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Impressed!: A Novel of Woman Dominant
by K. L. Melvany

Category: Erotica/BDSM Erotica
Description: His heart was shanghaied by a forceful lady skipper. But when she pressed him into her service, she really made an impression on him!
eBook Publisher: Renaissance E Books/Sizzler Editions,
eBookwise Release Date: March 2010

eBookeBook

Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [177 KB]
Words: 38211
Reading time: 109-152 min.


CHAPTER I

Blake Ellis couldn't decide whether it was a great or a rotten day. Times like this were like yin and yang. The sun was warm, and as he drove toward the harbor he could tell from the flags, the palms, and the absence of smog there was a good breeze. He rarely had an opportunity to sail ahead of the weekend, and it was only Thursday. Further, Nancy had wed, so his alimony payments were over.

On the other hand, his job as an editor at the trade magazine, Adhesive Currents, had finished along with the journal itself; its name had always annoyed him as a sluggish oxymoron. Now he would have to sell the boat before the slip fees tore into his severance parachute, more gossamer than golden, and job prospects right now were slim. Parting with his little sloop would be almost like losing part of himself or his identity. It would be really sad.

He decided it didn't matter. The day was what it was; however it might seem to him at that moment. He would sail to Catalina and have a fine few days while he contrived some kind of game plan. The firm's folding had been so sudden that neither Jorge Greenwood, nor other of his sailing buddies was available. Of course, they were working, but single-handing a twenty-six foot boat is hardly a Herculean feat for a man not yet forty, and he'd done it several times before.

It had become clear to him he should never have married Nan. She couldn't be properly called a Puritan, but sex always seemed to be a favor or privilege she granted him, if not reluctantly, without enthusiasm. He discovered to his accumulating disappointment it wasn't 'important' to her. Weeks passed without congress. His advances were often rebuffed in a way that made him feel unworthy or even lewd.

Her love for him, if that was what it was, seemed to him an abstract feeling she had, remote from the flesh. As she was a very attractive looking blonde, his feelings for her were more physical, but her looks hid a worried and pessimistic persona. She evinced little joy. Though not a churchgoer, she had in his opinion been damaged by a Christian childhood, and retained vestiges of notions like salvation and sin that were beyond his comprehension. It had become a miserable match and he hoped she would be happy in her new life, but didn't see how.

Blake arrived at the marina, a pretty, palm-dotted scattering of red tile roofed buildings adjacent to an essentially industrial zone of freighter berths, container cranes, and warehouses. He stowed his gear and a cooler of provisions aboard, warmed up the outboard motor, and cast off. When he had room to head Flika into the wind, he raised her mainsail then the jib, trimmed them, killed the engine, and swung it up on its bracket so it wouldn't drag.

The island of Santa Catalina, a roughly twenty-seven by five mile chunk of Baja California, lies some twenty miles south of Los Angeles Harbor. It's geologically unrelated to the local mainland, and the San Pedro Channel that separates them reaches depths of four hundred sixty-odd fathoms, well over two thousand feet.

Outside the nine-mile long breakwater that contained Long Beach and L.A. Harbors he could feel the long Pacific swells move under him. By noon he was half way to Isthmus Cove on the island's north coast, but thinking of the crowd the weekend would usually bring there, he tacked, and made for West End. A much longer sail, Catalina Harbor on the backside of the island was less popular. A fjord nearly cutting the island into one third west, and two-thirds east, Cat Harbor, as it's often called, is the only island anchorage protected against weather from any direction.

He had a sandwich and a beer. For the last while he'd been forced to sail somewhat away from the island in order to gain a position, vis a vis the wind, from which he could lay West End. He rounded the point at four o'clock. The north side can look green and lush after some rain, but the back side, exposed to the open Pacific, is bleak and barren; vertical rock faces plunging deep below the surface that breaks against them in waves becoming high-tossed spray glittering in the lowering sun.

He studied the lapidary layers tilting up from the sea reminding him of a geology field trip as he sped eastward. In the wide entrance he fired up the engine, dropped canvas, and continued in. The place was virtually empty; only three of the several dozen mooring cans were taken: a modern forty-foot sloop, a commercial fishing trawler, and thirty-odd foot cabin cruiser. Blake chose one of the furthest out cans, as it would be quieter than ones close to the dinghy dock. By six he was on a mooring can, with the jib bagged, and the main furled and covered.

