The Making of a Gigolo (11) - Renee Zimmerman

by Lubrican

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

Chapter Five

If you've ever been driving down the street and seen a hooker, or someone you thought was a hooker, it's a safe bet that the primary thing in your mind was "what she does" for a living. You might even get an image in your head of her acting sexually. It's odd, in one sense, because that's not what you think when you see people in other lines of work.

If you talk to the mechanic who is going to work on your car, for example, you don't conjur up an image in your mind of him actually doing that. You just hope he'll be successful. It's the same with the sales clerk. He, or she, is just a person who you hope will help you find what you're looking for. Think of just about anybody you run into during a normal day and it's similar. Maybe you chat with these people, and take a brief, momentary interest in some facet of their lives. But what you don't do, more than likely, is imagine them performing the work that they do.

It isn't that way for someone in the sex trades. When you see that person, all you can think about is them ... in the performance of their ... duties.

That was Renee's problem. Once she knew Bobby "had sex with women who paid him," as she thought of it, that's all she could imagine him doing, whenever she saw him.

When he came to her house, in response to her request to begin planning the renovations, she didn't think of him tearing down walls, or building new ones. She didn't imagine him painting, or laying carpet. She couldn't visualize him setting a stool in place, or pulling electrical wiring.

All she could think about was him ... naked ... with women.

It would have driven her crazy, if he hadn't convinced her to start the renovation right away. What helped even more was that he insisted that she do a lot of the work with him.

It took three weeks of working side by side, and of helping him tear down walls, build walls, being taught how to paint by him, and then helping him do that, before she began to think of him as Bobby the builder more often than she thought of him as Bobby the sex machine. He taught her how to finish woodwork, and how to run electrical wires, and do plumbing. She watched hands that built things, and began to think of them as capable hands, rather than just hands that had stroked women's bodies.

They talked for hours, while they worked, about everything conceivable. He touched her and she touched him, in the process of building what was now the dream she could actually begin to see taking shape. They talked about things that made her laugh, and things that made her want to cry.

They were laying the last of the carpet when she had to take a bathroom break. She was sitting on the stool that she had helped install herself when the phone rang.

"Can you get that?" she yelled through the door.

"Sure," came his reply.

She walked out to find him chatting amiably on the phone with whoever had called.

"Yes, she's quite good at it, actually. I couldn't have hired a better worker. She's got an amazingly steady hand with a trim brush."

He looked up at her.

"Here she is ... hang on." He extended the phone. "It's your mother," he said calmly.

Renee felt frozen. This was a problem that had not been worked on, while she spent all her energy and mind on her dream. She took the phone and covered the microphone.

"You talked to her?" she gasped.

"You told me to answer it," he said, shrugging his shoulders. "She wanted to know who I was, and why I was answering the phone. I told her you were busy with the renovation, rather than telling her you were taking a leak." He grinned. "Did I say the wrong thing?"

"She doesn't know about the renovation!" hissed Renee.

"Oh," said Bobby. "She does now." He pointed at the phone. "She's waiting to talk to you."

Renee stared at the phone like it was a viper. She tried to calm herself and lifted it.

"Hi, Mommy," she tried to say brightly.

"What in the world is going on there?" asked her obviously curious and somewhat distraught mother. "What was that man talking about?"

"We're ... um ... renovating the house. I'm going to start a child care center here."

"What?" asked her mother. "You're going to tend other people's brats?"

Renee felt the heat of anger surge through her. Her parents were a constant source of angst in her life.

"I'm going to use my education to earn a living, Mother," she said, trying to keep the anger out of her voice.

"You don't need to earn a living, Renee," said her mother, authoritatively. "What is going on there? Where is Daniel? Why are you doing this, Renee?"

"Mother," said Renee firmly. "With Daniel gone, I do need to make a living, and I did go to college to learn how to help children. There is nothing dishonorable about working for a living, Mother."

"I'm coming down there!" declared her mother. "Something fishy is going on here, and I'm going to get to the bottom of it!"

"No, Mother," said Renee, just as stubbornly. "You are not coming here!"

"I most certainly am!" shouted her mother.

"Don't bother," said Renee. "I'll get a flight and be home tomorrow. Let's just get this over with," she said, her voice losing strength.

"Get what over with?" shouted her mother, so loudly that Bobby could hear it, standing three feet away from Renee.

"Some problems have developed," said Renee, sounding defeated. "I'll tell you about it when I get home."

"You'll tell me about it this instant!" yelled the woman.

