The Rent A Man Blues

by Lubrican

Chapters : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11


Megan Tomlinson graduated from the school of hard knocks, before she graduated from college. Of course most people have problems to deal with as they grow up, but Megan seemed to have more than her share. Like when she'd gotten pregnant at sixteen, and decided to keep the baby. Along the way, she learned that, with each problem, there usually came an opportunity as well. Such as happening to get hired at the same fast food restaurant as Sam Tomlinson. She knew of him, but had never talked to him. He ran in different circles than her boyfriend, Randy, whose family had mysteriously moved away once she told him she was pregnant.

Sam was friendly to her, which was rare. A lot of her friends found little time for her as her belly swelled. They seemed to think her condition was 'catching'. But Sam had been in puppy love with her for years, and was less concerned with the fact that some other guy had gotten her pregnant, than that she was willing to give him a chance now. Of course she didn't know about his years long crush on her, and he had no idea she was basically being shunned by most others.

Still, it seemed like an unlikely match as their budding friendship moved outside the fast food joint. She was tall, over six feet, and had been a setter on the volleyball team before she got pregnant. He was five-eight, genetically beefy and a whiz at math. He tutored her, in fact, in the math class she was having so much difficulty in, which changed both of their lives. That was because he had a knack for explaining things that helped her understand years of fuzzy mathematical concepts, so that they all made sense. Her current class started making sense too, until she didn't need his help any more. Now math was fun, which was something she'd never experienced at all.

They grew closer and closer, but their future looked dismal. Her parents wanted her to go to college, despite the baby, and her mother was willing to care for the grandchild while Megan went to classes. Her test scores suggested she should pursue engineering, and they lived in Atlanta, home of Georgia Tech and one of the finest engineering programs in the country. But there was the money issue. Her grades hadn't generated scholarships, and her family wasn't wealthy.

Sam was also from a family of few means. He also wanted to go to college, but his plan was to join the military and use the GI Bill for that.

A solution to that problem had arisen on prom night, when Sam had proudly escorted his six month pregnant girlfriend to the dance. He heard the snickers, but didn't care about them. He considered those people idiots. As they danced, the baby turned in her womb, and he felt the movement. It astonished him. They'd held hands before, but before this night they hadn't hugged, or kissed, or traded any of the sweet nothings that most sweethearts do. He was her steadfast more-than-just friend, and she was his most appreciative wounded dove. But feeling that baby move in her changed everything in Sam Tomlinson. After the prom, while they sat, munching on fries and burgers in the car, he asked if he could feel her belly. She had changed into maternity pants and a T shirt, and simply pulled the shirt up to bare the stretched skin that covered her unborn daughter.

As his hand moved over that skin, the baby moved again, almost as if she recognized the hand of one who loved it. And he realized he did love her. He was in love with Megan, and the baby under his hand was simply part of her.

"I wish I was her father," he whispered, without realizing he'd spoken aloud.

She leaned over and kissed him with warm lips. It was impulsive, unplanned, and almost shockingly pleasant.

"I do too," she whispered back.

He was startled, as his brain tried to understand what had just happened. Then she was kissing him again, as her body and soul reached for the love and closeness she had been denied, before this. She was like a starving woman, who had suddenly been offered a feast. His reaction was similar, as unbelievable things happened between them, things he had only dreamed of on long, lonely nights as his fantasies ran wild.

She would have let him have her, sexually, except it was impossible in the car, in such a cramped space. Instead she did for him the only thing she'd never done with any other boy. She used her mouth on him until he exploded in hysterical joy, convincing herself that swallowing was mandatory, to show how much she needed his love.

It was a wild night, and both were a bit dazed the next day. He proposed the next night, in front of her parents. They weren't impressed, until he laid out a surprisingly well thought-out plan, wherein he joined the Army, which came with the kind of benefits for his wife that Megan did not currently have, including both medical care for her, but also for the baby. There was a housing allowance, and Fort McPhereson, right there in Atlanta had services available, such as the PX and Commissary. She could still go to college, and her mother could still provide the daycare while that happened.

Once he'd laid it out, her parents stopped frowning. Her mother looked at Megan, who looked like a pale marble statue.

"Do you love him?" she asked, almost immediately wishing she hadn't. It wasn't fair to either of them.

"Oh, I love him all right," she whispered. "I just can't believe it, that's all."