He went below, sat on a bunk, and rolled a doobie. He'd have liked to have gone to the restaurant, but it meant inflating the dinghy, rowing to the dock, and hoofing to the Channel side. And back. It seemed too big a production after all day on the helm. He'd discovered long ago that being on a small boat all day, even not on the tiller, involved a lot of unconscious isometrics. He cracked a beer, ate the other sandwich, and pulled out his fat paperback copy of Robert Burton's 17th century masterpiece, The Anatomy of Melancholy that both matched his mood and made him smile. The only sounds he could hear as he turned off the light were Flika's comforting little squeaks and the lapping of ripples at the waterline.

* * * *

CHAPTER II

Next morning, lying half awake, luxuriating in having nowhere to go at someone else's specified time, he heard female laughter, an outboard motor start and move away till only Flika and liquid broke the silence. Eventually he rolled out of the bunk, wrestled the bundled dinghy and foot pump to where he could grab them, and opened the forward hatch. He put on his shorts, and went on deck.

"My God!" he said aloud. Not five boat lengths off lay a motor yacht that was a hundred and fifty feet long if it was an inch (a hundred and sixty-two, it turned out). It was white and racy with a swept back look that made it seem knifing forward even when moored -- maybe Italian. A derrick arm with an empty hook dangling three feet above the water stuck out toward him from the upper deck. Some movie star, Blake figured.

He put the pump at the base of the mast, and pulled the dinghy out. As he unrolled it he saw he was being watched by a swarthy white-haired man on the partly roofed afterdeck of the yacht. He wore white trousers and a navy polo shirt.

"Ahoy there!" the man called. "That is a wonderful looking boat you have there! It is made of wood, yes?"

Blake straightened up. "'Morning! It is, for a fact."

"Bismi'llah! It doesn't look local. Where was it built?"

"Sweden."

"When?"

"1948. Last year the yard called me. They had to replace a rotten plank, and found it was an original! We were all surprised as hell. She's a Tumlaren. Some of 'em were sailed over!"

"It is not to be believed that someone would cross an ocean in such a small thing! Such courage! Or perhaps foolishness."

"Well, it's been done in smaller, but I agree. This one wasn't sailed here; it was trucked out from Chicago years ago by a previous owner."

"It is one of the prettiest boats I've ever seen, pointed at both ends like that."

"Typical of Scandinavian boats, even motorboats. They build a lot of double-enders. Yours looks Italian."

"You are correct in the design, but it was built in Turkey." The man laughed. "So. Are you alone?"

"Yes."

"Have you had breakfast then?"

"Not yet."

"Well, we'll make you some. Uncivilized to eat alone."

"That's extremely kind! Be over in a bit."

"Oh, never mind about that. I'll send a boat."

"No need. This'll only take a few minutes."

"So will the boat and no exertion."

"Okay!" Blake shouted enthusiastically. He hurried below, to brush his teeth and get a shirt on. He had not even brought a razor. He was back on deck in time to see another derrick up on the side away from him, and a speed boat appear around the yacht's stern. It was alongside in a moment, driven by a hulking blond weightlifter type in a starched white shirt with blue epaulets who said, "Hi. I'm Heinz." Blake introduced himself.

The man in white pants met him at the top of the stairs from the landing stage. Blake guessed him in his seventies. He held out his hand, saying "I'm Saddiq Al-Saadi. Call me 'Dicky' as my friends do." They shook hands, Blake giving his name. Al-Saadi was not a movie star, but had an import-export business of some sort. "Now what do you fancy for breakfast, young man? Isabel is going to make me eggs Benedict. I suggest you do the same, if you like them; she makes real hollandaise."

"I'm on," said Blake, eyeing the afterdeck with a set table enhanced with a vase of fresh flowers.

"Very well." He disappeared briefly and returned saying, "How about a bloody Mary while we're waiting?"

"Why, thank you. You know, I assumed you were Muslim, and I didn't think --"

"Oh, never mind about that," he said moving to the bar at the forward end of the afterdeck. "I'm not religious, nor a Turk, but they're almost all Muslim and have been distilling raki forever."

"What is it?"

"Spirits. A bit like ouzo, you know?"

"Yes. Anise."