"Goodbye, Mother," said Renee, her voice now sounding agonized. "I'll see you tomorrow." –

"Don't you hang up on me!" screamed the woman on the other end of the line.

Renee did just that, and sat down hard in a chair nearby.

"Well, that tears it," she said.

"You haven't talked to them at all ... have you?" asked Bobby.

"No," she sighed. "It just never seemed like the right time. I've been putting it off for weeks."

"I thought I told you to talk to them," he said.

"You did," she said, listlessly.

The phone started ringing again. Renee didn't move.

"You want me to get it?" he asked.

"What would you say?" she said listlessly.

"I'd tell her you were scampering naked through the house, packing to come home," he said, grinning.

She actually cracked a smile. "That would serve her right," she said, with a tiny giggle.

"Perhaps you should scamper around, packing to go home," said Bobby. "Not naked, of course," he added.

Renee looked up at him. Knowing what she now knew about him, she thought it was almost odd that he wasn't flirting with her. It made her wonder, for a few seconds, if she wasn't attractive, but then his comment about her cute butt fluttered in her mind.

He was just being a nice guy. The war within her mind about Bobby had faded, somewhat, as she worked next to him. It was hard for her to believe that he did all those things. The man she had seen was just a decent kind of guy. He never said anything unkind about anyone else, and he hadn't made a single pass at her. Yet, she caught him looking at her, now and then, with appreciation in his eyes. She recognized that, without vanity. It was just there ... not pushy or lewd ... just his eyes complimenting her.

The phone finally stopped ringing.

"We're so close to being done," she said, ready to argue about leaving.

"You know you have to go," he said.

"I know," she admitted, sadly.

The phone started ringing again.

"Okay, I'll go pack," she said.

She left the room and Bobby picked up the phone.

"Hello?" he said, as if he hadn't talked to the woman only moments before.

"I want my daughter on the phone right now!" said the woman.

"She's packing," said Bobby.

"Go get her," said her mother.

"Ma'am," he said, "with all due respect, your daughter is a grown woman, and when you try to treat her like she's still your little girl, I don't think it's going to help your cause. She'll be there tomorrow, and you can have a nice chat about things. Now, I have work to do, and it's costing your daughter money, so I'm going to get back to work."

"You're impertinent!" barked Mrs. Harqart. "You have no business answering my daughter's phone in the first place!"

"Well, then, I won't do it again," said Bobby, and he hung up.

He turned to see Renee, standing at the corner of the hallway, looking at him.

"Thanks," she said. "But it won't do any good."

"She can't live your life for you," said Bobby. "Nobody can. You are the only one who can decide where your life is going to go. You are a grown woman, regardless of how you feel about it."

"I don't understand you," she said, staring at him. "All those things you told me about ... what you do. They just don't make any sense."

"They don't have anything to do with you," said Bobby, "except that you'd have found out sooner or later, and I didn't want you to be blind-sided, like you were with your husband."

"You don't seem like that kind of person," she insisted.

"I'm just me," said Bobby.

"Why did you say that it doesn't have anything to do with me?" she asked.

He looked at her. "You have enough troubles already, without somebody like me chasing you around the dining room table." He grinned.

"You'd do that?" she asked, her voice rising.

"Only if you ran," he said, grinning more widely.

"You're flirting with me again," she accused.

"I thought you might need a little emotional lift, before you went off to see your Mamma." He blew her a kiss, and then leaned over to pick up the knee kicker, to finish stretching the carpet.

Linda tried, in the beginning, to stay true to her husband. She felt a little guilty that their first child was going to be Bobby's, but, after enduring two months without sex, she finally gave up and went back to having Bobby take care of the itch she couldn't get rid of any other way.

She thought she was being clever, but she forgot about Suzie, and the fact that Suzie knew what Bobby had been doing with Linda late at night.

Suzie heard the creak of a board in the hallway and knew that it had to be Linda. She suspected Linda was going to Bobby's room again. She didn't understand that. She didn't understand how Mary could have done it either. Linda had tried to explain it to her, but it hadn't made sense. Oh, it was clear that Bobby wasn't doing anything Linda didn't want, but she couldn't understand why Linda wanted that.

Ever since finding out, for sure, what was going on in Bobby's room, Suzie had looked at boys with different eyes. She knew teenagers had sex, of course. Everybody knew that. She even had a pretty good idea of which teenagers she saw at school were doing that, but the whole concept of "having sex" just seemed foreign to her. She had never looked at a boy and even thought about having sex with him, much less wanted to do so.

