Stratus Fear

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Chapter Eight

As I walked into our apartment, I held up my takeout bag and gave it a little shake for emphasis as my lips lifted to a grandiose smile.

Rogue took notice from his seat on the sofa. “Ah, my girl warrior has returned with yet another feast for her spouse.”

“Sorry, but it’s not steak today.” Once I placed the bag on the dining table, I carefully extracted the plastic container filled with petit fours, compliments of Arianna. “This time it’s dessert.”

Jumping up, he came over to join me. The moment he spied one of the chocolate cakes, Rogue grabbed one and popped it into his mouth. I knew enough to wait a few seconds while he savored and digested his marvelous treat. Then when finished, Rogue gave me a satisfied grin. “You sure have been dallying with the right people lately. Keep up the excellent work, darling, and keep those goodies coming.”

I crinkled my brow. “Unfortunately, it took a murder to get me upstairs among the beautiful people. By when this case is finished, I’ll be back on the ground with the rest of you slobs. So, enjoy these little dividends while you can.”

Resisting temptation, Rogue backed away from the table. “How is your case going anyway?”

“So, far, it’s going no where fast.” I surprised my frustration with a small sigh and then reached down into the bag. “These might to your liking, if I can figure out how to operate them.” I pulled out three bedroom companions, one that appeared to be a small plastic wand with little feathers sprouting from the top, and another that looked like some kind of blue latex tube within a clear plastic outer tube. The last device I could identity as a long, thick dildo in a flesh hue. I assumed the charger at the base—shaped like a scrotum no less—made the shaft quiver when activated.

Rogue let out a hearty laugh and picked up the plastic tube device. “And where did you get this?”

“From the murdered man’s night stand. The cop on the case took these things for evidence, which proved an exercise in futility.” I held up the dildo for emphasis. “Now, this handy dandy little device certainly didn’t kill Gavin McAllister.”

Rogue broke in with a chuckle. “Yeah, who ever heard of being dicked to death.”

I had to laugh too. “Anyway, I offered to return these babies to his companion but she didn’t want them. So, she suggested that I take them home.” I tried a clever look and pointed the rubber penis at Rogue. “I bet you know how to operate these things.”

“Oh, sure.” Finding a button on the tubular unit, he turned on the machine, and for several seconds we watched the inner suction tube slurp up and down. As I continued to stare at it with an idle fascination, it finally dawned on me what the device was used for and by whom.

“A jack-off machine,” Rogue confirmed. “Beats a hand job every time.”

“And so what’s this?” I traded the dildo for the little wand with its feathers, the pink plastic of the handle embedded with gold glitter. For a moment I wondered if Gavin McAllister had used this baby on Arianna or if she used it when alone in bed, although she hadn’t claimed the device as hers.

“That’s a French tickler,” Rogue revealed, “or what you gals liked to call it a vibrator. See that rotary gizmo at the top? It stimulates certain female parts while the feathers add an extra touch.”

“That’s always good to know.” I couldn’t help the smirk that plied my face. Ever the gentleman, Rogue refrained from using crude synonyms when it came to women’s anatomical parts, and men’s too for that matter.

Last but not least, he picked up the dildo and held it by “the balls” as he gave it a shrewd perusal. The smooth shaft ran at least seven or eight inches in length from base to lipped tip, and seemed about two inches thick. Rogue’s frown spoke volumes. Men hate to compare their assets, even against a dummy dick; and when intimated or their manhood is threatened they’ll always opt to bad mouth the competition.

“I hope,” Rogue advised, his expression still on the distasteful side, “you won’t find this more exciting than what I have to offer.”

“Never!” I chuckled. “I prefer the real thing to a machine any day, even if this one does look almost real.”

Now he smiled. “Sorry, but it doesn’t give you that little extra oomph at the end.”

“Oh yeah?”

His smile stretched to a salacious grin. “Oh, yeah. But look here—” He slapped the dildo down next to the vibrator. “You have two helpers and I only have this suction cup thing which I will never use.”

Deciding I had enough of playtime, I gathered up the toys and put them back in the sack. “I say we stick to the tried and true, if that’s all right with you.”

“I won’t complain.” Rogue grabbed another little cake, but instead of taking a bite he placed the little square in the palm of his hand. “Of course if we want to get a bit kinky we can always smear these little babies all over our bodies and lick off the crumbs.”

Besides the chocolate icing, the white-cake squares offered a layer of fruit filling in raspberry and lemon flavors. Arianna, it seemed, spared no expense when entertaining her friends, and I had to wonder if she thought about the dessert’s double usage as well, providing both gastronomical delight and sexual arousal.

