s licenses are all that is required.”

“Will we have one of those rooms with the balconies?”

“If I can swing it we will have a suite with a balcony. Mary Ann said the luxury accommodations are those that are easiest gotten on this voyage. Of course some of the upper echelon in PAT will grab swanky quarters but a lot of them are empty.”

“Two whole weeks?”

“Well, thirteen days. It’s seven days up to Seward and Anchorage, and then six back to Vancouver. It includes inside passage cruising to Prince Rupert to pickup union members from the Queen Charlotte’s and Prince Rupert/Prince George area, then on to Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. There are a couple of days cruising the glaciers and the fiords, then the return passage down through the inside straights again. We will have time to explore around Juneau if you want and we can go ashore at any of the stops. A lot of the extra passengers who are not with the convention will be going one way and flying home from Anchorage. I thought we would take the round trip route.”

“When do we have to make the final decision?”

Mike grins, “Now! The sooner the better. Mary Anne says she has to have the funds in her hands today to get us on board. It’s only a week away. I just found out yesterday.” Mike says further, “She only mentioned it when I saw her in the credit union. I suppose she is trying to get friends to take advantage of this bargain before its gone, and she knows I’ve talked about it before to her.”

Marlene expresses wonder, “Whew! You better call Trudy and see what she thinks. Let’s go for it if we can.”

Mike looks relieved as he goes down the stairs to his basement office. He dials their Chilliwack office number. “Good morning, you have reached the offices of Mike Claymore Security Investigations. May I help you?”

“Trudy, it’s Mike.”

“Yep, I recognize your voice, boss. What’s up?”

Mike grins, “Not me, at least not right now.” He laughs.

“Come on down here and we’ll take care of that,” she answers coquettishly.

“Maybe later. How would you like to get rid of me for a couple of weeks?”

“Two weeks? Are you off to Ontario?”

“Nope. Celebrating the dropping of those charges. Think I am going to take Marlene on an Alaskan cruise. What do you think?”

“Gonna take me on one when you get back?” she is chuckling.

“It won’t be long and you will be riding with me in the truck again.”

“That’s not a cruise.”

Mike sighs, “I know but we will figure in a side trip or two. We always do, don’t we?”

“Okay darling. When are you going and what are you going to do with the kids?”

“They’re going to grandma’s and we sail next Saturday.”

“Wow! That’s short notice!”

Mike goes on to explain the bargain he has been offered. He inquires about his daughter and then tells her he still has to call CPX and get the go ahead from them. Trudy quickly gets his approval for some business and lets him go.

Mike calls CPX dispatch and talks with Jerry.

“When will you be back, Mike?”

“Scheduled to arrive back in Vancouver harbour on the 11th of October, Jerry. How does the long range work situation look.”?

“Most of the guys on summer holidays will be back this week. I can’t see any problems with it Mike, go for it.”

“Thanks, Jerry. I will let you know for sure as soon as we have our tickets. Anything scheduled for this week?”

“Nothing right now but Monday morning might be different. I’ll call if we have anything.”

Mike drives a Kenworth K-100 with full sleeper and he hauls for CPX throughout British Columbia, Alberta and into Saskatchewan. He has promised his wife he will not take the long hauls across the continent but he finds local runs boring. He drove truck first when he was young for the Navy and found it got into his blood. He keeps it up now to supplement his income.

Marlene drops in his office coming from the washing she is doing in the utility room next door. “What did Trudy say?”

“It’s okay with her and I just called Jerry at CPX. He says it works for him, too.”

“I better call Mom,” she exits up the stairs. She calls back to him, “That was till the 11th, right?”

“Yes dear and ask her if they have any plans. Rick could go down and help Trudy.”

“Okay,” comes from the upper floor. Mike sees the light appear on his phone and hears her voice in the distance. He draws out today’s fax from Trudy and looks over what is happening. It looks like Jack and Lily are working in Langley. Chuck has the day off and Trudy herself is doing some skip tracing by phone. Mike checks back in some files and he scribbles a note on a pad. He makes a note to himself to check with Trudy on how much business they are getting from the Langley area. Since Chuck lives there and the duo of Jack and Lily live in New Westminster just beyond there it might warrant a closer look at expanding into that market.

In his mind he assesses the attributes of his staff. Chuck has a background in private security but is devoted and does a fine job. He is an old friend. Jack White comes from the RCMP on a disability pension but also is very reliable and has had experience in the fields where Mike’s work lies. The other member of the team is Lily, a Chinese emigrant to Canada and formerly employed as an undercover drug laws enforcement officer in Singapore. She and Jack live together and are a terrific team.

If he had to pick one for an office manager he is not sure which it would be. He dwells on it and finally thinks he would choose Lily. The other two could work with her and not feel they had been overlooked for promotion. Marlene calls down to him.

“Mom is delighted. Mike, I think both girls and Rick is too much to ask of her. I am going to see if Richard will help Trudy. Okay?”

Mike is coming up the stairs now, “Okay, I said that might be a good idea.”

He hears her giggle, “Not going to let me grab the credit for that idea, eh?” They laugh together as he hugs her.

Mike says, “I think this holiday is just what we need. By the way, where are the kids this morning?”

“Rick and Julie are over to the arena skating, her mother picked him up.” She gets an edge to her voice, “And don’t you go getting any ideas.” Julie’s mother, Sadie, is a stripper in a local nightclub. Mike calls her Shady Sadie and he has had many late night meetings with her in the past.

“And Shelly and Jan?”

“The girls are at mom’s for the day. She’s taking them to the circus in Langley. She wanted me to join them but I have a washing in and shopping to do this afternoon. How about you? I thought you were going down to Trudy’s?”

“I thought I might go down to Sunny Meadows and close up the trailer for the season. Do you think we are likely to use it again this year?”

Marlene thinks this over, “Seems a shame to call it a season so early. Don’t you think we might get away again before it gets too cold?”

“Okay, let’s leave it for now.” They have a trailer at a local nudist park and find that is a great way to relax when they can get away. “Want me to come along shopping with you?”

“No! Good heavens, no. You know you hate shopping.” Marlene looks a bit upset at the idea.

“I may go over and wash the truck. Guess my car could use a bath, too.”