Not until she found out some of her sisters were having sex with Bobby. And those other women. Lots of women seemed to want to have sex with him.

She had lain awake in bed at night, thinking about that. She wasn't afraid of Bobby any more. She believed him when he said she was safe. She knew he loved her and wouldn't hurt her. Somehow, she knew he wouldn't let anyone else hurt her either, if he had his way about it. She knew she loved him too, but that was a misty kind of feeling that wafted in and out of her consciousness, without having real form. She loved her sisters too, but she didn't want to have sex with them.

Linda's explanation about it had been that it made her feel good and relaxed her. But she had Paul. Well, she had him before they broke up. But now she had him again. She was even married to him, and he had stayed in her room all night even! Except he wasn't here now. He was back at college.

And Linda was sneaking to Bobby's room ... just like before.

She sat up, listening. The creak was gone. She could go to the bathroom ... just to see if anybody was in the hall.

She stepped out into the hallway and stepped on the same creaky board that someone else had. Nothing happened though. Nobody stuck a head out of a door, to see who was there in the hallway.

She stepped quickly to the bathroom, which was dark, with the door open. She strained to listen, not knowing what she was listening for. Some errant noise, not quite identifiable, came from the direction of Bobby's room.

She tiptoed down there and paused, listening.

Voices. She heard quiet voices inside. Someone was in there with him ... and they were talking.

Curiosity bloomed in her, wanting to be satisfied. She couldn't just open the door. The last time she'd done that, she'd found Linda sitting on Bobby's lap, with her panties on the floor beside them. It had been terribly embarrassing to her, though she had tried hard not to show it.

She thought of the trees around the house ... trees she had climbed hundreds of times in years gone by. She concentrated, trying to remember if there was one outside Bobby's window.

Yes. A big sycamore, with lots of level, horizontal branches.

She scurried back to her room, mindless now of the creaks her feet caused in the floorboards of the hallway. She pulled on a thick, sheepskin jacket, then levered her feet into tennis shoes, without socks, and without untying them. Her legs she left covered with only her nightgown, so she'd have freedom of movement.

She tried to get down the hallway without making too much noise, and then down the steps. Going to the back door, off the kitchen, she eased it open and then jumped down all three steps, to the cold ground below. Running around the house, she didn't pay attention to the bite in the air, concentrating only on which tree would give her access to Bobby's window. Looking up, she thought it was odd that she had to figure out which window was his. She'd never thought about that before. It was easy though. His was the only window with light coming out of it.

She climbed easily and confidently, her tomboy muscles working like they always had, pulling her up, higher and higher. There were two branches level with his window, one above the other, which let her walk out on the lower one, while holding on to the upper. She had to lean, but as she did so, Bobby's bed came into view.

She sucked in breath and held it, unprepared for what she saw.

Linda wasn't sitting on his lap. She was lying down on his bed, and he was hovering over her, with his head above her loins.

Both of them were naked ... buck naked ... and her legs were spread ... right in front of his face.

Suzie watched, numbly, as his head lowered. She saw his tongue come out, and knew, instinctively, that he was going to touch her sister with it. When he did, her breath, held for many seconds, rushed out of her lungs, and she dragged cold air in harshly as she watched Bobby lick Linda's pussy.

There was no shred of doubt that that was what he was doing. Even though his face pressed to Linda's flesh, and Suzie could no longer see his tongue, she knew what it was doing. There was also no shred of doubt that Linda loved it. Her hands went to Bobby's head, and gripped his hair first; then let go and played with it, urging him on.

Everything about it looked strange to Suzie. She'd seen her brother a thousand times, but never stark naked, and never on his knees, with his pale butt sticking up in the air. In one sense, it didn't look like him at all. She'd seen Linda a thousand times too ... naked even ... but not like this. Not with this look in her eyes as she lifted her head and looked at the top of Bobby's bobbing head. That look ... the look on her sister's face ... made her look like a stranger too.

The bed was right inside the window. They were only four feet away. Suzie didn't worry about them seeing her, but that was handled on a subconscious basis. Her brain remembered trying to see out her own window at night, with a light on, and how hard that was to do. The glass separated them from her, but even so, she could hear, vaguely, the sounds from inside. There was Linda's voice, low, moaning, appreciative ... and wet, slurping sounds ... very faint, but still audible.

