“When did she disappear?”
“Four years ago.” My companion hardly looked old enough for this to be plausible. She examined her manicured nails and sighed. “She’d be seven now. More coffee?”
“No, thank you.”
She sipped hers, deep in thought. I scanned the sunny backyard, noting the jungle gym in the far corner. The lost girl had been an only child. I wondered at the woman’s serene composure.
“How do you manage?”
“Therapy.” A wan smile. “I’ve learned the five stages.”
“You mean, like the stages of grief?”
“A bit. But simultaneous. Grief is the first. Every day I spend some time in despair.”
I nodded. “And the others?”
“Acceptance. I have to realize I may never see her again. Then there’s service. Like volunteering for the lost child hotline. And giving this interview.”
“Which I appreciate.”
“Stage four is continued investigation. I have a top PI on retainer. I’ll know as soon he finds a shred of new evidence.”
I tapped some notes into my tablet. “And stage five?”
She smoothed her hands over her designer slacks. Her lips tightened into thin line as she met my gaze. “Retribution. I won’t rest till I’m holding his bleeding balls.”
We’ve been making out for more than an hour in his dad’s car, parked by the fields on the outskirts of town. I’m on fire from his roving hands, his evergreen cologne, the masculine roughness of incipient beard on his high-school-boy cheeks. I’m eager to lose my innocence, to step through the gateway into womanhood.
He’s ready, too. He’s stashed a blanket in the trunk. A full moon rides among the stars over our heads. Hand in hand we wade through the tall grass to the top of the hill. I strip, feeling his eyes on me, knowing my own power. He does the same. His erection is massive, scary, thrilling. Power indeed!
From his discarded jeans he pulls a condom. Fascinated, I watch him tear the foil, extract the limp bit of latex, try to roll it down over his cock. It’s not working.
“Can you help?”
I’ve touched him before, even stroked him to messy climaxes, but now my hands are clumsy. The head is inside, but the rest seems stuck. As I fumble, his cock wilts.
Finally we lie defeated on the blanket, in each other’s arms.
Guess we weren’t ready after all.
For the Queen
“It’s not true, you know.”
“Castration doesn’t eliminate sexual desire. Not when you’re cut after puberty.”
“You still feel aroused? You still want women, even after—”
“And men. Eroticism begins in the mind, Eleanor. Imagination is a potent aphrodisiac. When someone attracts me, I start spinning fantasies. Usually, of course, I don’t act on those notions, but they’re surprisingly satisfying.”
The chief eunuch gives an enigmatic nod.
“Why did you do it?” I can’t conceive of a motivation compelling enough to make me give up my breasts or my clit—which I notice is tingling due to this turn in our conversation.
“For the Queen. She needed my counsel, my wisdom, my admittedly Machiavellian skills, to develop into the steel-spined ruler the kingdom needed. She was so young when she came to the throne. But she already understood the distractions and dangers of sex.”
“Does she know?” Our Majesty is no longer a green girl.
A buttery smile stretches his pudgy cheeks. “She guesses. She trusts me now.”
I should be wary of this powerful creature, but I can’t resist.
“How–when you’re aroused, how do you–?”
He lays a soft hand on my thigh. “Let me show you.”