Mike drives a ‘69 candy apple red mustang convertible. “Maybe I will drop by the police station on my way out and catch up on the latest.” He watches Marlene’s reactions to this and sees she is agitated.

“The Matsqui Police?”

Mike let’s her stew a few minutes as he reads a brochure, “No, the RCMP station was what I had in mind. I’ve seen enough of Ken the last few months.” Ken is the local police chief of the Matsqui Police, a force operated by the towns of Abbotsford, Clearbrook and Matsqui. The RCMP operates in the area as highway patrol on the freeway and cover federal offences within the towns. Marlene went to school with the chief and Trudy has told Mike that she thinks Marlene may be seeing him on the side. Mike has yet to catch her at it but he is becoming convinced she might be. Mike finishes his coffee and goes to his office for his cell phone and briefcase.

He comes back up and in the kitchen silently steals up behind Marlene to tug her apron string and undo it. She laughs and slaps at his hand as she reaches back to refasten it. Mike slips an arm around her and kisses her. “See you at suppertime then. I will grab some lunch in Poco or Mission since I will be stopping there at Carson Wagonlit to see Mary Ann first.”

Marlene waves at him as he passes the side window on his way to his car. Mike pulls out onto Marshal Road in Abbotsford and swings left at the stoplight. He passes the Abbotsford hospital and heads across town. He glances at his watch and pulls in at Tim Horton’s Restaurant. He sees one RCMP cruiser in the lot but sits in his car waiting. He dials his cell phone.

“Good morning, Carson Wagonlit Travel, can I help you?”

“Is Mary Ann there, please?”

“Hold on a minute.” The female voice is familiar but he can’t put a face with it. She comes back again, “Mary Ann is with a customer. Can I tell her who is calling?”

“Tell her it’s Mike Claymore and I will take her up on her offer.”

“I’ll tell her. Will you hold for an answer?”

“Yes.” Mike looks around and sees the RCMP officer leaving the restaurant. He looks familiar so he nods and moves his hand in a greeting gesture. The officer must know his car because he smiles and waves back as he gets into his cruiser.

“Are you there?”

“Yes,” intones Mike into the phone.

“Mary Ann wants to know if you will be in today?”

“Yes, within the hour and with the funds.”

“Excellent. She says see you then.”

“Thank you,” Mike clicks on end and clips the phone to his belt. He goes into the restaurant. He orders coffee and consults his watch again. He gets a seat in a quiet corner and waits. Two cruisers approach each other in the street and slow down. They exchange words and the one puts on her signal light to come into Tim Horton’s. Mike smiles as he sees the other cruiser go on down the street. He waits for Janine to join him.

She comes in and heads right to his table nodding at the attendant as she goes by. “I saw your car out front,” she seats herself across from him. “Jimmy might be back. He’s just dropping off some reports at the office.”

The attendant brings coffee and doughnuts, “Anyone else joining you? I brought a few.”

Janine smiles, “Thanks buddy.” She turns to Mike, “Want one?”

Mike rubs his stomach, “Better not, I sure don’t need it,”

Janine laughs and says, “Me either but they’re habit forming.” She whispers, “Good thing you help me wear them off,” and stirs her coffee. “What’s up? I didn’t expect to see you here on a Saturday morning.”

“Just on my way over to Mission and Poco. I thought I might catch you here. Something’s come up and I’ll be out of town a couple of weeks.”

“Going back east?”

Mike chuckles, “You and Trudy, you think alike. No, Marlene and I are taking an Alaskan cruise. We are leaving next Saturday. Should be back the 11th.”

Janine looks a bit puzzled, “Why didn’t you tell me before?”

“It came up sudden like. A friend gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse yesterday. Do you know Mary Ann at Carson Wagonlit in Mission?”

“No, never heard of her.”

“Well she has this deal on a last voyage of one of the cruise ships that is over half full of trade unionists on a convention. She has a bunch of first class staterooms on this cruise at rock bottom prices. She only told me yesterday.”

“Wow, that’s neat! I should take some holidays and join you guys.”

“Uh, do you think that’s wise? A ship is pretty close quarters for us to hide our relationship.”

“I doubt I could get leave that fast.” Janine looks thoughtful. “Marlene has never met me though,” she sniggers, “I could get a good look at that wife of yours at last.”

Mike hisses, “Janine, not wise at all!”

She rests her hand on his, “Fear not, lover. Will we get a chance to get together again before you go?”

“What you doing tonight?”

“Oh, not tonight. How about Tuesday night?”

Mike pauses, “That might work. What you got in mind?”

“A cosy tête-à-tête at home. My roommate will be out of town.”

Mike ponders, “I’ll see what I can do. Sounds good.” Just then another officer arrives and heads for their table. Mike pulls his hand back and says, “Jimmy, won’t you join us?”

The two uniformed officers exchange conversation and Mike begs off saying he has to get over to Mission. He waves to them as he leaves. He heads right out the Abby-Mission highway to Mission and pulls into the credit union mall within half an hour.

Mary Ann is delighted to see him and she hands him the final figures for the voyage. Mike goes over it with her adding some stops ashore and other amenities then goes next door to the credit union to get the funds. Within an hour he is finished and they are booked for the trip. Mike enjoys the friendly personal service he gets at the Mission branch of the Fraser Valley Credit Union and has maintained an account here for a few years. He has gotten them an oceanview stateroom with balcony on the third deck up from the main deck with easy access to the pool and sports deck above. They will have about 200 square feet of living space, twin beds that can be attached to make a double and a sitting room area with sliding glass door to the balcony. That coupled with a small bathroom will comprise their space on the voyage. Mike is pleased. He calls home when he has everything settled but there is no answer.

He goes on to Port Coquitlam and around to the CPX yards. He leaves the car in the lot and chats for a moment with the Commissionaire on duty before he goes back to the truck parking area. Soon he has his blue monster clunking and warming up. Black smoke bellows skyward as the power plant rattles and shakes itself into life. Mike leaves the controls to climb into his sleeper and do some tidying up in there. He heaves a bag of garbage onto the console followed by a bag of linen for the bunk. Climbing back out over the console he pushes them into the passenger seat and seats himself.