When Bobby suddenly lurched upward, Suzie leaned back automatically, but he paid no attention to anything outside the room. He stood on his knees, and something straight and thick stuck out from his groin. Suzie held her breath again, realizing it was his penis.

She'd seen him in his underwear. She'd even looked curiously at the outline of the thing his underwear hid. She had some concept of "penis", having seen them while she changed a diaper, but she wasn't prepared for it to look like this. It looked impossibly long, and impossibly thick. It wobbled, like it had its own muscles and was doing some bizarre exercise, bobbing and waving in front of him.

"I want it in me," came Linda's barely discernable voice through the glass.

Suzie watched, almost in horror, as Bobby fell onto his hands, looming over Linda, who reached ... with her own hand! ... for the thing drooping from his loins. She aimed it! She seemed to actually pull it toward her sex. And, when it got there, it disappeared into her body ... smoothly ... as if it were neither long nor thick. It was incredible ... unbelievable ... astonishing.

Yet it was happening right before her eyes.

Suzie felt her lungs burning, and let the air out of them, only to drag another lungful in. She realized she was panting, and that her knees and thighs were cold as ice in the winter air. Further up though, at the juncture of her own thighs, where her own sex lay, it wasn't cold at all. If anything, she felt hot and itchy there. It was a completely new feeling ... something she'd never felt before. She was intelligent enough to realize that she was reacting to what was happening right in front of her. She was seeing two people having sex ... real sex ... complete sex, and it made it hard for her to hold onto the branch above her head.

If there had been any doubt that Bobby's penis actually went inside Linda, that doubt was removed, when he pulled it out, and then slammed it back in, hard. Linda moaned, but there was no pain in that moan. It looked violent, as he did it again ... and again ... and again, but Linda didn't act like it felt violent. Suzie could see the muscles in his hips and back bunch up each time he thrust. She could see Linda's breasts wobble and jerk each time Bobby's loins smacked into hers. Linda's hands, stroking his shoulders, only added to the concept that this wasn't as violent as it looked. She was urging him on rather than trying to make him stop.

Suzie had never masturbated. She knew masturbation existed, but was unclear about the mechanics of it. She had felt tingles of pleasure as she bathed, sometimes, but they were quick and fleeting. A bath or shower was to be completed quickly, so you could get on with something more interesting. She had some concept that there was this thing called an orgasm, but that was a strange and misty concept too.

Linda, in the next few minutes, taught her what it looked like. As Suzie stared, and she saw and heard how Linda's body reacted to what was happening, it was like she was having a dream where things that didn't make any sense were happening. As in many dreams, it seemed very real, but was beyond clear evaluation and understanding. Her brain told her that Linda was having an orgasm, as her body jerked and moved erratically. Her hips jumped up at Bobby's, and her head flopped back and forth. Her mouth opened wide, but no scream issued from it. Her eyes went from wide open to being tightly closed. Faint words ... "Yes!" and, "I love you," and, "Oh yes Bobby!" eased through the glass.

Then, incomprehensibly, it all stopped, as Bobby pushed hard and froze, not moving at all. Linda still moved. Her hips still writhed up at him and her hands still moved over his shoulders and arms. It was like he had just run out of energy, suddenly, and couldn't move any more. Then his hips gave a little push, and then another, and another. Suzie could hear faint grunts from him. Slowly he dropped his face to Linda's and he kissed her on the lips. It was a long kiss and it didn't look violent at all.

Suzie stayed, welded to the tree branches, because she felt too weak to negotiate her way back down the tree to the ground. Because she stayed, she saw the tenderness exchanged after the violent looking activity. She saw Bobby pull his penis out of Linda, dripping with thick, white looking stuff that her mind told her was sperm. She saw Bobby make Linda get up and leave, when it was plain that Linda wanted to stay there. It wasn't until Linda put her nightgown back on, that panic struck at Suzie's frozen body, warming it enough to let her scramble back down the trunk of the tree, dropping the last five feet, in her hurry to get back into the house. Her frozen knee joints weren't ready for the shock of landing, and she tumbled, rolling in the leaves under the tree.

She got up and hobbled to the back door, easing her way in, and feeling the luscious heat inside the house begin to seep into her cold body.

For the first time, Suzie was glad that she and Linda didn't share a room any more, like they had for as long as she could remember. With Mary and Bev gone, the older girls now had their own rooms, and Suzie wouldn't have to explain why she was coming back into their room, wearing a jacket and shivering.