There was more talk, hours more, but at one point Megan just shouted "Yes!" at the top of her lungs. That came in the midst of a discussion about what he'd be doing in the Army (something he didn't know yet) but everybody present knew exactly what her screamed affirmative meant. There was a brief pause while the two youngsters hugged and kissed each other, and then it was back to making sure that everything had been thought of.

It had.

Well ... except for the needs of the Army, which, at the moment he enlisted, meant they needed bodies to fill slots in the Military Occupational Specialty numbered: 11B. That was infantry. His scores on the entry test qualified him for many other MOSes, but the recruiter had been told to fill infantry slots, so that's what he did.

On the "don't-tell-anybody-I-told-you-this" recommendation of the same recruiter, they got married before he joined. That made things much easier, and made her benefits kick in immediately, so she could get a military doctor and make all the plans to deliver in a Military hospital.

Then they sent her husband to basic training, after which he went to his first unit, which just happened to be on the next rotation for Iraq.

He did two tours which, with extensions, meant that out of his four year enlistment, he was actually only stateside for a total of thirteen months. The problem with that was that "home" was defined as Megan's parents' house, because she was still in school. He, on the other hand, was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington. It was tough on them both, but they bucked up and just called it a down payment on the rest of their lives, because soon he'd be out. The problem with that was that she was in a five year engineering program, which meant he'd have to find some way to support her for a year before she could get a job and then he could use the GI Bill to get his own degree.

They were young. His bright personality had taken some hits because of what he had seen over there, but they were still full of hope.

Which is why he extended for a year, with his commander's promise that he could stay stateside.

His commander lied, and it wasn't in writing, so there wasn't anything Sam could do about it.

So he went with the unit when they deployed again. An IED killed him five days after he arrived in country.

He was survived by his wife and four year old daughter, who bore his name, if not his genes.

Chapter One

On this bright spring day, as Megan looked back over all the problems she'd had in her relatively young life, she was sure there had to be a way to deal with this latest one. It was going to be a stinker, but she was sure it could be done. She turned to Hamako Fukuji, a slim dark-haired girl with glasses that masked, to some degree, her Oriental features.

"Are you sure about this, Hamako?" she asked.

"I'm certain," said the girl. Her English was flawless, because she was a graduate student in the Engineering school and had spent six years in the United States. Megan had hired her as a translator when a Japanese industrialist expressed interest in producing her invention. "My sources in Tokyo were very clear. Mr. Nakimura is very well known as a successful industrialist, but very traditional man. He is old school in ways you would not understand. Because you have signed everything with just your initials, he has no idea you are female. If he finds this out, though, he will refuse to do business with you. He would lose face with his colleagues if he negotiated with a woman.

"He talks to you!" Megan pointed out.

"In his mind, I am merely an underling, someone to whom you ... a man ... has entrusted certain communication tasks. All I do is speak and translate Japanese. He might wish to bed me, but as far as business goes, I am nothing."

"That's kind of harsh," said Megan.

Hamako shrugged. "It is the way things are in Japan. Change comes very slowly there."

"But he wants to come here!" said Megan. "He wants to talk to the inventor!"

"Did I not translate that information for you?" Hamako sounded injured.

"Of course you did," moaned Megan. "How am I supposed to become a man in just three weeks? I have too much invested in this for the bottom to drop out now. Men are so pig-headed!" She finished with a snarl.

"Why do you think I have found ways to remain here?" asked the thoroughly Americanized young Japanese woman. "You think I want to go back home and take up my traditional role as a subservient, tip-toeing, non-speaking woman? Not me, sister!"

"I need this to work, Hamako," pleaded Megan.

"Then find yourself a husband for Mr. Nakimura to negotiate with," said the girl, simply.

"Like they grow on trees," snorted Megan.

"I am plain," said Hamako, humbly. "Yet men hit on me constantly. You are beautiful. You should have no problem getting a man."

"I don't want a man!" moaned Megan. "I've had two. The first one was a jerk and the second one was the love of my life and was taken from me. My track record with men ain't great, Hamako.

"You have many friends. Hire one to become your husband, until Mr. Nakimura leaves. He is only coming for a site visit and to have face time with his intended business partner. He could send anyone to do his bidding, but he wants to come himself and throw his weight around, impress and manipulate you. He probably thinks that by being here in person he can save ten times what it will cost him to come here. This is something Japanese men do. He will come, boast, do business, and leave. He has many irons in the fire, and as long as the company here is well run, he will not think of it again."

"How can I run the company well if he can't know I'm a woman?" moaned Megan.