The drinks were good and stiff. They talked of boats. Joy, as the yacht was named, had Heinz as mate, Isabel and her husband Frank as cook and steward, and a kid named Keith as deckhand, general flunky, and diesel genius, but no paid captain; Al-Saadi ran her himself. Blake was surprised.

"You put this in the slip yourself."

"Oh, yes. It has twin screws and bow thrusters. It is not hard unless there is a strong crosswind, but now I have an end tie. We Arabs have been navigating forever. We named the stars. Our lateen rigs introduced fore-and-aft sails to Europe. It is in my blood. And I have a 100-ton license from the U.S. Coast Guard." They laughed.

"This has to be well over 100 tons."

"Oh, it is. That presented a slight problem."

"How did they find out?"

"Because I have paid hands -- employees -- aboard, I had to have a safety inspection. The vessel passed, of course, but the Coast Guard said I could not move it until someone with a 1600 ton license was captain."

"I see you're here. What did you do?"

"I was able to meet with the local commandant, an actual admiral, and admirable, too. A rational man, so I persuaded him it was okay."

"Jesus! What did you tell him?"

"Ah, Blake. I like that about you: so American and upright. It was not what I told him, although I did explain my sea-faring experience with the usual sailor's embellishments. Anyway, I made it right with him, so never mind about that. As you observed, I am here."

"And Heinz. Does he know how to manage all this?"

"Ah, our Heinz. He knows some things, but really"--he lowered his voice and leaned across the table -- "he is sort of our palace eunuch. I've a daughter, you see. I think Heinz and Keith are -- uh -- uh --"

"Lovers?" guessed Blake.

"So direct! So American. Like my daughter. Yes, perhaps. No. Were I to drop dead, Amina would take over. She knows more."

The food arrived with a silver thermos pitcher full of coffee. The service, napery, and tableware were like those in the restaurant of an expensive hotel, and the hollandaise maybe better.

"I have few worries, but I worry about my daughter who is here with her dearest friend."

"Here?" asked Blake.

"Yes. They went for a dive. Both fine young women, but sometimes I wonder.... No. She's had boyfriends, fine chaps most of them seemed to me, but none ever lasted. My wife died five years ago, and I suppose it's our fault really. She was spoiled before her mother died, and maybe worse after. Trust fund baby. You know: she wants to -- to call all the shots, yes? You will meet her."

"Mr. Al-Saadi--"

"Dicky. Please."

"Dicky, I didn't expect to meet anyone at all and certainly not a young lady dressed -- if you can call it that -- as I am. I didn't even bring a razor!"

"Never mind about that. Heinz will take you back to your boat. You take what you want, and I will lend you whatever you lack, razor, shower, whatever." He glanced at the gold Rolex on his wrist. "We will have cocktails about five, but come earlier. It would be nice if you were here when the girls arrive. Before you go, do you want the grand tour?"

"Sure!"

"We will -- uh -- take it from the top, yes?"

They ascended to the bridge where the wheel was a disappointment, a little three-quarter round thing not as large as an automobile's. Most maneuvering was done with a joystick, but the bridge had everything, radio, radar, sonar, GPS, loran, another radar, and separate engine controls for each of the twin diesels.

Two narrow stairways led down. "That forward one goes to the crew's quarters," said Al-Saadi. They descended the other to the main salon. Another set of stairs, this one wider, spiral, and elegant, curved down to a hallway with paneled doors. Al-Saadi opened one, and said, "Owner's suite." It occupied the entire width of the vessel, and included an office alcove, a sitting room, a closeable bed area, and a head with double sinks, tub, shower, and a separate toilet and bidet.

Only two of the other five staterooms were in use. Al-Saadi opened a door, revealing an open suitcase and a chaos of strewn female clothes and shoes. "Beverly's room," said Al-Saadi. Another door showed nothing but a half-empty sea bag and a woman's wide-brimmed straw hat on a made bed. Whatever else there might be had been stowed. "Amina's room," he said. The other staterooms were guest ready, but empty.

They navigated down another narrow stairway, nearly a ladder, and entered the engine room, clean and bright with fluorescent tubes lighting a pair of massive diesels. Joy was more ship than boat.

Back in Flika, Blake pumped up the dinghy, and went below to see if he had anything halfway presentable, but nothing seemed good enough. He took it anyway and rowed ashore. He ran for half an hour, during which he saw some bison and a bald eagle, rowed back, settled in with The Anatomy, and fell asleep. At three-thirty he rowed over to Joy.