With a crash of releasing air breaks he coasts forward and let’s out his clutch without a noticeable jerk, applies power with the accelerator and wheels around to the truck washing bay. One of the tractors from the east is just leaving the bay and they toot on their air horns at each other. Mike’s cab over Kenworth fills the bay and grey smoke fills the air high in the enclosure. He shuts her down and swings down from the cab.

When he is finished with the truck he parks it back in the line up and goes for his car. Into it he piles his laundry from the truck and the garbage goes into a nearby dumpster. He babies his convertible and cleans it with loving hands, almost caressing it at times. After a stop in the office to chat with Jerry, the dispatcher, he heads for home. It’s around three and he figures he will be in home by four or a bit after. He takes his time and is pulling into his driveway about half past four.

Marlene is putting away groceries as he comes in. She is cheerful and in a good mood. “Did you get the cruise settled?”

“Yep, got us a nice stateroom with balcony on the starboard. The view will be shoreward as we go north. Should be spectacular.”

“Oh wonderful, but what about the islands on the other side?”

“We’ll view them on our way back or we can go up to the observation area. Whatever we feel like at the time.”

“Oh Mike, you will have to get your tuxedo cleaned. I have to have a new gown, too. We must look good for the formal dinners.”

“If we attend them. We don’t have to. We can dine in one of the restaurants when they have their special dinners. There are six restaurants on board.”

“Mike, we must attend the dinners.” Marlene looks shocked he would think otherwise, “I suppose you would take me for pizza instead.”

Mike laughs, “Don’t worry love, we will take in the dinners.” He pauses, “Can I take my kilt?” He ducks as she swats at him. “I’ll get my tux and take it over now. They might be closed after supper.”

As Mike returns from the cleaners Marlene has supper on and Rick is looking starved. The girls are still with their grandmother. The three of them sit down to supper. Mike speaks to Rick, “Has your mother said anything to you about next week?”

Marlene says, “He just came in.” and Rick says at the same time, “I just got home, Dad.”

“Well, your mother and I are going out of town for two weeks and I was wondering if you would like to help Trudy for that time, rather than spending the time with your grandmother?”

Rick looks overjoyed, “You bet, I could help her a lot with the new baby.”

“I sort of thought that might be you feelings.” Mike looks to Marlene.

“Mike, what about school?”

“I suppose we will have to make arrangements for you to be out for two weeks. Can you handle catching up for it, Rick?”

“I can do some in my books each day while I am down at Chilliwack. I don’t think it will put me too far behind, Dad.”

“That’s great, son. Maybe when we get back you and I can take a weekend and go close the trailer down for the winter. We will take your rifle and I will teach you a bit about hunting.”

“Wow Dad that would be great! I’ve been wondering when I would get a chance to learn about using it.” The 30/30 was a gift that Rick got on the advent of his being accepted into adulthood in the early summer down in Ontario near the Six Nations reserve near Brantford. Rick, like his father, received his tribal name of Stout Willow from his mother after Mike’s brother coined the name on their visit. He is Stout Willow of the Wolf Clan of the Mohawks, a Tribe of the Iroquois Six Nations. He has learned real pride in his heritage from his father although his mother’s Scottish blood flows in his veins. Mike seeks to strengthen both heritages in his son. Marlene watches her men with a silent pride.

Chapter 2 September 23rd

Sunday had been rather uneventful but Monday morning finds Mike opening his eyes in the semi darkness of his sleeper parked overlooking an Okanogan lake just outside Penticton. He figures its about 6 am by the slant of the early morning fog shrouded sun pouring through the opening in the curtain. He tries to stretch without disturbing the soft blonde curls and the softer curves resting on his arm and chest. He reminisces about his late night call to Beatrice as he was heading out of Hope towards the Okanogan with a trailer load of goods for Zeller’s in Penticton. She asked what time he would be in and she was waiting for him in the Zeller’s parking lot.

Bea or Beatrice worked in the Skillet, the in store restaurant of Zeller’s and they enjoyed a purely sexual relationship ever since her boy friend dumped her because he thought she was pregnant. Bea is nineteen and caught Mike’s eye over a year ago when she was working in the Kamloops Zeller’s, when she teased him by swiping his company cap and sitting in his lap. They had only consummated their relationship this summer but already they both became aroused when they saw each other. It was a relationship of pure lust.

Now she sleeps peacefully with her head on his chest and her nude body draped over his. Mike’s arm tingles under her weight but he refrains from moving it. He runs over yesterday in his mind.

Marlene’s parents had brought the girls home after lunch and they had stayed for a rare visit in Mike’s house. Her mother disliked the situation Mike had created by taking a mistress so openly and she didn’t mind telling him so. That Trudy was also his partner in the security business made no difference or the fact that her daughter actually liked Trudy. Marlene’s father was less vocal about his objections but maintained a cool distance. He could be civil with Mike and still felt his daughter had done well in her marriage.

They left before supper and just as Mike was getting the call from CPX regarding the run he is on now. It’s a load to Zeller’s in Penticton, then on to Sicamous to pick up another pup for the coast. Mike will be in home tonight.

Bea stirs in her sleep and a contented smile slowly forms on her lips as she moves her fingers over his far shoulder. She shudders and presses her body closer to him tucking her bottom tight to him as she sleeps on. Mike feels a stirring in his loins and he holds his breath. Slowly he lets it out as he feels his penis stretching. He swears he can feel her pubic hairs with the head of it. The light covering is thrown so as to cover her bottom and not much else. He looks down on her lithe young body and studies the curves and planes of her shapely form. The sun is starting to warm the interior of the sleeper and it is getting brighter. Bea seems to sense his urgency in her sleep and unconsciously moves her bottom moving her sex in contact with his hardness. Slowly, languidly she moves her posterior to caress his shaft with her nether lips and she exhales a sigh. Mike moves his hips ever so slightly to further engage her softness and he feels the cool contact of wetness welling up from both of them. She moves her hips suddenly and comes awake. Deep blue eyes laugh up at him and he kisses her nose. “Good morning, sweetness.”