"He doesn't know you are a woman now. A little trick while he's here will maintain that subterfuge. Once he leaves, and the plant is built, it will be too late for him to back out. All you need is a man to front for you while he's here ... sort of a rental husband."

"A rental husband," sighed Megan. "That doesn't sound all that great to me."

"Well, you must do something. Confucius say even a turtle only makes progress when it sticks its neck out. Besides, maybe you can find someone to rent who is handsome ... friendly ... maybe even fun to be with," said Hamako.

"Someone handsome, friendly and fun to be with is the last thing I need," growled Megan. She caught herself before she said how long it had been since she'd had sex. It had been so long, in fact, that she couldn't remember what it had been like. She didn't need a man messing up her life again ... dragging all those feelings out of her mental closet, where she'd stuffed them.

"This is America," said Hamako. "Surely there is a rent-a-man type company here somewhere."

"Now you're making it sound like there will be expenses involved. I don't have much money. I've spent it all developing the invention."

"If I had any money I'd love to get in on the ground floor. Maybe you can barter a piece of the company in exchange for his help with this little problem. Surely you know someone in the business community, someone you've done business with."

The answer appeared in Megan's mind like a burst of fireworks. She couldn't believe she hadn't thought of him immediately. He already knew a lot about the invention. She had bounced ideas off of him for years, and he had given her good advice. He did know business, having run his own for a decade, and he had contacts all over the place he could enlist to help them pull it off.

Bob Tomlinson leaned against the corral gate, rolling a cigarette and split his glances between that task and looking at Megan Tomlinson. He'd looked at her a lot, over the years, starting with when his little brother, Sam, had gone all moon-eyed over her in high school.

He licked the edge of the paper and completed the roll, shaping the final product with his fingers.

"Let me get this straight," he said. "A Japanese industrialist is interested in your invention, and wants to build a plant to make it here, in the U.S.A., and he's coming to meet you to get that ball rolling ... except he thinks you're a man."

"Right," Megan nodded.

"But as anyone can plainly see," said Bob, his eyes darting down and back up again, "You are clearly not a man."

"Right," she nodded again.

"And you want me to find you some man to pretend to be your husband ... and the inventor of The Stitch Bitch."

She frowned. "I'm not calling it The Stitch Bitch any more," she said. "I liked that name, but it just won't work on a global basis."

"So what are you calling it now?" asked Bob.

"I don't know," she said. "I'm looking at several things. But that's not the point, Bob. This is my big chance, and I don't want to blow it."

"Blow it," mused Bob. "Hold that thought."

Robert Meredith Tomlinson, former CEO of Techron Plastics, which he had started, built and then sold, making him a man worth hundreds of millions, was leaning against the corral that held some of his hundred thousand dollar hobbies. He reached into his torn and dusty jeans, pulling out a strike anywhere match. With well-practiced motions he brought the nail of his right thumb to the white tip of the match and, holding the stick firmly with the other fingers of that hand, nicked the surface with a quick jerk. The match flared to life and he touched the ball of fire to the tip of the freshly rolled cigarette he had put in his mouth with the other hand. He took a long drag, blew it out with a long sigh, and dropped the rest of the cigarette to the ground, where the tip of his dusty cowboy boot ground it into the dirt.

"I wish I still smoked," he sighed.

"Based on what I just saw ... you do," said Megan, her voice wry.

"I only take that first drag," he complained.

"It's still smoking," she pointed out.

"A pack a day is smoking," he argued.

"Come on, Bob. You're supposed to be helping me."

There had been another reason for Bob's extended ritual involving his cigarette. He only carried the little bag of cut tobacco and papers when he was working with his horses. It was part of his "costume" as he thought of it. But the real use it had just served was to get him past her comment about "blowing it."

Bob Tomlinson had been a hard-driving college sophomore back when his little brother had started dating Megan Trimble. Bob was in the chemical engineering program, and it was kicking his ass, That was because, while classes took up only six hours a day, the homework and studying for those classes required double that, leaving only six hours for eating, sleeping, going to the toilet and everything else there is in life. It's pretty hard to have a successful romance when you can only offer your true love half an hour a day, max. For that reason, his social life was put on hold until such time as he could get through some of the hairier courses. Living at home helped financially, but there were too many distractions from studying.

Like little Megan Trimble, who wasn't so little. She began to turn up more and more often at their house, and it was clear that Sam was smitten by her. She was cute as a bug, and Bob had dozens of fantasies about her, young as she was. Of course he didn't do anything about it. She was Sam's, after all. And much too young.