It seemed to take hours for her to get warm, huddled under her blankets, while her body shivered every fifteen or twenty seconds. Her mind kept replaying what she'd seen. She knew that bobby "had sex" with some of his sisters. Now she knew what that looked like ... what it meant. The idea of a man doing that to her was terrifying, no matter how happy Linda had seemed to be. The idea of being helpless under a man, while he shoved something long and thick into her body, made her weak in a horrible way.

Her last thoughts, as she finally found sleep, were that she was going to go to college. There would be no men ... no dates ... no boyfriends.

No one would ever do that to her.

The brain is an organ that is still little understood. It dwarfs the fastest computer, in terms of processing multiple streams of data at the same time. It works whether we're awake or asleep, both consciously and subconsciously. It does things we are never aware of automatically. The fact that we don't understand the brain, or why it does some of the things it does, has no impact on its functionality.

In Suzie's case, her brain processed all the information available to it while she slept. It accessed memories that she wouldn't even have been able to pull into conscious thought. It reviewed all her interactions with her big brother; from the time she was a toddler, clear up until she saw him fucking her sister.

There was conflicting information, as her brain reviewed all the times she had loved her brother more than anyone else on earth, and the times she'd hated him with the same passion. It reviewed every touch he'd given her, both loving and not so much, as well as memories of seeing him interact with other people.

And, while her brain recognized her decision to remain a virgin, quite possibly forever, it also determined that her big brother was no threat to that decision, regardless of what he did with other women. When she woke, Suzie's brain had rationalized, somehow, that what he did with those women - her sisters included - was a separate part of his life that posed no danger to her. She woke loving her brother, and trusting him implicitly. Had she tried to analyze that consciously, it might have caused her extreme stress. But her brain had done the heavy work while she slept, and, upon waking, she felt only the sense of calm that a person feels when she knows she has a plan for her life, and that everything for that plan is on track.

If someone had been watching her ... watching Bobby and Linda ... the night before, they would have been surprised in the extreme when she walked into the kitchen and hugged her big brother.

"What's that for?" he asked, hugging her back.

"I don't know," she said. "I guess I just love you," she sighed.

"Well it's very welcome," he said. "And I love you too."

"I know," she said, breaking away from him, to get something to eat.

Renee's trip back home would make a story in itself. Her parents went through the normal stages ... anger ... grief ... embarrassment ... and finally, thankfully, forgiveness. They had made mistakes in their lives too, and recognized, in their daughter, that she had been sincere in what she was trying to do. She stayed for four days, while they worked their way through the maelstrom of emotion.

Her mother, always practical, seized on the annulment as the answer to their "problem". No one had been told about the marriage. Everyone knew it was imminent, but it would be simple to frown sadly, and announce that there had been a breakup. She would sigh about the passions and difficulties of youth, and of making a relationship work, and then sigh some more and be verbally grateful that they had found out it wouldn't work before anything permanent had been done. Renee's mother was an expert at spinning the truth, to the family's benefit.

There was, in fact, an intense effort to rein in their wayward daughter, and get her to come back home, where she could benefit from the experience and guidance of her parents, while they managed her life for her. In a burst of resolve that surprised them all, Renee stood her ground. She had made serious mistakes, but she had learned from them. She was an adult, and had to make her own way. Her mother was still horrified that her daughter wanted to care for other women's children, like some kind of menial servant, but Renee wouldn't listen to reason.

With a final pledge to return often, Renee got into a cab and rode away. It wasn't until she was on the plane, heading back to the heartland of America, that the doubts assailed her. Building a child care center with Bobby was one thing. Making it work, and making a living with it, was going to be something entirely different.

She was a basket case, as she gathered her luggage, and tried to decide what to do next. Her first problem was apparent immediately. She had packed way too much to go home, taking four bags. Now, with three gathered around her feet, while she waited for the fourth, she wondered how in the world she was going to get back home with them. Bobby had dropped her off at the airport. There was no limousine service to take her to rural Kansas, no red caps, eager to make your life easy in exchange for a healthy tip. In Kansas, you fended for yourself.

The last bag came sliding down the ramp. It was the heaviest, and she struggled to lift it off the belt, before it was whisked away from her, and she'd have to wait another five minutes for it to come around again.

A hand reached past her and lifted the heavy bag effortlessly. "Let me get that for you," said a deep, and familiar voice in her ear. She turned, surprise on her face, to see Bobby standing there.

"Where did you come from?" she gasped.