She has captured him and stretches holding him inside, “Good morning to you, lover,” she reaches to touch his lips with her own. “I’d love to wake up like this every morning.” Her words are a sigh as their lips meet. They kiss for a long time and slowly her hips start to undulate. Mike caresses her back and hips as she starts to move a bit faster. Their lips tear apart as a moan escapes her throat and she licks his lips, then as he helps support her she arcs down to lick his chest and nipples finally sitting upright to fully take him all in. Mike raises his head to play with her breasts with his teeth and lips as she starts to jounce up and down on him. He anchors her with his strong hands on her hips as she arches her back and lets out a loud cry. Collapsing on him she gasps and Mike holds her close, moving slowly inside her feeling her spasms shake her body. As her breathing steadies Mike takes the lead and they start again. It is nearly eight before they are through and ready to face the day.

Mike speaks quietly, “What time do you have to be in to work?”

She traces his chest with a wet finger, “Not till nine. What time is it?”

Mike checks his watch, “Just after eight. We better get on our way.”

“I have to pee.” She blushes at this. She is in a light robe now from her pack. Mike has pulled his robe over his shoulders as they sit on the bunk with luke warm coffee from his thermos.

“So do I,” he muses, “I didn’t see any washrooms here when we pulled in last night. Want to squat by the truck with me?”

She laughs nervously and now she is red, “I think I have to.”

Mike goes over the console and helps her down. He has looked things over and no one is in sight, just the mist-covered lake and the early sun warming the land. Hurriedly she squats by the large tire and splashes in the grass. Mike holds her hand so she won’t fall off balance. Mike goes to help her back up but she balks with an impish grin. “Come on, you pee now. I am gonna hold your hand.”

Mike shrugs and parts his robe by the tire. Suddenly nothing will come. He chuckles and says, “I don’t seem to be able to.”

Bea laughs and says, “Come on now, you said you had to go, too.”

“Well, I did but not now, I guess.”

“Are you embarrassed, lover?” She teases and Mike feels foolish. He tries harder to go and just as stubbornly his body refuses to cooperate. “Damn, that’s weird. I can’t go.”

Amid gales of laughter Bea says, “I will turn my back. Go ahead now.”

Mike is too tense now and he still can’t do anything. They give up and return to the tractor. Bea pulls her uniform out of her pack and starts to dress. Mike bails out the driver’s door and lands by the tire pissing. “Whew, just about didn’t make it!” Much relieved he returns to the sleeper and starts dressing for the day. Bea teases him unmercifully.

While they drive back to the store Mike tells her about his upcoming cruise. Her only comment is, “Don’t forget me, Mike. I live for your visits, you know.”

The warehouse crew have half the load off when Mike pulls in. He goes to have breakfast in the Skillet and Bea spends as much time as she can by his table chatting with him. He manages to get her in the cloakroom on the way out and kisses her goodbye. “No fear, my sweet Bea. You are ever in my mind.”

Mike makes good time with the empty trailer to Sicamous Husky truck stop. He unhooks the empty, hooks up to the westbound pup with cargo for the coast, and then hooks the empty pup on the rear. He ducks inside for a grilled cheese and coffee, gets his thermos filled and heads for the coast again via Kamloops and the Coquihalla highway. It is faster and better highway than the Okanogan route. By eight pm he is in Hope heading out into the Fraser Valley on the freeway. As he dials her number he debates on a quick stop at Trudy’s.

He decides against it. It is going to be almost eleven before he gets home as it is. He prepares for her to be disappointed.

“I wondered when you would call, Mike. Did you have to go somewhere else than Penticton?”

“Yep, had to pick up a load in Sicamous. How’s my favourite girls tonight?”

“Crystal is looking after Sam for me and Cookie is watching TV.”

“And my number one gal?”

She giggles, “Talking to you.”

“Any problems. I am just coming up on Chilliwack.”

“Nope. Have you got time to come in?”

“Don’t think so, love. It will be nearly eleven now before I get in home.”

She sounds down, “Okay, I figured as much. Wish you were sleeping here tonight.” She wistfully adds, “Soon though, right? I mean before you go on the cruise?”

Mike thinks quick, “How about Wednesday night?”

“Why not tomorrow night?”

“Sorry, I have a meeting tomorrow night,”

Trudy’s quick comeback, “With Sadie?” she adds, “It better not be.”

“Actually its with the RCMP.”

“Oh yeah, what about?”

“It’s hush hush, can’t say.”

“What’s so hush hush about it?”

“It wouldn’t be hush hush if I told you.” He chuckles. He goes on, “It’s concerning law enforcement strategies for the drug traffic. I was invited to sit in.”

“Well, why didn’t you just say that? Okay, Wednesday night for sure then. Is that right?”

“Unless I have another run.”

Mike is long passed Chilliwack and will be coming up on Abbotsford before long. “Take care, love. I have to call Marlene now. See you Wednesday.”

“Good night darling. I love you, Mike. Can’t wait to see you.”

“I love you, too. Good night.”

Mike calls Marlene next.

“Hi love. Just coming up on Abbotsford, I’ll be home by eleven.”

“Can I ride over with you?”

“Sure, if you want. What about the kids?”

“The girls are nearly ready for bed and Rick is here. He can keep an eye on things for a couple hours.”

“Hmmm, okay. I’ll be about ten minutes.”

Mike takes the off ramp and pulls down to Marshal Road. He swings at the corner and parallel parks in front of their condo. Marlene comes running out the drive and he wishes she wouldn’t do that. Not as far gone as she is now. He alights to help her climb the ladder into the cab.

Soon they are rolling back out onto the freeway. Marlene says, “Nina called today. Your brother quit his job.”

Mike just nods, “He is always doing that. As a high steel rigger he can get a job anywhere else he wants in New York City. There is lots of high steel work there.”

“He’s looking at something else.”

“Something other than steel?” Mike looks puzzled.

“She said something about an investment he made. He is thinking of taking a more active roll in the company.”

Mike mulls that over, “Terry is no business head. Did she say what kind of investment?”

Marlene watches him closely, “It’s here in B.C.”

Mike tries to react calmly, “Nina and Terry are coming to B.C.?”

“She says it’s in Golden. One of the ski runs they are building up there.”

Mike has to gear down for the weigh scales. He puts on his turning signals and eases right applying air brakes judiciously. “He invested in one of them?”

“That’s what she said.”

Mike pulls up on the scales, then on a cue from the scales man, pulls ahead to weigh the next axle, and then the next. He watches in the far mirror for the go ahead, then flashes his clearance lights as he gets it and heads down the ramp towards the freeway again. “Did she say how soon they are coming?”