Then there was the revelation that she was pregnant - something that had happened pre-Sam - and the even bigger revelation, at least for Bob, that Sam didn't care. After that he could see the pain in Megan's eyes sometimes, and pretty soon he didn't care who the father of her child was either. He learned that there is something about a pregnant woman that makes her sexy by default. He could look at any woman walking down the street and imagine that she might be willing to be intimate with a man. Such as himself. But looking at Megan, he saw a woman who was undeniably willing to be intimate with a man. She had been intimate with a man. The evidence was right there, sticking out for all the world to see. And if she'd done it for sure with whoever ... then the fantasy that involved him was easy to think about. Fantasy was about all he had time for anyway.

He kept an infrequent eye on her as his studies got even more demanding, and when she and his little brother decided to get married, he shoved his fantasies about her into a hidden place in his mind and was happy for them.

It was as his own dreams of owning a company began to come true, that his brother's dreams, and those of his wife, were crushed. Sam's death hit them all hard, but it was especially rough on Megan. Then his father's Alzheimer’s progressed to the point where his mother had her own hands full. She wanted to keep him at home as long as possible. So it fell to Bob to try to take care of Megan and his "niece", though he still had trouble viewing the cute little girl in that capacity, while running his burgeoning company, and keeping an eye on his parents too.

It was a lot to put on any man's plate, but Bob had been born to slay dragons, in a world where there weren't any. So he sallied forth to defeat other beasts, in the form of problems that people he loved were having.

Eventually Megan got back on her feet. Raleigh, who leaned on him heavily to be a stable male presence in her life, was impossible not to love. What they had gone through with Sam prepared them, at least a little, for the loss of Bob's father, when the Alzheimer's took him. Then, only six short months later his mother, lost without the man she'd spent the last forty-five years with, abandoned the will to live and slipped into eternity to go find him.

Obituaries often use the words "survived by" as they list the people left behind. In losing first his little brother, and then his parents, he finally understood what "survived" actually meant. He had no one but his little brother's widow and her daughter. And they had little more than him.

But it was complicated. There was some question as to whether Bob Tomlinson, and Megan Tomlinson were still officially related. There was no question at all that Raleigh had none of the blood of his family running in her veins. And yet, they were still indelibly linked by being survivors. That bond was as strong as a blood bond, at least as far as Bob was concerned.

His business, thanks to all those hours he'd put in studying, flourished. He had several really good people working for him. He won multiple government contracts, which was when the sharks started circling. But he knew about the sharks, and instead of waiting for his share of wealth to come from future profits, he sold the company to the sharks and took his profits then and there, banking more than three hundred million. That let him 'retire' at the tender age of thirty. He bought the ranch and some breeding stock, and took it easy for a while. Being there for Megan and Raleigh was just part of life, so he kept doing that too.

He experienced the same issues that almost anyone does who comes into a lot of money. There are literally thousands of people who desperately want to help spend it. Not only that, they somehow feel that they have the right to help spend it. And, while he now had time for women in his life, the kind of women he met these days were more attracted to his money than to him, which didn't serve his needs worth squat. Truth be told, he could hire a live-in hooker for less than a girlfriend would cost him, but he wasn't interested in casual sex. He had that with his hand, whenever it was needed. And that was free.

So, after a thoroughly unsatisfying period of about six months, he more or less became celibate and concentrated on his horses, and thinking up new ideas for plastics.

There came a time when Megan turned down his offers of "a loan" and began her stubborn drive to be completely independent, and capable of raising her daughter without anyone's help. He was still welcome in their home, but not his money. She had always loved sewing, and supported herself as a seamstress. Part of that involved fancy embroidery, which could be done by hand - at enormous expense - or by machine. But the computerized machines that did this kind of work would accept only proprietary software, which the sewing machine companies invariably contracted out the development of. When the contract was finished, there was no support for the software problems that invariably popped up over time. The sewing machine companies were in business to build machines, not update and upgrade software. It was very frustrating to the (mostly) women who used that software.

So, educating herself on how these systems worked, Megan designed an embroidery module that could be used with any machine, via adapters that were specific to each brand. Bob's advice and counsel was welcome, but she refused his offers to buy into "the company," seeing them as more attempts at charity. They weren't. His mother had had an expensive sewing machine, with an embroidery module, but the company refused to keep up with technological advancements, meaning the module couldn't be used after a year or two, unless one had an antiquated computer to slave it to. In a world where some people had never even seen a three and a quarter inch floppy disk, that was all that would work with that extremely expensive system.