The head in the owner's suite was all marble and stainless with a pile of snowy towels. Frank, the steward, had laid out drawers, a pair of white socks, crisply pressed khaki Bermuda shorts, and a polo shirt, but no shoes. His salt-stained deck moccasins with the brass eyelets turning green had to be worn. Martinis were waiting when Blake came on deck.

"Tell me, Blake, what do you do?"

"Wrong tense. Did. I was an editor at a trade magazine. Adhesives."

"So you are out of work. I'm sorry. That was uncharacteristically direct. You are between jobs."

"Correct." They both laughed, but Al-Saadi more heartily.

"Never mind about that. You are in a good position. As Mir 'Ali Haravi said centuries ago, 'The pen is an elegant key to one's daily bread.'"

"What I did was neither literary nor lofty, and I doubt that key will fit many locks near term, or maybe even in the future. Hell! No one reads anything except tech manuals when they have to. Mesmerized by a monitor, more and more kids can only tap or print; they can't read or write a running hand. Fifty percent of our college graduates can't find Brazil on an unlabeled map of the world. It's ridiculous! I should have stuck with chemistry. A B.A. in English Lit and two dollars might get you a cup of coffee in some places. Sorry for the rant."

Al-Saadi was grinning broadly. "Not at all, Blake! You are droll! I love that word. I love this language. Do not denigrate English; it has the largest vocabulary on earth. I do appreciate your anger at ignorance. I thought maybe I was becoming -- an old fart, yes? But look at us Arabs. Since the reign of the Caliph Mamoun -- what is that? 1360 or something? -- we have translated into Arabic about the same number of books that Spain translates into Spanish every year! So what is on the shelves, beside the Koran? Ah! Commentaries on the Koran! And commentaries on the commentaries! To be direct, it is a lot of bullshit. Our young know nothing of history, science, philosophy, or literature. So let us rail together, Blake, against ignorance and superstition!" He poured another round.

"Hear, hear!" said Blake.

"Have you ever worked for a woman?"

"No. Is your daughter hiring?"

Al-Saadi laughed. "No. Sorry. She is a lawyer. I was merely curious. Only recently I am beginning to get used to American women, mostly through Amina's efforts. They seem so powerful to me. I try to imagine having to obey a woman."

"Hey. If it's your position to give orders, you give 'em. If it's to take orders, you obey 'em. I mean biz is biz, right?"

"But in the domestic sphere, marriage for example."

"Oh. That's a whole other thing, Dicky! That has to be negotiated."

"Beforehand?"

"Sure."

"A prenuptial agreement?"

"Doesn't have to be that formal. By the time two people decide to get married we assume they both have a fair idea of what they're getting into."

"That assumption is clearly false in about half the cases in this state."

"Yeah. Dismal. There's an old Quaker saying: 'If your head is wax, don't walk in the sun.'"

"I like that, Blake. 'If your head --'"

The sound of an approaching motor caused both men to rise and go to the rail. Half a mile off they could see a small boat at speed, throwing a big bow wave. Shortly a 17-foot Boston Whaler with a center console was at the steps.

The two women in it, despite being zipped into black wetsuits, looked to Blake like shampoo or toothpaste models. Apparently thirty at most, they were gorgeous. Because the L.A. area is a major locus of the motion picture, television, and fashion industries the standards set for women's beauty are impossibly high, and thus usually met with makeup, lighting, soft-focus lenses, and Adobe Photoshop. The two divers, just standing in the sun and wind, would meet any standard. One, obviously Al-Saadi's daughter Amina, was small and dark with long wavy black hair. She wore air force style aviator shades. The other, wearing black wrap-around sunglasses, was tall, fair, and had a mass of light brown hair curls.

Amina made the boat fast, and spoke to an open porthole. "Keith, would you please fresh-water rinse and stow our BCDs and stuff? Thanks!" She followed the tall woman up the steps.

"Beverly Baum," said Al-Saadi when she'd gained the deck, "this is Blake Ellis."

They said, "Hi" simultaneously and shook hands.

Now Amina was among them, stopping short of hugging her father. "I'll get you wet. Oh, Daddy! The visibility was fabulous! Like Bali! We saw a huge grouper and all kinds of neat stuff and a wreck."

"This is Blake Ellis, Amina."