“I don’t think he has made up his mind to come yet. They are just talking about it so far.”

“Has she been in touch with Jeff?”

“He’s been served and it looks like he is not going to contest the divorce. He’s not the least interested in custody of the kids.” She laughs, “Why should he, their yours!” There is an edge of bitter irony in her last words. “Who are you going to be with if she has hers the same time I have mine in December, Michael?”

Mike wheels onto the Mary Hill Bypass and traffic gets heavier. He clenches his jaw but says nothing. Marlene stares out at the traffic and the dark shadow of the Fraser River. As they turn into Kingsway Mike sorts in his pocket for the car keys. He tosses them onto the console then nudges them across to Marlene. Silently she takes them. As he pulls into the lot she cracks open her door and as he comes to a full stop, carefully gets down before he can come around to help her. She waves at him to go on as she heads for his car. The yardman meets him with a converted crane carrier half cab tractor with hydraulic fifth wheels attached front and back. He calls to him, “Switch over your radio.”

Mike reaches up and turns the knob on his radio to the yard frequency. The yardman is talking with the dispatcher. “He has that one from Toronto for Canadian Tire. 7749 is the number on it.”

There is a crackle of static and the dispatcher comes back, “Have him put it in door 36, that’s three six.”

Yardman: “Did you get that, Mike?”

Mike reaches up and keys the mike twice in rapid succession indicating he heard. He waves at the yardman as he drops the empty at the back of the yard. After finishing his unhooking of the empty he pulls around the warehouse to door 36. He stares at the trailer already backed in at the door. He shakes his head and reaches for the mike. Just then the radio crackles and the dispatcher’s voice comes from it.

“Rudy, hold on. I have a load in 36.”

Mike speaks into the mike, “John, I have you on the radio, it’s Mike.”

Dispatch: “Hang on Mike.”

“John, door 35 is empty.”

“It is? That’s the mix up. What number is in 36?”

“2488, it’s a long box.”

“Okay Mike, put it in 35. Thanks bud.”

“Roger, John. Out.”

Mike backs the pup trailer into the door then goes to shut his tractor down in the line up on the far side of the warehouse by the workshops. Marlene has the car there waiting for him so he quickly bleeds off his airlines and joins her.

“Let’s go home, baby.”

They get in by eleven ten and all the kids are in bed. They quietly close up the house and sneak off upstairs. Mike looks in on Rick on their way by his door and the boy sleepily nods at his Dad, indicating all is well. Softly Mike says, “Goodnight son, well done.”

A quiet voice comes back, “Night Dad.”

Marlene whispers as he enters the bedroom, “He was still awake?”

“Yep, keeping a sleepy eye on things.” He is grinning as he slides out of his clothes. He takes his robe in hand and heads for the shower.

Mike is deliriously soaking in the hot cascade of water when suddenly it turns to ice. He shivers and yelps, “Hey!”

Marlene laughs as she turns the hot water off in the bathroom sink. Mike’s arm snakes out and catches her so that she squeals. She tosses her robe aside and slips into the shower with him, “Room for me in here, love?”

“Oh yes!” Mike hauls her to him and finds her lips with his. As they kiss long and passionately the water splashes their shoulders and puddles on her breasts trapped by their closeness. Even with her protruding belly they fit together like they are one welded piece. Mike can feel the stirring in his scrotum and Marlene is every bit as aware of it as he is. For them it is like a dance, each attuned perfectly with the other. Her left leg leaves the floor and goes out behind her, as she is lost in the kiss and the arms of her chosen warrior. Then with perfect synchronization they both move their hips a bit and the leg snakes around his opening her up to his growing member. With eyes shut tight she moves her hips to rub herself gently on his hardness.

She gasps, “Oh Mike, let’s hurry and shower! I need you inside me!”

Mike eases her foot back to the floor and takes the washcloth to lather her up. He does it slowly and with added emphasis to many of her erotic points. He knows them all instinctively. She does the same for him and when they have rinsed each other down they pat each other dry with large warm towels. Marlene is more in control of herself now but they rush anyway to get under the covers. Late in the night they strive to bring pleasure to each other and eventually both are satiated.    

Chapter 3 September 24th

 

“Tuesday, what is that?” Mike muses as he wakes late. Marlene is up already so Mike gets around and goes downstairs in his robe. She is reading the paper at the table in the kitchen. She looks up as he enters and receives a kiss for her effort. She murmurs, “Did I wear you out last night?”

Mike gives a fake groan, “Oh you did,” he grins, “but I would do it all over again right now if you want.”

She pushes him away, “I don’t think so!” She goes on, “Have you been keeping track of the labour unrest in this province? I’ve noticed it lately in the news on TV but they have a good spread in the paper today. They mention that convention aboard the cruise ship, too.”

Mike looks over her shoulder and studies the write up. “I saw some of it the other night on tv. Looks like it’s forming up into a big strike in the forest industries. Lots of troubles.”

Marlene points at a picture, “That’s Kurt Brady from Prince George and that’s the Forestry minister. They look like two fighters ready to enter the ring.”

“Yeah, I heard that Kurt was going after O’Brien’s job. He’s been trying to replace him for 10 years now, at least. He wants to head up the International Woodworker of America (IWA) in B.C. It’s likely the 2nd most powerful union position in the province. O’Brien has sure been unpopular the last few years. I suspect the only way he will get it is if George moves up to head PAT.” Mike mulls it over, “This might be a hot convention.” He sips fresh coffee.

“You want some eggs?”

“Are you having any?”

She nods, “Maybe.” She gets up and starts his brunch.

Mike takes the paper and reads the article, then a few other items before turning to the comics. He chuckles over them and reads a few to Marlene. As she puts the meal on the table he says, “Have you got anything at the cleaners? I’m going to pick up my tux today.”

“Oh yes, two dresses and that pants suit you like so much. Can you get them for me?”

“You bet. That pants suit is hot. I like that one. Are you taking it with you?”

She smiles, “I am… and I got two more when I was shopping. Those will be comfy to lounge around in and still look neat.” She is delighted to see his eyes light up. “And they have elastic waist bands so this bundle will fit into them.”