Megan had solved all that by creating a software translator. So her system could be used on any machine, and would be able to be updated at her website, once it was built, regardless of the brand of machine the customer had. The potential for sales was enormous, and Bob knew that. Owning a piece of the company would simply be a good investment, in his mind. He had been there when she did the first test, and muttered "Stitch ... bitch!" It had, and he had suddenly been enveloped in the arms of a dancing, screaming woman.

And that, was when Bob was reminded that, with all the troubles and issues he'd had to work through over the last ten or so years, he'd never seemed to find the time to get himself a woman. He was reminded of that by the feel of her breasts crushed between them, and the smell of her hair, and her arms pulling him to her.

And suddenly, little Megan Trimble/Tomlinson represented a whole different kind of woman than she had before. It was as though he had been transported back to those hectic days when he was distracted from studying by that cute, pregnant girl who grinned and chirped "Hi Bob!" when she came over to see Sam.

It only got worse as the next year went by. He was happy with her successes, even though she hadn't been able to turn her invention into a money-maker yet. He did get her to let him fund some prototypes, but she insisted on formal documents, listing it as a loan, to be repaid, with interest. That was fine with him. He just wanted to ensure that she had a chance to succeed, as he had been able to succeed.

But she was still a major distraction in his life. She was healthy, beautiful, and a joyful person just to be around. He tried dating again, but his "wimmen skills" as he thought of them had atrophied. Plus, his money still drew a certain kind of woman he wasn't interested in at all.

Meanwhile Raleigh grew up and got just as distracting as her mother was.

All of which is an admittedly long-winded way of explaining that, when she said she didn't want to "blow it," what Bob Tomlinson had thought of didn't have anything to do with failures in business. And it was to get the image of her soft, pink lips wrapped firmly around his aching erection out of his mind, that he went through his cigarette ritual.

"Bob?" Her voice brought him back to the present. "Surely you know somebody who could help me ... somebody I could trust ... just to get me through this. I'm sure that once Mr. Nakimura sees everything, and we get production going, and get some sales under our belts ... he'll thaw to the idea that a woman invented it. I just need a little help from a man to get me there."

A thoroughbred racing horse named Pickaninny stuck his nose between the slats of the gate and nipped at the shirt covering Bob's shoulder. He got some of Bob's skin with the shirt and the man ducked away, cursing.

"Hold your people!" he snapped at the horse, which snuffled and stamped, eager to go for a run. He turned to the woman he tried to think of as his friend, or sister-in-law, rather than a MILF.

"Look, you're making this a lot harder than it needs to be. I know you're all proud and stubborn and don't want to take anything from me. But surely I could pose as your husband for a couple of days and it wouldn't hurt your cherished independence."

Megan blinked several times.

"You?" Her voice was high.

"You can even hire me, if it will make you feel better," he said. "I charge a dollar a day, and not a penny less, payable at five in the evening every day I'm on the job."

"You?" she said again, sounding dazed.

While Megan wasn't aware of just how often she was stripped bare and bedded in Bob's mind, Bob wasn't aware of how often Megan gazed at his shoulders and shivered, ever so quickly, at the thought of running her hands over them. Tall women are at a disadvantage in many ways. One is that shorter men don't approach them all that often, and every woman seems to want a tall man, so those go pretty quickly.

In Megan's case, her experience with men hadn't been all that happy, all things considered. She had loved Sam with everything she had in her, and those few, short years she'd had him were the happiest in her life. But the rejection by Raleigh's father, and losing the love of her life had all gone together to sour her on the whole concept of romance. It hurt too much. It wasn't worth it to get to know a man, only to be hurt by, or lose him.

But deep in her mind there were things she barely acknowledged to herself. Foremost among them was that, more and more often over the last three or four years, when her eyes strayed to Bob, they looked at him like he was a man. Not Sam's big brother. Not her brother-in-law. Just a man. A man she liked in ways that were difficult to assess. He woke up things in her that she'd kept sleeping for years, things that made her blush when he looked at her.

Yet, looking at the task at hand, deciding whether to "rent" a stranger to come into her house and be in close contact with her for days, compared to having Bob do the same thing, was a no brainer. Bob was on a different plane of existence. She already knew him ... felt like she'd known him forever. He didn't judge her, or try to game her. He cared what she thought - she knew that deep inside - and he also cared what happened to her and Raleigh. He was like a solid, old growth oak tree, tall and stable and unshakable.

