They wanted ten thousand, from each of them. They said they had the pictures and if Katie and Arlette didn’t agree to pay them he’d send the set of Arlette with the restaurateur to Roger, and the set of Katie with the bootlegger to Jerry.
“It has to be one or the other, or they’re working together,” said Arlette. “We got the negatives back from the detective and burned them, there’s only one copy of each set, the copy that went with the original divorce complaint.
“Personally, Roger and I will get a kick out of them, you’re the only one in jeopardy.”
“Don’t I know it? The hell of it is that, in a world full of Photoshop I can’t ever be sure that I’m getting the only copies. I’d pay if I was sure of that, but I can’t be. It’s maddening.”
“Jerry won’t understand?”
“He might. He probably would. The point is I don’t want him to have to. God damn it Arlette, I’m in love with him and I have enough obstacles already.”
“I’ll give you five grand.”
“Doesn’t solve the problem, a hundred grand doesn’t solve the problem.”
“I’ve got another solution, but it’s only about a fifty-fifty shot,” said Arlette.
“If it’s one or both of the exes it will be sent whether or not we pay, if it isn’t and we tell them we are looking forward to getting the pictures because we bragged to our boyfriends about how good we looked when we were younger and are eager to prove it; that leaves the only profit in blackmailing the exes with their new young trophy wives.”
“Who, BTW don’t look anywhere near as good as we look in the photos? You’re right.”
“If it’s being done for profit, we’re the wrong targets, or at least the secondary ones.”
“I think we can go a step further. Tell the exes that their wives will get whatever we get. “
“It works except for you, if it all breaks open, Jerry will see it.”
“Risk it. If Jerry doesn’t understand maybe I’m better off.”
The identity of the blackmailer was further clouded that afternoon when Katie got an irate phone call from her ex. It seemed that the same demand that was made of her and Arlette had been made of him and he blamed her. This might have fingered Arlette’s ex, but it was revealed that he too was on the hook.
By Friday Katie was a nervous wreck. Nothing had shown up anywhere, and the demand for payment was not repeated. The most troubling aspect was the fact that it was now obvious that the pictures had been copied. She and Arlette had destroyed every copy but the ones in the original divorce complaint, so there were only two sets, one of each. There was now at the very least two of each set.
Jerry knew something was wrong because Katie wasn’t responding to anything. It had happened a couple of times before, but it was highly unusual and it worried him because previously it had been connected to some medical tests that she was awaiting the results of. He finally gave up trying to excite her and pulled her on top and entered her. She fell forward on top of him and just hugged. Neither moved for quite a while before he ejaculated and she rolled off of him, only to roll back and hang on.
He didn’t ask because he didn’t want to have to deal with a likely lie. She would tell him eventually or she’d resolve it, if he could have helped at all he knew she’d ask. He cradled her breast and she put her hand over his and sighed. She wanted him inside her again, but didn’t make any move toward that. It felt good just to lie against him.
Eventually she moved her leg over him, exciting him enough that she could feel him hardening against the inside of her leg. She climbed back on top, he started to move his hips to move inside her but she stopped him. She just wanted to lie there and feel him inside her, a part of her. She felt the tears and buried her face between his neck and shoulder to hide them. She fell asleep there, against him with him inside of her, the nervous energy she expended over the previous week had exhausted her and her body just gave in, relaxed and she drifted off.
The exes paid, but received nothing and when they checked the post office box they sent the payment to had been closed.
For Katie, the waiting was taking its toll. She finally reached the point where she wanted it to happen, to face whatever had to be faced and get it behind her. She hadn’t felt an orgasm since the whole thing began, and she held onto Jerry tighter and tighter whenever they were together, afraid that it might be the last time.
Roger got his set exactly a month after the demand for payment. He and Arlette enjoyed an evening of his interpretation of the various acts they portrayed, which was a lot more interesting than the original performance despite the fact that twenty something Arlette had given it her all at the time.
“Did Jerry get his set?” Arlette asked Katie the next day.
“He didn’t say anything on the phone, it’s Friday and we’re going up to Atherton to a new game restaurant on El Camino, which is good news if he got the package, Jerry isn’t the sort to make breaking up a public scene.”
“Did you know that there is a spot on your neck, below your ear that makes it feel like he’s got his tongue inside you? I mean Jesus, your ex worked his ass off and Roger just licked me a couple times.”