Mike whistles, “Practical as well as beautiful! Wow! Now I know why I love that woman.” They finish their meal with such bantering and joking. Mike goes to his office and checks today’s fax from Trudy. He sees she has him slated to meet with Jack at 11 am at the courthouse to go over some papers prior to Jack’s turning them in to the Matsqui Police. Must be the insurance fraud he and Lily have been working on and sure enough, further down in the fax she says that. He has a client he has to report to on the behaviour of his wife. He makes a call to ascertain if the client is in his office and makes an appointment for 10 am. He checks his watch and goes upstairs for another coffee. He takes his briefcase.

“Looks like I have the afternoon free, but I have a meeting I have to attend tonight. It might run late.”

Marlene nods and says, “Why don’t you get a bit of rest then on the couch. The house should be quiet, I have to go out.” Mike looks her way but she says no more. She goes on, “The kids will be in school until four and they won’t likely be home till half past.”

Mike’s cell phone rings so he answers it, “Hello, it’s Mike.”

“I hope it is,” says a sexy voice.

Mike comes back with, “Are you calling about the meeting tonight?”

“Oh oh, bad timing, eh?”

“I’ll be there but I forgot what time we are supposed to be there. I knew I should have wrote it down, sir.”

“Hee hee, Mike… sir?”

“It was seven then, I thought so. I’ll be there, sir.”

Janine’s voice wavers, “I’ll be waiting for you. Hope you’ll be hungry. And I don’t mean for food.”

“I didn’t know if you had a snack laid on or not. I’ll eat light. Good day, sir.”

Marlene regards him suspiciously, “Who was that?”

“RCMP, dear. One of their officers will be there.” Mike holds up the phone and she sees the number on the display with RCMP beside it. She nods as if not interested. “I better get going. I have a client to meet shortly.”

Mike heads into the heart of Abbotsford and pulls around to an office building near the downtown mall. Briefcase in hand he goes up the outside steps two at a time to the second floor and enters a hallway. He checks his watch again and goes to a door with a banner plate on it that says ‘Dr. H.J. Morrison’. He steps inside and the receptionist waves him on into the doctor’s office. The doctor nods at him and waves at a seat in front of his desk. He is on the phone. He hurriedly ends the call and regards Mike over steepled hands.

“Do you have anything for me, Mike?”

“Herb, it’s not conclusive.” He digs out of his briefcase some 8 x 10 glossies and says, “Do you recognize the man she is with in these?”

The doctor doesn’t pick them up but regards them over his hands as if they might be poison. “What do I owe you?”

“That’s it, Herb?”

“It’s enough. They used to go together before we married. He is supposed to be in South America. I doubt you went that far to take these.”

Mike grimaces, “They were in the mall in Mission,” he hesitates and goes on, “they didn’t leave together, but these photos represent two different meetings. Like casual friends, you know. Have you asked her if he is back?”

Bitterly he says, “She had me mail a letter to him a few days ago.”

“Oh… uh, these were taken over a week ago, the first ones.”

“I figured that. She has been acting funny for over three months now.”

“Herb, you haven’t asked me for any advice and if you think I am out of line here, tell me but I look at it this way. So she loves two men? Is that, in and of itself, grounds to condemn her? No doubt she is living with guilt. Why not take advantage of that or at least, live with it and appreciate she still comes home at night?”

“Could you?”

“Yes, I have done so, and I am still married to the same wonderful creature I fell in love with so long ago. I could have flown off the handle and demanded a divorce but instead I waited until her infatuation wore off.”

“Does she know that you knew?”

Mike chuckles, “I caught them… and I screwed his wife.”

Herb’s face softens and a grin moves across his countenance. “I would like to have seen that.”

“What I am saying Herb, is that she obviously still loves you or she wouldn’t be so careful to hide what she is doing. Give her time and see what happens. Besides, you only have pictures of them meeting. What can you do with them? You can’t prove infidelity with them so all you can do is confront her and alienate her. What does that gain you?” Mike takes the prints and looks at them, “I can stay on it and try to catch them in the act but do you want that?”

Herb mulls it over in his mind and finally says, “I think you are right, Mike. When I first saw the photos I wanted to take them home and throw them down in front of her, but on sober second thought and with your help, I see the futility of that now.” He takes one of the pictures and studies it, “I think it’s the deception that bothers me most.” He tosses the photo down. “Oh well, I know now. No more deception!”

“Okay, if you want to leave it where it is now you are only into me for about eight hundred. Is that where we are at?”

“Okay, I will have my secretary draw you up a cheque. Hang on.” He lifts his phone and speaks into it briefly. He says to Mike, “Thank you for a quick job Mike, and for not leading me on. I know a friend who paid a small fortune to a guy to check his wife out and he got nothing, nothing but a come on each time the guy visited him. It was a real con.”

“Your friend should be reporting him to the Solicitor General’s office. That is illegal.”

“He may have stretched it. He was just talking in the locker room at the club.”

They both look at each other knowingly as the secretary enters the office with a cheque in hand. She presents it to the doctor for his signature. He signs and hands it to Mike. Mike shakes hands with the doctor and leaves discretely by the outside stairs as he came in. He checks his watch and heads for the cleaners. After a quick stop there it is on to the courthouse. He finds Jack parked out front so he joins him in his car.

“Morning Jack, what you got for me?”

“Those two car crashes, you were right. The kid broke down and gave me the full story. It was a set up. I promised him our help if he puts it all in writing. Here it is.” The compact black man proffers papers to Mike. “Ken will honour that for the kid, won’t he?”

“Not a problem, Jack. You’ve met him, haven’t you?”

“Never got the chance but I hear he’s a square shooter.”

Mike nods, “One of the best. Good man to work with. You’ll like him. Every bit as professional as the guys you worked with.” He looks the statement over. “Did you coach him?”

“In general. Nothing specific.”

Mike hands it back after signing it at the bottom. “Good, let’s take it inside.” They get out and go into the courthouse, then on through into the Matsqui Police offices.

While they are waiting for Ken Dryden, the Chief of Police, Mike asks, “What’s Lily up to today?”

“She’s in court in Surrey. Those druggies we nailed a few months ago. They are appearing today. I doubt they show.”

“You think they’ve fled? How much bail?”