Still, butterflies attacked her stomach as she thought of him staying in her house for a week, being familiar with her, such as putting his hand on her back, or around her waist, touching her like a married man touches his wife. Would she need to kiss him?

It was at that point in her life that Megan admitted to herself that Bob Tomlinson was sexy.

She had always known it on a subconscious level. Even when she was in love with Sam, she had noticed his big brother. But she had thought hundreds of boys were 'cute' before, and that's all she thought it was, back then. And she'd gotten so used to seeing him that that initial "He sure is cute" thing got to be so routine that she stopped thinking about it.

Then Sam was killed, and Bob's strength was the only thing that let her keep from breaking, herself. He had no idea how important his encircling arms had been to her, in those days. He had no idea that, months and years later, as she healed enough to become more normal, that her attraction to him made her feel guilty. And he had no idea that she'd eventually worked through those feelings, and come to peace with the fact that she sometimes lay in bed, gently rubbing her clit, while she thought of him. She still apologized to Sam for it, but the guilt was gone.

Which is why, when he offered to "pretend to be her husband," as he put it, her mind went a little crazy, in terms of what that might mean.

Finally, though, she beat back the images of them, in bed naked, and the bed rocking like it was in an earthquake, and cleared her mind. It would never work. She knew herself too well. She'd be completely unable to keep her hands off him. He'd be disgusted with her. They were related, after all ... or as good as related. It would be like committing incest!

"I'm not so sure that would be the best idea in the world," her voice said, full of longing.

"Nonsense," he said firmly. "It will be perfect. Besides, I don't have time to become a high speed dating service for you. I don't have that many friends, and I don't want them dropping me because I got them involved with a disastrous situation like this."

"I can't sleep with you," she gasped, as the images returned to her fevered brain.

"Of course not," he said, unaware of what she was thinking. "And I know that. Other guys might not. It could get awkward. And even if things get uncomfortable for us, we can work through that. We love each other, right? Trust me, this is the perfect resolution to the problem."

Megan, always the problem solver, put her mind to work. He wasn't going to drop this idea, and she needed his help. And if he did it, then at least that part of the Nakimura problem would be taken care of. And she could manage things.

"Okay, but we don't sleep in the same room or anything," she said.

"Of course not. That's a given. How would he know anyway?"

"Right. He'll meet you at formal events and such, and we can invite them over for a cookout or something. You can handle the business meetings."

"We can tell him you're my secretary," said Bob. "That means you'll have to be there for all the meetings. If I need information, you can give it to me."

"Yes!" she said, getting excited. This was all going to work out after all. Bob could bring it off easily.

It wouldn't be a problem for them. It would work.

They were both sure of it.

And things might have actually worked out that way - meaning it was no problem for them - if she hadn't gotten all effusive about the problem being solved.

"Oh thank you so much!" squealed Megan, who just naturally moved to enfold Bob in her arms.

Once again she felt wonderful against him. Once again he got the whiff of clean hair, and the hint of some kind of perfume. His hands slid across her back. The urge to kiss her was almost overwhelming, and he felt his cock lurch in his jeans. He removed his hands from her back, raising one for another purpose.

Meanwhile, she felt the muscles across his upper back, and the strength in his hug. He smelled ever so faintly of tobacco and horses and dust, and she yearned to find a pile of hay they could lie in. She quite consciously inhaled against his shirt instead of looking at him. Looking at him would be a bad thing to do right now, because she knew she'd want to kiss him if she looked at him.

She jumped and squawked as his hand left her back and swatted the tight rear end of her jeans.

"Now, go invent something and leave a man to manly things," he said gruffly.

Now she stared at him, color in her face. That hand on her ass had stung, but it had felt good too. She licked her lips. For just a second she wished she could be the vamp with him, seduce him and teach him a lesson. It wasn't nice to make her feel this way. Even if he wasn't aware he was doing it. She pushed that thought out of her mind and tried to think of normal things.

"Remember you promised Raleigh she could go riding Saturday," she said with a wave and a grin.

And then she took off running and jumping, like a happy young puppy who was just excited about life.

Except she was no puppy, Bob thought as he watched her butt bounce. No puppy at all. Images of things canine rushed into his mind ... bitches in heat ... doggy style ... Megan looking over her shoulder at him on all fours, invitation in her eyes ...