Suddenly Rogue smashed the top of the cake against my mouth and then quickly moved in for the kill. The chocolate provided a nice lubricant between our lips, eventually to coat our tongues and stimulate our taste buds as we delved deeper into the kiss. When he drew me into his arms, he apparently forgot that he still held the rest of the cake and ultimately mushed it against my backside, or more precisely against the silk-blend blouse I had donned for my visit to the upper echelons. The damn thing had cost me almost six hundred bucks and only came out for special occasions. Oh, well. I suppose this counted as a special occasion. Rogue’s pleasurable and exciting ministrations far outweighed the damage and a trip to the dry cleaners. Besides, what the hell! We only live once, and I could actually look forward to being shagged twice in one week, two nights in a row! That double whammy plus the bonuses of steak and dessert boosted my joy factor to its lofty apex, something I hoped would last the rest of the year.

And so, when Rogue ripped away the buttons of my blouse and smeared cake between my breasts, I let him have his way.

As soon as Simbi returned to the motel, she knew something had happened. Oh, please Dear God, please don’t let it be the children! But, thankfully, she found the kids outside, sitting numbly at one of the broken picnic tables. When they spotted her, Tyree and Aimee donned child-sized looks of relief.

“What’s going on?” Simbi asked her son, the oldest and most articulate. “Why aren’t you both in bed?”

“It’s…daddy,” he told her, hanging his little head.

Of course, it would be daddy, probably drunk daddy now. Simbi’s feelings quickly segued from anxiety to anger. Leave it to Buckley to screw up something so simple like taking care of his kids for one lousy evening. How hard could that be? Simbi never asked for much, and her requests always centered on the family unit, their family, hers and Bucky’s, for better or worse. Sure, it had been the worse for some time now, but the better had finally come their way to the tune of $4,000. Had she been smart or thought about it more, Simbi should have banked the money as soon as Bucky brought it home. Now who knew what he had in that addled, simplistic mind of his. While he went on a whisky bender, the kids had been left out here alone, unattended and ripe for the social workers to come and take Tyree and Aimee away. They had tried it once when the Grovers lived in that old car, but Simbi had put up a good fight, enough to make the welfare people back down.

“Oh, my babies!” Simbi cried as she pressed both children together in a maternal hug. “Come on. Let’s get you both off to bed.”

“But, daddy—” Aimee hesitated, her eyes wide and gleaming in a look of utter fear.

“It’s okay, sweetie,” her mother soothed. “I’ll take care of daddy while you two take a bath. Now come on.” With Tyree in hand on one side and Aimee on the other, Simbi walked with purposeful steps to their room. The door to #12 had been left partially open and now she used the toe of her heel to push it open all the way. The lamps hadn’t been turned on in the bed/sitting area, and the only light came from the plasma TV along the wall, the images on the screen flickering in blues and greens, the sound either turned down very low or off completely.

“Buckley!” Simbi called out, trying to keep the rage out of her voice. That she would save for later. When he didn’t answer, she led the kids to the bathroom and told them to stay there for a moment. She would be right back to run the water in the bath unit.

As Simbi returned to the bedroom, she lowered her voice as anxiety crept in once more. “Bucky? Are you here?” Could the jerk have gone off to a bar and left the kids all alone?

When she heard a faint stirring and a feeble groan coming from the lower bunk of the beds, she ran over. Oh, Bucky was here all right, probably dead drunk, the asshole! She didn’t hesitate to turn on the floor lamp to its highest level, but what she saw made her stumble back and bring her fist to her mouth. It wasn’t Bucky, her husband, now lying along the bed, but a wizened old man, his face a map of wrinkles, his eyes clouded a milky blue, and his hair a grizzled mat of gray-white.

“Who…who are you?” She managed after a beat. “What are you doing in our room?”

“Sim…bi!” The man seemed to make the effort to pronounce her name in a hoarse, quavering voice. “It’s…me.” He tried to stretch his arm out to her, his skin like crinkled parchment, his fingers bent and gnarled like deformed tree roots.

“Simbi,” he tried again, “Huggie Doll.”

He used her nickname, the cutesy but loving epithet only she and Bucky shared. No, no, it can’t be! This horrible creature can’t be my husband! Yet as recognition finally dawned, Simbi knew she had to face the brutal facts, calmly, rationally, if only for the sake of their children. First, don’t panic, and second call the emergency number and get medical help right away! Yes, yes! Simbi knew what to do in a crisis, had taken a first-aid seminar, and a practical parenting course. But instead of falling back on her training, she let out a blood-curdling scream of terror.

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