“100 thou each but that is pin money for them. They move that in few days or a few weeks at most. Lily doesn’t expect them to show,” he grins, “she is always suggesting they do like in Singapore, cut the bastard’s hands off.”

Mike groans, “And what do they do with rapists?” They both chuckle over that as Ken comes to meet them.

“Mike, come on in.” Mike watches Ken close to see if he has any telltale hesitation about taking his hand but none is noticeable.

He says, “Ken, I want you to meet one of my best employees. Jack, this is Ken Dryden, Chief of Police here. Ken, Jack White.” He suppresses a grin as he does the introduction but Jack exposes white teeth in his black countenance with a broad grin. Ken shakes hands and looks the short black man over.

“Jack White, eh?” he slaps his shoulder and they both break up laughing. Mike just grins and shakes his head. “Come on in, gentlemen.” Ken leads them to his office.

When he has them seated he says to Mike, “I hear you are taking a holiday up the coast. Have a good time. I have always wanted to take that cruise.”

“Yes, Marlene is pretty excited about it.”

“She sure is,” smoothly he continues, “I saw her in the mall the other day and she was dieing to tell someone about it. At least that is what she said.” He smiles and turns to Jack. Mike watches him closely. Trudy has told him that Ken might be seeing Marlene. Even his lawyer has hinted at the same.

Jack is talking “… since both accidents occurred in town it would appear this is your case. I imagine you investigated them at the time they occurred?”

Mike satisfies himself by just watching the two men interact. It is immediately apparent they are both professionals in what they do and Mike is glad he came to witness this meeting. He ponders in his mind if Ken is going to meet his wife after lunch or for lunch. He decides she will likely not meet him until after lunch when Mike should be safely sleeping on the couch and the kids are in school. Then he reproaches himself for his suspicious mind. He tunes into the conversation again.

Ken is saying, “We concur in handling statements. The judge will most certainly be informed of the lad’s cooperation. You can count on that, Jack.”

“Great, that is what Mike told me. He regards you highly.” They both look at Mike.

Ken says, “Thank you, Mike. The feelings are mutual.”

Mike raises a hand in mock salute. Jack goes ahead with the presentation of the statement and Ken looks it over. He has a file on his desk and compares some figures in it. They go over it together with Jack nodding his head slowly up and down as they chat.

As they get up to leave Ken says, “Do you want a copy of this or do you have one?”

Mike responds, “Can you run us off one?”

“Sure thing Mike,” he exits his office with them and pushes the statement into a copier. It zips out of sight and two copies come out the side of the machine, one original and a copy. He hands it to Mike.

Mike gives it to Jack to put back in the file and they leave. Back by the cars Jack says, “I had a copy of it.”

“Not with my signature on it, you didn’t”

Jack snorts and points his finger at Mike like a cocked gun, “Right!”

They part and Mike heads home. The station wagon is not in the drive so he knows Marlene is out. He hauls the dry cleaning with him and goes into the quiet house then down to his office. He calls Trudy and reports on the morning’s activities. After that he goes upstairs and makes himself a sandwich With a coffee and sandwich in hand he goes in to the couch where he picks up the remote after putting the food on the coffee table. He munches away and watches the news. They mention the upcoming labour convention and Mike gets his first view of the SS Sweden Brilliance. He likes the looks of her lines and is pleased they will be on the cruise soon. He sees they are trying to get a statement from the head of the I.W.A. but George O’Brien is brusque with the reporters. Mike grins as he watches him. He wonders what kind of man he is to meet. He certainly has a following in his union although many others dislike him intensely. He catches a few phrases… “What makes you think you can beat Cole in an election, sir?” and… “Some people are saying the IWA runs PAT as it is. Do you have any comment?” Mike changes the channel and flicks the set off. He downs his coffee then stretches out on the couch. Soon he is sleeping.

“Daddy, are you awake?” Mike stretches and nods.

“What’s up, honey?” He regards Jan by the coffee table.

“Mommy said to wake you for supper, daddy.”

From the kitchen comes a call, “Did you wake your dad, Jan? Tell him to come for supper.”

Jan runs off towards the kitchen, “He’s coming, mommy.”

Mike calls out, “I’m up love.” He shakes the sleep from his head and ambles out of the living room. He winks at Marlene as he comes into the kitchen. “How did your day go? Anything exciting?”

She reaches up on top of the fridge and flashes a piece of paper in front of his nose. “Guess what I have got here?”

“A letter… from back east?” He yawns.

“Nope, guess again.”

Mike shakes his head, “I don’t know, what you got?”

Triumphantly she says, “Clearance from my doctor to go on the cruise. I got it this afternoon. How about that?”

Mike feels ashamed that he mistrusted her today so he laughs and says, “Wonderful! That’s one more possible obstacle covered. Terrif!”

“Is there anything else that can stop us going now?”

Mike plays devil’s advocate, “Hmmm, weather, accident, sickness, sudden drop in the market that impoverishes us, war, plagues of flying giant ants…”

“Mike! Get serious! You are scaring the kids,” she looks around but they are laughing, “Well, you’re scaring me.”

Mike chuckles, “No, I don’t think there is any hindrance now.” Mike sits down with them. He eats a light supper then consults his watch. He excuses himself, “I better get around ready to go.”

He goes upstairs, gets out of his rumpled clothes and takes a shower. In fresh slacks and golf shirt he reappears in the kitchen with briefcase in hand. Marlene steps from the sink to inspect him, “Much better than your jeans. See you later, hon.” she leans to kiss him.

“Thank you, ma’am.” He bows over her hand and kisses it then catching her to him, he kisses her lips. He goes out the side door waving his hand. It’s a warm evening for September so he leaves the top down and rolls off across town. He pulls up at the RCMP detachment and gets out. Briefcase in hand he goes up the walk while carefully scrutinizing his surroundings. At the door he stops and turns. Satisfied he quickly goes back to his car and drives out of the parking lot. Watching his mirror he turns onto Larchmont and drives two blocks into the residential area then turns right again and slides into the underground parking under an apartment block.

He puts up the top and locks the car, then proceeds to leave the underground parking checking his watch. Smiling he crosses the lot and steps into the shadows to come out on the street, walks into the alley and into a rear gate of one of the older homes. Quietly he walks around the building and steps up on the porch. He opens the door and steps inside. He stands in a foyer with two doors off it. He goes to the one to his immediate right and raps. Janine opens it for him and whispers, “You are right on time, lover. Come in.”