With a groan he turned toward the barn. He'd have to relieve the stress before he worked with the horses. If not, his tension would seep into them and his trainer would yell at him for exciting the animals. He never entered the house any more. Mrs. Holliday ran that as a Bed and Breakfast, and she didn't need any help from him. He had a little bedroom in the barn, built just in case he needed to spend the night at the farm. He had originally thought it might be a good little love nest too. It had been a long time since he thought of it that way, though.

Now, suddenly, he imagined Megan ... on that bed.

He hurried now, eager to let the growing lump in his jeans out to play.

"That's perfect!" squealed Raleigh, as her mother explained the agreement that had been made, earlier in the day. "Uncle Bob will be the perfect husband for you!"

"Pretend husband! And I don't know about perfect," sighed Megan, remembering how she'd felt in his arms.

"Besides, this way maybe you'll actually finally get some," said Raleigh, her face completely straight.

It took Megan a few long seconds to process what her ears had just heard. Then she had to convince herself it had actually been said. Only then did she react.

Except that response wasn't what the casual observer would have expected. Said observer would have expected Megan to yell at her daughter, or at least chastise her for such a bold and naughty suggestion. But Megan's reaction was defensive, rather than offensive. Like some men, to avoid crying in public, laugh during the sad parts of a movie, Megan's reaction to a concept so dangerously close to her own desires was to laugh as well. It released the tension inside her. Of course she felt compelled to explain ... or perhaps justify ... her laughter.

"That's the farthest possible thing from Bob's mind," she giggled, almost hysterically. Her nipples tingled, for some reason, and she almost reached to squeeze them through her blouse and bra.

Raleigh's reaction to that wasn't what that casual observer might have expected either.

"Don't be stupid, Mom," she said. "He's had the hots for you for years."

Megan did not want to have this conversation, mostly because she did not want to have to seriously entertain the concept of Bob and her in any relationship other than the safe, comfortable one they already had. She delivered what she thought was the closing salvo in the skirmish.

"That's silly, dear, and in any case, I would never consider ruining a perfectly good friendship that way. Now why don't we get supper ready? I'm starving."

Raleigh didn't respond verbally, but the look on her face was one that many a parent has seen before, that look that says "I do not believe my parental unit can be that stupid and uninformed about something so critically important." That's because she was quite aware of the way Uncle Bob looked at her mother, when her mother wasn't looking at him.

And she was also aware of how her mother looked at Uncle Bob, when he wasn't looking too.

That didn't present a huge problem, really. All she had to do was get them both to admit how they felt.

No ... the fly in the ointment, was that while she knew Uncle Bob made her mother's panties get damp ... he made Raleigh's panties get damp on a regular basis, too.

That was the problem.

Like many girls who grow up without a father, Raleigh had a bit less self-confidence around men than her peers did. While anybody you asked would pronounce her beautiful, popular and fun to be around, in her own mind that wasn't the case. Had Hamako been consulted, she would have responded "Confucius say, there are no mirrors in nature, where one can see one's own beauty."

If anything, she felt like an outsider most of the time. Only a couple of weeks from her eighteenth birthday, she could only think of seven or eight girls she felt comfortable being around, and many fewer boys. That's because at six feet, two inches tall, she towered above everybody except the other girls on the volleyball team. With the same flaming red hair as her mother, and full, firm thirty-six inch breasts, she looked a bit like an Amazon warrior princess. When she stared at you with her dark, blue eyes, you felt like there was some feline link in her DNA ... some connection to the big cats. Lush lips made the whole package delightful to look at ... from ten or fifteen feet away. And a lot of boys in the school had looked at her from distances like that.

But that didn't mean it was easy to ask her out. She'd been on dates, but was uncomfortable because the conversation always lagged. Boys didn't seem to want to talk about much. She knew what boys wanted. She'd heard all about what boys wanted from some of her friends who let boys do a lot of things on dates. And she knew she wanted ... something. The problem was that what that ... something ... was, wasn't clear in her mind, and she was the kind of girl who only did things when she was sure of why she was doing them, and what she wanted out of the deal. What she did not want was some boy trying to push her into something before she was fully ready for it.

Uncle Bob was the one man she felt completely comfortable around. Even when she was swimming in his pool, and his eyes raked over her bikini-clad body, all she felt was warm and happy. When he appreciated her, it felt fabulous. And she'd had lots of fantasies about what was going through his mind while he looked at her. She had even teased him from time to time to stoke those fires. Like many young women her thoughts were only partially formed, misty places that hid something she just knew would be fantastic ... but which also had a scary feeling about it somehow. She was in no hurry to find out what that fog hid. In the meantime, she'd just imagine it.