"Oh, Blake! I'm sorry!" She sounded slightly British and actually blushed. They shook hands, hers small and perfectly manicured. "It was a great pair of dives! I got carried away. Do you dive?"

"No, I try to stay on top of the water."

"Is that your boat?" She pointed at Flika.

"That's it."

"Then you're the reason we're here!"

"What?"

"Yes! Oh, I don't mean at the island. Usually we're even further out, but when I saw your boat, it's so sweet I wanted to be close. I just love it!"

"Thank you. Would you like to buy her?"

"I might. Is she for sale?"

"You cannot sell such a treasure!" said Al-Saadi.

"Have to. At this point, everything I have is for sale! I've got to be more liquid."

"Yes." She admired him for a moment. "You do look solid." She laughed. "You came by yourself?"

"Yes."

"Cool! We've got to get out of these things. You'll be here for dinner, I assume, so I'll see you in a bit."

The women went in, and the martinis had worked their charm on Blake. "Dicky, your daughter's been dating fools. She's beautiful, educated, and rich. Ergo I conclude her suitors have been fools."

"I suppose she is in a position to be discriminating. The ones I met did not appear to be fools. She is not attracted to such, but as I said, she's spoiled and wants to be indulged."

"Then I hope she finds a man a good deal richer than I at this moment."

"I don't mean financially. She is more than capable of indulging herself in that regard, but in other matters I suspect she can be quite demanding. I think that is the problem."

"Demanding what? What does she want?"

"To be in control. Most men are not ready to give that, but she is a good girl, kind and in no way hurtful."

"Maybe they're just not secure enough."

"That could be, I suppose."

When the women returned they were stunning. Before, they'd looked like models off duty, now they appeared flawlessly made-up and camera ready for a studio. Beverly wore tailored jeans and a baby blue cashmere twin set with pearls, while Amina sported white flannel bell-bottoms and a navy tee with "Joy" in red glitter script across its amply mounded front. It had gotten cool. She had a white angora sweater over her shoulders, a bunch of gold bangles on her right wrist, and the ugly, diamond-studded gold Rolex, a badge among certain women, on the left. They projected glamour, a quality Blake had associated with celebrities.

He could manage only "Wow!" which cracked everyone up.

"Your shoes," said Amina.

"I'm afraid they're the only ones I brought," apologized Blake.

"Oh, no! They're cool! They're the real deal. They prove you're an experienced sailor. I know people who try to make their new ones look like that."

Blake basked in her approval, and dinner (half avocado with shrimp salad, duck a l'orange with asparagus spears, a green salad, and chocolate mousse) was excellent and informative.

"When you two came alongside I thought you were models," admitted Blake.

"Cool! Thank you!" said Amina. "I'm a lawyer, but Bev's the real thing."

"What kind of ads?" asked Blake.

"Mostly print," replied Beverly. "Fashions, cosmetics, that kind of thing. And a little TV." She briefly clamped closed her eyes, grasped her head in both hands, and made a hideous grimace. "Pain killers. A product I needed after that shoot. You work with some real assholes, you should pardon the term."

Amina added, "And she acts."

"Up," said Beverly, "according to Ami. I do some little theatre, but that's for free to hone skills. It's not a job, though I've met a couple of casting directors, and have been an extra a few times. That's fun and easy."

"I understand you're old friends."

"Since Beverly High," the women said in unison, and cracked up.

"You see," said Al-Saadi, "Jews and Muslims can get on."

"As long as they're all atheists," said Amina. This cracked everyone up.

Coffee was served, and Al-Saadi offered Blake a cigar. "Cuban," he said. "I have connections." Blake declined.

"Oh, good," said Amina. "I don't like kissing smokers."

"Amina! You must excuse my daughter, Blake. She is so terribly forward."

Blake, loving it, said, "I don't mind a bit" while Amina was saying "Oh, Daddy! Don't be stuffy!"

It had become cool, and a light breeze had sprung up. Amina donned her sweater, looked at Blake in the polo shirt, said, "I've just the thing!" and got up.

"No. I'm fine," said Blake, but she'd gone.

She returned bearing something red trimmed in black fox. "Here," she said, putting it around his shoulders. He sensed her perfume and could feel the material's softness.

"I don't really need this, but thank you very much."

"I want you to wear it. I like pampering my friends, and it makes me more comfortable, being certain you're not cold."