Mike has only been here a few times and is still amazed by the circular living room immediately ahead of him but Janine takes his arm and draws him back towards the small kitchen and dining area. In the shadows she comes into his arms for a kiss that is long and deliberate. Breathless, she says in a sultry low voice, “I hope you saved room for some food. I have been slaving to make you a special meal. Come see what I have.”

Mike lets her guide him on into the kitchen. The small wooden dining table in the alcove is set with crystal and shining silver, candles grace the middle of the board in crystal on a fine white lace centrepiece. He can’t help but be awed by it but he says, “Janine, you shouldn’t have done…”

She puts a finger to his lips, “Relax and enjoy…” she adds in sepulchre tones, “said the spider to the fly.” She hands him a bottle of German spring wine. “Will you do the honours while I finish up here?” She hand him a corkscrew and turns to set two wine glasses on the counter. Mike screws the cork puller into the cork and she wets her lips in the dim light. She sighs, “That’s what I want you to do to me later.” She reaches over the bottle to give him a breathy kiss. Mike gulps and sits the bottle on the counter. He applies the levers to each side and the bottle makes a popping sound and a slight sigh as the cork comes clear. “Mm,” she says, “and I will make a lot more noise than that.”

With effort Mike steadies his hand as he pours the wine. Janine takes one glass and raises it. “Happy Anniversary, lover.”

Mike lifts his but looks quizzically at her.

“Mike, it was two months ago today we met in Maple Ridge. As if that isn’t enough, it has been 5 years this day since we met in Calgary. What a coincidence that we should fall in together again.”

“Was it in September when we met?”

“Well, not our weekend together, that was in November, remember the highway was closed with a slide in the pass and it snowed all weekend. Oh my God, I didn’t think I would ever walk again.” She laughs in a low tinkling way. “You know you ruined me that weekend. I was never satisfied with my husband again and within a year I was filing for a divorce.”

“I did that?” Mike sounds incredulous.

“Very few have satisfied me since then and only you have fully satisfied me, lover. Here’s to a wild and wonderful union. To us.”

Mike clinks glasses with her and they both drink. She goes to lift the meal. On each of two crystal plates she arranges double scoops of potato salad on a lettuce leaf then beside them she places two golden chicken thighs and a liberal dollop of a colourful sauce. She takes these and sets them across from each other at the table. Mike notices as she moves that the side of her sheath has a split up the side all the way to her belted waist and he notices further that the expanse of bare flesh so fleetingly exposed is unhampered by any other cloth. He brings the wine and glasses to the table.

“Mm, you can top mine up, if you would?”

Mike tops them both, and then holds the chair for her so she can be seated. He goes around the small table and sits opposite her. As he sits he feels her bare foot slide up his leg and then back down in a soft caress.

She hands him a long match and he lights the candles, while she reaches back and flicks a switch. The dim lights go out and the candlelight seems to grow. Janine licks her lips slowly and says, “I hope you like peppers. The sauce is my own creation.”

Daintily Mike tastes it with a fork. “Yes, that is something! How did you make that, I really like it.”

She shrugs slightly, “Fine cut green and red and yellow peppers, mix them in boiling pear juice for sweetener and add Knox gelatine to firm it up. That’s why it’s like a jelly.” She glows, “You really like it? It is fantastic with poultry or pork, a real nice change from cranberries.” She lifts a piece of thigh with her fingers and says, “Don’t be shy Mike, this is finger food.” She bites into it. Mike does the same.

“Mm, what did you marinate those in? That’s delicious and it’s falling off the bone.”

Her eyes crinkle in good humour and she says, “I have to keep some secrets but I will give you a hint. The earthy flavour is soy sauce. I add my own blend of herbs and spices to it.”

The spring wine sets off the meal perfectly and they chat in low tones. The charged air in the flickering firelight is pregnant with seduction.

Janine brings a bowl of ambrosia to finish off the meal and she places it between them with two long handled spoons. She alternately feeds him the fruity confection and he does the same. Then filling the two glasses again she beckons to him to follow her. Mike knows the dark doorway they are approaching is her bedroom off the kitchen.

It’s a small room and she turns on a dim light by the bed. The bed is a queen size waterbed with an ornate headboard. Mike dimly sees the other door in the room and knows from past experience that it leads to the bathroom between the two small bedrooms. Sweet music wells up from somewhere near the bed and Janine pats the padded sideboard for him to sit on the bed. Mike complies with her wishes and she kneels before him exposing one bare leg all the way up to shadowed flesh inside her thigh. Slowly she slides her hand down one leg and lifts it up to take his loafer off and place it by the bed. Then she does the same with his other leg. She falters as she drops the second loafer to the floor by the bed and catches herself with one hand inside his thigh.

She giggles, “We didn’t have that much wine, did we?”

Mike caresses the hand between his thighs, “Not that much, my love,” he assures her. She bows her head over the hands and softly kisses his then with her hand she turns his to kiss the palm. She rubs her face on the hand then licks the palm. Mike is very aroused. Her shoulder length auburn hair cascades over Mike’s hand as she kisses and licks his palm, then wrist. Her lips are so close to his groin that Mike can feel her breath through his slacks and his excitement is obvious to her watchful eyes. She rubs her cheek on the tent in his slacks and feels him tense up. Slowly she withdraws and slides her hands down one leg to loosen and draw one sock from a foot. She lifts the bare foot and draws it up inside her exposed thigh until Mike can feel the crinkly pubic hair with his toes. She works the foot around her groin and seems to purr as she regards him from lowered eyes. She closes her thighs around the foot and seems to climb his frame reaching to kiss him. The kiss is very wet and hot with her tongue darting into his mouth then seeking to lick his lips. Mike is overwhelmed.

“My God, what a seductress you are,” he whispers in a hoarse voice.

She whispers back, “I have only just begun, lover.”

She slinks back to her kneeling position slowly releasing the foot, wet toes and all and trailing it down her thigh. Her hands remove his other sock and then she places one hand on each of his knees and moving them inside his thighs she slides them up slowly to caress and smooth the tented slacks in his lap.

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