In fact, that was the problem that affected the whole Tomlinson triangle, as it were. Relationships with the opposite gender are the most complicated relationships there are. And that probably goes for any living creature. Ask the males in the genus of spiders called Latrodectus, of which the Black Widow is a member. Now that relationship is complicated!

While human inter-gender relationships are always complicated, the reason for the complication is not. It's simple biology. There is a natural urge in the female to search for an acceptable male to fertilize her eggs, and a natural urge in the male to do the fertilizing. What makes it complicated is that the women are choosy, while for the most part, the men are not.

And if that wasn't enough, the culture in which these humans exist tries to regulate sexual behavior. There are rules about who can fertilize whose eggs ... complicated rules.

Take, for instance, intrafamilial relationships. Family members are expected to be close, closer in fact than they are to others outside the bloodline. Family members are often willing to sacrifice their own lives, if that sacrifice will save others of the family. But that closeness is not approved, if it includes the afore-mentioned fertilization behavior. Even if both parties are all for it.

And if that isn't complicated enough, then there is the issue of definitions. In a situation like this one, Bob and Megan had no blood relationship, only a legal one. And maybe not even that, considering Bob's brother was dead. Neither his brother's nor his DNA was part of her body. So he was her "uncle" only in terms of a cultural custom, by which relatives of someone you married became your relatives, though only in a legalistic sense.

There are those who might take issue with this argument, by distilling it down to "No blood ... no foul." But that ignores the social and cultural conventions.

The point is, that Raleigh thought of Bob as her uncle. And Megan thought of him as her brother-in-law. Bob thought of them as blood family too.

And social convention says one doesn't lust after or have sex with her uncle ... or her brother-in-law. Even if they both want to.

It's complicated, for most people. And that's why in these people, as they contemplated bringing Bob into the house, to be in close, intimate contact with the two women, it generated some passionate, nervous energy.

It didn't matter that it was make believe. The fact it was temporary wasn't important.

What mattered was that the man both women loved, and who loved them, would soon be ... available ... in a new and disturbing way.

Bob moved in a week before Mr. Nakimura was due to arrive. They had argued about that, Megan suggesting he wait until two days before their arrival, while he wanted to come earlier than that. He said it was necessary for him to get used to the house and his role. That caused some consternation for two reasons.

First off, Megan, quite frankly, didn't want him walking around with bulging briefs any longer than necessary. She kept having dreams about that, and it was beginning to make her anxious.

Second, her plan had always been for him to sleep in the spare bedroom. The problem with that was that Hamako's classes had ended for the summer and she was required to vacate the dorm. In the past, she had gone to stay with her roommate, in South Carolina for the summer. They were best friends, and Hamako was like another daughter to them. But her presence was required to complete the negotiations, so she had to stay with Megan as well.

And she had already moved into the spare bedroom.

That meant Bob had to either sleep on the couch, or in a bedroom with one of the women.

"He can sleep with me," offered Hamako, her oriental features as inscrutable as the stereotype.

"What?" Megan gasped, unprepared for that "solution" to appear.

"In my room," said Hamako, demurely. "I don't mind." She glanced sideways at Bob, who was looking at her with interest.

"I didn't know you felt that way about me, Hamako," he said, half teasing.

"You never asked ... did you," she pointed out.

"Down girl," said Raleigh, who had hung around all morning, waiting for Uncle Bob to show up. "He's taken."

"Only for pretend," said Hamako, innocently.

"That will be enough of that!" snapped Megan, frowning. "He's old enough to be your father!"

"But he's not my father," said the girl.

"He will be sleeping with me!" growled Megan. She blinked and looked embarrassed. "I mean in my room!"

"That's fine," said Hamako. "But if he snores or something ..."

There was a long pause as Megan's scowl deepened. Finally Hamako laughed.

"You people are so serious about everything. I was only joking." She finally grinned. Then she turned to Bob. "Though you are cute, for a white guy."

He bowed formally. "I'll attempt to snore. Believe me."

The Japanese girl giggled and covered her mouth.

"Enough levity," said Megan. "We have plans to make, and speeches to rehearse. You girls fix us something to eat while I help Bob get his things situated."

The two girls scurried off, heads together, while Megan followed Bob out to this truck to start carrying boxes inside. They had to salt her house with his belongings, so that a casual visitor would believe he lived there.

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