"What is it?"

"It's a ruana, a sort of poncho, but instead of just a hole, it's slit all the way to the edge. I think they're Peruvian."

"Yeah, but not this one," said Beverly. "Not cashmere and fur!"

Al-Saadi finished his cigar, and said, "I'm going to bed." He kissed the women on both cheeks, and went in.

"Oh good! Now we can smoke some grass. Let's go in."

"Your father knows you do pot," said Beverly.

"Yeah, but I don't like doing it in front of him."

They went into the main salon that with its dark velvet draperies and fringes on everything looked like the overdone lobby of a boutique hotel. "My mother, the begum," Amina excused it. "An old-fashioned, unsophisticated woman, ignorant, but intelligent." She went below and came back with an inlaid teak box from which she rolled a fat joint. Blake found it a turn-on, watching the point of her tongue lick closed the cigarette. She lighted it, took a big hit, and passed it to Beverly who did likewise. Blake found the joint's wetness on his lips an intimacy intellectually thrilling.

"Ask him that riddle," urged Beverly, and took her turn.

"Okay. A father and his natural daughter are driving in a car. There's an accident. The father's killed, the child injured. She's rushed to the hospital, where the surgeon on duty says, 'I can't operate. It's my child.' What's the explanation?"

"And the dead man's not a stepfather."

"Right."

"The doctor's the kid's mother."

The women grinned in surprise, and Amina kissed him on the cheek. "You got it. And quickly. That's good sign. It stumps a lot of people." She put what was left of the doobie in an ivory holder.

Beverly took a hit, and trying not to exhale said, "We were bad in high school. Ami--" She exhaled. "Turned me on to the 'Mandy and a brandy' business."

"What's that?"

"In England," Ami explained, "Quaalude is called Mandrex. We used to think that and a cognac were splendid. Haven't done anything like that in years."

"What kind of law do you do?"

"Some civil rights -- largely anti-defamation, but I guess mostly spousal and child abuse and sexual harassment cases."

"Oh, Jesus! I'd better behave myself."

"I hope you do. But what if I want to harass you?"

"I wouldn't sue," said Blake happily.

"Ami, you're speeding," warned Beverly.

"No, it's all right." Blake was still grinning.

"You don't know Amina."

She was rolling another number. "Bev would make me out some kind of ogress. I'm not. It's just that I want everything my way exactly right. Doesn't everybody? And I figure if I can manage it, I should do it. It's selfish I know, but I'm gentle." She licked it closed and fired it off.

"There was a famous department store in Chicago called Marshall Field's," said Blake. Field's motto was 'Give the lady what she wants.' The store was a great success. I think it's a fine motto, but a lot of women want what the man hasn't got to give."

"You mean money?" asked Beverly.

"Money, prestige, all that."

"She's got all that."

"Then what? Super-stud?"

"Just an agreeable man, Blake," said Amina, holding her breath.

"Are we that hard to find?"

She exhaled. "Very. You understand, of course, the agreeable man is one who agrees."

"I see."

"I doubt it, but I do hope you do. Or will." The long look she gave him made him uncomfortable.

"To what would I be agreeing?"

"Ah, 'there's the rub!'" She laughed and took both his hands in hers. "To whatever I, Amina, Calipha of California by the grace of Allah, command... as long as it's not illegal, hurtful, or financially ruinous. I made up 'Calipha.' There is no such thing." Her small, brilliantly white teeth behind perfectly painted lips dazzled him.

"It shall be as you say, mem sahib," Blake bowed his head.

"That's African. I think 'begum' is the term, but I hope it's true. It would be fantastic!"

"I'm whipped," said Beverly. "I'm off to bed if I can find my stateroom. See you tomorrow."

"Sleep tight, Bev," Amina called after her. "Me, too, Blake. I'm going to crash. The dives did me in." She rose as did he. "I'm out of shape."

He looked her up and down. "Could've fooled me."

"You're sweet. I know what I said about smokers, but now we're both tainted." She threw her arms around him and kissed him. It wasn't a peck on the cheek, but long, open mouthed, and deep. It stirred him.

"You do find me attractive."

"My God, Ami! You --"

She put her hand across his mouth. "Shush. Tomorrow. Sleep well."

He did -- finally, but the kiss had hardly been soporific, and his hands smelled of her perfume.


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