"Well, it's a long story," he said, his face straight. "You see there are flowers, and they have pollen, and the bees have to spread it. It wasn't exactly like that with me, but similar."

She slapped at him, grinning with both the relief that he was there, and at his teasing.

"I called the airline and asked them if you were coming in on the plane," he said. "I thought you might need a hand."

"I do," she sighed.

"How'd it go?" he asked.

"Surprisingly well, I think," she said. "I'm here. I wasn't sure they'd let me come back."

"I'm glad they did," he said.

She stopped, and looked at him. "Why?" she asked.

Renee had done a lot of thinking while she was back home. She’d had plenty of time for that. She'd thought about this man, who was really two men at the same time. He'd been a great help to her. There was no doubt about that. But in her family's world, in which she was once again submerged, no one helped for no reason. People who helped you reach your goals wanted something in return. It was always tit for tat ... you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours, quid pro quo.

"Why am I glad they let you come back?" he asked, one eyebrow rising.

"Yes," she said, impatiently. "What do you want from me?"

"I didn't know I wanted anything," he said easily. "Except to get paid, of course. Your bill has been piling up." He grinned, like it was some joke.

"I'm a woman," she said, shocking herself that she was taking this further. "You're a man."

He cocked his head, looking at her with those devastating blue eyes of his.

"Uh huh," he agreed. "It's been that way ever since we met." He still had an almost smile on his face, and it drove her to distraction. She thought he was playing with her.

"Men usually want something from a woman," she insisted.

"I thought we already had this conversation," he said, picking up another suitcase. "I thought we decided you weren't interested in that."

"I'm not," she said stubbornly.

"Okay," he said, standing there. "I'm glad we straightened that out again." This time he did smile, and she wanted to scream.

He turned, abruptly, and started walking off. She had to grab at her two remaining bags, and hurry after him. Her mind complained that something wasn't right about this. He couldn't just show up, out of the blue, and upset her world again. He'd done that enough already.

He'd brought his car, and the luggage barely fit into the back seat. He didn't speak, even as they left the airport and got onto the maze of highways that led them through Kansas City to the Interstate, and then west.

She fumed for half an hour, until, with clarity that astonished her, she realized she was manufacturing reasons to be mad at him. He hadn't really done anything wrong at all. She was just trying not to like him, because liking him seemed dangerous somehow. He wasn't a monster or a leering letch. He was just a nice guy, who had a strange life that she couldn't comprehend. Once again, she ran down the list of things he'd done for her ... and hadn't tried to do with her.

She looked over at him. He was driving placidly in the right hand lane, while cars whizzed past them in the left.

"I'm sorry," she blurted.

"It's okay," he said, not looking at her. "You've had an emotional ride the last few weeks." He let ten or fifteen seconds go by and then added, casually, "Oh, I let myself in while you were gone and finished things up. You're ready to go whenever you feel up to it."

Just like that. Just like that, he forgave her bitchiness ... her stereotyping of him ... her efforts to drive him away. Why couldn't she have met a man like this instead of Daniel? She almost giggled, thinking of Bobby at Harvard. He'd stick out like a sore thumb. They'd eat him alive. He was a nice guy, and nice guys finished last.

She stopped right there. She was doing it again. She looked at him again. Somehow, at that point, she realized she was wrong. Nobody would eat this man alive. He might look different, and act different, than the men she was used to, but he would always rise to the top, somehow. She wondered what she was basing that opinion on ... where it had come from.

As she thought about it, she arrived at the conclusion that while nice guys might finish last ... they finished. The wild ones, like Daniel, wrecked their lives and sometimes wrecked the lives of others around them. They ended up alone and living lives that weren't really worth living. She thought about high-flying Daniel, and his friends. Where was Daniel now? He was locked in a tiny room, where he'd stay, maybe for the rest of his life. And the others - gone on to big careers, full of stress and danger. They could never relax, because someone was always trying to take what they had. She had seen it in her father, when she was home. Even in the midst of dealing with a "family emergency" he had conducted business, unable to relax and concentrate on only one thing.

Bobby had dropped everything to come take care of her. He wanted nothing in return. She believed that now. He hadn't pitched a fit when she had rejected the advances he hadn't even made. He hadn't said "Fine! Who needs you anyway, bitch?!" He hadn't pleaded, or flirted, or cajoled. She knew he was interested. A woman could tell. But he put her concerns first.

"Thank you," she said suddenly.

"You're welcome," he said.

"I mean it," she insisted, for some reason.

"I do too," was all he said in reply.

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